Monday, September 28, 2009

Tahoe Sierra 100 2009

The week was going extremely well, despite the sharp pains in my chest and constant ache due to the broken rib I’d sustained the week before due to a crash on my mountain bike. I was feeling strong and confident and looking very forward to racing the new Tahoe Sierra course that weekend.
I was racing a geared FS versus the singlespeed hardtail which I had raced last year and I was pretty darn confident that I would be able to improve upon my seventh place finish from the year before. I was convinced that not only would my bike aid me in completing the course faster, but that I was also stronger than I had been last year and I honestly thought that I might even land on the podium… My legs had other plans for the day, unfortunately.
Tahoe Sierra was an entirely different event than it was in 2008. A new start finish and a new, more challenging course made it seem as though it was a brand new event. I left work at six pm on friday evening and drove up to the ice lakes lodge where we would be starting the race bright and early the next morning. The lodge was a slight upgrade in accomodations compared to last year’s tent city built at the end of Mosquito Ridge Road… Slight. The lodge was only a stone’s throw from the freeway and not only that, but the staff was on hand and the lodge’s resturaunt and bar were open the evenings before and after the race. Shoot, they even served breakfast extra early the morning of the race just to accomodate the race. Certainly different than sleeping in a tent and freezing your butt off while you sit in your sleeping bag eating a bowl of oatmeal before your race start.
Nearly all of my fellow races were chummin it up at the lodge when I arrived. I said my ‘hellos’ to the usual suspects: Jim, Lisa, Mike Harrison, Jay, Sean McDevitt, and of course, Tinker. I was feeling like I could give him a run for his money in tomorrow’s race. The legs were good, the lodge was warm and friendly, and there was plenty of food for dinner and for breakfast, what could go wrong?
I slept pretty misearably that night, there was an eighties music marathon pumping from someone’s stereo across the lake and the sounds of oingo boingo drifted over the calm water and straight into the open patio door of our room until after ten pm. I’d like to blame the music for my poor slumber, but I don’t think it had much to do with it. I was nervous. I was thinking about my ribs and how sleeping on the floor was so painful at that moment, and I was thinking about facing Tinker once again when the sun came up in a few short hours. That’s enough to make anyone nervous, right?
The alarm went off at 5:30 am and I was up and dressed within a few minutes. I wanted to get up to breakfast and out to my bike to lube the chain and what not and make sure everything was tight as soon as possible. Heck, I even wanted to try to get a warm up in. That didn’t happen. There just wasn’t enough time before the race start to get everything done, so the warm up got cut from the agenda and before I knew it, we were standing on the start line preparing to hurl ourselves down Soda Springs Road and into a day of suffering.
The descent went okay for me, I was lucky enough not to experience one of the many flats that claimed riders straight out of the gate. In fact, on the day of the Tahoe Sierra 100, the descents were about the only thing that went well. On the first series of climbs, I didn’t think much of it when my legs refused to apply any power to the pedals but could only spin instead. They were just cold, and needed a few miles to warm up, that’s all. Unfortunately, I felt like this the entire day. Every single climb felt like the first climb of a training ride and my legs simply never found anything that resembled a rhythm of any sort.
As the race went on, I got weaker and weaker and slower and slower. I got frustrated for a time because it’s generally my tendancy to find my legs on the course and to get stronger and stronger as the day goes on. To my dismay, I was forced to use some of the lowest gears on the bike in sections of the course where I would never even consider doing so on most days. I was looking down at my cassette with disbelief over and over again throughout the day. A+B did not equal C. I was absolutely destroying myself, my legs were on fire, I felt as though I was putting in a Herculean effort to turn the pedals over, and yet I was turning a supremely low gear and just barely moving up those climbs.
It was frustrating for a time. But, after about four hours of fighting with my legs and bike to try to convince them to work as a team rather than against each other, I finally accepted the fact that something was going on and that my legs were probably not going to warm up that day. I told myself that Tahoe Sierra was now a long training ride for the 24 hour race I had the following weekend. I was bummed. Everything was just so right, the weather was great, not too hot and not too cold, the new course was wonderful, the aid stations were fantastic, my nutrition and fluid intake seemed to be in order; and yet I was in a world of hurt the whole day, struggling to finish in the top ten when I had been so hopeful of finishing on the box.
Jim added a few sections of singletrack into the course and completely switched up the route compared with last year. There were times on a few of the descents where I was reminded of Downieville and other times where I was reminded of the riding in my own back yard. These new sections were about the only places where I probably wasn’t losing time as the day went on. I just had no power in those legs of mine, none. I wasn’t even thinking of throwing in the towell though.
I had just passed the Mad Cat aid station for the second time and was feeling content with simply making it to the finish at that point, when my race got a little more epic. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t turn around and go back to Mad Cat when my left pedal broke and left me unable to clip in, but for some reason, I kept moving forward. Now, I say that my pedal broke and not that I broke my pedal because I was actually remounting my bike after a hike a bike section on a climb. No rocks or stumps nearby to clip a pedal on, I just couldn’t clip in when I started to pedal up the hill and when I looked down, sure enough, that pedal was toast! I could still pedal, sort of, but descending was nearly impossible because I had to stay seated to keep my foot on the pedal. I battled with this issue until I arrived at Ronbinson Flate where Auburn Bike Works was manning the aid station. Now my top ten really was in jeopardy. Luckily McGiver(Mike) was working at the aid station and he was able to zip tie my left shoe to the pedal. He held the bike up while I inserted my foot into my permanently attached shoe and I was off to climb up toward the finish.
The rest of the event was pretty uneventful. I got no second wind, I just kept getting weaker and weaker. I hoped that maybe I’d be able to turn it up on the last climb, but I was greeted with the same nearly useless legs which I’d had all day and I simply tried not to get passed in the last 25 miles. I thought that just maybe I could bring back two riders who I had yo-yo’d with earlier in the day during those last climbs but they were long gone, and any chance I had of seeing them again had dissapeared in the eight miles of broken pedaling.
I finished seventh on the day, the same place as last year. Dissapointed but satisfied all at once. I had just had what I could honestly say was the absolute worst day I had ever experienced on a bike, if it had been a training ride I might have gone home and gone back to bed…. But I hadn’t given up, I hadnt’ gone back to bed, even when my pedal broke in the on a dirt road somewhere in the Sierras. In fact, I just laughed at that point. What else can you do? Getting angry would have certainly only made the situation that much worse, it definitely wouldn’t have fixed my pedal and breathed new life into my burning legs, so ha ha ha ha.
All in all, it was another great race and a day to remember. I heard more stories around the dinner table that night about other racers who’d had eaqually epic days. Sean flatted at the top of the first descent and I believe twice more after that, joking that his Tahoe Sierra started about a half hour late. Another rider broke his frame near the start and tried to build a new bike so that he could complete the race… Not sure what happended there, but I guess it just goes to show that anything can and will happen in a mountain bike race. You can’t help but wonder though, why so very many things seem to go wrong on race day? I mean, I had ridden that pedal two days before the race, why didn’t it break then, or on any one of a thousand other training rides? Who knows, Murpy’s law I suppose. Frustrating at times, but let’s face it, that’s part of what makes mountain biking what it is and part of why we love it so much.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Think They're Broken!

My ribs are killing me. I crashed two weeks ago while trying to heal a neck injury. Dumb, I know. I shouldn't have been out on my mtn. bike in the first place, but I was just riding to work and I didn't think I could hurt myself so badly on the mild trails between the casa and the workplace. Guess I was mistaken. I was riding a sweet little singletrack which I had never shredded before and came over the top of a little lump of dirt with some forward momentum, realizing only after it was too late that I needed to steer hard left at the top of the little whoop de do in order to avoid a 4+ foot drop. I had some momentum, but not that much momentum. My front end was already over the edge of the drop before I even had time to react and my sorry efforts at pulling the bars upward and thrusting my weight back were in vain.

I sailed ass over end straight off the drop, landing squarely on my head and then flopping straight onto my back left side. The ground where I landed was flat and I landed with a dead thump and a solid impact. No bouncing or rolling or sliding to dispurse the impact and my momentum. Nope, just my rib cage to break my fall. I stayed curled up in the fetal position for a minute or so, groaning and trying to catch my breath, not quite understanding what just happened. My first thought was, "I can't believe I just crashed at Empire Mine, this is ridiculous!" My second thought was, "Oh man, my neck is gonna be super screwed up now, I landed on my freakin head..."

Appearantly though, landing on the head while nursing a neck injury speeds recovery of the neck. The trick is not to immediately land on your ribs following the head impact... I haven't slept a good solid night in the last two weeks, laying down hurts. Urghh. I think I was starting to get better though and I decided to go on a mtn bike ride today to make sure everything was in order for this weekend(Tahoe Sierra). I burped a tire around a corner which lead to a little foot high drop. Nice, this meant that instead of falling just to ground level and landing directly on the injured side of my body, I was hurled off the drop; landing another foot lower than the height where the fall was initiated. Of course, I managed to land directly on the ribs in question. I feel like I might die right now. Just kidding. A little. It does hurt pretty badly though and I am not super stoked that I went and did this to myself.

On the bright side, I have been working a lot on seated climbing, so even though I can't stand up or pull up on my handlebars, I should still be able to ride up the climbs this weekend at a respectable pace. It's gonna be and interesting day in the saddle.

Friday, September 4, 2009

12 hours of Humboldt 2008

12 Hours of Humboldt went down this weekend in Redwood Park just outside of Humboldt State University. The course was just about 8 miles long with 1300-1400 ft of climbing per lap. A mix of double track, gravel roads and sweet singletrack wound around nearly entirely underneath the cover of 300 ft tall redwoods. Temps were in the low 60s in Arcata, but probably in the low 50s on course, as we were on the dark forest floor all day, morning and evening fog are standard issue on the northern California coast, but i think the sun was out throughout the day, it was just hidden from us racers by the towering trees. The course wasn't entirely closed to other users and a healthy number of Hippies on course added an interesting flavor to the race.

I decided to race with a 1x9 on my Taurine instead of racing it as a singlespeed. I figured that since i don't race the single speed class anyway, i may aswell have at least some of the gears that my competitors have. The race started on time at 8 am and myself and another solo named Sean Allen(known to spank Tinker Juarez in the past) proceeded to churn out 4 sub 40 minute laps. Sean was racing the 40+ class so it was just friendly riding. We had almost 15 minutes on the next solo going into the 5th lap and i could tell that both Sean and I were waiting for the other to slow up a bit, we were averaging around 17mph and realistically that wasn't going to last with the amount of climbing on course. I didn't want to be the first to slow the pace though.

Then, midway through the 5th lap, a nasty noise coming from the cranks on my bike gave my a half second warning that the shit was about to hit the fan. I looked down just in time to see my chain ring/bash gaurd explode off the crank spider and send crank bolts flying into the woods and my chain flying off the outside. My race is over. I haven't got the parts to fix this, and this is the first time that i didn't bring a spare bike with me. We've been raicng for 2 hrs...

Enter Sean Allen, who was right next to me when things went bad. Without hesitation, he told me to run it back in and grab his spare bike to finish the race. Sean is as much a Cdale junkie as any of us and his spare bike was a nicely built 1fg, geared on the tall side for this course at 34x18, but it would have to do. After running back to the start, finding Sean's bike, switching pedals, adjusting seat, blah, blah, blah, I'd lost a solid 1/2 hour on Sean, and now sat 15 mins behind the other guy in the pro class. I was worried, I'll admit it. I was now riding an unfamiliar bike(with a terrible seat!), one that had only one speed and I now had 15mins to make up on my competition. Yikes!

I told myself to forget about Sean, catching him was out of the question unless he completely popped. He was riding so smooth and strong that i didn't see that happening. So, i just focused on trying to catch the other Pro Solo rider, telling myself to stay calm, I had almost 10hrs to race, plenty of time to make the catch. The catch happened after only two laps on the single speed. What a relief!??

After catching my competitor, I tried to slow up, I'd been really huffing it since gettin on the single speed and i knew that catching him would be worthless if i blew up before the end of the race. The thought of catching Sean was still in the back of my head, but i figured if it happened, it happended, if it didn't, then oh well. Riding a super tall geared single was beginning to wear me down toward the midway point in the race, I tried not to pit except when totally necessary, I wanted every bit of extra time i could get, the smooth fire road descents really favored riders with geared and the steep upill pitches got harder and harder on that tall gear.

In the end, I wasn't able to pull Sean Allen back in but nearly lapped second place in my category... And I Finished!!! That's what i tried to remind myself of as i felt slightly bummed about not getting the overall. Sean and I did finish with the same number of laps. 15 laps and somewhere around 20,000 ft of climbing. A good day overall, looking back i'm proud of how calm i stayed through the technicals, but i know that had Sean not been there, the weekend would have been lost. Lesson: never leave home without a spare bike, or enough spare parts to build yourself a new one; anything can, and eventually will happen.

Temecula June 2008

Alright, so i know that it's a little late, but this race report is making an appearance a lot sooner than the last one did, so i'm getting better. For those of you who don't know where Temecula is, it's not close. In fact, it's somewhat far, about 45mins north of San Diego on the Hwy 15, inland from the ocean far enough that it has none of the mild climates of coastal San Diego; no, Temecula is just a little desert town that heats up(appearantly) quite nicely in the middle of June...12hrs of Temecula is part of the endurance series this year that team bigfoot puts on, usually the events are more norcal-ish and primarily up in the Arcata/Humboldt area, but seeing as how i'm doing pretty well this season on the endurance stuff and i've had some luck in some of the other events in the series, i wasn't going to let a little seven hour drive stop me from giving this event my best shot. My lovely girlfriend and her family, who had been so great up in Weaverville, were also thinking of going to Temecula and so i figured that the weekend was going to be quite enjoyable, whether or not the race itself went well.I used the race as an excuse to go visit my buddies in San Diego. I couldn't see driving that far south and not continuing on to SD to say hello to Joe and the guys at the shop. I originally planned on leaving the wednesday evening before the race, after prairie city and just driving all night. After some thought, i realized that this was a retarded idea, i would arrive in Temecula thursday morning totally beat, try to go to sleep, wind up not sleeping, be in no mood to test ride the course, then drive to san diego and be all pissed off because i missed my thursday ride, i'm tired, and i still didn't pre ride the course... and for what? so that i could hang out in a bike shop for an extra day? i hang out in a bike shop quite a bit as it is, so i re thought my plans and decided that i would spend the night in sac on wednesday, get up and ride my normal 4hrs or so on thursday, and leave at some point on thursday afternoon. this plan was especially well thought out because it afforded me the opportunity to hang out with my Jamie Girl for a couple of extra hours before my solo 8 hr drive to SD.I had every intention of racing my Scalpel in Temecula, I even rode it on thursday to make sure everything was in order, i brought my singlespeed just in case.... The drive down went super smooth, made it from Folsom to Denny's on Alvarado in SD in 7:15. The van rocks! I grabbed some dinner, checked the email and had an ice cream sundae(race fuel) at Denny's, then drove over to a neighborhood that i used to sleep in while staying in SD and parked the van for the night. Woke up in an oven the next morning at about 7am, not that stoked. I hadn't slept much wednesday night, too amped up from prairie city i guess and i had hoped to sleep in on friday morning as i knew i wouldn't be doing so on saturday. oh well.Jamie and company were driving down on friday to Temecula and i wanted to meet them there, so i was off to Joe's shop to say hello and get my bikes all ready for the race. I left Joes around 12:30 and realized temecula was closer than i thought, oh well, i'd just have to wait a little while for everyone else to get there, no big deal.... oh, except for the massive detour at the grapevine followed by a second detour that sent them all the way to Barstow en route to Temecula. Suddenly the seven hour drive from sac to temecula was getting very long for Jamie, her family, and there passengers and fellow racers, Robert and Jenna. I hadn't originally planned on pre riding the course as it was now the day before the event and i pretty much never ride the day before an event if i can help it, but i figured i may as well since it was going to be a while before everyone got to the venue. I felt so terrible for them, i can barely stand being in the car if everything is going smooth, put me into a little traffic, or give me a detour and i pretty well flip out. i couldn't imagine what the mood must have been like in the motorhome...I pre rode the course in the middle of the afternoon on friday, which gave me an idea of what temps would be like on saturday, yikes. this might get a little tricky. I pre rode on my Scalpel, i was going to race that bike god dangit! but, after my pre ride, i hopped on my singlespeed and angels sang.... i goofed around with some stuff on the scalpel, but just couldn't get it to feel quite right, it feels okay, but not as good as my hardtail, and the course was pretty much made for a single speed, only a couple of spots where gears would have an advantage. Screw it, i'm racing one gear again. I was a little worried about the idea if Tinker showed up though... Although, he would kick my ass if i was riding a geared bike too, so it really didn't matter, may as well race what i'm most comfortable on.Everyone else finally arrived after a 12 hour drive through hell's half acre and they all sort of fell out of the motor home in a daze, i couldn't blame them... The initial plans to test ride the course went out the window as the drive got longer and longer, so i tried my best to tell Robert, Chris, and Jenna about the important details of the course. The first fire road climb went on for what seemed like forever, then there was a tricky rutted descent, a techie little rock garden obsticle at the top of a climb, then some sorta gnarly little switch backs, and from there, it was pretty smooth sailing, with one hike a bike climb and lots of fun single track. Spaghetti for dinner and lights out around eleven on a cozy little bed in the family motor home.... How did i get so lucky?! certainly beats the pb&j sandwhich with some cold precooked pasta followed by restless sleep on a thin foam pad in the back of my van that is usually the pre race routine when i go to events solo... again, how did i get so lucky?! and with my Jamie Girl sleeping just a few feet away, i couldn't have been happier, made getting a restful night's sleep a piece of cake.I was the last one up on race morning, everyone was sitting in the motorhome chatting it up when i woke up, that's the secret, sleep in! Breakfast was dry cereal, as always, and then it was time to cruise down to the pits to get set up and hear the race meeting and all of that good stuff.... No Tinker. But that only meant that i was racing for the win, and not for second place, it didn't make the day any easier, by any was already warm by the 9am start and the first lap flew by pretty quick as i was trying to get a handle on who was in my class, who was solo and who was riding on a team, i think i came through in 5th-ish and set out on my second lap to catch the field and see who i was up against. I caught the other solos on the climb, a couple of them stayed with me through some of the rolling stuff and then i lost them on the gradual up hill later in the course. i decided to try to open up a little gap by simply trying to keep my pace the same as it had been for the first two laps. I didn't wan to speed up, i'd pay for it later in the race, i just didn't want to slow down, because i knew that's exactly what everyone else would do as the hours passed. I never saw any of the solos again(unless i was lapping them) and after five laps, my lead on second was 11minutes, and 25minutes on third. My laps were ticking off like clockwork, all within minutes of one another, and i decided at this point that 12 laps would be an attainable goal, though it could be close, as i expected my lap times to slip a little towards the end of the race. Many racers had their ear buds in from the start of the race, i told myself i wouldn't put the ipod on until i was over the half way mark, and after my seventh lap, feeling like i had a pretty good handle on the race, i threw the tunes on. the air temps must've been well into the 90s and the surface temps out on the course(not a single tree) must have been much higher, i could feel the strength threatening to leave my legs, so we upped the elecrolyte mix and started doing two bottles of mix per lap instead of one water and one mix. i also started taking two salt tabs per lap instead of one every other lap. The extrem heat made eating solid foods very difficult and i survived on GUs for the last four laps of the race. I'd done so well with nutrition in the early hours that i had no issues what so ever with GUs to finish things off. I never felt as though a bonk was looming.To my pleasant suprise, my lap times stayed nearly identical throughout the entire race, only increasing subtlely in the afternoon heat and getting quicker once again when the heat subsided. I rember looking at my watch at 3:30pm as i went out for a lap and thinking that it might be tricky to put in another 5 laps before 9pm, what with pits and all, and surely i'd slow down.... but i finished five laps later, almost exactly five hours later, just before 8:30pm, so consistent it was almost amazing.As the afternoon went on, the temps eventually crept back down to the point where you didn't feel as though you were going to die as you climbed, and riders once again began to populate the course. Things had gotten a bit lonely on the course during the heat of the day as i think a lot of riders took some extra time in the pits to cool off. That was probably a really smart idea, i'm not that smart though, and i tried to keep things going as quickly as possible regardless of the searing tempurature. About the end of lap 10, i felt like i could start to relax about being caught by second place, i wasn't sure of where he was at, i only knew from what Jamie was telling me that he was way behind, that i'd lapped him once or twice, i wasn't even sure who second place was or what he looked like! Only one more and then it's time for the light, i told myself as i started out on lap 11, seemed a little goofy to put a light on for about 30 minutes of use, but i wasn't about to stop at 7:30pm just because i didn't feel like strapping on my light. Race isn't over until 9pm, afterall. I made an effort to save a little something for the last lap, a had no intention of making it minutes faster or anything like that, afterall, my laps were not that slow to begin with. no, i just wanted to have enough get up and go left to make my last lap every bit as consistent as every other lap had been. there was one section of the climb which i had been walking for the last 3 laps and i decided on lap 12 that i was going to muscle my way up it, it sucked, but i did it. It wasy a bad move in terms of energy conservation and racing wisely, but that's what's sort of fun about the last lap, you don't have to worry about these things! My last lap was beautifully consistent once again and i came through the pit feeling extremely satisfied with the day's race and my performance. I was really excited that it was over though! I felt like i'd been baking in the oven all day and i just wanted to sit down in the cool darkness and let it all soak in. Jamie had packed up all the supplies and had fresh clothes waiting for me when i rolled in. Where has this girl been all of my life?!Jamie and her mother were kind enough to take care of me during the race and by the end of the event, we were working like a well oiled machine. I was extremely pleased with the efficiency of our pit stops. Thanks Jamie Girl! you're the greatest girlfriend ever! And thank you too Wanda, you guys were behind two solo victories(Chris won his class too), i'm pretty sure no other pit crew can say that! The raffle seemed to go on forever and awards seemed to end almost as soon as they began, hmmm. Ended up with 12 laps, winning solo pro. second did 9 laps....he, he, he. The nevada city classic was happening the next day and i wanted to be up there to watch the race, and possibly work the event too as my shop promotes and organizes it. Jamie and I left the race at 4am after crashing at about 12:30 or so. I couldn't sleep and got up to eat more food and take a littel walk, i was burning up after being in the sun all day, but after walking around in the cool blackness of the desert night for a while and making a little bathroom stop to adandon 12hrs of clif bars and gu, i was ready for a little shut eye. it was now 1:30am, alarm went off at 3:45am. I was so excited to be driving back with Jamie that i didnt even feel tired, not until that after noon when we arrived at the nevada city classic and began to mull about did the severe exhaustion set in. We must've both looked a little like zombies, very tan zombies, but zombies none the less and we couldn't stay for the pro race, which didn't start until 5pm. no, there came a point when sitting inside an air conditioned house became far more important than watching some roadies ride around in circles.I'm a little worried at this point about my right leg, it hurts, it's not just sore, it hurts. eight + hours on the gas pedal immediately following a 12 hr race in obscene temperatures has certainly taken it's toll on my leg. i have no hope in tonights prairie city race, just going out to have some fun.I'm sorry for the extreme length of this report and for the inclusion of so many non race related details, but for me racing istn't as much about lap times and course descriptions as it is about the experiences surrounding the race itself. The events before and after a race are a lot more interesting in most cases than the race itself and it just wouldn't be a race report without the inclusion of all the other details, ya know?

Weaverville 2008

I know that this race report is late, like waaayy late. But better late than never, right? Anyway, I knew that i needed to rest up after the Cool 24hr race and that although rest was important, i couldn't really stop training either, I had to balance things out just right so that I would have plenty of energy but not lose any fitness beofre Weaverville.You body does odd things after a 24hr event, the week immediately following one of these events, it feels like your body is more numb than anything else, it's so fatigued that you just don't really feel anything while you're out riding. so, although i did take an extra day off the week after Cool, i still rode quite a bit more than i should have and raced out at Prairie City the wednesday following Cool. Did pretty okay too, riding back home after the race i was completely toasted though, like completely toasted. It's two weeks after a 24hr race that the grueling effort catches up with me. I felt like complete ass two weeks after Cool and raced like a retard at Prairie City. My fatigue during this week motivated me to rest up quite a bit in the week leading up to Weaverville.More concerning than my fatigue however, was my seeming inability to stay upright on my bike in the weeks following Cool. I crashed like every other time i threw my leg over the top tube. it was getting pretty ridiculous and i was not only becoming extremely frustrated, i was legitimitely worried because i had crashed on my left hip multiple times in something like four days. every time i'd start to feel a little better, like i could actually use my leg again, i'd simple crash once more and start over at square one. My leg hurt so bad and i felt so torally beat up by the middle of the week before Weaverville, that i took thursday off in an effort to try to recuperate. I couldn't walk straight and getting out of my car hurt in more ways than one. I figured an extra rest day would probably go a long ways.So, after my thursday rest day, i worked a little on Friday morning before heading off to Redding that afternoon to meet a family who had agreed to help me out at the race. I had no idea where this initial meeting was going to lead me only a couple of weeks later, but we'll get to that later on. Shortly after the Cool 24hr race, i was messaged by a young girl who had seen me at the race. She offered her support at Weaverville once she found out that I would be racing self supported. Her father was also racing in the event and she seemed excited to help me out. She and her family were going out to dinner in Redding the evening before the event and they invited me to come along. I was eager to learn more about this lovely girl, i was intrigued. I had no idea that pretty girls went to bike races at all, much less actually enjoyed them. Heck, this particular girl even likes riding her bike! I quickly learned that not only was this girl AMAZING, but her family was pretty awesome too. They even offered to let me stay with them in their hotel that evining... anyone who thinks i'm not the luckiest guy isn't paying close enough attention. Oh, i forgot to mention that it had started to rain during dinner and by bed time, it was going pretty steady. Tomorrow was liable to suck pretty bad. As if riding a bike for 12 hours wasn't enough of a task... I was definitely not excited about trying to do it in the rain. I tried not to think about it as i lay on the floor of the hotel in the dark. Who was this girl? How did i end up here, how could i be so lucky? how could it really be raining right now? It's damn near June in California God Damnit! Oh well.Up at 5:30am so we could drive to Weaverville and pick up registration packets/set up pit areas before the 8am start time. It wasn't pouring rain, but it was far from dry, the windsheild wipers were definitely on as i drove down the winding hwy towards Weaverville, trying to prepare myself for the tough day that lay ahead of me. I set up my Pit while bringing Jaimie up to speed on where things were at and filling her in on my game plane for the race. I told her whom i was worried about in the field. A good luck hug and it was off to the starting line.Matt Chaney was my main concern, he always says he's in terrible shape or that he just crashed or that he isn't training, but he's always fucking fast. Sloane Anderson was on the line too, I've raced with him before, but i'm usually in a different class, today we would be racing against one another in the pro class. I had opted to race my single speed even though i was not entered in the ss class. I hadn't yet gotten the fit on my Scalpel to the point where i felt super confident, and if the weather went the way i thought it was going to go, i figured a single speed was going to be a better choice than a geared bike anyway in the sloppy conditions we were about to be facing.After the initial cluster fuck at the start, i positioned myself at the front of the field with Matt. I wanted to pace myself based on his riding, no sense going out fast if he wasn't doing so, he was still my main concern. Matt got off and walked portions of the climb on the first lap, so i did too. we led over the top of the climb and a group of about 5 of us went through the pit together. I decided i wasn't walking on the second lap. Matt got off, i never saw him again. Although the race now seemed to be betweeen myself and Sloane(we leap frogged for the next few laps), i was still more concerned with Matt, i couldn't let him catch me, that would be the point of no return. I would gap Sloane on the climb and he would catch me at the bottom of the hill, just before the pit, nearly like clockwork, on the next five laps. I realized that if i couldn't extend my gap and keep in front of Sloane through the pit zone in the next two laps, then my race might be over. Weather conditions deteriorated throughout the day and by the fifth lap, things were pretty bleak, not to mention dangerous. A crash on my sixth lap turned my focus from destroying the feild to just beating second place. I had landed on my hip once again, of course, and by the time i got to the pit i was huritng so bad that i wasn't sure i would be able to manage to climb. I took 2 alieve and set out for another lap. I don't know how, but i just pushed through the pain and kept on going. Just two more after this....I got the gap I was looking for on Sloane and now i had to time my laps so that I could keep that gap without speeding up the pace to the point that we would come across the line with time for a tenth lap. Or, increase the gap and hope that he didn't respond so that even if i crossed with time for another lap, he would cross too late to go out again. this is where it gets tricky and i was glad that i had decided to invest in a wrist watch so i could monitor where i was at time wise.I came through the pit after my eighth lap and learned that Matt and Sloane had both packed up and gone home when the conditions had turned stupid. Second place had just gone out on his eighth lap a couple minutes earlier... I had already won. This was a twelve hour race though, so i wasn't done yet, winner or not. I set out on my ninth lap with one thought: Don't Crash. A crash could still ruin my race and the course had become very dangerous, i had plenty of time and just focused safely. I came through at 7pm without enough time to race another lap, my race was over.I just stood there for a few moments, staring into the gloom, letting my body accept the fact that it didn't have to move any more. not today at least. I thanked Jaimie for her help, she'd done a great job, and then it was off to the showers.They gave me a cool Mountain Hardware tent for winning the race. It seemed unreal that the race was over and that i'd not only survived, but i'd done well. I'm extremely proud of this victory, I think my toughest competition was myself. anyone who knows me knows how much trouble i have in the cold and the wet. good stuff

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Time to Rest...

I am exhausted. It's time for a little break I think. It's not as if I've been racing a lot over the last month or so, but I'm tired none the less. In fact, I have a tendancy to become more beat down during periods when I don't race than during periods when I do.

Knowing that I have a race coming up keeps me from going all out during training days, it keeps me from adding on a couple of extra hours in the evenings which start out as an easy spin and evolve into a hammer fest. No racing means no tangible reason to take it easy. So although I haven't been racing, I've had a few 30-40 hr training weeks over the last month and with school starting back up and work remaining as busy as ever, I think a few days off the bike will do me some good.

Rest of the week off, back on the bike on Saturday.

See you all at Tahoe Sierra... I'm thinking of rocking my hardtail. Has anyone ridden the course? Would a FS be better?