Monday, May 21, 2012

Addison Oaks Stage Race Race Report

This past weekend was the next installment of the Tailwind Racing USAC series.  The first race was Pontiac Lake TT which I didn't participate in because I was out of town.  The Addison race consisted of 2 days of racing.  Day one was a 1 lap time trial on a modified course and a short track cyclocross style track.  Day two was a cross country race.  Going into the race most of us thought that it was a combined race, as it turned out, Saturday was really the only "stage" race of the weekend.  Sunday was counted separately.  I think they did this so they could draw more racers on Sunday that didn't want to race the whole weekend. 

Going into this race I didn't have high expectations.  My first Cat 1 race was at Yankee Springs but due to DNF I didn't finish it.  Also that was a TT race and not a cross country race so Addison was going to be my first Cat 1 cross country race on Sunday.  Saturday started off with a 1 lap TT on a modified course.  They had cut out some of the usual mountain bike course and ran us on parts of the horse trail.  Wasn't really a fan of them doing this.  I was concerned about flinging horse shit the whole time.  The ground was rather soft.  At one point they had pink arrow's setup and I thought I was supposed to make a left so I came to a stop to turn only look farther down that section and realize I was suppose to keep going straight so I lost a few seconds.  That really didn't do much for my time though.  Other than that it was pretty uneventful race.  I went out with another rider but I managed to drop him within the first mile or so and rode solo the rest of the way in.  I finished the TT in 29:24.

The next race up was the short track race.  This was done on the grass (which was very lumpy) and was about a 1 mile course.  It was supposed to be 20 minutes plus 2 laps.  I rode my CX bike for this mostly because I wanted to get racing experience on it.  In hindsight it was probably a bad decision, I probably could have gone faster on the mountain bike but whatever.  The biggest difference is the brakes.  They suck on a CX bike compared to a mountain bike so coming into corners I couldn't go as fast.  Power output was good around 300 watts for the 24 minutes. Knowing I had another race the following day I didn't want to push too hard.  I had also pushed really hard in the TT and I was feeling that.  I ended up 6th in the short track which put me 5th overall for the day.  Like I said, looking back I should have ridden my mountain bike but I didn't have a lot of expectations for this whole weekend being it was going to be my first real Cat1 race.  I found out later that night from my team mate John Osgood that I had won a medal for 5th place.  That was cool and it gave me confidence going into Sunday.

Sunday morning I woke up with some tight calf muscles.  Mostly like from pushing so hard in the short track race.  I iced them early enough in the day that it wouldn't affect me or cause injury so by the time I got back to Addison they were feeling better.  I was a bit nervous for this race.  I hadn't done a cross country race yet so I didn't know about pacing, how much water to bring, where to line up for the start, the fact that it was going to be 85 degrees, everything was new.  Well they did a call up from Saturday's results to the start line starting with 5th place so I was called first to the start line so I went straight down the middle.  The race started the leader took off and a pack of 4 of us stayed together for the whole first lap and much of the 2nd.  As we caught other groups of riders we couldn't all get through so I got caught behind many times.  I would then have to work really hard to bridge back up to the last riders in my group.  I eventually did but the first 2 riders in my group were starting to make a gap and I was riding with the third rider in my group.  Half way through the third lap I made a pass on the rider in front of me.  I felt pretty good at this point too.  I had conserved some energy so I was able to push pretty good and put in some time.  The problem now though, was that I was alone.  This is the hardest type of racing to do.  I was tired at this point as well so most of the last lap was spent alone.  I passed a couple more guys in the groups that went out ahead of us but that was pretty much it.  There were 2 guys from the 40-49 group that left behind us that caught me right at the end of the race but I just pulled over and let them pass.  I knew I was ahead of the 5th place enough that I didn't need fight and I figured they were in their own race fighting for the win so I just let them go.  I finished in 4th out of 11 30 seconds behind 2nd and 3rd and 3 minutes ahead of 5th. Overall I'm very pleased with the result.  I wasn't sure how I would do but it turned out great.  I got another medal and I got to do the rollercoaster hands for the group picture.  Next up is Hanson Hills 100.  This is going to be crazy.  My first mountain bike century.  I'll keep everyone posted after that.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stony Creek 5.5 hour...uhhh Race? report

This past weekend was my first try at endurance mountain biking.  It was the Stony Creek 6/12 race held at Stony Creek by Fun Promotions.  I originally wanted to race the 6 hour but I had a concert to go to that night and the 6 hour started at 2pm so that wasn't going to work.  I still wanted the racing experience however so I signed up for the 12 hour.  With the 2 hundreds coming up, I wanted to make sure I had all of my questions answered before I did them.  At the beginning of the race during the riders meeting, the promoter said that the race was actually being cut to 5.5/11.5 because they need to be out of the park by 9pm so instead of finishing both races at 8 they were going to finish at 7:30.  Obviously that didn't matter to me.  I was going to finish when I had to. 

I set my pit up at my car which was parked along the start of the course.  That way all I had to do was pull 2 feet off the trail to pit.  I put my cooler with my bottles in it and loaded up my gear.  Earlier in the week I spoke to my coach Curt about tactics and nutrition.  We decided on 1 bottle of sports drink per hour and supplement with gel.  So I I took 2 bottles of Powerbar Ironman Perform and a flask of gel.  I also took a can of Big Air and air chuck, and a bag with a tube and tire lever in case I got a puncture.  I should have take a tool with me too but I didn't.  I paid a little for it later. 

The race began at 8am with the 12 hour teams going out first.  The solo's went 1 minute later.  At the beginning of the race I just wanted to sit back and get a feel for everyone's pace.  Now they're pace was going to be obviously slower than mine as they were doing the 12 and I was doing the 6 so I figured I could catch up with some of the guys in team race as they would probably be keeping a higher pace that the 12 hour solo's.  I sat in about 3rd going into the Rollercoaster section.  Within 10 minutes or so, the group I was with had caught up to the 12 hour team riders at the back of the pack.  This slowed us for a bit but I figured it's such a long race I'm not going to push or be agressive here.  Just wait for the doubletrack and make a move.  That was pretty much what I followed.  Once we exited the singletrack I just pushed past as many as I could on the doubletrack before we got to the Pines section of the course.  I probably pushed a little too hard and paid for it a bit around the 2.5hr mark.  I basically maxed my HR out until I got to the pines.  Once I got about 3/4 of the way into the Pines I caught up to one of the guys on a 12 hour team.  We rode together through some of the doubletrack and then I went on by myself. 

I was pretty much alone from this point on with the exception of when I catch up to someone else here and there.  I got through 3 laps of the course and then decided to pit.  It had been about 2:15 or so and I was all out of fluid and gel.  I stopped at my car and changed bottles and gel flasks.  It took me about a minute to complete. I felt good about this but, it was not the only pit I was going to take.  About 25 minutes into the 4th lap I needed to go to the bathroom.  I pulled off the course and that cost me a little time.  Then on the next lap, I started to feel like I needed more calories and fast or I was going to bonk hard.  This is when I realized that I pushed a bit too hard in the beginning.  I stopped for a second to take in some cola and half of a Powerbar Triple Threat.  Within a few minutes I was feeling good again.  This was good news but the bad news my right shifter was coming loose.  I needed to pit yet again.  I stopped at my car and grabbed a wrench and tightened my shifter and back out on the course.  Did a couple more laps that were only a couple minutes slower than my first few so I was very happy to be keeping a consistent pace. 

I finished my portion of riding with 7 laps in 5:28 minutes.  My Garmin showed 65 miles but I later found out that the course is actually a mile or so more than my Garmin showed.  I actually rode more like 73 miles in 5:28.  The problem is my Edge 500 does what's called GPS aliasing so when I am doing switchbacks, the device doesn't think I'm going anywhere.  Someone on the MMBA website pointed this out to me. 

Overall I am very pleased with how the race turned out.  I think I accomplished what I needed to going into the Hanson Hills 100 and the Lumberjack 100.  Endurance mountain biking is hard though.  Much more than I would have anticipated.  I really beats you up.  I had that 15 miles into the Ironman run feel going about 5 hours into the ride.  I was happy to fnish.  Unfortunatly leaving early like I did cost me a win.  Had I raced the 6 hour race, I woud have been sent out for another lap at 5:28 which would have been 8 total in probably 6:15-20 and would have given me the win.  The person that won the 6 hour event 7 laps in 6:16.  Like I said though, this was a good learning experience for me and adds a lot of confidence going into the next endurance event which is the Hanson Hills 100.  I am also doing the Addison Oaks stage race this coming weekend.  Here is a video of the race from this weekend.  I'm the guy slowly climbing up the hill.