Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ore to Shore 2013

This past weekend I competed in my first Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic race. The race is one of the triple crown races that includes Iceman and Noquemanon mountain bike races.  It's a  48 mile point to point race that starts in Downtown Nequanee and ends at the Marquette YMCA in Marquette.  The course is a pretty fast course with the winners averaging over 19 miles an hour but that doesn't mean it's easy.  There are a few sections on the course such as Powerline and Misery Hill that really take a toll on you.  This year though, there was an unplanned obstacle that came in the form of a train.  The promoters of the race had worked with the train company to try to keep the interruption out of the race but apparently one slipped by.

The start of the race is a mass start.  I wasn't able to get a preferred start because I hadn't done the race previously so I was back in the general population about 4 row's back.  The race started off pretty fast.  It wound through the streets of Nequanee for a couple miles before dumping into a double track.  This is sort of where the selection process starts to take place.  People start jockeying for position.  I tried my best to get around as many people as I could before we started into a grassy climb.  I was doing ok, I had then passed Osgood going up the hill.  We started back into some double track and I was just starting to feel warmed up.  Then a rider slam on his brakes in front of me and that forced me into his rear wheel and I crashed.  Unfortunatly I was passed by quite a few riders including Osgood and I had damaged my Garmin Edge 500.

I picked my self up off the dirt and I was bleeding on my left leg but whatever, I was more upset about my Garmin because now I was worried my data wouldn't make to Strava and that's the most important thing here right?  Luckily the device did capture the data just fine so all is safe in Stravasphere.  

Shortly after the crash and I got going again, I started to pass other riders to get myself back up in the race.  Then we encountered the train.  This sucked bad for everyone because now it was like starting the race over again.  The train stopped and some riders started to jump over the train against what everyone was telling them.  There were threats from some of the other riders that they would turn in the numbers of anyone that jumped the train.  Then the train started to back up.  When the train backed up everyone realized we could go around the front of it.  Luckily the train didn't move forward while we were in front of it.  Here is a video of the train incident.  This isn't my video.

After we got around the train I was trying everything I could to get in front of the people I had already passed.  I tried taking an off camber line that eventually ran out so then I jumped into the middle of the tracks.  That didn't work so well either so I just wanted to get back into the main line.  Luckily I had a couple team mates, Joe and Todd, that allowed me back into the race line.  That's team work!!!  

On the way up powerline I talked to Shaun from Paint Creek.  He was telling a bit about the course and called this climb the death march.  For the most part everyone on the climb was still riding and not walking the climb, but it was a pretty challenging climb.  I spent quite a bit of time with Shaun during the middle third of the race.  He was giving his course knowledge along the way.  When we hit Misery Hill, it was so backed up with riders walking, that we spent a lot of time chatting about cross, his wedding, etc.  This is where being ahead of everyone would have paid off in terms of finish time.  Maybe that preferred start would have helped, maybe not.  The restart due to the train was the biggest issue I think.  The backside of Misery Hill was a nightmare for me.  It was downhill over rocks with some drop off's and I had my rigid fork on my bike for the race.  So while I could climb really fast, descending was a bit painful.  My hand's were pretty sore after the race.  Next year I'll run a suspension fork.

We eventually made our way to the road section about 25 miles in.  It was a good opportunity for me to use the road skills I've learned this year and also had the help of the rigid fork.  I started off with one group and I kept bridging from group to group to move myself up.  I never did any of the work, I was always sucking someone's wheels.  As we dropped back into the trails I continued with a group of about 5 guys.  There was a rider from Paint Creek and another rider from RBS, neither of which I know.  There were also a couple other guys but I wasn't familiar with their kits.  We all stayed in this group for the remainder of the race.  I continued to draft as much as possible.  With about 5 miles to go, one of the guys in the group had a mechanical and dropped off the group.  When we came out of the woods in Marquette everyone sort of had that look, like ok, who's going to do the work here.  I continued to bounce around till the last left turn before the finish.  That's when I made my move and took off in a sprint.  I crossed the line ahead of the riders in my group in 2:59.  

Overall I'm somewhat pleased with how this race turned out.  I wanted to come in around 2:55 which probably would have happened had we not got stuck by the train.  Races like this really make me love mountain biking.  I'm not sure I'll do the full USAC race calendar next year but you will definitely see me at this race again along with Iceman, Grampian, and maybe even Lumberjack.  

Well back to the road.