Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wausau 24 2012

This year of racing I have been more laid back than ever before. I have put very little effort into preparing for races and have seen them as chances to have fun and build fitness for cx. The funny part is that this has been my best season of racing yet. Along with Scott I won two duo long WEMS mtb races, I won a solo 6 hour mtb race, and took third in a 60 mile mtb race. Whatever it is that I have been doing, or not doing, seems to be working, so I stayed on the same track for the Wausau 24 race.

One of the things that I have been doing right is riding with strong teammates and Wausau 24 was no exception. Matt G., Anna and Sanjay G. and I lined up for the 24 hour coed race. I think we all knew we had a chance of doing well, but once Anna came through on her first lap with a time that was faster than a lot of the guys out there we knew we had a chance to win.

Matt and Sanjay were crushing laps like the elite riders they are and Anna kept turning in really fast times. I maxed out my ss and turned in decent times. By 12 hours in we had a 15 minute lead on second place in our category and we found ourselves in first place overall! Then the night laps hit and endurance really became a factor. We faltered slightly on a few laps and opened the door to second place in our field and were bumped to third overall (that was inevitable though).

Thankfully, even though my gear was maxed out in the daylight, at night that same gear gave me some fast laps. My night laps were only 2-3 minutes slower than my day laps. Plus, even though Sanjay thought he couldn't give any more for the laps he went out on, he kept crushing his night laps.

We found ourselves in first place by about 15-20 minutes with 3 laps left. Anna was willing to do a 7th lap but we worked out a deal where she would clean up the camp if I doubled up at the end and did 8 laps instead. I was feeling pretty good the whole race and never cramped or got tight legs so I knew I could double up.

We had discussed my stopping after our 27th lap if the lead was large enough, but that morning it rained a little and the previously loose and dusty trails were now riding great. I could finally kind of corner. I was going out for an 8th lap either way.

I came through on my 7th lap and Mike and Matt said we were in first by 17 minutes. I thought they said 7 minutes, so instead of taking a somewhat leisurely 8th lap I did what I could to keep the pace up, always assuming that second place was catching me. I came through on our 28th lap in 24:28:42. We won our category by about 13 minutes and we took 3rd overall! You can get to all the results here.

It was a great way to end my mtb race season (besides the Bl@ster). It was a ton of fun to hang out with everyone for the weekend and to get to know people better. Our team was in agreement that we would leave the 24 hour game on top. Next year I think I want to go back for the weekend, but do a 12 or 6 hour instead. I am still dealing with the sleep deprivation. I think it would have been easier to ride 8 laps straight instead of spreading them out over 24 hours and getting about an hour and a half of sleep in that same amount of time.

Next up, cx starts in September!

Monday, July 23, 2012

John Muir WEMS

John Muir is always a lot of fun because so many people I love hanging out with seem to show up. It was another hot one Saturday. I was happy to be transitioning out of the long solo races to do some team races. Hot laps on a day like Saturday sounded much better then a heated death slog. Scott and I teamed up for the 75 mile duo, which was in reality well over 80 miles.

We found out when we got there that they shortened the lap from 13ish miles to 7.5ish (more like over 8) miles. Instead of switching off every lap Scott and I decided to double them up. It worked well and we were both pretty consistent with our times. We switched roles from Levis where Scott was crushing laps and I was just getting them done, this time I was crushing the laps. 2:1 was a great gear until the last lap and getting up the hills fast was a bit of a task. Luckily, Mike C. chased me around on my last lap (even though he was taking the day off) and kept my pace up.

We almost did the 80+ miles in under 6 hours. When I crossed the line it said 4:05 which gave us a time of 6 hours and five minutes. We were moving pretty good and got another win! It has been a great year so far!

Next up, Wausau24 with a 4 person coed team.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stump Farm

Last Saturday was race number 2 of 4 races in 5 weeks for me. I did the 60 mile solo.

The course at Stump Farm is the polar opposite of Underdown. Underdown is almost constantly rough with 2,000 feet of climbing per 14 mile'ish lap, while Stumpfarm is smooth (except for 1.3 miles of new trail) and flowly with less than 2,000 feet of climbing for the whole 60 mile race. It was a beautiful sunny day in the mid 80's.

I knew going into the race that ss wasn't going to win. At least not me on a ss. There was far too much double track on which to lose time. After getting some recon from Scott, 2:1 was the call on gearing. So my goal was to average 13.5 mph for the race. Once again, my plan was to go out at my pace and not burn a match at the start.

Mike and Chad took off at the start and I quickly dropped back about 30 seconds off of them. However, once we got into the single track I made up some time and caught them. From there we worked together for the 1st lap. At that point I think there were 4 or 5 guys in front of us. Mike was geared so he did a lot of work on the flats for Chad and I since we were both on 2:1 ss.

Chad stopped after lap one to grab water and Mike and I kept going, however I told Chad I would see him in a bit and sure enough I did, about 1 mile into lap two. When he caught up Mike dropped off, he wasn't feeling it that day. Chad and I proceeded to work together for the next 4 laps.

And work together we did! We were slaying the single track and not doing too bad on the fire roads. We passed many a person as if they were stopped. Lap 4 was our slowest lap and it was my fault. I had a gas bubble I couldn't shake. Shortly after the start of lap 5 I finally found some relief and we picked up the pace again. We were a minute faster on lap 5 than on 4.

The last lap Chad fell off a little, I yelled back for him to get back on but he sort of dangled. I thought if I pushed the pace we would both go faster and just maybe we could catch somebody else. In the end I finished about 40 seconds ahead of Chad and in 3rd place. My final time was a 4:37:14 for about 64 miles. I averaged 14.1 mph! I also stopped for less than a minute during the whole ride compared to 20 minutes at Underdown. The two guys in front crushed it and finished about 15 minutes ahead of me. I have to say, it was great to be able to race with Chad for almost the whole race. It really made the race fly by.

Next up John Muir!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Thunderdown in the Underdown

Saturday I drove up to Underdown hoping to hit my goal of 4 laps in 6 hours. The organizers posted an elevation map of one lap and it was 13 miles with 2,000ish feet of climbing. I thought if I could average 9 miles an hour I would have time to stop and refuel every lap and still get 4 laps. It was a lofty goal, but a goal non the less.

The goal of 4 laps was shot out the window at the pre-race meeting when we were told that laps were actually 13-14 miles long. I would have been pushing it at 13 miles so a 14 mile lap met a 3 lap race. I, however, stuck to my plan and went out slow, thinking if I felt good I woul try to place well in lap 3.

Maciej was going to ride with me from the start, but he was geared and I was on a single speed, so during the roll out he took off while I was passed by most of the group going into the single track. The first mile was a little frustrating because the course was so hilly and the folks in front of me were having a hard time clearing some of the punchy rises. I ended up walking 3-4 times. Once I got clear though, I settled into my pace. Not going too hard and just getting up the long climbs, not trying to crush anything. I stopped at the aid station and loaded up on water every lap and stopped at the start/finish to reload.

My second lap was uneventful until I caught Maciej at the aid station. He wasn't feeling too well, the heat and the rough terrain were getting to him. We road together for a while. He said I was in first place, which I didn't understand since there were a couple of guys I hadn't seen yet. Turns out they accidentally cut the course (which they made up by doing the skipped section twice their third lap). After a mile or two Maciej peeled off my wheel and I was on my own again.

I took Maciej at his word, after all he would know if he was in first or not from the start, so I went into my third lap thinking I should just keep it together and ride within my comfort zone. One thing you have to understand is that this course was rough and constantly up and down, for the first 2 laps I was standing 90% of the time. By lap 3, I just couldn't stand as much any more and I stood maybe 80% of the lap. Therefore I slowed down a bit. I caught 2 people in the last 14 miles of the race, so I was by myself a long time, which also slowed me down. Until the last 20 minutes of the race, when I my co2 started to clang around funny in my seat bag and I got paranoid that someone was catching me. I hit it hard and finished pretty strong.

The laps ended up being closer to 14.5 miles, there was no way I was getting 4 done! I won the 6 hour solo with 3 laps in 5:21:02.This means I stopped and refueled for almost 20 minutes because my ride time was 5:02. That worked well with such a difficult course. I don't see the same thing working next Saturday at Stumpfarm.

Also, I have to give congratulations to Scott Marx who won the WI Single Speed Championship with a rigid fork! Ouch!