Monday, June 28, 2010

Hosting and Racing...what a blast

This past week in Bend, OR was the Junior National Championships.  With Stars and Stripe jerseys on the line for lots of "up-and-comers" in three disciplines (TT, Criterium, and road race) Bend would see an influx of cyclists all over town.  Jenny and I have been wanting to host riders for the Cascade Cycling Classic for a while, but we decided to host a Junior for the Nat's this week as well. 

AJ Snovel...remember the name.

AJ and his dad Jason came up from Davis, CA on Wednesday and stayed through Sunday night.  AJ competed in all three events in preparation for his big Stage Race up on Quebec, Canada in two weeks (Tour de l'Abiditi).   The Tour de l'Abitibi is a stage race for riders 17-18 years of age.  He was selected to race on a team of riders that were selected from all across the country.  Having just competed in the Tour de Nez, and Nevada City Classic road races (2 very challenging races) the week prior he unfortunately wouldn't have his "A" game for Nationals. 

AJ currently rides for the Davis Bike Club Team, but it won't be long before a strong Domestic team picks him up.  The kid has huge potential and is a super cool dude.  In the short time that they stayed with us, we became good friends and we will be keeping in touch.  Junior Nationals will be in Bend again for the next 2 years, so if he hasn't already made the jump to racing in Europe I'm sure we'll see them again this time next year.  Not to mention that the Masters National Championships will also be held in Bend, OR during 2011, so Jason (AJ's dad) who is also a strong rider will also be competing in that...just another excuse for them to make the trip north.

With all the excitement of Junior Nationals going on, I also had my own agenda for the weekend...Pickett's Charge XC race (Oregon XC Series Finals).  The course was held at the Wanoga Sno Park trail system this year up towards Mt. Bachelor.  This was a good change from years past, where the race as held on trails around teh Phils' Trail system.  The recently built trails up at Wanoga include lots of technical, demanding riding, and lots of rocky sections.  The course consisted of a 12 mile loop, which we would do 2 laps on, for a total of 25 miles including the starter loop.

With the majority of the "big guns" (Adam Craig, Chris Sheppard, Ryan Trebon, Carl Decker and Ben Thompson) missing from this race the door would be wide open to take home top honors. Brig Brandt would still be the odds-on favorite but I was sure to not make it easy for him. I quickly lead the race from the beginning singletrack section with Bruce Cole-Baker and Brig following behind. After 5 miles Brig came around to take the lead.

                          Chasing Brig with only a few miles left

                                         Brig riding strong

We rode together for several miles before he opened up a 20 sec gap.  At the end of lap 1, I clipped a rock with my pedal and it sent me over the bars.  I realized that I had a huge cut on my knee as well and that something was wrong with my derailleur or chainrings because I couldn't shift into my big chainring.  (After the race I found that I bent the big chainring).  Matt Russell had passed me and I was now in 3rd to start the 2nd lap.  I quickly pulled back Matt and then tried to close the gap on Brig but  stayed within 30 sec to 1 min the rest of the lap.   I rode good enough for 2nd, but a costly error cost me time on the trail and time in the hospital.  Nearly 200 riders tested their skills on the Series Finale course that will certainly go down as one of the better courses for 2010.

Full Results:

1  Brandt Brig            ReboundSPL   01:44:43.60
2  Anderson Sloane   Pro Air             01:45:49.20
3  Russell Matt          KENDAUSA     01:46:05.70
4  Rogers Bruce        Hutch's           01:53:43.10
5  Kem Omer           Jamis               01:55:45.60
6  Ceccorulli James   Team Dirt        01:57:44.90
7  Cole-Baker Bruce Sunnyside       01:58:26.50
8  Schmitt Damian     Sunnyside       01:59:15.80
9  Carwile Steve                                02:18:10.60
DNF Myers Jonathan Team S+M
DNF Swanson Chad  Team S+M

Immediately after the race I went to the Medical tent to have my knee attended to. 


A bigger gash than I anticipated, stitches would be required.  After getting cleaned up, bandaged and iced, and then waiting for the awards ceremony it was off to the hospital to get stitches.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Elkhorn Classic Report

The goal going in to this race was to get in some solid miles and a few hard days of racing...mission accomplished.  I have done 1 other road race prior to this Stage Race this season so far, so I wasn't sure how the leg would respond to the various speeds that you encounter in a road race.  Road racing is so much different than mountain biking, and yet I enjoy doing both.  Not having a team to work the tactical game, I would have to play my cards smart if I wanted to stay at the front.

In this race there were two (2) road race stages, a Time Trial and a Criterium.  Considering I do not practice Time Trialing (nor do I have any aero equipment), my chances at a top GC spot would be slim.

              Heading out on Stage 1

The opening Stage was a 76 mile race over rolling terrain with a flat finish.  The pace for the first 20 miles was beyond mellow, we were creaping along to say the least.  However, the remaining 50+ miles were some good racing.  The strongest team in the Pro/1/2 field was definitely Team Exergy, with probably Hagens-Berman second.  I rode consistently in the top 20 to keep an eye on what was happening or if there were any attacks I didn't want to get stuck behind in a chasing group.  The last 20 miles really started to shake things up in the peloton where most of the climbing was taking place.  I was feeling very comfortable and felt like the energy level was high.  with roughly 8 miles to go there was a 2 mile climb that shreaded the peloton.  I continued to sit in around 8th position as we crested the summit.  After a fast descent we were on the final flat section with 5k to go.  I was sitting in the perfect and then at the 1k sign my hamstrings completely locked up with cramps and I couldn't pedal.  I drifted to the back of the group of about 30 riders and was able to shake out the cramp and finish 20th.  Had a not cramped I was looking at a top finishing spot.  Fortunately my legs were able to respond fairly quickly and the cramp went away otherwise i could have easily lost 30 seconds in the final 1k.

Stage 2 was the individual TT.  The course a total of 11.1 miles with 5.5 miles of out and back on mostly flat roads with a slight incline.  There was a slight headwind after the turnaround as well.  The riders were spaced out 30 seconds goal was not to let more than 1 rider pass me.  Ahhh well that didn't happen.  By the time I reached the halfway point, I was already passed by one rider.  And then with 3 miles left I was passed by another rider.  Fortunately I can be somewhat relieved to know that both riders finished in the Top 10 for the stage.  Maybe one of these days I will put more emphasis on Time Trialing and have a good result.

            Racing the Criterium  on the Cannondale with the slick roads

Stage 3 was the Criterium.  The course was the same as usual...a 1k, 5 corner, smooth road course.  However, since the Pro field was last to go we were having to deal with Mother Nature bringing in some nasty rain and winds.  They had already canceled the Cat 3 race and were unsure if we would be racing or not.  The race director prolonged the start by a few minutes to see if the rain would stop and also to sweep up some puddles and slick spots.  While warming up on the course my rear tire consistently would slide out on every corner.  This was not going to make for a comfortable race.  I lowered my tire pressure to 95psi and that helped a little, but I wasn't even close to race speed yet.  The rain stopped and the race was about to begin.  On the very first turn 1 rider slid out and crashed.  Everyone looked at each other and said "this is going to be ugly".  We raced for a total of 55 minutes and after the roads eventually dried up it made for some exciting racing.  I didn't do anything too aggressive, just stayed near the front as much as possible to avoid any crashes.  Besides the first turn crash, there was only 1 other crash that involved 3 or 4 riders.

More Crit action

The final stage was a 102 mile loop withe several 2-3 mile climbs and the 8 mile climb up Dooley Mtn. for the finish.  I was thinking that I might try to get into a breakaway and make up the 3 minutes that was down in the overall GC but it didn't happen.  Mother Nature again brought upon some shitty weather, with the temps hovering in the 50's and rain coming down steady.  The pace was much faster in the e beginning as compared to Stage 1, but still only moderate.  A couple riders attacked early but were brought back in. Then another 5 riders attacked and I went with them...but we were pulled back in shortly as well.  I believe 4 riders had a attacked and gotten away but I didn't see it.  As the race hit the small climbs (roughly miles 35-55) the peloton began to split apart.  I was having no problem staying towards the front and was feeling good.  The race really began to intensify around mile 70 where the cross winds were fierce and the pace was insane.  Riders were getting dropped left and right.  With the cross winds coming from the left the peloton was strung out in single file on the right hand shoulder.  At times, the road disappeared and turned to dirt.  I got caught in the dirt and almost lost the lead group.  I had to chase hard for about 20 seconds to catch back on.  A few other riders were not so lucky as they never saw the lead group again.  We maintained a 30+ mph pace for pretty much the remainder of the flat section roads until the final climb of the day.  Once we hit the climb the pace settled down into a temp pace.  For the first 3 miles I was with the lead group, but after a hard a attack by a Hagens-Berman rider I slowly began to fade back.  I found myself riding with three other riders at a hard tempo effort the rest of the climb.  As we crossed the finish line I was totally exhausted...a hard 4.5 hours in the saddle but great training.  I finished 17th on the day and 17th in the overall GC.  Stage 4 results can be found here along with the other Stages.

The new BMC Pro Machine SLC 01bike rode simply amazing.  The combination of stiffness and lightness makes for a much more enjoyable racing experience.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stage Racing

If you don't already know are multi-day races compiled into one event.  For most road races, these can range anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks, and for mountain bike races anywhere from 3 days to 10 days.

I am gearing up for a few upcoming stage races (both road and mountain) beginning this weekend in Baker City, OR with the Elkhorn Classic SR.  This is a race favorite among most Oregon riders, with 4 stages over 3 days.  It's a little less popular than the Mt Hood Classic or the Cascade Cycling Classic, but still offers the Pro to Recreational rider a solid challenge.

I will be using the Elkhorn Classic SR and the also upcoming Cascade Cycling Classic SR in late July as tune-ups for the Trans Rockies TR3 event in August.  There is nothing like simulating a stage race like racing in a stage race.  However, it is easy to over train the body by doing too many stage races, so you have to be careful not to overdo it.  Three stage races spaced over 3 months (June-Aug) is perfect considering the lengths and number of stages per event.  Then in either September or October I will be competing in another mountain bike stage race, however, this one is yet to be determined.

I'm still amazed by how the riders in the Tour de France or Giro d' Italia can maintain such high speeds throughout a 3 week stage race over incredibly difficult terrain.  The key to staying competitive is making sure to consume enough calories to maintain the energy levels needed to compete at that level day in and day out.  Going into a stage race, your goal should not be to lose weight (as that will happen on it's own) but rather maintain your current weight.  You can very easily lose 10 lbs during a stage race and that could be a loss of muscle rather than fat.

It's going to be a great couple of months looking ahead.  With summer and the Tour just around the corner, what else could you be asking for.  Get out and enjoy!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Poison Oak...

is eating me up.  After getting back home from the Return on the Jedi race, I realized I had been zapped by a poison oak tree.  I have never had poison ivy or oak so this is a new experience, and one I have not been enjoying. 

My right arm looks like it has 2nd degree burns all over it.  Oh yeah, and on top of that, it REALLY itches.  Take a look for yourself:

This is the worst of it, but I also have it on my knee and abdominal area.  I am on antibiotics so I am hoping that this will be gone soon.  I have heard some horrifying stories of others who had this, so I guess I can be glad that I only have it on my arm, knee and stomach.  :)

If you ever get this I would recommend that you don't take a hot shower, you will want to scratch until you bleed.  I'm not sure why, but warm/hot water just adds wood to the fire.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Return on the Jedi Report

Another xc race I have been wanting to do for several years, the Return on The Jedi, happened this past weekend down near Grants Pass, OR.  The drive down from Bend takes about 3.5 hours, so Bruce, Dave and myself decided to go down Sat night and spend the night.

The name of the race stems from the last section of trail on the course, named the Jedi Trail, hence that is how riders return the the finish.  The course consists of one big loop (28.7 miles) that is comprised of steep climbs, technical singletrack and several creek crossings.  During a few steep climbs "Granny" decided to show up.  Also making an appearance was Adam Craig, fresh off his return to racing down on Lance's Ranch last weekend.  The # of riders (about 90 total) wasn't as big as previous races, most likely due to the fact that the course is out in the middle of nowhere, but those who showed up were treated to a true mountain bike course.  Adding to the difficulty if the course was the rain that had fallen a few days prior and also during the race.  There were several sections where it felt like clay, and that made for some sketchy riding at times.

                                        Photo courtesy:  Bike Kraft

The race began with a short "starter loop" around the camp area.  Once we hit the pavement out of the camp, it was a short distance before we again turned into a sweet singletrack section with lots of switchbacks an rollers.  I was leading the way at this point with Adam, Brig and Matt on my wheel.  After a few miles we jumped back out on the pavement and began a short climb.  The four of us stayed together as we then hit more singletrack that would begin the start of a long climb.  This was one of the more challenging sections of the course because the trail was very soft and it was difficult to get any speed, so even though you felt like you were working your tail off, you weren't going that fast.  I continued to push a fast tempo pace for several miles.  Then Brig pulled through along with Adam and Matt and I weren't able to keep their pace.  We stayed within 30-40 feet throughout most of the climb, still within sight so we knew we weren't losing much time.  The singletrack eventually became a fire road.  Once we crested the climb we started a fast descent  which in places was pretty hairy.  Hitting speeds of 30+ mph I nearly went of the road and into a ditch on one turn.  Matt and I were able to catch  back up to Adam and Brig just in time before the steepest and most technical climb on the course.  For about a mile, the trail was nothing but small rocks that were loose and a good 30% gradient.  The effort of the climb was well worth it because soon after we would enjoy some very fun technical descending, the kind where you are off the back of the saddle as far as you can go.

                                   Photo Courtesy:  Bike Kraft

With a grin still on my face is was time for one more grueling climb before reaching the Jedi trail.  At this point Adam and Brig had a small gap on Matt and I.  We rode our steady pace listening to each other grunt and breath heavily in sections, while also pushing each other to ride at our limit.  I'm not sure how many miles that last climb was but it sure seemed to take forever.  It reminded me a lot of riding at Capitol Forest up in Washington State; lots of lush green forest trees, mud, tons of switchbacks, the feeling of solitude, and very challenging.

The final 5 miles were mostly downhill on the Jedi Trail.  The trail, however, was a mixture of mud/clay so it was pretty slick on most of the turns.  I pushed as hard as I could but it wasn't enough to crack the Top 3.  Adam pulled out the win with Brig, Matt and then myself finishing shortly behind.  It was a great day of racing and one I would definitely recommend.

Pro Men

Pl    Num   First Name     Last Name      Time
  1    257   Adam           Craig         02:29:52.00
  2    261   Brig           Brandt        02:31:26.00
  3    265   Matt           Russell       02:33:26.00
  4    267   Sloan          Anderson      02:34:14.00
  5    266   Jonathan       Myers         02:43:54.00
  6    262   James          Ceccorulli    02:45:42.00
  7    268   Bruce          Rogers        02:47:59.00
  8    259   Bear           Perrin        02:48:05.00
DNF    260   Timmy          Evans             

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Crazy fun!

Think you have good downhill mountain bike skills, well let's see how they stack up to these guys.  Reminds me of my ride last week...yeah right.  I advise you to check out this wicked downhill video and enjoy.