Monday, September 26, 2011

This is ugly

I happened to stumble upon this photo the other day and it makes me cringe every time I look at it.  Probably one of the scariest "cycling" crashes I have ever seen; whether it be in person or a photo.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marathon Nat's...and the winner is

Adam Craig

With high school and colleges beginning classes recently, it was fitting that Adam "schooled" the rest of the field during the 52 mile Marathon National Championship race in a time of 3 hours 10 min.  Adam's former Giant Factory teammate and training partner, Carl Decker, was the only rider to match the speed finishing a close 2nd.

The race began with a neutral roll out on pavement for 2 miles and then continued down the road for another 3.5 miles before ducking into the first singletrack/doubletrack section.  This section of trail was a taste of what was ahead for the next 45+ miles.  DUST! and lots of it.  This photo says it all, just look at the layers of dust covering my face. (nice V on the forehead)

Alot of the early fireroad riding was similar to riding in Moab (like on a beach).  Typically this time of year in Central Oregon the trails are soft and dusty, but this seemed to be the worst I have seen the trails.  Not sure if it was due to the fact that so many riders have been riding them lately (with the 24 Hours of Bend race last weekend and Marathon Nat's this weekend).  I guess I needed to ride faster to avoid the dust clouds.

After 3+ more miles of fireroad riding, we entered a new singletrack section (Steve Larsen Trail...built in memory of the late Steve Larsen) which was pretty sweet.  Lots of rolling switchbacks with a few technical sections thrown in.  By the time we reached the bottom of Funner Trail, Brig, myself and James were riding together sitting in 14th,15th and 16th respectively.  By the time we grunted and grunted some more and reached the top of Funner Brig and I had put some time on James and had passed several other riders.  While grabbing a much needed full bottle of fuel from Jenny in the feed zone. Brig and I rode together through some of the sweetest singletrack riding in Bend, the start of the Tiddlewinks descent.  This section of Trail includes lots of tight singletrack switchbacks while riding through tight trees, and the trail is much more packed down. 

Adam leading Carl through feed zone #1

We then reached the Dina Moh Humm Trail; which was a 12 mile loop in between the feed zones.  This section is relatively new and is another example of the excellent work that COTA does building trails.  Brig and I caught and passed a Sportsman and Ski Haus rider, and slowly brig began to open the gap on me.  Knowing that there was a 6-mile fireroad section still ahead leading back to the 2nd feed zone, I didn't want to be caught in no-man's land riding solo.  Well damn it, that's exactly what happened.  Shit!  With a huge grin still on my face from riding the singletrack, it quickly turned to a frown because I found myself alone on the fireroad fighting the wind.  I could see Brig up ahead with 1 or 2 other riders and they were working together trading pulls opening up a bigger gap on me.  I looked back and didn't see anyone behind me.  Then after 4 miles and just before we turned left up another fireroad I noticed the (2) Sportsman and Ski Haus riders right behind me.  Ugghhh.   We entered the 2nd feed zone together and once again I received a much needed full bottle of fuel from my support crew (Jenny and Robyn). 

The three of us rode together as we now began the Tiddlewinks descent again, this time riding it all the way down to Storm King.  This is where I think Adam and Carl were able to put lots of time on their competitors.  Adam and Carl are probably the two best XC downhill riders in the country (both do many Super D races and win; hence Downeville Classic 2009, 2010 and Super D Nationals this year in Idaho). 

I'm not the best descender, however, I was able to pull away front the Sportsman and Ski Haus duo on the descent and even catch another rider before reaching teh start of Storm King; which would be another 6 or so miles of mostly downhill.  By the time I popped out onto Conklin Rd. my forearms were burning.  All that was left was a 5 mile pavement section and a few singletrack sections thrown in towards the finish; enough to just piss you off.  Funny thing is, I didn't even know some of these trails existed.  I could feel my energy quickly beginning to evaporate from my body and that was evident when 5 riders passed me on the pavement.  I did notice that 4 of them were all on 29'ers.  Just before we turned in on a trail that went behind the Athletic Club of Bend, I noticed that one of the Hammer riders and James were now behind me.   They both eventually passed me too adding insult to injury.  We all three crossed the finish line with the other 2 duking it out in a sprint, while I crossed the line deflated.

 finish line!

I had a good race, but much like the Masters Road National Championship race, I would have liked to finish things off better than I did.  I was hoping to be able to pull out a Top 15, but unfortunately ended up 24th. 

Congratulations to Adam.  It was good to see the Stars and Stripes jersey stay local and go to a Bend rider, stripping JHK of his chance to 3-peat.   Nice job Adam.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The season finale

The cycling season for most has already come to a close or is near it's end soon (of course unless you are a 'crosser...aka: cyclocross for those of you who don't know the slang).  For me it is within a few days.  On Saturday (9/17) the MTB Marathon National Championships will take place in Bend, OR.  Racers form all over the country are flocking to this small, hip, outdoorsy town once again.  Just two weeks ago "roadies" were invading our little town to compete in the Masters National Championships (you can read my Blog report on that here). 

It's been a long season but it's always a bit sad when it's over.  I am, however, looking to partake in other outdoor activities and do some high alpine camping.  Cross season has already begun locally and nationally, and kicks in high gear come November-January.  Cross-Vegas just happened yesterday which usually attracts many top 'cross racers. 

Since Masters Nationals I have taken things pretty easy as far as volume during training.  With only two weeks apart from each other I have been able to maintain the form while fine-tuning some of my intensity work.  My body feels well rested and my weight is right where I want it to be.  Controlling the nutrition is always key to keeping your form.  We've been fortunate to have been given lots of local fresh vegetables from friends and co-workers.  Keeping the fridge stocked with tasty, fresh, organic produce can be quite expensive.  Thank you all!  

The BMC is dialed and ready to go.  I made a few minor changes in the setup, but otherwise it is the same.  It's definitely not the lightest setup (25lbs) I could have, but I am opting for more durability.  Even though there are several miles of pavement and fireroad, there are also many rocks on the course.  The course distance is 52 miles, so I'm guessing the time to be around 4 hours to complete.  I was hoping we would get some much-needed rain this week, but mother nature has other plans.  Although the temperatures have dropped significantly in the past few days, the trails remain dry and dusty.  Start time on Saturday is at 9am, and the expected temperature at that time is supposed to be 45 degrees...whoa nilly!

With the Colorado duo of Wells and JHK (last years' winner), they have to be the early favorites.  So far, Wells has had his best season, taking the 2010 Cyclocross National Championship in December, the XC National Championship race in June, and then Leadville 100 in August while placing in the Top 10 at several World Cup XC races.  Alex Grant is also a threat as is Hall of Famer Dave Weins.  The local Bend riders looking to challenge for a podium spot include Adam Craig, Carl Decker, myself, Brig Brandt, and James Williams.  Here is the complete list of riders

Stay tuned for a full report on Sunday or Monday.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Prepare yourself

One of the coolest videos I have seen, the announcers add to the excitement!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Masters National Championship Road Race Report

With about 118 riders lined up today to compete for the 40-44 Masters road race, it was sure to be a slug fest considering we were only going to race for 54 miles and the talent that was competing.  As mentioned the course consisted of lots of rollers, 1 steep short climb and lots of flat sections.  As with most days in Bend, the wind was a bit of a factor blowing around somewhere between 15-20mph. 

The first part of lap 1 began pretty mellow, and then about 3/4 through I tried to get away with three other riders (2 of which were good TT riders).  It didn't mount to anything and was quickly brought back.   Then  on lap 2 another group of riders tried to get away, and the same result they were brought back. 

Temperatures were hovering around the 90 degree mark at the start of our race, so this would eventually play a critical role during the race.  There was 1 feed zone about 10k from the finish.  I started with 2 bottles thinking that that would be sufficient enough if the race only lasted 2-2.5 hrs.  I think I errored on this one.

With about 5k to go on the 2nd lap, I got into a breakaway with 5 other riders that quickly grew to a 30-sec gap, then 45-sec and as high as 1-minute 10 sec.  We were all working together well.  I was running out of fluids 1/2 way around the last lap and knew this was going to cost me.  With 10k to go a rider behind me (Jason Boynton - Folsom Bike) clipped my rear tire and he crashed and hit the ground pretty hard.  I wasn't sure what happened (after the race he told me he reached down to grab a water bottle and lost control and hit my rear tire).  I looked back and he was alright and got back on his bike (not without totally trashing his nice Zipp wheel).  He wasn't able to catch back on the lead group but still finished strong (13th I believe).

Once we hit the final climb up Archie Briggs (the only steep climb on the course), I felt the effect of cramping coming on and my energy getting zapped out of my body.  I tried everything I could to stay attached to the lead group to the top of the climb but was slowly fading back.  By the time we crested the top I was 10 sec back.  At this point I knew I wasn't going to be able to bridge the gap and catch back on, so I cruised the rest of the way to the finish.  I was completely out of gas ("bonked" as we say in cycling).

It's frustrating, however, I gave it everything I had and wasn't going to settle for a field sprint at the end.  I did everything I wanted to except finish it off.  Sometimes the result doesn't turn out the way you would like it to.

Time to rest up and prepare for MTB Marathon Nationals in 2 weeks.