Saturday, June 30, 2012

Furious 3 - Stage 1

Race results here

The morning of the race brought sunny skies again.  After a small breakfast and getting dressed I headed to the start which take place on the streets in downtown Fernie.  Over 300 racers gathered around the streets warming up their legs.

The start began on pavement for a short neutral roll-out before turning to a gravel/forest road.  No one was eager to attack so the pace was moderate.  After about 6 miles the road turned uphill and that is when the race "officially" began.  I immediately rode to the front and set a high tempo pace. A few minutes of suffering began to spread the pack out and soon there was a group of 6 of us.  The road continued for another 4 or so miles and slowly a few more riders began to drop off the pace.  It was now just 4 of us as we entered the first singletrack section of the day.  I was the lead rider so I was able to choose the good line, or at least the line I wanted to.  All I can say about the first 2 minutes of the trail (Trail 48 Hours) was sweeeet.   Full on singletrack at it's best.  The trail had lots of switchbacks, tons of off-camber roots, several 2-3 foot drops, and some mud mixed in to add to the bliss.  This was probably the most memorable trail of the day, unfortunately I didn't have my camera on for that section.

We popped out of 48 Hours and began more climbing on forest roads.  With sunny skies and humidity it was starting to get pretty warm.  Some more climbing and another fun singletrack section brought us to the forest road that lead to the first Aid Station.  There were still 4 of us together as each of us quickly dropped a bottle for a for full one and continued on.  We descended down some singletrack and eventually made our way to the queen climb of the day, Hyperventilation Trail, which is true to it's name.  Slowly another rider and myself began to pull away from the other two riders.  Lots of heavy breathing and sweating lasted for about 15 - 20  minutes.

This clip is climbing up to the top of the Hyperventilation Trail and descending.
You'll notice the trail is dry on the climb, one of only a few trails that were.

Upon reaching the top, I took a quick glimpse to try and soak in the views but it was too short to see anything.  Here was another epic section which included many of the same features as 48 Hours, only this trail had more steep descents.  The trail went on for a good 10-15 min. before we reached yet another forest road.  Energy level was still pretty high and the 2 of us seemed to be feeding off each others efforts.

As we entered the final singletrack section of the day, I was in 2nd place but only a short distance behind.  This trail included some "unwanted" climbing through some very technical and rooty sections and a lot more mud.  This was by far the muddiest trail of the day, saved the best for last I guess.  I kept looking at my Garmin Edge to see the mileage and I started to think we were on the wrong trail because we only had a few mile remaining and we just kept climbing and climbing.  Later I heard other riders saying the same thing.

The final 3k to the finish was a combination of a forest road and pavement.  I was roughly 30 meters from the leader and was slowly closing the gap.  As I gave it everything I had it wasn't enough, as I crossed the finish line just a few seconds behind.

All in all it was a great start to the 3-day event and I can't wait to see what else the race directors have in store for us.  If it's like today it's going to be 3 days of pure fun.

The calm before the storm

Jenny and I arrived in Fernie, British Columbia, Canada on Thursday afternoon to sunny skies.  The Canadian Rockies welcomed us with snow capped peaks and lush green ski slopes...quite the beautiful scenery.
Racer check-in was on Friday, so we had a day to unwind from the long drive, unpack all the gear and get settled into our hotel.  After we were settled in and checked out he town a little (of course where all the restaurants were and where we wanted to go out for dinner) I saddled up and went for a 1.5 hr ride.  I decided to stay on forest roads due to the trails being pretty sloppy from all the rain Fernie had received the past 2 weeks.  From what the local were saying, it had rained 2 weeks straight prior to this week.

We went to our favorite place for dinner, The Curry Bowl (we were here 2 years ago for the Trans Rockies TR3 race) and enjoyed a good meal and a few drinks.  Upon waking up Friday morning, we had grey skies and rain.  Rain continued for the majority of the day, so we decided to head up to the ski resort and check that out.

We initially were planning to test our adventure skills and zip line at the resort (new addition this year) but they were still setting some things up and weren't open yet.  We hope to try this on Monday after the race, photos will accompany for sure.

Friday we took a drive to the Island Lake Lodge which is a huge log cabin lodge nested in the woods with breath-taking views of the Rockies.   We went for a short hike on Tamarack Trail and even saw a moose strolling by.  If you have never seen a moose, just imagine seeing a horse, those animals are huge.  Friday night I picked up my packet and talked to a few of the riders.  The nerves started to kick in as the sight of all the high-end bikes strolled down the streets of Fernie.  Nerves are a good thing though, right.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Heading North

In the next few days i will be heading north up into Canada.  I will be competing in the Furious 3 (Fernie)  3-day mtb stage race.  This is one of 2 races I am peaking for this season and I feel as though my fitness is right where I want it to be.  Fernie is a super cool town and the singletrack there is epic.  I have ridden there once when i competed in the Trans Rockies TR3 race a few years ago.

The 3-series Furious 3 events was initially supposed to consist of 3-day races in Fernie, Whistler, and Moab.  Unfortunately, there were not enough entrants for the Whistler race and it was cancelled.  They seem to have dialed in the stage race format, linking all 3 days of racing back to the starting town, making it easy logistically to set up camp (ie: hotel).  Each days' racing will consist of mostly singletrack, designed to cater to the racers.

Since I have been preparing and tapering for this race, I had to skip the Pickett's Charge XC race that happened this past weekend.  It's one of the local favorite's as it includes Funner and Tiddlewinks trails.  Sunnyside Sports puts the race on and does a great job every year making the race fun for all.  This year Ryan Trebon took top honors as he bested Brennan Wodtli and Brett Nichols with a time of 1:36 over the course of 25 miles.  Recent rain I'm sure made the course conditions the best they have been since the race moved to the new trails.

Here are the bikes I am bringing to the Furious 3 event...Kona Hei Hei Supreme and Kona King Kahuna.

                 King Kahuna                                                                                                              Hei Hei Supreme

I will be bringing my helmet camera so will be posting daily footage from the event along with a race recap after each stage.  Stay tunes for some footage from Canada.  Hope you enjoy, ehh.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Test of Endurance 50

This past weekend was the TOE 50 race over in Blodgett, OR.  I haven't done this race in over 5 years so it was nice to be able to fit it into the schedule this year.  I have to say that any race/event that is well known by it's acronym is a pretty damn good event.  The Test of Endurance 50/100 is better-known to racers as the TOE 50/100.  You have the option of completing either 50-miles or 100-miles.

The 50-milers do 2 laps on a designed course, and the 100-miles do 4 laps on the same course.  If you are familiar at all with Blodgett, OR (near Corvaillis) you know that there is lots of forest land; which means dark, lush, muddy trails.  This year, however, the weather leading up to the event and during the event was very nice (although pretty humid and muggy this year) keeping the trails in excellent condition.  There were only a few sections on the course where there was some wet dirt.

I opted for the 50-miler.  My days of riding, yet alone racing, for more than 4 hours are over.  I've come to realize that over the years, my mind begins to drift as I reach the 3-4 hour range on the bike.  No longer am I able to stay focused enough to push my body hard beyond the 4-hour mark.

The TOE 50/100 is a Mudslinger Events event; which if you are familiar with that name then you know the race Director is Mike Ripley.  By far the best race director in Oregon, he always puts on the best events and offers the best swag post-race.  He definitely puts on races for the racers.  Some other mudslinger events include the High Cascades 100 (now part of the NUE Series), the High Cascades 24-Hour, and the Mudslinger (an all-out mud fest every year).

The TOE 50/100 course consisted of many miles of steep fireroad climbs and tight singletrack.  There were definitely more fireroad climbing on the course than I remember.   I opted to bring the full-suspension bike which turned out to be the wrong decision.  The climbs no doubt took some energy out of me during the 2nd lap, and slugging a 27 lb bike rather than my 22 lb hardtail didn't make things easier.  Knowing that I would be at a disadvantage on the climbs, I knew I would have to really let it loose on the rolling singletrack and descents.

After a few miles of a neutral roll-out the race began on doubletrack.  Around mile 4, I realized I had lost a bottle that had fallen out of my rear-post cage.  I knew this wasn't going to be good considering the warm temperatures.   I upped the pace and quickly began to open a gap.  I was joined by about 6 other riders and continued to set a tempo pace.

Slowly myself and 2 other riders (Will Sullivan and John Merrill) pulled away from the rest of the group.  At the start of the 2nd lap we had roughly a 4 -min lead.  Merrill made his move around mile 30,  attacking on one of the fireroad climbs.  I wasn't able to match the acceleration and continued to settle into my high tempo pace with Sullivan on my wheel.  Shortly before the Aid Station Sullivan had fallen off my pace and I was now trying to chase down Merrill

I could feel my energy beginning to get low and was starting to struggle up some of the steeper sections.  Fortunately, with having lost one of my bottle on lap 1 (and lap 2) I wasn't cramping at all.  The humidity was climbing along with the temperatures and making some of the exposed fireroad climbing difficult.

I was eventually caught by John Weathers a the start of the final descent down Panama Canal.  After the sweet 4 mile singletrack section we had the final 2-mile gravel road to the finish.  In classic Ripley style, he added an extra bit of excitement by adding in a timed .1 stretch to the finish.  The fastest timed speed would win you a Garmin GPS.  The winning time was clocked at 22mph, pretty impressive.  I couldn't out-sprint John to the finish and ended up taking 3rd place with a time of 4:02.  Merrill won with a time of 3:58.  The course record is still held by Carl Decker at 3:38.

After the race there were huge-ass burritos waiting for all racers to fill their empty stomach's with.  Ohhhh did it taste so good.  After hanging out watching some of the other racers finish, they did the awards and then the swag raffle.  They were even raffling off a brand new Specialized bike (valued at $2500).  Just about everyone who stuck around walked away with some sort of swag.

Full results here

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fitness site

For those of you who have not yet visited my Fitness Blog, Fitness Training by Sloane, I highly suggest you do so now.  Here are some of the topics I Blog about...

1.  General exercises - aka: Weekend Workouts
2.  Smoothie recipes
3.  Core conditioning exercises
4.  Fitness Challenges - to really test your fitness level
5.  Health Questionnaires - to test your knowledge
6.  Quotes - aka: Weekly Wednesday Quotavation
7.  Other health -related topics

Feel free to leave a comment in the "Comment" section below each post and share some feedback.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bikes and Beers

Quickly becoming a "classic event in Bend...
Now in it's 3rd year, (I believe) the Blitz to the Barrel race is one of the raddest races in Bend, yet alone in the USA. I have yet to partake, always have other commitments, but the talent is some of the best around. Local boys Craig, Trebon, Wicks, Sheppard, and Decker as well as some Super D studs from other parts of the country come out to see who can race down Tiddlewinks (a sweet trail), Storm King, across a golf course (yep you heard me right a golf course...with many large drop-offs, and finishing at a Brewery to pound a pint of beer. Ahhh, I'm getting tired just writing this while thinking about that.

 Adam Craig won last year's event followed by Sheppard, Decker and Trebon. The most impressive statistic of the event in my mind was how Trebon polished off his the whole video and you'll see what I mean.

Adam Craig getting some big air
photo by Brad Cockman

This year's race was once again won by none other than Adam Craig. With his descending skills and endurance he is one of the premier riders in the world. Let's hope that he can make the 2012 Olympic team again. The rider known as "Wick-Nasty (aka: Barry Wicks) finished 2nd. He continues to have one of his best seasons to date. Trebon rounded out the podium with a 3rd place finish. Not sure how he did with the pint glass this year.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Product reviews

I've been wanting to post about this now for several weeks, so I am finally getting around to doing so.  I have a couple pieces of equipment that I would like to share some of my thoughts and experiences with in case you may be in the market for any of these.

The products I am going to give brief reviews on are the following:
Laser helmet
Oakley glasses
Revelate Designs handlebar bag
Enve 29er clincher wheels
Garmin Edge 500
ATB chain lube

Laser Genesis Helmet
This is the first season that I am riding with a Laser helmet.  I can't believe I waited so long to make the switch. The Genesis model is one of the best helmets I have ever used.  The sleek design offers 18 ventilation holes for good breathability and a snug fit.  The tensioning turn-knob on the top of the helmet is very easy to adjust while riding, and gives plenty of adjustability.  The helmet comes with extra padding (as do other manufacturers).  the price point is very impressive at $175.  It's big brother (Helium) is a bit more expensive at $230.
The only negative thing I can say is that the vents are a little narrow and make it a bit difficult to get fingers in the holes to scratch your head, or remove bugs from.

Oakley Glasses
Split jacket
Not only are these glasses appealing to look at, they are also very comfortable to wear.  A few years ago in the Pro tour peloton just about every rider was wearing these glasses making them become very popular with us mear mortals.  If nothing else, you have to look good riding your bike, right?
The lenses seem extremely clear and UV protectant, I have been wearing them for 4 months now and do NOT have any scratches on the lenses.  The frame seem very durable, and the carrying case they come in is bombproof (I highly recommend keeping your glasses in the case when not being worn.  They also come with extra lenses (clear), an extra set of nose pads, and a lens cleaner.  The lenses have small little holes on top and bottom of each lens that help minimize/eliminate any fogging.  I haven't had an issue with that yet.
I opted for these glasses to to use mainly while road bike riding, and the occasional casual wearing.  These frames seem a bit more sturdy than the Split Jackets and offer an even more snug feeling; especially around the eyes.  The lenses are extremely clear and have not yet scratched.
They too come with a nice sturdy carrying case and extra nose pads and a lens cleaner.

Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag
I opted to buy these bags (got 2) to use while doing long training rides; especially in the cold weather.  I do not like to stuff my jersey pockets with a bunch of crap, and when it's cold it's a pain in the ass to try and get food or anything else out of your pockets.  I also had in mind to use these while competing in backcountry races where being self-sufficient was a necessity.
the bags are large enough to store a tube, mini-pump, CO2 cartridge, a Park multi-tool, and 3 energy bars.  That is a lot of things in a tiny bag that is easy to access.  The internal compartment is waterproof and the out materials are water-resistant.  They have a draw string so you can keep everything secure and enclosed in case it is raining.  They bare easy to attach to your handlebar...a strap that goes around the handlebar, a strap that goes around the stem, and a clip that you can wrap around the head tube.  Trust me, the bag will NOT move at all, I have put these to the test and have ridden some super technical/bumpy trails and they have stayed perfectly still and nothing fell out.
Then only drawback to loading everything up on your handlebar in these bags is that it will make the front end of your bike much heavier, so clearing objects and climbing steep technical sections becomes that much harder.

Enve 29er Clincher MTB Wheels
What can I say about these wheels other than they are extremely light, fast, and stiff.  Then perfect combination for XC racing.  At 1430g (with DT 240 hubs) these are extremely light for even a 26" wheel, yet alone a 29er.  I am using these wheels on my Kona hardtail and make for a super quick accelerating bike.  I've logged about 350 miles on them so far and they are still perfectly true.
The rims are tubeless compatible; I had a little trouble getting the tires to seal the first time installing them, but after adding more Stan's they were very easy to inflate and seal.
I've ridden on various terrain (smooth, rocky, rooty) and have not had any issues with durability, they seem to be very durable.

Garmin Edge 500
I have the HR option along with the normal cyclometer functions.  The Edge 500 does not have maps features, so if you prefer to have that you will need to upgrade to the 800 model.  The Edge 500 comes in 3 different colors and each are pretty cool looking.  It's designed to fit on the stem and the mounting system they have is great.  Easy to install, and putting on and taking off are very easy.  You just have to rotate the Edge 90 degree to do wither and it comes right off.  It secures solid and haven;t have any trouble with it moving during riding.  The numbers are all very easy to read, even while riding, you can adjust the setting so that you display whatever you choose to.
The only negative comment would be that the buttons are a little stiff and make it hard to change from one screen to the next when riding.  I haven't had to do that yet, but ion case you are one that likes to do that while riding you may have some difficulty.  Plenty of data storage and memory.  You can also use this model with any ANT+ device, which I have the Joule so I use the HR Strap and can utilize HR and calories burned.  The nice thing is that unlike other Garmin products, the Edge is small in size (much like a normal cyclometer).

A.T.B Chain Lube
ATB - Absolutely The Best uses a special blended petroleum compound along with a premium grade oil help to keep chains lasting longer, and have less noise while riding.  I usually lube my chain after each ride and let the lubricant soak in overnight.  I've used the lube in dry and wet conditions and it seems to be just as effective in both conditions.  It also acts as a chain cleaner too.  Don't remember how much I paid, but wasn't any more than your regular lube brands (Tri Flow, etc).