Sunday, July 29, 2012

Shit happens

Where to I begin with this weekends Oregon XC Championship race down in Jacksonville, OR.  Let's start at the start of the race.  For starters their was only 5 of us that toed the line to claim Oregon's 2012 state championships   Sad, I know.  However, all 5 riders were strong enough to claim the title.  I didn't have the luxury to pre-ride the course so I went it the race blindfolded, so to speak.  I don't like NOT knowing what is around each corner.  As the gun went off (actually it was the race director saying "GO") signaling the start of the race, Evan Plews and I jumped to the front and set a good pace.  I took the whole shot into the first singletrack section, and this is where the "shit happens" begins.

As I mentioned earlier NOT knowing what is around each corner is not something I enjoy.  With that said, I continued at the front only to have my front wheel slip out from under my body, and before I knew it I was on the ground.  "What just happened", was my first thought.  Then instinctively, I picked my bike up and jumped back on to stay close to the rest of the riders.  Low and behold, as I mounted my bike and began riding again, I realized my handlebars/stem had been bent to one side.  I continued to ride this way and shortly after we popped back onto the fireroad, I stopped to adjust my handlebars.  I would have to stop once again later to do this because what I initially thought was straight really wasn't.

We climbed up a fireroad for a few miles and I worked my way back to Brig who was in 2nd while Evan was at the front.  I slowly pulled away from Brig but couldn't bridge the gap to Evan just yet.  With constant up-and-down riding (very similar to east-coast style of riding), we worked our way around the foothills of Jacksonville.  In the course description, there was a "monster" climb labeled Jed's climb (named notoriously for a local rider named Jed who rode his bike to/from work via this hill climb.  How bad could it be?  When we hit it I knew we were on it.  Fortunately, it wasn't that long, but damn it was steep; steep enough to have me on the tip of my saddle leaning over my handlebars.  I hope everyone else hurt like I did climbing that damn thing...thanks Jed!  With temps in the 90's, the sunscreen I put on earlier was dripping down my face and into my mouth.  Nothing like tasting salty sweat!  At least it was my own...

Brig and I would sort of yo yo back and forth with me pulling away on the climbs and him catching back up to me at the bottom of the descents.  Towards the end we rode on a trail that had huge banked burms, lots of deep ruts, and more steep up and downs.  Near the bottom of this descent we rode some freshly made trails that was pretty sweet but short lived.  More of this would have been nice.

More shit happens.  At the bottom of the descent, we had popped out onto Reservoir Rd, which we were to climb for a few miles, then descend to the finish on singletrack.  Well as soon as I was on the road, my rear tire got sliced by a rock and was instantly flat.  Stan's seal did no good keeping air in this one.  As I prepared  to install my tube, I realized the valve stem was not ling enough to go through my Enve rims.  So.........I was left hopeless in my attempt to chase down Brig and Evan with any hope of winning the race.  It was an unfortunate flat because I was feeling good on the climbs and felt I could have pulled back Evan on the final climb.  As it turned out Brig finished 1 minute behind Evan.  As I walked my bike back down the road to the start/finish (about 1.5 miles...ugghhh) I saw Evan and Brig both crossing he finish line.  In the time it took me to walk down the road they completed the remaining miles of the course.  I couldn't have flatted at a more worse time.

Congrats to Evan for taking home Gold.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Upcoming events

With the first "peak" of the season under my belt (Furious 3), it's time to focus on the 2nd half of the season. For the past few weeks I have been recovering and building back up for what should be a very busy few weeks.

The madness kicks off this weekend down in Jacksonville, OR, host of the Oregon XC and Super D Championships.  I will only be competing in the XC event; I'll let Adam Craig do his thing in the Super D.  Damn I wish I had his DH Skills.  The event is named the Stage Coach XC due to the location down in Jacksonville, OR.  Named Southern Oregon's first town in 1966, Jacksonville was later designated as a National  Historic Landmark.  Apparently, Jacksonville, OR was a gold-mining mecca in the mid-1850's.

After rippin' it down in one mining town, I head to Breckenridge, CO (another mining town) for my first attempt at high-altitude racing to compete in the Breck Epic.  Covering nearly 240 miles and ascending over 37,000 ft. might seem daunting, but then add in the fact that the race will occur at elevations between 9,600 and 12,000 ft. and it becomes horrific.  Beauuuuutiful!  We as athletes like to challenge ourselves, that's what keep us motivated and continuing to punish ourselves on a daily basis.  You definitely cannot get the same "euphoric high" sitting behind a desk typing away on a computer.

After driving home from the Breck, I have only a few days before shredding more dirt up in Washington State near Olympia, WA...that is if I still have any oxygen left in my body.  This used to be one of my favorite stomping grounds when I lived in Washington, so I am psyched to ride there again.  Always full of epic singletrack, the Capitol Forest 50 should be the icing on the cake as for the the racing in the month of August.

Stay tuned for race reports from each event and will hopefully share some video as well.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Furious 3 - from another racers' perspective

Here is a race report from Evan Plews (Ibis), from the Furious 3 race up in Canada.  Evan finished 4th in GC.
Check out his report here...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Furious 3 Videos

Here are a few more videos that were compiled by Kevin Pennock and his crew at Ride Guide.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Here is a final full recap of the race from the Fernie Mix ( a local Fernie, BC magazine)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Furious 3 - Stage 3

Final results here

Start of stage 3

Wow, I didn't think today could have been any better than Stage 2 but I was wrong.  Stage 3 consisted of mostly singletrack and very few forest road riding.  A short 2k start on pavement through a neighborhood led us to the first singletrack section.  Entering this section in good position was critical.  I heard later after the race that some riders had gotten bottle-necked and had to walk.

Shawn Bullin was feeling good today and shortly after entering the singletrack moved to the front and pushed the pace hard.  I was able to get by a few riders to move in to 2nd position and had to work hard to chase him down.  I was able to catch him shortly after exiting the singletrack on a forest road, but wasn't able to maintain the hard pace he was pushing.  Knowing that I only had a 2.5 minute lead on him in the overall GC, I couldn't afford him to get too far ahead.

Lots of technical rolling terrain today kept us on edge the entire time.  Even though the weather was sunny and warm today, the trails had dried out a bit but had turned even more slippery than previous days, and the rooty sections became even more challenging.

Today we had to climb Hyperventilation Trail again (a steep 4 mile singletrack climb) and this was where I thought I could make up time on Shawn.  At the top of the climb, one of the spectators had mentioned that I was 2 minutes behind.  With only about 8 miles to the finish I had to do everything I could to maintain my overall lead.  The majority of the race was downhill on some super gnarly trails.  High speeds and narrow singletrack made for a great way to end an epic 3 days of riding.

I finished a close 2nd behind Shawn on today's stage, but was able to hold on for the overall GC victory. 

Solo Men Open Podium:  
L to R: Mike Vine (not present), Sloane, Shawn Bullin

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Furious 3 - Stage 2

Race results here

What can I say about today's stage other than purely epic!

This mornings race began at the Fernie Alpine Resort, just a few km outside of Fernie BC.  Steady rain continued all morning and never let up the entire race.  We started on a gravel road with a gradual climb on xc ski trails.  It didn't take long for the main pack to separate and by mile 5 there was a small group of 8 of us.  The first singletrack section was a very technical section that was a combination of steep ups and downs.  Fortunately, the section was very short and before the legs completely filled up with lactic acid we hit another fire road climb.  During this climb a few more riders fell off and it was down to 4 of us!


It stayed this way for a long time, until we started to climb on singletrack near Island Lake Lodge and the Fernie Provincial Park when one rider wasn't able to maintain the pace.
Myself, Shawn Bunnin, and Mike Vine strolled through the first aid station and neither of us opted to grab any food/hydration.  More steep climbing on singletrack would be the theme for the next 40 minutes or so.  With the trails extremely muddy, riding over roots became difficult at times.  Around mile 20 three of us stopped at Aid 2 to grab a bottle to provide the energy to finish the final 8 miles.  

We descended near the town of Fernie and rode some city trails for a few miles before reaching the final singletrack section (same as final singletrack as yesterday but in reverse direction).  At this point the race for the win was "on"!  Shawn Bunnin made the move that would stick to win the race.  I stayed close but couldn't gain, so I finished 2nd today by a few seconds, leaving me even hungrier for a stage win tomorrow!