Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cohutta 100!

After a long wait and much anticipation, the Cohutta 100 was finally here.

Similar to the earlier races in the year, Rusty and I took off from northeast Ohio Thursday night, and rolled into the lovely Ocoee River Whitewater Center to get our packets Friday morning.

As normal with my luck, they lost my packet, and I had to wait about 45 minutes while they made me a new one, consisting of a number plate written in magic marker. PRO!

But seriously, the woman was nothing but helpful, and I'm cursed when it comes to any sort of race registration / results, so whatever.

7am Saturday morning came way too early. I dragged my ass out of bed and to my surprise. No rain! Forecasters were calling for an 85 percent chance of thunderstorms, so waking up to an overcast, but dry morning was okay with me.

Rumor had it the climb on the road out of the Whitewater Center was quick, and getting in the singletrack early was very important, so I made sure to be ready to go off the line. Lo and behold it was.

Everyone took off, and I got on a wheel and held on for dear life. My lockout on my fork happened to break earlier in the week so I bobbed my way up for 2.5 miles and entered the singletrack in the top 20.

I rode for a bit with the man, the myth, the legend, The Pflug for a bit, which was rad, and then we hit a nice rooty section that helped string people out. Over the infamous rock crossing pictured above, we were done with the first 20 miles of singletrack and on to the fire roads.

The race gets kind of nondescript this this point, as the fireroads all looked the same, tried to settle in with Tim and Rob from the 29er crew for a while and that was going well until Ernie came cruising by on a hill. Tim and Rob jumped on his wheel, and I followed suit. This lasted for about fifteen minutes, until I had the realization the race was about a quarter of the way over and there was no way I'd be able to keep up the pace. Bidding them adieu, I fell into my own pace.

Aid station two went by, and I stopped and pissed (thank god) and switched out my waterbottles. Little did I know, immediately after was the big climb of the day. The climb took you up Dally and Watson's gap, and just never seemed to end. You'd work your way up a mountain, get to the top, descend for about 30 seconds, and what do you know… another mountain to climb.

When I was getting close to the top of this climb, and saw aid station three. Life was good, but the wildcard for the day: the weather, started to come into play.

The temperature began to drop, the wind picked up, and some thick fog rolled in. Thunder was heard in the distance, and the descents became treacherous as you could only see about three feet in front of you at times.

Not much choice but to put my head down and go. And so I did.

After a fun longggggggg descent, the computer was reading 65 miles, and I was feeling good.

Then the torrential downpour started. Holy crap it was miserable. I was able to ride with some gents from Freeze Thaw Cycles in PA, and we traded pulls. They seemed to be a little less cooked or affected by the weather compared to me, so the time came when I had to drop back off of their wheels about 80 miles in.

No biggie.

I put my head down and went on, hoping to get myself out of my current misery. The clock was ticking and my window for a sub-8-hour time was coming to a close. I got to the last nine miles of singletrack in 6:45, and wasn't prepared for how bad of an absolute horror it was.

I was able to get through it the best I could, over the slippery roots and rocks, deep mud, and huge puddles, I made it to the end of the Thunder Rock Express in one piece. Rad!

What wasn't rad was the cold headwind I had to face motoring it back to the finish line. Shit that sucked.

Nonetheless, it was a drop in the bucket compared to all the suffering I had taken part in through the rest of the day, so I was able to cross the line without anyone passing me...

In 7:58. Hellllll yes! Good for 20th place in Men's open.

Awesome job to anyone who didn't instantly curl up and die when it started raining. It was miserable but a lot of people (Rusty, Kelly, Brian, Nelson, etc etc) were able to push through it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cohutta 100 Preliminary write-up

Rain held off for about 3.5 hours. After that it was miserable. 50 degrees, lightning and a torrential downpour. I was soaked to the bone.

Rolled in at 7:58, good enough for 20th place in men's open. Full write-up to come soon. I think I might have the flu, yuck.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mohican Wilderness: DNF!

Bummed about Mohican Wilderness yesterday.

I was feeling good, and looking forward to racing at a course that really suited my strengths: climbing like crazy, and a nice open field section to put the hammer down in.

The race started off well, I was third wheel going into the singletrack, when a unnamed person decided to chop the corner and try to cut everyone off. He got shut down pretty quickly, but it caused a big pileup that pretty much stopped everyone. I thought I was going to get around it, but in the middle of doing so, someone crashed into me and I had to dab a foot.

Nonetheless, I got out of the pileup relatively unscathed. Into the field, it was Steve Twining in first, Jeff Pendlebury in second, me in third and Ben Ort in fourth. Ben and I would go back and forth on sections of the trail.

All was going well, and I was feeling strong. Us four had a pretty good gap going, and I was feeling consistent. Then; what do you know, bike problems.

I was railing a turn right before the chute and I went down. I was a little curious why this happened as I wasn't too off balance, and the trail was super grippy. I shook it off and figured it was just a fluke.

After that, riding on, I noticed the front end of my bike started feeling a little funky, I thought maybe that I fungo'ed something on the crash. I didn't want to lose any more time so I kept going and tried to do some mid ride diagnosing.

When I dismounted for the downed tree, I had a chance to grab my front tire and give it a squeeze. Holy piss it had about ten psi in it. My tire must have been too low intially, and it folded / burped on that turn, and that's why I went down. It all started making sense.

So I had to stop, got out the CO2 cartridge, no big deal, and got my front tire inflated again. Good to go... but wait. I have the worst problem with my Stan's valve cores unthreading themselves all the time. Today was no exception. As I unthreaded my CO2 tool, the valve core started coming with it. I saw this and tried to stop it, but without needlenose pliers, I was pretty much out of luck. My next strategy was to cover my open valve stem with my finger. Get my valve core out of my inflator with my teeth (ouch), and do a quick switch by removing my finger and putting the valve core back in.

I did this, but it didn't work too well. I ended up with the same 10 psi I started with, albeit 15 minutes after I first stopped.

By this time I was pretty much in dead last, and it was a long walk back to a pump.

Resigned to my fate, I threw in the towel and moped back to the car. DNF.

Steve ended up winning, with Jeff in second. They're unstoppable this year.

Rudy killed everyone in the Sport 50 plus age group, winning by a healthy margin, and Robert was plagued with some mechanical problems too, but was able to post up a good time on a tough course.

Cohutta this weekend, if I can make it through the workweek in one piece.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Once again, thanks to Julie for braving the cold and taking some awesome photos.

RATL was a pretty good time, aside from the 35 degree temperatures and snow-like mixture. Man that sucked.

I'm still trying to get the hang of this road racing stuff, and the one thing I need to realize, especially in the Cat 4 races is to be patient.

So far I've been a bit anxious, and pretty much try to attack every lap. It gives me a good workout, as road racing is pretty much training for MTB. It also mixes things up and makes the race a little more interesting in my mind. But nonetheless, I need to work on the tactical end of things much more.

The race was so so. It was cold and windy. Windy enough that every attack I tried to launch was quickly brought back because the wind pretty much stood me up. There were a few sections of flat that I was moving 16 miles an hour at 550 watts. Yuck.

I was able to take a flyer on the Chipotle prime and hold everyone off. Free burrito! That strung things out well.

When it came down to it bunch sprint as per usual. I attacked a little further out to try and avoid this, but I waited too long, and wasn't able to get away.

3rd place. Not bad. Not a bad workout either. Mohican Wilderness tomorrow, we'll see how that goes.

Some power data for those so inclined:

Total Elapsed Time 00:55:05
Distance, mi 20.65
Work, kJ 817
Average Power, Watts 247
Average Cadence 85
Average Speed, mph 22.45
Average Heart Rate 171
Ride Time (Time Moving) 00:54:58
Weight, lbs 150.0

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Groovy / Vulture's Knob Race #1

Phew okay finally had some time to catch my breath.

This past Sunday was the first race in the Groovy Cycleworks / Vulture's Knob race series.

As many of you know, I've got some high hopes for this year. I've moved up and started racing expert with the big boys in hopes of learning from the experienced guys and hopefully being able to mix it up with them. I've been working my ass off with Sean Gilbert trying to get ready for the season, and what do you know, the season is here.

It was a beautiful day at the Knob, 60 degrees, sunny, and the trails were fast. I lined up next to Brad Wilhelm and Jeff Pendlebury (aka the future of mountain biking).

(thanks to Julie for the photos!)

The gun went off, and there we went. Steve Twining and Brad both got awesome starts, and turning into the top of the Furnace, they already were starting to pull away. Jeff got by me pretty soon after. This had me sitting at 4th place and I expected something like this, so I stayed on the gas and kept consistent.

After motoring through the prologue, I saw Brad on the side of the trail with a flat tire, right at the powerline downhill. Sucks bad, hopefully he has better luck this weekend and we can race together. That left me in third, whoa!

The new stuff built at the Knob before the race was tricky, some bumpy off camber stuff before the landfill climb, and the over / under has a drop-in to it now which makes it the earth's most scary thing at speed. I'm surprised I didn't die on the loose rocks. By then, Chip Meek, caught up to me, and we were going back and forth. He'd get a little gap on the climbs, and I'd reel him in on the flats. This went back and forth for the next lap and a half.

All was well, and I was feeling good and had my sights on Chip, and 3/4ths of the way through the second lap; what do you know I crash into a tree. Nothing gets you out of your groove quicker than that. So I get back on my bike, kiss my chances of catching Chip goodbye, and hope to stay consistent enough to keep Ross Clark and teammate Kyle Spisak from getting by. I had about a minute gap on them, which was good enough, but I started to see them on switchbacks and that put the fear into me.

I was able to hold on, and rolled across the line in 4th at 1:58:23, a little less than one minute behind Chip.

I'm pretty jazzed on that, and I figure there's no where to go but up this season… until Dave Walker shows up, then I'll go one more place down :-)

On to the other races. Rudy kicked some but in the old-man sport category, and pretty much put on a clinic on the sharp new Cannondale Flash 29er he got. He had to deal with a ton of traffic, and negotiated it very well to win his class. Robert did not have much luck. He was in the front group (big surprise…) of all of the sport racers when his crankset decided to explode. I'm sure he'll unleash his vengeance this weekend at the OMBC race.

In the expert race, Kyle Spisak rolled in 5th, a minute behind me. Luke rolled in strong holding down the top ten. Todd Bolgrin had a good race too.

On a team-related note, huge thanks to everyone at Bike Authority: Sherm, Mike, Sean, Chris, etc etc etc for getting me up and rolling this season. My Cannondale Flash 1 29er was awesome through the rocks, the big wheels handled it with no problem, and the Lefty smoothed things out well, no deflection off of anything. My Stan's ZTR Race 29er wheels were light and snappy up the hills, and held up even better than expected down the nasty stuff of the over/under.

First crit: RATL this Saturday, and first OMBC race at Mohican Wilderness this Sunday. Looking forward to it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Good Weather

All's well on this end.

The weather has been great, and I'm trying to get some miles in the legs. Intensity has been ramping up a little bit. If anyone wants to see the e-wang (aka power files) I'll post them up, but I don't think most people give a shit.

Was out and about in the metroparks yesterday and crossed paths with the Spin group ride. After turning around and hauling ass to get back on, I rode with them for about an hour and a half. It was reasonably fast for the early season, so maybe I'll start riding those on Wednesday nights to get a little more intensity in the legs.

LT intervals and 30 second sprints today. Fun fun. 82 degrees wasn't bad though. Plan on riding Mohican this Sunday in the AM if anyone wants to come with.