A weekend of racing

I was starting to get the itch again to do some racing, and this weekend happened upon a good time.  On saturday there was the CA state endurance championships up in big bear put on by the US Cup guys, and a CX race up in LA on sunday.

But first thing was first, had to make a stop into Velo Hangar on friday for my pre-race good vibes

Laurel the Velo Barista’ awesome Latte!

I am by no means an ‘endurance’ athlete, but what better way to get in some good training by ‘racing’ 58 miles at altitude.  I got up to the mountains around 9 on saturday, and with a chill in the air wasn’t feeling all that ready to race.  I rode around for a little bit with my down jacket on, like everyone else was doing, trying to get a little warm up in.  Headed to the start and was stoked to see that I would be racing against two time olympian Tinker Juarez.  Well theres one podium spot taken!

The start was pretty mellow up the road until we hit the dirt which is when everyone stared to go.  I hung-on as long as I could with Tinker, Joel Titus of So-Cal endurance, and another Bear Valley pro, but for some reason my legs were not letting me do anything.  I just about completely stalled out and started spinning the easiest gear I could, this is something I thought would happen around mile 50 for me not 5!  Luckily Ben Jones came motoring by and I sat on his wheel for a while and kinda got everything under control.

Caught a few more guys on the first lap, and decided I did some good work, and was going to just cruise the second lap and try to not cramp up and bonk.  Just near the top of the hardest climb on the course, at mile 50, I looked back and saw someone was gaining on me.  Crap, I dont really feel like trying right now, maybe they will slow down, but I didn’t want to take a chance.  So I lit a fire under my ass and got to motoring up the rest of the hills towards the singletrack downhill finish.  Which I knew if I could make it there I would retain my positioning.  I finally realized that it was my buddy (and kick ass world champ) Leslie Patterson that was gaining on me.  So I started yelling at her to try and catch me, just like race pace laps!  I couldn’t have been any happier to see anyone else.

Photo Credit: Ti Peng

I finished fourth in the Pro/Open category, way behind the top three guys, but had a blast riding the trails and talking shop with Ben, Leslie and Tammy.  Also good to know that I still have some work to do until next year.

Onto sundays CX race!  After seeing a fresh motorcycle accident on my way up to LA (still dont know if the rider was dead or alive) I was just so happy and thankful to be there.  I wanted to hug everyone I knew when I got there, and really lost a lot of motivation to race, but nonetheless gotta get work done.

I had planned on racing both Mens A SS, and Elite A’s.  I pre-road the course on my SS bike a few times and was about 15 minutes to race start when my chainring litterally broke in half, bent, sheered three chainring bolts off and bent the spider on my cranks.  It was the craziest failure I have ever witnessed, I was literally soft pedaling back to my bag to get some water, not even pedaling hard.

Chainring FAIL!

Luckily Gordon and some awesome Celo Pacific guys talked me into taping the shifters on my Bailey CX bike, so I was unable to shift and continue on with the race.  I doubled checked with Dorothy on this and she said it is fine with her races, but definitely not UCI races.  I found myself at the back of the line for the start, and was in just about dead last as we went into the first turn.  Damn Im in for a long race if I want to do anything.

I made a few quick passes at the run-ups and first few straight aways and about halfway through the first lap I had gone from about 20th to 15th.  As the pack started to string-out in single file fashion I just started picking off riders through the twisty sections and run ups, and let whoever was in front of me do most of the work when we got to the straightaways.

By about the end of the second lap I had snuck into the top ten, and was pretty stoked.  At this point I knew I had to make a decision though, either get on the podium on this race, or back off and try to save yourself for the elite A race.  A believer on not waiting and getting my hopes up for false results I decided to go for it.  I started putting in a lot of hard efforts, catching people in the turns then passing them on the straights, all while getting heckled, beer and water thrown in my face at max effort, Ahh YES! Cyclocross baby!

By the end of the third lap I had moved into the top five.  At the end of the fourth lap top three, and we started to put a gap on the rest of the field.  With one lap to go the first two riders exchanged places a few times while I sat in.  I thought that I may have a bigger gear than them and be able to out sprint them out of the last turn to the finish.  Unfortunately we maintained our order and all finished within a second of each other, good times!

I proceeded to punch the winner in the stomach in the next picture

  I did one lap of the elite A race then pulled the plug, my weekend of training races was done, quit while you are still healthy and not injured.  A huge thanks to Ellen for letting me race my bike all weekend, the Velo Hangar for awesome support, and of course my coach and riding buddy(and boss) Trevor!


US Cup Fontanta, aka Fontucky

I dont know whether it was the multiple trailer parks we passed, the fact that there was a nascar race going on right down the street or the threat of rain I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was going to a mountain bike race in Fontanta, aka fontucky. The biggest thing on everyones mind on the way to the race was the rain, no one really likes to race in the rain, and no one could tell what was going to happen.

Len, Dave and I got up there with plenty of time to register, gear up, and check the weather report 10 more times. 40 minutes before the race we started our warmup and checked out some of the course, and we’re bummed to see the fact that ‘the elevator’ climb wasn’t included in the course this year, as that is all Len has been talking about for the past two weeks.

I toed the line with the 30-34 and 35-39 age groups, and while waiting around to start I realized how unmotivated I was for this race. Not really sure why, maybe it was the overcast skies, or being tired from last week but I really wasn’t feeling it, which was quite apparent in my start. The super fast 35-39 guys took off fast and I was sitting probably around 18th out of 25 or so in the group going into the singletrack, which is no bueno. The first climb is pretty narrow with basically no room for passing. It eventually opened up to a road where I noticed I was in about the third or fourth pack back. I put in a little harder effort and bridged the gap to the second pack but was still prob only around 10th overall between the two age groups.

The road eventually turned back into a single track climb and I finally started to settle in. Unlike normal races where if someone goes by me I stay on their wheel and eventually try to pass once they tire, I was more keen on letting people go by, as I knew it was only the first lap and we still had three to go.

The rest of the laps were pretty standard and I rode pretty much the same pace, managed to pick off a couple more riders and have fun on the technical course. I tried mixing some cola in my second bottle this time around and started pounding it on the last lap. I was feeling pretty good at this point, with some slight tingling in my quads as a warning sign of some possible cramping. About halfway through the last lap I ran into another guy in my category (he finished 3rd) and he thought we were right around podium potential, this kinda perked me up a little. As you have no idea who is in your category the whole time since no one got their legs marked. After I heard this I got a little fire lit under me, dropped him on the single track and caught another guy in front of me who also said he was in my age group, I asked him what about the guy in front of us? He said he was a pro and we werent racing against him. Perfect! At this point we were only about 2-3 miles from finish. I put in a good hard effort on the climb and got in front of the pro, which was good to keep the guy in my category a place behind.

I could see the another guy (1st place) not too far ahead down on the flats, and thought I had a good shot, and had about 30 seconds on the guys I just passed. I lost a little bit of concentration on a little rock drop and my front tire slid out, I was up and ready to go before the guys behind me caught back up, then I looked down and noticed my chain was off, NOOOOO! With the MRP guide I was running on my 1×9 its a bitch to squezze the cahin back through the guide and get the chain on the ring. I lost about a minute here and the three guys I just passed were now a good distance in front of me. I finally got going and managed to make up some time and hang onto forth and lost out on the podium by only about 8 seconds.

All in all it was a great day of racing and the heavier rain held off until the end. Dave S ended up with an awesome finish at 2nd place and Len G with a solid 4th which is pretty awesome considering he just had a broken tibia about a month ago. Lesson learned here, run a real geared crank and front derailleaur up front from now on!

US Cup Vail Lake Race

Kind of officially kicking off the Mountain bike race season here in California is the first US Cup race, Vail Lake out in Temecula. Race day provided absolutely perfect weather, if you were going to be lounging on the beach all day, but for racing it was hotter, and drier than hell. I overheard several reports that it was over 100 degrees at the top of one of the climbs.

I was super anxious for this race as it was the first one since ive been training with Trevor Glavin as my coach, I basically had no idea where I was on my fitness. To top things off I had to race against my good buddy Kurt Gensheimer, who is an absolute hammer!

I hitched a ride up there with my buddy Dave Staiton and we met up with Len Geiger, who was up there earlier pre-riding the course with some friends. Got in a good 20 minute warm-up with everyone and discussed the bottle handoff/hydrating situation. Lucky for me Len wasn’t racing and being as my bike only has 1 bottle cage he was going to hand me a bottle every lap packed with infinit nutrition”If I needed it”

Cat 1 SS started the same time as the 20year old age group, which helps on the SS if you can grab a wheel of a faster geared rider. Right out of the gate Kurt jumped into the lead and I hung on his wheel as best I could while we steadily jumped from one group of riders to the next. I sat on Kurts wheel for the first 2 or so miles, and right before the first real climb I let him know it was coming, and to try to get a good recovery in. Kurt recommended that I lead since I know the course a little better, and I just figured we would take turns pulling each other until the last lap or so. Turns out that he never caught back up to me at the top of the climb, and seeing the chance for a win I just started going for it.

The course at Vail lake, like always, is a super fast fun course that isn’t very technical and has shorter punchier climbs, all in all a great race course. I was able to hold onto some geared wheels through the rest of the first lap and coming into the water bottle exchange i noticed a weird noise coming out of my rear wheel. I stopped to check it out with Len and turns out I had a busted spoke. To Lens quick inspection he said the butt end of the spoke had fallen out and it appeared as though I only had about 3 inches sticking out of the nipple. So I thought I was set. After starting to ride again I thought it might be a better idea to try to break the rest of the spoke off, so I hopped of and started bending it back and forth to try to snap it a little close to the nipple. This didn’t work. It only created a sharp ‘J’ that looked like it would be perfect for puncturing my tire on a turn. So I straightened it back out and took off again. Then about a mile later I heard the same noise, and starting to get on my nerves so I hoped off again to solve the problem. Turns out the butt end of the spoke was still in there rattling around, and hadn’t fallen out. I somehow managed to fish out the broken spoke without wasting too many more minutes and was once again on my way.

Got a few fast wheels on the flats that really helped my time out on the second lap, and everything was going fine since the spoke incident, until I started to feel a little twinge in my right calf and quad. Then at the beginning of the third lap, and out of infinit and just on gatorade I started to feel small cramps coming on everywhere in both legs. Knew I had to try to use my body weight the rest of the race and really couldn’t push it, I thought my lead would be gone. Cramps got worse as the lap went on, including a couple full leg lock-ups where I wasn’t even able to clip into my pedals. Any second now, I thought Kurt was going to be passing me like I was standing still!

I somehow managed to get through all the climbs and cramps and finish the third lap. And was able to hang on for a win at the season opener. Including the spoke debacle my overall time was 2:01:25, finishing over second place by all most 5 minutes. Considering this was more just a training race and to see how everything has been going I am pretty stoked. Its great to see how all the hardwork and proper training can translate into results.

Next race Sea Otter!