Well, that might be the only picture quite like that one for a while. CX race today in St. Cloud (thanks Mom for being there and taking the picture and on her birthday!). Rode about 16 minutes and quit due to back pain/spasms related to a fall I took late yesterday. Was doing alright, but was really wishing for gears too. Unsure of how much of those feeling were due to my lack of fitness, poor gearing choice, or possibly just this specific course layout. Regardless, it's not going to matter...
Knee pain is pretty bad tonight. Haven't had any significant issues with it since early, early this spring when I was doing a lot of landscaping work. Not at all cool that it was so quick to flare up. Ran a total of a hundred steps? I'm sure cyclocross is particularly rough on it, but I'm also sure that I should not be doing any cyclocross at this point if my knee is going to respond in this manner. I am having trouble with steps and getting off the couch. I may start trying random braces to see if any of them help.
I suppose it won't kill me to get back to the gravel plus maybe find some late season mountain bike races (anyone know of any?).
The rest of my weekend was a lot of fun-
Good times Friday night hanging out with Tyler (thanks for the couch man!). Was interesting to be at a "college party" as it seems my point of view has changed a bit since I used to commonly frequent them. Funny how I had to head back to his place alone in order to turn-in at a reasonable hr. He has 3 female room mates I've never met. In the end I never even saw any of them, but on the way over there I was expecting to let myself in and have to try to explain to them who I was. Could have been an interesting conversation.
Saturday was the SS State Championship. The Jail Trail is a twisty, twisty course that had seen a ton of rain over the last few days. Sort of reminded me of Eastwood, but with even less climbing. Probably not the ideal course for my skills, but I didn't have time to pre-ride or to think about such things as that until long after the race was over. Guessed that a 38x18 gearing would be a good idea based primarily on the prologue (figured it would be nice to get ahead of some people). Raced hard. Got to singletrack in 4th and realized how slick the turns were and how sluggish I felt coming out of them in that gear. Slowly fell back and got passed by a couple people. Josh Collins was the first and he went by with a vengeance- way to go on 3rd place! The others seemed to be traveling about as fast as I was and I was able to stay right with them. I'd reel them in on the open sections and fall back on the twisties and hills. It was a challenge to keep the bike upright and the pedal down throughout the course due to the mud. I went off a bridge on the first lap, but didn't lose too much time and tried hard to avoid the trap of pushing to get it all back right away. I felt pretty good about avoiding hat pitfall. Then late in the 2nd lap I clipped a bar end, spun into a tree back first and knocked the wind out of myself. Ouch! Was able to continue, but I dropped well out of contention for a top 5 and wound up sort of limping in for 8th. I was just over 6 minutes behind Mr. Brendan Moore, but only just over 2 behind 3rd. Wish I could have had a bit better day, but am also happy with that result. Plus, it was a lot of fun to race with no mechanical or physical issues preventing me from really racing.
29x2.1 Nokian 294s- 1 season of use, all studs present- $110
26x2.5 swamp things- as new other than one spot with 4 or 5 knobs worn from a bike rack incident. These are pretty great on snow and that's all I used them for. $30
Bontrager xr tubless tires- $15
26" rim-brake wheelset- nothing special, deore front hub with dh19 rim, lx rear with older mavic rim and some slightly bent spokes from chain being thrown onto them. Both wheels are true, tensioned correctly and spin freely- would be good for a winter beater $35
revo sunglasses- $40
tifosi sunglasses- camo with 3 sets of lenses, close to new condition $40
salsa pro road bars- 44cm I think $20
salsa woodchippers (os clamp, cut down 1" on ends) $30
Trevor and I got back to my house around 10:15 Thursday night and I threw my clothes/gear into the cooper for the rest of the weekend. I wanted to be able to leave asap after work. It was a struggle, but I managed to get the Mamasita, 585 and all the rest of my gear INSIDE the car. It was worth the effor though as I was able to obtain 29-30 mpg despite driving as fast as I could to Barneveld. Took the "southern route" this time down through Decorah, Prairie du chien etc. and was rewarded with some nice terrain and beautiful views until the sun went down just past Prairie.
Upon arrival at Scott's place (thanks for the hospitality- really nice to have a bed and a hot shower! Felt just like home, other than your dog wanting to kill me. I'm grateful) the plan was to run out for some food and, maybe, a beer or two. Scott recommended the Hooterville Inn, located just down the road in Blue Mounds. Wow! Great food, great beer and even great company (turns out the organizers were having their post set-up/pre-race meeting there as well. Friday night fish fry and a beer was followed by a perfect mushroom swiss burger and 3? more beers. Good times. Maybe we need to do more exploring, but it just doesn't seem that there are many little places like that on this side of the River. I don't think it's a stretch to say that the Hooterville Inn has better food and beer than any place in Rochester, that's for sure! It was nice to catch up with Scott and talk to the rest of the crew as well. I also found out that I wouldn't have to pay separately for the SS State Championship race and the 3 hr- mega bonus, and seemed somewhat fair given the circumstances (little did I know just what those circumstances would be at that point).
Saturday am dawned cold, wet, and cloudy with weather reports suggesting it would only get worse. There was some talk of delaying the race, but in the end they just delayed the 12 hr race 2 hrs and our race 15 minutes. Small, but strong field present for the SS race. We agreed to ride 3 laps. I had some trouble early with a stick I ran over (almost 20 minute delay), but pressed on in good spirits. Could tell then that the day was going to be all about attrition and survival. There aren't too many places to ride like Blue Mounds- as much climbing as Afton per same length lap, more rocks than all of MN south of Duluth and all of them sharp. On a nice dry summer day it's amazingly challenging and even more rewarding to ride. However, on a wet day in a race it's closer to hell. Add in the SS factor and it is the perfect venue.
I was in third after my dismal first lap. Pushed hard the 2nd and gained very little ground on the leader. It was apparent that this day was to be a personal challenge much more so than a "race" against the others. I had said I was going to ride the SS race and the 3 hr and I would do so. By the middle of the third lap I'd already ridden well over 3 hrs in a race that I had expected to only take around 2... The rocks, hills and mud had taken their toll, as had the 38x20 gearing. I also had only taken in nutrition for a 2 hr race prior to the race start. The plan had been to finish the 1st race then feed right away in order to recover for the 3 hr. It was starting to look like I'd have no gap at all between the races. I knew I had to stop and consume what I could so I stopped at the water stop and ate everything I had on me and 3 full bottles of HEED. I was worried that I might be passed, but figured I'd be able to jump back on my bike and kick it in to the finish if need be, but the need didn't arise.
I got back on the bike and finished the race in just under 3:45? total time. I was truly proud to finish in one piece. What a course and what a challenge. Was proud to accept the handmade wooden medal for 3rd. Any disappointment in the 3rd place finish was easily brushed away by the accomplishment of finishing despite some issues and the prospects of the 3 hr race to come.
Late to the start, running, crap! Was on the toilet when the count-down to the start began. It started and guys were running! Ouch! Tried hard to push and catch up. Really wishing for gears, legs were TIRED at this point and I needed to spin but couldn't. Did work my way within touch of the lead then went down hard. Repeated that process a couple times. The last resulted in a charly horse in my left thigh and left me riding slowly and eventually walking. I fell WAY back. Pushed on for a while as such then decided to regroup a minute, stretch and then try to give it a real go one more time. Results were positive, but after that lap I decided to call it quits. Was a bit embarassed to not finish more of the 3 hr- but in the end I'd ridden more than I'd expected to for the whole day and I knew it was time to get some food. If I'd had a better grasp on how long the SS race was going to be I'm sure I could have continued longer- heck, I know I could ride 12 hrs, right? (although surely not on shitty nutrition and in 38x20). Plus, I had another race to recover for and a lot more riding to go.
Pulled into the pit for the final time and relaxed. Thankfully, the organizers shared some of the Subway they had for volunteers and there was plenty of free beer. Soon I was feeling like myself and enjoying the good company. It's great how cool everyone is at the WEMS races. Total aside- but earlier in the year I volunteered to help out at a MMBS series race. Worked with a few people for 5 or 6 hrs... then two weeks later was treated like crap by the same people when I asked for a simple favor. Not something that would ever happen at Blue Mounds and that's enough about that.
here are some images- Thanks to Frank Hassler
I rode the 4 or 5 miles down to Scott's house and spent the rest of the night with my legs elevated while watching college football (and what a night for that too).
Sunday morning came fast! Once again it was raining, but I layered on the clothing and prepped the road bike. My left thigh was extremely stiff, but I know it would work itself out as I warmed up. We were supposed to park at the top of the Mound and register (We'd be starting in the city), but I figured I was close enough that I may as well ride there. That thing is seriously tall and steep! Plus I had gone up the easy way and it was going to be a LOT harder in the TT. Got registered and got back to the bottom of the mound to warm-up. Sadly, the weather turned some people away. I think they wound up with about 50 riders.
My warm-up was horrible, I wanted to pull the plug. I could remember every dagger-like rock in every uphill rock garden from the day before, every pedal stroke, particularly my fall onto my thigh. The $35 I'd dropped for the opportunity to ride kept me in it. My time came and I went. kept my head down for the first 3 or 4 minutes and held the most aero position I could and the biggest gears I could over the little rises and down the back sides. I passed 3 or 4 riders by the first turn, continued on and got 2 more before the next. Next was the HILL, close to 1k feet in a couple miles, pushed hard. Felt my lack of strength so shifted to trying to spin. Found myself in my easiest gear, but still pushing a good cadence. Passed a few more people. Near the top (too near, in fact) I lost my focus and concentration and slacked for a minute or two. If only I'd known how close I was I could have pushed it harder. Hard to look back on that section positively- the weight of all the riding caught up to me MENTALLY. I began to see things I recognized and could smell the finish. Was able to push hard the last thousand hards or so and really fly up the last steep bit for a time under 30 minutes. This was good enough for a decent finish (I guess), only 3.5 minutes behind the fastest time. This was a hard race, like pulling a Burly with a fat kid in it, but I was happy.
Back to the bed with the legs up for more football...
Met Scott and we caravanned our way to Plover to Scotch's beautiful house, thanks for the hospitality! The three of us went for a relatively short ride on bike paths plus some real fun rogue singletrack. I STRUGGLED to keep up on the paths with my SS gearing and my legs felt totally shot at that point. Tried not to complain, but I can admit that Scotch was far stronger than I.
Upon our return Scotch's wife had a great dinner ready to go. We ate, talked and watched football until it became apparent that the Giants had ZERO chance of being competitive. Then we jumped in the hot tub naked... well, some of us did anyways, listened to some good tunes (pretty cool how so much music is so cross-generational) and drank some good beers (other than the one I wound up with that was mixed with pomegranate juice). In the end I had to spend less time in the hot tub and drink less than those guys, or else I knew I'd be useless Monday. I'm blaming that on the extensive riding. I was a bit worried about the effects the heat would have on my sore leg too.
Monday AM a few more of the CORP guys drove up and we all met at the Standing Rocks trailhead. It was a good group of riders and a surprisingly fun, flowy trail. Would be a great site for a WORS race too... lots of flowy singletrack, a few really nice techy spots and with tons of double track available for passing sections. Hope it gets added.
Monday PM was a "lap" (meaning 2+ hrs of wandering around) at 9 mile. Interestingly, it seemed more technical not in the race. I think I was so focused on going fast in the 24 hr race that I didn't notice just how many rocks there were. Tons of fun riding there. Also, really felt myself become more comfortable with the Ss riding. By the end of the day at 9 mile I felt more confident on my bike that I can remember. Hopefully that bodes well for the future.
a few pictures and a video available here-
I think everyone had a great time Monday! I look forward to riding with those guys again sometime soon. Hopefully, another ride this fall, but the BALLS ride isn't all that far away anymore either. Spent a lot of time on the drive ruminating on how great Wisconsin is. The people, terrain, towns and recreational activities are all excellent. I'd want to move there if it weren't for the damn Packers. I think a lot of those feelings come down to the hospitality of the people, thanks again guys! The weekend couldn't have been better.
Returned home around 8 and collapsed. Work at 6:30 am Tuesday! Local gravel/beer/whiskey ride Tuesday night. No rest for the wicked.
Epic is incredibly overused these days. So much so that it's even become cliche to make fun of the whole "EPIC" thing. Regardless, my plan for last week was to be epic. Tons of extra hrs at work, Tuesday night test ride on the Mamasita at Eastwood, Wednesday night group ride (turned into a 90 minute 34 mile hammerfest with Bob and I pulling 80% of the time due to impending thunderstorms), WTR Thursday race, 10 hrs of work and packing and driving to Madison for the weekend Friday, Wisconsin SS championships Saturday AM followed by the 3 hr WEMS race in the evening, L'Alpe Bleu Huez road TT/hill climb Sunday AM and rogue Steven's Point trails plus hot tubbing in the evening, then both Standing Rocks and 9 Mile Monday plus the return 3.5 hr drive.
River Falls Thursday nights are done for the year. Trevor and I went over for the last one with the single speeds. I wanted to give my setup one legit test prior to trying to race it this weekend. Turns out Heath W. also made the trip (and was riding Ss too), the competition was going to be fierce. I think roughly 20 other riders showed up too. Heath took off pretty hot at the start and it took some work to hang on through the first section. The course had seen about an inch of rain the night before and many of the corners were treacherous. I noted that I would have been better off on my Mountain Kings. We came to the Jeep Trail climb and I had to let Heath go. I don't know what he was geared at, but it was much stronger than my 38x20, I doubt he had much of a choice other than to hammer the climb. At that point Trevor had worked his way through some lap traffic and was up with me. We caught back up to Heath early into the single track and the 3 of us would, more or less, ride together for about a lap. At one point I did fall pretty hard in a corner and was forced to work alone for a bit to catch back on. Then Heath went down and Trevor attacked. From there it was everyone for themselves. Heath and I had a bit of a battle, but I think I was mostly just in his way and he went by with about a lap to go. I considered really pushing hard to catch up and started to crank up the intensity but that almost instantly resulted in the hardest mtb fall I've taken this year... I don't even really know what happened, but I was over the bars and flying near horizontally at 10 or 12 mph then landing on hands and knees in a stinking puddle of mud with a rock hard bottom. Shook it off and rode a bit easier the rest of the way in. I was 4 minutes behind Trevor and 2? behind Heath.
It was a great season of races over there. KORC has things right- can't beat the friendly competitive environment, excellent trails and fun-for-all format. Look forward to trying to close some of that gap in the "off" season and certainly look forward to more of these races next year. Thanks KORC! I'll be renewing my membership.
Was grateful to ride along with Trevor and Karlene for the Dakota Five-0. Thanks to them I was able to save some gas $, a lot of potential time spent behind the wheel and have some great company for the ride. Trevor's brother, his brother's wife and Trevor's parent's would all be meeting us out there. I was going to be a sort of 7th wheel. Little did I know that would mean I'd wind up with such great company, race support and virtually all my meals fresh cooked for me. THANKS!
Karlene got super excited about the giant Green Giant before we even really got going
Trevor drove the whole way there while I slept
We ate Mongolian Grill Friday night
I never had to pay for camping because I just slept in the open under the easy-up
Everybody got out and pre-rode together from the 4th aid station (some amazing views and good times at group ride pace)
On Monday Trevor got horrible gas (to the point of clearing out large area, OUTDOORS)
My gas was about as bad
We ate all the Prime Rib we could at a Casino buffet in Deadwood for Trevor's birthday (certainly not related to the gas)
Trevor's birthday presents- Canada themed!
The whole crew climbed Mt. Theodore Roosevelt despite 40 degree temperatures, 40 mph winds and hail
We drove to the top of the ski area which was just about as high as Mt. Theodore Roosevelt
We camped in a corral Monday night (so where are the tent sites? o, there aren't any... but you guys can have the WHOLE corral)
The corral was basically a part of this- http://www.1880town.com/1880town.html
We got all excited to go on a "virtual, guided tour of the homestake mine" but then got sniped by about 50 AARP members who had called ahead
Trevor's Mom got pretty worried about a LOT of things
We never got close to running out of good beer
http://www.senorwiener.com/ (even if we didn't make it there)
Trevor drove the whole way back while I slept
I'm very grateful that I was allowed to tag along.
It was also nice to see a lot of other rider friends who were out there. Had a great time at the after race parties. Epic bike pile, interesting peanut fight, too many PBRs (what kind of a bar sells beer by the case, and for $1 a beer).
sorry for the incredible lack of images from all the other stuff
Ever since the Trans-Wisconsin I've been focusing on shorter rides. 28-35 mile XC mountain bike races in particular. At times it's felt like a bit of a scramble or a game of "catch-up". I knew going into the year that it would be a tough year when it came to those races (with my schedule, plans to move up to cat1 and dislike of finishing far behind). Throw in the issues I've had with mechanicals recently (right when I started to feel confident and strong enough to have some good races too) and things start looking really bleak.
However, that's not at all how I'm feeling! The Thursday night races at River Falls and the road group rides have been an excellent opportunity to gauge my progress, and it seems I'm still seeing solid improvements every couple of weeks. One big thing that could really help would be finding a way to spend more time on my mountain bike. I've been riding a lot with Trevor and certainly he can get a bit more out of his effort due to better technical skills. This too has been improving, but I still find a way to take 2 or 3 falls each Thursday night while he rides cleanly. When you add that to the fact that he's 1-2 minutes "stronger" per lap I really get to push my limits to try to keep up. Thanks Trevor for making it to so many of the races. Perhaps next year we can get the trail cleared a bit better out at Stagecoach and I will make it a point to put in one more day per week of XC specific training (both technical and training for the kind of strength needed for accerating over small hills and out of corners).
I've gained 10 lbs since spring!!! I suppose that really goes along with the last bit there- but all these shorter rides and the repeated "strength" needed to ride the mountain bike and sprint on the road has led to some muscle gains. I think I've also gained a bit of fat, as I've really eaten a lot recently. My theory is that I need to be certain I get enough fuel in my body in order to avoid getting sick when doing high intensity work.
My plan all along was to focus on shorter and shorter races throughout the year- However, I've had so much fun with them this year (even without having a single "good" finish, well- YET) that I'm making plans for next year to continue more in that direction. I've made plans to attend and/or entered PTO requests for time at or around the following races-
TRIPLE D CIRREM RAGNAROK ALMANZO CHEQ 100 (making the assumption it's the "same" weekend as last year, and happens) DK200
then shifting gears and hitting MMBS and WORS throughout the summer plus (if possible)-
CHAIN DRIVE ORE TO SHORE DAKOTA FIVE-0 CHEQ 40
I can tell you right now that I'd love to have my best races at Almanzo/Cheq100 and then the FIVE-O/CHEQ40
One casualty of this focus shift has been my goal of riding a metric and a full century on dirt or gravel each month of the year. I didn't do it in AUGUST of all months. You'd think that would be the easiest month of the year, eh? I thought about fitting a ride or two in, but it just wasn't in the cards. I did get out for a couple of longish road rides though, but they just aren't the same. The longest gravel ride I've been on in the last 6 weeks was about 12 miles...
The Heck of the North is fast approaching. Interesting to see how that goes for me with the current combination of training etc.. I vow to be aggressive. I don't know how well I will feel 60 or 70 miles into it, but I know that with my choice of equipment and my skill set that I'd like to go out fast and limp in (somewhat like how I rode the Almanzo). I'll be very pleased with a solid overall placing and at least feeling of being competitive with the other SS guys. The course sets itself up well for riding SS (or at least it did last year), but to do exceptionally well on an Ss will require an emphasis on consistend speed on the flatter areas with the knowledge that the final climb will be a slog and a strong geared rider is likely to walk away from you. Conversely, gearing for the final climb would mean putting oneself out of contention from the start. Currently on my bike is a 46/18 gear combo.
Wish me luck at the WI SS State Championships this weekend- If the weather cooperates I'll be riding that race at 10 am tomorrow, the 3 hr "enduro" from 3-6 and then the road time trial from Blue Mounds to Barneveld and on up to the top of the "Mound" Sunday am (around 1k feel of climbing in the last 3 miles there!). After that I will be heading to Steven's Point and relaxing on the local trails there and in Wausau plus partying with some of the capital off-road crew.
The Sugar Bottom Scramble was a fun race on an excellent course that ended in disappointment. Traveled to Iowa City Saturday with my parents with plenty of time to pre-ride the course. Very impressive trails there! The first half was very fast singletrack with a few tight twists and the second half was much more technical and up and down. In a lot of ways the mix of terrain reminded me of the Maplelag course I had done well on last year (and which I would be skipping this year in order to ride the Dakota five-0).
It was only $30 entry for the Cat1 race, even with a t-shirt, and the atmosphere was great. I could tell it was going to be an enjoyable race. Got a reasonable start and was able to stay with the lead group of 5 or 6 for the first half of lap 1. When we hit the more technical side the group split up, but I hung in there and did my own thing. Supposedly I was around 5 minutes behind by the end of the lap, but had also opened almost that much of a lead on the portion of the field that was behind me. Near the end of lap 1 I fell and flatted my front tire. I was able to quickly inflate the tire with c02 and continue. I passed my Dad and got a water hand-up (but didn't ask him to get more more c02...). In the middle of lap 2 I felt the tire go flat again and went to re-inflate with the 2nd c02 canister I carried, it did nothing. Had I brought a spend cartridge? Lame.
Spent some time thinking about how much trouble I've had with my tubeless setup this year and decided it was a combination of 2 things that were the likely cause- 1. too wide of a front tire, 2.4 on a 22mm rim 2. not running enough stans in order to try to save weight. My solution would be to buy a new rear tire and move the rear 2.25 racing ralph to the front. The Dakota five-0 was coming up fast and I wanted to give myself every chance to ride well. After some research I went with a 2.1 WTB NanoRaptor.
The Nano turned out to be a total failure- after 25-30 miles of use (and right in the middle of the Dakota five-0) the bead "cracked" or "broke" within the tire, the tire stretched such that the bead wouldn't hold and the whole thing became impossible to run even with a tube.
I'm now back to the 2.4/2.25 Racing Ralph combination, but currently with tubes. I've also taken all the geared bits off the Mamasita. She is now set up with 38x20 gearing and a DMR chain tensioner. I'm looking forward to racing a couple of SS races the next two weekends. Hoping to get out and get used to the SS thing a bit more sometime soon- in fact, hopefully about as soon as I get out of work.
I will do more of a write-up of the Dakota Five-0 a bit later and with more of an emphasis on how much fun it was to hang out with everyone. I'd rather not say too much more about the race- it was frustrating and it's definitely best that I just move on. The road bike has really helped me to stay sane with some of the bad luck (or bad mechanic work) that has plagued me recently. On the road I can feel myself getting stronger and know that strength will eventually transfer to a mountain bike race or two. Without that feeling this last month or so would have been mightily frustrating.