Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bloomer XC -- Single Speed Style!

Wasn't really sure what to expect today going into Bloomer. Thursday, I was riding like a rock star at Stony Creek, and then crashed and flipped around like a rag doll leaving me banged up, sore, broken helmet, and doubts about racing the Bloomer XC race. But I figured I would give it a try. This race really was nothing more than a power workout on my calendar, since I was planning on jumping into the Elite/Expert Single speed class. This years Bloomer race is part of the MMBA CPS put on by Robert at Tailwind. So if I could get in at least a few good laps and throw in the towel if needed, it still would have been a good day.

I felt real relaxed at the start, but sore all over. Other than that, the only thing on my mind was how I was going to push my 34x17 gearing on my 29er up the steep short climbs. The whistle blew, and we were off. Quickly 3 riders broke away, and I was left struggling up the sled hill gasping for air. I got a real crappy warm up in and was paying for it. I got through the first section on single track, recovered and made my way onto the double track. I then took a wrong turn and met the lead group again. So back down the hill to hop on the right path. This easily lost me 30 or more seconds. But I pushed. My left hip and right quad were sore as hell on every climb. But I pushed on. By the time I made it the falter part of the course, I was starting to feel better. And then near the end of my 2nd lap I realized that I caught 3rd place! He was still riding strong, so I sat on his wheel. In the beginning of the 3rd lap, he dropped me on the sled hill as I opted to run it vs. ride. He got a small gap, but I was able to shut it down in the technical parts of the single track. By the time we made it to the big switch backs, I was stuck on his wheel. This time when we made it to the flats on the bottom, I launched my attack. He could not match it. From here on out, the gap continued to grow to 2;00 mins until the end of the race. I came across the line in 3rd place, and not too far behind the leaders. I was very happy with the result, and how well I was feeling at the end.

The Time Crunched Training Program has paid off very well for me so far! And with Ruby just around the corner, I hope I will still have one good race left before a nice break, and the start of cyclocross training.

Now time to rest up, and heal my boo-boos...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tour de Brighton -- MTB Stage race weekend!

My first important mountain bike race this year was the Brighton Stage race. This is race number 2 in the Tailwind USAC XC series and is one of the race that I love. Unlike the typical XC race on Sunday only. The Stage race has a mix of several different elements that make for 2 enjoyable days of racing, and a few styles of racing that suit my skills very well. The first day is a 6 mile time trial on the Torn Shirt Trail, and later in the day there is a 20 min short track race. Nothing like testing the CX legs out early in the season! Then on Sunday it's the crown jewel of the event, the 32 mile XC race on the Murray Lake loop. The racer with the lowest accumulated time over all 3 events is crowned the overall stage winner and earns double points in the series. But you can just race the XC race for single points and separate podium spots. This years event was treated with cool, dry, sunny weather both days. Trails that were in great shape. And deep fields of racers for all 3 events. Going into the race, my goals were to beat personal times on Torn Shirt, and the XC race. Take a top 5 in the XC. And if I had a shot, walk home with a top 3 in the overall stage race weekend. Here is how it went.

It all starts with torn shirt. I pegged my heart rate right from the start! it took a little bit of time to get it under control, and settle down the bike handling. About 3 miles in I was finally relaxed and making progress. I finished 5th, and put up a personal best time of 32:22. So I was very happy and was looking forward to the short track race to try and gain back some time over the field.

The short track was moved this year to smaller plot of land, but worked out to be perfect! The was a small steep hill that was used 3 times and a small section of pavement. I lined up in the front row, and put the gas on for 22 minutes! This helped avoid 2 crashes and keep me near the front. All 7 of my laps were consistent being within a few seconds. I ended up in 4th and was sitting in 4th overall going into Sunday.

With the XC race looming, I felt confident that I was going to have a good day, but the thought of racing 32 miles full tilt, didn't leave me with to many thoughts of finishing in the top 3, especially with time to make up on the overall leaders. So I went into with the goal of a personal best time and to scrape up a 4th or 5th place if I could. We went out hard... Adam Naish, Andy Brown, Jason Bowne, Brad lako, and myself all bunched up and pushed as hard as we could. Soon after, Adam, Andy, and Jason were off the front and gone. This left Brad, myself and soon to be Tom Payn to fight it out the rest of the race. Brad lost his chain 3 times and had catch back up with us each time. By the 3rd time he was not messing around and road tight past us. So it was Tom and I working together for the last 2 and 1/2 laps. By the beginning of the 4th and final lap. We saw and caught Andy! He said he popped and could not keep the pace anymore. So now It looking like a sure top 5. I felt strong for the entire race. And felt I could keep the same pace in the last lap as I could the 1st. The only down fall for me was I was starting to fade on the climbs. This allowed Tom to get away from me and eventually finish in 2nd place (Stupid 15 lbs!) But I kept pushing to make sure I would walk away with a prize! Then about half through the last lap. I suddenly came up on Jason Bowne! He bonked also. Now I realized that I had a good shot at top 3 overall!!! I time trialed my butt as hard as I could go and try to put as much time into Jason as possible. I crossed the finish line and waited for Jason. I knew it would be close, but not sure how close. When I results were posted it was not enough. I missed 3rd overall for the weekend by only 7 seconds!!! But I still snagged a 4th place in the XC race. My personal best position in an Expert level race. And I beat my personal best time at Murray Lake with a 2:21:29. In fact my laps were all very consistent, 35/34/35/35! I still had a great weekend!

Congrats to JB Hancock, Adam Naish,Tom Payn, Brad Lako, and Shawn Schaffert. You all had awesome results over the weekend! Keep it up. You all inspire me!!!