Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wausau 24 Report

Wausau 24. The name says it all. 24 hours of some of the most technical single track Wisconsin has to offer. Most of the team showed up in some form or another. Matt (Papa) Dale showed up for a 12 hour solo. Todd and Erik rocked out a 24 hour duo. Even Dakota and Dustin Dale showed up to cheer and help their dad. But I had something different on my mind, the 24 hour solo. I signed up a long time ago. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But as I did my final checks before the race, I was having some doubts. Having never done a 24 hour race before, I didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare. I only could go off of the advice of veteran endurance racer and former Wausau 24 champion, Ron Stawicki. His advice was to “do the race, then you’ll know how to prepare next time.” Ok, I could try this. With one ear bud in, I started the race. Ten a.m. seemed a good time to start; but ten a.m. the following day seemed far off. I got into my groove easily in the first couple of laps. Wausau has a lot of variety to offer in this course. You start off going through a lot of roots then into some flowy single track sections, into a few rock gardens. It offers all the challenges you could want without getting bored. Perfect. The last thing I need to do is get bored. Each 10.5 mile lap takes about an hour. I had plenty of time to roll into the pit and get a fresh bottle of fluids and food if I needed it between laps. I have to thank my family and friends for helping me with the fuel stops. About 7 laps in I started to get some cramps in my leg that would bother me for about the next 30 miles. But at that point I needed to stop thinking about my sore body and worry more about my final daytime pit stop. This was an important one, I needed lights. The rules required me to have them on my bike around 7 pm, but I didn’t need to really use them until later. Getting into the dark laps, I knew it was time to put on a fresh kit, new chamois cream and maybe see where I stand. I had been in the top 15 most of the day while the leaders duked it out. The guys in the neighboring pits were pushing hard, maybe too hard. They wanted to win and burned themselves out. It was a true tortoise and hare race. They ran fast and had to rest. I went slow and steady and stayed consistent throughout the day and night(and day). Somewhere in the night, while others were dropping like flies, as I pushed on and I moved up in the results into 3rd place. I knew this race was going to hurt. I knew it would be mentally draining to hit the same trails for 24 hours. What I didn’t expect was how emotionally draining it could be. It was 8 am. I had ridden for 22 hours, the whole time telling my legs “just a little further.” Now my mind had no more and I broke down. I added about a half an hour to this lap as I crumbled within my own mind. Physically and mentally exhausted, I stumbled in completing another lap. My parents gave me the pep talk that I didn’t want to hear, even though I knew I needed it. I scooped a last shovelful of chamois cream and reluctantly took off. After all, I was in third, which was actually quite unexpected, and this was going to be my final lap. Just after 10, a full 24 hours after starting, I finally came into a finish. I got a good look at the winner’s bike. Like mine, it was covered in dirt. He had all but burned through his tires. He had threads showing all along the sidewalls from the punishment that the rocks dished out. Luckily my Maxxis Aspens were still in great shape. As I thought about it, my bike held up extremely well. I didn’t have the mechanical issues that you would expect in 24 hours of abuse. All in all, I did 21 laps, over 230 miles and finished on the podium. Can’t wait for next year!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Falling Short

The two most important races of the season. Especially the Pro XCT Missoula on Saturday. Climbing legs were negatory come the 6 pm start, and stayed that way the whole race, didn't finish last, but wasn't to far off. It may be time for me to start thinking of getting a coach for the 2013 season so I don't feel flat on the more important races of the season, and generally improve my results. Anyway, now it's time for some R and R before Subaru cup and collegiate. Enough of my complaining though! New member Mike Dickinson took the cat 4 state crit championships in Colorado, so rad! Hard to post pics when I'm on the road, so a big picture collage shall be posted of the trip/ Mikes podium when I return sometime this week, keep checkin' in !

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nationals Super D / ShortTrack

After the XC on Friday I was a little bummed. Saturday brought Super D course practice. I got in three solid runs, and was feeling really fast. So fast I thought I could have a shot at top 10. Come race time on Sunday (I went off at 9:12) I was ready to rock it. Started with a 5 minute climb, which I felt as good as you can on such a climb before a roaring descent. Overall during the run I had a few close calls, and dabbed a couple of times on some of the switchbacks, didn't turn out as smooth as I hoped but at least I didn't crash. I ended up 26 of 60 in the pro. Crazy how close all the times were in the pro race, making every corner count. Short track was later that day, and wasn't feeling super great about racing with the normal U.S. pros. Start time was at 330, I was called up in the back (no surprise there). I slipped my pedal at the start, cauesing me to get cut off, but passed a Lot of people after 2 laps and ended up 30 of 50. I just barely got pulled. Oh well. Next Chris and I are road trippin to the pro xct Missoula, never been to Montana !

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Nationals XC Race Recap

This years XC nats race came and went quicker then usual. We arrived Wednesday night real late, and I pre rode the course on Thursday. Started with a quick start loop into about a 10 minute loose gravel climb that stayed steady at 15-25%. Then a loose descent with tight flowy switchbacks. My game plan was to take it "easier" the first two laps (we did five). Gun went off Friday morning, and I was sitting in the top 15 or so. I wasn't really concerned about my start, because I knew a lot of guys would go crazy the first lap and just beat themselves up on the climb for the next four laps. The laps went on, and that was true, but not as much as I'd hoped. What turned into a race plan, turned into just being able to stay on my bike on the climb in the first place. It was just so steep and loose in some spots a lot of people would dismount. After the first 2 laps my position pretty much stayed the same the rest of the race. My legs felt good (cramped some the last lap, but I dont think it affected my placing at all), I rode smooth on the descent, and I gave 'er all I had. The result just wasn't really what I was looking for (15th of 30). I'm overall pretty disappointed with how it turned out, but I had a good race and that's all I can say. I'll just have to focus in my training more for the next few years, and try to achieve at least a top 10 or even a top 5. Tomorrow is the super D, which I am super psyched about, always a good time. Also the Short track which is at 330 tomorrow, but unfortunately I probably will get pulled fairly quick since I race with the normal Pros. In the words of Matt Fox: CHARGEEEE

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ute Valley Park Pro XCT...

...Was kind of a bust (for me). I'll keep it short. After a nice rest week, we headed down to CO Springs on Friday to pre ride the course. Not much to say, fast, really short, little climbing, nothing technical. They lined the pros up by UCI points, and if you didn't have any they did it random, unfortunately I got  the short end of the stick and was in the very back row, but I wasn't devastated since there were so many places to pass on the course. Considering start position, I got a good start. Long story short, my legs were not feeling good on any of the short and punchy climbs, no excuses. I lacked the power I normally have on said climbs. I'm thinking that it's because I didn't do any openers the day before, but my legs just weren't havin' it. Ended up 40th of 62 starters, not to happy about it. 

The eliminator was on Sunday, and was pretty cool! It was the same course as the short track (start climb, decent, really steep climb, repeat, about 3 minutes). There was 8 heats, first 2 advanced. I was in a group of 3. I sat 2nd wheel until the top of the first climb, then the third guy got antsy and took the lead. I held my position in 3rd, staying calm and collective for the final STEEP CLIMB, setting myself up so I could pass the guy ahead of me and advance. On the last corner before the steep pitch, I washed out, hard. I just got to antsy on a corner that was made up of loose fine gravel. It was over at that point. After rolling through the finish line, I was extremely frustrated with myself for awhile after that mistake.  It just topped off an otherwise terrible weekend of racing. 

Joel on the other hand had a great first weekend of racing this season. He found himself in FIRST place for the Cat 2 19-29. Also, in the short track he stomped the competition (almost lapping guys) with another 1st place. Time for a Cat 1 upgrade! 

Up next is the Mountain States Cup in Crested Butte (hopefully for some redemption). Right now, training might be difficult here in Fort Collins due to an unbearable amount of smoke from the wildfires. Until next time... 

Found Todd Wells' pre race food spot

Sunday, June 3, 2012

TEVA Mountain Games

This past Friday, a couple of friends and myself flocked to Vail, CO for the TEVA Mountain Games. We setup camp in the White River National Forest, and then headed to town for pre ride, the jump jam, and to just hang out before our cross country race the following morning. 

Start time on Saturday wasn't till 11:45. We headed out from our campsite and rode to the start line. Looking around in the pro field, this was the most firepower in one field I have ever done. Names like JHK, Grotts, Finsterwald, Mitch Hoke, Jay Henry, and Colin Cares toed the line. I was a little nervous, but got over it pretty quick once the gun went off. The course consisted of a 7 mile loop with a steep 30 minute climb, and then a slow flowy descent (typical ski resort race). I didn't want to go out super hard, because we had to do 3 laps. A lot of people passed me the first lap, but there was a lot of double track so I wasn't worried about it. First and second lap were pretty smooth, nothing really was going on, I just rode in about a group of five guys to keep the pace up. 

Coming into the last lap, there was a really off camber turn that I got a good sized gap on. I decided to attack. I was a little worried because I would have to suffer through a full 30 minute climb before I could ease up at all. I put a lot of Women SS racers in between the group of five guys behind me right before the descent, so I was pretty content with my efforts. Coming into the last climb (about 30 seconds worth) I looked back just to make sure, and saw about seven guys in a train charging hard. I had to give 'er as hard as I could, but held them off till the finish line. I ended up 28th out of 45 finishers, not great. 

I've come to realize though that this is how it's going to be for the first couple years as a pro mountain biker. I had a good race, but everyone in the field is so strong, that it will take me a couple of years to get to that kind of level of racing. Clint also raced, and he did the expert field and placed 28th of 65 finishers! Things are looking good for the Pro XCT in Colorado Springs (June 16-17), and especially U23 Nationals. Next up Mountain States Cup #2 in Angel Fire! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mountain States Cup #1

This past weekend was the Mountain States cup #1 in Salida. I've never done any "series" races outside of collegiate in Colorado, so I didn't really know what to expect with field size, competition, course terrain, etc. This was also my first pro race. Clint and myself decided only to race the XC on Sunday, so we headed down with a couple of friends on Saturday morning so we could get a pre ride lap in. The Pro/Cat 1 course was a little different than what I'm used to. It started with a 30 second fire road climb, then into about a ten minute ROAD climb straight into single track. The single track was pretty long, and was followed by another 10 minute dirt climb that was very steep and loose. After that we descended on some SUPER gnarly drops, that I would run during the race. I was really contemplating what tires to run for this race, because it had some pretty jagged rocks and I was reluctant to run my Maxxis Ikons, because the possibility of a flat. I ended up going with the Ikons, and they worked fantastic! Really happy with the way they corner and roll.

The gun for my race went off at 11 am Sunday morning. The pro field was about 35 guys. It started out pretty mellow, until about the last 2 minutes of the road climb before the singletrack. I held my position best I could into the single track, and was in about the top 15. Once the really steep fire road climb came, I was getting passed. I like to think it was the higher elevation, because I'm usually alright at climbing, but I just couldn't hang on with the 2-3 guys behind me. After that I just tried to get my head together so I wouldn't kill myself on the descent. Come lap 2 I wanted to make sure I caught a drafting partner for the road climb. I pace lined with BMC development rider Jack Hinkens who dropped me a little bit right before the single track. At this point the race as pretty strung out and I just wanted to make sure I held my position. As I was trying to catch Jack in front of me, I heard his tire go pssssssssss. He didn't have any way to re inflate it, so I stopped quick to give him my Genuine Innovations Big Air (karma). After that I cruised into the finish, feeling like I was bringing up the back of the race. I ended up 19th of the 35 pros, 13 minutes off the winner Mitch Hoke. I'm fairly pleased with that result, but I think I can do better. Right now it's just lots of tune up races before the CO springs PRO XCT, Nationals, and the Missoula PRO XCT.

The kits are supposedly coming in real soon, so I'll have to post some pictures of those once they arrive.  Couldn't locate any pictures of me at the MSC #1, so I'll leave with a New Belgium Short Track photo.

Clint took second in the Cat 2 19-29 race!