Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Crashing again.... Marysville Race Report

I raced the Marysville enduro last year as my first endurance race ever and came back for more.  Held on a private farm in PA a mere 1.5 hours from Baltimore, the course is a 7.5 mile loop of almost all singletrack with a sneaky amount of climbing, a bunch of tight technical sections and more than it's fair share of unramped logs.  We camped for the weekend so I could race the Friday Night Time trial and the short track on Sunday as part of the PAValleys.com Festival Weekend.  The vibe is a good one - lots of the MASS gang and some really fast cyclists thrown in the mix.  Great area for camping plus a lot of things that make a race nice - (cold) showers with curtains, loads of port-o-pots, two big sound systems, two kegs, a pond and a stream for swimming, etc.  Lots of teams brought their families and kids.

Night time trial:  My first time riding at night, everLights on the bars and helmet. 

This is the only part of the weekend I'd like to have back - I definitely left some minutes out there in my tentativeness.  The course is 3.5 miles of pretty true singletrack.  Pretty wild racing at night - eerie and lonely.  I got passed by the winning duo team, who started nearly 5 minutes back, but otherwise was out alone the whole time.  Finished 4th out of the solo women.

Enduro:  It was frickin' hot on Saturday.  I did better with nutrition and hydration than at Iron Hill or the Stoopid, aided by a fully stocked pit and a pit crew who lubed my chain when I was gulping coke (thanks Shea!).  A spare water bottle every lap for dumping over my head certainly helped.  Heed, Cerasport, margarita shot blocks, and PBnJ were the calories of the day. 

I started solid, even doing a couple of proper cross dismounts on a few of the ~8 times per lap I was off my bike.  I was into my endurance pace by the second lap when I started crashing.  Now, I haven't crashed a ton this year in races, but I might have made up for it on Saturday.
  • I crashed on a switchback.  
  • Several laps later I crashed on the same switchback.  
  • I laid the bike down (and myself) in the gravel road at the bottom of a steep downhill.  
  • I crashed over a log.  
  • I rode off the side of the downhill on a big log-over. 
  • I clipped my handlebars on more than one tree and got misdirected into the woods...  
Not much worse for the wear, but I'm sore and used some new-skin on Saturday night to patch up.  And a bit of beer.

After about the 3rd lap, the other women similar in speed had separated a bit, and it was just me and some guys.  Lap after lap.  I was on pace to put in 7 laps and did. And I hit my average lap time even on lap 6, so maybe I'm starting to figure this endurance stuff out.  6th for the day behind some very experienced ladies.

Short track:  An early morning thunderstorm woke us early, but I went back to sleep until nearly 9.  Short track wasn't until 11:30, but there was slow downhill racing and huffy tossin' to watch in the interim.

My legs felt a little tight, but my butt and banged-up knee were not at all happy with the idea of getting on a bike again for 30 minutes of all out effort.  It felt great, though.  We raced all at once, so I got to knock elbows with the guys, and got taken out by one on a tight pass.  I thought I was third, holding off Nicole during the last lap by digging deeper.  The women's leader lapped me at the end of the race - but then when results went up I saw that actually one of the fast chicks was behind me the whole time and I was 2nd from the start.  It was nice to end the weekend with a podium in one of the stages.

I wound up 4th in the GC.  Prizes only went to the top 3, which I would say was the only bummer of the weekend.  It's an expensive weekend as races go and for the solos I was expecting they might fill the field out a bit.  But super worth it.  I'm in for next year if anyone else wants to join us for some rassin', campin', beer drinkin' fun.  Shea might look for a relay partner - turns out I'm too stubborn for that relay stuff just yet.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Race report: Stoopid is as stoopid does

Whew.  On a hot, extremely humid day in State College, I was doing a little race known as the Stoopid 50.  It was to be the longest I've ever ridden my mountain bike in a day... yet I was planning to race this event.  After last week's nutritional errors, I had some real food in my drop bag, some real nerves in my belly and was ready to go.  And, for the first time in a while, I was a bit scared to race.  Nervous, yeah.  But actually worried.  That I wouldn't finish.  That I'd crash hard and get hurt.  That I'd get lost in the woods.   That I'd break my frame.  Not very likely outcomes, really.  I talked to a former teammate and buddy Weaver at the start - he was anxious - unsure how to hydrate and what to bring to eat... it was his first endurance race in a long time if ever.

The rain started 5 minutes before we did.  It only last about 15 minutes, but that was long enough to make it even more humid and dampen the rocks.  I knew from Mazz that the rocks were aplenty on a course where most of the climbing was fire roads or old double track.  I started with some effort but not overdoing it.  Passed a few guys who were checking out the chick's butts, and kept my effort steady.  Once on the dirt, there was certainly a log jam but I let a little gap open in front of me so my group didn't have to get off quite as often as the guys in front of us.  I was frustrated when I'd pull off to let the guy behind me ride a section I knew I couldn't, he'd dab, the 8 guys behind him would decide it was okay to walk by me.  But hey, I was in this for the long haul, so no worries. 

The riding up there is pretty technical in spots.  By pretty technical I mean it will be years before I can ride most of the hardest sections.  In that first section of singletrack I passed 15 or so riders who had flatted already.  Glad I was tubeless and running pressures like I do at Michaux.  The tires don't stick  as well, but I only felt my rim once all day.

I crashed on the first big downhill - not super technical but a bit off camber.  A woman was in front of me that was going a bit slower, so our speeds were checked a bit on this one.  The guys nearby were super worried - I had merely slid my front wheel a bit too far in to the dirt on the downhill side of the trail and lost traction.  But they thought it was pretty spectacular.

On a long fire road climb (a theme for this race) at about mile 10, I got to chatting with a Fuji woman, Laura, that I've raced cross against.  She's got huge power on a cross bike but has a tendency to crash.  We chatted happily up that hill - with her commenting that we should probably talk less.  I figure I go faster when I'm having fun, and we were both keeping each other moving.  At least, till the false flats began, then she dropped off.  She'd be back, though.

Rolling through the aid station the first time, I was floored.  Before I was off my bike they were asking what I need, filling my water bottle for me, handing me food and getting me on my way.  Impressive.  The volunteers actually looked like they were having fun.

The middle section of this course had a ton of singletrack.  Some of it I loved.  Some of it I didn't quite love, especially the mud covered rocky uphills that turned into hike-a-bike's for me.  Yeah, I love going for a walk in the woods with my bike, in bike shoes, on rocks I can barely walk on.  I cleaned some stuff, rode okay on the downhills, and only crashed a little bit on one log.  There had been more rain on this side of whatever ridge we were riding near - traction was sometimes pretty challenging.  I was ready for some fire road by the time we finally came out of the singletrack and back into the aid station.

This time I had some coke, topped up my camelbak (actually, a really nice volunteer did that) and ate part of my poptart.  I was happy to see that there were still 2 tubes in my drop bag, indicating that neither Mazz nor Weaver had flatted yet and needed another spare tube.  Laura rolled into the aid station as I was heading out of it and wound up finishing just a couple minutes behind me.

The climb out of that aid station is long.  I passed a number of guys cramping and walking their bikes.  By this point, it was nearly 3:00 and the afternoon sun sucked the wind right out of me.  I was still climbing okay, but getting ready to be done.  After a no speed limit downhill on old jeep road that was pretty smooth, another climb awaited.  I had what felt like a bit of motion sickness and some race tummy going on, so I had to spin pretty slowly up the start of this climb.  It wasn't the last one, but I knew we were getting close.

By the time I hit the incredibly technical, probably really fun on fresh legs downhill that Mazz had warned me about, I was cooked.  My hands and arms were tired, my legs were shaking a bit, I couldn't really see straight.  So I walked.  Until I decided to ride.  Then I crashed.  I would lose 6 minutes to the woman who passed me while I crashed.  6 minutes in less then 2 1/2 miles of downhill.  I walked some more.  I talked to myself.  I got on my bike and talked to myself, but it didn't flow.  I was fighting myself, the bike, everything.  When I got to the finish, designated by riding under a log through a creek, I was pretty relieved.  Nystrom and others were there cheering. 

When I got to the parking lot a few minutes later, a couple of cool things happened.  First, Mazz and Weaver both nearly knocked me off my bike by expecting me to fist bump/high five while riding.  Then I looked and saw Weaver had a clean jersey on.  His kit is white.   I figured this was a good thing - turns out he took 2nd overall.  Mazz also had a pretty awesome race, which made the trip home all the more fun.

Me, I finished 13th out of the women.  That should be right around the midpoint when you count the chicks who started but DNF'd.  50 miles, nearly 7000 feet of climbing, 7 hours and 23 minutes.  Stoopid.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Race report: Heed (in) the bushes

Iron Hill
Enduro Women (4hrs)
Result: 6th

Okay, first report in a while since it was the first race in a while.  In what turned out to be a brutally hot day, coach Rodger and I had decided I should the 4 hour Enduro race at Iron Hill instead of the 15-mile Sport class.  This year they ran it in the opposite direction, which was, to me, MUCH more fun.  The climbs were less brutal, the downhills more technical, the woopy-doos fun too. There were definitely more rocks than I remembered - bouncing me around and making me wonder if my shock was locked out (it wasn't).  The "Megadip" (also backwards from last year) wasn't actually open for much of my race since they had it closed for all of Beginner and the first lap of sport.  On lap 5, I bypassed it - I don't do well with an audience.  Lap 6 I rode it but wound up running the top 10 feet. 

It was fun to line up with 16 Enduro Women (!) including some familiar faces - Heidi von T. and Kim D. among them.  After the start, one rider was off the front early and a couple others went by soon after, but the rest of us hung together in a little row.  Until Heidi crashed on a log, then it was Kim and I for a bit.  I was trying to meter my effort so I had something left for late in the race and was really having fun.  On lap 4, I slowed down a bit, preparing to "go fast" for the last 2 or 3 laps - I knew I'd be close to being able to go out for a 7th lap if I could hit my pace from the first 3 laps.  That was also when the legions of just-started sport riders came flying past.  Kim got taken out by one on a pass, we pulled off for the next group.  Surprised to see Shea in my pit after that lap - turns out he DNF'd from his race after double flatting. 

Going out on lap 5, I started to not feel so hot.  At all.  It was a slow lap.  I decided to go for a fast lap 6 anyway, an effort that lasted less than a mile before I was "that rider" - you know, the one watering the bushes with some partially digested Heed.  Needless to say, I took it easy for the rest of the lap after that and came in 6th on the day - proud to have finished in spite of the challenge of figuring out my nutrition for long hot races.  Don't worry, it only takes once - I'll have the changes in place for the Stoopid 50.

Monday, June 7, 2010


When I lived in Utah, some things were harder (finding beer above 3% alcohol on a Sunday, for instance).  But when it comes to bike clothing, there is no question that Utah is easier.  We've hit the humid time of year and I have to invoke all my tricks to keep the bike duffle from reeking up every room it lands in.  Nevermind the nastiness of wiping one's nose with a soured, manky glove.  Last year, I even warranteed a pair of shoes because they "perfumed" my car, house, and basement within a half hour of being there, despite my best efforts. I think it was the glue. 

Sweaty clothes - have to come out of the bag and go on top of the hamper till they're dry.  I wash everything with color safe bleach - this little trick helps a lot with the sweat-being-held-in-by-synthetic-material aroma.  I also hang dry everything because I am that anal retentive.

Gloves get washed every time I do bike laundry.  They still smell.

Bottles and bladders - Wanna know the secret trick to keeping Camelbak's from growing mold in the tube?  Rinse it out and keep it in the freezer- I have to remember this one because there's usually some funny mix of strawberry heed in that thing.  I think the same can be done with bottles, but I throw mine through the dishwasher so many times they usually melt a little and start leaking before the curse of the black mold.

The shoes - get tossed in the fireplace to dry out - I should be clear - it's not a working fireplace but is one of the few places in our house without hardwood. 

Eventually maybe I'll get my hot-humid day race food sorted out - I'm definitely still making errors there.  More in upcoming race report.