Tuesday, June 30, 2009

back from beach peach from leach

I said that regularly scheduled boggatude would resume on the 27th. But I lied. The 27th was a Saturday, and blog writing never takes place on the weekend. I should have started again yesterday, but I was distracted.

By this:
Behold the glory that is the Poo Poo Thunder II! With the addition of this fine crosscheck, and the subtraction of this crappy green thing, I should once more have a bike that's reliable enough to get me to work and back. Beef gravy brown never looked soo tasty.

I took the week off while I was at the beach. I tried to keep the riding under an hour a day, and slow. I think the time off will do me good down the road, but I felt like crap on my ride after work yesterday. I spent the better part of an hour and a half chugging up the nine mile climb to the top of the trail and my beach softened legs felt like they were going to explode. Hopefully the fitness will return soon. (I'm confident that it will)

The next race on the calender is the WV Sate Championships. I haven't been able to find much information about the race, but I'm really hoping for a dry course. Knowing West Virgina, that's extremely unlikely.

One month left until the Wilderness 101. The Stoopid 50 went well, so I think I'll be fine in the 101, but I still have a lot of prep work to do. Newman-O's or Fig Newtons? That is the big question.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gone to the beach. Semi regular blogging will resume 6/27. Sadly, I have yet to see a horse.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

stoopid mistakes

I need to eat more while I'm racing. In the first 3 hours of the stoopid I took in around 250 calories, while I should have eaten at least 750. I think my biggest mistake was only carrying 5 gels. Because I had so few, I was trying to conserve them so that they would last me the entire race. At least that's how I tried to rationalize it while I was riding.

A gel flask would have really helped. Tearing the little tops off of gel packets is a real pain in the ass. But my biggest problem was trying to eat on the single track. The trails were so technical that there was hardly a place where I could reach for a water bottle. Next time I'm going to keep some Oreos in my back pocket. (which will not quench my thirst. forgive me for this poorly structured paragraph) An Oreo is 70 calories per cookie, and takes roughly 3 seconds to eat. If I ate 3 oreo's per hour, I would spend only 9 seconds and almost fill my caloric needs. It my not be the best way to get nutrition, but it certainly would be the cheapest, easiest, and tastiest.

The eating thing was really the only part of my race that I was not happy with. I was climbing great and doing just fine on the rocks. I only had one flat, and I was a little frustrated with how long the Stan's took to seal the puncture. But more importantly, I would like to know wtf happened to my can of CO2. It's more than annoying that I have lugged that thing along for so many races, then when I needed it, it failed. No more big air for me. I'm using the little bottles of CO2 from now on.

Monday, June 15, 2009

stoopid 50 2009 race report

I'll start by saying that the Stoopid was a beautiful course, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to die (on the inside. while riding. i'm just sayin its hard.)

getting there:

The lady bear and I got the grumbler on the road about an hour later than I planned. Fortunately, the old grumbles did not give us any trouble and we arrived at the Penn Roosevelt camp ground in Rothrock Forest at 10:45. It was obviously pitch black by that time, and not wanting to disturb anyone who was sleeping, I parked the grumbler by the side of the road and pitched our tent a few feet away under a large conifer.
From 2009 Racing Season
Our lodging for the night was strategically placed on top of a small rock that protruded into the lady bear's rib cage. Magnifico.

I had a comfortable sleep and awoke with the sun to get everything packed up. By 6:45 we were ready to go, and headed over to the start area.
From 2009 Racing Season
We ending up being one of the first ones there, and almost had first dibs on the portapoties. Life doesn't get any sweeter.

I ran up to the registration table to sign the obligatory "I promise I won't sue you if I die" paper work and get my drop bag. I came back and ate some cereal while the lady bear made me samiches and packed the bag with cliff bars, organic un-oreos, and other delectables.
From 2009 Racing Season

From 2009 Racing Season
I like to think that the flying ham on the bottom left corner of my drop bag made me faster.

At 8:15 I had to take another dump. And apparently, so did everyone else. I did the potty dance for a solid 15 minutes while I waited for my turn in one of the two bathrooms. By the time I was out, there was only 25 minutes until the start. I pulled on my bibs and jersey (courtesy of the fine folks at twin six) and filled my bottles. Then I headed over to the racer meeting.

the race:

The start was controlled, so for the first few miles we followed a truck up a paved road. Unfortunately, I was standing near the back of the race meeting, so when the promoter yelled "roll out!" I was already near the back of the pack. I was technically not supposed to pass while we were still following the truck, but I knew that if I didn't I would have about 100 pieces of slow moving traffic in front of me when we hit the single track. I should have done a lot more passing than I did those first few miles.

When the truck blew its horn to signify the end of the controlled start, I was so far back that I could hardly hear it. I picked up the pace a little bit, but I did not want to kill myself those first few miles.

When we hit the single track, the course jammed up almost instantly. My speed dropped to about 6 mph as I fought to ride the rocks and not hit the guys wheel in front of me. The only time I, or anyone else could pass, was when someone dabbed and fell to the side of the trail. There was a solid stream of riders in front and behind me. I knew that the lead guys were going a metric shit ton faster than 6 mph, so I got a little edgy.

After a few miles, the herd finally started to thin and I was able to ride at my own pace. I was loving the single track. I felt so at home there with the big rock gardens, logs, and little chatter rocks every where in between. Just like Laural Mountain, there was not a section of smooth dirt anywhere.

I rolled by a photographer and threw her my most dashing smile. "Rigid eh?" she yelled. "Yep. It's a bitch." I shouted back as I pedaled away. Using the power of their squishy forks, a few guys were passing me on the rockier down hills, but I knew that there was really nothing I could do to stay with them. So I contented myself with the lovely views of the mountains in the distance.

Just when my hands were starting to scream for mercy from the relentless jarring, we hit the fire road and started to climb. I had not been able to eat or drink on the single track, so I at about the one hour mark I sucked down my first gel and drank half a bottle of water.

I was feeling great and immediately started passing people. I rang my little bell and let my tongue loll out the side of my mouth as I pounded by one single speed. Judging by the disgusted look on his face, I think he thought I was crazed.

The road kept getting steeper, and I stayed out of the saddle passing both geared and SS riders. As I passed one geared guy, (passing on a climb takes at least a couple minutes. it feels like your going in slow motion), I said "I spose there's some climbing around these parts" "Yep. This is an 18% grade." he replied.

'huh.' I thought as I motored by.

When I hit the top of the road the view was spectacular. It was a perfectly clear sunny day and I could see for miles. I really wanted to stop and take it in, but I had no time for relaxing. It was a race dammit.

The fire road turned back downhill and I fully expected to be passed by some of the geared guys that I had gone by on the climb. But it never really happened. I spun up to 30 mph, got off the saddle and tucked in to get the most out of the hill. Only one or two guys on full suspensions went by me in their big rings.

I knew the aid station was coming up soon, but it surprised the hell out of me when I rounded a corner and it popped up.
From 2009 Racing Season

I slammed on the brakes and skidded over to the table. With a cloud of dust settling around me I pulled in and grabbed a sammich while a volunteer filled my bottle. Within a minute I was back on the road. Good service.

I ate half of the half sammich while I caught up to the two guys in front of me that had bypassed the aid. By the two hour mark I had eaten one gel and 1/4 of a pb&j. You can probably guess where this is going.

We went back into the single track, and I really started to slow down. The constant beating from the rocks was taking its toll, and guys with suspension where passing me in alarming numbers. I went up a steep rocky climb that opened into a section of muddy double track. When I turned back onto the trail, I was met with a long twisty rock strewn downhill. Under different circumstances, it would have been a blast, but as it was it just hurt. A lot.

The climb back up was partly ridable, but it was almost as fast to hike it. As usual, I made up a few places as I hiked by people.

At 2 1/2 hours I still had not eaten anything else and was running out of water. I started to pray that the aid station would appear soon. The terrain was varied from rooted pine forest to sun baked field on that section of trail. But the overriding theme was rocks. And more rocks. The rocks never seemed to end. I watched in dismay as three single speeds passed me. But still the trail continued with its relentless beating.

After what felt like an eternity, I exited the trail and hit the fire road. I was starting to bonk by this point. I looked down at my computer and saw that I was only moving at 7 mph on the road, where earlier in the day I had averaged 15. My legs felt dead, but I was hesitant to eat because I was out of water. After three hours of hard riding, I had only taken in 250 calories, while I had likely burned nearly 900. That's a bit of a deficit.

After a few more minutes I said screw the water and ate my emergency cliff bar, and washed it down with a gel. I felt a little better, but now I was hungry. In a couple more miles, the aid station appeared again. I had my bottles filled by my padre and the lady bear, who had apparently become aid volunteers.

I ran over to check out the food table.
From 2009 Racing Season
1 1/2 bannas, 1/2 of a pb&j, a few oreos, a chewy bar, and a bottle of water later, I was back on the trail. There was only 15 miles to go, and with the food in my belly I was starting to feel much better. I hooked up with a geared guy and we took a few turns pulling each other up the climb. Somehow, almost all of the last 15 miles was up hill. I had caught two SS's and was feeling much stronger. Then, at mile 42, in the middle of a huge climb, I felt my back tire go squishy.

Shit. I stopped and pulled out my CO2, only to find that at some point it had sprung a leak, and was now empty. Double shit. I started walking up the hill while I waited for some riders to catch up to me. As they went by, I begged for some CO2. One fine soul answered my pleas and gave me his inflator. (thanks jake)

I pumped up the tire, and fortunately the stan's sealed the hole, and I was on my way again. There were only 8 miles to go, and for most of the time I was alone. Before the race, the promoter had mentioned that the final 2 miles to the finish were a super technical rock garden, so the whole time I was on the fire road, I tried to mentally prepare myself.

I hit the down hill, which was actually a mile and a half from the finish, and immediately began to curse the sadistic mother f###er that designed the course. It was hard, and I was tired. I was not pleased. My hands were just being completely worked over by the combination of rocks and rigid fork. Then I rolled through the finish. And I was completely pleased. Two riders rolled in right behind me, that I had apparently held off on the descent (by held off I just mean that they had nowhere to pass.)

I shook my hands out and winced as another rider said to me "Not bad for a rigid. This really isn't the course for that shit." I immediately vowed to get a suspension fork.

But now I'm not so sure. I really am a stubborn ass.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One day left until the first endurance race of my life. I spent yesterday preparing the bike for service. Cleaned some brake pads, lubed a chain, tightened a bracket. I not sure why I just wasted my time with that last sentence, but anyway, it was exceedingly boring stuff.

From 2009 Racing Season

vegetable hammer, ready for battle

And with that good reader, I must run out the door to work. I apologize for such a succinct post, but be assured, the Stoopid 50 race report will be long and flowing.


Monday, June 8, 2009

5 from 50

I started the new job yesterday. I now work here instead of here. Actually I still work here, but only on Tuesdays.

Since I am now employed in Ohiopyle, I'm hopping that I will be able to get more time on the mountain bike since nice trails are only a hop and a skip away.
Purty aint it? (picture pirated from here)

But more importantly, the Stoopid 50 is almost here. 5 days left. I put in a crappy 2 hr mountain ride on Friday, and a good 4 1/2 hour effort road on Saturday. The good ride was on the fixed gear, had tons of climbing, and was more than 50 miles. So I think I'm ready. I hope I am.

There is so much that I don't know about endurance racing. I get one drop bag, which I'm not sure I can count on getting back, I haven't figured out what to put in it, I am not sure how often I'll have to stop for water, and I don't know what I should do when I have to pee.

The course looks like it has big climbs, and lots of twists.

I hope I don't make a wrong turn.

Along with being my first endurance race, this will be my first experience camping out before a race. I can't imagine that anything could go wrong making camp at 10 pm the night before a big race.

And if you clicked on that Tuesdays link, I hope people saw your computer and think your weird.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

where my turkey at?

As I've stated in my two previous posts, Creek to Peak was incredibly muddy. In fact, with the exception of Big Bear, every race I have done this year has been muddy. 3/4 muddy races. I'm no wizard of the mathematics, but I think that with 75% of races muddy, I would have been better off using mud tires than hardpack race tires. Crossmarks are not terrible in the slop, but they do leave a lot to be desired. And as much as I love my rampage up front, it does not hold well when the trail gets really wet.

I have read great things about how well Michelin XC/AT's work in the mud, and I do have a pair of them, but I just can't bring my self to put them back on my bike. I hate them. So much. The traction on wet roots and rocks is just awful. Me thinks I need to try some of these or these. Maybe a nice stout would do the trick.

And again I was not riding smoothly, and I was starting to think about washing the mud off myself before the first hour was over. But I wasn't until after the race had ended, or more accurately, until today that I realized what had really gone wrong.

I forgot tender foot. 

Upon realizing that he was no where to be found, I rushed to my bike room to check for the little turkey.

From 2009 Racing Season
1 keet (I don't have the par yet), 1 stanley, 1 small grey willis dinosaur, 0 tender foots.

0 tender foots. That's one tender foot less than there should be on that table. In a panic I sprinted to the shrine of the water demon for council.

From 2009 Racing Season
"Beolow in me mouthhh" exclaimed the water demon.

So blow I did

From 2009 Racing Season
The sweet melody of the water demon song was heard for miles around. I paused after playing the tune, but alas, tender foot had not come. I began to get suspicious. 

From 2009 Racing Season

This lump of a cat has been known to eat things larger than a tender foot. I contemplated squeezing his stomach to see if tender foot would cry out, but thought better of it. I must continue my search. Hopefully the small squeaky turkey will come back soon.

From 2009 Racing Season

I'll be watching this creep. Something about him seems shady.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Creek to Peak race report

I hate to sound like a broken record, but it was muddy. Again. At this point I am not sure that West Virgina ever drys out. I fear that it may be some geographical anomaly that is constantly rained on until all the soil disintegrates into a primordial ooze, that by some work of wizardry, is slippery like ice, but sticks and hardens like cement. Slippery and sticky. At the same time. It defies convention.

I was not sure that I would even be able to make it to this race. But I am glad I did, if for nothing else than the experience it gave me with dealing with awful conditions. And the t-shirt was nice. (and my size. three huzzahs for that.)
The start was, well, FUBAR. At the tinkle of the race promoters little bell we shot across the flat gravel road. I was spinning fast and making good time "Hurrah!" I thought. "I finally have a good start!" Then we ran into some cation tape.

The tape stretched the whole way across the road. The lead guys rode through it, a few of us turned left, and the rest of the pack came to a screeching halt. A string of expletives were loosed from 30 mouths.

After a minute or so of fierce debate, we decided to go left. We took off across a field and I started to work my way to the front again. "Hurrah! Still a good start for meee!" I thought. Then we ran into some cation tape.

This time the tape was at the end of the trail, in the shape of a box. We come to a dead end right next to the start. This time the expletives were directed at the befuddled race promoter.
"Where the f**k do we go mr. director?"
take note of the riders in the left corner, off their bikes, just standing. we were five minutes into a race.

We lined up again at the start line, and did a half assed restart, I say the start was only worth half of an ass because we were all still moving. We took off in the same direction we had gone four minutes previously. Apparently, we should have busted through the first tape line and headed straight. By this time, the sport and beginner classes had already started, so we had about 75 extra people to try to get by before the road ended and the single track began.

I wish that I could say the start set the tone for the rest of the race, but the remaining three hours (yes three hours. for a 21 mile race. oi.) sucked even more.

When I hit the single track, it immediately became a battle to keep my bike upright. The mud was the constancy of peanut butter, and half as palatable. I know this because I had the distinct pleasure of eating a good quantity of it. We were still crammed behind a bunch of sport riders, and I tried to stay near Benji, but he kept passing, and I did not. My passing skills leave something to be desired.

I traded places with two other SS guys a few times before we hit the road again. On the pavement I hit it hard and made up a ton of places, and even passed a few geared fools. When we went back into the woods, we started climbing. The course kept going uphill for a long time. I was riding decently, but running better. And there was a ton of running. Even this early in the race, most of the the climbs had become to slippery to ride. Emergency dismounts decimated the ranks. Every time someone came off in front of me, I smiled inwardly and got off to run by them.

The course was incredibly demanding with the mud. It was cut into the side of a ridge, so there was a steep drop off on one side, and a tree laden hill on the other. Add a smattering of wet roots and rocks, and it became an interesting experience. At this point I was only averaging about eight mph.

We crossed the top of a cliff, and it became downright scary. The drop off was about 15 feet, with a steep ridge below that. If someone would have fallen off there, I dare say their race would have been finished. After the cliff, the trail descended in a stream complete with running water and three foot drops. I have ridden across streams before, but I must admit this was the first time I have ridden down one. I was slowly changing my speed setting from race to 'oh god I hope I don't crash and break something.'

I continued to swap places with another SS. He would blow by me on the descents and flat twisty sections, but I always caught up to him on the run ups. Slowly but surely we were climbing out of the creek.

Finally we hit the peak, and the trail dried out and widened into a fire road. I put the hammer down and flew by my SS amigo and a geared guy. I tried to eat a cliff mojo bar (not my best idea. self, bring a gel next time.) I made was keeping it close to 17 mph on that fire road. When I went back into the woods, there was no one around.

About 15 minutes later, the SS (i think it was aron, but I really can't remember) went by me. I don't think I caught him again for the rest of the race.
At some point I think I was passed by a guy riding in a bathing suit, but I may have been delirious at that point.

Eventually I exited the woods and went by the start/finish area. I had already hit two hours, and I still had a lap to go. Every other WVMBA race so far had ended by the two hour mark. It was slightly discouraging.

I reentered the woods for the second lap, and the mud had become even more slippery than the first time I was there. I was still passing beginners and sport riders pushing their bikes who had completely given up riding. I didn't blame them, there were points that I wanted to drop my bike and just jog the rest of the race. By this point my tires resembled 29 inch donuts. They were so packed full of stinky mud that they were effectively slicks.

Thankfully, the trail turned off and I did not have to climb to the top of the ridge again. But the final section of trail was the worst. Standing water and mud almost a foot deep covered the last two miles of the race. When I finally rolled into the finish I was so glad to be done. And I was even more glad that there was a bike wash.

From 2009 Racing SeasonClicky for big

1/6 of the expert field did not finish. I was the 5th SS. (out of 7. not so hot, I know)

Monday, June 1, 2009

smelly mudhole thy name is eleanor

5th SS at creek to peak. Worst mud I've ever ridden (and by that i mean walked) in. I'll try to put a race report up today. Grug.