Sunday, April 15, 2007

The OX and a 96er

This weekend kicked off the race season here in Minnesota. Rochester Cycling and Fitness, our teams title sponsor, along with RASC hosted the Oxbow Spring Classic. The highlight of the race is the Oxenburg climb, which is a couple hundred yard stretch of 22% grade followed by a gradual 1/2 mile should be noted that they shut the hill down in the winter because it is impassable. Look what the Oxenburg did to this poor animal...
Let me back up a few steps. I was having some debate on what bike to ride because in the past Ox races I had trouble hanging on when the peleton ramps it up going downhill. On Wednesday, I took my hardtail for a ride with 29er wheels (29" or 700c is the road wheel diameter vs 26" for mountain). It felt really high in the front end because I had my fork set up with no sag. Then it came to me... and the 96er was born. I put a hard case tire on a 29" wheel for the rear and a mountain bike tire and wheel up front. I couldn't call it the 69er because Trek probably already has a Trademark on that with their 29 front and 26 rear combo.

Back to the race.
Since my license says I am a Cat 5 (the lowest cat) I am kind of breaking the rules when I race the Cat 1-3 race. However, I am there for training and I wanted to do the longest, hardest race. This year they split the A class 3 ways...Cat 1-2, Cat 3, and over 35. That was fine by me, and so as to break the rules "less," I registered for the Cat 3 or A2. This allowed me to do the long race w/o messing up the results for the more serious roadies.
Off the start it was slow and nice until the first Oxenburg climb. The King of the Mountains prize was given to the first person from each category up the climb. While I didn't plan on even trying for the KOM title, we hit the climb, and I felt fine. I put in a little effort and crested the hill 4th or so but I guess I was first in the A2. It was hard to keep track in the race because the only difference was that A2 numbers were 600's and A1 were 700's. The rest of the race was pretty lame until the end. It was unknown to me and most of the peleton, that Grandstay, who by the way had 8 out of the 30 person peleton, had a guy away after that first climb. Grandstay sat on the front of the peleton and shut anything I sat back and dealt with surge after surge....100% for a minute or less, followed by 2 min of coasting. This is TOTALLY NOT what I train for (mountain bike racing is just max sustained effort for ~2 hours) and was quite draining on my legs. I probably would have been better off taking pulls to keep the pace high. My brother Ben caused a lot of pain and had the peleton asking "who is that guy" as he put in pull after pull. In the end it fried him, but like he said, he was just there for training=) All I know is that Ben is going to win some races this year.

The only snaffu of the race for me happened when I missed a handoff. Ben, Chris and I were close together and I fumbled the bottle. I would have been screwed, but my dad sprinted after me and got me a bottle...a total race saver. He can sure still move for an old guy=)

Near the end of the race, Doug Swanson had gotten away and the Grandstay team was starting to look more ragged. I hopped on the front with 1/3 a lap left and put down a reasonable effort. I couldn't deal with more slow climbing and was pretty confident I could hurt some people with a hard pull....the pull ended up being for several miles.
Then THE LOOK! Dan Swanson had been sucking my wheel. He pulled up on my side, gave me a good stare and took off! I will have to get him back for that=) From what I hear it was pretty funny to see.
It was just hammer the last couple miles to the finish. There were only a couple 600's left in the group and when we hit the Ox the last time, Fisher hit it hard but then popped. Some other 600's kid on a road bike was right in front of me. I found plenty in the tank to pound past him (in pic below).

In the end I won the A2 race and was the A2 KOM (5th or 6th overall - no results yet), which is pretty cool because I expected nothing out of the race. Most importantly, I got a really good hard workout.
Oh, and I have to mention the trophy...the COOLEST I have ever gotten. As Chris Walkin would say, "I have a fever and the only cure for that fever is some more ...

Dan admiring the VeloRochester bike selection
Enough writing already right? Sorry, it has been a while since I have had anything worth talking about.
As Kip would say, Peace Out.

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