Monday, August 23, 2010

Better than Spirit Mt?

Man, that was a cool course on sunday (MNSCS #9 at Lester Park in Duluth). I am not sure it is better than Spirit Mt, but it definitely ranks up there.
My race? Oh, it was pretty much a culmination of some bad luck that I hadn't had in a while. It started about a week earlier with the onset of a head cold. Thursday and Friday were rough achy days. My wife encouraged me to stay home on Sunday, but she knew what my answer to that would be.
Yes, of course the race was muddy...thick clay filled mud. I think nasty conditions can just be assumed for 90% of the races this year. But the Bontrager XR2s strapped to the Fuel made navigation easy and after as strong lead out by Mr Chequamegon himself, Doug Swanson, I found myself riding very comfortably with SamO and Erik Tonkin. I was under very little pressure and wasn't going to let either one of them slip away until bad luck started. My LCR friend Jim turned his bike sideways in front of me on one of the slippery ski trail downhills just as SamO snuck by. I took his tire in my chest and have an imprint of his tread on my arm, but it actually doesn't really hurt today. I got up and quickly chased back up to Sam and Erik...just in time to hear pssssttttt. Yup, a puncture through the tread. I was following close and took a hard hit on a rock that I might normally avoid. After fiddling with CO2 and the inability of Stans to seal the hole 5 min, I decided to run with my bike to the next feed/tech zone for some help (I need to start running anyway if I am going to do some 'cross =).Running practice capture by Jay...I think we were both laughing at my misfortunre as I went by.
There, I got a pump, a tube from a friendly racer, and even a pliers because my tubeless valve was stuck. The fix took a LONG time, but I HATE to DNF. I was determined to finish, which I did.
My takeaway is that my fitness is relatively high for this time of year, and if I can stay healthy, it should bode well for me up at Maplelag, St. Cloud and into 'cross season.

For now, the bike is a 30 lb disaster of clay filled mud, the bike (at least one of them) needs a small chainring put back on it, I need to kick this cold, and I need to get those lights fired up for 24 Hours of Salsa/Afton this weekend! Luckily, I have a my mechanic, Tegan, pumped up about helping with this stuff....

Update: So, I wanted to inspect my rim before posted this, but my Bonti XXX lite carbon mtbk rim still appears to be fine despite the flat on Sunday. The tire is shot. I thought this might be interesting to some folks, as I too was once a skeptic about the use of carbon rims on mtbks.
The fact that the rims is intact is pretty amazing considering how hard I must have hit that rock (was only running 20 PSI for grip reasons). The flat both bruised/cut the bead area and punctured through the tread area of a fairly "safe" 580 gram tire. So a rock smacked right through the tread, through the sidewall, and down to the rim. Any aluminum rim would have been dented and probably ruined.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

5 in 10 and R&R

Better late than never, here are the happenings over the last couple weeks.
The Border Battle ended a 5 xc race in 10 day stretch for me. 3 of the 5 were at Buck and one was an offroad TT at Murphy Hanrehan, a local 10 mile singletrack loop.
The Murphy TT was Wed and as per the norm this year, 10 minutes before the start, a cloud blew up and it rained. It did not rain at my house 8 miles away, but it poured for 10 minutes on the trail, just enough to make it really slick. I played it safe around corners and across the many bridges, but ended up working very hard to accelerate back up to speed. I think about 90% of the folks out there crashed...some pretty hard. I managed to avoid crashing and take the win but it was no record setting day.
The last Thursday Night at Buck is always a blast and with live music and pyrotechnics thrown in, this was no exception. My plan was to ride 2 laps hard and then tempo it in. I did so and it was good enough for second place, with Cody Larson taking the win. I knew going hard for all four laps would make the forecasted hot and steamy conditions at the Border Battle that much tougher.
The Border Battle was a great race and a recap can be found here and an interview here. I was the hottest race I remember doing, and as I drove away the radio reported a current heat index of 103. I am not sure I could have avoided the cramping in those conditions.
I followed that stretch of racing with my families vacation in the Dells. We rode the ducks, went to a circus, did a lot of pool time, suffered a little (or a lot in some cases), and had a very fun week. One of the highlights for me was 4.5 hour ride my brothers and I did on a 95 degree day. My younger brother Brad had is first full-on-bonk-cramping-in-every-muscle (including hands) experience. It was a sight to see and his is a stronger man now than he was before.


Monday, August 02, 2010

66 and counting

By my estimation, upon completion of MNMBS#7 and 10 of the 11 Thursday Night Penn Series I have somewhere in the range of 66 laps in at Buck Hill this year! We have done this course forward, backward, upside down, and right side up. I am not complaining, mind you. It is a good race course in a very convenient location, and the races are always run well with more than adequate facilities.

Sunday was AND humid. 88 degrees and 69 degree dew point according to Jen's iphone. While the race was short in time, it was long in pain. I don't think any of the elite racers would have asked for more than the 6 laps that we did. That said, the second half of my race was much better than the first.
I lead the first lap but had some gut rot (maybe due to heat, I am not sure) so I kept the pace reasonable. Cody lead the next lap and went hard enough that it was only he, Eric Thompson, and I left with SamO just dangling. The third time up the main climb, Cody's pace slowed, and I attacked with Eric the only one still hanging on. The fourth lap I did the same and was able to get a gap on Eric. By then my stomach was feeling better and it must have showed on my face because Jay Richards said I looked a lot stronger (and I felt a lot stronger) on the last 2 laps. I finished all alone at the front, not necessarily exhausted, but still hurting from the short, hard, very hot effort. SamO caught Eric near the end and nipped him at the line to round out the podium. The picture above was taken by Jay.

Equipment wise, I did ride the Top Fuel out there rather than the hardtail. I was debating given the climby, punchy nature of the course. I have gone back and forth this year at the Thursday nights, but for me right now the fuel is faster, period. The tire combo of Bontrager 2.2 XR1 front and XR0 rear has proven to be faster and more supple than last years Rocket Ron and Racing Ralph combo, but the Ron definitely has more bite as a front tire in the loose stuff than the XR1. The XR2 is more comparable to the Ron, but you have to trade off weight (100gs heavier) with durability (Ron's cut very easily just ask Jake Richards about his running race yesterday!).
If you get a chance to try some of the new XC Bontrager treads XR2, XR1, and XR0, do so.... if you want to race them, be sure to get the Team Issue compound.

I am not sure what my plans are this week other than commuting. I would like to hit Murphy Wed, Buck Thurs, and the Border Battle Sunday, but there is only so much zoom-zoom in the legs and likely I will only hit one of the weekday races.
Most importantly, we are heading to the Dells on Sunday for our family vacation where we have 3 condos rented to house my parents, the 5 of us kids, 4 grandchildren, 2 spouses, and 1-2 significant others. I am excited to hang with everyone and to get away for some R&R...oh wait never mind, Tegan won't let that happen=) Ben will be there too so I am sure some light pedaling will occur....

Does anyone know if Devils Head still has any trails open? Riding there used to be awesome, and we will only be 20 min away.