Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mud Gumbo: Winsted Woods Race Report, May 15 2011

Winsted Woods Race Report, May 15 2011
Cat 2 Single Speed
(scroll down for course description)

Summary: Got 4th out of 8, actually my worst result ever (in 5 races).  Felt great, but had wrong gearing, so I had to run/walk with the bike a lot and I’m not in that kind of running shape. Learned two things: I need to bring an extra cog or two with different gearing, and I need to start jogging or at least work ‘running with bike’ into my training.

The race: I felt pretty good before the race.  Rested but ready.  I made some raw cookies for Kristy for Mother’s Day last week and realized in sampling the treats that they were little delicious bolts of energy (dates, cocoa, agave, vanilla, coconut oil, coconut shreds, pecans…yum)…so I made some more the other day and that was my pre-ride and on-board energy and it worked (and tasted) great.

So yeah, feeling good, until I saw Tim B in the parking lot before the race and he told me he pre-rode the course two days earlier and changed his gearing from 34/18 to 34/22 because of the hills.  I had 34/18. He laughed. I sighed. He was right.

Trailing Nathan as we head towards the woods
I literally ended up running/walking probably half of the course – lots of climbs I couldn’t make, and the extreme mud didn’t help; There were more mud species than Bubba had shrimp recipes:  Black mud, brown mud, watery mud, dry mud, floating mud, slick mud, suction mud, mud gumbo, mud cacciatore, etc...  

I rode/ran/walked with Tim for a while during the race and I eventually caught sight of the rider in second place, Erik.  Then we hit the downhill near the end of the lap and Tim went by me like a runaway locomotive.  I tried to keep up with him but crashed. Twice.
Heading over the logs at the end of the downhill
I caught a glimpse of Tim once more at the top of the long hill to start the 2nd lap, but then I burned out trying to run to catch up to him and his smaller gear.  Tim ended up passing Erik, and taking 2nd behind Tom G, a guy I hadn’t raced against before but met prior to the race.  All three guys finished within a minute of each other and I guess were yelling at each other out on the course.  Wish I was close enough to play too, but I ended up about 3 minutes back. Nathan O came in 5th, which was awesome considering he crashed hard near the start and was riding a rigid fork and tires with little tread…bad day for both.

Tim J, Lukas, me (shh..don't tell Cape Cod Beer that I don't drink)
There were times during the race, whilst pushing my bike up a steepmuddy hill that I wondered why I drove 3.5 hrs to put myself through it.  But it was a great learning experience.  And the ride there was fun as Brian, Tim, and Lukas all piled in the team van (our Honda Odyssey).  So the time went by pretty easy.  Ride home sucked though - tons of traffic.

I feel like my riding fitness is in a good spot, now I have to work on the finer points.  I have some credit for a bike I sold at my team sponsor shop (Bike Zone) and have already gotten a chain whip and ordered a 20 tooth cog so I can swap out before a race if necessary. 

In prep for my next race in 3 weeks, I’ll probably split my training between intervals, hill work (including off the saddle) as the next race is hilly, and maybe one long ride a week to keep endurance up.  I’ve been loving my superearly long road rides b4 work, so I’ll squeeze one or two of those in – for training and fun.

Sadly, the next race on June 6 will likely be my last race for a while.  Happily, that’s because Kristy, Julian, and I will soon welcome little Helena Ophelia into the family.  Due date July 1, but I suspect it will come before that as Kristy’s huge (haha - just seeing if Kristy bothered reading this far).

Course description (I include these in such detail for the benefit of racers who’ve never ridden there and are wondering what it’s like): Under dry conditions, I imagine my description of this course would be hilly + technical = fun.  However, given Sunday’s weather, I’d alter that to hilly + technical + torrential rain = mudclusterfudge.  The start is 50 yards of uphill pavement, right turn into a field, left turn towards the woods via a short kicker hill, then right to a long gradual hill with a decent number of rocks and roots.  Then the trail becomes twistyturny single track with rocks and roots aplenty – lot of fun actually.  Then through a small field again and another climb, then a quick down, then another climb, and a lot more of that (climb/turn/quick down/climb etc).  Much more time spent climbing than descending.  The last climb of the lap is a rock-face single track that is really cool. Then a big field at the top where you can get megaspeed going, then you have to scrub said megaspeed quickly as it dives back down into singletrack DH through the woods – lots of roots.  Couple little techy sections at the bottom of that hill, including an easy log obstacle, and you’re spilled back out into the field for another lap.  For s/s I would not run a gear bigger than 34/20, and may even go smaller because  I’d say only 5% of the course is flat.  Even the field at the top points downward.  If I race this next year, I’ll probably go 34/22. 


  1. Well done, Finn. Keep representing. Great to see all of your hard work and dedication to the sport paying off.