Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Treasure Valley Rally 2012 leftovers, and strava geekage

I just figured out why some people take a few days to write race reports.  While the details of the race may get fuzzy as the days go by, the big-picture perspective comes more into view.

Yeah, I had a crappy day - some days you're the dog, some days you're the hydrant - it was a hydrant day for me for sure.  But there was still some fun had.

Anyhow, some things I didn't mention in my report which were cool/interesting.
> Richard Pirro (Cat1 40-49 winner) passed me during lap 1 and I latched on for as long as I could (meaning I watched him easily pull away).  He made the course look much flatter than it was for me.  I don't know how much he won by (and am too lazy to look right now), but he had a big lead at that point and it was still very early in the race.
> Some other dude in a red shirt, I'm guessing in Rich's class, passed me during lap 2 and proceeded to destroy a technical section.  The rocks were begging him for mercy (but then the rocks went back to mocking laughter as I approached). I caught ol' redshirt on a climb and went past him and ended up with a pretty big gap at the top of the hill.  It took him no time at all to make up that gap on the next rocky down and when he went by me again, he LAUNCHED a log, flew right into a nasty section of rocks and rode it out like Steve friggin Peat. He even put a little style into his jump. That was the highlight of my whole race. Well done whoever you are.  It wasn't too long after that that I broke my saddle, which was too bad as a climb was coming up and I may have been able to catch him again and then witness another awesome show as he slayed the next technical section.
> The bee's nest thing was insane. I was climbing the overlooking hill as the shiznit was going on down on the ridge below.  There was panic down there I tell ya, shouts of pain. I felt bad for the people who got caught in it.  I've been stung on rides and it hurts more than it seems like it should.

I was pretty down on TVR earlier in the week as it was just too technical for my liking, but I'm coming around. While perhaps I do better on hilly and flat courses, improving my technical riding skills will only help.  And it's an easy ride from my folks' house.  We'll see about next year...

Anyway, on to more bike geekage of the Stravariety...

I'm new to the wonderful world of Strava.  I was exploring the segments around the mid-Cape area the other day and realized that there was a 6.2 mile segment in the woods across from where I work.  So a lunching I would go.  I rode the niner one9 today.  I'll try gears next time to see which is faster.  I'm guessing the singlespeed as Willow St is super-single-speed-friendly.

Strava is awesome -- it's like a fast virtual group ride (and as we know, all group rides are actually races).

A note on Willow St: There's a bit more in there than is on the Strava loop, and it flows well both ways, so it's great to do twice in different directions.  Plus the Boy Scout trails diagonally across Willow add another awesome 5 miles or so.  So it's pretty easy to get in 18 or so fun miles.. (just in case you think the 6.2 mile loop wouldn't be worth the trip -- it definitely is if you're on Cape for vacation or just a weekender).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Race Report: Treasure Valley Rally 2012

I feel like my training has been paying off and I've been feeling pretty fast the past few weeks, so I was looking forward to seeing how that would translate into the very rocky woods of Treasure Valley.

Cue the excuses...

Got a poor night's sleep on a 4'x4' futon pad with my 3-yr-old sprawled out beside me.
I forced down half a bowl of instant oatmeal for breakfast - how can anyone eat that crap?  Should have brought my own breakfast to my parents' house.
And I didn't leave enough time for a proper warmup.

So poor, tired me and my already tight lower back lined up with a decent-sized single speed field for two laps on a fairly brutal course.  I fell back pretty quickly, then passed some guys on the climb, got passed again in the rough stuff, passed a couple more guys on another climb.  I had no idea where I was, how I was doing or anything -- all I knew is that my lower back was screaming at me.

I tried 'yoga breathing' - sending my breath to the muscles - and that helped until the next technical section, which was never far away.  Instead of yoga breathing, I think I might try actually DOING some yoga.

Anyway, I was hurting and came into the start/finish area dreading a second lap.  Then I heard my time: 1:01.   Really?  Last year's winner had a time of 2:05.  Huh.  I knew there were guys in my class in front of me, but maybe I have a chance of catching them...

That gave me a little bit of energy and I decided to try to ride out the stiff back.  I started attacking the technical sections with more abandon and powering out of turns and up over kicker hills like a proper single speeder.  I was starting to feel pretty good about my riding even though my back was still screaming.  

I had one technical section to go before the course's real big climb - and I was literally on the last rock of said technical section when I heard a SNAP!  Given that I was suddenly riding on one butt cheek, I knew that I had broken my saddle.  

I stopped to try to figure out what I should do. Ride on and risk it?  Or bail?  I've ridden broken saddles out of the woods before, but not on a technical course like this. Nevertheless, I decided to go for it.  I knew that what remained was the big hill, then the technical woods for a while, then the smoother stuff nearing the end. I hopped back on the bike, determined, and started pedaling.  I got about 50 yards, hit a little technical section and my butt hit the saddle and I slipped down-and-to-the-left and my back screamed and I thought "are you frickin crazy?"

I turned back around, found the quick route back to the start/finish and, for the first time ever in a race, took a DNF (Did Not Finish).  I wasn't the only DNF with a broken saddle, and there were various other DNFs with mechanical problems and even some of the unlucky few who were stung by a rabidly disturbed nest of bees.

Clearly not a great race for me.  I do wonder what would have happened had I not broken my seat - I would have been pretty close to a podium spot, I think, but who knows.

I don't think I'll do this race again.  I enjoy riding technical terrain, but racing it is another story.  And since there's so little similar technical terrain here on Cape, it's near impossible to train for it. Lesson learned = more yoga, less Treasure Valley Rally.

On the bright side, teammate Tim won his Cat2 class AND won the overall Cat2.  Some dude came up to us after the race and was grilling Tim a bit because he figured Tim must have cheated or something because he won Cat2 by 5 minutes. No, dude, he's just that fast (and yes, he's upgrading).

Also, wife Kristy ran 5 miles while I was at the race.  Killer.  She seems to be a natural at the old running thing.

So between me and Tim and Kristy, 2 out of 3 of us had awesome days.  Nothing wrong with that!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Make the best of what's around

I generally commute to work on my bike except on the two days Jude has day care.  My commute route is a little over 3 miles at its shortest (road + woods), but with three different trail areas at my disposal along the way, I can extend it out to 20+ miles.  I usually ride the 5 mile route, 1.5 on roads and the remainder on trails through Greenough boy scout camp.  Then I do an interval or hill workout at lunch, either in Willow (intervals) or Greenough (hills).  Then ride the 5 mile route back home.  It's nice to have Willow, Greenough, and the more technical Weir Rd trails all so close by to home and work.
Greenough is beautiful and smooth single track with short-and-steep hills that have proven to be good hill training for me when repeated many times....

Here's the first hill -- it's a two-parter with the first part being a quite steep and rooty washout... .

and the second part smooth and steep...

I have a tough training ride with teammate Tim tomorrow at TOT/Sandwich, so I took it easy on the geared mtb on the way into work this morning.  A nice tempo ride down to Gray's beach and down the hidden trail to this special spot on Lonetree Creek...

This is looking west with the marsh of Lonetree Creek, Barnstable Harbour, Sandy Neck, Cape Cod Bay, and the Sagamore Bridge all in view.  Great way to start the day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

First Strava Ride

Rode from the abode to the Weir Rd trails near my house.

Was trying to get 2 hours in with some climbs in prep for the next race I plan to do, EFTA's Treasure Valley Rally. Not easy to simulate off-Cape climbs here on the Cod, but I managed to come real close to TVR's distance and total elevation. No hope of simulating TVR's pointy rock gardens around here though.

Here 'tis (hope this works):

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hodges Village Dam Race Report, MA State Championships

Raced down the hot and dusty trails of Hodges Village Dam in Oxford on Sunday.  Cool venue, well organized.

Never raced here before and heard good things about the course.  Seems the race is either an annual mudfest or dustfest, this year's edition being the latter.  Heat/humidity also a big factor Sunday.

Lined up with a strong field of twelve Cat1 single speeders, including a bunch of guys I didn't know, but who all looked strong.

Whistle and we're off for 4 laps.  Fast start up a gravel road for a bit, then into a wide single track. I was in about 7th or 8th heading into the single track. This section had a rocky start and then flowed into a dusty roller coaster of a trail that was really fun.  Unfortunately, my place near the back of the single speed train meant that I was being sprayed with dust and fighting to see the trail through it.

Got out to another gravel road in about 9th.   I think either guys were conserving themselves because of the heat or they were geared easier than my 32x18 because I passed a bunch at that point.  I got a gap into the long, rooty section of the trail, and then started to feel like I was overheating.  Bike racing seems to be about riding to a level of exertion you can't sustain, and then dialing back incrementally until you find your maximum sustainable level.  I was considerably over my level given the heat and had to dial it way back.

I got through the smoother/later sections of the lap and into the start/finish again and took extra water on board.  Headed back up the gravelly road and passed geared teammate Lucas and he tucked in behind me.  Then Gerry Lafleur from my class tucked in behind Lucas.  I was determined NOT to be behind anyone going into the dusty trail, so I hit the gas hard to pass a couple guys before we headed into the woods again.  It worked visibility-wise, but the burst of energy took even more out of me and I soon started getting chills, which I know is not a good sign when it's 90' out. I dialed back my effort again and drank a lot and hoped that would help.

Gerry caught back up in the technical sections (joking that he got there by cutting the course and taking a ride from a 4-wheeler) and he sat in for a while.  I had no idea where we were place-wise, but he figured we were either 1-2 or 2-3, which I was kinda shocked at.  We were both conserving and chatting, and it started feeling more like a ride than a race -- I wondered if one of the faster guys in our class like Royce Yeomans would soon catch us.

Gerry's stronger in the tech stuff than me and he eventually passed me.  He didn't attack, though, so I was able to tuck behind him on the straight and smoother sections.  I started feeling better and  wondered if maybe I was catching a bit of a second wind.

I figured the only way I was going to beat Gerry was if I pushed the pace in the less technical sections.  So I passed him once the trail smoothed a bit and and got a small gap.  I was feeling well enough to stay on the gas for a while and about halfway through lap 4, a geared rider I passed informed me that I was in 2nd.  I rode hard all the way to the finish but never caught sight of 1st.  I got 2nd, with Gerry a couple minutes behind in 3rd.  Andrew Lysaght won with a time over 4 minutes faster than me.

As we waited for our class to be called for our medals and prizes (nifty little tool kit with bike brush, and a t-shirt), Andrew and Gerry and I shot the shit about the race, how it went for each of us, our thoughts on gearing, etc.  Twas a fun bike-geek chat with a couple great guys, capping off a great day overall.

Thanks for reading.