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Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 Hampshire 100k

At the racer's meeting Saturday eve we were told about some notable course changes.
1. Railroad section wasn't included and there would be more road riding to start and some new single track- including a new climb. 
2. There has been lots of logging in the area and this has pushed them to build nearly 10 miles of new single track.  
3. They received 6+" of rain on Thursday and the forecast is for showers tonight and showers tomorrow morning.  

After pre-riding the start/finish area of the course and checking out some of the dirt roads I knew this was going to be pretty sloppy but considering all the muddy races we had this Spring I figured this could be a positive for me.  

In the tent shortly after sunset and trying to get some rest. I never sleep before a big event- whether its for work, fun, or family- I just can't.  My mind raced the course a few times and I fell into some dream world while I was still partially awake.  By midnight the rain started and our tent sounded like a huge drum.  Ugh.  Sometime around 2 or 3am the rain stopped.  

I woke at 5am and ate some breakfast and got ready to race.  At 5:30am or so the 100k runners took off in the pre-dawn darkness.  "Damn, I'm glad I'm not running this.".  

By 630am I was lined up in what I thought was my category but it was totally unorganized.  My plan was to go easy'ish for the first 40 miles and then begin to hammer.  This didn't completely happen.  

At the start I paced with nearby riders, turns out even slow racers are fast at the start of a race .  For the first 5 miles we kept an average pace of 19mph.  When we hit the single track I figured I was in a good position…. boy was I wrong. 

After a bit of rolling trail we hit the new climb and everyone was slogging up this fall line mud hill.  After that some more rolling single track with a few mud pit crossings I realized these folks around me can't ride this stuff and they were causing me to use more energy than I needed to.  I decided to abort my plan of going easy and started to blast through this group. It wasn't until mile 15 or so that I got through them and this cost me a lot of time and energy.  

On the sandy bike path section "the beach" I grabbed the wheel of a fast rider and pace lined with him and one other racer.  We rode that section averaging 18mph and hitting speeds up to 27.5 mph.  It was awesome.  I was hopping I didn't burn a match here too early but I knew I needed to play catch-up from that lame starting group if I wanted to finish with good results.  

After the beach we hit Hedgehog Hill. I rode the start and then quickly started walking.  At this point I got really confused about who I was riding with and the guy that I was pace lining with seemed to have completely disappeared.  It was so odd.  After Hedgehog we had the Powerline CLimb I walked most of it and only rode the top.  Saving my matches.  

Mile 25 was an Aid stop for me and Katie was there with a new bottle of perpetum and a big smile.  I felt good and she told me I had made up a huge gap form A1. Awesome.  I felt strong and made it through there in less than a minute.  

The next 20 miles or so consisted of some fast bombed out dirt roads.  Adventure single track (like you could barely see the trail….was there even a trail??) and mud pits.  There was one section that had some cool built up rock stuff but I have no clue where that was.  There were long sections of hike a bike through mud pits and lots of angry riders who were suffering.  I rode away from the angry ones and chatted with the funny ones, just riding an endurance pace as I planned my attack for mile 40.  

Totally in the zone I forgot to attack at mile 40.  I remembered somewhere near mile 50.  Ok, better late then never.  time to turn it on.  From here I had one more big climb and then some fast dirt to flowy single track. 

As soon as I started descending the last big climb I went as hard as I sustainable could.  I had a twitch of cramps but they went away.  I attacked and attacked every rider I saw.  I probably passed 20 or so riders in that last 10 miles.  

At the finish I sprinted with all I had and accomplished my goal to finish in sub 7 hours.  My finish time was 6 hours 49 minutes.  This put me in 3rd place overall for the Cat 2 Category and in 2nd place for my age group!  Awesome!  It turns out the first place guy only had a 20 second gap on me!  DOH! if only I had known…..  

This will be my largest race/training ride leading up to the Shenandoah 100.  I feel confident after this race that I will do well but I think I need to revisit my race strategy and avoid what happened to me at the start of this race.  Overall, my bike, body, and nutrition worked excellent.    

Dirtwire highlights: 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Root 66 #12 Windham Race the World- World Cup

Last minute I decided to race up in Windham.  Its a World Cup event and I was curious to see what goes on at these kinds of events.  I figured it would be pretty hectic and it was.

Drove north in the morning with my Dad and arrived in Windham 90 minutes before the 11am start.  The course boasts 700' of climbing in 3.2 miles.  It basically consists of a climb and a descent.  It was a beautiful day but got hot.

My warm-up was pretty good, however I was feeling the efforts from another high volume week and felt tired on my sprints.  This isn't good.  I warmed up with Sean for 15 minutes or so and he told me this would be his last race of the series. We've been battling for points and he is my closest competitor, with him out, I've won the series.  Although I'm very excited about this, its been fun chatting and racing with Sean.

Like most all my races I was late for the start.  I battled to get near the front but nobody let me up there.  Most of these racers were from NY.  I only knew Sean and Hugo.  The start was under the full UCI boards and the Jumbo-tron was blasting above us.  It was pretty cool.  Folks were pounding the side boards, blowing horns, and shaking bells.  It felt good and got the racers psyched to blast off.

I started in the 3rd row out of 20+ racers.  The pace was slow and as I tried to pass these riders one of them cut me off and we locked bars.  I almost slammed into the side walls and went down but I recovered. Unfortunately this put me towards the end of this large field.

The climbing was steep and in full sun.  Most of it was on jeep roads.  The single track was small ribbons of incipient forest between ski runs and nothing unique.  The downhill was fast and steep.  Nothing technical but the overall speed made it serious.  By the lap point I had recovered into 8th or 9th place.

At this point I realized my best opportunity is to fall into my "endurance" pace and attack at the end of the  race when people are really hurting.  I managed to keep this pace and not loose any positions for my 2nd lap.

On my 3rd lap I found myself riding behind Hugo.  I decided that I would attack the group on the final steep climb.  I attacked and passed a lot of riders, there were also a lot of lap traffic at this point and I didn't recognize anyone.

I rode fast on the descent and made a few more final passes and then went full sprint for the finish.

Overall I finished 5th place out of 23, which is my worst performance this season.  However, I am happy with this outcome considering my horrible start and a shift in my priorities for racing (xc to endurance).  I'm happy I was able to create a strategy when things fell apart and weren't going my way during lap 2 and finish in a better position.  This race definitely taught me a few things.