Sunday, June 14, 2009

I think is best to write race reports right after the race. As time passes, details are forgotten. Here is the deal with Iron Hill. I went out hard, I pulled away from most of the others pretty easily. I rode tempo a bit when I should have been going harder, I held off the 4th place rider in the hardest part of the course only to let him pass in an easier section, let him get away, realized what was happening, and then took chase and gained a lot of ground between us, but not enough to pass him or even to catch him. I let him escape for about 20 seconds and pulled 12 of those back in the last 1/4 mile. I am pretty sure I could have taken the sprint if I was just smart enough to stay on his wheel when he went by. Push off the podium by the same rider who pushed me off the podium at Granogue.

Tour De Tykes

I was disappointed to be the only Allied Milk rider at this race, other than Seth who did not race but provided moral support out in the woods. Race started on a very long climb and I managed to blow myself up before the top, sat in, and took about two miles to recover. Once I got moving like I knew I could, the course started going downhill and I was left to just ride the brakes on the steep, loose terrain. It went this way until the second loop of the course. I saw fellow rider and friend Mark Sanford up the trail, so I took chase. We were climbing a long climb and it appeared he was in granny (I later found out his shifter cable broke and all he had was granny, although on this course, one could get by with just the little chainring). So I worked my way though a couple riders and got on Mark's wheel. He immediately offered me the chance to pass, but I told him it was me and that I would not pass until I earned it. He let me by anyway and I thanked him. I worked hard to put a gap between us and shortly came up on Tom Snook. I played the same game, passing the riders between us, was offered the chance to pass, and identified myself and told him I would earn the pass. He agreed. I was able to pass him shortly after that, and worked to put a large gap between us, not large enough as I would find out later on. At this point, I was riding pretty good and other riders were falling off the pace. I saw another "V1" on a calf and made chase. We were in the last mile or two of the course and I really tried, but was unable to pass this last rider. I would get close and he would pull away. An Expert rider was between us (they started before us and rode a longer loop). The Expert rider would bobble and allow the V1 Sport rider (another BikeLine rider named Chris Doocey) to gap me. The last 1/2 mile of the course was cruel. The course would head downhill and you would think you were done, then it would turn right back up the mountain. It did this at least four times. I kept my eye on the Bike Line rider (Chris) and would watch as Tom Snook was behind me, but not able to pass me.

We finally came out on the road and I sprinted for all I was worth to the finish line. I should have sprinted a little more, 2 second faster to be exact. You see, the race used a timing mat at the beginning and at the end. Remember in American Flyers when the Russian, David, and 7 Eleven guy were racing along and 7 Eleven guy said "You are in front of me, but I am 10 seconds in front of you?". It was the same with Tom Snook. He had a 10 second cushion on me, because he rolled over the timing mat 10 seconds behind me at the start. Even though I gapped him and fought hard to stay in front, he was awarded the 5th place finish because it took him 2 seconds less to cover the course. There was so many places I could have pulled back those 2 seconds, but I had no idea. Rich Bilson finished on the podium about two minutes up on me, but I do not even think he hung around to get his medal and prize.

The climbs in this race, combined with conversations with Nathan Diebert had me thinking a 26 is a good choice for certain courses. I "think" I would have climbed better with the smaller wheel and the course was technical, but not that technical that I would have needed the 29er. The flatter rolling courses are where 29er is king (not to mention the rocky venues too), but 26 climbs better than a 29er when one is in granny and the course offers 180 degree turns followed by more granny climbs. I was definately taking inventory of my parts after this race, seeing if I had enough to put together a race worthy 26 from the parts I have in the basement. I think I am pretty close.

So even though I have failed to earn one this season, I am still in the game for a podium shot. The guy who keeps me off the podium, Chris Y from D and Q? He finished up in 2nd place at TdT - good for him. I knew he was serious when I was getting dressed and he was warming up on his trainer with his road bike.

I am looking forward to the next races in July. That allows me a good training period to get ready for the races and I have a plan in place. Hopefully by the end of July, I will have the chance to stand on a MASS podium. Racing has been good to me this year and I have some really good finishes, just not quite what I am looking for. Season is not even half over yet though and there are plenty of opportunites for improvement.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Iron Hill - -- Arrgh$&^@#&*^

Like the name of this blog, I have spent the entire year chasing the podium and while I have failed 100% of the time to get up on the box, 75% of the time I finished up just below the podium, missing it by one place and at Iron Hill, by 10 seconds. To make matters worse (or perhaps to fuel the training fire more), I was the podium presenter at two of these events. It was bitter sweet to be standing behind the podium as the top three in my class stood on the podium.

As I was leaving my house, the skys opened and rain began to pour. YES! I love the days with rough conditions as I think it brings out the true mountain bike racer. Muddy courses require fitness, bike handling skills, and a good mindset. Technical courses like Iron Hill even more so.

Arrived on site and helped the promotors with registration. They decided to take a different route with the timing chips and I think the Sport lines may have been a little longer than those at Granogue. The timing guy is new this year and we are all learning. Here is a message to other promotors using the time. Split up your chips by beginner, sport, and expert so that you do not have to sort through hundreds of chips at a time.

Mark Sanford and I went out on a little pre-ride to scout out tissue hill and slime hill. Tissue hill went straight up the hill this year (down by the parking lot) and the angles were a little different. On to slime hill to see if it would be ridable. It was not, but we talked about where to run up (left or right). Left was King here. We got to see some 8 year old boy become totally frustrated here, falling down over and over again. He started to cry a little bit, then Mark picked his bike up and got him up the hill. It was a very nice move on Mark's part as the boy stopped crying and started racing his bike again.

The race start was not too fast and furious. I think all of us in Vet 1 are content with a cival starting pace, at least everywhere except Fair Hill and I can thank myself for that start. Chris Arterburn was leading us once we got into the woods, followed by Damon, Paul, Me, and Mark Sanford. Poor Chris went down on the first wooden bridge and his wreck was not bad, but he was on the right side of the bridge and his bike was on the left, so he had to wait to get back to his bike. Order was now Damon, Paul, Me, Mark. Paul was the next to go down, so order was Damon, me, Mark, Paul recovered and came around to make it Damon, Paul, Me, Mark. I let Mark by and the four of us just pulled away from everyone else. I fell off the pace, but passed Mark on Boneshaker as he crashed hard and was pretty shaken.

I remained in third from Boneshaker until almost the end of the race. Riding along, passing lots of folks from other classes, feeling the build-up in my legs, but feeling pretty fresh the entire time and attacking sections of the course. I was a little surprised at how easy it felt, but my legs were telling me we were putting out some efforts.