Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Quest for the cup continues, US Cup East #8!

US Cup East #8 took us to Woolwine, VA. This is an awesome course which makes me homesick, as it is similar to trails back in MI. It has some great technical singletrack and some demanding climbs with sections of speed to top it off.

This course is almost a "home course" for me as it is just a 1hr drive to the venue. I know the trails pretty well, mainly due to a 6hr race last fall. However, most of the course for this race would be in the opposite direction. So, to further prepare I took a couple of drives up for some pre-riding of the course ahead of time and managed to get in a solid 5 laps with the last being Saturday afternoon just before Sunday's race. The course was in good condition and had dried-out some since the previous trip 6 days earlier, but it still had slick portions which were mostly in corners and on the climbs. Saturday night brought more rain, but the course builder/team member/race organizer, Eric O'Connell, rode it early Sunday morning and assured us it did not get any worse.

The race had a somewhat low attendance, which was a shame due to being such a great course. I would say my favorite to this point in the US Cup East series! At the start line I noticed a few missing faces, but also a few new to the series who I recently raced in the Bedford, VA race. The start went as planned and the hole-shot was a breeze. Riding the 34/18 due to the slick trails had me curious what the others would be running. Well, my huge lead dwindled as I struggled to control the power to the rear wheel as it kept wanting to break loose and spin as we climbed up the first 2 miles of the course. Just as I was about the crest the final climb I spun almost coming to a stop as I was almost doing a track-stand as a result. This cause the rider who had bridged-up to rub my back wheel, and while doing so yelled my name out loud! I chuckled inside, mostly because knowing him from the previous race there was no way he would be able to hang once I cleared the climb. With that I hammered across the false-flat through a section of singletrack to start a switchback descent. Within seconds I opened a gap, and by the time I came around the 1st half of the course to the flyover bridge we went under entering the trail at the start of the lap I was out of sight of the competition. From that point on it was just mind over matter when it came to slick climbs, and skills when bombing the descents and rocks. The hardest part was the heat and humidity topped-off with no air movement in the trails. The jersey came unzipped after the first climb, and before going over the flyover bridge I had tossed my sweat splattered glasses to Julie. Finishing the race I had just over a 5min gap claiming my 4th win of the series. Next up, race#9 in Fort Payne, AL...I've been waiting for this one since race#1 when I was told about how rocky-technical it was....see ya there!!

Training "fun" race: Fat Tire Frenzy - VORS XC race in Bedford, VA

Training can be FUN! Finally getting my Blogger updated after a couple of events...sorry for the delay!

Back on June 16th I chose to join a friend, Gabor, for a trip up to Bedford, VA for a VORS race called the Fat Tire Frenzy. I heard it was a fun trail and would be great for training, and a bonus of cash pay-out to the SS class. That's all it took to convince me to attend, as I knew that barring any mechanicals I would most-likely be in the running to get my entry/travel fees back with a good finish.

Gabor picked me up in the early morning and we hit the road without delay...Then it hit me, I left my large cup of my routine oatmeal pre-race meal sitting on my wife's vehicle in the garage!! We were already 20mins away, so I called and asked her to place it in the fridge for later. We then came upon a McD's where I purchased 2 of their oatmeal cups. We then continued on and had an uneventful drive until we had difficulty finding the event venue due to the GPS directions. It placed us at a recycling collection site where we drove past the collection area up a 2-track to the top of a hill in a field that was empty except for 1 truck and a tractor on a flatbed. LOL We then found a gentleman who was able to get us headed in the right direction.

Finally on-site we went directly to registration. Our entry fee was just $25, and this is where the Maxxis Southern Classics promoters need to take note! The entry fee included a nice laminated number plate, post race food/drinks, raffle ticket, and a athletic event labeled t-shirt!! The 2 of us laughed about this on our way back to the vehicle to continue prepping for the race start which was just 30mins away. This is when I discovered I forgot my riding gloves and my GU gels! I laughed with Gabor stating that it was not a big deal since I race SS, but also that I was just a complete mess due to having a race on a Saturday morning instead of the normal Sunday morning routine. At this point I was just hoping to have a good race and some fun.

At the start it another surprise was thrown at me...It would be a mass start for all CAT1/Pro/SS classes male/female. This was actually AWESOME!!! I was now excited! I've always been able to take the hole-shot at the starts regardless of competition; however, this start did have a nasty long section of grass field to the entrance of the single track. I quickly grabbed the spot I had eyed for the start on the line and was lined-up to my team mate Eric O'Connell. This would be a great start, I thought to myself, with a team mate at my side! As the race started I sprinted to be 1st to the 1st left 180deg corner. I then sprinted out of that corner to get to a high cadence...I had a slight gap, but the field was beginning to close-in. As the course bent left for a long sweeping turn it dropped then started a climb. It wasn't until the crest of that climb that we finally left the grass field and popped-up onto a paved cart path which was about 50yds in length. Just before reaching this pavement a geared rider attacked and I was unable to hold him off. As we hit the pavement he clicked through his gears and opened a slight gap. Luckilly I was able to hang and hold-off the remaining racers breathing on my back wheel. As we snaked through a few technical areas I left a slight gap so as to not have the geared rider in-front of me mess-up my flow. Eventually a couple of riders came by, to include Eric. Jumping on his wheel I hung on to my position, now in 4th. Then as we entered a series of switchbacks a young rider began stating he wanted to pass. I told him to find a place and call it, that I would not slow or move off trail for him. Soon after he decided to make his move, but it was an illegal one, as he cut accross a switchback to jump up 2 positions in the tight single track! We quickly started calling him out for his move worthy of a DQ. Then he and the couple ahead of Eric and I got out of sight.

Looking back we now had a good gap, and as we entered a long flat of open 2-track Eric called me to the front for a pull. As we re-entered the single track it was an immediate steep short switchback climb which was slightly technical. As I crested the climb I now had a gap on Eric. I continued to push on as the course now was very undulating requiring me to keep the power and flow going. Suddenly a large jolt and crack rang out as I smashed my pedal on a rock. I shook it off, but shortly after that I had at some point unclipped my right foot in a section and upon re-engaging my pedal did not realize I had broken it. On an ensuing steep power climb my foot pulled straight out of the pedal which had me driving my right knee into my stem! I quickly stopped and looked at my shoe not knowing what had caused the shoe to disengage. Then coming through that same section on Lap#2 it happened again! This time I noticed what had happened and made sure to rotate the pedal to get a good side.

Half way through lap#3, the final 8+mi lap, I was in the midst of passing numerous lap riders when I caught the young Cannondale rider who cut the course on lap#1. I heckled him for at least a mile until I finally found a passing opportunity and dropped him as I heckled him more! LOL I finished the race and found that I was 7mins ahead of 2nd place in my class and 3rd overall on the day for Expert/Pro! Wow, I was spent! Then during the closing awards I earned $80 for 1st in SS and to top it off my ticket# was drawn and I won another $60+ floor pump! Great day of training if I may say so! :)

Huge kudos to the race promoter for the VORS and the park for a great event! I'll be likely to go back again in the future!