Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012 Wilderness 101

This year’s 101 used the same updated course as the 2011 race. Temps were not too hot, but the humidity was very high. I was drenched all day with an unpleasant amount of perspiration as my body attempted to get some evaporative cooling. Rain showers were a constant threat, but the weather held out for me until the last few miles.

W101 - Quick Stats for Plassman

Time: 8:44
Hydro: 12 bottles consumed - about 2.1 gallons
Fuel: 9 scoops of magic go power, 1 cliff block pack, 2 gels, 10ozs coke
Electrolytes: 1 gel flask of pickle juice and about 12 enduralyte capsules
Crashes: 1 (silly fall on small rock)
Mechanicals: 0
Cramping: minimal
Tunnels: 2
Curses lobbed at Panther Run Jeep Trail: 10+ F-bombs
Equestrians encountered: 2
Little girls scared: 2 (not on purpose)

Ride the lightning

In a pre-race email, there was mention of the last section of rail to trail having been marked off with “no trespassing" signs as well as being blocked by some felled trees and such. The email also mentioned that the owner of this property would help make it clear for registered racers only.

My team mates and I ran into the owner while we pre-rode the final section of rail to trail and the last rock filled train tunnel. He was a serious looking man surrounded by serious tools and equipment. We probably looked silly to him in our race clothes as he worked to collect the freshly slaughtered remnants of the trail blockade. We asked if we could lend a hand. He gazed at us in a solemn, serious stare and paused slightly, almost dramatically, and said: “Shouldn’t you be worried about the lightning?”

It was such a sublime and effective statement that we all just basically said thanks and proceeded to turn around and ride back though the tunnel. Then, as if on queue from the property owner himself, a loud crack of thunder rang out and the wind kicked up ominously. We finished our pre-ride in a tempest brought on by a pop up thunderstorm. We all now had wet shoes for race morning.

Race Day

I was finally able to get a good night’s sleep before race day. I suspect that it was due in part to getting a lift to the race and not having to drive. The cold I had sensed developing in my sinuses was still present, but had not made it into my throat or lungs.

A sleepy and damp morning greeted us all with a thin fog. The race's road sections were a good start and I found a few pace-lines to settle in and knock out much of the early gravel. Soon, I got to enjoy the first real single track section and had a lot of fun dicing up the rock infested single track and fern lined trails. There was nice flow on this section and I did my best to look cool for Bob Popovich who is always on hand to make us look good in his photos. Unfortunately, my GoPro got fogged up a bunch due to the humidity, and I did not get a lot of usable footage.

The rest of the race went well. I tried out my pickle juice flask at aid #2 as my legs threatened to cramp. After aid #3 I got a good position into the single track and rode most of it in loc step with a single speeder who possessed good technical skills. During the rest of the technical sections I was able to make a lot of passes and regained many of the positions I gave up on the climb to aid #3. By the time I got to aid #4 I was rallying out of the slump of exhaustion that usually hits me between miles 40-50ish. Lots of technical rocky sections re-affirmed my love for my Anthem X 29er and stiff I-9 wheel set.

After getting completely rattled by the near cobblestone jeep trail called “Panther Run”, I passed aid #5 and got on the gas heading into the rails to trail sections. There are 2 tunnels in this race and the first tunnel is always long, absurdly dark, and super spooky to ride because all you can see in the middle is the tombstone of light at the other end… This time it was also full of people and 2 way traffic! Fortunately, someone had LED lights and lit the tunnel up. That was awesome! Next year I will bring a small light for sure.

I caught up with my friend James Burris, and another rider I’ve met before, and we rode a nice pace line to the final climb where I got off the back by just about 15 seconds. I was able to reel them back in on the last descent.  Then I pulled a small gap as I rode out the last 25% of the super rocky “Fisherman’s Path” while the rain set in. A missed turn on the rail/trail cost me about 1 minute and I had to charge hard to try and catch James. In the last half mile of road, I looked back to see another rider working very hard to chase me down. I churned hard in my biggest gear combo to fend him off. Luckily, I managed to keep a small 2 second gap rolling into the finish with a time of 8:44

Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 Mohican 100

The 2012 Mohican started early as usual about 5:15 am. I was glad to be well rested from a good night’s sleep that normally eludes me the night before a hundred. The weather looked good and I got ready to race. As my Design Physics Racing teammates and I got ready to roll, David got some interesting news on his batphone... there was a race story contest for the Cohutta 100 that I had entered. Turns out I got second place and won a cool hitch rack. The top 3 stories, including my "Cohutta Remixed" story are posted online: http://www.trailheadoutdoors.org/newsevents/

Rolling into downtown Loudonville, it seemed we were almost late and lined up on the sideline near the front of the huge gathering preparing to ride out of town. Churning up the hill leading to the city limits was tough but I was pleased to be holding the wheel of my nearby competitors.

I entered the woods in a good position and began the 1st part of the race through the Mohican forest single-track. I found myself surrounded by single speed riders and enjoyed the steady and quick pace we were rolling. I was regretting not having my clear lenses on my riding glasses. The woods were pretty dark in the tinted lenses and it made picking out the troublesome parallel roots strewn about the course a real challenge.

I skipped the 1st aid station and spent the remaining single track holding my position and focusing on smooth riding to keep my lead on the rider I could hear negotiating the trail a few turns behind me. Soon there was a ripping section that ended in hard left and a serious wall of washed out fall line trail. After hiking up this monster, I rode through the horse trail sections of the race, thankful that it was not a soaked as the last time I rode here in 2010.

Finally the trail gave way to road and gravel and it was a nice relief so I tried to drain my last bottle and realized that this freebie bottle I got at some race was terrible, I could barely get anything out!

After a bit I passed under a ranch style entrance to a farm and soon was at aid 2. Volunteers hooked me up and I was on my way in a flash. Next there was some fun double track that connected back to the country roads. At one point I passed a sign for a castle, odd. Back on the open road there were some strong winds and a steep gravel climb just after a farm had some strong smells to boot.

The single track just before aid 3 was a lot of fun, but tough because my legs were shot. I enjoyed some of the short techy bits that took my mind off pedaling. There are two hills in that single track section and I remembered from previous racing here that you see aid 3 only to plunge back into the woods for one more section of trails. At least aid three had cold coke and great volunteers. Then, just after aid 3 there is a green monster of a climb. It was not as bad as it looked, but the singe track afterwards was more up than down.

Back on rolling road and gravel, my legs were shot. Some friends catch up to me and I tell them I am “in the pain cave”. I rolled with them for a bit and climbed up and rode along a park that had Frisbee golf and horse stables. It was followed by some very nice single track rolling out to the road. After passing large barn with “chew mail pouch tobacco” painted on it, I got started on the long rails to trail passage. I came across a strange wedding group on the bridge, and kept on rolling. My knees started to hurt bad and I battled this problem until I finally popped back out into a small town and aid 4 where I scored some Motrin.

Following some single track there was a long suspension bridge that was a bit scary to tide across. Later, while rolling along the Mohican river I saw white water rafters and I knew I was getting close.

Finally I popped back out on the road and back into the state park. It was time to get busy and enjoy the last section of single track. The trails re-invigorated me and I gained a position motoring through the trail. I was surprised to take a left turn into the Mohican campground and I knew I was so close.  I weaved through the campsites and rode the last bit of downhill and crossed through the RV park to the last 1/2 mile or so of paved access road. I looked back just in time to see the racer I had gapped in the single track making an attack, I had a pretty solid lead on him but shifted in afterburner just in case. There was a big crowd on bleachers and I pulled a nose wheelie as I crossed the finish and was surprised to be handed a growler, instead of a pint glass. Sweet! Then I saw more friends and soon hear the cheer of "Assman!!"

I had a tough day of racing and really fought through the pain on the rails to trail, but in the end, it is always worth it. I was pretty happy with my finish time of 8:48, almost 2 hours faster than my previous best here at Mohican.
I also made a video from my GoPro footage:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 Urban Assault bike race

Great race action this weekend at the 2012 Urban Assault bike race here in Richmond, VA. This was my 2nd time racing in the expert class for a local XC event, and I really enjoyed the ride and the fast pace. It's nice not to have to work your way through the waves of people that have started before you. This has often been the case while racing in the sport class. However, the flip side is that you don't feel quite as fast because you are not passing people often.

The weather was excellent and the trails were dry, dusty, and super fast! I enjoyed the way the race course started this year. Winding around Bell Isle parking lot kept things interesting and the long dirt road section evenly paced riders out.

Overall the race went well for me, with the exception of a high speed crash in Forest Hill. I clipped my right foot on a root or rock or something and was immediately ejected with extreme prejudice! I estimate the incident cost me about 40 seconds and I've got some new body art and sore ribs, courtesy of the trail. I'm just glad I was not seriously hurt.

The remainder of the race continued without a hitch and at a blistering pace. Jeff Lenowsky was racing in the expert class and at one point was nipping at my heals. I had to work hard to fend him off and finally pulled a decent gap. It was cool to race with such a well known and accomplished rider. 

I've put together a short video of the race I created from my GoPro footage.
Check it out, and if you like this kind of video action, make sure to follow my blog for more upcomming races!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cohutta 100 Pre-ride

I'ts been a while since I have posted, but I'll make up for it ith some sweet videos...

First off is a pre-ride of the Cohutta 100, check it out!

Monday, January 2, 2012

50/50 in the RVA for 2012

The 2012 50/50 started nice and brisk abut 7:20am and would warm up into a classic cluster fudge. The typical cast and crew assembled for the day's ride and would soon be scampering through the city.

Early in the morning, the motly crew blasted through Carytown and the museum district, taunting the overindulgent new year's eve revelers with our loud hooliganism.

We made our way to Church Hill via a multitude of questionable railraod causways and a seemilingly continous processions of sketchy traffic violations. Stay on the front of the train or get dropped off the back like a new years resolution.

After making our roost on Church Hill, the urban ride transitioned to the questionalbe and ghetto phabulus pirate trails. One of our crew got to sample a rusted I-beam to both shins. In the 50/50, There will be blood.

A bit later, and after mechanical fixes and various types of refueling, the ride headed out towards the port of Richmond and we skirted a large stone quarry I had never ridden near before.

Then, the ride stiched together southside city pavement, a "wheelin" gravel road, train tracks, and some county roads. We stopped for lunch before kicking it over to Pocahontas State Park. I got a front flat while the ride cranked through Poco and was promtly dropped off the back. Plassman don't care.

Finally, we were mountain biking. The group rode most of the old trails and all of lakeview. My legs were aching pretty good at this point and we stopped for water while sizing up the situation of a rapidly fading day.

The crew formed into fractured set of pacelines as we headed back to Richmond via Courthouse road. I struggled to hold a wheel and was eventually cranking along solo for the majority of my ride back to the house where we all started.

Throughout the day, proper riding nutrition inevitably got cast aside or left behind. On the final stretches of road back to Richmond and up Riverside Drive, my legs and body were bonking pretty good. Kickig it solo at this point left me little motivation to ride enough extra road and trail to make it an even hundred so I settled for 88. Not my preffered way to end a -group- ride.

An awesome feast of homemade Chilli, Dip, Cornbread, Cookies, and other treats awaited back at the start/finish residence. Soon, calories and beer had me feeling like a man again. A hella big thank you goes out to Brandy & Travis for hosting.

The ride was everything I expected, and more or less. I'm already looking forward to wrecking myself next New Year's day.