Fat Tire Classic

18 04 2010

We arrived at the course plenty early to make sure we could cheer on Justin in his first MTB race in some time. Once he got started I suited up and prepared to hit the trails and play roaming photographer, but that wasn’t to be. Clmbing the gravel hill, Justin snapped his chain. Today I saw at least ten broken chains around the course so it definitely was tough on equipment! Chris and Jill Logan were nice enough to let Justin race in the Cat 2 race with me to make up for the missed race time with the Cat 3’s.

We waited for what seemed like an eternity in the cold wind, but it was eventually time to line up. Everybody lined up 15 minutes early and that left me with a sweet 3rd row starting spot; not where you want to be on a one-lane start! We all raced up the sandy road and abruptly stopped when we hit the singletrack. Someone must have had an issue because we were literally standing in a line waiting for the front to move. Back on our way, the pace was high as usual and things got spread out pretty quickly. I held onto a decent spot for most of the beginning of the race, but had a hard time keeping up with the front pack. From then on it was just about holding position and keeping moving. I took my jacket off at the end of the first lap (good thing; don’t want to upset the sponsors in the woods) and cruised back into the woods. I actually had a partner out there for some time. Jesse from Expo and I went back and forth for almost the whole lap before he turned the jets on and left me to race with Adam. I played the part of follower by letting him pace me for a while but I wound up using more energy than if I had been riding alone. We battled back and forth a few times until the final trip through the mud hole when I hit a soft spot and had to put a foot down. I just watched him ride away as I ran through the mud to try and stay with him. That gap was too much to make up and I rolled into the line at a disappointing 14th place. The only consolation was that my time today was more than ten minutes faster than my time from Monday!

The recent thread on the Root 66 forum talking about sandbagging should have been read aloud because maybe it would embarrass the certain people that know they shouldn’t be racing where they are. Putting minutes between you and the bulk of the field only hurts youself because everybody sees what is happening and nobody likes a sandbagger. Maybe I’m a sore loser and maybe they are legit, but this is my place to tell it like I see it and those that disagree will have to deal with it.

As always, Jim put on a great race and the course was top notch! Next week we travel to Taunton,MA for a new race; we’ll see what happens there…


Winding Trails Pre-Ride #2

14 04 2010

I just got back from the course and I’ve got to say that it is looking good!  There were lots of riders out today checking out the course and everyone I talked to had positive things to say.  My main goal was to check out what my lap times looked like on my cross bike compared to the mountain bike.  If there was ever a course that you could ride a cross bike, this would be it.  We have made lots of changes and there are more roots and more technical sections, but ultimately there is lots of fireroads and smooth singletrack.

Well, my lap times were exactly the same with either bike, but I felt super sketchy on the cross bike!  It is an easy choice to take the tried and true mountain bike out for the race.  Justin and Brandon M. joined me at about 6 for a couple of laps and got to see the race course for themselves.  Justin will be dusting off his number plate and racing in Cat 3 on Sunday!

Winding Trails Pre-Ride #1

12 04 2010

Just got back from finally riding the 2010 version of the course for the Fat Tire Classic. The new sections that we added really make the loop longer and will slow things down quite a bit. I’ll let people ask me about the course instead of giving away all the gory details here.

I found it interesting that I wiped out all by myself, pre-riding a course that I know really well! The resulting wounds on my arm and leg will be fine in a day or two, but they are stinging like crazy right now!

Hopbrook Dam MTB Race

10 04 2010

Hopbrook is always a tough race and today was no different. The weather was strange with a heavy wind that just sucked the heat right from the sun. I settled on a long-sleeve jersey and shorts for my kit and was happy in warm ups. The Cat 1s were taking longer than usual so our start got pushed back a bit; just enough to cool down nicely! Once we did get called to the line I counted 11 racers in my class; many of which I’ve raced with before. The competition would be fierce! As the whistle blew and we raced off into the woods I found myself in the 4th or 5th place. In the single track all was going well and I maintained my position. We spilled out into the road and rode toward the field where I would lose a position. The wet grass just sucked the life from me and I decided to give up the spot to save energy for later. Once back on the trail I got run into on a technical climb, knocking me off the bike. Another place lost. I was also dying from that long-sleeve jersey i chose to wear so i did my best to regulate my temperature, but I knew it would be a bit warm for the remainder of the race!From this point I settled in for a while and rode with Adam for nearly the entire 1st lap. He passed me on the final climb of the lap and cheked out! I’m down another spot. The determining factor in my desire to push hard for the rest of the race was when I came through the feed zone expecting a fresh bottle of water and was greeted with nothing! My pit person was distracted by taking pictures and forgot about the bottle handoff. Now, I’m already boarderline overheating because of my stupid clothing decision and I’ve got to finish the race without water! I pushed as hard as I could, but my body just didn’t have the energy to make anything happen. I rode a clean lap and surprisingly didn’t get passed by many others! I would later find out that this was because the only racer behind me was 11 minutes back! I crossed the line with a time of 1:08 that was good for 10th place. The result is highly disappointing, but at least I got points and have started my trek toward another points championship. Next week’s race at Winding Trails will really help me determine what I need to improve in my riding as the new course has something to test every skill.

This week will be busy as I’ve got to get my rides in as well as help to mark the course for this weekend. Let’s just hope that my bike will be fine and won’t need too much work to get back into race shape!

Southwick Rail Trail

8 04 2010

After last night’s rough end to the ride, I decided that I needed to go for a nice spin to keep my legs loose. I followed the rail trial north again with my sights set on checking out the new section of trail from the Massachusetts line in Southwick. On my way out there I got to enjoy a dirt path that paralleled the trail since I’ve been riding my ‘cross bike. This dirt path had lots of whoops that really made keeping my speed up a challenge, but also added to the fun! At the crest of some of the whoops I could feel my rear wheel come up off the ground as I was still pedaling! When that section ran out in Suffield I hopped back on the pavement and crossed the state boarder. The new section of trail is beautifully paved and even has a yellow line marking the center of the lanes! There really isn’t too much to look out in Southwick, but the trial does pass close enough to Lake Congamond that you can see it and I’d assume in the summer that you’d be able to hear the boats. The trail wound past a golf course before abruptly ending and turning to dirt. I’ve read that the dirt section is rideable for another two miles, but since I was on a timeline, I needed to turn around at this point. There were lots of users on the Southwick Rail trail including Razor scooters; a first for this season!

The plan for this evening is to complete my DIY bike repair stand and start preparing my race bike for Hopbrook Dam on Saturday. First things first, I need to get the water out of my wheels from the preride last weekend!

Rider Down!

7 04 2010

Wednesday is a group ride night so I headed home just after my 8-hour sentence was over! On the way home I passed the motorcade for the UCONN womens basketball team. Probably 6 or 7 police cars were escorting the two biases from the airport to campus. Kind of a neat sight! Anyway, there were a lot mire riders this week than last; weather related perhaps? We rolled out and headed north on the rail trail into East Granby where we hit surface streets. I enjoyed chatting with Aki and Craig as the pace was really mild. On the roads we started to get some order together, but there were a few riders that looked shakey so I tried to avoid them. I was pleased to learn that we were heading back into town on 189 as I just love that! I found myself at the back of the front group and waited for someone to go. The whole group was getting restless and from my view I decided that it was time to go. I kicked up the pace and surprisingly scooted past the whole group really quickly! Mark was right there with me sprinting to the stop light; he pulled me by a bike or two, but I’ll even it up another day! By this time it is starting to get dark and we turned onto 10/202 toward the shop. From the front people started to slow and I followed suit. What happened next wasn’t expected at all! I felt a pressure against my rear wheel from the road side that was unmistakable; another rider’s front wheel. In what seemed like a solid minute, I felt the pressure release and I looked back to see what I knew would happen. A rider was down in the traffic lane, but it wasn’t the one that hit me rather someone behind him. The whole group stopped and helped to collect the bikes and bodies that were injured. Thankfully no cars were coming as this could have been much worse than a case if road rash! I have to assume that someone wasn’t paying attention (it was dark, we were tired) and didn’t see the front slowing. This set off the chain reaction that led to my first experience with group ride crashes.

Moral of the story: always protect your wheel and watch what the riders in front of you are doing. Road rash will heal, but that car tire print will hurt for a long time!

I hope the rider that went down is doing better today and that we will see him ou on the bike soon!

Hopbrook Dam Pre-Ride

3 04 2010

This morning Justin and I loaded up the car and took a drive down to Middlebury, CT to preride the Hopbrook Dam race course for next weekend.  Upon my first sight of the lake I knew we were in for an interesting ride!  The lake is the result of a US Army Corps of Engineers flood control dam and it was doing it’s job!  The normal starting location for the race was under at least four feet of water!  In order to get around the flooded area we had to ride backwards on the trail and eventually needed to ford the river. (Good thing none of us got dysentery!  LOL, Oregon Trail reference)  We stopped and examined the flood=waters at this point and what we rode through was solid knee-level water.  It was quite refreshing as the sun was hot and the lack of leaves made it that much warmer.  Once on the trail it was evident that there needs to be lots of work done this week for the course to be race-able.  Where the water had risen and then receded it left piles of thick, muddy debris that covered the trail a few inches thick in spots.  Away from the lake the trails weren’t horribly wet as I had expected.  They were the typical moist soil that was well packed with muddy spots here and there.  If the weather does what the meteorologists are saying it will, we may see the water level drop to where we can ride the normal loop without the use of a snorkel!  We did some hike-a-bike around the flood and just enjoyed the ride.  Along the entire course we only saw a few sets of tracks from others so it is evident that not many racers have made it out there quite yet.  I’m really excited for the start of the season and if we start off with a warm, sunny race I’m not sure I’d know what to do!