Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mt Snow Classic

This past weekend was the Mt. Snow Classic cross country mountain bike race in Vermont, a true classic (as far as I understand it been going on for years, and in my past few summers I have now raced here 5 times.) I was hoping to get a great result, with a 5th a few weeks back and a 3rd last weekend I was hoping to keep up the streak. Enter the problem, a high level of fitness is hard to obtain but easy to have slip away. The past 5 weeks I have done 8 races, averaging one every 4 days, and I knew I was slipping but I was hoping to have one or two more races left before meltdown.

My friend Sean, Tom, Joe, my self and a few other stayed at Sean's house right next to Mt Snow, and I headed up Saturday to make a weekend out of the race. Saturday was pretty fun, got to watch the Mt. Ventoux stage in the Tour and had some dinner and a ride. Sunday morning we awoke to wet roads, a sign that it had rained the night before, which is to be expected with the almost constant rain the past week, which only makes Mt. Snow more interesting, however I have never raced it dry so its really hard to say.

Fast forward to the race, after an all right warm up I ended up lining up against 28 pro/cat 1/open racers, a great turnout, and the field was strong to boot. The race went off, and everyone was jocking for position as usual, and we hit the first climb and I felt all right, I was heading up the hill in 4th position or so, and feeling all right. We then went through some sloppy single track, and started the longer climb in the race, and this is where the 8 races in the past 5 weeks would either make me or break me, and unfortunately for me, they broke me. I just had nothing in the tank, and tried to keep pedaling but people were killing my up this hill. I think I dropped into something like 20th place, and seriously considered dropping out, but I like to finish races that I start regardless if I feel great or terrible. So I bit the bullet and kept grinding it out. On the second and third lap I was able to keep my head down and pass 7 or 8 guys, and I was just looking for the finish. On the last lap I was able to catch an old time rival Ben Moore, from the MidWest Cycling Conference, and pass him as I was trying to cook down the final hill to the finish line. I ended up coming in 9th place out of the 28 startes and actually not a bad result considering how I felt, but not where I was hoping.

I am now going to start building up some base fitness again, as when I was racing so much I pretty much just raced and recovered, with little actual training or nice longer rides. This should be a nice break as I will be able to get back to some fun riding, however there is a race this upcoming weekend that is tempting me, depending on how I feel I may or may not show up.

In conclusion, see the photo below:

Mt. Snow got the best of me this time, but there is always next year! (not to mention the winter when a chair takes me to the top, haha)
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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Horror at Harding Hill

This past weekend was mountain bike national championships out in Colorado, but unfortunately I could not make it out there, so instead I traveled with my buddy Sean Kennedy up into New Hampshire to race The Horror at Harding Hill. I also got to see and race against my friend Tom Sampson, as he said the trail was cool I hold him partially responsible for getting me get up there. The weather had been pretty dry lately (relatively speaking), with a few showers here and there, so I was hoping to break the streak of being covered from head to toe in mud. However after talking to a few people who had pre-ridden the course, they said that there was some "mud bogs," so much for it being dry.

The race was a mass start, with every field taking off within ten minutes, so as the elite riders lined up there were a lot of spectators! The race started and I was second going into the double track behind Matt OKeefe, I then got passed by Brad Perley I stayed there for a little bit until we came to the first mud bog, at this point I picked a terrible line and these two guys soared through the mud and got out way before me. We then started a climb and I managed to get back on board with them, which is where I stayed until the mother of all mud bogs, it was at least 100 yards long, and about 75 yards in I sank in and had to run the rest. Matt and Brad again found the right line and left me stumbling through the mud. At this point I was joined by Thom Parsons and another dude, which was a great asset, because as we got to the top of the next hill I blew by the trail (to my defense I say an arrow but I did not see trail so I decided to keep climbing) Thom then saved my race and was yelling telling me that I did in fact miss the trail, thanks Thom. After a lot more mud bogging and a few more climbs we finished the first lap. It was at this point that the mass start nature of the race became a problem, as I was saying "on your left" about as much as I was pedaling for the rest of the race. I eventually was able to say so long to Thom and keep on riding.

I spent the rest of the race trying to find the best lines through the mud bogs, as they were really slowing me down, however unfortunately even after 5 laps I felt that I was not able to do so. I did however, feel really good climbing, so at the end of the day I ended up crossing the line in third place.

As seen below the mud did do a number on my bike.

This bike was covered, and I had to spend an hour Monday morning before work cleaning it up!

I have to congratulate Sean for an awesome race and crossing the line at the front of the expert class, way to go! Also, I am glad I was not wearing white shorts

We ended up going swimming to get cleaned up after the race, which made the trip home much better. On the way home we also go to drive by the Bartlett Blueberry farm, I wanted to stop by to see if I got a family discount, but I decided to eat a pear instead.

Overall a good day coming in third place, got covered in mud for the 100,000 consecutive race it seems, and I will be spending the new few days cleaning up!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Domnarski Farms XC

This past Sunday was the Domnarksi Farms cross country race. The week coming up to the race I was not sure if I was going to race, the weather had been pretty rainy, it was the day after the 4th of July, but it was only 3o minutes away I did want to race. So as Friday and Saturday were pretty nice, and I didn't have too late of a night on the 4th I decided I would race.

Last year I did the holiday farms cross country race, and I thought that the Domnarski Farms race was the same event, however I found out that this was not the case when my GPS told me to head south instead of north, oops. When I arrived at the race I realized that I forgot socks, great. Luckily I talked to Greg Carpenter and he gave me a pair, brand new blazing white socks, thanks Greg.

Fast forward to the start, I had a pretty poor starting position sitting at the back. When the whistle blew I tried to work my way forward, but did not make much progress and got stuck a little on the first steep climb, but after that I started to work my way up. We climbed for a little while, then we hit some two track, and this is when I realized that the course did not dry out, and was still pretty wet. The two track was like covered with huge puddles, but if you payed attention you could find some lines around the edges. I made it out of this all right, and then hit the single track again. I eventually caught up to Greg and we rode together a while, continuing to weave through the puddle when we got into double track. Then it happened, we came to the section of the trail that did not really dry out at all. One second I was flying down a hill, a came up to a muddy section pulled my front wheel up to make my way through the mud, and then nearly flew over my bars. I quickly hopped off my bike, and then sunk into knee deep mud. I made haste to run through the mud, but I was stuck, the suction form the mud just pulled me down, I then decided to use my bike as a crutch and get through the mud. There were at least two or three more life sucking mud holes and then we finished our first lap. With one lap to go I worked to try and catch the leading racers, and long story short I made up some time and eventually passed "The Monster" Ben Moore (he used to race in the Midwest Cycling Conference with me, and he was able to gobble up riders, giving him the nickname), as I crossed the line I was not sure how I had finished but I felt pretty good about the race. I was covered in mud from head to toe, and my blazing white shocks were a nasty muddy black, seems like all the races this year are mud fests, which results in an extraordinary amount of cleaning!

I ended up finishing 5th out of a field of fifteen, my second best result this year in the Root 66 series behind my 4th at Winsted Woods. The field had some pretty awesome riders, and a 5th place was a great result!

I am heading home this weekend so no racing, but I do think that I will race the Bachelor St. Time Trail tomorrow.
So long for now.