Saturday, August 06, 2011

Bike racing is fun

Long time, no update. Let me tell you, it isn't for a lack of wanting to write but simply a lack of time. Since the Mohican 100K we've been doing some racing, primarily of the mountain bike variety with two NEO Power Series races, but there was also the Shreve Road Race by RideOn Wooster the weekend after Mohican. Brief synopsis of our results:

Shreve Road Race (June 11th):

Unfortunately, Lorena had to work that day so only I ventured down for the Cat 4 race not knowing how good my road racing form would be. I hadn't done any road races all Spring while prepping for Mohican. Turns out, it wasn't too bad as I managed to finish with the main group (aside from the RideOn breakaway). It was amazing how many people we shed on the big climb every lap. According to the results, I came in 17th out of 35 finishers. I wasn't too upset about this and was generally happy with my overall effort. Props to Robert Sroka for helping me try to keep the pace up late in the race as we tried to reel in the break. Neither of us had teammates and it seemed like only a handful of us wanted to do any work after the break.

This was a well run race, but I do have one complaint. The centerline rule was well enforced by the race official following our group... until he came around us when the breakaway went up the road. Then everything went to hell in the group with people moving up at the end across the centerline. Mainly, it was disappointing because those rules are there to keep us safe and we don't get the luxury of closed roads. The same rules apply to EVERYBODY and I hope they enforce it better next time.

Results Page

Reagan MTB Time Trial (June 19th):

The first race of the NEO Power Series and only the second mountain bike time trial I've ever done. Funnily enough, Lorena and I were staged such that she started immediately after me. Nothing like the motivation of trying to not get caught by your wife to make you go fast! The course was in good shape and we both had a good race. I crashed about a mile from the finish that cost me a little time and then burped my front tire a half mile later in a turn. Thankfully, it managed to reseat itself and hold air. In the end, we both finished before the big thunderstorm hit and drenched all of the poor beginners still out on the course.

Chris - 7th in 52:28 (7 seconds out of 6th and 8 seconds out of 5th) - Sport Senior 30-39

Lorena - 5th in 59:53 (only 4 seconds out of 4th!) - Sport Women 19+

Results Page

Vulture's Knob Double-Down Enduro (July 16th)

We've grown to enjoy the Knob more this year and have ridden there a lot, but we also knew that 4 laps (~28 miles) was still going to be a challenge, especially in the heat. I had a really good start and was 3rd behind fellow OCC rider Paul Dunn. We continued this way until just after The Snake when the leader dropped back. Some other rider came past me right before The Cradle to put me back in 3rd. Something happened to Paul at the creek crossing and I was back in 2nd until right before Hubcap City when Todd Bolgrin came around us. In the short, rocky downhill after Hubcap City I managed to hit a rock and puncture my rear tire. I saw a squirt of sealant and hoped that it would seal itself. Well, it didn't and I was stuck putting in a tube as what seemed like every other racer went by me. Turns out that my sealant was a dried up ball inside the tire and wasn't going to seal anything. Time to play catch-up and so I went as hard as I could from then on to make up time. My second lap was faster than my first and the third faster than my second but I paid for it with a little slower fourth lap.

I also had my chain drop behind my cassette on my second lap that seemed to cost me 10 minutes because it wouldn't come out and I couldn't get the wheel out of the bike! I also managed to lay my left knee open on the second lap in a loose, downhill turn after The Furnace when my front tire washed out. That's just part of racing and I wasn't the only one with a story at the end of the day.

Lorena had such a great race that I never caught her after my flat! I heard her near the end and tried like hell to close the gap, but the heat was getting to me a little bit and I just couldn't go any harder. She finished 2nd (!) on the day behind Julie Lewis-Sroka.

Chris - 9th in 3:37:06 - Sport Senior 30-39

Lorena - 2nd in 3:30:34 - Sport Women 19+

Click Here for more of our photos.

Click Here for race photos by Bob Grimm.

Results Page

In between the races and training we managed to squeeze in a great trip to Michigan over the July 4th weekend for three great days of mountain biking with Marty and Traci. We rode 56 miles of some of the most flowing singletrack around with stops at the Potawatomi Trail, Maybury State Park, and Pontiac Lake. The only other mountain bike time trial I've ever done was at Pontiac back in 1997 when I raced against Marty and didn't know him let alone that he'd be my future brother-in-law.

Speaking once again of mountain bike time trials... Up next for us is yet another time trial tomorrow at Findley State Park with the Thorn Time Trial as stop #3 in the NEO Power Series. Should be fun, but we'll have to see how fast it's going to be after the storms that blew through today.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mohican 100K Write-Up

We've been busy on the racing front these last three weekends. There was the Mohican 100K on June 4th, the Shreve Road Race by RideOn on June 11th, and Sunday's Reagan Park TT to open the NEO power series by 331Racing. This post is about the Mohican 100K with write-ups for the others to follow.

In all our years of bike racing, neither Lorena nor I had ever competed in a mountain bike race as long as the Mohican 100K. Most have been in the 20-30 mile range and there is definitely a difference in how you prepare. We began the week before Christmas 2010 on a 24-week training plan by LW Coaching specifically for a 100K race. Looking back, we probably could have prepared a little more intensely, but not knowing what to expect I'd say we did it right. There is certainly nothing bad that came from how we trained. We definitely had a better base than in years past. Having learned a ton in this year's event, we'll train with more intensity next year for sure and already have plans to do it again.

I think we both can agree this was the hardest race we've ever done. I finished in 77th place in the Men's Open category of 153 finishers (185 starters) with a time of 7h 24m 35s. Lorena finished in 9th place in the Women's Open category of 17 finishers (22 starters) with a time of 8h 00m 2s. That 2 seconds is already fuel in Lorena's fire to go faster next year. Naturally, we both want to do it faster. Not that we're competitive or anything...

The full results can be found here: Mohican 100 Results

Fortunately, I was pretty smooth on the day and only crashed once... but, it was spectacular. At about mile-41 in the Mohican Wilderness trail, I busted the GU packet taped to my stem with my crotch as I went over the handlebars. Nothing like your shorts sticking to your saddle for 21 miles to get on your nerves. Lorena's only real bad luck was a flat in the latter half of the race that cost her some time.


Hats off to Ryan O'Dell and all of the volunteers that make it a great race. The course was extremely well marked and you can never go wrong with lining up Great Lakes Brewing for free beer to all finishers at the end. That first beer never tasted so good. Of course, so did the next couple...

There are more photos of us from the race here: Mohican 100K Gallery

Here's to doing it all again next year. Until then, back to our regularly scheduled racing program. Up next, the Shreve Road Race.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Inadvertent Social Commentary

The lack of updates to the blog has not been due to a lack of ideas to post, merely a lack of enough hours in a day. Despite the almost assuredly more important things to write about, I couldn't help but share these gems discovered in one of the weekly sales flyers of the weekend newspaper.



Somehow, 20% seems like an exceedingly large increase in chair width and an odd marketing slant. And, thank goodness I no longer have to bend over to clean my feet! At this rate, I'm thinking it won't be long before the 'Easy Feet' will need to be 20% wider...

Moral of the story? Ride your bike. A lot.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the mend - again

For starters, here's a few photos taken on a ride from almost 3 weeks ago. The flooding around our area was pretty astonishing.

It's been a little while since the last post so this may be a little long-ish.

The last week has been fairly disappointing from a riding perspective. That is, there has been ZERO riding by yours truly as a result of some sort of respiratory infection that began last Saturday night. I do believe that the stress of that day probably helped the infection take hold as I likely tried to cram too much into one day.

Last Saturday I spent most of the morning disassembling the Fox fork on my mountain bike to replace the seals and give it some fresh oil. Based on several favorable reviews, I decided to install Enduro seals. Let me tell you, their step-by-step guide for taking the fork apart was spectacular. If you've never done this sort of repair before, their guide has great photos and descriptions of exactly what to do. If anything, I'd say they almost break it down too far. That's a good problem. Even with good instructions, I was still a little nervous about getting it all back together successfully so that I could ride at Mohican State Park the following day. (Stress Source #1)

After getting the fork back together, I had a field test on the training schedule. The plan was to get in about a 30-minute warm-up, do my 20-minute time trial, and then spin out the remaining 40-minutes. Well, I felt pretty good during my warm-up and proceeded into the time-trial. About 4-minutes in I hear my HRM beeping that it lost the transmitter signal. I tried moving the transmitter strap a little bit and it got the signal back. Now, my heart rate had dropped and I was hammering trying to get back up to speed. A minute later the signal drops again and never recovered. Since my average HR for the time trial was what I needed, I decided to bag the test for another day and simply rode hard for the remainder of the 20 minutes and then spun out the rest. It was disappointing because I really wanted to see how much my fitness had improved and the first part of the time trial was looking pretty good. The worst part was getting home and checking the battery in the transmitter. It had plenty of juice and so I'm left wondering where in the hell the problem lies. (Stress Source #2)

A sore throat started to kick in as I got my gear together for Sunday and I didn't sleep well at all Saturday night. When the alarm went off at 6:30AM, my throat felt awful and my head was fully plugged. A quick text to let the crew know I wasn't coming then it was back to sleep until around 9 or 9:30.

So, I'm thinking that mental stress plus the physical stress of the hard ride on Saturday joined forces to open the immune system gates. The most difficult thing about training for anything is avoiding over-training. It's amazing how quickly you an get too far in the hole and your body can't keep up. A week off the bike is my punishment for not listening to my body.

Lorena has fortunately managed to avoid contracting whatever has taken up residence in my lungs and sinuses. I'm jealous of her bike commute even though it's relatively short simply because it's an opportunity to get out and pedal. On a positive note, I am on the upswing and should be back in the saddle soon enough.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wicked Good

The agenda for the last month (and reason for lack of posts) has been: eat, work, eat, ride, eat, sleep, repeat. There have been a few days off from riding in there, but you can imagine that filling up that time with other things isn't difficult.

Since tonight is a scheduled night off, I had a chance to catch up on a few items I enjoy reading. This little gem came up:

A Hill in Spain from chris akrigg on Vimeo.

Be sure to turn on HD, full-screen, then kick back and enjoy.

(via megnut via kottke)

Up next, bike cleaning...