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Thursday, 27 June 2013

Summer Solstice 24 Hour MTB Race 2013 – The Review

The solstice cometh, the solstice goeth...leaving behind shattered dreams, crushed spirits, and barrels of sweat.  OK, a little (alot) over-dramatic, perhaps...depends who you ask; there were alot of different takes on this year’s Solstice.  Here’s mine:

Matthew and I pulled into Albion Hills on Friday afternoon to set up our race pit.  (Matthew is my son who abandoned his studies at university to help out his pappy in the pit, and to volunteer for Chico – the race organizer- at the event).  This is him:


 For any rich old ladies, or porn stars, yes he is single and available.
Sooo, anyways, once we got our pit set up...


Matt was off to work the registration desk.  When Egggman, my tag team teammate, showed up we made our way around to meet other friends competing in the race. Then after a couple of Wellington sleeping pills, it was time to hit the hay.

The geniuses at Environment Canada had predicted 10 -15 mm of rain Saturday, and we woke up to it raining on and off, so we thought we were in for a soaker…but…it stopped by 10:30 and the day turned into a scorcher…and humid!!
So, Egggman opted (sort of), to take the start lap (the route was a lap of about 16 kms of many short, steep, punchy climbs and switchbacks, with a couple of long fast descents), and we had decided to pull double laps as long as that would carry us.  So at 12:00 noon, the race started and Egggman was off with a group of hundreds of other racers (there were over 2100 racers in all at this event).

Egggman finished his first lap in 1hr4min, and called out as he passed our pit (our pit was just off the trail near the start), so I knew I had to be ready to go in an hour.  1hr5min later Egggman pulled into our pit, handed me the baton and I was off for my first lap.  The course was challenging…the last 5 kilometres especially.  A long gradual climb, into a very steep loose climb… followed by grassy climbs, then a long fast descent into the climbs of ‘High Roller’.  The last kilometer was great, almost a complete descent.  The huge grass ‘half pipe’, was fun…and my favorite trail ‘Pinecone Express’.  So, my first lap was going great, but about half way through something didn’t feel right.  I looked down, and yup, my right pedal was pulling off its spindle...then it came.  I rode out the lap on the spindle, with the pedal still clipped to my cleat; pulled into our pit at 59mins after completing the first half of my double.  I pulled into the pit calling for Egggman (actually I called “Mike”...that’st his nickname...I don’t get it but to each his own).  I said “dude you have to go for a single lap while I get this broken pedal fixed!”.  He gave me the ‘go f’k yourself’ look, something like this...


 Egggman relented and headed out for a single.  Matthew and I took my bike and a spare set of pedals to the on-site mechanic (from Sporting Life....they do a GREAT job!), to get fixed up.  We got fixed up, with working pedals, and Egggman pulled in after finishing his single, and I headed out to do a real double.
I finished the first lap of my was so dang hot!!!...after 1hr even...and continued on for the second lap.  As I started I went to swig from my camelback, and realized, in the pedal confusion I had misjudged and hadn’t taken enough fact, I was out as just past the start of my lap.  During the lap, I kept sucking on the bite valve hoping to get some, a drop, of fluid.  I pulled every drop out of that bladder...which would cost me later.  (dum, dum, dum!!!!  Dramatic cliffhanger eh???).  I finished off my double with a 1hr2min lap.  Pulled into the pit, as Egggman pulled out….and worked on rehydrating; and made certain I filled my camelback full for my next double.
2hrs21mins later Egggman finished his double…and I pulled out to do another…with lights ablaze as it was now dark.  A couple of kilometers in I went to take a swig of my water.  My camelback was full, but nothing came through the bite valve…I pulled/sucked on the bite valve again…still nothing.  Apparently in sucking the bladder dry last lap, I had twisted something inside; blocking the flow.  I spent the lap continuing to pull liquid through but nothing.  Another dry lap!! I was so parched!!  Almost like this!


 I finished the first half of my double in 1hr7min, pulled into our pit calling for Matthew and Egggman…they got my camelback/bladder straightened out…and I pulled out to finish the second half of the double.  With now a full 2 litre bladder I was good for this lap!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a full double with no issues??  Maybe my next one??  1hr11min later I was done and Egggman pulled out to complete our 11th and 12th laps.
2hrs48mins later Egggman pulled in from his double…and I pulled out…again lights blazing, it was 2am.  Somewhere along the first lap, I came down a singletrack descent then up and around a tight switchback, to come face to face with a big dear on the trail!  I touched the brakes, and yelled “Hey lady, move!!” and the big doe, startled, thundered into the bush. Another rider pulled up behind me as I accelerated to continue, and asked what I yelled at him…haha. 

Finished lap one of my night double in 1hr13mins…headed out for the second.  Things were going great till half way through…my bar light went out.  Damn!!  OK, I still had my headlight. For about 10 minutes….then it went out.  Pitch black!!!  Seriously; could not see my hand in front of my face.  (Who puts their hand in front of their face???).  Where the hell was this Supermoon  everyone was talking about??? 

When you have your lights going, you don’t realize how really dark it is out there!!  So, I spent the rest of the lap stopping and waiting for a rider to pass so I could follow them as long as possible with their lights.  If they pulled away, I had to stop and wait for another rider.  I did, manage to finish the lap this way…but it took 1hr25mins.
Egggman pulled out to start his double…but he made it clear he was starting to hurt.  Egggman is one of the toughest dudes I know, which made him a great partner for this race!  I was also hurting.  Especially on the second lap of our doubles…they were agony…but necessary for the rider in the pit to get sufficient rest.  But we were in second place!!!  With 3rd and 4th close on our tails (first was well ahead)…we were motivated.  I managed to get about an hour’s sleep in a gravity chair while Egggman completed his double…and Matthew managed to get about a half hours sleep.  He was a superstar helping out and he was well in need of rest!!  Egggman pulled in in almost exactly 3hrs.  We were now in 3rd place, and as I headed out to do our 17th and 18th laps, Egggman stated that he did not think he had another double lap in him.  I was not so sure I did either…but off I went.  I finished lap 17 in 1hr10mins…we were back in 2nd!  I finished an agonizing lap 18 in 1hr18…we were now in third.

Egggman pulled out to do a single lap, our 19th lap…it was now 11:27am.  If he got back in time, I would have time to get a single lap in.  As I recovered in the pit, Matthew getting me food and drink while I stretched and changed gear; Lois and NewfieSteve walked up.  They had driven up to help us out, and cheer us on to the finish (and to help pack up at the finish…thank Heaven!!!).  Egggman completed his lap in 1hr25mins.  It was 11:27, which meant I had 1hr 33minutes to get a 20th lap in.  I pulled out to do so in an attempt to preserve our 3rd place.  I finished the lap in 1hr8mins…we had taken 3rd!!!  Podium time!!

This is how you look when you know you are done!  Me, Egggman, EnglishJim(who anchored a 5 man team).
So another great Summer Solstice in the books!!  Our first podium of the year…more to come??  Special thanks to Egggman, a great teammate!!  Special thanks to Matthew, a great pit boss…and he put in a couple of volunteer shifts for Chico!  And thank you to Lois and NewfieSteve for doing the packing up!!
When is the next big race??  Stay posted!!
Recovery time!!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Ooops I Did It Again...another road race plus Kelso

Yes...another road race; the KW Classic.  Why, pray-tell, (what the hell is ‘pray-tell’ anyways??) would a mountain biker do one road race, not to mention a second one??  Well, it is all about training for mountain biking.  I have started to do the Kelso mountain bike race series as a training tool for the bigger races.  The Kelso races are not my usual type of mountain bike race.  They are 3 laps of an approximately 6 km loop, usually turning out to be a race of less than an hour (so far, most of my races have been more endurance type races).  So the Kelso races are a mad sprint, basically redlining for an hour or less. Usually it takes me an hour just to warm up.   But they are huge fun...a lot of local riders, and they are sponsored by my LBS, BicycleWorks.  Mostly, it is a great training tool; keeps you in a ‘race’ frame of mind, and ensures one balls out workout at least once a week.

The series started two weeks ago (May 21st).  The first race went relatively well for me; a lung busting climb near the start of the lap, a fun, very fast descent at the end of the lap, and flat singletrack in between (a chance to stand up and redline).  I came in third in my category (plus I beat Fig ), and surely would have done better if I would not have strayed off course (dumbass with my head down missed a turn) by about 150 metres (then crashed pushing the pace trying to catch back up!).  Here is a map of my ride...the nice red track is my detour...

Oh well...keep my head up next time I thought.  However, race two was cancelled/postponed due to lightning and thunder showers.  Hence, the road race.  As a last minute decision, Fig talked me into doing the road race as a replacement for the cancelled Kelso race.  A 7 lap race of a 4.6 km loop...just under an hour...similar total time to the Kelso race...almost seemed like a good idea.  Except, it was a road race...what don’t I like about road racing??  First, I don’t like the pack at 40km/hr or faster centimetres away from a competitor on all 4 sides of you is not comfortable.  I also don’t like the strategy involved, drafting off others to let them do all the work, then sprinting past them at the end seems (is) less than honourable and is not a true comparative contest of abilities (like the ass-hat who drafts everyone during a group ride then sprints past when they think the group is coming up to a Strava segment...please feel free to ride by your own damn self).  Basically, the typical road race strategy smacks of an inability to accomplish the objective on one’s own, and the need to have to use others to do so.  This is just one of those general characteristics our pappies raised us to not engage be able to, hopefully, proudly stand on one’s own.  Anyways, enough of that rant...holy moly, sorry about that.  Perhaps what I really need is this?


So, other than that, the road race was a great training off we went.  Lois knows how I feel about road racing, and I woke up to this on race morning. 

Yes...I am a lucky man.  Anyways, enough of scoring wife points...back on topic...

The race report:  I led for the first couple of laps of the race...I wanted to take off and see who could hold on (typical MTB strategy) I don’t feel comfortable in a pack (did I mention that?).  6 other racers held on...we dropped the rest.  Fig and I took turns leading for most of the middle of the race, and then Fig punched it and led for the last couple of laps.  With about 1.5 kms to go, I knew I didn’t have enough juice for a final sprint, so I tried to charge and break away from this point.  This dropped a couple more racers, but in the end I got out sprinted...I came in 5th...Fig came in 2nd.  Actually, Fig was quite impressive leading for most of the second half of the race, and the final sprint.  It seems, Fig is either completely on his game, or totally not on at all...and he was on for this one...well done Fig.


 Fig is actually keeping score, in the 6 races we have done so far this year (including the first Kelso race), I have beat him 4 times (all the mountain bike races), and he has beat me twice (the two road races we have done) we have a competitive friendly (?) rivalry going.

As far as training goes, I am continuing to maintain a structured training schedule.  A ‘structured’ training schedule is important; training is much more than just riding, and a proper structured training schedule is much more effective than unstructured training.  Proper, structured training means proper timing of specific training activities, and also incorporates a structured nutrition plan.

I have been lucky enough to get in a good road training ride with Fig and Centurion (two very strong riders), and a great MTB training ride with O’Cup racer CptSydor (this guy is fast!!).

Here is a pic of him...he is so fast his wheels don’t even touch the ground!!   J

Chasing him for a training loop wiped me out!!


So after yesterday’s race, today training plan calls for a longer recovery type road ride (it rained too much in the last two days to go MTB), and tomorrow is Race#2 of the Kelso series...

Stay posted!!