Monday, June 18, 2012

Lumberjack 100 2012

I have to admit, I had my eye on this one since the beginning of the year. It’s sort of my home course on the NUE calendar, and its’ flatter profile and fast flow suits my style a little better then say some of the other courses with over 13,000 ft of climbing. I also look forward to this race every year because I get to see and hang out with a lot of my local riding buddies and the RBS team. I’d been on some heavy duty antibiotics for about 10 days before the race due to a tick bite, so I wasn’t sure how well I was going to ride. It felt like I was only digesting about ½ my food all week. The other ½ seemed to like to evacuate at about midnight, 2am, 3am, and 4am each night. I don’t recommend getting bit by a tick. It’s not very fun at all. I know… excuses excuses… blah blah blah…

The race start felt a little more mellow than last year. I stayed right on the front as all 400 of us dodged the van pulling into the parking lot. Barry Wicks took the holeshot into the shoot and I was right on his heels avoiding the crash mayhem which happened just behind us. I was lucky. Wicks pushed the race pretty hard up all the steep rolling climbs. At one point, I let him and Kevin Carter go off the front. I thought if Wicks was going to ride like that all day, there was no way I would survive. Fortunately he let up and a group of 6 formed.

It was Wicks, Tostado, Tanguy, Carter, and me for a while, until Edsall, Spreng, and others bridged up later in the lap. I got caught between groups for a few miles during lap 1 when my seat post slipped down. I fixed it quickly and chased back on.  I was feeling pretty good. The pace felt totally manageable and I was taking a few turns on the front trying to push the pace.

Lap 1, so far so good. During lap 2, Tanguy took a hard pull through Road Monkey until he developed a slow tire leak, then I took over for a while all the way up to the fire tower climb. Then on the ensuing rollers, Kevin Carter came to the front and took a blistering pull. I could tell he was feeling good. Wicks found the hot line and came around Kevin on the rocket launch. The rest of had to run as we slid out on the sandy terrain. At that point, I was really feeling it. The heat and humidity was climbing, and my body was shutting down.

I pulled into the pits and loaded up on ice and a fresh camelback of infinit and tried to recover. I was feeling better, but the group on the front was long gone. I’d try to just keep the pace up and limp in for 5th. It just seemed to get hotter and hotter. The climb up the fire tower took the last bit of energy I had left. Soon later, with about 3 miles to go, Tostado rolled up. He passed me in slow motion and I had nothing left to stay with him. I would roll in for 6th.

Not too bad. Could have been better, could have been worse. The heat really bothered me at this one and who knows what effect the tick infection had on my endurance. Big thanks goes out to my wife Mitch, and my in-laws Dan and Sandy for getting me through that 3rd lap. It is what it is. It’s a points series, you have to roll with the punches and save the best placings you can at each race. And when a guy like Barry Wicks shows up, you know it’s going to be a hard day. I think it’s good for the sport though, and it brings up the pace and the level of competition. Congrats to Wicks for the win and a solid ride by Kevin Carter. I think I’m the first one of the top contenders to finish 4 races, so that’s a huge relief. Even if something bad happens in the 2nd half of the season, I know I have my 4.

So here’s to a successful first portion of season! Now I’ll hunker back down for the next few weeks and see what kind of condition I can bring out for the summer run of hundies. Perhaps I can better a couple of those lower placings and come home with good series finish. Hope to you see you guys out there on the trails.

Monday, June 4, 2012

NUE #3 Mohican 100 2012

This weeks adventure brings us to middle Ohio for round 3 of the National Ultra Endurance Series. With fast singletrack and ample rolling dirt rds, this race is typically a good course for me. Throw in the cooler temps, and the conditions were perfect. The short 3-1/2 hr drive to the venue was a welcome change from the epic road trips of the first two rounds.

Thanks to Rochester Bike Shop, I decided to utilize my new Superfly hardtail for this race. I figured it would help with all the dirt rds and the agonizing “buggy trail”. It proved to be a good choice. No mechanicals to speak of, although my back is feeling it today. The race got off to a quick start with the hill climb prime just outside of town. Native Michigander Jordan Wakely lit up the sprint and took home the extra $200. I decided to lay low near the front and save my effort for the shoot. I managed to be first into the shoot. The trails were dialed. Not much mud to speak of, which was surprising with the rain the day before. The opening climbs strung things out nicely.

As we made our way into the Mohican Singletrack I found myself struggling a little to keep up with the pace. The hardtail had me bouncing all over the roots. I decided to lay low and let a few guys go. I figured I could catch up with all the dirt rds later on. Christian Tanguy turned on the afterburners in the remaining singletrack and built himself up a 12min lead. I found myself working with Kevin Carter, Chris Peariso, and Jordan Wakely. Kevin kept a nice smooth pace as we motored along. Sure enough, out on the dirt rds, we swept up Brandon Draugelis, and Rob Spring, but Tanguy was long gone.

We developed a pace line on the dirt rds out to Mohican Wilderness. I was feeling good, so I decided I would try and break away on the climb out of aid 3. I had a small gap near the top just as we made our way back out onto the dirt rds. I dug in hard and found myself alone, free to open up the motor on the remaining dirt rds.

I kept getting the time splits from people out on the trail. I’d hear 5min, then 4min, then at the end of the buggy trail in aid 4, my wife Michelle yelled 2min. There was a chance! It kept me motivated. But, it was too little, too late. Once I started hitting the steeper climbs near the end, I could feel myself slowing down a bit and paying for my efforts. Christian was going to win. Perhaps if one of the others had broken away and joined me, we would have had enough horsepower to pin it back.

Even though I was tiring, I managed to keep the motor running and held off the chase pack to finish in 2nd. I was really happy with the performance. No crashes, no mechanicals, and no wrong turns. It was a clean race, and I felt good the whole way through. I managed to take about 30min off my time from last year, so that’s a good sign for the upcoming Lumberjack right here in my home state of Michigan.

We had a great time after the race chatting up and hanging with all the cool people this sport attracts. Big props to Ryan O'Dell for pulling off a great race. I was starting to get down on myself, and the sport, but it’s funny how one good race can turn that all around… something to remember when you find yourself struggling with the results. Congrats to Christian for soloing out a monster effort and the win. And as always, congrats to everyone who finished. 100 miles is never easy. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you at Lumberjack.