Sunday, April 21, 2013

MORCS Clear Creek Challenge XC

2013 marks my latest start to the racing season since i began racing in early 2000! There are multiple reasons for such a late start, but i guess they are all just part of life! My time continues to be absorbed by travel due to work, WORK, and family duties. So, after missing the first two races that i had put on my schedule because of work and bad weather, i finally got lucky with both and had a chance to sneak over to Oxford, MS and race there second race of the newly formed MORCS.

A couple things to note...
  • This was a true test for me as i really have no clue as to how my fitness is. I know I'm getting stronger based on my workout numbers but you never know how things will play out when you're going full gas for 2+hrs.
  • I was also on a loaner bike that i had never been on until Saturday before the race. Jonathan @ Cahaba Cycles hooked me up with his own Santa Cruz Highball 29er carbon hardtail for the race since my race bike is injured.

The weather for the weekend was perfect with sunny skies and warm temps. Clear Creek Rec Area has great campgrounds with clean bathrooms, so it was an easy decision to camp and be right by the race start. With everything in full bloom, the green on the trees is a brilliant emerald green and really is beautiful to be surrounded by while in the woods.


Race day morning greeted us with cool temps and a very laid back vibe. after an lite breakfast of granola and milk along as a cup (or two) of coffee, we slowly broke down camp and got ready for the race. After i was dressed and spinning around warming up, i thought about what my plan was for the race. I knew the compo was slim and that really, Andrew Sorey was probably the fastest guy on the line. He's also young and i know he is always wanting to beat me, so i knew he would try and set the pace early and gap me. So, my plan was to let him do just that...lead the first lap and if my legs were able to respond after lap 1, I would put some work in on the 2nd lap. Each lap was 13 miles, so longer laps than normal but we were only doing 2, so overall the race was shorter than normal! (thank goodness) I warmed up for about 25min with a few openers and toed the line with about 10min to spare.

 
 
Once the gun went off, things went exactly how i expected. Andrew went hard and took the hole shot.I slotted in behind him and stayed tight on his wheel. we quickly created a gap on the rest of the cat 1's and continued to distance ourselves from them. we were going hard but i was very comfy with the pace and just tried to stay steady in my efforts. Andrew is tall and pretty powerful and was really pushing the pace on some of the flatter sections of the trail but every time things went uphill, i would quickly roll right up on his wheel. As we quickly railed the super sweet flowing trails of Clear Creek i started to thing about how I wanted lap 2 to go.

as we came through the transition area Andrew pulled off the front to grab his feed, i rolled through to the front. i didn't accelerate though and kept the pace the same. we were together as we entered the woods for the second time and were rolling fast. on the first climb, i punched it just a tad to see what would happen and immediately got a 5 sec gap. i decided to increase the tempo just a bit and within in 5min of steady riding, Andrew was out of sight. I knew i had the gas to keep it going and just rode. Things were pretty uneventful after that and i would ride solo for the rest of the race to take my first W of the year.













I love the unique awards from races these days!


A couple highlights for me...
1. I loved the Santa Cruz Highball!! very nimble and snappy in tight trails and climbed great!
2. After a couple months of consistent training, my fitness is starting to return and that's very rewarding to see. Thanks Coach!
3. This is my first XC win in quite a long time and it felt great to stand atop the podium again!
4. The Clear Creek trails are super fun! They were very well built and flow great!



Monday, April 23, 2012

US Cup/SERC 3 Conyers, GA

well this race went better than Tsali, so i would say mission accomplished. build up for the last 3 weeks was good and i have had some solid workouts including a tune up race last SUnday. i wasnt worried about results as much as i was hoping for some good legs and a solid performance.

Saturday started a little later than normal due to me wanting to watch Carter play his baseball game but by 1p local time, I had swapped cars with George, picked Jerry up, and were headed east. We drove straight to the course and suited up for a quick pre ride. the plan was an ez loop to loosen up the legs and then a second loop with a few hard efforts thrown in for good measure. the course was a blast. lots of variety...start was a wide open, long straight away which brought you into the first flowing sections of trails. the trail were so much fun to ride..smooth and fast with lots of hard packed sections. after about 4miles of flowing stuff, the course popped you out on a flat field section that brought you back close to the parking lot and dropped you under a bridge and on to the granite rock. this was the hardest part of the course and where i would lose contact with both groups i rode with. HARD! fun...but hard to race on.
starting time is always a little stressful
Sunday came fast and brought some killer weather with it. a little rain fell at night but didnt mess anything up. after a short warm up, i lined up with a good sized and strong group of wanna be pro's. i knew i had to race hard but be smart and not blow up. the gun went off and we were rolling. thankfully the start wasnt that fast and i was able to slot in the woods about 10th place. i was riding the singletrack much faster than a few guys in front of me, so i passed them as quickly as possible and keep my pace high. i bridged up to the lead group and stayed with them until the granite section.
dangling on chase group...Omar was way off the front by this time

Getting gaped on rock
i rode hard but lost about :20 and would roll solo thru lap one. i was joined by a couple other racers as i entered the woods and we would roll together for the next 2 laps. i felt comfy with these guys and knew that these are the guys i should be racing with. unfortunately, i was dropping a little on each climb and knew i would struggle on the last lap. i would get gaped a lil on the granite section and would actually end of rolling the entire 4th lap solo. i was hurting and was starting to fade pretty fast and couldnt have been more happy to see the end of the race. i loved to course and thought it would be a good race for me. I had a more steady and consistent performance and was glad to see some ok lap times. the results wasnt great but better. the compo seems to have gotten much more stiff and dudes are just riding fast! love it...

Cat 1 30-39 podium...i wanna get back there



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Swayback

race day started early for me but i enjoy these mornings. LARGE cup of coffee, loud 90's grunge, sunroof open, and zero traffic to deal with. the temps were perfect and i no trouble on the drive.

once at the venue there were lots of familiar faces. mostly birmingham folks these days. i used to race with a totally different group of guys, but it's cool. after i got suckered in to buying a shirt and dropping $55 to enter and get a shirt that doesn't really fit, i was kit'd up and ready to start the warm up. rode with chad for a few minutes on the trails and then headed out on the roads to finish the warm up.

the race was fun...i entered the woods 4th behind Scott, Chad, and Omar and was feeling fine. the pace was high and i was just glad to following a wheel because i didnt pre ride. I would soon get around Scott and was bridging up to the leaders when i smacked my handle bar on a tree..it didnt know me off but it jacked my bars up. i thought for a second i could ride with them but i knew after 10-20seconds that wasnt happening. as i pulled over to straighten them Jerry passed me. i was back on my bike pretty fast and bridged up to jerry. i was content to sit behind him and follow his wheel through the first lap. he held a solid pace and i doubt i would have been any faster solo. i took the lead heading into the woods on lap two and he stayed right with me...then all of a sudden he wasn't. i slowed for a min and looked back and tried to get a glimpse of him but saw nothing. i would really settle into a steady rhythm for the rest of lap two. as i exited the lap and headed over to my bottle there was all sorts of freaking chaos...first a finished racer was heading backwards through the start/finish area and coming right at me, next there were all sorts of people sitting around my bottles...and as i rolled up, dogging the racer, this lady grabs my bottle and jumps away from where im trying to come to...i had to yell...hey, that's my bottle!...she then handed it to me...after a stressful transition into lap 3 i was starting to feel a little tired. i popped a gel and heading into the woods. not 5min into the lap my so hard fought for bottle EJECTED out...again! not much more happened after that...i finished the lap very parched and was glad to be done. the legs were tired and the lower back was a tad tender too!i rode out on the road for a nice 15min cool down and then called it.

finished 3rd overall/2nd in age group. small race but the top 2 guys are strong so i feel ok about things. after 2 solid weeks of workouts i think things are really heading in the right direction.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

progress?

after tsali i needed to go back to the drawing board for the training plan. coach and i decided to push out 2 solid weeks of rides with a nice mixture of short endurance rides, rides with high end intervals, recovery rides, tempo rides, and a couple long endurance rides to keep the aerobic fitness up.

we decided to race this weekends AL state race at Swayback for a hard workout. this will be a first time I've ever raced the day after a 3hr endurance ride. should be interesting.

the bike is starting to really feel normal under me. i have become more comfy on it and feel it's FAST. i know strava isn't for everyone but it helps me keep tabs on my own personal best ride times over certain sections. so i try and do intervals over the same sections...and over the last few weeks, i have set several PR's out on the trails and roads. love it!!

with a training race tomorrow and then 2 US Cups in the following 3 weeks, race season is really in full effect. it's time to put the babies to bed and rev up the engine. i would really like to get up on a US Cup podium this year and really hope to be in some solid fitness come Bump N Grind and HooHaa...bout 6 weeks to go!