Monday, June 23, 2008

Heartland - Truman's Big Love Holy Moly!

When I first saw the course map, I knew it was going to be gruesome, and not in the way I prefer. I'm not the fittest guy out there, so I prefer very technical courses (even a bit greasy) that show-case my ability to ride fast over slippery technical terrain, as aposed to just putting out max watts with max traction. The course they chose for yesterday's race was as fast as it comes. The dirt was perfectly tacky. We started on the usual grass field and quickly lined-up on the first little single-track climb. Shadd Smith skipped the Austin Texas round of the USA Crits series to contest his 1 mtb race for the year. He's obviously super fit and this course was tailor made for him. He quickly set the pace on lap 1 with Cameron Chambers, myself, Dave Breslin, Chris Ploch, Aaron Elwell tucked in (literaly) on his wheel. The balance of the Expert field were left fighting for position behind us. The course is a drag race till you hit the very steep and rocky climb at the end of the Boulevard section. At the top you enter the Family Trail. No sick parent would every consider taking their family on this thing. Very rocky, rooty and zig-zags all over the place. It was still a freight train of 10 guys going through there. I was still locked in 3rd behind Shadd and Cameron coming out of the single track and hitting the long open meadow at the top of the course. The field was starting to get strung out but there were still 6 or 7 of us together. Shadd lead the way down Tasty Goodness and we came though lap one in that order: Shadd, Cameron, myself, with Breslin, Ploch, Elwell in tow. I decided to try my hand at getting the race fired up and took off on lap 2. I led most of that lap and came through to start lap 3 with a slight lead but not much. The race was coming back together behind me. Lap 3 had the freight train back together. Chris Ploch pulled the best move of the day and slid by me going into Tasty for the 3rd time. He was nice enought not to send me into the trees in doing so. Me and him started to pull away going down Tasty and came through to start the last lap together. That's when Dave Breslin moved up and took over, going by us on the climb. Chambers and Elwell soon followed and I couldn't respond to that move. I just tried to hold it together and maybe catch back up if one of them blew up. I was in 4th overall at this point and Ploch was still with me. I had to resign to the fact I couldn't improve on that but I didn't want to fall back into 5th either. The race behind us had finally thinned out but there were still fast guys back there, like Shadd Smith and Tom Price. I managed to stay in front of Chris going into Tasty for the last time and rode my ass off to get enough of a gap so I could relax near the finish. Definately some of the tighest racing I've done this year. My 4th overall was enough for 2nd in the 30-39 group behind Breslin's overall fastest time. The top 4 of us all came in within 1 minute of each other.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Music Video of the week - Asia

Former YES guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Geoff Downes, combined with Carl Palmer(as in Emerson, Lake, and Palmer)on drums and former King Crimson vocalist John Wetton came together in the early '80's. The group went though NUMEROUS line-up changes since but the original 4 are back together.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Heartland KC Cup Race.......FINALLY!

The weather finally cooperated with the Heartland Race crew and we got a race in BEFORE the storms hit. We had plenty of rain in the area over the last week, but fortunately the trails at Landahl Park dry out amazingly fast. The course was slick but still had perfect traction. The rocks were a bit slick in spots but nothing too crazy. Since so many races in the area have been rained out, EVERYBODY within a 3 hour drive came to get this one in. A slight change to the Expert payout altered my race stategy. An increased cash payout was going to the top 5 experts overall instead of paying out 100% in each of the age groups. All the Expert age groups started in mass, making for a crazy first 1/4 mile. The course goes straight into the first single track climb. I knew the traffic jam going in there would be terrible, I made sure I hit the climb leading. This feat is easier said than done with guys like Kent McNeil, Steven Jarrett, Aaron Elwell, Top Price, Cameron Chambers, and Jay Chesterman just to name a few. I hit the climb first and kept the pressure on trying to force an initial selection and thin the front group out. Cameron Chambers Aaron Elwell and Steven Jarret stayed with me and we came though together after the first lap. Kent McNeil was with us till he flatted. Cameron took off at the start of lap 2 and Elwell and Jarrett came by me to go after him. Cameron was soon gone but I stayed with Elwell and Jarrett up the main climb on lap 2 before I started to slow. The heat and humidity were brutal and I figured it safe to conserve something for the last 2 laps. I did a perfect high-speed crash on lap 2 but nothing major and only lost a few seconds. Jay Chesterman was a little ways behind me for a lap or so but drifted back out of sight. I solo'd all of lap 3. Lap 4 was uneventful , till I passed a cramped-up Cameron Chambers on the climb. Kent McNeil, easily one of the fastest guy around here, was charging back after his first lap flat. He had been fighting his way through the traffic for almost the entire race and started to catch me near the finish. Coming down the final single track, I could hear him moving up past the slower traffic not far behind me. I kept the pace up as much as I could to avoid getting him on my wheel. He would have easily got me in a sprint so I avoided that and finished a few scant seconds in front of him for first in the 30-39 Expert group and 3rd fastest time overall.

Yes, I stole the 2 pics off of Mark Savery's blog !

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Commuting and the Tuesday Night Crit

For those of you that were out there last nite, it just goes without saying. I could have used a diving mask and snorkel. I managed to hang in there till just before the bell lap. Not bad considering I rode to work and back Monday and Tuesday (18 miles each way), and was on my usual single-ring cross bike with 32's. I appreciated the extra rubber in the turns once there was standing water in them. No crashes! Everyone was going through the turns fairly fast since nobody had any braking to speak of. I took that flyer for those first few laps before the rain started. Felt OK but I paid for that about 40 minutes later. The rain actually let up towards the end but hit me with a vengenace on the 15 minute ride home. Didn't matter at that point, once you're that wet, you can't get wetter.