Monday, May 29, 2006
3/25 Charge Pond Training, Plymouth, MA RD
4/23 Adelphia Gran Prix, Plymouth, MA RD
5/13 Sterling Classic Road Race, Sterling, MA RR
5/21 MMBA #1, Camden MTB
5/29 Memorial Day Classic, Kennebunkport RR
6/3 Lake Auburn Road Race, Auburn RR
6/4 Great Falls Criterium, Auburn CRT
6/11 ROOT 66/EFTA, Topsfield, MA MTB
6/18 NORBA Nats, Mt. Snow, VT MTB
6/25 MMBA #2/EFTA, Biddeford MTB
6/29-7/2 Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic Stage Race
7/9 Mt.Washington Practice RD
7/16 MMBA #4, Camden MTB
7/30 MMBA #5/EFTA, Pownal MTB
8/19 Mt. Washington Hillclimb, Gorham, NH RD
8/20 MMBA #6, Sugarloaf MTB
8/26 Saco Crit, Saco CRT
8/27 SMCC Road Race, TBA RR
9/1-4 Green Mt. Stage Race, VT STAGE
Monday, May 22, 2006
MMBA #1 Maine Sport Mayhem, Camden
1st Expert Vet I
My first official mountain bike ride of 2006 began on race day! The monotonous rain here in Maine has limited all of my riding to the road thus far. To top it off, my Aegis ProAxe had not been built up yet so I had no real mountain bike anyway. Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication, the bike wasn’t ready for the race either.
So, it was back to good ol’ Surly 1x1, this time fully rigid, no frills!
My pre-race attitude was less than positive. I was going with Plan-B bike and I was not confident in my bike handling ability. I had plans to pre-ride the course on Saturday, but it became too problematic to get out there. I was definitely going into the race green.
The course was a 2+mile technical loop, 90% singletrack. Despite the recent rains, the course was I would say 90% rideable. The 10% was heinous, hike-a-bike mud sections that stuck to everything like Play-dough. I forced myself to do a 1-lap pre-ride just to see what I was in for. That pretty much sucked any hope I had for a fun day right out of me. My hands were instantly tired and I struggled with bike handling. I finished the lap with 5 minutes to spare for my start and was 3-deep on the line. Although all week I said it was imperative to get a good starting spot (which Babs hasn’t made me forget!), I wasn’t too concerned about it having merely “survived” my pre-ride. I rationalized I just wanted to finish and earn any points possible.
The start was super-sketchy as it was a mad dash though a grass field with trees to a 2-bike width gulley, to a parking lot, to singletrack, to a run-through-the-mud-pit. Everything you could ever want in a Maine mountain bike race! I rubbed elbows and shoulders, but kept it upright and just tried to hold my spot once in the woods and settle in. The first lap was easily the most fatiguing. We were all riding above our ability in an effort to keep from getting passed. Meanwhile, the tension keeps you from focusing on riding smoothly and you end up slipping up and getting passed anyway. Luckily, I simply held my spot and waited for opportunities to pass others and make my way through the field. Things strung out about mid-way through the lap and I set out to find my rhythm, content to ride behind people who were smooth on the course so I could mirror their lines. As the laps progressed, it was obvious others were fading while I felt fairly consistent, not pushing too hard. Converse to probably most people’s strategy; I pushed the easy sections as it was recovery enough for me to not have to battle the bike versus the mud, roots, and rocks and made significant time. I kept telling myself I have the middle fitness that is speedy and the glue that keeps the high end accessible when needed. I think it’s what the tempo workouts really have helped build. I passed people right through the final lap and was just starting to fatigue at the end.
I was pleasantly surprised with the finish. Things happen for a reason, and I’m convinced the Surly was the right bike for the event. I didn’t have drivetrain issues like many others, and after a couple of laps, was comfortable in the cockpit. Sure, a suspension fork would have been nice, but if you don’t think about it, you don’t know what you’re missing!
I had great fan support from Drake and Fenix and Babs was crucial in the feed zone.
Drake kicked off his race season as well, finishing third after waiting for his fellow competitors after they tipped off their bikes. You gotta love 5 year-old sportsmanship; we should all follow their example.
Fenix completed his first race in the 2+ category! Dad was a little tired after his race so he couldn’t push him as fast as the others! He took 1 tumble, but got back on and pedaled across the finish line. I think he’s hooked too!
It's all about the prizes!
It was a fun family outing thanks mostly to Babs, the ultimate team manager!.
Next up is the Cape Able Memorial Day Classic.
Monday, May 15, 2006
I got in a little racing in conjunction with my 20th class reunion celebration at Lawrence Academy this past weekend. The fam and I headed to Groton, MA on Friday for a class dinner and stayed the weekend at a hotel in Devens (the former Fort Devens).
It was great to get back to see old classmates and teachers. But, as the saying goes: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” It rained the day of our graduation back in 1986 and the ceremony had to be held in the gym. 20 years later, same result: RAIN!
Luckily Saturday morning (race day) held fairly intermittent showers, but it was below 50 degrees and the roads were very wet already, making it a fairly unmemorable experience overall. Ironically, I was talking with Andrew Freye the other day about his race experience at the NORBA National out West. His demise was the opposite kind of weather. Hot, sunny conditions were the theme for his day, not the type of riding environment he’d been accustomed to having trained in Maine all spring. For me, the weather was typical on Saturday, cold and wet!
I had a very limited warm-up due to my preference to stay dry as close to race time as possible. The course was an 8 mile roller and my group did 3 laps. We had a rolling neutral start up the finish-line hill then hit some rolling backroads that became very narrow at times and with the yellow line enforced, we could only feasibly go 3-wide.
I decided to not use eyewear sacrificing comfort for visibility. I’m not sure that was a good call as I quickly got sand in me eye and it was very difficult to stay on someone’s wheel as the spray came right up into my face.
After failing to ride strategically at my last road race, I was eager to go hard from the gun, but I also wanted to be smart this time. I rode at the front the entire race to make sure I went with anyone that went off the front. I tested the group on the second lap and put in a hard pull at the front, to assure myself I would at least get a workout in. the pack was pretty tight and it was evident I would not be able to go solo as there were no challenging climbs to accelerate on. On the final lap, a few of us took off and tried to organize a paceline to get away, but the pack kept us in check and we were too scattered. The final mile plus was on a 2 lane major road and we were able to use the right-hand lane plus the breakdown lane. I was mid-pack on the left side with some room to move up front quickly if I saw anything develop. However, I sensed this wasn’t the ideal position so I drifted until an opening emerged and made my way to the breakdown lane. Normally this wouldn’t make sense, but it turns out it was timely as a rider went down hard near where I was. Evidently he slid out into the opposite lane, good thing a car wasn’t coming!
So I rode the curb and sat behind a guy I’ve seen before and knew was good. The road bended slightly to the right then hard right uphill to the finish. A guy went off about 200 yards from the finish and it was chase time. I was about 7th at the foot of the hill but put the head down and went as hard as I could and picked off a couple for 5th. The hill certainly didn’t seem that long the other 2 laps!
I’m pleased with the result as I feel like I was patient, I learned more about strategy, and I got a decent workout in and placed well in a sprint. My first mountain bike race is next weekend. I haven’t even ridden my ProAxe yet so it should be interesting to say the least!
The Victory continues to become more and more an extension of me.