Monday, April 28, 2008

Mudslinger come and gone, my oh my

OK, I'm a lazy poster. Here I am once again relying on the keyboard skills of my team to provide substance to this here blog. I drove me self, Fergus and Csaba down to Blodgett OR for the big Mudslinger MTB wingding.

Race Day proved to show some epic conditions for a mountain bike race. We hit a big snowfall on I5 going through Salem, and arrived at the Blodgett School to find a few inches of snow on the ground.

Fergus and I were strategizing like girls before the prom about what to wear. Csaba was a man on a mission, and I was a man who couldn't decide whether to have a headband or hat/1 set of arm warmers or 2/rain shell or no/1 vest or 2/tights or knickers (oh crap! of all the clothing I brought I did not bring tights!)/glove liners or no/???? So many questions... I tend to run hot, metabolically speaking of course, so went with a stunning ensemble of light long sleeve woolie with a long sleeve Cyclisme jersey, with Ibex arm warmers and a Cyclisme vest. Down below I ran the simple Voler knickers and double wool socks in the trusty Sidi shoes. (OK, enough sponsor plugs, but I gotta pay the bills..)

I warm up a bit, and see my friend (and my kid's favorite teacher of all time) Steve Davee of Veloce. Steve was wearing about 10 layers of clothing it seemed, but I reminded myself that he's also about 1% body fat compared to my substantial layer of medically beneficial and insulative blubber (oops, I mean "body fat"). OK, so now that my red carpet review is over, on to the racing!

Wait--- here's where my energy fades (yes, like on every climb...), and we go to Csaba's race report:

-----------------------SPECIAL FIELD REPORT ! -----------------------
It was hard to gauge how to dress for this race with the chilly schizo
weather. The snow made things very pretty, like on the day in Jan/Feb
that me, Jeff, Greg, and Tony rode in Forest Park and found some snow
to play in. While I ended up being too cold waiting for the race to
start, peeling off the last layer that I did before the race turned
out to be a wise move.

I started near the front of the pack. After the start, I was
immediately at the back of a small pack of riders on the first
(shortish) gravel road climb and I couldn't hold on. By the time I
crested that pack was off a ways on the sloping road. Still, I think
I had a bit of a gap on the larger herd of riders behind me, which
came in handy when I hit the next set of longer/steeper climbs where
they caught me. I had room to ride and pick my line, etc. My
transmission was cooperative and I made it into the correct gear for
the climb. While intimidatingly steep and I nearly hopped off to push
at a few points, I surprised myself and rode that first series of
climbs. Additional encouragement came when I found that I was able to
ride some slippery singletrack sections later on as well. While I can
not yet claim blazing speed, I'm doing better at the climbing thing
than I was last year. Thanks again JB, team, and Rock Creek :-)

Disaster struck near the end of the second singletrack section maybe
1/3 of the way through the race. Steep slippery downhill with a hard
right turn across two half-buried logs leading to more gravel road. I
chose a poor line and my front wheel went out from under me on the
first log. For all the soft moss and mud on the course, I missed...
I landed hard with my hip on the second log. Very painful. A nice
gentleman took a break from racing, ran back uphill and helped me/bike
off the trail before heading off again. I lost about 5mins there
getting my wind back and trying to assess the damage. Bunch of people
went by, many of them wiping out on the same log, though with better
luck than I on landing.

The gently sloping gravel road section that was next turned out to be
ideal for testing whether I could continue riding. It turns out that
while my side/hip was plenty tender, I was lucky and didn't nail any
of the muscles I needed to turn the pedals. I only discovered this
later once I was home, but perhaps it helped that my Clif shots
cushioned the blow. What a sticky mess!

I was still taking it easy when Greg caught up with me. Sticking with
him became the carrot that I needed to see if I could increase my
pace. Of course, chasing Greg turned out to be a mixed blessing as I
followed him off course. Silly me... I couldn't figure out what
hazard it was that they had taped off as Greg and I rode by it. :-)

Back on course, I follow Greg through some more slippery singletrack.
I think Greg eventually got a ways ahead of me, though still within
sight. I eventually caught and passed him on a gravel road climb.

While injured, I was still feeling strong. That made me pissed off
because of the time I'd lost and riders that had gone by when I had
crashed. I channeled that anger into my legs and focused on picking
off as many of those riders that had gone by as I could. In the gaps
between riders, I focus on my yoga breathing and JB's disembodied
voice reminds me to keep my elbows bent and eat/drink.

It felt pretty darn good to be faster than others both on uphills
(even running with the bike in places) and downhills. Making use of
the reminder from race director MikeR at the meeting before the race,
riders were pretty good about letting me by when I called out "track".
There were a couple of downhill gravel road sections where I put it
in the big ring and got some good speed going. Although part of this
was necessity as my smallest sprockets had gotten so gunked up that my
chain would skip in those gears.

With about 1K to go according to a sign, we had a hardpacked dirt road
to climb out to the finish. I and two other riders traded positions
for that section and we finished as a cluster, though with me in the
trailing spot. I just didn't have the legs to keep with them for the
last little sprint. If the finish times can be believed, they must've
been in a different class anyway, so I wouldn't have gained anything
if I'd beaten the other two.

My race data is here:

If you search for "mudslinger" at the motionbased.

com, you'll find
several other sets of data as well.

For this race, I raced one big loop in contrast to the multiple laps
at Horning's. Mudslinger was shorter/faster. I liked/disliked parts
of each, can't really decide if I have a preference for one over the

Injury aside, I was most sore after Hornings, then POC, then
Mudslinger. It may be because I didn't push as much on Mudslinger
after I crashed. While tender, I'm feeling better than on Sunday. My
doc confirmed that I just have a bad bruise. Ice, "vitamin I", and
gentle stretching are doing their thing. Yoga felt good today.

Looks like next two MTB races are in Ashland and Bend. Jonesing for
some desert riding, so I'd probably try to get to Bend if I have to
choose one of the two.


Here's what Jim says...

Canuck, there's already a product that lets you see others' inner beauty. It's called "beer." You can get it for about $5 a pitcher, and after you run the program two or three times over the course of an evening, I guarantee you, every girl you look at will look utterly hot. It's flawless except for it totally wipes out your system memory and it's viral, the processor doesn't work right for a couple days afterwards.

There's another program that used to be called "Beer 2.0," a sketchy app that some of the geeks are trying to market as "wine." Instead of showing others' inner beauty, it lets others see your inner jackass. Like an Apple computer, it's pretty functional, possibly a little faster than the competitor, people pay *way* to much for it, and then tell you're they're hot shit because of it.

Of course if you're into Linux you may like Bourbon 1.01. It's *way* faster than beer or wine, let's you see the inner beauty of all others while showing your inner jackass at the same time - yes, true simultaneous processing! And, like a Linux disciple, if you use Bourbon 1.01, people will show you a healthy respect, almost a kind of fear, like they'd show any other marginally sane old school banger sitting alone in the corner talking derisively about "kids nowadays."

Above quote is from a comment on Bike Snob NYC. Check it out, eh?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

PIR Tuesday

Dave Wingard has been throwing down in the Cat 3/4 PIR races the past couple of Tuesdays. Maybe if a few of us show up to help we can get a Dave up on the podium a few more times?


Monday, April 07, 2008

The Hustle at Hornings

Sunday, April 6th, a motley crew of Cyclisme traveled to Horning's Hideout to race in Horning's Hustle MTB XC race, the opener of the 2008 River City XC MTB Classics Series. We're here to race hard, earn points, have fun, and win the series Team Points competition.

Here's Csaba's take on the race:
Horning's was hard but fun overall.

I think the race ran longer than last year, maybe ~3 hrs for 3 laps in
the sport class? My first lap was around 45mins, but I lost track
after that. My computer's auto-lap function went a bit wild and
tallied 20 laps by the time I was done.

I started the race in the #2 spot for the neutral roll-out. The (what
seemed like) horde of riders passing me was rather disconcerting once
the race got underway, but I had no interest in redlining just to keep
up. I chose to ride hard, but paced myself to conserve energy for the
muck I expected later on the course.

I lost contact with the pack that had gone by and focused on keeping
up with two single-speeder that were dueling it out in front of me.
It was a further disappointment to see Jeff and Greg (who had started
behind me) starting to catch up with me. I thought I was continuing
to work my way backwards through the pack. The disappointment was
replaced a bit later by some confusion as I caught up and passed first
one and then another expert rider (who'd started before me). The
confusion was because this was a new situation for me given my
performance in races in the past year or so. I'd become more
accustomed to being lapped by the experts than catching them. :-) I
decided that Jeff must be doing really well and maybe I'm not doing so
bad after all. This more positive outlook gave me the encouragement
to keep pushing hard.

While Jeff eventually passed me, I lost track of Greg, probably KO-d
by then with his mechanical difficulties. The field was pretty spread
out at this point. There were times when it felt like I was riding
all alone, which was great for picking lines through the really
sketchy sections. I only had one mishap, when my front tire slipped
out from under me and I slid into a tree. I wasn't going very fast
and didn't suffer any damage.

While my race plan has typically been similar to Fergus' when it comes
to fueling, I had the good fortune to park next to a slow uphill
portion of the course. I took advantage of that by leaving a cache of
water bottles next to the course, filled with my favorite sugar water.
I made sure to finish off one bottle per lap, plus gulped down the
Clif shots being handed out at the finish line on each lap. I'm
really glad I followed JB's mantra of fuelling early and often as the
race ran longer than I had expected it to.

Towards the end of my last lap, the leading experts finally did lap
me. I think the top three went by. No disappointment there though,
because I was on the home stretch by then. The best part of the race
for me was when near the end of the 3rd lap, I got to pass the rider
who had been in the #1 spot at the start, who I'd lost contact with
early on the 1st lap.

What a difference a bit of training makes. Thank you JB and teammates
for getting me out and back from Rock Creek. It was good enough for a
10th place finish, much better than my 30th last year with zero training.

BTW, I spoke with Mr. (Bob?) Horning a couple of times over the course
of the weekend. Sounds like he's thinking about opening up the trails
to riding and hiking in the summer.


Jeff and Dave didn't submit their race reports by my publishing deadline, and will be docked accordingly on their next Cyclisme paycheck. I will take the liberty though, to summarize their experiences.

Jeff: Mud, hah! This isn't mud! When I was a kid, we had real mud! Let me out there, I'll rip their legs off!!! (OK, that's me, not Jeff) Anyway, Jeff was leading our Sport 40+ group neutral start, and gave very little ground for the 2.5 hour race duration. I stuck with him (well, pretty close anyway) through the first lap and a half, knowing my only chance to pass would be if he crashed or sketched on some technical stuff. No dice, Jeff was riding fast and clean to a solid 2nd place!

I meanwhile, had a rear derailleur into the spokes problem that ended my race after about 1.25 laps.

Dave: Mud, dude, it sucks riding in this crap with my old cantilevered, crappy tired, no traction, mud velcro bomb that obviously won't let me stay on top of it, bike. (OK, that's me again, and I'm allowed artistic license here). Congrats to Dave though, for first blood drawn on the day!!

Here's Jeff's podium shot:


So now it's time to hear from Fergus:
The course was muddy. And the mud changed throughout the course. Chunky globs with pine needles in them, to a soufflé crust over hard clay on some downhills, to bright orange clay which was like peanut butter.

I had the wrong gearing for the day. I had a 2:1 ratio which vexed me before the start. Then as we got going I realized my disadvantage could be turned to an advantage. The high gearing forced me to get off more than most people and I ran a bit and walked much of the course. I passed many people while they were in their granny gears. And I was passed by many people in their granny gears (not beginner cat).

The course had steep uphills and very steep downhills which I sometimes walked or, "skied."

Ten miles shouldn't take more than an hour. Nope! Two laps took me one hour and half? I finished at 12:50 but I don't know when we launched. My point is that it took much longer than I thought. I can do without food or water for an hour. I bonked. I became lightheaded and spacy and started second guessing my speed, etc. Two thirds the way through the last lap, I passed some spectators and called out, "I'm starving!" One woman offered me a granola bar which I accepted and devoured faster than anything else I have every eaten. I only paused to inhale air, other than that I pushed that bar down my gullet like feeding a cucumber into a cuisinart. I felt so much better and then passed a guy (sport) and then there was the finish. Done. One other beginner had come in before me, but he had only done one lap. I smiled...
The training over the last months allowed me do do this. That long sustained exertion on our rides gave me an edge with the walking, running and biking over the 1.5 hours.



PS: Fergus' friend Sage, who some may remember from a Rocky Rabbit ride, placed 2nd in the beginner's women category.


Posted by Greg, with the belly ballast in full force here. Wow, it looks like I'm pregnant!