Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Big News For 2014 - The New Training Plan

Next year I'll be starting a new training program.  After a good solid base over the winter months in the traditional style (with a little CX thrown in on the SS), around the middle of March I'm going to be changing it up a bit.  The modified plan is going to likely consist of less sleep, more caffeine, and less riding time.  The exact details are still being worked out and it's going to be a very "fluid" process I'm sure.  Yeah, you might be thinking... "That doesn't sound like a very good program."  Well I'm very excited for it because of the new addition I'll have to my "pit crew" and cheering section.  Let me introduce you...

There's definitely going to be some new equipment involved as well.  And eventually some new wheel sizes... but they probably won't fit me as perfectly as my 29ers.

But having another person waiting for me at the end of a race is going to give me even more motivation to get there fast.  And we're so stoked!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Bidwell Bump All Mountain

This event didn't go so well last year.  My bike broke during the warmup so I went to my backup but started the XC three minutes late, crashed a couple times but still didn't finish last and stole a couple Strava KOM's.  In the Super D I tried to go 100% race pace while sight-reading the trail, and just about tore my elbow off.  Learned my lesson there!

So this year the main goal was "Just don't die."  - Check!

Next goal: Crush the XC and don't crash (maybe even do well?).  - Fail!  Well... partially...

Crush the climbs and pedally stuff I did.  My Tallboy LTc soaked up the rough "lava rock" climb on North Rim trail and I was off the front with a substantial lead.

I turned into the first downhill (B Trail) and was smooth but pretty conservative since most of the corners and rock drops are concealed by brush or the hill's contour.  

I probably lost 20-30 seconds to the fastest chasers.  But by the bottom I was still all by myself and I motored on down to the creek crossing, shouldered my 28lb trail rig and tried not to fall over as I forded knee high waters.  Now with wet feet it was hammer time again for a 700ft vertical gain on mostly loose fire road where it I was only one second off of last years time but on a nearly 4lb heavier bike! Sweet!  For the next few minutes I hammered down Guardians Trail singletrack which is flowy and predictable.  I turned down onto "Bloody Pin" trail and felt solid and smooth through the first few rocky switchbacks.  The trail opened up a bit and I put the pedal to the floor but lost focus on an easy right hand sweeper and washed out the front tire... slapping the dirt pretty hard.  Damn!  Goal #2 Fail.  I sprung up and remounted to find that my right shifter had dug into the ground and bent so far down I could barely reach it.  I spent the next few corners figuring it all out and beating it into the most manageable position. 

Thankfully the photographers weren't two corners higher :-).

 The last few miles of the trail were pretty frustrating without the ability to shift.  It's full of very short steep pitches with blind entry.  Without course knowledge I ended up doing way too much of this:
And I got passed with less than a mile to go by a local ripper Lowell Mourel and was beat out by about by twenty five seconds.  Dang.  At least everything was intact and I could go for a Super D pre-run with my teammate Marshall, and WTB/Cannondale riders Ben Cruz and Marco Osborne before getting my taco truck tacos.  But with short digestion time it was still sitting heavy after the shuttle to the top... I was really glad I gave my second taco to Marshall!  A mocha Clif shot aided the internal processing and I was ready to go again with a slightly "greener" helmet.
 Oh and baggies!

I was having a solid run and feeling pretty good.  Especially after getting through the section that sent me to the ER last year.  But after hammering up that climb something went really haywire in the gears.  CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! PING!  And all those other horrible noises.  The chain didn't break, the derailleur cable didn't break, but my chain was loose and dangling.  I dismounted and inspected to find that I'd lost the bolt through the front pulley wheel on the derailleur and the whole wheel was gone as well.  The was no fixing this.  So I just removed the chain and continued the 2nd half of my Super D run chainless while cheering on the guys still hammering.  Oh well!  Maybe 3rd time's a charm and better luck next year?

Marshall had a decent Super D run but crashed in a washout as well.  He said this was one of the toughest races he's ever done.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

There's Life After Downieville - Annadel XC Race Report

Cruising around town in Downieville after a mechanical failure ended my hopes for a solid All Mountain result (still ended up 13th though!), I found some motivation to keep pushing hard through August.  I had a little chat with Mr. Leipheimer and confirmed he was planning on racing the Annadel XC two weeks later.  A race I love and happened to win last year... by only five seconds over Colin Daw... who was also signed up.

So after a solid couple weeks of prep I was feeling good and ready.  The Tallboy was all shined up and looking good as well.
Both Ryan and Marshall were racing too, and beforehand I was trying to think if there was any way we could benefit from "team tactics" so to speak.  But really this race was just going to be a situation of chasing Levi and we all knew it.  Mitigate the damage on the climbs and hammer the tech sections and try to make up ground.  

It started off with the usual fast paced road start which was MUCH more well behaved this year than last.  No need to swerve into oncoming lanes to avoid cars even!  The pace seemed faster from the get-go which helped filter out some people that shouldn't be at the front.  And for me it went by very quickly, I wasn't struggling like normal and still felt like I had some kick when I could finally see the dirt at the end of the road.  So I sprinted up and entered the dirt in 3rd behind Levi and Glen Fant (I think).  I red-lined up the first few climbs and chose to dial it back a bit and recover.  So I got passed by a few, but managed to get back into third by the first descent down Cobblestone, this time with Colin Daw in 2nd.  
We were a bit spread out so I was all by myself for the next road section and undulating singletrack.  I lost a few seconds when I lost focus and my back tire kicked off a rock and sent my front wheel into a tree.  Thankfully it was slow and I didn't go over... it was just one of those "HEY! PAY ATTENTION!" reminders from the trail.  I could see Colin in the clearings up the next climb and he had about 30 seconds on me.  But by the bottom of the South Burma climb (after some good DH sections, about mile 13) I had narrowed the gap down to maybe five seconds.  Once we finally reached the top of the long Lawndale downhill I was right on him, unfortunately I didn't realize THIS was the top of Lawndale.  I should have gone for the pass but I didn't know it was the crucial spot.  Once I realized where we were, I didn't push the issue and sat in, figuring Levi was long gone anyways and the race was for 2nd.  
We took on the neutral water bottles from Camelbak and cruised Lawndale road together over to the Schulz climb where Colin sprinted to get in front.  We stayed together and when the climbing got rough and steep about half way up, I was feeling a little held up.  So I went for it where it opened up and as I got beside Colin I was in some loose rock and slipping out, expending too much energy trying to make the pass.  He looked over, saw that and attacked.  He quickly got a big gap while I needed to recover and suddenly I was all alone.  Frustrated... I picked the pace back up for Ridge trail, which is a technical undulating trail perfect for the Tallboy.  I still couldn't see Colin in the winding trees so my goal changed from trying to get 2nd to getting a sub-two hour finish time.  Suddenly I popped out of the singletrack and onto the final fire-road descent and I could see Colin up ahead!  I opened it up as much as I could, just taking the straight line over the rocks and soaking them up.  The sun/shade mix in the trees made the rocks hard to distinguish in the dust, so I had a few rim-strikes to the ENVE's but thankfully no flats and no damage.  I didn't quite catch Colin but still ended up with a time almost a minute under two hours and good enough for 3rd (about 3 1/2 minutes back from Levi).  
 It was cool to race together with Colin for so much of the course, that kind of close riding doesn't happen much in MTB racing.
And thanks to everyone who came to say hi after the race... and gave me their extra beer tickets while I waited in line... three beers for 3rd place!!! :-D