Thursday, November 28, 2013

2014 Race Schedule

Putting together a racing calendar for next year.  Here's what's shaping up...

Jan 18 – mcdowell meltdown
March 16– mcdowell 40 (unless I’m skiing)
March 29th – mcdowell relay (had fun last year…perhaps howard and stuart could ride later, and avoid getting lost…)
April 26ish – Whiskey 50
May 16-18 – Moab trip with the boys
July 5 – Fire Road Cedar City Utah LT100 qualifier, if necc.
August 9 – LT100 (yes, I want the big buckle)
Sept 6 – Barnburner (LT 100 qualifier..and I want the big buckle in that race too)
Nov 8 – iceman

Let's see if this all happens...

Man vs mountain

This week I went out for a ride with some friends to South Mountain Park in Phoenix.  I suspected Randy would choose the Mormon/National Loop.  I had never ridden in South Mountain, but National is pretty infamous for it's epic descent.  I am not a descender.  Well, I can fly down a rocky trail fast enough but National is something else entirely

So I dropped the kids off at school (the three year old knew I was up to something, as riding gear is not the usual drop-off attire), and headed to the middle of town (trails in the middle of in paradise...).  

The climb was great, and the legs were feeling good.  We were rewarded with some awesome views of the valley from Scottsdale clear to Glendale.

Stupid Photog got a shadow in the pic

Unfortunately the climb ended, and the descent began.  I was generally unhappy and mostly scared for the descent.  I also managed to gain another nice souvenir.

I left a trail...
I *did* ride another trail I had never been on before, and that was good.  Randy is officially forbidden from choosing riding destinations for a minimum of six months.  Did I mention he snapped his derailleur hangar?  That's the cycling gods exacting their penance.

A great day, because I was able to go beyond where I thought I could, and anytime you can push the limits, it's a good day!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cave Creek Cactus Classic

So I lined up a the Cave Creek Cactus Classic not really sure what to expect. I had a crappy workout on Friday, and was not quite feeling it.  Friends reminded me it was a beautiful weekend, and living in Arizona, best get out and ride!  A little more encouragement from the Iron Man and The Momma, and I had my bike in the car, headed for Cave Creek bright and early on Saturday...

I got to the desk, and Boris handed my Travis Pastrana's number...I figured that was a good sign! The route is one I am very familiar with, as it is one of the best trails around. 2 intense climbs, and wicked downhills that make your teeth rattle interspersed with sweet singletrack and just enough sand to remind you that yes, you're in the desert.  Looking up from the knobby every once in a while as the views were amazing. Life in paradise after all! (as i remind Yvonne, my paradise means riding in shorts in November...) 

Travis Pastrana's number.  Good luck?
The road roll out was a bit nervous - I avoided the two wrecks and seemed to be in the right place in the pack. The first climb is referred to as "chain breaker hill". About 1/2 way up the .3 mile 8-10% grade I found my legs and was wishing I had gone harder on the road, as I was stacking up behind a long line of riders. No worries though, this was a fun ride! I crested the climb, and followed my friend Pat Moty on the descent, going about as fast as I dared on the very rocky, bumpy, twisty track. This being Arizona, missing to the left...cactus. Miss to the right...cactus. So don't miss. 

Photo: 2 weeks in a row racing. Mud and tall pines to dust, rocks and Saguaros...
Don't Miss!  Cactus are sharp
Some wash riding and ripping flats later, I was about 2/3 of the way into the race. I was on the last big climb of the day, and was pretty spun out. I was pretty sure I would not make my goal time. I kept motivated by chasing a (very) fast woman from Bicycle Ranch, who seemed to know every great line on the route. Before long, I saw a little sign that said "uphill". It was helpful, because without it I don't know how i would have known i was indeed going straight up the side of a steep hill...clearly someone with a little sense of humor marked the course, and that is always appreciated! After the "uphill" we popped out from the trail, onto the road and the 2 mile sprint for home. 

I pulled my new friend from Bike Ranch about 2/3 of the way home, and I was finished. She jumped out, and got to the line about 5 seconds ahead of me. I feel like i did my good deed of the day. I crossed in 2:02! I was pretty psyched. 2:02 for 25 miles including some intense climbs was a heck of a lot better than I thought I would do...and I was damn happy I decided to race Saturday! 

The best part of Saturday though was supporting the grass roots race organized in Cave Creek, with the Flat Tire Bike Shop at it's heart. The Flat Tire and it's owner Kaolin are little treasures we have here in the valley, and they deserve every bit of support we can muster. Kaolin is an advocate, a racer, an awesome mechanic, and a really fantastic guy. I hope the C-4 gets big. Really big. Big enough for electronic timing...and sponsor swag. So when you have a chance to race, do it. Support your local race promoter, and put your wheel or sneaker on the start line. You never know when you'll be at the birth of the next great race

Monday, November 4, 2013

Iceman Cometh Challenge -- 2013

Iceman Cometh Challenge - 2013

20ish years ago Scott Booth and I made the trek to Traverse city to ride in iceman in it's 4th or 5th year. We had steel mountain bikes thrown on the roof rack, started the race at Kalkaska high school, ended at Mt Holiday, and rode through 3 feet of snow along the way. We were cold as hell...and a tradition was born. Iceman was my first endurance mountain bike event, and is the one I go back to every year. I managed to skip a few for getting married, the birth of Anika, and the wedding of Jason Frankena and Rebekah Wolford. But for the most part, the 1st Saturday of November means getting to Traverse City, hanging with awesome friends, thrashing the trails through 30 miles of sand, mud, and the (rare) snowstorm. The race has humbled me with 2 DNFs, 1 4:30+, and many finishes with good stories attached. 

This year was a banner year with a 2:22, Dave Hunter running a 2:21, and Conrad Wasmer running a 2:15. PRs all around, and much happiness and draining of Bell's cups at the end. we missed Cliff and Scott this year, but no doubt they'll be back 

The race was really fantastic. A magic combination rain, a little cold, and the mud and sand seemed to turn the entire course into hero-dirt. That black tacky soil that lets your tires stick no matter how hard you crank or how far you lean. I felt great. I've clearly got some fitness left over from the last race (that one in Colorado...). Riding on cloud nine as I passed multitudes huffing and puffing up climbs as I flicked the thumb for a bigger gear. I even cleaned Anita's hill. Haven't done that, ever. I was pretty convinced I was finally going to win among the little gang i ride with, but Dave and Conrad were out there having even better days. To that I say...see you on November 8, 2014! 

But this race is about so much more than hammering through the woods. Iceman is real. Iceman is 4000+ people putting their wheel on the line to see if they might make it fast enough to get some beer before the taps run dry. Iceman is great friends -- some of whom I know because of this race (yeah, that's you Hunters), kids ringing cowbells, and my home state on proud display. Iceman is a bonus Christmas where I get to see people I don't see but once a year and for 72-96 hours forget all about whatever I'm sending email about day in and day out. Iceman is Bells beer at the finish, Michigan natives beating national champions, and the smell of pines and fall leaves in the north woods. Iceman set me on a path that winds through forests, mountains, over a few passes and up a few peaks. Iceman keeps me sane, and every once in a while shows me I can do more than I think I can. and this year, they took this picture of me. awwww yeah

Showboating on the last jump