Monday, March 08, 2010
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The last race of the season proved to be a success for both Sam and me. Perfect weather and trail conditions greeted riders today for a great race. When we arrived Brendan Moore was on his way to winning the MN State Single Speed Championships, a decision he made 2 days prior to the event in competing. It was training for his upcoming National 24 hr Championships in Moab. At the line Chris Anderson announced that the race would consist of a prologue lap plus 4. Everyone was thinking prologue plus 3 due to what was posted on line. We were in for a long day. Hollywood got the hole shot as usual with me on his wheel and Brendan behind me. I took over when we hit the forest ski trails and pulled for a bit and was thinking I shouldn't be on the front. I moved over and motioned for someone to pull through. Brendan said "sorry Eric". So Lance Beuning took the pull into the single track. After the prologue it was Lance, Brendan, Luke Nelson, Sam, me, and Justin Rienhart going into the single track. We all stuck together for a while until a nasty swampy section that had rocks and roots strewn all over the place. It was tough to manuever through it and gaps started to open up. Sam and Brendan got around Lance somewhere and Luke and I were behind Lance within 15 seconds. Luke pulled a good first lap and we had eventually passed Lance. Sam and Brendan were up a little further I'd say within 30 seconds. Luke let me take the lead starting the 2nd lap and I was hesitant because I thought we were managing a good pace and I didn't think I could beat Luke's enduro motorcycle skills. Once I got around and found my rhythm though I was railing the corners pretty good and I had good power out of the corners and kick on the short punchy hills. I slowly built a gap between myself and Luke. When I came through the field to start the third lap I couldn't believe I was catching Brendan. I was about 100 meters from him going into the single track. He put up a good fight for the first 1/3 of that lap but I caught him in the nasty swampy section and he let me past when we exited it. I glanced through the woods for a split second as we were weaving through the woods to see Luke hit a rock and go OTB. I was pretty excited to be in second place since this is only the second time its happened for me. Just like every race I always try to ride the single track as efficient as possible and stay focused. If you push it just a little bit you start making mistakes and you end up losing time. The closest I got to within Sam is like 30 seconds. The whole last lap Sam put time into me and I was starting to slow down. The first incident happened just before the swampy section when my forearm hit a tree hard, and for a while it was painful to brake with my left arm. I have a bump on my tendon right now. Then just after that as a result of a painful forearm I tried to hop up a big boulder and descend down a narrow ramp but my front tire slipped off and I caught myself with my left leg. Many racers know that when you have been just using the biking muscles in a race and when your reflexes suddenly make a different muscle move it cramps up tighter than a drum. Oh, the pain! I managed to run the bike trough some of that nasty section just because it was hard to remount and it was probably just as fast. I shifted down to the middle ring for a bit just to spin the legs out and see if cramping was going to be an issue but I didn't feel any threatening. Even after losing some time there I couldn't see anyone catching me. Then I had another incident with about 1/3 lap to go. I came out of a corner or something and a root bounced me sideways and the next thing I know I'm hanging off the back of my bike and side swiping a big pile of cut brush on the side of the trail. I was like, what the heck was that all about. Seriously, in this single track, one split second lapse in concentration and your bush wacking through the woods. I always think of it like the Star Wars speeder bikes. To be able to hold down some serious power and be snapping the bike back and forth through the woods is one of the greatest feelings in mountain biking. Anyway, I held out to the end and picked up 2nd place. Sam had a winning time of 2:15 which is pretty long for a winning time in a mtb. Some guys were out there for 3hrs. Chris Anderson felt a little bad so he offered all elite riders a free beer and slice of pizza afterward. Good times all around and I don't think anyone complained about the extra lap. Overall in the season its: Brendan Moore 1st, Sam 2nd and me 3rd. I'm pretty sure we took over the top spot for team competition too. On a side note Jack Hinkens and Jesse Rients were not present. If they were, Jesse I believe would just have to finish to take 3rd spot overall, and Me and Jack would have a battle for 4th and 5th. I would have liked a duo between Jack and myself but thats the way it goes. We'll have to take it to the cross races for the rest of the season. Thanks to Anderson and all the volunteers for putting on another great race. Until next year, that is it for mountain biking.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
A Long Weekend.
Round 1: It had been raining up in Seeley for the past 2 days and things were muddy in a few spots but the course was in pretty good condition. When I arrived it was 48 degrees with clouds and drizzle. It pretty much stayed that way the whole day. Upon arrival I also smelled anti-freeze. I checked the reservoir and it was empty, "crap!" The last thing you want during a race is something like this in the back of your mind. Jay Richards knows what I'm talking about. I decided I'll deal with it after and tried to block the thoughts of maybe not getting home. The start was one of the slowest mtb starts I've ever experienced. Everyone was content with getting somewhat of a warm up on the pavement before entering the double track. I was sitting about 6th wheel behind H'wood and Jeff Hall. Hollywood went to the front up the steeper pavement grade to lead us up to the entrance of the trails. I was feeling within my limits for the first few miles still holding 6th wheel (TJ Woodruff, Jeff Hall, Tim Swift, Chad Sova, Matt Muraski, myself) but when TJ and Jeff turned the screws a bit harder on the climb after we crossed back over the pavement I was off the back. No one was on my wheel either and as usual I was in no mans land for a long time. I put it in TT mode and rolled the ski trail sections as smooth as I could. That was for like the first 45 min of the race or so. When I entered the first time through the single track I was gaining on a rider. It took me almost a whole lap to reel him in. It was Matt Muraski. I sat on his wheel for a couple min thinking I could just sit in for a bit and recover, but when I looked back, to my amazement, I caught a glimpse of the orange off a Ski Hut jersey (I later found out it was Mike Bushy putting in a stellar ride with Nikolai Anikin) I had to up the pace so I attacked going into a single track section. Matt never came with so I just kept trying to get myself some time. Somewhere on the second time around the singletrack loop I caught Chad Sova. "I was wondering when you were going to catch me" he said as I rode past. I just kept going because a: I didn't want to have to sprint at the end with anyone, and b: I didn't want the group behind to catch up. The last 2 miles are the longest in that race. Probably because its posted. The race goes by so much faster if you don't know the mileage but only refer to the different sections. Idk maybe its just me. Anyway, when I got on to the gravel finishing straight which is what a half mile or so, I could see Tim swift but he was to far to catch so I rolled across in 4th 42 sec. behind. Chad and Nikolai behind me made up some ground because they were only 12 sec behind me. 25 miles in 1:43.04. I think TJ and Jeff set a new course record of 1:38.05. TJ won by .8sec. Good fun race though and I broke even on gas and entry fees.
Photos taken by Lisa Humphrey
Ok now for the exciting ride home. Tom Gaier (race director and friend) gave me some jugs of water to keep the radiator full. I made it from Seeley to Siren before the temp gauge started to rocket up and overheat. This is where everything went south on me. If I was up to speed like above 50mph the needle would be steady on normal but as soon as I would slow down for a town it would overheat. As soon as I saw the needle take off I'd shut the engine off and pull over. I would sit for about 10 min and let the car puke anti-freeze all over, and cool off a bit. This happened about 8 times or so. The best was when I was going down 35 just south of Forest Lake. Right when the needle went up I was just coming to a rest stop turn off, so I put it in neutral and turned the engine off,and made a silent entry and a perfect landing. My mechanics house was closer than my house so I just drove it straight there and parked it. I finally got home at about 6:30 or 7. I then had to unpack and pack at the same time, getting ready for today.
Round 2: Up at 5am again. Sam surprisingly wanted to go down to the race today so he drove Floyd and me down in his company van.
Side note: Sam finished up 24 hrs of Afton on a relay team yesterday so he only got like 7 hrs of sleep since friday. Also, Jack Hinkens showed up today for the JR state road race championships after doing 24 hrs of Afton on a relay team himself. He even won the road race. P.S- Sam also roller skied a bit when we got back and is now cutting the lawn. What an animal.
Ok back to the State RR. I made my debut back to the road scene at this one. The last road race I did was Memorial weekend of 2008 at the 1st annual Duluth Classic Stage Race. This was another cold start. I was shivering and teeth chattering on the roll-out. It was a neutral start up to the top of the main climb which was also the finish. This was a really flat course with only the 2km climb up to the lap/finish line. We had 4 laps of 18 miles (72 miles) to do. and I was feeling good for the first 2-3 laps. On the climb I was doing just fine when guys were breathing heavily and pushing squares next to me. Nothing got organized and the flyers were coming back quick so I just stayed in the pack most of the time knowing it would come down to the final climb (I did chase down one flyer near the end of the 3rd lap with another teammate). There was one super fast descent down to the river valley and I clocked a 51mph max speed, bummer that there was a 90 degree corner at the bottom we had to brake hard for. One of the Behind Bars racers snapped his chain in front of me when we accelerated out of the corner. Thank God that the chain didn't get caught in his wheel or that may have been a close call for me. Somewhere during the final lap I just wanted to take a nap. I could tell I wasn't all there. The wind was blowing harder and the surges were getting more aggressive which meant for a higher alertness and more effort to keep a good position out of the wind. On the approach to the final time up the hill I was in the position I wanted. About 6 wheels from the front and on the outside of the road so I wouldn't get boxed in. A few hundred yards before the 90 corner entrance onto the hill a small group surged and I thought that was the ticket so I went. I had the cardio to go faster but my legs were sending me signals that they were going to blow. I was holding on for dear life the 1st km. My legs were starting to ping and I thought I was going to see the whole peleton ride by, I had to drop off the pace a bit and I watched my chances pull away. That is a bad feeling. Apparently everyone behind me was feeling the same too. When that last 1/2 km kicked up a bit I just stood up and mustered everything I could. 6 guys were ahead of me and I was slowly gaining back up a little to a few of them but it was too late and I rolled in 7th overall 14sec off the winner. I know of at least 2 guys ahead of me that are from out of state, so I was at least the 5th Minnesotan across the line. It was a little disappointing because I know I had the legs this week to win that thing. Oh well, good training, right? I'll call it a weekend with 100 miles of racing in my legs.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
MNSCS #6 Hillside Park
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Plenty of pain to go around today at Red Wing. A few major changes to the course this year. In years past we just went around one field for the prologue but this year they added another field before entering the first single track section. In years past they also just had one of the 2 major climbs in the area to go up, this year we had to climb both of them. They also added a steep section at the end of the lap before the finish to add insult to injury. There was a few more little sections of new stuff that was in there as well.
Off the line I got on Brendan's wheel in second and stayed there. The prologue was extra long this year before going into the single track, but the pace Brendan set didn't seem over the top. I was a little reluctant going in in 2nd wheel because I didn't want to slow down Sam and Jack if Brendan built a gap. Surprisingly I did a good job staying with Brendan for the first half of the lap that is until we hit the hills. Sam Jack and Eric Thompson went around me when we hit the first major climb. I held my own and didn't let too big of a gap go out. After a downhill section and hill traverse we hit the "Stairway to Heaven" which is a super rocky and steep ascent. What makes this climb hard is the big rocks and lack of a "good" line up it. There is just no main line up the thing at the top when it kicks up and your forced to power over loose rock.
All four were in sight still but that was it. Sam, Brendan, and Jack broke away leaving Eric and I to have our battle. After the first lap I was feeling it and I had to back it down for a while.The second lap Eric put a sizeable gap on me, about 1:32 at one point according to Floyd.
After I let myself recover for a bit I started feeling better and was being more efficient through the tight single track. There was a group chasing me that I marked going into the 2nd lap but they dropped back on the 3rd lap. Eric abandoned his chase for the leaders during lap 2 and I started gaining the time back. When I started the final lap I caught Eric in the open fields of the prologue and rode past him. The last thing I wanted was to have Eric with me for a sprint, so I tried to put as much time on him in the technical single track. Mid way through the lap and before all the climbs my legs were sending me signals, very bad signals. The cramping had begun. I dropped out of the big ring and tried to spin as much as I could. I was just praying that my legs would be able to make it up the climbs without Eric catching me. I made it up the first major climb albeit slowly but at least I wasn't on the side of the trail screaming in pain and my legs disabled. Tom Rinehart gave me half a bottle near the top which might have saved me from total lock up. I hit the stairway to heaven hard to get enough momentum to take me as far as I could. I rode the first 3/4 but didn't even attempt the tops steep kick up. I was running a hair thin line in having my calves and quads lock up but I made it. On my way over to the quarry descent I look behind me to see an expert rider I didn't recognize. When he came up I asked if he wanted to pass, "No your faster through the single track than me, I am just making my time on the climbs". "What's your name", I ask. "Adam Swank", he says. Ah, that explains it I think to myself. Adam is a pro xc skier I know he was on the Subaru team and don't know if he still is, all I know is those xc skiers have some crazy fitness. I descended into the quarry leading him but let him buy when we started to climb out since I had to run that one too.
I did hold off Eric in the end even running on damage control but still I was one hurting unit when I crossed the finish line in 5th overall with a time of 2:14 Brendan and the front trio creamed me. Brendan took the win and Sam in second and Jack in 3rd. Sam and Brendan were over 8 min ahead of me, that was kind of disappointing. I guess I can't complain since I'm going to school and working. My training will be more consistent after school is over in 2 weeks, AND we are planning a trip to Colorado early to mid August and I can work on my climbing there. Peace!
Photos courtesy of Bruce at www.skinnyski.com
Monday, July 06, 2009
Chippewa Valley Firecracker
Couldn't ask for nicer weather for this race. Mid 70's and dry air is not very common this time of year. A hand full of MN riders made it over for the race: Kyia Anderson, Todd McFaden, Jesse Rients, Jack Henkins, Eric Thompson, Paul Hanson, Berry Tungseth and Trent Warner to name a few. Sam and I both felt a bit lazy when we arrived, besides it was a holiday weekend and we were at a race. I have learned over the years however that this feeling is a good sign for both of us. Sam crashed out of this race the last time we did it at the start and the year before that I crashed out in the first 100 yards, so Sam's goal was to just get through the start and get away from sketchy riders.
Sam and I were sitting 2nd or 3rd row at the start and getting a bit nervous now. The start was a long drag race to the single track about a mile and a half down some double track and a service road. There were a few tight 90 degree corners where you'd go from all out to a crawl, back to full throttle. I stayed on the outside (lesson learned from when I crashed) and was not pushing it too hard to the first 90 degree corner. But sometimes something just clicks on when you see an opportunity. A lane opened up in front of me and I took it, next thing I know I'm making my way up the field. The worst thing was the dust. It reminded me of Ore-To-Shore where your stuck in a big line of riders and you can't see the riders or the trail in front of you. You just hope to God know body crashes in front of you or you don't hit a rock or rut off guard and spin your front tire out. I was doing pretty good and wasn't too worried about making drastic moves going into the singletrack which is important for everybody. I went in behind Berry Tungseth and Sam was right behind me. We were I'd guess around 15th or so. I used the first couple singletrack sections to ease into the race a bit and started to move up when the trail ducked out of the woods. Paul made a mistake and went off trail but got back in in front of me before a stream crossing. He let Sam and I by on the next open section which was a long double track section where I could slow roll a low gear which is always fun. I can't remember who else we passed, there are a lot of Wisconsin riders I don't know and the first lap was kind of a blur. Coming around on lap 2 in the open field section we could see a couple groups ahead that weren't too far off which is always a boost mentally. I remember a small gap between the groups and it must have been where Sagar and the Lelondes took off from the rest of the group. We caught Seth Lenss (I think that's who it was) and he stayed with us for a while and made some moves to try and get away but he fell off up a climb on the double track when we caught Jesse Rients I think. Its like taking a Gu for the brain seeing a rider being shelled and your gaining on them. Over the next couple laps, guys were getting shelled off the chase group, Seth and Jesse were the first followed by Mike Phillips and Eric Thompson. Sam and I worked together the whole race. When I needed a break he would pull and vice versa. It was working out well. Having someone else with you also keeps you from being complacent. In no mans land sometimes I forget I'm racing, and I find myself going slower than I should. Anyway, we both were doing good in the singletrack which flowed really nice. I don't think I'm of singletrack ninja status yet but I'm close. I dinged a couple trees with my shoulder on the same spot but no crashes and we just stayed smooth and efficient. At the end of each lap there was this "Dr Jekle and Mr Hyde section which consisted of some tight 180 switchback berms down a descent into a huge rock quarry that you had to climb out of. Sam and I ran it each time not risking a flat tire from the sharp rocks and we can run pretty fast. Sam let me lead and I hate to say it but, he said he would let me win. I'm sure he could have rode away from me at some point during the race but it would have been hard for him and its not a MN series race so anyway, I can't end it w/o a sprint for the crowd so I gave it all my gears and came in 8th overall. We took 2nd and 3rd in the elite class since we decided not to take the pro license when they made the category changes this year. Neither of us wanted to cough up $150 for a license when payout is overall anyway. So there you have it. Great race on a great day. Thanks to Don and all the volunteers at WORS for making racing possible.
P.S. I have to give special mention to Jack Hinkens. Sam and I were all done cleaning up and packed and decided to go get the water bottle stands down on the end of the course.Everything was over and the venue was starting to be taken down even, so we walked down there got the stands and as we were about to the car walking back Sam yells "Hey Eric look who's coming". Up out of Dr Jekle and Mr Hyde emerges Jack on his way to the finish. He was shot. I guess he had 2 flats and bonked but still wanted to finish even when he was the last one on the course, now that's the mountain biker attitude. He looked like he was going to fall asleep on his bike so we gave him a Gu with 2x caffeine and told him to get some water. It was a character building race for him. I'm sure this will be one of his survival stories he's going to tell years from now.
Monday, June 15, 2009
This post starts way back to 2 weeks ago at Afton where I got my butt handed to me. It was the worst I have ever felt in a race. My legs were worthless and I should have quit but I pushed through and I think it did a lot of damage. For over a week my legs felt the same, I would get lactic acid build up below my normal threshold thus reducing my power dramatically. I was not spinning the same gears I was earlier in the season. So, after my poor Ride and Glide time trial last Tuesday, I decided to either take the day off or go for an easy short spin from wed- sat. When Sat rolled around, I went for my ride that would prepare me for Sundays race and I felt like the legs were coming back. I found myself spinning the gears I wanted to be in.
Sunday was hot at the start and Mt Du Lac boasts one of the hardest starts in the series; 2 steep kickers right off the line to get the heart rate maxed out. I had a slow start which I expected since I hadn't done any climbing or intervals in the last 2 weeks, my plan was to ease into this one. So I eased into around 10th place going into the single track at the top of the hill behind Devin, TIm Norrie, Jake Richards, Chris Fisher and Scott Kylander- Johnson (order from me to up the trail). Devin crashed 1/4- 1/2 way in and I sat on Jake for a while. I lost my water-bottle on a descent at this point so I had no water the first lap (this will take its toll at the end). At the bottom of the main descent I passed Jake and quickly made it up to Fisher. Oh boy, the legs are starting to kick in at this point. I caught Scotty at the bottom of the big climb and slowly made my way around him as I ascended. Half way up was my water bottles which was a relief as I chugged half a bottle. Laps 2 and 3 were pretty much the same. I was feeling the flow of the sweet single track and I was spinning a nice gear staying smooth and letting the full suspension do its magic. Sam, Brendan, Jack and Jesse were a ways up the trail battling it out but I had my own war going on and there was no way I was going to catch them. I was growing the gap on Scott through the single track and the climbs but he has mad motocross handling skills and would make up time on the descents. I found out later that he had cramping issues on the big climb too. He came close to bridging back up but he dropped off quick in the bottom section single track. Anyway halfway through the final lap I marked Scotty and Tom Miller charging through the single track. I knew I couldn't slack off so I kept telling myself that I had to keep it going and run scared. Miller was finishing super strong. Remember that bottle that jumped ship on the first lap, well on the final climb before descending to the finish line the inevitable happened. PING! one more pedal turn and my inner thighs were going to lock up tighter than a drum. Let me tell you, total muscle cramps are one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. Lucky for me it was not a primary muscle used for running so I ran as fast as I could up the rest of the climb and didn't look back. Scotty later told me that Tom came around him and hammered up that last climb like it was the start, and I was the weak little carrot teasing him up the hill. I remounted at the top of the hill and navigated the slick grassy switchbacks w/o any problems and bombed the downhill straight before the 180 turn which led up to the finish. As I was bombing down the hill I snuck a glance back and saw Tom about 100 yards back. CRAP! Yea, I came into the 180 degree corner hot and ran out of talent. Boom! down I went sliding across the grass. I quick get back on but my chain fell off. I frantically shift my derailluer down and try to spin the chain back on while Tom comes up along side of me. Tom, the good sportsman that he is, doesn't capitalize on my misfortune and lets me win the sprint. Thanks Tom.
Well that's my race. I had a great time and the single track was perfect. Most fun I've had this year in a race. Thanks Coggs and everyone that volunteered to help put this race on.