Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Middle Mountain Momma XXC at Douthat report

Dateline- May 3rd 2009, Location- Douthat State Park, Event- Middle Mountain Momma XXC, Forcast- Showers and T-storms. This was my first mountain bike race of the year. 40 miles of beautiful trails at Douthat. The T-storms never arrived, but the showers turned into heavy steady rain. The XXC race was delayed for an hour while the park authorities decided if they would even allow a race with the rain and rising waters. In the end, the XXC was on but the 20 mile races were cancelled.

Even with the rain, there were more than 40 people in the race. The start is a 4-5 mile climb, that really spreads out the riders. This is followed by a long steady downhill to a fire road. This is where I realized that I had made a huge mistake. I had set my bike up to be as light as possible, which means that I was using the tubeless wheels with V-brakes. When rain was in the forcast, I should have switched to disc brakes. After the first downhill, the dirt, mud, and gritty grime had destroyed my brakes. By the time I was heading back down to the park, about 30 miles in, I had adjusted the the brake as much as I could and could pull the levers until they bottomed out against the handlebar and still could not stop. Finally I had to stop, get out the tools, and tighten the cable at the brakes. Now all I had was the plastic of the brake pad frame running against the wheel, but I could at least slow down when I needed to.

The only thing worse than the pouring rain and mud being slung in my eyes and all over me, was the soft sticky mud on the double track. It was very difficult for single speeders. Only the geared bikes, in granny gear, could ride through this stuff. It was a soul crusher. I felt like it would never end. On the last mountain, I got a second wind and probably made up some time.

In the end, it was still a good day. Allen placed 11th and I think I may have been around 15th. We cut an hour and a half off last years time, even with the conditions. I could have had a better time if I had used disc brakes and I had some chain issues, but overall I was happy with my performance. The rain continued all day and as soon as people finished, there were told to move there cars because the bridge going to the start/finish area was about to be covered by water.

Now it's time to get ready for the Fat Tire Frenzy in Bedford on May 16th, The Central Va Bike Festival century on May 17th, and the 24 hour Burn on May 23rd and 24th.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Angels Race Tri report

April 26, 2009, Angels Race sprint triathlon, Lynchburg, Virginia.

This was second time I had participated in this race or any triathlon. Last year I felt that I had done well for a first timer. This year I felt like I was in better shape. I had been doing a lot of road riding when it was too wet to mountain bike. I had not, however, been swimming in the pool since last year's tri. My swim time was so slow last year, I figured it could not get worse.

This year, the weather called for temperatures in the 90's. A huge difference than the 40's of last year. As usual, I had over an hour and a half after the first starters before I would begin. Jess and I walked down to the first left hand turn on the bike course. Here we could see the first people go out on the ride. Soon it was time to get ready to swim.

I was dreading the pool, but I knew it would not be long before I was on the bike. I actually got a few full laps before I had to slow down to catch my breath. This year I did not get passed in the water like last year, I managed to pass a few people. At least I was not freezing in the first transition like last year. I got my bike gear on and headed out. If I were serious about tri's I would invest in shoes that I could slip on easier and not need socks for. Luckily I did have a better bike this year. I had been riding a old Trek 1000 with downtube shifters. Early this Spring, I bought an '07 Lemond Alpe D'Huez. There were many people on the road that were faster swimmers, but not fast on the bike. I was passing someone every couple minutes. Soon I was facing the big climb back into Lynchburg. I was lucky enough not to be behind anyone on the bridge where passing was not allowed. I passed a couple more on Main and the second short climb. I had an average speed of about 21.5 mph.

I had a fairly quick second transition and was soon out on the run. My legs felt like jello. I felt like walking many times on the run course, but I kept going. The toughest part was the two block steep uphill on ninth street. At the top I saw Allen, who had ridden his mountain bike down to the race to cheer me on, he was now barefoot and there to run the last few blocks with me. He helped to push me to the end. We sprinted the last 100 yards to pass two other runners.

After cooling off in the water sprayer tent and getting my stuff packed up, we waited for the awards. I like to stay and cheer the winners even when I'm not getting anything. To my great surprise, I was called for second place in my age division (35-39). Somehow I had taken a minute and a half off my swim time and I was 3 minutes faster on the bike. My run was almost the same as last year.

The Angels Race is extremely fun. I would recommend it to anyone wanted to challenge themselves. I will do it again next year. I've thought about possibly doing some others later in the year, if it has a pool swim. I don't want open water.