Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dirty Dawg Race Report


Dirty Dawg Race Report
Race 1 of the Series 5

First a hearty thanks to the sponsors of this race, especially CB and Wes, co-Owners of East Coasters Bike Shops and the Mountain Lake Resort for investing into XC racing. Way to go Ben, well run race. Thanks so much to all the volunteers as well. Keeping us on course, and cheering and passing out food was great.

I think it's safe to say that XC love is roaring back in Virginia. There was a great turnout on a day where the weather turned the place into an entirely different world than a few days ago.

Friday, I'd preridden the course. All the course pictures are taken from Friday. Friday night the rain rolled in. Saturday was a surreal. Mountain Lake is known for having it's own weather compared to just a few hundered feet down the mountain.

It went from this:

To This:

The rain was coming off/on. Misty. But fortunately not as cold as you'd figure for being up so high. In fact the base layer, arm warmers, light vest and full finger gloves were way overkill.

The wet weather totally changed the course. Much of it was leaf covered and the loamy soil underneath turned slick and thick. Tire selection was totally key. Some people brought racing treads that were like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Not to name names or anything (ahem..Warren)

The course also has a lot of embedded rocks. The moist conditions combined with a hundered racers depositing slick mud on them was going to make them slippery.

See here and here for a GPS map and profile of the course. (thanks to Chris for this)

I opted to lower my own tire pressure which in hindsight was a mistake. The rock sections stuck in my mind from the pre-ride, but I forget about the majority of the course that was crushed gravel road or smoother wide track.

The moist conditions turned these normally very fast conditions into that spongy consistency that sucks your energy with every pedal stroke. Lower tire pressure just ended up aggravating this condition. Higher tire pressure would have helped the tires find harder ground under the sponge.

The start was on a widish gravel path that allowed at least 3 wide. Utterly shocking the pace off the start. I'm going all out and relatively standing still compared to the front of the experts. Unreal. Everyone has a plan until they get hit. My plan was to just get to my sustainable pace. But just to stay at the rear of the pack shot that plan pretty quick.

The uphill path spread us out a little then we turned back on some seriously slick single track back to the hotel. This section was off camber with some rocks and roots mixed in. It immediately reminded me that I've become a fair weather rider in my old age. When you don't ride this stuff on a regular basis it takes some trial by fire to remind the body how to deal with it.


Faith in your bike to do what it is supposed to do.


Stay loose. Death grip+ a fist full of brakes=hitting the deck

We slid on this and popped out behind the hotel for some fast pavement to a pavement climb. This climb just brought me to a standstill. The fast pace of the start had already burned the spin out of the legs. It became difficult to get on top of the gear and turn over a good cadence.

We worked out way over to the Golf course Fire Road. This is a rocket roller coaster bumpy big ring fire road. With typically great visibility, it's still easy to get bounced off.

This was from Friday:

today visibility was only 50' or so. By far this was one of the hardest sections of the course. Fast speed with no vision combined with the tires kicking up gravel into your face. Towards the bottom there are some deep wheel tracks that can really mess you up.

This road turned into grassy bumps that took us to the some steep slick single track. SKETTTTTCHY. Faith once again. too much brake and you're down, too fast and your pinballing.

My favorite part of the course is the pink trail. It was one of the only places where I felt able to lay some power down. It was also a tube eater. There must have been 10+ people off on the side of the trail with flats. THANK YOU THANK YOU STAN (knock on wood still going good)

There was this tiny wooden foot bridge that turned into an ice rink. The funniest thing was seeing all the tire tread skid marks all over the bridge. If you're weight was just slightly off the rear would spin. It immediately led into the steepest grind of the course.

This picture does no justice to how steep it was. The wet conditions combined with race fatigue made me walk up it, and almost leave a shoe in the mud.

About this time I began trading positions with long time friend and fellow vet Expert Rob. With a nick name like Captain Insano, you can bet that he knows how to ride. I had the edge in the off camber and the rocks, but I just could not close a gap on the smoother stuff.

The ground was just sucking away each pedal stroke. So aggravating. The only way to move on this stuff was to grind away in a bigger gear. Going to the granny or low gear in search of a spin became a kiss of death. The other day the firm ground allowed me to get on top of a gear and spin through, today it was just slog and slow.

At the hour mark my alarm went off to take my magic Sport Legs. A huge tactical mistake let Rob get a huge gap. I waited till a flat fire road to grab the pill box, but I slowed way down while everyone else sped way up. Stupid. If I'm going to slow way down better to do it in a place where everyone else is going slow too like a hill or hike-a-bike.

Never was able to make up this gap. I'd catch up to Rob in the tech track but mentally was not able to overcome the "Gap" The Gap is a mental roadblock I've got. Where I'll get within striking distance of someone but then will just maintain the same gap. They speed up, I'll speed up, they slow, I'll slow.

Gotta get some of this. Eye of the Tiger baby. I even watched Rocky III Saturday night. Just couldn't learn from Rocky's mistake. No amount of training can overcome not wanting it bad enough.

My only chance of passing Rob was to get in front of him before the last section of off camber track. Not going to happen. Was able to reel him in at the end of the slick track but the finish was there too. So I was off him by about 2-3 seconds. This also turned out to be the difference between 4th and 3rd in Men's vet Expert.

This just proves that every second counts.

My time was around 1:40 or so. I think the winner came in at 1:16 or 1:19 or something like that. Mind boggling given the course conditions.

Rob also ran a kid's race after the awards. These kids were amazing. It was rainy and foggy and they kept riding and riding and riding. The course was pretty cool.

Just an awesome day. The weather made for some slightly epic riding, but not too bad all in all. Mountain Lake is a great venue for a race and the course is pretty fun. In drier conditions another lap would be needed but the length was pretty good for these wetter conditions.

The absolute highlight was seeing my friend John get 2nd in Vet Sport. Married, 2 kids, very demanding job. He's been working his ass off the last two years on the Morris Plan. Putting in the dues and driving it into the ground consistently for two years+. It's paying off. Just more proof that it is possible to gets stronger and race w/o having to put in 10-15hrs on the bike. It might not be 'fun' but I think he'd echo the sentiments that it's pretty fun to get better.

I'm really happy overall. Solid and steady. Good technical refresher. Bike ran good, no flats or other mechanicals. My focus has been divergent the last few weeks and this has been good to light a fire and get my focus centered again. It's time to tweak up the training to address the particular deficiencies experienced today.


Summary notes to self:
-Legs no snap, just steady. To be expected for this time of year.
-Same mistake again. Burned matches off the fast start.
-Mistake to drop tire pressure
-ixnay the energy drink in the 1hr before. Don't need it if eaten well 3hrs before
-Need to train with the sport legs more. They produce a dull feeling in legs. Need to get used to it again
-Figure out a better way to get the sportlegs in w/o losing so much time.
-Overdressed again
-Have been training with 2 scoops p-bar drink /small bottle. Ran 2.5 scoops in race. Stomach complaining some. Go back to 2scoops (30g/hr)
-Rethinking camel back vs bottles when using the FS bike.
-possibly overdid it on Friday. Plan called for 30mins zone 2. Preride took 1hr+, tried to go easy. Legs were just on fire so may have over done it w/o trying.
-Work on race starts, butt kicker intervals, lead out intervals.
-Force self to get out in wet conditions onto Gap mtn.
-when chasing someone down, don't focus vision on them whole time. Look down, ride your own pace, look up to check progress.repeat.


At 9:11 PM, Blogger Carol said...

congrats on a great race -- i enjoyed reading the report

At 9:23 PM, Blogger Grant said...

After all the serious training you've talked about, I'm really happy for you that the first race was a good one. What an epic way to start your season. Good luck.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Bruce Brown said...

Sounds like you had a good first outing considering the weather. Isn't it amazing no matter how much we plan and train, the dang rain can come along and just change the game entirely?

Maybe we should just all plan and train on racing in rain so that race day ends up being the reverse - dry....

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Rob said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Rob said...

that race was fun. i had a feeling we were going to be battling, just like back in '97, when i saw your name on the confirmed rider list. i wonder if we're faster now than we were in '97? you rode the technical stuff really well! the other side of your "failing" to close the gap scenario has to be told ... and that is that the guy in front was very nearly going to give in. instead, i decided to ride as hard as my body would go and if i bonked or cramped - so be it. i left everything i had on the course and very narrowly beat a great rider. the coolest part is that we both pushed each other to ride at the edge ... and that's the nectar of MTB racing. cheers!

At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great job fool!

Mr Tee


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