Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tour of KC

The 2nd day of the Tour of KC was today and I felt the need to do some crit I did. Here's my story.

This event has been around for a long time, I think this is the 49th edition. In years past the races were held on Cliff drive, a circuit race and in downtown Overland Park, a fast and fairly technical crit. Well for some reason unbeknownst to me, these 2 venues aren't used anymore...LAME!!

Moving on...I decided to not line up on Saturday for a variety of reasons and the main one was the first turn of that particular course is a tight, fast, downhill 90 degree left with not much room to roll through other than single file...making it a prime viewing spot for carnage...and there was some. Oh yeah, I won on that track at the inaugural event so no need to do it anymore!!

On to today. The weather forecast was for HELL HOT HEAT and it did not disappoint. Right now at 5:30pm the temp is hovering around 98...with that in mind and the 3's race at 2:30ish I decided to race the masters race which was at 8:00am. As I recall it was about 77 degrees...good temp to race any day!! The course was a rectangle going counter clockwise with a pretty fast slightly downhill left, this turn was really the only one you had to pay attention on.

I registered the day before so when I got to the venue all I had to do was get dressed and start warming up. I decided to race with my powertap and that by itself made me a little nervous, add to that the fact that several fast guys were in the field also meant I was pretty wound up with the race day nerves!! So I get warmed up, do a few hard efforts and the time comes to line up...and of course...DFL for me...oh well I'm used to it anymore.

Right before the gun sounds Supaman, who wasn't racing today, was telling me at least half the guys in front of me will miss their pedals, and they did. I nailed mine and moved right to where I wanted to be. The race rolls on for a few laps, then the attacks start. I was riding pretty close to the front keeping an eye out for a good move. After a few guys tried and failed I was getting itchy to give it a go. It was about then 3 guys rode off the front and I decided it was time. I gun it and jump across a decent gap with no one in tow...HOORAY!! As soon as I get there they sat up...BOOOOOOOOO!!!! Back to the field we went, I should have gone around to try to motivate them...oh well, it was early still.

A little later there was a guy ringing a cowbell standing on the platform with the freakin officials, so I'm thinkin it's time for a prime...someone attacked on the front straight, another went after the first turn and I'm sitting fairly close to the front watching them go. On the back stretch I make the comment "he's going solo to the prime"...right after that I drilled it and went blazing by the second guy up the road. I took a look back and the field was pissed and chasing hard, but I had a huge gap. I got within about 30 feet of the first guy up the road and passed the start/finish line only to realize the jackass ringing the cowbell was a spectator...I was pissed!! The pace remained high for the next few laps and I suffered horribly!! I managed to get recovered with out getting shot out the back and life was good!!

From then on it was pretty uneventful up until the last lap. I was about mid pack going into the last lap and the eventual winner attacked at the first turn, the pace went straight to the moon and we were flying!! On the back stretch a gap opened 2 riders ahead of me so I jumped across and I'm glad I did because when we made the final turn onto the front straight the gap was huge!!

I'm not sure how I placed, I'm thinking 15th-ish out of 40ish. I'm pretty content with that considering the quality of the field and the fact I was riding my powertap training wheel that weighs a TON!!!

As I tap this out on my computer, I don't think there's anything I would have done different. I chose to race with my powertap just to see what a crit looked like from a numbers standpoint. That was interesting!!

Next up, the Tour of Lawrence crit. I will be riding my 303's for that race!!


UPDATE 6-25-2012...I officially crossed the line in 16th out of I was close with my guesses!! ;^)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Down and Dirty

This past Sunday was the Missouri state MTB race. I put a big fat bulls eye on this race as soon as it was posted, which meant I had 6 months-ish to prepare for this and be on top form as I rolled to the line. Well...if you been reading this you know that my off season pretty much SUCKED and I didn't start riding til mid February and didn't start "training" til April...I'm beginning to think it sucks getting old...

Moving on...So the day comes and it's time to line up. As per usual, the experts are lumped together, but they did call us to the line by age group, so I knew there were 8 riders in my class and a good sized field of experts total...probably around 20.

GO!!! After we squeezed through an arch over the start/finish line the drag race began. About a half mile of gravel double track to a hard left over a short bridge and then into the single track. Needless to say, it was a cluster f**k at this point...we get rolling and it's so dusty dry it's getting difficult to see the terrain...this was a new situation to me. I've raced in the woods a ton, but never when it was this dry. The first lap rolls bye fairly uneventfully and into my little feed zone I go. I stashed a bottle of ice water in it this time to pour on my head to cool down a bit, which is exactly what I did. That water was COLD, it felt good and did exactly what I wanted it to.

Rolling into lap 2 I'm feeling pretty good and settle into a rhythm...this last for about 3 miles, then all of the sudden I'm suffering big time and going really SLOOOOOOW!!! My race starts to unravel I suffer along getting passed by a few riders thinking to myself, this sucks ass, when I get back to the pit, I'm done!! A few minutes later the little voice in my head says, if you quit you will be more miserable than if you keep riding. Hmmm....stupid voice!! I hate it when you're right!! With about 2 miles to go I formulate a new plan. I'm gonna ditch my camel-bak, grab my bottle of ice water and ride one more lap.

The last 2 miles roll by, it felt like an eternity, but I made it to the pit again. I throw down my camel-bak, grab the ice water, and roll out. whilst I was doing this, another racer passes me and rides away from me. Right before the finish line the course was marked in the style of a CX course, and it doubled back on itself. Just after I entered this section, I start yelling at the guy that just passed me. I was yelling, I'm gonna get you, you better pedal, I'm gonna get you!!!

So he puts in a charge and sort of rides away from me on the double track. On the single track he more or less rides away...I'm thinkin, maybe I won't get him...then I realize I'm feeling better and start riding a bit faster. Off in the distance I see this guy and he has passed another racer, he was a 50+ rider. So I make the 50+ rider my carrot and proceed to reel him fairly easily. I get to him and he lets me by no worries. At this point I can see the guy that passed me in the pit and I'm gaining on him.

I get to his wheel and he says, do you want by? To this I replied, no, I'm good, we have about 6 miles to go. We roll on for about another quarter of a mile and a stick flips up into his front derailleur and forces him to stop. I think to myself, it's now or never, either I'm going to get to the line before him or die trying!! So I go as hard as I can for the rest of the lap, and rode away from him.

I was getting close to the end of the lap when I saw 3rd place a few switchbacks ahead of me, so it was time to dig again, and I do. Before I know it I pop out of the woods and I knew it was over...3rd was 2 minutes 40 ahead of me going into lap 3, when it was all said and done he was a mere 16 seconds ahead of me.

So I finished 4th, narrowly missing the podium...again!! It was weird, I was suffering horribly on lap 2, and on lap 3 I was focused and riding like a man on a mission...I was 2 minutes 10 faster on lap 3 compared to lap 2. Not a lot but the way i was feeling on lap 2 I would've never guessed that was gonna happen...oh well that's racing, you can't be great every time.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

DK 200 2012 Highlights....

So for the past few days I've been thinking about the write up on my 2012 Dirty Kanza and came to the conclusion that it was kinda I thought about it and here are some of the thing I thought were funny or just whatever.

1. Anytime I've ever rolled to a start line, there's always this tension from the other racers and being serious about what is about to take place and there is nothing wrong with that. At 5:45 in the morning I was surprised to feel a little of this as I rode past the front of the group on my way to where the mere mortals ride...also known as the back!! I found that interesting...even at the wee hours of the morning the racers had their game faces on.

2. About an hour into this melee I'm at the front of our little train rolling along at the prescribed 14 mph. At several points along the way the gravel roads are more or less gravel double track so there's no echelon riding to escape the wind and if you want to switch tracks you really have to pick you place to do so. Anyway as we roll along, we pass a group of riders that were from Utah...I about the time I get to a female on my right from this group, she decides to stand up to pedal and maybe change tracks. As soon as she was fully standing and her left leg reached to bottom of the stroke, her pedal came of and she proceeded to wad herself up right next to me, ended up getting gravel in her hyde and have her wheel ran over by a fellow rider...I almost pooped 'em!!!

3. Last year as I rode along in my own personal hell, off in the distance I could see a gravel road going up a pretty sizable climb. I say to a teammate of mine, wow look at that hill!! The pic above this paragraph is from the top looking back at where we had come from. He says yeah, that's Texaco hill, it's a 3 mile climb and that's where we're headed...I wanted to was about then he rode away from me because I couldn't go more than 10 mph at this point. Fast forward to 2012, low and behold...Texaco hills beckons me...I rode up it without as much as a whimper this year. Ah ride smart and actually have fun!!

4. As we rode across the top Texaco hill, I spy with my little eye a photographer. As we got closer, the Kodak courage welled up in me and out came the wheelie king...yep...popped a decent wheelie for the lens!! Shortly thereafter we started a nice double track descent. Pretty close to the bottom there was a cattle guard, it was raised a little higher than the gravel. With me carrying some good speed, I blasted some functional air over this steel was SWEEEEEEEET!! Between that and the wheelie I was pretty much feelin about 12...Luv it!!

I thought this was a good pic showing the rolling nature of the Flint Hills, if you look closely at the hill in the distance, there was a group of motorcycle riders touring the gravel roads taking a break...can you say easy way to ride gravel?!?!

5. If you read the first DK blog, then you know about the parking of the GF's car at the first check point. That story has a bit more to it. So here it is...when we decided to do the first check point thing, we realized that we would have one bag left over to put the stuff we needed to keep and to put our street clothes in once we changed into riding duds. This presented a small problem...what do we do with it?? My girlfriend called and talked to the hotel manager and had it squared away. The hotel would lock it up for us and we could get it on our way home. I wasn't too keen on this idea but whatever.

Race day morning we are getting ready to roll to the hotel manager when I see a rider that i know well enough to ask if his wife could haul our bag to the first check point, they say no worries, WOOOHOOOOoooooo!!! No strangers rifling through our stuff!!

The race kicks off and away we go, about 3 or 4 miles in I see this guy on the side of the road and he says he popped a spoke...bummer...on we roll. At some point during a nature break I see him go riding by, cool, up and riding!! After riding for about 4 hours, it suddenly dawned on me that he is ahead of my little group, which means he will be in and out of the first check point before I get there, which also means his wife will have to wait on us...D'OHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! There's about 3 miles to go at this point of revelation, so I tell the GF I'm gonna hammer out the last 3 miles so the nice lady who helped us doesn't have to wait any longer than she has to...

So I drill it to the end passing a handful of riders on the way, this made me laugh, mostly due to wondering what they were thinking as I went blazing by. I roll into the check point, find her and apologize for making her wait. She said no worries, he had been gone about 15 minutes and it would only take her about 40 minutes to get to the next check point...HOORAY!!!

I saw this on a mail box, thought it was cool.

There ya go now ya's a little more interesting...


Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Dirty Kanza 2012

It's hard to believe that another year has rolled not measured by holidays, but the Dirty Kanza 200. Yesterday was my second trip to the start line for this race. I say race because officially, it is a race, but I think for the majority of the riders that roll to the line, it's a somewhat organized ride that most want to finish and say I rode 200 miles of gravel.

This was my second trip to the DK. The main reason I went back was to ride it the way you're "supposed" to. Meaning, not go out at the front of the race with the riders that are there for the overall win and blow up into a bazillion bitty pieces in the middle of nowhere, but to ride a sustainable pace and actually enjoy the ride..which I did!!

Last year was the test ride for me. I was supposed to ride to the end of the 2nd leg, assess how I felt and decide if completing the 200 was something I felt I could do. Well, riding to the halfway went out the window last year when against my better judgement, I went out with the lead group and blew up after an hour of riding...Read the 2011 DK post for the rest of that story...

Last year, after a few days of pondering, I decided to go again with the original game plan in hand. At this point my girlfriend had decided she wasn't gonna do it and she would support me in my efforts to at least make it 100 miles of the 200 mile gravel melee.

Somewhere between her decision to not do it and the beginning of 2012, she decided she wanted to go to the end of the second leg again. At this point I wasn't worried about finding a support crew. When the time finally came to find one, my luck ran out...

So now my plan was to ride to the end of the first leg and drive my GF's vehicle, which was parked at the end of the first leg the night before, to the end of the second leg so she could reach her goal and scratch this event from her bucket list once and for all. I was good with this plan based on how the weather was in 2011. It was hell hot and crazy windy, so me riding to the end of leg one sounded pretty good.

The morning of the race we rolled out of the hotel in a brisk 48 degree, clear sky, low wind day. The high was in the low 80's and the wind was 10 mph or less all day. It was a great day to attempt the full 200, and had I not been a jackass last year, I totally would have given the 200 a shot at completion...I was a little bummed, but oh well.

I rode the first leg the way you're supposed to and I felt like a million bucks at the end of the first 61 miles. It's funny, last year was 58 miles to the end of leg one and I went 4:45:00 ride time, with an average of 14.5 mph and wanted to DIE when I got there. Remember the blowing up into a bazillion pieces comment...I rode so painfully slow after I blew up last year that riding slower and consistent this year was actually faster...weird!!! For 2012, I was 4:37:00 for 61 miles into the end of leg one at 13.2 mph and felt almost as good as I did when I started that morning.

As of right now, I WILL be doing the 2013 edition of the Dirty Kanza with only one goal in have my cycle computer read 200 miles.