30 April 2009

Belated Ouachita Report

On April 5th, I lined up to do the Ouachita Challenge 60-mile race in Oden, Arkansas. It was a power-packed field with a number of MTB pros and accomplished amateurs.

We rolled out fairly easy on the gravel road section that started the race. We had a pretty tough uphill a few miles in and the pace was hotter than I wanted to go. I settled into a rhythm with a few other riders and we came out at the first aid station about 5 minutes off the pace of the leader, Jeff Kerkove. I hit the road section with Noah Singer and we were told 3 riders were in front of us, but all out of sight. We put down a good effort over the next 14 miles of paved and gravel roads and caught up to Chris Renshaw and Ray Hall just as we hit the Ouachita Trail.

I settled back into my own pace on the climb and the three rode away from me. In retrospect, I may have held back a little too much on the Ouachita Trail. I did manage to catch back up to Noah at the Aid Station #3, although he proceeded to ride away again on Blowout Mtn. I think Blowout Mtn. was probably my weakest section but because I was holding back I was ready to unleash on the Big Brushy climb after Aid Station #4.

As I came through Aid Station #4, Glen told me I was 1.5 minute down on the next rider. I rode hard up Big Brushy and had Chris Renshaw in sight as we exited the singletrack on to the last 8 miles of gravel & paved road. I quickly closed up the gap to Chris and then we worked together for a mile or so. We hit a few small uphills and I was able to put some distance on Chris. I put my head down and put about a minute on him over the next few miles.

I rolled in 3rd place, 5 minutes down on Noah Singer and 10 minutes down on Jeff Kerkove. The race was both easier and harder than last year. I definitely had better fitness than last year, but the longer course and hills in the first 5 miles made the race more difficult. I still have not got my head in the right place to make hard efforts early in races. This is definitely an issue in MTB races, but has also been a problem in some road and CX events.

Various vids are on YouTube.com

29 April 2009

Let's get this party started...Tues Night 4/29/2009

Just a quick post to start things off. Last night was the Tuesday night training criterium. It seemed like everyone was a little tired or unmotivated after a weekend of local racing. A break rolled fairly early and the group was not interested in chasing it down or riding particularly hard.

Luke Lininger, Bicycle Shack junior racer, continued his strong riding by getting in the break and pulling through strong throughout the race.

For my part, I didn't get to ride before the race because of work and just warmed up during the first 15 minutes or so. After that I made a few efforts here and there. In the end I led out Joe Schmalz on the last lap and it looked like he took the group sprint without much trouble.

I am fighting a few nagging aches and pains surely associated with pushing my aging body too much. My back has started bothering me the last couple of weeks, it was especially bad in the Hermann Road Race on April 19th.