17 August 2009

Rapture in Misery 2009

I've been looking forward to this race for most of the season. I've never ridden out at Crowder, but I've been told the course would suit me. It was a good course, only a couple of technical sections, a few good climbs, and basically no place to rest.

Louis, Gina & I headed up Saturday afternoon with the Airstream in tow. We were one of the first on site and had a good selection of spots to set up camp. We quickly got situated and then set up Jeremy Pych & Luke Lininger's spot next to us. Jeremy showed up around 5pm and we did a pre-ride. We rode it in 54-55 and I figured we'd see sub-45 minute laps during the race.

Things kicked off at noon as usual. The start was a run up a rocky hill to the bikes. Tige Lamb and Cameron Chambers took off in the lead while a second group was spread over about 30 secs. I followed Jon Schottler on the run figuring he was the guy to beat (he had beaten me pretty soundly at the Firecracker 50 six weeks earlier). Across the initial field section, Jon rode up to Jeremy and I hovered about 10 secs behind them. Descending through the "Bone Yard" we both passed Jeremy as he bobbled on one of the rockier sections. Throughout the first lap I kept Jon within 10 seconds and we slowly reeled in a few guys riding within sight. At the end of the first lap, we were a group of 4-5 that came in 3-4 minutes behind Cameron and Tige. 3 of us were solo 6hr riders and Kyle Shour was next about 2 minutes behind us.

I led out of the check-in area into the second lap and glancing back on the grass section it looked like Shottler was no longer in sight behind me. I got into a rhythm and just tried to be smooth. I was worried I was riding a little too hard, but I figured I'd just see where I was at the end of the lap. About halfway through the lap I looked back a saw what looked like someone in blue catching me. I assumed it was Shottler in his GT Dirt Coalition kit. Nope, it was Luke putting in a great lap! He didn't end up catching me, but came in right behind me at about 15 seconds. Good stuff from the 17 yr old in his first MTB race!

On the third lap I started to dial back the pace a little to settle in for the long haul. I was still feeling pretty good though. Laps 4-6 were less comfortable and I started to have to fight for it a little. Gina & Louis were keeping me well fed and hydrated and gave me updates on the time gaps.

I dialed it back up on Lap 7 to see if I could. It looked like I'd have time for an 8th lap unless I hit the wall or had mechanical problems. I turned a decent time dropping 2 minutes from the previous lap and headed out for one more. On the last 3 laps I was having some issues with cramps and twinges in my legs. I've never had leg cramping issues in races, so I'm going to have to figure out what happened. I just took it easy on the climbs and rolled the rest and finished the last lap without too much trouble. 8 laps, 73.6 miles, 6hrs 45mins, a good outing to be sure. Shottler apparently ran into trouble and drifted back, while Kyle Shour kept turning solid laps to finish 2nd overall and 1st in the under-29 category.

Props to the Heartland Crew for putting on a great race. Also, double thanks to Doug Long for rounding up a tarp for me at 12:30am to cover the leak in our Airstream!

See you at The Grinder at Binder in a few weeks.

03 August 2009

Queen City & Show-Me State Games

Saturday I went with Jeremy down to Springfield for the Queen City Criteriums. We met up with the Springfield Crew and set up the course. I raced the Masters race at 7:50pm and then the P/1/2/3 race at 9pm. I felt pretty decent in both races, interesting I haven't done a criterium since 1993.

After the race we cleaned up the course and headed off to Brackett's house at about 12:00-12:30am. Finally to bed about 1:00 and then back up at 5:30am to drive up to Columbia for the Show-Me State Games MTB marathon race.

I thought I was feeling okay. At least I didn't seem too tired or lethargic. Au contraire, as soon as we started the race I was redlining. I was struggling to keep up with guys I have put time on in recent races. Not much you can do in such a situation but settle in and hope for things to improve.

Jeremy Bradshaw jumped out to an early lead on the first lap with Nate Means leading Paul Krewet and I. Towards the end of the first lapped I crashed hard when a big root popped one of my hands off the bars and sent me sprawling superman-style. It was an awkward fall and I landed badly on my hand/fingers. I'll be nursing my middle finger for the next couple weeks trying to get some grip strength back before Rapture in Misery. So I slowly collected myself and made sure everything seemed okay. I got underway and gradually started to brush it off.

I got back up to speed and just settled into a rhythm I figured I could hold until the end. If I caught everyone great, if not, well, then not.

I came through the first lap in 3rd, having caught Nate Means close to the end of the lap. Paul Krewet was about 10 seconds ahead of me and Jeremy Bradshaw another 10 in front of him. I caught Paul a couple miles into the 2nd lap and every once and awhile I'd catch a glimpse of Jeremy. When we hit the open fields I could see he was close and not pulling away so I relaxed a little. I figured I didn't need to put the hammer down to catch him immediately, but rather just let him know I was still there and not letting him relax into a comfortable pace.

At the end of lap 2 he was still about 15 seconds ahead. It seemed like I was making up time on the first part of the lap and losing a little on the second part. Probably I was making time on the uphills and losing it on the downhills. Finally I caught him in the open fields on lap 3 and put some pressure on the uphill sections. Through the start/finish I had put 10+ seconds on him and it seemed like he was tiring. I just kept it steady and the gap stretched out from there. Unfortunately I had no chance at making 6 laps, so I just rolled it steady through to the finish. The gap stretched to 1:20 at the end of lap 4 and 5:00 at the end of lap 5.

I was pretty tired by the end. I especially was hurting on the drive home! Basically I can no longer function on 4-5 hrs of sleep. Somehow I rallied and Gina and I went to see The Wailers and Toots & the Maytals at Grinders--we even got the tickets for free! Cool show, it was a good thing we had chairs...