17 May 2010

Rhett's Run in the Mud

Sunday I headed out to Columbia to ride the Marathon event in Cosmo Park. I rode this race last year under very different conditions. Even though it rained most of the morning before the race last year the trail was not muddy at all. Not so Sunday!

I rode the ol' hardtail, mainly because I was too lazy to do the the equipment changes I needed to do to run the tubed setup on the Genius. I think I would have been a bit faster had I done so. I haven't ridden the hardtail for a long time and I have gotten pretty used to the position and suspension on the Genius. Also I went down one time because I clipped my bars on a tree, this wouldn't have happened on the Scott as the bars are a few centimeters narrower. Oh well, lesson learned.

As for the race, I got through without any major issues. On the last couple laps the rear brake was making an awful racket and was dragging pretty badly. After I cleaned the bike, I could see some pieces were not where they are supposed to be. But, other than that, the gears were working and the air stayed in the tires.

The Marathon group was pretty small. Zach Brace and Zdenek were there and a few others I didn't know. I took the holeshot uncontested and tried to put the hammer down. I need the highend work so I was ready to sacrifice optimal pacing. I had a gap pretty quickly and just tried to keep the gas on. Unfortunately, towards the end of the lap I misinterpreted the course markings and did an extra bit of singletrack instead of gravel road. I probably added 30 secs to a minute on this little detour. After that the laps ticked off without incident, and I got in 7 laps when it was all said and done.

The course conditions changed throughout the race. The first lap offered the most traction, mainly because the trail hadn't been churned up yet. After the first lap, the uphills became considerably more slick although the rest of the trail held steady. The mud bog along the powerline got worse with each lap and required a ton of brute power to churn through. About halfway through my race it started to rain and the conditions changed again. The traction on the hills improved, but I think the course got slower as a larger percentage of the trail had a layer of mud that sapped speed.

For me tire selection was the key. The Maxxis Medusas were nothing short of magic. I am definitely going to try to find something equivalent for the muddiest CX races. If I had something like this at the muddy St. Mary's race I would have been considerably faster through some key sections.

For some other perspectives: Aaron Elwell, Dave Breslin, & Jon Schottler.

14 May 2010

Rhett's Run Prep

The trail is likely to be muddy with over 4" of rain in the preceding week and the forecast is calling for rain throughout the weekend too. Looks like a good race to try out some new treads.

Having ridden Maxxis Crossmarks in minorly muddy conditions last year at the Tall Oak 6hr race, I don't think it'll be the ideal tread for the trail. The Crossmark is a great all-round tread and I have ridden it in wet conditions (Syllamo, Ouachita & Tall Oak), but it can get packed up with mud and traction suffers. For the mud this weekend, I am going to try either the Monorail or the Medusa.

The Medusa is a specialty mud tire, but is not UST. The tread on the Medusa is pretty serious, and probably doesn't roll too fast.

I don't know if conditions will warrant a full-on mud setup, or I should compromise and run the Monorail in the rear. The Monorail has widely spaced knobs and aggressive shoulder knobs; Maxxis says it clears mud well and gets good traction.

Decisions, decisions...

10 May 2010

Krug Park, Saint Joseph

Saturday was the Robidoux Roundup in Krug Park. It was part of the United Dirt Federation series and I raced the XC race. This is a little on the short side compared to what I normally do, in fact, it was the first XC race I've ever done.

Aaron Elwell was there, so I knew who I'd be chasing. It started with a long, paved uphill stretch to string out the field before the singletrack. Otherwise, the entire 7+ miles was tight singletrack. The course was mostly packed dirt without much in the way of rocks or roots. What it was missing in trail obstacles, it made up for in tight turns and steep ups and downs. There was very little trail that would allow you to get into a pedaling rhythm. It was basically all hard accelerations and decelerations. My lower back definitely felt the effort.

Travis led us up the first half of the paved starting hill. I took over for a short stretch and then Aaron powered it up over the top. He went into the singletrack first and immediately started to develop a gap. I was second in with a Nebraska rider hot on my heels. He was not liking that Aaron was riding away and jumped around me. Tom Price was briefly on my wheel, but ended up puncturing and retiring. The Nebraska rider (Ryan Feagon) was unable to close the gap to Aaron and actually started to slow. After 5 or 10 minutes I passed him back and tried to keep Aaron close. Aaron was running about 15-20 seconds in front of me until he stopped with some shifting problems. He sorted it quickly and was more or less on my wheel as we came through at the end of the first lap (of 3). He quickly started to ride away again and developed a 40 second gap over the second lap. The last lap was a little better for me and Aaron only stretched his lead out another 7 seconds. So I finished 47 seconds down on Aaron for the overall and was the first 40-49.

The XC effort is much higher than I am used to from doing the endurance races. I need the work though and I am glad I raced it. Chasing Aaron made sure I worked hard, but I probably wasn't aggressive enough trying to hold his wheel. I may not have been able to stay with him, but I need to work on not being so quick to settle into my own rhythm.

The summer is full of XC races so I'll probably be taking my lumps in them until the endurance stuff ramps back up in August.

On the road, Luke had a good ride at Joe Martin finishing 34th in the overall of the Men 1/2 race. We rode well and improved from day-to-day. Good stuff, especially since he's only a junior!