Monday, September 16, 2013

Tymor Park Challenge

Without taking an extended road trip or a boat, the last mtb race of the season was the Tymor Park Challenge, finale of the Campmor H2H race series.  I had considered doing the Freetown 50 as after the Hampshire 100 I'm really digging longer distances, but speaking of longer distances, it would be about 100 miles more in the car, so the Tymor Challenge became much more attractive.

After a pre-ride lap I did something I rarely do; I put on a bigger cog.  Tymor has over 900' of climbing in each 5.33 mile lap; about 50% more than I was expecting.  That's Vermont-y.

The only name I recognized of the pre-registered riders was Brian Kelley.  I don't believe we had ever actually raced, but I had seen his name in the results of some New England races and knew he was no joke.

Talking with Thierry, I missed the pre-race meeting.  No big deal, it's a Cat1 XC race; ride 4 laps as fast as you can.  Right?

They are smart and start the singlespeed riders after the Pros; no slower riders to get stuck behind on climbs.

The Pros go off and our 2 minutes is counted down, whistle blows and we are off.  It not a big field of racers, but as the trail narrows for a bridge, things are getting tight, elbows knocked, and I back off a bit.

There is about a quarter mile more before we bang a left into the woods and head up the first climb.  I spin it up, and get there first, taking the A line on the climb.  Brian grabs the B line and passes me...strongly.  Another rider is dicing with me as we come to the convergence of the A and B line.  I push hard and get there first.

Brian is super smooth in the singletrack.  Conditions are perfect, but this part of the course has slick, black hard pack that take skill and confidence to ride fast.  I'm hold Brian to about 10 meters (eurotrash for 35'), but not closing at all.

Then there is an awful metallic crunch and Brian pulls over.

I'm really bummed, as I'm thinking a horrendous mechanical has taken him out.

But no sooner than I think this He's back on my wheel.

Showing the Broseph nature of the SS, he calls out turns I might has missed do to my unfamiliarity with the course.

When we get to the last third of the lap we are still right together.  But the last 1/3 has some of the most significant climbs.  Slowly I'm able to grow a gap, and by the time we get back to the grass, it's  almost 30".

Now things get lonely.  The next 2 laps I ride completely alone.   Trying to stay on top of things and not get complacent.

It's not until the last 1/3 of the 3rd lap that Matt Boobar, XTerra pro racing the 40-49 class catches me and gives me a little company before he powers away.

I'm really starting to feel it in my legs at the end of the lap, but need to keep on top of it for just one more.  Hopefully I can ride all the climbs one last time.  As I sprint through the start finish I see some Pros hanging around.  "Wow" I think "they finished 4 laps faster than I finished 3".  As I hammer down the fireroad, about to turn into the woods up the hill, I hear someone shouting "3 laps, buddy it's only 3 laps!"

It's my pal Neal from the Errace Power by Central Wheel team and winner of the Pro race letting me know I was done and won.  I guess the Pros would have had to pass me to do a 4th lap huh?  Maybe those pre-race meetings are of a little more importance too?

1st place Singlespeed second fastest Cat1.

About a minute later Brian comes down the road; I'm relived that his only mechanical was just a stick, and his bike was good the rest of the race.

Glad I had the bigger cog, wouldn't have minded one tooth bigger either.

Just when things get rolling the season is coming to an end...

On an equipment note, I rode Blü.2, my Singular Swift. The last race I won was on my this bike.  It was a climby VT race.  I've had decent result on other bikes, but my Swift, even with a couple extra pounds is the bike I've the greatest accomplishments on.  Always reliable.  I haven't officially been a Singular team member since 2010, but if it ain't broke...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Landmine 2013

Things were going well in the lead up to Landmine.

Then they weren't

Time for the commuter mtb time trial test.

I tried putting the carbon fork back on Aspasia (my dirt little whore).

Tried Blü.2

I even tried a big boy gear.

Riding a singlespeed mountain bike to work,  you have a lot of time to think when you get to the road sections.  You start playing games with math and names (well I do).  The bike  (Blü.2) + the gear (17t) = B-17.

When I saw Mike had signed up for the race I decided to have a little fun with him.  I gave one of my rides a cryptic name on Strava making reference to the B-17 and Mike.

Posted a picture of a B-17 on his facebook page.

On the starting line I even pointed out his front tire was on backwards.

Nothing.  The man is unflappable.

Making a special guest appearance in the SS Open class was none other than former Demi-Pro and Dirtwire.TV head honcho Thom P.

The whistle blows and for one glorious moment I'm leading MKRThom, and the rest of the hearty SS field.
As we turn into the woods, the dream ends and Mike takes the lead.  I'm waiting for him to power away from me, but I'm able to hang.

Mike picks really good lines too, so he's making riding 2nd wheel really easy.

I know there is one sort of climb coming up followed by a pretty technical (for me) descent.  It would be good to be at the front for this to A. maybe get a gap on the climb and B.prevent Mike and Thom from running away from me on the descent (Thom is attached tenaciously to us).

Make a cheeky pass on MKR and plans are going as planned.

There is some place swapping here and there, but we're all hanging.

One thing about the SS class is it's like a Brodown-Showdown; you want to do well and go fast, but you also want to have fun riding with your friends.  As such, Mike is calling out turns when he's leading, and we're talking about this and that when we have the breath.

Mike and I start stretching a little gap on Thom.  We even get out of sight of him...until I lead us off course (Doh!  Turn left, not tight left!).  Thom catches us and asks if we're looking for the A line.

Mike gets back on course first and starts to build momentum.

I'm holding a gap over Thom until he gets crafty and latches on to the leaders of the Master's 50+.  He uses them to get back to me, and then the rocks and roots of the course to get away.

The third quarter of the race was a dark place for me.  Thom is out of sight and I really don't know how I'm doing.  Pushing a bigger gear than I normally would I'm having a hard time judging my exertion.  That being said, I'm still catching riders from the groups that started ahead of us.  I try to reassure myself that this is a good sign of a consistent effort.

Popping out on to one of the road sections in the final quarter of the race I see a splendid vision.  Thom.
He's within sight and I have a bigger gear.

I try and leave it all out there as we weave through traffic, Thom going in and out of my line of sight as we wind through to the finish.  As we're about to come out into the field and take the big bermed turn to the finish line I'm right on him.

Why isn't he sprinting?

Because he finished 30 seconds earlier and this is one of his geared teammates.

Mike takes the W, Thom gets 2nd and I close out the podium all within one minute.
Mike and Thom kept the pace up high enough that we caught and passed most of the 19-29 and 30-39 podiums.

Now that's racing!

Thom missed the podium doing the dirty work for