Tuesday, September 28, 2021

VT50 2021; Not the words I wanted to write

 VT50 has been my #1 priority since 2014.  A beautiful, challenging course for a great cause.  

I hesitate in writing this because I need to take responsibility for my choices.  I chose how I handled the final month before my goal of the season.

Thus is how it went:


actually more like this


Everything started as expected.  Shot out the back descending from the mountain, clawing back spots on the climbs, forced dismount on the conga line climb, then things finally open up.

The climbs are always hard, but today they are really hard.  Well they are their usual hard, I'm just really slow.  The dorkometer says I'm not working that hard.


This is a race guy.

I rejoin Alpaca and ask how he's feeling as I'm not great and he's usually up the road.  I tell him I think this is becoming a ride for me and not a race.  Next upward pitch, he smiles and pedals away.

It's getting harder and harder to maintain my off pace pace.

Then I blow through a corner in the dark and have to walk a hill I usually ride.

Just watching the HR go lower and lower.

Maybe I should stop watching?

On the descent to Skunk Hollow, I accepted I don't have another 4 hours in me. I rode off course and to Peter's car.  I had planned on just letting him know, I was out and riding back to the condo, but he insisted he give me a ride as he had time to kill before meeting Alpaca and Monte at Greenall's.  In retrospect I'm glad he did.

Got back to the condo, showered and booked.  Got home before most of my friend's finished.  Collapsed deflated.

Back to back race weekends followed by 27 hours of moving boxes is not how you prepare for a 50 mile mtb race.  At least that's my guess.  Went for a Covid19 test yesterday just to make sure I wasn't a special breakthrough case (I'm not).

Right now I'm not much feeling like putting all or even any eggs in this basket next year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Landmine Classic 20th Edition


Landmine is one of the biggest mtb events in the Northeast.  For some it is the only mtb event  It was unclear if we'd be competing in this year's because of other exciting events going on in my Lovely's life,  Well it was unclear to me, she was adamant that we were.

Because of certain global happenings it was pre-reg only.  There were more people signed up in the CAT1 50+ than CAT1 SS class (a lot more!), but being an elevationally challenged course the singlespeed class would be a better.  Judging by who was already registered, John Skarupa and Ted Yobaccio, it was quality not quantity.

Race day comes, yadda yadda yadda, drive into the sun

 and they line up the CAT1s in two big groups: Pto/Elite and Younguns, then Geezers, Women, and SS. The SS crew slips to the front on the outside.   They count us down and we're off.  
I grab John's wheel on the perimeter of the field and as we turn to the wide singletrack / narrow doubletrack I use the mechanical advantage of my stupid gear to get to the front.  

Age group riders are using their even bigger gears and swarming around me left and right, but for a glorious mile, I'm in the lead.  Then John is warmed up enough to spin his tiny gear up to magic speed and begins to float away.

I'm keeping him within 7 or 8 yards (this is a Merican event so we use Imperial Measurement), we get to Prospect Hill the gap begins to close a bit as we are taking shitty lines grinding up past the geared riders.  Nearing the top, John slips between a couple riders, spinning his enchanted gear to great effect, quickly growing the gap.

At this point there are still a lot of riders in close proximity, it's hard to know who is in which class.  I'm in second and the ol' dorkometer says I'm right where I should be for a XC length race.

Yo-yoing back and forth with geared riders, staying with them when they are keeping a good pace, passing them when Wompy's rocks and roots trip them up.
With the gear I'm running you have to commit to a line and let it run it's course; there is no subtlety to 34x17.

With the next group of riders that surge up to me is Ted who catches and passes me.  "Ok, this is fine " I think "I'll hold his wheel for the next 20 miles and sprint him for second"..."and lose because you can't hold a sprint".

We come to a short steep grunt of a hill side by side, at the lip he spins out, yet I maintain traction.

Trying not to squander this opportunity, I put my head down in hopes of getting out of sight.  I think I have the bigger gear so every open stretch I try to capitalize.

Maybe it's working?

I'm mostly catching people, so it's hard to tell if people I see behind are coming and going.  

About 1:40 in another group comes forward...with a familiar orange helmet; TED!
Fortunately we are just getting to some more rocks which seem to be working for me and I'm in the front, so Ted has to deal with any bad line carnage from those around him.

Ok.  1:40.  The last time I did this race it took me about 2:00, the longest it ever took was 2:10ish I think, so I only have :20-:30 to go.  I can keep this up for that long, right?

Landmine is one big loop and there are some distinguishing features along the course.  I haven't seem some of them yet.

Head down these trails all seem the same to me.

Ok 2:00 is here.  The conditions are great, and I think I'm moving along ok so where's the finish?

Head down.

Powerlines.  I know these are near the end, but also there's a good bit past them.

Head down.

Big irrelevant mound next to the road, now I know this is near the end.

But there is also the last section of singletrack where we catch all the CAT4 and first timers.  


Dare a peek behind I see a blue and white jersey, is that Ted?!  No just a course marker I hallucinated into Ted.

It's quiet, I'm catching a few, but they seem more like CAT1s who  have lost their steam.

Finally there is lightness to the woods, and right before a familiar wooden bridge I pass a woman in long pants; I'm nearing the field!

Burst into the lightness and sling around the big banked corner to the finish line holding on to second.

Looking at the numbers i spent the majority of time in the Danger Zone  sometimes pushing to Infinity and Beyond, we won't talk about the Sausagefest.  I know this is technical cycling talk, but trust me it's good.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Barn Burner Marathon


Tahr had a great idea; Let's race the Barn Burner Marathon in the Cape Epic style duo class, and lets do it under assumed names!

Great!  What a fun idea.

Then Henri hit. 
The promoters were forced to postpone the race a couple of weeks.  Now Tahr has this silly policy that when his wife isn't working he wants to spend time with her and will not race.  Weirdo (says the divorced guy).

So what about Alpaca?  Two distinguished gentlemen going for marathon glory on Ti singlespeeds!
Alpaca was in, he was psyched, he was going to race his mountain bike!

He remembered it was Labor Day weekend.
Alpaca was out.

Fine, I'll just do it by myself.

Race day comes as do all the rituals.  On the eve, bike prep. bottle and food staging and packing.  race bag packing with clothes, extra clothes shoes, extra shoes, double check the car for duplicates of everything possible.  Morning of, standard race day breakfast, coffee, car food and go.

It's a grey day.  Not really raining, but damp.  Compared to past editions the parking field is sparse.  Sparse and soggy.

As I'm getting my feed prepared a familiar voice comes over the PA.  It's Logan!  And where there's Chris there's Jill; New England MTB royalty.

Quick hello, then the obligatory warm up spin.  Being a Marathon, basically just waking up the legs.

Line up in one big pack; men, women, duos and after some race notes, important stuff about not cheating or something, we are told to go.
Maybe a whistle, a signal, wave, command, something, and we are pedalling hard.

There is a LONNNG LONNG flat gravel stretch before the singletrack.  Reverse hoeshot is in full effect.  First clusterfuck of a rock garden (Goggle says I spelled clusterfuck correctly), lead riders are through cleanly but the inevitable happens and everyone else is off their bikes.

Then some dumdum is being a nice guy and lets riders who mounted up quicker go before he mounts up again.

Latch on to the back of the group and look at my dorkometer.  My HR is right where it should be so staying at the back of the conga line should be fine, right?  There's 3.5 more 7.something mile laps to go, just stay in the zone...

Then the egometer kicks in and says go faster.  Pass a half dozen people on the twisties of the back side of the course and cross the powerlines.

The last part of the lap is the most fun.  Still rooty, but more rocky, less loamy and fast;there are two wide open straightaways equal to the opening one.
Coming out of the woods onto the last straight, I look at my time; 51 minutes?!
For 7.something miles?  It's going to be a long day.

My feed zone plan was simple: just stop and grab a new bottle each lap.
Only problem is the grassy field the feedzone was in is a soggy wet field, so losing all momentum, each lap is less than ideal.

The first third of the course has four short steep little hills.  With momentum, they are tough but doable.  On lap two they are littered with the CAT2 racers either spinning out, or "eagling" up them.  Mr Cranky Pants is not happy and has to run them all.  

The course is loamy, and intermittent rain has begun making the roots slippery.
I'm not having fun.  The darkness is enveloping me.  I keep telling myself the whole week was planned around today, and what are you going to do if you don't ride the whole thing?  You need the intensity, you need the training.
Who cares?

Finish the lap, get the feed zone and hear "Go Charlie"; Jill and Chris are rooting for me.
Joke to them as I go through the Start/Finish "don't runners get a half marathon", and head out for lap 3.

Thinking about half marathons, I look at my mileage, it's over 19 miles?  What the?  Maybe I'm not as slow as I think I am?

Get to the four climbs and make 2 out 4 without traffic.  Getting a groove with the roots and keeping consistent.  
The forth and final lap, more of the same.

Finished somewhere in the middle, and I'm ok with that...
because I finished