Monday, October 7, 2013

MammothGravel Classic 2013

Last year I did the 70 mile version of the Mammoth Gravel classic, and it did not disappoint. I was really taken with the stark, barren nature of the river valley that is north of St Croix Falls. Its just so desolate. The Wooly crew always refers to that area as "the sand barrens", and I find this so appropriate. We were initially supposed to have the event in the spring, but the worst winter ever pushed the date back into the fall. The brothers Fisk, Dallas, Ben, The Velaski's, and the Crew from Cyclova XC plotted and connived to put together a incredible course that took us through the sand barrens up to Grantsburg, WI. Then we crossed the river (and dodged a roadkill porcupine) and started back south along Minnesota's Wild River State Park.
I suck at documenting things so I will let the images that Dallas put together tell the story if you get sick of my words.
We started out rolling north from SCF and after about 15 miles we started to hit the sand roads that blew the group up last year. Having the widest tires and being the smallest I found that I was floating over the loose sand a little better than everyone else so I just went.  After a few miles, I stopped to air down my tires, and two of the gents from Hudson made contact with me.  We exchanged pleasantries, but after a few minutes they had dropped back, and I was focusing my thoughts on staying smooth and floating over the sand double track sections.
The double track sections. Oh. the double track sections. 
I love me a some great double track, and The Woolly crew sniffed out some of the most remote winding fire lanes. It was divine.
(bumps record player) Then I almost ran over a black bear. I told you it was remote out there!
By the time I made it all the way to Grantsburg the gents from Hudson had just about caught back up with me, but they decided to keep motoring while I set my sights on slaying some gas station pizza!

I took a long break at the Holiday, and was stoked when Dallas, Mark, and Ben rolled in.
Once we got rolling again, we all took turns at the front to get us off the paved road as quickly and safely as possible.  Once we hit the gravel again the group split up so that everyone could do their own thing as the drizzle really set in. After an hour, we ran into the roaming aid station.
I had forgotten to air up my tires after deflating them for the sand section. I rode about another 40 miles with 20 psi. Thankfully there was Hamms while Frank Lundeen got me some air. Photocred: Kristen Velaski
Hamms. Sweet. Hamms.
We just kept rolling south until we hit the MMR hills that bordered Wild River State Park.  Then it was a screaming descent into Taylors Falls on MN-95. This was simply a incredible route with a type of riding that you are just not going to get in MN. Love it! the 100 is fairly flat and the most challenging sections are early.  Hopefully next spring will have better conditions, as holding a even this late in the year is a challenge with all the Cyclocross events going on.
I was also super stoked to learn that I won a sweet new pair of Almanzo tires from Challenge for being the youngest 100 mile finisher.
My delight was amplified this morning, when I found out that I got into the Filthy 50 this next weekend so will get to put these tires through the paces.
Many thanks to the Woolly Bike Club and Cyclova XC for putting on a great event!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Racing without training

After destroying my knee last fall, I decided to get serious about training this spring.  I bought the CTS Time Crunched Cyclist book, and pretty much did the whole plan on a trainer since we had the worst winter ever. As soon as things thawed and I started getting to some early season races, I was shocked at what I was capable of.  I could close gaps at will. nobody got away. and I could pretty much hang with anybody for about 90 minutes.

Photocred: Todd Bauer
On the Tuesday night races at Whitetail Ridge I consistently won by putting all the other fast guys on the rivet, then punching it to create a 5 second gap. Its a mental battle in mountain biking.  If you get a 5 second gap, you might as well have a 30 second gap, because once you get out of sight of your chaser, psychologically, you have won.
I trained my dad on a proper hand-up.
However CC is pretty adamant that you cannot maintain this high intensity level of training indefinitely. You just become too fatiuged.  So I used a training block that went through June, and then just rode whenever I felt like it.  That level of fitness tapered off noticeably in 2 weeks. I was still mid pack in the elite races in MN, but I struggled so much more trying to recover from efforts. 

Grumpy Stumpy. Photocred:Todd Bauer
The last few weeks have really been frustrating as I struggle to deal with the increased pressure from work, impacting my time and ability to get out and ride.

My parents were back from China over the 4th of July so my dad finally got to see me do a MTB race. He was shocked at how fast the WORS guys were.

It really is amazing how much different you feel when you have that high level of fitness that allows you to do whatever you want in a race.  I totally get why training blocks work, now if I can just get the time to train.
Deer Fly Chase: unable to get into the lead group, and then fell off the back of the chase to finish 10th.
Deer Fly Chase Photocred; Noah Michelson