Friday, April 25, 2014

ChainBuster 3 Hour at Payne's Creek Race Report

Come Hell or High Water, I've Got This!  Photo Credit:  Mary Omstead

As I drove over to the venue, in the rain, the day before, and listened to it rain the night before, I could say I was not overly ecstatic to be racing this one.  But I had made mental preparations and was ready for whatever Mother Nature was going to dish out.

Rarely are race conditions perfect.  If you wait until it is just "right,"  you are going to miss a lot of challenges and the subsequent rewards.  It is all about adapting.  The ability to persevere through adverse conditions are only going to make you a better racer.  Sure, there are some conditions even I would not race in:  my bail out points are (1) lightning, and (2) temperatures less than 20 degrees for > than 2 hours.  #2 is a medical issue for me, as I have Raynaud's and have come close to losing a toe in the past (2011 Snake Creek Gap TT).

I treat these less than ideal races as practice runs for gear choice.  For me, it is all about what I can do to make the next race better.

Shower cap trick I learned at La Ruta.  Photo credit:  Mary Omstead

For those of us who chose to persevere, we were treated to a rainless start and course conditions that were astounding, given the 1 1/2" of rain the previous 24 hours.  There were some slick spots, but overall, the course was tacky and FAST!  In those muddy sections, I was given the chance to work on my off camber mud skills.

The start was on 1 mile of asphalt leading up from the campground.  As I was riding my Cysco SS, I lost a few spots.  But since it was a low turnout, I only encountered 2 party trains.  The first one I was able to make my way around pretty quickly.  The second one I settled in behind for awhile since they were going at a pretty good click.  

About 1/2 way through the first lap, as a group of us was climbing one of the few short hills on the course, we all heard a loud crash and felt the BOOM! of a tree that fell.  It was very close!  I wondered to myself if it had fallen on the trail.  Sure enough, on my 2nd lap, I encountered a fallen pine about 12 inches in diameter and 30 feet long that lay lengthwise on the trail.  Dang!  That was close!  For the remainder of that lap, any creaking in the treetops above me had what remaining adrenaline there was left being squeezed out of me.

Once again, my titanium steed smoothed out the rooty sections.  I cannot say how much I love the ride of titanium.  And with the Specialized Control tires, I felt very confident going through the slick sections.  I ran fairly consistent laps and was able to finish with 3 in a time of 2:26:20, good enough for 1st female.  

No, Elizabeth did not win a dog.

Unfortunately, the SuperSport Athletic Wear team had a low turnout for this series finale.  Kudos to James for hanging on despite injuring his back.  He managed to take the Terrapin RecreationAle 3 Hour Series win in his age group.  And congrats to Mark Dee for coming in 3rd in his age group.

With a little slicky-slidy racing under my belt, I will be even more prepared for PMBAR, coming up in a little over a week.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

6 Hours of Warrior Creek Race Report

After racing solo for the past 3 years at this race, I decided to change it up a bit and race with my friend Ursula Sandefur.  It was a low key event for me, as I am building up for May's Pisgah Productions' events.  I also needed some single speed therapy, so what better way than to hit the bermy flowy trail of Warrior Creek.  This trail is a true testament to the dedication and skillful creative minds of the Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club.

Ursula used her seniority to sit out the first lap.  So I got to enjoy the party train.  The start was less than ideal for me.  Taking one last nature break prior to lining up cost me about 20 rows.  I ended up mid pack for the start.

The gun went off.  I surged forward for about 100 yards ... and then I seemed to go backwards as racers with all their shifty bits were able to pull away from me.  Spinning a cadence of 120, I felt my legs were going to wrap themselves around my cranks and detach from my hips.

Finally, I hit dirt and entered the single track, my domain.  Although it seemed like I was in 235th place, I knew that I needed to be patient and let the trail come to me.  I passed ALOT of people, mostly on the climbs and burnt a few matches in the process.  Since I had a teammate, I could restock a few of those burnt ones while Ursula was out on the trail.

Photo Credit:  Ursula

Each lap was 13.8 miles in length and had about 1300 feet of climbing.  However, with momentum being my best friend, I probably only had to pedal up 900 of those 1300 feet ... on my 2nd and 3rd lap, anyway.

I finally caught up to my SuperSport teammate Lisa Randall who was racing solo, towards the end of the lap.  We came through the Start/Finish together.  I could tell she was going to have a good day as she looked really strong.

While Ursula was out, I refueled, stretched, and rested.  When I thought it was time for her to roll through, I made my way up to the transition area.  When Ursula came through on her first lap, we were about 4 minutes behind first.  I was bound and determined to make up the difference after my frustrating first lap.

I was on fire my second lap.  Finally in my own bubble, I was able to focus on being smooth and efficient.  With no one in front of me, I let go of the reins and went as hard as I could.  I soon caught Lisa again.  From her body language, I could tell she would be able to give Andrea a run for the money.

She was not too far behind Andrea as I caught up to her within a minute or two.  As I passed quickly by her, she asked if I was solo or duo.  I said, "What do you think ... duo."  There was no way I would be blazing by her if I was solo; she is one strong racer chick.  Andrea then asked if anyone was ahead of her to which I replied, "It's just you!"

With 6 miles to go, I finally caught the first place team.  I passed and then surged, not wanting her to latch on.  I continued to race "like a scalded dog," and when I came through the Start/Finish line, I gave Ursula a 4 minute cushion.

Back at the vehicle, I was preparing for my final lap when Lisa zoomed in.  I asked what she needed; she looked desperate.  She finally told me she had lost a contact and could not find a spare in her vehicle; they were all at the hotel.  Not being able to focus well enough at high speeds, she pulled the plug.  Damn!  I felt really bad for her because she was having such a good race.  Guess what now will go in her hydration pack alongside the tube, CO2, and other bike repair items?

Ursula had another amazing lap, maintaining our lead.  Knowing that this would be our final lap, I became a wee bit conservative as now was not the time to be fixing a flat or peeling oneself off a tree.  I was also feeling my fast second lap ... on the short steep climbs.  Legs began to bark!  I managed to catch up to Shaggy and he gave me enough motivation to grunt and grind my way up the switchbacks.

I finished us up at 4:01 pm.  We ended up 19 minutes ahead of second with a total of 5 laps.  Ursula had been a nervous Nelly about living up to my expectations, but in reality she had nothing to worry about.  Ursula is 55 years young and does a lot of butt kickin' to women half her age.  I just hope that I can keep my fitness like she has hers.

All teams completed 5 laps

Once again, I have to commend the Jason Bumgarner and his crew.  The couse was pristine, the start was on time, the food was most excellent, the prizes are things I will actually use, the awards were on time, and I got to bring beer home for my hubby.

Cash for duos, too!

A big shout out to my team mates Jeff Clayton who won the 40+ solo category and to Van Mixon who was 4th in the 40+ solo.

Podium Pottery!