Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vacation report

It's a pretty successful vacation when you can bring both your road and mountain bikes and log a combined 5 hours on them in 3 days all while entertaining the kiddies and not using up too many marital points. In case anyone's wondering, the hills in the greater Conway area aren't getting any smaller. The whole thing was nearly a bust when the rain started to fall Sunday morning while I was getting dressed, but I successfully threw myself out into the raindrops for 3 hours of road-grit covered fun.

Tuesday I found myself at Great Glen Trails with a permission slip to jump into the Tuesday night series that they put on. Pretty sweet deal if you're ever in the area. 5 miles TT style for $12, just show and go. Course is typical Great Glen... 75% twisty and hilly fire roads interspersed with legit single-track. Perfect for big ringing around to the point of wanting to vomit and then having to handle your bike while cross eyed... woo hoo. I didn't have time to pre-ride the loop so I just went in blind and only lightly warmed up and I'm sure that cost me a small amount of time. Still managed second place for sport last night and second fastest sport time of the series this year. No reason to complain at all. Oh, and to the dirt crowd, keep an eye on the name Sam Anderson... according to results the kid is 18 and put 4 minutes into me last night. Now I know I'm nothing special as far as benchmarks go, but I also have a good sense of where one could have gained time on that course and 4 minutes is beyond my comprehension.

Next up... the big one

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This is gonna hurt

What better way to train for my aspirations to race 1 hour CX races than to do back to back 45 minute CX races. This could leave a mark...

The bad news is that I've discovered I have to miss Gloucester this year...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Elbow update

This is giving more signs of being a bit of a slow recovery, but there's a chance that it may be the type of thing that just feels better one morning. I rode yesterday for the first time and any jarring from the road isn't feeling that good. Check in with the doctor tomorrow to make sure there's no signs of infection and then that worry should be over with. The fork isn't fixed yet which is no worry since I'll probably be at least another week before I can get back on the trails. I'm definitely going to be at a bike handling disadvantage going into GG, but that course isn't that technical anyways so it's all good.

In other news I'm very proud of the boys these days... they're all proving that true talent skips a generation. The oldest was named co-MVP of his baseball team and he was by far the youngest on the team. The middle one got his first chance to pitch in a game this week and lit it up with 2 K's and no runs allowed (at 6 years old). The youngest amazed family and neighbors by passing the official family "lose the training wheels test" at just over 4 years old. I'm already asking him if he's in for CX season. Yes I'm bragging... deal with it :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sometimes the luck runs out

Update: After being yelled at by one friend already, I'm adding a warning that there's a semi-gross picture further down this post. Maybe not mealtime reading...

I've noticed, and some guys I ride with have said the same thing, that there are an amazing number of times when a MTB crash results in nothing more than a funny story and some dirt to wash off. You can take a flaming endo down a hill into a rock garden and somehow land in between all the sharp ones. You can even launch yourself into the woods and have the trees cushion your fall instead of impaling you. As it turns out though, it is apparently just luck and sometimes that runs out. Before getting to the gory details, let's first visit the happier days of Domnarski Farm...

Looking at the pre-reg list on Friday I discovered that Mr. RMM who had bested me by one spot at Sterling CX last year had signed up for the cat 2 race... bonus, this could be as good a time as any to test my fitness and try for some revenge. He had been riding pretty well lately too so it was a good goal. At the same time, I needed to start packing in some mileage for Pats Peak and Great Glen so I made the decision to go early and ride the whole course before the race. When I got there, I found Matt (farm owner and race host/promoter) and asked him if the whole thing was marked because I wanted to pre-ride. He looked at me kinda funny and said "The big loop? You're going to be pretty tired." Hmmmm, was this the best plan? Shunning his warnings, I headed out which turned out to be a great decision. I discovered a few things: 1) The hole shot was basically irrelevant because the climbs were going to sort this mess out regardless, 2) There was going to be a complete cluster f about 400m in, 3) There were some swamps and mud pits late in the race that would probably come into play in a close race. I finished up the very casual ride-around in about 1:20 and the posted GPS map of the course said 1:11 so I figured I was doing ok. Off to sit around for about 90 minutes before race time.

Sitting around almost turned out to be my downfall. When I went to saddle back up and warm up my legs were like "Um, dude, we already worked today... F U". Fortunately 20 minutes or so of negotiating with them and we had an agreement to go again. Armed with my course knowledge I nailed the reverse hole shot and walked up the first kicker with everyone else, then got on to the climby climby thing. RMM took the opposite approach and got an ok start and then was a bit up the trail early on, but I caught back on with him on the single-track as we both hacked our way through it. Somewhere along the way he opened a sizeable gap and now I was just waiting for the late hills to bring back as many guys as I could. Out on the brutal climbs up the power lines I picked off several more by riding the first section and then quickly trudging the second and caught a brief glimpse of RMM coming back a little. I knew that once you got to the top of the power lines it was pretty much downhill and mud pits from there so I totally went for it and caught back on with him just after the giant swamp. Despite a good long stretch of the no brakes game on the fast fire-roads and some single-track, he was still there so this was going to come down to the finish. He edged in front somewhere in the mud puts and then I was sure we were winding up for the final downhill into the finish. I knew I could take that hill faster than he seemed willing to so I had clicked up to a big gear to get ready. Unfortunately, I forgot about that last mud pit... I rode into this giant mess horribly over-geared and he was able to ride right through so I was in chase mode again with little time left. We hit the top of the final descent and I got right back on, then tried to bomb around to the left. We were side by side when I realized that there was a giant wheel crushing rock on the far left side so I had to do a brief check-up just as he opened the sprint. Fresh off his Exeter finish, the sprint turned into no contest and I rolled in about 3 seconds back. Turned out we were 2 and 3 in the 30-39 cat 2 and that got me $25 cash money... yay.

Now in contrast to that bit of fun and success, Pats Peak was just plain old bad from start to finish. I targeted getting there around 10 for a noon start and ended up stuck behind some blue hairs so I got there at 10:15, 10 minutes before the riders meeting. They then announced that they didn't want us setting up bottles or feeds near the finish tent unless we had paid for a tech site (WTF?). Fortunately, mountain bikers are good people and I got 3 offers to bum some tent space from those who had paid. I even tried to pay the people I hooked up with and just got "No worries, it's all good." This would be the end of goodness for the day.

Pats Peak is another course where how you handle the climbs 4 or 5 hours into the race matters a hell of a lot more than being out in front for lap one so I put in a nice little jog to the bike and just was ready for some bottleneck induced hike-a-bike on the first lap. Not unexpectedly, sections of the course were pretty damn wet and the let-me-make-this-trail-wider-to-find-a-dry-line game had already started on lap one. Fortunately, the really hard parts of the climbs were bone dry so that was not a forced hike last last year's GG. I was riding pretty well up through the first summit and as I started the downhill I could tell something wasn't right. Every time I hit a rock/bump/ditch something would just clunk and bang and I almost immediately figured out it was the fork. I had ridden the day before and had a little tiny bit of this, but I thought I was just running the tires too low and was clanging the rims on the roots. Now it was obvious that suspension fork was not suspending. This made the single-track descent much more hair-raising and after coming through in about 35 minutes for lap one I had to run over to check fork air pressure. Negative pressure was down to like 50 so I pumped that back up and headed out again, hoping for the best. Being admitedly ignorant still on all the innards of suspension forks, I was guessing. Well it became quickly obvious that I was still hosed so I again set about picking my way through anything that was seven semi-technical. Down through the single-track downhill again and I knew I'd be visiting the mechanic and possibly going home. At one spot there was a decent sized hole with a hump after it and I totally botched it with my now effectively rigid fork. Over the bars I go and don't I find the sharp rock in the middle of the trail with my elbow. Hmmm, um, OUCH!!! Blood check... yup, we've got lots. Well folks, it's been fun. Rode it down and headed for the mechanic and first-aid. I think some small fragment of my brain was thinking of going back out if I could which is why I bothered with the mechanic.

The first-aid folks did a bit of cleanup, but were pretty certain stitches were in order and there was a concerning looking bubble in the middle of the bigger cut. Time to pack up and drive home to the hospital. Once I finally got through the totally back-asswards reg process in the ER I got to see the doctor. She checks out the damage and I tell her that the little bubble thing is a little concerning and she says "Oh, that's just a piece of your muscle... we'll put that back in where it belongs." She later recanted and said it was actually some of the fatty tissue that protects your elbow, but regardless, inside stuff was no longer inside. And you know what that means... picture time:

As it turns out, I upped the ante more by chipping the bone in my elbow which then pushed this injury into the category of "open fracture". About a liter and a half of saline to clean the mountain out of it, some IV antibiotics to deal with my insides being outside, and 7 stitches later I was sent on my way to drown my sorrows in beer and pizza. I think I'll be shopping for an elbow pad for Great Glen... maybe I'll hire my own medical crew too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pats Peak Race Report

Pats Peak 6-hour by the numbers:

3+ hours of driving
Roughly 1:15 of "racing"
1 Reba fork in need of overhaul
7 stitches

Full report (as well as less suck-filled Domnarski Farm report tomorrow)