Monday, May 21, 2012

Stottlemeyer 60 miler 2012

When I raced the Stottlemeyer 60 miler last year, it was the furthest I had ever ridden a mountain bike at that time.  One year later and I was back out at Port Gamble for the 2012 edition of the race.  After a wonderful two week streak of sunshine in the PNW, the trails were in tip-top shape, rich with hero-dirt and blue grooves.  The course route was similar to last year, but with some nice little tweaks:  the race now finished back at the start/parking area, the longest singletrack climb was taken out for a faster feel, and some new sections of trail replaced the longest fireroad segment of last year's course.  All in all, the race was said to be 6 miles longer this year, closer to an even 60 miles.

Photo credit:  Tad Sooter / Kitsap Sun
Despite the additional mileage and singletrack, finishing times seemed faster on average this year.  Garett Heitman and I took the lead from the beginning and cruised for the first 3 of 4 laps.  Both of us love riding rooty, twisty, tight trails, so we had a lot of fun.  I grew up riding technical trails like this, but it isn't often that I get to race on them.  At the end of the third lap, Garett decided to sit up and take the fourth lap a little easier.  I was still feeling pretty fresh, so I decided to attack the last lap like it was an olympic-length XC race.  Looking back at my Garmin, my last lap did end up being my fastest, at around 1 hour and 1 minute!  Whitney made her first 60 mile mtb race look easy and finished in just over 6 hours.  All those Trailhead classes she has been doing have really paid off!

Once again, this years Stottlemeyer was a super fun race.  Kevin Reinkensmeyer and the rest of the NW Epic Series crew put together a killer race course and the number of friendly volunteers was awe-inspiring.  Super helpful and enthusiastic course marshalls and feed zone staff.  Speaking of feed zones, they were well stocked with food and drinks and I was able to quickly top-off my bottles with Clif Electrolyte mix and get rolling again.

If you have not checked out the NW Epic Series events yet, you should.  I'd definitely recommend them to anyone looking for longer endurance/marathon style races on fun trails.

Kitsap Sun article: here

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cascade Chainbreaker - "flat tire fiesta"

My buddy Gian and I made a quick trip down to Bend, Oregon last weekend for the Cascade Chainbreaker XC race.  The race was held on some private property just outside of town.  It was hot and oh so incredibly dusty (by my Bellingham standards anyways)!  The course reminded me a little of South Seatac, but east of the mountains.

After a bad start, I sat about 15th wheel as we entered the first singletrack.  I could see Barry Wicks and Carl Decker riding away from everyone on the front and thought I might never see them again.  After some sneaky passes in loose corners and dusty descents, I was able to work my way back towards the front of the race and bridge across to the lead group of Barry, Carl, and two other riders.  I rode with them, wishing I had x-ray vision to see the trail beneath all the dust.  My brain actually hurt from concentrating so hard on riding the invisible trail under me.  To make matters worse, I noticed my front tire felt a little soft in the corners, but seemed to be holding air.  Shortly after, though my back tire started slowly going flat.  I quickly pulled over and tried to air it back up with my hand pump (I hate CO2s but I'm gonna start using them again).  Patrick rode by and very kindly dropped his CO2, so I used that and got both my tires aired back up and jumped back into the race, probably in around 10th place now.  And then...  my my back tire went soft again.  After a lot of pumping and inspecting, I figured out that it was my valve stem that was leaking and I had to resort to putting a tube in.

I finally got rolling again and was glad to be able to keep riding.  I was really bummed out and kinda angry for a while, but the riding totally relaxed me and put my head back in the right place.  Mountain biking never fails to put a smile on me face, even if I am a half hour behind Barry Wicks.  The beer-feed in the infield area helped too.

The river felt soooo good afterwards!
Both Patrick and Gian had good races, finishing 4th and 6th respectively.  We jumped in the Deschutes River afterwards and then in another river on our drive home.  That may have been the highlight of the whole weekend.  The mega-MPG was cool too:  44mpg with two dudes, bikes, and gear to the roof.

Next up is the Stottlemeyer 60 mile race out at Port Gamble.  Did this one last year and it was super fun.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beezley Burn - FTRS#1

The Fat Tire Revolution Series is a new mountain bike series that includes six races throughout Central Washington.  This year the long-running Beezley Burn cross-country race was held as the first event of the new series.  The course is fast and dry, with not a whole lot of climbing.  From the slopes of Beezley Hill, you can look out across Ephrata and the surrounding farmlands.  Here is a video I shot at last year's race following Russell Stevenson on the longest descent on the course:

With the absence of Kona rider Spencer Paxson at this year's race, I knew I had a good shot at the win.  I decided to take the race by the reigns and really hammer up the first climb before the singletrack.  Gian Dalle, Troy Heithecker, Kevin Bradford-Parish, and Garett Heitman stayed with me through the rolling sage-brush singletrack until the course turned upwards.  I pushed hard into the descent and my Racing Ralphs gripped tenaciously on the dry dirt and rocks.  By the bottom of the downhill, it was only Garett Heitman (Clif Bar) and myself.  Garett took a long pull along the dike into the wind and I was finally able to catch my breath a bit.  Garett and I hammered the 2nd lap, with Kevin and Troy only 20 seconds back most of the time.  Garett's long riding history and experience showed in how well he could rail the downhill sections. Super impressive.  

By the 3rd and final lap, we had extended our lead to a comfortable amount and I knew the race would be won by either Garett or myself.  I pushed extra hard in a rocky, bumpy climbing section, using full suspension to my advantage.  It was enough to pull away from Garett, but the gap remained small into the descent.  I rallied hard, but Garett was still closing in on me!  Fortunately I had enough of a lead that I could hang on into the finish for the win.  Garett rode super strong and smooth.  I smell a comeback.

Photo courtesy of Vicious Cycles.
Beezley Burn delivered the goods once again.  Jake from Vicious Cycles does such a great of job putting on events.  He had free food, drinks, and a raffle for everyone afterwards.  The atmosphere was so much fun that everyone actually wanted to stay for all of the awards.  Now I have to figure out how I can work 5 out of 6 of his races into my calender.