Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Manatoc Experience

The Big Valley Race was a race I had circled on my calendar since it was first announced. For a little background, I was as a scout when I was a wee little one. I got my eagle and spent 8 years at Camp Manatoc. So this a very special place for me. I remember walking the trails of Camp Manatoc as a scout thinking these trails would be awesome to bike on. So last year when I started Mountain Biking and found out their was a race at Manatoc, I made it a goal to race that race. I ended up breaking a chain and finished second to last. So I had a settle to score.

I showed up and parked and met a very nice couple who drove down for this race from New York. They said they got their bikes this month and found the race today. Good for them. Lined up and got ready. I was questioning my tire choice as I picked my Small Block 8's, hoping it would be dry enough. Unfourtanitly, I could have really used my knobby Karma's. Live and learn I guess.

At the start my goal was to get to the front, and not wear myself out. So at the start I slotted in behind the first rider and stayed on his back wheel. I got a nice draft and saved a lot of energy doing so. The two of us slowly started to pull a gap on the field pretty soon and it was long before we had a 30 second gap on the field. When I knew our break was going to stick, I asked him what age class he was in suspecting he was in age group above me, that way if he was we could work together. He was in the next class up but any hopes of working together went down the drain when I washed out and fell hard, throwing my bottle and gel packs flying. Picked up my bike and got back on. I looked back and saw the third place rider and pushed myself to get my gap back. A short two miles later I came down a gravel road hill and started climbing up to see my mother and the beautiful sara cheering me on. This picked up my spirits and I picked up the pace once again.
I soon crested the hill behind the flagpool and knew it was all over, I never got passed the entire course and crested the hill and rolled down to the finish line knowing that I had completed what I had dreamed of doing for a year. It was a great feeling to hear people cheering for me and yelling my name as I came down that hill. I crossed the line giving CAMBA President Brett a high five and being surronded by Sara and my mother. I had completed the course in 48 minutes (a lot better than the hour and a half than last year), with a 10 mph average. It was a great moment for me and it was great getting another win after not winning since April.

Thanks CAMBA, Bike Authority, Crank Brothers, Ritchey Products and Kenda for letting me fullfill my dream of winning this race.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

DC Vacation

This summer has been incredibly busy and hard on the body and mind. I have been putting in a lot of hard efforts on the bike and working alot. I decided to take a much needed vacation to Washington D.C. to visit my sister and my brother. I hadn't seen them for a long time and I haven't done much of anything besides work and ride.

So I packed up the bike I'm trading to my brother and headed down to DC on saturday. I had sold him a fixed gear bike at the beggining of summer and that proved to be a little to much for the summer heat and his location. They aren't big hills by any means but after a long day of work or visiting attractions those hills become gruelling on a fixed gear. I can't blame him a couple times I was struggling to get up those hills. However, this switch also allowed me to have a bike while I was in the city. I parked my car when I arrived and since then it only moved once, and that's when I transfered everything from my brothers apartment to my sisters. In total I think we did about 50 miles for the week, Monday we did 30 miles around town.

DC is really a bike friendly place to live, and it's really the best way to get around. Bike racks are located in convient places so you never have to worry about finding a parking spot. Bike lanes are plentiful and if you ever get tired you can bring your bike on the metro or on a bus. This trip made me really want to move down here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rubber City Meltdown

Today was the first Rubber City Meltdown, which included a criterium held in downtown Akron. Along with the Crit there were rides along the towpath and other offerings. So any biker of any level could partake, and if the urban mountain bike challenges happens next year it will be truly an all encompassing event. This race is definitly on my calendar for next year.

I arrived early and got my number and as I was returning to the car I saw a familar vehicle. I should have known this but fellow teammate Nancy Desmond was there repping for CAMBA along with myself. I soon met up with Frank from Solon racing and new I was in for a good ride. Soon enough my good friend Sarah pulls up and now I have four "allys" in the race.

The course started on top of a hill slightly down the road from Luigis restuarant, took us down furnace hill into a blazing fast and wide open turn. A long slightly uphill straight leads into a hairpin up a sharp grade to a s turn under a bridge, followed by a short stretch of 2% grade to the flat finish line. It was a challenging course with the climbs but I felt a safe course as the fast turns were wide and you could really rail your bike around them without fear of crashing.

The four of us warmed up together and wait around to ride the course once before our race. The race starts out faster than a lot of us anticipated, two riders in baggie shorts and t-shirts took off. I made my way towards the front and jump into the slipstream. We took the hairpin turn up a steep grade and five riders, including myself broke away. I was shocked to make it into the lead group truthfully. The next lap starts and one of the riders in the t-shirts explodes and is soon off the back. This left us with two under 40 riders and two over forties. At this point I'm pretty certain that I can atleast clinch second in my age group and hoping the same fate will fall on the other t-shirted rider. I take a short pull on the front, which would be my only pull of the day. I wasn't planning to pull much and my dimiutive size doesn't help the other riders so I never went to the front again. Coming to 3 laps to go my legs gave out finally, and I slowley watched the three riders pull away. I take my losses and use the downhill to really recover and started pushing again. I didn't want to lose my place and most importantly I wanted to be in position if the other rider lost touch with the lead riders. So I transitioned to the drops, where I should have been the majority of the time, since I cornered better, and started to solo timetrail. Coming down the hill a lapped rider took a hard fall at the bottom of the hill, laying his bike down and sliding on his butt to the side of the road. I didn't see it happen but came across him just as he had stopped sliding. A real trooper who finished the race even after siding on his butt doing 30 mph. Two laps to go I see Sarah in the distance and race up to her. As I got close I yelled, "You got anything else?" Hoping see had a little bit of energy to help me bridge the gap. She didn't hear me and I soon came rushing past her.

The last lap I saw a rider in the distance who I think was the other rider in my age group and catch up to him right before the end. Unfourtanitly it wasn't the same rider and I ended up taking 2nd in my age group and 4th overall. Nancy ended up 3rd overall in the her age class. Another strong showing for CAMBA on some skinny tires!

Thanks to CAMBA, Bike Authority, Kenda, CrankBrothers and Ritchey products for helping me race.