Friday, May 31, 2013

My Birthday Race Weekend (5/26-27/13)

Last weekend was my 13th birthday and now I finally get to officially claim that I'm a teenager. Of course, what did I do over my birthday weekend? I raced!

The first stop was Albany, Georgia. My mom and I drove up there Friday night for the Saturday morning criterium. My dad was supposed to race too, but he was up in New York for a funeral and wasn't able to get back in time.

This was only the second time ever I've raced a crit, and I knew I needed the experience before Road Nationals in July. Doing road races feels so much different than doing mountain bike races. For one thing, I know so many people in the mountain bike community (and so many seem to know me) and I hardly know anybody in road. Also, mountain bike racing is much more casual.

The juniors all started together and it was hard to tell which class people were racing in. One guy, a 17-18 racer, went off the front on about lap 3 or 4. I tried to chase him briefly, which spread the field really thin when they tried to chase me, but when I realized he wasn't in my class, I decided it wasn't worth going after him, and I slowed down and settled in at the back of the pack to rest for a lap or two. The course was really short--basically a 2-block square--and each lap lasted less than 2 minutes. This race was different from the one I did in Brooksville last year too. At that race, there were a lot of games going on, attacks being made and speed changes at different places around the course. For this one, there didn't seem to be much of that. It was just more or less straight up racing, which I liked better. I finished first in my age group and third overall, which was a great way to start my birthday weekend.

If you want to see what crit racing is like, check out the video my dad put together of the race.

2013 SB&T Bike Downtown Junior Criterium - Albany, GA from MTBMike on Vimeo.

From Albany, my mom and I drove to Jackson, Georgia to meet my dad (who was flying in from New York) and to pre-ride the course for the race on Sunday. I have to say I was not happy with the course. It seemed rutted out more than last year and I didn't have very good luck at Dauset the last 2 years, so I wasn't feeling too positive going into the race. I was confident I could do well, but it's just not my favorite place to race. If you don't know why I say that, you can go back to my old posts from 2011 and 2012.

Sitting on the line I tried to concentrate on this race. I got a great start and went into the woods first. Behind me, people were making mistakes and scrambling to catch back up, while I just continued to ride my pace. I wish I had been able to see all the action because I probably would've made more attacks and tried harder to lose them on the first lap, but I was trying to conserve energy when I could because Dauset can be a tough course, even though it's not super long.

I came through the start/finish area leading the first lap. As soon as I came out of the chute, I put the hammer down and sprinted up the starting climb into the woods. I was hoping to lose Carter, McKenly and Pierce once and for all. I think I did get away for a little while, but when I backed off to recover, they caught back up (very frustrating).

Anyway, I managed to keep Carter behind me for almost the whole last lap. Then, just when I thought I was going to be home free, (because I knew there would be nowhere else to really pass), Carter made an unexpected move and got around me just before a sharp turn the last 1/2 mile or so from the finish. I rode his wheel and tried to pass him back, but like I said, there really wasn't any safe place to do it. We sprinted to the finish, but there's no open space before the chute either, so I pretty much knew it was a lost cause. We finished 1 and 2 with McKenly only a couple of seconds behind for third. I was extremely disappointed, but I figure I will just have to make it up to Carter by beating him this weekend at Bump-n-Grind. LOL :-)

2013 US Cup East SERC#6 Dauset Trails - Jackson, GA Cat 2 15 to 18 from MTBMike on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 SERC #5...or A River Runs Through It (5/19/13)

After 3 weeks off the bike and a month of no racing, I was super anxious to line up again for SERC #5. I had my last doctor visit the Thursday before the race and was told that I could go back to my regular training and racing routine and I was stoked.

The pre-ride on Saturday went well, but on Sunday morning, the storms rolled in and it poured for most of the first wave. By the time my wave went off at 11:30, some parts of the course were an inch deep in water, and a lot of places were slick with peanut butter mud and wet roots. Dave Berger shortened the course by about a couple of miles, taking out the granite section for safety reasons. It made the race shorter, less than 50 minutes, but it was still a good workout.

Even though we had to deal with crummy course conditions, this was one of the most fun races I've had in a while. Carter Anderson and I swapped positions at least 10 times and Silas stayed close. There was so much mud flying around that almost everybody had the same color jersey (brown/orange) and my prescription glasses got so caked in mud that I had to take them off and ride blind. Seriously--my vision is like 20/200 without glasses. I'm not usually one who rides wheels on the mountain bike, but for some sections of the trail I was actually relieved when Carter got in front because then I could just follow his lines until we got back out into the open.

 At the very end of the last lap, Silas, who was in third, got around me when I got sucked into some rutty mud and I just didn't have the legs to attack back. He and Carter finished a super close first and second, with me coming in right behind in third.

 I really wanted to come back and win after my broken wrist healed, but I can't complain. I was pretty happy with my race. I rode hard and consistent and finished with a spot on the podium. The competition in the Cat 2 this year is very good, so any podium finish is a great finish. So far for the series, a different person has won every race. I hope to be the first to get a second win when I take on my nemesis course at Dauset next weekend.

Check out the video of the race below.

2013 US Cup East SERC #5 Cat2 15 to 18 from MTBMike on Vimeo.

Monday, May 6, 2013

2013 Sea Otter Classic

The wide open view during the pre-ride.

The Sea Otter Classic is an event I had been looking forward to for almost a year and my dad had spent about 6 months planning. California's not exactly a quick trip up the road in the Prius and flying with the bikes was new to both of us. Fortunately, my dad found a double bike case and we were able to pack them together and check them in without too much trouble.

After a REALLY long day traveling on the Wednesday before my race, we got our rental car (minivan) and drove up the Pacific Coast Highway. It was very pretty and totally different from anything I've seen before. On Thursday, we headed straight to the event to pick up our registration packets and pre-ride the course, so my dad would be ready for his race on Friday. We also met a few friends and hung out at the ProGold tent with Bruce Dickman and some of the other guys, including the owner. I got to work the booth and show off my mad demo skills. (lol)

When I wasn't riding the course, or promoting ProGold products, I spent a lot of time at the Kenda/Felt tent riding the mechanical bull. (Yes, I said mechanical bull.) It was so much fun! By the end of the week, I had the second longest time, only 5 seconds off the record.

During the week we spent in California, we also went to see the movie 'Single Track High' and even took a quick dip in the Pacific Ocean. Being from Florida, I thought I knew what the beach was like. I didn't expect the water to be THAT cold!

On Sunday morning, my dad and I got up early, so that we could get a good parking spot at the event. There were a lot of different kinds of events going on during the day and we knew it would be packed. Even so, our "good" spot ended up being about a mile or two away from the start/finish area.

Juniors 13-14 line up for the start
As we lined up, I noticed there were about 50 of us in the class. I am used to Florida starts, where there is no call up, so you have to line up and claim your spot early. I did that at Sea Otter too and got right where I wanted to be. I was feeling great and ready to race! The first 2 miles were on speedway track and I decided to start the race off with a long, hard sprint, try to get out front, and see who could hang with me. It worked pretty well, too. I didn't see what was going on behind, but my dad said that my class was the only one all day that was strung out single-file going around the track. Eventually, I settled in and the strong riders caught up. Then we got squeezed together going into the dirt and I got shuffled back a little. I would make some of it up on the first climb and even more on the descent. I was flying and it was so cool! I was running in the lead pack as we crested the second hill. Then, out of nowhere, another rider tried to make a pass on me and lost control of his bike. He crashed right in front of me, I ran over his wheel, and went over the handlebars. I got back up, but when I tried to get going again, there was a shooting pain in my wrist. I rode for about another 20 minutes (according to the video), but when I hit a pothole just before the single-track, I knew my race was over. The pain was awful!

By the time my dad found out what happened to me and got down to the medical station, I was all bandaged up. The EMT's thought I probably had a broken wrist, so we headed out to an urgent care place to get x-rays.

Nothing looks broken to me. :-p

The whole experience was kind of a bummer, especially since I had really high expectations for this race. Despite getting taken out in the first 10 minutes or so of the race, my dad put together a good video documenting our trip. I hope you enjoy it.

2013 Sea Otter 13 to 14 from MTBMike on Vimeo.

Once we got back, it was off to the doctor to get a second opinion, and the first cast put on. The doctor gave us better news. Instead of having to wear the cast for 8 weeks, he thought I would only need it for about 3 and would only be off the bike for about 4 weeks. That sure sounded better, although I was definitely hoping when he looked at the new x-rays that he would say "It's not really broken. Just rest for this week."  Oh well, I guess a little rest couldn't hurt. But now I'm dying to get back on my bike and race. Hopefully I'll see everyone out there soon.