Monday, May 17, 2010

Bone Bender

After having spent all of last week nursing my wounded calf muscle, I wasn’t sure as to whether I’d be doing the race up until the morning of the race. Julie and I went out for am easy ride Saturday afternoon and everything seemed to feel OK. I did a few very short, hard efforts to see how it felt and I didn’t notice any discomfort. However a 30 second effort is a far cry from a 6 hour effort, preceded by a le mans start.
The next morning we drove to the course, Julie and I did a short recon of the first part of the course and everything felt great, so I decided to sign up for the 6 hour with the intent of dropping out if I didn’t like the way my leg felt. We lined up for the start and I took it really easy on the run for fear of blowing my calf out again. I ran slowly enough that I didn’t feel a thing and finally got to my bike and ended up at about mid pack of 200+ racers.
I encountered the usual traffic jams going into the singletrack when stuck in mid pack. I was OK with that though as it forced me to take it easy in the beginning. The traffic was such that I ended up having to dismount a couple of times at a big log crossing and one of the rocky drops, due to others having to dismount. I had a couple of cats behind me that were annoyingly talkative in their efforts to get by me. I had kinda forgotten how people get when they get stuck in traffic, anxiously trying to get by in areas where there is no place to pass. I’m never sure where they think they’re going to go because if they get by me, they’re gonna get stuck behind the guy in front of me.
I finally cleared myself of the traffic jams near the end of lap 1 and was finally able to settle into a good enduro pace. I had no idea what place I was in throughout the race, however I was feeling good enough that I felt the urge to increase the effort to make up ground on the leaders. My better judgment kept my aggression in check and I maintained a comfortable pace as I didn’t want to exert more effort than my bad wheel could handle. Once clear of traffic, the course became a lot more fun to ride with plenty of techy stuff such as logs and bike component/man eating rock gardens.
Here’s a short list of interesting things that I saw throughout the race. I passed Squirrel at some point and noticed that he was riding a fully rigid bike, my lower back hurt a little worse as I passed him. The next time that I passed Squirrel, he was hangin’ loose underneath the Rassy tent with a cold beer in hand. I saw two dudes riding their bikes with on crank arm in place, and the other either in hand, or dangling from the bottom of his shoe. Lebeda and his son doing a father/son duo in the six hour race. I passed his son and started thinking about how cool it would be do something like that with your son. They’re both going to cherish the memories from this event for the rest of their lives. Passing Maria Von Ruhtenberg a few times and noticing a little more blood trickling down her leg with each pass. She’s taking her lumps this year, however she’s progressing nicely and is making a strong case for earning the title as the all time best in mental fortitude. She finished the 6 hour race and I’m very proud of her for sticking it out. Julie had a great race and ended up finishing 2nd overall on the 3 hour race, behind Nebraska mountain biking studette Roxeanne Feagan. When I talked to her after the race, she expressed regret in settling for the 3 hour race because she felt like she still had a lot left in the tank. So to make up for it, she decided to sign up for the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge, CO. We also talked her brother into signing up. I think that she’s going to chick her brother, despite the Firecracker being held in his ‘back yard’.
I ended up finishing 5th overall, within a few minutes of 2nd through 4th. The guy that won was something like 30 minutes ahead of 2nd place. I’ve never heard of the guy, however I’m guessing that he must know the place like the back of his hand to get that kind of a gap on everybody else. I was pretty content with the result, crap, I was pretty happy that I was able to even ride after what I had gone through last week!
The following weekend, Julie and I made the trek to Iowa City to do some road ragin’. Not much to report other than my discovery that as you get older, you have to pee a lot more often. I must have peed like 6 times prior to the start of the race! Ten minutes into the race, I had to pee again, so much so that I was seeing yellow. It was very distracting and made it difficult to keep my head in the game. Finally, after 4 ½ laps of doing the anti-pee dance on my bike, I finally caved in and stopped to pee on the side of the road. The neutral support vehicle slowed thinking that I had a flat. He slowed long enough to see the golden shower flowing into the ditch, and then hit the gas and took off. I wasn’t able to catch back up to the group, so I decided to bail with a lap to go. I was pretty anxious to hit the road and see my niece on her 3rd birthday anyway!

Two more reports down, three more to go before I get caught up. Three weekends ago I did the Psycowpath race at Swanson, two weeks ago-ish I did the IMBCS race at Camp Ingawanis. Last weekend I did a couple of roadie races at the state fair grounds. Reports coming soon-ish.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sylvan Island

Unlike last years race through mud and oil slicks, this years edition of the Stampede served up some close to perfect weather and dry conditions. As we were lining up for the start of the race, I did my usual scan of all of the cats near the front and noticed the Eppenator, 2007 Chequamegon champ Jesse Lalonde, Aaron Robnett and Padawan Gammell. There may have been a few others that I didn’t recognize, however the field was strong enough with who I did recognize.
So the race started and Eppen grabbed the hole shot. I was sitting 2nd wheel going into the woods, which is exactly where I wanted to be. I was feeling really good, riding well and had no trouble hanging onto to Eppen’s wheel as we negotiated the serpentine trails of Sylvan Island….until my handlebar clipped a tree. The ends of my handlebars are always pretty beat up from grazing trees through tight singletrack, however the graze is never enough to knock me off course. I must have had some bad karma owed to me, because this time was a little different. I was knocked askew enough to hit something else, whatever it was, it was big enough that I got bucked over the bars. By the time I had realized what had happened, I was lying on my side in the weeds with my bike spooning me from behind.

Maria is yellin' at me because I crashed.

I jumped up and straightened my handlebars, all the while getting passed by what seemed to be the entire field of 50-ish racers. It only ended up being 10 or 15. I ‘took’ my place in line and regained my rhythm pretty quickly. It took about a half a lap before I could finally pass some of the slower traffic ahead of me. At the first open section, I was finally able to get by all that had passed me, with the exception of Lalonde. By that time, Jesse and Brian were long gone.
I tried pretty hard to reel them back in over the course of 5 laps and in looking at the lap times, I was within a few seconds of their lap times, but never faster. By the end of lap 5, the effects of my altercation with Mother Nature were starting to catch up with me. My lower back was killing me and when you have no lower back, you have very little leverage with which to transfer the power to the pedals. My lap times dropped dramatically over lap 6 and 7, however I managed to salvage a 3rd place in the end.

My Mom is in her happy place.

Brian is hairy, kinda looks like he should be in a Geico commercial.

Julie had a pretty stellar race, and ended up 4th overall in a stacked field of 25 women that included the other half of the Eppenator, Robin Williams, Brittany McConnell and a few others. We’ve been exchanging coaching services, strength training for me and cycling for her. She’s been working her tail off this winter and spring and it’s starting to show through her results. I’m pretty anxious to see how the rest of the season goes for her!

Julie is in her happy place too.

Julie's killin' it and scoring some style points in the rocks.

If it hadn't been for a flat tire, Padawan Gammell might have crushed me.

I was pretty happy with the result. Despite the mishap, I rode pretty well and felt pretty good until by back checked out on me. I didn’t realize the extent of the bodily damage until a day or two after the race. A bruised tail bone, which was most likely the reason for the excessive back fatigue. A deep bruise behind my upper calf muscle, which had me walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame for a few days and forced a three day hiatus from the bike. My calf got the point where it seemed to be getting worse rather than better, so on Thursday I made a phone call to my buddy Dave Freesman of Rock Valley Physical Therapy and was able to get in the next morning. The short version of the story, I walked into Rock Valley Friday morning dragging my left leg behind me. After running some electricity through my calf and an ultrasound treatment, I was walking normally and riding relatively pain free by Friday night. I owe a huge thanks to Dave for taking care of me so quickly, not to mention his expertise in the field of physical therapy. He’s an accomplished athlete and has an intimate understanding of sports related physical therapy.

So I’m a little behind on the race reports, life’s been a little on the busy side lately. I ended up doing the Bone Bender 6 hour down in Missouri the following weekend, some road ragin’ in Iowa City the next weekend, and the Psycowpath race at Swanson last weekend…no crashes, no bashin’ into trees and no spooning with my bike in the weeds…so far so good.

Thanks for reading,