Monday, August 22, 2011


The White Tail Ridge mountain bike trails just keep getting better. Last year's course was great but this year's version was even better. The local club has really turned these trails into a top notch race course by adding another twisty, slightly technical descent and a technical rocky climb. Chad Sova lives 10 minutes from these trails and it is obvious that his input is invaluable when it comes to laying out the race course.

Sara sat this race out since Ore2Shore is such a long, brutal race and because we are racing the next two weekends in a row which would have had her racing six consecutive weeks. She also wants to do well at Chequamegon so it made sense to have a little break.

After crashing out at the start of last two races in a row, and having a still sore, slightly separated shoulder, I decided to lead the group most of the way up the opening climb. I cannot afford to fall and aggravate my shoulder so I had to put in a big effort at the start. I felt pretty good and settled in on the field leading into the single track. I made the mistake of following Rients into the single track and he let a gap open up. Jesse didn't bring his race legs and the added pressure of imminent fatherhood surely had something to do with this rare off day. That said, I was sitting in 6th and had to chase DB for the better part of the first lap before finally catching him and going by. DB happily sat on my wheel and recovered while I slowly reeled in Ben K. (Ben helped me quite a bit since he got off his bike a couple of times). We were a small group of three for most of the second and part of the third lap before I almost fell off one of the many bridges and got gapped.

I ended up riding alone for the rest of the race. Ben and Darrin passed a bonking Brian Eppen but I didn't have the legs to move up - probably because I went a little too hard at the start. I was busy gulping lots of Hammer Heed, Endurolytes and Vanilla Hammer Gel in hopes I could give one more push, but I couldn't muster up the energy to chase down Brian and ended up in 6th.

Like usual, the Trek Top Fuel did a terrific job and the Bontrager XR1 tires hooked up nicely. I think I would have had even better traction with a little wider tire than the 1.9 and 2.0s.

Sara did a great job getting Jesse, Ron Raymond and me feeds, cheering and taking a little video at the start. I'd upload it but our modem is shot and I can't make our wireless work.

Another great thing about this venue is that there is a daycare center on the course and it has a playground. Kiera, Luke and Ben (the Raymond boys) played after the race while Sara and Kathy (Ben and Luke's mom) went for a ride on all the single track White Tail has to offer.

Thanks to the Raymond family for letting us stay at their house and to Kathy for entertaining Kiera while Sara, Ron and I were at the race.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Women's top 3 podium spots (Sara, Chloe and Kim)

I do enjoy watching Sara compete. The Ore2Shore is the one race I consistantly do hand-ups and play daddy day care (for the Raymond family) and it is a hoot. The day flies by because I have to rally the Eurovan to four viewing/hand-up spots and the third spot is always nip-and-tuck but I always seem to barely make it.

This year I didn't see Sara come by at the first view point and I thought she either went down in a crash or had a mechanical. I waited for an extra 15 minutes before venturing on hoping that I'd missed her. Sure enough, at the 16 or so mile mark I saw Chloe come through looking strong and Sara was next about 1:30 back. Obviously, I was relieved and a little bit surprised since I missed her at the first spot but saw all the other top women. At this point Chloe was in a small group of men and Sara was in a huge group (20 or so). As it is in mass start gender mixed races, the women's race is always played out at the mercy of men. Sara knew it was better to play it safe and try to stay in her group rather than try to move up on her own because it almost always spells disaster later in long races like this. A downside to the large group this year is that it was really dusty and guys were going down because they couldn't see what was happening and this caused Sara to stop/jump off the bike three times to avoid crashes. She also would get buggered up on techincal climbs a bit so she had to run more than she would have liked.

Chloe had a consistant 1:30 - 1:45 margin on Sara until the last feed spot at about six miles to go. I wasn't surprised to see Sara in the lead at this point but I was surprised that Chloe wasn't closer to her. Sara said she passed Chloe with twelve miles to go and by the time they came through with six to go Sara was about a minute up. It turns out Choe's stem loosed up (TJ??????) and she had to stop to tighten it up.

Sara rode a smart race to the finish and kept the gap a little over minute. Considering how she's been riding the past month, it doesn't surprise me a bit that she won. The women's field was stacked and it is too bad that Jenna got a flat while in third at around the 10 mile mark. Kim Eppen rounded out the top three, and our neighbor Diana McFadden had a great ride and nabbed the 4th spot for the second year in a row.

On a side note, Sara was able to keep the keep her legs from cramping, but I'm convinced part of the reason was the Trek Top Fuel 100. It is SO nice to have a super light weight, full suspension fast bike for marathon races. Another reason was downing plenty of Hammer Endurolytes and Hammer Head drink.

Another bonus of me not racing is that Kiera gets to join us. She has so much fun playing with Ben and Luke Raymond and hanging out with Ron and Kathy. She also enjoyed playing with Ellie Schouten at the playground and during the awards ceremony.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This pic sums up my race at the GHC last Sunday. I think Jay Richards took the picture and Eric O sent it my way.

My injured thumb is going to be fine in time. This is the first summer I was able to squeeze a water bottle again since injuring it Nordic skiing two winters ago...oh, well.

My right shoulder on the other hand is still pretty sore. With effort I can lift my arm over my head so I'm taking that as a good sign. Sara has me all kineseo taped up, so I'm sure that helps assist the lifting. It is separated because I have the tell-tale dip which now will match my left shoulder and make me symetrical once again. The last time I seperated my left shoulder was in 2007 on a bike ride with Sara before she tried racing. We were riding in Bagley Nature Center when I attempted to bunny hope a downed tree and totally misjudged it and crashed. A litte over a week later I finally realized I mistakingly put Sara's contacts in while coaching track at the Doc Savage meet (hence the crash because I couldn't focus quite right). This time around my only excuse for crashing is that I felt good and was going faster than normal over the rock drop I've ridden EVERY TIME without problem for 4 or 5 years.

It will be a while before I can ride bumpy tails again. Hopefully I'll be ready for the Boarder Battle in a couple of weeks.

Thanks again to Dave, Dr. Matt and J Boyce (who a few weeks ago had a horrendous 30 + mph crashed through the side window of a car that pulled out right in front of him) getting me ice asap, assessing me, taping me up, etc. I owe you fellas!

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Win For Sara, Homecurse Disadvantage for Scott and Two Weddings in Two Days

I picked up this little gift in Cuyuna

The poison ivy continues to pop up in new places going on week two

Sara had another impressive showing at The Great Hawk Chase in Lester Park on Sunday. We rode the course three times last week and she was disappointed in her singletrack skills. She was able to put something together by race day, however, since she won the Pro/Expert Women's race and the Men's Comp race (by one second). Michelle Flanagan-Haag had an impressive ride and ended up second on the day. Sara is best in tough conditions so it is really quite impressive she was able to do so well on this course since it is pretty fast, flowy and smooth. She had nary a problem in the slippery sections even though she used her favorite Bontrager XR1 tires.

I on the other had had plenty of adversity. For the second race in a row I was on the ground at the start - this time 10 feet off the line. Thankfully nobody ran me over and was able to practice my passing skills starting off dead last. I redlined it and got into second place before the end of the first lap. I really wanted to ride with Brendan a little but there was no way I was going to catch him after my mishap. I was leading an old coaching buddy at CSS, Josh Tesch into the singletrack on lap two when I launched off a rock, ended up going over the bars and mashed my left thumb and right shoulder into a nasty pile of sharp rocks. It took me awhile to get going and a group of four went by while I was taking stock of my body and bike. The chase was on once again albeit much more slowly and painfully since I couldn't stand up and pedal or lift up on the bars because my shoulder wouldn't allow it. I somehow managed to ride back into third place until the start of the fourth and final lap. I came unglued early in the lap and had to soft pedal to the finish. I couldn't hold off Jake Richards and Kevin K. going down the ski trail finish and had to settle for seventh. I've never worked so hard and passed so many people to end up seventh....

Great job to Mick at the SKIHUT for putting together a terrific course and to COGGS for pulling off the second Minnesota Series event.

I will get to recover next weekend since I'm Sara's waterboy for the Ore2shore.

Dan Swanson's wedding was a hoot on Friday! Kiera loves playing with Stella (Doug and Ann's daughter) and having an excuse to eat a bunch of sugar. Two nights in a row of being up late has taken its toll on us though. I can't wait to get rid of this poison ivy so I can sleep again...

Monday, August 01, 2011

Bachelor Party and Elk River Race

The entire family is blown after this weekend. Sara and Kiera stayed home while I ventured to Crosby with Harry Anderson to celebrate Dan Swanson's upcoming wedding. Doug organized a 3 + hour ride on the fantastic Crosby trail system the family company built last year and gave our group of 13 or so the grand tour. If you haven't explored this trail system, it is a must. Of course, it was super hot and humid but luckily Doug provided pretzels, cookies and Gatorade so we could press on. Dan was showing off his mad waterskiing skills once we got back to the cabin and like usual, Hollywood provide plenty of entertainment. Harry and I left early to get back to our ladies but it sounded like we missed out on some fun by not spending the night.

Sara was excited to race at Elk River on Sunday so I loaded up the car in the AM and we headed out. We dropped Kiera off at Grandma and Grandpa Kylander's house so she could play with the cousins and we continued on to Elk River.

Sara had a gap going into the powerline climb and ended up riding with fellow Duluthian, Nikolai Anikin for most of her race. She said she struggled mightily in the tight single track and did hundereds of excelerations per lap. This is one course where pre-riding would make for a much smoother, faster first lap.

I didn't know what to expect but I felt good right from the start. I tried making a sweet inside line pass at the top of the powerline climb but I had the door slammed shut. Instead of hitting the brakes I decided to ride into the tall grass and into a bunch of big boulders that were hiding in the grass. Needless to say, I was over the bars and back into 20th place or so. I had to ride harder than I wanted to for about 5 minutes and by the time I worked my way into 4th the leaders were long gone.

Sara and I were talking about how great the Trek Top Fuels worked on the rough climbs and everywhere in between. The Bontrager XR1 tires worked perfectly once again. The more we use these tires, the more we like them.

We went back to Sara's parents and watched Kiera play with her cousins. Her parents have a farm so the kids were climbing the haystack, picking rasberries, chasing each other around the yard, trying to catch the wild kittens and messing about with a variety of things. Good times and fun to watch the kids have fun.

Up next is hometown race, the Great Hawk Chase.