Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chain Drive Update

Thanks so much to the Chain Drive Organizers and host site hotel, Franklin Inn Square - Best Western. If you are looking for a fantastic point-to-point race course, look no further than this one (in the midwest anyway). The only reason we are willing to drive 4+ hours is because this is one of our favorite courses. Plus, how many races can you finish and coast back to your hotel room for a quick shower (hanks Best Western for the late, late check out!)?

My race went okay. I have zero ability to go hard and recover. I guess I might have to do some intervals again... I went up the climb and felt great, hit the single track and couldn't ramp it up until the last few miles of the the 30 mile course. Thanks to Todd McFadden, I had a wheel to follow the entire race and moral support when I almost fell into the creek (since I cannot swim, Todd made sure I got through it and didn't leave me for dead). Bushey also rode most of the race with us along with a gentleman from Houghton so at least I had people to talk to which assuaged my suffering. Funny that I rode more with Todd and Bushey in Houghton that I have in Duluth for a long time...

Sara is feeling better and better as she races. She's feels like she's still missing a gear and she's certain it is because she has 170 cranks instead of 175. We both are going to go back to 175 and hopefully this is the last change we'll have to make on the bikes, which by the way are worth every penny. The Epics are made for the bumpy, fast descents that the Houghton/Hancock offers. Sara enjoyed riding with a young gal, Cooper D., for a good chunk of the race before turning the throttle and getting away the last few miles. She rarely gets to race with other women so it was nice to have someone on her wheel.

Luckily, Bart Rodberg and his wife Jean were also at the race and their daughter Madeline agreed to entertain Kiera. It makes for the perfect weekend when Kiera can travel to the races with us. On Sunday we headed up to the Copper Harbor and rode as much trail as we could find in the Brockway Mountain Drive area.

Up next, volunteering at Grandma's Marathon at 4:30 AM on Saturday and then off to Red Wing on Sunday.

This week I have a mountain bike camp with 20 kids for 3 hours a day in the morning. We have been riding in Hartley and these youngsters are going to be rockstars at some point. I've got a kid going into fifth grade that can shred downhills and scamper up technical ascents. It is always a blast showing these kids trails because they never complain about a thing and they are game to ride up or down anything.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Life of the Working, Child Rearing, Racing Folks (along with some soapbox preaching)

This is a crazy time of year. "Training" consists of riding to and from work when it isn't raining too hard and I don't have an early morning meeting. Sara will accompany me when she starts later so we can get in a short ride together. Kiera is getting old enough now that when she sees Sara in her kit she begins hollering and leveraging to join her on the ride (or stay home and skip riding). It is tough for Sara to leave with Kiera wailing away with tears the size of grapefruit dripping off her chin. Kids sure are good at manipulating and vying for what they want.

We've got two races in the past couple of weeks - both in Cable, WI. Cable Classic was a gravel road ride from start to finish. For those of you who claim that is "old school" you are sadly mistaken. Old school mountain biking is riding on two track through deep creeks, hoping over logs, boulders, etc. and yes, riding some gravel, wide single track and maybe even a bit of blacktop. Racing on perfectly manicured gravel roads is not old school mountain biking, however.

Sara and I could not hide our lack of race fitness like we can at the typical Cable course so it seemed like work from the first pedal stroke to the last. Definitely not the ideal course to start the race season. We would have done the first MNSCS race if we hadn't pre-registered. Lesson learned. I sure wish Todd McFadden could have pulled off the win so he and Diana could have stood on the top podium spots together. Congrats to Aaron and Diana for winning the men's and women's races and the dominator t-shirts.

The Mount Borah Epic, on the other hand, provided plenty of single track. Not only is there a nice variety of trail, but the new stuff they finished at the end of last year is loaded with big berms, pump track sections and overall big grin terrain. Sara led the women's race from start to finish, but Abby was less than 30 seconds behind. Since the men and women start together the women rarely get to dice it up (with other women). I know Sara would have enjoyed racing wheel to wheel with Abby and chatting along the way. Hopefully there will be more point-to-point races in the near future that will allow women to start together without the men.

If you like flowing single track this is a must do race. Ten years ago this area had bits and pieces of single track that locals built (like Tom Geier) and held races on for the Northwest Series. Now they have a mountain bike destination on their hands and riders are coming from all over the place to ride the 50 plus miles of sweetness.

Thanks to the Raymond family for the accommodations and specifically to Kathy for watching Kiera while we raced. There is nothing better than getting to do a race on the weekend AND being able to bring Kiera along to be a part of the action. Hopefully Ben and Luke (Ron and Kathy's boys) bike riding skills will inspire Kiera to get rid of the training wheels.

On a side note, we are slowly getting our new Specialized Epics dialed in. I cannot believe how long it takes to get new bikes properly set up. We have been changing seats, stems and seat posts to try to get in the right position. Furthermore, we are experimenting with shorter cranks so it's sort of like being tossed into the washing machine on the regular cycle and trying to stand up... We are getting closer every day though.