December 17, 2010

Press Release

"The SCOTT RC Mountain Bike Team is once again poised for a big year. Coming off the 2010 season where the team won three state championships, three regional championships, finished first in 30 races and placed riders in the top five 65 times, the team has officially unveiled its 2011 roster. The SCOTT team is comprised of 11 riders based in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Aaron Snyder, Pennsylvania state champion and Mid-Atlantic regional champion, Scott Wilson, MASS series champion, and endurance racing phenom Jeff Dickey will all be returning to the team along with pro riders Mike Joos and John Arias. Elite amateur riders returning for 2011 are Jay Dodge, Cam Dodge, Ross Anderson, Ernesto Calderin and Nathaniel Williams, Massachusetts junior state champion,.

The new addition to the team is Gunnar Bergey, Pennsylvania junior state champion.

“The 2011 roster is strong and well rounded with some of the Mid-Atlantic’s best riders” said Bart Passanante, the teams managing director for 2011. “This year we will look to build on 2010’s success with additional team members and sponsors. The teams title sponsors SCOTT USA and ????? have ensured that these athletes will continue to perform at the highest level in 2011 and we thank them for their continued support of the team. Additionally, we are very excited about the teams foundation of seasoned and up and coming riders who will allow us to be strong well into the future.”

For 2011 The SCOTT RC Mountain Bike Team will compete in a broad range of regional mountain bike races in the Mid Atlantic as well as national calendar events throughout the United States.

Team Roster

■Aaron Snyder (pro)
■Jeff Dickey (pro)
■John Arias (pro)
■Mike Joos (pro)
■Cam Dodge (elite amateur)
■Ernesto Caldarin (elite amateur)
■Gunnar Bergey (elite amateur)
■Jay Dodge (elite amateur)
■Nathaniel Williams (elite amateur)
■Ross Anderson (elite amateur)
■Scott Wilson (elite amateur)"


If you haven't heard, our newest edition to the team, Gunnar Bergey has been getting pretty famous lately. He was selected by USA Cycling to participate in the Euro 'Cross Camp in Belgium. More recently, he earned a fifth place finish at the Cyclocross National Championships.

(He is so new, he doesn't have a Scott bike yet)

Pretty cool.

November 18, 2010

2010 Iceman Cometh Race Report

I have been looking forward to racing in Iceman for a few years now and was very excited for the opportunity to race this year. Since Michigan is my home state I am very familiar with the race and crowds that it can bring. The race certainly delivered on all fronts; crowds, participants, cold, snow, mud and tons of fun.

Since this was my first time racing Iceman and the promoters dropped racing class as a definition for starting order, I was in the 28th start wave. The 28th wave was an "unseeded" start wave which included only riders who had not raced Iceman in previous years. All previous years starters were seeded by their prior finish times. Coming into the race I had no idea how this was to eventually effect my result.

I knew this race was shaping up to be fun when the snow began on the Friday drive up to Traverse City. The temperature had dropped to just about freezing and then got below 32 overnight. I awoke to frozen earth, cold temps, and a clear sun filled sky. My start time was 10:28am Saturday morning. When I arrived at the start there were hundreds of people milling around in the start zone and everyone was doing their best to keep warm. I followed my normal warmup routine but shortened it up by about ten minutes due to cold toes. Before the start I added 3 sets of toe warmers to my riding shoes which made for a bit of a tight fit but fairly warm toes.

Off the start I set the pace in the front of my wave and easily made the it first into the single track which was a mile and half from the start line. Immediately I knew what I was going to be in for as I came up behind the previous wave that had started 3 minutes earlier. This set the tone for the remainder of the race, "passing left", "passing right". Since close to 1900 riders had started in 27 waves in front of mine it was going to be a day of passing. The course was incredibly fast with all double track and singletrack which made for safe and fairly quick passing. The major slow downs took place in the singletrack where hundreds of riders were getting jammed up all together in a long line of wheel to wheel bicycles as far as I could see. In the spirit of the event no one was complaining only enjoying!

As the race progressed the ground softened up and exposed the normal Michigan riding conditions which consists almost exclusively of sand. At this time I was totally stoked to have Pro Gold lubricants on my drivetrain. Pro Gold kept my Scott 29er running smooth and fast for the entire race.

I rode a very strong race feeling good the entire time despite the slow downs, stops and starts, I ended up finishing first in my wave and 13th in my group. However, I was not able to compete against the seeded riders in my group who started in waves 2 through 5. I am already looking forward to next year and a Seeded start time.

Velonews posted a great video of the race recorded by a rider in same start wave.

( Iceman Cometh 2010 from VeloEpic on Vimeo.

November 15, 2010

Last Podium of 2010

After a long season of 20 plus races it was nice to close this season down at the Campmor H2H Awards Dinner. It was nice to get on the box for the last time this season getting 2nd overall for the series. I think this will be a nice send off to Pro for next season.


fun ride in the watershed (frederick MD)

Jeff and a couple of his friends made a trip up from DC to ride some more challenging terrain in Frederick... they got the double whammy, more technical and a ton of leaves to make the terrain even more demanding.

it was a fun ride about 3-4 hours long... i had two flats... Colby was kind enough to give me a spare tube... then we all ate at the mountain view diner... great place... large selection, big helpings and great price... The best after ride restaurant in the area (in my opinion)

took a few pics... modeling are self's with a beautiful autumn background.


November 05, 2010

Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Race National Championship - Fruita/Moab Vacation Recap

Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Race National Championship
Moab, UT
October 29-30, 2010
Conditions: Started in the Colorado River, headed onto slickrock and cliff areas for multiple hours, followed by a few hours on dirt and paved roads - water temp in the Colorado was 50 degrees, during the race air temperatures ranged from 60 to the low 30s
In attendance: Jeff

After finally getting my longtime co-ed endurance racing teammate, Terri Spanogle, to do some adventure racing, we headed to Colorado and Utah last week for several days of riding in Fruita, CO and for the Checkpoint Tracker Series Adventure Race National Championship.  This year, there have been two national championships due to a split in promotion of adventure racing. I got to do both of them!  This time, the race was in Moab, Utah and was to have 2-3 miles of riverboarding (think boogie boarding down rapids) and 15-25 miles of kayaking on the Colorado, 20-30 miles of running/trekking, 35-45 miles of mountain biking, a 300 foot long Tyrolean traverse over a 200 foot deep canyon and a 100 foot rappel, all while orienteering using a map and compass.  We had just about 28 hours to finish the course with our 4-person co-ed team.

After Terri's luggage finally arrived in Grand Junction (a day after we arrived), it was too muddy to go out and ride given the recent torrential rain and snow, so we headed out for a fun four hour hike in Colorado National Monument.  I'd never been to the high desert canyonlands area before, and the views were spectacular.  The red rocks, green undergrowth and snow made for a great hike.

Colorado National Monument - Looking down valley to Grand Junction

Cool rock formations as we hiked down into the canyons from the upper rim
We eventually made our way to Fruita to ride and picked a quart of Stan's Tire Sealant at Over the Edge Sports to get our tires protected from the cactus and other spiny things the high desert had to offer.  We spent the first day exploring Kokopelli's trails.  They were perfectly built to take advantage of the terrain and wound in and around the canyons.  Just as you thought you'd ridden all of the trail, it headed uphill for another loop.  Because we had such a long race coming up that weekend, it was a mellow 4 hour ride.  We rocked out on Rustler's Loop, Horsethief Bench Loop, Mary's Trail, Steve's Loop and Mack Ridge.  Each one brought a smile to my face.

It was a good day to be a mountain biker.

Steve's Loop

Looking down from Mack Ridge onto Steve's Loop
On top of Mack Ridge, looking back at the trails we'd ridden
Kokopelli Trailhead
On our second day of riding, we didn't have much time left before needing to get to Moab and the race venue, so we went to the 18 Road area of Fruita to ride the awesomely fun Kessel Run and Joes Ridge downhills.  I'm glad I brought my Scott Spark with me to Colorado - the blend of fast downhills and power uphills suited the multi-travel shock.

The trail head was awash in mountain bikers who had also traveled to Fruita to ride.  We met a bunch of guys in their 60s who had traveled by Sprinter van all the way from Michigan just to ride in Fruita/Moab.  Very cool.

Joe's Ridge

Joe's Ridge heading off into the distance
After riding Joe's Ridge, we left with a smile and headed further west to Utah to head to the Red Cliffs Lodge for the start of the race.  On the way there, we noticed that the La Salle mountains were snow-covered.  Knowing that adventure race directors sometimes like to add even more adventure into their races, I figured we'd probably be getting into the snow at some point. Anyway, it was an awesome drive to Moab down the Colorado River canyon.

The white capped La Salle mountains in the distance, Fisher Towers in the foreground
We got to the race venue and started trying to deal with gear selections.  I'd brought clothes and equipment for all sorts of eventualities - from cold rain and snow to hot temperatures - and gear for a whole bunch of different events - swim fins, a wetsuit, dry top, and neoprene booties for for riverboarding, kayak paddles, multiple running shoes, my Scott Spark, bike parts and repair tools, rock climbing gear, orienteering gear and lots and lots of food.  I'm surprised I made it on the airplane with so much stuff.

Terri and I met up with our other teammates - our marathoner, Timm Phillips from North Carolina, and our uber-navigator, Phil Nichols, from Nebraska - later that evening and tried to get ourselves sorted out for the race.  After some frantic gear packing, reviewing maps and driving an hour to the gear-drop off point (we had to drive nearly an hour away to a transition area to drop off equipment for rock climbing, trekking and mountain biking, along with food and water for 24 hours of exercise), we finally got to bed around midnight.

The race started bright and early the next morning with a jump into the Colorado River and a swim/riverboard downriver for 2 miles.  We got caught up in the masses of racers wearing swim fins (they don't run very well) and got a delayed start.  After picking up a few places on the riverboard section, we climbed up onto a beach to get into 2-person inflatable kayaks for a 4+ hour kayak leg down the river.

Geared up for a very cold dunk in the Colorado River and riverboarding down though some rapids

I'm not a fan of kayaking.  I enjoy going through fast water, but the flat water paddling is murder.  And there was a lot of flat water paddling.  Our team stayed together fairly well in our two boats (me and Timm in one boat and Terri and Phil in the other) and we made it to the transition area where we picked up an aerial map for an orienteering and ropes course.

We set out on our trek and almost immediately had to wait in a line to ascend fixed ropes up and over some of Moab's picturesque arches.  Ian Adamson, the world's most successful adventure racer of all time, was at the arch and we got to talk with him for a few minutes.  That was a good way to spend the wait in line. 

You can see a bunch of photos of the course, including the arches here:

And here:

After ascending the ropes, we accessed Poison Spider Mesa and had a 5-6 hour trek to obtain 5 checkpoints and make it to the Tyrolean Traverse by 6pm and rappel down from the mesa by 6:30.  Each checkpoint we missed was a 2 hour penalty and if we did not make the 6pm or 6:30 cut-offs that was another hour penalty.

Phil navigated our team phenomenally across the moonscape-like rocks and we quickly collected two points.  Checkpoint #5, however, took us forever to find.  It was the furthest point on a long cliff and the furthest distance away from the Tyrolean Traverse.  After we ran out of options (ie, the cliffs were almost surrounding us) and had searched the area for a long time, Timm found a tiny slot in the cliff wall that we climbed up to get the checkpoint.  Unfortunately, two or three other teams spotted us and took advantage of our 20 minutes of searching to easily get the checkpoint. 

Corona Arch - we climbed up the backside of this arch on fixed ropes to get to the upper mesa area

On our way back to the Tyrolean Traverse, we somehow got turned around and missed checkpoint #6 and as we got to area with checkpoint #8, the fifth and last checkpoint, with only 15 minutes left to spare before 6pm, we saw 10+ teams traversing the slickrock also looking in vain for the point.

As most of the other teams did not find checkpoint #8, we had no luck either.  We decided to skip the Tyrolean Traverse (we could not get across the canyon before 6pm) and head straight for the rappel.  This was a hard choice, but a good one, as the rappel closed at 6:30.  After fording an icy cold, waist-deep pool  of water, we were one of the last teams permitted down the ropes. 

We heard that one or two teams were lost on the mesa all night, in the dark....

After the descent down the ropes, we headed out a slot canyon and back to the transition area to pick up our bikes.  By the time we got riding, it was pitch black.  I was happy to have along my Lupine Edison 10 (this light and battery has worked flawlessly for nearly 10 years) and my Lupine Tesla 5 - tons of light for the pitch black Moab night! 

We rode through the night and through Moab's streets to the world famous Slickrock Trail.  The organizers gave us a choice to either ride or run the trail to obtain 8 or so checkpoints.  Pass up riding the slickrock trail in the dark? Never!

The ride took almost 4 hours, but we had a great time, swooping up and down the sandstone rock.  I've never encountered trails where I've had so much grip.  And, thankfully, I couldn't see where some of the drop-offs were - I'm sure there were some - because we were going pretty fast.  Everywhere we looked, we could see other teams - four sets of lights ascending or descending rocks.  It was quite a spectacle, almost as if the stars had gotten very close to us (it was pitch black) and we were in and among them.

At 2am we finished our ride and faced a very long uphill leg on gravel and paved roads to the final checkpoint of the race, which was located around 8,500 feet (3-4,000 feet of climbing from where we were setting out from).  Some of our team was getting tired out, so I used a bungee cord to pull them up the road. Some of the sections were incredibly steep and I was glad for my 28x36 gearing on my Sram XX.  Even puling a tired teammate up a 18% grade, I was still able to motor right along.

Timm was starting to show the signs of real fatigue and possible illness - e.g., slurred speech, refusing to eat or drink - which worried me and Phil.  Plus, he had damaged the B-Tab on his bike, only leaving him with three gears, none of which were very useful.  So, we took a possibly easier route to the checkpoint instead of riding on the Kokopelli Trail. 

The route choice turned out to be a good move, but we only after the fact, as our ATV trail turned into first a cow-path, then a deer-path and then nothing...  Phil was confident he knew where he was (even though, I'm sure I was giving him a look of death, i.e., "we're going the wrong way"), but he successfully led us up and over a ridgeline and nearly right on top of the checkpoint.  We also made up time on other teams. Awesome!

After chatting briefly with the very cold volunteers manning the checkpoint, we headed out for a 4,5000 foot vertical drop down a paved road and back to the finish.  The temperatures were in the low 30s and snow was on the ground. After riding up that far, we were all covered in sweat and it quickly froze on us and we got colder and colder as we dropped into the valley far below.  At one point, I was shivering so badly, I thought I was going to crash my bike because I couldn't hold the handlebars straight.  But, none of us wanted to stop with just a few miles left to go.

We finished just at sunrise, 24 hours after we started. 

I got cleaned up and headed to the hotel restaurant where I polished off plate after plate of food, took a nap, and then came back for more.

Our team ended up in 15th place after being assessed 5 hours of penalties for missing checkpoints 6 and 8 and the Tyrolean Traverse.  Those were tough penalties to get, but the time-cutoffs were very difficult to achieve (and there was some controversy regarding the top few team's interpretation of the rules and route choices; our placing, I think, was not affected by that controversy).  We were all very happy with our accomplishments and finishing together as a team.  We all came together to help each other out when the going became tough and finished strong.

But, what a race!  I'll always keep memories of riding the slickrock trail at night - that was a really fun experience and one that I don't think many people get to have.  A week after the race, though, and I'm still pretty tired out and ravenously hungry.  I guess one or two Raw Rev bars, 18 GUs, Zebra Cakes and some assorted gummi worms isn't enough for 24 hours!

So, this race closes out my season.  Back to rebuild and get ready for 2011. I'm looking forward to getting my new Scale 29er Carbon and taking it out for a spin. After seeing the bike at the World Cup Finals in Windham, NY, I'm really eager to race on it next year!

- Jeff

October 21, 2010

USARA Adventure Racing National Championships

USARA Adventure Racing National Championships
Hidden Valley, PA
October 15-16, 2010
Weather: Cold and wet to start, sunny through the day, cold and windy during the night

In attendance: Jeff

To close out my season, I've been doing some long distance racing - the Shenandoah 100, an 18 hour adventure race at the end of September, and most recently, the USARA Adventure Race National Championships in and around Hidden Valley, PA.  The national championship race is a 30 hour co-ed event for teams of 3 that included something like 150k of mountain biking, 3-4 hours of kayaking, and a whole lot of running/trekking and orienteering. 

I was racing with my adventure racing team, Team Remington-Mountain Khakis/Trakkers, a team I've been with for a few years, who had fielded two co-ed and one masters teams for the event.  Going into the race, the R-MK/T team was the #1 ranked team in the US.

At the pre-race meeting - left to right, are Michelle Thompson, Phil Nicholas, Sheila Torres-Blank, Dave Ashley, Mark Harris, Todd Jansson and Veronica Ivey (back row) - front row are Michael Spiller and Jeff Dickey
 Unfortunately, the pro mountain bike woman who I was to race with broke her foot a few weeks before the race and we were just able to find a sub for her before the event started.

The race started off cold and early with a short orienteering course around the Hidden Valley ski area (this was after we had less than an hour to plot out all of our checkpoints on two huge maps and try to determine the best route). We ran to the top of the ski area to get our orienteering maps and got all of the first checkpoints in quick order and back to the finish to begin the first bike leg of the race.

We got out to a good start (perhaps 12th out of 35+ teams) and eventually made our way to the top of Seven Springs ski area, a few miles away.  From there, we bombed down some fast roads, onto some trails and found our next checkpoint.  After that point, I began towing Sheila, our substitute teammate who is from Texas and not used to hills or wet rocky trails or roads. I hooked up a bungee cord from my backpack to her bike and motored along (probably all-told, I rode this way for 50 or so miles - talk about a power workout!).

After an hour or two of riding, we caught up to the leading teams on a huge paved climb, but we missed a turn and got lost on the top of a mountain that was covered in ropy thorns.  By this point, the second of our co-ed teams caught up to us, and after 30 minutes of bushwhacking through deep thorns, we found our way again.  On the next descent, Sheila crashed heavily and I think she lost some of her nerve for east-coast riding.  But, she soldiered on with us and we made it to the start of the paddling leg of the race at around 1pm - a 4 hour ride....  I was eating GU packets like mad - trying to keep up my energy for the day and into the night (my favorite flavor is Mint Chocolate - I think I ate 17 of those during the course of the race).

We had to get 3 paddling points, but the Ohiopyle river reservoir was so low, paddling was difficult.  While we were on the water, a fierce squall blew in and we could see canoes blowing up into the air and rolling over and over.  It was hard to paddle and we had zero visibility.We decided to ditch our boat on the shore after the first checkpoint and trek 20k to the next two points and back to our boat. I really dislike paddling, but it was tough to carry a kayak paddle in my pack for almost 15 hours and only use it for an hour of paddling...

After the paddle, we determined that we'd made up 40 minutes with our route choice and we rode to the next transition area - nighttime orienteering.  When we arrived at the orienteering start at 7:30pm, it was dark and cold.  We had also caught up to the third of the Trakkers teams and all 9 of us went out into the night.  I was using my Lupine Tesla 5 headlamp (thanks Bill of Gretna Bikes!) which put out a huge amount of light - so much so that it was easier finding checkpoints at night than during the day. It's always nice to be able to spot a checkpoint in the dark that is 1/4 of a mile away! 

Heading out to the nighttime orienteering course
After getting some of the points easily, and others not so easily (one tough one involved a 1,500+ vertical descent and return down a river valley), we headed back to the bikes at 2am for a long ride back to Hidden Valley.

Our teams were getting really tired out and I was wishing I had some more chamois cream, if you know what I mean (I'm glad we have Enzo's ButtonHole Chamois Cream on board as a sponsor for 2011 - no saddle sores for me next year).  After a long ride with some missed turns and a lot of hills, we got back to Hidden Valley at 9am.  It was kind of a tough ride.  I started drifting off to sleep while riding uphill and pulling another rider.  Not good at all... 

When we got back to the ski area, we grabbed some breakfast and I drained a lot of coffee and headed out to get 2 of the 9 possible optional orienteering points on the final leg of the race - we were too cooked to get any more than that.

We finished up at 10:30, 27.5 hours after we started.  My Polar watch said that we'd climbed 16,000+ vertical feet and I'd burned something like 14,000 calories. I'm still tired out almost a week later...

At the finish line - cold, dirty and tired, but happy!
 We placed second overall for the season and 17th in the race.  Not the finish we had hoped, but it gave everyone motivation for next year.

Next up for me is another 30 hour race - this time in Moab, UT on October 29 for the Checkpoint Tracker National Championships.  This one involves a bunch of kayaking, riverboarding, mountain biking, a huge Tyrolean traverse/rappel and a bunch of trekking and orienteering. I'm already shivering, anticipating the 2-3 mile swim (probably in the Colorado River).  Hopefully, it doesn't snow!

- Jeff

IronCross IX

Iron Cross IX
October 10, 2010

In attendance: Jay, Cam, Aaron

In the longest cross race in the US, Jay placed 16th in 4 hours, 30 minutes, Cam was just behind in 22nd and Aaron was in 46th.

Results are here.

Last Race of the H2H Series - Ringwood Race Recap

The Leaf Blower
October 3, 2010
H2H Series 2010 Finals
Ringwood, NJ

In attendance: John, Aaron and Ross

The team had some great results at the final race in the H2H series. Aaron crushed the pro class with a win, I took 2nd in the race and 2nd for the series and Ross was 4th on the day and 4th in the series.  The course was super rocky and technical but it didn't stop us, we hammered!

Podium shot:

John in 2nd, Ross in 4th
This was a great race for us to finish out our MTB season.

Full results are here.

Now some of the team racers have moved onto cyclocross!

Cameron shattered the B field at Wirly Bird Cross winning by a long breakaway, and Jay had an impressive ride in the Elite master field cracking the 25.

- John

September 18, 2010

H2H Chainstretcher Race Recap - September 12

The Chainstretcher is hosted by WMBA at Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, NY. The trail system at Blue is probably some of the best riding in NJ/NY. The course has some good technical sections but is primarily all connected by very smooth and fast single track. This year much of the climbing was cut from the course, however as is standard for H2H race courses the climbs are short, fast and technical. The race started out at a good pace, not too fast and certainly not too slow. My teammate John Arias pulled off the front for much of the first lap setting a strong pace for the initial lap. I was doing my best to sit in behind a couple of our primary competitors from Team Bulldog. The pace never let up and I found myself 30-40 seconds back of the leaders on lap one. I came into this race with a set strategy of riding strong consistent laps so I was not that worried about the gap. I was feeling good going into lap 2 and 3 and knew that I would be able to bring the gap down.

As the the race progressed this is exactly what happened. On lap 3 I moved into second place and was only able to hold this position for a quarter lap before Jason Clark of Cannondale Factory Racing passed me back with a strong attack. The remainder of the last lap continued in this manner to the finish. After creating a small gap, I was able to crawl back to Jason and finish two seconds back for an overall third place. John Arias also finished strong in fifth place.

Best wishes go out to Mike Kucharski of Team Bulldog. After falling early in the race Mike was evac'd with a cracked pelvis and severe laceration to his hip.

September 10, 2010

Shenandoah 100 Race Recap

Shenandoah Mountain 100 - Final event in the National Ultra Endurance mountain bike series
September 5, 2010
Stokesville, VA
In attendance:  Jeff Dickey
Weather: Perfect early fall - cool in the morning, but warming through the day with bright sunshine and very dry

After slogging through the Leadville 100 less than a month ago, I decided I wasn't done with long distance mountain bike racing and I was able to get an entry into the sold out Shenandoah Mountain 100 about a week before the race (unlike Leadville, which doesn't permit entry transfers).

Laura and I headed to the SM100 campground in Stokesville, VA on Saturday afternoon after her weekly 20+ mile Saturday morning run.  There, we met up with Colby and a bunch of the folks from Gripped Racing.  If you haven't seen Gripped Films' HD film "Chasing Legends" about the HTC-Columbia team and the 2009 Tour de France (in which Scott bikes feature prominently), I'd highly recommend either buying the DVD or catching a showing.  Gripped has also made some cool films about the fight to race in the Atlanta Olympic mountain bike race (Off Road to Athens) and a film about 24-hour racer Chris Eatough - good viewing for those winter-time training sessions on the trainer in the basement...

Unlike Leadville, the SM100 is one big loop and features a number of shorter climbs, leading up to the "Death Climb," a 20+ mile fire-road monster.

SM100 Elevation Profile
Also, unlike Leadville, the SM100 never cracks 10,000 feet (my lungs were really happy about that fact), "only" 600 people start the event (compared to the 1400+ at Leadville), and most of the descents are on very fun, but rocky singletrack.
Gorgeous morning for a race!
 I almost missed my 6:30 start after long lines developed for the port-a-potties.  

Frantically trying to get myself ready for the start
  But, I was able to start in the front group.

Starting up at the front
On the first climb with eventual winner Christian Tanguy stringing out the field behind him, the main separation occurred and 5 guys got away. I crested the first climb in about 8th place and immediately happened on Jeremiah Bishop who had torn his sidewall in some sharp rocks and was fixing his tire.  On the first road section to climb #2, a group of 5 of us formed and pacelined to the base of the climb. Very cool to be riding with Chris Eatough, who has (mostly) retired from a pro cycling and now runs BikeArlington, which develops cycling opportunities in my hometown.

A small split opened up on the second climb and I found myself riding with two other guys. We set a solid pace up some steep singletrack and after cresting the top, headed down through some rocky terrain.  Unfortunately, on the descent, I flatted on a sharp rock and ripped a hole in my tire - too big for my Stan's to seal.  I kept hoping the hole was a small one, but it was not to be.  I had to pull out my tube and use my last CO2 to inflate it. 

By the time I'd finished playing around with my tire, about 40 guys had passed me. I hate riding with a tube and was afraid I'd pinch-flat, so I rode down the descent very gingerly and started to try and chase on the next section of fire-road.  I caught up to 10-15 guys who had passed me, but I used a ton of energy chasing without anyone to work with.  On climb #3, I kept up a solid pace until the series of false flats at the summit until I cracked.  I guess I wasn't eating or drinking enough because I was trying to chase back to my position, but I really fell apart.

After the descent down mountain #3, I had a long stop at aid station #3, got my tires re-inflated and took on a lot of food.  Also, the aid station had ProGold ProLink chain lube, so I used a bunch on my chain to fight off the dusty and dry conditions.

I rode out fairly slowly after aid station #3 and rode some fun uphill and downhill singletrack with eventual female winner, Amanda Carey. At aid station #4 (57 miles into the race) where Laura was volunteering, I was ready to throw in the towel. I just didn't have it that day, but the conditions and weather were so nice, I decided to keep going up the Death Climb and finish the race.

I don't think my heart rate really got above slow walking pace on the 1.5 hour Death Climb from mile 60 up to aid station #5 at mile 75.  Once there, I stopped for 10-15 minutes, drank a lot of Coke, ate some pizza and chatted with a friend who was volunteering at the aid station.  After my extended stop, I still had another 30 minutes of climbing left to go up to mile 80 before a rippingly fast and rocky 7-mile singletrack descent to aid station #6 and the psychologically difficult climb back up Hankey Mountain (where I'd initially cracked on the day).

I got a bunch more food at aid station #6 and dragged my still-bonking self up and over the mountain and down to the finish.

Finishing up the race and collecting my beer mug!
An awesome day for a long ride in the George Washington forest
The party before and after the race made the SM100 far better than many other races - the organizers had a full dinner for racers on Saturday night as well as another full dinner on Sunday night after the race.  The large number of DogFish Head beer helped make the dinners into a big social occasion.

A well deserved beer after the race
Also, the volunteers at the SM100 were awesome - tons of energetic and cheerful folks to help out at each aid station to fill bottles, food and have drop bags ready before your wheels stopped turning. Also very cool was every racer had their name prominently on their name plate. So there were no shortage of folks yelling "Go Jeff" at every turn.  And, even better was the number plate had the elevation profile of the race printed on it - very helpful.

I finished in 8 hours 48 minutes, good for 62 place out of 500+ finishers (results are here).. Not a good day for me, but I'll be back for 2011 and hopefully break the 8 hour mark. And, even though I thought I had a hard day, my race didn't compare to a number of people who took nearly the full 16 allotted hours to finish the event.  As I was going to sleep in the campground at 9:45pm, people were still finishing in complete darkness.  Those folks' perseverance is amazing.

And, I had a really good conversation after the race.  A fellow racer came up to me after the race and thanked me for recommending that he ride with ESI Grips.  Earlier in the summer, I'd told him about how much I liked the silicone grips for their comfort, shock absorption, light weight and tackiness even in wet conditions.  He'd raced the SM100 a few times before and had problems with hand numbness on such a long ride.  This year, riding with a set of ESI's Chunky Grips, no problems at all! (and he knocked a good amount of time off his prior best finish time).  I've been using ESI's thinner Racer's Edge grips all season this year, and I'm totally hooked. Nothing else works as well as these grips - check out the photos of any US national or any world level mountain bike race and you'll see most of the top pros riding with them with good reason.

Next up for me is adventure racing season (followed by cross season).  I'm doing an 18 hour race near Williamsburg, VA in late September and racing the 30-hour USARA National Championships in Pennsylvania and the 30-hour Checkpoint Zero National Championships in Moab, Utah.  Those races are going to make the SM100 seem like a short training ride!

- Jeff

September 08, 2010

Windham Worlds Weekend

Well the Windham World Cup weekend has come and gone. I've waited to write something about this weekend because I wanted to see how Mount St. Anne played out. Well as of this writing Nino Shurter and the Swiss Power Mountain Bike Team have sealed the 2010 race season. I mention this because being a Regional powerhouse team I can't help but feel inspired and motivated by the international guys.

I arrived at Windham on Friday the 27th swung by the house we had rented and since no one was there yet figured I would stop by the race sight, pick up the packet, stop by the Scott tent and just wander around to see what was going down. After getting the packet I swung over to the Scott tent and ran into teammates Jay Dodge, Cam Dodge, Nathaniel Williams, Ginny (Jay's wife). Also to my surprise, just coming in from a ride, was Nino Shurter, Florian Vogel, Patrik Galleti and Thomas Frischknecht.

I quickly caught up with everyone to find out what the course was all about. Very Euro in layout. Short laps with a bit of climbing and some quick descending. Keeping with the theme of the 2010 World Cup venues anyone spectating had some pretty good vantage points. After the quick introductions to the Swiss Power team I made my way out on to the course for a couple of pre-rides. The course overall wasn't bad.

Windham had, from what I was told, about 7 inches of rain over Monday, Tues and Wed, but was pretty dried out on Fri. I found the dirt to be Superman dirt where you can really lean the bike and not slide the tires. As for climbing the rear wheel sticks like velcro with every pedal stroke just throwing you forward. It's the kind of soil, course where you want to ride at race pace because you never feel this good in an actual race. After a couple of laps I headed back to the Scott tent and wound down from the euphoric feeling that is a World Cup. After all we are riding the same course and tenting with the number one team in the world.

When dusk started to roll in we headed back to the house showered up and headed into Windham to check out the Block Party they had going on. Everyone was in attendance including Aaron Snyder and his girlfriend Jen, who made it up for the two days and a couple of the Scott reps who happened to drop by for the festivities. The block party was pretty chill with what is basically a sleepy town until winter trying their best to pull off the winter skiing vibe in August. It was fun to watch, but the Roller Derby was by far the coolest thing I've seen in a while. The girls wanted to throw down on each other, but were behaving themselves. After a couple of beers at the local brewery it was back home and to bed.

Saturday was a fun, cool, low key day. Everything spectating was going on. I hooked up with Aaron, Jen and all around good guy Bart Passanante (team mgr, northeast sales manager for Scott and legendary drinker) and headed up to watch the Pro Womens XC and Mens XC. We had rockstar parking on one of the technical descents and dug our feet in. It's very telling watching the Elite racers. As for the climbs and flat sections there isn't a whole lot of hierarchy. If you have a good day you're up there, but on the descents it's a whole different story. You can definitely tell the Elites from the Continental and Regional Pros. They seem to go down as flawlessly as water. It's almost magical to watch. The Mens race the same thing, but at a faster pace and for the first couple of laps it seems they were all together. Ants marching, but at a Neil Pert pace. Super fast. Leading out the procession was local hero and motorcycle mad man Jay De Jesus (sp?). He looked good and at one point I thought he was losing to the Elite men. After 4 hours of being perched on the hillside Catherine Pendrel and Jaroslav Kulhavy took the win with Nino Shurter securing the World Cup overall. Mission one accomplished..

Nino Schurter flying into the spectator friendly woods
Ripping through the rock garden
Frischy's "loaner" Scale 899 - Florian Vogel's super fast and light bike
Frischy out taking photos of his riders
Mission two....Sunday 8am. This is the Race the World for the category racers and one which I was training specifically for. The Cat 1 30-39 race started at 8am. Teammates John Arias, Ross Anderson and myself were on the start sitting in the first two rows. John and Ross had a better start then I did.

Ross dropping into Kabush Falls

With about 50 starters in the field things got hectic quick. I flubbed getting into the pedal and with that many guys aiming for the same thing I got pushed to the back quick. After finding the pedal and the holeshots I started to find my rhythm and pull back the field that got away. I moved up rather quickly and found myself sitting in what I thought was 10th through the first single track section. I felt good on the second set of climbs and found myself moving up even more. At this point I started to pick off the classes that started before me.

John focused on the descent

John heading into the sunlight and toward the finish line after a technical descent

Cam taking the direct line through Kabush Falls

 Not sure of where I was and who was actually in my field I got into a good flow on the descents and the climbs.

Scottie heading into Kabush Falls

 On lap 2 of 4 I found myself battling with the same 4 guys. I would drop them on the climbs and they would pass me on the descents. It went on like this for the next 2 laps.

John heading through Kabush Falls

Cam exiting Kabush Falls and toward the win

 When everything shook out I would finish in 6th being bested by the 4 guys that I had gone back and forth with. Ross took 9th and John took 19th.

Scottie, John and Ross post-race
Ross and Scottie
Teamates Jay Dodge and his son Cam rocked in their categories. Cam won his field and Jay finished 3rd.

Jay heading to 3d place

 Jeff Dickey raced the Pro (non-UCI) field and finished 5th. It was a good race and weekend for the team. The highlight of the weekend would have to be getting to tent and hangout with the Swiss Power Team. Watching the race set up, the way the mechanic works on and cleans the bikes, and just the overall level of professionalism is overwhelming. Keeping in mind that they are on the other side of the ocean of what they are used to is surreal. Everyone was super cool. Nino, Patrik, Florian and Thomas were overly helpful, friendly and approachable. Great guys in a great sport.

The team before the start

As someone who started riding/ racing in the mid 90's I have always followed Thomas Frischknecht his career and his races. It was very cool to have him sign my Ritchey jersey and ask me if my jersey turned purple on the sleeves (which it did). We discussed the old Ritchey days the bikes the man and tubed tires. His English is great and my Laden (Swiss/ German combination) is horrible, but we seem to understand each other in only the way one cyclist to another can.

One last point in mentioning. I want to send a heart felt thanks to everyone on the Scott RC Mountain Bike Team and especially Bart Passanante for making this whole trip and year as successful and fun as it has been. With the Mountain Bike season coming to a close and Cyclocross ramping up I couldn't think of a better group of guys to suffer with on multiple Sundays. I have one more race in my series and a few of the guys have two or three more. There will be more posts and judging by the way 2010 is playing out more fun and successes to write about.

Stay Healthy and keep the rubber side down, Scottie