July 25, 2010

Long Pine Classic

It's been a while since I've posted to the site so I figured I would start with the Long Pine Classic which was held on July 4th. The weather was hot and humid. Starting temp was in the upper 80's and this was 9:30 in the morning. After getting to the race site and going through the pre-race ritual it was off to the rider meeting and to the start. The Long Pine Classic is not your typical mountain bike race. Instead of doing 4 or 5 laps the organizers have you do one colossal 25 mile lap. Held in the Michaux State Forest the Long Pine Classic is run on some of the best single track anyone could want for a race. It has a little of everything for everyone. Lots of tight twisty singletrack, rocks, roots and lots of climbing. The start was a neutralized affair which was pretty cool. Instead of having everyone rip roarin from the start we followed a motorcycle for about a mile and a half on a gravel road to the start of the single track. As soon as we made the turn into the singletrack it was game on. I had a good start position on the front row about four riders to the right of team mate Aaron Snyder. Into the singletrack I was in about 8th position. It took a while, but eventually found my rhythm and everything was comming together. The first few miles were tight enough to not allow passing so between that and the mass of riders trying to enter the singletrack I did not see anyone for most of the race. Enter the climbing. Between the bouts of epic singletrack there has to be climbing. I don't mind going up hill in fact I even look foward to it in some sort of a twisted way. Most of the climbs were done on a gravel fire road similar to the one we started on so putting time on riders still trying to navigate the singletrack wasn't a problem. There was one climb or rather a hike-a-bike section that just didn't make sense. This thing just went on and on. As soon as you thought it was ridable there you were dismounting again and walking in the negative mile per hour range. Eventually it came to an end not in the it's all down hill from here sense, but rather a long false flat that didn't seem that bad after the walk.
The rest of the course was much of the same as the beginning lots of twisty singletrack peppered with gravel road climbs. The last mile or so was in the high canopy trees with superman dirt singletrack. The kind you just get incredible traction on. The finish was a bit strange. There was an event tent with two people under it. At first I thought it was a feed station, but upon making my way up the climb I noticed it was the finish. Just two people one screaming numbers and the other writing them down. This is where the fun began. Just as I realized that the race was over I also realized that in order to get back to the start/ finish area we had to navigate one of the craziest sections of trail yet. Fun Fun. When it was all over and the sweat eventually stopped Aaron had taken the win in the Pro field and I finished second in the Cat 1 35-39 field. The Long Pine Classic is an absolute must do and worth the trip if you come from a distance. I know for a fact I will be there next year. Until the next adventure enjoy the ride and keep the rubber side down, Scott Wilson

July 20, 2010

EFTA #5 Horror at Harding Hill

I raced in Sunapee, NH at the Horror at Harding Hill on Sunday. The race was very uneventful, nothing great, nothing bad. I felt fine physically and rode a decent race. The course is not technical, but it can't be mistaken as smooth either. There are numerous fireroad sections, but on either side of the defined path is tall grass littered with large rocks and divits. So, the perceived trail is quite wide, but the actual path is actually very narrow. I didn't get a chance to preride the course and doing so would have been quite helpful. Many times during the race, I found myself taking awkward lines that slowed me down. I did the Elite / Open race. At the Summer Sizzler, I could have had a decent result in the Elite field had I not had chain issues, so I figured I'd give it another try. In addition, my friend, Ben Chase, also decided to try racing with the fast guys. The start was okay, I was in 9th for most of the first lap, but forced myself to slow down in order to survive the long 5 lap race. So...I rode in last the rest of the race. On the last lap or two, I started to catch up to Jeff Landfried, Ben and Stephen Humphereys, seeing them through the trees and up the trail. I finished 39 seconds behind Jeff and about five minutes behind Ben, who seems to get faster each race. I just didn't want to risk blowing up trying to catch them, so I concentrated on riding smooth and consistent. I didn't embarrass myself, but I do think I will go back to Cat.1 / Expert for the hilly races (Harding Hill was ~400 ft. per lap, not crazy, but not flat either) and keep trying Elite for the courses I do well on - dry, fast and flowy.

Just like at Weeping Willow, there must have been 10+ photographers, but not a single one has posted anything on the wonderful www, so if you have made it this far without a photo, good for you and thanks for reading.

Results are here.

Delaware Trail Spinners Fair Hill Classic Report

Delaware Trail Spinners Fair Hill Classic (MASS Series Event)
July 18, 2010
Fair Hill, MD
Conditions: July hot (upper 90s by the finish), dry

In attendance: John Arias, Jay Dodge, Mike Joos, Jeff Dickey, Scott Wilson, Cam Dodge (in a cast from last weekend's broken hand), and Ross Anderson

The Fair Hill July MASS race brings out huge crowds of mountain bikers to ride on the beautiful singletrack trails that the local clubs have worked to maintain. The Fair Hill area is also heavily used by the equestrian set (the start was near a number of active horse barns and the trails had horse route signs all over them). The course was in great shape - mostly dry, smooth and fast singletrack that wound back and forth. At one point in the race, I swore I was getting dizzy from so many left and right turns in quick succession.

This week, though I usually carry my mtb tube in my back jersey pocket, I needed some space to carry a spare water bottle, and so I used my new Simple Strap from Kyle at ByeKyle. The Simple Strap is a very sturdy and secure method of attaching your tube, CO2 inflator, tire levers, etc., to your saddle or frame. Kyle coats the backside of the velcro straps with a sticky substance that, when cinched down, doesn't let anything slip out. I'd never used one before, but they're used by a number of top riders like JHK, Jeremiah Bishop and Georgia Gould. It was easy to attach and I strapped my tube and CO2s to my frame to free up a full jersey pocket. It worked perfectly. I didn't even notice my tube/CO2s during the race (they're usually bouncing around in my pockets) and found them in exactly the same spot as I'd put it on before the event. This coming week, I'm going to try attaching my tube, etc., directly to the saddle rails and see how that works. Here's another link to a review.

Kyle can make custom colors for you if you'd like something specific to match your frame or kit. This is also a nice item to have on your bike if you get into a real fix and need to do some McGyver type repairs to your bike. If you'd like one, send him a note at Kyle@ByeKyle.com

The elite/open field had about 35 starters and the start was on a 2-3 mile prologue in open fields before hitting singletrack. Mike Joos and I got into the singletrack in the top 15 and with a few passes, I worked my way up to 7th. The course had a number of short, steep hills, and I used them to gain a little bit of time on the guys ahead of me.

Eventually, the field sorted itself out and I found myself in 4th place between a group of 3 riders ahead and one or two behind. Wes Shempf caught up to me on some exceptionally winding sections of singletrack and we worked our way up to Chris Beck. The three of us rode together for 15 or 20 minutes until a long, fast downhill where I was leading. I was confused by the course marshal and went straight, instead of a right turn and lost some time on the other two. I used some extra energy to catch back up, but hit a series of long climbs just as I latched back on. I'd done a road race Saturday and cramped badly in the high heat and I could feel my calves starting to lock back up again. As I was trying to stretch out some cramps, I bounced off a tree. That set me back and I wasn't able to catch back up to the two guys ahead of me.

I kept a good high pace to the finish (dodging some horses who had gotten onto the trail) and finished up in 5th place. Some Italian ice at the finish really hit the spot after the race (why don't more races have that at the finish?!). Mike came in 10th in the elite field, just getting pipped at the line by the 9th place rider.

John Arias rode away from his field to convincingly win the 35-39 division. Scottie finished up in 3d in that field, just losing out in a sprint for second place.

Ross Anderson turned in a fast time to place 3d in the always quick 19-34 category.

Jay Dodge survived two 27 mile laps in the 90 degree heat to win the masters endurance category (and finished eighth overall in the endurance category).

After the race, we had a little BBQ under the Scott team tent that we linked up with the Guy's bike shop team. A good way to end the day.

I'd highly recommend going to Fair Hill for next year. It's one large 27 mile loop, has just the right amount of climbing and the trails keep you on your toes with lots of different terrain features, like bridges over the highway, trails along a river, some open fields, and lots and lots of smooth, fast singletrack.

Results from the day are here.

- Jeff

July 19, 2010

Hotcycle Race Report

July 10, 2010
Leesburg, VA

Conditions: Wet, muddy, slippery

In attendance: Jeff Dickey

Even though it was the day before last weekend's Summer Sizzler, I couldn't pass up the local Hotcycle race held in Leesburg, VA that was less than 1 hour from my house. I entered the race with some trepidation, as this was the same course that had left me laid up for 1.5 months earlier this year with a massive hematoma, broken blood vessels and the inabilty to walk, let alone ride for several weeks. And, this time around, Virginia had just gotten its first rain in a few weeks, leaving the trails with a quarter inch slick of mud over hardpack. But, it's hard to turn down going to a good local race.

The course is about 75% singletrack and is purpose built on the race organizer's family farm. It's only available for riding on race day or designated pre-rides with the organizer as it's an active cow farm (and you wouldn't want to wander into one of the fields that hold their large bulls). I lined up with 20-25 other guys in steamy weather. It had just finished raining hard and the temperature was beginning to climb - humidity must have been 100%.

From the start, guys were having difficulty controlling their bikes in the mud. I hadn't had much time for a warmup (and having done a local road "race" on Tuesday night in 102 degree temperatures and a mountain bike Wednesday night in 104 degree temperatures, I was still a little tired out), so I planned to take the first 8 mile lap fairly easy, get warmed up, and go from there.

I entered the singletrack in 7th or so position and had to slow down for the riders infront of me who were slipping and sliding everywhere. Eventually, we sorted outselves out and by the end of the first lap, I was riding in a three person group with local pro Matt Bailey and Plum Grove (the team that was hosting the race) rider Stu Staton and we were chasing one rider who had gotten a lead while the three of us were gingerly riding through the mud and getting warmed up.

I'd been getting more and more confident in the slippery terrain (I used to race these kind of conditions all the time back in New Hampshire growing up) and when we got within 10 seconds of the leader, I slid out on a corner and kept sliding across the slippery mud, eventually ending up in a ravine. It took a bit to climb back out and to the trail and by that time the leaders were gone.

This race was all about drafting in some of the wide-open cow pastures and without the draft, I lost a bit of time to eventually finish 4th. Results are here.

- Jeff

Danzeisen & Quigley Summer Sizzler Race Report

Danzeisen & Quigley Summer Sizzler (MASS Series Event)
July 11, 2010
Gloucester County College, Sewell, NJ

Conditions: HOT!

In attendance: Nathaniel Williams, Cam Dodge, Aaron Snyder, Scott Wilson, Mike Joos, Jay Dodge, Bart Passanante, Brian Bohlman

Almost all of the team traveled to NJ on July 11 for the Danzeisen & Quigley Summer Sizzler held on some very cool singletrack trails at the County Gloucester College. Even Nathaniel came to the event, all the way from Massachusetts (enduring a 12+ hour train ride that involved a delayed bike and a long, long day).

Danzeisen & Quigley, the race sponsor, is a big Scott dealer in Cherry Hill, NJ, so, if you're interested in a bike like one of our team bikes that have been fast in all conditions and courses this year, like the Spark RC or the Scale 29er, give them a call at 856-424-5969.

The Summer Sizzler course was almost 100% singletrack and was tacky and fast from some overnight rain showers. The local trail builders had done an awesome job stuffing as many trails as possible into a small space and using all of the available terrain; so, there were water crossings, a big sandy area, tons of short, steep uphills, roots and lots and lots of twists and turns.Bart lives 1 mile from the course and brought the team van and two tents. We had an awesome compound set up right by the start area. Very cool.

We also had our new team banner made for us by EJ of Crankskins (a beautiful piece of work that shows off our team sponsors to the fullest). EJ can seemingly make anything, from frame decals (he made us all sponsor decals for our bikes, as name decals) to custom water bottles, to banners with incredibly clear writing.

Also along for the trip was Brian Bohlman, the regional sales rep for Scott who is based in the Virginia Beach, VA region. Both Brian and Bart were headed out to Scott HQ in Sun Valley, Idaho after the race. If you haven't seen it already, Scott is launching a 949 gram or less (!) Scale 29er frame and a 899 gram (or less) Scale 26er for 2011. Both are going to be much lighter than anything offered by Cannondale or Specialized. As much as I love my Spark RC (which weighs in at just 21lbs with 4+ inches of travel front and rear), I can't wait to see how a 20lb (or less) 29er rolls. I may just need to get a second (or third bike) for next year.
The race start at the D&Q was pretty rough (that's an understatement). The prologue shot through a large open lawn area and into singletrack. As I was sprinting for the holeshot and all my weight was forward, I hit a concealed drainage ditch in the middle of the lawn and it sent me into a nose-dive. I landed hard and Cam, who was following me, also fell into me. He broke his hand. I felt so badly about that crash as he's going to be laid up for a few weeks with a cast.

By the time I'd untangled myself from under a pile of bikes, realized that I'd not broken my collarbone and gotten riding again, I was already 45 seconds behind the field. To make matters worse, the crash damaged my seatmast clamp and my saddle came loose. I made it up to 10th place or so and in the twists and turns saw that Aaron was in the lead. When I caught up to Nathaniel and Mike, I tried to fix my saddle, but couldn't get it sorted out in my haste. So, after the first of 4 laps, I pulled into the pit area, planning to drop out and ran over to see how Cam was doing (lots of ice and a hurting hand). While there, I was able to fix my saddle and I got rolling again.

Back on the trail, I caught up to Nathaniel who was having some chain issues. I paced him for half a lap to make sure he was OK and then started to get some speed. I didn't catch any riders, but had a great time on the swooping singletrack trails.

Aaron won the race in a sprint finish. Mike passed a bunch of guys to finish 7th. Jay crushed his field and won by over 4 minutes. Scottie pulled out from the high heat. I rolled in 16th and Nathaniel was just behind me in 17th. Results are available here.
After the race, we all went to Bart's house for a big BBQ. He's got an incredible place (his garage is stuffed with very cool Scott bikes and parts). It was good to sit down with everyone and just relax after a hot and fast day.

- Jeff

H2H Bulldog Rump Race Report

H2H Bulldog Rump (Campmore H2H Series #4 event and USA Cycling Mid-Atlantic Championships Series event #3)
July 11, 2010
Andover, NJ
In attendance: John Arias, Ross Anderson

The H2H Bulldogs race was a big one for me since I'm currently 2nd and closing in on 1st in Category 1 30-39 for the USA Cycling Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships with one race to go. I'm in 3rd in points for the H2H series.

Bulldog Rump went very well with a stacked group of 30 plus racers. I started off in top-5 then four of us packed together to pull away from the main field. During midway of the first lap we were able to drop one more making it three of us in a fast train. I kept moving to the front to do some hard pulls to ensure we would not be caught.

After the start of the 2nd lap myself and Ryan Heerschap were able to pull away from the other guy; Ryan and I swapping back and forth for 1st. Feeling good I attacked at the end of the 2nd lap gaining a lead, but took a bad line on a downhill into a rocky turn and went into the woods crashing. I was able to get back on the bike and get flowing again, midway of the 3rd lap was back on Ryan's wheel and we were CRUSHING it.

We rode together till the last rocky climb where he took a better line then me and gained about 10 seconds on me. I tried to close the gap but wasn't able to, finishing in 2nd.

This was a great race for me, fine tuning my racing tactics and what my body can do. The H2H series is by far one of the hardest series out there that I race but I know all my competitors are beatable now.

Results are available on the Bulldog team site.

- John

Delaware Trail Spinners Fair Hill Classic XC

Sunday July 18, 2010

John Arias and Scott Wilson scored 1st and and 3rd in cat 1 race

July 01, 2010

Weeping Willow (again)

Scott Bumpus from Seaside Cycle found this great picture from the Weeping Willow race I did over a month ago. Just thought I'd share it. I had a great conversation with him last night while taking pictures of riders at the ECV bi-weekly Time-Trial.