April 29, 2013

Bike Line Spring XC @ Fair Hill 2013

Race: Bike Line Spring XC @ Fair Hill - Mid-Atlantic Super  Series
Date: April 28, 2013

Conditions: Dry, sunny, warm, short hills, fast and one stream crossing

Pro/open race: Cam 1st, Jeff 3rd (Scott had 5 riders in the top ten)

Team photo with our new kits!
A big turn out
Pro/open results

Race report to follow.

April 22, 2013

Greenbrier Challenge - Race Report - 2013

Race: Greenbrier Challenge - AMBC/Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship Series/Mid-Atlantic Super  Series (a lot of series start with this race!) / Maryland State Championships

Date: April 21, 2013

Conditions: Dry, sunny, cool, one permanently muddy downhill

Riders: Jeff (1st pro); Cam (3rd pro); Zack (8th pro); Mike (11th pro); Dylan (1st Cat 1 open); Jay (2nd 55+ Cat 1)

Greenbrier is the traditional start to the Mid-Atlantic cross country mountain bike season.  It's hosted UCI events in the past and has been a fixture on the calendar for 10 years.

The course is 40% single track/60% double track, has two small climbs, one steep climb of about .8 miles, a rocky climb and three fast downhills.  Pro and Cat 1 Open fields did 5 laps of the 5.7 mile course; other Cat 1 fields did 4 laps.

Cam came into this event sporting the #1 plate for the year as last year's MASS series winner.

The 4 riders from Virginia (me, Mike, Dylan and Zack) jumped on our friend Jan's Bikenetic shop bus to the race.  We piled 12 racers, spouses (and one child) into the bus and our friend Bayar drove.  It brought me back to the days at the University of New Hampshire Cycling Team driving the old U-125 15 person van to and from races all across New England.
Loading up the bus
However, this bus had bike racks for secure transport inside the bus and a flat screen tv!
Flatscreen TV - we watched a few movies on the ride to the race
"Keg Ride" license plate
Great rack system that held a lot of Sparks and Scales securely
After last weekend's mechanical issues at the Baker's Dozen 13 hour relay, I had to build up a new bike.  I finished building my Spark 900 RC late in the day on Saturday for the race on Sunday.

Newly built up Spark 900 RC
It's never a good idea -- bike work the day before a race -- so I was a bit worried.

We had reserved parking and needed most of it for the Keg Ride bus
The start of the pro field was not, thankfully, the normal crazed pace.

Pro field start
Photo Credit: Ethan Frey (http://ericfrey.zenfolio.com/)
The 15 person field rode a steady tempo and started to split up on the first steep climb when a group of 4, including Cam, rode away.  Zack, riding his first race as a Pro, and I were chasing just off the back of the leaders and keeping them in sight.

Zack at the start
I was more worried about Dylan catching us all as he'd only started 2 minutes behind the pro field!

I realized on the first fast downhill that I'd made my chain too long and in the 36x11 gearing (I'm running a mix of SRAM XX1 crankset/chainring, SRAM XX 10spd cassette, SRAM chain, Shimano XTR shifter and Shadow Plus rear derailleur) the chain had too much slack and was hopping off the front chainrings.

A quick stop to put the chain back on and I was passed by 6 riders.  A big effort up the next rocky downhill got me back into 6th place and I found myself riding with my mtb training partner, Ian Spivak, of the Bike Doctor team.  At the end of the 1st lap, I looked over to see Dylan about 45 seconds behind us.

Dylan chasing (and passing) the pro field
Ian and I proceeded to ride together for the next 5 laps and reeled riders in, mostly on the climbs.  Every climb we rode a hard pace and eased up on the downhills and flats to rest.  It was a measured effort and our lap times were fairly consistent.

My Spark was awesome for these efforts.  I put it into climb mode for the ascents and full open for the descents.  It's like I was riding two different bikes - a climbing bike and a descending bike.

Jeff heading out for another lap with Ian - Photo Credit: Gwadzilla (http://www.gwadzilla.blogspot.com/)
After 4 laps, we'd caught nearly everyone.  We caught up to Brandon Draugelis and he hung with us for a lap and a half.  Finally on the last lap, on the steep climb, we caught sight of Cam, who was feeling the effects of the long day in the saddle in the lead on his own.

I slowed up a bit to try and get Ian to chase Cam (I didn't want to chase at that point!) and we three rode down the next descent together and to the base of the final rocky climb.  Ian put in a tremendous attack and rode away from me and Cam, quickly putting 15 seconds on us.  I looked over at Cam who said he was cooked: it was up to me to chase Ian.  I gave it everything I had -- so hard I was seeing black spots and cognition was starting to fail...

I caught Ian after the rocky climb and on a flattish section before the final descent.  I passed on the outside and blew into the final descent.  The Spark 900 RC worked like a dream.  I floated through the muck, over rocks and fallen trees and came out the other side of the descent with a 10 second gap.

I locked the front and rear suspension out and sprinted for the finish for all I was worth and had enough time to give a victory salute before the finish.

Jeff Post-Race
I'd wanted to do well at this race and a lot of training this spring paid off!

Cam came in just a bit behind for 3rd.

Zack had an equally great day in the pro field, finishing 8th and Mike is just now getting back into training after a winter spent renovating his house, and finished 11th.
Pro Men's Results
Dylan put in the fastest lap of the day of any rider -- faster than any of the riders in the pro field -- and won his race by over 5 minutes.

Jeff and Dylan Post-Race
Dylan's time would have put him 4th in the pro field.

Cat 1 Open Men's Results
Jay also had a good day and finished second in his field.  As I passed on the 4th lap, Jay was calling out splits to the riders in front of us.  Great motivation!

Cat 1 50+ Men's Results
Full results are available here:

Pro Men's Podium (Jeff 1st, Cam 3rd)
Cat 1 Open Podium (Dylan 1st)
Cat 1 55+ Podium (Jay 2nd)
The new kits (black and "rosa") look great!

A very big thanks this week to our team sponsors, in particular:

  • Continental Tires - Zero flats, no slow leaks, fast rolling and tons of traction
  • Fizik Saddles - Comfortable for a long day in the saddle, light weight and fit to how you ride

Next up is the Bike Line MASS series event at Fair Hill.  Hope to see you there!

Here's my data from Strava:

- Jeff

April 16, 2013

Race Report - Zack Second at Dragon's Tale 2013

Race: Dragon's Tale
Location: New Castle, VA
Date: April 14, 2013
Riders: Zack - 2nd Overall

The Dragon's Tale is a  37 mile event on the rocky spine of mountains in southern Virginia.  I raced this event when it was a shorter race in the late 1990s and my only recollection is a lot of hiking and swearing after I broke just about everything on my bike (torn tire sidewalls, broken derailleurs).  Zack fared a lot better than me.  Here's his report in his words:

The 5th annual Dragon's Tale was a blast. This race is the reincarnation of Kyle Inman’s classic “Dragon’s Back” from mountain biking’s hallowed past (the 90’s) on a revised course but many of the same trails. It couldn't have been a more perfect day, with sunny weather in the 60's and 70's, cold stream crossings, grinding climbs, ripping descents and gnarly ridge top riding on some of Southwest Virginia’s most epic singletrack. 

As usual Chris Scott of Shenandoah Mountain Touring puts on a great race: well-marked, well supported, good food (with vegetarian options ;-) and great beer at the finish line. It looked to be a tough field with guys like Westly Richards, Erik Jensen, Kyle Lawrence, James Wittwer, Andy Rhodes and Mike Runnals coming out this year.

We rolled out of the staging area at 10 am with a 4 mile parade down Rt. 311 for a relaxed warm-up. When we made the left turn on Broad Run road, it was time to start opening things up.  I set a fast pace on the dirt road, blasting through the 5 deep and cold creek (come on, it's a river) crossings. 

The water was deep this year due to a heavy rain fall a few days before, and I had to jump off halfway through and run the across several times. These deep crossings can wreak havoc on a drivetrain, but my Squirt wax lube held up and I was still squeak-free by the end of the race.

Wes and I reached the first climb with a rider from App. State hanging on and a big gap over the rest of the field. I led up the 20 minute technical climb up Grouse Trail with Wes right on my wheel. First time at the top it's a right turn along the ridge into Deer Trail for a ripping downhill with many tight steep switchbacks.  

My new Scott Spark handled this terrain beautifully, I was able to climb up some steep switchbacks that I don't think I've ever ridden before, and the thing descends like a rocket, such a fun bike to ride. I thought I might be able to get away on the descent but only managed to gain a few seconds. 

Coming back through the first aid station to climb Grouse again, Wes pulled in front of me and motored up the climb and was out of sight by the top. He was on fire. At the top of the climb it’s a left turn on North Mountain Trail to ride out the rest of the ridge.

I was by myself for the rest of the race, just going hard and riding clean on the rough and rocky ridge-top single. I kept imagining someone close behind and Wes right up ahead to keep going hard, even though my legs were in a fair amount of pain and having cramping issues. 

This trail is punctuated by 6 steep grunting climbs requiring several dismounts. One of the final humps is particularly sadistic - seemingly endless and so steep it's a struggle to put one foot in front of the other. Finally, the grunts were through and it's down a fast descent to Aid 2. The Continental X-King’s setup tubeless on Stan's wheels were amazing in this terrain with excellent climbing, cornering, and braking traction, and they roll fast on the road sections as well.

After Aid 2, it's the home stretch with about 45 minutes until the finish. A steep 10 minute climb up North Mountain Trail followed by some ridge and yet another ripping descent down Lick Branch Trail with some sweet skinny off-camber single. Then it’s the final 5 minute climb (woooo!!) up Ferrier Trail and an awesome descent to roll back on the road for a few miles to the finish.  

I crossed the line with a time of 3:53:30 for second place, about 10 minutes in front of Harrisonburg's Erik Jensen and about 5 behind Wes Richards. Sue Haywood (Stan’s NoTubes) topped the women’s podium, followed by Laura Hamm and Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing).

 A frigid rinse in Craig Creek and some tasty food and beverage topped off the both painful and awesome day.

Andy Rhodes (5th), Zack Morrey (2nd), Wes Richards (1st), Erik Jensen (3rd), and James Wittwer (4th). (I’m looking forward to getting the 2013 jersey that hopefully covers my belly.)

Both the first and second place riders were riding Scott bikes.


- Jeff

April 13, 2013

Bakers Dozen 13 Hour Relay Race 2013 - Race Report

Event: Baker's Dozen 13 Hour Relay
Date: April 13, 2013
Riders: Jeff Dickey (Duo Co-Ed team with long-time relay and adventure racing teammate Terri Spanogle)
Conditions: Possibly the best I've ever encountered for a mtb race.  Sunny, but cool.  Fast, but grippy. Early spring perfect.
Result: 2nd

Terri and I headed to Leesburg, VA for our 6th Baker's Dozen (and our 6th time racing together as a duo team and 7th time racing this event).  This is one of my favorite early season races -- the course is nearly 100% fast swooping singletrack.  Plus, a rainstorm on Friday had packed down the trail so it was dust free and faster than usual.

At the start, I had a major mechanical incident.  You can see it around 40 seconds into this video.

Jeff taking the outside line at the 250 person start

Afterwards, I ran back to the start to let Terri know she might have to ride, then headed back to our camp.  We were pitting with Terri's team, Veloworks-Spokes, and they were gracious enough to lend me a singlespeed.

After a lap of learning how to ride a singlespeed (I'd only ridden one once before, 5 years ago) and losing 15 minutes on the lap, I handed off to Terri.

Terri waiting for the baton handoff to start her lap
Our plan had been to do, one on, one off laps until we started to get a little tired.  Lap times were ranging from 34-35 minutes to 40-45 minutes, so there wasn't much of a break after completing your lap.

Jeff between laps
Terri rode a fast lap, and I put in two faster laps on a Specialized S-Works Epic set up with some awesome parts that John Kromis let me borrow.  It was set up with a SRAM XX drivetrain.  Having ridden on a modified SRAM XX1 setup, it was odd to have a front derailleur again, so I didn't bother with it.  The course was fast enough not to need anything other than the big ring!

My borrowed bike
After three sets of two laps each, Terri and I were getting a little tired. 

A fun rock section that was possible to jump up and over, then jump a second time on the way down

We'd moved up to second place after posting consistently fast laptimes and no additional mechanical issues.

Great blue skies and green grass
The first place team, Team CF, was possibly out of reach, but we decided to put in a final push to see if we could catch them.

Our camp at night
I put in two nighttime laps that completely turned me inside out -- I started hallucinating a bit in the woods -- and Terri completed the day with the last lap, finishing around 10:30pm in second.  A very long day.

We rode 19 laps overall, which would have placed us 5th in the Duo Male category, 11th in the 3-person Male category and put us as the 37th team overall (out of 262 teams).  A fine finish!

Here's my data from Strava:

A few major thanks to our sponsors Zevlin and Stuffitts who kept me going through this race:

  • Zevlin for keeping me from having any saddle sore issues after riding an odd-fitting bike for 6+ hours at race pace.
  • Stuffitts for drying out my helmets between each lap.  There's nothing so awful as putting on a stinky, wet helmet again and again.  No issues for me this race!

Also, a very big thanks to the Veloworks team for helping me out so much over the weekend with two loaned bikes and awesome mechanical support from Phil from the Belle View Spokes, Etc. shop, who checked over my bike after every lap.

Next up is the Greenbrier AMBC/Mid Atlantic Championship/MASS Series opener at Greenbrier, MD.  Hope to see you out there!

- Jeff

April 12, 2013

Dylan Takes His Second Win of the Season

Race: Pocahontas Mountain Bike Race
Date: April 7, 2013
Riders: Dylan Johnson (1st, Pro/Open Category)
Conditions: Fast, warm and dry

Last weekend, Dylan picked up a fine win at the Virginia Mountain Bike Series event outside Richmond, VA, at Pocahontas State Park (site of the well attended MonsterCross event earlier this season).

On a twisty and fast course with limited room for passing, Dylan battled with pro Matt Bailey (Trek) for the lead.

Dylan leads the field at the start
On the second of two laps, Dylan attacked on a short uphill, got a gap and pushed it to the finish to finish in first by more than a minute.

Men's Pro/Open Podium
Results are available here.

Many of the of the team were racing on the road last weekend to get some early season fitness, with Nick taking 3rd at the Navy Yard Crit in Philly, Zack finishing 9th in a road race in PA and Jeff rolling through the on the Jefferson Cup road race in Charlottesville (allergies and a late night of dancing at a wedding the night before combined for a pack finish).

Nick at the Navy Yard Crit
The team is headed in multiple directions this weekend.  Jeff is headed to the 13 hour Baker's Dozen Relay in Leesburg, VA, Zack is heading south to the Dragon's Tale in southern VA, you might see Jay and Cam at the Michaux Endurance races in PA, and others are putting the finishing touches on pre-season prep.

Hope to see you out on the trails!