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

No comments:

Post a Comment