Monday, June 22, 2009
Start Line at Cowbell Challenge 2009.
This past weekend saw Denelle and myself venture south to Davidson, NC. for the annual Cowbell Challenge. This years event was going to be part of the US Cycling National Endurance Calender as well as the Kenda Cup East with races on both Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday race was my focus with a 58 mile marathon event. In past years, this event has been a 10 or 12 hour race that has had a large contingent of local ass kickers taking wins, with this jump onto the national calendar though, things were looking primed for some big names and top speeds. The race course itself is on a piece of property owned or managed by the city of Davidson and known as Fisher Farm Park. There is not a lot of elevation change within the park overall, but everyfoot of it they seemed to make use of by running the race up and down from a small river bed to the top of a 200 foot hill numerous times. Much of the actual climbing seemed to be in the open fields or on wider sections of trail in the woods, so things were very sun baked come noon time. The opening section of trail for the event had some great sections of rocks and TONS of roots that added challenge to corners and desents, add to this some optional "free-ride" style lines made mandatory thanks to liberal application of Kenda Tape and you have a race venue....a super fun race venue.
The race was slated for a 10am start from downtown Davidson with a blitzkreig style rampage from the town to the race venue via greenway paved paths and roads. Having registered in the pro-field for the weekend meant that we were all placed on the front of the race and turned loose at pace. From the gun, someone upfront decided they needed to make haste, and haste they did. I don't know if it was the KOM climbs that were being awarded or just some sick roadie on semi-slicks, but the pace was UNREAL from the get-go. I clung to the back of the front runners, and by the time we hit the first section of single track 8 miles later, there were 8 of us left as the lead pack....and I had already burned some significant matches. On the first climb on single track, I settled in, tried to keep the middle ring spinning over and sipped at my InfinIT bottle on the downtube. Up that climb, and through the Kenda Blowup Archway and we were starting our first full lap. I quickly left the front of the pack and let the paid people move off to do the damage they wished to each other, I wanted little to do with that. Over the next two hours I worked my way around the course, through the rock gardens, up the multiple leg burner climbs and over the rooty corners and drops. I never really felt I could hit full power with the significant heat. Steven from WBR/Siren recorded 103 degrees under their canpoy near the transition area. By the end of Lap 2 I was really feeling the heat. I was pushing the InfinIT and pleasantly surprised by how well it seemed to be working, at the end of Lap 3, I made a request for some Coca-Cola and Johanna and Kyle managed to roust some Dr. Peper from a kid in time for me to have some before going out for my 5th lap. This was to prove to be a deciding lap for me. I felt solid and held steady through the climbs and really was pulling great time through the rooty corners and technical sections. The Top Fuel's ABP systema and Full Floater technology made a HUGE difference on this course. I never had to get out of the saddle through the roots and could stay planted to the bike and produce power through all but the roughest rock garden sections....and luckily, those were mostly downhill. This lap I cought the guy who had been just in front of me. We came into transition with him just in front of me and as I stopped to get a fresh bottle and a bit of food, he rolled through with his camelback and setout on course. A quick feed from Jo and Kyle got me out on course again and I announced to them, I was gonna go find that guy. Kyle's words stuck with me for the lap, "Give him hell."
I rolled throught the first technical features and empowered by the cheering fans on the side once again forced myself to ride the semi-technical rock climb through a narrow and over some precarious roots. I dropped one gear harder than I had been through the next twisty section as I tried to pull time on the guy on the 29er bike in front of me. He still was not in sight though. Coming out of the woods on that lap and into the first sun-burnt field section, I saw him ahead by about 200 yards. I put my head down, drove the pedals around in harder cirles, and found some strength that I did not know was still there. As the gap closed, I got to the first of the field climbs and quickly pulled niner dude back in. I settled in just behind him at a gap for a minute to evaluate what I had left in my deck and try to measure out what he was holding still in his hand. I swept past him in the next little sweeper climb and he hopped straight onto my wheel and seemed to settle in comfortably for the 4th from final climb on my wheel. I ticked the pedals over in the middle ring, turning steady power at about 90% of my LT, hoping I could find a little extra pop in the legs shortly. We crested this climb, and on the next descent, he came around me to create a small gap going into another flat field section. He was a big strong guy and managed to open his gap on me a tiny bit more on this flat....or at least enough to keep me out of his slip stream. Into the 3rd from last climb, we climbed together, steady, holding pace, I pulled around him on the edge of the trail. As we entered a short techinical descent, I managed to clean the line quickly and created a gap of a few seconds. The second from last climb was a short one, only 250-300 yards total, and it had a long descent to flat after it....I hoped out of the saddle and pounced. There was no sound from behind me and I spun the pace up out of the saddle and settled down to a seated position feeling the burn in the legs and still pushing power. Cresting the climb and not looking back, I started the sweeping field descent. I glanced over to where we had just climbed up and saw niner guy spinnning up the climb not responding to the acceleration. I went through the flat section. Powered the final climb in the middle ring and spun through the finish for 8th place in the Pro/Open field.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Well, that's not all true. He'll be back for the Paranormal in October. But he really is moving to Asheville. It's a sad day in the history of sad days. And while I do love the drama, I'll miss the papa bear. We can only hope that Pisgah National Forest is big enough for him.
From my limited experiences, yes, it's freaking huge.
The obvious next subject is, of course, when are we going to visit, say hi to Clark (whom we really like more than Nolan anyway), take advantage of his developing knowledge of Pisgah bootleg trails, and maybe race ORAMM?
Well, ORAMM is July 26th. Chickity-check it out: http://www.blueridgeadventures.net/oramm/main.html
It's a bit like the Shen 100, I'm told, only down thattaway instead of up thissaway, and a little shorter - but no less difficult. I met the event promoters at the Hoo-Ha!, and they talked it up enough to get me interested. And now we've got to say goodbye to the big man. The stars seem aligned to make us only have to miss him for a month.
Who's coming with me?
Here's a sad, lonesome ode to Nolan's departure and/or what my dogs do every time a fire truck drives down Markwood Road:
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Always a good time. I only see some of the folks that come ride for one weekend each year, and that's the MS 150. It's always fun to see who is strong and who hasn't been riding. Without fail, Shawn will ride the double century on his mountain bike. Last year, Brad Gaithers showed up in superman form and punished the rest of us for the whole weekend.
I can't say enough for the cause itself, beating MS, so I won't say much at all. But it does hit home these days, and it feels good to be doing our part to make a difference. 43 riders from UVA/Team Pegasus will be pedaling up the road in pursuit of a better life for those suffering from MS, and maybe even a cure.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I was talking to Iron Mike Walling, veteran XXC racer the other day. He recounts going to the line a few years ago at XXC events and there only being 4 guys there to race. Things have changed a lot. XXC focus has evolved as bike technology has made this kind of effort more accessible to the masses, and those of us who like a little more pain for our race entry dollar have all but abandoned 2 hour XC races. $45 for 7000 feet of climbing, 35 miles of burly singletrack, and no USAC license required? Now THAT is a purchasing value. A big pile of masochists showed up to the line for the Hoo Ha! XXC over at Massanutten.
Cyclingnews coverage of the Hoo Ha! is here: http://www.cyclingnews.com/mtb.php?id=mtb/2009/jun09/hooha09/hooha092
Full results forthcoming.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Also results are posted here.