Monthly Archives: February 2013

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STORM Hill Country Challenge

A race on my local course? Yes, please!

Though I have to say, knowing what’s coming up and when to lay on the power is very important, the actual ability to lay on the power is probably more important. And also not hitting rocks, but that’ll come later.

The local course means that, for a race weekend I spend a lot of time on the couch watching Netflix. And sleeping in my own bed. And showering. I’m not complaining.

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The Waco race

Ah the Waco race. This year, this race had like 5 different names and I don’t remember any of them.

This race was kinda a toss up for me. It’s a short loop, so us Cat 3 peeps get to feel like we’re “all that” cause we get to do more than one lap. We did three laps of 4 miles each, making this the longest race of the series so far. I mean, there was only one before this and it was 7 miles… The course itself is pretty fun, there’s a couple short steep climbs, a few long drawn out ones, and some good, fast downhill stuff. There wasn’t too much technical, besides some of the climbs were kinda loose. Just a good place to ride your bike.

I ended up taking a half day at work on friday, went home, loaded all my stuff and drove the 4 hours to the park that the race was at. I got out of the car and instantly froze. It was probably 46 degrees or so, and all I had to do my preride in was just shorts and a jersey. I would have totally said “Rule number 9, pansies!” if I wasn’t being such a pansy and whining about it. I finished the preride with about 27 minutes per lap, which wasn’t that bad for not being warmed and just taking it slow. Afterwards, I talked to some of the volunteers about some places on the course that I thought should be changed, and they were understanding and I totally got the course changed! That sentence kinda makes me sound like I complained and stuff, but I just brought up the point that it was a little tricky at one point and it totally kills the speed and made me stop each time, and that the little kids and having heavy traffic doing the same might not be the best.

After pre riding, I sat in my car and booked a hotel room. I was planning on camping, but the volunteers that I talked to mentioned that they really hadn’t reserved camping for Friday night, so there could be the chance that I’d get kicked out. And since it was pretty darn cold, and I was freezing, I just spent the money and got somewhere that had a heater.

Saturday, I woke up and took a shower. I figured since I’m paying all this money, I should at least enjoy the high life. The Waco race is one of the latest Cat 3 starts in our series; the race doesn’t start till 1:30pm. I think the latest other race starts are 11:00am, 11:30 tops. It makes it challenging, cause if you don’t eat before the race, there’s a good chance you’ll be hungry and won’t perform too well, but if you do eat, you’ll have too full of a stomach. So, it means you’re eating your salad at like 11:20, hoping that everything is going to digest well.

I got to the park at like 9am, walked around, hung out, watched the cat 2’s start, waited, talked, watched the cat 1’s start, waited some more. I eventually met up with my friends, got changed and warmed up. I got all ready to for roll call at 1:15pm, but then they announced that the cat 3 start got pushed back to 2:00pm. I’m just glad I didn’t take some caffeine like some of my friends did, they were shaking for a while before we actually got to start. And eventually we did get to start.

The start there was really wide, which then funneled down into this tapped off zig zag that we had to ride through. I was kinda in the middle when we hit the first turn and people just cut me off and were squeezing me out, so I slammed on my brakes, popped off a foot and pivoted right around the first pole. It was pretty cool, but I did lose quite a bit of speed. A couple more turns and we ended up dropping into the single track.

One of the things that defined this race in my mind this year was the fact that I was never alone. Most races, since I’m middle of the pack skill and speed wise, there a point in the middle where I am just riding on the trail with no one before me and no one behind me. That didn’t happen this race. I’m not sure if it was cause there wasn’t many places to pass, I started too far back in the pack, or if there just were a lot of people, but I was almost always coming up behind someone. I’ve never passed so many people before this race. The hardest part of passing someone is that you are only going like 1 mile an hour faster than them, so you don’t really have the strength or speed to pass them on the flats; there just isn’t any places that are wide and long enough. Or what else happened a lot was that I would be the third person in the train, so I had to either pass the person in front of me then the person in front of them, or get the person in front of me to pass the person in front of them, then decide if I could even pass the person who passed the first person.

With being behind so many people, the hill climbs became more challenging. You had to drop down to the granny-est of your gears and spin just to keep from bumping tires with the person in front of you. Cause once you bump tires, you more than likely end up losing all your momentum and have to stop. When you’re stopped, more people pass you. There is this one climb (dubbed in my head as “the loose climb”) that I can ride up, it’s not the most fun climb, but I can do it. I didn’t successfully make it up any of the three times I came across it, mostly because people in front of me messed me up.

As I came to the end of the first lap, I was behind this guy wearing a white shirt with a gray backpack on. As we climbed this massive climb, I was constantly on his rear tire, and as we came around to cross the finish line I was pretty much just following him in recovery mode. As we started the loop, I passed him and started towards the single track. As I go close to where it narrows, he zooms past me and just takes off. I was all “what the heck?”, since he was going so slow before. I decide to chase after him.

Long story short, I don’t see him again until the big climb at the end of the lap. I say something about it and we get to talking. His name is Justin, and knowing his name is going to make mentioning him again much easier. As we both finish out second lap and start our third, I did much better at keeping up with him, he doesn’t lose me till this annoying fire road climb that never seems to end; the climb isn’t particularly hard or steep, it just goes on forever and gets steeper towards then end. I do manage to see him when I start the big climb at the end, about 200 yards and three people in front of me. I manage to gain a little on him on the climb, but then the person in front of me eats it and lies moaning on the trail. I manage to get around him and finally get to the very last section of the race, which is about a half of a mile of grass, asphalt, and grass again. Justin is now only about a hundred yards away and going pretty fast. So I just start hammering away.

As soon as I get to the black top, I pass the guy in front of me, and it’s only me, Justin and about 200 yards to the finish. I pedaled so hard and so fast that after I crossed the line, I couldn’t breathe, talk, stand up, or do anything for a good five minutes. And sadly Justin crossed the line a whole ten feet ahead of me. He didn’t even know I was coming for him.

That said, I’m still pretty impressed at how much I narrowed the gap.

Oh and another thing that happened at this race is that the scoring was all messed up and slow. Slow as in 2 and half hours late in getting our results. I know there must be some difficulty in having a multi lap cat 3 race, but it wasn’t any fun to wait around that long. When they finally posted the times, Justin wasn’t in the right place; they had him as a DNF, not right in front of me. We protested, but I didn’t stick around to see of they fixed it for the final results. They didn’t. I ended up getting 11th place, when I probably really should have had 12th. But what is done is done.

And I then drove home, with a car that started to act up. 3 hours from home. At night. When I was exhausted.

But that is a story for another time, titled “how much my car has been misbehaving”…

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Sun & Ski presents The Rocky Hill Roundup

I am beat.

Today was the first race of the 2013 Texas Cross Country Mountain Bike State Championship Series, the Sun & Ski presents The Rocky Hill Roundup. Apparently there is a prize for the longest name and these guys might be winning, but I digress. I’m talking about the race, so let me start at the beginning (known as yesterday) and I’ll tell you my story.

Yesterday, I loaded up my car with all my necessary equipment, almost left, grabbed my phone, then left. I’ve driven out to Rocky Hill Ranch a few times and it is a pretty easy drive. It’s 142 miles away, but you only take four roads.

So anyway, I got there and set up camp. Camping at race venues is a pretty awesome thing. You don’t have to worry about showering, or spending a lot of money on a hotel, or waiting in line to get in the park the morning of the race. But there are some down sides, and since I haven’t made a list in a while, I’m going to use that format.

Down sides of camping at a race:

  1. The Weather. It can get hot when you camp. It can get rainy when you camp. And both of those suck. The one weather that I’m usually prepared enough for (the cold) doesn’t happen when you camp in Texas. Not even the second weekend in February.
  2. The Bugs. Now this is more if a general camping rant, or maybe a Texas camping rant, but bugs do kinda suck. There are spiders, which are just creepy. Mosquitos, which are just annoying. And there are ants, which are painful. Yeah, I was never been bit by an ant until I moved to Texas. They hurt.
  3. The Loud People. There is this thing about cyclists, where they like beer. If you ever have a cyclist buddy and you want to get on his good side, offer him a beer. And cyclist + beer = good time. And good time = loud time. And it usually is around the time I’m trying to get to bed and rest up for the big race in the morning.
  4. The Getting Trapped. Now, this doesn’t happen at every race, but Rocky Hill it does happen. The camp grounds are inside the course, so to get out you have to cross the course with your car; pushing the racers out of the way. And the race officials frown at that.
  5. The Hydrating. One of the things you do to prepare for a race is drink a lot of water. I personally try to get at least a gallon of water drunk, besides the normal water in my bottles when I ride. And I’m pretty darn good at it. But when you’re camping, you don’t have the luxury of rolling out of bed, walking ten steps to the bathroom. No, you have to pick yourself up off the ground, try to decide if you want to walk out of your tent in your underwear, decide you don’t, throw some shorts on after searching for two whole minutes in the dark, find your shoes, unzip the tent, walk up the hill to the porta potty, realize you don’t have a flashlight, etc and etc. And you do this at least five times over the course of the night.

Back to the boringness of the post. I set up camp, moved the camp cause of ants, ate lunch and went out for a preride of the course. The preride went well, I ended up almost going over my handlebars up a hill, and ended up with too little air in my tires and them getting really squirrelly. Nothing really interesting happened, I just spent the rest of the time catching up with my friend Ian.

Today though, was interesting. I work up pretty early, and I decided that I didn’t want to get my car trapped in the campground and having myself stuck at the ranch till quite late in the day. So I packed up all my stuff and drive down to the normal parking area before 7:00. I went and washed my hands in the bathroom and put my contacts in, and while I was putting the stuff back away in my trunk, I hear this guy driving by. He says in this sing-song voice, “It’s going to raaaaain…”. Right after he said that, I hear a raindrop here. And one over there. And then some more. I quickly close my trunk and hop in my car.

Instant deluge. And wind.

Tents were flying everywhere, rain was coming down sideways and in buckets. And I was so glad that I was not wet. So I ate brekkie and waited for it to dry.

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After the weather decided it was going to behave and play nicely, I got out and started to warm up with some friends. I shifted to a different gear and my chain popped off. Looking down, I saw that one of my spokes was broken. I got a mechanic guy to take it off for me, which was quite nice.

And then my cycling computer’s sensors fell off. Somehow both of the zip ties just broke. If I was thinking, I might have thought it was a sign or a warning or something. And I’m kinda glad, cause I would have been stressed out for no reason; the race went fine.

The race was fine, but slick as snot. The rain just made everything mud. And riding in mud isn’t something that I’m very good at. I just haven’t really had any practice. Some of the climbs I remember pedaling and my back tire spinning and I’m barely moving forward. I ended up hiking quite a few of them.

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Both my bike and I got covered in mud. I’m going to have to spend an hour or so cleaning it this week.

The mud also took out the parts of the course I was counting on using to gain some time. I couldn’t go fast cause my tires would just slide out and I didn’t want that to happen.

So I ended up finishing the race in 14th, with a time of 50:45. I’m not sure how long the course was, since there were some detours that were made. If I had raced in my old age group category, I would have came in 6th. Which would have been nice, but I’m not too sad about 14th, we had a pretty large group.

Cute little kids.

Yes. I find little kids cute. And today I’ve had more than my fair share, so here are the ones that I think are the best.

This little girl really like Gangnam Style:

This little girl really likes trains:

And this little boy really likes basketball. Or is just really, really good at it: