Sunday, May 23, 2010

What a Sunday!

What a weird May this has been. The weekend for the Coolest 24hrs was the warmest weekend this year! Not complaining, just strange. Today is May 23rd, I had a wool base layer on and knee warmers all day. Again, not complaining, but how weird is that!?

Russel road at 9am and Marja and I bump into Howard and his son Zack (studly 8th grader, keeping up!) and Darren. Hadn't seen them in a very long time, and had not ridden with Darren for a few years. It was great to ride with them again. So we set out on the usual, heading down Manzanita....w/o Marja, did I mention we left the flat pedals on her mtb (practicing her mad skills!) and my pedal wrench was up at my house. Chris was riding up stage coach to meet us, with a pedal wrench. So she decided to skip Manzanita in her move!

So we all met up and started riding what turned out to be single track in perfect condition due to all the rain and snow from the day/night before....yes snow.

The kid, aka Zack, looks perplexed at the log on the climb up to Drivers Flat:

"...what is it with you guys and food?" much to learn young grasshopper....

Once up to Drivers Flat I asked who'd be visiting Chucky (Ruck-a-Chucky), and to my surprise, Marja was 100% for it. Here's where Zack, Howard and Darren leave us. Don't blame them, Chucky can be ugly especially for those first time visitors!

At the bottom Chris rides up, "that was awesome!" Figured out what he really meant, can't repeat here. See Chris was on his geared Ventana that is fully rigid. The decent down Chucky is 2.5 miles of steep rocky fire road....1000 feet vertical in mainly the last 1.75 miles of it. Think his arms and hands were just about shaken off!

Back at the top to the table at Drivers Flat for more eats, and off we go ripping the buffed single track. Most days in May, Chucky would have been 90+ degrees of oven baking joy! Today, gorgeous!

Once back at the confluence, on our inferior wheel sized rigs (inside joke), Chris heads home for a tall beer, and a run I am most certain he would not be making, and Marja and I climbed up Stagecoach to get in the truck and make a pit stop at the Burrito Shop!

That's how a Sunday should be!

BTW....the legs are back, recovered from Cool! :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Coolest 24hrs 2010

Its 7a.m. on Monday. I should be asleep. I slept from 3pm until 7:30pm Sunday evening after eating 3/4 of a large pizza. At 7:30pm I woke up starving. Down I came to finish said pizza, minus a couple pieces for Marja. Next came the tater tots.

10pm I go to bed and surprisingly fall asleep. 4a.m. I am awake.

This is how the next week will go. My "internal clock" is whacked to say the least.

At noon Saturday was the start of the 2010 Coolest 24hrs Mountain Bike Race. Just like last year, I would be battling it out with Mike Harrison who now rides for Global Biorythms, and new comer to 24hr racing Zol Whitman, also with Global Biorythms. There were also several names on the start list racing single speeds I had never heard of which made me anxious for the start to get to racing to see who had what legs.

The weather was perfect, the course was sloppy in places - hey its Cool right, if you live around here you know that even in drought years you are getting muddy and wet on the Olmstead Loop in May.

We roll out onto the dirt and off we go. I ride Mike's wheel for the first 1/2 lap. He starts fast, so i wanted to stay close until the numbers thinned out. Then, ride my race and hope its fast enough. Maybe in the middle of the night or the next morning crank it up.

First lap didn't feel good, but it never does. Top of Knickerbocker on lap 2 I am feeling ready to race. The course was quickly drying up and getting faster...then the 8 o'clock hour hit and all the 8hr solo and team folks were off the course....ouch, the water began seeping back into the mud bogs and the water holes were only getting deeper.

I came into the pit to change my clothes and have my lights put on the bike. 4 minutes later I was riding again. That was my longest stop of the race. A huge thanks to Pete and Marja for keeping me over my bike and riding.

Somewhere around 10pm, I roll up to the pit, Pete shoves a piece of pizza in my mouth. In the pit area (made up of 3 10'x10' EZups) at least 6 people are hanging out eating pizza and watching movies - TV and DVD player, really Pete!? 45 seconds later all are cheering me on as I ride away. Thats what is so cool about these races, just a great scene!

The night laps go by well. Its cold, but not bad. Its a 2/3 moon. It was a great time to ponder anything...everything. Me, I just keep thinking about the next decent, the next climb. What I need to ride to finish another lap. I make an effort to talk to every racer I pass. Makes me feel better and hopefully brings some comfort to them. Some are in a bad place, some just don't want to chat. Can't blame them, I just give encouragement and keep pedaling. I know if I slow down I won't catch Mike, if I slow down Zol or someone else will catch me.

And so it goes.

My Moab HID battery dies after only 8.5 hours, bummer, but with only one last lap in the dark, my MiNewt on my head will be fine. At last the sun peaks on the eastern horizon. For some reason that sliver of light makes me oh so happy.

I pit, change helmets (lose the light) and Pete tells me I am holding 15 minutes back. Good news, 3rd place is now almost 2 laps down. The best breakfast burrito EVER and I am rolling again.

Hit the top of Knickerbocker and there's Zol. I have to get within 10 feet to tell its him, my vision was hazy and blurry thanks to all the mud overnight. Zol had a rough night. So I had 2 laps on third but still had 15 minutes to make on Mike. Zol and rode together and that helped to speed things up.

Pit, 20 minutes down on Mike, 2 laps to go before noon. I come through before heading out on my last lap. Still 20 minutes, but I have 1 hour and 40 minutes to make my last lap, no worries barring disaster.

Top of knickerbocker, there's Marja and she starts yelling at me to pick it up. In 1/2 a lap I had taken 10 minutes on Mike. Turns out Mike's pit crew was waiting with Marja and gave him the low-down on how fast I was catching him. He dug hard and ended up 15 minutes ahead of me after 23 hours and 40 minutes.

In the end, I took 2nd in the Solo Single Speed class and 3rd overall behind Dez and Mike. Its always great when a couple of single speeds get onto the overall podium.

Me - 2nd Place 24hr Solo Single Speed, 3rd 24hr Solo Overall

19 laps
241 miles
32,300 vertical feet.

Marja - 3rd Place 8hr solo Pro/Expert Women:

6 laps
76.2 miles
10,200 vertical feetAdd Image
The overall podium: Dez in the background, Mike and I enjoying bacon and a maple bar post race in the foreground!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Coolest 24hrs 2010

Race report to follow. Great times, weather was perfect, course was typical Cool for May - water a mud o'plenty!

  • 3rd place Pro/Expert 8hr Solo
  • 75.6 miles with 10,220 feet of climbing
  • 2nd Place 24hr Solo Single Speed
  • 3rd Place overall.
  • 241 miles with 32,300 feet of climbing
Stay tuned for report and pictures!


Friday, April 23, 2010

SS for life.....

Bodies Revealed was pretty darn cool, recommend it to everyone! I am jealous of Marja's anatomy experiences now. Way too cool!Go out and ride...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the mound...

The A's played the Rockies yesterday here in Cameron Park. Last minute, we put Cameron on the mound as Daniel didn't want to pitch. How'd it go?

First batter....4 pitches and Cam's first K...

Second batter, Cam was a little excited and was trying to aim too much. WALK.

Cam calms himself down on the mound taking some deep breaths... 5 pitches later he gets his second K...

Next, Cam is throwing hard but walks the next batter. He's rattled, but again takes a deep breath throws the hardest pitch I have seen him throw, strike 1! 3 pitches later he has 3rd K for the inning!

Not bad for his second outing on the mound! A's win 6-2....

Saving Cam's pitch count for the next game!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Its that time of, gymnastics and bike racing. WAIT, its always that time!

...its been awhile. Cameron and Annika's social calendar and my trying to race a bike make time a precious commodity. But who doesn't know that and face the same issues! There, my whining is done!

Annika's team is rocking the gymnastics meets, they have taken 2nd in each of their meets so far. The girls range from 6 (Annika) to 8 years old. The team they finish right behind is 9 to 13 years old. Hopefully this weekend the girls will finish ahead of them. They are super excited!

Cameron has had several firsts in the past few weeks. He pitched his first baseball game, he pitched the final inning of the season opener. He struck out the first batter, the second grounded out. He then walked a batter, and let me just say he handled it well because his face turned beet-red and when I told him to take a breath and relax, he shook his head "no!" Let me just say he only threw 3 pitches after that, and strikes and all with some heat! He closed out the season opener in fine fashion. The usual shy-guy said he loved being on the mound!

Since the A's have won 3 and lost 2. Each loss was by one run. The boys really look like they are having fun and are executing well. I love coaching baseball. I know many will mock me for saying this, but baseball is the greatest game ever invented, hands down. There is something so magical about it, it takes me back to being a kid...I won't bore you! You just have to have played as a kid to understand it. Think I will go watch Field of Dreams now...

As for me, well Marja and I headed down to Boggs V this past weekend. An 8hr race out in the woods below Clear Lake. Carlos, the promoter, set up an amazing course different than years past. Pete came down to run the pit for us. We spent Friday evening setting up the pit with Pete and prepping for Saturday. Pete was camping out of his van that night, and lucky for us we had a room in a local Bates Motel as it originally had been forecast to rain. When we arrived back at the venue Saturday a.m. Pete said it was by far the coldest he has been we owe that guy!!

The start came up quick and we left Pete a wee bit unorganized as we totally forgot to get all the food laid out for him, etc. But in typical Pete fashion he took incredible care of us. The start was a neutral roll out a fire road to the top of the course. After about a 1/4 mile the car pulled off and the race was on. Lots of team riders tore off. I kept a good pace with a lot of the other single speeds right around me. I am not known to start fast so I wanted to work on that in this race. We topped out and I was in a pack of a dozen just off the lead pack of ten or so. I was stoked with my start.

We twisted on some fun single track for a a while rolling along on the frozen ground....did I mention it was cold! Still some snow here and there, riding through it making a pass here and there. Just as we drop on to a small stretch of fire road my fender falls off...did I mention it was muddy?

Here is where my night mare begins.....we hit an S turn with several people ringing cow bells and hanging worries right? Several minutes after that as I pass two guys on a steep little pitch on some sweet single track.... I recognize where I am and come to a skidding stop.

"...we are lost!!" The two I just pass go by with a serious attitude and keep on driving....I take a right on a piece of single track and pop out on a fire road and after seeing only two tracks on the ground I realize, unfortunately, I am right. We start climbing this fire road when we hit the start loop again for the main course. Wow we are screwed!

At this moment several things went through my head....

  1. "Day is over, what a bummer"
  2. "Marja and Pete are gonna kill me!!!"
  3. ", lets play catch up and see how we do!!"
I have a stem cap that was a 3rd place award from the 12hrs of Humbolt a couple years ago....I got third, not because I folded a chain ring 4 miles from the start finish and had to run on lap 2, but because when I got back to the pit I sat down and sulked. When Marja came through I headed out riding laps with her. I basically gave up on my race. After several hours, probably 8 or so, I checked the results and I was still in 3rd. So I busted out a few more laps to make sure I stayed in third.....that stem cap reminds me not to ever give up on a race!! Pretty confident I could have won it if I kept my head in it.

So off I went (turns out I rode 3.5 miles extra, with time spent panicking I lost about 22 minutes). I was dead last. I was slow going picking my way through the back of the pack. That's the only issue with great Single Track courses....takes a while to pass!

Finally I roll through past the pit and yell out to Pete that I got lost....He's laughing!

Lap 2: still trying to get through the crowds on the single track. Luckily there where two super slimy switch backs that a lot of people were walking so i could ride passed some people and then a log you had to ride over that found most people I can get by too. That's how it went for that lap. On the last climb of the lap I catch up to Marja. She is moving! I tell her my tale of sorrow, she laughs and calls me an idiot (can't argue) and going out on lap 3 I slowly climb away from her.

Each lap feels a little better. Lap 5 I see Jared...surprised to see he is having a bad day, or at least mentally he is fried. He was going backwards. Lap 6 was tough, not sure why. Good news it was only slightly slower than my other laps.

Finishing lap 7, I see Mike in his pit...."huh????"

Pete tells me he is fried. I beat Mike at Cool 24 last year, he got me by 12 minutes at the Boggs 24 a month later. He is a super fast starter and crushes the shorter distances, my hope is that he goes too hard too early! Today he did, I got lucky! Pete also tells me Zol is only a 1 minute 30 sec. ahead of me. I was stoked.

Zol ended up putting a few more minutes on me as I ate nothing before heading out on lap 8...Bonk time! Good news was it was my last lap and I am very practiced in the art of bonking so I kept an okay pace to finish out the race.

For me, all in all it ended up to be a good day. Fought back to 5th SS on the day, would have had 3rd for sure had I not gotten lost and would have had to fight hard for 2nd with Mike Matthis, that man is on a terror this year. I would have definitely had time for a ninth lap.

Now Marja, she took 1st expert woman by 2 laps I think, and was 2nd woman overall behind Jamie Stamps in the Pro class. Her lap times were only 6 to 8 minutes off mine! Her last lap I think was only 1.5 minutes slower....looks like she will be kicking my butt before long!!

Thanks again to Pete for keeping us going with food and info on the other racers, couldn't have done it with out his help!!

The race gave me a good feeling heading into Cool next month. I was ahead of or would have been right with everyone I am competing with at Cool. These are guys that usually get me by 5 to 10 minutes in an 8 hour race. So in all I think my prep is going well. I have to admit, I am looking more toward Sea Otter next Friday than even Cool right now. I have yet to have what I call a "good race" at Sea Otter on the SS. Hopefully this year! Think my prep is there! 38 miles of bliss out of Laguna Seca!!

Now Marja.....lets just say she is going to crush the 8hr at Cool...


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

18th annual Cool XC race!

Well as usual it was muddy. I will leave it at that. It was, however, gorgeous weather. Looking back I have one question....not really sure there is an answer.

On a course I have ridden soooo many times, I mean a lot, why is it all I can obsess over is gears? Well, 2 in particular. What' funny, I ride a single speed. So at 9:00pm Saturday night I made my gear choice.

Truth be told, with the down pours we got Friday before the Sunday race I was pretty sure I was going to gear down a tooth for this one. I was coming off a hard week with tired legs and I did not want to do laps at Cool kicking myself for not gearing for the mud.

Long story short, the race starts fast - spin spin spin- keeping the leaders in sight to the top of the first climb. As usual, it dawns on me that I need to race MY race and tone it down a bit. As I jog a portion of the climb out of Salt Creek after a geared bike unclipped in front of me, I hear Marja behind me lovingly yell something like, "Oh Come On Brad!!" And of course I mount CX style on the steepest pitch just to shut her up!! :) The reality was, that was a bad idea as it hurt all the way to the road after the next good up. Male ego strikes again.

Drop down Knickerbocker, play in the creek and start my way up w/o taking a swim and Mike Mathis cruises by....he was on it Sunday! The end of lap #1 was spent battling with the geared riders who started somewhere around 2 minutes ahead of us. Many just don't want you to get by even when they are moving like molasses.

On to lap #2, feeling good bringing back more SS riders with each pedal stroke. The climb out of Salt Creek I spin a bit and jog to the top of the short but steep pitch right after the crossing. The lead kid (that's the 35 and under SSers) slowly comes by and tells me to "hang in there.." I think I responded "no worries" as I caught him by the top of the next climb and chatted with him while we descended to the climb up to the road crossing. He asked how old I was, and told him where he lets out, "sweeeet, your an old guy!" That's when I told him to have a good race and left.

Now that might seem cocky, but he seemed cooked and after his "hang in there" comment I had to respond, and I don't like smack-talking.

At one point on the top of the course I am sure I saw Dean in front of me and hoped I could catch him...but alas, when you gear down for the muddy climbing you sacrifice a bigger gear to push through the rollers. All in all I think my gear obsession paid off for the day.

The end of Lap#2 I was passing a Sho-Air rider (man) and the lead pro-woman, both started a few minutes a head of the SSers. Neither took too kindly to my pass uphill, and only after placing my hand on the Sho-Air riders hip as he tried to drop down onto me in the single track leading into the final mudbogg was I able to get around him and drop him on the short little rise to the finish. That's when, in the finishing shoot with my hands off the bar, said lead pro-woman clipped my bars to pass me literally on the line. Wee bit agro for me, but whatever floats your boat, especially that on the clock I was a few minutes ahead of her anyway.

Another lap would have been great. Usual XC race for me, 1 lap is brutal, second is good and feeling better. Ended up 7th. The "official" results have a couple guys a head of me that I am certain I beat by 4 minutes and 14 minutes respectively. Rumor is they protested the finish for some reason and got themselves moved up. I am certain it will pan out.

Considering its March with the longer events to come, I am really happy with my race. You always want to do better, but I wanted to be w/in 10 minutes of the winners and I was right there. Hopefully its a good sign that I am on track for the 24hr races soon to come. A little speed never hurt anyone. Especially when your an "old-guy." :)

Marja won the expert women and finished 5th woman overall. With a strong start I am comfortable saying she would have been easily on the podium with the pro women....sad to say she got robbed by a SSer on the first steep muddy climb, unclipped right in her path and she was left to hike it...

Next stop, Boggs 8hr.