Monday, June 30, 2003

Raccoon Rally Mountain Bike - 6/29/03
Sunday June 29, 2003:

I decided on Friday that I was going to race expert for the MTB race. Last year there were only 15 guys in sport masters II, and I would have a top 10 with my time, so... what the heck. At least I know who I was racing against.

I lined up behind the guys that won the road race day before... I was hoping they would drag me all the way to the finish..... was I wrong.

Lesson 1: Boy are those guys fast! They dropped me like I was standing still.

Note to self. Start this race in the big ring... I'll need it.

OK, so I'm loosing places like crazy, and we're not in the woods yet. I make a turn off the dirt road, heading into the woods, and drop my chain. It's bad enough I have to get off the bike to fix it. Hop back on, and I'm away again.

The race starts with a pretty nasty climbing section. I can pedal the whole course now, but the first climb is definitely a work out. I'm about half way up this, close to blowing up, when I over shift the rear cassette, and wedge the chain between the cassette and the spokes.

I probably lost about 5 minutes fixing this.... At this point I figured I could forget about the race, and treat it like a nice Sunday training ride. I grabbed a bite, used the bushes, then got back on the bike. I figure I lost about 10 minutes on mechanicals in total (including removing an especially annoying stick that was rubbing on my spokes, and stopping to raise my seat for a long spin up a climb) My goal now was to knock off anyone I could see in front of me, and not let anyone pass me.

I did pretty well at this. I let one guy go right when I climbed back on the bike. He sounded like he was coughing up his lungs when he went by, so I wasn't worried about him (and I was still recovering). The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. I was hammering down everything, and had real trouble applying pressure on the climbs. I figure my road race effected my legs for the MTB race a bit. I better work hard for next year.

I was just about at the end of the race, when I heard the second guy that passed me comming up.... and he flew by me. All I saw was his jersey... the guy was on the same team as the guys I was trying to follow at the beginning of the race. I think I need to find out how they are training.... I definitely need to learn something from them.

I ended up 55/64 expert male, 16/19 master II in 2:39:49. The 10 minutes or so I lost, wouldn't of made a huge difference, but it would have saved me the humiliation of that guy passing me. He finished 5 minutes in front of me. Turns out, he had 2 flats and a bike change (since it's not supported, he had to go get his other bike).

My goals for this race were not get lapped by the winners and not finish dead last. Next year, I'll add the sport road race, so I'm hoping to end up middle of the pack in both races, and no mechanicals. I think I've got to get some better training for that.

Raccoon Rally Road Race - 6/28/2003

Raccoon Rally Road Race
Saturday June 28, 2003:

We got in on Friday night, because of the 10:00AM start time. We inadvertently drove the first 10 miles of the course, because we forgot where the camping was, but it was nice to see what it looked like.

On Saturday morning, we rode some of the second hill as a warm-up. The only real problem I had was I wasn't sure of the race direction until 9:00ish. The hills weren't real bad, but long. I talked with one of our friends (the guy that sold me the road bike) and he was going to stay in the 53 for the whole race... of course he races expert class.

The beginner course was 2 climbs and 2 descents. So the group met at the start and there were about 125 riders or so. They pushed the beginner class to the back, and we started 10 minutes after the sport/expert race. It was pretty cool to watch the 100 or so pack take off in front of us. I looked around the 15 beginners and realized I had a chance to win this thing!

My strategy was to get on the front and mark any moves that went. I was expecting a break to go and paceline most of the course, then have people attack at the end.

I was pretty close to correct. We rolled off and the course immediately started a gradual climb. I fell into third wheel, and a couple of guys fell in behind me. I think there were 6 that just went off from the start. The pace line was working pretty well, and we got a pretty big gap on the others.

About half way up the climb one of the guys on a time trial bike started having mechanical trouble. His front derailluer was not cooperating, so he dropped off. I just stayed in the big ring and worked up the hill... I was probably taking a little long on my pulls though. About this time a girl bridged up to us. I heard her ask if we were working together and if she should take a pull. The guy behind me said to just sit on and recover and take her turn when it came up. Then the guy on the front picked up the pace and we dropped both of them.

Down to four, it wasn't long before the next guy dropped off. The guy I was behind was playing it pretty cool. When he'd get to the front, he could put a small gap on me and the other guy, and then just look back and see where we were. Then he'd drop back in and continue trading places with us.

We were probably 3/4 of the way up (it was 12 miles of climb) when the road pitched up a bit more. I was on the front and I noticed my chain rubbing the front derailluer. So I tried to feather it down... bad move! I shifted into the 39, swore, and then shifted up and jumped on it, to maintain my pace. It was just about then that I red-lined. I was able to sit on for a couple more turns before one of the guys (the weaker of the two) mad some comment about both of us trying to just sit on. I think all 3 of us were pretty cooked at that point, but I could not respond when they both gapped me.

I was still trying to recover when I crested the hill and made the turn on the back straight. I could still see them, so I thought I had a chance to catch back on. At this point the guy on the tri bike caught me (in his 39) and said we had a chance to catch them together. So we both worked it along the back. He somehow managed to shift to his big ring so at least we worked evenly.

At the bottom of the hill, we were about 50 yards behind the 2 leaders.It turns out that the race marshals weren't ready for them to come along, and the leader missed the turn. The guy in second, made the turn but waited for the first guy to catch up for help on the climb.

Now things got a bit foggy. I was again climbing in my 53, when the guy on the tri bike said he wasn't shifting. He didn't think he'd get into his big ring again and he wanted it for the final descent. So he siad "This is were you leave me" So I figured I was on my own to bridge up. I started pushing, then he just went around me... if I was really thinking, I would have jumped on his wheel... but I missed it. So I just time trialled the rest of the course. Trying to stay in front of everyone else, and maybe catch the guys in front of me if they came out of the group. The only thing I kept thinking was... one of the guys doesn't have a number, so isn't official. One of the guys has a sport number, so Idon't know if he's racing the right race. So I could be 2nd, 3rd or 4th.

I crossed the line in 1:14:11. Officially I was 3rd beginner out of 11 men. 2nd male master II out of 7. So next year I race sport and finish comfortably in the middle somewhere.

I did hang out for the expert/sport finish. The first hill broke thatgroup down to 15. The second time around the hill selected out 6. Thatgroup of 6 sprinted for the finish. It was a very cool finish.... the winner took it by 2 or three lengths. He looked around, zipped up, and raised his arms across the line. The guy I bought my bike from finished 5th in that group, 1st in his age group. Another guy on his team took the sport win about 2 minutes back. After that finish, I HAVE to go to Hamilton. I had goose bumps as they crossed the line.

Oh, for probably half of the second climb and all of the descent, I keep trying to feather my derailluer out. The outside edge kept rubbing on the chain! It was driving me crazy. After the race, we were riding back to camp, and I'm getting upset with my bike, when the cable snaps.... My derailluer cable broke AFTER the race was over. Who'd have thunk that was possible. I wonder if that cable cost me a place in the race... the bad feather on the first climb, and the annoyance on the second. I don'tknow....