Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chugging at Chanute

The summer heat has returned big time here in Kansas City.  Overall the summer has been very mild in temps with no real heat waves to speak of.   Some off-road racing organizations usually take a summer break to avoid the normal summer heat.  The Forward Motion Hare Scrambles series continued on Sunday and wouldn't you know it we are in a heat wave.   On Saturday the temp was 109 in Carolynn's car.   So much for that plan.
Despite the heat Christopher still wanted to go.  I was all set to head to the lake to do some kayaking.  Christopher does not really do well in the heat nor do I usually.  If I pace myself and ride really within myself I can usually escape the event without getting heat sickness.  I agreed to go but my plan was to really ride easy chugging along.  I have been training some in the heat and was ready.  Christopher took the opposite approach and instead of training headed to the Gun Show which had AC. 
We almost did not make it to the Taylor Family farm for the Chanute Hare Scrambles round. I thought the most direct route was to take US-69 Hwy South to KS-7 S.  This would take you to KS-39W.  What I did not know was that KS-39 was closed due to construction.  The detour nearly took us all the way to Oklahoma (at least it felt that far...).  With no map and limited coverage I had no idea where to go.  I do not like getting lost and at one point just resolved to head back home because I did not think we would make it on time.  After my little temper tantrum Carolynn said she was going to buy me a GPS for my birthday! Sometimes good things come out of troubled times.
We finally made it to the Taylor farm with enough time to unload and get signed up.  We barely had enough time to warm up the engines before we had to head to the starting line for the 11:00 am start.
I was still recovering from being lost and really not in the mood to race anyway.  The result was a very poor start which was o.k. with me.  I did not know the trail route much anyway and usually the first lap is kind of slow.  The problem was the darn dust.  When you were behind someone you could not see the trail.  You basically had to trust where they were going. This was a little unnerving but did allow me to ease into the event.

Once the first few miles went by the course cleared out some and I made some passes.  I was so thankful to be out in clean air chugging along.  I really like the course at Chanute and have had good success here in the past.  I started to really flow and having fun as I started to remember the course and find some good lines.   I did not even mind when I came around on the first lap in 5th place.  I was out riding my dirt bike having fun.  I had no worries at all which actually made me ride well.

Christopher lined up with a good size field in the Sportsman class.  He needed a good start for sure unless he was going to spend the next 2 hours breathing in dust from 20+ other riders.  This did not happen and he got a near dead last start. 

The course was a little tricky and slick in spots.  If you over road the course you could end up like Dennis and on the ground.

Jason had a solid day and handled the heat well.  He used the power of his 450 to his advantage and earned a 4th place finish and moved into 3rd place in the points.  Very good day for Jason for sure.

Christopher overcame a few crashes and the heat and ended up 10th place on the day.  Not what he wanted, but you reap what you sow. 

I put in a solid 4 laps and with each lap passed more riders.  Each lap was faster for me despite riding really easy and basically just chugging along.   Somehow by the final lap I had worked my way into the lead.  Funny how when you try the least you seem to do your best because you are really relaxed and have no tension in your body. I should do this more often :-)!

After the race I quickly took off my race gear and got into my swim trunks.  It was time for a nice ice bath for me.   I actually felt good despite the heat.  The humidity was a little low which helped.  Also, my current fitness is getting better and I think with heat it pays to be in good shape. 

Overall a nice weekend with MTB riding on Saturday and a very hot hare scrambles on Sunday.  I enjoyed the weekend but I am ready for a change in season.  Cyclocross is only a month away and I am hoping to have a fun season this fall racing in much cooler conditions. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Needmore XC Report

After last weekend's Wyco's Revenge I decided to take some time off.   I let stress and things outside of my control get the best of me.  I have a habit of doing that often and hopefully with letting go of some things I can get back to a more balanced fun life. 
Christopher and I headed to another round of the Midwest Off Road Events (MORE) this weekend.  A few weeks ago we raced at their NEBO Hill round and had fun.  The MORE series was really laid back and had different classes that we could compete in including Saturday and Sunday events.  They try to make it really family orientated and they have succeeded with classes for all including three different women's classes,  three different Pee Wee classes and even a 50+ division.
The Needmore XC race is held in Fair Play, MO.  A very small town east of Bolivar with a population of 475. The owner has a nice piece of property that has some nice sandy single track just like I like.  When I heard that the course was sandy I bought a ticket.  The one negative of sand is the dust if it does not rain which was the case on Saturday.  The local store brought out their water truck and was nice enough to water the start section which was very nice.  
I told Christopher before the event began that the start was very important if he wanted to do well.  The dust was going to be a huge factor.   He just installed a new Dunlop MX 51 and I passed along my lightning quick reflexes so he had no excuses. Me on the other hand had a worn out tire but I did have one advantage with a live engine start - another great idea by Steve Leivan. I really like the idea of live engine starts and wish all events would do this.  When the green flag flew I rolled on the throttle while releasing the clutch ever so gently and the result was no wheel slip and a sweet holeshot.

Poor Christopher must have gotten Carolynn's reaction genes as he ended up choking on a lot of dust after his start.  He did listen to me and took the outside when he did dump the clutch.   I told him if he got off the line poorly go to the outside because there would most likely be a crash on the inside. This indeed was the case so at least he did not start in dead last. 
The MORE series does things a little different than the Forward Motion series.  One of the things I really like is the finish line.  It is a little more open and you do not have to come to a complete stop while getting scored.  You slow down of course, but then you can get on your merry way without having to scrape your bars squeezing through a narrow set of posts and cones/  I have a bit claustrophobia so I dislike narrow spaces :-)
I got on the gas hard for the first lap and had clear sailing which was a big advantage.  I started catching the tail end of the Schoolboy  class on the first lap and it was very hard to see in the dust.  I was happy to clear them after about a half lap.
 Christopher put in a charge in the woods and rode hard.  He passed his way up to 6th place in the Sportsman Amateur class by the 3rd lap and even put in a 19 min lap on the final lap which was quicker than my 20 min  last lap!

The course was mostly sandy single track with a creek bed or two thrown in for good measure.  This course reminded me of some of the trails in Florida, especially the sandy whoops in the corners.   I had fun on the course and was able to cruise in for the win in the Sportsman Amateur 40+ class.  
Christopher paid for his effort after the race.  The 90 degree heat and his pace caused him to get sick after the race.  I guess he takes after me on that regard as I also have issues with heat.  

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Visit to Wilson Lake

After 11 years of Gerard telling me I need to go to Wilson Lake, the family finally took a trip there.  My God, what took me so long?  It is true what they say about this place - unlike anywhere else in Kansas.   At times I felt like I was in Colorado only without the high altitude.
Some great views in and around Wilson Lake.  The water was very refreshing especially when the temps got close to 100 degrees which they did regularly on this trip.
Carolynn's Dad let us borrow his travel trailer.   The A/C unit during those long hot afternoons was very much appreciated.  For $19.00 a day we got to run that A/C on High Cool - worth every penny of it.
Christopher and I got in several good rides.  Carolynn was not able to keep up due to the heat and opted to stick to the "Birdy Loop"

During a quick break Christopher decided to take a seat.  He felt some pain and quickly got up.
Turns out Kansas has Cactus with some nice thorns on them.  When I went to pull them out it was like pulling a tooth pick out of raw meat.  They left a couple of nice size holes in his butt. 
No mountains to climb out at Wilson, but there were plenty of smaller climbs.  After a lap of Wilson Lake you felt like you climbed a mountain.

The views and trails were awesome.  I was able to clear most of the technical sections.  The Rock Garden sections on the Golden Loop Trail were just crazy.  I walked those.  Christopher cleared every one of them to my amazement.  To be 18 years old again.....I enjoyed the Hell Creek and Marina loop the most.
Hygiene is important, especially when living in such close quarters such that a travel trailer affords. Carolynn demonstrates some outdoor hygiene action.
Christopher believed that hot afternoons were most enjoyed taking a nap.  He  took several on this trip and reaped the full benefits of that cool A/C.
Fishing is very popular at Wilson.  Christopher had a nice spot picked out to go fishing.  He has yet to catch a fish in Kansas.  In Florida and Missouri he catches fish all day long.  What is up with that?
There are about 22 miles of trails at Wilson.  Well worth the trip and offer plenty adventure.  We will be back for sure.
I was thankful that Bob let us use his travel trailer, but in the end we found out that living in a travel trailer for a week was not for us.  It was fun, but I think we will stick to just getting a hotel or one of those nice cabins.  Wislon Lake had several cabins that back right up to the trail system. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Masons Midsummer Meltdown Report

Our local mountain bike racing series continued on Sunday.  The event was the 2nd Annual Masons Midsummer Meltdown.  An annual fundraiser led by Cliff Jones to help raise money to build more fabulous trails out at Wyandotte County Lake Park.  With the help of all the Masons volunteers, another fine event was held out at shelter #3.   Heather Jordan was once again the Chief USAC Official.
Most of the fast local riders toed the line for the gravel road start.  Garet Steinmetz, Travis Donn, Tige Lamb, Doug Stone, Marc Thierry and Griffin Hamilton just to name a few.
A nice size single speed field on the day.  Last year I took home a 2nd place trophy.  This year that task would be more difficult due to the 20 extra pounds I put on with a strength training program that got out of hand.  I asked Cliff if he had a Women's SS class or at least one for long hair folk, but he said I did not qualify due to excessive hair on my legs!  After a quick check I agreed.
The MMM was Christopher's first mountain bike race of the year and his first Category 2 event.  Last year he won the Junior division. He quickly learned that success at Cat 2 requires a little more saddle time.  I  told him to just wait till he reaches that Cat 1 division.  Then he will find out what commitment means.
Sally Urdang continued her winning ways on the Meltdown.  This time she took a convincing win over Krista Pollman and Alyssa Hetrick.  It is good to see some women out enjoying racing their mountain bikes.
Our teammate Shane Martin stood once again on the top spot. He had a good battle in the Men's
19-29 class with Hogan Matson.  Shane attacked on the gravel hill climb to open enough of a gap to win in the fastest Cat 3 time of the day - 41:45.  I will have to talk to Shane about his upgrade path.  He is flying!
Tim Greene sat this event out and worked with the Midwest Mountain Bike Patrol to make sure everyone was safe on the day.  Tim crashed his road bike recently and was recovering from the injuries that he sustained.  I told Tim those road bikes are dangerous but he did not listen to me.
The MMM has Meltdown in it's name because of our usual high temps in July.  While it was still hot on Sunday and plenty of fluids were required the weather Gods shined on Wyco and we were blessed with mid 80's and the rain on Saturday night missed the trails.
Garet Steinmetz put the hammer down on Sunday and crushed the field on the climbs.  Garet has always been a great climber and that showed on the Oz climb where he set a KOM time.
Local off-road endurance legend Travis Donn showed he also has the speed as he won the Male 30-39 division and kept his Ethos teammate honest the entire day.

The winning ways continued for my good friend Tige Lamb.  His form is on and he took home a nice payday winning the Men's Cat 1 40-49 division.  Tige is heading off to PA for this months USA Cycling Championship.  I predict he will do well this year. 

Good ole Doug Stone once again proved that 26er technology is not dead.  Sure it required a little more effort but a 2nd place on the day proved it is the rider more than size of your tire.
How much torque is required to snap a crank arm?  Just ask local trail Mason and Cow Town member Shane Jones.  He snapped off his crank on one of those deceptively long climbs at Wyco.
Even though it was not that hot on Sunday I rode a tempo pace that I knew I could finish without having heat issues.  That pace was only good for 4th place on the day.  This might just have been my last Single Speed race.  I really missed gears on a couple of those climbs.  You need good fitness to stay on top of the gear and climb well on a single speed.   I just don't have it this year.

It was good to see Sean Burns on Sunday.  He rolled the course on one of his custom built rigs.  Hopefully I can ride with Sean later this month when I head out to his new home state of Colorado.
Scott Lillis crushed the Men's Cat 2 40-49 field and was the 2nd fastest overall Cat 2 time of the day in 1:25.  I see a Cat 1 upgrade in the not to distance future for Scott.  His speed on the bike is really improving quickly and his results have proven it.
My teammate Jeff Arnaud did very well placing 2nd in the Men's Cat 2 30-39 division.  Now if we can only get Jeff's helmet adjusted correctly...
Gerard put in his final training ride for the upcoming Breckenridge B-32.  Good luck Gerard and be sure to bring your oxygen mask.
Christopher finished the day in 4th place. A poor first lap and a half cost him.  We will have to work on his pre-race diet.  He has very good bike handling skills and now knows he needs to train to be able to compete in the upper division. The days of just showing up and winning are over.  The question is does he have that desire??  I told him is o.k. if he does not.  Just riding is fine.

Carolynn was out taking photos.  Check the rest of them out in the 2014 Masons Midsummer Meltdown Album