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

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Ride in the Park

After a  short break from riding our dirt bikes we ventured down to Drexel, MO for the annual Race in the Park Hare Scrambles.  For me this year it was just a Ride in the Park.  The event now in its 6th year and continues to grow. The city really gets behind this event and the riders support as well including the juniors.  Chuck Martin and his crew do a great job.

It was good to get back to the hare scramble events, talk with my old Senior class friends and get a good ride in.  I had no ambitions today other than to ride my bike. After a less than stellar start to the year I have decided to put racing off-road dirt bikes on hold.  Not feeling the mojo racing this year but I still enjoy riding.  With limited riding areas the only time to ride is at the events.
Nice safe start at this event - Thank you very much Chuck for that.  I rolled off the line and settled in outside the top 5. 
Christopher settled into a mid-pack start.  This was his first time riding his bike after a couple of months off where he spent some time down in Florida with my brother.
Jason and Karry Schupp made the trip to Drexel with us today.  He has been doing very well as of late despite having some hand problems - possible carpal tunnel. A hand full of throttle at the start got Jason towards the front of the pack.
I always like the shotgun starts.  There is just something about a girl in shorts with a shotgun.....
All kinds of country folk come out for the annual Race in the Park and to celebrate our Independence day.  These guys really rock their bib overalls.
The Drexel course had a crowd entertaining Endurocross section.  Following this section was the creek jump.  I will look for some pictures of that as Carolynn did not get any of that section.
Jason flew to a 5th place finish on the day.  A solid result on the day.  He seemed to enjoy the high speed sections of the course.  I think that 450 cc engine had something to do with it.

Christopher handled his first event back well.  He finished up 5 laps and handled the course with ease.
I enjoyed riding again today and most of my event was uneventful and fun.  A few times I had to stop and wait for fallen or stuck riders on the wet slick rocky sections or in one of the mud holes. Most of the course was fast and easy like the above picture but there were plenty of sections that were muddy.  The rocky creek sections almost always had a downed rider especially the little junior guys/gals. One  negative event during the race.  While I was waiting for this junior rider to get assistance on a rocky climb out of the creek bed, of which there was only one good safe line, this riders decides to take us all out and attempts to pass everyone waiting.  He hits us all and tagged me really hard.  This pissed me off and I aggressively prevented him from getting by. I finally let him by after the finish when it was safe. 
 I can be very aggressive when I want but I am not going to run over a junior rider just to better my place.  I attended today's event to just ride, but I do realize that some riders only care about winning and have no regard for safety.  Maybe I am getting too old for racing.  When you mainly think about arriving alive it my be time to hang it up.  I will have to rethink my plan of just riding in these races.  Is it fair to the other racers?  Maybe just do the practice laps to get in some riding and then just watch Christopher participate. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Picking Berries

The past month has been a very hard and busy one for my family.  My "Granny Faye" had been battling cancer for the past year or so.  On June 1st she lost that battle. 

 I have some fond memories of my Grandmother.  I can still remember spending my summers and a few winters up at our farm in North Florida with my brothers Joey & John and my cousin Tony.  I can not tell you how many times we drove down to the Helms Grocery Store on those clay dirt roads with our bare feet hanging off the tailgate eagerly waiting to reach the store so we can get a yoo-hoo or other tasty treat. Sometimes I can still see the stain of that red clay on the soles of my feet. Some memories were not very pleasant like the time we built that ramp at the end of the driveway and crashed badly because it so large and at a very steep angle that no sensible child would ever try to make that jump on a BMX bike that they had just hobbled together out of spare parts they found.  I can not remember which one of us crashed badly that day.  Of all the memories the most special to me were all the times I picked blueberries with her.  Those were the best blueberries ever.

Having someone pass is hard especially having to deal with all the funeral arrangements.  Luckily my Grandmother had everything prearranged.  My Brother Joey had the honor of leading the funeral procession. He spent the last year caring for her as she battled cancer.  The last month was especially hard. 

This past month I have reflected back on a lot periods of my life.  Most of them do not really mean much to me anymore.  One thing that did mean a lot to me was all the time I spent up at the Farm with my Granny Faye.  I miss her and the time we spent picking berries.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fun in the Rain

The past month  have been busy has been very busy for the Locke family.   Work and end of year school functions took most of our time. It was very nice to have my mother come and visit and be able to attend his graduation.   The good news is I am very happy to report that Christopher Dean Locke has officially graduated from High School.  The bad news is he has decided not to go off to college and instead stay home and attend college locally - Maple Woods Community College. And to think I had big plans for that bed room of his.......

I have been trying to get some training in for some early season events including the Kansas City Corporate Challenge .  One event I always like to support in the Spring into Summer Duathlon.

Jeff and Maria Mittelhauser have promoted a Spring and Fall duathlon for many years.  Held annual in Sedalia, Missouri both events attract a wide variety of participants - seasoned veterans and beginners alike are greeted with a nice friendly fun event.  Jeff recently reached a milestone in his athletic career by reaching 100,000 miles run.  I can imagine cycling 100,000 miles but not running.  No wonder I can never seem to beat Jeff in a duathlon on the run leg.  I respect the Mittelhauser for not only his commitment to running, but also for the fact that he runs his races rain or shine.  I have been to many events that are cancelled because of a little rain.  I remember they cancelled the 2005 National Triathlon Championships when it was held up in Smithville, MO.  Here is a good review by the RATS -  My stand has always been to run the race no matter the weather.  I can remember doing triathlons down in Florida in all kinds of weather including rain and flooded streets.  That was part of the attraction to racing events is you never know what you are going to get.  I do understand why we have to move/post pone off-road events around here due to the type of dirt we have and trail damage.

On the morning of the race I twisted my upper back putting on the bike rack and bikes.  I still do not know how I did it other than when almost dropping it while carrying it to the car. It did not hurt right away either.  It came on slowly and by the time we were heading out onto the highway, it hurt to even breathe deeply.   It felt like I had been in a bad bike crash even before started the race.  I almost turned around and headed back home but let Carolynn drive while I laid down in the back seat trying to rest and do some light stretching.
A rainy spring day greeted all the participants for the 2014 Sedalia Spring Into Summer Duathlon.  Last year Carolynn made this event her first ever duathlon and took home the win.  This year she did not put in any run training and decided to just go for a nice ride on the Katy Trail while I raced.  We arrived only about 20 minutes before the event was to begin but I was able to get an o.k. spot in the transition area.  Back felt a little better but still was causing me some issues.  I needed some more time to warmup and got my wish when the event was delayed some due to the rain.  I did some light stretching and soon Jeff arrived at the start line with the great news - We are Racing.

After a quick overview of the course and a reminder to be careful on the slick rain soaked roads we were off.  First up was the 2 mile run.  A fun simple run course with little elevation and a section of Katy Trail is used which is cool.  I have done some runs but was unable to keep pace with the leaders.  I settled into a third pack of runners (actually should call them joggers because that was the pace we seemed to be going).  One of the runners was this very young man who was competing in his first event with his Dad.  He put a lot of heart into his running but needed to learn pacing.  He would run really fast then slow down to a near crawl then before you knew it he was off sprinting again passing everyone who had just passed him.

Before we knew it we were back into the park and entering transition. I had the foresight to flip my cycling shoes upside down so they were no filled with water.  Something about sticking my feet in wet shoes always bothered me :-).  Transition was o.k.- first one of the year is always a little rusty.  The downhill road exiting the park was exciting.  Wet carbon rims do not offer the most surest stopping.  I think it had rained long enough to wash away and oil and overall there was good traction.  It also helped that I lowered my tire pressure to around 80 psi.   Within the first mile I had passed about 10 racers as they gingerly exited the park and headed out onto the course.  As far as I know there were no crashes as everyone rode within their limits.   The KCCC Time Trial is coming on on Thursday so I really wanted to put out a hard effort on the bike despite the rain.  I went into the Red quickly and tried not to focus on the pain but just floating along on the slick course.  Some of my fastest bike splits have been on wet course and today was no different.  I was the first to return to the transition and quickly set off on my second run. 

My back did not hurt much on the bike, but running sucked.  I kept up an honest pace and was able to finish up the run still in 1st place.  I was happy to be able to finish up with the win and had a great time racing in the rain despite my back.

Now it is time to try and heal up and get ready for the KCCC TT and the Triathlon in a couple of weeks.  I think I will be paying Betsy's Massage a visit this week for sure. 
If you were wondering were are all the action shots from the event are the answer is the official photographer was off playing in the mud.  Turns out the correct answer when your wife ask you should she ride on the road or Katy Trail the correct answer was stay on the road :-)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Big "Dust Bowl" Springs Report

The calendar read May 4th, 2014.  Earlier this year the plan for this weekend was to head over to Wilson Lake and participate in the Kansas Fat Tire Festival.  For 10 years I have said I was going to this event and something always comes up.  Well this year an event date change (rain last weekend) in the Hare Scrambles series caused me to miss the event.  In hind site I should have went to race my mountain bike as my mind and heart was just not focused on motorcycle racing. 

The past couple of times Christopher has ridden his bike it has been hard to start.  Of course he never told me this and I only find out on Thursday when I went to service the motorcycles and get them ready for this weekend.  The motor would only start up if you got it top dead center and really put a leg into it.  Above Jason offers advice and his little starting stand which helped.  I think the valves have gone south again.  We will take it to Doug later in the week to check everything out.  I am still not ready to tackle 4 stroke engine rebuilds. 

Nearly 200 riders were on hand today.  All the classes had full rows of riders ready to take on the dusty super speedway known has Big Springs.

Perry got all the classes going with a rifle.  I am more of a visual person and have quicker reaction times with sight.  I think my hearing is going bad because I was really slow off the line.

Old school front fender straddle was the starting requirement today.  How I wish we would just line up and start with a live engine.  I hear the MORE series does this.  Maybe it is time to head there way.  They also have a 50+ class that I can ride in two years :-)
I got on my bike rather quickly and got her started no problem.  I go to release the clutch and I go no where.  Dang it, I forgot to put her in gear.  Time to eat some dust I guess.  The first section of trail was so dusty that I could not see anything at all.  What really surprised me was that some of the guys behind me were actually trying to pass me. They either had special goggles that allowed them to see are were just plan stupid. This eating dust and not being able to see through it got to me early on and I started getting sick to my stomach.  I tend to get motion sickness especially when I can not see.

Poor Christopher could not get his bike started.  This was kind of expected.  He was DFL off the start and ate a ton of dust trying to work his way up through the field.  He kept going and worked his way up to 14th (out of 25).

Andy Lucas got the start in the 40+ Vet class and checked out the first lap.  Another fellow cyclist coming over to the dark side of hare scrambles racing.   Andy had a great day and finished up 2nd at his home course.  That KTM was a rocket ship out there.
I do not know what Jason thought of the starting procedure, but not having an E start might have something to do with a poor start.  He did well on the day and worked his way up to 6th place.

Dave Johnson moved up to the Vet Advanced class and properly kicked everyone's butt.  Heck, the top 7 guys in the Vet Advanced class all had times/percentages that qualify for the 300 class. Great ride by Dave and well deserved win. 
Not the greatest fan of the Endurocross section, but I am getting better.  Picking the correct line is the most important and keeping up your momentum. 

Follow the leader.  Not very many passing lanes out there.  It was follow the leader unless you got really aggressive and stuffed passed the rider again of you.  That is basically the name of the game.  You have to be very aggressive and make the pass.  That is the biggest problem I have with hare scrambles racing.  No really safe places to pass unless you basically try to take someone out.  I guess this is part of racing, but I do not want to hurt someone.  One reason I am seriously thinking of giving up hare scrambles and moving back to motocross  where line selection and passing is an art.

Ride too fast on the Endurocross section and you would on the ground.  The juniors had a hard day especially.

Jason is fast improving and looking good over the technical rocks.  Jason moved into 4th place in the points for Trail Rider.

The log section got riders all day long. I tried several techniques over this log turn.  I really could not find one that worked well.   I never went down and passed riders each time I navigated it, but I came very close especially on the last two laps when I was really sick and dizzy.

Christopher goes down again on the tricky log corner. This was the most active section for spectators.

At Big Springs  the majority of the course is like the Kansas Speed Way you are either WFO or you are getting passed.   Not so bad when you are out front or alone, but if you were behind riders it got really hard to see.  At times I could not see at all and just backed off completely.  I saw a couple of downed riders who did not back off and ended up hitting trees and going down hard.  To me it was just not worth it. On lap 3 I was just about to pull off after the scoring area.  I was sick and was not able to focus.  I had to talk myself into continuing which a person really should not have to do if their main goal is "just to ride and have fun racing with his son". 

Last year I was at the top of my division - Vet 45+.   This year I was moved up to a more advanced class, but really do not think I should have been.  I do not think I belong in the Vet Advanced 35+ division. I am 2 years away from 50 and those guys take a lot more chances than I care to take at this point in my life. Heck, I am getting passed by the top riders in the 600, 700 and 800 classes.  Basically I feel like I am in everyone way.  The trouble is what class do I enter? 

My short view on the state of sport in Hare Scrambles......Either I am getting really slow or there are a lot of riders who are in the wrong class and should really think about moving up.  I double checked the class speeds for Vet Advanced and I am actually in the prescribed speed percentage which have a max of 84%, but the top 7 guys are well outside at 87% or higher.  Same problem with my old class which is now Vet 40.  The Vet 40 is designed for riders at 74% or lower.  Heck the top 12 in the Vet 40 class where 75% or higher.  The top 3 riders were at 83%, 82% and 81% which puts them in the Vet Advanced class.  A quick look at Christopher class and it is the same thing.  The winner was at 87% and killed everyone.  This happens in all sports that have ability levels.  The one reason I like triathlons is that it has no ability level.  Just age.  I think I would be happier (and safer) racing with riders in my age-group.  Do I have an answer for this problem?  No.  Maybe it is not really an issue and rules are just "guidelines" that are never going to be straight and true.