Saturday, March 28, 2009

2009 Black Locust Race Report

My first big objective of the year was today - The Black Locust Duathlon down in Springfield, Missouri. Before the event everything looked to be going my way for a good finish. The weather forecast called for rain, snow, ice and temps in the 30's. The course was very muddy, flooded in spots and was littered with slimy wet roots and rocks. Just my type of course :-) To top it all off my legs felt great with Betsy from Back and Body Works doing her magic earlier in the week.

Carolynn and I left KC a little after 5:00 am heading down to Springfield. We got up extra early because of the forecasted 6 inches of snow. Needless to say, it was dry as a bone when we left KC and we arrived at the SAC River trail head about 2 1/2 hours early. Conditions were looking bleak as the trail head parking was flooded and freezing rain was coming down. The event promoters weren't there yet which kind of worried me and got me off my race game plan. For awhile I actually thought the event was going to be cancelled, which would have really disappointed me.

I decided to go ahead and get ready early and put in an hour warm-up. A lot of times I feel flat the first 30 to 45 minutes of a race because I don't warm up well. I always think I should "save it for the race". But my current form is good and I have a lot of base miles in my legs. I reconed the running loop and followed some of the trail and got adjusted to the wet slimey conditions. I pushed it in a few sections and was very happy that along with my good legs I had some good balance and was relaxed on my chosen ride for the day - Mary SS Rigid.

By race time I was ready to go. John gave his pre-race instructions and we were off for the first challenge. 4 miles of soggy trails, roots, creek (well actually mini rivers due to the flooding) crossing and plenty of rocky climbs and slick downhills. I got off to a great start, but was quickly passed by about 20 or so skinny runners once we got off the soft gravel road and on a short 1/2 mile flat section. Then it was all good stuff after that. Good for me at least. I can usually just barely keep up with the fast runners when things get technical, but today luck was on my side. The trails were really soggy and it was raining really hard. The going was very hard and you needed a lot of strength and power not speed. At about the 2 mile mark of the run I caught up with a pack of 5 guys who had distanced themselves from me on the short road section. I quickly got by them and picked my next target. I picked off another 11 runners during the next mile which included a rather nasty creek crossing. The water was very cold and nearly waist deep. I opted to take this log crossing at this point which some were avoiding due to it being very slick. The final mile was smooth sailing for me and I came off the run in the top 5 only about 2 minutes off the lead. A lot better than last years 6 min deficit.

After a quick transition, I set off after the leader. Carolynn yelled that he was two minutes up and I put in a hard charge the first mile. I passed the first couple of guys I caught after only about 1/2 mile. I set off after the leader and put in a hell of an effort. The trails were very slick and muddy. Most were filled completely with water. And this water was spraying in my eyes and I could barely see, but I really wanted to catch the leader. The creek crossings were ragging and all the basins were flooded. Parts of the trail that were usually just dry rock were now fast flowing water.

I rode my heart out for about 7 miles, then started to get really depressed and tired. I was flying and attacking the technical sections. I cleared sections and actually impressed myself due to the trail conditions. Still the leaders were not in site. To top it all off, I kept getting thorns in my tires. Luckily I run tubeless and they all sealed up. Beside a face full of white stuff I was happy I had plenty of STANS. But still frustrated that someone was riding faster than I in these conditions. None the less, I kept the pace high and tried to relax and stay confident. As I got closer to the transition area, I ran into Carolynn at one of the many creek crossing. She cheered me on and said I had a huge lead. WTF! Here I am, putting myself in a world of hurt chasing a ghost rider. All along I was in the lead :-)

Ended up winning the overall title. I am glad to put 1st Place Overall Male - Black Locust Off-Road Duathlon on my palmar├Ęs.

Hats off to John, Jason, the Ozark MultiSport Club and all the volunteers. They put on a great event under very tough conditions. His sponsors provided a lot of great prizes and I think everyone came home with something.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ready for the Black Locust & OC

I have been training hard the entire winter for the next two weekends. Hopefully all those "colder than a well digger's ass rides" will pay off.

Up first is the Black Locust Duathlon. I'm excited to have the opportunity to race without promoting. This is such a luxury. It seems like a simple thing, but for the past 8 years I have been involved in the majority of the off-road duathlons in this area. I believe they are awesome events and are so much fun to race. It's unfortunate that there aren't that many here in the Midwest.

This past weekend I put in about 11 hours of training in 3 days. I am actually feeling very good endurance wise. I sort of wish I had some higher intensity days in my legs and more running miles, but the form is good and I am confident about Saturday. I really like the run course at this event. There are plenty of creek crossing and technical terrain. Anything to keep those light weight guys with weak ankles in check. The weather is looking good for me also. High on Saturday is 44 with a 70% chance of rain on Thursday and Friday. Who doesn't just love a good muddy race at the SAC River Trails :-)

After this weekend I have also deemed myself ready for the Ouachita Challenge. It will certainly be a challenge for me as I will be on a rigid single speed beast called Mary. After 4 hours of riding her at Landahl this past Saturday, I questioned my decision to enter the SS division. But somehow riding with a single speed takes all the pressure off and I can just ride and see how many "geared full-suspension" riders I can pass.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Born to Drive

My mother sent this to me. It is the ultrasound of my brother Joey. For those of you who have ever driven with him you know it is authentic.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Possum Trot

After about 15 years of "yea I would like to try one of those one day" I finally participated in an orienteering meet. I tried to get the family to come out with me and enjoy a nice day in the woods, but no one was interested, so I headed up to Watkins Mills State Park by myself to participate in the Possum Trot Orienteering Cubs March meet.

What the heck is orienteering you ask? Orienteering is the skill of navigating through an unfamiliar area using a detailed map and perhaps a magnetic compass. It can be either an enjoyable recreational activity for all ages or a competitive sport involving endurance and ingenuity. I have participated in dozens of adventure races that had some orienteering involved, but I usually relied on teammates to do the navigating. Those maps with wavy lines are alien to me. That is probably the reason it took me so long to do an event myself.

So after reading the Beginners Guide to Orienteering and and visiting a few links online I thought I was ready for the challenge. I arrived at the Watkins Mills park just as registration opened. The beginners clinic was not until 10:30am so I had a 1/2 to get ready. Just as I was heading back to the truck a nice older man said he could go ahead go over everything including now if I wanted to. Cool, private lessons. Well, 30 min later I still did not know how to read the map and I was more confused that ever. For what ever reason I just never did get how to use an orienteering compass or map.

My basic understanding was I needed to find the controls (see picture on the left) and punch my score card. Seemed easy enough until you get out in the middle of the woods and everything looks the same...

My start time was 11:15am. The White course was 3K long and included open woods, fire roads, stumps, ditches, steep climbs, mud, fallen trees, fences, water and more mud. I got to the first two controls fairly easy. The map said to follow this old trail straight up the hill to control 3. Lesson #1: one persons easy trail is another persons muddy washed out drainage ditch. About 300 yards up this old drainage ditch littered with fallen trees and leaves I was totally lost. Everything looked the same and I then realized that this was going to be harder that it looked. I quickly tried to use my compass, but was getting really frustrated and wishing Good Ben was here to guide me through this first event. For a few minutes I felt like I was back in North Carolina with my brother Joey. About 10 years ago we spend 5 days in the North Carolina mountains. On one day while out riding, we got really lost and disorientated. We had these visions of the rescuers finding us after a month of being lost....

I eventually found control 3, 4 and 5. After that things started to come a little easier. I started to relax and tried not over over analyze the map. Once on top of the hill I used the ridge to help guide me through the rest of the course. The last mile was all an all out spring has I found all the controls with ease. I just used things like the lake as a reference point and was home free.

I had a really good time at this first event. I will put a few more meets on the calendar this fall for sure and work my way up to the Red courses. We will see how my 19:13 time stands up on the white (sissy) course When I left I was in 1st place :-)

Update: A total of 70 participants were on hand. Official podium results from Saturday....I might have to "Cat UP" to the Yellow course :-)

White - 11 control, 3 Km

1. Chris Locke 19:13
2. John Barrett 32:09
3. Lil' Retts 51:38

Friday, March 13, 2009

Back To Training

With Bone Bender 3/6 being pushed to the April 18th weekend, I can now focus on my next two big events - The Black Locust and the Ouachita Challenge. I plan on a couple of solid weeks of training. It actually feels good to have a weekend with nothing to do but ride, run and swim. Sunday Carolynn and I have a nice easy training ride planned. If you are interested in an nice ride out to Platte City meet us at the QT on Barry Road and Platte Purchase. Ride departs at 12:00 Noon.

I finally recovered from all the hard work and effort of the Devil's Revenge and have put in a couple good running workouts. I feel good about the March 28th event. Heck, I am ready now. On the other hand, I am not really ready for OC, but will go and hope I have some good legs. Last year I had an off day and did not feel good from the get go. I think I was way over trained last year and did not allow my body to rest enough. This year I am riding my Mary SS and plan to just have fun the entire 60 miles. Just me, some sweet trails and one gear..

If anyone is trying to get to the Fat Tire Duathlon site, it is down. We currently lost the entire site and are trying to restore from backups. Lets hope we get her back up soon. In the mean time I created a quick blog and Neale redirected the main site to

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bone Bender ????

Things are not looking good for the Bone Bender this weekend. Check out this thunderstorm passing over the trails. Combine this with last weekends 5 inches of snow, Saturday's 2 inches of rain and it looks like mother nature has decided we need to move the Bone Bender to April 18th, 2009.

Some things are just meant to be I guess. April is a fine month for a 3/6 event and Damian and I need an extra month to train if we are going to take home that Duo title.....

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Devil Beat Me.

I must be getting old. In the past I was able to promote and race my own events. My body this morning feels like I did an Ironman triathlon. Every muscle is achy and my joints are sore. I have blisters on my feet and hands. All this from a little off-road duathlon called The Devil's Revenge. I guess with loading/unloading all the supplies and equipment, setting up the transition area, marking and clearing the course, organizing the event and then actually racing then my body said ENOUGH.

Race morning did not come soon enough. I camped out at Clinton with Toby Long. It was a nice night for camping, but with all the howling wind and noise I did not get a minute of sleep. I kept hearing this high pitched sound and finally figured out it was the tape that was making it. Every time the wind picked up it would start sounding like a siren. Finally after a couple hours I got up and tore down 1/2 the course just to make the noise stop. The only good thing about the evening was I was kept warm by my electric blanket and heater. That extra $3.00 for a electric hookup was worth it.

After 4 more hours of course work and setup it was time for the race to start. My legs were already dead before the event even started. In the back of my mind I was thinking not to race as the 10:00am start time approached, but the competitive spirit in me made me put my running shoes on and toe the line anyway. It was a very slow run start for me I was way outside the top 50, maybe event top 75, as we hit the first part of the 3.75 mile run. I started to slowly pick off other runners on the technical parts of the run. I can only run so fast and I basically keep the same pace no matter how rocky/rooty it is. It was a fun run course. Even though my legs were very tired and I was towards the back of the pack I did have fun. I was even happier as we approached the end of the run. Time for the bike.

The first two miles of the bike I must have passed 20 riders. At that point I started to labor a little and the effects of the weekend really caught up with me. The rest of the 1st lap of the bike course I slowly passed other riders including my teammate Gerard who was on a relay team. He rode well and kept me in site until the steep rocky climb out of the single track. Once on the double track road leading to the "Green Monster Mile" climb I started to feel a little better and opened her up some. By the time I came around to complete the first lap, I was in full race mode and started to close the gap on a lot of riders suffering all the while. I worked my way up to 2nd in the 40 - 49 age-group, but ran out of time to chase down the lead. My 1:34 finish time got me 5th overall. At the finish I was very happy to be done. Only I was not done. Still several more hours of hard work. By the time we got everything loaded up I was completely exhausted. I almost fell asleep while driving on the way home. The Devil Revenge had gotten the best of me for sure.

Overall I think the event went well. Especially considering the limited time I can devote to the event. At times we (we as in I) were a bit unorganized. I even forgot to pack my pre-race announcement and had to wing it. If it were not for good friends like Gerard Arantowicz, Tige Lamb, Mark Studnicki, Heather Jordan, Rich Anderson and the Cow Town Cycling Team, the Devil's Revenge would not have taken place.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Devil's Revenge Is ON

Mike Goodwin has just got back from a quick recon of the entire course for Saturday's event. See below.....

Great news. As of now, the course at Clinton Lake State Park is 95% dry. By race morning we should be in great shape for the Devil's Revenge Duathlon and MtB races.

Can you pass this along to everyone on your respective teams.

I hope to see you Saturday morning for some FAT TIRE FUN!

Complete details at

Sunday, March 1, 2009

BB36 Pre-ride Not So Good...

Well, the planned Bone Bender 3/6 Hour MTB Odyssey pre-ride did no go as planned....but it did go. Smithville got about 6 inches of snow on Saturday. A few "tough guys" did make it out to give it a try, but as you can see by the pictures below the going was tough.

I got to Smoken Davey early to check out the trails. After a quick pre-ride that quickly turned into a hike-a-bike on every uphill I decided to make a few calls to let everyone know that it was going to be a long day. Brent was also early, but only got to ride about 1/2 mile before he got a flat because he could not keep it on the trail and ended up off the trail and into the thorn bushes.

I finished off the Speedway section and came back to the trail head at 8:00 am to see if anyone had arrived. Once hardy sole who was visiting from Nebraska was there, but opted out after my honest appraisal of the trails - sucky snow. I ended up riding most of the day by myself. I tried to map the course, but after encountering 2 foot snow drifts I hit the paved trails which were in much better condition. On my way back from Sailboat cove, I ran into my new teammate Sean and his friend. I gave them a quick tour of the race site then we headed back to the vehicles to call it a day. I decided to get in some extra training and did a quick 2 mile run. Let me tell you this, it is much easier to run in snow than to bike....