Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Walters Ranch Revenge

We returned to Cole Camp, Missouri this weekend for round #4 of the Forward Motion Hare Scrambles Series.  This would make two races in a row here at the very demanding Walters Ranch circuit.  Not my favorite type of terrain, but Christopher for some reason likes the rocky stuff.  Looking forward to the day I can ride/race back in Florida on a good old fashion sand course like Croom where huge burms are made from that wonderful sand. If you could just see under my helmet below you would see a huge smile on my face which would be in direct contrast to what I had on Sunday.

No sand to be found today so after not getting a practice lap in last time we rode here I made sure we got up extra early so we could arrive in plenty of time.  They promised a different course which was supposed to be easier and a little shorter.   It was different with several new "virgin" sections.  Christopher thought I took a wrong turn during our practice lap because there was no trail.  "Trust me it will all change after the first lap"  Sure enough the new sections got burnt in quickly and it was like they were there all along.

We made a huge mistake today.  We forgot our hydration systems and had to ride without any water system.  I went ahead and made both of us carry a bottle of water behind our number plates.  Honda must of engineered this into their bikes because a water bottle fits perfectly.  Sure you have to stop to take a drink but it is better than thirsting to death on a hot summers day in the middle of Missouri.
Last race we started on top of a small hill and went downhill.  This time the opposite which was a little tricky.  Some even had to start in the tall grass. Christopher was part of that class that did have to start at the very bottom of the hill.  I kept thinking about ticks just waiting there in the grass ready to jump on everyone.
I kept sipping on my water bottle behind my water plate because I wanted to try and stay hydrated.  I think this and the fact that I was slowly rolling backwards on that darn starting hill caused me to get a bad start.  A few quick moves got me up to 5th by the time we headed into the woods.  Eventual winner Wade Hall (#1030), Tom Brunholtz (#1035) looking good at the start. 

Christopher appeared ready at the start with a good starting position.  I think he felt a tick on him and missed the gun going off to start him because he got a worse start than I.
I love the girl with her arm raised up and screaming.  She was pumped that her son got that holeshot.

Christopher rolled into the woods well behind the leaders and would have to practice his passing skills.
My main goal for today was to have a better ride than last weekends race where I rode very tense.  My other goal was to have clear vision.  Kind of failed at both again this weekend, but I was better.  Good enough to work my way into the lead by the end of the first lap.  This was made a little easier due to the fact that the leaders of the race went off-course at the top of this really rocky/technical section.  After the finish I had to stop for water and quickly fell back to 3rd place.

Looks like Christopher can pass now.  Well, at least on the technical trails of Walters Ranch he can.  On the first lap he rolled by in 2nd place only 3 minutes behind me.  He was attacking the trails just like I told him to.  I guess it is time I start learning from him because I sure the heck was not riding aggressive today.

By the second lap Christopher was on the gas and leading his first ever motorcycle race.  He was actually checking out and riding great.  Even with stopping to drink a complete bottle of water he still had enough time to stay in the lead. The kid was flowing today.
My friend and fellow mountain biker Steve Brack made a return to Hare Scrambles racing and was doing great.  While holding down 2nd place he crashed on a nasty downhill.  Check out his arms above.  Think off-road motorcycle racing is easy?  Just ask Steve how hard this sport can be.
The course and heat started taking its toll on me and by the 3rd lap I was really dehydrated and tired.  Not having any water to drink really sucked.  After a rather long pit stop with Carolynn to get water and have my glasses cleaned and have Steve soak me with water I felt better and ventured out for my 4th lap hopping that I could maintain my current position which was 2nd place.

Christopher with his youth was having no issues with the heat and by the 3rd lap had a nice lead of over 2 minutes on 2nd place. He started to have bike handling problems towards the end of the 3rd lap.  He wisely stopped and quickly double checked his bike to make sure everything was o.k.  It is good to see him use his head out there and be safe. After looking over his bike he found out a flat front tire was the problem.  The rocks of Walters Ranch will get their revenge on you one way or another.  Christopher rolled across the finish line in 1st and quickly went over to Carolynn and Steve (who had stopped after his crash).  Steve aired up his tire and sent Christopher on his way, but he only made it about a mile and then it was completely flat again.  He had to double back and return to the pits because there was no way he could ride the hilly rocky terrain with a flat tire - at least safely he could not.

Look at my big....Christopher show off his nice shiny 2nd place trophy.  Could (should) have first but as we all know mechanical failures are all part of racing. 

I finished up 2nd also but was really not a happy camper.   I rode better this visit to Walters Ranch but overall I still felt like I rode like a little girl in the rocks. Part of it was arm pump up and not having a good feel this weekend.  I guess I will have to work on bike setup in rocky terrain.  I plan to have Doug Stone work on my forks, replace my leaking fork seals and help achieve a suspension setup that would match my riding style - which currently is like a little girl.  If I keep this pace up Christopher will be kicking my butt which would actually be o.k. with me.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The KCCC Triathlon Report

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there!  

This weekend the Kansas City Corporate Challenge continued with the Triathlon/Duathlon events at Shawnee Mission Park.  A very popular event it would appear as the parking lot and transition was completely full. I like the venue for a triathlon.  The bike course is a little hilly that favors the stronger cyclist.  Run course is also on the hilly side the way they run it with a nice climb once you cross the dam.  If you are a strong runner this course will favor you. 
Today's race was a training race form me. In all honesty I shouldn't have raced.  The last week I have been nursing a groin injury that I sustained last weekend at the Camp Cole Hare Scrambles. If it was not for representing my company in the KCCC I would have taken the weekend off and rested. 
Not much time spent this year in the pool.  Today's swim would mark only the 4th time in the water.  With only a 500 meter swim how bad could it be?

They made us swim from the Marina parking lot/transition area over to the Swim Beach for the start.  After that short swim I can now say I swam 5 time this year.  Water temps were 76 so a wetsuit was not needed.  They were allowed none the less, but my Xterra suit I got last year is way too small for me.  Well, I guess it did not shrink so to be correct I am just to large for it.  I tried it on Friday night and I looked like a whale with fat pushing out of the sides of the suit. Not a pretty picture. 
For the swim they lined up everyone and two participants took off into the water at a time. I kind of liked that format as you did not have to worry about the mass start swim frenzy and all the kicking that is usually is involved.
With my groin strain I took it easy on the swim with my kicking.  This caused me to have very poor body position in the water.  I started to kick a little stronger after a few minutes, but I felt a good deal of pain in my groin and for some reason I got a cramp in my foot.  At least I was able to continue swimming continuously.  I saw a number of people resting on swim buoys and getting assistance from the life guards.  I came up on one gentleman that had started 5 min ahead of me that had a red swim cap.  He was swimming the breast stroke only on his back.  After that I figured I was doing o.k. albeit slow.

 Not a good swim time for me, but with only a handful of pool swims did I expect a better time than 10:44?  Well yes I did.  I should have easily been in the 9 min range even with no swim training.  Just goes to show you how much body position means in swimming.  My time was 74th overall out of 218 males. 

T1 time was 1:35 which included the long run up from the lake.  28th overall T1 time out of 218 males so not bad. My poor "baby feet" as Carolynn calls them were killing me by the time I was done.  I need to toughen those boys up for sure.  I was sad to see the carpet end as we exited the water. 

As I mentioned above the bike course is a little hilly with one long climb after you crossed the dam.  Not a hard climb but if you are not ready for it you will be surprised that you are hurting bad at the top.  Once you got on top of the course is was almost down hill back to the transition area with only three short punchy climbs to tackle. I had two laps of this course.  The biggest challenge was navigating the hundreds of cyclist on the course. All types were out today including a hand cyclist.  It was nice to see so many people participate in one of my favorite sports.   I never passed so many riders in my life. The majority of them really needed to raise their saddle height.  I felt sorry for all of them as they seemed to be suffering on the climbs.  Considering I only put out a mildly hard effort on the bike I was happy with my time of 23 min.  This was good enough for a 22.8 MPH average and 10th fastest bike split of the day.

T2 transition was good also.  45 seconds for this one.  I felt good coming off the bike, but once I started to run my groin pain started back hard.  I had a few good sections of the run where I was able to pick up the pace but overall it was basically a fast jogging pace. Still I was able to pass a lot of runners which is unusual for me. 

The final mile of the race sucked.  I started getting passed and my groin was starting to really hurt.  I almost started to walk it in, but with all the people lining the course I just couldn't :-)  I finished up with a run time of 26 minutes for the 3.2 mile course.  Like I said it was just a jogging pace for many, but it was what I had in me today.   I need to take a few weeks off and heal up my groin before I continue on with any more running.

In checking the results it looks like I placed in the points paying positions for my company and earned a bronze medal in the Male 45- 49 division.  We will have to see the final results for confirmation.  Not a bad day for a training race.  I may have to sign up for the Shawnee Mission Triathlon to redeem myself on the swim and run courses. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Walters Ranch Hare Scrambles Race Report

The wet Spring weather continued here in Kansas City over the weekend and as I expected the Warrensburg rounds of the Forward Motion series were canceled due to the soggy conditions.  Well, I should say flooded conditions.  If you can not get the racers to the venue and have a place for them to park then you can not have a race. Luckily Dan from Forward Motion moved the event to Walters Ranch.

Walters Ranch is a very challenging course in the dry.  Add in an over night rain that did not stop falling until late race morning and you have a very challenging course.  The dirt and terrain and Lincoln, Missouri is very hilly and rocky. This is just the type of course that can handle the rain we got and still be able to hold an event.  "The property will separate the skilled from the fast!"  This quote is from the event description page.  I could not agree more. 

How was the course from the riders view?  Trust me, it was a lot harder than the video shows.

Brian Trigg who raced the Trail Rider class with Christopher recorded his first lap.  Brain did well and finished right ahead of Christopher.  He passes Christopher at the 1:47 point in this clip  - FMHSC Walters Ranch #1 Video

FMHSC 2013 Walter's Ranch 1 from Brian Trigg on Vimeo.

Race morning we arrive to the site only to find a very wet parking lot.  I have a front wheel drive SUV and was very concerned about being able to park.  Luckily with the help of our fellow racers we were able to park in the one space left that was on high ground.  Still we had to push the trailer because all my Chevy would do is spin the tires. 

Not enough time to recon the course this morning (damn I do need to get a pickup truck with 4x4) After we got settled in we headed to the race meeting and the awards ceremony for the Junior classes which were run earlier in the morning.  It was nice seeing these kids race and for the few that earned an award the look on their faces was priceless.
Despite the wet conditions a great turnout for round #3.  The exact opposite occurs with mountain bike races.  Funny how that works.  I think if it was possible to have more rain course built into events and did not cancel them it would help with building back up MTB races or better yet do like Dan did this weekend and just move the event to a new location that is able to run in these conditions. 

 Starts have been getting better for the Locke family.  I nabbed another holeshot and Christopher got in a great start from the outside to rocket into 2nd place heading into the single track.

Video of start

It sucked not being able to pre-ride the course, especially with the muddy/slick conditions.  I got the holeshot but was riding a little slow until I got used to the course and conditions.  Or else you end up like the rider below. 

While still leading the first lap I started to settle in and get more confidence.  Duane Rambo and Wade Hall were right on my tail applying pressure so I decided to up the pace some. Things were going well until I clicked her up to 4th gear on this one straight section.  Traction appeared good and I was flowing well until I hit a slick rock/root that kicked my bike sideways and I started to slide in full superman position on the bike.  Not really what you want in conditions like we had on Sunday nor when there is a huge tree that you are now heading toward.  I somehow pulled myself back up and narrowly avoided hitting the tree by grabbing a handful of throttle.  This shot me off the trail but allowed me to miss the tree.  I can tell you now I would not be here if I would have it that tree at the speed.  I had enough of a gap on Duane and Wade to reenter the course in 1st, but I could not keep that pace any longer.  I started to make all kinds of mistakes, slow down and got some real serious arm pump up. I said good-bye to those guys and took the remaining two laps trying prevent my goggles/glasses from fogging up. 
 The "mile long ruts" did not help things.  Try to ride outside the rut and you ended up sliding all over the place - it was that slick.  The sections deep in the woods were awful and I dreaded every time I would get into one of these long ruts. The straight ruts were not that hard but the turns and ruts in the woods gave everyone hell.  There was one part of the course that was really bad and had a nasty rut.  I came up on about 7 riders in various stages of crashing or recovering from crashes.  I thought it was strange until I went to cut under the two riders who had fallen over in the rutty turn.  I got up out of the rut (no easy task mind you with the super slick mud) and proceeded to pass everyone and I just started to do a 180 completely out of control.  It took me a few minutes to get going again and regain momentum (and vision).
Christopher got a nice start like I mentioned above and was riding great until the slick rocks/roots got the best of him.  This course was very hard and it was his first experience riding terrain this tough.  He did a great job and handled himself well and was able to finish strong.
I had a hell of a first lap and a worse second lap.  Vision was one of my main problems.  I used a new "No Fog Cloth" that was for a lack of a better word "Sucked ASS".  I soon broke one of my cardinal rules which is to take off my goggles.  I do my prescription eyeglasses which without I have no depth perception and barely see to ride the trails with any speed.  I rode the second lap without them after getting a new pair of goggles.  Line selection is very hard when you can not see and I did not make good choices.  Once I got free glasses/goggles on my third lap I was able to ride a lot better.  Actually passed 17 riders for position (not counting lappers).
In the end it was a good day.  We survived the challenging Walters Ranch trails and Christopher even earned his first trophy on a motorcycle earning 6th place on the day.  The best I could do on the day was a 3rd place but still maintained the points lead in the series.  
In two weeks we head back to Lincoln, Missouri for Walters Ranch #2.  Hopefully the trails will be a little dryer. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Locke Wins First Multi-Sport Race

I wish the above title would have been written about me when I raced in my first multi-sport event back in 1988.  But in my first event I about died in the swim and I had to walk parts of the run due to fatigue.  Ended up coming in somewhere outside the top 500.  It would take a couple of years of training and many miles logged to earn my first Gold medal in a multi-sport event.  Not the case with my better half.....

 Last month when I got in entry form in for this years Sedalia Spring Into Summer Duathon, I jokenly asked Carolynn if she wanted to race in her first multi-sport event.  I had asked that same question many times over the last 20 years.  I expected the same answer as I always received which was "I do not want to embarrass  myself and get last place - I am not an athlete".  But to my surprise the answer I received was sure, sign me up for the Short Course.  Only three short weeks to train for the running legs of the event.  She already had the bike leg covered.  Carolynn followed my 3 week training plan and on race morning we slapped a race number on her road bike for the first time.

If you are looking for an event to begin your multi-sport career then the Sedalia Duathlons are for you.  Jeff and Maria Mittelhauser have hosted Spring and Fall versions of there popular duathlons for years.  Held in the small town of Sedalia Missouri (home of the State Fair) they offer both Long and Short course events. 
Both events begin with a 2 mile run with part of the course on the good ole Katy Trail.  By the time we got our race numbers and got ready the race was about to start.  Note to self, when your wife says we need to wake up earlier than 5:00 am to make a 8:00 am race start in a city 2 hours away you might want to listen to her.... For me the Sedalia Duathlon was just a training race and I treated it as such.  I have been working on pacing and my endurance.  There are a couple of key Triathlons coming up this Summer that I really want to do well at.  One of me big weaknesses is the run as I normally go out very hard on the bike and kill my legs.  Today's event was about pacing and "keeping something in the tank" for the second run leg.  Due to no warmup the first mile was slow in about 8 minutes.  The second mile was better in 7 minutes.  Both very slow times and the lead runners were way in the distance putting down time in the 6 minute range....for Carolynn she only wanted to get through the run and not let this young 12 year old girl beat her.  Well, the little girl did beat her on the run but Carolynn kicked her but on the bike leg.
Transitions in duathlons/triathlons can make or break a race.  I learned that the hard way and with years of experience have mine down to about 30 seconds when done correctly.  Carolynn practiced transitions twice I believe and only once with her new speed laces that I installed for her.  With this limited experience Carolynn's first transition was a little slow in 1:51.  Yes we have a little room for improvement. 

Once on the bike both of us shined.  Carolynn stormed the course using the finally tuned "Aero" setup that I setup for her.  During our practice duathlon two weeks ago I was actually impressed with how she handled the setup.  Some new to TT bars have a hard time adjusting but Carolynn caught on quickly.  The short course is a 5 mile bike leg and Carolynn posted the fastest women's split in the short course in 20 minutes.  For me I wanted redemption for my pathetic bike effort 2 years ago.  I am happy to say I got it.  Even with keeping the pace well within myself I posted a 31 minute time for the 12 mile bike. Two years ago I rolled a 34 minute bike split so I as happy.   I do not think my time was very bad for the rolling hills that make up the course and was the 2nd fastest bike split of the day. I rolled into transition with legs feeling good. 

After another quick transition for myself I left on the second run leading my division.  One of my goals if I had a very good race was to take home the Masters 40+ trophy.  My main goal was to have a strong second run leg.  Normally I am passed on the run legs in events and things started off as usual with two guys getting by in the first 1/4 mile.  One was the eventual winner of my age-group.  I remember catching him on the bike leg and thinking I needed a few minutes on him to stay ahead because he was a fast runner.  The good news on the day was that I was able to run a second run split only 21 seconds off my first.  Finished up with a time of 1:02 good enough for 2nd in the Male 40-49 division.
Carolynn finished up her multi-sport debut with a good second run and was happy to finish strong.  She was really happy when they were giving out awards and announced the winner of the Female 50+ class.  First race and already has a win under her belt.  I have to say I am a bit jealous. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

KCCC Bike Race

It has been 12 years since I last participated in the Kansas City Corporate Challenge.  I was working for Bank Midwest has an Telecom Technician - a new career for me at the time. The bike race back then was held at Arrow Head stadium.  I think the race back then was something like 2.2 miles. It was very short as is this years.

For the past 12 years I have been a member of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. During that time I kept requesting that we join the KCCC and repeatably got turned down. This year things changed and it was decided that we would join in the fun of the games.  I signed up for the Bike Race and the Triathlon.  I wanted to do a few other events like Soft Ball but with my wrist still healing up I decided to stick to individual sports that I am accustomed to.

Thursday was the Bike Race.  We got to race at the Kansas Speed Way.  The KCCC Bike race is the largest bike race in our area with 1065 participants.  As you can see by the picture above (Thank you Pete for the photo)  I am not a perty sight on the bike but I was slightly effective posting a 6:45 time for the 3 mile effort.  With that short of an effort I did not want to blow up so I took it conservative the fist lap and then whet full gas on the second.  I left about 15 to 20 seconds out there due to my pacing plan.  I felt good at the finish and knew I had went out too slow on that first lap.  Still good enough for 1st place Division D points. I finished 6th out of 67 overall in the 45 - 49 division.  Could have most likely finished on the podium if I would have went full gas from the start but that is the race plan I followed and sometimes race plans do not pan out as expected.