Monday, May 27, 2013

Design Physics Dons Road Wheels and Takes Wintergreen!

Four teammates from Design Physics did the Wintergreen Hill Climb State Championships May 4th; myself (racing for River City Women’s Racing for road), Tom Richeson (racing for Virginia Beach Velo for road), Frank Yeager, and Joe Fish.  All four placed in the state!!

I don’t know why they call it the Hill Climb State Championships, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind who has ridden it that climbing Wintergreen is climbing a mountain.  It’s rated a cat 1 climb, 6.7 miles, with parts of the climb a 14% leg-burning gradient (some argue more).

Tom Richeson:  2nd 45-54, 38:36.884; Silver medal
Frank Yeager:  2nd cat 4, 38:42.216; Silver medal
Joe Fish:  1st cat 5, 38:09.685; (technically they don’t give out medals for men’s cat 5, however he is still a champion!)
Sonya Richeson:  2nd cat 3, 54:18.146; Silver medal

Our team manager Jason was also there, supporting his daughter Mason Hopkins who was racing for Tradewinds Racing, she also got a medal; gold, 1st junior age 10-14.

 (Notice that Joe is smiling, I think that means he didn't work hard enough.)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013 Cohutta 100 - addendum to Jeff's post

I'll skip a full-on blog post, but will add a few notable items to Jeff's summary:
  • Lack of smiles in Jeff's photos make more sense in light of the following quote uttered about the time those photos were taken: "I want to ride fast so this will be over as soon as possible."  I don't remember which of us said that, but I'm pretty sure we were both on exactly the same page.
  • Until about mile 35, I was thinking, "I feel great and everything is going awesome!  I may make a sweet time on this!"  At about that time, I noticed my fork was flat and my thinking turned into, "I wonder if it's safe to finish on this fork."  I ended up riding through with an extra degree of caution on a rigid (and short) fork.  You might think this would bother me - but only a few guys go to these races with realistic aspirations of crazy fast times.  The healthy outlook for everyone else is, "I'll get through this the best/fastest I can given whatever crazy crap that luck (will) throw at me."  Finishing is a demonstration of character in which you happen to be riding a bicycle.  And so I am settled with how this worked out.
  • There were exactly 180 pre-registered for open men, and exactly 90 finish times recorded for this field.  No idea how the other 90 break out between DNS and DNF.   I finished 28th in 10:14.
  • I thought it was great to get a sweet pre-ride the day before where Jeff and I saw the best single track on the course in fantastic sunny weather.  The views were very different on race day, but as Jeff mentioned, beautiful nonetheless.
  • One of the things I love about riding a lot is eating huge amounts of great food.  The places we ate in Asheville, NC and in Blue Ridge, GA definitely did not disappoint!
  • When I got home, I got unpacked and cleaned up everything except the rock I took off my roof.  I am pretty sure there is a fossilized bike inside.  I am not looking forward to chipping it out and assessing damage!
  • I can't wait for Mohican in June!

2013 Cohutta 100

Frank and I ate breakfast and downed coffee as we looked out the window at pouring rain about 5:30am on race day. I sure was glad to be in a hotel and not camping.

There was an impressive display of innovation as Frank birthed himself through the bottom of a trash bag that would serve as his rain vest under his jersey. I noticed his keen use of the drawstrings as a waist belt for the improvised rain vest.

The rain poured steadily as we loaded the bikes up and seemed to wash away any hope that the day would be better than forecasted.

We got geared up and ready to roll with all the other racers that decided to toe the line despite the grim conditions. Sure, it was 50 and light rain, but up on those mountain gravel roads, the temps would be closer to 40 with rain and wind chill. We checked our preparaions twice. Rain vest, extra gloves, shoe covers (essential), bottles, food to last till aid 1 or 2, ….etc.

A quick warm up through the parking lot and I saw a few of the faces I usually see. I said hey to Kevin Carter and then ran into Garth Prosser. I did not see the other 10 to 15 folks I usually see. Lots of folks not here, or lost to me in the pre-race buzz.

Soon we were off to a surprisingly civil start. It was about to become a long 10 hour plus race in on/off rain. I stayed close to the front of the group that split off from the pro peleton up the 1st major road climb. We entered the single track and kept a good pace through the rain soaked trails.

Frank had taken off with the main group and I chased with the second group. I managed to catch Frank in the last few sections of the single track in the beginning of the race and we rode together on for a while. It’s always nice to be rolling through a hundred with a team mate.

From there on we assaulted a seemingly unending series of gravel climbs that took us to the lollipop section of the out and back course. The mountain scenery was quite nice at elevation. Many great views of the north Georgia mountains painted in green mixed with neon green highlights from new spring leaves nestled in cotton balls of fog and cloud.

Frank was out ahead of me as I plunged into this section that I dubbed “green hell” last year. Nothing like dropping thousands of feet to ride a trail so muddy my glasses became useless, only to have to claw my way back up in one hellacious climb. And so it was done.

Re-tracing the extensive fire road back towards the finish gave me ample time to reflect on how cold it was up on a mountain in the cold rain. It had been a little while since I could feel my thumbs. Soon, a long double track descent yielded to a trail that was extremely muddy, like a river of peanut butter and poo. Joy… Very exhausting to ride through.  Luckily a deep stream crossing at the end washed my wheels and drivetrain clean. That was great!

I downed cliff shots like jello shooters at the next aid and started the return trip. Soon I was glad to be riding mostly down back towards the finish. The only drawback was the cold draining my body heat. Then I got some pretty bad cramps in my belly… slowed me down a bit as I rolled the final sections of gravel.

I was completely spent when I reached the last six miles of water logged single track and nursed it home for a time of 10:54 ( about 43 mins slower than last year). The pro’s finished in 8:00 hours (~60 mins slower than last year).

I was glad to have finished a tough race in tough conditions, and also glad it was not raining worse than it had. Wow, what a tough way to kick off my 2013 NUE season.