Monday, September 9, 2013

Design Physics Conquers the Hill

Husband and wife duo Tom and Sonya Richeson represented Design Physics p/b Endorphin Fitness this past Saturday at the “Conquer the Hill” race at Miller School ofAlbemarle.  I was curious about the course, as this was the first year the school had put on a race on the trails that the school had made themselves.  The school is in a beautiful area in Charlottesville VA. 
Before the race I had checked the preregistered women in my Cat 2 field.  I didn’t know about the others, but one woman I had raced against for the first time two weeks prior at the Battle of Burke Farm.  She had beaten me in a 16 mile race by 12 minutes.  Hmmm…wasn’t looking too good.  Plus, she was literally half my age, I could have been her mother.

The start line was interesting, this was the first time Tom and I had ever been at a start line together- they had combined the cat 2 women, single speed, and men’s 50 plus category for the start.  I told him I would let him get in front of me before the woods, hah hah.  I was thinking, what if my handlebar hooked his during the start and I caused him to go down, that would not be a good situation!  But the start went well.  Really well.  There was a long gradual downhill in grass to the “hole-shot” into the woods, Tom was first into the hole-shot, and I was the fourth person into the hole-shot and the first woman.  As we started on the single track, I could hear a girl right behind me and I knew it was “fast girl” (who I now know as Sarah Twiford).  After a mile or so the trail opened up and a long climb started, and as expected she passed me like I was standing still, so I was now fifth overall, but further in the climb I was able to pass the large single-speeder guy that I had “drafted” on from the start line to get into the woods quickly, so was back in 4th position overall.

I know most of my team seems to be doing those mega endurance 100 mile races lately, but if you ever get a chance to race here in the future I strongly suggest you guys try it- the trails were incredible- mostly super tight single track, lots of corners, rollers, banks, off-camber trails, and some small pump-track areas…it just flowed smooth as butter, so nice, so fast…and some good climbing.  If you like fast cornering you will love this track.  There is a video of the course here at 4X speed. 
Towards the end of the first lap I saw “fast girl” on the side of the trail, fixing a flat.  The emotional part of my brain felt bad that she had a flat, and bad that I might do well because of that, but the logical part of my brain was doing the math- so if she had beat me in a 16 mile race by 12 minutes, and this was a 12 mile race, if all else were equal she would beat me in this race by 9 minutes…could she fix a flat in 9 minutes?  I still had to boogie, I couldn’t take any chances.

By the end of the third lap, no on had passed me male or female, I had won the cat 2 women’s race!  Then at the finish I found out Tom had won his race too.  “Fast girl” was able to fix her flat and still place third, so that was good too.  Perfect weather, perfect trail conditions, sweet trail and great family results, we couldn’t ask for a better day.


Here are some links to pictures from during the race:

Sonya just warming up, hence the smile. 
Tom cornering, very focused.
Sonya going over a log, note the tense face (I hold my breath going over obstacles!), compared to a picture of Tom nice and relaxed going over the same log.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

SM 100: One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days? Not the bad kind that you may be thinking of, but the really good kind that doesn’t come along very often. This is the first 100 miler that I ever had “one of those days”. Everything fell right into place, my nutrition was spot on and my spirits remained high throughout. On many training rides with team member Joe Fish, he often talks about how good he feels deep into these races, I can say I have never experienced this until this past weekend at the Shenandoah Mountain 100.

 The course had a re-route within the first 10 miles or so where a fire road climb was replaced by a singletrack climb (Festival Trail) that dropped onto a nice bit of ridge (Narrowback) followed by an awesome new downhill (Tillman West). There was much discussion leading up to the event exactly how the course would go, but I got some inside information prior to several pre-rides that these would be the trails used. Luckily, this intel was spot on and certainly made me feel more comfortable during the race. The pace was high during the undulating fire road that is the start of the course; no doubt this was in part due to the bottleneck that was sure to develop on this new singletrack climb. This new section is so awesome that is was worth the extra mileage and time it adds to the course, thanks to SVBC for making this possible.

 The pace seemed to let up once the group reached Tillman, we all settled into a pace line knowing Lynn was quickly approaching. I was in a group containing many of the usual suspects, many times I have pace lined with this group including Gordon Wadsworth and Eric Schofield. We kept a decent pace till hitting the base of Lynn; this is where things really started to split up. The wet rocks/roots made this climb a bit more difficult than normal. I walked more during the race then I have in any training ride this year. After descending Wolf, we all once again looked for a pace line for the long road section that lay ahead. The pace line was much thinner this time, but I was still able to catch a group which enabled a good pace into Aid #2.

 I pulled out of Aid #2 solo, which would become the theme for much of the rest of the day. Hanky came and went, Joe caught me near the top and we descended Dowells together. That is such an awesome downhill and I was really starting to feel good. Joe was having some gear issues so stopped at Aid 3 for a quick adjustment, so I soldiered on to 250 solo. I was able to hook up with another rider and we pace lined through a rain storm to the base of Road Hollow. Luckily the rain subsided by the time we hit the climb. My goal up Road Hollow was to stay on the bike as much as possible which proved to be difficult with the wet roots and rocks that line the singletrack. Once we hit the Braley descent I bombed past the other rider I had been following and was into Aid 4 before I knew it.

At this point, I was feeling great, even grinning from ear to ear as I set off to tackle the Death Climb. My spirits were the highest they had been, made even better by the awesome volunteers. I’m unsure how Chris Scott does it, but whatever he is doing to lure these volunteers year after year is an incredible feat. They really do make the race for all participants!! I was off to tackle the Death Climb.

The Death Climb came and went; this is a part of the race that I think everyone tries to forget. Coming down Chestnut is always an adventure. Luckily the rain from earlier didn’t dampen the trails too much and left the trail tacky and fast. Nearing the end of the descent, I lost focus and went down at a high rate of speed. A quick survey of me and my bike and I determined that all was well and continued on. When I made it to Aid 6, the volunteers (who were once again awesome!) told me I was in the top 15. I was shocked, I felt great but I had never been close to this position this late in a NUE race. This boost gave me the energy needed to crush the remaining climb. I finished in 15th place with a time of 8:14, besting my last SM 100 time by 45 minutes despite the longer course. I have worked closely with Michael Harlow from Endorphin Fitness all year and we have tracked my fitness gains, but I had never even imagined this kind of performance was possible. This is the first year that I have strictly followed a training plan, as you can see it paid off for me.

Once again, Design Physics had an awesome team presence at the SM. Despite the longer course, many team members rocked out solid times and several PRs.

David Reid: 8:14
Joe Fish: 8:28
Frank Yeager: 9:22
Jim Fisher 10:03
Jeff Plassman: 10:06
Tom Haines: 10:19
Dennis Throckmorton: 11:09
Paul Leeger 11:57
Dave Hardisky: 12:49