Sunday, August 27, 2006

Race Report - Southside Scramble (VA Derailer Series #2)

"This is Hell, or at least purgatory!"

Those are the words of my El Toreo teammate Rev. Warren Carswell (Methodist minister) after he rolled across the finish line at this year's Southside Scramble. He, like everyone else, was battling the soaring temperatures more than any rival on this day.

The heat hit Pookie very hard. Immediately after she finished (#1 35+ Sport Women, #1 overall Sport Women) she was having a hard time with nausea. I offered up a nice ice cold bottle of water from the cooler that she nursed for a while. Then it was a bottle of recovery drink (Hammer HEED + Protein powder). Still she felt awful. After about 1/2 hour, she was feeling a bit better, so I went to procure some post-race grub. A few minutes later I got word that she was really feeling bad. I had the EMTs come to lend a hand, pump her full of Gatorade, water and oxygen and help get her core temperature down.

After about an hour, we finally got her into the Jeep, cranked the AC and got her feeling better. She's back to normal now and still drinking lots of fluids to ensure a complete recovery.

This was by far the hottest race I've ever been in. A few years back I dropped out of the Dragon's Back race near Roanoke with temps around 90. This was worse. Luckily, I was better prepared leading up to this race. I don't know what the termometer said at the end of the race, but I overheard someone say it was 95. Now when I say better prepared, I mean better prepared to finish, not to race all that well. I have never been able to cope with hot weather. I'm a big fan of Spring and Fall races. Give me drizzle, arm warmers and a vest over this heat any day! I knew I was going to be miserable, so I planned accordingly.

My three main objectives going in were:

  1. Have Fun

    I knew this would be a great ride. No matter how I rode, I wanted to enjoy all of the great trails this venue has o offer. I enjoy riding and racing here, although I don't get down to this neck of the woods too often. The fine folks at SVMBA have done an awesome job with the trail system in Danville, and I admire what they have been able to provide for the enjoyement of the local MTB community. This year we had 8.5 miles of mostly twisty, somewhat technical singletrack trails per lap. In the singlespeed class we had two laps on the slate for this race. This place is full of twists, turns, roots and ups and downs and I enjoyed the privilege of racing on it. Thanks SVMBA!

  2. Ride as well as you can

    I pushed myself to the limit of what my body was willing to give me. I feel pretty good about it. Like a mentioned before, I don't do well at all in the heat. For me to finish strong (3rd place in SS, about 30 seconds out of 2nd place) in this kind of nasty heat tells me that I may be doing more things right than I used to. Last season I don't think I would have been able to finish a race like this. If I could do anything differently it would be that I would have worn a hydration pack. The tight trails made it very difficult to reach down and fetch a bottle, drink and return it to the bottle cage.

  3. Finish

    Along with finishing is knowing that I recovered well. I took in the proper amout of fluids post-race and was able to feel pretty good in about 15 minutes.

This is the second time that I've participated in this race, and it's been a lot of fun on both occasions. The City of Danville and SVMBA have teamed up to create a great event, and I'll be back next year again - but I'll be wearing a hydration pack!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Race Report: MW Windows (VA Derailer Series #1)

Momentum is a curious thing; you're either gaining or losing it. The MW Windows Mountain Bike Race at Wade Recreation Area in Franklin County is definitely gaining precious momentum. 126 racers (up from around 110 last year) lined up to face the short but challenging course. A very large contingent of Novice class racers proves that this event (like most others in this series) is gaining the momentum needed to become a mainstay of the Virginia mountain bike racing scene. Lots of friendly, helpful volunteers along with staff from both the MW Windows Company and Franklin County Rec & Parks have ensured the event's success the past couple years that I've had the privilege of racing in it. The course is well marked and well marshaled making it easy to concentrate on racing, not orienteering.

For me, momentum has been hard to come by on this course. Last year's heat and humidity made it feel as if I was racing in quicksand. This year, the weather was perfect - mid eighties with moderate humidity.

I lined up for the 11:02am start with 4 others for the first Singlespeed class race ever in a Derailer Series event. Last year I had no class - I was one of only two lonely singlespeeds in a sea of gears. I knew the competition would be tougher this year, but I thought the SS field would be bigger. I'm sure that at the upcoming races in Danville and Lynchburg we will have much more singlespeed company.

I knew I was "off" from the very start. 30 seconds before the gun I tried to do a track stand on the line so I could jump right in with both feet. I was weaving and twitching all over the place and had to dab! I never dab! Bad signs already. Off the 5 of us went along a gravel road for about 1/2 mile before a left sent us onto a steady, grassy doubletrack climb. I was in trouble already. My legs felt like wood. What did I do wrong? Something I did the week prior left me feeling like I was on day number 17 of and an 18-day stage race. I had nothing. Michael Coco, the eventual winner of our class was no where in sight after about one minute in. I know the dude is strong, but that really makes you feel like quitting.

However, I have no quit in me. I was going to use this race (along with the feeling of pedaling with 2x4s instead of legs) to think about what I could have done differently the days leading up to the race.

Getting and rythm going on this course is next to impossible for me. I can't put my finger on it. First, the climbs are just a tad too steep to feel comfortable hammering in the saddle. Not at all like the 3 mile, 1000 foot climb at Carvin's Cove where I could get a nice, steady cadance going and make all kinds of time on the field. The double track trails don't seem to favor my riding style either. I can't get my groove going. There are two river crossings on this course, and I think that's what I handled the best out of any other section of the entire race. The singlespeeds had to face both crossings twice. One is shallow (about sixteen inches deep) and the other is nearly three feet of slow moving river. Both are about forty feet wide. I rode the shallow crossing both laps at a pretty good clip. I surprised myself. The deep river crossing was slower, and I didn't even attempt to ride it. After all, I just got mt rebuilt Reba back from Rock Shox and I didn't want her to get full of nasty Pigg River water. I did my best cyclocross dismount at the river's edge, picked up my Rig and trudged through the thigh-high river. I gained on folks in front of me on every crossing.

The rest of the course was back to feeling like my tires were full of mables. Each time I'd try to stand and sprint, my legs would remind me that they were taking the day off.

I was able to keep Quinn Hershberger (the same guy who beat me by more than 3 minutes last year on his singlespeed on this course) in my sights the entire race and finished 15 seconds behind him for 4th place. That's about the long and short of it; the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers were much stronger than me that day, but there will be other races.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Team El Toreo places 6 riders on the podium at MW Windows Race

Todd Reighly (front row, center) - 2nd place - Pro/Expert
Ron Glowczynski (back row, far left) - 1st place - Pro/Expert 35+
Paula Schimizzi (back row, center) - 1st place - Sport Women 35+
Donnie Smith (far right) - 1st place - Novice 18-35
Chip Camper (not pictured) - 3rd place - Sport 35+
Chris Clark (not pictured) - 1st place - Novice 35+

My full race report will follow soon. Let's just say I was 16 seconds too slow...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

New Kits

Did 50 miles on the road this morning in the new threads. Made by Giordanna. Hope I made some people hungry by sporting the El Toreo Mexican Restaurants logo. I hope I made people want to send out a bulk mailing by wearing the Mail-It Plus logo also.

Here's the link if you'd like to purchase a jersey, bibs or shorts for yourself. This stuff is extremely well made and will last a long time. I can speak from experience that the bibs are ultra-comfortable.

I always thought that it would be really cool if someone in Indiana or Nevada or Idaho bought a jersey and just happened to be wearing it on a ride while I just happened to be passing through their town on a business trip. Probably never happen, but it's just one of those things that people like me think about.