Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Firewater mini

I was supposed to do the Firewater 50 mtb ride/race on Saturday. Eddie and I got there at 9:30 for the 9am start...luckily no one had left yet. The group left around 9:40 and we were still hurrying to get our stuff ready. The saddle and pedals had to be changed out on my bike since Eddie had ridden it last at his race. Kathleen (VeloBella) was nice enough to wait...she said she was only planning on riding half the route, but then coming back via Windy Gap, the scary fun technical descent that used to be part of the route, and I had been wanting to ride. I rode off with her as we started what turned out to be about 2 hours of steep technical climbing...whoo! We stopped several times so I could catch my breath and so she could point out lines and re-try some stuff. On the way up I decided that I'd rather ride Windy Gap with Kathleen rather than continuing on to finish the entire Firewater 50. It would still be a good hard ride for me and I'd finally get to check out the trail. We met up with Eddie at the top and did a few miles of gravel road stuff (boo), and finally made it back to Windy Gap. What a blast!! It was certainly scary in places, but I love descending, and I love technical challenges. At one point, I asked Kathleen how much we had left and she said "not much, it opens up in a minute and then we're almost back." I thought to myself, wow, that was fun. It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, then immediately...BAM. I hit the dirt....and slid about 10 feet down on the steepest section of the trail that we'd ride that day...and right before the "Experienced Riders Only Beyond This Point" sign..ha! I laid there for what seemed like several minutes taking inventory of all my body parts, then bike parts. Turned out I was fine, just a little shaken. My rear wheel had come unattached from the bike..not sure if it had been loose to start with or if it all happened during the crash. That VeloBella kit is awesome, it didn't rip even though I ended up with some major trail rash under my shorts..eek! The rest of the ride was more downhill fun...and then back to the cars to meet up with the real Firewater finishers. Good times...up next for me is the unofficial 6-gap road century this coming weekend. Really, my season is over and I'm pretty much doing just whatever I feel like.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Shenandoah 100 etc.

I attempted the SM100 race in 2004, with my longest rides being 45 miles (mtb) and 65 miles (road) at the time. Needless to say, the SM100 course won and I came home with a DNF and the goal of coming back to race and finish it in 2005.

Fast forward to 2005: We arrived at the race venue early Saturday with enough time to set up camp and get in a 2 hour pre-ride. After all the drive time (11 hours) it felt good to spin out the legs, and I was feeling good and confident about doing well on Sunday. I noticed that my rear derailleur cable was still acting funny but I figured it would work itself out.

The 5am wake up call was a mix of bells and Rage Against the Machine. Nice. The race was to start as the sun came up, around 6:30am.

I was waiting at the start line talking to a girl (Crankypants) and realized that I had forgotten my Camelbak..d'oh! I sprinted up to the campsite to retreive it and luckily didn't miss the start. The race started out great, except I had a really hard time digesting my breakfast...I can't believe I didn't lose it. I did better at warming up more quickly than I did at the Offroad Assault, but I'm still a slow starter. The first trail (Narrowback) is my favorite. It is rocky, technical, ridge riding, and has a sweet sweet descent.
Pictures courtesy of Bill at www.buffalo2step.com

The 2nd climb was mostly singletrack that was too steep to ride for a 100 miler. I hiked a lot of it, just like everyone else around me. The descent was more than worth the climb though. The 3rd climb up Hanky is where everything fell apart. I was still feeling good, but my bike started having issues shifting, I figured I just needed some lube on the chain. Towards the top of the hellacious climb I found myself with only one gear (the small cog in the back), and even that wasn't reliable. If I put tension on the chain, it would skip up and down and threaten to break. I stopped several times on the way up and down (another really fun but scary descent)to fool with the cable and chain and lost between 1-2 hours here. My der cable had come so loose that it was flopping around, and I had no idea how to fix it. People I had passed in the first leg of the race had now caught up to me and passed me. I made it to the 3rd Aid station and there was a mechanic there that was able to fix it, but it took a while. I was waaaay behind where I should have been, had quit drinking and eating without realizing it, and was now frustrated beyond anything else. I left the Aid station without refilling or eating anything, and set out on the next leg. I hadn't completed this part of the race last year so I didn't know what to expect. What I got was a long paved road with a slight climb and a big bonk. After that, it was a long technical singletrack climb (a lot of which I walked again, I was cooked). I couldn't even enjoy the descent off of it I was so done. Gears were acting crazy again, and when I finally made it to the 4th Aid station I realized I wouldn't make it to Aid Station 5 in a reasonable amount of time. I hadn't dropped lights because I didn't think I would be out there that long. I was soooo disappointed, but I made the choice to DNF. I hung out there for awhile and left my bike with someone that was going to fix the cable again. I hitched a ride with a guy that had apparently been drinking too much because he took us through West Virginia to get back to the race start/finish! What was supposed to be a 40 min. ride back took over 2 hours. I tried really hard not to get upset with him. DNF-ing has to be the worst feeling ever. I tried to let it go and enjoy the post-race festivities, because they are a lot of fun. Blaine finished really strong, and so did Craig and Eddie. I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of cool people (including Lloyd and Kerry from IF) and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Shenandoah 100 is a great race, maybe I'll try again next year, who knows. We spent the rest of the week traveling, and did some riding and camping in PA, and more in CT. Eddie won his 2nd 24 hour race this year at the Genesis Churn & Burn this past weekend.
I did support for him, and it was very tiring. Now I know why he usually has a support crew entourage..because it's way too much for one person to handle. Many thanks to our camping neighbors/racers for all your help and company (Donna, Kim, Kevin, Eric, Steve, Toby). If you ever ride up there, expect lots of roots, rocks, and more rocks.

If anyone got pictures from the Shenandoah race or the 24 hour race, please email me at namritak@gmail.com.thanks!

Last pic, this is "Gus" the German Shorthair I met at the race. What a sweety!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Off to Shenandoah

We're leaving today for the Shenandoah 100. Unfortunately, I've only ridden my mountain bike twice since the ORAMM. All this riding in mud and wet conditions this year has really cost me some serious $$ and lack of riding time on it. Wayne at Gravity Dropper and John and Clifford of the Mango Bike Shop really hooked me up at the last minute and *hopefully* my bike should be free and clear of any more issues. After SM100, we will camp and ride for a few days around PA and CT. Eddie is racing the Genesis 24 hour race in CT the next weekend, and I'll be there doing support crew things. So, the SM100 update will be up in the next few weeks! I hope it's dry up there.