Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ouachita Challenge

Ouachita Challenge
Day 1 Tour  Finished 3rd  -5:h05m
Day 2 Race Finished 25th - 5:h20m
Total Time: 10h25m

Sitting second from left to right in picture (Purple and Green)

If ever my physical limits were tested it happened this past weekend in Arkansas. Day 1 of Ouachita challenge started out as a training day where I had set a 3hour ride time but that clearly never happened once pedaling. The tour is just that, a tour to enjoy the experience of the new surroundings and opportunity to ride terrain that may not be available to some of us everyday. I wanted to get the training volume in and this provided the perfect back drop. As we rolled down the road at the start I was committed to the day, 3hours, in my mind anyway. It was only once we passed the first checkpoint I knew then I was all in for the day. The trail went something like this....

Tar Road, Gravel Road, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Single track, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Rocks, Single track, Rocks Rocks Rocks, Fire Road, Rocks Rocks Rocks, Creek Crossing, Rocks Rocks, Single Track, Gravel Road, Rocks Rocks, Creek Crossing Single Track, Creek Crossing, Gravel Road,Tar Road.

I had a comfortable ride until 4hours and then the fatigue started, I lost energy levels but I knew this would happen at some point during the ride. I had been managing intake of fuels consistently and perhaps had neglected it ever so slightly in the 3rd hour. I popped two gels and found my legs again. It was a great adventure and some of the best mountain biking Ive done in a long time.

Sample Footage April 2013 - Arkansas from Aerial Vid on Vimeo.

Footage by Craig Roberson

Day 2 was really the final nail in the coffin, the course had been change slightly with an added section of single track called Blowout Mountain. It  added only about 2miles onto the total distance but they were a hard 2miles of rock gardens. I had recovered well from the previous day but battled to find my rhythm early on . I hung with the lead pack until we entered the first section of single track and then decided to sit up, back off a little until I found my lungs. I lost several positions but on a long day in the saddle so much can change. In the 3rd hour of racing I got my anticipated second wind and started to turn the tempo up. When I hit the tar road at mile 26ish I put my time trial face on and pulled back at least a dozen places. I rode home to finish 25th overall and felt content with my consistency from back to back days. One in the bank and to be drawn from later in the season.

A big thank you to my sponsors - Skin Strong kept me from burning up with over 10hours in the sun, Cadence Cyclery had my bike dialed, Orange Seal kept my tires firm and Elite Performance Chiropractors keep me moving and injury free.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Xterra Camp Eagle

Xterra Camp Eagle, Rocksprings Texas
Regionals 24th March 2013
1st overall 1:48:39

A weekend of back to back racing or maybe NOT. Saturday morning in Dallas had me set for a hard weekend of efforts but the weather had its timing down to a T. With the arrival of 5:30am, I pealed off the warmth that is my duvet and started scrounging to get my gear on, sink down a quick breakfast and bike over to Cooper Fitness Center as my warm up before a transition setup for the days racing. Winter taking its last grasp at straws providing us with a brisk morning, I reminded myself it could be worse (after watching Milan-San Remo 2013). I sucked it up and focused on the work ahead. I got 250m into the swim when I heard some strange shouting and yelling. Looking up I was told to exit the water, my immediate thought  was that I was disqualified but shortly after leaving the water I was informed there had been a lightning strike not too far away. The race was delayed and I made the decision to pack up my gear and make my way to race number 2.

My song choice for the weekend.

Now in Rocksprings TX for the second race and we would be treated to some terrific weather again.  The race day temps in the low 40F with wind chills at 38F and wind gust of 20MPH made for some consideration of clothing choice for the bike and run portion. By the time I made it into T1 my face was numb and I had lost feeling in my feet and hands. I had opted for full fingered gloves and a long sleeve jacket for the bike portion, I slipped out of the wetsuit scrambled to put my jacket on and now with frozen hands i could not zip the jacket. I decided to take off with the jacket open appeal to a batman look a like and find opportunity on the course to close it up. I spent the first 2 miles on the bike spinning at a rapid cadence to get the legs warm. Had lost a glove off the end of my handle bars in the transition so instead of turning to get it I dropped the other one and rode without. My legs came around sooner than I anticipated and with a quick glance through the trees I noticed 2nd place on the switch backs several seconds back.

 I put my head down and cranked out a solid effort to put enough time between him and I. I would not see him until we crossed the finish line. T2 was a messy transition but with the first actual race of the season I never set high expectations. I managed to shed the jacket, rack the bike, slip on shoes, take off my helmet in a decent time and head out onto the run. Leaving the transition without a time split I ran the first mile at a comfortable effort and started to crank up the intensity for the middle section. I managed to roll my ankle on what im told are called "baby skull rocks", need no explanation there. I slowed my pace on the 3rd mile to prevent further injury but when I got a sniff of the finish I turned the pace back on to take the victory. Some reassurance that im on the right path with my training and should see more results this season.

Official Results

Big thanks to Joel Grimmett at Race Revolutions for providing a great race. I will unfortunately be missing the next regional Xterra to try my hand at Xterra West Coast Championships in mid April and the following week ITU San Diego Championships.

Xterra Press and Media Center wrote an article and recap

John Chung Photography

Orange Seal crew and their results.

The suspension bridge about 200m from T2 gives you those jelly legs.