Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cranky Monkey #3 - Quantico

Today was the Cranky Monkey series race at Quantico. I had been looking forward to this race because I had done a practice adventure race at Quantico a couple of years ago and did not recall too many technical features but did remember a lot of climbing. My recollections were somewhat accurate although the course was definitely more technical than I remembered. The day of my previous ride it rained the whole day and today it was quite dry (note sandy) so there was also a big difference from that perspective.

I don't know how many started the Sport 45+ race with me but the were quite a few Sport 35+ in front of us. The course went maybe a quarter mile on a dirt road before entering the woods but there was a lot of fire road trails so there was no issue concerning getting around folks. The laps were nine miles in length and well marked with mile markers along the way. There were quite a few log ramps, one of which was taller than the handlebars on my bike but negotiable all the same. I finished the first lap in around 57 minutes and started the second feeling really strong even though it was pretty warm. I was catching and passing quite a few of the Sport 35+ riders and I know I had picked off a couple of riders in my race. I had made a goal to finish in the top ten and I thought I had a pretty good chance to do it. However, luck had other ideas. Right after one of the fire roads turned onto a single track trail where there was a drop off to the bottom of a dry creek bed and a corresponding climb as I came up out of the creek bed I heard a horrible sound that sounded like a high pitched grinding noise. At first I thought it was coming up behind me but then I realized it was my bike so I looked down and saw a huge stick stuck in my rear derailleur. So I stopped and pulled it out hopped back on my bike and tried to downshift to climb the hill in front of me but the pedals wouldn't turn. The chain was in the smallest cog even though my shifter said it should be in the largest. I got off again and found that the stick had caused my rear derailleur cable to detach from the derailleur itself. So now I had to decide whether I should try to finish using just three gears, small cog in the back and three chain rings in the front but I realized I would have to walk up a lot of the hills which would not be fun. So I decided since I was close to the start/finish line I would ride back to get some help fixing the bike. The Bike Line guy was nice in that he tried to help get me back in the race but he ended up cutting some threads on my derailleur cable in order to get it to shift somewhat properly on the stand. I did not feel comfortable heading back out to ride with a bike that may or may not shift correctly for the rest of the lap so I chose to DNF. This is actually my first DNF ever at a MTB bike race. This was the last race of the Cranky Monkey series and although I did not do well, I fully intend to ride the series again next year.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cranky Monkey MTB Series Race #2 - Fountainhead

Guess what? There was a cranky monkey race today and I didn't forget my shoes! I did the men's Sport 45+race at Fountainhead which started at 10 a.m. I really liked the course. There were a lot of short steep climbs and descents, roots rocks etc. It was probably the most technical course I have ridden in the MABRA region. We did two laps after about a mile on the road and I thought I entered the singletrack in around eighth place but I must have been further back because I only was passed by one guy in my race and he finished just ahead of me after I caught him on Shock-a-billy hill. I finished thirteenth but I probably would have finished in twelfth place had I not endo'ed on a little bridge. Even so, I still caught the guy but just couldn't pass him at the end. This was the second race that I finished one second behind someone in my race. I noticed that there were significantly fewer competitors at this race than were at Wakefield. Maybe it was too technical for some? Like I said, I liked it even though I am technically challenged and should probably be racing beginner still. Such is life!

Farmall Hill Challenge - Aug 5, 2008

The wife (Renee), the kids (Noah and Hannah) and I began our annual pilgrimage north to pay homage to those responsible for us entering the world and to those with which we entered (i.e. siblings/friends). So off we drove to Fairport, New York on August 3, 2008. Some nice things about Fairport, other than being the current place of abode for my wife's parents is that it is located on the old Erie Canal and thus has a tow path on which to ride bikes. It is also a short ride from some very nice Finger Lake Region road riding (i.e. hills). There are also numerous mountain bike trails in the area. On August 4, Noah and I went for a nice Father/Son ride along the tow path from Fairport to Schoen Place in Pitsford, met Renee and Hannah for lunch at the Coal Tower restaurant and then rode back. All in all 18 miles which was Noah's longest ride to date (he's 10). The next day was the Farmall Hill MTB race. Basically, a MTB race on the farmland of two property owners in Fairport, NY. One property owner is also the owner of RVE Bike & Skate, a local bike shop. The promoter is the owner's son. The course consisted of a two mile run around the old farm. There was some open field riding, a lot of single track through trees with plenty of steep climbs and descents but nothing overly difficult, that is, until the rain came. I did a pre-ride before the rain and was able to ride most of the course except for a couple of steep hills. It rained during my pre-ride and after there was a part of the course that crossed a sloped muddy bank where you fell walking because the mud was like ice. There was also a very steep descent that was about 80 feet long followed by a 40 feet similarly steep climb that was on top of a knob where if you went straight you would plunge down another drop off but the course went ninety degrees right up a longish steepish slippery climb. This was one major league whoop de doo. The rain stopped before the end of my pre-ride so at 6:30 p.m. we were ready to roll. As I approached the registration table the young lady working it asked me "Sport or Expert?" That gave me a good laugh. I told her that I was a licensed beginner and that I intended to ride that class given the threatening weather. The beginner race was three laps and we started near the edge of a field and meandered around the property to the course. I was in sixth place entering the single track steep muddy climb and mud rink. All five ahead of me stopped and walked up the climb, so I joined the crusade and passed two guys on the climb and one who fell on the side slope. With one of the two guys in my race ahead of me in sight I knew I would be in good shape. I caught and passed the next guy on the very next climb. I reeled in the last guy ahead of me just after the big whoop de doo and followed him around to the first part of the second lap. On the first climb he was walking as I rode up so I got off my bike, walked past him and across the side slope and never saw him again. I then started passing guys from the Sport race who started one minute ahead of us. I passed about five of them and was ready to pass another at the end of the second lap. As we came to the line the promoter told us to head to the parking lot because the weather was getting much worse. The wind had really picked up so I didn't doubt him. Sure enough, just as I got to my car the rain came and it was horizontal and there were bright lightening followed by loud cracks of thunder. I just stuck my bike in the car and got in as quick as I could. I stuck around for about ten or fifteen minutes simply because it was raining to hard to see and I had fogged up the windows. The promoter posted on their web site that anyone who raced on the fifth would get a free entry to either the second or third race of the series. Oh well, what would have been an extremely satisfying victory turned into absolutely nothing since I 'm not driving seven hours to do a six mile race. The rest of the week was nice. I took the family to a park in Victor, NY that had an amazing number of MTB trails (Dryer Road Park) on the sixth and then we went to visit my family on the seventh. Noah and I did another father/son ride on the Alleghany River trail which took us about an hour. On the eighth I did a ride from our Hotel up to the top of Rock City Hill. Rock City Hill overlooks the whole area and took me about twenty minutes to climb on my MTB bike. At the top there was a pretty good rain squall. I got soaked and the temp was about 60 in Olean so it as probably about 56 at the top of the hill. I turned around and headed back to town reaching a top speed of 40.9 on my mountain bike. Again , my ride lasted about an hour.