Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mt. Bike Racing Update

It has been quite a while since I've posted (when hasn't it....)
So here is a general update of my racing season over the last few weeks, including profound personal realizations I have come to realize.

Since the RAWROD I have raced mountain every Saturday. The Intermountain Cup Series gets pretty intense in May with races every week, and the weekly Soldier Hollow Series also starts halfway through May.

After my first mountain bike race down in Hurricane, I was pretty impressed with my result. I got second place in the mens Expert 19-29 category. Visions of quickly upgrading to pro raced through my mind as I got all revved up for the rest of the season.

Then the second race happened.

That changed things. A lot.

I flatted and had some mechanical issues out at that race, leaving me semi-content with a 5th place finish. Not too bad, but just a fluke to finish that far back...I should have won...or so I thought.

The next race up in Logan confirmed my deepest fear: I stink at bike handling.

Uphill sections of the Logan race were ok. I could push myself hard and even pass many riders in the non technical uphill and flat sections. However, the downhill corners proved to be my Achilles Heel.

Just to illustrate my point, sometime halfway through lap 3 of 4 I could hear people starting to pile up behind me on the downhill windy section. A brief conversation occurred which went something like this:

ME: I'm really bad at this downhill stuff...just let me know when you want to pass, dude

INDIVIDUAL BEHIND ME: You're doing fine, hang with it

ME: (realizing the voice behind me was in fact that of a woman...[yeah, an actual girl was about to pass me in a bike race]) I mean, just let me know when you wanna pass, ma'am

INDIVIDUAL BEHIND ME: (slight chuckle) I'm ok, I'll let you know

ME: (In my mind) Oh shiz!

INDIVIDUAL BEHIND ME: (after watching me unclip and put my foot down on a particularly hairy sharp corner) Use your body weight to turn, not your hands

(Yes, the woman biker behind me was actually giving me tips on bike handling in between small outbursts of laughter as she watched me struggle)

INDIVIDUAL BEHIND ME: Look further up the trail, not directly in front of you

ME: Thanks

INDIVIDUAL BEHIND ME: (More hysterical laughter at my plight)

ME: Sorry

INDIVIDUAL BEHIND ME: Ok, good luck, I'm gonna pass you now.

Then, before I could even say anything, she passed me just after a corner and blew by me like I was standing still (which, knowing how poorly I take corners, my being at a complete stop isn't that unlikely)

Fortunately for me and my male ego, I mustered up the energy to gas it on the next straight away and catch the woman, but I swear I could hear her laughing the whole time.

I managed to come in around 7th or 8th. Taken into perspective that really isn't that bad when you consider how big the field was (7 or 8) Ok, so it was that bad

Just to ensure the destruction of any lingering thoughts of confidence in my mountain biking skills, Soldier Hollow confirmed it all with a cute little wreck on one of the downhills (my knee still has a fat owie) and a near to last place finish.

Oh well, its still very fun.

Friday, May 9, 2008

RAWROD Report 2008

A few weeks ago, I had the incredible chance to ride in the annual RAWROD. Here we all are. I stole this picture from If there is any kind of copyright issue here you can call my lawyer, Fish.

One of the reasons I've taken two weeks to write up this report on the ride is that for the longest time I could not decide on a witty/informative/catchy title for this post.

Basically, the RAWROD is the Ride Around White Rim in One Day. A 100 mile mountain bike ride down in Moab. A large group of friends, associates, and random guys who somehow get the emails show up to camp out and ride bikes for a weekend late in April. After hearing about it for the last two years, I finally decided I was Mt. Biker enough to join in on the fun.

As mentioned earlier, I couldn't decided on a title for this post, here are several of the potential candidates:

Option #1 Mountain Biking is Really, Really, Really Fun

Basically I had the time of my life out there. It wasn't about riding faster than anyone else, or being better than anyone else, it was about having fun, seeing what I could do, and all in all, just finishing. (The above statement regarding a "non-compete" attitude becomes completely void when considering my only other goal to finishing was to beat Mark Johansen, more on that below)

Lately I have been going through a transition from a roadie to a "dirty" mt biker (as Barrett refers to us) and really had my eyes opened as to how much just plain old fun it can be to ride a bike in a pretty place with no training agenda. A completely novel concept to me.

Option #2 Bike Seats Get Really, Really Hard after 100 miles on the Trail

Ever since I discovered the Selle Italia SLR, I have wondered if my rear could ever appreciate another saddle. After about the first 60 miles last Saturday, I would have gladly traded in my ultra light 135g SLR: for one of the "Big Wide Comfort Seats" found HERE

Such as this one:
I would have gladly carried the extra 13 pounds up every foot of climbing those last 40 miles in exchange for a saddle that didn't feel like it was chaffing off layers of skin so deep I'd need a skin graft to my rear.

In all honesty, I was pretty dang sure I had discovered where the RAW in RAWROD came from.

Option #3 Beating Mark Is All That Matters

Lately I have gotten to be good friends with Mark...or so he thinks. Due to the fact that Mark doesn't even know how to open a "website", or what the internet even is, for that matter, I feel somewhat safe talking a little smack here.

Basically the only reason I am friends with Mark is to find out how to beat him. Beat him at what?


I want to be faster on a bike, have a sweeter truck, get bigger muscles, and be cooler than him in general. Pretty much just beat him at the game of life.

Last Saturday was an interesting chapter in the game called "Beat Mark" Here is how the "ride/race" unfolded.

The first quarter (miles 1-25) I was able to hang ok with Mark and John as we left the parking lot, but soon the hammer was dropped, the two started plotting against me, and I got dropped, giving Mark the early Stage 1 "W".

Lucky for me, John's wife and Fish were kind enough to slow down and ride with me for a bit. At the gate to the park we regrouped and after the descent I lit Mark up and took the stage 2 victory. After lunch I rallied it up, feeling pretty dang good from mile 60 to 85.

Good enough to take the W for Stage 3.

Mark, however, was holding a little somthing back for the last 15. He blew me away on the last leg of the ride and up the final 900 foot climb up Horsethief, showing me exactly what he had in those iron limbs of his to take not only the Stage 4 victory, but the overall "W" for the day. (I can't wait till I can finally beat that dude)

Option #4 Friends are Pretty Dang Cool

One of the most important things that happened over the trip was that I realized how much fun it is to have friends (even if you are trying to beat them up every hill)

I had an awesome time driving down with Mark and Shae, riding with lots of people I knew, and even meeting some new friends. I even found myself wishing Kyle was there to share in the fun. The more and more I mountain bike, the more I realize its not about the bike, its about the ride.


Here are some stats from the ride:

Total Miles: 99.7
Total Calories Burned: 8614 (A marathon only uses about 2700)
Total Cliff Bars/Blocks consumed: >10 (yuck, no wonder my tummy hurt)
Total Feet of Climbing: ??? (I'll get back on that)
Total Fun Points for the Day: Eleventy-Billion
Pieces of Pizza Mark ate after the ride: Like 20

Well, all I can say is I am excited for next year. I'm already making plans to buy a new seat from Wal-Mart, find some testosterone supplements for my drinks, and Ex-Lax for Mark's.