Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Where does the time go?? Whiskey Off Road Report!!

Don't take anything from the HUGE delay in getting a race report up, the Whiskey Off Road was unbelievable! Lots to write so I'll get right to it!

After what felt like talking and preparing for the Whiskey forever, the weekend finally arrived. The Town of Prescott, Arizona was 100% on board in support of the event. Upon arriving I could see the tell tale signs of mountain bikers present. Sweet bikes all around, Team and Industry Vehicles, and awesome personal transport options all over town! Along the town main street was the Bike Expo with many vendors including our friends and supporters ESI Grips! It was great seeing them again!

Arriving early Thursday, we were happy to see my bike again after having shipped it a week earlier. Had some lunch at the pleasant St Michael Hotel Bistro, and then got to building up the bike. Everything assembled nicely so I'd be ready to preride in the morning. Jump to the next day and I mapped out about a 14 mile loop to shake down the bike, get familiar with the trails and wake up the legs a bit. Managed to make a quick vid on the shakedown ride so check it out below.

Friday night arrived and as much as I wanted to just rest, the Pros were in action for a Fat Tire Crit, so we grabbed a beer and enjoyed the show. Got a few nice shots from there as well. Action was non stop and ultimately won by Keegan Swenson and Chloe Woodruff.

Race morning arrived and I was set. The 8:30 start was perfect to take the chill out of the morning as we set off. The route started straight off into about an 8 mile climb, mostly road, some gravel, before topping off into steep and choppy section. The sawtooth profile meant that everything that went up, would go DOWN! Off I went on the first long descent and my smile was ear to ear. The open terrain allowed me to get a good look ahead and get comfortable quickly and actually letting it rip. My experiences at Oramm were a little hesitant as I wasn't comfortable with limited sight around the lush corners, but picking good lines on the new (to me) terrain wasn't a problem. The route carried on with another climb and descent until the first rest stop. Made it out of the rest stop refreshed and ready to tackle the longest, highest climb of the day.

Off I went and found my climbing rhythm, but about half way though that climb, well it was mostly lights out. Exposed climb, temps and elevation rising, my heart rate going up and my power going down. I had to dismount and walk several times. I crossed the bail out point on the way up, but that seemed to give me a little kick and I continued to push. Reached the top, Took a breather and a picture to remember the long Skull Valley climb and carried on knowing it was only 20 miles mostly undulating downhill to go. In hindsight the elevation probably sapped my power a bit and I just didn't know how to handle it.

Once I came around the high point, we hit another rest stop and pointed it down the most rewarding downhill runs I've ever done! Again with clear lines and lush trails and double track. 20+ Minutes of descending would lead us to the last notable challenge of the day, Cramp Hill. Sure enough, after not pedaling for 20 minutes the sudden short, but steep, climb instantly threw cramps my way. Knowing better I decided not to waste any more time and just walked up a few minutes.

Once past Cramp Hill the worst was over. I'd ridden some of the final sections the day before and got my final wind once I knew where I was at. I pinned it through town to the finish line, and while I looked miserable, it was still one of the most enjoyable rides I've ever done. I met my wife at the finish and took some time to recover. After coming out of my haze, I took my free beer ticket and enjoyed the most refreshing beer I'd ever had and we sat back to enjoy the post race concerts!

As a whole the Epic Rides Organization puts on what has to be the premier events in America. Great, supportive towns, excellent event organization, family friendly atmosphere and SICK RIDING. I've talked about it so much so that I may have talked the rest of the Eclipse Racing crew into attending Epic Rides' Grand Junction Off Road!

2020 is a ways away, so first up is our Coconut Cup series. Enjoy the event pics below and come back for more stories!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Eyes on the Prize - Amelia 60 Report

As the countdown to the Whiskey 50 continues there's been some solid training in the legs, so it was time for another test event. Alex is back in hiatus stage, so would just be me out this weekend. While Santos was just to test the waters and get back into live action. The Amelia 60 would be a true test of my progress and mindset to see where I really stood. 10 laps of Amelia are typically relentless on the body and challenging for the mind. The race loop was punchy or flowy, but you're always pedaling. Sometimes full effort to make it up a short steep climb, others pedaling at tempo at the endless flowing fast turns. Easy enough to recover, but sneaky enough to burn out your legs as the laps wear on. Add passing the pit area 10 times, and any doubts can be magnified where you could just say "enough" if you're having a bad day. The goal was find my pace and ride my own race. Don't blow up, don't cramp, focus on nutrition and hydration and don't quit.

Race start came and I wasn't worried about positioning. I knew there was a mix of teams and open riders that were going to be on a much faster pace than me. As we got started I settled into a train of smooth riders I was familiar with for the first 10 minutes or so. We made it past the challenging opening sections and into the flow when a bottleneck from catching some slower riders caught me at the worst time, and I was forced to bail mid climb and ultimately tumble down the hill. I popped up quickly and got rolling again, but the train was gone and I was solo. I didn't worry too much about chasing back, but I was regretting my decision to start off easy. Maybe next time I'll press a little more to get ahead early.

After the fall I found my pace and was pretty pleased. Lap after lap I was ticking times all within one minute of each other. About two-thirds of the race had passed when I finally started slowing. At the start of lap 7 I was getting some heavy legs. Good thing was that while the pace was down, I wasn't struggling to get around the trail. Kept chugging along, knowing I was close to the end. Realistically I had 9 laps in me as the team leaders had already passed me earlier. I knew it would be close but I was determined to make it to lap 9. Unfortunately I wasn't determined enough apparently. Good friend Damien Serrania came blasting by not even two minutes from the end of the lap. Cutoff for the race was determined on the overall winner. Once they were done, everyone was done when they finished their lap. Guess who the race winner was? Damien and his team. I watched him cross the line and came though behind him seconds later, and had Dave from Gone Riding telling me I was done. Just missed it....

Finished with 48 miles on the day.  Could I have ridden with a little more urgency?  Possibly, but the fitness was there and I'm looking forward to the next 6 weeks. Thanks to Jonathan Perez from @playing_bikes (Your Custom Pactimo source!) for letting me pit in his tent space too! Next event will be the big one in Arizona. I'll try to get more pictures and videos for that one. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 1, 2019

2019 in Progress!

If you've been following along on with us on Facebook you'll know 2019's major goal is the Whiskey Off Road in Arizona! 50 miles in the beautiful Arizona desert terrain with close to 7000 feet of climbing? Sounds like a dream to me!

When the decision was made in December, we had to get right to business adding the Santos 12 Hour event to the calendar. The February timing was perfect as would have a few weeks to start preparing. Having ridden the trails but never been to the event, I heard it was half race and half party. We'd be camping out at the venue and only racing the 6 Hour event so we'd definiltey have plenty of time for shenanigans.

The race started off LeMans style with a 300m dash to our bikes. I managed to find a well placed and firm vine to prop my bike up, but it was a bit further down the row. Alex would set up his bike in a perfect spot a the start of the bike drop. Who's strategy would win out?? The run started straight up an incline so I didn't have any reason to go all out, but I did manage to ultimately hop on the bike in front of Alex, but only by two riders! We settled into the madness of a mass start and tried to stay out of trouble.

After a short opening loop, the 9 mile course would break up into a technical section with short punchy climbs that would simply kill the legs, then fast and flowy for a few miles, followed by a milder technical and choppy section into the finish area. A flaming boost jump is traditionally added for fun along the pit row by spectators, adding a final challenge at the finish line. It's completely optional, but race time bravery often gets people out of their comfort zone. The jump is quite simple and small by MTB standards, but it's still known to catch a tired rider out with silly crashes. Gotta pay to play sometimes, right? Luckily I survived each attempt unscathed. My modest jump style drew courtesy applause, but they definitely weren't going to remember me.

Fast forward to 3 hours in. I was cooked. Legs didn't really have the miles for the event and started cramping. I went out to start a 4th lap and nearly stalled going up two power climbs at the beginning of the loop. At this point it wasn't safe and I called it a day. Alex had shown up just for the fun and riding so he wrapped up slightly earlier in the day. Fun was had. Solid training on the day and came out unscathed. Time for camping, cooking and recovery beer!

We enjoyed the event and will definitely come with more focus again next year. Took a few pics and vids, not a ton, but enough to get a vibe for the great event. Up next is the Amelia 60 in March. Training has been progressing so expecting better results out of this one! Come back soon for more updates.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

So now what?

After the long leadup and drama going into Oramm, the weeks that followed were due for a little relaxation off the bike and figuring out what to do for the rest of the year. Not wanting to waste quite possibly the best fitness we've had in a few years, we've decided to hit the XC scene and get back to our roots in the Coconut Cup! We're looking forward to seeing old faces and meeting new ones in the great Florida MTB Community. The action begins in October at Markham park so keep following with us for pics and stories of the events. Can't wait!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Race Report - Oramm in the books!!

To say getting to Oramm was a challenge is a huge understatement. The whole goal was set after a shoulder injury & subsequent surgery in 2017 had me so out of shape I decided to get the Eclipse Racing gang back together and go big, and Oramm was the target. TLDR Warning, it's a long report!

To recap, I got serious in January, and crashed in my first event resulting in a back injury. Then had a spleen issue a few weeks later. Then had chest pain symptoms that turned out to be
caused by gastritis. All of which were serious enough to knock me off the bikes for a few weeks at a time. The hits just kept coming, but despite the doubt and lost training time, I was able to focus on the bike just enough to drop 20lbs and get some effective training done with Freddy from F2 Performance Lab. Alex meanwhile cranked away for months like he hadn't done in years. An Oramm veteran, Mike was taking a relaxed approach to his prep as he knew what would be in store for him and his SS setup.

Now for the trip. What a great time we had! Coming from Miami, FL means 12 hours to Old Fort, NC. We decided to leave on Friday and stop in SC to hit up the FATS trail system. Man what a blast we had. We kept it easy on the Brown Wave and Skinny trails which are mostly flow trails and just let it rip. Didn't want to hammer any climbs, just wanted to have some fun and break up the drive. We wrapped up the drive to Asheville, NC and called it a night after dinner.

Saturday was preride day and Boyco gave us the low down. Rather than over doing it trying to get familiarized with every possible section, we focused on the Kitsuma trails as we'd hit them twice in the main event. After some final bike adjustments and getting lost a little bit, we started the road climb to Kitsuma. With month of long steady efforts, but no real climbing I was curious to see how the climbing legs would show up. I was pleased with my 2x10 gear selection and thrilled I'd dropped so much weight. The legs felt great and I was able to match what we'd trained in an actual climbing situation. Compared to my prep for Fool's Gold in 2014 I was thrilled with what was to come. Taking it easy we hit the singletrack section and all it's switchback glory about 30 minutes later. The steep turnarounds took some getting used to, but we figured out a rhythm and grinded to the top. Then the fun started. Not having hit "real" downhills in many years I eased into it making sure I wasn't going to fly off the bench cut trails. Was just getting comfortable when some rear brake squishyness reared it's head. Nothing like 50% stopping power to shake the nerves.... I adjusted the lever a bit and improved it, but my confidence was shot and I kept it slow going until we hit the bottom. We gathered up and after some relaxing and beverages, we hit an Asheville shop who was kind enough to try to fix my brakes. They didn't quite have all tools needed for a proper bleed, but they felt better so I hoped I'd be set. 

Sunday came and it was show time. We arrived a little later than planned but managed to make the start line with only minutes to spare. Unfortunately Alex was fighting some stomach issues from the day before and had to take care of business and missed the start. Boyco rolled in without a care in the world. I was jealous....We rolled off and I quickly wound up in no man's land. Wasn't able to keep up with lead group cold, and was ahead of the 2nd group that was really easing into it. After about 10 minutes of rolling we hit the climb. I set into my power range and went for it. Pace was decent for me but was getting reeled in by more comfortable climbers. ALL the Boycos passed me! Mike, his dad and even his little brother! (Ah to be 15 and skinny again...) I kept my focus and made it to the top feeling good. Now on to the fun descents. I felt comfortable quickly for the first 10 minutes and managed now to slow people up, then the brake fade returned and I had to pull over. Fidgeted with brake reach a few times, then eventually crawled to the bottom safely. Was making another adjustment when Alex came roaring by trying to make up on lost time! I got the brakes to where I was happy again and off I set to chase down Alex.

The flat road was a nice change as about the only thing I was used to! I pushed the pace a bit and had a small train latch on my wheel, having me second guessing that I may be going too hard, but I was feeling good so I kept at it. We hit the next rest stop and there was Alex so I topped off bottles and grabbed a few munchies quickly and off we went. Now started the never ending Curtis Creek climb that I'd been warned about, and lived up to it's reputation. This thing was just and endless grind. Not much to say here, just find your climbing rhythm and hold it for over an hour. Made it to the rest stop at what I thought was the end of the climb, only to find another few miles of road to climb on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Beautiful views and all, I was ready to start pointing down. Before that came, there was a gnarly hike a bike to take care of. A few minutes later and it was finally time to let it rip down the appropriately named Heartbreak Ridge. Somewhere along the way Alex and I were back together again heading into the decent. Admittedly I walked a ton of the early sections. Huge rock sections and iffy brakes didn't really have me gleaming with confidence. Finally found the brake reach that gave me maximum stopping power that I could still reach with one finger and finally got rolling consistently. This was the longest downhill I've ever ridden! I took the chicken line but I was committed, but unfortunately slipped on a root near the bottom and had a small tire burp and had to put my foot down, setting off the Hecklers howls! All in good fun, I carried on. 
Time to hike a bike!

Having survived the toughest section of the race feeling good despite the brake delays. I knew there was about 90 minutes or less to go and I had finally resolved my brake issues, I got my last wind. I knew we'd have a steady climb back to Kitsuma, so I set into my pace while trying to conserve some energy for the switchbacks. Somewhere along the way down, Alex damaged a pedal and was slowed down a bit, so here is where we parted ways. I made it to the switchbacks, and while my steady effort power was hanging in there, the intense power needed to make it around the switchbacks was mostly gone. I'd make it around a few bends then need to stop and recover, or walk around the bend. Took a little longer than the first time, but I made it, only this time, I had brakes going down! Finally I was able to let it rip and tried to pin it down as best I could. Made it to the bottom safely and saw Freddy with some words of encouragement and a splash of cold water telling me there was only a few miles to go. Knowing it was easy rollers to the end I rode with a grin from ear to ear as hard as I could go to the finish. Alex came by about 10 minutes later. Broken pedal, stomach issues and all, he was grinning ear to ear as well crossing the line. 

Post race dip!

Considering the rough journey I had to make it to Oramm, finishing was enough for me. Clock time was slow due to mechanicals and stopping a little tooo long at the stops, but my riding time was reasonable for my expectations so I came out of this thrilled. I joined the Boycos and Alex with a traditional dip in the cold stream nearby and a cold beer and reminisced about what we'd just been through. Knowing that this year's course was about 10 miles shorter than usual, we'll definitely be back to conquer Oramm in it's entirety soon! Time to take a few weeks off and plan out the rest of the year. Once again we'd like to thank Freddy Viera with F2 Performance Lab for getting us prepared for this event. Enjoy some pics below and keep following along!

The squad!