Monday, October 28, 2019

Race Report - Coconut Cup #1 Markham Park

Time flies when you're having fun! It's been a few weeks since the Markham opener of the Coconut Cup and it was a blast. Huge fields in all classes made the racing tight. Good starts and holding a consistent pace was critical. The race loop was carved out of the existing trails for a unique race day only course. More of a power course with few climbs but still constantly undulating terrain meant key was stay steady and don't pop on one of the temping wide open sections. So how'd it go?

Elite Wave Start!

35 racers lined up at the XC2 40-49 line (HUGE for the class), and despite my early arrival to the grid, I was still starting 2nd row. The whistle blew and I never had a chance at a good start. Instantly pinched from both sides and a quick course bottleneck meant I had a lot of ground to cover to move up the pack before the singletrack. I decided to be patient and not blow up in the first two minutes. Settled in behind a group and would wait my chance to make a move. After five or so minutes of singletrack we hit the biggest "climb" of the day (More like 50 yards with gradual incline) and I layed down my first "match". Having been working on short burst efforts, I was curious to see how well they'd go. Turns out practice makes perfect. I punched it up this short climb and gained 4 spots and wasn't completely cracked! Kept rolling and slowly pulling for the group in chase of the next group. Hmm...maybe today would be fun despite this terrible start!

Tired but pushing into the final lap
The above is pretty much a synapsis of my entire race, unfortunately it would come at the expense of a dropped chain and a small crash throughout the course of the race. Nothing catastrophic, but always ill timed (are they ever actually well timed??) and would cause me to lose time and positions, then spend time and energy chasing back and waiting for passing opportunities. That said, it was actually kind of fun! Pace and endurance felt good all day. I'd lay down hard efforts on flats and power sections that normally I'm conservative on, make some passes then unfortunately go backwards. Make efforts and passes again. Fruitful it was not, but at least was engaging. Last 10 minutes I woke up enough to fend of another racer from my class to hold my lowly but hard fought 27th place. I'm nowhere near the lead but I know I have better results in me this season and can't wait to hit Round 2 in Alva in a few weeks!

Speaking of season, we're ironing out some plans and big events for 2020. Stay tuned!

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.