Wednesday, August 27, 2008

EFTA 2008 **El Fin**

1  GALLOWAY, COLLIN     1,316  

My 2008 EFTA season has come to a close. There is one race left, but I'm not attending due to driving distance. These standings should hold, unless Jake shows up for the Grillz race and snags some points to pass me and move into 3rd. He didn't go last year so I am hoping I hold the podium spot.

I am more proud of my current 3rd place finish than I am of 3rd from last year. Last year's 3rd was a bit more of a 'I went to more races than you' type finish. This years series had a lot more consistent competition and I legitimately earned this 3rd by beating Jake at the TVR when I had to to keep from getting bumped to 4th. Jake is fast and I can hang my hat on that result.

This season had its up's and down's, races where I really suffered and races where I had a blast. As it stands now I met my goal of keeping on the podium in the overall and I also met my goal of cutting more time off my finishes so that I could actually be racing in the SS pack. This year I began to feel more like an actual 'expert' rider instead of a sport rider beating himself to death riding SS. I didn't DFL nearly as much, in fact I might have to remove that from my resume now.

This season also saw the introduction of a feeding system that really works for me. I needed a convenient way to eat so that I could eat more frequently to keep my energy levels constant. Some of the more technical courses didnt have enough places to grab a bite (safely), maybe for some riders, but not me. I tried Clif Bloks this year and they are gonna be my new jam. Less mess, quicker to eat and I can store them loose in my little pouch right up by my headset. After I got the hang of it I could quickly grab and eat two every 15-20 mins. This made a huge difference and my nutrition was very consistent all year, no real major bonking issues and in most cases I felt great going into the latter portions of races.

The other hurdle I have finally overcome this year is my confidence levels. The first two years I had sort of resigned myself to getting annihilated by the ridiculously fast SS class. If a guy was in front of me and started to pull away I would always let them go, thinking there was no way I could hold the pace anyway. Over the last few years as I have gotten faster and my times have gotten closer to the untouchables my thought process has begun to change and I find myself thinking at times 'hey I was pretty close to him last race, maybe I can hold his wheel a bit longer this time'. This progressed all season and going into the last race I KNEW I could beat Jake if I had a good day. This was a big shift in thinking for me and it had a big impact on my riding. When I caught Jake on the start of the second lap, I wasn't thinking that I just got lucky and I should just ride his wheel if I can and hope he gets a mechanical (that was the old me). I immediately started thinking about which part of the course I should attack him. Your body almost always has more in it than your brain is willing to admit and having the confidence in yourself to push past your brain was the next thing I needed to accomplish. I proved to my brain that I can hang with some real fast bike riders which I think will pay dividends next year when I take on even harder challenges. (i.e. racing for 24 hours straight)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

EFTA NECS '08 #8 Treasure Valley Rally

This was the first race this year that was held at a new venue...and I loved it. This course suited me very well. Wide open climbs that let me use my improving power-to-weight ratio and nice technical descents to weed out the roadies who can still beat me on the climbs.



(*photos courtesy of BACMtman at the EFTA forum, nice of him to post/share*)

It was held at a scout camp in Rutland, MA on all private land, the place was HUGE. Over 1600 acres with enough room for a 9 mile loop. I went into this race barely holding onto 2nd place in the overall. Two guys were threatening at about 15 and 25 points behind. One of the guys is out of my league (right now) but the other I thought I might have a fighting chance at beating. I have come within 2-3 mins of him a few times this year but could never quite bridge that gap.

The race started pretty well. I was able to stay with the group for the first mile or so and I was holding Jake Berry's wheel (the guy I thought I might have a chance of beating). We started catching the masters shortly after that and as Jake and I tried to get around one of them, we bottlenecked and I was moving too slow and was forced off my line and hit a rock that was a bit too big for my 29er wheels and I pulled a slow speed endo. Unfortunately for me I put my hands out to break my fall and ended up spraining my right index finger pretty good.

Holding the bars was pretty challenging after that not to mention braking. I lost Jake and was feeling kinda bummed. I still charged on, hoping that Jake would have some bike troubles or something. A few miles later I lost it a bit in a really technical rocky section and went over the bars and tweaked my finger, YET AGAIN. Now braking was completely out of the question, which made things really interesting. I kept trudging on, the second half of the course was a bit less technical so I was moving right along.

I was able to hop on the wheel of a fellow Central NH NEMBA member, Jesse, who towed me through to the start of the 2nd lap. Coming through the start area I look ahead of Jesse and who do I see but Jake Berry. This got the adrenaline flowing and almost immediately my finger started to feel quite a bit better. I could brake and grip the bars and I knew that I had a shot. I rode behind him for a bit and saw that he seemed to be struggling a bit. He was stretching his back and I decided that I had to make my move at the next fireroad climb so I could gap him before he could react.

I made my move and immediately had a gap. I kept the pressure on and got out of site. I continued to push it with Jesse in tow. Crossing a power line section in a technical spot that I was walking I look back and see Jake at the beginning of the section. This worried me, I think I might have pissed him off, and I knew I was going to have to push myself into cramp land. In retrospect I think that was Jake's last ditch effort to catch back on and when I had some more gas left when I saw him that was it. Jesse and I stayed together for most of the rest of the 2nd lap and I ended up finishing 4th of 5, 2 mins in front of Jake.

I was beaten by the other guy who was threatening my second place spot (but only by 6 mins, just last year he was beating me by 15-20 mins) so I lost that spot but by beating Jake I have held onto 3rd. I am not going to the last race in Maine and as long as Jake doesn't either I will have that position locked. I am super pumped that I was finally able to break into that 'upper echelon' of fast SS guys. Perfect way to end the season.

Now I just have to heal my finger and my leg. Why my leg? you might ask. Well, I removed the stitches from my recent mole removal last Tuesday aaaaaand I busted the wound open somehow during the race. I had it all taped up but to no avail. Looks like I will have to take some time off the trails and stick to the road to let that wound heal up. Works out...I need more road miles for the next big race, the Pinnacle Challenge.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Commuting Stats

Figured since I hit a milestone I would post some 'to-date' stats for my commuting this year. A few days ago I rode into work my 50th day since starting on April 7th. Using some rough estimates entered into an online calculator (found here) I figured out some values for what I have saved so far this year:

At the current price of gas ($3.76) I have saved $82.50 since April 7th. and considering gas has been considerably more expensive than that for most of the summer I think I could safely round that up to $100, if not more.

The Echo has not put 433lbs of CO2 into the air that it would have if I had been driving it for those 50 days. That means I have about 19.6% of a Carbon Credit earned so far. Not too shabby.

Not sure how many more days I will get in this year, the original goal was 100 days but that doesn't look to be too realistic at this point, I'm sure I will run out of daylight before I can hit that mark. So the goal has been modified to 1000 miles commuted. I am currently at 700 miles which means I will need another 22 days to hit my mark. I will be cutting it close, but I think I can do it. An 'atypical mole' removed from my leg is keeping me off the bike for a few days as well as some very sketchy flash flooding in the area due to all this rain. But hopefully I will be back racking up days soon.

Monday, August 4, 2008

EFTA NECS '08 #7 Fort Rock Revenge

Racing at Fort Rock is always interesting. Especially when its nice and slick from some passing storms the night before. This years edition of the course was a good use of the trail system I thought. There were a few more hike-a-bike sections than I would have liked but I think that was more a combination of the slick roots and the lack of gears, I'm sure other riders rode a bit more of the course just fine.

Early on I felt really good. I was riding mid pack and feeling strong, riding clean. Then the experts caught us (I hate it when promoters start the SS'ers before all the experts, it never works well). The traffic made it difficult to get the good lines, I lost my rhythm and had a hard time getting it back. Couldn't stay on my bike, kept dabbing and bobbling and a loose cleat didn't help matters.

About half way through the first lap the traffic finally spread out a bit and I was able to get going, unfortunately once I was really moving I came to a rather abrupt stop. Coming up to a little rocky step up with a quick left right move required I hooked a bar end on a sapling and went down/into the woods pretty hard. Knee to rock, Head/Ear to another sapling and I had to start all over getting my rhythm back. Luckily things loosened back up and the rest of the race went a bit better.

I was able to get on the wheel of a local for awhile and I had a blast...nothing like following someone who knows all the lines through the super technical spots. Passed a SS'er on the last lap and ended up coming in 7th of 10 starters. Took 3 minutes off my time at Fort Rock from last year and I beat Adam. Granted he had some drivetrain issues and hasn't been racing much this year but I'll take it haha.

My 7th place finish got me enough points to stay in second in the overall standings, but not by much. I am going to need to muster some serious speed at the next race (and possibly have some people not show up) if I want to keep that spot. The two guys threatening are very fast and I have a feeling at least one of them is going to show for the next two races and I'm only planning on doing 1 of them. Only time will tell.