Wednesday, July 29, 2009

L'Canada? Oui s'il vous plaît

So this past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a bachelor party in Quebec. Ben is one of the early birds in the Zoo family to get hitched and his bach'fest has set an extremely high standard. I almost don't even really know where to begin but I think this post will focus more on the biking aspect of the trip, seeing as that is the primary focus of this blog and that most of the other things that happen at bachelor parties are not 'G' rated. Hi Mom!

We rented a "slopeside" condo at Mont St. Anne (about 30mins northeast of Quebec City) for the weekend to catch the World Cup MTB events and to get some riding in of our own. I had never been to a world cup or up that north into Canada so I was pretty pumped.

Watching the best downhillers in the world was pretty humbling. Those guys go stupid fast into extremely gnarly blind lines. Very fun to watch and I was actually able to snag a few decent shots with my walmart special pink camera. Never saw any crashes up close and personal though, oh well.


The whole group was able to snag a ride on the cross country trails surrounding the mountain on Saturday and Dustin and I were the only troopers able to muster another ride on Sunday. To be honest I wasn't too impressed with their XC terrain. I was expecting a lot more but it seems like the resort focuses all their effort on their World Cup courses and I suppose I can't blame them. That is where all the money is for them. At best their XC is 80% double track and 20% single and in reality its probably more like 95% double and 5% single at least from what I could tell by the trails we rode.

But to their credit they really maxed out the available real estate and you can get very 'removed' on a ride and really get a cool adventure feel. Partially lost, partial exploration...nothing wrong with that but I was just expecting a bit more singletrack goodness. And dont get me wrong just because its double track does not mean it was all easy. Lots of climbing and some interesting steep/fast descending with loose rocks and some washout.

no earthly way of knowing...



no one will hear you l'scream

it was hilarious how out in the middle of nowhere this hut was

We got a solid 14 miles or so on Saturday with aobut 4000ft of climbing

and Dustin and I followed that up with another 14-15 on Sunday with another 4500ft of climbing

And for an interesting cross reference those two rides combined is almost exactly the distance and amount of climbing that I did in 6hrs at Pat's Peak this year.

So to sum it all up I can't think of the last time I jammed that many activities into an extended weekend. Very little sleep and all kinds of action. World Cup racing, big rides, big raves, historic cities with Euro appeal, epic clubs, and did I mention no sleep? L'Awesome.

Au Revoir!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pat's Peak 6hr Solo '09

I have mixed feelings about my first foray into endurance racing. Some things went pretty well and some things went pretty poorly, but I guess that's probably the first lesson of the endurance game. Its never going to go perfect so you better be ready for it when things go south.

I got all my nutrition stuff figured out a day or two before and packed up a cooler full of goodies to stash at the race for me to hit in between laps. This brings me to the first thing that wasnt all that awesome. Pats Peak charged $15 for a 'tech tent area' in the start/finish and technically you weren't allowed to put anything in that area without paying. That was probably my only gripe with the organization of the event. Everything else was very well put together. I think a lot of the 6hr crowd was pretty pissed about the setup because really all most 6hr riders had was a cooler at most...not a tent / stand like a lot of the 12/24 racers.

bike race...not an eating contest

I was pretty pleased with how I handled my nutrition, especially not having any kind of frame of reference as to how my body was going to react to a longer effort. Never really cramped or had any bonks of any kind so that was one of the things that went well. I ended up bringing WAY too much food and fluid but I guess thats the way to do it. Certain foods worked and some I had trouble eating consistently. Things taste / go down different when you are in the pain cave.

The venue itself was pretty cool, defenitely had the festival feel.

start/finish tent with obligatory Red Bull inflata-banner

They set up a nice S turny thing down the slope to the finish. got pretty greasy by the end, very fun.

interesting crowd, the DHers were on hand as well preriding the course for tomorrow

The race started with a leMans start, which is pretty typical for an event like this. Basically bikes go across a field, and everyone runs to get their bike then mounts and takes off. Started off fine got in line about mid pack and got to the days business. Traffic was kind of annoying on the first lap, but there isnt much avoiding that. Much easier to just mass start in a timed event like this. About 15mins into the first lap things got 'hilarious'. I feel a sting/bite on my upper arm and look down to see a bee stuck in my flesh. AWESOME. I flick it off and keep on keepin on. Then on lap 2 at almost the same spot STUNG AGAIN. This time on my leg. What am I Dustin?? Completely ridiculous. Luckily I'm not allergic but I'm sure that didn't help my race physiology much.

Then we got to the climbs...oh the climbs. Ouch. I think I can speak for anyone without a granny ring up front at this race that those things sucked. First one was worse...way too steep even for my 9 speed, second lap I was already walking it, couldnt really get any decent power going in the heat. Did I mention these climbs were on exposed ski slopes in direct sunlight? Yeah, I'm not used to heat yet cause its been raining since May. Second one was more gradual and I could get a rhythm going. A ski resort is a tough place to do any kind of endurance racing without a full gear set. Anyone who pulls it off is badass in my book (myself included...kinda).

So of course I have some mechanical issue stories, I think that is probably also a staple of the endurance scene, unless you get really lucky I guess. End of my second lap I was heading down the descent at a pretty good clip (I passed a lot of riders on the main descent, all day really, but more so early when people were close together, pretty pumped about that.) and my best guess is that my low limit screw on my derailleur was set a bit lax and the vibration sent it behind the cassette just enough to get it jammed and when I went to downshift, all hell broke loose. luckily nothing snapped or broke but it was never the same after that. I unjammed it but I think the cabled stretched a bit and threw the indexing all out of whack. Long story short, my 9 speed was now a 3-4 speed off and on depending on terrain and mud as of lap 3. JOY.

Now to lap 4 but still on the descending topic. I was feeling good on the descent all day. Making passes and picking decent lines, smoothness was abundant. Unfortunately certain portions of certain lines were getting progressively more greasy the more riders hit the descent. I found out one portion had gone terminally greasy the hard way. Slightly off camper turn with some roots but nothing that couldn't be handled by just keeping the bike more upright, straightening out your line a tad just for a second and on your way. At least for laps 1-3. Lap 4 that scenario turned into wheels hit roots and immediately are out from under me. They slipped just enough to throw my center of gravity / balance way off but not enough to take me down right there. My wheels eventually caught in the trough of the turn and when they finally hooked up the force was too great for me to handle and by that point I was pointing directly at a tree.

For those keeping score, yes I rammed my bad shoulder right into a tree.

So needless to say descending after lap 4 was substantially slower due both to the mental impact of the crash and the fact that my shoulder was pretty sore and all those jarring impacts were not fun. It kind of eventually numbed itself out and I was able to keep truckin but I'll probably pay tomorrow morning. Only time will tell.

So yeah that was basically it, I managed to snag 3 more laps after my crash for a total of 7. My original goal had been 8-9 so I fell a tad short but I think it being my first time trying this format and the fact that I had a few issues here and there, I'm happy with the result. I didn't give up when I had plenty of pretty legitimate outs. And funny enough when I pulled in on my last lap mentally I was still okay, I probably could have kept going even though I was walking a lot of the course and physically breaking down. I guess that is a good sign? We'll see how the NH 100 goes in a month or so. I think I will like that format a bit better than this.

The Hard Data:

As for results, they will probably be posted soon. I don't imagine I placed very well. There were quite a few very fast individuals taking a crack at the 6hr format...Pro's and Semi-Pro's all over the place. Oh well, I would be psyched if I got top half of the field but I'm not even sure if that is later lap times were pretty slow, I would imagine the average rider could snag 8 laps on that course. Especially if they have all their gears. I'll post results when Pat's puts them up.


Did a bit better in the standings than I had anticipated. Ended up 17th of 30 (originally thought it was 14th but Pat's Peak printed the numbers wrong saying there was a 4 way tie for 11th, but there wasn't really) almost a mid field placing. And I was only a minute behind 16th and a lot of the riders who finished up with 8 laps were only about a half lap ahead of me and if things had gone differently for me I think I could have been right in there with 8-9 laps.