Monday, July 31, 2006

24-9 - Race or Survival

In my short cycling career I have experienced many types of races, one however I have never tried was a 24 hour race. This weekend Cory, Bill, Chris, and myself all threw down our season best efforts at a podium finish for the National Championships. Cathy and I got to Wausau friday night the weather was forecasted to be hot and sunny. Just as we were getting ready to head off to bed Bob calls and warned us about a storm cell that just popped up and was heading our direction. We loaded all the bikes in the team truck and tied down for the storm. The next morning we woke up to rain, wind, and a flooded pit area.
I was the first one out so I got dressed and went for a short ride to spin the sleep out of my legs. We started with about a 1/4 mile run to our bikes, I had a good run and was the 4th rider across the start line heading out to the first of my 13.5 mile laps. The course was really wet but I think these are probably the best trails in Wisconsin or even the Midwest for wet riding conditions. By the time Cathy went out for her first lap the trails had dried up really good. She wasn't sure what team or event she was going to do up to this last week. Two of our teams had kinda died out so they combined and put together a 5 person team. She did not like the course at all during the WORS race but loved the way this course was layed out and knocked off a 1:16 hour lap.
So this is how the rest of the day went, drink water, go ride, drink gatorade, clean up, drink water, eat, drink gatorade, relax, drink water while mixing gatorade! It got really humid so keeping the fluids going was going to be key to survival. I was the last person on the team to run in daylight getting in just after the 7pm mandatory light time. Before loosing the sun light I put my light on right away after getting back to the pits. I used heavy duty masking tape, like I have used all summer, to hold the battery. Turns out I have never used that in 100% humidity and streams of sweet pouring over it. When I was out on my first night lap I got about half way through before one piece of tape let loose, this caused the battery to swing and unplug itself. I had to stop twice because of this, finally I got it to stay on but the third time the entire battery just fell off. Fortunately another rider stopped and gave me light to find my battery, and reroute the cables to my back pocket. I made it in with a slow 1:07 lap. Cathy went out for her first night lap and was riding really well until hitting a tough rooted section. She crashed and really gashed her elbow good. She quickly got up and assessted the cut donating blood not only to the trail but all over her bike as well...SWEET!! She rode to the next aid station where they cleaned her up a little before finishing the lap. Once she got in and cleaned up a little she headed into the hospital for stitches. Here is the conversation while the doctor was stitching her up at 4:15am:
'Doctor' "How did this happen"
'Cathy' "Riding my bicycle"
'Doctor' "So what time did this happen?"
'Cathy' "About 1.5 hours ago."
'Doctor' "WHAT you where riding your bicycle at 2:30 in the morning!? Did you just get out of bed and decide to go for a bike ride?"
'Cathy' "Well actually I haven't gone to bed yet...I am doing that 24 hour race at 9 mile."
'Doctor' "You must be crazy! Here I will put some extra wrap on in case you decide to do another lap or something."
While she was at the hospital storm #2 was brewing FAST. I had just finished my second night lap and quickly tore down camp before everything got wet again. About 5 minutes after I finished it started raining harder than I have ever seen! Cory was out on the course at the time and got stopped at an aid station. The race got stopped for a while so the race officials could decide what to do. Problem with this is that it took all the time gaps out of the race. Cory came in and I went out on a mission to gain some time back in the bad conditions. I had an awesome lap, probably one of my fastest only to find out that the race had been called off due to tornado warnings and that they froze the field the lap before it rained. I was pretty bummed to here that both Cory and my efforts in the mud where for not.
We ended up 4th in the Nationals and 5th over all the teams. Not too bad for just a local team who had never done a 24 hour race before. Cathy's team had a wonderful 5th place finish out of 25 teams in the 5 person category!
Driving home was a struggle and we pretty much just crashed as soon as we got in the house. This week will be a lot of cleaning, recovery, and eating.
Haven't pulled the pictures off the camera yet, so check back tomorrow for a picture blog.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Let's go RACING!!

The weather this year has been so wierd, yestarday we got 4-5 inches of rain in Madison but at home we didn't get anything and were able to ride off road! The group ride was really small, partly because everyone was home packing or afraid of the weather. The few that showed up went out for a little ride. When we got home it was frantic pack time. Neither of use have done a 24 hour race so I am sure we brought more than what we need. Cathy went to bed once all the cloths and food was packed and I went down and worked on the bikes, nothing like waiting till the last minute.
So the lights are charged, the tires are sealed, the brakes have fresh stoppers, and a set of mud tires are in the truck just in case.
Check back later this weekend for a race wrap-up and some much over due pictures.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Phillips - WORS #7

Last week Cathy and I loaded up and headed out Wednesday right after work for a much needed vacation. Cathy's Aunt was having a 60th b-day party up at there place in Ely, MN...literally 10-12 miles from the Canadian border! Despite the incredibly long drive it was well worth the time to relax. After the party on Saturday we loaded up and headed down to Phillips. We got in kinda late so we couldn't pre-ride what turned out to be a pretty new course. Traditionally Phillips is mostly ski trails with some single track. This year was a lot more single track and made for a better race.
Sunday started with a hint of rain here and there, then cleared up and turned into a perfect day of racing. I was hoping to cherry pick a little at this race, I figured high gas prices, a long drive, and with Super Week it should be a smaller field. I was kinda right, we only had around 40 guys, but of that only 2 of the top 20 were missing, so much for an easy race. We hit the road lead out and I was sitting in a decent spot. I hung out with a group of 5 and each lap we lost 1-2 guys. On my 3rd of 5 laps I started to really hurt I hit a few clif bloks and doubled my water intake, all of the sudden the legs came around and the power was back. I got around a few guys and figured I had to be doing decent because I was lapping a ton of Comp riders. On the lead-in to the finish we were slopping through the only wet spot in the state of Wisconsin when a single speeder just flew past me! I tried to get on his wheel but he was on a mission, on the last hill I threw down an attack, and closed the gap. Once we were on the road he looked at me and said "I think you got me here". He was right, I grabbed a few gears and was gone. Despite having a full field I pulled out a season best 12th place over all and got on the podium again for my age group.
As I mentioned earlier we didn't get to pre-ride which was good because otherwise Cathy probably wouldn't have raced. The course was really rough and she was bouncing around a lot on the hardtail. She wasn't too excited to race but got out there anyhow and even though she didn't feel too good was able to hold a strong pace. She was going back and forth with a couple girls and was ahead of a few girls that normally put the hurt on. On the last lap a girl she was riding with crashed pretty hard, even though she didn't want to, Cathy used that to put a gap on her and was able to hold that for an....8th place finish!! After figuring out the points yesterday that is going to put her in 10th place overall, good enough for a call up at Calumet! This has been a tough season in a harder class but Cathy is really stepping up and throwing down some very solid finishes.
This weekend is 24-9, we are getting everything finalized. Cathy finally got her team plans together, she is doing a Co-ed 5 person 24 hour team. I have a few more night rides this week and then lots of rest. The plan this week is eat and sleep. I know I haven't kept this up todate, but I will get a few post this week leading to the race.
Out for now, Neil

Friday, July 14, 2006

Boycotting the heat

There is two things that my body absolutely rejects: heat and shoe shopping - neither of which I have any control against. The race at Eau Claire a couple weeks ago was HOT!! After a full week of feeling crummy Cathy got sick, probably from being so wore down and slept for like 18 hours, I didn't get sick but it did take me the entire week to start feeling better. I tried to get my rides in late in the day or early in the morning but was still struggling with the heat wearing me down. Finally I decided to boycott the heat altogether and ride at night. Everyday this week my rides have started at 9-9:30pm. By then things are starting to cool off and I have noticed that I am feeling a ton better too. In addition to avoiding the heat the night riding has been helping prepare for 24-9 later this month.
So what's is store for this weekend? This:
Traditionally the race this weekend is always on the hottest weekend of the summer and this year is forecasted to be exactly that. With 105 degree heat index it is going to be a cooker. It should be interesting to see how everything pans out, will people go out hard like normal and blow up, will the pace be a little slower because of the heat (I know mine will be). All in all this is a pretty fun course so it shouldn't be too bad.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

WORS #5 - Eau Claire

This is quickly becoming my favorite race of the series. We drove up on Saturday with the new rack. As a side note, anyone that is looking for a bike rack this could possibly be the best thing since sliced bread! The bikes load so easy and quickly even when you are dead tired from the race!
Typically when you head north things get a little cooler, not the case here. When we got into town and got the tent set up it was topping 90+ degrees. We loaded up with water and headed out for preride. There was one rocky downhill that Cathy was really struggling with, after about 5 tries we changed plans and she decided to run down it during the race.
Sunday turned out to be even hotter than the day before. I walked around with an umbrella all morning trying to keep from burning up before the race. Even though it wasn't part of the Minnesota Series this year there was still a really good turnout in the Expert field. Before I knew it we were off and the dust was flying! Everyone was really jockeying for position going into the first single track, and despite some people forgetting how to ride we all made it in smoothly. I was feeling pretty good and was pushing a pretty hard pace. I knew the heat was going to take it's toll but I wanted to get moved up as far as I could before that happened. Sure enough on the 3rd of 4 laps I started to feel the heat. I was cold and shivering every time I came out of the woods, and a few times things were getting blurry. I ate a bunch of my clif bloks and drank all my water to try and pull things together. By the end of the lap I came back around and could put the power down again. Good thing because during that time I dropped back to 20-23 place. I just floored it the last lap moving up the 17th. Coming out of the final single track a guy got on my wheel. I tried to push the pace and shake him but he was already in the finish sprint. I stood up and grabbed 3 gears. We sprinted side-by-side for the last 150 yrds. of the race...I got him by 1 bike length at the line!
Meanwhile Cathy was having a really good race herself. She took off with a new strategy to stay on the main packs wheel as long a possible. She was feeling good and as they approached the downhill section she planned on running, everyone else rode it so she sat back and just hung on riding it like a champ!! With that added confidence she upped the pace and for the first time felt like she was really racing. She was hanging on and dropping girls throughout the rest of the race. When she finally made it to the line she was sitting just outside the top 10 in 12th spot!!
We were both pretty burnt from the heat so after a quick cool down we loaded up the truck and headed home. The next couple days were much needed recovery rides. That brings us up to today. I think we are going to stay in town tonight and depending on how we feel do some Time Trials around rockport...if it is hot we might end up in the pool by the time it is all said and done.