Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Super Six

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with Kyle late on a Friday afternoon and whining about another weekend of riding the mountain bike on the road. He was signed up to do the Dirty Dozen on a 4-person team the next day and I was jealous that he was going to ride dirt - even if it was going to be muddy. Being the person that he is I got "Come down and do the 6 hour!" as a response. We went back and forth with "I can't - not enough notice"; "Do it!"; "Dad will get mad if I get my bike dirty"; "Do it on the SS!"; I can't....; Yes, you can...

A little bit later I was talking to Alan and told him that Kyle was trying to talk me into coming down and doing the race. Expecting support in my decision to be a responsible adult, instead I heard "Why not - go ahead". o.O "Really?" "Really!" "I shouldn't." "If you didn't want to do it, you wouldn't of said anything, so go." With that final comment I finished up what I was working on, straightened my desk and bid the ladies at work a good weekend, then hauled butt home to load up and head back down to the ATX. When I got home I found Alan getting things together for me, so no question about him being OK with this.

With the late start I got the pleasure of sitting in rush hour traffic and adding an extra hour to the drive. It was a bit late when I got to the apartment, quite late by time we called it a night and ridiculously early when the alarm went off 4-1/2 hours later. Before the sun was up we had made it to the ranch, found Kyle's teammates and scored a sweet parking spot close to the transition area.

The race has a Le Mans start where all the racers have to run to their bikes. One of Kyle's teammates was holding my bike for me, which was nice. The only problem was that I didn't know where she was in the group of other holders. I finally found Kim and tried to jump on the bike and forgot that it's a 29er and didn't throw my leg up high enough. I finally got on the bike without falling over, barely, and just hoped that this wasn't an indication of how the day was going to be. I only had one other "oops - wrong bike" moment when I went to shift gears that the single-speed didn't have.

The first lap was pretty uneventful, just riding the course and getting the hang of a bike that didn't have gears. The trail condition wasn't too bad; water in the low spots and some sections that were definitely mushy. I went straight into the second lap getting comfortable with the bike and knowing what I could and could not ride and where I needed to save up some energy to get up and over. I was feeling pretty good and planning on a little break after finishing the lap. I was coming up on a little rooty down, less than a mile from the finish, when next thing I know I'm off the bike, going over the bars and then hitting the ground - hard. I catch my breath, do a quick assessment (good thing the ground was soft!) and get going again.

Time to take a little break, get some food, change out of my now muddy jersey, put on dry socks and head out on lap three. While some sections of the trail were developing some deep muddy sections that you had to keep your momentum up or you were going to get bogged down, other sections where actually drying out and looking quite nice. The third lap was pretty uneventful, when I got to me previous crash site I got off the bike to walk down and about that time another racer passed me and next thing I see is his feet in the air. OK, so walking that wasn't such a bad idea. I finish the lap and take another little break for food and fresh drink.

Back on the bike for lap four, the mud pits are getting deeper and longer and I'm starting to feel riding a bigger bike without gears. I'm getting a little tired and am riding a little more cautiously... which is not always a good thing. If you look at this picture of me you'll see a tree on the side of the trail. Well on the 4th lap, I hit a root or something because suddenly I'm traveling in a direction not of my choosing. I see the tree approaching my face quickly, I get my hand up to take the brunt of the impact (better than my face!) and then the bike and I tumble off to the side and land in a tangled heap. I guess it was dramatic enough looking of a crash that several people stopped to make sure I was OK. Once I find out that no one had a camera running I assure everyone that I'm alright and get free of my bike and back on the trail. I finish that lap (once again walking the 1st crash site... and seeing someone else crash there) and head for the pit.

I vacillate over whether or not to go out for another lap, finally I decide that going out will only lead to another crash and I call the race done after four laps. I finished 5th out of 7 solo women for the 6 hour race and I was 3rd of the three of us that did the event on single-speeds. If I had continued for a 5th lap I probably would of finished 4th overall and I may have been able to move into 3rd if I could have done a 6th lap... but shoulda, woulda, coulda - I didn't, so it doesn't matter. As Alan said - I can always redeem myself next year.

Assorted race pictures
Kyle's race report

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Getting closer...

Fast forward a week.

We made a road trip to the ATX with plans for some bike riding and to take Kyle out to dinner to celebrate his 21st birthday.

Oh, wait... let's back up a bit. While we were eating our post-TueNightCX/ST dinner with Amber and Mack, Amber mentioned that the Big D Stair Climb was coming up and since the guys have been doing stairs for training they should enter the event. Of course it soon turned into a I'll do it if you do it challenge. Within a few minutes both of the guys had agreed to do the event that next Saturday morning. (Prior to this Alan had done 50+ flights of stairs, but it was 16 flights up/down at a time. Neither of the guys had done a straight run of 52 flights or 1020 steps).

Come Saturday morning we were up early and head downtown to meet up with Mack and Amber and then it was on to the Fountain Place building. The guys registered, put on their numbers and timing chips, then lined up for their turn at the stairs. Not knowing how long this would take - Alan was shooting for a time in the 8 - 13 minute range - Amber and I found a place to people watch and wait for the guys to race up and then come back down.

After a bit the guys showed up and then we were off to breakfast. Official times would not be posted until later and we needed to eat before driving to Austin. Alan and Mack did tell us that they were not passed by anyone and that they made steady progress through the "climbers" that started ahead of them. Alan sprinted the final four floors, through the door and then took a well earned break before coming back down.

OK - back in the ATX. We met Kyle at his place, changed into riding clothes and head out for a road ride that started in downtown Austin

and meandered to the west to Bee Caves Road and finally to the Cuernavaca neighborhood loop. A nice 40ish mile ride which Kyle says is flat for Austin. Well, flat in the ATX does not equal flat in the BigD. It was a good workout ride for me and although Alan was hurting the first part of the ride (go figure), he got his cycling legs going and we had a good ride back finishing up with a ride through campus.

While enjoying some post-ride/birthday BBQ for dinner, Alan got a call from Mack with the results from the stair climb. Alan's time was 8:52 (yes, that's 8 minutes and 52 seconds!), which placed him in 20th overall of 600+ climbers and 1st in his age group.

I'm getting closer to a bit more current events. Hopefully, I'll be writing about February events in February!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Moving forward

Fast forward a couple weeks and we are now well into January.

We had been hearing about a new event - The Red River Riot:

The course will be a unique combination of singletrack, dirt roads, gravel roads, Jeep roads and as little actual pavement as we need to tie it all together for well over 100 miles of off road greatness for the strongest of the strong.

Staging, mid point and finish will all take place at the historic Breaks at Bar H mountain bike ranch. From there we will ride approximately 50 miles of dirt roads, etc through the toughest terrain we can find. Riders will return to Bar H as the mid point for a lap of singletrack and then proceed out for another adventurous 50 miles throughout the Red River Valley. Only the toughest will be able to make the cutoff times and return for final lap of singletrack (probably at night) at Bar H.

We kept hoping for some dry trails, but decided that if there wasn't any rain in the forecast we would drive up for this. Alan would do the full 100+ and I just wanted to beat the 1/2-way point cut-off with plenty of time to contemplate doing the full distance.

The forecast for Saturday was a chance of rain, with the rain to hit later in the day. We made the drive up Friday night. If it was raining in the morning, we would head back home, if not we would drive out to the ranch. Saturday morning was overcast, but no rain - so off to the ranch we went. A few sprinkle drops on the way out, but not enough to turn around. The dirt road into the ranch was in good shape and it wasn't raining so we changed clothes and put on our race numbers.

Everyone gathers for the pre-ride instructions. Since there had been rain recently, the ranch singletrack trails were too wet to ride, so the event would be on the road only.

The recap of the event was best said by the promoter:
122 riders set out at 8am on a gorgeous Saturday morning for the First Annual Red River Riot. By 8:01 am the rains came down and didn’t let up until the middle of that afternoon. After all was said and done only 10% of the starters completed the full 105 mile course mostly made up of dirt roads through the scenic Red River Valley.

For the most part, the roads weren't that bad. It was messy, but with the exception of a couple sections it was still very rideable. Although my goal of reaching the mid-point cut off with plenty of time to decide to not do the full distance, turned into just get back to the ranch... it would be a bonus if I finished before the cut off.

I made it back to the ranch, with plenty of time to debate going back out...

I was surprised to see Alan at the car, already cleaned up and changed. Ends up that the mud was playing havoc on his drive train. His bike was shifting gears all on it's own, so to avoid further damage he called it a day.

More pictures of the event can be found at Ric Ceron's website.

All for now, it's time for bed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Wow - it's already February! I keep meaning to write stuff then I get sidetracked/lazy/distracted and nothing gets done. I'm going to try to get things caught up, from our White Christmas to now. It may come in bits and pieces, but lets see what I can do.

White Christmas, 2009

This picture was taken on Christmas Eve and if you look you will notice something that is very peculiar for Christmas Eve in the Big D. See that white stuff on the ground? Yeah, that. It's called snow.

From the news of the day:
According to the Weather Service, it has snowed on Christmas Eve only a couple of times, but not enough to officially measure. Here are the highlights:
• 1943: Flurries fell for about a half-hour.
• 1955: The high was 88 degrees, a record.
• 1975: After continuous cold rain most of the day, there was a trace of flurries.
• 1983: The low hit 7 degrees, a record.
• 2002: There were flurries but no accumulation.

The snow on Christmas Eve led to an even more eventful White Christmas, which the area hasn't seen since 1926. (History: A prolonged snow event began on December 23 when 4-6 inches of snow fell from Brownwood to Comanche. On Christmas Day, 6 inches of snow fell across Dallas and Collin County. The official climate site at Fort Worth recorded 2 inches of snow, but the Weather Bureau office in Dallas measured 6.4 inches December 24-25, 6.3 inches of which fell on Christmas Day. Much of the snow was gone by the afternoon of Christmas Day.) Unlike the snow of 1926, this snow lingered for several days.


And what would a White Christmas be without a special gift from Santa Claus...
and what better on a White Christmas than a new white bike?

I know, I know... you're thinking that last thing she really needs is a new bike. That was also my thought, I have my mountain bike and a road bike. I'm not interested in track racing, so what else could I possible need? Apparently Santa thought that my "stable" was missing a single speed bike with 29" wheels and Santa being Santa, well - he fixed that problem.

Well, that's all for now... more later. I promise.