Gear Grinder 2014

Saturday I embarked on a new endeavor: endurance mountain bike racing! The Henderson County Young Leaders Program was hosting a 6 hour race on the campus of Falling Creek Camp. I was hoping to do the race since I found out about it in January, but wasn’t sure if my schedule would allow it. But with some delegation I was able to take off work and get to race my bike and support something awesome in my county!

The Gear Grinder had several categories between solo and duo. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for solo with the amount of riding I’d been doing lately, so Annie and I decided to team up for what was a first time race for both of us!

 

 

Transitioning from one lap to another
Transitioning from one lap to another

The race started at 10am, and Annie took the first lap. Our goal was to complete 6 laps before the 4pm cut-off, alternating laps with my final lap finishing. I knew it would be tight! Annie pulled in 3 awesome laps, each in under 60 minutes that allowed me with my slightly longer lap times to finish by 3:54pm! The course itself was amazing! It started with a mile long gravel climb with an average 10% grade before entering the singletrack circling the top of the camp. Then the last 3+ miles was an amazing descent, making all the climbing worth it! My first lap ended up 57 minutes, followed by two 1:03 minute laps. It was close to the finish, but I finished with 6 minutes before the cut-off. An endurance race has several competitive components–you’re racing against other people (regardless of category, it’s always a race!), racing against the teams or racers in your category, and racing against the clock. The clock adds such an intense element, it doesn’t make mistakes and keeps going!

Amazing scenery at Falling Creek Camp!
Amazing scenery at Falling Creek Camp!

Being my first experience with a duo endurance race I wasn’t quite sure what to expect! It was weird not starting with everyone at 10am, and the wait/recovery between laps was interesting. It reminded me a little of BMX where you have your moto, then wait for the next. You get hyped up from the lap, but then need to immediately eat, stretch and rest before warming back up and waiting to start your next lap. I did fairly well with my recovery time, but there are improvements I can make the next time, specifically more stretching, hydration and food!

GG Podium
Duo Female Podium

We were excited to see what there were two other female duo teams signed up. We would rather have a race than by default end up in first place! Overall, it was a great event! One of the best things about it was that I knew so many of the people racing, including one of the other Pure Velo’s, Jaime who tacked solo!

 

 

 

Thank you to HCYLP for a great race, and to the race sponsors like Sycamore Cycles, Foxworth Advisers, and Falling Creek Camp! I also have to thank my boss for loaning me a wheel after I broke one of mine a couple weeks ago while pre-riding the course! Whoops! Can’t slow my roll!  I’m looking forward to next year and can’t wait to do more endurance races!

 

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Fontana Dam Jam Race Report

Better late than never, eh?

Last Sunday I raced the Fontana Dam Jam at Lake Fontana, NC. The race was #12 of the Southern Classic Series. After a summer of very little racing, I decided that I had to do at least one cross country race before transitioning to cyclocross. I knew it was going to be a test of my fitness and technical skills, as well as a new experience being my Cat 1 race AND first non-collegiate cross country. Add to that never riding any trails at Fontana ever!

At the start
At the start

The women’s Pro-Cat 1 field was slated to start at 9:30am and race three 8 miles laps. At the start, they combined the field with the Cat 2 women and reduced the race to 2 laps. I was relieved, the closer I got to racing, the more trepidation I felt. I knew my fitness wasn’t really where it needed to race such a demanding race, especially as a Cat 1. Still, I decided that it was better to race than not race! Long story short, my start was semi-decent, but I lost several places going into the woods and didn’t recover. Mentally I was struggling with my decision to race and the difficulty of the course. It was either constant climbing or fast and technical descents. I have to remind myself at times that I am not the rider I wish I was, I’ve still only have two years of riding down, and that it’s not collegiate anymore. Towards the end of the first lap, there was a .5 mile climb at 21%. When I hit it, it was like I hit something strong in myself. I knew I could make it, it would be slow but there would be no walking. After that point I started to enjoy the trails, focused on maintaining a good speed and flow and going for it. It helped that soon after was a super speedy and fun piece of singletrack that made me happy with life again (Icycle DH segment on Strava).  The rest of the race was like the course for me, mentally and physically up and down. It was hot and humid, typical NC stuff, and I’ll be the first to admit that I was under prepared for this race. But, I finished. I got up, I went and rode, I battled myself, and I didn’t quit. Sometimes that all I can ask of myself.

Almost finished!
Almost finished!

Mikey also raced and won his Cat 2 race with a 5 minute margin, but got DQ’ed based on a technicality. We all know who the real winner was though.

Mikey coming into the finish
Mikey coming into the finish

 

After all is said and done, I did what I could! The trails at Fontana are amazing, and I can’t wait to spend some time out there for more leisurely riding. NC is a great place to be a mountain biker for sure!

What’s next? Cyclocross training baby! I’ll have more exciting news about cyclocross soon!

Bonus:

Skratch love
Skratch love

I would have died without the Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix! Get some at Beer City Bicycles!

Celebration Racing

So a large part of my life during the past five years has been centered on my education pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in recreation. Well, that time has finally come to end, and I’ve completed my undergrad! Graduation is tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited! So, what better way to celebrate not only the end of a semester (a huge relief in of itself) and the end of my undergrad than with a race?!

One type of racing that seems to get overlooked in this area is short track cross country races (hence the Summer Series at Jackson Park this summer!). Last year I did notice a once a month race series in Greenville, but only after the series had ended. The initial Greenville Short Track Series 2013 race was last night, so I registered and headed down. I was a little worried as I drove through heavy rain and thunder storms, but thankfully the bad weather was no where in sight when I got to the Riverbend Equestrian Park.

After checking in and getting my number, I pre-rode the course. It was mostly wooded singletrack, with some gravel and grass sections. From what I heard, the course was just under a mile long. There were a couple climbs that would make each lap fun, but I was feeling focused and ready to race! Since I’m a collegiate A, my normal racing license puts me as a Cat 1 in cross country, short track and downhill. Needless to say, I’m usually in the bottom of the field when competing with Cat 1’s and 2’s. But I look at it as even more motivation to train hard!

Short Track  May 9

There ended up being 3 women, including myself, and about 10-15 guys in the expert/pro field. From the start it was super close! I had a rough start, but soon got on the wheel of Nina as we started into the woods. We three women ended riding together for at least half of race, with me in the front (climbs are were I get my pass on!), until Nina attacked and was out of there! Cat, a rider from Clemson who I recognized from collegiate races stayed right with me until the end, driving me to not let up and keep my 2nd place position. I felt strong on my climbs, and really can tell that my recent workouts at Spin-Tech Training are making me stronger and faster.

There was a little confusion at the end, where they yelled “finish” but neither of really understood. Just to be sure, we did another lap with Cat taking the hole shot into the woods and holding her position for the remainder of the lap.

Since there were 3 of us, we all got prize money! Getting a payout is still really exciting for me!

I really liked this race since it was so close. Even when Nina was ahead of me I could see her which kept me going as hard a possible to try and catch up. I’m really not used to 1) being in the front of the women’s field for so long or 2) having such a close race! Usually I’m there in the middle/lower middle of the field all by myself, just pedaling along. It was really exciting to have to give it everything I could to make sure I kept my spot.

I did learn a couple things last night: the better your technical skills and line choice, the faster you’ll go. And don’t stop pedaling! I’ll also be working on my starts.

 

All in all, it was more fun and better than I expected! Plus, I got to wear my snazzy Beer City Bicycles kit! Can’t wait for my next race!