Sunday, May 29, 2011

I’m happy that I get to ride

So far this year hasn’t left me with much to write home about. Even my results at Tucker weren’t spectacular. I think I was last- or very near the end of the caboose for the ladies field(s)… This is pathetic I was telling myself as we rolled into the parking lot late. I’m not fit this year, just feel plain fat and didn’t even have drink mix for my bottles. So Tucker got the best of me. I’m some fourteen pounds heavier this year and trailing an hour behind the leaders… I’m not much faster in the woods. But I’m surprisingly okay with this.

Everyone tells me I’m fine- but fine is just average. Yes I want to lose weight and race faster and yes I feel guilty that I’m not a rockstar on our team. But even after looking at the photos from Tucker that Fred took- I still look happy. And I’ve felt like that after every race. Mountwood- I was perfectly content suffering like a dog in the heat and being completely dependent on my camelback for stores of h2o in a measly 24 mile cross country race. Green County was an even bigger wake up call, but after each I felt better. At Wisp I had a new gear ratio on my mountain bike so even though I wasn’t faster I felt like I had better momentum and finally after Tucker I feel like things are starting to fall back together.

Tour of Tucker- I can honestly say that until the final climb I definitely hadn’t given the race my best effort. I was off daydreaming from the start. From the moment I moved into the city I hated it, so racing this year is escape for me from the reprieve of concrete and buses. Every patch of gravel, sight of a small waterfall, running horses, and even miles of farms left me in a odd trance. I felt like I was home again and happy just to be out in the country riding. I actually felt a little homesick- So instead of powering up climbs, I took my good old time, oo’d and awe’d over the scenery then finally cooked myself on the final climb. I finished the race in 2:48. So maybe I got a better workout than the girl who finished in 2:00. I got to ride longer!

Racing- sometimes we forget isn’t always about being first. I’ve been first. Now I’ve been last and both can be equally satisfying. The problem is I’m never satisfied- so I’m going to keep working to get some of my fitness back and try to finish all of the scrawny mountain bike races I DNF’d last year. Up next- Stoopid 50, Lumberjack 100 and Hilly Billy Roubaix. It doesn’t matter to me at this point whether or not I win any of these races or even place on the podium. I’m happy that I get to ride this year and happy that I’m part of the less than one percent of Americans who actively participate in an endurance sport.

P.S. Thank you so much to the guy in the pickup who shared a bottle of water on that last climb! And thanks to all of the sponsors and everyone who helped put together such a great ride (er- race!) =)

Post by Chrissy B.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Get Up and Finish!

Sometime around the beginning of last week, I decided to venture to Hagerstown, MD for the Greenbrier Challenge. During the week, I tried to spend more time on the mountain bike, getting more comfortable with that type of race. I went to Coopers a few times and went over a bunch of logs and did a lot of climbs. I know I need to spend more time getting skills for mountain biking since I've only been riding for a couple of months. It's a lot of fun learning! I had a couple of minor crashes during the week on my rides, but nothing major- just some busted shins. My legs look pretty beat up and makes me look like a bad @$$!

So I was debating going to MD on Sat, but decided to get up at 530am and drive over with Justine on Sunday before the race. We are used to getting up at ungodly hours for school anyway. The ride over went smoothly and the skies were sunny and blue (rare lately). Since we drove over in the morning, I knew I would not have a chance to pre-ride the course- I would soon regret this. We arrived about 2 hours before the race and got all of our gear ready to race. We went down and talked some with JR and James about what to expect on the course. Soon, it was time to line up after a short warm up. After arriving on the line, I was feeling a little nervous since I had not seen the course and I'm still learning to mountain bike. But nothing I could do at that point. Ryan blew the whistle and the race went off. The first part of the course was pretty nice, a good climb in the beginning. There was a lot of traffic I had to navigate around on the hill from the racers that started a couple of minutes before my group. Once I made it up the hill and on some single track, the rest of the course not too bad, minus a couple of rock gardens that I was able to maneuver around pretty well. On the way down the mountain, there were a couple of muddy spots, but not too bad.

I was able to pass a good amount of people on the whole course. Overall, I was feeling pretty good on the way back and I knew the course was going to end soon-----then CRASH!!! So there was a mound of logs about 1 mile from the finish, still in the woods. As I approached it coming down the hill at a pretty good speed, I figured I could make it-it didn't look any different from the logs I'd gone over before- except what I could not see on the other side was a steeper drop off than I had expected. It was like slow motion, I went over the bike, knew I was crashing and flipped completely over landed on my head on a log and finally landed on my back. The wind was knocked out of me and I laid on the ground, trying to catch my breath for a good 4-5 min. A couple of guys passed and told me to get to medical help on down the hill. I used my recently acquired medical degree knowledge and made sure I could move all extremities. I was pretty shaken up and against what I would probably tell my patients as an ER doc, I got on the bike and went all out. My neck hurt and I was shaken up, but I wanted to finish. I knew I was still in the lead of my category and I wanted to win, despite the crash and laying in the mud for a while. I went through the rest of the woods with some caution but finally made it to the finish. Once I made it, I checked myself over and found my helmet was cracked in 3 places and my neck was pretty stiff. No major injuries, thankfully! But I made it! All in all, the race was really fun and minus the crash, I had a great day.

Congrats to all of the other Dynamic Team Members for an awesome day of racing!!!

Post by Nicole!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wisp XC Challenge Recap.

The 1st, and hopefully annual, Wisp XC Challenge brought the second mountain bike race of my season. After kicking off the mountain bike season at Big Bear in the muck and cold, I was more than happy to only need to pull on my swiftwick armwarmers to keep me toasty. My expectations coming into the day were pretty high given the fact that I am really starting to come on form and also the fact that the course was more not super technical but rather super fast and climby. After a quick tire pressure check with teammate Robbie Loehr, who assured me that it was ok to feel the rim a few times in the race, we were off to the start line.
Having a mediocre start off the line, I was happy that JR had decided to include a nice fast and wide prologue to give the Expert and single speed fields time to spread out. After about 3 minutes or so on ski slope and fire access road we hit the first downhill of the day. Even though it was only a bombed out fire road, I was still happy to find Robbie in front of me who kindly led me to the fastest lines and around slower riders. As we hit the flat fire road at the bottom I started making moves to get up close to the front as to not put myself behind the conundrum that would ensue upon entering the single track. As we made the turn into the first single track section I found myself second in the Expert field and 3rd overall behind Travis Saler and Montana Miller. I don’t exactly remember what happened at this point because Travis was crushing the pace and at that point I could still see him and, for some reason or another, though I may be able to get back on his wheel. After that sort of dumb but fun effort and getting caught by another racer in my category, I decided to settle into my own pace.

At the first climb, I noticed Gerry Pflug starting to bear down on me. Since he was on a single speed, I really didn’t care too much if he passed me or not since it would not hurt me in the Expert standings but I definitely did not want to get outclimbed by a guy churning a big gear. We traded back and forth for the rest of the lap, me taking the long stuff by spinning away and him taking the steep stuff through pure brute strength, but he ended up getting away from me on the last steep climb.
I came through the start/finish to start my second lap in 3rd in the Expert field. Coming up the last climb before the start/finish, I kept noticing another DPT teammate behind me by a bit but could not figure out quite who it was. It was coming through the start finish that I was able to get a good look and realize it was Gunnar Shogren and his new Tomac singlespeed bearing down on me. After bombing down the fire road and back through the single track where Gunnar passed me, I caught back up on the climb. Letting Gunnar set the pace, we motored up the first climb and then….back into the woods. Following Gunnar through the twisting, fast double track was by far the best part of the day. We railed every turn and then crushed it through the flats, which I am pretty sure resulted in my fastest lap of the day. Then it was back to climbing. I again let the single speeder set the pace as I played lookout for any potential competition that could sneak up behind us. After crossing the ski slope and hitting the road, I pulled through to try to give Gunnar a little draft across the flat, paved road. We continued on back through the start/finish where, as Gunnar grabbed a fresh bottle, spectators and crew alike yelled jokingly for me to attack.
I again gave Gunnar the line as I knew I would only slow us down trying to lead the technical sections. After letting Gunnar get a little gap through the woods I was more then ready to latch back onto his wheel during the climb. I shifted down and got ready to put in a little effort to catch back on when, oh no, chain suck! My chain, which later was found to have a pebble lodged in one of the fancy little weight saving cutouts, sucked up into my front derailleur. I tried to back pedal it out but it was too bound and I was forced to stop and spend 30 seconds fixing things. Having to stop really didn’t bug me nor did losing Gunnar but rather the overall funk that having to stop put in my flow. After fixing my debacle and spending 10 minutes bouncing all over the trail trying to get back in my zone, I got a grove going just in time for the start of the last climb. At this point, my legs were really starting to hurt and I was starting to wonder why my bike had two front tires. I really knew that now was when I was going to have to suck it up and just focus on getting up the road but damn was I hurting! I finished off my last bottle of Gatorade, put my head down, and just kept turning the pedals. With less than a mile to go, I had a good view from the top of the ridge to see the gap I had on the next rider back. Upon seeing that he was not gaining any ground, I settled into “no fail” pace and just made sure not to do anything stupid that could cost me the podium. I crossed the line in third and about 15 minutes away from a bonk.
After a quick stop by the car for a post race apple cinnamon raw bar, I hit the showers at ASCI to get ready for the podium. Thanks to ABRA, ASCI, and Wisp for providing a great event and an awesome venue. Also, a big thanks to our sponsors for keeping us clothed, fed, and making sure we always have something to put our beverage of choice in!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wisp XC Challenge on May 7, 2011

Uncertain if I would make it to Wisp to take on the inaugural XC Challenge, I started my morning like any other Saturday....2 scrambled eggs and 4 Eggo's. YUMMY! I then get a call to go to the race. The weather looked promising in Fairmont, WV, upper 60's and sun. What the heck I'll throw the bike in the truck and make the trip to McHenry, MD.

As I drove to ASCI on top of Wisp, seeing several cars with race bikes on the roof, I was feeling ready to ride. Then, I opened my truck door to 50degrees and some serious wind. I should have figured...any race of JR's was going to start with less than ideal conditions. Oh well, at least I'm getting to ride some new trails.

Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling was obviously well represented with the familiar black and blue argyle team kits at the start of the 3 lap race. Once given the call, the experts were off on the prologue at a blistering pace. Now, I just had to get myself up to the start line otherwise I'll get stuck in the middle of the pack.

(I'll try to keep this race report short, but this race was too much fun to leave much out!)

Two minutes later, JR starts the 2-lappers. Andrew Brautigam launches from the start with a giant of a racer in second that I later heard someone refer to as Gwadzilla--appropriately named by the way. The prologue was fast and before I knew it we were flying down a pretty sketchy double track with multiple tight switchbacks. At this point I was probably 4 or 5 riders back. Andrew was quickly leaving my sight at the front of the group. Soon I would catch Gwadzilla's wheel on the downhill...until he fishtailed into a 160degree switchback sending me in to the course tape. Lost a couple of positions there.

Once we enter the true singletrack I quickly pass a rider and catch the big dude's wheel. In and out of some tight tree-lined turns, I call out a pass on his left. However, he wasn't ready for me to get around. I convince him that I'm no threat to the Clydesdale race, obviously lacking 35lbs, he then seemed to be willing to let me around. Now, this is not an easy racer to pass...he takes up alot of trail...and he just wouldn't slow down long enough. I try again to make a move until the trail begins to descend again. Gravity is not on my side as he pulls away putting some distance between us. The course opens into another section of double track and I finally make a left-sided pass.

Now I need to find Andrew, but he is nowhere in sight. After some seriously fun singletrack, a few thick mud holes, and a few water crossings (feet stayed dry and comfortable in the Swiftwick's), I see him up ahead of what appears to be the very bottom of the course and the bottom of a long steep climb. The course soon levels to a slightly less steep gradient of fire road. After some self-reminders to be patient and not blow up, I finally catch up to him and exchange a couple trail-side comments hoping he doesn't realize that I'm in the same class.

Too late, he latched onto my wheel. I would much rather be the chaser on a climb than being chased. At this point a little space between us may make me feel a little more comfortable. The trail up ahead hits a steeper grade. Once there, I glance back to see if he is still there. Yep, right on my wheel. However, I noticed his elbows locked straight and he's looking down. Now is my chance...a couple of clicks on the shifter and a standing mash of the pedals gives me a quick 20 yard lead.

The first lap flew by quickly. However, the second lap was more challenging. My arms were getting tired through the more technical sections as I bounced off of every obstacle. I began to think, maybe I got a lead because the others went out too hard from the start. Or, maybe I went out too hard from the start and will eventually lose my position. Maintaining as steady a pace as I could keep, I later crossed the line to here Gina call out my first place finish. Sweet!

Overall, the trail was mostly dry, considering the rainy weather last week, with a few technical sections, tight singletrack, double track, and several sharp switchbacks. The race venue was more than adequate with shower and locker room-equipped restrooms available for some post-ride de-mudding.

As a Dynamic Physical Therapy employee and a member of the cycling team, it was great to see the team so well represented on the podium at Wisp. Congrats go out to Gunnar and Betsy, Todd, Robbie, Chrissy, and Nicole for their success at this race.