Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cyclocross season

After racing butte I wasn't all that motivated to ride in August. At one of the wed worlds rides I just went home because I felt bad and was having a bad time. Things kind of went like that, where I would sometimes feel good and sometimes bad. Then, suddenly it was September and cyclocross was stating. Those new wider wheels and the 1x drivetrain didn't happen so I just showed up for the first wednesday night race with the bike as-is, on old tires, after a month of slacking and no cross practice. Also I moved up to the A group instead of B. It actually didn't go that badly- I didn't finish in last (although I was close).

This year there were six Wednesday cx races, much like last year, with no usac sanctioning which means anyone can just show up and race. For usac races, you need a license, or to buy a one day every time which basically doubles the cost of racing our series. Also, if you have previously held a usac license I don't think they let you do one day anymore. So that has been nice, and brings more racers to the events, although it does make it harder to upgrade. I've pretty much given up on it for road, although I can probably ask and get bumped up to cat 3 for cx if I bother to show up for a couple of sanctioned races.

We had a new venue as well this year -the fairgrounds- and ended up there for three of the races. There's a good mix of terrain out there with faster pavement and grass, thick lumpy grass, and loose dirt and gravel. There are also a lot of buildings which get incorporated into the course. Still, after a few times you are ready to go somewhere else. Two races were at the ranch club golf course again, plus one more Wednesday at big sky brewing along with Rolling Thunder.

The first race went okay, and then the 2nd, also at the fairgrounds, went fairly well. I was actually racing against a few other guys, made an attack, and stayed ahead. Another "not last" performance. The third week was at the golf course, and it was hot. 80ish degrees with a bunch of trips down the driving range, which was thick, sucking grass. I had a bad time, no power, and a lot of racers from slower groups got by me. There's that lack of consistency again. The next week was back at the fairgrounds and I went early to help set up the course, which was fun. But then I got a funny cramp in my leg before the start and it wouldn't go away in the race.


photos by John Sieber. He has great galleries from all the wed night races on facebook.

Week 5 was back at the golf course, but they took out some of the hard grass sections and instead we went around and through some buildings and even into the pool section, and used a bit more cart path. They even had a jump, along with a skinny bridge over a sand trap carried over from the previous race. I liked the A-line/B-line element and was taking the jump, which was about an 18" ledge into a steep grass landing, so you would go pretty far with good speed. The other option was to ride through the sand which is slower. There were a few crashes, I assume from not carrying enough speed into it and landing nose heavy. Or braking hard on landing and sliding out maybe.



I have tended to start kind of slow and in the back, this time I was not actually the last guy into the first corner and then passed a few more during the race. Felt pretty good about it although I might have placed higher in some other ones. And then the ranch club has food and cheap beer afterward. Probably my favorite race course of the season.

Week 6 was at big sky brewing. I went out and helped set up the course over the week and so I got a lot of practice riding in, plenty of free beer, and a cool rolling thunder sweatshirt. The problem was that I also managed to catch a cold. Wednesday's race didn't go well, I was the last finisher in A (which still got me 12/20), and spent the rest of the week trying to rest and sleep as much as possible before thunder.

Since Rolling Thunder was not a usac race, I decided to sign up for cat 3, which is done at night with the 1/2s. It was that or cat 4 at 3pm, and who doesn't want to do the night race with the fast guys? The order of races is pretty much slow to fast, which gives all the spectators and other racers time to drink a lot of free beer to watch the last ones, which were at 7:20 for women's 1/2/3 and 8:30 for the men. Total registrations for the day ended up at something like 350, with over 50 in just our 1/2/3 group. For Montana that is a huge turnout.

I had raced okay on Wednesdays, knew the course well, and even had a fresh tire with sharp cornering knobs on the front, but was still feeling sick. I even got a front row call up. Then watched everyone go by me into the first corner. Could not even stay in touch with the guys I had been racing all season, felt worse and worse as the race went on, and finally just pulled off and changed into some warm clothes with a few laps to go. Someone handed me a beer, I didn't even want to drink it.

So that was my rolling thunder; pretty disappointing. Aside from that it was a pretty awesome event. Shaun and Dan from The Cycling House, Joe from Big Sky, Cory from Competitive Timing, and everyone else did a really great job putting it together. It was also nice to have the guys from Missoula Bicycle Works there with tents, a grill, a fire, and moral support.



Friday, September 16, 2016

Hiking the reservation divide

Actually we had bikes and did a good amount of riding, but I noticed I had a lot of pictures where we were pushing bikes:




Monday, August 1, 2016

2016 Butte 100

Well, I raced the butte 100 again, and it wasn't really any easier than last time. I did a pretty good job riding and training this season to prepare for it, although June was not a great month after the foot thing. I did cut way back on the beer and junk food for about two weeks leading up to it in an attempt to drop a few lbs, but without a scale I don't know how much it helped. Anyway, the fitness was acceptable leading up to it and I figured I would improve on my time of 13:15 from two years ago by a pretty good amount. I had a goal of finishing in under 12 hours, which seemed pretty reasonable after I spent a full 40 min at aid station 9 in 2014, and felt like I was moving at a crawl for the last 25 miles.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Prep for Butte

The Butte 100 mountain bike race is in two weeks, on July 30th. For the most part I did a good job of riding and training this year, and race season started out pretty well. Then, in June I had that foot injury and had to spend a few weeks sitting on the couch. As soon as I was feeling good enough to ride again, some family came to visit, we went to Canada, and then I had a wedding to go to. So there was basically 2 weeks of hanging out and drinking beer after 2 weeks of sitting on the couch. Not really the training I wanted to get in before Butte. Thankfully, I did still manage to get a reasonable amount of riding in once my foot started feeling ok, have cut down on the beer and junk, and last week got in a whole bunch of riding, so I'm starting to feel like I'll be alright. I'll get in a few more good rides this week and then it's time to taper.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Missoula XC

After somehow hurting my foot while rafting a few weeks ago, I spent about a week on the couch with my foot up. By the next Friday, it was feeling a bit better so I went out to the XC course and tried a lap. Foot actually felt decent in a bike shoe so I signed up for the race.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

MTB racing

Like I mentioned last time, it's been a good time to get out on the MTB, and the WM trail series has gotten started. The first event was called the "mittower XC," which was partly on the pro xc course at Marshall mountain, and partly on some new trail up above it. Mittower gulch is the next valley over from Marshall canyon and the new trail starts right on the ridge, if you were wondering where the name is from.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mountain Bike Season

After Speedwagon, Rocky mtb Roubaix, and the Hell Ride, it seems that "road" season in Montana is about over. Well, except for Wednesday Worlds. Now that the trails are clearing up and the days are longer, it's time to get out in the mountains. I had an issue with my freehub on about the 2nd ride out, plus my rear tire is all cut up, so I've only gone on about 3 mtb rides so far. I should probably go do that later.

Monday, May 9, 2016

2016 Montana Hell Ride

The hell ride I've been talking about happened a little over a week ago, on april 30th. Put on by The Cycling House, it covered about 83 miles of Montana roads, which means plenty of dirt. The ideal bike for something like that is fast and light, but also durable, and has big tires. If my road bike had been back together, I would have seriously considered riding it with 27-28mm tires. For about 90% of the course it would have been fine, but the other 10% was rocks and mud. Mostly passable on a road bike, but I was stuck with my cross bike so I went and bought another set of tires just for this event- Clement Strada LLG, in 32mm width which is new for this year. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 Rocky Mountain Roubaix

Last weekend was the Rocky Mountain Roubaix, about the only road race in the Missoula area. Being a spring event in Montana it goes down a few dirt roads and the conditions are usually interesting. It rained fairly hard in the days up to the race and was still raining when we started. I think the weather discouraged a few people from racing, plus it was the same day as the grizzly triathon so the turnout seemed a little smaller than usual. There was a 1/2/3 group that raced 3 laps for 51 miles, and then everyone else did two laps and 41, including Ingrid, the only woman who showed up.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

TCH Hell Ride preview

April 30th is the Montana Hell Ride put on by The Cycling House, and after last year's ride from Hamilton was cancelled due to wildfires and smoke, it was re-scheduled for earlier in the year on a new course most Missoula cyclists are familiar with.

It starts out on Mullan and heads toward Frenchtown, like so many weekend rides, and then hops on the roubaix course to go up six mile - nine mile road to the ranger station, and then down to the frontage road and Alberton. From there, up Petty creek to the Lumberjack, and then back to big flat on the southside road. While the top of Petty creek/graves creek road is dirt, as is ninemile road, it's all pretty smooth and fast with minimal loose rocks. The south side road starts out that way, and then degrades a bit.

My original plan had been to use my road bike with 27 vittorias, but after last weekend I am not so sure. There are a lot of big rocks and loose dirt and gravel once you get about 10-12 miles into the 21 miles of southside road to the finish. So while there are only 5-10 miles of really bad road, it's enough to make me re-think my choice of bike. It would be pretty frustrating to get that far along in good position only to end up with flat tires.

I could bump up to the refuses, which have handled these conditions and worse. Or I could just ride the cross bike, perhaps with some of those new clement 32mm slicks. Or maybe I just need to switch bikes before the end like I've been joking about.

One other thing to note- there is traffic on the southside road, as well as some tight corners with a steep drop off and no guardrail. It'll be smart to air on the side of caution. Also a good amount of climbing and an uphill finish.

Now here's a picture of Alan changing a flat at the bottom of deep creek


Saturday, April 16, 2016

The road tires I've been using

Since I picked up some new tires recently I thought I might as well write about them, and the other stuff I've been using. My go-to has always been the 23mm Continental GP4000, since that's what my caad 9 came with when I bought it. I liked them well enough and just kept buying the same thing. It turns out they're one of the best options for general riding and racing- they're pretty durable, and score really well in rolling resistance tests. They've done a few updates so the current version is called the GP4000S II. I guess one of these days they'll go to GP5000?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

2016 Speedwagon classic

This last weekend was the Polson Speedwagon race. No permit, no categories, just a group of guys and girls out to see who can make it to the finish line first through a mix of pavement, dirt tracks, and gravel roads, finished off with a big climb.

Due to my spring training I had my hopes up for a good result, and after riding some of the same roads a few weeks ago was expecting a fast, dry, and hard packed course. Unfortunately for me, and others who decided to bring a road bike, the roads had been freshly graded and there was a ton of deep loose gravel with golf ball sized rocks. It brought me to a near standstill in places and there were a few crashes.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Back in Montana

Arizona was a good time, and now I'm back in Montana with a few miles in my legs just in time for spring riding and racing. The weather has been a little unpleasant, but mostly just during the week.  The first weekend back I rode in the Bitterroot Saturday with Mobi to Stevensville for lunch and on some nice back roads. That's about the only mobi ride I do these days because they take kind of a long time. This one usually has a lot of the mountain bike crew and it's pretty scenic down there.



Saturday, March 5, 2016

Winter trip to AZ

I have an aunt in Canada who has a house in Arizona. She has been spending jan-feb down there lately and asked if I wanted to come and visit for awhile. I've spent some time here before, like two years ago when we drove all the way from her house in Toronto. That first time, I basically spent a month and a half sitting around drinking by the pool, and got a little heavier and out of shape than I wanted to be. I feel like it slowed me down for the entire bike season. This time, I wasn't going without a bike, so thanks to bikeflights.com I was able to send one down here for not too much money. The guys at Missoula Bicycle Works were also nice enough to give me all the packaging materials I needed and let me use a workstand and their tools to get the bike boxed up.

So it made it, and I've been getting in some cool rides in the Phoenix area. Since I'm in the north part of Scottsdale it is easiest for me to head north toward Cave Creek and such, where there are lots good places to ride. The first big one I did was to Bartlett lake, which is about a 70mi round trip with nearly 5000ft of climbing. Possibly a little ambitious for so early in the season and I was not feeling so great by the end. For anyone looking to do this ride, there is a fountain at the top before you go down to the lake which was not working, and then at the lake there is a store with drinks and snacks. Their potato chip selection is not very good though, and if the store is closed I think you could still probably sneak around the balcony to the back where they have water fountains. The sheriff's office thing probably has water too.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cyclocross season

Last year was my first season racing cyclocross on an actual cyclocross bike (two years ago I used my mountain bike). In case you didn't know, cyclocross races are kind of like an obstacle course for bikes. There are barriers and stairs and hills that require you to jump off the bike, run through/over the obstacle, and then jump back on. Races last 45min to an hour and do multiple laps of a fairly short track. You don't really ever get to coast or relax like in other forms of racing.

What that means is that you had better be in good shape with some interval work, know how to corner well and conserve momentum, practice your mounts and dismounts, learn to bunny hop, and get some good tires.