Monday, May 29, 2017

Rocky Mountain Roubaix

I think the Rocky Mountain Roubaix is Montana's longest running bike race, and it was the first real road race I ever entered. Road racing has been in a bit of a decline around here, with more people opting to race mountain bikes and cyclocross instead. The wednesday series' are inexpensive, easy, and fun. Traveling to road races, on the other hand, tends not to be. You often spend the day suffering alone, and then half the racers have left the time the awards start. I'm starting to think that having free beer and a bbq or something is key to good racer turnout.

Anyway, I've done the roubaix 5 times now, but since it's about our only road race I have been stuck in category 4. I was offered an upgrade to cat 3, but haven't had a reason to buy a USAC license because most of our races, including the roubaix this year, don't require one. Like the Hell Ride, this was ran as a "gran fondo." So there was the choice of the A race of 70 miles or B race of 40 miles. Having always been in the "B" race as a 4/5, this was my chance to ride with the fast guys.

Last year it was pouring rain and miserable. The dirt sections were slick mud and you couldn't see where you were going. It ruined all the bearings and cables and housings on my caad 9 and that was the last time I ever rode it since the crack in the chainstay had been growing. This year the forecast looked decent- just cloudy with possible showers. So of course in the morning it was raining, but I felt optimistic. Then I got to frenchtown, and it was still raining, and looked like it was raining on the course. So, yeah, it rained again. And was cold.

We started rolling and I was thinking, "I should have worn my jacket," and then "I should have brought my cross bike instead." We hit the dirt on six mile and mud was flying everywhere, it was slippery, it was cold, you could barely see where you were going. Shaun got a flat immediately and was right by the aid station so he just called it right there. I kept going, but was thinking about stopping and turning around to keep from trashing the bike in the mud and wet. But I kept going. After a lap my fingers were frozen, because I was just wearing thin gloves, and I was starting to get worried about it (but I will note that di2 is super helpful in such a situation). Climbing back up ninemile helped me warm up a bit, but I was planning to quit as soon as I got dropped by the lead group. It almost happened a few times on the 40mph muddy descent to the ranger station but I managed to catch back on. We kept going around, every lap the group was smaller, and I was still there. The rain let up and it seemed to get warmer, and my fingers started to feel normal again.

At some point Elliot and Kevin broke away off the front, but Steven Davis (a pro), kept us organized and chasing. I think on lap 4 of 5 I there were 7 of us and then Toby dropped off. Climbing the dirt before the ranger station on the last lap we lost two more. So down to four, chasing the two leaders who were in sight. After the ranger station, there is a bit of climbing left before descending to the pavement and then into the finish in frenchtown. This is where the last of us broke up. Steven and a guy from Rockford, Justin, bridged up to Elliot and Kevin, but Andrew Frank and I didn't quite make it. He was just ahead of me on the way down and then Charlie caught back up. We chased back in but Charlie was hurting, and I left him behind trying to catch Andrew. I didn't quite make it and rolled across the line in 6th. Justin ended up winning the 4 man sprint.

Myke Hermsmeyer was out taking pictures and has a big gallery here on facebook:

Here are a few that I like:

Conditions were similar to last year, so I dressed similar to last year. Long sleeve base layer under a regular jersey, knee warmers, no jacket. And regular gloves, no shoe covers. Last year I had shoe covers and warmer gloves and it wasn't quite as cold. Warmer gloves and a vest would have been nice.

All I had over the course of the race was about 1.5 bottles of water and 8 shot blocks. I really had planned on eating and drinking more, and carried a full water bottle in my back pocket the whole way around. So that has me wondering about the last climb where we broke up. If I had drank another bottle, eaten a few more shot blocks, had a bar, would I have been able to hang on? Still, I am pretty happy with my finish. I even won a shark for "most agressive rider." although to be honest pretty much all I did was hang onto the back.

Oh, and I mentioned that last year it trashed my bike. The Supersix held up better but did not make it through unscathed. My rear wheel bearings were destroyed, rear wheel was out of true, bottom bracket clicks, brake pads were worn all the way down, rear brake housing/cable is not in great shape, and the headset was pretty gunked up. I should probably replace the chain too. I will say the di2 kept shifting flawlessly in the mud when others were having issues. And the vittoria open pave 27s were awesome as usual.

That is about the end of road season, even wed worlds is on hold for another month because the Wed XC races have started.

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 Montana Hell Ride

I suppose road racing season is over already, after speedwagon, the hell ride, and roubaix. I wanted to set up some sort of prizes for the people who did all three (there are only 7 of us), but so far that hasn't happened.

Last time I mentioned a possible new road bike, and, well, I have this:

This was Alex at Missoula Bicycle Works' old road bike. He had been riding it for more than a year so it was time for something new.. It's a Cannondale Supersix evo, with all sorts of carbon and electric shifters and whatnot. Uh, really fancy and I am really grateful for the help those guys give me.

Third ride on the wonder space bike was the 91 mile MT hell ride. The last section of the southside road from Alberton to big flat was washed out and so we had to do an out and back, which added miles bit made the course smoother and faster. The dirt was hardpacked and my spring tires worked really well, although I could have just stuck with the 25mm GP4000s which actually measure out the same as these 27s..

Still the higher thread count and slight tread possibly helps?

Anyhow, the hell ride was pretty tough. We were all in a big group going up petty creek, and up the dirt I felt like I was in a good spot. There were a few people ahead but I was with Cory and Orion and a few other guys thinking "this is perfect, I didn't work too hard and we'll catch up no problem." So we're in a group of like 6-7 coming down petty creek flat out in a pace line, can see the guys in front of us at alberton, but never catch up. It was just 45 miles of hard paceline riding back to the finish line.

Do I look happy? I'm not very happy. I hung on with our group, 5 guys were in front of us and we finished with 6, and I didn't sprint at the finish to wind up 10th. Which is the same as last year, but there were more guys and I'm pretty happy with that. we were only like a minute behind 3rd-5th and then a pro and Owen rode off the front group to go 1-2. Afterwards we got some tasty wally and buck burgers and free big sky beer, and Owen's parents hosted the whole thing.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A new bike season

I guess it's been awhile since I posted anything on here so here is what I've been not doing lately. Winter was pretty long this year, and after riding and racing pretty much non-stop from mid-January through the end of November I was not all that motivated to work out and ride the trainer.

I did ride the trainer a few times, and I did walk and hike a few times, cross country skied, downhill skied, but it wasn't a whole lot. 2-3 hours was a big week for me. What I did do was drink plenty of beer and sit around.

I borrowed a fat bike from Missoula Bicycle Works for a couple of the Thursday rides at the Ranch Club. They had groomed trails and opened up the bar so you could take a lap of the golf course and then warm up/drink a beer. It was very cold out the two nights I went- like 0F. Fatbiking in the snow is pretty fun although you need a good hard-packed surface. I am not sure I want a fatbike of my own- seems like it would sit around not being ridden a lot.

Finally, around mid-march, we were starting to get a few nice days and the roads were clearing up of snow on the shoulders and debris. On the 12th, I got out for my first ride, and then managed to get 598 miles and 43 hours in by the end of the month, which is a decent start. I even got a century in on week two plus quite a few 70+ mile days, so fitness is starting to get back to normal.

The group road rides this spring have all had big turnouts. This was on a Sunday a few weeks ago:

The speedwagon classic was April 1st, and it was the 10th anniversary. So Matt decided to change up the course and add about 20 miles to the race. I have done this 4 times now and I always screw something up and wind up outside of the lead pack. Last year it was a random flat on the paved roll out from the start. This year I was with the front until the first aid station. I should have brought 3 bottles with to make it to aid station 2 at mile 60, but didn't, and I wasn't going to have a good time trying to hang with the leaders on two bottles for 60 miles so I had to stop.

And then there was an attack up some rolling hills so the whole pack blew up right there. I managed to catch up and would up in a chase pack of 7, with I think 10 more up the road. Conveniently it was all guys (and one girl) I know pretty well so we just kind of set a comfortable pace and snacked, because there were two big climbs coming up- one, 1000ft up to mile 60, and the second, another 700ft climb to the finish at mile 72.5. Since I picked up that 3rd bottle and had the time to eat I felt good on the climbs where we split up. Two guys rode away when we were cruising and I managed to catch one of them before the finish. Wound up 12th of about 35, which was about right given the entry list and my current fitness and the start list. Really should have brought 3 bottles to start- I might have wound up a spot or two higher, or I might have blown up or crashed.

Anyway, I stayed upright, ate and drank enough, and am starting to feel the fitness come back. So it was a good day. Food at the end was good, turnout was good for Montana. Next event is the MT Hell Ride put on by The Cycling House. Real road racing seems to have died in the state so the unsactioned dirt races are about all we have.

I've been doing all my "road riding" on the CX bike for the last year since my caad has a cracked frame plus most of the components are worn out. For the most part it is fine, and I use some super plush 32mm clements. With all the dirt and gravel we wind up on it works well but out on the road in a pack there are some disadvantages. Since Alex at MBW and I are the same height I have my sights set on his Supersix evo, which he is looking to sell. I just need to come up with a fairly significant amount of cash. gofundme?

In other news, the trails are starting to clear up so I've been out on the MTB a few times. I also upgraded the drivetrain, which was badly needed. I was getting chain suck, dropped chains, and a little skipping in the higher gears. Swapped to 1x11 with a combination of sram and shimano

On the plus side it works well and is almost a full pound lighter than the old setup. On the minus side a single 11-42 cassette has a narrower range than two front chainrings, and so I don't have as low of a climbing gear or as tall of a high gear. My lowest 32x42 is equivalent to 28x36, which you notice when the climbs get steep. I'm wondering how that's going to feel climbing things like sheep mountain or stuart peak. Probably not great. But the narrow-wide ring and clutch derailleur seem to be doing a good job at keeping the chain in place and it is no longer banging around on the descents. First thing I noticed going down chopsticks last week was how quiet it is.

Well, that's all for now. Have a few weeks to get some more fitness going and then it's the hell ride, roubaix, and mountain bike racing season. I don't really have any big racing plans. Hell Ride, Missoula XC and Rolling thunder are the ones I would like to do well at, and then I'll turn up at wednesday races and whatever else I feel like doing. Considering Pierre's Hole down at Targhee as I know a lot of people going this year