Thursday, October 2, 2014

Seattle Cross Revolution - Silver Lake Cx


I recently had the chance to take my Planet Cross Cx bike along for a 9 day trip to the west coast.  While I had signed up for a Cx race on Sunday, I couldn't resist the urge to head down to Mt Rainier on Saturday for a spectacular ride up to the 6,400' Sunrise viewing area.

Sunday brought the chance to race at the inaugural event of the new Seattle Cross Revolution series.  The Silver Lake venue provided an excellent course with lots of sand (2 long sections/lap), wooded trails, lots of twists and turns as well as plenty of climbs.  Big fields and big fun !  

Before heading for home I was able to do some more riding up on Mt Hood with some fantastic (but rainy) views of the Columbia River gorge.   Overall, it was a long trip with lots of great experiences but I am certainly glad to be back home. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ronde Ohop Kermesse

This past weekend I took advantage of my travel to the Seattle area and entered the Ronde Ohop Kermesse race near Eatonville, WA. This unique event was a combination paved/dirt/rock race that was based from the Nisqually-Mashel State Park (in the shadow of Mt Rainier National Park).

The Ronde Ohop is a Washington Cup event. Based on the website description, the race is meant to “evoke the Belgian tradition of short, fast and hard races .... the race runs on good county roads with 13 total miles of dirt road”. Most riders were on road bikes (including me). The number of flats and damaged wheels was impressive (think Hilly Billy Roubaix) with lots of DNF’s.

Since I rarely have a bike (as well as good weather) in the Seattle area, I couldn’t resist riding spectacular HC climbs (each with 3K+ ft of vertical) on each of the two days prior to this race. One of these rides was up to Sunrise (on the east side of Mt. Rainier) while the other was a climb to the Paradise Inn (on the south side of the mountain).

While these rides were great with amazing views of Rainier, they left my legs in a “less than fresh” condition for Sunday’s race. Subsequently, I ended up getting dropped far too early on the initial 14 mile road section. Thankfully, we then entered the final 2.2 mile loop section which included 1.3 miles of dirt trails with an abundance of fairly large, imbedded rocks. The race called for us to complete 10 laps of this loop which gave me the chance to catch quite a few of the roadies who were struggling with the trails.

While I would have liked to put in a better ride, I ended up finishing in 5th place in the Masters Men 50+, CAT 1/2/3/4/5 category with an average speed of 16.8 miles/hour.

This event was fairly well organized but it truly made me appreciate the great organizers we have on the West Pennsylginia race scene (where we have Port-a-Johns at races !).

On the positive side, the officials did have a nifty wireless camera set-up with a big domed tent (it rains alot here ...).

All things considered, I’m glad that I entered this race and it was great fun to have a chance to compete in the Pacific northwest.

Also, a big thanks to Len Throop (the owner of Eatonville Outdoor) who encouraged me to enter this race and loaned me his pump. Make sure you visit Len if you are ever in Eatonville !

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Steamboat Stinger

This past weekend we caught up with Sam and Deidre in Steamboat, Colorado for a great visit and some mountain biking. While we were in town, I teamed up with Lorraine York (Deidre’s mom !) and entered the Steamboat Stinger Mountain Bike race in the Coed Duo (Open) category. For the Duo categories each teammate rides one 25 mile lap. To add to the excitement, Lorraine and I were competing in the same race category as Sam and Deidre (!).

I took the first lap which saw a wide variety of conditions due to passing rainstorms. The large field produced quite a traffic jam as the course hit a tight single-track section very early in the race.

After the initial 1500’ climb it started to rain fairly steadily as I descended into the adjacent valley. Unfortunately, the rain changed the course conditions from tacky wet, to slippery, flying mud during this descent.

Thankfully, the rain stopped as I arrived at the bottom and the trails started to dry quickly due to the low humidity. After climbing back up to the top of the ridge again I was greeted by an “unofficial” Aid Station that was stocked with PBR handups as well as bacon strips.

As I rolled back to the Start area at the bottom of the initial hill, Lorraine was ready for the handoff and laid down a fast lap.

At the end of the day we finished in 23rd place in the Coed Duo category. Sam and Deidre had a great day with a 2nd place finish (and a faster time than the Mens Duo winner !).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Storm Peak Challenge Hill Climb - Steamboat, CO

This past Wednesday I entered the Storm Peak Challenge Hill Climb Mtb race in Steamboat, Colorado. This event is part of the Steamboat Town Challenge Mountain Bike race series. Sam mentioned this race on Tuesday (as we were driving out to Colorado) and I thought that it sounded like a good chance to get out on the local trails and loosen up my legs from the long drive.

This is basically a mountain bike hill climb on the Steamboat ski slope mountain. I entered the Masters 50+ Sport race which was advertised as a 5.6 mile climb up to Storm Peak.

We rolled into Steamboat at about noon which gave me a bit of time to have a local bike shop (Orange Peel !) take a look at my rear brake (which was in serious need of a bleed job). As I noticed my shortness of breath after climbing the hotel stairs, I was starting to wonder about the wisdom of entering this race since I had no time to acclimate to the thin air at this higher elevation (Steamboat is at about 6,500 feet, while the race started at about 7,000 ft elevation and ended at over 9,000 feet). Also, the temperature at race time was almost 95F with bright sunshine and 5% humidity (!).

As expected, with the steep climb and thin (dry) air I had a hard time catching my breath on the first part of this race. However, I was able to settle into a steady groove after the first few miles and finished up on the mountain with no problems.

While I didn't encounter any of these (in person), I did see plenty of scat signs on on the trails to the top.

My next task was to get back to the lodge area at the base of the mountain. Somehow, I was imagining a nice paved road with great scenic views that I could easily glide down. In reality, the way home was more of a downhill mountain bike course filled with high speed banked turns. Thankfully, my brakes performed well and I enjoyed the bombing ride back to the bottom.

I ended up in 5th place in the Masters 50+ sports category with a time of 1:16:19 for the 6.4 mile climb.

After race festivities included a free Fat Tire Pale Ale at the Slopeside Grill and random awards via raffle.

One of the most interesting things about this series was the high number of kids that were racing (on shorter courses). In fact, the largest number of racers were in the "Coed 7-8 year old" class with 14 spirited competitors ...... very cool !

A challenging race with good organization and course marshalling as well as friendly competitors. Highly recommended !

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

7-7-12 ABRA Tomlinson Run XC Challenge

This past Saturday Rich Allen, Hannah Brewer and I traveled to the far northern tip of the WV panhandle for the ABRA Tomlinson Run XC Challenge. In spite of forecasted high temps of 101F, almost 100 racers ignored the weather station warnings (and the threat of heat related exhaustion) and showed up to compete.

(photo courtesy of Fred Jordan)

As predicted, things were getting pretty hot by the noon start and the high DNF rate indicated the difficulty of the conditions. Towards the end of lap one, I came across Hannah who was having problems with a stuck chain and possibly a bent rear derailleur hanger. High kudo’s to Travis Olson (of Consol Energy Racing) who had stopped to help Hannah with this mechanical issue. Thanks to Travis, Hannah was quickly back on the trail and able to finish the race (relatively) trouble free.

My only fall of the day was towards the end of the 2nd lap in the stream crossing. As I tumbled into the cool water, I realized that this was the smartest thing that I had done all day.

(photo courtesy of Mike Briggs ... who was gracious enough to let me pick myself up before shooting this pic)

The course was mostly flowing single track with a few brief road sections and a some steep, loose downhill trails. By the 2nd lap, Richy and I were both feeling the effects of the heat (my car showed 100F, parked in the shade !) while Hannah continued to ride strongly. Thankfully, we were all able to hang on for good finishes.

Hannah – 2nd place, Women - Cat 2/3 - Sport
Richy – 3rd place, Men - Cat 1/2/3 - Masters 55+
Kirk – 3rd place, Men – Cat 1/2/3 – Masters 45+

(photo courtesy of Fred Jordan)

After this 2nd race of the ABRA Mtb Series, Richy and I are both in 2nd place in our divisions while Hannah is tied for 3rd place in an extremely close grouping (only one point away from 1st !!). The final event of this series is the White Park XC Race on August 5th in Morgantown, WV. Should be exciting !

Once again, the organization, course conditions and markings were exceptional. This was another great race hosted by JR and Gina (who both never stopped smiling in spite of the oppressive heat) ! Highly recommended.

Race Results:

Mtb Series Standings:

7-1-12 WVMBA Race to lil Moe's Place

Hannah Brewer, Richy Allen and I headed down to Philippi, West Virginia to check out this WVMBA race and found that it was plenty challenging with lots of hills, rock gardens as well as some fast single/double track sections.

Unfortunately, this years "Race" never made it to lil Moe's Place (a local bar where awards are traditionally dispersed) since all the power for the entire area was knocked out by trees downed in Friday night's storm (!). However, high kudo's are due to the race organizers (headed by Thad Kelley) for working overtime to clear the trails of fallen trees and carry on with this race in spite of the adverse conditions (Note: almost a week later and many of these areas are still without power !!).

The conditions were hot (mid 90's) and muggy with plenty of sunshine. The day was filled with challenges as Richy and Hannah got lost on the course (as well as from each other) on their warm-up ride and ended up riding the entire 6 mile beginners loop (barely getting back in time for the race start). Richy's luck was the worst with a hard fall on the warm-up lap, a flat tire during the start sprint, another hard fall on the course, another flat, a bent rim, a back injury and two heel blisters from the hike back to the start area (bummer !).

My day went a bit better with a good first lap. On the 2nd lap I had just passed a competitor to move into 2nd place (in my Masters Sport class) when I tumbled in a rock garden. I quickly recovered from this and was back on the chase when I took a more notable fall resulting in a cracked helmet, torn jersey and the need for a number of bike adjustments before continuing. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch back on and ended up in 4th place (45 seconds behind 2nd place !). Oh well.

While Richy and I were busy with our most excellent “3 Stooges” impersonations, Hannah was laying down a great ride to take 1st place in the Womens Sport class !
This was especially impressive in light of yesterdays race at Yellow Creek (with a 2nd place finish), an "extended" warm-up ride and showing up at the start line just as the race began. Nice work Hannah !

After the race, we joined the other racers for a refreshing swim in the Cheat River.

Hannah - 1st place, Sport Women
Kirk - 4th place, Sport Masters
Rich - DNF, Sport Grand Masters

Results link