Thursday, May 10, 2007

No ticks, Tour de Dells, & Whatnot

Last Thursday's club ride out at Quarry Ridge resulted in no ticks! Whew! I'd rather do a hill than deal with a tick.

The Tour de Dells started out windy and just a tad chilly to my ears, so I put on my Mad Forc beanie and was toasty and ready for the race. In short, the race was a challenge to ride the trail 3x's. There were some challenging hill climbs and lovely singletrack. Much of it was covered in pine needles, sucking the energy right out of me. But it reminded me of sections of Kettles.

On the last lap I went over a deep dip and when I came up on the other side my butt came down hard on the seat, tipping the front of the seat UP! NOT comfortable, if you know what I mean. I didn't want to take the time to adjust it back, so I had an interesting half lap.

I came across Renee V. and she filled me in on her bike woes. I completely felt for her b/c I've been there more than I'd like to remember.

I finished as hard as I could, aching lower back and all. I then headed back to the car to change my clothes and I returned to the tent to get something to eat, just in time to hear my name called as a 2nd place finisher in my age category. I rewarded myself with a brat and Dew!

Friday the 11th I will be getting a bike fit at Cronometro and hopefully my lower back issues will be a thing of the past.

I saw a cool Saris bike rack on the back of a Honda Element, and I can't wait to get mine! Traveling will be so much easier.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Time to breathe...

It's been fun reading the posts of the races. Great job ladies on all the early season racing. Rockcut was my first race of the season (um, basically my first/second real race -- my FatTire last year I guess partially counts). In previous years I would not have dreamed of considering an early seaon race -- I would shoot for the very last race of the season (uh...thanksgiving race anyone?!) and then something would have diverted me from that goal. 3-4 months is a LONG way to go to keep a goal without small milestones along the way.

So this year, what the heck. I treated it like a practice ride and I had a lot of fun -- it was a challenge for me but I was smiling at the end...I was probably laughing at myself for getting lost, I took a different turn on the remaining road piece (ambulances picking up all the broken bodies Barb mentioned were blocking the real turn), and rambled on to another picnic area and realized I had to turn around...*sigh*. I would have preferred to see a time minus 10 minutes for being a directionally challenged biker ... ;-)

This weekend at Tour De Dells was not so fun, not much of a smile at the end of the ride -- I flatted and had some nasty chain problems. Then I am standing there, go into my pack for a tool, only to find no tool and my Blackberry with a cracked screen. There's a good move, leave the tool in the bike bag, bring a delicate piece of electronic equipment in your pack. And I wracked my right knee somehow (sports massage therapist tonite may have fixed it). I was a bit of a mess Saturday I think, I had that looming feeling when I woke up that this was not my race day. So a big DNF for me. I broke my cardinal rule - always smile at the end of the trail - lesson learned I guess as to how to manage a disappointing race.

I was happy we had a MadFORC on the podium though -- great job Barb!

I am overwhlemed at work, and not getting my head in the right place enough so I am taking some weeks off before racing again. Pre-race anxiety the week before the race seems to be scattering my brain. In the meantime, MadFORC Thursday training, on the road training...see everyone on the trails!

Renee V.

Roots, sand, and a whole lot of fun

WORS kicked off in fine form this weekend! The weather was perfect for riding hard, the course flowed well, and I somehow managed to hang with the competition.

I had never raced the Iola course, and wasn't able to preride due to work commitments here in Madison. Add to that the fact that I had not yet been on the mountain bike this year (and I am not a very experienced single-track rider!), and you might begin to catch a glimpse of my pre-race nerves. I found Chris Strout from the Pony Shop team and got a quick rundown of the course about 20 minutes before the start, nervously lined up and glanced around for the reassuring purple jerseys worn by teammates I didn't know, and tried to relax while chatting with another very nervous rider at the start line.

The course was fairly open for the first half, with all the major climbs inside the first 4k of the 10k loop. (my markers for judging distance are what I assume were the kilometer markers for the trail run. Any racers who feel like correcting my errors are quite welcome to do so!) Climbs were steep and often a little bit loose. Just enough so that I would lose traction if I stood up to climb. Not remembering how to climb those slopes, I spun out on one climb fairly early in the first lap and managed to step off right in front of an oncoming rider. Sorry!! A couple of the other climbs had roots across the course, and it took me a couple of laps to remember how to ride over those properly, too.

The second half of the lap was winding singletrack with short open sections fairly regularly spaced, so passing racers could get by relatively easily. A few unexpected sandy sections and some loose downhill switchbacks made the first lap a little more interesting than I would have liked, but somehow I cleared most of it having never seen it before.

Laps 2 and 3 were much smoother for me, as I settled into the rhythm of the course. My legs felt great on the climbs, other than those sections I mis-judged and grabbed the wrong gear for. I could make up places on most of the climbs, though riders caught back up to me in the singletrack. I played leap-frog with a few riders around me, and was glad to have the competition to motivate me to keep going hard. It always helps to have that little extra bit of motivation, and I managed to pull around a couple of women when one of them bobbled at about 3k to go, holding my advantage until the finish. I came in not too far behind two FORCs, Deb and Kerry, who stopped at the end of the finishing shoot to share some oranges and introductions. Great rides ladies! My apologies to Kathy, whose name I see in the Sport results, but whom I don't know if I talked to.

I ended up third (of three) finishers in my age category, so I even got a medal for my efforts!

Thanks so much to everyone who cheered me on. Thanks especially to those who recognized the purple jersey though not the face. I'm proud to be part of such a supportive and fantastic team.

Shannon H.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Crazylegs and Rock Cut Race Report

The weekend was a whirlwind for sure! Crazylegs Saturday was a killer for me, even after all the training I did. After the race I stopped at the new Erik's Bike Store on the East side just to see what they had in stock for mnt bikes (to replace the one I broke last fall). I ended up buying a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp - isn't she a beaut? It matches my helmet too ;-) .

Sunday I was up at 5:30 to get ready to meet fellow Mad FORC racers Kathy, Berlie and Amy A., at 7 to go to Rock Cut State Park and ride the "Do the Rock Cut" Mnt Bike Race. Seven of our mnt bike club members showed up to represent! Four of us did the 10 mile race (Melissa S., Me, Berlie, & Renee V.) and 3 did the 20 (Renee C., Kathy & Amy A.).

Somehow I eneded up finishing first in my age category (18-39) and 3rd overall out of all the I got a cool handmade trophy and a medal. Melissa won second place in the same age cat, and Berlie got 3rd in the 40+ age cat. What a great start of the season! I have to be honest and share that if there wasn't that one confusing part of the trail, Melissa would have been first by at least 5 minutes. She left only her tire rubber at the start and we never saw her again!

We had some medical excitement too. On the 10 mile race one guy fell and broke his knee. We had an ambulance for that. I heard another guy fell and banged his head pretty good. And shortly after the start, a guy's bike frame broke! Eeeesh! But he was okay. I saw him walking back to the start, probably mad as heck.

There was also a woman hiker/walker who fell and smashed her elbow pretty bad. I think she needed an ambulance for that. I heard sirens several times throughout the morning, but only saw the one to take the 'smashed up knee guy' to the hospital.

The thing about holding a race at a state park is they don't close the trails to the public (it's against the rules) we have to be extra careful when we come upon non-racers. The woman who fell and got hurt did it of her own accord though. As far as I know a racer had nothing to do with it. I came upon several hikers and a few bikers myself.

It was terribly fun and I'm glad I decided to go and tag along with my buddies. We had some nice-sized log piles, very shallow stream crossings and a little bit of everything else (mud puddles, thick mud, grass, pine needles, large white stones, sand). All of that was great as I was testing out the new mnt bike, and I have no complaints. I just have to figure out why my feet get numb, and I'm good to go!