Wilmington Whiteface 100k: “Noah’s Ark Edition”

It’s rare that you get a weather forecast that predicts a 100% chance of rain. It seams like even when a hurricane is bearing down on you there is only something like a 80% chance on rain. So the weather forecast for Wilmington (100%) was pretty bold.

I figured there were a couple of good things about having rain in the forecast: 1. Not everybody would show up (thereby increasing my chances of getting a Leadeville spot); and, 2. Not everybody would finish (thereby increasing my chances of getting a Leadville spot). The only real drawback was having to ride in the rain and mud. The temps were forecast in the mid 50’s. I hate biking in a rain coat if I can avoid it, so I went long sleeve jersey, no rain coat. (BTW, that FC long sleeve jersey is the BEST long sleeve jersey I own. It was warm, even when wet.)

Wilmington 2016 Clean a

The gun went off at 7 am sharp. The rain started (literally) when the gun went off. I have documented the race course before. Say here for example. So I’m not really going to talk a lot about the course. But….. there are 4 major climbs in this race. The first was a dream (good). The rain tamped the sand and dust down. The road was tacky and the traction was good. The second was also in great shape. 1:30 into the race and the rain was a non factor.

Wilmington 2016 cant see

And then we got to the top of the second climb and the a very different dream came into focus. I rode the first half of the course a couple of weeks ago and knew that this section was rough. It was still rough, except that now it was also a muddy mess. This transitioned into the downhill, and that folks is where the wheels became….. completely unnecessary.

The road had deep ruts and now those ruts were filled will rivers of mud. The line you took down the descent was largely dictated by which mud river rut your wheel was in. In a lot of ways it was like being on luge run. Steering? Completely ineffective. OK, to be fair it wasn’t like a luge run. You can steer a luge sled. It was like a bobsled run (you cannot steer a bobsled 🙂 ). When I got to the bottom I looked at the guy next to me.

“I wonder if my face looks like yours.”

“Don’t know, all I see is mud.”

On the back side of Jay Mountain the roads were soft with a 1″ layer of mud. The net effect was that going downhill felt like biking on a flat, going on a flat felt like biking uphill. The turn around is a 3 mile section of “single track” that was really a muddy swamp. Then back up the river of mud.

Wilmington 2016 smile a

(Yes I AM smiling in the pictures from this race.)

Bike started to get really upset at this point. Every pedal stroke was accompanied by grinding (on my NEW cranks, NEW chain and NEW rear cassette). Shifting was a 3 step process: Index down, index up lightly (to release the cable so it could actually index down) and then index down again. I was in good shape though, I still had brakes (which many people lost).

The course “firmed” back up once we got back over Jay Mountain. My time wasn’t great but I was feeling good. Down the Jay Mountain descent back into Wilmington. Up over the last major climb. Into the Hardy Road “Trails” (i.e. mud pits). Then back to Whiteface to finish the day. We ride a set of trails called the Flume Trail. I was wondering if that one would be cut out of the race. It parallels a river and is ALWAYS wet/muddy, even when the world is dry. Those trails ended up being the best single track we rode during the day.

The final section is on Whiteface. Every year it seams like they change the end, never really finding the right mix. This year they carved a bit of trail that went up, down and then up the lower portion of the ski mountain. I rode it on Saturday to see what it was like. Like? Steep, loose, rocky and tight. Fun in the right conditions. A day of rain? Not the right conditions…. As I rode onto the mountain I realized they bypassed this new little section (yeah!) and I entered the final single track right before the finish.

That section, well it sucks in dry conditions. It is deeply rooted with a really soft surface. In wet conditions it was a nightmare. I did wrap myself around a small tree in a slow motion crash. Nothing serious. I went conservative and walked some. Only bad things would happen at that point.

And then onto the finish.

Wilmington 2016 finish2a

Wilmington 2016 finish1a

See, I got a medal and everything…

Wilmington 2016 finished

And that is where the real adventure BEGINS (and this episode ends……)

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Wilmington Whiteface 100k: (un)race report

 

I tried and tried and tried all week to write an un-race report for Wilmington and just couldn’t bring myself to do it. In the end, I did the smart thing and scratched myself from the race.

Look summer up here is like 2 weeks long and I didn’t want to risk turning myself into a limping mass of unfunness for the entire summer. Biking at any speed is better than biking and no speed.

Team Fatty Fundo Rider Jeff was there to race. Coreen and I had a room in Lake Placid (without the kids). So we went up anyway. I participated in the pre-ride with Jeff on Saturday since I figured I could do that at a safe pace for me. And it was fun. Fun enough that I almost race in the 50k race instead of the 100k race. This was followed with a Fatbike ride with Jeff and my Olympian sliding friend Duncan. Three giant massive heavy bikes. Another fun ride. But I stayed firm and while Jeff was racing Sunday morning I was having an awesome breakfast with Coreen at a very cool little restaurant we have wanted to eat at. My Wilmington race weekend was a fun get away with my wife.

Jeff had a great race and was using the experience as a benchmark/ tune-up for Leadville. I put him solidly under 12 hours. (Authors note: My official prediction right now is 11:18 at Leadville for Jeff.)

I’ve been in physical therapy for the past two weeks. It’s been helpful. We have pretty much broken up the mass of frozen muscles in my legs by daily rolling with a foam roller and a lacrosse ball, stretching, some electric stim, and some deep massage. So I am feeling better and off the DL. Coreen knew I was feeling better when I sent her a text last weekend after 2.5 hours of riding (which is what I told her I was doing) and let her know it would be another hour or more before I came home.

My second event for the summer has always been the Hampshire 100. Its a race I have wanted to do for a couple of years. I should be good to go for that. I think at this point the 100 mile version is a little optimistic, so it will likely be the 100k race. But we will see…….

Happy Fathers Day to all you Dad’s out there. Get out and do something fun outside this weekend.

Dads, kids and bikes, what could be better than that!

doug_and_noah_2014

Wilmington Whiteface 100k: First Impressions

As we walked to the waiting room I asked the physical therapist, “So is the kind of pain that indicate you are doing damage or the kind of pain that indicates that something is wrong and you won’t hurt yourself any further?”

PT: “Well I cannot tell you you won’t hurt anything by racing Sunday. Common sense would say….”

And there was a chortle from a young women in the PT waiting room.

PT: “She (indicating the laughing young woman) has a problem with common sense (which made her laugh harder) just like I suspect you do to (clearly 60 minutes was enough time for her to form a solid first impression). Common sense would say don’t race. Even if you don’t hurt anything more, the length and difficulty is going to aggravate your leg.”

ME: “That’s kind of what I was thinking too.” (Big sigh).

Back up 60 minutes to when I first met my PT. We talked for awhile about what I do and what the problem was. What do you mean by you bike “a lot”? 10 hours a week. How long is this race? 70 miles. (Eyes pop) etc. Then we did some testing. And in the end we think that the problem is coming from my mechanics.

When you pedal your knees should describe a roughly circular plane. My right knee does what they call “chopping”. When I pedal the knee comes in. I have gotten a bike fit twice and the guy who did it has never been able to fix that problem. Usually you add wedges into your bike shoes and poof it goes away. But we never have been able to fix the chopping motion with wedges. The working theory is that the bad mechanics are stressing my hip and hamstring. All bike related problems start with the knees. Add to that the fact that I am, as most bikers are, quad dominant, and the problem is exacerbated.

Our plan of action is some stretching, muscle strengthening, massage and a tape job. The tape runs from the inside of my right knee across the top of my leg and then around my waste to my lower back. This is a tape method for runners who collapse their knees and restricts the inward motion of my knee. The idea is to re-train my leg to be more stable and have better mechanics.

I left the PT’s office pretty well decided that I would not race on Sunday. But I had my mtb at work and took it onto the trails behind my office. It was the best, hardest, and first real pain free ride I have had in a while. I call it the “adding insult to injury” ride.

 

Wilmington Whiteface 100K: Pre-race Press Conference

I would like to thank you all for coming to the Team Fatty/Hoops/WBR Wilmington Whiteface 100k prerace press conference. We are here to discuss the team status going into one of the most important weekends of the year.

We are first of all pleased to announce that Jeff D., Team Fatty Fundo rider, will be joining us this year in Wilmington. Jeff is prepping for an assault on the course record at Leadville and he brings real excitement and buzz to the Whiteface race.  We know that Dave Weins is looking forward to racing Jeff. We are confident that Jeff will not repeat the start finish/line confusion experienced at Boggs. (Aside: See Doug’s Perspective, Fatties Perspective, and Jeff’s Perspective for 3 views of the same incident.) Well except that someone should tell him the finish at Whiteface is a little confusing because you have to do 2 laps. Well, we will see what happens there.

Oh, one more announcement, due to injury I may not be racing. Thanks for coming.

Wait a minute. What do you mean by you “might not be racing”?

Hi Yeti, so glad you showed up. I think that statement is pretty clear.

Back up a minute where is this coming from? I don’t remember reading anything about an epic crash or anything like that.

Nope no epic crash. I have been fighting a sore hamstring and thigh since coming back from Boggs. I cannot put a lot of power into my pedaling, especially when I am climbing.

So what’s the problem?

Wilmington is all about climbing.

This is really about you being under trained and not wanting to embarrass yourself. 

While it is true that my training has not been optimal for this race, and that I am likely to embarrass myself, that is not the reason for this potential scratch. I mean I am more than willing to embarrass myself.

doug2_ct_easter2015-1

chicane sunday race

 

And before you ask its not even about it hurting while I am racing. It’s more this. This is the beginning of the biking season and I want to be able to ride this summer. I don’t want to really hurt myself to the point where I won’t be able to bike at all.

What about the magic chiropractor who fixed your knee in an hour during the Leadville year?

I’ve seen him, twice, since coming back from California. This injury is stubborn. I’m even going back to the PT I also saw that year tomorrow.

Bummer.

Yeah, bummer.

So what’s the plan?

Coreen and I are going to go up to Lake Placid without the kids. I’m going to do the group pre-ride. We will have a nice evening Saturday alone. And then we will see.

Bummer.

Yeah, bummer.

 

Boggs: Part 1, Getting There is Half Fun

I’m home from California and its time to write up my adventures. Two of my blogging colleagues (Jeff and Fatty) have been busily writing up their adventures. I could tell you that I taught them everything they know about writing up bike reports and didn’t want them to feel pressure by having mine come first, but that wouldn’t be true. Nope. In fact I am writing later than them because I have an Epilogue to my story.

The whole Bogg’s trip for me started with Jeff winning the all expense paid trip to California for Boggs to race with Fatty and Levi Leipheimer. A couple of my friends in CA have been needling me about coming out to ride by them and when Jeff won, one thing lead to another and pretty soon I was planning my trip.

Not Fun

My trip to Boggs started by packing up my bike. The week leading up to my leaving I had been meaning to see if my bike would fit in my bike bag (it had yet to be in that bag). But things were crazy and I never had time. Then departure day came and well I had to pack and in the way that things work in this world, the bike of course didn’t fit. Air out of shocks, drop-outs removed it was not going in the bag. A couple of frantic emails to my friends in CA helped me to realize that renting a bike for the trip would be very expensive and so I was preparing myself mentally to take my 26″ mountain bike with me to CA. I haven’t been on that bike much since Leadville and the couple of times I had been made me realize how used to my 29’er I had grown. But eh, it would be OK. Then I realized that it was the padding that was keeping my 29’er from fitting in my bike bag. Well I could take that out right? I mean what harm could come to my bike on an airplane without padding in the bag right? All kidding aside, the spot I need to take the padding out of wasn’t critical and my Ti frame is more forgiving than say a carbon frame, so I wan’t really worried.

Once packed I headed to Syracuse to finish up my sabbatical leave (I had 4 days of experiments to run before I was officially finished and on vacation). My training regime leading up to my departure? 3x 12 hour days in the lab running experiments. At least I would have fresh legs for the race.

Fun

Like Jeff, I had a benefactor for this trip who covered my airfare. Unlike Jeff, my tickets were in the front of the airplane. 🙂 Like in front of the curtain they put across the isle. Yeah, my tickets were booked first class. I have been in first class on an airplane exactly once before in my life. Coreen and I got the karma/pitty upgrade once when we were in college. Ok let me in a secret here for those of you who have not been in front of the curtain. It’s fun. They bring you a drink before you take off. (Which we all know since we have to walk past them when we go back to the cramped back of the airplane as we board.) After the plane takes off they bring you a hot towel to wipe off with. Then they bring you heated mixed nuts. (Which the guy next to me complained about. Seems there were not enough in the cup. The people up front EXPECT certain things. Sheesh. ) Then lunch. Lobster Mac and Cheese. Yup. Lobster Mac and Cheese. It was a hoot. Not worth twice the ticket prices in back, but heck I was being treated.

I arrived at the San Francisco airport and was picked up by Chris the third mystery member of our three man team. We drove to my host, Dave’s house. And when we got there the “Princes” RV was waiting for us to see.

princess_RV

We were going to “camp” at Boggs.

I assembled my bike and we were ready to head off to Boggs early the next morning.

An Open Letter to Elden Nelson Part 2

Dear Fatty,

Hey Buddy, how’s it going?

Recently I wrote you an open letter discussing your team plans for the 8 hours of Boggs race. I have yet to receive a reply from you per this letter. I realize you may of been recovering from you True Grit Race experience and have not yet had time to reply to the challenge that has been thrown down. Nice job on your solid “middle of the pack” finish at True Grit BTW. How did your wife finish again? Or maybe you are shaking in your bike shoes. Who knows.

I thought I would update you a little bit on the progress of our team.

You may be asking yourself who this mystery “Rider-X” is on our team. Well let me help you with that. He is in this picture.

riderx

Hope that helps.

I also wanted to let you in on some of our special training. Dave has been riding hard. He has a unique training program where he rides a special tandem bike with an awesome stoker.

dave_training

Dave and his family are World Bicycle Relief Ambassadors and their story is AMAZING. (If you don’t know the story you can find it here.) Dave and Rob have been training hard, and when they are finished training Dave has been going out for more riding to build up his speed. Yeah, two-a-days for Dave.

Since Dave has been doing two-a-days, I have been counting his training rides as mine. I don’t want us to have an unfair advantage when we meet at Boggs. Yes. I have been embarking on a true “Team Fatty” training regime of bratts, pizza, ice cream (I have been doing two-a-days on this one) and pie this winter, with a couple of latte’s thrown in each day for extra energy. So far its working great. I am up 10 lbs above my optimum racing weight, which helped me in my serious physical training regime this winter: luging. You would NOT believe how much effort it takes to lay relaxed on a sled and let gravity pull you down a hill for 46 seconds and then get on a truck to go back to the top of the mountain.  I figure that I am going to be a monster on the downhills where gravity matters.

I also have been taking advantage of our fabulous winter here to avoid riding my bike.

postwood-1

The snow here is melting (well except for the fact that it snowed all weekend again) and we are at about 2ft in my yard right now. I should be able to start a more “formal” training regime in June or July when all the snow has finally melted off the mountain bike trails.

I did figure that I should check to see if my bike was working so we took a trip to the deep southern state of Connecticut for some riding.

doug1_ct_easter2015-1

 

It was a great ride and my bike (rusted chain and shot bottom bracket) is totally ready.

I decided that I am also ready to race

doug2_ct_easter2015-1

 

and have begun to enter taper mode for Boggs.

 

See you in a couple of weeks,

Doug (Designated GC Rider Team Fatty)

 

Monday Morning Slider: 2015 US Masters National Championship (A Weekend in Pictures)

Two people to thank for today’s post. Laura Murphy whom you all have seen work from in the last 2 posts. And Cynthia Hausman who also took some fabulous photos. You can see  a lot more of her pictures at the US Luge Facebook Page.

The people make Masters a exceptionally fun event. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the weekend.

2015_masters_MVH_entrance

“In”

 

2015_masters_truck

“Up”

 

2015_masters_me

“Prepare”

 

2015_masters_me2

“Focus”

 

2015_masters_sleds

“Down”

 

2015_masters_jen

“Jen”

 

2015_USLA_Masters_EW_and_WW-1

“Mom”

 

2015_USLA_Masters_DG-1

“Young”

 

2015_USLA_Masters_JS_JM-1

“Serious?”

 

2015_USLA_Masters_matt-1

“Ummmm”

 

2015_USLA_Masters_jim-1

“Oops”

 

CS_and_EW

“Jedi”

 

doug_and_jen

“Padowan”

 

2015_USLA_Masters_JW-1

“Best”

 

2015_USLA_Masters_JM_and_MG-1

“0.003”

 

2015_USLA_Masters_race1_curve13_all-1

“Slider”