Friday, April 15, 2016

2016 Leesburg Bakers Dozen, Part II

Part I here

I popped out of the woods into the main pasture heading back toward the start/finish and pit area at the end of lap 1. I was running hot, but didn't feel like I was burning out. My speed was good, the trail was good, and the traffic jams of all the riders from the start were already gone.  I made a quick stop at my pit area to lose my jacket and skullcap and I was off again. Everything appeared to be smooth sailing.

About five minutes into lap 2, though, two riders came up behind me. The first guy asked to get around me and I obliged. He was a geared rider, so I knew he'd outpace me on the flats, especially if he was coming around me this early. And that was true ... but the course isn't entirely flat, now, is it? This guy was definitely quicker than I was as long as we were on fast and flow singletrack. But the moment we hit anything even remotely technical, he was getting hung up. The first two times I thought that's okay - one of those was the massive rock drop that challenges even the most technically skilled riders. But then on the third rock section, I realized he just didn't have much skill. And I wasn't alone in that. The other guy who'd been riding with him turned out to be the first solo single speeder I encountered on the course, a guy named Chris Lane from the Joes Bike Shop Team, and we were both getting a little frustrated with the stop/go nature of following this guy around the course. He was a nice enough guy - he apologized every time he screwed up - but it was pretty disruptive for anyone riding behind him. We ultimately did get around him once we reached the tree grove halfway through he lap, and after we'd passed by, Chris laughed and said, "Finally!" (As a post script, that guy would later take me out when he insisted on getting by again and immediately slid out trying to ride over a rocky section. At that point, I put in a big effort to get away and stay away from him for good.)

I rode the rest of the lap with Chris and we were chatting as we rode along - I was on the front, so I didn't get much chance to actually see his set up, but he told me he was riding rigid and I knew that would eventually catch up to him. The course is very fast, but there are enough rocky sections that your upper body will take a beating even with a fork. I did the race rigid my first year and I was recovering for a week afterward. I told Chris that might get old fast, but he was a strong dude, so I thought that was maybe more wishful thinking on my part. He pulled around me and took off at the end of the lap. About a lap later I caught up with him, and passed him when he stopped at his pit (I didn't have to stop so I kept on rolling.) And that was the last I would see of anyone in my class until much later in the day. I should note that even when I was riding with Chris I had no idea where I was place-wise. I just knew there was at least one behind me or one in front of me depending on where the two of us were.

In the meantime, I had a few other things to deal with. By the third lap, it was raining again, and shortly after that the rain turned to snow for a bit and then finally around noon or so, it started to sleet. I didn't mind the snow at all, and even the rain was okay, but I have to say the sleet was rather unpleasant. It was hitting me in the face whenever I was in the opening and that kind of sucks.

But even with the sleet, I felt like I was moving well. The course remained unaffected by the weather. In hindsight, I can't say that I experienced anything that I had heard about vis-a-vis the course condition in bad weather. The weather was, to my estimate, about as bad as it could be at times, but the course held up like a champ. Aside from one or two small muddy sections, it was pretty much pristine. I had replaced my tires two days before the race and maybe that helped them hooking up in the clay-like dirt, but the fact is the course was holding up very well.

I rode most the afternoon nice and steady, and kept most of my pit stops under 20 seconds. I was keeping a pretty good pace overall - just about all of my laps were holding under 50 minutes and I even had one guy in the pits yell at me that I needed to slow down or I'd blow up. But I wasn't feeling stretched at all and I just smiled when I heard that. Before the race, I had set one sort-of-goal for the day - if weather allowed, I'd like to shoot for 18 laps. I figured that would guarantee me a spot on the podium, and it would be a definite stretch goal for me fitness-wise. By mid-afternoon weather was starting feel like the only real wild-card. By around 4:00 or so, we had gotten the rain, the snow, the sleet, and even some sun. But by far the most impactful element of the weather was the wind. BY 1:00, it was gusting over 40 mph and I was nearly blown off my bike a few times in the pasture sections.

But even with all the crazy weather, I was still rolling pretty strong by the time early evening rolled around. I was into my 15th lap before I needed to use my lights, so I started doing the math in my head and realized that I was going to be very close to being able to do 18 laps. And to be honest, I also realized that what I really wanted was to have the option to do 18, but not actually need to do 18.  Because it was cold and I was tired. As I finished my 16th lap, I realized the I would need to do my next lap in about 45 minutes to get an 18th. That would be tough this late, but it wasn't impossible. If I raced a really solid lap, I'd have a tough call to make at the finish line.

For the most part, I had a pretty good 17th lap. I went out, kept my pace nice and steady and even pushed a bit through the tech tree grove climb. And as I came through the campground and entered the last two miles of singletrack, I still had no idea if I'd make it or not. Ultimately, I realized with about a little more than half a mile to go that it wasn't going to happen, and I shut it down. I crossed the line in 13 hours and 4 minutes with 17 laps.

Normally, I'd probably ask about where I was placewise, but that's not what I did at that moment. I've been through enough of these races at this point to know one thing: after I finish, I need to get to a warm place fast because my body is about to crash. This happens every time - I start to shiver so bad that I can barely function. It always starts about five minutes after I stop. I don't know anyone else that this happens to, and I think it has something to do with my "strategy" in races like these. I pretty much never stop. My pit stops probably average less than 20 seconds. It's stop, swap bottle, and go. When I need food, I grab a Clif Bar and eat it as I ride away. I never stop for any longer than I have to all day because I worry about whether it'll start to feel too good. So when I finally do stop, it's usually just a matter of time before my metabolism stops working for me and my body starts to realize that it's done. So after I finished Saturday, I didn't bother to ask about results or anything - I just made a beeline for my pit area to clean up and get into my car to warm myself up and change. I was able to avoid the full crash by doing this (I was running the car with the heat on full blast and I put on every stitch of clothes I had in my bag, including three shirts, a cycling vest, a down jacket and a neck gaiter.) Then I checked my phone and found that a friend and former teammate had been tracking me and few other folks all day on the scoring company's website and she knew more than I did about the results. I didn't even know you could track the race online!

And that's how I found out I had won the SS class by quite a wide margin (4 laps.) This made me even happier, by the way, that I didn't do an 18th lap. After a call to my wife to let her know I had survived the weather gamut, I stepped out of the car and ... instantly began to shiver uncontrollably. The wind was still blowing and it was 30 degrees out. I immediately climbed back into the car and drove over to the closest point I could get to the bonfire before getting out and sprinting over to it to get warm.

The bonfire that saved my ass!
I hung out at the fire until the awards ceremony, and then bailed as soon as possible to go get some food into me before my entire system shut down. Its funny how you can feel fine as long as you are putting in an effort in these kind of events, but as soon as you stop, your body reminds you that it's just not normal to ride a bike for 13 hours straight.

All in all, I couldn't be happier with how LBD turned out this year. As it turned out, none of the solos did more than 17 laps. In fact, my finish was good for second overall among solos, behind only Jake Wade, who did 17 laps about ten minutes faster. I've raced with and against Jake going all the way back to my very first race and he's always been a crazy strong rider. He's a genuine pro talent. To be on the same lap as him at the end of an event like this is about as much as I could hope for.  Overall, I felt good all day and could have kept going if I needed to. And that's encouraging because I've got an even longer event coming up in May. The highlights of the day included my fastest ever off-road 100 miles (8:47), some nice consistent lap times all day, and with the win, I've completed the trifecta on podium positions - 2 years ago, I took third place, last year I was second, and this year I got the win.

The LBD is a special event that I'll return to as long as I am able. Despite the weather, I didn't experience the horrors of a bad course the I'd heard about, so I can't really think of much that would keep me from coming back. It's a great race put on by really cool people with a great vibe from the fellow racers. If you ever thought you might like to give endurance racing a try - either as a solo or on a team - definitely give this one a hard look. It's just a great way to spend a Saturday!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 Leesburg Bakers Dozen, Part I

This past weekend, I did my annual pilgrimage to Leesburg for the Bakers Dozen. This was my fourth year doing the race and it's always one of the highlights of my year. To some folks, spending 13 hours riding a bike would sound like a special kind of hell, but I love everything about it. How often do you get the chance to just focus entirely on one thing you actually love doing for that many hours? Sure, you're going to be pretty destroyed at the end of it all, but that;s a small price to pay for an experience like LBD.

And "an experience" is a pretty great way to describe the 2016 LBD.

To understand why, I need to take a step back. All three previous versions of LBD that I've done had one thing in common: perfect weather. Sunny, temps in the 70's all day ... a perfect day on a bike. But I'd heard that when the weather isn't so great, the race is a whole different animal. And early last week, it became fairly apparent that 2016 was going to be a "not great weather" LBD.

But Friday, when I drove down the VA, it was anything but bad weather. I arrived in Leesburg around 1:00 pm and headed right over to the farm to pre-ride the course under sunny skies. It may have been a little bit windy, but that's been pretty much every day of April so far here, so that was nothing new.

During my pre-ride, I noticed that even though there had been rain most of the week leading up to Friday, the course was in great shape - like, possibly the best condition I'd ever seen it. There were a few muddy spots, but the course was running super fast. I finished a two lap pre-ride and checked in to my hotel to clean up before heading back over to pick up my registration packet.

Had a pretty decent hotel room ...
After I picked up my packet, I grabbed some Chipotle for dinner and headed back to my hotel to rest and hope that the weather for Saturday would be a repeat of Friday.

That wasn't the case.

Ready to go in the rain ...

When I woke up Saturday morning, it was pouring rain. And when I went out to put my cooler and gear in the car, I discovered that it was also below freezing out. It was going to be a long day.

The rain slowed to a light shower by the 9 a.m. start, but it was still very cold, so I wore a wind jacket and a skullcap to stay warm on the start. The start ... one of the few things about LBD that I've never been a fan of was the start. It's a mass start, which is fine, but it typically started on the dirt road only a short distance from the first singletrack (regardless of which direction the course is run in a given year.) That always creates a massive bottleneck since either way we are going, there is a significant technical feature only a short way into the singletrack. I've been able to avoid serious backups the last two years (I was caught out the first year) by putting in a pretty huge effort to stay near the front early. I don't mind going hard off the starting line, but I usually try to avoid going too hard, and you kind of had to do that to avoid the backups at LBD. But all that changed for 2016 - we started with a loop through the pit area that dropped us into the first pasture section before we headed out toward any singletrack. That allowed probably an extra half mile to spread us out. I still lined up as close to the front as I could, but I could already see the field breaking up long before we hit the entrance to the  woods. But even with the smoother start, I was feeling a little cooked almost right away. Despite the low temps, I realized that I was a bit over-dressed. I made a mental note to shed the jacket and skullcap after the first lap.

But until then, I had some work to do. It sounds funny to say this about a 13 hour race, but you really do have to push a little harder in the first few laps if you want to be in it at the end. It's a funny balance - you need to go as hard as you can afford to go without blowing yourself up. And while you have to pick your battles if riders are trying to pass, you also don't want other folks in your class to get too far ahead early in the day. So I always put a little more effort into the first lap or two and then keep speed as high as I can within a sustainable range from there out.

As I fell into the conga line of riders hitting the singletrack on Saturday, I tried to move up through he field with a little extra effort every chance I got, and always kept an eye out for other single speeders because, aside from a quick glimpse of one other on the starting line, I hadn't seen any and had no idea where I was in my field. And as it would turn out, that would become a familiar feeling.

And so, as we headed toward the first real test of the day - the tree grove climb out across a pasture about halfway through the lap - I didn't know if there was a rabbit up ahead or if I was the rabbit for the folks behind. And to be honest, I didn't mind not knowing. At that moment, all I knew was that I was feeling surprisingly good for such a crappy morning.

That tree grove ahead contains the most consistently technical sections of the entire course
That seems like a good place to end Part I. Tomorrow: the weather goes schizo and I finally find another single speeder ...

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March Madness

Back in January when I was planning out the races and events I'd do this year, I realized I had the opportunity to build on a personal goal from 2015. Last year, I did at least one off-road hundred miler every month between April and September. With my season starting early in Florida this year, I realized I could do that hundred mile ride per month from February through September (or even October or November this year if I wanted.) The biggest challenge would be March - it can be cold, and trails aren't always in good enough shape to accommodate a ride. Earlier this week, with Saturday looking like my best option for the rest of the month, I decided to take a shot and get my March off-road century with a multi-park ride that included French Creek, the SRT and Blue Marsh.

"The Black and Orange"

Earlier in the week, my new kit arrived from Death Row. It's pretty awesome. I think the wind jacket was instantly my favorite piece of cycling gear (and that feeling only increased after Saturday.) SO I was not only going for my first non-race off-road century of the year, but it would also be the new kit's christening.

I started at French Creek around 9 :15 on the Mill Creek Trail. Anyone who's ridden Mill Creek knows that means two things: rocky and steep. The climb up to Miller's Point and beyond is pretty brutal and technical. Not exactly ideal for the first five miles of a hundred mile ride, but I just went with it. Once I completed the first mini-loop, I took a quick stop at my car to shed my jacket even though temps were only in the low 30's yet (because one good thing about a climb like that is that it'll warm you up pretty quickly.) Then I headed back out to hit the Raccoon Trail, another rocky, tech section with its own nasty climb. By the time I was ready to head over to the main section of the park, I was about ten miles into the day and probably about 2000 feet of elevation already.

I kept on hitting the rocks, roots and climbs around French Creek for another ten miles, and then was ready to head out the SRT for the haul over to Blue Marsh.

And that's when I hit the one big problem of the day. I flew down Route 345 into Birdsboro at about 30 mph and felt really cold int he icy wind at that speed, but I figured I'd warm up once I hit the flatter sections along the SRT. But that wasn't the case. In fact, it got much colder along the trail, perhaps because it's so exposed. I went about three miles and realized that I had a big problem. I figured I could probably put up with the cold for the ride into Reading, but I knew that I'd deal with potentially colder temps on the ride back later in the day, and that could become a real problem. So I had to make a tough call - I turned around right where the gravel section begins at Gibraltar Road and Route 724.

I headed back to French Creek up the big climbs on 345 and knew that I'd have a problem finishing the full ride before dark given the delay. I sat at my car for a few minutes and worked to a solution. I knew that I couldn't leave my car where it was, but I also knew that I was too stubborn to give up on the full route. So I decided to drive over to where I'd turned around and re-start from there. I knew there was a parking area right next to the trailhead, so I decided to just split my ride into two and pick-up literally where I'd left off.

The ride along the SRT between Birdsboro and Reading is interesting. Last time I connected the two parks, the one response I was getting from folks was that they were surprised anyone would voluntarily ride the trail through Reading because it's supposed to be pretty sketchy. Aside from sections of actual trail that are pretty unkempt, I can't say I see any issue. I did see a few folks out on the trail, but to a person they were all really friendly and went out of their way to say hello. It was actually friendlier through Reading than on other sections of the SRT I've ridden! To be fair, I do know some folks who have had issues (including one flat out assault) on another section of the trail there, but I saw none of that personally. I did however see some really cool graffiti art:

Anyway, I reached the Union Canal Trail that connects the SRT to Blue Marsh without incident (and feeling warm in my new wind jacket!) It was slower going in French Creek with the climbing and rocks, and between that and the delay of going back, I was kind of racing the daylight to complete the last 60 miles. If I wanted to be finished by 7 pm, I knew I'd need to do the 60 miles in just over 5 hours, so I kept my pace at a pretty good clip as I started the loop in Blue Marsh itself.

That wasn't always easy - the weather seemed to be on the verge of turning bad all day, and it never really got warm at all. There was a constant cold wind blowing all day - not a heavy wind, more like a strong breeze, but it was that kind of raw, cold constant light wind that chills you to the bone. Between that and the short steep climbs all over the park, I was just hoping to hold on all the way to the end.

But I was feeling pretty good overall, so I kept my pace close to 12 mph and eventually hit the inbound turnaround well within my time limit. I even got a bit of a reprieve on the weather when the sun finally popped out around 4:15 or so, if only for 20 minutes or so.

Ultimately, I was able to finish the 30 miles at Blue Marsh in pretty good tie and then ripped along the SRT for the last 15 miles back to the car. I was aiming for a 7:00 finish and rolled up to my car at 6:59.

All told, I got about a 100 miles with around 8,000 feet of climbing in 9 hours and 25 minutes. Not too bad. More importantly, the March Off-Road Century was in the books. Knowing I'll need to get 100 in April at LBD, in May at the 24 Hour race I'm doing, and for other months at some other events the rest of the summer, I was pretty psyched to work out the one weak link. So one goal for the year now looks a little bit more reachable. That makes it a pretty good day!

Next up for events: LBD in three weeks! Really looking forward to it this year! IN between now and then, I've got more training and riding to do, so until next time, I'll see you on the trails!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Racin' in the Sunshine State ...

On the Prologue Lap

I'm running late with this recap, but I actually have a pretty good reason - I finally got around to getting a new laptop this weekend. I'd needed one for a long time (my previous machine was from 2010, or about 600 in computer years.) I originally started this post with that laptop and just accessing photos was taking so long, I finally decided it was time to just pull the trigger. And so here I am ...

Not hard to leave temps like these behind ...

I didn't use all of my vacation in 2015 so I had five days to use in the first quarter of '16 or risk losing them. A few weeks ago, I decided to use those days to get out of the cold in Philadelphia and at least get in some god training miles someplace warm. As it turned out, I found an event that was right up my alley to give e a chance to not only get some training but also to get some racing miles in before March (something I'd never done before): the 12 Hours of Santos in Ocala, Florida. So last weekend, I hit the road for a few days of sun and bikes in Central Florida.

I wanted to treat the trip down as kind of a dry-run for another trip I'll be taking out west in May. So I got a flight and packed my bike up in my Trico case.

Foam pads, bubble wrap and zip ties ... the tools of the trade
Without going into too much detail, I think I would give this test run a big fat "F". Despite all my efforts to very carefully pack my case (finding how to fit 10 bottles in a case with tools and food is no easy task), the TSA opened it for inspection in Philadelphia. That alone wasn't a big deal, but they didn't put any effort into repacking it and when I grabbed it off the carousel in Orlando, my wheel was hanging out the side. Luckily, the only damage was to the tire bead itself and I was able to fix that on Friday evening. The trip back was a little better - I was able to request to be there when the pack was opened up and was allowed to repack it myself. However, I got hit with lots of extra baggage charges at MCO, to the point where I almost paid for an extra ticket. I'll have to do more research on alternatives before May.

Baggage drama aside, the flight wasn't bad, and the drive up to Ocala was easy enough, so by 1:00 on Friday afternoon, I was checked in to my hotel and working on my bike. Ocala is horse country, so it felt like everything required a long drive (past very scenic horse ranches!) and getting tot he venue from my hotel was no exception - I stayed near Route 75, but had to travel a good 20 miles to get to the course area. And the thing is, I don't think I could have found a much closer hotel. But as long as I knew that ahead of time, I wasn't too worried about race day. 

I got over to the course on late Friday afternoon and had a chance to pre-ride. And, well ... wow ... 

Having only an outsider's vague notion of Florida, I expected what one would expect from Florida - flat and fast and (possibly) sandy trails. And to be fair, there was some of that. But really, there was so much more. Quick history lesson (courtesy of Florida native Chris, who I had the chance to meet while I was down there): apparently, Florida built a canal system straight through the state to connect the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and all across the state where they built the canal are quarries, and the Santos Trail system sits on the edge of one of those quarries. And that means rocks - lots of rocks. I was really surprised by just how tech some sections of the course were. It was all rideable, but after about 8 hours, those rocks started to hurt! (And not expecting that many rocks may have made it feel even worse!)

So ... the race itself. I was up bright and early on Saturday morning, and with the race starting at 10 am, I was able to take my time, eat some breakfast, and still get to the venue in plenty of time to spin a little bit before it was time to line up for the Le Mans start. 

Off the start, we ran up a hill and hung a left to go around the start finish area to pick our bikes up in a long straightaway before looping back around to the climb again and then heading down the road to enter the course about 2/3 of the way through a lap for a shortened prologue. The pace off the start was pretty frantic and unpredictable. I slotted in behind one of the elite women and just settled in for what I knew would be a conga line pace for a bit. The woman in front of me was getting pretty annoyed at the slower riders in front of her, which seemed pretty pointless to me - I've done enough of these now to know that the first lap is almost always a mix of riders who will ride fast all day and folks who are just good at getting off the starting line quickly, even if they won't be able to hold that pace for long. In a longer race, that's going work itself out sooner rather than later, so getting angry about it is just wasting energy. And sure enough, before we even hit the end of the prologue, things were starting to open up already.

Once I was able to open the throttle a little bit, I started to really have fun on the course. Besides the rocks, another cool feature of the park was a lot of man-made walls and bridges. Those were a blast all day long!

A wall-ride easy in the lap

This section had a series of half a dozen features in a row that you could basically pump-track all the way through
The story of the race itself was really just one of consistency. The weather was perfect - high 70's start to finish - and the course was pretty much unchanging all day. Some course get beaten in over the course of a long day like that, but this one felt immune to the thousands of tires rolling over it over the course of 12 hours. So as long as I could find a nice groove, I knew that I'd be able to just lock in and go all day. And I found that pretty easy for my legs. I had good legs Saturday. So that made the ride pretty steady. What posted a significant challenge, though, was the abuse the two rocky sections heaped on my upper body. My back and (especially) my hands were pretty trashed by the end of the day. But even with that, I was always able to convince myself to do another lap. 

One thing I've always noticed about these races is the way time seems to move at a different speed. I recall on one lap I was riding with another racer and right around 5 pm he laughed and said, "Only five hours to go!" The time between hearing him say that and the end of the race felt like just a few seconds. So I wasn't too surprised when I had to start thinking about the countdown clock so soon. This race, unlike many others, was a "finish before 12 hours" race, which means your last lap was the last one you finished before the 12 hour mark hit, instead of having your last lap start before the 12 hour mark. And before I knew it, I was doing the math to figure out if I had one more lap or if I'd get two. I decided that, with a little bit of effort, I could get another two. And in fact, I didn't even need to rush as much as I thought -- I'd forgotten that the are actually started at 10:04 instead of 10, so I had a four minute cushion where I could make my last lap almost a full 20 minutes slower than my previous lap to get in under the time limit.  

A few shots on course

Ultimately, I finished my last lap with about 20 minutes to spare. At that point, I honestly had no idea how I'd done. It may sound weird, but I actually never knew all day. I figured in a race that long, trying to figure out my place in an open field was pretty pointless anyway. So I just kept my head down and moved forward all day. And in the end, that was good enough for second place in the Expert/Pro Open. I have to admit that was a bit of a surprise. I felt good all day (except for my back and hands toward the end of the day), but I really figured I was going in at a disadvantage being a SSer in an open class. But I think my "strategy" (for want of a better term) made a difference. In these kind of races, my only goal is always to minimize my down time. I try to spend as little time as possible not moving, which usually means a very quick bottle exchange and back on course. And I was able to pull that off here. I really believe that it gets harder and harder to go back out on course the longer you make your pit stops. So never letting them go beyond the minimum is key. I mean, sure, eventually you may need a slightly longer stop - to put on lights, or to grab some Alleve for your aching back, but if you can keep that time to a minimum, by the end of a 12 hour race you're going to pick up 10 or 15 minutes on the folks who stop just a little longer. And those 10-15 minutes can make a huge difference at the end of the day. I have no illusions that I am actually faster than these guys running gears on a course like that, but if I can be moving when they aren't, I have a good shot at bridging the gap. And last Saturday, I guess I did that.

The 2016 12 Hours of Santos Expert/Pro Solo Podium

After the race and awards, I bailed pretty quickly to get some food. I was starving, having only eaten a bunch of Clif Bars all day. On the drive back to my hotel, I saw a Subway open and it was game on. A foot long sandwich and a shower later, and I was ready for bed.

I hung out in Ocala for a couple days after the race to ride a little but more. I actually did film the course, which I'll post once i can edit a cut of the footage. It shows a rider's eye view of some pretty cool sections. 

As a final post script, the trip back home was frustrating. I already mentioned that I had to pretty much pay through the nose to get my bags home (including that big trophy, but to complain about that would kind of feel like saying that my diamond shoes are too tight.)  But what really got me was the last insult ... my car battery was dead when I got back to Philadelphia. I have AAA, but I had to stand outside in the cold to wait for them and that sucked. It took a little over an hour because the guy had to find me in the airport garage. So my "triumphant" return home after my "awesome" performance was a nice hard slap back to reality. I guess I still can't complain, but I would definitely have preferred that not happen. Oh well. I did get five days in the sun, so I think net of net, I'm still way ahead of the curve. 

Here's a fun fact: there's only a driver door key hole on a  Subaru, so if the battery dies, you can't open the hatchback
so your luggage will sit int he cold garage as long as you do waiting for the AAA guy to get there.

Until next time, see you on the trails!

Monday, February 15, 2016

On the road again

I mentioned yesterday that I had a lot planned for this year, and that's true. In fact, my "season" actually starts this coming weekend.

Last year, about this time, I was climbing the wall from cabin fever and driving Joanna crazy. I've never been a big fan of winter to begin with, but lately I've really started to feel like I'd prefer a warmer climate year round.  For a few reasons, thats not a feasible option at the moment, so we both agreed that I needed to plan on getting out of town for at least a short escape in the future when winter gets that bad. This year, I was debating two options - a trip out west for a week of training in the desert, or find a race somewhere warm and use that for training. It was  tough call because I really love the southwest, but ultimately I decided to stay on the east coast and do the 12 Hours of Santos in Florida. So I'll be heading down to Ocala on Friday to race on Saturday, and then hanging around for a couple days afterward to ride a bit more after the race. I made this call for a few reasons - first, a trip to Florida was really easy to work out with schedules and all that, and second, it gave me the opportunity to do something interesting this season.

In May, I'm already planning to head out to Spokane, WA for the 24 Hours of Round the Clock. By doing both of these races, I'll race at both ends of the country in one season. Just thought that was kind of cool.

As of right now, I have about five or six races that are definite for this year, and a few others that are  maybes right now. Aside form the two mentioned above, I've got the Bakers Dozen in April, and a month later is my only non-endurance race of the year - SSAP in NY (moved to May this year!) I'll be going back to Shenandoah of course. I'm also hoping to do the Wilderness 101. And after qualifying last year, I'll be heading out to Colorado in August for the Leadville 100. Those are definites. A week after Leadville is SSUSA, right here in PA this year but I haven't made up my mind on that yet.

Races 2016

So that's the plan so far - or at least most of it. I've got one additional ride I'm planning but I'll get into that another time. That's not a race, but I haven't worked out the details yet so we'll leave that for another day.