On Mother’s Day weekend I traveled north to Port Gamble, Washington for the first event of the NW Epic Series. The promoter of these relatively new endurance mountain bike races contacted me about four years ago with questions regarding the key components of great MTB endurance events. I thought it was pretty awesome to have a would-be director actually ask riders’ opinions, so this year I made it a point to go check out his races!
This particular event, the Stottlemeyer 30/60 has been held each of the last four years. Since NW Epic took over this race three years ago it has grown from 50 to 450 finishers. and is now the second largest event in Washington! Port Gamble is a tiny, historic community that sits quaintly on a point of land just across the Puget Sound from Seattle. The race began a few hundred meters from the waters edge.
There is little in the way of mountains so local trail builders have carved beautiful ribbons of single track all over the little peninsula in direct cooperation with private land owners. The Stottlemeyer course navigates a 13 mile loop (two or four times) that ties multiple sections of trail together with very short bits of fire road. With only several hundred feet of elevation difference, these architects have made the most of the loamy soil and dense conifer forest creating a near mind-boggling maze of twisting, undulating track. Read more »
What a difference a month makes! Spring was skipped this year and went right from a wintry Mudslinger to midsummer-like Cascade Chainbreaker. It was moved this year from its traditional Mother’s Day to Saturday before, but it still sounded like a great way to celebrate to me, my son Tony joined me for support and media. They also moved the start to an hour later, which meant it was already about 80 degrees when we took off just after 11:00 AM. The first climb let me know that the heat and elevation together was going to be a challenge. Read more »
On Sunday May 5th 2013, Jeremy Warnicke, Dave Hill, and I headed down to Newport Oregon for the Coast Hills Classic mountain bike race. Last year we were very lucky to race in warm sunny weather at the beach during the race. As luck would have it, we hit the lottery again and raced in unseasonably hot weather on the Oregon coast in 80 plus degree heat. After applying about a gallon of sunscreen to my wintery white skin, I still managed to end the day with a sunburn.
Jeremy and I raced the single speed class while the elderly speedster Dave raced the cat 1 50 and over class. After a slow start off the line I was able to move up a couple positions on the uphill climb to the first trail. After being slowed a bit on the trail I was able to make a pass into fourth place as the trail hit a long gravel road section. As my legs and lungs were both yelling at me to slow down because of the high intensity start, I was only a few seconds behind the leaders and tried to charge up to them. I caught up to third place but this was as close to the leader as I would get. Third place and I battled back and forth for most of the first lap but all I could do was watch as the top three riders slowly rode away because my legs just didn’t have the snap they needed to go fast. Read more »
Things have come almost come full circle with regard to cycle racing for me. By that I mean that my days of “training” are a fading ghost town in my rear view mirror and particular results have become even less motivating than they once were. While I will admit that racing became a manifestation of my desire for excellence in life, the reality is that cycling has always been just a passion for me and I have always been a “starving artist”.
In the beginning, I rode to be free and to reach my destination. Most of the time I got there faster than my riding partners. After a few years I began racing and with early success I found that I needed to continually raise the bar and compete against stiffer competition to measure up. Before long, I had upgraded myself until training became a necessity. Read more »
I am sure that April is the worst month of the year in the Willamette Valley… OK maybe not the worst but it sure feels like it sometimes! Mother nature threw us a curve this year with phenomenal weather over Easter with the children enjoying sunny hunting in their dresses! I enjoyed rapidly drying trails and lots of EPIC riding as March ended “like a lamb” and the new month began just as pleasantly.
That was a week ago and a world away, though. Why? Well there is a little gathering here we call the “Mudslinger” that has been going on since 1987. Apparently mother nature has been put on alert to unleash all manner of destructive weather behavior on or directly before this date and RARELY disappoints. Last week followed suit, and it began to drizzle on Thursday and generally became more intense as the weekend approached. Soon any sign of dryness was gone and only indication of spring were the blooms from the overly optimistic trees floating on new and growing puddles. Read more »
Murphy’s law definitely applies to mountain bike racing–I’ve know that since my first race now almost 21 years ago! That being said, when I set out to make my race schedule I try my best to guard again intangibles with preparation and planning. So when I rolled to the True Grit venue at just after 6 AM feeling ready for the start and relieved that all seemed to be in order maybe I shouldn’t have let that guard down!
Actually Lady Luck was already at play the day before when I pre-rode 10+ miles of the track stopping right before the most technical and navigationally challenging section. Or when I rolled into registration to a huge lineup that lasted for three hours. I may be slow early in the morning but it became apparent in the pitch darkness that there was no way the 7 AM start was going to be anything less than a debacle, though. Read more »