2009 Winding Trails MTB Race Team Report
As cold and wet as we saw at the last race, a mere two weeks ago, this week we saw the exact opposite with dry, scorching above 90 degree temps and a blistering sun. Literally we went right from winter into the dead of summer.
The course was a 5.2 mile loop of rolling terrain at the Winding Trails recreation area in Farmington, CT. This was an ultra fast MTB race course made up of about 75% tight, twisty single-track and 25% fast and rolling double-track and access road. Technical features of the course were primarily in the form of numerous log crossings, a couple tricky descents and some good sustained rooty sections. One of the biggest challenges in many cases would prove to be balancing excessive speed with handling on the tight and twisting trails amongst the many trees. This combination left little room for error.
The NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire Dental team braved the heat for the second stop on the Root 66 Race Series. We had a great showing in the Cat1 fields with Scott Brooks, Wayne Cunningham, Michael Good, Keith Reynolds and Cathy Rowell as well as Mike Rowell in the Pro/Cat1 field. We also had a strong turnout for the Cat2 fields with Jody Adamonis, Teri Carilli, Michele Harrison, Oscar Jimenez, Janet Lorang and Kristen Lukach. In general, the overall team results were fantastic.
I want to congratulate everyone for their excellent performances in yet another epic adventure. We are a real team and people are recognizing that, and us.
NOTE: The results are listed in order of category and then by place in said field.
- Michael Rowell – Pro/Cat1 Open – 3rd
- Scott Brooks – Cat1 Men 30-39 – 1st
- Keith Reynolds – Cat1 Men 30-39 – 3rd
- Michael Good – Cat1 Men 40-49 – 9th
- Wayne Cunningham – Cat1 Men 40-49 – 14th
- Cathy Rowell – Cat1 Women 35+ – 2nd
- Oscar Jimenez – Cat2 Men 30-39 – 9th
- Jody Adamonis – Cat2 Men 30-39 – 23th
- Teri Carilli – Cat2 Women 35+ – 10th
- Janet Lorang – Cat2 Women 19-34 – 4th
- Kristen Lukach – Cat2 Women 19-34 – 999
- Michele Harrison – Cat2 Women 34+ – 999
http://www.root66raceseries.com/page/9-new-results (Race Results)
http://www.cyclingdirt.org/videos/coverage/view/234952-root-66-fat-tire-classic (Race Coverage)
We arrived at the event just as the Cat2 race was lining up for the start. This gave us a chance to talk with a bunch of the team and friends before they were off with their races. After that, we registered and then the Elite team got together for a pre-ride. This was great as we discussed the course and lines and tactics as we rode, as a team. That was certainly one of the highlights of the day and a bold statement as to our presence as well, seeing all of us in matching duds acting as a team.
Winding Trails was the site of my “MTB racing comeback” last year. I knew that it was a fast and fun power course that suited me well. I also knew that the competition would be fierce and that the extreme heat would play a defining role. I dislike the heat but seem to fare far better in it than many.
Having gotten my feet wet in one Pro event earlier this season, my confidence was higher this time and I targeted a top five finish. Once again, we had a big field with 23 taking the line in the Pro/Cat1 Open race. People were chatting on the line as we baked in the sun waiting for the countdown. We finally got our instructions and the “15 seconds to go”, then the whistle. From there it was all out warfare; time to ride aggressively.
My plan was to stick with the lead as long as possible. This worked for a short while but the pace was so utterly violent that I was unable to maintain my top five placing. From there I started getting passed here and there and lost track of how many guys were up the trail. I could still see them all but not long enough for my oxygen depleted mind to count. My eyes estimated about 10 but my mind said everyone. Then the questioning came. “Why am I doing this? I don’t belong here. Never again”! All this and it was only the first of five laps.
Fortunately for me I was soon caught by Single Speed Pro freak Thom Parsons. This gave me hope and a goal, so I latched to him. I knew that he was headed up in the race, and we soon had another 29er crew teammate of his onboard. The pace proved difficult for me to ride so I backed off and rode my pace, yo-yoing up to them and then falling back a bit. This allowed me to recover and observe. After about a lap of this I was feeling better and could start racing again. Thom and I stayed together exchanging the lead for another lap or so, gaining spots and making good progress. I put in a hard attack on a really rooty section as I knew it would inflict solid damage to a guy on a SS hard-tail. Thom fought off the attack but I’m sure it hurt. Shortly after we had some fast open flat stuff and again, I hit hard to which Thom again replied in the affirmative. The final blow was on one of the short but steep, grunt uphills. I powered up and over hard and a gap formed. From there I went hard to get out of sight. This worked and I came around to complete the third lap feeling better but still unsure of exactly where I was in the pack.
The fourth lap was all about having gas left for the fifth and final lap. The efforts and the heat were taking their toll as solid riders were fading hard and fast. We’d passed a bunch of big names and clear favorites early on. I was hot and tired but still had plenty left. Lap times were remaining consistent, I was drinking a tall bottle every two laps and I even had some Shot Bloks. Conservation took it’s toll though and my fourth lap was significantly off pace. Shortly into the fifth lap I also started to see Thom coming back to me just as I was hitting lapped traffic, time to pick up the pace. Of course Thom being the badger he is did the same. I was able to get some space and rode most of the second half of the final lap seeing almost nobody but then in the final mile I saw Thom again, charging hard. Not going to happen I told myself and pushed head down as hard as I could to the finish passing under the banner uncontested for who knows what position.
I circled around and spoke with the team who had finished their races and then Thom stopped by. We chatted, speaking mainly the incoherent ramblings strung together by fried and frazzled minds. There was also likely still residual drooling involved. We heard rumors of top 5 indeed and possibly even third and fourth. This was later confirmed and after the nausea and stomach cramps subsided, on Monday, there was joy and happiness throughout the land.
What’s irony? The fact that I led an instruction on how to properly clip into your pedals at the start of the race on Saturday, then in my first race following that, I’m unable to clip in. My race started poorly. I was literally pushed out of the way by Keith, then unable to clip into my pedals. Knowing that the race wasn’t going to wait for me, I just kept pedaling and trying to find the cleat. This isn’t the easiest thing to do when riding a mountain bike uphill at a sprint pace. Finally clipped in, I settled into a rhythm and followed the wheels in front of me. After the first single-track section, I was fifth wheel and then moved up to third wheel coming out of the second single-track section behind Keith and this other guy. The course only had rises, no real hills, but on the first rise, I went to the front and stayed there for the first lap. At the end of the lap Keith and I were clear of the group and traded pulls before I hit the hills again and then rode solo for the next two laps. As the race wore on, I dialed it back and just went into survival mode. It was only an hour thirty of pain, but it was a lot of pain. Thanks to the cheering section of family and friends out there, but special kudos to Jean Cunningham who provided me with a water bottle half way through the ordeal, then immediately after the race handed me water.
The Team pre-rode with matching kits and aboard our Specialized bikes. They are fantastic! Being out there together made a statement. Everything was perfectly suited to our skills, lots of road power and
plenty of mtb cornering. The most technical part was a steep downhill complete with a gully; apparently last year there was some video of people biffing. I felt like it was about to happen each lap; especially after nearly taking the bars in the chest on the first lap. So fast – I love mtb’ing.
My goal was to podium; given the heat (90+ deg) and the sizable field this would be a challenge. During lineup everyone was eager, so much so that all the handlebars on the front row were overlapped… hmm, how does this work? I talk to Scott on the line, not about our overlapping
bars but more about what was going to unfold. Scott has major fitness and power, this course was going to be well suited for him. I was going to jump during the start and go for the hole shot, avoiding the pile-ups or slow-downs in the single track.
One minute to go, things are tighter. Off we go and there’s some shuffling. I make third wheel or so on the jeep trail leading up the hill. After the first turn I slide into first and lead through the
single track. The full pre-ride was the best idea! Mid lap Scott’s on my wheel and we begin to trade places during the next lap. A nice gap is growing and I relay that to Scott. He’s clearly got the power today, even after the heat and sprinting from the Intro Clinic.
One of the stars & stripes from a field behind passed me, go figure. Nearing lap 3 Scott and I were still 1-2, I needed to ease up fearing the heat and mentally challenging pace we’d been keeping. I noted not to drag the next guy up to Scott. He’d attack on some of the fire roads and I responded re-entering the singletrack in the same position. Eventually, the Timex kit wore on me and he got around & ahead. I
settled in for a bit but by lap 4 started picking off more guys.
The hounds would be stirring up and I rallied during lap 4. How on earth was Mike Rowell doing? How was the team doing in this abysmal heat? We are all feeling awful! I passed the Timex guy, or so I thought! That was the motivation I needed. Scott, go go go buddy! We ended up with Scott
in 1st and I was 3rd and it felt so good to be over amidst the queasy stomach. Congrats Scott, you rocked out there!
Everyone did there best out there; congrats to Scott for the win and to Mike Rowell for his humble placing in the Pro/Open class. It was an honor to go out there and represent the club as a team and see the energy that the Cat2s and 3s have for their new found sport. For those of you contemplating it, come on and join us!
See you on two wheels,
OK, so it was hot. Every report here is going to touch on how hot it was. Here’s my attempt: 60 degrees is my cut-off point. Any time it’s below 60 I cover my knees. As soon as the temps go above 60 I uncover my knees. This race was the FIRST time all year I rode with my knees uncovered and it was 90+ degrees. No transition rides, just right into the furnace in a race.
After the Hopbrook Dam race I was unhappy, disappointed and embarrassed by my performance. I vowed to myself to make up for it at Winding Trails. Teammate Scott even commented to me pre-race that I seemed especially amped up.
Where last race I was lethargic getting off the line, this time I went for the hole-shot, knowing that the first single track was just around the corner. I was thinking if I can get there with the leaders I might be able to gap the field as they do the conga line thing. This worked well as I was riding with the top five to seven riders in my field. The lead pace proved to be to fast for me so I backed it off a bit and still wasn’t feeling any pressure from behind.
At this point the race just became a big blur. I passed some people, some people passed me. I couldn’t tell if my glasses were becoming cloudy from sweat or if it was my vision. I know that I executed my race plan as drawn up on the board. One tall water bottle for each two laps with plenty of Hammer Gel mixed in. By the mid-point of the fourth and final lap I was starting to get that “shutting down” feeling. A few cold chills started to crop up, even a twinge in the calves on a climb. Never the less I managed to forge onward to the finish. Boy was I glad to come around the corner and see the finish line!
I was looking forward to this race; last year it was the first mountain bike race I had done since 1999, and in the sport category, I won my field. Since then I have upgraded to cat 1, so I knew not to expect to win, but I was still hoping to have a decent ride (ok, maybe for more than decent). The morning of the race, however, I was not feeling quite myself… things seemed a little off, I was a bit dizzy, and everything tasted funny. Perhaps I was a little dehydrated from the day before.
With the heat of the day and the memory of last summer’s heat exhaustion that forced a DNF at the Channel 3 race I knew drinking would be a priority. Jean set up in the feed zone with chilled bottles and a open GU pack for me each time through. The start was mayhem; the officials kept moving us around and then changed the start order of the fields, so before I knew it I was in the last row. At the gun it was chaos with falls and slower riders bunching up and then it spread out and and I was able to start moving up. The first two laps were ok; I was drinking and eating well, and chasing hard in the big ring. (Last year I was able to do three laps in the big ring, but this year the course was different.) At any rate, I could see a group and worked to close on them slowly. I told myself “one more all out effort to close the gap then sit in and rest.” I made it… and then the pace picked up, and I wasn’t able to hang on. From there it was downhill. A few people went by; each time I’d try to stay on their wheel, but I couldn’t. My mind wandered and by the end of the 3rd lap all I wanted to do was quit. I even stopped in the feed zone, but when the official asked if I was done for some reason I pedaled off for the final lap. I had to take it easy and spin out the climbs. I was able to recover somewhat, but it was way too late and I knew I’d have to be happy just to finish the race without a DNF.
Lesson of the day: for longer races, I have to learn to pace myself better… mountain biking isn’t like cross where you can suffer for 45 minutes at threshold and then be done. It’s as much about endurance and strategy.
I am already looking forward to the next race and trying again. It was great to see so many NEBCers lined up throughout the day.
Thanks for reading.
The women’s Cat 1 field was smaller this week than at Hopbrook – guess more people like the cold and rain than the sun and heat ;). There were a total of eight of us on the start line, and four in my field (1 Pro and 3 under 35). In the end, only five of us finished, with the others becoming victims of New England’s early summer …
I THOUGHT I had a good line to get through the first sand section, but on closer inspection of some video, apparently not. I botched that and quickly fell behind the lead group of 4. I settled in with a racer in front and Sue coming up from behind. I wanted, so badly, to stay with Sue. She put the hammer down to pass us both, I passed the other racer and stayed, ever so briefly, on Sue’s wheel. That woman is a powerhouse, especially on the climbs. Turns out she had a stellar day, beating the entire women’s field by over 2 minutes.
After losing Sue and the other racer, I essentially rode the rest of the race on my own, with the exception of the men from the earlier fields passing me. Eventually, I did catch one of the earlier leaders (from the younger age category), but never saw Sue, or any of the lead racers again. It was a sufferfest the entire time, and my last lap was truly the worst (and slowest) – it was hot, I was tired, my arms hurt, my toe was rubbing against the end of my shoe, I wasn’t remembering ANY of the course, the “I Suck” talk started, and I just wanted to be DONE. On crossing the finish I collapsed in a dusty heap trying to catch my breath.
Thankfully, there is something to be learned from every race. Last year I experienced “the bonk” for the first time ever, so I have been practicing eating while riding. In fact, I asked more than one person to remind me to eat something as I came around for my third lap. Eating – check. Drinking? Sadly, not enough. On a day when the temps are that high, and the effort is also at a peak, having enough fluids to keep going is key. In two hours of racing, I drank only a small bottle – not NEARLY enough. The dehydration that followed was nasty. Next time, everyone needs to remind me to drink AND eat ;-).
So, was it fun? Ask me on the weekend – by then my answer is sure to be “Absolutely!”.
Driving Down to Winding Trails on Sunday I had high expectations for a top 5 result. Up until now it seems that my training has been getting in the way of racing and leaving me with less than fresh legs and poor mental fortitude to go for a walk in the pain cave. Plus I was coming off of a win from the previous day at Turtle Pond so I was feeling pretty good about myself.
Arriving to the venue 2 hours early gave me an opportunity to pre-ride the course, something I did not get a chance to at Hop Brook. The course was fast, dry and non-technical, perfect for someone that has done only one mountain bike race since 1993. Wow, this could be my week.
So 12:00 rolls around and I go to the line with about 29 other cat2 30-39 and line up dead last (mistake #1). It’s hot out and with two bottles on board and a feed zone I felt like I would be okay (mistake #2). The whistle blows and we take off at a pace that is way too hard for my newly discovered sore legs. But I think this will slow down and I will get in a groove (mistake #3). So lap one I am riding top 15? and high zone 4 and hurting pretty bad to the point where I feel like maybe I should stop, but I feel like I should be able to work through this. Lap two starts and I am only able to push low zone 3 and now people are starting to pass me at a good clip (including a tandem and someone with Hawaiian shorts and tennis shoes). I gut it out through lap 2 hoping for a miracle in lap 3 only to discover my heart rate is in the 130’s and I’m giving it my all. Well by the end, I crossed the line 23rd of 29 riders and winning a moral victory for not dropping out or being dfl.
Winsted Woods here I come!
[Oscar Jimenez ]
Great weekend of racing by all this weekend, to have wins on the road on Saturday and a win down at winding trails on Sunday shows how deep the teams are packed with talent, and I believe things can only get better from here on. Not to sort of forget about all the other great performances during the weekend, but the wins are the really sweet ones. Congratulations!
Once done racing on Saturday at TP I thought it was probably going to be a hard day on Sunday, knowing that the temperatures were either going to remain the same if not higher. Drinking a lot of water on Saturday wasn’t going to be enough to get the tank back up to full.
The drive down to CT was uneventful, once down at the venue I quickly got my stuff ready, and sat out to look at course but soon found out that I better turn back and save what bit of energy and fluids I had left for the real deal. The ten minutes of course I looked at were surprisingly easy, and when I was driving back home the thought of using the cross bike would probably had been a good choice and a fast one at that.
I lined up at the front row and once the gun went off I knew guys would want to go hard and I just couldn’t miss the fun, so I started just as hard. Even though it sucked at the time I later found out that by going hard at the start I was able to not get involved in a big crash 100 yards from the start line. First half lap I was setting top 5 and the group was more of less together, but then the accelerations started to come fast, so I chose to settle in and try to keep it steady. I have no idea how fast our first lap was but it was nothing but a blur. Second lap I started to pay for the efforts the day before and from this point on tuned to survival mode and went from there. Guys were passing me and I was passing guys, but just couldn’t tell with what group they were with. By the end of the second lap gaps had open and I was trying to drink as much water while sucking in some goos. The third lap was faster and caught a few more guys. I’m sure the goos had kicked in and I started to feel a bit better. On the fourth lap the goos were wearing off. With about half a lap to go someone was closing in and I was pretty sure this guy was in my field, so with the tank on empty I left it all out there and was able to hold this guy off. Taking inventory after wards I was out of water and goos, but I had managed to finish 9Th, not bad for the first outing on the dirt. I had thought I could do a top five, but it was too hot and I knew I was going to pay for racing on Saturday. Great racing by all!
My Saturday was spent guzzling water, eating pasta and preparing my race day food like a good little cat 2. I got up nice and early Sunday and drank about a gallon of water but forgot to eat breakfast or any of the food I had prepared. I rolled into my reserved parking space in the back of the women’s group barely remembering to shove a banana in my mouth at the last second and waited for the whistle. By the time we hit the singletrack I was about 4th from the back and got caught up behind a few bobbles on the first log crossing. By the time I hit the bottom of the first dirt hill the group had already become strung out with Anna B leading the charge and me and a few other riders bringing up the rear. I find that this is SOP at most races.
I had the luxury of home course advantage this weekend, knowing ahead of time exactly which line I wanted to take and what gear I wanted to be in coming in an out of every turn and found myself passing riders that I am never be able to get catch in any other race. All of a sudden I got a burst of adrenaline and started peddling like a crazy, gaping the riders behind me and reeling in those ahead one by one.
By the end of the first lap I was on cruise control, having fun and feeling wonderful.. I made it down the sandy hill, through the mud pit and back into the singletrack with no dabs and was flying down the trail towards the marshall by the lower parking lot when I caught my pedal on the last log of the lap and had the most spectacular endo I’ve ever done. I caught some MAJOR air, landed on my right side and then the bike landed on top of me. I spent the next ten seconds or so on the ground taking stock, trying to find the injury that I knew must be there and was super confused when I couldn’t find anything wrong. Nobody passed by in the time I spent rolling around in the dirt so I got back on the bike and headed out for lap #2 still in good shape, but out of rhythm. About half way through lap #2 I reached for a gel and realized that I’d forgotten to bring any along for the ride. Oops! By this time I was pretty well roasted, toasted and burnt to a crisp and things started to go sour. By the powerlines in lap #3 I had a case of the chills and started flubbing up the easiest corners and log crossings. When my feet started to get tingly I decided I had better call it a day. I couldn’t have spelled my middle name by that point. DNF!
Goals for the race: 1) don’t go out as fast as last year and blow up in the first lap 2) ride in a gear that was a little harder to turn than I usually would. For me this meant riding much of the course in the big ring which actually felt fine. 3) drink lots and eat! To help achieve goal #1, I started in the back. At the whistle, there was the usual mess as the pack hit the deep sand. ~sigh. This is why I don’t like to start in the back. That frustrated the hell out of me and spurred me on to pass about 6 women to get away from the mess. I felt really good the first lap – enjoying fast single track, spinning the big ring and all the climbing felt a lot easier than last year (not sure if it was me or the course was changed to include less climbing). I passed about 4 more women that lap – mostly on the uphills. I finished the first lap around 31 minutes and thought I had a good chance of finishing around 1:35 or so. Second lap felt good as well until the final climb. I got to the top and noticed suddenly that I was really cold – goose bumps, chills and really nauseous. But – I didn’t seem dizzy so I figured I’d just keep riding. As I slowly climbed the hill at the end of lap/start of the third I had to decide whether it would be smart to keep going. Figured I’d drink as much as I could, eat some Clif Blocks and either I’d puke it up and have to walk the last lap or I’d feel better and finish. Kept it down and did feel better but was slow, slow, slow. Was really happy to finish.
Ouch, I hit a
#$%*&! tree and messed my arm and ribs up and couldn't finish and had to get all bandaged up so how the %$# can I write a report :)
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