2009 Landmine Classic MTB Team Race Report - 9-13-09
Weather on Sunday started overcast and foggy but progressed to mostly sunny and calm with temps in the mid 70’s as the race kicked off. Overall it was excellent weather except for the monsoon that dropped five plus inches of rain the day before. With all of the rain we’d had this season, the soil apparently couldn’t absorb that much additional water and thus there were a number of large bodies of standing water. The rock gardens were also made extra slick and difficult.
The XC course was a single 25 mile long loop of torture and despair for Pro/Cat1/Cat2 and a shortened 11 mile single loop for Cat3. There were no huge climbs but lots of technical rolling terrain with countless wet slippery rock gardens, deadly slick bridge crossings, rooty madness and some short road section connectors thrown in for fun. All in all, the course was more than capable of pounding you and your equipment to pieces if given the chance.
Once again, NEBC had a good presence at the race in the various XC fields. Additionally we managed to have almost the entire Elite team present for the final team event.
- Michael Rowell – (Pro/Cat1 Open Men – 10th)
- Keith Reynolds – (Cat1 Men 30-39 – 3rd)
- Scott Brooks – (Cat1 Men 30-39 – 13th)
- Wayne Cunningham – (Cat1 Men 40-49 – 11th)
- Cathy Rowell – (Cat1 Women 35+ – 4th)
- Ben Pagano – (Cat2 Men 30-39 – DNF (lost chain))
- Tom Doucette – (Cat2 Men 50+ – 11th)
- Norm Collard – (Cat2 Men 50+ – DNF (broken bike))
- Les Bethel – (Cat3 Men 50+ – 5th)
- Lexi Cruse – (Cat3 Women 35+ – 3rd)
What a season. We saw more foul weather and conditions this year than any I can recall in the past. Why should this race be any different? It wasn’t. In prep for cross I decided to run on Friday. That was a mistake as it nearly crippled me for days after. Hard to believe ten minutes of something so simple can do that much damage to perfectly fine muscle tissue. The good thing is that it only hurt to walk, or tough the lower quad. Riding wasn’t so bad.
At the event, the weather was overcast though clearing. Attendance seemed solid though not over the top as in some of the early season events. All of the main characters were there though. I dressed and got in a short warm-up then went toward the line, saying hello and wishing good luck to friends and team-mates. At the whistle I sprinted for position only to have my foot unclip, sending me to the back of the pack. I gained a little ground but got stuck behind the split when it started to string out. The trails were slick and wet and I was bouncing around like mad, working way too hard to keep up. I’d opted to ride my trail bike vs. my race bike, thinking the wider tires, additional clearance and suspension travel would help on this super technical course. Unfortunately I ran way too much tire pressure and had trouble hooking up, but I didn’t flat. Anyhow, on a small hill climb with some roots at the bottom, a racer in front of me bobbled forcing me to dismount and run the hill. That put me over the top and I lost touch with the lead pack.
From there things got worse as I settled in with the small, second group. We worked together for some time but I realized that although the effort hurt and I couldn’t easily ride away from them, I was only working at 90% vs. the 95% I needed to be at. I started to get discouraged but then I got angry, at myself. Literally, with some choice verbal self-heckles I surged off ahead and started to race. This quickly gained distance on the group behind but I never caught the group ahead. It wasn’t until I started picking up the Cat3 finishers that I saw anyone else. Near the end there is an out and back where you can see people ahead of you. I saw the bulk of my field was well up ahead of me. I maintained a steady hard pace and finished out without incident save the final bridge, which I slid out on. Not exactly the end I wanted to a season that started out promising, but none the less an end.
In hindsight I can say with certainty that in order to compete in this category in mountain bike racing, you need to focus on it, train specifically for it, and limit the other racing that you do. My focus was too scattered and that certainly cost me. I also need to spend more time on the MTB riding difficult trails in adverse conditions, because this year that is what you raced in each week.
I’d also like to thank NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire Dental for giving me the opportunity to race as part of the Elite MTB team this year and for their support. My hope is that the club and sponsors got something back from us in return for their investment.
This race was going to close the chapter on my MTB season along with most if not all the rest of the MTB team. I was excited for the 25 mile point to point race (one big lap) and seeing the hoopla around the GT golden bike series. This was a finale in a series to win GT’s top end carbon race bike and the chance to defend it in upcoming races.
After hurrying to register and over hearing the bridges might require walking I rolled around and talked with teammates. I started to grin after riding the finish, revealing a slick bridge, roots and rocks. Today was going to go well.
Scott and I lined up in our field and at the last second were told our group would combine with the younger group. We started and I worked up to 6th wheel and was able to stay there without going into the red. Soon we stacked up in the single track and passing became difficult, then impossible. Eventually things strung out as bobbles occurred. The beginning was fast & flat enough to be drafting. I entered the first feed zone and was told I was in 4th.
Later a Master (Sam Morse) caught up to me and we went back and forth a few times. He would hammer on the roads where I could draft, then he’d get into the single track and I’d make my way around where he eventually found his way onto my wheel. My average was a shocking 12mph at this point. Then another of his teammates (Johnny Bold) joined up along with someone else sitting in the draft. Now this was some serious power! Through one of the pine needle turns on pavement Sam went down, he was ok and I relayed this to Johnny. We snaked around some empty foundations and were totally wondering where this course was going, but I think we were on the border of hoot-n-holler’ing. I lost contact with them at some point and was left to my own devices.
The series leader (Neil) caught back on and I was following him onto a bridge where he went straight down. I only bumped him with a tire instead of a direct hit. Wow these were slippery! I got going again and this time it was my turn to ditch the bike, rolling off into the ferns.
Then the course got more technical and had some fantastic moto-x type ramps you had to crest. One guy had been sitting on my wheel for miles and I was getting motivated to loose him. I shook him after the last feed zone but before the big rock garden, a mile from the finish. I couldn’t believe there was a spectator sitting at the foot of the fall zone! Somehow I don’t think it was helping anyone.
The remainder of the course was fun with technical bits and a number of beginners heading into their finish. The final bridge had yet another victim slipping off, so I went easy and then punched it into the final u-turn berm to the finish feeling great. I wound up in 3rd, just behind the series leader and minutes back from the Golden bike winner.
There were some outstanding results this year for the team and more importantly, those who came out to give MTB racing a try whether at the clinics or at the races themselves. We look forward to having your feedback and seeing you out on the trails.
I’ve been looking forward to and dreading this race all season. On one hand it is a unique point to point course that covered 25 miles with little or no climbing. On the other it was so brutal last year that the stories continue to be spun 12 months afterward. Arriving at the race, I immediately notice just how many people are there. The marathon race is about to go off (50 miles, one must ask why?) and the shorter racers are just arriving.
I register for my event, and take a warm up ride. Since the course is so long, there’s no chance of pre-riding it, and I take to the road instead. Properly warmed up, I return to the start and find my group, masters 30-39. Again, I’m amazed how large the field is, double what is normal. When the under 30 group is given 30 seconds to go, my group is told that we are starting at the same time. What? Quickly we scramble into this now really large starting group.
With the whistle blowing, we are off. I have no computer, heart rate monitor or even sun dial to track my progress (the result of only 4hours of sleep, not proper prep) the pace starts high but is comfortable. In such a large group, bobbles on technical sections become very large gaps and things were strung out after a mile. Thankfully the course was marked with mile markers. Securing my position somewhere between the front and the course break down crew, I settle into a comfortable race pace. Here a bobble, there a dab, I pick my way through the course. At one point I came around a turn and saw a rider standing on the right hand side of the course after a drop-off. I ride the drop and yell that I’m coming down on the left. Front wheel immediately sinks/disappears into the mud and I go over the bars onto my back. I can only mutter to the rider, going all the way down, as I lay there.
Back on the bike, I notice that a fair amount of blood is running down my leg from the crash. Thankfully the deep water crossing kept washing it clear. I do wonder if the water is washing out the blood and in the germs. No time to change my situation though, because as I cross a bridge, my bike is going left and I’m going down on the right. Stupid slick bridges!
A 25 mile point to point race really provides riders with plenty of time to think. Why am I doing this? How can I be so close to my car, yet have no clue how to get back there? What are the chances that we have another MTB race in epic conditions? Why the heck haven’t I passed another mile marker it’s been 45 minutes!
The final five miles actually went quickly. I rolled across the line, unsure of how long I had been riding. The results show 2:31, good for 13th place. Having completed a season of MTB racing, I realize that I started MTB racing as a break from the road. It is so much harder then I thought it would be. Imagine a 2 hour TT where most of the time you have no views, or other people, but it is a great way to push yourself technically and physically. To really enjoy riding bikes and to meet a lot of great people. I’m done for this year, but I will be back in 2010 for more. I just hope it doesn’t rain so much.
I went into this race knowing it was going to be my last mountain bike race of the season; I was looking forward to it and hoping to do well. It wasn’t to be.
After an uneventful warm-up, as I pulled to the line I noticed a knocking sound coming from my front wheel. On further inspection, I discovered that the quick release wasn’t fully tight. I corrected it and checked the rear, and off we went. I was pleased with my position at the start. There was one moment where I felt a tug on the bike and heard a clinking noise, but I assumed I had gotten tangled with a stick. As we came out of the woods and onto the pavement, I stood to accelerate, and my rear wheel pulled out. I must actually have had someone ride into my wheel and flip the skewer. By the time everything was secured again I was out the back… with 24 miles still to go.
I began chasing and was able to catch up to the rider I had been with. I sat in to recover for a bit only to crash in a wheel-swallowing hole at the bottom of a steep descent. By the time I got going again, this time I really was by myself, and things went downhill from there. I again noticed the knocking sound coming from the front wheel, and when I looked down realized my front skewer was open. On a downhill section, no less. Normally I file the nubs off my forks – I guess I should be glad I hadn’t gotten around to doing that (maybe that’s why the manufacturer leaves them on). Once I had gotten going again, I noticed tape strung between trees over my head. By the time I realized it was course tape, I was off course and had to turn around to make the righthand turn. Apparently others found the course markings as confusing as I did.
Then I flatted my rear tire. Managed to change it and head off once more. One more crash on a bridge, and a few hours later, and I was done.
All in all not the ending I had hoped for… but it was good to be done. I was glad others from the club had solid rides and finished. On to cross!
Thanks for reading.
It’s been long, wet, muddy and frustrating MTB season. It seemed that every race we had was preceded by rain, or it rained WHILE we were racing. The exception to that, of course, was the sunny, 90 degree Winding Trails race in April – still a weather challenge! Of course, Landmine couldn’t be an exception – torrential rains on Saturday made for some swimmingly good conditions to race in on Sunday…
At the pre-race meeting, they told us that it was slippery out there, and to be careful. Essentially, the bridges were slick as snot and ended up claiming more than one victim (Mike said he ended up wiped out on the last bridge in the race). In other places, we literally rode down rivers, or through puddles that we hoped didn’t contain wheel-sucking holes in the middle (at least one did). I swore when I was through I was going to just throw my kit in the trash…
At the whistle, I fell in behind the two Pro racers, and the one woman in the 19-34 class, putting me 4th overall, but leading my class of 4 women. I tried to hang onto the fast women as long as I could, but their technical skills soon bested me, and they were out of sight. The good news for me was that the remainder of the women were out of MY sight, which made me keep pushing to stay ahead.
The sport men soon started coming by. While many of these guys are actually pretty savvy and nice when over-taking, many also are not! I had a few who tried to pass in very technical sections with no clear line, or approaching some of those slick-as-snot one-lane bridges. While I did my best to get out of the way WHEN I could, I also knew that I needed to stay on the gas as my competitors were still behind me.
As I passed through the first feed zone, I got a look behind and saw one of the other women coming up on me. I worked hard to stay ahead, and managed to hold the lead in my race until mile 8. At that point, I made a technical error, Mary got ahead, and then I fell into the trap of watching her instead of where I was going, causing more errors. In another technical section, I dropped my chain, and watched the other 2 women pass by with a flurry of men as I got it back on, and looked for a break in the traffic to get back on with the race.
I managed to catch 3rd place again by mile 9, but once things got more technical, I lost her for good. It was actually awesome to watch Rachael ride away from me, as she did it on a section where many of the men were walking ;). From there, I fell into a good pace for me, trying to achieve other goals in the race – riding more than last year, not getting passed by certain friends in the Sport race, taking time off my race time from the previous year, and to have fun.
Somewhere this season, racing my MTB stopped being fun for me. So yesterday, I decided to have FUN (and still race). The conditions were pretty harsh, but when I crossed the line, I was happy – despite being DFL – because I had had fun on my ride. There was no crying, not much swearing, and I took 16 minutes off of my race time from last year. It’s all about perspective, and I had lost that. It was good for me, then, to finish such a lackluster (from my perspective) season on a good note.
Lost chain DNF.
Although I hadn’t been on the mountain bike since Winding Trails, I decided to give Wompatuck a shot since it didn’t require a long drive and I knew it wasn’t overly technical.
At the line up I saw an NEBC kit and concluded that this was Norm C since he was the only other rider from the club on the pre-registered list. I introduced myself and we chatted a bit while waiting for the start. He told his story about a broken chain in a recent race and how the field left him behind while he repaired it. When the gun went off I jokingly said “don’t let me see you alongside the trail…”.
I know that racing strategy dictates that you sprint for position before getting into the single-track but I have a strong dislike for oxygen debt before getting warmed up. So I was second to last of the field as we went into the narrow stuff. Within just a few minutes, we went by Norm on the side of the trail, working on his bike. Crap – I jinxed him! Sorry Norm.
Once I warmed up, I found myself riding effortlessly behind a line of 4 riders from our group but with no place to pass. I waited until the course opened onto one of the occasional wide paths and moved past them. In the early going, the course was not difficult and I found myself enjoying riding off road. For a while it seemed as if the entire field was off the front but then some other riders gradually came back to me and I was able to pick up a few more places.
At about 7.4 miles, I approached a steep drop off that was difficult to read (mud at the bottom). No time to think – I just guessed a line and rolled down. My front wheel “planted” in the mud and I reluctantly did a full-body vault into the mud. Fortunately, the mud was thick and deep, providing an exceptionally effective cushion. I dragged myself and bike out of the bog just in time to see the rider behind me do the same thing. When he pulled his face out of the muck, all I could see were the whites of his eyes and teeth. And he seemed to completely enjoy this, like a kid at an amusement park. What a sport!
The rest of the race was uneventful with the exception of a few slips on wet roots (insert sound of body hitting ground here). The puddles were near bottom bracket deep but rideable. The “stutter-roots” got to be annoying after a while but the single-track was great. I was sloppy and inefficient in the technical sections but that’s what happens when you spend all your time on the road. Only got myself to blame.
I was a little surprised to pass numbers of riders from other fields who seemed exhausted. Since the Cat3 riders were on a different course, I knew these guys had to also be Cat2. Perhaps they went out too hard?
Epilogue – My triceps are sore!
Busted bike DNF.
My first mtn. bike race this year at Bear Brook was a teaser… I did well, it was not too technical and I had no injuries.. The last three races including Landmine were a whole lot more challenging and made me realize that I need a lot more practice, practice, practice. I did the Cat. 3 course of 11.5 miles and it took me about 90 min. At this point 25 miles would probably kill me. ;-) I was slipping and sliding on every rock and root, falling countless times. I would catch up to one of the women ahead of me and then fall again ( sometimes with dramatic vocals ;-0 ) losing ground. But I knew I was ahead of some of the competition so I continued to ride as hard as I could while upright. The mud and large masses of water didn’t bother me…the cool water felt good. I did not fall off any of the bridges. There were parts of the course that were dry and not as challenging and I made some progress there. My husband and friends think I’m nuts..too old etc etc.. I think I just need to learn to stay on the bike instead of on the ground. It was a fun event complete with cheerleaders, hotdogs and boy scouts.