Just some thoughts and experiences from a mountain bike endurance racer who likes to ride and race his single speed mountain bike a long long way on remote single track in the mountains and desert.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Sedona Big Friggin Loop Mountain Bike Race, Arizona

The 2012 Sedona Big Friggin loop was awesome.  This was my third time doing this underground race and it was one of the best courses yet!  http://rockyroad5050.wordpress.com/3-sedona-big-friggin-loop/

As usual the ability to navigate the route is key.  Having a gps with the route uploaded is a must.  There should be a special trophy for any rider that was able to complete the course without navigation but I don’t think that happened.   The route had a bunch of newly built singletrack that was spectacular,

They don’t typically track singlespeeds separately but I think I had the fastest finishing SS time and 10th overall although there were some people in front of me that didn’t complete the correct race route.

The field was stacked with super-fast riders!

I ran a 32x19 but I would run a 32x20 for this exact course next time.  I have the same Schwalbe Racing Ralphs front and rear that I used for the 24 hours in the old pueblo and the Fat Tire 40 and they still have a lot of life left.

The race started out at the Bike-N-Bean in Oak Creek and immediately entered sweet singletrack that contoured the hillside then climbed over the crest into a knarly descent.  A ranger was on hand to collect the $3 fee to enter the Red Rock park.  After spinning out a pavement the route took us on a mean rocky climb that was rideable.  We crossed the main road in Sedona by the school and entered some new singletrack that paralleled the road and it took us on some great new well-built singletrack.  The route twisted and turned through washes and along canyons in the northwest end of Sedona.  Great views!  About four hours into the ride we hit some classic trails on the north side of Sedona and took the route all the way into town.  We his some pavement then joined some singletrack on the south east side of the town and grunted up the last significant climb.  After the saddle we took a killer descent followed by some ups and down ending up at the Bike-N-Bean for the finish.  There a keg and pizza was waiting for everyone.  Fun post-race party with plenty of bench racing! 

Thanks Chad for organizing such a great event!  I’ll be back next year!  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

3rd place in the singlespeed category at the 2012 Fat Tire 40 mountain bike race at McDowell Park in AZ

Finished 3rd in the singlespeed category at the Swiss American Bikes 2012 Fat Tire 40 held at McDowell Park in Arizona.  http://swissamericanracing.com/fat-tire-40  Saturday there was a time trial on the sport and tech loop to determine your starting position in the main race which was on Sunday.  This turned out to be key!  The main race was approximately 40 miles and the route was all the perimeter trails in the park plus some additional trails on the competitive tracks.  Route was: Sport>Tech>Long>Service Road>Pemberton>Scenic Loop>Pemberton>Coachwhip>Dixie Mine>Pemberton>Service Road>Long Loop>Sport Loop backwards>Finish.

I chose to run 32x18 gearing.  I may have preferred a 17 in hind sight but with the 24 hours in the old pueblo effort two weeks ago that may have been too much.  I ran Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires front and rear which hooked up great.

Friday in Dolores I loaded up the mountain bike and the family into the truck during a cold and windy snow storm and Headed down to Arizona.  The weather was looking great in AZ for the race.  Maybe a little hot for racing but after wearing snow boots while leaving that didn’t sound bad at all.  When we arrived in AZ the sun was out and I went for a 30 minute spin just to see how the legs felt.  I hadn’t ridden the mountain bike for the last two weeks since the 24hitop race.  I did get some exercise during that time (one road bike ride, a hockey game, etc.) but not much since it was snowy and I was trying to recover still.

Saturday I met up with Art Macfarland for a pre-ride going backwards on the sport loop.  It’s always a little weird riding a primarily one direction trail backwards so I had to check it out since it wasn’t normally allowed.  Around noon Nick Gould showed up.  He came down from snowy Colorado as well for the race.  After he pre-rode the time trial course we went out and picked up some power food before the race start.  Taco’s!!! (Vitamin M…)   

My time trial started at 3:02 and 12 minutes into it I rode up to a helicopter on the trail evacuating an injured racer off the course and I was diverted back to the start.  Haven’t had that every happen during a race, I guess the racer ended up okay.  They restarted the time trail an hour later and I ended up with the 11th fastest time of the day out of all racers geared and singlespeed so I would end up with a desirable position at the starting line the following day.

On Sunday everyone lined up at 8am in their prearranged position based on the time trail finish.  There was a ton of racers.  If you were up front at the start things went smoothly but if you were back in the pack there were definitely some bottlenecks which created traffic jams.

After the first mile I stayed in the same position through the competitive loops but when we got to the Pemberton trail I was spun out on the singlespeed and began getting passed by a few geared riders.  I knew that Mike Melley was in front of me but I didn’t know where Hunter was.  They both had a faster time in the time trial so it was possible he was in front of me as well.  I felt pretty good and didn’t get passed by very many geared racers on the flatter Pemberton trail.  When we got back on the Long loop I was able to gain some of those spots back.  When I came back though the pit before doing the sport loop backwards I saw my wife and daughter cheering me on which is always pretty cool.  After crossing the finish line they had wet towels, snacks, drinks and beer waiting.  I ended up about 5 minutes faster than my previous years time but that wasn’t enough to get the win again.  I was about nine minutes behind Hunter and 6 minutes behind Mike.  Nice job, you guys crushed it!

Great event the promoters really did an awesome job.  This was my second year and it was noticeably larger than the first.  I think it will just keep growing.