Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rhinelander - Part 2

Redemption for Washburn! I rode it twice in the last couple days and I have seen the light. The first time through, I was not too stoked. The next time I went I hit the trails in the opposite direction and it made the difference. Instead of hitting the rock gardens about a half mile in, I hit them around mile seven. By that time, I had my hustle and flow on and was getting into the groove like Madonna.
From The Scales: Balancing Bikes and Everything Else
I started with the Original trail and took it to the Perch Lake park and on to finish the loop. The trail had race tape up in a number of spots so it was easy to follow the main trail. The singletrack was full of quality sections including this sick berm:
From The Scales: Balancing Bikes and Everything Else
Too much fun to shake a stick at! There are also more rocks than you can go through on a whiskey bender.
From The Scales: Balancing Bikes and Everything Else
So after that lap, I was stoked and hit the dirt again. About midway through, I took a turn on a little used path and bushwacked my way over many downed trees. Enjoying myself, I was surprised to suddenly hit a large black bee/wasp/hornet smack dab in the middle of my forehead. Not too bad until it bounced to my nose and gave me a good sting! Fortunately I have been stung a bunch in my days and my best strategy is to ignore it...I tried but I started figuring out a quick way out incase the nose began to swell. I got on the XC ski trails and made my way to the trailhead. Thing is though is that I got to enjoying the rollers and speeding up and down them. Heck with the nose, I worked in a quick go on the XC trails before riding back. Fun was had and repeated again a couple days later, minus the bee sting. Recommended!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rhinelander - Part 1

So after two weekends of WEMS racing, I figured it was time for a rest week. Only a few hours was logged on the bike, I caught up on work, and then took another week off for some family time in Rhinelander, WI. What even makes it better is that there are XC trails to check and that is the word Curtis!

We left on Sunday and stopped at the park in Ladysmith to let the kids run around. There was quite a collection of merry-go-rounds along with this nifty thing.
From The Scales: Balancing Bikes and Everything Else
The little guys logged some time on that. I took part in some riding and only lasted a few minutes before I got all dizzy. Dang age creeping and taking the fun out of parks. Anyway, the wife was geting all mad at me during the ride. She got sick of hearing about how stoked I was to get some riding in on the trails of Rhinelander. I shot an email to Jeff Frane and got the 411 from the expat. He hooked me up with the names of trails and some info. I did some googling and found that I was only a couple miles from the Washburn Lake trails. This is where the WEMS race, the RASTA Rack N Root, will be in a few weeks and I was stoked to check it and hopefully not wreck on it. Jeff called Washburn out as his favorite because of it being tight and tech. There are others around, I got the time, so I will be hitting as much as possible. The in-laws are around so it is relatively easy for me to dip out for a few hours each day.

Logging hours in the Underdown a few weeks back, the name of Rock N Root and Jeff's description, I figured the singletrack to be heavy on the rocks and roots. That is fun at times but so is a nice flowing trial so the mood was essential for me to make the best of it. I rode to the Washburn Lake trails yesterday and worked on getting into the rhythm but since I hadn't ridden much the last week, I was feeling a little week in the knees. Some trail was treating me right and others were taking too much concentration. I must have been a bit lazy. I liked the trail but not my attitude so after a couple hours I rolled back and resolved to get a better sleep and hit more trails. I would be back in a few days after further XC exploration.

Today I drove out and tried to find the Mud Lake trails...I did some drive-by's and cruised the location like a greaser in the 50's but I could not find the parking lot. I had to pull over and consult the phone. I found that parts of the trails are closed from Memorial Day to Labor Day because of a Boy Scout camp. Shooo...The back up plan was then to hit the Hanson Lake Trails. The skys were threatening when I got there and the 30% chance of rain was looking more like a 90% chance. I got to riding and hit the trail which took me to the lake. I took the trail around the lake a few times and there are a lot of trails that go off of the main trail around the lake.
From The Scales: Balancing Bikes and Everything Else
I was having some fun and found some good flow and some techy parts too. After about an hour, the sky's were turning grey, some thunder was rumbling and the light rain came for a third time. I got to a clearing and looked at where the clouds were coming. The west was dark and that was approaching. Rats! I got to the car with a real light rain and packed up. Driving back to the rented cabin, the rain started and I got to thinking about some tacky trail riding tomorrow.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stump Farm 100

For the second weekend in a row, I raced in a Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike Series (WEMS) event. The Stump Farm 100 is a 100 mile XC race through the Reforestation Camp outside of Green Bay, WI. Some history of the area plays into the terrain of the race. This park was logged by settlers and crops were planted. Thing is, the ground is so sandy that the crops did not do so well. So eventually a prison was built and the acreage was plowed and trees were planted by the convicts.

OK, enough history...I'm signed up for the WEMS series so I went into the race as a points hound. The final goal is to win the Long Ride Singlespeed category at the end of the series. I took it easy after the Thunderdown in the Underdown the week before and rode 3 times for 1-2 hours on the Wisconsin gravel roads near the in-laws place to keep the legs stretched. The legs felt good, rested and ready to go. I hadn't ridden the course yet but from what I read, it is relatively flat and a bit sandy so I went with a 32x18. The lap distance was just over 10 miles which I figured on a 55 or so minute lap time. Water is real important to me on these races and I have resolved to having too much liquids so as I was prepping the night before, I noticed my camelbak bag was moldy. Hell if I was gonna use that so the plan was to stop at the camp (my car) and grab a new water bottle after each lap. After every two laps, I would grab a bottle of Perpetuem so I had both cages holding. The plan worked well for the most part.

The race begins with a Lemans start. Everyone gets to run down a small hill and up about 100 meters to the bike. This is by no means a sprint for this kid so a healthy jog was in order. The 30 or so starters took off and I got to spinning with 6 or 7 geared speed demons getting the jump on me. The course started with a mile+ of wide cross country ski trails. It had me spinning and I got passed by two other single speeders and a few more geared heads. I worked on staying close to the SS'ers but a few geared guys got in front and when we hit the single track, a couple showed their true colors and were not tecnically adept. I watched the two SS'ers ride away and I just rode the given pace.

Once out of the first bit of single track, I passed those guys on the XC ski trail and entered the next single track behind a couple other guys. They were a bit better but I was still hugging their back wheel. On the next bit of XC ski trails I passed them and got behind a couple others... Patience was necessary on this first lap until the field spread out. There was a section of the trail that was was dubbed mile 7. Many people were whining about the mile+ long stretch that really made you realize that this area was indeed once plowed. The bumps were unforgiving, like riding across a corn field. Row after row after row get the idea. The remains of the plowed rows where the trees were planted were very much apparent in this new section. Sitting down was a limited option at best for this long mile of singletrack. The two guys I was riding behind at the time were crying to each other about it...Pull the Fug over then and give each other hugs was all I was thinking. Upon exit of that section, I snuck in front of them on the next XC ski trail right before the last bit of single track before the stretch leading to the end of the lap. Good riddence.

I would then pull up to my car and grab a new water bottle just before the end of lap and this first time through went quick. I took off and hit the second lap ready to get into my own rhythm. The first stretch had a short, sandy climb that was bearable and riding the first section of singletrack was great. The next couple sections of XC ski trail had a couple more short, sandy climbs but nothing that could not be handled. The next couple sections of single track also felt real good. In fact, the goal during the race when in those sections was to not hit the brakes for the whole section. They had more flow than Mel's Diner on Alice (Kiss my grits!). The fourth singletrack section with more ridges than a bag of Ruffles was the challenge but the feeling when exiting made it all worth it.

My lap times were in the low 50's so my pace was good and after the fourth lap, I refilled my water bottles for later laps and took a few minutes to snack on some vittles and have a seat. After 5, I got antsy and got going. The course reminded me of a forgiving, juvenile Chequamegon. The relentless hills and numerous rocks where absent but more sand and the washboard were present. This and the multitude of laps made for a race were recovery could be planned. My pace was holding and by lap seven, the count down began and my plan was to reload with a fresh water bottle and prep the water bottles for laps nine and ten since I figured on not stopping before the final lap. After lap seven, I got all prepped and took off. A half-mile into the lap, I realized I forgot my water bottle. Doh! Mistake #1 but I did have a half bottle of Perpetuem so I made that last. At the end of the lap, I downed much water, and loaded my two last waters.

The countdown of laps soon turned into a countdown of miles and a short goal was to finish within 9 hours. I came in at 8:53 which was way better than I expected. I didn't know what place though. I hadn't seen the other SS'ers during the day. As I was cleaning up, I heard the announcement that I won the Singlespeed category. I won by about 15 minutes so the quick turnovers between laps was essential and may have been the difference maker.

All in all it was a fun race put on by some good people. Each of these WEMS races are all low key and filled with real good singletrack.

What's this all about?

I have a few places where I post this and that so it is time to consolidate. I'm going through a purge time in the life where I want to unload things so I'm gonna unload some words and pix documenting bike adventures. Some other aspects of the life that get some attention when my obsession with bikes takes a back seat will likely pop up.

I'm gonna list some links below to previous race reports that I've written. Check them for any races you want to know about. Going forward, race reporting will be written here.

Thunderdown in the Underdown - written 07/02/2012
Levis-Trow 100 - written 6/11/2012
Chequamegon 40 - written 9/18/2011
Dakota 50 - written 9/6/2011
Powderhorn 24 - written 8/15/2011
Lumberjack 100 - written 6/21/2011
MNMBS Mt. Kato - written 6/6/2011
Chequamegon 100 - written 5/23/2011
Almanzo 100 - written 5/16/2011
Buck Hill - written 5/13/2011
Bandit Cross - written 5/2/2011
Ragnarok 105 - written 4/13/2011

If you can't tell from the reports above, I'm a POS glutton for XC and gravel endurance racing.