Thursday, March 31, 2011

Warrior Creek preparation

I've been working extra hours all week to get caught up enough at work to be able to get off early to do some recon at Warrior Creek before race day.  The plan worked.  I'll get off at lunch Friday, get the bike ready and head to the trails.  There is also this race clinic at 6:00pm I may hang around for:

Anyone can attend, so come on out.  If you can't make it - I'll post the trail conditions Friday evening when I get back.

Training for this week has been pretty light because of WC, but I did manage to work some intensity into the schedule.  With the local trails being pretty much closed all week, I headed out to Orr Rd on Tuesday evening to do my first crit there.  Orr Rd is a small loop in an industrial park.  The surface is pretty smooth and the corners are wide.  The front stretch is half down hill, then back uphill.  The back stretch is similar but to a much lesser degree.  There must have been over 60 racers there.  It's pretty informal, so there are no separation of classes or categories.  Some people joined late and some fell out and jumped back in.  I played it pretty cautious, not knowing what to expect and not wanting to get hurt prior to the big race this weekend.  I finished with the pointy end of the pack, but felt like I could have gone faster most of the race.  I was surprised when I downloaded my Garmin and found the average speed for the race was over 27mph! 

See you on the trails.

If you listen real close you can hear Warrior Creek slowly drying out...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Warrior Creek - what not to do.

If you are new to Warrior Creek or new to 6-hour endurance races, there are a few things that make this race unique.

1.  As in all of mountain biking, for every uphill there is a downhill and vice versa.  At Warrior Creek the payback comes fast and frequent.  You are perpetually going up and down, left and right.  The trail is mostly smooth and the corners bermed.  This keeps the pace high.  Don't make the mistake of being impatient and trying to always keep the pace high.  The 2 biggest climbs come in the last 3rd of the lap and feel extra slow because the first part of the lap is fast.  Don't make the mistake of going over lactate threshold early in the race.

2.  The laps are long.  13 miles long.  Be sure to carry enough food and hydration to complete a lap.  Last year it was kinda warm and I witnessed a lot of folks who bonked, cramped or were dehydrated.  Make the time to eat and drink during the lap.  Don't wait for the pit each lap.

3.  The start is important, but not important enough to burn yourself up and spend the rest of the first lap trying to recover.  There is a long paved section you only ride during the start.  It's easy to go too hard.  The smooth pavement makes it easy to push past your endurance pace.  Get a reasonable start so you are with folks about your speed on the single track.  The pack will spread out quickly and most riders are courteous about moving over or announcing their intent to pass.

4.  The trail is a blast to ride.  Don't forget to enjoy it!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Training phase one: New bike. It's Superfly

Last Thursday my Superfly 100 Elite was still in a box riding on the UPS truck.  It was assembled by the good folks at Cool Breeze Cyclery in time for me to pick it up that same evening.  Friday I put the pedals on and adjusted the fit.  Today was its’ debut ride. 
With rain imminent, I arrived at Lake Norman State Park shortly after the gates opened.  I’ve been riding 29er hardtails (Gary Fisher Rig and Paragon) so I was surprised how lively and responsive the Superfly’s full suspension felt.  It was very confidence inspiring and I found myself going faster than I realized.  I was concerned about the 2x10 gearing.  I normally ride single speed or 1x9 because I don’t like shifting the front rings.  Not only was shifting the front quite seamless, it was also not needed.  Riding a lively endurance pace (definitely not hammering) I was able to comfortably ride all of the trails in the big ring.  The bike doesn’t really care about cross-chaining.  It never complained about being in the big – big combination.  I was only scheduled for a 2 hour ride, so after a lap of all the loops and a 2nd trip around the Laurel Loop (I have to confess to a little bit of hammering the 2nd time around) it was time to cool down and quit for the day.
My first race for the Superfly will be at the 6 hours of Warrior Creek next weekend.  This race will serve as a tune-up and dial in section (for me and the bike) for the Cohutta 100 Mile MTB race at the end of April, followed by the Trans-Sylvania Epic stage race at the end of May.

Feel free to come by the Trek Store/Cool Breeze tent at Warrior Creek this weekend and introduce yourself and check out the cool Trek bikes.

See you on the trails!
Trek Bicycle Store/Cool Breeze Cyclery MTB racer