Hanson Hills 100 – 1st Single Speed

fullsizeoutput_766It has been quite some time since I have done a 100 mile specific mountain bike race. The Hanson Hills 100 happened to fall at the perfect time with me starting my summer break. I was interested in the course as there happens to be a 24 hour race there in September. I wanted to get a preview of the course in order to know how the terrain and trails treat you in an endurance format.

Fun Promotions puts on a great endurance series up in Michigan. I was very pleased with the grassroots feel of the race. Fun Promotions make you feel at home and are very accomodating. I arrived the day before the race and set up my tent for an overnight and then I hit the trails for a preview. Hanson Hills Recreation Area is a ski hill in the winter time but it has a nice network of trails to enjoy in the summer. The trails have a nice feel to them as you rip around them through sand and rolling hills. The climbing is deceiving as it adds up over a long course but it is spaced out with flow and some fun descents, especially at the end with a bomber jump on an exposed hill side coming into the finish.fullsizeoutput_762

My goal was to put down my best 100 mile time on single track. Most of the racers were competing in the 50 mile version of the race. We all gathered in Grayling at the Kmart and were led out of town under a controlled pace. 3.5 miles to the trails and then it was 4 laps of 24.5 miles. I had a good start and established my pace, which lasted for the first 50 miles. After the 2nd lap, I started experiencing some spasms/minor cramps in my quads. I dialed the pace back and continued to take in my electrolytes and fluids. On the 4th lap, I began to experience stronger cramps in my quads, which resulted in me dismounting at one point to walk/stretch them out. Interesting enough I was able to manage the cramps even though they slowed me a bit over the last 2 laps. The course is very clean and beautiful as it rolls through hardwoods with very little undergrowth giving it a pristine feel. It was warm and a bit humid at times, which contributed to my cramps I suppose as well as being a bit dehydrated the day before the race. I rode with a few other racers for stretches as we paced each other. Everyone was friendly and respectful out on the course.

My goal was obtained as I set my fastest 100 mile specific single track mountain bike time. I finished with a time of (7 hr 33 min) and the single speed win. I’m super stoked over this result but especially with the finishing time. There isn’t much beta out there about the course numbers but it was well over 6000 feet of climbing according to my Garmin. You finish this race knowing that you have climbed.

I hung out with a few of the racers after the race and had lunch with them. I’m looking forward to going back to Hanson Hills in Grayling, MI for the 24 hour race. It is a fun course that most people can ride but it is challenging over time in an endurance format. I recommend giving the Fun Promotion events a try as I had a very enjoyable experience. This was actually my 2nd event put on by Fun Promotions and my experience was the exact same at the 8 hours of Ithaca. I’m really feeling good as I enter summer with my cycling fitness. Next up is the Funk Bottoms Gravel 200K Race. Time to get FUNKY!!!fullsizeoutput_764

 

1st at 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest

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24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest (photo credit: Gillen Photography)

Whoa!!! What a vacation: 42oo mile road trip, pristine camping in Cloudcroft, sunset in the White Sands, 1st at the 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest on the ONE SPEED, lots of green and red chile burritos, a fabulous trek at Tent Rocks and an amazing time bouncing all around New Mexico from one side to another with my super lady Jess Moore!

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Christmas Time

Zia Rides has a formula and it has vibe. I have gotten to know Seth, race director, and he knows how to put on a competitive event filled with fun that satisfies everyone with entertainment, food, drink and hospitality. I have done two of his events now and I’m super stoked every time I line up at a  Zia Rides event. I highly recommend trying one of his multiple mountain bike endurance events and you will be better for it, trust me.

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Church Rock-Gallup, NM

Located just outside of Gallup, NM at the USFS McGaffey Campground the course was a beauty set at 8000 feet above sea level in the beautiful Zuni Mountains among beautiful pine and aspen trees. A lap consisted of 13.5 miles and just over 900 feet of elevation gain. The lap started off with a flowy section that climbs up in the middle and ends with a flowy descent back to the start. I chose a rigid setup and again I overestimated my ability to absorb punishment over a 24 period. The middle of the course was rocky in sections and a rocky descent near the end that over time punished me like an old school teacher slapping your hand with a ruler back in the day when you spoke out of turn. That being said, a lot of the other riders that I talked to said it beat them down over time as well even with suspension. Dust was a huge issue being in such a dry climate and I rode a lot of the day laps with a bandana wrapped around my face to filter it out looking like I was about to rob a train. I recommend wearing one in settings such as these especially at the beginning when the line of riders is like a herd of cattle being rustled into a corral. The dust even with glasses on made its way into my eyes and they stayed irritated and red for several days after the race. In the end a 24 hour race is a beat down and you should expect no less if you are going at it solo. That is what makes a solo a SOLO! The course was a beauty as it wrapped around and slid through the Zuni high desert landscape.

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The field of single speeders was a solid one and the winner from last year was present so I knew that I would have to stay focused and drive steady. With Jess in my corner I knew I could do just that. The temperatures were a beast out there ranging from a high of 100 during the day and dropping to 40 in the wee hours of the morning. My body was going through spasms at times due to the extreme changes out there on course throughout the day and night. Jess kept me massaged and kept me hydrated and nourished throughout the race. I truly couldn’t have done it without her caring and prompt attention. As the race commenced, I held a steady pace with quick pits and eventually built up a lead of 2 laps on the second place single speeder. I also was in the overall lead out of all solo riders, geared, by one lap. After 20 hours of beating my body on the rigid single speed I decided that my lead was strong enough to call it and enjoy some libations. An amazing race in a spectacular setting. One of the strongest performances in my racing career. The racers were truly top-notch and very mannerful. I met some solid racers out on course and I look forward to riding  with them again. Seth runs a top notch organization and it shows out there on the course and the racers adopt that sensibility. I can’t wait to get out to New Mexico again and race another Zia Rides event.

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A few highlights on the course: dodging of cows at all hours, bacon at the Bacon Station, a beautiful setting in the Zuni Mountains, 200 miles in 20 hours on rip-roaring single track, my light going out on me during the middle of the course at 3 a.m., flowy trails like Y2K that make you grin from ear to ear, friendly and respectful racers at all times out on the course, a great race organization that thought of everything that made everyone’s weekend one to remember, and having Jess in my corner always smiling!

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Whites Sands

This was a big win for many reasons. One, it is always a huge satisfaction when you can drive across the country and take a win in a setting that you are not familiar with in regards to temperatures, climate and elevation. Second, the 24 hours in the Enchanted Forest is the first race in a 3 part series to crown the 24 National Champion in Geared and Single Speed Solo formats. Since USAC disbanded the 24 Hour crown, Seth and a group of other race directors decided to put together a new championship to honor those that are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones to endure 24 hours of punishment. Being that I won the first race in the series, I now lead the charge towards the crown for the single speed national championship. The next race is in Oregon which is followed by the final race in Utah. I’m considering the chase as I feel like these opportunities don’t come around often. We shall see so stay tuned!

Thanks again to all of my sponsors for equipping me with the best. When you are a solo rider in an endurance format it makes a really big difference knowing that you can depend on your equipment for 24 hours without a hiccup. Zia Rides for going above and beyond to put on a stellar event. Most of all I want to thank Jess for traipsing around the country and being in my corner. Without her I would be a ragged mess and wouldn’t be able to reach my full potential.

A great vacation it was and one that will go down in the memory book of awesomeness!

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Tent Rocks

Cheers New Mexico!

 

Winter and the Year Ahead

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Its that time of the year…you either hibernate or make it count. If you choose to make it count well then you must endure the cold and wet. Proper clothing and layers make this possible, so don’t think that you have to ride the trainer all winter long. Don’t get me wrong, the trainer is a convenient alternative and less prep is needed on those super cold days and dark evenings after work. On those days that winter recedes during the winter months, one must take advantage. Recently, I was able to do just that with the Ohio Gravel Grinders in Scioto Trails State Park. Great day on the bike with 50+ riders slinging gravel in the hills of Chillicothe. Look for local riding groups or visit your local bike shop and ask about weekend/group rides. It is always more fun when you are playing in the winter with others. I find that when the temps are below freezing that the single track is a treat, especially if it has a layer of snow lacing it. Before you know it spring will reenter the picture and winter will be but a memory. Make it count and come spring you will be surprised at your level of fitness.

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2016 looks to be another great year to be racing. I’m starting to select races for the year. Mountain bike racing has really exploded across the multi-disciplines and the venues across the country are numerous. First, I will be meeting up with my good friend and racing partner Paul for some grinding in Indiana next month. This summer I’m looking forward to getting back out to New Mexico and ripping it up in the high desert. I will have an endurace focus as always along with some cross country thrown in for some variety throughout the year on the single speed.

I’m stoked to have all of my sponsors back for the year. One that Im really excited about is my continuation with the Truck Co Posse Mountain Bike Team. If you don’t know then you should know that Trucker Co kicks out some amazing products for your cycling needs: Tire Sealant, Brake Pads, Grips, Cables and Housing and Valve Stems. I recommend all of their products and I use them on all of my bikes. I have stood on podiums due to my bikes being equipped with Trucker Co products.12185505_10153236187867986_3259329151881781089_o-2

Jess will be in my corner throughout the year providing care and support on my crazy tests of Metal. A huge thanks, hugs and kisses to her for all that she does.

Cheers

1st Overall at 24 Hours of DINO

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Versailles State Park in Indiana is where it all went down. This park is beautiful and I really have to commend Indiana on a job well done. The terrain was an up and down affair on a course consisting of 13 mile laps with a 1000 feet of elevation gain per lap. I was impressed with the course, which consisted of a good mix of everything a mountain biker craves from ruggedness to flat-out ripping berms. I chose to race single speed [rigid]…note to self, “Idiot”! The course had a lot more rock and technical terrain then what I was anticipating and I felt it in the end. It is very difficult to complete a 24 hour race without support in the pits. Jess ran the pits for me and did an exceptional job keeping me on the go for 24 hours. The DINO crew put on a stellar event and I recommend their races. The 24 hours of DINO had a 6 hour and 12 hour option if you didn’t have 24 hours of abuse to spare.

The race started with a short run with either your saddle or a wheel around the pool to your bike. Once my front wheel was attached I began my 24 hours of nonstop boogie woogie. I settled into a steady pace with an emphasis on pace control. 24 hours is a long time and pacing is key. The key is to always move no matter how slow you get. Once you stop it becomes very difficult to get going again. This was even more true as the low reached down to 45 degrees that night. I was able to adhere to my plan and with Jess and the Grave Yard Shift Sergeant running the pits my pit stops were always smooth and quick. DSC_4567

This allowed me to always be on the move. My goal was to get 200 miles. The course was a lot of fun but it beats you up after 24 hours and because I’m so smart and ran a rigid fork the beating was compounded. As I type this report my hands are still numb. I don’t recommend a rigid fork on this course for 24 hours. What was I to do though as I couldn’t ride wheelies for 200 miles, so I adopted my new favorite mantra of “Suck it up, Cupcake!”. About 12 hours in to the race I was told that I had the overall lead. The DINO crew thought that I was a 12 hour racer and was confused as to why I went back out for another lap at midnight. Come to find out had I done the 12 hour race I would have won the overall solo.DSC_4563

My pace was solid throughout the race and I was pleased with my fitness. In August I raced short and fast races successfully with little emphasis on endurance. My endurance seemed to be right on as I went through the night without issue. My nutrition was good and no gut distress was experienced. I think I have honed that process down to what works for me in these types of races. The issue I dealt with that caused the greatest struggle was the impact of plowing down the rocky and rooty sections on the course. The rigid fork beat me and it really became a struggle to hang on at times. Due to the exposure on some parts of the trail and the bone rattling my body was feeling, I had some moments where I thought I was going to have to eject due to loss of control. In the end, I was able to hang on and this cupcake did suck it up. I won the single speed and overall male title. I completed 208 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing on a strong course in 21.5 hours. I could have done 2 more laps but there was no need as my pacing and steady movement afforded me that luxury and my rigor mortis stricken body was thankful to unsaddle from the bike.

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I’m always impressed with the mountain bike endurance community in regards to how the racers are generous and positive out there on the trail. This held true at the 24 hours of DINO. I ran into a buddy of mine, Matt Curry, and it was great catching up with him as he took 2nd place in the Solo Male Division. Nothing but good vibes from me to the DINO race scene. I had a great time and it is always special to have Jess in my corner. I have had an exceptional year racing and I want to thank all of my sponsors for their support.

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I have been running the Loaded X-lite Ultra Carbon 29 Wheelset this year. They have been remarkable. I have won more than a few races on them this year from XC to 24 Hours. Here is the process in which Loaded creates and describes one of their master pieces…“Ultra light weight, ultra durable. Utilizing the state of the art manufacturing processes and cutting edge technology, Loaded Precision has produced quite possibly the strongest and lightest tubeless carbon fiber mountain bike rims available today. They use a Carbon Knitting Technique (CKT), securing the carbon layers together through a refined knitting and bonding process. All X-lite Ultra Rims feature True Bead Technology- Loaded’s very own Tubeless System that provides an efficient interface between the tire and rim for easy installation and inflation”. The way they hook up and respond is amazing. The lateral stiffness is impressive when railing through turns and berms. I have to admit I have never had a wheelset that responds and holds like these babies. They seem to track exceptionally well no matter what you throw at them. The trueness of the wheel seems to never get thwarted. Durable they are as I have pounded them all year-long on a rigid fork setup. They are light and incredibly strong as you should expect. Mounting tubeless tires up is easy and I recommend Trucker Co tire sealant, the best cream tire sealant in the universe.

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Suck it up, Cupcake!

1st at 8 Hours of Ithaca

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Jail House Growler

It was hot and humid…the trails were slick and the bridges were booby traps. Another one in the books and another win. It has been a great year of racing. I wanted to try out the Michigan scene and I wasn’t disappointed. Some great competition to be had up there. Ithaca is a small little town in central Michigan that contains the Jail House Trail at the local fairground. It is a twisted maze of weave that accumulates into 5.6 miles of a ripping good time of dizzy. Fun Promotions runs this event along with several other endurance events in the Michigan Cup Endurance Series. Fun Promotions put on a great race in the 8 hours of Ithaca. After driving 4.5 hours north from Dayton with my lady on one of the hottest days of the year without A/C, we arrived with 50 minutes until the start. A quick hustle to setup the pits and I was off with an impressive field of single speeders. A bit of rain and a thunderstorm made a visit, which buttered up the already peanut butter slick trails and it was a slip/slide affair. I settled into 2nd place early and rode steady. I haven’t raced this year in conditions that were really hot and humid, so I wanted to pace myself. It paid off as the first place rider, Alex from Tree Fort Bikes, held the lead with me always within ~5 minutes the entire race until the last lap and I passed him out of the pits and made the run to the finish. 19 laps (106 miles) in 8 hours. It was a close one for the entire 8 hours and steady pacing won it for me on this day. Alex was solid and hats off to him for running a solid race. Jess was always smiling while running the pits and kept me going without delay. It really makes a positive impact when the pits are smooth and items are easily accessible. In the end, I felt good and easily could have laid down more laps. The humidity was rough and hydration was key out there. The trails were fun and fast.

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Wolf Tooth Components did me well with my drivetrain setup. I ran a 32T front chain ring and 17T rear cog. I really like the chainring and single speed cog setup. I drove it hard and the chain just locked in and propelled on these gears. The chainring has the Drop Stop tooth design which forms to the anatomy of a chain. Made out of aluminum, so that keeps the drive train setup light.

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Trucker Co tire sealant once again saved the day. I didn’t realize it until the next morning after the race when I noticed a small stick impaled in the front tire. I never lost any air pressure. Solid sealant and I highly recommend it for tubeless setups, it can make a huge difference in winning or losing as it did in this race for me.

Im hoping that the wet summer starts to dry up some here in the midwest, so that more riding and racing can be undertaken.

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Pedal On!

Cheers!