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!

 

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!

1st at AMLX (Allegheny Mountains Loop Extreme)

Extreme…a bit of an understatement. I was supposed to compete in the 12 Hours of Lodi but it was cancelled. It was going to be my sayonara to racing in Virginia. There I was twiddling my thumbs and pondering my options…I knew about an inaugural event that was going to take place the same weekend. A little hop and skip from Blacksburg, VA up to Maryland and then you turn around and follow the course all the way back to Blacksburg. A course that traverses back and forth across the Virginia and West Virginia borders along the Allegheny Mountains. 520 miles of mostly (80%) dirt (single track, double track, dirt, gravel) and pavement while accumulating over 50,000 feet of climbing. You might say…what??? At the time I was like no problem, let’s do it! 20150501_060020 There I was on Friday morning with a group of intrepid adventurers standing in the rain at 6am on the steps of the war memorial at Virginia Tech awaiting the go. The rain was an omen I believe for the pain that was about to come as it rained all day off and on. We take off and set a steady brisk pace with some small talk. We made our way out of Blacksburg along some rolling roads eventually coming to our first big climb up to Mountain Lake Lodge (Dirty Dancing movie location). I was leading the way with a few guys not far behind. As the day progressed I seemed to be maintaining the lead so I was happy even though the rain was making descents quite sketchy. 20150501_130300 I was covered in mud after the descent down from the lodge and made my way on to Paint Bank, VA. As you make your way along the course you see some amazing things. One of my favorites without a doubt are the buffalo that you pass by on your way to Paint Bank. I gave them the rock on sign and jammed on my way. The rest of the day would be up and down and up and down. In and out and in out of rain. On the Switzerland Trail a thunderstorm passed over and rocked the mountain as I was turning the cranks over on its 20% plus grade. Once I was around Lake Moomaw and had re-provisioned at the marina. I was off to begin the arduous climb up from Mountain Grove, VA. Feeling good still…alright this is going to be cake. Dark starts to set in as I descend down from the ridge. The rain is starting to abate. I’m thinking I will go through the night without sleep. Hahaha. Eventually, later in the night as I’m reaching the 20,000 feet of climbing for the day and 200 miles of riding I found myself in Zombie World. Zombie World is this special little place where one enters when one has pushed themselves too hard for too long…you start to weave and jerk…you see things that aren’t really there…you don’t realize how slow you are moving. Somehow realizing this alteration that was overtaking me, I find a place off the dirt road and bed down for a few hours. Of course I didn’t bring a sleeping bag, I brought an emergency bivy bag. It got down in the 30s and being dehydrated from my effort complicated temperature retention to say the least. The bivy bag doesn’t compensate much, so I put on all of my layers and make do. I’m up and going again at 5am. Not realizing that I had been passed in the night by Kevin Greten. I knew I was in first when I laid down and I figured that hadn’t changed. I start seeing tire tracks and I’m like what??? I put it in go mode and begin a tiring push towards the Maryland border. Climb after climb and I finally reach the final section that leads up to Thomas, WV. This little stretch is a 10 mile single track trail that climbs all the way up to it, yeah. It passes by numerous waterfalls and cascades. I get to Thomas in need of sustenance but first I needed to go to the Maryland border. I make the border and come back to Thomas and as I do I run into Kevin. He is on his way to the border turn around. I’m back in front…sweet. 20150502_130713 I stop off in Thomas at the Flying Pig for some food. I take some food away with me as well. This course has very few resupply towns so when you have the chance one must do it. Feeling recharged and amped up, I set off and begin the long and grueling push to the finish. Knowing exactly what lies in front of me now, I realize that this isn’t going to be easy. I have completed 260 miles and 25,000 feet of climbing at this point in 30 hours. It will take a lot more than 30 hours on the return. 20150502_170347 As dark sets in on the second night, I begin to realize that I’m in pain. My chamois area we shall call it has started chaffing and due to my negligence has started to show its evil in retaliation. I deal with it by applying some chamois butter and popping Advil. Knowing that I’m in the lead, I decide to push on and try to create some distance between myself and Kevin. I make it through Bartow, WV and begin the climb up to the border of WV and VA where HWY 250 crosses. I make it about 3/4 of the way up and Zombie World starts creeping back into my being. I decide that I will sleep on the side of the dirt road, so that I will be able to hear Kevin if he slips up on me. After about 3 hours, here comes Kevin. I’m like what??? I unravel myself out of my bivy and pack up. Off after Kevin I go. I catch up on the stretch along Back Creek Road. We ride along with each other in the wee morning with some banter about how brutal the course is and such. We make our way to a big climb up Mill Gap Rd. I decide that I will put the hammer down here and make my final push to the finish. I do and I don’t see Kevin. I make my way to the top and traverse the 20 mile ridge line that leads you back down to Mountain Grove, VA. I enjoy the descent letting it fly by like I have no other care in the world. I make my way through the day trying to focus on steady effort with limited stops. I eventually make it to Covington, VA for resupply and I’m about 85 miles from the finish. The night was cold dropping to 32 degrees and now it is 85. My body hates me and it is letting me know as I feel pains and fatigue setting in all over. I eat some snacks and stock up as I know the 2 climbs that I’m about to face will be daunting. The climb up Castille Rd. is no joke as it has some 30% grade in places. I trudge along and top out and make my way over the next climb up HWY 311 that leads down to Paint Bank, VA. I stop off there and it is 5pm. I have a buffalo burger and restock again on supplies. I figure I will make it all the way now. 56 miles left but first I have one more big climb that really punches you in the gut and that is the one back up to Mountain Lake Lodge. A solid 2000 ft climb from Paint Bank. I’m hurting something fierce in the chamois region. The best way to describe this would be to imagine yourself sitting down on a bike saddle that has nails coming up through it. I have to force myself to pull myself down on to my saddle. For relief I pedal standing. When I am on the saddle, my pedal gait is disrupted because it is trying to compensate to relieve pain. This has caused my knees to start tweaking out. It becomes a test of grit to push on in a way I have rarely experienced. My negligence has cost me dearly. I make my way one stroke at a time and top off at Mountain Lake Lodge right at dark. I turn my lights on and descend down knowing that I’m almost there. Once you make your way to the bottom you have about 25 miles to the finish. However, it is a constant grade of never-ending rollers all the way back to the war memorial at Virginia Tech. Adrenaline starts to set in and numbness delivers it self to my pain receptors and I pedal on and pedal on. The rollers keep on coming and keep on coming and I’m like really I mean really…enough already. Just about that time I start to realize that I’m going through subdivisions. I’m getting close….ahhh. Oh yeah, I see more lights. Low and behold I come out into Blacksburg. It is around 11:30 pm. I navigate through the streets and roll on to Virginia Techs campus and approach the war memorial. I collapse against one of the memorial pillars. After 65 hours it is done! 520 miles and 52,000 feet of climbing on some of the most rugged and unforgiving terrain you could wish for that has thrown rain, thunderstorms, freezing and 90 degree temperatures at me…I had survived. 20150503_233823-2 I was able to hold off Kevin for the victory and the battle with him was a worthy one. I had to earn it and I take my hat off to him. Great job and thank you sir! I want to thank Chris Tompkins, curator of the AML and AML X. He goes above and beyond gathering data and helping the racers, thank you brother.  I want to thank all of my family and friends for their support and following along on the satellite feed. It means a lot knowing that you are watching me. I want to thank my sweet lady, Jess, for all of the loving care she gives me. The course is beautiful and wildlife is abundant. Waterfalls and big views galore. This is not a course to be taken lightly.Truly a rugged and remote wilderness experience. It is very tough and you need to be prepared as the services are far and few, especially on the northern section. The temperatures can range all over. Storms come and go as they do in the mountains. The climbing is no joke and to put that in perspective, the AMLX has 520 miles and 52,000 feet of climbing compared to the Tour Divides 2800 miles and 200,000 feet of climbing. That is a 100,000 additional feet of climbing if the Tour was on the same scale as the AMLX. The climbs are by far steeper on the AMLX. For more info on the course and race. I used Trucker Co. brake pads and tire sealant for the AMLX and I was very impressed. The pads held up amazingly well providing incredible stopping control on the steep descents. They were quiet on the noise factor and nicely bedded into my rotors. The sealant did its job 100% as I had no leak down. My tire pressure maintained over the entire 520 miles of ruggedness. Sayonara Virginia! Its been fun and lots of memories to last a lifetime. The AMLX gave me a going out kick in the ***…I wouldn’t want it any other way. Cheers

1st at TommyKnocker 10

Jackhammering Effect

First race of the year was a big success. I was able to ride hard and consistent for 9 hours while amassing 100 miles and 8000 feet of climbing. The TommyKnocker went down in Silver City, NM. The trails were amazing in the high desert at 6000 feet elevation. We rode on the trails at Fort Bayard and they were high desert winding zip and pop. The first half of the course was a climb that was steady and gradual with a few rollers. The second half was a roller coaster with a few technical pop ups. The course consisted of gravelly sand and rock. The rocky course did beat you over time especially on my rigid setup. By the time I finished I was feeling the post jackhammering effect in my body. The fuzzy podium picture represents my vision at the time. Cactus was prevelant but not too close to the trail. You definitely want to run sealant as I did pick up some cactus burrs. The weather was grand and a nice break from what we have been subject to on the east coast. I was impressed with Zia Rides as they put on a stellar event and gave it a down home flavor. The single speed division was fairly big for an endurance lap race and there were some strong riders. The “OO” Buckshot that I just did a build write up on in the previous post was bomber. It rocked and even though I ran rigid the carbon absorbed and responded well to the undulating of the course rather that was tight turns on an uphill requiring massive torque or the bouncing through a rock garden. I was especially pleased with my Loaded Precision Ultra  XLite carbon wheels. They flat out hooked up.

Ripping it at the Tommyknocker

My training has been limited this winter but my power was solid as well as my endurance which I was a bit worried about since my rides have been short. Adjusting to the altitude and sleep deprivation from the quick travel to the race was a challenge. I seemed to make it happen and I was very pleased as I was able to take the lead on lap 1 and ended up lapping the single speed field. I was able to stop an hour early due to my lead. I could have done another lap but my body was thankful that it wasn’t needed. I credit my girlfriend for keeping me fueled and smiling out on the course. Thank you baby. I would also like to thank my sponsors especially Loaded Precision for the carbon wheels and cockpit, ESI for the grips, xpedo for the pedals, Kogel Bearings for the bottom bracket and Twin Six for the stylish and functional Metal bike kits. Also, Trucker Co. has brought me on as one of their posse and I will be running their brake pads and tire sealant. I’m super pumped about being with these guys. It was a hoot and I’m pumped for the year as I have some amazing challenges in front of me that I’m eager to face. Again thanks to Zia Rides for hosting such a great event.  Jess Moore was a jewel out there and I’m very thankful that I have her in my corner. We are wrapping up an amazing tour across the southwest that has taken us from Albuquerque, NM to Idyllwild, CA. Thank you baby.

Celebrating the Victory

Get out and jam people. Spring is upon us.

Riding the Chutes in Tucson, AZ

Riding in Idyllwild, CA

Cheers!