The 2009 Grindstone 100, Blue Mtn. Chain Stretcher & The Rumble in the Jungle!
Another adventurous weekend coming up! Elizabeth and I are heading down to Virginia where she will be racing in the Grindstone 100 Mile Endurance run through the George Washington National Forest. This is an epic race with 23,000 feet of elevation gain through out the course. The race starts at Camp Shenandoah at 6pm on Friday October 2nd and has the runners running 12+ hours in the dark to start off. Right from the gun they will be heading up a 2,400 foot climb! If all goes well, we will be heading back up north Sunday morning so that I can compete in my final race of the season, The Ringwood Fall Classic Mountain Bike race. This will be my 21st race of the season, which started back in March. Here are recaps of my last two mountain bike races that were part of the H2H series.
September 13th race was the Blue Mountain chain stretcher
This is a hard, fast, technical course, that if you slip up once, your off the back and chasing the rest of the day. I say this because this is exactly how my race went. Right from the start we sprinted down the parking lot area and dove into a tight single track. We bombed down and approached the 1st slightly technical section, in which about 20 yards before it my front tire went right out from under me and I was now off the bike. I had to wait until everyone passed until I could remount and start chasing. It took me the rest of the 1st lap to get back up to 4th position but the front runners already had a pretty good gap on me of about 3 minutes. Instead of playing it safe I decided to try to bridge up to them and in doing so I was taking some chances along the way. I was starting to close the gap and could see them every so often as some of the tight, twisty single track wrapped around near one another. Each time I put in a bigger effort, but as the laps ticked by and my energy starting to drain, I started to get a bit sloppy as well. Just when I was about to reach them, I became unclipped and got slowed up by some of the technical stuff and would lose ground again. In the end I put one last big effort going up the final climb but my legs would have none of it and I just road my way calmly to the finish, crossing in 5th place.
September 27th race was the Rumble in the Jungle mountain bike race
This area is reclaimed land that use to be a Warner Bros theme park with a drive through safari. You can still see a lot of the reminisce of the park as you ride through the trails. Thanks to JORBA and the many mountain bikers who volunteered to clean up the park, remove all the garbage and carve in some great single track, we now can enjoy it as it should be, a Rumble in The Jungle. The trails are very tight and twisty, with long rock gardens that really tests a riders technical ability.
The Pro field didn't start until about 1pm, so with the night before seeing significant rain fall and the morning of the rain still being present, the course was going to really test our ability to endure, especially since the trails were now a deep mix of mud and rocks. The 1st lap trail conditions were actually pretty good surprisingly, since a few 100 riders already completed hundreds of laps on the course. I was feeling good going into the beginning climb and was running 3rd. About half way through the lap I narrowly got around a rider in front who was bounced off the trail. Just after I passed him, I was riding a difficult line of choice and ran right into a tree, causing my handle bars to twist around. Not knowing this until I quickly regained my position, did I look down and see that they were twisted.
I dove off the trail to get out of everyones way and realigned my bars. So once again I was off the back and chasing the pack. I caught back up and found my rhythm again. Going into the end of the 2nd lap, I started to notice the trails really becoming slick and my bike starting to take on some mud but everything was still good. About mid way through the 3rd lap, my bike was taking on some serious mud that caused me several times to get off and remove huge chunks of it from between my frame and wheel. This in turn, caused me to muddy up my gloves which then made it very difficult to work my sram twist shifters. From here on out, the goal was to get to the finish line safely and hopefully without any really damage to the bike. Making my way on my 4th and final lap, I was starting to get a few cramps and was in need for a fresh water bottle from Elizabeth who was supporting me. I was using a lot of my fluids to clean off my gloves and shifters as I was riding. Unfortunately Elizabeth was told that the Pro field was only doing 3 laps instead of 4 and was aware of my need so I finished my 4th lap pretty dehydrated but still with a smile on my face and crossed the line once again in 5th place.
Lastly, A big congratulations to MPF Athlete Joey Wyckoff, who raced his first XC mountain bike race. He raced in the Rumble in the Jungle and took 1st place! At only 16 years of age he has developed into a very strong and technically skilled rider. Watch out for him in the future!