Training days… I spent four hours in the saddle on my cross bike Yesterday. That time was spent on a mixture of tarmac, dirt, grass, and a touch of gravel. I’m half way or so to my intended seven or eight-hour day of pedaling in preparation for The Lumberjack. I’m looking forward to more time riding mountain bike trails now that the trail systems are all drying up.
This weekend I raced in the Founders Brewing Barry Roubaix 62 mile gravel road race with some teammates and friends. The race takes place near Hastings, MI on gravel, tarmac, and dirt roads and has near 5,000 feet of elevation to climb, or so my Garmin says. It’s the largest gravel race I’ve ever taken part of with something like 3,500 participants. One side note, I didn’t take any pictures during the race so I looked for photos that showed the terrain, and as such I’m only in the last photo.
My family drove up on Friday, and for a few miles of the drive it looked like time was spinning backwards and winter made a reappearance.
On race day, the weather was nice in that it was dry and the wind was low, but it was cold at around 18ºF when the first wave went off. With one minute before the whistle blew, I had no nerves which was nice. I had a plan to start at a quick but endurance pace and as the race progressed, I would start to ramp up the push. I wanted to end the race pushing hard. In the end, I think I accomplished exactly that.
We pedaled through farm roads, country tarmac, and dirt roads. There were some nice views to take in while racing.
I finished the race in 3 hours and 48 minutes. I was pretty happy. I felt good at the end. This was a silent test of fitness as I’ve got a big (for me) race planned for June of this year (Lumberjack 100 mile mountain bike race). Overall, I had a good time and the conditions were great. The cold temps were a slight worry before the race went off, but my Gore gear kept me comfortable and the roads stayed mud free largely. It probably won’t be the last time I race the Barry Roubaix.
Last weekend I raced in my first crit of 2015 at the Tour of St. Louis Omnium Saturday race. It was a beautiful spring day to race bikes. When the whistle blew I joined two teammates and about fifty others in the cat 4 race. I spent the race mixing it up with the different teams and people. It was a lot of fun. I went for a preme (lap prizes that happen mid race) and came up second, I tried to lead a teammate out for the finish but we came up short. Would I change anything, no. The excitement and intensity of the racing is enough for me, coupled with the team strategy it’s a lot of fun. Racing for the joy of racing, I don’t think it gets any better.
Crits are a weird thing for me personally, I came from a background of speed skating before I ever raced a bike and a criterium is the only form of cycling that draws out the same excitement as short track speed skating did. The downside is crashes are a part of the sport. In MTB racing every crash I’ve ever had is because of a mistake I made. In crits, that’s not the case. You can find yourself sliding on asphalt at 30 miles per hour without ever having made a mistake. Someone fifteen riders ahead of you makes a mistake and you can pay for it. Bodily injury is the real worry, but being out thousands in equipment isn’t fun either. That said I really enjoy crits for the positive aspects they provide. For me, I had to come to terms with the real possibility that I’m going to crash, and my bike is probably going to be damaged. Obviously that’s not fun, but it’s the price of admission if you’re honest. I gained a lot of peace of mind from coming to terms with that. That and good health and bicycle racing insurance :)
While in Kentucky this weekend for NAHBS, we made a stop by the Louisville Mega Cavern Bike Park. It’s a big underground cavern of attractions including zip lines, tours, and now a MTB/ dirt jump park. It was pretty interesting looking around while in there at the walls and ceiling. The cave stays 58º F on average year round or so I read on one of the fact sheets hanging up.
If you’re in search for a jump park to ride during the winter, this is a great option, or so it looked from a non jumper’s perspective. Beyond the jumps, there were smaller roughly tenth mile sections of MTB trail that you could link together to make big loops around the park, varying the lines and obstacles each lap. While I had a good time, I’m not sure there is enough to do to warrant a trip back for the non jumping crowd.
I’ve wanted attend the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) for a few years now. I’ve eagerly awaited the coverage every spring to see some of the finest craftsmanship in the bicycle industry. With the show taking place in Louisville Kentucky this year, we planned a long weekend to attend.
The experience was pretty neat. There were four rows of booths with eye candy in them. I spoke to some companies in person that I’ve wanted to about future projects and took some pictures. I was a little unsure of what I would be able to capture there. The bikes deserve better photos than what I was able to capture this year. To be honest, all of that falls on me. I didn’t bring any flash gear and I didn’t set up a great location. I also imagine it’s hard for big name brands to let me pull their bike out of their booth for ten minutes to shoot it knowing that my smaller blog’s reach is dwarfed by other sites/ and photographers in attendance. I get it.
For amazing coverage of the show, check out The Radavist. I met John from The Radavist on Saturday for a few moments. He was really nice and friendly. His photography and site are an inspiration.