Monday, July 15, 2013

Enduro Stuff Oaks Race

This past weekend was the Irvine Park/Santiago Oaks race put on by Enduro Stuff Events. This was the third race in the OC Parks Tour 2013. I was unable to make the first two races earlier in the year. Last year I registered for this particular race but ended up missing it due to a work conflict. I look forward to this race because it takes place on many of the local trails I ride every week. It tends to reward good all around riders who climb and descend well. This year I entered in the Expert category where riders do 3 laps of the course, each lap being just short of 10 miles and approx. 1,200 feet of elevation gain per lap. The race began and the pro/expert group headed out on the first lap. The pace was slow to start but it quickly changed when we hit the first climb and the group began to separate. I knew I couldn't hang with the front group and quickly dropped back and set into my own pace, knowing that 3 laps was going to be difficult at a race-type pace. I rode for a lot of the race by myself and was passed by 3 riders all of which were in the sport category and only doing two laps. 
There were 15 riders that did 3 laps on the course (pros/experts). Overall I ended up 11th out of 15 and 4th out of the 6 riders in the expert 30-39 age group. Two of my friends who raced both won their age group and cat. Josh Jacquot took first in the same group as me (expert 30-39) and Matthew Palmer took first in the single-speed open cat. Total time for me was 2:22 with approx. 44 min lap times. I haven't been riding near as much as I have wanted to over the past few months so I was happy with my result given the amount of time I've had on the bike since Vision Quest in early April. 

Scott from Called to Creation captured some nice images of the racers. Results

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vision Quest 2013

VQ/CC start from the Blackstar Gate
The annual Counting Coup & Vision Quest put on by the Warrior's Society was held this past Saturday. My alarm went off at 3:40am and I was quickly up scrambling to get some food down and be ready by the time my ride picked me up at 4:30am. My friend Brandon and I drove out to the start area in Blackstar Canyon and were able to grab our wristband, drop off my aid station 2 drop bag (of which I never ended up using), and get a quick stretch in before lining up at the gate for the countdown to the start. Both events start at 5:30am with a fast-paced sprint out the dirt fire road in Blackstar Canyon.

Above the clouds heading to Motorway
This was my third year doing either VQ/CC and each year I'm amazed at how fast such a long endurance race starts. The weather was perfect with a low layer of clouds that created a slight mist and when combined with the dust bowl from riding out the canyon road it created a thick layer of brown gunk that stuck to me and my bike. I found myself settling in to a nice pace on the Blackstar climb and ended up getting a PR on the gate to gate segment with a time of 43 minutes. As the sun was coming up and we climbed above the clouds, we made our way across the main divide to Motorway, the first technical descent that takes you to the bottom of Silverado Canyon where the first aid station is located.

Quick stop at aid station 1
I met my family support crew and my friend Josh who ended up riding with me all the way to Santiago Peak. I made it to the bottom of Motorway in 1:48, 1 minute slower than last year, but still probably faster than I should have in order to complete such a long ride. I think Tinker made it to the bottom of Motorway in just over 1:30 - some 2-3 minutes faster than the next rider to come through the aid station. As I started pedaling off from the first aid station I could feel the beginnings of some cramps in my legs. Thankfully they subsided and I was able to keep a solid pace up the 11-mile 3,800 ft. climb from the bottom of Motorway to Santiago Peak. Once you crest the peak there is a short, but chunky tire slashing descent to the top of a long singletrack downhill called Upper and Lower Holy Jim. I safely descended the chunky fire road from the peak to the turnoff to Upper Holy Jim and ended up getting a PR down UHJ.

Pedaling away from aid station 1
Lower Holy Jim is a fun 5-mile descent with switchbacks and a few blind corners that makes for an interesting ride when there are hikers coming up the trail. At the bottom of the Holy Jims and after a few stream crossings you get to the point in the race where the CC riders head right down the 5-mile dirt road to the finish and the VQ riders head left up the technical Trabuco Trail and to the turnoff to the last dreadful hike-a-bike, West Horsethief. I'm amazed that some of the pros climb Horsethief. It's a loose 1.3-mile 1,500 ft. climb with grades exceeding 20%. I just pushed my bike as fast as I could and ended up getting up in 37 min. which was slightly faster than my 2012 time.

I quickly grabbed a few oranges from the aid station and then began the short climb and traverse up to the top of Trabuco Trail. Trabuco Trail is a 4-mile downhill that in my opinion is one of the most fun descents in all of Orange County. However, there are loose rocky sections of the trail along with some real sharp rocks that can (and have) slashed many of my tires. I safely made it back to the aid station at the VQ/CC turnoff and began pedaling hard out the 5-mile fire road to the finish.

I finished 16th overall with a total time of 6:09, some 20 minutes faster than last year! 120 riders finished, with 25 or so DNFs and about 40 riders that didn't show. I was really happy with my time and somewhat surprised considering the amount of travelling I've been doing for work over the last 9 months.

A month or so ago I was talking with local pro, Dana Weber, about the upcoming VQ and he mentioned how when he first did the race a few years back his time was just over the 6 hour mark and he finished in the top 5 that year. It's amazing how all of the riders are getting faster and order to break the top five this year I would have needed to finish in under 5:15...the top ten was 5:46 (see below).

A really big thanks to my family for the support they provided for not only the race but over the course of the last year with putting in big rides on the weekends and even more so after travelling so much. Another big thanks to Josh Jacquot who provided some of the best sag support I've ever had! And finally a big thanks to Moots for the support they've provided over the past few years.

The Leaderboard...VQ.CC top ten finishers...maybe next year!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Moots 2013 & Training for VQ!

This year I'll again be riding for Moots, a boutique titanium frame builder that prides itself in providing quality road, mountain, & cross frames. These frames, as well as many components, are shaped, welded, and built by hand in a small town in northwest Colorado. I had the opportunity to visit the Moots factory this past summer when I went out to ride the Steamboat Stinger. Here are a few pictures from my visit. My ride of choice for this year will be the MootoX YBB. I'm a big fan of the efficiency of a hard tail and the YBB provides the near quickness of a hard tail along with just enough cushion for longer rides.

The 29-inch wheels are a must for the rides here in the Santa Ana Mountains of Southern CA. I've managed to get some good time in the saddle since the beginning of the year as I work towards building the endurance to complete Vision Quest, a ride that's only five weeks from now and quickly approaching. Last year I was happy with my finishing time of 6:29 (Vision Quest 2012). I'd like to better my time this year and ultimately work towards beating the 6-hour mark at some point. While I'm not sure I'll be able to get there this year, I'm still hoping for a good result. The Vision Quest is not a true race, but more of a test of yourself. While finishing times are recorded and many treat it like a race, there are no categories or places. I'm constantly wondering if I'm getting in enough training - and the right type of training. The past few months at work have been extremely busy and it's been tough to get out during the week. Last year my goal was to get out twice during the week and then a long ride on the weekend. Those quick hour and a half rides during the week, along with the long efforts on the weekends, I think are critical in maintaining a fitness level and endurance to complete a 6+ hour ride at a race-type pace. It's been a challenge so far this year to get out more than once during the week. It should be an interesting few weeks getting ready for the long ride.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Harding Time Trial 2013

This past weekend was the 2013 Harding Time Trial put on by Saw Sports Productions and Linked Cycling. In the time trial spirit my goal was to better my time from last year (1:04). The 9.2 mile climb up Harding is one of the popular fire road climbs in the Santa Ana Mountains of Orange County. It starts off with a steep 10% grade for the first mile, drops to an 8% grade through mile 5, and then to a 5% grade for the last half of the climb. Harding's always a tough climb - but doing it at threshold and having come down with a head cold the week before - I knew it was going to be an even tougher one hour suffer fest.

For the first half I was able to match my splits only missing last year's time by 13 seconds (37:15 vs. 37:02) and even beating my mile 1 time by 24 seconds. I felt I was keeping a solid pace continuing into the second half but eventually slowed down on the last section due to snow and ice on certain sections of the trail. My second half of the climb ended up just shy of 3 minutes slower than last year's time resulting in a total time of 1:06:53. The bike that took me up Harding was my trusty MXYBB.

There's always next year...or tomorrow considering you can always test yourself with a time trial - right? I guess the difficult part is making yourself ride hard for an hour straight when you're not in a race environment. The geek in me likes looking at numbers so below is a graph showing elevation, heart rate, power, and speed as well as a chart showing the results of the 8 times I've climbed Harding since I started using Strava in late 2011. The first two on the list are the time trial results from 2012 and 2013.

A section of the course near 4 corners from Thurs, 2/20....a bit of this melted
Friday and the rest turned to mud, ice, and crusty goodness to ride through!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Base Miles...and views of the Channel Islands

One of the great things about the Santa Ana winds in Southern CA is that it makes for really clear days. So clear that you can get unobstructed views of downtown LA, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Channel Islands. When it's relatively clear you can usually see Catalina Island, but we were lucky to even see further than Catalina and got slight views of San Clemente Island, the southernmost of eight of the Channel Islands located off the coast of Southern CA.

Saturday morning I left from home and headed out the canyon road. While it was much warmer than I had anticipated due to the Santa Ana winds, it was definitely a grind getting out to the trails with the wind feeling like it was coming straight at me. I met up with some riding friends on the way out to the Maple Springs gate and we headed up the trail eventually to the "saddle" which is the area between Santiago Peak and Modjeska Peak and is also the start/top of the Joplin trail head.
From the "saddle" alongside Brian and Matt...thanks for the pic Josh!
We descended Joplin, a challenging loose rocky descent that eventually takes you to an area known as Old Camp. The trail from Old Camp down to the Luge turnoff is a fast and flowy somewhat wider singletrack. It's a great descent although it's just as great of a climb so on a Saturday morning you definitely have to be aware of uphill traffic. We got down the Luge and I eventually split from the group and headed home via the canyon road. Thanks to the same wind that was in my face on the way out I had a nice tailwind returning home. What a great day of riding!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

70 Degrees & Perfect Trail Conditions

The trails in Orange County are incredible right now. We've had just the right amount of rain and the temps have been perfect. Crisp and cold in the morning, typically in the 40's when I usually get out at 5:30am, and really nice in the afternoons, either on the weekends or when I'm lucky enough to get away from work early.

I feel incredibly lucky to live where I live. I can be on the dirt right from my front door in a matter of minutes. My Garmin read 70 degrees this afternoon as I started on one of my quick local spins, the Santiago Oaks/Weir Canyon loop. When time permits, I enjoy doing the Weir loop in both directions. This ride packs 2,600 feet of climbing in just shy of 18 miles. Here are some pics from the ride.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Testing out the Vamoots CR...

Brisk canyon loop this morning aboard the Vamoots CR with Troupe/Poseidon rider Jeff Lewis

Photo by jeff_inc • Instagram