11 September 2017

Arctic Cross Race 1 - 2017

The season opener for Arctic Cross was 9th September 2017. It was a new location for the cross crew to race at. The course was fast.

Course description 

The start was on ski trails with a downhill section into a fast right hand turn, followed by a short climb into a section of singletrack before returning to ski trails. Due to moose on the course during the womens race the course was shortened to avoid interactions with the moose. The course then had another fast downhill section into a slippery right hand hairpin turn before a long straight into barriers. This was fun as normally we don't approach barriers flat out, this time we did and they were scary. After the barriers it was a hairpin left then back onto a little singletrack before crossing a road and dropping onto second breakfast for a short section.  Second breakfast is a fun trail on a mountain bike but riding on a cross bike makes you realise how bumpy the trail is. Turning off second breakfast there was a ride/run up then a short gravel road section into a singletrack descent then a steep uphill run up. After the run up we rejoined the ski trails to cross over the start finish line and complete the lap.

How did my race go?

It went really well, just like last season myself, Clint, Chris and Jared were all battling it out for the first few laps, we also had the addition of Brad who got a cross bike this year. The race started off really fast and basically continued like this throughout the race. I spent a couple of laps being chased down by Chris and Brad then we worked hard to chase down Jack during the final four laps. 
Towards the end of the race we also started to catch up with Jamie who had a mechanical during the race. It was interesting to see how close we were to his speed. If the season continues like the first race it's going to be a lot of fun.   

Will won the race, he lapped me most of the rest of the field, he once again crushed us all of as he has been doing all season. I was fortunate that Josh who took second didn't pass me also at the then of the race. 
I finished in 9th Place which is a great way to start the season off and I also realised how close a season it is going to be when I look at the lap times. 

Lap analysis 

Lap Number
Race lap time
Strava Lap Times
Strava Back half of lap

A few things I take from my lap times. My laps were fairly consistent and I actually managed my fastest lap at the end of the race which is really unusual for me. 
The back half of the lap contained the barriers and two run ups. I think laps 8 - 10 were where Brad, Chris and I were chasing down Jack. As such we were really pushing the pace and had our lines figured out compared to earlier in the race. 
I really should have practiced lines a little more before I raced especially the first run/ride up off of second breakfast. 

Photos from the race

Photos were taken by Jana, Amber and Megan, thanks for capturing the mens race and all the heckling was fantastic too. 

Mens Start
Myself, Brad and Chris mid race

Water splash. 
Short run up

Top of the run up 

Fiona's race

 Arctic Cross does a great job of getting kids racing, they have a Junior race where the kids race the full course but for a shorter time and a kiddo race where younger kids race on a shortened course for 1 lap. All under 18 year olds race for free too, in whatever category they want! 
Fiona took part in the kiddo race and did amazing. She pedalled really strongly to finish in 3rd place overall and 1st girl. To say I am proud is an understatement. 
Kiddo start 
Kiddo race
Fiona finishing 

20 August 2017

A ride with Mr Mark Beaumont

I have been following Mark Beaumont for a number of years ever since I heard about his first record breaking trip around the world by bike.
A full list of adventures can be found on his wiki page here or on his website here.
He is currently attempting to set a new world record for riding around the world supported. His target is 80 days including travel which is an amazing feat and means he needs to average 240miles per day.

Mark has a fantastic team helping him achieve this goal and he arrived in Anchorage on the 19th August 2017 to start leg three of the challenge on the 20th August 2017.
Through a friend (Thomas) in Anchorage, he got me in touch with Mike who is in charge of this leg. It was all a little last minute but on the 19th during the day, before Mark arrived. I had a face to face discussion with Mike and we worked out a route to get Mark out of town and on down the road for leg three.

Where does the riding come into this?

Well, I was given the opportunity to ride with Mark out of town and guide him on the correct way. So at 03:00 on the 20th August I left my house and headed to the airport for the 04:00 start. Mark and the team arrived and finished setting up, he did his usual talk to the camera, they took a couple of pictures and Mark, David and I set off out of town.

David, Mark and I before the rollout -PC Mark's media team
The ride went well and we were treated to mostly dry roads until we hit the Highway at around mile 36 of the ride. David, Mark and I were joined by another rider Donovan as we rolled along the Glenn Highway bike path. Once we reached Eagle River we followed the old Glenn until we reached Settlers Dr.
Rolling the Old Glenn

This is where our party split with Mark and I continuing on along the highway and David and Donovan heading back to Anchorage.

I got to ride with Mark until we reached Palmer where I made the decision to turn around and retrace my route back to Anchorage.

Quick gas station stop

After a short (not by Mark's standards) stop at Vaga Bond blues it was a 20 min stop. Mark rides in 4 hour ish stints with a 10 min break every 4 hours. He does 4 stints a day and aims to average 15mph to achieve 240miles a day. I headed back into town.

coffee and cake

When riding into Palmer we had a pretty stiff headwind and it was raining pretty consistently, so much so there were no views. After my extended break the rain stopped, the views improved and I didn't need to put my rain jacket back on until I reached Eagle River.

Highway views

Mirror Lake

All in all it was a great day out on the bike. I managed a meager 109miles albeit at a moving speed of 15mph. Mark went on to put in 235miles. see strava
Mark's strava data can be found here
And there is a live tracker here (although at the time of writing this its not working.)

I want to take this time to thank Mark and his team for allowing people to ride with him, they are a very professional outfit and I had a lot of fun tagging along for almost 4 hours.  Good luck for the rest of your ride Mark. 

My Strava data

06 August 2017

Soggy Bottom 2017 - AKA Alaskan Hot and Sweaty Bottom

This was my third time riding the Soggy Bottom, 100+ mile MTB race on a mostly singletrack course on the Kenai Peninsula. This year was hot (Alaskan Hot so more than 70F)

The race started off great, I didn't try and keep up with the really fast guys up front, I rode my own race. I arrived in Cooper Landing (Checkpoint one) in just over 4 hours which is right around my target time for that leg, A quick turn around and back on the trail and headed for Devils Pass (checkpoint two). I was targeting around 3 hours for this leg, It took me around 3:15 however I was cramping up pretty badly from Juneau lake which was not ideal. I have cramped before and can recover but it would be tough.

I have been using a new electrolyte drink powder called Amino Energy, this stuff has been great at getting rid of cramps when they come. I initially planned to drink a bottle per leg, I should have done more for leg two and definitely for leg three.

I left the Devils checkpoint after drinking a bottle and taking one with me feeling not to bad, I actually rode up all the steep part of the trail, as the trail levelled off the cramps kicked in. How badly? Where I was unable to walk to try and shake them off, which muscles? all of my legs. At this point I was beginning to regret not scratching at Devils Pass, I was also beginning to wonder how I was going to finish, I still had around 30 miles to go.

I walked and soft pedalled my way to the top of Devils pass taking my time to cool off in the stream crossings and on to the junction with Resurrection pass. At this point I ran into my Team mate Chris who was sweeping from Cooper Landing to Devils. I had a little chat with him then headed on my way across the not flat top of Resurrection pass. By this point I was having to pee around every 4 miles, this is really annoying as I was still cramping up though less and less.

The descent from Resurrection is mostly down hill, the top section is really fast 20+ mph even when not pedalling. It drops down to the creeks then climbs back up before another descent. I was having to walk all of the climbs back out of the creeks which is annoying but my legs were now cramping a little less. I stopped to chat to people I saw on the trail and tried not to push the pace to much so I wouldn't cramp up again. I know at around 10 miles to go we cross the Resurrection river and the trail then really undulates before we cross back over the river. At mile 99 there is a little incline that seems to go on for ever, this year I actually managed to ride it all. We hit the end of the trail at mile 101miles then its just 4miles of mostly gravel back to the finish in front of the Seaview in Hope. I was all finished in 11:40

Thoughts on my race

When we rode into Cooper Landing I really thought this would be the year I went sub 11 hours, as I left Devils pass trail head and managed to ride all the steep sections I still thought it was a possibility once I started cramping up on the "easy" sections I was wondering how I was going to finish. I rolled across the line at 11:40 after giving it everything I had to get there. I am once again happy that I finished sub 12 hours but a little disappointed I didn't break 11 hours.
This year Amanda and Fiona supported me at the checkpoints, It was a great moral boost to see them there. I would love it if they could do it again, though maybe its time for me to have a stab at the team version of the race.

Crunching the numbers

Hope to Coopers moving
Hope to Coopers total
Coopers to Devils moving
Cooper to Devils total
Devils to Hope moving
Devils to Hope total
Total Moving

As can be seen, this year I am definitely faster well, until I cramped up. As always I will keep plugging away at my fitness and see what next year brings. The cramps in this race seemed different to previous cramping. 

Picture dump

Not being in the front group = smart move by me

The following pack. 

Climbing and feeling good

Chasing Clint

Catching up with the relay teams

Almost to the top and 1/2 way through leg one

Chasing James

Already cramping up 

Chasing Meredith 

Clint and I both suffering on the climb from Swan Lake

Regretting not scratching at devils trail head

Thanks for sweeping Chris

10 ish miles to go and feeling better

Made it up the final trail climb

Awesome sunset on the drive home. 

Strava data