16 January 2018

Celebrating another successful orbit of the sun

For my birthday I once again got to go riding. This would not have been possible without the simply amazing Amanda who puts up with my cycling obsession. 

This year, I hatched a plan to ride around town at a mellow pace hitting up singletrack, multiuse and the beach if the riding was suitable. I invited a bunch of people along, some of whom are racing/riding the Susitna 100 others who just like to ride. Given this was also billed as a training ride I and some others chose to ride with some of our gear that we will have to carry on the Susitna 100. I should also add this, it was for many of the group, the day after the Frosty Bottom. See my post about that race here

We were 7 strong from the house then gained a few on the ride. The riding was a blast, all who had raced the Frosty Bottom were suffering from tired legs but with the warm temperatures, sunshine and smooth trails we had a blast. 

The full crew - Photo Credit Josh Chelf
We rode through Bicentennial park then made our way over to the APU singletrack. 
At the top of the unrideable hill... unless you are Josh. 

Winding our way through the APU singletrack.
- PC - Josh Chelf 

After passing through APU it was onto the singletrack sections along Chester Creek Trail. 
Before we knew it we were at Earthquake park for a beer and food break. 
Lunch stop - PC Oscar

Soon after getting going again we hit up the mandatory I'm a kid Uranus stop. 
This is funny whatever your age right?

Before long we were cruising the beach which was perfect. 
Getting artsy 

Perfect light

Andrew playing around - PC Josh Chelf

The beach was great until it wasn't.... perhaps we should have exited at the bottom of the Kincaid Hill. Oh well what's an epic ride without a little pushing. 

Yer it's kind of rideable.

New trail day  

So that is where they used to dump the cars. 

Pushing bikes is never fun, at least the view is good. - PC Josh Chelf

After pushing up the dune past the old mostly buried cars we were back on familiar trails and soon cruising a short road section before hitting up the frozen swamps between  Sand lake and Jewel Lake. 
Between the two lakes. 
 Another short road section and then it was onto Campbell Creek Trail. 
Riding Campbell Creek Trail. 

From the end of Campbell Creek trail we hit up a little more singletrack, tried to connect via swamps back to blue dot, which is currently a no go. Then it was back over to Ruth Arcand park for a little more singletrack with a view before heading home. 
Sunset with a view

We knocked out the final 1mile back to my house bringing our ride distance up to 45miles. Not a bad effort given the previous days exertion. 
Thanks to Andrew, Andy, James, Jeanette, Josh, Megan, Nico, Oscar  and Tom for joining me on the ride it meant a lot to me and I had a blast.

The cherry on top for this day though was returning home to have a home made cake. Baked by the love of my life, Amanda. Whilst getting to enjoy it with a great group of friends. 

As has been pointed out that is a lot of candles
and probably a fire hazard - PC Amanda

Our route. 

15 January 2018

2018 Frosty Bottom

This weekend of the 13th and 14th January 2018 was the Frosty Bottom, a race I've previously ridden 3 times. The first time I rode it didn't go so well, the second time I rode it went pretty well but I wasn't really racing it as I used it as a training ride. 2016 I had been doing a lot of training rides with friends targeting the Frosty, it snowed a bunch before the race and I suffered mostly due to thinking I was stronger than I actually was, note everyone else suffered too.

This year I have pretty much not done any focused training for the race however I have been riding a reasonable amount and having a lot of fun whilst doing it. I have also started going to a gym to work on my core strength, of which I had none, I now have some. All of this took me into the race with zero expectations. The lack of snow in Anchorage again, meant that the conditions were going to be really fast.

As we set off down the hill and along the coastal trail the pace was manageable for me, following a couple of people I was able to draft a little. As we turned by the sewage works there was a gap between the guy I was following and the front group. I passed the person and bridged back onto the lead peloton. We are around 20min and 4.5 miles into the race by this point. At roughly 5 miles there was is a short climb, I knew what was going to happen, the pace was going to go up.... as the pace went up, I got spit out of the back of the group and that was the last I saw of pretty much everyone for the rest of the ride. Once again I was going to suffer through the race on a solo effort. 

Around 14miles into the race I was caught by two guys Daniel and John. I chatted briefly but they were riding at a faster pace than I was able to maintain. I followed them all the way to where the climbing starts after antenna hill. I reeled them in during the climb and then as we hit the abbott road trail I took the lead, expecting them to draft me, that was the last I saw of them until the finish.

At the 1/2 ish way point my friend Greg was cheering people on and taking photos, and a little further on another friend Andrew was cheering people on too. It was great to have some support out on the trail.

The halfway point is the high point of the course, I arrived there at 1:31:23 this put me in for a tough return to try and make a sub 3 hour time. As I was riding back to the chalet I was doing the maths in my head and pushing as hard as I could to make sub 3 hours, I needed to average around 15mph.

I know I have gotten stronger over the last few years and comparing times on different segments in strava post race has confirmed this.

The last 1 mile of the frosty course is a climb up to the chalet. This year the trail was solid but my legs were destroyed after trying to maintain a 15mph average. It took me 6:10 to do, the leaders this year did it in 4:10ish. However it was the fastest I have ever climbed it in the Frosty.

I crossed the line in 3:03:25 which is a PR by over 25min, and managed 17th place over all. Clearly my not frosty focussed training paid off.

As ever post race there are always some what if's however I can honestly say I rode the smartest and hardest I could once I was dropped off the front group, not getting dropped again is the key to me getting a faster time.

I definitely had the most fun I have had during that race, I fuelled well and I set a PR all in all its a win win win situation for me.

Me just after the 1/2 way point.
Photo credit Greg Martin

Post race with some great friends.

Full results can be found here

Strava data 

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