11 October 2015

Cyclocross round #7

Round #7 and the final round of the season took us out to the Jodhpur trailhead at Kincaid park.
This part of the park is very sandy and as with a lot of Kincaid has a mixture of singletrack, ski trials and social trails.  The course took in a mixture of all of these trail types and also included the always fun sand dune (may not be seen as fun after lap one).  This year the race directors and course planners managed to secure the use of a new section of flow singletrack at the edge of the motocross track. 

Course description

The course started off on a grass field and made its way over a set of barriers and through a couple of hairpin bends, we then headed out onto some ski trails with a couple of short climbs.  After negotiating a small hummock into some singletrack we continued on singletrack past the motorcross track and into the sand dune. This was a run up this year and for me a run down.  We then hit singletrack again and through some great bermed corners out onto another ski trail.  The ski trail had a few undulations and more hairpin turns before a short section of singletrack back onto ski trails and around to the start finish straight.

Christina managed to put together a short video which covers most of the course so you can get an idea of what we ride.  I even appear in it a couple of times.  Thanks Christina, great tunes too!

Last Race Arctic Cross from Christina Grande on Vimeo.

The kids race

Once again the kids race was split into balance bikes and pedal bikes.  Fiona had a great race, her best of the season so far.  She rode more than she has done in any of the other races. The course was mostly on ski trails and was a really long one with a couple of longer downhill sections which she managed to negotiate without drama.  I was very proud of her today. 
Fiona coming out of the final singletrack - photo credit Bria Johnston

The open race

Following the kids race it was time for the grownups to race, today I managed to get much better start however someone ahead of me going into the first singletrack section got held up and fell off effectively blocking me and many others, frustrating but all part of racing.  Once I had managed to pass this person (in the first dune run) I had a really good race and for my first time ever in a cross race I didn't get lapped. 
The course today was a fast one and I was battling it out for the whole race with my usual cross racing friends.  I managed to finally pass David after he thought it would be funny to brake check me at the top of the rise into the first section of singletrack.  I had also been chasing Ryan hard from the start of the race when I was held up, once again and lucky for me Ryan misjudged a corner allowing me to get really close to him.  I passed him then he took back over me and I finally passed him almost within sight of the finish line where we had a great sprint for the line.
I was pretty tired at the end. - photo credit Nathan Able
Race data from Strava

Lap data, 1st lap is not a full lap so time is way faster than it should be

Season round up

With a seven race series (only 5 of 7 races count) spread over 5 weeks there really isn't much time to change anything as you go along.  If you get sick and you race there is a good chance you will not be able to recover for the following weekend especially if you keep racing, this is exaggerated even more so with double header weekends.  I was lucky this year I had no mechanicals and only a minor cold which didn't seem to affect my racing.  
I came into this season on a cross bike rather than a mountain bike and I am still learning how the bike handles and where I can push it.  My technique on tight slippery corners and over barriers (dismount/remount) definitely needs some work but I am improving.  I was faster this year compared to last year, (looking back at who I have been racing against) however it would seem everyone else also got faster too.  My early season goal was to manage one race where I didn't get  lapped.  I think if i had not had issues with my lights battery at round one I may have managed it there but today on the final round I did manage it.

Points going into the final round

Going into this race I was sitting in 17th place in the points, as I write this I have no idea if I will have moved up or down but I do know I have had a lot of fun racing against Chris Jung, Erik Mundahl, Kevin Postma, Oscar Lage and David Henke (he has been making it harder for himself by choosing to race a singlespeed bike).  See you all next year for a fun packed season.

Finally I want to say what a great community we get to race in, I would not have been able to race as much as did this season without the support of a great bunch of racers and friends who helped me manage Fiona whilst I raced when Amanda was away or working.  Thank you all, you know who you are.

Finally, finally,  a huge THANKYOU to all the course designers, timers and great people who are Arctic Cross, you really make the season and all the events fun. Even when it was cold and wet you were all there with a smile and a cheer for seasoned racers or the person out there trying this sport for the first time. I don't think we can say thanks enough for that. 

05 October 2015

Winter is fast approaching

As we are fast running/riding into the end of cyclocross season here in Alaska it means the fun is about to change again..... Here comes WINTER!

Here are my photos from the 18th of September 2015.  The snow was up high so I drove up to Glen Alps and took a short ride from the trail head before work with Paul.
Looking at the view

watching for moose

big tyres

having a wheelie good time

more looking at the view
The next pictures are from the 1st of  October 2015, when I went on my second ride on snow for this years early season snow. I rode with Andrew and Josh, the snow had come lower down by this point, it was wet (the ground has not frozen up yet) and a little icy in places.  I am now really looking forward to when full winter arrives rather than this tease.

short cut on ski trails before we are banned from them

Singletrack means fun climbing

Singletrack climbing

regroup before more climbing

go go go!

and off we went

the trail was a little less used from here onwards. 

To get everyone in the mood and a little excited Andrew also put together a short video of the ride on the 1st October 2015.

Until next time happy trails everyone.

Cyclocross rounds #5 & #6

Arctic Cross Round #5 

Round #5 brought us to Goose Lake, this course usually features a good amount of sand and the course designers this year didn't disappoint in this regard.  Fortunately due to the "wonderful" amount of rain we have been having recently the  sand was very well consolidated, so didn't cause as much carnage as usual, I have also been told one of the turns was moved from the sand which helped.

The course started out with a flat grass field which we did a loop around doubling back to come back the way we had come.  The field was soft wet grass with a good amount of mud thrown in and a set of barriers. We exited onto a short tarmac section, next was single track onto the beach where we looped around through some power sapping mud back along the beach and into more grass through trees.
pick a line any line... - photo credit Laura Fox

Following this we hit the beach for the third pass then it was muddy single track, into a short paved section followed with a slippery bump into more single track, thanks for the video Andrew.

The course then looped back towards the beach before more grass and then pavement to cross the parking lot and with one last slippery bump it was pavement followed by wet grass to the finish.

This round due to the wonderful weather I was the only Blades at the event.  After a pretty bad start I actually seemed to have a pretty good race, the course was fun and fast although I think I need to work on my sand riding as this is where people passed me, I did take a few places back on the grass and had a pretty good race. I was in a good battle with Ryan Greeff for a lot of the race and was lucky to get past him after he slipped out on the final grass hill.

Arctic Cross Round #6

As we all know Sunday follows Saturday and this weekend that meant a double cross header.  We returned to Kincaid park and a course with lots of hills.
This week Amanda decided she wanted to race.
Amanda has taken part in three bike races since we arrived in Alaska, a tough winter bike course at APU with a lot of unconsolidated snow, the 24hours of Kincaid (MTB race) in 2013 and now race #6 of the 2015 Arctic Cross series.  All of these races have been tough courses (harder than we usually race) and I am proud of her for trying them especially given the lack of riding experience she has, I really should highlight some easier races for her :-)
The Kincaid course started in the stadium with a flat section into barriers and a run up. 

Amanda riding the first descent

We then descended and climbed again over a bridge. Next there was a tricky off camber traverse into an off camber downhill right back under the bridge.  

high line or the low line

heading to the corner

Fred's high line worked well

this guys low line not so much.

We climbed a little more then it was a fast downhill on gravel into yet another climb. We crossed the stadium area again and climbed up to the gong, (past a beer handout if you were silly).  

if you look closely you can see I am having a beer :D

more climbing towards the gong

Descending from the gong

At the gong, it was another tricky downhill with a right turn back into the stadium area through some wiggles, around the score board and back through some more wiggles and over a set of barriers (hardest set this season) then loop back around to the start finish straight. 

barriers that were more awkward than usual. 

Strava lap - 75ft of climbing.... felt like a lot more than that.  

So how did our races go?  Mine went pretty well I got a reasonable start and managed to pass a few people on the way, I crashed on the off camber under the bridge on lap #2 I think, I even managed to have a beer which was great for the crowd but no so great for my stomach on the next lap :D
Amanda managed 3 laps and rocked the course, I am hopeful she will race again if not next week due to work commitments then next year.
Finally Fiona had a great race too.  Whilst Amanda raced she rode her bike all over the place and concurred some of her hill fears.  All in all an awesome day for the Blades family.