17 July 2016

Xterra Hammerman Duathlon 2016

This was my second try at this event (2015 race report) and I came in much better prepared. I have completed a few more runs though not as many as I wanted to get in and a lot more mountain bike racing so I feel I have at least a little speed.

The Race

To be perfectly honest we almost missed the start as the air horn sounded then we all realised that was our signal to go.

off we go!
I came off the first run into the transition in the lead group, once again I need to work on my transitions but made it through just fine. I set off on the bike chasing a work colleague (Sam) and passed him pretty early on.

onto the bike leg

Aside from being passed by Will, Jason, James and Andy I didn't really see anyone on the course.  I was thinking I was in 3rd or 4th position but didn't really know, I pushed the pace as hard I could go though this is difficult to do when there is nobody around you. 
Whilst on the bike I had two lapses of concentration and almost ended over the bars on both occasions. The first one on Bolling Alley (sugar lumps I think) I was so far off the back of the bike trying to get the rear wheel back on the ground the tyre buzzed my thigh.  I honestly don't know how I managed to ride it out. 

onto the run leg
My run went pretty well, although I did forget my legs don't work that well after riding a bike and tripped on a root, last year I got away with it, this year I hit the deck.  About halfway around the run I could see Andy(doing the triathlon so not technically racing him) ahead of me and tried to catch him up.  Then my legs started cramping I managed to continue but had to reduce my pace.  The next thing I see is Simon (who I was racing) just ahead of Andy.  By this point on the run course we are about to enter the really steep uphill section, this didn't help my legs at all.
I continued on now having lost sight of Andy and Simon.  I passed James on the trail who had finished his race and he said Simon was just ahead I pushed on as hard as I could finally catching sight of Simon just before the last hill.  Unfortunately for me he was a little far ahead and he managed to maintain a 17second lead over the finish line to take the victory leaving me with second place.  On crossing the finish line my legs both cramped up and I ended up on the floor.  I don't think I have worked that hard for something for a long time. 


The comparison to 2015

Although the bike courses were a little different I was significantly faster this year.  

The thanks

Thanks to the organisers for another great event and thank for the awesome support Amanda and Fi your cheering makes all the difference.

11 July 2016

Fireweed 200 - the "quad" team edition

9th July 2016 was the date for this years Fireweed 200 event.  The current version of the race starts at Sheep Mountain Lodge and takes highway one to the Richardson highway where it takes a right turn and finishes in Valdez, 192miles and only two turns at junctions.

I was racing on a team called numbnutz as a stand in for a rider who was unable to race.  The team has competed in the event for a number of years and are a slick machine.  As the team all reside in different locations we decided to car pool from Palmer. On our way out we received a call from Bryan who had unfortunately been involved in a car collision, whilst driving on the old glen the car following him failed to see he had stopped due to traffic and barrelled into him at around 45mph. His bike and rack took the majority of the impact and although no real damage to him the bike and car were a write off it seems. 

not a great start to Bryan's weekend. 
Team numbnutz were down to three and one of them (Jim) had been sick or so he said :)
After getting dinner at Subway we headed up the road to set up camp at Sheep Mountain Lodge. 
After setting up camp we discussed team tactics a little, now that we were down a team member, possibly two if Jim really couldn't ride our rest periods got a lot shorter and although I have the capability to ride the distance I have never raced that far. 

training nutz

Looking towards the start area from the airstrip
 which is where we all camp.

morning on a beautiful day

Pete geared up and ready to roll
Pete took the first leg and was flying when he came past me as I stopped to get some photos.  
Pete chasing down a member of CPR who we played leapfrog and chase with all day.

Pete on leg one
The course heads out east from the start, after a little climbing descends into Glennallen where at around 75  miles we make a turn to the right and head towards Valdez.
The weather was hot and at Glenallen we picked up a relentless headwind all the way into Valdez around 120miles later.

Our plan was to ride for roughly 15-20min stints and then switch out however once we hit the headwind those stints got a little shorter.  
Pete was my incoming teammate and Jim my outgoing. My day pretty much went like this:
When I came in from my ride I would check the time, load bike my bike onto the vehicle (unload Pete's bike, load mine, load Pete's), after four min set off after team mate (Jim) in the support vehicles (one was being driven by Julie who is Jim's wife the other was driven by Pete and I), check on rider progress then try to find a good place to hand over which will be around 10 to 15min of total ride time, stop unload Pete's bike, watch the time for when he left, after 4 min set off after him, check how he is doing and then try to guess where we should be handing to give the 10 to 15min ride time, stop car, put keys on the dash, unload bike and get ready to ride when he comes in. This was a lot more tiring than I thought it was going to be as the riding was flat out but also the driving and guessing where to stop for the team mates was a real learning experience. To top all of this I had to find time to eat and drink.  
Pete heading up for a change over

looking for Jim

setting off

wow Jim was really flying

and we are off

full gas Jim
Our team swaps got a lot slicker by the end of the race.
Photo opportunity going up the pass

slick change over

Pete crossing the line

me rolling in way after him....

Numbnutz at the finish line. 

In total I completed 15 segments and raced around 72 miles. For me the whole race seemed to go really fast as we didn't stop at all. If I did the race again on a team I would probably do things a little different food wise, I didn't feel I had enough variety however I was happy with the race. My two teammates I rode with rocked the riding though even with Jim's "Sickness", I was glad I was able to join team numbnutz for a year and help them out.  Will I do this event again... who knows but the solo ride did look tempting....

How did we do?

We finished in 8th place overall (10hrs 31min 25sec) and 3rd in our age group.  We had a really good battle with another team called CPR.  Josh, Roger, Michael and Tony had the three of us on our toes all day and in the end finished just over 3 min ahead of us.

Full results

Team CPR who we battled with all day, well done gents
Picture of the race results - photo by David Henke

My buddy Brant

I want to put a special mention out to my friend and team mate Brant.  He rode the 200 event solo which is totally awesome. I have ridden a lot with him on longer events and he is great fun to ride with and always up beat. He can also set an incredible pace into a headwind unfortunately for this ride he got lots more practice, headwinds really do suck. 
On this ride he ran out of water, got a flat tyre and also sunburnt....... He was still super chipper at the finish line, it was great hanging out with you after the event.  
uphill and a headwind at least it wasn't raining. 

finished in seconds over 12hrs

All my stints

Stint 1 - my fastest average speed, fresh legs help. 

Stint 2 - 

Stint 3 -

Stint 4 -

Stint 5 - and into the headwind we went

Stint 6 - this was a really tough stint

Stint 7 - 

Stint 8

Stint 9 - I think this was my least favourite stint

Stint 10

Stint 11

Stint 12

Stint 13 - topping out the climb I really enjoyed this one

Stint 14 - this was one of my favourites as the wind had died down for a little bit of it.

Stint 15 - Pete and I rode together to finish the ride, well until he blew me away and I just struggled to the finish. 

03 July 2016

July already and we are in full summer mode

Late Spring and early Summer in 2016 has brought plenty of warm dry weather to south central Alaska. For me it has meant lots of riding and running and trying to get to bed at a sensible time with the seemingly everlasting light.

Anchorage Seward Anchorage

Once again I rode the Denali Randonneurs 400km event to Seward and back. This year the weather was not quite as nice as last years, it was sunny at times but we also had a fair amount of rain and headwinds in what felt like both directions.  Fortunately I was riding with a good buddy of mine Oscar, its always nice when you have someone to suffer with :)
We both would class the ride as type two fun, however the tail wind for the last 30 miles certainly made that part of the ride type one fun. Definition of types of fun
climbing to turnagain pass
kenai lake

The answer

soft peddling and 20mph I'll take it

almost home

Drinking like a hobo

24 hours of Kincaid

Returning for 2016 was the 24HOK. This year there was a pretty low turnout compared to last time it was run in 2014 however, the course was fantastic and a real credit to the ArcticMTB club who organised the event.
LeMans style start
This year I raced on a quad team for the 12hour event. Our team (Glenn and the bear pissers) came second in our class (aka last) however we did have a lot of fun.
The team I ride for, Revolution racing had a fantastic turnout and with the addition of margaritas (thanks Chuck) and some beer from our sponsor Anchorage Brewing Co we seemed to nail the ride and social side of the event IMHO.
We also tried camping as a family first time. It was really windy throughout the weekend and the tent barely stayed upright however, Fiona did manage to sleep eventually even with the tent flexing so much it was hitting her face.
Camping for one night only :-/

Finally asleep this was at 00:20 it didn't get much darker

Hiking flattop mountain

We have been in Anchorage a little over 3.5 years and have never hiked flattop mountain. This is partially because we are more cyclists than hikers and partially because when we tried we were turned around due to conditions.

Amanda's job had a complication which meant that we had the opportunity to have a bonus family day. We decided a short hike was in order and planned to do the blueberry loop and maybe up to the saddle. When we reached the saddle, we assessed the situation and threw caution to the wind and headed up to the top. From the saddle up to the top is where the hike becomes a little more strenuous however both Amanda and Fiona did great at the scramble section both up and down.  I believe part of this was due to the low visibility. Although we were not treated to the spectacular views for our hike equally for the scramble part we didn't have to deal with vertigo so swings and roundabouts really.
Not having grand vistas ensures you take notice of the littler things like the alpine flowers, the pretty rocks and of course the purple pinecones.
touching the clouds

at the top....

a brief view

tundra flower

heading back down

nearing the bottom of the scramble

one of the last switch backs

more flowers

and more 

and more


looking back at the top which had now cleared

even more flowers

purple pine cones 

still more flowers

When will this hike be over? Where has the summit gone?

As summer rolls on

That is most of what we have been up to this early summer, well aside from work, the wedding we went to some midweek races and Fiona at football.... how is the rest of our summer looking? Busy would be the best way to describe it with more racing and events and being away. It's good to be busy right?
There is also something called independance day to look forward to, although no fireworks here in Anchorage where we will be as they are not allowed, not that you can see them anyway as it's still light until way into the night...