17 July 2017

24 Hours of Kincaid 2017 - Top Gun edition

15th -16th July 2017 saw the running of this years 24 hours of Kincaid. This is the fourth time I have  taken part in the event and this year I was on a duo team for 24hours. My teammate for the event Nico is a friend and also teammate on Revolution Racing.

The event this year was a little quieter than it has been previously but still a lot of fun to take part in. We were based out of the Jodphur trail head which was new however the event definitely has room to expand at this location.  The self timing worked great and the wildlife encounters seemed lower than previous 24HOK that I have taken part in.

The course

The course was a mixture of ski trails, singletrack trails and social trails. The lap was around 9 miles long and took in some singletrack favourites including L-Train, Good Greeff, Change of pace, and kitchen sink. This year there was the addition of Bolling alley, this complicates things a little as it is a directional trail based on odd and even days. The solution was to reroute the course on Sunday morning before a lot of other traffic hit the trails. The other thing to note is the jungle trail has had a bunch of the roots cut down, although this makes it much easier to climb as the laps increase it does take away from the character of the trail.

The course was far and away my favourite 24HOK course I have ridden, mostly due to the lower wildlife interactions that occurred when riding. 

Odd day course

Even day course

How did it go?

Very well. Team Nick-Nico took both the win and last place :) Full results
I took the first lap, then Nico after this we switched to start doubling up on laps. I ran into a moose on my lap 5, we (Clint, Brad and I) backtracked almost 0.5 miles to hit a ski trail, only to ride down the trail and bump into the moose again. This cost me around 9 min of waiting and back tracking. The next lap I did, we (Danielle had caught up with me whilst I waited for a moose) bumped into a different moose and had to reroute onto a ski trail then we ran into a bear and cub further around the lap. Those were my only wildlife encounters during the race, if you ignore the billion mosquitos that thought I was clearly a good all you can eat buffet.
Nico and I took the executive decision to not really race through the dark part of the race 01:00 to 04:30, It was nice to hang out with people and get a little sleep watch a movie whilst some of the more hardcore teams pushed on through the wee hours. 
I woke at 5am headed out for my lap and took this opportunity to reflag the course so that we were riding the correct direction on bolling alley for the remainder of the race. This seemed to work out pretty well and actually made the race a little more interesting as the course changed part way through the race.

Stats from the ride

I completed 12 laps with a total riding distance of 108 miles, though only 11 laps counted towards team Nick-Nico as my final lap was with my teammate Nico and other revolution racing team mates (Clint, Laura and Ryan) to collect flags.

Final musing re the race and everything else

This years course was fantastic and I would quite happily race that course every year for the 24HOK, perhaps the addition of a 3 hour race Sunday morning from 9-12 could keep more people around on the Sunday. Self timing was great, as was the not finishing before the time was up like previous years.

I can't stress this enough but I really couldn't have done the race without all the help from Amanda, Fiona and friends. 

Fiona was a little superstar and kept herself occupied whilst I raced my laps. Later in the day friends turned up with their kids and Fiona had some company, aside from Harry Potter. 
hammock time
Playing in the sand, PC Stefanie
Amanda was on nights and looking after a sick dog (his own doing) yet she still managed to keep everything under control at home. Thanks a million baby.
All my teammates and friends at the event who helped entertain Fiona, or at least keep track of her when I was racing thank you so much. 

Post 24 hour photo

06 June 2017

XC race series is upon us

Wednesday 7th June 2017 is the first round of the XC race series in town. This is a 6 race series put on by the Arctic Bike Club MTB division.

As mentioned in previous blogs I have been "training" with a group of really quick riders and steadily seeing my speed increase which is nice. Although I haven't been out with them for the last couple of weeks due to scheduling conflicts, I think (hope), I will have enough carry through from the earlier training to perform better than last season.

Speaking of which. Today I did a little testing and I am still unsure of  the choice ahead of me.
My dilema is do I ride my trusty 5" travel 29er bike which is a little overkill for most of the XC races in all honesty but a lot of fun. Or do I ride my rigid fat bike with the 27.5+ wheels where I will get pretty beaten up by the end of the course especially through the rooty sections.

Using the wonderful Strava I was able to compare my times through a couple of rooty sections of the course. We did one hotter lap on Saturday when we had got to know the course and this was the times I was comparing to.

Both bikes came out around the same time for all the sections I compared to. Unfortunately I couldn't do a full lap test as one section of the course is one way on odd vs even days.

Oh well, I guess I will sleep on it and make a decision tomorrow. 

22 May 2017

Green Lake Grinder 2017 edition

The snow has all gone, well from around town at least. It's now light until way after 10pm and the mountain bike trails are deemed to be dry enough and have opened up. Before the mountain bike season kicks off into full swing, there are a number of other races that I have the option to attend. Once the dirt riding takes off though, I find myself less inclined to want to race on anything other than dirt.

One race that is quickly becoming a must do, is put on by one of the sponsors for the team I ride on.
Speedway Cycles is the primary sponsor for the only gravel race in town. The race takes place on base (JBER) which means it's in an area that I can't normally ride without a lot of preparation aka hassle.

This year the weather was definitely not as nice as for last years race. The forecast called for rain, and sure enough as we started the neutral roll out, there was a light precipitation in the air. By the time we were four miles in and the race started, the rain had ceased and the gravel was dry and dusty.
Neutral Roll out

Neutral Roll out

How did my race go... 

Very well actually, much better than last year where I bonked pretty badly around 30miles. This year I was a little better positioned once we got going after the neutral roll out which definitely helped. I was still dropped on the first climb but tried to ride smart and ending up working with a friend (Rob) from mile 9 to mile 11 to catch back onto the lead group. I was promptly dropped from this group at well before mile 14 and proceeded to ride solo until around mile 27.
Around mile 15.5 chasing the specks in the distance. 

The specks in the distance (Greg, David, Jason, Jack, Paul)

I'm all alone aside from the bears and moose.... 
This is where I did something smart for a change. I slowed down so that I could work together with a group who were following me. The group contained a few teammates (Oscar, Ryan and Brad), Rob was also in the group and a speedway rider.
Riding in a paceline again. 
Brad was pretty tired and unfortunately was dropped off the back of the paceline I think during one of my pulls on the front, sorry Brad. The remainder of the group worked well together and slowly started reeling in the group in front of us.

At around mile 34.5 Oscar took a big pull to try and get me up to the group in front who were tantalisingly close. I took my turn then Ryan took over, we were now on one of the final steep climbs and the group ahead had slowed. With the assistance from my team mates I managed to bridge the gap and actually get into the group. As we descended and made a right turn I pushed my way forward and as we started the next climb I was at the front. I pedalled steadily with Greg, Jack and Paul. Greg mentioned he didn't want the group to catch back up so we set a steady pace up the final climbs towards the finish.

Around 2/3's of the way up the bigger climb a guy in a vehicle coming the other way mentioned that there were three bears in the road up ahead. I'm sure they will be gone by the time we get there I was thinking. We rounded a couple of corners and there in the road were a mother and two baby bears. I quickly turned to Greg and questioned what we should do. "Shout and make noise lets see if we can get them off the roadway" he responded. It worked, that was a good call by Greg. We continued along the road, rounded a couple more corners and came face to face with another bear. We all started shouting at this bear and he too ran off the road, though no where near as far.

We pushed the pace up the remaining climb, descended down through the ski area and rejoined paved road. Greg was a little ahead of me by this point and I definitely didn't have the legs to catch him. Another rider in the group Jack who had silently caught onto my wheel proceeded to zip past me before the finish. All in all a great day on the bike.

I finished in 9th place which is an improvement on last years race where I finished 14th. More significantly for me I didn't have any huge debilitating cramps which I have been suffering from on many of these races. I also felt relatively fresh at the end which is a nice feeling.

Congratulations to the usual suspects for showing us what really fast people are like. Nice racing Will and Laura to take the wins.

Thanks to Greg, Tim and all who put this race on, I know it can't be easy but we all really appreciate it.

And last but not least a huge thanks to Amanda for taking care of the munchkin whilst I raced, I couldn't do it without you!

Full results

Strava file in case you were wondering.

13 March 2017

If in doubt, let it out!

11th March 2017 saw the 5th running of the Trio Fat Bike World Championship. The race is put on by Backcountry Bike & Ski and Speedway Cycles. This is one of the last fatbike races of the season (the last in south central Alaska) and has a great atmosphere and after party.
This year was my 3rd time riding the event. The last time I did this event it was -17F at the start line. This year it was a pleasant 19F and quickly warmed up to over 30F once the race started. For my riding pleasure I decided it would be great idea to ride the 60mile version (three laps).

The course description

The race starts in downtown Talkeetna. It follows the road out of town for around 2 miles before joining a snow machine trail. The road section is a false flat but after joining the trails we almost immediately start to climb. After around 2 miles we rejoin the road network for a short period before taking a snow machine trail that parallels the road. This trail undulates with a climbing trend and we eventually pass a communication tower where the trail widens and continues to undulate (with a climbing trend) until the powerline trail. Here we drop down on a narrow trail (1 snow machine wide) to the river and the roughly halfway aid station at around 11.8 miles into the lap.
After the aid station we continue on a narrow trail up a couple of killer climbs but mostly enjoying an undulating trail (feels like more down than up) through the woods with great views of Denali. The final 3.5miles of this trail  have a definite descending trend back to the only two way section of the course. This is only around 200 yards though. We cross a road to enjoy around 1.5miles of singletrack before rejoining the road network at around mile 19.5. Here we complete the loop back into town and either finish our race or go out to complete more laps.

My race

I lined up on the front row along with a couple of my teammates. 
Rolling out from the start.
The pace to the first trail was relaxed, I even took the time to take a few photos. 
Behind me

Looking ahead

As we joined the snow machine trail the pace picked up a little and before long, as we started up the first climb the pace was definitely hot for me.
On the second climb I saw one of the lead riders (David Arteaga) was stopped and appeared to be struggling with a mechanical. I pulled over and assisted him in freeing his chain which had jammed between his crank arm and chainring. Soon we were back riding and it wasn't long (around 5 miles according to Strava flybys) before I caught back up with Matt and Laura who I was riding near before I stopped to help David. Unfortunately Owen, James, Nico, David, John and Jason had escaped me here and I wouldn't see them again all race.

Trail conditions can and often do vary when racing a multi lap format race. For myself and everyone the conditions did change drastically especially for the final lap. This years deterioration was due to the low temperature at which the snow fell, this meant that in spite of multiple grooming efforts the snow didn't consolidate well on certain sections of the trail.

Lap 1: The course was good however a few of the steeper climbs were not rideable but everything else was pretty solid.

Lap 2: The course was still in pretty good shape however as the temperature increased the snow became a little greasy. Airing down helped and once again the majority of the course was rideable.

Lap 3: Errrmmmm... It got significantly worse for around 3 miles. I had aired down to around 4psi by this point and even that wasn't getting me through. However once we passed the communication station the trail improved for the next 5 miles it was only my tired legs holding me back really. Into the aid station the trail was soft and it was just a case of being patient whilst passing the 20mile racers, that theme would continue to the end of the race.

Me, Laura and Matt riding on lap 2
- Photo Credit Tim Berntson

Same section of trail lap 3
The best thing about the Trio though, is how relaxed the event is. The aid station is getting to be legendary. As I was well out of the running for the top places I figured it would be rude not to stop and partake in the festivities on my final lap. I was only there for 10min but that was enough time to grab a beer and soak in the atmosphere.

Aid station, just a few bikes - Photo Credit Ryan Greeff

Floating Unicorn and fat bikes in overflow....
Photo Credit Ryan Greeff

Cheers Jordy!
After leaving the aid station I completed the course not forgetting to stop for a Denali selfie.
Huge mountain.
I finished the race in 7hrs 5min (Unofficial time and 8th place overall, 7th Man) 
Lap 1 took 1:55:14
Lap 2 took 2:15:43
Lap 3 took 2:53:26
And I am totally stoked with that.
Could I have ridden any faster? possibly.
I am still working on nutrition on these longer rides especially at higher pace. The good news is no cramps this time though I did feel a few twinges. I am sure I didn't eat enough on lap one to let me maintain my speed on lap two but this is all work in progress. Lap three could have definitely been faster on a couple of sections. Not stopping for a beer would have also cut around 10 min from my lap but I wouldn't have had as much fun out there with that attitude. One thing is for sure I am glad I stopped for a beer and chat with my friends who were working at the aid station.

Once again a huge thanks to Amanda for taking care of Fiona and Mort so that I could race. I couldn't do these silly races without your support. You are one in a million baby! 

05 March 2017

Alaska Fat Bike State Champs 2017

Saturday 4th March saw the final round of the 2016/17 ASS (Abominable Snow Series).The turnout was a little lower than I was expecting however. I am guessing this was due to some riders being out of town for a race down in Homer, some racers preparing for the Tour of Anchorage (5th March ski race) and other racers recovering from the Iditarod Trail Invitational which took 3+ days for all the riders.

The course

The course was made up of around 1.4 miles of multiuse before a right turn onto some ripping singletrack for around 3.4 miles before re-joining the multiuse trail where the lap started again. The passing opportunities are limited on the singletrack. You are basically relying on the good will of the person in front of you to let you pass at the ski trail intersections. 

My Race

I lined up at the start along with the front pack again and we were off. Knowing the course and how positioning would be very important I ensured I pushed my pace on the first time down the multiuse trail to gain a better position going into the singletrack. As we entered the singletrack I was sitting in 6th place, following Tom who I have been riding (aka "training) a lot with.
Tom with me following him - PC Nathaniel Bannish

Taking things seriously as ever - PC Nathaniel Bannish.
We continued on the singletrack and I was feeling good. Tom ran slightly wide on one of the corners and his front wheel slid out, fortunately I was able to brake in time and not hit him. This slight delay meant that we had been dropped by Jamie and John who were running in 3rd and 4th place. Tom is a quick descender and singletrack rider and we were quickly back up to warp speed and chasing after Jamie and John. A little further along the trail Tom managed to wack his head on a low hanging branch which took him off trail. At this point I passed him and continued the chase to Jamie and John. Much to my surprise I caught them up as we rejoined the multiuse trail.

End of lap 1 singletrack - PC Robb Christenson

Then disaster for me, reaching into my frame bag I pulled out my bottle to get a drink, at the same time I managed to pull out my buff and it dropped into my lap first then to the right and into my derailleur.  I had no option but to stop and remove it whilst Jamie and John pulled away from me,  along with Tom and Owen, well shit that wasn't in the plan.
This is where one of my other riding (aka "training") buddies, Andy, saved my race. He was a little behind us coming off the singletrack but rode with me and dragged me back up to Tom and Owen who had passed me whilst I was fixing my bike. 
We entered the singletrack and continued our chase of the two 9:zero:7 riders in 3rd and 4th place.
Back on the tail of the 9:zero:7 riders end of lap 2, yet again I'm waving to a camera
- PC Robb Christenson

As we rejoined the multiuse trail we had caught them up again but Jamie and John are very quick on the multiuse trail and promptly dropped me, again! Once again Andy saved me and helped me bridge back up to Tom and Owen, between the four of us we bridged back onto John and Jamie. I knew my only chance to beat these guys was to get ahead in the singletrack and hope it stuck but I had given it 100% on the mulituse and was wasted. 
As we entered the singletrack I lunged and managed to pull in behind John and Tom. I got to recover a little on the first singletrack climb, I guess everyone was working just as hard as me. Before we crossed the third ski trail I asked Tom if I could go past him, thankfully he said yes, now I was on John's tail. I made the same request before the next singletrack trail and John also let me past. After passing John I was going a little faster than before and on a slightly different line and almost hit some trees. I was now sitting in 3rd place.... 
Given how Tom, Owen, Andy and I had caught up with Jamie and John on previous laps I was confident I would be able get a little time on John on the singletrack, I needed this though as he is very fast on the multiuse trails.
At the bottom of L-train I had put some time into John and Tom, I managed to slightly extend this on by the bottom of Good Greeff, to around 10 seconds - well until the climbing started. That is where my legs decided no Nick, you have used your allotted power for today. As we came off Good Greeff, there was no time difference..... great I am thinking its going to be a sprint finish. My only choice was to ride as fast as I could and hope something happened. I channelled my inner Jens Voigt and pedalled my arse off. 
By the end of the singletrack I had put in around 2 seconds though I didn't know this (strava fly by is a great tool). I pedalled as hard as I could to the finish where I reached my maximum heart rate on the race. Looking at the replay I finished around 5 seconds ahead of John who had not had the best exit from the singletrack.  I held on for 3rd place my best placing in an ASS race expert category. 
Sprinting for 3rd place - PC Robb Christenson

Podium picture - PC Robb Christenson


I had a great race there is no doubt about it, 3rd place is more due to some of the faster riders not being there however, I have improved my speed and I am closer to the top riders now I think. 
I wouldn't have done nearly as well at this race without the assistance (drafting and encouragement) from Tom and Andy you both saved my race and I can't thank you enough for that. 
Note to self, put items you are not going to use (gloves and buff) in a different place to the stuff you are going to use like a bottle. Racecraft 101 failure. 
I have been riding, ok "training" with a bunch of really fast riders to try and improve my speed on these short course races. Clearly its paying off. Thank you Andy, Tom, Megan and all the other riders in that group who push me to my limits and beyond sometimes, (yes hitting that tree really hurt). 
Team rides with Revolution are also starting to pay off, getting to ride with my teammates is always fun, hopefully we will continue this throughout the season. 

Strava or it didn't happen?


Thanks to Chain Reaction Cycles for putting on a great series. I know it must be a hassle with all the permits and working on the courses especially given the course conditions can change so rapidly due to weather. Once again the ASS races have been fun to participate in. 

01 March 2017

State 13

The 50 states of running continued with me picking up another state on our last holiday to California.

See previous states here
8 states of running

The 9th state

States 10,11 and a throwback to 12

I did a couple of runs whilst we were down in San Diego.

For my state run I picked this one, out along the pavement and back via the beach.

13 down 37 to go

05 February 2017

Back again at Eagle River Nature Centre

Just over four years ago we arrived in Anchorage, after getting fat bikes I immediately started to race mine. My third race was the second ever fat bike race at ERNC, my race report can be found here (link)
I would like to say that my racing has improved but I still go out to fast, explode then struggle to finish. FYI this is the unofficial Revolution Racing team motto "Go out hard, blow up and struggle to finish" Most of my team mates have the right idea, if we ever don't get the motto right we seem to do much better in the races. 

This year I was back for the ERNC race after a two year absence, the course was also back at ERNC after missing last year there due to open water on the river. This year the temperature was around 7F at the start and dropped to around 0F on the river. 

The course went the opposite way to the way we rode the course last time I was there in 2013. We started with a relatively smooth downhill on wider trails which were only slightly moose tracked. Then we had around 7 miles of river riding on packed snow machine trails with a couple of sections of glare ice. We exited the river up a technical climb then followed the ERNC trails before turning onto a less used trail by humans but seeming a highway for moose and climbed a very bumpy trail for around 0.6 miles before descending around 0.6 miles back onto the more used (packed and smooth) trails to complete the lap. 

How did my race go

Surprisingly well to be honest. I started near the front a trick I have learnt from cyclo cross, as we entered the river for lap one I was in around 8th place but there was already a gap to the lead group. I was riding with strong group and enjoying myself. Megan (one of my training buddies) who was following me then jumped infront to "share" the workload but then proceeded to drop me, why do you have to be so strong Megan :D.

Truth be told I was struggling to follow her closely through the soft and icy sections so dropped back a little so as I could pick my own safer line, I was slowed up a little on one of the two way sections as someone coming towards me veered onto my side of the trail but Megan had by this point caught up with Jamie and Clint. I was in sight of the three of them for the rest of the river miles on lap one then got completely dropped as we exited the river. On the plus side there was nobody around me, on the down side there was nobody around me and I kind of forgot I was in a race with some really fast people behind me. 

I wasn't really pushing that hard through the really bumpy section of the course until I saw Jamie ahead of me (he had taken a bad fall on the ice) he kindly pulled over and let me past as I continued to complete my first lap. Getting back onto the smoother trails I remembered I hadn't really been eating and drinking and still had another 11 miles to go. As we got onto the river I was messing around swapping gloves whilst riding and trying to eat when I hear a scream from behind me. That can only mean one thing Laura had caught back up with me, oh crap I thought I am racing. She was riding with a guy called David and a guy called Matt and they had clearly not forgotten they were racing. Dave and Matt passed me and I was still messing around eating and drinking but managed to keep them within striking distance as we exited the river for the second time. Laura was right on my heal too.

The exit was not as smooth this lap and all four of us ended up dabbing and then pushing up the hill. We re-mounted and the pace increased as we headed to the moose tracked section of the course. I was right on David and Matt's heals as we headed up the bumpy section which unfortunately hadn't improved with the passing of 100 racers. As we got the the steep left hand bend once again we were off the bikes and pushing. The pace was a little to slow for me to ride so I decided to save my energy and run whist the other two riders tried to ride. This paid off big time as I managed to pass both riders the next time they stalled. I ran to the top of the next hill then pedalled like a crazy man to the finish. The few riders I passed who were finishing their races were very courteous and let me past very quickly.

The race finishes with a 0.2 mile climb and via the magic of Strava I can confirm that although I went flat out up the last climb if I had still been with David and Matt I am sure I would have finished behind them. I was 20 seconds slower than Matt and my legs were cramping up. 

I finished the race in 1:56:56 in 8th place, Matt was 9th in 1:57:02, David 10th in 1:57:06 and Laura 11th in 1:58:27.

It was great to see so many friends out at the event and see the happy faces come the finish of the race. Thanks to ERNC for putting on a great event, the post ride BBQ and hang out was great fun.

I would also like to say a huge thank you to Bria who looked after Fiona whilst I raced as Amanda was working, without you taking care of Fiona I wouldn't have have been able to race.

Ice beard kisses

What would I do differently next time

This time I am very happy with my performance. My first race at this location I was almost 28min behind the overall winner, this year I was only 17min behind the overall winner. FYI winner both times was Will Ross.  The only thing I would change up for next time is to eat and drink a little more earlier on during the race. 
I didn't go out way to hard like normal so my pacing was pretty good for a change although my second lap was still around 7 min slower than my first lap so definitely room for improvement there. 
I really wish I had taken a few photos whilst riding as the scenery was spectacular.

Strava file of the race 

31 January 2017

Winter Trails with references 2017

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