Archive for May, 2014

2014 Skyway Epic race report

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

As any of my riding friends or anyone who has read this blog probably knows, my last two races at Skyway Epic have more or less been disasters.  At the 2012 race I managed to get sick to my stomach and eventually bonked bad, coupled with loads of leg cramps.  At the 2013 race, I crashed more than once and also got off course twice.  Both years I had subpar finish times and it has always bothered me.  For 2014, my main goals were to finish with a better time than the previous years and do so safely with no crashes and no going off course.  Luckily for me, things worked out OK.

I got up early on Sunday and headed down to Lake Howard in Sylacauga for the 8am start.  None of my usual riding mates could make it, so it was just me for this one.  I didn’t get there until almost 7:30, so I had just enough time to check in, add some Stan’s sealant to my tires, lube the chain, and kit up.  Then it was time to start.

Like the first two years, we had a very short ride on pavement and grass until we hit the usual mass bottleneck at the trailhead.  I wanted to play it safe this year, and I had no real motivation for going out hard, so I just tucked in near the back third of the group behind one of the female riders (would later find out it was Maaike Everts) and we rode at a fast-yet-casual pace.  I was glad to have her set the speed so that I could watch her lines, as it had been a year since I was last on these trails and had basically forgotten everything about them.  Lee Neal ended up right behind me and we rode together until the trail turned to dirt road and then eventually to the first aid station.

Lee was on a singlespeed, so eventually I had pulled away on the flats and low-sloped downhills since he was spinning out his one gear to its limit while I enjoyed all 20 of mine.  The long, gradual uphill began at around the 16-mile mark with a few rollers, turning steeper at around mile 20.  Not sure where exactly the official KOM point was, but the high point came at around mile 22 or 23.  Then it was a constant up-down-up-down along some really ragged jeep roads until the turnaround point.  After a quick bottle refill and some gels, it was time to turn around.

By now Lee had bridged back up to me and we rode more or less together after the final aid station.  I say more or less because he would drift away on the hills thanks to his one gearing option being taller than my low gears, and then I would bridge back to him on the flats and descents thanks to my high gears.  He was a super nice dude to be riding with though, and it helped to be able to watch his line on a few of the treacherous sections of jeep road.  By the time we turned off of Wiregrass and back onto the last trails, I was beginning to get some crampy tightness in my quads and had to scale it back to some really low gears, which caused me to lose touch with the group we were in at that time….especially at the creek crossing, where I hit a rock wrong and got stopped in the water and had to walk out rather than maintain riding momentum.

Having nobody in sight behind, and just one other rider (from Bike Link Racing) in front of me I just took it easy until my legs felt strong enough to push the pace without cramping.  By the time I hit the last few miles of singletrack I was feeling really good, especially knowing that the race was almost over.  I pulled through the finish line with plenty of strength left, albeit with a sore neck and a headache (likely from dehydration), and was glad to see that I beat my previous year’s time by 50 minutes.

Knowing that I had some leftover energy and felt good, I shoulda/coulda picked up the speed a bit on a few of the long climbs and on the return leg of Wiregrass.  But really I’m happy with how I finished considering my sole objectives were to have fun, stay safe, and beat my previous times…..all of which were accomplished.  I got to ride and chat with some good folks along the way, and the Succeed S-caps tablets that I took (2 per hour, on the hour) did all I needed them to do in terms of fighting off my usual leg cramps.  Plus, with the weather being partly cloudy and ranging from probably upper 50s to lower 70s, it absolutely could not have been any nicer outside.  In addition to my trusty S-caps, I think what might have made the most positive difference for me this year was the fact that I decided just a few hours earlier to put my cadence sensor on my mountain bike (normally it’s on my cross/road bike).  This allowed me to drop into a lower gear to save muscle fatigue, while at the same time forcing me to be cognizant of my cadence so that I could keep it up around 85 to 95.  Normally I’m a heavy gear masher, utilizing higher gears at a cadence of around 65 to 70, which just wears my legs down over the course of a long race like this one.  But at a cadence of 90 on the hills, I was able to hit the flats feeling much fresher without the need for long recovery time.

Once again Brent Marshall and his crew pulled off a really fun event.  It was just as hard, and just as body-beating as I remember from the previous years, but it was still a lot of fun.  And the guys/gals from COGS really did a great job of keeping the trails maintained and in race-ready shape.

No pics are posted yet to the Skyway Epic facebook page, but if/when they are I will link them up.  My strava data can be found here.

Race Map - notice the major elevation change throughout the center of the race

Race Map – notice the major elevation change throughout the center of the race

decent training ride

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , on May 18, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

I haven’t been riding enough long rides lately to feel even remotely ready for this weekend’s Skyway Epic, so I had a rare chance on Tuesday to go on a long-ish ride on my mountain bike at Oak Mountain State Park…..my first ride over two hours in length since Southern Cross in February.

I was able to combine pavement and trails for around 38 miles with 3000′ of climbing, at a time of over 3 hours.  Not close enough to what will likely be a 6-hour day at Skyway, but it was the best I’ve been able to do lately.

The highlights of my ride include sneaking up on a hawk and getting within 4 feet of him, and then about an hour later having a huge owl come straight for me on the trail with talons hanging.  He ended up just a couple of feet above my helmet when he passed overhead….I thought for sure he was planning to grab my helmet because he never deviate from course for the 20 yards or so that he tracked me down from directly in front of me.  It was a nice little adrenaline booster and fun to see one of nature’s predators in his element.

No photos to show, but here is the ride link for Strava.

race report – Double Oak Duathlon

Posted in ride reports with tags , , , , on May 18, 2014 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

It’s been quite a while since my last post, but truthfully most of my rides have been early morning rides following the same routes as what I’ve posted about plenty of times before….nothing new to report for the most part.  But, I did get a chance to try my hand at my first multi-sport event, the Double Oak Duathlon.

The duathlon was held April 12th at Oak Mountain State Park and I elected to do the “sprint” distance version.  This consisted of a 5K run (mostly asphalt with some trail), then a 20K pavement ride, followed by a 2.5K run mostly on trails.  It was a great way to try out a multi-sport event, as it was very well-run and was also local so it involved no traveling.

Most of the race for me was a bit of a comedy of errors on my part.  First off, I put the seatpost wrap-around number sticker on my top tube.  Not sure why I did this since I knew better, but I guess I just wasn’t paying attention and then once it was on there was no getting it off without ripping it.  Secondly, I pinned my jersey plate to my chest which effectively blocked out the 41 Flyers Racing logo, whereas most everyone else pinned it down at the bottom front of their jersey.  I would also come to realize while riding my bike that I forgot my glasses.  It wasn’t too sunny, but having the wind/bug protection sure would have been nice.  Also while on the bike, I somehow forgot my gloves.  I spent the whole ride wishing I had made sure to keep my gloves at the transition zone, only to realize after the race was complete that I had put them in my jersey pocket and could have easily put them on at any time.

The race started out with a more-or-less out-and-back run on pavement.  But, on the return leg we detoured onto one of the easy mountain bike trails for the last little bit before hitting the transition zone.  Just before hitting the trail, I was passed by a group of teenage girls….a little humbling, even though they were all part of the US National Junior Team for the southeast region.

Having never done a multi-sport event, the transition zone was not exactly a strength for me.  But, I managed to fumble around quick enough to put on my biking shoes and helmet….but as mentioned above, no glasses or gloves.  The bike leg for me was actually probably my worst leg of the three, as I really had no idea how hard I could push and still have enough in the tank for the final run.  Turns out I could have pushed harder and likely shaved several minutes.  Plus, I was riding my cyclocross bike while the vast majority of the racers were on tri bikes, TT bikes, or really fast road bikes.  In hindsight, I should have asked Bike Link if I could demo one of their tri bikes for the race.  I got my revenge on some of the teenage girls though by passing them on the road.

The last run leg was almost all on trail and I ended up having plenty of energy in the tank to complete it in a respectable time….not a great time, but I never felt winded and could have pushed it harder if I wanted.  But after passing a few people on the trail I had enough daylight in front of me and behind me to not need to dig any deeper.  Running a little faster wouldn’t have gotten me up to the next racer so it just wasn’t worth it.

I had no idea what my placing would be, but I knew I had two other racers in the 40-44 age bracket in front of me.  I stuck around for the podium ceremony and was pleasantly surprised to find out I got third place in my age group.  At first they called me up for second place, but they somehow overlooked one of the racers in front of me and he was able to let them know in time to get his rightful spot and drop me to third.

All in all not a bad way to spend the morning.  I got to meet a few new folks, reconnect with a few others that I had met before, and walk away with a decent placing.  Plus it was a very well put together race, which made it a nice first venture into multisport events.  I am already looking forward to doing the same race next year and improving upon my time.

Some pics are below.

run leg #1 - never noticed before how small my head is

run leg #1 – never noticed before how small my head is

bike leg - notice the lack of glasses and gloves

bike leg – notice the lack of glasses and gloves, but my right arm looks like good muscle

podium - a little sweat stain and some good beard action

podium – a little sweat stain and some good beard action