Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fat Tire Challenge 2012

I raced the Fat Tire Challenge in Sigel, PA, just like I did last year.  This is the only mountain bike race I've gone to that actually has a unicycle class.

We only had three muni riders attend. Two of the local-ish riders from last year had other obligations and one from Maryland didn't make the journey.

So it was me (24" geared), Dave (29"), and Connor (24").

The photos always seem to be taken on the easy road sections.

Last year the muni group rode about 6 or 7 miles, about half of the mountain bike course.  This year, about an hour before racing, we decided to extend the course to over 10 miles.  The shorter course is hard enough, but making it longer seemed like a good way to get the most out of the long trip I made.

This year had a time trial start.  This meant that riders didn't start together but staggered every 10 seconds.  The race was against the clock more than other riders.

I was especially impressed with Connor at the beginning of the race.  He started ahead of me with about a 20 second start.  It starts up a dirt road hill and I don't think I cut much distance between us until we headed down the other side.  At that point my geared hub had an advantage over his single-speed.  I caught up to and passed him.  Seconds later we entered the trail and I was back to low gear.  I thought I was pushing fairly hard, but in a few minutes I UPD'ed and Connor was right there to pass me.  We battled back and forth for maybe 10 minutes before I eventually passed him and gained more ground.  I had some time to watch him ride and he's definitely a strong rider.

The course was painful.  The climbing seems to never end.  There are many rock outcroppings and technical uphills that just aren't worth messing around with during a race, at least at my current level. So I walked more than I'd like.  It's good to have a challenge, but many sections were torturous.

On probably about the last 3 miles, my quads were giving hints of cramping up on any significant hill climb.  Eventually they did.  Just like I felt several weeks back, it appears to be my "Vastis Medialis" muscles.  I had to step off but that only seemed to make it worse.  Walking felt impossible.  Those muscles were spasming like crazy.  It looked like something was alive in there and moving around. So I stood there in pain, drinking some water, wondering how in the world I'd make it to the finish.  It seemed like about 5 minutes passed before I could start moving again, but then before I knew it I was riding fairly normal, though feeling like cramping was imminent.  Sure enough, I had about 5 more of these bouts before finishing the race.  At least 10 minutes of my race time must have been spent just standing there waiting to become functional again.

The standings were fairly predictable given last year's outcome:

 Place   Name     Age   Start      Finish       Time   
    1    Dave     40   38:23.70  2:28:24.50  1:50:00.80 
    2    Buzz     36   38:37.70  2:49:33.00  2:10:55.30 
    3    Connor   15   38:14.90  3:02:09.90  2:23:55.00 
Besides the leg cramping issue, my lower back was fatiguing too.  I'll be doing some serious research about these problems and working to solve them.

Fat Tire Challenge - 2012-06-16

UPDATE 2012-07-15:
I stumbled some images at this blog and this album. Thanks Grace!

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