September 21, 2010 By Keith
25 miles for cat1 & 2, 11 miles for cat3. It’s quite fast and at speed the bumps add up to require full suspension.
Victoria Gates – Cat3 junior women, 1st
Teri Carilli – Cat2 women 35+, 6th
Kristen Lukach – Cat1 women 13-35, 2nd
Ben Pagano – Cat2 men 30-39, 1st
Keith Reynolds – Cat1 men 30-39, 4th
Janet Lorang – Cat2 women 19-34, 2nd
Anthony Fedirko – Cat3 men 30-39, 27th
Kelly Mendoza – Cat3 women 35+, 2nd
Eddie Mendoza – Cat3 men 40-49, 5th
For this race we did something new. We tented in the Wompatuck campground for a night. On Saturday we set up camp and got dressed so we could go on a pre ride. My Uncle Tony, Kelly M, Eddie M, and I all hit the trails. When we returned we ate and went to sleep. I woke up early to start a fire for breakfast. After eating we headed over to the race site. The start was confusing because of the way they called us up. Kelly and I didn’t have a plan for the start but it ended up happening that Kelly led me into the woods. Once I hit the double track I was leading the race. From that point on I didn’t see anyone again. I crashed twice over the course of the race. One of the marshals directed me about a mile off the course and at the marathon mile 22 I turned around frustrated. I had to work a little harder now considering I had just did an extra mile. By the end I was tired and moved cautiously over the roots. After coming around the berm I finished and won 1st place. I have to say that this was an awesome season and I’m glad that I got to have a chance to work with all of you. Thanks for making it a great first season for me.
I remember absolutely loving this course last year. In fact I remember leading my field for most of the race until mile 17 at which point I broke my chain and finished DFL. This year however I was determined to redeem myself. This course suits me well, it’s a power course, mostly flat and technical…and long. The type of course that just matches my abilities well. As long as you can flow the technical stuff it’s basically a time trial. Things started a bit slower than I expected which was good as I was lined up in the second row. I quickly came around all but 4 riders on the left hand side. I picked up a stick between my rear tire and chain stay and it was rubbing horrendously. We headed into the woods and I was working extra hard because of the jammed stick, I didn’t want to stop to pull it out so I hopped my bike up and down a few times with no luck. Finally I kicked a few hard pedal strokes, unclipped my right foot and kicked at the stick breaking it off. One more bunny hop and I felt it slip away; all of a sudden I could pedal without resistance again! We were bombing down the flat single track when the guy in front of me swerved around a big baby head. I hopped it. The guy behind me… not so much. I heard the crash and lots of cursing! I passed the couple of guys in front of me and settled in on a bike barn guy. I thought he was the leader as he was the first one I thought I saw going into the woods. He was riding smooth and fast, keeping me working as I stayed on his wheel. Coming to the first feed zone he had blown, I had not… as I came around he panted out “I can’t believe you stayed with me through all that!” I said, “Good job man!” But I was really thinking to myself “why can’t you believe it? I’m going to win this race!” I put a gap on the rest of the field and did not let up the pace at all. At mile 12 I came out on to the road and I saw that there was a guy in my field up ahead, he was the series leader all summer and nipped me at the line at Hodges dam. He looked back and saw me coming on the road and drifted over to block me from getting to the single track. It ticked me off so I put the hammer down as I rolled back into the woods. This guy dogged me the whole rest of the race; it wasn’t until I was able to put some bodies between us that the gap started. Some of the straggling cat1’s started to separate us. I brought the pace up even more to widen the gap. Finally got out on the road again, tried to get aero and just crank it out. 27 mph going into the out and back… I saw Keith coming towards me the other way so I knew I was riding a fast time. As I was coming back myself I kept looking to see my nemesis coming the other way, I never saw him. That meant he was still on my tail, closer than I thought. I drilled it, gave it every thing I had. Every little rough section that slowed me, I said out loud, “keep it together, you’ve got this.” That was my mantra, and it worked. Finally I came up to the long bridge that is near the finish, I knew I had it. I rolled gently to the line and pulled under the tape. I don’t think it was 30 seconds later that 2nd place came through. We shook hands, it was a great race! I have since requested and been approved for my Cat 1 upgrade. It was nice to see all the hard work this season pay off, it always feels good to achieve your goals.
Landmine was one of my very first races and my memory of it was more rocks and roots per square foot than anywhere except maybe the Glocester Grind. With that in mind, I decided to race my full suspension bike. On Saturday, I pre-rode the beginner loop as part of a LUNA Chix ride I was leading. Surprisingly, it was less rocky/rooty than I remembered which almost caused me to show up with the hardtail on Sunday. Good thing I didn’t. The rest of the full course makes up for what the beginner course lacked in obstacles.
At the whistle, I fell behind the leaders and decided to let them pull for the grassy field start. Soon the rider in front of me started to fall off pace, so I jumped ahead to stick with the lead group of 5 or so. Around a mile in, as we hit the first roots, I was passed by Janet (NEBC & LUNA) and Nahysa (another of my LUNA teammates).
Soon after the first feed zone, I started getting passed by some of the beginner men. They’re still learning how to effectively pass riders so I think it was frustrating for both them and me (enough so that one guy and I exchanged nasty words as he was sighing and moaning every time I made him slow down and yet wouldn’t pass me when there was room.) Finally, I pulled off and stopped so he HAD to pass. He went flying by, missed the arrow for the next left turn and disappeared. Which meant he was back behind me again. ~sigh. Fortunately, not long after, the beginner and regular courses split so I had the trail all to myself.
A few miles later I was passed by Mike Broderick (winner of the 50 mile marathon race). He flew by me quietly, effortlessly, and with a nice, “Good job! Keep it up!” I love being passed by the pros.
After that, I was for the most part alone out there although managed to pass a few Cat 2 guys. I came to what appeared to be a dead end at the base of granite wall, found an orange arrow, looked at the narrow trail heading up the wall and thought, “You have got to be
All told, I feel like this season I’ve improved technically but my fitness just really isn’t there. My secret goal was to hopefully upgrade to Cat 1 this season. It’s super clear I don’t belong there yet. Maybe next year.
Despite that, it’s been absolutely the most fun mountain bike season for me yet. Being part of the elite team has been a huge honor – the camaraderie has been awesome and riding with my teammates has helped me improve tremendously. Nothing like trying to hang on behind Keith and Ben to help you learn to pick lines and learn what it’s like to ride fast and trust the bike to do the right thing. And to have them as spotters while working on more technical aspects is huge (yes, they always caught me when I fell.) Watching Kristen attempt (usually successfully) crazy technical things has made me be less of a wuss and challenge myself in places where I’d usually say, “NFW”. And just trying to stay a step ahead of Victoria is motivation in and of itself! She’ll be flying by me on the trails soon!
And as they say, the best way to learn something is to have to teach it so participating in clinics as an instructor was also incredibly valuable. Really hoping to do more of that so I hope we get more NEBCers out trying some MTB rides and maybe even races next year.
Landmine is my ideal type of course. Not a whole lot of climbing, and technical enough to reward some good bike handling over pure fitness. The only other racer in my age group turned out to be Lori K, who I haven’t had a chance to race against since early last season. I was excited to have one last chance to match up against her and a few of the regulars from the 35+ age group. Mentally, I was ready to rumble as we counted down the last 30 seconds until the whistle.
I made sure to stay in contact with Lori during the parade lap around the field, but lost two spots before entering the singletrack and settled into my now usual spot at the rear of the pack. Soon enough, Lori was out of sight and I was starting to get antsy with the pace so when Loren decided to pass the rider who was two spots up from me, I hopped on her wheel and followed suit. I had to ride way above my comfort level to stay on her wheel but 4 miles later, I was still attached and she was waving for me to come around. Wait, what? ”Seriously? Are you sure?” I asked. She pulled over to let me pass, (most likely disturbed by my obnoxious wheezing) and I took the lead with more than a little trepidation. I was now riding ahead of not one but TWO riders that I’ve never even come close to beating in my entire career. I figured that I was either going to bonk out of my head before this race was over or have the best race of my life so I decided to go for it. I heard there were going to be bike medics patrolling the trails anyway, so at least there would be someone out there to scoop up my shattered corpse if things when badly
Life was grand until about mile 15 or so when I came into a rock garden too fast, took a terrible line and heard the dreaded, thwack-POW! of my rear tire getting wedged between a rock and a hard place. I looked back to see if it was going to flat and was relieved to see it was still holding air. Phew! Not thirty seconds later though, things started to feel funny as if I was riding on black ice and then I hear the familiar thumpthumpthumpthump of a flat tire. D’Oh! I got the busted tube out, a new tube in and seated the tire back onto the rim with no problems but shaky hands led to me blowing out my CO2 cartridge before any of the air made it in and then I struggled for way too long trying to get my little hand pump to hook-up. In the meantime, Loren has passed by along with about 20 more guys and quite possibly, the other women from my field.
Frustrated at my bad luck and worse mechanic’s stills, I only get my tube partially inflated before heading off down the trail and I have to stop and pump it up again within a mile. And then again a mile later. By stop number 3, I finally catch on that what I’m dealing with is actually a leak. As the air slowly begins to disappear out of my tire yet again, my motivation to salvage the race dissipates into the atmosphere as well.
I couldn’t quit just yet though, because I knew my old nemesis was still out there charging forward in the Cat2 field, so I proceeded to skip between frantic tire pumping and hauling buns for the last couple of miles. At some point during this melee of franticness, I came upon my brother who was also in a bit of a panic, trying to get his bike back into working order after snapping his chain. “Can we blame this on genetics?” I asked. “Oh and BTW I’m soo going to beat you this time!” I yelled as I rolled by. He laughed, I laughed. It was a good way to end the day and helped put things back into perspective for me. It’s only a bike race, after all.
I am sad to see the season come to an end. As many of you know, I’m not from the Boston area but NEBC has really become like a second family and my home away from home over the past couple of years. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the team this summer and I cannot say thank you enough to everyone who came out to the group rides and clinics. We learn best when we learn from each other and I know I learned more about riding my bike this summer than I ever thought possible. If you didn’t give mountain biking a try this year and you think you might want to, do it! I guarantee you’ll catch knobby-tire fever.
My goals for this race was to meet or better my 3rd place finish from last year. The conditions then were wet and this year 99% dry. The course is a bump-fest so I hurried to get a full suspension together up until the weekend. Arriving at the race I was in charge of distribution for Wayne Cunningham Industries cross barriers ™. FYI everyone loved them! During that I ran into an old friend who I’ll credit with getting me into racing. The last race he’d entered was one that we both did back in 2002. Since then he forgotten to sleep & eat properly before the race but his new born might have something to do with that. While everyone from NEBC gathered and chatted about the race Marc blatterd out, it should only take an hour right? This was 25 miles.. right. Typical Marc when you don’t know if he’s joking or not.
We lined up in our respective fields and were set off. I jumped into 5th wheel or so and sat in for the first few miles. Our pace was great, we pace lined and went smoothly through the twisting trails. There was one abrupt turn with a crash but we all avoided stacking up on the poor guy. Soon came the feed zone and I was antsy to get into the front. So I moved up and set the pace with a guy on my wheel. We got away from the main group, the only time I looked back was as we crested a rise. We moved on and he buzzed my rear wheel a few times; on the road and on the trail- I motioned for him to pull through but he wouldn’t.
I pulled away in frustration at some point but then started to suffer from a squishy rear tire. Damn Specialized tires haven’t seated for me once! Rubbish I thought and after a couple of miles of visualizing my fix (CO2 shot) I pulled over and inflated while 3 guys passed. Shawn asked if I needed anything, I said no but was only wishing I had changed my tire in the morning. I chased and chased! Soon a master rider came up behind me and crashed in some rocks. It was hard to hear or see what happened and I hoped to see a marshal or medical staff so I could report it asap. Unfortunately it was at least a mile if not more but I slowed and gave a description.
Sam Morse joined up, much the same as last year. He struggles through the technical sections and dusts you on the straights/road. I tried to be his seeing eye dog in the technical areas (he threw his fogging glasses!) calling out turns. We passed the final feed zone and knew there were only a handful of miles left to make up precious time. He started to turn up the gas and went ahead for a while. A few twinges came in the quads but oh how I wanted to rejoin the group ahead, I thought there was only 1 or 2 from my field.
We were running into the back of the beginners field and making the best of sportsmanlike passing. The bridges were much improved over last year, no slips on wet wood. The wired and braced wooden rails were wonderful compared to the prior year. Then we came to a split in the road- beginners to go one way and the rest another. I was not entirely sure of a marshal to give directions so I rechecked with another just after I listened and made my choice. No easily read sign was there. I continued to chase and saw Sam and just in front another guy maybe from my field! Pushing hard into the final miles Sam flipped over in a loose corner. He was okay but just lost at least a minute gathering himself. I then caught & passed the other guy, still hoping for a chance to the podium. It wouldn’t be as I came into the finish not having seen those whom I marked.
I spoke to the ‘winner’ and he described the road split, where he was directed the wrong way only to figure it out after a pro passed him. He told the officials and was to me, he admitted he wanted the win. Long story short, the officials & staff looked to us -the field- to determine the placings which I feel is a bit of a shortfall on their part. I walked away with a consolation prize and a bit of disappointment.
Ben soon came screaming in with a blazing time, along with the ladies (Janet, Teri & Kristen). Victoria and Tony were also subject to the mis-direction of the race volunteer, having ridden a few extra miles.
I saw Marc finish, complete with ritz/cheese remains on his cheeks. It was a hoot! He was bonked and totally re-hooked on racing. After five minutes of gathering himself and guzzling a drink he was back to life and exclaiming how do I join the club?
It’s the collective enjoyment such as this which we look to share. Come on out and join us. There’s often a fall schedule of MTB rides for NEBC to meet up with the rest of the club and explore some great locations. Drop me a note and we’ll stay in touch.