Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sea Otter Race Report and The New Vintage KHS

Trying my best to HTFU at the finish line

Today was my first MTB race - and what better place to pop my MTB race cherry than Sea Otter? If you haven't experienced the glory of the Sea Otter Classic (and you like bicycles) you are missing quite the show. From dirt jumping, trials, cyclocross, dual slalom, road racing, cross-country, short circuit... they definitely have something for everyone. Biggest complaint was that you are nickel'ed-and-dime'd everywhere you turn, but that is usually a given with an event like this.

A couple of months ago, the guys from Team Social Pace and I decided we were going to sign up for the cross-country race. I had my reservations, given my sorry experience with cyclocross racing - but I really, really enjoy MTB riding, so I figured this would be more to my liking.

I got a decent start, considering I was jammed all the way in the back of the line-up, and I kept my pace throughout the 16 mile course. I forgot to turn on my Garmin, so I don't have the stats for what really went down, but I think I was able to maintain my heart rate at an average of 163 bpm.

In the beginning, the course was incredibly foggy, and it was difficult to navigate through the fire road descents. I saw a handful of guys bomb past me - so in the future I will take more time in scouting the course and becoming accustomed to it.

I had three significant newbie mistakes:

1) In my attempt at being courteous to others in faster categories, I waved by a few riders in my class, not seeing that I did until they were gone. Fortunately, I passed them on some of the climbs in the next few miles.

2) I crashed. Again, as I was letting riders go, someone from the faster group hooked handlebars with me and we both went down. That cost me some time.

3) I had a strange, cross-chaining situation that I had to pull over and rectify. That cost me time.

In the end, I finished 50 out of 62 in Cat3, 35-39 - which I am content with. I guess you can say it is the "front of the back of the pack".

I think I like MTB racing more than cyclocross. CX just frustrated me, but MTB was a little more satisfying - best of all, I had friends there who were spread out in other classes - and afterward we got to meet up, congratulate each other, and enjoy the camaraderie.

Until next year?

My Fairy Princess Bike

I don't know what's wrong with me.

Really... for some reason I had a wild-hair to find a steel (preferably lugged), vintage MTB. After dealing with some weirdos on Craigslist, I finally found something that I liked - a 1988 KHS Montana Pro.

I made some arrangements with the seller to meet in Mountain View, Ca. and purchase it for $85 - thinking that it would need some serious work. However, when I met with her, I discovered it was in pristine condition. She was the original owner, and all the parts were original except the tires. It is built with Tange steel, and constructed with triple butted chromoly - completely bathed in appropriate late 80's teal and purple color scheme.

Well, obviously, I couldn't leave it alone, so I did some minor mods, a gearing change to make it more practical by today's standards, and added more color. It rides beautifully!

Now, it is my Fairy Princess Bike... and this man, is not afraid to bust out on the trail every so often. 


Monday, April 2, 2012

Sea Otter Recon Mission Ride Report and more on the On-One 456...

I know I should have been at Church on Sunday (Palm Sunday) but I went on a April Fool's Recon Mission with Ken and Newton instead. This ride was to specifically investigate the Sea Otter course and see how to plan it out for race day.

This was my first time riding Laguna Seca, and I have to say that it was actually pretty awesome. TONS of land to be ridden and a few really fun single track sections. But the land is so vast and so intertwined, you can really get lost out there.

The Sea Otter course for the Cat3 (Fat3 is what I call it for myself) is actually not as punishing as I thought it would be. Yes, there is some cranked-out climbing, but there are also a lot of recovery sections and fast, pinned flat areas. I am especially excited about the single track sections, because if it dries out more, it will be rail'able, which is definitely my riding strengths.

This is a pretty nasty, very sandy downhill section where I simply unclipped, hung my right foot out and slid down it - somehow managing to keep it upright. You can see, Ken decided to run down it. I foresee some epic crashes on this section.

I am racing with a CamelBak, which I never wear when I ride. I don't want to fiddle with trying to grab the water bottle while I'm tapped out, and I know I may blast through one water bottle - so I'm choosing to race with 35-40 ounces in the bladder. The CamelBak worked well and I think it should be great for the 16 mile course.

Back to the On-One 456...

This bike is totally different with the new 400mm seat post installed. With proper leg extension on my downstroke when pedaling, it is now an efficient climber (to a certain extent). It is not, by any means, near the efficiency of a true XC bike, but for all mountain riding, I have to say that I am enjoying it quite a bit. The technical climbs are simply a blast and railing on double tracks with jumps and other fun things is what this bike does really, really well.

I still think that maybe an 18" would be more to my liking, but the 16" with the long flagpole sticking out of the seat post tube seems to be just fine.

If you are in that strange "average" height category (5'9" - 5'10") I would advise to try riding a friend's 456 before ordering a frame. I really think I would've went with an 18" if I had the opportunity to try one for fit. For your reference, I am 5'9" with a 30" inseam.