Rolling Thunder Cyclocross Race November 3rd

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Montana XC Season Begins - Unscratch the Gravel - Sunday

Unscratch the Gravel Cross Country race is this Sunday. For the flier click here.

The race is in Helena. The course is comprised of 70% double track and 30% single track. This is the first stop in the Montana Offroad Series (MORS). All the XC riders should be out in full force. As far as I know this is a new race in the MORS series.

It should be an excellent race with phenomenal weather.

Good luck to all!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brendan Halpin's Wildflower Report

*Note: The AVIA Wildflower Triathlon is really three separate, fiendishly difficult triathlon events, wrapped around a fun exposition and some great camping. The first event at the AVIA Wildflower Triathlon, held Saturday, is the "long course" event, also known as the "half-Ironman." The second, the Mountain Bike triathlon, could be called a "super-duper Sprint," as it's a little longer than a Super Sprint and a little shorter than a standard Sprint. The third, held Sunday, is an Olympic-distance triathlon. All take place on a rough, tough course that will test the mettle of any triathlete. At the AVIA Wildflower Triathlon, be prepared for hills, hills and more hills when you're not in the water. -

After a couple weeks I finally feel like I can give a good race report from Wildflower. It was a mix of old and new faces that made the long journey down to the Wildflower triathlon festival. The long course race was truly a who's who of triathlon. The only major players not at the race were Macca and Crowie, other than that there were it least 10 pro's capable of winning the race. It was fun to watch the newbies in awe of how big Wildflower actually is, and Matty drool over the professionals that he reads so much about. At one point I almost had him convinced to touch Bjorn Anderson. I was excited to race and unleash some demons on this race from last year. The swim went well and I was in a good group and exited the water in 28 minutes and change. I headed out along the lake and saw the crazy UM folks cheering like crazy and Matt let me know I was only 3 minutes down on the wave leaders. The bike felt awesome and I found a good rhythm and passed a bunch of folks and was quickly passing the women's pro field. I caught 1st and 2nd in my wave with about 10 miles to go and passed them putting some time into them. At that point I new I was leading the amateur race so all I had to do was hold it together on the run. Coming back into the park I encounter the UM folks again and Matty Ice was going crazy. I entered t2 with Victor Plata and he was in awe because I had started 10 minutes back from the pro men's wave. I took off on the run and my legs felt great and running was feeling effortless. I passed a bunch of professionals and new that I was going to be close to the amateur course record. I saw Adam at the run turn around and all he said was, "are you kidding me." After the race he was not fully convinced that I started 10 minutes down on him. The long downhill took its toll on the body and I crossed the line in 4:17 and change two minutes off the course record, but I had the 4th fastest run overall. I was stoked on the race and especially the run. I knew that I was running well when at mile 9ish Matt informed me that the only person running faster than me was Andy Potts. I ended up winning the amateur race by a few minutes and was 16th overall. I was super happy with the race and excited to return the favor the next day and cheer for the UM folks in the Olympic distance race.

After racing so many times I sometimes forgot what it is like to have the full on pre race jitters. Adam and I were entertained watching the newbies scramble in the dark to get there race equipment in order. I ran through a few quick bike mechanic lessons with the crew and adjusted about half of their brakes so that they did not continue to rub. After Adam and I tucked all of the kids into bed we reminisced about how clueless our crew was when we got into triathlon. Race morning included some nutritional advice for the team, including convincing one individual that it is actually a good idea to drink some water while racing. Most of the team was off to the races and Adam and I noticed one panicked newbie. The person had locked their bike to a tree and could not find the key. We pulled out a leatherman and attempted to saw through the lock. It was not doing much to the lock so the search was on for the key. This occurred about 45 minutes out from the race start so the pressure was on. We found the key and the last newbie was off to the races. Michael, Adam, and I strategically placed ourselves on the infamous hill. We cheered on the team and Matty Ice, and Jen were looking strong. We greeted them as they came back into the park and Matt had worked his way up to 3rd in the collegiate race and Jen was in 1st with a 4 minute lead. The rest of the crew was scattered but looked good. We rode the run course backwards to make sure that Matt was running hard, and Jen had not passed out. Matty was in the pain cave but looked strong and held onto 3rd place. Jen had not passed out and was looking like a real runner. She won the collegiate race and the overall for the Olympic race. The team finished well and many of them completed their first Olympic distance race. UM made the podium in the collegiate competition with a 3rd place finish.

Overall it was a great success. Everyone was excited about racing and wanted to throw down some Montana domination throughout the country. See everyone at the races and good luck!

Brendan Halpin

Monday, May 11, 2009

Belt Omnium - GAS doubles up

John Juras and his crew did a great job putting on the 2009 Belt Omnium. Subway sandwiches and beer were included in the $30 entry fee. $30 for two races, beer, $5 foot long, giant cookies, and great organization. Thank you John.

The time trial course was flat. Just before the turnaround there was a 300 foot rise that was very typical of any central/eastern Montana roller. It was tail wind on the way out and head wind on the way back. Aero equipment was key. Highlights of the Time Trial:

*TAMERA: T laid down a 23:5ish. Since folks don't know the significance of that time I'll put in perspective. I don't know the exact times but she would have placed 5th or 6th in the men's cat 3's.

*RIDE CLEAN DAN: The AZ transplant didn't disappoint in his Montana debut. He slayed the time trial. He won and I think put a minute into second.

The road race course was much hillier then I expected. On the drive in Nacho Tack kept showing me these hills that were part of the course. I tried to store each climb in my head. I decided that there were 3 on the way out and 2 on the way in. The 1,2,3 race started off slow. Riders were taking off clothes and chatting. On the first out and back, the cat 4 group was getting close to catching us. Jeff Twohig and a rider from GNC formed the first break of the day. They held 30 seconds for 10 or so miles.

Climb #1: This was the slowest climb of the day. Frykman led into it. I could see the top the whole time and wasn't super worried about anything getting away. I was breathing hard, but still felt like everyone was warming up.

Climb #2: Groupo compacto. Frank lit up the climb with a couple hard accelerations towards the middle. My legs were stinging bad. I remember looking at Twohig and thinking...he was just on a breakaway and seems to be climbing fine...I'm hurting...this could be long day.

In between climb #2 and #3 there was long flat stretch. Into the flat crosswind section I tried to stay up front because it was guttered for 5-8 miles. It was better to be on the front then in the back. GAS, had the same strategy as Curry and Brian worked with Josh and I.

Climb #3: Nacho Tack led into the climb. I was really worried about attacks so I didn't come around him, in fear that I'd go to quickly into the red. I was happy that folks didn't start moving around Josh until the last 1/3. I suffered hard on the last 1/3 of the climb and was really excited to get over the top. Freightrain led the descent.

This was the first time I started to notice the group was dwindling. None of the strongmen had showed any signs of weakness leading into climb #4.

Climb #4: Frykman stormed up the first pitch like he was Jens Voigt leading Sastre in the Tour last year. Halfway up Marshall took over and set a tempo that was right at my limit. 20 more seconds at that pace, or a smidge faster and I would have been off that back. I'm sure you've been in that position where your climbing cross-eyed and your just praying that no one else attacks.

Back onto the flat the pace slowed. I was very happy to be in the group (Curry, Brad, Frykman, Herzig, Frank, Dan, Trek V, Tack, Willy, Marshall). Tack attacked hard two times in a row. I knew there would be a counter from someone as soon as Josh was caught. With the group that was was sure to be someone fast. Sure enough Brad launched and I jumped on his wheel. Oh crap....last time I was in a break with Brad was very short lived. Last year's Bearmouth race, Brad completely road me off his wheel. So, I decided to sit in while we gained an advantage over the group, in fear that I'd completely blow up and fall out of all the groups on the road. After I relaxed a bit....I realized Brad was creating a big gap. Without GAS or Tack chasing, there wasn't enough cohesion to bring Brad back. A bunch of thoughts kept creeping into my head. I could still see the group over the horizon and figured that with Scott, Dan, and Marshall still there....the pace up the last climb would be super fast. I didn't like our chances. So, I continued to sit in a try and save something for the last climb. My goal at this point was to try and stay away as long as possible to keep Tack off the front.

Climb #5: My legs start cramping. Brad starts groaning.....I think to myself yes he's getting tired. Brad speaks, "Shaun, I don't think I can take you to the finish line." Sounds good to me, we'll get caught and my job will be done. I knew that Brad was tough, but I'd never experienced it with him on the road.. Holy crap this guy is ridiculous. I sat on his wheel for 10 miles and now he's going to drop me?!!? The answer is yes. The gap slowly opened. I tried to calm down but I could see Herzig lighting the road on fire behind me. I thought about trail. I thought about my Motebacane 29er. I thought about the week before trying to chase Dale down on Snowbowl Overlook. I shifted down into my 39x18 and turned the gear over like my single speed. I got to the top just as Herzig caught me. He had Dan, Marshall, Tack, and Curry with him. Brad was gone. Josh said something to me and I thought he was mad (that's how tired I was...Tack never gets mad). What he actually said was just sit in. For a mile or two I was really happy. Then I realized the goal was to win the F-ing race. Tack still had a shot and Brad was still up the road. I attempted some weak pulls, but Brad had timed it to perfection. Kudos to Nails. Tack won the sprint for second.

For a better race report read Melanie Melendrez's report about racing for the first time.