Monday, August 31, 2009

Black Bear Race Report

Another race in the books. This week Team Rowman traveled to our state capital, Charleston, WV for the 23rd (Yes, 23rd) annual Black Bear 40K. I was looking forward to this race for awhile cause the course suits my riding abilities. The course takes racers up and down and around Kanawha State Forest. The KSF has some of the best riding in the state, next to our own Coopers of course. There are lots of steep technical descents that include large imbeded rocks, roots and tight switch backs. There's a lot of ups to go along with the downs but most is fire road style with only mild to moderate grades. However, it does boast the meanest hike-a-bike ever.

As stoked as I was about the Black Bear the Rowands were that much not stoked. They must have been ravaged by the Bear before. But, in true RowMan style they manned up and made the race. It was another 11am start so we had to role out of Motown at the crack ass of dawn. Hell, it was still dark until we got 30-45 min. down 79. We wanted to make sure we got there earlier than last week to get in some more warm up time.

The Sport Utility Neon was like the 4th car in the lot at KSF. Hell yeah, first ones to register. These guys must be hungry to for some race'n. So we did our thing and before long it was go time. Not a real big showing for the expert/SS class. Mostly just the usuals like Steve H., Robbie L., Don P., Gannar, Chris M., LB, Adam S..

The start sent us directly across a stream crossing and then up a steady long fire road climb. I think I got the worst start ever. I was pretty much DFL starting up the climb. I couldn't even see the lead group. But I didn't panic and just put my head down and tried to tap out a good pace. I was able to make up some ground and before long I was just behind Jeremy and Steve who were up with the lead group. I was in the company of Adam S., Don P., and Brad S. By the time I got to the top of the climb the leaders were out of site. Once on top we hit some nice twisty single track. Robbie and his bitch'n bike skills bridged up to me on the down hill section and for the second week in a row I wiped out with Robbie breathing down my neck and then got passed by Adam S.. Just a quick front wheel wash out from riding the brakes too hard. I was back up and going pretty quick with no damage done.

I found myself riding the brakes a lot on the descents. I don't know if it was the pitch or the speed on technical, unfamiliar trails. I had some uncomfortable moments but was able to clean the rest of the descents. It was a total 180 from ACE where I was feeling fast and confident on the descents. The trails were super dry and loose so, maybe that was the difference.

For most of the race I kept yo-yo'ing back and forth with Robbie till he put on a hard push up one of the final road climbs and got by Adam S. I got close to Adam a couple of times but he would pull away every time we hit the woods. I think he might know the trails a bit better than myself.

About 2hrs in I started to fall apart a little and started to think back to last week when I blew it at the end. I didn't want that to happen again. I was able to keep it together and avoid the cramps. Probably do to the great weather. Cool and low humidity. I made it to the long 200 yd., strait up hike-a-bike. By the top my calves were on fire from pushing up hill. I could hear someone below me up the hike'r so I jumped on and tried to push it as much as I could without going over the edge. I made it to the finish without anyone catching up. I came in 6th, my best finish of the season. I grabbed a good chunk of points but still have a good gap to close on Donny P. Only two more to go.

Steve H. got the win for the day and he was unreachable on his home course. No wonder the dude is so fast. Riding the KSF will make ya fast and tough. Jeremy had another showdown with the wily Gunnar. Coming down the home stretch Jeremy was in the lead and Gannar tossed a stick in his derailleur to try and slow him down. But Jeremy's drive to win was greater than his concern for his high dollar gear. Jeremy came in only seconds in front of the ol' pirate to claim 2nd place. He said he tried to drop the Gunny a couple times but he was able to swashbuckle his was back.

Steve had a solid day but actually admitted to doing too much climbing which I didn't think would ever happen to him. Sounds like he was nailing the descents this week. He came in 4th for the day though he was passed by Robbie in the last stretch. Yes thats right, he was caught by a SS on flat ground. I've got two words for ya dude "Big Ring". Good finish anyway.

Robbie got another win in the SS class. That makes 6 for 6 on the SS. Nice work man and thanks for the encouragement. You are a true sportsman.

Next week is an off race week. However, the Chapman's are moving into their new digs so come on down if you like to move heavy stuff cause I know I don't. Next stop for Team RowMan will be the Bob Evans and then the championship race on our home turf (Coopers). Sure to be a good time. Last WVMBA of the year so, leave it all out on the trail.

See ya at the races,

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm Back

I'm finally back on the the race train after a month hiatus and it's good to be back together with my Team Rowman bros. The team headed down to conquer the ACE Bike Fest in Oak Hill, WV. It was an early 11am start so we had to role out of bed stupid early to make the 2.5 hr drive. But I was pumped to be racing my bike again so I didn't mind. I've been preoccupied the last few weeks going on vacation and working on my new house. My hours on the bike took a dive along with my fitness but I've been working on bring it back up for the past couple weeks. I didn't have high hopes for myself at ACE but I went along for the fun and fastness and to hang out with some cool cats.

We didn't get to ACE till a little before 10am so there wasn't much time to get registered, geared up and warmed up. The first thing we noticed when we got there was the standing water on the ground. Looked like we were going to contend with some muddy, wet trails for the first time in awhile. I was hoping I remembered how to handle the bike on slippery trails.

After registration we got base camp set up and quickly got ready to race. I only got about a 10 minute warm up before the racers meeting. Not optimal for myself, I usually need at least 30 min. to warm up the diesel. The start of the race took us out a flat gravel road around the camp ground and then dropped into the woods. A hairpin turn sent us back the way we came alone the contour of the ridge on a rolly trail. The start seemed to be almost in slow motion. Not like the typical WVMBA start which is usually red line out of the box. But I was cool with it, a little more warm up time. I found Steve's wheel to follow and he was on Robbie's wheel. There was a small gap between us and the lead group with Jeremy, Gunnar, Steve H. and Chris ?. After a small climb we popped out on a gravel road. I grabbed the big ring and closed the gap Steve and Robbie got on me and we stayed together on the road and back onto the trails. The lead group was out of sight by the time we got back on the trails. Those guys were smoking it!

It was cool riding with Steve and Robbie all alone. Felt like a Thursday Nightr. I was feeling good and having a blast on the twisty and rollie trails. We past Gunnar changing a flat at the bottom of a rocky decent. After a short rocky technical section we were back on a gravel road. I grabbed the big ring again. Worked with Robbie for a bit but he couldn't keep pace on one gear. Steve was close behind till we got to the premier decent on the course, Rigamortis. The SuperFly was feeling good so I let go of the brakes and let her fly on the decent. There were some steep, loose rocky sections that made it real interesting. At the bottom there was no sign of my teammate. I was hoping he didn't plummet into the canyon.

Next was some more rollie fire road and then the big climb of the course. Midway up the climb I saw Steve and Robbie closing in. I was glad to see they were still alive and in one piece. On a single track section those 2 were breathing down my neck then the next thing I knew I was falling over the hillside. I don't know what the hell happened. I don't know if it was the oxygen dept I was in or all the paint I've been huffing lately but I pretty much just fell over the side. That's were my race started to go down hill. I went from 4th to 7th in a matter of minutes. I dragged my carcass up the steep, mucky, rutted out climb. At the top there was more of bread and butter though, fast and rollie. Big ring time! I road the next lap and half with Montana M. till the climb came back around. I could feel my legs starting to cramp up so I backed off a bit and tried to spin a bit more. By the time I made it up the climb I was starting to fade fast but only had a few miles to go. But then the cramps hit me hard, felt like my muscles were going to tare in two a couple times. I had to jump off and push the second to last climb. Then Donald P. came around the turn. He was encouraging me to ride but all I could do was hike to the top. He passed me just at the top. I mounted up and kept the gap close hoping to spin out the cramps and sprint it out on the final climb. But when the last kick came I stood up to go then my legs seized up hard and let out a scream of pain. Ouchy! On go. I wasn't happy about getting passed at the last minute but all and all it was a good day. Eighth was better then I expected after my hiatus.

The rest of the team had a great showing. Jeremy got the win after an epic battle with Steve H. and Chris. The three were together most of the race till Steve and J. were able to put Chris in the hurt locker. J. got a 30 sec. gap on Steve for the win. He said it was the hardest battle of the year with lots of going hard and fast. Nice work kid, back on top. Steve came it a solid 4th place. Wish I could have stayed with ya mate. Maybe next time. Good job Stephen!

Only 3 more races left in the WVMBA series. It's been a good season thus far with Team RowMan+ members racking up some real solid finishes. Looks like J. might have the series wrapped up but don't look for him to fade anytime soon. He's still hungry for more wins. Steve's looking to climb up the ranks before the end. I'm hoping to pull together some more fitness and get a couple good results. Maybe we will see a Nate comeback. Tim is back to school but might come out to finish out the season. No coach though, he's in the deep south, miss ya little buddy.

Come out and get your racing in while you can and have fun with Team RowMan.

See ya at the races,

If anyone out there would be interested in sponsoring the fastest team in the state next year send me an e-mail and I will hook you up with our team resume.

Pics. and results coming soon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Yarrrrrrrrrrrr, This past weekend was the Dirt Derby in Barboursville. Was a pretty long drive , but we made it. No Chappy for us this time around. The new Plus, Tim drove us down. Things where hot as soon as we got there. Even for a 11:00 start, the sun was blazing.

The race started a bit after 11. We rolled out the park on the hardball. About two miles later we popped into the woods. Jesse Stevens was setting a good pace followed by J and myself. We quickly pulled away from the pack. I love that river trail. OH SO FAST.

J, just looking too fast.

We stayed together for about the first lap and well, the heat and the pace started to get to me. I slowly lost contact with J and Jesse.

Jesse went on to win and J got 2nd. As for myself I got 3rd. Our powerhouse Plus got 6th in his class. Good job Tim.

The Full TEAM ROWMAN will be racing the ACE this coming weekend and we hope to see ya there.

HEHEHE, Tim and his go fast treats.

DAMN, he must be sponsored.

Expert podium, hot dang.