Monday, September 21, 2009

Brought home the Title

Well that's it race fans.........the 2009 WVMBA season is in the books. It was a season full of excitement. Just like the typical WVMBA race it was full of lots of ups and downs. But all in all in was a real successful season for us here at Team Rowman+.

The series championship took place yesterday at Coopers Rock's on a beautiful, late summer, Sunday afternoon. There were lots of people in attendance and lots of fast guys showed up for the series finally. Jeremy was coming into the race with a four point lead over Steve H. on the overall spot. The wily ol Gunnar, who just happened to be the race directer and layed out the course, was within striking distance as well. So even though J would never admit it, I think there might have been some butterflies going into this one.

Myself, I wasn't feeling it at all. I think all the long work hours, home improvements and the long season finally caught up with me, cause I was dead dog tired. But I wanted to finish out and hopefully celebrate my teammates success. The start the the race was a long road pull up from the furnace parking lot. The pace was fairly hot but not enough to break up the elite field. I was able to hang on to the tail end though I was hurting purty good. At the top of the last roller before we hit the trail I saw Jeremy pull off and reach for the tool kit. I thought "Oh shit, not what we need". I tried to offer assistance but he was way to focused on the problem to respond. So, I continued on. Turns out it was a loose pedal that plagued him throughout the race.

I was off the road and hit the trail and made it to Scott's Run Trail a bit off the leaders but I figured I could make up some ground on the decent. Especially on the HiFi. However, dropping down the first decent I quickly caught up with some single speeders and didn't have the confidence or motivation to pass. So I settled in and tried to conserve some energy for the long pull out of Scott's Run. Before the turn up I heard someone coming up on me fast and I knew that it could only be one person crushing it that hard. It was big J. He was on the chase so I quickly pulled off so he could get by easily and the guys in front of me graciously gave way too.

For anyone who hasn't experienced the climb on Scott's run let me fill you in. It's like a consistent up hill rock garden with loose baby heads and a couple technical rock gardens thrown in for good measure. As I made the turn to head up I could see the leaders just ahead which lifted my spirits a bit. I could see Stephen was off to a good start and Jeremy was just ahead doing some hard work. The HiFi made short work of the climb, eating up the bumps making it feel like a just any other climb. But I could feel something wasn't right on the front end. The rough decent had knocked my headset loose and it felt real floppy. So I had to stop on the false flat to correct the problem. In the process I was passed by quite a few. That good feeling I had just minutes before was quickly fleeting. Got it tightened down and proceeded up the hill. My closest competitor this season, Don P. was just in front of me so I set my sights on him and tried to keep a sustainable pace.

The race continued on par through the Nature Loop, onto Roadside, Intermediate Loop (which was a surprise) to the reservoir and down Lebore. I was able to put a gap on Don and caught up with Montana M. and Benji. At this point I calculated that I was in about 8th or 9th place overall. Followed Montana down Ridge Trail, probably should have passed him but I figured he'd just catch me on the climb. To my surprise we took a left at the bottom onto Mt. Chateau which goes further down and has a super technical section on the climb back up. On the climb I could feel myself quickly starting to unravel. I hadn't kept up with my fuel intake and was starting to suffer. By the time I made it to the Rattlesnake climb I was in a world of hurt. BONK! I had to stop and suck down a goo and down some Cytomax which caused me to get passed again by quite a few. The rest of my race was just survival. I was quite pissed when I got to the bottom of Ridge Trail again and had to take another turn down Mt. Chateau. I finally finished in 2h 3min which was better than my time last year when the race was much shorter. Improvement! I was glad for it to be over and was hurt'n purty bad.

I was happy to hear the rest of the team faired well. Jeremy was able to overcome his petal woes and got a third place locking down the series title. Stephen had a good day on his new hottness and got a 5th place finish. Mr. T had a good time and got a top 10 result. Way to go team!

We hung around for the awards. Along with Jeremy collecting the title Steve came it a very respectable 4th overall for the season. Ol Chappy got 8th for the second season in a row. A bit disappointing, I was aiming a little higher but I had a good time anyway. We had some much needed celebration afterwards at Team RowMans favorite watering hole, the Fish Bowl. We consumed some tasty chicken wings and many bowls of beer. We were joined by another Champion, Robbie L. who brought the SS title to Morgantown. Nice work man, we like you even though you ride for the Cracker-dale team ;o)

There was a bit of disappointment for the day though. The boys got hosed at the series awards. There were no prizes awarded for the overall series other than a metal. Not even a bag of swag or a bottle of Hammer Gel. One would think there would be some kind of prize for sticking it out all season, paying all the entry fees, and busting your ass to make the races competitive. Not that we do it for the prizes but it would be nice to get just a little something in return. Something to keep us coming back and doing our best. I see all those sponsors logo's displayed on the web site, could they not toss in a couple of pieces of swag for the series winners? I think the WVMBA organization has some decisions to make over the off season. I think there is a lot of potential there and just in my short time in the series I've seen great strides in the right direction. Just going to throw it out there, J.R. would never let the series winners leave practically empty handed.

And while I'm at it, I have one more gripe to get off my chest. There's a solid cross schedule now to carry on after the XC season but why the hell are all the races on Saturdays. Not like there are other races on contend with on Sunday. Maybe some don't realize a lot of people that do these races don't work Monday-Friday. How many shop guys do you know that race and won't be able to attend do to work? I know of two of this team. Just saying a Sunday race may have a better attendance. You won't see any RowManians at the CX races cause we all work on Saturday's.

That's enough bitch'n..........for now. Let's focus on the positive. Great season, lots of fun, good time had by us at Team RowMan+. I think things can only get better next season. More experience, more training and more desire will carry us into seasons ahead. Expect some changes in the next season. Maybe some new acquisitions, new bikes and hopefully some more sponsorship.

What now? Relax, ride for the fun of it, get fat or in my case fatter. Oh, and the annual fall trip to Slatyfork on the duelies. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Maybe some more season wrap-up to come but that's all for now except for a big thank you to our sponsor, Cox Well Service for their support. They made those long trips down south possible.

See ya at the bars,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

9.9SSL Top Fuel

Well, here it is. My new and inproved race bike. Since Trek did away with the 69er concept for 2010 I had to rub my chin and decide what I wanted to go with for next year. This is what I decided upon. The Trek 9.9SSL Top Fuel. She is real pretty.

Got a handfull of rides on it and I must say it is the stiffest mountain bike I have ridden in awhile. When I say stiff it isn't a bad thing. The lateral direction is what I be talking about. With the BB90 clear up to the integrated headset. This thing doesn't flex.

The ABP pivot works amazing, keeping the travel nice and supple. With the Rock Shox Sid taming anything you can toss at it up front.

The total package as you see it in the pictures tips the scales at a bit over 23lbs. 23.3 to be exact. That is lighter then my hardtail 69er.

This weekend will be the big test. I will be racing it at Coopers come Sunday along with the rest of Team Rowman. Enjoy the pictures and hope to see ya at the race .

Your favorite Rowmania

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ready to Rock?

With the race season quickly coming to a close Team RowMan planned on heading over to Ohio for the Bob Evans race but long work hours and lack of motivation to make the long trek kept us close to home. So we decided to go up to Coopers Rock to prep for the WVMBA Series Championship next weekend. The brothers and I got up there in the early afternoon and the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Great day to be on the bike. We met up with Sean Z. at the day lot and got ready to scout the race course.

J and I were on the SuperFly's and Steve brought along his newest ride which just could be the hottest bike around. I won't give away the surprise but it is Top Shelf.

We started out on everyone's favorite trail, Scott's Run and then hit the Nature loop then to the Right away Trail. Sean turned us onto a new trail that bypasses the hike-a-bike on the Right away Trail, nice improvement. Then it was back up on top and out Ridge Tail.

It's been awhile since I've road a hardtail at Coopers and I quickly remembered why. So now I'm considering pulling the trigger on the HiFi for the first time in a race. I think the bombing ability will be a nice advantage and hopefully the extra weight won't kill me on the climbs. Which there is quite a bit of hard steep sections to contend with. I'm still not 100% sold on the idea but the HiFi does plow through the rough stuff and climbs well. So, why not?

Team RowMan also hit up the Wedesnday Night'r this past week. First time this year we were all three in attendance. The ride was a bit subdued cause Adam A. didn't make it and Gunnar and Betsy split off early. It was a large group but it seemed like no one really wanted to put the hammer down. We split from the group at Mt. Morris when Jeremy stayed on the gas after the state line sprint and only a few others bridged up. Re-grouped after the turn around and stayed together back to town. Ended up being a good hard ride and I was feeling the burn afterwards.

One more race to go in the XC season. Then it's time for some sweet fall mountain bike rides and the annual trip to Slatyfork for singletrack euphoria.

Looks like Jeremy has the series championship wrapped up as long as the wheels don't fall off at Coopers. And Steve will grab a 4th place overall. Nice work fellers.

Keep an eye out for a report on Steve's new ride.

See ya at the races,