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  1. #1
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    Race Report - Chalk Creek; A view from the back

    [size=2]In the past I've read Glen's race reports and have enjoyed them. I figured I'd give it a go just to offer a different perspective. The Chalk Creek Stampede was to be my first MSC race and I was worried about finishing DFL. I have four races under my belt and all of them were four years ago in the Winter Park Race Series. I raced beginner there and finished a respectable 12th in the series points. I had missed one of the races so a few more points and I would have been in the top ten. With those four races under my belt I figured that I was beyond racing beginner, which is where my concern about DFL was born. As Glen points out, the MSC are some of the most competitive races to be found.

    I rolled into town on Friday afternoon. The drive in from Denver showed patchy weather with a mix of sun, rain and snow along the way. When we arrived into the Arkansas Valley the clouds were out and it was raining/snowing. I was really apprehensive about not being able to pre-ride the course. I had a friend with me that also rides and we waited for the weather to clear. It finally did but it remained cold and cloudy. We had rented a cabin in Nathrop and rode over to the registration area to pick up my race packet. Shortly thereafter we were off to give this thing a go.

    The course starts out easy enough. It wraps around to the east of the ridge on the ranch. The surface here is sand/packed sand and holds up well in wet weather. There was one deep sand spot that forced you to pay close attention. It eventually wraps back on itself after starting the climb up. I determined that I should remain in my middle chain ring all the way up. There's a nasty loose and steep climb that I cleaned on my pre-ride and used the excuse of waiting on my slower friend to catch my breath. Won't be doing that during the race. Once on top the singletrack gets narrow and curvy. There are a couple of short downhill sections before making your way west along the infamous fence line. Not fun. The good news is that you make an about face for some slightly downhill and fast singletrack through the scrub. There is one section where if you crouch down reeeealllly low you can ride under a tree. The alternative is a sharp s-curve around it.

    Once off the ridge the trail steepens downward with a loose and sandy downhill section followed by some whoop-de-dos. Eventually the trail straightens out again only to twist again through some cottonwoods along the creek. There are three opportunities along the creek to lose yourself over some logs. The homestretch is one last quick climb followed by a big chain ring race to the finish.
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    Last edited by Bulldozer; 05-09-2005 at 02:06 PM.

  2. #2
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    Continued:

    Race day started out with a quick snowstorm that blew in off of Mt. Princeton. All thoughts of racing beginner flew out the window as they started at 8am. I was in my nice and cozy cabin eating a great breakfast with my friends and family. I farted around long enough to realize I didn’t have time to make some of the preparations that I should have. I had just enough time to lube my chain and pump up my rear shock.

    Outside the conditions were windy and cool but much improved, I’m sure, over the weather at the start of the beginner race. I made my way over to the start area to find it pretty much empty so I cruised up and down the frontage road with the other racers. The race organizers had us staged 15 minutes before we were supposed to start. With the weather the way it was, all of us cooled down before we started. I was wearing tights, bike shorts, long sleeved jersey and a jacket. My biggest concern was the wind along the fence line. I weighed my choices and decided to stick with the jacket during the race (enter foreshadowing here).

    There was a short parade lap and shortly after the gun I was already at the back of the pack. The 30-34 and 35-39 age groups were started together, which created a huge group of racers and confusion on the course as to who you were really racing against. As with everyone, I started out way too fast. The loose climb was already backed up with hikers by the time I got there so I joined them. I’m not sure the effort to climb that hill was worth it in the long run for me. On the other hand, I think the hill got longer on each lap. I swear.

    At the top of the climb I was almost redlined so I hung behind some other guys until I settled down. Once I did, I passed a few before the death march along the fence. This has got to be the worst stretch of any racecourse, ever. It’s an almost imperceptible uphill slog into a nasty headwind for over 10 minutes. I’ve been on 5-mile climbs at altitude that I liked more than this. I decided to conserve some energy here and drafted behind some bigger guys. Like an idiot I decided to pass them only to be out there on my own. I was able to stay ahead of them to the turn.

  3. #3
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    Continued:

    Remember that foreshadowing? This is where the race got really interesting for me. After the turn I’m in my big chain ring making up ground on the guy in front of me. Two-thirds of the way along the ridge I hear a guy beside me. He calls out “Right!” and starts to pass me off the trail. For some inexplicable reason, he must have thought he was already past me because before his back tire even clears my crank he moves back over to the left and runs right into me. Uh-oh. This isn’t going to be good since we were movin’ pretty fast. I try to hold my line as best I can only to have my front end wobble and off I go. The guy says something sounding like “Uh-oh” on my way down. I full on superman myself off the trail into some cactus. My helmet visor blows off, my sunglasses come off and I’m lying in a whole bunch of the prickly things. At this point I’m really pissed. I understand wiping out is a part of racing but this shouldn’t have happened. The guy didn’t do it on purpose but it was his fault. I jump up to hear him yell back “You okay?” I yell “Fawker!!!” and his response was “You okay?” Am I okay? Yes. Do I hurt? Yes.

    I hop back onto my bike pissed off hoping to catch up to the guy. What would I do if I caught him? Nothing but yell at him for being a dumbass and listen to his whiney-ass excuse as to what happened. I start to assess the damage while riding. The obvious are a left glove full of cactus quills, a lot of dirt in my eye and some more cacti poking me in the chest. I instantly start to decide if I should continue the race. There’s some pain but not too much to quit.

    The rest of the race was pretty boring after the first half a lap. The dirt in my eye was causing the most problems followed by a quill stuck in my wrist under my glove and another stuck in my waistline. I thought about removing the glove only to think about what that would mean if I were to wipe out again. The glove stayed on. I was happy to be wearing as much as I was. The tights and jacket saved my race.

    On the last homestretch of my last lap I was catching up to the guy who had been just out of my reach for the second and third laps. I was quietly trying to catch him only to have him hear me coming about an eighth of a mile from the finish. His lead was enough to keep me behind him in a full-out big chain ring sprint to the line. I gotta think if the finish were a straight line I might have caught him.

  4. #4
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    Last one, I swear:

    I had my friends grab my gear and my wife got me some food. I made my way over to first aid where they spent a few minutes picking out cactus quills from my flesh. Not fun. They removed most of them but I had to spend another half hour back at the cabin taking more out. I spent another half hour last night in the tub extracting two more out of my chest – one of which was a quarter inch long and fully submerged.

    I checked my results this morning to find out that I didn’t finish in DFL. I was 21 out of 25 in my group. I’ll take it. I couldn’t help but check the beginner times to discover that my two-lap time would have put me close to first place there. Oh well. Not bad for a thirty-something with a wife, 2 year-old daughter and only enough time to put in 5 hours a week in riding time.

    I won’t be at the next two MSC races but hope to make one or two of the last five that are all in Colorado. On my pre-rides I’ll be sure to look for cactus…

  5. #5
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    Hey Dozer,
    are you 30-34 or 35-39. I finished one place behind you, all be it my crash was on the right turn right after the downhill. Way to hang in there!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldozer
    Last one, I swear:

    I had my friends grab my gear and my wife got me some food. I made my way over to first aid where they spent a few minutes picking out cactus quills from my flesh. Not fun. They removed most of them but I had to spend another half hour back at the cabin taking more out. I spent another half hour last night in the tub extracting two more out of my chest – one of which was a quarter inch long and fully submerged.

    I checked my results this morning to find out that I didn’t finish in DFL. I was 21 out of 25 in my group. I’ll take it. I couldn’t help but check the beginner times to discover that my two-lap time would have put me close to first place there. Oh well. Not bad for a thirty-something with a wife, 2 year-old daughter and only enough time to put in 5 hours a week in riding time.

    I won’t be at the next two MSC races but hope to make one or two of the last five that are all in Colorado. On my pre-rides I’ll be sure to look for cactus…
    "You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals."
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  6. #6
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    Good work Dozer! That wind only got worse as the day wore on. You know you were racing in what would normally be an expert ability group in other parts of the country, right? The whole MSC 30-39 groups are sick fast. The transition to expert last year, whil humiliating at times, and brutal at others, wasn't as bad as it could have been.

    Great write up, fun seeing some other perspectives! And I feel bad you got stuck in the march up the hill - that's where a big part of this race is decided, and why I was babbling about hole-shots and such.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by OdaNelli
    Hey Dozer,
    are you 30-34 or 35-39. I finished one place behind you, all be it my crash was on the right turn right after the downhill. Way to hang in there!
    I was in 30-34. Adding the two groups together made for one big friggen group out there.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenzx
    Good work Dozer! That wind only got worse as the day wore on. You know you were racing in what would normally be an expert ability group in other parts of the country, right? The whole MSC 30-39 groups are sick fast. The transition to expert last year, whil humiliating at times, and brutal at others, wasn't as bad as it could have been.


    Great write up, fun seeing some other perspectives! And I feel bad you got stuck in the march up the hill - that's where a big part of this race is decided, and why I was babbling about hole-shots and such.
    Now if I only lived in another part of the country....

    I hope to do better as the year progresses. I've got my eye on a race in Winter Park on 6/18 that involves over 1,100ft of climbing per lap. I think sport division will do two of those laps. Of course, that means that much downhill!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldozer
    I was in 30-34. Adding the two groups together made for one big friggen group out there.
    Hey Dozer, we were in the same class. You were .2:00.05 faster. Nice job. I don't remembber seeing your crash, but I do remember seeing a guy on the side of the trail. You probally passed me during my cramp out. Fun stuff huh? I was also planning on doing that WP race, so I'll c ya there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OdaNelli
    Hey Dozer, we were in the same class. You were .2:00.05 faster. Nice job. I don't remembber seeing your crash, but I do remember seeing a guy on the side of the trail. You probally passed me during my cramp out. Fun stuff huh? I was also planning on doing that WP race, so I'll c ya there.
    -Ocky
    That was probably me. Just off the side of the trail with nothing technical in sight that would explain why I was over there. Yep. That was me.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldozer
    Now if I only lived in another part of the country....

    I hope to do better as the year progresses. I've got my eye on a race in Winter Park on 6/18 that involves over 1,100ft of climbing per lap. I think sport division will do two of those laps. Of course, that means that much downhill!
    LOL, if you lived in another part of the country, it wouldn't be as fun!

    It's early in the season - pacing is a huge part of training. Last year I hit an all-time low mid-year (Ocky saw the results of it) at Snowmass (MSC race) caused by substantial over-training. Be patient and consistent, and sometimes a little lucky - and you'll get a lot stronger! Of course, everyone else is out for the same thing, but once on a better schedule late last year, I felt strong as ever, and lot's of other folks were already losing strength/motivation. Nothing feels better in racing than showing up at the start rested, ready to roll, and confident. I hear the WP series is awesome!
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by OdaNelli
    Hey Dozer, we were in the same class. You were .2:00.05 faster. Nice job. I don't remembber seeing your crash, but I do remember seeing a guy on the side of the trail. You probally passed me during my cramp out. Fun stuff huh? I was also planning on doing that WP race, so I'll c ya there.
    -Ocky
    What jersey/shorts were you wearing?

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    You know you were racing in what would normally be an expert ability group in other parts of the country, right?

    Sounds like you had a great race and the msc is no doubt one of the premiere race series but expert class is also demanding outside of the mountain states.
    For example a local ohio racer finished 14th overall at the leadville in 2004 but rarely finishes top 5 at local races. In addition, a friend semi pro that races the msc raced in ohio and went home with a dnf.
    Point is anywhere you race you better be ready to give it all you got and every area of the country has it's own unique challenges.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssrado
    You know you were racing in what would normally be an expert ability group in other parts of the country, right?

    Sounds like you had a great race and the msc is no doubt one of the premiere race series but expert class is also demanding outside of the mountain states.
    For example a local ohio racer finished 14th overall at the leadville in 2004 but rarely finishes top 5 at local races. In addition, a friend semi pro that races the msc raced in ohio and went home with a dnf.
    Point is anywhere you race you better be ready to give it all you got and every area of the country has it's own unique challenges.
    Ok Mr. 3 posts! Thanks..... No disrespect to other regions - far from it, just noting places like CO and CA seem to have both the culture of intense competition bred in, AND the big populations of outdoor nuts to boost racer participation, AND masses of trails at crazy, lung busting, high altitudes. It's a lot easier to get really strong when you can just ride on out the door to most of the trailheads in your area(s), no? Result? Amateur racing that will tear a lot of peoples legs' off! My group at the NORBA Championships last fall (Mammoth 30-34 expert) saw most of the top 10 finishers from the Colorado/California crews. The guy who won? Californian. Most of the top 10? MSC champs. Me? 15th, LOL.
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    glen, I figured you were all passion and no passin' so I checked your results. looks like you have both. My buddy that races msc has very similar times as you. If you see carver ask him what happened in ohio. Good luck this season..

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    Nice write-up, 'dozer...and welcome back to racing!

    Between your writeup and GlenZX's, my burden is relieved...I wouldn't want to bore the masses!

    I was sport 40-49, so we started a few minutes behind you guys. One of the guys that passed me went off the singletrack just to the right of me, and as soon as his shoulders were just barely ahead of mine, he swerved left back on to the singletrack, very nearly causing me to wreck. It was absolutely unnecessary and about as selfish a thing as you can do. Maybe it was the same guy who did it to you? Anyway, I called him quite a few names after he did it. If I could have kept up with him I would have kept calling him names! It really sucks that some schmoe made you crash like that...it's absolutely contrary to the spirit that's usually so prevalent in MTB races.

    Also there was one guy, maybe from your heat, who was stopped and was fixing what looked like his chain. He decided to work on his bike in the middle of the singletrack in a section where there were lots of big loose babyheads (adultheads?) if you went off the trail. This guy saw us coming but didn't get off the trail before a whole train of us had to brake hard. I called him a jackhole, too...and so did some of the others in our train. He hollered something back but I couldn't understand it.

    I'm normally cool as a cucumber, but in the heat of competition who knows what can happen...anyway the race was all good karma except for those two moments!
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