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  1. #1
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    French Creek Race Reports - Post Here

    I'll start. This was my worst race ever. Not to fault the weather, riders or the course, my bad race was primarily my making.

    I came to this race without expecting to set the world alight. I was in a new series on a rented bike. I'm still recovering from the flu, and then it decided to rain. Despite all that, I still thought I had enough fitness base to finish near the top of the Sport 19-29 Men.

    My first mistake was to misjudge the conditions. I had enough upper body protection, but I had open fingered gloves and no leg warmers. I banked on the fact that I'd be fine once the race started, and for the most part I was. A little more hand and leg protection would have made things just a bit more livable. The gloves made brake modulation and fumbling for Gus a little difficult but nothing serious.

    The conditions were a mess. There was a lot of snot on the climbs, especially at the start. I think we suffered for riding on trails that aren't usually bike-legal. These seemed to be the spots that suffered the worst for the wet. By the second lap the rain really started to pick up, and conditions seemed perfectly suited for getting lots of mud in my eyes. Despite the conditions, most of the downhills and rock gardens could still be taken near full speed. It just took a little more courage to do it ... well I guess you might need brakes as well, and I didn't have any by the end of lap two. The last downhills were pretty hairy.

    One big lesson I learned was that Gatorade bottles don't seal that well. I am pretty basic in regards to nutrition. At just about every race I've ever done I just buy Gatorade squeeze bottles at the store on the way to the race. Two Gatorade Endurance bottles and 3 Gus seemed like plenty of nutrition. Imagine my suprise when I reached down for my Gatorade 30 minutes into the race to find that the Yellow Gatorade bottles had both turned a nice tan shade. They were taking in mud. Maybe I didn't screw the lids down tight enough. Maybe they just don't seal well. Regardless, at that point forward I was just waiting for the bonk.

    In this race I hit the wall about a third into the second lap. Up to that point I was feeling OK about the race. I wasn't setting the world alight, but I knew I was near the front and in the running. I struggled with the uphill rock gardens in places. I'm used to a pretty plush bike, so the combination of the short travel rental and wet rock gardens made me feel as if my skills had dropped down a few notches. In truth they probably have dropped about a notch. I currently commute to Chicago for work, so I can only hit the trainer during the week. Being a weekend warrior is sour medicine for a rider who likes to get out 5 days a week. At least my Cardio was there .. but I haven't been able to train much in the last two weeks because of the flu. Despite this I felt strong until the bonk. At the very start of the race I got that chest tightness that is familiar to anyone who has done Max HR sessions after taking a week of of working out. That faded once the pace settled, and my legs felt great.

    When I did hit the wall, I hit hard. I'm sure most of you probably passed me pathetically spinning in the middle ring on the flats.

    I'm done with excuses for now and hyped for the next race. I look forward to the next race on my own bike, well rested, and hopefully in some sunny weather.

    Despite all of this. I still do like riding in the wet ... now the wet and cold ... not as much.

  2. #2
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    Dosen't sound like mutch fun. The weather is main reason i pulled out of the race i just dident want to race thare in the rain. I have riden in the wet at french creek a few times and i just couldent see racing there. Im still on target with my traning and im looking forward to the next race. I might eaven get a cat5 road race in befor then.

  3. #3
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    Reading this makes me think I made the right decision by not racing. I figured that riding in that much rain on trails that are on public land, and not normally open to mountain bikes, was not a good thing for trail advocacy. Its hard to create good will with other trail users when we do not show respect for the trails that they use.
    Jim Thorpe Trail Coalition
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  4. #4
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    4 out of my 6 friends who raced also had major brake issues. what is it about these conditions that will eat up a set of disc brake pads in under 10 miles??

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by lanceh
    4 out of my 6 friends who raced also had major brake issues. what is it about these conditions that will eat up a set of disc brake pads in under 10 miles??
    Silt and sand cakes up on the braking surfaces and acts like sandpaper on the pads. My front pads wore through to the metal.

  6. #6
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    sounds like my rigid singlespeed was the good bike for the race then.

    i must say i never ride in conditions that bad because they make a mess of the trails and i know better; but it was still fun. two wheel drifting around every corner not having to brake hardly at all on the descents cause there was so much crap rubbing your bike slowing it down...

    my strategy was just to ride until i could, and then walk. i got a pretty slow start due to my low gearing so i spent a good part of the first climb walking but still passing others. then i generally rode what i could, but walked a whole bunch pretty damn quickly. i just told myslef to never stop riding/running/walking whatever so long as i kept moving. and i did... i guess it worked OK for me. i can't believe i got 7th but i am still thinking this was because the fast kids stayed home.

    i was really in pain about halfway through the second lap; i kept telling myslef i'd eat a gu on the next flat section but never managed it. i think i could have used a little something to bring me home but i made it anyway.

    by the last downhill my rear brake lever which i had already maxed out the with the barrel adjuster last lap were hitting the grips. i had ZERO pads left when i got back and was actually scraping my cartridge insert on the rim. luckily my front pads still had a little left for the last downhill.

    AWESOME! i suffered, my bike suffered, would i do this every weekend? hell no! but i had a good time.

    one thing i really seemed to notice was people just needlessly suffering... i can't tell you how many geared riders i walked past just spinning like crazy up the hills. for racing i don't see the point in getting into your granny gear, i say, just walk; it's faster....

    i feel bad for the endurance guys.... what was it, 6 hours out there? it wasn't really raining too bad for us compared to what they got.

  7. #7
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    i had a good time, and did well. feel guilty about the trails though!

  8. #8
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    i don't think i know anyone who had breaks by the end. I was sitting near the finish and about 95% of the riders coming off the trails had no breaks. I know when i rode my beginner race, the last downhill before the road was just about the scariest thing i've ever done without breaks. Not to mention the fact that you couldn't tell the color of people's bikes there was so much mud caked on everyone.


    Overall i had a great race though. 10th in beg. out of 19. I was happy with that for my first race. The one thing that threw me off was the length. I thought i was about 1/2 done when i rounded a corner and head a cowbell and someone yelling that we were almost done. I had no perception of length. And even worse is that i've ridden french creek before. So i knew the last section of trail we were on. But i guess in the heat of the race your mind doesn't really think about much else but pedalling faster on the uphills and no dying on the downhills.

    Overall it was a good time. Just hope deleware in 3 weeks has a little better weather.

  9. #9
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    why did i bother typing????

    when this picture tells the whole story.


    wow.... i think i looked MUCH worse than i felt at that point.

  10. #10
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    awesome pic!

    I'm afraid that's what I'll look like after today's ride.

  11. #11
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    I forgot to add, I ended up 11th out of the 17 finishers (4 DNF's) in Sport Senior Men I. My time was 2:20:16. I honestly thought I slipped much further down the pole when I bonked, so given all that, I fell great about the next race.

  12. #12
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    ... and if we just ... its a yeti...... nope its only max-a-mill

    hey max, nice pic man but if you were floggin up that hill and I wasnt aware of you coming up behind me I may have got to you with a piece of 4x2
    dude, I was thinking of you guys on sunday getting trashed by the mud. It looks like an awsome time though.
    well done for competing under such grueling conditions.
    Climb like a goat, descend like a banshee

  13. #13
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    i hope everyone who raced does trail maintanence at the creek
    this race should have been postponed or canceled
    the trails are hammered
    good job guys

  14. #14
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    Cool-blue Rhythm

    Quote Originally Posted by mattie
    i hope everyone who raced does trail maintanence at the creek
    this race should have been postponed or canceled
    the trails are hammered
    good job guys
    The race promoter made an annoucement/plea before the start of each class, and I'm sure that any work that needs to be done will be done, in a timely and effective method. I also overheard a few park officials commenting on the great attendance, and wonderful attitudes displayed by the racers and racer promoters. Just for kicks Mattie, how many trail maintence hours have you done in the last 2 years ? It's been my experience, as a racer and race promoter that most park officials welcome and support mountain bike racing in the S.P. parks. It brings in "bodies" which at the end the fiscal year, shows the upper levels of the park service a return (so to speak) on investment. I think you need to give the promoters a few weeks time before you start bashing them. Obviously it's in their best interest to do the right thing.
    JMHO
    P.S. it was a great race but the age brackets sucked. damn I hate racing against guys 9 years younger than me...

  15. #15
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    Max, I don't even recognize you in that pic. If I cam across some guy looking like that in the woods i'd poo my shorts.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattie
    i hope everyone who raced does trail maintanence at the creek
    this race should have been postponed or canceled
    the trails are hammered
    good job guys
    Why are you such a crank? Wet races are a part of racing. I've never seen a mountain bike race cancelled because of rain. I've never seen a trail that didn't recover, and before you, I'd never seen anyone whine about other riders having fun on a rainy day. Trails are dirt. They are easy to fix. It just takes work. Get over yourself.

    It's like looking at the mess after a huge concert and saying, "Look at the mess all these kids made. They should have cancelled the concert. The grounds are destroyed. Great job guys."
    Last edited by Beldrueger; 04-24-2006 at 06:55 PM.

  17. #17
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    As my buddies will tell you, I am the first to speak up when the trails are wet.
    But this event was rain or shine.
    And I've done my hours of trail maint at FC, and I'll put in many more...
    The trails will recover.
    The park was happy after the race, the racers all had a blast and we will continue to work on the trails and build good will. (The park really needs to show that folks are coming out and using it, there are other political issues going on behind the scenes...)
    6 hours of slop. What a blast.

    Check out PATrailHands.org and help support the sport.

    HT
    "Whether it be an abrasion or a mental breakdown, everyone suffers in one way or another." ORAMM Disclaimer

  18. #18
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    The Enduro was fun

    If you like being completly caked in mud. I had a lot of fun though. I was sitting in 3rd until I washed out on the bridge at Scotts Run Lake. No major injuries, except my derailure hanger. The course was still pretty decent, although it was raining a bit. This was the first lap. Lap two I felt good, and the course was not that bad, now that 22 riders had been over it. The beginners came in and things got fun. I still felt good tht lap, so I was still pushing it a bit. That caught up to me the next lap though, when my calves started to cramp up. Lap four, the course was even more slick, and although I was warding off major cramps the entire lap ( I had to stop and stretch twice) I managed to pick my way through the rock garden. My last lap, I think, was my best. I felt good once I got a rythem going. I was pushing a big gear to prevent the cramps, but I guess I had the legs for it. I finished 12th in 6hr 46min with 5 laps. I'm happy about that.

    See ya'll at Gragnoue (or however you spell it)
    Brought to you by rocks.

  19. #19
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    I have to say I kind of wish they would have called the race do to weather. Im not blaming any one that raced or the park for holding it I just donít see why it couldnít have been called. French creek is a VARY popular park and there isnít much threat of it closing do to lack of use. Its not 1992 and non of us are pros and we all know the damage that is dun by riding in weather like that. To me it just seems like trail matnance efforts would be better suited to fixing and working on trails that have been damaged naturally. And not fixing trails torn up in a race by a bunch of guys that really know better. I know they never call races do to weather and its mountain biking so riding in the mud is part of it. I just feel when your talking about state land and not privet property it should be different.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by pulser
    I have to say I kind of wish they would have called the race do to weather. Im not blaming any one that raced or the park for holding it I just donít see why it couldnít have been called.

    Your point is taken.
    Here's a counterpoint.
    After originally being scheduled the same day as the Michaux race, the FC race was moved up one day to Saturday. This was the only weekend a race was being allowed to go on there by the park management. My understanding is it was then or not at all. The schedule is made months in advance.

    Secondly; I ride occasionally at FC, but mostly at a few area's west of there, like Camp Mack and Governor Dick. Governor Dick area is heavely used year round, including the wet winter and spring. After over a decade of riding on the trails, this year...right now...the trails are the best I've ever seen them....even after people riding them wet.

    So are the trails at FC permanently damaged from the race? I don't know...I'm not an environmental engineer. But my humble opinion is that the trails are sustainable and will be just fine. There are probably a few spots where a little trail work would help improve water run-off, or a re-route of a seasonal wet spot. But that is achivable with a volunteer trail work crew, like we (SAMBA) had at camp mack on Sunday....25 people showed up for a trail work day, we built a very nice re-route trail, closed a very sloppy trail, and made a great impression on the land manager.

    If there is a FC trailwork day in the near future, which I really hope there is, I'm sure there will be a great turnout of riders wanting to give back some love to the trails in the park. But I would not speculate that there is real lasting damage unless I saw it there myself.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penn State
    i don't think i know anyone who had breaks by the end.
    i did. and i have been bragging about it since.

    yes, that is right, my low tech v-brakes worked the whole time, and i still have some brake pad left.

    so, all the people that have givin me sh!t for running v's in the land of disc's can shove it!

  22. #22
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    My FC Race Report...

    Too much to copy/paste. Hit the link if you want.
    I did the 6 hour race. Mud, raind, and no brake pads left. DOH!
    Still had a great time and thought it was a great race. Thanks M.A.S.S.

    http://www.bikeman.com/content/view/490/28/

    jm
    Former XXC Mag publisher (re)turned amateur bike blogger at The Soiled Chamois.

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