Monday, September 30, 2013

The Saturday Ride 9-28

Waking up to push and pull the pedals is getting harder and harder this time of year. The sun is barely shown at 7:30 wheels hot. Sunrise makes for a divine canvas to our Ozark landscapes and after about 10 minutes with the bunch I'm always pleased that I dragged myself out of the biscuit. After months of riding together on Saturday mornings the roads and faces have become so familiar. The mannerisms of the regulars become more predictable. Every week it's always a little different though. Someone will have good legs and someone else will struggle. Saturday was pretty spirited from the get go. We tackled a modified version of Round Mountain loop. 3,000 feet of climbing in 50 miles is always going to sting a little bit. I threw in Mt. Sequoyah for good measure.

Wakey, wakey, eggs and bikey.

Near perfect conditions.

For whatever reason this loop is always spirited. You folks know what I'm talking about. Certain roads inspire speed.

Breakfast on the bike. One ZBAR, two CLIF Shots. 

Settling in with, this backdrop.

The run to Round Mtn. is always fast. Not sure why, the bunch is going to blow once the road tilts. Kudos to Art for nabbing the KOM.

I like this route because you are never far from Fayetteville but you feel like your in the sticks.

Two climbs to go. Still intact. 


Friday, September 27, 2013

Micro X

Pretty much decided I'll never be good at cyclocross but I sure enjoy the challenge.

Good times at Walker Park last night. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hazel Valley Grand Prix

This was my first time to tackle the Hazel Valley Grand Prix. What is HVGP? A 55 mile (5700 feet gain) dirt road ride deep in the Ozark Mountains. With Bikes, Blues and BBQ (3rd largest motorcycle rally in the country) going on there was no better time to take to the sweet dirt roads of the Natural State. I've been hearing stories from teammates for years about this event so I thought it was high time to see, smell and taste it for myself. The first thing that jumped out at me is the over the top hospitality at Hazel Valley Ranch. The event promoter and crew are super friendly. They serve up an excellent breakfast before the ride and a wonderful lunch after. A lot of folks camp out on the property the night before. The second thing that jumped out at me was the facilities. The buildings are top notch. I found it hard to believe that it's only 30 minutes from Fayetteville. Still making discoveries. Get outside and explore folks!

For more information about Hazel Valley Ranch check out the links below.

A perfect fall day. Chilly bluebird with a little fog in the valley.

$30 gets you a free shirt, one incredible ride experience and some great eats.

The HVR crew was super helpful. 

The facilities are pretty awesome.

You get the feeling they could service bikes, cars, tractors, buffalo you name it.

The previous nights fire keeping the Snapple boys toasty.

 A great scene.

Roger (promoter) gathering the troops. When he said the course isn't marked he wasn't kidding. I highly recommend you bring everything and the kitchen sink. Lots of tubes...oh and umm...toilet paper.

Mountain bike or Cross bike? That is the question of the day.

The most people I would see for the rest of the ride. 

A gnarly climb about 3 miles in shatters the bunch. County Rd. 110 climb, .9 miles with 500 feet gain. Believe me when I say it's tougher on dirt roads. 20+% ramps with tires sliding out. 

What goes up must come down. Roughly a 9 mile descent. I mean roughly in distance and roughly in terrain. The CX bikes were dishing out straight beat downs to the Snapple crew. Flat number one. There would be 11 to follow.

Handlebar slippages. The MTBers wizzz by with big smiles.

Once the dust settled we were greeted with sweet Ozark goodness...

A shady spot for when things get hot.

The sun poking through made for some interesting photos. 

Fun with filters.

Most of the first two hours was shaded. Super cool, but made it tough to see rocks.

After the Bidville Rd. climb (5 miles with 1000 feet gain) we came to this ridge top.

360° of stunning scenery.

Only 8 miles to White Rock. I say that now "only." The climb is 7 miles with 1260 feet gain.


I am not sure what made the climb to White Rock Mountain so difficult. Perhaps it's the two previous climbs taking a toll. It seemed relentless, rounding corner after corner only to see another long ramp. Perhaps it's the rocks disrupting your climbing rhythm. I had a dark moment or two. But make it to the top and you see this view.

HVGP was more difficult then I thought it was going to be. Jason towed me in the last 15 miles. But it was pure adventure. The difficulties of the day were quickly washed away with a Fat Tire, BBQ and pizza. We stuffed our faces and relived the moments together. Good times...Let's Eat!

I cannot say this enough. The CX bike has quickly become my favorite horse in the stable. It is versatile, tough and flat out fun to ride. Dirt roads open up another level of possibilities.

Final thoughts.

The Hazel Valley Grand Prix has the potential to be a huge event. The route is spectacular. It's hard but doable. The hospitality at the ranch is over the top. I'll be back for sure. If your looking for something different something adventurous. If your looking to feel lost and actually be lost this event is for you. Put it on your calendar folks! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Saturday Ride & State Championships

Weekends in The Natural State are getting super busy. The NWA State Championship mountain bike race was Saturday and the State Championship Criterium on Sunday. Also, that 'other' sport had a home game. I love when Fayetteville swells up with Razorback fans. Especially at the beginning of the season when folks have a ton of optimism. I decided on a short route Saturday knowing that most of us would be racing on Sunday and headed to watch the Hogs later in the morning. I kind of forgot how fun it is to ride at a chill pace and have more energy to chat with folks. That's one of the things that makes bicycle riding great. Exercising and socializing at the same time. I made the mistake of taking the group through the Razorback tailgate at the end. We got re-routed by the Po-Po several times and had to sit and wait a bunch.

Perfect conditions. Starting temp 53°.

It wasn't always chill but mostly chill.

Savoy loop is a classic. I can remember riding this loop over and over when I first started cycling. It was the only route I knew at the time.

State Championship Criterium

Sunday I rode in the Category 3 State Championship Criterium. We fielded a solid team for this one. I've been riding long enough to know my fitness level most of the time. I knew that I was not in criterium racing shape. The last time I raced was early summer and just recently was off the bike for about two weeks.  There are a lot of violent accelerations in this format of racing. You have to be able to accelerate and recover many times over. Cycling is a team sport and there are other ways to contribute to a team effort. Sometimes just pinning the number on and taking the start line lifts the spirits of your teammates. Like most teams we meet before the race to discuss tactics. It's good to have a loose plan in place and then call audibles as the race unfolds. The first break of the day looked promising we had two guys up the road and the other teams were represented. A teammate that was in that move said the group was too big and dis-functional. They eventually got reeled in. The team from Little Rock SimplexQ rode a very good race. They were super aggressive and had good numbers. Just before a prime the pace seemed to slow a bit but shortly after one of my teammates countered and the pace surged again. The second break (winning move) was starting to form. We had two guys in the move initially but eventually it was reduced to four guys all from different teams. With about 5 laps to go a SimplexQ guy got on the front and started drilling it shattering the peloton into several groups. I was able to hang on for bit but then my legs decided to pull the plug. We had two guys in the first chase group and one guy in the winning break so things looked good. With about 4 laps to go the official agreed with my legs and pulled the plug on my race. My teammate Scott ended up bringing home the bacon. It's great when everything comes together. You lose way more then you win in this sport.

A special thanks to Jason Evans for putting on the State Championship race. It seems like there is a lot of additional red tape involved in promoting a State Championship. Bentonville seems to have it going on with hosting tons of new events. I hope this trend continues.

Warming up rolling by Crystal Bridges Museum. I love that metal tree.

Bell rings. Winning move. The chase group is close.

Chase group.

Scott rides away with it.

One of the best parts of racing. "How the race was won." Storytelling. Good times.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Micro X

What is Micro X? Well now, I'm glad you asked. The guys over at Highroller in conjunction with De Pijp Racing set up a mini cyclocross course at Walker Park. It's quite a spectacle. The two twenty minute races are designed for folks to build cyclocross fitness and get better at the bike skills involved in this quirky style of bicycle racing. I will be the first to admit I really stink but in the same breath it's a lot of fun. Big time thank you to Jonathan and Jared with Highroller and De Pijp Racing for making it happen. It's a fine although slightly painful way to spend a Thursday evening.

Where? Walker Park Fayetteville
When? Thursday
What time? 6 PM
How long? 2 twenty minute races

Here is a link to the Arkansas Cyclocross race calendar.

Pre-race talk with Jared.

CX is becoming super popular in the US and gaining ground in the Natural State as well.

The first lap or so is an all out assault. 

Dismount, run, hurdle, remount. It's harder then you think.

The goal is to get smoother in these transitions. It's really cool to see someone who is good at it.

Lap after lap the barriers start to take a toll.

Jake & Jonathan leading in the second race.

You don't need a cross specific bike to participate. I started on my mountain bike last year.

Branton getting after it.


Come on out!