Viewing entries tagged

A Hard Fought Season Closer

A Hard Fought Season Closer

Going into last race of the WORS series, I was tied for second place overall in the
series age group. With my talented opponent grabbing the early lead he ended
up flatting in a creek crossing leaving the gate open. It was mine to win.

The course was a mudfest of sticky clay and forest loam from 2 days of rain. At one point, I was running up a steep hill basically dragging my back wheel up, then had to remount my chain at least 7 times, and whacked a post pushing my brake/shifter back to a point awkwardness to ride. Again, I had to stop, pry them back into place.

All in all I still may have caught my opponent if he hadn't flatted. I really had a good feel for the drifting effect you get in mud like that. I really feel bad for his misfortune, we both really wanted the win, so no telling what would have happened in the end. Got to hand it to him though, he finished the race on the flat. I'm feeling humble for the win and will know in a few days if I secured the 2nd place series win. It was a tough season again with some very good riders which always make it fun and exciting.

WORS#10 Sheboygan. Oct 2nd

~Rich Baumgarten

Sorry, The Lift is Out of Service

Sorry, The Lift is Out of Service

Ski hills - I must have a love hate relationship with them.

In 2015, Mt. Morris I did great, WORS CUP Cascade Mt. not so good, Treadfest Grand Geneva great again. This year was no different. I think it has to do with the layout of each course; Mt Morris and Grand Geneva have a good mix of single track and leg burning climbs. Cascade is almost one-dimensional in that you’re either climbing or descending. They are all equally tough, but something about throwing tricky technical aspects into the mix just get my batteries charged. So it was no surprise I was going to have a good race this past Sunday at the WORS #9 Treadfest. How I going to place? Well that was the only mystery.

We have a ringer, Jamie, in our midst this year, though he is not entered in the series; meaning he doesn’t accumulate points for the year-end win. Jamie has been taking top step for much of the year. I did beat him at CamRock by zipping through some technical loose rock section and dropping the hammer to stay ahead. Other than that he has finished with a pretty good margin above myself and the other two top competitors in my age group, Todd and Brian. Sunday was no different.

The key to this race is the start - Get up the side of that ski hill as fast as you can. Once you’re up then its right back down again. Recovery is short because the course goes up a second hill - not quite as steep as the first. Once your legs have burned off and you’ve maxed out everything your body can handle you descend into some sweet single track accented by short punchy climbs. Momentum is crucial in punchy climbs. If you don’t carry enough speed to the top you”ll stall and either fall or waste a lot of energy trying to get over the hump.

Jamie and Todd broke into the lead. Brian and I trailed behind. The course is set up so that it crisscrosses back and forth. I could see Jamie was creating a gap so my goal was to stay with Brian and see if we can rope in Todd. New to the course this year is an uphill section of 7 switchbacks. A switchback is a trail feature that gets you either up or down a steep slope and aids in preventing trails erosion. Picture 180 degree turns on a CX course, then imagine having about a 2 foot width of track going either uphill or down at a pretty steep angle. Add in some loose dirt and reduced speed it becomes a test of balance and power. Sometimes going downhill on a switchback can be even more intimidating than going up.

As the race progressed I lost Brian when he stalled on a climb and fell to the side. Checking to see if he was injured, I got the ok to leave. Knowing Brian, he would be on my tail soon. Aside from the climbs and switchbacks there is one more obstacle to tackle; a short steep “rock-pile” climb with a nasty trait of loose gravel. Mountain biking is a game of seconds. It is so important to stay on the bike; falls or a foot down can cost those valuable seconds. Both my attempts at this feature were successful. I was lucky not to have traffic commonly found at these obstacles. I was able to gather steam on the firmer lower section, then scoot way up on my saddle and will my way over the top.

Now were getting into the last lap. As I come around the corner I find Jamie walking the course with a flat tire, big break for us all. Todd is the only one left to catch and motivation is high with Jamie out of the game. I was feeling great throughout the race, feeding off some tasty black cherry CarboRocket fuel. I pass my best supporter and private paparazzi Yvonne. She yelled out “25”! But all I caught was “5”. Four more single-track sections and I was able to make up the seconds I was behind. Todd was in view. Being aware of my presence, he tried putting slower traffic between him and I.

As we exited the last single-track section we rolled side by side up the double-track. After some friendly banter I took to the front thinking, “A short descent and then it’s an uphill battle to the finish”. I gather as much momentum before the steep climb and just went all or nothing up that final hill. Topping the steep section there is a false flat followed by a short up-grade. Todd made his move there. I saw him off my shoulder and resisted the temptation to get up out of the saddle. At this point the key is to get all the power possible. As I peaked the top I start downshifting, getting ready for the sprint to the finish. The Niner RKT is an amazing bike. As soon as you stomp on the pedals you are moving. It did not fail me this time. I hit the bottom of the hill and charged to the finish. I crossed the finish with a 2 second lead for the win.

Brian, Todd and I are neck and neck in the series standings. So having a first place finish is big for me. And doing it at Treadfest is big too. Treadfest is one tough course, a trademark of the Treadhead Cycling team’s trail builders. Grand Geneva trails were once exclusive to only Treadhead members, but are now open to the public. The cost is $10 dollars to ride there, but I can guarantee you will not find anything like it in Illinois. A big thanks goes out to my supporters Half Acre, Johnny Sprockets, CarboRocket and Mad Alchemy. They were all part of my day. My biggest thanks to Yvonne, the support she provides before and during the race have been a big key to my success. Introduce yourself and you’ll most likely end up in her camera lens out on the course.

~Rich Baumgarten

Love Thy Local Trail System

Love Thy Local Trail System

As a Chicago based team, mountain bike riding can be quite the challenge.  Our nearest trails are in Willow Springs at the Palos Forest Preserve.  Here's a fun fact, there are people that build and maintain them for our enjoyment!  They are CAMBr, the Chicago Area Mountain Bikers, and these volunteers giving their time and effort are the reason we have these trails to ride. 

So perhaps you ride regularly or were convinced to take your cx bike to give a it try a few times, in either case you know that when you go, you just park and ride.  No fee for parking or trail pass to purchase.  What a world!  Well here is our pitch:  support the work CAMBr is doing by becoming a member (basic is $35).  CLICK THIS LINK  

Trees fall and they clear em, berms created, and trails fixed (when those bad peeps ride them while wet and create terrible ruts).  In the last year alone, major developments on a new trail, Stonehouse, further connecting and extending the current system have taken place.  Check it out on this new map.   They also host training rides, kids days, plan trips to other trails systems, as well as host the Palos Meltdown race.  Side note: you can also throw in some muscle on work days, create those trails you ride!  

We all know those nights spent staring at the radar are just as filled with days riding.  So take a few minutes and a few dollars and become a member.  Increasing the numbers also shows the powers that be how important these trails are to the cycling community and that our numbers are large.  This helps fortify the case that bike trails are good and should not be nixed.

Thank you for joining.  We look forward to seeing you out there.  Just make sure to check the conditions first. 

Look at this fun stretch of Stonehouse.   How do think those rocks got there?  And look at this fallen tree on Turf, who is gonna clear it out? 

Look at this fun stretch of Stonehouse.   How do think those rocks got there?  And look at this fallen tree on Turf, who is gonna clear it out? 

3 Days, 3 Trails, 3 Words Each

A Memorial Day weekend ride report.

  • Alpine Valley - Elkhorn, WI
    • turns, chipmunks, climbing
  • John Muir, Kettle Moraine - Whitewater, WI
    • rocks, hikers, flying insects
  • Palos Forest Preserve - Willow Springs, IL
    • roots, two-way traffic, bbq's

Side notes:  Rode with several rad ladies, I'm always learning.  Copious amounts of ice cream enjoyed after each ride, as it should be.

~Erica C.


Each Uphill, Another Rider to Pass

Each Uphill, Another Rider to Pass

WORS Cup - Amateur XC Cat 2 Women

This was my first MTB race of the year, which seems crazy, but it has been a tough year for training between lots of work, travel, & some illness. The trail was smooth and not very technical (although the climbing was pretty tough), and the race was short--only about an hour--so it was a good one to get my feet wet again. Ultimately, I was pretty happy to finish mid-pack, and probably would have caught the woman in front of me for top 3 age group if I had another lap. Mentally I felt strong--stayed in my own race and focused on riding well and not getting too panicked when I got passed by a group of folks on the multi-track on the first lap. The result was a faster, smoother second lap and I passed most of the folks back on the uphill chicanes. 

It was a fun weekend with so many HAC teammies there and lots of Friends-of-HAC around too. Felt almost like a local race. Thanks for the good times, friends.

-Jen M. 

Riding through the Bonk and Finding the Keep Going

Riding through the Bonk and Finding the Keep Going

I learned a new aspect of Racing With Heart this weekend at the Lumberjack 100. I went in with a lofty, but attainable, goal of 8 hours. This would top last years 8:17, albeit on a slightly different course.

My first lap put my right on the razor's edge of making 8 hours but only if I could repeat that lap time 2 more times. I've never gone even splits, so this seemed unlikely. When I lost 10 minutes in my second lap, I still had a better-than-last-year's time in mind. However, a bonk in the third lap had me just hanging on for dear life.

I was losing huge chunks of time with every climb and every stop to eat. My mind started to go to dark places. I had lost my chance at a personal record and even a "respectable" 8:30. I knew I could finish, but it began to look like even 9 hours was slipping out of my grasp. Then I thought of the kit on my back and that while my hopes had been dashed, I could still Race With Heart for the best finish possible that I could do. Came in at 8:52:43, good for 108th out of 242 in the Mens Open.

So it's back to the drawing board and back to the dirt (if this rain EVER stops) to come back stronger and faster next year.

-Mike Campbell

Side shout out:  We never achieve anything solely on our own merit. It takes the love and support of the people around us. In every attempt and finish I've achieved of the Lumberjack 100 an incredible woman has stood behind me, pushed me, picked me up, and been with me for every pedal stroke. Thank you to my wife Sophia, you are the best!

Lake Geneva - two different races in two weeks

Treadfest - WORS mountain bike series

The 10th in a series of 12 races.  A challenging course that begins with a long uphill climb forcing the riders to work hard to be first into the single track. 

Rich Baumgarten continued his quest to stay on top with his 1st place finish in the Cat 2 Sport class in his age group.  Two more races to determine if he takes overall top podium spot for the series...again.

Paul-Brian McInerney also made the journey north and put in a hard effort to nab 2nd place in the Cat 2 Comp in his age group.  This guy is ready to take on the upcoming cx season.


Lake Geneva CX - WCA series

We had our fun season preview at the CX Relay in Jackson Park a few weeks ago.  Yesterday, however, things got the full kick-off.  The Lake Geneva CX race had all the natural obstacles a cx racer would want to ride: mud, sand, climbs, and off-camber sections.  A group of our riders made the journey north to test out their early season skills.

  • Masters 45+   Paul-Brian McInerney 5th
  • Men's Cat 3  Eric Holm 10th, Bill Guy 25th
  • Men's Cat 4  Michael Sojka 25th
  • Women's Cat 3  Andrea Devine, 4th, Jen Groen 8th
  • Women's Cat 4  Ashley Heidenreich 5th
  • Masters 35+  Jen Groen 4th, Jen Mosley 7th, Laurie Chipps 8th

Next up for the cx squad will be TrekFest and then Caldwell woods, the starter to the Chicago Cross Cup series.