Tuesday, April 9, 2013

6 Hours of Warrior Creek: Day Perfect

Saturday's 6 Hours of Warrior Creek was a sharp contrast to my last 6 hour, the Bootleg Bangout. This time around the weather was perfect and so was the course. A little rain the days just before the race made the course slightly tacky on the first lap but once 350+ racers did one lap it turned into a seriously fast race track. Huge props to the BMCC guys and their efforts in putting on this race. There is no doubt in my mind that this is THE 6 hour race in the southeast, boasting a solid $6,000 purse this year! The TotalCyclist MTB team had a great showing entering 5 different categories. Here are the results for the day:

1st, Singlespeed Female - Sherry George
2nd, Duo Female - Elsa Lee & Andrea Hilderbrand
2nd, Duo Coed - Bonnie Kleffman & Chris Wieczorek
3rd, Duo Male 40+ - Mike Schafer & Kelly Hudson
13th, Singlespeed Male - Scott George

Scott leads the bunch
Scott had a rough day, still hung over from being ill all week while Andrea had to fill in for the injured Casey Bailey. She'll be back soon.

Here's a little about how the day went for Mike and Kelly:

 Kelly Hudson: 

"This was my 3rd 6WC. The first 2 were plagued with flat tires and a nasty rock garden crash.  So the goal this year was to ride smart and stay outta trouble.  I was riding with a new teammate in the 40+ duo, Mike Schaefer.

I arrived Friday afternoon to find Mike backing his camper in to spot 21, directly across from registration and right at the singletrack exit before the Start/Finish line….perfect!

After a quick tour of the weekends accommodations we were off on an easy lap to check out the trail. With over an inch of rain 2 days before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Turns out the 13.5 mile with 2958 bermed turns (at last count) trail was in excellent shape except one climb on the back side that was getting runoff from somewhere and would stay slick for the duration. An hour and a half later I was watching ESPN on the flat screen outside while Mike cooked dinner (this would become a theme), so much for roughing it. Mike’s prerace ritual, pasta with spinach and some kinda chicken-cheese-pepper bratwurst meat was delicious. Followed up by a bag of Oreo’s by the fire. 

Kelly plowing the rock garden on a Canonndale Scalpel 1

It was nice to sleep in knowing we didn’t have to drive up or fight the traffic getting into the campground. After breakfast, again prepared by Mike, it was time to tinker with bikes and work on final preparations. Our plan was for him to ride the first lap and we would rotate from there. He had a good first lap and we were holding 2nd place in our category. My 1st lap went very well with virtually no traffic, which makes it difficult pacing but no lost time trying to pass. Towards the end of the lap, I noticed 3rd place catching me on the climbs only to disappear on the descents, this would become a theme as well. 

Bonnie rode smooth all day

Mike’s next lap was solid and still had us in 2nd. My turn, lots of traffic to navigate which slows the pace but 3rd place is not in sight so I think we’ve got a pretty good gap. Then the climbs start and voila! Here he comes, no problem, what goes up must come down. Here’s where I have to point out the 3:40 pm cutoff to start the last lap, this will prove to be eventful for us. I finish the lap and make the handoff, with little regard for the clock or how close our nearest opponent is and take my rest. As I’m awaiting the next handoff, I can see Mike exit the singletrack while the deadline clock for the last lap to start hits zero! He doesn’t know it but this will be our final lap, he crosses the line 1.2 seconds behind 2nd place who passed us coming thru the transition. We finish in 3rd.

What can we learn from this?

  1. RACE SMART: all the hard work and training is wasted if we don’t race smart by having a strategy and executing it, sometimes just riding full bore with no plan works, usually it won’t.
  2. CLEAR and EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION are key: this is a rule we live by in the Aviation world. I had the information but failed at clearly delivering it to my teammate to enable him to plan accordingly for the sprint to the line.
  3. TREAT EVERY LAP LIKE THE LAST: When the finish line is in sight, all bets are off, GO GET IT.

3rd place and a successful day! No injuries or mechanicals, felt great all day and scored a cash payout from BMCC. Mission accomplished!

Thanks Schaefer for a great time! Also, thank you to Jason and Paul from BMCC for such a FUN event, to Bicycle Sport, The Infinite Loop and TotalCyclist."

Elsa adding some color to the course

Mike Schafer:

"First it must be stated that the 6 hours of Warrior Creek is a truly awesome event. The race promotors even dialed up perfect weather . It couldnt have been a better day to race bikes as I partnered with my teammate Kelly in the 40+ duo cat.  We decided that I would go first get a good start and then hold steady.

At 10 o'clock we were off and things were going to plan. I found my self in the top 6 heading into the woods after a couple of miles on the road to separate the pack. Feeling good,I held the pace and settled in after 20 mins or so. The course is great fun with burmed turns, rolling hills, flowing single track and some steep punchy climbs. Reaching close to half distance I realized the course was taking its toll on me and I was being reeleed in by a few folks so  i decided to push to hold my position. I took a bad line through a turn and found myself off course. I tried to hurry back up hill to the trail with my bike in tow, but the damage was done. 6-8 riders blew by before I could remount. I was able to rebound a bit and pass three riders before I came through the finish to pass off to Kelly. My teammate took the bull by the horns and ripped off a great lap and placed us solidly in second place in our class.

Mike Schafer: always cool
 Lap two for me and Kelly was uneventful but quick allowing us to maintain our lead for second. As I started my third lap my legs were not happy but as Kelly passed the torch he told me 3rd place was only a few seconds behind. I hit the course and the shifter for the big chain ring and bang i snaped the cable. Oh well my last lap would have to be done in the small ring with what I had left.  I fought the bike and the trail knowing the third place team was lurking and so i kept pushing. As I was halfway into the last climb I looked back down as I went through the switchback and caught a glimpse of our competition coming fast. We came together as we popped out of the woods and hit the road for the 200 meter sprint to the line. I did what i could to jump on his wheel as he started to sprint and as  we crossed the line I was 1 second behind. I knew that Kelly was riding strong and could make up that small disadvantage and bring home second. However it was not to be. As luck would have it we missed the cut off for the final lap by 15 seconds.

So in the end we finished a disappointing third.  It was hard to be down for too long as our team racked up a first, two seconds and a third. What a day and what an event.  I am already looking forward to next year." 

Sherry takes Solo Singlespeed Female

Elsa and Andrea: Duo Female

Bonnie and Chris: Duo Coed

Mike and Kelly: Duo Male 40+

 All Photos credit to Lynn Willis Photography.

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