Not taking any chances. Two sets of xxxlites with new aspens mounted up.


2011 Otter

The Sea Otter is a pretty unique racing experience.  The whole event is pretty awesome.  Thousand of racers, thousands more spectators, and every bike company you can or cant think of is there.

We got to Monterrey on Thursday about noon and headed straight for Laguna Seca to get some preriding done and loosen up the legs from the flight and drive down from SanJose.  After hitting the registration building we walked down the hill and across the pedestrian bridge as a pack of Tour de France caliber road riders are rushing underneath in their crit.  At the other side of the pedestrian bridge, still walking, my rear tire suddenly has a puncture in the sidewall.  I head over to the Shimano tent to borrow a pump and it seals back up.  Go on to preride a whole bunch of laps of the xc course and the tire seems good to go.  After the preride my dad and I walk around the venue a bit more, checking out all the vendors.  Its pretty fun place if you like bikes at all.

Friday morning rolls around and I check my rear tire first thing.  Hasnt leaked at all, its fine.  Sea Otter short track is pretty tough.  Its a 1/4 mile lap with only a few places to pass and about 100 pro men.  We get to the course just as the women are lining up for their race so we start in about 30 minutes.  I am watching the first lap of the women, and pinning on my numbers when I hear the distinct sound of all the air rushing out of the rear tire again.  Now its a little more of a panic.  I had left my extra tires at the hotel and I needed to be warming up.  I head into the venue, air it up, its not holding at all.  I stop off at the Focus bikes trailer as the mechanics there arent doing anything.  Karl from Focus goes to work on this little pin hole in my tire.  He tapes, superglues, shoe glues, airs it up...nothing.  The womens race is over and the men are preriding now.  He throws a tube in and I sprint up the hill to the short track.  I get there and the announcer is calling riders to staging.  I make a dumb move of sneaking by and getting one lap of preriding in.  They only call up the top 30 from the PROXCT shorttracks in California the weeks prior so I dont get called up and am standing at the very back. 

So the race starts, I am in the back row, but right behind Carl Decker.  I think to myself, he is really fast, Ill just stay behind him as long as possible.  The first corner comes, everyone is off their bikes running.  I make some evasive manuevers and pass a bunch of guys.  Then sprint really hard the rest of the lap, passing a few more.  Next thing you know, the race is strung out, everyone sprints full on in the sections where you could pass so passing is about impossible and I start thinking there is no reason to kill myself in the short track for a few laps.  Ride around in 50 something position for awhile before getting pulled.  Time to change the tires.
Sea Otter XC.... Its not like any other xc race.  Its basically a road race with a little trail thrown in.  I dont do any road racing and rarely do any thinking of racing tactics.  I had one plan before the start, get into the singletrack in a good position.  Before our race started, I was given a bucket load of other advice and tried to remember as much as possible, but its easier said than done.  Called up 41st out of a hundred and some pro men and away we went.  Through the feed zone a few guys decided to run into a fence and a little later a few more crashed into each other, i was safe and sound.  We left the road and entered the trail and I was probably around 20th, just behind some Kona guys.  The race started splitting up a little.  The next tactic I remembered from last year, was dont let a gap open up.  I clung to the wheel in front of me all lap, focused on not losing it.  Through the feed zone on lap two I was squarely in the middle of a 10 man group and inside the top 30.  Perfect.

This is where the tactics ended.  By the time we entered the singletrack again I had lost focus and was at the back of the group.  When 10+ guys are on the road, its a small group.  When you spread out into singletrack, suddenly you are way behind the front of the group and if any gaps open the resst of the group is in some trouble.  On the fireroad section we came up quick on a fading Russel Finsterwald of Subaru Trek who must have gone out too hard.  The whole group went around him but for some reason I just sat on his wheel and watched as the group got a gap.  We chased too hard on the road to catch back on.  Halfway through the next lap a group led by Ned Overend and TJ Woodruff was on my wheel.  I knew I could ride with these guys, so I refocused and stayed on Neds wheel the rest of the lap.  Back onto the road and through the feed zone I was in the middle of that group (40ish) and by the time we hit the singletrack I again was at the back.  Again, not due to fitness, just wasnt thinking about how dumb it is to be the last guy into the trail each lap.  This continued in one form or another the rest of the race.  I was just in a slow fade backwards.  Its pretty hard to move forward on this course much as everyone hammers hard on the trail and rides in huge groups on the road.  In my case it made matters worse that I literally only got passed about 3 times all race, but by 10 guys each time.  64th.


Gods Country Duathlon

My view of the entire bike lap. Quality isnt so great because I cant upload that long of video at high quality.

Gods Country Duathlon from aaron elwell on Vimeo.

So I needed to get in a good intense workout this weekend and the mtb race was cancelled. So Saturday I headed down to the RiverTrail to get in a nice ride. The trails were packed because it was a perfect day and the Specialized Demo Crew was at the trailhead. Every cyclist in Lawrence seemed to be down there doing laps on some pretty nice bikes. I saw Adam Mills finishing up a lap on an SWorks Epic 29er and seemed pretty happy about it.

So Sunday morning I got up early and watched Paris Roubaix online. It was pretty exciting and got me excited to race. The only option was the Duathlon so I got ready and rode down to it. On the way my waterbottle fell out of my backpack, hit the ground, and sprang a leak. Not great for a hot day. I registered, found my spot on the bike rack, and put on my running shoes. I wasnt very excited about the run. I get really sore anytime I do any type of running, which hasnt been since last October. So we all line up and take off. My plan is to jog. I am quickly fading backwards, but jogging is pretty much my max speed so I just hope I can catch back up on the bike. I end the run with my legs throbbing in about 25th and something like 3 minutes out of the lead. So, jump on the bike and start pedaling. The run definitely had some serious effect on my pedaling. I couldnt make myself stand very long and I usually stand almost the entire lap at the River Trail races. A third of the way through the lap my front derailleur twists and starts hitting on my cranks, which is the loud popping you hear in the video. At the half way point of the bike I was into the top 5. I caught the leader pretty close to the end of the lap (he was on a duo team) and put enough gap on him to win the final run sprint to the line, by about 5 feet. Good workout for sure.

Not too excited about running...

Going a little better...


Testing this phone blogging.  But the bike is all fixed up with the light stuff 


Cancelled again

Im already 0 for 2 on localish xc races this year.  Lawrence River trail xc is cancelled.  Who knows why.  Pretty hard to think that it would be because of mud, being it dries in about 10 minutes.  Ill probably be down there doing my own personal race instead.  I might have to dust off my cat 4 road license if this continues....or not.

edit:: the rumors are the race was cancelled due to the promotor (freestate racing) "not having the time", or not wanting to put in the time.  i shouldnt be one to complain, because I know it takes a lot of effort and there would be no way I would have time to put on a race.  but why even plan on it and then back out. 


Ouachita Challenge

Katie and I drove down to Arkansas on Saturday morning.  We stopped at the Big Brushy campground and I prerode the rockiest section of the course.  No flats.  We go and register and head to the hotel where the rest of Team HighGear is getting ready for the big race.  Sunday morning we wake up early and head over to the start.  I should mention that because this years edition had some extra paved sections, I decided to run faster rolling, less tread tires.

The race started and there was 8 miles of pavement and gravel before the first singletrack section.  I knew that the singletrack started at the top of a steep gravel climb so when a guy wearing a full on Specialized kit got a leadout going up the climb, I figured that was the climb I was looking for.  I chased.  Got to the top and it wasnt the climb and I made dumb mistake #2 (tire choice was #1) and decided to wait for the group to catch back up letting specialized guy (wylie something) ride away.  A few miles later and it was the right climb, I go to the front and hammer up the hill, Specialized guy is already in the singletrack when we start the climb, he must be a minute up. 

Im cruising through the singletrack, feeling pretty good, all by myself.  I eventually catch back up to the lead and we ride together for awhile.  Up the super rocky climb on Blowout Mtn I ease up a bit and he gets a little gap, but Im afraid of flatting.  Make it down the super rocky descent and he is still up the trail a little.  A few minutes later Im pretty much caught back on when I feel the back tire going flat.  I keep going down the hill and make it to a gravel section.  Stop and put in some air.  It holds for a good 10 minutes.  Stop again, 3rd place comes by.  Ride some more, its actually holding air.  Hit a big rock, Not holding air anymore.  Tube #1 comes out, which takes forever since everything is so neatly crammed into my seatbag and I cant get the valvestem out of the wheel.  At this point I get passed by 6-7 more guys and lose motivation.  One more descent and we are on gravel heading towards the town of Sims and a long windy paved section, like 6 or 7 miles long I think.

The next dumb move comes on the paved section.  Im all by myself and not very motivated to catch back up when I see a group of 5 a few hills behind.  I start to think it would be great if they caught me and I could enjoy some draft.  A suburban comes up and tells me they are coming fast and I still have another 3 miles of road.  I let off completely and soft pedal until they catch on.  That Cornbread guy is leading the group and I get on the back.  About a hundred yards later, we turn into singletrack, damn...What a waste of time.

I lead into the singletrack a little upset that Ive stopped so many times for flat tires and then wasted more time waiting for a group that I didnt need to.  I pop out of the singletrack, dont see Katie even though she is right in front of me and head off down the gravel road looking for more trail riding fun.  I catch my first person when we enter the singletrack, some motivation returns.  Start hammering pretty hard.  Stop at the next aidstation where Katie fills my pockets full of another tube and air can.  Hammer some more.  Im really starting to catch people now, up to 6th and picking guys off at a quick clip.  Start thinking its possible to catch back on. 

Flat #3 comes.  Pull out yet another tube, get the wheel stuck back in, cant find the skewer.  Its lost...start moving leaves and branches and eventually find it.  Jump back onthe bike, gloves in the pockets, which I now regret.  Start riding again but Im out of tubes so I want to make sure I make it to the finish.  Figure Im in 12th or so. Work my way back up to 7th in the singletrack and come onto the final gravel stretch.  Im safe now of flatting so I go all out and real in another rider.  Enter the asphalt street back into town to the finish and see one more guy up ahead.  Catch him just before town and sprint on in for 5th feeling strong.  5 minutes behind the leader.  Oh well.  Bike racing has started, time to get in shape.


Another Flat

 Ouachita Challenge...

I needed this guy in the worse way.  Three Flats made for a somewhat tough day.  Ended up 5th and only 5 minutes off the winner so at least I was going pretty well when I was actually going.  Ive never used that many tubes or co2's.  Full report of the adventure tonight.  Never using those tires again, ever.