Monday, January 4, 2016

Over, Finished, Gone, Done, Out...

Yup goodbye 2015. Not the best year, but I'm sure it could have been even worse. Strange aches and pains, and lack of motivation had me digging real deep to find the fire early on. Through it, I figured out that having fun on the bike is what really drives me. So much so, That as of right now, I am super motivated to ride as much as I can, and can't wait for the 2016 race season to begin. I guess slightly lack luster results will bring back the hunger eh?

But 2015 was a complete bust. I was still consistently near the top in most of the races I did throughout the year. And was able to knock out 8,000 miles for the 2nd year in a row, with 508 hours. Not too bad, but slightly off form the year before. See you all in the spring or on the local snowy trail!

Monday, December 21, 2015


Well it's a wrap. Another season coming to a close. It's been the most challenging for me thus far. Not from the racing, but from trying to find balance. Learned some things, and I screwed some things up. Through all of it, I now look forward to trying to figure it all out again for next year.

I finished the CX series overall in a good spot. And considering how a lot of folks raised their game this year, to finish in the top 3 in points overall is pretty cool. This is actually my 5th year in a row finishing at least top 3 overall in the points series for Masters 35+. I have to say I'm really happy about that. It has never been easy.

So since Iceman, all I could do was hang on. I took a 4th at Mad Anthony after crashing out of the lead group late in the race. I rebounded with one of my best races of the year the next day at Addison Oaks by taking 3rd. Then it was off to the State Championship race. Mentally I was already out of the game before it even started. I had one of the worst starts in a CX race for me to date. It resulted in me spending half the race working my way past 20+ people. I made it up to 5th place, but never had the kick to take Brain W at the line. So I settled for 6th. As for the last race of the year at Le Frost Cross, I had one of the best races of the year. I was able to go lap for lap at the front and just missed out sprinting for the win. Took 2nd.

Part of me is happy the year is over to put it past me and start fresh, and the other part is still chomping at the bit ready to get it on, knowing I missed out on my opportunities to be just a little bit better. But what I am finding is, its fuel for the fire to try and make 2016 even better!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

1/2 Step Behind

Things in the local race world have been going OK for me this season, but man it hasn't been easy to hold it all together. Life has been crazy, and my time seems to be even more limited than in the past. Hell I haven't even had time to update this silly blog like I normally do. Overall I've still been consistent with top 5 results, so I can't complain. But I seem to have been just a half step behind this year to where I feel I should be in the races. Since Big Bad Wolf, I have been in the hunt for the top step at Brighton CX with a 3rd, Vets Park CX with a 2nd, Grand Rapid CX Day 1 was nipping at a 4th, but took a DNF. and Day 2 I came back with another 3rd.

And then there was the big show. The ICEMAN. Legs never really seemed to open up. and I dangled off the group I needed to be in, or in front of. However, I still managed to take 2nd and missed the top step by 18 seconds.

If anything, I have learned a lot about my fitness, understanding what works for training comparing this year from the last 2 years, and dealing better with life's curve balls. Bottom line, I have to keep asking myself how bad do I really want it. And is it still fun?

I have at least 4 more CX races, left on the calendar for this year. So my focus is to hang on to a top 3 overall in the MBRA CX series, try and take a top 3 at States, and if the opportunity presents itself, try and walk away with at least 1 win. Time will tell, but maybe I can find that last 1/2 step before time runs out.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Big Bad Wolf CX

I really wish this place would take off as a must do race for everyone on the race scene and pop some bigger attendance numbers. This is a great venue to race at, and has everything you need for a true CX course... But the scene is still trying to find itself a bit, and limping a long. So we will see what the future brings. I just hope Big Bad Wolf stays on the schedule for many years to come.

With that, we are already into the 4 race of the cx season. And things are really heating up. The Masters 35+ has been super tight so far, and as more start finding their legs, the front of the race will begin to swell and get tougher than it is right now. I just hope I can hang on for the ride.

Big Bad Wolf was no different. I finally got a good start off the line and headed between the tape in 3 place. Brad opened up a can of whoop ass! And went full psycho mode. Laying it all out in the first lap. I hung on, as did Brain and Alex. We got to the mini barriers. I decided to to run instead of bunny hop. and could not clip back in. Ugh. Both feel slipped off the pedals and a gap of around 15 seconds opened up. I could not close the gap by myself, and it stayed this way for all but the last 2 laps. The only good news out of all this was, I was able to distance myself pretty good from the rest of the field.

2 laps to go, It was not obvious I was not going to catch the lead group, and silly crash helped seal the deal as well. But I was able to finish 4th, and in the points race, that could make a difference in the long run.

Congrats to B-Rad for pulling off his first CX win of the year, and probably not his last.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ready, Set, Bleed....

CX is finally here, and already its been a crazy busy few weeks of racing.

First off was the Alma GP of CX. JB Hancock hit this race out of the park this year! With top not promotion, a course this is a work of art, and all the hype of a UCI caliber event. This will the a key race in the New MBRA CX series for years to come.

As for the race, I was nervous as hell, but couldn't wait to test the legs and finally get the CX circus on the road for another season.

From the whistle, I couldn't clip in. I went from the front row, to about 12th. Buy the time we hit the first corner, I could see the lead group of 5 slipping away. I didn't panic and knew what I had to do. I started picking of riders one by one. I was feeling strong and comfortable. About half way through, I finally started catching the top 5 guys. First Dan K, then Andy F, Simon B, and finally Brian W. By the time I caught Brian, I could see Lako within sight. Todd Greene had broken up the group and was about to solo his way to his first masters win.

I passed Brain and he hopped on my wheel. I pulled to close the gap to Brad. We came within about 4 seconds. Then Brad was able to pry a few more seconds on us. Into the last lap, Brain was able to take a turn pulling. This was our chance to catch Brad in 2nd. half way through the last lap, up the stairs and remounting my bike, I missed the saddle and crashed to the ground. Brain slips away, Wade Burch comes by, and Dan K is closing in... I was able to hang on to 5th.

Uncle John's Dirty Ride -

The next day, I decided to do a new dirt road race on the calender. a 56 mile gravel grinder. My knee was questionable from the tweaking it the day before, but it felt good enough to give it a shot.

We had a very respectable group at the start line.The group contained guys like Dan Yankus, Tom Burke, Craig Webb, Adam York, and a host of other fast dudes included some team mates Jim "Jacko"and Tony Baustuk. 30 of us exploded from the start line! It was blistering fast. we soon ramped up, and averaged 22+ MPH for the entire race. I stayed tucked in the group for most of the day. However, I did try to get into a break with York, but it was brought back. Half way though York, Yankus and Webb got away and stayed away. No one was willing to work to catch them, but the pace remained high. With 2 miles to go, the attacks started one after another. I was able to stay near the front and help pull them back. When Burke Decided to get into the mix, I knew this was my ticket to a high finish.

This late move was the one to continue to break up and string out the group. We came into the Orchard, and up the hill to the finish. I was with Collin Snyder, Burke and Jacko trying to wind up for a some what confusing sprint. In the end, I was able to sneak in for 10th place overall.

Waterford CX Day 1 -

This past weekend was the Tailwind Waterford Double Cross weekend. I came into the race feeling good again, and ready to have a better race and finish with a higher result than Alma.

When the whistle blew, I was able to clip in! YES! I worked my way down the straight away, and settled in around 5 or 6th place. A few blows came early, but nothing stuck. About 3 laps in. the group was still about 10 strong. I decided to throw a big punch and attack hard through the start finish and deep into the course. It worked. The group was now down to Brain W, Simon B, Lako and myself. We had a good gap on the rest of the field, and now the in fighting began.

We each traded pulls and punches lap after lap... No one was willing to give up or slow down. But it didn't seem to be working. Finally with about 3 laps to go. Brian made what seemed to be a harmless dig open up a gap. But each corner he turned it on. Brad, Simon, and I each tried to pull him back but no luck. Brain was free to fly. But there was still some meat on the bone.

Into the final lap, Simon, Brad and I was still wheel to wheel. Simon was able to get about a 3-4 second gap. I was just off of Brad's wheel. Simon takes 2nd, and I am able to swing around Brad at the finish line for 3rd. This was some of the best racing I have ever been apart of!

Waterford CX Day 2 -

Still feeling good and hoping to improve. The race starts out the same way as the day before, but now find a group of 6 instead of 4 at the front. Now its the same 4 from the day before and Alex M, and Todd Greene. This time, I am content with Brad, Brain, Simon, and Todd, beating each other up as I sit on the back and wait. Alex sits with me. But in reality, I was on my limit and was just trying to hang on.

With 4 laps to go. Alex crashes at the barrier. and is not able to close the gap back. So now the group is down to 5. with 2 to go, I figure if I have any chance at all, now is it. In the start/finish straight, I make a huge attack. It hurts. It hurts really bad! During the attack, Todd crashes as well and gets gaped. Its back down to the same 4 guys as the day before. This time we start closer together all the way to the end. But still I am struggling to hang on, and just hoping to be in contact at the end to contest for the sprint. Into the final corner, the gap pries open too much. Brain takes his 2nd win of the weekend. Brad is about to out sprint Simon for 2nd and I limp in a few more seconds for 4th. Again, Incredible racing by these guys. Just when you think you can't go any harder, you line up with friends like these.

(photo credit; Dennis Willard)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Crawling out of a hole...

Since May, I have been off the grid so to speak. Hung it up for the less than interesting races that were available, and for the first time in 10 years, just rode my bike to actually have fun. Not plan, no time limits, no thought. Just ride. Ride where and when I want. Ride as much single track as I want. Don't ride at all if I want. And I have to say, it was sweet!

But eventually, the fire in my belly started to burn, and it is almost a raging inferno now! CX is around the corner, so I am finally crawling out of my hole.

So in early August, I entered the race scene again at O2S. One of the best races on the plant! With little fitness and tired legs, I finished out of the top 100. A bit of my goal for the day, but damn I had fun! And actually felt good overall to boot.

With a little more fitness, I tackled the Michigan State Championship XC MTB race at Glacial Hills. Decided to throw my hat in the ring with the Elite/Expert single speeders. Legs seemed to be firing well. And I ended up a solid 3rd at the end of the day. But lots of work is still needed before the kickoff of the CX season at the Alma Grand Prix! Things all seem to be on track. Now time to go back into my hole a little longer. See y'all on Sept. 12th!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Arcadia Grit and Gravel

I may have found the perfect race...

One that is in an incredible area, incorporates gravel roads with tough climbs, probably some of the best single track in the state if not the world, a mass start, and a great after party right on the finish line!

Arcadia Grit and Gravel... I finally pulled the trigger on this one and I am glad I did. The race seems to capture everything, and the layout of the course lends to some true tactic style racing.

Brad Lako and I arrived on Friday afternoon to checkout the course and get in some openers. It was very obvious that they Taylor Rd. dirt road climb was going to be my make or brake point for me in the race. It's key to be in the front 5 or so going into the single track if you want to have a chance for a win, or top overall spot. so I knew what I needed to do, but now the next thing was to figure out if I was too rested leading into the race. Only the race would tell me this..

On race day we arrived early. warmed up, and got in line for the mass start. Brad and I got pinched off from the front line. and ended up around 15 or 20 spots back. not a big deal as it was a neutral roll out. We took off and the brake taps and wheel buzzing began. We finally hit the first dirt section, and everyone exploded. I stayed near the front and the pace was hard. Legs were already burning as we hit the first real climb. The group was already breaking apart. The next climb had some really deep sand at the bottom, and this resulted in a big pile up. I just missed being taken out and made it to the back of the lead group. I stayed hear for the first half of the race. We now had a select group of about 15-20. The pace stayed high as we hit the Taylor Road climb. Half way up the climb Keegan Meyer made the first attack. It was not a big one, but it was enough to string out the pack. Brad grab his wheel and I started to slowly slip back to the last spot in the pack. By the time we made it to the top, Brad was leading going into the single track, and I was just hanging on. My HR was sky rocketing and would not come down. Once in the single track, I was too far back as slower riders were causing bottle necks. My chances to hang with the lead group were gone. But there was still a chance for a high overall finish.

I continued to push and ride my own race. The single track was fun as hell! But I was still suffering at the same time. After the single track, I was able to pick up a few spots on the 2 track and final dirt road sections. This was good. But I felt like I still did not have the best race I could have. I was just too flat and way too fresh.

After Brad told me that his group finished 5 mins ahead of me based on our Garmin times, I didn't even bother to check results for the podium. I figured I would just check when we were about to leave. As I waited to take Brad's pic of his first place, to my surprise, they called my name for 3rd place! Brad and I both started laughing... But I was happy to sneak out the last step of the podium out of 33 guys in the age group, regardless of how I felt during and after the race.

Congrats to Brad on his 2nd overall and 1st in age group, and congrats to the other Brad, Kevin, and Nick for solid results and representing KLM on the other side of the state.

I cant wait to do this race again next year. And I now know what to expect, and what I need to work on.