Monday, April 7, 2014

Lowell 50 - Classic Gravel Road Race

I can't get enough of racing on gravel roads, and the Lowell 50 is one of my favorites. It's located in some of the best rolling terrain this state has to offer. With a good mix of short steep hills. a few long grinders, and some open flat farm fields that course seems to have a little bit of everything thing for all all types of riders. Not to mention the beautiful park and backdrop of the Flat River Valley. Thanks to Jeff Z. for making this race possible.

This year mother nature decided to throw in a bit of mud, to make it a little bit more challenging. The race attendance grew, and the competition got better as well. All this made for some great racing!

I came into the race a bit tired but hungry to get back into some fast pace racing. The guys to watch were going to be Simon Bailey who put up a blistering timing at Barry-Roubaix and Adam McIntyre. And of course, there are always the unknown players as well. I got a front row start next to Adam, Simon, and Tony Baustik. We rolled out the train all the way to the historic wooden covered bridge. The pace quickened as the first few attacks came from some unknowns. We now hit the first gravel section and were coming on on one of the steepest and biggest climbs of the day. Adam made a jump and I covered as did Simon and Tony. We hit the hill at the same time. Adam and Simon Surged ahead. I was just behind with Tony. We were already blowing the field apart and I was into the red zone as well. Simon, Adam, Tom White and Tristan Greathouse were slowly slipping away from us and getting a gap. We finally crested the hill, and I had to play catch up. Tony and I were working together and soon latched back on. But before we could fully recover and get into a groove, the 2nd round of hills came. Pedal stroke by pedal stroke the gap swelled again, but they were still within site and hope. I put in my best effort, and soon found Tony was dislodged from my wheel. A few more hills and I could now see Tom and Tristan slowly coming back to me. Simon and Adam were off the front alone, but I was pinning the rest back and there was still a lot of racing left.

I continued to push and finally made contact with Tom and Tristan. We made our truce and decided to work together for the remainder of the race. All 3 of us were in different age groups, but we knew that the 3rd step of the podium for the overall and maybe more was still up for grabs. Were worked well together, and shared the load equally. By now we could not see Simon or Adam, and no one behind us as well. this gave me time to think about a strategy if I had a chance. Ton and Tristan were slightly better than I was on the hills, but the rest of the course was fair game. The problem was, there were still a lot of hills.

Since I had done the race the year before, I remembered much of the course. I knew that the after the last big climb with about 2 miles to go, it was relatively flat with only a few steep bumps. If I had a chance and was feeling good this was going to be the place. On the decent off the last hill, I was on Tristan's wheel and Tom was behind me. At the bottom of the road, we hit the nastiest muddy rutted section of the course thus far. Tristan hit a deep rut that slowed him down and threw him to the left. I managed to steer clear and stay to the right. And I knew this was my spot. I stepped on the gas! Out of the saddle and full on sprint. I was now in the upper limits of my TT pace. I took a quick peak back and saw I already had a good gap. I turned the screws just a bit more. hit the 2 small bumps with the legs already full of lactic acid. But I was still holding my gap. Finally, onto the pavement I knew I was safe and kept the pace high all the way to the line. I took the last step for 3rd in the overall 34 mile race and 1st in my age group.

Congrats to;

Simon for another blistering performance to snag another overall win!
Adam McIntyre for getting off the couch for the first time this year, and coming out just to kick my ass for a solid 2nd place overall!
To Tom and Tristan for sharing the load during the race and both taking home 1st in their age groups!
Jim Jackovatz for a solid 3rd place in his age group!
Adam York for 2nd place in the Big Kids Race!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Uleash the Kraken...

I don't have it tall anyone something they don't already know, but man this has been a really long and cold winter. But even though it seems like it will never end, somehow the Barry Roubaix came up quick and now we are finally into another season of racing! I personally can't think of a better way or race to start the cycling season off than doing this race. And this year did not disappoint! For a few moments before the race, spring decided to show its face, and set the stage for an almost perfect day of racing. Well except for the peanut butter power zapping mud that consumed most of the course. But then again, that's what this race is supposed to be about, unpredictable like the spring classic of Europe! We got a little taste of that this year for sure.

As I have been spending time trying to stay warm, between multiple hour rides outside with purple toes, and hours in the basement, I felt as if this race was like coming out of hibernation, or "unleashing the Kraken!" I was ready to do this, and ready to see what the legs were going to be able to handle. And this is how it went.

Based on my age group, we were going to be the first wave of over 2000+ racers. I felt this was going to be perfect as there would be no traffic to deal with. My plan was simple. Stay at the front at all cost, Stay with a few key fast guys if possible, don't do anything stupid. As the whistle blew, I jumped in the lead group. The pace was very slow. I chatted a bit with Alex Gonzales and Roger Bowers, and made a truce to work together for as long as possible. We turned to the first dirt section, and the pace quickened as we hit the 3 sisters hills. But still no one attacked. And the pace remained manageable. This went on for about 4 miles. Finally I decided to take a dig and went off the front. There was a group of about 30 with us at this point. I wasn't going to go for long, but just wanted to see where every one's head was. About 2 mins later, Wade Burch joined me and took a hard pull, then Roger joined as well. We fell back into the group, but now the pace was beginning to quicken. A few more miles and a few guys went off the front. A few more hills and we were all back. 3 guys still remained off the front but they were still within site. The Joe Thomas came from behind and surged to catch the group. Soon after, we hit the first of the really muddy sections! This caused a ton of confusion and slowed several of the guys down. Joe attacked and had a good gap on the other side. I surged as did Wade, Roger and few others. Through the nastiest part of the course, we had two groups off the front now. the first group was 4 riders, and I was in the 2nd with about 10 guys. We worked really well together, cycling through our pulls. This helped grow the gap a bit. And we continued to try and catch the guys in front, but they were slowly slipping away.

At about the half way point, 2 or 3 guys from the wave behind us, caught us. We were not sure who they were and decided to hop on the train. The effort got really hard at this point. We all stayed together for a few miles, until we hit the hill named the "killer". The leaders were inching there way off the front, but I was able to hang on. Well almost. When we got to the top, they gaped me. But Roger and Wade were no where around. The group I was just with was still in reach, so I buried myself to catch back on. I made contact, but as I did, I was greeted with the next big climb. This was the last time I made contact with the leaders of the group, but was able to hang with the guys that fell off the back end.

We all tried to surge forward as hard as we could. I could not see anyone from behind giving chase, so I continue to focus on trying to bring back anyone else that may have popped from the first lead group in my wave. There were a few, and we swept them up and passed them one by one. Finally, we made it to the last paved section before heading into town. But not before 1 last big climb. I was with one other guy at this point and we were both evenly matched on the climbs and flats. We headed into the town and into the chute. He took the inside line and down the hill. I tried to come around in the last second, but missed the sprint by less than a foot.

In the end I took home 3rd in my age group, and 23rd overall in the 36 mile race. I had a very hard solid effort, and felt like my training is on track. So the first race is in the books, and I can't wait to do the next one! I am completely in a different frame of mind than where I was last year, so hopefully it will all pay off for me.

Congrats to;

Steve Broglio for taking the win in the 62 mile pro race! WOW!
Mike Simonson and Adam York for taking the race down to a sprint to decide the win with Steve!

Simon Bailey for absolutely crushing everyone for 1st overall!!!!!
Mike Seaman for 3rd in Single Speed
Alex Gonzales for 5th
Ryan Katulic for 3rd
Roger Bowser for 5th
Pam Bufe for 3rd Ladies Single Speed
Jmak and Tom Clark for a CXC pair of 5th's
Jesse Gould for 2nd and almost taking a top 10 overall!

All the KLM boys, Jeff, Brad, Joe, and Todd for stepping and putting out some great efforts in the Big boy race!

And I have to apologize for my poor podium etiquette (especially to Adam York). It wont happen again. Early season mistake.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Give yourself a chance, then take it!

This hobby of mine has completely consumed me since 2006. And of all the years, this one has been different. I struggled to find the drive for the better part of the season and it showed. I was fat, tired, and just plain not having fun. It hit rock bottom in July at Brighton where I tipped 200lbs. and had one of the worst races in my life. Not fun. So here is a recap of my season. No pics of bling, just the highs, lows, and what I learned.

I had some early glimmers of success, with my highest finish at BRX with 4th. I took the overall win and age group win on the short edition of Lowell 50, and finished with my best result as an Expert to date at the Stony Marathon with 3rd. But it was not enough... I wasn't having fun, I developed a hip flexor injury, and just felt like poo.

After some soul searching and driving everyone around me nuts asking for advice and crying on shoulders. I finally pulled the plug! Stopped riding... Skipped races (for the first time ever)... Healed up a bit... Cleaned up my diet and refocused.

First stop after making these adjustments was O2S. For the first time this year, I was feeling the fire burning again. I did not know what to expect since I was going from a week off the bike to racing for 48 miles! But I really didn't give a shit! And I was happy. In the end, I finished up making my goal of top 100 and I was happy, and finally feeling good. I was able to stay up in the UP and ride my bike on some of the best trails in the world with no limits, no plans, and no cares! And it was great. This is when I fell in love with my hobby again. The stage was set and I was ready. By this time, I was also losing the weight. So at 22 lbs. lighter I was feeling good.

For the rest of the year I had a re-newed focus, a good plan, and great advice from Jeff and Brad to help me identify and correct training mistakes I made earlier in the year. From here on out, my season took a 360 degree change for the better. When I got back from the UP, I entered the Ruby 50 since it was in my back yard and was looking to get in some longer miles any way. I took 2nd overall, and 1st in my age group. Next stop was the last XC mountain bike race of the season. Tailwind Stony XC. I ended up taking 1st there as well. This was my 1st USAC XC MTB win since moving up to expert! From here, the CX season was ready to begin, and I was not sure what to expect. I was approaching the season a little different. Start out slow, and get a good solid fitness base to work off of. Then finish off strong! In addition, I really wanted to focus on winning the ICEMAN this year. So I decided to focus more on that, and just let the chips fall where they will with the early CX season.

At Ithaca, I rolled a tubular and finished last. Not the start I was hoping for. I then got 4th at Waterford day 1. Better, but not feeling like I had the extra gears to attack. Day 2 - a puncture flat... Really? I continued to put in the hours of training. When I got to Mad Anthony, I didn't realize I was buried from training and shit the bed! DFL! I thought I blew it. My ICEMAN chances were done! My season was done! ugh! But reviewing my HR data told me what I needed to do. Take a break! This is something that was very hard to learn. Learn how to recover properly. So I did. And leading up to ICEMAN I was back on track and finally got a win! Since I finally accomplished my goal that I have been chasing for several years, I was now ready to focus 100% on CX, and I had a boat load of fitness to put into it! I took 3 consecutive wins at Vets Park and Bloomer Day 1 and 2! This was a first for me at any level of CX racing! And I was now in a good position to take a crack at the overall title in Masters 35+. Going into the State Championship race, I was still feeling good and really wanted to come home with a 35-39 State title. An early crash in the race left me chasing the leaders until the end, but I did enough work to fend off anyone that was under 40, and reached another goal.

It was not a perfect season, but I don't know if any truly are. But its the most wins I have ever racked up with 7! And one was huge with ICEMAN. I learned a lot about training, and even more about myself and what I can achieve if I put my mind to it. When I pulled the plug in the summer, I came up with a mantra that I kept telling myself over and over again. "Give yourself a chance, then take it!" This has really helped and is really true for anything you do. If you never give yourself a chance, how will you know what can be accomplished? But you got to take the risk, and take the chance as well in order to see it through.

So that's my season.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Michigan Cyclocross State Championship! - Addison Oaks

The last dance. It's really been an incredible CX season. At least for the Masters 35+ Class. I don't ever remember as much consistent talent week after week as there has been this year. I said in week 1, that there were 10 legit guys that could win a race in this class any given week! And that never changed - all the way to till the end. We all threw blows, rubbed wheels, cut lines, hooked bars, drew blood, and finished each race by giving hugs . All season long we were each other's biggest fans and I believe each of us left it all on the course each week until the end. This is what made coming into the state championship special. It was still going to be any one's race to win.

The day was cold! In the mid teens cold. But the anticipation on racing made the numb fingers and toes feel natural. It wasn't going to matter. There was only 60 more mins of suffering left in 2013, so the cold was the least of concerns.

I was excited and nervous at the same time. My experience has taught me this is a good thing, as long as you can control it. I did my best, and just made sure I got a good warm up in. I went for a ride on the rock solid frozen course with JMAK. I had on my Grifos, and in the first few corners I found myself on my ass. JMAK yelled "Its just practice! Come on!" This made my nerves worse! I finished a lap, and went to the truck and put the lucky Dugast Rhinos back on that have severed me well since Vet's Park. This helped but buy the ground was still unpredictable and full of surprises in every turn!

We all lined up behind the elites and took off like scared Deer! The pace was crazy fast and the carnage began in the first few off camber corners. I got a poor start but was content with just sitting in. I could See Steve B leading the pack of masters with Wade, Andy, and Brian just behind. Simon was with me along with JMAK. We picked our way through some slower riders, and I was feeling good. Lap 2, the course opened up a bit, and we started to move. Simon, JMAK and myself were closing in on the lead group that contained Alex and Steve. Halfway through the lap, we came up on Alex and Steve laying on the ground with bikes tangled! It was a mess. Alex appeared to be hurt as well. A young elite rider took them both out! We were now even closer to the front. JMAK now made his first move. He got a small gap, but I was able to cover. Simon and a few others were not able to hang on. 3/4 of the way through the 3rd lap. JMAK and I caught Brain and Wade who were now the leaders of the Masters 35+ There pace had slowed quite a bit, so we were above to sit in and recover. I was still feeling good and was waiting for an opportunity to pounce. The in one of the slight off camber turns, my front tire found a frozen slippery rut and I went down! In the process I shattered my buckle on my Left shoe! UGH! Not good! I got back up and saw that I went from lead group to chasing from about 7-10th. Don't panic, plenty of time. I kept telling myself. This left me lighting a lot of matches, but I knew what I had to do. I picked off the guys in my class one by one. Finally after about 2 more laps, I finally caught everyone but JMAK who was pouring it on and was going to be difficult to catch. I sat in for moment and looked for an opportunity. On the beginning of the next lap. Wade decided he needed to go. I followed. Brian could not hold, and Simon was back even farther, along with a charging Todd Greene. Soon after Wade washed out in front of me in one of the tricky turns. I just barley missed him and went through clean. I was now in 2nd (leading the 35-39 State title race) I made a few more attacks to open up some more room and try to pull back JMAK. After the barriers I had a nice gap. And then Alex made it back on my wheel! Where the hell and how did he get here? AMAZING!!!! I thought. He soon pulled by. I hung on to his wheel for as long as I could but it was not going to happen today. He was on a mission!

I was still in a great position and feeling good even after the additional work I had to do to get near the front again. I knew that Alex and JMAK were both over 40, so I may not be able to win the race, but I was in position to win my first Master 35-39 State Championship title, and possible the overall series title. My goal was to keep my gap and continue to apply pressure to everyone behind me without making mistakes! I rode hard and smooth. The crowd was amazing and loud near the KLM tent and barriers each lap, and this just motivated me to go as hard as possible.

Through the sand, one last time, I knew I had done enough and just rode out the last few corners of the lap. I held on to a solid 3rd, but finally won a Masters 35-39 State Championship Title!

Congrats to Alex on the 40-45 State title, last race win, and series overall! You deserved it.
Congrats to JMAK on a solid season end - You never give up and I love it!
Congrats to Simon, Brain, Andy, Ray, Todd, Brad, Pete, Wade, and all the other Masters 35+ Players for an outstanding season from all of you.
Congrats to Sven, Kelly, JB, Dave Z, Tom B on their state titles.
Congrats to Dennis W, and Mark C on their State podiums.

Thank you Tailwind for providing some great racing in out state, and KLM for support during the race. Especially Brad for working the pits!

Thanks to my Mom and Dad for coming out and supporting me at all the races. Even in the nastiest of weather conditions!

Thanks again Mike's Mix, Macomb Bike, and Apto Studio for all your support all year long!

Time for a much needed break.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bloomer CX Day 1 and 2

With a turn of events 2 days before what was going to be LOHS CX Day 1 and 2 left the Tailwind Racing crew scrambling to find and venue to hold the races. Luckily the City of Rochester opened their arms and let the crew land at none other than Bloomer Park. Not only was this a good venue and close to the original plan, the Tailwind crew could of just hurried up and laid out the same of typical Bloomer course that had been used year after year. But know, they decided to change it up. Break tradition, and laid out one of the best courses in my opinion that Michigan has seen from Tailwind in a while. I have to say what they pulled off in 2 days was amazing.

Day 1 - It was cold. And windy. And then the mud came... Perfect! But I was a little worried about my fingers going numb and not being able to feel the shifters and brakes. I actually borrowed a pair of Specialized Radiant gloves from KLM owner Frank, and they were perfect!

I was finally ready to go, and shivering waiting for the whistle. It blew and we sprinted for the first sharp right hand turn. Instantly everyone was on the brakes, and the next thing I new I was buzzing all the mud off of Alex's tire. It felt like it was going on forever. All I could think was I was getting ready to wreck everyone! Luckily, this kind of stuff doesn't freak me out, and I kept it up. Close call, and I made sure I instantly apologized to everyone around. from there I settle right in. Ben Christan, Alex, Brain and Andy all had great starts and were a few seconds ahead of me. I bridge back to them by the time we made it to the sled hill climb on the 1st lap. I was feeling great. On the beginning of the 2nd lap, I could feel the guys were already feeling it from the effort. So I decided to roll the dice and test some legs. I sprinted out of the pack hard and down the paved starting straight. I eased up and took a peek. to my surprise no one was with me, and only Pete Thompson reacted and began to chase me. I instantly settled into my a nice hard tempo pace and drove hard lap after lap. I continued to grow the gap between Pete and myself a few seconds each lap, with the main focus of riding smooth. It was enough. I got another win!

Day 2 - All the same players were back for more! It was even colder but not as much wind. I had a much better and cleaner start. Sitting in the top 3 with JMACK and Pete. Pete was riding hard and JMACK was showing signs he could go at any time. Alex was riding better as well, and with the course being frozen solid vs muddy, it appeared that we would be racing closer throughout the day. 2 laps in we are still riding wheel to wheel. But there a some small signs on the climbs that the effort is slowly beginning to wear folks down. As we come down the paved starting straight, I decided to test the legs and drive the front. I put the pressure on and JMACK and Pete hang on. It's the 3rd lap now, and we are breaking the rest of the pack up and mixing in with elites. Alex flats before the sled hill. We get to the bottom, turn to start climbing and my chain is completely off! UGH! I don't panic and try to shift it back on. No luck! I try again. JMACK yells "get it back on!". I had to get off and put it on by hand. I lose between 15-20 seconds. Jarod and Pete are now gone, and the rest of the Masters 35+ have all came but came by me now as well. I run back up the hill and start my charge. I'm in about 7th place now! But I still didn't panic. Lots of time left. I pushed as hard as I could for the rest of the lap catching all but Pete and Jarod before the 4th lap. By now JMACK recognized this was a great chance to secure the lead. He was at least 30 seconds ahead of Pete now. I continued to work hard each lap and finally caught and passed Pete. JMACK was all that was left.

I knew this was going to be tough. When JMACK smells blood, there are few people that are as hard to beat as him. He will not give up that easy! Lap after lap I stayed consistent and took back 10 or so seconds each lap. Finally with 2 laps to go, I caught him. I sat in for about 1/2 lap to recover a bit, and then turned the screws. I could not shake him through any of the technical hair pin turns, or single track sections, so I relied on attacking at the sled hill and paved climb after. It worked I opened a small gap with 1 lap to go. I settled into a nice hard paced groove, but always made sure I knew where he was. Because after all, he is JMACK and the dude never gives up! But it was enough to hold him off... this time. I pulled off my first double win weekend ever!

Thanks to the KLM team for setting up base camp with a heated tent and offering support to everyone! Much appreciated.

Thanks again to Frank for the Gloves
Thanks Bob Bruce for use of the photos

Next stop Michigan CX State Championship!!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Still Rolling Strong - Vet's Park CX

After a great Iceman, I am finally ready to focus back on the type of racing I love, and go all in! It's back to Cyclocross 100%! It's great to be this deep into the year, and still be excited about racing. And to make it even better, I was able to race at one of my favorite venues once again - Veteran's Park in Ann Arbor.

On race day, I was ready to turn myself inside out to chase at least one CX win before the end of the season. Most the normal guys were all lined up and the whistle blew! We were off. The start was very congested and chaotic. Leaning on everyone just to try and avoid crashes and get into position before the paved climb and into an early technical section. I got jammed up early and was sitting behind the mid pack point. But I knew where everyone was and just waited. As we moved through the course, I made several 5 second all out burst to get around folks one by one. Near the end of the first lap, I was within the top 5 group containing Simon Bailey, Ben Christian, Andy Fedewa, and Todd Greene. Brain Wachlarz had a great start and was actually leading the Elite group at this point! By this time, DC, Steve Broglio, Shawn Davison and Jim Hilditch was in the group as well. I felt it was time to make a move, so I rolled the dice and attacked to test the legs but to also, get myself out of any trouble. Only Don, Shawn and Steve were able to respond. Brain, was now out of the top 3 Elite Group and all alone and within striking distance. I continued to push myself on the edge of the red zone. Within 2 more laps, I pulled away for DC, Shawn and Steve and was pulling back Brain 1 second at a time. We continued like this lap after lap. He was just the carrot I needed to stay focused and push myself to the limit. With 3 laps to go, I finally caught him near the end of the lap up the long switch back climb. I was gassed from the effort, but knew what I needed to do if I wanted to give myself a chance for the win. I spent the rest of the lap just trying to recover and get ready to make my next move.

Through the beginning of the 2nd lap, I was content just staying on his wheel. We went through the technical off camber section clean and down the hill one last time. Now was my chance to attack and see where he was at. Through the long flat, bumpy straight away behind the baseball diamonds, I laid it down. Out of the saddle I sprinted around Brain all out. The gap formed instantly. I turned the screws harder through every corner and every hill. I had a nice lead going into the last lap. I was still feeling strong and focused on maintaining the lead, and not making any mistakes. It worked! I was able to cross the line by myself for my first CX win of the year!

Thanks Brain for the great battle! This is one I will remember.

Congrats to Todd Greene on an outstanding 3rd. And Congrats to Tom Barret for a dominating win in the Cat 3s!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ICEMAN Cometh 2013!

If you have had a conversation with me in the past few months about Iceman, at some point I'm sure I mentioned that I wanted to win it this year. For most races that I enter, I don't normally call a race out as "I want to win" or "I am going for the win". Sure I want to win every race I enter, and always try to give it my best shot, but in the end, I realize that my competition wants it too, and the races and categories I race in are full of guys that that are as good and in most cases, better, faster, and stronger. But this time I had the focus, I had the plan, the confidence, the experience, and the hunger for trying to cash it all in for 30 miles to win my age category at ICEMAN Cometh.

In the weeks prior, I had been really trying to focus on training for the event. Actually to the point, that I probably side tracked some of cross races. But this is one of the biggest cycling events in the state, the country, North America! And I have been the brides maid 2 years, and wanted to finally get a big one under my belt. at this point I knew I could win this damn thing, but everything needed to click!

Things were going well and I was feeling good the week of the race. I was feeling relaxed but excited to get up to TC, and go through the yearly festive rituals. DC and I headed up early Friday morning and it rained the entire time! This could be a really good sign, as the course is usually really loose and sandy. So some rain would make it fast! We met up with Mike Wissink and got a mid day pre-ride in at the end of the course. Yup, it was fast and dialed, and the forecast was beginning to look better for the start of the race.  Also, my legs were feeling strong and snappy! I could not wait to race! We settled in at the expo for a few hours, and then prepped the bikes and gear for an early morning departure.

Race day - It was still sprinkling when we got up. Temps in the low 40s and it was perfect for my 8th shot at an ICEMAN win. This year I had a detailed plan. Be on the front row. Make it through the middle school fence in the top 15 group. Hit the first section on 2 track up the sandy climb in the top 10 group. and hang on to DC's wheel to the end! In addition, Brad and I were going to try and work with each other for the entire race is we were both on form.

I got a quick pre-ride in and rode to the start line about 20 mins before. Perfect on the front row right next to DC, and Brad at my side. Also, being in Wave #1, I was surrounded by fast as hell guys like Jarod Makowski, Mike Wissink, Cory Stange, Rob Selle, etc. So finding fast wheels early in case I had to pull out a plan B would be easy. The clock counted down and we were off! The buzz of knobby tires was deafening! There was instant chaos as guys were leaning on each other, Rubbing elbows, buzzing wheels and flat out cutting each other off all at 25 mph! I stayed near the front, and pedaled hard. As we turned to the middle school, I made my way up to the Sharp end of the peloton to avoid any bottle necks through the hole in the fence. I went through with Brad and DC clean! 1st goal accomplished. we then hit the 2 track sitting somewhere in the top 10-15. Things were going well, and DC and Brad were near by. There were some big mud puddles to work around that made things interesting at times, but I was still able to push the pace hard and stay with the lead group. A few more miles in, guys were starting to pop on some of the early climbs. We would pick them off one by one. And then at times, a few other guys would crash and go down in the slick corners. I had to avoid several crashes in front of me. A few miles before Williamsburg Rd., a group of 5 riders containing DC, Mike and a few others were off the front with a huge acceleration. Brad and I settled into our own group with Cory Stange and Jamie Parker along a few others. Brad and I controlled the pace, and worked to take pulls for the rest of the race. We were ticking like a Swiss watch! It was perfect. It also gave us a chance to talk and encourage each other along the way. When we got to Williamsburg Rd., Brad was on the front and signaled that he was going to make a dig, He accelerated up the next few climbs and I followed. Then when we hit the flat section, I came around and took a really hard pull. This shattered everyone that was with us expect for Jamie, and a small group of riders was just ahead of us. Jamie made a move to get around us and try to bridge the gap to the next group. Shortly after a rider in a casual green t-shirt came from behind and around us. Not realizing it was Ty Schmidt, we let him go. This is probably the only mistake we made all day.

We continued to lay down the hardest pace we could and finally caught the group that was dangling in front of us. It made the pace even faster. This group contained 2 Hagerty racers, and not knowing if one of them was Ty, Brad had to be aggressive and begin throwing in attacks. I stayed near the back and was ready to help cover any moves if needed. I was on my limit as the biggest climbs of the race were upon us. With about 2 K to go. One of the Hagerty guys made a move. I jumped to chase him down, and yelled at Brad "You gotta go!" He jumped and came up behind me and onto the Hagerty riders wheel. We were all back together again. Through the tunnel near the finish line, and back out to the final slick section on single track, I was completely spent! Knowing we had a huge gap, no one for me to chase down in my age group, I was content to roll across the line knowing I did everything I could to try to get my 1st ICEMAN win...

We rode well. In fact it may have been the best performance both of us has ever had. I gave Brad a hug and thanked him for his help! We both thought we had done enough. Hell we were right behind DC, and Wissink at the end. How could that not be enough? And we realized we just finished in the top 10 of wave one! It had to be enough. Then we found out the the guy in the green t-shirt was Ty. So it was a bitter sweet celebration for Brad and I knowing we let him slip away. But that is racing.

Once the results were posted and sorted out, it was confirmed! I did it! I was an ICEMAN Champ! And I beat my nemesis Ross Clark by almost the same 3 min margin he be me last year. I was stoked. I finally was able to lay out a very, very hard personal goal and achieve it down to every last detail!

Thanks for everyone that has cheered me on along the way and helped offer their encouragement, advice, and support. It means a lot to me.

Special thanks to Jeff and Brad for helping me along the way to actually get to this point and pull it off! You both helped keep my head screwed on straight and stay focused since I pulled the plug in July and got back on track. So thanks again.

Finally, thanks to Macomb Bike and Mike's Mix, and Apto Cycling for all the support you have given me throughout the year. Knowing I got support like you behind me makes all this easier!

Congrats to;

DC - another ICEMAN win!
Mike Wissink - another SS ICEMAN win!
Joe Sidel - 1st ICEMAN win!
Alex Gonzales - 1st ICEMAN win or 2nd place! (still pending offical word)
Pat Russel - Best even ICEMAN Finish with 2nd!
Brad Lako - first ever ICEMAN podium with 2nd! But it was much more than just a 2nd. It was the icing on a great season. And the spark to go after Ty for the win next year!

Congrats to everyone else for other podiums, personal, best or just finishing. there are so many I want to call out, but you will get a personal congrats the next time I see you!