Sunday, September 28, 2008

More of my Favorite Photos From Ithaca

Again, thanks to Captain Curt for the great photos!

Grassroots CX, Ithaca Style!

Man what a great event! The Ithaca Grand Prix of Cyclocross is now one of my favorite CX races in the state of Michigan. If you have never done this event -- do it next year. Brain Hancock has carved out a niche race in the middle of Michigan located in Woodland Park in Downtown Ithaca. What a great venue to hold a CX race. The course was tough and hilly, the prizes were great and the entire event had a really awesome underground / grassroots feel. Way to go Brain and everyone that helped out to make this event happen. It is already on my schedule for next year!

As for the racing, the TSB crew was out in full force! We had Benny, Todd, Nolan, me and Curt snapping way at pictures all day. Todd and I cleaned house in the Cash Primes for the hole shot. I lead out the C-class for the sprint across the line and pocketed $10.00. Todd, raced B-class and jumped off the line and beat all the B-class roadies to the line snatched up the $15.00 purse! This helped us fill up the tank and get. home.

The rest of my race went well, I held the lead for most of the first lap, but spent my legs a little from going after the prime. I was able to hang on to the leader after that, but half way through my second lap, my tires slipped out on a off camber down hill that lead to a steep up hill. With no momentum to pedal up the hill, I was forced to dismount and run. The leader saw me slip and pushed to create a gap - he did, and I spent hell trying to catch him for the rest of the race. When I slipped one other rider caught me, but I soon was able to put a gap back into him as I worked on reeling back the leader. We did 4 laps, and I could not catch back up. I finished with a respectable 2nd and a good lead in a field of 9. This was a training day for me, but of course it was a race so I felt I gave it my best effort.

As I mentioned above Nolan raced. But not the kids race. Yep, that's right he raced in C- Junior men 14 and under. This is his first USAC sanctioned race and he is only 6. What a trooper! He cleaned all the barriers, ran up the steps, ran through the sand, and pushed his bike up all the hill he could not climb all on his own. In addition, he was able to put in 2 laps in 30 mins.!!! WOW! And the high light for him and me was to see him get called up to stand on the podium in front of everyone with a huge round of applause! Way to go Nolan....

Then rest of the boys did well considering both Todd and Ben stepped up and raced in the B-class for the first time. An Extra 15 mins of pain. Todd, finished 9th and was hanging with the top 5 for about 3 laps. Benny was off to a good start and looked clam and consistent until he had his seat adjust itself to an uncomfortable position which forced him to the pits. But he jumped back in the game, caught a few folks that passed him and finished the entire race. Way to go guys.

And Curt. Curt did not race because of a nagging knee injury. But still decided to register and support the event. Curt's Registration paid off. He still won and set of Maxxis Raze tires and Jagwire Pro cables. Sweet and check out all the great pictures I now have from Curt and his new camera for my blog!

Well that's about it for now. Next week is a recovery week for me. So I hope the legs will be fresh for Stony, then I will go into my Build 2 the following week. I really think training is going well, so I will just keep plugging away!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cyclocross season is here! Double-cross UCI Weekend!

I use to hate the season change from summer to fall. Everything is dying, it is usually damp, cold, and the sun sets too damn early. When I was a kid it meant going back to school. When I got older it meant watching football (which is cool) but also staying inside until next spring, and continue to get fatter and lazier. And then is 2006, I discovered cyclocross and I have not looked at the fall season quite the same ever since. In fact, the very things I once dreded about fall are now the very things I look forward to in racing cyclocross. Because without the fall colors, rain, snow, mud, wind, and below frezzing temperatures while trying to ride your bike around in your underwear -- what fun would cyclocross be? So here we go, get ready for the next 4 months of enjoyable pain!

So the Season kicked off with the KTR Doublecross UCI weekend. A lot of big name pros raced like Jon Page and Steve Tilford which is always the highlight of the weekend. But this race also attracts folks from around the midwest because of the UCI tag. So it increases the field sizes and lets you know just how you are stacking up against other folks in the region.

I came out again this year in C-class (I have some unfinished business from last year). I am fresh off a greuling mountain bike season, so I decided to take some reat and train for cross only. I have recently read the "Mountain Biker's Training Bible", and have learned a lot about myself and how to train. What a great book! To help with cross season, and applying the principles learned, Brian Hancock last years State B-class champion has agreed to help me with a training plan. So I am looking forward to seeing how this plan helps my season. I I will report my progress in addition to my race reports and results. OK, so enough of that stuff lets get to the racing.

Day 1 - I was ready. In my training plan this is not a peak race but a good hard training day. But it is a race none the less, so I was going to give it my beast effort. The class was huge 39 guys! I lined up fron row and took 3rd in the hole shot. I was able to maintain a high cadence and began to put a gap into the field behind me. The problem was the 9 guys in front of me were putting a gap over me too. So I contiuned to push and felt really good. It was not my strongest race but it was consistent. The only mistakes I had were 2 off camber crashes (see pic) The grass was wet and slippery that 1st day, but the crash did not result in any lost position. I finished a respectable 10th. Not bad for the 1st race in a field of 39.

Day 2 - The only thing on my mid was improve. I took 3rd into the hole shot again, but my legs were filling with lactate acid sooner. And I drifted off the lead group sooner. I thought I was falling apart, then I looked back and did not see anyone. This was encouraging, I was doing better than I thought so I continued to push. At the start of my second lap, Joe (TSB team mate) yelled from the crowd "your in 8th". OK I am doing better! And I could see a small group of riders just ahead. lets see that would make 7th, 6th, oh shit 5th palce is right in front of me. This was the carrot I needed. I kicked it up a notch to catch them. As I pushed I would check behind me. I saw Jason Melecosky coming from behind. Jason finished a respectable 12th in day one in his first ever CX race and was hot on my heels today. Finally he caught me with half of the 3rd lap gone. I was excited at his progress and encouraged him to keep going. This also, helped me because we were able to work together to catch the group in front. Jason had just a little more kick than I did that day. As we caught the 5th place group, jason was able to pull ahead of them and sprint up the final hill and create about a 7 sec. gap. I was able to hang on and finish with 6th, 7th, and I took 8th. I did better than the day before and the field size was 36. So again not bad. The good news is Jason took his first top 5 at a CX race! And what a race to do it in. Way to go Jason. My training is still on track, and the results I put up last weekend are about where I should be. I can only get better....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Every Second Counts....

After 4 solid months of training, 6 months of racing, 8 tough XC mountain bike races, a tie for points out of the best five finishes from those races, a who beat who the most, to a who beat who last race of the series finale.... It all came down to 1 second to decide who would be the USAC Michigan XC Mountain Bike Series State Champion for Sport Men 30-34.

So here we are again. Adam and I. Trying to figure out who is going to finally crack, who is going to crash, flat, or just not show up. Wouldn't that be nice? I'm sure we were both playing out the race in the past 2 weeks in our heads. Should I go out fast? Sit on his wheel for the entire race? Try to attack early or late? It went on and on. But we were finally here. At Stony Creek to see who would be crowned the XC State Champ. It has been a great year for both of us. We have battled each other in every race. Most to the bitter end. And have traded top results back and forth. Hell, we have even helped each other during races to plot against other racers. And through it all, I the best thing we both have gained is a lot of respect for each other and a friendship that will last a long time. But for this day it was still racing!

We lined up at the start. My heart was pounding just waiting to go. Normally we line up next to each other to chat and laugh before the start to ease the nerves. But not today. I don't know if we even made eye contact at the line. Going into the race, my strategy was going to be go out as fast as I can and hop on Brian Crook's wheel. This has worked all season against Adam so why would it fail now right? Well the whistle blew and we were off. DAMN IT! I can't clip in. I look up and sure enough, Brian is off like a rocket! And there is Adam on his wheel. OH SHIT! I gotta boogy! Adam was pushing like I never seen him push before at a start of a race. Later I found out that he figured I would hop on Brian's wheel and go so he would do the same. Well, the pace was high but I was bringing him back on the flats. By the time we got to the "Pines" I was about 25 yards back. Then he crashed just before the rock garden. It was a bad one too. He dropped his bottle and glasses. But one problem his bike was laying across the trail just before the edge of the rock garden. So me and about 2 other riders were forced to take the longer bypass. By the time we made it back the the primary trail, Adam had regrouped and was back on his bike. But now we were racing side by side. I jumped on his wheel and let him continue to set the pace. I could see he was shaken and in a lot of pain from the crash. At one point his pace even slowed a bit so I pulled up along side and made sure he was OK. He said he was but was in alot of pain, so I told him to hop on and I would pace to get his mind off his injury. We then took a few turns to set the pace throughout the race. On the last lap just after the 1st half of the "roller coaster", Adam was pulling and I got my front wheel caught up in a rut sending me off the trail. This set me back about 200 yrds. So now I had to work again. Adam looked back once to see where I was, and began to pick up the pace. As I was reeling him back, he started sprinting up the hill on the double track into the "pines". This was a good move because in front of me were 2 slower beginner riders. I recognized what he was trying to do so I made my move to get back to him here. There was no way I was going to allow 2 slower riders to separate us in the single track after what happened at Pontiac Lake. So right before the beginning of the "pines" I was on his wheel again. He was surprised. We pushed through the pines again and were back on the single track. Before the 2nd half of the roller coaster, Adam said, "OK how about you take a turn?" with about 3 1/2 miles to go. Well it was my turn. I said, "I see what your up to". But I went up front and pulled. The last thing I wanted to do was go into a sprint at the end in first position. But this is what was going to happen and I knew it. But I was feeling good and was ready for the challenge. We climbed the last big hill of the day and with about 1-11/2 miles to go, I used my back up strategy. I began to push the last mile in the big ring as fast as I could hoping to put him in the red zone and create a gap before the final sprint if I was going to be in first position. I felt great. Feeding off the adrenaline, I pushed faster and faster. I could not hear him behind me anymore, but I could not look behind me either. I popped out of the woods and all the spectators seen us coming. A lot of folks knew what they were about to see and were screaming and cheering as loud as they could. THAT WAS AWESOME! With a few small corners to negotiate, I could see the finish line. I was listening for the clicking of gears to let me know if an attack was coming from behind. Adam had the prime position going into the final sprint if he was on my wheel. Then out the corner of my left eye - there he was standing and popping gears. He attacked with about 60 feet to go. I tried to counter but he had at least 2 full pedal strokes in the standing position before I could get out of the saddle. He barley pulled ahead and I began to reel him back again... it was too late....

Adam 1:38:34.223

Me 1:38:35.006

The series was decided by 1 second. Adam is the 2008 XC State Champ.

Adam was so spent he jumped off his bike with out stopping and fell to the ground holding his legs in absolute pain. I walked over to him, he looked up and put his hand out. I opened both my arms and gave him a big man hug. What I just witnessed was awesome and to be apart of it was almost as good as winning myself. Congratulations Adam, you deserve it.

As for me, Not all was lost. This is my 2nd year taking 2nd in the series. I was crowned the time trial series Champ so together, we spilt the 2 series. I took a few first place finishes for the first time in Sport, and I beat personal best times at almost ever race. And finally, I gained some great friendships.

So now it is off to cyclocross. A little break and then the building process begins for a few more podium finishes.