Sunday, November 23, 2008

Racking up another at Bloomer CX!

Well I am on a roll. I actually nailed another CX win, and I did it at Bloomer! Just like Munson, This has not been a good place for me to race cx in the past few years. So I had a score to settle. I have been feeling great the past few weeks. Right on top of my game. So drive down this morning, I had confidence on my side. The Weather as bitter cold. It was below 20 degrees at the start of the race. The ground was covered in frost and slippery. My warm up included a long stay in the car with the heater on until about 5 mins before the start of the C-race. When the whistle blew, I crank over a few pedal strokes and took the hole shot! Through the grass, around the turn and up the slight 2 track climb, back onto the tarmac and away to the barriers. Before I go any farther, I could not help but notice all the spectators out today! And they were all noisy! Made for a great race and kept me going in these less than desirable conditions. So WAY TO GO, AND THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT! As I continued to push through the course, I was gain a huge lead over the field except for none other than the OX! Jason Melecosky and a flying Rhino. I was sitting in front thinking, My form is as good as it is going to be so it is my race to lose. So I just kept pushing as hard as I can. Maybe too hard at first. As I rounded one of the corners that lead back into the single track behind the velodrome, my tires slipped out and I landed hard on the ground. After taking a quick inventory of the bike and myself to make sure we were OK, I hoped back on the bike and took off. By this time Jason caught me and now was in front. I told him to go, go, go, and attack on the paved stuff. He lead through the second lap and we worked together. It was enough to the break the Rhino rider and put some more time into the rest of the field. On the last lap I tired to attack in the beginning to see if the OX was wearing down. I opened up a gap and though it might be enough. But by the time I got to the twisty pine tree section, He reeled me back. Knowing that I was not going to out fox him, I figured I would save some energy and let it come down to the final sprint. As we made our way through the rest of the course we lined up side by side in the last 1000 m straight away! The RPM ramped up. Jason would pull ahead, then I would pull ahead, back and forth, back and forth. The quads and lungs were searing! But I still felt like there was more. As the line approached I tried a few more hard kicks to just pull ahead and the final lunge for the line ------ photo finish.

The USAC judge came over smiling and said that was great. And then told me my front wheel was the first across the line by about 3 inches. That was exciting racing! Great job Jason.

What the transponder said:
Me -- 28:03:844
OX -- 28:03:885

I raced in the B's again in the Single speed class and had another good effort. This was the largest SS CX class this year with 7. The high light of my race was beating Mark Becker. He beat me up all year in the MTB time trial series in the single speed class after I had already raced my geared bike. So I had one more chance to get him before the end of the year. On the first lap heading into the finishing area, I was on Marks wheel and he took the transition from the dirt, to the wood chips, to the 90 degree corner onto the pavement to sharp and went down like a ton of bricks. I then turned up the gas and went as hard as I could. I put in a huge gap and maintained a hard effort for the rest of the race and coasted home for very respectable 3rd place.

TSB had a good crowd out there today. Todd L, Curt P ( back in action. way to go curt!) Benny M, Jay S. And the Schneider fan club. YOU GUYS ROCK! Thanks for cheering us on!

And my coach! JB Hancock. I keep saying this but I could have not gotten this far this season without your help. And you rocked out there today. Looked strong. And remember what you keep telling me. "focus on the long term goal".

So one more race to go 2 weeks from now. A week to rest and my form is at it's best! I hope I can carry it to Waterford with me. So you all then

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Still on form with first CX win!

I finally done it. After 3 years of racing cyclocross I finally took home 1st place in C-men under 39. And I did it in commanding fashion. This was race #7 in the Tailwind Series at Munson Park in Monroe, Mi. Munson is your typical roadie style CX course. Flat with long straight aways and only a huge sled hill in the middle that the course winds over several times. But today was different. Prior to the race, it had rained for about 48 hours straight and the forecast was to be below freezing, windy, and snow. Add that to an already water saturated course and you got a anyone can win CX race. But not today. I was ready for Munson it has eaten me up in the past 2 years. It is a spin to win course and coming from a mountain bike racing background, I am a natural masher (sorry mike). But with the help of JB Hancock's training tips, and my focus on the fundamentals, and a great finish at Iceman -- I WAS READY FOR MUNSON!!!

After 2 freezing cold warm up laps it was time to race. I would be racing my new Challenge Grifo clinchers and I am glad I made the choice to use them because they grip like no one's business! So the whistle blew and I jumped off the line and took the hole shot. I made it up the first climb and raced down the other side. Through the 1st set of barriers and back up the hill, down again and back up. This time I could finally see the pack behind me. Holy s**t! I had a huge gap, and I was feeling great. I turned the screws a little more and increased my lead. On the second and 3rd laps, I actually backed it off a little and decided to focus on a smooth race as the course conditions began to get slick. By the time I was coming through the final climb, down through the off camber down hill and back up the log run up, there was no one around. I raced back down the hill around the pond and coasted home with both arms in the air for the first time in a CX race!

So after a quick spin, I focused on staying warm, and lined back up in the B-class for the Single speed race. When the race started it began to snow and snow hard. It was almost a white out! The course was getting slick as hell and snow was caking up my tires, which made it difficult to climb the hills with a 34X16. As I pushed on, the snow was starting to stick to my shoes, then my legs, and finally soaking my skin suit. I was not having much fun now as I was getting really cold quick. I had to dismount and run a few of the hills at the end, and the bike and I were starting to get covered in mud from head to toe. Around the pond 1 more time and through the finish line for 2nd place. Not bad in a COLD days work!

As my training plan has progressed, I am in my peak/race weeks. And I can actually see the result of my efforts. With only 2 more races left, I hope my body can maintain form into the finally weeks. We will see...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The world series of Mountain Biking. At least in Michigan, or the Midwest. The ICEMAN COMETH CHALLENGE is the largest 1 day point to point Mountain Bike race in North America. And it is right here in my own back yard! The Race is a 27 plus mile course on 2 track and single track trails between Kalkaska and Traverse City, Michigan. This year was the 19th edition and with over 2800 racers from almost every state in the union and from several countries from around the world, it not hard to get excited and give your beast effort, because the whole country if not the world is checking your results the next day online!

This is my 3rd time racing ICEMAN, and it was my last time as a Sport Racer. So before Moving on to Expert, I want to go out in a blaze of glory and had 2 goals in my mind for the weekend. Take top 5, and finish under 2:00:00 hrs. I have been working very hard with the CX training plan that JB Hancock helped put together for me, and the results have been showing. I know I am in better condition this year than I was last year, but the question was still in my head. Would training for 30-45 min CX races be enough to carry me to the podium for 2hrs of endurance racing????

We got to Kalkaska Middle school for the start of the race about 1 hr before we had to go. It was cold and I was nervous. But this is how the ICEMAN is suppose to feel. After a quick warm up, I lined up in my class as early as possible. This year I was racing Sport men 30-33. There was a total of 79 racers in my class, and I made sure my front wheel was first on the start line. As the seconds ticked away the tension thickened and finally we were off! Ben Miller (TSB Team mate) took the hole shot all the way to the double track, so I tucked in behind him. He took a few more pedal strokes and said "That's all I got, go get'em!" So I said "thanks Benny" and took off. Shortly after, about 6-7 guys launched past me, and I was catching hell to hang on. My heart was racing through the roof. So I thought to myself, don't panic. Find the groove and start griding away back up to the podium. Most of these guys will probably pop, once the hills start after Williamsburg Rd. So I popped it up in the big ring and pushed as hard as I could. About 2-3 miles of riding by myself I saw what looked to be a familiar riding style. I finally caught up on their wheel and Said "Adam, is that you?" He replied, "I was wondering where you were". So Here it is the finally Mountain Bike race of the season. The Grand Daddy of them all, and I am going to race Adam Naish head to head one last time for 27 miles. I wouldn't have it any other way. And this was the best situation for both of us to have a great race. So we both decided to pull each other through the woods and try to share the podium at the end. Adam kept up a blistering pace in the beginning and actually wondered if I would be able to hang on. I did, but man it was tough. As we got closer to the first parts of single track, our pace came to dead stop several times as a lot of people this year must of registered for the wrong class and could not ride their bikes on the down hills. It was making very angered and thought my chances of top 5 or under 2 hrs was shot, because of people riding slow, and not letting you pass. At one point there was about 20 people in a line going down hill, waiting on 1 person. I actually had to track stand my bike going down hill. Well, we finally got through that and I picked up the pace to try and make up as much time as possible. Adam did another pull a few miles before Williamsburg Rd. and Said, "The guy in front is in 3rd place". I could not believe we had made up so much ground. So I said "go get him". So Adam hopped on his wheel and started making small attacks. This guy finally realized what class we were in, and was trying anything to stay ahead of us. Adam would get in front on the flats and I would attack him on the short steep climbs and hop in front. We played cat and mouse like this until the first hill before Williamsburg Rd. At this hill I told Adam to hop on and then Poured it on! I sprinted up the hill, coasted down and then made a huge effort up the climb at Williamsburg. This is the beast part of the race! The fans go nuts. Usually about 200-250 people ringing cowbells and screaming their heads off trying to get you up the hill. We crossed the road and I poured it on again for the last 2 climbs that are just as big as the Williamsburg Rd climb. We finally got to so flat ground again, and found a comfortable gear to catch my breath and settled in for a fast spin. Adam then said, "Great job John! You cracked him!" So we were now both sitting in a podium spot, but had to keep pushing to get it. We both kept the pace high and my legs were feeling great. The past 2 ICEMANs have resulted in bad leg cramps in the last 8 miles, that have caused my performance to suffer. So this was the biggest concern on my mind at this point. But as the big hill approached, they felt strong. Anita's hill - No problem, Icebreaker hill - No problem. The finally after the new section of single track that dumps you out in front of the wood chip hill with no momentum, I clawed my way up to the top and felt fine. I looked at my clock and saw that the 2 hr mark was within my grasp! I told Adam, "All I want is a podium spot and under 2 hrs. If you want anymore than that, then go get it!" He said, "I want to break 1:57:00." With about 2.5 miles to go, I said, "well, we have a little more work to do". I pulled as hard and fast as I could to the last climb of the day. Adam slowly pulled ahead and got in front through the final finishing barriers. I was happy and pushed all the way to the end. I saw Adam in front of me cross the finishing line. And As I approached the line, I put my hands up a took a mini celebration for both of us. I reached up and gave Adam a hug. He said "we did it, I could not have done it without you!"

I just hit both my ICEMAN goals! 4th place in a time of 1:55:47!!!!!!!

Thanks Adam!

As for the rest of the weekend. Nolan did his first ICEMAN this year in the Sno-cone event. He was lined up at the start 3 hrs before the race. Riding back and forth looking for the best line for the hole shot. There was probably up to 100 plus kids and he was ready to rock. As the whistle blew, he rode past with a smile ear-ear! The course was a 2 mile stretch through the same ICEMAN course as I did up to the finish line. The crowd went nuts for the kids. Nolan made his way up the last hill, and sprinted home to the finish! When he was done, he said that was hard. I thought I was going to puke.

Last, it would not be a complete ICEMAN weekend unless I got to party with my Team Sandbag team mates. And this year we had 13 racers getting it done and braving the epic course and conditions. The team rocked it out this year! as most shattered their previous times, took to the podium, or just finished to make it back to the tent for some cold beers! In Brandon's case, he couldn't wait to cross the finish line for a cold one, so he chugged one down on the course in front of the team tent! Way to get it done guys. And hear are the TSB ICEMEN for 2009!

Don Miller
Dan Holland
Kevin Kahl
Ben Miller
Jason Schneider
Lee Tremp
Todd Powers
Brian Crook
Brad Hranach (fastest TSBer of the day 1:53!)
Todd Shorkey
Brandon Groleau
Nolan Osgood

Monday, November 3, 2008

"The Devil's Soup Bowl" - Vet's Park CX 5&6!

OK here we go again. This is my favorite place to race. Oh wait, I think I used that in my last post. But I have to say, Veterans Park is a close enough second that when I am racing there, it is the best place in the world for a 'cross race! Located in Ann Arbor. It is surrounded by busy traffic all the way around, has several baseball diamonds and for some odd reason that only mother nature can explain, has some great quad busting hills! In the CX scene, this place is known as the Devil's Soup Bowl because of the natural hills that surround all four sides of the park. So basically we race in a hole in the ground. And it is these little hills that makes for some great racing.

Day 1 - Going into this race, I was just getting over a cold and was struggling with a shift change at work that happened in the middle of the week (I am now on 3rd shift). So I was not feeling 100% when the whistle blew. There is a lot of grass at Vets, so I was thinking about not running my Maxxis Locust and going with my faster Raze. It was a game time call, but I went with the Locust because I knew what to expect from them. So I lined up in the front, the whistle blew and we were off. I sat in at about 3rd position for the first 3/4 mile. By the time we got to the run-up, the faster guys (top 3) were able to pull away from me. So for the rest of the race, I rode by my self and held onto a large gap, which allowed me to cost home for 4th place. Considering how I felt, and how much of a gap I had over the rest of the field of 27, I has happy with the result. Nolan Raced later in the kids race and took his 1st W of the CX season. The kids course was just a tough as the adult course. So it was a well deserved win!

Day 2 - The course was ran backwards from the day before, but just as difficult. I went with Raze tires. And I was feeling great. I went to bed at 8:30 the day before and slept till 7:30 in the morning. In the past, I have performed better on the 2nd day of 2 day races so I knew it would be my race to lose. The whistle went and I shot off the front and took the hole shot. This caused the field to instantly string out. I could not believe how fast I was going by the time we got to the long run up. There was only one other person that was with me. The rest of the field was about 30-40 seconds behind. It felt great. This is my first week of "peaking" and I was feeling it. I was able to push a big gear at a high cadence. The other guy that was with me agreed to work together pulling. This worked well at keeping the main filed behind us. But I was seeing some weakness in his climbing. I had plan! On the last long climb about 1/2 mile to the finish, I would attack put in a gap like i did to him ever other time. Roll through the switch backs clean the barriers and take the win in the final straight away. It was all coming together until the beginning of the last lap... I was going over the barriers. Set the bike down and went for a remount. Somehow my transponder caught my quick release and and I could not jump onto my seat. I tried to jump on my seat from the other side, but my leg was still caught on the bike. Finally the transponder was ripped off of my leg. I tossed it to JB Hancock to give to the officials. By the time I was back on my bike. I was now sitting in 2nd with about 200-300 yrds to catch the leader. I put my self into the red zone to catch him. I made up all but 50 yrds in the final straight away to the finish but came in at 2nd place. Still this is my highest position of the year. And it lets me know that I am in my peak heading into the ICEMAN next weekend. So I am expecting some good results!

But the day was not over. Since I was still wearing my PJ's around the park. I lined up in the B-class Single Speed race for 45 more mins of pain. Like Lower Huron, my lap times was very consistent. But unlike Lower Huron, the hills were killer! But it was a good day. I was able to add some more hardware to my collection and nabbed 3rd place.

The coolest thing of the day was have all the TSB team mates out in full force. And we were getting it done! Todd Law in his 2nd CX race ever, sprinted out Ben Miller for 3rd place. So in the C-race, our team captured 3 of the top 4 positions. Jason Schenider rounded out the top 2o. And Lee Tremp to a top 10 for the 2nd time in 2 races in C-men 40+! Nolan raced again in the kids race in a much larger field. And worked his way from 5th place through some tight switch backs and barriers and sprinted home for a commanding 2nd place!

And another person I want to recognize for coming out week after week and slowing moving up the ranks is Tom Payn. Your looking good out there. Just keep working hard and pushing yourself. If it is not hurting, your not going hard enough!