Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Moving on to 2010

Looking forward to 2010, it looks like my toughest competitor is going to be me! This damn weight battle I have fought most of my life is still putting up a fight. Even though I have kept almost 50 lbs off for 3 years now, the fear and struggle to not be fat has been with me everyday. Since my last race on Dec. 6th, I decided to take a break from "eating right" and see what I have been missing. Well about 15 lbs later, I found what I've been missing. Now that I am miserable again, and all my pants are tight, its time to refocus. Even though its not a racing goal, My main focus is to get between 170-180 lbs. If I plan on competing at a high level racing CX, especially in the mud as I leaned this year, I have to improve my power to weight ratio. And losing the fat is the best way I can do it. With 2009 almost behind us, here is a recap on some other stats for the year.

Total Miles -- 3475 (over 400 more that last year)
Training hours -- 295 (Short of my goal of 325, but that was an estimate)
Over 100 races! -- I topped my 100th race since I have started at Lower Huron CX.
USAC upgraded my Cyclocross licence from CAT 3 to CAT 2!

Goals for 2010 -- I have divided my goals into 2 seasons this year. Mountain Bike Racing, and Cyclocross racing. Cyclocross will be my main focus with the majority of the mountain bike racing being nothing more than training for CX! Since I have taken this approach, I will only publish my MTB goals at this time. But I have the rough draft for CX hashed out to help me keep the big picture in front of me.

MTB racing Goals --
Take top 3 overall for Brighton MTB Stage Race
Finish Top 5 overall for Cat 1 USAC MTB XC Series
Finish Top 5 for at least 3 Cat 1 XC or TT races
Break 1:45 at ICEMAN Expert 30-39

Training for 2010 will be drastically different. I will not bore you with the details, but rather update everyone throughout the winter. But in a nut shell, it will resemble my CX training for 2009. Other than that, all my training will be done with a powertap, And a little help from some cycling Jedi Masters...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My "Racing" Year in Review!

What started out as sluggish mountain bike season in my first year as a Cat 1 racer, turned into a dream cyclocross season in my first year as a Cat 3 B-men racer! Going into both seasons I did not expect much, and figured I would treat both as a learning year. I was overly cautious in the early part of the year with my training and this resulted in a few mistakes that left me with a good base, but none of my high end systems were at their full potential. I was lucky enough to take a top 5 at Ruby, so In my mind I hit my goal for the year, but I was expecting to perform a little better overall.

And then CX training started! Figuring I had enough base from all the training and Expert level MTB races I had done, I focused on max effort intervals, bike handling, and CX specific skills all at 1 hr at a time. Then the season started, I nailed podium after podium. This type of training translated very well for me at the ICEMAN also. As I took a top 10 in the expert class and broke the 1:50 mark for my best time ever at the event!

Overall for the year I give my self a B - for the mountain bike season and an A for the cyclocross season.

Going into 2010, with the great CX season that I had, I now have a renewed confidence in my ability to race against Cat 1's on the mountain bike. With a little more dialed in training, I feel I can mix it up again in the top 5 on any mountain bike course. But much like this year, Cyclocross will be my main focus. So The mountain bike season will be a huge part of my overall training for 'cross. What can I say, I have discovered that I am a bottle rocket! I'm quick, last a short time, and have a big bang at the end!

I have a new powertap to learn how to use, and have been reading up on different types of training to maximize my time, effort, and abilities on the bike. So with the holidays upon us, I am taking a few weeks off for some much needed and extended rest. Until my next post, enjoy the Bling at the top of the page...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

MI State Championship, What a RIde!

What was expected to be a middle of the road cyclocross season for me, has turned out to be almost a dream come true. Stepping up into the B's, I was expecting to fill in somewhere around the middle of the pack. But instead, I have reached the podium in all but one race this year! And going into the State Championship, I was focused, locked, loaded and ready to do battle.

This year, the state championships moved to a new venue in Springfield Oaks, which has hosted the UCI doublecross for the past 3 years. Springfield is a mix of paved flat roads, loose gravel, some gnarly off camber steep slippery hills, and even a little single track for good measure. And being this late into the season, this is the kind of course that does not hold water well and could turn the results of the day into any body's race. So here is how it went for me.

The start line was right underneath the Orange Crush flyover, and this made for some cramped quarters. I could not get the front row, but did line up in the second. The start position was bad enough for me that I struggled to clip into my pedal for about 50 yrds. So instantly I was loosing ground. I tired to make up as much as possible to avoid any pile ups in the very greasy off camber hill toward the beginning of the course. If you did not take the perfect line, you were either crashing or walking. So I was able to get up around 6 place and then the crashes began. I caused me to dismount in which I could not find any traction with my shoes. So I fell on my butt at least 2 times. I ran to the corner and finally got onto my bike. I tried to pick off a few folks but made minimal progress. Into the main part of the course and near the switch back corners into the single track I jack knifed my front wheel trying to make a move around another rider and found myself on the ground again! This time I was getting mad and sitting in 9th place. From here on the course opened up a little and I began to attack. By the time I started the 2nd lap I fought my way up to 4th place and was pulling a large train of riders. I took some risk through some very slippery corners and off camber sections. And buried it on the paved sections. I broke off the front end of the train and had my sights focused on Shawn McDonald who was sitting all alone in 3rd. I reeled him in at the beginning of the 3rd lap, and never looked back. The gap continued to grow, but I could never quite bridge up to Danny and Clint who were in 1st and 2nd. I was on my limit the entire time making sure I cashed all my chips in at the table for my last bet of the year! I felt strong and pushed hard all the way to the end. Another solid 3rd place for the day. And that was good enough to earn some other hardware.....So this is how I fared in the B's for the year.

With the 3rd place from today's race, it was good enough to also take 2nd place for the State Championship podium for B-men 30-39!

And I also claimed 3rd overall in the Series points race!

I also, raced the single speed race one more time and just ended up riding my bike for 45 more mins. But it was still fun. My main focus was perfecting the beer hand ups I was getting each lap! I totaled 7 for the day and was rewarded with 5th place for my efforts.

Other racers that lit it up!

Clint Verran -- 1st in the race, 1st in the State B-Men 30-39, and 1st in the series B-men!
Danny Gerrow -- 2nd in the race, 1st in the State B-men Under 30
Pat Russell -- 1st in the race, 1st in the State Masters 35+, 1st in series Master 35+
Pete Thompson -- 2nd in the race, 2nd in the State Masters 35+, 2nd in series Master 35+
Mike Seamon -- 1st in the Race, 1st in the State Masters 45+, 1st in the series Master 45+
Shawn Schaffert -- 1st in the Race, 1st in the State C-men 30-39, 1st in the series C-men under 39
Mike, Tim, and Jeff -- The Michigan Elite 1,2,3. What else can I say! Year after year it is total domination.
Ann Schwartz -- Back where she belongs. At the top.
Erik Kohler -- 1st in the SS race, the State Championship and Series. Slow down!!
Adam Naish -- For showing up and poaching a 3rd place State Championship medal for B-men 30-39. See you in the spring!

And My favorite racer of the day, my very own team mate, Curt Potocki after battling health, injuries, and mechanical issues over the past few years he lit it up in the 2nd half of the season nailing a podium spot almost every week and today finished 3rd in the State C-men 30-39, and wrapped up 3rd overall in the series C-men Under 39! Way to go Curt! And Welcome to the Killer B's in 2010!!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Another 3rd at Bloomer CX!

Not sure how I would feel going into Bloomer this week, I guess it all worked out OK. I thought for sure that I was getting sick the entire week. Sinus pressure, tired, slight drainage down the back of my throat. So I Zicamed the hell out of what ever it was. In addition, doing the double at Stony last week killed me! it took me 2 days to recover. And even then, all of my workouts during the rest of the week felt really flat. Not a good feeling or sign when I should be in my 2 peak weeks. So here we are at bloomer.

I woke up and felt good. Which was a relief. I decided not to bring the single speed along and focus on just the B- race. In the points race a few things needed to happen today to secure a top 3 spot overall in the series. 1. Race well and knock off one of my top 5 places in the series with a 1st through 4th place. 2. Beat mark Caffyn. 3. Hope that Jason Boyton did not show up or at least beat him. Well, all 3 happened. so going into the State Championship race I should have 3rd place wrapped up unless I did the math wrong. But enough of that, lets look at the highlights for the day.

It was kind of foggy and cold at the start, which meant that the ground was soggy and slick for every race today. This appeared to help keep the roadies at bay, but the course was still fast overall. Bloomer has been a mixed bag for me over the years, but I really liked the course this year. I think the extra fast single track made a big difference and the tight slippery corners showed who had the best skills out there. As for the race. It was a fast start with Danny Gerow leading out the pack. I was sitting third wheel just hoping Danny would pop. The 2nd place guy soon let up and it was then Danny and me. Soon Clint Verran joined me on the 2nd lap. I hung on as long as I could to try to grow the gap behind me. Then Clint went on to chase Danny. The 2 of them continued to distance themselves from me, but they were never really out of site. By the 2nd lap, I had created a large gap behind me also. I used the flat paved section and the long fast Single track sections to put my attacks in to keep my 3rd place lead. Lap after lap, the gap in front and behind me remained about the same. David Johnson made a move late to get off the front of the small pack of riders behind me, but never got much more than a few seconds out of me. In the end I felt great. The legs felt strong and consistent throughout the race, which is a good sign. And I finished up with another solid 3rd place.

Shout outs -- Congrats to Kevin Skipworth for giving up his race to help out an injured rider. To make the story even better, Kevin was near the front of his race looking for another podium spot when it happened. Great stuff. May Karma be on your side, and good luck next weekend at the Ohio State CX Championships!

JB -- Looking strong in a very stacked field of single speed racers! 1st place on the day. A little more structured training, and you will be a force to recon with once again my man.

Clint and Danny -- Another 1 - 2 punch in the B's

Mike Wissink -- My hat goes off to Mike for pulling out the single speed to have fun after the A-race. First he put on a clinic by passing all the single speeders and Masters 35 field. And second, he showed his respect and sportsmanship by pulling off in the last lap to not interfere with the points series. Mike not only are you a champion, your a real class act!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Belgium Shores come to Mi -- Stony Creek CX!

Love, Hate. When I think of Stony Creek, those are the first 2 words that come to mind whether it's a mountain bike race or cyclocross race. And this year's Stony CX race did not disappoint -- Love, Hate.

It started out as a great day. My wife, daughter, son, mom, and dad all came out for the race and I did not want to disappoint. Both Nolan and Makenna raced, and walked away with Medals! Nolan racing in the C race again. It was great having all the family there along with everyone else cheering and yelling as the race went on. I was really able to feed off their enthusiasm as I rode past them and saw them cheering me on. Thank you!

The race actually went well for me today, but it was one of the toughest races to date for me in the tailwind series. Stony is usually thought of as a flat, fast, roadie style course. But this year the course was ran backwards. There was the notorious sand, and this year you could ride certain sections and run the rest. Then shortly after the sand, you came into some Kentucky style power zapping mud for about 100 yrds followed by a switch back climb. So to say the least, the course took it's tole on me.

The start was interesting. It went from a 30 ft wide paved section down to a 6 ft bike path. So with 30 guys chasing a hole shot, it was a little nerve racking. My goal was to go into the course either 1st or 3rd. I nailed that, but this popped my heart rate. Clint Verran and Dan Gerow went off the front and took the lead. I could not hold on and just tried to maintain 3rd position and catch them later when I recovered. I stayed in 3rd for the first few laps and then started to feel like I was going backwards. 5 guys were breathing down my neck like hungry pit bulls, and I could feel them and see them coming. The group contained Mark Caffyn, Ben Christan, and David Johnson. David made the first move in the mud section. He went through it like he was floating. He quickly pulled away, but I was on my limit and could not counter. Soon after on a down hill section with a switch back at the bottom, David lost control and went down. I quickly responded to this and attacked. When I went by, I saw that his rear tire popped out the bead. So I sprinted as hard as I could to make sure there was no chance for him to get on. This increased the gap again, but not for long. Then it was Mark's turn with Ben in tow. I could hear them braking behind me. As I got to the paved section, I could increase the gap. But it would shrink in the sand and mud. Going into the 2nd to last lap, It was now Ben on my wheel and Mark just off the back. I dug deep! I knew my family was here to see me so I wanted to do my best. I tried to stay on the front of the group and make them feel the same pain as I was. It seemed to be working. I now had a very small gap again going into the last lap. This was it! As my tires hit the paved section for the last time, I popped my chain up into the big ring and sprinted the full length of the starting chute to try and grow the gap as big as I could, even if it was only 5 seconds more. It seemed to be working. Mark was no where insight as I made the first turn into the grass, and my gap to Ben grew to somewhere around 15 seconds maybe more. I pushed hard through the sand, the mud, the hills, the barriers, all of it. Ben started to close the gap, but I knew it was going to be too much. I came onto the paved section for the last time, and could not see him. I just wrapped up another 3rd but a very, very hard earned one.

My hats off to Dan Gerow for a 2nd place finish! His best result of the season. Clint wrapped up the day with another hard fought 1st. And Ben Christian got his first B class podium with a 4th place!!! Andy Brown stepped back up into the big boy class and looked very strong and right at home with the Elites. And Curt Potocki kept his podium streak alive with a 4th place today. Finally, if there was any one that deserved a 1st place finish it has to be Shawn Schaffert. Shawn put it all on the line today. His face said it all, and he never gave up! WOW what an effort!

I jumped in the single speed race again today. And actually had a good race. I was able to hang with Wayne Cook for all but the last 2 laps and earned a 4th place out of 7 for my efforts. Congrats to JB for his 2nd place in his first single speed race! And way to go Chad Schut for coming all the way down from Traverse City with your boys to hang out with the TSB crew and race the new single speed! It was fun. Just remember less endurace training, more high intensity training!

Next stop Bloomer Park CX!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Iceman Suprise!

This was my forth Iceman, and boy was it great. To start with, Jason and Jackie Schneider turned what is always a great weekend into one weekend I will never forget. They played host to the team all weekend by putting several of us up in a Mansion on Elk Lake. Cooking the team dinner and organizing Party central at the Iceman Finish line with burgers, hot dogs, snacks and oh -boy corn bread! In addition, Jackie's sisters and extended family, Curt's wife and cousins all came out to cheer us on! That support is incredible and always goes a long way. So thank you very much!

As for the race, I was Surprised.

The Iceman race has been very good for me in the 4 years that I have done it. I have worked my way up from beginner to Expert and have never finished out of the top 10 in my first 3 years. But going into this year's race, I was not expecting much since 1, I was not training for it because my main focus has been on the Cyclocross series. And 2, it was my first year racing Expert so I figured I would get my "you know what" handed to me. So my goals were realistic and as follows.

Beat my personal best time from last year of 1:56 (even with a longer course)
Try to fall somewhere in the top 20

My stretch goal -- break 1:50

Waking up on Saturday morning, I felt great. Checked the temps outside and could not believe how warm it was. Since we were closer to the start this year, I procrastinated a little and got a late jump on getting to Kalkaska. 5 miles down the road, I realized I had forgotten my water bottles! Now the panic started to set it. Back to the house and about 30 mins before the start of the race. We got to Kalkaska Middle school with about 15 mins to the start. I got my bike and started sprinting toward the start line even though I did not know where it was. I found it with about 10 mins before the start. What a great warm up. This caused me to line up in the back row with 100 plus people in front of me. The raced started and I instantly started to make my way through the pack. As we approached the middle school, I was some where in the middle. The course then narrowed down to about 10 feet. This caused panic up ahead and clogged up the field behind due to a few crashes. So stopped and waiting to get through, my 4th Iceman was not off to a good start. Once I began to pedal again, it was back to picking people off. Into the woods and to the first sandy climb, more people crashing in front of me. This time I had to hurdle my handle bars to avoid the worst of it. I ran up the hill and remounted again. From here I put in a huge charge to make up as much ground before the big hills and to distance myself from the folks that appeared to be on a bicycle for the first time. And I was flying! By the time I made it to Williamsburg Rd, I had just felt like I was warming up. So I pushed even harder. Picking more people off. I finally settled into a small group that was putting in the same effort. I tired to pull away at one point but they were up for the challenge. This was a mix of Experts from 3 different age groups. I was able to push the entire way, and not kill my heart rate. It spiked on Anita's hill, The Icebreaker, and Wood chip but I instantly recovered within seconds and shifted back up into the big ring and carried on. With 1K to go. I was feeling strong as hell so I turned it up one more notch and flew all the way to the finish line. I rolled across the finish and check my computer and it showed 1:49 and some change! I did it, I actually broke the 1:50 mark!!! I could not believe it! When the final results were posted my time was 1:49:38. And this was enough to take 9th place in Expert 30-34 out of 70 racers!!! Again, I could not believe I had just cracked the top 10 in the Expert class what a day!

Congrats to all my team mates that raced and finished. There were some personal best times. Some first timers (way to go AKA) and some folks that "just finished" another great ride in the woods.

Special props to Adam Naish -- What a race 4th in Expert Men 30-34! WOW!
Chad Schut -- Breaking the 2 hour mark and finishing his 20th ICEMAN! Chad is one of only 6 people to have raced in all 20! This is amazing!


The day after the Iceman featured a cyclocross race at Timer Ridge where the Iceman finish is. So I could not resist the temptation to race again! The race was kind of cool. They used the Sno-cone course so it was very fast. The fields were small, but hey it was the first time this race was held. Remember, the Iceman only had 35 racers at the 1st one and this year it had close to 4000! I raced in the B class and finished 4th out of 10. Not bad for tired legs. JB Hancock made it out for the elite race and also finished 4th. There were a few more Tailwind CX faithful racing Mike Seaman 6th in elite, Terry Ritter 5th in elite, Randy A. taking a huge 2nd in the C race, and Derrek W. taking a 4th in the C race.

Well looking on the race weekend, these were just training days before I start my actual race period. So based on the results, I should be ready to rock at Stony Creek and Bloomer CX. I just got to stay away from all the sick people out there...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Curt Potocki's Big Day! Vets Park CX Day #1 and 2

After several years of almosts, mechanicals, injury and health type issues, Curt finally nailed a podium today and in commanding fashion by doing it at one of the toughest courses you could ever race CX on -- Veteran's Park in Ann Arbor. There were slippery hills you could not ride, mud, wind, rain, mud, temps in the 40s, mud, barrier, and a filed of 25 plus. Curt went with the lead group and they soon started stretching out the field until they broke off the front. Then Curt and Shawn (Cannondale Midwest) stuck together sitting in 3rd and 4th and continued to grow the gap between them and rest of the field. With a lap to go, Curt made his move and attacked to force a gap. It worked! And he was able to hold on to it all the way to the finish for 3rd place! Way to go Curt. You deserved it.

As for me, I was able to keep my podium streak alive also. But it did not look very good at the start. Right from the whistle, I got into a touch of wheels and elbows do to a lead rider not holding his line and there was no where to go. So I held my line and pushed back a little. This caused my front wheel to latch onto his rear derailleur so I went for a free ride until I started hear my spokes pinging. OH S&#T! That can't be good. I was able to finally free my wheel. By this time I had drifted back to somewhere around 10th or 12th place. My heart rate was going crazy and I was not making up any ground. I finally settled down and started picking guys off one at a time. I made the most ground on the 2 run ups and technical sections of the course. I made it back up to the 4th and 5th place guys. One of which was Andy Brown. He looked to be in difficulty and fighting with mechanical issues. So I did not waste any time and passed him. His team mate stuck with me for the rest of the race. We rolled around the course for 2 more laps together increasing our time on everyone behind us, but we could not catch the 3rd place guy. On the last run up, I tried to use it to force a final gap and sprinted up as hard as I could. It worked but he was able to latch back on. In the final flat section, he attacked and pulled around me. It was too much for me to respond. But I did make a little bit of it back up. Going into the final straight right before the line I was about 15-20 feet off of his wheel. He stood up and sprinted. I responded. But could not reel him in. He beat me for 4th by 2 seconds. But Still a great day with another 5th place!

In additon to Curt's big day. I want to make sure I recognize Kevin Skipworth for his 5th place in the C-40 plus race today. This is Kevin's first Podium for Cyclocross in the Tailwind Series. And it is a good indication that Kevin will be ready to light up the ICEMAN next weekend! I hate to say it Kevin, but I think your hooked. You will forever be a cross junkie. I see a new bike in your future....

Day 2 - Curt double dipped and pulled out another 3rd place by making a charge in the last lap to get away from Brad Lako, which allowed him to coast across the line without any pressure. Way to go again Curt!

As for me, I had my best result to date in the B-class with a strong 3rd place! It was a little dryer and faster today at Vets park, and the course was also a tad shorter. I got a much better start and sat in 3rd place for a good majority of the race. A few attacks came early from a few Rhinos, Wolverines, and Clint Verran who just crushed us today to get his first CX win! Way to go Clint. I did not panic and let them all slip back into the field on the long climbs and run up. Then I set my sights on Andy Brown, the current series leader. Lap after lap, I slowly reeled Andy in but was never able to control 2nd place. Andy's biggest move of the day was to go over the barriers on the long run up and then hop back on his bike and ride to the top. A risky move I felt that would waste a lot of energy if he did not nail it just right every time. One time he fell over trying to clip into his pedals. The last 2 times, he was able to put a small gap into me. We both pushed through the race the entire time as hard as possible and kept a good lead over the main field. In the final few meters Andy was the strongest of the day and slowly slipped away for 2nd place. But This was the strongest CX race I have had this year and probably one of the strongest ever! So there it is 3rd place.

I felt so good after my 3rd place that I jumped into the Single speed race for more punishment. Nothing to report here other than, I finished. I did'nt get lapped, and I took a much needed cookie hand up from the fans! Thanks. I was rewarded for my efforts to carry my carcass around the course for another 45 more mins and got 5th place.

Looks like I will be in good form heading into the Iceman and Icecross next weekend. Now just to try and keep all those sick people out there away from me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

US Gran Prix of Cyclocross - Derby City Cup!

I finally made it to the USGP of CX! And what a great experience it was. Not only was the racing top notch and super competitive, I had a great time hanging out with the MI faithful, JB, Curt, Mark, Wiz, Jeff, Matt, Pete, Ann, Marne, Mark, Jay, and Mike. The promoters do a great job putting this race on. The venue was awesome for being on a golf course, and everything from food and lodging was right at our finger tips. We drove all morning through the rain and finally got to KY around 2:00 PM. Curt and I could not wait to get out car and preride the course. With in 5 mins, we saw Tim Johnson riding through the hotel parking lot, then Ryan Trebon, then Wicks, then.... It was like this the entire weekend. Pros everywhere, and they were all really cool to talk to.

The course did not look that difficult. But was very thought out and technical. Just not a lot of hills. But what it lacked in elevation, it made up for in MUD! All the rain kept the course very slow, slick, sticky, and down right muddy all weekend. In fact this was the muddiest conditions I have ever raced in. So it was a huge learning experience for me.

Day 1 -- I was nervous as hell! I was front row with 109 racers breathing down my neck! Thank God that JB Hancock was right next to me on the line. talking to him and the Wiz right before the start really helped me calm down and focus on having fun. The whistle blew, and instantly I could not clip into my pedals. I went from 1st row to about 6 row in a few pedal strokes. Into the course the pace was fast and elbow to elbow. the skinny guys passed me like I was standing still. I was able to grab onto the back of Mark Caffyn's wheel and hang on. Trying to pedal through the mud, made my quads burn the whole time and my heart rate never came down until the 3rd lap. Mark pulled away a few times, but I was able to reel him back in and finally make a move to go around him and stay away. I finished 47th. I was very happy with this result, considering the size of the field and the level of competition!

Day 2 -- Feeling better and ready to do battle. JB and I got the same start position on the line. The whistle blew and this time I got my pedals right. About 4 strokes in I was at the front of the feild and accelerating! JB was the only one that was able to come around me in the field of 100 and he was off the front already putting in a gap. I was still in 2nd going into the barriers, but I could fell the pressure coming from behind. I held a top 7-10th position for about a 1/2 lap, until the skinny guys started passing me again. I tried to power through the mud the entire race to kepp as many folks from passing me as possible. I felt better than the day before and thought I had a better race. I improved to 45th. Not exactly where I thought I would end up. But still happy with the result and the overall experience of the weekend.

Vets Park is this weekend. And I am in another peak. I am hoping that my USGP experience makes me stronger and better for the rest of the season. Then it will be off to the ICEMAN the following weekend!

Tough luck for JB. He had a person step into his rear wheel on day 1 and "my" tire came off of his rim on Day 2. Other wise, he looked rock solid.
Jeff and the Wiz looked great! Wiz scoring a W on day 2 and Jeff rocked 3rd both days
Curt rocked a 37th out of 110+ riders on day 1! Look for curt to sniff out the podium before the end of the year!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lower Huron Cyclocross!

Fall is in the air!!! The air was crisp, the grass had frost, and trees were all in peak color. Maybe this is why I love racing CX at Lower Huron Metro Park. This place is beautiful, and just reminds me of all that cyclocross is about. Fast flats, Deep sand, and that crazy steep run up. This is the place where I got my fisrt podium a few years ago, so maybe this is why it is a special place for me to race. What ever it is, I have a few more reason now to call Lower Huron one of my favorite places to race cyclocross!

I began a quick build last week to top off the fitness going into the USGP, Iceman, and then the State CX championship. So going into the race, I was not sure how I would feel or perform with the extra training load throughout the week. According to my training schedule, this was just another training day, a throw away race. But as I mentioned before, I love racing here, so In my mind I wanted to do well. On the way down, I felt rested and the legs were snappy. I lined up in the first row, figuring I could take advantage of my power on the paved straight away, and grab a spot in the first few positions going into the grass. It worked great! The pace was quick, and then the top 4 guys just in front began to shadow box and no one wanted the lead. This kept the group very large with 8-10 racers for about 3 laps. And it helped me recover well from the fast start. Then a few guys dropped back, and a few others joined ahead. I kept my position for the entire race. The top 3 guys were always at my finger tips. I kept the power coming and put in some huge efforts to grow the gap behind me, but I could never catch the top 3 guys. Clint Verran joined me again and passed me, like the previous races before. But in the last lap, I popped it up into my big ring and chased him down by closing a 200 yrd gap. This was my last ditch effort try and gain one more spot. It may have been too much, I rode with Clint for as long as I could. But he just slightly slipped away. He took 4th by about 50 yrds. And I nailed a solid fifth with a huge gap over 6th place. I could not believe it, another podium!

I spent a lot of energy trying to catch the lead guys in the 1st race, so lining up in the single speed class was tough. I just rode my race, and tried to keep the power going for as long as I could and not get caught by any single speeders behind me. With 3 laps to go, I dismounted before the sand and some how caught the buckle on my right shoe. It snapped off! I finished the race with a shoe that felt like a loose slipper. But I was able to hang onto 4th in a field of 6 racers.

Next stop USGP of Cyclocross -- Derby City Cup. Kentucky Here I come!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Stars and Moon Align for Muson CX - Night Time CX Racing!

This was the first time the Tailwind Series has put on a night time CX race, so there was a lot of buzz in the air. In fact everyone was really excited, to the point that it was one of the more festive CX races I have been apart of in a while. The fans were all screaming, drinking, playing on the hill and ringing cow bells all night long. Munson is not the best race course for CX, but with the lights it gave it a special element that you can't get anywhere else. All I can say is, it was fun and I hope that Robert is able to do it next year.

As for the race, This was the last week of my top fitness so I was hoping for something special. The B-race was big again with 28 racers, and a few top guns and sleepers came out to join the party. Mentally I was ready and thought I had a good game plan. I wanted to take the hole shot, power up the 1st climb in the first 100 yrds of the race to blow the race apart early and then force a huge gap. Well, I did just that but there is 45 mins of racing. From the whistle I managed to sprint from the start line to the first climb from the 2nd row. I was sitting in 5th at the top. The first round through the barriers, one of the guys in front of me slipped and did not recover, so now I was in 4th. A little bit farther, through a 90 degree turn another guy misjudged the turn and jack-knifed his front wheel and I managed to skate by him clean. Now sitting in 3rd, I turned on the power! The 1st and 2nd place guys dangled in front of me like a carrot, but I could never catch on their wheel. However, I had a huge gap on the rest of the field. This was going good and I was able to continue putting out the power. Then I noticed that there was a group of 3 riders behind me trying to close the gap. The problem was I was all by myself in no man's land. After the 3rd lap, the gap got smaller and smaller and I was out of touch of trying to catch the 2 in front of me. I was still maintaining, but slipping a little each lap with my power out put. When I finally got caught by the small group, the 3rd guy had already dropped off and was slipping back into the main field. After the catch, Andy Brown attacked and put a huge gap into me and the other Rider Clint Verran. Clint tried to catch his wheel and I followed. Neither of us were able to catch Andy, and I ended up losing Verran's wheel. I was able to hang on to a very "happy" and "earned" 5th place! I am totally surprised at my performance for CX so far this season and hope I can continue to keep the streak alive.

Race 2 -- I don't know why I keep doing this but I doubled up again for the single speed race. I had about 10 mins to get ready from the end of the B-race since the Elites were going to be the last race of the night. At the start I already had no gas left in the tank. But I was able to push my bike around the course at a decent pace. I felt fine until the last 2 laps when a nasty cramp started in my left hammy. I could barly walk over the barriers but I managed to finish the race. It was enough to hang onto 5th place again.

With my next race being in 2 weeks, it is time for some quick extended rest, followed by another quick build before Iceman! This should be enough to stay strong, and carry my fitness into the finally few weeks of the cyclocross season leading up to the state championships! At least it sounds good in writing....
Thanks again Steve Balogh for the great pictures!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ithaca Grand Prix of Cyclocross!

What a great race! JB Hancock, his wife, and family have really come up with something special in the middle of Michigan. With all the features of a world class cross course, and the flare of events like the Iceman that really some up the culture of bike racing, the Ithaca GP of CX is a must do event for anyone that truly enjoys cyclocross. If you have not made this event yet, please add it to your calendar for next year -- and thank me later. Team Sandbag was fortunate enough to help present the race, and what a great year to do it! By the looks of the results, the race had doubled if not tripled racers! So if we're lucky again, hopefully we will be invited back to host next year's event. Another cool thing about presenting the event was that it really got our team involved by helping out, learning a little about racing and setting up for cyclocross.

The day of the event was perfect. We had several team mates in the C-race. Curt who finished a very strong 5th in a large field of 24, Benny, Lee and of course Nolan doing the race for the 2nd year in a row and taking home 2nd place in the Junior class! In the B-class we had TP and myself. And In the Single Speed class, we had Brad doing his first ever CX race and finishing a very strong 6th place! And because I don't know any better, I had to double up and hopped in the SS class also.

At the Start of the B-race, I was feeling gooooooooood! it was a fast start and a prime on the line. I really did not want to blow myself up on the prime, but once we went I was sitting near the front. Then Eric Kohler pulled past me on his single speed and took the cash. I was still setting near the front and marking all the fast guys in the class and looking for wheel to sit on. We went through the amphitheater stairs in a large group. I jumped on my bike, tried to take the inside corner. Touched a wheel, and then jack knifed my wheel and went down. A few guys landed on top of me, and by the time I got up I went from top 5 to about 14th. I did not panic, but I had my work cut out for me. So I turned the power on and started picking off riders one by one. Even though I was using a ton of energy to get back into the game, I was feeling stronger and stronger. I made my way back up to 6th place and was ready to make my move to take 5th and then my rear tire popped! NOT AGAIN!!!!! And this time I just rolled past the pit! So that meant I had to run and entire loop with my bike on my shoulder before I could grab my pit bike again. So needless to say I finished dead last.

But there was hope! I still had the single speed race to do. I there was any amazing 15 racers in the class! WOW! Again the whistle blew and I found myself pulling the lead to the prime and here comes Eric Money Bags! Quickly the fast guys sorted things out. Eric was gone off the front, Wayne Cook as fast as every right behind him. Some guy I don't know, and Pat Russel. I was able to stick on Pat's wheel for most of the race, in which I was very happy to do. Pat is fast and can whoop on me any day of the week. So to hang with him lets me know where my training has taken me so far! A few laps around the park and I was still sitting in 5th. The the 3rd place guy stopped in the pit and grabbed his pump. I took advantage of this and put the power down to try and grow a gap as big as I could. I was able to stay away for the entire race, but was letting Pat slip away in the final 2 laps. I came across the line in 4th place with a large gap. So I felt like I redeemed myself and had a great race. Especially going into the Munson CX night race next weekend.

If I can keep air in my tires, it is game on at Munson!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Double Cross Weekend!

With training going well, and the uncontrollable urge to race cyclocross again, I was ready as I could have been heading into the Tailwind/KTR Double Cross weekend. The plan was to do both the B-race and Single Speed race both days since I registered for both class for the entire series. I was soon to learn that my body is not up to the task of doing 4 cross races in 3 days, but lessons learned. Other than that, I felt I rocked it in my first 2 B-races. So here is how it went...

Day1 -- Like a kid at Christmas, I was both nervous, excited and could not wait to race! I lined up in the front row of the B-class and thought to myself I need to get out front and stay there if I could. The whistle blew and we were off. I had trouble clipping in at first and lost between 8-10 spots before we hit the grass. A few touch of bars with a Rhino, and I began to pick my way through the mass of riders. One by one, I was able to claw my way up to the top 5 group. I forced a small gap, maybe 10-15 seconds, and then noticed a thump in my tire. What the hell? I was coming up to the pits and had to make a choice. I decided to grab my pit bike, and it was only the 2nd lap. I lost several positions now, and had to waste a lot of energy trying to catch up. Finally made contact again with Mark Caffyn who was holding onto 5th. I would yo-yo off his wheel, especially when we got on top of the new flyover "orange crush". Mark was a lot cleaner than I was getting on to his bike than I was at the top of this monster. As we continued to push through the final laps, I had one more chance to bring back Mark in the final set of barriers leading into a sprint finish. I tried to take a chance and run through the barriers as fast as I could. I had so much speed that my feet could not catch up. I caught the top of the 1st barrier with my left foot and began to fall face 1st into the 2nd one. My bike hit the first barrier and I lucky stayed on my feet. My handle bars were twisted, and my chain fell off. As I put my chain back on a Paint Creek rider passed me, so instead of sprinting for 5th, I was now coasting home for a still solid 7th place in my first ever B-race.

Race #2 was on the single speed. No fire works, just a lot of pain. The course was bumping and my back was killing me. I still continued to push as hard as I could and took 3rd out of 4th. So a podium none the less. Le Bastard was a sweet ride and should be fun to pedal the rest of the series.

Day 2 -- Surprisingly I recovered very well from the day before. But I was doubting how I was going to race on Day 2 after spending myself 2 times for Day 1. So it was on. I had an even worse start than the day before. And I was sucking wind. Sitting in about 10th place for 3 laps. I stuck to Tom Payn's wheel and just waited. After the 3rd lap, Wayne "the Single speed mad man" Cook joined our group and was setting a good pace. I did not think I would hang with Wayne for long, but we were now coming up to the tail end of the top 5 group. Then it happened. Not sure why or how, but I got a second wind. My lungs and legs opened up, and I put in an attack to shake the group I was with. There was really no response, and suddenly I was sitting in 4th place with a considerable gap. It stayed this for about 2 more laps, then somehow Jason "OX" Melecosky made his way up to me and actually put a gap into me. We battled it out back and forth for the rest of the race. Coming into the final set of barriers, Jason made a move to try and catch 3rd place at the line. I could not hang on. However, after my crash yesterday I kept the power going and kept telling myself "anything can happen!". Then it did. In the final turn, Jason over cooked the corner, slide out onto the ground. Then almost recovered, and then went over the bars. I kicked it up and began to sprint to make sure I got around him before he could get back on his bike. I hit the pavement and sprinted home for 4th place! My first B-race podium!

I was so sore and tired that I decided not to race Single speed the 2nd day. No use in getting goofy injury now. So next week it the Ithaca Grand Prix of Cyclocross!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Team Sandbag is proud to partner with JB Hancock in 2009 to support this event. A warm welcome to all who participate, you are sure to enjoy a great day of cross action in Michigan. Come race one of the most exciting events of the fall. The Ithaca Grand Prix Of Cyclocross is coming back to the Ithaca Woodland City Park Sept. 27th, 2009.
Great prizes, the BEST cross course in the state and good times are guaranteed. Registration, Complete Info and More!click here: Ithaca Grand Prix

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Finishing Touches...

The time is near. With the long holiday weekend, I am able to put the finishing touches on my prep for the cyclocross season!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Stony Curse Continues

2006 -- Stony XC Marathon, Flat tire and severe cramps
2007 -- Stony XC Marathon, Crash (in which I still have a numb spot in my leg) severe cramps
2008 -- Stony XC Marathon, Flat is 4 miles
2008 -- Stony TT, Flat at the start line before the whistle
2009 --

I was feeling like a million bucks! And when we got to the line, the top 3 guys in the class had either moved up to Elite or did not race. So this left the rest of us bottom feeders with something to shoot for. But this is the Expert class and it is not easy no matter who shows up. And the usually suspect that beat each other up week after week were all there. Brad, Adam, Greg, Jason, Derick. So there was sure to be some fire works. At the start 2 guys launched off the front and were gone. The leader stayed away for the win, the second guy blew himself up. As for Brad, Adam, Greg and myself, we were locked wheel to wheel and Greg was setting a blistering pace. Our first lap was 33 mins and some change. This was up there with the top lap times of all the expert classes. Then at the end of the 2nd lap, my rear tire was getting squishy. OH NO! Not now. I decided that it may just be a slow leak and decided to drop out of the top 5 group and hit it with CO2. It was firm again and I took off. 5 mins later the quick link in my chain popped off. I could not believe it. I jumped off to see if the chain just fell off and quickly found it was apart. I then noticed that my slow leak turned into a complete flat. So that was it. My top 5 dreams for the day were shattered, and so was my morale. I walked out of the woods and took a DNF. I finished 8th out of 22 that qualified for the series overall. So I guess that's not too bad in my first year of expert. If I did not have the bike issues, I seriously felt I could have contended for a top 3 in the race, and 5th overall for the series. Oh well, that is racing. But man am I feeling strong. With CX just a few weeks away, I am really feeling ready to mix it up in the B-class.

There was still some good of the day. Nolan completed his 3 USAC XC race with a 4th place! This was enough to give him the podium for 3rd place overall in the series for Beginner men 10 and under. He rode great. Climbed several hills he had previously never made it up, and push as hard as he could the whole time. Way to go bud.

Finally notes and congrats

Brian Crook -- congrats 3rd overall in expert 30-39 in his first year as expert!
Tom and Shawn -- 1st and 2nd in the Sport men 35-39. See you boys next year.
Brad, Adam, Greg. You guys killed it Sunday! Brad way to grab 5th even with a broken pedal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Doing Battle at the Fort

The 2nd to last race of the Tailwind XC MTB racing series for this year was one of my favorite places to ride and race. Fort Custer State Rec area. This place has everything you could ever wish for in a MTB trail. And as the Cyclocross season approaches, this is the perfect race to test how my training has been going. The course is a 14 mile loop for a 1 hr max effort TT. In a nut shell it went OK. I felt like a million bucks before, during and after the race. But I did have some issues.

For starters, I could not stay on the bike in the first race and this basically caused me to lose too much time overall to be a real contender. The first stop was in the trenches. The guy that went off with me in the start house crashed and looked like he broke his wrist. Since it was about 2-3 inches from where it should have been placed on his arm. When I seen this I slammed on the brakes and focused my attention on making sure there was nothing else seriously wrong with him or that he did not go into shock. I asked him several time if he needed me to help him out or go and get help. He declined every time. When I was finally convinced that he would be OK on his own and declined my last offer of help, I started racing again. I finally got a good groove going again, and was hitting speeds of 20 mph in some sections of flat single track. About half way through I caught the edge of a sandy off camber down hill and the sand let go throwing me to the ground. Ouch! Did and quick inventory and got back on. Found my rhythm again and pushed as hard as I could. Then I began to pick a few folks off. Sweet! I am rocking. I got about 2 miles away from the finish and was on this dudes wheel. We started to go down hill and I caught a small tree with my handlebar. I did not completely crash, But I did hit hard enough to spin my handlebars about 6 inches off of center. I tried to finish the race with crooked handlebars but it was not working. So I stopped again to straighten them out. I finally finished in a time of 1:04. Not bad considering. It was faster than last year's time and the course was about a 1/2 mile longer. But I feel if I could have stayed moving the whole time I would have came in at 1:03 or even 1:02. Maybe next year.

But my day was not over. This was after all just another training day for CX right? So I entered the Single Speed race. This race went much better in terms of rhythm. I stayed upright the entire time. I was only able to manage a 1:08 on the clock. I pushed a 34x16, so maybe a different choice of gears would have helped. But in the end, I still think it was a solid time on a tough course to race 2 times in a day on. And the best part -- I felt like a million bucks.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pontiac Lake XC

HOT! That is was. And at 90 degrees, my first goal of the day was try not and cramp. So I guess I hit my goal since I did not cramp at all, and the rest of the day went well also. There was a large field today in Expert 30-39. 19 total. Most of us were surprised at the size, because it seemed like there were only 20 cars in the lot before the start. So it went something like this.

After good warm up, we lined up. I was already sweating like crazy. The temps were already in the 80's at start time. The whistle blew and we were off. I decided to line up in the back and pick off folks as I went about my business. I hooked up early with Greg Donnie, Brad Lako, Adam Naish, and Jason the OX! We had a good pace line going and Greg and Brad were putting out a blistering pace that the rest of us could not hold on. Then it was Adam, Jason, and myself. Adam quickly peeled off the back. By this time, we were finishing up the first lap. Jason, put a gap on me by about 30 seconds as the 40+ guys came steam rolling by. I finished the first lap with a personal best time of 43 mins! I was stoked about that, but there were still 2 more laps to go. I caught Jason again about 4 miles into the 2nd lap. Passed him on the big climb and put a small gap into him, for a hot second. He said he was whipped, but I wish I could still ride like him when I am whipped. I Felt very strong and consistent for the rest of the race. My last 2 laps were 46 and 49 mins. Not bad, especially on such a tough course and with temps in the 90's on the last lap.

Coming home on the last lap, Jason was still on my tail. We battled back and forth, but I tried to put the gas on when I could to drop him. It didn't work very well. Until about the last 2 miles. Knowing I was still feeling good and would not cramp, I pushed up the last 2 large hills with all I could. On the final switch back climb, I could not see him. I popped it up in the big ring and sprinted home. 10 place. Not bad for a tough day.

This was the first race on the 29er Superfly. The bike handled awesome. I could really lay it in the corners, accelerate nicely on the flats, glide over the rocks and roots, and hammer up the climbs. Very Happy!!!!

As I am 100% into my training for cyclocross, it is going very well. In fact, I think my CX training even helped me out for today's race. I am doing 2 week builds with 1 week rest, and my body seems to be handling the stress better than when I was doing 3 week builds with 1 week rest. So live and learn. But for now the focus is on hard interval at short efforts, and power!

My next stop will be the Fort Custer TT. I am looking forward to this race as it is a favorite place for me to ride. In addition, it will only be 1 hr long. Right up my alley! This will also be a good gauge to see where my fitness is with Cyclocross in a few weeks. Furthermore, I feel this is my last and only real chance of cracking the podium 1 last time for the mountain bike season.... But we will have to wait and see.
Thanks again to Steve Balogh for letting me use the picture!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My New Big Boy Bike!

I finally done it. I joined the big wheeled revolution. I could not resist any longer and jumped on the 29er bandwagon. After a seeing what the big wheels have done for some fellow racers, and hearing their testimonials, I jumped in with both feet. One of the reason I have held out for so long was giving up my 21.5 pound Giant XTC C1 carbon racer for a clunky 25+ pound 29er. But then in the last few years Gary Fisher came out with the Superfly and now getting a light weight 29er for a good price seemed reasonable. Admittedly, I have never been a Fisher fan, but come on, if you don't think a Superfly is not sexy you kidding yourself. So after stripping the XTR drive train of the Giant, and dropping some cash on some lite weight carbon goodies, I was able to build up a 23 lb. 29er race rig. This thing has enough carbon fiber to make a European Sports car Jealous! As mentioned above, I transferred a lot of stuff over from the Giant. But with out going into to much detail here are some of the new highlights of the build

Mavic Crossmax 29ers
Raceface Next Carbon crank (Only 730 grams with BB!)
FSA OS 99 Carbon Stem (Super lite)
Avid Juicy Ultimate Brakes (In Sexy white!)

Now if I can only buy a set of legs and lungs....enjoy!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Stony Creek TT

Last weekend, was the Stony Creek TT. Man how I am missing the Tailwind TT series. The reason I like TT's so much is the more I race, the more I am realizing I like to go as hard as I possibly can, I just want to do it in a short amount of time. Like a cyclocross race! Stony is about all that is left of the original series (at least this year with the economy) and now it is entirely apart of the MMBA CPS series with Tailwind's help. So with that in mind, I am not in the CPS points race, so this race really didn't mean much for me other than to go have a good time and get in a good TT race with a good size field. But I also wanted to mix things up a bit and decided to do it on my Cyclocross pit bike. Nothing like a little early CX training - right?

When I took off I felt great! I was burning up the flat grassy section right before you enter the single track. Got to the first river crossing, dismounted trotted through the creek and back on the saddle. Yeah! Just like a real CX race! Then it was through the pines into the double track and I thought, I am rocking this bike today! Then came the "Roller Coaster". This is when I realized that my choice of bikes may not have been the best idea. I felt every rock, root, and bump. The little 1 inch tires were squirmy in the corners and not forgiving on the steep descents. I could not tell you how many times I could hear the rear rim bottom out on rocks or roots. And I would just wait for the pssssss sound to come after. But it never did. I still rode smart and limited my risk through the single track so that I would make it out in one piece. Even though riding the CX bike through the single track was brutal and sketchy, it was a blast at the same time! And the effort can only improve my bike handling skills for the coming months. After the single track was complete, it was time for the 2nd river crossing. I dismounted early and put the bike on my shoulder and began to run over the huge tree that crossed the trail and then through the small creek. I did not preride the course this year and failed to remember that there was a decent size section of single track before the actual 2nd creek crossing. So thinking it was only a few yards, I continued to run with my bike on my shoulder down the single track. I was starting to lose so huge chunks of time and then realized This was not the best method. I put the bike back down and rode to the creek. By this time, I had already ran off 1/2 the single track. Oh well. I ran through the creek jumped on my bike and pushed as hard as I could all the way back to the finish line. I managed to take 7th place out of 14 racers, and put up a 56 min lap. Not bad on a 'cross bike!

On another note, Nolan raced his 2nd MTB race and this time it was 12 miles long! He did a great job and climbed like a billy goat and descended like a rock. He challenged himself the whole way by making it up hills that he was never able to complete, and going down hills he would have walked in the past. As a result, he took home 3rd place for his 2nd race in a row! But the Osgood racing doesn't stop there, My 3 year old daughter Makenna tore it up in the kids race. Just like her big brother, she is starting young and dialing in her skills early. I am sure I will be writing about her results very soon.

My favorite results for the day -

Jason Melecosky - Taking 5th without hardly racing this year. This is why we call you OX.
Jim Goerlich - 1st Place in sport SS! Way to go Jim.
Joe Gilbert - 2nd place like a diesel engine week after week!
Tom and Shawn -- WOW! This is becoming a great battle to watch. And to think, we still have CX season ahead of us....