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!