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...