Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pontiac lake TT! It's On!

My official race season began today with the Tailwind USAC Michigan State Championship XC MTB Series with the Pontiac Lake Time Trail. This race is one of my top 3 with the Pontiac Lake XC race being in that mix also. So for me, I wanted to do very well especially with the Brighton Stage race right around the corner. Today would be a big test. Would my fitness be on track? Could I crack the top 5 in one of my favorite races? Well Mother Nature let us all know that it was still spring. And that it would not be an early season mountain bike race if there wasn't a bit of mud to go around. But she decided to play nice and give us a few hour break and get in some racing. The course drained well, and was still technical and fast. The rain did not keep a lot of folks at home as I expected. The parking lot was full. And almost ever class was huge. This is great news for the State's economy, Tailwind, and the sport of mountain bike racing in Michigan. Hopefully we can start growing the sport again....

As for the racing, I was feeling good. My training has been right on schedule and the first few "tester" races I did early on were pointing to a good day for me at Pontiac. So I lined up and was off. The entire time I was going as hard as I could, but still felt comfortable on all the climbs. The course was still wet and muddy in the corners, but my big 29er Crossmax wheels with Karma rubber hooked up well and gave me the confidence to take some risk and push harder. After my first lap, I was curious as to how I would feel for the rest of the race, but my legs were right on. I kept up a high pace for as long as I could, and did not hold back. About 4 miles from the finish, my seat post decide to reposition my seat for me. So I was force to sit on the point of my saddle for the rest of the race. This was very uncomfortable, but I did not panic. And then shortly after that, a large vine hanging across the trail decided to clothesline me and almost took me off my bike. Again, I gathered my composure and pushed on. The trail was in great shape by now and I was almost done. I big ringed it all the way to the end until my legs filled with lactic acid. I was done. My laps were 43 and 45 mins. Wow! Those were some on my best lap times ever, I thought to myself. This was also good enough for me to hold on to 5th place out of 17 racers. I hit one of my goals!

But my day was not over. As the course improved, I was getting geeked to do some single speed racing. I was not sure how well I would do since I just spent myself in the first race. So I lined up and was off. And within a few mins, the switch went off in my head and I was racing again! I could not believe how well I was feeling. So again, I pushed as hard as I could and felt strong all the way to the end. When I crossed the line I was surprised to see that I knocked out a 44 min lap! This time I did not step onto the podium, but I did get a respectable 7th out of 10.

So my fitness appears to be on. And with a podium finish my confidence is high too. So my next focus is the Brighton Stage race. Next to the Iceman, this will probably be my big mountain bike race of the year... We will see.

Congrats to Brad and Shawn. You guys put in a fine effort today and will be hard to beat as the season goes on.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yankee Doodle Dandee!

In 2006 I did my first mountain bike race. I was over 230 lbs, I crashed 3 times, and suffered a slow leaking flat tire with no tools. I finished something like 11th with a time of 1:20 or so in a 12 mile TT. That was it, I was hooked. And the place it all happened was Yankee Springs. A lot has happened over the 4 years since I raced at Yankee springs. My kids have grown. I lost 50 lbs. I have moved from a beginner Clydesdale to an Expert racer. Heck, I have even been through a few new bikes! So with the beginning of the new bike season upon me, I wanted to go back and race Yankee...

I have not been to Yankee since my very first race, so I was excited. It almost felt like riding single track for the first time. Not only was I jonesing for some dirt, I was looking for a real good result. Training has been going extremely well, and I have been feeling strong, fit, and ready to compete! So The Yankee TT was the perfect place for me to test the legs on a short technical course, go up against a deep and strong filed, get in some awesome training time, and test out the new Dillinger Single Speed under race conditions.

So in my typical fashion, I got a quick warm up in and strolled over to the start line to see what was happening. I still had 10 mins before the start of my race, but then noticed that hey I should be the next one on the line! They moved up the start times!?!? I threw my bike over the tape and lined up. I clipped one foot in my pedal and the guy said in 15 seconds! OMG! GO... I was shot out of a cannon, and I never looked back. Instantly in the trail I was picking off people left and right. And then I noticed that about 8-9 of these people were in the single speed class???? How can this be when I was in the 3rd wave, which meant I was the 5th rider off in the Elite/Expert Single Speed Class. After that, I ran into a lot of traffic. Especially on the climbs at the worst possible times. On your Left, on your Right. It seemed like I was calling this out all the time. Oh well, enough of my bitching, but I was not the only one.... Back to racing!!

So I railed the Dillinger as hard as I could, and it respond well. My legs felt like jack hammers on the climbs and I was able to power through all the flats with ease. When I thought I may have been slacking, I was able to call down to the engine room for full speed ahead! I came across the line in 51:23. This was good enough to hold 6th place out of 20 in the Elite/Expert Single Speed class. Not bad for the first real mountain bike race of the year.

I was very happy with how the day went, other than the way the start waves were handled. But I know my training is on track. My bike handling was crisp. And I had a lot of fun!

Congrats to Tom Payn for his 4th place in the Expert 30-39! Your off to a great year...

The start of my real season starts next week with the opener of the USAC XC series at Pontiac Lake. This is one of my favorite races and venues to race at. It is also another TT which is right up my alley. So It is not a peak week for me, but I am looking for another good result. And if I'm lucky, I would love to see a top 5...

Friday, April 2, 2010


I kicked the bike racing season off early this year with the soon to be classic, Barry-Roubaix. Let's just say this race is awesome. The fast dirt roads, the almost unrideable sand, and the quad and lung burning climbs make this one incredible race! In addition, this is a great race to test your early season fitness and see how competition is looking for the year. I went into the race with realistic expectations, but was looking to find some good form and have a good result. In the end I was happy, but it was not without issues. So without writing my life story, here is the cliff notes version on my race.

With the 1-2 mile neutral roll out. I was able to get the legs loose. Then it was on! I stayed near the front group and the climbs started right away. Legs felt good and I was able to gain several most positions. By about mile 8, we had a fast strong group putting out a good pace. I was killing it on the flats. Every time I had a chance to dance in my big ring, I took full advantage. And then it all started to fall apart...

It all started with my chain falling off to the outside of my big ring. I tried to flip it up with my crank arm, but with no luck. I had to stop and fix it. As I stopped, the group I was with rode out of sight! I got back on and started sprinting to try and catch up. Shortly after, my chain fell off again but I was not going to stop. So I tried to reach down and pick it up with my hand. As I was riding down a hill and trying to grab my chain, some how my hand touched my front wheel and it got sucked into the top of my fork and on top of my tire! OUCH! I was moving about 15-20 mph down the hill with my hand stuck in my fork and there was nothing I could do. The rear of my bike kept bucking up. I tried to pump my brakes to slow down. I finally got it out at the bottom, but the damage was done. I had 2 huge holes in my glove with what looked like 3rd degree burns to my fingers from sitting on top of the tire. I stopped to make sure I did not break my hand and figure out how I actually kept my bike up avoiding a more serious accident. From hear on I fought through the pain and finished the race strong even without being able to use my big ring for the rest of the race. I finished 18th out of 49 with a time of 1:58. Not bad considering all that happened.

The highlight of the weekend was letting Loose my my buds from Rouge Racing Project out of Louisville KY! These are the former TSB boys. And we had a great time sipping beers and talking shit. We figured this race will be an annually meac for both teams to meet up in the spring to let loose. And then we will do it again in the fall at the USGP in KY! So look out for this to really start to get out of control....