Saturday, December 31, 2011

By the Numbers...

This post probably don't mean too much to anybody but me, but here is some of my data for 2011. Training has already kicked off for 2012, and I am hoping for good things to come.

Happy new year!

Total Bike Miles: 4,373
Total Running Miles: 96
Total Training Hours: 305

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mr. T Starter Kit! - 2011 Bling...




What started out as a bad year of weight gain, work stress, piss poor training, and then racing was turned around in July with a new position, some weight loss, better training, and a renewed focus on racing. Especially with CX in my sights. So as for the year I am very pleased with my results. I try to set some goals every year, to drive me and keep me focused. These are goals that are reachable but always challenging for me. So how did I fare for 2011?

My mountain bike season started out rough. I focused on more endurance miles, which I saw a big return on my endurance for the longer races. But weighing over 190 lbs left me struggling to reach the podium. What made it worse was a string of like 3 or 4 6th place finishes. But again, July came and a lot was lifted off my shoulders. For the last 3 races of the Tailwind Series, I nailed 3 spots on the podium. My morale improved and I was back on track. CX was in full swing now but there was still one more mountain bike race to settle the score. The ICEMAN. And this time it was a USAC sanctioned race, so doing well meant even more to me this year than ever before. I was nailing my training plan, and had one goal in mind. Win the damn thing! I gave it my all and just missed winning by less than a minute. But I set a personal best time on a longer course and came home with 2nd place in my class. My best result to date!

Then came the Cyclocross season. I was stoked. I knew I would be a player somewhere in the Master 35+ class, but where was yet to be seen. I started out the season racing doing the B race at Plaster Creek which is part of the Kisscross series and I took a commanding win. I was surprised that I just beat 40 other guys, but knew this was not a USAC race. That's the one I was hungry for... The following week was the kick off to the Tailwind series, and I came out swinging. I took the Win on the 1st day! I could not believe it. It was my first win since 2008! I was really stoked, and this confidence carried me through the rest of the season. I was a top 3 guy almost every race and finished up the series 3rd overall in points. I missed a state championship medal, but can not complain about my consistency through out the season. In addition, I fared well at the USGP's racing single speed and finished in the top 10 at all but the last race.

So as for my actual goals, here is how I did.

Mountain Bike Goals

1. Finish Top 3 at Brighton Stage Race Overall - Took a DNF.
2. Break top 3 in a USAC XC Race - Did not accomplish in Tailwind, but did at ICEMAN!!!
3. Finish in top 5 at least 4 times in Any Series - I accomplished goal, thanks to ICEMAN.

Cyclocross Goals

1. Top 3 overall in Masters 35+ for Points - Nailed it! 3rd overall!
2. Top 3 at the CX state Championship race - Missed it. Took 4th.
3. Win a USAC CX Masters 35+ race - Nailed it!!!! and took a total of 4 wins counting my single speed races and plaster creek.




I am already looking forward to 2012, and am eager to get back on the bike and push my limits. Goals are being set, and training plans getting dialed in...




Thanks again to everyone who cheered and encouraged me along the way. it is a big help. And look forward to seeing all of you again at the races!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Come on... one more dance!








My season officially ended after Springfield Oaks, but I could not resist the chance to do one more local race. Especially since it would be a new venue for me. JB Hancock was designing the course, and I had nothing on the line so no pressure. After Springfield, I took a complete week off the bike, and now feel like a complete slug. But how much fitness could lose? I'll be OK for one more dance right?

The race was the Stomach of Anger Series final - Big Bad Wolf CX by Red Zone Racing. And unlike the Mad Anthony race in the Stomach of Anger series, this was a well thought out, regulation, fun with lap counters CX course. Brian did a wonderful job using all the terrain to make for a fast free flowing challenging CX course. One of the best this year! Team Sandbag was out for total domination today. Starting with Jacob Ridley taking a win in the C-race. Securing him as series champion! Then for something new, Curt, Jim and I lined up against 4 other 3 person teams in the team race and came home with gold! and a few growlers!!!! Jim went first and stuck to Jim Hilditch's wheel for the first lap. Then curt took his turn and past Kevin of the Racing Greyhounds to put us in First. the final lap was up to me. With a small lead, I punched it pulling away farther and farther from the final Greyhound! Crossed the line and collect our Beer! This was one of the funnest, most exciting cx races I have ever done. We need more stuff like this in the state! Next up was all 3 of us lining up for the single speed class for 60 mins. And again, it was a TSB clean sweep of the podium --- AND MORE FREE BEER!

I expect for this race to grow and would recommend it highly. Especially is JB stays involved.

Furthermore, this was a great day for Team Sandbag and myself to end the season. Now it time to start planning for next year.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Not what I had in mind... Part 2



Well, Springfield Oaks is becoming my new Stony Creek. 2 years in a row now I came up empty handed. Last year was my rear shifter going out, leaving me with no morale, and a DNF. This year I was ready (at least I thought) but it just didn't workout. I think I'm kind of like that stuff you buy at the Hostess Outlet store. You know, the stuff that's outdated. It still taste good, but just not as good as it is when its fresh....

The conditions were what I was hoping for, but sometimes you wish and wish, then you get and get. It was too muddy. At least for a heavy guy. But it was the hand that everyone was dealt. So it was our turn. Masters 35+ looking around, there were some new faces. Title sniping! But it was to be expected. It really didn't matter to me at that point. Because I only had 2 things to worry about Try to beat Simon and Dan Bannink. From the start, I let a few guys go. Pete Thompson, Adam Naish and a few others. I wanted to race smart. I was in a good spot, and as soon as we hit the slippy down hills, I was starting to pass guys left and right. I was now sitting near 3-4th, and growing a gap. But the course was zapping my power. Still fighting, and holding my own. Andrew Weir came by and I pushed on. I was still in the top 3 hunt for states. Half way through the race, I was still feeling good and looking for opportunity to bridge the gap back to Andy who I could still see just ahead. And then it happened... In the off camber section of the course, my chain fell off the cassette on the inside and got stuck in the spokes. I was forced off the bike, and had to yank it out by hand. During this time at least 5 guys passed me. I was pissed, but did not panic. I jumped on the bike and 50 ft later, it happened again. I finally got it back on again and was riding. as soon as I hit the next technical section, I caught all the guys that just passed me except for Todd Frerichs. Todd slowly inched his way away from me for the rest of the race. I tried to burn the rest of my matches to make contact, but they were gone from the attacks after the mechanical. Then Jarod caught and passed me, but I was able to make one more move to pass him again. It didn't last. He passed me again. Final final nail in the coffin was when Dan came around me riding the strongest race he had all year. I new this was the final spot on the podium for the Masters 35-39 state championship. And my last chance of seeing a top 5 for the race.

I was disappointed, but realized that a lot of things were out of my control. More importantly, I learned a ton about training and realizing when your body has told you its enough. I had a great run for the entire season, and I can't hang my head on 1 race in which I didn't get the result I was looking for. As my good friend Brad Lako told me today... It's just fuel for the fire.

Overall for the points series I took 3rd. It was unbelievable how tight the series was for the entire season. My hats off to all the guys I raced against in Masters. It will be a season I will never forget.

Congrats to all the state champ podiums (some of my favorites - Simon, Jarod, Todd F, Sven, Kelly, Jeff W, Wiz, Jim G, JB, Andrea, DC, Keith, Andy, Pete, Marc D, Rich S.). And thanks to everyone for their support, encouragement and cheering this year! You are all the best!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Attack!!!! - The Battle of Bloomer CX





The season may be winding down, but it honestly feels like the Masters 35+ Class is still heating up. As soon as I got to the race, it just felt special for some reason. Sure it was Bloomer. Same song and dance, but everyone was happy, excited about racing, and there were a lot of new people out finally giving this CX thing a try. And for some reason the crowd was really into it for this race as well. Every class that raced, yelling, screaming, laughing! it was great! I felt like I was in my own little Tour de France, as I rounded every corner, ever hill, every straight someone was yelling my name or cheering me along, and they were all loud as hell! it was awesome, and just made me want to go that much harder. I can't thank everyone enough for that! it truly helps when your body is telling you to stop!

So the race. Everyone was ready to win. With only 2 races left, its been on every one's mind. Either "Can I score one more before the season is done?", or "Can I win just one before the season is done?" These were the questions on every one's mind at the start line. You could almost smell it. You could see the twinkle in every one's eye. You could see the drool on their lips. This was going to be an all out old school cyclocross battle in the Masters 35+! Just as Jarod said at Iceman " this is about bragging rights Bitches!"

And it begins. One of the most talented Fields assembled of the year. Simon, Johnson, Makowski, Bannink, Stack, Selle, Frerichs, Hilditch. They all been down this road before, and all know how to get it done. It was nothing short of a battle field. Everyone with strategic plans, and back up plans. As soon as the whistle went the attacks started. First for the hole shot was Johnson. He was successful with this move at Vets park, the chase was immediately on. Simon grabbed his wheel and I followed for 3rd. Over the wood chip pile and into the course. Shortly after I heard a loud crash. I guess Ron Stack's wheel came off. We kept on marching at the front. Johnson kept up a good pace, but started to let up into the 2nd lap. I was ready to cash it in if I had the chance, so at the start finish area - I went! I drilled it. Started to open up the gap a bit. But it did not stick. By lap 4, the group was back together. This time Simon came around and Jarod Followed. David and I stayed back, and the gap grew. By this time Jim Hilditch was still with us and decided to attack and start to bridge the gap. We could see the leaders the entire time just dangling in front of us. With 2 laps to go, I was yo-yoing off the back of David and Jim. I did make contact again, and when I did, I attacked. this time I caused a little hurt, including myself. We were getting closer to the leader and them Simon made his last move. This was enough to for him to drop Jarod and eventually win the race. Jarod then joined us and it was on for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th! I would jump in front, then Jim would make a move and then David would attack again. We were wheel to wheel and stingy about giving up an inch! Up the finally climb behind the velodrome, it was important to be 1st going into the final paved section. David continued to pull ahead, and Jim tired to make a move around me. I went deep into the red. More like the "dark" red to not let him by. I was at the limit for the rest of the race. I was inching my way closer to David, and pulling away from Jim. I tried to sprint for 2nd, but was a few yards too short. So I protected 3rd place instead.

What an amazing race. And congrats to Simon, David, Jim, And Jarod for rounding out the top 5. One more to go boys!

Also, thanks to everyone for partying with me and killing my PBR 30 pack! And great job to JB for taking and finishing a full PBR hand up! JB was also the winner of the Elite prime! Awesome!

Monday, November 14, 2011

US Gran Prix of Cyclocross - Derby City Cup



Well, it's been 3 years in a row now that I have done this race, and it just keeps getting better. The course that was laid out for both days was by for the funnest and toughest CX course I have ever raced on. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser for the up coming Masters and UCI Worlds. So you wont want to miss'em if you can make it. As for my racing, I will keep it short - but I can say I felt really, really good both days. There was some deep talent in the single speed class for the the Derby City Cup this year, so any dreams of a top 3 finish were destroyed in the starting grid. But hey, I can still do the best I can so that is what I did. So with a top 10 goal in mind, this is how it went.


Day 1 - The toughest of the 2 courses, saw 3 sand pits 2 run ups, a fly-over, and set of barriers. And oh, steep punchy hills all about. I some how got a 2nd row start, and this caused me to fall mid pack at the start. So once I got the jitters out I went to work! I started some where in the teens, and picked off riders one by one. The good thing is, I was able to ride hard for the entire race, but still put in huge surges on the flats to attack, and open up gaps. It was awesome. When it was all done, I finished 8th out of 20 something. I felt this was very respectable, especially considering the guys racing at the front and the skill level needed to navigate the course.


Day 2 - Jim and I got there early and scouted out the course. Looked a little easier, except for the course went through a 12 inch deep mud hole. Why would they go out of there way to find the only mud hole on the course? Not a lot of happy people, and this will come into play later. I got a front row position this time and was ready and feeling good. The gun went and we were off. I was in about 5th place going through the barriers. Perfect! I was hanging off the back of the lead guys but they were still in site. A few guys got around, but I was still in a good position and growing the gap behind every lap. I was feeling stronger and better than the day before. Half way through the race, I was closing in on 3 of the guys that passed me earlier. Pop 1! Pop 2! and now I was closing in on 6th place. I was with in reach and I still had a allot of space between the chasers behind me. Going into the last lap, it was TT time and race smart. I nailed everything. And as I approached the mud hole for the last time, I started my roll, squared up the best possible line and splash oh $%&*! Something grabbed my wheel and threw me to the right side of the course through the tape and course stakes like a ton of bricks onto the ground! I popped up like I just stole 2nd base, but did not panic. I grabbed the bike and started to run. The front wheel would not roll. Then 1, 2, 3 guys passed me. Shit! I didn't have a rolled tubular but what the hell!? Finally someone in the crowd noticed my brake arm was jammed under my front rim. I beat it back with my hand, straightened out my now loose brake lever and jumped back on. I made a big push, and actually made it up to the tail end of the guys that passed me. But my brake level was loose and every time it move, it pulled my front brake to drag. So I finished the rest of the lap with my brake dragging and had to settle for 11th. Not bad with all the bad luck. Immediately, after our race. They took the mud hole out for the rest of the day. Go figure...


Congrats to Jon Card on 2 back to back wins in Masters 45+ Awesome!


And congrats to Mike Wissink for an awesome win on Day 1!


Even better, Mike showed he is truly a class act by sitting up in the last few hundred meters on Day 2 to let Richard Feldman through to take 2nd place, which allowed him to keep the leaders jersey going into the last round of the USGP. Nice job Wiz! (Feldman was on the front in one of the last turns. He took the outside line and was forced off his bike as the eventual leader went inside. This allowed Wiz to get around him and would have had an easy 2nd. However, this would have kicked Feldman out of the leaders jersey, and Wiz is not in the jersey competition this year.)That move made a huge impression on me. Thanks!

Finally, congrats to all the Miscene folks that made it down to race. There were some very good results across the board. And we all supported each other and represented very well! Always fun!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

ICEMAN Cometh!




Another great Iceman weekend in the books. It's always great to see so many people in place place enjoying their bikes out in the woods. And there is nothing like being able to test yourself against and other mountain bikers in a national level race in fields that are 70-100+ deep! The Iceman has been a very good race for me every year that I have done it. So I usually look forward to it every year. And with it falling in the middle of my CX season, I seem to be fit enough to give it my all. So this year, my goal was simple even though I didn't announce it to too many folks. I was going to try and win it. Plain and simple. But it wasn't going to be easy.



I was lucky enough to be starting in wave 1, because of my 3rd place finish and time from the year before. So this would surely help out my plan. Especially with the caliber of riders I could ride with such as Jarod, Selle, Brad, Tom Clark, Adam, Jason Lummis, Tom Payne, Dan Krajcovic, etc. The list went on and on. Its an awesome feeling sitting in wave 1 looking around as the national anthem is being played to realize that you are in a very select group of guys that are some of the fastest and best mountain bike racers in the state. Truly an honor!


The count down began, the whistle blew, and we were off in downtown Kalkaska! The start was fast and steady. The group all stayed together until we hit the dirt and then it started to string out. I soon found myself off the back a little, but did not panic as I could see the folks I needed to be riding with just ahead. I fought through the pack and soon found myself with Dan (Last years All Men 36 winner). I knew this would be a good wheel and someone I need to keep in reach. A few touch of brakes, bad lines, and traffic, Dan started to get a gap on me especially in the short single track sections. Again I did not panic, because I knew my strengths and made sure I had a smart race. I caught Brad and hoped to work with him through the pack. Shortly after, I was chasing Dan and the group ahead and closing fast. On the longer double track section, I made my move. I hammered and could see the guys I was after. It was a large group containing jarod, Dan, Selle, and a few others. I got on the tail end and recovered for a bit. The groups pace did not seem to be very strong, so I decided to pull around and go on the next climb. Jarod made the jump and at the top of the hill as Selle, Jarod and myself were all side by side, Jarod said with snot and spit hanging from his face, " this is for bragging rights bitches!" I laughed my ass off and he pulled away. I followed but soon got gaped a little in the next single track section by slower riders. Selle stuck on my wheel, and we dropped Dan. As we approached Williamsburg road, I knew I was going to have a great day. Legs felt strong and I was full of piss and vinegar! I began to sprint up the rest of the hills after to try and take away as much time as possible. As we got closer to the end and into the short punchy series of hills, Selle came around and pulled. I stayed with him, and would pull around and power as hard as I could through the flats. We got to Anita's hill, and slowly started my spin up. But the legs were not filling up with lactic acid like I thought they would at this stage of the game! OH YEAH. I sprinted the rest of the climb, went past Selle and said "hop on Rob" and went. That was the last I seen of him. I sprinted up the rest of the climbs and was closing in on the next group. I kept telling myself to push, push, push! By this time I knew I could be coming in around a 1:45 plus on the clock, and the possibility of 1st place was becoming a reality! I could feel the adrenaline pumping and could no longer feel any pain in my legs and went as hard as I could go. I finally caught the group that was ahead of me, and went right past. 2 of the guys went with me, and I just pedaled, and pedaled. Through the last section on single track I rode smart but took risk. Then the last challenge of the day, Wood Chip hill. I attacked 1 more rider I believe was in my age group, couldn't take any chances. I got to the top and he was gassed. I clicked up into my big ring and sprinted home. I looked at my clock before the last corner and realized I had a chance to beat my personal best time and go sub 1:49! I round the last corner and sprinted as hard as I could! 1:48:57! Personal best by over 40 seconds on a longer course. And I ended up taking 2nd place, missing 1st by only 54 seconds! I just had one of the best races of my life! I didn't win, but I can't say I didn't try.


Congrats to Tom Clark, Andy Weir for awesome wins! And Congrats and thanks to Jarod (2nd), Dan (4th), and Selle (5th) on great finishes and for the help! Also, Congrats to Simon, Jay, Jim B, Jim G, Adam, Jeff P, Don C and Brad L (Top 10 - stay focused) on some awesome results! There are several others so I apologize if I didn't give you some love here. You will get some personal love the next time I see you ; )

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vet"s Park CX - Day 2



Woke up this morning to below freezing temps, and a nice layer of front on the ground. By the time I got to the park, All the water in the ground, combined with the melting frost soon turned the course to mud during the C-race --- YES! So by the time the B's went, and masters were getting ready, the course was muddy and slick. Just what I have been looking for. It was time to put my Dugast Rhinos to the test.

We had a larger field today. All the fast guys were here and again, a few new faces. From the whistle, David Johnson took the hole shot. Then Simon Baliey and Jim Hilditch followed. I got in behind them. We let David go, figuring we could reel him back or he would just pop. This was a big mistake. At the beginning of the 2nd lap, I managed to work my way around Jim and onto Simon's wheel. He signaled for me to take a turn, so I figured it would be a good time to chase David down. I made huge surge, and after the long slick switch back climb, the slippery as hell run up, and then sketchy slick off camber turns through the trees, I quickly realized I rode everyone off my wheel except for Jarod Makowski. I continued to drive hard, and slowly started to cut into David's gap. I was slowly inching my gap longer between Jarod and myself lap after lap. I focused on riding smart and clean, and punched it through all the power sections. the 3rd to last lap, David must of made an attack because his gap suddenly grew out of reach. I tried to accelerate hoping he would tire out, but it was no use. However, this did open up my gap even more onto the rest of the field. By the time the last lap started, I could see a group of 3 riders working together to pull me back. It was Jarod, Simon, and Jim. Simon broke free, and was charging hard! I knew I could not give up my position with such a huge lead and in the last lap. I went "deep to the well" all the way up the run up to keep my lead. I then took some risks through the off camber sections, and sprinted up the final climb. I knew if I still had a good gap up the final climb Simon could not catch me. It worked! I finished with a solid 2nd place and one of the best races I have had all year.

My fitness seems to be right where it should be -- finally! And just in time for Iceman. I will see most of you all next weekend in Traverse City. And good luck to the remaining CX folks going to the UCI3 races in Cincinnati.

Great win today David. And Great job Simon, Jarod, and Jim and 2 podiums for the weekend. Also, great job to Mark Parmelee for a hard fought, smart 2nd place today! it was awesome to watch.

Brad Lako - Thanks for the photo and cheering me on. Your going to get that podium. 3 more shots left!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Vet's Park CX - Day 1

When I think of cyclocross, this is the place that comes to mind. Veterans Park in Ann Arbor Michigan. It is my favorite venue to race cross. Even more that the National level races. It has something for everyone there. And for some, maybe a little too much of what they don't like. But for me Vet's park is it.

This year was no different. As soon as I got there, I was giddy and ready to race! By the time the Masters were up. I was ready to rock. All the usual cast of characters were there along with a few "never seen before" folks which this race usually has every year. the whistle blew and we were off. I lined up right out the gate behind Jim Hilditch sitting in 3rd. This is exactly where I wanted to be. Let someone else control the pace, and attach or react on my terms. This was also important because the first switch back climb was very greasy and one wrong move could spell disaster! And it did. I took the tape to tape out side line, and David Johnson tired to cut across the inside to get around me. As soon has he did, one of the "never seen before" guys took a real shity line and clipped David's front wheel. This sent him sliding down the hill and backing up the race behind. I was able to ride around and hitched onto the Simon, Jim, and new dude train. The pace went up from here. I was sitting 4th on the back for most of the race. I would get gaped a little on climbs, but would come right back to them in the turns and off camber sections. The good news was, I was recovering quickly and could manage the accelerations like I wanted too. With 2 laps to go, it was still 4 of us on the front and we had a rather big gap from the next group. The pace seem to be fading, and I did not want anyone else to catch back up. Furthermore, I wasn't in the mood to play roadie tactics in a CX race, which seemed to be where the race was heading. So I was feeling really good and knew I had gas in the tank and attacked in the start /finish area! Only Simon and the new dude were able to hang on. Jim got popped off the back. I went for about 1/4 of a lap, then Simon and the new dude came around me. I stayed on their wheel the best I could. Simon was determined to keep the pressure on for the final lap and grew a few bike lengths out of reach. As we all round the final few turns, there was no way I was going to hitch back on. I finished 3rd - 10 seconds behind Simon who took his 2nd Masters 35+ win of the series. Congrats Simon!

Day 2 report tomorrow!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mad Anthony CX.



One of the cool things about cyclocross is the flexibility of where you can have a race. Almost anywhere! So when you get a chance to race in a historic U.S. Military fort that was built in the 1840's to protect our country against possible British attacks coming from Canada, how can you resist? So I finally got to do the Mad Anthony CX race this year. And I have to say it was really cool. I'm sure that this will become an instant classic in Michigan on the CX calendar as long and Joe Lekovish keeps getting permission to use the land. But I think having a bunch of folks riding around the fort in their PJ's actually will help bring awareness to this historical treasure, before it totally slips away into ruins. As it is already on it's way. This would be a great place to take the family and spend the day much like Greenfield Village or Fort Mackinac if it were all restored. It really would be a damn shame to let it slip away.

But back to racing. There was a huge turnout in almost all the classes. For this race, the masters would be doing a full 60 min race. The master 35+ was decent size with many new faces. However, most of the top guys from the Tailwind series were there so it was easy to spot who to watch as the race unfolded. From the start I had a great position. I stayed near the front for the first 2 laps. The pace was good, and very manageable. I was feeling good, and was ready to figure out if I was going to have a similar performance to Linden the prior week, or if I was dialed back in. In the beginning of the 3rd lap, Rob Selle was growing a small gap on the long straight away. Jarod Makowski and myself made the jump. I drifted a bit on the long grass climb, and this is when Jarod attacked. It was amazing! He absolutely turned himself inside out! From there Rob and I could not get back on. He got the gap and kept it for the win. Way to go Jarod! As for the rest of us, it was still a battle. Rob and I took turns trying to chase. Throughout the race, Patrick Russell and Dan Bannink caught back up and joined the chase. I slowly drifted to the back of this group but was still hanging on. Selle, made a small attack at the right time and was able to get a small gap. Patrick and Dan dropped me, but Dan got a flat. It was then time for the last lap. I buried myself past the red zone to see if I could catch Patrick and then Rob. I made contact with Patrick again, and could still see Selle dangling just ahead of us. Once we made it back into the fort walls, I cramped going over the barriers, and then cramped again up the last steep short climb. This was enough to lose Patrick for good. He finished just ahead of me for 3rd. I took a very tough 4th.

Overall I felt better than Linden. But I still feel like I am missing that "extra gear" to make an attack when I need to. I know some of the adjustments I have made during the week have paid off, but there may still need to be some tweaking.

I want to say thanks to all the folks that keep cheering and heckling me for all the races! You can't imagine how much this helps me keep digging deeper at every race. Especially when all I want to do is stop and puke! Thank you!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tailwind CX Race #4 - Linden Park

One thing I really enjoy about bike racing is the challenge of trying to figure it all out. Wheter its trying to advance through the ranks, Figuring out how to nail a personal best time, figuring out how to balance racing, training, work and family and still try to be competitive, its often the challenge that's most rewarding. When you look at it, it's sometime the race that's within the race that is more fun than the actual race. And when you finally figure how to win it, it's just as rewarding. As a result, there is usually a lesson learned and that usually makes you a better rider in the end.

So this brings me to Linden Park CX. The course was a lot better than last year. THANKS JOE BROWN! The same mix of loose bumpy twisty sections. Lots of grass, and the long road climb. I was not feeling 100% the days leading up to the race, but by the time I got to the park I thought I was feeling better ready to race. My warm up went well, and my confidence was high. We all lined up and and we went. I was 2nd wheel going into the course behind Jim Hilditch. He was setting a good pace but not blistering. However, it was only Simon and myself that latched on. By the time the beginning of the 4th lap started, Dave Johnson and Dan Bannink jumped up with us. This is when it happened. I completely popped! I went from feeling in control, to pedaling squares with lead legs. I tried to stay with the leaders, but was slowly slipping back. A little later, I washed my front tire out in a loose corner and went down. This allowed Dan to slip past me. I was now in 5th and trying to hold on. I never could make contact again with Dan or the leaders and finished the race riding alone. I hung onto 5th and had the dry heaves after the finish. What the hell happen? My lap times took a mean shift of around 20 seconds after lap 3. They were consistent, but the power was gone. As of right now, the 2 most likely reasons was a bonk, or dehydration. And in reality, it's probably a combination of the 2.

So as I mentioned in the beginning, It's time to figure out my challenge and nail down what went wrong. I had a good race, but it could have been better.

Congrats to Simon Bailey for the W. There have been 4 races thus far in the Tailwind series, and 4 different winners in the Masters 35+. What a great series this is going to be!

And great job Jim Hilditch, Dave Johnson, and Dan Bannink. You guys all rocked it and it could a went either way at the end.

Finally, Great job Brad Lako. You were there bro. just a little more!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tailwind CX race #3 - Munson Park



Anyone that has raced Munson before knows what it's all about. Windy, cold, grass, windy, cold, hill, windy, cold, flat, windy, cold. Well this year it was windy, cold, and they added the spiral of death - at least it was different. So even though Munson is not the best or most stimulating CX course around, it is fun to race and I have always seemed to do well their.

For this year, all I can say is it was one of the hardest CX races I have ever done! Not because of the course but because of the intensity at the front! All I can think of is one of the the lines from one of my favorite Slayer songs... "taste your blood as it trickles through the air"... to best describe it. Because I was past the red zone the entire time, and I could taste blood in my mouth and at times, blood mixed with puke at others. But boy was it fun!

From the whistle, I grabbed the hole shot and wanted to blow the field apart as soon as possible and see who could hang on. I put in a huge effort. Probably too big looking back at it, but I also wanted to explore where my limits were. I led for the first lap, and by the time the 2nd lap rolled through the start/finish, only Simon Bailey and David Johnson were left. And we had a huge lead. The race remained wheel to wheel for every single lap. And all 3 of us were on the gas, full tilt the entire time. It was so hard, that you could not even make an attack unless you wanted to completely blow yourself up. I stuck to their wheels the best I could hoping for someone to fall apart, or make a mistake. It did not happen. On the last lap, the pace quickened even more as Simon led us out. With only a few turns and the hill run up left, David Johnson went around Simon through a tricky corner and never looked back. Neither Simon or I could not react, but we still kept him within striking distance. However, the move was enough for David to stay a few feet ahead to take his first Win off the season, and it was up to Simon and I to decide 2nd. Simon led going into the final corner onto the short section of gravel. As soon as he hit it, he was out of the saddle sprinting. I did the same and came up to his side. We crossed the line at the same time, except I was about a 1/2 wheel behind. I had to settle for 3rd. Another great finish for me in a nail biting finish for first place!

Congrats to David for the Win. You earned it. And congrats to Simon for a great race, and putting the hurt on us to make us both earn our results. The Masters 35+ is going to be a hell of a series to be apart of, and a really good one to watch as well...

After the Masters race, I jumped into the Single speed class and took first. Not to much to write about. However, I really like racing my single speed. And I was happy with how I felt after the race, with the amount of effort I put out for the night. I just need to squeeze out a bit more fitness. Be able to have that "extra gear"... I think I am almost there...

Monday, September 26, 2011

USGP of Cyclocross - Planet Bike Cup - Madison, WI







What a great race series. I can't get enough of these. To race against some of the top talent in the country, See some of the best pro racers in the World go at it, and just be apart of a very festive well run event is awesome. This was the first time I did the Madison races. And I was not disappointed. The really cool thing that was even better than the Louisville races which are incredible year after year was the the WISCO fans really know how to party, cheer, make noise, heckle. Call it what you want, but they love their 'cross!

The weekend went very well for me. The goal was to try and take a top 10 in both days in the always tough and unpredictable single speed class. The course were very different each day, and mother nature decide to make it interesting on Day 2. But Day 1 was a very fast, twisty, course with well placed straight aways and punchy climbs. It was a course the suited single speeds very well, and suited power riders very well. So I was feeling good. I was on the front row, and punched it right off the line. I grabbed the hole shot and took a good lead going into the course. I controlled the flow for about 3/4 of a lap, and then the really fast guys began to pass me. But I was still rolling well, and picked off most of the Master 55+ class that started ahead of us. As I continued along. I started to pull back one of the single speeders that passed me earlier. I was struggling to get around some of the slower riders in the Masters class, so I could never pull him back. But lap after lap, I was continuing to distance myself from the rest of the class. In the end, I finished a very respectable 7th out 18 and felt great. This was my best USGP finish to date as I finished 9th last year in the single speed class in Louisville.

Day 2. As we woke up the clouds were gray and looked angry. We got to the course and within a few minutes. the sky opened up and dump ton of rain. It poured. It Thundered! It hailed! as the races continued, the entire course was a mud pit. 4 inches deep in some spots. This would be my first true in the rain, complete mud race, and I was getting really excited. I also, was nervous because I really didn't feel prepared as I was going to do this on a single speed, and I was running fangos. A tire I only raced on 1 time before, and that was yesterday! But I couldn't wait to get on the course and let the mud fly. Same as the day before I tired to grab the hole shot, but was just edged out by a wheel. But Sitting 2nd wheel was a good spot to be in as we all hit the mud at full speed. I powered ahead as I slipped and slid around. The top 5 guys soon came around me and I could not hold on. But there was also no one else behind. I forced the bike in corners. Rode the tape from side to side, and had an awesome race! As I continued to plow through the muddy course Curt my team mate was at the top of the Stanley Run Up informed me that I was closing in on 5th place. As I got to the top of the hill, I could see him. I started to push harder and took more risk in the off camber sections and turns. However, I ran out of laps, and had to settle for 6th place out of 21! Again very happy with the result and improvement. But even more happy know that I will be able to go toe to toe in the mud at any race.

My hats off to Jim Goerlich my team mate for finishing 7th on day 2 in the single speed race as well. He really stepped up to the muddy challenge, and let his mountain bike skills shine through!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Doublecross Weekend Day 2!

Wow, what a weekend. I have to say I am rather pleased and excited for the rest of the season. And the strength of the Masters 35+ field this year is amazing. Should make for some great racing to not only be apart, but to watch as well.

As for day 2, I was still riding high from my win the day before. I had a much better start to the race as well, and went into the grass 2nd wheel behind David Johnson. However, this did not last long as Rob Selle, Andy Fedwa, and Simon Baily pulled around me. As soon as we got to the Orange Crush, Ron Stack passed me. I was still haging on to the group but was slipping back 1 spot at a time. Meanwhile, David was putting in a huge lead over the field, but it was still very early. On the 2nd loop, Rob Selle went ahead to bridge the gap to David, and didn't look back. David slipped back into the pack, and I lost another position on the Orange Crush. By the time the 4th lap rolled around I was in a large group, and sitting 8th! Selle had a sizable lead, and Jarod Makowski was able to bridge back to Selle shortly after. I knew this was the train I needed to catch. I was starting to recover better and not making the simple mistakes as in the first few laps. Toward the end of the 4th lap, I made my move burying myself on a long straight section into a false flat. Only a few of the guys tired to grab my wheel. I knew everyone was starting to feel the effects of the race by now, but I also knew that this one move would not stick alone or bridge me back to the lead group. I continued to dig deep up the hill, and into the headwind on the pavement section. The group behind me was thinning out, and I was slowly getting closer to the lead group. At the start of the last lap, I finally caught Jarod and Selle. Into the grass, Jarod sat up a bit and said go ahead. I was rather surprised, but continued to go after Selle. By this time, I was also starting to ride Andy and Simon off my wheel. I came within a few hundred feet of Selle, and just like the day before, if I could have been into the single track section first, I would give myself a chance to pull away in the flats. Selle hit it first and continued to grow his lead. Finally into the last flatter sections, I was pulling time back again, but I was running out of it just as fast. I tired hard, and tried hard to make sure no one would latch on to my wheel and pull around me for a final sprint. I pulled closer but it was too late. Selle took an awesome win, and I finished 3 seconds behind for a hard earned 2nd place. I am super stoked about this weekend!

My hats off to David, Jarod, Selle, Andy, and Simon, Dan, Ron, and the rest of the Masters 35+ class. What a great group of guys to be racing with, and you all had great races!

And congrats to Andrea Tucker. She put down the camera this year to try some cyclocross racing! And rocked it out for 1st place both days. Awesome!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tailwind Doublecross CX Day 1!





Cyclocross is finally here!!!!! I felt like a kid at Christmas all week for this day to come. I was hoping that racing Kisscross Plaster Creek CX, would chill me out a bit. But it just aint the same. If you want to race some real cyclocross in Michigan, with real cyclocross talent in every class, it has to be a USAC race, and no one has been doing it longer or better than Tailwind. And this year's kick off was no different. The season/series kicked off with the traditional Doublecross weekend. Held at Waterford Hill Race track, the course has always got a surprise or 2. And of all the times I have raced here, this is the best course design I have seen here. My hats off to Joe Brown on a great job setting it up! The course itself consist of a nice black top start/finish area, some bumpy grass. A deep hole in the ground that acts as short single track sections in the middle, a set of barrier, and few twist and turns all over the place, and oh that favorite of every one's - the Orange Crush Flyover!

I got to the course early to try and sneak in a few quick recon loops to check out what I was up against in between the C and B races. I then got a good warm up in. Said hi to all the folks I have not seen in a year. And finally got ready to race. Lined up on the front row, and looked around to see who was present. The usual suspects, a few missing, and a few new ones. We got Ready, and the whistle blew! Everyone went out like they were shot out of a cannon. I could not clip into my pedal!!! I was falling back quick. In about 50 yrds, I was somewhere near dead last. I finally got in and clawed my way to 6th place before hitting the grass. A large group of 6-7 guys stayed together as Rob Selle rode off the front. It was hard to get around anyone in the course, mainly because it was so fast. The group kept a good pace, but I was still sitting at the tail end of it. We hit the pavement again, but no one wanted to react. Rob had since fell back into the pack. Then David Johnson shot off the front and did not look back, and again no one reacted. This time I was able to pull up a few spots and went around for another loop. On the 3rd lap, it was my turn. As soon as I hit the pavement, I launched an attack to try and bridge the gap to David Johnson. The only one that reacted was Jarod Makowski as he got on my wheel and we reeled in David. All 3 of us stayed lock together for the rest of the race, growing the gap behind us bigger and bigger! We would all take a few turns pulling on the front. Then with about 3 laps to go, Jarod made his move. It was hard counter for me. David stayed close, as I slipped back through the more technical single track sections in which Jarod excelled at. At the end of the 6 lap, David and I pulled Jarrod back into us as we were going into our final lap. I knew that if I let those guys get through the single track section before me, it would be hard to stay on there wheels. However, if I could control the pace through the single track, I would be the first one onto the longer flat grass sections and final pavement, thus being able to lay the power down and hopefully ride them off my wheel.

So that was the plan, now the last lap. I attacked early on the false flat start. I got around Jarod, and David followed. I hit the pavement and those guys stuck to me like white on rice! I buried myself and felt like puking the entire time. I was the first one up the Orange Crush and David hopped on his bike at the same time I did. We rolled down together. This was the deciding moment. He struggled to clip in. I punched it just ahead of him into the right hand turn into the first single track section! Goal 1 accomplished. I controlled the tempo though the rest of this section so they could not get around. Next was the barriers. We all went in together, but I was able to muscle back to the front around the next corner. From here to the end was free sailing unless the other guys had more in the tank than I. I popped it up a few more gears and did not look back. I was the first onto the pavement and gunned it. I was not sure how close the other guys were, but never looked back. As I got a few feet from the line I finally was able to throw both my hands into the air and celebrate for the first time since 2008! I just won my first cyclocross Master 35+ race!

It was great to see everyone, and it was even better to hear all the yelling a screaming at us as the race was happening. Tomorrow is another day, another race. So I hope I can sneak in another podium...


Thanks to JB Hancock for the pics!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kisscross CX Season Kick Off Ends with "W"!

I finally did my first Kisscross Cyclocross race today at Plaster Creek, in Grand Rapids. Not really knowing what to expect, other than being grassroots, laid back, and with a heavy focus on beer, I decided to sign up for the B race and then jump in the A race. I have to say, it was a good time, and for how simple the event was put together, it went very well. And on top of that, I had a good day on the bike as well.

The course was suited for my strengths. Long flat sections with sweeping turns. A few climbs, a long cement stair run-up and a set of triple barriers. I lined up with 44 other B racers and soon found myself off the front of the group in the first lap. I continued to build on my lead throughout the 8 laps. I was very happy with how my legs felt lap after lap, and that my heart rate remained in control. So for the first time since 2008, I finally got a "W" in a CX race. Now its not a USAC CX win, that I am so hungry to get, but it is a legitimate win none the less and I will take it!

After the B race, I lined up again in the hot sun for the A race. Right from the jump, I was feeling the fatigue in my legs. However, I still put out a respectable 11 more laps of pain! I got passed by several, but pulled back several others. In the end, I was starting to cramp every time I would go over the barriers. So I ended up 22 out of 36. With a fresh set of leg, I'm sure I could have pulled back a few more spots.

Next weekend is my official CX season kick off with the Tailwind Doublecross CX Day 1 & 2.

I can't wait!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Love This Time!

Stony Creek.... Yep, revisiting this one again. Love, Hate, Love. Well, it was love this time - and perfect timing. This was the close of the Tailwind USAC Mountain Bike XC series, and the realization that cyclocross is just around the corner. I have not done well at this race for the 2-3 years, and the last time I got a podium was in sport class. But my training has been ramping up and I have been starting to feel really strong. So could this year be different?

As this is the last race of the series, and being at Stony Creek, I knew that most if not all the fast guys would be out. And they were. There were at least 14 on the line for Expert Men 30-39. This was good and bad for me. If I could nail a podium in this class today that would be awesome! And I had a good shot at securing 4th place overall in the series. But there were about 3 other guys that could also take 4th overall if they had good races. So here we go...

On the whistle, I could not get my right foot to clip in. So this pushed me back to around 9th place. As we approached the single track, I could see the lead group slip away. The main reason was that Simon Bailey was holding up about 6 of us, and we could not get by. (I don't normally call people out, but come on. When people call out to let them by, let them by! If you know your bike handling skills are not as good as others in the class, get the hell out of the way!) OK, sorry about that. So once I got past that issue, I opened it up a bit and started to catch the tail end of the lead group. I was able to do this by powering through the flats. I was able to close down all the gaps, and then all of a sudden found myself sitting in 4th-5th place, and making ground. The only person I could not shake was Todd Freidinger who had an awesome race! I would blow out Todd on the flats, and he would pick his way back up to me in the single track. It stayed this way for the entire race, which made the racing aspect more enjoyable. At the end of 2nd lap, Jeff Poirier caught me. I was a little concerned and thought "Here goes my race again". But by the start of the 3rd lap, I was climbing myself away from him again, and could no longer see him. I kept putting out the same effort and sticking to the same plan. Steady in the single track, and turning myself inside out on the flats!!! Next, I caught Brian Harris at the end of the 3rd lap, and he rode with me through about half of the lap, and I was able to drop him on a climb. Then it was Todd and myself for the final lap. Starting to feel some cramps forming in my quads, I just rode smart. In the middle of the roller coaster I had a little brain fart and washed out my front tire and went down hard. Todd just missed riding over me and pulled away. I tried to get on my bike as fast as I could to limit the loss, but I have a horrible cramp shoot up my left hamstring. It very painful, but I was able to ride it out. Todd, pulled farther and farther ahead. I made it to the last double track climb and spun up it as gingerly as possible to avoid any cramps. At the top I took a look back to see if I was starting to lose time and let Jeff claw his way back. SHIT! There he was at the bottom of the climb. I popped it up into my big ring one last time and TT'ed as hard as I could to the end. I sprinted to the top of the last sled hill with no full blown cramps and made one last push to the finish. Jeff came in 9 seconds later. I never made contact again with Todd, but I did get a hard earned 4th place, but I did not keep 4th overall in the series.

It has been a strange and slow season for me up until the last 3-4 races. But my fitness is starting to click, and my confidence is starting to soar. It really couldn't happen at a better time. I think I love Stony again....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rain for Ruby...Really?

For what ever reason, this race never even gets a break when it comes to rain. Maybe the course is on top of an ancient Indian burial ground. Who really knows, but the sky let loose once again the day before to make this an iffy race to do for most. Luckily, Todd Powers and many other members of our great team (Team Sandbag) put in many hours of trail work to once again beat mother nature to the punch and make sure the trail was immaculate for any conditions! She was slick in spots, but totally race ready!

I have not been feeling the Ruby vibe this year. And really was not looking forward to the race at all, other than hanging out with the team. And when it rained it made it even worse. There really isn't much to talk about other than just about everyone on the team taking full advantage of the home course advantage by nailing most of the podium spots on the day. Most notable was Todd taking 4th on a flawless race, and letting folks in the state know that when it comes to technical old school single track, there ain't too many better than Todd. Mark Z nailed another W, and well on his way to being a competitive sport rider. Drew L, finished 4th but not before an untimely flat took his 1st place away. Hats off to Randy Lange for getting up on his own power after a severe crash on the "wash out". He ended up taking a trip by ambulance, but was thumbs up and smiles all the way. And to the rest of the team. It was great to come together, and let the mountain bike world know what we and the sport are all about having fun!!

As for my race. I got the 4th place finishers medal since there were only 4 in the class. But on a positive note. This gives me a legitimate chance for top 3 overall if I have a good race at Stony. I was cranking out 26 min laps even in slick conditions. All 4 of my laps were within less than 1 min of each other. And for the first time in like 3 years, I did not cramp at this race!!!!!

So this is good news with the real season approaching fast!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Something in the Air...

So far for August, it has been surprising wet, a few of the mornings have been crisp, clean smelling, and with dew all over everything. I can't help but think about cyclocross! And with many of the local and national series registrations going live, and race calendars being finalized, you would be a fool not to recognize that the 2011 CX season is upon us!!!! With less than a month away before the first race of the season here in Michigan, its time to plan, time to train, and time to get excited for cyclocross.

There will be lots of opportunity to race CX this year in Michigan, as over 5 separate series have popped up. So that means there is at least one race every weekend from Sept 11th - Dec 18th! And with the National level races moving their traditional calenders to go deeper into the year to align with Nationals taking place in January now, it will be easier for me to race and experience some of the other local races and series to see what they are all about. For the first time, I will be jumping into a Kisscross race or 2. Finally get to take part in the most unique CX race in the country with Mad Anthony CX. And I will dabble in some sure to be fun Mid Michigan cyclocross action! So without much more chatter, here is my proposed CX schedule for 2011. See you at the races!

9/11 Kisscross Plaster Creek Park, Grand Rapids

9/17 Tailwind Double Cross #1, Waterford
9/18 Tailwind Double Cross #2, Waterford

9/24 USGP Madison, WI
9/25 USGP Madison, WI

10/1 Tailwind (Night race), Munson

*** 10/9 SVSU Red Zone CX, Saginaw (***tentative family/time/money)

10/16 tailwind Linden park, Linden

10/22 mad Anthony CX, Detroit

10/29 Tailwind Vet's Park #1, Ann Arbor
10/30 Tailwind Vet's Park #2, Ann Arbor

11/5 ICEMAN

11/12 USGP Louisville, KY
11/13 USGP Louisville, KY

*** 11/19 Stomach of Anger, Lansing (*** tentative family/time/money)

11/20 Tailwind Bloomer Park, Rochester

*** 11/27 Kiss Cross Holland Municipal Stadium, Holland (***tentative family/time/money)

12/5 Tailwind Springfield Oaks, Davisburg

12/11 Big Bad Wolf CX, Midland

12/18 Tailwind Stony Creek, Shelby twp. (Waiting for confirmation on date)


I'm still on the fence for the new UCI races in Chicago New Years Eve and New Years Day. And As more info comes available, I will decide on what to do for CX Nationals in Madison, WI in January and throwing my name in the hat for CX Masters World in Louisville! More to come later in the season...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

...A New Hope!

Sorry for opening with a Star Wars phrase, but I am a bit of Star Wars nerd. However, I finally had some things come together for me in a mountain bike race this year. With CX in the horizon, I have taken my training up a notch. And now I got a little something to build on.

Today was the Big M race USAC XC mountain bike race near Manistee, Mi. It was not originally on my calendar, but a few folks on the team were going to make the trip, and since I have not been on the podium this year I figured I would try to give myself one more chance. The course was in awesome shape and the fast as hell! I was surprised at all the guys that actually made the long trip up to race. All the big names in my class were there minus my good friend Lako.

The whistle blew, and I got a good position. I was able to maintain the pace of the top 5 guys with no issues . Then we started getting to the climbs, and I was hanging on, but slowly started to drift back. I was still in a good position, and then saw Jim Bonnel falling back and fast. I passed him on a climb, and looked up and saw Brain Harris appear to be struggling on the climbs also. I put in an attack and pulled away from Brain. Soon after he was on my wheel again and passed me at the bottom of the long sandy downhill. I figured I would ride his wheel again for as long as I could. By the time we got to the long false flat, I was putting in huge time between us. I looked back and could not see him any longer. I knew I was in at least 5th place at this time and was feeling good. When the last lap started, I knew I had enough gas to make it to the end, but did not want to go too hard and risking cramping. With about 2 miles to go, I saw Brain again. This time he pulled back onto my wheel, and passed me! Knowing there were some bigger climbs just ahead, Brian being a better descender than I, and a chance to get my first podium of the year within grasp, I wasn't going to give it up that easy! I made a huge attack up the next climb in the biggest gear I could manage, and time trailed as hard as I could to the line. The entire time, I was maxed out, and not 100% sure if I dropped Brian or if he was with me. Climb after climb I hammered it. On the last long sandy downhill, I peaked back and saw the team colors of Brian's team. Not knowing if it was him I took every risk I could on the decent. He never passed me. Then into the final sprint, I took the last corner too fast and went down. I was able to remount my bike very fast and sprinted for the line. The Cross Country Cycle rider was not Brian. He came in a minute or so later. I finally nailed my first podium of the year for mountain bike racing. 4th place.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Love, Hate, Love.... Stony Creek TT

It's Love, Hate, Love again for Stony Creek. I will save you some time reading about why and what if, sticking to my training plan blah, blah, blah. Even I'm getting sick of reading my blog at times. This is how it rolled.

I got 8th in the Expert Men 30-39 with a time of 53:51. And I went out again for the Expert/Elite Single speed race and got 7th. In both races, I had chain suck that forced me off my bike and I cramped in the single speed race at the end causing me to run a hill or 2. Bottom line, times slower than last year. Competition is harder this year.

Big M next...

Congrats to Brad Lako for nailing the double podium. And this was his first race on the single speed too! Way to go!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Citerium Detroit City

Well first thing is, at least I didn't crash.... But we will cover this in a minute. With my mountain bike season, training, etc. coming to crawl with not much on tap for the next month other than start ramping up for CX, I decided to throw my name in the hat a venture into some road racing. And what better way to do it than to do the First Annual Cirterium Detroit City! What a great place for this style of racing. Located on the twisty block of the Opera House just behind Comerica Park. The course was short but it had plenty of corners and none of them were the same. The one thing that could use some improvement was the many many wheel destroying pot holes located at random. But hey, this is Detroit. Overall, the venue and the style of racing was top notch. You may see me pop in a few more in the future. And I think I will be back for this one for sure if they continue to have it.

As for the race itself, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had to do the Cat 5 race because I don't hold a road licence, or have any road races under my belt for an upgrade. But not a problem. I got to start somewhere. So I put my wheel on the line with 27 other "Cat 5's" (I am curious what the criteria is to be a Cat 5) and we were off. Since the race was going to be under 30 mins, the pace was quick right from the start. It instantly strung out on the first lap. Soon after, it came together for a bit, and then it was a battle to make sure people would hold their line. I got a little frustrated with this, and about 10 mins into the race decided to make a break to open things up a bit. I went hard for about 1 lap and paid for it. I was soon caught, but my plan worked and the pace stayed high from here on out. Another break went off, and this time I was in the field to chase them down. We worked together and got them back. I continued to stay up near the front to avoid any crashes. Everything was fine, until the last 2-3 laps. One rider went down hard on the right side of the course in a tricky section of corners. Luckily I was on the other side, and no one else went down. This did however cause several riders to get nervous and panic for the rest of the race. With 2 laps to go, the pace was getting quicker. I was sitting in the top 10 waiting to make a move if I could. In the final lap, things were strung out again, and others were trying to move to the front. I was in an OK position, but should have been closer to the front. Lesson learned. As I rounded the last corner getting ready to cue up for the sprint. I got boxed out by the guy on the inside of me, and I guess he needed to use his brakes. This pushed me toward the back of the top 10 pack. I shifted into a few more bigger gears but I was on the outside of the road and racers on the inside were already going into their sprint. I stood up and started to give it all I had. I was making ground on some and getting pulled back by others. With about 75 yards to go, There was a spectacular crash just ahead of me with the top 3-5 guys which also took out the race officials standing on the side of the road! WOW! As Soon as I saw this I backed off my sprint to avoid being part of the carnage. I ended up 12th out of 27. Not too bad I guess for a dirty mountain bike/CX racer... In the end, I was surprised that a Cat 5 group would avg. 24.2 mph! really? Are these actually Cat 5 dudes? I guess I really have no reference to go by. But I do know how I will do things different if I line up again for a Crit...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Stony Death March 2011

The race that I vow that I will never do again year after year. Bad luck mechanicals. Dehydration. Crazy hot weather. Lack of endurance training. It has all seemed take a toll on me at this race one way or another. So here I am again. Again at what I like to call the Stony Death March. Beginner friendly Stony Creek, turned into one evil event year after year with 50 miles of pain for the experts. And this year was no different. With Temps in the mid 90's and the heat index at 102! Even the bad asses of the sport were getting mowed down one by one with the dreaded DNF. For me it was simple. Rely on all my additional base miles I put in for the year, and grind this thing out. Knowing that there will be a lot of DNFs for mechanicals and cramps, I rolled the dice and hoped for the best.

The plan for the day was to "Just Finish", maintain my hydration and nutrition plan so I wouldn't cramp, and try to keep my lap times as consistent as possible. From the whistle, the lead group went out like a 20 mile XC race. Have fun boys. I decided to go at my own pace and have my own race. My bud Shawn Schaffert had the same plan, and we helped pull and encourage each other on all 5 laps. This was awesome, to have someone there to help with the boredom of the race. We plugged along at a respectable clip, each taking turns. I felt good for the entire race, except for the last 4 miles or so. This is when Shawn was able to ride away from me. Its too bad I let him get away, because for both of our consistent efforts and determination to finish strong, Shawn was rewarded with a 5th place and I came in less than a minute later in 6th. I just can't seem to shake that 6th place curse, as this is my 3rd race in a row looking at the last step on the podium. But overall I had a great race. All my laps were between 45-48 mins. I finished in under 4 hrs with 3:54. And I felt great in the end. This is great news as I am nearing the start of my CX season.

TSB had a full squad representing also, which was great! And out of the 8 racers that showed up, at least half got on the podium! Great job. And special thanks to Trixie for all her hard work handing out bottles, and providing lunch to a bunch of famished stinky bike racers. Your the best!
So before I start training again for CX in less than a month, will my next stop be the Criterium Detroit City next weekend???? Its time to get my power on!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ugh.... 6th again! PLRA XC

Things have been winding down. I haven't done any training in 2 weeks other than riding my bike for fun. No Plan. No intervals. Just fun. I start my new job on July 5th. So I really hope this is a new beginning for not only work, but getting mentally focused again for my life, racing, and training. I have already dropped 7lbs since Fort Custer. So I am getting back on track. And with everyday, every race, cyclocross is getting closer. Sometime around July it will be time to put on the running shoes again, and pull out the barriers to get ready for my real season. But before I get too carried away, there are still a few mountain bike races to take care of, and this is one of my favorites. Pontiac Lake XC...

Like I said, I have been basically peaked out since the Brighton Debacle. So I figured I would give it a go, and see what my fitness has done since. Surprisingly, I have been feeling great, and my Power on the flats is still high. Goal was simple. Ride as hard as I can. Don't pop. And sneak in a top 5. There were a few guys that came out of the woodwork today. Gotta love racing... So I knew it was going to be a tough race if I wanted to crack the top 5. The whistle blew, and we were off. Blistering pace into the single track for the first few miles. The trail was in awesome shape, and very fast. I settled into 5th place early on and slipped back to 6th. I was feeling good, and could really tell the difference the 7lbs made in climbing the hills! Gives me motivation to keep going. I pushed hard all the way. I caught and passed 5th place, and soon was riding by myself. Into the 2nd lap, I missed a bottle hand up. This proved to detrimental as I lost my other bottle on the bike on a bumpy downhill early in the 2nd lap. So I went the entire lap without any water and or nutrition. Ouch! On the last climb I could feel it. But during this time, I had also caught the dude in 4th, but he kept yo-yo-ing away from me. Into the 3rd lap, I got another bottle and sucked down as much as I could before the single track. Surprisingly, it helped me recover a little. Thanks Hammer Nutrition. I then got caught and passed by 2 others in my class. Not good. I was still feeling strong but was slowing a bit from the effects of the missed bottle. I pushed on knowing that anything could happen, and I was still in the hunt for a podium spot. On the last climb, I gave it all I had. I could hear someone coming up behind me, and not knowing what class they were in, I punched it. Onto the flats and into the last grass section, I big ringed it all the way home. I did not want to give any chances of getting beat at the line. Thank God, cause he was in my class. I ended up 6th... again. And missed 5th again, by 20 seconds. I was still happy with my result and my progress heading into Cyclocross and my new beginning at work. My lap times were not too bad either. 43, 45, 47. Obviously, the missed bottle hurt me in the end.

Maybe you might even see me at the Stony Marathon... It's still up in the air.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Marching On... Fort Custer TT

Its been an off year, and a year for change. And not just in racing...

I guess if you wait long enough good things will happen. But sometimes, if you just sit back and wait for them to happen, the good things will never come. You have to make them happen! Does that all make sense?

And so that brings me to the Fort Custer TT. First off, what a fantastic trail! I had a smile from ear to ear the entire time!!! Wow! If only I lived closer. Fort Custer has something for everyone, and this race is always one of my favorites. Much like my opening statement, this year the race day changed from the previous years to a much earlier time of year. And I was very welcome to it. However, as this has been a slightly off year for me so far in the life and training world, it was time for me to look forward and start making things happen again. I did not have the best racing day of my life, but it did offer a look into the rest of the year, and overall I was very pleased.

I did the usually double bagger. Geared and Single speed. I felt really good for both and mentally was ready to give it my all (first time all year). In the Expert 30-39 race. I gave it full gas. I could hang with anyone on the flat twisty sections, letting me know I have gained a lot of power over the spring, and could actually use it! However, I would lose time in the more technical sections, and of course on the climbs. but this is all great information I was able to process to make changes for the rest of the mountain bike season and especially for cyclocross. I finished up 6th place on the day with a time of 1:07:58. Just missing 5th place by 24 seconds. I am back in the hunt, and my 2011 podium quest continues! Overall I was very happy with the result especially considering the tough field that showed up.

By the time the Single speed raced rolled around, I was already spent from the first race, but was ready to give it all I had 1 more time. All the heavy hitters from the MI Single Speed world showed up to play! The filed was stacked, and it seemed like all the elites and experts that raced earlier had the same idea of doubling up for the day. With all the big names starting, I set my goal for a top 10 finish. I was riding fully rigid and the trail beat the hell out of me. So with not much left in the tank, I pushed as hard as I could and finished with a time of 1:13 and some change. This was enough for me to sneak into 10th place!

Great job to all my TSB team mates for making the trek over. We had about 10 folks and nailed a few podiums as well! See you all in a few weeks!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mother Nature's Peak Performance; Brighton Stage Race

Not much to report. Too many things went wrong, not enough went right. What was suppose to be my first A race of the year turned south. I wont bore you with the details or the pity party, but I did take something positive from the weekend. No matter how much I train, plan, and have luck on my side, bad races are going to happen. Its what I learn from them, to get stronger and perform better the next chance I get.

So sit tight. Got a make a few minor adjustments, because the season is only just begun...

Congrats to everyone that stuck it out the entire weekend and "finished" on Sunday's Mud fest. And if you were lucky enough to end up on the podium like my friend Brad Lako and Patrick Russell, my hats off to you because it was truly earned!

See you all at the Fort!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pontiac Lake TT

For a second, I thought summer was upon us. Well at least that's how it felt in the afternoon for this years addition of the Pontiac Lake TT. This race is always a crap shoot, and this year was not any different. Heavy rain fell the the night before, and the winter has been hanging on day after day. So it was any one's guess what the trail conditions would be like for one of my favorite races. Well Mother Nature was on our side again for the most part. The trail was in good shape considering. A few greasy corners and some sloppy mud puddles. But it got better and better every lap.

I felt real strong again for the race, and was hoping for a good result. My lap times were just a hair under last year for my geared race. But with the conditions, I guess you could expect that some what. Like I said I was feeling strong and very consistent on the bike. But was only able to snag 7th out of 16. Just missing 5th by around 30 secs. My overall race time was 1:31 and some change. Not too bad considering I am only 4 weeks into the TCTP training plan.

As always I paid the extra $10 and jumped into the expert/elite single speed race. It was a very stacked class of elite racers. Probably almost all the fastest racers in the state! So I was not expecting a podium. However, I wanted to put up the fastest time I could, and get in some more hard training miles under race conditions. I nailed another 45 min lap. Again I was happy with this, but know it should have been faster.

At this point in my season, there is only one person to blame. Me. For the good and the bad. It is time to make the necessary adjustments to get the benefits from all my training. It begins now...

On a final note. Congrats to all my TSB team mates for their hard work at earning podiums! I hope to see more. And congrats to Lako and Payne on a Podium and a great finish! See you boys in a few weeks...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yankee Springs TT!

I have waited over 4 months to finally get my tires dirty in some single track. And I finally did it, and did it in a race to boot. As I kicked off my mountain bike race season with the MMBA CPS Yankee Springs TT.

It was very cold and even snowed. But that did not impact the sandy single track that makes up the majority of Yankee Springs. I had the same plan as last year. Race the Expert/Elite Single speed class to get in some good hard miles under race pace, and see where I stack up with the training I had put forth so far. I will have to say it went very well. I took 9th out of 24 in the class with a very respectable finishing time of 1:47:40. This would have been a good enough time to place me 2nd if I raced Expert 30-39. So I was very happy with the result. In addition, the real test for the day was the fact that the Expert single speeders had to do 2 laps this year. So my goal was to try and be consistent as possible with my lap times, and to try to keep them within 2 mins. My first lap was 52 and some change and my 2nd lap was just over 54. So I was happy with that.

Overall I felt really strong, and feel real confident going into the Pontiac Lake TT this weekend. I just got to make sure I can get off of work...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Barry-Roubaix

Finally, a bike race. Kicked off the race season this weekend by taking part in the Barry-Roubaix "Killer Gravel Road Race". Wasn't expecting too much overall. Just wanted to get in a good long hard effort at race pace, collect some good powertap data, and try to beat my personal best time. This is a really tough race, but it's a type that suits me well. So with one week of training under my belt doing the Time Crunched Training Plan, this is how it went. It was very cold to say the least, but I layered perfect considering the temps barley got above 20 for most of the day. It was a mass start, with no neutral roll out this year. So nothing like 1000 bike racers trying to win the race in the 1st few miles. It was crazy, but manageable. I felt really good for the entire race. The hills killed me! between the extra flab I'm carrying and lack of Interval training thus far, made every hill a struggle. But I was able to Hammer all the flats, and descend like a rock. I stayed near the front for about half the race, but was consumed by a very large group which I could not hang on to. Later, in the last 5 miles, I rallied back and time trialed my way up the long paved road, and made up a lot of time and positions and actually caught the group that passed me earlier. By the time I made it back to the final straight to the finish, I was in the red. I ramped up my speed and pushed all the way to the end. I finished in 1:54:48. that was 4 mins better than last year. This earned me 18th out of 84. Good day overall. I got 18th last year also. The best thing about the day, is that I was able to keep my fingers out of the wheel! It was really great to see all my good cycling friends. And there were some awesome results. Congrats to Mike W. Don C. Pete T. Mike S. Patrick R. for your efforts. And thanks to Brad Lako for letting me get one more, before he moves on to glory in the Tailwind USAC XC series. My money is riding on you.... Now on to the After party. This event marks the Rouge Racing Project / TSB bi-yearly reunion and Mayhem! We did it right. Drank as much free Founder's Ale as we could after the race. Enjoyed Jon Coleman's life saving chili! And then unleashed our fury in downtown Kalamazoo! The Kentucky boys really know how to party, and its always a good time to hang out with all of you. A couple more months and we will do it all again at the USGP of Cyclocross in Louisville. I can't wait!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Feeling Lucky at the Leprechan Loop?

The un-official kick off to my 2011 season has started. For the 3rd year in a row, I did it with the Port Huron YMCA Leprechaun Loop 5K. My early goal set for this year was to break the 20 min barrier, but with winter conditions being miserable the past few months, it has been hard to do any type of Sprint or interval type running to nail my high end. So in the past few weeks, I decided to alter my goal and just focus on beating my personal best of 21:56 from 2 years ago. As race day approached, I was able to get in a few really good practice runs and new I would be in striking distance of my goal and hopes of a podium. It would be tougher this year as I have moved to the Men 35-39 age group, and this group usually has some really fast guys.

But as luck would have it, within 2 days before the event, heavy snow fell again in the Port Huron area making everything a mess including the race loop.

I arrived early to pick up my stuff and meet my team mates and friends. Todd, Brad D, Brad H, Masher and family, and my work pal Curt were all ready to have fun and kick some butt. We took our spots on the line, and then we were off.

I went out rather hard, trying to keep pace with my pal Curt, but he was turning it on. So then I trailed my team mate Brad H for most of the race, as he was setting about the same pace I could hold. A little later, Todd came by and started to put in a good sized gap. Half way through the loop, the surface turned to a sheet of off camber ice along the board walk!!! This really hurt the pace as it was wise to be cautious. Several folks took spills all around me, including Brad as we rounded the old YMCA building. On the 2nd half of the loop, more ice and Brad and I pulled back Todd. As we rounded the corner on Quay Street, I was already at my max effort. Todd pulled a few feet ahead and Brad came around both of us. Down the final stretch, we all tried to kick it up a notch for the final push. Todd was able to pull ahead the farthest, then Brad, and then me just off his heels. I could not go any harder without puking! We crossed the line

Todd - 22:19
Brad H - 22:27
Me - 22:30

This was enough for us to also do the podium sweep for 1st through 3rd in Men 35-39!!!!! Way to go boys.

As for my pal Curt, he blew the doors off with an under 20:59 and took First in his age group!

Brad D also had a smoking performance with a 23 min effort, taking home 3rd in Men 30-34!

And Avery in her first ever 5K took home 3rd in the 11 and under class with a 42 min effort! WOW!

Overall this was a fantastic day for all. Great event, and I plan on doing it every year. I did not hit my time I was shooting for, but considering the conditions, I think I would have been there. So this is a good sign that my winter training has been going well overall. Now its time to hang the running shoes up until the fall, and focus completely on the bike! Barry-Roubaix will be in just a few short weeks, and with that my actual focused training plan with kick off too.

I can not wait to finally get my tires dirty!!! see you all soon...

Monday, February 14, 2011

BURR!!!

This Winter has been brutal! I wanted to use the winter time this year to build some good long and slow endurance miles outside, and it just hasn't panned out like I wanted. Well I managed to get in some Sunday rides outside, but only 2 have been the quality I was hoping for. Overall, training has went "OK". I have been sticking with the plan of running more days per week outside (which has been low quality and a pain in the ass with all the snow) and running stairs.

I went through a bout of "training depression" or just lack of motivation which was triggered by a location and schedule change at work. That seems to be back on track, and I just finished my best solid week of training. As my training shifts back to bike specific workouts as the month goes on, I hope the weather continues to improve with it.

It all may just be a case of cabin fever or winter blues. But I am slowly getting back on track, and soon will be going at it with a laser beam focus. With the first few events just over the horizon, I am already getting geeked for the Port Huron YMCA Leprechaun Loop 5K, Barry-Roubiax, Yankee Springs TT, and the kick off to my actual Mountain Bike season the Pontiac Lake TT!

See you all on the trail soon!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ready, Set, 2011! Here we go!

New year and new look. Decided to freshen up the ol' blog. So hope it is easier on the eyes.

So after a quick break from racing, and getting through the holidays with some motivation issues to start training again, I am back in full swing! I did not gain the stupid amounts of weight I have in previous years, so I am happy for that. I seem to still be carrying a lot of fitness from CX, and since the MTB calendar was finally released I finished up the final touches to the 2011 training plan. This years Tailwind USAC XC series looks awesome! Many of my favorite races are jam packed in the early season. So this appears to not only suit my training plan but also a lot of my strengths. Time will tell. I will kick my race season off again with the soon to be classic, Barry-Roubaix. And have not decided if I am going to try out Paris-Ancaster or stick to the Yankee Spring TT. Then it will be game on for the USAC XC Series.

My training plan is simple and to the point. Lots of Early Endurance miles (if I have the time) mixed in with some strength/cross training. The tools are all the same as last year. My bike, Powertap, Trainer, and the Time Crunched Training Program. The wife is finally done with school, so I am hoping this means a few more minutes on the bike this year. I would really like to hit the upper limits of the TCTP of 8 hrs instead of the 6 or sometimes lower that I did last year. But this plan works, so I am sticking to my guns.

I will have 2 seasons again. With Cyclocross being the main focus. So as with 2 seasons, I will have 2 sets of goals this year. Goals are few, simple, and to the point. I know what I want to accomplish, so here they are...

MTB Goals --

1. Take top 3 at Brighton Stage Race Overall
2. Break top 3 in at least 1 USAC XC race
3. Finish in top 5 for at least 4 Expert/Cat 1 level MTB races (All series)

Cyclocross Goals --

1. Top 3 overall in Masters 35+ points series
2. Top 3 at CX State Championship
3. Win a CX Race

See you all at the races!!!!