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...