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 ; )