Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 - The Journey

I often have a conversation with Brad Lako that usually goes something about what does it take to be on the top step? Why is it always so hard? Why does that gap always seem so huge? Why is there always that "guy" that comes out of no where, or someone finds that superman strength for one year? Why do these guys always seem like a flash in the pan? Here now, gone tomorrow. Our conversation usually ends with talk about always being a brides maid - for another year. And a realization that if bike racing was easy or came naturally, we probably wouldn't be interested in it anymore. Its always a challenge. We seek only incrementally improvement year after year. But we are always right there in the mix consistently race after race. We are always chasing the top step. I have mentioned it before, but it truly is the journey that drives us, not the goal of finishing on top. Because it is challenging, exciting, and you truly never know where it will take you, its the journey we chase. Most important, it never ends if you continue to chase your goals. Because goals should never be the end, they are only piss breaks on your journey.

As with any year, 2012 had its ups and downs and my journey took my down many different paths. Mainly with life, between my Dad's injury, and training myself into endurance anemia, I was not sure I would get out of spring with any fitness. But all of that made me realize a few things. Whats important in life, and how to identify and resolve problems with training dilemmas. I learned a shit ton this year about proper training, and understanding the data. I put some plans in place before the season. Stuck to them and ended up with my best season to date!

I had could not believe the mountain bike season I had this year. I ended up on the podium in almost every race I entered! As a result, I ended up 2nd overall in the USAC Tailwind XC series, and even took a win for the first time as an Expert at Ruby. Furthermore, for a 2nd straight year to finished 2nd at the Iceman in a snowy, muddy, and longer Iceman.

As for Cyclocross, I came into the season fresh and hot. I stood on the podium at a USGP by taking 2nd place in the single speed class in Madison, something I never imagined would ever happen. I took a win at Kensington, and was hoping to get at least another one, but was not able to pull it off. A couple of crashes and mechanicals put the damper on a few other chances toward the end of the season, and a mistake in my training plan left me gasping for air in the state championship race. But for the first time in 2 years, I finally ended up on the state championship podium by taking 3rd place for Masters 35-39, and finished 3rd overall in the Tailwind Series.

I could not achieved all of this without the support, of my family, and friends like Brad, Jarod, Tom, Don C, and JB for help keeping my head screwed on straight by encouraging me throughout the year, and answering all my training question and offering advice all season long!

I can never thank everyone we race with enough for screaming, cheering, yelling, high fiving, ass smacking me race after race as I spend time in the hurt locker. Its always amazing me how much more I can get out of myself from every one's energy and excitement! So please keep it coming for next year!

Finally thanks TMS for the love, and hard truth. Continue to keep it real, and continue to keep it alive.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Race too Many?

For the past 2 years, the Michigan CX State Championship race has not be very good for me. Although this year turned out to be better, it by far was not my best showing as I completely blew up on about lap 4 and did everything I could to hang on. So it leads me to ask questions why? Training was going well - I thought. Mentally, although ready for a break was OK - I thought. Who knows? Add it to the list of things to work on for next year.

The race itself was great. Tailwind laid out an awesome course at Addison Oaks, and I hope it returns. Like every CX State Championship race, you gets the guys that come out of the woodwork, or drop down from elites to masters. I originally thought I would see Simon Bailey and Pat Russel. But both stayed up and raced Elites. My hats off to both! But Pete Thompson and Steve Boriglio both lined up with us at the start of the masters. It was a small group, but all were fast in their own rights. and everyone wanted a step on the states podium for sure. We took off hard and soon ended up in the very fast and flow course single file. I soon was feeling pressure as I hung onto the back of the group. Legs were feeling heavy, and I could not take in enough oxygen to make any type of attack. But somehow I was still hanging on. Around the 4th lap, Alex Crashed and we all got bottle necked. Steve got around first and made a surge. Pete and Jarod jumped on as well. Andy and myself followed but were gaped off. This was the beginning of the end for me. As I started to fade.

Not all was lost. I was able to hang onto the last podium spot for 5th in the race. And this was good enough for 3rd in Masters 35-39 State Championship title. Also, I was able to keep the 3rd overall spot in the series. I was hoping for so much more, but I had an incredible season overall.

Here are some of my favorite rides from today. Congrats to:

Sven Baumann on another Elite State Title
Kelly Patterson on another Elite State Title
Alex Monte-Sano on 1st overall in the series for Masters 35+ (tough break today)
Pete Thompson for 1st Masters 40-45
Jarod for riding out our your skin and almost beating Pete at the line
Brad Lako for taking 3rd in B -men 30-39
Jim Goerlich for an outstanding ride! Taking 2nd in states for B -men 30-39!
Don Cameron - another States 1st for masters 45-50
Scott Fabenjanski - for an outstanding season, and 2nd in the states for master 45-50

This list can go on forever. There were some really good rides and results today. And Cheers to all the great overall results as well.

Thanks everyone for cheering, heckling, ringing cowbells, all season long! It always helps. Thanks everyone for letting me use pictures along the way as well. Finally, thanks to my Mom and Dad for spending the time to come out and support me at all the races. It means a lot to me, and love you both!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Big Bad Wolf CX

This is the 2nd year in a row doing this race. And it only confirms what I thought last year. This is one of the best venues in the state to hold a cyclocross race, and JB Hancock goes out of his way to design a world championship caliber CX course! This year JB used his experience from racing in Louisville and found every off camber edge, and ran us through the sand for what felt like a 5K! But it was awesome. Add in the fact that it snowed the night before, and temps hovered just above freezing for the entire day, and you end up with one muddy, wet, slick fun hell of a time!

One cool thing this year was that the race was the week before the state championship. So a lot more folks came out to use it as a tuner race before the big show. All the Elites, and Master class went off on the whistle, so the start was a little more congested than what we usually see in Michigan. I jumped out into the top 5 guys right off the whistle knowing that the most difficult part of the course was in the beginning and staying out of crashes or other's mistakes would be key. Mark Parmalee, Jeff Weinert, and JB Hancock led the charge. Soon after, DC came by me followed by Alex and Ron Stack. DC and Alex kept the pedal through the floor, and I got caught up behind Ron. By the time we made it through the slick stuff and endless sand, Alex and DC had about a 10 second gap. Not a big deal I thought. I then dropped Ron and passed JB. The chase for Alex was on. I focused on riding smart, but taking risk in section I knew others wouldn't. Following close behind me was Jarod Makowski and Brad Lako. I was able to keep a comfortable gap, but could feel them breathing down my neck. At the same time, I was taking back a second or 2 on Alex.

By the time the 4th lap rolled around. Alex was opening up the gap on me a little more. I know Jarod was hunting me down, and Brad was just off his wheel. I decided to use the flat wooded section to open up some security room on Jarod. It worked. I had a few more seconds, and I felt I was riding better and better each lap on the off cambers and slick muddy downhills. As the laps piled up I held the gap, but could not get any closer to Alex. The sand was zapping my energy more and more. On the last lap I could see Jarod still trying to claw his way back to me. Got love JMAK's Heart and determination! I just held my own and always knew where he was, and made sure I didn't do anything stupid. I finished 2nd on the day, and was really happy with how I felt and handled the course leading into the last race of the year!

If lady luck decides to come with me to the state championship this year, I feel I got a good shot! All the work is done. Everything is in place. The training numbers all match up to where they should be.... But will it be enough?

Congrats to Pat Tomlinson - on his SOA series overall jersey!
Vince Anila - for 3rd overall in the SOA series!

Brad Lako - for hanging at the front of the masters before breaking your bike in the last lap...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

When Something You Love, Doesn't Love You Back

I realized the other day, that our CX seasons are now just as long as a mountain bike season, with double the races. This is great, but can be somewhat wearing as well. Luckily, I have had a few planned/forced breaks from the racing action here and there to help keep my head on straight and remain positive and excited for the races that are important to me. But even with that said, it is starting to become hard, especially if things don't go the way you like them to. Which leads me to this, when something you love, doesn't love you back. We all can relate. You feel hurt, betrayed, worthless. But on a positive note, you still love that "what ever it is" So this is what Waterford CX day 1 and 2 was for me.

This was going to be a big weekend and a game decider for the Masters 35+ Series overall. I was still in the lead heading into the weekend but only by 6 points. I needed big results. Like wins. Because there were only a few points separating Alex, Andy, Rodger, and me for the top spots. And we have been all racing at the same level. It was going to be an all out war for the weekend. And the person with the most fitness, desire, and luck would come out on top. And it didn't necessaryliy need to be in that order. But that is how racing goes.

Day 1 - It was cold, windy, dry, and I was ready. I had some strategy I felt was going to be the key for a great day. But finding the right time to execute is always the other key you need. We started and the pace was very controled. I was feeling good and just sitting in waiting to see what Alex and Andy would try to do. We rode like this for about 4 laps. Then we caught a group of about 5 elites. Andy jumped to the front of the group when an opening appeared. Alex just snuck in behind him, and I had to latch on to the back. Not good. This has been a problem for a few of are races this year. Into the next lap I was able to burn a match and get around everyone and back onto my train. The effort was hard and a few of the elite guys came right back around me once we hit the grass again. Not a big deal, but Alex and Andy were slowly pulling away. I explained to the guys I needed to get around, to catch the guys ahead, and that I was not racing them. One of the guys (from out of state) was a complete asshole, and we exchanged a few words and rubbed elbows through a few corners as I tried to cut his line for being an asshole. But I soon got over it. During this time however, Andy opened a gap on Alex and now both had a gap on me. I was left to chase full throttle for the rest of the race. Not what was in my plan, but it was the hand that was dealt, so I had to play it. I stayed in the red zone for the last 3 laps and slowly clawed my way back to Alex. With only 2 turns left and the final drag on pavement I finally caught Alex. He opened the sprint from a long ways out and I jumped on my pedals. I was quickly pulling along side of him as we approached the line. I was finally on his side with just a few feet left, through the bike at the line, but missed second place by about 2 inches. I was so spent from the effort, that I started to dry heave after the finish.

Day 1 - To my surprise it snowed! And enough to make everything icy, muddy, and unpredictable. Perfect! When the race started I made sure I was in the front. I was 2nd wheel to Andy then Mark Caffyn pulled around and made a huge attack! this was perfect I thought. Exactly what I needed to try and help break Andy and Alex. Then Jarod Makowski soon followed. I knew at this point that Jarod would have a great day in the mud and was someone I needed to work with. After Mark put in his effort, I thanked him and pulled around. I was now on the front and trying to put in a small dig. Jarod stuck to my wheel and Alex was not too far behind. Andy was off the back. I went a lap and a half, and then Alex decided he need to try and control the race. Jarod and I just sat in and Andy made his way back. We went another lap, the Jarod launched a hard attack. Perfect I thought. It unhitched Andy and put Alex under stress again. We made our way back to Jarod, then I went. Jarod followed. things were looking good and I was ready to pounce and open up a big surge and try to force the gap. We went through the sketchy bowl section of the course. And on one of the uphills, my chain came off! NOOOOO! I cause Alex and Jarod to bobble, and then they got around me. The Andy came by. I got the chain back on and began to chase. There was a lot of race left so I did not panic. I was already closing in on Andy and just a head of us, Alex went down in a slick corner taking out Jarod. We were all instantly back together, and Andy took the lead. We began to chase him, and soon Alex, Jarod and myself made it around. I was very thankful for the 2nd chance, and was ready to stick with my plan again. About this time I began to notice that my front tire seemed to be over bitinging in the corners. And it dawned on me that it was going flat. I now had to use caution on every corner until I could get to the pit. Alex and Jarod were slowly slipping away but within contact. However, it gave Andy a chance to catch back up as well. As I made it to the pit, my tire was almost completely flat. And now I was chasing Alex, Jarod and Andy. This was not in the plan. I rolled around for another half lap, closing in on Andy. Swapped my bike again, and continued to chase. By the time the last lap rolled around, I was spent and Andy was out of reach. I settled for 4th. With this 4th and my 3rd. It secured my spot for 3rd overall in the series. But it also took me out of having any chance for a 1st or 2nd overall. But that racing. And I am happy with the overall result considering the level of talent we raced againist in a small but competitive Masters 35+ class.

But there is still one more prize left for me to shoot for. The State Championship race. I have been pimped 2 years in a row at this one. And after this weekend I am even more hungry for it. So between the last few years, the past few races, better fitness than ever heading into the final few weeks, maybe lady luck will be on my side.

Thanks to everyone for cheering to pushing me through the race this weekend. It was awesome! Brad, Jay, Kelly, Jim, Alex, Vinne, Andy, and many others, just too many to remember.

Here are some congrats and favorite moments from the weekend. As always, there are others, but these are the ones I remembered.

Congrats to Alex and Andy for splitting the wins this weekend
Mark Parmalee for laying it down on day 1 taking a commanding win.
Jarod Makowski for showing why he use to be a pro mountain biker and taking 2nd on day 2
Jim Goerlich for taking 5th on day 1 in the B's
Adam Mac for doubling up the W's on both days.
Brad Lako for not giving up and fighting through the pain both days to take home to podiums
Scott Goocher for taking home his first ever CX podium and 2 wins to boot, especially after coming back from being hit by a car just over a year ago - AMAZING!!!
Vinnie Cousino Anila for taking 5th in the C class on day 2 in a slippery mess. Steady improvement is key and thanks for the photos.

Monday, November 12, 2012

USGP - Derby City Cup Day 1 and 2

One of my favorite weekends of racing over the past few years has been the USGP of Cyclocross Derby City Cup in Louisville. Not only do you get the hang out in a lively and beautiful major city, but you get to race against and watch some of the best cyclocross racers on the planet. And to top it all off, you get to race on the actual course that will be used for the Elite World Championships in February! Throw in about 20 or so MISCENE racers and a few old friends from Rouge Racing Project from Louisville, and you have the perfect storm for a perfect CX race weekend!

This year the course was brutal! It was the test run for the Elite course that will be used in a few months. There was a 100 yrd + Sand chute for running, or riding if you had the power. 2 brutal and steep hill run ups that included broken concrete on one, and logs on the other. The Green Monster flyover 2 long off camber sections, 2 steep punchy hills, 2 long starts. A blazing fast paved start/finish section, and 1 set of barriers. It was almost more like Cross-fit rather than cyclocross! And to make it even harder, I raced in the single speed class along with several other Michigan racers. JB Hancock, Jim Goerlich, Mike Seaman, and Mark Wolowic.

Day 1 - I got a front row start and lined up next to Craig Etheridge. There was around 30 in the class, and everyone was itching for the hole shot. The gun went and we exploded out of the chute! A guy on a mountain bike grabbed the hole shot followed by Craig, then me. The pace was incredible! Soon we were surrounded by about 10 others as we dismounted and ran up the log stairs and directly into the sand. I chose to run, and was soon getting passed by anyone that could make it. Bad choice, but it was early and I was not worried. However, this caused me to lose contact with the critical top 5 group. I worked my way back up to around 6-7th. and realized I was in battle once again with Greg Heck. We tried to push hard to bridge the gap to 5th just ahead. In the end of the 2nd lap, JB was able to bridge up to us and put some pressure on both of us to try and pull ahead. All 3 of us stuck like glue. Half way through I was on the very edge of the red zone, but could tell that Greg and JB were too. Jarod Makowski was riding along the long straight away near the pits and encouraged me to attack. I did! I figured I could out power them both and pull away. It worked. I opened a quick gap and round the corner through the barriers. Remounted and sprinted again out of the saddle. I had about a 5 second gap heading into the start finish area and was looking to open it up more, and then a girl stalled on the last steep climb and I could not get around her! POW! I smashed right into her rear and found myself tangled up on the ground. JB instantly caught me and so did Greg. Greg then attached JB and took control. I was now chasing. I got back on to JB's wheel by lighting an untimely match. We stayed with each other until the last lap. Greg was try to shake us both and I tried to same move I did a lap before. It un-hitched JB, but I could not shake Greg. He then made one last move to get around me heading into the last off camber section and 2 punchy climbs. This was a great move as he knew I could bobble the top of the last climb and he would be free. It work. Greg took 7th. I took 8th and JB finished 9th.

Day 2 - I was still looking and hoping to crack the top 5 before the week ended. The gun went and I found myself drifting back fast. JB grabbed the hole shot and planned to hang on to the top 5 group as long as he could. I was sitting somewhere around 10-15 now. And then I began to make my move. I could see JB just a head. He was my carrot. Then soon I found myself chasing down Greg again. He was riding strong but just out of reach. I used the power flats to claw seconds back on him lap after lap and he knew it. With 3 to go, some guys on the side line from Don Walker racing put a hand out with a dollar and said you can keep this if you catch him! I grabbed it and sprinted out of the saddle in pursuit! I caught Greg and settled in on his wheel. We went blow for blow and continued to close in on JB for the last few laps. We were killing each other and it was great! This is racing. I know we were both trying to find and plan the final attack, and kept each other on our limits. Then with less than a quarter lap to go, we entered the 100 yrd sand death march. I knew after this section the course was the same a yesterday and would be critical till the end. After the sand, there was a short leg searing climb, paved flat, the technical off camber section and 2 punchy hills. Knowing what happened the day before, who ever got to the off camber section first and could get just a couple of feet gap, would beat the other. Through the sand we were both running almost side by side. I felt like I could puke. My heart was pounding out of my chest! Greg made it to the exit of the sand first. Mounted his bike and began to pedal up the hill. I followed less than a second behind. Greg could not clip in his pedals clean and bobbled slightly. This allowed me to pull along side him at the top of the turn. As soon as we crested with my legs on fire, I dug deep one last time and opened up a sprint to pull ahead. I might have got 5 or 10 feet on him but I was bound and determined to make sure it would be enough! I took every risk I could through the hair pin turn of the off camber section, kicking my leg out and tail whiping the turn! I pushed as hard as I could to clear the top of the last 2 climbs clean. As I hit the pavement, I looked back and saw the plan worked. I opened the gap and crossed the finish line in 7th place. One spot better than the day before. JB had a stellar race, and finished just ahead of us in 6th. Way to go JB! And Great job racing for the entire weekend Greg!

Congrats to the Lil Pony for double wins!
Mark Wolowic for a win and a 2nd!
Jim Goerlich for cracking the single speed top 10!
JB on his 6th and 8th single speed finishes!
All the Michigan folks who came down and raced. We all represented our state well!

Thanks to Jarod, Jeff, Surly Bastard, Big Mac, Seaman, Pete, Andy, Alex, Mark P, All the Wolverines, All the Flying Rhinos, Card, Rouge Racing, and all the rest of the Michigan folks for a great time and for cheering me on! Felt like racing at home. Awesome!

Monday, November 5, 2012


Its hard to believe how fast the season is going. Iceman 2012 is over, and I feel like I just got out of base one. The Iceman has been a good race for me, and thus I look forward to it every year. This year was a lot of fun, and many laughs were had throughout the weekend with Mark Z, Brad, Ryan K, and Jim G. I only got one thing to say to you guys. Arrr....

When we arrived on Friday, I was feeling great. We did our usual pre-ride and could not believe how fast and firm the trail was. This was looking to be the makings for a special day. The forecast was still calling for mid 30s and not rain or snow for Saturday. Well in typical Iceman fashion, this was not going to be the case. We woke up to Lake effect snow that did not stop until we got to Kalkaska. So thinking it would just stop and make the trail better, it was just the opposite. It was a true Iceman once again. As it snowed hard, and thick heavy flakes left the ground muddy, and slick. But in order to be at the top you got to be able to take on what ever is thrown at you. So this is how it went.

I lost the race to the start line once again, as about 40+ guys were already lining up at 8:30 AM! I was not too worried as I was in wave one again, so I would have a chance for a crack at the title if I rode smart and worked my way to front. At 9:00 AM the gun went off and it was game on. We all rushed down the street at a blistering pace. But my heart rate and breathing were in control. As we made it to the first bottle neck, I was sitting around 20th or so. I didn't even have to hit my brakes this year. I made up a few more spots and finally hit the 2 track. It was fast and frozen. I was going faster than I have ever went in an Iceman before, and closer to the front making my way to the pack that would soon be the difference between 1st, and everyone else.

We hit the first few sections of single track and then with it, the first signs of snow. As we rode farther, the snow was getting deeper, and the ground was getting slick. As we made our way to the new single track sections, it was really slow. Lots of guys were on the brakes, and tires were sliding a bit. The snow was thicker yet. We popped out into the logging area on the 2 track again, and to my surprise, it was like a beach! UGH! the logging trucks rutted the road up and churned up all the sand to make it un-rideable. Each one of these new surprises caused me to get farther and farther away for the lead group. And it was starting to wear my power down as well. By the time I made it to Williamsburg road, I was 1:08 into the race. One of the slowest times at that point to date. From this point on I was still feeling good and buried myself to try and give myself at the top step. My avg speed on the 2nd half was better than the first, and I started to pick off a few folks, and worked with a few other to make up some ground. As I rode into timber ridge I was happy to see that I would beat the 2 hour mark, but was really unsure if I would make the podium at all. The race was tougher than ever and a real surprise! When it was all sorted out. I came away with 2nd place! Very stoked and it was for the 2nd year in a row. And again I lost 1st place to Ross Clark for a 2nd year in a row.

By the way, In case you have'nt heard I had a little podium malfunction before Brad snapped the picture above. So if you want a good laugh, ask around what happen.

Congrats to -

David Moore Jr. - 5th place. First Iceman podium ever! And what a way to cap off a great season.

And there are many many others, that I could go on forever! So if I missed you here or on Facebook, I promise to give you a hug and a hand shake the next time I see you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

LOHS CX Day 1 and 2

I got a little behind last week, and just now catching my breath. With that, we will keep this short. The weekend before Iceman was another new venue added to the Tailwind CX series. Day 1 and 2 of Lake Orion High School. What a great fast fun course, and hope it comes back next year! I had mixed results between the 2 days, but my fitness is coming back around and that is a good thing.

Day 1 - I ended up 3rd. Rodger Bowser put in an massive 3 lap early attack that had us gasping for air! Andy Weir flatted early on, and charged ahead like a diesel truck and motored to the win.

Day 2 - i was feeling better, and the course felt like it flowed better for me as well. The beginning of the race was more controlled, and Andy, Alex and Myself stuck to each other for most of the race. I then decided to make a shape attack and see if it would stick. I jumped, and they did not react. I opened a nice gap and was ready to open it up again before the mini barriers that were placed on the up hill. Rounding the big sweeping turn, I lost my edge and crashed. The cause the rear shifter to load up with dirt and my pedal broke as well. I was ready to DNF right there, but then decided to stick it out. I limped for the rest of the lap and swapped bikes. I was sitting in about 10 place now, and just started riding as hard as I could. I managed to work my way back up to 7th. So I guess not all was lost...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lower Huron CX!

Back in October of 2007, I got my first podium in a cyclocross race! I was so stoked. 3rd place in the C class. I started at that press board wooden plaque all the way home. To me that was a defining moment as a CX racer. One that let me know I could finally compete, and that I was learning a new sport that I fell in love with. Not only was I in love with the sport that day, but I was in love with the course. That course was Lower Huron Metro Park. And every year after 2007 I looked forward to racing there. But in the last few years, Lower Huron was left of the schedule, and I was not sure it would every come back. So with the new owners of Tailwind looking to mix the schedule up a bit listened to all the die hard CX fans of old and added Lower Huron back. This was awesome, and as it has been for several years, it was another good day in the saddle for me.

So far for the season everything has been firing on all cylinders. But I was sensing a probably about to rear its ugly head in my fitness. An untimely peak. Thanks to the help of a friend to point out this potential issue, I laid out my options and got my plan back on track. This will come at a price as well. So the price is a dip in fitness to build it all back up again for the rest of the season. Something I have struggled with in the past. So not know how far it would dip, I was happy I was racing again at Lower Huron, and this would still be a great day!

Most of the regular guys were here except for Rodger. At the start I grabbed the hole shot and probably lit a match as well. The lead group was Alex, Andy, Brain and myself. We took several digs early and switched spots several times through the first 3 laps or so. I was feeling like dirt. Right on the edge and could not attack. Barely hanging on, we caught a big group of elite riders. Alex jumped around about 4 of them. And then turned the screws as Brian, Andy and myself got stuck in traffic. Alex sensed this and forced his gap. It stuck for the rest of the race. Soon after, Brain, Andy and Myself were left to fight it out. Andy made the first move and I got dropped. I managed to claw my way back on the long road section. The Brian went as he rode the run up almost every lap. As he got to the top of the paved climb after the run up he would fall apart and I would catch them. Then it was my turn. On the 2 flat sections of the beginning of the course I got a huge gap. This lasted almost 2 laps. Then my non drive pedal got wrapped around a stake and course tap completely stopping me. Andy and Brian caught back up. With 2 laps to go Brain some how recovered and started to make Sharp attacks. On the run up we dropped Andy and Brian and I were left to duke it out for 2nd. He turned himself inside out and I could not hang on. I had to settle for a tough but respectable 3rd.

Great Job -
The timeless Jeff Weinert for 1st in Elite!
Brian Wachlarz - 2nd in Masters 35+! Highest Master's finish to date!
Alex Monte-Sano - 1st in Masters 35+. 1st Michigan Master's win!
Adam McIntyre - 1st in B-men 39-U. And first win in Tailwind!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kensington CX Day 1 and 2!

After coming of an awesome weekend at the USGP in Madison, My confidence was high and I was ready to jump back into some local racing. And what better to do it than to do it at a new venue! This year Tailwind added Kensignton Metro Park to mix, so there was a special buzz in the air about the race, and I was full of anticipation!

The week leading up to the races was rocky. Training went into the crapper as I become sick with some sort of upper respiratory infection. UGH!! Not good for a race weekend coming up. So I focused on getting over it as soon as possible. Finally by Friday I was feeling better, but still full of mucus. As I got ready and drove to the park, I was very excited as this would be the first time that the race would be at Kensington, so I didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived I hopped on the bike and took a quick loop. The course was laid out great. With rolling terrain, old growth oaks surrounding the park, and a great view of the lake! Awesome! Inside the tape, was a different story. Bumpy, rooty, loose sand and sketchy corners. It wasn’t perfect but it was going to fun and challenging for both days.

Day 1 – The attendance was great. As I got to the line I was not sure how it was going go. As soon as the whistle blew it was full on gas. Rodger Bowser took the hole-shot and never took his foot off the accelerator. There was a group of 5 or so in the front for about 2 laps. And then Rodger, Alex Monte-Sano and I broke off from the pack. We laid it down hard, and I was struggling to hang on. This lasted until the last lap, and finally Rodger made one last dig and pulled ahead for the win. Alex was strong as well and was able to keep separation to take the 2nd spot. I was happy to roll in 3rd and look to fight for another day.

Day 2 – I arrived at the race feeling a little better, and legs were loose for the effort the day before. The course was run backwards with a few other changes in some of the corners. It flowed much better for me, and I was starting to think I would have a good chance to finish better than the day before. I set my tire on the front row next to Andy Fedewa and Rodger Bowser. When the whistle blew I jumped to the front of the group. Shaw Schaffert an incredible surge to grab the hole shot and open up the hurt on the field. I followed 3rd wheel behind Rodger. This is exactly where I wanted to be, especially going into the 1st downhill sketchy left hand turn in the beginning of the loop (this comes into again later). The pace was high and painful for the first lap. There were riders blowing corners through the tape, washing out in the sand, and blowing tubbies. The 3 of us continued to pour it on. By the time the 3rd lap rolled around, Rodger was leading and I was on the edge of my limit to hang on. Rodger would dig on every straight away or flat section and begin to open a gap. As soon as the course started to twist and turn again, I would bring him right back. This was tough on both of us, but even tougher on the rest of the pack. All this time, I could see Alex slowly closing in on us with Andy Weir behind him. As we approached the halfway point of the race, I knew I had to make a move to see if I could shake Rodger. But I had to find the right time to do it. In lap 6 with 3 more laps to go, I found my opportunity. As we rolled through the sand at the end of the lap 5 and made the long sweeping left hand turn into the start finish section, I knew if I could get around Rodger I could take away the power section and possibly open up a gap through the twisty technical of the course. Then it happened. Rodger took an outside line through the sweeping corner and sat up for a brief section. I gave it full gas, and went to the inside line around him and did not let up. Through the first sketchy downhill corner, I took all the risk I could and nearly lost control. I was riding my CX bike like a downhill racer trying to grab every second I could get! I finally got a chance to look back and realized it was working. I was in the red zone, and still pushing harder. I finished up the lap with a negative split and about a 15 second gap. Now the plan was to hold everyone off for another 3 laps. I pushed as hard as I could through every technical corner knowing that this was going to help me continue to increase time, and maintain as much power through the flat sections to limit any loses. It worked to a tee! On the final lap, the adrenaline was pumping something furious knowing I was set up for a win and it was my race to lose. I talked myself through every corner, and focused on keeping the bike up right. I was still feeling good and holding the gap. Brad Lako and several others were all over the course cheering me on like crazy and giving me the needed time checks. Through the last few turns I was stoked and able to finally get a glimpse to see the damage done behind me. I rolled across the finish with both arms in the air and time to enjoy the celebration! My first CX win of the year!
It feels great to get a win under my belt for the season, and makes me want the next one even more. Not only was the win a high point for my weekend, but having my mom and dad there to see it happen was even better! Thanks for diving to all the races, and supporting me year after year.

Congrats to the following folks for some great races last weekend;

Adam York – 3 for 3 for wins already this year. And back to back wind Saturday/Sunday!

Rodger Bowser – 1st on Day 1 and 2nd on Day 2.

Brad Lako – Another W on Day 2! Way to hang in until the end!

Jim Goerlich – 4th place in the B race!

Don Cameron – 1st Double Days! Fastest of the masters and most of the elites.

Tom Payne – 1st place both days, and 1st ever CX win in a B race!

Mike Seaman – Master 45+ Podium both days. You’re off to an awesome start.

Rich Stark – Doubling up in Masters and SS both days and dominating both!

Shawn Schaffert – Doubling up Masters and SS both days, and turning yourself inside out to nail 2nd place.

Derek Hill – Riding Great Again. Makes me happy! Top 5 in the B race!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

USGP Plant Bike Cup - When it All Comes Together!

What an unbelievable and fun weekend! A few weeks ago, I was not sure I would have been able to say that. As the USGP of Cyclocross appeared to be in jeopardy, and was not going to happen. But in the last hour, Trek Bikes stepped in with sponsorship and helped save this incredible event. As a result the race lived on and I was able to pull of something I never thought I would ever be able to do at a USGP event. I scored a top 3 podium in the single speed race! What an incredible feeling! And this is how it went.

Jim Goerlich, Mark Caffyn and myself made the trek around the pond and over to Madison, WI for this year’s edition of the USGP Plant Bike Cup. We got there early Friday and pre-rode the course. It was a lot of fun, and it had much more flow over the course from last year. As always, Jim and I traveled light and planned to take on the single speed class both days. The course was very single speed friendly and I could not wait to line up the next day. Well, the next day came and I was feeling great. Before heading to Madison, I felt I would be able to grab a top 5 and even a top 3 in one of the days if I had the opportunity. So my goal was set, and my confidence was high. This was going to be a tough goal to achieve as there are always big name players, and others coming out of the wood work with the same goal. As we arrived to the park, it was cold! Temps in the mid 30’s, and it sure felt like cyclocross. It kept trying to rain, and was windy as hell. I just thought to myself – Perfect! Jim and I helped Mark get ready for the Cat 2/3 race and cheered him on for a few laps before getting ready ourselves. After a quick warm up, it was time.

I was the 3rd called to the line, and was sitting front and center on the start grid. Lots of the same faces I did battle with the year before including pro Raleigh/Clement rider Craig Etheridge. I was feeling calm and ready. My mind was clear, and the countdown began. The official gave the 15 sec. warning, and shortly after, the whistle blew. We were off! A sea of Lycra clad single speeders were fighting for the hole-shot. I settled in behind the leaders in about 5th. It was chaos as the attacks came early and often. I pegged my heart rate to stay near the front, but did not panic, as I knew several of them would pop. I kept everyone within sight, and just raced my race. Soon I found myself near 10th place in the 2nd lap. I knew I had to start attacking myself. I made a surge, and dropped the group I was with. I could see a few more single speeders strung out in a loose line ahead of me and began to pick them off one at a time. By the 3rd lap, I was sitting back in the top 5. I was with 3rd and 4th riders, and the 2nd place rider was about a ½ lap ahead. We tried to work together and bridge back to 2nd place, but it was obvious that no of us really wanted the other around and each took small digs throughout the lap. I finally made my move in the flat section of lap 4. Another one dropped off and now I was battling alone for the last step of the podium, and 2nd place was getting closer. As we round the course and into the finally lap, the guy in 2nd place was still a few hundred yards ahead but showing signs of fatigue. I told the guy I was riding with that we needed to go get him and get him now, but he did not react. So I took it into my own hands. I went around him and began my chase for 2nd. I went as hard as hell, and was feeling really good and in control. I quickly dropped the 4th place rider and was bearing down on 2nd. Every corner I was gaining an inch. He would look back and try to push harder. As we came near the pits and into the last half of the course, I was only about 15 feet away. I planned my strategy and waited for my opportunity to make one last move.

We both pushed as hard as we could and the crowd and announcers were all going crazy and cheering us on. This made the last few minutes exciting as hell! The only thing left was the hardest part of the course. The long hill climb, downhill switch back and then – the “hill side strangler” run up. I was hot on his heels and wheel to wheel going into the last climb. I pushed past the pain, and knew I had to be the first to the top of the hill to beat him. I began to pull past as we climbed, and as we crested the top, I pushed past him and continued to push as hard as I could through the flat section and into the run-up not looking back. Through the final turns and onto the pavement I did not know where he was, so I was still pouring it on. I crossed the line and saw I had a gap. I did it! I just finished in 2nd place at a USGP! I was so stoked, and couldn’t believe it actually happened!

Day 2 was another good day. I did not stand on the podium, but I did finish up 6th and missed the top 5 by only a few seconds. The course was wide open this day, and I was slightly under geared to hang with the leaders. But my effort was solid, and I was able to negative split my laps for the 2nd day in a row. Overall, what an incredible weekend, and one I will remember for a long time.

The MI scene was in full affect as several folks made the journey for some of the best CX racing in the country.

Congrats to Jeff Weinert for take 2nd place on both days and is in the hunt for the Masters 45+ overall title.

Margaret Robinson – 2nd Cat 4 women Day 1

And congrats to Mike Wissink, Matt Baroli, Tom Burke, Ellie Burke, Sven Baumann, Adam York, Danny Gerrow, Mark Parmelee, Andy Weir, David Johnson, Mark Caffyn, Cruise, Greg Johnson and Jim Goerlich for showing the Wisco crew how the MI scene rolls!

Finally, thanks to the Wolverine/AFC guys for offering up there trailer, tent, and compound during the weekend. It makes it feel like being with family at these races!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Columbus Park CX!

The kick off to the newly revamped Tailwind USAC CX State Championship series got underway last Sunday, and it did so in un-charted territory. A new venue and in my backyard. Yep its almost the end of the earth. Right on the country's international border. Yep, racing in the UP probably would have been closer. Yep. Right here in St. Clair Co. Ironically, its only about 20 mins away from Stony Creek, but to some of the Suburban folks, they were in God's country. Well, Columbus Park proved to be a worthy venue for CX with 29% gradient run up, fast flowing bermed down hills, a 14% grade loose gravel climb, and balls out long power flat sections of 2 track, this was not only different than any other Tailwind race in the past, but one that offered something for everyone. This not only marked the first time the park has hosted a CX race, but also the first time a CX race has taken place in St. Clair Co. So to me, that is really cool!

Onto some racing. This was going to be a good test for everyone. New season, new venue, and a few new faces. That first race is always a acid test... Who's got it? Who's been working for it? How did you road or MTB season go? Who's lean? Who moved up? All the questions are asked. Then you line up, look around. Yep all present. Wait where is So and so? Who is that? Then the whistle blows, and your heart is stuck in your throat! This year it was not any different. Most of the usual suspects were present, so it began... David Johnson grab the hole shot and put down an incredible effort out the blocks. Rodger Bowser followed along with Andy Fedewa, Shawn Schaffert, Brian Wachlarz and then me. Roger and Brain soon covered this first attack and we followed. The Brian Decided to pull ahead of the group and laid it down on the first section of flats. He put some serious hurt on the group. We followed but slowly, the other guys started to fall away. By the time the 3rd lap rolled around, I made contact to Brain and Rodger, and the damage was done to the group behind. I was at my limit and was hoping Brain was done. And as soon as the 4th lap started, he sat up! He was done. Rodger and I went around and began to trade blows. We soon realized it was down to him and I and formed a truce. At this time we were picking up riders in the Elite class, and used them to our advantage for drafting and keeping a nice healthy gap to the rest of our group. We traded pulls until the last 2 laps. Rodger then began to turn the screws. I could feel the pain increase, but he could not completely shake me. He would pull away on the climb and the run up, but I would claw back on all the technical sections of downhills and the flats. By the time the last lap rolled around, he dangled just a few hundred feet ahead of me. Brad Lako was on the side lines yelling at me to chase him down! You can DO IT! DIG! DIG DIG! I stood up and lit a match! I instantly bridged the gap on the down hill. Then the run up. He pulled a few inches back. Then the next down hill. I was back, into the chicanes, and onto the flats. Rodger stood up and applied max power to the pedals. I tired to do the same but my heart rate was already maxed out. No more matches. I tired to stay with him, but could not close down the last couple hundred feet at the end - 2nd place.

I was very happy with the result especially finishing that close to Rodger who is a former Masters 35+ State Champ and overall series champ. So this should make for some exciting racing this year.

Another notable race was the B Men 39-U. My good friend Brad Lako showed that he is going to be a major player in the cross series this year by taking a commanding win! and putting up some of the best lap times of the day! This is Brad first official USAC win! And it is well deserved. Keep working hard, stay focused one race at a time, and take home the year end hardware as well!

Other notable results -

Adam York taking first in the Elite class against a very tough Sven Baumann!
Tom Barret and Scott Fabinjanski - 2nd and 3rd. These guys are ready to breakout. I can smell it.
Mike Seaman - Another great single speed performance with 3rd.
JB Hancock - Taking 1st in the single speed class and having fun. That is what CX is about right?
Ben Christian - 4th in B 39-U. First race and podium! Nice Keep'em coming. You worked hard for it.
Ryan Katulic - 3rd in B 39-U. What would happen if you actually rode your bike other than a few races?
Me - 4th in the single speed race. I felt like death, but pulled out a spint finish for 4th in the end!

Well I will be off to Madison this weekend to take on some of the best single speeders in the country at the USGP of Cyclocross! Shooting for a top 5 and stretch for a top 3 podium finish. It will be tough, but I am ready and excited for the challenge!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Let's Get Ready to......!

Like a kid waiting for Christmas to get here, I have been jonesing for some CX action. And you know what? CX-Mas has arrived! Yep, tis the season. The most wonderful time of the year. And what better way to open up the presents with the first gift of the season - the Ithaca Grand Prix of Cyclocross. JB took a year off from putting this race on to finish up his masters, but it was back this year and it was bigger and better than ever before. One of the best run races, best fun races, and best CX courses in the state! If you have not done this race yet, you should squarely kick yourself in the ass!

As the weeks and days led up to the race, it was one of the only things I could think about. I made the 2.5 hour ride over to Ithaca with my dad, and as soon as we arrived, the buzz was in the air. I chatted with all my CX friends and finally got ready to race. This year the masters races would be 50-60 mins long. So I knew this was going to be a good endurance test for me. Also, in the 5 laps we were going to do, there was a total of 1000 ft of climbing! Ouch. This was going to make for one of the hardest CX races I have ever done. We took to the line behind the elite, and after 30 seconds we were off! I had issues clipping in at the start and this cost me a shot at the Prime. But I was sitting in 5th place going into the course. Attacks came early from Andy Fedewa, Shawn Schaffert, Pete Thompson and Ray Auger. But I just settled into my groove and applied the pressure keeping everyone in sight. After a few laps, and a couple of hard surges up the sled hill, and gravel climb. I found myself at the front of the race all alone with Pete Thompson. I stuck to his wheel like glue, and we traded a few pulls through the race. We continued to grow the gap lap after lap to the other racers. Finally with 2 laps to go, Mark Wolowiec (masters 45+) caught and passed us. Pete made a dig to get onto his wheel right before the sled hill. I followed. I instantly went past the red zone but managed to hang on but just barely. We went through the fast flat section of the course and was able to recover a bit, but Pete was still trying to put the pressure on. Into the long sand pit, I was just off the back. Pete Surged through the sand by foot and past Mark. He remounted his bike and began to sprint up the small punchy hill. I could not respond to the attack and the gap grew. For the next lap and a half, I tried every possibility to reel Pete back in, but the gap was too large. He dangled right in front of me. I crossed the line for 2nd place, and was very happy with my race.

Shortly after, I lined up again for the single speed race. I had some reservations about doing this race as I was completely spent from turning myself inside out trying to catch Pete in the race before. But I got on the line anyway. As soon as the race started, I felt like mush. Legs were tired and heavy, But I know i had 3 more laps left in me. I was sitting in 3rd in the first lap right before the sled hill. I decided to run it rather than ride. Big mistake, as everyone that rode it passed me like I was standing still. Mike Seaman, Jim Gorlich, Ray Auger, and Andy Fedewa were all in front of me now. Mike and Andy took this as their opportunity to make their move stick. As I chased, I passed Jim and Ray in the beginning of the 2nd lap. And I made a big charge to catch Andy, Through the pine tree dirt path. I made contact with Andy right before the sled hill. But it was too much. As we climbed the hill together, my quads began to cramp from the effort of the masters race. I was left to try and hang on, but he slipped away. I was able to hold off everyone else for the last lap, but could not close down the remaining few yards to Andy so I had to settle for 4th. But not bad. 2 podiums on the same day! I will take that.

Congrats to the following folks on some great results!

Sven Bauman - 2nd to a UCI top domestic Road Racing Pro!
Brad Lako - 1st USAC CX podium with a 4th place!
Andy Fedewa  - Double podium and an outstanding 3rd in the single speed race!
Jeff Weinert - 5th in Elite. The pony is ageless!
Mike Seaman - 2nd in the Single Speed race. Racing experience paid off in an awesome early race move to secure a commanding 2nd!
Pete Thompson - 1st place. Way to bounce back from early season injury. Now time to go back and race elite where you belong! ;)
Jeff Haney - 1st place I think he is getting younger!
Tom Barrett - 3rd place, Tommy B looks to be back!
Scott Fabijanski - 3rd place. It appears to be that Scotty is back on a plan, and should be a force to recon with in masters 45+.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

FInally - Getting the best of Stony Creek!

My love hate love saga with Stony ended this year with me finally getting the best of that damn place! And it unofficially closes the end to one of my personal best Mountain Bike Racing seasons ever! Training has been going well, and my overall results have been more than I expected all season. I never really considered myself a great XC racer, but I have proved this year that I can not only race near the top of the expert class, but I can do it week in and week out. As a result, I wrapped up 2nd overall in the Tailwind USAC Michigan State Mountain Bike Points series, and 2nd overall for the XC State Championship! This is something I have not done since racing sport in 2009. So needless to say, I am very happy with how the season has turn out and have a lot of confidence moving forward into cyclocross. But before I move on, I want to tell you about the race at Stony itself. It was one of the best and funnest races I ever had.

It all started out with the call ups. Brad and I took the first 2 spots on the line and the rest fall in. As expected, there were some very fast guys showing up for the last race. Jeff Cergat, Adam Naish, Simon Bailey, and Josh McCreedy just to name a few. And then there were the usual suspects that we have been battling all year. Aryn Pongratz, Dub-9, Todd Freidinger and a few others. I knew I had 2nd overall wrapped up so there really wasn't a lot of pressure for me at the start. As always, the whistle blew and we were off. Brad took the lead at the start with a blistering pace. Followed by Jeff and then me. We splintered the group quickly, and a large gap formed. I backed off soon after because I knew I would pop at that pace. Soon Todd joined me, and we were able to pace our selves and trade pulls for 3 laps. We set a really good pace and played off each other's strengths. Right after the 3rd lap started, Josh joined us and was looking strong. I started to worry that we were falling off the pace and soon would be caught by the entire group. Todd and Josh seemed like they were stronger than I was and I soon found myself slipping off the back and into 5th place. Then through the trees, I could see the black kit of Dub-9. "How in the hell is he going so fast?" I thought. Shortly into the Pines, Jon Caught us and passed like we were standing still.... Josh reacted Todd and I stuck together. We made it to the 4th lap and Jon had pulled ahead of the group and was on his own. Josh, Todd and myself were back together and looking to make something happen. Up the long climb at the start of the loop I took the first pull and made a dig. I realized then that Todd had fallen off and it was just Josh and I. Josh said "lets get him John" and we began the chase. I could not match Josh in the single track, and he pulled away. Then on the flats I caught him. He had cramped and we were back together. We could now see Jon and I began to dig deep. Josh crashed out, so it was up to me. Jon finally realized I was clawing my way back as he looked back. I was taking every inch I could to bridge the gap. I knew if I could get on his wheel before the last climb, I had a chance of beating him since the last 1.5-2.0 miles was all flat 2 track. As we approached the climb I was within yards of making the catch. I could tell he was turning himself inside out to stay ahead, but so was I. We crested the climb and bombed down the hill. I was still inching closer. We got caught up with 2 riders of the 40-49 class and rode with them till the end. Right before the last turn into the start finish area, I finally made contact with Jon. We had just a few hundred yards to go. Jon made one last dig to get around the 2 40-49 yr old riders and boxed me in. This was a perfect move, but I still had a chance. By this time I was spent and was looking for any opportunity to make a move. We were sitting 3rd and 4th for the race at this point. Then to our surprise, Brad was in front of us. We swept him up and passed. Now we were into the final chute fighting for 2nd and 3rd. I could not find that last attack in the legs and settled for 3rd place by 4 seconds. But man what an awesome last 30 mins of racing!

Congrats to Brad for another outstanding season with 3rd overall for the series and State Championship! I can't thank you enough for all the training tips and help with motivation you gave me throughout the season!

And congrats to the other series overall winners as well. There were a lot of personal best among this year classes!

 Finally, thanks to Tailwind for continuing to support my habit and provide great USAC racing in the state of Michigan. It is still a great series, and it will only get better. Good luck Wissmans!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Knocked another one off the bucket list. This this it was Ore to Shore or O2S as most refer to it. And again, it was another race I was going into blind so the expectations were mixed. Everyone always says how great of a race this is and now I know why. Between the unusually course, the great towns in which it starts and ends, and just an all around great atmosphere, I was happy to finally be able to take part. But what was it going to be like? Are the hills really going to be that tough? Can I go full gas for 48 miles? Will the course suit me as much as every keeps telling me? All this was going through my head. However, I just kept it all in perspective and went for a really hard training ride, and tried to beat the 3 hr mark. And this is how it went.

For the week leading up to it. Brad Lako and I talked a lot about the race, what to expect and the great towns in the area. We were both taking our families on vacation in addition to the race. So Brad gave me the run down on what to do at the start, where to hang out, where to eat etc. This was a big help. And we meet up at the start as well. We both arrived early, but not early enough to get a warm up in and a good starting spot. Everyone was already lining there bikes up in the grid. So by the time we got there, we were already 30 rows back. Not good, but then again, I didn't know what to expect. Brad and I were lined up side by side. The gun went and the mountain bike peleton was off! We rode through the city streets for a few miles before hitting the dirt. All you could hear was the high cadence buzz of 700 knobby tires. What a great sound! We then took a hard right hander, and bam into the dirt for the first time. A red dust cloud was every where and thick as riders started to jockey for position. I stuck to Brad's wheel. We then rode through an old iron ore mine and soon found ourselves climbing up a steep and long two track climb. This started to separate out the group a bit. At the top it was all flat bumpy 2 track for several miles. Brad and I turned up the gas, and began to play leap frog from group to group making up lots of time. Brad would bomb down the technical sections, and I would TT through the flats and straights. We traded pulls like this for the entire race. After an hour or so, we made it to the steep power line sections. As you approached it, all you could see was a wall of bike racers walking up this monster from about a 1/2 mile away. Brad and I made quick work of the hill, and picked our way around several riders through the technical rocky section. We hauled ass again at the bottom and then dumped out onto the paved road. I did another hard pull, and soon we were climbing the paved road. The section was hard, but looking back, if I knew the course I would have made my attack here. Never the less, we were able to make up some more ground. By the time we got to the last climb on this section. We splintered the group we were with, and put in a huge gap. Brad jumped up front again and smoked the downhills as I followed. As we made it through some very fast sections, we were starting to catch several guys that had fallen off of the lead pack that was ahead of us with about 10 miles to go. This was a huge morale booster to both of us, and we turned the pace up a notch. By this time I thought I would be dead and ready to blow up. But I was feeling awesome. I told Brad I had at least 2 hard efforts left in me. He said if I thought I had it to go for it. But I told him I would hang back since I did not know the course. So We kept on.

With about 5 miles to go, we got to Kirby Hill. It was steep, loose, and narrow! Brad was in front and took an inside line. There were 2 guys in front of us on the outside line. The problem was, both lines merged in the middle. Brad spun up the hill as hard as he could. I stuck right to his wheel. As Brad approached the first rider, he just barely got around him. I was not as lucky as that rider had to dismount his bike and run in front of me. This caused me to spin up the hill in easiest, and slowest gear I had. Brad knew what he just done, and went for it like a bat out of hell. By the time I made it to the top, he was 300-500 yards down the trail and sprinting. I put it in the big ring and began the great chase! I was slowly reeling him in on the flat 2 track. But just as soon as I would gain, the trail would get technical and his gap would grow. As we got down to 3 miles to go, I was slowing inching my way closer to him again. I was full on gas the entire time, and so was he. I began to take huge risk through the tighter fast single track sections, and making moves past other slower riders through the worst parts of the trail. As I got through the last section of sandy single track, it dumped us onto the pavement again. I looked up and saw Brad just ahead. Click, Click I put it into the big ring. Brad looked back and saw me coming! We had less than 2 miles to go, and all that was left was a long section of rail trail and the paved driveway into the finish line. I put myself into the red zone and caught and then passed Brad at the beginning of the rail trail. This was with 1 mile to go. My legs were screaming, but if I let up for just a second, I knew he would be right back up in my ass! I pedaled hard and passed a ton of people! I looked back as I went past the last corner. I could not see him. I crossed the line and gasped for air. Brad rolled in 30 seconds behind and gave me a high five. That was some of the best "wheel to wheel racing" I have ever been apart of!!! We both had an awesome race because we were able to work together and push each other to our limits. I beat my goal of breaking 3 hrs. with a time of 2:53:32. This was good enough for 102nd out of 595. Not too bad for my first time. And it was also good enough for 22nd out of 110 in the 30-39 men age class. Brad finished up 23nd. Great ride Brad. And way to beat your personal best time!

Other great rides. JTP, Jim Bonnel, Jay Click, Joran Wakely. You guys all crushed it and should be very proud.

Tough luck to Mark Parmelee and Jeff Poirier for flatting. I'm sure you both would have had great rides.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It's a WIN! - Ruby Challenge XC

What a busy weekend of racing. I didn't know if I was going to make it through in one piece, especially with Ruby today. But it all worked out, and worked out well. The weeks leading up to the race, I thought a lot  about my strategy for racing in the Elite/Expert Single Speed class at Ruby. All the MMBA CPS races that I have on done have been on the single speed, but Ruby is my least favorite place to ride my single speed, let alone race it there. But with all the trail work the team has done this year to make it flow well, and the few practice rides I got in on my single speed out there, I knew that I would be able to have a good race if I had anything left in the legs after Brighton.

The plan was to run a big gear and then run up all the longer step hills (Lance and Outhouse Hill) and run across the river crossings. My fear was all the additional running would have my calves cramping like crazy. But if I could manage the running, I would kill the flats and twisty single track sections, as I have been able to hang with most geared riders stroke for stroke at Ruby this year.

This was going to be a 3 lap race and I was loving it. I knew that 90 mins was going to be right in my wheel house for my endurance level. And It was. I tried to grab the hole shot to be the first into the single track, but just got nipped at the entrance of the single track. I rode the wheel of the rider in front of  me, and up the first sandy climb, he stalled and started to fall over. I punched it and went around. This caused a little jam up behind me. From here on out I never looked back. It felt like a 90 min CX race! I was driving as hard as I could all the time. My heart rate stayed high, and I felt butter smooth through the single track the entire time. Running the hills was working perfect, and the legs held up well! As the race was winding down, I was feeling really good and continued to grow my gap until the end. At one point, Aryn Pongratz gave me a time check of 4 mins! I could hardly believe I was going that good. I finished the 3 laps in a time of 1:15. I was expecting a time of 1:20-1:22. And as a result, after 4 years of racing Expert in mountain biking, I finally got a win!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Celebrating Other's Success - Brighton XC

One thing about cycling I have found interesting is, even though it is sometimes a very selfish sport as you use most of your free time for training, spend tons of cash on things you don't really need, but have to have, It is also very rewarding when someone else find success. Maybe it's just respect for one another. Maybe its that you know how hard someone works based on how hard you work. Maybe it's just celebrating the human spirit. When you can see an average Joe do something challenging and finally reach successat the top, it is rewarding to me. Success means different things for all of us. But when you can finish first at something that is always success in my book. Congrats to Jeff Poirier for his first Expert MTB Win today. You took off and never looked back! Well deserved!

The mountain bike season is almost over. Bitter sweet that it has to end, but that just means that cyclocross is ready to begin! Brighton was another step closer, and for the race, I wanted to make sure I did better than 6th place today to help get a step closer to sealing up my 2nd overall in the series. Other than that, it was a really hard training day in my prep for CX.

 I was feeling good at the start but tired from the weeks worth of work on the bike. From the line I tried to get on Jeff's wheel but he was way to strong. So I settled into 2nd and began to pull away from the field. I was never feeling like I was going to hard, but was able to apply the watts to the pedals. It continued like this until the end of lap 3. By this time I hopped on the Rob Selle train and had him pull me around. But Rob was starting to fatigue as was I. Then Brad Lako, JTP, and Todd Freidinger caught me. Not a big deal. And I figured it would be good to ride as a group. Then my chain fell off on a climb. Not good. It would not catch back on. I had to get off the bike and let everyone go by. Damn it! I then had to run the hill. Fix the chain and get back on. As I began to pedal, I could see my train leave the depot. I lit a few matches right away to catch back on, but would just dangle off the back. At the beginning of the 4th lap, I was almost spent and decided to make sure I just salvaged my race with a 4th place to get as many points as possible. I still had a good lap, and felt good coming home. I am one step closer to 2nd overall. And another podium!

Great job to Brad and Todd, you guys had one hell of a race together. And Brad way to get back in the game! There is still opportunities out there!

JTP - Nice job. Way to cross back over to the dirt world again and stand on the box in the toughest class outside of the Elites.

Shawn Schaffert - What can I say. Your riding awesome. You almost broke yourself in half in a road bike crash last week, and you came by me like I was standing still. Keep it up!

Ruby tomorrow.... What am I getting myself into. To be continued....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Was it a Gift, or Experience? - Bloomer Daze XC

As my good friend Todd Powers always tells me, "sometimes it race experience".

I am not the most gifted middle aged overweight dude to throw my leg over a bike and call myself a racer. In fact, my body type is more suited for bowling or softball. But its cycling that I have chosen to spend a large chunk of time and money on putting my body through hell physically and mentally. So when I finally show up to a race and I'm not in the best form or peak fitness, it is rewarding to know that I can pull a 2nd place out of a race like Bloomer because of race experience. This was not my most exciting race. It was not the race where I felt like superman, and felt unstoppable. In fact it was the opposite. But it was a race where I stuck to a plan, and managed my efforts, and at time the entire field I was racing against. So in that, it was one of the best races I have ever had, because I realized I can achieve good results through experience. So this is how it went.

I came into the race in my last week of Base 2, as I am building up for cross. I was not expecting much, but was hoping for a top 5 to help ensure my top 3 overall in the series. It was hot, dusty, and Bloomer is a place with short steep climbs and technical single track. Not really the type of course suited for me. So with the "its a training day" mentality. I was off. I had a few plans early on and they worked perfect to my surprise. The first was to grab the hole shot and set the pace of the group knowing that the course is 80% single track and it would be difficult to pass. I slowed it down so much that the 40-49 group caught us and started yelling at me to go faster! This was awesome. Finally Brad Lako made it onto my wheel and in the 2nd straight flat section on the first lap, I kicked it up in the big ring and laid down the power for Brad. This broke the field up a bit, and launched Brad into the next section of single track on his own. He was gone, and I was managing the pace again through the single track. This lasted until the 3rd lap when Jason Lechner and Todd Freidninger finally made a move around me. I was able to hang on for a bit but could not react to the sudden surges. I let them go and found myself alone in 4th. I was OK with this and just rode within my limits. Then at the beginning of the 4th lap, I was still feeling strong. I decided to push the pace a little harder, and soon caught Todd again. Sweet now Im in 3rd. He let me go and I was off. As I approached the section behind the velodrome, I could See Aryn Pongratz closing in. I picked it up a bit more, but not to the point I would blow up. I knew if I could make it through the switch backs without him on my wheel, I would be able to power away from him through the rest of the flat sections of the course. As I approached the switch backs I was now in 2nd! I went into the switch backs and as I was half way through, I looked up and there was Aryn. I went as hard as I could through the middle ridge trail, and onto the rail trail at the bottom and I was gone until I crossed the line. 2nd place and only 68 seconds behind 1st. All in all. It was a good day for me.

A few notable result to stuck out for me.

Congrats to Aryn for a stellar race. Not racing for a few years and pulling off a top 3 in an Expert USAC race is an awesome result!
Congrats to Shawn Schaffert on a 3rd place in a very tough 40-49 Expert class. You were fast as hell through the course.
Congrats to David Moore Jr. For what I think is his first Expert podium in a USAC event with a 5th.
Congrats to Drew Loewenthal (TSB) for a win in sport beginner single speed! Your lap times were great!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why do I keep doing this? Stony Creek Marathon

This will be short and sweet, like the racing I prefer. But its that time of year again. Where I regret doing this little race at Stony Creek. This year it was hotter, and I finished it in one of the worst times ever. 4:30 mins for the 50 mile course. The legs felt great all the way through and I never even cramped. But my neck, hands, back, bottom of feet, and ass were screaming. On a positive note, the CX plan has began. And this was the first week for it. For the first time since I have been racing, I took off 3 solid weeks of training leading to this week. And it showed for the race, but I am really fresh for my real season in the coming months. Before I go, there were some great rides today in what is always one of the toughest mountain bike races in the state so here are some of my favorites.

Mark Parmelee - 1st Elite - This is awesome. He beat some big boys, and racing in the heat for a long time is not his strength.
Alex Gonzalez - 3rd place - Best Expert finish to date. And putting TSB on the podium! Way to go!
Brad Lako - 5th place - So far Brad is 5 for 5 in the USAC series for Podium trips! Hell Yeah!
Shawn Schaffert - 4th - Great to see you riding well again.
Don Cameron - 1st - What can I say. DC is un-stoppable!
Kevin Kahl - Well you didn't get on the podium. But you are well on your way! You had a great ride and should be happy with your progress to date.
Aryn Pongratz - No podium for you either. But dude. You kicked ass today. It is all coming back and coming back well for you.

See you all at Bloomer....

Monday, June 11, 2012

Measurement +/-

Cycling is a crazy sport. And even crazier to gauge or measure. Especially when it comes to your individual controls. But not to go off like some kind of engineering nerd that God knows I am not. It's just very interesting to try and figure it all out. What I have found is, the best way to learn in cycling, much like life is to make mistakes. As unfortunate, and the least most favorite method of learning, it often yields better, and more gratifying results when you find success. Its because you get a taste, your so close but not quite, its fuel for the fire, the carrot! Having failure drives you to succeed because you know what it is you want! If it wasn't for gauging and measuring our success, failures, or ourselves in general or within cycling what would we be chasing? If it was easy to have success, would you really want to keep doing it? Even though success means different things to different people. We all desire it.

Well, the end of my first training peak came to bitter end at Ft Custer Revenge TT this past Sunday. Months of training, prepping, making mistakes, ended with 2 mediorce results, as I came down with a nasty head cold the night before. So its back to gauging and measuring. If I look at the plan by 1 race alone, it ended sucky with things that were out of my control - Can't plan viruses. If I look at it the right way, I had a tremendous amount of success with my plan. And thus have had the best mountain bike season to date. So enough with my "trying to reason", I am ready for round 2. I am smarter and stronger than any year before, and have the carrot just in front of me.

Ft Custer Revenge results

Expert Men 30-39 - 6th (1:02)
Elite Expert Single Speed - 4th (1:05)

Congrats to Pete and Brad. Pulling off the double podium! You guys are rocking this year. And Brad its right in front of you!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hanson Hills XC

I knocked another one off the bucket list. This time, 2 birds with one stone! That being ride the trails at Hanson Hills, and do the Hanson Hills XC race. It worked out well. About 2 months ago, I realized that this race fell right in the middle of my peak/race period of my plan. And decided, what the hell so added it to my schedule. And I am glad I did.

I got up early packed the car and picked up Brad Lako for the quest North. We headed out early to drop off some fun promotion t-shirts, and Brad was originally going to race in the geared class, but he changed to the single speed class with me later in the day, to try and avoid a potential muddy disaster! So we had plenty of time to kill.  As we were chilling gangsta style at the start line next to the car, Brad said why are all those single speed guys lining up! I felt like I had an out of body experience. A fish out of water. Got caught for a crime I did not commit! Complete helplessness. HOW! WHY! UGHH! But it turned out it was the 5 guys not paying attention to the start time. I hope I never go through that again...

We lined up. And I did not know anyone. But there sure was a lot of fit fast looking dudes, and they all looked hungry. I started re-evaluating what position I really wanted to aim for, but that all changed once we started. I got a poor start, but the long section on double track allowed me to work my way up to the top 5 group just behind Brad. I was expecting all out warfare to start. But it felt like I was sitting in on a road race. This is cool I thought. We made it to the top of the 2nd climb, and I looked back and the rest of the field was no where to be found. We gapped'em, and the pace was the same. I did not know the trail or riders so I waited for the 1st moves to come from them. Finally just over half way, the first attack was made by a dude racing for Roll Models. No one reacted. I was in 5th position at this time, and had a hard timing getting the fusion rider and cross country rider ahead of Brad and I. Then a few mins later, Brad attacked and he attacked hard. I thought the others would respond, but nothing. He popped them! So I made my move to get on Brads wheel. I did everything I could to catch him but he was full gas the entire time. I was now sitting in 3rd with an ever growing gap behind and closing in on Brad. We started the 2nd lap and I was within talking distance to Brad. I was feeling great and ready to make my move, and my left hamstring cramped up?! This has never happened. What the hell? I could not get it to release until we started climbing the single track again. By this time Brad was growing his lead again. Finally the cramp went away, and I began to light my matches one by one. Through all the flats and short climbs I was pulling back time on him quickly. I finally made contact and at that time, we both saw we were bringing back the leader. We both surged hard and started to close in. And then, both the top of my quads completely cramped!!! NOOOOO! I had to back off and try to salvage a 3rd. I rode smart and kept checking for the fusion rider and Cross Country Rider to catch me. Nothing until the last 1-2 miles. By now I could barley climb, and relied on all my race experience to not allow my legs to cramp to the point of stopping. I knew I had the last big climb to go and a down hill finish. If I could just get to the top first, I would be OK. As I approached the top, my legs were screaming, but I was first. I tried to descend as fast as I could, and as I got into the last 2 turns before the finish line I heard "inside". I held my line to the tape giving nothing! and then went directly to the other side of the tape holding my line through the last turn and keeping the fusion rider from passing me. I salvaged my 3rd.... But what could I have done if I had never cramped?

Congrats to Brad on one of the best rides I have ever seen him put together. It was awesome to watch and be a part of!. That W is coming. And congrats to Jon W. and Alex G on 2 more great expert race performances!

Next week is my last week of my training plan before CX starts. I am looking to cash in all my chips at Fort Custer. So far my training has went as well as I could ever have hoped for. So I hope it means good things to come in the fall...