Sunday, May 20, 2012

Addison Oaks Stage Race Day &2!

New to the Tailwind series this year was the Addison Oaks Stage race, replacing what use to be the Brighton Stage race. And overall, I think it was a great choice for this event. Day 1 consisted of a 7.5 mile TT in the morning in the great single track that Addison has to offer, and later it was followed with a well laid out short track race. Then followed by the XC race on Day 2. Going into the race, my fitness was coming around, and I was ready to give it my best. Especially on day 1 with the shorter events.

Time Trail - I got a good long warm up in, and it was time to go off. There was a considerably long grass start, but it had a good flow. From the gun I punched it! Legs and lungs instantly caught fire. But I never let up. I pushed as hard as I could through the single track, which I felt like I was handling well. Then in the middle of the trail, we took a re-route through a long grassy hilly section. I thought this was perfect for my strengths, and would allow me to make up any lost time. It worked. I finished up the TT back in the grass with a full on sprint to the line, and it was good enough for 2nd place!

Short Track Race - After my TT, I was stoked and now I felt the tables would turn even more into my favor for the grass short track race. This year I decided to leave the CX bike at home after listening to Brad Lako tell me "it will be more about the engine than the bike". And just figuring in a 20+ min race with no barriers or running sections, why bother with the CX bike. Well my choice seemed to pay off for me. As soon as the gun went, I was off! I grabbed the hole shot and never looked back. I turned myself inside out trying to force any gap I could to gain the 20 or so seconds I needed to take the lead over Jim Bonnel for 1st overall. After 2 laps and still on the front, I looked back to see the damage. Holy Shit! There was about a 30-40 second gap. And I was hoping Jim was in it. All I knew was that Don Cameron, Shonny, were with me at the front. I didn't know that Jim was able to claw his way back into the tail end of our group. With 2 laps to go, I did not let up. Still in the front and pushing. On the last lap, Jim finally made his move. I knew I was not going to get back any time on him for the overall, but this was still a individual race and a race needs a winner. I was actually happy he came around, and he went hard. I think he actually thought he dropped me for bit, but I was on his wheel and in the best position to line up for the sprint. With about 50 yards to go, I made my jump. He reacted and we went into the finishing chute bar to bar. I made one last lunge for the line and saw my wheel cross about 3-4 inches ahead of his (see pic above). It was a great race, and Jim put in an outstanding effort, to not allow me to get back any time for the overall lead. So at the end of the day, I settled for a personal best Tailwind Expert MTB series result of 2nd overall for the day and a trip to the podium!

XC Race - So now it's day 2. And this was going to be scored as a separate race, and another chance for a podium. Of all 3 races, this is the one I was worried about the most. As in the past the last lap of 2 would start to wear me down. But I was hoping with all the extra base I done over the winter and spring, and sticking to a plan it would all pay off. We got a nice top 5 call up today for the start and this put me right on the start line. We went off and I lined up right behind Bonnel and Lako. I was feeling good again, and just waited for opportunities to present themselves. Jim took off after the first climb like a bat out of hell. Brad and I decided to just let him go and see what would be left. There was a group of about 5 of us for the first 2 laps. Brad and I traded pulls, and then at the beginning of the 2rd lap, Brad waved me through. I thought that he wanted me to lay the power down through the grass start to try and splinter the group. It worked, but only Jon W (dub-9) made the jump. I lead the way with Jon through the first few series of single track, and let him go by me through the double track. Now getting pulled for a change, I was feeling good and thinking about the finish. Jon went through the rest of the trail and spilled it in the corner of the beginning of the grass section. This allowed me to go around. There was still a small gap between me Brad, Todd, and fighting to get back Jon W. I just kept putting out the effort, and continued to open the gap. Jon was able to make his away back to me but never closed down the gap all the way. At the beginning of the 4th lap, I laid down as much power as I could and started to open it up again. By the time we got up the first climb and into the 1st section of single track I could not see him. I played it smart through the single track and attacked on the flats and open sections to try and maintain or open the gap behind. I pedal as hard as I could through the grass one last time un-contested and came across in 2nd! My beat Tailwind USAC Expert XC race result to date!

I can't thank Brad Lako enough for helping me construct my training plan, listening to me whine for the past few months and encouraging me to stick to it and be patient and let the plan work! Your the best and I know your turn to light it up is coming soon.

Also, thanks to my other coach. Nameless and mysterious, it is all coming together...

Finally, TSB had a great turnout! I think that everyone that raced got on the podium. Awesome!!! We are representing as a force again in the racing world! Keep it up! And congrats to Pat Word on another Iron Man finish in Texas! you got big balls! And another great result for Todd Tri-Lawrence for putting up some PB times and results over the weekend. Also, congrats to Todd Powers for jumping into the Xtrea world. Not what you were looking for today, but Karma is on your side. You will be force to recon with soon. So look out Xtrea world, TP is coming after ya!

One more great result - Pete Thompson - a freaking first place in a XC mountain bike race?! WOW!

Monday, May 7, 2012

80/20 rule - Cone-Azalia

I don’t venture into the road racing scene too often, but try to make it to at least one per year, especially if they are interesting. Last year was the Criterium Detroit. And this year I decided to do Cone-Azalia. The thing that intrigued me the most about this race is the fact that it is contested on dirt roads and paved, making it not a typical roadie event. It is considered Michigan’s original or longest running dirt road race, which are events I have really grown to love. So since this race has been in my head for some time now, this is the year I would give it a shot.

The race was not much more than a really hard training day for me since it would be the last day of my build 2. I don’t have a road license, so I had to race in Cat 5. Regardless of all this, it was still a race and one I have never done before. So I was extremely excited about it especially not knowing what to expect. From the whistle, I lead out the group. From here I had to decide, was I going to be the dumb ass I normally am and give all these roadies a free ride around the course and pull the peloton for the entire race? Or am I going to be smart and hide like everyone else and pop out at the last minute for the win? As soon as I hit the dirt my decision was made. I ended up pulling for at least 80% of the race. The only other guys will to work was Jim Hilditch and a Trails-edge team racer. The legs felt really good for the entire race, and I was able to neutralize any little attacks. I rode at or above my lactic threshold zones for more of the race. By the time the last lap rolled around, I was still on the front and ratcheting up the pace. We hit the last corner into the wind with 1 K to go. No one would come around. I eased up the pace to try to save some energy know what was about to come. Finally with about 500 meters to go, the pace picked back up, and a few guys from the pack finally made it near the front. At 250 meters, the games started, everyone was squirrely and then the sprints were launched. I felt this was way too early for a sprint to start but had no choice. I dug deep and past the lactic acid in my legs to stay near the front. I passed several guys, and a few came off my wheel and around. I looked up as 5 guys just a wheel to a bike length away crossed the line. I ended up 6th out of 40+ in Cat 5 35+.

I was happy with the result based on all the work I did, and got some great data to analyze. Not sure if I will be doing anymore road events this year, but it is on my mind. But until then, Addison Oaks Stage Race is next on the docket!

Congrats to Jeffery Tom Payne for a solid 5th in a stacked Cat 4 field. You are rocking right now! And congrats to Don Cameron a great 2nd place in Master 45+.