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....