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!