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...