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...