Friday, December 20, 2013

Give yourself a chance, then take it!

This hobby of mine has completely consumed me since 2006. And of all the years, this one has been different. I struggled to find the drive for the better part of the season and it showed. I was fat, tired, and just plain not having fun. It hit rock bottom in July at Brighton where I tipped 200lbs. and had one of the worst races in my life. Not fun. So here is a recap of my season. No pics of bling, just the highs, lows, and what I learned.

I had some early glimmers of success, with my highest finish at BRX with 4th. I took the overall win and age group win on the short edition of Lowell 50, and finished with my best result as an Expert to date at the Stony Marathon with 3rd. But it was not enough... I wasn't having fun, I developed a hip flexor injury, and just felt like poo.

After some soul searching and driving everyone around me nuts asking for advice and crying on shoulders. I finally pulled the plug! Stopped riding... Skipped races (for the first time ever)... Healed up a bit... Cleaned up my diet and refocused.

First stop after making these adjustments was O2S. For the first time this year, I was feeling the fire burning again. I did not know what to expect since I was going from a week off the bike to racing for 48 miles! But I really didn't give a shit! And I was happy. In the end, I finished up making my goal of top 100 and I was happy, and finally feeling good. I was able to stay up in the UP and ride my bike on some of the best trails in the world with no limits, no plans, and no cares! And it was great. This is when I fell in love with my hobby again. The stage was set and I was ready. By this time, I was also losing the weight. So at 22 lbs. lighter I was feeling good.

For the rest of the year I had a re-newed focus, a good plan, and great advice from Jeff and Brad to help me identify and correct training mistakes I made earlier in the year. From here on out, my season took a 360 degree change for the better. When I got back from the UP, I entered the Ruby 50 since it was in my back yard and was looking to get in some longer miles any way. I took 2nd overall, and 1st in my age group. Next stop was the last XC mountain bike race of the season. Tailwind Stony XC. I ended up taking 1st there as well. This was my 1st USAC XC MTB win since moving up to expert! From here, the CX season was ready to begin, and I was not sure what to expect. I was approaching the season a little different. Start out slow, and get a good solid fitness base to work off of. Then finish off strong! In addition, I really wanted to focus on winning the ICEMAN this year. So I decided to focus more on that, and just let the chips fall where they will with the early CX season.

At Ithaca, I rolled a tubular and finished last. Not the start I was hoping for. I then got 4th at Waterford day 1. Better, but not feeling like I had the extra gears to attack. Day 2 - a puncture flat... Really? I continued to put in the hours of training. When I got to Mad Anthony, I didn't realize I was buried from training and shit the bed! DFL! I thought I blew it. My ICEMAN chances were done! My season was done! ugh! But reviewing my HR data told me what I needed to do. Take a break! This is something that was very hard to learn. Learn how to recover properly. So I did. And leading up to ICEMAN I was back on track and finally got a win! Since I finally accomplished my goal that I have been chasing for several years, I was now ready to focus 100% on CX, and I had a boat load of fitness to put into it! I took 3 consecutive wins at Vets Park and Bloomer Day 1 and 2! This was a first for me at any level of CX racing! And I was now in a good position to take a crack at the overall title in Masters 35+. Going into the State Championship race, I was still feeling good and really wanted to come home with a 35-39 State title. An early crash in the race left me chasing the leaders until the end, but I did enough work to fend off anyone that was under 40, and reached another goal.

It was not a perfect season, but I don't know if any truly are. But its the most wins I have ever racked up with 7! And one was huge with ICEMAN. I learned a lot about training, and even more about myself and what I can achieve if I put my mind to it. When I pulled the plug in the summer, I came up with a mantra that I kept telling myself over and over again. "Give yourself a chance, then take it!" This has really helped and is really true for anything you do. If you never give yourself a chance, how will you know what can be accomplished? But you got to take the risk, and take the chance as well in order to see it through.

So that's my season.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Michigan Cyclocross State Championship! - Addison Oaks

The last dance. It's really been an incredible CX season. At least for the Masters 35+ Class. I don't ever remember as much consistent talent week after week as there has been this year. I said in week 1, that there were 10 legit guys that could win a race in this class any given week! And that never changed - all the way to till the end. We all threw blows, rubbed wheels, cut lines, hooked bars, drew blood, and finished each race by giving hugs . All season long we were each other's biggest fans and I believe each of us left it all on the course each week until the end. This is what made coming into the state championship special. It was still going to be any one's race to win.

The day was cold! In the mid teens cold. But the anticipation on racing made the numb fingers and toes feel natural. It wasn't going to matter. There was only 60 more mins of suffering left in 2013, so the cold was the least of concerns.

I was excited and nervous at the same time. My experience has taught me this is a good thing, as long as you can control it. I did my best, and just made sure I got a good warm up in. I went for a ride on the rock solid frozen course with JMAK. I had on my Grifos, and in the first few corners I found myself on my ass. JMAK yelled "Its just practice! Come on!" This made my nerves worse! I finished a lap, and went to the truck and put the lucky Dugast Rhinos back on that have severed me well since Vet's Park. This helped but buy the ground was still unpredictable and full of surprises in every turn!

We all lined up behind the elites and took off like scared Deer! The pace was crazy fast and the carnage began in the first few off camber corners. I got a poor start but was content with just sitting in. I could See Steve B leading the pack of masters with Wade, Andy, and Brian just behind. Simon was with me along with JMAK. We picked our way through some slower riders, and I was feeling good. Lap 2, the course opened up a bit, and we started to move. Simon, JMAK and myself were closing in on the lead group that contained Alex and Steve. Halfway through the lap, we came up on Alex and Steve laying on the ground with bikes tangled! It was a mess. Alex appeared to be hurt as well. A young elite rider took them both out! We were now even closer to the front. JMAK now made his first move. He got a small gap, but I was able to cover. Simon and a few others were not able to hang on. 3/4 of the way through the 3rd lap. JMAK and I caught Brain and Wade who were now the leaders of the Masters 35+ There pace had slowed quite a bit, so we were above to sit in and recover. I was still feeling good and was waiting for an opportunity to pounce. The in one of the slight off camber turns, my front tire found a frozen slippery rut and I went down! In the process I shattered my buckle on my Left shoe! UGH! Not good! I got back up and saw that I went from lead group to chasing from about 7-10th. Don't panic, plenty of time. I kept telling myself. This left me lighting a lot of matches, but I knew what I had to do. I picked off the guys in my class one by one. Finally after about 2 more laps, I finally caught everyone but JMAK who was pouring it on and was going to be difficult to catch. I sat in for moment and looked for an opportunity. On the beginning of the next lap. Wade decided he needed to go. I followed. Brian could not hold, and Simon was back even farther, along with a charging Todd Greene. Soon after Wade washed out in front of me in one of the tricky turns. I just barley missed him and went through clean. I was now in 2nd (leading the 35-39 State title race) I made a few more attacks to open up some more room and try to pull back JMAK. After the barriers I had a nice gap. And then Alex made it back on my wheel! Where the hell and how did he get here? AMAZING!!!! I thought. He soon pulled by. I hung on to his wheel for as long as I could but it was not going to happen today. He was on a mission!

I was still in a great position and feeling good even after the additional work I had to do to get near the front again. I knew that Alex and JMAK were both over 40, so I may not be able to win the race, but I was in position to win my first Master 35-39 State Championship title, and possible the overall series title. My goal was to keep my gap and continue to apply pressure to everyone behind me without making mistakes! I rode hard and smooth. The crowd was amazing and loud near the KLM tent and barriers each lap, and this just motivated me to go as hard as possible.

Through the sand, one last time, I knew I had done enough and just rode out the last few corners of the lap. I held on to a solid 3rd, but finally won a Masters 35-39 State Championship Title!

Congrats to Alex on the 40-45 State title, last race win, and series overall! You deserved it.
Congrats to JMAK on a solid season end - You never give up and I love it!
Congrats to Simon, Brain, Andy, Ray, Todd, Brad, Pete, Wade, and all the other Masters 35+ Players for an outstanding season from all of you.
Congrats to Sven, Kelly, JB, Dave Z, Tom B on their state titles.
Congrats to Dennis W, and Mark C on their State podiums.

Thank you Tailwind for providing some great racing in out state, and KLM for support during the race. Especially Brad for working the pits!

Thanks to my Mom and Dad for coming out and supporting me at all the races. Even in the nastiest of weather conditions!

Thanks again Mike's Mix, Macomb Bike, and Apto Studio for all your support all year long!

Time for a much needed break.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bloomer CX Day 1 and 2

With a turn of events 2 days before what was going to be LOHS CX Day 1 and 2 left the Tailwind Racing crew scrambling to find and venue to hold the races. Luckily the City of Rochester opened their arms and let the crew land at none other than Bloomer Park. Not only was this a good venue and close to the original plan, the Tailwind crew could of just hurried up and laid out the same of typical Bloomer course that had been used year after year. But know, they decided to change it up. Break tradition, and laid out one of the best courses in my opinion that Michigan has seen from Tailwind in a while. I have to say what they pulled off in 2 days was amazing.

Day 1 - It was cold. And windy. And then the mud came... Perfect! But I was a little worried about my fingers going numb and not being able to feel the shifters and brakes. I actually borrowed a pair of Specialized Radiant gloves from KLM owner Frank, and they were perfect!

I was finally ready to go, and shivering waiting for the whistle. It blew and we sprinted for the first sharp right hand turn. Instantly everyone was on the brakes, and the next thing I new I was buzzing all the mud off of Alex's tire. It felt like it was going on forever. All I could think was I was getting ready to wreck everyone! Luckily, this kind of stuff doesn't freak me out, and I kept it up. Close call, and I made sure I instantly apologized to everyone around. from there I settle right in. Ben Christan, Alex, Brain and Andy all had great starts and were a few seconds ahead of me. I bridge back to them by the time we made it to the sled hill climb on the 1st lap. I was feeling great. On the beginning of the 2nd lap, I could feel the guys were already feeling it from the effort. So I decided to roll the dice and test some legs. I sprinted out of the pack hard and down the paved starting straight. I eased up and took a peek. to my surprise no one was with me, and only Pete Thompson reacted and began to chase me. I instantly settled into my a nice hard tempo pace and drove hard lap after lap. I continued to grow the gap between Pete and myself a few seconds each lap, with the main focus of riding smooth. It was enough. I got another win!

Day 2 - All the same players were back for more! It was even colder but not as much wind. I had a much better and cleaner start. Sitting in the top 3 with JMACK and Pete. Pete was riding hard and JMACK was showing signs he could go at any time. Alex was riding better as well, and with the course being frozen solid vs muddy, it appeared that we would be racing closer throughout the day. 2 laps in we are still riding wheel to wheel. But there a some small signs on the climbs that the effort is slowly beginning to wear folks down. As we come down the paved starting straight, I decided to test the legs and drive the front. I put the pressure on and JMACK and Pete hang on. It's the 3rd lap now, and we are breaking the rest of the pack up and mixing in with elites. Alex flats before the sled hill. We get to the bottom, turn to start climbing and my chain is completely off! UGH! I don't panic and try to shift it back on. No luck! I try again. JMACK yells "get it back on!". I had to get off and put it on by hand. I lose between 15-20 seconds. Jarod and Pete are now gone, and the rest of the Masters 35+ have all came but came by me now as well. I run back up the hill and start my charge. I'm in about 7th place now! But I still didn't panic. Lots of time left. I pushed as hard as I could for the rest of the lap catching all but Pete and Jarod before the 4th lap. By now JMACK recognized this was a great chance to secure the lead. He was at least 30 seconds ahead of Pete now. I continued to work hard each lap and finally caught and passed Pete. JMACK was all that was left.

I knew this was going to be tough. When JMACK smells blood, there are few people that are as hard to beat as him. He will not give up that easy! Lap after lap I stayed consistent and took back 10 or so seconds each lap. Finally with 2 laps to go, I caught him. I sat in for about 1/2 lap to recover a bit, and then turned the screws. I could not shake him through any of the technical hair pin turns, or single track sections, so I relied on attacking at the sled hill and paved climb after. It worked I opened a small gap with 1 lap to go. I settled into a nice hard paced groove, but always made sure I knew where he was. Because after all, he is JMACK and the dude never gives up! But it was enough to hold him off... this time. I pulled off my first double win weekend ever!

Thanks to the KLM team for setting up base camp with a heated tent and offering support to everyone! Much appreciated.

Thanks again to Frank for the Gloves
Thanks Bob Bruce for use of the photos

Next stop Michigan CX State Championship!!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Still Rolling Strong - Vet's Park CX

After a great Iceman, I am finally ready to focus back on the type of racing I love, and go all in! It's back to Cyclocross 100%! It's great to be this deep into the year, and still be excited about racing. And to make it even better, I was able to race at one of my favorite venues once again - Veteran's Park in Ann Arbor.

On race day, I was ready to turn myself inside out to chase at least one CX win before the end of the season. Most the normal guys were all lined up and the whistle blew! We were off. The start was very congested and chaotic. Leaning on everyone just to try and avoid crashes and get into position before the paved climb and into an early technical section. I got jammed up early and was sitting behind the mid pack point. But I knew where everyone was and just waited. As we moved through the course, I made several 5 second all out burst to get around folks one by one. Near the end of the first lap, I was within the top 5 group containing Simon Bailey, Ben Christian, Andy Fedewa, and Todd Greene. Brain Wachlarz had a great start and was actually leading the Elite group at this point! By this time, DC, Steve Broglio, Shawn Davison and Jim Hilditch was in the group as well. I felt it was time to make a move, so I rolled the dice and attacked to test the legs but to also, get myself out of any trouble. Only Don, Shawn and Steve were able to respond. Brain, was now out of the top 3 Elite Group and all alone and within striking distance. I continued to push myself on the edge of the red zone. Within 2 more laps, I pulled away for DC, Shawn and Steve and was pulling back Brain 1 second at a time. We continued like this lap after lap. He was just the carrot I needed to stay focused and push myself to the limit. With 3 laps to go, I finally caught him near the end of the lap up the long switch back climb. I was gassed from the effort, but knew what I needed to do if I wanted to give myself a chance for the win. I spent the rest of the lap just trying to recover and get ready to make my next move.

Through the beginning of the 2nd lap, I was content just staying on his wheel. We went through the technical off camber section clean and down the hill one last time. Now was my chance to attack and see where he was at. Through the long flat, bumpy straight away behind the baseball diamonds, I laid it down. Out of the saddle I sprinted around Brain all out. The gap formed instantly. I turned the screws harder through every corner and every hill. I had a nice lead going into the last lap. I was still feeling strong and focused on maintaining the lead, and not making any mistakes. It worked! I was able to cross the line by myself for my first CX win of the year!

Thanks Brain for the great battle! This is one I will remember.

Congrats to Todd Greene on an outstanding 3rd. And Congrats to Tom Barret for a dominating win in the Cat 3s!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ICEMAN Cometh 2013!

If you have had a conversation with me in the past few months about Iceman, at some point I'm sure I mentioned that I wanted to win it this year. For most races that I enter, I don't normally call a race out as "I want to win" or "I am going for the win". Sure I want to win every race I enter, and always try to give it my best shot, but in the end, I realize that my competition wants it too, and the races and categories I race in are full of guys that that are as good and in most cases, better, faster, and stronger. But this time I had the focus, I had the plan, the confidence, the experience, and the hunger for trying to cash it all in for 30 miles to win my age category at ICEMAN Cometh.

In the weeks prior, I had been really trying to focus on training for the event. Actually to the point, that I probably side tracked some of cross races. But this is one of the biggest cycling events in the state, the country, North America! And I have been the brides maid 2 years, and wanted to finally get a big one under my belt. at this point I knew I could win this damn thing, but everything needed to click!

Things were going well and I was feeling good the week of the race. I was feeling relaxed but excited to get up to TC, and go through the yearly festive rituals. DC and I headed up early Friday morning and it rained the entire time! This could be a really good sign, as the course is usually really loose and sandy. So some rain would make it fast! We met up with Mike Wissink and got a mid day pre-ride in at the end of the course. Yup, it was fast and dialed, and the forecast was beginning to look better for the start of the race.  Also, my legs were feeling strong and snappy! I could not wait to race! We settled in at the expo for a few hours, and then prepped the bikes and gear for an early morning departure.

Race day - It was still sprinkling when we got up. Temps in the low 40s and it was perfect for my 8th shot at an ICEMAN win. This year I had a detailed plan. Be on the front row. Make it through the middle school fence in the top 15 group. Hit the first section on 2 track up the sandy climb in the top 10 group. and hang on to DC's wheel to the end! In addition, Brad and I were going to try and work with each other for the entire race is we were both on form.

I got a quick pre-ride in and rode to the start line about 20 mins before. Perfect on the front row right next to DC, and Brad at my side. Also, being in Wave #1, I was surrounded by fast as hell guys like Jarod Makowski, Mike Wissink, Cory Stange, Rob Selle, etc. So finding fast wheels early in case I had to pull out a plan B would be easy. The clock counted down and we were off! The buzz of knobby tires was deafening! There was instant chaos as guys were leaning on each other, Rubbing elbows, buzzing wheels and flat out cutting each other off all at 25 mph! I stayed near the front, and pedaled hard. As we turned to the middle school, I made my way up to the Sharp end of the peloton to avoid any bottle necks through the hole in the fence. I went through with Brad and DC clean! 1st goal accomplished. we then hit the 2 track sitting somewhere in the top 10-15. Things were going well, and DC and Brad were near by. There were some big mud puddles to work around that made things interesting at times, but I was still able to push the pace hard and stay with the lead group. A few more miles in, guys were starting to pop on some of the early climbs. We would pick them off one by one. And then at times, a few other guys would crash and go down in the slick corners. I had to avoid several crashes in front of me. A few miles before Williamsburg Rd., a group of 5 riders containing DC, Mike and a few others were off the front with a huge acceleration. Brad and I settled into our own group with Cory Stange and Jamie Parker along a few others. Brad and I controlled the pace, and worked to take pulls for the rest of the race. We were ticking like a Swiss watch! It was perfect. It also gave us a chance to talk and encourage each other along the way. When we got to Williamsburg Rd., Brad was on the front and signaled that he was going to make a dig, He accelerated up the next few climbs and I followed. Then when we hit the flat section, I came around and took a really hard pull. This shattered everyone that was with us expect for Jamie, and a small group of riders was just ahead of us. Jamie made a move to get around us and try to bridge the gap to the next group. Shortly after a rider in a casual green t-shirt came from behind and around us. Not realizing it was Ty Schmidt, we let him go. This is probably the only mistake we made all day.

We continued to lay down the hardest pace we could and finally caught the group that was dangling in front of us. It made the pace even faster. This group contained 2 Hagerty racers, and not knowing if one of them was Ty, Brad had to be aggressive and begin throwing in attacks. I stayed near the back and was ready to help cover any moves if needed. I was on my limit as the biggest climbs of the race were upon us. With about 2 K to go. One of the Hagerty guys made a move. I jumped to chase him down, and yelled at Brad "You gotta go!" He jumped and came up behind me and onto the Hagerty riders wheel. We were all back together again. Through the tunnel near the finish line, and back out to the final slick section on single track, I was completely spent! Knowing we had a huge gap, no one for me to chase down in my age group, I was content to roll across the line knowing I did everything I could to try to get my 1st ICEMAN win...

We rode well. In fact it may have been the best performance both of us has ever had. I gave Brad a hug and thanked him for his help! We both thought we had done enough. Hell we were right behind DC, and Wissink at the end. How could that not be enough? And we realized we just finished in the top 10 of wave one! It had to be enough. Then we found out the the guy in the green t-shirt was Ty. So it was a bitter sweet celebration for Brad and I knowing we let him slip away. But that is racing.

Once the results were posted and sorted out, it was confirmed! I did it! I was an ICEMAN Champ! And I beat my nemesis Ross Clark by almost the same 3 min margin he be me last year. I was stoked. I finally was able to lay out a very, very hard personal goal and achieve it down to every last detail!

Thanks for everyone that has cheered me on along the way and helped offer their encouragement, advice, and support. It means a lot to me.

Special thanks to Jeff and Brad for helping me along the way to actually get to this point and pull it off! You both helped keep my head screwed on straight and stay focused since I pulled the plug in July and got back on track. So thanks again.

Finally, thanks to Macomb Bike and Mike's Mix, and Apto Cycling for all the support you have given me throughout the year. Knowing I got support like you behind me makes all this easier!

Congrats to;

DC - another ICEMAN win!
Mike Wissink - another SS ICEMAN win!
Joe Sidel - 1st ICEMAN win!
Alex Gonzales - 1st ICEMAN win or 2nd place! (still pending offical word)
Pat Russel - Best even ICEMAN Finish with 2nd!
Brad Lako - first ever ICEMAN podium with 2nd! But it was much more than just a 2nd. It was the icing on a great season. And the spark to go after Ty for the win next year!

Congrats to everyone else for other podiums, personal, best or just finishing. there are so many I want to call out, but you will get a personal congrats the next time I see you!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fine Tuning at Hallowcross - Sarnia

Decided to stick close to home, and do some fun local grassroots racing this weekend. And I sure am glad I did. Hallowcross Sarnia, has been going on for about 4 years now. Very low key, very low budget, and very fun! Located 5 mins off the Blue Water Bridge, the race is located at beautiful Canatara Park right on Lake Huron. With lots of open grass, punchy natural ancient sand dune forest hills, and nature trails with steep climbs, this place has it all. Further, its great to support an event that has a vision to bring racing to an area that has absolutely none! So like I said, I sure am glad I did it, and plan to be back for sure.

For such a small event, I was surprised to see 50+ Racers. Including a few of Ontario's finest Elites, Peter Mogg and Michael Aston. With guys like this popping in to race, its a matter of time before this becomes one of Canada's must do races!

Todd Powers and I loaded the Jeep up early and headed over to scope out the venue and visit Timmy Horton's before the race. We did our warm up and I was feeling good. The cool thing about races like this is, everything is new! New country to race in, new event, new course, and most importantly, new people! We all were on the line ready to go, and we were off! Todd did a great job of pulling the hole shot! I sat in around 5th, trying to gage the other riders. Half way through the first lap, the lead group of 6 turning into 3. And Peter was slipping away. I accelerated around, and began to close the gap to Peter. I was putting time into 3rd place as well. Finally I was feeling good and able to put out a good effort lap after lap. Peter continued to pull away a few seconds on me lap after lap until he was finally out of reach. With 1 lap to go, Michael was able to claw his way back to my wheel. Michael made a move to go around me, and I was good with it. It gave me a chance to gage his effort, and try to come up with a tactic. He was trying to accelerate to shake me, but could'nt. Up the to the steepest and highest point of the race, he still could not shake me. I sat in, but the pace remained high. Now on the back side of the lap, all that was left was a flat flowing section through the trees. A small dune hill with a few tricking loose sandy sections, a beach sand run around a tree, a small wood roller section. And finally, a short paved section with a right hand turn back into the grass to the finish. I knew the sections coming were going to be technical enough that the leader going in to them would have the best chance coming across the line first. As soon as the course tape opened up, I made my move with 1/4 lap left. I buried it and did not look back. I could tell it was hurting Michael, but I could not shake him completely. Through all the tricky sections and into the final grass straight I opened up my sprint with about a bike length lead. Then suddenly, I realized that the barriers that had been placed about 15 ft after the finish line were still in place (starting line was only used to begin the race and not the same area as the finish)! I pushed on but slightly eased up and braked as hard as I could when I hit the line so I would not crash into them. This allowed Michael to come along side me at the line and he did the same. We both skidded side ways and missed crashing into the barrier by about 4 ft! CRAZY!!!! The officials said they could not determine who took it by looking at the video or photo, and since the barriers were still in place which cause the finish not to be clean, decided to call it a tie for 2nd.

What a fun day! Congrats to TP battling the rest of the field and pulling out 4th place!

Iceman next!

Monday, October 21, 2013

That didn't go so well...

Its hard to believe we are basically halfway through the local CX season. It feels like its just started. Maybe it has something to do with mixed bag of results I have had thus far. So going into Mad Anthony, I was hoping to start firing on all cylinders again. When I got up, I was feeling good and as I left my driveway, it started pissing rain. This was going to be fun I thought, and was hoping to pick up a better place than 4th. So leading up to the race, I was excited to be racing at Historic Fort Wayne again, and was looking forward to Tailwind putting a twist on some improved course design. Plus, how many people can say that they race cyclocross in an mid 1800's decommissioned US Army fort, which is also a National Historic land mark! Very cool!

I got a good warm up in checked out all the new twist and turns, and was ready to go. I was disappointed that there was no paved sections at all... This was going to make it tough, and with the mud, oh yeah, we hard our work cutout for us. From the time the whistle blew, my race was a total disaster. I could not clip in - again! And was swarmed by everyone in Master 35, and 45+. I found my self chasing everyone on a clogged up course. About halfway through I was able to work up somewhere between 5th or 6th. And in a easy, but slick corner, I found myself on the ground. 1,2,3, riders went by me one by one. I lost everything I gain. I tired to surge again. Slowly pulling back one at a time. Then I went down again! It was still the first lap, and I was near the end of field for every class. I put my nose down and tried to grind my way back. The legs were not responded like they should have. I was able to pull past Pete T, Andy F, and a few others. And was within yards of Brian W, and Wade B. And then with 2 laps ago, my legs did not want anything more to do with the effort, and like someone let the air out of my tires, I started going backward. I finished, but finished dead last.

Moving on...

Congrats to Ray Auger on the Win! That was awesome, and you are riding well!

Thanks to Beat the Train Andy for doing everything it takes to get the right people involved to not only make this race keep happening, but making it better!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Michigan Mud?

It wasn't epic, but it was mud! And it was fun to play in for sure. For many geological reasons, Michigan soaks up rain like a sponge. So it seems that most of our cross races are typically on the dry side, even with it rains. But be got a treat Sunday, with steady rain the night before, and more throughout the day, the ground gave up its precious soil and let us have some mud! What made it even better was we got to play in it at Lower Huron, my favorite place to race CX. And this year the venue did not disappoint!

As the course slowly began to fall apart throughout the day, it was finally time for the Elite/Masters race. I was really excited to get this one on, as I have been feeling great. Everything seems to be clicking finally, and now its time to test things out. All the usually suspects were on the line and ready to battle. The whistle blew and Boom! we were off to the first corner like jack rabbits. I had a slow start off the line but quickly jumped back up near the front. Alex was a few spots ahead, so I decided to settle in on Brian W's wheel. Andy F, Ron S, and Ben C were in the mix as well. Ben decided it was not play time, and stayed to stretch the rubber band a bit. He was riding fast and smooth. Brain, Andy and Myself latched on. Shortly into the race Don C and Patrick R caught and passed up. Recognizing the opportunity to hop on the train. Ben accelerated. We followed. it was painful already but the gaps were growing. After a lap of this. We ended up going around Dan and Pat, and they were in their own battle. I worked my way onto Ben's wheel. As we approached the steep run up, Ben tried to ride. I un-clipped and ran. As Ben made it to the top, he slipped out and I ran past. I was now leading the train. Through the loop again, Andy made his move. Brain and I chased. back up the hill. Andy tried to ride and again I ran. Same result. Now it was Brian and I. We continue to battle through the middle of the race. Near the beginning of the course, I went around him and took a dig. It seemed to work. I was alone. But not for long. With about 3 laps to go, a flying Simon Bailey came around me. I latched on and let him work. We took turns taking the lead and trying to shake each other. Soon after, Wade Burch made his way to the back end. Now there was 3 with 2 laps to go. It was a stale mate for the last 2 laps, and all the while Brad Lako was slowing inching his way across the gap. With the last section of the course to go. Simon came around to grab the front. Wade followed. I was OK with this and was ready to play it out in the end. We came into the 2nd to last corner. As I came through the pinnacle of the turn, my rear wheel slipped. Simon and Wade instantly got 5 ft on me! Ugh! By the time I hit the pavement the were out of reach. I never got to sprint it out for 2nd, but was happy with 4th on a very tough and technical day of cyclocross!

Thanks to my Mom, Bob Bruce, Shaun Welch for the pictures!

Monday, September 23, 2013


CX is in full swing! And what better way to get the fix than a double cross weekend? And what a great weekend it was. Good weather, good friends, good racing in every class, good course design both days... and the highlight of my weekend, watching my daughter compete and complete in her first ever cross race on the "big people" course at the age of 8! She gave it everything she had to complete 2 laps. Running all the hills she couldn't climb and decending like a pro on the steep sketchy down hills. Furthermore, she did it with a smile on her face for the full 30 mins! Not sure she will be bitten by the CX bug like her dad, but at least she knows she has the support and opportunity to challenge herself  in racing if she wants to, or with anything else she does in her life.

As for my results.

Day 1 - I was feeling great! Strong and rested. Had a poor start trying to clip in. And then it got a little confusing as to where all the guys in my class were as the Elites and Masters were all mixed up off the line. I started picking off as my people as possible working my way around anyone I could. Finally, I made contact with Andy Fedewa and we seemed to be evenly matched on the day. We took turns trying to bury each other through the sections we were good at. Toward the end of the race, we had Simon Bailey in our sites, but Todd Greene was getting closer as well. With 2 laps to go, we were now putting distance into Todd again, and suddenly caught Simon coming out of the pit for a bike change. We all finished the lap wheel to wheel. On the last lap, I decided to drill it through the start/finish area one more time to test them both. Andy dropped off the pace. Simon was still in tow. Halfway through the lap, Simon decided to go around. I was fine with this, but knew I had to get back around and be first on the pavement for the finish. I drilled it one more time through the last flat long section before the paved climb around the last section of the course. I held it to the end and sprinted to the line just in front of him for 4th on the day.

Day 2 - Much better start, and a little more relaxed as the lead group of master all settled in with each other. This wouldn't last for long as the pace accelerated as soon as Don Cameron joined the group and everyone knew they had to grab on his wheel, so everyone went. Alex, Brian, Andy, Brad, Simon We were all there. Simon Crashed into the barriers and fell of. Going into the 3 lap, the lead group was whittling down quickly. I was still hanging on but on the limit for sure! Then it happened. pssssss. My rear tire went flat and I had just passed the pit. I was forced to either DNF or run. I ran to just finish. That basically ended my day. Later I found a 1 inch roofing nail embedded in my tire and poking out the side wall...UGH!!!!

Its incredible how many fast guys there are in the Masters 35+ this year. There are at least 10 guys that can win any given day! Its awesome and should be a fun and challenging year.

Congrats to all below. These were some of my favorite results of the weekend;

Brain Wachlarz  on his first Master win!
Andy Fedewa  for 2nd on Day 2 and being in the thick of it both days.
Sven Baumann for taking wins on both days in the elites
Ben Christian for his first podium in Masters.
Mike Seaman for putting the hammer down and taking a win in the Single Speed Class!
Tom Barrett for getting a win on Day 2
Alex Gonzalez for getting his first podium in a CX race!
Sarah Mcintyre on her a win in her race!
Anne Grovert for the win on Day 1!!!
Rebecca Wissman (Miss Tailwind) for jumping back into racing, and taking 2nd in Day 2.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The most wonderful time of the year...

Cyclocross is upon us! and what better way than to celebrate than with the Ithaca Grand Prix of Cyclocross! This is fast becoming one of the must do CX races in the state. And what a way to kick off the season than with this race. Its the equivalent of NASCAR starting off with the Daytona 500. This race has it all, and is one of the most beautiful and beast course layouts you can ask for. Add in the shit ton of swag Brain Hancock gather throughout the year, the grassroots feel of a laid back event, top notch competition, and the overall circus that is cyclocross, and you got everything I love about this sport.

I wish my race could have went a bit better. So I will be short as that's how my race was. It started out really good. I was on the front row, with some really big names. Really cool. The whistle blew, and we went out hard!!!!!! I have never went out this hard at a CX race. Even at all the USGP races I have done, nothing was as brutal as this. But, somehow, I found myself sitting in 4th right out of the hole shot... What the hell. I have no business being here, I thought. But I was riding on pure adrenaline at this point. So I pushed. I was beyond the redline now. But I was still hanging with the lead group at about a 1/2 lap. I knew I would not be able to keep this pace up for long. However, I decided to take a peek back to see where we were to the other racers. We had a big gap. When I saw this, I figured I better try to hang on a little longer to try and hold off the pack. Probably not a good move. I could not get into a good groove and keep my HR down. I was beginning to fade. Soon after, Simon, Roger, some dude I don't know, and Alex came up to me. Ray Auger shortly after. Simon and Roger were on a mission. Alex and Ray must have felt sorry for me and let me hang on for bit. I was still feeling strong and in the mix for a top 5. But not feeling real good. When I got the "6 laps to go" sign, I almost shit. There is no way I am going to make it. And now I could see Brad creeping up from behind. I held him off for about 2 laps, but finally he caught me. I told him I popped and had nothing left. he slowly pulled away. We headed into another lap and about 1/2 way through my front tired rolled off the rim, causing my bike to throw me to the ground hard in the process. At this point I was about as far away from the pit as possible. Ugh.... I walked the rest of the lap and got lapped about 4 times by the leaders in the process... Good times. But I finished!

Congrats to JB on putting together another great edition of the Ithaca GP!

Congrats to Joe Seidl for 1st in Cat 3
Jim Goerlich - for top 5 in cat 3
Todd Powers - 6th in cat 3
Brad white - for 1st in the elites, and being a really cool guy!

I can't wait to race again, so getting stoked for Waterford in 2 weeks. Hope I can build a little more fitness and speed before then. Because this year is going to be tough in the Masters 35+!

Sunday, August 25, 2013


As another USAC XC Mountain Bike Race Series season comes to a close, I have been eager to start looking forward to some cyclocross and Iceman. But there was one more XC mountain bike race to go, and its one I always liked. And after a less than stellar 1st half, I was looking forward to yet again gage my progress after a host of changes I have made to get back on track. I never thought (at least not this year) that it would finish the way it did.

Stony Creek XC End of the Summer Classic. This race has traditionally been the end of the Tailwind USAC XC series in Michigan. I have had a love hate relationship with Stony, but this race has always been a good one for me to race. With a good mix of single track and 2 track, its not only fun, but very fast. In addition, things have finally been rolling well and I been feeling more like myself ever time I get on the bike. So with one more MTB race before I jump into CX, I was ready to lay it all out one last time.

I took my place in line and looked around. Several old faces, and a few new. Brad decided to move up to Elite after clinching the State Championship at Brighton, so I think we all felt there was one more win up for grabs, and anyone could take it home! The whistle blew and it was game on. Andy Fedewa took the hole shot and jumped right into action setting a very fast but manageable pace followed by Jon Dub-9, Stephan Ziermann, Todd Freidinger, and myself. We stuck with each other like glue on the first lap and came through for lap #2. Sensing the pace was slowing a bit as everyone else let Andy pull, I decided to get around up to Andy. Andy peeled off and let me take my turn. I turned up the screws a bit and pushed on. Near the end of the 2nd lap, the top 3 of 40-49 group caught us and were setting a high pace. We latched on. We made it to the end of the lap where the long loose gravel climb is with about 1 mile to go to the end of the lap. We were bunched up which slowed the climb down. Andy rocketed past up the far left side. I got pushed to the rutted wash out in the middle, and then Stephan pulled past me on my right as well. I was almost stopped in the rut! The other guys were free to fly. I stayed calm and charged up the hill. Shortly after on the 2 track that followed I made it back to the pack but was gasping. The paced slowed a bit, and I was able to recover. Thank God I thought to myself! By the time the 3rd lap was ready to start, the group was down to Andy, Stephan and myself. Andy was now on the front and destined to stay on the 40-49 group wheels. I was still a bit in the red, and Andy started to lay it down. He pulled a small gap, and Stephan  was not closing it down as he was in front me. I figured I would have to pin him back and get around Stephan on the next 2 track section. We sat like this till about 1/2 way through the roller coaster until Andy flipped over his bars and crashed to the ground. He went down hard! I called to him to make sure he was OK. He did not answer back. I then slammed on my brakes and yelled "Andy are you OK!?" He finally said "yeah I'm good go on..." I now had another gap to chase down, but now there was only one man left.

Soon after, I made it back to Stephan's wheel, but I was content to sit here and wait as long as I need and try not to and make any foolish moves. I took the time to ride smart and think about where and when I should attack. I stuck with him the entire way. He was not showing any signs of fatigue either. As the miles ticked off, this had me concerned about coming into the last loose gravel climb as it might be a point where he may be able to get a gap on me once and for all. As we approached this final climb, I rode as close to his wheel as possible. Knowing that I needed momentum as my friend, I jumped off his wheel and went to the same left side of the climb as Andy did 2 laps before. I kept it in a big gear and climbed as hard as I could. I was pulling ahead of Stephan and quickly. Knowing once I was at the top of the climb, it would be hard for him to stay with me. Not taking any chances, I shifted into the biggest gear I could handle, and TT'ed all the way to the finish. As I neared the finish, Stephan was know where around. I could not believe it. I threw my arms in the air and crossed the line in first place! For the first time in 5 years I finally got a Win in a Cat 1/Expert level USAC XC Mountain Bike Race! And it felt great!

Congrats to but not limited to;

Brad Lako again for taking the State Championship and also cracking the top 10 in his first Elite race!
Joe Seidl for taking the State Championship in the Elite/Expert Single Speed class!
Jeff Payn and Patrick Russell for battling for the State SS title all the way down to the last race!
Aryn Pongratz for getting back on the wood and taking 3rd on the last day!
Jon Dub-9 for putting together an awesome season, taking home 3rd overall in the series!
Rob Selle for finishing 3rd overall in what is probably the toughest class besides the Elites (Expert 40-49)!
Jordan Smith for taking 2nd overall in beginner 19-29. Look forward to seeing you get stronger and faster.

FInally, thanks Mike's MIx for contiuning to fuel my training and Races. Macomb Bikes for team support, and my Mom and Dad for supporting me at all the races!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ruby 50 Miler...

Things are finally feeling right again. After a good O2S, a week of vacation in the U.P. on some of the best single track trails in the world, it was time to focus on building up the endurance miles again before CX. And it just so happened that the Ruby 50 would be taking place in my own back yard and back roads! So instead of riding for hours on back roads by myself on a Sunday afternoon, why not do it with friends? After repeatedly saying "I would never do this race, because I don't like endurance mountain bike races, and 50 miles at Rudy is a suicide mission", I found myself at the start line.

After doing the race I stand corrected! First of all, this race is still very low key, but has a great grassroots vibe, and a really cool format when you look at it. 50 miles of flat hard pack fast as hell dirt roads for 4.8 miles, and then 5.2 miles of some of the hardest most technical single track trails in the state! This is truly a race that has something for everyone, but refuses to cater to no one! The mix of great old school trails, with the fast group racing of a gravel grinder all wrapped up in a 5 lap, 10 mile loop race format truly makes this a great race to compete, to watch or just challenge yourself at completing. Think of  races like "Cone-Azalia" and "Grampian Challege" all rolled up into one! I'm glad I did it, and hope it sticks around and continues to grow.

The goals for the day were simple. Complete 50 miles. Give it a go at the front if I was feeling good. So all the racers in every class assembled for the start on the dirt road at the front of the campground. Brent Walk yelled go! and you were off and running. The pace went off like a rocket ship! And soon a sharp point formed at the front. Several of my TSB team mates were right in the mix. Instinctively anyone that could hang, began to pace line like a metronome. The pace stayed really high for the entire 1st lap. We hit the single track and it began to spread out. I found myself in a group of 4 with a small gap forming behind us. Chris Hansen, Tony Bastuk, and Scott Vermullin were all in this group. We railed through every corner and stuck together like glue. On the 2nd lap we were all together, and began the pace line again. This helped grow our gap to almost a minute to the rest of the race. Into the single track again and more of the same. At the top of  the big climb called "Lance", Scott dropped his chain. He was able to claw back on, but we soon found our group down to 3. Chris, Tony and myself pushed on. We continued to put out the same effort lap after lap. This was the fastest I ever raced for this distance, but I was surprised how well I was feeling overall. By the time the 4th lap rolled around, the beginning of fatigue was setting in as the trees seemed a lot closer, and a few bobs and dabs of the feet were becoming routine from all of us. My legs were just starting to get that special feeling of the first signs of cramps, but I still felt strong. Half way through the single track and Tony took a header in front of me. I had to brake, and Chris continued. Tony went down hard. So I stopped all together to make sure he was Ok. Chris now had a gap, and it was difficult for me to put out more power to close down. He remained within my sites and when we started to climb again, he yelled for me to catch up to help pull on the road. During this time, Tony was chasing as well. I tried to make one more push to Chris, but the legs had nothing left. About 2 miles into the last lap, Tony was able to make his way back. But we could not pull Chris back together. We worked for each other for as long as possible, and were both happy to be battling for 2nd and 3rd overall. When we made it to the first river crossing, I decided to try and ride it again thinking I could open up some room on Tony before the end of the race. I made it all the way. Tony decided to run. It was enough for me to get a gap and hold it to the end. I finished up 2nd overall and only 2 minutes behind Chris. This was good enough for 1st in my age group as well. Not a bad day in the woods just looking for some good training!

Congrats to Chris and Tony. It sure was a lot of fun, and you both worked your asses off!

Also, congrats to TSB! We had some great results, and a lot of personal Goals were met, making for a perfect tough day.

Thanks to Todd and Kevin, for pushing to get this event in our back yard again, and wiping the trail into great shape year after year!

Finally, thanks to Mike's Mix for fueling me through such grueling events like Ore to Shore and Ruby 50!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic

This season has been a struggle for me. I don't know what started it. Like many things, it probably stems from different reasons, and each compounds the other. Motivation has been lacking, and just trying to have fun with training and racing was a chore. So finally a few weeks ago, I decided to pull the plug. I regrouped and enjoyed the time off my bike. During this time, I also tried to solve a nagging injury in my hip with the help of Dan Bannink's PT experience and Ryan at Apto Cycling Studio for a proper bike fit. I can't think these guys enough for pointing me in the right direction to figure it out and get the issue corrected. Finally, I also buckled down and focused on correcting my diet.

2 weeks after, it was time for Ore to Shore (O2S). My hip was feeling better, I was back in the saddle enjoying training again, and I was already over 10 lbs lighter with a lot more energy when I needed it.

I headed up the day before with Brad Lako for what was going to be another classic road trip! We got to Marquette early to do a quick preride. During the ride I realized I was feeling the best I have felt all year. And I was feeling something else I haven't felt in a long time.... I was excited to race! Finally I was feeling like myself.

We woke up early the day of the race to make sure I got a good starting position and so we did not feel rushed before the start. I killed time chatting with several friends and  just trying to stay loose. I was able to get in the 2nd row just behind the preferred starters but in front of 750+ other 48 mile Hard Rock Racers. What a great way to start such a cool race right in the middle of downtown Ishpeming! The gun went and we were off!

Just like last year the start was fast and crazy! 2 riders went down before we even left the pavement. Nothing like 750 mountain bikers elbow to elbow exceeding speeds of 30 MPH! We finally hit the dirt roads and rode past the iron ore mine. This is the cue that you need to start making sure your getting through traffic as the first big 2 track climb is just around the corner. I was in a good spot and lit a match to push through the traffic up the climb. I was picking off riders one by one. By the time I made it to the top, I was already free to fly. I bombed down the hill and began to go into TT mode to play leap frog from group to group. I could not believe how strong I was feeling and was making up a lot of spots. As the course leveled out a bit, I was ready to open up and take advantage of my strength try chase down a few more big groups ahead. I knew if I could reach them, I could increase my chances to make a top 75 or even possibly a top 50. As I was increasing my speed and reeling back more and more riders, I began catching and passing several riders that were in the preferred starting group. This stoked my motivation even more! And just as I was getting into my groove, I looked up around the next corner, and a train was crossing the tracks about 50 yards in front of me! I could not believe it. At first I panicked not knowing what to do. Then I was angry that it happened. Then realized it was actually funny. But then the trained stopped. We thought it was backing up to let us by. But it backed up and stopped again. People were going through the cars and all kinds of cray stupid shit! By now, about 5 mins had gone by and about 500 racers had joined us. The only ones that made it through before the train were about the top 75 or so. I was so close to bridging that gap I thought! Damn it! We all decided to ride down in front of the engine and safely cross to get back into the race. This took us about .25 miles out of our way to get back on course. As soon as I was clear, I had to light a few more matches to try and make up any of the ground or positions I had lost.

I continued at a good pace and felt strong the rest of the way. I was now near the front of the 2nd group and knew I was within striking distance of hanging onto a top 100. I settled into a fast group of about 10 riders that were all willing to share the work. This really helped keep the pace and motivation high. As we rolled into the last bits of single track and last 2 miles of 2 track, I was able to lay down one more hard effort and pick off a few more riders in the process. I crossed the line at 2:53 and some change! A
bout 2 mins faster than last year's time with a 5 min train delay. This was good enough for 97th overall and 21st in my age group. So I was really happy with this. My Garmin time was 2:48. I know this time doesn't mean much, but it sure gives me some motivation to shoot for that top 50 mark in the future...

Congrats to;
Joe Seidl for 3rd in the single speed class!
Brad Lako for breaking top 50
Brian Matter for 2nd overall! and thanks for letting me hang out the day after to ride the South Trails.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

From this to this...

Lets see if the second half is any better than than the first. Time for change, focus, and commitment.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bloomer Daze XC Mountain Bike Race!

Back at Bloomer Park, so that means back to some old school twisty, technical, out of the saddle mountain bike racing. Bloomer has typically been a good place for me to race despite the terrain not catering to my strengths on the bike. So here we were again. I have not been feeling the racing and training bug as of late, so I was happy to learn that the course was going to be rerouted and shortened a bit. Anything to try and stoke the fire again.

The Class was a bit smaller than normal, but the usually suspects were there. Brad, Jon, Roger, Aryn, Todd. So it was going to a another tear each other legs off kind of race. We were called to the line and before we knew it, we were off on the grassy up hill into the woods. The pace was a little slower than usual at the start, but by the time we got to the first big steep climb, Brad was already taking his digs. Roger and Jon followed. I reacted and was only able to keep them in my sites. As I tired the push, I felt like I was pedaling squares. Todd, eventually came around and I hung onto his wheel for as long as I could. He would pull away through the tight single track, as my legs wanted nothing to do with applying power need to attack. I tired to make the time back up on the flat 2 track and grass field sections, but it was not going to happen. He dangled in front of me by about 30 seconds for almost the entire race. The good news was I was able to maintain pretty consistent lap times, so I know the endurance part is there. And I was able to come home with hardware by taking 5th place, so sniffing around the fringes of the podium sure is a lot better than not standing up there at all. So I got this to build on.

Congrats again to Brad on another win, Roger for keeping him honest and taking 2nd, and Jon rounding out the podium.

Time to decompress and get refocused for Brighton in a few weeks.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Addison Oaks XC

Well, it was bound to happen I guess. What I would call a poor race that is. From the time the word go was mumbled at the start of the Addison XC Mountain Bike race on Saturday, I just didn't have it. Legs were heavy, and if I tried to push, my body would not respond. Very frustrating, but I will move on because there are bigger races ahead.

Overall, my training plan has been going well, so at least that's what I have been thinking... And then to get a result like 6th, makes me wonder. Keep on keeping on...

But hey I had fun overall. Racing with all everyone, enjoying the sun and spending time on one of the best single track trails in MI. It really doesn't get much better than this!  And its great to see Brad Lako on such a tear this year. Another win! It's really cool to watch his season of dominance knowing all the struggles, experiments, disappointments, and successes he has had over years. All his patience and hard work is finally pay off. Keep it up bro.

Also, great job to JTP for 2nd., and the rest of the KLM boys. You guys are on a roll.

Congrats to Marc Z on another Sport SS podium! Awesome.

Time for a quick rest week and break from racing so I can regroup a bit. See you all in a few weeks.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hanson Hills XC Challenge Mountain Bike Race

If you never been on the trails at Hanson Hills, do yourself a favorite and go! These trails are fast and flowy. With a fair amount of climbing and enough technical sections to keep your fingers on the brakes! Since doing this race last year, I was looking forward to getting on that sweet single track again. So I loaded up the car and made the 3 hr trek up north to Grayling.

When I left my driveway, I had on shorts and t-shirt. It was about 67 degrees and looking to be a great day for racing. When I arrived and opened my car door, it was 43 degrees and windy! What the hell? How could there be such a difference only a few hours north? Oh well, I thought and suited up. I soon found myself on the line waiting to go off with the rest of the Elite/Expert Single Speeders. I only recognized Steven Blake, who I knew was the one I needed to mark as he was last years winner. I never seen any of the other guys. Which is always the case in a single speed race. There are always some one coming out of the wood work to spoil the day. And that is usually the case.

We got our count down and we were off! We took off onto the long 2 track flat section all spinning our single ring cranks around 130 RPMs! Steve took the hole shot and I followed. We hit the single track and the course then tilted up. We climbed hard and already were picking off several folks that started in classes ahead of us. The pace was hard, but I was comfortable. Near the end of the 1st lap, Steve, myself and one other guys I never seen before had put a huge gap into the rest of the single speed class. We began the 2nd lap and I was still in 2nd place. Then the guy behind me jumped ahead. Not a big deal. I followed and we soon caught a large group of 40-49 yr old guys. Steve was able to get around and the guy in front of me forced his way around as well. I was stuck behind a group of 5 as the trail got more technical, and I lost my place to pass. I struggled a bit to get around as the trail would not open up, and Steve and the guy chasing were growing a lead. Damn it I thought. I tried to get around a few times but got boxed out by trees. Then the guy that was tailing Steve made his move to take the lead. There was nothing I could do. I finally got around the group I was stuck in and had to work to bridge my way back up to Steve. I could no longer see the leader, and I lit a few matches trying to get back on. So now was not the time to try and attack and find the leader. We finished the 2nd lap and I was still feeling strong. Steve appeared to be struggling a bit up the long climb on the back of the ski hill at the end of the loop. I thought I need to get in front, lead the lap, and attack him on this last climb to claim 2nd place. Plan was set and I was ready to roll.

We crossed the start/finish area of the race for the 3rd and final lap. I pulled around Steve in the beginning 2 track. I lead the entire lap trying to keep the pace high, but conserving energy for the last climb. As we hit the base of the last climb, I accelerated and pushed my 1 gear for all it was worth! I could still hear Steve behind me. As we approached the summit, my legs were filled with lactate acid, Steve started to pull around and passed me. I thought I was done, there was my chance. I hit the summit, and realized that he may have put in too big of an effort himself as I was able to latch back on his wheel quickly. There was still a chance if I played my cards right. All that was left was some fast and bumpy whoop-de-doos, a 90 degree turn out of the woods and a white knuckle decent down the face of the ski hill into the finish. We made it through the whoop-de-doos, and came up to the last turn. To my surprise, Steve biffed the turn to early and started to go off the trail! He tried to correct it by cutting off the corner and getting back on the course. When this happened. I accelerated as hard as I could through the turn, and took every risk I could to use max speed down the hill. With a little luck, and not giving up I turned a given 3rd into 2nd place.

Great job Steven and thanks for another awesome battle!

Congrats to Jordan Wakely for 1st in Elites! Jason Bowne for 2nd in Expert 30-39

And Congrats
to my Team Mate Jordan for taking his first win in a Mountain Bike Race!

Thanks Mike's Mix for fueling me through another race! This stuff is awesome!