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!


BrAdLaKo said...

I so wish I could have been part of the Bro-mance!

Nice job Bro!

Michael Lohre said...

Awesome win, John! Mike's Mix is very proud to be a part of your racing and training endeavors. Way to rock!