Wednesday, December 31, 2014


The year went by quick, and it was a great ride. For the first time, I think I was able to keep it all together and have a consistent season all year in Mountain Biking, Gravel Griders, and or course Cyclocross!

I even smashed my previous best hours and miles for the year with 520 hrs, and 8309 miles. During all this, I learned a lot more about training, recovery, and where my physical limits "might be". Still don't think I have completely found them. The most important thing I learned through all this, is to sit back and relax a little more. And I think it has paid off in the end. This sport really isn't that serious at our level. So its good to know that I am still having fun.

New direction for me next year. Should be another good year on tap, with new challenges. See you at the races!

Thanks to Macomb Bike and Fitness for their continued support with Team Sandbag.

Thanks Mike's Mix for their outstanding support with their world class sports drink and recovery drink mixes! Your products are the best I have ever used, and can't imagine training and racing without them.

And finally, thanks to all my family and racing friends for supporting me through all the long training hours, time away from home, at the races, and listening to my whining when things don't always go right. Especially Jeff and Brad for helping to keep me on track with a solid training plan.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Last Dance

It's a wrap. Another season in the books. It always amazes me how fast a cross season goes by when you're racing almost every weekend. And this year it went a little deeper for me than years past. So going into the last 2 races, I made sure I focused on keeping the engine revving high and not fading off too early like I have done so many times... Well I think I nailed it.

A big goal for me this year was to try and take the Series Championship for overall points in the Master 35+. I have never done this since I began racing Masters, and missed it by 1 point last year. A lot of things need to go right for this to happen. And remaining fit enough to go head to head for 4 straight months is only one of those things. Leading into the last Tailwind series race which was Saturday, I was tied for 1st overall with Simon Bailey. So my goals were simple, try and win the last race of the series and take the maximum points I could. And this is how it played out.

I headed over to Grand Rapids the day before and shacked up with the KLM boys. We arrived the next day to John Ball Park. Flat, grassy, and a very steep Euro style run up into the wooded hill. The Course was about perfect. And to make it even more interesting it already getting muddy.

I went through my usual warm up rituals and was ready to go. The field was small but there were enough of the regular guys that were just as hungry as I was for 1 last shot at a win before the end of the season. The clock counted down and it was show time. We fired off the line and into the slow muddy grass. We were locked in wheel to wheel, sliding and bumping off each other. I had an OK start, and settled in behind Tom Barrett, Andy Fedwa, Todd Greene, and Peter Monoko (Chicago rider) Tom was laying down and great pace, so I was happy just to sit in and see where things would go. After 3 laps, Tom was still leading the charge. By now Andy had slipped behind me. Todd and Peter were still in the hunt as well. Peter started making a few small mistakes and it would cost him a little each time. I decided that on the next power section I would put in a monster effort and attack to see who had the legs and possibly pop Peter and settle out the points race with Todd and Tom. I went, Todd reacted first and hopped on, and Tom followed. Peter was dislodged. It worked! But now I'm towing the other 2. Know that the effort hurt everyone, including me! I turned the screws a little more to grow the gap and try and soften the legs of Tom and Todd.

We rolled around another lap, and I decided to try the same move again. This time, I was able to get a small gap on Tom. Todd stuck like glue. We both turned the screws some more and began to trade pulls. With about 4 laps to go we had a good lead over everyone else, but I needed to find a way to get rid of Todd. This deep into the race, the steep muddy run up was killing us both. The mud on the first half was getting deeper and we were both on our limit and not willing to give each other an inch. By the time the last lap rolled around, I figured if I can't attack him and make him pop, I will need to be in front of him after the steep and sketchy downhill and try to take it in a sprint.

I pushed hard through the slow deep mud in the first half of the course going tape to tape in the turns to shut down the doors, and take away any opportunities for him to pass. My legs were screaming and now the steep run up awaited us. It was painful as hell. I was done with this hill on the 3rd lap, but knew I had to stay ahead. We coasted down the hill, and I was still ahead of him. The next part of the course was to not do anything stupid by taking risk and leaving a seam for him to squeeze by. It was all working so far. One more time through the barriers and into the power section one last time. I pedaled as hard as I could through this section to make sure he did not try and attack. I maintained the lead. Through the last twist and turns into the final straight I could hear everyone screaming. The legs were no longer feeling any pain. I got out of the saddle and started to sprint just after the apex of the last turn taking the inside line. I could see Todd's front wheel come along my rear wheel on the inside as well. I kicked again made sure I held my line and accelerated to the finish. It was enough! My 2nd CX win of the year, and my 1st overall Series Championship in Masters.

The Midwest Regional Cyclocross Championships were held the following day. My season was all or nothing on Saturday, so I decided to give it a go in the single speed class. I finished an OK 6th. But the good news was, Tailwind put on one hell of an event! Raising their bar to a whole new level.

Congrats to Simon Bailey and Todd Greene for round out the series overall podium. And special congrats to Todd for one hell of a weekend. 2nd on Saturday, taking 3rd overall in the series. 3rd in Masters 35+ for the Mid West Regional Podium and 5th in single speed on the same day!

Thanks to all the fellas that raced in Masters this year. It was incredible how fast and deep the field is and keeps getting. We truly have some the best and fastest racers in the state and the Midwest! See you all next year!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Michigan CX State Championship - Bloomer Park

Its coming down to the wire. The CX state championship has already came and went! This is a race that I look forward to every year, but is not always kind to me. And Worst yet, I often don't seem to have enough gas this late to finish it off. But in the past few years, I have been slowly figuring out the recipe to get it right on this one time shot of a day which is the CX State Championship.

This year I was hoping to show better than in past years. With some left over Iceman Fitness, the race moved up a few weeks, and at Bloomer Park - one of my favorite venues. I was confident and ready to go.

In the days leading up the race, Mother Nature was playing all kind of tricks. Rain, Snow, Cold Warm, she threw out everything. This made training difficult at best. And it was sure to leave the course a mess come race day.

And a mess it was. We don't often get muddy races for CX in Michigan and when we do its usually the splashing, and slippery time... But for Bloomer it was thick peanut butter mud. I don't mind racing in the mud, in fact I think I have a little advantage over most guys when it comes to handling my bike in the stuff. But lets face it, I'm not a little dude. So when the peanut butter mud comes out, I sink in it. So knew I was going to be difficult and was up to the task.

It was finally to go, and we were off. I got a good start and settled near 5th behind Andy who already had an enormous lead, Brian W, Simon, and Alex. I inched my way up front to avoid any crashes. By the time the 2nd lap rolled around. We pulled back Andy's lead and were in striking distance of catching him. I was feeling really good and decided, it would be a good time to test some legs and see who was ready to play. I surged and came around Brian. Within a few seconds, caught Andy and passed. Soon after, it was only Simon and myself. We had a sizable lead and just traded pulls for the next few laps. Around the 4th of 5th lap, we could see Tim Saari clawing his way back to us with Todd Greene in tow. Ugh. No matter how hard Simon or I tried to push we could not keep Tim from coming. When he finally caught us, he stood up and put in about 10 hard pedal strokes in one of the few long straights. That was it. Simon and I were fighting for 2nd place!

We battled lap after lap. I would attack in the technical sections and then he would attack in the really thick stuff. With 1 lap to go, I tried to make one last move to pop him in the start/finish straight. I came by quick and soon opened up a small gap. I knew I had to try and stay in front of him in the slow thick muddy section leading up to the barriers and into the 2nd 1/2 of the course. I knew that the first person off the slippery velodrome hill and into the final turns of the race would have the advantage. This was my goal.

As I approached the muddy chute leading up to the barriers, I pedaled my ass off! Legs were burning, as were my lungs. But I was only inching my way forward. I could hear Simon slowly closing the gap I opened up just minutes before. In a matter of 100 yards., we went over the barriers side by side. He clipped in first and now was in front. I tried to get around before the velodrome, but just could not find a clean spot through all the twist and turns or put in any more power to go by him. We both made it off the slippery hill without issues, and I tried to keep the chase close. It was not enough. I watch him ride across the line in 2nd, and I grabbed the last State podium spot for 3rd.

I had a solid smart race, and just got beat by 2 better racers on the day. I was very happy with the result, and what I have been able to accomplish so far this year.

I have to say that Simon rode what might have been one of his best CX races ever. He handle his bike in the mud and technical sections like I have never seen him do before! Great Ride!

Also, I want to congratulate Adam York and an awesome ride and winning his first Elite State Championship. You came a long way son. Very happy for you.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lower Huron CX

With Iceman out of the way, and some built up fitness, it is time to turn all my focus back to CX. Especially with only a few races left. The points series is going to be close, and I really wanted to get at least 1 CX win before the end of the season. I figured the next few races would be my best chance, so heading into Lower Huron I was confident, motivated, and ready to go all in.

Lower Huron has always been one of my favorite venues to race at. When I think of cyclocross I think of this place. It just has everything. And this year did not disappoint. A few new changes to the course and the familiar sections made for a great race!

The cold temps made for a difficult warm up. Nothing like sitting at the start line worrying about borderline hypothermia every weekend. We got the whistle and were off. I had a shity start! completely blown my pedal, and drifted back to the rear of the group. But I was able to recover and fight back as soon as we hit the grass somewhere around 6th. Tom Barrett was already on the front ripping legs off and controlling a sizable gap. Andy, Simon, Brian W, Alex, and Todd Greene followed. I dangled off the back and watched. The boys in the front were going hard! One blow after another. It was hard keep with the group, but I managed and decided to just let it play out and see what happens. The run/ride up was horrible for me. Either I was not committing or I would get botched at the top by other riders. Either way, It was costing lots of time in the 1st few laps, leaving me to chase down the lead group. I finally decided to not be the hero any more and just run the damn thing. In the end I think it made all the difference. We will come back to this.

So halfway through the race, there were signs of guys starting to fade. Andy, Simon and Alex soon fell off pace and were behind me. We were pulling back Tom as well. The around lap 4, Todd made a huge surge. He caught and passed Tom. Brain didn't react. I waited a lap, and decided where I would make my move.

Lap 5 started and Brian, Tom, and myself were within striking distance of Todd. But Todd was not showing any signs of giving up. We came back to the run/ride up. I noticed on the previous laps that although I was getting dropped by the guys riding up the hill, that I would easily catch them again on the long false flat to the bike path and then up the bike path hill. I believe that running was actually less stressful on my legs and thus could continue to lay the power through this section while others needed to recover. So I decided to put it to the test. Todd, Brian, and Tom all pedaled up. I jumped off and ran. About a 4-5 second gap formed, but I closed it down quickly and legs felt good. I followed up the bike path climb and onto the next flat fast grassy straight away and laid it down. I came by Brian and Tom, and closed the gap to Todd instantly. I decided to pedal straight through and push a few more harder gears to see if it would stick. It did! I was now in a good spot with 3 laps to go. I was feeling good and focused on putting out consistent power and riding smart. The gap continued to grow until the then. I was free and clear. My first CX win of the year.

Great racing by all the boys again. Its been close and fun every race. Im sure the next few will not be any different.

Congrats to Jeff Simpson on his first CX podium ever!

Sunday, November 9, 2014


The 2014 Iceman is one that will be remembered. Not for the fact that it was the 25th anniversary, but for the epic conditions. And it was these conditions that had me questioning the entire day.

I wanted nothing more than to win this race again. But I knew it would not be easy. My legs needed to show up. I couldn't get sick leading up to it. And a lot of things had to go right during the race. Including the conditions. So as the rain started to come down the night before and into the morning of the race, I started to doubt my chances as actually being able to win again. I felt with the slower slippery conditions, lighter guys with way more technical skills would just shoot me out the back of the group, and I would have to scrap for the last few places on the podium if I had a chance. But some how, It all worked out.

DC and I got to the start line early. We didn't bother warming up. and just sat in the car with the heat on. Finally we got the bikes out and pedaled to the tent just next to the start line. motivation was slowly dwindling. But chatting and laughing with Brad, Joe, DC, and others, some how made it all better.

Soon after the race to the starting grid happened 30 mins before the actual start. Brad, DC, and I all made it on the front row. Plan number 1 - check. We waited in the rain, and It just got colder and colder. FInally we were ready to go. The rope dropped and we were off! DC pulled the hole shot, and Brad followed. I sat about 4th wheel. Plan 2 - Check. Instantly I was blinded by the road spray from tires and grim. We made the sharp left hand turn and into the middle school fence. This is the most critical point of the race. You need to be at the front and I was! Plan 3 - Check! We hit the sandy mud, and now I really couldn't see. It was full on and I was holding my own. The we crossed the road through the ditch and onto the next critical part of the race, the first 2 track section. Then a rider just in front of me touches wheels with another rider and down he goes. I barely miss crashing myself and came to a complete stop! UGH! I watched the lead group ride away. And I was now swarmed by about 20-25 other racers. I did not panic and began to pick off guys one by one.

I used all the 2 track to power as far up as I could. It sucked at first, as I would get stacked up in the single track, and could not help but think that the lead group was slipping farther and farther away! Worse yet, I had no idea who slipped away with the lead group. I continued to lay it down as hard as I could and was feeling good. The trail was finally beginning to open up and riders were already falling away. By the time I made it to Dockery Rd. I was was making good progress. I was starting to see a large group of riders just ahead of me. Then finally realized it contained Lako and Jeff Whitbrott. This was good news! This had to been the tail end of the lead group. This helped me push a little harder and I was soon on the back. I chatted with Brad and Jeff a bit and told them to hop on. I pulled hard for several mins. and soon after, I was just us 3 chasing down the next group. We worked together up until Williamsburg road. A few younger riders caught us, and we hopped on their train. Jeff 1st, and then I followed. We hung on to the wheel and enjoyed the ride. Jeff and I were sharing the work with the other 2 guys, but they were a lot more skittish in their riding then we were. Soon after we were getting into some of the fast technical downhill just before Anita's Hill, and one of the guys fish tail in the sand next to the other and they both went down going about 20 MPH in front of me. It was bad! Jeff was in front so he got away. I had to lock up the brakes to avoid it. Some with Brian Harville who recently joined us. My first concern was that the riders were both ok. Before I took off, I made sure that both riders told me they were fine. They were, so it was go time again. I had to push hard again to try and make up as much time as possible. Brain was sticking to my wheel. When we got to Anita's Hill, Jeff was just cresting the top. I pushed hard and spun up. Brain had to dismount and run. Soon after I joined Jeff again and Brain was off the back. Jeff was happy to see me, and began our train again! On the Icebreaker, Jeff got unhitched, but now I had Joe Seidl in site. Joe had a stellar race. I was also able to join Don Hackney. This was good company and by now knew I was somewhere in or near the lead group. My legs were still strong and feeling good. I pushed through the slimy single track and into the final KM's. I knew I had another good ride, but boy was it one of the hardest and nastiest racers I had ever done.

After some waiting for the next few waves, it was finally clear, I had just won my 2nd Iceman! I actually couldn't believe it! I knew I had good fitness for the day, but I really thought the conditions would be the equalizer. In the end I proved to myself that I can still win a race like this even if it doesn't favor my all of my abilities.

No its back to the regularly scheduled program... See you at Lower Huron CX!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Exit Stage - West

While everyone else in the Michigan Scene is racing in Ohio at the UCI, I decided to stay home and focus more on what is going on next weekend. So in order to do that, what better way to get that last hard race effort before the big show - than do a CX race?

It's been a few years since I have done a kisscross race, so it was the perfect time to make the journey over to the West side, and enjoy some low key grassroots racing at it's best.

The race was at Cascade Park just outside of Grand Rapids. This place was the perfect place to race CX. Rolling hills, woods, sand pits, Pavement, and endless acres of nice grass! I fell in love with the place as soon as I pulled in the drive way. The course was great too. Lots of long power sections in the grass and pavement. A nasty, rooty loose run up in the woods, followed by another grassy run up with a set of barriers. and a second set of barriers in the middle of the course. And in typical kisscross fashion, a small log to bunny hop. All this made for a very hard and fast race, as you had to stay on the gas the entire time, and dismount 3 times per lap! So we got on and off the bike 36 times!!!!

The race went well, and I got out of it exactly what I wanted. I felt awesome, and was able to attack and create gaps when needed, and recover. I stayed on the sharp end of the race for the entire time. I started about 4th place and Soon Shawn Davison and Steve Bartzen Had almost a 20 second gap after the 1st lap. Earl Hillaker and myself began to chase. I soon after made a move to get around Earl and finally rode him off my wheel. Then I was able to pick off Steve, Shawn was all that was left. But he just dangled out in front of me. I was never able to make contact. Near the end of the race, the double run up was slowly taking its toll. By this time Earl had found out how to ride the rooty loose wooded run up and began to eat into my gap. But I had enough at the end and was able to hang onto 2nd place.

Lap times were rock solid, and I felt like I had the extra gears today. Time to rest up a bit more, and prepare for Iceman.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Crazy Busy.... and racing

Man it's been hard to keep up. Work has been crazy busy for me resulting in lots of OT. Including weekends. Not the norm for me. But through it all, I have maintained all my hours on the bike and racing is still going well. With a pair of 4th place results (in some close hard races), I finally did well at Mad Anthony and Was in the hunt for a win in the lead group at Vets park until a hamstring Charlie Horse stopped me dead in my tracks on the run up. But I clawed back to the tailend of the lead group and just finished out of top 3.

This is all good news heading into Iceman and the next few races. I just hope that life around racing slows just a bit, so I can keep better focus.

So for now, I will just hang on for the ride...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Waterford CX Day 1 and 2

Doublecross weekend. One of the (I guess) classic venues for Cyclocross in the states. Not a typical place to race cross, but the place does have everything you need for a great race. Its been a good place for me to race over the years as well. And at least this weekend yielded better results than last year. But since the weekend was compact with racing, here is the short story.

Day 1 - It was really hot and sunny. I was excited to race, but not about the heat. And in typical fashion, I botched my hydration plan a bit. The was was fast from the start. I was in a good spot. waiting for things to sort out. 3 laps in, the pace is high. The group is still 10 strong, and my heart rate is not coming down. I'm feeling sick, and my mouth is completely dry. I start sliding back. Brian W. Finally makes a jump to break up the group but I can't react. I slip back into the somewhere around 8-10. I had to back off and recover. I still felt like crap, but was able to start working my way up. I finally reach Andy F. and Tom B. who are fighting for the last podium spot. Tom makes a dig and I cover it, but it hurt. It was enough to get rid of Andy. But Tom surges again in the last lap, and I watch him ride away. It was probably the hardest 6th place I have earned to date. A ton of lessons learned on the day...

Day 2 - It was a lot cooler. Thank God. I get a good start and settle in on the top 5 group. Brian, was driving the train containing Alex M., Simon B., Andy F., Tom B, and myself and he was making it hurt. Again after 3 laps, Brain made another huge effort that finally dislodged a group of about 8. I was just hanging on. For the next few laps, I was getting gaped at the end of each lap, and having to burn a match to get back on during the long paved start finish area.

With 3 laps to go, I finally was able to keep the pace with the group and got a slight bit of recovery. I figured If I made it this far, I might as well throw in an attack and see what happens. By this time, the lead group was down to Brain, Alex, Simon, and myself. With a half lap to go, I attached on the paved climb. Brian stuck to my wheel, about Simon and Alex yo-yo'ed a little bit. This was the sign I was looking for. The group was content to let me control the back for the rest of the lap. on the 2nd to last lap, Brain Attacked through the barriers. I knew this was my train, and had to chase him down, I went. I was closing the gap, and opening up a gap of my own on Simon and Alex. With one lap to go, Brain dangled just ahead of me. I kept trying to bring him back, but he kept the throttle on full gas. The gap kept going up to Alex and Simon as well, which gave me some relief. the last 1/3 of the lap, Brain was almost completely out of reach. I just continued to keep my pace high and focus on not making any mistake. I finished a strong 2nd, and continued to learn even more...

Congrats to Ann on her Double wins!
Congrats to Brian on his Double wins!
Congrats to Aryn Pongo-moto for taking a win in his first CX race, and to his son Ash for taking a podium in his first cx race. I hope to see you boys out there again.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Alma Grand Prix of Cyclocross - If You Build it, They Will Come

It's my favorite time of year... And what a way to start the Cyclocross season off with a new venue, and race that attracted over 200+ racers! "If you Build it, They Will Come" is all I can think about when I think about this race. My hats off to Brain Hancock for having the vision and dedication to take a piece of land that was abandoned by the city of Alma and turn it into what will probably be the biggest CX race in Michigan! It turned out the be a great event, with a great course layout and tons of great sponsor support! Just work out a few "bumps" and it will be even bigger and better next year! Thanks Brain!

Now for the show.

Looking at the pre-reg list days before the event, it was hard to believe how stacked and deep the Master 35+ field has become. The typical self doubt crept into my head. Will I be fit? Am I going to suck and be slow? Will all the other guys be faster, and have they been training harder? Longer? Better? It never ends.

I arrived at the venue very early to help out Brian with parking and some last minute set up. I was excited, but had to wait to pre-ride the course. Reports were coming in that it was bumpy. No big deal I thought. So, finally I was able to take a slow lap. Yup, Bumpy. The self doubt was creeping back in. Now I felt like I just wanted to get through the day and move onto the next race. I wasn't sure I would fair well on the course with fitness or not. So I knew once the whistle blew, I would have to give it all I had and see where I ended up.

From the line, I stayed near the front. I was happy with this and just hovered around 5th wheel. There was lots of bumping and elbows. Just like any good CX race! a few crashes and a few early attacks. Brad lako, Andy Fedawa, Alex Monte-Sano, and Simon Bailey were leading the charge in front of me. I just held my ground and waited for opportunities to move up. A few laps in the pace was still high, but I was feeling good and seemed to be handling my bike well through the rough terrain and twist and turns. Soon after some of the leaders started peeling off and slipping back. First it was Alex, then Andy. Now Brad took the bull by horns and started to turn the screws. A small gap formed but I was not concerned. It was still early. I stayed on Simon's wheel and we chased. Another 2 laps or so, and it appeared that Simon was fading. I figured this would be my chance to try and drop Simon and bridge the gap to Brad. I accelerated and Simon could not counter. I soon was on Brad's wheel and we were both away and had an ever growing gap. Brad pushed hard, and I was content with sitting in. By now the race was about 1/2 over, and we both know the winner would be one of us. Each remaining lap, I would stay close, but Brad would inch away through the bumpy stuff, and I would pull him back in the turns. We continued to work together and keep the pace as high as possible.

With 2 laps to go, I made a small dig to go around at the start/finish straight. I wanted to test him, to see if there was a sign of fatigue. There wasn't. I controlled the pace for the next lap. We entered the last lap, and I was starting to feel the affect of the first CX race of the year. But I still had power and was ready to fight. Brad Made a really hard out of the saddle attack, I went too, but could not latch onto his wheel right away. I instantly went into the red zone to catch back on. He continued to pour it on, but I was not willing to let go that easy. I was in complete pain now, but somehow managed to bring him back a little at a time. Through the final twist and turns it was still any one's game and we both knew it. with about 500 meters left, I could not accelerate anymore to bring back the last few meters I needed to get onto his wheel going into the final straight to the finish line. Brad hit the final chute first, and I tried to real him in. He finished first, and I finished just a few bike lengths behind for 2nd.

I was really happy with the result, especially being so early and only working off of base fitness. A great sign for good things to come I hope.

I was even more happy to see Brad get his first Masters CX win, and to have a front row seat to witness the entire thing! I know how hard this guy works on the bike, so its great to see you getting the result you deserve. Somehow over the years, we have ended up in these great battle or race situations that I will never forget. And this one will be added to the list for sure.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stony Creek End of Summer Classic XC

Everything for the past month has been going well as I lead up to the start of cyclocross. Dropping weight, slowly gaining power and the un-official end of the mountain bike season (at least for me) the Stony Creek End of Summer Classic XC. As of late I have been piling on the endurance miles, but this week knowing I could secure 3rd place overall in the series, and state championship. I ended up doing a mini tapper, to try and ensure I was ready to put in a good solid effort.

All the usually suspects were at the race, and the top 4 spots in the series were only separated by 10 points. I don't remember if the Expert 30-39 age group has ever been this tight. This is just more proof of how tough and evenly matched the entire class has been this year. Not to mention how deep the talent goes.

When the race started so did the blows! Mike T, Adrian C, Jon Dub-9 lead the charge with a blistering pace. Andy F, Aryn P, and Myself followed. We all stuck close for most of the 1st lap. The with about a 1/2 lap to go. Dan Sterling Came around Andy, Aryn, and Myself into the single track. At the same time, Andy appeared to let off the gas. Then the 1st gap formed. I wanted to chase, but there was no where to pass. Finally back on the 2 tack. I had to dig deep into the Vo2 zone, and catch the lead group. At the beginning of the 2nd lap, we were all back together again. But I was gassed. Content to hang on. We jumped back into the single track and the gap formed again with Mike and Adrian putting in a huge dig. We could still see them in our sights as we entered the pines. The Aryn's tire decides to flat! I couldn't believe it. The guy that I needed to have a final battle with to decide the series fair and square gets a flat?! That just sucks! I carried on. Soon after, we hit the next section on 2 track. Things were starting to break up a bit. Guys falling off pace and the leaders getting away. By now. the lead Group was Mike, Adrian, and Dan. I expected Dan to pop soon after but he hung in. I decided if I wanted a chance to creep up the leader board this would be a great chance. I surged again, and Brought Stephan along for the ride. Another huge effort helped me catch the lead group again, but I was also once again gassed as we hit the single track again. I yo-yoed a bit off the back of the group, but their was no one else behind us. Stephan made a move to get around. and I eventually slipped off the back of the leaders. I was now sitting in 5th and all alone.

At the start of the 3rd lap, the leaders had about 30 seconds on me. But to my surprise, the next group behind me containing about 5 30-39 guys and 2 40-49 guys was breathing down my neck. I was still feeling strong and did everything I stay to stay ahead of them. Finally near the end of the 3rd lap, the group finally caught me as Jimmy Coflesh lead the charge. Robbert Parrish said "Hey John". I said "Hey Robert, who else did you bring along with you?" He said, "Everyone". I said, "What about Aryn". And he said, "Yep, he's here too.".... Shit! I thought. This is still going to be a battle royal.

We marched on. Aryn made a little dig on the last hill of the 3rd lap. We entered into the final lap and it was on! Aryn lead the charge trying to shake me off his wheel through all the single track sections. Robert and Jimmy, and another 40-49 rider were the only ones that could stick in our group. Soon after, the 40-49 rider took and slight bobble, and never made it back to us. Aryn rode out of his skin. And Jimmy realized what was going on and knew he was already in the lead of the Expert 40-49 race fell to the back of us, and let Aryn and I battle it out. We pushed hard. And toward the end of the single track caught Stephan as he was try to fix his dropped chain. This was another boost for both of us and we pushed even hard. I was still feeling good and hit some more 2 track. I sensed that Aryn may be in trouble, So I decided I was going to attack on a a long 2 track climb. I stood up, and went around hard. Then Both my quads locked up! UGH! Not good. I sat back down and eased up. I guess I will have to be content and see what the final sprint will hold. Aryn jumped back on the front and lead us home. On the last big 2 track climb of the day, we both could not believe to see Mike T in front of us! He looked gassed. We both went even harder knowing that there was only one more guy ahead. I could barely hold on. We passed Mike and headed into the final stretch. My quads were cooked. We rounded the last turn, and Aryn pulled away. He took 2nd and I got 3rd. But I was really happy with this as I knew it was enough to at least lock up 3rd overall in the series, and 3rd for the state championship.

Congrats to Dan Sterling for his 1st Expert 30-39 win!
Congrats to Aryn on an incredible come back season. Aryn was the most consistent racer this year by far. It's great to see you come back to an even high level than when you left off a few years ago. Keep building! You may win it all soon.
Congrats to Jon Dub-9 for 2nd overall. Again another consistent year overall. A little bad luck, and a little sand bagging by other kept you off the top step. But you still had a great season.
And Congrats to Andy, Robert, Adrian, Stephan, and the many others that all worked hard and came to the races ready to give their best efforts. This will be a season to remember for sure.

So this is my last year racing in the Expert 30-39 age group. It has been great. Great guys all around. I have had my ups and downs, and have learned a ton about myself and racing over the years. Thanks to everyone that has been apart of it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ruby Gravel 50

Not sure if this race will be around in the future, but it sure has been fun for the past few years. And with a few new updates made to the route, its hard to find another race with so many unique features. with 8 miles for some of the fast gravel roads in Michigan, crossing a 100 yr old 100 foot tall train trestle, a paved +7 % climb, and the technical single track of Ruby Campground. The course was fast, and interesting the entire time.

The turnout was small, but there were still some fast guys looking to race hard, and give their best efforts. From the whistle, we quickly ramped up to 23 MPH down the first stretch of dirt road, we continued this pace until the first real climb. The "Ruby Wall". The pace slowed and many riders instantly started drifting back. Tony Bastuk made a quick little attack and claimed the first KOM of the day, earning himself a cold 6er of PBR!

The group formed back together, and everyone spent some time shaking the lactate acid out of their legs. By now the field was started to fragment. And then we hit the first section of Single track. My team mate, Scott Vermullen made the first move. Scott carved the trail like a hot knife through butter. I could barely hang onto his wheel and in do so, we were putting a huge gap into the group we were just in. Scotty also claimed the 2nd KOM of the day up the infamous "Lance" climb. When we finished up the single track Scotty was gassed. He said he was all done, so I pulled around him and climbed up the campground road. I gave it another surge on the dirt road and found myself with about a 1 mile gap. I pushed hard, but decided it would be best to fall back into the group. By now, the group was down to 8 rider. Tony Bastuk, Keith Regie, Robert Parrish, Chuck form BK fitness, a guy from Boston, MA, Scotty and now me.

We stayed like this for the 2 laps. And each lap played out the same way. Scotty would attacked before the single track, I would catch him at the end, and then I would get a gap on the road. But each time, I would back off and not let the gap grow as large so I could stay within the group and save more energy.

On the last lap, we played the same script. But this time I was thinking of a few strategies. 1, If I get the gap again, do I try and solo for 10 miles? 2, back off and stay with in the group and try to battle everyone in the last 2 miles of single track? 3, if I get the gap with one other rider, do we both try to work together and stay away to the end? As I come out of the single track and crest the campground road climb one last time, I sit up and access where I am. I have the gap, and a few more seconds, I see Keith... Strategy 3 pops into my head! I know Keith is a strong Gravel racer, and has years of racing experience. Also, he has had a great day in the saddle so far. I ask Keith right away, "do you want to go and try and break the group?" He says, "Sure!" And we were off.

We both went hard holding each others wheel, sharing pulls and making each other work. About 10 mins into this last 2 man TT, Keith looks back and access the damage, he then says, "we got it!" And we turned the screws a bit more. With about 4 miles to go, Keith spots Tony making a move to come across the gap. Tony is slowly closing in, but can not make it to us before the last single track section. Knowing I was able to clean the single track faster than everyone but Scott, I made one last surge to get around Keith and be the first into the single track. Keith stayed very close until we reached the top of Lance for the last time. Then I was able to put a little bit of daylight between us. I finished the race just trying to stay on top of my bike, and took home the Overall win and 30-39 age group win on the day!

Thanks to Brent and Fun Promotions for putting this race on again.

Thanks to my Mom and Dad for the great pictures and support.

Thanks to my team mates, Team Sandbag - Todd, Scott, Kevin, and Aaron for helping out with the event to get it ready and all having great races on the day!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Glacial Hills of Bellaire

What a Great Weekend!

Tailwind pulled out all the stops to come up with a world class event and the hit it out of the park. The Glacial Hills of Bellaire XC race was awesome! In its first year, this race already has the makings to become something really big. With some of the best trails I have ever ridden in the USA!!! A great welcoming small northern Michigan town to host the event, a downtown start, and one of the best micro breweries in the world as a sponsor, which is Short's Brewery, I had a permanent smile on my face for the entire weekend.

To make it even better, I was able to spend this time with great friends. Many laughs were had, and a few too many drinks where consumed, but it just added to the memories of a great time. I can't wait to do this race next year.

As for the race its self, Well, I had one hell of a hang over... Not typically something I do before a race, but it happens.. So I was not expecting much, but I was still going to push as hard as I could and see if I would have a good day or a bad day.

The first 2 miles was a long steady climb up a paved road to the single track. This would have been great for me any other time, but my head started pounding and I pushed to stay near the front. Half way up the hill a buzz of wheels and instantly 10 riders go down. It was nasty, but I was able to avoid it. we neared the trail head, and then the attacks started. 2 M-22 local guys hit the trail and never looked back. Dub-9 chased. I was stuck behind Dan Sterling and the rest of the pack followed. Dan soon started to slow down, so I was able to finally find a spot to pass. When I did I started to open up a gap. The trail is a perfect blend of speed and flow. Its almost 90% bench cut into the hills and is like a fine sculpture more than a single track trail. I was starting to get into a groove and push my limits. All while gain a little more time around each turn. Then I came around a blind corner on a steep down hill, and did not see the 90 degree right hand turn coming! UGH! I blew through the turn and found myself about 20 feet into the woods. I stopped and saw my entire class pass me by! Damn it! I ran my bike back to the trail and started to chase. By now they had already gained 20 seconds on me. I pushed hard and soon caught the tail end of the group. I knew it was going to be hard to pass because the trial was so fast. But I began to pick of guys one by one.

By the start of the 2nd lap, I had finally worked my way up to Aryn and Robert Parrish. We made some hard attacks and finally were able to drop the rest of the group. We all thought that we were racing for 4-6th at this point, so we all pushed hard, and took digs at each other to see who was fading. None of us budged.

With about 2 miles to go, a few riders from the 40-49 group caught us. When they started to go around, Aryn made a move to jump on. I was able to latch on as was Robert. Aryn was turning the screws and it was hurting. Now my hangover was reminding me that it was still present as my quads began to slowing cramp. Aryn Pushed until we hit the paved road back down to the finish. He opened up a quick 500 meter gap, and was pedaling as hard as he could to get away. I chased, and soon was able to catch him. I never pedaled so hard down hill that my legs hurt as bad as they did.

We hit the grass before the finish and back into the woods a bit. Aryn was continuing to turn the screws. I was at my max. And legs were cramping worse. I made one more push to try and catch, and began to close the gap once more. But it was not enough. Aryn took 5th by 1 second. I ended up 6th.

I was happy with how I felt considering, I back to rebuilding my endurance for CX, I took a long break 2 weeks ago, and I was hung over. So with 2 more MTB races to go, I hope to build up to some better results.

Congrats to Aryn and Robert. This was one of the best battles I have ever had in a race. And you guys rode smart and aggressive. See you at Stony!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Midland City Forest XC

Nothing special to report. Its that time a year again for me. If you want to see how my race went at Midland, read my Brighton XC post from the same time last year, and you will get the gist of how it went. See you in a few weeks.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Another Great One to Remember - Boomer XC 2014

I have said it to a few folks already, but this is by far the overall fastest, deepest, and evenly stacked group of guys I have raced with in the Expert 30-39 in the few years I have raced in this class. And Bloomer XC was another example of how tight the racing has been.

Right from the whistle, the blows started. Andy F, and Mike T, went off the front like rockets. A group of Aryn, Jon-Dub9, Robert P, Stephan Z, and a few other began the chase! I was already in the red zone, and felt like I was fighting my bike to hang onto the group. By the time the 2nd lap started, We had caught Andy, and were down to a select group containing Aryn, Stephan, Andy and Myself. We had a good gap to the remaining folks in the class. Knowing the Mike T was just ahead of us, and the podium was not going to be 6 deep, the attacks started. Aryn lit the fuse on the first few, then Stephan. Both would carve the single track like a butcher, and slowly begin to distance themselves from me. I was able to bridge the gap each time in the flats. This continue lap after lap. By the end of the 3rd lap, Stephan was able to get a gap in the confusion of a crash. Aryn and I gave chase and this was enough to ride Andy off our wheels. At the start of the 4th lap, we knew we had at least 2 in front of us to chase down and we could see them both.

At the start finish, I surged up the small grassy climb and into the single track. I was ready to light a few matches and see what happen. I soon realized that I forced a gap on Aryn. I continued to try and chase down the leaders but could not tell if I was gaining. I was still making sure that the gap I formed from Aryn was sticking. I would punch the hills, mange the bike through the single track and bury myself on the flats. This worked. In the end, I never made it back to 1st or 2nd, but I was able to round out the podium for 3rd.

What a hard race. We all stuck together, tested each others strengths and weakness, and never gave up. This is the way racing should be, a

nd I can't wait until the next round.

Congrats to Mike, Stephan, Aryn, and Andy for well earned podium spots in a very tough race.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Comfort Zone - LBJ 100

This past weekend I pushed myself into uncomfortable territory. I did my first every 100 mile mountain bike race at the Lumberjack 100. And for extra punishment, I did it on my single speed.

Since I been racing, long endurance races have been my Achilles heal. I have toyed around with the idea of doing this race in the past, but for most of the past few years, I never really thought I would be able to complete it. But with this year being the 10th anniversary of the race, the course running backwards, 90 % of the course being single track, 9,000 ft of climbing overall, super cool t-shirts and pint glasses I just had to have, I felt there was no better time than this year to do it.

Brad Lako, Joe Sidel and I jumped in the Jeep and head up to Manistee for the long weekend of good times and memories. We got the cabin and it was pissing rain. This was a good thing, and the course would be in stellar shape the next day. We did our pre-ride, had a few beers and chilled until the next morning.

5 AM came quick! But with the pre-race jitters, we were up and at'em. The start was cool, crisp and damp. Just about perfect racing temps. We kitted up and marched to the paved start line. At the start, we rolled down the road and good clip. I soon got shelled out the back, because I could not spin fast enough to keep up. This would be my big mistake of the race. I soon found myself behind about 200 people in the single track on a 5+ mile conga line up the first big climbs. This was not good especially being on the single speed. I had to track stand my way up the hills and very slow speeds. Once the traffic started to thin, I was finally able to move along and settle into my pace.

This was the first time I had been on the outer trails of Big M and I have to say they were amazing! Some of the best trail riding I have even done in Michigan. This was a key factor of my race, and the constant awesome views of the forest, and fast flowing trail kept me stimulated for the entire race.

At the end of the first lap, I was feeling really good. I took a quick break and was off. I was not happy with my lap time, but there was not much I could do with all the beginning traffic. But now the course was wide open, and I went at the rest of the race a little harder. I was now steadily picking off riders one by one. I kept getting behind geared riders almost every climb. This would slow me a bit, but would get around when I could. I was still feeling good and keeping to my pace. The flat 2 track sections were really hard for me, as I would spin out and lose my time that I was gaining. But I was here to finish and not win, so I just managed my efforts and used it as a opportunity to rest my hands and eat solid food.

At the half way point of the 2nd lap, I was surprised to see Joe Sidel at the aid station. He said "hey John", I looked up and almost took out a tree. I stopped and asked what happened? he then told me about his brake issue taking him out of the hunt, and then about him helping his team make Mike F. fix his chain and some other guys chain as well. He said he was about to DNF, but then decided he would just finish it out with me. Joe Deserves the karma award for the weekend for sure.

Joe and I were now together and discussed everything under the sun! But we kept and good pace for the rest of the lap. At the start of the 3rd lap, we slammed a coke, took on some more bottles, and pushed ahead. Joe helped me to keep pushing the pace. We continued to pick off more riders. The entire time I was surprised at how well my legs felt especially on every climb. Soon into the last lap, we hit the 1st 2 track section. We were in a small group of riders, and were trying to sit into to draft the geared guys as much as possible. Then I saw the guy in front of me kick up a small down tree with branches and all. I came right at me like a missile, and got lodged between my chain stay and spokes. It completely locked up my wheel and I came to instant stop. It took me at least 5 mins to pull it out of my frame! Ugh! Nothing was broken thank God, and Joe came back to stick with me. We pushed together through the rest of the lap. Joe pulled away at the end to bring back one single speeder that was dangling in front of us. But I just stayed in my zone and pushed as hard as I could to the end. I came across the line at 8:31. I was a half hour off my my goal time, but I finished and I didn't cramp! In the end, I had a lot to be happy about for the day. I finished something that was way out of my comfort zone, and I got to hang out with great friends at one of the best events in the state!

Congrats on Brad on his top 10 SS class and top 30 overall result!
Thanks again to Joe for coaching me through the race.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Addison Oaks XC

After figuring out my seat post has been slipping on my race bike, and getting back into a consistent training routine, things felt like they were finally clicking on the bike again.

The race at Addison Oaks last week went much better for me that the previous 2 Tailwind races. It started out very fast as usual, and a group of 10 or more of us stuck wheel to wheel for the entire first lap. Then Mitch for Twin Six clipped a bar going full tilt early in the 2nd lap. He wedged between 2 trees, and clogged up the course. The let the 4 guys in front of him get away. Jessy Gould and I finally made it through first and lit a match to try and catch back on. Half way through the lap we caught Stephan Z. We worked together and finally were able to see the lead group just ahead. By now, we had dropped the remaining guys in our class. I hit the grass for the 3rd lap and did not look back. Soon I was away from Jessy and Stephan, and was closing in on the leaders. But in the process, Mike T. made a move that broke up the group ahead containing Andy F, and Jon Dub-9. This must had caused the gap to grow again, because I could see them from time to time but never pulled back the final seconds in the last lap. However, the legs felt good and had plenty of punch until the very end.

Great racing by everyone in the class. It great to finally line up with 20+ equally fast guys week after week.

Next stop Lumberjack 100... This is going to be interesting.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stony Marathon XC

Here we are again. the Stony Creek Marathon. The race that more people either misjudge, or over estimate each year than any other race in the state of Michigan. Including me. This year was no different. I have often heard for many very strong elite and expert racers over the years that this race is harder than Lumberjack. So I guess I will get my chance to find that out in a few weeks.

As for this Stony chapter, some mistakes, bad luck, life, and general piss poor frame of mind heading into the race, resulted in a DNF. After 40 miles, of feeling like my knee caps were going to blow out my legs, and not having much fun. I decided to just pull the plug and live to fight another day.

So back at it. Topping off fitness, and getting back on my routine. See you all in a few weeks.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Yankee Springs TT

This is the 25th year that the Yankee Springs TT has taken place. But this years event didn't end up as the season opener as it usually does. With all the snow and cold temps in early April, the date got pushed back to May. But in the end, the race happened and as usual, the fast flowing single track of Yankee Springs did not disappoint! This is one of the best overall trails in the state in my opinion, and even if I only come here to dabble in the only single speed race I will do for the year, it's always worth it. And just like the past 5 or so years, I was slow, but I wasn't fast either.

My race started off good. Felt fast and strong. Picking off geared and single speed racers one by one. Half way through Scott Simpson joined me. He was racing the geared class, but I knew this was a wheel I needed to grab. Scott can carve single track like a hot knife through butter. I was able to stay with Scott for the majority of race, and we traded pulls. Ultimately he pulled away at the very end, and by this time, a few other single speeders passed me, so I knew I was off the podium.

In the end, I was feeling really good. The way I was expecting. But obviously, several things stacked up not in my favor and produced a mediocre result. I won't bore you with all the excuses why. I took home 7th place in one of the fastest overall class of the days. So I can build upon that.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Island Lake Rec. Area XC

Finally some great weather for racing, and on a great trail Island Lake is an XC racers delight. Fast and flowy. Something for all levels. Which is why it has been a great addition to the the Tailwind USAC XC MTB Series. This is the 2nd year for this race, and the registration broke 400! Congrats to Tailwind on a job well done. This is not only great news for Tailwind, but great news for the sport of Mountain Biking in the state of Michigan. Hopefully its on the up swing again.

As for the race, not sure if this place is becoming my new Stony Creek, but needless to say, luck was not on my side. Inconsistent training leading up to race day left me in a little funk so I just didn't have the normal mojo going.

The field was deep again. And a lot of fast guys. We all took off like being shot out a cannon. I missed my pedal and floundered around trying to clip in until I ended up in about 8th place. But I was OK with this as it was the same situation as PLRA XC. The pace was high and the lead pack of 7 stayed wheel to wheel. I was feeling OK but not great. I felt the pace was manageable, but know someone was going to test the waters soon. I was still on the tail end, and was looking for opportunities to start working toward the front 3. Then through a long false flat section, around a downed tree, I some how dropped my chain and ended up with my nut smashed on my top tube. That was it, as I dragged my bike back onto the trail, the lead group was gone! I finally got the chain back on and began to chase. I pushed hard, but felt real sloppy. I slowly pick up 2 guys that were from the lead group. This gave me confidence, but I still had know ideal how many more were left, or how far ahead they were. On the beginning of the 2nd lap, I caught Dan Sterling. He was cooked. I asked him how far the others were. He told me about 1 min. and that there were 5! UGH! my confidence was going the other way now. And I was also feeling like I just didn't have the punch needed to pull back the leaders. I still marched on and figured maybe luck would come back on my side.

Half way through the lap, the 40+ guys began to catch me. This was really not a good sign. Then Jimmie Colflesh and Jeff Payn caught me. I stayed with these guys figuring this was the last train I could ride to try and catch the others in my group. With about 3 miles or so left, Ben Christian caught me. I knew it was over. This was the final nail. I wasted too much time and energy trying to play catch up and today was not going to be my day. 7th.

Huge congrats to Aryn Pongratzs for take the 3rd step. And Dub-9 for another 2nd!

Jeff Payn for 3rd in the fast old man's group.

DC for landing on the podium in elites.

Yankee Springs next...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pontiac Lake XC

Well another season has officially begun. And to me there is no better place for early spring mountain bike racing that Pontiac lake. With lots of hills, rocks, roots and great overall flow, it remains one of my favorite places to not only race, but ride a bike in general.

This year's race was packed with a lot of racers! Which is great to see. And with another season, there are always new faces in the expert 30-39 class. This year was no different. But not only were the the folks I don't know, but a lot of fast folks that moved up from the younger age group. So I figured I would have my work cut out for me, and was just hoping that all the work I been putting into training would pay off and at least keep me competitive.

As we lined up, it was a little confusing, not to mention that the class was 20 racers strong! So I ended up in a 2nd row start. When we took off, I got flushed to around 8th place and just sat there to see what would happen. As we rolled through the woods, the pace was not blistering and a group of 10 or more stuck together. I would move up as some made mistakes, or fell off the pace. By about 8 miles, I was sitting in around top 5 and looking to bridge the gap to the top 3 guys, Dub-9, Dan Sterling, and Jody Cagle. As I crested the top of a climb and stood up to accelerate around a group of guys, I had to take a less optimal line and caught a root with my pedal. This completely threw me over the handle bars and onto the ground! UGH! I could see the top 5 group slip away through the woods. But now full of adrenaline, I lit a match.

I pushed hard to find the front of the group again. and within 2 miles, and the beginning of the 2nd lap. I found myself in a battle for top 3 with Dub-9 and Roger Anthony.

Dub pushed the pace, and I sat in. We stayed wheel to wheel with Roger in tow. We had 2 other riders with us from the 40-49 age group as well. Later in the race, Dub tried to make a pass around the older rider, and was forced off into woods, but he was able to work his way back. Into the final few meters of the race. We were all jockeying for position. Bumping and grinding know one was willing to give an inch. I managed to push forward enough to get my wheel out first and into the last corner to take the best line. I made one last acceleration to the line, and found myself first across. An early season unexpected win... I will take it!

Great job to Dub-9 and Roger for the tape to tape battle. I'm sure this will not be the last. And congrats to all the other guys in the class. It's been a long time since I have been in a race with that many guys riding together that deep into a race. And that's the way it should be.

My hats off to Brad Lako. Stepping up to Elite and showing he can hang with some blistering lap times. Look for a top 5 out of him soon.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lowell 50 - Classic Gravel Road Race

I can't get enough of racing on gravel roads, and the Lowell 50 is one of my favorites. It's located in some of the best rolling terrain this state has to offer. With a good mix of short steep hills. a few long grinders, and some open flat farm fields that course seems to have a little bit of everything thing for all all types of riders. Not to mention the beautiful park and backdrop of the Flat River Valley. Thanks to Jeff Z. for making this race possible.

This year mother nature decided to throw in a bit of mud, to make it a little bit more challenging. The race attendance grew, and the competition got better as well. All this made for some great racing!

I came into the race a bit tired but hungry to get back into some fast pace racing. The guys to watch were going to be Simon Bailey who put up a blistering timing at Barry-Roubaix and Adam McIntyre. And of course, there are always the unknown players as well. I got a front row start next to Adam, Simon, and Tony Baustik. We rolled out the train all the way to the historic wooden covered bridge. The pace quickened as the first few attacks came from some unknowns. We now hit the first gravel section and were coming on on one of the steepest and biggest climbs of the day. Adam made a jump and I covered as did Simon and Tony. We hit the hill at the same time. Adam and Simon Surged ahead. I was just behind with Tony. We were already blowing the field apart and I was into the red zone as well. Simon, Adam, Tom White and Tristan Greathouse were slowly slipping away from us and getting a gap. We finally crested the hill, and I had to play catch up. Tony and I were working together and soon latched back on. But before we could fully recover and get into a groove, the 2nd round of hills came. Pedal stroke by pedal stroke the gap swelled again, but they were still within site and hope. I put in my best effort, and soon found Tony was dislodged from my wheel. A few more hills and I could now see Tom and Tristan slowly coming back to me. Simon and Adam were off the front alone, but I was pinning the rest back and there was still a lot of racing left.

I continued to push and finally made contact with Tom and Tristan. We made our truce and decided to work together for the remainder of the race. All 3 of us were in different age groups, but we knew that the 3rd step of the podium for the overall and maybe more was still up for grabs. Were worked well together, and shared the load equally. By now we could not see Simon or Adam, and no one behind us as well. this gave me time to think about a strategy if I had a chance. Ton and Tristan were slightly better than I was on the hills, but the rest of the course was fair game. The problem was, there were still a lot of hills.

Since I had done the race the year before, I remembered much of the course. I knew that the after the last big climb with about 2 miles to go, it was relatively flat with only a few steep bumps. If I had a chance and was feeling good this was going to be the place. On the decent off the last hill, I was on Tristan's wheel and Tom was behind me. At the bottom of the road, we hit the nastiest muddy rutted section of the course thus far. Tristan hit a deep rut that slowed him down and threw him to the left. I managed to steer clear and stay to the right. And I knew this was my spot. I stepped on the gas! Out of the saddle and full on sprint. I was now in the upper limits of my TT pace. I took a quick peak back and saw I already had a good gap. I turned the screws just a bit more. hit the 2 small bumps with the legs already full of lactic acid. But I was still holding my gap. Finally, onto the pavement I knew I was safe and kept the pace high all the way to the line. I took the last step for 3rd in the overall 34 mile race and 1st in my age group.

Congrats to;

Simon for another blistering performance to snag another overall win!
Adam McIntyre for getting off the couch for the first time this year, and coming out just to kick my ass for a solid 2nd place overall!
To Tom and Tristan for sharing the load during the race and both taking home 1st in their age groups!
Jim Jackovatz for a solid 3rd place in his age group!
Adam York for 2nd place in the Big Kids Race!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Uleash the Kraken...

I don't have it tall anyone something they don't already know, but man this has been a really long and cold winter. But even though it seems like it will never end, somehow the Barry Roubaix came up quick and now we are finally into another season of racing! I personally can't think of a better way or race to start the cycling season off than doing this race. And this year did not disappoint! For a few moments before the race, spring decided to show its face, and set the stage for an almost perfect day of racing. Well except for the peanut butter power zapping mud that consumed most of the course. But then again, that's what this race is supposed to be about, unpredictable like the spring classic of Europe! We got a little taste of that this year for sure.

As I have been spending time trying to stay warm, between multiple hour rides outside with purple toes, and hours in the basement, I felt as if this race was like coming out of hibernation, or "unleashing the Kraken!" I was ready to do this, and ready to see what the legs were going to be able to handle. And this is how it went.

Based on my age group, we were going to be the first wave of over 2000+ racers. I felt this was going to be perfect as there would be no traffic to deal with. My plan was simple. Stay at the front at all cost, Stay with a few key fast guys if possible, don't do anything stupid. As the whistle blew, I jumped in the lead group. The pace was very slow. I chatted a bit with Alex Gonzales and Roger Bowers, and made a truce to work together for as long as possible. We turned to the first dirt section, and the pace quickened as we hit the 3 sisters hills. But still no one attacked. And the pace remained manageable. This went on for about 4 miles. Finally I decided to take a dig and went off the front. There was a group of about 30 with us at this point. I wasn't going to go for long, but just wanted to see where every one's head was. About 2 mins later, Wade Burch joined me and took a hard pull, then Roger joined as well. We fell back into the group, but now the pace was beginning to quicken. A few more miles and a few guys went off the front. A few more hills and we were all back. 3 guys still remained off the front but they were still within site. The Joe Thomas came from behind and surged to catch the group. Soon after, we hit the first of the really muddy sections! This caused a ton of confusion and slowed several of the guys down. Joe attacked and had a good gap on the other side. I surged as did Wade, Roger and few others. Through the nastiest part of the course, we had two groups off the front now. the first group was 4 riders, and I was in the 2nd with about 10 guys. We worked really well together, cycling through our pulls. This helped grow the gap a bit. And we continued to try and catch the guys in front, but they were slowly slipping away.

At about the half way point, 2 or 3 guys from the wave behind us, caught us. We were not sure who they were and decided to hop on the train. The effort got really hard at this point. We all stayed together for a few miles, until we hit the hill named the "killer". The leaders were inching there way off the front, but I was able to hang on. Well almost. When we got to the top, they gaped me. But Roger and Wade were no where around. The group I was just with was still in reach, so I buried myself to catch back on. I made contact, but as I did, I was greeted with the next big climb. This was the last time I made contact with the leaders of the group, but was able to hang with the guys that fell off the back end.

We all tried to surge forward as hard as we could. I could not see anyone from behind giving chase, so I continue to focus on trying to bring back anyone else that may have popped from the first lead group in my wave. There were a few, and we swept them up and passed them one by one. Finally, we made it to the last paved section before heading into town. But not before 1 last big climb. I was with one other guy at this point and we were both evenly matched on the climbs and flats. We headed into the town and into the chute. He took the inside line and down the hill. I tried to come around in the last second, but missed the sprint by less than a foot.

In the end I took home 3rd in my age group, and 23rd overall in the 36 mile race. I had a very hard solid effort, and felt like my training is on track. So the first race is in the books, and I can't wait to do the next one! I am completely in a different frame of mind than where I was last year, so hopefully it will all pay off for me.

Congrats to;

Steve Broglio for taking the win in the 62 mile pro race! WOW!
Mike Simonson and Adam York for taking the race down to a sprint to decide the win with Steve!

Simon Bailey for absolutely crushing everyone for 1st overall!!!!!
Mike Seaman for 3rd in Single Speed
Alex Gonzales for 5th
Ryan Katulic for 3rd
Roger Bowser for 5th
Pam Bufe for 3rd Ladies Single Speed
Jmak and Tom Clark for a CXC pair of 5th's
Jesse Gould for 2nd and almost taking a top 10 overall!

All the KLM boys, Jeff, Brad, Joe, and Todd for stepping and putting out some great efforts in the Big boy race!

And I have to apologize for my poor podium etiquette (especially to Adam York). It wont happen again. Early season mistake.