Tuesday, October 6, 2009


With all of the racing the past couple of weeks, my motivation to drive across the state to do Pando was pretty low. I traveled down to Ohio the day before for an Antique tractor pull to spend some time with my Dad and Brother and for a couple of hooks of the sled. Antique tractor pulling is a different kind of fun as being on a 6000+ lb, 7” stroke, 300 cu in 2-cylinder tractor with the front wheels in the air and the engine lugging down to the point you can hear each cylinder fire is very cool… even if there is a 3mph speed limit!! Anyway… back to the mountain bike racing. I was pretty burnt out and wasn't looking forward to more driving, but knew that I only need to finish behind Mike to win the series. Rick Williams offered to car pool over to Pando and I accepted. Due to our schedules, we decided to get up at the crack of dawn and drive over the morning of. I was a little nervous as I have never ridden Pando and wasn’t excited about having my first race lap be my pre-ride. Lucky for me there was a large window between the Expert/Elite race and the Sport race, so I went out on course for my warm up and completed a lap. For those that haven’t experienced Pando, the race starts out riding up a ski hill. My original plan was to just sit on Mike’s wheel and see how the race played out, but when I looked back at the top of the hill I had a 5 bike lead, so I put the hammer down. Plan B was to get as far ahead as possible so that the rest of the guys can’t see me. By doing this I won’t be their carrot to chase. The plan worked well and I maintained a "steady hard" (A Robert Herriman Term) pace and just tried not to do anything stupid. Another motivation at this race was to pass my buddy Rick Doornbos who races in the 19-29 Sport class. He has been beating me up at the last couple of CX races, but I had a feeling that Pando was my kind of course. As I approached, he heard my free hub and looked back with a smile and a greeting. I debated riding his wheel but decided to push on. One thing I enjoyed about Pando was the group of people on the hill near the finish that would cheer every time someone came through for a lap, which motivated me to kick it up a notch as I climbed the hill. Finishing up my final lap, I sprinted up the hill to the finish shoot for the class win and the second fastest sport time. This win locked up the 1st place points in the Sport 35-39 class in the MMBA. It has been an amazing year for me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tufo Flexus Primus Tubular CX Tires

After experiencing CX last year on my MTB with cx tires and having a great time, I decided to step it up this year. One of the major factors on a CX bike is being able to run low tire pressure to allow for better traction and added suspension to smooth out the rough spots. The down fall of running low tire pressures with standard tires/tubes is the possibility of pinch flatting or rolling the tire off of the bead on the rim. Pinch flatting is where the tire impacts an object hard enough that the rim slams down on the the tire "pinching" the tube between the tire and the rim causing a flat. Pulling the tire off the bead is exactly what is sounds like... the tire doesn't have enough pressure to keep the tire hook into the bead of the rim and it comes off. Either scenario will force you to either DNF or run for the pit to swap wheels or bikes. Either way you are going to loose a lot of time and cost you positions in the race. The solution is to run a tubular tire which is basically a heavy duty tube with tread attached that is glued to a special style of rim. This solves the issues described above and also reduces the rotating weight, lightening the bike and increasing acceleration.

After doing some research and talking with some racers, I decided to go with the Tufo Flexus Primus tubular (http://www.tufonorthamerica.com/tires/elite.php?seriesid=51). This tire is a little more expensive than some of the other brands out there but makes up for it by being more durable and easier to mount and true. This particular tire has been completely revamped for 2009 to improve suppleness (ride quality), decrease rolling resistance (By 10%), increase durability and improve wet traction. Tufo was very responsive to my questions and easy to deal with. Once the tires arrived, I had them mounted up to my Revolution Wheelworks REV-25X wheels (http://www.revolutionwheelworks.com/REV-25X.html) and ready to go for the Waterford Double Cross weekend.

After 3 races, I am thoroughly impressed with these tires. They roll with ease and smooth out the bumps, but what they do best is corner. Each race I have pushed them further than the race before. They have instilled confidence in my abilities and have allowed me to maintain speed in critical corners. One cool feature that I have noticed is that they have an audible growl in the corners that reminds me of being on my MTB!

Friday, September 25, 2009

CX is upon us!!

Well… the season opener for CX has come and gone. It was a fun weekend of pain and reacclimation to one of the most exciting forms of bicycle racing. I have been pretty happy with my MTB performance the latter half of the year and was looking forward to seeing where I would stack up in the mix of MTB and Roadies in CX. All in all I am happy with the results. My times were competitive although not consistent and I am finishing in the top half of the field.

Saturday Race –
I lined up in the second row behind a couple fast guys and the starting sprint landed me at about 6th wheel. I held the wheel of the guy in front of me until a tight 180 about a 1/3rd of way through the lap. At that point, he parked it in the corner and my avoidance maneuver put me into the rope which somehow looped my bar and seat post. By the time my bike was free about 10+ guys went by and I had to start working my way back through the field. I drafted people as long as possible and then went by until I caught Adam Naish. We rode together for the last 2 laps or so swapping places… I was excited to have someone to race. I wanted to be in front coming into the finishing straight, so I pushed hard through the final barriers and just beat him out for the next corner. I attacked on last grass flat before the asphalt, but as we started the finishing sprint Adam rolled up next to me and won by a wheel. It was a good race but I learned some lessons and was looking forward to applying them on Sunday. Big thanks to Jeff Zimmerman for towing me around for a couple of laps!

Sunday Race –
Come Sunday morning my legs were feeling a little dead but not as bad as I thought. After warming up, I was feeling like all 8 cylinders were firing. Based on my start yesterday, I lined up in the front row and was in about the same position after the sprint. To add some excitement they changed some sections and ran others in reverse. One of the changes ran us down a sandy area that we were running up on Saturday. I decided to ride it on the first lap, which was a big mistake as I was bogged down coming out of it and allowed a group to pass me. Another lesson learned. I held a pretty good pace and stayed near the leaders until the end of the 2nd lap. As I fell off the pace I found myself on my own. The hard part about be on your own during a bike race is that you have no one to draft off of. My pace on the road sections dropped and I could tell that I was being caught by a group of guys working together. I held my own for a couple laps and then was passed by a couple guys. I grabbed a wheel and tried to recover a little. I noticed the guy ahead of me, who happened to be Chris Matthews, was running out of gas, so I went around on the second to last lap. Chris rode my wheel all the way to the final straight. Learning from yesterday’s race I took it easy until I hit the asphalt and then started my sprint. Chris was coming on strong, but I held off the attack finishing 12th of 28 guys.

Next race is this Sunday at Pando to finish up the MMBA CPS series. I need to finish one place behind the guy in third to win my class if he shows up. If I can finish well at this race, it will put the exclamation point on my MTB season winning both the Tailwind and MMBA CPS series.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Addison Oaks MMBA XC

Since finishing well at the Stony TT and Maybury MMBA events, I saw an opportunity to win my class in both the MMBA and the Tailwind series. In order to do this, I needed to race the remaining 2 races in order to have the minimum 5 races required to be considered for the year end awards. I also know that in order for me to win the series, I would have to win one of the next 2 races. Being that it has already been a long season and CX is starting soon, my motivation to race more MTB races has declined. Knowing that I need to win one race, I focused my efforts on Addison Oaks as I consider this trail to be my home court. I took a week off the bike at the end of August to try and regroup and then hit it hard. The 2 weeks before the race, I had completed 7 near race pace laps and formulated a plan of attack for the race.

With CX coming up and Kinetic Systems putting on a Clinic, which happened to be the day before Addison Oaks, I headed over to work on my skillz (Which need a lot of work!). Knowing that I didn’t want to completely wear myself out, I didn’t participate in the mock race and just focused on the clinic portion. Needless to say, I rode too hard and climbed the orange-crush (http://cowbell.cxmagazine.com/video/orange-crush-flyover) a few too many times and I was beat! The next morning I felt flat and still had to clean the bike and load all my stuff into the car… I was less than motivated to race.

Once at the race, I watched the Expert and Elite guys go by a few times, picked up my registration pack and got ready to warm up. After riding around a while I really wasn’t feeling it, but knew that once the race started I would get into my zone. Not having raced too many MMBA races, I didn’t know a lot of faces at the starting line which made me nervous. Although one face was very familiar and that was my buddy Mark Bourgeau, who I knew would love to take the win and was more than capable. I rolled to the front right at the start and I could see people shuffling for position out of the corner of my eye. We hit the first hill and I attacked to try and drop as many people as possible right at the start. Things quieted down pretty quick behind me, but I could hear someone there and didn’t want to look. About a mile or 2 in we caught a large group of guys in the single track. I debated trying to pick them off one by one, but decided that would be too risky and waited for the 2 track. I picked some of them off on a short open section helping to put a gap between myself and the rest of the field, but was starting to worry that the slower pace was allowing them to bridge back up. It seemed like forever and I was almost taken down by a mishap, but the 2 track came and I hit the gas. At this point I figured out that the guy on my tail was Mark which made me a little nervous. I debated taking turns pulling, but I was gapping him on the flats making him work to keep up. As we rolled through the start/finish, I had a small gap and pushed the first uphill to try and open things up and get some more riders between us. At this point I was feeling good and having fun… until I heard someone yell at me and when I looked it was Mark again!! It was at a point where the trails loops back, so I didn’t really know how far back he was… but I wasn’t going to hang around to find out. At the start of the third lap I looked back and didn’t see him. I proceeded to work my way through the last lap and even caught my wife in the last couple of miles. I rolled across the finish line only 50sec ahead of Mark. In the end, even though I didn’t feel 100%, I still managed to win and had the second fastest sport time. Next XC race is Pando… I need to finish no more than 1 place behind the second place guy in order to win the series. Hopefully my last sport race will be a good one!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Final Tailwind USAC Standings

The year started a little rough, but I pulled it together to finish the year strong!! Expert will be a new learning curve, but should be a fun one!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Maybury TT

After getting beat a month ago at the Stony TT, I was not sure how I would fair at Maybury. I have been a little off my game since the 12hr of Stony, but I figured that if I could pull off a win at Maybury I would still have a chance to win the MMBA CPS series in addition to the Tailwind series. I pre-rode the course on Tuesday and was feeling confident until the rain rolled in this week... especially the morning of. I preregistered, so I decided to make the drive and see how I would fair. I am not the best rider when it is wet and sloppy.

Usually in a TT they line up the preregistered racers by class and when you registered, for some reason they organized the start times by class, age and alphabetical order? This put me next to last in my class and behind 2 other age groups. The age groups weren't a big deal, but I knew I would be passing people. I rolled up to the line and was off! I knew I could catch the guy that left in front before the single track, so I hammered the first flat section and caught him by the first climb going into the single track. As I caught people, they would usually just move aside and let me by, which was very appreciated. Maybury has a lot of short climbs, so I tried to stand when ever possible to try and keep momentum. They added a lot of road and paved path sections to increase the mileage this year, so I tried to tap my inner roadie and hold a nice tempo when ever possible. Not wanting to lose by a small margin again, I stood up and sprint the section coming into the finish line. At the end of the day the effort was enough to hold on to the top spot in my age group. This is my first win of the MMBA series... next stop in this series is Addison Oaks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pontiac Lake XC - 1st Place

I look at Pontiac as “the” race of the year. Pontiac is a great race course that has a little bit of everything… great climbs, technical down hills and fast flats. It is also at a time of the year that people are peaked fitness wise and usually not yet suffering from burn out. The Sport 35-39 class has been fast this year, as usual, and all of the top players were present. Shawn Schaffert, Tony Bastuk, Mark Bourgeau and I lined the front row. When the whistle blew, it was a 4 wide, bar to bar drag race for the first 100ft or so and I have to admit that I was a little nervous, as I didn’t want to start this race with a wreck! It was going to be a long race and I wasn’t going to win it in the first ¼ mile, so I eased up and let Mark and Tony go. I think Shawn had the same thought as he eased up and jumped on my wheel. Before the hump into the main trail I noticed that Tony faded a little so I surged around him to jump on Mark’s wheel. We had one close call right at the start as there was a guy that was late for his start time that left a few seconds before us and the group caught him just before we entered the woods. I think Mark scared him, as he started veering off the trail and then jumped back in just as I was coming by. I was able to avoid him and stay upright with out losing too much time to Mark. I heard Tony compliment me on my recovery, but I was sure that it was just one of many close calls that would happen during the next 19+ miles. The group of 4 stayed together until 2 mile hill when Mark and I split a slower rider on the climb and gapped Tony and Shawn. I rode Marks wheel for a while knowing that I could go a little faster, but I liked the pace and thought that it would allow me to have more energy later in the race. Mark was starting to slow a little on the climbs at around mile 5, so I went around him and immediately tried to break his will!! Thinking I put a reasonable gap on him, I settled into a comfortable pace. On the last climb near the end of the first lap, I looked back and saw that he was only about 10 sec behind… needless to say his will was still intacted and I was a little worried at this point. Once on the flat, I tucked into an aero position and tried to gain some time. Knowing my strength was on the climbs and his was on the descents with his full suspension bike, I pushed the pace on every climb and tried to be smooth on the descents. With about a half a lap to go, I started seeing a guy behind me that I though was Mark. It ended up being a Sport Clyde that was crazy fast with a similar jersey, althought it motivated me to go faster for a few miles! Once over the last climb, I tucked down and hammered to the finish and took the win by 40s over Mark. My first lap was 43:47, which is my best lap ever at Pontiac and over 2 mins faster than my first lap last year. The second lap was 4 min faster than the second lap last year. The hard work is paying off and hopefully I can make similar gains next year to allow me to be competitive in the expert class. This race solidifies my 1st place standing in my class, so I will be entering my first expert race at Stony in a couple of weeks to see where I currently stand amongst the big boys!

I would like to thank Chris, Tony, Ron and all of the guys at Fraser Bike for their support, my wife and kids for allowing me the time to train and race, Robert for running such a great series and Cannondale for producing such an awesome bike!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

6/12hrs of Stony – 2nd Place

I was originally going to do this race as a 2-man team, but Jeremy’s move to NYC had me rethinking the race. I have been feeling pretty good and have never done a 6/12hr race solo, so I looked at this race as a way to test myself. I registered online earlier in the week and then proceeded to get sick the middle of the week!! I was feeling OK Friday evening and figured that I would still do the race. I set a couple of goals for myself… 1 - Finish at least 100 miles 2 - Not cramp 3 – Not have to hike-a-bike! I prepared 12 bottles, 2 flasks of goo, bananas, and a couple Cliff bars. With everything loaded up the night before, Nathan and I woke up early and headed to Stony. It was a little different for me at the start than a normal race as I looked at this as a race against myself. The team guys went out first and then at 8:01 the solo guys took off. I rolled out at a smooth pace and quickly noticed that my bars were not square with my bike, so I stopped about a ¼ mile out and found out it was loose… (Long story!). I tightened it up and was going again. I changed my Garmin to read HR at the top instead of speed. I tried to keep it around 150bpm, as that corresponds closely to my endurance power. The first lap or two was a challenge to not go too fast, I kept trying to take the “edge” off of the climbs. By lap four, I felt I had a good sustainable pace and my HR was where I wanted it to be. Mike and Evan came blowing by be in the roller coaster putting perspective on how slow I was really going!! By lap 7 or 8 I could see my primary goal in sight and my nutrient was working well as even though my legs had no power, I wasn’t cramping. As I finished my 10th lap, I asked where I was in the standings and they told me 3rd and on the same lap as the guy in second. I made my first goal of 100 miles and had a chance at 2nd place. As I rode to the scoring tent, the guy chuckled and said that my last 5 laps had each been quicker than the one before… interesting. I pushed on and soon had Jeff Socia on my wheel who was in first for the class. He complimented my riding which gave me a boost and we rode together for a couple of miles until we hit one of the steeper climbs and I fell back. At this point I was talking to my legs as if they were my car and I was running out of gas with a gas station coming up at the next exit. As I was finishing up my 12th lap, I saw Brent taking down markers and he said that they called the race due to a storm that was blowing in. I finished up my last lap (which was the fastest of the last 7!) with a total of 121 miles and 9,000 ft of climbing in 11hrs with out cramping or getting off the bike for a second place finish out of the 8 guys in my class! Mission accomplished… and then some!!

I would like to thanks Laura Riffe for all of her help during the race… I couldn’t have done it with out her!!

Thanks to the Cannondale/RBS/Sandbag/Soul Cycles/Signoutfitters guys for cheering, it helped to keep me going!!

A Weekend of Racing!!

Tree Farm Relay – 1st Place Advanced Co-Ed

The Tree Farmers put on a relay race every year at Lakeshore Park in Novi. It is a fun race with a Le Mans start, leis, costumes and drinking. I’ve missed it the past 2 years due to other commitments and Laurie had a team together, so I talked to my buddy Jeremy and we started to pull something together. I recruited my friends Chuck Nicholson and Marne Smiley to complete our 4-person Co-Ed relay. There were 2 classes, sport (1 lap) and advanced (2 Laps), I would have been happy only doing sport, but Marne made the call to do advanced as she is a studette. As the race date closed in, Jeremy found out that he was going to be moving NYC in short order, so he had to back out of the race. I made some calls and twisted my friend Erik Koehler’s arm to come and join the fun. Chuck and I rode the trail a few weeks before and felt pretty confident that we could produce a fast time. The week before the race, it rained for multiple days but looked like it was going to be clear for the race. The morning of was overcast, but I was confident that it would clear up. Nathan and I jumped in the car, stopped at Starbucks for our pre-race Mocha (Me) and marble loaf (Nathan), and were off to the race. As we got closer, the rain came down… and didn’t let up until after the race had started. Marne called and said she would be late, but should make her start time. We decided to do the 2 laps back to back as we felt that it would be more efficient. The race was delayed a half hour hoping the rain would stop. Erik went out first and was the first advance rider to finish the first lap as well as the second. Everyone looked very dirty as they came around and after riding the first couple of miles during my warm-up, I found it to be very slick. Prior to Erik coming in, I listened to the promoters talk about delaying the Sport race start till after the advanced riders made it through… but they changed there minds and started the Sport race on time which happened to be right as Erik finished his second lap. I was a little discouraged as I now had to work my way around a lot of slower riders. Once I made it around I tried to get into a rhythm, but was having a hard time navigating the slick corners with my Stan’s Raven on the rear. A couple advanced guys went around me on the first lap and as I started my second lap I again had to get around slower riders that went out in the second wave of sports racers. The course was starting to dry out and I was able to drop over a min off of my first lap. As I finished I saw Marne in the ride exchange area ready to go. Marne put in a solid couple of laps, but we figured out we were about 16min behind the leading team with one rider to go. Their female rider was the last to go and Chuck was set to run her down. He made up a lot of time on the first lap and I updated him with the split as he came through for the second. In the end, we came up with the win as Chuck came in minutes ahead. The coolest part of the race was being able to race with your friends in a fun atmosphere, although I could have done without the rain!! Cleaning the bike was not what I was looking forward to when I got home…

Props to my wife Laurie!! It was a slick and technical course and she hammered out an awesome lap!!

Stony TT – 2nd Place

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel after racing the day before, but the legs seemed to feel good. Nathan and I once again jumped in the car, stopped at Starbucks to get our usual and drove to the race. One of these days I will talk Nathan into actually doing a race as Nolan Osgood has been competing on the “Big Boy course” for a couple of races and having fun!! I knew that I was going to have a good race as my legs felt really well during warm up. I usually don’t do as well during TT, as I need the motivation of other racers. As we lined up I noticed Shawn Schaffert in line a couple of rows up… I knew if I could catch him, that I would do well as Shawn has been fast all year. Once lined up, I narrowed my focus and was off. I knew from past races that the 2-track at Stony was a very important part of the race. I pushed hard on the 2 track trying to keep as low as possible as there was a strong headwind on the way out. I passed a couple of guys and tried to maintain as much speed as possible on the climbs. As I closed in on the entrance to the pines, I could see Shawn’s red Cannondale jersey. I knew I wasn’t going to catch him in the single track as he is as fast as or faster than I am in the single track, it also didn’t help that I was held up a little by a couple of riders. Once on the climbs before the snake, I could seem him and closed the gap a little yelling at him that he had better pick it up!! We rode together in the Roller Coaster and I would gain a little on every climb and as we hit that last 2 track climb, I finally caught and passed him. We rode to the second creek crossing together and then Shawn dropped his chain. I hammered the final flats and came in with a time of 54.37. At the end of the day I ended up 2nd by less than 2 sec!! I gave my all and was happy with my finish. Props to Shawn for his 3rd place finish… I am sure that I helped to motivate him as much as he motivated me!!

I want to also recognize my friend Chuck Nicholson for his win at the TT!! He had a great weekend with a win on Sat and Sun!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Big 'M' XC Race - 1st

The week before this race was pretty rough (Self induced) as I rode the Birmingham ‘A’ ride on Tuesday and then did my first workout in the lab at my new threshold # on Thursday. My sleep habits were also rough as I would sit down at night and start watching the Tour and then not get to bed until late. I made an attempt at getting some sleep on Friday and then ended up not sleeping long enough on Saturday night as I planned on driving up the morning of leaving at 6:00am. Having ridden Big M while on vacation a few weeks before, I had time to think about how to attack it. The first 2 miles were pretty flat with a long climb to follow which were both non technical. I figured I would get out in front and set the tempo high enough that people would just not want to stay with me and then push up the climb and try to maximize the recovery on the back side. There were a few new faces at the line, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get to the front right away. The whistle blew and we were off! The start was less aggressive than I thought, Shawn Schaffert and I were side by side and he decided to check up to get on my wheel. I pushed the pace on the flat section averaging 17mph to the climb, but still heard a group behind me. Once up the climb, I felt I had a gap and tried to recover but the hammering at the beginning pushed my HR and it took the rest of the lap to get into a more comfortable rhythm. The second lap was uneventful as I was just trying to make clean passes and keep the bike upright on the downhills. Towards the end of the second lap, my lack of sleep was really setting in as I felt fatigued. My legs were really starting to feel it the last lap, but I managed to push hard to the end. Since I had a reasonable gap, I took it easy on the last down hill as I didn’t need to finish my race with a wreck! As I rolled across the line, I noticed Shawn hammering away only a short distance behind for second. I am dreading moving up to expert as the extra lap is going to kill… I will probably stay in sport for Pontiac as it is a 30 mile race in expert and then make Stony my first attempt at an expert race.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stony Marathon

This race was pivotal for my series points finish as people typically need a good finish at one of the two double points races and my 5th place at Brighton wasn’t going to cut it. Having home course advantage, I knew my advantage would be in the single track sections. My plan was to pass as many people as possible before hitting the pines. Since this is a Marathon race, Tailwind group some classes together to minimize the number of start waves since everyone goes out at 10:00. My wave consisted of 3 classes that encompassed the ages 19-39, which I knew would be to my advantage as I could pass a bunch of people earlier than when we leave in waves 1min apart. I also liked the fact that my friend and teammate Jeremy Clark would be leaving at the same time with the hopes of working together on the flats. I noticed as we were lining up that Dave Krenk was at this race. He showed up for Brighton and dominated the race and I knew that he would be fast. When the whistle blew Dave went out hard, leading the pack, and I was about 6th wheel. At the first climb, I pushed hard and was now 2nd wheel behind Dave. We pushed hard on the 2-track to pass the Sport/Beg SS before the pines, I passed Dave on the back 2-track climb and pulled to the pines. At this point it was me, Dave and Jeremy in tow. Once through the single track I talked to Dave about working together to get a gap on the rest of the field since we dropped Jeremy. We then worked together to maintain a fast pace on the flats until he flatted on the down hill before the start/finish. I then caught Susan Stephens and rode with her as her pace seemed very sustainable and she was fast on the flats (Giving me someone to draft off of!!) I rode with her and a couple RBS guys for a while and then Susan and I gapped them on the start of the 3rd lap. I again kept pace with Susan until she had a horrible crash in the rollercoaster trying to go between the 2 tight trees in the new section. She said she was OK, so I kept going. At this point I was all alone until I caught my buddy John Osgood at on the climb up the backside of Sheldon hill on my 4th lap. John pulled me around the back 2-track before the pines and then I was off again. My left calf was starting to cramp, so I had to alter my pedal stroke and spin up some of the hills I powered up in prior laps. I was catching quite a few beginners at this point that held me up, but also allowed me to recover. As I finished the last 2-track climb, I saw Dave Messing who was starting his 5th lap and I was just thankful that I was almost done!! I rolled across the finish with probably the biggest win of the season!!

I would like to send out a big thanks to my wife Laurie for being my support person for this race, you did an awesome job!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Back up to speed...

With my knee issue at the start of the year, I felt like i've had a hard time getting back up to speed. Now that my “new” knee pain is out of the way, my knee feels more like I remembered it did last year! Hopefully someday, I will be able to say that I can ride with no pain. I am just thankful that I am able to do everything that I am doing right now. After surgery a few years back, I didn’t think that I was going to be able to do half of what I am doing now.

Fast forward to today, I feel that I have been lucky to finish as well as I have at this point. The down side to finishing well for me is that mentally I see that I have the potential to do well in the series and in turn I expect more from myself at each race. Each race has been a new challenge and has pointed out strengths/weaknesses in my riding/training. Bloomer showed that I hadn’t been riding my MTB enough and didn’t have the confidence to ride fast in the tight stuff. Brighton confirmed the same and showed that I really need to pre-ride prior to each race. Ruby proved that giving my MTB some single track love would help with my results, not to mention that I pre-rode the week prior. I have been really happy with my fitness as this point as my lap times remain pretty consistent from lap to lap.

This Saturday’s race at Stony Creek is probably going to make or break my season as it is a double points event and needless to say I had a less than stellar performance at the first double points race at Brighton. The series takes your best finish between the 2 double points events to count as your double points race for the series and the other one will count as single points. I’ve been pushing my recovery limits since the Ruby race, rode the Stony Marathon course on Monday, Intervals on Tuesday, lots of sleep from Wednesday on, eating the right foods (which surprisingly dropped 2 lbs off!!) and will do an easy pre-ride tomorrow... all in preparation for this race. Stony is a Marathon race that is 40 miles compared to our normal sport races that are around 20mile. Last year I had major cramping halfway through the race, so I am also putting together a plan for better nutrient/hydration. All and all I feel I am back on my game and am hoping to have a couple more decent finishes in the sport class before moving up to expert.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ruby Race - 1st Place

I felt good going into this race as I pre-rode the course with Chris and Greg the weekend before and had some strong feeling rides the week of the race. This race has a long straight before the first climb that allows people to sprint longer than normal. I went out at a good clip but 2 guys were ahead of me going into the first little climb. One guy was fast, so I didn’t want to let him get away, the other guy held me up on the climb as he was spent from the sprint. I was a little frustrated as this section is tight and doesn’t allow for passing. Thankfully the first two guys didn’t take the tight tree path allowing me to pass the guy in front of me and get right on the wheel of the lead guy. We rode like this for a while until we ran into traffic and were held up, almost wrecking me! That let a couple of guys around putting me 4th wheel. I worked hard to catch back up getting derailed on both big climbs on the first part of the course causing me to hike a bike on hills that I would otherwise ride. At this point I was pretty discouraged as the guys in front of me were all good riders and I would have to almost ride a perfect race to catch them, let along pass them! As we were finishing up the back half of the course I could just start to see the 3rd place guy, knowing that he is not fast on the flats I pushed hard through the start finish line to get around him before entering the single track for the second lap. I then slowly started to reel in the second place guy… during this process we were constantly separated during passing. I asked him where Jason (The other rider) was and he said he had flatted, I then knew that this was going to be a tough battle. I finally passed him at the water crossing calling on my cyclocross experience to dismount faster than he did getting around him at the waters edge, but we still had a lap and half to go. He then rode my wheel the whole race. I tried to gap him a couple times, but he held on. I was thinking that he was going to sprint around me at the finishing straight… Lucky for me, I finally put a gap on him at the downhill switch backs, but I could still see he wasn’t that far behind. I pushed to the finish running the water as fast as I could. I tucked in an aero position and pushed on the straight waiting for the sprint, but when I looked back he wasn’t there. I rolled through with my first XC race victory!!

I want to thank the Elite/Expert guys for hanging around to cheer us on… it meant a lot!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Coming up to speed...

Pontiac Lake TT –

Not having trained much this winter due to a knee issue, I wasn’t expecting much out of this race. I used to hate Pontiac, but as my cycling skills have matured, it has become one of my favorite placed to ride. I rode 4 laps the weekend before, so I felt like I knew the course pretty well. As we went off I focused on winning the first race with the guy that went out with me… mission accomplished. Once in the single track I tried to maintain a sustainable pace that would allow me to make it to the top of 2 mile hill without being on the limiter… step 2 complete. From here to about mile 9 I just tried to get around people as quick as possible and push on the flat sections. Coming into the last climb I felt pretty good and put the hammer down knowing it was all down hill after I reached the peak. Once on the 2-track, I put it in a big gear and didn’t let up until the finish. In the end, my plan worked as I won my first sport race by 10s over second and 20s over third!! Close race!!

Fort Custer –

Feeling good after my win at Pontiac, I decided to make the trip to the Fort. Fort Custer is a fun course as it has a lot of unique single track and some wide open 2 track to hammer on. When we arrive, they told us that they were running Granny’s Garden in reverse!! Now this worried me as anyone that has ridden Granny’s Garden knows that there are some drop offs that would be a bear to get up in reverse, but the expert guys said it wasn’t an issue. As we lined up it seemed as if there were 50 people in the class. Watching the clock, instead of listening to the start, I jumped the start by a spit second, then stopped and restarted. This error caused me to be running mid pack at the start and having to pass a lot of people to get towards the front. By the time we hit Cardiac climb I was sitting about 4th wheel when a couple of people failed to make the climb and we had to dismount… this also happened at the CPR climb. Granny’s Garden proved to be tough, but there always seem to be a path to get up the drop-offs. I then found myself riding Jason Dellinger’s wheel for a while until he let me around wanting to ride my wheel, which was fine. After the water crossing I looked back and he was no longer there. At this point I thought I was leading as Jason was the last rider in our train. I then caught and rode with the leader of the Sport/Beginner SS class for a while and noticed someone from my class closing in. I tried to push the pace a little but he kept coming. He eventually passed me just before the boat launch, so I jump his wheel and held on. I noticed that he was slowing on the climbs, so I just waited for the sprint to the finish. As we rounded the last corner before the trees, I stood on it and took him on the inside for what I thought was the win. After looking at the results, I found that Mike Stoliecki went off the front early on and took the win. I felt good the whole race and love the sprint finish… reminded me of CX!! Glen Moore caught some of the finish on film… Great shots Glen!

Bloomer –

Let me first state that Bloomer is not my favorite place to ride… very tight and technical low speed corning which is not what I excel at!! Before the race, I watched a few areas of the course as the expert and elite guys raced. I had a plan for the corner before the down hill at the sled hill… More to come on that!! This time I waited for the whistle and had a good start, I noticed a guy that I had an issue with getting around last year at this race trying to get out front, so I put the hammer down and lead the pack. As I approached the sled hill I put my plan in motion… although the turning patch that I was going to use was tore up from the expert/elite race and did not exist anymore!! As I when off course trying to maintain control, my bar clipped a small pine tree causing a spectacular dismount… Once back on the bike I was third wheel. At the bottom of the hill, I found that my controls on the right side were out of position, so I rotated them back around. I worked my way through the course trying to catch Mark Bourgeau who was running 2nd. I could see him in the single track but couldn’t catch him. My knee started to bother me towards the end of the last lap, so I eased up a little and finished P3. Good finish considering the start!

Brighton Stag Race –

Torn Shirt TT –
Being that tight and twisty is not my specialty; this race always puts me at a disadvantage. Also not riding all week due to my knee issue also didn’t help. I went out 30 sec ahead of Shawn Schaffert, so I used him as a gauge of my performance... which was not good. I fumbled on a couple of the climbs and he passed me in the last couple of miles. I almost made a wrong turn out to the road, but recovered and made up some time finishing on Shawn’s wheel finishing in 5th for the stage.

Short Track Race –
Having raced CX last fall, I was looking forward to the short track race, which was basically 1 ½ miles of riding on the grass around flags for 5 laps. I grabbed a front spot as did my teammate Jeremy Clark. I had an OK start and rode the wheels of a couple of CX bikes for a half a lap and then went around them. I was right on Jeremy’s wheel running P3 until I was gapped during passing. I kept pushing and then when I was passing a couple of slower riders near the end, a rider cut into me clipping my bar. I recovered and thought I was fine, when all of the sudden my bike stopped from the rider turning into my front wheel and sending me flying. I took a second to see if I was still in one piece and then ran back and got my bike. At this point the guys behind me had caught up and I now had to push hard to not lose any positions. Shawn went around me and I was challenged at the end by Jason Dellinger who I just edged out in the sprint placing me 3rd in this stage.

Murray Lake XC
Still sore from the crash on Saturday, we had the XC race to complete to end the stage race. This is a fun course but is challenging due to the 2hr length. We again lined up and off we went and I ended up sitting 5th wheel. The front runners took off and I was held up by a couple of wrecks allowing a couple guys to get around me. After being passed a couple of times and then later by the leaders of the older age groups, I knew that this was not going to be a great race for me. I eventually picked off a guy from my class but just didn’t have enough to catch back up with the leaders. Laps were consistent and I felt good the whole race finishing 7th for the XC and 5th overall for the Stage Race. It’s looking like I have my work cut out for me this year.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Year End and CX Wrap-up

Now that the cycling season is over, I figured that I would take the time to reflect on a very fun year of racing. I met a lot of new friends and I am looking forward to hanging out and racing in 2009!!

Lake Orion HS Series
The year started out with some fun Winter/Spring races at LOHS. Steve Kinley did a great job working with the school to put on these races as fund raisers for the Athletic Department at LOHS. We raced one winter race in about 6" of snow... it was brutal, but fun!! We were almost taken out by some snowmobiles at one point! LOHS put on 3 other races in the spring and Mark Terrian (Biscuit) and I battled it out in the sport 35+ class... unfortunate for me Biscuit took the series.

Fun Promotions Endurance Series - 6/12 Hours of Addison Oaks
My friend and teammate Jeremy Clark talked me into this one. He really wanted to do it and was having a hard time finding someone to do the 6hr 2-man with him in the open sport class. I was free that weekend so I volunteered. Laurie was at my parents in Ohio, so I drug the kids to the race and they played/assisted Jan Mack with the water bottles. This race had to be one of the highlights of the year for me as I went into the race with few expectations and left with my first MTB win!!

I had every intention to concentrate on this series, but as fate would have it... it started out bad! I had been sick the first part of April and ended up with a less than stellar performance at Yankee. This was followed up by a DNF at the Fort due to a guy cutting me off during a pass that ended up with me going over the bars and breaking my glasses. This ended up being expensive since I now concluded that I needed to have contacts in order to not have this issue again. I ended up with only 4 races due to conflicts during the year, which put me out of the points chase. I finished strong with a 3rd place finish at Addison Oaks.

Tailwind USAC MTB Series
I originally wasn't going to concentrate on this series (Read above), but after a couple decent finishes I had a chance to be top 3 in the sport 35-39 class. These races are close to home making it easy to show up and race and be home the same day, not to meantion that the races are held on trails that I am familiar with. Of the 6 races I completed in this series, the 2 that stand out for me was my 3rd overall at the Brighton stage race after a horrible Torn Shirt TT and my 3rd place finish at Stony. I ended up 3rd overall in my class in this series which I was very excited about since this is my first full year racing and only my 2nd year riding.

Cycling Saddleman Hines Drive TT
I really enjoy the speed of my road bike, so I decided to try one of these Hines TT races. I signed up my tank of a road bike in the Eddie Merckx class (No Aero bike class). I had one mechanical issue all year and this just happened to be the race that it happened at. My saddle was not level, so I adjusted it the night before the race. I also ride with my saddle all the way forward on the post (This is an important bit of info). After my warm-up and almost missing my start time, I was off. At first I didn't notice, but as the race went on, I felt like I was really reaching for the bars. I realized very quickly that my saddle had moved all the way back and was slightly loose. This really hindered my ability to put the power down and did not allow me to be able to reach the drops. I finished mid pack and still had fun. I am looking forward to tackling this race again next year!!

Tailwind Cyclocross Series
I went into cyclocross because it looked like a good time... and I was right! It can be very painful at the time, but the racing is awesome! You can usually see the guy ahead of you most of the race and finishing sprints are common. This type of racing really showed a weakness of mine... I have a hard time going hard for 30 min staight. I am much better at pacing myself for 1-2 hrs. I had a solid season racing on my MTB finishing 5th overall in the C-men class. I am looking forward to racing CX next year on a CX specific bike.

At this point in the season I was starting to get worn down. After wrecking bad last year at Iceman, I was looking to redeem myself! After getting into the sand at the beginning and loosing track of the lead pack, I just raced my race. When it was all said and done... Iceman ended up being the highlight of the year. I finish under the elusive 2 hr mark with a 1:57:44 time and podiumed taking the 5th spot in the 34-36 Sport Men class!

With 23 races under my belt in 2008... I am very excited about get back at it for the 2009 Season!!

Happy New Year!!