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!!