Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Road Racing – A New Adventure

Since I have been having such a good time on the Birmingham road rides, I decided to try some road racing this year. I figured it would be a good change of pace and fun to trying doing a few road races.

Tour of Kensington

I figured that being a mountain biker and a reasonably good climber; Kensington would be a good race for me. I signed up early to make sure I got in under the cap of 50 racers. The weather was not looking to favorable leading up to the race. The morning of it was cold, windy and misting. I threw what appeared to be every combination of clothing I had to make sure I was covered. I checked in, pumped up my tires, pinned my number on my jacket and was ready to do battle… at this point I wasn’t sure if the battle was going to be the weather or the competition. I warmed up a little and ended up removing a layer of clothing. One thing that I noticed riding around were how much money people had in bikes and wheels in road racing. Some guys had multiple wheelsets worth more than my whole bike! I lined up my junk and was ready to go. On the first downhill my fear of being taken out almost became reality as a guy was all over his brakes on a corner, cut across the road and almost took a group of us out at near 40mph… not good. After that things weren’t too exciting as the race turned into basically a fast group ride. The only place guys would attack was out of the neutral zone as we entered the pavement. A couple attacks were hard to reel back in due to the windy conditions, but once a group was formed things would settle down. I attacked on an uphill to warm up and strung the group out, but they caught me as soon as we turned into the wind. The wind was so bad in some areas that the whole peloton had to lean their bikes almost 30degs to keep going straight. As we roll through at the start of the final lap, I noticed that our group was now down to 12 guys. Maybe we were going harder than I thought. At this point I was wondering how the finish was going to shake out. There was a long hill followed by a short down hill and then the climb to the finish line. I was thinking about waiting till the top of the first climb and then attack or just follow whatever anyone else did. As the first hill approached, a guy started to go for it and the rest of the group didn’t respond so I chased him down. It was a little sooner than I wanted to go but didn’t want to be in a position to be racing for second. I caught him at the start of the finishing climb, drafted for a little bit and then started to sprint around him. At this point another group of riders caught us and I was out sprinted by one of them. I was excited to finish 2nd place in my first road race experience and even one a $50 gift certificate!!

West Branch Classic

Saturday Road Race
I had another open weekend and decided to give another road race a try. I had wanted to West Branch as they talked about how it finishes on a “killer” climb and is a very hilly route. It was a 2 day event with a Criterium on Sunday, so I decided to drive up the morning of the race to minimize the cost. I warmed up, talked to a few guys and looked at all the bike bling. This race had a couple “teams” in the group with matching kits and bikes and I wondered if they would organize during the race. We rolled out easy and then guys immediately started attaching off the front, but were easily reeled back in by the peloton. The hills didn’t seem that bad, but it was interesting to me that on every turn the front guys would take off and then easy up. I quit chasing the corner surge to conserve energy and just rode at a hard pace to pull myself back to the group. There were some good hills but we seemed to keep the most of the guys in the group. As we got closer to the finish guys started to battle for position, but I just tried to maintain my position and not get caught up in a wreck. As we approached the base of the climb, I wasn’t in a great position and guys were all over the place. I worked my way toward the centerline to give myself an outlet and it was a good choice as a couple guys got together and went down right near me. All that I could hear was the cracking of carbon fiber. I powered my way around and up the hill leaving most of the peloton behind. There were a couple of guys ahead of me and I was closing on one of them when another guy rode around us. I gave it everything I had, but had to settle for 5th. The funny thing was that everyone that beat me was younger than 25 and went to Michigan State.

Sunday Criterium
I was a little nervous about racing a crit as it is where a lot of wrecks happen. After the wreck on Saturday, it was definitely on my mind. There was a smaller turnout for the crit, only 12 guys show up at the line. The pace was fast and furious. There were a couple of preems (prize points for being in the lead at certain points of the race) and I went for one of them. I was pretty sure I got it but they called it a tie as they weren’t using the camera to review. On the second preem, the 2 guys that went for it gapped the group and we couldn’t reel them back in by the finish. I rolled in for 5th place. The race weekend had an omnium (an overall for the weekend) and I finished second and won a Michelob Ultra jersey. Fun weekend of racing!

Le Tour de Mont Pleasant

After having a few good finishes in CAT5, I requested an upgrade to CAT4. It was approved, so I decide to challenge myself and enter the Tour de Mont Pleasant road race in the Master’s 35+ category. I had just finished the Mohican 100 mtb race the weekend before and wasn’t sure how my legs were going to be, but I knew this would probably be my last opportunity to do a road race so I took my chances. I drove up the morning of and walked over to pick up my packet. I was really impressed at how much the city of Mount Pleasant did for the race. Most of the store fronts had cycling related things in the window and shops and sponsors had booths set-up on the side streets. The people volunteering for the race were all really nice and seemed excited to be part of the event. I got my stuff together, did a quick warm-up and lined up for the race. There were some familiar faces in this group from the Tuesday Birmingham ride racing for MPI and Essex Brass. Once again I felt like the odd man out with a bike that probably cost less than most of their wheelsets, non shaved legs and mtb shoes. Right at the start Rich Stark took off and we were in full chase mode. I was already wondering how I was going to keep up at this pace! After a few miles, everyone relaxed and we settled into a pace. One thing I noticed with this group was that they weren’t afraid to go off the front. Sometimes the peloton would chase other times not. A couple times the group was split up and I found myself in the front of the chase group at 30+ mph bridging the gap. At one point I thought that my whole book of matches was going to go up in flames… but I held on. At one point in the race a couple guys got off the front and I didn’t realize it as I thought we had caught them. I must have not been seeing straight due to oxygen debt. Rob Selle was yelling about racing for 3rd and I didn’t realize what he was talking about till the finish!! Haha!! The Peloton was riding pretty slow for a while and then the Master 45+ guys caught us, which was a mess because then they slowed and we went around and then they went back around us. It was hard to maintain a lot of speed with our group as it was probably less then half the size of the 45+ group. As we approached the finish the group was at a group ride pace. I talked with a couple guys while warming up about where the sprint would start and they thought that it would happen at the railroad tracks. Well… they were wrong as it started immediately at the last turn which was about a ½ mile out and I was out of position for a good finish. I drafted as long as I could and passed a few near the finish rolling in for 14th place. I was happy to finish with the main group and had a great time! I will definitely do some more road racing next year.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Let the MTB racing begin!

Yankee Springs TT

After finishing strong at the Barry Roubaix, I was excited to see how that would translate to my performance on the trails. The team went on a trip to Yankee a couple weeks before the race and outside of an early flat we had a good time and I put down a couple of respectable laps. I felt ready for the race, but didn’t have any expectations, as it always has a large turnout with a lot of fast locals. As we lined up I realized that I had a few carrots to chase (My teammate Scott Simpson and friend Dave Messing) and a fast guy (Gus Hemingway) lined up next to me. Dave left minutes ahead of me so it was more of a mental chase. I was a little nervous as 2 laps of Yankee can be tough. The start was fast… probably faster than I should have made it. I was out in front with Gus on my wheel for the first ½ mile or so, and then he went around me. I tried to stay with him, but his pace was too fast for me. I started to see Scott up ahead and was working hard to catch him, and then I saw Gus on the side of the trail. I found out later he broke his drivetrain and had to make it a SS. I caught Scott and he let me by and wished me luck. At this point I was grinding away on my own… I passed a few people and got passed a couple times. I then fell into a group of guys that were going at or slightly above my pace, so I pushed to stay on their wheel. We rode together for the rest of the first lap and most of the second lap. I was gapped a few times and would have to push to catch back up. We then caught a familiar rider in green, it was my buddy Dave. At this point I knew I must be doing pretty well as Dave is no slouch. Dave jumped into our group and we pushed towards the finish. One by one the group started to slow and I went around and hammered to the finish. To my surprise, I ended up in 4th place. I stood there thinking it was going to be a fun year of racing!

Fort Custer XC

Feeling good about my performance at Yankee Springs, I was excited to see how I would perform at Fort Custer. My son Nathan and I woke up early the morning of and head to the Fort. It was raining HARD on our drive to the race so much that it felt like driving on ice! The engine in my Fit would start to rev up while driving down the highway and it only has a 1.5L 4 cylinder engine!! I almost turned around and went home as to not get us killed driving to the race. Thankfully it cleared up before the start. I was little nervous about the mud, but figured it would be good bike handling practice. Last year I jumped the start and had to stop and then start again causing me to be at the back of the pack. This year I didn’t watch the clock, but listened to the starter, clipped in and was gone. I didn’t feel like I was hammering at the start, but didn’t seem to have anyone battling for the front. I lead for the first 3-4 miles and quickly found it was down to only 2 of us, Jeff Nixon and me. At the exit of grannies garden, the double drop offs caught me off guard and I ended up getting tossed. I quickly jumped back on my bike, but couldn’t catch Jeff. Shortly after Joe Thomas came storming (Yes Storming) by on the 2 track and I tried to hang on to his wheel, but couldn’t. The trail had some really slimy spots and the Raven I had on the back might as well been a slick. I did a lot of drifting; I was even complimented by a racer passing me as I was holding a 2 wheel drift while he went by on the inside! The race was also fun because I was able to ride with my friend Pete Favata for a while sliding around in the mud. I was passed by one guy at the start of the third lap, but didn’t realize he was in my class until later in the race. I realized it right at the end when I caught him and passed him just before the finish line taking 3rd place by 3 secs. I was happy with my finish and my lap times were consistent, I just need to figure out how to make up the 5 mins that the lead 2 guys put on me!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Early Season - Training/Barry Roubaix

A few people have approached me and asked when I was going to update my blog, so I decided I needed to get my act together and get typing!

I didn’t ride as much as I would have liked over the winter. I tried to ride outside once a week, but was lucking to get out every other week. I probably downhill skied more this winter than most, but didn’t get out on the XC skies as much as I liked due to the lack of snow in the area. Downhill and CX skiing seems to be a good cross training activity as they are both great workouts. I took a trip to Colorado for a long weekend to ski and had a great time. This winter, I think I am going to head up north specifically to XC ski, if you are interested let me know. I am also looking forward to skiing in CO again. Ok, backing to biking, I spent some time on the trainer at least once a week, but it was hard to stay motivated. About mid February, I started riding in the Fraser lab on the computrainers. It felt a little rough at the beginning, but I was feeling like my form was good by mid March. With the warm weather in March, I was able to put in a lot of miles which really helped to get things firing.

Barry Roubaix
Feeling good about where I was this early in the season, I decided to put it to the test at the Barry Roubaix ( Armed with my Kuota Kross with a Revolution Wheel Works wheelset and Tufo tubular tires, I set out to do battle in the Expert 30-39 class. The 35 mile course is over 90% dirt and/or gravel roads and has some killer climbing. I arrived the night before to preride the start and scope out this nasty jeep road that we navigate early in the race as it could definitely be the decider in the race. The jeep road didn’t seem too bad, but definitely had a lot of packed sand that may not be so packed once the elite guys tear it up. Wayne Cook and David Toutant were nice enough to let me crash with them after a nice all you can eat fish dinner. We were up early and at the start with plenty of time, but it was cold. It was a mass start with everyone grouped by category. The neutral roll out slinkied its way out of the park and onto the road with a couple guys almost wrecking. It quickly smoothed out and we were on our way. The first climb came quickly shortly after the first turn. A couple guys went down in the loose dirt. I picked a line to the left and hammered up the climb passing a lot people. The Kross climbs very well and it put a huge smile on my face. Once at the top, I was by myself and saw the back of the elite group up ahead. I put my head down and pushed hard to bridge the gap and made it by the time we hit the Jeep road. The Jeep road was completely tore up and it quickly separated the roadies from the mountain bikers. I managed to make it through and only had to dismount a couple times due to traffic. Once back on the gravel roads I tried to stay with a group and jump onto faster groups or individuals as they went by. The climbs were brutal and wished I had lower gears many times during the race. The hardest part of the race was trying to hang on during the flatter sections with the roadies. The final stretch was pavement and as my group approached the end of the dirt and turned left on the pavement I was happy to know that the end was near. Although, the happiness ended as I realized how long the climb was to Yankee Springs road. A couple guys in our group were setting a pretty hard pace. I rotated through a couple times, but almost got dropped after taking my pulls at the front. The run in near the finish was fast and we were cruising near 30 mph through a couple sections. The amazing thing was seeing Michael Seaman hanging with us on his SS?! I wasn’t sure who in our group was with which group. One guy took off once we were in the park; I let him go and then went shortly after, but ran out of gas and was passed by a couple guys in the group I was with. All in all, I felt like I had a good race and felt strong on the hills. I finished 6th out of the 51 guys in my class (

Nice way to start my first year in the expert ranks.

Monday, February 15, 2010

2010… New Team, New Beginning, New Freedom and New Challenges!!

Team (

I would like to announce my change to a new team for 2010. I am proud to be racing for PrecisionMTB in 2010 and am excited to be a part of such a fun group of racers… because the last I checked we do call this “fun” right?


This year will be my first year racing expert, which will be a new challenge due to a longer racing distance and faster, more skilled group of guys. I am ready for the challenge and am coming into the year with humble expectations.


My new single life has and will allow for more time to focus on training. I am already back in the lab at Fraser working on power as well as fitness by xc skiing and endurance riding on the weekend. Bring on the racing!!


I have already entered 4 new (to me) races or 2010; The Barry-Roubaix (, the Mohican 100 ( ), The Lumberjack 100 (, and Ore to Shore ( Each one poses a new challenge that I am excited to tackle!

Iceman and thoughts on Cyclocross Season


After coming off a strong finish to my mountain bike season, I was looking forward to seeing how I would fair in cyclocross. Armed with my new Kuota Kross bike with some light Revolution Wheel Works and Tufo tubulars, I set out to battle in the killer B’s. I quickly found myself settling into the 10-12th spot, which was good as the racing in that part of the pack was exciting. This is where things derailed causing training to stop and hence cycling to get put on the back burner. I was planning on going to Kentucky for the USGP of CX, but ended up staying home… which was a big disappointment. I finished the season in 15th place with only 5 out of 6 races. I will be looking for a better result next season.


I managed to get back on the bike enough to have some fitness for Iceman. I was very excited to race Iceman this year as it was going to be my first expert race and with the Finkelstein’s Ice Ice Baby training rides under my belt, I felt I was prepared. We drove up early and rode the last part of the course and the trail was very packed in. I was feeling good at the start of the race and the pack quickly accelerated to about 25mph… then disaster struck. One of the guys behind me lost control and drove into my rear wheel taking me out. I landed hard on the asphalt… everything seem to be enacted, so I got back on the bike and started riding. My head, ribs and hip were aching, but I figured I would just grit it out. The two of us were now way behind the 130 person field. I think the guy that took me out felt bad as he made a hard pull trying to catch the pack, but once I was back out in front I found myself riding alone. I learned a few things in the first 8-10 miles… when you have a sore rib cage, breathing hard to get up hills hurts. When you bruise your hip it never really “loosens” back up and when you hit your head hard enough, it causes blurred and discolored vision. As the race went on the vision became clearer, although I realized that my Oakleys were not on my head, so I was hoping that I wouldn’t get any sand in my eyes. I thought my bike made it through the wreck unharmed, but as I was climbing in the single track the chain started to jump between gears. Luckily I managed to be able to tune it out without stopping. I slowly picked people off one by one. The worst part was that there was a slight head wind for most of the race and I didn’t have anyone to draft off of for most of the race. The only help was when some of the faster old guys caught me, I could tag on to the back of there train for a while. One of my goals for this year was to not get off the bike on any of the climbs. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but there are a couple near 30 percent grades at iceman and they are near the end of the race when you are not feeling so strong. I was also a little worried, since I left my single ring on the front which didn’t leave a “granny” gear to fall back on. The hills seemed to be a non issue… which put a big smile on my face. As I neared the finish, I realized that we didn’t ride the finish correctly the day before as they routed us back down the hill through some nasty single track and then had us climb back up to get to the finish. I was very happy to be done… my body felt like I was hit by a Mack truck! When I inspected my equipment, I notice that I had cracked my new S-Works helmet… I guess it did it job!! I finished 28th in a time of 1:56.24… which I am happy with as it was a minute faster than last year and according to last years times the course was about 6 min longer mainly due to that added mile at the start. Hopefully I can manage a sub 1:50 next year and place in the top 10.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back in the saddle again...

Due to some unfortunate circumstances last fall, I lost focus. Good news is that I am now back focused and enjoying life. I will try and get an update up summarizing the fall cyclocross experience, Iceman and my training this winter.

Stay tuned... 2010 is going to be an awesome year!