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.