Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Back on the "Program" - Bloomer CX

Since the USGP weekend, I have started to feel more like myself on the bike. I stayed with the “Program” and things are back to normal. The next race was Bloomer, which is a cool course. My plan was to stay towards the front at the start, be smooth in the corners and hit it hard on the hills and long straights. They decided to add a holeshot prime at this race, so the start was fast. I was about 5th wheel as we hit the wood chip pile (Yes… wood chip pile), when the first incident happened. The 3rd or 4th wheel guy lost it as did the guy in front of me and as I tried to split the two of them, I got “hooked” by a saddle. As I was trying to pull it off, he was pulling it back. Eventually we broke free and I was somewhere around 8-10th, but wasn’t 100% sure. I started to pick people off, then unclipped on a technical downhill and couldn’t get back in on the climb out, letting some people pass. Shortly after that, I hit an uneven patch on a climb and pull the bike over crashing on the hill and more people went by. I think I was 13th as we finished the first lap. At this point I wanted to quit, but as I started the second lap things began to click. I started closing the gaps and just focused on each group that was ahead of me. With 2 laps to go a younger guy on a mountain bike passed me on the downhill, but I was quickly back around him on an uphill pavement section. I attacked a few times to try and drop him, but he was stuck on my wheel. I kept a steady hard pace on the last lap and punched it hard on the long flats and uphills. As we approached the last straight to the finish, I ramped it up and pegged it as we hit the pavement as I know he was going to try to beat me in the sprint. But it wasn’t going too happened today… I rolled in for 6th on the day about a bike length ahead. Next up is the Tailwind Michigan CX Championships at Springfield Oaks on Dec 4th and it is looking like a muddy one. Osgood is going to be excited!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Louisville USGP CX

Wow… what an awesome trip. Mary Ann and I had been looking forward to this trip for a while. It is nice to just get away for the weekend. We loaded up the Fit and headed out Friday morning to Louisville. The weather was great and we only had one traffic issue in Cincinnati on the way down. We headed straight to the venue and I geared up to take a few laps of the course. It is exciting to see the sport of cyclocross growing to the point that they are building dedicated venues like this one in Louisville. The course was challenging with a few 2-3’ rollers, some technical sections in the trees, a flyover (Permanently installed), a steep off camber section, a steep run up… and lots of bumps! We stayed with Mary Ann’s friend Laura and her family. It was nice, as breakfast was a non issue and they even cooked us a homemade meal that night. The next morning came quick. I was a little nervous as this is a big time event and I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t register until the Monday before the race and since riders are called up based on when they registered, I was in the back of the 100+ field of CAT 2/3 riders. I could barely see my fellow Michigan riders Mark Caffyn or Ryan McKinnie who were towards the front. We didn’t move for a bit at the start being such a big group, but were soon under way. It was like a big slinky on the first lap as people slowed for the obstacles… first it was the couple roller bumps, then the barriers and lastly the flyover. Based on the data, I stood still for 20sec waiting to go over. After the flyover things were strung out. I passed a few people and soon could see Ryan Mckinnie and pushed to catch him but ran out of time. At the finish, I put it in my head to get around the 2 people in front of me and even thou it was for 90th place… I sprinted and won. After a nice dinner with Laura and her husband Jesse at Mitchell’s, day two was upon us and I was warmed up and at the starting line. The course layout changed a little and they made us climb a hill after a 180 which separated a lot of people. I didn’t think this tight little turn they put right before it was the best idea as there was some yard saling going on as the not so skilled bike handlers tried to get through it. Some guys dismounted and ran up, but I stayed on the bike and rode to the top passing about 4-5 people. I must admit that this helped with the congestion at the flyover as there was a much shorter wait. I was feeling good and was leap frogging forward from group to group. I was feeling good and started to see Ryan Mckinnie, so I pushed harder. I caught him and passed him, but got behind a slower rider and he passed with a train of guys. I jumped on and got around the group and never looked back. With one lap to go, I also saw Mark Caffyn and pushed to catch him. I had a good racing going with another rider and had fun being aggressive on a pass and also attacking before the final technical section. I again sprinted to beat the guy ahead and ended up finishing right behind Mark in 79th place. Watching the Pro’s race was really cool and educational. I learned a lot on how to attack different sections and recover. Major props go out to Mike Wissink from Michigan who won the Master’s 35+ class on day one with an incredible ride and placing 3rd on day 2 when he could have gone for the win. I was amazed at the Michigan contingent at the race, it’s nice to see. I will definitely be back to another USGP and Mary Ann is starting to get the CX bug... she is a little crazy like that!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Well another Iceman has cometh and wenteth. This year was a niceman year and the trail was fast… although I wasn’t. I finally snapped out of my funk the weekend before and got out on the bike which was nice. I car pooled up with Jason Weida from the team and we piled our stuff into his Subaru WRX and headed up Friday morning. Having a Subaru at this event has its advantages as it make parking easier because they are a major sponsor and give people with Subaru’s VIP parking. We headed straight to the finish to preride the end of the course. The weather was beautiful and we had a fun ride. We packed up, checked into the hotel, went to Ice Expo to get our numbers and then went to dinner at the Blue Tractor with some guys from the team and headed to bed. It was a little brisk in the AM but not too bad. After modifying my clothing choice a couple times, we headed to the start. It was hard to get the legs warmed up in 34 deg air, but I did my best and lined up at the start. My ass and arms were shaking so bad the guys next to me told me to stop shaking because it was making him cold!! The gun went off and I couldn’t get clipped in, so I had to hammer to catch the group just to have to slow down to make the first corner. It was a little bit of a mess going when we hit the dirt by the water tower, but everyone made it through cleanly. I tried to grab some wheels, but my legs were already feeling flat and heavy. I rode with Ray Dybowski for a while thinking that I could draft in the flats and be able to hang on the hills. It worked for a while, but soon I found myself in no man’s land. In a single track section about a third of the way through the race, I heard some noise behind me and was soon passed by the Tim Finkel/Simon Bailey freight train. Soon after, I was caught by Collin Snyder from my road team who harassed me and then motored by. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. Some groups from later waves would catch me and I would grab a wheel where I could. I manage to pedal my way up all the hills at the end. Looking at the time, I started to worry that I wouldn’t make it under 2hrs. When I rolled through the campground the first time, I was at 1:52. I knew that the finish would be slow due to the singletrack and wood chip climb at the end, so I pushed a little harder and rolled through with about 30secs to spare. It wasn’t the Iceman that I wanted it to be earlier in the year, but a day in the woods on your bike is always a good day. We headed back to the start of the pro race, picked-up the car and returned to watch the Pro’s finish. It was good to see everyone at the finish. After the race, we went to the Mom and Pop Racing party and then to the Loading Dock for the Bell’s Party. I’d like to thank Jeff for the invite, the food was awesome. Somebody made some pumpkin cheesecake that was incredible… I had way too much. Looking back at this race… the thing that brings me back year after year is the atmosphere. It is the end of the year, everyone is relaxed and just has fun. It also helps that the race is very well organized. Thanks Steve!!

Congrats to Osgood, JMak, Joe Thomas, Adam Naish, Jay Click, Collin Snyder, Jim Bonnell, Jimmie Colflesh, Tony Bastuk, Mark Olin, Finkel, Dybo, Randy Rodd, and Tom Clark for some awesome results!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Being sick sucks…

It’s that time of year and every one is getting sick. I usually can dodge it or just have a short stint… but not this year. Since just before Addison till about the end of last week, I have been up and down with something. Arianna was sick, Mary Ann was sick and Nathan has been up and down. It really zapped my legs and joints. I couldn’t get enough sleep… blah blah blah. I spent one whole weekend sleeping and watch football with Mary Ann. I even skipped my favorite CX race at Linden Park. The worst was just after the Mad Anthony CX race in Detroit. I thought I had recovered, but right from the start, my legs wanted nothing to do with it. I had a bad start and faded from there. It was still a good time as I was racing with my friend Patrick Robb which is always fun. After the race I felt ok, but the next day my legs were sore… and not in a good way. They hurt to even touch. With Iceman coming in less than 2 weeks, I was getting worried. I ended up taking more time off the bike and finally got out this weekend for some hammering and all systems are go! Definitely lost some power and fitness, but I am ready to try and hang on to the fast guys in wave 1 on Saturday!!

Sorry for the whining… I'll send you some cheese to go with it!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Racing, Racing and more Racing!

Munson CX

Things have been going pretty good on the CX front and I was curious to see if it would continue. This was a night race with my race starting at 8:25pm. The day was pretty relaxing, but I lost track of time and we had to rush down to the race. I got warmed up and felt ok. I headed to the start line early only to find a lot of people already lined up. I found a spot in the second row and was ready to go. The gun went off and away we went. I had a good start and was in the top 5 or so. For some reason I thought that I forgot to start my Garmin and it was all downhill from there. I fiddled with it while we were racing only to find, in the end, that it had been started and I stopped it. The lack of focus caused me to fumble the barriers and lost a ton of positions. I tried to relax, but the damage had been done. Munson is always a power course and this year was no different. I struggled to keep pace with bigger guys on the death spiral. There was also a run up that seemed to zap me every lap also. I pushed through the race and finished 14th. Not what I was looking for, but it is what it is. One of these days, I will figure out this CX racing…

Brooksie 5K

The next day, Nathan and I ran the Brooksie 5K. We got up way too early and headed to the start. It wasn’t too cold, but after they delayed the start almost 30mins, we were getting chilly. Once we were off we settled into a rhythm. I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel after the CX race, but so far so good. We held a decent pace for the first half (Maybe too good) and Nathan had to walk the hill at the 2 mile mark. Once over the hill we settle back into a comfortable pace and finished it with a time of 30:39. Nathan is now running cross country at the middle school. I will be curious to see if I can keep up with him next year!

12hr Addison Oaks

I did this race last year and had a blast! I guess Jim Bonnell and Jay Click also had a blast, as they were asking me if we were going to do it again this year. My friend Chuck hasn’t been riding as much due to his current work schedule, so I talked Jarod Makowski into competing on our team this year. With all the big guns on the team, I was going to be the anchor! We were excited to hear that Ray Fulkerson, Joe Thomas and Nick Cisler were going to have a team, but at the last minute they had to back out. This was a downer, as we had a good race with them last year and were looking forward to going head to head again.
I hadn’t been feeling 100% coming into this race and was hoping it wouldn’t affect me too much. I seemed to feel ok the morning of, so Mary Ann and I headed to the Addison. My friends Chuck and Carl were there and were going to do the 6hr team race. We set-up camp next to them and were ready to go. Registration closed and we found out that we were the only Elite Team. So to keep motivated, the “fast guys” decided to see who could do the most sub 27 laps. I said “fast guys”, as I have never dipped into the 27 min range at Addison. Our secondary goal was to complete 26 total laps. The big guns went first and were all in the 27 range. I had a slight issue and dropped my chain finishing in 28:34. Brendan Benson showed up and wanted to follow for a lap, so I obliged and headed out for my second lap. I was close, but no cigar with a 28:10. The big guns started competing for the fastest lap and Jay came through with a 27:05 on his 4th lap and took the prize. Pete Favata rolled up and kept me company for my 3rd lap which was just under 29 min. We were easily on pace for 26 laps, but I was starting to not feel well and need to take break from the rotation especially after running subpar 30min 4th lap. We decided to finish it out be doing 2 laps apiece. This worked out well and we still had about 6mins to spare when it started to get dark. Jay and Jim put in some good night laps and handed it over to me with 36mins to go. I finished the 25th lap with 5 min to spare and then went out for an easy 26th lap. All of our goals were completed. Jim won the fastest average lap time. He was a machine! Can’t wait for next year!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cyclocross has begun!

I was unsure how I would perform in cross this year do to the inconsistency of my training most of the year. Last year I was finishing in the 10ish range in the B’s. This year I would like to win a B race. I started training about a month ago with the Tailwind Double X weekend on the 17th and 18th being my first race.

Double X Day 1

B Race

My legs felt pretty good going into Saturday’s race. I arrived early and rode a couple laps of the course. I was a little rusty at doing the flyover, but I figured I would get the hang of it again during the race. When I made it over to line up, the front row was full and I had to start in the second row. The whistle blew and we were off… well mostly, as I had trouble clipping in and ended up about 20th. The first lap was congested, but I managed to work my way up through the field. I think I passed about 8 guys on the straight away. I felt pretty good the next couple of laps. I was with a group for a while and then worked to bridge up to a Rhino and rode with him for a couple laps. My biggest issue was the barriers as I suck at remounting my bike and guys would pull a gap that I would have to close every lap. Between having to pass people on the first lap and closing the barrier gap, I was slowing down and couldn’t keep pace with the Rhino and he ended up beating me by about 10s. I finished 5th, which is a big improvement over last year and a great start!

Double X Day 2

B Race

I again arrived early and rode the course. My legs were still feeling good and this time I would get to start in the front row. I made sure I clipped in quick and sprinted to the start of the course and settled in at about 5th wheel. At the end of the 1st lap, I was sitting 4th wheel and feeling great. I was riding behind a Greyhound and we had a pretty good gap on the 5th place guy. He was slowing, so I made a pass and pushed the pace. Then… as I was making a fast left hand turn, my front wheel caught something wrong and dug in. This sent me over the bars head first into the ground. It took me a second to get up and take inventory. I seemed to be ok, but feeling banged up. The bike was fine outside of the chain was off. I quick put it back on and was riding again. At this point I wasn't sure where I was at in the field and just hung with the group that was near me. I figured I was still top 10 as I knew everyone in the group and they were decent riders. I just sat in for a couple of laps as I wasn't feeling 100% from the crash and my vision wasn't quite right. After a couple laps, I saw that we were catching Brad Lako. I went to the front of the group and started to push the pace. They ended up dropping off and I managed to bridge to Brad with a lap to go. I sat on his wheel till the end and managed to win the sprint for 7th. Thinking that my contact wasn't in right, I stuck my finger in my eye to adjust it a little only to find it wasn't there. I then managed to dig it out of the corner of my eye and I could see again!

Masters 35+ Race

Being that I am a little crazy, I also entered the Masters 35+ race. I figured I would just hang on as long as I could and it is good practice as I don’t have a CX course set-up in my back yard. The start was fast and I was with a group for about a half a lap, then I just settled into my own pace. I didn’t get lapped, but did get passed by the lead Woman and most of the Master’s 45+. Kelly Patterson was also catching me which motivated me to finish strong. It was a fun 45 mins, but the legs were only good for one race.

Stomach of Anger – East Lansing

I entered this race because it is part of another series that I thought I would be able to race. I wasn’t sure what to expect for a course, but Joe Lekovich was excited about it as it is part of a series with his race called Mad Anthony which is down in Detroit. The course was long and bumpy, but had a lot of different style turns that I felt suited my strengths. The competition looked steep and I doubted myself a little. I secured a front spot, the whistle blew and we were off. I managed to fall in at about 5th wheel and soon after 4th wheel. One UofM guy was off the front and stayed there till the end. I was with a group of 3 giving chase that grew to 4 and then back to 3. The pace was near my limit, so I just sat in. My not so great barrier/remount skills caused me to have to bridge a gap every lap after the barriers. By the last lap, I was starting to feel it and the guys in front started to push the pace a little. About half way through the last lap, I started to crack and then found myself off the back of the group. I rode the rest of the lap in for 4th with no one in sight behind.

Next race is the Tailwind Munson CX night race on October

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back to Blogging – New life/Coaching/Bike Racing

OK… I am going to start getting back into this blogging thing. It has been a rough couple of years, but I am excited about my life and where it is going. I gave up women for about 9 months last year and spent time with my kids and raced my bike. We took a couple camping trips in the summer, one to Acadia National Park in Maine and another to Muskegon State Park in Michigan. We also made stops at Michigan Adventure and Cedar Point. It was an awesome summer!! The best part of 2010 came at the end when I met the most incredible woman… Mary Ann.

At the start of 2011, I was contracted out to Borg Warner to support calibration work on their active AWD systems. I then was offered a job at Borg Warner, which I took. It has taken me to proving grounds in the UP, Sweden and New Zealand. Mary Ann and I also took Nathan and Arianna out west to Yellowstone. While we were out there, we also visited the Corn Palace, Badlands, Wall Drug, Black Hills, Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Grand Tetons and the Buffalo Bill dame and museum in Cody, Wyoming. It was a great trip and totaled 4200miles!! We drove the Fit out there with a Thule box on the back… it was a tight fit, but we survived!

On to the biking update which this blog is suppose to be about. CX finished up a little rough last year as I got busy with my kids activities and lost focus. The change in jobs had me running around last winter and traveling up to the UP, so I didn’t find much time to train and gained some weight. With all the rain early in the season it was hard to get out and ride as much as I did in 2010… so as the season started out I found myself feeling slow. Looking to improve, I bought a Powertap wheel for my road bike and worked with a coach to get an initial plan put together. The Powertap was later swapped out in favor of a Quarq, as swapping to race wheels meant no power reading! I wanted to focus a little more on the road and try and get upgraded to CAT3. I also upgraded my road bike to a Giant TCR, this was a huge gain (Outside of the motor). First race was an early season TT at Willow… not the best result, but I knew I was not at my peak. As the year went on my fitness improved and had some top ten finishes. Traveling the whole month of July put me a little behind fitness wise, but it was worth it. I didn’t race my mountain bike but a few times this year and with so-so results. I finally made it up to Ore to Shore this year and had mixed feelings about the race. I will probably go back to do it again as I feel that it defeated me this year and I want another go at it.

After working with the powermeter data for a while and doing some reading, I decided to hire a coach. A coach can really help to hold you accountable and work to make sure that you are not over doing it and put the proper rest periods in your schedule. I did some looking around and decided to hire Brian Matter at Momentum Endurance for coaching. Brian has had great success in both Mountain bike racing and CX. I look forward to seeing what he can do to help dial in my training and reach my cycling goals. So far, I have felt great at all my events with good results. This CX season and Iceman will be a good test for me as usually I fall flat in the fall. Wish me luck as the first CX race is coming up this weekend!!