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!