Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cyclocross Season has Arrived!

I have always enjoyed Cyclocross, but have never really had good fitness at the end of the year.  I have had some reasonable results, but nothing to write home about.  I am usually struggling to find motivation to stay on the bike after 8-9 months of training and racing.  This year has gone pretty well with respect to training and racing, so I am coming into the CX season a lot fitter and more motivated than ever.   There was some debate in my head about whether to race in the B’s or go straight to the Master’s 35+ class.  Since CX is in a class by itself in some respects.  It’s not quite road racing, although tactics and drafting come into play, and it’s not exactly Mountain Biking, even though you are mostly in dirt and riding with knobby tires… albeit skinny ones.  My point is… just because someone is fast in one venue or another, doesn't mean jack in CX.  Fast guys will still be fast and slow will be slow, but just because you can beat someone on the road or on the trail, doesn't mean you can best them in a CX race!   For this reason, I chose to stay in the B’s and see how it goes.

Kensington Day 1:
After getting there at a reasonable time and getting in a quick loop of the course in my street clothes… (Obviously I didn't get there early enough!).  I got everything set and it was quickly time to go.  I was a little worried as I didn't get a good warm up, but that’s life.  The course was really rough and sandy with lots of turns and no real straightaway sections. 

After I quick loop or so, I weaseled my way into the front row of the 40+ B’s and waited nervously for the start.  One of the changes for this year was splitting the B’s into 2 groups… under and over 40.  Being old… I was in the 40+ group which would start 30s behind the under 40 group, which started 30s behind the elite women.  This adds a dynamic to the race that I wasn't sure about… having to pass a lot of people.  It was a level playing field as we would all have to pass the same people to win, but they could be moving targets and potential hazards.  In my head, just like in mountain biking, I was planning to try and get around them as fast as possible, putting them between myself and the guys behind me.

The whistle blew and I got the initial jump.  The guy to my left was bound and determined to win the race before the first corner, so I let him go and jumped on his wheel.  He blew the first technical corner and I went by him and put the hammer down.  Things went well until I caught one of the elite women who was being overtaken by one of the younger B men and was run into the tape as they almost got into each other in the corner.  I took off and soon realized that the tape was caught on my seat post, but somehow managed to get it off without stopping.   Brian got around me during the incident and so I took up chase for a couple of laps.  I kept him in sight, but couldn't seem to real him in and started to ease up a bit when I saw that he had a bit of trouble.  I started to chase hard again and reeled him in towards the end of the 2nd to last lap.  I went around him and pushed hard on the last lap and had a pretty good gap.  The only issue was that my hand had blistered in the palm due to the bumps and had torn open.  Needless to say, it wasn't a pleasant feeling and wasn't helping my concentration.  While working by a couple of riders, I took a less than desirable line and had to unclip as the bike slide out.  When I remounted, I noticed the chain was off and it wasn't going back on very quickly.  After fiddling with the front derailleur I got the chain on and was under way.  Riding easy through a bumpy area near the finish line, trying to keep my hand from being shredded, Brian came by me and I was back in chase mode.   We had a couple corners and the sand pit till the finish.  I made sure to take a fast line through the turn before the sand and managed to go by Brian and hold on for the win.  This was my first CX win!  I was pretty stoked.
With 2 big blisters on my right palm… Kensington Day 2 will be interesting.

Kensington Day 2:
Adam - The Bunny?!
An attempt to get to the race earlier failed, although I did go out and warm up a bit better than day 1.  The course was modified slightly and run in reverse through a lot of the sections.  It was getting really sandy and loose.  There were a lot of crashes at the start of the C race due to the loose conditions.  After taping up the hand, I lined up in the front row with the usual suspects and got a good laugh as Adam York was strutting around in a dog suit heckling… I thought he was the Bunny?!

At the start, Thomas pulled in front and then the same guy from yesterday squeaked by both of us.  He again blew an early corner and Thomas and I went around.   Thomas was setting a pretty good pace so I just stayed on his wheel.  Halfway through the lap Josh took off and I followed.  He was putting it down on the flats and I was having to really work hard to keep him in sight, but would close the gap on the climbs near the end of the lap.  I could also see Todd charging hard from behind, motivating me to keep pushing.  At this point my hand felt like there were nails on the handle bar and every downhill or braking event was painful.  I kept debating on dropping out… but continually told myself it will be over soon.   I caught and passed Josh at one point, but he quickly recovered and went back around.  I knew my only chance was to attack at the climbs near the finish.  As he slowed on a climb near the end, I attacked and didn’t let up till the top of the last climb and rolled in for the win.   My hand was happy to be done… hopefully it will heal up before the Lower Huron race in a couple of weeks!

Trails Edge Podium Sweep!
Congrats to Lako and Osgood on their wins and the Bunny for a dominant win in the A’s!

Lower Huron:
After all the rain late in the week and the day before the race, I was worried it was going to be a total mudfest.  They had called for rain the day of and it had been raining early in the AM, but seemed to be clearing up.  As we headed to the race, the clouds moved on and it was looking like it was going to be a great day!  With being fully recovered from Crank the Shield and having some CX specific training under my belt, I was feeling good coming into this race.  The only concern rolling around in my head was that Lower Huron always has a couple of expressway sections and it will be interesting to see who can keep the pace high in these areas.  Learning from the Kensington race, I left a half hour early and got there with enough time to do a couple laps and get a good warm-up in.  Surprisingly, the course had very little mud and the temps were approaching 70?! 

The start of this race is a long straight pavement stretch that is basically a drag race.  Todd took off like a bullet and I end up settling in on his wheel.  He was setting a blistering pace and we were passing people in large groups.  On the pavement at the start of lap 2, I looked back and saw that Brian was with us, so I attacked to put some separation between us and make him do his own work.  This put me in front of Todd and I never let up the whole lap.  I was alone the rest of the race and just held a steady hard effort and rolled in for the win.  I also had the fastest time in the B’s, so I am going to move up to Masters 35+ for the Lake Orion race and see how I fair.  Should be fun!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crank the Shield

Race Info:

The 7 hr drive over to Haliburton, ON Canada was uneventful and Andy, Zandra and I arrived with plenty of time to register, eat and get things prepped for the first stage.  In the morning we packed our bags for the trip and headed out to the start.  We met up with Danielle Musto and Scott Chambers and loaded some spare stuff in Scott’s truck.  Since Scott wasn't racing, he was going to drive to the white pines camp which allowed us to not have to pack a few items and bring spare wheels.  As we drove to the start it started to sprinkle… this was not how I wanted to start a 3-day race.

I signed up for this race in the winter before my SS arrived and was excited to do some races on it.  By this time of the year and after suffering on it at Lumberjack, I was really questioning my sanity.  I geared down after reading some info online, but knew that 120+miles and 13k ft of climbing was going to take its toll.  Looking around at the start, 90% of the people had geared FS bikes… they were the smart ones.

Day #1 – 40 miles; Haliburton Forest to Camp White Pine
Sloggy Slow Trail
After warming up in the rain and doing a little recon of the start, I jumped in with Andy in the start line.  The start was moderately fast which allowed me to stay with the front pack.  Once in the trail, the pace slowed to a crawl as the wet rocks and roots along with the climbs made it hard to keep a decent pace.  After a bit of this and some hike a bike sections, things opened up to a slow 2 track section that was sloggy.   Next up was some rocky climbing and descending before hitting a fast road section.  I was alone for a while until a geared group came up on me and I jump on the back of the train.  It’s funny how they always look at you to make a pull until they realize you only have one gear.  Towards the end of the road there was a long steep painful climb, which put me back on my own after dropping the geared group.  The last section of the stage was the hydrocut  or Powerline as we in Michigan would call it.  It consisted of a very rocky and loose rolling service road that seemed to go on forever.  Once close to Camp White Pine, we rolled through some rooty single track and into camp.  I rolled across the finish line in just under 4hrs and was 23rd overall and 2nd in SS for the stage.  After eating and cleaning up, I had an awesome massage and started thinking about how I was going to manage 2 more days of this!!
Wet Slick Bridges

Stage #2 – 50 miles; White Pines Loop
No Brake Pads Left :(
With all the rain, grit and mud from Stage #1, my brake pads were toast!  I couldn't find any locally before I left, so I just went without… big mistake.  I wasn't sure how they would work metal on metal, but I was going to have to find out.  The other unpleasantry was that my shoes didn't completely dry.  I figured as long as it wasn't too cold, it would be fine.  We had a short ride up to the start, which was a good warm-up.  The weather was looking good and the temps warmed up quick once the sun came up.  The top 30 got a call up… it was pretty cool to get a call up and be able to start near the front.
The start was pretty mellow with a lot of 2 track and some climbing… but then things got ugly.  The trail turned into some new single track that was pretty gnarly with lots of rocks and wet roots and no flow.  Read not very SS friendly!!  I rode what I could, but found it easier to hop off and jog with the bike, which happened to be about the same speed as most of the guys riding it!!  About 5 miles in, I started to feel my rear tire going down.  I jumped off and was about to just air it up when I saw a gash in the sidewall that Stan’s was trying to seal, but failing.  I did a painfully slow tube install and was on my way again.  The gnarly single track kept coming and I wanted to quit… but somehow kept going.  I think I went 10 miles in the first hour and a half!!  Mentally defeated, I pushed on (Literally at times!) and stopped at the last rest stop for a while and refilled my camelback and mentally regrouped.  At this point I really wanted to be done.  Luckily the next bunch of miles was mostly road, so I just settled into a pace and enjoyed the views.  The home stretch was once again the hydrocut… and just to taunt us, you could see the finish line far away in the distance!  This was motivation though and I pushed hard passing a lot of people along the way.  I lost a lot of time on the overall on this stage, but I was happy to finish!  I ended up 3rd in SS with a time of 4:28 dropping me to 3rd overall in SS and 66th overall for the stage.  Time for a Massage and mental regroup for the final stage!

Stage #3 – 35 miles; White Pines back to Haliburton
After a chilly night in a non heated cabin we woke to temps just above freezing.  After packing, I put on just about every layer I had for the 9 mile ride to the start at Sir Sam’s Ski and Bike and was still cold.  Luckily, once the sun burned off the cloud cover, it turned into a beautiful day and we were down to just jersey’s and shorts. 
The Happy Crew!
The start of this stage was at Sir Sam’s and started out with a road uphill before riding the trails.  There was a crash on the road (MTBs in road situations never turns out well), which I managed to avoid.  Andy was force into the woods, but managed to recover.  Sir Sam’s had some great single track and included the downhill run that was used for the O-cup downhill course.  The climb up the ski hill was cool as it was a huge switchback that made it manageable with technical bits along the way to the top.  Once back on the road I tried to stay with the geared guys but due to the speed on the down hills I kept finding myself alone.  We worked our way in and out of single track sections and backwards through a lot of the route that we rode on day one.  I managed to stay ahead of the 2nd place SS guy for the first half of the day, but couldn’t hold on in the Hydrocut climbs in the middle of the course.  The course was definitely more enjoyable on the way back without being rained on the whole time, although there were sections there were still really muddy and power zapping!   As we approached Haliburton, we hit some unbelievably gnarly trail with huge rocks and roots there were unrideable.  We were told later that we were riding the downhill trails backwards… although I wouldn’t want to ride them either way!  They were more of a climb with a bike than a hike a bike!!  The trails started to open up a bit towards the end and I was starting to enjoy the single track a little more.  The finish line came quick and it was over.  I managed to finish in 3:36 for 3rd in SS and 3Rd overall in SS and 48th overall for the day.
1 km To Go!

In the big picture I was 41st overall for the event and my time would have put me 8th in my age group.  Overall, I am happy I did the race, but it would take a lot of convincing to get me to do something like this again.  It was an adventure that I won’t forget.  It’s fun to challenge yourself and be in situations where you meet new and different people.

Interesting side note:  The White Pines camp where we stayed was where the movie Meatballs was filmed.  I still need to watch the movie again, but the trailer shows the food hall that we at in.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Addison Oak XC

I love the trail at Addison Oaks and always like to do at least one race there.  The weather was perfect, so I arrived early and watched the Expert/Elite race.  Ron was tearing it up in Elite!!  It was also good to see Herriman back racing.   

A couple observations... the Elite field was small, but the 40-49 was 29 strong and the 50+ was 18 strong... Old fast guys coming out to play?!  The 40-49 class had some of the fastest times in the expert classes.  It would have been fun to mix it up in the Expert class, but I needed some time on the SS before heading to Crank the Shield the next weekend.  

After warming up, I rolled up to the line to see that the front row was already packed.  I found a wheel that I thought would be fast and waited.  I was a bit nervous as I hadn't ever raced the SS in a XC venue and wasn't sure what to expect.  I was questioning my ability to push a bigger gear and just hoping not to blow out my knees or quads before the finish!

The start was slower than anticipated and I made it to P4 before the first climb after brushing elbows with a few guys that didn't like being passed.  The climb was manageable and once in the single track the pace seemed pretty slow.  I tried to make a pass in an open area and a guy didn't like it and about put me off the trail, so I just tucked back in and waited.  At the next opportunity I decided to pass the group (instead of just one guy), pushed the pace and ended up riding alone.  At the end of the asphalt section, part of the group rolled up.  This was a little disheartening, but it was what it was.  I later found out that the guy that came in second wasn’t happy racing for second and ended up pulling the group up to me on the long 2-track section.  I led going back into the single track and set a comfortably hard pace.  The group was quickly slimmed down to me and just one other guy.  We swapped pulls the rest of the race.  He tried to drop me a few times, but I had decided to let it come down to a sprint.  We had a lot of traffic on the last lap, but somehow managed to come through without incident. 

On the last lap, I made sure I pulled the last single track section and put him in front of me on the sprint. and pulled around him by a half wheel at the line for the win.  We were coming to the line with some sport guys and I was thinking we might crash, but somehow everyone came out unscathed!  

Win or lose... it was one of the best races I have ever had.

Video of Finish (Thanks Alex!)

Sport/SS Results

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Road Wrap-up 2012

Tour de Gaslight
The main purpose for doing this race was to get Sushi in GR at Mikado, because they make this roll that is to die for!   The CAT3 race was moved to the end of the day, so after sleeping in, Mary Ann and I headed to the race.  After sitting at Starbucks, talking and watching racing, it was time to warm up.  At this point, I wasn’t as excited to race and the weather was not looking as good as it did earlier.  As we lined up, it started to rain.  Most guys let air out of their tires, but due to my extenders, this wasn’t an option.  Right from the start, we were hitting it hard and caused a separation.  After about 20mins and a few close calls sliding on the painted lines and a guy going down in front of me, I had to back off a bit.  I was now riding on my own just trying to hold my ground.  A few laps later, I was joined by a small group and we rode together.  As the main pack caught and went by us, I jumped on the back and rode the final 2 laps out.  There were a lot of wrecks and people that DNF’d.  I was lucky to keep the rubber side down and ended up 16th out of 24 that finished.

Birmingham Bikefest
I had a lot of fun at this race last year and was looking forward to it.  We got there early to cheer on some friends in the CAT4 and CAT5 races.  There were a lot of top guys at the race and I quickly realized, it was going to be fast.  There were attacks from the gun and the group was strung out for a lot of the race.  I found myself no in the race mentally… my head was thinking about CX and Crank the Shield.  I moved around a bit during the race, but was never a factor.  I sat up for the sprint and rolled across for 22nd out of the 35 starters.

This concludes my road racing for the year.  I am happy with my performance overall and I made it to CAT3, which was my primary goal.  I am still learning at every race and will be looking forward to testing myself next year and hope to be more of a factor in CAT3.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ore 2 Shore

At the Start...

After suffering through this race last year with little training and a mechanical, I felt I had to come back and race it again!!  This year Mary Ann was going to do the Soft Rock and enjoy herself instead of suffering through the hard rock.  We took an extra day off this year so we could enjoy the weekend and not feel rushed.  Unfortunately… Mary Ann crashed hard at Maybury the Tuesday before the race and was not able to ride.  She was pretty bummed… so I guess this guarantees that we will be headed back up next year so she can do the race!  We packed up and had an uneventful drive up and then I met up with Jim Bonnell and Jay Click for a preride of the start and then finish.  The trail was dry and sandy which wasn’t a surprise as that seems to be a theme for the trails this year.  After a nice walk and dinner with Mary Ann, I was out and dreaming of inhaling sand and ore dust.

I am a “get to the start line early guy”, but this race amazes me as with more than an hour and a half till the race start, people had bikes in the starting grid.  I’m not talking about 1 or 2… but 50 or 60!  A cool aspect to the race is that they have a preferred start area for people with finishing times that would put them in the top 50-75 of the race.  With my lack luster 2:56 time last year, I was not one of the lucky ones.  I warmed up and then placed my bike towards the front leaning it against the curb on the outside.  Once we moved up for the start, I managed to be in an ok position. 

The start was fast… I pinned it up the hill out of town to get with the lead group.  This worked until a couple guys got together and when down before we were even out of town.  I had to almost stop and then pin it again to get back with the group.  There were a couple more close calls on the pavement and then when we hit the dirt there was another pile up!  I rode around it and then chased all the way to the luge climb.  I saw Jim a couple times during the chaos on the road, but lost sight after the wreck in the dirt.  Once on the luge climb, I saw Jim about half way up the first portion and made it my mission to not let him out of sight!  I was yo-yoing off the back of the group heading to Ishpeming, but managed to claw my way to the group by the time we hit town.

At the finish... Mary Ann thought the dirt on my grill was cool!
I was trying to recover in the group and then the lead guys made a wrong turn and there was a small pile up.  Once back on track, everyone was pinning it and I was just hanging on for life.  The 2 track was sandy and everyone was sliding around trying to maintain a reasonable pace.  Once in the power-line section things settled down and everyone was grinding away at their own pace.  I was able to advance my position a little through this section, but so was Jim.  Once at Misery hill, I pushed up the hill and passed a few people.  I could see Jim ahead and he was going out alone trying to catch the group ahead.  I latched on to a guy that was going pretty good and a group pulled together just before the road section and started to work together.  Jim back off and joined the group.

Jim and I at the Finish!

Once we hit the road climbs our group started to whittle down and we caught a larger group that contained Jimmie Colflesh.  The pace slowed over the second climb and I could see a small group ahead of us.  I attacked on the downhill to try and reel them in.  Jimmie jumped with me and as I eased up, he came around with Jim on his wheel.  I jumped on and we stayed together all the way to the 2 track.  The 3 of us rode with one other guy all the way to wood chip hill (Which should be name sand hill as it was pretty sandy and loose this year!).  I was pretty maxed out hanging to this point with Jimmie doing most of the pulling.  Jim and Jimmie got a gap on the wood chip hill as I took a bad line at the top to get around someone.  They took off through the final single track sections and I was starting to feel gassed and was taking bad lines.  I backed off a little and was caught by another rider.  It motivated me to push a little harder.  I eventually caught him, rode his wheel to the finish and went around him almost cramping in the process.

I rolled across the line with a time of 2:48 for 59th in the mens open class and 64th over all.  I learned a lot this year and had a great time racing with Jim and Jimmie.  I am looking forward to racing next year and hopefully my time will net me a preferred starting position!!

Mary Ann trying to Ice her elbow!  LOL!!
At the top of Sugar Loaf!
After the race, Mary Ann and I had a lot of great food at the Portside Inn and Elizabeth’s chop house and had a great time walking around downtown.  The next day I headed out to ride the Marquette Mountain trails.  I rode all the loops out there and had a great time.  The trails are very well maintained and have a lot of cool features and challenges!!   We then headed to Sugar Loaf and hiked up to take in the views and hung out at Presque Isle Park.  The weather was perfect as was the company!

Adventures in CAT3

My CAT3 upgrade was approve the end of June!  This was one of my major goals for the year, so this was a big relief.  This allowed me to take some time off the bike and relax a little.  I really needed a mental break as I was pretty smoked from all the spring road races and then Lumberjack on the SS.  Getting ramped back up was a little rough, but after a solid week of training while on vacation, I was feeling like my form was coming back.  

Waterford Worlds (7/18)
After coming back from vacation, I headed over to the Waterford to test my legs in the A race.  I had attempted this once right after Lumberjack, but dropped out as the legs were dead and my heart wasn’t in it.  This time I was fresh off of a break with a solid training block and ready to go.  There was a pretty large group and the pace was high from the word go.  I think we passed the B race at about the 15-20min mark and almost passed them again just before the end of their race an hour in!!  I was able to move around and was at the front of the peloton a few times, but not really a factor in the race.  I was feeling good until just after the hour mark where they called a prime and all hell broke loose!  I don’t think there was a peloton for about 3-4 laps, just groups of guys trying to hang on to whatever wheel they could find.  It mostly came back together and I rolled in with the group for 20th.  The race was fun with an avg speed of 26.5mph… I have work to do!  Hopefully by next year I can be more than just pack fodder.

Le Champion Pave
This race was my first CAT3 race.  I didn’t race here last year and didn’t know what to expect with the rough brick paver section on the main drag in downtown Flint.  Part of the reason for working to get to CAT3 was to have teammates.  Collin, Josh and I talked and put together some basic guidelines for how we were going to race.  The race started out pretty mellow outside of me missing my pedal and having to push to get back to the front of the group.  Brian Wachlarz went solo immediately and we let him dangle.  I decided to open up my legs and chase him down on a prime lap.  I didn’t catch him in time, but pulled him back to the peloton.  Collin then got in a break, so Josh and I covered attacks and slowed the peloton.  They called a prime for the peloton and Josh hit it hard and won it with ease.   About 30min in, Brain Bangma made a hard attack and I went after him along with John Gracely.  This formed a second break of 4 after Chris Abston bridged up shortly after.  Not wanting the peloton to catch us on the last lap, Brian said he would pull the back straight if someone would pull the front.  I went to the front and pulled the first half of the lap… then suffered to hang on the back half.  I ended up finishing 3rd in our break and 8th overall.  Collin finished 4th and Josh won the field sprint for 10th.  It was a good showing for the team!

Waterford Worlds (8/1)
I was feeling pretty good and looking forward to mixing it up with the fast guys.  The start was hard, but eased up to a comfortable pace.  I really started feeling good near the hour mark, but the B race had a bad crash at the sprint and they ended up calling our race.  It’s never good to see your friends lying on the ground.  There was a lot of road rash, but everyone seemed to make it out ok except Antonio who went to the hospital with broken ribs and vertebrae.  It appears as though he is going to make a full recovery, but it was a reminder to all how dangerous this sport can be.

Waterford Worlds (8/15)
After some races in the dirt, I was back on skinny tires.  I was feeling pretty good after O2S and looking forward to another sufferfest with the fast guys.  This race was different as nobody was letting the breaks go since the purse was doubled up since the last race was called prior to the finish.  This was also the last race of the season, so the sprinters teams wanted to give their guys a chance at the season points win.  I was able to move around and never felt like I was in trouble.  I even made a short break or two, but they didn’t go anywhere.   Coming into the finish I was in a reasonable position, but I was on the outside and the peloton pushed to the left putting me into the grass.  I could have pushed back, but wasn’t looking to go down.  I chalked it up as CX practice and rode up to the peloton and rolled in to the finish.

Tour de Gaslight
This was my worst race last year as I did the USACycling race in GR the day before and was spent getting popped the last lap in the CAT4 race.  I was hoping for a better finish this year.  Josh, Collin and I lined up with the same plan as Le Champion Pave… but the rain started to come down as we were getting ready to start.  A lot of guys dropped their tire pressures, but with my extenders, it wasn’t possible at the line.  I figured how bad could it be…?!  Well… the start was ballistic and there was an immediate split!!  I was riding with the front group, but my back wheel was drifting a lot and I had to ease up on the turns.  About 15 minutes in, the back wheel went out hard, but I recovered and I had to back it down a little more.  At this point I was tail gunning and then an East Hills Velo guy hit the pavement in front of me.  I chased hard for a lap and then just when into TT mode.  I looked back and saw a group of 3, so I eased up and rode with them for a bit.  When I saw that we were going to get lapped, I went hard and then latch on to the back of the main pack for a lap and a half and rolled in for 16th.  Josh and Collin both finished in the top 10 at 6th and 10th respectively.  I am not completely disappointed with my performance as a lot of guys dropped out of the race and I stuck with it.  I learned that I need to be able to drop my tire pressure at the line, so I will be purchasing extenders that I can easily do this with.  I also had just finished a long block of training and racing, so maybe if I were fresher, I could have held on to the main pack.  This race will definitely be on the calendar next year…

The road season is pretty much over for me as I will be focusing on Crank the Shield over the next few weeks.  I will be headed to the Birmingham Bikefest and the Devos Crit on Labor Day, but they will be used more as training.   CX is around the corner and I am excited to mix it up in the B’s and possibly the Masters 35+.   

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Catching up: Back in the Dirt

Lumberjack 100
I am not sure what I was thinking when I signed up for this race… and really don't know what I was thinking when I switch my entry to SS!! The last time I did a 100 miler was Lumberjack in 2010 on my geared bike and finished in 8:25. I set a goal to be under 8hrs this year, but I wasn't sure how the SS thing would fit in to the equation. After the typical debate about what gear to run, I decided to keep the same gear I have been running. Mostly because that is what I have and didn't want to buy a different cog… so 56 gear inch it is. I lined up near the front and kept up by spinning at 150rpm as we cruised down the road at 22-25mph!! A guy in a black van that didn't want to wait for us to get off the road decided to pull in the park road, thus being swarmed by hundreds of bikes. Lucky he didn't hit anyone… what an idiot. Entering the single track was uneventful and the pace was steady till we hit the first climb. I took the left hand line and pass a lot of people grinding up the slow steady climb. Shortly after things started to spread out and I found myself riding with Mike Seaman who was going at similar pace as I was. We ended up riding the whole first lap together and most of the second. My buddy Dave Messing also joined our group before the rest area. Things were going good and I felt like the pace was manageable until another SS guy passed us and I jump on his wheel. By the end of the first lap, I could start feeling the efforts and still had 2 more laps left. Mike and Dave where right there again and we continued to ride together. The heat and humidity were really rising and it was starting to feel like I was in an oven!! I was gapped at Fire tower road and ended up riding in the lap solo. At this point, I knew my goal of under 8hrs was not going to be achievable without a negative split, which wasn't' going to happen. I caught Dave on the third lap and rode with him until he stopped at the aid station. Wanting to just "get it over with", I pushed to the finish. I rolled through with a time of 8:11, which was good for 12th out of 47 SS guys. All in all I had a good time, but it will probably be a while before signing up for another 100miler in the dirt.

Tree Farm Relay
The Crater
I look forward to this race (if it can really be called that) every year. It brings out just about everyone in the scene that just likes to ride their bike and have some competitive fun. It has 4 person Mens, womens and mixed categories with 4 lap and 8 lap distances. This year I wanted to get some of the faster guys on the team together to have some fun and challenge the top teams. It was then suggested that we put together a team of all SS bikes. This seemed to fared well with the group and the team ended up consisting of Collin, Josh, Todd and myself on the team. The team name of "One Ring to Rule Them All" was chosen and we were joking around about dressing up, but decided not to. The race starts in a Leman style with everyone running down the hill and jumping on their bikes. Collin was the lead out guy and was near the front at the start. Collin rolled through in 4th place due to a nasty crash, but he was ok. I took the second leg and immediately passed the guy in 3rd and was chasing the guy in 2nd. I was holding the gap, but struggling to make up any ground crashing at one point when my front tire slid out. I handed it off to Todd who caught 2nd with a solid lap. Josh hammered his lap making up more ground on 1st. Collin managed to catch 1st on his second lap and the rest of us just worked to extend the lead!! It was a solid team effort with very consistent lap times that brought home the win!! It was also great to be able to hang out enjoy the beautiful day with friends. This was Mary Ann's first MTB race and even though her team didn't place well she impressed everyone with a really fast time!! I think she is hooked!!
Double Log Pile in Expert Loop
Brighton XC Race
I wasn't originally going to do this race, but since I haven't been on my geared bike all year and Ore 2 Shore coming up, I thought it would be a good idea. This would be the first expert 40-49 race for me. I have been watching this class and knew who the players were, but not sure how I would stack up. DC and the Wiz were signed up and I knew they were out of my league, so I focused on finishing as close to them as possible. Everyone was lined up when I got to the staging area, but a couple of guys let me roll to the front row, which was cool. The start was quick but not unmanageable with DC and Wiz riding up front and Selle and Charles close behind. The group split at the first hill and Selle, Charles and I fell off the pace. The three of us rode the whole first lap, picking off riders from earlier groups. We were cruising through the last section when I caught a tree with my handle bar and crashed. Selle and Charles eased up to make sure I was ok and then continued on. I got up, evaluated myself and put my chain back on, then started to chase. Halfway through the 3rd lap I caught them along with Osgood and Lako. The 5 of us rode for a while till Osgood dropped his chain on a climb, the 4 of us continued. I knew I would have to hit the hills hard to put a gap on these guys, so I went around them at the start/finish and got on Lako's wheel to better position myself. Once we hit the climbs Lako and I were both pushing the pace, he let me go around on the second climb and I put in a big effort on the gully climb creating the gap. I was keeping a solid pace until the short punch climbs and started to cramp. I kept pushing while nursing the climbs a little. Lako rolled up near the end and offered some encouragement to push to the finish. Ended up finish 3rd behind DC and Wiz, not a bad day on the bike!

Catching up (Again): Spring Road Racing

West Michigan Stage Race

Saturday morning's TT was a cool out and back route just outside of Ada along the river. The road was a little busy and rough in spots but a fun rolling course. I was rocking teammates Trek TTX and all the TT goodies (I need all the help I can get!). I hit it hard at the start and settled into a good pace... I was using a power meter to pace and was hitting the number I was shooting for. The turnaround came quick and I was starting to feel good and stepped it up on the way back and then sprint into the finish. I was happy with my time for the 7.2mile course (16:52), but felt I had too much in the tank at the end. I was hoping for top 5 or better, but was still happy with 9th out of the 75 guys and less than 20s out of 3rd.

The Crit on Saturday was technical and I was a little nervous about guys being sketchy in the corners. I got there early and rode the loop for about 20min and felt good about the course. As we did our warm up laps, I worked a little to get to the front for the start. I ended up 3rd row. The start wasn't too bad and the pace was steady. Guys were being pretty smooth in the corners... at least at the front. The pace stayed fast for most of the race. When it slowed I rolled off the front and pushed... one guy came with me and we rotated a couple times. When he slowed, I went back to the front and pushed it again. I looked back and we weren't shaking anyone near the front, so I eased up and sat in. I ended up too far back and wasn't aggressive enough at getting back to front and ending up rolling in 12th. Everyone got the same time for the crit (outside of a prime and the top 3 getting time bonus... this was bs, as we dropped a big group and half the field was pulled.)

I was told the RR has some hills, so I was hoping to shake things up. The first longish (for Michigan) climb was about a mile from the start. I was sitting too far back and having a hard time moving up due to the guys in front being content to just go for a ride. Things thinned out when someone attacked off the front freeing up the left side... I made my move and went straight to the front and started to set the pace on the climb. Shortly after, a guy came around and I jump on his wheel. There were about 4 of us up front setting the pace. When the pace slowed on the down hills, I would jump to the front and crank up the pace. I was hoping for a big separation, but it really didn't happen. As I sat in for a while, I got blocked by the riders and it took a wreck up front for me to get back with the guys in front. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. I was looking around and thinking that if this was a 2 lap race, it would be more to my advantage. As we approached the sprint I moved up... but ended up behind the slow train and by the time I got open road, it was too late. 14th on the road... but didn't lose any significant time.

Ended up moving up to 7th overall... it was a fun weekend and I plan on doing it again next year!

Waterford Worlds

There was a big group 40+ in the B race with the sky turning black. The rain rolled in right as the race started. Dominick joined me in the B race and made an early break while I sat in the field, but were pulled back. Shortly after Stefano from the Greyhounds was up the road along with 2 UofM John and Clay who are always strong. They looked like a good group, so I bridged up. Dominick rode my wheel and then eased up to give me a gap. Shortly after Paul from Team O2 bridged up and said let’s go... we had a solid group and a fairly smooth rotation and formed a big gap on the field. With 2 to go... everyone just rode out the last laps waiting for someone to make a move. I could tell John was more of a sprinter and I wanted to be on his wheel, but he ended up being on the outside of the last corner and I was on the inside. I couldn't see him till after he jumped first and I couldn't make up the gap and rolled in for second. Fun/hard race!

Frankenmuth RR

My team mate Jim and I met up and went for a warm up ride. He was excited about racing with his new wheels, which looked sweet on his bike (Which is the most important part right?!). During the warm-up he had a front flat and had to borrow my spare wheel. The start was pretty uneventful, other than the fact that when it is really wet. I quickly learned that carbon brake tracks and cork pads have very little braking power when wet. The solution was to go towards the front to avoid the surges. The leadout guys were working the front the whole first lap along with some AAVC guys. I put in a few good pulls to liven things up and to warm up the legs. AAVC put in an attack near the end of the first lap and I thought it was going to separate the field... but it didn't. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful and it was pretty obvious that it was going to come down to a sprint. I was in a good position the whole last lap, but at the last right hander there were a bunch of guys trying to get at the front. Last year, this caused a wreck, so I throttled back a little. I was riding mid pack near the centerline getting boxed in. As we approached the "hill", I saw my line to the right and took it. As I made it to the front 15-20 guys, I saw Jim roll to the side of the road with another flat! This sucks as he was in the front 5 and probably would have finished on the podium. At this point I had to put the hammer down to catch the front guys... after the race Shawn Schaffert said he was on my wheel from the hill before the corner and said multiple times "we passed a lot of people". Rolling into the finish I wasn't sure where I was in the group and I also wasn't 100% sure where the actual finish line was!! Couple guys said they thought I won, but after looking at the video, I lost by a tire. One step closer to CAT3…

West Branch

Saturday RR

Wet, Cold and miserable. I wasn’t feeling 100% coming into this race as I had been having some stomach issues, but this is one of my favorite road races. My goal was to stay towards the front on the first lap. The pace was pretty slow, so I made an attack to liven things up. The pace headed into the hill at the end of the first lap was pretty fast as a group broke away and we were chasing. This thinned the group after the hill which made it easier to breathe and move around in the peloton. I had a good position coming into the hill on the finish... but didn't have the legs to do anything and finished 13th.

Sunday Crit

I got a long warm up in and the legs were feeling much better. The pace was fast (26+mph) and the group thinned out pretty quick. I focused on riding near the front and took a few pulls and bridged a few attacks. Some CFT guys and an Einstein guy were keeping the pace high. I had a reasonable position coming into the final turn when a guy called "middle" and about wreck a couple of us... WTF? Didn't hit it soon enough, but pulled in enough guys to finish 5th.  I think at some of these races, I need to start hitting it earlier and riding people off my wheel, instead of following wheels in the sprint.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cone Azalia

Arianna at the Start

After showing up to Willow late and Arianna missing her start time, we rolled out early to make sure we had plenty of time. The weather was perfect and the reports on the course conditions were that they were as good as dirt country roads were going to get. After a tire pressure discussion… low for comfort, high for pinch flat protection, I split the difference and warmed up. Arianna was pretty nervous about the mass start, but was excited to do her second race on her road bike. I told her to just try and stay on a wheel as long as possible and then ride the rest of the course as fast as she could.

You can see me hiding about 3/4 of
 the way back
I ended up starting in the middle to back of the 50 man field (Not where I wanted to be). As soon as we hit the dirt, the guys at the front of the race where on a mission and I was struggling to keep with the lead group. There was a pretty large group of AAVC guys along with another team in a black kit... not sure what the name was. On the second lap, the Assemacher guys put in an attack at the RR crossing which pretty much shredded the field... I almost dropped out of the lead group during this as my legs were dead, but I said “Shut up”. The group was usually pretty chill on the final stretch of road on each lap, due to the head wind, which gave some recovery and allowed me to advance my position. Everyone must have been tired on the last lap as the pace eased up and most of the attacks were easily covered... except one which ended in the winning break of 2. The pack chased a little but no one had it in them to chase it down. As the pack rolled down the final stretch I was sitting in the top 10. No one went "really" early, but the Greyhound train jumped first (Although it didn't last long) and I started to find wheels to jump on. I latched on to Terry Bishop from TCC as I recognized from the velodrome and he seemed to have a diesel like motor. This allowed me to maintaining a good position towards the front of the pack. I saw the pack start to ease up and Terry hesitated a second, then just put his head down. Another guy pulled up to my right and as soon as I saw some guys to my left, I put the hammer down. Guys were popping left and right... a big guy dieseled by and I put in one more effort and managed 3rd in the pack and 5th overall.

It was probably the hardest RR, I have ever done. It was a Crit pace for most of the race...

Arianna said she stayed with one guy and then hammered the rest out. She must really be pro, as when we passed her, she had her team car following!

Only girl in the field!

It was cool to see a lot of Trails Edge guys out at the race!! Congrats to John Osgood and Todd Greene for having great performances in CAT5… hope to see you guys at more races!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Catching up…

Since I got bashed for being too wordy on the last post… I will keep this short. Well, at least for each individual race.

Waterford/AAVC training races:
It was good to get out and hammer a little on the road bike to test the legs. Waterford went pretty well, nothing too exciting as I just sat in for the most part as I wanted to practice positioning. I rode up from home thanks to a little motivation from Adam York, which was a good warm up. It was quite the urban adventure. The race went well and I never felt in distress. I was about 10th wheel through the S at the end, didn’t have to check the brakes (This was a first) and sprinted to a 4th place finish. Rode home with another group that came up to watch, it was nice to have a little company and a larger group to be more visible.

AAVC was fast and furious with Rainman constantly attacking… I wanted to just sit in, but found myself chasing a lot. There was a wreck at the first corner on the first or second lap, which always makes you think a little. I stayed towards the front, but had nothing for the uphill sprint and finished in the pack for 18th.

Yankee TT:
I was pretty excited for this race as it would be my first SS race. I rode 3 laps the week before, so I felt I had a pretty good feel for the trail. My warm up went good and my legs were ready to go. I preregistered early so I had a reasonable starting position. I felt good from the start and managed my efforts well. I passed a fair amount of people and cleared all the climbs. I knew I was close to being under 50 mins (Which was one of my goals), so I pushed hard at the end of the first lap and made it just under at 49:56. I backed off slightly the second lap but kept the effort steady and tried to be smooth. Passed some more guys and had yet to be passed, which is always a good feeling. I cleared everything the second lap except the belt climb as a geared guy was going too slow and I had to hesitate and stalled. I finished the lap strong for a 51:05 min lap. Last year there were only 3 laps under 50mins in SS, so I thought that I would place pretty well. When I looked at the results, I was 9th out of 26 guys. A little disappointing at first but the spread from 10th to 5th was only a minute which indicated a high level of competition. I was happy that I ran my fastest lap ever at Yankee and had a great time. My new Quiring SS is the best riding bike I have ridden. I can’t wait to get some more time on it.

Willow TT:
This is a fun race that my friend Wayne got me doing. He does Ironmans and Triathlons, so he is all about the TT bike and going fast. I did this race last year and had fun. I had a “ghetto” TT set-up on my road bike (Aerobars) and borrowed an aero wheel and helmet. It was fun, but my results were just ok at 33:58 and 23.4 mph. This year I was lucky enough to borrow a demo Felt B12 from Roll Models Bike to see what I could do. My friend Tony also lent me his Zipp Sub9 rear disk for the set up. Mark got me fitted up on the bike and I did a few rides to try and get comfortable on it. I decided that I needed a support for my head!!

Arianna was also going to do the event on her new bike, so we got up early, loaded up and head down. Arianna went first and finished in 1:02:42 for 2nd place in the girls 10-12 class. I was feeling pretty good and rolled out strong but quickly found that the TT position was work my legs in a weird way so I backed off a little. After a couple laps, I was feeling comfortable and was maintaining a good pace. I rolled across with a time of 31:11 with an avg speed of 25.5mph… which was only 3 sec slower than the winner last year. I felt pretty good about the time and figured I would be in the top 5, but it was only good for 7th in CAT4. Again, the competition was high and 3rd place was only 16s faster! Still a great time and going fast is fun… although I was really happy to be back on my road bike!

Pontiac Lake TT:
I love racing at Pontiac Lake. It is a fast and flowing trail with a little bit of everything. I did an easy lap earlier in the week, but wasn’t sure how I would feel at race pace on the SS. I was also a little unsure about how my legs would respond to back to back races, but they seemed be up to the task. I had preregistered early, as did Patrick Russell, so we were the first SS riders out. I took the lead at the start and set the pace for the first 3 miles or so. I could hear him behind me the whole time and especially on the climbs. He called out to pass and I let him by… but jumped on his wheel. We yo-yoed a bit as he was stronger in some areas and I was stronger in others. As we got near the end, I could tell he was slowing a little as I would buzz his tire on some climbs. He was a competitor though and wasn’t going to let me by! As we got near the end, I let my inner roadie take over and just rode his wheel and let it come down to a sprint. I barely edged him out… probably could have called it a tie. It was a great race. We both set our fastest laps at Pontiac with a 40:40 finishing 2nd and 3rd. It was fun day with perfect weather!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Barry Roubaix 2012

First race of the year is out of the way. I must admit I was nervous about how this was going to go. With no intervals on the legs at this point in the program, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when things got amped up and the hills started coming. The good part was that I had been sleeping well and my legs felt pretty fresh. I got up early and drove over the day of with plenty of time to get ready and socialize a little. With 1500 people all trying to warm up at one time in the parking lot, I am surprised there weren’t any incidents… at least that I know of!

I lined up early to get a front row spot, as I knew that Sager Rd. was going to be a parking lot. I saw a few of the major players’ right there with me… Simon, Osgood, JMak, Messing and McKibbons. This was Simon’s kind of race, so I knew he was the guy to keep in my sights. The neutral roll out heading out the main park road was pretty mellow. We turned onto the main road and the pace amped up. I stayed towards the front on the pavement and all the way to Sager. I knew we were in trouble when we were catching wave two people almost a mile before Sager. As we rolled into Sager, it was hard to tell who was in what group. It was 4 wide with people riding really slow, walking or crashing. I picked the left line and someone immediately stopped in front of me. I jumped off the bike and started to run. I was forced off my bike once more before getting out of the sandy 2 track and on to the gravel road.

At this point, I had little to no frame of reference as to where I was in the group… so I just buried myself until I could find a group that I recognized. After almost losing it at the blind left a few miles up the road, I found my group. I could see my teammate Josh, as well as McKibbons, Messing and Osgood. I caught the group and recovered a bit. We hammered along until the wall and then the group thinned out a bit. Messing, Osgood, McKibbons and I were still together and would keep the pace high. After a while JMak showed up to the party and would join the group. At one point a couple guys got together right in front of me and went down, but I managed to avoid it, as did Messing! The rest of the race was a little bit of a blur, till the Sager/Shaw saga towards the end of the race. At this point, I don’t remember much about the people around me other than they were slow and riding odd looking bikes with racks and handle bars that seem to be at shoulder height?! I realized at this point that we had caught the 24 mile group. We were dodging puddle, people and sand pits till there was nothing but sand, at which time I dismounted and started running. I am NOT a runner, so I was expecting the other guys to just run on by me… but it didn’t happen. I walk for a few secs here and there, as I was certain that my calves were going to cramp. As we topped the hill on Shaw the only one by me was JMak. We both mounted and hammered down through the puddles and sand on the other side of the hill headed for the pavement all the way dodging odd looking bikes.

Once we made the turn onto the pavement I could see McKibbons with a group just up the road. I also knew that once I got over this climb it was mostly downhill to the finish. I put the hammer down and slowly closed the gap. Once we got over the top, I was assisted by some guys and closed the gap to McKibbons. Shortly after Messing and JMak join back on. Messing didn’t like the pace, so he went to the front and pulled us to the park entrance. There were a few moves, but all were covered quickly. In 2010, I went too early (At the end of the bridge)… so this year, I decided to wait till the end of the parking lot. I made my move and laid down everything I had left… I kept waiting for the finish line to show up but it didn’t come soon enough and as my legs started peddling squares and a few guys went by. I put in one last burst and managed to hold on for a middle pack finish. Next year, I will cover moves and wait till I can see the finish banner!

Finish time was 1:50:41 with an average speed of 19.5mph which was good for 6th place in my age group and tied for 31st overall in the 36 mile race. This was an improvement of almost 1mph avg and 4.5 mins over my finish in 2010 which didn’t have the second Sager/Shaw section. I will always remember this race as I got to ride/race with my friends for almost the whole race!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Winter Training Update...

First train block is almost complete, so I figured I would put some thoughts on paper…. or at least virtual paper. One of my training goals this year was to have a more structured approach. Part of what I wanted to do within the structure is to do a “push up” approach instead of a “pull up” one. For those that don’t know these terms, it has to do with how you achieve better functional threshold power or FTP. The “pull up” approach is where you focus on threshold power and above to raise your FTP by improving the anaerobic portion. This has been more or less the approach I have taken as it is easier to do hard short intervals and/or basically ride hard all the time. This works great for short term gains, but you hit a wall and then crash and burn part way through the season. The “push up” approach starts with a base phase that is composed of longer easier rides that build muscle endurance and efficiency. This process builds the aerobic engine which makes up the other part of the fueling of the muscles at FTP. The first step is to build a “base” (i.e. Base Miles), which will be the foundation for the harder efforts later on. Since base is mainly endurance riding, the time on the bike is\can be a lot longer in order to stress the system. To accomplish this, Brian and I decided it would be best to ride in the morning before work. I was a little apprehensive about this (5AM or earlier is well... early!), but it has worked out for the most part thus far. It’s nice to ride when your legs are fresh in the AM and your mind isn’t stressed from the day’s events. It also is nice to have time in the evening to spend with Mary Ann and the kids, without thinking about having to get on the bike.

The hours on the bike, year to date, have been pretty crazy relative to years past. To give a relative indicator, I have ridden almost as many hours this year as I did the first 6 months of last year!! The cool part is that I have actually been able to put a fair amount of the time in outside. I am finally starting to get this cold weather clothing choice dialed in to where I can be comfortable, although hopefully most of the cold is behind us!

Barry Roubaix is coming and since it is not an “A” race, I am not doing any specific training. It will be interesting to see how well I can manage my matches on the hills with no top end training. I am excited to see how the time on the bike thus far will translate into speed and time at the race.

See you guys in a couple weeks!

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012…The Season Ahead.

Last season was like a roller coaster with no winter training then ramping by "Racing" to Fitness training in April. I was reasonably fast by June, but then headed out west with Mary Ann and the kids followed by 2 weeks in New Zealand. When I got back to riding in August, not all cylinders were firing. Ramped back up by September, sick in October and then limped through the rest. I managed to keep riding during my off season time at least once a week and got some good ski time in with trips to Breckenridge and Utah!! Even bought new skis that are the bomb!!

The best part of the off season was proposing to Mary Ann at Breckenridge!! She is an incredible woman!! <3
Tucson, AZ Here We Come:
OK… back to cycling. Semi structured training started in January and went pretty good. Not a ton of hours on the bike but enough to maintain a reasonable amount of fitness and have some fun on the bike. My friend Wayne, Mary Ann and I headed to Tucson, AZ a few weeks ago to put in some miles to jump-start the season and plan for the year with my Coach Brian Matter of Momentum Endurance. We stayed at an awesome Bed and Breakfast called Jeremiah Inn near the base of Mt. Lemmon, Bob and Beth made sure we were fed very well each morning. Mary Ann brought her MTB and rode some trails on Thursday and Friday with Brian’s wife Andrea. Wayne and I did a fun out and back ride to Colossal Cave with a loop through Suguaro Park on the road bikes. Suguaro Park is like mountain biking for road bikes. The paved road had mostly short climbs with twisty turns, which we hammered through at speeds up to 34mph with one grinding climb at the end. Friday, Brian and I headed out to the Arizona trail for some MTB riding. I rented a BMC 29er from Pro Bike, which took a while to get used to. One of the “features” of the trails in this area is what Sam Schultz calls the 4th dimension… or also called Cactus! The trail snakes its way around tons of Cacti and the price for making a mistake is being stuck by the many different types of needles on the variety of Cactus on the side of the trail. Luckily, all of us manage to not get poked by any of them. The other feature of these trails is that rocks… lots and lots of rocks. Big ones, small ones, flat ones and round ones. It was very challenging in places as the pace was slow and you had to power your way over some rocky uphill areas. Saturday was the climb up Mt. Lemmon. I figured I would be spent and struggle, but was actually feeling pretty good. Mt. Lemmon is 8000ft at the highest point (On the main road, which you hit twice) and at the 0mile marker it is 2600ft for a total net climb of about 5400ft. The first peak is at mile marker 21 where there is a short downhill and then a climb back up to 8000 ft. Brian was saying it would take 2:45min to get to the top. I set a pace that I felt was sustainable and set a goal to not stop the whole way up. The views were breath taking and the change in vegetation as you went up in altitude was interesting. I even saw a guy rock climbing at about mile 12, which looked really fun!! The funny thing is that I said something to the climber and then Brian rolled up behind me out of no where thinking I was hollering to him, but never looked back to even know he was coming. I met my goal of not stopping the whole way up and finished the climb in under 2:30 and still felt good. I waited for the rest of the group, which ended up being just Wayne and Brian, since the women turned back at mile 18. I was really impressed with Mary Ann as she barely rides her bike and then goes on these crazy outings with me and does amazing. We inhaled a pizza and finished another guy’s cookie at the Cookie Cutter and then headed back down the mountain. The way down was interesting as I had not spent a lot of time at 30+ on my road bike and there was a lot of wind, so we took it easy for the first 10 miles. Once I got more comfortable and the wind calmed down a little, I started to push a little harder. The way down was little faster than the way up at about an hr with a peak speed of 46+mph. Total climbing for the day was around 6500ft! The last day, we did a short out and back that ended at LeBuzz which is the local biker hangout for coffee and other goodies. It was a great trip and Mary Ann and I plan on going back every year for a nice winter break! Another highlight of this trip was a place called Frost, which was a Gelato bar… we went every day!

Training and Racing:
So my real training starts now, this will be me for the next 4 weeks.

My first race of the year will be Barry Roubaix which will be here before we know it. I have no big expectations for this race. I finished well in 2010 and it would be nice to see an improved finishing time and avg. speed, but some of that will be dependant on conditions and whether I can get into and hang on in a good group as drafting is huge at this race. My real focus will be getting to CAT3 on the road this year and the road season doesn’t really start until May. I am even more excited about racing the road this season, as the MCG squad will be pretty strong in CAT4. Hopefully we can utilize some team tactics and get some wins. I wanted a change to liven up MTB racing, so I figured I would race SS. I rode my friend Chuck’s SS last year and had a great time; I have also been riding a SS winter bike. I should be getting delivery of my new Quiring SS in the next couple weeks. My SS debut will be at Yankee in April. Looking forward to a great year!!