Monday, September 24, 2012

good start - bad start

Cross season is here.  In one of the cyclingdirt interviews Tim Johnson mentioned how this is like the Christmas time in Belgium....a few less races, but way more travel.  It hurts more to travel that far and race 4 or 5 times in just a weeks time.

So after the 6 hour drive home from Chequamegon I basically had Monday to unpack, do laundry, repack, and switch from MTB season to cross season.  Thats a tough 24 hours in itself...add onto that the trip Vegas and back and it left me feeling a litte tattered heading into the first big weekend of racing at the USGP.

Everyone on the start line was in the same boat though so when they said go all those thoughts disappeared and we were back at it again.  It was fast and furious racing...even more so than Vegas with the dry hard ground and multiple corners there was no room for mistakes.

I had a good jump off of the line, but lost 10 spots around the first 5 corners.  That is not what I wanted....I was able to finish the race strong with a 9th place, but didn't give myself a chance to race with the top guys.

Same things Sunday so I am leaving the weekend with mixed emotions.  Fitness is good, fight is good, just not on the first half lap.  I think I'll get there with a little better prep, some more time on the bike, and some more skinny tire races under the belt.  Next up a trip to the East Coast!  Last time I did this race it was  2005 and it was rad!

I just remember watching Anne Knapp crying at the finish because her hands were so cold - Tristan and I both thought...can't be that bad - an hour later we were naked in the back of a mini-van uncontrollably shivering and in a world of pain!  Tristan has video - he would be cool if he could find it and post it up...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Culture Shock

Yep it was pure Culture Shock.  From flannels & Packers attire in Sheboygan to mini skirts & black leather.  45 degree ride Tuesday morning before the flight to 97 degrees plus temps.  Fat tires to skinny tires,  Limo's, Bright Lights, Big City...VEGAS!

I truly enjoyed it this time around, although its not my style at all.  I arrive to Vegas w/ a Limo waiting outside the airport and I thought to myself c'mon....but hey when in Vegas!

I arrived to the hotel and lugged the bike box past about 700 slot machines, I inhaled at least 4 or 5 cigarettes and made it to the room at about 7:00pm local time.  I was ready for bed because it was really 9:00pm back home.

I still had 2 hours till race time then next night so I decided to take a walk down the strip to acclimate to the new time zone.  I ran into Chloe randomly on the street corner and she was doing the same thing.  Late night dinner trying to adjust to this new time zone.  I hooked up with the Buermans and had a pretty tasty Burger and then went back to the hotel and crashed.

Wed morning I had to get out of the hotel room so I took a ride over to check out the course.  Broken glass lined the streets of the city that was just waking up from another big party.  It was a little scketchy riding my brand new Dura Ace tubulars down the gutters of Vegas, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  I pedaled around for 1:30 and got in a few laps on the course.  Standard Vegas race course - thick power sapping grass.

I made it back to the hotel just in time to go for a 3 hour hike down to the Sands Expo Center and check out the big Interbike show.  It was pretty sweet to see all sorts of old friends who I haven't seen in a really long time.  I also got to meet many of my sponsors in person for the first time.  After 2 hours at the show I was smashed and had to go back to the hotel.

Then it was go time.  I wasn't nervous, I felt good and I had a pretty good go.  15th place.  I missed one split that I would have liked to make, but I kep fighting and caught a lot of guys who fell out of that lead group.  I'm leaving satisfied, but more motivated knowing I can do better.

Watch more video of 2012 CrossVegas Cyclocross on

After a late night breakfast for dinner w/ my SIL Elicia it was back to Cicrus Cicus at 2:00am and boxing up my bike I was finally in bed at 3:00am.  3.5 hours later I was up and at 'em and waiting for my limo...thats right this time it was an Escalade!

Monday, September 17, 2012


This past weekend was the 30th Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 and it was my 10th attempt.  In 2003 I finished 3rd...this past weekend I finished 3rd.  Does that mean in 10 years I haven't improved at all?!?!

I don't think so...The competition is getting much tougher and the race course somehow gets easier and easier every year.  This year was no exception.  In my opinion we raced easier than last year, yet still broke the course record by 20 or 30 seconds.

My race left me with mixed emotions, but the reality of it was it was a great weekend.  It's hard to be the 3 time defending champion and be happy with a 3rd place.  I wanted to win, but my mental desire wasn't strong enough with my head in the clouds during the race dreaming of cross season.

I really thought our huge leading group would separate at Martels Pothole and it started to snap, but when we came to Boedecker Rd it neutralized and we proceeded to race pretty slow for the next 20 minutes or so.  So slow that I found myself riding in 10th place and even drifting as far as 10 ft off the back of the group.  I wasn't in it mentally.  Mike Anderson came back to chat with me a little, but it didn't wake me the group made the right turn to Firetower I was in shock that I was so out of it I didn't even realize where we were on the race course.  Going up Firetower in 10th is not smart racing.  I started passing guys, first Mike Phillips, then Mike Olheiser after he opened the gap, but the gap was open.

In the past it would come back together on the descent, but this year it didn't.  I was starting to panic a little, but when we caught McCartney at the bottom I thought he was the ticket back to the lead 4 on the Birkie.  We got to within 10 seconds, but then Busche and Mike A started to check out.  Now we were a group of 5(Cole, Corey S, Me, McCartney, & Phillips) chasing 2.  I thought we would catch them going down Telemark Rd for sure and I was still trying to be patient.  Cole Flatted, Jason disappeared in a huge puddle, and Corey was hurting...Our group of 5 just went down to Phillips and I in a 1 mile time frame...2 on 2 and we didn't stand a chance.

I had to switch gears and start racing to salvage a podium.  Mission accomplished!  In my 10 years of Cheq I have been on the podium 7 times.  1 4th, and 1 7th (sprinting for 1st), I had one mechanical battling for 3rd and ended up stuck on the side of the trail and limping in for 17th.  Not bad!

This weekend more than anything I was proud of Andrea.  She has been shooting for a top 10 at Chequamegon for years and finally nailed it....10th place.  She attacked a girl on the last climb and beat her by 9 seconds!

Also proud of some of my Momentum Endurance Athletes.  Corey Stelljes 5th overall, Brett Poulton 2nd in the Short and Fat,Bob Clark 30 positions and 4 minutes faster than previous best,  Bill Street 75 positions better than previous best, Anthony Ferrara 10 minutes faster than previous best, Mike Carney 20 minutes faster than previous best, Greg Molnar on pace for PR before flatting.  All in all it was a great weekend.

Now its time to switch gears and get ready for cross season.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Doubling UP

It was a good opportunity to not race this weekend...I ended up on 2 start lines.  How could I pass up on a chance to head back up to the UP??  Something about racing up there just makes you feel good.  Its like the old days of racing....The other day my dad called me up and reminded me it has been 19 years since my very first race:  The Garland Hammer!  I finished 11th place in the Beginner 18 & under category.  Dad was 4th 35-44(I'm almost in that age group now)!

Garland Hammer Sept 6th 1993

Why I love racing in the UP.  It was 55 and raining when we got to the start line Friday night.  We were almost the only ones in the parking lot.  We wanted to pre-ride.  The course wasn't marked at all.  We pedaled around in the rain for 30 minutes...on the start of the short race course instead of the finish of the long course....oops.  We picked up our race numbers at the warming shed of the ski trails and then the smell hit me....homemade soup after a cold rainy bike ride in the can't beat it.  Two types of soup,  fresh homemade wood-fired bread, and it was free!  The soup was delicious and it was on par w/ some of the best soup I have ever had.  It made the trip to the UP totally worth it...

testing the new Bontrager CXC clothing in the rain!

The race was in Munising another plus.  A place we have never been.  They have a pretty awesome lake shore w/ tons of waterfalls and rock formations.
Oscor does Munising Falls
Picture Rocks - Miners Castle

The race itself was tough.  A super easy course that allowed for lots of drafting broken up by two 10-15 minute sections of singletrack in the middle.  I jammed the 2nd section of singletrack after a little adrenalin rush from a mid race crash.  I opened up some daylight, but when the singletrack ended on a 1 mile stretch of pancake flat railroad bed there was no way I was holding off the other 3 riders with 10 miles to go.

The last puddle with 50 meters to go...

It came down to a 4 man sprint.  It was probably the most hectic sprint I have been in....huge puddles easily taller than your front wheel on loamy ground with one line.  Cole hit the first puddle after all 4 of us almost went down.  I'm pretty sure the tidal wave almost took me out and the water covered his top tube.  I thought I was good with 50 meters to go when I was forced through the last puddle on the right again after all 4 of us almost crashed.  Its tough to win a sprint when your front wheel is under water with 50m to go....Mike Anderson took the win after hitting the right line through the water.  I was 3rd.

The Rock Garden @ Amy Dykema
I was a little dissapointed so I had to go do it again on Sunday.  This time I felt much better and got the W!  I was aggresive right from the start and lead up the first 2 steep climbs.  Cole blasted by on the 3rd and the lead group of 5 was formed.  Mike P was the first to go starting lap 2.  Mid way through Lap 2 Cole was gone after Shriver started pushing the pace.  Nathan G led for the first few minutes of Lap 3 until he crashed and then it was down to me and Shriver.  I pushed the pace a little starting the final lap, got a gap, and never looked back.  It felt good to wrap up my 4th overall WORS title with a WIN.

Thursday, September 06, 2012


I learned a new term from a good friend who I raced back in the day in MI...Trackin'....its like skillz on a bike, but its Trackin'...If you can't track in a straight line or around a corner you can't win a bike race....
Copper Harbor Trails- at the end of the world - peace and quiet - awesome trails -
in the middle of my chaotic storm of racing

Lately there has been a lot of trackin' going on....not only on the bike, but off the bike too.  You gotta have skillz to balance it all out.  WORS racing and calculating series points.  Building bikes and gluing tires. USGP cancelled, USGP back on, plane tickets and hotels for Vegas, Gloucester, and many more...its been a little crazy...I have raced the last 4 weekends in a row and most likely will race another 5 weekend before a Hawaiian vacation...don't worry though...I fly out to Hawaii the day after I fly home from Gloucester and when I get home a day later I'll fly to the USGP in Ft. Collins.  I love it....this is what all the hard work is all about...traveling all over the place and doing what I bikes.

We'll start off w/ Green Bay WORS...I really didn't want to race.  I was tired from Ore To Shore & Subaru Cup, but I thought it might be my last opportunity to get an 8th race in for the WORS series.  The race was very similar to last year and ended in a sprint finish with the same results.  Cole House just beating me at the line.  I'm hoping a 2nd place is good enough for my 4th WORS never know till the last race

After 3 hard weekends in a row Labor Day vacation couldn't have come at a better time.  Thursday after Andrea finished work we drove up for an awesome long weekend in Eagle River.  It was time for some much needed R & R, but the trails in Copper Harbor were just too tempting to pass up on Sunday.  With perfect weather we loaded up and drove in further north to pin on some more race numbers and ride some of the best trails in the WORLD.  Even Oscor had a blast at the Bell's Beer post race party!

We were back home Monday evening and it was back to the grind getting caught on coaching and trying to figure out if the USGP will really happen.  Today it was announced that Trek Bicycles is now the title sponsors and Clif Bar has stepped up to make it happen!  My sponsors rule.  I'm hoping to pay them back with some good results this year!!!  Gear Grinder/RACC has also stepped up huge to help me out w/ a travel budget that will allow my to fly to some of the races that are too far away and have a mechanic drive out in the van w/ my bikes and equipment.  This will be huge!

I have booked tickets and hotels for Gloucester, Ft. Collins, and Vegas....Yesterday I was out riding the cross bikes for the first time in the park across the street from my house.  I have them both dialed and they are feeling great.  It's going to be a good year....

All this going on and I haven't even mentioned Chequamegon....oh yeah..thats happening in less than. 10 days.