Monday, December 23, 2013

Carolina Dreamin'

NCCX is definitely one of my favorite trips of the year.  Its always a good excuse to make a trip to Athens and visit mom and dad, its an awesome drive thru the mountains of VA and TN, and the racing is top notch...even more so this year.

The last couple of years there has only been a handful of fast guys showing up in Hendersonville.  Shriver, Frattini, Berden, myself, and Kerry Werner...this year the level of competition increased quite a bit.

I still managed a number 8 call up both days and it was pretty nice to be in the front row.  With a fast up hill paved start followed by 3 or 4 muddy off camber sections and some tricky U turns it was important to get out early and avoid the carnage.

 Day 1 was a wet and cold battle.  The entire race I was following between 5-10 seconds behind Zach McD and we were slowly moving up.  By the last lap we had caught Yannick and were within striking distance of Kerry W in 4th position, but my buddy was shutting down.  It seemed my feet and hands were blocks of ice.  At the 1:00 mark we still had a lap to go and it was that extra 10 minutes that put me over the top.  I yelled for mom to turn the heat on in the car as I went out for my last lap.  I finished up pre-hypothermic and experienced the shakes for about 15 minutes while my core temps tried to increase.  Problem was at the same time my core was warming so was the embro on my legs and I started to get that uncomfortable warm feeling.  Soon it felt as if somebody was holding a match to my was classically painful.  I finished 7th.  Huge thanks to Andy Swartz for ruling the pits for me.  He jumped in head first and it was like we had been working together for years.  Wouldn't have been able to finish without him.

Day 2 - I was fatigued...the course was getting heavy.  Not nearly as wet as the day before, but after staying up till midnight working on bikes I was not feeling rested.  Instead of proper warm up I was searching for help in the pits knowing again it would be a day that disc brakes pads would go fast.
Luckily a Cane Creek employee jumped in and saved the day.  A slow start due to lack of warm up but then after a few adjustments I started going forward.  The gaps were huge but by the end of the race 8th - 11th position were in a tight battle.  I ended up 10th.

That pretty much wrapped up my CX season.  With extreme conditions in WI making training unbearable, lots of travel time coming up for the holidays and an early start to my season I have called it a year.

After NC I traveled back to Athens, home, and now I'm back in Athens again for Christmas.  Next stop Tucson!  Happy Holidays to everyone and thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Been a little while since I've updated the blog.  Its been cold!  Too cold to blog?  Not really, but I'll go with that excuse for now.  I'm currently in Athens, OH at Mom and Dad's house half way down to the NCCX.

I'm pretty pumped because its twice as warm here as in Sheboygan.  Its 4 home and 11 here!  Woohoo.   Needless to say I'm getting pretty excited to be headed to Tucson soon.  The race in Hendersonville will be the last of the 2013 season....unless I just happen to squeeze in one more in Chicago on the 21st of Dec.

2 mile run!
First though...a recap of a bunch of local races.  It started with the Turkey Trot!  A few days after Jingle Cross and I was pretty smashed still.  Very little motivation to go training in frigid temps.  So I laced up the tennies at went for a 1.25 miles run.  Figured if I could do that I could do the Turkey Trot!  Mission Accomplished!  2 miles in and feeling good about eating lots of food and watching football the rest of the day!  Too bad the Packers stunk.  I finished up the day with a sweet night ride 'The Turkey Hurl' in super slippery conditions working on the skills.

By the time Saturday rolled around I got motivated!  Who knows why but I went with it....3 hours of jamming all within 4 miles of home?  Again who knows why?  But it was fun...

After watching the video again I realized that it was Saturdays morning viewing of the Koksijde WC that got me motivated!

Sunday I did the first of three local races.  Isaac Neff proceeded to smash me at the Booty Cross in Madison, maybe I was tired from the 3 hour jam session, maybe I wasn't 100% motivated, but it didn't really make a difference.  Even if I was on my A game the day belonged to Isaac.
Norge Ski Jump in Background

The next weekend was the Norge CX down in IL.  What an awesome course!  It was a little warmer too which helped.  Technical, Off-Camber, with some good climbs and some good descents.  Reminded me of a course you would find in Belgium.  I scored the W.

The motivation from the W set me up for one good training day and just enough fitness to grab a little revenge.  Isaac and I battled it out again at the State CX Championship this past weekend in brutally cold conditions and with 1/4 lap to go I attacked him on an off camber descent just before a tricky corner and the only climb on the course.  It was just enough to get a 2 seconds gap and hold it till the finish.  I think it was my first State CX title in WI!
Early in the race trading pulls with Isaac.  Must have been the bikes!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jingle Rock - Don't stop!

I want more....sometimes I wish I was back in Belgium during the Christmas period racing day after day after day.  The Cincy/LVille/Jingle Block is the best we can do here in the Midwest though...and I can't make Cincy with I want more COWBELL!

This is when you can make or brake a season.  Motivated because it was so fun, yet thrashed from 3 weekends of back to back racing w/ 16+ hours in the car traveling each weekend.  Last year motivation trumped knowledge and I blew myself out.  This year I am going to rest up a little before going again.  Older = Smarter!

Jingle Cross truly was a blast though and definitely the best cross race in the US.  Hard hard hard, Belgian like courses.  Raucous spectators, Beer, Flyovers, Runups, Handups, and more.  If you've never been you need to make it next year.

Oh yeah - and each year the competition gets a little better!  Friday night under the lights has to be one of my favorite races of the year.  Last year I was 5th and this year I managed to one up that with a 4th!  I was pumped to be battling with Powers and Driscoll.   Towards the end of the race it was down to just me and Driscoll and I felt like a might have had a shot at the podium, but he kept the pressure on in the last few corners and I made a mistake.  Stoked to race in the stealth Bontrager kit for the night!

Saturday was round 2 and I was ready for battle again.  This time I struggled just a little with fatigue after a getting to bed late and a big effort the night before.  The long climb in the back of the course was killing me!  The descent on the other hand was awesome with the disc brakes!  So much more confidence.  I ended up in a 2 man battle with Lindine, but really wanted to save a little gas for Sundays C1.  8th place.  Respectable!

We had some killer burgers Saturday night at an Irish Pub and watched a sweet movie Ghost Ship before a good nights sleep and the final race of the weekend.

 The C1 on sunday was the best yet.  Straight up Mt. Krumpet w/ the bikes on the shoulder and a ripping off camber new muddy descent on the back side.  Legs were definitely not as sharp as Friday night but I was in the mix.  I found it easier to slightly hang of the back of the group rather than run into the back of them at each hard part in the race.  Mid way through the race I sensed a small gap before and slick off camber towards the end of the lap..  pedaled hard, but nothing was there???  After a series of unfortunate events I had realized my skewer had come loose.  I stopped tightened the skewer, but the group I had been with 6th - 12th place was gone....30 seconds lost just like that...swapped bikes and kept going but was in no mans land.

A little bummed to end the weekend riding the last 3 laps solo, but that's the way it goes....leaves me hungry for more and with some new confidence that I can ride w/ the best when all goes right!

Thanks to all the supporters and sponsors!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mud Fund = Dry & Fast

Another year of the Derby City Cup is in the record books.  This year was not quite as good as last, but I'll take it for my first "real" cross weekend of the year.

I went to China and raced cross, but it was more for the experience.  I raced the first WCA but it was more to test the bikes that weren't quite ready.  I raced Boulder, but I was pretty blown out.  I raced another WCA but again more of a warm up for the next days WORS race. 

Basically saying that I wasn't mentally ready for the battle in any of these previous races.  Louisville however it was game on.  I had all my equipment dialed.  My new HED Ardennes wheelsets had just arrived and I was prepared for all conditions w/ the three different tire options(files, mediums, mudders).  My bikes were dialed in as identical as they have been all season and my form and confidence were pretty high after Iceman!
All 4 HED wheelsets ready to rock!
We rolled down to Louisville in style too!  Thanks to ShareCare Cycling Team for loaning us their Sprinter Van for the weekend.  The van is setup pretty sweet.  Reclining leather seats, TV, Cooler, definitely the most plush set up I have experienced...kinda like flying first class!

 Unfortunately we got caught up in a little traffic on the drive down and lost a little daylight Friday night so the pre-ride was cut pretty short.  13 minutes total to be exact, but I could tell the legs were good!

Saturday morning we took a spin over to the course to check out some lines, say hi to some friends, and pick up the numbers.  Then according to Louisville Standard Operating Procedure we were off to Panera for some lunch and then it was go time.

I was called up in row 2.  I lined up behind Ben Berden, but was instantly swarmed and felt like I was pretty deep coming off of the pavement.  Every move I made seemed to get shut down, so instead of wasting energy I stayed patient.  Things finally started opening up and then I started a long mission to make it back up to the top 10.  Tristan was on the same mission just a few spots behind me and when he caught me with 2 or 3 to go I was pumped we could work together.  He pulled for a lap and when I came through he couldn't hold my wheel.  I went by him and proceeded to catch a group of Zach McD and Jeremy Durrin on the last lap to secure 10th.  Felt great and moved forward the entire race...wish I could have started a little better.

Saturday night was more tradition....Spinellis' Pizzeria...and this photo says it all!  Pretty cool place and great Pizza!

Sunday was more of the same....the start was a little better, but not good enough.  I was in the second big group and it seemed like it was more of a drafting race.  Lindine had a problem and came out of the pits and joined our group.  I was pumped to work with him and keep moving forward but shortly after Mith Hoke bobbled the blinding off camber and I proceeded to battle ram the back of only comically got worse from there in the next 12.5 seconds for me and then group was completely gone.  Lindine ended up 10th...I 18th.  In no mans land....caught 2 guys in the last few laps but never close to the back of the group.  I was disappointed.
Good off the pavement on day 2...but still missed the split

Luckily I get to go again this weekend at Jingle Cross!  I'm loving the new bikes, I'm loving the disc brakes....and it looks like mud this weekend to really give them a good test!

Monday, November 04, 2013

20th Iceman Cometh

It's hard to believe that I've now raced the Iceman 20 times.  My first Iceman was in 1993.  I missed one somewhere in the late 90's when I was living in Tucson.  I can't believe how its grown over the years.  I remember we used to all do a mass start.  I remember going down the back roads of Kalkaska on ice with major carnage in the first huge sandpit.  I remember finishing at Mt. Holiday.  I remember snow, and closed highways, friends, Omelettes Karaoke, and so much more...

Its definitely one of my favorite races of the year and even more so lately with the amount of talent at the top end of the race.  It really gives me a chance to go and compete with some of the best.  It makes me want to do even more cool Mountain Bike races and try to improve.

This year I was feeling pretty overextended 3 weeks before the race.  I had just driven thru the night on my way home from the Boulder CX race and was still recovering from China. I decided no more racing till Iceman.  Its amazing what 2 weeks of solid training and no travel on the weekends can do to your confidence, energy levels, and fitness.  I really needed that 2 weeks to get ready for the Iceman and it paid off.  The first week I just went out and road endurance miles.  The 2nd week I did 2 * 20 intervals 4 times in a 5 day period.  Nothing fancy just pedaling hard.  Scroll down and look left and you can check out all the training rides on Strava.  Then it was a little rest and a final VO2 workout before traveling to Traverse City.

We arrived after a long rainy drive up and over Lk Michigan.  The scenic route wasn't so scenic this time, but still better than Chicago any day!  We rolled into town and hooked up with my dad and the Buermans for dinner.

Friday morning was relaxing in bed watching the Koppenburg CX race on a hacked feed from the internet, followed by a great pre-ride w/ Trav, Chloe, Katharine Pendrel, and the Adv 212 crew.
We picked up our packets and had a good pasta buffet at the Grand Traverse and then it was early to bed.

Race day temps were a little chilly and a little wet but really not bad.  I raced w/ a long sleeve base layer under a long sleeve skinsuit, a hat under the helmet and leg warmers...perfect for me.  The start to me seemed much more controlled and less chaotic than normal.  Maybe it was because the one line in the course was really dialed and the wet leaves and sand weren't quite packed to cement status off the main line.  There was one crash not too far behind me early on that scared me a little.  The puddles were a new factor to consider, but everyone again seemed pretty respectful.

I felt like the group was still pretty big after the first Tornado Alley singletrack section.  Somewhere in the middle after a long singletrack section Kabush, Finsty and Ettinger really put the hammer down and started to split the group...maybe 10-11 guys....after Williamsburg it was down to 7.

Jeremiah Bishop went off the front shortly after Williamsburg but the group had him safely in check the entire time.  Cole must have done a huge effort on the early parts of the Vasa trail to bridge back on, but was only to be popped back off up Anita's Hill.    The group was working together really well and caught Jeremiah with 4k to go.  To my surprise we didn't fly by him...we actually slowed up and let him sit in and was at that moment that I should have attacked but I missed my split second window in confusion as to why we slowed so much....I was also a little further back than I should have been because I was taking a free ride while the others were chasing JB. 

The battle began, but in my opinion it was a slow mo battle to get Kabush's wheel not go hard.  Lots of chopping and shifting of positions from 3k-1k to go.  In the end I funneled into the first short singletrack piece in 5th....too far back.  On the IceBreaker descent Finsterwald passed me and I was 6th....way too far back.  I still had gas in the tank for the final push and was able to go around Finsty and Ettinger, but Kabush Wells and Bishop already had 2 bike lengths and it was too late.  4th.  I know its a great result, but I'm a little bummed I didn't try to go harder year :)

My Superfly PRO SL was dialed and worked perfect.  It was light and fast and I could definitely tell the XXX 29er wheels made life a little easier on all the rollers.  Huge thanks to RACC and all my other sponsors for the support for another great MTB season.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Boulder CX

So I mention perfect weather and then this happens!  Andrea just got home from her ride and its now pouring down rain and maybe just on the plus side of 50 degrees.

Luckily for me I just got home from the Boulder UCI CX weekend and I'm pretty tired from pulling an all night drive across I-80 and I'm not riding today.  Maybe just some yoga, some tea, and some Red Bull Rampage!  WOW - those guys are crazy.

So yeah, time to reflect on the first UCI cross weekend of the year.  Chloe had just stayed at our house for the Sheboygan WORS race and offered to return the favor and let me crash at her parents.  Billy Jones had offered the space in the Sprinter van for bikes to drive out and me to drive back.  So a one way ticket was all it took.  Karl was pumped to lend a hand, get out of town and tag teamed the weekend with Mike Teff who was wrenching for the contingent of juniors who were out representing the ISCorp-Intelligentsia Team.

It was the first time I had been back to Boulder since Andrea and I lived in Niwot for a short 3 or 4 month spell back in 2002.  It was pretty much how I remembered it, but a lot more developed.

I was so stoked for Chloe - 2nd both days racing for Amy D!

Day One's race was out at the Boulder Reservoir where I remember racing back in 02.  The race course was a little different, but we still got to do same time on the sandy beach as well as plenty of corners.  I had a pretty good start, but was not nearly aggressive enough thru the first 4 corners.  At the same time if you were aggressive you were likely to crash on the loose pea gravel over hard pack terrain.  I eventually settled in a group that was racing for 16th place, but with 3 riders just in front of us 13th was within grasp.  I finished 19th....not very exciting.

Day 2 - I was ready to give it a little more gas.  I went out for a morning spin to loosen the legs and preview the course at Valmont.  Pretty technical and definitely no hiding or drafting like the day before.  I had another great start, but wasn't aggressive enough again.  I also really struggled at the 5-10 minute mark in the race which didn't really allow me to latch on to the back of the group.  Again I found myself racing around 16th - 17th position with a group of 3 which included Tristan just a few seconds up.  For a few laps I was close to bridging, but just didn't have that extra 2%.  I finished 17th..slightly better but nowhere near what I'm capable of...the last lap was a little exciting battling with 3 others and trying to sprint with a bunch of fish net in my cassette???  Hope that stuffs not a factor in Jan at Nationals.

I was finally feeling comfy on the bikes and was starting to have fun ripping the corners.  I loved the disc much confidence and reliability especially on the steep descents of the Valmont course.  The new HED wheels were solid...With a little more time on the bikes and some quality training at home from now until Louisville I think I'll be back in the top 10 soon!

The drive home was brutal....straight from the race course to the back of the sprinter van.  Thru the middle of the night.  17 hours later and I was totally wasted and back in Sheboygan.

Always good to see first light after driving thru the night.

Best Time of The Year

I love riding in the fall.  I love racing in the fall.  Leaves changing colors, the smells, the sights, and the perfect really can't beat it....

Baggies = FUN at Cascade Mtn
So after China I needed a break.  I took the week off of the bike, but couldn't pass up the WORS race.  I really wanted to go just to support Andrea, but the weather was perfect and I figured it wouldn't hurt to check out the new race course.  I didn't really race, but just went out and had some fun on my bike!

After the Cascade WORS race I was feeling refreshed and ready to log some miles, but I couldn't get it out of my head that some of the best MTB time was right NOW!  So I went north to the UP and pedaled around with some TREK guys.  It was a blast.  We ripped a Tues Night ride on the South Trails(one mandatory night ride per year!).  Wed I think I put in 9 hours of chamois time!  Testing bikes, hitting jumps, and best of all got a secret tour of the North Shore MQT Trails which I had heard so much about thanks to Phil and Cooper.  It was so much much in fact that even a day after 5-6 hours of pedal time I still had enough gas for one more guided tour of all the best and brand new stuff in Ishpeming.  It was truly a great 3 days on the bike in the UP!

View from the top of MQT Mountain

A day of rest and then a weekend of racing.  First up was Saturday on the cross bikes with the MWI crew down in MKE.  Racing for cupcakes is always fun!  Just before the race the skies opened up and we had the first muddy cross race of the season.  Tristan smoked me....I need to get my cross fit dialed and more time on my bikes.

First muddy cross race of the year!

Log Jump in Sheboygan

Sunday was the Sheboygan WORS race.  I haven't done the race in a long time.  Maybe 5 or 6 years.  It was pretty sweet to go and race in front of the home crowd!  Cole and I had an awesome battle, probably the best of the year.  On the last lap I think we had something like 4 lead changes.  There was mud, wet roots, singletrack...all what a hard MTB should be the end Cole beat me, but definitely one of the best races of the year.

Andrea finished the year on a high note and was 3rd and an impressive 4th at the Sheboygan race with stiff competition.  She was 4th in the series.  Very Proud Husband!  I finished up the WORS series in 2nd.

Andrea killed it all season long!

Thanks to XTR Photo for all the great shots throughout the season!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Qiansen Trophy aka #chinacx

 Where to begin on this whirlwind trip!  I guess at the beginning.  Subaru Cup - Mitch Hoke says, "Hey, You want to go to China and race Cross"  "Its free"  - I say, "No Way"  and so it begins...

A month later and I'm filling out race applications and receiving broken English e-mails from a guy named Song and wondering to myself if this is even real.  A few expedited Passport renewals for Andrea and Elicia, some Chinese Visa's and we are off!  Just don't drink the water and don't eat any fresh veggies that might have been washed in the water!

The alarm chimes at 3am and we were out to Milwaukee.  After a 5 hour layover in Detroit we board the plane for a epic 13:30 hour flight to Beijing!  Surprisingly the Beijing airport is quiet and customs is a piece of cake.  Outside our translator is waiting for us and we hop the bus for a 2 hour transfer to Yanqing. 

We arrive roughly 28 hours after we woke the previous day in the US.  With little to no sleep on the plane we were pretty tired, but pumped to be there.  Many of the other American racers had already arrived.

The next day after a decent amount of sleep we called a taxi(quite the challenge with the major language barrier) and we were off to the Great Wall of China at Badaling.  The Great Wall is over 4,000 miles long.  Try to wrap your head around that was truly impressive.  I was blown away at how steep it was in certain sections.

After our trip to the wall we hit the city via bicycle to go and check out the race course.  First Impressions...bumpy and fast!  3 forced dismounts up steps, but no barriers.  3 good drops with some tricky surface transitions and a short fast brick start/finsh stretch.  All in all I was pretty happy with the course and I knew it would suit me well.  Navigating the city streets....that on the other hand was pretty challenging.  HONK HONK HONK!

We finished up the day with a Welcome Banquet dinner that included tons of good Chinese food.  Nothing crazy though...chicken, pork, rice, noodles....pretty standard.  Oh yeah...and flesh of a donkey!

Race day was pretty low key.  A good breakfast and then the waiting game.  Pinning on numbers and preparing  bottles.  I pedaled over to the race course around 12:30 arriving just in time for the 1:00 opening ceremonies and 1 last inspection lap on the race course.  I watched most of the Womens race to check out the start and some of the lines they were taking.

The race:  It started out good with a fron row call up.

I was 5th or so off of the pavement and then filed into the first few run ups in 4th place.  For about 35 minutes or so I was battling in the top 5, but then I hit the wall.  I fell off the pace of the group and I knew I was in trouble.  Luckily Arnoud Jouffry U23 World Champ was behind me and I had a chance to regroup and hopefully follow his wheel back up to the to 5.  It didn't work...I only blew up again!  Now in 6th position with 3 laps to go and a huge group coming up quickly.  They blew right by me and I was instantly outside of the top 10.  dang.  Oh well.  I just barely held on to a top 15.  In the end I had only lost 1:00 in those last 3 laps...and for how I felt that was pretty impressive because it should have been more.  It was such a high speed course!

Glad the first cross race of the season is over with...its definitely a vastly different effort than the MTB.  I think the next round will go much smoother.  Hopefully Providence and Boulder are next up.

After the race we had another amazing dinner with all the athletes, race promoters, and UCI staff.  Then it was game on!  We were staying at a Hot Springs Resort.  So it was time to go check it out.  It was pretty spectacular sight to walk into this resort and see 20 Americans laid out from racing on the heated marble tile slabs getting ready for Chinese Foot Massages.  40 minutes of pure pleasure followed by 15-20 different style hot tub spas including one with flesh eating fish to make your feet smooth!  It was a trip!

We hung out in the hot tubs for about 4 hours and partied it up!  Good times.  The next morning we hit the town before leaving for the airport.  We took in some local culture by doing some souvenir shopping, checking out the food carts and of course a morning exercise session!

The flight home went fast for me....9 hour of sleep on the 12 hour flight!  Winning!  Huge thanks to the Qiansen Sports Group for their amazing hospitality and a trip of a lifetime. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

From Frazzled to Five Timer at The Fat Tire

WOW - Can't be much happier than I am right now after the weekend up in the Northwoods.  I think I race well up there because its so relaxing.  It's just my kinda place...

3 bikes - 1 cross race???
 2 weeks ago my cyclocross bikes started to arrive.  I was pumped and thought I would be able to get them together in time for a local race before the real season starts.  In short...I did, but I didn't and it was really really frustrating.  Lots of small issues turned into a major cluster of a day, however I managed to throw 3 bikes on the roof and make it across town for the first WCA race which was luckily in Sheboygan.  I won, but it was one of my hardest efforts of the season.  I had issues with both cross bikes(this years and lasts) and had to switch to my mtn bike for the finish, but even had issues with that after building it that morning from Grand Junction.

Lk G rock drop

After the ugliness on Sat I wasn't that confident heading into Sundays WORS race.  I had fixed the issues with the MTB(saddle about 1" too low) and was ready to give it another go.  I had a good start and mentally was back in the game.  Physically however I wasn't in top form.  I was already dehydrated from Saturdays cross race in the upper 80's and although the temps were low at Lk Geneva I was drenched in sweat from the humidity.  I was riding well technically, but the legs were starting to cramp.  Tristan attacked on the last climb and with CHEQ looming I was not willing to go too deep and risk major cramps.  I settled for 2nd.

I think the craziness of the weekend forced me to realize I really needed to rest up for 7th weekend in a row of racing.  During the rest something flipped mentally and I became hungry for the win!  I dropped everything and was fully focused on doing it right.

We drive up Friday morning like always.  The lady at the Phillips Subway coughed on my freaked me out.  We arrived and joined up with Tyler G and crew for a pre-ride.  All standard.  We stayed in a new hotel, but it was much improved of the traditional place we used to choose.  I shined up my Superfly 100 after the preride, we had a homemade meal Andrea cooked and brought up with us.  She is awesome.  All was perfect.

Race morning was also pretty standard.  Some coffee, some oats, some granola.  I tried not to eat as much as stomach was a little full at the start of Grand Junction and I didn't like that feeling.  Had a great warm up with Trav and told him I was mentally ready.  He said something like - sometimes that what it just have to will your way thru things -  Awesome that it worked out the way it did...
Cheq Start - Calm before the Storm

The race started pretty standard until the quads took off around corners number 1 and Cole House stood to accelerate and broke his chain.  Of course mixed emotions going thru my head already.  Cole is a great rider and for sure was my biggest competition.  I hated to see him go out, but at the same time I was already mentally preparing for drastically different race tactics, and was now putting even more pressure on myself to win.

RACC Rocking thru Rosies
Things were slow thru Rosies field.  That was fine by me.  I stayed at the front and stayed safe.  I finally looked back after the first few rollers and realized the lead group was 150 guys...uh oh.  So I put in a hard effort and followed by Jason McCartneys hard effort we were down to 12.  Pretty standard from there across OO and then it got crazy.  Around a right hander on the Birkie Trail a quad high sided and took out 4 or 5 guys including Trav and Michael Olheiser.  I couldn't beleive it...I was pretty mad because earlier in the race the quads were screwing around on the leadout....totally not cool.  We slowed things up and let the guys who crashed latch back on, but then immediately another crash.  Then I got scared.  Something weird was happening and I needed to get to the front and go a little to avoid this section of carnage.

By the time we hit firetower I'm guessing the lead group was 8 or 9 guys.  I climbed pretty good up firetower.  Started in 5th at the bottom and finished the top in 3rd wheel.  I was ready for the birkie, but was getting some cramps.  Not good.  Luckily when we started pedaling hard they went away.  JMAC put in some short attacks, but nothing ever snapped the group too bad.  5 Over the top of the Birkie, but guys were latching back on down Telemark Rd.

Cresting the final climb.
I knew it was coming down to the last few climbs.  I stretched things out on one of the final descents.  Trav came around and attacked to the final few climbs.  He was leading into the last climb and ripped that left hander to instantly gain 10ft.  I was pumped and thought he would win.  I was following JMAC ready to counter if JMAC bridged to Trav.  Half was up the hill JMAC dumped 3 or 4 gears and had to sit down.  I went around him and sensed a swarm so pedaled hard.  Trav must have been fading on the top half of the climb because I went around him pretty fast and instantly knew win #5 was in the books. Chequamegon Winner again!

After the finish I was pumped to hear that Momentum Endurance riders also went 1,2 in the short and fat.  Won the short and fat single speed.  Then we watched Chloe come across the line in 1st and Andrea in 10th.  Couldn't have been any more perfect for me!  Super impressed by Trav's never give up ride of the day!

Again very proud of Andrea who had been having a killer season.  There are some really fast girls up at CHEQ and for her to score a top 10 two years in a row is pretty great.

Chequamegon Victory  #5 
My 29er!!!  Superfly 100 was flawless all day.  It's definitely the right bike for the race.

Next up:  CHINA!  Ha - Can't believe that one...better get to work.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Grand Shenanigans!

A variety in the schedule and fun was the name of the game this mtb season and I have to give huge props to Epic Rides out of Tucson for making this happen.  It started early in the season with the Whiskey 50 and this past weekend I raced in the inaugural Grand Junction Off-Road aka the Grand 40. 

Gand Junction is cool.  The Grand 40 is cool.  Here's why:  Epic Rides puts on a race that reminds me of the old days of Norba when there was a buzz in the air, an excitement about the races.  The entire community is involved, people are stoked, and race courses are not dumbed down.  You travel to new MTB destinations and race on real MTB trails for big prize money.  Its the way a pro racer wants it to be, its the way a supporting community wants it to be, and its the way Todd Sadow from Epic Rides wants it to be.  It just works for everyone.

The race for me started with a Thursday flight from Appleton - MSP - SLC - Grand Junction.  We arrived at the airport and had a sweet Ford Aerostar limo and hilarious driver back to the hotel.  Friday morning we woke up and walked down to Main Street Bagels for a cup o Joe to get the weekend started. 

Once awake Chris and I went out to pedal around and pre-rode the 15 Grand race course.  This allowed us to see the first 7 miles of our race course and the last.  Definitely some techy stuff!  Like I said before REAL mountain biking. 

Friday evening was the Fat Tire Crit.  A way for the racers to give back to the community by putting on a good show and race circles downtown while the spectators drink beer and listen to live music.  Definitely a festival type atmosphere.  The race doesn't mean much to the racers except for a call up on Sundays XC race and some sponsorship exposure.  Some take it serious and others try to save there legs for Sunday. 

I was feeling pretty good about 15 minutes into the race.  Troy Wells and Ben Sonntag were off the front.  I was ready to go for the win and was marking Carl Decker as the guy to beat.  With a lap and a half to go I had a good feeling we were not going to bring back the 2 leaders and I settled in for the field sprint.  I jumped on the high speed backside straightaway and was able to rip the last 3 corners to win the field sprint and finish 3rd!  I was pumped and feeling good about Sunday.

Saturday was the hardest day.  A full day of not much going on.  Its hard to kill that much time in a hotel room, but important to stay rested.  We did a little more recon of the course on Saturday and then went into chill mode.  Chris and I did a Indiana Jones marathon and then went for a dinner with Trav and Chloe.

Sunday morning it was nice and early to avoid the heat of the day.  We were on the start line at 7:30am.  And then we were off.  40 miles of serious MTB action.  What scared me a little was that 25 miles were unknow and somewhere in there was 1:00 hour of climbing and 1 hour of some serious descending with some big drops and open exposure.  Turns out the descents were pretty awesome.  After the first 30 minutes of racing/climbing I was letting the leaders go and trying to stay below the red line which is important for a flat lander to do while at altitude.  However I was ripping the descents pretty good and was able to hook up with Carl Decker and at the bottom of the 45 minute descent we were a group of 6 battling for the win.  Ben Sonntag, Sepp Kuss, Chris Baddick, Carl, Kris Sneddon, and myself.

We started the long climb out of the river valley and 3 guys attacked.  Carl and I were in 4th and 5th and Sneddon was fading.  By the top of the climb Decker was 10 seconds up on me.  On the following high speed descents I was really letting it rip trying to close the gap, but in doing so got off line a few times.  Sneddon caught back on and then proceeded to drop me up the super hard 1.5 mile slick rock climb.  15 minutes of brutal exposed, sun beating down on you, steep climbing.  I was now in survival mode and limped to the finish line in 6th place.

Overall super happy I made it out to GJ.  Big Thanks to Chris Peariso for twisting my arm.  I'll definitely be back next year.

Monday, August 26, 2013

4 down 4 to go

Preparation for the next race starts as soon as you cross the finish line - It'll be a miracle if I can pull off 8 weekends in a row of racing.  Probably not the smartest, but its whats on tap.  4 down after this weekend.  Sunburst, Ore To Shore, Franklin, & Suamico.  Up next Grand Junction, Lk Geneva, Chequamegon, & China?  Yup China!  More details to come on that first its Sumaico.

The weekend started like most - cleaning up the bikes from the previous weekend.  It was nice.  Just me and Oscor hanging out in the front yard on a perfect day making some bikes shine.  Not much looks nice than a freshly cleaned Shimano drive.

Current WORS Champs passing down knowledge!

Saturday morning we hit up the Farmers Market before heading up to Green Bay to coach the WIN high school mtb clinic.  Pretty awesome so see 21 kids registered and amped up on MTB racing.  Can't wait to see how WIN plays out over the next few years.  It for sure is going to up the level of WORS competition.

We did an hour of skills and drills and then headed out on the course for a pre-ride, talked tactics, and tackled a few tricky sections on the course.  All in all a great day. 

Sunday it was another trip up to GB for the WORS race, but overnight somebody plugged in the hair dryer and forgot to turn it off.  There was a stiff wind blowing from the West bringing in some pretty warm air.  Unfortunately the course was pretty wooded and there was no air flow back in the woods.  It was sweltering.  With the heat and a big race next weekend I wasn't eager to go all in on lap number one.

Cole took off in the first singletrack, but Nathan jumped between us and Cole was riding away.  I didn't feel quite as good on my bike as the previous weekend and even stopped during the first lap to try and let some tire pressure out.  It helped a little but not a ton.  After a lap Cole was up 1:30 and I went to the front to start to close things down.  I whittled the group down to just Tristan, Tyler, and Darrin, but only took about 15 seconds out of Cole's lead.  I got a little help from the other guys, but every time they went to the front the pace slowed a little too much.

Starting lap 3 I hit it pretty hard into the first bumpy singletrack and it was down to just Tristan and I chasing Cole.  About half way thru the lap somebody yelled something about Cole, but it was really mumbled and Tristan and I both missed it...turns out it might have been key.

Tristan and I were both suffering a little and just wanted to make it to the finish and jump in a lake, my hands were hot, my feet were hot, and my head was hot although I wasn't cramping at all.  I kept on the gas and felt little gaps opening, but only to be closed due to lapped traffic.  Finally at the end I had a little gap and realized Tristan was happy with following me to the line.  I think it was enough for him to wrap up the overall points series.  Little did we know that Cole had crashed out and we were battling for the win.  Its not often that you cross the line in first and have no idea you won until 20 or 30 minutes later.  Oh well....

Time to go clean the bikes again...they look about as nasty as my legs did at the finish.  Another solid race for Andrea in 4th.  Just lost out on the sprint for 3rd.  Next up The Grand 40!  Big Thanks to for taking some great pictures of the WIN Clinic and all the WORS races.