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.