Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ahh Off Season...

So CX is officially over for almost two weeks and I'm already going through a bit of withdrawls. I guess my illness in early October kinda set me back a bit and I feel like I was racing better and better through the end of the season. Truth be told I wish I was racing until mid-January but 2011 is on the horizon.

As it sits now I'm debating next year's schedule. So far I'm thinking of 4 NUE races, and the H2H series with the Windham world cup, a few road races, and a few other local races thrown in. OR...and that's a big or - I'm debating on doing a stage race, which I really can't afford. At this point I really feel like I was shafted by not being able to finish out what was looking like a great NUE series last year. I'd really like to be able to put on a couple of good races and finish really well in the series this upcoming season.

On the other hand, this will be my first year as a pro and I would like to see how well I can do in the local H2H series. The local series is going to have a new format to encourage a larger pro field and it should make for some great competition. I did one pro race last year as a cat1 and it was promising.

So the off season riding has resumed and it's nice to not have to do really high intensity training. So far I've done a few rides on my fixie and haven't really stared at my heart rate and it's been nice. With the CX season in full swing all of my workouts were designed to be short and intense so the longer, base rides are a welcome sight.

The other biking news I guess would be the fact that my superfly has been sold. Thanks to ebay, the 2009 fly is gone and I recently heard that my new ride will be coming in soon. The date I was originally told was 12/27, and the rumor is that it may be even sooner. It's going to be a fun ride.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Last Race Weekend of 2010

It's been a crazy up and down for the past 38 weeks but this weekend is the end of my 2010 racing. It'll be 25 races done and a lot of great memories. 5 road races, 7 CX races, 3 Endurance XC races, and 10 XC races. The road races were entertaining and just fun with some good training thrown in. The XC races were a lot of fun with some great competition and just a fantastic season. The Endurance races were a blast and the most fun I've had this season, and still where my heart lies. The CX is a great late season fitness test and it will really help going into the 2011 season. I didn't get to do as many this year as I'd liked but there's always next year.

With that said I have my last two races coming up back to back at the Horseshoe Scramble in Warren this weekend. It's my last hurrah before base starts and should just be a lot of fun. As usual it looks like it will be a small field and those riders that do show will be solid. The new category has been fun but tough. The A racers really don't fade and if anything they get faster towards the end. Just watching their technique is making myself a better and faster rider.

The main goal this weekend is to try to get into that third podium spot for the NJBA CX cup. Sadly I am fighting for 3rd since the A race has been poorly contested. There just weren't that many competitors out there this season. Still I'd like to get on the podium if at all possible. As of now there are 6 registered for the Saturday race and 5 for the Sunday race. I need to finish well and not finish too far behind the other guys that are fighting for the top spot in the series. At the moment it is Troy and Maurice tied for 1st, BL in second, and myself in 4th and Fred in 5th. Maurice is out in Oregon racing nationals, Troy is registered for both days as is BL, Fred, and myself. Currently Fred is in 5th with only 20 points less than I have so I need to keep an eye on him for the overall. It could be a lot of fun. Any way it goes it will be a blast and a great way to rip it up and end the season. Hopefully things go well.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

SCCX #1 and #2

November 21st and November 27th were two of the most anticipated races in the NJBA CX Cup, mostly because my team helps put them on with Skylands cycling. It's been a very similar course for both races with the only difference being that the barriers were put in different places. It was definitely a power course as there were some turns but extended pedaling sections that really helped open up some gaps.

For race #1 there was 5 people and it went pretty hard from the start with Bill Elliston from Van Dessel killing it off the front and letting the rest of us fight to not get lapped. The race was going well as my teammate BL and I were in 2nd and 3rd with us exchanging the lead where we excelled and with 3 to go he rolled his tubular off the rim and gave up the 2nd place to me. The gaps held and I rolled in for my 3rd cross podium. It was a great finish but I really didn't feel the mojo of the race as it was really hard and looking at the data later it showed how things were off. HR was not elevated like it usually was but I still did ok.

For race #2 it was a larger field as 8 racers lined up and I was almost dead last off the line. I picked my way through the field on the first lap to get as high as 3rd place but that's the best I would see. The guy in 4th and I were going back and forth for a few laps. One of the laps I took a bad line in the dreaded mud pit and lost all momentum. The gap opened that would stick for the remainder of the race. I finished 4th of 8 with a time that was 50 seconds slower than last week in much harder conditions. The data confirms that I was feeling a lot better this week as my HR was where it should be and just had a better time overall feeling the course.

One more weekend to go in the NJBA CX Cup as I'm sitting in 4th and with a little bit of luck and two good races I could be as high as 3rd. That would be pretty cool. Top 5 is no joke but aiming for that podium. We'll have to see what next week brings. The main focus is that I'm going to eat better this week and try to shed some excess Thanksgiving pounds as I feel like a heffer right now. If I feel totally unfulfilled after next weekend there is one more round of CX coming to the area in the form of the HVCX weekend the following weekend which could be fun. That would be the OFFICIAL end of my 2010 racing season and 2011 base would then commence...FINALLY!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


So a lot has been going on in my cycling world with everything from upgrades to recovery. I'm finally feeling a bit like my old self and albeit a few pounds heavier than mid summer race shape I feel I'm doing pretty well. I was 153 for the early season and right now I'm hovering around the 161 mark. Something the inevitably happens when the riding load goes from 13 hours to 6 and daylight goes from a lot to almost nonexistent. Also, it's been nice to slack a little on my diet. Really nice but base will be here soon and the pounds will shed. Damn right they will. I got down to I think 148 for an afternoon last winter and should be in the same range this winter with more power and more discipline in my arsenal.

Anyway for the updates - Sunday night was a great night. I went to the H2H awards dinner and received my series championship jersey. It was amazing! I worked so hard this past season and through so much with my blood clot that it is truly amazing looking back. When I was in the hospital I didn't know if I'd ever be back on the bike again. Somehow I bounced back to finish up well in the series. The series went like this 2nd, 1st, 4th, 1st, blood clot, 9th, 4th, 2nd and locked up the series. The 8th race I opted to do in the pro class and finished 10th of 12. How nuts is that. I get a little teary eyed when I see that in print. Holy crap.
So it was a crazy season and now I'm in part 2 of the 2010 season.

Now it's cyclocross time and it's exploding again. Or at least I feel like my heart is - in a good way of course. I did the 2/3/4 race at HPCX and had a good finish and I told myself that this season I want to up the ante and race 1/2/3's at the local races. The problem is by doing that race it would take forever to get enough points to upgrade to a 2. So what do I do. I use the CX conversion in the USAC rulebook and inquire about just upgrading to a 2. DENIED... Because I should be a 1. Huh...yes a 1. If I want to upgrade I can contact USAC in Colorado and have them do it because the regional reps cannot. Sent one email...BAM Cat 1 CX racer now. What did I get myself into? Really for the NJ CX Cup it doesn't matter but if I do other series oh boy. I'll be the red lantern...

Even with racing the cross A class locally it's been good as I haven't been DFL - yet. It's coming, but for race #1 at Hidden Valley I was 8th of 9 and Sunday at Greystone I was 3rd of 5. So not too bad so far. It's only going to help in the long run and hopefully it translates to more explosiveness in next years XC or endurance events.

So lots of good updates...more to come.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Greystone Crazy Cross Results

Today's race was at the Central Park of Morris at the old Greystone psychiatric center. It was a great venue and a really fun course. It was also one of the bumpiest courses I've encountered. The straightaways were murderous as the bumps just stole the momentum from the legs and made it hard to close gaps.

Anyway here's how the race went. It was a HUGE field...5 - yep - 5 of us toed the line. It was nice being able to pick whichever spot you wanted to take in the front row ;-) So we went off hot and my teammate BL took the lead with me followed by Troy, Martin, and Nick. BL and I were riding well together and Troy was right with us for most of the 1st lap. Towards the end Troy passed myself and BL and started to make us hurt. BL took a barrier funny and I passed while he was getting himself back together and I opened up a gap while chasing Troy. Troy was riding so smooth and fast that his gap was just opening more and more. That would go on the entire race.

So now it was the race between BL and I. I was riding well and taking the corners hard but I started to make mistakes. Low pedals caused me to slide out a bunch and happened too many times. I lost a bunch of ground. So I kept BL behind me for a few laps but he was rapidly approaching. Part of the other excuse was that my bike was shifting like craaaaaaaap. The one gear that I really needed to use was not there. It kept ghost shifting like mad which really bugged me. I wasn't going to be very competitive like that and unfortunately it went like that the rest of the race.

So BL passed me on lap 5 or so and we kept it together for a few laps exchanging the lead. He opened a gap on the road on a later lap and I chased hard to get back to his wheel. Almost flat out I was riding into a hard left hander when I tried to brake hard and late and totally ate it. Instantly I was on my side wondering what happened. I jumped up and the bike was ok but that was all I needed to lose contact. BL was riding really well and it was pretty much over by that point.

I looked ahead and Troy was killing it followed by a big gap to BL, then a big gap to me, then a big gap to Martin, and by this point we were catching up to lap Nick. So I figured at this point I was into a hard training race and just put down what I could and finished up a fairly solid race. I could have done without the mistakes and the ghost shifting but what can you do.

I finished 3rd of 5 and 30+ seconds behind BL and he was letting off the gas to save up for racing tomorrow. The good thing was that they paid 5 deep and there were only 5 of us so we all got paid. $40 bucks plus some nice swag was great. This wasn't including the $1 that I picked up from between the barriers...thanks Art! So all in all it was a pretty good day - especially the GIANT calzone I got for dinner on the way home. Next up SCCX #1 next Sunday. I want to put some hurting on this one!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

HPCX Race Report

Holy crap was it a beautiful day for HPCX. I got there in time to get in a course inspection in street clothes just after the C race. As I rolled down the one sharp down - up, my front tire catches hard and I go half assed OTB. That was odd...I look down to find 12" of my tubular rolled off the rim and collecting grass....wonderful. So I popped the tubie back on the rim and finished the lap easily. So I had that to worry about now and my bike was not shifting right. Luckily I see my teammate Ted and get to chatting about my crappy wheel and he rips off his tubie and throws it at me. Sweet! Got a new sweet wheel and off to get ready I go. Anyway I got a decent warm up and got my wheels in the pit and took one more half lap before hitting the line. They lined up by MAC series points and then order of registration. I hit the line 41st of 95. Ted points me to the outside lane to avoid any mishaps...yea...right.

So the race goes off and the guy immediately to my right decides to swing out - bang into me - and then turn right and totally stack it up almost taking me down. I had to soft pedal and then get back on it so at this point I was probably back in the 60 somethings...wonderful. I stayed on it and passed a bunch the first lap to get me into mid 40's probably. I worked through a few here or there and rode steady to get to the last 2 of 6 laps. Into the second to last lap this Castelli dude and a guy I've ridden against up in NY were staying close as I got through them earlier. There was a nice road section followed by a nice twisy climb that lead to pavement into the finish. Castelli dude drafts me and hits it hard going into the final section and I just put an effort in to stay close. Through the line it's Castelli, me, and Rick from NY with 1 to go. We're all pretty tight and I put it all down on the last lap. We hung tight and this time through the road section I draft the Castelli guy. I see him sitting up to try and hold back and probably save some gas for the last climb which I was getting him on. Into the climb I come around him and see a gap start to open. I pressed on but not too hard as I thought there might be a sprint finish coming up. Sure enough - yup. Castelli and Rick come charging hard and I caught them out of the corner of my eye as we get to the pavement section to the finish. They got close the gap to me but I caught them approaching and kicked hard. I got a little gap and they went harder and I kicked again. It was a long sprint but I held them both off for a satisfying finish. Of all my strengths, sprinting is not one of them so that was enjoyable.

So at the end my sprint was for 31st of 95 racers. Not great, not bad, but decent. I was 34th of 73 last year so at least I improved a little. It was a fast tight group for sure and a really satisfying day(45 minutes) on the bike. It must have been fast since I talked to Ted later and he said my race did two more laps than the B masters race. That's nuts.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jamesburg/HPCX tomorrow!

Wohoo! The long awaited cross season is here(for me at least). I should have had 2 or 3 races in but the end of the MTB season killed the one race and the next two I had to miss since I was in the hospital. Fast forward 3 weeks and I'm feeling much better and ready to get back into this whole competition thing. I've done some good efforts this week and the legs don't feel amazing but they feel pretty good. Got some more snap back in the legs and feels promising.

It's a 2/3/4 race with 88 registered competitors where I'm hoping that they do call ups based on registration. I registered early for this one just in case they do that. I was 13th to register so hopefully that works or I'll have to depend on my blinding speed to cut through the masses. Just for comparison last year I did the same race in the same field and it had 73 starters and I finished 34th. Let's hope all goes well and that the course they setup fairs well for a MTB rider. More to come after the throwdown tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Night Ride with Amazing Company

So there has been a pretty steady group getting together locally to do some night riding at an undisclosed location. This past Tuesday was no exception but a bunch of riders were put off since there was a possibility of rain in the forecast. For me, it was supposed to be a relaxing off day, but looking at the forecast for Wednesday I thought this ride might suffice for Wednesday's workout. So Lucky asked me if I wanted to come ride and I said what the hell, why not. It ended up being just 6 of us. What a group it was...Lucky, Eric, Mike, myself and two fellas that let's just say are pretty well known - world wide it seems - Aaron and Jeff. It was pretty cool riding with two of the guys that I've been watching amazing videos of for years and they couldn't have been cooler and more down to earth. To add on top of riding with these guys, there was even a Cannondale among the mix that hasn't been released yet and was a pretty amazing bike.

So as we started rolling and getting into the good stuff the skills started to appear from the group. When a tough section is approached and all of a sudden the trials riders take over, it's pretty impressive to see. Just the way that they were carving some of the turns was just a different level. The group stayed together pretty nicely even with all the slick leaves and a bit of rain. We had a good bunch of socializing as well as a bunch of entertaining antics but overall a really nice ride. We were out for about two hours but had 1:30 of riding time in. The best part was yet to come. Bleh...

As we roll out of the trail and get back to the cars we are met by the local fuzz. We got back to the cars at 12:05 and we couldn't park in the lot we were in after 12. The cop had completed writing one car up and let the other 2 go without fines. Even so the one ticket was $50 for being in the lot 5 minutes too long. Really? They couldn't have waited a few more minutes to see if we came back. The officer said it was because if they didn't ticket cars would be left overnight all the time. They could have afforded a little extra wiggle room there. So after a good question and answer session and a bunch of pent up frustration was almost unleashed on the cop we all pitched in to cover the ticket that was issued to Mike.

Either way it was one amazing ride even though the ending could have been a little better. Amazing company and amazing trails at night was one hell of an experience. Hopefully we can get this group back together sometime soon.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Update Time

Alrighty then. So it's now been almost 3 weeks since the last race at Ringwood. It's also been 12 days since I got out of the hospital after what the doctors think was viral meningitis. Things are looking up. I'm back to the swing of every day life. I would say though that I'm not fully recovered from the hospital visit but I'm getting there. The daily chores are fine once again, I just feel the setback the most in the top end of my riding. Wednesdays are cyclocross practice days and I was at practice again this week after 2 weeks off. It was still good and I had more pop than I thought I would but the top end was definitely lacking a bit. Overall pretty satisfied with how much power I could put down and hang with a fast group, but still not 100%. I knew for efforts like this it would take a bit to get back to where I was pre-hospital.

The good thing is that I'll be riding quite a bit this weekend and it should help me get the fitness back. On tap for tomorrow is a hard 90 minute workout followed by probably the last century of the year. 6+ hours is on tap as I'm going to ride from my apartment and try and visit PA. Then a nice CX workout on next wednesday and my first true cross effort of the season at the Jamesburg/HPCX cross race. This was one of my favorites from last season.

HPCX was probably my favorite as it was just a fun course with a couple of nice MTB elements thrown in for some roadie entertainment. The best part had to be the section where the bike had to be shouldered on flat ground because the 6-8" of mud was IMPOSSIBLE to ride. I did attempt it the first two laps but that was pointless. It's also fairly close to north jersey so a lot of the local mtb'ers come out to throw their hat in the ring. It's great to see some of those familiar faces throwing down in the mud.

Next up after HPCX is the state championship cyclocross race at Hidden Valley. Hopefully these next few efforts will be enough to bring back to top end and let me do pretty well at the state championship race. At this point the focus is just to do the best I can in each race as I missed the first 3 of the series which pretty much kills any intent of doing well in the overall. So actually that could make each race more entertaining as it's only a single consequence. More fun to come...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2011 Focus

I know it's early but I'm getting some preliminary dates and I'm thinking of going long again next year. I have some unfinished business in the long races and the usual races have me intrigued:

Cohutta 100
Mohican 100
Wilderness 101
Fools Gold 100
Shenandoah 100

This past season got cut short and had some heinous weather so I'd like a little redo on some of those.

Then there's some others I would like to pursue:
Mass Endurance

I'm not sure how it's going to pan out. I am going to make a point to do a bunch of pro races to get acquainted with the pace and speed of the new category and have some fun in that arena as well.

MTB Season Wrapup(Long)

The 2010 season started out with a lot of promise and the usual goals. I wanted to do as well as I could in the NUE 100 miler series. The secondary goal was to do as well as I could in some of the races in the H2H series. This past winter was very solid as the base was much better and I had a pretty good season in 2009 to build on. So early on the season was a great indication of what was to come.

In April I did the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek and although I didn't feel amazing, I did better than most. A 5th place finish was enough to see some of the promise as I usually don't race well early in the season. This set me up nicely for the Cohutta 100 3 weeks later. In the Cohutta I came very close to reaching my goal of a sub 8 hour finish. 3+ hours of solid driving rain made things a mess and my finish was an 8:10. This of course is pure motivation to go back again next year.

In the meantime between 100 milers, I competed in the Wawayanda and Tymor H2H race and did really well. A 2nd and 1st place were a complete surprise and let me know that I might have some top end to compete in this XC thing or it was just that I was fit really early and caught the others off guard. It could be really fun if I actually trained for these things.

Next up was the Mohican 100 and again my goal was to go sub 8. First peak of the season and I was feeling GOOD. I was ready to tear this thing up but Mother Nature had another idea. It rained 3+ inches the day before and 2+ during the race along with multiple tornados touching down as the race went on. Through all of this I was able to put down a super smooth ride and perservered to finish in 8:56 which would surely have been an hour + quicker in dry conditions. More motivation for next year.

Then back to H2H. The next few races were the William's Lake NYS race, then Lewis Morris and Kittatinny. William's Lake was crazy as I had mechanicals early and still finished 2nd. Lewis Morris I had a bad crash and mechanicals and fought back to 4th, and Kittatinny was the race that shouldn't as I had a hard 18 hour week prior and was tired yet pulled out the win. So more promise for this short XC thing. Again what if I actually trained for these short races. My focus all the time thus far has been on distance...

Next up was the hardest part of my season. My pulmonary embolism in Colorado. I had an amazing time riding and climbing with my brother and sister in law but the one night I awoke gasping for air. I find out later that I had a blood clot and after a short hospital stay I pushed myself to get back to normal and at this point I thought the whole season was July. The Dr's told me to give up the thought of cycling but I thought otherwise. It HURT to ride at first but I knew it was something I HAD to do.

I don't know why but 3 weeks later I toed the line at the 909 H2H race. This was good as I came out of the gate hot but wow was my top end gone. The embolism shut things down and karma did the rest as I blew my chain and chased hard to gain some places. I just hoped if I saved some face that I "might" be able to finish the series out. Not likely but a lofty goal nonetheless. NUE races were totally ruled out as that kind of effort seemed waaay to far out. I was pressing my luck enough to finish the short races, nevermind 8 hour races.

Two weeks after that was the World Cup at Windham race. I felt like my lungs had recovered much better for this one. The top end didn't feel as dead and I was getting more confident riding on blood thinners and with my ability in general again. So I took off hard and stomped it through 2 laps. Too bad the race was 4 laps. 3 flats later on lap 3 and 4 I finally finished in 36th place. Nothing to write home about. But the performance was there...the performance was back.

Two weeks after 909 was the heart of the H2H finish. 3 races in 4 weekends. At this point I was hopeful that I could pull off something good but I still hadn't really felt like myself on a bike again since July. First up was Blue Mtn and a nice techy race was fun. I had a great race but nutrition/hydration issues. I fought hard but lap 3 was tough as I was hurting. Still a 4th place finish was MUCH better. This gave me the promise to finish the series out and hopefully pull out the win. HOPEFULLY. So into the second to last race I hit it hard and had some miscues but pulled away from the group and had a really solid race. This was a sweet 2nd place and a 2nd place in the State Championship race made me feel like I was really back. It felt so good to be back - 8 weeks after my embolism.

The best part - somehow - I pulled out the series win with this last 2nd place. I did ok and had my issues but I was still consistent. I won the overall H2H Cat 1 30-39 Championship...holy crap. This is a dream that I thought was such a farshot at the start of the season, then it was an abandoned dream when I was in the hospital, and for it to be a reality was totally amazing. I still can't wrap my head around it.

So now you're probably saying - didn't he say 3 races? That was only 2 if you were paying attention. So here's where I took the leap of faith, well the first one. Since the series was wrapped up I decided to throw my hat in the wring of the Pro/Cat1 race at the Ringwood Leaf Blower race. This was the final of the H2H race season. Why not. I figured the worst that was going to happen was for me to be DFL and I was ok with that. So I raced in the fastest race of my life. My God was the pace hot. I literally threw up twice and it was amazing. I was really happy to be holding that pace and helping a fellow teammate at the same time. Finishing 10th of 13 was even better and that was with a flat tire on the final mile of trail. Just a good experience and sign of what's to come.

Finally I'll wrap up this novel with the last leap of faith. So far the season went totally against how I thought it would so I'll keep pressing the unexpected. With my health I couldn't focus on the NUE so I went with my backup of the H2H which worked out really well even though it was not a focus at all. My focus was either on distance or recovery. Again...what if I actually trained for this short XC stuff. Anyway since the season did go reasonably well I opted to submit my resume to the USAC and see if they would give me my pro upgrade. I was really nervous as I honestly NEVER thought I could get this. Thinking back as a sport rider in 2006 and through the following years I've admired the pros and never thought I'd have the ability or will to do what they do. And guess what - now USAC says I have to. They granted my approval so with the purchase of my international license I am now a Pro mountain biker. How amazing. When I got the email I was almost in tears. Never, ever, did I think I'd see that in print. I know it's nothing glamourous and there's no big contracts coming my way but just to be considered a pro and to have the resume to attain that is mind boggling to me. And something that I am so proud of.

Monday, October 11, 2010

First CX Weekend Report....errr.....Hospital Report

As the title says, instead of enjoying my first double weekend of the CX season thrashing myself all over the Westwood course, I instead found myself in Morristown Memorial Hospital with some bug thrashing myself internally. After last weekend's race at Ringwood I knew I was tired but as Tuesday went on I was really exhausted and then started to come down with something on Wednesday. Enough so that I scheduled a Dr's appt Thursday morning and then Thursday afternoon I wound up in the hospital.

I had the worst headache I have EVER had. It wasn't excruciating so much that I just couldn't function with it. I just wanted to sleep. That's all I did. I slept from being admitted Thursday afternoon until Sunday morning. When I went in, besides the headache, I had a 103 degree fever, chills, body aches, sensitivity to light and sound. It was horrible. So they did a battery of tests and thought it was either a bad respiratory infection, or bacterial/viral meningitis. They quickly ruled out the bacterial meningitis as that's the bad stuff that you can die from - thank goodness. Next they were still confused at to the other two. The main way to find out is to do a lumbar puncture(spinal tap) and see if there is any sign of the meningitis in the spinal fluid. From somebody that is very active, the last thing I want is someone poking around by my spine. Plus the blood thinners make it extra tricky because of the possible complications that could become.

So with the Dr's all talking - evidently just to themselves, because it seems like no one at the hospital communicated with each other - they agreed to try and reverse my blood thinners and do the spinal tap in a day or two. Fine. In that day or two I was on antibiotics and antivirals and I made a huge turnaround which prompted them to think that it wasn't the viral meningitis as that usually takes waaaaay longer. So no spinal tap was needed - officially. Whew....

So here I sit on my first day back out of the hospital and I'm living life on my own terms again. I feel so much better just to be deciding what I do and what I get to eat. I got out on the bike and all is right again. I don't know why it's so good for me or what the feeling actually is to put it into words but I can't. It's something I just need to feel like myself. I did nothing special, I went nowhere special, I did nothing inspiring, yet I felt like a million bucks just riding my bike.

Hopefully 2011 will be a more healthy year but there's still much more to do in 2010. I'll be racing cross again soon. 3 weeks to turn things back around and get on it. More fun yet to come...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pro Upgrade?!?!

So my MTB season is officially over and as I was saying previously that I would submit my race resume and see if USA Cycling would approve my request or deny me. I put all of my qualifying races as well as all my NUE finishes on my upgrade request(even though I know they are not USAC sanctioned - but figure it could help). So as of 4pm yesterday I sent it in and looked for a response...about 10 minutes later. Of course nothing. So I kept checking back and still nothing. In the morning I checked again and nothing. At work I checked during lunch and nothing. Ok, so at this point I figure it's coming later this afternoon or tomorrow. I prep myself to get turned down and figured I'd start chasing some early races in 2011 to make sure I get the upgrade next year. That sounds like a good plan. I thought that a relative good goal was to try and turn Pro by 35. 4 more years to go.

Ok at the end of work I check again...wait...there was a resolved request. Oh God. Preparing to be denied. I've worked hard to this point but knew it was going to be bad news. I check the completed request to see that USAC APPROVED MY PRO UPGRADE STATUS!!! HOLY CRAP!!! HOLY CRAP!!! HOLY CRAP!!! I really can't believe it. It seems like such a massive effort but looking back it took me 5 years of racing to get to this point. 1 year in Cat2, 2 years in Cat1 19-29, 2 years in Cat 1 30-39, and now I'll be racing Pro in 2011. I honestly thought that I would NEVER get to this point. How many people really are successful at this sport and how many make it to PRO. I'm really speechless.

It's even more impressive when I think that just over 2 months ago I was laid up in the hospital with a blood clot and my life could have been ended. I'm stunned...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ringwood Race Recap

My recap is for my first ever crack at the Pro race. ***Note to self - these guys go FAST!!!***

So from the gun it was hot and fast and somehow I found myself in 2nd spot drafting behind Aaron Snyder... not the place to be. I kept the pace up but before the initial climb I needed to tone it down and think about the long haul. So I pulled to the side and let the gaggle through. So up the first climb I was sitting 11th of 13 and was 10 seconds from 8-10th place as they were dangling in front of me. I knew it was useless to try and close quickly so I let it play out. One of the guys in front flatted and I just kept my pace steady.

By the end of lap 1 I was on my teammate BL's wheel and sitting in 10th. We crossed lap one in 37+ minutes and I knew he needed to go chase some guys for a shot at the series podium so I cranked hard and pulled him up to Greg Wagoner and let him fly by and get back to chase down those ahead. That pull HURT me. I had to dial it back and recover but stayed at a good pace. Lap 2 was ~40 minutes and a minute back from BL. Lap 3 was consistent but I was hurting from those early hard efforts. I was still strong but not fresh.

Almost to the last mile of trail and my rear tears and goes flat. Air it up - no good. Pop a tube in and no one passed in the mean time - SWEET! Cruised easily to the finish for 10th of 13in a time of just under 2 hours ride time(via garmin) - probably 2:03 total with the flat. Not DFL and I felt pretty competitive. I was hoping for 4 laps as posted but by the end of lap 3 I was glad it was 3 laps. Great day overall with some really fast company. Now I know how solid my training needs to be this winter. Game on!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Racing with the Big Dawgs...

With my series win locked up in the Cat 1 30-39 H2H series this year, I made my decision with what to do with the last MTB race of the season. I'm going to test the waters in the Pro/Cat1 division. I figure next year I'll be doing some of the Pro/Cat1 races so why not get my feet wet now and see how it goes.

4 laps at Ringwood is going to be an interesting task for sure. 4 times up those switchbacks and in through the techy final trail will make life difficult but I'm up to the challenge. I'm ready to tackle this one and then retire my MTB for the season and go full time on the cyclocross bike. I can't wait for both.

Then the next step is to decide what to do next year. Do I compete in the Pro/Cat1 series H2H races, the NUE 100 miler series, or the MASS Endurance series. I'm thinking some combination of all of those actually. It will depend a bit too based on if I get my upgrade or not. If not I will be chasing some early races to officially get that upgrade.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Decisions Decisions...

Thanks to my solid race season thus far in 2010 I've been presented with an interesting opportunity. As it sits right now I've been fortunate enough to lock up the local H2H race series for the win with 7 of the 8 races completed. This gives the great opportunity of what to do for the last race. Let's see.

The options are:

Sit it out and enjoy the series win...yea like I have the will power to do that.

Race my category and go for the win to cap off a great season - that would be nice.

Race Cat1 SS and break out the rigid singlespeed for some action - not that much fun on the Ringwood race course as there's a lot of sections to get spun out.


Race the Pro/Cat1 race...

I've really been hoping at some point to get my pro upgrade but never thought it could actually be this season that it happens. As it sits I had two wins this season, one being an AMBC race, three second places, and all of those placings were top 3 or better overall in all of Cat1. This combined with the overall win of the H2H race series this year could be enough to qualify me for the pro upgrade. Maybe if I just wish hard enough it may happen. Once the race series results are official I will submit my upgrade request and cross my fingers and hope the cycling gods agree.

So with this realization that a pro upgrade could be on my doorstep I'm thinking I should lean towards the Pro/Cat1 race for the Ringwood weekend. It would be a great learning experience at hitting 4 laps hard and be a good test to see just where I would end up on a fast course with the big guys. I'll prepare myself to get thoroughly thrashed but I think it'll be fun regardless. Just to line up next to the regulars in the Pro field would be an honor.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jungle Habitat State Championship Race

Today was a great opportunity for some power to be laid down and a race with a lot at stake. Beside being another of the 8 H2H races, it was also the State Championship and a key race in the overall series. As I was waking up and making breakfast this morning I peered out the window to see what a magnificent day it was. It was truly nice out - almost a little warm at race time.

So as we roll to the line 17 of us were there to contest the State Championship title and one one would do it. As the gun went off I hit it hard and was wondering how my legs would respond as they were a little stagnant in my warmup but that was never an indication that worried me. I hit it hard and jumped immediately into 2nd. Through the first lap a lead group of 4 or 5 quickly snapped off the front. I was in 2nd then 3rd, then 4th, then 3rd. As lap two started, my teammate Brian in front of me was unfortunaately having cleat issues and had to pull over. So now I was in 2nd. At some point during that lap I passed another teammate not in my category and just as I did I showed him how to endo and cut myself up. I did this all without unclipping and unclipped, ran, and just kept on it. I blew through a few more turns unexpectedly as the rocks were just throwing off my line but by the end of lap 2 I knew what the game was. Catch Foco...

So at the start of lap 3 I could see Roger who was in 1st place now just ahead on the twisty section but I knew he had a minute gap already. Time to put it down and gap up to him. I hit every section hard and was on the verge of that crampy feeling. I ignored it and pressed harder. I did fumble a bit on Animal Chute and had to run a corner and then decided to nut myself with my stem all in one motion so that took the wind out of my sails for a second. But I recovered well and pressed on to keep the gap I had and keep the gap down in front of me. Part of me was hoping Roger would fade or have a mechanical but not so. He just rode steady and strong and faster than me.

I came around the last corner all alone and stood and crossed the line in 2nd. I didn't know by how much or how little but the look at the results later told me. Just under 3 minutes behind Roger and then 2+ minutes back to 3rd place. A really solid finish and one that also gave me 2nd place in the State Championship - the top 3 finishers were all from NJ - and even better it gave me the overall win for the series. What a nice feeling. With one more race to go it's all locked up already.

I've done 4 races now since I've been back from my blood clot and although I've had fun and done pretty well I don't think I've had that killer mindset on the third lap. Today was definitely different. My mind was in kill mode from the start. It wasn't on moderating, or being careful it was locked in on how many corpses I could create. It was nice to be back and really ride well - besides the endo. So I'm totally satisfied with the outcome and really amazed that I bounced back to well to win the series.

The only question now is what to do with the Ringwood weekend. Race my usual cat and try to win the last one or is it time to try the Pro/Cat1 race... Decisions...decisions...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blue Mountain Chainstretcher Race Report

With fingers crossed and mud fender in hand, I rolled up to Blue Mountain to take on the Chainstretcher course. It was a wonderfully techy course that was surely an advantage to bike handlers. I got in a good warmup knowing that it was going to be a long race and knowing the lines was going to be key.

As the race went off I was in a nice group of 5 that had broken away from the rest of the pack. I sat comfortably in 3rd for the first lap and with a few efforts got into 2nd. Then back to 3rd and repeat. During the 2nd lap I was in 2nd with a little gap but 3rd and 4th were close behind. Too close. Me and the two others started lap 3 together and it was going to be interesting how it went. As the rocks and roots beat on I just lost a little bit of steam with the lack of feed spots and hydration and couldn't keep the pace. I let the two go and tried to gain the time back to pass but it just wasn't there.

I crossed the line in 4th for a good finish with 18 starters but my mind was partially on the secondary race at hand. The overall race for the H2H series championship. My goal for today was to do the best I could and hopefully keep John Arias and Steve Mancuso behind me. They are #2 and #3 in the series so I wanted to keep them at bay. And I did just that. I finished one place ahead of John but 5+ minutes ahead and Steve unfortunately had to DNF. That may have been the reason I didn't chase as hard when the two others got through. With the 4th place finish I extended my lead to 136 points. If all goes well I will be able to wrap up the overall championship next week at the State Championship race at Jungle Habitat. If I have a solid day the series is over. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for sure!

In hindsight the race would have gone better with a few changes. First and foremost eating and hydrating normally. It was just a rough course with too few opportunities to do so. Secondly I made some poor choices on the course which cost me time and I need to be smarter next time. Also it doesn't help when your garmin GPS launches off the handlebar into the leaves and you have to stop at fullspeed and find it. That hurt a bit. That was probably the 21 seconds I needed to get 2nd. All notes for next time. Experience is key...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ahhh Windham Worlds...

My day started at 2:30 am with a nice alarm and a restless night's sleep. By 3 my pancakes were made and by 3:15 the car was loaded. By 4 I met up with my teammate and his girl and we were off to worlds. Our race was at 8 am and we needed to get there to pick up our numbers and transponders and warm up to take the line. We arrived at 6 with plenty of time to do all of the above but somehow things took longer than anticipated and the warmup suffered. Ok not such a big deal. We had 4 - 3.5 mile laps and a field of around 50 or so. I figured that the first lap would be hot but I'd warm up through the race and things would heat up later.

The start comes and we're off. My legs weren't ready so I took a nice consistent pace and settled into the first climb in 15th. I wasn't worried as there was lots of climbing and I'd knew I'd get a bunch more spots on the steep ups. The plan was working nicely. By the end of lap one I was 9th and gaining ground as those that went out too fast faded. A few passed and I got a few back and now I was sitting about 7th with the lead group not far off. I figure I'd stay strong and pick more off when I could and I was feeling alright. Signs were good for a great race. The downhill came on the 2nd lap and something didn't agree with my rear tire. I had just made a great pass to get that 7th spot and drilled the downhill. I had a big gap for the next climb where I was hoping to get some more spots but that was not to be today. My tire was flat. It still had some pressure as I took the wheel off so I blasted it with co2 and put it back on for it to make it 200 feet further before it was down again.

So now I throw a tube in there and fill the tire. Great, now it wouldn't go back on easily. I fiddle and curse at the tire a bit and it finally goes in. So I jump back in and start lap 3 WAAAAAAAAAAAY behind. I was now probably last or close to it. I lost a ton of time with both wheel fixes. Whatever. I set my mind to it and ramp it up and get back out there. I pick off a bunch of riders in my group as well as others and start making a nice pace just to save face. It was nowhere near the ride I had been throwing down earlier but at least I'd finish and save face and maybe beat a few people. That worked well until the downhill of lap 3. Flat #3 Mother F'R!!! I was really pissed this time and audibly yelling in the woods. So once again I took a few more minutes to fix my tire and got rolling again. The tire was at about 50 psi this time so I figured it wouldn't blow. If it did I was running.

So I get to the start of lap 4 and I knew my teammate Lucky passed me as I had the flat so my new goal was to gap up to him and finish this dreaded race. On the first climb I hit it hard and no Lucky. Second climb - no Lucky. Damn he was riding well. Third climb - no lucky - 4th no lucky. The final climb to the top. There's my bitch :-) I saw him and laid it down. Closed it down on the climb and there was no one around us. At this point we both just wanted to finish so we rode smooth through the remaining course and went on to finish this dreaded race. He was having a blast and I had a miserable day so we rolled to the line him a length ahead of me. 35th and 36th of 42 finishers reportedly. So at least I wasn't DFL.

I was disappointed on one hand but excited on the other. My lung felt a whole lot better today and I was climbing well. My recovery felt better than the 909 race and that should set me up nicely for the Blue Mtn race. Race efforts have been the only time I've felt the effects of the embolism and they seem to be dwindling. I've got some gas in store and some pent up frustration to let out at Blue. It's going to be throw down time. 2 more weeks of recovery and efforts will set up nice for the remainder of the H2H season.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Let There be Hillz

This past week of normalcy has been nice except for the normal part. I got a lot of work done and a few good rides. It felt pretty good to get back into the swing of things - except for the work part - as I need to start paying some bills. I'm eagerly thinking ahead and starting to look ahead to next weekend. This weekend I'll be doing some workouts and getting some good saddle time in to get me prepared for what's ahead: Windham Worlds.

Looking over the site I checked out the course profile and I like what I see. I've been doing well with the climbing races and this one seems right up my alley. Something like 500 of vert right out of the gate for 2 miles sounds like fun. 4 laps of this heaven would work to my advantage. Hopefully my lung goes along for the ride on this one. For the 909 race last weekend I felt pretty good but not 100% for sure. Hopefully for Windham I'll be closer to the 100% side of things and be able to climb like normal. Last week it felt like I could go hard and not recover quickly. I'll need that ability to do well on this course. Tomorrow will be 4 weeks since my embolism and the saturday before windham will be 5 weeks so that should be enough to make some gains I hope. Only time will tell.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Comeback...

With the doctor telling me to resume normal workouts and such and feeling pretty decent prior to the 909 race, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and give it a go. I didn't know how my top end would be with a full race effort but I wanted to feel normal again and get out there. My plan was to give it what I had and if my body gave me any ill effects I would pull the plug and pedal easy to the finish or DNF if I had to. With that contingency plan and a big wad of extra tape on my seatpost(to keep my thin blood in if I had a bad fall) I decided to line up and lay it down.

I had an amazing day from the start. Once I got to the park I picked up my number and was sitting on the line again all was right in the world. I know it has only been 3 weeks since I was in the hospital for my blood clot but I didn't think I'd see the mtb any more this season. Seeing all my friends out there again was a very good feeling. It was nice just to be there and however the race unfolded was a bonus.

So from the start as we hit the uphill drag race I figured I'd punch it and see how it goes and I rounded the scoring tent in 3rd wheel. As we got through the first singletrack I was 2nd wheel, and by the first really tight and windy singletrack I was 1st wheel. Ok so things weren't going too badly. So I kept a decent pace but soon realized I wasn't 100%. I didn't feel bad but my top end was not there and probably because my lung isn't fully healed. I don't think I was absorbing enough oxygen like I normally do. Anyway, that aside, I start to ease back as John Arias and Ross got Anderson came by and over one of the next ledges my bike ghost shifts like it did the whole first part of the lap(gotta love that) and my chain explodes. Not only did it separate but the pin from the open end was lodged in the other end of the chain. So I had to chase the pins out of both ends and after I dropped the quick links like 5 times I was back on the chase after probably 4 minutes of fixing it(After some research it seems it was over 5 minutes, my GPS recorded 2:18 and my finish time was 2:23 according to scorekeeping). By this time I think I was in dead last or close as EVERYONE passed me.

So now the race started again. It was like a severely penalized slow motion start. I had to stay steady and pick off as many as I could one by one and that's what I did. I wouldn't say I was riding fast but I was riding well, consistent, and felt really comfortable out there. I was climbing hard but really couldn't recover like I normally could. In the past I felt I could give it all I had on a climb and then crest recover and go again. Not so much this time. That was the biggest difference I felt. So I rode to my new limit and I passed when I could and could have used one more lap as I didn't realize the group ahead of me was so close. I chased back up to 9th of 22 starters I believe.

Looking back over the results, and riding how I did should have put me in 5th place or maybe even 4th if my chain had not failed. So that's the most promising bit. If I can get this engine fired up again I'll be in good shape. Plus it doesn't help that after my embolism, my diet has not been the best. I did this race a full 10 lbs heavier than I've been racing regularly. That had an effect as well I'm sure. That's changing as we speak. The diet is on lockdown and the pounds will be shedding ASAP.

All in all a truly amazing day, race, and scene all together. Thanks so much for all the well wishes and everyone for checking up on me to make sure I was ok. I think we even had a little gentlemen's agreement on the line that if anybody saw me die out there they would sprint ahead for I knew there was a lot of love in the group.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Setbacks SUCK!

July 24th at 3 in the morning I awake gasping to find some air and can't find it. I try to relax and go back to sleep or find a more comfortable position just to get some more air in and no good. I end up pacing back and forth for about an hour debating what to do and then I say F it. Time for help. So I had to wake my brother and sister in law up since I was staying with them. Off to Durango CO's new hospital - Mercy Medical. In the triage and into a room very quickly a few tests were done and I was slapped in the face with the diagnosis. A pulmonary embolism. Basically a blood clot that formed and traveled to my lung and caused the massive discomfort.

For the next 2.5 days I lay in the hospital on morphine, oxycodon, and heparin for the pain and to start thinning my blood to protect me from further clots. The doc explained that I would be ok and that the body would absorb any of the current clots. I would then be placed on heavier blood thinners to prevent me from forming any futher clots and causing any damage. My lung was effected and there was a possible infection forming so I was also on an antibiotic to help fight that if it was the case. So massive meds and lots of rest were the directives for the first couple of days.

Day 1 I was totally in bed and pretty much only woke up for food. Painkillers and food were all I remember. Day 2 was better since the pain meds were getting spread out and I was awake a bit more. I even walked around the floor of the hospital and got a little bit of exercise. I went outside too for a walk but felt so weak I almost collapsed and had to go back inside and rest. Sleep, lesser pain killers, and rest was on tap for that day. Day 3 I felt 10 times better and could actually walk around the floor without losing my breath and feeling like I would collapse. I didn't feel like sleeping any more and was just itching to get out. The doc was happy with her checks and with my progress and granted my release - wohoo! I was out.

Day 4 - I was finally home and on self injections for the blood thinners. Once I got to a safe level then I could just do a different medication in pill form. So I had to do injections twice a day until my blood is regulated. At least I was out of the hospital. So of course my first day out I had to go for a bike ride. It was great to feel like a person again and be on this stupid machine that makes me feel so good.

Day 5 - Been off medication for pain for 2 days now and it's been great. Lungs feel dinged up but decent. Better than I thought they would anyway since Sunday I could barely walk without gasping for air. Went for a hike with my brother and sister in law and felt pretty good. I was not in hiking shape to begin with so I definitely had to slow down and do my own pace and just enjoy being outside. It was great.

Day 6 - Another great day and went for ride #2 since the clot. It felt pretty decent but still not pushing it at all. I figure I should give myself at least a week until I put any kind of strain on my system. So easy does it and now it's naptime. It's been a messed up week but one full of learning and motivation for later in the season. So far so good but it's still going to be a while before I'm 100% again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kittatinny Bulldog Rump Results

I know it's been said that sometimes it's better to be smart than strong. That may have been the case today. It was a rough week leading into today's race since I will be leaving to go visit my brother in Colorado tomorrow. I had to get a lot of things done and I wanted to do some things that didn't necessarily give me the absolutely perfect setup for this race but what can you happens.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and looking back today shouldn't have gone so well. Friday morning I went climbing and got really sun-burnt on my back, which was only trumped by falling off a climb and turning my ankle. Wonderful. Whatever I ignored that and it was sore but I dealt with it. Then yesterday I find a nasty gash in my rear tire so I set it up tubeless and start to do the Stan's dance...and again...and again. It seemed to be set so I was good. One less worry on a course where I have been traditionally kicked in the nuts by tire issues. Then yesterday while marking the course in a pretty solid downpour I wasn't watching the tread below and rolled my other ankle pretty hard. Wonderful. Both ankles were sore and I have a race the next day. Again...ignored it and went on. Getting home later that night the wheel was having trouble sealing - so I played with it more and about 11 pm I was satisfied with all I've done. Sleep then up at 5 to get ready to put on the race. All morning I was running around doing errands and helping out with score keeping which isn't exactly the best race prep. Around 12 pm with my race at 1 I finally got relieved(Thanks to my cousin Mike as he was a great help!!!) and went to the car to get ready. I had to seat my rear tire bead as while I was score keeping my tire went flat. So I had to tube it up and check it all out before the race even started. It seemed to be good so I just got my 20 minute warm up - so not long enough and had to be happy with that. Ok time to line up. FINALLY...

I went out in 3rd position or so. I wanted to see what the legs had as I knew it was a fast course and not many big climbs. Climbing has been my strength so I needed to play it smart. We were in a FAST train for most of the first lap and I just didn't want to do too much work so I let people though and got on their wheel. I was back and forth with Sean Cavanaugh and John Arias and we all kinda traded the lead and drafting a bit. Everyone kept steady and fast. We had a nice group of 4 or 5 leading the 30-39 field.

2nd lap my teammate Keith jumped to the front to control the pace and John and Sean and myself were right there. At the one really tight singletrack section Keith was second behind John I was on his wheel. He said to go ahead and I jumped ahead to try and gap up to John. By the end of the st I was on his wheel and it seemed to be just us 2 but evidently Keith, and Brian Shernce were right there as Keith dropped back and Brian filled his spot. Into lap two we kept it hot and John and I were constantly trading the lead and drafting. I still refused to do a lot of work and gladly let him come by and grab his wheel. During lap 2 I realized I really didn't have a lot of "snap" with my 18 hour training week in VT. It definitely put me at a bit of a disadvantage but I was riding smart.

Into lap 3 it was just John and I again although the riders behind were VERRRRRY close. On one of the first downhills John took a bad line and got shot into the woods. I asked if he was ok and he was fine and I actually was a little relieved. I started to ease back for a minute until I realized how close the hungry pack was behind me. So I pushed hard again and half way through the last lap John was back on me. He was CRUSHING the flats but I had the climbing advantage. So I tried to stay smart and set a decent pace into the final climbs. At the top of the last roller before the 3 final climbs I made my move and passed him on the left. Up the first one John was right there. Up #2 he was right there. On #3 I put all I had into the climb and had to see what gap stuck. It seemed to be about 20 feet and I stood and hit the remaining false flats HARD as I was trying to extend the gap. I hit the fast downhill and the flat to the road crossing hoping I had a big enough gap and I just buried myself. I hit the right turn in the field to see John just crossing the road and I knew I had it. I rolled up the final climb for win #2 of the season! It felt soooo good.

Especially knowing that I wasn't the sharpest today. It was probably the most intelligent and tactical race I've done thus far. I'm very satisfied with the win and there are MANY things I could have done better and I'll take it. Finishing time was 1:45:27 which was my goal to run 1:45. That should put me in the lead for the H2H series and make things very nice as we are half way to the end. Up next is a nice 3 weeks of non-racing and a well deserved 3 days off. It was hard, hot, and a lot of fun once it was all over.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lewis Morris Challenge H2H Results

Today was a good and bad day for me. Thanks to Geoff and all the Marty's guys that did a great job with organization and timing. The race was cool and fun as expected but there was some interesting unexpected stuff for me for sure.

Off the line I take 4th wheel and have John A. in my sights as he gets a small gap and I know that I need to watch him. At this point it was(I think) John, then Steve M., then myself. Through the first climb all was good and then into the down was fine and then into the switchback to teal I started to fire up and got onto John's wheel. I should have stayed there. Just as we crest the top of the rooted climb I pulled around him and took the lead. On the next downhill hard right my front tire was drifting but then it caught and I ate it HARD!!! I was tossed down and surprised that my bike and myself were still working right. I did a running cross mount after 5 passed and got back on and had no shifting from my derailleur. I would not last like that so I had to pull over. ALL OF THE HOUSING GOING TO MY REAR DERAILLEUR CAME OUT OF THE MOUNTS ON THE FRAME GIVING ME TOO MUCH SLACK. How does this even happen? So I had to stop for two minutes or so to rehang my rear derailleur cable. Once I got it back on and it was all good I WAS PISSED!!! It's soooo interesting to ride angry. Utah was up ahead once I got back on and I called out on your left and I"M ANGRY...he laughed and pulled to the side and let me go through. By the middle of the 2nd lap I was solidly in 2nd place. That's right 2nd. Holy hell how did I make up that much time that quickly. Anger - that's how. I did it poorly though. That would only make me suffer in the end.

So lap 2 once I got into 2nd I was sitting comfortably and riding well. But my bike wouldn't shift into the 3 easiest gears in the back AGAIN(just like William's Lake) but it was because that back piece of housing slipped out again. Dammit! I didn't realize it until the end but it was too late. So I pushed the big gears the whole 2nd lap and going into lap 3 my teammate Keith came up from behind and we worked together for a little bit but by that time it was too late already. I set out for lap 3 knowing impending doom was coming.

During lap 3, I started it in 2nd, and the pain started to creep in. The legs were a little cooked from that 1st and 2nd lap land speed record I was trying to set = stooopid! So I rode well but again Keith came up and I heard the Guys Bike guy pretty close as well. I climbed my heart out but it was not all there. I rounded the last corner to start lap 4 with Keith and the Guys guy right there and knew I couldn't hold them off for long. I did what I could but was shakey and hurting at that point. So I had to let them go. My next job was just to preserve 4th and that's what I did. I totally limped through a good portion of lap 3 and 4 and finished solidly in 4th but knew there was SOOO much more if I hadn't been a tool and tried to find the caloric content of LM dirt. Chalk it all up to experience. Ok and to top it off my rear tire was going flat at some point since there is 0 pressure in it right now. What a day.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

William's Lake Report

It was an amazingly hot day today! At least the storms held off but they were threatening right at the start. It was good to see 4 of my teammates show up as well. During my pre-ride I had flashbacks to the last time I rode there which was in 2006 when the race was in the series. It was good stuff and a true mtb course. I forgot how tricky some of the sections could be. There were sections where I knew people were going to bite it and they did.

Here's how my race unfolded. I started in the front row and good thing since they put 19-39 all together. After bumping elbows off the start I was in 8th but I shortly picked my way through two before getting to the big climb of the day. I knew it was four laps and HOT so I had to be careful about moderating power. I went up the first climb on my teammate Steve's wheel and picked off a few, then one more, then another, and another, until I was sitting in first half way through lap 1. Then the course started throwing in the technical aspects and the short hills and I realized I had some pretty bad shifting issues. My housing wasn't releasing the cable and causing me to not have the three rings above granny in the back. Wonderful. So with this I had to run some of the stuff since it wouldn't stay in a gear and was getting really frustrated as one went by, and the next, and so on. I did the best to hold everyone off and I had to let 5 go through and start to figure out this situation. I don't know if I went too hard or the shifting issues had me messed up but I was in a fog and starting to forget how to ride a bike. I was in a bad way for a bit there.

I made myself snap out of it and pull it together. I found out I could use the upper range of the small ring for the steep climbs and then really shift the front rings on the faster stuff. With this method I found I could ride the whole course and get a better groove on, although not as efficiently as if everything was working right for sure. So the start of the 2nd lap I at least knew my strategy for the gearing and worked that the best I could. I worked my way back up to Steve as he had the blue/yellow guy on his heels so I latched on. I rested as they pulled me into the climb and then went around to attack the climb again...hopefully feeling better this time. It worked. I crested the top but didn't see either in my rear view. So I went from 6th to 4th now. I kept strong but the b/y guy gapped back up to me and latched on hard. I couldn't shake him but lap 3 was coming up and I knew I could get him on the climb. On the little pitch leading up to the climb he started to fade back and I went hard and tried to put a nice gap on him. It worked. I never saw him again. I passed one more on lap 3 and kept it going. Lap 3 was solid and good and lap 4 I hit the climb hard again and tried to open the gap and get the 2 guys in front of me. But I never saw anyone again. So I was content with 3rd place.

It was a tough field and a good group of riders for sure. I hung out for what seemed forever to check results, and find out what the overall results were like, and I was surprised to see myself in 2nd. Thinking back I saw the leader on the side of the trail with what looked like some bad cramps. So I was really fighting for 2nd. 1st place was just under 2 minutes ahead of me. That's promising since if I had no shifting issues I would have been up there with him and possibly challenging for the win. Either way I didn't really ride well enough to win. Hell after the 1st lap I was going to be happy to finish. It was a great race and a great venue. I had forgotten how much I miss that place. Christian did a great job and it's good to see that place in such good shape.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mohican 100 Casualties

After a close look at the bike in the aftermath, I see a few things that bit the dust.

#1 - my fender :-(

This thing was a LIFE SAVER - it's totally light and worth keeping the grime out of your face for as long as possible. Since I have to get a new one now, I'll probably get two just in case.

#2 - my brakes

Of course they got destroyed but the amazing part is that I had about 3/4 pads on the rear and they BARELY made it. There is probably 1/2 a mm left on the rear. I was soooo close to burning through. On the front, those pads were brand new and they have about 1mm of pad left. Wow - it was really close for me to have to run to the finish. At least they held out long enough for me to make it.

#3 - my drivetrain

I'm not sure what exactly is shot but I'm going to be careful and check over everything. I want to examine the chain, cassette, and chainrings to make sure they are solid for the next effort.

#4 - my derailleur hanger

Shifting was a bit erratic once I hit the ground one of the 3 times so I'm going to look at that closely to make sure either the hanger is straight or that my derailleur is not tweaked.

Outside of that the rest looks pretty good. I'm still debating on what to do with those grip shifts though... I really do love them since they are light and bulletproof, but my venture through the mud this weekend with my non-shifting ability really had me aggravated. They've been fine for everything else, but these muddy races really may need triggers to be successful. I bet I could have shaved a couple of minutes off just by not having to mess with the shifting. Maybe 10 minutes or more overall. That would have been the difference in moving up a bunch more places. More insight for next time...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Time Goals Analyzed

I had previously posted that my time goals were as follows:

Aid 1 - Mile 20 - 1:55
Aid 2 - Mile 34 - 2:55
Aid 3 - Mile 46 - 3:50
Aid 4 - Mile 72 - 5:40
Aid 3 - Mile 80 - 6:35
Aid 5 - Mile 92 - 7:10
Finish - Mile 100 - 7:55

Here were my actual times:

Aid 1 - Mile 20 - 1:53
Aid 2 - Mile 34 - 3:23
Aid 3 - Mile 46 - 4:30
Aid 4 - Mile 72 - 6:32
Aid 3 - Mile 80 - 7:30
Aid 5 - Mile 92 - 8:08
Finish - Mile 100 - 8:56

Food for thought for next year...

Also I'm not too sure about what to do with the grip shifts in nasty weather. I struggled a lot with them. Maybe I need to put on some triggers for bad weather.

Mohican 100 Race Recap

The weather preceeding the Mohican 100 was downright miserable. From the Wednesday before the race it had been raining pretty much non-stop. The weather forecast said that there might be a clear day on the friday before the race and sun so hopefully it would dry things up a bit. Well...that didn't happen. Lucky and I rolled into town Friday afternoon heading to do a preride at about 2pm. As we rolled into town at about 1:30 we were graciously met with a hail storm that made us run for cover. It was golf ball sized hail coming down with such force that we were worried about losing the windshield. We darted down the nearest back street and hid behind a shed to shield the element the best we could and rode out the hailstorm. It lasted for about 15 minutes which was a little intimidating since we were in tornado country. All was well though as it cleared up and we decided to check into the hotel and go for our preride on the road instead. At least that way if another thunderstorm came rolling through we could get to safety quicker.

Friday night we cleaned up from our pre-ride and went over to race HQ and checked in. From there we went to the local pizza joint to get some pasta and pizza. Time to carb up for the long day ahead. After that we went back to the hotel to check the weather for the 500 billionth time and get the bikes and drop bags ready. All was well and we were in bed by 10:30 and ready to roll the next morning.

We rolled to the line shortly before 7 am and joined the massive group that had collected in the middle of downtown Loudonville. For the two races almost 600 toed the line. It was an impressive sight. From the gun we went out quickly and I jumped on Harlan Price's wheel into the paved climb out of town. I wanted to get in front early and avoid the early bottleneck and I did just that. I stood on the first hills and passed many and was up in the first 25 or so to the top of the hill. I then passed a few more on the farm road going into the singletrack and was happy with my placing. The course was grimy as hell. It was sketchy going up and down. It was truly a bike handler's course. I did find myself in good company as I looked to my right around mile 5 to see Josh Tostado rolling next to me. We climbed a few more hills and he walked away as I knew he would finish strong.

Through the opening 30 miles of singletrack it was tough to handle but still fairly quick. I went down 2 times with no warning and it really dinged my knee the first time. As I went on I had to hold back and fight the pain and swelling and eventually it subsided and I pressed on. I rolled up behind Andy Gorski and we put a nice effort to get through the singletrack system at a pretty quick clip. I knew he was a very strong and solid rider so I used him to help me pace. We got to the horse trail part of the system and I had some shifting issues so Andy rolled away from me. I was fine with that as I needed to settle in anyway. Not long after that I rolled into aid 2.

At aid 2 I washed the bike, lubed, got water, and a pb&j. I forgot how grimy the trails were right after that aid station. They weren't bad as I saw Gerry Pflug riding through and eventually got on his wheel. I took another nice spill but got up and got back to Gerry. We hit the next road sections pretty hard as there were 3 of us. So we worked together and got through that section of roads pretty quickly. They were gravel or paved roads and familiar turns as they came up. Each one wasn't that bad though. We hit the top of the one climb and then we hit the singletrack where I knew we were headed into aid #3.

At aid 3 again I washed the bike, lubed, grabbed my flask, water and was out quickly into the powerline climb. The climb was tough but all rideable. Once I hit the top I entered a few doubletrack trail which led to some gravel road. I made up some speed here and worked my way to the right hand turn that was a river but gave way to the gravel road up through the camp. There was a fireroad after this that gave way to the fern trails. These were grimy but not that tough. It soon gave way to gravel road again. This then lead to the dreaded rail trail. 12 miles of pure fun. The first section is nice and flat for about 4 miles. Then once you cross the road it's 4 miles of false flat up, then the muddy pit, then 4 miles of false down that runs into aid 4. Here I grabbed some lube, a coke, my flask, and I was out. I was feeling kinda down through this past section and was motivated once the woman told me that I was the 17th person through. Ok now I had to get moving again. I was on it again.

From 4 there was a short road section which lead to a nice dirt road climb that was extended but steady. Then it turned to a few gravel roads again. Next up was the right into the valley singletrack. This was horrendous but not as bad as the climb out. Up through the ravine climb it was slick but once the top was gained it was all good going down and right up to the suspension bridge. Riding over and through I got back to aid 3 again and that's where the sky opened up.

I was planning on stopping for a bottle but I still had one on the bike and I thought I'd stay on my pace until the next aid station where I'd stop. So through the torrential downpour I kept on it and got up my nemesis hill. Here I once again joined Gerry Pflug and we climbed the next few miles of gravel road together and hit the final piece of dirt leading to the creek crossing and the final road to aid 5. I kept a good pace and was chatting with Gerry as to hopefully not having to do the last section of singletrack. It was in such poor condition that it would have been smarter for the race officials to send us back via the bike path to save the trails. Unfortunately as we approached aid 5 we were sent into the grimy 6 miles of st that was left. I just wanted to get it over with so we took off and hit the section hard.

Through the last section I just kept a steady pace as no one was in sight anywhere. Into the campground they actually gave us a nice finish and didn't torture us. Or so I thought. We actually had to ford a raging river less than a mile before the finish. This was fine except for the two guys in front of me holding me up. They were so tentative that I was getting annoyed that they wouldn't go faster. All I could do was wait though. Once I got through I stomped passed the guys in front of me that were doing the 100k and glanced down at my computer to see that I could finish in under 9 hours. Holy crap. I didn't think at ANY point that it was going to be possible to do that.

I crossed the line in 8:56:53 in 12th place in open mens and 15th overall. I was totally stoked to hear that. What a great race but horrid conditions. Definitely my best finish so far in the 100 milers. I'm really glad to be back home now and not in the rainy slop that I had to run through yesterday. I'm sore, I'm tired, and I'm happy that this race is over. Now I want to make plans to go back next year. :-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On the door step of the Mohican

I sit here packing all my gear and reviewing former write-ups and data and try to plan for what's to come Saturday morning. I remember the course pretty well as it really fits my riding style. I think I can go pretty hard consistently and do well if there's no really long extended climbs. That describes the Mohican to a T. So I figure I need to set my game plan. Here's what I figured:

Last year I finished in 8:30 with an amazing race. I was solid the whole time - everything was dialed - and I was REALLY happy with my result. Given that here's what my splits were going into each aid station the best I can figure.

20 2:00
34 3:05
46 4:05
72 6:00
80 7:00
92 7:40
100 8:30

As far as I can see the past few days in Ohio it has been rainy and pretty sloppy and the forecast isn't supposed to get much better. So I'm going to totally ignore that, be optimistic and set my goals like it's going to be dry(yea I know that's stupid). But that's how I'm going to approach this. Given the conditions I'm hearing about, if I cut the same time as last year I'd be happy but again - I'm trying to be oblivious ;-D

So here's the time goals. After compiling and calculating the data(actually just guestimating) here's what I've come up with.

20 1:55
34 2:55
46 3:50
72 5:40
80 6:35
92 7:10
100 7:55

The plan is simple - all I need to do is cut 5 minutes off of each section and I should have my goal time of a sub 8:00. I'll have these numbers on me to compare and see when and where I need to get my a$$ in gear. Hopefully it'll work. We'll see soon enough. Either way it's nice to have numbers to chase. It'll be like 7 mini time trials all in sequence. Looks like fun eh?


Sunday, May 23, 2010

1st Place Never Felt So Good!!!! - Tymor Recap

Today was the Tymor Park Challenge in Lagrangeville NY. It's always a race that is a little crazy since they have a great choice of hills to throw in and the rain there always makes the course a disaster. So with this one coming up I wasn't sure how to prepare but I was just hoping for the best and heading up ready for anything. And to sum it up in one word - AMAZING!!!

For those of you that bagged the race because it was going to rain....TOO BAD!!! It was amazing!!! The course was bone dry and even dusty in sections. The hill was still painful and flowed much better in the course. It was just great in general.

The CAT1 30-39 race went off with probably 20+ guys and went out fast. My teammate Keith got the hole shot and I jumped on his wheel. He peeled over so I could get around him and Roger Foco beat me to the punch and had the better gear and momentum. I hit the first hill with too big of a gear and panicked to downshift and finally recovered to jump onto Roger's wheel. From here we started the pain train motoring through the fast swoopy singetrack. On one left hand corner Roger slid out and hit the ground blocking the trail so I had to jam on the brakes. Steve Mancuso got through but Marco Mora squirted through on the left as Roger got up. We hit it hard and got to the fire road where I was getting antsy and jumped to the front. I knew the course well and I just wanted to get to the hill to put a solid effort in. As I put it down I had Steve with me and others falling behind. Steve and I were opening up a nice gap passing the previous classes as we cruised. Into the hill we went - I put it down and Steve stuck right with me. Awesome! It was great to have a teammate with me. We hit the top of the hill and drilled the down and were all alone together into lap two.

This duo of Steve and myself stuck into the hill once more. I asked him if he wanted to pass and take a pull but he said he liked his spot and we kept on drilling it. We picked off more people here and there and just kept it super steady. As we hit the hill for round two I was feeling more confident about the effort needed to get to the top fast and wanted to push it up a notch as I had it dialed. I pushed harder and harder and got to the top and saw that I had opened up a gap on Steve. I knew it wouldn't be long before he joined me again. So out of the end of lap 2 I was solo in the lead.

I kept on it passing some here and there and passed Brian Kelley on the SS(later I found out he was the SS leader) which he immediately jumped on my wheel. We rode together for the majority of the 3rd lap with the sounds of brakes and hard shifting not too far off. I knew I had to keep on it as to hold off the charging mob. As we hit the hill for round 3 the pain started setting in and I was right on the verge of cramping. We were going so hard that if I pushed just a bit more I would have cramped solid. Either way I wasn't giving in and I refused to ride the hill easily as I was worried about what was close behind. So I put everything into finishing that last lap as hard as I could. I said hi to Wendi as I was about to hit the field and started hooting and hollering a bit and hit big ring and crushed it across the field. I looked back to see only Brian and Wendi in the field so I knew I had the win. I cruised in for a finish time of 1:36:37 in first place. It felt sooooo good!

I rolled across the line and of course was curious about what unfolded behind me so I turned around to see the finish order and just under a minute later RFJ came rolling in with Mancuso shortly behind and John Arias a little behind him. The 4 of us were all within 3 minutes of each other. It was an amazing race. What a bunch of fit doods and just great racers in general.

I just looked over my garmin data:
Lap1 31:38
Lap2 32:19
Lap3 32:50

Holy consistency. What a day!!!!!!!!!

I'm tired now... :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Giro de Cielo 2010

Two more days of cycling are officially in the books. Yesterday and today my teammate BL and I went up to the land of cheese to compete in the Giro de Cielo. It was originally designated a women's event in its inception but has grown to include a CAT3 and CAT4/5 race. Me being the road racing NOOB, I entered the CAT4/5 as this weekend would be what's needed to officially get my 10 mass starts and FINALLY get to the CAT4 status. The weekend consisted of a 4.5 mile hill climb up Sunrise Mountain and then later that afternoon was a 15 mile 22 lap crit.

The TT was my event. I knew that my road racing skills aren't the best since I sprint like an elephant stuck in the mud. So I wanted to do the most damage I could then and hopefully get some nice points for the General Classification competition. I went off at 8:35:30 and I went out HARD. It was good but I was feeling kinda bleh. Not really snappy like I was hoping. Each time the road pitched up I tried to keep the pedals spinning quickly and tried to reach that man just in front of me. My 30 sec man I caught probably half way up the climb. He was good on the flatter sections, but as it pitched up, he fell back and I passed him with a nice burst and set out to catch my 1:00 man. I didn't see him for a bit but as it pitched up again he came into view and he was falling back. The problem was that I was running out of road to get him. So as I made the final steeper ascent to the top of the mountain I was reeling him in hard but the line came up. I was probably 10 seconds off of my 1:00 man at the top. I was satisfied with how I did but definitely felt I had more. It turns out I didn't do so badly. I was 3rd in the HC and pretty satisfied with that as #1 and #2 ahead were pretty far ahead 30+ seconds so that was a relief. Next up was the crit.

Later that afternoon after some food and some chill time I lined up for the crit. 60 or so of us toed the line and with a boring(non-hilly) course and a tight course as it was still open for traffic would make things interesting. Oh and throw in a nice 20 mph headwind on top of the one little hill it had. So we set off after a sweet call up :-) which I was happy to oblige since I was 3rd in the previous event. The first lap was a nice casual chat lap since it was neutral but once the whistle sounded it was on. It was hot and sketchy. I had the guy in front of me which I thought was a decent wheel, hit a cone since he was not riding with his head up and almost throw it right into my wheel. F-that racer I found a new wheel really quickly. I worked my plan and stayed at the front. I wanted to go for one of the GC bonus sprints since they were giving out GC bonus points. I knew the sprint would hurt at the end but I might be able to sneak out some more points. Nope. I put in a big effort to go with a break and get out front but we got gobbled up and spit right to the back. So now I had to work my way back to the front. With 4 to go I figured I'd try an attack and get off the front to avoid the final sprint. They all had me marked as I attacked hard but they were ready and just jumped on my wheel. CRAP! Fail #2. Ok so it was just to stay at the front and salvage what I could. Around the 2nd corner to the finish it heated up and I stayed with whatever wheel I could. I rode the gutter to get around those that faded early and finished strong but not as far up as I'd liked. 17th and out of the GC points. Maybe tomorrow would be better...

So this morning we showed up early and got all warmed up, and then cooled down as the ladies race had a crash which pushed us back. So I used the time to work on strategy. My two efforts were again #1 to go for GC points prime, and find a spot to attack for the finish since I didn't want to wait for the sprint. All was good and into the prime sprint I got out ahead with a small break but got gobbled up. DAMN! No good. So now my move was to find a spot for the final attack. I waited, and waited, and waited for the last lap. There was a team on the front controlling the pace and I was right with them leading into the final mile of the course. It consisted of two hills, a hard right hand turn, and two more hills with the finish on the top of the last hill. As we hit the first hill the team in front of me said to the pace guy to hold back and just set a tempo. To me this said attack fool! So I went - around the right I stood up and charged. As I rolled off the front I heard don't attack - let him go. WTF??? REALLY! I hit it twice as hard then. I looked back to see the pack fading. SWEET!!! I hit the 2nd hill and looked back and saw the pack 150 yds back. Sweet they were holding back. I hit the right turn - same margin. This might stick!!! Up the next hill - looking back uh oh they are getting closer. The final hill - I was ducking for cover as this massive freight train that is the peleton gobbled me up. I was 100 yards from the finish line as I was giving it all I could and this train of testosterone flew by like I was on a tricycle. I did what I could to get to the line but I was absolutely gassed trying to get to the line. I went from 2nd to 44th in a heartbeat.

I'm really happy with myself for attempting that move. The more I think about it, the happier I am with that then sitting in and settling for 20 something in the sprint. I know now what it takes to get away and stay away and it's all in the experience bank. To suffer that much and get hammered at the line just makes it that much more interesting the next time that situation arises. I think 2 things should have happened. I should have gone sooner as it would have let me roll into the first hill and get an even bigger gap. The other thing was to stay out of the wind more. I got caught on the front a few times and had to use more energy than I wanted to. Maybe if I actually did this road thing more than 4 times a year I could figure it all out :-)

Any way I finished 12th in the GC out of 50. I'll take it since my heart is really in the dirt. As much fun as these races were, I really want to throw down in the dirt next weekend. Tymor is coming up and I can't wait for this race. It should be a blast!!!