Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bikes for sale!

Time to make room for some new rides. Up for sale is my 2011 Trek Superfly Elite Carbon Hardtail and my 2009 Trek Madone 5.1 Carbon Road Bike. Both are in amazing condition and need new homes. Check them out via the links below(copy and paste):

Monday, December 5, 2011


Well as you might have thought/feared - my dad passed November 19th just after 10pm. It was the worst day of my life. I lost my best friend and the best father anyone could have ever had. It's been a struggle to do anything since really. There's not a day that goes by where I'm not thinking of him or talking to him for comfort or asking advice. He's always been there for me and always will. He's a part of me now and I really can feel that he's watching over me and comforting me at times. People say it's hard, but I could never imagine the hurt that I feel now. I really miss him every second of every day.

...On a more positive note, I've been trying to drown my sorrows in the search for a new bike. It's kinda ironic with the lack of riding I've done lately but I figured what the hell. I actually did a race the day after my father's memorial ceremony and that was really tough to get through. I had no fitness and no mental focus but somehow finished, and wasn't last. That was a huge success. So every now and then when I actually get the motivation to ride, I try and get a few hours in. I'm hoping it gets easier and easier and I get back into the normal routine at some point. My goal at this point is to start my base miles and cut weight for the 2012 season. I'd like to get back to 155 for next season and I set a goal of hitting 158 by January 1st as I'm 168 now. I know that will help me tremendously with the infamous power to weight ratio, and more than that, my confidence which really matters. Right now it's all tough and just trying to figure it out and see what really matters.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Save Dad...

So my world has been turned upside down with the recent decline of my father's health. He has been fighting lung cancer for a few months now and it's getting the better of him. While he's done really well and fighting pretty fiercely, it's taking its toll and he's losing the fight. With a few complications from the disease, he has been in really bad shape and we've almost lost him twice. Needless to say my focus on racing and fitness has hit the back burner. The most important thing right now is my dad. He's been the most amazing Dad that anyone could ever have and I'm losing my best friend. It's been absolutely horrible to watch him go through this, and anyone that smokes should go through this to see what it does to a person. Nobody would want to smoke. So keep him in your thoughts and prayers... I LOVE YOU DAD!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

HPCX Race Report

I don't know why I got out of bed for this one. I knew the conditions were going to be bad but I was not prepared for this. For the first thing it was my first foray into the UCI Elite mens cx field and they are rediculously fast. It's fun racing the 1/2/3's locally but this is a totally different animal all together. I took off fine with the group and fumbled a bit in the conditions. I knew I'd settle in and work my way back through a couple of the close guys. Yea no chance... I hit the first down hill - literally - and blew out my front tubular. I didn't know it at the time since they flat very slowly so I rode further and wondered why I felt every rock and root and yup it was flat. I was sooooo freakin pissed at this. I refused to get off the bike and rode it the remainder of the opening 1/2 lap until I could get to the pit - it was a looooong way but it would be much better than running the entire way. I took a few seconds to get my pit bike and I should have just bagged it there. But as stupidity would have it - I kept going. I tried to start closing that gap that opened up to the man in front of me but my worn out Kommandos on my pit bike were no match for that mud. It was all the tubular tires or nothing...and I got nothing.

I tried to ride it out as long as I could before they would pull me and as I rounded a nice hard right turn 180 I fell off the bike and landed completely on my left side in a deep mud puddle. I got up disgusted and kept pedaling. Past the scorers table for lap 1 and they didn't pull me. I was upset and glad at the same time. At least I'd get to do two laps. So I kept on the second lap and muddled through the best I could running a lot of what wasn't really rideable at all. The conditions were horrid. One uphill was so bad I tried to muscle up it and with the power I was trying to put down(and the mud in between my chamois and my saddle)it forced me off the back of the bike and I landed on the back tire in not so good of a place. Twice. So on to lap two I passed the scorers table again and they didn't pull me. What the heck? I just wanted it to be over with. On the last lap I actually had some better lines going, but any effort at that point was futile. I saw the leaders coming up and just wanted it to be over with. Finally at the end of lap 3 they pulled me. Thank goodness.

Yup worst race ever. My first ever DFL and I got pulled. What an amazingly awful day. Thank goodness I like to race my mountain bike. If this was the only type of racing I do I'd probably hang it up for good after this one. I won't be racing in conditions like that again. It was just dumb. I'm so glad that I'll be cleaning those two bikes for the next week and trying to figure out my tire situation so I can race next Sunday. Sometimes I wonder why I do this and days like today remind me that sometimes I probably shouldn't...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

West Point CX Race Recap

Earlier in the week I was going to preregister for the race and I logged into Bikereg and found out that the race category I wanted to participate in disappeared. The race itself was still on but no Mens A 1/2/3 category. So I emailed the promoter and they said they cancelled the race as no one signed up. They had no idea that most of the A racers wait until the last minute to sign up. Anyway with some begging they decided to hold the race and I was much happier as I wanted the two hard efforts this weekend. So anyway the race was on and BL and I piled into the hamstermobile and headed up to see what this place was all about. As I waited for BL to arrive at my place I was texted by Weber that it was a mtb course and bring your skills. So with that I was excited and curious at the same point. I figured it was going to be just BL and myself and a few collegiate riders and more A racers showed up and less collegiates showed up.

On the line it was myself, BL, JP, Gavi, and two cadets to our right. So small field and small lap. Off we go and I wasn't sure if my legs would show up after my effort yesterday or not. I hit it hard and find myself getting the holeshot and BL following me followed by the rest following us :D Into a few chicanes I open up a gap on BL who was checking the grippyness of his tires and I just drilled it as the others were falling back. I was getting a gap and I just kept my head down. I didn't know how long it would take till Gavi got around me but I knew at some point he would, unless a leg fell off. So I lead the entire first lap and I hear Gavi sneaking up. Through one of the tight turns with Gavi on my wheel I decide to blow through a taped corner and luckily no tape gets caught but throws me off a bit and opening up a nice line for the rest that are following. BL said he liked the course change ;) 1/4 of the way through lap 2 there's a nice open road section and Gavi attacks. I figured he'd at least hang on me for a few laps and let me blow up but no - he was pedaling hard! So I tried to jump on him and respond but I could fully do it. I tried instead to keep him close through the tight twisty, mtb type sections.

Weber was right, it was a tough, tight course. Hard twisty rocky uphills followed by two sandpits followed by stupid tight lifesucking s-turns. So I kept Gavi close but he was steadily opening a gap. Lap by lap he was opening that gap further but not by as much as I thought he would. He got a little extra distance as I piled it up on a nice loose off camber turn(with the entire Kucharski family cheering me on as I fell), but I got up quickly and calmly got back into a rhythm. It seemed futile to close the gap but there were two dreaded sandpits that I hoped he would falter in - he didn't. Actually towards the end of the race he sat up to hopefully not lap one of the cadets and BL yelled to me the news and I closed down some of the gap but he saw me coming and kept on it lapping the cadet. I finished a minute or two behind Gavi and pretty satisfied with how the race went and especially that I felt good after a hard effort yesterday.

Cross is awesome! 2nd place of the 6 at the line and I got my race fee back! Wohoo! It seems that most of the Bulldogs had a really good day today. Gerilyn, Ted, Mike, Weber, BL, and myself were in attendance and it seemed to really cater to our good mtb skills. Great seeing everyone out there!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

CX season officially underway! Morris CX Recap

The race went pretty well today. My goal was to not get lapped by the big guys and beat someone - not really I just wanted to beat everyone but a few of those guys weren't going to let that happen. I wasn't sure how it would go as it was the first cx race of the season. Especially since I was on my personally glued tubular tires that I tried for the first time this past weekend. If the tires stayed on I would be happy. So 18 of us toed the line and they did call ups for those that did hillbilly so I found myself in the second row behind someone. Anyway we took off and the big guys took off harder of course. There was some shuffling as there was a lot of brake checking here and there but it got into a nice single file race pretty quickly. I felt ok and kept plugging along and seeing where I could make a more or not. I was waaaaay too patient to make a move. I should have been more aggressive so I just stayed in line. I was in the middle of the pack somewhere.

I saw a couple behind and a bunch ahead but I was focused on the man in front of me. It was Kyle at this point(2nd lap?3rd lap?) and I was closing on him and being patient to get around him at the right time. Just ahead of him was Foco so I was anxious to make the pass and get onto Rogers wheel. So into one of the hard 180's Kyle brakes too hard with the front wheel and it slides out and he goes down. I brake to avoid him and the same thing happens to me. He stalls me from getting around him and Dave Wilson shoots by. Dammit! so now we both recover and Kyle is behind me and Dave gets a good gap. CRAP! Dave is setting a good pace and gets through a few and I just keep it steady to let the race unfold. I start to concentrate on opening the gap on Kyle. It opens little by little and then I look up and see Alejandro in front of me(cue the Lady Gaga really - it popped into my head). So I start trying to close the gap on him and it was working. I made some mistakes here and there and the gap starts to close. Then with about 2 laps to go he takes off and opens the gap wide as he cuts through 3 or 4 that seem to be fading. Using that momentum I try to speed up as well and the next guy I see is Dave Wilson coming back to me. I put it down but there wasn't enough room to get him. One more lap and I would have had him most likely.

So all along while I'm tracking Dave down there were two guys fighting it out behind me and I kept a close eye on them to see where they were and if they would attack. They didn't but I see the black kit of Mike Yozell coming through the tow riders behind and coming up fast. He was on a mission. So now my mission was to stay ahead of him and try and get Dave at the last second if possible. Into the spiral of death I was closing on Dave and holding off Mike at the same time. With little to no runout after the finish line the race ended as it did going into the spiral. I couldn't get to Dave. He finished 10 seconds ahead of me while Mike finished about 10 seconds behind me. I was so happy to finish ahead of Mike as I thought he was the leader and I'd be holding him off so I didn't get lapped. He wasn't - he flatted somewhere in there and was chasing back on so I held him off for the better finish. I'll take it!

12th of 18 was where I ended up and that's fine for me as I'm starting to get back into the groove of racing in small circles again. What a great race - awesome field of 18 - and a great crowd around cheering us on while we tried not to vomit. I almost did at 38 minutes in. Average HR was 180 and I hit a max of 188 at some point. The new race format was nice as the A race wasn't the last part of the day with 5 people and no spectators. This makes it SOOOOO much more enjoyable. A much better vibe was felt all over the event. It was fun and I can't wait to do it again tomorrow at West Point. Should be fun. Good to see everyone out there!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bagels and Bacon Short Track #2

Ok so I said MTB season was over but almost. This race was a cross type race on the MTB bikes. 40 minutes of an all out effort with a field of ~36 racers. It was good since it would tell me how my engine was going to handle this type of intensity. I knew through the rest of the season my endurance was good but going this hard for this short of a time period usually takes some time to get used to. It hurt.

I took off and was 2nd row on the start but made sure I got to the front early. I was sitting 4th into the first climb and then just stayed steady to see if anyone would come around. We were going hard enough that they couldn't. So I sat on 3rd place's wheel to see where he would make a mistake and where I could pass. Sure enough his pace slowed up so I was planning my pass and where the course split - one high line and one low line - he went low and I went high. I lit up the upper line as I knew I was more confident there and by the time the course came back together I had a couple second gap on him. So I just laid it down and patiently stretched the gap and started to work up to Monte. Maurice was killing it and in the lead by a decent margin so my battle was to get up to Monte and the race would unfold behind me(hopefully). So on I kept the pace and I started to close on Monte in lap #3. Up to the top of the 2nd part of the first climb I see him getting closer and closer. As I hit the garden - getting antsy knowing he's right there - I bobble and can't get clipped in. I hit the following downhill and rocky stream crossing not clipped in. CRAP! I was unsettled with not being clipped in so I had to be conservative and the gap reopened. My mistake.

I got back in the pedal and began search and destroy mode again. I hit every hill hard and looked for the remaining lap card. I thought we'd be doing 5 laps but then the cards suggested 6. So I knew just how to pace myself. I was hoping to regain sight of Mike but he was just out of range. I made up some time as my 5th and 6th lap got faster and faster but I wasn't close enough to challenge Mike at the end. I was in nowhere's-ville. Couldn't see ahead or behind so I let up a bit and cruised to the finish. 45 seconds away from Monte and 1:30 from Freddy who was chasing. Pretty decent gaps but not that great if there was the slightest error. Such a fun discipline. It was a fo real mtb course in a cx format. Pretty fun. 3rd place was the finish and I was happy with that. Hopefully this bodes well for my cx season that follows. Now it's really officially CX season :-)

Here's a great video recap of the event. Check it out! Great job filming and editing!

Wawayanda H2H #8 Recap

My race strategy was pretty simple. Try to not kill it off the line and ride consistently smooth through the rough stuff and see what time I could make up in there. I took off and sat comfortably in 5th of 11 through all of sitting bear and the white trail up to the lake. Just after the lake I was trying to manage killing all those nasty puddles and finding an line(if it existed)and I see John A sneaking up behind and I let him pass to use him as motivation to get back to the lead 4 ahead. This was good and bad. John had a good pace going but a couple of sections held him back and that held me back. Anyway through the S/F line I was 10 seconds back and I figured I'd make it up on the cross hike-a-bike into Little Bear. I did just that and used a lot of effort to hit the runup hard and remounted ahead of him. I stayed on it through Sitting Bear and felt like I rode it a little more solidly. John was still close behind so on the climb up to and through white I attacked. I dropped down by the lake and saw no sight of him the rest of the lap.

Into sitting bear on the 3rd lap I felt like I couldn't find the groove. Actually I never had the groove all day, it just was really bad on the 3rd lap. It felt more like I went to shift to a higher gear and I blew up my clutch. I really didn't feel like I was warmed up at all or could really get my heart rate up. All of the puddles seemed like a black hole to me. I misjudged everyone and they gave me something unexpected every time. I was getting really frustrated. At the end of sitting bear I could see Brian Kelly sneaking up and then I looked back and Matt Miller was through him and coming for me. Great. So Matt beat me to the fire road and into white. Now I wanted to stay on his wheel but I couldn't. I made too many mistakes. So as I drifted back on white Brian passed me. I knew I was fading so at this point I just kept on and tried to stop the bleeding. I rode from there on slipping all over and totally off my game.

Anticipating what the bike would do never happened from that point on. It was totally erratic. I think I hit every underwater obstacle that was out there. But into red somehow Matt was still in sight. So I said to myself that I'll close the gap a little and then on the last climb after the plank bridge I'll attack him and go for the pass. I never made it that far. In my attempt to close the gap after the red trails merged I took some lines in those nasty puddles that literally threw me off the trail. I hit one and launched right into the woods. I got back up to speed and the next one launched me left into the woods. Each time narrowly avoiding death by pine tree. It was ridiculous. In one of the puddles I had to put my feet down while still stradling the bike and my saddle slammed into my tail bone. It's over a week later and still REALLY sore. Probably bruised the hell out of it. I just wanted to keep it upright from there till the end so I kicked it back a notch since there was no one around me. I got up that final climb after the long plank bridge and looked back to see if I was clear and I see John A. right behind me with that "look"....crap. As soon as I saw him I put every ounce of juice I had left into blasting that downhill and making sure he couldn't pass me going into the finish. If he was getting past me, he would have to work hard to do it.

So I ended up in 7th of 11 starters and 2nd in the state. BL told me that it was awesome watching John and I sprint for 2nd place in the state and I had absolutely no clue that's what we were racing for. It was just that competitive edge that wanted to keep him behind me at all cost :-). I was a little disappointed since I think I could have had 5th. Matt was definitely in sight(got me by 7 secs dammit!) and if I did a couple things better I think I could have had Brian behind me. But that's the good 'ol "IF" game. So even though I didn't race that well it was fun to be out there riding circles in the slop. I'm ready for MTB season to end. Hello CX.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blue Mountain Chainstretcher Recap

After preriding the Thursday before in the rain and slop I wasn't quite sure how good the conditions would be on race day. The days preceeding the race the weather was clear but cool. So I figured the course would be a bit slick but in much better shape than on my preride. I was pretty much right on with the conditions and my course inspection the day of confirmed this. I was ready to roll. I didn't know if my legs would show up but it is my favorite course of the H2H calendar so I hoped they would.

I lined up with 7 of us total - so a small field but some strong competitors. Off the line I sit in about 4th or 5th as I see BL and Greg up the road and I get a stick stuck in my back wheel. Not just any stick, one that was literally 20 feet long. It was basically a tree that was on the side of the trail that a racer in front of me turned and jammed into my wheel stopping me instantly. It took a bit to get it untangled, check out my gear, put my chain back on and get going again. Wonderful, 1/4 mile into the race and I'm starting dead last with a 30 second defeceit. Yippee...

So I kept on and worked my way up to one guy who blocked me a few times and made me unhappy. So I passed him and fell on the ground shortly after...awesome. I rode pretty sloppily trying to get back into the groove and then I passed another. Ok this is getting better. Still fumbling through the normally good techy stuff I started pulling it together little by little. Continuing on I started lap 2 and I got into search and destroy mode. I rode everything smoothly and I had that fire again...YES! This was severely missing for the last two races(not good for a 100 miler and a 50 miler). I put the hammer down and started to see John and BL ahead of me in the twisties and knew I could get to them in the singletrack. I rode up on John and BL as they weren't far apart. I rode on Johns wheel and then got around and looked back as he couldn't hold the pace. So now it was BL and me to set the pace.

BL let me by in the singletrack as I had the groove going but as soon as we got to the fire roads he would hit that high HP and blast right by. Then I'd gap back to him in the singletrack and do it all over again. It was great riding so close to a teammate and pulling away from the competition behind. So we kept this up and at the start of lap 3 BL pulled away on the fire road and as I was trying to close the gap to him I took a hard fall. Sliced open my elbow and bashed my hip pretty good. I had to put my chain back on again, regain my composure, and start cranking hard. I did find the groove later but by that time the course was quickly coming to an end.

I finished 4th of 7, 1:30 behind BL, and it was a great day. Felt pretty good and had some fun doing some dirt surfing. It was a great race and the food afterwards at the Peekskill Brewery was awesome! It was a good result for how I felt and for the few mistakes I made. I put it all out there as I did have some cramping sneaking in for part of the 3rd lap. If things go smoother next time I hope to climb a little higher in the ranks. Hopefully for the next MTB race, the H2H #8 at Wawayanda, there will be more competitors and more fun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Getting through the blahs...

In the middle of the SM100 I wanted to give up my racing career and sell all my bikes and take up basket weaving. This still sounds kinda nice but I need to get serious and get my head back on straight. The season is just about half over race wise...seriously. I usually end up doing somewhere around the 20 mark and I'm a little over half way there. CX season is on the horizon(yea I know for most it's in full swing) and I'm looking forward to the promise of an hour of pain and playing in the mud.

The spark I had for racing all but flickered out in Virginia and I'm slowly getting it back. With the few MTB races left in the northeast I want to do a couple more and there's some opportunities to do it on some of my favorite terrain so I have to partake. I'm finding the itch to race again and getting some of the pooled blood out of my legs from the crash before the SM100. I did some CX efforts tonight with my team and it felt pretty good but definitely not 100%. The promise is that I put down some good power and actually enjoyed the efforts. So I'm getting there. I'll take it. Let's see what the next couple of weeks hold in store.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shenandoah Mountain 100 Race Recap

This past weekend I headed down to Harrisonburg VA and got ready for my 3rd attempt at the SM100 and I had high hopes of a new PR and a good day in the saddle. My prep was good it seemed and this time I shared a hotel with my teammate in hopes that would add to my prep and make this race even better. It was nice having a real bed and not deal with any camping woes. The bad side is that it put us a bit further from the race start and made traveling a little more difficult but it was nice to have that bed. So with things all being good I had gamed up for a great race the next morning.

My PR was 8:41 on this course so I was hoping if everything went right I "might" be able to crack 7:59. I went out hot with the leaders and felt good through the first climb and into the second. As I rolled up to aid #2 I started feeling like I couldn't recover well and just pushed through. I hit the next Hankey Mtn. climb and the wheels started to fall off. I just couldn't put power down and there was no recovery. It felt like that climb took forever and it's not the hardest climb. I rolled in from the pavement leading into Braley's and I totally fell apart on that climb. I was so woosey that I couldn't keep pedaling uphill. I kept pulling over and letting people go by as I told them I was taking in the scenery. I felt embarrassed to be riding a bike.

I spent 20 minutes in the next aid station trying to eat and drink and feel better which didn't seem to help. I then used my granny gear to try and climb the 18 miles to aid #5 and could barely turn over the pedals. I didn't even know if I could walk up to the aid station at that point. I was embarrassed as train after train of riders flew by and there was NOTHING I could do to latch on. This was pathetic. I was pretty much debating as to where I would stop and what river I could jump in if I saw the opportunity. It was a battle just to keep moving forward. The worst part is that I know the course really well and know where I could make turns and shortcut the course to get back to the finish and bag the race - but I couldn't get myself to take the turns. I started telling myself that the race was over and just enjoy the trails and the scenery and I think that started to bring me back a bit.

I somehow got to aid 5 and then started to regain some juice as I wanted the day to be over and end this miserable journey. I tried to focus and get through the next painful sections and it all seemed to go by with less pain but still a dreadful pace. I rolled up and over the last climb and was really happy to see the final turn for the descent into the campground. The ironic part was that I was trying to cut off 42 minutes from my previous best and I added around the same to that time. I crossed the line in 9:23 amazed that I actually finished and was able to ride my bike the 100 miles.

As I diagnose things, the first issue was that on my preride the day prior I went over the bars and severely bruised both legs as they smashed the ground and frame. Enough so where I had to ice and take advil all night and hope the swelling went down so I could pedal my bike. Then the 4 hours of sleep the night before probably didn't help. It just felt like something else was off. Maybe I didn't have enough electrolytes in the week prior? I too did the endurolytes/nutrition/hydration schedule and I was right on but something was still off. Maybe it was just a long season and I was cooked. Whatever it was I was not happy. But like they say, you learn more from the failures than you do from the success. Well I have a lot to learn from this one...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SM100 Pre Race Thoughts

It's officially the Wednesday before the race. 4 days till race day. This is a good sign. At this point I'm recovering from CO and the RC50 and the efforts I've done this past week have been solid and I'm really feeling hopeful for the race. On top of that I have both tires sealed up and fully tubeless and I should be able to actually have better control of my race prep than for two weeks ago. I've been sleeping well and a lot and that's a big help. For the last race I felt off and really overwhelmed by the humidity and being back in NJ for a while before this race makes me feel more confident as well.

The next best thought is that I should be more prepared as this is the 3rd attempt at the SM100 course and the 4th time I will be riding it(Rode it once in a non-race scenario). All the climbs and hard sections are burned into my mind and my time goals are already set. For the first run at this I ran a 10:39, then in 2009 an 8:41. This year I'm trying to go sub 8. That was my goal for the W101 and I beat it by 12 minutes but the trail was a bit different. The SM100 is advertised as the exact same route and I want to knock off 42 minutes from my PR. If things go well I should be able to reach that. I remember in my last attempt at the race that I actually got woosey climbing and descending between aid 3 and 4 and actually rolled down the hillside as I was hallucinating as I messed up my hydration/nutrition needs. This time I have been experimenting with that as well and I think I have figured that out a little better. I have been existing on Hammer gel alone and I don't think that's been fueling my body the way it needs. So now I've been using the gel and Clif Blocks and that has been a lot better. Well that and not using Accelerade. Accelerade is good for training but not for racing. I just feel 100% better when I use plain old water. Go figure...

So Friday night I'll be traveling down to the SM100 grounds so I have a nice long relaxing Saturday before the Storm and then let 'er rip for Sunday. Should be a nice long effort to put one last big race in the tank for 2011. After this my focus is shifting to the shorter stuff as I finish up the last XC races on my calendar and then the full CX schedule is ahead. Only 3 more months left to the racing season. Wow that's still a long time!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rattling Creek 50 Recap

Well after a hectic weekend, nothing I had in my mind to setup for the RC 50 went the way I planned. I wanted a nice warmup on Saturday followed by the drive out to camp for an early bedtime. Then the next morning I'd wake up late after a good night's sleep and put on the number, warmup and roll. Yea.....not exactly.

Life got in the way Saturday and I rolled home Saturday night with a lack of hydration/regular nutrition/and the worst part was I was still at home... So with life true as it is I got to sleep at about 11 pm and I had to be up at 5 am for the drive the next morning. So with packing and breakfast I rolled out with my lady Ant and my buddy Lucky to head out to hit up the 50. The last thing I really wanted to do was drive 3 hours the morning of a race and I had to so too bad. Then the worst part is somehow I underestimated how long it would take so at some point I figured we might reach registration too late as it closes at 9am. Yikes...pedal down.

So we rolled into the registration area with a few extra minutes and got ready. The warmup seemed ok but I was nervous as to how my body would respond. I just got back the Wednesday before from Colorado and the previous week I rode for over 17 hours and waaaaaay too many feet of vert. I was cooked when I left. I was hoping I had some in the tank for RC. As it turns out there wasn't many matches left in the matchbook for this one. Into the first climb I felt ok and was doing well trying to moderate my effort and it went by fairly quickly. As I got into the singletrack I wanted to accelerate hard as I was feeling pretty good. That seemed to work as I was keeping up with the guys in front of me and I was in the top ten or fifteen at this point. I figured I'd just chill there and set a good pace and see if I could pick of the guys that cracked later on in the race. Well I was one of those guys to crack early.

After 10 miles or so I felt kinda crappy and knew the wheels were starting to fall off. I was trying to ignore the signs but there were too many to avoid. Here's the thoughts that were going through my head:

This place is too hot and humid...
I didn't hydrate enough the week or so prior...
My front tire hasn't come off yet...
My front tire has too much pressure...
I can't believe my rear tire hasn't flatted yet...
These trails are nicely techy but annoying to try and race on...
I haven't drank enough...
I haven't eaten enough...
When is this going to end...

In other words - don't mess with tubeless tires the few days before a race and really focus on race prep. It didn't work so well for me this time.

So needless to say I wasn't on my game for this race. I passed the first aid station. Hit the 2nd not really aid station. Then the next one. Skipped the following and then begged for water when I hit the last aid that was the not quite an aid station. The first 20 miles I was really struggling with trying to keep my pace going and then after that I had an epiphany. Just because there is a race number on the bike doesn't mean you HAVE to race. I just rode. Then I tried to kick it up again and my body said no. So I just tried to put down a consistent pace. My best thought was that I may finish by 5 hours and beat the thunderstorms. So I kept on and just dreamed of the finish line. The last aid station that I begged for water told me it was 2 miles to the finish just over the top of the crest of the fire road ahead of me. Thanks goodness! Unfortunately I saw someone sneaking up on me so I had to go now...

I locked out my fork and put everything I had left in the tank into the pedals to get over that hill and get to the finish. I raced down the final hill and crossed the line in 4:41 for 14th place overall of 43 finishers and probably 50+ starters. I was actually pretty happy with how I did for how bad I felt. Still a great training day on the bike and some fun trails to ride - if yer not racin! I'd love to go back and ride some of those in a more chill fashion.

So one I was done I got back to the car to see how Antonella was doing and she warned me that some storms were coming and boy was she right. We wandered over to get some recovery food at the tent and it opened up! It came down in sheets and the lightning was close! Too close! So we got the car and stayed nice and dry as we watched racers finish one by one. Lucky wasn't so lucky as he finished a bit later after an hour or so in the hellish storm that engulfed the entire area. He was a bit battered and bruised but was happy to have been there and finished. Another one in the books...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wilderness 101 Race Recap

Well this was this years Heerschap throwdown as my brother flew out from Durango Colorado to have a rematch. He destroyed me in 2007 at the marathon nationals in Breckenridge, CO by 28 minutes and this year I was ready to return the favor and hopefully not by minutes but hours. This year it was my turn to race on my turf at the 101 and we agreed that there was no game plan to stick together - just to thrash it and see who could come out on top.

7 am the pace truck rolls out as I barely get out of the crapper and mount my bike. Perfect timing. So we said good luck and off we went. It was forecasted to be in the low 90's and at race start it was 70's and super muggy. So muggy I ditched the glasses which I never race without. So the first climb popped up hard left and I tried the best I could to stick with the lead group. I did that for most of the first climb as I got shot off the back slightly at the top but regained my place on the downhill. We got cut off of the main group and formed a great 2nd group which included the top 2 ladies. The group was working together well for a bit but the ladies had either pacers or boyfriends with them helping to set the pace and it was too slow for my liking. So I rolled off the front and went alone dragging the faster people in that group. On the next climb it all shattered and it was just work with who's around you.

The 4 mile climb at mile 42 is my nemesis. I wanted to ride that steady and hard(SLN) and I've ridden that better than any other previous attempt. I had a good cadence and it seemed to fly by. Awesome as last time up it I was hoping to have both tires fail and have to ride the sag wagon back to the start/finish. Each time the climbs popped up it was a good effort. Some felt better than others but in general I was happy with how I climbed. I had set time goals for myself and for what I could see they were all being broken by a few minutes as I rolled through. They eliminated a climb but threw in NASTY singletrack that was insane to ride with a really sore back(don't put a roof on the few days before a big race) and they eliminated a piece of easy single track and added another mile + climb and a horribly washed out baby headed decent to follow it. So they said the race may be a little quicker, it certainly didn't feel like it.

I hit aid station 5 at mile 89 and my clock said 6:45 or 6:50 so I knew I had to set a good pace to accomplish my goal of a sub 8 hour finish. I hit the last fire road and put down all I had left to get to the one remining climb. I met up with Greg Kuhn and we decided to work together to get all of the pain over with. We traded pulls into the last climb, then he coaxed me to the top of it with some positive words as I was starting to cramp badly. We crested it and then hit the decent into fisherman's trail where we both walked as it's STOOPID techy and at 95 miles not worth the pain. So we hit the remaining rail trail Greg pulled as I started to cramp. I worked through my cramps and he was on the verge of vomiting so I pulled him the rest of the way to the line. We finished together and he said to go and pulled back as I finished in 7:48:22 with Greg a second back. I was 26th overall of 325 and 21st in open men.

It was such a hard race and every pedal stroke up some of those hills was killer. I had the drive to keep pushing and know that if I let up for a second my hungry bro was going to sneak up and eat me for lunch. So maybe there was some extra motivation there. Like I had hoped, I saw my bro at the start and never again for the entire race. He did an amazing job and ran his first 100 miler like a veteran. He was bragging about his red blood cell count coming from elevation and I'm sure it gave him an advantage. He ripped up the hills and had a great time loving every piece of singletrack. It was nice that I got to do my cool down ride, swim in the river, eat, and change before he finished though :-) He crossed the line in 9:22. That's a great time especially since he didn't really know the course. He said it's his first and last 100 miler but I think he'll be back. Either way I still got him by 1:34 so that's all that matters.

What a great day in the heart of PA!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bulldog Rump Race Recap

With a larger than usual pro field the 18 of us lined up and were ready for a fast paced start. The whistle went off and I tucked myself nicely in the back and figured I'd would fight for positions later on and see how the field settled in. It was a VERY warm day and I know the heat would take it's toll. I was in probably 15th or so into the singletrack and just staying on the wheel in front of me. I felt good but not great. So towards the end of the 1st lap a rider passed me and I felt nothing left in the legs. This was odd.

I had a large training week leading into this and knew I wouldn't feel 100%, but not like this. The only saving grace was that the rider that just passed me - I saw walking up the climb in front of me. So I knew I had the chance to close the gap and get back on him. Hoping that he would pull me up to the riders ahead. So through the field at the end I closed the gap and stayed close to his wheel for the entire second lap.

The third lap I faded a bit but then pulled back up to the rider I was sitting on earlier. I could see he was fading and I was waiting for my time to pounce. On one little downhill there is a quick quirky little turn and he blew straight into the woods. I think he was putting in a big effort to get away from me and forgot where he was on the course. I dropped the hammer and never saw him again. It was going to take a good 10 seconds or better for him to recover and get back on course. I finished lap 3 on the gas figuring that he may come back but he never did. With the little gas I had left I rode the 4th lap smooth but not that hard. I just was hoping I would not see anyone coming up from behind - and I never did.

I put a full effort in to finish strong and crossed the line in 2:30. I was happy with that as my goal was to finish around then. 12th of 18 was fine for me. The entire category had some seriously stout riders and it was good to be out there competing with them. I'm hoping the next time I see these riders my prep will be a little better, and a better result with come from it. All in all a good day and one that should surely help me do well in the Wilderness 101. That's my season goal that is quickly approaching in a week or so. I'm just hoping the heat ceases in time to rock that course. We shall see!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

12 Hours of Cranky Monkey Race Report


Another one in the books. Rob P. from mtbnj and I cruised down to Quantico VA Friday to hit up the 12 hour race Saturday. Everything was set up well for a great race. Timing should have been perfect to get the camp, do a warmup and then let it fly Saturday. Nothing went as planned. Traffic was horrendous getting there, we got there too late, one of the tents had missing poles, and oh yea, my race bike broke 3 days before the race :(. The plan was to use my 29'er SS and just go with that. It's rigid so I was going to borrow Ted's fox fork but once I put it on the steerer is so gigantic that it would have speared me in the face at some point. So with all that said I opted for the rigid SS :-s .

Race went off with 90+ solos and a bunch of other teams. After a LOOOOOOONG run for the Lemans start, I settled in and found myself in 3rd wheel overall. I had to draft big time to stay with the geared guys. The course was fast and flowy but had some really steep climbs in it. I powered up most but a few I had to get off and walk. I was WAAAAAY over geared. I thought an 18 on the back would be fine but my knees disagreed. So I finished lap 1 in about 7th overall and leading my class. I had no idea how close my competition was so my strategy was to just keep pounding out laps. I figured even if they were faster, they probably would stop more. So I did 3 consecutive, and at the end of lap 4 I needed a change. I luckily brought my other rear wheel with a 20 tooth cog and stopped and switched to that. Thank goodness! Although my EBB decided to be stubborn, after 5-7 minutes I had it all working and off I went.

At the end of lap 5 I had a 5 minute gap on 2nd. This is about the time in the race that I try and see how I can brake my bike so I didn't have to ride for 7-8 more hours. That didn't work so I needed a different strategy. I motivated myself to see how much time I could put into 2nd on the next lap - I had a 13 minute gap then. Next was a 20 minute gap, then 31, then 38...perfect - it was opening each lap. I kept motivating myself that way and kept on it though the remainder of the race. Of course the decision came to either wait to not do the last lap to see if 2nd would miss the cutoff or just do another lap. I hated the guessing game and I wanted 100 miles so I opted to do another lap. I finally crossed the finish line in 11:37 with 11 laps and 104.3 miles of hard singletrack. I was the only solo to do 11 laps. It was great to get a win on the season and to be the solo with the most laps. It was great to have done so well with such bad prep and with such a hard bike to ride***.

***That rigid SS was rediculous. It was such a harsh ride that I had to pick alternate lines on the side of the trail to stop my arms from braking off. I had to change my riding style to brake normally. The front wheel isn't on the ground over bumps so any stopping had to be so much more anticipated. As for the SS I know it held me back the first few laps but I see why it's nice as it forces you to FLY up the hills. Of course at this point I never want to ride that thing with a rigid fork again but I'll reevaluate that when I get the feeling back in my upper body. I literally could not hold onto the bars with my left arm on the last lap of the race. I was so relieved to have finished the race so I could end the pain.

Bearscat 50 Race Report 6/5

My race went off well in the beginning. It was Gordo and myself at the front into the first turn and he didn't want to lead so I went. I felt I could ride it better with a clear view so why not. I would be able to moderate the pacing anyway. So through pumphouse I just rode it clean and got to Bruce by the first turn onto cherry ridge and there was only the eventual winner(Mike T.) and me. I thought to myself that this could be a good day but it was early...yikes would that prove to be true. Anyway - on to the goodies like fishermans and rattlesnake I stayed on Mike T's wheel and hear someone sneaking up...Monte. I knew it wouldn't be long before I saw him. So he got around me on Rattlesnake and we all kept it together through most of lap 1. I got separated from them in Rockadendron and endoed nicely and lost sight of them for good. I knew they were flying so I decided to moderate power and set a nice pace. I crossed the line in 3rd 5 minutes behind 1st and 2nd place.

Onto lap 2. I got onto Pumphouse and my tire was flat. Hit it with the Co2 and made it about a half mile further before putting a tube in. Two got through while I was fixing the flat and I got past one as he had a mechanical(broken wheel) while I was chasing back on. So now I was sitting 4th. I kept on it and was keeping a good pace through the first half of lap two but coming to the downhill that leads to sitting bear I pinched the new tube. So then went in my last tube and co2's. I decided to air it up pretty high to ensure that I finished the race. Well it worked cause I finished the race but it was an unbelievably horrid ride. I could not put any power down with it jarring my back the way it was. So I was totally pissed. 3 flats, a rough ride, and now my bike was ghost shifting.

I made it through sitting bear, albeit slowly and passed the aid just to get it over with. I did what I could to get up red dot but I had no motivation at this point. I was just rolling with the purpose of getting to the end. I was so demotivated that I said to myself that the race is over and I was just going to ride the rest of the course, nevermind race it. Just after Jim's bridge Butt came through and I let him go as I had my hissy fit. Then on Rockadendron Paul came through. I really didn't want to be out there any longer than I needed. I was so tempted to turn around and go back to the furnace and just end my day but I couldn't. I figured the least I could do was turn it into a nice training day and finish. So lethargically I kept on and at this point my legs were just cooked. After trying to fire it up so many times after mechanicals they just didn't respond so I slowly rode the rest. Onto iron mountain Jared came through and I tried to respond but nothing was there. So I just rolled to the finish.

Looking back it really wasn't as grim as I thought at the time but I was really just dissatisfied with how I rode and my lack of mechanical preparation. I should have changed out that rear tire knowing that it could have been an issue and it was. With those tire issues out of the way, even with my lethargic pace I would have placed 4th with my garmin reading 5:01 rolling time(3rd was 4:53, 4th 5:06). I finished in 5:13 in 8th place. Maybe I could have caught up to Greg in 3rd if it went smoother but I hate to play the what if game. Either way I finished still in the money but still way out of it mentally. It was a good hard day to learn from and use as motivation in the future. Hopefully I will do a little better in the next race. I finish my last course of antibiotics (from my fun sinus infection after stewart) today and with some good hard work the next couple of weeks I hope to be back to my old self. We shall see.

Stewart Super Six Pack Race Report 5/22

I didn't have any real high hopes of doing well this race. I had a tough Friday/Saturday as I've been coming down with a cold and lots of congestion. Didn't know how that would play out or if I'd be able to breathe at all. I did all I could to stay hydrated and just keep good thoughts and ignore my sickness. I felt ok but unsure. So with less than optimal sleep Lucky and I headed up to Stewart for 6 hours of goodness.

The race went off with a nice easy start and then ramped it up around the first corner to help get position into the single track. It wasn't a blazing fast start but no one wanted to get bottlenecked. Into the singletrack it was Roger, Monte, Vreeland, and me, followed by 40 something others. We kept on it and had a good train going with the top 10 or so half way through the 1st lap. After the midway point Rog and Monte picked up the pace and I went with them. After a few minutes it was just us 3. We kept a real solid pace but not eyes bleeding. Lap 2 Monte took the lead as Rog and myself stayed in line and cruised the lap. Towards the end of lap 2 Roger faded back a bit and I was riding with Monte. I told him I'd lead lap 3 and just set a steady pace. 5 minutes in I was all alone. I was really eerily cautious as to why both weren't there. Did I miss a turn or something? So I kept on and rolled through lap 4 then lap 5 and towards the end of the lap I hear Roger sneaking up. I knew he was going to attack hard and he did. I couldn't match at that point. I hit the gas but let him go. I was hoping I could ramp it up in the remaining two laps and reel him in but that was to no avail. He was setting a really nice hot tempo and deserved the win. I did all I could to hit the last two laps hard and it was 5 min slower than what I needed to beat him.

All in all what a great day. Hopefully this will be a good indicator as to how the endurance races will go later in the season. It felt great to be on the bike for more than the usual 2 hour xc race. I forgot how much fun and how much pain can be associated with these races.

Tymor Park Challenge Race Report 5/15

It was a good race and a bad race all at once. The mechanical monster crept up and made it tough but I persevered! For the first lap I toned it down a bit and put the pedals down smoothly to try and not make my eyes bleed off of the line. I was sitting towards the back but feeling like lap 2 I could pick it up a bit and stay consistent through lap 3 and pick off some guys. It was all great in theory until my pedal body decided to detach from the spindle on my egg beaters. On the top of the climb my right foot unclipped and I found the pedal body attached to my foot and not attached to the bike = crap. So I somehow realigned both while rolling and kept pedaling but this was really hard to do. Each lap my pedal would slide of 10+ times. I figured out the best way to deal with it when it happened was to smash my foot into the ground releasing the pedal body and then put it on the spindle by hand and keep pedaling. Do this 30-40 times and it gets pretty annoying.

By the end I found out on smoother terrain I could reach down and rip the body off of my shoe and remount it while riding but it was dicey. I tried to stay consistent (when not searching for my pedal in the leaves) but it was tough not being able to be consistent. I love that course. I could have easily bagged it and ended my misery but why not turn it into a skill day? One footed downhills are amazing for balance training ;-) Anyway it was still a good day since I was able to finish ahead of Ken L. and John A. I figured I'd be DFL for sure with the pedal issue.

Time to Play Catch Up!

It's been a while since I've posted here but that's for a great reason. Life has been good. It's gotten more complex than just training, racing, and working. Besides the normal daily routine, I picked up some side work tutoring, and have been enjoying every minute of spending time with my girl Antonella. She's been amazing and the past 6 months with her have been great and I forget how life was without her. Anyway, that's the background of what's been going on, here's my results.

Since the last update at Wawayanda I had 4 races. Tymor Park Challenge, The Stewart Super Six Pack, Bearscat 50, and the 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey. The following reports will be posted to try and get back on track.

At this point in the season, it's gone well racing in the XC pro races but I've been craving the endurance stuff again since it's been so long since I did one of the 100's. So I already competed in a 50 miler, a 6 hour, and now most recently a 12 hour. Up next is another 50 miler, plus 2 100 milers, and plenty of XC races to lead into the CX season. More fun to come!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Race Season 2011/Wawayanda H2H Recap

Alrighty, so it's been a few months and now I'm back getting into the race season once again. It's been an odd off season as there has been a lot of good training but I feel like I'm lacking some early season efforts to prepare me for the season. Usually by this time in the year I have a couple of good endurance races in that prepare me for the repeated hard efforts that XC brings. The early season of 2011 brought 4 short crits in March that were the only hard efforts before the first H2H race season at the Wawayanda Spring Cleaning race this past weekend. The other change in the early season is that I took a vacation to Costa Rica which was AMAZING. The downside was that it kept me off the bike for 12 days. It definitely put a dent in my early fitness but for the memories that will last a lifetime, it was an easy sacrafice.

Anyway as Wawayanda approached I felt pretty good but like I would be lacking some top end. All it took to find out was to line up and see what happens. I knew the pro field was going to be fast and transition years can be rough but I'm stubborn and really want to do well. I got to the line at the last minute after a good 40 minute warm up and felt kinda scattered and unsure of how the race would go. After all it was only my 3rd ride on dirt this season. So off we went and into a REALLY fast paceline heading though the rocky terrain. The group was TIGHT the entire first lap. Off the line I was 6th, and by the first turn into singletrack I was in 9th or so. I knew it would be a hard effort and I could cruise through the rough stuff so I kept it steady and marked those wheels in front of me. As it got rougher a few in front of me bobbled and I sailed through. By the middle of lap 1 I was in 5th position and feeling good. I just was wondering how the fitness would hold up.

At the start of lap 2 my coach Brian attacked and I held back as a competitor was right behind me and it was a great team tactic. I put a good pace down but didn't put the pedal down. I kept Brian in sight as I gapped the guy behind me and was waiting til the techy parts to try to catch up. I did just that. In the process though I was passed and now in 7th starring at 5th and 6th in front of me. As I was biding my time, my chain dropped for the 10th time or so and jammed between the rings and the frame. It took me a while to get it out. Probably a minute or better just to clear it and get it back on the big ring. I thought 2x10's were supposed to be amazing and trouble free? Guess not...

I kept the pedal down and tried to stay steady but I finished lap 2 in no mans land. The start of lap 3 was when I started to feel the twinge...yup cramps were setting in. The efforts were so hard and frequent that I really had to be careful not to lock up completely. This is where I felt the previous efforts early in the season really helped. I kept on knowing that the guys behind me were charging hard so I rode to the top of my limit without blowing up completely. As I feared 1/3 of the way into the lap I got passed and was sitting in 8th feeling really tired. Now it was survival to get to the end of the race. In the last 1/3 of the race I heard the next disappointing sound, the chain rattling of another racer about to pass me. Yup - with 5 minutes left in the race I couldn't hold the next guy off so he went by and I put every bit of energy left not to get passed any further.

I crossed the line in 9th place of 13 and happy to have the race behind me. 2:12 was my finishing time. Looking back at lap times I ran a 40 min then 44 min then 47 min lap time. With the chain dropping on lap 2 it should have been a 42 which was acceptable but then the implosion of lap 3 was evident. More fuel for the next race. Looking back it wasn't a bad effort as I still did pretty well even with mechanical trouble and cramping. It gives more of a hope to see just how things could be if they all go right.