Saturday, November 2, 2013

Recent Race Update

Ok so there's been a bunch of races since I last posted so here we go:

Tymor Park Challenge: Fun brutal course with no legs. 11th of 13

Nittany Lion CX: Crash on lap 1, bent derailleur hanger which caused crappy shifting, fought back from 68th to finish 20th. Not that bad of a performance given the situation.

Silk City CX: Cool race in Manchester CT with a super techy course. It was dry and fast and so were the guys ahead of me. I had a solid ride but still trying to get into cross form. 5th of 19

Westwood Velo CX: Had a great start and was even sitting 2nd wheel at one point as the result of a crash. That wasn't to last. Slipped back to 8th or so then rolled my tubular. Pitted and lost a spot and ended up 9th of 23.

Cooper River CX: Stupid course. Dry, fast, bland, and sprinty. Not my style whatsoever. The only entertaining part was the steps that were rideable. Felt like crap and rode hard trying to get form back after the wedding. 23 of 46.

Marty's Day 2 CX: Started hard but still trying to get the form back after time off from the wedding, and once again plagued with tire issues. Pitted once, fell twice, and was losing motivation to do this whole CX thing. 15th of 26.

Bubble CX: Most fun race course of the year thus far. Technical, hilly, sand, and MORE SAND! It was great and painful all at the same time. I had good luck this day and rode pretty damn well. I couldn't have left more out there. 12th of 23.

Caffeinated CX: A great course to follow up Bubble CX. Techy and turny. Quite a surprise given it was at a fairground and just expected lots of grass. I rode well and fought hard for 3-6 place. Ended up 4th of 8 in a slugfest.

So all in all I've had some good results and some poor results, mostly due to either mechanicals or not riding my bike for 2 weeks to enjoy my wedding which was the best day of my life - it was totally worth it. But now I've got those amazing memories and I'm getting back to riding my bike pretty well. Only 4 more races for me this season it seems. Just a little more cross and then a nice winter full of MTB riding. CX is fun but I'm having a blast on the MTB and I can't wait for next season.

An overdue update.

Ok so it's been a few days since my last update...errr it's been forever since my last update. So here goes...holy crap I'm MARRIED!!! October 6th was the big day and all of my energy was spent helping out my beautiful wife making sure things went as planned and it was amazing. I never had a second thought about marrying Antonella. She's the love of my life and I can't imagine any day going forward without her. The wedding ceremony was perfect, the reception was amazing, and everything went like we planned.

Laughingly though, the stress of the wedding came through the gift that I was giving/building her. Antonella and I have a great appreciation for wine, as she has taught me the ways of wine tasting. So given that love and the fact that she has a TON of wine bottles at home it was only natural that I built her a wine rack. Not just any wine rack but a mega rack. This took a good 3 weeks to a month to conceptualize, plan, deliver, and create. Not to shabby in the end if I say so my self! So tomorrow will actually be week #4 that we have been married and it's awesome. We're working out the behind the scenes logistics and it's all just a crazy dream that finally came true.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rattling Creek 50 Recap

This was round 3 of this race and once again it was a much different race course than in the past 2 races. Due to some trail issues they ran a 30 mile first lap and then repeated the outer singletrack loop the second time to make the 50 miles. If you haven't done this one before, this is full on mountain biking at it's finest. These trails are some really rocky tough trails and it's an amazing feat to get to the finish line without going over the bars or having mechanicals. This year I did both thankfully!

After a few rough races, I was really hoping to get a good solid race in. So I did what any normal person does, I rode too much during the week, mounted up a brand new tire that I wouldn't have a chance to ride before hand, and headed out to Lykens PA for a battle with the rocks. Last year I took 4th place in a solid field that ended a bit short as there was some course marking issues. This year I was hoping for a better full 50 mile race and it would prove to be just that. Conditions were perfect, weather was cool and dry and the morning was actually cold. It was refreshing. So anywhere here's how it goes...

I took off hard from the start but tried to stay steady and just ride people down and make time through the really rough stuff. I was probably in 12th or so position after the initial STEEP hike a bike and then just stayed patient and rode at the back of a group of 5 for a while until it opened up and we jockeyed for positions. As the lap went on I was riding steady and I started to get through one by one. As each would bobble I kept on it and passed through. I was going back and forth with one rider for most of the first lap until we chatted around mile 24 or so and found out that he was doing the 25 mile race...wonderful. At least as I found out later he was the 25 mile winner. So he dropped off and I headed out onto the second lap of the bumpy wonderful singletrack.

At mile 20 I filled one bottle and put down a pretty good pace relying on the next aid station about 10 miles later. Well that aid station had closed up and I was now out of water...crap. I kept on knowing that the next aid station was at mile 40 but I already felt thirsty so I knew that was a bad sign. I would find out later that at this point I was actually in 3rd place but the dehydration had taken it's toll. I had to meter the power back a bit and just try and get to the next aid station without cramping. In the next few miles Zach Morey and Jed Prentice found their way through but I had no answer with no water. I knew if I tried to get on their wheel I would end up in the fetal position in the bushes somewhere so I let them go. I found water at aid 40 and a little later I got some strength back and started to put the pedals down hard again.

Once I got some water I was able to really enjoy the rocky goodness that is the Rattling Creek. There are so many cool and rugged features you need to ride through around and over that it's really an accomplishment to ride most of this stuff. I was happy to cross the line in 4:48 in 5th place and have a steady solid ride even having a pretty big water issue. If you get the opportunity, check out these trails. If you like some good techy riding, you won't be disappointed.

Status Update - Bulldog Rump, Wilderness 101, 909, Mountain Creek

Well it's been a while since I've posted, but that's for mostly good reasons. My last update was from the Tatanka 100 in Sturgis SD, and there's been a whole lot going on since then. The weekend following the T100 was my best friend's wedding in SLC which was amazing and I am totally amazed at how well it went and very happy that I was able to take part in a huge event in my friend's lives.

On the racing side of the scene, it was great being part of a huge life event but that left some time off the bike which was probably a godsend. I know I always think otherwise but who knows. So from the wedding I went up to Yellowstone for 3 days to check out the wildlife and scenery as it was incredible. I was so busy checking out everything that I didn't mind being away from the bike. On the way out though I stopped off in Jackson to ride and then hit up one other spot in Nebraska before making my way back to NJ and back to normalcy...somewhat. I returned just in time to help out with registration and setup for my team's race - the H2H Bulldog Rump. It was great to help out but I was exhausted from the trip.

To top it off I worked the race and raced it but with heavy legs from the West road trip I didn't know how they would respond. I did pretty well but I was definitely feeling a bit gassed. Overall I still did well finishing 10th of 21 in a really strong field which gave me hope that some fitness was still lingering.

After that came the Wilderness 101. This has to be one of my favorite races of the season, but with some hindsight this was one of the biggest letdowns of the season. My training was off, my prep was off, and life just got in the way for this one. I'd been working a lot the previous days before the race and with some mental stress of making arrangements for my wedding I pretty much went into this race on auto pilot. That's not what you ever want to do for one of these races. I forgot about my hydration and early on I had some bad cramping which would set the stage for the rest of the day. At 2 hours in I was starting to get solid cramps - which usually show their head after 5 or 6 hours. I knew it was going to be a long day. I had to go into survival mode early. Actually it was so bad I had to talk myself out of quitting pretty much every time the course pointed upwards. I had nothing. No motivation, no energy, and just lots of pain. The only thing that kept me going was this promise of new singletrack. That was the biggest help.

For the remainder of the 101 I suffered and wanted to give it all up but I pressed on. I found a little energy at aid 4 and I rode pretty well for the remainder of the course, but it was too little and waaaaay too late. I crossed the line at 8:27, way off my goal, but at least I was reassured by a few who said the course was 30 mins slower than the previous one. I still feel afterwards if I wasn't on the edge of death the entire time that on that same course and feeling good I could cut off a full hour or so. That's why there's always next year.

As for the 909, it was an exhaustion race for me. I did well for two laps and fell flat on my face the last mile to finish a close DFL. I was 55 seconds from 6th place but landed in 9th for dead last as I just couldn't save the gas for the end. Being an endurance guy I was actually pretty happy with the result given what I had been through the previous weeks.

Then for the Mountain Creek race, 3 flats and some bad luck left me on a nice hike for the 3rd lap. I finished but not happily. I felt like I could have done pretty well this race but the rubber gods were not on my side. One of these more recent races has to go well.

Next recap, Rattling Creek 50.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tatanka 100

After a 24 hour driving experience with a nice stopover and short ride in LaCrosse Wisconsin, I arrived in Sturgis Thursday night in preparation for the T100 on Saturday. Being a bit tired from the long drive it was nice to relax on Friday and take in some good nutrition and just wrap my head around what was to go down on the next morning. I got in a nice hour preride on the opening climb so I would have a decent idea of what lie ahead when the singletrack came. So I pulled into the parking lot Saturday morning and my teammate Jeff and I were pretty much the first ones there. I had that eerie feeling of am I in the right place? But after a few minutes and more cars rolled in I knew I was good. It was a 5 am start which was REALLY early, if you were on mountain time. Being from the east coast that was 7 am so I felt pretty good with that start.

The horn went off and so were we. It was supposed to be a neutral controlled roll out but when the cop rolled out doing 25, most seemed to want to do the same speed to keep up. It was a bit harder than I'd liked but it put the lead group in a good spot going into the first climb. The climb was uneventful and just some amazing singletrack. The first 65 miles were supposed to be all nice trails and it didn't disappoint. I got caught in some traffic and after some smart moves I picked my way through and was moving up nicely. I was probably sitting in the top 10 overall for the first 30 miles or so until I slashed my tire in a creek crossing. Great. I stopped to spin the tire and let the stans work but no luck. It was going very soft. I took out my C02 and it would not work. WTF? I screwed on the valve and nothing. Tried the other C02 I had and nothing. So now I was stranded with a low leaking tire. I probably rode the next two miles or so with a decent amount of vert on this tire just hoping it would either last long enough to get to the next aid station, or that someone would be nice enough to loan me a C02. Finally it just got too low to ride. I had to stop. I was in such a good place I knew I wouldn't see anybody for a while - great.

So with my MacGuyver hat on for the moment I took out my multi-tool, found the smallest allen key, put it in the depression on the C02 where the valve should have punctured it, and smacked it against a tree to puncture the canister. It worked! I put the valve on quickly and hit my tire with some air. Yes! But to my misfortune the tire wouldn't seal and I only made it a few feet before I realized I would have to throw a tube in. So with a tube in and many people passing by this point I used the remainder of my C02 and had none left. A nice racer stopped by and loaned me his pump and I graciously filled my tire and took off. Finally I was back on track with an over inflated but working tire and was ready to pick off as many people that passed me as I could. I settled into the next climb and just started counting one racer at a time as I passed. It's a great feeling as that happens but I knew to limit my effort and just take it as they come.

So after that point I rolled into the 50 mile aid station feeling good but tired. There is a LOT of climbing in the first half and I knew there was a decent amount to come as well. I was dreading the hike a bike and the rail trail. At this point I really had no idea what was to come. Through the mid aid I was on some really beautiful trail with some ridges on either side of me. As I went further and further they started closing in on me. Then the right hand turn sign appeared and the hike a bike was upon me. It was steep. I mean really steep. I pushed my bike up it and had to place each step so I didn't slide backwards. I even used a tree part way up to rest as I heckled those beneath me. Once up the steep part it didn't get much easier as well. It was probably a 1/2 mile hike a bike or so until it was worth pedaling. But over the next descent and another nice section of trail it led to the Mickelson rail trail.

The Mick was painful. It was 16 miles or so of 1-2% rail trail and it just never ended. I was working at this point with Dwayne and Peat from Team Noah and we just kept each other company as the pain dragged on. We agreed not to lose each other and just keep it going. It was 13 miles an hour forever it seemed. Finally at mile 72 it rolled down as we crested the top but the damage was done. The trail didn't kill me but the one aid station with only Heed did. My stomach can not handle that stuff and this was direct proof. I knew there was only 25 miles or so left in the race but I had no power. The legs didn't give up but my stomach did. I was in such distress that as soon as I tried to put ANY power down, I thought I was going to crap myself...literally. I planned so many times where I would jump off the trail and drop my bibs to help relieve the issue but I just couldn't give up on the race like that. Looking back I probably should have.

So through the last few hills that were short but plentiful I had to kick back and do my own thing as I was in so much pain. I let Dwayne and Peat go and just hoped I could hold off whoever was behind me. From the earlier issue with the tire I still wasn't sure what place I was in but hoped for a good finish. This was slowly diminishing. I kept on with whatever pace I could do and I actually caught up to Dwayne and Peat a little later. I knew we were getting closer to the finish but I felt like it would never come. To make things worse a few racers had said that it's really more of 105 miles than 100. So that was really painful as I just wanted to get to the finish. Through the last couple of downhills and a sweet ride through the town of Sturgis drainage, Dwayne, Peat and myself cranked back into town to complete the Tatanka 100. They were both gracious enough to hold back and let me cross for some reason and it was great to have spent a good deal of time with both of these amazing riders.

In the end I finished 14th overall with 9th in open men in a time of 9:25. It was my best or worst race but sure was memorable with all the great trail and all of the issues that were dealt with. It's one that if you have a chance to get to I'd put it on my list. Great organization, trail marking, food, and just an overall great race. I'd love to get there again if I had the chance.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lewis Morris H2H

I never get thrilled about racing Lewis Morris. Maybe it's the full gas aspect of the race or the lack of technical features always has me going into this race so excited...yawn. I tried to put that aside and just know that it's a good test of my fitness and great prep for next weekend's race in South Dakota at the Tatanka 100. I wasn't sure how my legs would respond after a hard Stoopid 50 race last weekend but I was ready to test them out. I knew I had some juice so I'd be ok but exactly what would happen - who knows.

My race was a pretty uneventful one. I lined up on the outside and charged hard off of the start to try and get in good position going into the singletrack. I hit the turn sitting 5th and accelerated with the group and already feeling that it might be a tough race. I was digging deep and the legs were responding but not with 100% like I was hoping. I stayed on the group as Cody shot through then Eddie then BL. After that I let a gap open and could see those just ahead but couldn't close it. My stomach felt off and the legs were not fresh. I kept pushing and through the lap I could hear Joe and Brian somewhere behind. I was thinking it was only a matter of time before my wheels fell off and they would come blasting through. Into lap 2 Joe latched onto my wheel and I could tell he was hurting. He passed me on the steepest up and I just rode his wheel hoping to use him to get me to Ben who I thought was just ahead. Into the next climb Joe asks me if I want to pass and I told him no just ride smooth and we'll work together. He said that's nice - and admitted he couldn't hold that pace any more and he was popped. I never saw Joe again. After that I passed Nick Lando who seemed completely shattered. I actually thought he might have been a slow rider on his first lap...yikes. He tried to latch on but never saw him again.

So I'm just waiting for Brian to pass now. In the longer twisty sections Brian is right there but I hit the climbs with whatever I have and expect him to close but the gap remains or opens. Start of lap 3 I'm still alone seeing flashes of Brian somewhere behind me but the gap is remaining. Through the back parking lot I hear someone flying up and here comes was Ben. He must have had an issue or I passed him in the pit. He cruised through and I tried to latch on but I didn't have it. I just rode steady for the remainder of the course and finished as solid as I could. I finished up and was glad to be done with that race.

7th place in around 1:30. It was a solid effort and a hard one at that. I haven't looked at my HR data but it was high. I threw up in my mouth twice and pushed pretty hard. I chatted with Cody later and he said that he finished in 1:24 so I was happy with only losing 6 minutes to him. Looking back I shouldn't have ridden as well as I did. My legs are still recovering but on top of that I had my wedding shower the day before which was good, but stressful to say the least, I woke up with a sore throat that has progressed today into congestion and a nice head cold, and generally just feeling kinda crummy. I'm really happy with the result and that should put me into the points lead for the series. I'm still focusing on the endurance races but it's good to see that consistency is paying off in the shorter races.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Stoopid 50 Recap

With a good night's sleep and a solid breakfast under my belt I headed over to the start of the Stoopid 50 in Boalsburg PA. As I was going over the bike and spinning around a bit the impending weather was starting to show it's self with sprinkling showers that had everyone's mind on the thunderstorms that were to hit mid day. The start rolled out at a decent but controlled pace and we headed up the 3.5 mile road climb to hit the amazing Tussey's ridge. The day prior I was chatting with Mike Tabasko and we were in agreement that last years race went off WAAAAAY too slow and this year if things looked the same then we need to fire it up and make some legs hurt to get a better selection for the singletrack. We kept on the road and about 1/2 mile from the top it switches to gravel and I see Mike drive to the front and string out the group...perfect! I was boxed in but this gave me the opportunity to get around the single file line and fire up the left side to 7th position or so and have a nice smooth entry into the singletrack. Our plan worked VERY well. So we were off with no traffic into the techy trail that most rave about in the S50.

As I kept it steady I was just enjoying the magical thing that is the Cannondale Scalpel. Holy crap is this new bike nice. This was ride #5 on the bike, and I wasn't sure how it would react at race pace in some of these finicky situations. It was great and kept me right where I was hoping to be. So continuing on this ride we rode it FAST. Picking great lines made it so much fun and confidence inspiring. Knowing I was in a good place I was enjoying the trail, and noticed a few guys on the side of the trail that were definitely helping my placing. Attrition is definitely a big part of a race like this. Smooth and steady is the mantra.

Off of Tussey's I got on Tabasko's wheel and hung there for the next 25 miles it seemed. We hit the climbs and he got a little gap...then in the singletrack I got right back to his wheel. Rinse and repeat into the final aid station. I grabbed a bottle and hit the next climb that NEVER ends. I wasn't feeling the best so I rode as hard as I could turning myself inside out over and over. I got towards the top and a rider came up from behind and pedaled by hard. There was no way I could latch on. At that point I knew I was in 5th and would be very happy if I could just put whatever left I had down and maintain my position. I knew there were a lot of hungry riders behind me.

I hit the last gravel road climb and hit it hard. I knew it was almost over so I pushed as hard as I could and cramped myself pretty badly but I was moving quickly. I made the left off of the road to the final gnarly descent happy and ready to get this over with. It is NASTY. Your line and confidence were crucial. I was doing well on this tight ribbon of rock until I clipped a tree with my bar and caught some rocks in a bad way. I flung off the side of the trail down the low side and did all I could to protect myself. I went through a tree stump and ended up face down, head down, attached to the bike I was trying so hard to protect, still clipped in and both legs cramping HARD. Dinky Dinky Do Do Dee Do...relax...relax...there's no one coming...get up...relax... I peg legged it back up to the trail with my bike and got on. Here we go. I lit up the rest of the descent and over the 3 bridges and into the finish. No one passed and I maintained.

I finished 5th overall in 4:12 and had a nice scare on the approach to the finish. Those thunderstorms that we were afraid of never materialized and it made for an amazing race day. $100 bucks richer and a nice podium shot later it was back on the road home to jersey. It was a great day and what a ride. I'm convinced the Scalpel will really help my game and it sure worked well on the rocks of State College yesterday.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mohican 100 Race Report

Looking out the hotel room the morning of the race I saw some puddles and it was raining a bit as I went to bed so I just hoped for the best. The forecast was not good as it was calling for some severe thunderstorms to hit during the day. The best I could do was go fast and finish before the t-storms hit. So I got my stuff together from the Little Brown Inn, which is the best spot to stay for race day, nice and close to the start and finish and perfect for every aspect of the race. I left the room, enjoyed the mild and humid weather, and rolled towards downtown to get my warmup in and head to the line.

Promptly at 7 we went off and I was at the head of the massive peleton and worked my way to the right side and tried to stick with the fast kids. I got blocked by a few that couldn't hang on the hill but I turned it up, got around them and got to the back of the lead group and into the singletrack. I just concentrated on being smooth and consistent and picked off riders here and there and enjoyed the opening miles on that amazing place. I got stuck behind a few riders that were less than thrilled at the slick conditions. Since I raced two weekends ago in the greasy goodness that is Jungle Habitat I was fully comfortable on my small block 8's and sliding through. Conditions weren't horrible but definitely unpredictable in spots.

I blew through aid 1 and the whole time I kept thinking that there was no way to for me to ride the course faster than I was. I was riding well and I also could recall being in much more pain at this point in the past. So either my fitness was doing really well or I was about to fall I popped out of the singletrack and hit the road sections and was trying to get back to a couple of riders who passed me in the singletrack and were flying. I had to monitor my efforts to not max out on every hill. It's tempting but not the best way to pace yourself for one of these races. Through the gravel roads I kept it consistent and a good solid pace. At one point I saw Jim Mayuric coming up from behind and we worked together for a bit to keep the pace high. Then Mike Tabasko came up from behind and joined us for a bit too and we pulled hard into the singletrack before aid 3. They were riding fast and at a higher pace than I wanted at that point so I let them go. I could see them ahead for a bit but just couldn't get back to them.

Legs were starting to show the wear of the first half of the course as I rolled into aid 3 at the new location and I wondered how the course would be changed. It definitely seemed to have a few more hills thrown in just to get to aid 3. I filled bottles again and took off descending some new trails that connected with the old aid 3 site the the powerline climb to follow. I did well on the climb but the dreaded cramp monster appeared. Wonderful - 3.5 hours in and I was dealing with cramping already. I wasn't thrilled but I pushed through and wouldn't give in. I got over that climb and just wanted desperately to get through that rail trail with some people to work with. At this point though I was in no mans land and it wasn't looking good.

Then my chain started to show some signs of distress. It was creaking and moaning louder than I've ever heard it. It was going to blow up - I was convinced. So from the back roads I hit one of the gravel climbs that gets steep and switchbacks to the impromptu aid station. I had to tone it back thinking it was going to explode with one hard stroke. I begged the people at the aid for lube but no luck. I had to be happy getting a bottle topped off and praying aid 4 would come soon. On the next section, a SS guy Trevor came up and I let him go. I wanted to play it safe and the legs were still giving me some issues. So I popped out to the roads again and was by myself with Trevor somewhere just ahead and now Nate was sneaking up from behind. His presence was all I needed to pick it up a notch. Especially knowing that the rail bed was coming up. So I pulled and all 3 of us grouped up for the rail bed.

With me being the only geared rider of the 3 of us I told the guys that I felt like the hot girl at the gym - all the eyes were on me to do some work. So I put my head down and pulled. My legs were feeling it so I couldn't go as hard as I'd liked but it was good as I would take a pull and hide and then go again. I know the other guys were appreciative as they benefited from my gears and I benefitted from hiding from the wind inbetween pulls. We worked it pretty well and then hit glorious aid 4. I got the lube and food I needed and we set out for the final portion of the course. We kept together for a bit but then on one of the steep gravel roads I popped off and said goodbye at about mile 80. I was content with soloing in as hard as I could at this point.

On the next climb, the right hander that goes up a valley, I saw Nate and Trevor ahead but couldn't close. Back to some more roads I knew that greasy grassy valley would be coming up. I just stayed steady and cleaned it knowing the suspension bridge and not much would be left. I crossed the bridge, got up the gravel steep sucker just off of Wally road and then knew I had one more gradual climb before the descent through the farmers field and the final paved section to aid 5 and the last piece of singletrack. Once I got to aid 5 I knew I'd be home free.

I got to aid 5 uneventfully and laid down all I had left to get over the final climb and to ride into the back of the campground. I was smoked but disappointed at how my legs felt. I was hoping they would be snappier but the greasy climbs took their toll. I was good with hydration and food and don't know what I could have done better. I turned my gps off knowing my goal of a 7:20 wouldn't be met and I didn't even think I'd be close to the 7's. I kept driving hard and flipped back to my clock approaching the finish and to my surprise I was still in the 7's. I crossed the line at 7:48 knowing I did all I could and hopefully I would place well. I was hoping for a top 10 but didn't really know where I was. Volunteers told me estimates but I never really like to trust them to get my hopes up. I see Jim at the line and he told me he was 7th and 10th overall and I was the next guy after him in the Open class. Really??? That means I was 8th in Open Men and 13th overall. Holy crap!!! TOP 10 at an NUE race!!! That is amazing. I know it's my favorite race but I'm still shock. What a great feeling. I'll be back for more at the Mohican and hopefully a few more top 10's at NUE events...

Mohican 100 Pre Race Issues

This was my 5th go at the Mohican 100 and it seems I would get most of my bad luck out of the way on the trip out. This is my all time favorite race course and I couldn't wait to get there and get my head in the right spot and be ready to throw down race day. My travel partner backed out last minute so I was doing the drive solo - which isn't necessarily a bad thing - but it's great to break up the driving. So I drove the 6.5 hours west and stopped just shy of Akron for a good night's sleep in a cheap hotel, leaving only 1.5 hours to drive the next morning. I checked in, ran my bags to the room, and went out to get my bike off the car and proceeded to lock my keys in the car. Really...

I just caught the back door before it fully slammed shut but it latched and there was no way to pry it me. So I gave in and asked the front desk for the local police number. No luck, it was a liability and they wouldn't do it. I then asked them for a coat hanger to try and pull some magic. They had none. The worst part is there were no metal coat hangers in the rooms - only ones attached to the rack that you couldn't steal. I asked a few passers by if they had any and no luck. I even went so far as to roam around the hotel grounds and check the garbage and nothing. I was screwed. The whole time I kept myself calm knowing stress would not bode well for race day coming up. At worst I would have to either shatter my window or call a locksmith. I wasn't looking forward to either knowing those A-hole crooks that stole all of my belongings had the satisfaction of breaking one of my window's not too long ago.

My only glimmer of hope was that i had about a half inch space that I could get something into the edge of the driver's side back door. The problem being that I couldn't hook the door lock and the keys were lying on the driver's side front seat. Great. Plus I had no coat hanger to even try to fish them out. At this point I went back to the hotel to look for anything I could cannibalize in order to try to fish my keys out. It would be a longshot but I was so pissed off at this point I was willing to try anything to get those keys out. I stared at the back of the mini-fridge thinking if I could rip the coils off the back to use but I'd probably have to pay for that one. Same thought went through my head with a mattress coil. It would be satisfying but a little too expensive to replace. Something had to work...

Then came my moment of genius - I'm proud of this one. I dumped out my gear bag and my backpack that I had with me. Nothing looked like it would work. Then I looked a little harder. I had a spiral bound planner with me. Lets just say it's not so spiral bound any more. I ripped out the metal binding and proceeded to straighten it out and use that to fish for my keys. It took about 3 different configurations to finally snake it from the back door, over the front seat, and finally hook the lanyard on my keys. Thank goodness for that lanyard. I gently dragged it over the seat, get closer to the door, and then have it fall off the hook. Really? It took over an hour to get to that point. Since it was closer I had to rework my wire and finally get the lanyard out the crack in the door and yank on it with everything I had to get it out of that small opening in the door. Totally psyched and amazed that it worked I couldn't get to

So after finally falling asleep at 12:30 - I checked in at 10 - I got that rest I finally wanted. That is until the hotel alarm went off at 7 am and the hotel had to be evacuated. It was just a fitting end to a lovely stay my first night in Ohio. Of course when I could go back in I couldn't go back to sleep so I loaded up the car and headed out for Loudonville. At least I would get there early and be able to relax and nap a bit to rest for the race the following day.

I headed out on my preride and went into the opening singletrack in the Mohican State Forest. I love that place. It has some of the sweetest flowing trails of anywhere I've ever ridden. I was just so happy to be there and riding. That was until I had a bee fly into my helmet and sting me right in the middle of my forehead. Wonderful. I was still sticking with the theme of getting all the crap out of the way before the race actually began. Ignoring the sting, I kept on and did my warmups and checked out any changes to the start and finish of the course. Everything made sense and was a little smoother so I was happy knowing what lie ahead. All I needed was to chill, check in, and throw down the next morning. The fun was yet to come...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

H2H #3 Rumble in the Jungle

I had a fun day this past Sunday. I woke up to a slightly warm yet foggy rainy day and checked the weather to see that it would be a 0% chance of rain all day. Sweet! I figured the fog would burn off, and conditions would be slick but doable and it would be a cool race day. That was not to be the case. It rained, not very hard but steady. And it rained some more. I gave in to the fact that it was going to be a struggle through the slop but I know I can ride very well in the mud so what the hell. Here we go.

I hit the start hard and got in 3rd wheel and my teammate Shernce was raring to go so I let him slip through and followed him through the first section of warthog with the leaders just ahead. Shernce suddenly dropped his chain and had to stop so I kept going with Fast Eddie not far behind. I let him go just before Otter Slide and he was gone quickly. So I was now sitting 4th and through the rest of the first lap Gered from VT and Joe Petrarca came up from behind and I had to let Gered go through as he was moving fast. From a chat with him as we prerode earlier, Gered said he got 7th at Hop Brook so I knew he was solid. Anyway so now sitting in 5th and it was just Joe and I. We stayed together for the first lap and started the second together but he was just riding the slop better. I let him go figuring I would use him and try to shed him on the 3rd lap. That wasn't the case.

I just couldn't dig that deep for some reason and that extra gear was not there. On top of that I made a few mistakes following Joe and the gap opened. So I stayed steady in 6th and figured I'd try to reel him in on the last lap. At the top of the climb on the last lap I see Ben W walking backwards on the course not looking good - turns out he separated his shoulder. I asked him if he was ok but he wasn't. He had people with him so I kept on. I rode hard but Joe was riding just as well. I caught a glimpse of Joe and I was closing the gap but I think he had about a minute on me at the end. It was a hard day in those trails. It was a greasy, slimy mess but was tons of fun. It made for a hard race but all the more fun. I was happy to keep it upright and have a solid finish. 5th of 9 starters. Good day considering what the meteoroligists called a 0% chance of showers

Monday, May 13, 2013

H2H #2 Wawayanda Spring Cleaning

It was a fun race last weekend. Probably lots of people with some nice sunburn/color like myself today from an amazing day. I don't think Wawayanda has EVER been that dry. It was dusty and powdery in sections. I had a decent day. I didn't feel super but I didn't feel horrible. Well I did a little from the start. As expected we took off down the gravel road for the start and made the right onto the waway entrance road and eyes were bleeding already. Strung out single file we made our way into the singletrack and my legs just didn't want to go. I drifted backwards and just hung in there hoping my legs would get better. I kept people in sight but it was just hard to get going. It didn't help that the race went off 20 minutes late letting everyone's legs get cold again.

So anyway I kept on my pace and one by one started to either reel people in or pass people with mechanicals. First Szymon was having difficulties, then Rich W with a flat, then a few others with issues, then past Ilya, and worked my way up to Joe P. By the end of lap 1 I put in a good effort to close on sitting bear and I past Joe on the downhill to the start/finish and started lap 2 feeling better and wishing there were 5 more to go. So as I pass Joe he tells me Lombardo is just ahead so he is my new target. I tracked him down and he said he was going to try and hold my wheel, but I didn't want that. So I put in a hard effort and shed him. By Jim's bridge I was opening up a nice gap but then I ran into a walker on the bridge that wouldn't run and wouldn't clear the path. I had to slowly roll behind him as he was walking on the bridge and then dismount and run around him. This was perfect for Joe as he closed the gap as I was waiting for this guy to move. So with Joe hot on my heels I put down a good pace and just tried to keep him behind me. I got back to him in sitting bear so that's where the race was. Keep him behind and then open it up in sitting bear.

Through the new stuff I could hear Joe behind, and not very far behind so he was riding very well. He's never one I'll take lightly as he can be very fast when he decided to throw down. We got to the rock choke in the trees and I fumbled and I hear Joe yell from behind, "I saw that, I'm coming!" so I messed that up and I bobbled on another section just after that letting Joe get right behind me again. But as I know that trail very well, I hit each of the remaining hills hard and kept the rocky stuff as smooth as possible and crossed the line around 30 seconds ahead of him. It was great having someone so close as it motivated me to keep pushing and was really a lot of fun.

I finished 9th of 17 starters and put in a decent effort with a full extra big lap at the end to extend my day and use it for my training goals. I finished in the money on a beautiful day so I'm pretty happy. When I look at results too the other characters that I'm usually behind were only 3 minutes ahead so I'll take that margin. Let's just forget about Seamus and Christian that were 10 minutes ahead...and Seamus on a full suspension SS. Really.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

H2H #1 Blue Mountain Chainstretcher

This race is always one of my favorites. The amount of rock and techy goodness there really keeps me entertained. I often have to hold back from hitting drops and other features I normally like to play on in an effort just to go fast. Sometimes it's more fun to play. Anyway I rolled up there early to see the sports go off and to see how the conditions were and as I was thinking, it was going to be fast and dry.

I did my warmup, got ready and got to the line early not knowing what to think. There's so much less room for error than my normal endurance races and I just felt scattered. Probably with the fact that I couldn't find my co2 inflators and had to carry a bulky hand pump made me extra confident...not. Anyway I was in for the workout. I wanted to see how I would stack up and feeling ok it would be a good test of the legs and equipment.

The race director says go and we're off. I hit it hard and somehow grab 2nd wheel into the first uphill. Unfortunately right off the batt I forgot to unlock my lockout so I was thrown off my line and into a bunch of stuff that I didn't want to be in. I popped off my lockout and shifted and tried to regain the position I had. So with that I went from second wheel to 5th wheel. I was ok with that.

Through the first lap I had the Cannondale guy and Rich W in my sights and was hanging with them just a little ways back. I know blue pretty well and at that point I knew I needed more time to warm up. I was hoping later in the race they may fall back and I could benefit and gain some positions. That strategy went out the window when my front tire went soft. I rode it for a little bit and then knew I had to pull over and pump it up. Yes pump it up. That archaeic old pump I carrie actually was put to use. I jumped off, threw the pump on it, cheered on John and Ross as they passed begrudgingly, popped the pump back in my pocket and took off.

Within 2 miles I had worked my way back through John and then passed Ross. I was feeling pretty good and kept looking for the colors of the racers ahead. There was another problem though...the pumped up tire was still not holding air. I could feel it was deflating. In each turn it tracked wrong and felt it getting soft every time I placed the front down over a log. Crap... I didn't want to pull over again.

I kept going on the second lap just being cautious and it was soft but holding. I was still holding my gap to Ross behind and didn't see anyone ahead. I just told myself to ride smoothly to preserve the tire and go fast. I seemed to do just that. It had enough pressure to keep me upright while still being a bit too squishy. I rolled across the finishe line with my tire at about 10 psi and holding onto that 4th spot. I was in 5th but one of the racers ahead had to stop to fix his flat so I gained another position right there. This was great! I was happy with 5th, but 4th? I'll take it! Super stoked and feeling good I wish we had to race a few more laps - well that is if I could have had a non-deflating tire.

Thanks go out to the Blue crew for putting together a great race and using some superb trails. It was a bit of a chilly day, but the crowd was good and there was a lot of great racing going on in the hills of Peeskill yesterday.

Monday, April 8, 2013

6 Hours of Warrior Creek - The Race

It was a perfect race day. Cool in the morning but warmed up to the mid 70's later in the day under full sun. Wow...this was much welcomed after the cold and long winter in Northern Jersey. This race is tough since everyone goes at once and there is a good showing of duo guys amongst the solos. So it's hard to figure out who you are actually racing against. As it were we showed up for the prerace meeting at what was thought to be the starting line - and it wasn't. So we had to all move to the actual starting line which put me in like the 4th row. I wasn't happy with that so I knew I'd have to put in a good effort to get around the traffic and into a better spot for the singletrack.

I used my gas to get through a lot but I still hit the singletrack in 20-25th spot. I put in a good hard first lap but traffic, a few crashes in front of me, and throwing my chain into my wheel twice didn't help. I had to stop and wrestle it out of the wheel both times, regain my composure and catch back on, remember not to use my biggest cog, and try to get back to where I was. I rode super steady the first 3 laps and then knew I was running low on juice so I had to pull it back a bit.

As the laps went on I was feeling the power decrease but my spirits were lifted by the guys I was riding with. I was pulling a few trains of people here and there and I asked if they wanted to come through they said no. They were just trying to hold my wheel and I was fine with that. I just rode steady and hard and picked the climbs and fun parts to hit hard and just tried to relax for the rest.

I finished super solid and happy with how I rode on such a fun but tough course. I was even more excited to see that I finished 3rd. I've been close to the podium the past few tries at this race and now I finally got there. It was a great feeling especially knowing all that I'd been through with the break in on the way down.

6 Hours of Warrior Creek - The D-Bags...Part 1

This race is always a highlight of the season as the weather seems to be nice when the winter is wrapping up in the North. This year seemed like it might not work out that way. As I started out my drive I heard reports of an inch plus of rain plus an inch of snow on the ground near the course. I just hoped it would clear up for race day since that clay would not be fun in the rain or if really sloppy.

So my buddy Lucky and I headed down Thursday afternoon with plans on making it as far as Roanoke for the night and then an easy drive into Wilkesboro Friday morning. It was a great plan but I didn't want to forego riding Thursday just to drive. With this in mind I came up with the plan to ride Michaux State Forest and do a good portion of the Curse of Dark Hollow 20 mile course. I thought that might work well since Michaux is really techy and hard while the 6WC course would be super fast and flowy in comparison.

The ride went great, as it was fun bumping through the state forest and went a little long as we came out just after crossing the 2 hour mark. Then came the real fun. As we approached my car, my rear driver's side window was smashed in and all of the contents in the back of the car were gone. Camping gear, cycling gear, laptop, work bag, work keys, regular clothes, and all of the other contents gone. After making a list it's probably around 6k worth of items of mine gone alone. Lucky had all of his stuff taken as well which was probably about the same value. The part that hurts the most is that there is not much stuff that can be resold. The electronics, jewelry, and some other stuff for sure but all that clothing and cycling clothing that is so value and near and dear to me is gone. I kept every option I had in my cycling bag so that I was prepared for anything. It's gone...

With this totally screwing up our trip and our heads we filed the police report, sorted through the goods to see what was left and headed home with nothing. Well close to nothing. Thankfully the thieves weren't that thorough as they left our wallets that they missed so we didn't have to go through the headaches of dealing with replacing all of that stuff. We still couldn't press on with nothing though.

So we went back towards Harrisburg PA and stopped for dinner as we were just driving in a fog. I couldn't wrap my head around anything and hadn't eaten since noon. It was now about 7 so it was time to stop. We ate and contemplated our decision. Home or not? Was it even possible to press on? We would have to stop somewhere and buy everything. We didn't have camp gear, or clothes to make the race happen. We at least needed that and couldn't justify buying everything. Then I called Dan. Enter Mr. Dan Rapp. He lives just outside of H'burg and said to stop by. Hell even if it was just to chat and then go home. We chilled for a while and then gave us the pep talk. He said he's got everything we need if we want it. Camp gear. Clothes. Food. Whatever... On top of that enter Mr. Brent Lester. Through this Brent was doing the same from a long distance. Brent extended the same from Greensboro and said as long as we made it down there he would help us out. I couldn't believe the support. With all this how could we not go. With a little coercing Lucky and I decided to head back south and not let these Ahole thieves ruin our trip.

So thanks to Hotel Rapp, we crashed on Dan's couch and regrouped. Up in the morning with his awesome family, we packed the car full of our loaner gear and hit the road. With all that Dan gave us, and that Brent was bringing for us we felt like we could pull this off. We still had to pull off and hit up some stores to make sure we had the other necessities like toilettries(that I just bought that were stolen too), clothes, and underwear(yes that was stolen too). It was a lot of bumps and it make for one hell of a long ride down but we made it to NC and were ready to settle into camp and relax for the race the next morning. It was a little hard to relax but we did the best we could given the circum stances and just hoped the race would go a little better.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tuscarora Endurance Race

Waking up at 3 am Sunday morning I felt rested but was more anxious to start my drive out to Blain PA. I met up with a teammate to share the 4 hour drive and not hurt ourselves too much with transit time/fatigue. The drive was smooth except for a couple of Easter bunnies that were begging to become speed bumps – which we narrowly missed. As we arrived at the park for the Tuscarora race we were happy to be out racing, but not too happy when we felt the temperature at which we were about to exhaust ourselves in. It was about 22-23 degrees when the gun went off –yikes. It was my first time racing in my winter shoes.

I had a good start as I was sitting on the front row but I wanted to be conservative as I had heard how hilly the course was and that it would be tough. I usually go out too hot and wanted to see if this tactic would pay off. So I stayed steady and watched racer after racer pass and I just kept my own pace. The course was hilly and had a ½ mile super technical rocky section that was fun to navigate. In traffic it was especially rough though. I passed a few and had to get off my bike in a few spots but was generally doing pretty well. I was hoping that throughout the day I would limit my efforts and the others would fade. At least that was the plan.

Through lap 2, I was pacing well and going back and forth with Dan from Black Bear which I know is a super strong rider and we worked through a bunch of people while having fun on the rocks. One section he would pull ahead, then I would pull ahead and repeat that for lap 3. At the end of lap 3, I saw Gerry Pflug creeping up so I put down an effort to drag him away from the competition as we usually see each other at some point in these races and he’s a super strong great guy. I towed him into the start of lap 4 and let him go on the first big climb. I knew that was the last I would see of him. He was riding well.

At that point though I looked at my clock and it was 1:58 into the race. I was feeling good but not sure how much more I had in the tank. If we completed 3 laps I knew I wasn’t going to get faster so the plan was to pace for 6 laps. On that 4th lap I put in an effort on the opening climb to see if Dan would stay with me but he fell off the pace a bit and the gap opened. He told me later that’s where his legs popped. I got a little motivation from this, but at this point the course was getting slicker and greasier as the temps rose and the snow/ground moisture started to melt. Mud was getting dragged everywhere making the course super slick. It was a bike handler’s course for sure. The lap was going well but I got passed by a rider from Scott. Later I found out it was Zach but I was hoping to be able to pass him by the finish. I would have the better ride through the tech but he was doing better on the fitness. We passed each other a few times and in lap 5 he got out of sight ahead of me. At that point I knew it was a lost cause.

Continuing on lap 5, I had to stop on a downhill as my front derailleur cable end had somehow flipped onto my tire causing a horrible noise and it got me thinking it would somehow eat through my rubber causing a fatal flat. I had worked way too hard to get where I was at this point so I stopped. When I stopped I let a rider through as he had the momentum and then just tried to pace him to make the pass back. That never happened. We cruised in sight of each other and then started lap 6. He was riding for Team CF and I knew he was pretty strong to be riding with that group. He dangling in front of me but he just had more gas than I did in that final lap. I was dealing with cramps for the last 3 laps and that made just enough of a difference to not have the energy to close the gap. I put down whatever power I could in the final few miles to try and close the gap but I would finish 1:30 behind him. The final present I received was on that last downhill to the finish I saw Zach(the Scott rider) on the side of the trail fixing what looked to be a flat. That was just fortunate for my placing. I was hoping to pass him but not like that. I asked if he was good and he said yes so I kept on motoring to the finish line. I always stay on the gas just in case that happens and for once it finally paid off. I cranked harder after I knew he was ok since if it was a quick fix he was very strong and would close that gap fast. I crossed at 4:16 knowing I had put in a solid effort but knowing that I had totally wrecked my hydration and nutrition plan.

The cold was such that I never really wanted to eat or drink. I forced myself for a while but then the race got in my head and I just overlooked it. Lap after lap I tried to get more fluids in but I just didn’t seem to need it. I said I’d stop after lap 3…nope. Then I said 4…nope. Then 5…but at that point I knew I had enough to get to the finish. I flew through the pit one last time without stopping and completed the course without picking up any additional food or fluids. Not the smartest move but it kept me motivated knowing others would probably stop and I wouldn’t.

In the end I didn’t know how I did. I knew there would be mechanicals and hoped that would benefit my placing, but not sure of by how much. I told myself that I would be satisfied with top 10. I got warm and came back for results and to my surprise I came in 4th!?!?!?!?!? Really? I thought there might have been some mistake but it was true. The guy I let through was 3rd and as I passed Zach fixing his tire that put me in 4th. I had no idea. These lap races are so tough to manage placings as there are so many riders on the course but never did I think I was in 4th. I’m super happy to have placed so well in a strong field and got to walk away with a sweet bottle of wine, some goodies, and some cash. It made a long tedious day driving worth it.

Then I had to jump in the car with my teammate who got 2nd place and head back to jersey. It was safe to say Team Bulldog had a great day out there in the cold woods of PA. Not bad for the end of March on a course that was anything but easy

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Smokey and the Bandit Short Track

The 2013 season is officially under way I guess. This morning I did the eeney meeney miney moe and hoped things would still stay frozen enough to bring out my race bike. So I threw the Lynskey on the car and headed over to High Bridge NJ for the short track race. The trails were good. Tougher than I expected to see but they were tight...really tight. Passing was going to be an art on this course. The start had a little to be desired as it was 40 of your closest friends sprinting for 50 yards and then trying to nail a right hand turn into singletrack. It turns out it wasn't that pretty.

At the start, one of the racers to my left decided to sprint sideways and run into some of the other racers almost causing a pileup without making very few revolutions of the cranks - so this is how it's gonna go... I gave way to avoid crashing at got shoved pretty far back. I would say somewhere around 15th spot or so. So I'm sitting in line and being patient and waiting for my chance to pass as is everyone else. A few laps go on and there's no real way to pass besides asking the guy in front to let you by. Some do some don't. And the the ones that don't - I have no idea why they don't. This isn't the nationals and there's no paycheck for 11th place. So anyway it's all a game of mechanicals and mistakes at this point. I get through a group of 4 or 5 that were holding me back and then it opens up a bit. Of course by this time the top guys are gone. So now it was a time trial to get back to the front. I opened it up and just rode steady. Picking off a few here and there I heard I was in 7th...ok. I knew there were more ahead of me but apparently a few had flatted or crashed. In 7th I kept on my current pace and just tracked down the next guy...6th. Then 5th...then 4th. And that's where the time ran out.

After 45 minutes of hard racing on a sweet piece of singletrack I ended up with a nice 4th place. I'll take that. My lack of consistency this winter didn't make itself as apparent as I thought it would. I did some hard workouts on Wednesday and Thursday as well thinking it might not be good for the weekend but whatever. It turned out ok. I just wish the traffic opened up sooner so I could have the advantage of riding clean with the faster guys. There's always next time.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Off Season

So far this off-season, inconsistent is the word. I took over the job as the assistant ski team coach for my high school and it's been amazing and I love working with the kids but it's also been super hard to balance the time and needs for the job. I've been riding when I can and adding structure when I can but that's all about to change soon. As of next weekend my ski season will come to a close and the riding season begins in full swing. It's 5 weeks till the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek which is the official opener of my season and it'll be interesting to see how a slower early season may benefit me. The past two seasons I've had super strong early seasons and I've been burnt come September. Now with me firing things up in March it may pay off with better dividends come late season. We shall see. I'm excited to see what lies ahead. Especially with my wedding being in October of the upcoming year it'll be a test of discipline and planning. The cycling season is here: time to rip this sh*t up.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

End of Season: Bubble CX, Sussex CX, and Horseshoe CX

The last 3 races on my calendar were all really good and tough races but really varied courses. And in 2 of the 3 I suffered mechanicals that I fought through to finish well but as always leaves me wondering what if...

Bubble CX - This was a great race as it was on my home turf and I was ready for the sand...and there was a whole lot of it! I got a great start and headed up the main hill of the course and let a few cruise by as I was just settling in. I figured I'd get a couple back in the twists and turns but everyone was quite solid and it was very tough if possible at all. So we made our way around the upper field maze, around the back gazebo, and then to the beach. The beach was tough but totally rideable. I made it, albeit slow with traffic and had a great back section that was MTB friendly and gave the roadies a nice pucker factor. I was feeling great for the first laps and the rest to follow would be good as well. But then the proverbial poop hit the fan. I lifted my bike on one lap and felt the rear wheel loose when I set it down. So I had to stop and tighten the skewer. It then happened two laps later as I powered up a hill and wondered how long that would last until it came loose again. Luckily it didn't. I lost enough time dealing with the wheel that I really didn't want to have to stop one more time. But that wasn't the end of the bad luck. For some odd reason my pedals weren't working with me. There was a very short section after the step runup that you had to mount and take on the long sand stretch and for the life of me I could not get the pedals to clip in before the sand making me lose time on at least 3 laps. It was very frustrating as I was riding well and knew I could be in the top 10 at least or maybe even top 5. But with all the mishaps I was happy to finish where I finally ended up in the 10th spot of 20 or so guys that were really solid racers. I had 7th locked up until one of the laps where my wheel came loose but then there just wasn't enough time to chase back on. C'est la vie...

Sussex CX - This race was one of my favorites of the season. Not because the course was my favorite but because I feel like I was being attacked by a pride of lions and came out on top. The course was a cold windy day and I was feeling pretty good and did all I could on the first lap. I had a good start and was riding with Andrew and Eric and having a really good time. I could tell they were feeling good as on one section they got a gap and I was fighting very hard to get back to them but just couldn't close. This is where the battle began as I was in no-man's land. Fighting for every inch of the course by myself and then I looked back to see the lions waiting to eat me. It was a really solid group of my coach Brian, with Dave, and David who were looking really strong and I know there is a lot of experience in that group. Each lap I looked back knowing full well that they were working together and just waiting to reel me in and eat me up. Each lap I dug deeper and deeper to stay away from them and for the time being it was working. Lap after lap I was still alone but somehow keeping my distance to each group and with a little gaining or losing either way that's how it stuck. I held the really strong group off and had a super solid ride with no mechanicals on a course that would expose any of my flaws. Even though I have a affinity for the hard, tight twisty courses, this one faired pretty well and was really a favorite of the season.

Horseshoe CX - This was a tough race. Since it was towards the end the season I was on the downswing and just trying really hard to hold onto the fitness that I've been carrying but it's been tough. The race was really muddy and just what I was asking for, but ended up being more than I wanted. The course was tough. Deep mud and a really long hill that was just greased up beyond belief... It was super hard and lap by lap it was getting worse and worse. So bad that the final lap the derailleur snagged my wheel and snapped off and ended the race bike. So I had to hike to the pit and get my backup bike to finish and only lost one place. It was a tough race but still a good one and a nice reminder of how hard some of these races can be. Time to plan ahead to the 2013 season.

Stoudt's CX Update

For those that read of the incident below at Stoudt's I do have some info to update. Thanks to the post below, Dan, the manager of Bicycle Therapy, got in contact with me and we had a discussion of the incident and it ended pretty favorably. He reassured me that it was totally an unfortunate accident and that Brendan is truly and deeply sorry for what he did, and that it still troubles him as to what happened that day. It still troubles me as well. As I said, I just didn't want the incident swept under the rug but I didn't want to report it to USAC either. I know it was a mistake. If it was malicious, there is no question that I would have reported it. So with that extra apology and the sincere concern for my well being I have moved on hoping that no one ever gets to have this experience. His team and shop are well aware of what happened and that's all I really wanted from this exchange. Some accountability and a little extra sincerity made me feel much better about the incident.

At the end of it all Dan extended the offer to replace my helmet that was broken when I got hit. It was not what I was looking to get from the incident but that offer goes a long way towards the sentiment and trying to make things right. For that I really do appreciate the effort.

Next up I'm working on my end of season recap...