Sunday, December 20, 2015

Looking Ahead to 2016

As 2015 comes to a close it's the time of year to start filling up the calendar and start laying out a plan for the next year. At this point I've been perusing the NUE, H2H, MASS, and NJ Fatbike Calendars. The only thing certain at this point is that I want to have a better 2016 than 2015.

It seems more than likely I will be starting off with some Fatbike, some short track, then some 6 hours, then xc then NUE. Or something like that. There is something to be said about racing yourself into shape so that maybe part of the strategy. All I know is that I'm spending any downtime now prepping the bikes for next year and trying to lay out the next few months. I'm trying to throw a training camp in there and just lots of good miles and hours. Depending how this winter goes will dictate how my 2016 goes. Either way we are very close to daylight becoming longer and that's a good thing.

I'm registered for one race, waiting for registration to open on another race...and still waiting for my feet to thaw out from this weekend's riding.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wrapping up 2015

This was a crazy year for me. To not be too long's the jist.

After being hit by a car there was a ton of rehab and the shoulder finally feels good. I don't have to think about it for 95% of the tasks I do.

I did basically fall off the map as I moved from Bloomfield to Denville and that was an insane undertaking. Not only did I have to move all of my and my wife's belongings, but once we did make the move it was a few months of nonstop fixes, updates, and improvements to make life normal in the new house.

I did some racing here and there with the Wilderness 101 being the scariest race of my life. Since the move I rode close to 3 hours in the month during/after the move and left me woefully unprepared for the race. I got to the line and prepared to curl up into a ball on the first climb and weep for hours. Somehow I actually rode my bike, got up the big hills, broke my chain, converted it to a singlespeed, rode the last 30 miles wishing for gears and actually had a good time and decent result for what could have been a disaster.

The next notable race was the Shenandoah 100. This has been my nemesis and I was still unprepared for this one but at least I had a few weeks of solid rides under my belt for this. Unfortunately I knew I would need to take it easy to finish this one and it hit hard mid race. I remember going over the climb between aid 3 and 4 and just wanting to ride back to the start and end the misery. But I couldn't... I kept on - had an ok day - and finished up almost walking the final climb and being thankful that the last race of my mtb season was over.

Inconsistency was the name of this season.

I tried to get my mind wrapped around CX but I had more issues with this. My first practice I rolled a tubular. Tried a race and then rolled another. Tried the new Mariposa tape and that stuff is garbage. Gave up on tubulars. I used my backup bike for a bit with all kinds of shifting issues and got fed up with that. To tell the truth I was just having more fun riding my mountain bike then trying to get myself in shape to try and not throw up for an hour.

With the CX urge fading I did the next best thing. Get on my FAT BIKE! I have resisted the trend for a long time but I see what people are boasting about...somewhat. I still stand by the fact that snow riding sucks. Unless the trails are groomed. But for dirt riding the fat bike is a blast. With that I did some CX racing on my fat bike since it was much less of a headache and actually a lot of fun to race.

I competed in Hippo CX and Westwood CX on my fat bike and went 1st and 2nd respectively. What a great way to cap off the season.

For the off season I'm enjoying being fat. Weight wise - not bike choice. But with all this nice weather I'm starting to get a good game plan as to what is coming up for next season. Looks like a pretty diverse season with some fat bike, mtb, and cx races starting to fill up the calendar.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Accident/Racing/Life Update

March 26 was my accident with the Lexus and today is June 8th. 10.5 weeks later the shoulder is progressing but as I feared, the MRI I had 3 weeks ago affirmed that I have a tear in the rotator cuff. I've been working hard at PT and getting more range of motion out of it. I still have a reduced range of motion and some pain and I hope in time it's going to work itself out. My orthopedic surgeon said that in 3 more weeks he will evaluate it and then recommend surgery or not. I'm praying for not. I've heard the recovery is about 4 months or so of restricted movement and PT. That's not something that I want to go through if I don't have to. So for the time being I'm putting my effort forward to work the shoulder out through therapy and hoping for the best. The worst part is feeling that I'm behind in my training for the year because of the accident and it has changed what I expect from myself and what races I originally planned on competing in this year. I'm being optimistic but I'm hoping for some good times on the bike regardless if I can race to my potential for the year.

As far as racing, since my last update I have competed in a few races. The Allamuchy 4 hour race, the Tour de Lake road race, and the Mohican 100. For each I've gone in behind schedule and hoped that I could have a good time, gain some fitness and try to work the shoulder back in to normal function. With limited success, I completed each but hope to get better in the coming weeks. Here was the breakdown:

Allamuchy 4 hour: For this race I took off hard with the eventual race winner Leo. We hit the trail first and it was really just us for the first lap with a rider in 3rd trailing behind and no one else in sight. At the end of the first lap Leo took off strong and that was the last I saw of him. I hit the next few laps hard but towards the end of lap 4 I was feeling I was cooked. It was the first hard effort that I've really done at a race this year and I felt it. The legs were tired, the body was heavy and I just tried to preserve. On lap 6 of 7 I was passed by the racer who was trailing in 3rd and I had no response. I just had to get to the finish and end the race. I finished in 3rd place, happy but exhausted. The shoulder held up but it was definitely fatigued from the race. That and the rest of me. It was great to be out but a good marker to remind me how behind I was for the season. I'd usually have more top end and endurance than that, but it was just not happening. Maybe the next races would go better.

Tour de Lake: This race was 2 weeks after the Allamuchy race and after a fairly heavy workout week as I've been trying to play catchup of course. I headed in being happy if I stayed with the group to Edison road. We fired out of the lot pretty hot through the first few corners and the pace was pretty steady and fast around the lake. We got to 181 and made the left up the hill and I felt the legs starting to give way. I was trying to use as little energy as I could to stay with the group. I wasn't feeling fresh by a long shot and the pavement was sketchy at best after the hard winter we had. So I kept up the tempo and stayed with the group down the Glen, then over to Ogdensburg where the legs were burning and I knew Edison was over. I wouldn't be able to hang with the group. I told my teammates to go as I was cooked and wouldn't you know it, that's right when I got a flat tire. I nursed it up to the aid station by the lake that like just ahead. I chatted with the guys at the station, put in a new tube, a tire boot from a granola bar wrapper, saw a few guys pass and jumped back out to latch on. One of the guys who passed was my teammate - so my strategy was to catch his group and pull him away so we could work together and finish strong. It worked, I got him away and we used each other to finish the race. Unfortunately there were some confusing arrows and all the racers got lost so the ending order was jumbled a bit after a few hard efforts. I think I was still 16th or so for not feeling well and getting lost. It was a fun day on the road with great people.

Mohican 100 - is by far my favorite race of the year. I always like for this to be a peak of my season and from a training standpoint, it wasn't by far. For this race I didn't really prep well with so much going on in life. Buying a new house, a couple of funerals, and the craziness of life got in the way. So I headed out with 2 teammates and did my best. I completed the first 3 hours or so pretty well and was in the fight for a while. On the initial road climb I felt like a dog and barely got over the hill. I entered the singletrack in probably 60th position overall and just hoped to get by a bunch as the race went on. I rode the singletrack well with the eventual master's winner but he ran away literally on the first hike a bike. So on to the gravel roads I had been feeling well and staying on top of nutrition and hydration. For once I focused on this primarily hoping it would be the key to success in this race. It worked well but still wasn't enough for the heat and humidity. It was in the upper 80's all day with very high humidity. I started cramping around 4 hours in and that would continue most of the day. With the cramping the power dropped and made for some fun later. The new singletrack that was added was greasy too and added a few too many hike a bikes to be enjoyable. I could have done without that. The rest of the race was in conservation mode and just setting a steady pace when possible. I finished in 8:44, very happy with a sub 9 time with the given fitness I had. Under normal circumstances I would have finished in the low 8's for sure.

So all in all not too bad on the racing scene even though I've been doing less than expected. It's been great to get out and ride and compete and keep myself sane. I have a few more races coming up but nothing set in stone. More to come.

Monday, April 20, 2015

How to Total a Lexus

March 26th accident - at approximately 7:15pm with cool and damp conditions. I was traveling southbound on Broad Street passing the side street of Chittenden. As I was crossing the intersection, a driver traveling northbound on Broad Street turned into Chittenden and did not see me crossing the side street on my bicycle. I remember seeing the car coming at me knowing that I was going to be hit. He did not slow in any way - so I braced for the impact. I jumped up to avoid the bumper and remember crashing onto his hood and then going off of the driver side of the car onto the ground. It was unpleasant for sure but somehow I never lost consciousness.

I was rolling around in pain from the hit and was immediately checked on by some witnesses/bystanders. I was told not to move as they we afraid my neck and back were injured. They threw coats and blankets on me to stay warm as the road was cold and wet. Since they covered me up so quickly I did not get to see who hit me or what the damage was to the car, the bicycle, or myself. The one thing I noted was that the driver never even said sorry for hitting me. Nothing... I only remember the nice words of those helping me and those that were nice enough to call my wife.

I was then placed on a backboard as the police and paramedics arrived on the scene. They loaded me in the ambulance and we took off for St. Joseph's hospital. They informed me that my wife would meet us there and that I did some major damage to the car. The hood and windshield were smashed and the car had to be towed.

At the hospital they brought me in to be evaluated. I complained of widespread pain in my left wrist, left elbow, left hand, both knees, left shin, and right hip. They evaluated and x-rayed everything and I was released hours later with a few scrapes and bruises but nothing broken - that they could tell. I was told to follow up with an orthopedic as the hospital wanted to make sure my scaphoid bone(wrist) was not broken and that any other issues could be addressed.

At the time it wasn't too bad but I could tell from the soreness that the bruising would be huge. A few days later it looked like I had been hit by a car. My right hip had a huge eggplant colored bruise on it from landing on the pavement as well as the inside of my right thigh from the top tube of the bike. The blood pooling there in both places was setting the stage for some really nice colors in the weeks to follow. The gash in my shin was particularly pretty as well. They said it didn't need stitches but I bet that was a close call as it was pretty deep. For my hand/wrist as well had some good bruising as I'm not sure what it made the biggest impact with, the hood of the car or the pavement when I landed.

I followed up in Monday with my orthopedic doctor to look at my wrist and my shoulder. My shoulder was really hurting after the accident as I could not lift my arm. They were both looked at, and my wrist didn't seem to worry him but my shoulder needed to be addressed. He told me to seek physical therapy and try to heal it that way. If it didn't get better in a few weeks then it may be a torn rotator cuff and need an mri. At this point he suspects it is just a sprained rotator cuff.

After that appointment I kept self evaluating and felt my face, jaw, and side of my head were sore. Currently the face and head pain have gone away which leaves me with the nagging jaw pain. It's been coming and going but it seems to be getting better overall with time. At first it was hard to properly clench my jaw but now it seems to work better but with discomfort when I have to open my jaw wide.

7 days after the accident, on the following thursday, I was finally able to pick up my bicycle and police report from the Clifton police department. That was a whole other ordeal to just get that released. They said they were just holding it for me but since the report wasn't closed it took many extra days and 4 days of calls and visits to the police station to finally get it released. From both sides of the page with the report and the bicycle, the result of the accident was shocking.

The bike was smashed. It's a total loss. It's a wonder how both legs were not broken in this crash. My crank arm took the brunt of the hit as it is bent inside my frame. My front wheel was ripped off the bike from being smashed so hard and the frame is completely bent and broken in multiple places. My power wheel was smashed, my computer doesn't work, pedals broken, rear light broken, helmet smashed, and my clothing was destroyed. It's very sad to see that much damage and I'm glad I was able to walk away.

On the police report side there were a couple of things that stood out. The first was that the report indicates that the 74 year old man who hit me with his Lexus was inattentive and didn't see me in the intersection. The least he could have done was to come see if I was ok and apologize, but there was none of that. And secondly, that there were no tickets issued to the other driver? How is that even possible??? I guess in Clifton it's ok to mow down a cyclist with your car and just say oops...sorry. Oh yea that's right - he didn't even say sorry.

Currently it is three weeks after the accident and I'm feeling much better, but not 100%. My shoulder is still messed up. I had an orthopedic appointment today and although I'm regaining better range of motion, he still thinks it's partially torn or there is inflammation that may need treatment. An MRI is the next step to assess the damage and go forward. There is a possibility of a tear that requires surgery and that would be 6 months of surgery, rest, and physical therapy. I'm praying that is not the case...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mtbnj's Short Track Adventure

This past Sunday was the first time I have raced on dirt this year. Well dirt is a loose term for the actual surface I would be racing on. There was probably 50 feet of actual dirt and another mile of ice, snow, and slop to get through before hitting the start/finish and doing it all over again. The race was supposed to be a 45 minute race and it ended up being just about that.

We took off from the start and I was in the third row of 24 people. The racers in front of me cleared out and gassed it and I jumped on their wheel. Up the pavement climb it went hot and not something my body was used to. I have done close to zero high end efforts this year and I felt it. My body was in shock. I ignored it and pressed on harder to pass a couple on the second lap but then my body was telling me to slow down. I had to. I had zero warmup and I was actually happy to go as hard as I did for that long. So at that point I settled in and tried to get the diesel going - which is the wrong type of motor but it's what I had. The worst part is that with each hard effort I could feel my worn cassete misshifting and not letting me use the gears I needed. Frustrating to say the least. Then my chain dropped. Ok - so it was a day to shake the bugs out.

In the end I kept the motor going but still finished pretty well. I was 8th of 24 and pretty happy with the result. A rider came up on me hard in the last lap but I rode steady and smooth to keep him from passing as I charged to the line just ahead of him. I know I could have done a lot better if a few more things came together but it reminds me that I still have the drive and legs to be competitive out there even in early season form.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Day #8 - Training Camp Weekend

Each year I try to get in a training camp to kickoff the season. I attempted to do this back on President's weekend in February but that was a flat out fail. #1 was that it was an absolute arctic weekend and would have made any riding very miserable, and #2 I was sick as a dog. Ok I don't get that cliche since my dog is happy even when she feels bad but I had zero energy and it was hard enough to leave my bed, never mind the house to go for a long bicycle ride. So I chose this weekend as it's a few weeks before my first hard test of the year - the Michaux Endurance race.

In previous years I've been part of a group that rallied together to go to some nicer weather regions and get some miles in as a collective and supportive unit. Blacksburg VA was one year, State College PA was another, and Flemington NJ was the last. Each year it seems to be ranging closer to home with more riders having family obligations and really not able to pull the trigger and get away. As I get older and more responsible I face the same dilemma, and it's really a good one to have. So I didn't get to go ride in AZ or FL and get a sunburn on my training camp weekend, but I'll make the best of what ever I can put together and help prep myself for a hard season ahead.

This weekend started out with a 2.5 hour ride Friday, a 7 hour century+ ride Saturday, a 4+ hour ride today and a 2 hour ride tomorrow. Each of the days searching out some nice steady hills to get the body ready for long days in the saddle and some tough consecutive days as well. Friday was a nice loop around my local area that included a few moderate hills. I felt pretty good but definitely reminded myself that there were a lot of miles to go this weekend. Saturday was the century ride so I aimed for the Tour de Lake race loop and then more. The TDL loop is 40 miles with some extensive climbing, and I know it pretty well. The day would prove to be warmer then Friday but only in theory it seemed. It was like the arctic tundra riding around Lake Hopatcong. It was frigid. The sun tried to fool you by looking warm, but the high winds coming off the lake said otherwise. It was great to get that loop over and then run for cover in some of the other areas that made better use of the sunshine. Today, Sunday, was another good few hours in the saddle and a test of how the legs felt after a 7 hour ride the previous day. They felt better than expected. A little tired here or there but when I needed them to punch of something steep they answered. Power was pretty steady and generally felt pretty good. The weather was more pleasant today too with warmer temps - warmer than any of the previous few days - but some mysterious rain showers that were not forecasted as well. They were just showers thankfully, so they just dissipated and moved on.

In general I'd call the weekend a success. I got to do a lot of great riding, and ride with a few teammates that I haven't seen in a while. Most of this winter I've been suffering alone, and it was great to torture - I mean ride with some others with similar goals. That alone was worth it. So even though I wasn't riding somewhere exotic, I got to do my riding and see my wife and dog which is great to come home too after putting so much physical stress on my body.

Also an update as today being day #8 of no crap in my diet. It's generally going well. I've been avoiding sugary drinks, and all the cookies and sweets that I normally consumed during the winter. It's been hard - but I can see the end goal. The winter is always hard as I think humans in general put on some extra pounds, but it's how you respond to it that makes the difference. I'm not putting up with this and by honing my diet it'll get me to where I want to be performance wise and weight wise. As of today I've lost 4 pounds or so and getting closer to the 160's again which I haven't seen since November. I'm dealing with the wonky feelings that come with kicking sugar and it can be rough but knowing that I'm cleansing my body and dropping the weight helps give me motivation to keep going. The biggest marker is hitting the scale each morning. That's what really keeps me in check when I have those hunger cravings.

Now don't get me wrong I'm not doing some anorexic diet, I'm substituting my normal cravings with smarter, healthier choices that serve more of a purpose than feeding my sugar cravings. The more I get away from sugar the easier it is. Hell yes do I want to make a batch of brownies or cookies and eat the whole thing. But that's not what is going to help me in the long run. Cleaner, more nutritious, and more variety is what I'm going for to make it a sustainable habit and I'll see where it goes from here. The goal would to be mid to low 160's by my first big race the 6 hours of Warrior Creek in April. We'll see...

Monday, March 2, 2015

I've Declared the Winter Officially Over...

As of March 1st the winter is over. I don't care what the calendar says or some stupid groundhog, it's done. It's probably more because of the face that I've been so busy this past winter that it's been really hard to stay on top of riding and preparing to race. December through February I've been preoccupied with coaching my high school ski team and it takes soooo much time and effort. I love it. It's something different and the kids really enjoy it. Plus I get to enjoy a lot of days on snow each winter. This was year 3 of coaching and I still can't seem to get the hang of riding and skiing through the winter. I've been left with the thought of consoling myself with the idea that I am still keeping in shape while skiing, even though it leaves less time to ride. That sounds good until I ride and can definitely feel my fitness lagging a bit - even if it's only a bit. But then, even if there was no ski team I think my riding would slow a bit just because of the whole daylight savings time. I think it effects more than most but it's just hard to stay motivated this time of year with less daylight and the cold temperatures. The best we can do is just endure and take advantage of the better condition when they come...any they are just about here.

I have a full schedule on the calendar and a few of the early season races to kick me into high gear so to speak. Once I feel the tension of race pace it usually helps to springboard me back into some fitness and better racing form. At least the good part, if there is a good part of gaining weight, is that even though I didn't watch my nutrition too closely, that it plateau'd and didn't really get ugly. With that being said - it's just not acceptable to be at my current weight and thinking of maintaining this AND having a great race season. Last season I raced in between 162-167 with pretty good results, although I knew they could be better. I had a few good race seasons racing at 155-157 and wondered what it would be like to get back to that. Well it's time. With the help of a buddy we talked a lot about March being the month to really focus on getting in shape and also testing our bodies out a bit.

So as of March 1st I've agreed to cut the crap out of my diet and aim for that 157 race weight. If I can maintain that this season, it would really help me get to the form I know I can have and hopefully piece together my season with some better finishes this year. I want all the pieces to come together. New coach, light weight, good training, and a desire to hurt myself could help put me in the place I want to be at some of my favorite races. I'm gonna give it my best shot.

Today it's day 2 of no crap. This means no chocolate that I love, no cookies, no refined sugars, just good natural foods. I've already gotten rid of soda - 2 months with none is a great start. So why not cut the rest of the junk. I've done this plenty of times before and it really does help once I get over the first couple wonky days. It's good to test the body and see how it reacts. When I sit down and really think of some of the foods that I eat, it's not horrible but it could definitely be better. That's the main point. I don't want to eat less, I just want to eat the right foods. So this means stocking up on the good stuff. Lots of chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, fruits and veggies. I'm also trying to limit the amount of cheese I eat too as that's always been a staple of my diet but that's got to go as well. I won't say I'll stop eating it altogether but limiting it will be a big plus. It's all part of the master plan.

The start of my race schedule will begin sooner than I can really fathom at this point. The next few weekends I'll probably jump in a few crits or short track races to feel out the legs and then use the 4 hour Michaux race to help prep me for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. All of this will be preceded by the big weekend that I am setting up for myself this coming weekend. I wasn't able to get my training camp weekend done in February since I was sick so now this is the next best thing. Plus the weather will be MUCH better. I can't wait. Time to catch up a bit and look forward to those longer days and lots more daylight.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Welcome to being Fat...

Feb 7th was Marty's Fat 50 race in Morristown NJ. Originally meant to be a 50 mile race, this course had to be shortened with the recent snowfall that buried the entire course. There were sections of the course that had 1-2 feet of fresh snow on it that left untouched would have made for an unrideable course. Thankfully for the riders, someone broke through with a snowmobile and packed down 80% of the now 50K course and made conditions MUCH nicer.

At this point I should probably mention that for this race, I had just received my fatbike a week prior. My Mukluk was picked up the previous Friday and with a few miles on it I thought it would be fun to see what happened for this 50K race. This was literally my 4th day on this bike and the setup seemed dialed and all I had to do was pedal and go right? ...right. I wasn't exactly sure what pressures to run since I had very little time on it and didn't even have a working gauge to set my pressure anyway. So I was running a bit blind but I'm ok with a little mystery now and then.

This off season has been crazy as usual with my ski team coaching, which leaves narrow windows for training. I always need a few early season kicks in the pants to get me motivated so I figure this was probably a good one. With no expectations except for finishing this race I set out with 44 others and hit the trails. The snow was packed but pocked full of holes from the hikers and dog walkers in the first few miles. This was fine and it kept things interesting until the first big road section. I was in the lead group of about 10 riders up to this point. On the road everyone was still in sight but the next loose climb was looming ahead. It was good and fairly rideable but a few sections were torn up and a quick hike had you jumping back on the bike to ride again. At one point I was having a hard time climbing and had to stop and adjust my tire pressure. It was just way too high and this let one rider pass through. The one section I was dreading was the railbed that was a mile or two before the half way - turnaround point. I descended to the railbed and started to make up some time on the rider that had passed me in the previous section of trails. I thought for sure I could put down some power and get back to him but to no avail. The previous tires had started to punch through the snowmobile tread making a 4" wide tire track that was like riding a balance beam. One wrong move and you were off, stopped, and had to start riding all over again. This was not pleasing.

So after 2 miles of this we reach the steep hike a bike and I see the rider that was in front of me crawling to the top as I start up the bottom. He wasn't too far ahead. Actually at this point the leaders should have been at the turnaround point so every minute I didn't see them was good as they would be coming right back past me. I got to the top and headed the last mile to the turnaround and saw the leaders coming back. They weren't too far ahead but definitely had a 5+ minute gap on me. I got to the turnaround and said hi and started on my way back. I was just over 2 hours in and the trail back to the start were more downhill than on the way out so it should be quicker. I headed out happy knowing this.

Then reality sunk in. That horrible rail trail was even more horrible now. The rut that the tires were creating was deeper, looser, and more tricky to ride. I was so frustrated that the course had deteriorated that I had to tell myself to relax and enjoy the ride. The meaning of this "race" was a good early season effort to help springboard training. That's all it was and that's how I had to treat it. The conditions were so bad that it crossed my mind many times that it would be so tempting to take the road back, but I couldn't. I will not let a race course beat me. I will do whatever it takes to get to the finish line. If that means carrying my bike the entire way so be it. So I kept on pedaling in misery and just wanting to get to the finish line. At least the rest of the trails would be even more packed down and the ride back should be quicker. It couldn't really be that bad could it???

Yep it could. The rest of the trails on the ride home were now not even packed down any more. They were all blown apart by the racers that couldn't ride the trails. The snow was so dry and powdery that if you stepped on the packed snow it didn't support the weight and broke apart the nice groove that was worn in. So that gave me the new fun part. Walking downhills...yup. That was killing me. At that point I knew it was just going to be a nice stroll in the woods walking my bike down the tranquil snowy path. I sure couldn't ride it so why bother. It was just futile. I was so frustrated that all I wanted to do was ride my bike and I couldn't. All I could do was keep walking with the bike - so that's what I did. I didn't care about the race, I didn't care about anything else but eeking my way to the finish so I could end the misery.

Finally back to the road section I was approaching patriots path towards the Lewis Morris section. That was well worn in and would be a nice section where I could actually pedal back to the finish and make some time. Well yes and no. Some parts were great and others had deteriorated again so that there was only that 4" wide tire print to ride in. I was so sick of seeing that rut that I'll probably be having nightmares of that for weeks. Through the last few road crossings I finally approached the river and knew that around the last bend would be the finish line. I crossed, threw my bike on the car, and was ready to get out of there. I was so done with this event. Frustrated to say the least but at the very least it was good training. Had this been an A race of mine I would have been REALLY upset. But it was training.

Looking back it was a well run event. Marty's did an amazing just setting up, supporting, marking trails, and having a killer vibe. It really was top notch from everything they had control over. Mother nature on the other hand decided to put her two cents in and really make it miserable for everyone out there. I give a lot of credit for those that perservered through the conditions and somehow found a way to enjoy the race. As for the rest of us out there suffering, it's just another day to either put in the memory bank or push it out and move on. Bike racing is a crazy thing. We all know that sometimes a given race won't be as advertised, but you need to make the best of it.

I found out later that 21 of the 44 starters finished. I was 7th overall and pretty happy with that given how much I pushed my bike that day.

Back again! Fall Updates

The last update was! I guess I've been busier or at least lazier the past few months. I was recently reminded that some people actually do enjoy reading this blog so that gave me the motivation to come back and do some more recapping and try to stay more current with the season behind and look ahead as well. Thanks Norm for the reminder and I hope I can entertain you with some of the madness that goes on or goes through my head. Anyway I have to see where I left off.

In a nutshell the fall was good and ok. When I last posted I was looking forward to the cross season ahead and I had a few longer MTB races up my sleeve as well. Crossnado, Cxmeur, SCCX, VT50, Grapes of Wrath, Wilkes 100k, and the 6 Hours of Cathedral Pines were all lined up for a good season end. The problem, like I mentioned earlier is that since I had surgery I felt like I was just behind in training. I put on a few pounds and I never really felt like I was riding well. This beat me up mentally as I just knew there was more in the tank but just couldn't put it all together. CX was good as I could still put together short hard efforts, but it's hard to mix that with my heart in the endurance game. Those two disciplines are just really hard to bounce back and forth between. My sights were set on the long MTB game and if the cx efforts suffered so be it.

Crossnado, CXmeur and SSCX all went reasonably well. Actually better than I thought they would go. Considering I had very little CX prep leading into the races I was pleasantly surprised with how I did. 9th of 14 at CXmeur, 7th of 10 at Crossnado, and 12th of 19 at SCCX. The first two I was putting down a good effort I just wasn't in cross form. The mindset was good as I tracked down people throughout the races, I was just too heavy and too out of practice to do much better. I knew I could have had much better placings if I actually focused on the CX game.

For the MTB game, I was much more focused but still not at the race weight I wanted which always left me wondering what if I was really in top form. The VT50 was going well and I had fun but that race just drains the energy out of you. Put that together with a bad run a single 36 tooth 1x10 setup was a total mistake. That gear was so rough, I had to walk a few of the uphills and really started to drain me towards the end of the race. That upsetted me as early on I knew that would play a major factor in the outcome of the race. I still finished well but not as well as I could have. 23rd of 65 in my age group and 60th overall.

The Grapes of Wrath race was a battle of attrition. Upon arriving at the venue it was already pouring for the last couple of days and I knew it would be horrendous conditions. I decided to give it a go anyway. It was a 6 lap race, with each lap consisting of 3 smaller loops. So by completing 18 loops you would finish the race. This was absolutely grueling. Each loop started with a steep climb that would just shred your legs apart all day long. Like I said before it was wet and greasy everywhere else. On a dry day this place would be pretty techy in spots, but then at the grease on top of it and it made for a super hard course to ride. Off the parade lap at the start I took off and put my head down to see who would chase and come with me. I could see a few others at the top of the first lap pretty close and I needed to keep the pressure on. I rode steady and consistent and didn't look back. Towards the end of the first lap I couldn't see anyone but I could still hear the clanging of bikes on rocks so whether it was myself playing games or someone not too far away, I didn't want to worry. I kept my head down and kept pushing myself harder and harder. 3+ hours later I came across the finish line and never saw another soul near me for the entire race. I had won it. It was a great feeling of accomplishment and a very proud moment as I sat on the finish line and it was a while until the next rider came through. I found out later that I was the only rider to have finished 6 laps. Everyone else either quit or had a mechanical. That blew my mind...and made me ever more proud of what I had just accomplished.

The Wilkes 100k was a great excursion as I traveled down to Wilkesboro NC with a teammate of mine - Tom Kruse - and we geared up for the event. It was on some of the trails that I know very well in the Warrior Creek section of Wilkesboro. It also traverses the nearby Dark Mountain trails and would prove to be a demanding day. The start was crazy cold. It was below freezing at the start but we knew it would be close to 60 by race end. That's not exactly the ideal situation that you want to race in but we made the best of it. From the neutral rollout it was clear that an early jump would be very beneficial to whoever got in the mix. Tom and I had a plan to go for the holeshot and get away clean. We wanted to make the winners pass us and earn it - really we just didn't want to have to wait in line if someone botched the narrow entrance to the trails. So into the final turn that was about a mile before the narrow entrance I punched it and attacked the front of the group. Tom came with me and so did 2 others. I pulled up the hill on the entrance to Bandit's Roost campground and then Tom pulled through. Just before the entrance one of the other guys jumped ahead so we hit the narrow entrance #2 and #3. That was just as it had been planned. I felt good going through the system but then started to feel a bit wonky going up Dark Mountain. It was steep and relentless. I didn't know what the issue was but my legs just didn't seem to have the juice to really lay down the pressure. At this point I was sitting 8th or so. So I dialed it back and just tried to keep the lead I had built up if any. I knew riders were close behind. Back through the OVT up the paved climb on the backside I tried not to die. It was steeeeeeep. I was on the verge on cramping but I made it work and headed down the backside only to cramp on the next steep singletrack up. Ouch. I still had another 15 miles to go and my legs were falling off. I pushed as hard as I could and enjoyed riding the WC loop backwards from all the other times I had ridden it. Finally I got to the finish line to cross in 6th place open men and 11th place overall. That was satisfying to finish that well but again knowing that if I was a bit stronger then I would have placed a few spots better.

The 6 Hours of Cathedral Pines is a great race. Plain and simple. The issue with this one is it's usually the last race in a loooooong season. So who knows how this one will end up. It started out super cold and it was hard to figure out just how to layer with the temps getting slightly warmer. The previous year that I did this race I finished well but had no power for the last 2 laps or so. I really suffered. For this race I concentrated on putting down a solid race and not falling flat the last 2 laps. I did pull a really dumb move but it worked in my favor for a bit. I was second into the singletrack after the long drag race to the woods and took advantage of an early mishap. The rider directly behind me tagged a tree and I heard some commotion behind me. I took this as a sign to attack and take advantage of a gap. The rider in front of me was a team rider and I just stuck to his wheel and we killed the first lap. He pulled away towards the end of the first lap and it was me leading the solos into the second lap. I kept is steady but heard the train of riders steadily approaching. 3rd lap early on I was passed by 2 riders that were moving fast and charging through. I knew I had no hope of keeping their pace for long but I rode the rest of that lap with them in my sights. The remainder of the laps I rode steady exchanging places with another rider. We were both riding the same pace and I knew that a mistake here or there would be the difference between us. On the last lap he bobbled behind and I lifted the pace and was able to stay just enough ahead of him so he couldn't sneak past me. I finished up satisfied with a hard workout and a race that was pretty consistent as the last laps didn't hurt as much as the previous attempt. All in all a fun race.