Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010 Cyclocross National Championships

Last year as I sat in front of my computer watching the elite national championships unfold in Bend, Oregon, I thought to myself "I really want to go to that next year". After a stopover in Columbia this September for lunch with our good friends the Millers, the discussion of feasibility began and, after some good results in Hermann for Dan and I, the appeal grew and grew. I never thought it would actually happen until Lizz gifted me plane tickets for my birthday, thus confirming that the trip which had lingered in my mind for the better part of a year was now a reality. As the oddity of the 2010 season pressed on, Bend sat on the horizon as an incentive to keep pushing through the ups and downs with the promise that if nothing else, a truly memorable experience awaited.

After a lengthy day of travel topped off with a harrowing drive over Mt. Hood, Lizz, Dan, Maggie and I made our way to our modest housing and tried to get as much rest as possible for the seeding time trial the next day. After getting our bikes for the weekend squared away from the kind folks at the Specialized demo trailer (thanks Richard and Rita!), we waited anxiously for our six-ish minutes of pain to determine which row we would start on for the following day. The time trial was reasonably uneventful. A lack of familiarity with both the course and the equipment meant that I was unwilling to take too many risks on the thawing and icy course. Maximum effort with minimal risk was delivered and slotted me right in the middle of the field. With only fifteen or twenty seconds keeping me out of the top 17, I felt satisfied. Dan finished about ten spots ahead of me and we were both set for a fifth and fourth row start, respectively. After the time trial, a preride showcased a truly wonderful and legitimate cross course that had turned into a soupy swamp from the week's snowmelt. The remainder of the day was spent with rest at the forefront. An amazing meal at Jackson's Corner in town and a single sampling of delicious Oregon IPA rounded out the evening.

The next morning we woke to intermittent rain and heavy, wet snow. My apprehension was high as I watched the seemingly unending precipitation. If nothing else, there was little chance of the mud thickening so I felt good about the course conditions if not the atmospheric conditions. By the time we rode to the course, the sun had made a brief appearance for the U23 race but it quickly retreated behind a black cloud as we warmed up on the trainer stage.

The details of the race aren't that important but it went a little like this. I missed my pedal at the start but didn't really mind as we sprinted down the pavement, spraying each other with slush from our wheels onto the grease bog that made up the course. I managed to avoid the multitude of crashes in the opening swamp and stayed steady through the six inch deep lakes by the pits. Grinding through the thick bog thereafter was draining but the following off camber hillside 180 was a great time and put a smile on my face every lap. This led into some greasy twists and turns through the woods and was followed by another extended drag strip of deep mud before a few soupy 180's and a short, grunt run up. A few more grunts and turns and lakes took us across the road and into a soaking wet bowl of zoiza by the Deschutes brewery for the barriers, flyover and stairs. This section was particularly painful and sapped me every lap. I felt good on the first two laps, riding close to or with Dan but had a bit of stomach turning pain on the third lap before finally finding my rhythm again for the last two rounds. I battled it out with small groups of people, eventually finishing 41st overall out of eighty people. Not spectacular numbers wise, but I was right in the middle and on the lead lap. Results aside, I can honestly say I have never had so much fun on a cross bike before. It was like being a kid again playing in the mud for an hour. In reality, the fun is why I do this in the first place and it's refreshingly to have such a memorable reminder after a season of taking things a bit too seriously.



Throughout the race, there was an unending wall of noise and support from every part of the course, delivered from both the fans and the drum corps lining the brewery. As I drilled myself with the knowledge that it was the last cross effort of the year, it was truly inspirational to hear such support from old and new friends in the pits, complete strangers and most importantly of all, from my wife and Maggie who managed to cover an impressive amount of real estate as the race went on. Lizz's tireless support of my somewhat frivolous passion throughout these years has been one of the prime enabling factors and has given me the drive and motivation to finish many a races and make whatever personal improvements I can in between. I can honestly say that I couldn't do it without her and I likely do not express near enough gratitude for her contributions.

With that, the 2010 cross season is in the books. It certainly had its ups and downs for me and an overall odd tone persisted throughout. However, I couldn't imagine a better way to close it out. My enthusiasm for the sport is higher than it's been in years and this weekend cemented it as my most loved of all forms of competitive cycling. The trip wouldn't have been possible without the equipment support from Richard and Rita with the Specialized demo program, I owe them a huge debt of gratitude for the help all weekend as they juggled the needs of pros and amateurs alike. Lastly, being able to share the experience with great friends and my amazing wife was the icing on the cake and made the whole thing much more than a simple bike race. Who knows what the future holds for forthcoming seasons, but to end 2010 on such a high is truly magical and reminds me of how lucky I am to have everything that I have in my life. Until next time...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Superprestige Gieten 2010

Spanish Lake


It's hard to really recount the race from this past weekend at Spanish Lake. It rained a lot the week before, but given fact that the ground has been concrete for the last three months, there was little chance that the course would qualify as muddy. Instead, it was simply the energy sponge I remember so well from last year. Additionally, the course featured primarily long soft drags that would require immense power, something I seem to be lacking at the moment.

I had a bad start and managed to get behind some people who nearly came to a stop on the course's initial chicane, allowing a small gap to those up front with energy to burn. With the nature of the course there was no chance for me to wind it up and get back on the wheel. Instead, a slow painful grind for 60 minutes began where I found myself passing some people, but mostly going backwards from those in front as the gaps opened more and more. I botched a remount on the second lap, slid out somewhere in the middle of the race and mostly felt deep in the red the whole time. Overall, it was a disappointment given the fact that I know that I had some good fitness just two weeks prior and that it would be the last race before flying to Bend. I recognize that there are good days and bad days, but two bad days for the last two Bubba races of the season was certainly less than ideal. Hopefully some rest will bring things around a bit, but I plan to simply enjoy the experience that lies ahead and soak up everything about cross that I love in the process.


Looking back, there are some things I could have done differently throughout the season, but I can feel satisfied overall with some standout rides on a personal level despite some occasional bad luck and bad legs mixed in. This season felt even stranger than last with the rush to pack up and leave each race accelerated even more so with the 3pm start time. Adding in the fact that all of my teammates either never showed up or didn't seem to care made for an emotional non-starter. No banter at the shop the day after the race or shared enthusiasm leading up to each event definitely made it all seem like I was perpetually waiting for it to get started. Regardless, this season saw a marked improvement for me (last two weeks notwithstanding) and I've managed to solidify some quality friendships along the way. It's probably time to accept the fact that 2008 will likely not repeat itself and to just take each year for what it is.

I've decided to take a week off and not travel, with the hopes that some rest will bring back some legs for Bend in two weeks. Whatever happens there, it promises to be a great time in a new place with some very good friends. I won't be going to the MO state race for the first time since I started racing cross (thanks KC) so I just have to hope that the enjoyment that awaits in the northwest will provide the positivity to carry me through to next year. In the end, it's only bike racing and there are surely many more important things in life. I aim to take all of those in and milk everything I can out of the chances that I am given.

Major congratulations to my good friend Dan Miller on his dominating season and overall win in the Bubba Cup. It's truly deserved and it makes me very happy that it went to such a quality individual. Thanks to anyone who reads and let's all close out 2010 in whatever manner brings the most satisfaction. Cheers.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mt. Pleasant

There's not much to say about this last weekend's torture fest on a vertical hillside in Augusta. I felt horrible and knew directly off the line that it was going to be a bad day. Absolutely redlined from start to finish and going backwards the whole time. After three laps, I knew the only thing I could hope for would be a finish and the only reason that happened was a lack of desire to quit in front of the many people screaming at me from the patio. However, I can honestly say that I've never felt worse on a bike or wanted to quit a race more. But I didn't, so I guess that's something. Luckily my buddy Dan made everyone look silly again and now has the overall lead in the points. It couldn't happen to a better guy and I hope he holds it through next week's Bubba finale. As for myself, I'm hoping this was a fluke and that I can refind my fitness for the remaining three races of the season. I hope we don't race at Mt. Pleasant next year...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Concordia Seminary and Suson Park double header

This past weekend provided the opportunity to double up and get a couple of races in to try and regain the rhythm for the remainder of the season. WIth Saturday's race a block from the shop, I managed to convince the powers that be that rolling down the street to pummel myself was a good way to spend the last three hours of my workday. And a pummeling it was.

The race started well, I was where I wanted to be. The sweeping left off the start toward the barriers had me in the top six, but I gracefully kicked my pedal backward while running the barriers to derail my chain, a skill I picked up in the sandpit at Louisville.
Somehow, I recovered relatively quickly from that blunder and dangled from the back of the leaders for a few laps before a couple of major impacts to my tires led me to believe I had both pinch flatted my rear tire and cracked the shop demo wheels. Luckily, I had done neither, but the excessively low pressure coupled with the tall knobs of the Rhinos had me riding with minimal confidence through the corners and all the rough terrain, which was plentiful. While the course layout was spectacular, the absence of rain over the last few months has led to bone dry ground that serves as a jackhammer to those of us that try to ride 32c tires across it. No matter, the course was a great deal of fun and I fought a last half of the race battle with Paul Quindry and Kurt Fletcher until I hit the wall on the last lap and hung on for 8th.
Lessons learned from the race: 1. Airing tubulars up in the morning to your desired pressure doesn't mean they will have the same psi come 3 o'clock start. 2.It is important to preride reasonably fast in order to feel this phenomena 3. No matter how cool one might feel with Zipps and Dugast Rhinos, they aren't necessarily the right tool for every job.

With these factors in mind, I got to Suson Park extra early on Sunday for a proper course inspection to help with equipment selection. After a few laps, I settled on box section wheels to cope with the jarring potholes and prepared to see what I had left after the previous day.
I followed a few bad wheels early on allowing unwanted gaps to form and after some attacking and counter attacking from our chase group, found myself in a group of three with Bob Arnold and Stroot fighting it out for sixth place. We traded pulls well and headed into the second last lap with me leading down the fast hill. Despite telling myself every lap to be conservative through the corner at the bottom of the hill, I threw common sense out the window and hit the corner, and immediately after, the ground, very hard and had to baby my bike around the course to the pits. I lost my group in this moment of foolishness and had a few others pass as well before lap's end. I finished the race on the single speed in 10th. I was a bit frustrated afterwards, but remained calm and satisfied with both how I raced and another top ten finish. Regardless, another rock star course was there for my enjoyment and plenty of good friends provided support throughout the race.

Race result aside, subsequent days have reiterated to me that bike racing is a trivial part of life and there are far more important considerations than how one places in a riding around in grass contest. Positive thoughts to those with legitimate issues and losses, I can't imagine the strength you guys manage to find. You know who you are.

Next weekend is being help at Mt Pleasant winery, home of the most life sucking course I've done. Hopefully, the fine fellows who set these things up can figure out a way to provide marginally less torture, but even if they don't, it promises to be another week of CX good times.


Thanks to Mike Dawson and Dennis Fickinger for photos.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Superprestige Hamme-Zogge 2010





CX 2010- The story so far

For the two or three of you that read this blog, you may have noticed that race updates have been all but absent this season. For one reason or another, the desire is simply not there. Between two jobs, school and a bicycle tech column over at Examiner.com, I have had little energy to relate my weekly exploits in the pain cave on this blog. However, with a month to go in CX season, I figured I might give a brief synopsis of what has happened so far and hopefully get some motivation to recount each successive race from here on out. While I have no doubt that the exploits of a middling midwest A racer are of little interest to anyone other than the middling A racer in question, I might as well lay it out there for anyone who might want to read it.

The season started great with a win in the Hermann night race. I felt amazing and everything together for what I feel was my best race ever. The training I had done beforehand was consistent and targeted and yielded positive results. I was very enthusiastic for the season ahead after a lack of mountain bike racing over the summer. Game on.

After a two week break, I got a bit sidetracked by the Burning at the Bluff where my single speed team with Dave and Christopher fought a yo-yo'ing battle with Team Seagal and GORC to ultimately take home the coveted belt buckle and my first win in the event which has brought me so much pain in years past. It was an incredibly satisfying team effort and I feel lucky to get to wear my trophy each day thereafter.

The following week was spent recovering from the physical destruction of a cumulative 65 mile of rolling Ozark singletrack and no real workouts to speak of, just rolling around trying to get the legs ready for the opening Bubba weekend double header. With the A race night starts at 10pm, I opted for the singlespeed race on Saturday, again with Dave and Christopher. We drilled the pace early on and eventually got a group of three clear with Dave, Anthony Dust and myself. It felt as if we were going extremely fast and everything felt good, even if Dave's pulls were putting the screws to me. Things were going well and I was planning an attack toward the end of the last lap when I rolled my rear tire in a corner and had to settle for third. The following day, I had a rough start but was clawing my way toward the chase group when I rolled another tire when remounting. As it was my birthday and I had rolled a tire the night before, I got a bit upset and walked off. Some good friends put a spare on my bike and after some pouting, I rolled around and finished. Closer inspection of the two rolled tires showed a strange sight of paper thin glue hovering over the rim, but not connected to the tire or rim bed. I don't know the cause, but since it was the first time this had ever happened to me or any of the wheels I glued, I'll put it down to a fluke. Lessons in composure learned, it was time to step up to the big time in Louisville.

Louisville went reasonably well, I rode the hardest course I have ever done and moved up 88 spots on day one and 87 spots on day two. I felt like I had great legs on day two and had a much better start than the first day, but a series of mishaps set me back. No one likes an excuse saturated bike racer, so I will say that I had a blast and it was a weekend to remember racing and helping the CalGiant team in the pits.

The last race I did before our annual shop mountain bike trip was a night race at Creve Couer. I decided to race the A's despite the late start and prepared well with lots of preride and a good, solid warm up. I felt strong and smooth throughout the race and had a nice battle with Scott to eventually take 7th, my first top ten in a local A race. The beach section was great and the course had flow all over the place. I still need to find a little something extra to stay with the leaders the whole race, but I know I'm not far off and feel positive and motivated to get there. This season feels much better than last and with a trip to Bend for Nationals on the way, I am putting my head down to do the best I can, plentiful obligations aside.

So there it is, maybe there will be more blow by blow recaps after this, maybe not. Either way, that is the story so far. Pictures to follow, depending on motivation levels. Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jaarmarktcross Niel 2010

This was a mudbath for the ages. Enjoy.




Saturday, October 30, 2010

I rode the runup at the Louisville USGP

Starting 127th dpesn't make for spectacular placing, no matter how far you move up. Thus, one must look for the minor victories. Here's mine.

Pilzn World Cup 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hermann Night Cross

The cyclocross season is underway (sort of) here in Missouri and this past weekend kicked it off with arguably the best race all year, Hermann night cross. The plan for this year's event was a two day affair with the traditional night race Saturday night and a day race the following Sunday. I had started my cross preparation a few weeks earlier than last year to avoid the physical agony I experienced in 2009 and to satiate my legs that have been under raced all year. I showed up not knowing how it would go, but had felt pretty good at cross practice the preceding Tuesday so I was ready to have a good time.

We lined up for a pavement drag race, somewhat uncommon around here, with close to thirty cat 3's. The siren blared as we took off down the road and into a stretch of carving chicanes before a 180 that led to a few long grassy drags before the infamous stair climb. I started reasonably well, around 8th wheel heading into the grass. A few bobbles by some riders in front of me put me into the top six and I started to reassess my goal of a top ten into a top five. After the stair climb and sand pit, I worked my way to fifth and eventually fought my way around to fourth. I was hanging on to Scooter, waiting for the other shoe to drop and my legs to give in, but I continued to feel good. As a gap opened a bit to second wheel, I pulled through and closed it before setting off in pursuit of Schilling, who had gapped the field, through the start finish of the third lap. We climbed the stairs together and I thought it best to take my own line through the sand which put me in front. There were numerous twists and turns after the sand which I could take a clean line through, eventually providing me with a reasonable gap at lap's end. I was a little skeptical about being in front for the remaining five laps, but I felt better than I had in years and just decided to go for it and see where it ended up. I buried myself on the long straightaways to keep the gap in place, confident that the twisting second half would play to my advantage. The gap grew throughout the rest of the race and I took my first win since 2008. It was all a bit surreal as it happened and I felt as if in a bit of a trance. The course flowed perfectly and I was having an immensely good time on the cross bike again. The support from friends was amazing and I don't think I've enjoyed a race so much in quite a while.

Unfortunately, some torrential storms and subsequent flash floods cancelled day two and ruined the park in the process. It's a shame as the Hermann races are top notch and neither the promoter or those camping deserved that kind of end to the weekend. Hopefully, repairs can be made and we'll be back opening our 2011 account at the same venue.

As for me, I am more excited to race this season than I have been in a long time. Much as I complained about it at the time, I think a lack of MTB season is going to work out well. I am making plans to go to Louisville USGP and Nationals and I have upgraded my license to a Category 2. It feels exceptional to have worked hard enough to have earned that and I really can't wait to see where the season takes me. Here it comes...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Single Speed Midwest World of All Time and Beyond

Success! I completed a mountain bike race for the first time since March! Actually the last two weekends have provided some positive good time competition, one of them went well (and was fun) and the other one was just fun. Let's start with the one that went well.

The New Belgium Urban Assault Ride rolled through town for the second successive year to increased participation and searing heat. Christopher and I had been plotting our domination for 12 full months after he and Margo rocked last year's co-ed class and Lizz and I placed fifth in the same category. We had a strategy, the taper was applied and the pre-race nutrition of fermented juniper and fizzy quinine water was guzzled by the gallon (thanks Dave and Casey!) We showed up bleary eyed but ready for the start, having scored a perfect D+ on our super secret front row earning quiz. The LeMans start was furious and before we knew it, we were knocking down bowling pins at REI, completing brain bending puzzles at Mesa, staddling each other sweatily at Big Shark and drilling paceline style down Delmar for stair sprints up the City Museum. The mayhem ended with a swim at the Holiday Inn and saw us crossing the inflatable obstacled finish line in a dominating display of Urban superiority. The Ranger flowed freely and there was much rejoicing of a lifetime dream finally realized. Lizz and Margo took third in the women's category and we all had something to celebrate. Maybe a little too much, but that Ranger is super tasty.

Fast forward to the following weekend and the Midwest Single Speed Championship. Race summary- I got to my bike quick, did a graceful remount directly onto my top tube (probably need to work that out before cross), rode in fourth for a lap, then fifth, then began crashing a lot. I stopped for a beer after lap 2 and chatted with Dan and Christopher before deciding to finish lap 3 to say I had avoided another DNF. I had a blast and don't care at all where I placed, which was probably poorly considering all the face time I gave the ground and various trees. Maybe I should have ridden Blue Steel a bit more before racing through some tight and twisties, cause it surprisingly rode nothing like my Epic. Go figure. Again, the beer flowed afterward although I kept it in check with a two hour drive ahead of me. DB removed the failures from his new big wheeler (what is the world coming to?), put on a funny outfit, smoke showed everyone else and had many beers after. Riding bikes for fun is fun and I'm glad to see that sentiment shared by good friends. Lets keep this action rolling and remember why we do this in the first place as the months of skinsuits and embrocation come a callin'.



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fizzle

So, the 2010 mountain bike season is largely over and it seems as if I didn't really participate after all. It's a bit strange, as I had put a good amount of effort into my preparation for it over the winter and spring. However, race after race, something occurred to lead to a string of unrealized expectations. I think I had some good fitness in May and was excited to build it into a solid season, but it never got going. Certainly not the biggest deal, but a bit disconcerting mentally. Here's a quick rundown of planned races and the results.

-St Joe. I did the marathon class for training. It was mid March and the race was a total mud pit or "wet but not muddy" depending on interpretation. I did three laps many minutes faster than 2008 and thought that it made for a good training ride. I was placed fifth. Good start, I thought at the time.
-White Lightning XC. Waves of torrential storms led me and my road tripping companions to decide to bag the potential for another weekend of mud bogging.
-Rhett's Run. Five inches of rain in the week before the race led to the worst conditions I have ever ridden in. I was in fifth when I flatted and realized I had left my CO2 inflator on my geared bike. DNF,
-MFXC Non-Race. Had a blast, felt great and won. This bodes well for all the races I'm about to do, I thought.
-Lost Valley Luau. Race promotion made participation impossible. DNS
-Brommelsieck. Flatted in the first five minutes hanging on the back of the lead group. Lost five minutes immediately, chased through the sport field and blew on the fourth lap. DNF
-Sac River. Lack of racing led me to feel that 8 hours in the car was not time well spent after not completing a race in three months.
-Show Me State Games. Rainout, cancelled.
-Spanish Lake. Promoter bailed and told no one. Cancelled.
-Dirt Crit Final. Mysterious cancellation.

So there it is. Who cares really? There are certainly worse things in life and I had a great time riding my bike for fun the entire time. I had a number of great rides throughout the year, including possibly the most beautiful ride of my life in Reno. Good times to be sure. I was successful in finishing the Midwest SIngle Speed Championship today aboard my new steed, Blue Steel, but that report will come after I have managed to find the pictures of me yardsaling on the interwebs tomorrow. Fun times, the only real reason to ride a bike anyway.

So, cross starts in three weeks and I think I might get to do a full season of that. The CX rig is getting a makeover and there is some potentially exciting stuff on the horizon, including a return to part time studies at Meremac. Life is pretty sweet and I don't need an number on my bike to prove it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

2010 MTB season

Despite talk of things getting going and motivation and whatnot, a series of rainouts, Saturday races and ill timed flats have led to the most sparse season of racing in years. Cross is now on the horizon, but with any luck, I'll get to do this a few more times before the skinny knobbies come out to play...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lately

I have not been terribly dilligent in my updates this year. Not a lot of racing so far and a mind blowing level of business at work have left me with only the moptivation to ride and little to record the details for the few readers that I may have. Regardless, May began the slow movement towards a MTB season and as such, I will share what has been going on lately.

May started with a trip to my favorite race, Rhett's Run in Columbia, MO. Typically a phenomenal course with flowing singletrack, steep grunts and some quality features, the course is mmy most loved of the year. This year, however, five inches of rain had descended on Missouri in the preceding weeks, making for the worst conditions I have ever put a knobby into. Talk of the course "draining well" and being "all rock" were quite obvious ploys to drum up attendance for an event that should have certainly been cancelled. I decided not to give Plastic Fantastic a raping on the day and rode the El Mariachi. In SS mode, it was the perfect bike and had me in 5th place for half the race. I even had a good start with the 34-22, something I truly was not expecting. Unfortunately, a lapse in concentration led me to leave my CO2 cannister on the Epic, meaning that when I flatted, I had no way of inflating the tube I remembered. Game over. I shouldn't have gone, it was a truly wasted day and the trail will take a long time to recover from the forced submission it received that day. I will never again listen to reports of amazing trail conditions when common sense dictates otherwise. I allowed my overwhelming desire to race to cloud my judgement, lesson learned.

The following week, Team Seagal hosted a non-race on the Middle fork section of the Ozark trail. Many discount the non-race for its lack of USAcycling points, entry fees and prize money, but any event that requires a group of riders to try and ride a course faster than one another for a trophy is a race in my book and so I went hoping to see where I'm at at this point. We had a lemans start and I got into the woods about sixth or so. My plan for the day was to stay steady, not go too deep at any point and turn the pedals as smoothly as possible for the 36.5 miles of riding in store for me. As we snaked through the beautiful and perfect Ozark singletrack, more and more riders gapped off the back of the line until I found myself alone in pursuit of second and third about 7 miles in. I passed second place at about mile 8 and slowly reeled first place a short while later. I didn't want to make any efforts to pass or attack and stayed about 5-10 seconds off the wheels for a few miles. I knew there was a major gravel climb toward the end of the course and I planned to try something there if we were still together. I also noted that the rider was relying on bottles and I had a 100oz bladder so I knew he would have to stop at some point, where I would not. He stopped at the first water station at mile 16.5 and I pressed on, trying to put some space between us on the first gravel road. Back onto the singletrack, I had a gap and tried to stay steady for the remaining 20 miles. I was loving every minute of the trail and the bike was performing flawlessly, never making me get out of the 42. A steep, muddy climb 3/4 of the way through the second set of singletrack made me go deeper than I wanted and I knew I would pay for that effort. After a brief trip through an overgrown brush tunnel, I was back on gravel for the next 10 miles. An impromptu sprint competition with a snarling Jack Russell burned another match and I knew it was time to keep it steady with fuel coming in for the major climb ahead. I foolishly thought the climb was near the end of the course and as I cramped my way up a mile long wall of leg breaking gravel, I told myself it was almost over. It wasn't. 5 more miles of grinding false flat gravel put me back onto the final 3 miles of singletrack. I had a gap, but I had no idea how much despite at least one hundred looks over my shoulder on the gravel. Every muscle in my legs were cramping and I had to stop for a second to get it together. Chastising myself for weakness, I got back on and plugged away trying to keep the pedals going and yelling at myself not to lose it in the last 2 miles. When I crossed the line in first at 3:24:09, I was absolutely shattered.
Less than a minute later, second place rolled across the line. Despite the non-sanctioned nature of the race, I was extremely proud of my efforts and felt very satisfied with the day. I won the coolest trophy I have ever received and won the most amazing course I have ever raced in Missouri. An amazing day all around and well earned PBR's at the finish were a welcome refreshment.

Now into to June, I am ready to get the ball rolling for real. This year's schedule is peppered with Saturday races, meaning I won't get to do another MTB race until the thee 20th. Unfortunately, I am promoting said race, so it's hard to have any real expectations, but the races come thick and fast afterwards so there is much to be excited about. Hopefully, the fitness stays around or improves and I can have a satisfying run at some XC events before CX starts up in the fall. It seems like it has taken forever, but the ball appears to finally be rolling.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hermann and Kentucky

A number of factors have conspired to derail my planned start to the 2010 racing season. First among them being a profound lack of self confidence leading me to skip the Hermann road race in favor of more mountain bike training and the second being the first wave of thunderstorms to eliminate racing at Kentucky Lake. Maybe I'll race in May, or not... at least there's the Tuesday nights. I could make a whole season out of that, but it might be a bit redundant. Sigh....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

St. Joe

So it seems as if mountain bike season got started over the past weekend down at St. Joe state park in Farmington, MO. I've taken a bit more measured approach to this year's preparation and had no plans of pinning a number on until mid to late April. However, the itch has been prevalent and I decided that an early season endurance race might serve me well in the coming months. With this in mind and a message board report that the trail was "wet with virtually no mud", I decided to go for it. Waking to temperatures in the mid forties and a light drizzle, it's safe to say I would have probably stayed inside had it not been for the racing.

The racing was really an excuse for a long-ish training ride with decent intensity. I got into the woods in fifth place and would stay there for the duration of the race. I kept the leaders close for the first half of the race, but had resolved to stay within myself and not push too deep. As I plowed and surfed through the slimy mud bog, I kept steady and completed the three laps I had resolved would be my limit for the day. I tried very hard to go slow enough on the third lap to avoid a fourth, but I finished three laps in 2:38, meaning I would need to complete a fourth. I decided to bag it, cold and tired. I had shaved fifteen minutes off my 2008 time and had remained consistent throughout the race, with none of the physical implosions of the preceding two years. Positive steps, to be sure.

There are signs of life in the legs these days and the volume has been steadily increasing through the last few weeks. As I look to the true start of my season in a few weeks, I am encouraged that things are moving in the right direction, despite the slow start to the year. I plan on starting things off with the Hermann road race and moving into XC mode with the White Lightning race at the Canal Loop in Kentucky. A fresh new piece of dirt worthy plastic (photos pending) has me fired up for trail time and I can't for the season to be in full swing. Here's to a positive and productive 2010...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

GVA Trofee Oostmalle 2010

The final major race of 2009/2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Superprestige Vorselaar 2010

This is by far one of the best races I have ever seen.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Looking Back and Looking Forward

I have a habit of refusing to appreciate the moment that I am currently residing in, instead choosing to romanticize the past and its perceived perfection or looking to the future as some sort of promise for satisfaction. It is a personal habit that I am currently working on, but any type of personality shift takes time to settle in. Regardless of my need to live in the moment, I have decided to put up a short post looking back at my 2009 (in cycling terms at least) and establishing what I want to get out of 2010, a year which may be my last shot at focused competition.

2009 was a good year for me as far as cycling was concerned. Not great necessarily, but solid enough for me to feel that I have made some progress and as long as I develop a touch more focus, should continue to progress in the coming season. I only started racing seriously in 2006, took 2007 casually and then decided I wanted to get fast in 2008, so I have to keep some perspective when lining up next to those who have been at the front of Expert and A races for years. 2008 was about getting my feet wet in the Expert class and 2009 was about progress and closing the gap to the front of the race. Both goals were accomplished, but it is difficult to remain objective when there is still nearly ten minutes to first at the end of the race. I aim to halve that in 2010 and hope that the schedule and program I established this week will help to make that a reality.

I started 2009 with two and a half months of decent base before beginning my season at Lost Valley, a race that I promote, with no intensity to speak of. The drag race down the Hamburg and up the initial climb was a shock to the system, but I hung in and finished ninth. Not spectacular, but good enough to provide some confidence for the season. I then had an extended break from MTB racing due to weather issues and sort of lost focus until May. I was riding plenty, but not really doing anything to improve. I finally rediscovered my motivation after a less than stellar performance at the Rolla Hellbender road race and set about trying to put some energy into the rest of the summer season. I notched up a place every race I did and despite wilting in the heat at St. Joe, knew the legs were on the upswing. A week in Wisconsin at season's mid point provided a solid opportunity to put in some quality saddle time and I came back to town ready to close out the MTB season strong. Rockbridge, Castlewood and Spanish Lake all went well. I felt like I was able to battle with certain members of the Expert class and got the gap under ten minutes by season's end. A couple of fifth place finishes gave me the feeling that I was headed in the right direction. I stopped racing MTB after the first week of August so that I could do some more base in preparation for cross.

During this "base" (basically doing whatever I wanted on a bike), I re-injured my hand and had a hard time riding off road for about month. This kept me from getting accustomed to my cross bike and by the time I hit the Hermann night race, I was flat from a month of non intensity and sloppy with my skills due to limited cross riding. I felt a bit demoralized but resolved to put my head down and get ready for my only goal of the season, a strong ride at state. The next weekend in Carbondale, I placed fifth in the A class which provided me with some retribution despite knowing that factoring in all the people who weren't present would generally leave me just outside the top ten. And so it would prove that week in, week out at the Bubba A series, I was anywhere from 11th to 15th and despite a few good races, was struggling mentally. The first month and a half of the Bubba series was also one of the most stressful periods of my life, but I continued to try and fit the training in around all the chaos. I finally got to put together a few solid, uninterrupted weeks of hard riding toward the end of the season and things clicked for me at the State race with a 2nd place in the threes races. As this race was my only goal of the year, I went out on a high and felt ready to step it up a bit in 2010.

Moving into next year, I have had more time off than previous years, but I don't intend to start racing as early, either. Unfortunately, the MTB calender is a bit more sparse than I'd like, despite the hype of a new and improved series. The return of Saturday races is a blow to us shop employees so I will once again be traveling a bit more in order to race. There is also the likelihood of a few road races and some short tracks, so I am hoping to have enough to stay focused through the year. I plan on shutting the summer season down on August 1 and have an idea about how to better prepare for cross. My sincere hope is that this coming fall will be a bit more serene than last year so I can give cross a proper go. For now, I plan to appreciate the long base miles that make up the next two months, hope to hit trail as much as possible and generally appreciate every moment over the next year. Thanks for reading, those that do, and I hope to see some of you out at the races and on the trail this year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010