Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chequamegon and Trek CXC

5Nines guys patrolling the front

 Chequamegon Fat Tire has been a fickle beast for me in the past.  I try to come in each year with legs primed and it seems the physical part comes through but lady luck and tactics have not.

It turns out this year would be no different.  Despite a shortened course the lead group of men hit the firetower hillclimb about 12 strong.  Jeremiah Bishop had launched his first and only attack of the race a couple miles earlier and was riding off the front over the climb.  I made sure to get into the hill climb section in front and hit the gas.  I wasn’t sure I would be able to catch Jeremiah but I thought it would be a golden opportunity to bridge up and maybe work together.   Each tier of Firetower I could see the gap shrinking and hear the chasers fade away.  About half way up I was confident I could catch Jeremiah and the two of us would have a nice gap.   Over the top I made contact and we bombed the downhill full gas.

Sitting in mid race

At the bottom I pulled through and put in a good pull.  Jeremiah turned to me and muttered something about Cannondale but I think he was more gassed than I had anticipated.  Brian Matter shortly caught us and the three of us headed into the big grassy Birkie Trail hills.  Here it seemed Brian and Jeremiah were content to watch each other and let me ride off the front.  I was trying to meter my effort to save something for the finish but also ride away if it was in the cards.  It was not. 
The lead pack getting whittled down

Sure enough the three of us were caught and swarmed right before the last 2 mile section of trail.  I was able to salvage a very hard earned 6th place finish but of course I was thinking about a little more.  Brian and Jeremiah had a little more left in the tank and rode in for 1st and 2nd.
Coming to the line with Mike Olheiser
Results: http://itiming.com/searchable/index.php?results=cftf2014

The very next weekend I was back at it only this time on skinny knobby tires.  Each year it gets a little easier to make the transition from MTB to cross.

The new Cannondale SuperX’s were in and built up just in time for race day and they were looking sweet!  I had the new bikes out next to the car and had trouble getting my warm up in because of the amount of attention they were getting from people stopping by.  I had to agree with most in that this year we truly have the ultimate setup!

Not only do the new SuperX’s look sweet but Cannondale really nailed the geometry.  They feel stable at speed and still take the tight corners with ease.  I’m riding a 48cm frame and don’t have any issues with toe overlap.

Saturday was the UCI C1 event and I had a top 15 as my goal for the day.  I was a bit bummed to arrive and find that I had drawn the last number (#47) for the start grid.  I was going to have some work to do.

Thankfully I got a great start and was sitting close to 20th after lap one.  From there I was on a mission to smash it….riding 100% effort for as long as I could.   By lap 4 I was sniffing that 15th spot but was totally gassed.  I had to go to maintenance mode for a few laps to recover and save energy for the final push.  With 2 to go there was a group of 3 riders in 14th-16th.  One of us was not getting points.   Then to my surprise Andrew Dillman signaled to the pit that he was thirsty and pitted for a drink(?) with 2 laps remaining!  I sensed my opportunity and attacked.  We never saw him again.  

Craig Ethridge and I locked horns and worked our way past a struggling Brian Matter on the last lap.  Craig held me off in the sprint but we rolled in 13th and 14th.  Welcome to Ranked Rider Land!  Those UCI points are going to come in mighty handy the rest of this year for preferred starting position.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dakota to Ironman

It’s October now and my mountain bike racing season has officially wrapped up for the year.  I think it’s time for a little recap!

Since Ore to Shore I had some great fitness and backed off the training a little bit so I came into races more fresh.  This time of year was meant for business!

Once a year I try to head out west for one race and I decided on the Dakota 5-0 this time around.  The sustained climbing is a welcome change of pace from the fast and tight WORS racing scene and I think I fare a little better at it.  The 5-0 is a great race and runs on one big 50 mile lollypop loop.  There is about 7500’ of climbing so while the distance may be similar to Ore to Shore, winning time is much longer.  Around 3:45 for the winner.

Taking an early lead off the road.  It was a Scalpel kind of course!

I chose to ride with my tall but trusty 36 tooth Wolf Tooth chainring paired with the standard 10-42 XX1 cassette but it would prove tough on the steep grades.  3 bottles shoved in my jersey pockets along with 10-12 Honey Stingers would provide the fuel.   I established a good lead on the opening climb and started to string it out over the next hour.  An overshot corner stole my remote lockout hose about 1 hour in so the ride on my Scalpel was a bit more bumpy than usual but I wasn’t going to let that stand in my way.    

All my food consumed and my fuzzy memory feeding me info I downed the last of my bottles and honey and turned for the finish line with around 10 miles to go (or was it 13?) and an 8 min lead.  

Riding alone all day
It turned out I overshot another corner and was having so much fun I decided to ride another 3 miles of single track!  Thankfully my detour dumped me back out on the race course and I was still able to ride in for 5th place overall and salvage a podium position.

The podium- Left to Right

 Overall a great race scene in Spearfish, SD.  I will be back next year with a little better course map! 

The following weekend I missed out on the WORS race in order to support Heather in her biggest endeavor of 2014: Ironman Wisconsin.  She had a perfect day and didn’t let it go to waste.  The story in numbers:

The start was truly impressive to watch

Swim distance: 2.4 miles
Bike Distance: 112 miles
Run distance: 26.2 miles (marathon)
Total time: 11:24
Avg bike speed: 18.9 mph
Overall placing: 39th (female)
Age group placing: 9th
“Team Heather” T-Shirts printed: 25

I’ve had numerous ex teammates and friends take on the Ironman and I can proudly say Heather has done the best of any of them!

Heather killed the bike leg

One of the only people still running at the end!

Friday, August 15, 2014

State Road Race, Ore to Shore, and Mt Morris

The field going up the climb early in the race

 It seemed ever since WORS Cup I was feeling really outstanding on the bike and I rolled into the Wisconsin State Road Race championships with a little cold but great legs.  I knew the fitness level was very high from the short track race at WORS Cup and was anxious to show it.

This race has always been a tricky one as the team tactics are in full force and last year it seemed I was not allowed into any sort of break.   Sometimes the addition of just one strong teammate can make all the difference.

The peloton rolling by mid race.  I'm tucked in.

With 2 laps to go Isaac and I decided it was time to start whittling down our group and I volunteered to attack first.  On the climb I went to the front and started drilling it and by the top it was down to only 2 other riders.  Two more eventually bridged up later in the lap.  We rotated through while Isaac sat on the chase group.  Then with one to go I rode the climb medium hard...I watch the power meter hover around 400W for the 2 mins or so it took to get up the hill and over the false flat at the top.  It turns out that was enough to get a small gap and, sensing an opportunity, I kept the gas on.  Two seconds became 30 and I felt myself slip into TT mode and go all in.

The last few meters coming up to the finish line!

It was a mental battle with myself those last 20 mins it took to ride the lap solo.  I was fighting off fatigue and muscular calls to let up.  I checked a few times over my shoulder to see the chase group trying to close the gap but they were almost out of sight and I knew my odds were good.  Once I could see the base of the finishing climb I knew that was it.  I still pushed it all the way to the line and it felt great to finally win a race! 

Ore to Shore was the next race on the schedule.  This was a lower priority race on my calendar.  It seems like it’s always pack racing that ends in a sprint finish.  A super fun race to do but it’s one that doesn’t really play to my strengths as a rider.   After a somewhat sketchy and dusty start the lead group was established.  My goal was to save energy for the end and let Cole and Brian attack each other all day.

The lead pack
There were a couple points in the race where I thought Brian, Cole, and I might roll away from everyone but Jordan Wakely was hot on the chase and closed down a lot of gaps.  In the end I had a costly bobble in the very last sandy corner before the pavement.  It came down to a 3 way sprint with Jordan, Tristan, and myself for 3rd-5th and I ended up with the 5th spot.  

After Ore to Shore is was a quick week back at work, cleaning, and wrenching on bikes.  I had a recovery week training wise hoping to roll into Mt Morris with fresh legs.  As it turned out they weren't quite fresh enough to hang with Cole's furious pace at the start.  I was able to hold off Tristan for 3rd in the end though. 

The single track was dry and dusty this year at Mt Morris.

Podium time.  3rd and 5th for the 5-Nines Team!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mid Summer update

Time to get back up to speed on the bike racing happenings of the past couple months!   Lets look at June and July first.  My base training wrapped up at the end of June and to be honest I spent most of the spring and early summer racing on tired legs.  That’s just the way things go with so many races stacked into the year.

Miles of Trials on the Super Six

 It’s always fun when it’s time to back off and finally head into some races with fresh legs and first up was Elite Road Nats.

This was a race I vowed to return to this year and better my showing and tactics.  I had to commit to saving as much energy as possible until that final climb up Mounds Park Rd into the park.  I succeeded in sticking to my plan and avoiding any pitfalls unless you count the rider ahead of me pissing in his chamois on the big descent 10 mins into the race!  That couldn’t have made for a comfortable next 3 hours for him.  For the first few seconds all I could think was “it can’t be raining on a sunny day!”

Front Row start at the top to Blue Mound

 As it turned out the body wasn’t totally recovered yet from my previous block and I found myself in 13th place.   Still not a bad showing and I did the absolute best I could have on that day.  I’ll take it. 

I made sure the Super Six EVO was right at the UCI weight limit.  Of course officials never checked.

 The next weekend it turns out I finally shed my training fatigue in time for the short track race at WORS Cup Pro XCT.  I got a half day’s work in at the office then jumped in the car for Cascade Mountain.  With a 9pm start we were racing under the lights and waiting for the start the mosquitoes were going crazy!  There was also a shirtless guy next to the start chute with a giant glass boot full of beer yelling my name.  Welcome to Wisconsin!  I loved it.   The legs felt great in this one and I was able to get on the podium with a 5th place finish beating some pretty big names in the process.  Maybe my best result to date?  I was pretty stoked. 

Unfortunately with the late night short track race I didn’t sleep well Friday night and my tank was completely empty for the XC race on Saturday.  The XC race was really my main goal so I was bummed to have a flop of a result.  Adjustments will have to be made if the schedule remains the same next year.

Right after WORS Cup Heather and I headed up to Door County for a little vacation and a half ironman event for Heather.   An old running friend and UW-Eau Claire Head Cross Country coach Dan Schwamberger and his wife Marcie joined us for the week in a cabin on Lake Michigan.  Dan and I caught some fish and I persuaded Dan to join me on the Door County Century loop one day.  Despite zero bike miles in his legs he did great and we hit 100 mi with a 19.4 mph average.

Dan doing a little drafting at about mile 60

Recovery ride on Washington Island

Next up a little recap on the State Road race and Ore to Shore!