Thursday, June 26, 2014

Putting Hay in the Barn

Cresting the switchbacks at CamRock

The summer solstice rolled around the other day which means we are now losing daylight every day.  It’s kind of hard to believe but I think the heat this time of year makes the sun shiny hours a little less appealing… to me at least.  Until September rolls around!

Podium Time

Since my last update I have been working on getting in the base miles and trying to stay fresh for a little racing.  This has been a tough task and I was only able to back off for one race in my back yard.  WORS Camrock.  Here again I came up just short of my first victory with a 2nd place to Wisco Disco Brian Matter.  I was able to hold onto 2nd place for the 3rd year in a row and overall was pretty happy with my ride.

We got half our yearly allowance of mud racing in at Wausau and if you are going to have a rainy race my list of courses that take water very well are:

1. Wausau
2. Green Bay
3. Rhinelander
4. Eau Claire

Generally any course that has a rocky/sandy soil type is going to be OK.  Once you start getting some silts, clays, and organics in there it can turn into a sticky mud bog.

This past weekend Heather and I headed up north to get one big weekend of training in at my folks place just outside of Eau Claire.  Luckily the Sierra Club Century ride is just out the door and I am able to follow the painted arrows almost the entire way.  Here is a little data from my Garmin on how the ride went:

Sunday I had the goal of riding each of the 3 Eau Claire trail systems in one big ride and ended up with 70 miles on the Garmin again in just over 4.5 hours.  Not bad for the mountain bike.  Northwest Park in Eau Claire turned out to be a real surprise and I had the place to myself on a Sunday afternoon.  Cheers to the CORBA crew!

The big weekend left me totally smashed but I am on the mend now and hopefully will come back stronger for the next few big races on the schedule.  Elite Road Nationals is up first at Blue Mound State park where I will get the rare opportunity to put my sustained climbing legs to the test.  Then the next week the WORS Cup Pro XCT is in town at Cascade where I will get to ride against the country’s best mountain bikers here on home soil.  It should be a good one!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spring Training and Racing

The gates dropping on the WI race season
It seemed to be a long time coming but things are finally in full swing on the MTB racing scene.   I got a little later start than planned this year because of an unexpected trip to Florida to say goodbye to my Grandfather and then catching a bug on the way home.  I finally got out on the bikes about 2 weeks later than planned and I knew things were going to be tough that first race.  Especially because I was already planning on a later start to the trainings this year!

Chasing the leaders in 6th spot
 At WORS #1 I managed to limit the damage and hang onto the chase group but lost out on some tactical moves the last lap to roll in 6th.  I was back pounding the pavement right away again afterwards and got some big miles in.  Like 17 hours the week after Iola, ouch!

The 5Nines men get ready hunt up some single track
 WORS #2 came up this past weekend and I knew I would be carrying a good amount of fatigue into the race.  I opted for the full suspension Cannondale Scalpel 29er for the bumpy northwoods course and it was the perfect choice.   While the legs were not awesome, the camaraderie and scenery were.  Special thanks to the Pionteks for being gracious hosts for the weekend.  I even got the VIP tour of Wabeno, WI.  Not to be missed!

The elite men's podium in Rhinelander.  Playing a cool hand in 6th position.
 Now it’s back to the grindstone training wise for me to build myself up to that level of fitness I want for later in the summer.  Thanks to Brian and Momentum Endurance for keeping all things training in perspective and alignment.

Riding up grades in western Dane county

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Year, New Team, New Bikes!

The weather is starting to warm up and the body and mind are starting to move out of winter and into spring.  This week I officially start my 2014 structured training.   Not that I have been doing nothing the past 3 months but things have been unstructured and included some off the bike cross training.

Hiking the Chilean Andes

There are lots of new and exciting things in store for the new year including a new team and sponsors.  With RACC ending their amateur racing team support after for 2014 the opportunity arose to join a new upstart team based right here in Madison.  You can check out all the new sponsors on the right hand column of the blog, needless to say we are working with the best!

If we all learned anything about training from Rocky IV, and I think we did, you need to chop wood to be a champion.

I will also have some seriously fast team mates in Isaac Neff and Amber Markey.  Both have been absolutely tearing it up the past year or more and it will be awesome to join forces.  WORS racing kicks off in a little less than 1 month and I feel like a have a lot of work to do in order to be ready.  The focus again this year will be on the WORS series, elite road nats, and Chequamegon Fat Tire.  I’m sure I will sneak some other fun races in there as well.

Watching some spring classics in the new kit, Cannondale SuperSix, and Sportcrafter's rollers

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Post CX Nats/ Year End

To the surprise of many of my non cycling friends the competitive season does have an end and I have now reached that point!  It’s been two weeks since I got back from Cyclocross nationals in Boulder and the time has been busy and exhausting.  It seems the travel never stops whether it’s racing or catching up with friends.  I believe it’s a good thing though, I want to pack as much as possible into life and wouldn’t have it any other way.

The build up to nationals was better than last year but still not ideal.  It’s been 10+ years since I’ve been really sick.  The kind where you can’t get off the couch and you empty the entire contents of your body… but this fall I had the chance to go through this experience twice!  The last time being the week before nationals.  Not good prep and I think it left me a little low on energy the week I was out west.

Usually altitude does not affect me much, even being a sea level dweller.  I dropped into Boulder about 24 hours before the first race and was feeling good.  The bike got a SS conversion the week before I left with the BEER components eccentric bottom bracket adapter that lets you run a 24mm crank in a 30mm shell.  Pretty nifty.  I opted to go with the XX1 crank I rode for MTB season fitted with a new 38t ring.  38x15 was the ratio, the biggest in the front row.  My philosophy was “crush the open sections and run everything you can’t ride.”  It worked… kind of.  I rode up to 2nd place at one point but the thick mud and my SPD pedals didn’t get along to well.  Between Braden and I whoever got clipped in first in the last couple corners was going to get 2nd.  It was him… by a long shot on the clip in.  I still almost caught up on the last 400m of the course but couldn’t get around him for the sprint.  My goal going out to nats was a podium and I got that so I was pretty pumped.
3 up sprint for 2nd

Then weds night it was a long drive down to CO Springs where the Swanson family was gracious enough to put me up for a few nights.  I got a few chill recovery rides in around the Springs and got a little tour of the SRAM facility with Neil.  I could tell the body was drained though.  I was sleeping 10+ hours at night and still exhausted.  Not a good feeling but I tried to put it out of my mind.

Recovery day outside CO springs

Saturday I toed the line for the Master’s 30-34 race, the last time I will be eligible for this race.  Master’s racing shouldn’t start at 30 anyway!   On the running scene it started at 40 which seems about right to me especially because running careers decline about 5 years before cyclists it seems.  

I got a pretty decent start for me, better than the SS race.  By lap 2 I was up in 3rd leading the charge of the chase group but I think I dug a little too deep with the eyes getting bigger than the legs.  BOOM.  I was done.  Mentally I tried to hang on but the mind was fighting the body the whole way to the line for 8th.

I always kind of figured the elite race was going to be whatever I had left and the answer was “not much.”  38th spot.  Oh well.

Now Heather and I have some traveling to do and some offseason chores to catch up on.  Time to bust out the running shoes and splitting maul to brave the latest polar vortex or whatever they call it these days.
Making some firewood!