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!

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