Saturday, January 31, 2015

Year in review

Well, I am putting the finishing touches on the oaf-est period of my off season after Cyclocross nationals in Austin.  Since I left before the major rains came, I wasn’t fortunate enough to be part of the cancellation/non cancellation of the elite races.  I opted for the 35+ Masters race with the goal of going for a stars and stripes jersey.  In the end a poor start meant that I never made contact with the front group and I had to settle for 9th despite a great ride and some hot lap times.  One thing that race drove home was that I need to devote some specific attention to starts next year.

Here is a look back at 2014 in pictures:

Nothing great is achieved alone and I had a lot of great help along the way

Many miles were logged

Sometimes in sun
 sometimes in rain, sometimes in blowing snow 

Until I wore the tread off my tires

But always aboard some of the most sick and dialed bikes out there

 I rode in the woods

and on the road

and even sometimes indoors

And I raced

In old haunts 

and in new territory

 I raced a lot 

Sometimes I won

Sometimes I lost

I raced with some people I hadn’t yet met

and new friends were made

And sometimes we celebrated

 sometimes more than others 

This year I learned that sometimes it is just as satisfying to watch someone achieve their goal as it is to achieve my own

And I am one hell of a lucky guy

And at the end of the year I was ready for a little nap with the one I love

To be ready to do it all over again next year

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

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!