Sunday, October 30

Vets Park Day 2 - Better

Day 2 started better from the moment I got out of bed. I felt rested and looser. Got to the race in plenty of time for the normal prep. I was feeling much better than yesterday, but still could tell something was off with my power. During the preride my thighs felt heavy on the climb and run up. The rest of the coarse things felt good. The plan going in today was to stay with the leaders and feel out the first two laps. If I was feeling strong the attack was coming on the climb during lap 3. If I could get a gap here there was little time before the Start / Finish to recover and pull me back. The plan didn't get tested. The whistle blew and David Johnson grabbed the whole shot and kept the pressure on. He quickly got a good gap and never looked back. The race was on for the remaining two steps. Osgood, Bailey, Hilditch and I roll through lap 1 together.

Lap 2 Osgood makes the first attempt to pull make Johnson. He attacks past Bailey and puts in a great turn of the pedals, but Simon reacts and brings us back together. All 4 of us hit the climb, then the barriers, but something happens to Bailey and Hilditch? I find myself chasing Osgood and possibly a spot on the wood. I manage to catch John and we start lap 3 together.

Lap 3 I have a small bobble and this is when things head backwards. Going through the 'S' curves, at the start of the lap, I take a tighter line than John and find myself heading for the side of his rear wheel. I have to check my speed and loose momentum at the wrong time. He stands to crest the climb and I am suddenly back 4-5 bike lengths. This gap stays consistent until we hit the back climb and run up. Osgood is stronger and starts gaining ground. I try and bring him back for the next 2 laps, but the gap keeps stretching a little bit each lap.

Lap 6 I'm really starting to feel tired and drained. My lead on Bailey is starting to shrink. The climb and run up are costing me a lot of time. By the time we round the registration area Bailey is on my wheel and makes the pass before we hit the off camber downhill. This is my moment in this race. Osgood is to far to catch. I stick with Bailey all the way to the climb. One corner, two corners, three corners I'm still on his wheel. The climb straightens out and he stands to keep the pressure on. It works and I can't react. He hits the barriers about 10 yds ahead, maybe I can catch? I bury myself up the climb and remount, but have another bobble. I have to get off and run for some momentum and remount. I stand and dig. I round the registration building and hit the last climb with Bailey just getting to the top making the turn. I still feel hope. Maybe he'll was out on the down hill? Nope. Seeing he made it safely to the bottom I felt it was done. I coast down and soft pedal to the finish. 

It was another great race today. I just didn't have enough. There are still 3 CX races to go so the work isn't done. Congratulations to David Johnson for the win. John Osgood and Simon Bailey for two days on the wood. Jim Hilditch for making the jump up. Tom Clark for the ride both days. Teammate Shaun for cheering me on. Brad Lako for also cheering and holding my stuff. Next weekend is Iceman. It's no secret what my goal is, so let's do it!

Vets Park Day 1 - Poor

Poor planning, poor handling and poor motivation. This would sum up my morning and afternoon. I had a 8 a.m. meeting so leaving early wasn't going to happen. I finally rolled out the drive around 9:45 and was on my way. Now I was wondering when the U of M football traffic would come. It did, about 7 miles from the exit. Park the car, get registered and the bell lap is being signalled for the 'B' race. Finished getting dressed and have a lap and a half warm up (not enough). During the preride I wasn't feeling bad, just not snappy and awake. The ride seemed to take effort and I wasn't comfortable, relaxed. Maybe it will clear when the whistle blows? It didn't.

From that whistle until the finish it was poor sailing. I was dead last into the first corner and now had to waste energy, I wasn't feeling, to catch the leaders. Over the first set of barriers my bike hits the first wall and throws my rhythm off. My foot clips the second and luckily I stay up. The bike is down, but now I can't seem to lock my foot in. WTF! We round the tennis courts and head for the 'S' climb. David Johnson goes down and it bottles up for a moment. The leaders have a gap! I was behind Johnson and thought this would be a good spot. He's strong and will pull these guys back. That didn't happen. I sat on too long waiting for him to go. On lap 4 I decided to try and bridge up, but I was to far back. The leaders were riding great and slowing. Way to race guys. Congratulations to Simon on the Win and Johnny O for staying in there.

Today the plan is different. The coarse is different and I hope my body feels different. I'll know in 5 hours.

Sunday, October 23

Mad Anthony - Could I Repeat?

Last year, this race is were my CX season turned around. Racing in the B class, it was my first Cross win. Could I do it again? The race would be 60 minutes vs 45 and with most of the top Tailwind Series guys in the house I had my work cut out. David Johnson was the only one not there. While doing my warm up I noticed Jim Hilditch in the B's, so I was wondering why he moved back down after racing Linden in Masters. Then at staging I saw Simon Bailey was racing up with A's. That left Rob Selle and John Osgood as the ones to watch.

Lap 1 was quick but not blistering. I'm not sure how big the group was but I know we were at least 5 deep. Adam Naish was even in the mix on his rigid mtb. On lap 2 along the grass straight, just after the sandbags, Adam was falling back slightly from the leaders of Selle, Osgood and Auger? I moved around and pulled them back. We all entered the Fort together. While going up the pavers climb, Osgood seemed off. I pulled along side and tried for the pass, but it didn't stick. I got back in line and we finished lap 2, Selle, Osgood, Auger then me.

Lap 3 we are going well and keeping a strong tempo. There's a wait and see feeling until we hit the long asphalt straight. Tom Burke suddenly appears and comes around us? He must have missed his start or had a mechanical. Selle puts in a surge and gets on his wheel. Osgood and I react and make the move. We hit the grass and are heading for the soccer field climb. The pace is still high as we hit the climb, Selle is determined to stay with Burke as long as possible. Osgood weakens on the climb and I make my move around. Now on Selle's wheel I wait to see if he can hold Burke? He begins loosing ground about halfway across the grass ridge towards the river. I'm feeling strong and decide this is it. I need to try and get on Burke's wheel and crack these guys. I put in a surge all the way around the soccer fields, but don't know if I made a gap. As I'm winding through the tape before the moat I hear people cheering Osgood and Selle, I take a quick look and think I have about 5-8 sec. I never look back. I hit the moat and give another surge, tying to maximize my lead before we enter the fort. Once inside I can see my lead is holding and I need to keep the pressure on. Lap 3 is done, know I need to hold on.

Laps 4 and 5 are more like time trials. I manage to catch some A riders on the long grass and asphalt and use them for some relief against the head wind, but I can't get to comfortable because they are still chasing from behind. Once inside the fort on lap 5 I saw my gap had grown. I didn't see anyone come through the tunnel before heading up the pavers climb. Then it happened.....I dropped my chain over the barriers. I tried getting on by hand first, then decided to pedal it on. It seemed like forever before it was fixed and the next climbs was a grind having lost all momentum. Completing the lap I saw Selle and Osgood on the out back. I was getting worried.

Lap 6 and 7 are about holding the lead, trying to ride smart and hit my marks on the coarse. My lines were working great and my handling was feeling very comfortable. Going into the wind on the grass and asphalt I focused on riding a strong tempo without blowing up. Hit the climb spinning and ride across the ridge hard. More tempo until the fort, then ride smooth. It worked out and I held on for 1st. It felt great!

This picture is of the 10-14 Junior racers. They had HEART! Both finished, but I wasn't sure that would be the case. The kid in the red was near tears on the last lap when we saw him on our pre ride. Tom Clark and Rob Selle were great talking to him and offering to help him finish. He managed to do it on his own though. Awsome!

Thanks to everyone for the congratulations. I hope it goes like last year and this is just the beginning. Next week is Vets Park, so we don't have long to wait.

Wednesday, October 19

P2P - A Tough Afternoon

Going into the weekend I had high hopes. I knew the competition would be tough and meeting certain goals would be even tougher. There are different racers and the field is deeper. I had a good pre-ride the day before and slept well, but was missing the overall excitement of race day. I spent the morning in my room, waiting for the rain to end, watching HBO and slowly getting ready for the 12:34 P.M. start. I got on the bike around noon and slowly warmed up. I felt good and was happy with how my legs felt. 12:25 and time to head over for staging. The start time is pushed back 15:00 minutes, so more spinning. Finally get in the shoot and position in the second row behind Rob Selle and next to Tim Collins. Both ride for Main Street Bicycles and consistently finish faster than me, so I figured if I wanted a podium I better stick with them for as long as possible. The whistle blows and so it begins.

Tim has a tough time clipping in and pinches me over, I lose Rob's wheel and get shuffled back slightly. Heading up the cart path I'm about 8-10th and feel relaxed. Only one guy is off the front and nobody is bringing him back. The group is about 6-8 strong and heading for the sand. Moves start quickly on the wider trail, as some guys slow a bit and others position themselves for the single track. I stay with the moves and enter the single track in about 5-6th. The trail is clear of leaves, but it's damp, muddy and slow. You have to work for every pedal stroke. There is little roll and it feels like a false flat. Midway through this section we start catching 30-39 experts and the leaders are able to make a pass that I can't. They slowly pull away and I wounder if I can pull them back.

Climbing out of the valley I have clear trail and try to bridge back. I'm moving well and passing riders about every half mile. Entering the 'Pines' runway I hear a group behind, so I pull over and let them through. It's lead by Tim and is about 5 guys strong. I get on the tail end and stay in line until we reach the 'Climb'. The group gets a small gap, but I stay calm and ride my own pace. I catch by the top and follow Tim across the Start / Finish for the completion of lap 1.

The first 3rd of Lap 2 was spent behind Tim. He was keeping a great pace and I was happy to be holding. He pulled Rob Selle back and they started working together. I stayed 3rd wheel, but this didn't last, once up the valley climb Tim called for me to pull. I told them I'm trying but the pace is high. Rob gives me a slap and it's my turn. I pull until we hit about 2 miles to go. I take a bad line around the S curve sand pit and they pull through. I drop about 8 bike lengths and try to get back. It never happens. Going up the 'Climb' I get within 20 yards of Tim, but can't close the gap. Tim and Rob start lap 3 at 7 seconds ahead.

I realize if I don't catch them quick I'm in trouble. I give chase and dig deep. They are within site, but I still can't close. I hit the sand, the wind hits me and I realize they are pulling away. My legs are losing power and I start wondering about conserving my race. I tell myself that everyone is hurting, keep going, don't stop. I'm singing Rocket Man and trying not to think about what's left. I'm cracking! I'm still catching riders and not getting past, but I feel alone. Through the 'Pine' runway one last time and a rider passes. One more effort as I hold on for a mile. Pop! He's gone. I cross the asphalt and I'm heading for the last 'Climb'. I cramp on the teaser and have to run up. I'm spent and try to get motivated for one last bit of pain. I turn right and instantly find the easiest gear. Only 1/3rd they way up and I can barely pedal. I hit the steeper section and jump off, as I do Mike Seaman passes. I slowly run and try to stay with him. I hold on until 150' from the final descent. He surges ahead, no reaction from me, I just want to finish. I have nothing left. My final lap was a 50:15. 5 minutes slower than lap 2. It cost me 2 places.

This race has always been tough for me. I will keep coming back until I feel I have won. It's more than a result. I don't feel like I have ever had a complete race at Peak 2 Peak. Next up, it's back to Cross and Mad Anthony!

Sunday, October 9

12 Hours of Addison

This weekend was my first 12 hour event. I was part of a 4 man Elite / Open team. The members were myself, Tom (Jeff) Payn, Jay Click and Jim Bonnell. We had a strong team and were hoping for some competition.  Unfortunately that didn't happen. We were the only team in the category! This didn't keep us from riding hard though. We decided on some team goals and internal competition.
  The first goal was 26 laps. The second was how many sub 28:00 laps could each of us complete. I managed the following lap times- 27:46, 27:43, 28:15, XX? forgot to set Garmin, 59:31 for final 2 laps. Jay Click was the victor with at least 4 sub 28:00 laps and one almost broke 47:00 at 47:05! Crazy! I think Jim had the fastest combined night laps though. Tom brought it home with the anchor laps and sealed the 26th lap. It was a fun time and I enjoyed talking with everyone. Thanks to those who came out to say hello. Thanks to Brent for putting these events on. Thanks to Keith and Paint Creek Bicycles for Sponsoring.
  Next year there won't be a 6/12 of Addison, instead it will be a 8 Hour daylight event. Maybe a solo effort will be attempted?
  Next race is Peak 2 Peak. I've done it the past 4 years and haven't had a great race yet. My best finish was a 7th in 09. I'm aiming for wood and won't be happy with anything below 3rd. I know it won't be easy with the talent that shows up, but I have the ability. Let's hope this is the year.

Sunday, October 2

Grampian Challenge

A cold, windy morning is what we had for the first Grampian Challenge start at Addison Oaks. I hadn't ridden since last weeks Rhonde and was feeling tight and tired. I arrived early and breezed through registration, then suited up for a 20-30 minute warm-up. I felt good, but not great. The legs were turning over well, but the power seemed labored. Maybe I just needed some racing motivation to get things going.

I lined up 2nd row behind my teammate Clint Verran. After a quick look around I noticed we had a different group than last weeks Rhonde. Some must be going to the Munson CX, Crybaby or resting up for the Brooksie. Any how, we are off and racing for the next 40'ish miles. The coarse starts on the traditional crosscountry route, but then transfers to 2 track grass after the initial climb. What would become the lead group, is already creating some daylight. Guys are moving forward and back, trying to find there comfort level and a group they can ride with. I manage to exit Addison with a strong group of 6-7. (Adam Naish, Tom Clark, Jim Colflesh, Jim Bonnell and Mike Dega) This group would stay together almost the entire race.

After a short ride down Winkler we turn West on Drahner and start a series of climbs up to Lake George. We can see the lead group and they have about a minute on us already. No big attempt comes to bridge, instead just good tempo and work by 2-3 guys. We make the turn South on Lake George and keep working together. The roads are very wet and muddy, but rolling well. (This is how conditions would be for most of the day.) We turn into the Bald Mountain Trails and some want to be upfront, so we have a bit of bumping and passing. The trail is slick, rooted and slow going. A couple crashes, near crashes and two wheel slides. The group exits the single track together and we are dirt roads again.

Climbing North, up Lake George, Jim Bonnell asks me how I'm doing. "So, so...It comes and goes" I was feeling better, but not great. I wasn't comfortable for sustained periods of time. Mentally I was thinking we have a long race left and will I hold on. Heading towards Markwood I was preparing for the first attack. Markwood is a deceptive climb. It starts of with well packed dirt at a shallow grade then slowly steepens and changes to gravel. About 2/3rds of the way up it's pure gravel and steep. It exits onto Drahner (Grampian Climb) and continues climbing to the highest point in Oakland County. The attack doesn't come? Instead another hard tempo and we hold together. A fast descent and across Lakeville to the Polly Anne Trail.

Once on the Polly Anne, Adam Naish organized a paceline. It wasn't the prettiest thing, but we held it together and made it to Curtis. We are now 20 miles in and things stay the same for the next 15 miles of dirt roads. Each of us takes our turn in the front and on occasion a hard effort gets a small gap, but no one wants to blow the group apart yet. Mile 35 changes that. We are crossing Lakeville Rd and staring up the 'ski hill'.

The 'ski hill' is private property and virgin trail for all. You start by riding through the 500-600 foot parking lot then up single track. This is were my race fell apart. Adam and Tommy were leading us, followed by Jim C, Jim B, 2 guys from O2 then me. We also started catching some 20 mile racers on the climb, which luckily didn't cause any problems for us. All the way up the climb our group was breaking apart and I kept sliding back. I got stuck a couple times. Once by a guy who had tire spin and went down, then again by a slower climber. That's racing, but the gap grew. I could see Adam, Tommy and the two Jims ahead while going down the service road and thought maybe they would regroup and not hammer up Drahner. They turned up Drahner for the last time and I was 20-30 seconds back.

37 miles, 2:18:00 minutes in and one BIG climb left. I saw the group ahead crest Drahner. I could see them making the left hand turn on the descent, but that would be it. I dug deep and tried to catch. I'm coming to the Lake George intersection and can see the volunteer. I'm 150' away when he gives me the big hand to STOP! I break and slow, but thankfully no complete stop. The car passes and I'm back on the gas. Right hand turn into Addison for some added single track.

The trails are slick and my goal is catch who I can. I manage to improve 2 more spots before reaching the finish line.

It was a tough race and I had a great time. The group of guys I was with worked well together and made the day that much more enjoyable. Thanks to Tommy, Adam, Jim, Jim and Mike.

Thanks to those who put on the Grampian and thanks for the glass. Next up is the 12 Hours of Addison Oaks. I've never done a 12 hr. before so let's see what happens. .