Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cashing out my chips!

So as everyone on facebook is aware I crashed out at Dakota 5-0 this last weekend and ended up in the E.R.

So before I go further thanks to all those who sent their support and well wishes for me.

Now as I move forward, I've surveyed the damage from the crash and the quick answer is I'm pretty beat up. Here's the run down:

Separated right shoulder
Bruising to right shoulder
Bruising to ribs on right side
Road rash on back of my right shoulder
Strained (whiplash) to my neck on both sides

Now in the aftermath, the shoulder bruiding and road rash are merely a nuisance. The separated shoulder and bruising to my ribs are much more problematic. The shoulder and ribs may take up to 8 weeks to fully heal. Right now even coughing, sneezing, and laughing hurt and getting out of bed in the morning is a chore. Seriously damage your ribs and see how difficult your life becomes as you use your core constantly. It may be a couple of weeks before I'm back to riding, let alone with any real speed.

That brings me to my decision, I'm done for the season and no cx racing this year. I want to fully recover and let my body heal the way it should. Racing, let alone riding off road places quite a strain on the body. Shouldering a bike, run-ups, and power could be problematic for my shoulder. With the season literally around the corner I see no reason to push to hard or rush to race only to risk further injury.

So instead, i'll be out heckling from the sidelines and taking pictures. Its been a fun season for me and probably one of my best up to now. I'm a little bummed but these things happen and its the risk you take everytime you race a bike. So I'm going to cash this one out and call it a day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Temporary hold

Once in a while you need to take stock of where you are. Sometimes you come to a conclusion your happy with other times, you realize that other choices have to be made. Right now for me I'm very content with my decision and things are progressing in a way which will be in the long run best for my sanity both on and off the bike.

Last year about this time I was racing and training with long miles. There was no summer break for me. Dakota 5-0 was looming, I was excited and enjoying riding. Then after D 5-0 I struggled, the race left me fatigued for a couple weeks. I almost didn't start racing cyclocross. Slowly, steadily I crawled my way back and finished really strong at the end of the CX season and managed to carry it over into the spring this year.

This year, I've felt good ridden strong and been for the most part motivated to race and train. Then in june after Norfolk I took a two week break. I went to the Ponca XC race and didnt' take part. The line of questioning from everyone as to why I wasn't racing was an interesting experience. At the end of the day I stand by that decision as I was totally OK mentally with not racing for a change. Then I went to ABQ and just enjoyed riding. Riding with Becky, riding with friends, and riding by myself. All good times and it reminded me of why I love mountain biking so much. Just like racing, its all about the experience and having fun.

So now July rolls in and so does the hot weather. The Nebraska calendar is light for the next month or so. I toyed with racing the CSG. I've also toyed with the idea of racing the Big Ranch Enduro. But instead I've decided no racing just riding until D 5-0. Now I know I won't have that top end for  D5-0 I might have had last year. But really I'm just doing it for fun anyways. So basically my road and mtb seasons are over. I can't really explain it, its not a mental or physical fatigue issue. Right now I just want to ride my bike and take some photos.

From here on out it'll be more about CX season. For now, I'm taking stock of things, riding my bike, and enjoying it. I've been loggin good summer base miles, my fitness is good. And soon I'll start to ramp things up a bit more. So don't expect that because I'm not racing I won't be around. I'm going to try and pop into some of the races to take photos. And surely I"m still out riding. CX practice will be starting in a few weeks and I'll be out there.

So for now, cheers

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Masters and Horiscopes

So my sign is Cancer...yep i'm one of those July Birthdays. I'm not the only one in the MWCC either, Paul Matthews and Mark Savery are Cancers as well.

So as I approach my birthday which is now just 1 month away (20th), it occurs to me that my racing age is 34 for xc and road this year. However, CX season changes everything. Since racing age is for the following season, my CX racing age is 35 this year. Yep, I'm old enough to race masters. More importantly I can race masters in the other disciplines next year as well.

Now I've been pretty self reflective the last few weeks so conitnuing down that path, I'm recalling getting back into racing after grad school. I was 25, fat and out of shape. Some years later I'm skinny again, and much faster. My asthma is in control (mostly). But holy crap that seems like forever ago. I guess time flys when your having fun, or put more correctly suffering and racing.

So here's to looking forward to racing with the old(er) or shall we say more mature racers this fall and next year...Now I too can double up on race days!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer break

This last week was nice. I decided this year to avoid burnout and take a week completely away from the bike. The objectives:
  1. recharge the mental batteries,
  2. rest the legs,
  3. reset the eating plan to maintain my weight,
  4. find time to get caught up on stuff around the house, and
  5. keep the desire to ride the bike high.
Through this break, I should be able to help keep the motivation to ride deep into the fall high.  Additionally this is also a nice segway into resetting the training back to base mode.  Now i'm back to re-establishing the aerobic base for the coming late season endurance festivals such as D5-0 and the quickly approaching CX season. From here on its long weekend rides at nice comfortable pace again. I'm not racing anymore in June (skipping Ponca, might go take pics though and will be in ABQ for the omaha RR weekend). I'll be back to racing later in the summer and hopefully should come out swinging again just in time for CX.

So with that here's to riding!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Norfolk...Turning the Page

Ok, so I'm still trying to put this weekend into perspective so please bare with me as you read this.

Basically, 4 years ago, I decided to take bike racing more seriously. I was a middle to back of pack cat 2, I rode my bike 2-3 times a week at most and very inconsistently, I hadn't raced on the road since I was 16 and I was about 20-25 pounds overweight. I bought a training plan template, started training regularly (10ish hours a week) and laid out some goals.

Goal 1) race as a cat 1 xc mountain bike racer
Goal 2) cat 3 road racer
Goal 3) win a road race (something I wanted to do as a junior but never did)
Goal 4) win a state champs.

After well I reached goal 1 some time ago but did so without winning...close but always a bridesmaid. Then I won a state championship in cx this last fall. So with a lot of hardwork and the right training compatriots I checked off two goals pretty successfully. However I moved through cat 5 pretty well but did so without winning (mind you I was on a podium a couple of times).

Last year in my first season of cat 4, I struggled the first couple of races to even stay with the group WTF, I really doubted I'd ever progress farther at times and questioned whether I really enjoyed road racing enough to continue doing it. Then a breakthrough last spring in the Norfolk road race where surprisingly I made the final selection of 8 and was able to contest the finishing sprint. In fact I surprised a few guys as well as RF who was there chearing at the line after the cat 3 race mistook me for Mike Miles. From there I seemed to improve lingering just off the podium in each of the remaining races of the year just finishing top 5. All in all I earned some of the 20 upgrade points necessary to reach cat 3, really surprising myself.

For 2012, I entered the year all of a sudden with high expectations. The CX win in the fall showed me I have the ability, I just need the confidence. Then at the Tour De Husker crit, I attacked mid-race only with the intent of taking the 3rd preme. I ended up getting enough of a gap that Greg Hagele and I ended up in a breakaway. With Mike controlling the field Greg and I were free to fly. I jumped him at the end and solo'd home for the win. Another goal and the top step. Surprisingly now very close to cat 3 as the hell did this happen?

2-3 weeks ago I entered the flatwater weekend with high expectations but unfortunately bad positioning in the crit and then too much work early in the circuit race didn't yield the result I had hoped for. all seemed to start coming together here 1 year ago.

On Saturday Mike, RF and I rolled up to Maskentine for the XC race. We arrived early, did our pre-ride and felt pretty relaxed. On the race start I had a really good start (5th wheel, even those are improving for me). Race was going well and on lap 3 I was closing the gap back to Ted Lechnowsky when my front tire washed in a high speed corner. My left leg went one way, the bike went another..ouch. I started going again but my knee hurt and I started cramping bad. I dnf'd to do damage control for Sunday (sure enough I was really cramping bad after the race good call).

Sunday rolls around, got a good hotel breakfast in me. RF and I headed to the downtown crit course to watch MM, BR, Shim, Lucas, EOB, and Kgil race the masters race. The boys did MWCC proud. BR helped initiate the breakaway early. Shim bridged. MM, EOB and Lucas controlled the group. Shim the win, BR 3rd. Then EOB and Lucas took the remaining spots in the field sprint.

Shortly after the masters race I started warming up. My Legs felt like utter crap; I was still sore and stiff from the cramps on saturday.  I was really questioning how this would go.

As we staged for the race, I told the legs to shut up, lets see what happens.

Lap 1 Cole led out and I was on his wheel. We opened a little gap on the back stretch but then I flatted coming down the finish straight (theres a hole about the size of a pinhead through the tire casing). BR helped with wheel change and I was back in action. Mike and I took turns chasing down attacks. Anytime I was on the front I mainly just soft pedaled as I really wanted to see who would do what. Leah and Cole took a number of digs which others had to chase while Mike and I just followed anyone who closed down the attack. Solid work. Mid-race, I went for the cash preme and took it pretty easily.

2 laps to go and the pace ramped up. Going into the first corner Dana from flatwater went off the front I moved to the front and chased but didn't want to burn too many matches. The gap lingered by about 20ish feet. Then on the final lap Rich Anderson went in the first corner and I hit full gas. Rich quickly bridged Dana. I looked over my shoulder and Nick Ware and I had a gap on the field. With 2 corners to go it was Rich, Dana, Nick and myself. Through the final turn I was in back watching. Dana accelerated while Nick and Rich faded. I jumped to pull along side and accelerated. I won the race by 0.08 seconds...basically half a wheel length.

Photo credit: Team Kaos

So with that I took the 2012 Nebraska State Championship in Cat 4. I got a second win on the season. And as of yesterday I'm now a Cat 3.
 I've totalled it up and I have over 2000 hours of training/racing including over 90 races in the last 4 years.
Its hard to put into words how it feels to reach all your goals, especially when there are times you do question whether they are really attainable. There's a feeling of relief. At the same time I'm elated to have pulled off everything I layed out for myself.

As I look back and tally the numbers,

I'd like to thank everyone who's helped me get here. Mark, Bryan, Eric, Mike, Rafal, Ryan, Leah, Shim, Kent and everyone else at MWCC you guys have been great to ride and train with. Riding with all of you has made me faster and a smarter racer. Thanks Becky for putting up with all my time spent talking about bikes, training, racing, and travel.

As I close this out...thanks for reading my I said I'm still putting it in perspective. I guess its time to set some new racing goals since goal setting is really the best way to keep pushing forward and improving.

So as I leave this rather long blog post...I'll close out with the lyrics from Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" as covered by Metallica above

On a long and lonesome highway
East of Omaha
You can listen to the engine
Moanin' out his one note song
You can think about the woman
Or the girl you knew the night before
But your thoughts will soon be wandering
The way they always do
When you're ridin' sixteen hours
And there's nothin' much to do
And you don't feel much like ridin',
You just wish the trip was through

Here I am
On the road again
There I am
Up on the stage
Here I go
Playin' star again
There I go
Turn the page

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tour de Husker

Well this weekend was a total roller coaster for me. I opened the short road season for me this past weekend at Tour de Husker. As of a week ago yesterday, I wasn't planning to race at all. After talking with Mike Miles about the crit and surveying it on Google Earth I decided that the intensity of the crit on sunday would be good for some top-end training heading into XC racing season so that was a go however I still wasn't planning to do the road race. I have a very love-hate relationship (most people do) with the course at Branched Oak. In 2011, stomach cramps and tough winds on the first lap led to me DNF'ing only 40 minutes into the race. Last Thursday with ideal conditions for racing I decided to go all in for the weekend.

Saturday (Road Race):
Saturday there's not a lot to say. The usual suspects tried to make something happen in the road race. Flatwater guys did some attacks. Couple of others as well. Nothing was really sticking. Typical Cat 4 kinda stuff. Couple of sketchy things going on (sorry but some guys need to work on bike handling). As Lap 3 came to an end and Lap 4 began it became apparent this was going to be a sprint finish. With a group of 20ish guys it was going to be a free for all. Yay (note sarcasm)

Realizing it was going to be a sprint finish, I started plannin on lap 4 my strategy. Now, while I can sprint ok, I prefer a sprint thats slightly longer, almost more of an attacking kind of style. The s/f straight is a slight downhill bend thats rather long and is decievingly long. Just before it are a series of short hills after you've made the turn back into Liebers Point and headed past the entry station. My plan was to attack on the last hill and drill it to the s/f. I felt pretty confident I could hold a very hard effort for a couple of minutes and make it work.

As we made the turn and went up and over the first series of hills, I was following Greg Hagele and a junior whilest sitting 3rd wheel. They pulled through decently hard and as I looked over my shoulder to see what was going on (assuming some guys starting to jockey for position) I realized we'd gapped the field a bit. Seeing this I decided to lift the pace a bit and pulled through thinking a little rotation would help isolate the slower riders and make the attack i was going to do a little easier if everyone is on the rivet. As I pulled through apparently I gapped the field and when I looked back I was 20 or so feet in front. With that I figured I was all in and started to go all out. I pulled out a reasonable gap. For the next couple of hills I kept the pace up. As I looked back I saw Chris Hansen and others trying to real me back in (Chris stated the next day that he was trying to get across to me).

Somewhere, also at this point, unbeknownst to me, my teammate Mike Miles was run off the road. He managed to keep it upright return to the road and chase back for a 10th place finish.

Alas, I went about 0.5K too early and the group caught me on the final short hill as I was beginning to fade. I think had I went just a little later it could have been perfect. Ah well, its early in the season. I sat at the car after pissed at myself for the bonehead move and definitely wanting redemption.

Sunday (crit):
On Sunday Mike and I rolled in two hours early walked the course and took our time getting ready. The long warm up was good as my legs were feeling heavy at first from the previous day. I wasn't really certain of how it would go. I realized on the back stretch with the head cross wind would be the perfect place to attack with a tight series of corners which could play to the advantage of a solo attack at the end of the race. My strategy at this point was to test it on a couple of preme laps then go from there.

At race start, I got a front row position. I had struggled all last season with my clip-ins and race starts. So today I focused on clipping in smoothly and getting up to speed quick. It worked and I was immediately on 3rd wheel. 2nd or 3rd lap they called preme lap. I made my move on the back stretch and sure enough opened a gap, Rich Anderson followed but I pretty easily took the sprint for the preme. We sat up, the field caught us and I worked for the next lap on the front.

I sat in for a couple of laps after working for the first couple and having launched the attack.

Team mate Mike Miles took the 2nd preme lap in a heads up sprint a couple laps later.

Again on the third preme lap about 10-12 laps into our 25 lap race I attacked on the back stretch and this time drew out Greg Hagele. I took the preme again. As I started to sit up, Greg yelled he had a good gap keep going. So for the next half to 3/4 lap I drilled it to try and increase the gap.  Greg and I began a steady rotation and worked pretty solidly the next couple of laps with about a 10 second gap.

Back in the pack, Mike was helping us out by chasing down anyone who tried to get across and controlling the field.

At this point a crash in the main field on turn 1-2 resulted in a neutralized race. After a short stop we got going again. Greg and I continued to drill it. With only short recoveries for each of us it was pretty hard effort.

For the next 8 or so laps we worked well together and I started to hatch my plan for the finish. On the final lap, I followed Greg's wheel on the backstretch knowing a good jump out of turn 5 would get me the upper hand on the final corner. As we came out of turn 5 I jumped around hard and didn't look back. I opened a large enough gap, and a little sprint after turn 6 then time to celebrate the win.

I gotta thank Miles for the hard work and sacrifice in the field to help us stay away. I know wins come along rarely and you gotta savor them when they happen. I've been chasing a road win for a while and its awesome to get one.

All in all, it was up and down for the weekend, I went from being angry at myself to totally elated. I didn't expect to initiate a breakaway, it wasn't part of the plan at all. It worked, surprisingly.

Anyways, I'm probably skipping Twin Bing due to some other things so the next road race may not be until Mayish...for now its all about dirt with the Psycowpath opener this next weekend.

Cheers for now.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Spa City 6 Hour...pros and dissapointments

This last weekend the MWCC crew took a venture down to the UET Spa City Extreme 6-Hour Mountain bike Race in Hot Springs, Arkansas to kick off our 2012 mountain bike racing. The long and short of it is that it was a great event, with an awesome venue, in a pretty neat town on the border of the Ouachita National Forest.  The 10 hour drive was worth it for what I can defintely say is some of the most fun you can have in a mountain bike race.

I'll admit I was a little concerned going down to the race given the forecast of rain and the lingering cold/congestion/sinus infection thing going on. Still I took the plunge. During the pre-ride I felt good with the congestion being clear enough to ride through.

On race day my legs actually felt great and I was hoping for the best. The lemans start went well for me I actually managed to get a decent run and got strait to my bike and took off. Once rolling I made up a bunch of spots on the road starting loop before we hit the singletrack. After that, I went about making up spots where I could.

After lap 1 of the 10 mile track I was feeling really good and kept my pace going. At the pits on lap 2, Todd Eyberg rolled in when I was finishing up my little snack and we rolled out pretty much together. On the longish climb 2 miles in I opened the throttle again and starting making up more spots on guys who'd passed me in the pits, again feeling good. On lap 3, about 3-4 miles in I was bummed to catch Mike Miles who'd flatted. I stopped gave him an extra CO2 and kept going. Up to this point everything was going great aside from the need to lube the chain.

Nearing the end of lap 3, something was noticeably wrong, I was losing power even though my legs felt good and my breathing was becoming labored. 1 mile from the start/finish I had to back off the group I had caught up to and was starting to cough, and my congestion was hitting full force. I limped into the pits and sat down. 5 minutes later Mike rolls in and I told him I think I'm done. About 2 minute later I was in full asthma attack. Fortunately I had packed my inhaler after a few puffs of that I was ok but I was done. Luckily I brought the inhaler or I might have ended up on a stretcher this time. All in all the combo of sinus infection, and allergies (everythign was starting to bloom there) got the best of my asthma. It was dissappointing to what was looking like a really good day like that but it happens. Living with asthma and racing bikes is something that is really always a gamble...99% of the time I'm ok, other times the optimal condition can lead to this kind of result.

On a more positive note, I do admit to being a little start struck this last weekend. I'd met Ned Overend a a couple of times. This was my first time meeting Tinker Juarez though. If you don't know who he is...well check this...

Heres the photo I took with him during race registration. He was super cool and while Todd Eyberg and I were standing around he came up and introduced himself. Again thats another reason to love the sport, down to earth pro's.

So as if that wasn't enough, I'd become aware last year that Ben and Eric Bostrom of World Super bike fame had also become pro mountain bikers racing for Sho-Air. Low and behold Eric was racing his first endurance mountain bike race this weekend at Spa City. While I was in the bathroom line pre-race he walked up and said hi and we talked for a bit. Unfortunately I'd left my phone in the car or I would have gotten another picture taken. Still pretty cool that he has transition from racing motorcycles internationally in his 20's to turning into a pro mountain biker in his 30's. Now for those of you who also aren't familiar with the Bostroms, I give you this: (watch how Eric uses his bike handling and course knoweldge to lead out the v-twin ducatis and hondas against which his 4 cyclinder Ninja was outclassed)...

Anyways thats all I got for now. I've got some meds to clear up this stuff in my head. Next up will be the first Psycowpath race at Swanson in a couple weeks.