Wednesday, November 21, 2007

State Championship Predictions

If I were a betting man I'd bet that one of these four racers will be the Michigan State Cyclocross Champion! (Don't worry, the link is G-rated...but quite, quite stuipd...)

Just doing my part to make the internet more fun...


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Munson cyclocross

(photo courtesy of Jeff Zimmerman)

So why not? Well I'm sure there were a few objections to the Big Boy knickers today. I guess I don't really care about those nay sayers. They were warm, matched the kit pretty well, and were obviously attention-getting.

Anyway, back to racing. From the gun Cory jumped off the front. I figured we would be able to bring him back and after a lap we were all back together. Tony tried a brief jump heading south on the gravel and got a small gap. By this time Cory had a mechanical issue and it was down to a small group. (Please excuse any mis-writing was cold and my memory seems to have a few gaps here and there) At one point with about 4 to go Tony jumped again on the gravel and was able to maintain a small gap over me for the remainder of that lap. For the next 2 laps that gap continued to grow and I was getting caught by David Morrissey.

David and I rode together for about a lap and a half. I figured I wasn't going to bring Tony in by myself and that wind was relentless today. I welcomed the draft. With the bell lap Tony was gone and I wasn't about to let David have third in a sprint. I attacked him in the sand (he ran, I rode) and maintained a small gap to the finish.

I have to be happy with 2nd today since I am still feeling the effects of the Iceman-crampeth race last Saturday. With two great weeks coming up here before the state championships I'll be able to recover and focus on what needs to happen to take down the state championship. Hopefully between Jeff and Joe we'll have a course BETTER THAN LAST YEAR with more laps and less back and forth on bumpy stupid grass.

The Big Boy is out.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


This year marked my 4th Iceman attempt, but the last time I raced was in 2000. Lots has changed from what I remember. Maybe part of it was racing in the 19-24 category. I guess most of it was because of the expert-nature of the 19-24 category. That was the fastest and most sketchy start of any race I've ever been in. I figured things would sort out (and slow down...) after the first 2-3 miles. Not quite. This reminded me of the worst cat 4 race I've ever been in. The speed wasn't bad, it was the sand that was killer. And the frosty leaves. And the fact that there were 20 guys plus myself that wanted to be in first going into the singletrack. Combine 2-wheel slides, frosty leaves, sand, a crazy fast start and you have yourself one FUN race!

I guess I'm getting ahead of myself. To start out the morning I managed to screw up my normal pre-Iceman food of pancakes. I figured the next best thing would be oatmeal. I messed that up too. How can you mess that up? Trust me you can. I managed to leave on time but with an uneasy feeling of things not quite going right for my return to the MAN of ICE race.

I loaded up the truck and headed out to Kalkaska to be greeted with the coldest Iceman I've ever raced. Come to think of it, there was even crusty snow (old) on the first single track. That marks the first time I've raced the Iceman with snow!

In the parking lot I unloaded the F3000 (sorry Giant, some old classics just don't go out of style...but their forks break). After my first spin to warm up I found that my front tire was punctured with a slow leak. A smooth change of the tube got me back into business, but with less than the perfect warmup. I managed to line up in the 2nd row a full 15 minutes prior to my 9:30 start time.

The gun went off and it was on. Full speed onto the first narrowing; we had a really nice group rolling right along. Then we hit the first singletrack section and things splintered.

The next half hour or so of racing kind of blurs together, but I remember putting in a monster pull on the dirt-paved road. Two other guys were with me and we managed to close a gap of about 10 seconds on the group of 5 in front of us. In that group were the likes of Tom and brother Torrence from Colorado (Pearl Izuimi). Dangling off the back of our new group by about 30 seconds was a U of M rider in my category. By the time we hit mile 17 I think I was in 4th or 5th place in my category.

After the hills by Williamsburg road was the first sign of difficulty. I started to get those light tingles in both of my lower quads. A quick shift took care of them...but with 10 miles to go it was a sure sign that things were going to get extremely difficult.

It really hit the fan with about 7 to go (I think...). The U of M rider caught me after the "wall" downhill and I was unable to raise the pace (due to the leg crampage getting into the painful to very painful range). Since the last 7 miles of the race have the steepest of the climbs in it I prepared for the worst and dropped it back to a comfortable pace. I figured we had done a lot of damage to those behind us, and if I maintained a moderate pace while trying to spin the cramps out I could still manage a place in the money (top 7).

Well let's just say things didn't go as planned. It all really came to a head on the LAST single track section (about a mile to go) after I had been passed by (seemingly) everyone and their brother. The cramps were bad but managable until we slowed and turned into the right-hand drop into single track. When I briefly stopped pedaling to make it around a turn both legs (quads, calves, and hamstrings) simultaneously siezed, forcing me off the bike completely. Talk about the absolute worst pain I've ever experienced on a bike...

With 1 km to go the last racer in my category to finish ahead of me would pass me. I was again on my bike at this point but with every pedal stroke I could feel the pain seeping back into my muscles. Finally over the bridge and across the finish line. Ouch.

The bottom line is that I had roughly 21 miles of the best MTB racing in my life followed by the absolute worst racing (and pain) on a bike in my life. I was very happy to be finished and greeted by Kristie, my dad, Shannon, and Patrick, but I was dissappointed by my last half hour of racing. End race time was 1:55.09. For someone who starts concentrating on 45 minute 'cx efforts in JULY that doesn't seem too terribly bad, but what is bad is that I was with the group that finished in 1:49 (for 5th place), meaning that in the last 7 miles of racing I lost 7 places and 6 minutes (ended up 12th). Not exactly what I had hoped for.

With all the negative things done with, I have to say the majority of racing was fun, which is exactly why I like racing. The cramps are something I can deal with by preparing for a 2 hour effort, but let's not joke anybody by thinking that I would ever give up a season of 'cx for one Iceman. I'll definitely SIGN UP IN THE LOTTERY to get into next year's event.

Some good news: Kona got her stitches out last week so she's all better and shopping like a little shopper. Kristie started her official coaching career (AHS JV girls basketball!!!!!), which will be an exciting experience for her!

Also, mad MAD props to Jeff Weinert who returned to the Iceman after 8 years to DOMINATE the single speed class with a win (1:42.36)!!! Maybe those naysayers commenting on tms should quiet down before they awake the little giant again...

2 races left (Munson cx and the state championships...) Then it is time to RELAX and skate ski with Kristie. That is if we get any snow...


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Vet's Park Weekend

Finally a cool weekend to race 'cross! The course on Saturday was a clockwise beast with a very long and decisive run up. After Roger took it out fast, Cory and I pegged it until we had a gap we could play with. With two to go I hit my pedal on the long run up and Cory put it down enough to gap me. I got it within about 30 meters at various points for the remaining lap and a half but he proved to have more power that day. 2nd is never the most desirable position but I was happy my form was where it should be.

Today's course was counterclockwise with lots of similar features from Saturday's event. Our field today was 20 strong with a new guy from Ohio (name?) and a bunch of U of M racers. From the gun we took things out quickly. Roger ended up spilling on the off camber, slippery section coming back from the tennis courts. Fortunately for me he stopped sliding in time for me to squeeze by on his right. I dropped a few gears and put it down for a bit. Tony was able to hang for a bit but eventually we (Ohio and myself) were able to gap him a bit.

Ohio and I rode around for the next 5 laps testing each other at various points. He was pretty strong on the flats but I was faster in the technical (running or barriers) sections. With two to go we were neck and neck through the trees on the corner of Dexter and Maple. He lead us down the hill towards the softball fields when I noticed him having chain difficulties. I figured it would be as good a time as any to put the hurt on, so I went as hard as I could and was able to hold the gap until the finish.

That officially marks the first time in my life I've crossed the line first in a 'cross race. It was a great feeling but with two races left (plus the Iceman) I am more focused now than ever.

Next up is the Iceman!

For those about to 'cross...


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Vet's Park day 1 update

Quick update here...

Today was a great day to race 'cross! Shannon came out to watch us run around Vet's park for 45 minutes. The race started FAST with Roger Bowswer going to the front quickly. Right before the long run up I came to the front to set the pace. The only follower was Cory Stang, who eventually proved faster up the run than me. We had 2 minutes on 3rd place today, which is a great indication that I'm ready to race tomorrow and at the Iceman a week from today.

Another post will follow sometime after tomorrow...

See ya,