Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of the year part 1: The races

With the season coming to a close, I'm taking the next few days to reflect on my year, hopefully I don't become too sentimental. Today is racing, tomorrow is stuff, Thursday is people. So look out for it!

So, as a little bit of background, this was my first full year racing. I did a few cross races at the tail end of last year in the C category and that planted the seed. So, when spring rolled around, I gave the whole racing this a shot.

What do you know, it was a blast.

Being able to race with so many different people and head off to places I'd normally never set foot in (Coburn, PA, anyone!?) was an experience in itself. The bike riding was just an added perk on top of that.

A few highlights:

• Mohican 100k

This was my first experience with any sort of an enduro race, and man it was awesome. Even though the 7 am start was wayyyyy too early, tearing through downtown Loudonville was awesome. I felt pretty good for not knowing jack shit about nutrition or pacing myself or any of that mumbo-jumbo. I was scarfing down granola bars having a blast. While getting lost for an hour plus may have been a huge kick in the nuts, there's always next year when I'm going to unleash some proverbial whoop-ass on that race.

• Manitoc

331 promotions really knows there stuff. A huge thanks to them for putting on this really well-organized race. The weather looked really ominous before this race. I left my place in North Royalton (20 minutes away) to a torrential downpour, but when I got to Manitoc, the trails were dry and the rain held off. Crazy stuff.

It was also one of those races where everything seemed to click. The bike was running well, I didn't crash like crazy, and I was able to power through the entire race. A 1st place plaque and a Chipolte burrito were my reward.

It's a shame the trails aren't open year round, but hopefully my good dudes in Camba have some luck with getting the Valley opened up for bikes.

• Wilderness 101

The hardest thing I've ever done on a bike. Seriously. Next year I'm putting a suspension fork on and maybe that will help me not think about dying on some of those descents. Yikes. But besting my goal time by 40-some minutes was something for me to be really happy about. Let's see if I can drop it down another 40 next year.

• West Branch OMBC

I got my start on a mountain bike at West Branch a few years ago. So it was awesome to be able to ride my home trail in a race. Once again it was one of those days were everything clicked.

• Kirtland Park CX

Fast! It was wild to be able to hang with the front group for a bit and see how insanely fast those guys were. Riding with Twining was always good too, as I've got a lot to learn from him. My best Lake Effect result of the year too.

I could probably write something about every one of these races and how much I liked them, but man this post is getting long so I'll save you the boredom.

But here is is a long and boring list of all the races I did this year... if you're into that sort of thing.

Mountain Bike

OMBC Series:

  • 1st: 3/29/09 OMBC #1 Mohican Wilderness, Loudonville

  • 5th: SATURDAY 4/18/09 OMBC #2 Vultures Knob – Wooster

  • 1st: 5/3/09 OMBC #3 Mountwood Challenge WV

  • 1st: 5/17/09 OMBC #4 The Wilds

  • 2nd: 7/12/09 OMBC #6 S&S Trails - Mt. Perry

  • 2nd: 7/26/09 OMBC #7 Alum Creek – Delaware

  • 2nd: 8/23/09 OMBC #9 Caesar Creek – Waynesville

  • 1st: 9/27/09 OMBC #11 Westbranch – Ravenna

  • 1st: 10/11/09 OMBC #12 Mohican SP – Loudonville

  • 1st: 10/25/09 OMBC #13 Mohican Wilderness – Loudonville

1st overall Sport Senior (19-30) category

Other XC races

  • 1st: 8/30/09 NEO Power Series Big Valley Race at Camp Manitoc, Sport class - Peninsula

  • 1st: 6/13/09 Vultures Knob #3: Woo-town Singlespeed Challenge - Wooster

  • 1st: 11/7/09: Iceman Cometh Challenge, Sport 19-24 - Traverse City, MI

    Endurance Races

  • 20th: 8/1/09 Wilderness 101: Singlespeed Open - Coburn, PA

  • 12th: 5/30/09 Mohican 100k: Singlespeed Open - Loudonville


  • 2nd: 9/13/09 Bike Authority CX #1: Wendy Park, B race - Cleveland

  • 1st: 9/26/09 Bike Authority CX #2: KSU Stark, B race - Canton

  • 1st: 10/3/09 Cap City Cross #1: Alum Creek, B race - Delaware, OH

  • 9th: 10/4/09 Bike Authority CX# #3: Leroy, A race - Panesville

  • 7th: 10/9/09 Darkhorse Cyclo-Stampede International Cyclocross, Cat 2/3 - Covington KY

  • 12th: 10/17/09 Bike Authority CX #4: Todd Field, A race - Willoughby

  • 10th: 10/31/09 Bike Authority CX #5: Chagrin River CX day one, A race - Bainbridge

  • 9th: 11/1/09 Bike Authority CX #6: Chagrin River CX day two, A race - Bainbridge

  • 21st: 11/14/09 Bike Authority CX #7: KSU Main, A race - Kent

  • 7th: 11/22/09 Bike Authority CX #8: Kirtland Park, A race - Cleveland

  • 5th: 12/5/09 Cap City Cross: #6: Smith Farms, A race - Columbus

  • 9th: 12/6/09 Bike Authority CX#9: Boughton Farm, A race - Copley

  • 1st: 12/19/09 Cap City Cross #7: Infirmary Mound, A race - Granville

  • 3rd: 12/20/09 Cyclocross Winter Trophy Series #1, A race - Akron

9th overall Bike Authority CX: A category

Keep an eye out tomorrow: I'll be posting about some of my favorite gadgets / gear of the year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Finishing up the season strong: Cap City #7 and Winter Trophy Series #1

After Boughton Farm I was toast. My body has been pretty well-abused since April of this year, so it was break time.

I spent two weeks without even thinking about my bike, and while it was nice, I was starting to get a little stir-crazy by the end of things.

So the first time back on my bike after my time off was the Cap City series finale at Infirmary Mound.

I woke up that morning to a solid inch of snow up in the Cleveland area, went to pick up Robert and off we went.

Two-and-a-half hours later, and a few "Hey I'm lost" phone calls to Matt Weeks, we rolled into Granville to a snowy and muddy race.

I got a warm up in and cheered on Robert, who was kicking ass in the B's on his singlespeed. He ended up in second even after a few mud-induced mistakes (*cough* sandbagger *cough*) oh my excuse me... Heh.

So the A's lined up after that. The official announced that because of the conditions the race was going to be cut short to 45 minutes. Big old bummer, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

The whistle blows and we're off. I got out in the front with Weeks, and then it became very apparent, if it hadn't been already, how much he's on the next level. I was turning myself inside-out trying to keep up with him, and he was probably going not too hard. It was wild.

The course was a half-muddy half-icy nightmare, and staying upright at times seemed an impossible challenge. Luck was on my side though and I kept it rubber-side down minus a few foot dabs here and there.

So Matt and I rode rode together most of the race, with Garth Prosser trying to bridge up most of the time. His gap may have gotten down to ten seconds or so earlier on, but by the end of the race, we had it opened up to a solid minute. Probably a few minutes behind him was the Katsu and the chase group consisting of the rest of the A racers.

I was able to nip Matt at the line, which I'll take a wild guess and say that was his Christmas present to me :-).

So there it was, my first victory in an A race. To say I'm excited about this is an understatement. I was able to nab my first win in both a B race and an A race in one season. Wooooohoooo!

Hopefully this momentum will carry over to next year. I've started working with Sean Gilbert recently, and hopefully his coaching wizardry will pay off for next season.

After the icy drive home, It was wash the jersey and go to bed time.

Up the next day I started getting ready for Shawn Adams' Winter Trophy Series.

I looked at my destroyed bike from the previous day's Columbus shenanigans, and pretty much said screw this to the thought of washing it.

It was single speed time!

I got to the course, and very quickly though that I was screwed. It was pretty flat, and my singlespeed was geared at 40x17, which I thought was a bit low. Oh well.

I put the Grifo XS file tread on the front, which hooked up really well in the ice and snow at 20ish PSI, and off we went. Ernie and Matt took off pretty much immediately, as my gearing spun out a little below their speed on the start.

As we settled in, Rudy and I were pretty similar in pace, and we worked together pretty much the entire time. It's always a treat riding with Rudy, as he's been racing for probably about as long as I've been alive, so I sort of sit back and watch and learn. So after trading pulls, getting some motivational beeps of my car horn by my girlfriend who was both watching and keeping warm, we got the bell, and Rudy sent me off.

I rolled across the line in third, really happy with how I rode. I think I'm going to race the SS for the rest of the series, maybe with a bit taller gear.

Ernie and Matt put on pretty much a cross clinic on how to ride the ice, and finished in first and second, respectively.

After a few detours (sorry Srokas!) we ended up at a little get together at the Matinee / Mr. Zubs. Some good food, a brew, and some chatting with the other racers.

I would recommend everyone comes out to the rest of the series, it was a blast. Big thanks to Shawn Adams for putting it on.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Boughton Farm, Finally

I've been putting off a Boughton Farm race report, because I feel pretty non-descript about the whole affair.

The race was hard. It was muddy and required someone who could put down some power to get through some of the more muddy sections.

I also made my typical mistake of falling really early into the first lap and having to work my way back up from dead last. That's something I'm going to stick to next year, racing within my abilities and ensuring that I'm not a human yardsale the entire time.

Oh, I should use this as a formal apology to anyone I've fallen in front of this year and probably scared the shit out of you. My bad.

But yeah, race was over with me in ninth.

Even though my race was lackluster, I ended up in ninth overall for the series too, surrounded by some great company. I'm beyond thrilled about this, and I'll write an end-of-the-year recap soon talking about my ups and downs on the year.

Thats it for now. A few weeks off to relax.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Anyone want to share a ride to Cap City tomorrow?

I'm driving down to Columbus for a Cap City race tomorrow. If anyone wants to come with, I've got a spot on my bike rack for one more. Shoot me an email if you want to come with.

Here are some details on the race. I'm racing at 2 PM, so I planned on leaving at 10 AM, but if you are racing earlier, I'm down to leave whenever.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

State Cross Championships

After a whole season of anticipation, States were finally upon us. After a Thanksgiving full of stuffing my face, and an oh-so-nice day off work on Friday, I readied myself to take off Saturday morning. The Sroka's graciously offered a spot in their car and I was happy to oblige.

We ended up getting to John Bryan State Park at probably about 4 PM on Saturday, just in time to meet up with the Maruts and Jeff Craft to take a few practice laps around the course.

Riding the course, I was pretty concerned. It was extremely wide open with little to no technical stuff, and as flat as a pancake. It suited a rider that could keep it steady the entire time. That's pretty much the opposite of me. I like little short punchy surges and technical stuff as an opportunity to recover. Oh well.

So with pretty much half of Team Lake Effect together, we were able to take some practice laps and geek out about tire choices for tomorrow. After that it was off to the hotel and time for dinner. I'm not sure what the drive did to me, but I was exhausted by 7:30 PM and in bed by 9:00. This was shaping up to be the first time in history I was going to be well rested for a race.

Morning came bright and early at 7:30 AM, which actually wasn't too bad for this newfound workin' man. We got to the park by Ten and were able to watch Scott Marut turn in an impressive finish in the Cat 4 35+ field.

After witnessing numerous state championships being brought back to Cleveland (Nate Loman in 35+ Cat 3, Rudy in 45+ Elite Masters, and Robert in 15/16 Juniors) I realized it was about time for my race.

I took my warmup around the park and my legs felt like trash. Not good. Desperate times called for desperate measures and I had enough time to get on to the trainer for some high cadence action in an attempt to blow the stink out of my legs. To my delight, it actually worked.

Lining up, I got to talking with Tony and realized we were about an equal level of nervous. The whistle went off, and I was able to pull together a strong start. The nerves quickly subsided and I was on my way to racing my race.

For the first lap I was hanging with the front three. I very quickly realized this wasn't going to last much longer, but I needed to hang on as long as I could and avoid the bottlenecks and try to open a gap when they did.

Starting the second lap, an Essex Brass rider attacked, and Jon Card countered. I pretty much couldn't do anything but laugh at that since I didn't have anywhere close to the legs they did. They were off, and Tony, myself, and one other guy formed a chase group.

I was holding off blowing up spectacularly, and though I might have been able to tough it out for the rest of the race. If anything, I saw Shawn Adams and Matt Weeks were catching up mighty quickly, and I wanted to help them bridge up to the front group.

So big plans swirling in my brain, I take the sharp off-camber turn right before the finish chute.

SHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT my tire rolls. Not again. Not today. Not now. Piss.

Since I'm very quickly becoming an expert at this, I don't panic. I roll my tire back on the rim, and head out towards the pit very gingerly. As pretty much everyone passed me en route, my big dreams vanish in a poof of tainted tubular glue.

As I got to the pit I was sort of at a loss. I didn't bring the pit bike, because we didn't have enough space. The plan was to put my pedals on Rudy's bike, but I was too busy warming up to remember. I'm on a slightly antiquated 9 speed setup, so no one had a backup wheel for me.

DNF. Fuck.

On a good note, Matt and Shawn both finished second and third in the state, respectively. Tony finished in 12th, in the money just as he expected.

The one strange thing that I noticed on the day was the lack of recognition that the Cleveland area riders were getting. Not sure if it was because the announcer was from the area and saw familiar faces he could talk about or something else.

Hopefully by next year he'll realize that Cleveland riders brought home a serious chunk of hardware from this year, and might give a bit more credit where it is due.