2012 – The Year So Far…

2012 – 1,519 miles, 2 road races and the first WORS race: DONE.

Mountain bike racing is hard.  Iola was hard, and not fun.  I have done many rides and races that were really hard, but afterward I always felt good – a sense of accomplishment.  Iola was just hard.  When it was over, I was glad to be done.  My crappiest time ever, I probably wouldn’t even have made the Citizen podium.  Even worse, it was my debut in “Singlespeed Open” (Comp).  I’ve really been digging riding on the road for the past year, and I was considering skipping Iola and driving to LaCrosse for the Omnium.  Probably should have gone with that plan.  I’ve run a 32:16 for the past 3 years at Iola, same this year.  With all the peanut butter mud, that was a bad plan, but I got to the race too late to change it.  Mentally, I was never in this one.  I hadn’t realized how much I’ve been spinning a smaller gear this off-season and not working on power.  I’m really stoked to race ToAD this year, and Iola really didn’t help fire me up for WORS.  I race the Whitnall Spring Classic Crit in April and did the Masters 4/5 and Masters 3/4 back to back.  It was hard, but fun.  When I finished, I was stoked and looking forward to doing another road race.  Bump and Jump was way harder. 

The 69er is sitting in my garage, still packed with mud.  I can’t even get motivated to clean it.

I changed my mind… NOT fun today.

 Next up – the Bone Ride.

2012 ~ the year of the fat dude?

Maybe I should consider racing Clydes?

With the world coming to an end in just 353 days, I figured that I had better get a little scientific about my race plan this year.  For the last 2 years I’ve only averaged about 4,000 miles (that’s 6,400 Km for the roadies), but I’ve also managed to average a ride every other day (year-round).  I have never really done any focused training “program” and I tend to burn out halfway through the year.  My strategy has been ride whenever I can, and ride as hard as I can.  Usually that means quick, early morning rides before work.  No LSD miles in Spring, no recovery rides to speak of, no focus on weaknesses, in fact no focus at all.  

As much as it sucked to think about it, I picked up some training books and got a new HR strap for the Polar monitor collecting dust in my closet.  I structured a plan that will get me to peak fitness for ToAD, and leave me fresh enough to finish WORS too.  On paper it looks good, even though my mileage will go up by somewhere between 25 and 50% (depending on the end of season tapering).  The real challenge will be embracing a plan that makes me better without sucking the life and fun out of riding.  As far as my weight, I’m not a twig like most of the guys I’m racing.  I usually focus on gaining some weight in Fall/Winter, but this year I’ll focus on taking it off too.

Today felt good, but it’s Day 1.  Even crack addicts can probably stay focused for 1 day.  The real test will be my results and overall fitness this year, as well as avoiding mid-season burnout.

I’m excited about doing some real road racing this year, and moving up to SS Open @ WORS.  I’m not really built for the longer courses, so hopefully the focus on my weaknesses will pay off.  I might even try to dial in my diet a bit, although a quick Google search reveals that “cake” and “beer” are the top 2 diet choices among competitive cyclists.

Now, if I can just avoid crashing…

2011 racing season – that’s a wrap!

AKA – the continuing evolution of a fat dude…

Here I am in summer of 2006.  Riding an old mountain bike on the road with my other fat old friends –  Bob Roll and Greg LeMond.  OK, we’re not really friends – just fat.  I had taken many years off of the bike, and was inspired to get back on for the Trek 100.  I did the 32 mile route that year.  Slowly.

My Official Return to Cycling - 2006

That was enough incentive to get me rolling again, literally.  I had so much fun, and it felt so good to be doing something I loved so much, I started making time to get on my bike.  Just a little at first – probably only did a handful more rides that year, but I did one very important ride: on the trails of the Southern Kettles.

My off-road skills were anemic, and that’s giving me more credit than I deserved, but I knew they were in there somewhere.  Covered with years of rust and beer and God knows what else.  I was slower than a stampede of turtles.  Hill-climbing?  That’s where my dominance really showed!  I could climb anything under 10 feet tall in less than an hour.  Maybe.

I rode a little more the following year, even got a road bike.  I remember telling my friend Mark how proud I was after a 15 mile ride where I had averaged 17 mph.  (This year I did a 161 mile “fun” ride and averaged 19.6mph).   Late that summer I was really starting to feel the mountain bike bug again.  My fitness was starting to shape up a little, and I had started trying to get out and ride a bit more.  The whole idea of a single-speed bike really seemed to make sense to me.  After all, I was a reformed BMXer – not a roadie.  On the road, I had nothing, but get me into some single-track and I could at least hold my own with stronger guys by riding smart.  In 2007, 29″ wheels were just starting to get some attention – most bikes sold  still had 26″ wheels.  Trek took a chance and produced a small run of Travis Brown inspired 69ers.

NOTE: When it comes to “stuff”, I am not a technical guy, I’m an impulsive guy.  I’ve never researched a major purchase.  I liked the idea of a single gear (only later did a I realize that you might need to change out the gears for different courses…) and I liked the idea of the 29er, but I wasn’t sold on it.  The 26″ riders liked the cornering and climbing of their bikes, the 29″ riders loved the way their bikes flew on the flats and rolled over everything at speed.  A 69er seemed to make sense so I bought one – without riding it.

2008 was the year that the MTB virus really took hold.  I started riding the singlespeed quite a bit, getting out to the Kettles or Crystal Ridge occasionally to grind out a few miles.

Fast forward to 2011:

2011 - Year of the fat boy!

My 2011 season started with the Burnham Racing Spring Super Criterium on March 26th, and yes, it was snowing when we started.  My 3rd road race ever, I managed to finish a respectable 13th in the Masters 4/5s and avoid getting crashed out coming into the sprint.  Did a few more road races and 5 WORS races.  Managed to get (3) 3rds, (1) 1st and (1) DNF, so 2012 will mean a move up to Singlespeed Comp/Open to get my butt handed to me.  Even though I raced less than I wanted to, I rode more than I thought I would (and I’m still riding of course).

2012 should be a great year for me.  I have a great Team that keeps getting better, and I’ll have more focus and more experience.  I plan to do more WORS racing, more ToAD and even a little CX.

As always, time will tell.

WORS Iola report (finally)

Once again, the 1st WORS race of the year has come and gone.  I saw lots of chatter about how people were just there to have fun, see old friends, not necessarily to race.  Huh?  I think that’s an easy way to say “…if I don’t do well, I can just say I was having fun…”

I saw a lot of people racing, and a lot of people having “fun”, but I didn’t notice anyone stopping to take pictures during the race or check their email.  Despite the frigid temps, the racing was hot.  Iola is a favorite course among a majority of the WORS racers, myself included.  It has a little of everything and it’s the inaugural WORS race, so everyone comes to the line extremely amped up.

This year was no exception – when Don yelled go, we blasted up the fire road on the backside of the ski hill jockeying for position.  I immediately felt the fact that my warm-up (if you could call it that) in the cold temps did little to warm me up.  I also immediately felt the failure of my activities the entire off-season.  Last year, I hit the gym quite a bit and continued to do some cold weather riding too.  This year I just rode, 2-3 times a week, throughout the winter – avoiding the gym almost completely.  That plan worked out pretty well in the 2 early season road races I’ve done so far, but it backfired horribly once I hit the hills of Iola on my single speed.  I have zero upper body/core strength compared to last year – those hills sucked the life out of me in a hurry.  I’ve become a much better climber over the years, many times making key moves on the steepest hills, but that was not the case in Iola.  It took everything I had to make it up the steepest hill on the last lap.

Overall, I felt good and I felt like I left it all out there, despite having a much slower time than last year.  I placed a distant 3rd (last year’s finish had me 2 seconds out of 1st).  On the first lap I wanted to die and stop pedaling, by midway through the second lap I had found the groove and I used the last lap to wring out any energy I had left in me.

Unfortunately, as soon as I crossed the line my stomach started to cramp up – which turned out to be some kind of bug that kicked my ass for the next 48 hours.

Due to scheduling conflicts, my next WORS race won’t likely be until the end of July.  I’m hoping to make a few changes and add some horsepower before then.

Pterodactyl bites and whambulances at WORS #10…

Pictured below is the actual thing that stung my arm 2 miles into lap 1 at Treadfest yesterday:

It hurt like a mofo, then I forgot about it until after the race.  Today my arm is as swollen as Oprah at an Old Country Buffet.  I must be allergic to pterodactyls too, because I haven’t been able to stop sneezing or blowing my nose for the past 24 hours.  I get bee stings every year and have no allergies.  I seriously think whatever bit or stung me might not have been from this planet.

On to the race itself:

Definitely a favorite course of mine.  The only sad part of this course is the fact that it’s on private land and aside from the pre-ride on Saturday it’s not available to ride.  Lots of climbs, although none too crazy.  Lots of flowing single-track and ample passing lanes.  Certainly not as many as Iola, but not as few as Crystal Ridge.  5th place for me boiled down to lack of effort.  I wasn’t racing for 1st yesterday, that’s my only excuse.

That’s not to say I couldn’t come up with a truckload of crap to complain about, it’s just not the real reason I lost.  The biggest compliant people had (and legitimately so) was the fact that everyone’s race was shortened just before the start.  The justification was that lap times were too long, so I understand WORS decision, but there was really no communication that went out to the crowd about it (that I was aware of).  When you prepare for an X-lap race, and on the line you find out it will be a W-lap race, it can throw you off.  I made a last-minute decision to change out the rear cog on my single speed before the race started (based on 3 laps), and I would not have made that change had I known it would only be 2.

The gear choice, or the sting/bite or the shortened race or the fact that I blew out my fork seal is not why I lost.  I rested when I got behind the pokey people in the single-track sections.  I didn’t make all the moves I should have.  I got caught with my pants down on the first lap recovering and 4 SS guys blew past me.  I never made that time back up, and finished 5th.  I was still riding a 3 lap race – I never made the adjustment in my strategy or pace to a 2 lap race.

People were definitely complaining about the lost lap.  There were crashes.  There were slow pokes in the single track where there was no opportunity to pass.  It was dusty and dry (and warm).  In the end – who cares?  The fastest guys (and women) still won.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Crystal Ridge WORS pre-ride report…

First let me say the long sleeve jersey was overkill this morning.  I was expecting it to be much cooler.  Second, I apologize for the crappy cell-phone pix.  Third, HOLY CRAP, this is gonna be FUN!

A word to the ex-BMXers, you’re going to tear it up Sunday.  A word to the roadies – stay home.  You’re just going to hurt yourself out here.  Sure, you’ll haul ass on the new “Prologue” lap, (which will definitely give the early advantage to the Jens Voigts of the WORS world), but once you hit that single-track you might as well be on the moon.  This is a Midwest mountain biker’s course – SUPER twisty and fun, but nowhere to pass in the tight stuff.  The MMB and Alterra crew have done a fantastic job, and by Sunday the course conditions will be about as near perfect as you could hope for.

I swapped out the giant 36:15 on my SS last night, back to a “normal” 32:16.  I also had the foresight to add a little grip, so I took off the Stan’s Raven on the rear and slapped on a Nobby Nic.  Good call.  I’ll be swapping the front tire too.  The dry-looking trail is deceptively muddy and sticky.  The trails twist and turn like we have all come to know and love, but there is a BRAND NEW section of single-track that is my hands-down favorite.

Tons of 2x4s and flat rock “bridges” and a sweeping, twisted roll through the woods was a surprise for me this morning.  Sadly, I rode CR one time in Spring, but with all the rain we’ve had I’ve just taken it off the map.  Big mistake.  This is some of the most fun riding around, and despite all the crappy weather, the trails are in primo shape.  Again, can’t say enough about all the volunteers who’ve hauled rocks, lumber and shovels around those bug infested woods all summer.

Everything is clearly marked, with the exception of the Start/Finish gate, which will go up this weekend.

Same uphill start, same half climb of Garbage Hill for Sport and full climb for Comp/Expert.

My brake pads are almost completely shot, so I took it easy on the downhills – headed to Ben’s shortly to get the Home-Boy Hookup.

Make sure you tighten every bolt and have lots of brake power, there won’t be a time when you’re cruising down a nice sloping fire road recovering like Suamico.

This course will rattle your teeth out.

Good Luck to EVERYONE!!