Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Estabrook CX

After a poor start in my last few races, at Estabrook I finally got off the line well and did a little pushing for position. About a minute in I was in a great spot, like 4th wheel, and Maciej was behind me. I let a little gap form into a corner so I wouldn't have to brake as hard and Maciej jumped around (he doesn't like any gaps forming). Everything was going well until halfway through the lap and we got into the pinwheel of death.

There were no brakes in the pinwheel until we got to the crux of it, suddenly Chris slams on his brakes, Maciej slides into him, and I slide into Maciej..

To stay up, I crushed a stake with my foot like a giant and somehow, on the other side of me, I came into Maciej's wheel in the perfect way to make it catastrophically fail. It bent up like a dna helicase. He has trying to ride it still and stuck a foot or something into my front wheel, causing my bike to rear up and me to slam my danger zone into my headset. Behind me, Andy was like "Whoaa!" as my rear wheel was in his face. (This all took place in about 5 seconds in the crux of the pinwheel of death)

Andy went around me and I started going again as I yelled at Maciej to grab my wheel out of the pit. I kept yelling but he just stood there catatonic. I needed to get onto Andy's wheel since the front 4 had created a sweet gap on the rest of the field at this point. I never closed the gap on Andy since he dropped the hammer to catch the lead and I was nursing a sore stomach from having my danger zone pushed through my back.

I then spent a lot of time in the wind by myself. Two mwi guys passed me fast. Then the eventually winner of the race passed me and I couldn't hold his wheel. Then another guy passed me and I held his wheel for a bit  but eventually failed. At the same time I was passing guys from the p,1,2 field. But I pretty much moved backwards in my own race for 2 laps. Then a group of 4 guys were working together to get me. I wasn't going to let that happen.

In the last 2 laps I started to catch Chris who apparently exploded, but once I got within about 8 seconds he started to push it again. As I ran up the hill with one to go someone yelled "slow down, the leaders are coming". My will was relatively crushed by then and I didn't see much gain in doing another lap, so I did slow down and let 1st and 2nd place of the p,1,2 race pass me just before the finish line. Thus allowing me to skip the last lap.

It was a hard fought 9th place. Not exactly the placing I would like for that kind of effort, but that's racing. When I got back to my car I thought I had the wrong one because a bunch of my friends got together and filled the back of it with diapers. Thankfully, they weren't used because that would be a much different surprise! So even though it wasn't a great race for me, it was still a great time to hang out with friends and that is why I do this in the first place.

Next Saturday is my last race this year. Time to leave everything I have on the course.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Washington Park Cx

Yay! After a two week hiatus I was back racing cx again this weekend. Two weeks ago the race in the Milwaukee area was cancelled due to storms coming and a concerned parks department. Last week was a secret mountain bike race of which I had to pull out of after a lap and a half because my still healing broken pinky didn't like climbing on a single speed or being slammed into a tree. But this week I was back suffering on the cx bike.

The Washington Park costume race course doesn't change much from year to year and I don't think it should. It is one of the best courses for going all out and hitting your limits and then mixing in technical stuff to catch your breath. Match that up with all the rain we have gotten recently, a sunny day, and a bunch of nuts riding in costumes, and you have a recipe for a great time.

I wavered heavily on what to dress up as this year but landed on something simple yet creepy. With a week old mustache, some Just for Men--Black, a pair of cheap aviators, I was "Undercover Marc." I couldn't wear the aviators all day because they were giving me a headache but the the picture below gives you the idea.
photo courtesy of Kate
It was so creepy that when grabbing dinner with friends after the race people had a hard time looking me in the face!

I had a weak start again, but it wasn't horrible. I made up a lot of spots in the first quarter mile. For the first half of the race I was moving up and going back and forth with a few guys. One guy passed me and after a lap I couldn't hold his wheel. That was frustrating, and it looks like he placed pretty well in the end. 

Eventually Jake caught up to me and for a couple of laps we road together. 
photo courtesy of Kate

At one point, we were working through some lapped traffic and he got a little gap on me but I started to close it down again. That is when my leg cramped a little and decided to stay straight when I needed to bend it to go over the first uphill barrier. My foot caught the barrier and I hit the ground hard. Real hard. I got up and starting going again but with a lap and a half left, my aspirations of catching Jake were over.

At the same time, I think I gave some hope to the guys behind me, so I still did my best to lay down some power for the rest of the race. In the end I was 9th. Not a great placing again, but top ten in a pretty deep field. I have two, maybe three, more races to see if I can get back up to top five. I think I can.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cross the Domes

Wait, how am I taking a picture of myself while racing? Well, I am not. That is my friend Ryan. He and his wife came to town this weekend to visit and so he took part in his first cx race. Luckily, we are pretty much the same height so he could use one of my bikes and borrow a thermal skinsuit. I have to say it was a little weird seeing a guy out on the course who looked a lot like me.

During his race it was in the low 40's and by the time my race came around it seemed like the temps had dropped even further. Oddly enough I got a call up to the front row for the start, but so did a bunch of other guys. I was in the dead middle and because so many guys were trying to be in the front row, the bars of the guys on both sides of me were jammed up next to mine. I had no idea how I was going to start with people that close.

When the whistle blew I let the guys on both sides of me shoot forward and then I started. It was a bad start. I went from top 8 to 20 something by the time we hit the grass. In the first 1/4 mile I worked hard to get back up near the front. I got close. I must of gotten back up to 11th but I couldn't close the gap to the next group. For a full lap I just hung in limbo, trying to get up to them. Then a guy passed me quick and I didn't react fast enough and he bridged the gap (he also kept moving up).

I had an okay race. I never gave up and tried to track down Angry Andy who was just in front of me but every time I was about to close the gap he would give a little surge too. It isn't the placement I wanted, but the competition is great in the 35+ 1,2,3's this year. What did go great was riding my new bike that Ryan and I finished building Thursday. Check it out here. It rides wonderfully. (the pics don't show that silver Thomson stem is now on the bike) Also, enjoy these videos of the race that Ryan shot.

This is from the 2nd or 3rd lap. Only watch the first 12 seconds. The rest is Ryan trying to get more footage.

This comes from around lap 3 or 4 of 7. I thought the course was awesome, super rough in spots, but the layout was cool. This video has content the full time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday USGP

I really had to work around my work schedule to get out to the USGP this year. So in order to make it happen I needed to race the 2,3's on Sunday morning at 9:30am. That meant getting up early to drive the 1.5 hours but the course was so much fun last year that I was willing to do so.

The conditions were cool--in the low 40's--and sunny. I didn't get a chance to see most of the course before the race so my first lap was rather exploratory. Unlike last year where I started in the 80's this year I was 27th and in the 3rd row. A pretty good spot to be.

I had a good start. Nice and fast but under control and moved up about 5-10 stops in the first 2 turns. Then things slowed down quite a bit in a tech section and there was lots of bumping and pushing going on. Everything was going pretty well. Some guys shot in front of me and then I pulled them back. By the time we got to the run-up the positions were switching much less.

After the the run-up there was a steep downhill turn that I attempted to go through with no brakes. Which was fine until my front tire broke loose from the ground and I slid out. I landed hard and the guy behind me rammed into my back. He asked if I was okay. My reply was, "Yeah, but I broke my pinky."

I've broken it before, which is probably why it stayed straight as I went to the ground, so I knew it was broken. But I could still grip the bike so I kept going. Upon remounting my bike I discovered that my right shifter was turned in about 35 degrees. Amazingly though, everything shifted fine still.

I was clearly going slower now because I couldn't really steer the bike at top performance on either side. But I was staying in it. I raced two more laps until as I was running up the run-up and a guy yells at me "What, are you warming up?" I looked at him inquisitively. He yells back "Where is your number?"

I felt my back. Sure enough, my number was gone. It must have torn free when I went down. No number means they weren't counting my laps. So I stopped riding. Oh well.

This picture isn't a good angle. The shifter was turned much more than this looks.

After the trip to the med tent. It took two tries to pull the joint and bone back into place. I really should have taken a picture of it beforehand, but my phone was in the opposite direction of the med tent and after seeing my pinky, Paul advised that I go get it checked right away.

It is never a good sign when you have a tire track on your back!

I'm sure this post is full of typos, but give me a break, I have a broken pinky and two fingers taped together. I have a week off of racing coming anyway, so I should be good to go by my next race. I don't see it slowing me down all that much.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lake Geneva Cx

I knew Sunday would be long a day. Getting up at 5:55am to be in Brookfield in order to give the message at 3 services usually crushes me by itself on a Sunday, but I wanted to try and get out to the cx race that afternoon even if I would be beat to start. I got to the venue in time to ride the course once between races. It was a great course with transitions all over; sand, grass, gravel. mud, dirt, pavement, a run up, a flyover, and a nice long uphill section.

Photo courtesy of Kate

Figuring out the pressure was a guessing game, especially only getting one look at the course. I ended up a little too low and was squiblly in the transitions.

At the start Maciej did exactly what I thought he would do and what he said he wasn't going to do, he shot off like a bullet. Angry Andy got in front of him. I hopped on 3rd wheel and stayed there until Jeff made a strong move and shot to the front. From there the chase began. It wasn't long and we passed Angry.

I gave chase for a while, but I couldn't close the gap to Maciej. Eventually, Andy H.went around me and I had a hard time following him in the uphill sections. He is riding really well. And that is kind of where it stayed for me the rest of the race. I worked my way through the p,1,2's and created a gap to the guy behind me. 

From now on I am going to act as though every person I see on the course is in my race. I got a little complacent this time and finished with more in the tank. This is cx, that shouldn't happen!

Photo courtesy of Kate

I was sure I finished 4th. The first results had me in 4th, then they posted new results right before the awards and suddenly I was 5th. I asked the guy when he passed me and he didn't seem to remember. I asked the official what happened and she showed me the lap sheet and the guy passing me halfway through the race. I wasn't going to argue about it and let it go. Then I check the official results online today and I am back in 4th. Not sure what happened there.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sheboygan CX: Bumpity Bump Bump

The WI cyclocross season kicked of on Saturday in Sheboygan. It was fantastic to see everyone together again. The course left a little to be desired as most of it was back to back straightaways and 180 degree turns. It has been a dry summer and the grassy field reflected that in the bumpiest, most jarring, cx course I have ever ridden. The highlight of the course was the 50 meter sand downhill followed by the 50 meter sand uphill.

According the numbers we had about 30 guys start the 35+ 1,2,3, although the results only show a little over 20. Still, it was a good sized field for this earlier in the season. I snuck in at the end of the first row for the start.

I had a good start and was third wheel. Mike H. was on the front pushing what could be called a very leisurely cx pace. About 3 minutes in Joe said he was on my wheel. I reply with cool and start looking for a place to pick up the pace. Before I can do it though, Joe jumps, so I jump, not quite bridging the gap  to him yet. And another guy hops on my wheel.

We get to the sand and this is where it all falls apart for me. I had ridden the sand fine in practice, but I don't know if I was pushing it too hard or what but I drove my front wheel into the sand and ended up laying the bike down and dropping my chain. I had my head down fumbling with my chain, got it back on and then started the chase. I thought I was in third at this point. Joe and the eventual winner of the race had a good gap and I could see them working together. I knew catching them wasn't going to happen by myself in the wind, so I started defending third.

Defense wasn't going so well though. I couldn't unclip into the barriers one time and did a sweet barrel roll over the first one (very entertaining for the crowd). I slipped out in a corner trying to make up time and dropped the chain again (I think I solved that problem now) and then, the next time through the sand I drove my front tire deep again had a sweet endo. The worst part is that my shifters got buried in the sand and after coming out my rear was no longer shifting into harder gears anymore.

I spent almost a full lap trying to work the sand out, but ended up just switching to my big ring and leaving it there. After two and a half laps I started to ride like a person who has done this before, and I finally started to think in the sand and lean back on the bike, then getting through became no problem. I was riding better but my body had taken a beating already and my legs were letting me know about it. Yet, I was still in third, or so I thought.

After the race I found out that I was in fourth. I never saw third pass me, but I did see him for most of the race. He was just up the course from me, but I thought he was in the p,1,2 field as I was making my way into it. I never thought I needed to catch him.

I ended up fourth after having a pretty cruddy first 20 minutes and not knowing that I should have been chasing down a guy in front of me. I'd say that is pretty good start to the season. I definetly got the bug to race all I can again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A little drag, maybe?

This year I have ridden differently then I have before. I put in a lot of base miles and did very little intensity besides a few endurance mountain bike races and on a Tuesday night ride that no longer exists and has no name. If that ride did exist, I would have made it to about half of them this year.

I also started using power because I got a crazy deal on a Powertap and I already had a Garmin. Training with power has been very helpful, thus far, I think. All of this to hopefully have a great cx season where I can improve every race until our little girl comes along.

By not doing much intensity I feel as though I am unsure of where I am shape-wise. I can ride forever comfortably, but I don't feel like I have any pop yet. Last night, I rode with a bunch of oddly dressed fellows for 40 miles. As we rolled out, I noticed that my rear wheel was a bit squishy, I am guessing it was in the 80psi range. It made for a cushy feel on my 28mm tires. Well, when the bell rang, the intensity picked up and I stopped thinking about my tires and starting thinking about the pain.

I had a hard time pulling through consistently and spent more time than normal sucking the draft. I had to keep reminding myself that these guys are almost done with their race season and mine is just beginning. By the end, I was happy to stay with the group and not get dropped on the hills.

This morning I plugged in the Garmin and checked out the data. From the bell ring to the end (an hour and twenty four minutes) my average power was 308 and the normalized power was 354. I'm a big guy, so my wattage is always skewed a bit higher, but seriously, talk about resistance training! That sort of wattage shouldn't have had me just holding on, I should have been pulling through constantly and pushing the pace.

Maybe my legs are better right now than I thought. The season starts in a week so I'll find out soon!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wausau 24 2012

This year of racing I have been more laid back than ever before. I have put very little effort into preparing for races and have seen them as chances to have fun and build fitness for cx. The funny part is that this has been my best season of racing yet. Along with Scott I won two duo long WEMS mtb races, I won a solo 6 hour mtb race, and took third in a 60 mile mtb race. Whatever it is that I have been doing, or not doing, seems to be working, so I stayed on the same track for the Wausau 24 race.

One of the things that I have been doing right is riding with strong teammates and Wausau 24 was no exception. Matt G., Anna and Sanjay G. and I lined up for the 24 hour coed race. I think we all knew we had a chance of doing well, but once Anna came through on her first lap with a time that was faster than a lot of the guys out there we knew we had a chance to win.

Matt and Sanjay were crushing laps like the elite riders they are and Anna kept turning in really fast times. I maxed out my ss and turned in decent times. By 12 hours in we had a 15 minute lead on second place in our category and we found ourselves in first place overall! Then the night laps hit and endurance really became a factor. We faltered slightly on a few laps and opened the door to second place in our field and were bumped to third overall (that was inevitable though).

Thankfully, even though my gear was maxed out in the daylight, at night that same gear gave me some fast laps. My night laps were only 2-3 minutes slower than my day laps. Plus, even though Sanjay thought he couldn't give any more for the laps he went out on, he kept crushing his night laps.

We found ourselves in first place by about 15-20 minutes with 3 laps left. Anna was willing to do a 7th lap but we worked out a deal where she would clean up the camp if I doubled up at the end and did 8 laps instead. I was feeling pretty good the whole race and never cramped or got tight legs so I knew I could double up.

We had discussed my stopping after our 27th lap if the lead was large enough, but that morning it rained a little and the previously loose and dusty trails were now riding great. I could finally kind of corner. I was going out for an 8th lap either way.

I came through on my 7th lap and Mike and Matt said we were in first by 17 minutes. I thought they said 7 minutes, so instead of taking a somewhat leisurely 8th lap I did what I could to keep the pace up, always assuming that second place was catching me. I came through on our 28th lap in 24:28:42. We won our category by about 13 minutes and we took 3rd overall! You can get to all the results here.

It was a great way to end my mtb race season (besides the Bl@ster). It was a ton of fun to hang out with everyone for the weekend and to get to know people better. Our team was in agreement that we would leave the 24 hour game on top. Next year I think I want to go back for the weekend, but do a 12 or 6 hour instead. I am still dealing with the sleep deprivation. I think it would have been easier to ride 8 laps straight instead of spreading them out over 24 hours and getting about an hour and a half of sleep in that same amount of time.

Next up, cx starts in September!

Monday, July 23, 2012

John Muir WEMS

John Muir is always a lot of fun because so many people I love hanging out with seem to show up. It was another hot one Saturday. I was happy to be transitioning out of the long solo races to do some team races. Hot laps on a day like Saturday sounded much better then a heated death slog. Scott and I teamed up for the 75 mile duo, which was in reality well over 80 miles.

We found out when we got there that they shortened the lap from 13ish miles to 7.5ish (more like over 8) miles. Instead of switching off every lap Scott and I decided to double them up. It worked well and we were both pretty consistent with our times. We switched roles from Levis where Scott was crushing laps and I was just getting them done, this time I was crushing the laps. 2:1 was a great gear until the last lap and getting up the hills fast was a bit of a task. Luckily, Mike C. chased me around on my last lap (even though he was taking the day off) and kept my pace up.

We almost did the 80+ miles in under 6 hours. When I crossed the line it said 4:05 which gave us a time of 6 hours and five minutes. We were moving pretty good and got another win! It has been a great year so far!

Next up, Wausau24 with a 4 person coed team.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stump Farm

Last Saturday was race number 2 of 4 races in 5 weeks for me. I did the 60 mile solo.

The course at Stump Farm is the polar opposite of Underdown. Underdown is almost constantly rough with 2,000 feet of climbing per 14 mile'ish lap, while Stumpfarm is smooth (except for 1.3 miles of new trail) and flowly with less than 2,000 feet of climbing for the whole 60 mile race. It was a beautiful sunny day in the mid 80's.

I knew going into the race that ss wasn't going to win. At least not me on a ss. There was far too much double track on which to lose time. After getting some recon from Scott, 2:1 was the call on gearing. So my goal was to average 13.5 mph for the race. Once again, my plan was to go out at my pace and not burn a match at the start.

Mike and Chad took off at the start and I quickly dropped back about 30 seconds off of them. However, once we got into the single track I made up some time and caught them. From there we worked together for the 1st lap. At that point I think there were 4 or 5 guys in front of us. Mike was geared so he did a lot of work on the flats for Chad and I since we were both on 2:1 ss.

Chad stopped after lap one to grab water and Mike and I kept going, however I told Chad I would see him in a bit and sure enough I did, about 1 mile into lap two. When he caught up Mike dropped off, he wasn't feeling it that day. Chad and I proceeded to work together for the next 4 laps.

And work together we did! We were slaying the single track and not doing too bad on the fire roads. We passed many a person as if they were stopped. Lap 4 was our slowest lap and it was my fault. I had a gas bubble I couldn't shake. Shortly after the start of lap 5 I finally found some relief and we picked up the pace again. We were a minute faster on lap 5 than on 4.

The last lap Chad fell off a little, I yelled back for him to get back on but he sort of dangled. I thought if I pushed the pace we would both go faster and just maybe we could catch somebody else. In the end I finished about 40 seconds ahead of Chad and in 3rd place. My final time was a 4:37:14 for about 64 miles. I averaged 14.1 mph! I also stopped for less than a minute during the whole ride compared to 20 minutes at Underdown. The two guys in front crushed it and finished about 15 minutes ahead of me. I have to say, it was great to be able to race with Chad for almost the whole race. It really made the race fly by.

Next up John Muir!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Thunderdown in the Underdown

Saturday I drove up to Underdown hoping to hit my goal of 4 laps in 6 hours. The organizers posted an elevation map of one lap and it was 13 miles with 2,000ish feet of climbing. I thought if I could average 9 miles an hour I would have time to stop and refuel every lap and still get 4 laps. It was a lofty goal, but a goal non the less.

The goal of 4 laps was shot out the window at the pre-race meeting when we were told that laps were actually 13-14 miles long. I would have been pushing it at 13 miles so a 14 mile lap met a 3 lap race. I, however, stuck to my plan and went out slow, thinking if I felt good I woul try to place well in lap 3.

Maciej was going to ride with me from the start, but he was geared and I was on a single speed, so during the roll out he took off while I was passed by most of the group going into the single track. The first mile was a little frustrating because the course was so hilly and the folks in front of me were having a hard time clearing some of the punchy rises. I ended up walking 3-4 times. Once I got clear though, I settled into my pace. Not going too hard and just getting up the long climbs, not trying to crush anything. I stopped at the aid station and loaded up on water every lap and stopped at the start/finish to reload.

My second lap was uneventful until I caught Maciej at the aid station. He wasn't feeling too well, the heat and the rough terrain were getting to him. We road together for a while. He said I was in first place, which I didn't understand since there were a couple of guys I hadn't seen yet. Turns out they accidentally cut the course (which they made up by doing the skipped section twice their third lap). After a mile or two Maciej peeled off my wheel and I was on my own again.

I took Maciej at his word, after all he would know if he was in first or not from the start, so I went into my third lap thinking I should just keep it together and ride within my comfort zone. One thing you have to understand is that this course was rough and constantly up and down, for the first 2 laps I was standing 90% of the time. By lap 3, I just couldn't stand as much any more and I stood maybe 80% of the lap. Therefore I slowed down a bit. I caught 2 people in the last 14 miles of the race, so I was by myself a long time, which also slowed me down. Until the last 20 minutes of the race, when I my co2 started to clang around funny in my seat bag and I got paranoid that someone was catching me. I hit it hard and finished pretty strong.

The laps ended up being closer to 14.5 miles, there was no way I was getting 4 done! I won the 6 hour solo with 3 laps in 5:21:02.This means I stopped and refueled for almost 20 minutes because my ride time was 5:02. That worked well with such a difficult course. I don't see the same thing working next Saturday at Stumpfarm.

Also, I have to give congratulations to Scott Marx who won the WI Single Speed Championship with a rigid fork! Ouch!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Levis Duo

It was a hot one Saturday at Levis. My Garmin said the max temp was 95. For my first race of the year I signed up for the 100 mile duo with Scott. I haven't done much in the way of hard efforts yet this year so I figured is was going to hurt a bit. I had the first lap and decided to start out easy. I passed about 10 people the first lap and came through the start finish around the 4th rider and first in the duo. (Some of the 100 mile solo guys were laying it down!)

Scott wasn't sure how his knee or his cracked frame were going to hold up. It turns out, that he would be just fine. He was flying through the laps. His third lap, I was waiting for him to come through so I could do my last lap. Now, my plan was to take it easy my last lap since we had a pretty comfy lead but Scott had different plans. He wasn't coming through and it was already 20 minutes past his average times. I was fearing the worse, then I saw him coming through--running. He broke a chain.

So my last lap I did what I could. I felt fresh for the first 6 miles, likely because of the gallon of water I drank since my previous lap. I had no idea if Scott was going to be able to do another lap and I was dreading doing another, but I thought I had better get a good lead if I had to.

Much to my delight, Scott was waiting there when I came through. He fixed his chain and was ready to go. He crushed his 4th lap. We won the race by about 7 minutes!

I wasn't the fastest on Saturday, but it's June and I think I am in a pretty good spot to have a strong Fall.

P.S. Also, I have two more exciting things to share that might seem odd to share as a postscript. First, my book is out! you can buy it here. Second, I can now share this on the web because Lauren told her work, we are having our first kid!

Friday, May 25, 2012


Bone Ride 2012
Photo by Ronsta

This past Wednesday I took part in a Wisconsin tradition for the first time, I rode the Bone Ride. It's an annual ride from Milwaukee to Madison and back. It works out to be 158 miles. Ron has done the ride before so he showed me the ropes and made sure I made it back in one piece. I was thankful to have a friend and teammate watching out for me. He, of course, did the whole thing on a single speed. Well, almost the whole thing, he hopped on the ride 17 miles in. I tacked on a few more miles by riding home from the starting point and ended up with 164 miles in 8 hours and 20 minutes. (Sorry, Ryan, no data this time because my computer somehow lost it.)

It was a beautiful day with a strong crosswind. Everyone was fighting for a draft which made a lot of the ride kind of sketchy. I am happy I did it though. It wrapped up my real long base rides for the year. In the past 14 weeks I had twelve 5 hour+ rides, a 4 hour ride, and a 3 1/2 hour ride. They have mostly been easy miles. I've never gotten a base in like that before so I am curious to see how this season goes. I start racing in 2 weeks!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I haven't posted much yet this year so here is a little update. As a lark--and to establish a good base for the year--I planned twelve weeks of getting a five hour ride in once a week. Today was week eleven. I did 64 miles (103k) of trail in the Southern Kettles and I felt really good. Granted, I am not flying on these long rides but I can now see the results in my endurance. I should be in good shape for the Bone Ride next week which will be between 175 and 150ish miles, depending on where I start.

After that, racing begins and I"ll start getting a little more serious about riding fast. I wasn't planning on doing any solo six hour mtb races this year, but after today's ride maybe I'll try to keep this endurance up.

In other news, I am now one of those nerds with a powertap. The deal at Ben's (there selling like hotcakes) was too good to pass up. I'll start using that more seriously in June as well and if I am feeling extra dorkish I'll post some numbers here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

First time out!

Southern Kettles
I got out to the Southern Kettles for the first time on my new day off, Thursday. The only better place to get some thinking done than a 5 hour ride at the Kettles is a dry ice factory. (kudos to anyone that can name that reference!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gun Show Number One

GunShow 4.3
Photo by Ronsta

The first Gun Show was last night and you could tell it was a mild Winter because it was fast. I pretty much felt like what I thought would for most of the ride. I was able to contribute to the pace line but not really go for any of the sprints.

I did have to back off for a bit after a I did a hard uphill pull. It was there I learned that half a pound of guacamole for dinner was a bad idea. I couldn't stop eating though. However, now that I now what it tastes like when it threatens to reappear on the bike, I think I will be able to control myself in the future.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another Warm Ride

How does this happen?
How does this happen?

I would like to hear this story
I would like to hear this story.

2:29.10, this seems like a good enough spot to turnaround
2:29.10, this seems like a good enough spot to turnaround

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Five hours of fun


Got out on Saturday for a five hour ride in the sun and wind with some friends. It was so windy that at times it was like getting punched in the gut while going up hills. One time I nearly went over the bars because a strong gust caught my bike. These are the days that make you mentally and physically stronger.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Waking up and rubbing my eyes

This blog has been in a bit of hibernation after CX nationals but it looks as though that will change soon. "Why is that?" you may ask. Well, I started my hours at Ben's Cycles again and that can only mean one thing--the bike season is fast approaching.

I've done heard talk of the Gun Show already. People are getting amped up to ride it again. It begins in less than a month and I have a feeling that because of the mild Winter it is going to start out faster than ever. I better start getting some time on the bike if I want to stay with the group.

I've got races picked out and lined up for the year (except CX, since the schedule isn't out yet) and I will be doing a mix of races. I probably won't fit any WORS in this year but I will be doing a gravel race, a team 24 hour mtb race, some WEMs races (both solo and team), and all the CX I can fit into life. In the schedule this year is also my possible return to road racing and a trip across WI.

Until those races hit I'll be hitting Ray's up every week trying to fine tune my awesome. The trick is get awesome, but not too awesome. When you get too awesome you usually end up not being able to get anywhere near awesome for a while.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Ray's 2.15
Photo by Ronsta

Getting awesome at Ray's.

Friday, February 3, 2012

January is Over

Well, I have been sitting around for about a month now. I've hit the gym a few times, ridden a bike a few times, and consumed more sugar than I did in all of 2011 (I ate nearly an entire kringle myself the other day).

It looks pretty clear that cross country skiing isn't going to happen for me this year either (what a weird Winter?!?). If it's going to be this kind of Winter party I'm going to ride my bike.

Hit me up if you want to get out for some slow and low.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow Bike Enduro

last lap

That's the look of someone having a blast in the middle of Winter. This past weekend was loaded with awesome. All because of the wonderful folks with whom I was spending time. Laser tag on Friday night, Snow Bike Enduro on Saturday, and great worship on Sunday.

The Enduro was even more fun than last year and this year Lauren made it out too. I believe I saw around 32 teams, which means there were almost 100 riders! The weather was spectacular and the course was difficult but ridable. I had the pleasure of being on Jon's team again and this time we added Ben to the mix.

Team 5

The bonfire was warm, the Lakefront Big Easy was tasty, people were laughing, and riders were crashing in the snow right in front of camp. I was one of those riders. I caught some sweet air on the big downhill finish, landed it, and then had too much speed going into the corner of doom. I fell in slow motion and then hopped up and struck the landing to the applause of the judges. There's first hand video of it too! Perhaps I can get my hands on it from Jon and post it here later.

Maciej and his team came away with the win after the three-way tie was broken by double elimination Indian Leg Wrestling. (special note, never challenge Uncle John to a leg wrestling match as he will end you with extreme prejudice)


Lauren has more photos and will get them posted soon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


So, you may notice in the bar to the right under "Places of Interest" that there is a new link called "Life on the Island." If you were to follow that "link," you end up on another "blog" written by "me." (Sorry, I got a little quotation mark crazy there for a second, but I'm better now.)

What? Why, you may ask? Simple, I needed a place to discuss my authorial endeavors that wasn't also a bike blog because my authorial endeavors are not about bikes. So check it out if you like. And if you don't care, tell someone who might.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cx Nationals

I woke up on Saturday tired; tired of being sick and tired pretending to train. So, I was resolved as I drove out to Verona for the Cyclocross Nationals 35-39 Masters race that I was going to focus on having fun and leaving it all out on the course.

The course conditions changed for every race and for our race it was going to be a mix of peanut butter mud and slick spots. I knew the first lap was going to be chaos, especially starting 5 rows back, so I planned on being cautious so I wouldn't be taken out of the race in a crash.

Being cautious appeared to be smart and I avoided many a rider going down wildly in front of me. The conditions were challenging and there was very little where constant power wasn't being put down. I was in the groove of things and moving up when my race was cut short by the officials. The details are all a bit sketchy and I am not going to focus on what happened.

Instead, I want say how great it was to be able to hang out and race with Joe, Mike, Ron and the whole Knutowski caravan, Jeff, Travis, Eric, Chris, Andy, Heidi, Sanjay, Maciej, Kate, Marcin, and anyone I missed. Then there are the too many to list people that made the whole season as fun and successful as it was all season long. Wisconsin has a great and growing cx scene.

After having a pitiful year last year due to real health reasons (13, 23, 13, DNF, 21, DNF) my goals were simple this year. Be able to finish in the middle of the pack even when I am not feeling good. Between the on and off cold and numerous tire issues I would say I was pretty successful in reaching my goals, maybe even a little better than I expected.

My week off the bike (not counting the park bike) began with this.

That's right, Clutch beer from New Belgium. The last bottle of a delicious dark sour ale that I have been saving. I also thawed out the cookies from Christmas that I didn't eat. I pretty much took last week off because of the cold so after taking this next week off I should be about 5 lbs heavier and ready to slowly start riding again. Heck, maybe if it ever snows in WI I'll even get to ski!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Getting the word out

In an attempt to learn more ideas and get the word out about my upcoming book The Island in the Confluence, I am on the twitters and the facebooks now(again). I haven't been on either for years and I am not totally sure how I feel about being back on them now.

Do me a favor and make it worth my while at least. Seek me out in those venues if are on them. Spread the word too, if you would.

I'll start sharing more information about my book soon. If you are curious, please ask.

Monday, January 2, 2012

NYE Chicago cx

photo by Rockwell

I hemmed and hawed about trying to make this race. It was going to be a surgical strike if I went; just enough time to race and then head home for other responsibilities. My results don't show how well the race went for me, but I am glad I went.

For the past month, at least, I have had a little cold. Nothing that would stop me from doing anything, but just annoying and hanging around. That is until last week, when for Christmas my niece and nephew gave me something nasty. It was bad enough to make me slow down and take some time off on Thursday and Friday. It feels the same as the cold I had at the costume cx race, I just can't take a deep breath. But I was already signed up for the race, the season is almost over, and my last race lasted 3 minutes, so I was a bit determined to make it.

I made good time to Chicago and for the most part I felt okay, other than the deep dry coughing and inability to take a deep breath. I wasn't going to let it take me out of the race mentally. The venue itself was awesome: heated bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers. And the course was cool too, I didn't get a chance to see most of it before the race though. It had numerous 50 foot long 4-5inch deep mud sections, a super muddy hill, and somewhat hard packed sand traps that had huge lips on the exit that if you didn't almost bunny hop out of, you were going over your bars.

I started in the second row and had a good start. I was 5th or 6th wheel going into the 3rd turn when a guy (and I am still not sure how he did it) pushed me off the line in a gravel corner so I had to soft pedal. A train of guys blew by and I went from 5th or 6th to 15th. It seems as though some guys are actually peaking now for Nationals and Masters Worlds, so it was a fast first lap as I went to work to try and move up.

After 2 laps I was battling it out with one guy. I knew I was riding the course smoother than he was because I could hear him braking everywhere. In the long mud pits I had more power too and would get little gaps on him. But here is where the cold got frustrating. My legs felt great, in fact they never really never got tired (or even sore the rest of the day) but I was breathing like was I being chased by a bear. I couldn't access the actual power in my legs.

With 2 to go the other guy rode the backside of the hill, when I ran it, and got a good gap on me. By the end of that lap another guy had caught me. When he did, I let him lead thinking I would let him take me around the course. We got to the backside of the hill, he ran it and I rode it. I got a good gap, but I couldn't keep the speed up. My front shifter was too jammed up to get into the big ring so I was left to spin like crazy, tough to do when you can't breathe. We hit the final straight and he eased by me doing half the rpm's I was. I rolled in 12th.

Disappointing placement, but fun course and good times. Plus, even though I didn't feel good I was able to mix it up in the top third of the field. Next Saturday is Nationals for me. Right now it looks like I line up 41st out 71. I know I can move up from there, the question is just how far?