Friday, May 26, 2006

Buck Hill Thursday #4

The weather was beautiful and the course perfect for another night at Buck. Jeff Hall showed up along with the normal cast and crew. This time we were going “backwards” up the steep nasty climb on the south side of Buck. At the gun, Fisher took off per the norm and a line of Paul Hanson, me, Jeff Hall, and my brother formed. After weaving through the single track, Ben started to fade. At the beginning of the second lap, Fisher got stuck on a root. He let Paul, Jeff, and I go past (in that order). Paul put the pedal to the metal and a small gap to Fisher formed. Nothing changed for the rest of the race including the small gap to Chris. Paul and Jeff hammered the one big hill where any passing could have taken place on the last lap, I was redlined (Paul said he was too!). The three of us rode home for a sprint finish…well not like a Mario Cipollini style sprint, but the equivalent for a Thursday at Buck given all the lapped traffic=) Here is us winding up the sprint just after exiting the single track (I stold the pic from Paul's blog and it was taken by his dad I think)...

I would have liked the win, but I am happy to have ridden a hard pace with Jeff and Paul. I think Jeff has been training really hard, and I anticipate that he will do really well at the next National now that he has a second row call up. Paul finally is feeling better from the cough that was keeping him down. The explosive climbing I saw out of him was reminiscent of last year…at least I was able to hang on for the ride this year=)

In other news, I have a funny story from my wifes classroom:

So yesterday, Jen was giving a year end test to a little kid in her kindergarten class here is the conversation -
Jen- I need you to spell "but".
Kid - (laughing) that is funny
Jen - Yes, but I need you to spell it
Kid - ok (kid writes)
Jen - (pics up paper and starts to laugh) are you sure that his how to spell "but"
Kid - (with a straight face) yes, "but", P-O-O-P, "but"
The kid had no idea what was so funny.

This weekend Jen, Chris, Jen, and I (and maybe some Kato crew) are headed up to Spirit Mt for some camping, biking, beer, brats, etc…they still have sites available if anyone wants to join us. The campsites are on the top of the mountain overlooking Superior, Duluth, and the Lake.

No races for me until next Thursday, with the 2nd MNSCS race on Sunday.

Have a great holiday weekend. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

MNSCS #1 Erik's Spring Cup

Yesterday the MNSCS kicked off at Harmon Park in Inver Grove Heights. This is the first of the ten race series. I will be honest here…I wasn’t looking forward to the race, not because the single track is boring…it is actually very fast and flows well. The reason I was a little skeptical was the fact that there were no hills or any obvious way to split up the field before hitting the fun singletrack. Well, I have to hand it to the guys at MORC who set up the prologue. They found a way to maximize the lead out given the space that they had, which made all the difference.
Ok, on to the race...we lined up with a ~45 man deep expert field…including the likes of Paul Hanson, Justin Rinehart, Doug Swanson, TJ Woodruff, Chris Fisher, Jay Richards, Hollywood. The list could go on. Like I said, the prologue did a good job of splitting us up. Hollywood gave us the ceremonial lead out with Doug, Justin, Chris, Ben (my bro) and myself following close behind. By the time we hit the single track the order was Doug, Chris and I with Hollywood, Ben, and Justin right behind. A ferociously fast first lap put us all in the hurt, but much to my surprise, the field split up quickly. I was really expecting long lines of riders that would stay together for the entire race. 2/3 of the way through the first lap, Doug was starting to get away, so Chris let me by. I had to put in an effort, maybe to much of one, to catch him. When I caught him I rode comfortably for about a lap. Doug would slip away a little on the flats, and I would reel him back on twisty stuff. Chris yo-yoed off us by 10-15 seconds…in the second lap Doug started to turn the screws and I didn’t want to over do it so early. I let him go a little, but not out of site. The 3rd through 5th laps were pretty uneventful. I just put my head down and pedaled hard, and I tried to ride the sometimes silly-twisty singletrack as smoothly as possible. I was about 30-45 seconds from Doug and Chris was the same distance back from me.
At the beginning of the last lap, the gap to Doug had grown to 1 minute…I didn’t let up. I knew the gap was getting bigger to Chris, but I couldn’t tell if he had some reserves left for that last lap. In the end it was a quiet solo finish for second place 30 seconds behind Doug and 1:30 back to Chris. The biggest surprise/thrill for me was seeing Ben cross in 4th. He put a move on Hollywood and Justin in the last lap and soloed it home...check out the picture of the move.
Jen got the biggest smile award on the day=)
If you consider the fact that Chris is going to join the Velo Rochester team (he just needs a jersey when our new team kits arrive=), Velo Rochester took 2,3,4 at the race…SWEET!
Results are posted here:
Thanks to my wife Jen for doing handoffs for 5 different racers!

Next up is Buck Hill on Thursday….no race planned for next weekend. What the heck are we gonna do? =)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Another Tough Fight at Buck

I was excited to see dry weather with temperatures only about 5-10 degrees below normal after a weekend of pretty cool wet racing. I got excited too soon….5 minutes before the race started, the rain started. On the drive over it was 65 degrees…the rain at the start brought the temp down to 58 (according to Paul Hanson’s Polar). While sitting at the start line, I was actually shivering=( I get cold easy I guess.
Anyway, on to the race….it started out per the norm…Chris Fisher busted a move, Paul and I followed as quickly as we could. Chris’s starts have been so fast that the field just splits up almost immediately. My legs almost locked up on the climb because they had gotten so cold sitting on starting line. Paul and I proceeded to close the small gap Chris and then we rode together for the next lap. In the second lap, the pace in the single track slowed, not only were things getting slick, but as I found out later, Chris sat up a little to save some energy for the climbs. When we hit the gravel/paved climb that goes up over the back of the hill, I gave it some serious gas. As Phil Ligget would say, “that man is turning his pedals in anger!” I put about 10-15 seconds on Chris and Paul in about a minute. I rolled the backside single track and came up to the last climb were I went as hard as I could Chris pretty much held the gap. I gained another 15 seconds or so over the lap and ended about 30 seconds up on him. The results won’t show this though because my number ripped off due to the wetness (many of them did), so when I got to the finish line we had to search the list for my number and my time didn’t register until we found it. When Chris came across, he pulled what looked like a wet Kleenex out of his jersey…it was his number=) Paul rolled in 3rd not very far back, with Sam O in fourth. It was another hard fought messy battle and I was happy to come out on top.

Next up is Saturday at Harmon Park for the NASCAR… I mean MNSCS race.
For now, I am tired…time for some z’s.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Stage 17

Now this is what I call road racing...stage 17 of the Giro is up a gravel climb with sections of sustained 20%+ graded! Check out these pictures.... the top isn't even paved yet=)

This makes the climb at Oxbow Climb look like a small pimple. I read that most teams are riding cassettes with 32-34 tooth big cogs...I hope they don't finish paving the last part. Wouldn't that make it epic?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Wrapping Up another Week

This weekend rather than drive 7 hours for a 1.5 hour race (Cable Classic), I drove to Mankato for some racing.
Saturday was the Mud Madness XC at Mt.Kato…the name was quite fitting. While there were only about 15 racers, it the field included names like Hanson, Fisher, Rients, Sam O, and my brother. From the start, Paul lead us around the course. I had only ever ridden the course once before (last years MNSCS race) so I was content to let Paul show us the way on his home court. The track was very muddy and sucked every bit of energy out of the legs even on the flats…the descents induced two-wheel slides and demanded no mistakes. Fisher and Rients yo-yoed of off the back of Paul and I for three laps. Here is a picture of Paul leading Chris and I up Mt. Kato Climb for the last time.

At the top of the last Mt Kato climb I wanted to take the pace up a notch. I passed Paul, and we continued to ride together. After 10 minutes, we had a pretty good gap on Fisher and couldn’t see Rients. On the last climb, appropriately call “The Staircase,” I pushed the pace a notch higher to be sure that Fisher didn’t catch us, but the effort put Paul in the red. I was riding in the big ring (the middle ring was unusable due to the mud causing chain suck) so my pace stayed quick, and I cruised home from there. Paul came in second not to far back – he notified me that for the 1.5 hour race his average HR was 187, WOW! – Fisher rolled in behind Paul to round out the podium. Here is how I looked afterwards...

I was happy to extend the winning streak to 4 wins, but it wasn’t time to celebrate, as a TT and STXC followed on Sunday.

Saturday night we spent cleaning bikes before we headed to a friends house for a going away party…Ben and I were hungry and ate a lot of cookies with chips and salsa on the side=)

Sunday morning, we drove back to Mt. Kato. My legs were not what I would call fresh, but they weren’t completely flat. The TT was basically 2 laps of the course we did the previous day except backwards. This meant climbing up 2 sets of switchbacks that go from the bottom of the hill to the top. The same core group showed up for the TT…Ben was my 2 minute man (he started 2 min ahead of me), Fisher my one minute man, and Justin Rienhart was 1 minute behind me (he was sick and opted out of the XC on Sat). The TT went fine. I would liked to have raced the 9.9, as it is better for short hard efforts, but I had already muddied up the Fuel on the previous day so I brought that. I started out and settled in to a nice TT pace, by that I mean I was red-lined. I came across the line about 40 minutes later…12 seconds slower than Fisher! It was a great first win of the year for Chris. Justin rounded out the podium with Ben taking fourth. After the race, I felt like I was going to toss my cookies…the feeling didn’t subside so I opted out of the STXC. In that race, Fisher took his second win of the day with Justin next and Ben hot on his tail. It was actually the first expert/open class mountain bike race I have ever watched, and it was fun to see other people suffering for once=)
Summary: I raced 3 out of the last 4 days -all very intense, Got 4th win in a row, Fisher ended the streak and had a great day Sunday, and Ben was flying both days and will a force to be reckoned with in the near future. Results will be posted at

Next week will bring Buck Hill on Thursday and the first MNSCS race on Saturday….
For now, I need rest.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Another Win! 3 Now=)

I had to work really hard for this one. The weather last night was 50 degrees with a 30mph wind – gusting to 40..but no rain at least. Usually when mountain biking, wind is a non-factor because of trees, slow speed, etc, but the main climb at Buck Hill went directly into the wind. Combine the weather with a tough field (Paul Hanson, Jesse Rients, Chris Fisher, the Oftedahl boys, among others) and I had my work cut out for me.
We lined up near the very bottom of the hill and I made the HUGE mistake of lining up in the middle. We start out on a gravel road…the problem was that the middle where I lined up was extra loose. I didn’t think this mistake would be a big deal, but when the start beep went off, I found myself going backwards…it was like riding on a trainer. If I stood, my back tire just spun in place; if I sat and put a lot of force on the pedals, the same thing happened. I was in about 12th place as we neared the crest of the climb, which is not where you want to be. Finally I started to get some traction, and I gave her some gas…as we crested the hill, I could see Paul and Chris riding away…I gave her more gas and flew past about 8 guys to catch those two. The downside to such and effort was that I was totally gassed for most of the singletrack the first lap…ouch! By the time we hit the final climb up over the backside of the hill, I had recovered, and it was just Paul Chris and I. We couldn’t see anyone else. At that point Chris put in a all out effort on the climb. I followed, and Paul did not. From there, Fisher and I rode the next lap and a half together. On the third of four laps, I was able to get a little gap in the single track, but then I got a stick stuck in my spoke….rather than trashing my rear wheel and my new beautiful red carbon frame=), I stopped to pull it out and Chris basically caught me. It went on like this until the north single track in the final lap, where I put my nose to the grindstone and opened up a 30 second gap. Unfortunately, my legs felt dead on the climbs (which the usually do in cold conditions so I wasn’t too surprised) so the singletrack was where I had to put the pressure on. Anyway, I rolled ‘er home from there only beating Chris by 30 seconds. Paul Hanson came in next followed by Sam O. I keep saying it, but watch out for Chris. We did a lot of early season base training together and I can see it paying off for him big time.
In other race notes, Jen Meyers said she got in a fight with a tree and won??…but there were 2 scabs on her face, so I would hate to see that tree.
Results are posted here:
There were lots of pics being taken throughout the race...I will post some if I find them.

Change of plans for me this weekend…I am headed to Mankato for and XC Sat and TT, STXC Sunday rather than the Cable Classic. Cable would have been fun, but it is much closer and my brother gets home from college that day. H would have to do a ton of driving to make it. Also, Jen’s dad’s retirement party is Friday night (way to go BOB!), so we would have to leave at 5:30 am on Sat after a night of whoopin’ it up =)
Thanks for reading…hopefully it gets warm soon…

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Elk River - Two Wins in a Row!

I was looking forward to a two hour off-road race this weekend because, until now, I have done a road racing, a TT, and a Buck Hill shorter race. Every year, there are 2 races up at Hillside park in Elk River (one in the spring and one in the fall). The course is fun and makes you work, a lot like the Platteville TT (or the Mammoth or Eastwood Park if you are familiar with those), so I couldn't resist.
I brought both the fuel and 9.9, as I couldn't decide which rocketship to ride. I pre-rode the 9.9 and it was screamin' so I decide to leave the Fuel in the quiver...until next weekend.
There were probably only ~50 people total and only 8 in the open mens field...a nice low key, grass roots affair. We took of from the start and there is a flat gravel road lead out until a sharp left onto single track...after that you never leave the single track. I lead out the group and took us into the single track. It took about 5 minutes before it was just Chris and I. From that point on I pretty much just set a pace...Chris hung on for a while, but then I started to gap him. After 1 lap, the gap grew to 1:20, then 2:00. I only know this cause Jen Meyers was doing handoffs for me and she kept both Chris and I updated - an aside, I ejected 2 water bottles, so Jen was a savior and kept the fresh bottles coming. Thanks Jen!
In the end I rolled across the line in first. Chris came in second about 5-6 minutes later...he had some cramping going on the last lap.
I felt good the whole race and was pleased with my sustained effort over the 2 hours. I can't complain about two wins in a row this early on=)
The Blast website will have the results (
Another equipment note...I tried some of the brand new Nike Pro bibs out (thanks Matt) and holy crap, they are sweet...light weight, super breathable suspenders, and a 100% improved fit from the last version. If you are in or near Rochester and are willing to shell out good money to keep your butt happy on long rides, stop by Rochester Cycling and Fitness ( to pick some of these up.
This week brings another Buck Hill race and the Cable Classic this weekend.
Have a good one!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Back at Buck!

The Buck Hill series kicked off today and I was pumped to get things rolling out there again. 130 people showed up on a bluster cool day for some fun and racing. This was the debut for the 9.9 on the dirt, and it performed admirably. I definitely think that a hardtail is the right bike for that course.
I don’t know how big the field was for the advanced mens category (results were lost but will be posted tomorrow on, but it was fairly large anyway. At the starting line, I was surrounded by at least 10 Penn Cycle jerseys…it was good to see a lot of familiar faces again. A little about the race…the race was three laps, which was a good choice, as my finishing time was over an hour.
From the start, Chris Fisher went off like a crazy man…big ring, out of the saddle, etc. After less than 10 minutes of racing we had a sizeable gap. He started to slow a little, and I yelled at him, “Keep it rollin’ “ and he did! Clearly, all his hard work in the winter and early season is starting to pay out. When we hit the final pavement climb he turned to me and said “Go nuts.” I punched it a little but he wasn’t more then 15 seconds back as we hit the backside single track. I never really looked back from there. I had some trouble flowing through the fresh cut single track that we rode, but other than that, I just set stiff pace. In the end I rolled across the line solo a minute or two up on Fisher, who rode 2 laps with 15psi in his rear tire. Jesse Rients rounde out the top 3 with a strong ride as well. Well, it was nice to get the first win of the season, but now it is time to hit the sack.
Thanks for reading=)