Sunday, August 27, 2006

VeloRochester 24 Hours of Afton Champs!!

"Why would you do a 24 hour mountain bike race?" Many have asked me that, and I always answer “Because it is fun!” Most racers will agree that when you have to head out for a lap at 2am, you begin questioning what the heck you are doing. However, 24 Hour races are truly very fun and have the most enjoyable atmosphere of any type of racing I have done. If you want to call anyone crazy, call those Solo riders crazy=) At least I was on a 4-man tag team.
After am morning filled with cars not starting, flights being missed, and stormy weather, we were all happy just to congregate at our team camp with a full team.
Our team consisted of Ben (my brother), Chris, and Ben Portilla who flew in from Colorado. Ben P was on our team last year and we wanted him back, and he obliged. The course was the same as last year except for 1 section of singletrack about 25 feet long and the removal of bypasses (last year they had work-arounds for some of the more technical sections). The length of the course was about 8 miles and included approximately 1000 feet of climbing. The climbing is fun but not too technical. The descents definitely test even the elite riders at high speed.

My brother started the race for us. After a "Oh Crap!" moment when he couldn't find his bike in the Le Mans start (you have to run a distance to get your bike), he rode a strong lap and came across with a NICE lead of about 1 minute. I put it down pretty hard and rolled 1 of two sub-37 minute laps in the race…I will tell you who spoiled my party for the fastest lap later. We each got one daylight lap, and both Chris and Ben followed suit with some fast times. After each of us had done a lap, we started our rotation Ben, Me, Ben, Me, Chris, Ben P, Chris, Ben P. We did such rotations through the night and it allowed a 5 lap break between when you were done until you had to be back out there. While Ben and I plugged away, Jen Meyer’s parent showed up with a behemoth of a tent and a fire pit/wheelbarrow. When our shift was done, Ben and I ate a tried to get an hour or two of shut eye. Chris and Ben P extended the lead with their consistent night laps. The “Graveyard” shift belonged to Ben and I, but it was quite tolerable with the nice warm fire and relatively light dew. Chris and Ben P woke up for the early-early morning shift that took us back into daylight. By this time, our lead was 3 laps, approximately 2 hours, over the second place team. The cool thing, at least from our perspective, was that with daylight, our laps got faster. The course was never really wet, but it started to get nice and tacky when the sun came out. In fact, our last lap, ridden by Chris the-hammer-head-Fisher, was the fastest of the race! He rolled a 36:54 beating my initial lap time of 36:56 by 2 seconds=)
As a team, we were elated to have such a strong overall performance with no injuries. A great time was had by all.
At this point, I want to thank those who helped out with our success. First, a big thanks to Matt and Rochester Cycling and Fitness for their sponsorship of VeloRochester, food/supplies, and use of the shop van – Ben’s car wouldn’t start on Friday morning and Matt generously let him bring the van to the race. Second, thank you to Jen, Jen, and Jen Meyer’s parents for cooking, cleaning and breaking camp. Third, thanks to my Teammates for kicking butt=).
No results are posted yet, but I will be sure do some kind of “engin-nerding” analysis on it once they are up=)
Here is a photo recap:
A couple pictures of camp...

Chamois carnage:

Coming in on my second to last lap...37 minutes and change, but didn't have the climbing legs to break 37.No "Erik's" bottles in THIS camp. Chris used a knife to make sure we weren't doing any non RCF advertising with our bottles=) I wonder what he put in there to beat my fastest lap time?

Ben: do I really have to go out there for a ninth time?

If I do, I am gonna be sure there is no "friction"

Chris is thinking, "This saddle is gonna look so cool on my new Fuel SL"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Important News and A Hard Race

First of all, I probably should cover this....Jen and I have a bun in the oven. I could give you all kinds of details on it but Jen does a better job than I could:

On to was the one of the most fun and brutal courses in the MNSCS. The expert/comp course is as close to mountain-mountain biking as we can get here in the midwest. The rocky and crazy twisty down hills combined with a grueling 800 foot climb have left me with a tired body tonite.
The field was one of the strongest this year with the Nationals racers back list a few names: Paul, Justin, TJ, the Swanson brothers, Fisher, Jeff, Erik Tonklin (a Kona team rider), Ben, the O's, man the list goes on. I knew that placing well would be tough, but with all but a wrap on the series title, I was under no pressure to perform. From the gun, Doug took off like a maniac. The rest of us followed and during the first lap, things sorted themselves out. A lot of the selection was made on the first lap. I ended up riding with TJ, Paul, and Justin (places 3-6) going into the second lap. I was feeling fine for the most part, but due to long laps, ~40 minutes per, I was parched by the time I was getting my handoffs. That bit me a little in the end. Early in the 2nd lap of 3, we caught Doug who was really suffering. I was content to ride in the 2-5 group because Jeff was up the trail and he was smokin'. Prior to the race, Jeff told me that it was his favorite MNSCS course, and on top of that, this time we didn't have a National on Saturday to tire him out=)
Anyway, not much happened for the rest of the 2nd lap, but we did open up a gap on Justin on the climb. Going up the top of the climb, Paul attacked. I was happy to let him go, because some juicy fun singletrack was coming. TJ let me by on the way down, and I caught Paul about 5 minutes later. We rode together until the end...and Paul spanked me in a sprint. I played my cards on final climb, and they almost worked. Paul rode a really strong and sensible race. It is good to have he and the Kato crew back...although they tend to make me work harder=)
Anyway, I was happy with third on the day given a large strong field. After this finish, if my math is right, I wrapped up the Series title which was one of my main goals coming into the season. Cool!

Next up is 24 of Afton. It is unfortunate that I am missing the WORS Cup, but I have really been looking forward to Afton. FYI - our team is Ben, Fisher, Ben Portilla (a Colorado ringer we are bringing in=), and myself.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


VeloRochester in full affect (image from

Sorry for the lack updates, but quite frankly writing about training isn't very exciting...
After today, I have something to write about. Around 1pm the elite race started up the ski hill at Welch Village. The highlights of the Welch course include "the Wall," a killer hill that shoots right up a black diamond run, and "the Metric Drop," which is a technical little section near the end of each lap.
When we left the cities it was pouring, and we were hoping that we had left that weather behind...for 3.5 laps we did=) The first half lap (long prologue if you will) was actually a reasonable pace. I was glad because I had to make an emergency bathroom visit about 15 minutes before the start and I wasn't sure what a sizzling start would do to me. As we headed up the main long climb the second time, Sam O attacked because we were kind of just crawling Phil Liggett would have said, "the group has no impetus right now." I was the only one who wanted to follow Sam, and we quickly gapped the field. Sam did the Ore To Shore in Michigan yesterday and still had plenty of mustard left in his legs. At one point, Sam said "man, there must be something in my water bottles today!" Entering the 2nd lap, Sam asked me to go first in the single track. I did and turned it on...the single track there is tight but it flows well, yummy. (image from Skinnyski)
I am pretty sure it was in the single track where I increased my gap each lap. Anyway, nothing exciting happened until the top of the long climb on my last lap...a deluge!
(2 Pics from

It was no longer than a minute before the single track became a stream and the open sections became bogs. The hills were mostly unclimbable and the down hills were more like luge runs that were taken with locked wheels. I had about 2 minutes on Sam, so I just went as hard as I could. I crossed the finish line with the muddy win.
I won't write anymore, but here are the after affects.

All you can do is laugh

Sam and I got muddy

The Fuel took it well

Ben's Fuel didn't fair as well...he won the dirtiest bike contest because of the mud stalactites.
One other sad thing of note...I was flying through the air on a training run last week and I came down a little, well, not perfectly straight. My front tire rolled out and the the shifter swung around cracking the 9.9's top tube=(
Lesson learned: No more "sweet jumps" on the 9.9. A replacement is on the way...I will leave it at that.

Next up is Spirit Mountain followed by 24 hours of Afton.