Monday, June 29, 2009

'Kato Klimbing

Sunday proved to be perfect in just about every way for a bike race. The temperature, competition (another big MNSCS turnout, AWESOME!), spectators, and course conditions couldn't have been better. That said, I didn't get the result I wanted.
Off the start, Jason Sager, a Jamis team rider from Utah, lead us up the ski hill and into the singletrack. He was going hard, but I was hanging on just fine. About mid way through the lap he punched it up a climb and got a gap that I couldn't close. Jesse and Cam were chasing, but the order didn't change for the rest of the race.
I am not disappointed with the result, as I was not the strongest rider out there on Sunday. My legs were mediocre, but I did really enjoy the flowing course at Mt Kato.
Oh, one thing that was not cool on Sunday...reverse call ups. Don't you usually go 1st-10th not 10th-1st? Strange.

This week I am off work (Seagate furlough) so Jen, Tegan and I are headed to the Dells for a couple days sans bike. After that, we will be back for a day and then head down to my Grandparents place in Des Moines for the 4th. I am sure I will squeeze some riding in somewhere=)

Happy 4th Everyone!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Relaxation and Fun...what summer is all about

Jen recapped Tegan and I's camping Friday through Saturday morning, so there is no need to add anything other than that we had a blast=)

After returning home Saturday I mowed a couple lawns (our neighbor is out of town and I didn't want his pregnant wife to be out suffering in this heat), and accidentally managed a wicked sunburn. Ouch!
I was feeling a little tired after that given the little and light sleep from the night before so I took a nice long riding Saturday, but I got some LONG overdue maintenance done on the bikes that afternoon. Dang, before kids/house/wife/demanding job, my bikes were maintained with so much more care! I guess I will just have to keep refreshing them at a rapid rate because they usually work well when they are new. Hehe.
Sunday, Jen told me I could do whatever I wanted. Thus, I got out for one of those great summer rides that reminded me why I started biking in the first place. My plan was to go until I got tired, but after 5 laps at Leb I decide to call it due to time and not being tired. I took a Gu packet every lap with some water and the legs just kept going. I was only rolling 43 minute laps so I wasn't killing it or anything, but man was it fun.
This week looks to bring hot temps and hot racing at Buck and Kato. I figured it would be getting hot soon w/ Kato coming=)

Monday, June 15, 2009


The Dirt Spanker Classic pushes you to the limit from the very start. If you have raced it, you know exactly what I mean....bottom to top of the ski hill right from the starting line. It generally does not feel good to do that whether walking, back country skiing, or biking. Sunday was no exception.
My right leg was on probation Sunday, at least for the start, as I had two bad starts in a row at Buck with it. The left leg got me off the line quick enough, but I had no intention of trying to lead it up the hill, because if you would have asked me in warm ups how I would do, I would have told you last place. I just was feeling sluggish, and it was tough leaving with my dad for the race because Tegan begged me "Daddy don't go" (he would have been fine if he was coming - he LOVES bike races). This is a tangent, but I am often asked why I don't do more national races, for Daddy's I need not say more.
Anyway, Jack led us into the single track, and after wrapping himself around a tree I took the lead. I rode reasonably hard through the first lap, which put Jesse yo-yoing off the back of SamO, Jack, and I. Up the bottom-to-top climb I took it "easy". I still wasn't feeling snappy so I dropped it down a few gears and rode tempo. The funny part is that the hill gets so steep that the front wheel starts lifting off if you don't lay on the downtube...i.e "easy" is relative.
I think Sam sensed weakness because he punched it over the top and took us down the 50 foot deep whoop (IMBA would NOT approve=) into the singletrack the second time. I wasn't necessarily bluffing at this point, I just was still playing 'em face down. About 1/2 way through that lap I was riding well below the anaerobic zone when Jack pulled a Superman. I got by and chased down Sam. I fully expected Sam to drop me on the next ascent, but he didn't and near the top, I looked over to see him suffering pretty badly. I took my turn leading into the singletrack and quickly formed a gap. I was riding like I was out at Mammoth cruising alone in the woods... nothing fancy, nothing overly aggressive, just riding singletrack.
To my surprise, I continued to pull away and rode it home alone for the W. SamO and Jack followed me in.
Summary: racing on some of what I consider to be the best singletrack in the Midwest (ranks right up there w/ Mammoth, Spirit Mt, Maplelag, Chequamegon Forest to name a few) makes those long nasty climbs totally worth it.
Dana supplied the amazing pics above.
This weekend I won't be racing, as I plan to take Tegan on his first camping trip. He is excited and so am I!

Friday, June 12, 2009


I took third last night at Buck....I deserved the thrashing Jack and Sam gave me. My start was atrocious for the second week in a row. I couldn't clip in, got stuck rubbing tires in the middle of the peleton, and had to pass ~30 people in the first couple hundred yards by going through the weeds (new course route had very limited passing so getting to the front at the start was imperative). I redlined and my legs filled w/ lactic acid doing this. I never was able to flush them, and after two laps I had to let Sam and Jack go, as they were riding better than I. Oh well, they can't all be good days=)
The new course was great but needs a few more passing areas. Knowing the Penn guys they have something up their sleeve for that.

Du Lac this weekend. I love the course...well except for the start;)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Fuel and Fueling....

Since I last described my ride this year a few things have changed...some have made the bike weight less and some made it gain a few. After all the mods, the bike settled in at a svelte 21.5 lbs.
1. I picked up a second Top Fuel 9.9so I can have one strictly for racing. Being able to race and ride/train on the same bike is extremely helpful. Thanks Trek and Rochester Cycling and Fitness!
2. I have settled in on a Rocket Ron 2.25 front tire and a Racing Ralph 2.1 rear tire. So far these tires have handled all the conditions, especially the sandboxes, really well.
3. The DT swiss carbon shock was swapped out for an RP23....imperative for racing this bike in my opinion.
4. MOST notable is the change from i9 wheels to the new Bontrager Race XXX lite carbon wheels. This was a tough decision because the bike gained over 1/3lb with these wheels. That said, I have never been one to compromise durability and performance for weight. The XXX aren't heavy by any means at 1420g w/out tubeless rim strips, but they aren't a 1325g wheelset like the i9s.
5. Switched back to XTR rotors because the new wheels are centerlock, and I wasn't happy with the breaking power of the hope floating rotor.
6. I pulled my front lockout of the bike. I almost never used it so I figured why keep it on there=)

This bike is simply amazing. A teammate of mine, Dan (won 24 of afton solo last year), test ride the bike and he described it is as "cheating". He know is the proud owner of one. I don't know if I would take it that far, but ... =) To be perfectly honest, I was pursuing a hardtail as a second race bike but after riding and racing a few times on this speedster, I though better of it and doubled my pleasure.
Probably the two main things I notice over other bikes I have ridden (from various manufacturers) are the resistance to pedal induced lateral flex and the ability of the rear suspension to track the ground when braking. With the platform off it is almost impossible skid.
The wheel choice may seem odd to some given the weight "gain", but I think stiffness and robustness are more important than a few grams. The descending performance of the XXX lites is the best I have ridden, and on a course like Afton being able to rail corners with the bike is imperative. The wheels are also supposed to be pretty tough....I will evaluate that when the season is over, but so far so good=)

This doesn't seem to be a hot topic on blogs, but it is definitely a key piece to the racing puzzle. Pre-race, I take Sport Leggs electrolyte pills 1 hour before the race. I have found that these keep the lactic acid down from the ferocious starts of mtbk races. I follow the is with a Gu brand energy gel (that the only brand I use) about 10-15 minutes later, and then again near the end of my warm up 15 minutes before the race start. I prefer the Gu with caffine for that little extra kick! During my warm up I drink Gu2O to stay hydrated and get a few more calories. I have tried other drink mixes but the light taste of the Gu2O is very easy on the stomach and provides just as many calories as more sugary drinks like gatorade.
During a typical 30 minute lap in a race (I have to adjust for courses w/ short laps like MNSCS #1) I try to get at least 1 bottle down per lap. However, I the fluid in the race bottles is not just Gu2O. I combine 1 electrolyte pill with 2 scoops of Gu2O in each bottle. This gets me a little calcium, which I have found is very key to keeping the cramping pings away. If you are a salty sweater like me, you may consider this mix. I also will take 1-2 Gu gels depending on how I am feeling..I use this to supplement the nearly 400 calories in Gu2O.
Finally, after the race, I am usually not hungry, but some amount of recovery calories are necessary. Velonews got me on to this, but I drink about 2 servings of chocolate milk. This goes down pretty easy, tastes great, is high calorie, and contains everything most of the recovery drink mixes do.
So that is it...all nutrition my secrets revealed=)

Next up racing wise is Buck Hill and the MNSCS #3, the Dirt Spanker.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Super Bad

If any race in the midwest were worthy of a McLovin' related title it would be the second MNSCS stop, the Afton Avalanche. Jeez, the thing has more climbing than any race in the midwest and boasts a climb that for the first time this year forced me not only out of my big ring, but into my granny on the 2x9. The technical nature of the trail's descending (and some of the climbing) makes it worth every cramp and lactic acid spike.
I still ended up being sick for the race. It wasn't as bad as at Buck Hill on Thursday, but I couldn't take in deep breaths and my nose was like faucet. I think this showed a little in my lackluster first lap where I didn't necessarly attack, but I did try to push it. Yes, I left it in the big ring on Shady Lane=) Jack Hinkens, who continues to impress me, and Jesse, who has always been a great cyclist, followed close behind for two laps when I started to get an "out of sight" gap. After lap 3, I was getting the cramping pings. I didn't hydrate well the first lap, but other than that I think it is mostly due to my race-into-fitness plan. I really haven't hammered/raced for over 1.5 hours this year. Either way, I spun lap 4 with reasonable speed and closed out the win in MNSCS #2. The only thing I would change about the day is the fact that, unbeknounced to me, I lost 15 seconds per lap to Jesse and Jack by taking the long way around one of the two spots where the trail offered a technical section split/ride-around. I am not one to shy away from fun technical features, but all the sign said was "trail splits" not "technical short cut". I went straight each lap with no one to show me otherwise; I should have gone left.
In the end, I think this picture from (pic above from there too) of a Freewheel rider sums up afton:

Next up will be Buck Thurs and no racing this weekend as I am heading to Janesville Wisco=)