Wednesday, June 8

East Coast Racing

After the Amgen Tour of California, we have been spending some time on the east coast doing some bike racing. The racing kicked off with the USPRO Time Trial and Road Race aka the National Championships of America. Always a great, hard race and the most important one-day races of the year. We kicked it off with a 51 kilometer time trial at 8am, which was rather early to do some serious suffering. This is what it looked like:

That's actually a picture from a different time trial, but they are all pretty much the same and look the same, and I look like I am suffering which is what I did for nearly 70 minutes of pain. I ended up finishing in 12th place. The next day was the road race, 180 kilometers of a rolling twisty course that would prove to be incredibly challenging. We came to the race with a small, but strong team of 6 riders. After a hard early season I knew that my form was good and there would be a chance for a good result. We had Ben in the early breakaway and when that came back about 2/3rd's of the way into the race it was game on. From that point it was pretty much constant attacking and  breakaways until the field was whittled down to less than 25 riders at the front starting the last lap. I was off the front with one other rider until about 8 kilometers to go when a small group caught us and in the reshuffle we formed a group of 5 that kept going. We were just barely ahead of the next group when we hit the final climb which topped out one kilometer from the finish line. On the climb the group reshuffled once again and one rider was able to escape. By that point of the race my legs were totally destroyed and I could barely make it up the climb. I had ridden hard and ended up finish 10th. It was a good result, but I was so close to so much more that it was certainly bittersweet.

Just a few days later we raced the one day race, the Winston-Salem Classic, which had a similar course and with a similar team we were able to help our team sprinter/strong man jacob get 6th on the day. The following weekend we raced the Philadelphia Cycling Classic, always a great race which travels through the city and finishes with a vicious climb up the Manayunk Wall - a short but brutally steep climb that we raced up nine times. We had a rider, Michael, in the breakaway but in the end it was a sprint finish and Jacob went one better with a 5th place finish on the day. Now we are up in Canada for two stage races, the first around Saguenay and second around the Beauce region, both in the province of Quebec. Should be some more hard racing that the Jelly Belly Team is really looking forward to! After that I will have some serious time back at home and will be able to finish up the construction on our new house.

Saturday, June 4

Back to Blogging

And I'm back on the blog here. After getting many complaints, I am here to update after a month of good racing. My last post cam after the Redlands Classic, which was the kick off to our proper racing season. Since then we have been on the road mostly straight through. First was the Tour of Gila in Silver City, NM followed by the Amgen Tour of California and then last week we were in Winston-Salem for the US National Road Race and Time Trial Championships and topped off with a one day race in Winston-Salem. After a few days at home, I am once again on the road in Philadelphia right now, with a two week stint in Canada after that.

The first race on this long block of racing was the Tour of Gila, down in Silver City, New Mexico. It was my 9th time racing in the pro category of the race, its been quite a while! The team came into the race with high hopes with our team leader Lachlan looking fit and fresh. The first stage is normally an easy affair until the final climb where the race fully detonates and the best climber emerges. This year the race was a bit tougher than normal, just enough to keep the power on the pedals all day, but we arrived at the base of the final climb in good position thanks to some great teamwork. At the midpoint of the final climb we hit the flat section at the front and with a bit of a crosswind I put the race in the gutter and the field shattered - much more than we were expecting but a perfect position for us.

Only one other rider, Rob Britton (the previous  year's winner), was able to stay with us and I poured the gas on to ensure that we had a large gap for the next bit of climbing. With less than 5 kilometers to the finish Lachlan was in the perfect position and would go on to win the stage 30 seconds ahead of second and a further 30 ahead of third place. It was the first big win of the season for the team and from there the team was fully dedicated to keep Lachlan protected. We all rode well together and started the last stage with a clear gap on second place. The team rode brilliantly and Lachlan was able to finish off our work and win the overall classification of the race. Here's a little video of us:

Next up was the Amgen Tour of California which is the biggest race in America and the biggest and most important race we will do all year. We started off in San Diego and would finish 8 days later in Sacramento. Here's a few pictures from the team, with all of our bikes lined up and ready to go.

And here we are in our team meeting in our team bus (thanks to WD-40!) getting the instructions before one of the stages.

I might have crashed during one of the stages:

And I got a boo boo on my face:

But I was okay, so the next day I got in the breakaway:

We almost made it to the finish, we were caught only 2 kilometers from the finish. So close! Overall it was a really good race, quite difficult but the team rode well overall. Here's another video wrapping up the race for our team:

Okay, that's it for this post, I know I mentioned USPRO and Winston-Salem, but this post is already really long, so I'll wait for that one. Plus tomorrow is Philly, and we have to wake up at 5am,so I need my sleep. I'll update shortly with with a couple more race reports before our Canada races start! Enjoy.

Friday, April 15

Road Season Begins

Since my last post wrapped up the fat biking season, I figured it was about time to get back on here and open up the road/mountain bike season. For 2016 I am contiuing on with the Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team, check out our team site here. Additionally, I will be racing my mountain bike for the Tokyo Joe's Mountain Bike Team again.

The season really kicked off in February with a team camp for the Jelly Belly Team. We spent a bout a week in the San Diego area getting in some nice miles in the warm weather and got reacquainted with all the other riders as well as the new and returning sponsors. We came back in March to the San Diego for a proper training camp which involved lots of riding and two 3-day races. The first was the Tour of Murrieta, where I kicked off the road race season with a win in the opening time trial! Ben and Lachlan followed that up with a 1-2 finish in the road race. After that we drove out to Tuscon and spent a few days in the even hotter weather before racing the Tuscon Bicycle Classic. Our team dominated the road race by placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th. Lachlan, Jordan and I ended up finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the overall classification. A great 10 days of racing and training and team bonding!

In between training camps and racing we have stayed up with the construction on our new house, and it has been progressing rapidly. Here is the house right as I left for team camp:

And here is the house after returning from my last racing trip, just earlier this week.

While you can see a lot of changes, there are lots more going on inside and on the backside of the house. We are on track for a June completion date. But back to racing: this past trip (out to California for the third time this year) we raced in San Dimas and Redlands. While San Dimas is a "smaller" sort of local race there are always some good riders and it is a good race to test the legs and get the team chemistry going. The race went well enough for the team, and afterwards we turned our eye to the first big race of the season, the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the major kickoff to the season and the start of the US Pro Road Tour.

We started the race with some big goals, stage podiums/wins and the overall general classification win. We started well with a 4th place for Jacob on the opening stage and a 2nd for Lachlan on the summit finish of stage 2.

We started the final day, the Sunset Circuit Race, with Lachlan in 3rd overall just 12 seconds out of the lead. Our plan was to race aggressively and putting pressure on the leading team, and we did that right from the gun. A large 20 man move attacked off the front immediately upon starting the circuits, and I was there with two other teammates, Gus and Ben. We drove the pace hard with a few other teams and the races started to shatter behind. By the 4th lap the main field caught us but had whittled down to just 10 or 15 riders. The race sort of reset and a new breakaway was launched with even more dangerous riders and we only had Gus in the group of a dozen or so. On the 5th lap I was able to bridge up with a small group to make it two of us in a group of around 20 riders. Everyone continued to race hard, but we expected the race to come back together in the last lap or two. That didn't quite happen and with 25k to go it was clear that the race would be won from our group - both the general classification and the stage. Our group split on the last climb and I chased in the 2nd group of six riders. By the time we got to the finishing circuit we were only 5 seconds from the lead group but my legs were totally used up and I couldn't make it across and settled for 15th place on the day. I ended up 7th on general classification - my best finish at Redlands by far, but not what the team was hoping for with our two general classification riders. The race played out very differently than everyone was expecting but we live and learn and reset for our next races.

The team will next be at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico and the Amgen Tour of California. Before then I will be doing a few local races including a mountain bike race or two. My new mountain bike is almost complete and I'll be sure to post some pictures once it is complete. Otherwise it will be a few weeks of good training and some more house construction.

Saturday, February 6

Fat Bike World Championships

This past week I traveled to Crested Butte for the Fat Bike World Championships. It's kind of an unofficial world championships, but the winner of the race would get branded (like a hot metal cow brand) so that makes it pretty legit in my mind. Plus, who doesn't want to be a world champion?

The weekend started off with an opener race on Thursday, 8 laps of 2.5 miles, and we began with a Le Mans type start, which means you run to your bike (it's a car racing thing). Here's my bike, ready and waiting.

And we were off! The venue was cold at the start, but the sun was shinning and it warmed quickly. After the first lap we had a group of 5 riders off the front of the race and from there we started dropping guys. By the 5th lap it was down to just me and Dave Wiens but the course was deteriorating rapidly. 70 people doing 8 laps and some sun made for some crazy descents. It was super fun and challenging trying to keep these fat bikes upright while shooting down steep descents in the snow. On the penultimate lap I was able to drop Dave on the final steep climb and from there it was a drag race to the finish, but I was able to hold him off for the win.

Friday was a day off for us, just a short ride to check out part of the world championships course. It was windy and cold but the course was much easier in terms of the amount of climbing (about half the total compared to Thursday) but also had the potential for more technical riding and we would have to put all of our technical abilities to the test. Plus the guys from Scott Bikes and Reynolds were able to hook me up with some amazing fat bike carbon wheels. Being tubeless and carbon they dropped 3 or 4 pounds from my bike weight and meant I could rock even lower pressure (I used about 4 to 5 psi for the Saturday race!)

The Saturday morning World Championship kicked off under cloudy skies but with a possible threat of snow showers which would make the course even tougher. Fortunately the snow never came and we were in for a very fast race. On the first lap my road teammate, Lachlan Morton was the first to threw down and caused an instant separation. Once again a group of 5 of us emerged off the front, and by the end of the first lap we were over a minute clear of the next racer. Laps 2 and 3 saw the course take its toll on everyone and the crashes and snow drifts took some people out and made the gaps even bigger. I manged to keep it upright and that was enough to keep me in the front. Starting the 4th lap it was down to me and (former teammate) Rob Squire. Almost immediately on that lap I was sitting on Rob's wheel we a rouge track caught me unaware and sent me into a head over heels endo right into the deep stuff. It took a bit to work myself back out and by then Rob was gone. I was chasing full gas at this point but the course was taking its toll on me, another couple of crashes and Rob was never coming back. On the final lap Travis Brown caught me and we had a final duel to the finish.

On one of the last short steep climbs I was able to ride it, but he had to jump off his bike and that was the difference. At the finish I would only beat him by a handful of seconds to hold on to second place.

It was a great weekend of racing, good courses and tough competition. Plus winning is always nice, especially this early in the year! Thanks to all my sponsors: Tokyo Joe's, Scott Bikes, Pearl Izumi, Clif Bar, and Rocky Mountain Racks.

Wednesday, January 20

Ullr Bike Fest

This past week was Ullr Fest in Breckenridge. Everyone gets together and pays homage to Ullr - the Norse God of Skiing. By celebrating this festival everyone is trying to bring more snow to town and this years it seems to have worked. It has been snowing on and off for about the last week. Less than ideal for building a house, but great for skiing and being outside in the winter. To properly enjoy the snow in Breck, my team (Tokyo Joe's) hooked me up with a brand new Scott Big Ed Fat Bike:

The tires are 4.8 inches wide - just massive to help roll over the snow. They are so big but in order to keep good traction I run them pretty low - around 6 or 7 psi! Now that I had this great new bike I had to get out a race it. And Breck delivered - back to back days of snow bike race. First up with the Ullr Bike Eliminator. We would race 4 guys at a time, the top two advance until there are only 4 guys left and then its the finals.

Yep, I lined up with a Panda bear for the first heat. As you can see I am rocking my Ullr horns to help support the snow. It was a really cool course on main street in town with a short climb and a nice snow feature.

The bike worked great and I was able to make my way into the finals.

One guy took off right away and was set on chasing him.

Unfortunately it wouldn't be enough and I would have to settle for second place.

Here's a little video from my on-board GoPro to see what it was like. Sorry for my lack of video editing skills.

The next day was the Ullr Bike Open. Another race of three loops out on the Gold Run Nordic Center. This time however, we would be starting at 5pm which meant that it would be dark by the finish. So everyone geared up with night-lights and all and we set out. Immediately the winner of the eliminator took off the front of the race and we wouldn't see him again. I rode in the group for about a lap before it split up and dropped down to just two of us. It was a good battle but I was able to beat him to take another second place.

Yep, that's a bottle of whiskey (Breckenridge Distillery) in my hand for the prize. Plus I got a sweet handcrafted Ullr award.

The next snow bike race for me is in Crested Butte in about two weeks and its the World Championships! Should be a great weekend of racing with some fun courses and hard racing.

Saturday, November 14

The Iceman has Cometh and Gone

Last weekend I was out in Michigan for a weekend of mountain bike racing - The Iceman. It was a new part of the country for me to take my mountain bike and a little late in the year for a race - even for a mountain bike one! The weather did not disappoint and it was quite chilly with sporadic rain storms. I rolled in to Michigan a couple days before and stayed with a former teammate and buddy of mine - Dave Williams. We went out and pre-rode the last 10 km of so of the course the day before to get a feel of the race and course. There were some steep short climbs near the end and some tricky single-track corners that were sure to cause chaos in the finish of the race.

Saturday morning we woke up not to early as the pro race didn't start until 2:30, and I went through my Scott Spark bike and check all the parts and made sure she was cleaned and lubed and ready to go. I also just got a new set of FSA K-Force carbon 29er wheels that are outstanding. After wrapping them in a set of race ready (fast rolling) Maxxis tires I knew they were going to be super fast and stiff.

We checked out the first bit of the point to point course a little before the start of the race as we cautiously watched the sky. 45 minutes before the start of the race and it was still raining quite hard. But then just as I knew I had to start warming up the clouds parted and sun rose. Well, not quite. The rain at least stopped but the clouds held and it was hovering just a little above freezing. The race starts with about a kilometer of road before funneling on to a double track that would be very important for positioning for the entire race. As the gun went off I worked my way up and settled into a decent spot, around 25th (out of the more than 100 starters) as we hit the first dirt section. Racing in a mountain bike pack is very different than a road bike pack. Most people knew what they were doing, but there were a few sketchy riders (which is the same as road racing I suppose) but everyone's handlebars are much wider, meaning riders take up more space and can't be quite as close. Once we hit the first dirt section the race was lined out and everyone was pushing hard.

The first big obstacle was a small hill that was essentially a giant sand pit. A number of riders lost their wheels and it was full on chaos. I manged to stay on my bike but lost some spots and distance to the main group. I was able to close it back down but shortly after that.we were cruising on the double track and came across a big pond. Everyone was funneling right but I saw a line on the left and decided I could pass some people. Turns out there was a right tun onto single track on the other side of the pond. My angle of attack was off and I was going to fast to make the turn. I had to do some serious course correction to get back and by then the gap had gone out again. I chased hard but had already burnt some matches from my earlier efforts. For almost 30 minutes I was by myself about 10 to 15 seconds off the back of the front group of 15 but couldn't quite close it.

Around the halfway point I had faded a bit and was caught by the second chase group of around 10 riders. I jumped on the back of the group and relaxed and caught my breath. The gap to the font group kept going out and I knew we wouldn't be seeing them again. With 10 kilometers to go I took the front of our group to just keep the pace going and get to the finish (it was still quite cold). I the last couple of kilometers everyone in the group started attacking but I was able to slowly reel most of them back in and settled for 19th place.

Overall a really fun race (sorry I don't have any pictures though) . I hope to go back next year and now that I have some more course knowledge it should be much better. It's pretty cool to finish a mountain bike race among thousands of cheering spectators!