Wednesday, September 28

End of the Season

My final race of the season was the Ridgeline Rampage down in Castle Rock in the middle of September. A longer marathon style mountain bike race meant that I would be flying the Tokyo Joe's colors and riding my Scott Spark bike. Being a later season race the field was a bit smaller but still strong. We narrowed the race down to 4 guys on the first lap of 16 miles. At the start of the second lap I made my move and got a small gap. I would hold that small gap for the next 30 or so miles - just 10 to 15 seconds over 2nd place. It was quite the battle. But then with just a few miles remaining, disaster struck and I dropped my chain. I had to get of the bike to fix it, and boom, I was in 2nd place. And that is where I would finish. Not the win I was looking for, but still good and a really hard race.

With the last race completed, the off season begins. Which means lots of fun riding, especially on my mountain bike! We were in Crested Butte for a wedding this past weekend, and somehow I forgot my Scott MTB shoes and Scott helmet. I didn't want to miss out on the ride so I was able to salvage a helmet from someone else but I was forced to ride in me tennis shoes.

It probably would have been fine, except the weather was less than ideal, about 35 degrees and rain. But the groom wanted his pre-wedding ride so we obliged. And boy did we regret it. The top of the 401 trail was covered in falling snow and the temperature continued to plummet. We had to do some serious mud slop descending to get out fast before things went really south. Fortunately we all survived, we some some great leaves changing their colors and the weather cleared up for the wedding ceremony.

Now a couple more weeks of fun riding before me proper off-season break next month.

Wednesday, August 24

Breck Epic 2016

Last week was the Breck Epic, the sweetest 6-day mountain bike race that I know of. And it happens to be in my backyard. With an awesome set of mountain bike sponsors - Tokyo Joe's, Scott Bikes (and helmet and shoes!), FSA Components, Pearl Izumi, Clif Bar, and Rocky Mounts I knew I had to race. I have done the race several times in the past but after the Tour of Utah I knew I had some good fitness, plus now that we are living full-time in Breck, it was just a short ride from my house to each and every stage.

The first stage started well, I rode a little more conservatively than in the past and around the halfway point I had caught the two leaders, Wells and Finsterwald (who happen to be two of the best mountain bikers in America). I held on for dear life on the downhills and we started the final long climb together. However, in our extreme pace (I was a bit cross eyed) we missed a trial marker and continued up the climb. We ended up climbing Humbug Hill - a dangerously steep climb. I averaged 6.1 kph (3.8 mph) for the 12 minute climb which averages around 15%. Yeah, its crazy hard. You could literally run faster, probably even walk faster. So we did the wrong climb and while it was significantly harder than the proper climb it also cut off several kilometers of racing. We took the top 3 spots but afterwards we were appropriately relegated to 4th, 5th and 6th. Kind of a bummer, but it was definitely the fairest option.

Stage 2 was one to forget for me. I suffered 4 or 5 flat tires (due to my lack of skill) and then topped it off with a stupid crash on a fast section of single-track. Sore and sad I made my way across the finish line almost 2.5 hours behind the winners. Any chance of challenging for the overall were gone.

Stage 3 started well enough, but I could feel the efforts that I had made the previous weeks at Tour of Utah creep into my legs. Plus my hips and legs had been realigned in m crash and I just took it steady. I still rode hard, but kept things in check and finished 8th.

And a little video from the final descent:

Stage 4 was more of the same, my body was suffering and I could feel it telling me to slow down and back off. I obeyed and took the second half of the stage relatively easy and rolled home in 12th.

The fifth stage started with a group time trial start which gave me some time to work in to the race and pace myself  a bit better than other days. On the long initial climb I picked some guys off and when we got above 12,000 feet and the hike-a-bike started, I came into my element, cruising past several people and riding well on the final climb to grab 5th place on the day.

The final stage is one of my favorites, and while the initial paved climb was removed, I knew it could be a good course for me. Another time trial style start meant an easier start and while I had to make some hard efforts on the top of the road climb I was able to regain contact after the first big descent to the halfway mark. 

We started the long road climb in a big group with one rider off the front, but it wasn't to be my day. My legs just weren't as good as I was hoping they would be, and I had to settle for 10th on the day. After the finish, I was glad to be done.

It was a great time trying to hang with the bike boys of American mountain biking, and I certainly improved my skills because of it, but I still have a long ways to go! The race was a great success and is an amazing event. Next up for me is the Tour of Alberta in September, and then I will finish my season with a few longer mountain bike races around Colorado.

Road Catch Up

So, you might have noticed I have been missing in action here. But we were doing tons of sweet racing recently, so I feel somewhat justified. Here's a quick recap of the road racing we did in the past month. First off was the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon back during the final week of July. The team had a really great week there. I was 2nd on the first stage, Lachlan and Jacob were 1st and 2nd on the third road stage and Lachlan finished in 2nd overall. I ended up finishing in 7th overall and winning the KOM jersey. Here I am on the final jersey podium:


And a little interview post race:

After that we spent a week in Utah preparing for the Tour of Utah, and we even did a little TV interview. Then it was on to racing starting August 1st. The first half of the racing started off quiet but the Jelly Belly team hit the gas on the third stage and we blew the race to pieces and our man, Lachlan was able to finish it off and crush the competition. Then it was up to us as his teammate to hold the race together and support him as best as we could.

That meant a lot of riding the front, getting water bottles, riding in the wind, covering early breaks and riding hard all day long. It was an amazing team effort and Lachlan was able to pull off the overall win at what is one of the biggest races in America and on the level of all but the biggest races in the world. We rode well as a team and that was key to our success of winning the race!

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.