2015 has come and gone

 

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I seem to be a little late in writing this, but better late than never. I think overall that 2015 was a good year for me. I didn’t start the year off too strong, but found a way to turn it around and finish strong. The beginning of the year found me having a lot of calendar conflicts that kept me from getting very many miles in except for the Florida trip. Even that trip could have had more miles if I would have been in a little better shape before hand. I did get some good mtb miles in for the early spring/summer and ended up with a lot more gravel/road miles toward the end of the season.

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It took me most of the year to match the total miles for the month of February, but that is hard to compare apples to apples. The trail miles usually don’t add up as fast as road miles do and Florida in February for training camp is hard to beat. If I look at hours on the bike I did have several months that fell in line. Even with the slow start of the year and all the off road miles added in I still ended up with my most miles in one year since I have been tracking them. I ended up with 2,750 miles. I know that is not a lot for some people, but for me it was a pretty high number. It makes me wonder what I would end up with if I could just have a better first part of the season.

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So, the miles were good for the year and I managed to bring the weight down again at least for a while, but the part that seemed to miss out was the actual racing. I did some racing, but it felt like a lot less than previous years. There were a lot of rescheduling because of weather and that made a lot more overlaps in my calendar for races and soccer schedules. But, I feel like I did pretty well in the races I did make. Not necessarily podium type performances, but overall good showings for me. I rode my SS for the Dino race at Ferdinand and was very happy with how strong I rode. One of my better finishes at that venue. I also broke the elusive 5 hour mark for the Gravel Grovel in a year that had some of the most epic conditions to date.

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I finished the year strong and have started this year off pretty well. I put in more miles in January than I did in January, March, April and May of last year. We are headed back to Florida in a couple weeks and I am hopeful to put in a few century’s down there. Shortly after that I will be making a trip to Pisgah to get some good climbing work out in. I am going to need all the help I can get for the season. I already have quite a bit on my plate. I have signed up for the Big Frog 65 and the Mohican 100k. I don’t plan on missing out on the Gravel Grovel and have a couple other gravel races on my radar. I am also thinking about finally trying out the 6 hour mtb race series and making as many XC races as I can work in.

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So, with all that said, I had a great 2015 season and need to follow it up with an even better 2016 season. Maybe I will actually be able to be fast this year or at least fast for what I have been used to. I also want to thank everyone who helps make the year as good as it is. First of all my wife for allowing me to put the time in on the bike. Phil and Adventures Recreation and Gear for giving the best shop support that I could ever hope to receive. Honey Stinger and Tailwind Nutrition for keeping me fueled for all the miles. ESI grips for making the most amazing grips that I have ever used. Swiftwick for making socks that keep my feet happy hour after hour while turning pedals. Stan’s No Tubes for keeping me rolling in all kinds of conditions on the best wheels I have ever been on and without flats. SKS for all the great products that I rely on if issues happen. Mill House Restaurant for keeping me filled up and Basket Case Brewing for some tasty recovery beverages. But most of all I need to thank Brian Tuell for all the great rides together and pushing me to be a better cyclist. I would not be able to take advantage of all the help I mentioned above if it was not for your help and friendship to get me out the door and on the bike. Here’s to a lot more good times this year!!

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Posted in Basket Case, Bikes, DINO, Dino Series, Gravel, Gravel Grovel, Mountain Biking, mtb, Racing, racing, Road Biking, Team Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gravel Grovel 2015

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After yesterday I no longer have to say that my fastest times for the Gravel Grovel were done on a SS. After trying for the last few years to finish in less than 5 hours, I finally succeeded this year finishing in 4:53. I know that last week I figured out that I actually did finish under the 5 hour mark in 2010, but I am still no sure how that could have happened. I was on my SS and I didn’t think I was very fast back then, but one thing with a SS is that you are forced to be consistent with your speed so hard telling.

I worked pretty hard this year to be in the best condition I have been in awhile to improve my chances for a good finish time. I was feeling pretty good about it a few months ago, but as the time was getting closer I was not so sure anymore. The two scouting trips I made up there did not help me feel better about the condition of my legs. I rode well both times, but I just was not climbing very fast either time and there are plenty climbing sections that can make a big difference. Even the Wednesday night ride this week the legs were feeling heavy and I was struggling climbing. Maybe I was just expecting too much, but I still felt like I was not climbing very fast and the legs were hurting.

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The weather leading up to the race was not very favorable. It rained most of the day Friday and as far as I could tell, most of the day Saturday too. It was supposed to be a high of 47 degrees, so I figured it would be cold too. I knew the trail sections would be interesting to say the least. There were probably going to be some road sections that could be just as bad.

Getting ready that morning it felt warmer than I expected. This made it very hard to decide what to wear. It was going to be muddy and wet for sure, but not sure how cold it really will be. The parking lot was pretty soft and the rain was pretty steady. The conditions were not very good for me to put in a good time, but I was in for the ride no matter what happened.

Soon enough I found myself at the starting line and after a few announcements we were off. It didn’t take long before the water was spraying all over the place. The pace did not seem too fast, but I know I tend to go a little faster than I should at the start. I kept moving around trying to find wheels to follow with out putting in too much effort. I found myself being surrounded by some people that I should not be trying to keep up with. I found some other wheels to ride with and took a little off of the pace. It was going to be a long day and no need to blow up before the first climb.

The paved climb in the middle of no where came up soon enough. I actually didn’t do to bad on it and Strava says it was a PR for that section. The next several miles I found myself riding around the same few riders. They would get me on the climbs and I would bomb past them on the down hills. Soon we were heading in to Combs road. After the last ride there, I knew this section would be tough. There were several riders with bike issues in this section.

I was not riding too bad in this section. I was riding a lot of parts that people were having issues with. The creek crossings were deep and plenty of mud to go around. I had a few gears that started to grind pretty good when I was using them. I just tried to pick one that was not making noise and went that speed because I didn’t need to rip the rear derailleur off that early in the race. I was very thankful that the easiest gear in the back was one of the few that were working. I felt like I could have gone faster in a few spots, but I didn’t want to risk using those gears in that kind of situation. I made it up to the last little pitch on the climb and the chain was really making some noise. I didn’t want to, but I decided that I should walk the last section and save my bike. The down hill section was quite interesting as my brakes were not working all that well. Just enough to slow me down if I really needed it.

In all I actually thought that Combs road would have been even worse. Don’t get me wrong, it was not that great, but I am pretty sure I have seen it in worse conditions. The next section of road started off pretty good, but right after the bridge crossing it got a lot softer and more standing water. I just tried to pick good lines and keep the pace moving with out crashing or breaking the bike. I was not doing too bad on the climb right up to a spot that the back wheel spun out on a rock or something. I walked a little bit and then hopped back on. I did not climb it anywhere close to the speed that I could have, but I just had to do what I could. The next section to the road was spend crossing back and forth on the trail just trying to take the best lines.

The road section moved along pretty good. It was nice to have one of the People’s Brewing guys to ride with. We chatted a little and took some turns drafting off each other. It was nice riding on the road, but it would not last long. I started up the Nebo Ridge climb just trying to pick a line that I could keep traction. I didn’t do too bad, but did spin out on one part. Other than that I rode everything and made pretty good time considering everything. I even cruised down the down hills better than before. Maybe because the brakes were not really working anymore. I did have a few times that I thought I might go down, but thankfully I never did

The next road section I just tried to put it in a big gear and cruise with out using too much energy to hold that speed. The legs tend to feel a little better after I can spin them out for a little bit. I knew what was coming up ahead and needed all the hills I could find. I tried to take in some food and water so I had all the energy needed to climb the next few hills. Mt. Baldy hurt pretty bad. I kept moving, but no where near my fastest time. I passed the rest stop at the top and prepared to bomb down the hill. I knew this was a place I could let it all hang out and gain some time.

The next hill didn’t hurt as bad as Mt. Baldy, but I was still moving way to slow. Somewhere in this section I looked at how many miles I had in and how much time I had left to be able to finish in under 5 hours. Apparently my math was not the best, but I figured that there would be no way to be able to meet my goal. I just figured I would keep riding and get back as soon as I could.

I was hurting pretty good for the next several miles. I think the self realization that I was not going to reach my goal and the fact that it had been a while since I could feel my feet started some bad thoughts. At one point I even thought of a short cut to get me back to the car. After trail 21 I just kept moving. Charles was there and cheered me on. That was very uplifting and helped me get past this next loop. Near the top of the hill I thought that I could take the left and the car would be not too far away. Then I figured if I took the energy to climb this silly hill, I better not quit and head back. I did lose traction and had to walk the last few feet of the climb. After I started going again I glanced back and thought I saw the green jacket of my team mate Alex.

I figured he would soon catch me on this next section. He has been a lot stronger than me and I figured he would have caught me long before now. I didn’t see anyone for a while and figured maybe I was just seeing things. I went a little too fast on the down hill section back to where trail 21 comes out, but thankfully I could keep the bike upright and rolling good. I didn’t waste any time at the intersection and rolled on by. At this point not only could I not feel my feet, I could not feel my hands. Those fast down hill sections were good for getting back sooner, but they were also a heck of a lot colder than the climbs.

I struggled on the trail 12 section. There are a lot of dips and things that were hard for me to ride. I had to walk a few more sections and the other sections that I was riding was pretty sketchy. I thought I heard a few people behind me so I just kept trying to move the best I could. Toward the end of this section Alex did catch me. He yelled at me to give me a hard time. I was pretty out of it at that point and was just going to move over for him and almost wrecked. I know that is not what he was trying to do, but that is what almost happened.

I followed him to the end of the trail section. I was feeling pretty bad at that point and before I got out of the woods I figured I might as well go ahead and answer natures call. I needed to go for quite a while at that point and figured why not stop since I was not going to hit the 5 hour mark. I have never gone in my kit as I rode, but with the amount of rain and mud this was the day that I really thought about it. Alex was eating some Doritos when I came up and then he proceeded to feed me a few hand fulls so he would not eat them all and I emptied the bag.

We took off both hurting pretty bad. That next climb really hurt. I  was so ready for the next turn and then the one after that. The church could not have came too soon. I tried to ride with Alex for his section, but we would yo-yo back and forth depending if we were climbing or descending. We hit a big hill and I pulled away from him. I tried to wait on him a few times, but I was just really ready to be done and the pedals were just turning what ever pace they wanted to go. Shortly after that I noticed a rider up ahead. That helped me find a little more motivation to reel him in. I did just that and promptly dropped him. I just kept moving as fast and smooth as I could. I was starting to feel a little better. It must have been those Doritos that gave me that extra little power.

I was in my big ring and rolling pretty good. I was very happy when I saw the church and took that corner. I guess I could really smell the finish line there and the legs were working really good. I have no idea how fast I was moving since my computer had been covered by mud since mile 6. There was another two more riders that I reeled in and passed in this section. Near the end the legs were screaming, but I knew the end was near and kept pushing. I thought I could hear one of those riders coming up behind me, but it turns out that it was probably just my imagination.

I was so relieved when I could see the horse camp through the trees. Then I remembered that I still needed to cross one more creek. I tried to pick a good line and just went for it. I knew it was deep and was not good for my bike, but after what I just put it through it could not be that much worse for it. It felt like the water was up to my knees as I rolled in the middle. I almost messed up on the other side as I saw a big rock under the water and barely negotiated around it and climbed the last hill to cross the finish.

I was drained and just leaned on my bars resting. I figured Alex should have been right behind me. After waiting a minute I asked one of the photographers what time it was. He said 5 till 3. It took a minute for that to sink in and then I was like wait…umm…what?? If we started right at 10, then 3 o’clock would be the 5 hour mark. This means that I finished in under 5 hours. I was not sure what to think at that point. I could not have been happier at that moment. I could not wait any longer as I could not feel most of my body and headed back to the cabin. It was so awesome to have the whole People’s brewing group hanging out there waiting for me and cheering as I rolled up. I never expected that and was one of the best moments of the weekend. Even when other people were staying in the cabin with me, no one hung out waiting for me.

I cleaned myself up and changed clothes. They headed over to the dining hall to eat and pick up there first and second place awards for the single speed class. Then I made it in to the hall and picked up my plate of food and did not even sit down and my name was called out for a door prize.

I ended up finishing with 4:53 and in 41st place overall. 12th place in the masters class. Not too bad with there being 120 finishers and over 150 people signed up. This is by far the highest finish that I have ever had. Most years I didn’t finish under the top 100 overall. Granted the turn out was down some because of the weather, but I am still pretty happy with it. It is pretty hard to believe that I could actually finish under my goal with the conditions that we had to ride in. It makes me wonder just how fast I could have finished it if was on the dry side. It leads me to believe that with a little more work I could finish somewhere near that 4:30 range. Now I guess I have something to shoot for next year. I will have to decide what bike I plan on riding. I know there are sections that I can ride faster on my mtb, but not sure if I can maintain the speed on the sections that my cross bike excels. I do know that my hands hurt really bad today from trying to hold on to those bars. I am sure my hands would not hurt as bad if I was holding on to a flat bar. I guess I have 363 days to figure that out.

I would like to thank Brian and the team at Dino for putting this event on. I think they did a great job this year and if Sub 9 was not going to be there, I am very glad that they decided to keep this thing moving. I also want to thank Phil @ Adventures Recreation, with out them I would not have had the gear to keep me as warm and comfortable as I was and a bike that was not flawless, but held on in some crazy conditions to get me to the finish line. I need to thank Honey Stinger and Tailwind Nutrition for helping me keep my body fueled up and hydrated. I also need to thank Stan’s No Tubes for some awesome wheels and tubeless fluid. There were several sections out there that I thought I destroyed a wheel or would have at least had a flat. Neither of those things happened and I had no reason to stop.

Posted in Bikes, Dino Series, Gravel, gravel, hills, Racing, racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grovel is coming

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It is getting to be about that time of year again. I normally sit here wondering if I will finally be able to go sub 5 hours for the Gravel Grovel. Even this year I am wondering almost the same thing, but with one change. Doing some research on my past efforts trying to figure out the magic plan, I came across some information that was a little shocking to me. It seems that in 2010 I finished with a time of 4:59 breaking that elusive sub 5 hour mark. To add to that shocking feat I found that I did it on a SS MTB with huge fat tires and at a time when there was a lot more road sections on the race course then more recent years. My next fastest time was done on that same SS MTB, but with smaller 35mm tires. I really think I would have surpassed that time that year, but I had a flat near the end of the race and walked to the finish. Changing the tire would have taken a little bit of work and I thought I was almost there. I came to find out that I was not near as close to the end as I thought, but after walking a while I was too frustrated to give up and fix the tire. I have no idea how much time I spent walking, but I am sure it was well over the 15 minutes that I was over the 5 hours.

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I have put in a good amount of riding at the end of this year and probably in the best condition that I have been going in to this event. I think I have the bike set up as fast as I can and hope to have some good legs show up Saturday morning. The temperature does not look too bad, but the chances of rain leading up to the event and that morning are not looking too good. That can plan a big part in how fast I can finish. The one good thing I have going for me is that typically I ride fairly well in that kind of stuff. I hope to get past the tough sections without any issues and set the cruise control for the final stretch.

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Over the last month or so I have put in a lot more gravel/trail miles around here. I have also made two different trips to check out the different sections of the race route. I am confident in all of the intersections now and have a much better idea of some things to expect. I really enjoy group rides like the two scouting trips. It lets me ride with some people that I might not see too often or meet new people. The people are what make things even more fun than just riding my bike around. I can do that all alone and still have fun, but doing it with friends make it even better. I hope to see a lot of familiar faces this weekend, be it at the start line, finish line or somewhere in between. Be safe and keep the rubber side down.

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Posted in DINO, Dino Series, Gravel, gravel, Racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Zionsville Harvest 50

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When I first heard about the Zionsville Harvest 50 it sounded like a great idea. Here is a 50 mile gravel race that is a few weeks before the Gravel Grovel. I figured at the very least it would be a great training ride. I heard that it was not very hilly and figured that would play in to my strengths or to be more accurate, have less of my weakness. I am not really sure I have any strengths. I do tend to hold my speed better when it is flatter. I can climb, but I don’t currently climb at the speed that I need to be able to keep up with the faster guys.

As I looked in to this race there was something that was a little concerning to me. The race route was not going to be marked. The plan was to get the route uploaded in to my Garmin so I had something to follow. The problem with this plan is that I had never tried it. I had the route loaded and selected, but when we started it just didn’t work. I am not clear on what I did wrong, but I am sure I did something. I will have to figure that out a little sooner next time I need something like that.

I signed up thinking that it would not be hard to find someone to ride along with me, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. The weather was going to be cool and a good chance of rain. This in itself would not have been too much of an issue for me. When I add the solo 3 hour drive time to the equation, it was not sounding like such a good idea. But, since I had already signed up, I figured I might as well make the trip and get a good ride in.

I made it there early enough to have plenty of time to get ready and sign in. It was not easy figuring out what to wear. This time of year is always difficult because so many things play in to how cold it will really feel on the bike. Looking at other riders didn’t really help either. Some were bundled up like it was going to be -30 degrees and some guys were riding around in shorts. I went with the shorts and knee warmers figuring that covered the important parts. It turned out that I made a good enough decision and was fairly comfortable for the whole ride. Some places were warm and some were cool. I could not have asked for anything better.

After a few announcements the neutral roll out took off. We rolled down the road a little ways before ending up looking at a double track trail section. They let everyone regroup before sending us on our way. Silly me, I thought I might actually be able to hang with one of the front groups. I have done ok on some group rides and figured just maybe for a little while. That little while was very little. The front took off pretty fast and before I knew it my heart rate was out the roof. I should have known better with it being cold and the lack of the warm up.

I backed off my pace and grabbed on to any wheel I could find. I was hurting, but improving some. The plan was to stick to whatever wheel felt right and try to not do anything silly. I started to feel a little better as I jumped from wheel to wheel. After I found some guys that seemed to be about the right pace, I would take my turn up front and next thing I knew I was all alone. This happened several times as I was just trying to return the favor. I am not sure if I pulled harder than they did or if they just didn’t like holding a wheel on the gravel.

Some groups would stay together longer than others, but it never seemed to stick. A big group came rolling along and I jumped on with them. There were some familiar faces in there and they were much stronger than I expected to be able to hang with. I was not doing badly, but the back tire was going low again. This was more evident on the road sections. The group also got split up on one of the road crossings that looked to maybe also be a water stop. We kept going but I finally had to pull over to shoot some air in it before I really flatted or wiped out from it being so low.

It didn’t take very long, but I was all alone to try and figure out a new plan. To my luck I was following some riders up ahead and next thing I knew they were heading toward me. I guess they missed a turn and we had to go back for it. This let me hook up with a rider that I had been with earlier. He put in a good pull so I went to return the favor. There were three other guys just up the road. After I bridged up to them I looked back to see that the other rider was no longer on my wheel. I felt bad that I dropped him since he had done a lot of work for me up to that point, but not bad enough that I dropped back for him. It seemed like two of the guys I was with knew the route. This was a good thing since my plan was not working.

This section was fairly tough with the wind and the deeper gravel sections that the group was split up. Where there were 4 now there was just two of us off the front. We took turns pulling and just trying to keep moving as fast as possible. I was starting to struggle some again, but not bad enough that I was dropped. After a few sections of road we saw two riders up ahead looking like they were not sure what direction to turn. We yelled up ahead what was to go and with the traffic we all ended up being together. In this duo was a People’s Brewing single speeder that I knew and felt better actually knowing someone in the group. But, I was surprised that I caught him and figured that he could leave us anytime he wanted to.

Somewhere along the way we dropped the fourth rider and we were down to only three left. The miles were adding up and I knew we had to be betting close to the end. This point in the race it was very nice having someone that knew where we were going. It would have been a mess trying to figure out where we were on the map and where we needed to go. At one point I was pulling and thought the navigator was on my wheel. Turns out it was the People’s guy and we dropped the other guy. He was nice enough to yell at us and we had to turn around and catch back up to him.

I was feeling better than I was earlier and felt like I could have dropped our navigator at any point. I told the other guy that I was not going to challenge the navigator because without him I would have been much farther back and probably still looking at a map. The route was starting to look familiar and not long after we hit the double track, I popped out and jumped on the pedals like I was doing a break away. I only did it for a few seconds and then sat up and said, just joking. I am not sure what he thought since he didn’t really say much. I squeezed back in behind him and rolled across the finish line in 9th place for masters 40-49. As it turns out, the guy in front of me was also in my age group, but even if I knew that I would not have passed him at the line. I was way too valuable to have someone know the way.

The route really didn’t have much climbing at all. I normally would have thought that would be a good thing, but this race was no joke. I was hurting bad when I finished. Maybe it was that I just really pushed myself, but the truth is that we were on the gas for the entire race. Late in the day I was begging for another road section or a climb just so I could coast some. It was either the wind or deep gravel or probably a little of both, but even when drafting off of someone you could not really coast.

I will say they did a good job of having people directing the racers earlier in the day. I am not sure if that continued all day since I was no longer in contact with the front group. I am glad that I kept in contact with other riders and at least a few of them knew where they were going. I would like to thank Tim Cassidy and Nebo Ridge bicycles for putting on this race. I enjoy the gravel stuff and glad to see more options popping up. I hope to make it back again next year.

 

Posted in Gravel, gravel, Racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Dino Ferdinand Forest race

Sorry this is running a little late. Time has been flying. I am not really sure where to start with this race as there is just so many little things about this race that made it a blast for me. It was 2007 the last time that the DINO series made a stop in Ferdinand to check out the trails.  I can understand the hesitation to use this stop in the series. It seems that the turn out is always low. There seems to be two big reasons why the turn out is not better. The first reason is that the trail seems to have a reputation of being hilly. I guess that is not all false as there is a lot of climbing with about 1500 foot of elevation gain for a 10.5 mile loop. That may sound bad, but think about all the changes that have been made over the years to make the trail more enjoyable and how much worse it would seem for everyone. I don’t think too many people believe me when I say that right now the trails are the easiest that they have ever been. Yes, it is still not what I would call easy.

Along with the climbing the other complaint is how far it is to drive for a lot of racers. I suppose I can understand that as it is also a reason that I don’t attend a lot of the other Dino races. Some may think that they can get all the races in with out making the trip down there. My though is why do the series when I have to drive so far for almost every race. With French Lick no longer in the picture and I am sure Ferdinand will not be back next year, that means that the closest race I can hit is 2 hours away and the rest of them are even farther away. The driving and schedule conflicts have been the reason that I have not had too many recent years that I have done enough races to actually finish the series.

The week leading up to the race I wanted to get out there and refresh my mtb legs. With the rains, it had been a few weeks since I made it out there. It had been dry and should have been a great night to ride, but mother nature wanted to keep it interesting. We made it out the the fire tower and it looked like a storm was blowing in. The wind was picking up and we could see the dark clouds in the distance. Two of us decided to keep going and one turned back. The next section of trail it looked like it might get crazy soon, but nothing happened yet. It was not until we were in the fire lane 7 section heading to the back lakes before it decided to let loose. The wind was crazy, lightning and thunder was everywhere. The rain started to pour down on us. At this point all we could do was keep going. That was some of the most intense riding that I have done in a very long time. We were very happy to make it back to the car with the weather clearing up. I joked about heading out for some more, but I was soaked.

This ride was scary and awesome in so many ways. The bad thing about this ride was that even after cleaning my stuff up, it seemed like my shifting was not working as smooth as it should be. I had a lot going on and was not able to get the cable replaced before the race. This had be really wondering what bike to race. I knew that the gears would be a much easier route than riding the SS, but how mad would be if my gears would mess up in the middle of the race. The other side of me was thinking about how good I tend to ride when I am on the SS. So, what to do?? I was still undecided the morning of the race. I loaded both bikes up and figured I would make my mind up sometime before I had to hit the start line.

Well for some reason I convinced myself that the SS was the smart bike to ride. I figured what the heck. I probably won’t win since my legs were not that great for the last few weeks (not like I have normally had a chance). There was some rain leading up to the race so there could be some wet spots. Add that to the shifting issues and it started to sound like the correct idea. I also kind of wanted to do it just because it seemed like everyone complained about how hilly the trail is. What better way to prove that wrong than ride a rigid SS.

I know know what it is about this bike, but I have such a great time riding it no matter how tough the ride is. Most of the time I seem to find some super human strength to ride stuff that I normally would not be able to do. Too late to turn back now. I went out for a pre-ride and thought we might be over doing it. We took the road up toward the camp ground the hard way. Then we went down the gravel road to jump on to the half loop. From there we did the last section of the trail. I also went around the start area and checked out the first climb from the field. I know that section has always been and issue and was not sure what condition it was currently in. I typically don’t ride that because it is so bad.

Apparently they had put down some rock for a running race that was supposed to be earlier in the year. It was still not worked in to the ground very well and was soft. I rode a short section and made the decision to walk that section as I didn’t feel it was worth burning all those matches that early in the race. I finished getting ready and before I knew it the racers were being called to the line.

I jumped into the pack, but when we moved up to the start line I was not too worried about being on the front line. I took it fairly easy in the loop that went around the field, but was not in last when we hit the trail. I crossed the creek and started up the rock climb. I was just going to go a little ways until it started to get soft. Well the traction was going well and before I knew it, I was much farther up the climb than I expected. At that point I figured I made it that far I might as well keep going. So, I was off to a bad start climbing the hill that I didn’t want to climb. I then made my way up the fire lane climb moving in front of a few more racers. The section that I knew would be wet was much worse than I expected, but some how I made it all the way with out working too hard.

I was hurting, but still doing better than expected. I kept pushing my way around the loop. I had a few spots that were tough on me since I was behind a slower geared rider spinning in granny. One of the hardest hills on Southridge almost got me, but somehow I made it to the top and then passed the rider holding me up. I kept making good time for several miles. First time that I was really starting to hurt was just before making it to the road on the fire tower climb. The 50+ riders caught and passed me here. I was hurting so I decided to walk the last little section up to the fire tower. Not sure if that was a good idea or not, but I had to deal with it. I did have a rider catch and pass me while I walked, but by the time we hit the bottom of the hill I was back on his wheel. I passed him before entering the new section so I would not be held up on the new climb.

I rode pretty well for the rest of the lap and did’t really loose places and actually gained a couple. As I went around the start finish area the women’s leader caught me. I let her go around because I was really feeling the first lap and figured she would climb a lot better than me. This lap I was smart and walked the real soft section of the rock climb in to the woods. I felt like I was going slower from here, but was still climbing. My lower back was really starting to hurt and the legs were tired. I tried to drink and eat to regain some strength. I ended up catching a rider at the top of Foxey Hollow. He let me go by and was thankful that I showed him the fast line down the hills. After the creek crossing I made it up the next hill and didn’t see him again. I was hurting, but knew the end was near and kept pushing.

I finished solid and can not complain about my ride at all. I ended up in 6th place for the 40-49 class. I was about 8 min. behind placing and I am just fine with that. I will always wonder if I could have done better with the geared bike or would it have been worse? I will never know. The only thing I will know is that the geared bike could have been a lot less painful with some more gears to pick from. Less pain does not mean faster.

I have to thank DINO for giving Ferdinand another try and hope they come back soon. I also have to thank Honey Stinger and Tailwind Nutrition for giving me the energy to ride like I did. My ESI extra chunky grips for making my rigid SS feel like it had a shock on the front. The Stans NoTubes wheels mated with an Endless Kickass cog has made this the best rolling bike that I have ever been on. I also need to thank Basket Case Brewing for the after race drinks that were much needed to help heal the pain. It was great hanging out with teammates and friends after the race. That was the most fun that I have had like that for a very long time.

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2015 Burning Quad

I found myself once again lined up to race the Burning Quad. The Burning Quad is a road criterium held in Evansville. At one time I had made the statement that I would never do a Crit race. I had no interest in them and most of all I didn’t want to get hurt. To me there is a high percentage of accidents that can happen. I am not sure if this is correct or not, but I do know that there have been crashes in almost every race weekend that I have attended, but here I am. The thing that seems to shock me even more is that this was not my first race. In fact, this was the third time that I have attended this race.

The couple of weeks leading up to the race it seemed that my legs were not doing very well. There were times that I could ride fairly well, but they just didn’t have the power that they should have had and that is not good for crit racing. At this point it really didn’t matter. I have had a great time at this race and was going to attend no matter what.

My plan was to get there early and race the cat 5 race. I normally would have preferred to race the 4/5 race because it seems to be a little safer race and also because I had some team mates racing the 4/5 race. But, when I found out that another team mate was going to race the cat 5 race, I figured I would do the smart thing and just race with the 5’s. That all sounded good right up to the point where I didn’t get moving early enough to make it to the race as early as planned. I got there and signed up and went to get ready. That is when we realized that we only had maybe 10 min. to really get ready. That was just not going to work out so the decision was to move the entries to the 4/5 race.

Let’s talk about the course a little. The last two years there was a section that went down / up to a lower boat ramp section. This year with all the high water, that section of road was still a muddy mess and not used for the race. Some people probably preferred that as previous years I heard some comments on the climb out of the boat ramp being difficult. I have had some issues with it too, but the rest of that section seemed to be worth the effort. Now we were going to have a 180 degree turn followed by a very long straightaway and right in to another 180 degree turn. The turns were not really a concern to me, but the accelerations out of that corner would be my weak point.

The race started and we were off. I stayed with the front pack for a few laps. It is really hard to remember just how many because I moved around some and also had a few times where I was about spit out the back. I was pretty happy with how it was going, but we had a lot of time left in the race and the legs were going quickly. Out of one of the 180 degree corners I could not make the acceleration and was dropped from the group. I was not too upset because I didn’t have very high expectations.

Not too much later I joined a few other guys and we had a nice little group riding for a while. We worked together fairly well, but the things that were not good for me was that I could corner much better than they could. I didn’t have an issue dropping them on the 180s, but I didn’t have the legs to be out front the whole time and one of the laps I tried to get farther back in the pack, I ended up behind a guy that really could not corner the 180s. He almost came to a stop on the back to back corners and then he would sprint out of the corner. Needless to say the second corner after having to slow down way too much to keep from hitting him, I didn’t have the legs to power out of the corner.

Now I am really in no man’s land. There was a rider or so behind me, but they were farther back than I wanted to sit up and wait for. I just continued to ride along as best that I could. I saw the pack catching me, so I eased up and moved over to give them plenty of room. The next time I passed the start finish I was told I was done. I was pulled because I was lapped. Overall I am not too upset with everything. I was pulled with only 3 more laps to go, so I am pretty happy that I held on that long. I do wish I could have seen just how long I could hold on to that group. I should have dug deeper to bridge the gap and then work on moving up in to the middle of that pack. Stay away from the ones to corner the slowest, but yet try to recover as much as I could on the rest of the loop.

It is really hard telling how much longer I could have held on, but I sure wish I would have. After this race I always get the urge to do more crit races. They can be a lot of fun and there are a lot of good people around. I would just need to work on my power out of the corners a little more if I really wanted to have a chance to stay with the group. Maybe next year

I want to thank 40lb Sledgehammer for putting on this race. It has been very fun every year and I will be back next year if at all possible. Not real sure what is in store for the rest of my off road racing season. This weather has really messed up a lot of races and some are not going to be rescheduled. Right now my main focus will be to try and peak for the Gravel Grovel. I really NEED to get below the 5 hour mark. I know I can if I work at it.

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Southern 5 Tipsaw race

Not sure I can just start in with the race report. There has been a huge void of posts on here this year and I am sorry for that. It has been busy and when I do something to post about it takes me too many days to post. I have spent a lot of my spring driving to and from soccer practices and games. This also has me eating a lot of fast food and other bad things. I did try to take my bike along to get some miles in while waiting for practice, but it didn’t work out too well. I did manage to get out and check out a trail system that I had not been to since probably the late 90’s. I made two trips in the same week to Wapahani MTB park in Bloomington. On both occasions I took the Misfit and realized I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed riding a SS bike. I am far from being in shape enough to ride it everywhere yet, but I hope to improve that.

The lack of riding does not mean that I have been doing nothing. I was pressured in to trying out the new Crossfit gym that opened in town, Crossfit Discipline. I had a lot of doubts that I would be able to continue to work out at that kind of level with all of the pain that I normally feel all over my body and in my joints. All I can say is that the workouts are a lot harder than I imagined, but I have been feeling good about how well they have been working out for me. I have not really been hurting other than what would be expected from doing some hard efforts, the good pain. I have had a few moments of wrist pain, but not near what I would have expected and it didn’t really stick around.

Leading up to the race I was trying to figure out if I was going to race or not. Not being in actual race condition and with some of the trail reports of it being wet and grown up in places, had me not sure what to do. We were planning on going out of town that day to make the long journey to where we had a soccer game the next day. My youngest son also had a game that morning. We were going to watch the game and then make the drive. Late in the week I decided that I could just go race and then we could make the drive. The problem was that not being in shape I knew I was not going to be actually racing. A good work out was needed and seeing some people that I only see at races sounded like a good idea.

Somewhere in that good plan, some not so good ideas started to show up. It had been several years since I had rode there, but I knew it was not very hilly. I also had some new wheels on my rekindled love of one gear riding. I figured why not. Take the SS and have a good workout and have some fun. it sounded like a good plan until that morning when we got there and went to do some warm up. The first section we went on was a bigger hill than I had ever seen there before. This had me wondering if there were any more out there to mess up the thought of this place being flat. Then we hit the flatter section at the top and with in a short time I was also reminded about all the rocks that were hiding everywhere to keep it interesting. It was not a good warm up and I was thinking that I should have brought the other bike or it would have at least been better if this bike had a shock on the front. But it was too late now and I was stuck with the plan.

At the start I tried to not get too far up front since I am out of shape. It seemed that there were a few other people thinking the same as I ended up farther up front than I figured I would. I made my way up the first hill and prepared for the rocks. I must have loosened up my arms because the rocks were not as bad as the warm up ride. The bigger issues was trying to ride behind another rider and not be able to see where the rocks were. I passed a few and was passed by some others. The first lap went much better than I thought and was riding well. I just kept trying to keep the pedals turning and pick good lines.

I will say that my new ESI grips were awesome!! I could not believe how much they helped. With all those rocks and a rigid fork my hands and arms would have normally been hurting badly, but these grips were doing a great job of helping me keep it in control and not feel all beat up. I am sure that made a big difference on how well I could keep my momentum.

The second lap I was more tired and the starting hill was a lot harder than the first lap. On the next section where the rocks were I made a lot more mistakes and poor line choices, but somehow kept the bike upright and moving forward. I was still moving pretty good and not really getting passed. I did reel in a few riders and ended up passing them. There was a rock road section that was not good for this bike as I could only go so fast. I know if I had some gears I would have been able to go faster, but I just tried to spin as fast as I could and coast.

The third lap hurt a lot more. I was debating on walking the first climb, but when I looked up and saw the photographer on top of the hill, I knew I didn’t want any pictures of me walking. I dug in and made it up the hill. I remembered some climbing techniques I have not needed for a while since I had not rode my SS much last year at all. I tried to keep the bike moving at my zen pace and pick good lines. Late in the lap it seemed to run on for ever. I kept looking over my shoulder just sure that someone was going to catch me. I was also waiting for the front of the Cat 1 class to come lap me.

Neither of those things ended up happening and soon I was rolling across the finish line. I was so happy that I had to do my typical finish and ride a wheelie. It actually went well and looked pretty nice. I was very happy with my effort and how I rode. I dug deep and pushed threw it to keep moving. After a while I saw thee results and I ended up in 9th for the Intermediate or Cat 2 class. That was much better than I could have expected. There must have been a lot of riders that dropped out because I would have expected to be farther back then that.

Overall it was a great race. It gave me some hope that I will be able to find some race legs yet this year and maybe end up actually racing by the end of the year. With soccer over I will be able to get more miles in on the bikes. I also plan on keeping up the crossfit to keep getting stronger. I am sure that with out the help of the good people at Crossfit Discipline, I would have never been able race as strong as I did. The ESI grips made a huge difference in me keeping the bike in control and rolling upright. The Stans No Tubes wheels performed flawlessly and were much lighter than what I had on there before. Honey Stinger also kept me riding strong. Hopefully this is just the start of a good rest of the year.

I would like to thank Chris and all of the workers at 40 lb Sledgehammer for putting on such a great race. I love how much the series has grown since last year. It is great to have this kind of even in southern Indiana.

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