So here it is, the middle of my pizza/hamburger/French fry/beer season. I haven’t had a hamburger, pizza or French fries in a few weeks. I think I had a beer last weekend. My normally healthy eating habits seem to have taken over. Does this mean that the rest of me is ready to get back into the ‘routine’? I don’t think so. Most of my cycling posse have already started on next years training programs and I’m still a couple of weeks away from even thinking about doing anything that resembles a structured plan. Physical activities have pretty much consisted of riding once or twice a week and hitting the weight room three times a week.
The down time has been nice, but it’s always a challenge trying to figure out productive ways to occupy the time that was normally spent in the saddle. So here’s what I’ve been up to for the past month or so.
The IMBCS (Iowa Mountain Biking Championship Series). I’ve been dumping a ton of time into the series this fall/winter. I’m working on some spreadsheets that will enable me to track points much more efficiently and they are almost done, woohoo! I’ve also been encouraging all of the race directors to give us their race dates for next years races as soons as possible. The goal is for Thad and I to have next years schedule put together and out for public record by the end of the year. We have a few dates set but I don’t want to disclose anything until we get all of the dates finalized. Our hope is to avoid any conflicts with some of the more important road events and also the Nebraska State Mountain Biking Series (Psycowpath). I’ve also been working with Grand Master Lou in getting a stand alone website for IORCA / IMBCS put together.
I can tell you that we will have one new cross country race this season that is being hosted by Amanda Miller at Geode State Park (about 90 minutes south of Iowa City). I’ve ridden there before, maybe four or five years ago. All that I remember of it is that it was flat, fast, I had an altercation with a tree that resulted in my grown getting slammed into my stem, and maybe there was a lake there. It kind of had a Peterson Pits feel to it. It should be a great event and I’m looking forward to it.
There is also a really good chance of there being two stage races in the 2006 edition of the IMBCS. In addition to the stage race that will be held at Seven Oaks, Andy Lueck has also decided to try a stage race down at Sockum Ridge, the same place that I saw that one-eyed farmer who told me he saw a bear or a lion in them thar woods…. Actually, I don’t remember what kind of an animal it was that he saw. I do remember that I was more afraid of him than any animal he may have seen. There are a lot of trails there that were not a part of last seasons cross country race, so it should be a pretty sweet event. We plan to score the stage race events a little differently next season. If you participate in both days of the stage event, you will earn double points for the weekend. If you choose to just do the cross country event on Sunday, then you will only score points for one event.
Eating. I’ve probably had a hamburger and French fries more times in the past couple of months than I’ve had the past five years combined. We’re not talking about the McDonalds / Burger King crap where the ‘beef’ comes from some stray dog that was found in the back alley. I’m talking about a real burger from a real cow and French fries that come from real potatoes. I’ve also probably consumed more beer and wine than I have in the past five years as well. Not to the point where my lips turn purple as Grand Master Lou is well known for after downing a few bottles of the Seven Deadly Zins. I can’t drink that much anymore, just the smell of wine or beer gets my head buzzin’. The beautiful thing about all of this debauchery is that I’ve only gained about seven pounds. Sweet.
Training… Maybe the term ‘exercising’ might be a little more appropriate. I’ve only been riding once or twice a week for the past month or so. Lately it’s been too crappy and cold out for night rides. I usually cut out of work around 11 on Fridays, so I’ll hook up with Grand Master Lou, Petey, tPod and Jedi Master Gammel and we’ll hit the Science Center for about 90 minutes. My only focus during these rides is working on bike handling skills, with no concern about effort or fitness. This is especially good when there is snow or ice on the trail. I also think it is important to spend a little time off of the bike during the off season. Being a weekend warrior helps to recharge my mental batteries. It’s been pretty easy to maintain a little fitness doing other forms of exercise such as the stair hamster, eating and thinking about bike racing.
Training plan. I've been a self coached cyclist from day one and it has definitely been a learning experience. I've been very fortunate in that I’ve made fairly substantial improvements every year. So my plan for next season is to do better than last season. I’ll do basically the same thing that I did last season with a few minor tweaks here and there. I did very little LT training last season, mainly because I chose to spend more time working on my bike handling skills. So I’ll try to incorporate a little more LT training in for next season.
I’ve also spent the past two months in the weight room. The first couple of weeks basically consisted of lifting embarrassingly light weights with high repetitions. If you’re a dude and your main objective in going to the gym is to impress female(s), I would recommend doing this phase elsewhere. I’ll spend the next month or so doing what I call muscular strength workouts. The main objective with MS workouts is gain strength in certain key muscle groups, including legs and certain upper body groups that are needed to ‘throw the bike around’. I’m also doing a lot of core exercises, which I do throughout the year.
I’ve also hooked up with a new road team with the intent on doing a few road races next season. The team is called ‘Midwest Speed Merchants’ and is run by triathlon badass JJ Bailey. My primary focus will still be on the dirt and I’ll fit in road events during the off weekends. The team consists of JJ, Ralph Henderson, myself, Tony Nichols (tPod), Kim West (the mostly reverend), Garrett Davis, Nathan Bartels and Collier Schofield (southern fried Collier). Five of us are cat 3’s and my primary responsibility will be to work my arse off for my teammates and help deliver wins. I chose to join this team because I like what JJ’s goals are, it’s a really good fit for me. JJ is launching a coaching business and he and I have very similar philosophies and ideas when it comes to training and racing. I would also like to get to the point where I can upgrade to a cat 2 by early summer, we’ll see how it goes. It’s looking like there will be quite a few early season mountain bike races so it may be difficult to squeeze in enough road events to qualify.
As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I’ve had an incredible season. I collected 10 wins in the IMBCS and 2 wins in the Psycowpath series, I also won a couple of cat 3 races last spring. Some of my more memorable moments from last season would probably be repeating as IMBCS champion, that’s always a good thing. I think two of my biggest moments were getting my first overall win in the Nebraska series. That was a pretty huge breakthrough for me and gave me a ton of confidence for the remainder of the season. Winning my second Nebraska series race was just as big because it was also the Nebraska NORBA state championship race. I also have to mention my training camp in Colorado. The riding in Durango is absolutely incredible. I also had a great time riding with Fig Nooner in Aspen for a few days. Colorado is always one of the highlights for every season.
There a few people that played a pretty significant role in my success. Firstly, my Mom and Dad were huge. They both show an incredible amount of enthusiasm for what I do. My Mom lives in the Quad Cities and usually attends a couple of my races every year. When you consider that she has her own ambitions with running road races, marathons included, almost every weekend, it means a lot to me that she takes time from her busy schedule to come and watch. My Dad lives in Texas and would come to every race if he could. He also does a lot of riding including mountain biking. I usually have two training camps every season, one in Durango and the other in Texas. He’s there for both and provides an enormous amount of support. I also get all of his hand-me-downs, including my new hard tail race rig for next season, 2003 Specialized S-Works M5. I call him the schwag man, but he also goes by ‘Plumber’ and ‘the old man’.
Rasmussen Bike Shop. I can’t say enough about all that Greg Rasmussen, Sterling Heise and the Rassy crew do for me. I started racing back in 1999 and spent my first five years racing on a team based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Just about all of my races were in Wisconsin and Rassy’s still took good care of me despite all of that. This season was my first season as an actual member of the team and it is by far the best team that I’ve ever been on. I truly wish that I would have joined sooner. There have been a number of times when they would go well out of there way to help out when I needed something. There is no way that I can possibly put into words how much I appreciate every thing that Greg and Sterling do for me. In addition to all of that, it’s simply a great place to just hang out. It’s not unusual for me to spend an hour or two there, shootin’ the breeze, playing cribbage, tinkering with my bikes or trying to provoke Terry to play his strawivari (if you don’t know what this is, ask him).
Oakley. Rob Versteegh, the local Oakley rep has given me some great deals on Oakley gear. They have the best eyewhere, hands down. I race with the Half Jacket Array glasses and have never had a problem with them.
Last spring Diamondback gave me their 2005 full suspension race frame, rear shock included, free of charge. It took me the better part of the summer to get it put together and the remainder of the summer to get used to it. I did the 24 hour race at Seven Oaks on it and my back thanked me for it. I raced mostly on my Mongoose because it is about 5 ½ pounds lighter. I could loose or gain 5 pounds on any given day depending on how much I eat and/or purge. The more that I ride the Diamondback, the more I like it. I feel very comfortable on it now and really don’t think the added weight is that much of a disadvantage.
My big goals for next season are to repeat as IMBCS champion and also to win the overall for the Psycowpath series. My bikes of choice will be the aforementioned 2003 S-Works for my hardtail. Fully assembled, she weighs in at a scant 21.0 pounds, compared to the weight of the Mongoose at 22.5 pounds. I’m not completely sure what I’m doing for a duelie yet. I plan to either lighten up the Diamondback or acquire a brand new rig by ‘other means’. I’ll let you know more about my ‘other means’ when I know more. I put together a race resume and it might pay off for me.
I’m really stoked about next season, there should be quite a few cats that will upgrade from sport to expert. So the size of the expert field will be a little larger, that’s always a good thing. I honestly hope that a few dudes can step up their game, I love close competition. Winning is fun, whether it be by 17 minutes or 1 second. Both are very satisfying, but it’s tough to beat the adrenaline rush that I get in a closely fought battle.
So that’s a brief rundown of what’s been goin’ down in my world. As I write this, I’m sitting in the back seat of my parents car and were flying down I-80 at about 92 mph on the way to Christmas with both of my sisters in Denver, CO. It’s about time to stop for some grub so I’m outta here.
Thanks for reading,