Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Off To A Great Start

Man it's good to be back into racing again! After two months of trainer rides and frozen mountain bike rides at the SC with my Bro’s Grand Master Lou, Bassonova, tPod, Squirrel, Jedi Master Gammel and the rest of the dirty DSM posse, I’m ready to tear it up. The trainer rides actually went pretty well this year, not nearly as painful as last season, thanks to Netflix and tPod for allowing the posse on the MSM roadie team to sweat and stink all over his basement.
Training actually went really well this season. I’ve put together a pretty aggressive program for myself this season that will net about 700+ hours of training time. Like last season, my Bro’s in the expert class were kind enough to paste a big ole’ target on my bike with a bulls eye that says ‘kick me in the arse’. And again, like last season, a lot of guys are steppin’ up their game. A lot of cats are working with coaches and I am totally stoked about it. Everybody’s getting faster, myself included, and I’m looking forward to some killer competition this season.
While I’m on the subject of coaching, I’m giving very strong consideration to getting into the coaching biz myself for next season. I don’t have much in the way of details right now, it will be mountain biking specific and will include coaching in all aspects of mountain biking. There are already plenty of coaches for roadies and tri-geeks and pretty much none that can do a thorough job for mountain bike racers. My involvement in coaching will depend on a few factors. For this season I’ve taken on one ‘client’ on a trial basis. My future involvement in coaching will depend heavily on how this works out. If we are both satisfied with his results, that will go a long way in my decision. So who is this masked man you might ask? That’s for me to know and you to find out. You’ll probably figure it out at his first race ‘cause he’ll be the man that kicks y’all in the arse! He’s flyin’ right now and he’s only 10 weeks into his program.
I officially started my training in earnest back in mid January and my first race of the season was last Saturday. Only 9 weeks of training… That’s a little too soon for me, I only had one LT session under my belt so I felt that my racing fitness was still a few weeks away. I did a couple of fitness tests, one at about mid January and the other a couple of weeks ago. My last test indicated that my form was coming along nicely and that I would probably be OK for the first throwdown of the season.
The race was the first of the Psycowpath series and was at a venue that was new to me, Tranquility Park in Omaha, NE. It seemed that everybody else had ridden the course several times because they had a race there last season. So I did a good hour long pre-ride and hit a couple of the technical sections of the course several times at speed to get them dialed in. The course basically consisted of a nice mix of tight, twisty, technical singletrack, some open sections where you could open the legs up and drop the hammer, and a few climbs. All in all a pretty sweet course.
The race started and my plan was to get into the singeltrack second or third wheel, to let somebody who was a little more familiar with the course lead the way. It’s early in the season and I had no idea where my fitness was compared to everybody else. The last thing that I wanted to do was blow my wad early in the race. I got into the singletrack in second behind Shimonek. There were about 8 of us that broke away from the rest of the field early on. I think Steve Jarret was behind me followed by WWJ.
I had no trouble at all following Shim throughout the first half of the lap, so when we got to the top of the second hill I passed him and turned the screws a little tighter. I looked back on the way down the hill and saw that I was immediately able to establish a small gap. So I put my head down and applied a little more pressure. We got to the bottom of the hill and hit a gravel road that transitioned us to the next section of singletrack. I looked back once I hit the gravel road and noticed that I had pretty much splintered the rest of the group. Shim was close enough to me that I could see his tongue hangin’ out of his mouth. He was trying to close the gap on me so I dropped it down a cog and punched it. I looked back and saw that I had almost doubled the gap on him.
I crossed the start/finish in first after the first of five laps with about a 30 second gap. I looked back as I looped around the expo area and noticed that about five guys had regrouped. I figured they were probably going to work together and try to reel me back in, so I turned the screws a little tighter. By the end of the second lap I couldn’t see anybody behind me through the expo area, so I knew that I had increased my gap. I was feelin’ good so I kept the pressure on.
By the end of lap four, I was lapping some of the slower experts and I couldn’t tell who was where behind me. So I figured that my gap was pretty good and I cruised into the finish in first. WWJ ended up in 2nd about 2:30 behind, followed by Matt Landen a little over 3 mintues back. Shim came in 4th about 5 minutes back. The official race report and results can be found at:
A couple of things surprised me, my fitness and how good I felt with the effort after just two months of solid base training. My average HR was around 173 which is good considering I’ve spent little to no time in the 170’s during training this season. The second surprise… WWJ. The man rode a strong race and had his best finish ever in a Psycowpath race. Congrats dude, you’re going to have a good season if you can keep yourself from destroying various key components on your bike during a race.
I put the Mongoose into semi-retirement and rode a 2004, Specialized S-Works M5 hardtail this time around. It’s lookin’ like this will be my stead of choice for the season. It’s super light, about 1 ½ lbs lighter than the ‘goose. She weighs in at a scant 20.5 lbs and has the same feel as the ‘goose. So the transition has not been a problem. A huge thanks goes out to my old man for giving me the bike. I love hand me downs!
My goals for the season were to repeat as the IMBCS champion and bag 2 or 3 wins in the 3 marathon races over in Nebraska. I had also planned to do the first couple of Psycowpath series races. If I do well in the first couple of races and feel that I’ve got a good shot at their series overall, then I’d try to do all the Psycowpath races as well. The first race went well, so we’ll see how the next one goes. My schedule is pretty full this season, racin’ almost every weekend somewhere.
The IMBCS will be my first priority for the season. I, along with the IORCA posse, have put a lot of work into getting the series ready for 2006 and I intend to continue the effort, both on and off the bike.

See you all at IMBCS #1, Sylvan Island this Sunday, April 9.


No comments: