Saturday, April 14, 2007

Back On The Horse

Training for the 2007 season started around the first of the year. I was looking forward to all the trainer rides about as much as I look forward to seeing Chris Maharry in his semi-transparent pink cycling shorts. Winter is finally over and at the end of each trainer workout over the last two weeks would end with the overly optimistic thought that it would be my last trainer ride for the season. Well, as anybody that lives in the Midwest knows, the weather has been total crap here. Unseasonably cold temps, lot’s of rain and even snow. I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth with Netflix over the winter. Watched a lot of movies during all of the two and three trainer marathons. It would have been nearly impossible for me to log all of the indoor hours without having something halfway entertaining to watch on the tube. Also did a lot of trainer rides in tPods basement. I can still picture the look of disgust on tPod’s face during our workouts. I sweat buckets when I ride the trainer and he’d always make me put about 20 towels on the floor around me to keep my funk off of his floor.
My first race of the season ended up being the Altoona Road Race. Lane Anderson and his All Nine Yards posse do a great job and putting together a full weekend of road raging with the road race on Sunday and the criterium at the fair grounds on Sunday. The morning of the race started with wet pavement and temps in the 50’s. By race time the temps climb up into the 60’s. The air was very heavy with moisture and the roads were still wet.
My plans for road raging this season are pretty much the same as last season, use the road for training without too much concern about my results. The only exception to that would be Snake Alley, I’d love to improve on my 2nd place finish in the 3’s from last season. After Snake Alley I’ll upgrade to a 2 and maybe to the Muscatine crit. For all roadie stuff I’m planning to wear last seasons kit from JJ Bailey’s team, used to be called Midwest Speed Merchants / Triton Homes, now called Team Zoom Performance. Zoom Performance is a group of endurance coaches, JJ Bailey, Jenny Weber and Matt Zepeda, all very good friends of mine and hands down, the best coaches in the area.
So the race started like any other road race, at a pretty mellow pace. Throughout the first lap there only seemed to be one person interested in aggression, Matt Landen from Omaha. About midway through the lap, we hit an uphill section going into a head wind. Ross Schuchart unleashed an attack going up the hill. I was at the back of the pack, asleep at the wheel of course. I jumped and put myself into the red zone in an attempt to bridge. After a few minutes I caught up to a group of 6 other riders and tried to sit in as much as possible to recharge my batteries.
About ¾ of the way through the first lap, we caught and passed to P/1/2 group that started about five minutes ahead of us. A couple of cats in our group flatted, one never make it back while another managed to bridge back up to us somewhere during lap 2 or 3. On lap 3, Matt Landen uncorked an attack going uphill with a strong tailwind at our backs. Once again, I was at the back of the group daydreaming about eating a tub of Haagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond ice cream. When I came to, I once put myself into the red zone to bridge. Only one other cat, Nathan Moenck went with the attack. I raced a couple of times against Nathan and Matt on the dirt and both are pretty strong riders. They both looked back to assess the damage and saw that I was no man’s land trying to bridge up to them. They realized that three people had a better chance of staying away rather than two and sat up for me. I bridged up and had to sit on for a few miles to regain full consciousness and get my eyes uncrossed. I could tell that they weren’t too pleased about it, so I told ‘em they could fight it out for first and second and I would be more than happy to settle for third and that I needed a little time to catch my breath. We worked well together for the remainder of the race. Nathan as clearly the strongest of the three of us and did quite a bit more work than Nathan and I, so the finishing order was pretty much established long before the finish. The last climb was about two miles from the finish and Nathan rode away from Matt and I like an angry motorist. The guy is freakishly strong and is going to do some damage in the P/1/2 class when he gets his upgrade. Matt and I rode in for 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Despite the wet roads and rain, I enjoyed the race. It was a great workout which was my main objective for the day. Matt and Nathan made for a couple of great break away companions, we had a few good chats throughout and did a lot of suffering, all in all, good stuff. My total race time was a little over three hours. My average HR for the race was about 162, a nice Zone 3 tempo workout. Pretty close to ideal for this time of the season.
My next race was the season opener for the Nebraska state mountain biking series (Psycowpath) on April 7. I am the defending series champion and one of my goals for the season is to defend that title. It’s going to be even tougher this season because of few of the top dogs from Omaha are riding really strong already. Three of them, Shim, Steve Jarrett and Kent McNeill went down to the first NMBS (formerly NORBA National) in Phoenix, AZ the weekend before to see where they stood at the national level. Kent is a semi pro and won one of the semi pro races and was well positioned to take the stage race overall when, during the cross country race, he ripped out the side wall of his tire… game over. Shim won the overall for his age group in the expert class and Steve ended up 2nd overall for his age group in the expert class. So going into the weekend, I knew that all three are on good form. I was looking forward to some stiff competition!
The weather forecast for the weekend was dry, but freakin’ cold with temps forecasted to be in the lower 30’s for highs. I got into Omaha the night before and stayed at Shim’s place. We went out for some vittles on Friday night, went back to his pad and chilled with a movie and a glass of Port wine. I’ve never had Port wine before, if you like drinking syrup, this stuff is for you. I think he was trying to sabotage my race by trying to clog up my system with his kids cough syrup.
Woke the next morning to temps in the teens, yeehaw! Let’s go racin’! We polished off a pot of coffee, some poached eggs and my usual box of Mueslix, packed all of our stuff and headed for Tranquility Park in the middle of Omaha. Arrived at the race venue, said hi to few folks I hadn’t seen since last fall, registered and suited up in the Rassy camo. Did a recon lap and then re-rode a few of the more technical sections to get them dialed in.
We lined for the start and the gun went off. I took the lead going into the singletrack with Kent on my wheel, followed by Ryan Legg, a roadie from Des Moines, Shim and Aaron Grady, a newcomer to the expert field. I lead the first lap, stupid me, I didn’t really want to be there because the wind was absolutely crazy and I knew that I was blocking the wind for everybody else in the headwind sections, bonehead… As we started the climb on the 2nd lap, Kent passed me and began to pull away. I tried to stay with him but I didn’t have the legs to hang on so I let him go.
I rolled into the singletrack and could hear somebody catching up to me. I took a quick look back and it was Ryan Legg. I thought to myself, ‘what the hell is a roadie doing catching up to me on this part of the course?’. Ryan was having a great race, unfortunately he had a mechanical issue shortly after he caught me and had to drop out of the race. It’s too bad because I think that he would have given me, and possibly Kent, a good race. If he does more races on the dirt, he could be one to look out for.
As the race progressed, the gap between myself and Kent continued to increase. I just didn’t have the legs to catch him. I kept an eye on things behind me and did what I could to hang on to 2nd place. On lap 4 of 5, I could see that Steve Jarrett was starting to close in on me so I tried to push a little harder to keep him at bay. Kent ended up winning the race with a time of 1:29:46. I held on for 2nd a little over three minutes back. Steve Jarrett came in 3rd about 30 seconds behind me, Aaron Grady came in 4th another 45 seconds back. Shim came in at 1:38:44 to claim the last step on the podium.
Kent was riding like a man possessed and is going to be really tough to beat this season. I’m really looking forward to mixing it up with him and the rest of the posse from across the river this season. As for my result, I am actually very happy with it. My average HR for the race was 165, when I’m feeling good it’s usually in the upper 170’s. I simply didn’t have good legs that day. Whenever I tried to kick it into a higher gear, I just didn’t have it. I never felt like I was stressing my cardio throughout the race. This is actually a good indicator, I’ve been doing a lot of long rides and my legs were pretty tired from all of the overload training. To have as good of a result as I did under these circumstances gives me a good indication for better things to come. When I start to approach my peak periods throughout the month of June, I should be flying, we’ll see how it goes.
So the season has officially started and I’m looking forward to another season of good times with a lot of good friends. It should be a good season, training has gone extremely well thus far and my motivation is high.
I’d like to thank of couple of my sponsors for once again offering their very generous support this season, Rasmussen Bike Shop, the best around, Oakley eyewear, the best in the biz and a new sponsor for 2007, Recover-Ease. Recover-Ease is a recovery supplement that actually works! If I happen to forget to take some after a hard workout, I can definitely feel it in my legs.

Next up is the season opener for the IMBCS, the Sylvan Island Stampede. Info and a race flyer can be found at: www.qcforcorg. This is one of the biggest races in Iowa and features a great course. Last season I finished a close 2nd to Brian Eppen. I’m looking forward to mixing it up with Eppen and all of the other fast cats that’ll be showing up. Should be a great time!

Thanks for reading.