Monday, June 25, 2007


Being dehydrated isn’t a whole lotta fun. Funny thing is, the few times that it’s ever happened to me, I never seemed to realize what was going on until it’s too late. I usually come to the realization when I pee after the race and it looks like some kind of radioactive fluid.
Ponca is one of my favorite courses… I guess I tend to say that about a lot of the courses, so I guess that means that I love ‘em all! Anyway, I arrived at the course early enough that I was able to do a recon lap. I tell ya what, the folks at Sioux City Velo did a great job in putting together a challenging, fun course. It had a couple of steep climbs that reduced me to my granny gear during the last couple of laps. The great thing is that what goes up, must come down. Once I got the course dialed in, I was able to do most of the descents at full throttle.
My plan for the race was to go out pretty hard and try to solo off the front during the first lap. So the race started and about midway through the first lap there was about 5 or 6 man train ridin’ my wheel. As soon as we hit the next climb I turned the screws a little tighter and was able to loose everybody but Aaron Grady. I kept the pressure on for the first two hours and I couldn’t shake him. It was at about the two hour mark that I began to realize that I was probably going to be in trouble near the end of this one.

Tryin' to shake Grady off my wheel

I made Aaron take the lead after about two hours and we stayed together throughout the 3rd hour. At about hour three the lights began to dim and I began to yo-yo off of Aarons wheel for the next half hour or so. At about 3 ½ hours the lights were just about out and I was 100% in survival mode. I made it to the finish line at the end of lap 10 in about 3:40 and I had no ambitions of going out for #11. Lebedebadoo handed me a bottle of cold water, I stopped, dismounted my rig and tanked the entire bottle in about 2 seconds. I told him I was having some stomach issues. I tried to eat some food earlier but the appetite wasn’t there. He told me that I better get a move on because 3rd place wasn’t too far behind. I probably owe my salvaging 2nd place to Leb for the water hand-offs and the encouragement, thanks buddy.
So I got back on my rig and continued on. About five minutes later I felt great! It was at the point that I figured I hadn’t taken in enough water throughout the race. I had gone through five or six water bottles and I guess it was hot enough that it wasn’t enough for me. Lesson learned. It was a good thing that I left for lap 11 when I did because Leb told me that Gersib had rolled through less than a minute after I took off.
I never saw Grady again until the end of the race, a much deserved win for him. Despite my problems, he was the better man that day. Dehydration, mechanicals, whatever. It’s all a part of mountain bike racing and it’s all fair game. So a big congrats goes out to him. Gersib came in about a minute after I did for a hard earned third.

MG bringin' home third

JP rippin' the legs off the competition

Sydney Brown bringin' home the W in the Women's solo race

Now that I’ve had a little time to reflect on the race, there are two things that pretty much lead to my meltdown. One, not enough fluid intake. Two, I probably went out a little too hard. During the 1st hour, my average HR was 169, the 2nd hour it was 166, the 3rd hour it was 160 and the 4th hour it was 147. All of this added up to an average HR of 160 for the race. I maybe could have not pushed so hard at the beginning, try to even the pace out a little, but I think my bigger problem was definitely my lack of fluid intake. That’s always been somewhat a problem for me. I get away with it most of the time, but I’ve had a couple of occasions where it’s bit me on the arse. Someday I’m hoping that I’ll learn.
Getting back to Grady, he’s probably something like 18 years old? My plan, if he continues to put me in the hurt locker, is to introduce him to CVO.

Jedi Master CVO

Master CVO can take him on as his next Padawan. I’m thinkin’ that CVO can introduce him to things like cigarettes, beer and women. Yeah… that’ll slow him down. All kidding aside, Aaron’s only 18 and if he continues to improve he’s going to be scary fast someday. He’s riding like a madman this season, I’m looking forward to more racing against him. So again, a big congratulations goes out to Aaron for bringing home the win.
Next up is IMBCS #5 this Sunday at Seven Oaks Ski Area, yep, you guessed it, another one of my favs!

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, June 21, 2007


At the beginning of the week I was pretty sure that I was going to head up to Phillips, WI and do the WORS race. Around Wednesday I talked to Shim and he said that he and a few others were heading down to Crowder to do the race there. Crowder? I didn’t know there was a race there this weekend… sweet! Crowder has some of the coolest trails in the Midwest, but it can also be pretty brutal. It has a couple of rock gardens that’ll knock the fillings out of your teeth if your bike is lacking suspension. I’ve raced there two other times and both times I did it on a hard tail, and both times I came home with a pulled calf muscle.
I figured I’d be OK this time with my plush, full suspension Orbea Oiz. Both times that I had raced at Crowder, the competition had been pretty tough. The race is a part of the Heartland Series and it’s based out of Kansas City, so it’s pretty much the state series for both Kansas and western Missouri. Guys like Tilford like to show up and rip the legs off the local competition. I was kinda hoping that he’d show for this one also. With the exception of the WORS race, I’ve been riding really well the past few weeks and I was anxious to see how I might do against a mutant.
So I arrived at Crowder, registered and scoped the competition. Cameron Chambers, the 2005 national 24 hour champion was there sporting some sweet tube socks, the kind that I used to wear back in the 70’s. He’s also got a pretty killer afro, kinda like the one I used to have back in the day. Shim, Limpach and Grady from Nebraska were there. Frankenbike was there as well as the series regulars. It was a pretty big field, oh about 30+/- starters in the pro / semi-pro / expert field… nice.

The calm before the storm, I think I was checking out Chambers tube socks

We lined up for the start, I locked out both the front and back anticipating a pretty fast race for position going into the singletrack. My strategy was pretty simple, I wanted to be the first man into the singletrack because part of the trail had some pretty new tread that was kinda sketchy. I figured somebody was probably going to go down and I didn’t want to get caught up in it.
The gun went off and so did I. I hit the throttle hard enough to ensure that I was in the lead going into the singletrack, but no so hard that I put myself into the red zone. I’m not sure who was on my wheel, probably Grady because shortly after the start he went down in a heap. His mishap briefly clogged the trail up enough that I was able to gap the field. I pushed pretty hard going up both climbs to ensure that the gap stuck. As I was nearing the top of the 2nd climb I heard a rock skip across the trail behind me. I looked back and it was Chambers climbing the hill in stealth mode. He was real quite like until he hit that rock, didn’t know he was there. I got to the top of the climb and I drilled it hoping to separate myself once again. It worked because I didn’t see much of him again until after the race.


Cameron Chambers sportin' the retro tube socks

Third place finisher 'Shim' rockin' the singletrack

The one and only 'CVO' from FFL

The remainder of the race was pretty uneventful, I was riding really well, my legs were feeling good and the trails were primo. I encountered a bunch of lapped traffic throughout the race, but it really wasn’t much of a problem, just had to be patient in the narrow sections until I could get by.
I ended up winning with a time of 1:39:19. Chambers came in 2nd in 1:45:20, followed by Shim with a time of 1:45:52. Yep, it was a good day indeed. Part of the fun of these races is hanging out with everybody afterwards. There’s usually a pretty long wait for the awards ceremony, I never usually mind too much because it’s always a good time hanging out with all of the mtb homies that you only see at races.
Next up is the Ponca Marathon at Ponca State Park in northeast Nebraska. Another one of my favorite venues, sweet trails, beautiful scenery… what more can a greasy mountain biker ask for? WWJ is paying 8 deep in the pro / semi-pro / expert field so hopefully this will encourage a lot of fast guys to show up. I’ve won the race the past couple of years and I’m hoping to continue along the same path.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Return To Oz

The plan for the weekend was to head over to Lewis & Clark for the IMBCS / Psycowpath race. Shim called me Thursday night and told me they had just gotten hammered by a bunch of rain. He said the race was very doubtful as the forecast for Friday was something like a 90% chance of rain.
A good friend of mine had moved to Madison, WI a couple of weeks ago and we were talking about when I might have a chance to pay her a visit. So we were talking Thursday night and I mentioned to her that my race was most likely going to be postponed. She suggested that I come up that weekend. I told her I’d think it over and let her know on Friday.
I kinda remember there being a WORS race that weekend, up in Wausau, one of my favorite race venues up there. Friday morning came, I’m sitting at work, throwin’ down some coffee. The status of the Lewis & Clark race was still up in the air. I was talking to tPod and he said that he thought I should go to WI. Screw it, I’m goin’. I took off from work early, threw all of my race stuff into the car and hit the road for the 4 ½ hour drive to Mad City.
WORS races happen rain or shine. From 1999 to 2002, I did every WORS race. None of them were ever postponed or cancelled. Every other weekend, I’d throw all of my gear into the car, meet a bunch of buddies from Milwaukee at the race venue on Friday and we’d camp all weekend and do the race on Sunday. Lot’s of really good memories…
The Elite class at WORS races is always stacked with pro’s and semi-pro’s from all over the Midwest. Hands down, the best competition that you’re going to find in the Midwest.
This particular race had a new format for WORS, they call it a marathon. 40ish miles for the elite and comp class, mass start (sort of), lot’s of double track with some sweet singletrack sprinkled throughout the lap. It rained for most of the two hour drive from Madison to Wausau. We got to Wausau and the course was still pretty dry but the rain was coming, it was just a matter of when. As is typical with any WORS race, there were hundreds of peeps riding around the venue on mountain bikes. The vibe was all about mountain bike racing, just like I remembered.
I wanted to get to the course two hours early to give myself enough time to get registered and maybe do a recon lap. We got there with about 75 minutes to spare. So I hustled over to registration, got signed up, used the can, then went back to the car to get myself into race mode. While getting ready I ran into a few of my old camping buddies that I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, Gregasaurus, Tyrant, great to see those guys again.
I got a halfway decent warm up in and rode over to the start area amongst the 700+ other racers. They had the usual call ups for the top 20 cats in the series points, I rolled up behind the top 20 and had a pretty decent start position among the 60+ starters in the elite field. We had the usual 10 second countdown and then it was ‘Goooooooo!’. I had a pretty good start and within the first mile I was sitting in a comfortable 4th place with Doug Swanson leading the train. For the first three or four miles I was hovering in the top ten in a pace line of about 20 or 30 and we were flyin’ down this forest road. It was at this time that the cat in front of me, Marko Lalonde took a swig of his water bottle. Next thing I know, his arse is about a foot above his saddle, both feet are out of his pedals and he’s doin’ the splits over the top of his bike. I quickly realized that the shite was about to hit the fan. While he was in the process of crashing, I grabbed a handful of brake, front and back, probably locked both wheels up, and ran into him. I somehow managed to land on my feet with my bike layin’ on the ground. I braced myself for the inevitable multi-bike pileup and got drilled by the next guy in line. I came out of it still on my feet, but my bike was at the bottom of a pile of bikes. When I finally got back on my bike I was in last place... game over. I started up again and managed to pick off quite a few others throughout. I pretty much rode the entire race with the first place woman, Sara Kylander-Johnson, a pro from Duluth. We swapped pulls throughout and worked together pretty well. It kinda turned my not so fun situation into a fun one.
About midway through the first lap it started to rain and it didn’t stop until after I crossed the finish line. My legs seemed to feel really good, but I had a hard time getting any kind of speed going, felt like I was going really slow and I wasn’t making up ground on the rest of the elite field as I had expected. Throughout the race the course conditions worsened but it was all 100% rideable throughout the race. It was actually pretty easy compared to some of the mud races in Iowa, the mud wasn't as peanut buttery. Towards the end of the race, I could hear my back brake starting to rub, figured it was probably caked with mud so I didn’t think much of it at the time.
So in the end I finished something like 37th out 60+ starters. Very disappointing. I was really hoping to match or better my best WORS finish of 10th overall. It was still a lot of fun and it was good to get back and experience the WORS madness.
It was about a week after the race when I finally got around to cleaning up my bike. I rolled it out to the driveway and noticed that the rear wheel was doing more sliding than rolling. I hosed my bike down and put it on the workstand. I tried to rotate the back wheel and it took some effort to get thing to roll. So I took the wheel off and took a closer look at my brake rotor and noticed that it was bent, happened during the multi-bike pileup. So I pretty much rode the entire race with a severe rub in my rear brake… great. Explains why I was riding like a pig (no offense Brent) when my legs appeared to feel good.
Being the competitor that I am, I feel a strong need to redeem myself. After looking at the local mtb race calendar, there are a couple of open weekends that happen to coincide with a couple of WORS races. So the plan is to do the race in Franklin, near Milwaukee, on August 5 and the series finale in Sheboygan on October 7.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Snakes And Melons

Snake Alley… I was looking forward to throwin’ it down on the snake this season. My legs were feeling pretty good, motivation was high and I was looking forward to dukin’ it out with Nathan Moenck and Matt Landon for the 3rd time this season. Rain threatened all day and as I was buttering up my chamois, the skies let loose. I sat in my car for a few minutes, going back and forth about whether I would race or not. The rain kept falling as was my morale to race in the rain. The thought of washing out on one of the downhill corners got the best of me and I decided to pull the plug. Road racing is a low priority for me and I’ve already fulfilled my quota of skin loss for the season at the ICRR.

Melon Head… I went back and forth with myself as to which race(s) I wanted to do. I finally settled on doing the 40+ race in the morning and the 30+ race in the afternoon. Unlike Saturday, the weather was fantastic all day long. A great day to be outside. The 40+ race had about 45 starters and the pace throughout the race was crazy fast. A lot faster than the 30+ race in the afternoon. It took me the better part of the first half of the race to work my way to the front of the peloton. My plan going in was to sit in and watch for dangerous breakaways. I was a one man band, so I didn’t want to waste any of my bullets chasing down a breakaway that wasn’t going to stick. Everything stayed together until the end so on the penultimate lap, I began working my way to the front again. We got to the top of the hill and I noticed that there was a dude off the front and pulling away. I didn’t really think much of it because I figured to group would swallow him up and spit him out the back. I managed to go through the corner at the top of the hill at the head of the peloton and as we went through the start / finish area nobody seemed interested in coming around me. Shortly after that point I looked back and quickly realized that I had a pretty substantial gap on the peloton. I had to make a pretty quick decision at the point, do I punch it and try to stay away or do I back it off a little, wait for the peloton and save my bullets for the sprint. I figured the peloton was close enough to me that they would catch me if I tried to stay away so I soft pedaled down the hill. I got to the bottom of the hill, looked back, same gap, so I drilled it going up the hill. Two or three dudes passed me right before the corner and I got pipped by a couple of others at the finish and ended up in 9th. Not to shabby for a greasy mountain biker, I was good with that. If anything I got a great LT workout in!
The 30+ race was pretty uneventful for me, my plan was to hang on, not get dropped and get another good fitness building workout in. As I mentioned earlier, the pace was a little slower than the 40+ race. I was floating near the head of the peloton throughout the race, tryin’ to keep my nose out of the wind and my arse off the pavement. Once again the peloton was ‘gruppo compato’ on the penultimate lap. So I figured, what the heck, I’ll try taking a flyer off the front again, see how it works this time when I really mean it. At the top of the hill I drilled it and was able to establish a nice gap. Going down the hill I could sense that somebody was trying to bridge to gap. I looked back and it was none other than Jimmy Cochran. It was at the point that I quickly began to realize that the lights were beginning to dim. I looked back at Cochran and told him that I wanted half of his payout for the leadout, then I looked forward and gave it all I had. About halfway up the hill he passed me as did the remainder of the peloton. I shut it down and rolled across the finish, satisfied with another great workout!
Now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I think I finally figured why the cosmo’s didn’t align for the Snake Alley race. Last year, tPod and I found this video game arcade. I was kind of a geek back in the early 80’s, you know, the kind that would spend countless hours at the video arcade playing games, acting like a dork, etc. I was pretty crafty at the helm of Galaga and it just so happened that this arcade had an old Galaga sitting there. I fed the game a quarter and tPod stood there and watched me play the game for nearly an hour on one quarter until I rolled it over. I killed off all of my extra men and we rolled. The next day I had a stellar day on the Snake… Didn’t do that this year. Now I know better. Next year I’ll be all over Galaga.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, June 11, 2007

Psycowpath #2

The last time I raced at Swanson Park was last fall and it was one of the best races I’ve ever had. The Force was strong with me that day. The trail conditions were pretty close to perfect for me, a little damp, nice and tacky for maximum grip in the corners. I took home the W and I was hoping to do the same this time around. A few things were a little different this year. The tread was dry, mostly bone dry and a little dusty in some spots. Kent McNeill, who finished 2nd last year, has been riding a lot more this season so he was going to be really tough to beat this time.
My plan for the race was to let McNeill lead the way into the singletrack and tow me along, provided I could hang on. The gun went off and I was the reluctant leader throughout the start loop. I tried to slow down enough so that somebody would take over the lead, but I didn’t want to go so slow that more than one cat passed. I ended up leading into the singletrack with Kent on my wheel. I decided to keep the pace a little on the slow side so that I didn’t blow myself up tryin’ to drop the field.

Leading the train during lap 1

At the beginning of the 2nd lap, Kent passed me and I jumped on his wheel before anybody else could get around me. Didn’t do me a whole lotta good though because he then proceeded to drop me like a bad habit within about 100 yards and he continued to increase his lead throughout the next lap or two. I continued at my own pace, tryin’ to hang onto 2nd. I figured Kent was long gone. I could see Steve Jarrett a ways back and it looked like he was starting to reel me in so I kept on it.

Tryin' to reel in McNeill

Kent’s lead had increased to about a minute by the end of lap three. About mid way through lap 4 his lead was down to about 45 seconds, by the end of lap 4 it was down to 30… I was goin’ as hard as I could and it ended up not being enough. Kent took home the With a time of 1:40:56, I brought home 2nd a scant 7 seconds back in 1:41:03, the Deal came in 3rd with a time of 1:43:49.
I came up a little short on my goal for the day, but I was still really happy with the result. Kent, the Deal and Shim are tough to beat on this course. It’s always tough to beat somebody in their backyard. So I’m definitely happy with the result.
Next up is the Snake and the Melon Head Criterium.

Thanks for reading,


La Madre de Las Montanas

Going into the weekend, I kept a watchful eye on the weather forecast for the weekend. Not that it really means anything as we all know that a meteorologist has one of the most forgiving jobs in existence. As it turned out, the weather all week was good enough that by the weekend, the trails were in near perfect condition.
The 2nd edition of ‘La Madre de Las Montanas’ was located at Sockum Ridge State Park, just south of Iowa City. The place is a diamond in the rough, fast, technical, flowing trails. I’ve been looking forward to this one. The stage race format is pretty cool, though for whatever reason, I wasn’t looking forward to an entire weekend away from home. It’s only May but I’ve been gone racing my bike somewhere every weekend since the beginning of April.
So Friday night a couple of friends of mine, were getting hitched in the Amana’s. It was a really nice wedding, lot’s of fun, lot’s of friends and lot’s of Amish food (fried chicken, pork chops, roast beef, fried potatoes, Costco chocolate cake and wine that I would liken to Shim’s favorite Port wine, ugh). And yes... I ate it all... lot’s of greasy fried chicken, lot’s of greasy pork chops and lot’s of greasy potatoes, cake… I made a pig of myself... we’re talking major food coma. It was all I could do to walk around. I figured the next days races were all short, intense efforts so I didn’t really need to worry too much about consuming food for stamina… yeah, I know, not real sound logic, it’s pretty amazing what kind of power greasy food can have over the functionality of one’s brain during life's week moments.
So Saturday’s race went a little something like this. We started off with the time trial which a lap of the cross country course backwards. I was a little concerned about the days events because I’ve done little to no LT training this season. I was pretty close to the middle of the starting order and in a race like this I’m always concerned about traffic. I started my lap and was very slow to ramp the intensity up. Once I got going things started to flow really well. Bike handling was pretty good, grazed a few trees but no direct hits. Caught and passed a four or five of the peeps that started in front of me. I ended up winning the TT with a time of 16:08, Dominic Moraniec came in 2nd with a time of 17:00, Tater Tot was 3rd in 17:07. I was off to a pretty good start!
Next up was the hill climb, which consists of charging up a gravel road, looping around at the top, then bomb your way back down to the bottom. I took off up the hill with my front and rear shocks locked out to maximize the amount of power going from my legs to my bike. I charged my way up the hill, hit the loop, unlocked both shocks and hit the descent with a little caution, didn’t want to wash out in all of the loose gravel. I ended in 1st with a time of 1:14.26, Sea Biscuit came in 2nd with a time of 1:17.26, with Dominic rounding out the top three with a time of 1:17.76.
We finished off the day with the STXC, which consisted of a loop that we raced around for 20 minutes plus two laps. The legs were still kind of smartin’ from the days earlier efforts so I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of ‘em. The madness started, not sure that I remember who took the early lead, me? Dominic? Maybe it was Tater? Anyway, I ended up leading with Dominic snappin’ at me heals for the first have of the race. I eventually gapped him and shifted into overdrive for the win. Dominic came in 2nd and WWJ followed in 3rd.
Sunday was the XC race, Cully showed, Nathan Moenck was there, cool… I knew it was gonna be a hard, fast race. The race started with Cully drilling up the hill. I had my usual issues with getting clipped in, once I got my feet hooked up I had to put myself into the red zone to catch up to the leaders. Cully led it into the singletrack, followed by Nathan and myself. Cully continued with the insane pace, I was in the hurt locker and I couldn’t find my way out. Cully started to gap Nathan and I, then Nathan started to put some space between he and myself. Next thing I know, Nathan’s on the side of the trail, said he dropped his chain. I passed by and never saw him again until we neared the finish.
Cully continued to increase his gap until about midway through lap 2. I eventually caught and passed him somewhere during lap 3. He looked like he was kinda payin’ the price for the fury that he unleashed at the start. I continued to increase the gap and towards the end of the race, I could tell that Nathan was starting to close in on me. I kept my good eye on him and put it in cruise control. I took home the W with a time of 1:50:49, Nathan brought home 2nd with a time of 1:52:30. Cully came home in 3rd with a time of 1:55:24.
Props go out to Andy, Kristin and Andy’s parents for putting together a great weekend of racing! I’ve kinda fallen behind on the race updates, I’m a busy man with training, running a mountain bike series, coaching, working, eating, sleeping and more eating… I love eating…

Thanks for reading,