Monday, October 19, 2009



I honestly cannot remember the last time that I bonked. My pre-race food consumption has always been a little on the side of excess to ensure that the bonk doesn’t make an appearance. So why did I only consume 1/3 of a box of cereal and a sandwich prior to last Sunday’s race when I would normally consume an entire box of cereal, maybe an egg or two along with a sandwich if it is a late afternoon race? My only explanation would be the proverbial brain fart.
Julie and I arrived in Milwaukee and stayed with our good friends, Tyrine. We drove up to Sheboygan on Saturday to do a course recon, and as they do every year, the Fat Kats did a great job in putting together an outstanding race course. The course had a nice 50/50-ish mix of singletrack and open sections, the type of course that can suit just about any racers strengths. As we were getting ready to ride, the misty, light rain that was falling had turned into light snow flurries while the temps seemingly plummeted to below freezing. During the ride, the clouds cleared away to reveal warm sunshine that raised the temps up into the 40’s.
Race day greeted us with lot’s of sunshine, however when I stepped outside to load up the car, it felt like it was January. Apparently Mother Nature decided to completely bypass the fall and head straight into winter! Throughout the morning, I had to keep reminding myself that at least it wasn’t raining/snowing on us.
Julie’s race was at 11:30 and 29 hearty souls toed the line for the Category 2 women’s race. Julie got off to her usual mid to rear pack start and managed to pick her way through the field throughout the race. I was only able to see the first lap of her race because I had to get ready for my race. By the finish, she managed to work her way up to 6th overall, good enough for 4th in her age group. I am extremely proud of how well her season went. In looking at all of her results from the bigger races in Minnesota and Wisconsin, she’s made steady progress throughout the season, especially in terms of bike handling. With another winter of base fitness building rides on El Diablo in the TMC Trucking house of pain / sweat shop, I am very confident that she will be even faster next year!

Julie has her angry racin' face on.

Picking her way through the Equalizer carnage.

Rippin' it up in the corners...just like I taught her.

My race had the usual fast cats that take part in the WORS series, including Chequamegon bridesmaid, Cole House. Don said ‘Goooooooooooooo’ and the 36 strong Men’s Elite field shot up the road. I had a decent start and rolled into the singletrack somewhere in the top 15 or so. Once the course opened up, I tried to open it up and quickly realized that, even though I felt fully recovered, I didn’t have the power that I had at this time last year. Last year I had gotten off to about the same start and was able to pick my way through the field to a 5th place overall finish. I knew early on that I didn’t have that kind of finish in me, so I made the best of what I had.
As lap one progressed, I found myself in a pretty good battle with Ryan Krayer and a few others. At one point Ryan asked to get by while we were going through a section of singletrack and with me being in race mode, I was not so willing to oblige. I kicked up the effort to prevent the pass and he mildly expressed his displeasure. He eventually got by when the trail opened up and I managed to stick with him throughout lap one. As we began lap two, I passed him back and apologized as I went by. He replied by saying it was no big deal and that it was a racing thing. So it was all good. Ryan and I have had a lot of great battles throughout the past few years, and I’ve always enjoyed racing against him and I look forward to more of it in the future. Cat’s like Ryan are one of the many reasons that I enjoy racing in the great white north…

Ray Nelson putting me in the pain cave.

As lap two and three progressed, I had no real issues other than the lack of horsepower. I had managed to pass a few others and had caught up to Ray Nelson. Ray and I rode together for most of lap two and three and we eventually figured out that he was quicker in the singletrack, while I was quicker in the faster open sections. So we worked together a little with the intent of trying the catch the guy ahead of us and not get caught from behind. During lap four, I had managed to open up a gap on Ray and I kept the pressure on to make it stick.
As I approached the end of lap four, I began to feel the effort taking its toll on me. Ray eventually caught back up to me and passed. It was all that I could do to hang on once he got by. As I rolled through the start finish area, I could feel the early stages of the bonk working its way into my body. Shortly thereafter, I was in full on bonk mode. I felt really cold, hungry and completely out of gas. On one of the easier short climbs after the water crossing, I had slipped on a root that I normally would have gotten over with ease, and stalled out. I dismounted and quickly discovered the extent of my bonk as I couldn’t move past a slow walk up the hill. I tried to run, however my legs had no response. It was like that throughout the remainder of lap five and as I approached the Equalizer near the end of the lap, I knew that I was going to be in serious trouble. I dismounted at the bottom and was barely able to simply walk my bike up the hill. As I approached the top of the hill, Ron Stawicki went flying by me like I was standing still. I finally made it to the top and managed to limp my way to the finish line.

The Equalizer before the bonk.

The Equalizer after the bonk. The Ronsta passed me like I was goin' backwards.

I am still amazed that I was only passed by two peeps during my lap five meltdown and even more surprised that I was able to salvage an 11th place overall finish. It was by far the hardest that I’ve ever bonked, though I could probably count the amount of times that I’ve bonked on one hand, maybe even on three or four fingers. I am also pretty amazed at how debilitating a full on bonk can be. To get myself to the point where I can just barely walk up a hill….
Cole House rode away from the stacked field to take the win and a large cardboard check for $800. Tristan Schouten held on for 2nd and my bro Mikey Phillips brought home 3rd. Back when I first got into mountain bike racing, Cole’s family was one of the first families that I had met and we quickly became good friends. I have a lot of great memories with them, especially when I could actually finish ahead of Cole. I knew that would be short lived because as a preteen, he had a burning desire to make a career out of cycling and now it appears that he is well on his way.

Tristan and Mikey beating the crap out of each other on the Equalizer.

So I had a pretty mediocre end to the season, especially at the bigger races. Going into this season, I knew that it was going to be extremely difficult to top last season. I’ve managed to improve my results every season over the last four or five years, so a lack of improvement was bound to happen one of these years. It was still a good season and I did have some results that I’m really happy with. I’m even happy with most of the lesser results. Twelve years ago, when I zip tied a number to my mountain bike for the first time, I never envisioned that I would have taken this as far as I have. So with that in mind, I had a pretty awesome year.

So what’s next? Beer, pizza, burgers, french fries…I’m pretty much gonna be on the Mike Phillips diet for a couple of months…sans cigars. Maybe it’ll make me as fast as he is. The Dirty Du is on October 24 and my annual women’s mountain biking clinic is on October 25. I might throw in a cross race here and there. So even though my season is over, we’re still going to be as busy as ever, places to go, people to see…

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Cross Dressing with Pat

Taking my turn on Pat.

Cyclocross weather came to Iowa early this year, forcing the ICORR folks to postpone IMBCS #11 to the weekend of October 11. So that opened last weekend up to two different options for Julie and I. Option 1 – drive 3 ½ hours to Platteville, WI for the Blockhouse mountain bike race. Option 2 – drive one hour to Pella for a cyclocross race. I was on the fence until the night before and the weather ultimately made the decision for us. We didn’t really feel like spending seven hours in the car, going to a race that was going to be cold, wet and muddy. So we opted for the hour long drive to Pella, for a race that would be cold, with the only real wetness coming from the sweat produced by an hour long, cross-eyed, tongue hangin’ outta yer mouth, LT effort that only cyclocross can produce.
Doing an hour long cross race is also probably better for me the weekend before my last ‘A’ race of the season. It’ll be a lot easier for my old body to fully recover from an hour long cross race than a 2+ hour long mountain bike race. I do try to stay away from cross racing prior to the end of the mountain bike racing season, mainly because I am very prone to injury when it comes to running, even if it is just a short stumble over a couple of barriers. However, it’s tough to beat the quality of the hour long workout that I end up getting from a cross race. So when I do a cross race, I err on the side of caution to mitigate any chance of having some kind of a blowout when crashing through the barriers.
When we arrived at the course, I had a lot of people telling me how I would have a huge advantage due to the technical nature of the course. I never expect to win a cross race on a mountain bike. I’ve not done enough cross racing to be able to quantify how much of a disadvantage one has on a mountain bike. I can however, tell you that a mountain bike is inferior to a cross bike as a cross bike is the overwhelming weapon of choice for anybody who races cross. So, my goal for the day was primarily to get a good, high intensity workout in. What better way to accomplish that then to chase tPod, JJ and whoever else around in a city park?
Julie raced first and lined up with all of the other women. She doesn’t handle the cold very well, so I was pretty surprised at her enthusiasm for toeing the line. The chica’s took off and after a few laps, Julie had managed to spread a nice coating of mud all over the ‘goose. She ended up having a good race and ended up 2nd in the Cat 4 class. After her race, she handed off the ‘goose which probably had about 10 extra pounds of mud all over it. I’m actually considering a name change for the ‘goose. When it comes to racing cross, Julie and I both race on the ‘goose, so maybe the name ‘Pat’ might be a more appropriate moniker?

Julie puttin' the power down.

Julie running Pat through the sand. Check out Kurt B in the background, kinda looks creepy sitting on a swing with a bottle of booze. He looks like he's thinking about asking Julie if she wants some candy.

Chia Chad thinks he's a mountain biker because he's riding through the sand.

I got in a pretty good warm up despite the cold temps and lined up for the start. The race started and tPod took off like a shot out of a cannon, followed by JJ and myself. At some point during the first lap, Gummy jumped in front of me and eventually allowed a gap to open up between myself and JJ while tPod rode off into the sunset. I eventually re-passed Gummy and closed the gap to JJ. As the race progressed, JJ was able to open a gap on both of the barrier sections, and I was able to gradually close it back up between the sets of barriers. My lack of competence in running the barriers eventually got the best of me. JJ was able to gradually open up enough of a gap that was too much for me to overcome. I felt like a total pud on the barrier sections, it felt like I was going in more of a vertical direction then horizontal. Towards the latter half of the race, the wheels of my bike were banging into the barrier. I was kinda surprised that it didn’t yank the bike out of my hands. I did run the barriers this year better than I did last year as documented on You Tube.

Sweet form.

Racing in small circles around a city park, thinking about singletrack.

About midway through the race, Nate Kullborn had managed to reel me in and sat on my wheel for a lap or two. As we made our way through the sand, I kinda backed off on the effort a little to force him ahead of me. I sat on his wheel for a lap and as we hit the blacktop, he motioned for me to take over. I passed him and as we were going through the sand at the end of the lap, I could here him having somewhat of a physical meltdown and that was the last the I saw of him.
In the end, tPod ran away with the W, JJ came in 2nd and I followed in 3rd place, very satisfied with another great workout and no injuries. My average HR for the race was 177, by far the highest average HR for a race this season. I finally feel like I am getting myself into a decent state of recovery, just in time for the last race of the season.

So with Sugarbottom being rescheduled for this weekend, I am once again faced with another tough decision. Sugarbottom or Sheboygan? I have the IMBCS points title wrapped up, so missing Sugarbottom would be of no consequence to me. So Sheboygan it is. The WORS race Sheboygan has been a key ‘A’ race for me all along, right up there with Chequamegon, so I doubt that I would have opted out of Sheboygan regardless. Last year I had one of my best races ever, finishing 5th overall in a field stacked with some of the best mountain bike racers in the Midwest. I’d be pretty happy if I could equal that, or maybe even top it. I am also really looking forward to drinking a few beers afterwards in lieu of my usual R4 smoothie….

Thanks for reading,