Monday, March 31, 2008

Rim Wrecker- Like being a kid again...

First off I would like to start by thanking Baby Jesus for the top notch promoters of this event. The race was run well, started on time, started with a smiling Rich and Furbs making it fun for the racers, scored perfectly, and the prize $$$ and schwag was great! I finally got one of those Shimano Dura Ace hats I have been asking Pirtle for so long! And let's not forget the ample supply of good cold beer at the end of the race! Sweet baby Jesus, thank you!

The race yesterday made me happy on so many levels. Sure, I was excited about the new SID Race, some super light Stans ZTR race wheels, some tires I have confidence in and the fancy white kit, but there are some other things that are way less tangible but so much more gratifying.

I have been feeling so good lately, generally speaking, and Saturday my excitement was so apparent, my coworkers were worried. Luckily I had my friend Chris Ludwig there to listen and show interest, otherwise I would have been lonely in my happiness. I like racing in poor conditions. Like Tim Johnson (also from MA), I look at poor conditions as a part of racing, one I excel at. Giovanni declared that from now on, when I get that amped up about a race because of the conditions, he's not going. As a kid I remember my brother and I riding trails in the warm summer rain, thrilled at the feeling; mud kicking up, two wheel slides around corners, so much fun!!! Even though party was over the instant we were greeted at the door by mom, it was totally worth it... I guess some people just never experience that feeling as a kid or are too tight assed to want to remember? That's not really what this is about anyway, it's about the totally positive vibe of everyone at Council Bluff on Sunday that felt it, remembered and could only smile.

There was some banter from the DRJ-boys, Wes and Chris, on the line about me being able to keep air in my tires and if my gears would work the whole race. It was light hearted even though there were some strong dudes lined up- Wes, Chris, Fuhrman, Travis Thrower and Andy Gibbs to name a few. I have to say that I admire these guys for showing up to give it a go. Like me, they were toeing the line to face poor conditions and were excited about it!

They said GO! and I went. I got a gap right away and never looked back. I have to say that I was a little amazed at how quickly I opened things up. Even after going off course on the slight descent after the pine section, until a tree stopped my forward motion, I held the lead. It started raining, HARD. I thought for sure Chris and Wes would come riding up behind me on the first big climb, forced to ride a bigger gear then me, but by the top of the second grassy climb they were no where in sight. At one point I caught a glimpse of Chris, Wes and Travis riding together on one of the coves but it was really hard to tell how far back they were? Mud was flying into my eyes forcing me to blink out of control... I fell into the drink, all the way in, and was chilled a bit when I got out, but pushed on. The legs were there and aside from being worried about fading I was feeling good.

I turned my first lap in 1:06. Considering that last year I was riding with Wes before I flatted, close to the finish of the first lap, and he ended up at 1:03 in perfect conditions, I knew I was flying. I was riding really well, efficient through the mud and great technically. I would love to see what I would have turned had it been dry! By now the course was getting way worse. The rain was steady and there was water running down the center of the trail, and somehow it was awesome! So I pushed on. I wasn't looking over my shoulder at all, I only look over my shoulder when I'm in trouble and fading. I looked ahead, blinked a lot to keep the mud cleared and pushed on. I wasn't able to clear the climb on the second lap but it was nice to stretch the legs, so I ran a bit. The rain had stopped and the mud was drying to my skin and face. I started to think about winning, but quickly forced the thoughts out of my head and concentrated some more.

As I crossed the footbridge at the fork of the Ozark trail I was in cruise control mode. I was going pretty fast and feeling good. The trail was much drier here and I without any more big climbs all I had to do was ride smart. There was no one in sight. When I crossed the boat launch I started to realize that I was about to win my first race in 2008 and started to put it down. It was still easy as I pushed the big meat...

Chris was the first one to meet me at the line to congratulate me, beer in hand. He wasn't able to keep air in his tires and was keeping the beer cold for me :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Loyal readers respond....

EP wrote me this morning to answer my question, "What happens if you crash at Lost Valley going that fast?"

Check out that meat paw!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

training: was smiling ear to ear while training today... it must have been fun!

WHY DO YOU RACE A BIKE? Let's get into some Michael Jackson Man in the Mirror stuff here for a minute. Someone commented on why I would refer to one set of wheels as "training wheels" and my new Stans ZTR Race 1210 gram wheels as "race wheels." The problem was he couldn't understand why I would refer to my bike riding as "training" because, to him, that implies that it's not fun.

Well let me explain a few things. I LOVE to race my bike. I LOVE to train. I LOVE doing well in races. I LOVE talking about nutrition, training plans and equipment. This stuff truly makes me happy. Before I started racing bikes I was unhealthy. Not really in a bad way, it's almost socially acceptable, I just spent a lot of time in bars and not treating my body right. It affected my whole outlook on things. I was always feeling tired, a little paranoid about friendships and what people thought of me, and basically somewhat depressed.

After a couple years of racing bikes I slowly started to see that I was making decisions that were based on "racing" but truly contributed to my overall sense of well being. I began to drink less, eat better, and slowly started to notice how much better I felt living this way. Sure, I miss going to shows and having crazy all night dance parties, but I've grown up a little and don't miss the 3 days it would take me to feel normal again one bit. It didn't happen overnight but 5 years later I can say that I am way more confident, healthy, motivated in all regards and very happy with where I am at.

I love setting goals for myself. I really enjoy the feeling of having really good fitness and learning how to control it better. I like to wake up in the morning, take my resting heart rate and plan my day. It adds structure to my life and I enjoy it. Most of my friends and family are unbelievably supportive of me, regardless if it's a Missouri State Championship or World Cup race, they are happy for me that I am happy and healthy. They definitely don't remind me that "it's only local racing" when they see how exited I am about it.

Today was one of those days that reminded me of how much I really like training and racing. I headed out to Lost Valley exited to do some LT intervals up the long double track climb I found while warming up last weekend and get a feel for my new equipment. I can't speak highly enough about all of it, but I'm going to do 3 separate reviews on that later. Today the legs were there, the body was responding and I was riding as well as I ever have. I felt like I was floating through the single track today and kept asking myself what would happen if I went down going this fast... It was sick. The senses were on fire and I was loving it. I did a warm up lap, took a couple minutes to dial in that last 2 mm of seat height, did my workout, and then did another lap and a half which was pure bliss. I shut myself off after 2:45, leaving some in the tank. What a perfect day.

So while I sit here writing this, after the endorphin rush has worn off a little and I'm feeling tired, it's not easy for me to tell you that my training today was "fun." It was so much more than that. Hopefully you can be as exited about something in your life as I am about this, because it feels that good and I want you to feel good too.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter form

I trespassed into IL on Easter, afraid of being seen and attacked by 2slowtobeasemipro, and poached the trails in a snowy bliss for 4 hours. I saw 2 other cyclists on what are normally very busy trails. What a great day. I finished this ride up and I have to say it was the first endurance ride of the year that I felt was easy and didn't have to eat my way through $100 of groceries immediately afterwards to return to normal. EP was right, a little rest for the legs goes a long way...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

For Matt Keeven- doin' it the hard way.

While I personally like to floss 23 lb bikes with 4" of travel, there are some people that like to do it the hard way. Often times when gearing up for large group rides it is common to hear someone from the group say something about "I'm riding my single speed today so don't wait for me." 9/10 that person should have just said "I'm one slow mammer jammer so I brought this bike so I can use that excuse when I get shelled like chestnuts at Christmas."

Of course there are exceptions as shown in the video and I will probably eat my words for saying this, but it's kinda like 29'ers in the World Class ranks- they aren't winning. Maybe this post will influence CP into trying other avenues of local domination??? It would be a neat test...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Weight update...


I'm considering getting rid of the granny gear and aluminum rotors to race on. I want the scale to read 22 and change....

Apparently all I need to do is take my bike and weigh it at ???? ... EP's bikes were quite a bit lighter on some "fishing scale" then on our brand new Park Tool digi... Those guys...

We at Mesa take weight seriously... We listen to a reggae station sponsored by a gram scale company with the most accurate scales out there!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

You can feel good

If you really take the time to listen to this I think you will find it hard to dislike. Keep in mind this is all improvisation in front of a huge audience. Often times they fell flat on their faces, but when it was good, it was really good! They call Trey the Jedi, Big Red, and Machine Gun. This is one quintessential clip from "The Great Went" festival in 1997.

Listen to it. A mind is like a parachute folks.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Weight Weenie

+ = SUB 23 pound 4" bike

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lost Valley

Wow. What a fast race. These races are turning what are normally time trials into some real deal racing. It is awesome. After getting some rest and a little advice from The Little Muscle (what my buddy Eddie used to call EP), I was planning on finding out what kind of form all this base training has got me into. To be honest, I was really happy with the way I rode on Sunday an it definitely was a glimpse of some real form to come. Too bad I didn't have just a little more of it, but I actually finished right where I thought I would so I feel reassured that I am on the right track.

There were some heavy hitters lining up. Chris, Wes, TK, Nate Rice and two semi pros from IN to say the least. Brad Nelson is an 18 year old SM who podiums the overalls in the DINO series. To give you an idea of how hard these races are, sometimes EP even gets smoked. Nate is a guy who is thinking about UCI cross races and is just out to get some racing in, but if he was showing up to these in November shape he would be riding away from us. Chris had a helmet cam on, not very PRO, but his performance made up for it.

The race started out as expected and I just stayed up in the top 5 or so and out of the wind. Things were going well until Scott Ogilvie made a move right before the downhill to get in front, and then got on his brakes when he realized that maybe a CX bike wasn't such a good idea on loose descents at 30+ mph. Instantly CP, TK and one of the guys from IN (IN from now on) got a little gap. Scott made up for it on the climb and we all were strung out the whole way up, Big Ringing it like it was pavement. By the time we were close to the top I was actually feeling pretty good and knew that most people were hurting... Right before we started the descent SO made another move to get behind the top three riders, found himself going too fast again and hit the brakes. TK sensed this and him, CP and IN took off across the bridge and the door opened up. As soon as we got across the bridge I passed SO right behind Aaron and we started to put it down, all the while knowing that if they hit the long gravel backside alone they were gone. I was surprised at how fast we opened up a huge gap on Scott, Wes, and Furhman, not to mention the rest of the field. We got closest right before the cedars, but TK, no rookie, pushed that extra % and opened it right back up. Aaron started to bog down in the mud going through the cedars, so I made my move and dropped him fast on the descent.

I had the winning selection in my sights, about 75 meters away, when I hit the gravel but they weren't slowing down for me to catch on. I slayed myself and was amazed at the type of riding I was doing. I knew I was moving because around each turn the three guys in front of me weren't much further away and I was opening up a big gap on the guys behind me. I let up a little bit before ducking around the left hander, with no followers in sight down the long stretch of gravel behind me, and took a few pedal strokes to recover before I dove back into the single track.

Sitting in 4 th place behind two strong semi pros and the Legend TK, I was feeling pretty good and started to talk myself along as I so often did in endurance races. Stay smooth, eat, stay smooth, push a little harder gear, don't look back, stay smooth, drink... you can do it. That kinda stuff. As I crossed the line after the first lap I was told I was only about 30 seconds down and I looked behind me and there was no one. I was worried what the climb would do to me, but after I crested the steep section I started turning over the big meat and feeling pretty good. I rode the next single track section clean and fast and was very focused. They were nowhere in sight in front, or behind me at this point. I hit the double track again, worried about the wind and knowing I was led by a group of three who had been working together, and was being chased by an even more cohesive trio of motivated riders. I had a gel figuring it would kick in on the last lap and pushed.

They started to close the door on me on the gravel but somehow I still managed to hold them off. I wasn't trying to yo-yo them but I would guess that Wes was taking real pulls, Aaron didn't have enough gearing to stay on the gas and Dan F was soft pedaling...

I started to really feel it at the top of the steep section on the last lap and Fuhrman made a move to get across to me. When he got to me I chatted with him a bit and got the "oh man I'm so freakin' spent I can't pull at all" and actually believed him. I'd consider him a friend after a couple years of riding and racing at the same places and would have expected him to just man up and just tell me to suck it, but he didn't and I pulled for the glory. We had about 100 meters on Wes and AAron and thought that if we could just make it hard enough for them and work together a little on the long gravel section we would be home free. I was pulling my little brains out with Furhman on my wheel and as we began to crest the final riser, he attacked. Fucker. Bahhaaaaahaaa. He likes sheep too, I bet. I put in a good 10 second effort but the legs locked up and I had to sit back down. He got away.

I was able to hold off Wes and Aaron until about midway through the double track section before I gave up. The legs were gone. If all the motivational speakers in the world were holding a conference in my little head, it wouldn't have made a difference. I was cooked and started to think about survival. 4th place had seemed so close and now I was worried about 5th, 6th, or 7th. This was some bad ass racing going on.

I think Wes knew I was pretty cooked and didn't give me shit for not pulling. I sat on churning over the big meat and trying to convince myself that I could make it come down to a sprint. We went into the narrow trail and Aaron took off. Wes followed and I surrendered. Almost. I started to catch Wes again and managed to stay on his wheel when he made a little push before we started the last long descent in the woods. In his own head General Lee was still telling him to attack , he had a chance at winning one more minor battle and catching Aaron. General Lee had me thinking about drinking sweet tea on a nice porch...

As Wes and I rolled up through the field on the way to the finish he stomped on it again and somehow I caught him again, this time I told him I wasn't going to even try but he could still see Aaron and told me he wanted to catch him. His strong will broke mine and I down shifted to my middle ring and he pushed on for the final 500 meters. As I passed my buddy Rich Pierce who smiled and said hello two other guys were yelling at me to finish strong. I was too tired to punch them in the face. Insult + Injury

4th to 7th isn't so awesome, but how many XC races do you do that come down to crit like finishes? What an unreal series this is shaping up to be! The legs are coming around as planned and the voices in my head are starting to make sense.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jedis in training...

Zach jumped onto the blogging scene swinging his mini lightsaber with force and using some non traditional Jedi weapons like a compound bow... His writing style has clearly been influenced by the Furry Black Cats which makes me happy!

Matt is still dipping his feet in the blogosphere... I think he is feeling reluctant because his lover Giovanni "thinks it gay and a waste of beer drinking time." Matts dark side is strong so we will have to keep out eye on this young Jedi...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Last March was Pina Colada month...

It was all about raw tuna and frozen drinks in Kauai... Maybe DRJ will bring me blender, some pina coladas and cherries as a consolation prize...

Monday, March 3, 2008

DRJ domination

Wes only looks like a convict, he's really a nice guy. DRJ likes the contrast between his smile and D-Waynes scowl.

Nice job to the boys in blue for stacking the podium (first time ever) in a really hard race. For the part of the race I was actually racing it was great to be in such a big field.

The first couple miles I was battling with TK, Chris , and Scott Ogilvie to put some distance on the field, which we did. Close behind were Wes and Bob and a guy from IL who were poised to jump me when I blew, which I did. I was really on the rivet and trying a little to hard and went down early, but was able to jump right back in there. It was unbelievably hard. The conditions weren't muddy, they were just soft and slow. Lower back scorching power, which I definitely don't have right now. Chris and the guy from IL took off and I was left to chase TK only to be passed by both Bob and Wes who put a big gap on the both of us fast.

I started to put some pressure on TK and just as I was coming up on him he flatted. Not the way you want to see good competition go down. I kept reminding myself that this pain would go away, as it usually does when I am fit, and tried to find some rhythm. I came up at Wes who was trying to figure out where to go, through the tunnel or over it, and we started to battle for 4th position. Bob was no where in sight and I wasn't sure if Wes was blocking for him, or just on the rivet so I attacked him which didn't last long at all. As soon as we hit the grassy part at the base of the climb he rode away from me.

I was still feeling serious leg searing pain in my quads but thought it would go away and started to think more like an endurance racer and started to eat, drink and pace. I figured it was early in the season and someone up the road would have to blow.

Coming through after the first lap Chris had less than 2:30 on me, which wasn't as bad as I had thought, so I put my head down and pushed on. The first part of the course was the worst and was all power. I didn't have any power and since we were going so slow my technical skills (or lack of yesterday) weren't a benefit. I did start to see Wes again though and a Dent Wizard rider I don't know (Andy Oguinn) was about 20-30 seconds back. He was getting a little bit closer and I was getting closer to Wes so I slowed up a little on one of the short, stiff, slow climbs that you went into with no speed and let him get pretty close and then gassed it a little hoping to break him. I didn't. He was still about 10 seconds back when I caught Wes and caught us right before one of the short descents.

The three of us rode together for a bit and, once again,my skills failed me on a short downhill and I ended up all over my face... Not a big deal though, I caught right back on and we rode as a trio for a couple more miles. on the backside of the course there was a grassy climb followed by a series of mid length climbs... As soon as we hit the base I was off the back. I was pedaling squares and my legs were burning. I wasn't coming out of the hole... I was in survival mode now.

Riding alone I started to focsus on just staying smooth and suffering for one more lap when I felt the rear end go flat in an instant. Upon inspection I noticed quite a bit of Stans coming out of the broken bead and it was really tough to distinguish much else with all the mud... I struggled to get the tubeless valve out which I got to the point at which I almost gave up and then realized I would have to walk 3 miles so I kept trying.... Then the Corey past... I struggled... a couple more people passed. Finally I got the tube back in and made it about a mile down the trail before it really blew out. Game over.

Time to rest more. I have a lot of excuses but what it boils down to is that I trained hard, didn't rest enough, and paid the price in pain.

On to the next one.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Team Segall just lost... Lost it all... To BRAWNDO!


p.s. notice the first drink that sucks compared to BRAWNDO is Segall... Win at yelling!