Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Bees Knees

The bike isn't going to make me faster but I can make some bikes go faster than others... The Epic and I just didn't hit it off. I never felt as fast on it as I did on my Anthem. I was thinking about going to a carbon hard tail but a combination of fit and availability led me back to the suspension design I have wanted to try for quite some time, not to mention EP giving me a sweet hook up on the frame! I am actually feeling really optimistic about this bike after talking to the only guy in St Louis who goes through bikes as fast as I do, TK. Tim said he totally understood what I was feeling on the Epic and that the OIZ should bring that snap back. I might even pull a Russ Murphy and build it up to race on Sunday... more likely at Landahl though.

In other news I took a full 5 days off the bike after the WORS race. I can honestly say that I wasn't feeling normal again until Thursday and by Saturday was chomping at the bit to start training again.

Jen and I went down to Council Bluff with the James Gang, C-money and the Sment and Dave Duo for our Memorial Day tradition. We had a good time partying on Saturday night and did some riding on Sunday. Jen and I opted to ride the lake loop which was in the worst condition I have ever seen. There were a fair amount of muddy spots and some downed trees. Overall the track wasn't in very good shape either with a bunch of debris left all over the place by the floods. I pushed it a bit for a lap and came up at 1:15 (counter clockwise with the hill) which is very slow for me. I can usually push sub 1:10 without that kind of effort but the combination of the first really hot day, poor conditions and flat legs had me feeling slow... It probably was the Epics fault.

I think I have decided to race at Rhetts Run this weekend. The thought of racing at Matson doesn't interest me at all. It's either going to be a really short race or 8 laps and neither are my style... Rhetts has always been good to me and for me to go do the DINO race alone would cost $90 in gas, $50 in hoteys and another $60 in food and entry fees so I think it's a no brainer... Especially since my chances at making any money aren't so good.

That is all.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

WORS #2 Treadfest, Lake Geneva.

I realize that hindsight is 20/20. I felt like my preparation for this race was pretty much dialed going into it. I knew I wasn't going to set Wisonsin on fire or anything like that, but secretly I was really hoping to end up in the top 15 of the overall for this race. I felt like that was within my ability. The week before the race my anxiety levels started to rise and things started to come undone a little bit, but I felt like I was rested enough and focused so that I could lose a little sleep and not have it effect me too badly. As you all know, I'm pretty high energy/obsessive compulsive about everything so I'm very sensitive to changes in the program leading up to big events.

After leaving a little too much on the road out in Wildwood last Wednesday, things started to snowball. Losing a night of sleep or having sore legs for a day really is nothing for me to worry about, but when I train hard and miss rest for multiple days in a row it eats me up. By Friday night the tank was close to empty and I ignored the signs as I was tossing and turning trying to fall asleep; if you don't have problems sleeping then you probably can't relate, but when you are really tired it only makes it harder to rest. Saturday morning came around and I got up early to pack the car and open up the legs for an hour before work. It was busy at work all day and I bounced along the bottom fueled the D-Wayne juice I had won at Castlewood until Scott and Drew came and picked me up for the drive to Chicago at 5. Usually I spend the day before a race flexing in the mirror and threatening to attack my co-workers, but there was no intensity for me. I was cooked.

Between my bike almost coming completely off the back of the chintz strap on rack we put on Scott's car 3 times (not an attempt at humor), a tour of Springfield IL in search of a decent meal, a terrible meal at Olive Garden in Springfield, and getting lost in Rockford as we neared our hotel. We ended up making the 4 hour drive in about 7 hours and got to sleep by 1 A.M.

Aside from any signs of Motley Crue like adrenaline running through my veins, the next morning was business as usual and we had extra time to get lost again and still show up to the race with time to get my shit together. I think both Scott and Drew were surprised that I wasn't going nuts and yelling at them when we got lost. I didn't even really notice that I wasn't threatening to karate chop anyone in the face or suppressing the hair from standing up all over my body as I clenched my jaw in excitement, I was pretty apathetic about the whole event. After all, it was only the most important race for me so far this season; why should I care about trying to rip any legs off?
After selecting some medium heat coloring embrocation and a little warm up we headed over to the start. They PRO and Semi Pro call ups I still got a good spot on the line. If you look behind Tristan Schouten in the red on the left of the picture you might be able to see me about three rows back. As they played the National Anthem I think I started to feel a little of the fire, and then they said go. I actually got a pretty good jump off the line and up the grassy ski slope, maybe in the top 10. Then I started going backwards. Another BIG climb and into the singletrack... The nail in the coffin. I was all over the place.

Let me just say that if you put aside all the little stuff and a some added fatigue from not having an ideal week leading up to the race and the fitness is really good, I'd have a chance at fighting my way through it, which I did for 3/5 laps. What happened on the first two laps was a result of me not having done a race this big before and not knowing how to prep for it. Craig Worcestershire (team Arm Shaver All Star) kinda laughed at me when I told him we were going up the night before. He was going to get up there Sat morning, get a hotey at the venue, pre ride and get a good nights sleep. Now that's frickin' pro! Lining up against 70 blazing fast dudes, most of whom had raced there before, without pre-riding the course was pretty much a train wreck waiting to happen.

I didn't have to wait long for it to happen. I was riding a B game in an A race for the first two laps and there was no recovering from that. I started to get passed by groups of people and quickly started to get down on myself instead of giving myself the usual pep talk to get my head on straight and push on. It wasn't good.

By the third lap I started to get some rhythm going and ride a little better and slowly started to work my way up. I started passing people on both the climbs and the single track and riding smooth. The legs were actually ok.
With two to go I knew I was pretty much just racing the clock and really started to push. I felt like I was going fast and kept passing riders and riding well. I was leaving my race on the trail and was feeling optimistic that I was at least finishing strong.

I came across the line in 2:11, the winning time pro time was 1:55 and there were 25 spots between me and him if that tells you how close these races are. I was totally spent. I haven't finished a race and felt that way afterwards in a long time. Above all, knowing that I made the best of what I had and left it all out there was a huge pleasure for me.

It was kind of a bummer that they made a mistake with the results and we opted to leave, I missed my podium appearance at the biggest race I have ever done. I know that some of you might think that is lame to care, but I do. I finished 5 th place in my field but didn't come close to my potential or goals. I don't even think that I would have won my class had it been a good day, but I feel like I am capable of a top 15 spot in the overall and am really upset that I didn't cross all my t's and dot my i's to know that for sure.

I guess it's hard to see the forest through the trees right now, because a 5th place finish in the biggest mountain bike series in the States isn't too bad.

Time to get some rest and reassess.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chris Plochs Castlewood Race footage!



The buzz

The nerves have started to act up. Sleep has been sporadic. I've been resting since Saturday but the body is restless. I'm very anxious about toeing the line with a bunch of really fast dudes up in Wisonsin. Since I have limited myself to under three hours of riding I have had too much idle time. I've baked all the muffins I can bake, tuned my bike for maximum free speed and sat around with my feet up since Saturday and the body wants to go again...

My pipe dream is for a top 10 spot but cracking into that when there will be 20 Pros there is a little unrealistic. I guess that's why I'm calling it a dream, especially since I'll have to line up in back. Hopefully since it's only the second race of the WORS series some of them don't have the form from the seven races I have done so far... Wish full thinking?

I've got to go and let off a little steam and see how the legs are. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

MO NORBA @ Castlewood

A little bit closer to fast. My first podium in a Missouri NORBA series open class event. Feels pretty good to come within :59 seconds of Chris.

What a great day at Castlewood! Biggest racer turnout I have seen at these races, ton's of spectators on the course and a very positive atmosphere. Top notch event, as good as it gets! Thanks to Bob and the DRJ crew, Dave Ploch and Bill Howard for making it run so smooth! Also, a very special thanks to Team Seagal for bringing the party! Nico, where's my hat!

I was pretty amped up for this race. Jen was coming to see me race for the first time this year so I had to bring my A game so I wouldn't look like a chump. I've been waiting for the day where I could feel like I was competitive with the top tier here on the home turf. With our new open class format (no age grouping or separating the Pro/Semi/Expert riders) it makes for some very competitive racing, so cracking into a money spot isn't easy and a podium spot is usually reserved in advance.

I can't remember the last time I didn't have to sit on the line while my legs got cold waiting for the race to start, yesterday it happened. We lined up, called off and they said go. It was great, especially since there is was a major climb 200 yards into the race. I got the hole shot and put it down. The legs didn't lock up as bad as they have been and I was pretty focused. Mike Best came around me at the top of the climb and gapped me a little bit and surprisingly, we had a gap on the rest of the field. As we started the descent I realized that my brakes were working at about 50%. New pads in the front and lube on the back... I was pretty sketchy going and having to shut down completely going through the switchbacks and power out of them... Usually I would rail them. Mike got away a bit and a group was coming from behind me until I heard some carnage taking place...

When I hit the bottom Mike had a gap on me going into the Love climb but we had a pretty decent 20-30 second gap on Chris who was working his way up from behind. I caught Mike about 3/4 the way up Love and should have attacked before we hit the Roller Coaster but hesitated and saved a match or two... Chris was still a little ways behind us. About a mile into Roller Coaster Chris caught us and Mike was bogging down a little so I attacked knowing Chris would follow but not wanting him to get around me before the descent... We started flossing the Roller Coaster and flying down Grotpeter when we came up on Ralph who was racing endurance. There was really nowhere to pass so we just sat back a little and rested the legs. When we went around Ralph we started flying down the bottom of Grotpeter and Chris was yelling about how much fun he was having as I rooster tailed him the whole way. Coming through the start finish was a blast with people lining the course, bells ringing and people running along side us. There was no one in sight behind us at this point.

Chris gapped me a little at the top of the climb on lap two and the yo yo-ing began. I was feeling good and the race was really going by fast. I would catch glimpses of him in front of me and by the time I would come around the next turn he was out of sight. When I hit the Lone Wolf climb at the start of the third lap he was only 150 meters ahead, but that was very deceiving and it was really about 45 seconds.

I had to be realistic and ride smart. If I crushed it too much I would risk flatting or crashing and loosing ground to whoever was behind me so I made a big effort on the Love climb as he dangled in front of me and closed a little bit of the gap... He responded and opened it back up.

I don't remember seeing him at the start of the first lap but knew that I was pretty much racing against the clock at this point, so I rode smart up the climb and down the other side and then started to push. I was feeling the effort but truthfully, it was kind of easy. You might say well if it was easy then you weren't going hard enough but that's not what I mean. I just mean that with the level of fitness I have now racing is starting to feel like it should and what is a monster effort one week is not quite as big the next. I concentrated on pushing the big meat and a gear or two bigger in the back through the Roller Coaster and powered the climbs, leaving it all on the trail... I killed the lowers of Grotpeter and then got in the TT tuck through the bottoms and into the field...

... :59 seconds behind Chris. I'm glad I pushed; seconds sound like much less of a margin than minutes. Eddie from Team Seagal handed me a icy cold PBR and it was good. The story telling began.

The MESA team continues to bring it. 3 podium spots in some very competitive fields. Keeven destroyed the SS class with fast expert lap times and DrewBy smoked a huge sport field. We aren't 18 years old but we are fast!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ready for more?

Not quite sure about the legs. I experienced a slight hiccup in my training that made me a little nervous so I've been taking a few extra days with the legs up. After getting some solid training in I took last Thurs, Fri and Sat really easy. My resting HR was 40, as low as I have ever seen it, on Sat and Sun and the legs were feeling ok so I went out on Sunday and opened them up a little with a 2 hour tempo ride... I felt great on the ride and was really flying. I usually take in about 250 calories per hour on a ride like that, but for some reason I only ate 200 calories on the ride? Monday was terrible and the legs felt hot and sore... I figured that maybe they were so rested the effort shocked them a little? Usually I don't even feel any soreness from an effort like that and my HR doesn't rise until two or three days after a couple harder rides?

I had planned on going out to check out the new fork on the MTB Tues morning but the legs still didn't feel great and my RHR was around 45 so I took the day off. I am a little worried about how the Lone Wolf climb is going to feel on flat legs but am airing on the side of caution and looking ahead towards the WORS race on the 18th... even though I really want to see how my fitness is compared to where I was at at Lost Valley against the rock star local crew. I can't have my cake and eat it too unfortunately... Who knows? Maybe it's just in my head... I didn't feel that great before that race at CB of Tsali either.

On another note, congratulations to my teammate Matt Keeven for a big win down at Syllamo's revenge in terrible conditions. After giving Matt quite a bit of the business about winning a big race outright on a SS, he brought the heat and did it... I take back what I said about quitting racing if you beat me in an expert race on a SS. I like racing. Nice job man!

***p.s.- this one was for your Sment- sorry it was so boring, nothing else to talk about except for kitties.