Sunday, June 29, 2008

Middle Fork Extravaganza

Great day shredding trail with the boys. Keeven, Zach, Drewby, Christopher and a surprise visit from Karl King. Everyone was riding well and it was one of the more cohesive epic mountain rides I have ever done... Other then bleeding arms from black raspberry bushes lining the trail in places and a flat things went great... The Alma is a sweet ride.

The DQ Blizzard of the month, the Strawberry Cheese Quake, was a nice way to follow up some decent Mexican...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You know how we do it... Murdered out Orbea Alma

23 lbs 5 oz... It looks tough... Other than the KCNC Ti Pro Lite seat post (145 grams) and maybe some race hoops down the road this puppy is ready to floss. I'm also considering putting the XTR cranks on the OIZ and trying some Rotor Agilis 2x9 with a 40/28 setup... Not sure about the shifting though so feel free to chime in. I'm going to ride this bad boy today...

After looking at my lap times from Sunday I have to say I am really pleased with my consistency... I didn't even fall off the pace of lap 1 too much. Check my math but I think it's right this time...
1) 21:48 2) 22:27 3) 22:24 4) 22:24

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Truman's Big Love

I have to be honest here, I have never won an XC race this big. It feels pretty awesome. I've had some ups and downs in the bigger races this year and in the back of my head I started to question if I had what it took to take the overall in a bigger event like this one. I know this is no NMBS Series race or WORS race, but the racing this weekend was no joke. With names like Chris Ploch, Aaron Elwell, Cameron Chambers, John Matthews, Shadd Smith, Mark Studnicki and Tom Price, I was standing on the line wondering if my goal for a top five was even realistic. For those of you that don't know, Cameron Chambers has a National Championship Jersey from winning the 2005 24 Hour Solo Championships and John Matthews has stood on the 2cd step of the podium at the Masters World Mountain Biking Championships (one step below Tilford). Aaron Elwell was the 2007 NMBS Series Expert overall winner and had turned the fastest lap at last years Rapture In Misery race with some seriously fast dudes in attendance. These are the names to know when you line up, I doubt that most of them knew my name.

It was a 4 lap race and without all the drama I had in the last race, I can keep it short. We started out up a double track grinder, big ring wheel to wheel. I took count of 7 guys in front of me and wasn't feeling too confident that any of these guys would be falling off the pace. I turned around as we made a 90* turn into the single track and in the first mile we had already shelled the other 30 guys in the field. Occasionally a dab or slide out would cost a place or two but we basically were pace lining through some very tight single track. The first lap was pretty much uneventful and I started to wait for my legs to say no, which they didn't.

The second lap was more of the same. I sucked down some liquid crack and made pace. Occasionally a little gap would open or someone would move up a spot or two through the field, but for the most part, everyone was still riding their A game and it was a very tight race. Mark Studnicki opened up a little bit of a gap on us and was actually out of sight for the second half of the lap. As we came flying through the start/finish I was worried because I needed to grab a bottle, but luckily so did a couple others and I was able to catch back on. I was amazed at the snap that I had in the legs and started to feel a little confidence boost.

At the start of the third lap I downed another Rooster Booster and things started to happen. We caught up to Studnicki just as you entered the first section of single track and he didn't look like he had any power. Chris, Myself and Shadd hit the first section of uphill single track, before the big double track section at some serious speed and there was some separation. I looked back to see Tom Price get caught in a rut and crash and Cam was able to go around him. Shadd sensed catching the guy off the front and then the little mishap and opened it up with Chris and I in tow. Free lunch. I noticed that Shadd was bogging down a little though the single track at the top of the nasty rocky run up and gambled when we popped out into the field; we had just a little gap and I knew that if I were able to get into the woods at the other end first he might slow up the flossers through the next real tight section just enough for me to open it up. The OIZ was made to dominate tight, rooty, fun trail like this and I got on it. I was worried that I laid the cards down too early, but I was riding so well and having so much fun that I wasn't about to look back... Going down Tasty I caught glimpses of Chris and Mark chasing, but I wasn't having too much trouble finding out of the saddle power and was floating over the technical stuff. The were hot on my heels as we came though for the last lap but I wasn't looking back.

The fourth lap was tough. I was doing a lot of self motivating; reminding myself to ride smart, stay on the gas and tried not to think about how much an overall win like this would mean to me. I can't remember much except for the feeling of the legs turning to rubber when I would jam the big ring for another 10 pedal strokes in between the super tech. I thought I had a decent gap and I could ride Tasty conservatively and not risk any crashed or flats when I started to see Elwell and Chambers in hot pursuit... these two guys own the shit out of this trail and weren't about to let me walk away without a fight. I was hammering my brains out and they were closing in... When I hit the double track at the end I got in the full DB TT tuck and dug deep. I didn't dare take my eyes off the ruts.

As I crossed the finish line my teammate Matt Keeven was there with high fives and hugs. Elwell, Chambers and Ploch rolled though seconds later. I couldn't have been more happy. That was some serious racing, by far the tightest XC race I have ever done. Hopefully there is more where that came from.

The post race festivities were pretty awesome with so many good friends around and aside from some roof rack mishaps on the ride home and the dirtiest Dairy Queen ever, things were good. Matt Keeven was nice enough to treat us all to some kickass Mexican in Columbia, making nice use of his green that isn't 5 feet under flood water. On the ride home MJ and I talked about racing and rocked out to our usual Built to Spill as the rookies slept in the backseat dreaming about the expert class.

I really love racing my bike.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Smoke show...

Against my better judgement, most of the Mesa A team will be headed to Landahl again this weekend. The course is smoking fast, fun and since everyone is going I don't want to miss it... Coming off of a full week of rest this is going to be a shocker... but it's too good to miss and we scored a free hotey in KC so it's low impact for me... If I was feeling better I'd be running my Dura Ace 55 tooth TT ring for this course. At the Rapture last year they used both of these trails so after 11 laps in a row I had it pretty dialed... I've got that going for me. Awesome.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


This bike is nothing short of sick! It took me a couple days to get it dialed; funny how no matter how exact the measurements are there is always some tweaking to make it just right. It happened last night near the end of a farewell group ride for my teammate and friend, Corey Klein, who is moving to Ohio. Frustrated by the drunkness joking about me not wanting to drink beer on the ride unless it was out of carbon cans I tore off down the trail... little did I know that Corey and Zach were more interested in shredding more trail before the sun set too and saving the beer drinking for later... I heard them behind me and slowed up as we headed up JustinsTrail towards Ries Rd. When we hit the top the bliss began. I told Corey to go ahead and own it, after all it was his old backyard, and he did. Corey set the pace, Zach next and then me. We flossed like Oral B; wheel to wheel, at race pace, all A game was brought and the beer drinkers were dropped. Sometime between the yelling and footwork of fury smashing on the pedals sending us faster, faster and way too fast, it came over me like a sweet Trey Solo. I started to get goosebumps and realized I was owning the shit out of the OIZ and it wasn't trying to throw me off anymore. It was great. The whole time we were out of the saddle sprinting in between the loose gravel turns down Grotpeter I couldn't help to think to myself how messed up someones grill would have been if they were coming up the trail in the wrong direction, but luckily, as the sun faded, we flossed and no grills were damaged. When we got down to the bottom there was some serious high fiveing and karate chopping going on and I realized how fast Zach and Corey are riding and that is pretty awesome too... They took it to the next level like Super Mario.

The OIZ is everything I expected and wanted it to be. This thing just shreds. The biggest difference I notice is when I get up out of the saddle I feel like a jet taking off of a carrier instead of a big diesel gaining speed. It is serious fast. I am getting full travel with my body weight in the FOX RP23 and it in the open position, but never feel the suspension which is the way I like it... for a fast course with minimal descents the ProPedal would be ideal, but there is hardy any bob in the open position so it would have to be fire road fast to warrant using the ProPedal.

Thanks to Eric Pirtle and Orbea, I have a full XTR Alma 29'er that will be shipping this week. I couldn't be more stoked. I have wanted to have a short travel 26'er and 29'er in the arsenal for quite some time, thanks for making it happen! I'm going to run the Alma full rigid and see if I have the skills like my teammate Matt Keeven. Hopefully I'll have some kickass Industry Nine wheels to bling it out!! I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Heartland Sports KC Cup @ Landahl- Breaking the wild stallion

There is raging speed in the new OIZ that needs to be tamed. This bike is just fast and fun to ride. It wants to go at full tilt. I know that once I break it we will be great friends.

I'm always excited to go race at Landahl. It's not my favorite, but I do think it's the best trail system in Missouri. I had a rough week of training but was feeling pretty good leading up to the race and optimistic coming off a win the weekend before. The promoters have decided to start to run these as mass starts to give everyone a shot at the top five overall purse and then break it down into age groups and payout the top five in each age group as well. Good stuff. Makes for some really competitive racing, especially when there is more than the average $$ on the line. We were sitting on the line and someone made some jokes about having not ridden there bike off road in quite some time and here I was sitting on the stallion I haven't broken off road yet.

I was lucky to get a decent spot in the first row and it was a slight up hill start on fire roads for about 1/2 mile before jumping into the single-track. The course was in pretty good shape and 95% dry, except for some really greasy spots. I'm not really sure how I did it, but I dropped my chain right off the start and it took me two dabs to get my forward motion going again and had me back about 15 spots... My first mistake, but not a very big one. I jumped up the outside and settled into about 10th or so going into the woods, which proved to be well worth it because there was some instant separation between the front group and big chase group. Someone a couple spots in front of me tried to stay on too long up a muddy, rocky left hander so I jumped off and ran around two spots. The legs felt good.

The front group was all together and surprisingly no one had gotten away clean. I was feeling comfortable until we approached this rocky ledge that I crashed off the back of on the first lap last year... I tried to follow Cam Chambers wheel over it, knowing that the local boys would know the line, but still managed to screw it up and lost a couple seconds. When I popped out in the field the front end of the lead group was about 15 seconds ahead, in the middle of the field and I was about 5 seconds off the tail. I counted about 8 guys and wasn't stoked but felt confident I would be able to work my way up a couple spots.

I started to close in on Mark Cole and a GF 29'er Team rider. I was dangling off the back of them and every time I would get close they would open up the gap a little, but were always in sight. Other than some poor riding I was able to keep the bike upright for the rest of the first lap.

By the second lap I had caught up to Marks wheel going up the first long climb and he let me around him at the top. I wasn't ready to go on the offensive yet and he was staying on my wheel until I made another mistake and he passed. I just wasn't riding well or used to the bike yet and it was a bad combination. The GF 29'er rider was pretty much out of sight at this point but we had passed Kent McNeil with a flat and Cameron Chambers who had pulled the plug. I slid out on one of the rocky right handers and starting to feel like I should ride more conservatively but it wasn't bad enough to actually do it. I think the end of that lap was pretty ok and I was able to keep Mark in sight.

The 3rd lap was not so good. I basically blew my chances at my goal to land in the top five overall by spending a whole lot of time on the ground. At the start of the 3rd lap Mark and I were still battling until he crashed on one of the technical sections and I went by him. As soon as I hit the open field I started to think about opening up a gap and saw the GF 29'er rider about 15 seconds ahead. I tossed it into the big ring and started pushing. Since there was about 40 minutes to go I thought it would be a good time to for the Cheerpack Rooster Booster and I reached back to grab it. My front wheel caught the side of the rut at about 25 mph and before I knew it was time for liftoff I was somersault through the field. I thought about telling Scott Ogilvie to watch out for them at the Rapture in Misery race last year and then watching him yard sale on the first lap and made me feel like a fool. I was shaken up but ok so I jumped back on and got the speed going again.

I started to resume the chase and managed and caught a glimpse of Kent McNeil coming up from behind me. He had flatted earlier and was coming on strong. When he passed he was going so fast that it motivated me and the legs started to turn over again nicely. We started passing some sport riders at pretty high speed and came up on the GF 29'er rider and I was pretty stoked to have regained the place I lost to Kent. I guess I got a little too excited and tried to rail one of the sweeping left handers without the brakes when my front wheel caught and high sided me into the dirt. At least it was nice dirty dirt. Ironically my two biggest crashes on a mountain bike this season came on the same lap. It wasn't pretty.

The last lap was actually good. I don't remember making any big mistakes and was standing up and pushing hard out of each turn, pushing a bigger gear than I should, just trying to leave it all out there. The legs were good and although I was tired I was far from slowing down. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough and I was only able to hold onto 6th overall
and 4th in a super competitive 30-39 age group.

laps (1) 21.07 (2) 22.40 (3) 23.04 (4) 22.28
(little edit there from the math genius!)

Looking at my times today was definitely a bummer. Avg lap times were 22:19, third lap was OVER :50 seconds above average on my third lap was a race wrecker. You do the math. On the bright side, there was some serious competition there and other then the smoke show Steve Jarrett put on I wasn't too far off the pace of the locals. It sure is a bummer but it's a part of racing so I can only look forward to going back in two weeks.

Overall I had a great time riding out there with Tom and Wes. Tom won his race and did more laps than any other expert! My man Zach had the race of the season which ended up in him waxing some fool in a sprint finish. Drewby had a bad day, but like myself, luckily the bad day for that rock star was just a lower spot on the podium. The Scwitzer was having fun and setting off car alarms in the process, and it was nice to chat with Ralph Phremmer about his racing calendar. The Team Seagal riders were out there and snapped some wrists to get up on the podium, giving out free PBR's left and right on the way there. Now that's sportsmanship!

And I am raising my PBR to my twin brother Matt Keeven for waxing me by 40 seconds in 3 laps on his way to a decisive RIGID 29'ER SINGLESPEED CLASS VICTORY. Domination folks. Watch out. I'll have what he's having.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

they grow them a little tougher on the east coast...

"Even more perfect was that while hitching a ride down from Maine with a local Junior ripper I woke from a quick nap to the steady pitter patter of rain on the roof. Nice. Upon arrival at the Giant team trailer, Carl greeted me with a mud-covered smile which Tom immediately explained. Evidently, Carl had just returned from pre-riding the XC course and had told Tom that I was going to “Shit a pink twinkie” when I saw how slippery it was getting up in the woods… He was right. I love twinkies… "

Adam Craig

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bringing it all together now...

Who knows where the fitness is really at? Who cares? After a full week of rest after the WORS race followed by a MEGA week of training before Rhetts and another one this week, I can definitely say that the one thing I hate about training is doing high intensity intervals on the road bike.

On Memorial day it was 4 sets of 40 seconds on, 20 off (3 reps) with 5 minutes rest in between followed by a 20 minute LT time trial... I had to pull the plug after the 3rd one and get off my bike because I was so dizzy and ready to puke. It being my first day training in 90+ degree heat in the middle of the day didn't help either... I finished the 4th set and TT just fine but hated it... I had planned on doing some repeats on the hill up to the campground at Council but we got rained out. Last night was 4 reps of 1:15 seated big gear repeats up a 5% hill with a sprint from :45 on... Per EP's advice, to combat my problems with starts I am doing these on pretty cold legs and it's demanding... Why can't the trails be dry do I can do this stuff and enjoy it a little?

I've worn my HR monitor for a few races this season and realize that I am a master at pacing... I can ride up to my AT, without going over it, for almost the whole race. Last Sunday my avg for 1:53 was 176 bpm which must mean my LT is going up or maybe it was just the heat... I felt pretty much in control the whole race and was never in the red for long enough to leave a mark. Usually I avg 172-174 when fit. I would guess a lot of people can get the kind of intensity they need doing the Tuesday Night Worlds and racing on the weekends, but I can't seem to turn the rev governor off so It's time to put the time in. Sometimes I think the governor is s a limiter for me, like when Chris pushed it over the top of Lone Wolf and I backed off instead of slaying myself to stay on his wheel. Did I think I was going to catch him later? No, I was being a pussy. Hopefully this helps. I hate it.

I'm recovering pretty fast so hopefully I still have some legs at Landahl... I'd like to see how I compare to some of the blazing fast dudes from KC. Then it's another BIG week and it's time to start being super selective as I come down the home stretch...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

No longer an endurance minded racer.

The last two games of this series were pure fire! For some reason Pittsburgh bundled up all there intensity and saved it until they were on the ropes... They crushed the Red Wings dreams of winning at home in SUPER EPIC fashion and came close to doing so to force a game 7, but having in the end the all star studded team prevailed. What a series.

Yesterday I took the Oiz out for a spin up to Spanish Lake and Fort Bellafontaine to get it dialed for this weekend. I spent too long putting the final touches on my saddle height, fore-aft and bar setup before I left the house and didn't really pay any attention to what time it was. I left the house with about 700 calories for the ride and 400 in my belly. Problem was it was about 1 pm by the time I left.

Fire roads are as close as I could get to trail riding with all this water and I tend to be a little more aware of my fit when I'm not flossing sweet trail so I headed out to get it dialed in. This bike is rad. There will be a serious review when I actually ride some trails, but the Oiz is stiff and fun to ride!

I was doing ok after a couple laps of the fire roads at the Fort and sucking on a creatine, maltodextrin, gatorade and endurolyte mix when I decided to try the Cheerpack again for testing purposes. I was about 1:45 into my ride when I stopped at Spanish Lake for some water, to get wash the salt out of my eyes and to stretch... It was damn hot. I made the turn south at the Columbia Bottoms and things started to go downhill fast... I hit a steady headwind for the last 20 miles and didn't consider how much harder it was to push 26" knobbies on the pavement... I only had one GU left which was a temporary relief, and when it wore off it was over. I think it was a combination of the mountain bike on pavement, not enough to eat in the morning, the kick of the Cheerpack wearing off and not being replaced and the serious heat. Hot, hot, humid heat. By the time I hit the landing I was poached salmon.

I haven't limped home from a ride like that in about 4 years. It was miserable. I walked in the door and had a mega serving of Recoverite followed by a monster Chocolate Elvis Recovery drink. What? Two frozen bananas, 2 tbs peanut butter, 1 cup chocolate Soy Milk, and 1 scoop chocolate Endurox. That shit will rock your face like Elvis at Madison Square Garden in 1972!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

2008 Orbea OIZ Carbon

I hope some of you sport riders upgrade to expert soon... I need the money to pay for this sweet rig.

Seriously though. Thanks to EP and Chad at Orbea for making it happen. This thing is the heat. I passed about 15 people in Forest Park last night on a recovery ride! It's all about the bike.

I'm going to go finish getting it dialed in but right now it sits at 24 lbs 4 oz with those XT wheels and UST tires. With my Stans ZTR Race Wheels and Maxxis Crossmark Exception tires it sits at 22 lbs 5 oz. Yes, that includes cages, pedals and all the other junk... It is stiff and the suspension is to my liking; there when you need it.

Drool on.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Midwest Fat Tire Series @ Rhett's Run

Rhett's is a really demanding but fun course so when my plans fell through to go to the DINO race in Indiana it was an easy decision for me to go there, not to mention the fact that Matson is a straight up fun killer.

MJ apparently doesn't have the same kind of pre-race anxiety that I do and we pulled into the venue with 45 minutes until race time. I felt nude without my coloured embrocation but didn't have the time to grease up. I hustled to get ready and saw a bunch of familiar faces but kept the small talk to a minimum and squeezed in a little warm up. I lined up with Mike Best next to me and about 14 other guys, some of whom I didn't know and you can never be too careful...

Some guy on a Super V jumped me to get the hole shot. Being a fast starter I have to say I was a little surprised, so I took a chance on the inside line which turned out to be straight up swamp-tech and covered one side of my purdy white kit in mud. "Some Guy on a Super V" (Tom Brinker)was apparently a superstar back in the day, and like I said, you can never be too careful. I charged through the first section in the big ring taking a couple chances on the sketchy stuff and there was instant separation. As I hit the first uphill switchback about a mile in I saw Mike Best and one other CBC guy nipping at my heels and knew Mike would catch me on the climb, which he did, but not the other guy. There were some pretty slick sections but we both rode the rest of the first lap without making any mistakes and he never gave me any room and I didn't attack. As we came through after the first lap I looked over my shoulder at the far end of the field and there was no one in sight, we had established a decent gap of over a minute in just twenty minutes.

The next lap I bogged down on a climb and Mike took the lead... I was struggling to stay with him and made a couple mistakes and had to run one of the slick, short and steep uphill sections. I didn't try to throw my bike in front of him to keep him from coming by and screw him up while he cleaned the climb like I saw so much of in WI where a screw up like that costs you 10 spots. I dug deep and clawed my way back to his wheel knowing that if he gapped me it would crush my confidence. Overall my legs were feeling good and I was doing well. The heat was getting to me but slowly I began to get used to it. I closed down the 5 second gap and as we came though the field at the start of the second lap, he told me to pass... I grabbed a water instead of my usual liquid calories and downed a Cheerpack. I have been experimenting with using them and since this was kind of a low priority race I figured it would be a good time to do some testing. I doused myself with some water and began to open up a gap on Mike all the time thinking that he was going to catch me on the climbs.

I was riding well and the legs were good. The Cheerpack had me humming a bit and I was pretty focused... Other then a little lower back pain from so much seated power climbing I was good. My legs hadn't locked up at all and aside from bogging down a little after the first lap it was all systems go. I started to hit some heavier traffic and the passing was tough in some spots, but I was able to keep on the gas and rode the lap clean. As I came though for my fourth lap I thought it was going to be the last... I grabbed another bottle of water and noticed that Mike wasn't to be seen across the big field so I just had to ride smooth and smart and didn't have to worry about turning the screws too much.

I was sure it was 4 laps or a 1:30 cutoff so I knew I only had 22 minutes left and splashed myself with some more water to stay cool. I downed another Cheerpack for the final countdown and since I hadn't been taking in any other calories and it rocked me like a freight train. My legs still felt great so I continued to push where I could and get around traffic as fast as possible. The course was tacky at this point and there were some really fun sections you could just shred on. I was shredding like it was my job. The only thing more fun than this would be to shred paper for 8 hours a day. Shredding is totally rad. As I came through the last corner before popping into the field there were about 6 racers hanging out... I didn't think twice.

I charged through the field and threw the damn hands up; hot, sweaty, muddy and all components of being totally pro, but throwing your hands up and having the official tell you your not done yet isn't...

Considering that in the marathon class on the same course and steamy hot conditions last year I finished 8 laps in 3:16, this should have been no sweat, but mentally I wasn't ready for it so it kinda sucked. I had no idea how close Mike was so after stopping to ask the officials if they were sure I had to do another lap, I didn't grab a bottle in fear of Mike popping out of the woods and deciding it was time to race...

The last lap went surprisingly well aside from not having any water for the last half of the 4th lap and none of the last... Even though it was only a half an hour it was damn hot. I asked a Red Wheel guy for some water and he told me he hardly had any left, even though I could see it was 3/4 full through his clear bottle and we only had 3 miles left. I have to say that was the only time in recent memory at a mountain bike race that I wasn't feeling "a good vibe." Not that it's his responsibility in ANY way, but Karma is a crop killer son. When I asked him to pass he jammed on his brakes on the climb and I rear ended him... In fairness, it was hot and towards the end of a race and mistakes happen.

I came through the finish line and aside from my friend Barbie screaming what a stud I was over the loudspeakers, which made me feel great, I kept the victory salute to a minimum. I was the only expert to get out for a fifth lap which was pretty cool and treated myself to a kickass green Shakespeare's 35th Anniversary t-shirt. I love green t-shirts.

St Louis came to the town and partied down taking podium spots all over the place. TK, Giovanni Fondolini, MJ, Andy Gibbs and Ralph Phremmer to name just a few. It was a pretty rad day in general and I love the Midwest Fat Tire series courses! I think I took the lead in the overall which made giving up a second place (at best) standing in our series more bearable. Seeing Marty Weavers totally tricked out Carbon Oiz was just a tease until EP called me Monday afternoon to tell me mine was sitting at his house... Off to build it up! Looks like Landahl will be the first time I get to ride it !?!?!