Wednesday, June 24, 2009


May was the one of the most productive blocks of training I have ever had. The legs I had at Rhett's run were unreal, especially considering that I had taken a full week of rest and barely been riding. Things started to unfold a little bit and now the legs are not so hot and I'm taking some chances with my big workouts and kicking my own ass for botching two weeks of traing because my parents were in town one week and Phish the next.

The heat and effort on Sunday really took it's toll on me and I was feeling like shit out at Lost Valley today. I aborted my LT workout and was about to call it a day. Then I ran into Jen who had just ridden with EP and was telling me how happy he was at his win last weekend. I'm happy for him too but it motivated me to go a little deeper. Needless to say, I pushed my sorry ass up the hill a couple more times, and pushed through a little pain I usually don't feel while doing intervals. Like I said, I'm going to take some chances.

My goal for the D.IN.O AMBC race isn't to win, just to beat my time from last year. I know I'm faster, I'm just not sure if I can stop the downward spiral in time, get in a few quality workouts and get rested up in time. My legs haven't felt great since the Rhetts race due to too much drinking, not enough sleeping and botched workouts so now I have to overthink everything and teter on the edge of overdoing it and tuning up as much as I can in as little time as possible.

One more big workout on Saturday and then I'm really going to lay off the jets and hope I can show up nice and rested. Hope so.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Face Melting Week

Hot damn, what a week. The Phish show at the Fox was exactly what I thought it would be and the boys from VT didn't disappoint me one bit. Casey and I had a total blast and seeing Phish at a venue like the Fox was pretty much a dream come true. Nowadays you can download the live show within an hour after the concert which is great, but when you are talking about a band that plays a different set list every night, improvs their asses off and on top of that, hasn't played in 5 years there is going to be some sloppiness. I get really sick of hearing the critics, who are listening to Phish's greatest shows from their computers all day long, and then critiquing each and every note Trey flubs the morning after. For me, a Phish show is the SHOW not just the music and this was a great one. Musically, definitely not even close to the best I have seen, but the energy in that place was unreal and the boys were clearly having fun. While the show lacked a little continuity, there were some serious moments.

Casey and I had a little too much fun at the show and by Friday were still not feeling totally recovered from it and I was starting to get really stressed about traveling 6 hrs on Sat night to get down to the AMBC race in Little Rock. I felt 100% better when I called the hotel and cancelled the reservation and started to get excited about St Joe and the possibility that when in Pirtle County, there may be Team Armshavers present. I called Cam in KC and offered him a place to stay but he was still washed out after his teams stellar perform ace at Big Bear and the Pirtle boys were recovering from too much fun in the sun of Meheecoh so I figured it was just going to be another "local" race.

We got down to the race nice and early and just sat in the AC and listened to some music and relaxed a bit before the race. Secretly I was really hoping to pull off two wins in a row but really was concerned about how sucky I was feeling all week so my anxiety was way up. I was getting ready to go pre-ride when I saw the White Toothed Wonder boy roll up in the silver Element and turned to Case to tell her how fast this race just got.

I have two goals I'm working on right now. One is to place top five in five AMBC races and upgrade to PRO and the other is to beat Eric Pirtle. I was a little pissed at myself for not going to Arkansas because I wasn't pursuing one of my goals so needless to say I was jazzed to have a shot at another one as I set out to pre-ride.

I rode in for 4 miles and realized one thing was clearly evident; this course was designed for a kid who grew up riding hair scrambles in Missouri and then learned to mountain bike on those same trails. I was trying not to let it get too me too much when I ran into EP riding a full sus bike and telling me how awesome the course was.

EP slipped a pedal and I robbed him of the HOLESHOT! I was feeling fluid and fast and my Adam Craig-esque straight arm technique was powering me through the rough stuff just fine. I knew EP was going to come around me but I wanted to hold him off as long as possible. Me, EP and Schottler quickly opened up a gap on the rest of the group when I started to bog down and EP jumped me. Surprisingly, I was able to stay within 10 seconds of him for quite some time until we hit a couple of the bigger downhills and he was out of sight. I felt cooked and was thinking that there was no way I was going to make it through two hours of this while Schottler sat on my wheel. When we crested the big climb in the middle of the course and hit the flow section I started to feel more in my element again and started to turn the screws a little and hoped to gap Jon. I punched it up a climb and then was drilling it through one of the fast sections when I came up on a marathon rider and lost the gap I had gained. Towards the end of lap one I had more of a gap on him and quickly opened it up when we hit the pavement and later learned that he had flatted.

I grabbed two bottles and set out on lap two 1:06 behind EP and was really motivated to chase. I knew that I was on the defensive and would have to take some chances which was a bad idea as the heat was really getting to me. Not too far into the lap I hit something that wasn't moving, flipped over the bars, Charley horsed my leg and bent my bar end down so much I couldn't use it which really sucked as there was quite a bit of power climbing. I recovered from that slowly and was doing ok until one of the big g-outs which had two different lines. I chose the wrong one and ended up in the woods next to my bike with my chain stuck between the crank chain pin and crank arm. Again, I recovered and started to remind myself that the heat could cause cramps, the brutal course could cause flats and a two hour race is a long one.

Going into lap 3 I was told the gap had opened to three minutes and I was feeling beat up and beat. I pushed on but was really struggling to stay on the trail. I thought I was going backwards, but looking at my lap times am surprised to see that my 2cd and 3rd laps were pretty close. I crashed a couple more times, just dumb stuff like sliding out around turns, and was a little worried that I had stopped sweating but didn't feel too bad and knew that once I crested the big climb I just had to ride it in. I came up on a rider laying on the ground at mile 7.5 and stopped to ask if he needed help and he told me to send someone back for him so I pushed on.

Just under 6.5 minutes behind EP the dream crusher. One weekend two goals crushed. My boy Zach called me up to talk about the race later in the day though and after talking to him and Casey about it I started feeling a little better given some of the circumstances and am still pleased with my result. That was not the place for me to plan on going toe to toe with the guy that taught me to race and apparently Bob Marley was right, "All them drugs gonna make you slow." Ok, so not really, but all them beers and second hand ganj don't help much.

A couple days of recovery and then I plan on squeezing in a couple solid workouts before backing it off and going into what I hope to be my best fitness of the season in Indiana, followed by the USAC MO State Champs and maybe even double up and go race Sac River the next day for some points which shouldn't be too big a deal if I'm rested up from a short hour race week. That's been the plan, hopefully I got the heat when I need to bring it!

Nice job EP, you made us all look silly.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hell Yess!

Maybe the hardest tickets to get for a Phish show, ever. I bought the tickets to the best Phish show has ever played (Big Cypress NYE show 12/30 - 12/31 1999) for face value the day before we drove from Boston to Florida. Listening to them play right now is really great, not the best, or even close to it, but they seem to really be enjoying it and are playing well. I am guessing they are going to bring some serious heat to the Fox next Tuesday. Phish has been such a part of my life, from my first show in 1995 to the "last show ever" at Coventry VT and I have shared so many of the memories with very good friends that I am really excited to share it with Casey next Tuesday. She has no idea what kind of a flailing hippie I am as the last few spontaneous dance parties (The James Gang NYE dance party and just the two of us on Valentines day) have been to pop music, not face melting jam sessions from the boys from VT. One week to go!

Now on to things that suck. On the first lap on Sunday something stung me in the ankle, not a bee sting, some type of ground wasp or something like that. It frickin' hurts like a mo'fo and has some sort of "core" to it where my flesh appears to have rotted. Not cool.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Don't Think Twice, It's Alright

Wow. I can't remember feeling so good about so many things all at once. Yesterday was the icing on the cake. I had so many excuses lined up going into the race I was destined for failure; I hadn't raced enough, Casey and I had partied way to much the week before, I hadn't been sleeping well, my buddy Eddie came in town from CO on Sat and we were up late drinking beer the night before the race, you name it, I had an excuse. What I was ignoring was that every time I have got on my bike in the last six weeks it's been for a reason and the days I wasn't shredding repeats up the back of Lone Wolf or doing 20 min LT intervals over on the flats I was resting and trying to recover as best as possible.

You know it's going to be a fast race lining up next to Cam, Chris and Schottler (who I will now refer to as the mayor of Rhetts after watching him floss the first section with Jedi skills) and being chased by some seriously fast old dudes like Matthews, Froese, TK and even Mr. CX, Josh Johnson. I was telling Casey the whole ride there that I was a little worried about disappointing myself and was just hoping to round out the top five.

The only problem I have been having since switching to Eggbeater 2Ti's compared to the heavyweight Times ATACs has been clipping in from a start. I slipped a bit when they said go and lost a step but still managed to get in behind Schottler who took the hole shot. I almost went around him on the grassy turn but didn't want to start things off by hitting the deck and settled in on his wheel which proved to be a good move for two reasons; I let him show me some sick lines and it turned out that as a front runner he burnt himself out a little too fast. Cam wasn't far behind me at the top of the first climb and we had a decent gap on everyone else.

By the second climb off of the gravel Schottler, Cam and I were all together and Schottler started to bog down so Cam jumped him and gapped me a little before I had room to pass. I was crushing the climbs while seated in the 42 and thought it was only going to be a matter of time before the legs said no and Cam was out of sight, but somehow I worked my way back up to his wheel and was noticing he was standing up on the climbs looking for power and I was able to sit on his wheel as we went through the start finish and jump him for the start of lap 2.

Then things started to tick. I was really feeling good on the climbs and riding really efficiently on everything else. The S-Works hardtail was cutting through the turns and accelerating out of them like a F1 car. Things were good. Occasionally I would see a glimpse of Cam and Chris coming up behind me but figured that by the second lap I had 30 seconds or more and wasn't slowing down. I clearedmy first two laps in somewhere around 43 minutes and on the longer course in wet conditions, knew I was going good. I grabbed another bottle, downed a gel and continued to crush it.

My third lap felt like it was my fastest but it's tough to say. I don't know when I have ever been able to push such a big gear up the climbs and while seated. I started to hit some traffic on the 3rd lap which really sucked. I was trying to be polite by saying "race leader coming through, I'd appreciate it if you would let me pass" but was finding that many of the riders, who were way out of contention in their classes, would just keep going until they made a mistake forcing me off my bike to get around them. It would be great if promoters would remind lap riders to yield to race leaders.

My fourth lap was more of the same. My legs were still feeling really fresh on the climbs and I was riding well. At one point I hit a tree with my bar end so hard it twisted my bars a little and when I went to get in the shower last night found a big red mark on my shoulder while I was flexing in the mirror, but aside from that I rode a pretty much flawless race. I started to look at my watch and realize it was coming down to the wire and one side of me wanted to squeeze 5 laps out again, the other was praying I could throw my hand up and have a beer. No such luck. I rolled through at 1:28:59 and they told me to keep racing. I hate this format and not having any idea how far behind Cam and Chris were, found myself looking over my shoulder a lot. On most courses this format basically lends itself to an hour and a half of racing and the rest is uncertainty. I'm not a fan at all.

My last lap I found that I had to shift down to the 29 on the 2cd climb and the legs were getting a little heavy but I still had some kick. It really sucks to have no idea if you are being chased or just out there on a parade lap, but I tried to stay focused on finishing strong as most every other Cat I race I will do will be 1:45 plus.

I came across the line and threw my arms up and damn it felt good! Being the only racer to squeeze out 5 laps two years in a row is very satisfying to me. Always a solid time hanging out with so many friends after the race and Seagal had the PBRs flowing graciously as per the usual. So good.

My stomach was a little jacked up due my low tolerance of race dayfoods and Maybs was with us so Casey and I decided to head straight home and feast on some ribs Eddie had got us from his hometown, 17th Street BBQ in O'Fallon IL that were sick! We sat outside and ate and started putting away some serious cocktails which was the perfect way to end a perfect day. By 10pm we we're good and crunk again and bumping some Marvin Gaye. What a beautiful night.

Next weekend my folks are coming to visit and then next Tues is it... Phish at the FOX. They have been playing with some face melting fire and should be good and tuned up to rip it at the sickest venue they have played at in over 15 years. All aboard, fasten your hemp belts, the trains leaving for space monkey mountain.

"Crazy like a rocket when you're coming through my radio"

Friday, June 5, 2009


I'm all fired up to race. The "rain or shine" event listing for this weekend is all good. By this time last year I had raced 9 times, won a couple races and was getting ready to feel what it was like to be really fast, for me. This season has been a little bit different. My priorities have shifted a little this year and while I am really motivated, I'm not traveling a whole lot as I am trying to race less and train more. We'll see how that goes when I'm redlined in the first minute on Sunday.

I've been taking a "real" rest week and have only been riding about an hour or so a day real easy. Had I not spent two nights this week getting all crunk and shit with Casey, I would probably be feeling all frisky but after a Cardinals game last night and some malt liquor Casey got us, I'm a little hung over. The legs are good though and for the first time in awhile I noticed they weren't heavy when I walk up stairs. I'm going to drill it for 10 mins or so tomorrow to open things up a little bit and hopefully won't be too flat on Sunday.

Rhett's has always been good to me. I won my first State Championship (sport) there in 2003, won a marathon race there in 2007 and won the expert race there last year. I guess I have won every time I have raced there but think that might come to an end this weekend as there should be a healthy lineup of fast dudes who have some serious racing miles in their legs toeing the line.

I've been seeing Aaron Elwells name popping up with some pretty damn respectable results this season with the big boys and found that he has a blog. You should check it out. This dude is fast and if him and Cam show up this weekend it's going to be super fast for sure.

Two weekends after Rhetts I think I am going to skip St Joe and head down to Arkansas for the AMBC race and hope I'm ready for the D.IN.O AMBC race on July 4th weekend. I just don't want to be slower than last year.

Time for some action.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Need for Speed

About 6 weeks ago I realized that things weren't coming together the way I wanted them to be and I wasn't recovering well so I set myself up with a 10 week training plan leading up to some big races in July. Last season I had "The Master Plan" which took me all the way from Dec up until Nationals and learned quite a bit more about how to make myself faster and the timing of my peak form.

This winter/ early spring I was finding that the rides weren't easy or hard enough, the rest wasn't at the appropriate times and I kept convincing myself that my base was big enough from previous years so that I could cheat a little to get fast sooner. I started to find that my legs felt like bricks all the time and I couldn't predict when I would feel fast or good.

I looked forward to May as there was no racing on the horizon and I could just put it down and train balls kitty, which I did. After four weeks of two hard workouts a week and one breakthrough workout a week I started to feel some snap when doing my intervals and my legs were recovering from the efforts much better. I watched the average speeds of my endurance rides go up dramatically and I was highly motivated for the next workout. Aside from coming up a little short on hrs the week of memorial day due to the atrocious conditions, I didn't miss any workouts and am sitting here feeling pretty good about taking a rest week and going into some racing next weekend.

The only variable I'm concerned about is the lack of spring racing and hope that after a couple races in June I am ready to go in July. Since I didn't race or need to recover from racing I was able to train more consistently and much harder, but it's not the same as racing and I'm the couple race like efforts I was putting in on the mtb are close enough to the sick intensity of racing. We can only see at this point.

As much as I wanted to fuel my ego and didn't like that thought of downgrading from semi-pro to Cat 1, I opted to do so to give myself my next goal; upgrading to PRO by gaining the points rather than taking the free pass USA Cycling offered me. It's not really a big deal either way, but as my friend Dan Grausam explained it to me " How many people can say they lined up next to the best in the country, even if they do get smoked?" So, my goal for next season is to gain the points needed for my upgrade and line up next to the best, maybe at Nationals. If not, I'll might be toeing the line at Nationals next year looking for the Cat 1 jersey.

"I hope you brought your wood screws"