Tuesday, November 28, 2023

11/26 Bubba 9 @ Spanish Lake Gravel Crit, Masters, 2cd.


Was definitely looking forward to a similar muddy track like we had last year at Spanish Lake and wasn't fully prepared for the modified course that was laid out or exactly how much power Devo could lay down in a gravel crit. 

Like last year, I opted to go for my deeper wheels with tubes and tires, partly because I was expecting mud and partly because I didn't want to flat a tubie on the gravel. Should have considered the pressure a bit more as the back tire was super squirmy. 24/25 next time. 

Nice to see a decent size group for the second week in a row! Devin took off sprinting at the gun and we  had almost immediate separation on the rest of the field. Kukla was with us and I went around him to stay with Devin on the backside grinder but was already red-lined and on the nose trying to hang on and went into damage control mode. This was about 2 mins in I would guess. To be honest, I thought I was having a bad day and feeling like my legs were completely locked up/cold which were really just flooded with lactate. 

I saw Devin on the big climb and through the start finish field on the first lap and that was the last time I saw him. For the next 2 laps I saw Anthony coming though the start / finish line when I was making the 180 out of it and then I didn't see him again. 

Kukla and I were trading positions, him taking the lead once we hit the grass and up the climb and me catching him on the backside. It's a weird dynamic for me to not feel like we are really racing each other but I should change my mindset to make it more fun. He dropped me once we hit the grass on the last lap.

While I can't say I really enjoyed it, the takeaway is it was a break though workout and I set PR's for 20 min power as well as average and NP for a cross race. 

Final thoughts leading into this weekend are that I feel like I've had nearly perfect preparation this year, have managed to stay healthy and maintain racing weight without getting too skinny and am feeling more excitement about this weekend than anxiety. Hoping I can race to the best of my ability.

Monday, November 20, 2023

11/19 Bubba 8 @ Queeny No. 2, Masters, 1st.


I lack self confidence. I had just won three out of the four races on a variety of tracks and was expecting that just because Queeny suits Devin so well, I was going to get smoked. My plan was to squeeze in one more hard week of training after the rest week and setup for a 2 week taper. I killed my workout on Wednesday and was barely functioning on Thursday. I did a short but high intensity workout on Friday and then a two hour ride on Saturday with some efforts. I wasn't feeling too bad Saturday afternoon but after the course review I was certain that Devin was going to smoke show me on the pavement section and, for whatever reason, I was feeling really out of breath. I was expecting a repeat of our last race here, where he put a good minute plus into me and I was in the hurt locker from the gun. I failed to give myself any credit for the fact that he had already done 4 of the SP races and had been racing on the road all summer and it was my first race of the year.

Switching to the rollers after course review has dramatically changed my performance and I'm getting the routine dialed. I got a good warm up in and lined up with a small field of the usual suspects.

For whatever reason I wasn't feeling like going for the hole shot and decided to ride defensively. Sitting on about 4th wheel I could tell that Devin was ready to go launch mode so I made the effort to jump on his wheel. We rode together until, like the tick of a clock, he took off when we hit the paved section. I was suffering but clung on. Once we went through the start finish I came off the bike in the first turn and racked myself when I went over the barriers shortly after that. Damage control.  He had 8-10 seconds and I already was thinking I was about to get lit up.  I settled in and convinced myself he wasn't too far away and to be patient, instead of feeling like I needed to kill myself to bridge back up. 

Somehow on the 3rd lap I found myself back on his wheel and was reluctant to pass when he opened the door. I was riding smooth so I went through and almost immediately opened up a gap so I made an effort on the grassy hill back up to the pavement descent to see if I could get far enough ahead to hold him off once we hit the pavement straight again. In retrospect, that was the race. There was a long way to go but I dialed the course in and was riding really strong, able to make huge efforts on each hard section and recover just enough to hit it again. 

I finished with a good lead that was growing slightly each lap. Devin told me he blew up trying to bury me on the pavement and never recovered. I can finally say that my fitness is at a level I didn't think I could reach at this age and am hoping that I can avoid getting sick and stay sharp over the next two weeks without overdoing it, which is hard to convince yourself to do when you feel so good training hard. The razors edge is a fine one. Looking forward to seeing what I can do. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

11/11-12 Bubba 6 & 7 @ Faust , Masters, 2cd and 1st.

Faust Day 1.

I'm pretty surprised at how much more in tune with my fitness/training I feel like I am compared to back in the day. I can only attribute it to maturity and finally understanding that sometimes less is more. In the back of my head somehow I knew that the limited volume and super high intensity plan I was doing last season really doesn't work well for me but stuck to the plan, to my own fault, and was cooked by the end of the season. This year has been a lot more methodical and I'm staying super motivated, really having fun and feeling strong. 

I knew that this was going  to sting coming off a rest week where I really didn't cheat myself out of the rest, even though I had felt great the weekend before at Vlasis and was considering pushing on. The course was slow, power heavy, and had little to no flow. My goal was to go all out but was guessing that Devin was going to lay it down. It was hard. I made two mistakes on the first lap, one which sent me over the bars, and lost contact with Devin who was torching a 50 tooth (and had a NP of 360w). I can't say I ever really got close but was making a little time later in the race. My last lap was my fastest. I finished almost exactly a minute back but was sucking wind all race and my back was torched, definitely a sign of the rest week but even on a good day the result wouldn't have been much different on a course like that.

Faust Day 2

I was looking for a little bit of validation to confirm that Devin and I were riding at a higher level than I was last year, and was genuinely stoked to see Anthony show up. He beat me every race last year- the only race I won was at Faust when he wasn't there. He showed up for the second day and we went toe to toe the whole race but he outplayed me and  I cracked close to the finish. By all metrics and and perceived effort, that was the high water mark of my season last year and I just wasn't strong enough to beat him.

Warming up I was commenting to everyone that the course was faster with more flow and far less power heavy. Most people felt it was about the same it definitely felt that way to me. I jumped out front and never looked back. Day 1 was just the primer I needed after the rest week and everything was clicking. I wasn't really looking back but with the wide open course it was easy to see that I was opening up the race on each lap. My lap times were within a few seconds. The race was short, which was a little bit of a bummer as I was really focused and wanted to see how long I could push it. I'm not really sure how much of a gap I had on Anthony, but by the end it was pretty healthy. I was totally stoked. The difference between 2022 and this year was about 10 watts AP and 5 watts NP.

Excited to have one more big week of training before a few weeks of tapering to see if  I can time things right this year. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

11/5 Bubba 5 @ Vlasis, Masters, 1st.


I'm feeling good after this one. I really had to think about the last time I felt like this after a race and would have to go back to when I won the Midwest SS Championship race in 2010 when everything was just clicking, there was strong competition and I was feeling laser like focus. 

Vlasis is a great new venue with lots of features to use and they setup a really interesting and super challenging course. It felt really hard during the few laps of course inspection and I tried the sand pit once and thought it might be better to run it. On the line Devin said said he was riding it so I figured I'd go for it. 

A group of 5 or so SS riders with Kukla started 30 seconds in front of us. I think there were about 10 in our group and Doug Sweeney was back as well as an out of towner so I wasn't sure what to expect. I took the hole shot and we caught and passed all the SS riders not long after going through the sand.  I was surprised to see that I was opening up gaps pretty quickly. On the second lap Devin caught me coming through the start finish but I responded and stayed in the front. I'm not sure where he started to fall back but I had opened up a gap on him on the 3rd lap. Doug and Jon were a little behind him. 

I don't remember when I passed Kukla but think I was out front for a few laps. He yo-yoed me for the rest of the race and with 2 laps to go I had caught back up to him but couldn't make it stick. I finished pretty strong, probably 8 seconds behind Kukla and and with about 2 mins on Devin and Jon. I really wasn't expecting to perform like that after 3 weeks of hard riding. Makes me question the rest week but I'm going to stick with the plan.

Friday, November 3, 2023

10/28 Bubba 4 @ St. Vincent, Masters, 1st.


I've always been a big fan of racing in bad conditions, especially in CX. I don't consider myself to be a pure power rider and never have. Mountain biking was different because the races were 2 hours and my strength was definitely a combination of maintaining flow through technical stuff and endurance orientated power. CX is a lot different and my weakness is definitely responding to huge spikes in power and then recovering. Probably should do more group rides and VO2 training but I've always been a believer in building the endurance engine and old habits are hard to break.

Anyways, weather looked perfectly shitty all week leading up to the race and given that the area of St Vinnies we use is not well maintained, I figured the race would go on. I was stoked when the call was made on Saturday night. Cancelling CX races due to weather makes me fucking sick, though I fully understand why we have to.

The conditions weren't too bad during warm ups and the Bubba team did a great job of making an interesting track with a little single-track to boot. I knew Devin was going to crush the pavement climb and didn't think the track was technical or snotty enough to really slow him down.

I jumped out front pretty quickly and was having fun taking a lot of chances which involved a lot of drifting a clipping the same root for a few laps. I think I had a little gap after lap one and Devin had caught up to me on the straight after the start finish on lap 2, but I was able to keep a few seconds until we hit the hill and he passed and put 8 seconds into me for the next few laps. I was getting splits from Rico and was really surprised it wasn't growing. 

I caught and passed him coming through that same start finish straight and tried to gain enough time to hold him off on the hill. I did and was able to build on the lead. The course got worse and my lap times were super consistent and afterwards Devin said he lost confidence after some close calls, which slowed him down. I think Rico said I had about 1:10 on him at the end.

So much more fun to have some racing going on instead of just chasing.  

Friday, October 27, 2023

10/21 Bubba 3 @ Bella Fontaine, Masters, 2cd.


Good race. Warming up I couldn't help but think how much the course suited Devin, which turned out to be the case, but I was pleased with the the way I raced. 

I took the hole shot and Devin and I had almost instant separation. I hung with him for the first 2 laps and then couldn't keep up on the straight power sections and the gaps started to open up. I was able to push hard and had total focus. The lap cards ticked quickly. My Garmin never gets the first lap right but my last lap may have been the fastest. I had closed the gap towards the end and think I was closer than last week, tough to say. 

Lots or rain in the forecast for St Vincent. Gives me the tingles in the shorts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

10/15 Bubba 2 @ Creve Couer, Masters, 2cd.


What a difference a race in the legs makes. 

Course was still super challenging but far more interesting than Queeny with some single-track and slightly more technical, less pure power oriented track. 

I marked Vince right off the start and sat on his wheel getting for the first half of the lap. I figured we'd have a fast first lap and knew that Devin would definitely attack on the paved hill, I just expected it after the first lap and was caught on Vince's wheel when he bogged down on the climb a tad and heard Devin coming in hot. I was able to respond and off we went. Kukla had slowed up so he could link up with Devin and I think we grouped up sometime before the end of the first lap. The three of us had an almost immediate gap.

I hung on close to the end of the second lap and then little gaps began to grow and close until I cracked a bit. I knew we were going strong as the splits behind us were growing every lap. Unlike the week before the laps were ticking down and I was feeling like I could push more and had a little more explosiveness in my legs, which I was surprised by after the rest week. My lap times were super consistent and I was able to put in a few good laps and close slightly on Devin with 3 to go. He noticed it as well and opened it back up. I think I finished about 45 seconds back from him and  a good distance in front of 3rd. Good race.