Friday, October 22, 2010

Looking back.....

Network has been down this morning. Spent some time looking back at my old training logs (can only clean my desk for so long). Was funny to look back and think about how I came to meet some of the guys who have stuck together even tho we all raced against each other for different teams.

I remember seeing Brad Lako's name in the race results back in 2006. We were always within 2 places of each other and I would gauge my day based on how he did even tho I couldn't pick him out of a crowd. Then early 2007 I met him face to face on the trail, second race of the year, The Fort Custer Stampede. I was in 1st and didn't know it because of how the group started. I was nearing the end of my second loop and went down in a corner. As I picked my bike up a guy zoomed past me wearing mostly purple. I didn't think anything of it and took my time getting back on my bike. I eventually caught up with the guy in purple. He was close in sight but the race was almost over and I didn't bother to sprint to the finish. Probably wouldn't have caught him anyway, he beat me by 20 seconds. Plus I hadn't developed that killer instinct yet. We later reffered to it as smelling blood. Only after seeing the results did I realize that the guy who passed me when I went down was the guy who won my class which happened to be none other than Brad Lako. I learned a big lesson in racing that day.....and I knew that Brad had trained in the off season as well and like me had become a podium threat.

That same year, 2007, I was determined to medal at every race. The next race for me was one of my main focuses, The Stony Marathon. I knew I would have a hard time beating Nate Fletcher but I wanted second place and I wanted to beat Brad so bad even tho I didn't even know him. I had trained hard and the lesson I learned earlier at Fort Custer would help keep my focused. I took inventory at the starting line and like always I started a bit slower that the lead group. As I raced I picked off one rider after the other and by the last lap I was confident of my second place. Low and behold tho, the results showed differently. Yes Nate took first, but I took third. What?! Who did I not remember from the starting line? So I look again at the results.....who the hell is this Jason Melecosky guy and where did he come from? I don't remember seeing his name anywhere else on results sheets. And he just kicked my ass by over 3 minutes..

After posting a second and third I was determined to keep my top 3 status at my next race, Ruby. Again it would be difficult to beat Nate but if I had any chance it would be Ruby because that course fit my riding style very well. On the first lap I was in a 3 man pack trailing the back tire of a Sandbag rider who was following another Sandbag rider. Knowing this was ther home course I figured I should stay on their 6 for a lap and learn something. Plus they were pacing really well and I knew I was sitting in 4th. No Brad or Jason to worry about today so Nate was on my mind the entire race. I eventually passed them and went on to take 2nd, 2 minutes behind Nate, but I took note of the two Sandbag guys because one of them was collecting a lot of points in the overall. Seems this John Osgood charater did two races I skipped and he finished well.

Later that season I raced Maybury and was nervous at the start because two guys who beat me earlier in the year were there...Lako and Melecosky. We had gotten to know each other so jokes were flying at the start but I was a huge ball of nerves. I needed to win the hole shot. But that points chaser Osgood was no where to be found. So in the minutes leading up to the race I thought to myself, I came here to win today but I have to beat two VERY fast guys and make sure I save enough legs and lungs to go up against Osgood tomorrow at Pontiac because I have to beat him in order to place 2nd in the overall.,,,and I know he'll be there. Well the race started and I was able to edge out David Moore to win the hole shot and have a clear path up the climb and into the woods. My whole plan was to go balls out the first lap because if I got out of sight from Jason and Brad that maybe, just maybe they'd lose interest in mounting an attack. When it started to rain I was happier than hell because I knew the pace of the race would slow down due to trail conditions. Took the win, went home to clean my bike and get ready for day 2.

At Pontiac I wasn't surprised to see John Osgood at the line. David Moore was the only guy there from the race the previous day but it was a small crowd so my chance for a back to back win was good. Looking around, I just had to beat Osgood and I was set. Well at the gun this dude in all black motors ahead of the pack and took off like a gazzelle. No worries, I'll catch him when he blows up. One lap down, never saw the guy but I was still ahead of John. Then poof...just like that I drop my chain. WTF, my jump stop was loose and I was not carrying a tool. Put it back on and off I went. A few miles later, poof again. DAMN IT! I was more than half way thru my second loop. I look up and there is Osgood on my 6 attacking. I scramble to untangle my chain that got wedged. I get it back on and now I am in full attack mode. Pressing a hard pace because we have 3 miles left and John was pushing hard to stay in front of me. We were flying thru sections at unsafe speeds with neither one letting down. I was just trying to keep John in sight figuring I would be able to out climb him at the last big set of hills. I would have to, there was no other way to beat him. Running a 1x9 I couldn't out sprint him down the stretch because he has a big ring. Then it happened. Right before the climb my chain jumped again.......GAME OVER. I still managed 3rd but lost my 2nd overall in the series to that John Osgood 12 seconds.

Shortly after that John and I got to know each other well and the emails between John, Jason, Brad and I flew all winter long. We all shared training secrets that would help us in the years following...still racing against each other.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Did I really just ride my bike...OUTSIDE?

So I finally took the Kona Hei Hei 2-9 Deluxe out yesterday. Went to the Tree Farm to avoid the hunting grounds of ILRA like originally planned. I wanted to do some open trail testing before trying to squeeze that bike thru The Farm but what better way to learn than to throw yourself into the fire. I used to be able to do 3 continuous laps at that place at 48 minutes a piece....when I was in tip top shape. Those numbers are what gaged my fitness level for my laps.

First lap I spent learning how to steer the tall tires and wider handlebars. Plus I hadn't been on that trail in over a year so I took it easy since there are a handful of blind turns at that place. I did lose my chain once over the large log pile. I had to stop and put it back on. A little later it came off again but I was able to pedal that one back on with the crankarm. Trail was in great shape and I managed a cautious 53 minute lap. Not bad all things considered.

Second lap I pushed it a little harder and really started to work the bike thru the turns to see what it could really do. I started to really enjoy the big wheels because a lot of those little roots and bumps seemed to disappear. Even the log piles were easily soaked up and I didn't loose momentum going over them. On two corners I went into a power slide on the front wheel but I don't blame the tires for that. It was more my error and misjudgement with the new bike. I was able to ride it out so kudos to the Racing Ralphs for hanging on for me. I could feel the chain bouncing around a lot, off my ankle half the time, so when the trail got bouncy I just shifted into a larger gear to open the derailuer up and tighten the chain. It was a little more work to ride those sections in a larger gear but it kept the chain on. Got back to the trail head and the clock said 51:20.....hmmmm felt like I was going faster than that.

I rolled thru the parking lot to go back to my car to call it a day but I still had a full bottle so I said f##k it, turned around and reset the clock for another lap. I haven't ridden over 2 hours since May so I was not sure how this third lap would go, especially after the mid point of the trail. But I was immediately in go mode and was determined to break this lap under 50. All of a sudden the bike and I were working together really well. Just like my last full suspension Kona it seemed the faster you went the better the bike responded to your movements. I started pinning turns and my shift timing was more precise. Unlike the last two laps, I seemed to be in the right gear at the right time and I was flowing with the trail again. At mile marker 6 my legs started to feel the effort I was asking out of them. I was good on calorie and liquid intake but like I said, my legs have not been worked this long for some time now and they weren't happy anymore. Instinctively my mind switched from go mode to attack mode, as if I was in a race. The trail was not busy at all so I had open trail to burn thru. The longer I went on the more the pain in the legs increased. "No Pain" I kept repeating to myself every time I had to make a short climb. Those hurt the most. "No Pain" I said again as I hit the stretch that we call the 5 minute mark because that's where we know it's almost exactly 5 minutes to the end of the trail. I was cutting it close. I neglected to take my last swig of fluid because I was that tight on time. Only 5 minutes to go....I should be okay. Kept my focus and tore thru the rest of the trail. Many times my handlebars coming millimeters from clipping a tree (still geting used to wider handlebars for the 29er). One wrong move, one bad shift, one overshot corner and I wouldn't make it. Rolled to the end of the trail where the gravel meets the pavement of the parking lot. Looked down and my computer read 49:54. That's more like it!

I was pleased that I was able to get that much out of my legs on such short notice. As far as my overall conditioning, I am good right now at places like The Farm that don't require much climbing. But for not riding a single mile in June or July and missing half of August I was very happy with that outing. Hopefully I will be able to build on this and continue to make progress in my gains.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Short Term Memory

I feel like I have finally settled into a routine for getting my weekly miles in. It's the middle of June and I feel I have finally made some progress in my power gains. Still a ways out of where I wanted to be right now but I am done beating the dead horse about that topic.

The road miles have been racking up on the training log. It seems to be the only way I can squeeze in my rides. My race bike has sat in the basement hanging from the ceiling since I brought it home from the 12 Hours of Stony. I keep saying I am going to do some trail rides duing the week before work but it is so much easier to just get the Felt down and hit the pavement.

I promised myself that I would not force the miles this year and I have done a good job of sticking to that. The 'balance' in 2010 is much different than it was in 2008. I like the direction the team is going with the endurace racing and at this point I have no time table of when or if I will return to the XC scene. It seems that everytime I put a date down on paper of when I want to get back to hardcore racing, something comes up and I have to take a month off the bikes.

This past weekend tho, Ashton and I got out for a few hours to go to the Tree Farm and help out with the annual Freeride clinic. It's a fun event where we introduce obstacles to a group of newbies. We try and teach proper riding technique and encourage them to try some new stuff to increase their confidence on the trail. To some people it could look simple and easy but to others it can be down right scary. Here's a link to some pix that were taken at the event:

June is a busy month so no races planned. Come July tho there will be more action so check back for updates.

Keep the grips and tires's climbing time!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Another 12 Hours at Stony

August of '09...that's 8.....May is 5, day 15......carry the 1 and........yep, been exactly nine and a half months since I have been on a trail. Seems like just yesterday Mike, Heather, Gerry, Brian, Jeff and I were standing around having a beer after 12 Hours of Stony in 2009. Now here we are in May of 2010 and Mike, Brian and I just raced the 12 Hours of Stony last weekend. Where did the time go? I tell you what, I didn't spend much of that time on a bike and it showed.

The day called for picture perfect weather. You know, like the post cards you see from states other than Michigan. With all the rain we have been having it was a miracle the trail was in such good shape. A couple spots of standing water on the back side two track but all of the single track was in great shape. The race course had a new layout from the previous year. The biggest changes were that they found every hill in the park and made us go up every single one of them. The course was around 11.3 miles long with an estimated 1080 feet of total climbing. I thought the course was great even tho it was a little to much climbing for my out of shape legs for this early in the season. But that's my fault.

So onto the race. Due to complications, baseball tournaments and just lack of team members nowadays, we ended up with only 3 riders. Couldn't do 2 man teams, none of us were in good enough shape for a 6 hour solo let alone 12 hour so we asked if we could enter the 4 Man category with only 3 people. Brent, the promoter, had no issue with it as long as well paid the full fee of course. We put Gerry on the roster just in case he was able to show up for a couple laps. Mike and I got there early to set everything up. Brian got there later because he lives further away and is older now so he moves slower in the morning. Actually Brian made it right at the start to see Mike go off with the crowd. When Mike came in it was my turn and then Brian took lap #3. We followed that routine for 9 laps. While Brian was out on lap 9 Mike told me that Brian said he would be done after his lap. That meant Mike and I had to decide who would do the 12th lap since there was a good chance we'd make the time cut. After a few minutes of discussion I was happy to hear that Mike had the legs for the extra lap. So Mike covered lap 10 and we made the tag for me to start lap 11 at 10 hours and 20 mins into the race. That gave me 70 minutes to cover the course and I was averaging every lap just under an hour. I put the hammer down and managed to make it back in just under an hour again. Mike was there waiting and went off into the woods for lap #12. His last lap was much slower than his previous 4 but Brian and I didn't complain because we didn't have the gas to even go out there.

All day we weren't really racing other teams. We just wanted to see if we could make 12 laps in 12 hours. Turns out we were the only 4 person team to make the time cut to start lap 12 so we won our class but also beat all the other 12 hour 4 Man categories as well. Not bad considering we raced a man short. So that's about it. There really was no drama during the whole 12 hours we were out there. Mostly joking around with each other and other teams. Endurance racing in this format is a fun way to spend a day riding and hanging out with other riders and friends. Of course they are more fun when you are in better shape and you win but we managed one of the two so that's a good start to the season.

Rider evaluation:

Brian "The Wrench" McCabe - Not sure the last time he was on a bike. He was out a couple times early this season but his trainer didn't see much use this off season. But he managed himself well and knew his limits. This enabled him to give us 3 solid consistent laps. I think having his girlfriend, Becky, there helped him go a little faster than normal tho. In the end he was happy with his performance and so were we but his retro jersey threw us for a loop but. Luckily no one got any pictures....oh wait some one did:

Aryn "Pivotless" Pongratz - The first lap was learning how to ride a bike all over again but as the laps went on I became more efficient. A new bike and new tires added some drama to my laps but I only had to stop once for about 10 seconds to adjust my seat post. All other adjustments I made between laps. My biggest weakness was climbing the hills and bringing the wrong gear ratio with me. My severe lack of training this off season really showed toward the end of the day. 4 laps total for me, no more, no less. Not sure I was ready for the 36t up front (still sporting the 1x9 setup) with all that climbing but instead of switching rings down to a 34t in-between laps I stuck it out and never walked a hill. However, that doesn't mean I was enjoying the hills:.

Mike "5 Laps" Keysaer - What's a race for Mike without going down or over the bars at least once. He actually faired really well and only went down once, washing out in a high speed corner on the two track gravel. All crashing aside Mike rode with more efficiency and speed than Brain and I on Saturday and carried the team on his shoulders. He was consistently turning faster laps than me and in the end he was the one who went out for the extra lap to make sure the team brought home the win. All his training has shown through as this being the first time Mike stood atop the team hierarchy and I am sure it won't be the last.

Great job Mike! Way to step up to the plate for the team and do a 5th lap. Wish some one had taken a picture of you.

(I wanted to post our team picture here but I have to get it from Becky first. I will post it soon. So we'll use this for now)

Next stop is the Tree Farm Relay on July 24th and then 8 Hour of Bloomer on July 31st. Hopefully I will be able to use this gap between races to do some more riding so I am better prepared come July. Gotta spend some time in the basement looking for my legs.

If anyone does any road, tri, foot racing send me a summary of the events of your day so I can copy and paste in onto here. Would really like to make this site more active like it used to be.
May the sky be blue and the ground be's time to ride!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is it hot or is it just me?

Boy, you would think with all this nice weather we've been having that I would have gotten outside for a few fresh air miles. Nope. Still in the basement riding when I get the chance. I am really hoping that once the family and I get back from Florida that I will be able to get some rhythm going. Really, I need it. Only have about a month and a half until the first 12 Hour race of the Endurance Series. Mike, my relay partner, will kick my but if I show up with square wheels.

Good news is that I have a bike together for the most part. I just have to order a new jump stop because my current one does not fit the seat tube of this frame. I don't have any picks yet but here's the specs:

Frame - 2008 Salsa Moto Rapido (full scandium and carbon mixed hardtail ((Thanks Brad!!!))
Fork - Fox F100 RLC (in black!)
Headset - Chris King
Stem - Ritchey WCS (stupid light)
Handlebar - Raceface Next Carbon flat (stupider light)
Brakes - Hayes 9 Carbon (might upgrade these tho)
Frt Derailuer - n/a (I run a 1x9)
Rr Derailuer - Shimano XTR M952 short cage
Shifter - Shimano XTR 970
Cranks - Truvativ Stylo 1.1 with a 36t Blackspire Pro
Cassette - Sram PG 990
Chain - Sram PC 991
Post - Truvativ Stylo w/ new Thompson like adjustment clamp
Saddle - WTB (this may change as well)
Wheelset - 2010 Stans Crest with 2010 ZTR hubs
Tires - Schwalbe Racing Ralphs (2.25 in frt, 2.1 in rear)
Grips - Oury
Pedals - Crankbrother Eggbeaters

Have not weighed it yet but it's possibly the lightest bike I have built yet for racing. Like I stated above the only thing I may change is upgrading the brakes. I just really like the lever shape of my Hayes 9 Carbons so I am having a hard time deciding. I plan to do the first race of the series with the Hayes 9 Carbons and WTB saddle and then decide to keep them or replace them.

So, it's almost time to get to the starting line. Actually there was a race this past weekend but it was more of a gravel/dirt road thing but many people do it to see how their winter training is going before the season really starts. It's a good race to se where you stand against your rivals.

Keep your chin up and your tires rolling . . . it's almost here!


(Brad - thanks for the great deal on such a solid frame)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rolling into the next decade

Gosh, not even sure if anyone even reads this anymore but me. Well this morning I actually completed my first 2 hour ride on the trainer since my last race back in August of 2009. My numbers weren't anything to brag about by at least I still had something in the legs to be able to go the distance.

This race season will be the most crazy one yet. For starters Jeff has discovered trail running and is doing a lot more of that than riding. He says he plans to only enter a couple 100 mile mtb races this year. XC racing is over for him. He's basically burnt out with it and beleive me I can relate.

I think Heather is planning to do more endurance racing as well and skip the XC stuff. I have said this same thing myself since the end of 2008. Always said that when I come back it'll be in the Endurance Series. I am sure Brian and Mike will follow suit. The Captain has also expressed intrest in relaying thru the endurance series so it looks like the team is heading in a new direction and looking to take on some new things. Also, I am sure once Dawn gets wind of this she'll want in on the chaos as well.

So here's to looking at 2010. There is training to be done and bikes that need to be built.