Monday, September 27, 2010

The Squeezer

Man what a day of racing. Yesterday was my first crack at the elite field in the Liberty Bicycles squeezer. I had a goal to make the top 5, but nearly every elite racer in Ontario decided to come out, so I would have been happy with anything in the top 10. Lining up against Ontario's finest in my home town was a very cool feeling.

I got my first ever call up; for being the fastest local, and started beside Etzie who is the fastest young local.

Morka pulled everyone along down Ontario St, and over the St. Paul bridge, and I sat near 5th. I got boxed a little on the bridge, but moved up to second wheel before the left turn. Hughes lead the first part of the gravel path, with myself on his wheel, then I lead up the small hill, putting in a good dig. I was off the front now with Mark Batty on my wheel. I pulled for a bit then slowed for him to pull through, but he didn't till we where almost caught. Glassford took over the front and I grabbed his wheel, holding second spot almost all the way to Decew road. I was feeling fantastic, a little uncomfortable on the climbs, but holding his wheel through the single track felt effortless. Going through the last bit of Marv's new trail, I clipped a small tree with my pinkie, and it steered me off the trail a bit. I came to a stop, and let the rest of the train go by to avoid slowing them down. Zandstra, Hughes, Batty and Wagler went by, and I slowly got up to speed with them still in sight. I caught back up, but was now red lined, hanging onto Zacks wheel for dear life. They slipped away a little before the road climb, and I hammered up that hill like a mad man knowing how important it would be to have a group to work with on top. I could not catch them. I felt like I was dying at the top, and took forever to get moving on the flats. I was gasping for air and my whole body felt like jello. Still though, no-one was in sight behind me. Before the first turn, I saw someone coming, it was Watson. I tried to recover a bit before he caught me, so I could grab his wheel and try to work with him. No luck. He came by at Mach 2 and I was closer to being blown over by his wind disturbance rather than tucking into it. So their I was, all by myself, truckin along, trying to hold off the strong men chasing.

I was alone all the way till I came out to Decew again for the long climb. Anton caught me there and helped me get up the hill quickly. I led through the singletrack, then he pulled me down Wiley Rd. He also pulled me along the reservoir trail, and I owe him a huge thanks for that. I was still trying to recover from earlier and was lacking power big time. Through the new bypass trail I washed out on some sticks, and Anton got a gap on me. I never went down, but my chain fell off, so it took a few seconds to get rolling again. I caught him at the end of Suzanne trail, and Morka caught me at the exact time. We each did some work, but the pace was not insane in the last km. Anton pulled to the hill, and Morka started to sprint there. I felt bad for Anton because he came out of his pedal going up the hill, taking him out of the sprint that he would have won, and deserved to much more than I did; but thats racing. I hung onto Morka's wheel and tried to come around him in the last few meters, but was only able to tie him. I think our photo is still under review, so I may be bumped up to 7th.

It was an exciting finish, and and we got the crowd really fired up. I was actually hoping to be in a sprint, because I had some friends watching, so it worked out perfect.

Can't wait for next year. A big thanks goes to Kurt @ Liberty, the volunteers and Marv/SHCC for the trail work. I'm stoked to have some new singletrack!!

Thats a wrap

Monday, September 20, 2010

Paul's Dirty Enduro

Paul's 100km enduro has came and gone, and I won! I had too after that last post, or I would have looked like a fool.

The race started while the sun was still rising at 8am. Justin and I got there with just enough time to get ready for the start. I think we pulled in at 7:35. I dropped some bottles to go out to the feed zones, something I forgot to do last year that cost some time.

We started faster than last year, with a group of about 5 pulling away. Matt from Tall Tree was ahead solo, but we didn't worry about him and just kept it steady. He was caught about 10km in. Our group shrunk to myself, Benno, Matt and Zach (singlespeed) by feed one. Shortly after that Benno got away by powering up a tough climb, that the rest of us jogged. I upped my pace to catch him, leaving the others behind. When I caught him about 5km later, he slowed and our group came back together.

After feed 2 (40km) I picked it up a bit on the doubletrack to see who I could shed. Benno and Matt hung on, which I was fine with because 60km alone would be boring. The three of us stayed together until Matt crashed on a sketchy downhill, and could not catch us.

Benno and myself stuck together all the way to the 80km mark. I was not sensing any weakness in him, and was starting to think it could be a sprint finish, or an epic battle up the never ending climb. After the 20 to go feed, he started to slow down, and just when I was thinking about passing, he said he was done. Yeah there was a stick in his brake caliper creating added drag, but that was no excuse.

After I left him behind I upped my pace to build a gap. I was using my big ring for everything and getting out of the saddle a lot to make larger watts. I was feeling good, and took some gels to Keep that feeling. When I thought there was about 5km to go, I arrived at another feed, and they said 20ish to go. I was thinking no way, they are wrong. I had to be closer than that! Turns out that there was just over 10km left, but lots of climbing in there. We still had the overgrown thorny trail to climb and descend. Kinda cool until a thorny bush grabs your bicep and try to tear it off. From there on is a blur. I would have gone faster in the final km's had I known I was so close to the course record. 16 seconds!!! An old goal of mine was to set a new record, but I scratched it when I hear that the best time was set when there was far less singletrack. Now I know it is possible.

I am the new king of this race, and will keep going back to defend my crown. The crown was very creatively made from spokes, spring and presta valve nuts. Very cool. I also got a sweet new Catlike helmet, which will be perfect for hat summer rides. Loads of vents. They also gave me a tile/trophy, a messenger bag and a cool bottle with the TV sucks label on it.

I would have to say that this was the best race of the year thus far. Best value, with your money going to a good cause. Best singletrack, and it just never ends. I forgot how wicked fun the dirtbike trails are that are part of the first 40km. Soo many pump rollers, and banked turns that just keep coming. The rain improved the course from last year, making the sand a bit harder, and keeping the dust down. There was a bit of mud, bit it was mostly avoidable.

I hope more people realize what a special race this is and come out for it next year. Spread the word!

So yesterday I watched the Queens Park QP in TO. It was so exciting and I was so happy I went. Seeing Hesjedal and Barry in person was kinda surreal, and just watching them ride by got my heartrate up. Everyone put on a great show. Hesjedal left it all out there, doing a ton of work in the break. He seemed to be on the front every time they went by, and still finished third, behind 2 sprinters.

Roth launched an impressive attack on the break with ~8 laps to go and got about 10 seconds ahead. He was caught with 3 or 4 to go, and still held on to the lead group.

Fry had a great day getting in an early break with Roth (I think), did some work on the front, and still won the field sprint.

In the end it was Schiller getting another well deserved win. He always seems to be so strong in the end.

Next stop: The squeezer. See ya there!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Marathon Champs

Another victory! Yee Ha!

Todays race went perfectly for me. Aside from going off course for 5ish minutes with Tyson, and being joined buy by Tim and a couple others on the way back to the vandalized arrow turn, there were no issues. About 5 riders got ahead of us at this point, but myself and Tyson pulled ahead again and caught them quickly. We worked together well, with him pushing me a bit on the singletrack, and me pushing him a bit on the doubletrack. Unfortunately for him, his lower gears were not working, so he was forced to grind up all the climbs, and it was hurting him. He admitted to being nearly cracked just after the last feed zone, so I upped the pace there, and held it till the end. I did loose my gap at another point later on when I arrived at a split in the doubletrack with no arrows in sight. The arrows just prior were a different color, and I did not want to ride further off track, so I rode back up a long climb, then waited for a bit till the train of riders came, and told them what was up. We determined that down the hill was the only way to go, and I checked out where the left turn went. I rode up a hill, them bam! an arrow appeared and I was back on track. The others got going again, but I quickly gapped them, feeling quite strong. I avoided any major cramps, and was able to ride every climb (excluding the one near the start that everyone ran).

My plan going in to this race was to start slowish, and save a lot for the last 20km where I wanted to really tear some legs off. I felt great at the start though, so I used my strength, stuck with Tyson, and just waited to see what would happen. Having a good history with these types of races really boosts my confidence, so the mental battle is easy to win.

Well I think Benno is in trouble at Paul's. The 100km battle is coming soon!

As long as I don't do anything stupid this week, like stay up all night, or get wasted, I should have the same form next weekend. My only training ride this week will be the power test Wednesday morning, and maybe 5hrs of fun cross rides to fill in the rest of the week.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Sometines she goes, sometimes she doesn't. Thats just the way she goes boys"

She didn't go for me today. Well not until the last lap anyway. I had a bad start, slipping off my pedal and ending up close to the back. I made one good effort to move up about 5 spots, but after that I lost my motivation, and just tried to find a rhythm. I was alone for a long time with Nicholas from the hub a few seconds back. He was going faster on the straights, but I was going faster through the turns. He caught me on a long straight, and I was fine with grabbing his wheel for some drafting. I sat there for about 2 laps, and then attacked on the last lap, knowing that the next train was less than a minute up. I felt strong at this point, but that strength came to way to late to make up significant ground.

So the moral of the story is that if you enter a race without the will to suffer, you will not do well. Ya, it was a fun race, and I did enjoy the course. Once my road rash heals on my right hip I will push it in the turns more, and that will make it more fun.

I think I will enjoy technical cross races, this one was fast, and had very little tight stuff. Mud, sand, snow and hills will up the fun factor.

I could not believe the money some guys put into their cross gear. Some pit bikes where easily worth 3 or 4 times as much as my new Tricross. Crazyness. Getting on some tubulars is tempting, but I will not put more money into cross gear unless I commit to training for it and racing it seriously. Maybe next year?

So I failed one of my goals by dismounting for the barriers. They were just too close together to make the second hop possible. I'll get em one day.....

Nice work Justin, showing some good strength today. I'm sure it will stick around for the rest of the season for you. Hopkins won the battle in the junior field, and Sara finished second in her first cross race ever! Siiiick.

Now its time to get my MTB ready for tomorrow. Can't wait!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

College and stuff

First week of college has come and gone, without problems. This terms math course is the equivalent to grade 9 academic, which I found easy to pass while I was in grade 8, so I am likely going to write an exemption test to free up 4 hours a week for more cycling time. The only down side is that they charge you $144 bucks to write the test, and you get nothing back from your tuition. Bullshit, I know.

The only course that I know I will not enjoy is English. First class we had to write an essay, then the teacher drilled us with a grammar lesson. I am bad at grammar (as you already no (lol)) and don't think I will ever be good at it, nor do I care if I am good at. I only need to make enough sense to sound deep. Some lucky students may get exempt if they wrote a superb essay; I highly doubt that mine was any good, but I'm sure doing this blogging for the past year helped.....

Everything else will be fun, as it is new to me. Drafting will be a lot of work, AutoCAD will be tough, but very rewarding to learn. We also get a basic computer knowledge course that will be a breeze for the younger guys, but very challenging for the 30+ year old students.

My class is a good mix of ages, and maturities. I have received some good tips from "second try" classmates about how important making the right friendships is. It makes sense to hang with guys that will help you out, rather than drag you down. Only 20 students graduated this course last spring, out of the 60 that started it 3 years ago. I have heard that the "weeding out" will start after the "10 ten day full refund" period, because teachers need to get paid. They will go really easy on us till we're locked in, then hammer us for a couple weeks to try and shrink their class sizes/workload. I see it coming....

I think I will be fine in this course as I have always had a passion for construction and design. It will take a little to adjust my training to this new schedule, but with the help of lights I will be fine. My appreciation for my bikes has already started to rise this week. Its just that when you're trapped sitting on your ass in a cinder-block cave for 5 hours, getting on your bike after for a spin feels that much better. I will look forward to riding more than ever, and enjoy the long weekend rides very much. Worst case Ontario I will drop a course or two if the workload makes my training suffer; but this is more of a second year issue. I might take a night class through the summer to lighten the load for next year.

Man am I ever pumped for some racing this weekend. My first cross race is tomorrow, where I will be jumping the cheeseburger at Burgoyne Woods. My goal is to not put a foot down, and have some fun. I have been practicing my barrier hopping skills, and hope to use them tomorrow. Sunday is the marathon champs at Mansfeild. These races are super fun, and have an adventure feel that I enjoy. I want to do well, but really don't care anymore as I have surpassed my goals, and am transitioning into beer consumption season. Paul's 100km is next weekend, and this marathon will prepare me to dethrone King Benno. Its more cross after that, than racing will end in November. Cross will be perfect to keep me focused, and allow me to not train at all without getting fat. Just race on the weekend, then focus on school all week.

There is one more workout that I want to do this fall; and that is a VO2 max power test. This will be one 5 minute full out effort on the power tap. My VO2 max intervals in the spring will be based on the average wattage I get, and I will be able to track improvements by doing this test often next season. I just need to get it done soon, while I'm still fit. Next Wednesday maybe? Can't wait!!!!

Race reports coming soon

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tour Di Via Italia

Tour di Via Italia was a special race. It was the first race I have done where hundreds of spectators line the streets and scream with excitement as the peloton goes flying buy. The field turned out to be much more stacked than I expected with some complete American teams, as well as the usual Garneau, Jetfuel, and La Bicicletta teams. My goal was of a top 15 was going to be very hard to accomplish.

I had a brutal start being the last one to line up. During the junior race they said that they were behind schedule and that the elite race would be starting at 5:30, so I went by that and warmed up on my trainer till 5:15. Just after I got off, my dad came running over to tell me that they were lining up, so I scrambled to get my DA wheel in, get my bottles, put my helmet on and then hammer over to the start. I got there 5 seconds before it started.

My poor start didn't really matter, because I was feeling strong, and was able to move to about mid pack by lap 2. On the second turn of lap two, I crashed pretty hard. I was wide on the left, making the right turn, then something happened on the right causing guys to to turn left, including me to avoid it. Next thing I know I'm headed straight for the curb going quite fast. I turned sharp to try and make the turn, but my front tire let go and I wound up sliding on my hip into the curb. I guess I could have stayed upright by jumping up the curb, but I could have killed some spectators in the process. Others were down too, I think from the crash on the right, but I never looked back I just jumped on my bike and hammered like a madman determined to catch back on. My saddle had turned to the left and tilted down and my bar tape was ripped and peeling off on he right, but everything else seemed fine. The pack was maybe 100m ahead of me, and I was able to get within 50m maybe, then I started to fade. Just as I lost hope of making the catch, I remembered the rule about a free lap if you crash. After about 3km of chasing, I pulled into the pit and told them what happened. I was relieved that I didn't ruin my free lap by trying to chase. They were fine with that, and even adjusted my saddle for me. I peeled off my ripped bar tape, had a drink, than I was off to rejoin the race. I got in to a mid pack spot, and hovered around there for the rest of the race. The crash had me feeling a bit shaky in the turns, and I was not being nearly as aggressive as I wanted to be. There was another crash about 10 laps in, but only two guys went down thankfully.

The pace was very fast, but I was not finding it tough to keep up. It was very tough to hold my ground though and I felt like I was getting cut off a lot, and forced off my line. About mid race they called out a prime, and feeling good I decided to go for it. Two guys attacked, but were reeled in before the last turn, and I got third wheel in the counter attack. Two Panther guys pulled me to the final straight. The first guy pulled off, then I started my sprint around the second guy with 100m to go. I went for the shift into my 12t, and the shift was delayed then skipped around when it got on the 12t. Because I had to back off, I lost the sprint to a guy coming up on the left. Shit! Why did I not check my shifting while I was in the pit? It was obvious that I had bashed my rear derailleur when I fell on my right. My hanger was slightly bent, just enough to to delay shifts into the 13t and 12t. There was nothing I could do about it now, just be aware of it.

The second half of the race was a lot of moving up, then falling back over and over. With 2 laps to go I got into the perfect spot. I was about 10th wheel on the left side. Turn 2 on the last lap I lost my good position when a close call occurred just ahead of me. The Jetfuel guy ahead of me had to hop up the curb to avoid crashing, but luckily I was able to stay on the road. The downside was that I had to brake hard, and watch a large swarm of riders fly by on the right. This ruined my chance of a top 15, because I was closer to 30th, maybe further back now. The pace was nuts the rest of the lap, as teams had guys drilling it on the front to prevent an attack. I moved up a few spots before the final turn, got around clean and then past a few more guys as I sprinted out of the turn. All I could do from there was hold my spot which happened to be 24th.

Without the bad luck I could have done better for sure, but am still happy with how I felt, and how I was able to get off the front for a prime sprint, even though I didn't get it. I did end up with a silver medal in the U23 Ontario cat, so I am happy about that.

I would like to do this race again, but I may do the GMSR in Vermont instead next year. Etzl did amazing this year finishing 9th in GC, beating some of Canada's top Juniors. Perry was just behind him too, so congrats boys.

I laced my Powertap up to a Mavic CXP 33 Saturday morning, so that I could try it out. Liberty did not have the right length spokes in stock, so I cut and threaded some myself being to impatient to wait and order some. It worked out, and my Garmin read it without issues. I took it out for a test in the wind Saturday Aft, and did a couple sprint to get ready for TDVI. I hit 1400 watts in a good sprint, not full out though, and averaged 230watts for the whole ride. I also used this wheel for my warm up yesterday, and found it very helpful to gauge my effort. I think the powertap will really motivate me to do intervals, and make my sprint workouts exciting as I will always be trying to squeeze out bigger numbers.

Well Its back to school for me tomorrow. Its been 2 years since high school, so it may feel weird, but I'm sure it will be fun. It means no more working at Liberty, which I will miss, but likely return to in the summer. I am taking Construction Engineering at Niagara college, what I hear is there best, but toughest course.

Wish me luck!