Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Road Nationals

First attempt at racing road nats was a fail, but looking at the final results, you'll notice that 128 other guys were also awarded big fat DNF's.

The road race started out stupid fast, like a crit, making it very tough to move up at all from my starting spot in the back 50. Going down Bell school line the first lap was terrifying. Not that bad a road, just tonnes of people ridding stupid to try and move up. At the bottom there was a crash, but lucky for me the only guys that went down were behind me. I had both wheels locked trying to slow down, and skidded around a bunch of guys to stay upright.

Got back up to speed fine, and found myself to be at the back of the main bunch. I hung on up the climb, feeling good, then slipped back at the top and struggled for a bit. Then with the help of 2 H&R Block riders and Schiller, we got back in by the bottom of the hill. Once again I went up the hill fine, only to get dropped at the top. This time it was over, and I would be picked up by a group of 1o other dropped riders. We all worked together to pick up more guys each lap, but we would also lose some.

I wound up finishing 9 of the 14 laps, the last 2 alone after letting the group go to shake out some cramps. I'll get em next year!!


The next day I took a crack at the national crit in Georgetown. Had to start way back again, and on a narrow course, there was little opportunity to move up each lap. Made a little ground, only to be on the wrong side of a split, and have our group pulled about 25mins into the race. The pace was ridiculous, and the climb was actually quite tough, shrinking the field each lap. I think that only 12 finished. Ouch!

Definitely not my favorite crit course, but it was great for spectating which I got to do plenty of.

Looking forward to the 12 mile race tonight!
See ya

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Last Lake to Lake

Lake to Lake was a big success for team Liberty! this year. The four of us all made it onto the boxes, no top steps, but close enough.

After being involved in the awful crash last year, I decided that if I did this race again I would use my cyclocross bike to reduce the chance of being boxed into a fast moving pack of sketchy MTBer's. Having an elite wave helped a lot, and as far as I know everyone made it down Elm St. safely.

With a trusty tubeless set-up, I was confident that I could handle the trails fine, and go real fast on the gravel and pavement. My MTB only has a 40 tooth big ring, a bit small for a flat race, that typically has a tail wind most of the way. Not this year though! It was quite gusty, seemingly in our face the whole way.
The start of the race went great. Took the lead immediately and drilled it into the headwind. Looked back to see Chown towing the rest of the field up to me, so I slowed a bit. Hit the gas a few more times before the first trail to try and hurt some MTBers, and get to the first gravel trail in the lead. Made it through there successfully, and made it to the quad trails in the top 5. No problems there, came out on the service road with Souter and Wagler, and we closed a small gap on Chown and Anton who accidentally took a short-cut. These gravel sections seemed to cause the selection that formed the lead group.

In a section near the golf course, I nearly flatted by getting tangled in a nasty rut, hidden by long grass. Front tire burped a bunch of air, but hung in there for a bit. I hung on to Antons wheel for dear life as he brought the group back together, then I had to stop and shoot some CO2 into my tire before mosquito ally. Trying to make up time in there on a cx bike was a bad idea, as I wound up having a little crash on a log. Kept cool, and was confident I could get back up to the leaders on the long gravel section to come. Had them in sight for soo long, but didn't have the power to close it down. Started to hurt pretty bad before Brock, and figured I would not see the leaders again. Catching Chown just before the decent gave me hope, but the others were long gone. Thought I had lost Chown on the singletrack, but he was still close and sprinted ahead of me before Suzanne and rode it sooo slow. I couldn't tell if he was hurting, sucking at riding singletrack, or just being a dick and blocking me. Think it was all of the above.

So this was good for Justin, who caught us just after that trail, although he wouldn't stand a chance against two cross bikes on the road. Before the last singletrack bit, Chown sprinted to it first to block us, and slowed us down once again. Coming out on the gravel, Chown wouldn't pull through, so I wouldn't either, and it made for some very slow racing with only Justin seeing any wind.

In the final Km, I attacked hard from the back of the group, only to be caught by Chown and sit up. We made the final turn, the finish hill in sight, and I was waiting to attack again. I saw Chown just off my wheel, and went. Sprinted hard for the hill, then grabbed the brakes to make my way down safely. Chown never gave up though, and came around me with way too much speed on a bad line, taking himself and me down on the top of the hill. He got up fast and robbed me of fourth, not cool man!

Huge congrats to Anton for taking the win. Figured this course would suit him well, and his form is definitely good going into nationals.

See ya all there!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

12 Mile #2

Round 2 of the Liberty! 12Mile series went down last night, under great weather and on some perfect singletrack.

Took this one on with my cross bike, as I will be using it for the L-L this Sunday. Figured if I could keep up on a true MTB course, the L-L would be a breeze, as its got more gravel and pavement than anything.

So before the race I did a lap of the course, knee was driving me nuts and slowing me down a lot, but other than that my bike was working great, and I was riding well.

Got to the start with lots of time, should have kept riding but instead I stood around and shot the shit for 1/2hr. The race starts with 100ish meter run, which I lead after jumping the gun a little I will admit. Thought I blew a hip flexor along the way, but it never seemed to bother me on the bike. I had my bike laying in the front row before the start, but I guess a bunch of people thought it would be fine to add another row on top, making it very difficult for me to find mine. No biggie, grabbed it, hopped over some bikes, then I was off and up with the leaders in no-time.

On the starting gravel, I wasn't feeling too strong, just angry legs from standing around to long before the start I think. So no attacks from me, just chilled near the front.

I took a poor line on the turn to go under the bridge, and my lead-out-man Justin gapped me a bit, so I throttled it to get on his wheel (also on a cx bike) as the trail turned to singletrack. At that moment things were looking great for team Liberty! to take it in a thrilling bunch kick. Then.....disaster struck! well not really, but I did slide out on the hard dusty trail, gracefully removing myself from the trail on my belly. Crash would have been nothing, if my chain woulda stayed on. Fixing that lost me a ton of spots as everyone was still tight together that early on.

When I got going, I made passes everywhere could, without being aggressive. This course is very tough to pass on, and the traffic was holding me up a ton. On the "Santa Hat" trail I managed to blow a bunch of air out my front tire by not clearing a drainage ditch. Didn't go flat but I had to stop and shoot some co2 in there and give up a few spots again. This was the first issue I had with my new Stan's CX set-up. But, I did hit that knuckle really hard, hard enough to turn my bars down a few degrees. And believe me, my bars were not loose at all. I also had very low pressure in there, 28 maybe, so there wasn't much holding the bead in.

So after getting that shit show of a start over with, everything went flawlessly. I felt really strong, but was forced to slow down in traffic a few times. Felt awesome on the twisty trails, making my way into 3rd by the end, about 1 min down from J.C. and a bit more to Etzl who killed it once again. Justin flatted out, and will have to inject some Stan's in his tubular before the L-L. Bummer for him cause he seemed super strong at the start. Congrats to Megan for crushing the woman's race!

As soon as the adrenalin from the race wore off (likely the Advil too) me knee started to hurt again. Its a weird injury, the harder I go the less it hurts. Today I have an appointment to get some electrical current therapy on it, that's supposed to help it heal, and mask the pain. The appointment is with Kyle-from Liberty!'s wife, who is a chiropractor. She is also going to fix my back, leading to a pain free L-L and road nationals.

The knee injury reduced my training volume a fair bit, so I'm quite rested right now. Maybe could have pushed my fitness a little more, but being fresh is just as important, and I think I can have a great ride at Nationals.

See ya at the L-L!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Albion O-cup

Hard to believe that the o-cup season is closer to the conclusion than the beginning already. Still tonnes of exciting racing to come though, including the lake to lake this Sunday and Road Nationals the following weekend.

Albion went very well for me. The only thing holing me back from going faster was my legs, which felt good compared to back pain. Back still got tight, but was not a factor in my performance.

A lot of the heavy hitters were absent, so it was a great opportunity to get in the top 10 and steal some points for the series. I managed to grab 8th, only 2 spots from the money and podium.

The race wasn't too exciting, from my position anyway. Highlight was riding through the finish rather than lap after lap 1. Lost me ~30 secs and a few spots that I did make up eventually. Keep your heads up! The last lap was good cause I was battling with Jon Slaughter, motivating us both to go fast. Made a move on a roller, and kept goin hard till the end to hold him off. He seems to be getting stronger every race.

Before the race I was a little concerned about my knee. I must have bashed it during the 12 mile last Wednesday, and it was just starting to hurt enough to bug me during my warm-up. Took an Advil, and it seemed to do nothing, but as soon as the race started I forgot about it. This tells me its nothing serious, but it did hurt during my spin yesterday. I could take an Advil, stick on some Spider tech, and hammer today, but I'm thinking that taking it easy to speed up the recovery is a little smarter.

12 mile #2 is going down tomorrow night (if the rain holds) and I hope for a strong knee, and good power to test out my Lake-to-lake set-up.

Peace out!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Albion Pre-pre-ride/ 12 Mile race #1

Got up to Albion yesterday for some MTB training with Justin, and it was a great day on the bike. Took us a little while to get on the o-cup course, just because its very different from last year. No green monster, and there seems to be less doubletrack.

I was loving the new Pine-comb express trail, which will be the first singletrack section. It had some cool rock features and some good flow. I found something to look forward to in every section, but that new one stood out for sure.

Looks like the finish will have a fun downhill before doing some cyclocross turns on the grass field.

Should be very fast, and fun!

So tonight was the first of the Liberty 12Mile series, which turned out to be a crash-fest for me. I had some solid legs under me, and felt good enough to lead the first quarter, but crash number one handed it over to Etzl. This crash was me hitting a tree stump after sliding out of a mud bog onto a poor line. I got back up to Etzl by the top of the new for 2011 climb, him likely waiting. Followed him for a while getting away from the rest of the field before sliding out just before a bridge, that I fell onto, then off of. Got going quick, feeling fine, but when I stood up to pedal, a branch grabbed my helmet, ripped it back and pulled me off the back of my bike. That was a ridiculous crash for sure.

Justin caught me, but I rode away still determined to catch Etzie. Went good for a while before crash #4, where I rounded a corner only to collide head on with a racer lost, and going the wrong way. Just messed up my left brake lever and shifter, leaving me stuck in the little ring, trying to fix it before the final trail - Suzanne. By then, I dunno what it was, the heat, hitting my head or just me sucking but I couldn't ride my bike. I felt like I was in another world, dizzy and spaced out. I was riding the trail slower than I have done it in the winter with fresh snow, and I still managed to crash on it. What happened exactly is unknown to me....but I ended up hittin a tree pretty hard with my left shoulder. Justin and JC went by while I took my time getting running again. Almost quit racing cause I felt like I was going to faint, but chose to just cruise in and try and cool down.

Seems like an awful time, but it I can still say that it was great for my legs, and I should be going good for Albion. Learned a lot about crash recovery, that I hope not to use again, but its there. Shoulder will be sore tomorrow, and my right wrist is stiff, but I have 3 days to recover for Albion, should be more than enough.

Looking forward to seeking revenge on this course next Wednesday, and through the rest of the series.

I definitely need more time to adapt to the heat. Spending 2hrs this morning puttin up the 12mile signs was probably a heat overdose on its own, and riding the course for a warm up was maybe a bit much. Looks like it'll be cool this weekend though. Hope they're right!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Hardwood Canada Cup

My feeling towards my performance at Hardwood are neutral. I'm happy that I finished and had solid legs most of the race, but I'm a bit angry at how it all started.

Right of the line, the Quebec rider directly in front of me missed his pedal, and fell down. This shot me from a mid pack start to the very back before I even got to cross the start line. I made up a good 10 or so spots on the climb up, but I had to work hard to do it. I felt good at the top, ready for the trail, to find a massive bottleneck with about 20 riders stopped and waiting to enter. I waited unlike some guys who thought they were smart running bumping riders out of the way with their bikes. Once the traffic subsided, the pace ramped up and and I was feeling good, ready to make some passes. On an easy section I slipped on a root taking my front wheel out forcing me to give up a few spots. Bar was turned, I got it straight, but not perfect. Oh well.

Shorty after that crash we made our way down the bone shaker. Took the line I knew well and passed a guy. I came up behind another guy, who stopped completely. I didn't want to wait for him to decide on a line, so I went for a pass on the right not seeing a big pointy rock that I hit with my chainring and went over the bars. I was fine, but frustrated and again lost a few spots.

I had one other crash lap one where my left hand slipped off the bars and I steered into a tree. Bumped it with my shoulder, got passed, then continued on.

This complete shit show of a lap had me way back in about 55th spot by the end. It only got better from there. I was making up some ground each time going up the start climb. Some laps I would ride past groups of 5. I rode much better after that, feeling comfortable on all the technical features.

By the end of lap 5 I had ridden into to top 40, and felt solid. Then, my inner thighs started to cramp and lock up. I drank a lot, got some gel in me and watched about 5 riders go past. Shook the cramps out and carried on, getting back up to the train that had just gone by. I made one effort to pass them back, but only got by 3 or so. Wanted to take one or two more in the sprint, but they got a gap during some passes on lapped elite females, and I couldn't shut it down.

Finished up in 42nd. I know I can be close to, or in the top 30. Like everyone says "the start can make or brake your race". It definitely screwed mine, but that's racing.

All in all it was a great weekend. The accommodations at the Kings in in Orillia were great, and the $25 pasta dish at a steakhouse in casino Rama was incredible. It consisted of pappardelle noodles, with baby fennel, sun dried tomatoes, seared beef tips, fresh ground Parmesan, with arugula pesto sauce. Probably missing something to, but it was amazingly good.

Feeling good about Albion this coming weekend. Goal is to crack the top 10, but of course that depends who comes out. Trails should be nice in Niagara now, 12 mile series should go this wednesday.

All for now