Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Frame

My new frame has arrived from Trek this week. The warranty department decided that my old bike was indeed cracked and they offerend me a klein palamino or $300 credit. I decided to take the credit. The palamino is no longer in production, so getting that bike would leave me stuck if anything was to go wrong with the shock. It really is too bad Klein has stopped making full suspension bikes. Thanks to Trek on that one, nothing like killing off a brand with a history of exceptional bikes! They really are works of art. The paint on the bike is like no other, mine fades from green to dark blue/purple depending on angle. My Klein Adept has been a great bike for the last 5 years, it has seen thousands of miles, and trails all over michigan. The good news it is not good bye to the bike, Trek didnt want it back. So I will be able to hang on to it for a while. Maybe hang it on the wall somewhere.This is from last year after a muddy xc race.

So what did I spend my $300 credit on? It just so happend that Trek had 2 2006 21.5" Top Fuel 110 frames left that they cut me a really good deal on. This is Treks top of the line full suspension carbon racing bike. They have made quite a few improvements to the frame from the '06 version to the '07 version I hear, but this is same bike that the Trek race team rides. It really is a cool looking bike.

The frame with the shock weighs in at 5 lbs, 8 oz. My goal is to build this up as light as possible, but I still want it to be a durable bike.
The parts that I want to get are:
Reba Race or Team fork
XTR Cranks
XT front der.
Thomson stem
I plan on transferring over my:
XTR shifters
Thomson seat post
Avid mech disc brakes
Egg beater pedals
Easton EC-90 Bar
FSA wheels.
XTR rear der.
King headset
I will update when I get it all put together. I really cant wait to ride the bike.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Waterford Hills CX race #8

Waterford Hills hosted the final race in the tailwind cross series. This was the first race this year to be held on a cold, snowy day. The temps were in the low 20`s, we missed out on the big snow storm that hit the west side of the state and most of the midwest for that matter. Personally I was hoping for a few inches of snow. Pine knob, which I drove past on the way over, was making snow, so at least maybe the snowboarding season will start up pretty soon here.
I have never been to waterford hills before, it was a mostly flat course, with a few sections of the race track mixed in. It seemed like most of the hills were on the pavement. There were two sets of barriers, one in the "infield" and the other at the top of hill just after jumping off the pavement. Much of the course was really quite rough, and you got bounced around a lot.
There were a lot of racers at this race, must be because the kisskross series ended already.
The race started out ok, I rode in a pack we got dropped by the lead group but about 4 of us stayed pretty close throughout the race. The first lap was the most painful for me, my calves were cramping and the cold air was really hurting my lungs. But I hung in and kept pushing.
I did a 7:33 on the first lap.
The second, and third laps are kind of a blur. Nothing much happend we all just hung together and traded a few places. The second lap was my slowest at 7:55, the third I picked it back up a little and turned in a 7:47.
The final lap the group was mostly still together. Coming into the second from last straight away on the grass before the line, I tried to put a move on and drop every one. I did manage to open up a small gap but the group reformed behind me. The last turn onto the pavement and just a sprint to the finsih was going to decide the race for me. So as soon I hit the pavement I jumped on the pedals and tried to make a run for the line. All of sudden a guy that was up in front of our pack was right in front of me. I didnt see him because I had my head down and was cranking on the pedals. I almost hit him, I had to slam on the brakes and barely missed him. By this time the other two guys that were still with me were gone and I had to settle for 12th place. It was not the finish to the season or the race that I was hoping for.
So my first year doing the entire series is now complete. I finished in 12th place. I didnt make my goal of getting a top 5 finish the best I could manage was 7th. I really learned a lot this year though, and will be doing a lot more training next year before the series starts up again.
Now there are no races for a few months. I am going to miss it that is for sure. I have been racing this year since april.
A new member to the "family" arrived yesterday. It is bright red and weighs in at 5 lbs, 8 oz. I will post some pictures as I build it up.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bloomer Park CX #7

The 7th Tailwind cyclocross race took place today at Bloomer today in some very un-cross like weather.
This weekends weather makes up for all the rainy, wet cross races this year. This is the first time that I havent had to spend an hour cleaning my bike this entire season after a race. With temps probably in 50`s for the start of the C race it made for some great racing weather.
This year the course was set up quite a bit different than the previous 2 years. It featured 3 barrier sections, some pavement and some trails. It was one of the bigger courses this season, and I clocked a lap at about 1.8-1.9 miles. I must say I really liked the course set up today. It had a good mix of different terrain, and areas to ride.
This was also the first race for 3 of the guys on my team. Mike, Todd, and Jason all did really good at the race, and I hope that they can make it out to the race next weekend as well. John and Joe also did good at the race today. Team Sandbag had 6 racers going in the C race.

The race started out ok. I got a decent jump off the line, and was able to hang with the lead pack. The first set of barriers I had some problems clipping back into my pedals, and Todd was able to get around me. We rode pretty much the entire race together. We were never able to reconnect with the group in front of us. We were close after the second lap, but the third lap they got away.
I was able to put in some decent lap times, 8:30, 8:45?, 9:00, and 8:31. The third lap I kind of backed off a little, which I should not of done. But overall not bad times.

Just one more race left in the season, next weekend. I will be sad to see it end.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Munson Park CX # 6

The 6th race of the CX series was held sunday at Munson Park in Monroe. This was my first time doing this race. I have never been to Monroe before so it is always fun going somewhere new.
The plan for the day was to go out really hard out of the start and then maintain a fast, steady pace for the rest of the race. For the first 1/2 lap the plan was going good, but it quickly fell apart.
The course at Munson was mostly flat, with quite a bit of gravel trail, and big hill right in the middle. The hill featured a run up, and about 3 up and down sections all in a row. No time to catch your breath between climbs.
I started out fast and got up with the lead 5 guys. I was able to hang with them until after the mud/sand pit. I made a little progress in the pit and got around a couple of riders only to have them catch and pass me on the run up. After the first lap no one else passed me and I was able to get around a few of guys that dropped off of the lead pack.
The second lap I made a mistake on my mount after after the second set of barriers. I could not get my foot clipped back in for some reason and the guy that I was riding with was gone. I could not catch back up to him the entire race.
The last lap was pretty much me riding by myself trying to catch the guy in front of me, but no luck.
Another 10th place finish. This type of course did not play to my strong points, and I am suffering from a sinus infection. So hopefully I can make up for it at bloomer in two weeks.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Iceman Cometh

Ahh redemption. This year at Iceman I made up for my horrible experience last year. I was able to cut 18 minutes from my time last year on a longer course.
Last year was my first time racing Iceman. I really didn’t know what to expect other than there was a lot of hills at the end of the race, and to watch out for all the sand. I was fine for about the first 11 miles of the race, then I bonked, hard. I am diabetic, so I have to make sure I keep my blood sugar levels up, otherwise, well it is not good. The mistake that I made last year was not putting any kind of energy drink in my hydrapack. I think I ate about 9 packages of gel last year, and by the time I got done with the race, I was about ready to puke. I have never felt so bad after a race. I had a lot of second thoughts on signing up and racing again this year, but I had a plan.
This year I ran a mix of perpetuem and heed in my hydrapack. Wow what a difference. I only ate about 3 packages of gel and felt really good for the entire race.
Tuesday night I was cleaning up my bike for the weekend, and found a crack in the frame! My baby! How could this happen?? I have had it for going on 5 years! I really didn’t have much of an option either race it, race my single speed or not race at all. So I decided to take my chances.
We got up to TC on Thursday night and headed out for a early Friday morning ride on the trail. There was about a inch of snow on the ground making the sand more like mud. My bike was not shifting at all. About 3 miles in I broke my chain, and we decided to head back to get my bike into a shop. I really could only use a few gears otherwise I would get a lot chain suck. Thanks to the guys at brick wheels in TC they got me right in, and put a new chain and cassette on. This took care of my shifting problems and the bike was good to go, except for the cracked swingarm.
Friday night about 20 of us from my team, friends, etc... had a good pasta dinner at toma? in TC. I usually don’t eat pasta, due to the high amount of carbs, so it was really good.
Saturday turned out to be a perfect day to race. My race started off with a snow shower, fitting for Iceman. I felt really good right out of the start. I took it easy and got warmed up, I didn’t really get much of a chance to ride around before the race. I always seem to run out of time before that race. For the most the part the race was uneventful. It really didn’t seem as bad as last year, but I think that was mostly due the Hammer Products that I was using this year. I remember getting to a few points on the trail and remembering how bad of shape I was in last year at that time, and thinking wow I am really feeling good. I finished the race in 2:27, I wanted to hit the 2:15 mark this year. I really trained a lot for the race over the last couple of months, but I took it easy at the start based on my bad memories of last year. Next year I expect to a lot better.
So now I get to figure out what I want to do about my bike. It sounds like Trek will replace it with something. Not really sure what I want yet. I really like my Klein, but 5 years and a lot of miles is pretty good I guess. That bike has taken me a lot of places over the years. I am sure I will hold on to the frame I couldn’t bring myself to through her away. Maybe a fuel, maybe something else we will see.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Veterans Park CX Race #5

The 5th Tailwind Cyclcross race was held at Veterans Park in Ann Arbor today. This course is known for all the elevation change and typically a large field of racers. Today was no exception! With the sun shining and a strong wind to welcome us, it was a nice break from all the rain. Of course it was cold in the morning, but the sunshine felt really nice on the black spandex. We had four of us from Team Sandbag starting the C race. A record turnout!!
The course was really muddy in sections from all the rain we got yesterday. Only one barrier section was set up on the course out in flats between the baseball diamonds. But there were enough run ups on the steep hills to make up for it.

The race started and once again, even though, I had a better start position I still got boxed in by slower riders. By the time I got through the first little climb I knew I had to get around these guys. I put hammer down on the second hill and got around some of the traffic. Into the barriers into the hilly part of the course.

On the first short little hill I got stuck behind a couple of guys pushing the bike. I stayed with them until the steep little pavement climb and sprinted up that hill and around them both. This part of the course was tricky with a sharp turn and a long run up. I found in my warm up rides it was better to run this hill all the way to top and not try to get back on to soon. We then hit a flat part of the course that came down along maple road. From there there was another big hill climb which I choose to run and rode the flats back to the finish line. 10:00 roughly was my first lap.
The second lap I rode with two flying rhino riders the entire time. I apparently backed off my pace a little and had a 10:18.
The final lap I got around those two riders just after the finish line on the paved hill. I kept up the pressure and by the time we hit the barriers I had a nice little lead on them. I rode this lap all alone, so there was no getting off the bike in spots due to traffic. I hammered the last hill and got across the line in 9:45.
I ended up in 8th place. Not the 5th place that I was hoping for, but I am seeing a lot of improvements. On 2 of my 3 laps my re-mounts didnt have any little studder steps which I think is a first. Also the hill running that I have been doing seems to be helping.
Next week is the Iceman! Hopefully the gains that I have seen so far this CX season carry over to it as well..

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lower Huron CX Race #4

Well another CX race and another rainy day. At least it was mostly just light sprinkles during the race. It was enough to make the course slick in spots however.
It has been a few weeks since the last race, so I wasnt really sure what to expect. I have been doing a lot of riding, but that is to get ready for Iceman in a couple of weeks. The race started out on the pavement, and I got boxed in and couldnt get as close to the front as would of liked before we hit the grass. There was a really sharp turn around a tree in pretty soon after the we got off the pavement and as expected it caused some chaos. Luckily I was able to get away from a few people there and into the first set of barriers which were also set on tight corner and at the bottom of a short run up. The big run up by the river was in the course also.
I held a pretty consistent pace throughout the race. I tried to draft off people when I could on the pavement and hammer it on the grass.
I ended up in 7th place which is my best finish yet. I was just 6 seconds out of 6th place, but just couldnt catch back up with the guy on the last lap.
I am looking forward to Veterans Park this weekend. It will be a tough, but fun race I am sure.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Stony Creek CX Race

The third Tailwind CX race was sunday at stony creek. The weather turned out to be quite nice compared to last weekends mud fest at Springfield Oaks. With temps in the low to mid 60`s and sunshine it was a nice break from all the rain. Of course on saturday it rained most of the day so the course was wet in spots.
The course layout was 1.4 miles and featured 1 set of barriers and couple runs through the sand. The longest run was on the beach but it was quite a bit shorter than last year.
The race started out good for me. I got up to front at the start and stayed with the top 5 or so guys until about 1/2 through the first lap. The first sand pit was on a 180 degree turn, I saw a few guys crash there in warm up when they tried to ride it. So I figured the smart thing do was to get off and run. As I dismounted my chain fell off the chain ring. So I had to stop, at the base of the hill of course and put the chain back on. By then the rest of the people in the pack got around me. The next lap the same thing happend in the same spot. Finally on the third lap I made sure to leave my chain in the middle of the cassette as I came into the dismount. This worked and the rest of the laps I did not have a problem.
The last lap the I just couldnt catch the guy that was ahead of me. He passed me earlier in the lap when I was taking a drink on the pavement. I figured that I could catch him once we hit the grass just like I did on the previous lap, but to no avail even with a hard sprint to the finish. I finished up in 10th place 7 second out of ninth place.
This was my best result to date. I felt that my running was really my weakness in this race. Hopefully I can shake this cold and get out and do some training. The next race is not for a couple of weeks so I should have some time to improve this aspect of my racing.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A bad week

Well I have been sick all week. I have not been on my bike since sunday at the UCI race. I am finally feeling better today, but not back to normal. I was hoping to use this week to work on some stuff before the stony creek race on sunday. That is not going to happen, I will be happy to just get out on the bike and go for a ride.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Springfield Oaks Race 2

Well sunday started out a little better than saturday for me. I actually showed up early to the race, and was able to get some warm up laps in. The course was in better, by that I mean muddier, shape than it was on saturday. The combination of some heavy rains and lots of racers made the course quite slippery in many of the off camber spots.
I am not sure if the course was harder on sunday or saturday. The one big run up on sunday was tough with the slippery conditions, but there was a little pavement to ride also.
I tried to hammer it out of the gate for a change instead of hanging back. I guess it really didnt buy me anything this time, because my fitness level just isnt there yet. Pretty much the first 3 laps no one passed me and I passed a few other riders. One guy did get around me but I caught and dropped him on the third lap. On the last lap I crashed pretty good in a downhill mud pit. But there was no one around me. I got up and cranked kind of hard to get my gap back that I built up. I crossed the line in 12th place.
I was really hoping for a top 10 finish in the race. But I found some weak spots that I need to work on that cost me some time every lap. Now all I have to do is shake this stupid cold and get ready for Stony creek next sunday.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Springfield Oaks CX race 1

The first of the tailwind CX races kicked off on saturday. The weather was warm, but it rained the night before and was gray all day. The morning started out good, I woke up on time and got going a little later than I wanted to, but not too bad. Not knowing how long it would take to get there and not really knowing where I was going got me up early in the morning. Well one problem. For some reason I was thinking that the race started at 10:30. I pulled up about 9:20 and thinking that I had an hour before the race I was just taking my time. Well it actually started at 10:00! I was on my first warmup lap and I heard the call for all the C racers to line up. So I cut the course and hurried back to the start line. A swallow of HEED and the bottle back in the cage and the whistle went.
The first lap I was looking for the best line through the course. There was a lot off camber sections and the grass wet with a few big mud pits. The off camber sections were tough after a few laps of getting chewed up by all the racers. The barrier section was a flat part of the course, but the grass was really wet and slippery so I took it easy the first few times. The next one was an up hill just after getting out of the horse barn. It wasnt too bad to run up it.
Every lap the course conditions got worse. A section you could ride the first couple laps turned into run ups. All the flat sections were flooded and all the uphills were muddy and slippery.
The race worked out to be 5 laps. On the last lap near the end someone caught up with me. I figured I had to drop him quick. I wasnt sure where he came from all I knew is that he was there and the last time I looked there was no one. Coming down from the second barrier section it was a short downhill and sweeping left turn and then a slight up hill to the finish. I just cranked as hard as I could and wound up in 11th place.

What a great way to start off the season with some real cross weather. Last year there was nothing like that. The weather was really nice. Of course the hour and half of cleaning up my bike made me wish for some of those nicer days. I was hoping it would dry out for sundays race, but I didnt get so lucky...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Springfield Oaks CX race

Tomorrow kicks off the Tailwind series here in Michigan. It is currently raining and there is 40% chance of rain on saturday as well. Sunday looks like it might be a little bit better weather for race #2.
It sounds like a mud fest is in the works. It can`t be any worse the than the 12 hours of mud at addison oaks. Which was the worst conditions I have ever seen.

I will post a full update on the race tomorrow.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Highland Park CX Race

Click for Pictures
My first CX race of the season was this last weekend at Highland Park in Grand Rapids. This was the first race of the kisscross race series as well. I have never done a kisscross race before so I figured that I would give it a try. The rest of the races conflict with the tailwind series.
The course was a 1.3 mile loop that had two sections of barriers. The first set was a triple set up and the next was a single at the bottom of a huge hill run up. There was a small amount of pavement and a couple of loose climbs. The course was really soft in spots from all the rain that we have had in the last few weeks. This series only has a A and a B race both of which are longer than any CX race I have ever done before.

We got to the race pretty earlier this time and I was able to get a few warm up laps in. On my second warm up lap I was watching my hrm and I saw my highest reading of the year. And this was an easy lap just to get the legs going!
We were told that the race was going to be 7 laps as we were getting ready to start. With that we started out in the parking lot and hit the grass. The first lap I took it kind of easy and just sat on with a few guys. We hit the run up and I tried to push it pretty hard up the hill. This is were I broke my record for my highest heart rate also.
The next 6 laps I just concentrated on getting up that run up and pushing it on the flats as much as I could.
At about the 30 minute mark I was wishing that this was a C race and being able to finish instead of having to do 2 more laps. They went by pretty quickly and the next thing I knew the race was over.
My lap times were pretty consistent. I was doing about 7:30 laps. I felt pretty good for the first race of the year, but am amazed I could push my hr so high. I saw it really high on two different laps so it would leave me to believe that it was not a glitch.

Next up is the season opener for tailwind at springfield oaks. Two days of racing, and a ride through a horse barn. How cool is that going to be!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Stony Creek XC

The last of mountain bike series races took place at stony creek. My home course, the course I ride all the time. If there was going to be a race that I did good on this season this would be it.
The day didn’t start out to good. As I was loading up my bike onto my roof rack I heard an all to familiar ping sound. A spoke broke again on the rear wheel. Well the nipple sheared in half actually. This was a different nipple than the one that broke at fort custer, but the same wheel, FSA XC-300. What would cause that to happen when the bike is just sitting there is beyond me. So I loaded up the single speed and my old set of wheels, mavic crossrides. I figured this way if the old wheels dont want to work at least I have the SS to fall back on. I threw the old wheel on and pumped it and all seemed well.

My first lap I got stuck behind some slow traffic on the first section of the roller coaster that I couldn’t get around. By the time I did the lead pack was already gone. The guy that I was stuck behind was keeping a faster pace than me on two track, but I knew I had to get around him before the pines otherwise I would be out of the race for sure. So I got around the last of the guys just before the entrance to the pines. Somewhere on this lap I started to notice a bike problem. My rear wheel was not free wheeling, and something was rattling around. But I ignored it and I just pushed and turned in a :33 minute lap.
Lap 2 I was hurting a little and decided to take a bit of a break in a couple of parts. I was tearing through the rollercoaster and I hit a patch off mud in a turn. Luckily I was able to stay somewhat upright by hopping along on my left foot while my right was still clipped in. Apparently my backup tires aren’t so good in the mud. My save hurt my back but I tried to put it out of my mind. My almost crash made me back off the speed and I turned a :36 minute lap.
The third lap my plan was turn it up a little about ½ way through. I didn’t recover as much on my second lap as I would of hoped. I tried to pick up the pace a little, but to no avail. I did manage to bounce off a couple of trees, luckily I was able to keep from crashing. I was getting close to the end of the race, and I caught one guy that passed me earlier in the race, but I could not keep contact with him. The slow guy that held me up on the first lap caught me as well on the last big hill and I had nothing left to chase him down. Turns out he wasn’t in my class anyways. So this was my slowest lap, 37 minutes.
I got 9th place. Not really what I set out to do, but oh well.
I figured out what the rattling noise was when I got home, any guesses? Another broken spoke on my back up rear wheel. At least this one was at the hub, not the rim. Something different this time I guess.

Next weekend is my first cyclocross race, I am really looking forward it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

CX Training

With about 2 weeks to the first race of the season I finally started my CX training. Yesterday I realized a couple of things. I am out of shape for cross and my skills are not quite what they were last year. I am working on correcting my dismount style also. Last year I would dismount by pulling my right leg over the top tube. It worked out pretty good, except for the time when my cleat got tangled up with my brake cable. Luckily it was just a sand pit that I was dismounting for and was able to hop on my left foot until I got untangled. But this could of been quite painful if it was something solid I was trying to get over. So this year my goal is learn how to dismount correctly. This of course throws my timing off, which is not a good thing when a barricade is fast approaching. After 2 days of practice I am feeling a lot better, the true test will come in a race. Hopefully I dont revert back to my old style.
Today was a interval and skills/running workout. It felt good, but I still have a long ways to go.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fort Custer TT Race

Well I made the long drive out to the Fort Custer TT this past weekend. The day started out with a pretty steady rain most of the way over. As we got closer to the park the rain stopped, but the skies stayed gray. I have never ridden the course before, but from what I was told, it was going to be a fun course. The turn out for the race was pretty low, which I was kind of surprised by, but I figured had better chances to place. The race started out pretty good. For never riding the course before I moving pretty fast through the course and I was feeling pretty good. The course had a lot of sand that was packed down from all the rain, the logs and roots were a little slick though. The trenches is a really cool section of the trail. It is like a flat switch back section that if you pick a good line you can fly through. So all was going good until I hit about mile 11. I come through a sandy downhill turn and I hear something rubbing. Well I broke a spoke on my back wheel. I have been breaking spokes for 2 years now on my singlespeed, so I finally broke down and bought a new wheel. Now it has spread to my new wheels I bought for my Klein. So I stop, and decide not to try and true the wheel. I figure it is only about a mile and half to finish line, I should be able to ride that faster than fixing the the wheel. Well aparently I had some bad info, the race was closer to 15 miles long. So everyone that I passed earlier in the race passed me and I got last place. Figures I was feeling good and riding fast, and I get a mechcanical.
Oh well. The next race is the stony creek xc race which I plan to do on my single speed. Hopefully I can do better than last year when I bonked hard and finished 15 minutes behind the next guy.