Sunday, March 25, 2012

Off to the races...

So far 2012 is kicking off to be amazing.  1st race I did, I won.  It was a 2 lap sport class race at Bloomer Park in Rochester.  This was my first mountain bike race ever so I was a bit nervous.  My original plan was to just sit back and watch and see what happened on then on the last lap make a move if I felt confident.  Well the plan changed in the first turn.  I was sitting in 2nd and the guy in front of me crashed going from pavement to dirt.  I took the lead and didn't look back.  He got up pretty quick and was blocking the trail so we had to wait for him.  But as the race went on, my distance between him and I grew.  He stayed in 2nd and my lead kept increasing.  I ended up winning the race by a few minutes.  My lap times were good enough to get me 3rd in the Expert class.  After the race, I looked up the person that got 2nd in my race.  I found out he was actually a Cat 1 and was sort of cheating by riding that class.  So beating him made me feel pretty good about the race I had.There's a video a company of the race.  You can view it here.  I'm the guy in the Castelli gear.  The course was very technical.  A lot of up and down and winding all over the place.  Also much of it was new so the dirt was very soft in those sections.   

Here's a pic of me after the race with my winnings.  The one thing I really like about mountain bike races is the obsession with beer.  These guys are amazing.  They will kick your ass on the trail and then everyone parties and drinks beer.  These racers are great athlete's too, trust me.  After the race, I contacted USA Cycling and requested an Cat 1 Offroad license.  They approved it.

This weekend I competed in a race called Barry-Roubaix, The Killer Gravel Road Race.  Let me tell you, it lives up to it's name.  What a race.  It's a very challenging gravel road race with over 1000ft of climbing per hour and your doing this on gravel.  It's like doing Ironman Lake Placid on a gravel road.  Just not as long.  To make matters worse, they have a couple of sections of about .5 miles that are just all sand.  The point is to get you off your bike.  Technically, this is a Cyclocross race, but I don't have a cross bike so I did the best I could on my mountain bike with cross tires.  The biggest problem I had was running out of gear.  I would draft off of someone but I would spin out and they would ride away because they are on a cross bike with 48t and I'm riding my mountain bike with a 40.  It makes a large difference.  Plus I have suspension fork and they are all rigid.  So while I have the best fork on the market with a lockout, it's still not the same.  I ended up like 22nd in my age group.  Not too bad but I could have done better.  In the 2nd sand section coming back, I also collided with another rider.  After picking my bike up I realized the rear wheel had fallen out of the bike.  I panicked trying to get the wheel back in but had to flip the bike over and get it back in.  I probably lost about 3-4 minutes in that whole fiasco. I also have a bunch of scratches and cuts all over my legs.  

This was also the first race I did with some members of my new team, Team Sandbag.   I met them when I riding one day.  They were out for a group ride at the park I was riding.  They noticed my Ironman stickers and we talked a bit.  As it turns out, the team manager Todd Powers, is looking to do some triathlons this year so we are sort of swapping mountain bike and triathlon stories.  So a group of us were in attendance at the Barry Roubaix this weekend.  From right to left, Me, Todd Powers, John Osgood, Kevin Nolly, and Brad Dunkin.
After the race the party begins.  Not only was my teammates from Sandbag there, but so was Kevin Neumann or as he is better known as @ironmanbythirty.   It was great to meet  him and hang out in person as we've chatted so much online.  I also got to meet Jason Mahonky, the main and pretty much only, guy at XXC Mag. Jason is a great guy.  He writes awesome stories about endurance mountain bike racing, and just general offroad awesomeness.  Give his magazine a look.  There's more to this than just racing and he really captures that in his magazine.  Also in attendance the badass physical therapist who can also run and ride a bike pretty darn good, Clint Verran.  This guy is a genius in so many ways.  I don't trust very many people but Clint I trust.  So far everything he has ever told me has come true.  All throughout my knee surgery recovery, he's told me the truth and what to expect and he's been dead on.  He also gave me some tips going into the Barry Roubaix that helped out a lot.  And of course, we both enjoyed the post race festivities!
 So cheers!  The 2012 season is officially underway.  I am restarting my training plan from Curt Wilhelm the Mountain bike coach, in prep for my A race the Lumberjack 100.  I have a couple weeks off to pack in some miles before my next race which is the Yankee Springs time trial.  It will be my first race as a Cat 1.


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