Monday, September 1, 2014

Rio Baby!


                It’s safe to say August has been a crazy month.  A lot happened during the second half of the month...moved into a new apartment, went to Brazil for vacation, and got a new job.  Although all of these things are positives, it was a very stressful month.  I’m looking forward to a relaxing September with lots of cross riding!  Yes, I said it.  I’m going to race cross this year.  I use the term race very loosely though.
 
                Brazil was the trip of a lifetime!  There is nothing like having 10 close friends from college travel to Rio for vacation.  The trip started out with a welcoming party where we got a taste of the signature drink of Brazil, capahrina.  It’s made from their most popular distilled liquor, Cacha├ža.  Man, are they dangerous!  They make you brave enough to Samba dance in front of Brazilians!  Unfortunately, they don’t make you any better at it...

 
              Brazil has the most gorgeous beaches and the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen!  The sidewalks are all made out of small pieces of stone with different designs in each area…so cool looking!  One of our first touristy stops was to see the Christ the Redeemer statue.  Unfortunately when we got to the top the clouds had rolled in and we couldn’t see the view.  We did get the gorgeous view from the top of Sugarloaf mountain though.  It was amazing!  I can see why people in Rio call it the best view...You could see everything! 

 
                The reason we were all in this amazing city was for our friend Donna's wedding.  The wedding took place in this gorgeous, small church outside of Rio.  It was a fairly tale wedding.  The pictures don't do it justice!  Brazilian weddings are a little different from US weddings.  There are no speeches and no sit down dinners.  Waiters and waitresses come around with little food trays.  It's endless tapas and, of course, endless champagne/alcohol.  I think everyone at the wedding had their fair share of both!
 


Best cake topper ever!
 
                Although the trip was amazing it’s good to be back home!  The cross bike has been cleaned…now it’s time to get it dirty and start racing!



 
 
 
 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A year for first

These past few years, I've raced the ACA Oval series at the Bud Harris Cycling Oval (a half mile asphalt track). The series is a weekly training race that runs from April to the end of August. With points accumulating from June to the end of August. Each of these years, at the end of the series, I've finished 4th with no true individual wins. Although, I've come close a few times. With finishing 4th in the Juniors, C's (beginner class), and the B's (the sport/or intermediate class). Last year I was glad to help my teammate Devin compete for the overall (who sadly was beat out by our new teammate this year, Nate Clair), and to help earn our team the team championship (based on the points of the top three racers on a team per race). 
This year I started off actually doing both races on Wednesday nights; both the A's (the expert class) and the B's (with the occasional win in the B's). I was feeling pretty good and I thought that I'd have a chance at helping Nate and Devin in the A's. Though after a crash on a mountain bike ride, I took a week off. Then I raced the B's to see how I felt and to make sure I wasn't overlooking an injury. With a win in the B race, I was thinking I would have a chance at the overall. After talking it over with teammates, I was still contemplating whether to help them in the A's or go for the overall in the B's. I have some awesome teammates that offered to help me with the overall if I chose to.  
After racing for just over a month and a couple more wins I was sitting in 3rd overall. However; with 3 of us within 5 points (a maximum of 10 points a race) from each other, things would be interesting going into the final month of racing. With the help from some of the most awesome teammates; helping me keep calm in the race, advising on my tactics throughout the race, and ultimately providing me with a great lead out in the final lap. Without their help, I wouldn't have been as fortunate to win the overall. A big thank you to Devin, Ej, Jeff, and Nate. Thanks to Kenda Volares for keeping me rubber side down, Nalini Custom for keeping me comfortable on the bike, and for Pro Gold keeping my bike running smoothly.
Some awesome teammates take the 5 Mile Team Time Trial Champions 2014

2014 Gateway Cup




So, my August was very uneventful from a biking perspective before Labor Day weekend.  But on the other hand it was a great rest month to prepare for cyclocross season.  Going into the weekend I was a little concerned for my bike fitness since most of my exercise during July and August was going running or playing Ultimate Frisbee.  So I went for a short ride on Wednesday, I felt fine so I was less worried for the weekend.






Friday evening was the first crit of the weekend which was the Tour de Lafayette.  I have never done this race because I could never make it in time for my race, but last year I remembered the change to central time would help me make it in plenty of time without having to leave too early in the morning.  The race was fun, but I could tell I hadn't race in a while especially race in a big field.  My race had 43 3/4 women.  Being toward the back of the pack was concerning so I spent most of my time toward the front because many women were not used to cornering in a group that big.  Coming into one lap to go, I was moving up to toward the front following someone else, but they stopped moving up halfway up the pack so I attacked around to the very front so I wouldn't be pinched into corner 1.  Someone else pulled around me just after that to hope to make a gap from the group but she took a bad line through corner 2 causing us to go onto the rough and lose all our momentum.  The pack had her lead the rest of the lap until just before corner 4 into the finish stretch where everyone took off into a sprint but I was tired so I finished toward the back of the field.  But my past teammate Vanessa got 1st, yay!

Saturday was the second crit of the weekend which was the Tour de Francis Park.  This race started off with me and my friend Karen leading the first lap while catching up how each other has been since the last time I saw her at the end of June.  After that the race pace picked up but I still spent a lot of time toward the front of the pack because a few women still were not holding their lines through the corners.  I'm not sure what was happening to everyone during the race but in the second half of the race there seemed to be one or two women coming in from the pit every lap.  This was started off with a crash in turn 3 about half way through the race I was just in front and to the outside of this so I was fortunate to not be behind this when someone crashed when pinched into the corner.  After another couple of laps I went to the front to push the pace a little faster and then about half way down the 3rd straight two women went down hard taking a few others with them.  The two that went down hard remained down on the course for the rest of the race being assessed by medical.  On the last lap just before turn 3, my friend/past teammate Kelly went to the front to lead out her teammate (also my past teammate) Vanessa.  Vanessa got 2nd, Kelly got 5th, and then with my so-so position into the sprint I got 13th out of 40.

Sunday was the third crit of the weekend which was the Giro della Montagna.  This race is in the neighborhood called The Hill.  Compared to Pittsburgh the "hill" on the course is nothing, but it is significant to make the race interesting and a little harder for people to just sit in the pack.  I've never been good at this course because of the downhill the leads into the finish line.  Having a good finish is all about having good position into the last corner rather than how good you are at sprinting.  Since I never seem to have good position into the last corner I make up for it on other courses by sprinting faster.  Based on the crashes Saturday I again did not want to be toward the back which was a good choice because there was a crash mid way up the straight uphill with 4 laps to go.  I do not understand the crashes on the straights but something had to happen.  Vanessa got 2nd again, Kelly went on vacation so she wasn't there, and I got 18th out of 41.





Monday will be the Benton Park Classic, which has always been my favorite race of the weekend.  Ten corner figure eight course, I am so excited! But based on the field over the weekend I will again be trying to spend most of the race toward the front of the pack to hopefully avoid a crash that may happen toward the back.







My 2014 Race Season Via Music



5 Mile Team Time Trial Champions 2014

So, I had an idea for this month’s blog as I was marshaling the Appalachia Visited Road Race earlier in the month….in lieu of writing the same old type of blog this month, I thought I would share with you how I have felt my 2014 season has gone thus far via song. Enjoy the music and listen to the lyrics of each song, and I hope that you had the same take away in regards to each as I did……






January 2014

February 2014

March 2014
I Alone

April 2014
I Am the Highway

May 2014
Beast of Burden

June 2014
Wheels

July 2014
Drinkem Drankem Drunkem

August 2014
Savior



Fruits Of My Labors


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Daddy / Daughter MTB day


This past Saturday mommy had to work so Addie and I decided to get in a little nature time.  We picked out some easy trails close to home that we could both enjoy.  We knew it was going to be a hot day so we also had to make sure there would be a water source close by to cool off in. 



We both like to explore so finding new trails is always fun.  And when you get out in the woods nature always has something to offer you.  On this particular ride a little fawn enjoying her morning breakfast of flowers took an interest in us.  She actually let us get within feet of her.  It was really cool.

 
We mostly try to remember to say a word of prayer before heading out on a ride because you never know what could happen.  This summer we have experience cracked ribs, separated shoulder, stitches, chipped teeth, etc. so praying before rides have become part of our routine.  On this day we happened to find giant praying hands to pray beside.


Part of the enjoyment in mountain biking is finding various obstacles to ride.  However, the trails we picked out on this day did not offer much in the way of obstacles.  The one thing we did find though was a hiking trail that offered a descent onto a humped bridge that gave you a roller coaster effect. 



So I am not sure I would call this ride and “epic” ride.  However, it was definitely an “epic” day.  Nothing beats daddy and daughter time together on a gorgeous day out in nature exploring and witnessing all of God’s wonderful creations.



Thanks for reading.

 


Saturday, August 23, 2014

North Carolina vacation

Last week Anne and I went on vacation in the Asheville, NC area. Lots of folks are confused by my concept of a vacation because all I want to do is train in order to explore new areas. I didn't get in as much training as I really wanted but I was certainly able to get out more than with a typical week. We kayaked a couple times, which was fantastic because I rarely go. On several days I was able to trail run, which is my favorite endurance activity. It was a miracle that I stayed uninjured! I was sad that I hadn't brought my mountain bike though. I did not encounter much technical trail terrain and rarely any true single track but it was great to be in the woods so much. One day I found a 50 meter outdoor pool to do a few swim laps and it was only $3.00 to get in. At that point I considered moving there! After a swim I did a pretty hard ride down the Blue Ridge Parkway though sadly my Strava results don't do my effort justice. There have been so many cyclists on the parkway in the past couple years. Another day I found a couple of the local dirt roads to take the Cannondale SuperX down. The climbs are are longer down there but far more gradual than we have around the Morgantown area. At the end of the week we traveled to Lake Lure where I had initially intended to do a triathlon. It was a beautiful venue. After much deliberation I opted to run the Lake Lure 10K Dam Run on Friday night instead of participating in the triathlon. A long time has passed since the last time I ran an open 10K but I'm glad I did it because I was able to win the race in 35:10 after fighting off some of the local running talent. After each day's training we'd check out one of Asheville's many excellent restaurants and try out some of the local microbrews. Asheville is definitely a very nice area to check out if you are an outdoorsy person.


Kayaking the French Broad River

Kayaking Lake Lure

Interesting fountain I want at Biltmore Estate

10K podium

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Windham World Cup

After nationals, the next big race was the Windham World Cup in New York. The interesting thing about this race is that everybody does the same course. So that really fast guy, Nino Schurter, I got to race on the same course as him. The sad part about this race, its the last mountain bike race of the season. 


I went into this race telling myself I was just there for fun. All of the stress from training and Nationals was enough for one season, and I just wanted to relax and race my bike. I pre-rode the course on Friday morning with Veda and her dad, Glenn, and just rode however I wanted. We practiced a couple of the technical sections a few times, then headed back to the cabin to hangout. 

Temporary Home
The course is pretty short at just over 3 miles, and with only 3 laps my race ended up being a really short 9.21 miles, according to my garmin. Its not an easy 3 miles though, thats for sure. I racked up a serious 1919.3 feet of climbing over those 9.21 miles, it was rough. The downhills were sweet though, so it was worth it. There were a few technical sections, but none of it was too challenging. Overall, the course was pretty smooth and fast. 

I raced on Saturday at 10:30am, but I was over at the race venue at 8:00 to watch Veda race. I was killing some time riding around talking to different people I knew from the Talent ID Camp, and just enjoying the day. I did some hill sprints to warm up for my race, then went and sat at staging for a while. I was relaxed for the race, but I was still going to get a good start. It started off pretty hard on the hill, 2 guys off the front, but not too far. I passed one and caught the other, a friend from camp named Lucas, before the top of the hill. I jumped in front of Lucas right at the top of the climb and stayed there until the bottom of the descent. I went through the feedzone, getting my bottle and starting up the climb for the second time. Unfortunately, I was getting tired of climbing and Lucas was not. He pulled away from me about halfway through the climb and then I was sitting in second. Another person passed me part of the way down the descent and I was determined not to get too far behind him. I sat on his tail all the way down the descent and at the bottom we had caught up to Lucas. Again, I cruised through the feedzone, but this time I had to stop to fix a small chain problem and then get going again. The third time up the hill was a bit rough and I was not able to catch the 2 leaders, but nobody was in sight behind me. I got to the top of the climb, excited to fly down the hill and finish the race. I came across the line with a quick wheelie, and the race was over. I was kinda sad about not being able to ride the downhill more, but I was really happy that I didnt have to climb the hill anymore. 

Post Race Meal =
 Bacon Cheesburger
After waiting for about two hours for the podium, I finally got on and put my hands in the air. After the podium, I talked to the guy from Kenda Tires(sorry, I forget his name) about my setup and some of the new stuff they are coming out with. Then headed back to the cabin to get clean and take a nap. 

Me in 3rd, Lucas in 2nd, and Zeke in 1st
After my nap my dad and I headed back to the venue to watch the Redbull Berm Burners competition which was pretty awesome, and then went to get some food in town. Back at the cabin after dinner, I got the majority of my stuff packed up so I would be ready to put it all in the trailer and roll out in the morning. 

On Sunday, out last day, we went to watch the u23 men and the pro women race. They were pretty freakin fast. After their races, we hopped in the van for the long seven hour drive home. The most exciting part of the van ride home was probably playing Sonic Racing on the PS3 with Veda. I crushed her a few times and that's all I have to say about that. We arrived home around 1:00 in the morning and I was tired as heck! After a short reflection on the four days behind me, I fell asleep. 

Perfect Weather
I can't wait to go back again next year!

Thanks to Kenda Tires for keeping me on my line with the Slant Six tires, Cannandale for keeping my head safe and cool with the Cypher Helmet, and ProGold for keeping my bike squeaky clean with all their products!