Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012 Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling p/b Pathfinder

Just wanted to say how excited I am to be part of the 2012 Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling p/b Pathfinder. A very big thank you shout out to all our sponsors. I am really looking forward to racing with all my friends on the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team p/b Pathfinder in 2012 and also getting to know my new team members.

Happy Holidays,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter is almost here

Howdy folks - Mike here as a new addition to the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling p/b Pathfinder team for 2012. I am stoked to be a part of such a visible group of like-minded cyclists - we love to ride our bikes!

Anyway, cyclocross season ended a little earlier than expected this year for some, but that doesn't mean riding the bike is any less of a focus. Nope, drop bars, cantilevers, tubular knobbies, and super-intense hour-efforts have been swapped-out for riser bars, disc brakes, bigger tyres, and one gear for the foreseeable future. Time for long, slow (read: you know, "tempo") rides that take up most of the waning daylight hours (and then some...bring a CamelBak).

Mile 21 - Looking upstream into the Cheat River canyon

For the past few weekends, I've been on the "solo ridge loop kick" as I like to call it. What this means is taking the singlespeed 29er out the front door and getting immersed in the local watersheds here in the good ol' Belgium of North America for 6 hours or so before putting the key in the lock again. I don't really like to ride by myself, but when everybody else is out racin' cross and you can't go - what else are you gonna do?

And now we're looking towards Cooper's Rock State Forest

Plus, we're lucky to have such great riding here, where we can ride from the lowland rivers to headwater streams, over and over again without missing a beat and with a minimum of pavement. So it's good public service to take advantage of it. Traffic isn't bad either. I've done a particular ride the past three weekends and have maybe been passed by 50 cars going in the same direction. 50 might sound like a lot, but seriously - getting passed by an average of 17 cars per 55 miles and 6000' of up and down sounds pretty good to me. Come on over to West Virginia and do some pedaling - there's plenty of miles to be had here off the all-too-beaten path. Get into that rhythm that only long rides can deliver.

Mile 26 - Looking downstream into the Big Sandy Gorge

The winter solstice is just a few days away. Hopefully the weather holds out for at least one more weekend, as the mountains are already getting covered with snow. During my last long ride, I ended up hiking a few miles of uphill singletrack due to this very phenomenon. Then I crashed hard on a steep gravel descent when the entire road surface turned to ice, which resulted in one very bruised elbow and a cracked helmet. The helmet I can replace, the elbow I'm not so sure...

Regardless, it was a great weekend to get out on two wheels before succombing to the skis and the dreaded indoor not-really-riding for the winter. The photos in this post are of the Cheat River Canyon, the Big Sandy Gorge, and the end of a trail that winds through a virgin eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) forest up to Chestnut Ridge. Now if only we'd get enough snow to traverse this loop on skis...better get another headlamp.

Up in the Little Laurel Run headwaters - Mile 37...
...and still a long way to go!

Happy holidays all and 'til next time - long live long rides!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

That's a wrap!

Yesterday officially marked the end of a very very long trying race season for me.. Cross you kicked my ass! The whole 3 races I managed to drag myself to. Time for some new lofty goals, shedding of extra poundage and saying Thanks and Bye's to friends until next year.

JR- Thanks for putting together a team this year and for all of the support. I tried my hardest to get to as many races as possible but work and play seemed to get in each others way too often. To the rest of my team mates.. Thanks for loaner shoes and bibs, the rope wrapped around my bars at Hilly Billy and Green County and especially to all of our sponsors.

Honestly I'm glad its over now... all that 'training' and stuff that yer supposed to do prior to racing- well that never happened this year. So I've got some ground to make up over the next few months. Next week all of my bike-packing gear should be in... I'm going to go ponder life in the backwoods and hopefully come out a little stronger and lighter next year. Hopefully-

Thanks again everyone!!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Collegiate Season Recap and Nationals lowdown

So, since its been a while since my last update, I’ll give the condensed version of what has been going on up until Collegiate Nationals this past weekend.

After pretty much following in step with the ABRA and WVMBA calendars for the entire season, I took a turn and, rather than racing some super fun cross races within an hour of home, decided to spend my weekends high on coffee and nutella driving up and down the east coast to participate in the collegiate racing series. As a student at WVU, I have the awesome opportunity to continue to race mountain bikes until the end of October therefore extending my already long mountain season by about a month.

I posted some serious results during the collegiate season taking multiple wins and never anything less than a 3rd place finish. The season rounded out with the WVU home race at Wisp Resort on October 15-16 serving as the conference championship. Taking an early lead on lap one of the three lap 26 mile XC race, I took the win by around 10 minutes. The course was great and suited me well being fairly climbing with a 2.5 mile long climb leading to the finish. Later that afternoon, I also competed in the short track race on top of the mountain where I tore apart the race by lapping the entire field. The course was, again, great. It was definitely a power course providing huge opportunities to lay down some serious wattage and make some big moves. It also had a nice big rock garden tossed in to keep thing interesting for both racers and spectators alike.

So, after all of the conundrums that come with traveling 4-6 hours every weekend and hosting a race it was time to get focused for the National Championship. Seeing as we would be heading to nearly 9000 feet at Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico, I knew I was going to need to take some serious fitness with me in order to try and negate the effects of the altitude as much as possible. Competing against guys from Colorado means that, all else constant, they have a 10% advantage on me just from living and training at elevation consistently. However, Coach Rob knew this all too well and set me up with a serious workout plan for the two weeks to get me in shape for a National level race. With a painful bliss, I hammered out interval after interval until it was time to hop on the plane to Albuquerque.
After too many hours of plane, airport, and car we arrived at the resort. Upon arrival I received a visual reminder of the elevation. Snow not only dusted but coated the top of the mountain about 1500 vertical feet above the base of the resort. I saw this as no big deal until I came to realize that the XC race snaked its way up through the woods all the way to the peak. That left some decisions to be made on clothing. Too little and I would be a popsicle at the top but too much and I may end up a cold, sweaty gym sock.

I headed out for my initial preride of the course on Wednesday afternoon which my youtube video does a good job of describing and showing. At that point, the course was awesome. Not too muddy and pretty tacky. However, when we woke up Thursday morning it was a different a story. Old man winter paid Angel Fire an early visit and left the town covered in 6ish inches of snow. I headed down to the bike shop to see what was going on in terms of course conditions and was told that they were cleaning the course with shovels and snow blowers. So after waiting a few hours for things to get cleaned up and taking time to throw on a tackier rear tire I headed out for preride number two. This time things proved entirely different. The course was not only covered in snow but also beginning to turn into a quagmire. The climb up wasn’t too bad but the descent was absolutely terrible and left me covered in a sticky, constantly hardening clay. At that point I realized that not only would the race be a physical test of ability but also a mental test of sheer desire.

Our condo was nicely placed two hops and a jump away from the start so there was no rush in the morning to get ready for the race. After getting up around 7 AM to eat, I milled around the place, watched some TV, and slowly got my cloths ready. Around 10:45 I headed down to get warmed up and check out the course and it’s a good thing too! On the ride over I noticed some shifting problems, which ended up being caused by a tweaked hanger. Thanks to the handy guys from Shimano though I had a new hanger slapped on and was warming up by 11:15.

The start went off with a bang at 12:05 and it wasn’t even 30 seconds before I was off the bike. Starting 3 rows deep and in the middle of the pack, I couldn’t get a line to the outside around the madness of lost traction and was forced to dismount with many others on the first climb. I hustled up, went cross eyed, and ran my butt off to get around and in front of most of the madness. Maybe 3 minutes later I was off the bike again, running with everyone else through ankle deep muck. The course had already had 2 races and nearly 100 riders over it 5 times before we hit it so things were just an absolute crap shoot. I ran hard, rode harder, and crashed even harder until I found myself finishing the first lap of three in 12th place. Riding solid behind two University of Colorado guys for most of lap two, I was able to keep a good pace with them and pass one at the top of the climb. I chased the other one, going back and forth with him, for the last lap until he got a lead on me in the final descent and then sealed the deal when I overshot the last muddy turn and hit the deck. Being my first National level event and first event at altitude, I can’t complain about my 11th place finish although I do wish I could have reeled in that UC rider.

Saturday brought the short track and another chance for me to try myself in a huge field. With 71 starters on the line I was more than nervous given the speed of a short track. When the gun went off I punched the gas and immediately began elbowing my way to the outside. We started into a climb again and there was no way I was getting stuck behind a bunch of guys slower than me again! I found a Fort Lewis wheel and let me lead me towards the front. Whoever the kid was, he was riding super well and I was hoping to hold his wheel for most of the race however he gave it a little more gas than I had at one point and I lost him. Midrace or so I made a move for the top five. I was feeling good so I launched an attack, which was unfortunately thwarted by fatigue and the altitude. I ended up dropping back to 12th where I remained for the rest of the race. Again, I am super happy with this result given the many firsts but was a little disappointed that my A game didn’t show up for the short track.

Overall, the mountain bike season was pretty good to me. Being my first “serious” year on the bike and training I have to say I am stoked to look back and see what I accomplished. I don’t think it is quite time to hang up the race shoes for the year yet though…..I mean, there is still cross! Well, back to the airport and homework!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Late Season Recap

After (20+) races in the spring and summer, fall is a nice break for me. I get to spend extra time with the family, go on vacation, and pretty much catch up on all the things I put off all summer and even have surgery so for the most part no bike riding.

Well, as October rolls around, the 1st Abra Cyclocross race is approaching. I got to spin a few times the week before, and can immediately tell it has been awhile since any real riding has taken place. I converted the Cx to SS, and took it racing. I showed up just outside of Mount Morris, PA. It was cold and raining which was a great way for me to fudge my fitness and try to make up with my riding skills. We took off in the single speed race, Marc Glass gets the hole shot, and I’m right behind in 2nd. We run most of the 1st lap like that, until I found myself drifting backwards in the pack, and in the red very quickly. The gear I had chosen was a little steep for the conditions, and with my lack of fitness I just tried to suffer through it. I finished 10th with my teammate, Gunnar, taking the win. I watched the vet race, and considered going home because I was cold and tired from the first race, but about 5 minutes from the start of 3/4 race my buddy Tim (Gregis Insurance) offered to let me race his sweet IBIS. I swapped pedals quickly and to the start line I went. As we took off I got a good start. I battled back and forth with a few guys, and was able to take 4th on the day. I was happy to just be out riding bikes and having fun.

Round 2 of Abra Monster Cross Day 1

After a few more rides during the week, I made my way to the 1st day of Monster Cross just outside of Morgantown (about 15 min drive from my house, Thanks JR). I once again signed up for Single Speed. We took off, and from the gun Stevo and Gunnar have it pinned. I don’t see them long so I decide to ride my own pace. The conditions were cold with a little mud and wind, but overall still a nice day for a bike race. During the middle of the race my Ebb slips and I had a good bit of chain binding, so I decided to pull out. I had brought my new MT bike, and thought I would race it just to try it out in the ¾ race. I got a good call up, and to the line I go. The race started and I’m able to get a great start and take the hole shot. I really cornered the turns with my fat tires well and made a nice lead. I was able to keep for about ½ of the lap. I then started to slowly drift back. After 3 laps on the run up, I went to shoulder my bike and could tell the mud was really packing in so I made a switch back over to my SS cx bike and was able to pick a few spots back up to finish 7th. I worked on Sunday and missed day 2 of Monster Cross.

Round 4 of Abra Bruceton CX

I traveled to Bruceton Mills to the Park’s farm for Round #4 of the Abra CX Series. I decided to skip the single speed race, and put gears back on the caad 9. By the time the 3/4 race started at 1:15 p.m., I was able to slip into shorts and a jersey. I tried to get a good warm up in and then finally I headed to the line with a good group of fast 3/4 ‘s. I once again got the whole shot and held it for about 1./2 a lap. I overcooked it a little trying to stay up front and had to back off a little on the 2nd lap. About 20 minutes into the race, I started to feel a little better and was able to reel a few guys back in. The course was super-fast and fun. I finished 7th once again. I lined up in the 123 race a few minutes later. I started in the back, and pretty much stayed there. A lot of HP in this group, I just worked on spinning and riding the barriers. I even got to make a few laps on my road bike. All in all, it was a great race!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

A great weekend for the team!

Cyclocross season has just been outstanding so far in 2011 for Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling! This past weekend the team captured 5 out of the possible 9, West Virginia Cyclocross State Championships titles!

Men Cat 1/2/3 - Gunnar Shogren
Women Cat 1/2/3 - Betsy Shogren
Men Cat 3/4 - Derek Clark
Women Cat 4 - Nicole Dorinzi
Single Speed - Gunnar Shogren

That is not all! Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling also after this past weekend leads the high coveted ABRA CX Team Points Competition and many of the individual series classes! Outstanding!

ABRA Team Championship Points Totals After Round # 3
Place TEAM Points
1 Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling 209
2 Breakaway Velo 198
3 Top Gear 171
4 Ag3r/ Butler Health System 149
5 Pathfinder of Morgantown 132
6 Team CF 100
7 Pitt Cycling 78
8 Beaver Valley Velo 62
9 Steel City Endurance 55
10 JBV Coaching 20
11 DPS Penn/Cannondale 31

Here are some photos from this past weekend! Photos by Fred Jordan!

Thanks to our great sponsors who help make it possible!
Dynamic Physical Therapy
Tomac Bikes
Kenda Tires
Red Rose Imports
Nalini Custom
Industry Nine
Superior Ford of Morgantown
Performance Coaching Services
Gregis Insurance
Raw Revolution
Pathfinder of WV
Mike Miller Dentistry
Edward Jones Investments

Monday, September 5, 2011

Appalachia Visited Road Race

The Appalachia Visited Road Race and WV State Championship did not begin as well as I had planned. I had been looking forward to this race all season. The course is great-- 60 miles of nice roads with long climbs, and twisty fast downhills. It has been my favorite road race of JR's since winning it last year as a Cat 5.

Racing Advice: Don't miss the start.

Usually I warm up too early for a race and find that my heart rate has dropped to resting levels by the time the field of riders starts. So, this race I decided to warm up a little later, roll up to the start and begin racing with an elevated heart rate. However, as I rolled into the start I realized by JR's glance back at me that I had just missed it.

I quickly began chasing the field of Cat 4/5, but never got any closer to the front pack than occasionally spotting the wheel car on long straight stretches of road. I managed to pick up a few other racers for some company along the way.

So, with one objective out of reach, I kept my racing efforts with the hope of gaining enough points in the race to move myself from an overall series 17th place into the top 10 of the ABRA Cat 4/5 class. After chasing most of the race, I crossed the finish about as worn out as I have ever been to finish just well enough to pick up the points I needed to finish 10th in the series...preseason goal: met.

ABRA's 2011 Appalachian Road Race Series has been fun. A big thanks goes out to JR and Gina for their hard work organizing the events, Dynamic Physical Therapy for their support, PathfinderWV for the bike and its maintenance, Camelbak for keeping us hydrated, Swifwick for warm arms and comfy feet, and all our other sponsors and volunteers who have helped provide the team with a great road race season.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Appalachia Visited Road Race

Appalachia Visited Road Race was a scenic course throughout some of the best country/river side in the entire state of West Virginia (but could we really expect any less from JR Petsko)! I was looking forward to this race the entire season. I knew with the distance and amount of climbing, this course would give me a great opportunity to end the ABRA road racing series on a high note! I pre-rode the course because I have not ridden the roads in the area much. I was really pumped up after my pre-ride and couldn’t wait for Saturday. During the race, I felt strong and kept up with my eating and water intake. It was great weather. Up the last climb, I felt the work of the last week in my legs but powered through. After getting up the last climb, it was downhill to the finish. While descents are being a part of my riding that I wish to improve upon, I was able to maneuver some tight hair-pin turns and was happy with my finish. I got 3rd place in the race, good for a silver medal in the state as well!

I ended up winning the ABRA road racing Women Category 4 series (I upgraded for the last 2 races of the series) and 3rd place overall for Category 1,2,3 Women series. As I reflect on the season, I am happy with the progress of my racing. From started to cycle just last July to my first road race in May of this year, I have grown as a racer in my mentality and power on the bike. Thanks to the entire Dynamic Physical Therapy Team for giving me this opportunity and creating a family environment with your immense support. As always, thanks to our sponsors this year! We couldn’t have been as successful without you. I am ready for cyclocross!!!

Post by Nicole D.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stonewall Jackson Triathlon

So I'm taking a little different approach to this blog post: it's about a triathlon and not a cycling race! Yes, yes. I realize this is a "cycling" team. But JR told me I could! Anyway, just this past weekend I had the pleasure of doing the Stonewall Jackson Triathlon at Stonewall Resort. Overall, Setup Events (which is based in the Carolinas) runs an excellent competition and I've never been let down by their organization. The event was sort of a mutant of a sprint distance and an international distance with a 1000 meter swim, 26 mile bike and 4 mile run. I'm a fan of longer events but I won't turn down a nice triathlon just because it's shorter. Nonetheless, the venue was very beautiful and is probably the best triathlon we have in West Virginia.

I felt a little rushed all morning prior to the race and barely managed to make the 8:00 AM start time for the first wave. Men under 39 would go out first. My swim, which was largely a straight out and back course, would take 14:36. While there was a little rough contact during the swim, I managed to drop several people after the turnaround point, which is good for me because I'm a non-swimmer. I ended up having the 5th fastest swim of the day, which was positive for me in that short of a distance.

My first transition was slow at 1:23 because I was being clumsy with my equipment but once out on the bike I always start to feel a little more comfortable. Initially my girlfriend informed me that I was 90 seconds behind the leader, which I thought was favorable. Almost immediately I began to ride up a gradual and longer climb, making the early transition to cycling a little tougher. I passed two people in the first mile. After that though, I didn't see a single competitor until I was returning at the end of the rolling bike loop. Typically, in large races of 2000-3000 people I'll pass athletes from the start to the finish of the bike ride so to be alone for the entire ride is a little frustrating and makes one question if they are being successful. Ultimately, my ride time would be 1:11:31, for the 4th fastest bike split.

My second transition went much better at 29 seconds. I knew I would have to take the run out hard to have any success. The first mile was somewhere under 6 minutes but didn't feel great. I saw race leader Thomas Wood with a sizable lead prior to the turnaround and realized his gap was to large make up in a such a short run. I caught Andrew Cochran just after the turnaround. My run time would be 23:42, for the 2nd fastest run time and a 2nd overall finish in 1:51:39. Next month I'll be at Ironman Augusta 70.3, which I'm looking forward to because I had a PR for that distance there in 2010.

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 Appalachia Visited / WV Road Race Championship

This past weekend was the series finale for the 2011 ABRA Road Series, as well as the West Virginia Road Rac Championship. I lined up with Todd in the 3-4 race, which was started with the 1-2-3 field. There were 20 in my field, as well as 12 1-2-3's. To start out, the pace was average, with the usual Iron City solo attack from mile 0. At about mile 5 2 1-2-3's rolled off the front, which caused a few in my race to attempt to bridge so I went with them. We got right up to the 1-2-3's and started working together real nicely. We soon were out of sight of the main field and kept a fast tempo up the first gradual climb, down the short, steep decent and up the first steep climb of the day. Somewhere in the middle of this fast, 7-man break Jacob Y from Iron City and I pondered what we were doing in this move but kept with it. A group of 3 riders came up to us about 2-miles from the crest of the hill, which upped te pace a little more. Another few riders made it across near the top, too. We rolled over the top of the highest point in the race, having dropped 2 riders from our move and sped down the decent. Once we got to the flat section, we were all back together in our lead group and ratcheted-up the speed once again. We rolled along the flat section into the feed zone and had gained about 5 more riders but kept pushing the pace, knowing that the decisive moves would come on the final climb of the day. As the climb started, Matt Phillips, AKA Michael Rasmussen Jr. Took a flyer and instantly opened a gap. The field gradually picked up the pace and it was game on! I was able to hang on for the first mile but then lost the wheel of the rider in front of me. The gap to the next 3 riders stayed at about 15 seconds for the next 10 minutes, but then started to widen as they kept their form and I lost mine. Knowing I was in the red zone, I tried to ride my own tempo up the rest of the climb so I could hammer the decent to the finish. From this point on, I rode solo, not seeing another racer until the finish. I love the final decent back to town, with its many sharp turns, followed by steep straightaways. I ended up ahead of the series winner, but not far enough to surpass him. I finished 2nd in the state, as well as in the series overall, despite finishing outside the points in 2 races and missing a third all-together! In the end, it was a good race for me - I was active and attentive all day, but just didn't have the legs to stay with the lead group on the final climb. Next up is the state time trial race in September, back in beautiful Rowlesburg, WV.

Thanks for reading,


An Ultra Good Time!

Well, I just found this blog in the depths of my Dropbox. Guess I forgot to post right after the race but better late than never! Happy reading.

After fairing well at the Whiteface 100K in Lake Placid earlier in the summer and pulling off a top ten finish, I decided to see if my legs were, in fact, build for the endurance racing scene. So, on August 6th I took an early morning trip up to Big Bear Camplands to take part in the fun, daylong event that is the Big Bear Ultra. The Ultra is a 50 mile mountain bike race but, unlike Whiteface, it is entirely in the woods on twisty, fast singletrack with only maybe a mile total of fire road. Basically, it is two laps that makes use of every trail Big Bear has to offer. Never having done a trail based endurance event, I was a little nervous considering I am not the strongest technical rider. However, I was hoping my peak summer fitness combined with my moderate handling skills would be enough to get me through.
So after a way too early 5 AM breakfast and a 6:30 AM departure, it was off to Big Bear for a long day of fun. I absolutely hate getting up that early to eat but I tend to benefit from a little extra digestion time so its always worth the lost hour of sleep. The hour drive from my parents’ house in Fairmont where I had been the night before only allowed the anticipation and excitement to build even more and by the time I stepped out of the car in Bruceton Mills I was full of energy and ready to hit the trail.
The start lap sent us on a prologue down through the cracked rock trail (pretty sure thats the name). I was less than happy with this considering it is super technical and I have never made it through with less than at least one goof up. I figured that, being 50 miles, at least I would have plenty of time to catch up after this section. As we dropping down into the trail however, I found myself sitting around 3rd or 4th wheel. Being up front, I knew the pressure was on the pay attention and keep the pace as to not cause a disconnect in the group and subsequent pile ups. We were definitely going way out of my comfort zone but I was handling it fairly well. All of the sudden, Montana Miller made some type of uncharacteristic, silly mistake and went down right in front of me. We were not even 5 miles in and people were already dropping like flies! Luckily, I was able to unclip a foot and scooter bike around him but it totally killed my flow. Sure enough, I made it another 100 yards and, like clock work, went over the bars. No damage done, except to my pride, but it really sucked because all of the crashing was letting people get further off the front of the group. After recovering my bottles from the ground and taking some heckling from teammate Gunnar Shogren, I hopped back on my bike and started back down the trail. Luckily, I was close to the end of the trail section so my chances of biting the dust again were lessened. As we climbed out of the valley that the cracked rock trail laid in, I found myself slightly further back in the field sitting around 10th. Normally, I would be worried about being this far back but, with 50 miles still ahead of me, I was not too worried about taking back most of those spots.
The following 6 or so miles of trail proved to be fairly difficult and I found myself hopping off the bike several times to run a rock garden or squeeze through a tight section. However, I did still manage to move myself up in the field during this time and worked into 5th place. Finally, I popped out of the singletrack and onto the long fire road climb that lead back out of the valley we had descended into. Per my usual game plan, I found my favorite gear and started spinning myself up the climb. As I rounded one of the large sweeping turns in the climb I noticed Michael Mihalic up ahead of me. With my legs feeling super fresh, I started to reel him in. After about 15 minutes or so I had pulled myself up to his wheels. After riding alone all morning it was nice to be in a group, be it only a duo, and have someone to chat with. We cruised along and took turns setting a modest pace for the rest of lap one. Near the end of the lap, we even caught back up to Gunnar and were able to all three ride together.
Around what I would guess was 11:00 AM or so we arrived back at the staging area to begin our second lap. After grabbing some fresh bottles and food from my dad (Thanks dad!) I got ready to roll out for lap two. The Shogren-Latocha-Mihalic trio managed to pick up a 4th man on the way out of the staging area as we were joined by Montana Miller who had just gotten into the feed zone right before us. The four of us rolled out and were having a real blast riding together, chatting, and listen to Gunnar heckle Montana who was doing the pace setting. It wasn’t long however until our happy group began to fall apart. At about 20 minutes into lap 2 Mihalic flatted and had to pull off the group. Then, not even 10 minutes later, Gunnar popped his chain off and had to stop to repair it leaving just Montana and myself to work together. Realizing that I was now in 3rd overall and 2nd in my category, I decided to let Montana set the pace and not take and dumb chances. At that point I was not sure if I could hold Montana off for the remainder of the lap. As we came to the next gravel section however, I saw it as a good chance to use my gears to my advantage and took off. I established a good gap before entering the woods again but, still feeling good, I decided to just stay on the gear and see what unfolded. I couldn’t believe how awesome I felt at the point and sort of just wanted to see how long this groove I was feeling would last.
Around mile 30 or so I got a time split from a volunteer of about 3.5 minutes. Still feeling great, I decided to see if I could reel back in Tim Carson who had been off the front alone for most of the day. I figured with no one to relay his gap to him, he would most likely have trouble making sure he held a fast enough pace to stay away. I started to ramp it up at this point and was sort of impressed with myself and how well I was handling the terrain. I had decided at the beginning of the week to take a break from the road bike to get ready for the Ultra. So instead if my usual regimen of hill repeats, sprint workouts, and intervals around town, I spent 12 or so hours of solid time on my mountain bike riding Cooper’s Rock and the like. The time spent on the trails was now paying dividends in the way I was able to speedily get through the rough terrain.
At the next aid station I stopped to get a bottle filled and grab a gel. The volunteer there had been keeping accurate splits and had a time of 2:13 up to Tim. He told me I still had 13 miles left which I figured was more than enough to close down the gap. Not wasting any more time, I clipped back in and blasted down the trail. I was still being amazed at the lack of fatigue in my legs and continued to push myself faster than I generally do.
As I passed through the final aid station, I knew I only had about 5 miles to go. At that point, my hopes of catching Tim were diminishing. To my surprise as a rounded the next turn, Tim was right ahead of me and he was eating a PB&J. Two things went through my head at that point. 1st, what should I do strategically? 2nd, why is Tim eating a sandwich with 15 minutes left in the race? The second though I let go and figured I could ask him personally later. I snuck up on his wheel and stayed there for a minute or so before he noticed me. As soon as he peaked over his shoulder and saw me, it was on. Tim ramped the pace up and started crushing it down the trail. I was having no problem staying with him but was getting a little out of my comfort zone on the more technical stuff. Rather than play it safe and back off a little I decided to just stay on the gas and hold his wheel at all cost. As we crossed the last open section before the final technical trail section, I realized I could most likely take him in a sprint as I was all over him and could tell he was really hurting. We plowed into the final section and, rather than slowing down, Tim just held the speed. We were going 20+ mph through some twisty, moderately technical double track and I was in way over my head. I though about trying to pull through and slow things down but the speed was just too high. However, as we railed it toward the finish, I was thinking of how awesome it was that I was actually holding this speed in the woods. I had never ridden this fast before and was really impressed with myself. Little did I know, I should have been paying more attention to the trail instead of daydreaming. As we entered the last half-mile of trail, we came to a small, easily crossable ditch. Normally, I am used to coming up the trail and hitting the ditch as 8-12 mph. Now I was preparing the gap it at 20+ mph. I launched off of the approach side perfectly. Unfortunately, my landing was less than ideal. My front tire landed slightly before my rear on a wet rock. With that, the tire shot out front under me and I was in the dirt. I instantly knew that my hopes of winning were gone. We were too close to the finish for me to get back up and try to sprint Tim down never mind the fact that my hip felt like someone had just taken a baseball bat to it. I slowly got up, gathered my glasses and gear that had ejected onto the trail, and headed towards the finish. Still taking 2nd, I can’t complain but I was most upset that I had the win in my grips and lost it over a silly mistake. Oh well though, that’s bike racin’! Tim knew my weakness and capitalized on it perfectly. Fitness wise, I have to say I felt awesome. I have to throw a big thank you out to coach Rob Acciavatti for all of his coaching this season. Without him, there is no way I would be where I am in terms of fitness this year. He was able to tap the unknown potential in my legs and I owe him big time for that one! Also, of course a big thanks my dad for getting up way too early to go up to Big Bear just to stand around and make sure everything went well for me. After doing two endurance events this season, I have to say I think I am just more built for the longer events. My engine doesn’t seem to get running until about and hour in but, when it finally quits back firing, it can run for a long time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Evolution of a cycling jersey

by Betsy (w/ some help from Gunnar).

It arrives pristine and neatly folded in a hermetically sealed bag, a bag that we save and use throughout the season, because we’re strange like that. The jersey’s colors pop out and the contrast between the bright white and royal blue is startling. "This time", I vow, "my jersey is going to stay nice." The first time I wear it, it still has fold marks, smells fresh, and I wear it with pride. It makes me feel fast and I am happy to represent our sponsors with such a fine piece of apparel. "Dynamic Physical Therapy" screams from the white bubble with sharp tones and crisp font.

After the first few washings, I snatch it out of the laundry basket and carefully hang it in the closet so it stays unwrinkled and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Then, races like the DK200, Blackwater, Black Bear occur, with hours-worth of sweat, dust, dirt, grime, bog water, snot, maybe even a little blood worming their way into the threads of the jersey. Suddenly, it comes out of the wash looking a little grimey, not so crisp, not smelling quite so freshly laundered. When it comes time to pack up for another race, I have to dig around to find it… "Honey, have you seen my jersey?" becomes an oft-repeated inquiry in the Shogren house.
As the mountain bike season wraps up, spots abound on the not-so-bright whitish bubble, I can see where I left gum in the pocket, and where I scuffed the royal blue hitting a tree. The whole jersey has acquired a slightly gray pallor to it and certain smells emit from it, despite repeated soakings.

Some things don’t change, though; I still feel fast when I put it on and I still represent our sponsors with pride. This jersey, I realize, was not meant to stay nice.

Our Swiftwick socks also live a rough live, probably worse in some ways, but being as most of ours aren't white, they come through "looking" a bit better time after time...

Soak, soak, soak. Week in, week out.

Here our are dirty-jersey race results as of late-
   24 Blackwater- Betsy 1st, Gunnar 1st Vet (1st SS and 4th overall)
   31 Little Beaver- Betsy 1st, Gunnar 1st Vet (1st SS and 2nd overall)
   06 Big Bear Ultra- Betsy 1st, Gunnar 2nd SS (4th overall)
   14 Black Bear WV States- Betsy 1st, Gunnar 1st Vet (2nd overall!, 1st SS)

Some photos from the latest Dirty-Jersy Race, Black Bear WV State Championship where we both won!

Dark, scary, and dirty at Black Bear.

All's well that ends well and dirty.

Smile and the grit feels better.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ABRA Crit Series, these are The Breaks

By Gunnar.
Photos courtesy of Mike Briggs and Fred Jordan.

Crits are fun. Crits are fast. Crits used to be the mainstay of USCF racing around this Tri-State area and road races were the more difficult ones to find.
Now it seems that road races are more the "norm," and although I do like me some good road racing, I sure do enjoy racing Crits too.
Scroll down far enough and you'll find what was the ABRA Crit Schedule

Though I can sprint well enough, I'd much rather whittle the odds down a bit more in my favor. Why contend w/ 35 guys when 5 is much more mangeable? Course now you do get to choose from your excuses when there are more in the group, i.e. more things can go wrong if you're a bucket of bolts racer, but since I'm more into winning and placing than excuses, I'll try hard to get up the road w/ a few others whenever I get the chance. And w/ this season it has been always!

Start of the WVU Crit, too many, let's get rid of some!

Mountaineer Classic Crit, April 9

Smallish field, mostly the Pittsburgher fellows. W/ the start gun Bob Gottlieb is off and hammering, and I'm close by him, even though he's in the 50+ class. Steve Svoboda is always a good one to be w/ and then there's Motown local Marc Glass who likes to give it a go.
And w/in a few laps that just how it is, the 4 of us working over the rest of the field and then lapping them for good measure. Some try to hang on when we come rolling by, but to no avail.
Close to the end the tactics start but doesn't seem like our group is going to let anyone get away, so we all know that it's gonna come down to the 3rd and 4th corners. The slightly downhill into the narrow stretch of the 3rd and then the slightly-uphill that leads to the curb-coming-up-quick 4th. And so it is, Bob really pins the 3rd, aces the 4th and I can't quite get around him at the end. Good enough for the class win, but I'd still rather beat him.

More like it!

Yeah it's the race w/ the younger kids, but it sure is a nice shot.

South Connellsville Criterium, April 16

Ah the start of the rainy season!
Neat course, more of a short Circuit Race, but we'll call it a Crit anyway. Some neat features: a shallow climb, sweeping turn, fast downhill directly into a painted crosswalk ahd steepish little climb followed by a gently rolling section, a prerequiste 90 degree turn and on to the finishing straight.
Wet and windy, oh boy.
Not really sure what happened in this race. Don't know if the wind and rain just had everyone not wanting to go hard, or whether things just "went my way." Whatever it was, the gang of usual suspects starts off going hard up the shallow climb, but then doesn't after a bit, a little hesitant on that downhill turn into the steepy thing and w/in a few laps I find that I've gotten away from the field and am just rolling away. "Well this is probably okay, so I'll just give it the old college try and wait for someone to come up to me," but no one does.
Maybe it was something in the air, or the oats I ate, or whatever, but though I had no real intentions of doing a solo move, there I am. Commit or regret. So I keep on burying my head and spinning my little legs and try to maintain the speed up the shallow climb, roll into that downhill corner as best I can and try to carry some speed and then keep it going up and over the steep thing. And it worked. Poof, I won!

The Gordon's Fisherman prepares to race!

Too tired to look up, but very pleased w/ the solo effort and win.

Happy older fellows up on the podium.

As I side note, I also did the 1/2/3 race and they approached the course *much* differently. They'd just roll up the shallow climb, but *really* pin it up the steep thing and across the top. Boy did it get strung out across the top there. I rode fine, didn't have much in the legs for the sprint and finished 9th.

Steel City Showdown, April 17

Next day, up in the 'Burgh. No rain, but it is cold and windy. And the big boys from the area are here too as they are throwing the $$ at this race. And it really is a neat course, dahntawn Pixxburg, over two bridges and close to da stadium. And the place is full of vendors and what-not. What a time!
Did I mention that it was a large field and there were all sorts of fast young 40+ers?
The race is off and Freddy Fu is hammering. The field is getting strung out and you can just tell that things are going start popping, so I'm near the front, ready for "the move." One seems likely, doesn't materialize, but then the second one comes, Joe Ruggery (Freddie Fu) and Andy Clark (Panther Trucking?) light it up out of the 2nd corner and up over the bridge. "Oh man, this is it!" and I jump and chase up to them, which takes about 2/3 of a lap. These guys are going *hard* and sure enough we are clear of the rest of the field just like that. But I am struggling from my effort to get there and my general "not as fast as them" feeling. But I pull through and do my work. 4 or 5 laps of that and I can tell that it's just not going to happen for me, try as I might. So off the back I come. Ahh... that's feel much better! Amazing what a little rest does for you. But now I'm in no man's land, but still no pack in sight, so I auger in and do what I can. Another solo, but not for the win, but for 3rd, and that's gonna be okay w/ me if I can pull it off. Lap after excuriating lap, I try to use the same gears for each section, try to stay on top of the gear, try and get close to the bridge for a little wind-relief, anything and everything might just make the difference.
Not soon enough, but soon enough, the race is over, and I have done it. 3rd in that race was really all I could have asked for.

Long sleeves, knickers and knee warmers for Joe, Andy, and myself.

Hammerin' across on of the bridges, before I did the reverse breakaway from Joe and Andy.

Pro Bikes Criterium Championship, July 30

Ahh, the lovely Aliquippa Industrial Park course. It's been run clockwise and counter-clockwise, it's had the start/finish on one side and the other. Still a decent physcially challenging course. Not a particularly technical course as most of the corners are plenty wide, but it does have a wee little uphill and then it is usually windy there as well, so on one side or the other you really have the opportunity to fly!
Decent field, some that weren't at the others, but are showing up now, mainly Frankie Ross (Sette Nova) and Jason Zimmerman (Freddy Fu). Frankie is always one to watch as he likes breaks almost as much as me, and w/ his teammate Ray Russell in the race too, but 50+, there will certainly be some action from them. Jason usually doesn't care if he's in a break or field sprint, he's just there to win, and he can.
And off we go!
Roll around, string things out, then bring them back together. Try a few little moves, but the right move just hasn't "happened," will the right group of folks get up the road? It's just not looking like it.
Then old Jeff Guy goes out on a flyer, comes at a decent time, I let him get up the road some, then bridge up. The prior times I did this the rest of the field came along too, but for whatever reason this time they didn't. So pin it we do!
All of a sudden we've got a pretty decent gap, but there are still 6 or so laps of the 1+ mile course to go. Jeff's doing what he can, I can't afford to just drop him, but have to be mindful that he's close to being popped.
5, 4, 3, 2, now we can see that there are 2 riders starting to really whittle at our lead. How much time are they making up, how much time are we losing? Crunch time but I've not got a whole lot left. What I have is out there.
With 1/2 a lap to go we're caught. Poopie pants, but not surprising. It's Frankie and Jason.
Jeff realizes that he's the leadout fellow and so w/ him at the front the rest of us line up and start strategizing.
Frankie jumps first into the 4th corner, I am NOT on him, crap, but I'm trying to hold my own on the long lonely straight to the finish, but alas Jason comes zipping by me, and that's it.

Trying hard to make it happen.

"Come on Jeff, I think we're gonna make it!"

Still was in a fine break that "almost" really made it. But we didn't get caught by the rest of the field, and it was still a good solid race and a nice end to the series.

Happy Boys on the podium.

Yay, I win the 40+ Crit Series with 2 wins and 2 3rds.
ABRA 2011 Crit Standings

Nice jersey, happy boy, and... they shouldn't have given me the champagne before I got to the podium...

My new technique, spraying the podium and photogs before getting on the podium.

Sure was a fine and fun season, and I for one really hope that it happens again, the opportunity to race is always strong w/ this one..

More happiness w/ Jim Yankush, winner of the 50+ Crit series and Jeff.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mid-Season Catch-Up, 2x12 Too Soon and Hilly Billy Here We Come!

by Betsy & Gunnar.

The Shogrens last checked in after the Dirty Kanza 200 -
Gunnar's tale of woah
Betsy's tale of inspiration
But have hardly been sitting idle since. In fact, we might benefit from sitting a bit more idle, but there have been too many fun races and we don’t like to sit around getting rusty.

The weekend after the DK200, we jumped right in to do the

Big Bear 2 x 12

This race is not to be missed, at all costs. DO IT!
The Race
The Results

We signed up in the highly-stacked coed-duo category and figured we’d be happy with a top 5, considering our legs/bodies/minds were taking their good old time returning from the dirt roads of Kansas. Well, to make a long story short, we ended up 2nd, which was thrilling. Cassie and Jeremy were not to be beaten on their home court, and we benefited from some bad luck by the Harding Family of Philly and outrode a whole host of others to surpass them all for second!

Gunnar & Betsy about to fill their steins, PeTey hanging out too. Mark handing them out, Julie doing the important part of getting the cheques!

After a rather grim yet understandably poor first lap sitting pretty in 5th we really did get faster and rallied hard for the rest of the day.
Unfortunately, Betsy ended up with a souvenir of some bruised/cracked/broken ribs that occurred just 3-4 miles into her last lap.
Here is her tale of woe (woah) -
"I bodyslammed into a nasty rock garden and immediately felt some inner organs being skewered by my ribs like a shish kabob. Ok, I might be slightly exaggerating, but not really. However, Kathleen was hunting me down on this last lap, as I had already witnessed her unhappiness at being in third place and she was fired up to steal this 2nd place from us. There was no time to speculate on whether or not my kidney was stuck on my rib and I hauled my sorry arse off those rocks and whimpered my way through that lap. Despite this memorable incident, my third lap was faster than my 2nd lap! Here it is 2 months later and I still have to sleep with a pillow under my ribs and have some weird lumps over my rib bones."

Betsy looking a little out of it after her bumpy ride. Luckily there's a big bag of chips close at hand...

For Gunnar's part, he got to choose the gear du jour, and it was 33x19. A tad heavy probably, but we really didn't want to concede anything on the fast sections of the course. This meant that we really have to muscle up the grunts, and he's happy to report that he actually was able to make it up all the climbs in that stiff thing. Bunny did not, but just had to scoot her butt up 1 hill.

Gunnar needing some help, and Sally doing her best.

Turns out our closest real competition at the end was from our team mates, though not class mates, ToddL and JamesB, who both rode very well in the high-speed low-drag Open class. ToddL even had a tangle w/ a Cougar out there on the last lap. No lie!

Our Tomac Flint 29er SSs rode smooth, predictable, fast, and steady right from the get go.
Grrrr means go for us!

Shortly after the BB 2x12 race was another of our favorite races

ABRA’s Hilly Billy Roubaix

HBR Reg Page
HBR Results
This is another DO NOT MISS race!
Big decision beyond what gear to use, was the choice of tyres. Go w/ the fast rolling bomb proof tyres, the Kenda Tendrils that we used for the DK200, or go w/ last years choice and a little lighter 700x35c Kenda Small Block 8? With all the climbing, I decided to go w/ the SB8. Either one would have been a good choice I think though!
Here's Betsy's tale of dumbination -
"In a fine showing of CycleDumb Training, I absolutely insisted to gunnar that I would do this race on my singlespeed cross bike, despite the fact that my ribs were obviously having some issues and stabbing pain ensued every time I stood on a bike. His advice that I should probably race my geared bike was spot-on, but we all know it’s better to endure 5 hours of stabbing pain than to admit to your significant other that he/she was right."

Betsy getting through Little Indian Creek Extension in fine style

Betsy and her trusty SS on the top rung again!

Gunnar’s legs had crawled their way out of the Kansas ditch and hitched a ride back to WV, though he was unfortunately thwarted by 3 flat tires. He still grabbed a second in the SS class! W00t!
Are you ready for Gunnar's tepid tale? -
"After my failed attempt at 200+ miles of gravel grandeur, and the ensuing loss of most of the water in my body, I was determined to get rehydrated, and then try and really keep that weight low.
At BB 2x12 I wasn't totally recovered yet, but I was light, by the next week, I was getting there and then by the time HBR rolled around I was really feeling good.
I was feeling well enough that I actually ran a gear 2 teeth larger than last year, 41x19. Started out in fine shape, after going through Little Indian Creek Extension the break was made and I was in it. Crossed 19 w/ nary another group in sight, headed up the first long climb and the old backend of the bike started getting squishy. Poopie pants.
Got the rear tyre off, started fixing my flat, and others came by. Had a little issue w/ reinflating, more came by. Finally got going again, blasted up, blasted down, got on McCurdysville Rd, sheared some others, climbed up McCurdysville Pike, romped past a few more, made my way down the backside and then back onto Hagans Rd., started that mean old climb there and caught some more chaps. My buddy ChrissyM informed me that teammie NateA and 1st SS BernieS were just up the road. Yay!
By the top of Long Drain I had got them both. Then we all went down that road, heading for Route 7. Good boy Nate was trying to help me shake Bernie, but he just kept on coming back, evidently he was riding pretty well too.
Finally we got to Buckeye Rd, went across the bridge and started going up Ripleys Run, to the "un a fish al" Hilly Billy checkpoint. Going up the shallow grade I was starting to get away from both Bernie and Nate. Hooray!
Got to the top, declined the jello-shot, did take in a Raw Rev bar and some water and... for an instant considered putting a little more air in my rear tyre. 'It'll beallright, I want to keep this gap from Bernie.' So I was now back in 1st for the SS and 4th overall.

Gunnar riding in between fixing flats.

But that was not for long, for right before Ripleys dumps onto Little Shannon, I flatted again. Double poopie pants!
So I crawled down to Little Shannon and went about the business again. Said "Hello" to all those folks that passed me back again, Bernie, Nate, Roger, and a host of others until BenjiK came and I was all kinds of ready to get going again.
Benji and I trundled on, him blabbing like he does so well and me trying to figure out where I was in the group. As the roads meandered up towards Hines Ridge I lost Benji and started catching a lot of those folks that had been so kind as to pass me and ask if I needed a tube or something.
Blow through the 2nd Aid Station, up the stiff climb over I79 and up to "Whatever it is" Ridge. Cruising there was nice and at the end Maggie was there with a sign special for me, pointing the way to the Local Line. Oh how sweet.

Maggie showing me the way. Right before my 3rd and final flat.

And down I went from there, bombing the burned up "road", catching a few more folks, crawling my way back up. Right before I came out to Sperm Loop, it happened again. My third flat. Must have bombed too much, or I'm getting fat, or I'm just running low on good fortune.
This time I was getting my wheel off and my friend Doug M came by, asked the usual "do you need anything" and I replied w/ "yes, I need a tube!" for I had run now out.
Got that flat fixed, put an extra 10 pumps in it just for something to do and was off going yet again. Pedal, pedal, pedal.
Got by MarcG and he offered words of encouragement but thought I was 5th SS, and that was not were I wanted to be. So I disposed of him and kept going.
Stopped at the 3rd Aid Station, at Ma and Pa Petsko's house/Goat Farm, filled up the Camelback water bottles, grabbed some Raw Rev bars, thanked the nice folks, then asked RyanP where the next SS fellow was. He thought he was a couple minutes up the road and didn't think that I'd be able to catch him.
Going up Number 8 Hollow I caught that poor sod, saw a few others on 19 and the fire was reignited, now if only my tyres and tubes would cooperate... Got some help going down Cassville Mt. Morris Rd. from a geared fellow that let me sit in as he drug me to Rt 7, and then once heading up that formidible climb I disposed of him. How mean.
Then it was up to the top, then down, speeding all over, chasing whatever ghosts were ahead of me, namely one Roger Masse and Bernie Shiao.
Finally, going up the last climb before being inside the Mylan Park proper I saw him. A single SSer. Not going too fast. 'I must catch him before or shortly after we turn into the park, if I don't it will be over.' And so I did.
'Hi Roger. :) '
I think we went down the hill pretty much together but I was able to get some time and distance on him before the top and then finish.
2nd place in the SS class. With the unhappy footnote of having 3 flats (and just using a good old fashioned hand pump).

One of us doesn't know what to do, one of us is going a bit crazy, one of us has a steady hand on the rudder.

It was a good day, fun and hard racing."

One of my motos also ran lead. Only got dumped once in Little Indian Creek Extension I was told too!

Heck I'm tired again just having written all this...

Doin' what needs to be done at the end of the day.
Hairwolf, Benji and Sequoya helping out.

Since then we’ve been having a great summer participating in the ABRA and WVMBA series and counting our lucky stars to have such great local racing. Every weekend delivers some sort of new adventure and we wouldn’t have it any other way. While only one more ABRA road race remains, the next 7 weekends have some sort of fun MTB race or another, followed by the ABRA CX Series.

More soon to follow. Pinky promise.