Thursday, April 28, 2011

Waynesburg Race!

It was questionable all the way up to race day whether or not I would be able to race Waynesburg. Luckily, my senior resident and attending had some mercy and let me skip rounds to do this race. Yay! I was also fortunate enough to pre-ride the course with JR, Laura and Justine. After the pre-ride I knew JR made an awesome course and was very excited to race. On race day I got up early to some pretty nice weather here in Morgantown, which has been rare lately and that pumped me up. I was hoping for the clouds to stay nice and for no rain. After packing up the car and heading out of town, the clouds came in and rain started. I thought it was gonna be a rainy mess for the race, but then the clouds broke and the sun came back out! So was super happy and hoping that the sun would stay out.

To warm up, I broke out the music and got on the trainer for a bit. I wanted to be good and warmed up for the first climb. I don't remember too much before the race, but anyway, I heard the call to line up and was glad to be starting with a bigger field than last time. I definitely did not want to ride by myself like in Morgantown RR. So the race started and my goal was to just stay with people and hang back and take the hill at a good pace. The ride out to the first climb started out moderate and I just concentrated on pedaling. As the climb approached, it didn't look as bad as it had the night I pre-rode it, so I just was able to spin up it and pass guys on the way up. Over the hill I caught up to a fast group of guys and decided to stay with them. Fellow teammate Betsy was in this group, so I tried to pace myself off of her. I knew that I wanted to show a better performance than at Morgantown RR so that was my goal to just push myself harder and stay with a faster group. I found that the rest of the race felt a lot like the local Wednesday night hammer rides and tried to use the skills I learned from those rides. I felt pretty strong the whole race. My legs felt good. All the way up to the last climb was a good pace and I was happy with where I was standing. Up the final hill I felt strong and then bombed down the last decent, which was super fast. On the stretch to the finish, Betsy, Stephanie and I took some turns going off the front. In the last mile, Betsy was stung by a few bees, I offered to do an emergency airway for her, but luckily she is not allergic. To the finish was a sprint and I came in behind Betsy and Stephanie.

It was really a great race and a great day. I was very happy to race with people and the course was awesome. Thanks to JR and everyone for all of the hard work.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Getting in some quality training at these races

After having a couple of the last road races result in some less than desirable results, I was hoping to have a little better day at the Greene County Road Race. The morning started out quite rainy but would open up to be great weather as we started. Category 3/4 was combined with Category 1/2/3 as both groups would need to ride two loops of the course. This was certainly a little scary to consider because I don't train like these Cat 1/2 fellas! I'm a triathlete! We rolled out at a moderate pace into a headwind and I situated myself in the middle of the pack while a few guys at the front threw out various attacks that would not take hold, thank goodness. The pace intensified up the first climb and I felt pretty well with that as the grade steepened. Though I was well into my upper red zone, I had moved to the front of the pack during the climb as that felt comfortable. Several guys were already falling off the back as the men at the front were still attacking one after another. I could see my teammate Nathan Annon countering on a couple of these maneuvers and I tried to use him as my pace indicator. As we hit the first big roller at the top of the climb I stood to surge over the top in the big ring and instantly my chain cracked and jumped completely off the gear Andy Schleck-style as I began to endo. My old mountain bike skills kept me from busting my butt and head. I tried in vain to get the chain back on while coasting uphill and eventually had to get off the bike to fix the problem. I finally managed to correct the issue but certainly didn't recover any in the process, and to no surprise, I was passed by several riders. I thought catching back onto the group would be extremely difficult and I was right. There just isn't any room for these types of huge errors against this strong of a field. My riding was alone but in sight of the pack for the next couple miles. Unfortunately, I don't have the body weight and/or anaerobic capacity to surge into a headwind on a flat by myself and bridge a 200 yard gap against this type of group because I'm accustomed to long time trials and climbing. About a mile from the second climb a couple guys who were working together caught me and then together we managed to pick up another rider, eventually coming within 75 yards of the very back of the group going up the second climb. I thought we had done very well at that point and could get back onto the field but our small group had worked so hard that we completely fell apart going up the climb. There goes the efficiency out the window! I found myself back in no-man's-land for a couple more miles and eventually would work with Rob Lochner of Iron City Bikes for several miles in the back half of the loop. We saw a couple guys drop out after the first lap and figured that we were already riding, in need of riding miles, and the weather was beautiful so we should just continue onward. He was certainly a much stronger flatland cyclist than me so at times I was struggling to hang on to his speed. We would separate for a while and then resume pulling one another through the first half of the second loop. In the process we caught Brad Dodson, who had a flat at mile 20, and that train went along well for some time but I was starting to break down a bit after all the higher intensity repeated efforts took their toll. I fell off of Brad and Rob about 10 miles from the finish, which was probably partly the effect of frustration. I went at the rest of the race alone. In the end I would have to settle for 14th place though apparently I was the second Category 4 rider and Rob was the first, so that made me feel slightly better. According to the Garmin software, my average power for this lonely ride turned out to be 220 watts, which earlier this year was my functional threshold power, which I'm hoping is some indicator of performance improvement!

Distance: 64.1 miles
Average speed: 19.1 mph
Max speed: 44.6 mph
Average power: 220 watts
Total ascent: 3100 feet

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fitness coming together right on time

After spending a few weeks away from road racing and instead suffering through a few crits, I was super excited to head up to West Green High School for the ABRA Green County Road Race. So, after getting lost somewhere in the hills of PA and having to stop and ask for directions at quite possibly the scariest convenience store I have ever encountered (insert banjo music here), I rolled into the parking lot of WGHS about 30 minutes later than I had planned, got my gear together, and headed out for a quick warmup.
Rolling up to the line with teammate Robbie L. about 2 minutes before the start, I made it just in time to catch the tail end of Nick’s prerace speech and we were off. As I got situated and grabbed a quick Raw bar followed by some water, I looked around to check out the field. I noticed a few of my WVU teammates from the collegiate season had shown up. I knew that they were both strong riders and would be excellent to work with if we got into a break.
Things rolled pretty easy up to the first climb but then things started to get a little crazy and much faster. Not bothering to look at another rider’s bib number as he passed, I assumed he was in our field and was attacking so I raised the pace and countered him. As we motored up the climb, I heard Kyle K. from WVU yell up to me so I slowed up to see what was up. It was then that I learned that that rider was not in our field…oops! Oh well, at least now the pack was strung out and maybe a few of us could get away on the ridge.
We cruised along for another five minutes or so and that’s when Michael Appel decided to attack. Watching him go down the road, no one in our group wanted to chase yet but we did raise the pace enough to drop a few guys off the back and leave us with a group of about eight. After chasing Appel at a moderate pace for what seemed like an eternity, I started to get a little nervous about letting him sit out there since the roads were getting more and more winding. I kept thinking about the old “out of sight, out of mind” adage and did not want him to get away simply because we just forgot about him. So as we approached the next climb, I decided to go to the front and raise the pace a little in an effort to bring Appel back by the end of the downhill. I was kind of surprised by how much I gapped the group I was in on the short climb but figured the would be working harder to get up to me and then we could finish reeling in Appel.
After the quick decent I found myself rolling up to Appel’s wheel where I hung out for a minute little to his knowledge. After towing me along for a few miles he noticed I was back there, realized he had been caught, and sat up to let the chase catch back up. From there on out we worked together with everyone taking short, efficient pulls and really working well with each other. I was honestly really impressed with how well everyone cooperated with one and other and how fast we just kept motoring.
Approaching the last climb, I knew this would be my only chance to make a move considering I am no sprinter and am just not big enough to motor on the flats. Not waiting for any grass to grow under my feet, as I knew the climb was not too long, I attacked at the bottom. After getting a decent gap on the group, I settled into a tempo pace and cruised up and over the top.
The first turn out of the decent gave me a good view back up the climb to see where everyone else was. I realized that I had really opened up a big gap and, in the process, broken the group up pretty much entirely. The only thing I could do now was get aero and make myself hurt for the next 4 miles to the finish. For the next 2 or so miles, I just buried my head and tried to really focus. I looked back with about 2 to go and saw Appel starting to close the gap on me. I stood up, trying to loosen my screaming legs some, and then sat back down to try and squeeze every last bit of effort I had out. As we approached the “1 mile to go” sign, I saw Appel coming up on me like a freight train and thought I may be able catch a wheel as he went by and then duke it out in a sprint. He came by and……dang it…he was gone! I have to admit that I was instantly disappointed that I couldn’t hold him off but, of course, didn’t quit considering I was still racing for second which I ended up taking by a minute or so. Well, I guess all I have left to say is thanks to ABRA for yet another great race and a big thank you to Jim Cantore for being wrong.

Post Race Interview

Gunnar Shogren, Greene County Road Race!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Just left with wet roads.

On Saturday I found my way to the second race of the ABRA Crit Series just below Union Town. The weather had been pretty nasty all day, and I really wasn’t in the mood to race. The 1/2/3 race started at 4 o’clock, and luckily by that time most of rain had slacked off and just left wet roads. We started the race, and for the most part it was pretty easy for the first few laps which was a good thing for me since I didn’t get much of a warm up. The pace was on and off for most of the race, with there being a small hill that everyone sprinted up every lap. The hill was too short of a climb, and too far from the start/finish line to do much good of anything. With about 5 or 6 laps to go, there was a $20 prime lap. I really didn’t think I had much of a chance of snagging it, but I thought what the hell and pushed to the front. Going in the last turn before the line, I sprinted out and won the prime. I spun for the next few laps, and then it was the final sprint. I finished 10th on the day.

On Sunday, I passed on the Big Showdown in Pittsburgh and made my way to Big Bear Lake. It was cold and windy on top of the mountain. I pulled out the single speed once again and found my way to the 2nd row for the noon start time lined up, behind fast Guy JPok. We took off and after 100 yards had a quick 180 turn. I got out in good position, and hitting the woods section just behind the lead pack of geared guys, and no one really behind me. I found a good rhythm. We got up by the lake, and dropped down into some single track. The markings were not the best and I found myself off the trail and was losing time. I got caught by Marc G., Jeremy R. and Teammate Robbie L. as we hit the next climb. Jeremy and I were able to get a good gap and get away. My plan was just to pace off Jeremy which was working for the most part till we hit the crack trail. I found myself following too close and lipped one of the 2 foot rock drops, and hit a tree. As I got my bearings back and start riding again, I got down to the big boulders and could see Robbie behind me again. Once out of the rocks, there was a pretty good climb back up so I was able to bridge back up to Jeremy and ride with him again. We spun for a while and then hit the top. It was really windy on top, and one of my contact lens decided to fly out. I made it over to the 24 hour course and just kept the pedals turning. As I get back over to the dam, I looked back and could see Robbie. I picked the pace back up and came around the last turn suddenly a stick kicks up and throws my chain off with the finish line in sight. The 2nd place was right behind me and knowing it would take longer to put it back on, I decided run to the finish line. It was my first win of the year with 8th overall on the day and 10 minutes off the winner.

Later, Nate Annon

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'll be off the back also

This past Saturday it was round #2 of the Appalachian Criterium Series in the South OF Connellsville Criterium. The weather on that morning was something out of the storm from Wizard of OZ. When we got to the race the guys doing the early Cat 5 race had their work cut out for them as the wind had to be at least 25 - 30 mph with driving rain. I was feeling for those guys and was not to excited myself about racing. However I was surprised as the day went on the wind completely disappeared but the rain kept coming. That was a huge improve however from what they saw in the morning and the hunger to race started creep into my brain.

When we lined up at the start I didn't see an "pack filler" like myself. The weather plus fast looking for series points made it a small but super fast guy field. Not good news for me. After commenting on what I saw to the entire group, one other rider said "I'll be off the back also". He was skinny and young, so I doubted his statement. It seemed like the field was at high speed before Nick Rossi finished blowing his whistle to start the race. The first lap was HARD and fast. The small hill plus a second section with a false flat made my heart sky rocked. Lap 2 I was starting to figure out that the pace was to much for me and I knew it was not going to be long before I would get dropped. Then lap 3 it happened, I popped off the back of the field. In fact I was first one to fall off. That was ok however because that has happened before but I always end up picking off a hand full or so as the race went off.

Then the very next lap I saw a solo rider up ahead and was gaining on him. As i got closer it was the guy who said, "I'll be off the back also". Well he was telling the truth after all. So we can stop calling him "that guy", his name is Brenda Murray, as I found out later after the race. Brendan and I took turn pacing lining not going very hard but I think it would be safe to say we would go hard on the hill part to see if we could drop one another. However neither of use could drop the other. I was not to surprised because of who all was in the race but we never came upon any other dropped riders.

Lap after lap Brendan and kept going and with two laps to go he asked,"ya want to sprint for the finish". I was up for it cause neither of us wanted to be last and it just would be fun. Brendan also said he didn't want to be last as well. For us this sprint just as much as a sprint for a win. As we crossed the start/finish area to start the finial lap I went to take a pull on purpose. The thought was I pull now then he would take a pull then I would have his back wheel for the sprint. Around 3/4 of a lap to go I slow and wanted him to come around. I thought he would feel comfortable coming to the front because there was a lot of the lap let and then I would have him. To my surprise he didn't come around. Hmmm I thought. I pedaled on a bit and around 1/2 a lap to go I tried again. My speed was even slower this time as I tried to bate him into coming around. Crap I thought to myself. He is not going to fall for it. Brendan was not going to get off my back wheel and I know it now.

I tried to come up with a new plan. I am so big that I make it easy for anyone to beat me in a sprint as they have to do little work behind me with in my draft. I figured my only hope was to go full throttle out of the final turn to the line. Just maybe if I get a good job I can get a gap and that would be all I needed. As we went through the final 90 degrees turn I hit the gas. I pushed down on the pedals as hard as I could and just hope for the best, but maybe 30 feet from the line I could see a wheel coming up on my left side and I knew it. He got me. It would be my first ever last place finish in a cycling race ever. I have been racing for a long time and never finished last before. After the race I was questioning the cycling license upgrade and what I could do. After a few more minutes I thought that yes I may have gotten last but I am racing with a much faster group of folks now and that in itself is a win for me. I will keep trying and hope for better results but it still was fun, last or not.

Monday, April 18, 2011

kicked off my mountain season

See, I keep starting reports, but what happens when I go to post a short recap is this:

Today I kicked off my mountain season at Big Bear Lake Camplands. Mark Schooley and the gang had put together another beautiful and challenging course. I was expecting my early-season fitness (which I consider an oxymoron) to be consistent with the "20 minutes of legs, total" that I experienced at the Morgantown Road Race and Mountaineer Criterium over the past couple weeks. In each race I had fun duking it out and maneuvering in the peloton only to blow sky high after ~20 minutes and watching everyone ride away. As such my race tactics were to "get a good start and try to hang on for as long as possible before the sports start passing me".

After a quick warm up and spin to adjust the pressure in the new Kenda Slant Six 29x2.20 tires I'd slapped onto my trusty thrusty I9's we lined up. The expert field was bigger than expected and I was a little late to the start, so I weaseled onto the far end of the 2nd row behind Joey Riddle. Nick Waite lined up to the outside of me since he was even later to the start, so I figure I was good to go. Mark gave a mostly inaudible explanation of the prime available for the first man and woman through the prologue loop, which featured a half mile of jeep road followed by another three quarters mile of tricky single track back to the start before we headed out onto the course proper. With that out of the way, we were sent on our way with a quick "Ready-Set-Go".

I jumped into line, weaving towards the outside of the 180 degree left hand bend that came in the first 50 yards. The wide line let me keep some momentum up and I shot past the large part of the group to put myself into the top 10 onto the jeep road. Another 100 yards later we took a hard left right onto a short but tricky climb, made trickier by a fifty-gallon-drum sized rock at the base of the climb that cut off half the road. This squeeze, a few other awkward rocks, and the regular anaerobic haze sent the single-speed-riding-hot-shot-skiing-blonde-locks-flowing Mike Cordaro into the also-single-speeding-Ken-Doll we all know and love as Marc Glass and they fell into a heap in the middle of the trail. I slipped around to their right, slowed again by WV Night Clubber Morgan Miller slipping a pedal. He kept it together though and we got moving. However, the front group of 5 led by Mr. Waite was putting on a big gap.

For everyone else, remember this:

The key to having a good start to the mountain biking season is to have a good start.

Remember that the next time someone crashes 20 people in front of you right where the single track starts and you spend the next 20 minutes riding along in a stressful and awkward bicycle parade. Or just bring streamers and a bell and make a fun time out of it.

On the way out towards the dam where we'd drop back into single track, Jeremy and Steve Rowand, Joey Riddle, Marc Glass, and Don Powers, caught up with Morgan and I and Nate Annon who had fallen off the leaders. In the singletrack there were bobbles, but out the other end Nate, Marc, Jeremy, and I came out with a gap over the rest.

The next several miles were winding and fun, with some big and small rock features. I hope the beginners all made it through okay because there were definitely some drops that caught me by surprise. There was a long fire road climb where teammate Full Tilt TLT ("Sweet" Todd LaTocha (say Tawd LawTawd)) caught up. Jeremy and Nate disappeared ahead and I spent a lot of time yo-yoing with Joey, Steve, and Todd.

The weather was playing tricks with us. The sun would come out and I'd be overheating then it'd dissapear and a cold wind would bring a splash of rain down before rolling back to the sunshine. When the sun would come out I'd drive ahead. When the rain came out I'd look back and realize that whatever gap i thought I had was not nearly as large. At the end of each power section I could see a long line of riders behind me.

On the next climb, Steve and Todd rode away and Don caught and passed me. It was around here, on the way out to the airport where the Big Bear 2x12 and the now defunct 24 hours are/were staged that I began to question why in the hell I do this every weekend and how was I going to make it to the end.

That used to happen every single race. The "why am I doing this" phase. I usually came through it, decided not to throw in the towel, and eventually I'd get a second wind and be glad that I finished. Now, though, I recognize that it is indicative that I'm doing just what I should be doing--suffering. This is a race after all. Later in the season, the pain will be sharper and will be focused on attacks and counter attacks. The suffering will be the same though. It is always the same.

But now we were to the fun part! The half mile long rock gardens and the high speed swooping rolling single track to the thousand turns through the pines and on to the downhill. Through all of this I stalked Don. Making up time in the technical bits, trying to keep the gap low on the power sections. At the top of the downhill in a hard left hand berm I finally closed the gap and shot past him and Todd whom we had once again caught.

Using two of the tenets from the "Robbie School of Going Fast", namely Go Fast Where It Is Easy, and Brakes Only Slow You Down, I made up some precious seconds on the downhill and had teammate "TooFast" Nate Annon in view on the long climb up.

"Oh heck, now I have to try to catch him." So I lifted the pace and slowly reeled him in by the top of the climb! Except it wasn't him. It was teammate Chris Jones, leading the Sport Expert Field. The experts had done a longer loop than the sports and the courses and come back together a mile or so before the downhill. I guess that was Nate climbing steadily away from me further up ahead. YeeHaw.

So back onto the swoopy fun singletrack, cranking the pace. Marc caught up and passed me just towards the end. I used his smooth riding for motivation and came to the finish just behind him, less than 30 seconds behind Nate, who took the single speed win. 2nd in class, top 10 overall on the first race of the year! Not a bad start. And I was only about 10 minutes down on the 2 Pros who showed up(Nick Waite, Ryan Fawley), so I'll take that as good news too. Todd came in a couple minutes later for his first Expert top 10, though he was 1 out of the prizes at the end of the day. Chris took the win in Sport Vet and Nate and I went 1-2 in the SS.

All in all, a great way to start the season. We'll see where it goes from here. I'm looking forward to the suffering.


Big Bear for having awesome trails, conditions, and venue support
Everyone in the community for being friendly, courteous, and fun
T-Bott for floating my entrance fee since I forgot my checkbook. I swear I'll pay you back. For real n-stuff.
Kenda for supplying us with the best tires in the business
Chris McGill for his Goonies Never Say Die attitude
Todd for stepping up


Me for crashing really hard on my right shoulder on m cooldown ride after the race
Chris for crashing himself out of the race and maybe breaking his finger

Sunday, April 17, 2011

First time on dirt for 2011

After getting beat up on by the big diesels at the South of Connellsville crit, I decided to ditch the asphalt for dirt and head up to Big Bear for the Big Bear Lake Mountain Bike Classic. With a brand spankin’ new Cannondale Flash carbon 29er from Pathfinder with me, I toed up at the line in the Pro/Expert race with teammates Nate Annon and Robbie Loehr. The race started with a short but technical prologue which went down through the valley, back up out, and brought us back through the start/finish where a 30 dollar prime waited for the first rider through. Not being a great technical rider, I had no interest or ambition to attempt the prime. So, I sat in and rode my own pace trying not to get too hung up on any super technical gnar.
As I came through the start finish, I would guess I was sitting around 13th or so but was super excited where I was considering the section of trail we had just gone through. The next section of trail took us out towards the damn and was pretty smooth rolling double track. Being more of a power, endurance rider rather than handling and skill oriented, I decided to make a move and pull off a few passes here and try to move myself up towards the front before we hit the single track and passing became more difficult to find. I must have been in around 8th at this point and was feeling pretty good when I found teammate Robbie Loehr’s wheel. Know that Robbie is a far better technical rider than myself, I stayed right on his wheel and followed his line through the single track. As we continued to roll through the woods, I noticed one of the Rowand boys up ahead about a mile from the climb. Robbie, either knowing I was a decent climber or the fact that I was super energetic for my first mountain bike race of the year, told me to get up there and pass Rowand on the climb. I took a few good digs and got myself up to Rowand’s wheel nearly at the base of the climb. Standing up in front of me like a wall, I grabbed for a lower gear and attacked the climb. About mid way up the behemoth, I noticed an opportunity to make a pass on Rowand and did, putting in a good 30-second effort to gap him by a bike length or so. As we crested the top, I looked back to see I had held the gap but knew I would have to ride my ass off to keep it. Unfortunately, After keeping him behind me for a few miles of double track we hit some technical singletrack and I dabbed out giving him a smooth passing opportunity. However, I was still in 7th place at that point and had no plans of forfeiting another position. Setting myself at a good tempo pace, I cruised down the gnarly rock infested downhill into the valley and climbed back out. My feet did get a little wet in the stream at the bottom, which ticked me off. But, luckily I had on my Swiftwick socks which ,I am sure, kept me a lot more comfy than the other soggy footed riders.
Coming out of the woods and across the dam into the last 2 or so miles, I had a long enough sight range to look back and see if anyone was within 30 to 45 seconds of me. Not seeing anyone back there, I set a smooth, safe pace and cruised on home to the finish. As I came through the finish in 7th place, I was a little bummed that the race was over and I had to hang the mountain bike up for a while but, at the same time, my screaming legs where super happy to be done for the day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shogren Racing Update

by Betsy & Gunnar.
Nice photos by Fred Jordon.

Gunnar and I are excited to again be a part of the Dynamic PT Cycling Team for 2011. We had a great time last year and appreciate the continued support by Dynamic Physical Therapy and others. The 2011 season kicked off with the Amity Training Series, which was a bit of a shock to the system. Gunnar fared better with his 4th place than I did, as I was not ready when the start whistle blew and promptly got dropped in the first 100 yards. Oh well, I can only improve from there, right?

The next race was the Morgantown RR. I think it’s fair to say there was quite a bit of apprehension leading up to this race, as the weather forecast was not promising, not to mention my confidence was quite low after the Amity beating. I am sure you’ve heard the stories of the amazing weather turnaround on race day, but we went from baseball-sized snowflakes to mild conditions in the span of a perfectly timed half-hour delay. The anticipated weather-induced misery was pretty much non-existent. Gunnar had a great race there, finishing fourth in his class, and I was able to pull off the 123 win. I was fortunate enough to get in a break with some very strong cat. 4 racers and we worked super well together to stay away until the finish. I knew if I could just keep with those girls, I had the 123 win locked up and could just let them sprint it out at the end. I know I wouldn’t have outsprinted them, though, as I poured all my energy into keeping our break clear, and was plumb-tuckered out by the finish. As an added bonus, our road bikes worked perfectly, despite their final assembly being completed that morning.

Jackie sure didn't want to step out in that either.

What a difference a week makes!

Finally, this last weekend, gunnar and I both raced twice. He did the WVU Mountaineer criterium, racing both in the 123 class and the master’s class. That boy does like his crit racing. While he didn’t place in the money in the 123 race, he was pleased with his race and felt that he was able to mix things up a bit. As a bonus, he also won the 40+ race a few hours later! Woot! Since my crit race wasn’t scheduled until late afternoon, I got it in my silly head to do the Mountain Duathalon in the morning, and then trundle on down to Clarksburg for my crit race. While all’s well that ends well, it was a bit of a tiring day. I have neglected running for a couple months, so the 4 miles of trail running was painful, especially since it was rocky and rooty. I am thankful I have freakishly strong ankles! Upon completion of this super fun event, I got it together and started my crit race with muddy shoes and mud still on my throbbing legs. I did not feel as awful riding a bike as I did standing around before the race, thankfully. I would not say I had a great race, but I was pleased at the finish to be able to jump before the 3rd turn and finish 3rd overall. I knew I was by far the slowest sprinter in the group, so I was happy to be able to finish in the money.

Not afraid of being at the front, even with the youngin's.

Trail running to Crit racing... all in a days work.

Thanks again to our wonderful sponsors for making this team happen!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

First Pain Face of 2011

After spending all morning working with my guys (and gals) at WVU promoting the race and racing the collegiate C race, I decided I still had enough “get up and go” left in me to pull on my DPT kit and go try my hand at the ¾ crit. As we all lined up, 6 wide and 6 deep, I looked around and realized how much pain I was about to suffer. The field was not the normal group of guys I was use to racing with but rather a mixture of some locals with a large portion of collegiate A and B racers. Being a C level crit racer, I already knew from the gun that I was going to have to work my ass off just to keep from getting spit out the back.

As the whistle blew, we rolled off the line and began to hammer away. Things really were not too crushing for the first two laps as it seemed like everyone was still trying to feel each other out to see who the strong ones were (and weed out the weak). Around lap number 4 or 5 however things began to pick up. With attacks going up the sides out of what seemed like every turn and down every straight away, I knew I was in for one hell of a day.

It didn’t take long for the attacks and accelerations to get to me and, before I knew it, I was getting popped off the back. For about 4 laps, I worked just to keep the field in sight, as my goal at this point was to not get lapped and maybe try to get back on before the finish. Unfortunately, my legs did not agree with me. After a lap or two of chasing, I felt a tinge followed by a twitch in my calf followed by an “ Ohh no..” out of my mouth. I didn’t think the lack of sleep the night before or the lack of food that day would affect me but it was definitely doing so. As I began to get repeated mini cramps in my left calf, I found myself two entire turns behind the pack.

Around the last 12 or so laps, I got lapped by the field along with James and Robbie who I had lapped earlier but then fell back and worked due to the fact that I was dying on my own out there. As the field came blowing by, I noticed JR was on the back of it. Turned out that, as they were lapping him, he was able to dig deep and get on the back of the field to get a tow around the field. As the field finally passed, JR came off the back to work with our little DPT groupetto. The four of us, Robbie, James, JR, and myself, motored around the course with a pretty nice paceline going for the rest of the race. At that point, we were just avoiding the double lap and getting pulled.

Working with my team for the last 12 laps, I was able to stay alive and come away with 20th place. Not super great but, given my great prerace prep, I’ll take it. Overall, I really did enjoy the day as well as getting a chance to practice some good pacelining with my teammates. See Ya’ll South of Connellsville!

- Todd Latocha

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crit and Single Speed

After my 16th place the week prior at the Motown Road Race 1/2/3, my next race on the schedule was the ABRA Mountaineer Crit in Clarksburg, WV on Saturday. I showed up when the College KIDS race was going on, and parked beside my team mate Ben K. As Ben and I where getting are things together for a warm up, my front tubular tire pops. I had dug a pretty good size rock out of it earlier in the week from Motown Race. Luckily, I had an extra set of wheels with me and swapped it out. Soon, Ben and I jumped on the trainers. I pumped some Tool in the iPod and was ready to go.
Photo by Fred Jordan

As the 1/2/3s rolled out, I had teammates Gunnar and Ben to race with. The pace was set pretty fast from the start. I had to bury myself for the first 25 minutes, and then the pace let up a little. There were a few more attacks that mixed things up.
Photo by Fred Jordan

Finally, it was the last lap and coming into turn 3 I was in good position about 6th back. Coming out of turn 4, there was a little up hill and I was able to snag 4th on the day. I was pretty happy with that, especially with all of the fast guys.

On Sunday, I found my way toward Parkersburg WV for the 1st WVMBA/OMBC race of 2011 at Mt Wood State Park. I showed up around 10:30 and the registration line was pretty long (212 racers for the day). I left my geared bike at home and raced the Single Speed. We lined up at noon and off we went. Right from the gun, I found myself chasing fellow Single Speeder Montana Miller and some other Ohio guy that I didn’t know. They were both on a bigger gear then me so I had to work hard to stay with them. The Ohio guy went in the wood with a good 30 seconds up after a long gravel section start. Once in the woods, I started to pass a few of the geared guys. Finally, after about 20 minutes, I bridged up to the Ohio guy. I could still see Montana behind me not too far back. After the road crossing, there was a pretty good climb, so I layed it down a little more and was able to get away from Montana and the other guy. I continued my way around the lake, just trying to stay smooth since this was only my 5th Mt bike ride of the year. Once on the other side and after climbing medicine man, I heard someone behind me. It was Montana… he was closing in. He finally caught up to me and we rode together for a while. I was trying to stay smooth, but I knew he could tell I was pedaling blocks and he attacked. There really wasn’t much I could do; I was out of bottles so I hit another gel and just continued to ride. I started to come back around a little bit, but by that time the race was over. I ended up 2nd Single Speed, 1 minute 24 seconds back; and 3rd overall on the day. Good day with the big field of single speeds and geared guys.

Posted by Nate

First real pain for 2011..

Saturday was the Mountaineer Downtown Criterium in Clarksburg, WV. The race was hosted by WVU Cycling as part of their collegiate race weekend. However unlike in years past they had a public race that the rest of us to compete in. w00t! I got to the race just as the college A event was wrapping up. Man they were cooking out there. I set up the team area along the course so while we warmed up on the trainers we could watch some of the racing action. Baswell, Todd, Robbie and I warmed up and were able to cheer on Gunnar, Nate and Ben who were in a extremely fast Men's Cat 1/2/3 race. Watching that sure made the time on the trailers fly by. When even made the local news while warming up Hey look kids we're on TV!

Photo by Fred Jordan

When it was time for us to line up to race it was sure a very cool feeling to have four other teammates lined up beside me. However I was not prepared for how hard the guys at the front went off at the start. In the first lap my heart rate was pegged and snot was running out of my nose as I tried to hold onto the group. It was for sure my first extremely hard effort of the year and I forget how much it can hurt. A few laps later I looked down at my garmin and we were only 8 minutes into a 45 minute race. I was hurting and hurting really bad. I gave it everything I had but was unable to hold onto the main field of Cat 3/4 racers.

Photo by Fred Jordan

Minute or so later I was in a chase group with Ben Stephens and Ted McPherson. The pace was not much slower then the lead pack but it was just enough that I could just hang in there. Ted also did a good job of giving some of the guys on the back heck for not doing their share of the work in the group. As a group we moved around pretty well and even started to pick off one or two folks who also dropped from the main field.

Photo by Fred Jordan

Then with 12 laps to go the main field was getting really to lap us and as it did I was feeling ok so I jump out of the saddle and got on the back of it. Something was different this time. I was able to hold the pace of the field much better this time and sat on the back for 3 to 4 laps with them. Then as we came up one the start finish area with 8 laps togo I saw Todd, James and Rob all riding together and also getting ready to be lapped with by the main field I was with. I was of course already a lap down and my legs were once again just about cooked so I pulled in line with my teammates for the last few laps. We may have not been super fast but we got some good photos racing as a team, lol.. To be honest I really enjoyed riding around with them.

Photo by Fred Jordan

In the end I finished 19th in my first race ever in the 3/4 field. That field is for sure a lot faster but it definitely feels good to be racing in the faster fields now a days!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

We made the new clips.

WVU Cyclists Host Regional Race - WBOY-TV -

Recovery science learned the hard way

The Morgantown Road Race threw a couple curve balls my way last weekend. It began with a hint of snow and rain that postponed our start time. Ultimately, I just wanted to survive on a day like that. Once we started, I stayed at the front end of the category 3-4 field to avoid road spray and squirrelly riders.

I pulled three times on the way out to Waynesburg and felt pretty well. Unfortunately, on the first major climb out of Waynesburg I started to have some really annoying quadriceps cramps. At first I thought they would be short-lived and I could hydrate heavily to prevent any worsening but that wasn't the case as more and more area of my legs started cramping. I didn't even feel like I was near to using my real aerobic capacity and it didn't even seem like much of a pace increase so I was pretty frustrated. I had done the Charlottesville Virginia 10 Miler (a running race) the weekend prior and had a nice dose of delayed onset muscle soreness until that following Wednesday. I guess I dug a little deeper than I was accustomed to doing because my triathlon runs are longer but not at a 5:50-6:00 per mile pace. Prior to Saturday I hadn't really given too much thought to the true recovery necessary after being so sore because it hasn't happened in such a long time. I had lots of time to think about it once I was dropped at the top of that big climb though! I knew the rest of the race wasn't going to go well at that point so I tried to let off the pace, eat a little and then turn it into a time trial workout. Ugghh.

After another 8-10 miles I realized that wasn't happening very well either. My legs were like lead and still cramping. Every push of the pace was matched with a quad, hamstring or adductor cramp. I finally decided it was going to be better to try to relax and admit it was an all around bad day instead of digging myself into a huge deficit. Cold and wet I finally finished the darn race, mentally ready to take on another warmer, drier, and more recovered day. Fingers crossed. The stats are pretty sad but graphs are still pretty nice:

Distance: 47.88 miles
Time: 2:40:20
Average speed: 17.9 mph
Average power: 216 watts
Average heart rate: 173 bpm
Max speed: 40.7 mph
Total ascent: 2740 feet

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tired lungs and heavy legs

I write this recap with tired lungs and heavy legs. This weekend the WVU Cycling Team hosted their collegiate home road race weekend. Last year they put on an excellent downtown criterium in Clarksburg, WV, about 30 minutes south of Morgantown. This year the race was open to the public and there was a great turnout. Robbie Loehr and I carpooled in the Cat 4 mobile and showed up in time to watch a very exciting Cat 1/2/3 race with Nate Annon taking fourth place.

Todd Latocha, JR Petsko and I warmed up on the side of the course and remarked how professional the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team kits made us. Look fast go fast right? As we lined up for the start of the race the Dynamic Team had a strong representation in the field, five racers, Robbie Loehr, Todd Latocha, Ben Kuhlman, JR Petsko, and myself, James Braswell.

The race started very quickly with hard efforts from the NCVC boys from DC. I struggled to hold the pace through the first lap but quickly found myself off the back. Did I give up? No. I remembered my cornering techniques from my time in the collegiate crit racing circuit and attempted to be fast and smooth around the 1 km four corner course.

As the race progressed the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team regrouped for the last ten laps. We team time trialed holding off the main field approaching from behind. A pile up in the last corner on the last lap interrupted what I am sure would have been a spirited field sprint from the 4 man Dynamic contingency. Ben Kuhlman, who had just finished racing the 1/2/3 crit held on for a great top 11 finish.

All in all not a bad second race and first criterium effort for the season. Next time I just hope to hold the initial surge and stay with the pack. Thanks to the WVU Cycling Team, JR Petsko and all the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team sponsors. I have a feeling this is going to be a great season.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Not my favorite riding conditions....

The 2011 ABRA road race series finally got underway this weekend with the Morgantown Road Race. I was a little nervous about racing when I awoke; since this would be my first CAT 4/5 start in my second season of road racing. Once I arrived at Mason-Dixon Park, the nervousness had passed…until the BB30-sized snowflakes began falling.

The race started off with a large pack rolling along from the park to Waynesburg, PA. This was something I was a bit unfamiliar with from Cat 5 experiences last year. My goal was to stay in the top half of racers, watch how the race would unfold, and help fellow teammates Todd Latocha and James Braswell. Twenty-five miles in I would see my younger, faster teammates pull away up the first climb.

This racecourse seemed to have it all...several long, steep climbs with fast flowing rollers between. I felt like I was riding fairly well, cruising along with a few small groups, until it happened. My legs quickly let me know that I hadn’t taken time to refuel and I was dropped with 10 miles to go. Left alone spinning my legs over the next few rollers, I finally crossed the finish line.

Not my best finish and not my favorite riding conditions with the cold and snow, but definitely a fun epic race to remember. Looking forward to the second race of the 2011 season.

By Chris Jones!

My first road race!

This was my first road race! The weather never made me think twice about doing it. I know I would have felt guilty for not racing it, so why not? At the start of the race, I felt very strong. Probably too much so. I went out a bit too fast. I probabaly should have stayed more conservative and let the race unfold that way. This kind of racing is nothing like running racing like I'm used to. Usually in running races, the gun goes off and you just go, if you're in front, there's not much aof a draft, so it's not going to waste all of your energy. But I've quickly learned (hopefull) that this is not so with bike races. Drafting is huge and 50 miles is a long way. After about mile 25, I did the rest of the ride solo. So that hurt by the end, especially because it was so windy. But as JR and everyone else said this race is a huge learning experience for me and I am looking forward to racing many more. I had a lot of fun and I hope i learned what I needed to learn. Thanks everyone!

By Nicole Dorinzi

Oh well - better things to come...

Over the first 20 miles, the pack let a lone rider go and he quickly got out of sight. Over the first climb, the pace was very manageable, and the field stayed together, anticipating the next four climbs and the cold weather. I stayed at the front of the field keeping an eye on a few riders I thought would have a good day. Over the second climb, my legs still felt good and I rode at the front again, keeping an eye on the action. At the beginning of the third climb, however, there was an increase in the pace, and my legs just could not respond. I then watched the race go away from me - bad news considering I expected a very good result on the day. Over the next 2 climbs, I stayed with a small group chasing to no avail. On the last small rise I attacked the group I was with and got a small gap over the finish. Oh well - better things to come...

By Ben Kuhlman