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.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


“I always start these events with very lofty goals, like I’m going to do something special. And after a point of body deterioration, the goals get evaluated down to basically where I am now – where the best I can hope for is to avoid throwing up in my shoes.”

-Nuclear engineer and ultra runner Ephraim Romesberg, sixty-five miles into the Badwater Ultramarathon

Wilderness 101 is long over and I feel bad taking this long to write a post but I’m not sure even weeks after if I can accurately describe how I felt about the whole thing. All I really know is it was a blast. A week or two prior, we hiked up to Ellicottville, NY for a little race called 6 Hours of Power. The town was adorable, but I was seriously lacking any motivation to race. I was more interested in a new found little game of packrafting; pedaling to some far off exotic location, inflating a sub-five pound kayak, loading bike and gear on front, then paddling off around glaciers, fishing and whale-watching. Big dreams right? Luckily for me they never stop rolling. Guiltily, I lined up at the start next to a really excited Palermo girl, knowing

good and well that I only wanted to do a cross-country race that day. So I rode four laps and hunkered down in the shade while everyone else suffered like dogs in the heat.

The night before Wilderness all I could think was- if this is as hot as 6HOP or as brutal as Stoopid 50, I’m going to die. I felt just okay at Lumberjack, but still by no means ready for another

hundred miler. I haven’t even pedaled a century on the road this year and haven’t slept in two days. Stoopid is one of my all time favorite races but it’s packed full of rocky single track that most people can’t handle for a couple hours. I finished two minutes behind Misty in 6th place in under six hours. I just can’t stomach the idea of doing that twice in one day. Not yet anyway.

The entire campground was silent by 9pm the night before and everyone was scrambling at 5am when the gong went off. I watched Montana’s girlfriend picking almonds and quinoa out of the lid of an almond can. The whole 90 lbs of her if that made me feel too guilty to eat a ‘hardy’ breakfast before the race. My stomach was in knots anyway so half a bagel and an egg white would have to do.

Somehow after crawling out of the port-o-john I ended up smack on the start line in front of 350 riders. I have absolutely no right being up here, I thought to myself but stayed in front, tucked into the 27mph pace set by the would be leaders and took off grinding up the first climb. After a mile or so, I settled down. This is insane- I can NOT ride this hard this early in a race. God I can’t ride this hard in a thirty mile race! Ruthie and Misty passed me near the top and tore off while I settled into a nice calm chug a lug lug. I thought for sure they’d both beat me as the mojo settled into my feet. I still wasn’t awake yet. Finally after a grueling six mile climb or so, we started down another hill and I slowly started to wake up and grab wheels for short pulls on flat sections. I couldn’t

believe we still hadn’t found any single track but I wasn’t upset with that either. The pine forests and miles of ferns and boulders were great scenery. Even the occasional dead porcupine was better than getting torn apart in rock gardens. By the time I reached the first aid station I had only drank one bottle of water and started feeling better. The next hill was a familiar one. I caught back up to Ruth near the top and excited to finally have someone to ride with she tore off and tried to ditch me. I caught her again on the downhill after picking off a few straggling

guys who got in the way and on the next climb I turned around and she was out of sight. It’s a race, so in a sick sadistic sort of way, that made me feel better. By the time I finally found some single track I also started catching up with a bunch of riders I remembered blowing by me on the first climb. I felt a small grin spreading across my face when I rolled across the three bridges because the photographer, instead of shouting great job, or keep it up Buerkle,

just threw in my face that Rob was waaaay ahead of me. Hmm, I thought…. I’ll go faster then. So I set a goal for the day. I left the single track with a small entourage of guys from CT and Baltimore who had a nice pace going into Aid station two. At this point I didn’t realize we were 40 miles into the race and I was finally starting to feel good, so I took off with one bottle and munched on a few clif blocks.

Shortly after the Magic Carpet Ride we pedaled down a couple hills that literally made my legs quiver. This hill and every hill after that actually. The theme of the race was grind for five miles to the top of a road, then bomb down ¾ of a mile of gnarly single track. Most I recognized from the old Stoopid 50 course and just fell in love with them.

The heat started climbing by the time I got to aid station 3. I had to leave my camelback thinking it’d be good to stretch out a little. I started off with a mouth full of Pringles again oblivious to the mileage and just before the ‘beer station’ I finally caught up to Misty. She really wasn’t feeling well, so happily I trudged up the next climb and grinning ear to ear tore off down the next piece of deer trail. On a downhill, before aid station 4 I think I passed a dozen guys walking their bikes.

When I got to the 4th aid station, there were a couple women who decided to quit and for the first time that day I was a little curious about where I was placed in ladies field. The shade felt great but I knew if I didn’t keep moving I would blow up. It had finally hit me that this was roughly 70 miles into the race and not once had I thought about quitting. I stuffed another handful of Pringles in my mouth and rolled down around the bend. Just a few hundred yards away a sharp 90 degree turn yielded another disgusting climb. A little chipmunk must have heard me sigh because he started snickering as I started hiking. According to my number plate this would be a long one. I was so completely discouraged and exhausted to care about pedaling or reaching any specific time goal. I didn’t care at this point. I still felt good but was getting really tired. Like sleepy tired but still never thought about quitting. I was really enjoying myself. At the top of that climb Mark Liti caught up to me and we spent the next 30 miles pushing each other on the road sections. There was one final rocky downhill road leading into the last aid station that left my fork saturated in oil and stiff as a board so with numb arms and a grumpy knee I did what any normal person would do- I stopped to pee. I was a little grumpy because I was hungry and got dropped by some chick that talked way too much and was too happy to be 10 hours into a ride. After yet another wonderful mouth full of Pringles, an empty bladder and defending the half a brain I have with the aid station guys over my broken fork, I rolled out again glued to Marks wheel for another ten miles of baking on the rail trail.

By this point I was absolutely exhausted. I didn’t care who passed me or how long it took to finish as long as I didn’t pass out from the heat. I was nauseous and hungry but couldn’t stomach another gulp of water or food. After one final death march I hung on through the last downhill sort of feeling guilty for leaving a guy basically dying from heat stroke at the top. A few gun shots went off as we hiked through the boulder garden and I couldn’t help but muster out ‘geez mister just put me out of my misery’… I was still grinning. After this crappy section of rocks it’d be smooth sailing. I lazily hiked across the narrow railroad bridge and we popped out of the other side of the tunnel this time subtracting nearly taking out a group of kids with rafts and rolled into the finish. Barely rolling, but it felt good to finish. A high five sealed the deal and I ended up 8th in the women’s field.

A few minutes later I was laying in the babbling stream when some guy decided to throw up in the creek maybe a foot away from me. I just sat there. I couldn’t move I hurt so bad, then finally grossed out went to eat dinner. Twice.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

BIcycle Racing, for your (Mental) Health

Bicycle racing, good for your body and your mind. Being part of this cycling team this season has probably done more good for my mental health than anything else. Having a group of supportive team mates encouraging me to get back in the saddle, as well as so many generous sponsors to facilitate our racing has helped me move past some difficult personal issues this year.

It all began with JR our, team director, dragging me, no ifs ands or buts, all the way to Lake Placid for the Wilmington/Whiteface 100k Leadville Qualifier. I was feeling down on my fitness and mentally unprepared but after spinning around Lake Placid and registering for the race I was starting to feel that familiar pre-race excitement. Early to bed, earlier to rise and we were off to the races. JR, bless his big heart, kept me in the race until my second wind which helped me put in a respectable 4 1/2 hour race finishing 38th

After a much needed confidence boost Todd LaTocha and I prepared for the Big Bear 2x12. Another excellent showing of personal support and team morale with the Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team setting up shop in the VIP section. Consistency was key for Todd and I to take 5th place in the Men's Open Pro/Expert Field. This was a great accomplishment and also helped to further boost my self-esteem as a racer. It also brought me closer to my teammates as we cheered each other on to excellent results in their fields.

The most recent, sorry JR, and most challenging race of my season was the Hill Billy Roubaix. Coming off of a head cold I found myself quickly red-zoned and walking some of the very first climbs. After reaching the first aide station I had a lot of quit inside of me. I walked around and decided to wait for fellow teammate and long time cycling buddy, Robbie Loehr.

Robbie had suffered a double flat just a few short miles into the race and knew after that he was out of the running. However, we decided to solider on. We rode the next 55ish miles together talking, joking, dragging each other up the climbs, and down the twisty, narrow decents, drag raced down 50 mile and hour hill. Even though our finishing times were greater than we had hoped we probably had more fun than anyone else that day. For things like that I am greatful.