Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 Cycling Season...Let the races begin...not sure if I'm ready yet.

"Training Camp" at Harbour Island, Bahamas
The 2015 cycling seasons have finally arrived, whether or not spring weather cared to join it.  Due to a harsh winter full of icy conditions on the mountain, we were forced to take off-season training to a much warmer climate.  So, like many other cyclists, I enrolled in a training camp on Harbour Island, Bahamas, to jumpstart my fitness for the year.  The eight-day camp involved daily cross-training sessions of snorkeling coral reefs for starfish, sand dollars and other sea creatures, and single-speed cycling from one end of the island to the other, and back.   Two-a-day workouts were surprisingly common, but unexpected, and usually involved treks when ‘energy drinks’ had become depleted.   The recovery sessions were perhaps the most grueling part of the camp—hours of holding down sand on the beach.

"Single-Speed" Training on the salt flats

Fast forward to the start of the race season….  The ABRA road race season had begun without me this year.   Unfortunately, I was sidelined with a cold for the Morgantown Road Race.  Two weeks later, I tried to race the virus out of my system by entering two races on consecutive days that weekend—the Greene County Road Race and the Mountwood Challenge mountain bike race.   The road race began better than I had anticipated since I had difficulty breathing from two weeks of sinus and chest congestion.   But, I managed to latch on to a chase group in the Master’s field on the descent after the first climb.  The group, which included Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team p/b Pathfinder teammates Devin and Jim, held a fast pace during the first lap.   All went well until the second climb in which I fell a few bike lengths behind the groupHowever, I did manage to keep a steady pace to the finish with two other Master’s riders to finish 7th . 

After a night of rehydrating, I awoke better than expected for the Mountwood Challenge.   This was a fun race over single-track trails that had surprisingly dried well from the recent week of rain.  And, it was the first race I got to compete with another teammate, Billy Slutz.   However, this race did not start well.   At the start of the race, I fell from the second row to mid pack up the asphalt road.   But, I was able to slice through an opening to gain some ground at the bottleneck into the first trail.  Half-way up that climb I was chucked over a bank into a six-foot deep creek/ditch when my call out of  “passing on your left” must have been mistaken by another rider as “please turn to your left and send me into the ditch”.  Thankfully, Billy had seen the crash, stopped riding, and pulled me out of the ditch.  Now, both of us were near the back of the back.    Back on the trail, we picked off riders throughout the 14-mile course to finish 5th and 6th on the podium.  Thanks again for the help Billy!

Mountwood Challenge Podium w/Billy Slutz

One week later and a few repairs to my Cannondale Scalpel after the Mountwood crash, I was feeling like I was over my cold and ready to compete in the Big Bear Lake Classic mountain bike race.   A second-row position at the start should yield a good result at this venue, since I was more familiar with the racecourse.  Once again, however, my luck at the start would run out…in the first 10 feet of the race.  Apparently, someone was eager to get to the front of the pack that the locked handlebars and shoulders with me before I could get clipped in to the pedals just seconds after the race director said, “go”.  This move sent me straight to the ground onto my right hip with several racers riding and crashing on top of me. I found myself at the back of the pack…. again.   I nearly pack the Scalpel into the car because of the throbbing pain in my right leg.  But, I had paid to race.  So, I might as well get a ride for my money.  Once on the bike, the leg started feeling better and I was picking off a few racers in the expert class.  I managed to catch a couple of riding buddies from the past, JB Fornash and Steve Barbe, and hold on to their wheels for a 6th place finish, just one step off of the podium.

Photo credit:  Chris Phillips
Big Bear Classic

Next up, the Fort Classic Road Race. 

Thanks to all of our 2015 sponsors that allow us to relive our youth through bicycle racing:
---Dynamic Physical Therapy
---Kenda Tires
---Performance Coaching Services
---Red Rose Imports
---ProGold Lubricants
---Morgantown Brewing Co.
---Apothecary Ale House & Cafe
---Patti's Pasticceria