Here I am returning from my first training ride of the new season on Christmas day. I got home just as it started raining. Today I was inside on the trainer after work. I did my baseline power test. I think I had forgotten how bad 20 minutes can hurt. Hopefully we'll have a few more races without rain this year.
Since the Dirty Dozen I've been spending all of my time off of the bike, running, and preparing for next season. The only times I've been on the bike is on Monday night MTB rides. I have been running and doing squats every day after work. I've also been playing hockey on Sunday nights. I start riding again Christmas day and I'm really looking forward to it.
I started playing hockey again a few weeks ago for some off-season crosstraining. Now that the racing season is pretty much over except for the Dirty Dozen I have to decide if I should keep riding hard to get ready or take some time off. I had originally planned on riding hard until the Dirty Dozen and then taking December and January off from riding and start running to rebuild some much needed bone density that is probably lost from the greatest non-weight bearing sport in the world (cycling). Now I've started to read on message boards how people have taken the last month off and have started LSD rides already to get ready for next season. I'm not quite sure what to do, if anyone has suggestions e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org This post may be boring and nothing anyone else cares about but someone needs to post here.
Greetings, So glad to be back after a long hiatus from posting. After spending the last 2 months hitting the books for my first semester at the University of Vermont, I have come out alive. In addition, I spent some time racing with the UVM cycling team at a couple mountain races including the University of New Hampshire Men's B race and UMass's Men's A Race at Jiminy Peak. Both weekends were exciting and packed with plenty of short track and cross country racing. Getting out and seeing some of the New England countryside was also pretty nice. Anyways, both cross country courses were well constructed and suitable for a PA boy such as myself, with fast, wet, rooty and rocky, technical singletrack. On the other hand, UMass constructed, very masochistically, a short track XC course consisting of laps straight up Jiminy Peak's ski slopes and right back down again. Painful. In the end, I earned my gold star with a 1st place finish in the Men's B XC race and 6th in the STXC at UNH and 9th place in the Men's A XC and 7th STXC at UMASS. In the end, the University of Vermont comes out on top, winning the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) title in MTB by 4 points over UMass. Can't wait for 'cross season to start.
Here is the new System6 Rich got in today. It is equipted with full Ultegra and Mavic wheels, and it's in my size. It is one pretty bike
Well to say that August was a boring month would be an understatement. Not paying attention to the warning signs I continued to ride and train during the entire month. I also competed in 2 races, Ole bull Midnight Madness, which is a 12 hour Mounting Bike Race of which I completed approximately 6 hours of due to outlandishly poor conditions, bike malfuntions and feeling poorly. The second was the Seven Springs / Subaru 24 Hour Challenge. This is the one that did me in. Again I was already sick and had been for almost a month. This weekend adventure started for me at about 0700 am. On Saturday Laborday weekend and ending ending around 1700 on Sunday. Despite my physical condition I was very excited about the race. Even though the weather was not good. Conditions didn't matter though, This race is always a blast and I couldn't wait to get started. The race itself was really a lot of fun even thought the conditions got worse as the day progressed. As told by the previous Blog by Brian. Now this is where the 7 days in the Hospital come into play and is probably due to several reasons. Already being sick, continuing to train while I was sick, Racing while I was sick and staying up for 34 hours all lead to the depletion of my immune system. During the 24 hour race I developed a slight abrasion on the inside of my leg and a slight saddle sore, neither of which through up red flags to me. The next day,Monday, I started running a high fever which by Tuesday reached the High of 104 which landed me in the local Emergency room. They're diagnosis was the common flu, take 2 aspirin and take it easy for a few days. Still the abrasion and saddle sore weren't of any concern. Wednesday was a different story though, the abrasion started looking funny and redness started creeping down my leg and by Thursday I had swelling the size aof a baseball on the inside of my thigh and the redness continued down my leg. This fever was also persistent. By Friday I could not take it anymore my condition was deteriorating and I went to se my family Physician who imediatly started me on antibiotics, with the instructions to keep a close watch on things. By Sunday the infection had consumed my entire leg to my knee which meant a speedy trip to the Hospital. The following week in a nutshell. Sunday = Admitted to the Hosopital with a possible Staff infection. 24/7 of the stongest vein bunrning antibiotics they could dish out. Monday = verification of staff infection 103 temp on Monday evening. Tuesday = More Vein burning antibiotics and the ifection seems to be responding. Wednesday = Surgery and still receiving antibiotics Thursday through Saturday = More of the same changing my IV line every other day. Released on Saturday afternoon. One more week of oral antibiotics and recovery. And at least another month off the bike. All I can say is be careful.
The Subaru 24hour Champion Challenge was this weekend. It was cold, rainy and muddy. It was also a blast. Now don't get me wrong this was a different kind of fun. It wasn't the laughing/smiling kind of fun. It was the kind of fun that you have when you are so miserable and sleep deprived that everything seems hilarious. My day started at 0730 when I woke up and looked outside to see a downpour that was the remnants of hurricane Ernesto. Then I got my car packed, ate breakfast and headed out to meet Rich and go to Seven Springs. When I was sitting at the gas station waiting I got a phone call from Rich saying that he would be late because his camper tires were low and he hadn't noticed until the last minute. He finally got there and met me at 9:10 and we were off. We arrived at the race venue at 10:30 and immediately started to set up camp. By this time the rain had slowed to a mist but the field where we were setting up had so much water laying on it that my feet were completely soaked by the time we were done setting up. From there I went to the pre-race meeting and to pick up our band that we had to pass between riders at the beginning and end of laps. Nick was volunteered to go first so now it was time for him to head to the start finish line. He headed out at noon and Rich, Mark, and I were still working on setting up camp. About an hour later we all went up to the transition area to see Nick finish his lap and see just how fast (or slow) the course would be. It was truly unbelievable when Tinker came through second. Here this guy is doing a 24-hour solo and he beats our guy by almost 15 minutes. I was second in the rotation, so now it was time for me to head out. I was expected to be the slow guy in our team so there wasn't too much pressure on me. Good thing because I got a flat less than 2 miles into my lap. I finished in 1 hr, 38 minutes. Not a great time by any stretch of the imagination but it was only about 15 minutes slower than Nick and with the flat added in, I was happy with the time. Rich was up next and he did his lap and came back and reported the trail conditions were getting worse and worse all the time. With this Mark was off to complete his first lap. When Mark came back he told us the same thing as Rich that the trail conditions were awful. Nick was off next for what would be the last day lap. I was up next and I got the privilege of passing Mike who had been riding for over 7 hours at that point and was feeling really sick. This was my first night ride ever and I was almost blind with the fog. My lap time went from 1 hr, 38 min for the first lap to a 1 hr 58 min for the night lap. That was the beginning and end of my night riding experience. I decided I was done for the night because my MTB skills and lack of light could end up getting me killed. Rich went out next and did his night lap and said by that time the fog had died a little after you dropped off of the top of the mountain. Mark said he would do the next two laps so that he could get some sleep before his last lap of the day. I took Mark another bottle and a few gels between laps. Nick went out next for his night lap and then Rich went out for his second night lap. I went out after Rich for what would be my last lap. My goal was to go under 2 hours but that was in doubt when I was less than 4 miles into the lap and felt like I was on the verge of bonking and I had no food and only a small bottle of energy drink. It was slow going but it was looking like I was going to make it. Then when I got close to the finish and realized what time it was my new goal was to finish before 10 o'clock so I could get pancakes at the lodge. I finished my lap at 10:03 a measly 3 minutes too late so no pancakes for me. Mark went out after me for our last lap. When I got back to camp Rich had already started to tear down camp. I had something to eat and then I started to pack up as well. There are many adjectives to describe this race so here they are in no particular order: fun, muddy, cold, wet, tiring, ect.
This was a real mess. It rained for all but about 45 minutes during the race. To make matters worse, for some reason the dirt is not the normal dirt at Ole Bull. It is some sort of dirt/sand mixture that can really mess up your day when it is wet and gets in every possible crack and crevis. Now to the race. It started with the LeMans style start that about killed my knee that still hurts from my wreck last week at seven springs. The first lap I felt slow but still OK, I guess. The second lap I started to feel really good so I wasted no time in the transition tent and headed out for my third lap. The feeling good didn't last long because within the next half mile I was cramping in both thighs. I tried to ride through the cramps but over the next 3 laps I just got slower and more miserable so I called it a day after 5 laps at slightly after 6 o'clock. Rich had mechanical difficulties and finished his day a little after I did. Mike was next to finish a little after dark with 7 laps completed. Then finaly Mark called it a day about 30 minutes after Mike, also with 7 laps completed. It was fun but it would have been better without the rain and sand/dirt.
this past week culminated a season of wonderful training and racing at the I'national Tour De 'Toona out in wonderful Al-toona, PA. Both Nick and I took part in our perspective racing categories, he in the Cat 4's and I Cat. 3's, and ended with some good results and a lot of experience. 7/28 Tour de Toona Points race Martinsburg Circuit Race. Well I must say the key word for this race had to be crash. After being told of how the Jamaicans call the rain "liquid sunshine" due to the steady drizzle happening before the race start, the category 3 race began and 30 seconds off of the starting line and onto the course, a rider was riding the center line, which so happened to turn into rumble strips, and took himself and about 2o fellow riders down, and pushed other riders off the right side of the road. A beautiful start to a frightening race. After about half of the first lap, and numerous crashes/punctures/mechanicals took many riders out of contention, a driving rain and gale force wind combo made for a punishing struggle back towards Martinsburg for the second of the two lap race. With few hills on course and no breaks to speak of the field moved pretty quickly through this race and gunned toward the ending 5 wet and slippery corners to the finish line that accounted for 5 more crashes and my near crash in this race. In the end I found 39th place because of my slip up but stayed safe. Nick on the other hand had a dry race because of the Cat 4's early start and came out flying with a 5th overall. 7/29 Blair County/Altoona RR Race of Attrition. Quite brutal. This 70 miles jaunt through the back country wound the Category 3 field 4 miles up blue knob, as well as 4 other KOM worthy climbs including one completely off-road climb. Needless to say, when the field hit the blue knob hill, the race exploded into a bunch of little chase groups and the front group of 10 or so. I was relegated to the first chase group and played chase the whole time with a few others, most of which didnt want to work to get towards the front group. So our pitiful chase ended up amassing about 30 riders before a few people took off at the front and held the lead on the last long climb of the day before a speedy downhill through horseshoe curve and into Altoona. By the time I made it to the 3k to go sign, entire quadricep began to seize up into one enormous ball of muscle and severely limit my ability to finish the brutal day. After dragging some non-pulling riders to the line, i made a decent 29th overall. 7/30 Downtown Altoona Crit The final day after the first 100 miles of the race was pretty easy, despite being a crit. The course was a relatively short fast mile loop through downtown altoona with 6 turns and 2 short climbs. It made for a fun sight to see and an even better course to ride. A quick start led to many riders dropping off of the back and the pace was kept relatively high. It was uneventful expcept for the final lap when a small group of 3 got away and took the top spots with the field gunning for the rest. I ended with a 28th overall. Nick took 19th in the Cat 4's A fine end to a full weekend of races. Back to Saturday again. The Wilderness 101 race. Mike Maher was the lonely contestant from Indiana Cycling to take on the brutal 11000ft of climbing and 101 mile course since I decided to opt out for the road this year. He had a difficult start finding a rythem for the race but once he found his pace, breezed through the course to chop off an excellent 30 minutes from last years time to 10 hrs even. A great race.
Unofficial Results posted on Ohio Mountain Bike Championship's Website http://www.results.ombc.net/ Mike Maher 15th 100k Alex Cox 17th 100 mile Cyclingnews.com's report of the race http://www.cyclingnews.com/mtb.php?id=mtb/2006/jun06/mohican100_06
Due to lack of time and no lack of racing, I'll lump all of these races into one larger posting. Jennerstown,PA 5/21 First, the 2nd freddie fu Jennerstown Crit. The day started out pretty nasty. Rain/T-storms were being called for all day long in addition to 40-50 degree temps, and winds gusting upwards of 30 mph, not a good forecast for race day. Still, a good sized field showed up for the crit, including Brian Hopkins and myself. The race started off slowly with very little action in the pack. The conditions certainly made everyone feel pretty lethargic and not wanting to do much. After about 9 laps of the course and a few failed attempts at pushing the pace, Doug Riegner made a solo break from the pack. Seeing my opportunity, I jumped and was able to get a gap on the pack while advancing toward Doug on the back stretch of the course. I was able to carry this advantage over into the technical inner section of the course because the wet, muddy corners of the infield were much easier to maneuver solo at high speeds than in the midst of a large pack. After chasing for a few laps, i had him down to about a 5 sec. gap, but didn't have the oomph to close the last little gap and latch onto his wheel. The race continued this way with Doug leading, me chasing him, and our ever-expanding lead on the field. At the end of the last 21 laps, Doug lapped the field with his commanding lead, and i came in for a solid second with a minute gap on the field, and brian contested the sprint with a 4th place finish overall. A good victory for Indiana Cycling. Ligonier,PA 5/28 The next weekend, Indiana came out in force to the Cat 3/4 men's PA state championship race. Mike, Brian, Nick, and I came out to contest the race. The day was beautiful and ideal for a race of this caliber. Apparently the rest of PA felt the same way, because there was a field 100 deep in the beginning of the race. The start consisted of a large neutral lap around the historic Diamond of Ligonier and then back to the Ligonier H.S. where the staging of the race took place. From here the field took off into the mountains of the Laurel Valley. The narrow winding climbs, flats, and descents were very tightly packed with riders as we weaved through the course, but that didn't slow down the pace. Most of the pack stayed upright and together for the entire ride with the exception of a few minor wrecks at the beginning that separated the field and took a few good riders out of contention. Despite having a few descisive areas where it could've been possible for a break to be established, nothing came of anyones efforts to get away. Inevitably, the race came down to a 55 mph downhill bunch sprint. The result of this large bunch was one rider getting taken down and having a 30 second facial pavement scrub, and taking a trip to the emergency room for his wounds. Overall, Nick got 5th (Also taking the cat 4 pa state championships) and I got 13th overall (3rd cat 4). An enjoyable day of racing on a hilly yet fast course. Beaver,PA 5/29 Mercifully the Snitger's Cycling Classic the next day was at 2pm, giving a sufficient amount of time to sleep and recover from the day before. I met Brian in Monroeville and we took off towards Beaver in what would prove to be a heat-stroke inducing day. The temps climbed as we waited for the first races to finish up and our lap of the course to open up. The race began with the master's class starting 5 minutes ahead of the Cat.4's. But the Cat. 4's started off fast and the speeds quickly took off as the field gained momentum. Unfortunately in the 3rd lap, someone crashed coming around one of the 9o degree turns on the back stretch of the course, causing Brian to take a flying bunnyhop through the adjacent yard at 30 mph and landing the foot drop off the other side of the curb. This slowed him down and left him racing to catch up to the pack, with 4 stragglers hanging on his wheel, yet taking no pulls. I was able to stay up in the top 10 throughout the race and attempted breakaways on numerous occasions. Making a jump with Eric from the UPMC squad, i nabbed a prime and thought we had a good gap on the field, but we ended up getting reeled in about a lap and half later thanks to both of us being pretty cooked from the effort in ligonier the day before. On the 4th to the last lap the lead pack overtook the masters and then everything ended up going to crap as the masters grabbed onto the 4's wheels and noone knew who to chase. The last lap the pace ramped up significantly and riders began to get dropped. On the last small hill to the finish line, the front pack i was with made a huge effort and as we topped the hill I figured my only chance was to hold the pace and catch everyone off guard before they had a chance to take the sprint on a straightaway. I got to the line in second, ending the weekend on a high note with a much better race.
After becoming happily graduated from the Greensburg-Salem School District on Thursday June 1, I decided that a graduation party was in order. So what better way to celebrate a 12 year block of schoolwork than by tackling the Mohican 100 MTB race out in Loudonville, Ohio. To put things into simple terms, this was a race of attrition. Apparently, this portion of Ohio had been under a dry spell for about a month before recieveing about 5 days worth of rain the week before race weekend. Needless to say, the course was more than a bit f-ed up from the weather. And one can only imagine how bad it must have been when the race director, Garth Prosser of Cannondale, after questioned as to the condition of the trails said that, I quote, "This is going to suck". That left everyone a bit shaken and hoping for the best, expecting the worst. The next day began at 5:30 on a crisp late spring morning with clear skies with no forecast of rain for the day, perfect MTB weather. All the racers slowly began to rise and prepare for the 100 miles or 100 kilometres ahead. All gathered close to the 7 am hour at the entrance to the Mohican Hotel to hear the race instructions and line up for our "neutral" roll-out. Unfortunately, someone forgot to inform the state park police driving the lead vehicles about the concept of "neutral" when the pack rolled out at about 25-30 mph on the roads heading toward the dam hill to get the race underway. When the race was off at the bottom of the dam hill, I was fortunate to have good positioning in the front of the pack and with decent climb-abilities, kept that positioning over the hill and down into the singletrack. My race appeared to be going quite well, i was feeling ok, the new Cannondale Rush frame was a dream ride and everything was fast and fluid. Until about a half hour into it when my chain exploded. Every racers dream, a mechanical to ease the pressure of the next 95 miles ahead of you. After about 5 minutes of fumbling with the wonderous quick-link and getting the chain reattatched and in working order, i had only lost about 30 places, including hearing fellow racers, Nick Broskovich, Mike Maher, and Doug Miliken fly past during my ordeal. Just the boost i need to get my arse in gear. Off down the trail i go, probably at about 30k race pace, not so hot an idea when the race your in is 4 times that length. I passed by a few and eventually caught up to Mike and Doug furthur down the trails. Speaking of trails, at this point, they were slowly deteriorating into about half of the width of a normal trail from the complete washout they had recieved pre-race. Thanks to this I found the one moss covered rock to catch my now completely mud covered front tire with that threw me over the handlebars, onto my face, on a rock. Another confidence booster to happen at the beginning of a long race. With both face and knees torn apart from the fall, I got back onto the bike and made my way toward the back of the lead pack again, only to catch up as the race turned upward up the meanest hike-a-bike to ever take shape. A perfect time to grin and bear the calf-tearing pain. At the top of this hill, i made my way down the opposite side, only to be confronted by, miraculously, the front end of the pack, in a quandry as to which direction we were supposed to go to the first rest stop. Before deciding which way to go, another biker happend by who had broken his seatpost and was riding standing up for the last hour, the perseverance of a champion. After much debate, it was decided to continue up the SECOND huge hike-a-bike, equal in length and steepness as the one that we had done 30 seconds ago. This spilled out onto the correct trail to get to the rest stop, only we were going in the opposite direction that the race was supposed to go. After grabbing food at the first rest stop, the race basically restarted itself with everyone in the same place. The trail took us to the base of an on-road big-ring climb up to the next section of trail. And this is where everything deteriorated. The next 20 miles to the 2nd rest stop had us riding through completely washed-out horse trails, with streams actually running through the center of some trails, and other times with the trails falling into a river running parallel to the trails. Traction was minimal, hiking was often, not a fun part to speak of. After the race spilled out onto some more sturdy gravel sections, i was able to make up some more time. Between catching up with my Dad and Sheila at the 2nd rest stop, the quad-tearing climbs, the complete physical and mental destruction of the next 30 miles, and about 20 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, i can honestly say it was decent riding despite the pain that i had already brought onto myself by going out much harder than was necessary. Mostly the riding consisted of lots of gravel roads, a little bit of slick singletrack, and some long rails-to-trails, and a couple brutal muddy uphills. And then i arrived at the last aid station. The ladies there gave my racing mind a bit of calming by telling me there was only 11 more miles to the finish. Whew. The last 11 miles of singletrack were the same we had ridden out on, only backwards. Except for the very end, where the race was led up another excessively maicious run-up that would make the most hardy cyclo-crosser cry. Straight up the face of a 500 odd meter dam to the road ontop. At the top of the dam, the road led up again towards the Finish line where of this 10+ hr odyssey lay waiting. Unfortunately, the line lay at the top of another section of washed out mud caked trail and a 100 meter grass climb. At this point, i no longer cared. To be here was more than i could imagine. i collapsed after the line, completely and utterly mentally and physically spent from the effort. I left everything out on the trail. After laying face down in the grass for a good bit of time, the gods smiled upon my fate by granting me a room at the hotel for the night. I carried my bags down to the room, showered, and promptly passed out for about 6 hours. Waking up famished, i made my way down to the lounge and acquired a lovely 16'' pizza, which i devoured in its entirity, with the exception of 1 piece that my dad managed to get. At the end i came up with a top 20 placing overall, at about 10 hours 15 minutes over the 101.2 miles and 10,000+ feet of climbing in this race. Pictures to come.
I really sucked things up on Sunday. I knew I wouldn't be great because I'm not really made for a completely flat course or crits in general but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. It was my first cat. 3-4 race also which was different because it was faster by far than any other that I've been in thus far. I started on the front line but after some difficulty shifting into my large chainring on the first lap I was quickly in the back of the pack. Then I had to deal with passing all of the people who were getting dropped. It probably took half of the 40lap race until I had worked my way through the rubble and got to the front where I could be more comfortable. I ended up finishing 12th after passing 3 people on the final sprint but I was in a really bad position coming out of the last corner that turned us around 130 degrees towards the finish. After that turn it was just a short sprint to the finish line and I had no chance. I guess next time I just have to be smarter and be in a better spot for the final sprint. I do feel good that I was able to hang in and felt good while doing it. At no time did I feel like I was on the verge of getting dropped which sort of suprised me but made me happy at the same time. Hopefully I can improve for the next race in two weeks.
The final Mingo Creek road race of the year was today. I woke up and heard rain and thunder and wanted to go back to sleep. I decided to go since I told Nick I would be there and it turned out to be a good idea because the day cleared up, the sun came out, and it was beautiful. I didn't know if I had fully recovered from my 105 mile outting on Thursday so I didn't know if I'd be able to stay with the lead group let alone do well. That was OK since Nick was ahead of me in the series points so I was just going to lead him out anyway. Everything was goin well and the race wasn't going at a crazy pace because any time someone would try something Spokes-N-Skis would chase them down because they wanted a sprint since they had the largest team at the race. With one lap to go I told Nick that I'd go to the front on the next lap and give him the best leadout I could with whatever I had left. Well, on the last lap I saw an opening, yelled at Nick and jumped. He was on my wheel and we were off. The next thing I know I hear Nick say "go, we have a gap". So I hammered as hard as I could to the finish and ended up with the win.(Nick was nice enough not to come around my wheel and beat me) He ended up getting third. Then we found out at the awards cerimony that along with our first and third places from today we ended up finishing second and third in the overall points. It was a good day for Indiana Cycling.
So, You are probably wondering what this subject might mean. One of you probably has an inkling of what I am about to write about.We have all had mishaps on the bike, yo ride you wreck thats the name of the game. While mountain bikeing you been thrown fore and aft, over logs and onto rocks. Road riding you have been sent flailinginto the air by pilons, other riders or wet bridges, train tracks etc. but what I wxperienced this evening was a totally diferent sensation. As some of you know I have entered the realm of fixed gear. A dear friend of mine built me up a fixed gear conversion for Christmas and I have been enjoying it quite a bit. A fixed gear for those who don't no is basically a Track bike with brakes or in other words a bike with one gear and pedals that are always turning even when you are costing. Now you can probably guess that this takes some getting used to, the fact that the pedals are always turning takes a little while to get used to, but as I said I have been riding since Christmas and have become quite comfortable with it. So comfortable that I have been riding clipless pedals for a few weeks now which, until this evening, has made riding the bike even more enjoyable. Now for the ejection part. As I am leaving for my ride for whatever reason I have trouble getting clipped in to the right pedal, so I'm kind of not paying full attention to what is happening.Add to this a friend of mine is comming by on an evening run and we exchange niceties. SLIGHTLY DISTRACTED + TALKING TO FRIEND + FORCING RIGHT CLEAT DOWN WHILE PEDAL COMING UP =................ You gueased it EJECTION!!!!!!!! Over the hadelbars and into the middle of the road. Now on the bright side of thins there were no cars coming in either direction and my friend got a good chuckle and rated the whole incident as a perfect 10 een though I didnt quite ace the landing.
I just returned from my ride no more than 5 minutes ago. Sorry Rich, I didn't want to wait until this afternoon for fear of a snow storm. It's funny how cycling seems to work. When I left home I was planning on doing a 30 mile loop and was debating if I even wanted to go that far. Now, 56 miles later I finally return home and feel great. It's only 34 degrees outside but with no wind and some spots of sunshine it's actually really nice out to go for a ride. I love this sport!
Here I am returning from a wet, cold, sloppy 40 mile ride this morning. It really was a great time and I wish you all could have been there but since you weren't I had all of the fun myself