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.