July 30, 2013

Chicago Mtn Bike Race and Garage Painting

Cross season must be around the corner, I just got some new shoes in the mail today and I've done a few short running segments with Ellie while she learns the pedal bike.
Last weekend I drove down to a new race, the Paolos Meltdown, in Chicago and was pretty surprised by a great event. The race has been going on for a few years but it's the first time it worked to get down there and I'm glad I did. The course was mostly just twisty fast singletrack but not knowing the trails it took a few laps to feel even remotely comfortable. I was following Mike Phillips and Mumford for a couple laps and thought I was going to die multiple times as they dove around the blind corners and hopped the rocks and roots that I had no idea where coming. Luckily, and just barely, I think they got a little tired and slowed down at the same time I finally figured out the course so it worked out ok for me in the end and I got the win and the USA Cycling Regional championship medal. Oh yeah, and the big check! I'll be looking for this race on the schedule next year.

This last week with the cooler temperature I tackled the garage that I have been avoiding. It's easy to avoid since I don't have to look at it, but it's been in the back of my mind. It actually didn't take as long to scrape it as I thought so I only spent maybe 5hrs total scraping. I've got a coat of primer on it already and hopefully by this weekend I can have a final coat and a garage that looks like new.

July 19, 2013

Vacation Race Weekend

 At least with a smartphone I have better access to more pictures now. I'm also always blown away by some of the pictures that show up on Facebook now that people take, they are really good.
This past weekend the family and I stayed near Mt Morris at an aunt and uncle's cabin on a lake and it was a great little vacation with some bike racing thrown in. It's hard to relax though when you ahve to race 2 of the 4 days but it's a nice feeling when that was over Sunday afternoon and I didn't have to worry about thrashing my legs on the paddle boat while Jocelyn turned us in circles. She is not a good driver!

The racing actually went really well. The cross country was kind of two seperate races for me, the first 1/2 and the 2nd 1/2. I'm not sure what happened in the middle, I think I'll credit my great sponsors Clif for the turnaround since it wasn't very long after eating some gels that I started to turn myself around and start moving forward again. I wasn't as far back as I thought I was so when I started going forward I moved up into the top 10 pretty fast and finished off a solid 9th, my best Pro XCT result. The first 3 laps I was bouncing off rocks, roots, really just about anything on the ground and I didn't feel fast but the last 3 laps I was accelerating over the climbs and felt I was pushing the bike and my limits and I was going fast. I'm glad it went that way and not the other way around because it left me motivated for the short track on Sunday.

 The cabin we stayed at is on a private lake and it's really quite. The fishing is good, I dont' fish at all, ever in fact, so the last time I did was last year while we were here. I know that at this lake if you don't have a bite in 5 seconds you need to pull the hook back because they already ate your worm so I think that is pretty good fishing. I did finally catch something other than panfish, I have no idea what it was but at about 8pm I couldn't even get the worm in the water and stuff was grabbing it. I reeled in this guy, maybe 10" long, I'm thinking large mouth bass but really no idea. Ellie caught a nice crappie so we kept them both and ate them for lunch, actaully quite delicious. By far the biggest fish I have ever caught.

Finished off the race weekend with a podium finially in the short-track. I've been chasing that podium for a couple years and finally this year I had good legs and played it out right. Cyclingdirt had some really good coverage of the weekend and a short interview HERE if you are interested.

July 11, 2013

I've been trying to decide the last few weeks if I wanted to get an update up and going again or if I have just run out of time for documenting things going on around me. At one point this website was pretty fun while I was traveling and racing a lot with plenty of spare time to kill in between, now there isn't much time to even get a couple of seconds on the couch much less think about a blog post.
I've thought maybe I want to take this another direction as well but I didn't really have any huge ideas that seemed any more or less exciting as reliving last weekends race or this coming weekends travel. Still thinking about that I guess.
WORS Camrock - 1st

If you know me well enough to read the blog you know I've had a pretty decent spring up until now despite a late start and lack of any real winter fitness. The longer break than normal this spring seemed to do me better than I thought it would and I came out feeling pretty fresh and fast despite being abnormally not fit. Somehow I managed to survive the first round of WORS and even came away in 3rd. I followed that up the next two rounds with wins that really surprised me. I've really been moderating my hard efforts this year and Gordy and I have been working on honing in a little more on gauging the efforts more for this fall but using racing to keep the intensity up. It's been workign rather well, feeling fresh on my rides and still having good races, which I wasn't particularily expecting. Still, the training has been getting better and better and I am feeling like I have not hit full power by any means yet but I feel I've been riding as well as any other year, I'm pretty happy with that.

The goal this year again will be a full cross schedule with Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelley Benefits. I was fortunate enough to sign back on with them a week agp for the coming season and I am super lucky to have this support again. I'm looking forward to coming into this season a little fresher and hoping to use the next two months to really hone in on some of my weaknesses and build some pure cross strength and fitness. I think we have a good plan and it's been working well so far so we'll keep pushing away at.

This weekend I'll be racing the Pro XCT WORS race and am really looking forward to that. I'm not sure if I've got super fitness like I did 3 years ago yet but I'd like to really give it a shot to get to the front if I can get a decent callup and not get choked out of the race early on 50 guys back, we'll see how staging goes.
After that I don't have too much else on the race calendar until Ore2Shore in August and then it will be 100% cyclocross after that.

Speaking of cyclocross, I still have my equipment from last year so if anyone is looking for a deal on some Orbea cross bikes with Sram let me know, I have them for sale HERE.

I'll try and keep the blog rolling now for a while and see how it goes. Of course you can follow me on twitter where I am able to update much more often.

March 14, 2013

Not Biking Season Is Going Fast

This "not biking season" that most people call the "off season" is going really fast. That's good because we have had what seems like a ton of snow the last 2 months and a ton of just normal cold weather and little sunshine. That is really miserable generally for me but since I knew Id' be undertaking this home remodel I really haven't cared at all what the weather has been like since I've been inside working like mad. We'll, the shoveling out at two houses has not been fun, I have left work many times and shoveled out one house till 1am and then up in the morning to shovel out the 2nd. I've considered it my cross training for the winter. I also consider it endurance training since a good night sleep is now about 6.5hrs and a normal day is from 8am-12:30pm at the house and at work, some nights I head back over to finish sanding or painting something too so it's ready to go in the morning again. I've been running it tight but that's only so I can be done by the time we have a little more daylight and warm weather, cold riding isn't fun anyway and I've done my fairshare over the years
This month has all been about the kitchen. My mom saw the panic in my eyes and started donating her time to the painting which has freed me up dramatically
old kitchen

late night working

new configuration
working on contertops this weekend

timeout for some ice skating in the backyard

timeout for tunnel digging in the backyard

Mom getting it done and donating her skills and time - huge thanks

22 gallons of paint and counting to cover up 100yrs of this old house,
it's back to life now
4" of snow became 12" overnight, more tunnel digging.

I just love where this came from

to where it was going...

to the final result

Next on the list is some hardwood floor refinishing and then some warm weather for touching up the outside. See, if it was warm out I'd be panicking right now, but since it's still 17 degrees out when I wake up I just write it off as another painful winter ride I'm skipping and head over the house guilt free.

February 12, 2013

It's been about 10 years since I have taken this much time off of any sort of exercise for this amount of time. What I am saying is, I'm at a 10 year low in fitness. The good news is I rode my bike to work today ( 4 minutes) and I made it in the same time (4 minutes) that it always takes so I guess I'm doing ok and haven't lost it all yet.
After the season ends I always want to just take a break and not think about doing anything. The problem is, since racing and training is my 2nd job, having an off season is really just eliminating one of them and it really doesn't feel like much of a break, or vacation, I just have a few extra hours in the morning before work. If I didn't have a real job, I might be more motivated to keep up some sort of fitness, but mentally I'm just done for a while and just need a break, or I guess 1/2 break.

So, to fill the extra hours I have I started a house remodel. It's more exhausting than training but I've set an aggresive timeline and am trying to stick to it. I'm not in construction, but I like to learn and I like take on things like this (well, I've never taken anything on like this before) and work my way through it. Last fall we had the oppurtunity to buy a house and I'm finally converting it to a rental now that I have some extra time. The nice part is that there is nothing major that needs work, but a ton of smaller projects and mostly general neglect and repare. It's eye opening sometimes to see what some peoples standards are compared to  what we are used to. I wonder how long they lived there with the electrical messed up in the living room and no lights?

took a bit to figure this one out but it was nice to find an explanation as to the reason for the hole in the upstairs closet floor with random wires nutted together. Unfortunately for them they didn't know what wires were supposed to be together.
I've pretty much been working at the house 9-2 and then going to work, but I feel I'm getting over the hump of the major projects and then I'll be able to back off and get some workouts in besides just crawling around on my knees all day.
Major projects completed are pulling all the knob and tube electrical out of the upstairs and climbing around on planks in the attic dropping new electrical and adding outlets to all the rooms, 100 yr old homes only have 1 per room and now all 3 upstairs bedrooms have 3 and I inhaled 3lbs of insulation!
We completely gutted a gross, awkward bathroom to a clean and usable one.
pure nasty, plastic pink tile

not a plumber I guess, or even close

the new bathroom, lots of plumbing changes

We added two walk in closets to the master bedroom and new windows.

I also cleaned, scrubbed and painted the entire basement, that was one of those jobs that made a huge change with very little cost and actually not much time.
jamie getting her paint on

Painted the entire 2nd floor and I just completed and updated the 2nd floor railing/banister.
This weekend I'll finish tearing out the kitchen and start putting in a new floor and then work on new cabinets and a new layout.
Still up are refinishing some hardwood flooring, a couple more windows, 1/2 bathroom update and then some outside work when the weather warms up.

It's been a ton of work, but also at the same time not that much considering what we have accomplished and that most of the jobs I can complete in a day or two and feel like I'm making good progress. Of course the bathroom took a good week, but I had my brother-in-law come up and he did a majority of the construction/plumbing/installation work so that was a big help.
Keeping J out of trouble and paint

So, I feel a little guilty for taking 5 weeks off the bike/skiis, but I feel pretty good about what I accomplished and having a rental house will hopefully be a great investment down the road and worth the effort. The weather has generally been to crummy for anything else anyway so why suffer through it?

Ellie is a HUGE help pulling the tap measure in and out
the last project upstairs to complete, got this one done just before work today.
I bet the time it took to build this...

...was the same amount of time it took to build this

January 20, 2013


ridiculous course conditions, 
It's been a rough start to the off-season so far this year, came down with the Flu Tuesday night and was laid out in bed until Saturday morning, it was awful. Luckily, it was just a massive headache, aches,chills, and sweats but none of the other unpleasant flu stuff which was good. None the less I had some time to go over my race from last Sunday and have a lot to be happy with and a lot to take away from it.

6" wide course
 Things came together good in Verona for me. The speed I was missing in Chicago the week prior was there and it was a good feeling. Mid-week I went out motorpacing for an hour just to keep the leg speed up and maybe this is what I had been missing the previous weeks leading up to Chicago, I don't know, but I sure felt much much better on Sunday.

I haven't heard or seen anyone really talking about course conditions at nationals for the Sunday races after the fact but that course was horrible to race on. The layout is good, but the frozen ruts was extremely dangerous and just silly, the course was essentially 6" wide the whole way around. It was bad, the worst I have raced on. If that happens in Louisville, I predict the Euro's don't start. Anyway, all that said, the conditions suited me pretty well if that makes sense. I think if it hadn't been slippery on top it would have been a little different, but it was so slick out there it reduced the horsepower of most riders and that is always good for me and benefits those can ride smooth and stay upright.

So things were clicking good for me on sunday, I had a perfect setup at the OPtum trailer, I warmed up and knew I had good legs, I was warm and stayed warm while at the start line and I was feeling confident and optimistic that I could pull off a good ride. I had a great start and first lap, somewhere inside the top 10 and I rode most of the lap behind J Powers. I was smooth and confident and it was strange because riding behind Jeremy I could tell he was struggling a bit with the conditions. Of course, he straight away rode away from on the road section but I was ok riding my own pace and I new consistent lap times and staying up would be the way to race for me. Gaps opened up huge on the first couple laps, I was riding near the top 10 going back and forth with Troy Wells and Isaac Neff who was having a great ride but then I started to struggle clipping in to my pedals. It got progressively worse to the point where after seems like an eternity to finally get them in, one would just snap out anywhere in my pedal stroke sending my foot flying off in all directions. Apparently Ice was building up so thick and heavy on my shoe sole my cleat just disappeared from under my shoe. I was battling with those guys pretty good and it didn't occur to me it was my shoe that was the issue and not my pedals so I kept taking bikes but the issue was still there.
where all my problems started
that is solid ice under there
I basically rode the last 3 laps without being able to clip in at all and without any control of keeping my feet on the pedals. I couldn't get up the hills because I couldn't pull the pedal around and I couldn't keep my pressure foot on the pedal pushing down. Hindsight I should have stopped in the pits and hacked out the ice, but like I  said, it never occurred to me how bad the bottom of my shoe was or could be and in the heat of the race, thinking of stopping in the middle of a race just didn't pop up in my head. I probably could have saved maybe a 12th or 13th place, I thought maybe I could have ridden with Troy inside the top 10 but that is hard to say, it's easy after a race to say you could have done better than you did. Regardless, it was disappointing to put together a good race and have some ice on my shoes screw things up for me.

riding with troy, Isaac following

So, with Nationals behind me and obviously no selection to Worlds my season is over and I've got some downtime to think about things and look forward to taking what I've learned this year and carry it into next season. It was awesome having OPtum as a sponsor with all the added support they provided and I really have to thank them for making things significantly easier for me both on and off the bike so huge thanks to them.

Hopefully 2013 will bring some new races and good results and I'm looking forward to it.

December 31, 2012

Year End

20" of snow in Wisco right now
It's been quite a while since the last update, been quiet a while since the last race too. There hasn't been too much really going on in the excitement department to talk about really. The last races in Bend were 3 weeks ago and it almost feels like last season. I'm still not excited about this huge gap in time between the end of racing and nationals. If there were some good races it would be one thing, but really all I've seen are a few random local races around the country in warm climates and that leaves the rest of us out with not much to do.

2012 most painful ride = frozen
I will say that after 3+ weeks of not racing I am feeling anxious to go and that is a good thing. We got a ton of snow here about two weeks ago, and the temps have been in the mid 20s ever since with a few more days of 3-4" accumulations so it was more or less mandatory trainer time. The one day I tried to go out it started snowing and after 20 minutes the roads got wet and an hour later I rolled up the driveway completely soaked and frozen. Undressed, redressed and back on the trainer for the remainder of the workout. Usually I ride the trainer 1-2 months in February/March as I am getting into shape so it's a bit painful, but riding it in December after 8 months of riding is a different feeling. I am good at riding the trainer and I do it enough each season to have a good routine. I got right back in this rythm when it snowed and now 3 weeks later I am feeling some good effects of my scripted workouts which basically include some for of warm up, interval, tempo, and cooldown. It makes 2hrs go by pretty fast and the last 4 days I have done 9hrs on the trainer without much problem. I seem to get some good sensations after a bunch of weeks on the trainer too so hopefully my fitness got a boost and maybe in Chicago this weekend I can blow things out a bit and get a little speed just in time for nationals. I guess without racing it's hard to know but at least I am not shattered like I was last year right now and I feeling better with each ride and not worse.

Did anyone catch this picture of Nys holding the prize check from a race earlier this winter? 12,500 euros is a ton of cash - there is a reason he is still racing at 36 if he is making this much bank each weekend. That is just prize $$$ too, on top of endoresments, startmoney and a paycheck - that is some serious money making for bike racing.

December 4, 2012

Has it been that long since I last updated? It doesn't seem like it but at the same time it feels like quite a while ago. The cross season is a bit weird because it always seems like it's packed into such a small amount of time but then as the season nears the end we have these large gaps built in and it's hard to adjust.

I think the last time I updated was before Jingle Cross so we'll step back to there for a quick review. I had a plan going in this year but it didn't really work out. Last year I raced all 3 days and it was a hard weekend with tons of riding in the slow mud. By Sunday I was cooked and didn't have a great race and at Jingle cross, Sunday is what counts. This year I decided I'd only race Saturday and hope for great legs and a great race Sunday. I'm usually better Sunday anyway plus with work and driving adding a 3rd day of racing for me is a struggle anyway. We'll, the plan worked ok, but it wasn't anything super special on Sunday so I probably should have made the extra effort and raced Friday night as well. Who knows. Both races went ok, I was 6th on Saturday and rode a majority of the race in the front group, but sunday's race I just didn't quite feel right and struggled a little bit. I wasn't riding my bike that great and having trouble on some of the corners and my legs weren't 100% like they normally are on the 2nd day. Still, I managed a 7th and that is ok. Jingle Cross is an awesome event and we are lucky to have it here in the Midwest.

pretty cool to see race director John Meehan
out cheering us on (white shirt)

So, with the season now about 2/3 over I had a chance to finally push the reset button a little, back off a few days, catch my breath, and then hit it pretty good the last two weeks. It seems like every year at this time my energy levels start going down and the same amount of sleep that worked 4 months ago is not enough anymore. There isn't much I can do about it since I can't add time to my day but I have to try and stay focused and motivated. Having the last two weeks to get some training and quality riding in should help to get me back in a routine and hopefully boost the fitness a bit and polish up again before USGP in Oregon next week. With about 6 weeks until nationals we still have quite a bit of time to go, but really for me only two more race weekends which is a little hard to deal with. It's unfortunate the National championships were moved to January, but that we'll only be able to race 1 time in December and 1 time the week before Nationals, that is a lot of time to have to train for two weekends of racing especially when you live in WI where the whether is bad and daylight is limited. It still doesn't make sense to me but it is what it is. I'm not sure if not racing is going to make me faster for nationals or not, sometimes training is good and sometimes racing is good. I just wish I wasn't watching all the east coasters score massive UCI points at all their local races while I sit at home and watch my start position move back each weekend. I guess I need to start a local series with UCI points if I am going to be on the 2nd row for nationals. Lets hope it doesn't get to that, but I might have to.

November 13, 2012

Ouch! The last couple of weeks have been painful. I don't know what is going on this year, but I've been sick more times in the last 2 months than I have been in the last 5 years combined. Not good. And it hasn't been like a cold or something small either, it's been two different rounds of flu type something, one round before Chequamegon that laid me out for 5 days, then a second round about a month ago, and now this last week some other type of virus. I couldn't figure out what happened at Iceman or Cincinnati two weeks ago until the drive home, that's where it all came together. Sinuses packed up, ears got sore, glands got swollen and sore. Yep, got taken out by another bug and had the aches and chills for a few days after Iceman. At least I wasn't left wondering why I was so empty at the races. I was pretty disappointed to perform so bad that weekend, it would not have been a weekend I would have picked if I could have but that is not the way it works.  And then finally to top it all I got a migraine at work Thursday last week and that thing took me out. I don't think I suffer as bad as some people do, if I catch it early enough and get some migraine medication I can usually just come away with a splitting sinus headache that lasts about 2 days. I managed it this time, but they whack out my system pretty good, I get super jittery when they start, and then I crash and feel wasted when they are done. I think some people get them a lot worse so I'm probably lucky.

Anyway, despite my mortality I managed to pull myself together enough to make it down to Louisville for USGP round 7-8 this last weekend. I was unsure I should go and Saturdays' race wasn't my best, but it didn't feel bad so Sunday I went for it and actually had a good solid race. Anytime I can be top 10 at a National level race like a USGP I am pretty content and Sunday I was able to finish 7th so I was pleased with that.
Now I just need to make it through this last weekend in Iowa at Jingle Cross and I'll be looking forward to a few weekends without traveling or racing. I think my body could use the rest and recovery and hopefully also get some training and fitness for the remainder of the season.

October 24, 2012

It was good to take the weekend off of racing, it  wasn't so good to have a mild case of the flu for a couple days last week. Ellie and Jamie had the flu while I was gone last weekend in Ft Collins and despite my best efforts to keep it away, there really isn't that much you can do to stay away. Probably my best effort was not to finish Ellie's meals or finish her milk, which always seems to be sitting on the table 1/2 gone, but when kids require you to do most things for them when they are 3, there isn't much you can stay away from them.

It wasn't totally out of the plan to go easy last week anyway though, I'd raced 8 times in the last 4 weeks so a bunch of days easy to recover was in order and having the flu mid-week didn't change that plan very much. That said, I was in partial denial the whole time I had it and rode maybe 45 minutes each day anyway, except for maybe the worst day when I was really achy and tired, but I still went to work and in my opinion, if I can't ride I shouldn't be at work either, but usually I don't have that option even though technically, at work, you are supposed to. It must not have been that bad of a bug in the end though and not nearly as bad as whatever layed me out for 5 days  about 6 weeks ago before Chequamegon. Or, maybe after that round it just made this one not seem near so bad.

This coming weekend starts another heavy month of racing. First I'm headed out for a quick weekend to Boulder for the races there. Then I'm really looking forward to heading over to MI in two weeks for the Iceman and also the plan is  still to get down to Cincinnati the following day for the big CX race there before heading home. Then Louisville USGP races follwing and Jingle cross to finish things off for November. Busy busy but mentally I feel really fresh and ready to go and that is good. I have prepared all season for these months and it's exciting looking forward to each event. Gordy has me on a steady good ramp the last few weeks and the results show it. Also having the travel support from Optum is making a difference, comign home and not cleaing and redoing bikes has been such a great benefit, I've actually had some time to think this year inbetween races vs. other years.