Back at it!

Somehow the off-season gets a little shorter every year. Nonetheless, the 2012 season is underway and it’s time to get back into the blog scene a little bit. The Texas proXCT got things started off last weekend and this afternoon we’ll race round #2 here at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, CA. Before getting into the race reporting, let’s take it from the top and outline the 2012 season.

This year I’ll be racing in the Momentum Endurance kit with the support of Arizona Cyclist. This has been my go-to shop ever since I first moved to Tucson. Ryan and his staff go above and beyond to help their customers and have certainly defined themselves as the shop for mountain bikes in Tucson.

Crankbrothers has come into the picture in a big way. They stepped up The Race Club and are supporting Chloe this year. They make some excellent product and I’m excited to ride their equipment. More than well designed components, I’ve come to meet some awesome people behind the products and I’m happy to represent this crew.

Clif Bar has been my go to choice for training and racing nutrition for 5+ years now. The variety of options is great when the training workload is high and having my go to favorites for race day makes for zero stress over my nutrition – which we all know is a huge part of performing at 100%. Beyond the best product, I love the fact that Clif Bar hasn’t ‘sold out’ and that Gary has kept fueling his  entrepreneur spirit – I can really appreciate that. 

I’ve always loved ProGold chain lube and have used it nearly exclusively for several years now. It keeps the chain quiet and shifting well without attracting too much dust. There are few (if any) people who I’ve met that are equally attentive to the cleanliness of their drivetrains so take it from me, this stuff is the best out there. I’ve recently caught on to their other products too and the degreaser/bike wash is fantastic stuff. It works better than dish soap (which is something no other products seem to do). The bike ends up shinier and more grime comes off the drivetrain with less effort. 

More updates are soon to follow. I’ll leave you wondering about my new race bike until the next post… Thanks for reading,

-TJ

 

 

419th in the UCI rankings. #NBD

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The North Carolina Grand Prix of Cyclocross weekend went off really well. The goal was to score at least one UCI point and I was able to do that on Saturday with a 10th place finish. Sunday was even better and I accumulated six more points by finishing 7th on the day. 

The racing was much different than the USGPs – namely I was starting from the second row rather than seventh or eighth. In most ‘cross races this season I raced them mostly like a TT by going steady and always trying to move up.  NC was different because I was able to start better and therefore the racing was a little more tactical with groups forming, attacks and such.  The accelerations were bigger, but there were also a few (but very few) opportunities to rest a little too.

Each race I came into the finish with a small group and both times I ended up finishing just one spot behind Adam Myerson. On Saturday it was a very close sprint that I led out while on Sunday he had a better early jump and I was never that close.  

Chloe did great to score two Wins so all around it was a very successful weekend and a great way to close out our ’11 UCI cross campaign.  This weekend we’ll jump in on the local Tucson ‘cross race which should be a lot of fun. It’s been since 2007 that Tucson had a local race so I’m pumped that Chris and Dan have put the time and energy into making it happen. More to come after Sunday’s race!

I’ll leave you with a post race interview from day two of the NCGP of Cross. 

 

 

Louisville, KY USGP Cross

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Louisville, Kentucky was the venue for the USGP races this past weekend. This will also be the 2013 World Championships venue next season, so just about everybody who races fast was here to race, check out the course, and generally become more familiar with the area. Given the late afternoon start times, Chloe and I opted to drive down Saturday morning instead of staying an extra night.

Saturday went really well and after watching Chloe place 5th after moving up from the third row I was ready to race fast myself. For those without UCI points, you get to select your race number (and also position on the start grid) randomly from a hat. I drew number 50 so there was going to have to be some serious moving up. After the chaos of lap one I was able to get things going and was catching and riding through groups. Eventually Brian Alders and I teamed up and continued to make some progress late in the race. We earned the last two money spots with 29th and 30th respectively.

Sunday saw more of the same warm conditions, but the wind was blowing even harder today.  Some slight modifications to the course made the sandpit harder and some of the off camber hillside features a little easier/faster than day one.  Chloe approved of the course by finishing 6th after putting in some fast laps. With a strong tailwind down the start stretch it was nearly impossible to move up once the gun went off. This time I had drawn number 43 so at least there was one row of guys already behind me.  In similar fashion I was able to leapfrog from one group to the next on Sunday and at one point I was riding with Barry Wicks and Zach McDonald however once these guys got going I wasn’t quite able to hang on… They finished just inside the top 20 while I came in 23rd on the day – once again twenty spots better than where I started.

I felt strong both days and I’m continuing to get a better feel for some of the technical features that cyclocross presents. The Trek Cronus CX has been fantastic and with Dugast tires on HED wheels I certainly have no excuses coming from the equipment department.  With the current setup I’m cornering faster and riding most sections as fast as the guys who I’m finishing with.  Ever race I’m able to push things just a little bit further too, this weekend’s UCI C2’s in Hendersonville, NC ought to be great.

 

Iceman!

A link to results, the post-race interview, and a race highlight video are below, but first here’s a good ol’ fashioned text update.  

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photo by Scott Kroske

The Iceman certainly lived up to its reputation for being a fiercely competitive race and also a great event shared with friends.  It’s got both aspects covered and that’s why so many people head up to Traverse City every November.  Chloe and I will certainly be making many more trips there ourselves!  A big thanks goes out to Steve Brown and Bells Beer for making such a great weekend of racing possible.

I went into the race without optimal training preparations.  I also went into the race really motivated to race at the front and be in on the mix.  It’s not every day that you get to go up against world cup caliber guys while at a regional race. And when actually racing at the World Cups, I don’t even see these guys since I’m starting from the very back and fighting for their leftovers. I wanted to ride hard and to keep focused out there. I knew if I could keep on task, I’d at least be in the mix for some amount of the race (and hopefully more of it). 

From the start I was feeling good and made it a priority to keep near the front. I kept within the front five whenever possible and  by doing so it made the race a little less stressful since there’s seemingly less to think about up there.  Lukas put down a good attack while exiting one of the early singletracks and pace really got turned up as the front group chased.  I was good with this for some amount of time but eventually got gapped off along with Mike Phillips. I’m not sure why, but I knew that the two of us could catch back on if we really went for it – and that we did. Twenty minutes later after numerous exchanges at the front we were back at the front end of the race and there were just seven of us remaining.  At this point we were nearing the finish and no one really wanted to ride at the front of the group so I went ahead and set a steady pace for a good 5+ kilometers of racing.  As we got into the final 5k and the attacks started to come I was eventually unable to respond and was left to ride in the last 4k solo. Yes, getting dropped is a bummer, but at least I was in on the mix up until that point for the first time ever in this race. The final climbs were so loud with cheering fans that it was impossible to go up them at anything less than 110% of full gas. I was spent at the finish and happy with how things went out there. Next time I’ll come back with a little more training and hopefully the same amount of motivation will have me back in the mix. 

Not long after my finish I anxiously awaited the women to come in. I had heard that Chloe was amongst a lead group of four, but I had no idea at what stage of this race this report was coming in from…  Heather rolled in for the win and just behind her was Chloe, finishing 2nd!  Not the win, but a dang impressive result none the less.  She went for it, had a gap and simply got caught before the finish. Definitely some exciting racing and I think she’s already looking forward to another shot at it next year, this being her first Iceman experience.

The weekend was a fast one, and we were fortunate to share it with some great friends. Chad, Rick, and Nate helped us pass the time before our afternoon start and somehow the company of friends helps to take that nervous edge off of the racing.  We love what we’re able to do and fortunate to have awesome support along the way.  The Trek Bicycle Store – Boulder helped us get to MI with flawlessly working bike and the guys there were some of the first to congratulate us once the results come out. They’re passionate about bike racing and always go above and beyond when it comes to supporting Chloe and I.  Also, I was rolling on some super-fast Bontrager Race XXX Lite Carbon 29er wheels out there thanks to my friend Jim. Those certainly helped to lighten up my machine and provided that little bit of extra speed that a race such as this requires.

Up next will be the Louisville USGP races this weekend. Updates to come!  Thanks much, 

 

 

Men’s Results 

Post Race Interview:

Iceman Highlight Video:

Racing Again

A couple weeks spent at home (home being Tucson – yes, I agree it can be hard to keep track) was very much needed and some time to unwind after the wedding was great. Sleeping well, eating well, and generally taking care of life’s loose ends all feels good. This being said, somehow Chloe and I are already back on the road once again…  Several months ago we brainstormed that racing ‘cross would be a good option for us this fall, and that it is so here we are.

This weekend will be the UCI races in Boulder, next weekend will be the Iceman MTB race in Michigan (possibly followed by a UCI ‘cross race in Cinci the very next day) and the following weekend will be the USGP’s in Louisville, KY.  After all of this we’ll see how things are going and either continue on with UCI races in Hendersonville, NC and Jingle Cross in Iowa City, or we’ll pull the plug and return to Tucson. Whichever option we go with, we’ll follow with a short break before starting to think mountain bike racing for next season. With the big races firing up in March, there’s not much time for an off-season.

As for this current racing campaign I’m excited for the experience and I plan to keep the training building as we go into it. Chloe has already gotten off to a great start in her first-ever cyclocross season, so I’ll be doing what I can to support her and we both plan to have fun with it.  This is the first fall that she hasn’t been in scholl full-time so why not go for it since my office can easily go mobile?

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While in Tucson I got in some good training rides and generally started to get things back on the program.  A new addition for this off-season training will be my new Trek Remedy 9.  I did five rides on it which was just enough time to get the suspension setup close-to-dialed and realize that I’m nowhere near the limits of what this bike is capable of doing.  The plan is to ride the techinal stuff faster this off-season and carry the skills back onto the xc race bike for next season.  It’ll be something different and if nothing else it ought to be a lot of fun… 

Updates from the races will follow. Thanks for checking in.  

What a Month!

Life has been going full tilt this past month. The weekend after Chequamegon I raced the USGP’s in Madison before returning to Boulder. Twelve days after this Chloe and I celebrated our marriage with family and friends. The day after the wedding we raced the Fort Collins USGP (Chloe racing more succesfully than me). Two days after the wedding I had a three day long conference at USA Cycling which was followed by a day spent driving home to Tucson.  We were home for all of ten hours before setting off for Irvine, CA and the Spooky Cross race weekend. After a couple of races and the seven hour drive home we have finally been able to settle in these past couple of days. Doing so feels good and we’ll have just enough time to catch our breathe before picking back up with some more racing. That’s the quick version and the pictures below will help to tell the story. 

Madison USGP’s – Dry and Fast Day 1. Mud Fest Day 2.

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A couple of wedding photos from our perfect day. 

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Fort Collins USGP – Fun, but not going so fast…

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Life is good and I’m blessed to have such a wonderful wife to share all of these adventures with. 

 

Chequamegon Fat Tire

 Another Chequamegon is in the books and it happened to be my best one yet. I placed higher in ’08, but considering the competition and the speed of the race on Sunday I was certainly riding at a higher level than any year previous.  After missing out on last year’s edition I was motivated for this one and committed to leave it all out there. We went hard and I felt good. There’s always something satisfying when you see more fatigue than you feel. Once north of the Gravel Pit Rd., I made sure to keep attentive and near the front.  The race becomes much more manageable when you’re only focused on two or four guys in front of you rather than ten guys.  The pace was hard, but a steady hard all the way to the hwy OO crossing. We never really jammed, but there was certainly no looking around at each other and coasting either.  

As we approached Boedecker Rd. I knew that things were stretching a little thin amongst our lead gorup of ten or so guys. VandeVelde and McCartney must have recognized this too since they really lit things up as we took the right turn onto the uphill gravel road. It was full gas and I quickly closed the gap to get on Matter’s wheel. There was no thinking – only pedaling. It was full on hammering for about five minutes and in that time we opened up a huge gap and were gone well out of site. Olheiser was the unknown to me, but obviously he was strong since only five of us made the selection…

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Skinnyski.com was there to capture our break shortly after it formed. It was game on and I knew that I was in good position for the finish. We were cruising along well and I felt great until two miles before Fire Tower. A quick twinge here and another there were quick warnings, but I could do nothing to ward off two miles of cramping. Calves, hamstrings,  and quads on both legs were twinging. There had been no single attack to set of the cramping, but apparently the previous efforts had taken there tolls. I tried to keep composed and I did my best to ride through. I got dropped in the process of this and was 45 second down at the base of Fire Tower. I got up it quick enough and suprisingly cramp free. From there and all the way to the finish I was fine and able to fast enough.  The gap stayed at about 1:15 until Telemark Rd and the closing miles.  This is where Brian was making his move and the gap obviously got bigger.  I rode past VandeVelde and knew that if one more guy would pop a podium spot could be mine.  I had no such luck, but I was still pumped to finish 4th. 

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photo by Jay Wenner

I rode well tactically and physically I almost had what was required to be there for the finish. If it werent for those two rough miles… At any rate, I’m encouraged and already looking forward to next year’s edition.   I’m pumped that Brian scored the W and I had no doubt that he could get the job done versus the ProTour roadies.

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up the last climb to the finish.

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More than a 40 mile MTB race, Chequamegon is one event where I see an incredible number of family and friends too. Charging to the finish line, it’s great to see and hear everyone there. A huge thanks to family and friends who have been behind me since I first did this race back in ’97, to Trek Bikes Boulder for setting me up with the fastest bike, to Justin and Jenna for last minute delivery of fresh chainrings, and to all of the locals who help make this race all that it is.