Monday, September 24, 2007

Late season Racing.... Recaps & more - WORS Marathon, Cheq 40

Time comes in enough quantity -- it's just the order of it's availability is what challenges this racer to timely updates. But if you're visiting once and awhile, and you catch something new from me it'll probably be a long write up. On blogs there are any number of reason why when you're surfing the 'net you stop in to see what's shakin'. Sometimes it's finding out what a friend is up to or to hear what crazy misadventures happened or to find out what the competition is looking like for the following weekend. I personally love it just to hear what's happening out there when your cycling community is small or remote it's a great way to stay in touch. If you didn't check out my previous post, take a look at who else is out there through the links if you don't already do so.

I'll probably write up a season re-cap before too much longer but more recently this late summer/early fall had alot of racing -- probably the most concentrated dose of the year. It started late August with a weekend of doubling up, first at the WORS Cup (mud fest), then the MNSCS Duluth Powder Monkey, the following weekend it was the Seeley PreFat & WORS Rhinelander Marathon Smokin' Spoke. That kind or amount racing depending on the individual & depth of training can put a guy on the edge -- of getting better or getting pushed over. For those I've not share this with I work with a CTS (Carmichel Training Systems) coach in my training, just a super guy out of AZ, Josh Powers is his name a few local's that do the NORBA's on occasion probably know him. I can't say enough about working with a coach, provided it's a good match. I went through 2 previous ones in the 4yrs I've worked with CTS but Josh really has his shit together and we connect real well. The man just seems to always know the answers. I think my most used comment to him is "you're always right", humbling but true. Why a coach? I love the sport, it's what I really want to do for a long time. I was talking to Sara KJ at the Iola Tater Bake yesterday & commented to her how I was so happy to hear her mention that she plans to be racing for a long time that at least I know somebody else that'll be racing with me in their 60's (& later). Now back to the coaching thing, depending on how you place when in a race with me, I'm not the most naturally talented & cardiovascular gifted human specimen, so having someone guide you along and fine tune things and plan your schedule takes alot of concentration off that side so you can just focus in on riding. (If you want to read about one of those supremely talented & cardovascular phenoms go here - the first part is about midwest rider J. Devine but the second guy is what you've got to read about).

So back to the races.... despite what you might have heard from others or read in blogs, the new course in Rhinelander, in my humble opinion was great. Yes, you really appreciated racing a full suspension bike, J & M Lalonde -- don't know how you did it, but I in no way am envious of how it must have felt. The course could be ridden really hard & fast and it had the most single track of all three WORS marathon events, also I really like that all age groups go at the same time. Got a decent start unlike past WORS events. Though a few guys got away early and out of sight I was able to stay in the top 10 early on, I dabbed once in lap one and 5 or 6 guys passed including Mike Flanagen-Hagg but I got back past them and hung tight with Michael Naughton & Jerry Daanen also Matt Muraski as he would launch off the front and periodically we'd catch up. For me coming off the previous day's Seeley race that really did me in -- I was just hoping to hang in and survive. But sometimes I have a better second day of racing and this was definitely the case. It took alot of water (thanks to Katie, Marshall & Hope who were in perfect position for each of the 4 handoffs) and alot of power gels but my energy stores stayed level and my mental game was really strong, I refused to get dropped. Couple laps in we caught a slowing Sara KJ but with alittle encouragement she got on the train and responded great, hung in there and eventually pushed us after she got feeling better. Hats off to her for diggin' deep and turning a rough spot in the race around. Not ever, ever any easy thing to do. Had some bad cramping in my legs in the race which almost never happens to me but I was able to work around it and when it all finished out, 3hrs 6min later, they counted me as the 10th guy out of a field of 90 to cross the line. Pumped? Ya, happy for sure, considering the previous days effort in Seeley. The high expectation side of me always wants more & better but I got alot out of the game I brought that day. One note was my legs afterwards ached like I can't remember for 30minutes after -- a good sign you left all out there :)!

Cheq 40? That's another story..... called understand your body. Got a cold virus on Thurs before the big 4-0, not good any way you slice it. Some people can race through illness or do short durations but at some point no matter how superhuman you might be there's a good chance it's going to finally catch up to ya. My race was this -- good position in preferred start, amazed how I was spinning out in biggest gear on Hwy 77, avoid & escape big crash on 77 with Marko Lalonde, at Rosie's field say goodbye to Marko, haul out for next 15-16 miles with crew including SS'ing Mike Johnson, hitting OO in the 70th-80th place, mile 24ish catching Sara KJ & Doug S, mile 27ish like a power tool slowly losing it's charge things start to unscrew. Now onto survival mode, what a frustrating thing to be in. You can't quite or drop out on a lap, you just gotta get to the finish line to call it a day. Climbing Fire Tower, I hear this voice call out "Swanson!".... yeah, Kelly McKnight, catching and passing me like biscuits at Thanksgiving dinner. 2nd big race this year, 2nd time he's pulled out the Best of the Bay title (little thing I put out there to the guys in & around the Chequamegon Bay area). Hat's off the boy, he rode like he's capable of and that was great to see. He just goated his way up and out of sight on that hill. Not that rest of the race is a blur, I just wanted it over. Matt Hudson blew by me on my Salsa 29er I lent him -- kinda shocked him when I yelled in a stern voice "Nice Bike! Hudson!", also saw those McFaddens on their Burley tandem get by me towards the end. I was able to stave off a few racers at the end and stay in the top 200 but going into the day being a few psi short -- that's what you're lucky to get away with.

Had my little girl, Hope's 1st Birthday party afterwards (almost missed last year's Cheq 40 because of the timing of that life event). Ending up checking out of that party early and hitting the sack while company was still visiting. I was dead. Skipped the criterium Sunday, and it was the beginning of my first 4 day off the bike rest since Feb/March this year. The rest helped some because at this past weekend's race in Iola, well, that story is going to have to wait til my next update....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Catchin' back up - blogs, racers and Cheq 40

Funny how with the best of intentions you might start a regular online blog/journal only to see so much time elapse between postings. Some of the first blogs I'd go when I got into cycling were of the Twin Cities "Swanson's" -- Doug S. & Dan S. -- they always had interesting stories to share, great race recaps and generally just some well written stuff. (There are certainly good blogs and bad ones and these guys always had posts that were worth reading. Not only talented bike racers but eloquent and enjoyable in their writings. Whether they gave it a lot of thought or not they were/are great ambassadors to the sport without a doubt.) Doug been short on the number of posts more recently which to his admirers, friends and fellow racers is a bummer but a guy's got alot of other things to do in life than post on a blog.... but Doug we miss you man! Dan really gravited to the road biking scene from what I recall him doing in the past but still makes a good share of timely posts.
More recently the likes of Charlie Farrow, Sara KJ, Eric Oftedahl and Tristan Schouten offer some real regular updates and great reading year round but you'll also get good WORS race recaps from Brian Matter and the cool but alittle out of the ordinary Lalonde Bros. Jesse & Marko. Speaking of which, I heard things about how fast these guys could run track & CC back years ago from guys I used to go to high school with (Lalonde's went to a school in the same conference) and now to see them years later and getting to see first hand how good they are is pretty cool.
I only listed a few of the blogs I might surf through at some point in the week. There are other ones I'll be sure add as links fairly soon. The great thing about the blogs is the community it makes among the people with common interests. In the bike racing scene I think it keeps up everyone motivation throughout the season more than it might otherwise be -- just check out the blogs right now and how buzzed everyone is for this little bike race coming up... the Cheq-a-something 40? Just kidding, it for any number of reasons it garners alot of attention of the hard core racers to the one-time-a-year bike riders. For an ultra-enthusiast like myself it's great to see so much attention that it gets. I can only hope it always builds. I love the fact that so many different top level racers that don't always match up during the regular season will be pitted against in this one. Jeff Hall vs. the Lalondes (huge naturally talent and gifted athletes), Brendan Moore & his Rochester crew, along with the Oftedahls racing against Matter, Schouten, Mike Phillips(gifted but very hardworking racers). I think only TJ Woodruff (maybe the least natural talent of those mentioned but probably the one of the hardest training racers) has raced head to head agains everyone in the Midwest region this year. And lastly with Doug Swanson, Tilford and some MI guys it will be great to see how it all goes down.
Tonight we had our regular Weds evening MTB ride on the Farm Road trails at the house with a good crew show up - Kelly, Paul, Matt, Sara and Scott N. and afterwards a big spaghetti dinner. Very nice hanging out and visiting with everyone. Kelly kept trying to pin me on who I thought would win the Cheq 40 -- he thinks it'll be Swanson, which how could I go wrong when Kelly got such a strong belief in me and my ability as a bike racer! Thanks Kelly! But I'm guessing he probably meant D. Swanson and not A. Swanson. Oh well if between 50 and 70 other lead guys somehow have mechanicals and flat tires there stands to be an outside chance. :)
Obviously I'm going to be rooting for Doug and some of the other guys, but if anyone is going to give him a full run (and it's not a bigger pack finish like in '05) it should be Si-mon-ater from MI or Si-monster as he's known. The boy can pound nails from what I've seen -- so there you have it Kelly the 1,2 finish. It'll be interesting how Jesse & Marko Lalonde do with such an open course I can't handicap any predictions on what SingleSpeeds will do for their outcome. But who knows? I think their natural physcial talent ranks up their with Jeff Hall & Doug.
My wishes for the big race is that my friends and racing buds all have stellar days for what they are capable of and trained for. I've got a few goals myself which I'll be aiming for -- the training and prep put forth this season and in the past should deliver me to the door with any luck. There's more than a few names I've marked for years to finally put further down the results list so I'll looking forward to see what good fortune and preparation can cook up. Hmmm....Greg LeMond is supposed to show up so wondering if beating a former Tour de France champ (granted 17yrs+ removed) holds any possibility? Makes for a good story for the grandkids in 40 yrs...
Best wishes to all!!!