Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Best and Worst of it.

Cross is chaotic. Sometimes you rock times you dont. Last saturday I did both in the same day.

First I just want to say that the Morgantown Monster Cross was by far the best cross course of the year. JR is doing a great job with this series and this course. The course had everything including the run up from hell.

SS Race

  After a very nice front row call up for my second in points. I was happy to be starting next to pflug and montana.  The start was pretty chaotic and a found myself sitting pretty far back in the SS/Cat 4 field.

Marc Glass had a really great start and was holding the Gerry's wheel for the first lap of the race. On the second lap the true front runners were moving towards the front. Montana and Gerry were pulling away together which was to be expected. I moved past alot of strong riders and was finding myself in no man's land. Morgan Miller was moving up fast to join me though.

For the second week in a row me and morgan would battle. My Cross Bike vs his MTB and I thought on this course that I had much better advantage over him. The course was smoother, and the turns were grippiery than  last week at Lost Creek. A fall in the sand pit from me left me in 4th chasing down Morgan. Instead of passing him like I would have weeks past I sat in and let him push wind.  For 1 lap he lead, and I got good rest. It was then time to fly or so I thought. I could here him breathing hard, about as hard as I was breathing. I got a lead and was faster on the run up from hell. I guess all that running was paying off....or it was just the lighter weight cross bike being easier to carry.

 This run up was tough. On a SS bike I think it was un clearable, some of the stronger 3/4 and elite group were able to ride it. Everytime I hit it thought I gave it my all knowing that there was a sweet SL downhill though some trees to recover on.

On the last lap I had pretty good gap on morgan but he was catching up fast. One last time Up that hill and I was givin it all.  Morgan still caught me by the end of the DH and was on my wheel for the sandpit. I carefully rode the sandpit hedging my bets on my sprinting ability. Out on the finishing piece of Pavement. I pounce on the pedals as hard I could and held of a hard charging morgan. 3rd place, according to my best finish of the year.

3/4 Race

The 3/4 race to follow ended up being my worst finish of the year. A really bad start and some glimmers of hope passing riders that I should be passing I caught up to my buddy Jason and being the nice friend I am, I wanted to put both of us into the pain zone.

I was just to exhausted from the first race to safely go fast though and it would soon show in an epic barrier fall. It was scarier and looked worse than it was. I was really stunned about the fall. Jason words to race him remotivated me. It was like remotivating a drunk to go fall down again. I caught up to jason and passed him again, some friend I am, eh?  I then proceeded to fall right in front of him. Yep. This was not going good. I start soft pedaling contemplating what I was going to do. My buddy Tim passed me missing a brake pad. I then decide to be charitable and give him my bike. My bike is tiny compared to his. We then both dropped out and joined the hecklers spraying people with whipped cream on the run up from death.

My first cross DNF. IT kinda of sucks but I literally just wasnt feeling it.

I am feeling the last cross race(s) of the year this weekend in Bruceton Mills and the start of ski season is less than 2 weeks away.

I do stink after cross race sorry Gerry

Monday, November 8, 2010

I won! ....for one Lap. Murrysville CX classic Race report

After a not muddy but REALLY bump and tight cross course in central WV yesterday. I was prepared for Murryville since there was no SS class at Murrysville I was running 3/4 men. I had a secret weapon though today. My buddies Redline Conquest Pro. After a couple laps of preride I was happy to have gears there was a couple uphill but on in particular that would have been a pain in the ass on a SS due to the hairpin prior to it.

 the course was varied much faster in sections than any of the ABRA races, some hard off cambered turn, the barrier were smaller and closer than what we have been doing in WV, and there was also some stiff climbs.

I lined up inside and first row, and no call ups so I stuck there! 6 of the top ten are first row

On the start initially I was only doing ok but after a couple hundred yards I was catching people, not only catching people but catching them easily I put in the Big Ring and hammered up to first. I entered the first grass section with actually a little gap. Surprised myself on the start thats for damn sure first time I have ever gotten a holeshot in my life. I kept it nearly flat out and lead the entire first lap. Start of the second lap I was still leading but hoping for some help from Todd and Jordan on the road section. It never came... second lap goes by Todd get past me really quick but I pass him again at the barriers. At the start of the third lap I say to him let put sometime in the other guys, I was out of breath and he didnt hear me. eventually there was a group of 4 of us and we are riding strong. My sticky seat was catching my shorts on remount and making it really hard to pedal with my shorts falling off.  Tim Baur eventually catches us while Brad goes off the back. Tim goes off the front. Tim starts dropping back. 2 laps to go Todd and Jordan are off the front at least a 10 second gap to me, I'm third, Brad is catching me in fourth and Tim was coughing up a lung, sorry tim but I heard you coughing when I passed you. Great job staying strong for 5th though.

Brad passes me just prior to the barriers before the last lap, I catch his wheel on the final time though the start finish line but I only hold until the grass. I still put out everything I have to try to catch back up to no avail. I truly left nothing out there today. 110 percent effort. 4th place behind 3 rock stars in a strong and big(30 plus riders I think?!) 3/4 field.

First lap trying my best to Bushwack the entire field

2nd lap me and todd hitting the barrier together.

Its 45 degree and I was getting to hot, I look like I know what I am doing here.

Jordan my dreaded friend went on for the win.

WV Night Club Cross

Thoughout the entire week I was looking forward to yet another cross race. The adrenaline high of cross racing is so great that the entire week kinda of suck. Monday suck the most and its almost down right depression from the lack of endophines flowing though your blood. Although the week the weather report were forecasting snow.  Being that skiing is my number one sport off course I was uber excited. Saturday finally came and at my house snow.

On the drive down though from Uniontown to just south of Morgantown it was snowing hard in areas heck some areas had snow on the ground! me and my road trip mate Jason were now really stoked to get a sloppy, cold wet snow cross race. Sometime just prior to Lost Creek, Wv though the snow stopped and sun came out. At the venue the race wasnt even muddy! ca va.....

Whatever! cross racing is fun no matter what, but oday would just be pain with maybe alittle bit of fun. Preriding the course I found that I was extremely over geared and that today's course was extremely bumpy. Never has  a otherwise benign grass field been such a bad ass mutherfer as today. That course kicked my ass. Hell I endo in a ditch on my preride! The grass was like riding on velcro, there was as many hairpin turns as Gunnar is old(which is alot), and it was bumpy as a ski mogul run. Did I mention there was singletrack section that led to a ditch that was pretty hard to bunny hop on a single speed speed? Then there was an slick off cambered run up to quick remount steep DH.

Start of the race after some hard effort warms up though I felt good and was thinking I would be better than most.  My call up was nice for a good start

I didnt totally suck at the start and ended up maybe 7th wheel. A hard effort though the first lap put me in second not to far from the Pflugger. My belief in cross racing is to go hard at the start no matter what. trying to ride though traffic is a waste of energy.  I kept a strong effort in a attempt to try to chase down Pflug unsurprisingly it didnt work. It did however solidify the gap I had on the field with the exception of local nightcluber Morgan Miller. Morgan was riding a lower geared SS mtb and I have to say that wouldnt have been a bad choice for today.

So an epic 3 lap battle ensued. Every time I would get a gap I either have to slow down to breath, get caught up in lapped traffic which 3 laps in is when we started to lap people, or I would have to dismount and run that stupid ditch when the MTB was able to bunny hop it. In the end morgan seized a moment on the run up with traffic and got me on that run up. smart move and after 3 laps of trying to out run him I was so beat my pace and motivation dropped way off. After a couple hundred yards of recovery, I went hard again to ensure Marc Glass wasnt going to catch me. The reality was me and morgan put in such a strong effort that noone was really that close at all in the SS class.

So a hard fought battle and a 3rd place

hopefully some pictures of the actually racing soon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WV cross weekend Marilla and WVU. I keep dropping myself.

I have been working my ass off to try to get faster at cross, mostly because its so much freaking fun! its also chaos most of the time sometimes with very little control.

 - Marilla Park Cyclocross • Carrera De Los Muertos

The race of the Dead, proved to be one of my most trying race this year. I committed many blunders today.

the marilla cross race was much more technical than anything we have rode on thus far, its truly did favor MTBs IMO or just might be that I am not as good of a cross bike rider as I was thinking.

1. I rolled up to the start thinking smugly "hey I was the third best SS last week" I am getting a call up. NOPE. noone got call ups. I sheeplishly moved way into second row.

2. I feel so many time on loose corners and overall rode like donkey poo.

3. I recently switched to single release shimano cleats to keep from popping out when mashing my SS uphill. guess what on the hill of death I wasnt releasing.  the hill of death

4. I attacked Marc and John when I should have just kept going strong, instead they smartly dropped my ass and I could never recover.

I ended up 5th place which according to was my second worst race this year after the first SS race of the year at Waynseburg. Good news? I beat Don Powers again call it revenge cause he is much better MTBer than me!

me getting ready to run past Powers

Me railing hard into the Hill of Death

me laughing at how terrible I was on the run up. photo.

and Pratt got a great one of me warming up

I also found out after the race that my square tapered cranks was done. I hate square tapered cranks with passion I am not ever willing running one again after this season. Luckly pathfinder hooked me up.

After  helping set up the course for the next day and some fun times in WVU town on devil's Eve and a surprisingly good night's sleep in a crowded college apartment(thanks Ryan!), I was feeling better the next morning for......

Day 2 - WVU Cross aka White Park aka the base ball field cross.

Day 2 of the weekend brought us one of the more varied cross courses off the year thus far. It was also sprawling and not compact like the rest of the ABRA course this year. The course started out with a road section after 2 sweepers put you out on to a very root hairpin on to 2 basketball court hairpins, some twisty grass stuff to a long straight till a quasi run up that most anyone rode everytime. it then went into a playground with the the worst gravel of the year so far.  After the playground short steep little climb to a hair pin back down the hill leading to a couple more hair pins then down to the mud pit of doom by the low baseball fields. You then started a medium length gravel road section that generally went uphill. this lead you into the 3 baseball infield in a row that was VERY tricky to navigate at first as the sand had such varying levels of traction. Till the final road section with a 180 turn before the finish line.

SS race 

 I showed up and got front row start spot. Beside my unclipping fail going into the first gravel pit I had a really good race, Ill give it a 8 outta of 10. seems to think it was second best race of the year and I can agree with it. I stayed strong the whole time and eventually caught montana but he got away again before the finish. Still only a 8 second gap to him is the closest I have been all year and Gerry didnt totally crush us either but then again maybe gerry didnt want to totally crush us either. 3rd place behind Montana and Gerry is ok and i got closer to them so I am happy.

The quasi run up that was clearable everytime

start of the gravel road section did I mention how cold it was?

3/4 race

 I was feelign good so I signed up for the 3/4 race. This would be what I thought was my best race this year in cross from a effort stand point. agrees. I started strong and was sitting in the back half of the top 10. I continued to move up and ride a pretty clean solid race. I was eventually finding myself in the top 5 then the top 3, and for a very brief moment I was second. While I was second with Duncan Oliver on his fast crossized Superfly I tried to drop him on the road and really just drop myself. The MTBer were killing it in the  baseball fields and I well wasnt. He eventually got past me, and Jason Cyr made me look like I was going backwards and evnetually Duncan's WVU teammate Todd got past me. I recovered and held of the ever fast Joe Lydic for a 5th Place finish. We (being place 2nd -5th) also were closer to beating Jacob Grantham that anyone has been in weeks.

My painface and my brief time in second

close up from

overall a great weekend I look forward to a double(maybe triple) header this weekend, should be cold muddy and maybe snowy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

ABRA CX #3 Little Washington

today brought me down to Washington, Pa which at 40 minutes to get to was probably the easiest race for me ever to drive to.

As always in cross I was late, got there at 10:20, registered, dress, drank some HEED, downed some clif shots and went out to warm up at 10:35. soon find out that my 40/18 gear is pretty fing stiff and I am no where near spinning it out anywhere. Panic ensues and I begin to try to change my bike to a 38/18. At about 10:56(11am start) its together and I made the right choice with this gear. The course wasnt practically hilly, it just had dont of tight turns and the longest straight aways were maybe 200 yards long the 40/18 pretty much made no sense to me.

Due to my crappy race at Waynesburg  2 weeks prior I knew I wasnt getting a call up. Gerry Pflug, Montana Miller, Rob and Don got there though. It wasnt so bad I was only second row back. At the start I get clipped in fast and quickly find myself getting to be in the front group. Half way's though the first lap its me, Montana, Gerry, and Rob Lochner pulling away from the rest of the SS/cat 4 field. This was expected, well except I didnt expect to be there.

Montana though in a effort which caused Gerry Pflug's chain to drop right here

after Gerry dropped his chain, which I guess this is luck's way of keeping Gerry in check I grab on to Montana's wheel for 2nd place. Lochner didnt match this and was left in 3rd. Me drafting a very speedy Montana.

The next lap I do an ok job of keeping up with Montana, but I am truly running at 11. I hold his wheel for most of the second lap but lose it on the long flat section. this was un in the spiral of Doom entry.

He was able to put this much into me in such a short period of time

I though that would be the last I would see of him, but coming into the barriers he was on the ground. I got with him again. He was simply to fast and I was running at above my breaking point already. He slowly put a minute gap into me(according to my dad). I continued to run at my breaking point which was getting critcal at this point in time, a couple really stupid remounts and 2 falls now had 3rd and 4th aka Rob Lochner and Marc Glass Bearing down on me. The Pflug also was no longer having bike trouble and was sitting in 5th moving up fast.  Rob and Marc caught me on the long straight to pavement and I couldnt match them at first, but after the first tight turn I was thinking they must have used a decent bit of energy to catch me so I start to go into the red again.

Rob leading, Marc, Me and Gerry

I am figureing the Pflug can actually help me I put my head down and wait for his pass

I then grab his wheel down the road section and held it till the run up.  It was a great boost and put me decently ahead of Rob and Marc. thanks pflug! For the next couple laps I start to put much less effort into the  slow sections but give 110 percent on the faster longer straight away. I also stopped making stupid falls.

It was still painful

it was tons of fun, there is nothing I love more on a bike than carving turns

I ended up keeping Marc Glass at bay, I also got some time back into Montana but not enough to make it a race again. Finished 3rd in SS behind Montana(2nd) and Pflug(1st). Actually pretty stoked on that, still wishing I can some how get a 1st but Pittburgh wasnt built in a day you know?

I am sure Montana and Gerry will blog about this at some time also more pictures to come.

Monday, October 18, 2010

North Park MOM Time Trial

I have a love hate relationship with Time Trails. I hate them cause they are short, intense, and hurt so much more than a normal XC race or even a 50 miler. Heck I actually enjoyed the 2 50 milers I did this year and they werent all that painful. I love them because TTs have alot of elements I like. My extra chunk I carry around is actually not all fat, there are some large muscles in those legs. I should probably lay off my love of mexican food, and ice cream but that is not going happen. I may not be able to climb or respond to attacks in an XC race like the best but I can put out tons of power on flattish course better than most. Course knowledge is another key thing. I am expert course remember, I get this from Autocross. Yes as a  younger man I use to burn petrol just because it was fun and was actually quite good at it.

 I know everyone I am racing against is probably more fit, and probably has a nicer bike than me so I do what I can. I try to race smart and get every advantage I can get. This weeks key advantage was this, prior to this week I have ridden the first half of the TT loop at least 10 times. In the past week I was able to get 6 laps of the TT course. I basically have it remembered down to the root now. I was going to ride anyways so why not ride the race loop? This knowledge helps alot in TT.  Going into the race I knew this was going to be tough to do well with the couple solid climbs in the race.

 Race Day was quite a pleasant morning besides the chill, I saw my first frost of the year. Had a decent breakfast, some banana and a gu prior to the race. Fellow SSer Heath Neely helped me in a pinch with a headset problem I should have taken care of the day prior. I choose my normal 32/19 gear today which felt great for everything except was stiff on the 'expert" loop climb and was alot spun out on the start of the decent....but its a SS its almost never in the right gear or always in the right gear.

On the initial climb my legs just didnt like me, what ever it was I was running on 7 of 8 cylinders today. Not horribly bad but not good either. must have been my exuberant preriding the day before and the couple days doing intervals the prior week.  Not everyday your going to feel perfect so I pushed on.

the first climb. Thick Monster!

A couple people were actually cheering me by name, whoever you were you guys rock!

Such a little fun rock pump, I am actually smiling despite my pain

it was then up alittle to the first little flowly DH that I nailed! sharp hairpin left and up the next climb.

my old buddy Vaughn got a sweet shot on the climb.

I climbed as fast as the tired legs could go, got up to the next flowly section and just nail it again. The preriding at least kept me going quickly on the gravity assisted parts of the TT. Over the little bridge up the switchback and into the first fun dip of the race. though the first rock gardens which the 29er just rocks on. Made sure to take the right over the log pile that I knew was quicker. up the next climb.

Despite not having a 100 percent legs I literally rode every thing perfectly, no dabs, no washouts, no bar hits on close trees, I was going quick and efficient up to the road cross over. Take the expert loop which has a super sweet log jump/pile thing at the start and just wheelie hop the whole thing(sick brah!) down that fast DH, left on the hairpin of DOOM and now on the last hard climb of the day. The climb goes up gradually at first then turns left and gets looser and steeper. 20 percent grades, with loosen dirt + Single Speed its tough and my tired legs start to faultier half ways up the climb. I end up hike a biking it but at least it gives me a chance to rest.

topping out the last climb its now the start of the final decent, its start rolling and slow. I see Evan Perrone with sadly a flat tire. If not for the flat he would have in the hunt for first for sure.  Slight DHs that are straight and not technical are a SSers worst enemy and thats how the decent start. Spinning at a 234 RPMs down the decent I feel good now, I hit a couple of the really fast turns and nail the left handed sweeper on top. Down to the road, up the last 100 yard climb to the final loose and very fast decent. I nailed it. Literally left nothing out there on the decent. stayed off the brakes where I needed to, kept everything just this side of control from the edge. caught MJ(thanks for the cheers I was outta of breath!) in the finish line grass and whew it was over.

4th place out 19 in Single Speed against a bunch of rock stars. the results.

after the race I ate some , then went out on with Brian and Michelle Beitko for some post race riding. What a pretty day to ride. Went up to ride the new pflugstein trail which is coming along. The bridge that you can jump off of to the rock roll down is still my favorite part of that trail but its starting to become alot more rideable than it was mid summer.

Michelle smiling for my camera

Her husband Brian was kicking my tired butt

Fun sweeper on Pflugstein

Pretty Trail

we then rode up to the swimming pool and I said hi to all my old car racing buddy up there for the NHSCC autocross. They left me while i tried unsuccessfully to sign up to run. I then finished up with Pie Trainer over to koko buki where I called it a day on dirt.

On the road ride back to my car I saw this awesome display of fall

that all for now folk, Little Washington CX, and the MOM finale at Moraine next week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

We are crossed up.

Last sunday me and 10 other were really confused. We took are cross bikes into the woods for some singletrack riding. We didnt stop there though. Not only did we ride singletracks some of use rode the log piles and bunny hopped the biggest obstacles we were able find.

Cross bike while very efficient in a cross environment make for a rather rough ride on otherwise easy singletrack. Its is great cross training though for cross. The skills you can learn by riding singletrack will make you a faster cross rider. My bunny hop gets better each time I go out and ride trails, hopefully soon I can start to bunny hop cross barriers.

Ben Stephans got some GPS data from the ride. I was surprised to see 2900 feet of climbing.

Oh yeah we also rode the BMX track, learning to pump.


Rob on the singletrack

Joe and Tim on the leafy trail

and lastly a video of me and Jake's BMX escapades

SCSSS - Singletrack Causes Spontanous Smiling Syndrome

Got to ride Raystown Lake last saturday. For those of you that dont know Raystown Lake is a 40 miles of purpose built MTB trail located just south of Huntington, Pa. These trails are some of the fastest and flowiest trails anywhere. Simple put I was spontaneously smiling at several point while whooping it up the whoops.

So here was the GPS track

and some pictures.

me and my big "motor" love these fast trails

J's bike nearly let us down a mere 8 miles into the ride

Jason takes his fun way to serious

He was railing some hard turn though fun to watch.

At Raystown they take the flow so seriously that they actually blow leafs of the trails.

Peee Aaaaayyyyyy lookin pretty

Short little clip of J's motocross steeze right here.

all in all 24 miles at a average speed of 10  mph, apres ride was some pizza being served by a pretty Italian girl in some no name town in Pa. I will be back, just dont if Ill be back this fall.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Month of Mud was finally muddy!

after a horrible Single Speed race and a pretty good B race, I was more than warmed up from the Grove City MOM infact I was tired. Although HEED and Vitamin I helps my muscles not ache and made me about 95 percent for the Grove City race.

Grove City  cross was the exact opposite of the ABRA Kick Off in Wayneburg. Where saturday was dry, warm, fast and had bunch of tight turns on a non technical course. Grove City was cold, wet, slow,muddy had open areas and was actually quite technical. Grove City's is a really hard place to gear a SS for as well. There are a couple loose climbs, some singletrack, and a couple really tight turns that make you want an easier gear...but there is also some long road sections that will quickly spin out a low gear. I went with a 40/18 gear which kept me from being spun on out on all but one section of road and was good for 95 percent of the course. In the dry I think that it would have been perfect but with the wet there were several sections that become run ups for me.


No call up for me as I was nowhere near the 10 fastest at Brady's Run. but I was still only 2nd ish row. The SS is easy to hammer up to speed as its just feels great sprinting on it. I quickly passed a bunch of spun out SS guys at least the 40/18 was doing something right. In the prologue laps things opened up quite a bit and I luckly found my way to Jpok's wheel who was being pulled by his teammate down the road. I had delusions of grandeur and actually tryed to jump Jpok out of the hairpin on the road.  I got past him for couple seconds but he went past me with Montana in tow on the road. That would be last I ever saw of the eventual 2nd and 3rd place. Evan Perrone the leader of the series was already up the road.


not having the legs its was hard to go flat out. Knowing that the first 3 were most likely gone my goal was just to hold off fellow SS Rob and Darin that I could see ever so close to me everytime the course doubled back on itself. Some racing and battling with a fast veterans Joe Fotia, Matt Tinky, Don Powers and expert rider Kieth Hower. The course was a mess and some of the tight turns were really wearing on me on my SS.

Some of the pschocrossers today, Fred Jordan photo

Ben got a great picture of how muddy this place was

also I was having to run a 50 yard long section in the woods because my gear was just to tall for the loose. muddy, rocky climb this made it pretty hard to hold my ground. I did stay almost to close for comfort ahead of Darin by the last lap.

Last  Lap

with no Single Speeds in sight in front of me, but Darin and Rob with in 30 seconds of me at the first barriers. I decide to start putting out everything I have to keep them as far a away as possible. Kieth was glued to my wheel after my 50 yard foot sprint in the back woods and I was also hoping I could beat Keith as well despite being in separate classes . Nothing against him he is just strong enough Id feel good about beating him. I did a strong and smooth lap but Kieth was smart and in my draft nearly the whole way. I put some distance on Darin and Rob. I was hoping Id get to hold his wheel to final hairpin to sprint it out but I made a bone head move in the second to last non pavement turn and he went right past me while I was on the ground. I got up looked back and still went hard cause I didnt not want to be caught. Finish.

4th outta of 14th SS not good overall.  Results

The photo Paparazzi was out today in force. Ben Stephens, Jon Pratt, Thomas Tad,Fred Jordan, and Mike Briggs. Special thanks to these guys! I am sure all of the racers love to see the suffering. Here are some shots of me, and yes Jason it is all about me!

How not to run a barrier by me, my right foot got stuck so my timing was all off hence I had both hands on on the bars and not one on the top tube.

The back Boggy section leading into the hill of death. For some reason I look happy to be riding it though
Dazed and confused

 Pratt takes pretty pictures

The start of the Pavement section

Checking out my competion

Me staying ahead of old man or young whipper snapper powers
Air me!

Passing out on the bike is so me