Thursday, November 12, 2009


For all intents and purposes, the 2009 racing season came to an end with Iceman. There is one more cyclocross race that I may participate in, provided that I don't get too fat and out of shape with a week at deer camp. It's now time to look back on my racing: what went well and what I can do better. Hopefully I can use this to make 2010 a much more successful racing season.

The Good

I raced in, and completed, my second Lumberjack 100. Being too stupid/stubborn to know when to quit is paying off. Even with mild cramping setting in around mile 40, I was able to get back on my nutrition plan, fend off the cramps, and push on through the pain.

This fall marked my first crack at cyclocross racing. I was able to jump right into the "B" group and not embarress myself (solid mid-pack). This was with an obvious lack of cyclocross specific skills (mounts and dismounts in particular).

Even though I didn't do a lot of racing, the ones I did do I was excited to do. Starting line stress was about perfect (not too laid back and not to antsy).

My starts have improved. In the past, I have been a slow starter, relying on my ability to pick off competitors through the course of the race. This year I made it a point to go out hard, but at a sustainable level, right from the start.

Pacing continues to be a strong point. My splits at Big M were quite consistant, with my last lap being a faster one. Upon review of my GPS data from the Maybury cyclocross I noted that my later laps were also amongst my faster ones.

The Not So Good

During much of the season, I just didn't feel like racing. I backed out on a few races when conditions looked like they would be dodgy (rain & mud). Other times I just didn't have the desire to race.

I effectively turned myself into a diesel this year. Early on I didn't do much for interval training or riding at threshold. This showed later in the season when I didn't have the top-end power to hang with the pack.

My cyclocross skills need much work. I would lose time on the barriers and run-ups. A few times my barrier attempts were "less than graceful", bouncing the bike off of the barrier tops for example. I also need to learn to shoulder my bike.

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. From not properly hydrating leading up to the event (Big M), not fueling properly and bonking at the end (Michigan Bike Festival), to not following my fuel/hydration routine early in the race (not taking my electrolytes during lap 1 at Lumberjack). I made more stupid errors than I cared for.

There you have it, my racing season in a nutshell. All-in-all I'd give myself a "C" grade. I had some successes, but I know I could've done better with a little more focus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Niceman Cometh

This past Saturday marked the 20th running of the Iceman Cometh MTB race, a point-to-point race from Kalkaska to Traverse City. Friday morning Brandy and I drove up to Traverse City; this would be my 3rd time doing the race. Based on my 7th place finish, I set the lofty goal of a podium (top 5) finish for this year.

Due to a SNAFU with registration, the number of participants was in excess of 4000. The race is generally capped at 2500 entries. Because of this, the start was moved from the Kalkaska middle school to downtown, giving an extra mile and a half or so.

After dropping Brandy off at the hotel, I met up with my teammates to pre-ride the finish of the course. We rode out to Anita's Hill, and rode the course back. The finish was a bit different this year, with the last big hill being closer to the finish than last year. Also there was some added wider singletrack snaking through the finish area. Word on the street was that the course was about 2 miles longer total than last year.

Friday night we had a great pre-race dinner with the team. Lots of pasta was eaten, and stories were told.

Saturday morning I did my warm-up, and secured a spot along the front row of the Mens 39 and under Singlespeed. With the added entries, our wave size was nearly doubled: 81 total finishers.
On the go, we rolled out. We were spinning along the opening road section hitting speeds around 23-25mph. My 65 gear-inches felt good here, and I settled in at the rear-center of the lead pack (just over a dozen of us).
When we passed by the school and reached the trail, the big dogs cracked open the throttle and the front chunk of the group pulled away. I found myself at the tail of a four man line. For the first few miles I would chase them, occasionally falling off when I had to pass stragglers from the previous wave, but quickly catching up. In the first singletrack, about 5 miles in, one of the other singlespeeders got tangled up with a Sport/Expert Clyde (previous wave). I jumped on this opportunity to get around him. A bit later, I think it was near the "Steve's Secret" section, I passed one of the other Singlespeeders. Once again I was able to ride up the singletrack climbs in "Steve's Secret". The Sport/Expert Clydes all had geared bikes, and they were crawling up in granny gear. But, I grunted it out, and passed when I had the opportunity.

I basically rode the last 19 miles solo. Shortly before Anita's Hill, the top 2 guys in the 40+ Singlespeed wave (which started 10 minutes after me) passed. I ramped it up and paced them for about a mile, until we hit Anita's Hill. Here they pulled away, and I was once again without anyone to pace me.

I rolled into the finish at 1:57:20, and I found out later that I placed 11th. Not the result I had hoped for, but with the longer course it seemed most people's times were longer (the top Pro finishers were about 5 minutes slower than last year). During most of the race, I could feel my lack of top-end training. Note to self: do more intervals and threshold rides next season.

The afternoon was spent hanging out at the team tent, drinking beers and watching people finish. The expressions on the Beginners' faces were quite varied: some looked like they were done 15 miles ago, some looked ready to puke, but there were a lot of smiles.

A few special shout-outs:

Thanks to Jackie and Jay, Noelle and others for setting up the campsite and BBQ for after the race, along with prepping the team dinner.

John Osgood - smoking it with an hour and 49, for a 9th place finish in Expert 30-34.

Chad Schut - racing in his 20th Iceman. Yes, that's correct, he's done every single Iceman.

Todd Shorkey - came within one second of a personal best.