Monday, September 29, 2008

Cyclocross Season is Here!

This weekend was the first cyclocross race of my season. What a way to kick it off with a UCI race on home turf. The inaugural Madcross presents Jonathan Page's Planet Bike Cup (that's MCpJPPBC if you're into acronymns) was happening just outside of Madison and lots of big names came to town for the event. Thanks to Renee and her Capitol Velo gals, JPE and his Brazen Dropout boys, Planet Bike and all the other great sponsors for helping put on the fun weekend!

Unfortunately I couldn't get the new Ridley all put together for the races but I guarantee it will make an appearance next weekend. A very cool course with some twisty off camber stuff and a few short steep hills. One set of barriers and several open power sections. With nearly 25 women on the start line this was likely the best cross field Wisconsin has ever seen. It was great to have talented riders from the Midwest show up like Catherine, Devon, Sydney, and Linda plus some new faces who traveled even further. We lined up on a dirt track and I was undergeared for the ensuing fast start. After a near pile up in one of the first corners I was mid pack and forced to try to come around riders. My teammate Anna broke the top buckle on her shoe in the incident but she put the hammer down and moved up quickly.

Thanks Bubba for the pic
First cross race of the year is always a bit of a shock to the system. More like a time trial than road races or crits and there really is no place to catch your breath. It definitely hurt and the congestion from the cold I picked up late last week didn't help matters much. I was trying to push it a bit in some corners and took myself out on the third lap. No major damage though three riders zoomed around me and I was left chasing them the rest of the race. I managed to stay close to them but didn't have the power to move up on them and finished 10th. Anna rocked the race and finished 4th - way to go! Natasha Elliot from Canada pretty much schooled the field winning by over 30 seconds.

It was so much fun to be back racing off road and having so many people cheering for you is always great. Dave was out and I also had a bunch of family in town including my parents, grandma, aunt, cousin and her two young sons. Thanks for all of the support!

Lots of fun to watch the men's race with some big guns in town to try to prevent Page from winning his namesake race. The guys were smoking fast and by the third lap JP had the race pretty much wrapped up. Riding for PB Mike Mueller nabbed 2nd and Marko and Jesse were up in the mix for 6th and 8th respectively. A great day for the Planet Bike team!

Sunday's course was just slightly modified with a tricky tight downhill 180 turn. Pretty much a power course though with just one set of barriers on a hill. Learning from my mistake on Saturday I put it in the big ring and had a much better start. I'm still figuring out gearing and pushed a bigger gear for this second race. I rode for a lap or so with Catherine before the two Velo Bella riders caught us and then I slowly fell back. Linda passed me a lap or two later and I would spend the rest of the race trying to catch her. I was sad to see Syd walking her bike halfway after getting a flat tire in a bad spot on the course. I felt more smooth on the bike today but still wasn't feeling great. Up the final hill to the finish on the last lap I heard my chain clanging around and then it fell off. Too flustered to fix it I ran the final 50m to the line and was lucky that Kaitie didn't catch me. Moved up a spot and finished 9th. Another awesome race for Anna who finished 3rd and who was with 2nd place most of the race. Nice job to our friend and race announcer Brian - it's amazing how much more fun it is to race (and spectate) when someone is announcing the action.

The men's race was awesome. Lots of big riders with Troy and Todd Wells, Tim Johnson, Bjorn Selander, among many others. It was exciting with a group of 4 taking charge after a lap or two (Page, Wellsx2, TJ). Eventually Todd pulled away solo but with a few laps to go Page bridged up and it was a fight to the finish where Jonathan took the win by only a few seconds.

Thanks again for everyone involved in putting this race on - it was great to have such a high caliber event in Wisconsin. As always the rowdy fans showed up to show their support and the crowds were fabulous the entire weekend. Also thanks to Bob and Planet Bike for helping make this race happen and for the support this season!

Back to doing some substitute teaching as the bike shop cuts back on employees for the fall. Had a fun day of teaching Economics last week (aka showing the movie Hudsucker Proxy to 5 classes). Another Wisconsin doubleheader this weekend with Cam-Rock and Lapham Peak. I need some more racing in my legs before the next round of UCI races. Those will be coming up quick with a likely trip to Ohio Oct 10-12 and Louisville the 25/26. Can't wait to race the new Ridley! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Up North

Every year Dave and I head north to Lake Superior and Madeline Island where Dave's parents have a cabin. It's always nice to travel up there and see how beautiful northern Wisconsin is. We left on Thursday afternoon and stopped near Stevens Point to mountain bike at Standing Rocks County Park. Now I sort of have a fickle relationship with mountain biking - I love to be out in the woods riding trails but I hate getting overwhelmed with technical sections. Standing Rocks was awesome - about 17 miles of continuous single track that flowed really well. There were some roots and rocks but it was manageable and we had a blast. We had a nice visit with Dave's grandma afterward before we stayed with his parents in Marshfield for the night.

The next day we finished off the beautiful drive and saw lots of color in the trees already. We took the ferry over to the island and had a relaxing afternoon and a nice walk.

Cider enjoyed the windy ferry ride

We got some sailing in the next day with some strong winds. Waves were 6-8 feet and we were rocking and rolling.
Captain Dave
Dave's parents

I got a wee bit sea sick and we called it a day after a couple of hours on the water.

The town park on the island has a beautiful lagoon and we had a nice sunset stroll on the beach

See how big the waves are! You'd get sea sick too :)
We had a nice smooth sail on Sunday which I enjoyed much more and Dave and I also rode our bikes around the island. On our way back home on Monday we stopped in Wausau for some more mountain biking at Nine Mile Forest. I again had a ton of fun riding the bike off road although I had a hard time keeping up with Dave. Hmmm - maybe I'll have to do a MTB race or two next season?

We're just a few days from the big race and I can't wait. The competition coming into town will be top notch and I'm looking forward to racing and watching some races. My teammate Jonathan is hot off of a win in Chequamegon and the two UCI races in MI and he'll be looking for two more against the likes of Tim Johnson and the Wells bros. Weather looks to be spectacular. If you're anywhere even close to Wisconsin you should make the trip and support this awesome event. Big, EQUAL prize money for men and women. See you there!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dave's Adventure at Ironman Wisconsin

The past week has been Ironman mania in Madison. I'm assuming most readers know what an Ironman is but it's the crazy endeavor of swimming 2.4 miles, then biking 112 miles, and finishing off your day with a 26.2 mile run. Ridiculous and impressive. The bike shop was full of nervous athletes needing tubulars glued on last minute and picking up clothing and food. The weather forecast was looking a little sketchy on Thursday/Friday with temps predicted at 70 with a decent chance of rain. So we sold lots of armwarmers and vests. Dave was going through his taper getting ready for his second IM and trying to rest up as much as possible. He finished his first IM in 11 hours and 14 minutes and was hoping to cut off 30 minutes this year. He went out and got a pair of Skins this week and did a lot of couch surfing with his legs up.

He had a pretty extensive squad of fans planning on coming out on Sunday to cheer him on. In addition to numerous friends and his Swimfast teammates my parents, Dave's parents, and his brother Ryan and fiancee Rachael were in town for the event. We were both up at 3AM unable to sleep and while Dave slugged down some Ensure I put on some awesome Ironman tattoos.

We were downtown by 5AM and while Dave was hanging out with some friends getting ready for the 7AM start I parked myself at a coffee shop for some caffeine and people watching. It was pretty entertaining to watch anxious athletes and their fans stream in to get their fix and try to plan out their day. I headed to where the athletes get on their bikes and head out on the course. The IM is at the Monona Terrace and there are these huge helix shaped structures that people have to run or bike up/down depending on the transition. It's a pretty common generalization that triathletes often struggle with steering their bike in anything but a straight line so they put up helpful signs for them.

I ran into our friends Jordan, Rachel, and Yvonne and we watched the swim and snagged an apparently off limits spot to watch the start of the bike. Here are 2200 people swimming in the lake - a picture can't really do it justice but the sound of all the flopping arms and legs is pretty cool.

Cider amused us while we waited by pulling some weeds and digging in the mulch.

Dave was out of the water at 1:13 (that's an hour and thirteen minutes - the fastest pro this year was 51 minutes) and we were in a great spot to cheer him on as he got on the bike. Several of my coworkers and other friends were participating and it was fun to yell for them throughout the day.

After we saw him off it was a dash to the car to drive out and try to catch him on his first lap of the course. Amazingly we all got there in time to see him ride by.

Then we had a nice leisurely almost two hours to sit in the sun and wait for him to come by again. Weather was perfect - low 70s, mostly sunny, and then the wind picked up while they were out there but still conditions were ideal.

After we saw him the second time - looking strong and flying up the hill - Ryan, Rachael, and I kitted up and got on our bikes. We cut through the course and ended up riding backwards to try to see him once more. We ran into our friends Brian and Courtney who also rode out there and stopped to cheer along the road. They just happened to stop where this sign was.

Dave's boss lives nearby and had made it and stuck it out on the course. Dave was looking great on the bike and we saw him earlier than we expected to. We rode back to our house to change and then drove downtown and got on our bikes again to follow him around on the run course. He was sporting the flashy white compression socks and the first time we saw him he had a smile on his face and his stride looked smooth and strong.

We rode around more and ran into more friends and family scattered on the course. It's so cool to see how many people are out there cheering and the volunteers for the event are top notch too. We caught him at mile 19 still running great and Dave's dad (through his complex and precise equations) figured Dave was on pace to run a 10:45 - his goal. We all made our way up to the finish line and I continued to bike around trying to catch him with roughly 2 miles to go. He came through where I was waiting at 5:20 (10:20 race time) and I yelled at him how well he was doing and what his time was.

I was so excited at how great of a day he was having. He was going to do better than he had hoped for and was looking really strong (although I'm sure his feet felt like they were going to fall off!) I quickly rode up to the finish, locked the bike, and squeezed my way into a good spot to see him cross the line. I saw him coming and he came across in 10:35!

Lots of friends and family were on hand to congratulate him on his amazing time. He finished 162 overall out of 2082 finishers, 41st in his age group, and he cut nearly 40 minutes from his time last year.

I am sooooo proud of how well he did and his dedication and determination throughout the entire process. Dave is the ultimate multitasker and his ability to train as much as he does when he works as much as he does is truly impressive. Doing an Ironman is tough when you put your all into trying to peak for one big event. So many things have to fall in place and you have to hope everything works out just right. It was awesome to see all of that come together yesterday and to support him in such a great achievement.

Big thanks to all of our family and friends that cheered him on throughout the day. He was so inspired by all of the support out there and to see the same folks at different parts of the courses all day helped fuel him on.

Congratulations to all of our friends and his Swimfast teammates who raced too! It's an inspiring event and anyone who completes such a massive feat deserves some recognition.

Thanks for reading!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

That time of year

It's the time of year where I'm enjoying some long rides, some time on the cross bike, and those cool beautiful late summer mornings. I rode down to the UW Memorial Union Terrace the other day before work to enjoy a book, some coffee, and the view of the lake. I have plenty of memories from this classic place - it's been a favorite destination of mine since I moved to Madison in 1997.

Got on the cross bike and did some off road riding three times this week and it was great. It's fun to be riding in the grass again and honing the skills. Saturday was the cyclocross clinic taught by Jonathan Page with myself and some other Planet Bike teammates helping out. We had a great turnout with about 25 riders for the morning beginner session and close to 40 for the afternoon advanced.

Jonathan is a super nice guy and he had some great tips for everyone. We also played several spirited games of foot down which was totally fun. Thanks to Renee, Dave, Bob, Jonathan, and everyone else who helped put it on. Also, I got to spend a quality 8 hours in the chamois, so . . . well, you know how the saying goes ;) Here I am in the new skinsuit.

The weather has been hot here in Wisconsin and I've gotten out and enjoyed some nice long rides. The riding west of Madison is beautiful with all of the hills and everything is still really green although that's soon to change in the next couple of weeks. But it feels good just to be out enjoying the ride.

The Madison Ironman is just 6 days away and Dave is making his final preparations. A bunch of family will be in town for the event and we're all looking forward to Sunday. It'll be a bright and early morning starting at 4am with just over 2000 folks hitting the lake at 7. If all goes as planned Dave should cross the line around 5:30. I'll be sure to document the day in photos :)

Hope everyone had a good 3 day weekend!