Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Three days of Jingle Cross

This past weekend was my first time to Iowa City for one of the biggest cyclocross weekends in the Midwest. Brendan and I met in Cannon Falls on Friday morning and headed down to Iowa early so we could check out the course before the Friday night races. The Friday night course didn't seem too technical except Mt. Krumpit which is a 20% or more grass hill (run up) with three boards at the bottom that take most of your speed away. Mt. Krumpit was a little muddy so I thought I'd be running it during the race.

race start photo by cycling news
I got my call up  on the 6th of 8 rows and as the race started we sprinted down a long straight which is always a little nerve racking when every guy in the field wants to get to the front. First time up Mt. Krumpit I was actually able to ride it as the temp was about 16 deg., the mud had frozen making it firm. Everything was going pretty good, I got feeling back in my hands and was making my way through the field. With 2 laps to go I was riding with 15-19th and flatted my rear tire. I rode half a lap to the pit on the flat, grabbed my B bike and  held on to 19th for the finish. I was pretty happy with a top 20 for my first UCI race.

Foundry Harrow and Kit looking good under the lights Photo by TMB Images

Loving these shorter barriers Photo by TMB Images

Day 2 came pretty quick with a late night on Friday. Saturday was the big show, UCI C1 race with all the big guns coming out to get some points. I had a similar call up, pretty much second to last row. The course was more technical with us going up Mt Krumpit two different ways and an off camber downhill section that zigzagged across the hill. During the race it started snowing which made things more interesting. It was a super fun race, but probably the hardest cross race I've ever done.

Flyover and fresh snow Photo by Velonews
Pushing up Mt. Krumpit
On Sunday morning I rested up in the hotel and watched the Superprestige Gavere which got me pumped up for racing that day. The temps again dropped into the teens as it got colder during the day. It snowed another inch overnight making the course a little muddy as it melted. The 3rd day I had to dig deep to make myself go fast and not think about my fatigued muscles. I got into the groove and was really enjoying the fast curving and rutted downhill. On the last two laps I was chasing a racer who was in front of me by 5-10 seconds and I was slowly bringing him in and thinking it might go down to a sprint if I could get there.  In the last few turns he overcooked it and crashed on some icy grass. I made the pass and was happy to be home free with a top 25.  I had a couple tire issues but my Foundry Harrow rode perfectly through the weekend. Overall it was a great racing experience that I will be looking forward to doing again next year!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Copper Harbor SSUSA

This past weekend at Single Speed USA in Copper Harbor, MI was an awesome weekend of single track, excessive drinking, and fun people who love riding bikes. A group of us caravanned up to the event on Friday and got into town just in time to sign in at 8pm. That night we got a little rowdy after the long drive as we were pretty excited for riding the next day.

Houghton, MI only 1hr to Copper Harbor
Saturday morning we got up and had a big breakfast and coffee at the local cafĂ© and shook off our hangovers.  The race wasn't till 10am so we had plenty of time get into our gear and dial in bikes. I was riding my everyday race rig the Foundry Broadaxe that I had set up single speed with a Surly singulator.
Pre race with appropriate SSUSA gear
Single speed USA is a race but it's not really a race with the biggest prize going to the DFL rider. I decided with amount of fun we were having I would just ride the event instead of  race it. As we started a 2-3 mile road lead out before we got into the trails I was spun out and when Jesse and Josh put in an attack I didn't really have the gear to follow, plus I was still liking my idea of just riding... The first few sections of single track were some of most technical with large roots, boulders, and sheer rock walls that left your ass dragging on your rear tire. After all the descending we rode up the flow section of trail, and with single speed I found myself having to go at my own pace. I was feeling pretty good and somewhere up that climb I started racing to get clear of the group I was in. I made my way up to Josh who was on his first or second flat which is a bummer because he was riding really strong. At that point I knew there were two riders in front of me and some 20 miles of trail to go.
Photo by Ollis Photography

This was my second time riding single speed and my first time riding the Copper Harbor trails and I was having a blast with both. I was running a 34-19 which worked great for the 3000ft of climbing we did. My Foundry Broadaxe worked great as well being super nimble and quick in the rough technical terrain. I was able to pick the best or sometimes the worst line at the very last second. The only thing I would of changed was my tires, I was running the super light Schwalbe Thunder Burt 2.1 which I somehow lucked out and didn't flat. I should have put on my larger volume racing ralphs to handle the rough sections of trail.  So right before the last section of flowy single track I caught the 2nd place rider and made it down for a 2nd place finish.
Swimming Pier

After the race we had many drinks, pasty's, bike derby's, more drinks, and watched the competition to decide where SSUSA will be next year which included a swimming relay, beer, BB guns, and a bucket. Wisconsin will be hosting next year and I'll definitely be there!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Woolly Race

This was my first time doing the Woolly race in St. Croix Falls. In previous years I've chosen to do the Almanzo Royal gravel race down in Spring Valley MN. So Tim and I went out Saturday for a pre-ride to check out the trails. We did 3 laps on the super tacky fast and fun single track. The course seemed rather flat or it didn't seem like you were climbing a whole lot. Turns out you do get 600ft of climbing per lap which adds up in 4 lap race.
Hollywood Lead out train

As the race started we had a long lead out around a field to get things sorted out before the single track. Jeff took the front as we rode the first section of single track, after he made a wrong turn for a moment I ended up on the front for the next lap or so. It was pretty much a 3-man race until the rock garden in the 3rd lap. There was lots of lap traffic and people stacking up, Jack was in front and ran around riders on the rock garden. I ran past Jeff and chased for about 5 minutes, but every time I passed a lapper, Jack had passed one or two more in front of me. I had to let off the gas and rode the last lap solo to a 2nd place finish. It ended up being a pretty long race at almost 2hrs and I was feeling it in the end, but its still early season so the races are going to hurt a little more. My Foundry Broadaxe worked perfectly being super quick in the twisty single track. I'm also loving my Racing Ralph tires so far they have way better grip then the Ron's I ran last season. I'm looking forward to another buck hill this week and Mt Kato next weekend.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Decorah Time

This was my first time heading down to Decorah Iowa for the 24th annual mountain bike time trial. The course was marked the day before, so Brendan and I went out for a lap to check it out Saturday morning. The trails were amazing, more technical, steeper climbs and descents then anything we have around the twin cities area. The course was just over 9 miles and had 1500ft of climbing! I took the 5th start position was able to catch 4 of the 5 in front of me in the first 2 miles only leaving Devin in front of me by a minute or more. Around the halfway point there was a rocky descent which I managed to nail my rear tire on pretty good and within 30 seconds my tire was almost flat, race over. I rode a little ways back down the trail where a few people were hanging out and borrowed a pump. After 10-15 minutes of trying to get air into my tire and having a cold beer with the group, I just rode out the rest of the trail to finish 15 minutes off the eventual winner Jeff Hall who won by almost 2 minutes!

This was my first race on my new Foundry Broadaxe, and I have no complaints, this thing absolutely rips the singletrack. We also saw a pretty cool ice cave and some mini horses right by the trail.  Can't wait to come back to Decorah next year. Next weekend is my first WORS race in Iola, should be fun!

entrance to ice cave

Brendan trying to get a picture with the mini horse

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ragnarok 105

This was my first time getting a chance to do the 105 mile gravel race in Red Wing, MN that they call the Ragnarok 105. I was pretty excited having heard all about the hilly course that sends you up some of the steepest and least traveled (MMR) roads in the area. The one hill I will remember the most, at mile 90 is called Heaths Hill, and knowing Heath's riding style the hills name makes a lot of sense. It was pretty much a 4-wheeler trail with muddy ruts at a 8% grade that went for about a mile, brutal. What most people probably remember from the day was the weather, It was 40deg, raining, 15mph winds, and a few lightning strikes that added to the drama.

Checkpoint #1 getting the next set of cue sheets

Thankfully the rain stopped at the half way point in the race and it started to warm up. We were in a lead group of 6 or 7 working well together, not pushing the pace too much, just riding and chatting some. After every large hill we would drop one or two riders, or we ended up waiting at the top of a hill for someone who had a dry set of cue sheets. Mark was the last one to drop off, as we pushed ahead in a cross wind the soggy gravel took its toll. Now we were down to the just three, Jesse, Charlie, and myself for the last 30 miles.
Final Checkpoint, 25 miles to go. Group of 3.
By the end we were all hurting in one way or another as we rode the final miles. Jesse and I hit the final climb up to the finish with Charlie 50ft back, I couldn't climb in a sitting position without the cramp twinges, so I stood. In the end I had the most left in the tank taking the last climb to the finish by 10 seconds or so. I'd like to say thank you to the race organizers for putting on an awesome race through some beautiful country that I tried to look around at between lightning strikes. Also thanks to Angry Catfish Bicycle shop for the hot coffee and free swag. Finally my bike, a Foundry Harrow B1 was the perfect tool for the job. The Harrow is a great mix of super stiff lightning fast race bike for snapping up steep climbs, yet it managed to smooth out the rough gravel road for over 100 miles. Can't wait till next year!

Muddy Foundry Harrow

The Rok trophy

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Racing for the Cup

This last Sunday was 3rd edition of the Cold Catfish Cup and my second time racing. The race takes place at the fast and flowy Carver Lake trail in Woodbury. It would have been a fast race, but with the 4" of snow we got on Saturday morning and warm 35deg race day temps it all turned to mashed potatoes. On the first lap more then 100 racers set off down the hill to ride around the lake for the 1st of 3 laps. The pace was pretty easy as I sat 2nd wheel around the lake. It was mostly packed with a few slushy rutted sections that were tricky to ride, later I found out some racers in the back of the pack had to push their bikes around the lake as it got too slushy to ride. After the lake there is the one and only decent hill, and chose to go to front so I could get a good line up the climb. Once we were in the single track I just rode easy trying not to make any mistakes, I got a little gap maybe 20 seconds on a group of 5 chasers who weren't trying too hard to catch me as they thought we would ride around the lake again and group up. As I came out of the single track, I found out the lake was out and we were just heading back into the single track, this changed things, no suffering out on the lake and no climb. By the second lap the first section of single track was not ridable as the rut was deep and skinny surrounded by foot tracks. Brendan Bellew caught up and took the lead as he was on and off the bike riding and running, but mostly running the first section. Brendan was riding the tricky rutted single track really well as usual, so I just followed as we passed lapped riders. Once he did let me go to the front I was riding too slow trying not to make a mistake and we were caught by Dave, I told Brendan to go to the front and he hit it for the last mile of single track and we gaped Dave heading into the final lap. After running the first section again neither of us could get clipped into our pedals as our cleats were iced up. After some pedal kicking I was able to get clipped in again but Brendan was not. We rode together the rest of the final lap coming out of the single track and had to sprint across a parking lot to the finish line. I went on the outside but had a bad line coming into the last little weave to finish stretch. The last straight was not as smooth as the parking lot and Brendan's foot bounced off his pedal as we sprinted just long enough for me to take the win. It did make sense that we would go 1 2 as we've been riding mostly together this last month. Overall the event was great, tons of happy people, multiple bonfires, good food and good beer!

The Cup

Thanks for the photo Grant

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

MNCX Champs

Hard to believe the warmest race of the day on saturday had an official starting temp of zero degrees. So with zero degrees and some hardened snow and ice to race on, we had our MN State cyclocross championship weekend set. I don't remember much of my race on satruday except falling off of the leaders after two laps and then by lap three Chris Smith catching up to me. He was riding strong and we would stay together the rest of the race. On the last lap on the straight before the sand pit, I managed to get around Chris for the last spot on the podium. I would like to say there was a great showing of fans/hecklers considering the conditions.

On Sunday we had a few inches of fresh snow and it was about 10 deg warmer, which felt great. I was in the 23-34 age group race. For the first few laps it was Josh Bauer, Fred Mills and myself riding together, and taking turns at the front. Thanks to the race volunteers we had a freshly raked sand pit before the race, which left no easy line. On maybe the 4th lap I think Josh didn't clear the sand and I was able to get a 10 second gap. I just kept the pace steady as I knew we still  had 7 laps to go. On the second to last lap some Canadian guy was making a push to catch on, I had to give it all I had for the last lap to hold him and Josh Bauer off for the win. Another good day of hecklers on the stairs with Dan Strese on the loud speaker telling me I still had 50 laps to go.. every lap.

The weekend turned out to be a great way to end my CX season, and surprisingly with all the snow and ice I didn't even crash. Now its time for an off season filled with fat bikes, friends, the river bottoms, canadian beer, and hot dogs cooked over a bonfire.