The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of racing, and kind of a roller coaster ride for me. This is a pretty big part of the season and I did a lot of good training leading up to it since we have the Missoula Pro XCT, the US Cup Finals, Marathon Nationals, and XC Nationals all within a month. I capped off a good training block the week before Missoula, then spent some time in Park City with Max Plaxton who was down getting some altitude prep, and even had dinner with Scott and Kimber Tedro who were there on vacation. The weather got a little confused and thought it was winter, and we had a mid-June snowstorm. Luckily it cleared up by the end of their visit.
I drove up to Missoula the day before the race, and still had plenty of time to check out the course and take a swim in the river with Max. Then we had dinner with Sam and Emily at Sam’s house, and crashed there. Thanks for the hospitality guys! Missoula is an awesome town and they put on an equally awesome event. The XC course is super tough with lots of climbing and real mountain bike descending, fast, some technical spots, and a whole lot of vertical drop. I had a good race and just slipped in the top 10 with 10th place after a good late race battle with Max and Ben Sonntag. I was feeling confident heading in to Colorado Springs the next weekend, and looking forward to defending my top 10 spot in the US Cup series.
That wasn’t to be, though, and for some reason after feeling pretty good all week and even on Friday I was just off during the race on Saturday. I didn’t get a great start and never really improved from there, I just couldn’t get a rhythm and felt like I was just riding around rather than racing and attacking the course. It’s always hard to keep it together mentally when you are having an off day at a big race. It’s so easy to just want to pack it in and quit if you aren’t performing like you know you can, but I hung in there and finished 22nd. It wasn’t at all what I was hoping for, but it’s all I had for the day. Oh well I thought, I’ll come out swinging at Marathon Nationals next weekend!
Not so much! Generally after a disappointing race I can channel my energy and use it as great motivation for the next. After finishing 3rd at Marathon Nationals in Sun
Valley last year I was fired up to go back and get some redemption. Things seemed normal all week and I headed up on Thursday with Sammi, it’s a short 4.5 hour drive and we made it in time for me to do a short pre-ride on course and make a nice dinner. Paul and Jeremiah flew in that night and we had a small but strong group ready to rock for the weekend.
On Friday Jeremiah and I took the gondola up to see a new added section of the course that went over the top of the mountain, as well as see the whole descent. The gondola was key because we could save our legs for the main event. I was feeling good and ready.
Unfortunately more disappointment was waiting for me. Shortly after the start, which was pretty civilized, we started climbing the main climb. We settled in to a hard tempo and I hung on the lead group for about 15 minutes, until I just started feeling crummy. It was really hot and I was thinking OK, just slow up a bit, drink, recover, and then turn it on. I did slow up and was dropped from the group, but before I could ever turn it on I started to notice my stomach was in shambles. I was feeling a little sick but just attributed it to the heat and the racing, but quickly realized that it was a little more serious. To make a long store short I fought through stomach cramps, nausea, gas, the works, and made it down to start the next lap. I kept thinking I should stop in the woods to use the bathroom, but held it in hopes it would pass. Well, it didn’t and as I soldiered on to the second lap I finally had to jump off my bike and hit the bushes. I’ve never had diarrhea during a race and wouldn’t complain if it never happened again! Something I ate must not have agreed with me, because after finishing the race I felt terrible and had another bout, complete with chills, nausea, etc.
I ended up finishing 5th but didn’t feel like I was racing, more like surviving! Racing for hours in the heat of the afternoon, combined with the added dehydration from the stomach problems left me super dehydrated. I was dizzy and couldn’t stomach any fluids, so Rebecca Rusch and another EMT saved the day and got me hooked up to a saline IV. After that I started to feel a little more normal, big thanks to them for the help!
That is a first for me, and it is a huge bummer that it happened to be in a big goal race of mine. When racing isn’t going well it is easy to get frustrated and want to pack it in, but it’s how we deal with these disappointments that shape us. I’m going to turn it in to motivation for XC nationals in PA, maybe it’s a great day, maybe it’s another tough one but either way I’ll be there giving it everything I have!
Thanks for reading
This past weekend was the 4th annual of my hometown Pro XCT, the Missoula XC. And to be honest, I was dreading it. The Missoula XC has been one of my favorite races from the beginning and I am incredibly lucky to have a National Series race right in my backyard, but, after spending the second year in a row putting all of my energy into troubleshooting my back issues rather than racing, the thought of being on the sidelines again, explaining to everyone why I wasn’t racing, was killing me.
Luckily, rather than coming up with an excuse to leave town for the weekend, I decided to embrace it, and it turned out to be an awesome time. I got to host Alex and Max at my house and as soon as the racers started popping up around town I began to get excited. It was great to see everyone and the whole Missoula XC crew put on a ridiculously fun event. It is amazing how much the community gets behind the race. I am lucky to call this place home.
Even though I wasn’t racing, I got to do a big first for me—feed/tech zone duty. It’s kind of crazy that in the last 15 years of traveling the circuit, I have never handed a bottle to a rider and I found myself with more nervous energy in the feed zone than I typically have on the start line. I certainly didn’t want to screw anything up and I went over (what should have been) the obvious with Max and Alex more times than I should have (sorry guys :).
Once the race started and I began handing bottles I was loving it. I mean, I would rather be out there throwing elbows and suffering like a dog, but it’s always good to experience things from a different perspective and the racing was exciting. Scott would call between laps to check in on the racing and I was so focused on getting the riders their bottles that I didn’t usually know their positions. Luckily Scott was able to relay that information to me from the live coverage. Despite Max taking a fall while in the lead, he and Alex each had solid races and I got them bottles every lap without screwing up too badly.
I’ve always had a lot of respect for team managers and mechanics, but after getting more of a first-hand idea of what it’s like, I am prompted to throw out a huge thanks to John Muller, Paul Pagano, and Rory Mason for being so awesome and as always, a MASSIVE thanks to Scott Tedro for being the most supportive guy I know. You all rock!
Up next, I will be heading to Colorado Springs for US Cup finals to see the battle for the US Cup belt! It will be great to check out the racing and catch up with Scott and the rest of the team who didn’t make it to Missoula.
I can’t wait to be back in the racing mix, but until then, I’ll check in with you guys again soon from the sidelines!
26-years is a long time for a mountain bike race to last so it’s GOT to be good! They had an enduro Saturday and the marathon kids and XC races Sunday drew tons of riders from 8 states.
I really needed a few days recovery from a killer 4th race win at Transylvania Epic. The young guns where on the attack but I came back like a junk yard dog! ;) Mid wee I had some post race media interviews (stay tuned on mountain bike radio) I was stoked to get back on the bike and racing by the weekend.
At Massanutten the trails are like KFC; finger lickin good. Thousands of hours of work by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and the combination of private (Massanutten resort property) gives the club Carte blanch to make rad berms jumps and features not found elsewhere.
This years race had me having flash backs of the close battle I had at the US Tripple Crown sponsored by Sho-Air. Sid Taberly and I had a hair raising sprint finish but this time is was Nick Wait revelation of the Transylvania Epic who was on the attack.
Nick weights a 119 lbs and this years course had stupid amounts of climbing so I was working at the max! http://www.strava.com/activities/151208552
I expected nothing else from Nick but pressure after his strong race last week but had a couple tricks up my sleeve. Nick punched it up all the climbs shutting me out of the technical descents so I couldn’t open up a gap. I saved my gas for 1 move. Last climb I went full stick!
When ever he tried to pass in the rough I would surge shutting him out. Then I assassinated the final downhill with pinpoint tail slide turns the Kenda Karma’s hooked up and the Scalpel was sharp. In the final turns I hit the perfect gear. POW! ~ 8 second not a huge margin but I will take the win!!
So much fun with all the friends and fans yelling at us. There was even a guy with a mega phone heckling on the rock garden!
Afterward we all hung out drank cheap beer and talked stories about the day.
As usual i rode there and back just like I do 3 days a week in training, to ride it so much its Got to be good.
Next is super training for Sho-Air US Cup Finals in Colorado Springs, Marathon Nationals in Idaho and XC Nationals in Pa! It is the peak of summer and it will be nice to catch up with the Team and hang out with Johnny Alex and Paul and the rest of the gang that make my job fun.
Time to get in the hurt locker!
With the race season starting so early and ending so late in the year, it is really important for me to take a couple of recharge breaks in the middle of the season. I’ve always tried to do this, and it’s nice that Adam is on the same program and encourages it. Besides the physical rest, the mental recharge is key as well. After Whiskey I needed some down time, since we had been racing a pretty solid eight weeks already. I remember the days when I would just be getting my first rides of the season in May, now we have two months of racing done! I took a mellow couple weeks and mixed in some fun trail rides on the Trigger, some spring snowboarding, and general r & r. We are building a garage at our house, which is also keeping things exciting.
I kicked things back in to gear mid-May, and started with a trip down to Catalina Island for the Gran Fondo. Being a Sho-Air Cycling Group event I knew it would be first class, but I didn’t know how amazing the island itself would be. It’s like mini vacation paradise, and I felt like I was in Mexico, Spain or some other foreign country. Narrow city streets on a hillside overlooking the ocean, with great restaurants and beaches close by. Jeremiah, Max, Tinker, Paul, Dave and the whole crew from Next Level were there and we had a blast living the island life. Jeremiah and I even rented snorkels and saw some pretty neat fish.
The Fondo itself is seriously tough. The 50-mile course is one of the hardest I have done, super steep, long climbs, and some really cool downhill ridge riding right along the coast. I had never done a Gran Fondo before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but knew it would be a hard but fun day in the saddle. I was feeling pretty good early decided to give it some gas near the top of the first climb and grabbed the KOM on that one, then sat up and waited for the group so we could all roll together for a good chunk of the race. Eventually I was riding with Jeremiah and Max, but lost touch with those guys with about 40 minutes to go. I started to get pretty dehydrated and couldn’t push through it; I had to stop for extra fluids and enjoyed some delicious watermelon at the feed zones. The heat made it a challenge for everyone I think, I know I was struggling to stay cool and drink enough. I think Tinker may have even drank more than one bottle, which is saying something! I rolled in third, a few minutes behind JB and Max. Those guys had a pretty good pace going at the end, nice riding guys. Afterwards we enjoyed the island life for an evening and then packed it up to head home on Sunday. If you haven’t been to Catalina this is a great way to see the island, bring the family or significant other, they will love it too.
I’ve been back in Utah for a few weeks and kicked the training back in to high gear. I even made it down to Southern Utah for an underground enduro event last weekend hosted by a friend of mine, it was a blast and would fill about two blogs with stories, but lets just say it was a wicked day out on Gooseberry Mesa on the Trigger 29, and one of the hardest days in the saddle I have had in a long time. How can enduro be hard? Well this is a new genre, Endurance Enduro. Not for the feint of heart…
This is something that I have, for the most part, always believed. The reason may never be crystal clear when we wish it would be, but eventually, we take a look back and have an aha moment and realize that as tough as that moment was…we would never go back and change it.
A few weeks ago, I was talking with Scott about the season and he explained to me that it was of the upmost importance that I put this season to a halt and focus on the urgency of getting healthy and back to normal…going back under the knife and removing the hardware from my ankle. This news was gut wrenching, but at the same time, it was a blessing. It was a blessing because I knew that this needed to be done and the continual postponing of the issue of removing it while trying to ignore the truth and putting in the effort of trying to race… was evidently the wrong decision. The other blessing is how the timing fell in sync with a moment that I really needed to be home with my family.
Since this news was received and my return from being back home, I have been figuring out the situation with my leg, spending my time on the bike with the intention and goal of maintaining fitness and having fun, and growing our garden.
So…on Friday, I meet with Dr. H (who installed my hardware in March 2013) so that we can come up with a plan and a surgery date for the removal, and meanwhile…
One of the last stages of the TOC which ended on a mountain climb and we decided to take a drive out, jump on our bikes and be a fan for a day. We parked at one of the designated parking areas, got the bikes out and began pedaling. Our ride was short and sweet and took us on the last miles of that days stage which were all uphill. It was an area that I have never experienced and I was amazed with how much of nothing and how many miles of road there was that I needed to eventually go back to and explore.
When we had enough time on the saddle, we headed back to the car, put the bikes away and jumped on the courtesy shuttle that would drop us right at the top and next to the finish line. There was still an hour or so to kill before the excitement would begin and while we were walking around the venue, I bumped into the crews at both the Kenda tent and the Cannondale tent.
Over at Kenda, I ran into Roger who has been so awesome this year and the rest of his crew. And then over at the Cannondale tent, I was immediately greeted with a smile and a big poster board cutout that was made into the head of Peter Sagan. It had two side handles to hold to allow you to have and find as much fun with Peter as wished.
At first, I was a little reluctant and not really sure what to do with a face of Peter that was so large, but then I began to have a little fun and found Peter photo bombing way more photos than necessary and at the same time…getting me into trouble.
If there had been an award for the days most embarrassing moments of the fans…I probably would have taken the cake on this one. But..at least I was able to entertain the peloton for a moment so that they could be relieved of their pain and suffering for a few seconds.
So…after watching the top ten roll through the finish, we began walking down the last 1.2 mile climb to head back to our car while cheering for the rest of the field as they rolled by to the finish. We were coming up the 1K to go banner and when I looked up, I saw the peloton rolling through and knew that Peter was approaching. Leading the pack were a few Cannondale jerseys (one of them, Mr. King) and I kneeled down with Peter in hand to get a photo of him in the front. Just as the photo was taken, the peloton approached and one of the guys in green looked over at me and tossed me his water bottle (I guess this was a way of saying thank you for your support). My immediate reaction was to turn and grab it, and just as I was about to grab it, I lost my footing in the gravel that lined the shoulder and before I knew it…I was on my bootie.
Yup. It was all right in front of the peloton of about 40 riders and as I turned bright red, I looked up to see them all staring at me
and looking as if they were ready to stop and help me up. All I could hear was “are you okay?!” and all I could do was laugh, even though it actually really hurt. Nope, I do not have any video, but I have a few photos below for your entertainment :).
I guess these are the kinds of things you get into when you are not able to race and have to watch people race and live vicariously through them. And speaking of that…it has been awesome watching and reading about my teammies racing. It looked like there was an awesome throw down by the boys on the beautiful Catalina Island at the Gran Fondo a couple of weeks ago along with the current domination that JB is showing over at the TSE. Hope to join you next year JB, keep on killin’ it over there!
So…the clearness of the reasoning for my year to have headed down this path is not super clear to me yet, but I am sure that it will someday. But meanwhile, I am super blessed and thankful to have Team ShoAir behind me and someone like Scott who is like family to me who stands behind me and always takes care…thank you Scott, it is more than appreciated and I will be back out there representing soon!
After an on-the-ropes spring, I was fired up to get the fighting form back. I was angry. The race at Sea Otter wasn’t bad, but a lost chain made it frustrating to lose the top-5 and I’d badly wanted to hit pay dirt for Team Sho-Air/Cannondale
Since I stepped off the plane from Sea Otter, I decided to put all the chips IN! The past four weeks have been soldier training and things finally started to click.
Though there haven’t been many races since my win at the Cohutta 100,
I have been feeding the beast with a win at the Middle Mountain Momma and knocking down Strava segment like dominos.
It’s been a blast smashing it with the road pros Joe Dombroski (Kky) and Ben King (Garmin) as well as my protégés Cameron Cogburn (Cool Stop/Mountain Kakis) and Dave Flaten (US Armed Forces) on the big days. I took some awful beatings and then started handing out some beatings. My form has gone from decent to killer-2013 levels in 4 weeks! Of course there have been some epic soul dirt rides to near-uncharted regions and the tune-up at Catalina Island Gran Fondo was a great low-pressure chance to drive the pace and have some fun.
My energy level has been awesome lately, and I’ll find myself going for a spin only to find my thumb dropping five gears to attack a hill.
It feels good to fly! More time in the thin air of my altitude tent is paying off with some awesome VO2 max performances in the 7w/k range, and I am able to crack out big diesel endurance power like the 290w np for four hours yesterday on the Tomahawk Loop; and logged 74,000 feet of climbing in the last month.
The best part of being back is the good feeling that some pay off for Team Sho-Air/Cannondale is ahead; I have already reaped the rewards of some epic training. Stay tuned, but don’t blink cause I’ll be a flash of green and black and red.
Trans-Sylvania Epic is the next target and I’m coming at it like an un-caged gorilla.
I am in yellow after three rocky tough stages: Day one was a fast and furious prologue; I gave it everything and punched it hard. Stage two was long and hot; Lots of super technical rocks and deep dark forest that are the graveyard of bikes!
My trusty scalpel was amazing and my Kenda tires withstood a beating, Kona set a hard pace but as the final climb approached, I knew I had more in the tank and attacked for another win and GC lead of 4:30
It’s good timing too; TSE is perfect springboard for the national championships in July and the meaty part of the season.
Whatever happens this week I will give it my best and enjoy this good form and campground atmosphere here at the Trans-Sylvania Epic; the start of good things!
I owe a big thanks to Scott Tedro and the rest of Team Sho-Air/Cannondale for the support to make the magic happen!