Thursday, May 31, 2012

Grand Prix of Europe

!!! Euro Racing Time!!!

        A few weekends ago I moved up to Boulder, Colorado and within 10hs I was on the couch in the fetal position battling a nasty stomach bug. This would end up resulting in 30+ hours of zero food or water intakes, which took a pretty gnarly toll out of my body. After about 3 days of hell, I was able to start riding again and begin to enjoy all that Boulder had to offer. I wasn’t able to race that weekend due to obvious reasons, but I was looking forward to throwing down a few more sprint workouts before leaving for Belgium Thursday. The flight to Frankfurt was a lot faster than the previous year. It seemed like I watch three movies straight, dinner, sleep, breakfast, and then arrived.  Once we all got together in Germany, we hit the road for our first race, which would be the Grand Prix of Europe in Belgium. Unfortunately it was another 3-hour drive to the race course which was brutal after just getting of the plane. I woke up Saturday morning feeling like a zombie due to the 9-hour time difference and the little 5 hours of sleep I got that night. Luckily we were all greeted to a pretty solid breakfast followed by some super sweet shredding of the course. The Belgium xc course was unlike anything I have ever done before. It seriously went straight up, followed by more straight up, then with a little diversity of somewhat straight up. The craziest part of the course was the little rest it provided. Somehow the descents were even steeper than the climbs so they were over in a matter of seconds and you were still hitting max heart rate due to the constant chances of massive crashing. I was pretty stoked on how I handled the descents and was feeling quite strong given the circumstances.

       On race day we all woke up after at least 8 hours of amazing sleep and were ready to race some Belgians. We rode about 40  minutes to the course from the house were we found that there would be a start loop that consisted of about an 8 minute straight up climb with a quick turn onto the end part of the course taking us down the most sketchy descent of the day. This was all crazy enough when pre-riding, but with 40+ other kids we all knew some serious contact was going to go down. My teammate, Ryan, and I were unfortunately on the last row, which wasn’t too bad considering that the start loop would provide us a great chance to move up. As soon as the start gun went off it was full on. I was able to move from the last 40s to about top 20s by the top of the climb. The next 2 laps were easily the hardest 40 minutes of racing I had done in my life. I was feeling pretty spent after the start loop, plus I still was battling the stomach bug that seemed to not want to go away. Going onto my third an final lap, I was feeling great and moved up to 12 place/ 2nd American finishing behind Shane Skelton in 11th.
 I was totally stoked on my mental and physical comeback and even more stoked on how many guys I passed on some of the gnarliest of descents. I am finding that Euro races are all about taking some crazy chances and not letting off the throttle for even a second because you will get passed and you will get dropped… HARD! After the race, my teammates Shane, Lucas and I hit up a recovery ride that was followed up my some recovery pastries. Our search for Belgium waffles was a no go, but later that night we were served some awesome Tiramisu, which went down pretty nicely after a long day of racing and bike commuting.  We got up Monday morning and drove 5 hours to our base home in Germany and got in some solid rides before the next race in Switzerland. There has been many waffle and pastry stops along the rides and a great end to our day involves going to town on the local FroYo shop. Now some good recovery before the Swiss Cup Sunday. Well... not before a recovery waffle shop stop in the AM!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Whiskey 50 Off Road Recap PART 2!!!

After the sufferfest that was the Fat Tire Crit Friday night, I went on a spin Saturday with my awesome coach TJ Woodruff and was joined by the Cliff Bar and Luna Chix Teams. We pre rode the first and last 8 or so miles of the course and was able to give to aid on the monster hour climb out of skull valley that's about half way through the race. After some recover waffles, I headed home and went straight into rest and relaxation. Later that night, I had a awesome dinner with the AZ Devo guys and watched them stuff their faces with whatever food was in arms reach due to the fact that they all race that day and were ready for some refueling. Considering the fact that in 12 hours I would be burning some serious calories, I ate quite a bit myself and was one happy kid.

I woke up the morning of the race feeling pretty great. Legs were not feelin too sluggish and my mind was super relaxed. With our start time around 8:30 am, I hit the bike an hour before to get a good little spin/ warm up in. On the start line I was so stoked out of my mind to be throwing it down with all these fast broskis! The gun went off and after about a minute of a hard pace, the group slowed down a tad with the knowledge of all of us still having a good 20+ minutes of road left before the single track begins. I stayed with the main group all the way leading up to the pavement to dirt transfer and was feeling shreddy! I threw down a hard effort to get up as far as I could before the single track so I wouldn’t get too bunched up and succeed for the most part besides 3 or 4 guys that were a little scary on the descents. I did some serious work to move up before the long descent, and then I went about 48.9% AARON GWIN on the descent.

Once I got to the bottom we then had a 20 minute climb, 25 minute descent, and finally the hour climb to the tippity tip top. From here I just set a solid pace and left it there. From pre riding the race and talking to all the other guys, I found it was best just to keep it steady and prevent my legs from exploding. I did just that beside for being interrupted 3 or 4 time with  broken zip tie that allowed my derailleur cable to snag on my tire. After about 30 minutes of here a “motor”, TJ caught up to me and handed me some electrical tape and just like that, problem solved. I got to the top of the climb and barreled down as hard as I could down some of the sickest in race single track around and just prayed my legs would not run out of batteries. The craziest part of the race was that I was probably around 55th/ 60th at the bottom of the climb and after passing all the guys that went too hard too early I found myself in 39th descending to the finish. I was with three other guys going into the finishing road section which is about 5 miles long. After a solid pace line it was everyman for themselves going into the final turn and lets just say I at least was able to put up a fight, but found myself tanked after throwing down a little power in the pace line and watch top 40 ride away. I ended up 42 or 43rd and was happy with a mid pack finish for sure. If I could do anything different next year it would be to give a little more at the start to get further up before the single track, and also to up my pace a little bit ascending the hour hell climb. All and all I was cazy stoked and couldn’t wait to take a shower. I already can’t wait till next year. Bring it Kabush, 2013!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Whiskey Off Road Rewind PART 1

Whiskey Off Road Rewind 


The Whiskey 50 is a must for me every year. After 3 years of racing the 25 mile event, I stepped up to the epic 50 miler, which has everything the 25 does with the addition of a hour climb that makes or breaks every riders race. The last two years, Epic rides (promoters) has turned the Whiskey Off Road into one of the biggest races in the US. With the combination of amazing singletrack and a $30,000 cash purse, they bring the fastest pros in North America to battle it out. After getting back from the Sea Otter Classic earlier in the week, I drove a few hours north to throw it down with what was sure to be the fastest competition yet.

I got out of the pro riders meeting around 1:30pm on Friday and had a little under 5 hours before the race weekend kicked off with Fat Tire crit. We stopped by this little mexican place to get some good eats and then hit up the oh so great Trader Joes to grab the normal cyclist shopping list consisting of Almond Milk, Rice Cakes, Granola, Bananas, Pears, Chocolate Milk, and my favorite find being Gluten Free Waffles!

I rode to the race course from the house making sure my legs were nice and warmed up for what was sure to be the fastest/ hardest 20 minutes of my life. I came up to the start/ finish line after a few pre ride laps on the course only to find half the pro field already lined up. Myself along with guys like Kabush, Woodruff, and Shepherd all were able to squeeze up to the front of the race due to an opening on the right side. Once all of us got situated we looked forward and all we could see is a stack of hay bales covering a few signs in the first corner that wasn’t any farther than 100 feet. I look bad to 3 of the top pros staring back at me hoping to go I had a quick start and was able to avoid the “wall of hay” ahead of us. I looked down at the road pedals I put on my MTB bike and gave them a look that said “my bad”.

The start gun went off and I started somewhat fast for having road pedals and 90 feet later we had 80 pros sliding and leaning on one another in the first corner, just hoping everyone would keep it up right. This lead us into the climb which involved 100+ meters straight up , 10 meters of flat right hand corner, then another 100 meter climb before we turned once more and descended to the finish. My first lap was stellar considering I was top 20 and feeling fast. Then I hit the climb again going at maybe ⅔ the speed due to the solid rock that was in my stomach that I wasn’t sure if it was the Mexican food from earlier or a scene for the movie Alien and the crowd was about to witness a alien ripping out of me. From here I lost a good 4 spots a lap until I was pulled with 3 to go. Not exactly the way I wanted to start the weekend but hey, at least I was able to open my legs up and at least was able to know my legs were ready from the hell of a race that was sure to be upon us on Sunday. Now it's time for recovery and some food!but I think I will stay away from Mexican food.