Monday, June 30, 2014

Sweat Shaker 2014, first time for everything

What started as a car load ended with a loner and his bike driving north from Allegan County at 5:40am on Saturday Morning. It's okay though....I enjoy 2.5 hours of alone time.....and I pretty much was. Once I got to US-131 I set the cruise and never touched a pedal again until the S-curve in Grand rapids. NICE! All I was doing was thinking about my strategy on a course I have never ridden before. Don't start fast....Don't repeat the State Games race. Just find the guys in your class and hold on to the lead pack. Simple.

I got there early enough that I kitted up and rode the first part of the trail, just to get an idea. If I had to describe it in one word....bumpy. Niel S. came out of nowhere and we talked for a bit and eventually turned out onto the road and headed back to the starting area. I didn't have any teammates there, but I did see quite a few friends. That always makes me relax when I can talk bikes and just see people I know.

So....10 am start. Jordan, Matt and the rest of the fast guys tore off the line like freaking rocket ships. I chatted with Tom S. while we waited for our start....then it was go time. The Sport Clydes lined up with Sport Men 60+ and the Fat it was kind of hard to determine who was in my class or on a fat bike. I just knew there were at least 6 of us. The start was pavement and pretty I marked two guys in my class and jumped on one of their wheels. Another guy rocketed past me but he was on a fat bike so I let him go. As we hit the singletrack I was confident I was in the top 3. It got really congested as the trail closed in around us. After a mile or two and a lot of people passing from the classes behind things started to settle down a bit and I was riding alone. Then about 5 miles in I got passed by a guy in my class. So....either 3rd or 4th at that point. Keep plugging on.

The first lap was rough because I didn't know the course. I came through and started my second lap. I was feeling pretty good and I was still thinking I was top 5 in my class at the worst. I was alone though. Nobody passing...nobody to pass. I did about mow over a rider that was coming the other way down the trail, just out for a ride. I was more surprised than she was...and she was very apologetic...but she didn't slow me down at all. I was flowing pretty good now. Comfortable. Punchy problem. Tight and problem.

With about 5 miles to go I caught the glimpse of a jersey. Hmm....that guy might be in my class. I got another spark....and started to reel him in. This is something new for it took me a while. I passed him with about 2 miles to go and left him in my dust! Then I started to think....none of the Elites have caught me yet......and then it happened. With about 1/2 mile to go I hear a voice....never heard his bike....but it was Jordan. He shot past and I was thinking...sweet....I will get to finish with him. That thought was short lived as he disappeared as quickly as he rode up behind me. Fast is an understatement.

So I ripped across the finish line and figured I was maybe 2nd or 3rd....but I really didn't know. I asked for the results and the promoter told me I would have to wait and it would be a surprise. lol. Well ok then....let the suspense build a little. Subway got there and I picked a spot at the table with a few other sport clydes and waited for the awards. Down the lists they went until they got my class.

"And in Sport Clyde....our third place finisher is.....Sean Evans"  

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I have never finished higher than 6th place in a Sport race and that was only because there was only 6 of us...and that was the Sunday before at the State Games race. SO.......I got a freaking medal. So stoked because I really didn't have any idea where I finished. I could have been DFL for all I knew....I was just hoping that I was top 5....and I hit the podium! So....naturally......the question was how many people were in my class.....8. HOLY COW....I RACED AND BEAT 5 PEOPLE.

If you follow along at all you know the bike in the above pic is not my Epic. It is indeed the bike I raced at Yankee with the original wheels....and it now belongs to me! FREAKING LOVE IT. I will do a review on it this week....because I think it deserves one.

So here is my awesome bronze medal. They didn't have a podium to stand we collected our medals and sat back down. No worries....didn't want to put that nasty sweaty thing back on. HA.

Below is a pic of the official results.

So.....A huge shout out to Dan from Custer Cyclery for setting up the Trance for me on a moments notice. I actually picked it up from his house around 9 pm on Friday night. A huge thanks to my loan officer too.....or I would not have been on the trance. lol. It was a fun day for sure!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

State Games of Michigan Recap

I did the first edition of this race a few years ago. I do like riding at Cannonsburg Ski area but racing is a different story. Knowing the course is always helpful, so I did head up the Sunday before the race to get a feel for the terrain again. The bad part was that the race course was different than what I rode....but....I still got an idea of what I was up against.

The worst part of racing at a ski area is that I know there will be climbing. This course starts off right uphill before it throws all different terrain at you. There were 6 sport clydes lined up when the started said "go" and off we went. There was a river running across the course right here so we just plowed through it. Ted (freewheeler on the left) pulled a sweet wheelie to get us started.
Photo credit: Jack H Kunnen
Go...go....go....up the freaking hill we go. I took off like a rocket. 2nd place into the singletrack and the start of the first climb. I felt like I had a bigger lead than the picture below shows, but hey...I will take what I can get. I was in second place to the top of the climb and then the inevitable body gave the big thumbs down. I have talked all year about starting too fast and how I don't like to do it because I always blow myself up. I had not done it this year at all. I did start fast at both Yankee and Custer but I was able to calm myself back down and find a rhythm. Unfortunately that was no the case on this Sunday.

Photo courtesy of John Oppenhuizen

I thought I was doing okay but I just coudln't get my breathing under control and the other 4 guys in my class passed me. Heart pounding I pressed on and came around my first of three laps. Brian started after me and caught me towards the end of the first lap. Here he is on his fatbike blasting the water crossing heading into his second lap.
Photo courtesy of John Oppenhuizen

 I had a solid first lap all things considered.....I survived....and was going to attempt to reel the group in. The problem was....right after this picture was taken is that damn climb that about killed me the first lap. The second lap was different....the hill was much slower and I was struggling even more. I was ready to mail it in. I slowed down and focused on my breathing. By now nearly everyone had passed me and I was riding alone.
Photo courtesy of John Oppenhuizen
I came around for my last lap and was determined to have a faster lap time. I had managed to gather my thoughts and when the time came for that climb I was ready. I dropped into my small chain ring and just spun the pedals until I reached the top. Having my breathing under control I was able to ride that last lap faster. Plus, I didn't have anyone passing me so I could concentrate on just riding and having fun instead of worrying about holding people up. I finally manged to hit some semblance of a rhythm and turned in a decent last lap. Best beginners caught me. Worst part.....I did have the slowest finishing time for any Sport class rider. HA. DFL. Hey....I finished a race that I was struggling with. I proved that I am not a fast starter. I proved that I can regain composure and ride faster the longer the race went on. I will take the 6th place finish first top 10 in Sport. Earned.

My team had a great showing too! Lisa took 2nd, Mark 3rd, Brian 4th and Jay with a 12th. Fun day at the ski area....on bikes!!!!

Next up....Sweat Shaker. 20 miles of fun at Mid-Michigan Community College where I have never ridden before. Should be interesting!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Been a while

So...where to start?

Um.....had a pretty tremendous crash a few weeks ago. My Epic was still in pieces so Dan loaned me his 616 fatbike for a rip around Fort Custer. Well.....I made it about 2.5 miles before I clipped a stump and got dumped into a pile. In a moment of honesty......I didn't clip the stump.....I full on jacked it with my right pedal and got shit onto the ground like a rocket. Not only did I crash one of Dan's bikes....I took Dan out too. He was on my wheel and when I went crashed he was right there for support.....or maybe I was....because he landed on me. So.....I had a terrible walk of shame out of the woods. Other than partially separating my shoulder the bike was fine. Dan survived with a bruised knee. Thankfully I got my shoulder to feel better in about a day because I used to injure it that way when I played baseball. No harm done.

Finally got the Epic re-assembled last Saturday. Dan and I went for a ride before heading to the shop for the day. I was super rusty on the bike. First....I was tentative because of the crash the week before. Second....I had not ridden that bike in over a month. Third, my last MTB ride (besides the crash) was on a borrowed bike at the Yankee Springs time trail. I was glad to be back on the Epic.....just rusty.

The next day was Father's Day. I got up early and headed to Cannonsburg Ski Area. The State Games race is June 22nd and I wanted to get familiar with the course again. I felt awful when I got there. Just tired and suffering from allergies. The worst part of this trail is the first climb. This ride was no different....I started up the hill and felt like I was going to die by the time I reached the top....OF THE FIRST CLIMB. Thankfully the rest of the trail isn't bad and I was able to get 3 solid laps in before heading home and hanging out with the family.

So.....State Games on Sunday. Sweat Shaker the following Saturday. Super busy as usual. 245.5 pounds. Hanging in there.

Monday, June 2, 2014

First Half Century of the year

I was able to get out last Monday night for a solid as a solid ride. My average speed dropped over a full mile per hour when my brain quit. Totally checked out.....couldn't give up though......and I was able to get home. Yuk. But.....still some mileage.....

So.....this past weekend was my girls' dance recital on Sunday. They had rehearsal on Saturday and Izzy had her last soccer game. I took her to the game and watched her team dominate. She even scored a goal!!!! Chelle had the other girls at the rehearsal. After soccer we were running around helping at the rehearsal and then set up for the remainder of the dance pics. Done....dinner....9pm. Permission to sit.

I set my alarm for 7 am so I could go for a longer road ride Sunday morning. I didn't end up leaving the house until almost 9 because I just didn't want to get out of bed. Fueled up and out the door. Sun was shining and it was about 70 degrees. In my head I was thinking 50 miles. I just kept going and going and going. Eventually the road ran out....which meant I was at Lake Michigan. I turned south and headed toward 109th street. I was feeling pretty good, but I was also riding into a headwind for quite a while. When I turned south the wind was worse. I just soldiered on. I saw a few other cyclists and waved to each of them. Each of them waved back. Great day to be on the bike.

I made the turn back East to head home and it felt like the wind changed. I would guess that I was just running out of gas because I could feel the gusts still....even though it felt like it was constant. ha.

I chugged the whole way home and ended up just over 50 miles for my longest ride of the year. Good start to June.