Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Carpenter wins State Championship on his SISU FF1

Tom Carpenter riding for Culver's Racing, won the Road CAT4 State Championship last weekend on a SISU FF1. Congrats Tom! Thanks goes to Chris Schmidt (XMATIC) for the photos.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lumberjack 100-Wellston, Michigan

Racers often look at me strangely when I say the Lumberjack 100 is my favorite cycling event. Granted, I haven’t raced outside of the state of Michigan and I am relatively new to it all. Still, though the Big M course is, according to ninth place finisher Garth Prosser, a trail that a beginner could ride, at what other Michigan races can I line up with heavies like Eatough, reigning champ Jeff Schalk, and local heroes like Tanguy, Simonson, Musto, and Graham?

Anna and I finished loading up the diesel wagon and drove across town to pick up Cyclefit and rider Jeff Zimmerman. Jeff is more experienced with 100 milers than I am, having suffered through the mudfest the NUE season has been thus far, but this was his first LJ. We talked a lot about nutrition on the ride, as this, not the mileage, has been the real crux for me. How does one avoid “feeling bad” for a lap or part of a lap? This has been my question for a year since having a horrific second lap at the ’09 event. We were determined to have a good breakfast with pre-made (Chef Jeff) French Toast, eggs, and good coffee..

Pre-race business taken care of, we suited up and tried to warm up on the two mile paved stretch that would be the roll out. My goal was to be into the singletrack in the top twenty so that I could avoid first-lap traffic. I locked out the new Reba and the race was on; the pace on the pavement was faster than I remembered, probably due to a course change. In previous years, the start dumped riders onto singletrack, then smacked you in the face with a nasty, sandy hill. This year, we were headed straight onto singletrack and people wanted…to get there…first!

Despite my efforts, once in the singletrack I was still riding in traffic and every time I hit my brakes I grew impatient. At first I told myself the old “it’s a long race, relax,” but that lasted about five minutes before I stood on a few hills and made some aggressive passing moves to clear some space. I settled in with Joe Slonecki from the Farm Team (who I keep hassling for New Holland samples) and we pushed a comfortable pace until he simply rode away from me two-thirds of the way into the lap. Unlike most riders I saw, I stopped at the aid station for a bottle of Heed, hoping it would pay off later in the race. On the first lap, 33 miles, I had three bottles of Heed, five Endurolytes, and a bar. Back at the transition area, I slammed down a yogurt, some pedialyte, some water and tore off for lap 2 after Jeff rolled into our pit about a minute behind.

The Hogsback was absolutely flying on this bumpy course and the Crossmarks bit nicely on the laser fast cornering. Already, though, I could feel my saddle starting to chew into the skin under my sit bones, and I knew that I was in for some pain. I forgot to butter up at the next pit! I would pay for that for the next week every time I tried to sit down. Later in the race, I had to stand just to relieve the pain. Put this on the list of things to change next year. Saddle? Butter? Endurance pad? Check.

I left the pit already concerned that lap one took too much out of me, but I pushed on, trying to take care of salt and nutrition. About ten miles in, I started losing power, going backwards fast. I tried to stay positive as rider after rider passed, just hoping to make it to the aid station. The spirit of the aid workers definitely was a lift as they filled my bottle, pointed to food, and chatted about the race. Several were admiring my bike, asking about this Sisu thing (the word “beautiful” was implemented). I told the Matt Palomaki/Sisu Cycles story, abbreviated, between bites of PBJ and banana. Slightly revived but with better attitude, I rolled on, taking a mouthful of Heed every few minutes to keep a trickle of calories coming. I hit the dirt road section hard, ate some more, and then hit the last five miles feeling better than I had all lap. I walked some of the last hills, knowing I need to save my cramping-yes, cramping in the second lap-right hamstring some of the damage. I rolled into the pit with a slower second lap of 2:42. The second lap pit was faster than my first, armed as I now was with the knowledge that the aid station was not terribly far away. I didn’t feel great, but had a good feeling that I was recovering a bit for the third lap.

People debate about the mental strain of a 33 mile lap versus a 100 mile loop. I can’t really speak on that, given that LJ is my only 100 miler, but I will testify that ticking off each major hill for the last time of the race is, in itself, a major lift! Early in the third lap, a young guy rolled by. I looked/smelled/sounded so bad that he was concerned! I turned down his offer of a gel, didn’t need it, but thanks, and hope to see you later. Five miles into the last lap, I started to feel good, really good, and I started pulling people in, including gel guy. Guys who looked so strong 10, 20, 40 miles ago were completely shattered. Attitudes change this far in, and for the first time in hours, I felt like, well, the hunter rather than hunted, but how to keep that feeling going?

I rolled into the aid station and went again for PBJ, bananas, heed, and the real prize, two cups of cold Coca-Cola. Hurting, but amped-up and with 18 miles to go, I was determined to finish strong. I also had thoughts similar to single-speeder Wayne Cook (Frasier Bikes) who wailed, laughing “Why do I do this?” At this point, there was a lot of lapped traffic on the course; I loved the determination on the faces I saw. It was really inspiring to see these riders pouring their guts out, going way beyond their limits, writing their own LJ stories, and the emotion pushed me even deeper into my reserves.

When I hit the dirt roads late in the third lap, I felt someone on my wheel and hoped that he would come through for a pull. It was a masters rider, and he apologized that he couldn’t do work. Told him I would do the best I could. I ate another bar and put my head down, all thoughts of saving anything put to rest. It was all out until the finish. I pulled him for a few more minutes in the singletrack until I started to ride away. It was another emotional lift when he thanked me and urged me to ride strong; he probably helped me more than I him.

After the brutal hills and blistering bench-cuts of the last six miles, I got stuck behind a single-speeder who was just behind another geared rider. I stood and sprinted past the single, but had waited too long to gain another spot. I rolled through the finish chute 29th in a time of 8:05:54. I was disappointed to have lost spots (my goal was top 20) from my finish last year, but I still cut 50 minutes from last year’s time. Anna was there at the finish to help me get myself together. Jeff had some struggles on his second lap, but had a strong finish of 8:31. He’s now sitting top ten in the series standings and is planning to challenge Schalk for the title with a strong second half.

My splits:
1- 2:30:11 2:30:11
2- 2:42:31 5:12:413
3- 2:53:14 8:05:54

Thanks again to Matt Palomaki of Sisu Cycles for getting me some suspension and for building a really hot 29er! Thanks to Mike and Kay for the excellent lodging and Anna and Jeff for the great weekend. Great job Rick Plite and crew. It’s still my favorite race!
Sunday Anna, Jeff, and I did a thirty mile recovery ride on M-22 with a burger stop at the Blue Slipper in Onekamah. It was an utterly perfect blue sky day with minimal wind; even though the silver-dollar sized lesions on my butt were killing me, I had good company and world-class Great Lakes coast cycling.

P.S. Sorry about the lack of pictures--dead battery. Full results here: LJ results

Monday, June 28, 2010

More guts than brains

That's what was on my mind during this entire weekend during my most important mid-season race. This year's Superior Bike Fest saw the worst weather it's seen in most years of its existence. Every day brought a different weather challenge or surprise. It made planning and getting ready for races tough and racing even more tough.

Friday night at the Twilight Criterium I experience my very first crit on wet roads. I was pretty nervous going into the race and was almost late for the start because my computer time is 5-10 minutes off from other clocks. I had just barely finished my warm-up and took one or two quick laps of the new course, got my timing chip and lined up at the start/finish line. The whistle blew and we were off.

The roads were gross, water and sand being thrown up in your face isn't exactly a pleasant way to race but that's part of what our team is all about. GUTS! I launched a breakaway only a few laps into the race to mix things up, with no hopes of staying away but as a gap emerged I got some hope. Another person attempted a bridge and after sitting on his wheel to recover for a lap I got back on the front and let us drift back to the pack. After that my legs were slightly tired, it was a good shock to the system and I felt ready and relaxed, extremely focused on my goal: another sprint victory. I sat in while Jesse sat on the front chasing down every breakaway that went off the front. He crushed everyone's dreams that tried to get off the front, he said he felt "superhuman" throughout the race. After all his hard work I positioned myself for a sprint to start on Front Street and someone attacked just before I had planned and I jumped with them. I came around the final corner in 4th or 5th and worked my way all the way to a solid second place. It was so close, as you can see in the photo above. This was a great start to my ultimate goal for the weekend: a podium finish in the omnium.

Saturday was a totally different story about domination. The road race was dominated by a nine man squad from Hagerty after breaks were launched as we went through Gwinn. The break contained a person from every team but SISU. I was sitting in and recovering from trying to chase the initial break and was doing the same thing just before the gap was bridged by every other team not represented. The break crushed some of my aspirations for a well executed uphill sprint finish. Weather left me tired, disoriented, and discouraged. Hagerty managed to block the group for over 30 miles to allow the break to finish six minutes ahead of us. I had perfect positioning though coming into the finish to sprint from 200m out until somone went at 300m to go. Since I didn't get in the break I really wanted the field win, but the person that took it was flying when they went by me and there was no hope. My legs blew up, cramping with only about 50m to go as a good chunk of the field cruised by. I had nothing left. I knew I had given that day my whole effort, I wasn't overly pleased with my result but in retrospect I know Jesse and I both did a ton of work on the front in hopes of getting closer to the break. I was a tired boy after the long day in the saddle.

Saturday night was fun, I got to hang out with the team: Palo, Justin Koski, Josh McCreedy, Jesse Bell. We went to L'Attitude for dinner and ended up staying and talking about racing and life. I had a lot of fun. It was great to meet Justin and Josh for the first time, you both need road bikes though! After we decided to bounce from L'Attitude, Jesse had raved about the Wild Rover's Chicken Pot Pie, so Jesse, Josh and myself all headed up to the Rover for a second dinner just before they stopped serving. All three of us smashed our own large pot pie which usually takes two people to eat. It was awesome, we hung out and shared more racing and life stories including my own story of how I got into cycling.

For the second night in a row I stayed up late cleaning my bike from the nasty conditions over the weekend. My powertap had also quit sending data but after a battery replacement at midnight it was back to normal for the race in the morning.

Both Jesse and I woke up SUPER early for our race that we thought was at 9am, come to find out it was at 11:25. So after I woke up at 6:30 and double checked the times I went back to sleep for a good 1.5-2 hours. The first time I woke up I felt sick and exhausted but after the second time I felt refreshed and ready for the day. Sunday was a circuit race around Presque Isle in Marquette. This is about a 2 mile lap done in reverse from the direction of normal traffic flow, going up a good steep power climb followed by a long fast downhill to a sharp right hand 90 degree turn that's narrower than the one lane road around the rest of the island.

Jesse was a beast another day in a row for me again. He controlled the race for us, chasing breaks and setting the past for about 70% of the entire race. I simply sat in waiting for the last lap with the fast downhill before the finishing straights. I was about 6th wheel in the sharp corner which was followed by a flat then another right hand corner, another straight and another corner then the finishing straight which was pretty short. I made up one position before the final corner and just edged out 5th place with a stretching finish bike reach for a fourth place.

I owe much of my success to my teammate Jesse, without you this weekend would have a completely different story. You saved my butt on more than just a couple occasions. My strength is not the individual pursuit and to have a teammate as strong as you is very valuable in races such as this weekend where everyone is out to beat the home teams. Jesse asked me after every race if there was anything I wish he would've done differently and he had done everything I asked of him and we got very close to the results we wanted for the weekend. I couldn't have asked of any more from just him.

I had a great weekend, a second and a fourth gave me some good cash prizes and some valuable upgrade points. I ended up fourth in the omnium for the weekend, just out of a podium spot which was one of my goals but after the events of Saturday it was almost impossible without a guaranteed win on Sunday and others that were strong doing really bad. I'm very happy with my form, my sprint power numbers are continuing to climb. It's exciting to look at the computer and see a new, higher number and be able to say "yup, today was a good day!" I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses and I'm still analyzing power data to see what I could have done differently.

It's now time for a hard week of training and preparation for heading off to SuperWeek in IL/WI where I will be doing 11 race days over the course of two weeks. Stay posted as there will be possible training updates between now and then as well as continuous updates throughout the SuperWeek tour.

Thanks again to my team, Matt, all of our sponsors, and all of you who came out to support me over the course of the weekend. All you've done for me means the world to me and I'm enjoying this year of cycling more than any others in the past!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Torn and tattered

This weekend was full of fun and surprises. The fun started in Thiensville, a groovy suburb of Milwaukee that was host to on of the best four corner crits I've ever done.

The course was a perfect rectangle. The corners were challenging and the heat was impeccable. It had to be upwards of 90 degrees and humid as a Finlander's sauna. I had fun, didn't really feel very "ramped up" for this crit due to my training plan not fitting perfectly but the race provided a good way to get in the racing groove again in preparation for Saturday's race in Grafton. I pulled out a solid 25th place in Thiensville, nothing special but I was happy to finish given the heat and due to some rather sketchy riders.

Saturday was Grafton, a six corner course with 2 gradual rises and a 250 meter finish stretch. This was my course. Sadly a break-away got off the front and even though I did do some work on the front, we were not able to pull it back. I couldn't do it alone. I sat in the rest of the race, trying to put the cards back in my favor slightly. In the midst of all the action I wrapped myself into a pretty gnarly wipe-out. Someone's powertap computer fell of just ahead of me, unannounced to me and with a one in a million chance I hit it with my weight over the bars and flew over the handlebars in a bloody heap. I was wearing my brand new kit, let's just say it's only use now is for cross season, if that. This happened with about 12 laps to go so I hurried over to neutral support and got the bike checked out. Only the brake levers were scratched up a bit and had. The bike looked good, my adrenaline was pumping and I wanted back in. I took my free lap, got a big push to get back in with the group as they approached the wheel pit and jumped right back into the action.

I felt super strong at this point, as I said, my adrenaline was pumping it was my kind of course and I simply just wanted to go. I decided it better for me to sit in and wait for the final laps. The break kept getting further away and it became hopeless to catch them and so it was every man for himself to duke out the field sprint. The final lap came and on the third straight the guy sitting in around sixth wheel just face planted creating a domino effect crash, piling up 10-15 riders. Luckily I was just behind some of the last guys tangled up in it, swung way wide of it all and got in on 5th or 6th wheel. I sat in until the finish stretch where everyone in front of me simply sat on their butt and hard pedaled. I swung out, looked at them as I went by and captured yet another field sprint, good enough for 5th place overall. Solid day.

I woke up Sunday in rough shape, my body was sore and I was tired because I was up late taking care of my road rash. My aunt was planning on coming down for the race as she lives in Green Bay and the race was in Appleton. I couldn't bring myself to call her and say I wasn't racing so I got out on the bike before making a final decision to make sure my power wasn't lacking and that I could turn the pedals in a good circle. I felt pretty decent once I got on the bike and decided it was go time, packed up the truck, ate some breakfast and headed North for Appleton.

It was great to have my aunt there, she said "hi" right at the start before the gun went off which was great because I had almost lost hope of seeing her by the time the race was about to start. She brought her camera and is who I owe credit to for the pictures in this entry.

I went out with no expectations since I was still a hurtin' unit and I knew I had more important things this next weekend, SBF. I didn't take any risks, went out and won my first prime lap ever for 20 bucks cash, and brought in a 19th place finish. I was pleased with the result given the condition of my body. I got in bad position for the last 3 laps and didn't feel like taking any risks as I had been banged up enough for one weekend, let alone the whole summer.

I'm pretty pleased with my fitness level, I didn't feel too fatigued at all after the weekend. My body is taking the crash pretty well. I've got road rash on my right shoulder, elbow, hip and lower leg as well as my left knee. My hip is bruised as well as that was the first thing to hit. Sadly I destroyed my brand new skinsuit after just 2 days of racing, blowing out the right shoulder and hip.

All in all it was a great weekend, The Tour of America's Dairyland is a great series even in only its second year of existence. If you haven't heard of it, get familiar because it is, I'm sure, about to become the best series of racing in the midwest. Last year the pro fields were only reaching about 90 riders where this year they have been over 100 and pushed 150 in Grafton. If the pros are going, you should too!

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Website LAUNCHED!

Well, its been a while since I've gotten a chance to update the website... After many failed attempts to redesign I decided to outsource the job to Anne Anderson at 360 Imagery in Green Bay. Turns out to be one of the better decisions I've made in a while. I have to give all the credit to Anne as she is truely great at what she does.

The framework is complete, however, I do need to finish some verbage and add pics to some of the pages. This will be a work in progress as I continue to take professional photos of each model.

Please check out the new site and let me know what you think. I'll appreciate your feedback:-)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pleasantly Surprised!

I went into this weekend with absolutely no expectations. This weekend's race in Mt. Pleasant isn't very high on my priority list, and with Superior Bike Fest and Tour of America's Dairyland coming up I didn't have any goals but to hang in there and test myself in the second half of each race. Saturday was a crit, a 60 minute torture fest in the blazing heat and Sunday was a road race in slightly cooler weather.

As I said it was slightly warm on Saturday and it's been pretty cool weather up north lately and we've been cursed with quite a bit of rain. This made for some chilly June riding and made for a pretty big shock to the system when I set out for the race. I managed to hang with the group throughout the race, take a few pulls, one big one and a couple small ones. I felt pretty crappy throughout the day and as I had no expectations I felt no need to hound down the lone breakaway from Priority Health that ended up winning the race. The rest of the group came in for a group sprint and I got caught behind a crash in the last corner leaving me in chase mode down the final stretch and putting me in at 18th place. I was happy to finish in the hot weather, especially given the length of the crit.

I woke up Sunday feeling pretty good, not too sore, just slightly fatigued. I walked down to get some ice for water before having breakfast and remember thinking to myself of how I lost this race last year and how I could win it this year. My training plan, though, was to take it easy for the first half and then test myself during the second half. I did just that, and without spoiling the result it all worked out well!

The whistle blew and we were off, we were in for a flat 46 journey. Less than 300m into the race, a guy from the Wolverine squad blasted off the front at over 30mph and the group began to chase as he TT'd away from us! We were off to a FAST start, after catching the single rider we all laid the hammer down and averaged 30+ mph for the first 10 miles, kept that average over 27 mph at the halfway point and after the race we had dropped to an avg. of 26ish. It was a fast day. Alexi Vermulen made many attempts to get off the front as it is one of his only chances of winning a race. In the second half of the race I made it my goal to cover his every move, getting in any break he launched or working to catch a break he was attempting to make.

I felt extremely strong while doing any work at the front and also when I got in the two biggest breaks that occurred over the course of the day. Sad thing was that once the breaks were established, no one wanted to do any work and they quickly fizzled out. The group was chasing hard all day. It felt good to get that experience and do some solid work, but coming into the last 10k I was getting pretty tired. Between seven and five kilometers to go I decided to get off the front and lay low for a bit. Alexi kept attacking as it was his only hope to get off the front in a break and win solo. The group still covered his every move and it came down to a sprint finish out of the last corner with 1km to go!

I was in great position coming out of the corner, we made it through without any crashes which was a relief and it was a straight shot to the finish. It was slightly downhill for the first 400m, flat over a set of railroad tracks then uphill for about 100-200m and perfectly flat for the last 200m. The tracks were really rough and I bunnyhopped over them smoothly but by now I was slightly boxed in. Luckily a gap opened up on the hill on the right side. I saw the opportunity, drafted off everyone up the hill and just as it flattened out I flew around the group seeing nothing but 200-300m of open road, the start/finish banner hanging over the road like a sandwich hung in front of a fat kids face. I was all alone and I was on my horse. I shifted up one last time, laying the hammer down, checking under my arms while in the drops in hopes that no one from the group behind me would come blazing by. I couldn't see anyone and finally I saw the pink line, the finish, I had done it! I crossed the line 2 or more bike lengths ahead of the group. I threw my hands in the air after the finish, pumped my fists and couldn't stop screaming, "YES, YES, YES!!!"

I had done it, not Jesse Bell, who I was mistaken for as I crossed the line. Apparently my 5'9" inch body frame decided to enlarge as I crossed the line and I was first announced as "Jesse Bell from SISU Cycles, number 321, wait, that was Chris Lynch from SISU Cycles all the way from Marquette, MI!" It was a comical mistake.

I was SO stoked to have my FIRST victory as a Cat 3. I gained even more confidence from this result. It was so much fun to go out without any expectations, have fun, test my body, do some work, and then come out and win it. After all that, it was so much more rewarding and I will cherish this victory for quite some time.

Here is the final pic, about 100 ft. from the finish leading them all in.

I'd like to thank Matt for the amazing bike he put together for me. It's really proving itself in the sprint which is an area it hasn't been fully proven before. The bike is AWESOME and I can't even count the number of compliments I got on it this weekend. I'd also like to thank Rudy Project for my sweet shades and Border Grill as our sponsor and my employer for being supportive and understanding of my busy race schedule and as always, thanks to Sarah who is always there cheering me on and as my trusty support crew.

8 Hours at Cannonsburg

I had intended to do some mellow, long rides over the weekend, but ended up joining Zimmerman and Sweeney for an elite four person team. This style of endurance event was new to me, as was the course, but these guys have the right attitude and I wasn't worried.

Jeff took the first 5.25 lap and blazed off in the humidity. I suited up, did a couple of laps in the parking lot, grabbed some water, went to do a final warmup in the lot...and missed Jeff coming through the exchange. According to Dave, Jeff's face was priceless as he exclaimed, "I'm cooked" and headed out for another fast lap. A rather inauspicious start to my team endurance career, but they didn't razz me too badly. Knowing these guys, that will come later.

I was lucky enough to join two tents full of racers: teachers, bike shop owners, engineers, and Internet Ebay magnates. Due to the heat, I drank about four gallons of Heed, and spent a lot of the day blinking the stinging sweat out of my eyes. Do a lap, wait 50 minutes, lap, and repeat. The first five minutes of every lap was misery and then the rest was fast, swooping singletrack bliss. The tent scene was great; everyone has a nickname and no one got by without some form of harassment and/or encouragement.

We ended up winning the elite category and won back our race entry plus...ten dollars! There was only one other elite team and the race was pretty much decided in the first few laps. Overall, it was a great, ultra laid-back atmosphere. Brent Walk's crew has it together and puts on a good event with the best prizes I've seen-cool bags, umbrellas, and other durable, practical goods.

I did just under three hours of hard riding and followed it up with a 11 mile recovery ride yesterday. Now it's a new cassette to go with the chain and XTR Shadow. Thanks! Bring on Lumberjack! I'm ready to suffer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hanson Hills XC

After checking the weather 100 times on Saturday, I decided to go to Grayling, regardless of weather, for the Hanson Hills CPS race. Fun Promotions had a great course laid out on what is one of my favorite lower Michigan trails. If you’re ever camping at Higgins Lake or travelling I-75, be sure to stop by for a couple laps; it’s only ten minutes from the expressway. The trail has plenty of climbing to start, but once you are in the hills, it is fast, flowing, and fun. Lean into the curves, stay off the brakes, and be sure to drop a couple bucks in the pipe for the trail!

Thanks to the Mohican 100 (three Michigan guys in the top five!)and the rainy conditions, the fields were a bit smaller than expected. I did a six mile warm-up with a few leg openers, and then lined up with 17 Expert 30-39 riders for the usual pre-race banter, teasing the race director about his sexy, knee-length “poncho,” and anything else to take the mind off the suffering to come. In past races, I’ve lined up anywhere, but on this day, I grabbed a front row spot, aiming for a top place going into the beginning hilly singletrack.

Dave Sweeney grabbed the hole shot and I did my best to hold his wheel. I’m not sure if it was the 26 miles on Saturday or the remnants of a cold, but I was struggling on the first lap. My mind went back to a ride ten years ago in the Hogbacks (Genessee County) when my buddy Erik and I gave Dave a tour. He was the first racer I knew, and the “tour” ended up being us hammering our brains out to keep up with Sweeney on his single speed. The memory was timely as that’s what the group of us ended up doing during this race.

Chasing the escaping leader, a group of us formed: Frascarosi, Thomas, Portenga, and myself. We tested each other on the first lap, but no one was strong enough to bridge the gap or break the others. I knew Thomas was strong; he blew by me at Yankee and handily won our age group, but the others were mystery men. We climbed the steep last hill of the 10.5 mile lap, blasted down the bumpy downhill (my downfall) to start the second lap. Anna gave me a cold bottle, I crushed a gel, and decided to try to bridge to Dave on the tough first hill section. The others hung tough and the only reward for my efforts was a couple glimpses of RBS yellow. I thought if I asked Dave to slow down, he might, but he only chuckled and steadily pulled away. After pulling the group for the entire second lap, they unceremoniously tried to drop me on the final hill. With a fresh bottle (thanks, Anna, best pit crew ever!) I grabbed the last wheel and did my best to recover for lap three.

Lap three was Thomas leading the charge up the hill, Frascarosi, yours truly, and Portenga, who either faded or crashed early in lap three and definitely crashed later in the lap. I expected Thomas to surge, but it was the Italian (?) on the Salsa that made the decisive move with five miles left in the race. Thomas and I were both fading and Portenga seemed to be slowly gaining after, I found out later, a crash that twisted his bars around. I caught two sticks in my derailleur that threw my shifting off, but took no time to stop. On the final kicker hill, I stood and returned the favor from lap two, dropping Thomas, but Portenga was right there. Quads locking, I sprinted a small two-track and dove for the final singletrack section in the money.

It was not to be. I slammed into my big ring for the chattery downhill finish, but lost my line and steered into the rough for just long enough to allow Portenga to cruise by, beating me to the line by a second. My bobble at the finish and loss of third place is disappointing; however, it was great fun testing and being tested by the good group of guys that formed for three laps.

Next up is the Lumberjack 100, June 19. I’m working with Matt to get a shock for the Hogsback so I can relax a bit more and just focus on turning the pedals for 100 miles of prime Michigan trail. This is my first LJ on my steel 29er, first with the Sisu kit, and with just a few more training rides to go, it's taking over my consciousness.