06 November, 2012

What I Did (or Didn’t Do) on My Summer Vacation

Well, it is pretty obvious that I haven’t been updating my blog much this summer.  I guess ‘at all’ would be a better description.  I was practically begged by all of my fan (not a typo) to do an update, several times.
In light of the Iceman race last weekend, and the anticipated end of year race report, I figured I would throw together a brief montage of the events leading up to that day.

Way back in June I finished up the Tour de Mount Pleasant with a couple of acceptable finishes, Cat.5 at least.  Afterwards I applied for my Cat.4 upgrade and was approved.  Some stated I should have remained in 5, other said I should have applied sooner.  Either way it wouldn’t really matter.
So to backtrack just a bit, in early June I accepted a new job in Ann Arbor and was biding my time at my current position.  The writing was on the wall there, I had not been happy for some time, began looking for a new position the previous summer.  So my days were filled with apathy, and my “Give a shit” was reaching record lows.

On June 23 was the Festival of the Sun Criterium.  This would be my first (and currently only) Cat.4 road race.  I went in unprepared, beginning my downward slide in training.  I rode a meek race, just hanging around the back of the pack, not sure I belonged and not feeling like I could hang.  Finished 17 of 25.
The next day I got on a plane bound for Florida.  A week off just basking in the sun, except Tropical Storm Debbie was in town, so it was pretty much a week spent inside.

The first week of July was my last week at my old job.  Time was spent going through files, clearing off desks, taking long lunches, and of course, a day off in the middle.  I started my new job on the 9th.  I was now spending 10+ hours a week commuting to and from work.  Basically all the hours I was spending on the bike I was now spending in the car.

Also we put our house up for sale, so the weekends were full of cleaning, decluttering, garage sales, and some home shopping (That is looking for new homes, not buying ugly sweaters off the TV).  In an effort to maximize savings I cleared off my racing schedule.  I kept the remaining USAC races as I had already paid, but many CPS and other races hit the chopping block.  Some of my favorite end of season (is this still mid-season) races were removed.  This made my schedule 17 races instead of the ~25 or so it would have been.

The 7th was the Stony Marathon. In proper form it was a hot one.  I showed up flat.  Took off fast and crawled across the line.  I couldn’t hang with Aryn as he caught and dropped me on lap 3.  I was grateful just to finish.

The 28th was the Tree Farm Relay.  I tried to put in some bike time leading up to this.  Not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t want to let down the team.  Plus I really didn’t want to be the slowest guy out there.  We had a decent showing, but some unavoidable issues left us off the podium.
I was able to return to my apathetic ways of non-training.

In the midst of selling, then not selling, then selling our house, and buying, then not buying, then trying to buy, then buying, then not buying a house, August was a busy time. 
We hit the road to Brighton on the 4th.  The course there is decent, the Murray Lake Loop.  We hung yet again with the motor club.  Again this was not my day.  I started fast, and cracked just as fast.  Coming out of the woods on my first lap, I saw Osgood and Lako headed back in.  It was going to be a long day.  I think Pongo caught me on lap 2 and drifted away.  I hung back, jaggedly pedaling squares and wondering how much I could sell my bike for.  I think on the final lap (maybe #3) I regained sight of Pongo in the start/finish area, and tried to put in a last effort to close the gap.  Unfortunately, my lack of training meant that as my legs were pumping harder, by reflexes suffered.  I went down in a corner and basically gave up after that, eventually limping across the line.

To wrap up the season, it was back to Stony one last time.  I would have to say this could be the only place considered my home course, as this would be my third trip out, including one 12 hour race.  I went in not caring how I did.  What did it matter anymore?  The plan was just to try to hang on with Aryn as long as I could.  No rabbit starts!  As I lined up on his wheel, the Tailwind folks did a call-up.  I think I was currently 4th in the series (due to a good showing at the stage race).  SO I moved to the front, with no intention of staying there.  We took off and stretched out early.  The first climb I usually work hard to stay in the lead.  This year I sat on Simon’s wheel and let people blow by.  I moved around Simon sometime on the first lap, and just kept riding along.  I would catch a glimpse of Aryn on occasion, and it would be enough to keep me working to stay ahead, but not enough to force things.  Second lap (of 4 I believe) was pretty uneventful.  I was still riding, passing some people, getting passed.  Literally “just riding along” that day.  I was actually feeling decent and glad to be on a bike.  On lap three I started to see some yellow shoes ahead of me.  Was I reeling in Osgood?  He must be having an off day, it happens.  I caught up to him and I don’t recall how long I sat on his wheel.  I know there was a climb at the end, and I made an effort to get by and tried to gap him.  I may have gotten a bit of distance, but he never let me go.  It was a group of 4, slightly stung out; me, Osgood, and 2 other racers from 40+.  I came through the pit area the last time and saw Aryn handing out bottles, a mechanical brought him down.

I really wanted to stay ahead of Johnny, and was kept checking to see if he was still back there.  He was.  JUST GIVE UP DAMMIT!  I “allowed” the 40+ guys to get in front of my, and worked to stay with them.  It worked well until the 2 track right before the finish.  At the right hander going towards the parking lot I saw a KLM jersey ahead, it was Lako.  One of the 40+ guys yelled “Look out Brad, here he comes.  I hadn’t anticipated closing that gap, but the guy yelling pissed me off and I made my move.  I threw down all I had to catch, and then pass Brad.  I had figured he would be right behind me through the finish and pushed across the line.  I barely made it over to a picnic table to collapse upon, my heart pounding, my lungs burning.  Probably the most intense effort of the year.  I had no idea where I finished, but I beat Lako and Osgood, and that would be fantastic on any day.  They were already joking around and I was still breathing like a hyperventilating asthmatic breathing through a snorkel.  In the end I somehow managed a 2nd place finish.  My best MTB finish of the year.  Probably due to the other guys winding down their seasons.

Nothing much here, a couple of trips to poto after work is all.

At the end of the month was the Burchfield TT.  This would be my actual home course.  I lived about 7 miles away.  I helped layout the initial course the previous year, but did more volunteering than racing then.  Because I knew I was moving to Howell the next weekend, I wanted to do this race.

The Motor Club made the trip out, and I raced as an honorary member.  We left the gates as numbers 3 through 5; I was bringing up the rear.  Since I prerode the course that morning to fix markers, I knew what to expect.  Stage 1: Tight and Twisty, this will favor Diesel.  Stage 2: Flat and open, m only shot.  Stage 3: Flow, Aryn will make a move.  I just tried to manage my losses through the first section.  Twisty and rooty is not my forte.  Next I put it all down through the rough fields, trying to close on Aryn.  I caught him before the bridge and was working hard to stay ahead.  So hard I began a bit of dry-heaving.  I never puked from a bike, but this was certainly close.  Still trying to push the pace (and being pushed) I slid out in one section and my bike blocked the trail, effectively stopping both Aryn and myself.  He got by me as I remounted, and I spent the rest of the course working to catch back up.  We came ripping across the line together.  Before results were posted, I was back out on course riding sweep for the MiSCA kids, but it ended being a Motor sweep of the podium.  Diesel got first, me second and that other guy third.  I was just second from getting the fasted time trophy, and if I didn’t wreck (on my home field) I would have.

Some more Poto.  No official training.

We made it to our luxurious apartment in Howell.  Barely room to store the bikes, let alone ride.  Season essentially over.  Motivation practically nil.

I sold my Peak to Peak entry because I didn’t want to spend the money on the only available condo at Crystal.  I guess I lucked out as conditions seemed pretty awful.

And that takes us to November, Iceman, turkey, and perhaps a new start for 2013…