Monday, June 10, 2013

All good things come to an end

For the past 10 seasons, I have been competing as a professional cyclist, or as some would say, living the dream. I turned professional in 2003 and focused my efforts on 24-Hr solo mountain bike racing.  During the early 2000's, 24-Hr racing was hitting it's pinnacle.  Chris Eatough was dominating the sport as myself and others tried repeatedly to de-thrown his amazing run of winning 7 World Solo Championships.

In 2005, while racing for the Cateye-Giant Team, I was sent to Italy to compete in their popular 24-Hours of   Finale race.  It's held in Finale-Liguri Italy (near the Italian Riviera).  This was my first attempt at racing oversees against the Europeans.  The biggest challenge was trying to communicate with riders during teh race. Occasionally, some of the Italians would help me with the language.  the course I raced on was quite different than what I was used to.  Most of the USA 24-hr courses are between 8-15 miles in length.  However, the course in Italy was 3 miles in length.  My initial thought if racing for 24-hrs on a 3-mile course was daunting, but once I previewed the course, I quickly realized that the 3 miles were not going to go by fast.  Each lap was approx. 20-30 min., still faster than most USA courses (45-60 min.).  

During 2006-2007 I had the privilege to race for Topeak-Ergon, a German-based team that was primarily focused on the XC World Cups (think Irena Kalentieva).  Ergon if you don't already know, is the inventor of the most ergonomical handlebar grips and backpacks.  They nearly revolutionized the bike market with their grips, especially for the ultra-endurance rider.  One of my most memorable experiences was the Team Training Camp held in Mallorca, Spain.  Known for it's beautiful weather and cycling, this tiny island was the prefect location for spending a week traveling to unique areas riding bikes and posing for the camera.  I even remember seeing the Pro Tour Cannondale team ride by our hotel decked out in the neon green kits.  One of my former US teammates, Jeff Kerkove continues to race for them.

In 2007, I had had enough of the ultra-endurance racing and turned my focus to 100 mile races (ok, I guess that is still ultra-endurance to some).  Racing for 7-9 hours seemed much more appealing than for 24 hours.  I had immediate success; as most 24-hr converts did.  The NUE Series was just getting started and gaining momentum as each year they were attracting more new venues to be a part of the Series.  To this day, my favorite 100 mile race is the Mohican 100 MTB race held in southern Ohio.

In 2008, I was approached by ProAir/HFA to be their mountain biking ambassador.  For the next 4 seasons I raced for ProAir/HFA, and there was also a sponsored elite road team based out of New Jersey .  During this time the majority of my races were held in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, or Arizona.  However, I also had the opportunity to travel to other countries and experience racing at a whole new level.  Competing in the Trans Portugal (Portugal) and El Reto del Quetzal (Guatemala) were very different venues compared to racing in the States.  One of the biggest barriers to manage was the language barrier.  trying to comprehend the rules that were explained during each night's dinner was a little confusing.  The Trans Portugal will always be my most memorable experience on a bike.  Traveling through the entire country in 9 days (north to south) and staying in some of the most unique and quaint hotels, while eating some amazing foods made for one hell of an experience.

The last few seasons of my career (2010-2012), I focused on multi-day stage races.  Both the Trans Portugal and El Reto races were stage race (50-100 miles each day).  Some of the other great races I competed in included Trans Sylvania (Pennsylvania), Breck Epic (Colorado) Trans Rockies, and Furious 3 - Fernie, BC.

The fact that I was able to race my bike and see parts of the world I know I would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise, gives me great pleasure in thanking all of my sponsors throughout my career.
Thank You!!!!!!!  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

New site

I will be posting very infrequently on this Blog, however, head over to my sports performance Blog, Elevated Sports Performance where I will be posting regularly.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MTB Marathon Nationals race report

Whew!  Now that was how a National Championship race should be...hard!

Other than the Whiskey Off-Road 50 race earlier this season, the US Marathon National Championship race boasted one of the strongest field of riders.   Names like Todd Wells, Adam Craig, Carl Decker, Barry Wicks, Alex Grant, etc. toed the start line to see who would take home the marathon stars and stripes jersey.

Adam Craig took top honors last season, but knew that in order to repeat his effort this season he would have to bring his "A" game.  The course this season was a much more difficult course than last year, consisting of 90% singletrack (mostly loose and soft sand) and over 6,000ft of climbing.  In addition to a tough course, we were also having to deal with the smoke in the air from the nearby forest fire.    Temperatures hovered in the mid 80's during the race, which made hydration critical to finish the 53 mile course.

Todd Wells took home the victory while local Bend riders Carl Decker and Adam Craig, and Barry Wicks finished 2nd and 3rd, and 4th respectively.

1st place - Todd Wells

2nd palce - Carl Decker

3rd place - Adam Craig

The race began and finished at the Wanoga Sno-Park.  Starting at 9am, there was a bit of cool air which helped to keep the body temp down.  This didn't last long, however, as the sun rose and quickly warmed up.      For the first 5 or 6 miles, we rode out on a fireroad (very dusty and loose) and the pace was insane initially but then settled down to a temp pace.  As we approached one of the first descents, the pace picked up, and I think it was Adam Craig doing the work.  This descent was very loose and extremely dusty, so much to the point where it was almost impossible to see the trail from the dust kicking up in from the rider in front of you. I was shortly behind and made sure to get in front of the rider close to me to be able to pick a good line.  

Shortly after the descent we had to do a short steep climb up a super sandy section.  Climbing up this section, there was one main line to ride on, if you tried to pass here, you would lose all momentum and zap lots of your energy trying.  We continued climbing as we entered the first singletrack section (Vista Butte) that would consist of many switchbacks.  After a few miles, we turned right and began to descend one of the more fun sections (Ridge Loop trail).  this brought us to the first Aid Station at mile 10.5.  I was roughly 13th at this point, and I could see 4 riders in front of me.

course markings

For the next 14 miles, it was all singletrack and would consist of lots of climbing (very steep in sections) and would bring us to the highest point on the course (nearly 7,000ft).  We climbed up Flagline Trail which starts off very sandy and loose and becomes rocky and technical (and more steep climbs).  This part of the trail is in dense forest, making for some remote riding.  I was riding with Nick Truitt, and Clinton Claasen.  Fellow Oregonian, Even Plews,  (who finished 9th) passed me at this point.  Finishing in the Top 10 at this race is impressive, nice job Evan!

Evan post-race with Mike Ripley (Oregon's best race promoter)

We worked our way down Flagline Trail to Dutchman Flats (Aid Station #2).  Jenny was handing me bottles in the Aid Station and she kept me going without losing my momentum.  From Aid #2 we rode some doubletrack and sort of back-tracked our way on trails we rode during the first 8 miles...more loose sand.  A couple short steep climbs would test the legs, and fortunately at this time, mine were still felling pretty good.  Then there was a 4 mile fireroad section before reaching the Dinah Moe Humm trail.

This section of singletrack really took a toll on my body.  It consisted of lots of switchbacks, steep climbs, and constant rough terrain.  My back was beginning to ache and I could start to finally feel the legs beginning to get tired.  I didn't have anyone in front of me that I could see to help keep me pushing, so at times I felt like I was letting up a little.  Then, fortunately, I caught up to Truitt again and it gave me an extra surge of energy, amazing how that works...mentally.  We passed another rider and eventually would catch up to 2 others before exiting this trail.  Another short fireroad section brought us to the final Aid Station #4 at Wanoga Sno-Park.

For the next 12 miles, the course consisted of some of the sweetest singletrack in Bend (Funner and Tiddlywinks trails).  Of course, these trails are "fun" when you have energy, so considering my legs were beginning to cramp and I was low on energy, I wouldn't necessarily say this last section was "fun".  The first 7 miles are rolling terrain and fast descents, with several technical rocky sections.  Then the final 5.5 miles are all climbing (more technical rocky sections).  This was certainly a challenge to see how much you had left in the tank.  I could feel my tank beginning to run out of gas.  Battling leg cramps, I pushed on as hard as I could passing 1 rider and also getting passed by another.

Sloane just after crossing the finish line - exhausted!

The final 1K to the finish was through the Wanoga Sno-park parking lot.  Crossing the line with a time of 4 hours and 7 minutes was good enough for 18th place.  My goal entering the race was to finish in the Top 15, so I wasn't too far off.  I know the other 5 or 6 riders in front of me where only a short distance ahead, so overall I am pretty happy with my result.

You can read the race report here...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

MTB Marathon Nationals Pre-Race

The US MTB Marathon Nationals race will take place in Bend, OR in less than 2 days.  If you have not yet seen who has registered for his event, you need to take a look.  This is merely going to be one of the toughest USA events this season on the mountain bike calendar.  Not only are the fastest US XC racers on hand, but some of the fastest ultra-endurance racers as well.  This will be a true test of who is faster.  Does the XC rider win or does the endurance rider?  Only time will tell, and if last year's performance is any indication, the XC rider has the edge (Adam Craig and Carl Decker were 1-2 at last years' race).  Here is the list of registered riders, it's a who's who of mountain biking.  The only 2 riders I don't see on the list that could make it even more impressive is Olymipian Sam Schultz, and Cannondale's Jeremiah Bishop.

start of last years race

The course for this years' National event will be much more challenging than last year.  In the previous version, there were many miles of pavement and fireroad.  This year, however, the course is 90% singletrack.  Most of the trails will occur near the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort at elevations of around 5800-6900ft.  Read the USA Cycling Report here.

My goal for this event is to finish in the Top 15 and a finishing time of around 3 hours 45 minutes.  The beginning of the course is going to be extremely dusty and very loose, so getting a good start is going to be somewhat critical.  The first 5-6 miles will be on fireroad/doubletrack, so there will be time to jocky for position, but once in the singletrack it will be difficult to pas as the trails are pretty narrow.  The course will also also include the popular Flagline Trail; which I've been told has not been used in a race except one other time back in the 80's.  The trail is only open for a few months (beginning August 15th) to protect elk calving grounds.  The trail is some of the best singletrack in Oregon, and should give out-of-state racers a taste of Central Oregon's best.  It's quite remote with views of Mt. Bachelor, and it's the half way point on the course, so it will certainly be the most fun part of the race.

The final 10 miles of the race will once again include Funner and Tiddlywinks Trails.  These trails can be very demanding on the body, so after roughly 45 miles of racing it should be interesting how things play out at that time.  For some it will be a matter of survival, and for others it will determine the win or finishing 2nd.  

Stay tuned for race reports and photos.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Masters Road Nationals

For the 2nd year, Masters Road Nationals was held in my home town of Bend ,OR.  Initially I wasn't planing to do this race, but as the event got closer I decided that I might as use it as a hard training day and maybe try and pull out a good result.  This would be my only road race of the season (and for good reason, I'll explain later), so expectations were no too high.  Not that I didn't have confidence in my fitness level, but more the fact that my training was not suited for road racing.

I did the Masters 40-44 race last season and was able to get into a breakaway with 5 other riders but ran out of gas with 5 miles remaining.  This season the course changed and would be the same as the Cycling Classic Stage race road course.  On paper it looks like a good course, but for Nationals, I don't think it was a hard enough course.

The total distance of the course was 68 miles, and the first 12 miles were all down hill.  Then for the next 45-50 miles it was flat.  So needless to say, those 45-50 miles were like an endurance training ride.  Then the final 5 miles included a 2.5 miles (6%) climb a 1/2 mile false flat, then another steep 1/2 mile climb followed by 2 miles of flat roads to the finish.  Much like the Cascade Cycling Classic, the race would be decided  by the 2.5 mile climb.

The pace during the race was pretty high (avg speed was 24.5 mph), we covered the 68 mile course in just over 2.5 hours.  Talking with some fellow racers, Jason Snovel and Jason Boynton (Team Folsom Bike/Mercedes Benz), they gave me a heads up as to which riders to keep an eye on.   It was pretty easy to mark them during the race because things were steady the entire time, no attacks.

As we approached the final 2.5 mile climb I made sure to be near the front.  I was sitting about 15th wheel at the bottom.  This may have cost me the race.  As soon as the road kicked up, one of the race favorites, Chris Phipps, and a teammate attacked with a few others.  I was about 8 riders behind and had to work my way around them to try and catch the attack.  I was a little too far back to make the gap and as it turned out  that would be the move that decided the race.

There was 5 riders in the lead group, then myself and 4 others.  The peloton was getting shredded quickly.  In my group it was Larry Walker (last years' winner), Ryan McKean, and Dan Bryant, and one other rider  Bryant began to pull away and worked himself up to the lead group, while the rest of us tried to do the same.  Myself and Walker would do most of the work, and eventually we dropped the unknown rider.   So now it was Walker, myself and McKean as we crested the climb near Todd Lake.  We had a short flat section then another steep short climb before the final 2 mile run in to the finish.  Half way up the steep climb, Walker opened up a small gap on myself and McKean.  I tried to have McKean work together with me so we could pull Walker back but he wouldn't (this is the reason why I don't road race).  With 2 miles of flat roads left the smart thing would be to have each of us taking turns at the front to try and pull back Walker, and possibly the lead group that wasn't too far ahead.  All I kept hearing was that he was blown and had nothing left.  So I put my head down and rode as hard as I could, putting in a few surges (with McKean staying right on my wheel).  Then, and this is great, with 100 meters remaining he pulls in front with enough power to beat me by 3 seconds.

I would understand if we were racing for 1st and 2nd and this happened but for 7th and 8th, come on.  I understand road racing is a tactical sport but this was lame.  And Ryan is a friend, he is a local Bend rider, so I wouldn't have expected that from him.  So I finished 8th overall about 40 seconds behind the winner Matt Carinio.  

Full results

I now have a week before the MTB Marathon Nationals race, which will also be held in Bend, OR up near Mt Bachelor.  The course has changed from last years' race and this will certainly make for a tough race.  The distance is estimated at 54 miles so winning times should be around 3.5 hrs.  Stayed tuned for more reports on MTB Nationals.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Have you seen this?

If not you have to check it out...

I like to think my bike handling skill are above average, no where near that of Adam Craig or anything, but above average.  However, I think Adam and possibly even Hans "No Way" Rey would be impressed with this dude's skills.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Capitol Forest 50 race report

Damn, what can I say other than the fact that riding (yet alone racing) in the Capitol Forest area is still at the top of my list as "best places to ride your bike".  I was looking forward to this race for a few months because     when I lived in Seattle I used to ride down there a lot.

Capitol Forest is located in Washington State just south of Olympia, WA.  You exit off I-5 at exit 95 and head towards the town of Littlerock.  Another 5-10 minutes and you reach the pristine forest known as Capitol Forest which is full of pure singletrack.  Of the 50 miles included in the race, 43 were on singletrack trail that was just wider than handlebar width.  I didn't remember the trails like I thought I would so each switchback and descent was foreign.  The forest is so dense that at times it was difficult to see more than 5 feet in front of you.  I opted to wear sunglasses (as opposed to clear lenses), and there was a moment in the beginning of the race I couldn't see anything except the riders' white jersey in front of me.  Scary, but fun!

The race was staged at the Evergreen Sportman's Club.  Jenny and I drove up on Friday and spent the night with her folks in Covington, WA which turned out to be just over an hours drive away.  Left the house at 6:30am (hot coffee in the cup holder) and arrived at 7:50am.  This was definitely later than I was hoping.  The temps were chilly (low 60's) but sunny and humid.  After a short warm up I headed to the start line.

start of the race

As a result of a short warm up, I didn't get as good a start as I would have liked.  The race began with a short road/gravel section before reaching the singletrack.  I entered the singletrack section in 4th position, and because it was so narrow there was no room to pass.  After a few miles I could see 2 riders in front getting a little gap on the rider in front of me.  I wanted to pass, but couldn't.  At the first opportunity I was able to get around and begin my chase of the 2 leaders.  I quickly caught 1 rider but didn't know how far the leader was ahead.  We slowly climbed, sections exposed to the sun and others in deep forest.  The trails were so sweet, and most of it was rolling terrain so keeping your speed high was easy.  After some more miles, we came to a clearing and I could see the rider in the lead (Logan Wetzel) a short distance in front.

As we approached Aid Station #2 I had caught up to him but he didn't stop and I did.  I was stopping at each Aid Station to refuel and it was costing me time.  I lost sight of him after the Aid Station and had been caught by the rider behind me.  Since their was no "bag drop" for the 50 milers (stashing items in a bag to be picked up at Aid Stations) I had to stop at refuel each time.  It seemed like Logan had someone in the Aid Stations handing him bottles to save him from having to stop. More singletrack miles ticked away, and each mile I was reminded just how damn good the riding is here.  The course was much dryer than I expected, it seemed like every time I rode down here it was always wet and muddy.  The start was a bit dusty, but as we climbed higher and rode deeper in the forest the trails were perfect tacky dirt.  Much of the course was smooth, but also included plenty of roots and rocks.

Around Aid Station #4 (mile 27), we began a 7 mile fireroad climb.  It wasn't until about mile 31 that I could see Logan up ahead.  I could tell I was gaining ground on the climb.  At mile 34 we entered back into the singletrack and the remaining 16 miles would be some of the best singletrack around.  I didn't know how far behind Logan I was at this point, so I just put my head down and tried to push it as hard as I could.  Having some fatigue still in the legs from the Breck Epic I could tell they were starting to get a little tired, especially on the steeper climbing sections.   There was a climb around mile 40 that seemed to really slow things down.  I felt like I was crawling along and every time I looked down at the odometer it seemed to say the same thing.  The last 10 miles of the race were rough.  When I crossed the line I thought I was only a few minutes behind Logan, but I checked the results to day and saw that I was just 7 minutes behind.  He's a strong rider and rode a good race.

Results here

To go along with a great event venue, the crew at 4th Dimension Racing know how to keep you feeling happy after a hard day in the saddle.  There was a huge post-race feed of burgers, pizza, beer, and other snacks...and a live band.  All in all a fun day on the bike and a reminder of why I love to ride at Capitol Forest.

After some grubbing and hanging out with some old friends, I was off to Seattle for a wedding.  Trying to "make good time" in the Seattle traffic is never a good thing.  After picking Jenny up at Southcenter Mall (probably the busiest mall in the Northwest) we were on our way with minimal time to spare.  Ahhhhhhhh!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Upcoming Race - Capitol Forrest 50

This weekend I am heading up to Washington State for the Capitol Forest 50 race near Olympia, WA.  I mentioned in a previous post that Capitol Forest is one of my favorite riding areas; it's full of pure singletrack and lots of roots and rocks.  The one thing that I don;t miss about riding there is the mud.  I think about 80% of the time I rode there it was super muddy and it really is the kind of mud that gunks your bike up.  Hopefully this weekend will be dry.

Here is a great sampling of what Capitol Forest has to offer. Thick lush forest with narrow singletrack...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Random Breck Pics

Now that all the chaos of the Breck Epic race is over, here are some other photos taken during our trip to Breckenridge, CO.  It was certainly one to remember.

this is awesome!

what a goofy couple

the sign says it all

can you see the Billy Goat's?

overlooking Blue Lake near Hoosier Pass

Friday, August 17, 2012

Breck Epic Stage 6

The final stage of the race!  Today's word of the day..."pssssss" (yes it's a word in my vocabulary, damn it)

Today we started at the Ice Rink and rolled up Boreas Pass Rd for a few miles before turning left onto a singletrack trail.   As with most xc races, there was a cluster f _ _ k as we entered the singletrack.  As in the previous 3 stages, I had a hard time getting my breathing under control.  Once things settled down it was once again Shawn Bunnin, myself, and Nathan Brown riding together.  We eventually caught up to Ryan Clark and Zeke Hersh.  It stayed this way for a while until we popped out of the trail and onto a fireroad, which would be the first of 2 long steady climbs.

 Nathan, Ryan, and myself began to pull away from the others and settled into a fast pace that was making it difficult to get a deep breath in.  I knew today was going to be a shorter day, so I wasn't too concerned about burning the matches so to speak.  We continued climbing and eventually reached the summit and Aid Station #1.  Grabbed a bottle and pushed on.  We entered a fun singletrack descent that was filled with burms and turns.  There must have been about 100 swooping turns in this section.

We then popped out onto another fireroad and continued climbing.  This is when I noticed I had a slow leak in my rear tire.  Slow leaks to me are the worst because it's tough deciding whether or not to keep riding.  I stopped and filled the tire with some Co2 to top it off hoping that  it would fill and let the Stan's sealant work it's magic.  Well it wouldn't, it continued to slowly leak (aka:  psssss).  So over the next 5-8 miles or so, i stopped a few more times just topping the tire off rather than completely fixing the flat.  I eventually lost contact with Nathan and Ryan but could still see them a short distance away.  This climb would turn out to be a brutal climb due to the headwind.  I'm not sure how strong it was blowing but it sure felt like at least a 20-30 mph wind.  Riding solo into this wind was extremely tough, would have been nice to have others to draft off.

After pushing myself in and out of the pain cave I finally reached the summit and Aid Station #2, with the Duo team of Blake Harlan and Bryan Alders shortly behind.  Grabbed another bottle and a PBR (yes today someone was handing out cans of PBR).  Man, the things we do during bike races, first it's bacon at 12,200ft, then it's a PBR at 11,000ft.  I took 2 big sips and tossed it to the side and began a fast descent down the fireroad we climbed the first time.  3-4  miles on this road and then we made a left turn into a rocky descent.   I stopped once again in this section to top off the rear tire.  I could hear the rim banging against the rocks and being a carbon Enve rim I was getting worried I was going to ruin the rim.  After cautiously manuevoring my way down this trail Harlan and Alders passed me and once we reached the bottom that's when I decided to fix the frickin' flat.  I had had enough and didn't want to ruin the rim.  While fixing the flat I was passed by at least 5-6 more riders and there was only about 2.5 miles to the finish.  As they say, "timing is everything".  I was mentally defeated and the remaining few miles to the finish were demoralizing to say the least.

I had lost my Top-10 placing anyways as Jake Wells had a stellar day today finishing in 3rd place.  This I believe moved him into 10th.  I finished 11th overall.

All I can say is that I rode my ass off this week and didn't leave anything on the table.  Riding at altitude is definitely a new challenge, each day seemed to be a new hurdle.  I was hoping to finish in the Top 10, but results are not everything.  The experiences I encountered this week, the pain I endured, the trails I rode, and the people I met totally out weight a result.  This is the type of race that makes you or breaks you...and I can honestly say I was close to being broken a few times.  Super tough event and would recommend it to anyone who had above average bike skills, and wants to suffer, alot.