Thursday, December 29, 2011

Midwest Cyclocross Regionals December 2011

For Regionals we had a hotel right next to the race course. Only a mile away! The hotel was nice (although not as nice as the Marriott suite we got to stay at during Jinglecross) and the internet was fast, which was a treat for me since our internet at home makes dial up look fast. Laying around in the hotel before and after my races doing nothing made things very enjoyable. The race was on the nationals course so we went to see what the course would be like, and dial it in. The course was awesome. There was a nice long tar drag that quickly narrowed into a banked corner on grass for the start. Bumpy, hilly, technical, with long flat sections in between. In short, a course that everyone except me seemed to be complaining about.

On my first day I had a good enough start in the cat 3's, however the temperature (12 degrees F) was very cold and I did not wear enough clothes while waiting at the start. My legs were all cold and seized up and I could not feel my hands nor feet, which made it nearly impossible to shift or stand up. After a few laps of falling back and even suffering a few crashes from lack of feeling in my limbs I got warm enough and starting really cranking. I gained many spots and moved all the way up to 18th place in the end, almost sprinting the person ahead of me.

The next day in cats 3's the weather was not so cold (about 28 degrees), but still I bundled myself up with thick layers while I waited for the start. I accidentally ran into Gavin (another junior) at the very start which slowed us both down, but still managed a decent start. I drifted back a little bit on the power section in the soccer field, but not very far. I was in the group with Ian and Gavin, but at the back of it. I could not get past some adults before the group shattered. Ian and Gavin got away. I was then passed by my team mate Max, whom I latched onto. I was not feeling very good, tired from a poor nights sleep, but I managed to stay with Max. I was coming through the sand pit when I dropped my chain! Max and a few others flew by me while I got it back on. Eventually I caught Max and finished 14th. I'm happy that I got to race the course and get a feel for it, as nationals is now only a week away.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jingle Cross Rock 2011

Jingle Cross is a very big cross race, its probably the one of the biggest cross races in the Midwest. it's held at a fairground, and boasts a rather steep and decent sized hill dubbed "Mount Krumpet". Depending on the year and category you race in, you ride up the side of this brutal hill, or for even more pain, get to run straight up it. But if you are in category 3 or higher, you get the treat of doing the crazy switchbacks straight down the steepest side. The rest of the course is a collection of various twisty turns linked by brutal power drags.

It's a pretty hard course, in short, near perfect for me. On Friday we race under the lights in the dark. We ran up the hill and came back down the mild downhill. The course was dry and hard from people pre-riding it. The start is a little bad for me. It starts out good, with tar and gravel for about a 100 feet, but then goes into some nasty power grass. Nerveless, I have a good starting position (thanks to dad pre-registering me) and my start goes well.

By the time we go past the pits I'm sitting top ten, hooked on to Mitch's wheel. This is a good place to be, as Mitch tends to place top three in the cat 3 races and I'm quite happy with where I'm sitting, but unfortunately I stumble on the fly-over and Mitch gets away. Out of his draft, I lose a few spots, but then my team mate Tad (his real name is Christopher, but everyone calls him Tad) comes by and says, "Get on my wheel Josey!" I put in a big effort and start to draft him. I follow him for a while until the last 10 minutes of the race, where I fade a little (the run up was killing me, very long and about 15%) and get passed by a group of 3. The race ended up being 55 minutes long (it was supposed to be 45, but they based the time off the leader in cat 2's, who was going very fast, so our time was extended) and I placed 14th out of over 80 starters.

Saturday it's MUDDY, probably the muddiest cross race I have ever done. I have a good start, and am on Mitch's wheel again, however the mud is very sticky and slow and so requires lots of power. Mitch drops me and I get discouraged. I race for 55 minutes, and by the end I am 18th out of over 80 starters. Not as good of a day, but the mud was hard and I am satisfied.

On Sunday we have to run up the hill again, but the mud has gotten runny, it's now sketchy and relatively fast. perfect conditions. I miss my pedal at the start and lose quite a bit of ground, but halfway into the first lap I'm 18th. throughout the rest of the race I gain places and move up to 14th, but then the run up starts to get to me and I fade, falling back to about 22nd. All the sudden I get angry, and start riding really well. I moved back up to 16th in the last two laps, losing the sprint for 15th. I placed 16th out of 80 starters. Overall I was happy with this race. It was a lot of fun, I got to see my team mates and race in the mud!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Short and Fat, September 17th, 2011

Let me start out by saying this: the Chequamegon is the biggest mountain bike race in the midwest, it's one of those races that EVERYONE who mountain bikes goes to, not just racers. There is so many racers, that they put a lottery on entering that limits the number of racers to 2,700. This is a long race (40 miles) that usually has around 2,000 people that the 'Pros' and many other adults do, but you have to be 18 to do it. The short race (16 miles) with around 900 people that is basically a sort of 'Midwest Junior Regionals'. All the juniors go to it, however there are still many adults, but few place in the top 15. The Chequamegon differs from many mountain bike races; in that it has no singletrack. However, it has too many bumps and rocks for it to be practical to ride a cross bike. This makes the front of the the race rather like a road race on mountain bikes. It's a very unique race.

Despite being sick, I had a good enough race last year (92nd overall). I got a preferred start, and started up on the front row. It was a VERY fast downhill start, (as you can see on the side banner photo of my blog, can you spot me?). The course then goes into a uphill that separates everyone out. I was able to make the separation into the front pack... and the race began! I was just so happy being right there with all the best juniors in the midwest, totally comfortable! I remember seeing Dad waiting to cheer me on, freaking out that I was in the front group. I stayed with the pack for quite a long time until we hit the sandpit. Lacking the power, got gapped through it. I was just about to catch back on when a attack was made and they all accelerated away.

I rode by myself for a long time (except for one guy who was sucking my wheel for the entire race till the very end) until John Thompson (an adult cyclist who is a friend of mine) came up and saw me pulling two guys behind me,  while I was all aero going 23mph on the gravel. John said "What are you guys doing? Help the kid out!".  After that we took turns pulling and our speed increased. We were catching up to the lead group when Jay Labecki came flying by on a tandem at 30 some mph. The group shattered trying to catch him, and I was unable to make the acceleration. I was alone again for some time until I hit the Birkie (where my arch-rival in MTB) Logan passed me. I battled hard to keep him in sight for the entire hilly and very grassy  section, and caught many people. We came out of the Birkie into a slightly downhill, which was bumpy fast section. My full suspension top fuel was perfect on the bumps and I felt great. So I put the pedal-to-the-metal and flew by Logan, catching and dropping him at the same time. I had a few people pass me on the flat sections on the way to the finish and the guy who had been drafting me the entire race sprinted away on the final hill. I did not really care, I knew I was top 20 (and first place in my age group by a lot) and that was significantly better than I had hoped for in my wildest dreams.

I came into the finish exuberant and happy, with a big grin on my face. I heard the announcer say,"And our youngest rider yet, in 16th place, Josey Weik!" I put both hands up in the air, and enjoyed the moment. It was my breakout race, no body could believe that a 14 year old had gotten (almost) top 15.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Junior 15-16 Cyclocross State Championship 2011

It's 30 degrees and snowing and I'm at the starting line for state championships. The gun goes off, I don't have very good legs and I begin to fall back. However, once my legs warm up I move back up the ranks. The course is good. It starts out with a nice long wide stretch that comes into a really hard sandpit, and then twirls up a little bit of hill, the some off camber, comes back down the hill onto a long tar section. You then turn into a long S-turns section with two very small bunny-hoppable barriers, which comes back out onto the road. The course then comes up and back down a big hill, and the goes back up and dow it, and then goes through a tight single-track section up to the incredibly brutal stair run up. you then shoot back down the hill and go on another flat straight section. Thre is then a set of barrier, and some twists leading into the finish. It's just Nills, Ethan, and Andris (but he is 17-18) ahead of me now. Unfortunately I don't feel good, and do not have the strength to catch Ethan and Nills. So I finish 3rd place. Which is fine, you can't always have good days, and third is still good.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mill City, November 12th 2011, Cat 3's.

It's my first Cat 3's race and I'm nervous. It's a great course for me, a fast grass start into two 180 degree corners with a set of barriers after the second, which comes out into a long uphill tar section leading into some more high speed technical grass sections, after that there is a very steep short ride-able hill that comes back down into a sand pit. the course climbs up and around a hill and comes back down, does a flat drag around a field Into a uphill barrier right before a downhill 180. It then goes into a series of about a half dozen of S-turns right before the tar finish.

There is about four really good 3's in this field, and while there is three top riders that are not here, the concept of racing against them is intimidating. The start is very fast. much faster than any start I have ever been in, and I drop back to the 20's. I come around the two 180's aggressively and gain spots. throughout the rest of the course I slowly gain positions, until halfway through the second lap I am 6th place. then on the third lap disaster strikes. I am coming up the hill and I fall over, which pushes my chain into my spokes. I take a quick look at it and know that I cannot do anything, so I pick up my bike and start to run to the pit, which luckily is a short distance away. I numbly watch the hordes of racers go by me, it's a good thing I was in a state of shock, as I did everything efficiently and did not panic. I switched bikes in the pit and got  going again, almost dead last.

The rest of the race I slowly clawed my way back up 24th place. My lap times were never as fast again, But my second lap was faster than the guy who won. I felt I could have kept that up, and while I probably would not have caught the top 3, I might have ended up top five. But "Would'a, Could'a ,Should'a", right? I might need to move up after mishap like that in the future, so It's a skill I need to work on. All in all I was happy with how I stacked up against the field, and excited for State championship.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Testing with Inigo San Millan

I stare out the window, fixated by the snowy twin peaks to the west that seemingly rise out of the highway in Denver. They are small in the distance, yet they radiate a aura of majestic size. I remember coming down this road last spring nervously listening to Andy while anticipating a important event that I had little control of, "Testing". Six months later the word held anticipation, not nervousness for me. I was emboldened by a season of  systematic scientific training, and intent on showing the improvement I felt in my body.

We rolled up to the large, modern looking building and found a place to park. As we walked through the spinning doors, Dad made a joke about me not knowing how to operate them last year. Andy and I laughed, as we sat down in the lobby waiting for Inigo. He walked out into the lobby and greeted us. He looked exactly the same as I had remembered. A quiet man with a firm handshake, twinkly eyes, and a Basque accent..

We walked into his office and I stared at the incredible memorabilia on the walls from athletes he had worked with. Yellow jerseys, National Champion jerseys, and a Garmin jersey signed by all the team members and a large "thanks for all the help Inigo!". I go change into my kit. Inigo then measures my height, my body fat percentage, and weighs me. In the protocol Inigo uses, I am on a cycle ergometer set up to fit like my normal bike, wearing a mask measuring ventilation and oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air to determine my VO2 max (which is reached when oxygen consumption remains at steady state despite an increase in workload).

Inigo then sets the resistance on the bike to one watt per kilogram that I weigh. I pedal that at 90 rpm for 5 minutes, then Inigo measures the amount of lactate in my blood. He then ramps it up to 1.5 watts per kilograms, I ride that for 5 minutes, and he measures my lactate again.This process is repeated until I reach my lactate threshold. This gives me my watts per kilogram (A.K.A, power to weight ratio). But more importantly, Inigo looks at my lactate accumulation and how my heart rate corresponds, then uses that information to set my heart rate zones based on lactate accumulation. He also puts a mask on  that measures my Vo2 max. It does this by measuring ventilation and oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air.

 Upon completing the test, I go shower while Inigo calculates my data. Once I'm done, we convene to discuss my results. While reviewing the data Inigo explains the changes we are seeing and complements me on my progress. The results from this session showed me just how important testing is, as my training zones had changed significantly from six months earlier.

Without testing I can never know you, and you can never know what philological systems you are training.” Inigo San Millan

Friday, November 11, 2011

Velo CX November 5th 2011

Velo cross is a grassy, twisty, fast race by the Velodrome in Blaine, Minnesota. It starts on tar, and rolls over slight inclines and downhills and around sharp 180's on fast, mowed grass. It has two up hill barriers that are about 5 inches high and very hoppable, two 3 inch barriers right before you dive into the center of the velodrome (also hoppable), and two close-together, 14 inch high barriers that are definetly NOT hoppable. It features two off-cambers, and seven 180 degree corners. I just came off of a large training block, but I am determined to race smart. The whistle goes off and I am in 4th wheel. I work my way up to Jeff, who is in second place. I work with him for a while, but Ryan is strong, and the gap is still at ten seconds. Jeff bobbles on a corner and I seize the oportunity. We battle for the better part of two laps, but he is strong and I can't shake him. We come into the 180 corner after the tar on the last lap, shoulder to shoulder playing a high speed game of "chicken". I have the outside and am at a disadvantage, but am also more confident in my abilities. I come out of the corner a fraction ahead and attack with everything I got. The final corner is off of a ditch and you can either try and stay on the top of it and dive down for more momentum, or you can stay low and take the corner inside-outside. I had taken the high line every time and Jeff knew what I was going to do. He took the corner extra wide to cut me off, but I had more momentum from the ditch than he had figured and I slipped up beside him. Shoulder to shoulder, we went towards the finish line, but I had more momentum and he couldn't match my attack. I won the sprint and finished second place! I was very happy at how hard I battled with Jeff. and while I didn't beat Ryan, I knew it had not been in the cards that day. I recently upgraded to cat 3's, so this was my last cat 4 race.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Crossnight CX October 30th 2011

The whistle blows and off we go! I'm going to play this cat 4's race smart, I think to myself. Right off the bat I get on to second wheel. It's a "tar" start, which means its important to get to the front, but to still draft. As I fly around the corner I think of how it feels like the start of a crit, then the thought vanishes as we hit the grass. Myself, and 7 others quickly seperate away from the rest of the field, and begin to develop a large gap. Derek is at the front, driving the pace hard and on by one, all are dropped but Ethan and I. On the fast stretches we reach up to 25 mph. I'm hanging good and I know were I want to attack, but I botch my remount on the run up and I get gaped with 2 laps to go! Aaron has also been dropped, and I attack him were I was planning on attacking, finishing 3rd.
 Me bunny hopping the barriers in the Junior race.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Green Acres 2011 Oct 23rd

"It looks hard" I say to my dad as I eye up the hill. "That's good" Dad replies. I have just finished pre riding the course and am happy about its difficulty. My philosophy in Cross is; "it's always going to be hard for me, so why not make it harder for everyone else?".  I continue to warm up, surveying the course. There is a sandy run up with two inclines and a three foot flat in the middle. Dad comes over and watches me struggle to ride up it, "It's not ride-able" I say with frustration, "the second half makes sure of that". Dad eyes it up, "yes but riding the first part and dismounting is way faster than running the whole thing. Try coming into it with more speed and then shifting down" I try it again and make it.

The announcer calls the cat 4's to staging, and I line up. The USAC official walks up and gives us the rules. He tells us that we are going straight up the hill at the start on the first lap, and then continue on the normal course the rest of the race. I am not happy about this, its a power start and power starts are not my thing. I tell myself to get over it. It is what it is. He blows the whistle, and all heck breaks loose! as expected, I am a little ways back coming up the hill. About tenth position. But Ethan is at the front with the hole shot looking strong. I pass a bunch of racers on the flat section at the top, and get on to Ethan's wheel right before the down hill. I come down the hill smoothly, but hit my wheel on the first barrier a little bit and slow down. Frustrated, I get back on my bike, and go after Ethan. Even with such a tiny mistake, he gaps me. He is riding strong and I realise this will be a tough race. I come up the run up and bog out on the first hump, stumble and botch my dismount! now Ethan has about 30 seconds on me. I ride the rest of the race strong and smooth, but Ethan is strong and I only make up 15 seconds before I finish in second place. I finish frustrated at my bobble's, but happy at how much time I had on everyone else.

It's the start of the juniors race, and I'm tired. But I already signed up for it and I would give it my best. I again do not have a ideal start, but I'm far enough up to make it to the front on the flats. I go through the barriers and up the run up with out flaw. Coming around on lap one Andris is just off my wheel, with Ethan and Alec shortly behind him. I come up the hill feeling very strong and drop all them but Adrian, however he cant keep up with me on the flat afterwards. I come up the hill for a third time, happy but still full on the gas. Ethan has caught Andris and is going hard, but not hard enough to catch me. I come around the final corner with 30 seconds on Ethan, zipping up my jersey and putting both hands up in the air with a big smile on my face.

Afterwards I enjoy good friends and the warm glow of success.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Baker Orchard October 15th, 2011

It's five minutes to the start... I nervously "chit-chat" with another cat 4 rider and I hear my name called. I'm the first one at the line thanks to my dad preregistering me. A bored looking USAC official walks in front of us and starts to read the rules off of a tablet in his hand. He gets out of the way and blows the whistle. I put my head down and go.

No one is ahead of me but I resist the temptation to look back. Half a lap later I finally look back and I see one person right on my wheel with no one else in sight. I put the hammer down and attack him repeatedly. Again and again, he responds and gets back on my wheel, but I can see him fading.

I head into the barriers at full speed, but my wheel clips the first one and sends me flying! I scramble to get on my bike and chase after him with anger. Coming through for the last lap I catch him. I don't even bother resting on his wheel as I blast past him at full speed. I come in to the run-up with about 5 seconds on him. I put my bike back down and hear a rattling sound, my chain has fallen off! I put it back on efficiently and chase after him. The gap is closed quickly. I sit on his wheel biding my time. We come out of the sand pit and I put in a vicious acceleration. He puts his head down in defeat, I have finally cracked him. I come into the finish line with a big smile on my face and my hands in the air. I finally won a 4's race!
Photos taken by Matt Weik

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A cyclist is made

It was a hot summer in '04 and we were watching TV. My dad was flipping through the channels as I lie on the couch, enjoying the cool air from the fan. "Lets watch the tour!" Dad says. "OK!" I say enthusiastically, as he switch's to the tour. I watch, entranced, I turn to my dad and say, "Hey dad, I want to try that."

Dad was super excited that I wanted to try out cycling, as he had been a racer at one time as well. So he went to a bike shop and bought me a real mountain bike, with brakes and shifters. I was immediately enthralled by the bike, it was all I did! Bike out to the chicken coop, bike to the dog lot, bike everywhere! Soon, I convinced dad to make me my very own track with his skid loader. I started to challenge myself to ride harder and harder things. Doing them over and over again until I made it.

Then my parents took me to my first race, the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Virginia, MN. I got to watch the "pros" race. It blew my mind how fast they went and up such steep hills! Afterwards,  I nervously went up to Robbie Ventura to get his autograph.

 I then did my very first race. Pumped up on endorphins from my race and excitement from meeting a pro (off of my favorite team) I solemnly told my parents, "This is what I want to do". The rest is history...