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.