I will mostly whine about my pathetic Yankee TT results in this blog report but I guess I deserve the dead last result in my class, 50+ Expert. You see there was this race called Barry-Roubaix and I worked hard on it all winter long, then there was the fact that while we had average snowfall for the winter it was never good for cross country skiing locally. XC skiing is my winter drug, like biking is in the summer. The drug keeps you reasonably fit and also helps keep the winter weight manageable. Even riding the 616 Fatbike occasionally didn’t help me much. Then spring comes and delivers record rain, cold and more winter. I know, I know, everyone was in the same boat, I just got lazy because it wasn’t perfect outside.
So why you ask would I sign up for a Fatbike Beach race in Grand Haven the day before the Yankee TT. Good question. I don’t have an answer for that one. Stupid? I didn’t want to be a sandbagger by dropping down to Clydesdale even though I am one and always will be one. So I went for a Sunday drive. At least it was nice out!
Now, about my other teammates, they continue to impress. Tim Curtis was the top old man on this team today, Jeremy is making waves in the Elite class joining Jeff and giving him a run for his money. Then there is Marnie, another podium. I have lost count now. She has a lot of hardware at home.
Here are the numbers:
Rick 26th LAST!
Normally, I’m used to pulling my skinny 135lb ass, up hills by myself on my single bike. But, not this weekend. I decided to enlist my co worker Alex (The Axe Man) Angus, to be my stoker on my tandem.
Let me start by saying, it takes a special breed of person, to relinquish all control to their body’s safety and well being, to ride on the back of a tandem. My hat goes off to them.
Now, I can go on and on about the race, and tell you things, like what the weather was like, and what kind of conditions we were facing. But I’m not! I going to tell you about a type of person who puts their life, in the hands of a madman! The unsung hero, The Stoker!
Now,,, anyone can ride a bike, but a stoker is not just a rider. They are THE engine! There one and only job, is to power the bike and hold on! But they sometimes, give us unsolicited advice. Like,, not to crash. They tell us to slow down. They,,,,, sometimes tell us they will never do this again, but do it anyway. They say, you better slow down around this corner because there’s loose gravel we could crash. They also sometimes say, HOLY SHIT that was fun let’s do it again! Sounds simple right? But that’s the job of the stoker. Communication!
Now over the years, I have had many of stokers, and they all hold a special place in my heart. Hell, most of them have taken us to the podium. So it goes without saying they are important. So this last weekend was no different. My stoker and I were able to hang on to a win, in the 28 mile distance barely winning by less than a minute. I’m happy with our results. But, to the humble stoker it all in a day’s work. The best stokers, are the ones that you don’t even know they are on the back. Not because of their weight, but their ability to stick to you like a magnet. Hell, some of them can’t even see where they’re going. But they know you are going to lead them in the right direction, and they are cool with that.
So I guess what I’m saying is, Thank You, to all those stokers out there who take the backseat and make it a team effort.
As for a Team, I can’t say enough about the team I’m on. The Founders Brewery team! You want to talk about team?! These people are one hell of a team; every one of them puts out 110% and holds their heads up high even when things don’t always go their way. But you know what? That’s what racing bikes is all about. Not winning or losing, but being on a TEAM.
“Let’s fu*cin’ do this sh*t!” And with that Jeremy was on his way for the 62 mile portion of the fast and icy Barry-Roubaix followed closely by Shawn Crowley, Ralf Scharnowski and Tim Curtis.
I had been out on the course several times in the weeks leading up to this day. Only once was I actually able to complete it. Even when the mercury did rise above 32 it was never long enough to completely thaw the roads. Often leaving a nice blend of glare ice, frozen tire ruts and crispy, crunchy, slippery, peanut buttery mud. I (like most roubaixers) had gone back forth trying to decide which bike and which tires to run. I knew that my skinny, super fast, file tread continentals were definitely not up to the icy challenge. Which had me leaning towards running my single speed MTB again. But after a brief ride trying to follow a teammate, my 616 had suffered a rear blow out resulting in a damaged rear wheel (lesson 1, when Jeff Jacobi says “no, let’s try going this way instead” take caution).
So, 36 hours prior to race day I was at Freewheeler Bike Shop purchasing some new and much more aggressive tires for my cross bike. They had totally renewed my confidence on the ice covered roads. Enough so, that I decided to tow the line right to the front of my wave with Josh Hogeterp. I shared with him my game plan. Take it easy at the start so I don’t ” blow my wad” before we get to the 3 sisters (wow that sounds really dirty). Then I would grab his rear wheel and hang on for as long as possible. Simple enough plan, what could go wrong. A little fist bump and internal barbaric yelp and we were off. Rolling along on the nice dry pavement at about 21 MPH. I sat right on Josh’s wheel with about 5 or 6 riders off the front. As we took the first left turn towards Yeckley a rider went by on the left. ”Oh no you didn’t”. I left Josh’s wheel (mistake 1) and leapt right to the front of the group (mistake 2). Feeling strong now. ”BRING ON YECKLEY!” Right turn and the road turns to nice dry, hard packed gravel. Up the first climb and past some riders from the previous wave. Okay, maybe I went out a little too strong. But I can hang. Up the next “sister” and the first few riders go around me. By the time I hit sister #3 my legs start reminding me of my limits “DAMN YOU YECKLEY!”…and there goes Josh. Okay, well….plan B. What was plan B? Oh yeah, stay upright and don’t stop pedaling. Suddenly ICE. Oh shit! I thought they said most of this was gone. But here it was. Glare ice. My butt cheeks clench so tight around my saddle that the Fizik logo now looks like it is embroidered on the back of my shorts. I slow down a bit….a bit more….tire slip, slow even more. Past the ice and HAMMER, HAMMER, HAMMER. This becomes my new “pace”. I pass riders only to have them pass me on the ice. This happens for about 10 miles and I finally decide enough is enough. I have ridden this course in these conditions and I have these sweet new, grippy tires. Time to sack up Meendering. So as I approach the next stretch of ice I relax my upper body and simply maintain speed. It works perfectly! For about 150 yards, and then I get my tires cross-rutted and shoot off to the left shoulder of the road. Another rider whom had been holding my wheel slammed into the side of me. Miraculously, we both stopped upright. ”That was neat”, I said and off I was. Now riding even more cautiously than before. Using every bit of dry road and pavement to my advantage. The temps never did climb as predicted and instead of the expected mudfest the course remained a mix of fast dry gravel and slick ice.
Overall it was a great race. Especially the after party complete with Founders beer tent and live music compliments of Sweet J. The Founders Racing Team had some very strong finishes in both the 36 and 62 mile races. And we finished in 4th place out over 40 in the 36 mile team competition. Great job everybody. And special thanks to Rick, Cathy, Tenner and the many volunteers that continue to make this my favorite race of the season. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for my first season with you all.
Since the announcement a couple of years ago that the World Championship of cyclocross would be coming to the U.S., it was on my radar to attend. So, plans were made and a group of us set out to watch history unfold. A World Cup cyclocross race has never been held on American soil let alone the World Championship. We planned on spending the weekend watching racing events on both Saturday and Sunday. However, the Ohio River had different plans. Apparently a group of scientists monitored the level of the river and announced the race course at Eva Bandman Park would be flooded on Sunday so all events were moved to Saturday, which included the women’s and elite men’s race.
As Rick Plite, Dennis Murphy, Pete Hall, Martin Hall and myself loaded the van and headed off we realized Martin didn’t bring his bike as there wasn’t enough room. We had epic plans of riding our bikes to the race across some pedestrian bridge. However, Martin graciously offered to drive the car to the race so we had a place to warm up if needed.
On our way down, we made a pit stop at Dark Horse Brewery to sample some of their Crooked Tree and Double Crooked Tree. This short stop saved us from getting stuck in traffic in Indy and we sailed smoothly all the way to our hotel thanks to Martin’s expert driving.
With traffic looking heavy into the city, we partook in a quick Centennial and an hour later took a secret passage into the city to visit a local brewery called, Against the Grain. This establishment proved to be the hot spot and Rick managed to meet the owner of DeFeet. Look for his band at the Barry Roubaix!!!
The next morning started off as you might imagine and we made it to the race a little later than anticipated. It’s a good thing we couldn’t fit Martin’s bike as we all road in the warm, comfortable van. At least the bikes looked cool on the Odyssey.
The course was a bit confusing standing near the entrance. One couldn’t really ascertain how the course flowed but one thing was for sure, it was very technical and European. The morning started off with snow but this would change throughout the day. We managed to get a good spot for the junior race and watched kids under 18 hop off their bikes and run up a set of limestone stairs.
An American named Logan Owen managed to make the race interesting and battled all the way up to third throughout the race. The crowd was roaring every time he came through and even though he just missed the podium it started the day off right. The Women’s race also had an American favored to medal. Katy F’ing Compton had battled Marianne Vos throughout the World Cup season and it seemed it would come down to the two of them. Again, the course was primarily frozen and seemed fast.
We moved spots to watch the women snake around a fence before making a ninety degree turn. We were so close to the racers their bars could have touched our hands on the fencing. Marianne Vos brought her A-game and ended up riding at the front the whole race. After a tough start, Katy charged the field and ended up taking second!! As the U23 race started, the course was starting to soften and the lines for food, beer and bathrooms grew larger.
Somehow the organizers or the UCI dropped the ball in getting enough vendors for food and beer. Rumor was it had something to do with businesses having enough insurance. Whatever the reason, it sucked. Some spectators waited throughout entire hour long races simply to go to the bathroom or get some grub. Next time this type of event comes to America, they better call up the promoter of Kisscross, Lumberjack and Barry Roubaix as he obviously knows how to put on a fan-friendly race. By the time the men’s elite race started, the entire race course was peanut butter.
Right off the bat it seemed like a race between the Dutch and Belgiums. American Jonathan Page road well throughout the first half of the race but slipped back after a mechanical. Behind the Barriers star, Jeremy Powers, never seemed comfortable in the conditions and road mid-pack throughout the race. A few laps later we moved to the woods to again watch the pros dismount after a steep downhill to climb the cement stairs.
The riders’ line was so close to where we were standing behind the fence that the mud from their wheels hit us. The race ended up coming down to Klaas Vantornout’s pedal getting stuck in the fencing at the top of the hill we were watching from. It was incredible to watch Sven Nys power through the course on his way to winning his second title. The European riders definitely have an edge when it comes to cross. From the fans who traveled across the pond, to the support crew in the pit lane, they definitely have this cross thing figured out. America has a ways to go if they want to catch up to their level of cross.
After standing in a line to use the facility for a half hour, we packed up and headed back to our hotel. The trip finished with an after party hosted by SRAM. Apparently there was a foam party where all racers were supposed to show up. However, we managed to hang out with a group of Michiganders all night and drink good beer for free. We ended up getting some spicy tacos from a truck outside our hotel and called it a day. Not a bad way to finish a great trip.
Everybody talks about cross training or off season training. I myself used to spend a small fortune killing myself at the gym. Then I started running, which is great cross training and something I need to do more of. It is just hard to convince myself to do it and I often find myself wondering “Why are you doing this when you could be on your bike?”. Recently my wife talked me into trying hot yoga. I immediately pictured myself twisted and contorted staring at my own ass for an extended period of time contemplating the nature and reason for my existence. How much of a workout can it really be? You would be surprised.Founders Racing was recently invited by Elizabeth at Yoga Heat to try a yoga class. Elizabeth practices a style of yoga called power vinyasa. It is a fairly fast paced style which focuses on strength building, flexibility and balance. She does a fantastic job helping athletes (especially cyclists and runners) get the most out of their practice. With a philosophy of “Helping Every Athlete Thrive” you notice rather quickly the benefits and how they translate to your sport. Many cyclist I know have had or do have lower back issues caused primarily by lack of core strength. Trust me, there is no shortage of core strengthening exercises here. You will feel pain (sometimes days later), you will wonder why you paid for this (her classes are very reasonably priced) and you will most likely be silently cursing her for all the F’in chaturangas. But in the end you walk (slowly) away knowing you just had a great workout, in a short period time for a decent price. Oh, and then there is the heat. Be prepared to sweat. The workout alone is enough to work up a good sweat. Add in a room temp of approximately 90 degrees and you sweat out those IPAs in no time. Do yourself and your body a favor. Check it out.
Lets start this one off right with a beer review! Thanks to Wade for recommending this Tricerahops Double IPA to me and then ordering and shipping it to me in time for the Holidays. Sweet! Thanks Wade. That make two awesome Christmas gifts, the other being a Bolt Cutter from Shawn that I plan to cellar for 1 year. Who wants to be around next Christmas Eve for a tasting of this bad boy?
OK, back to the Tricerahops; The Ninkasi Brewing Co in Eugene Oregon killed it with this awesome example of a double ipa. This 9.6% hop fest is a masterpiece of brewing. It pours light amber in color with a small cap of dense foam. The aroma is huge with orange hops and just a hint of malt sweetness. The flavors is also big on the orange hop profile but the malt brings in some chewy caramel without being overly sweet. The mouth feel is smooth and has a medium body. This is one of my favorite double/Imperial IPAs to date, right behind Founders Double Trouble
The 2012 Iceman wasn’t nearly as cold as in year’s past, but lake effect snow started falling through the night, so we awoke to our first glimpse of winter on our way to the starting line. Kalkaska was dry, but somewhere in the middle of the race, the snow started falling. This was the heavy, wet stuff. The ground was covered already from the night before and since it wasn’t quite freezing, the heavy clumps of snow kept falling from the trees as well. Some new single track was introduced to the race course this year, which helped it feel a little more like a mountain bike race (wink, wink). The conditions made these sections VERY greasy, so chains and derailleurs picked up some mud paste and glasses got some spattering too. In the last 10K, the conditions got even worse. Anita’s Hill was a special challenge as always, and if you’re anywhere near cramping by then, legs are screaming after. It doesn’t get much better after that… This is where the steepest and most technical single track on the course begins. More new, greasy, single track before you hear the faint sound of cheering fans and the singular unintelligable finish line announcer’s voice over the loudspeaker. This is where you know you can push the last remaining bit of lactic acid out of your legs and leave it all on course. One last hill to climb and I can hear my chain crunching with every link over the teeth. Entering the barriers, adrenaline takes over as you look for that last right hand turn before sprinting over the line. I turn the corner behind two other racers, buzz one of the rear wheels in front of me and hear the announcer… “That’s right, if you’re not rubbin’ you’re not racing!”.
I’ll spare the normal post-race almost puke details, but I will admit I didn’t even want a beer for about 30 minutes (which is pretty good for me). Ernie was our perrennial campsite host for the Founders feast which ensued very shortly after all the teammates finished. Thanks Ernie! Getting this campsite and wood for the fire is what makes the rest of the day so relaxing and fun. Thanks to all who brought food, too! It’s all part of what makes this team work. As far as the rest of the day goes, I remember getting awards, watching the pros come in, standing by a campfire, eating a lot, being in a hotel suite with an extra sofa (what?! I know, ask Jeff), and some dream about being a backwoods bastard dancing with the devil. Yep, the day really ended with a bang.
Earl Hillaker – 1st Place (Tandem)
Jeff Jacobi/Josh Hogeterp – 2nd Place (Tandem)
Gabe Niehof – 2nd Place (35)
Jeremy Karel – 3rd Place (28-29)
Ralf Scharnowski – 3rd Place (Clydesdale 40+)
Shawn Crowley – 4th Place (34)
Marnie Tencate – 4th Place (45-49)
Danielle Shaver – 4th Place (Lady Singlespeeds)
Matt Remelts – 5th Place (37)
I thought last year was impressive with 8 podiums, but we set a new standard this year with 11! By my calculations, the team took home $945. We could be our own sponsor with that!
Special recognition goes to:
“Little Tenner” or Max “Headroom” Tencate. He finished his first Iceman in 2:48:53! Good job, Max! Watch out for this guy.
Founders’ friends Jane Vanhof and Matt Hoffman respectively took 2nd and 3rd respectively in their respective divisions. Very respective! You both rocked it this year!
Considering Iceman and the top results from the year long CPS Series which included Jeremey Karel first place Expert Men 29-under,Tom Stolz 3rd place SS, Tim Curtis 2nd Place Expert 50-59, and Marnie Tencate 2nd place Women’s Expert the team had a great season.
We would like to thank each and every sponsor for a great 2012 and we can’t wait to do it again in 2013.