Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Videos from the Dirty Dozen.

Good video of all of us climbing Canton Ave.

I get some good camera time on Bousted Street

The Dirty Dozen

Saturday Gunnar, Betsy and I headed north to Pittsburgh for the 27th Annual Dirty Dozen. If you’re not familiar the DD here is how it began. In 1983, Dan & Tom Chew and Bob Gottlieb wanted to showcase Pittsburgh's steepest and toughest hills in one ride, never getting more than 10 kilometers away from the center of the city. So on Saturday December 17, 1983, the first Dirty Dozen ride was held in 27 degrees F with snow flurries. At that first DD there were only 5 rides, however it has really grown in recent years as 181 riders showed up for this year’s event.

Gunnar (a former DD winner) had no plans on trying to compete this year due to a broken rib or two, that occurred racing cross the weekend before. However Betsy was in it to win it, and I was there to try and become the heaviest person to ever finish the event. On the ride up Betsy and I were super nervous and we both laughed at how silly were being about it in the car. Gunnar probably thought we pretty dumb. An hour and half after leaving Morgantown we found ourselves pulling into the parking lot in Pittsburgh. The place was packed with riders and a record turnout had registration running a little behind so the start was going to be a little late. I sure didn’t have a problem with that cause I used the extra time to make my rounds and talked to all my Pittsburgh friends that I don’t get to see that much. Suzanne, Steve-O, Powers, LA, and a whole gang of other seemed pretty happy to see the WV crew up in their neck of the woods.

After about a half hour delay we were ready to head out. Ryan Post, Kean Bird and Scott Benson also made the trip up from Morgantown to try their hand at the monster climbs. We all rolled out together and only Gunnar really knew what was ahead of us so in our group the nerves were running a bit high. The start was a blast. A 181 person peloton through the streets of Pittsburgh is very cool. It was only a few miles or so before we came to our first climb of the day. Center Ave was a shock to the system. It was long steep and painful. Halfway up I wondered what had I gotten myself into. There was a reason no one heavier than me had ever finished the event. As the snot poured from my nose because of the cold morning air I suffered to the top. However I received a really warm welcome from Gunnar, Betsy, Montana, Sticks, LA and Don to name just a few. That put a smile on my face even after all the pain from the climb.

Next we headed for Sharps Hill. I am not going to give a full recap of every hill because we would be here forever. Sharps’ was however in my mind ever harder than the first hill. UGH! The ride to the third hill seemed to be a good 3 or 4 miles. It was a well needed recovery for my legs. Climb three was Berryhill. It’s not a long hill maybe 200 yards long but it is steep and tricky. There is a steep descent leading into the hill but then the beginning of the climb shoots straight up. By the time I arrived at the hill many had already made their attempt. IT LOOKED LIKE A WAR ZONE. Bikes and riders were lying on the ground, people off to the side of the road looking shell shocked, it was crazy. I however somehow gathered myself and slow and steady climb to the top. For me short very steep hills like Berryhill are not so bad and I was happy to have clicked off one of the 13 climbs with not much pain.

To not write a book lets fast forward a bit. Sycamore Street was climb number eight and to get to it we had to ride right through downtown. This was one of my highlights of the whole day. Picture this, 181 riders not stopping at any lights and just hailing between sky scrapers downtown. All the folks on the sidewalks were even cheering for us. What a cool feeling. Sycamore Street takes you up to the well known Mt. Washington area. You know the shot of the incline going up the mountain, seems like you see this image just about every time you watch a Pittsburgh football game on TV. It was a beautiful view of the city once to the top. However I started to feel some real fatigue in my legs on the way up and worry started to settle in. I still had five serious climbs ahead of me, and next was Canton Ave. This hill had a 37 percent grade and Betsy and I expressed our worries about that one on the car ride up. If you are ever board look up Canton Ave on youtube you will find some funny stuff. Not only will you find videos of the Dirty Dozen but also folks trying to climb the hill in cars with little success.

I had to make a pit stop on the way to Canton because my bladder was full, and by the time I got there folks were already literally lying on the road. Oh boy I thought to myself. This was going to be the make or break hill of the day. If I could just get to the top my chances of finishing would go up dramatically. I waited a minute then saw Ryan Post jump out to make his attempt, so I darted off behind him. The beginning was paved and not so bad, but about a third of the way up it was cobbled. It got harder. Halfway up, pain, pot holes and more cobbles. Three quarters of the way up I started to think I can do it, as I heard a massive amount of cheers for me coming from the top. As I crested the top of the hill Gunnar gave me a smack and I could tell his was pretty happy for me and big cheers came from the folks at the top. That was probably the number moment of my cycling life. As I sat the bike to the ground I had to take a minute to slow my heavy breathing from the huge effort, but I was on cloud nine!

After all the excitement of watching folks try to finish the Canton climb we still had a lot of work ahead of us to finish. Boustead Street and then Welsh Way both hurt but I managed my way to the top of both. Two more to go and then I would accomplish my goal! Then we came to Barry/Holt/Eleanor Streets which all made up the second to last climb. This was a monster for me, 100 yards from the top folks dove on to side streets to rest their legs for the rest of the climb up. This is totally legal but I couldn’t let myself do that. I pushed further and further up the hill and I think I felt pain I had never had before. Can I make it, I thought to myself. I could not fail on the next to the last climb! I pushed and I finally made it to the top. It hurt me and I knew it. As I tried to ride a bit and recovery the race organizer Danny Chew said, “Hey 240 lb guy, you make that?” I gathered enough energy to say yes.

The ride from climb 12 to climb 13 had some bonus hills along the way. I say bonus because they were not steep enough to make it into the DD but were painful enough with my worn out legs. A few miles later we started the finial climb as a lady who looked to have been taken some hard core drugs yelled at us from being on the road. I told her to shout up. That defiantly is not my usual personality, I sure the ride was starting to get to me at that point. The first half mile of the climb was manageable however it didn’t end that way. The finish line was atop a steep, steep pitch! I was going to finish I thought to myself. However half way up the final 100 yards I felt pain in my legs like never before and my brain was telling me to STOP! I started to zip zag up the hill just to try and help make it a bit easier, however it didn’t feel like it help much. All of a sudden I heard Gunnar yelling for me that I can do it. Somehow not sure how but I made it to the top. I am well known by many to always be smiling no matter what is going on. Hell I smiled after finishing the Wildness 101 but I had no energy to even do that now. After a few minutes I started to get my breathing calmed down. I did it I thought to myself! I was extremely happy and proud. I can now call myself the heaviest person to EVER finish the Dirty Dozen!

Betsy didn’t do too bad herself. She won ever climb except for one and tied the course record with the highest point’s total. Gunnar since he was unable to really race spent the days riding with her a bunch and supporting her, as well as a side race between him and Mr. Post. Kean and Scott well we lost them somewhere in downtown Pittsburgh. They pulled off to do some Christmas shopping I think. I was a blast of a day. It was great to get to ride and talk to some many cool people and challenge myself at the same time.

Next year, well will see.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finale on the Farm

Finale on the Farm
By J.R. Petsko
Photos at www.NaturesEssencePhoto.com

On Saturday afternoon, cyclocross racers from all around the area headed to the Parks Farm outside of Bruceton Mills, West Virginia for the final WVCXS race of the year. This marked the sixth year for the event and each year the number of competitors taking part has increased. This year was no different as a record number of racers showed up to get their cross fix. A few folks were there to try their hand at their first ever cross race, but the majority was there because they wanted to place well in their respective WVCXS classes.

With much warmer temperatures than the previous year, race #1 competitors gathered at the start line. Race #1 included (as it has all year) the singlespeed, the women, and the masters. GO! Jon Martin (WV Night Club) took the hole shot as he does on many occasions. He was followed closely by the rest of the singlespeed field which included Stephen Rowand (Wamsley Cycles), Montana Miller (Pro Bikes), Morgan Miller (Colorado University) and Justin McKeel. Martin held on strong for the first lap but then an attack came from the Montana Miller ride and Rowand was quick to jump on his wheel. The pace was more than the rest could hold and quickly it was a two-man race. Rowand would attack, Miller would counter. It was like a heavyweight fight watching the two riders go toe to toe. Rowand had the experience of winning the Marilla Cross race earlier this season, in which Miller finished second. However Montana clearly wanted his own win in the 2009 cross season as he attacked with three laps left to go and was able to put a gap on Rowand. Miller would continue to push his fixed gear machine through the remaining laps to take his first series victory of the year. Rowand hung tough in second, followed by Morgan Miller in third. Martin, after his hole shot effort, eventually fell to fourth, and rounding out the top five was Justin McKeel. Despite finishing second on the day, Rowand took home the title of WVCXS singlespeed series champion.

In the women’s race, Betsy Shogren (Cannondale Factory Racing) was looking to make it a clean sweep of WVCXS events in 2009 by trying to capture her fourth win in four tries. However, Kristy Lanier (Dirtbean.com), Emily Moy (WVU Cycling) and Laurie Johnston (WV Night Club) were going to try and have something to say about that first! At the start Shogren found herself mid-pack amongst the singlespeed and masters riders and Lanier was not far behind. However by the third lap Shogren found herself out front of the women and running third overall in the entire field. Things never changed after that. Shogren took the win and the women’s series title. Lanier finished second on the day as Moy and Johnston finished third and fourth respectively.

In the masters race there were points on the line and a series to win as Fritz Kessler (Breakaway Velo) and Joel Harris held the top two spot in series points. At the start Kean Bird took the lead followed by Bob Vernon who was sporting a super cool vintage Whitetail bicycles jersey. Wish I still could find mine. Vernon was seen following Kean for the first few laps but the course was suited for a cross bike and not a mountain bike. This was in Bird’s favor. Bird finished first and captured his first series win of the year. Vernon took second followed by Kessler who used the great ride to claim enough points to take the masters series title. Fourth went to Scott Mabry and fifth was Jeff Bernstein. Sixth went to Joel Harris which gave him the runner-up spot in the series.

Race #2 was the Men’s B and the Clydesdale/Tandem class. From the gun it was Bill “Sticks” Westover (Thick Bikes) and Rob Lochner (Iron City Bikes) out front and riding hard. Westover, who was wearing jeans, was feeling good and turned the screw 25 minutes into the race and dropped Lochner. Behind the two leaders the racing was excellent. Scott Benson, Duncan Oliver (WVU Cycling), Robert Chaney and Danny Welsch (Western Maryland Wheelmen) all took turns battling for the third through sixth position. “Just when you thought someone was gapped and behind you, here they came again”, Welsch said. Westover went on to the win followed by Lochner. Benson was able to push his way to the front of chase pack and score his best finish of the year in third. Oliver, last week’s winner, rallied back after a slow start to finish in fourth. Chaney was fifth followed by Welsch in sixth. On a side note the best race was between Ryan Post (WVU Cycling) and James Braswell (WVU Cycling); the two rode the entire race neck and neck. The crowd was into it just as much as the two riders. In the end Braswell took eighth and Post was ninth. In the series, the top spot went to Oliver followed by Welsch, Benson, Chaney, and Post.

The Clydesdale/Tandem class saw the duo of Betsy and Gunnar Shogren (Cannondale Factory Racing) take their fourth series victory of the year along with the overall series title. Second on the day went to Mike Miller (Miller D.D.S.) which also helped propel him into second in the series.

The final race of the day was the Men’s A class. Series points leader Brad Schmalzer (Bikeman.com) had the series in-hand; all he needed was to finish the event. That was a thankful fact to Schmalzer who had fallen ill with the flu just days before the race. I asked Schmalzer had he thought about not racing: “you couldn’t have kept me away from this race”, Schmalzer said. Behind him in the series there was much left to be decided. Jason Cyr (Cannondale), round number 1 and 4 winner, held a one point lead over Gunnar Shogren (Cannondale Factory Racing) in third. Cyr gave Shogren all he could handle in Davis and he was going to need to do it one more time to hold him off in the series points. Also racing on the day was Gary Rodosta, Gerry Pflug (Speedgoat/SPK), Ed Krall, and Nate Annon (Cannondale/Pathfinder). Montana Miller, Rob Lochner, and Bill Westover also decided to pull double duty by racing their second event of the day.

From the start it was Pflug out front and looking to run away with the race. Pflug has been having a year to remember. With wins in cross, road and XXC racing, to say the newly crowned NUE singlespeed series champion is on fire would be an understatement. However just when it looked like it was going to be a cake walk for Pflug, Montana Miller tried to bridge the gap between the leader and the chase group of six riders. Miller was unable to make the jump but he did launch Shogren out of the chase group to make a successful bid to bridge the gap. All of a sudden it had turned into a two-man race.

For the next forty minutes the two leaders put time into the rest of the field making sure no one else was going to challenge for the win. With just three laps to go Shogren came across the start finish line alone. What had happened to Pflug? “The hills were starting to burn me up”, Pflug said. He had stopped at the pit for a bike change and grabbed his geared bike. The former UCI Police and Firemen World Cycling Champion was back on Shogren’s wheel one lap later and attacked. Pflug’s attack worked as he rode home to victory with Shogren second. Behind the leaders Rodosta was in his own dog fight with Krall. The two riders looked to be in pain as each rider took turns attacking one another. If you remember just one week before Rodosta was in a similar battle with Brad Schmalzer in which Schmalzer got the better of Rodosta. However Rodosta was not about to let history repeat itself and used a great attack on the final lap to take home the third spot. Jason Cyr rounded out the top five with Schmalzer in sixth to clinch his series title!

All in all, it was a great race and a great series! If you have not heard yet, things are going to be bigger in 2010. Check out the new series information at www.ABRAracing.com

Also I want to thank everyone who came out to race and all the folks who helped set up and tear down at each race. Thank you!!

Last but not least I want to thank the series sponsors one last time!
Spoke Art
Pathfinder of West Virginia
Hammer Nutrition

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blackwater Cyclocross was a Miracle!

Blackwater Cyclocross was a Miracle!
By J.R. Petsko

Weeks leading up to the Blackwater Cyclocross was full of excitement for me. I had a vision in my mind of exactly what I wanted the course and the event itself to be like. However, H1N1 had a different idea. The week before the event I was hit hard by the pig flu! Needless to say all my ideas didn't happen, and if it wasn't for the help of all my friends, the race itself probably wouldn't have happened. The morning of the event more than a dozen racers showed up early just to help me setup. Thanks everyone! I owe you all a big one!

One thing did cooperate, and that was the weather! Mid November in Davis, WV you could easily have a foot of snow on the ground, but the racers were all welcomed to town with sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperature. I did have that going for me!

Race #1 saw a large group of racers consisting of the Single Speeds, Women Open and Masters Class. Out front early was a group of five SS riders that included series point’s leader Marc Glass, Steve Rowand (Wamsley Cycles), Joey Riddle (Joey's Bike Shop), Robbie Loehr (Cannondale/Pathfinder of WV) and Steven Nutt. The group looked to be pushing the pace each and every lap. The pain was clearly written on each of their faces. Glass was the first to not be able to continue the hammering pace and Nutt was soon to follow. However, for the final three, it was going to go down to the final lap. Robbie Loehr has a magic touch on his side when it comes to racing Davis; you see Loehr has not lost a SS race there since 2006. That was one record that he was not going to let end on this day. Finding what strength he had left, Loehr put a small gap on Rowand and Riddle and was able to take the Single Speed class victory! Morgantown Cyclocross winner Steve Rowand was second followed by Joey Riddle who made his first appearance at a WVCXS event this year.

The women’s race had another large field that included 11 women racers. The field included Pam Milavec (Steel City Endurance), Emily Moy (WVU Cycling), Laurie Jonston (WV Night Club), Kristy Lanier (Dirtbean.com), Mandi Riddle (Joey's Bike Shop) and series leader Betsy Shogren (Cannondale Factory Racing). As she has at every series event this year, Shogren took off and put her may years of cross racing skills to work. However, behind her a good race was being had for second through fifth. Lanier, in her second ever cross race, was able to hold onto the runner-up spot. She was followed by Riddle in third. Moy riding in her first ever cross race was able to pull out a solid fourth place and Milavec rounded out the top five.

In the Masters division Mike Buchness took the win over Matt Marcus and Cory Smith. Kean Bird took fourth just in front of series rival Fritz Kessler (Breakaway Velo). Kessler however still hold a lead in the series overall and looks to become the first series masters champion after this weekend’s Bruceton Mills Cyclocross.

In race #2 it was the Men's B racers and the Clydesdale/Tandem class out on the course. I sure was disappointed to miss out on racing due to the flu. Out front early was Duncan Oliver (WVU Cycling) but lurking not far behind was the Tandem duo of Betsy and Gunnar Shogren (Cannondale Factory Racing). After the race Gunnar said, "Did we win? I don't remember getting around Duncan?!” You sure did Gunnar. The Shogren Tandem not only won their class but won the Race #2 overall. Impressive! Second in the Clydesdale/Tandem class was Bill Miller and third was Mike Miller (Miller D.D.S).

Even though Oliver was not strong enough to hold off the tandem, he was however able to keep the rest of the B riders at bay. Danny Welsch (Western Maryland Wheelmen) improved on his third place at Marilla Cross by taking second at the Blackwater. Ryan Post (WVU Cycling) rode to a fine third place finish. Fourth went to Robert Issem who was followed by Rob Chaney in fifth.

The final race of the day was the fast guys, the Men's A race. At the starting line was series points leader Brad Schmalzer (Bikeman.com), Andrew McKeegan, Gunnar Shogren (Cannondale Factory Racing), Jason Cyr (Cannondale), Gary Rodosta, Nate Annon (Cannondale/Pathfinder), Robbie Loehr (Cannondale/Pathfinder of WV) and Joey Riddle (Joey's Bike Shop). The pace was hot early with Cyr, Shogren and McKeegan riding together at the front. However Cyr being the local was looking to make good in front of his home crowd. Just 25 minutes in the 60 minute race he leaped off the front and quickly put 30 seconds into Shogren and McKeegan. Shogren lightened his pace some to try and pull back Cyr, which cause McKeegan to fall back.

The three seemed to be locked in their respective positions until about 15 minutes left in the race. All of a sudden Shogren seemed to be pulling Cyr back some and then the unthinkable happened...Cyr was forced to pit with a flat tire. It looked that luck was not smiling on the local but from my point of view it looked as though the flat inspired him to ride even harder. Behind Cyr, the smoke was starting to roll off Shogren who was feeling the effects of winning the B race on the tandem. Shogren said, "My plan was to just sit up a bit and wait for Andrew to bridge up". Shogren later admitted that plan didn't work because as soon as McKeegan bridged he counterattacked and Shogren was unable to match. At the finish Cyr took the win and title of Blackwater Cyclocross Champion. McKeegan was second followed by Shogren. In fourth was Schmalzer who had his hand full all day battling it out with eventual fifth place finisher Gary Rodosta!

The day started off with me wondering how in the world we would get everything done in time for the race, but thanks to you all (my friends) it turned out to be a huge success!

Thanks! Ps.... Series standings have been updated!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Marilla Cross Recap - Record Turnout at Marilla Despite Mud!

Record Turnout at Marilla Despite Mud!

by JR Petsko

photos found at - www.NaturesEssencePhoto.com

On Saturday racers and spectators converged on Marilla Park in Morgantown, WV for the 2nd annual Marilla Cross. The event in its first year had a good turnout of around fifty participates but no one expected the ninety racers to show up on Saturday! Round number three of the WVCXS saw the largest attendance ever for a West Virginia cyclocross race. That fact had everyone pumped all day long.

Race #1 started at 9:30am with a very strong wind but dry and warm temperatures. The start included the Single Speeds, Masters and Women's Open class. Jon Martin (WV Night Club) took the hole shot and early lead but was followed by a pack that included Stephen Rowand (Wamsley Cycle/Team Rowman), Don Powers (Pro Bikes), Montana Miller (Pro Bikes) and series single speed leader Marc Glass (Backyard Bike Club). Mid way though lap number one Martin was pulled back in by the pack and Rowand counter attacked. Rowand, who's first ever cross race was on this very same course one year ago, looked to have made some serious improvement to his cross game after finishing 18th the previous year. His attack looked to be holding. Behind him Powers and Miller were in a battle. Miller, who earned the "Rock Star" award for riding a fixed gear bike in two races, looked strong and was able to just stay ahead of his Pro Bikes teammate. Then Mother Nature decided to show up! The 70 degrees and wind started to change and change fast they did. Rain came. The course had already been a little damp so it did not take long for the circuit to go from not bad to slick! The condition change did not affect Rowand at all as he took home the victory for his class and the first race overall. Miller rode his fixie to a well deserved second followed by Don Powers in third. Jon Martin was able to hold onto forth just in front of co-race director Marc Glass.

As the single speed boys were duking it out more excitement was going on a little ways behind them. Betsy Shogren (Cannondale Factory Racing/Pathfinder/Backyard Bike Club) was putting rubber to the dirt. Shogren had a slow start and found herself somewhere around mid pack at the beginning but now was moving up and moving up quickly. Behind her Traci Rodosta (Desire Title/New Orleans Bicycle Club) was looking strong and was holding off Jackie O'Lantern (Chrissy Buerkle/Speedgoat), Ruth Cunningham (Pro Bikes), Laurie Johnston (WV Night Club), Stacie Truszouski (Steel City Endurance) and Rachel Teodori (Steel City Endurance). It was anyone’s race for the final podium spots behind Shogren. As the laps counted down things settled in for the women as Rodosta and O'Lantern looked to have solid holds on second and third respectively. However the final two podium spots were going to go down to the wire. Cunningham was feeling the pain and worked extremely hard on the final lap to take home fourth in the race and was followed just behind by local Laurie Johnston in fifth!

For the Men's Masters my money was riding on Kean Bird. The start saw Bird, Bob Vernon, Matt Marcus, Bryan Davis, series leader Fritz Kessler (Breakaway Velo) go away together. However my prediction was not to come true after Bird received a early first lap flat. Marcus and Vernon started to pull away from the others and it looked to be a two man race. Vernon is one of those riders that you never know how much they have left in the tank due to his facial expressions never changing. I would hate to play poker against that guy. However Marcus was just barely able to keep Vernon at bay for the class win. Behind them found Bryan Davis in third and Fritz Kessler in fifth. Hats off to Bird who was able to recover after the flat and finish up in fourth place.

As race number two got ready to start, the course had become wet, muddy, slick and fun if you ask me. It was just the kinda conditions you think about when cross racing comes to mind. For this race I was in the action, racing in the Clydesdale/Tandem class. During the same race however the Men's B class would be racing. The race started at a moderate pace that I found to be manageable. Out front was Men's B riders Duncan Oliver (WVU Cycling), Rob Lochner (Iron City Bikes), Danny Welsh (Western Maryland Wheelmen), Robert Chaney, Scott Benson, Mike Maher and Chris Schott. Oliver and Welsh chose mountain bikes for the race due to the muddy course that was degrading lap by lap while Lochner stayed with the cross bike. The mountain bike gave Oliver an advantage in some of the muddy corners but Lochner would even things up on the flat and road sections of the course. Towards the final laps the muddy course became hysterical in sections. The approach to the "Hill of Death" was as slick as the Mon Ice Rink and a mass of spectators made their way to the section to view the carnage. Oliver, however, seemed to be unfazed by the course and took the class win. Lochner finished second followed by Welsh. Rob Chaney took home forth in the Men's B while Scott Benson finished with an impressive fifth.

In the Clydesdale/Tandem class it saw the Tandems school the Clydesdales. I (JR Petsko-Backyard Bike Club)found myself in the lead after the start but it was short lived as those pesky Shogrens and their Cannondale Factory Racing Tandem went flying past me. I was feeling comfortable in second until a mistake in the gravel pit saw the team of Cunningham/Pokrivka (Pro Bikes) go past me as well as well as Rick Plowman. I recover and was feeling good as I passed Plowman and then found myself on the Pro Bikes tandem's rear wheel. Just as I thought I would be able to pass them for second in the class a mechanical! My derailor grabbed a hold of one of the rear spokes and it sent me my flying over the bars. It took what felt like an eternity to get the derailor free of the back wheel and get racing again. By that time the second place tandem was gone. Behind me Mike Miller was able to get around Plowman and moved himself up into the fourth spot. At the finish it was the Shogrens first, Cunningham/Pokrivka second, me third, Miller fourth, Plowman fifth and Craig Weimer sixth. Most fun I had ever had in a race! Great job guys..

At this point the course was a nightmare of mud that seemed fitting for a Halloween race. Up next it was the main event and the folks with all the horse power, the Men's A race. The field had some super fast East Coast cyclocross names in it like Morgantown's own Gunnar Shogren (Cannondale Factory Racing/Pathfinder/Backyard Bike Club), Gerry Pflug (Speedgoat/SPK), Mike Mihalik (Freddie Fu Cycling Team), Justin Pokrivka (Pro Bikes), Jason Cyr (Regional Cannondale Factory Racing), Chris Mayhew (JVB Coaching.com) and don't count out series leader Brad Schmalzer (bikeman.com). There was also some pretty fast local rider lined up at the start like Mike "I'm Not Ryan" Vanderberg, Nate "Ol' school Gunnar" Annon (Pathfinder/Cannondale), Gary Rodosta, Robbie "Shoot 'em up" Loehr, Jacob Brown and Matt Kettering. More fast guys then you can shake a stick at!

The start was super fast and Gerry Pflug wasted no time getting to the front followed by Mihalik. Shogren frond himself in third and was followed closely by Cyr. One lap into the race it looked to be a four horse race out front as they begin to pull away from the other. The once firm ground that we saw at 9am that morning had now become unrecognizable and muddy was everywhere. The traction and but handling was difficult in the easiest spots on the course and in place like the "Hill of Death" it seemed as though it took a super human effort to get to the top. The battle for the lead was just that, a battle. One lap found Shogren in the lead, the next Pflung, and then Mihalik and so on. At about the mid way point things started to widen even more throughout the field and even in the lead group. Pflug and Mihalik had a gap on Shogren and the gap increased even more when Shogren was forced to stop and remove a layer of clothing due to overheating. This then allowed Cyr to take over the third spot. Some riders knew they were out of contention for the day and just had fun with it. Matt Kettering failed on one attempt to make the "Hill of Death" and after he slide all the way to the bottom proceeded to put on a break dancing show for the crowd. Nice moves there Matt. Vanderberg, Annon and Brown where all seen taking drink at the beer stop at the top of the "HOD". Then all of a sudden no more time for games, LAST LAP! Out front Pflug looked to have made the move for the win when a a slight error allowed Mihalik to slip by for the win. Pflug however still finished with a strong second. Shogren, even though it took a few laps, was able to cool down his body temperature and get back around Cyr for the third podium place. Cyr held onto fourth ahead of Justin Pokrivka.

I have said it once and I will say it again. Best time I have ever had at a bike race. My hat goes off to Gary and Marc for all their hard work. It sure showed. Thanks to all the volunteers and the SPECTATORS. You guys brought the event to another level.

Next up on the WVCXS schedule is my very own race the Blackwater Cyclocross on Nov. 14th in Davis, WV. You can register on line now at bikereg.com and the first 40 preregistered get FREE messenger bags from Endura!

Ps... West Virginia Cyclocross Standings Updated

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shogren’s win three, while Kessler wins Vet!

Fayetteville Cyclocross WVCXS #2- October 18, 2009

This past weekend round number two of the WVCXS made its way to Fayetteville, WV. With cold weather and some rain the day before, it was typical cross racing conditions. The course, which encircled Fayetteville City Park, was 1.2 miles long and included two sets of barriers and a ton of twists and turns. The day’s first race included the Vet, Single Speed and Women’s classes. From the beginning, Josh Feazell (WV Night Club/Endura) was out front and charging on his Single Speed. Behind him Marc Glass (Backyard Bike Club) was doing his best not to let him get away. However a slight touch of a cold was not making things any easier for him. Feazell continued his march and 35 minutes into the 40 minute event looked to have things in hand. However, just before getting the cowbell for the final lap, Feazell’s rear tire went flat. There was not much he could do except shoulder the bike and run the last lap in hopes that he had built up enough of a lead to hold off Glass. Glass was starting to look a little stronger in the final few laps and upon hearing the news of Feazell’s misfortune got on the gas. As the final lap ended, Feazell’s flat and run proved to be just what Glass needed to take the Single Speed win.

For the women it was cyclocross veteran Betsy Shogren (Cannondale Factory Team) taking the win. Shogren was able to hold off Kristy Lanier (Dirt Bean) and Laurie Johnston (WV Night Club,). With all three women looking to win the series title, this isn’t the last we have heard about these fast ladies! In the Vet Class (40+) Fritz Kessler (Breakaway Velo), long time friend of the ByBc, was on fire. The Frostburg, MD resident worked with Lanier during the entire race and pulled away from the other racers in his class. Second went to Joey Harris and Steve Haroff respectively.

Race #2 included the always popular men’s B class (sport/beginner) and the Clydesdale/Tandem class. All eyes were on the Shogren’s and their Cannondale Factory Racing Tandem. It had been the hot topic all morning. The folks who had not made it out yet this year were dying to see how they handled the barriers. JR Petsko, (me) (Backyard Bike Club/iPlayOutside.com) took the race’s hole shot and looked strong for lap one but then reality set in and I funneled to the back. With a little bit of a slow start the Shogren’s had some work to do but after three laps they found themselves in the overall lead that they would never relinquish. All and all, they had a clear race except for a little barricade tape found in their rear wheel after the race and an unlucky marking pole that they smashed out on the course.

For the Men’s B class Jeff Hankens took a 35 second lead into the final lap and never let go of it. Behind Hankens was Mark Peet in second with Eric Hawkenberry in third. Chris Clark put in a great ride for his first ever cross race and finished in fourth. Rounding out the top five was Brian Beckett.

Race #3, the final race of the day, was the men’s A race (Experts). From the start, a pack of three riders were off the front which included Gunnar Shogren (Cannondale Factory Team), Brad Schmalzer (Bikeman.com) and Mike “I am not Ryan” Vanderburg. Shogren, with his twenty years of cross racing experience, was too much for the younger riders and began pulling away from the two. However, what he left behind was by far the race of the day. First Vanderburg attacked and was able to gap Schmalzer nicely. It looked as though Vanderburg was going to cruise to an easy second when Schmalzer dug down deep. As the two riders came back together, things looked like they had changed and Schmalzer was running the show. However with two laps to go, Vanderburg attacked one more time and a tired Schmalzer was unable to match. Vanderburg took home second with Schmalzer not far behind in third. In fourth was Andy Forron (New River Bikes). Andy admitted after the race that “I just didn’t have the legs to race with those guys today!” Fifth went Sean Zurek who took home the crash of the day award! Don’t worry, Sean, we have called the tree doctor to check on that oak ya hit. Doctor says the patient is fine!

Next up on the WVCXS schedule is Marilla Cross in Morgantown, WV. The race falls on Halloween so that should bring out all the crazies for the race. After the race Pathfinder of Morgantown is holding their annual “throwdown in Motown,” during which they truck-in snow and have a snowboard rail jam right outside the store. What fun! And of course don't forget about my big cycling bonanza the Blackwater Cyclocross on Nov. 14 in Davis, WV.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My 12 hour race in 1hour and 41 minutes.

This passed weekend I headed down south to Eleanor, WV for the first ever 12 Hours of Eleanor Mountain Bike Race. I was looking forward to just having some fun with the event sense it was a team relay race. Gina and I arrived early the day before just so we could hang out with some friends and give Larry Perkins any help he needed in setting up for the event. We have camped at events so many times that Gina and I have the routine pretty much down top a science. We got the tent up, made the beds, tended to the dogs and I also prepared for the following day. After all that was done we decided to head back out to the interstate to find some dinner. Most of the time races are in the middle of no where and there is not many options on food. The same could also be said for living in Davis, so when CHANGE pops up we like to eat something different. After stuffing myself full of pasta and rice we headed back to the park. As we were driving the heavens opened up and started to dump buckets of water. It was hard to see the road while driving cause it was coming down so hard. THE TENT!!!! The thought popped into my mind. Yes we had the pop-up tent over our sleeping tent but we didn't put the rain fly on. UGH! The last 2 or 3 miles of the drive I couldn't help but imagine what state are sleeping bags and blankets were in. We had just learned the weekend before after a large rain that the pop-up was starting to get worn out and was starting to leak.

As we pulled up to the tent if it was even possible it seemed as though it was raining even harder. I bolted over to the tent to check and noticed right away a large puddle had formed under the front of the tent. $@&*$^! Gina and I through the rain fly on top of the tent as fast as we could. Afterwards I opened up the tent to look inside. Minimal damage at the most. Thank goodness! We dodged a bullet on that one. The rain never let up so we decided to move our tent into the barn for the rest of the weekend. Note to anyone camping to at upcoming Creek to Peak points race. CAMP IN THE BARN! Besides all the bird poop is was pretty sweet.. Really! As we sat around drinking a brew or two watching the rain outside we were so happy to have moved the tent.

The next morning I was awoken way to early at 6:30am by the sound of yelling kids and pigs?! The night before there were no pigs or kids around so what the hell was going on. Well I came to learn that from the hours of 7am - noon the barn was going to be used to TAG the ears of livestock. As 7am drew nearer a line of pickup trucks and trailer form about 10 deep. Each 4x4 had at some kinda farm animal on board. It was like going to the petting zoo. I saw pigs, goats, cows, sheep and more mullets then I could count. Gunnar would have been in heaven. Lets say however the animals were not to happy to have a hole punched through their ear for there number tag. I said to myself, thank goodness the Shogrens are not hear. As registration started you would every once in a while hear a scream of a little piggy getting tagged. Very interested registration to say the least.

Notice the cow in the back, Photo by Theresa Svoboda

Lucky was not happy with the livestock

Finally all the drama was over and it was time to get down to some racing. I was headed out first on the course for my three man team and was super ready to get going. As the race began it was clear that all the rain for the last two week was going to make for a muddy race but things were not all that bad. My team mate Steve Thorne and I rode much of the first lap together. I struggled a little in the mud to keep up but I have never been the best in that type of conditions. 1 hour and forty one minutes later I completed my first lap. That was just a minute long then I had thought it would take so I was pretty happy. I handed off to my friend Darren Bennett who I had talked into doing the race the week before. I think Darren was pretty excited about doing the race as he headed out.

Steve and I, ready to race

I then started to eat and drink for the next lap that I would do, which I was gussing was going to be in 4 hours. Darren was fit but didn't race much XC so I figured 2 hours for his lap and the same for are third team mate Philip Poff. I ate and then I ate some more. The tank was full and I was ready to head out again but Darren had not returned yet. It had only been 2 hours so he should be hear anytime. At about 2 hours and 20 minutes his girl friend started to worry. I didn't show it much concern just figured Darren was having a little trouble with the conditions. Little did we know at the time the course was starting to turn into a peanut butter like consistence. At hours and thirty minutes Darren showed from the woods. He looked tired and was cover with mud. He handed of to Phil and Darren didn't say to much.. The look on his face said it all. He was tired.

Is a front chainring meant to look like this?

SO phil was on the course by 4:11 PM and that meant at around 6:00 I needed to be ready to go. I ate some more and drank some more. Got the bike all ready and was now just waiting. With some extra time I decided to take a few photos out on the course. The trails was really starting to fall apart. Even walking was becoming extremely hard. As riders made their way past me the before happy and excited racers looked tired and dejected. The course is 10% ridable one person said to me. UGH! I thought. At 6:00 I started to get ready. I paced around with excitement for my next lap. I knew it was going to be hard by the look of the other riders coming in. At 6:30 no Phil.. Ah, he will be here soon. At 7:00, no Phil. By this time riders were pushing what was left of there bike in from their laps. Broke derailors, one broke frame, and more mud the you could imagine. 7:15 and still no Phil. By this time the thought of heading out in that crap was not looking like fun and everyone around me was also questioning it. Also teams were quiting left and right. 7:30 and no Phil. At this point he had been out there for over 3 hours. I was feeling his pain and I had almost no excitement left about going back out. At 7:40 Philip came out of the woods. He was barely turning the pedals and just looked worked over. I waited for him back in hand at the transition area. As he came up he said,"Dude you don't want to go out there". He stated that it looked like a war zone out on the trails. He said people were laying against tree worn out and out of food.

Just a little mud out there

I was torn. I wanted to ride but that didn't sound like any fun at all. After a minute or two I said the hell with it and headed out on my bike. As I rolled out I people yelled at me that I was crazy. Phil was ride, the trails were a mess. I had to push a few hill and it was so muddy it locked up the back hill pulling the bike up hill. After about 2 miles I had enough and headed back. It was getting dark and I had not interest in pushing my bike at night. Best choice I made all day. The only bad thing was that I had spent all day eating to deep my energy up for the race. With only doing one 12 miles lap it was a waste. Feeling kinda fat today. Need to ride a lot this week. Lets hope Tour de Lake is going to be dry this weekend.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Morgantown Road Race revisited!

It sure seems like it went from being the cycling off season to the thick of things in the blink of an eye. In the last three weeks I have raced two more times and promoted one road race. Been busy to say the least, and that doesn't even take in consideration all the work to get WVMBA Series up and running for the year lol!

So where to start? Tonight I will start with the MRR and in the nights to follow maybe something about the races I did. Well, round number one of the West Virginia Road Race Series (WVRRS) was my event the Morgantown Road Race. I was pretty happy in the weeks leading up to the race because preregistration had been going very week and with a few days before the event 63 riders had already signed up. With just 10 more riders signing up the day of the race it would be bigger then any other road race held in the state the year before. I was excited!

The day before and the morning of the event it had been rain. Because I use spray chalk and not paint I was unable to mark the course before registration started. At first I was not very concerned because I just planned to headed out before the first riders to get it done. THEN THINGS GOT NUTS! Before I knew it the line at registration was 20 people deep. At first I was like cool, good turnout. Then an hour later the line was longer then when we started. I looked down at the computer and it said 120 registered so far. WTF! Thank goodness for Gunnar.

Gunnar and I controlling the masses!

He was able to take over the job of explaining to the race volunteers what they needed to do for the event. That made a huge difference. About 2 hours after opening registration we had a final total of 160 racers! I was beside myself, and getting more gray hair by the minute. Maybe it was because it was an early season race and everyone was just happy to be outside but everyone was super about waiting on the delayed start time and the long lines.

And they're off!

Look at all them folks! UGH!

After getting all 160 people to the start line it was time to get things under way. CRAP! The course still is not marked! I jumped in the car and drove 55 mph on the back roads of WV & PA to stay in front of the pack. I also dropped Gina off at one of the intersection to direct traffic. Some how I made it around the 50 mile course and got it all marked but it only took the first finisher about 15 minutes to cross the line after I pulled in the parking lot from marking the course. Damn that was a near miss!

We did have a little problem with results but some how we pulled it off. To this day I am still getting email about how great the race was.. Go figure.. There was however one HUGE problem! Gina got left out on the course for like three hours after the last rider passed hour. Ya it will be sometime before I live that one down. With all the craziness of trying to get the results done I total forgot about her. But beside that everything went well. Well enough in fact that it has helped the registration for the June 6th Tour of Tucker County Road Race. Many folks have already signed up for it as well. That night I went how and must have asked myself how that got pulled off. Thanks for all the help before and after the race BYBC! You guys & gals are the best.

People I want to thank!
Nars - License holding BYBC member
Bunny - License holding BYBC member
Chrissy - License holding BYBC member
Ruth "R.C." Cunningham - License holding BYBC member
Jacob Brown
Gina Desmond
Chris Nichols - Card carrying BYBC member
My mom & sister
Robbie's Dad
Photos by Dan C. Thanks!
Darren Bennet
Mandy Starr
Matt Marcus for picking up the lost Gina!
Maddisan Starr
Ashlon Smith
Carrie Hawkins
Mike Miller
Twilla Miller
Bonnie A.
Ryan Post
Mikey "sirianni's Cafe" Goss
WVU Healthcare Cycling Team
Blackwater Bikes
Hammer Gel
Wamsley Cycles
Boston Beanary
Black Bear Burritos
Blue Moose Cafe
Mount Morris Volunteer Fire Dept.
Mason Dixon Park

If I forgot someone let me know! I am really sorry!