Sunday, April 29, 2012

Belleville Criterium Cycling Race Cat 4/5

Belleville Cycling Criterium  30min. + 5 laps

Category 4/5

4th Place/50

First cycling race of the season. The day started out kind of rough. On the drive down I hit a storm and it was still raining at the course site when I showed up.  Once my race came around the course for the most part was dry which was a relief.  The race was 30 min. + 5 laps, which means we races on the crit course for 30 min then once the 30 min was up it was a 5 lap race.  I did my share of work in the group took a couple breaks and pulled a couple laps as well. I wanted to stay up in the top 10 the entire race, one I new I was strong enough to and I wanted to stay out of trouble i.e. crashes, which happened twice.  Both crashes happened just to the outside of me which a sight to see. They were both close calls and I was lucky but in this sport there is quite a bit of luck because you just never know what the rider next to you is going to do. Going into 5 laps to go I was sitting too far back for my liking so I pushed hard on a downhill postion while others just kind of rested.  Pulled back up in the top 3 and sat there till the last lap. 2 or 3 guys flew by me on the downhill portion and I bridged them quickly because I knew that the race was going to be in the uphill portion.  Going into the last sharp curve I could feel a crash coming on and sure enough "the big one" happen.  This sharp curve had been causing problems all day for riders, its a very sketchy curve with a slick brick crosswalk and it was still slick from the rain so when the back tires hit it the bike sometimes jumped out.  Thankfully I took the curve on the inside and crash pushed outside.  There were 3 guys still way off the front so it was a race for 4th.  Going into the uphill portion I knew the race going to be won there so I pushed hard but so did 2 others.  They were still ahead of me going into the final curve and the final sprint stretch.  I grabbed their back wheel and waited till I was about 75 meters out and wnet for it.  I threw in a sprint but I feel it was kind of half assed.  I guess the two guys in front of me were gassed.

Overall, it was a great morning of racing.  All things considered Im happy with a 4th place.  Its only my fourth cycling race ever and I am still considered a cat 5 racer which is considered a "beginner" I sure dont feel like a beginner, I train with cat 2-3 guys on a weekly basis and the training rides are much much harder than the races.  This particular race was a combination of cat 4 and 5's so it had a mixture of beginners and more experienced riders.  So for me to pull off a 4th place finish is good in my book.  Some of these guys have been racing for years and years and this is there main event. I do this sport as a secondary sport and I dont race often.  After the race I was talking to a couple of guys that congradulated me and asked me how many races Ive done and I told them only 4 in my life time, they were floored.  So I must be doing something right. Its a scary fast sport that has a great adrenaline rush and great benefit for my stair climbing and running. Ive got about 8 or so races scheduled this summer so well keep theball rollin and hopefully I can "cat up" meaning move up in category or experience as a rider and get into some more competitive races.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stair Climbing "Off Season"

Since the stair climbing year goes into an "off-season" during the summer in the U.S. I have to find something to do during the summer to keep me fit.  I am kind of in a rotation the past few years of alternating and focusing on biking and running.  This summer just so happens that Im motivated to bike.  Last summer I focused on running and had a great summer of racing but come fall my stair climbing legs I think werent quite where I wanted them to be going into the Willis Tower race.  So this summer I am going to focus on cycling, all summer long while still maintaining 10-20 miles of running a week.  Cycling legs = stair climbing legs no doubt about it.   So if you were wondering how I am going to train this summer, miles and mile and more miles and races on the bike.  As well as a little backwards running.  Possibly going for a couple world records in backwards running, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

From a couple summers ago.  2nd place in Peoria Crit
Sprint for first, unfortunately I got 2nd
                                                                                   Tuesday night sprint ride

2012 Presidential Towers Stair Climb

2012 Presidential Towers

2012 Presidential Towers Stair Climb
4 x 45 Floors=180 floors
1st Place
15:41 (New Course Record)
Splits: 3:28, 3:59, 4:05, 4:08

Another great weekend of racing in Chicago in the bag.  This was the final race for me until November when I tackle the Willis tower once again.  One factor of this racing scene that sits heavy on my mind is my points total as of right now going into an unofficial off season of stair climbing for me.  In the U.S. there aren’t very many stair races in the summer.  Yet in Europe their climbing season is in full swing.  To be competitive points wise on I had to build my points as much as possible so that the Europeans couldn’t gain ground in the summer time when Im not racing.  With the new factor points and ranking system I feel it favors the Europeans more.  I say this because for one there aren’t as high of factor races over here in the US as there are in Europe.  Granted they may have a deeper field of competitive athletes in races across the board but that’s not to say some of the best in the US couldn’t compete if not win over in Europe.  While all of the master races over here in the US are 1.5 factors with the exception of ESBRU which is a 2.5 factor, most of the races over in Europe turn up factors of 2.0.  As a top athlete in the US in this stair climbing sport I have earned 666.6 points heading into my hiatus until November.  I feel this total might not hold up come August.  I am so concerned about this because usually in August they select the top 3 ranked in the world for an all expenses pain trip to Bogota, Columbia where the World Cup Championships are held.  I would love more than anything to compete there at that race with that type of competition.  So far this season my only downfall that would hold me back from competing there is my results at the Empire State Building Run Up where I finished a disappointing 17th.  I didn’t receive the amount of points needed to build a more comfortable lead over my European friends.

None the less against all this I feel I have had a stellar season as of yet.  This will be my first full year of stair climbing as well.  In my first full year of racing I have…

2012 Stair Climbing as of yet

2nd Place         300 Lasalle Tower                            Chicago, IL                 58 floors
1st Place          Bop to the Top                                  Indianapolis,IN          37 floors
1st Place          Bop to the Top (Triple)                    Indianapolis,IN          3x37 floors
1st Place          AON Chicago                                      Chicago,IL                  80 floors
17th Place       ESBRU                                                New York, NY             86 floors
1st Place          Oakbrook Terrace                            Oakbrook, IL              36 floors
1st Place          Oakbrook Terrace (Triple)              Oakbrook,IL               3x36 floors
1st Place          Springfield Hilton                              Springfield,IL             32 floors
1st Place          Springfield Hilton (Ultimate)            Springfield,IL             32 floors…
1st Place          Hustle Up the Hancock                     Chicago, IL                 94 floors
1st Place          Presidential Towers                         Chicago, IL                 180 floors

The Race

Heading into the race I felt very confident and comfortable.  During my warmup my legs felt great and I felt like I was in a good frame of mind to compete that day.  Last year I finished second to Jesse Berg.  Last year this race was only my third race ever in the new sport.  This year I feel that I am twice as strong as last year and the times showed that.  Last year I finished in 17:01, this year I finished in 15:41, a huge jump.  In this race I had the number 1 bib which meant I was first to go up.  I was fine with this but I knew I had to keep the pace moving not knowing what the others where doing behind me.  Going into the first tower of 4 I wanted to keep a good tempo but nothing all out.  With a time of 3:28 for the first tower I think I acheived this, not too fast but just fast enough to keep things moving.  Got done with tower 1 and I was feeling good.  Took the elevator down and got the start line of the second tower, took 3 minutes or so to rest then got after it.  I went up the second tower first as well.  I wanted to be under 4 minutes.  I knew it was going to be hard to stay under 4 but I just wanted to stay on a good tempo and push the last 10 floors.  Finished in 3:59.  Heading into the third tower was a longer run portion before you enter the tower staircase.  Jesse Berg went first then I went.  I sprinted the run part because I knew I could make up time on this part.  Passed Jesse even before we got into the staircase.  Just stayed mentally tough on this tower because it really started hurting half way up.  Finsihed in 4:05 Headed into the last tower starting to feel it but I knew Jesse was close in time and I past years have shown he is strong in the last tower.  The last 15 floors of 45 really started to hurt and I was shutting down, just grinded it out to the finish.  Finished the 4th and final tower in 4:08.  15:41...I saw that and was in disbelief.  I was in more disbelief when I realized Jesse was only 2 seconds behind me with 15:43.  We really brought out the best in each other this race. 

It was so nice in Chicago later that day I decided to go to the beach to get in a run, a 7 mile run that this.  Really felt great.