Today On A Bike

2014-09-24 17.11.48-2The fall is always a weird time for me and cycling.  I am usually a little burnt out from the MTB and road season that started back in January.  After racing the Chequamegon fat 40 a few weeks ago, I’ve spent less time on a bike in an effort to not burn myself out.  Today’s cross practice was a lot of fun and re-energized me a bit for the season!

2014-09-24 17.30.14 2014-09-24 17.48.07

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I Love My Honda Element

MJ5L1932I love my Honda Element, so much so that I’m on my second one.  I previously had a 2006 4WD and sold it to buy another car but less than a year later, I knew I needed another one.  Why?  Versatility!

I love that I can set up a comfortable sleeping quarter and or transport and store bicycles inside.  Bike locks are great, storing a bicycle inside of a car is better in my opinion.  You can fold the rear seats into the sides of the vehicle and have something close to a box van, and if that’s not enough, you can remove the rear seats all together with a push of a button.
MJ5L1979The rear of Elements can function like other vehicles.  Dad Mode.
MJ5L1953I can fold one seat up into the side and put a bike inside (with the front wheel on) for transport or storage.
MJ5L1975I have camped in my Element more than a few times and really enjoy it!  With a good air mattress it’s often better than most other temporary sleeping arrangements.  The floor of Elements are completely flat which makes things much easier and more comfortable.  I used to put an air mattress directly on the floor with a sleeping bag like this.
MJ5L1961I have recently started placing my air mattress on top of the folded down front and rear seat.  This is more comfortable and provides more storage under the folded down seats.
MJ5L1965 MJ5L1963Here you can see how there are no B pillars in Elements making accessing anything easy.
MJ5L1974To gain even more space while sleeping I often lock my bike on the hitch rack.
MJ5L1940I love that my Element automatically switches to all wheel drive when the front wheels lose traction!  It’s proven more capable than I’ve thought in past situations.  This thing gets me to the snow ride when it counts!
MJ5L1983 I love my Element!  I love my Honda!
MJ5L1984

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2014 Sufferfest Colorado Trip

Crested Butte Paradise Valley PinkThis past weekend I joined some great friends for a Colorado mountain bike trip.  We spent time in Crested Butte and other surrounding areas.  The trip was filled with high mountain rides, great company, and beautiful views.  The climbs were long and the descents a combination of awesome and challenging!

Reno Flag Bear Deadman Trail – Garmin Data
2014-08-29 12.08.51-3 2014-08-29 13.51.13 2014-08-29 14.43.39Taking a break we meet a local.
2014-08-29 13.57.56-2 2014-08-29 15.02.26 2014-08-29 14.49.30 2014-08-29 16.07.52Our Condo in Crested Butte was great!
2014-08-30 07.45.08Dr. Park Trail – Garmin Data
This year I rode all the way from the bottom to the top.  The climb starts on tarmac, turns into a dirt road, then double track, and lastly single track.
2014-08-30 11.14.19This creek crossing is where we started riding up last year after taking a shuttle.  It was really cool to be there again.
2014-08-30 11.35.45 2014-08-30 12.31.49 After the climb to the top you transverse through some woods until the decent starts.
2014-08-30 13.25.44 2014-08-30 13.42.11The last section of Dr. Park is more arid and filled with fun switchbacks and tech.
2014-08-30 14.06.07 2014-08-30 14.12.06After riding that night I joined a friend to take some pictures in the mountains.  The first and last picture of this post come from setups like this.
2014-08-30 19.48.12Monarch Crest Trail – Garmin Data
The Monarch Crest ride was amazing and brutal.  The ride starts at over 11,000 feet of elevation and was just under 30 miles and 3,300 feet of climbing.  The ride was filled with riding above the treeline and technical descents.  I found new meaning to the word bonking on this ride.
2014-08-31 11.02.56 2014-08-31 10.57.50 2014-08-31 11.00.08The views were stunning!
2014-08-31 11.11.23 2014-08-31 11.26.49The descents were really fun!
2014-08-31 12.30.11-4I found myself in trouble during a quick wiggle during a fast section and I donated a touch of blood to Colorado.
2014-08-31 13.21.41Kenosha To Georgia Pass – Garmin Data
This was the last and biggest ride of the trip.  I took a bail out after descending Georgia Pass.  The climb up to Georgia Pass was the biggest climb I’ve ever done and the descent was the most technical and hardest trail I’ve ever seen.

We grabbed lunch on the top of a rock half way up to Georgia Pass.
2014-09-01 11.10.30The view from Georgia Pass was vast and impressive!
2014-09-01 12.35.47The descent (at least the parts I didn’t walk) were great!
2014-09-01 11.57.39-4 2014-09-01 03.50.05-3The trip was tough and really enjoyable!  I can’t wait to go back to Colorado!
Crested Butte Paradise Valley Purple

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2014 Bloomington Criterium

20140823_174902_IMG_2320This weekend I raced in the second annual Bloomington Criterium.  This year the event was made the Illinois state championship criterium.  I love that Bloomington Normal has a local triathlon race, mountain bike race, cyclocross race, and a criterium!  Just thinking about the local awesomeness makes me smile.  A big thank you to the race director Brandon Beehner, the volunteers, and all of the sponsors that made it happen!

20140823_161007_IMG_1834When I watched last years local crit from the sideline I was hooked.  The speed and tactics made it look like a lot of fun!  Earlier this year I did my first criterium to get my feet wet before the local crit.  As I’m new to racing crits I went into the state championship in category 5, something I previously tried to be moved out of but USA Cycling has strict rules about new crit racers.  My Bloomington Cycle & Fitness teammates and I worked well together and we had a large presence in my races and most other races as well.  In my Cat 5 race, I went into the last lap in fourth behind a very strong teammate and after he pulled me up half of the climb on the back straight I jumped off the front and laid it all on the line.  No point to hold anything back, and when I finished my sprint at the finish line, I found I was alone and in first place.  It felt amazing.  I was and still am a bit shocked.  I have to thank my teammates for working for me in the race and helping me be in the shape I am in, Scott & Caryn from Bloomington Cycle & Fitness for being awesome and taking care of everything bike related I need, and especially my wife for allowing me to spend probably too much time on a bike.

My amazing wife and I took a few (164) pictures of the races.  Click the link to see them all!

READ MORE & FULL GALLERY >>

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Lee McCormack Skills Clinic

2014-08-16 18.11.13This weekend I joined a group of friends for a skills clinic with the talented Lee McCormack.  Lee is a devoted rider, award-winning writer, self-proclaimed “decent racer”, and instructor.  Some of my best cycling friends have had previous skills clinic sessions with Lee and when the idea of having him come to Illinois to put on a local clinic was presented, I was in!  The day was bittersweet because I had an incredible time and gained a lot of knowledge and practicable skills but the good friend who set up the clinic was unable to attend due to an injury.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical of what I would get out of the experience, not because of Lee’s skills, experience, or ability to teach techniques, but rather I doubted my ability break bad habits that have become second nature over the years.  It wasn’t long into the clinic that I realized this was probably the best money I’ve ever spent on cycling.  Concepts and theory that I’d only thought over were quickly put into physical practice allowing my body to safely experience these techniques.

We practiced a range of skills including cornering, weighting the bike, drops, and worked with rock gardens and other technical features.  Some things like cornering were skills I thought I had down before the session but it was eye-opening how much improvement was on the table when following Lee’s mountain bike Kung Fu!  I by no means have all of these skills dialed in after this one day session, but I feel like I have the tools and knowledge I need to continue to make progress.

We rode and sessioned a variety of trail and features at Farmdale in Peoria Illinois.  The drops, jump sections, downhill course, and other features make practicing a variety of skills easy and enjoyable.
2014-08-16 15.57.012014-08-16 11.24.13 2014-08-16 15.30.09Lee talked us over the technical features of the trail and showed us how to cleanly traverse them.  I found this very helpful as it allowed me to watch, process, and attempt myself.  I heard times when Lee would give the encouraging feedback that a rider had demonstrated the skills needed to nail the feature at hand and also when a rider should practice a skill in a safer manner until it is dialed in for consistency.  I really liked that I could put honest trust in him as he wasn’t a “you got it” guy.  When Lee said I had something, I trusted him, and that made a lot of difference to me.

2014-08-16 14.28.08 2014-08-16 16.21.14 2014-08-16 13.05.11 2014-08-16 15.02.15My new Stumpjumper has been great so far.  The ride is plush and the trail-oriented geometry provides confidence and soaks up my mistakes.
2014-08-16 15.56.14The group all seemed to take a lot away from the day.  I half jokingly said that if I could do the four plus foot drop in the skills area by the end of the day I’d be overwhelming happy with the day.  Others and I were doing this about an hour and a half into the day.  Furthermore, I wasn’t just hucking my bike off the ledge and hoping for the best.  I felt completely in control and confident in my ability.  Seriously different feel and experience from how I’ve felt in the past.
2014-08-16 11.29.00 2014-08-16 14.28.16-1By day’s end I was extremely happy with my progress and what I had learned.  Lee is a seriously fast and talented rider.  He is a great teacher and is very easy to work with.  He can explain and translate theory to you with demonstrations on your local terrain.  That was huge for me.  He evaluates your ability to safely and successfully attempt new skills which providing confidence.  I’d highly recommend working with Lee if you have the opportunity.  For me after today, it’s not a matter of if but when I’ll be signing up for more.
2014-08-16 15.31.59For more info about Lee McCormack and his books and classes you should check out his site http://www.leelikesbikes.com/

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