Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Border Battle WORS #8 2011

The Last two weeks of racing have been amazing with plenty of podium time in the family!  I been a bit busy getting ready for school starting this week, so I am a week behind on posts, will have this past Sundays race report up soon!

2 weekends ago was the Border Battle in River Falls, Wisconsin.  Awesome event which brings together both the Minnesota and Wisconsin State series to see who’s who in a friendly State Rivalry.

My daughter Asa did her first race at the Border Battle.  Those Monday night rides we run must be paying off because she made the podium and rode almost everything on course.



Check out “The Look” right away in this video of the Junior start climb.  These little ones put on number plates and all the sudden they start making all-star moves and gestures!



My race went pretty well.  Thanks to Claire Cannon @ WORS I got a nice little write up in cyclingnews.

Here is a video from Pro/Cat 1 start climb.

Here  is how the climb sorted out. Mike Phillips demolished the start climb and obviously from the picture below I was just focused on staying with that back wheel.  Brian Eppen and I were able to follow and we made a 3 man lead group for 1/2 a lap.


After 1/2 a lap there was a steep rocky service road and the pace slowed a bit going up, so either someone is hurting or just checking to see who made the break.   I took the lead to see which it was and kept the pace high. 

This course is single-track heavy, with sharp turns, short punchy inclines, and blind corners all over.  I saw small gaps forming behind me as I ramped up out of each corner.  I just kept it pinned wherever possible to not let anyone settle into a comfortable rhythm/pace. 

To win the way I did was somewhat new to me and I learned a lot from this experience.  Coming up the ranks  I used to win a few cat 3, 2, and 1 races, but many times the moves were very decisive, even the Pro Wins I have were 1 and done type moves.  Those wins took less gauging of  my competition as to whether they were hurting or simply just wearing me out at the front only to be spit out the back.  With the competition so close this year in our State Series I am realizing it takes a well trained and perceptive eye to  know when and how to apply pressure that counts.

After 1 lap it was down to just Mike and I, but I figured he was just hanging on as the 1-3 second gaps kept happening, so when we hit the start  climb I punched it full gas.  


This was the story every lap but the gaps were slowly growing from 1-3 seconds to 3-5 then 10 seconds etc.   Each time up the  2 big climbs I would hit it as hard as I could and the gap would widen just a bit.  Mike is an amazing technical rider though, especially descending and he kept the pressure on high every time we came down this new section of off camber undulating single track, just when I thought I was alone I would hear “click'” “CLICK” of shifters, and knew I had to keep it on the rivet!  He was always within sight for 3 full laps.  Going up the climb on lap four I finally looked back with no adventure 212 colors in sight.  I rode hard but assured the W was mine without any mishaps.


Check out that wooden berm, high speeds and flowing single track is what this course is all about, one of the best on the circuit!


After a couple of missed opportunities these last few races I finally was able to pull it off!




As always thank you so much to all my sponsors linked over there on the right, none of this would be possible without your support!

Stay tuned for Reforestation Ramble write up very soon!

Thanks for reading,


Photo Credit: Amy Dykema, Gary Frost, Niki Frazier, XTRPhoto

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ore to Shore 2011


After coming in fourth in a 6 man Sprint for the Win last year, I was really motivated for the Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic this year.  It is a “point to point” race and these can be termed semi-road races with all the fire roads/atv trails, but Ore to Shore is a rough and rugged mountain bike race!  I really wish I would have worn some sort of camera for the race.  A video edit could give you an idea of what we actual traverse through this 48 mile course.  Throughout the course a rider pretty much has to take their bike through every kind of obstacle or terrain the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has to offer.  Rock faces, Iron mine gravel roads that paint your bike and tires red for days to come, sand pits covering huge lengths of the course, un-groomed/slightly cut grass fields and service roads with hardly discernable trail strewn with  hidden bumps, 30 mph+ descents into valleys, giving way to climbs through sand at 5 mph with tires slipping and competitors all around fighting for the best line and position.  Beautiful back country paved roads descending and ascending through and around some of the U.P.’s most amazing lakes, streams, and rivers.  Finally dropping into the Noquemanon ski trails where we descend from the most amazing outlook peering over Marquette and lake Superior 10-15 miles in distance, but the race is full-on from here taking each and every descent and corner to the extremes our bikes can handle.. 

This Race is simply Epic and I cannot praise the course enough, it is both a challenge of physical strength and smart racing tactics, while being one of the most aesthetically pleasing rides one could ever take.  Although the aesthetics are merely an addition to the adrenaline of battle, especially when 10-15 of the fastest Mountain bikers in the mid-west are fighting for the honors of fitting in the first out of three Jewels in the Mid-West Triple Crown Events…Oh Yea and one of the biggest prize money checks around helps a bit too.

My race “weekend” actually started on Wednesday when my wife Lindsay, the kids, and I traveled up to Ishpeming, MI to stay with the Gauthier’s.  This is an amazing family and we have truly found some kindred spirits and what feels like extended family.  Huge thanks to Tyler, Lance, Diane and the rest of the family for all your help and getting accustomed to the area.  Tyler and I did some recon of the first 10-15 miles both Wednesday and Friday.  Thursday we scoped out the last 10-15 miles from the overlook, during all these rides we planned some possible attack spots and marked places to make sure to be up front to avoid mishaps.

Saturday morning it was up early to a hot Breakfast of Potatoes and eggs “Guerra Style” as Danny K. likes to say!  Getting ready to improve on the Number 4 plate I earned last year…


Preferred Start had me at the front line and the top ten were all representing.  Here is a sweet Video taken by MQT Photo on the back of the lead out vehicle.  You can see most of the top contenders in the shot as we barrel out of downtown Negaunee, T.J. Woodruff, Derek Graham, Brian Eppen, Darrin Braun, to the left…Mike Anderson, Tristan, Matter, Tyler Gauthier and I are toward the right.  Almost every big name from the Midwest plus a few others are in the line-up!

All I really cared about for the first few miles was to stay upright with such a huge mass of people.  Lucy hill was the first challenge and being positioned within the top ten going in was the goal.  “Lucy” is a luge sledding hill we climb straight up for the first race split.  I made the climb well within my limits and proceeded to work  my way to 2nd wheel as we left the dirt for a few moments going into the streets of Downtown Ishpeming.  I led into the infamous railroad track section as it forces everyone to go single file and tends to push riders into the bushes or onto the ground and I did not want to be behind any misfortune. 

Plan was to be at the front into the descent right before the powerline climb, the first real make it or break it selection makers.  Simonster seemed to have the exact same plan as he jumped a bit harder than I did for the lead going in…I gave a shout of encouragement to push the pace and tried to ride the fast lines uphill, but Simonster is a big dude, hence the name, and he rides in this awesome all over the bike masher style, so getting around him was not happening on the initial climb.  I got around eventually on a jedi knight/ninja line I created and Matter and Cole house went to the front a bit later as we crested the final powerline climb.  Looking back I played it pretty safe here and never really attacked as it seemed we had many in tow but I was not able to come into the initial climb with the speed I had wanted. Not sure it makes much of a difference this early in the race with so many contenders in tow.

So I was still pretty comfortable and having fun on the descent following Matter as he seemed to be feeling good and content to play around on the course doing little jumps and jives here and there as I commented on him seeming to like the New 2012 XR1 Tires he picked up at Trek World. 

Powerline is the first place I know I am strong and nothing really went down to break up the pack from any big contenders so I was patient and waited till the “Jungle”..a section of untamed nature, lacking any real discernable line, you just survive descending at crazy speeds through bumps, grass, and sandpits, only to ascend like snails fighting both riders and obstacles for lines that make little sense to your oxygen depraved body. 

I thought I was going to have a bottle hand up before this section and was already out of water…I went to the back and tried getting one of those tiny water cups at an aid station as we cruised by at 25 MPH, yea right…!  I felt kind of bad for the volunteers as I knew my frustration and failed reception was the first of many showers that the gray hair of the local American Legion was going to receive.  We started into the Jungle and I was on the back…so much for attacking.  I spent the whole section making my way back to the front and then it was misery hill, everyone says it cannot be ridden and here is a video to show why…

T.J. led into the climb and made an attempt to clean it…I did as well, but riders were off in front of me.  We suffered the slow sluggish hike a bike to the top without unlatching anyone in the long run, still 10-15 strong, including my good friend Tyler Gauthier, which was awesome to see!

After seeing this “Misery” hill 3 times now I was convinced it could be done.  On the Sunday after the race I rode the course from about the half-way point backwards.  The hill had nothing to do with why I rode the course but when I rode down misery I turned right around and cleaned it first try.  So, in the future it could be coined “victory hill”…  During a race though, well that is a different story…lots of factors thrown in during a race.

From here our lead group crossed this huge bridge going over a beautiful basin.  I saw my kids on the bridge cheering and Lindsay was up the road positioned perfect for a great water hand-up. To my surprise some attacks started to fly on the road climb, I was feeling very comfortable and really did not feel any of it as a threat until Mike Phillips went to the front in the Noque Trails.  I knew this was the moment as Simonson told Tristan and I to come by as he fell off a wheel.  We were descending and people were dropping  like flies, yea it was Ludicrous speed fast, trees blurring and all.  When Mikey got done, T.J. and one other were still just hanging a few wheel lengths back from me, but Cole and Tristan were a little off the front following Matter and Mikey looked like he was slipping after putting the hammer down for so long.  I had to sprint to close the gap and it looked to me like the selection of 4 was made as the other 3 were chasing hard and I knew the overlook climb was coming. 

Hit that climb at your limit and anyone ahead with momentum and speed going over it will be out of sight.  I was planning on being the aggressor here, but Matter had the same plan and led over.  I went to the front and was hoping the group had whittled down to 3, but Cole and Tristan were both there, so I shut it down.  From here it was all cat and mouse games and I kept wasting precious energy chasing Matter’s and Tristan’s attacks from the back instead of setting up launches of my own, rookie....  I was feeling amazing here too and I thought I had could pull it off, but cramps started to catch up with me after too many chases and a not so well timed caffeine gel…done with those late race caffeine gels…I put in a dig or two of my own and the cramps just kept growing.  We came out into the final 1-2 mile stretch and Tristan tried one more from off the back that I closed down, then Brian went and I stood for a second chase, but was sick of being the only chaser dragging everyone else along, so I immediately sat down to see what the others would do.  I figured the others are going to have to chase this one, especially this close, as it was the winning move if no one went for it.  Cole responded and I was happy at first as I could draft till my planned jump point, but I soon realized I had burned my last big match chasing all the attacks. My legs seized with one corner to go, I started to soft pedal as there was nothing I could do and semi-sprinted the rest the way for fourth Overall.  Find 2011 results here.


It was nothing like last years sprint where we all waited till the last two corners to go.  This year it was a huge wind up from 1/4 mile or more out.  Way more fun and interesting!

Great result and defended my placing from last year.  This is a hard one to win and I am learning you have to be willing to put it all on the line at some point here, taking the big risk of getting chased down, as it is really hard to get out of sight alone on this course.  I am still learning that kind of confidence, but I think it only comes with trial, error, and success. 

I want to give a  huge thanks to Quick Stop Bike Shop, now owned by former WORS regular Phill Ott!  I had so much fun hanging out with Phil, Andrew Hanson, and the rest of the guys there Friday night.  Huge help with a last minute find of my favorite tire ever!  Then getting the bikes all tuned as well! Huge support up there and definitely the go to bike shop in the area for down to earth people and the kind of high quality service you only find with those who love to ride bikes as much as they love to work on them!

The sponsors this year have been flawless, thank you so much to Wheel & Sprocket, Powerbar, Standard Process, Trek, Fox, RaceFace, Easton, and Giro! Thank YOU for all the support this year! 

Thanks for reading,


Photo Credit: Jon Holcomb, Unleashed Imagery

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Battle of Camrock

I know one of the biggest races in the mid-west went down this past weekend, and my name is now T.J. Woodruff according to the pic, but I have to do write ups in order and Camrock deserves one…Ore to Shore write up tomorrow.  But you can check out Matter’s write up for his perspective, as we had just about the same race till 1/4 mile to go…

The Battle of Camrock was race #7 in the Wisconsin Off Road Series on August 7th.  My pre-ride and race was somewhat nostalgic for me.  These trails are where I first learned to Mountain Bike!  A few laps on this course and I was dialed on the old technical trails, which have not changed a bit! The new stuff is amazing as well, but I definitely was not riding it as fast as the trails I was introduced to Mountain Biking on.

As I continued to ride faster and faster on the extremely technical trails it was as though I time traveled back 8-9 years to when I first started riding Mountain Bikes with my wife on these exact trails. I remembered her first Over the Bars crash and learning the extremes to which I could push my old school panaracer fire XC Pro 1.8 Tires!


Testing the limits of those old technical sections brought me back to the days I was on a steel Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo I borrowed from Grandpa’s garage to race my first citizen race.  I am pretty sure Grandpa never saw the bike again.  I was too busy honing my skills on these exact trails a few times a week.  I would stop by Camrock on my commute home to Madison, as I was mentoring kids all over Southeast Wisconsin.  I even used to get a few of those kids out to these trails to try an activity away from Drugs and Violence, maybe some early roots of “Vision”?


Anyway, here is a pic of Tristan, Brian, and I having some fun chatting on the line, what exactly is Brian pointing at, maybe the sport course crossing immediately in front of our start line?



Race was amazing and I thought I had a Win coming!…for 3/4’s a lap that is and then I rolled a tire completely off the rim.  Up the start climb I followed Tristan and Brian Eppen, waiting patiently for my planned attack.  I launched to the front right before the 1st single-track section and within a 1/4 lap I had a sizable gap that was growing quickly.  Coming into the last tech section I looked back and could not see the chase group at the end of a field I had just exited.  I was way out of sight! 

Then disaster!…The tire coming off was all my fault.  First off, I was taking lots of chances to push my 30-45 second lead higher and higher with every tech section.  2nd, I ran a few psi too low, the XR2’s/29 2’s are great tires, but they just cannot handle the psi I am used to in the Bontrager XDX’s, hence since I swapped to the 29 2’s I have burped or rolled a few times.  It is just a bit too round with big slicer knobs that catch the ground hard, which is good for cornering, but with low PSI can grab a bit too hard and roll the tire.  Lesson learned when I tried taking a 90 degree turn between two massive trees that  only had about 3 feet of room to pass thru at about 20 MPH…Run XDX like tires only for crazy low PSI and bring it up a few PSI when going for a lower weight and rounder rolling resistance tire like the XR2/29 2’s.

As the lead group came up to me I was just getting the tire seated and filling up with the one co2 cartridge I had along.  I looked  right at Tristan and smirked/laughed saying' “It’s never easy…is IT!?” I had to laugh a bit and shrug it off to keep my emotions from going crazy over losing so much time and the possible Win…

I failed to get much air in my tire from the C02 and rode into the spectator area on a flat. 


It is hard to see in this picture, but I am riding on like 5-10 PSI in tire pressure here, it was pretty sketchy!

I finally got some air in my tire and got rolling in about 25th-30th position.  Not exactly sure on the position but that is around where some of the riders finished whom I was riding with when I got my bike going again.  I rode fairly defeated and conservative for a lap and even stopped twice to adjust tire pressure and crashed quite a few times passing riders.  During this lap a sudden down pour of rain completely changed the course, surprisingly the conditions changed for only that lap, but I was in chase mode and taking some risks, so it had me on the ground a couple times.


This  picture taken by Melissa Kennedy is absolutely amazing!  Big Shout OUT to Jeremy Drake on the left in the picture, he was the ultimate Hand-ups support, his encouragement, time splits to the leaders, and water hand-ups kept my head in this race when I thought my race was done for the day!  You would think this photo was setup as the best Forks and Shocks in the racing business is represented well as the hand-ups and support…NICE!

If you look close, you can see how hard the down pour of rain suddenly came…you wouldn’t think it was the same race as the pictures above, and just like it came the rain was suddenly gone and the course was back to the speeds of the 1st lap if not faster!

Laps 3 and 4 I was on fire and just got faster and faster.  Somehow I started to see riders I thought could be inside the top ten.  The last lap I rode for broke to see if maybe I could grab a podium and I knew with every rider I caught I was gaining a little bit more cash for the day.  In the end I was 6th overall just off the podium, but a great ride considering what I had to overcome.


Next up is Border Battle, Ore to Shore write up is in the works…and I literally just got my Chequamegon 40 entry Confirmed! 

Thanks for reading,



Photo Credit: Melissa Kennedy, Amy Dykema, Niki Frazier

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Alterra Coffee Bean Classic 2011

It has been over a week since this race, but a quick re-cap is in order.  I had won this race the last 2 years in a row so I was going for the 3-peat and almost got it…

After being called up to the line 3rd for the series standings I overheard something about a $100 Sprint Prime right off the line.  The race director decided to make the start even more of a  mad dash for the single track by putting a $100 carrot at the top of the start climb. 


As you can see in the picture below off the line Matter had the better clip in, I have been missing pedals lately so I played the clip in safe, but I was able to accelerate over the top for the $100 bonus. 


Also while standing on the line I had a few people comment on my new Easton EC 90 XC Carbon Wheels. These bad boys know how to accelerate .




Coming over the top the line for the Prime was right next to our Wheel & Sprocket tent…I was almost startled off my bike with the crazy screaming and cheering as a bunch of my family had shown up.  I rode on at the front with a pretty big smile on my face.


I wanted the hole shot into the 1st single track.  My plan was not to lead all the way to it, but I was at the front and not going backwards, so I controlled the front with a high pace and waited for a challenge.  I heard 2 clicks of a shifter behind me and immediately started to sprint.  I figured it was Mike Phillips as we are both very familiar with the course and a threat in the single track.  We both fought past the point of no return and started into a single line with two wheels, we began to lock bars and were losing control, but somehow came out upright with Mike in the lead and somehow Tristan pulled a Houdini move and got between us.  Mike got a small gap that we closed down by the end of lap 1.  From here it was the 3 of us for a lap.  Lap 3 I went to the front and pushed the pace up the start climb and then into the single track I attacked.  I got the gap and I thought it was over for the 3-peat.  A few of the spectators said they timed the gap at over a minute.  I played my cards wrong and thought I could relax a bit and if anyone came back to me they would be worn out from chasing.  In hindsight I know this course so well, if I would have just went in Time Trial mode I think the Win was mine. 


Tristan came back at the start of lap 4.  I figured I could get away again in the single track and I did, but lap traffic was really bad and any gap I opened up was shut down with every  lapped rider.  Tristan got back to me again and I was hurting from attacking over and over, and I think I got behind on fluids.  Lap traffic was everywhere.  While trying to  make a pass on someone, whom I thought was moving over for us, I was pushed into a tree and on the ground…Tristan was encouraging me to get up quickly because Brian Matter was about 45 sec back and we were losing time fast in this bottle neck crash.  I get up and rolling again still leading the race but find my front tire had burped too much air too ride with any speed.  I let Tristan go figuring I settle for second if I can ride the tire in, but B. Matter was chasing hard and I had to go very slow in every corner.  I stop and Matter goes by while I inflate my tire with a CO2.  From 1st with a gap, to 3rd place, all in half a lap, that is some good racing, unfortunate for me, but good competition and exciting racing to watch and be a part of!

Here are a few podium shots.  I figured my son Kyle should get used to the podium if he wants to take after Daddy and if we can wear Spandex/Lycra and be considered the “cool fast guys”, he can wear is diaper…




The team had some good results as well. 

Ben Senkerik continues to dominate the Elite Junior Category with a 3+ min gap!


Marty Tank took 4th in his Category and did a nice write up on it.

Taylor Bogdanske keeps rocking the sport overall, 3rd overall Sport and 1st in age Group, see an upgrade in the near future?

Next up is the new Venue at the Battle of Camrock.

Stay Tuned!

Thanks for reading!


Photo Credits: Amy Dykema, Danny Marchewka, Niki Frazier, Mykulangelo, Gary Frost.