Monday, September 29, 2008

Sick as a DOG....

Last Tuesday I started feeling a little sick. Trying to deny my symptoms, I decided to do interval training with Brian W. at Mammoth Park. We usually have fun doing intervals there, as fun as doing hard intervals can be anyway. Brian being Brian beat me into a pulp during our pain session. Knowing that I was sick only made me seem like easy prey to him. Brian W. is one of the nicest guys in the world, but he will not hesitate to abuse any bike rider when he knows that he has the opportunity to take advantage of you. Needless to say, I felt much worse Wednesday Night at work and pretty much horrible at work the next morning. By Thursday Night, I was on my death bed and only wishing that death would come quickly and end this pain that I was experiencing. I took some Nyquil and went to bed early. I decided to take a sick day on Friday Morning because there was no way my body or brain, for that matter, wanted to do anything that required any effort.

With the second race of the Month of Mud coming up on Sunday, I was a little disappointed that I was feeling so sick. I knew, however, that I would race whether I was sick or not. The Month of Mud is a series and missing any race of the series means that contention in the series would be over for me. By Friday Afternoon, I started feeling like I felt like I had some energy in me again. I actually went on a very easy one hour ride. I then did the same thing on Saturday. By race day on Sunday, I felt like I was ready to go believe it or not. Not quite sure what I had and I certainly did not enjoy it, but whatever it was has seemed to pass. Hopefully that will be my only bout with sickness this coming winter.

I thought Sunday was going to be a very competitive battle between me and super fast single speed sensation Evan Perone. As it turned out, Evan was called to the starting line, but did not show. I guess he had a little too much fun in Vegas at the bike show. It made me happy knowing that I could ride hard with the expert riders, but not have to go crazy battling Evan, since I knew I was still recovering from illness. I used a 32x17 on my single speed at Brady's, but it was way too steep of a gear. It was good training for cyclocross, though, because I had to get off and run up the steeper climbs. I actually kind of enjoyed the running too. All in all, after being so sick at the end of the week I was very happy with my ride. I finished the race as the first single speeder and fifth overall.

This weekend is the third race of the MOM at Grove City. It is a cyclocross course, but on the jungle side of the world of cross. I still think it is a fun course and will absolutely be there on my single speed cross bike. Again, if you are anywhere near Western PA, come on out to do the race.
Speaking of Western PA Racing...Team Freddie FU is putting on a cyclocross race on 11/30/2008 in Murraysville. I am planning on doing this race also and hope that all the riders in the area that have any interest in cross whatsoever will also be out to enjoy the fun. If you do not know anything about the race yet, here is a link:

Well, that is enough from me. I don't want you spending too much time around me because my sickness might spread and it is also time to watch the Steelers beat the Ravens... After working 8 days straight, I actually get Tuesday and Wednesday off....lucky me. At least I will be able to recover from watching the game. See you Sunday.... Gerry

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I am trying to achieve better race fitness for cross season, so I did two races this weekend. The first race, the Nittany Lion Cross, was the first race of the MAC Series in Fogelsville, PA, on Saturday. Then on Sunday I did the first race of the Month of Mud Series at the Bavington State Game Lands, near Pittsburgh. Both races definitely helped push me towards better fitness and both races definitely hurt, but for different reasons.
At the Nittany Lion Cross, I competed in the elite masters race. The race was brutally fast, especially because I made the decision to start on my single speed cross bike rather than on my standard geared bike like everyone else in the field was using. The race could not have started any better, though, with me going into the first turn in second place. I was able to hold that position for about the first lap or so and then the attacks started. I chose to use a 34x15 as my gear on the single speed. All in all, it seemed to be a good gear choice; however, like any other single speed bike, there were sections on the course where I was spun out and other sections where I really had to stand on the gear to turn it over. All of the extra effort that I put into the single speed was not paying the dividends that I expected and one by one I started dropping places. With less than 2 laps to go, SteveO gave me an awesome bike exchange, but by that time I was cooked and there was not enough time left in the race to do anything significant anyway. By the end, I finished in 14th, after trying to sprint to the finish with four other riders unsuccessfully. It was definitely an all out aerobic pain fest that made me wonder what I liked so much about cyclocross racing.
On Sunday, my plan was to leave early enough for the race to allow enough time to ride the entire MOM Bavington Time Trial Course. As things would have it, I barely made it to the course by the race registration deadline. I then rushed around to put my bike together and don my cycling clothing, so that I could at least ride the beginning part of the course. I rode the first loop super fast thinking that I would be starting at around 10am with the expert riders. Well, upon arriving back at the starting line at about 1 minute to 10:00, I learned that I would actually be starting in 44th position, which meant that I had about 44 minutes before my actual start time. I was a little bummed about this because my legs were now warmed up and ready to go, but I figured that I would make good use of the wait for my starting time by riding the new ending section of the course. Knowing the Bavingon Course is the key to riding a fast time on it, but there is no way that one loop of the course will prepare anyone for riding fast on this course because it is some of the tightest and most twisty single track known to mankind, but an absolute blast to ride.
My start for Bavington seemed to be good. I felt smooth through the beginning parts of the course. The single speed was an awesome bike choice. I had no reason to think about shifting, so I could focus on just riding and riding hard. It is so easy to go way to hot into the turns at Bavington, so I did my best to also stay relaxed and smooth into and out of all the turns. I was having fun on the trails and the bike was purring like a tame house cat for me. Life seemed good. Things suddenly changed, though, when that big linebacker, from that Reebok Commercial that tackles office workers for screwing-off on the job, came out of nowhere and threw me to the ground...well, at least that it how it seemed to me at the time. In actuality, I had clipped the end of a tree with the end of my handlebar, which then threw me to the ground with a quick and hard impact. It took me a minute to figure out what happened and to also untangle my bike from the mess that it had become, but I was soon on course again trying my best to remained focused on a fast finishing time. I did manage to finish the race without anymore mishaps with a finishing time of 42 minutes 11 seconds, which was second in the single speed class.
The second MOM Series Race is this coming Sunday, September 28th, at Brady's Run County Park. It sure would be nice if I could finish a race without inflicting so much pain on myself. Unfortunately, I think pain and doing well at a race does seem to go hand in hand....I hope that is not why I like this sport so much, but maybe it is. Happy Trails... Gerry

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Transitions is the title of this blog because that is what the last couple months of my life has been. This is the main reason I have not posted anything new for so long on here, sorry for that. Okay, now where should I start to describe this time of transition.... I think The Wilderness 101 Race in the last week of July would be a good starting point since it was the last race that I did and it was also my last racing blog.

I will admit that not having my best performance at the 101definitely took some of my racing steam out of me. I think that after training so hard for Nationals and the NUE Series my body was craving a long rest period. Well, unintentionally and not really by choice, work has given my legs and mind a very long rest from racing bikes.

My work schedule at the beginning of August made it impossible to race. Then two weeks into August, I learned that I was going to be transferred from working in Philly to a station closer to home. Doing a transfer at work is not an easy thing to do because there are certain issues at work that do need attention before the transfer occurs and then again once it does occur. Basically, I had to concentrate on work a lot more than usually. I also was not sure what weekends I would be off, so it was hard to commit to doing any races with an unknown work schedule. I do need to have set racing goals and without any planned races I kind of lost focus with my training.

One thing that I did to keep my mind somewhat interested in riding and training was to switch from riding my 29'er to riding my cyclocross bike. It was amazing how light and fast my cross bike felt in comparison to the mountain bike when I first made the switch. Cross season is a blast and I hoping that my earlier transition this year to the cross bike will help my performance at cross racing this year.

I did compete in one race since my last report. It was the Tour of Strongland Mt. Bike Race at the Roaring Run Trails in Apollo, PA. I did not do great, as a matter of fact, I did not do well at all, in my opinion. I could certainly notice that my fitness was lacking. Additionally, I could also tell that I had not been on the mt. bike in a while. To make matters worse, I switched back to my rigid fork a few days before the race thinking that it would be the best choice because of the shorter distance of the race. What a mistake this was. I totally forgot how technical the trails are at Roaring Run. They are certainly great trails, but absolutely better for a bike with suspension than without. I ended up in fifth at the race and feeling like I just got out of the ring with a prize winning fighter. I definitely need to add a sentence in this blog to thank Rob Spreng for saving me after I crashed during the race. I had just over taken him on a climb and then bombed into a single track descent that was really narrow and had a steep drop off on the right side. I hit a rock, or something, at the beginning of the descent that launched me off the steep right side of the trail. My initial thought was, oh my, this is going to hurt BAD! Luckily, I did not end up at the bottom of the 20 foot drop-off because I was fortunate enough that a small tree caught my rib cage as I began to fall down. The crash onto the tree left me completely stuck, hanging precariously over this "cliff" until Rob was kind enough to stop and rescued me. THANKS AGAIN, ROB!!! After the crash, I decided to back off the pace and wait for another day to race hard again.

I do believe that I have now completed my past couple months of transitions with the bike switch, with my changes at work and with moving back home. Hopefully, I can begin to now focus on racing fast again. I have also committed to a long range racing goal by registering for the US National Cyclocross Championships in Kansas City, MO, this past Monday Morning at 1:00am. I did very well with the pre-registration "race" by placing fifth. This is an important part of doing the race because it will give me a good starting position, probably in the first two rows. Starting a cross race at the front of a 140 plus man field is priceless and essential to be competitive in the race.

One last thing that I do need to mention before I end this blog is the start of the Month of Mud. This awesome local Western PA Race Series will start it's 20th annual series this weekend, on 09/21/08. I highly recommend that if you live in the Western PA Area that you should do this race series. There is more information about it at:

Oh yeah, the Speedgoat Cross Bike pictured above will be one of my cross racing rigs for the season. It is set up in training mode right now, but will soon be a true cross racing machine. Don't try to find this frame at Speedgoat, is one of my special creations.
See you at the races..... Gerry