Thursday, May 25, 2017

WORS #2 Iola Bump and Jump

New bike day! Nothing beats it! Right before Sunday's race I got my new Top Fuel 9.9 RSL built up and dialed it. The new Top Fuel frame set paired with my Bontrager Kovee XXX wheels makes a killer combination that rolls fast and shreds like crazy. I couldn't wait to let it rip in the mud, but hoped it wouldn't be too hurts to trash a brand new bike!

Sunday morning there wasn't much messing around time. Woke up, breakfast, two hour drive, registration, kitted up, and onto the bike to start my warm up. Then it was straight to the start, lined up, national anthem played and finally Don's famous count down. I was fast off the line and charged up the ski hill in the top five. We came ripping back down into "the bowl" at the bottom of all the ski jumps and I was still sitting fifth.

Photo: Danny Marchewka

Cole House set the pace into the first single track section but laid it out pretty good on a slick spot. Isaac took over the lead for the rest of the first lap putting the hammer down. I hung tight still in fifth wheel with Nathan Guerra following me. 

Photo: Danny Marchewka

I kept myself tucked into the group trying to analyse who was riding strong and who was making mistakes knowing that it would come in handy later in the race. Unfortunately it would not come in handy. On an open two track section I decided to take a gel. Just as I took my hand of my bars to reach back into my jersey pocket a vine that was hanging down on the side of the fire road snagged my bars throwing me to the ground. 

Photo: Garry Smits

Bewildered and angry about what had just happened I jumped back on and tried to catch back up. The gap was only about 15-20 seconds but those guys were pushing each other hard and by the time I cam through t start lap three they were out of sight. I ended up riding 3.5 laps solo pushing my own pace as hard as I could to finish fifth after one of the riders ahead of me dropped out.

I was pretty bummed to have lost the front group but it was really just a freak incident of very bad luck. I would have loved to have been able to duke it out in the mud with those guys and actually get some back and forth racing in, but stuff happens!

Huge thanks to Linear Sport, Trek Bikes, Bontrager, Wheel & Sprocket, Styled Aesthetic, Kettle Moraine Preservation and Restoration, and David Hobbs Honda, as well as Honey Stinger, Mike's Mix, Englewood Grass Farm, Wolf Tooth Components and ESI Grips for helping make it all happen!
Stoked to see what I can do at Camrock. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tech Devo Pro XCT

Utah! After taking my AP Statistics exam Thursday afternoon I drove home, finished packing up my bike and luggage and headed to the airport. After a direct 2.5 hour flight to Salt Lake City I grabbed my bike bag and met Jeff Bender outside. Two years ago on a big road trip with my coach Joe Maloney and Carter Warren, the three of us stayed with Jeff and his roommates while passing through. When I nailed down my season schedule I hit up Jeff to see if he could host me for the weekend and he had me covered!

Friday morning I built up my bike and around noon Jeff and I drove the 45 minutes to Soldier Hollow in Midway. There I linked up with Paul Fabian and my teammate Brian Matter to ride a few laps of the xc race course. It was a good mix of single track climbing, fast fun descents, rocky technical sections and fun features to send it off of.  Afterwords Jeff and I headed back to Salt Lake for dinner and bike prep for the next day's short track race.

Saturday morning I did the skills challenge which contributed points to the overall omnium. It consisted of five challenges, each worth 10 points for a max score of 50. You lost points for each mistake you made and I ended up with 37. After that I watched the pro women and men race short track, where Brian finished 5th in a sprint.

Since my short track race was only 15 minutes plus three laps I did my usual warm up for a cyclocross race to get my legs ready for the intensity. We started at the bottom of a narrow pavement climb that went up to where the first single track section was. I started third row on Paul's wheel and after they blew the whistle we sprinted up the climb jostling for positions. Paul and I were third and fourth wheel into the single track, perfectly positioned. 

The two of us worked together to control our positions the whole race and not let anyone take our prime spots. Almost every lap someone would attack up the pavement start climb and we marked those attacks not letting anyone get away. The whole race I was taking mental notes on my strengths and weaknesses on the course compared to other riders. I noticed that after the single track downhill everyone backed off and recovered through the multiple tight twisty turns. 

Going into the third to last lap I rolled up on the inside corner of the group taking the lead for the first time, into the single track. I decided to accelerate hard out of all the tight twisty corners cyclocross style and see how the other riders reacted. After I came back into the long open section I saw I had five second gap. I thought to myself, "Well, I guess I'm going!" Coming through the finish banner Brian was yelling at me to "hit it," confirming that I'd made the right move. I went full throttle those last two laps absolutely gassing myself to hold off the pack of riders chasing hard. I was totally cross-eyed, nauseous, and could hardly steer my bike on the final lap but I knew I had the win!

After I crossed the line I pretty much collapsed from exhaustion. Some bike racers like to get a little over dramatic when they cross the line and flop all over the place. For me it was the first time I'd ever gone so hard that I honestly just needed to lay down!

What made things even better was that Paul won the field sprint for second! It kind of felt like winning a criterium using perfect team tactics and controlling things the whole race, which was pretty much what we did.

After podium Paul, Cal and I spun back to the house that the Arizona Devo crew had rented for the weekend. Once Brian, TJ Woodruff and the rest of group got back we fired up the grill and whipped up a full scale burrito feast which was quickly followed by organizing for the next day and bed time.

Sunday's cross country race was bright and early at 9:00am which meant I was up at 6:30 and out the door at 7:30. I jumped straight into my warm up, took my Honey Stinger gel, and lined up third row on the far left side.

Photo: Kenny Wehn
When they blew the whistle my goal was to move up as much as possible on the start straight. I charged up on the left side following another riders wheel. We were off the pavement, on the gravel and we got closer to the finish I realized our our line was ending into the fencing and we needed to get in front or risk jumping laterally over the curb into the pack. I shouted to the rider in front of me to hit it and luckily he understood, pulling the two of us safely right up to the front.

Photo: Kenny Wehn
As we continued up the first series of climbs I tried to maintain my position but my legs and lungs just weren't having it. I dropped back a few spots to outside the top ten and stayed there holding onto the another riders wheel for dear life not wanting to end up solo. Going into the second lap my legs started to feel a little bit better but every time things got steep I felt my effort from the day before.

I started to work my way back up a few spots and settled into a group of three other riders going back and fourth with them for 1.5 laps. Part way through the fourth lap I lost contact with the group and my pace slackened a little bit. My body just didn't want to do the work but I kept on pushing trying not to lose any time to the riders behind me.

Photo: Kenny Wehn
Going into the last lap my legs felt better than they had in the previous four laps and I kept on the pace seeing if I could make up any time. Most importantly I reminded myself that I was riding a mountain bike and that even though I was racing I should still be having fun! So, I made sure to rip all the fast downhill sections as hard as I could and was sure to hit all the jumps! I crossed the line in 11th place which was quite disappointing but I was still stoked to come away from the weekend with one win and ended up 2nd overall in the omnium.

 After the race Paul and I went for recovery ride up into the mountains shredding some sweet horse trails before it was time to head back for the pro men's race. I did bottle hand ups for Brian who had a seriously impressive ride. Starting sixth row he moved up over 40 spots closing huge gaps the whole race to finish 12th. After Brian finished I said my goodbyes and drove back Salt Lake with Jeff and flew out Monday morning at 7:00.

Already missing the mountains!
Huge thanks to Jeff Bender for hosting me for the weekend and helping my get to and from the races. Also big thanks to Brian Matter, TJ Woodruff, Kenny Wehn and Monica Fabian for letting me borrow tent space, tools, and letting me crash with them Saturday night. It was great to hang out with Jeff and the Arizona crew and I can't wait to do it again!

Lastly thank you to Linear Sport, Trek Bikes, Bontrager, Wheel & Sprocket, Styled Aesthetic, Kettle Moraine Preservation and Restoration, and David Hobbs Honda, as well as Honey Stinger, Mike's Mix, Englewood Grass Farm, Wolf Tooth Components and ESI Grips for helping make it all happen!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

WORS #1 Englewood Opener

First race report of the season, here we go! For one of the first times ever a WORS(Wisconsin Off-Road Series) race was held on a Saturday and the Pro/Cat 1 field raced at 1:00 before the sport category. This lead to huge amount of spectators and people stuck around all day making it a really fun event out at Englewood Grass Farm in Fall River.

Thanks to Danny Marchewka for all of these awesome photos! 

I arrived early, took some team pictures and then got registered. Then I had a little down time before getting my gear on and starting my warm up. It had been a few months but when I lined up it felt just like usual, adrenaline and excitement. Don did his famous count down and we hammered off the line. I tucked myself in behind Cole House up the short climb and through the headwind.

I entered the single track sixth wheel and after a few turns moved into fourth. Pete Karinen took the lead and kept the pedal down all the way through the prologue setting the six of us apart from the field. As we came through the finish shoot as I took a drink Ben Schmutte and Ben Senkerik passed me. I stuck onto Senkerik's wheel as we went up the short start climb and I realized we were about to enter a tricky rocky single track descent. I knew I had to be farther up in the group to follow Pete and Cole so I made an aggressive pass back into fourth place.

The two leaders rocked the descent and my small mistake cost me about eight seconds. Ben Schmutte and I were now dangling in 3rd and 4th with a solid gap on 5th and 6th. Ben and I worked together chasing hard for the next two laps keeping the gap below 15 seconds but eventually Pete and Cole started to drift away.

We kept the pace up but focused on and staying smooth and steady to avoid making mistakes and getting caught by anyone. Heading into the last lap I knew exactly where I was going to make my move to get away. As we reached the half way point in the lap I took over the lead before a descent full over berms. I raged into the big wooden berm pushing the limit. I stood up and accelerated out of every corner and nailed every technical section and corner as hard as I could slowly inching away from Ben.

I crossed the line in 3rd place, 14 seconds behind Ben and 90 seconds behind the leaders. It was my best finish in a Pro WORS race yet and knocked off my season goal of cracking the top three. The cherry on top was the monster pay outs that the Scott Nyland and the other promoters procured. I also have to give a huge shout out to Ben and Kristi Agnew of Englewood Grass Farm for being amazing sponsors and most importantly promoting this killer race!

I couldn't be happier with how my first race in the Linear Sport colors went! Big thanks to Trek, Bontrager, Wheel & Sprocket, Styled Aesthetic, Kettle Moraine Preservation and Restoration, and David Hobbs Honda, as well as Honey Stinger, Mike's Mix, Wolf Tooth Components and ESI Grips for helping make it all happen. It is going to be a great season!

This Thursday I head to Utah for a round of junior UCI racing so stayed tuned for results and updates on social media and a full race report on here next week. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Linear Sport Racing Team and Spring Update

Cyclocross season is well in the rear view mirror and MTB season is here! The big news is that I will be on Linear Sport Racing Team! The whole team is super passionate, motivated and I can't wait to rep their colors and our amazing sponsors: Trek, Bontrager, Wheel & Sprocket, Styled Aesthetic, Kettle Moraine Preservation and Restoration, and David Hobbs Honda. For my personal sponsors I am absolutely thrilled to be working with Honey Stinger, Mike's Mix, Englewood Grass Farm, Wolf Tooth Components and ESI Grips again this season.

In early April team manager Steve Welk drove all the way over from Milwaukee just to see me race a local crit and talk face to face.

Three days after said crit I jumped on a plane to Arizona to shred with longtime mentor and teammate Brian Matter!

Picture time in Skull Valley!
On my second day there we descended down into Skull Valley which is a brutally hard climb in the middle of the Whiskey 50 off-road and slogged our way back up to this amazing look out.

After our big day on Thursday Brian and I hit up a dirt jump spot behind a local Costco. It was a ton of fun to brush up on my skills and nail some sweet lines.

On Saturday we ripped up five hours of dirt roads and single track in the mountains. On Sunday we loaded up our gear and drove 1.5 hours over the mountains to shred Sedona.


Sedona seriously defied my expectations. It was unbelievably beautiful and every trail we rode was killer! Afterwords we stopped at a roadside taco truck and smashed some tasty Mexican food, officially making it a perfect day

The day after we rode in Sedona we headed out to what everyone calls, "the dells" for a chill ride with some gnarly skills practice. Local AZ Devo coach Eric Naumetz showed Brian and me some seriously technical lines that were a ton of fun. The two of them were both riding full on trail bikes while I was on my XC racing rig, but it didn't stop me from going full send and doing stuff I never thought I would even try!

Moment before the photo above was taken I went over the bars hard almost breaking my elbow on one of the least dangerous features I had ridden all day. It's always the little stuff that gets you!

When my week was up I was pretty bummed that I had to leave. I had a phenomenal time and I cannot thank Brian, Andrea and little Elmer enough for hosting me. It was a perfect week of riding and it felt pretty special to be able to train as peer with Brian. He is someone who I have looked up to as a mentor and hero for years and has played a big role in my development as a rider and racer.

It was also a lot of fun getting to know some of the Arizona Devo juniors who I'm looking forward to racing against this year. On top of that it was cool to get to know Chloe and Travis Woodruff and Rose Grant of the Stan's Notubes - Pivot team.

On Wednesday I flew home to Madison, got diagnosed with strep throat and then hopped in the van to head to Brown County.

Trek Top Fuel looks just as good in the Midwest as it does out in the mountains!
It was super awesome to spend some time with the team and get to know everyone better. On top of that, for the Midwest, you really can't beat the riding in Brown County State Park.

I've been putting in the work and now it's time to see how I stack up at the Englewood Opener for WORS #1! Check back in next week for a full race report but in the meantime stay up to date by following me on my social media. Peace!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

2017 Cyclocross World Championships

Here's my post from racing the Cyclocross World Championships in Bieles, Luxembourg!

The Wednesday after the Hoogerheide World Cup team USA packed up camp from Sittard and drove in the fleet of vans and trucks 2.5 hours south to Luxembourg. The next day the rest of the junior squad and I opted for a spin around Luxembourg rather than over doing it on the course. It was pretty awesome to just wander around a completely foreign country with good friends. After the ride it was back to the hotel for food, rest and recovery. In addition to all of team USA, the Dutch national team was also staying at the hotel. It was pretty incredible to sit down to dinner at the table next to Lars Van der Haar, Marianne Vos, Mathieu van der Poel, and Sophie de Boer.

On Friday we went and pre-rode the course. It was a lot like Hartford in terms of the snow, but 1000x gnarlier and more difficult. There were lots of extremely tough off cambers, fly-overs, and steep technical drops. In summation it was, 'Shredtastic' -Maxx Chance. After opening up the legs with some final efforts we went back to the hotel for dinner, team meetings and number pinning.

Photo: Rob Jones/ASSOS/USA Cycling
Surprisingly I slept like a baby despite the anticipation. I was in the van at 8:00 am and ready to head to the venue. We all hopped on course and did a few laps. Slowly it began to sprinkle and since the temperature was right around freezing all the rain froze onto the course turning into one big ice rink. Literally the entire course was black ice! Those conditions combined with this course made it an unbelievably difficult and dangerous (and awesome). With final tire pressure and line choice settled we unfroze in the vans, did our warm ups on the trainers and went to the start.

I lined up fourth row and prepared for carnage in the first corner which was a big 180 that went from pavement to dirt (ice) and back to pavement. When the light turned green some people crashed right off the line. The majority of the 80 riders shot into the black ice 180 covered in saw dust at 30 mph. There were four or five separate crashes in that one corner. I was extremely lucky not to go down but I got stuck behind all the crashes pushing me back to 50ish place. (Watch video of crash here at 2:30)

Photo: Hamvas/UCI
I started to move my way up while battling for positions along side fellow USA teammate Sam Noel. We both moved up steadily but when I went to attack a pavement(ice) straight away section I hit the corner with too much speed and absolutely ate it. My bike slid a few feet down into a drainage ditch on the right of the course and I had to reach down and get it. Surprisingly the bike and I were both totally fine and I launched right back into attack mode.

Pure ice off-camber! Photo: Matthias Goossens
The next lap I continued to move up, navigating the difficult course with 100% focus and attacking out every corner. Anything less than 100% focus would result in tumbling down a giant icy off camber and broken bones. Anything less than attacking out of every corner would result in losing positions to the other aggressive racers on straight sections. Even on the straight sections you had to watch for icy ruts that could grab your wheel and you needed to be extremely careful not to enter the next corner with too much speed.

The most difficult and dangerous off camber behind me

The fourth lap I was mostly in no man's land until a Japanese rider caught me after pit one. I hung on through the start finish area but made a small error and lost some time.

Photo: Rob Jones/ASSOS/USA Cycling
Seeing that I was so close to cracking the top thirty ignited a fire in me and I poured my heart and soul into the final lap.  I hit my lines, hammered the flats and managed to stay away from the big group of chasers, with only one British rider passing me.

I finished in 32nd place. It was truly surreal to cross that line. There were so many fans cheering and everyone was going crazy. I was herded into the finishing shoot where I regrouped with the other USA riders. I felt so proud and accomplished sitting there with my teammates. These are the guys who I have been racing against since I was ten and spent weeks training together throughout the years. We'd all come so far from grinding up the mountain together at Montana Cross Camp. (Thank you Geoff Proctor!)

On the way back to the team camp I did an interview with CX Magazine which can be seen here.
Afterward we all rolled back together analyzing our races. I got some food, changed and went to talk with my sister before her race. I left her with all the knowledge I had about the course and wished her good luck before she went to the start. After I talked with my parents which was extremely emotional. It was a proud moment for them and I am incredibly grateful that they were there to watch me race and for their unwavering and unconditional love and support for me.

I watched Emma race, cheering as loud as I could with my friends to spur her on in the tough conditions. She had a tough but smooth and steady race finishing 37th.  Back in August she had a bad crash which gave her a concussion. She had to take over two months off the bike and it was amazing to see her cross the line. When she came out of the finishing shoot my parents and I met her and gathered in one big hug. We all teared up and were completely overcome with joy.

This has been an incredible season for me. I have grown so much as a rider and a person. I have worked so hard to achieve my goals and accomplished many of them this past season. It's hard to make sure I mention everyone but I will try. Starting off I'd like to thank my entire family, I couldn't do it without you. Next I'd like to thank my coach Joseph Maloney for always pushing me and knowing what I need to do to achieve my goals. I'd like to thank the entire Wisconsin cycling community. There are so many people who have stepped up to help this year through donations, advice and and have trained with me, pushing me and encouraging me. In addition I'd like to thank the whole Midwest and US cycling community. Also the generous people, some of whom I have never even met, who donated to my fundraising campaigns to help with the cost or racing in Europe and at Worlds. Thank you!

I really want to give a huge shout out and thank you to my sponsors as well. My team, Trek Cyclocross Collective and also the entire Trek family has been amazing. Thank you to Trek, Bontrager, Sram, Honey Stinger, Mike's Mix, Englewood Grass Farm who have all helped me in so many ways. Lastly I want to thank USA Cycling for helping make this happen. Thank you to Marc Gullickson, Jim Miller, Chris McGovern, Ken Whelpdale, Andrew Hawkes and the rest of the Team USA staff and mechanics for making it all possible.

Emma and I with Tim Vanderjeugd and our team manager Scott Daubert

Now it is time for the off season! A few more weeks of being off the bike and relaxing and then it's time to start training for mountain bike season! Thank you all for reading.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hoogerheide World Cup

Here is a quick update before Saturday's race!

As usual I flew from Chicago to Newark and from there to Brussels. We took it easy Thursday and Friday and drove to Hoogerheide Saturday for pre-ride. The course was super fast and frozen, making it bumpy and slick.

Sunday morning we were up at 5:30 and on the road at 6:30 to head to the course. I headed out for a lap, dialed in my tire pressure and jumped back in the USA van to thaw out. Next it was onto the trainer to warm up and then to the start. I lined up fourth row and when the light turned green we charged up the start hill. I was in a pretty good position but got stuck behind multiple groups crashed and was pushed back to almost 10th from last.

I let the breaks loose on the downhill in the woods taking an extremely sketchy and alternative line passing four riders before slamming around the ninety degree turn at the bottom. I hopped on a wheel through the flat open section and jumped them before the 180 turn.

The rest of lap one I continued to move up but came through at the end of lap one in 50th place. My legs started open up and making passes was getting a little easier. I was faster in the corners and kept it upright but I would often get jumped by a ride as soon as we got to a fast open section.

It reminded me how aggressive I needed to be and I started to take those spots back, hitting it hard out of every corner and scrapping for every position. I continued to move up the rest of the race little by little, passing when ever I could which the course made very difficult.

Going into the last lap my dad(my parents flew over for the WC and Worlds!) told me I was two spots outside of the top 40. I hit the last lap as hard as I could, keeping the rubber side down and moving up steadily. I made one final pass on the famous Hoogerheide stairs and hammered up the finish climb leaving a Dutch rider in the dust.

I finished in 39th place, close to my Valkenburg WC finish where I took 37th. It was still not even close to where I want to be finishing but after taking the entire week after nationals off due to strep throat it was not too bad. It was great to represent the USA with my teammates and now we're in Luxembourg ready to bring the pain to the World Championships this Saturday!

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and helped to make this trip possible, I really couldn't do it with out you all!  I would also like to Marc Gullickson, Andrew Hawkes and Chris McGovern from USA Cycling. Lastly thank you to my coach, Joseph Maloney, my family, and my team Trek Cyclocross Collective for all their support as well as Trek Bicycles, Bontrager, SRAM, Honey Stinger, Mike's Mix and Englewood Grass Farm!