Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cross eyed cross

I’m starting to figure some things out about Cyclocross. This is a good thing. I didn’t figure it out for the first four races. This is a bad thing. Oh well. You live and learn.

The first thing I learned is that I can do very well if I have my heart in the race. Now to my credit my heart not being in the races has been based on my circumstances which I had no control over. Those circumstances no longer have an impact so I am able to move beyond that.

For the record the second race that I did was the day after my dad passed away. I was heavy hearted that day. This past weekend’s races took place knowing my girlfriend was going to break up with me. My heart was elsewhere for both these races. Whatever. You deal and move on, right?
The second lesson that I have now learned is much more under my control. I’ll explain later.

So I went to Dade City last weekend for two Cyclocross races. What a fun weekend my son and I had!

Saturday I raced the 1-2-3 race. I finished 6th; I sucked.

The leaders went out hammering on the first lap! I tried my best to stay with them and it only fried the crap out of me. By the middle of the 2nd lap four had pulled away, another had jumped across from behind me and I was detached. For almost an hour I soldiered on. No hope in front and no hope from behind. It was awful.

The last two laps I completely shut it down like I was on a training ride. 6th would have to do.

After the race they were doing a relay. The aura of the relay race was that you had a one in, however many did the race, shot at winning a $2000 Cyclocross bike. Cool, I’ll do that. The problem was the entry fee: $100 for a team of three. My potential relay partners all abandoned me while I was racing (thanks guys!) but I found one lady who was willing to give it a go.

“Anyone want to do a relay??”

We could find no one…. except…

Except my boy Colby who BEGGED me to let him race. Ugh!! I paid $60 and we were a team. Ouch.

I let Barbara (the lady we found) go first. She gave a good effort but came in a couple of minutes behind the last person. Oh well. We weren’t there to win but to have fun. Colby was next.

After Colby had been out for a while my friend Donnie told me that he had crashed but was alright. The good news? They got it on video! Ha!

Barbara did her second lap and I did Colby’s second lap with him. I didn’t get to do my second lap because the winning team had lapped us! By the time Colby and I got done they had given the bike away. Sigh. We didn’t win. At least Colby had fun! It was worth it!

Sunday was the State Championship. Colby raced the 10-14 age group. He did so well! Raced head to head on his heavy, two sizes too big for him mountain bike with a lady on a cross bike. So proud of my boy for putting a hurt on the lady in the last lap! Atta boy! He finished 5th. A great showing for him! So proud!

OK, my second lesson. I can’t go out fast. It just doesn’t work for me. I can’t go red line and try to recover. I just can’t; I need to go out slow. Slow indeed.

Halfway through the first lap I was last out of 13 guys. I passed a little group and jumped up to the back of an 8 person group following the lone leader. In the middle of lap two I saw a gap open up so I popped up to 5th. Then there was a crash two wheels up. I avoided the mess and focused on getting through the wind. I looked behind me and saw a huge gap open up. I was in a group of 3 guys chasing the leader at about a minute. Rock on.

The three of us rode together for a lot of laps. The riders behind were either unable or unwilling to work together to catch us. We didn’t have the same problem. We were catching the leader.

45 seconds. 36 seconds. 30 seconds. 24 seconds. Then one guy just couldn’t hang anymore. He dropped off and there were just two of us remaining. I was fried as well. Within a lap the other guy was off the front and my job became holding onto 3rd place. I didn’t pull away but I kept a good gap.

Then part one of my melt down occurred. With just over a lap to go my chain came off. It happened in such a bad place! I had to get off my bike to fix it. The other guy caught me. I was fried and it was very windy. I couldn’t get away in the last lap so we both sat up for the finish. Actually I tried like three times to escape. No dice.

It was going to be a sprint. I decided to wait till the last hill before the finish. I had him in front. I was ready. The hill came. My foot slipped out of my pedal and it was over. I missed the podium at the state championships because of a crappy couple of bad breaks. I guess I’ll take 4th place.

I wasn’t happy though. I am bitter about that loss. I will break some legs in Gainesville this weekend. Mark my words. Legs will be broken!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I heart Cyclocross.

How can you not love Cyclocross? What a fantastic workout. I just wish there were more races…

When I saw a few weeks ago that there was going to be a Cross race in Clermont I was literally beside myself with joy. So much fin, so close. Awesome.

Finally the day came. I paid my $84 (gulp) for two days with of racing/licenses, glued on my number and showed up to the line ready to rock and roll.

I was a little disappointed when only 4 people strapped one on to race the A’s. Whatever.

The starter yelled “Go!” and we were off to suffer, suffer and then suffer. Going around the course the first time I lost my chain on a slight up hill. By the time I got it back on I was in last and the leader was pulling away. Ugh!!!

By mid-way through the second lap I passed two of the guys in front of me and I was in second. The guy in the front had a gap that I never did close. I ended up lapping the other two guys.

2nd place was a good result. I earned back the cash I paid for the race. While I was there I previewed the course for Sunday. Oh man did that route look hard. Saturday was a warm up. Sunday was going to be a bear.

I went home Saturday excited to race again on Sunday.

Saturday night my dad passed away. It’s funny; I never once considered not going to the race. There was nothing that was going keep me from going back for round two.

I left strait from church on Sunday. This time I brought my son, my friend Jim and my girlfriend Debbie and her kids. I had a support team to bad I stunk up the joint.

Funny story. On the line I saw a dude that had a “USA Triathlon” shirt on. I said something dumb like, “So, are you a triathlete? …Yeah, me too.”

So why is that funny? Turns out it was Jarrod Shoemaker. He’s an Olympian in triathlon. Last time I saw him race was at the Duathlon (run-bike-run) worlds in 2009.

He won.

Not the age group.

He won the elite race.

Holy crap.

So the race starts and a couple of guys get gummed up in a corner and I toke the lead. My first lap was around 5:30 and I was leading. Second lap was closer to 6 min. By lap 3 I was settled into 6:30 per lap and 4th place. It was hard to really get into the race. I was tired physically and emotionally. I hadn’t slept much and my legs were a bit knackered from 45 minutes of racing Cross and a 5k run the day before.

I soldiered on and finished 4th.

That course was HARD. There was one spot where we had to run up a 30 yard sandy slope. Ouch! Then there was another 30 yards up hill on grass. That hurt something fierce! Another part of the course was a 20 yard uphill that I could ride; but BARELY.

Lots of sand; lots of twists and turns. Awesome!

Sundays harder course was awesome and so was the turnout. 11 in the race was much better than 4 from Saturday.

When I finished the race I actually apologized to Jim and Debbie for performing so poorly. Thinking back now I guess that was silly. The Olympian was second and some other strong dude was 3rd. I probably would have been 4th no matter what.

I did my best. My dad would have been proud.

Next race is next weekend in Dade City. Two more races! Bring it Mr. Olympian!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Safe shmafe

We drove all day to get to the east end of Black Bear Road. By the time we set up camp it was well past end the end of sunshine. Andrew and I set up our tent in the cool Colorado darkness.

It was 1997 and it was time for our 2nd annual late summer mountain bike adventure. We hadn’t gotten killed the year before so this year we upped the ante. The course we laid out looked epic even on paper.

Oh to be 24 and reckless again.

When the sun came up in the morning we were greeted with the most awesome and spectacular view ever. We had camped at about 9000 feet on the side of a mountain. The view was simply breathtaking.

By 8am we had eaten, loaded up our packs and saddled our bikes. Adventure (and peril) awaited us in the unpredictable Colorado mountains.

10 miles to the west sat Telluride. Between us our goal was Black Bear Road; many miles of unforgiving switchbacks and uphill mayhem. Awesome.

We took our time setting out. We had lots of time and the road we had chosen didn’t look that far in the Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer. It looked so easy we didn’t even bring the map. It was just a big book anyway. I wasn’t going to carry that thing…

We explored some old mines, ghost town-ish buildings and even a couple of wrong turns. All we good. We were two young fit dudes on mountain bikes. What could possibly go wrong?

Then the flat tires came.

Between the two of us I think we got 8 flats on the way up the pass. After the first 4 or 5 we got a little annoyed. What the heck though. This was an adventure.

We finally reached the top of the pass. What time was it anyway? Doesn’t matter. We were young fit guys….

The descent down Black Bear Pass is legendary. Words cannot describe how cool that thing was. We flew down with only a couple of stops to take pictures and pick the grit out of our teeth.

We found Telluride and there was a big ol’ party going on. Fabulous! It was hot and so were the girls!! Wahoo! We hung out for a while and even took a little nap in the town center.

The temperature was 90 on the bank sign we saw as we entered the local bike shop.

The next leg of the journey was to ride up Imogene Pass. This trip was about 4000 vertical feet. How hard could that be? The guy at the shop said that it takes strong guys about 2.5 hours. “Hey! I’m a strong guy!”

It took about 45 minutes of riding before I had to walk my bike and we weren’t anywhere near half way to the top. The air sure is thin at 10,000 feet. It’s even thinner when you know you have to go to 13,000 feet and the route is questionable from there.

It looked simple on the map. A hiking trail from the top of Imogene Pass led over to Black Bear Road and back to our campsite. Not a problem. If we followed Imogene Pass Road to Ouray (the “safe” route, HA!) then we would have a 3000 vertical feet road climb back to the camp.

Safe shmafe.

Wow. Are those thunderclouds? Is that rain? Is that hail?

Sure would be nice if there was, oh, I don’t know, SHELTER at 11,000 feet. At 5pm we were still pushing our bikes up towards the pass.

What time does it get dark?

We found 13,000 feet and the top of the pass at about 7:30pm. Didn’t have a thermometer but it was freakin’ cold. At what temperature does an your body start to shiver? It was colder than that.

OK, safe way (with the massive climb, BTW) or sketchy way that looked good on the “atlas”?

You know we went the sketchy way.

Took about 3 minutes till we lost the trail. We soldiered on anyway because we were young and STUPID like that. We expected to see the road up ahead at any time. Nope.

Must be after this ridge. Nope.

Next one. Nope. Nope and nope. Finally we found a river. River leads to the valley. Hiking at 13,000 feet in mountain bike shoes pushing a mountain bike was just an utter travesty.

We decided that down was the best way to go. We abandoned our plans of finding the road. Besides it was getting….


Fortunately we had a light. One light was better than no light.

We didn’t need a light to find the waterfall.

Hike up to a ridge to get around the waterfall and find the river again. At least we were going down stream. On and on we hiked. The last remnants of daytime had long since evaporated. We had been at this biking thing for countless hours. We had climbed over 7000 vertical feet on our bikes; yet we had to go on.

Andrew suggested bivouacking. Are you out of your mind? No way. We kept going. Fortunately the directness of the river and steepness of the terrain brought us to a road. We saw a car drive by.

We were going to make it out; yeah, after trudging through a hip deep swamp.


It was close to 11pm when we got back to the tent. I ate a banana and fell fast asleep without even changing my cloths.

The next couple of days featured some driving but, ironically, no biking. The hikes we did were short and within view of the car.

I’ll never forget that epic adventure. Note to self: Don’t try to ride Black Bear and Imogene Pass on the same day and no there is no hiking trail that connects the two!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Coast Xterra 2010

This has happened several times in my life. I see something that I want to do are I guess it just gets ingrained somewhere in my mind and the one day magically it happens. It’s awesome stuff. This weekend was one of those times.

Several years ago I remember going to one of the Xterra Championship races and watching a couple of pros give a presentation they called Xterra University; tips and insights from the pros to the newbie’s. Very cool. I so wanted to be up on that stage. It’s just the way I am. I wanted to be in front of the crowd and not just in the crowd.

Its funny how life works sometimes. Last week the race organizer from the First Coast Xterra race contacted me and asked me to do the Xterra University.

I was honored.

A bunch or people showed up to hear me speak. They asked awesome questions and I got amazing feedback. It was like a little dream come true. Fabulous.

Oh yeah. I need to race as well.

Walking down to the beach on Sunday I wasn’t fooled. From the boardwalk the waves didn’t look that bad. It’s always different when you are standing in the water. There were decent waves. Nice.

Standing at the start I realized that I couldn’t hear the announcements because of the crashing waves. “Huh, wonder what he’s saying…”

Some dude says, “15 seconds.”

Almost instantly I heard a siren and saw people waving. Must be time to start.
Swimming in waves is super fun. If you don’t dive through them then you get launched off the backside and belly flop in the water. Nice. Saltwater up the nose is just what the doctor ordered.

It’s also fun sighting off a buoy that keeps disappearing. Fabulous.

Found the big orange floatie in the water and turned left.

That’s when it happened. I got kicked in the face.

I love saying that. I got kicked in the face. Sounds like a song that Colby hates. “Sick ‘em on a Chicken”.

So I got kicked in the face and one of my eyes got a good dousing of salt water. It’s a little like having someone throw salt in your eyes….


It actually is someone throwing salt in your eyes. I’d rather get kicked in the face.
So the waves were pushing me towards the shore. That really didn’t work because I had 4 buoys to swim around. Parallel to shore was what the rules said. For a while it was really fantastic because I had a couple of guys to my right getting washed into me as I tried to stay on course.

Finally it was left turn and into shore. Swimming with the waves is much better. I tried body surfing. Excellent! It wasn’t as excellent after the wave passed because then you got sucked backwards till the next wave came. Awesome.

I crawled out of the ocean and ran by a bunch of guys on the way to transition. I entered transition in 3rd. That’s a good result for me.

I got on my bike and was trying to put my gloves on in the 30 feet before I entered the trail when I almost did one of those embarrassing fainting goat crashes. I decided that I could take 10 seconds to put my gloves on before entering the forest.

The guy who came out of the water second was there and let me go.
I was onto the trail in second place.

There is just something about going from an ocean swim to a technical mountain bike. It’s a tad challenging. I was trying to adjust to the new sport when some dude came up behind me and asked to pass.

Holy crap. Are you serious? OK, I know who you are. I had spoken with him the day before. Local guy. Lives right down the street. He’s a on a relay. I let him by and we started jamming.

We flew through the course. I started to feel good and his lines were perfect. We blazed the course in a crazy fast time. We just rocked the thing. I had the fastest leg of the day except for some dude from Poland who lives in Jacksonville. He actually caught up. We were many minutes in front of all others.

So fast biker dude handed off to his runner and I changed shoes and took off my helmet.

So Jacksonville is one of the hottest and most humid cities in the land. When I got up at 6am it was already 80 degrees with “instant sweet humidity”.

Running in this whether is hard. I ran the “5k” in 20:30. This course isn’t super hard but it is very twisty and at 9am super hot. It could have been 2.5 or 3.5 miles. Don’t know. Didn’t measure it. It did suffer the whole way. With the exception of the one water station and a few glimpses or bikers through the trees I didn’t see any humans. I had a big lead so it was hard to run very fast.

Actually I did see the guy behind me for a while. Polish dude actually caught up to me right after transition. He garbled something about being a biker. I looked back and he was gone.

I finished and I was happy. Second onto the bike and passed the leader within a couple of minutes. Spend the rest of the race in the lead and won my first Xterra race!

The results were a bit cryptic at the awards. I believe I had the 3rd or 4th swim, 2nd on the MTB and fastest run by 2 minutes. I won by two minutes over 3rd place and eight minutes over 3rd. Good results for me!

Things are really falling into place physically now. My injuries are behind me and I am starting to really get in some good training. Happiness follows!

Now I train. Ironman in five weeks. Can’t fake that one. Train and recover the two words that I need to live the next five weeks. Ironman…

Monday, July 12, 2010

Double 3rd

I believe it was 2007 when I heard about the Picnic Island Adventure Races in Tampa. I wanted badly to go then but I guess something else came up. I think I heard about the race every year but time after time I found more reasons to not go then to go.

2010 is a new year and I finally got my butt in the car and drove to Tampa last Friday to do the race. I did great and had a lot of fun. Can’t recall now why I haven’t done this race before.

The race on Friday was the third one of the year. I figured 100 people would show up and I would maybe be top 5 if I had a good day. When I go there they said that 800+ had showed for race number two and they were expecting 900 for this one. Holy cow! Really? I started thinking top 10 at best.

I was so excited I left at 10am for the 6:45pm race. I figured I could do some geocaching and get there a little early. I got there before 4pm. Oh good. I have a chance to melt before the race starts.

Did a little swim. Talked to the DJ. Snapped some photos. Walked and jogged a little bit of the course. Walked around and basically did nothing for a couple of hours.
Finally. Race time.

Sure enough there were TONS of people. We crammed onto the start area on the beach and we were off.

During the time that I was waiting I had lots of opportunities to observe the people showing up to race. Maybe it was just my anxiety but there seemed to be an awful lot of fast looking dudes running around. I had this vision pop in my head of me finished 14th (???). I don’t race well in the heat. Uh oh.

Lucky for me a breeze blew in from the ocean and a small cloud covered up the sun. Awesome.

So the first half mile was down the beach. I was determined not to fry our in the first part of the race. I settled into about 15th.

Yeah, I have no patience. As soon as we got off the beach I started passing people. Some grass with lots of turns and little hills and in no time I was 9th then 6th then 4th then I moved into 2nd before the barrier.

Diving under a cargo net? For real? Nice.

Jumping through tires then a barrier then it was onto the tidal flats for a little mud run. Nice.

I was in second though the mud section and gaining fast on the leader. On the short beach run he missed the turn and I didn’t thus landing myself in first place. Fabulous. I hammered down a couple of skinny, muddy trails and completely fried myself. Coming into the final mile I was leading but suffering.

Of course I had done exactly what I said I wouldn’t do. I was gassed and the humidity was causing rigor to set in.

I told myself that if I went slowly for a while the guy behind would catch me and I’d have more gas to stay with him. Doesn’t work that way. Slow begets slow. I slowed down and he caught me. Through the twisty turny last mile be caught me, we ran together then he slowly pulled away. It was like Chariots of Fire. It was happening in sure slow motion I couldn’t even believe it. Then some other dude ran by me full of piss and vinegar. That wasn’t slow motion.

With 100 yards to go I was still in spittin’ distance of the top two. Then we had to run out into the sea. That’s right. 50 yards out in the bay and around a buoy. The water was halfway up my thigh. Man was that hard when you were suffering like a pig to begin with.

I finished and it was over. I was very please to finish in 3rd place. I honestly think that in 2 weeks I would have had the strength to win the race. Today I’ll settle for 3rd. Plus I had a lot of fun!

I drove the 2 hours home and got there late. I went to bed and slept for 7 hours. At 7am I was up and off to Tavares to run a 5k. I actually ran faster than I did the last time! Still 19 minutes is a little pathetic for me.

OK, yes I made the same mistake again less than 14 hours after I did it the first time. I tried to run with these two elite triathletes that showed up from Clermont. Home town race and I really couldn’t let a woman pull away in the first mile! In the end there was nothing I could do about it. Some fast dude ran 17:30 and the lady ran an astounding 17:45 to whoop up on my pretty good.

I don’t feel bad at all about getting beaten by a girl. At least I didn’t let the one behind me catch me. ;)

So there you have it. Two races and two 3rd places. All started and finished in 15 hours. Good training for the Ironman I guess. After the run on Saturday I went for a 90 minute bike ride to loosen up. All felt good.

The Lake Loiusa sprint triathlon is Thursday. I may just do that. Sounds like fun. Next Xterra race in 13 days!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Heat Index Double Play

I was very brave several months ago when I signed up for the XTerra Southeast and East Championships. I knew they were a week apart. I knew that mean being a road warrior two weekends in a row. I love a challenge. What the heck. Let’s give it a shot.

Of course I didn’t account for my quad injury, the heat, and making both trips solo. I really didn’t account for the drunken jerks that kept me up all night in Alabama. Challenges are what MAKE you.

I am a better man today, for sure.

A few weeks before the Alabama a race I got a weird pain in my left leg. I brushed it off as soreness and went on with my training. On a Wednesday I ran for 30 minutes and felt pain but still figured it would be OK. Friday I rode my bike for two hours hard then ran 20 minutes and walked 30 minutes back to my car.

Crap. I was injured.

I had “quadriceps tendinitis”. The prescription for mere mortals was 6-8 weeks complete rest. Sorry, no can do. For 12 days I could not do a squat or run a step. No biking either. I swam everyday in the lake because I couldn’t push off the wall in the pool.

No lie, the entire time I could not do a squat.

The Monday before Alabama I could not do a squat or a burpee. Never mind bike and run.

Now these two races in Alabama and Richmond are my only two opportunities to qualify for XTerra Worlds in October and ITU Worlds next April. I needed to race.

On Tuesday my pain just disappeared.

6-8 weeks. Whatever. Wednesday I ran 15 minutes. Friday I pre-rode the Alabama course and felt fine. Saturday I went for a 25 minute pain free run.

Thank God
Of course while pre-riding the course on Friday night I sliced a hole in my tire. Luckily I found a bike shop on Saturday that didn’t bother to use lube when they charged me up my bung hole….

Sorry. Different story, different day. Again, whatever.

So I got a camp site at the park on Friday night… next to hill-billy Billy Bob and his buddy Jethro. These two drunken jerks kept me up for many hours. I called the police twice. Someone else called the police at least one other time. I woke up at 5:30am to their wives SCREAMING at them about keeping everyone up all night.
Change of plans. I got a hotel Saturday night.

Race day came and it was hot as can be. We are talking Africa hot. You would instantly drip sweat in the shade hot. It was so hot that swimming was hard. Great. Just another obstacle to overcome. Let’s race shall we.

Good swim for me; onto the bike to test the fitness.

New bike worked great. Suffered a little on the long climb in the middle, but for the most part felt OK. Had a silly crash near the end and pulled an oblique muscle.

Didn’t cost me much. Raced hard in the heat and finished with a good bike leg.
Now I had to run. Oh crap.

I swam a lot when I was hurt so the swim was great. I can usually “fake” a mountain bike leg. This I did. Can’t fake a 10k run with lots of hills in the burning Alabama heat.

I swear I wasn’t even in the woods yet and I thought I was going to burst into flames.

I knew I was in trouble when the run started. I just didn’t have a thing to give. I was wasted in the first mile. My only saving grace was that it was so flipping hot that EVERYONE else was struggling as well. I totally fell apart on the run. It was really hard.

40 minutes into the 10k I started to get chills. That can’t be a good sign. At one point I reached the top of the last hill and was convinced I couldn’t climb up another hill. But I had to because there WAS another hill.

Mercifully, after 55 minutes the 10k run ended.

I placed 2nd in a weak 35-39 age group and 32nd overall. For the 4th time I will be going to Maui to compete with the best in the world. My run was 8-10 minutes off. My bike was 2-4 minutes off; both because of the injury.

Did the 9 hour drive home in 7.5 hours because if I couldn’t run fast at least I could drive fast.

The following week I did a couple of runs and bike rides. On Friday it was back in the car for an 11 hour drive to my favorite racing destination: Richmond.

Of course it was hot in Richmond as well. Did you expect anything different?

Previewing the Richmond course seemed strange. I figured out that a big part of the course was backwards. That wasn’t a big deal. It seemed harder but shorter. Sure enough that is the impression the other competitors gave me as well. Apparently the unsafe mess that we had all done the week before facilitated a change. The bike course in Alabama took me almost 80 minutes. Richmond would finish in just over 60.

Another weekend another XTerra race. I’m sorry but it does get any better than that.

The swim course in Richmond is weird. It’s true Xterra. They call it 1000 yards. Who knows what the hell it really is. First you swim a couple of hundred yards across the James River. Currents pretty strong but not really that bad. As you go past a little island you realize the water really isn’t very deep. At some points it is literally less than a foot deep. At the first buoy you turn right and go upstream. My special strategy here is to simply walk along the bottom. Why swim when you can walk?

Then you come on shore , run across an island, swim cross current for a few hundred yards then it’s a quick float Huck Finn style downstream. Top pros did it around 13 minutes. I was out in under 17. I had a strategy on the bike. I was going to go as hard as I course early to clear traffic. It worked well but halfway through I began to suffer a lot. I pushed through and finished the bike leg.

I had the best XTerra bike leg that I’ve ever had! The work I’ve been putting in on my new bike is really paying off.

I did my best on the run but I really wasn’t 100% yet. I was much better than last week though!

The competition in Richmond was a little stiffer in my age group. I slipped a spot to 3rd in the 35-39 but raised a few in the overall to place 27th. I was very happy with this result. I was even able to finish the run with a strong surge.

I got in my car for my long drive home. It was a sad 10 hours. 700 miles north was my father who’s likely spending his last Father’s Day in the living world. 700 miles south was my son Colby who was without his father on this my first Father’s Day as a single day. It was a long day on the road for sure; a Father’s Day I won’t soon forget. Lucky for me I was able to get home at 10pm and spend 2 hours with my son before we both fell asleep. I got to have a little Fathers Day after all.

I dedicated my performance to my dad who’s in my thoughts every day. I’m glad that at the end of that race I can hold my head up and be proud of what I did for my dad.

Racing is what I live for. It makes me who I am. I’m sad that I was away from my father and my son on Father’s Day but I know that that appreciate me for where my heart is and not where my body was on this day.

Next is “Xterra First Coast” on July 25th then it’s Ironman on August 29th. Excuse me now. I need to go swim….

Monday, April 26, 2010

Duathlon! Twice as nice!

Man do I love to race. It all started when I was a kid. I don’t know. I just got the bug early.

It was the summer of 1987. I had just finished my 8th grade year. I was home “grounded” for doing something stupid that only a 14 year old boy would think to do. My aunt Martine, who had taken me to my first 5 mile road race 4 years earlier called me one Saturday morning and asked if I wanted to go to a 5k road race at the high school.

“You bet I do!”

It wasn’t as much wanting to race as it was that I needed to get the heck out of the house. After that race I was hooked. The whole summer was spent looking forward to the race on the weekend. Lucky for me there was at least one race every week. My dad thought it was cool so he agreed to pay and cart me all around Cape Cod that summer.

At one race I met the local high school coach. I joined cross country that fall and the rest is, as they say, history.

The passion that I had for racing in 1987 is exactly the same now in 2010. It never faded.

This is the reason that last Friday I rose from bed at 4am to crawl into my car for the 720 mile drive to Richmond, Virginia for the Duathlon National Championship weekend.

The off road race on was on Saturday and on-road race was on Sunday. Now that’s my kind of road trip.

My goal was to leave early so I could take my time. I found a few geocaches here and the, made a couple of store stops and realized after a while that time was slipping away. 720 miles sure does take a long time.

Finally, mercifully I arrived in Richmond. I should have gone for a little bike ride when I got there but I just couldn’t find the motivation. I was tired and hungry. I ate and fell asleep early.

After sleeping for like 12 hours and doing a little geocaching it was time to get to the race course for the Off-road Duathlon National Championships.

Why did the race start at 1pm? I don’t know either.

What a difference a year makes though! Last year it was 96 degrees. 66 degrees this year.

7 mile trail run, 13 mile mountain bike, 2.2 mile run. Go.

Before the race started, something kind of cool happened to me. I was standing there and one of the racers came up to me and said, “Hey didn’t you go to UMass?”

This happens more than you would imagine. The problem was that I didn’t recognize this guy’s face. He remembered me. I am face recognition slacker.

I remember the name when he told me: Derek Treadwell. Crap. This dude is a 4:01 miler. A total stud runner. This race was going to be fun.

The first part of the course went across this bridge and the pace was supper hot. Some guy running next to me had a Garmin and claimed we were running 5:22 pace. That’s way too fast for me. I had to back off. I couldn’t stay with the first group.

My triathlon runs this year have been excellent. The good runs that I’ve had have been at the end of the race. I’m super strong from a lot of swimming and biking but since I can only run 2 times per week because of a heel injury I am not so fast.
I had to let the front group go and hang on as best I could.

Super runner dude Derek was first onto the bike and I was 15th. I rode strong but was so tired that I struggled at times. It takes a lot to run hard for 49 minutes then navigate expert level terrain at a high pace. The up hills were tough, real tough.

About ¾ of the way through the bike I caught Derek. He may be a great runner be the mountain bike leg was getting the best of him. I passed him with no pleasantries. If I was going to beat him then I needed space; lots of it. I pushed to the end and had the 7th fastest bike leg. This pleased me.

The second run was my best leg. I was running a solid pace. I would end up running 12:40 for the run. Too bad ol’ stud runner dude ran 10:21 and passed me at the end. Oh well.

9th place at Nationals is a place that I can live with. My lingering chest cold and heel pain held me back a bit but at the end of the day it is what it is. The race winner was in my age group so he didn’t count for the age group results. Thus I was 3rd in the deepest age group in the race. A podium finish at Nationals is a huge result. I really was lucky to get that. I will, however, always be proud of the plaque that I won!

That afternoon I had to rack my bike for Sunday’s race. That was really weird. I was sticky and tired from racing and here I was getting a different bike ready for another race. Fun. It’s a good thing I love racing.

5k run. 40k on road bike. 5k run. Excellent! What’s really cool is that this race started just 18 hours after the last one. Ouch.

I peeled myself out of bed and into the car. I’m a little sore and tired but what did I expect?

I ran 18:09 for the first 5k. I was REALLY tired and that was about all I had to give. The course was a little hilly but no matter. I didn’t feel I pushed it too hard. Bike on.

The roads were wet and the course was tight so the bike leg was a tad scary. It was like Xterra. There were times when I was going like 24 mph passing someone going 17 while I was being passed by someone going 28. Triathletes tend to be squirrelly bike handlers anyway so I was being very cautious. The bike leg was three loops so there were bikes everywhere! Sure enough on a tight corner a fast young guy and an older lady slammed into each other. He got a flat and she got a face full of pavement. My reward was a few seconds lost stopping to avoid both of them.

I pressed on and finished the bike leg.

I ran my heart out and it was over. Even though I cramped a little at the end I still managed to run the second run about the same as the first. I was 76th overall. Out of 1000 people I think that is OK. My age group results were somewhat pathetic. 21st I believe.

The good news is that I scoured the results to see if I had the fastest combined time from Saturday and Sunday. Sure enough my combined time was the best. (I contacted USAT and inquired about this. They said they were working on it) Can I claim to be the National Combined Duathlon Champion? Not yet. Who cares. It was a fun weekend and boy was it tiring.

The 11 hour drive home was a hoot. OK, it wasn’t. It sucked rotten eggs. SOOOO boring. 23 hours of driving to go with my 16 miles of running and 53 miles or biking. Was it worth it?

You bet your bottom.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Adversity is a dish best served in March

Of course I arrived a day early to preview the course for the 2010 Xterra Miami. I like to be prepared and ready to rock. I knew this is a race that I could win. It was my goal and I wanted to see the course to help prepare me for victory. In retrospect…

I was flying along the course keeping my eyes peeled for problem areas and dialing in the tricky spots. Then it hit me. Actually I hit IT. It was a tree. Man did I hit that thing HARD.

I really don’t know what happened. One second I was riding and the next I was wrapped around a tree. Lucky for me my head hit first. Unfortunately, my shoulder was the next to make contact. Ouch.

Now for my parenthetical statement of the day: If you are riding a bike you should be wearing a helmet. If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet I would have been typing this from my hospital bed and not my kitchen table.

My shoulder was hurt badly. Crap. I struggled back to my car then back to the hotel room. The rest of the day was spent being a tourist in pain. Things didn’t look good. Saturday night I gave my chances of being able to swim on Sunday morning at about 50/50. Lifting my right arm above my head was excruciating.

I really thought I’d broken my collarbone.

Thank god the pain had subsided by 6am. We were good to go.
Half mile swim. Go.

Out of the water around 10th or so out of about 100. Not too bad. Not to good either. I guess I should be glad that I could even swim. Peel the wetsuit off and onto the bike.

Bike was going well for the first part of the first of two laps. I had passed a few people and was feeling good about my chances.

Then I heard “Ptsssssss….”.

Oh shit.

Front time went from 40 lbs to like 20. It was ok because with tubeless tires you can ride real low pressure… for a while. Then it went to like 5 lbs and I couldn’t ride anymore. I started running with my bike hoping to come up with an idea. What the hell?

I was hoping to run into the wheel fairy or something. I don’t know what I was thinking. I ran for at least 5 minutes until a passing rider gave me a C02 cartridge and an adapter. Nice. I was going again.

That was the front tire.

At the start of the second lap the same thing happened to my back tire. I rode almost the entire second lap on about 10 lbs of pressure. I had to brake at every corner and be super careful at every root and rock. It was awful. With about a mile to go it finally went down to nothing and I rode it in. Have you ever ridden on a completely flat tire? Try it sometime. It sucks as bad as you think.

Now I can run; finally. And I ran like the wind.

I was flying. It was awesome. The run in Miami is kind of neat. It actually had 3 water crossings. Yes, you actually have to swim. It cools you down. It’s fun but your shoes REALLY weigh you down.

Anyway I had a good run. Some fast runner was there and beat me by a minute! His swim was a couple of minutes slower than mine and so was his bike. But boy could he run.

My run was 36 minutes. Fast runner dude was 35 something but nobody else ran under 40minutes.

I ignored my painful blisters and mercifully the race ended. Overall I finished 5th.
My wife asked me what I learned from the experience. I learned that adversity is cool and is a dish best served in the month of March when the races really don’t count. I learned that I have a serious tire problem. I learned that my run and bike fitness are both excellent. I learned that Advil helps when you bust your shoulder up before the race.

I learned a lot. Above all though I learned that one of my best talents is to simply keep fighting and doing my best, despite the challenges that I may face. (Even when doing my best fast falls far short of my expectations)

I’ve done three triathlons this season and two have involved some sort utter travesty. Both times, however, I continued on and ended up doing ok despite lost time.

Oh yeah. I guess I learned that I need to bring my own CO2 with me in races. Put that on the to-do list. Next race is in 3 weeks in Fort Myers. Another Xterra. Frank Fernandez-Posse will not beat me again. Mark my words!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bug Day

Did my first triathlon of the year at Moss Park this morning. Let’s iron out the wrinkles and get the rust out of the old tubes. No pressure, just fun. A good workout to start the spring off. Ah, such a good thing.

If only it had turned out that way. Bring on the travesty of the century.

One of the many excuses / whiny-ass complaints I have about today is this: WTF is up with a 7am race in March? The sun is barely up! The 58 degree water is bad enough without the 56 degree air when the sun is barely peaking over the horizon. I guess I’d have more of a valid beef if I had known the race was at 7am and I was there on time. Oh no. Not me. I thought it was at 7:30am.

Shit. This is a bad sign.

So I’m at registration at 6:46am having the volunteers looking at me like I’m an idiot.

“You’re missing the racers briefing.” I’ve done this before lady. This isn’t my first rodeo. “Yeah, well the race starts in 13 minutes.”

She handed me my race packet while I sat in silence for a second. CRAP!

I looked down and I was still in my running shorts and sneakers. I was way more than 13 minutes away from being ready for a triathlon. My bike was still on my car for crying out loud..


So I guess my warm up was going to be my sprint to my car. OK, tri-suit on. Transition bag, uh, ready. Bike off the bike rack. I was the last one to rack my bike so I just kind of threw it along the edge. No final check for me. I had a starting line to get to.

I walked onto the beach, wetsuit in hand to hear “2 minutes till start”.
How does that account for the fact that it takes me at least 3 to peal my wet-suit on?

I asked Z, the race director, if I could have a minute. Hey, I know the guy, I figured… 1 minute. At least me legs were in.

Hey buddy, can you zip me up, 15 seconds…

Thanks. GO!!

I guess putting on my goggles can be something that I do after the race starts.
OK, brand new, never worn goggles, on my head and into the freezing cold water. Eyes fully immersed in a goggle capsule of water. Stop and fix. Good to go.

At least I was in hip deep in the water the first time I stopped. The second time I was over my head and had to tread water while I tried to adjust my goggles so they would accomplish their goal if keeping H2O away from my eyeballs.

It’s been a lot of years since I’ve had a water safety guy in a kayak ask me if I was OK. Thanks dude, I’ll be fine. Off I went. At least there were a few people behind me.

It took about 15 seconds once I got going for my left eyeball to again face the water.

Have you ever poured freezing cold water into you eyeball? No? Well let me tell you what happens. You turn into the biggest spaz in the water. No lie.


Halfway through the 750 meter swim there was actually a guy in front of me that was doing the back stroke. What a disaster.

Mercifully the swim ended.

Off with wet-suit and into the bike shoes. My day couldn’t get worse. Or could it?
Before I could mount my bike I had to run through the dirt and mud for about 50 yards. Of course my cleats got clogged with mud. I rode the entire 12 miles without being able to get my shoes in the pedals. This was a MASSIVE speed disadvantage and safely issue.

Of course my bike was making a crazy noise. What the hell is that? I actually STOPPED. Why not, I did it three times in the swim. Brakes fine. I wonder what that could be.

It was leaf and it make the most obnoxious, annoying, and downright Chinese water torture-ish sound the whole way.

Who upstairs did I piss off to deserve this?

I came out of the water in around 20th. I worked my way through the field into 6th place off the bike.

I then proceeded to kick ass on the run and ended up 3rd. I was surprised and shocked to run 16:30 for 2.8 miles. At least there was a silver lining. After the race I wasn’t even tired. I felt like I just went for an easy bike ride or something. Amazing.

So what can we learn from this class? How about double check what time the race starts before you go to bed at night. Wearing your goggles at least once before a race is a good idea as well.

Even if I swam well I likely would have finished 3rd. Today was all along intended to be a workout. Tomorrow I’m going to learn from today and go back and do the Olympic Distance race. This time I’m going to make sure my goggles and cycling shoes work.

Today was one of those bug days. You know the saying: Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug. Tomorrow I am going to be the windshield.
Remember that Friday March 19th is the first of the “Lake County Trail Running Series”. Race is at the Emeralda March in Lisbon. Check it out on Facebook.

Monday, February 22, 2010

This is the year...

Rick Copley’s 2010 Race Schedule

March 13th – Moss Park Triathlon Festival Day 1 – Sprint Triathlon - Orlando, FL
March 14th – Moss Park Triathlon Festival Day 2 – Olympic distance Triathlon - Orlando, FL
March 28th – Xterra Miami – Off Road Triathlon- Miami, FL
April 25th – Duathlon National Championships – Richmond, VA
May 16th – Florida Ironman 70.3 – Lake Buena Vista (Disney), FL
June 13th – Xterra Southeast Championships – Birmingham, AL
June 20th – Xterra East Championships – Richmond – VA
August 29th – Ironman Louisville – Louisville, KY
October – 9th – Ironman Worlds Championships – Kona, HI (must qualify)
October 17th – Xterra World Championships – Maui, HI (must qualify)
November 13th – Ironman 70.3 World Championships – Clearwater, FL (must qualify)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


My first bike race was a cyclocross race at the University of Massachusetts in 1993. I was a junior at UMass then and it was the middle of cross country season. I was having the worst season of my life. Man was I awful that year. I don’t even know what was wrong. I just sucked. I saw a poster for some bike race taking place on campus. I did my run with the team and headed up to Orchard Hill to give it a shot.

I don’t really even remember how I did. All I remember is that I was in the lowest category and past most of the filed by the end of the race. I was hooked on bike racing! I finished my running career at UMass the next year and headed off to Colorado for graduate school.

During the winter of 1995-1996 I found cyclocross again in Colorado. They did a 16 race series that year that went all winter. Boy was that a hoot. I raced in all kinds of mud, muck and COLD. What a blast! I really fell in love with the sport of cyclocross.

I remember like it was yesterday the first cross race I did in Colorado. It was held on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder. Like a fool I didn’t even preview the course. I recall the first lap when I came around a corner to find a huge concrete flight of stairs that I had to carry my heavy mountain bike up. Goods times.

The first year in Colorado I did several races and had fun. The second year I got serious and started to get good. This is when I won my first race. Granted I was racing the 4-5’s which was one category above “citizen” but it is where I had to race because of my Category 4 classification as a road racer. I was happy to find success regardless of the level. I have fond memories of racing cross in the altitude of Colorado.

In 1997 I had the opportunity to race Nationals which were held outside of Denver. There were many different races that day. The pros, juniors and college guys raced for national titles. I raced in the “everybody else” race at the end of the day on a freezing ass cold, December day on a course that was destroyed from a day of racing. I was fortunate to have a good race and even better luck and ended up winning the “B” race at Nationals.

All good things have to come to an end. My days in wonderful Colorado were no different. In the spring on 1998 I moved back to New England. I spend the next two summers racing road and mountain bikes and my falls doing cyclocross. I even ditched my mountain bike and bought a real life cyclocross bike. In 1999 I finally moved up the “A” category. I didn’t do all that well but I did race with the big boys.

Then I stopped racing bikes.

In 2000 I got married, had a kid, and moved to northern New Hampshire. I let life get in the way of racing bikes and doing the cyclocross series. I missed it but I moved on to other things.

In 2004 a local place where I raced mountain bikes staged two cyclocross races. Cool! I know how to do that.

The first race 3 guys showed. I won in a sprint finish against a pretty good “A” rider but it was kind of silly with only 3 guys. The second race 4 guys showed and I finished 2nd. I put my bike away till just last weekend. January 2009.

I saw a flyer for a cyclocross race in South Florida a couple of months ago. I knew my friend Jim Beyer would be up for it and I’ve always wanted to race cyclocross again so I told him to mark his calendar. We were doing a cyclocross race. Nice.

Race day found Jim and I ready to go. I’d dug my cross bike out of storage, put on a new back tire and got a quick tune up. Jim was ready for anything. We brought Jim’s friends Billy to help with the feeds and we had amazing positive attitudes. We were ready to have fun at all costs!

The fun began at registration when I was signing up. Jim was a newbie so his one day license and a spot in the “C” race were perfect. They wanted to put me in the C race as well because it had been so long since I’d had a license. Realistically anyone that gets a one day license should race with the C’s. I explained to them as gently as I could that it would be silly if I raced the C’s. They agreed and entered me in the B race.

So I’m registering and I heard someone mention the name Adam Myerson. Hey, I know that guy. He’s here? What the hell would Adam Hodges Myerson (I never did understand why he used his middle name) be doing in South Florida?

When I used to race bikes in New England in the late 1990’s Adam was a race promoter and top notch Cat 1 racer. He’s a real fast dude and now he was here. Cool.

Eventually I found Adam and he actually claimed that he recognized me. I think it was the c. 1998 speed suit from the “Mass Bay Road Club” that I was wearing that gave me away. Anyway, we chatted for a bit and mentioned a few mutual friends. I am now friends with him on Facebook.


Jim’s race was first. Jim’s funny. He’s a fairly intense guy even by my standards. In the previous two weeks he had called, visited, emailed and Facebooked every person that he knew rode bikes trying to get advice on racing cyclocross. I told him to just get on the starting line and do his best. So he got to the line with lots of advice.

Jim raced hard and did well. He had a lot of trouble staying with the front guys who were on cross bikes. Jim’s mountain bike held him back a lot on the flats and pavement sections. He did a great job on the barriers and worked his butt off to finish 8th out of about 20 guys. This was his first bike race on any kind so he did a great job.

After the C race was my B race. It became obvious that there were not going to be huge numbers for the A or B race so they combined the two. On the line the race director even gave me a hard time for sandbagging as a B. I couldn’t believe it! She wanted me to race as a C! That would have been dumb.

A’s and B’s together. We were off. First cross race in 5 years.

Did I mention that I had just taken almost a month off from any type of training after running a marathon in December? During the warm up my legs were dead! It’s all for fun…

The first few hundred yards were on pavement with a bit of an uphill. A couple of things were apparent. First of all it obvious that Adam wasn’t going to blow the field away. That’s nice of him. I knew that he was simply going to ride near the front and pull away late. I was with him for the first pavement section up the slight hill to the left turn then right turn up the steep little hill to the 180 turn. Then came the hardest part of the course. Long downhill followed by a massive patch of sand with a climb up to a road. Going into the section I was around 3-4.

Coming out I was in 8th.

Tactical error. Pre-riding the course I foolishly assumed that I couldn’t ride that section and neither could anyone else. Yeah, I was wrong. I lost a lot of time on the first lap. A hundred yards of pavement into a left turn an up a solid dirt hill. Sharp left to a short pavement section then a left turn into a technical section that included a short steep section, some mud and a bit of sand. I past a couple of guys through here and was around 5th. Short pavement section then a left into the woopty woops, a grass section, then the barriers.

Barriers in cyclocross require you to dismount your bike and pick it up. You need to keep the speed up and then remount on the other side. This is super fun. Then the mud pit; this was super-duper fun! Long pavement section now. Left turn into a long dirt, but mostly solid, off road section. Back onto the pavement for a silly “S” turn and back through the start finish area.

At the end of lap 1 I could see the leaders and I was in 5th. I moved into 4th going up the climb.

10 laps of this? Nice.

I went into the sand climb again and got passed again. This time just one guy. I fought to catch and pass him on the ensuing sections onto to be passed on the hill again. This went on for several laps. Meanwhile the top 3 were pulling away.

On lap 5 I got smart.

On the lap before I hadn’t been able to pull away from 4th/5th place dude so I let him go ahead of me on the downhill leading up to the sand climb. Low and behold he rode the whole freakin’ thing and so did I. At the top I passed his ass and never saw him again. Later in the lap I saw the 3rd place guy and gave him the same treatment. I was making into an interesting race to watch. I even heard a spectator say “This is turning into quite a race”.

I was feeling better and keeping a solid pace. My fastest lap of the race was lap 6. I was now in 3rd and looking up at the top 2. Within the next couple of laps Myerson did what I knew he would and turned and burned leaving the other dude shell shocked. I took this opportunity to chase.

Chase I did. By the last two laps I could see him at places on the course I hadn’t seen him since very early in the race. I was feeling great and absolutely flying around the course. I was taking every risk and gamble that I could to try and gain time.

One lap to go. I was going to give it everything I had to try and catch second place.
I did but I didn’t. In the end I fell short but I was happy. I gave it my all. If only I had ridden the sand hill the first 5 laps…

Oh well. With about 20 guys in the A/B race I was 3rd overall. They gave me the award for the top B racer. Next time I’ll do the A race.

We had a great time and learned a lot. The venue was nice and course very challenging. Who would have though there were hills in South Florida? I’m glad that I did this race. I hope that I get to do more cyclocross races in the future. Apparently I’m still pretty good at it. Who knew?