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ALWAYS CHASING
with John Petrylak


AUGUST 2017
lessons from a G.O.A.T

“I hated losing more than I liked winning”

Yep… I’ve been trying to put the way I feel about racing into words and have never been able to find the perfect words until now. A few months ago I was watching an in depth interview with Ricky Carmichael the Greatest.Of.All.Time (7 time motocross champion and 5 time supercross champion) and the interviewer asking RC what drove him to win. Ricky said “I hated losing more than I liked winning” and those words have been rattling around in my head ever since I heard them. While I don’t spend much time getting interviewed (but I have been twice) https://youtu.be/P23nEbFp51o

I often wonder what is it that drives me (or really “us”) to line up for what we all know is going to be multi hour painful experience???


The answer to that question for me is not complicated…… I just want to race my bicycle.

I have the same euphoric feeling racing a local XC race with 5 riders as I do racing the Shenandoah Mountain100 with 650 riders. I also put the same amount of effort into every race; I show up prepared. Bottles filled and labeled a fresh kit, chain lubed and tire pressure set. I mean why put yourself behind the 8 ball and show up with a half flat tire and squeaking chain. Besides the things we can control there are plenty of surprises we can’t plan for.

You can try and formulate a plan for the actual race however I have yet to see one work out perfectly. There is always something that happens that derails those plans.

However I find that the more experience I get the better I’m able to adapt to a crisis occurring during a race.

Here are two examples of crisis control midrace:

During a marathon race this year the aid stations were close enough to only need to carry 1 bottle but a legend (Chris Scott) once told me years ago “don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket, take multiple bottles incase 1 pops of the cage and you don’t know it”. Sure enough going uphill a little mishap caused a bottle to eject and roll down a freaking cliff! I mean you couldn’t have made this stuff up it flipped out and rolled down a cliff!!!!! The good news; I had a spare bottle with nutrition mix in my jersey pocket ready to go I just needed to add water at the next aid station.



While recently chasing hard to catch the leader at the Chimney Chasing a Blitzing Beaver race in Charlottesville (Dave T. that was for you) I had a root toss my front wheel into an oak tree that started a “yard sale” of parts that went on forever. DANG! My seat broke off when the bike flipped over and hit me.


I remembered seeing someone at a local 6 hour race use a simple strap that normally holds your tube and spare parts to frame as a make shift tire boot to fix a badly torn sidewall. If it can hold a tire together it surely can attach a broken seat.

Tube and tools go into the jersey pocket and now I had a new way to attach my seat so I could finish the race. With a half of lap to go I went on to not only finish but land on the podium!

I easily could have called it a day and rode back to the car and started drinking beer but that inner demon reared its ugly head and said “no way! get your busted *ss on that bike and try to finish”.

I believe that is fine example of hating losing more than winning. Winning may not always be standing on the top step of the podium (it is sure is nice though).



A win is sometimes just leaving that race stronger, smarter and more experienced than when you started. If you flat fix it and do a hard training ride the rest of the race, if you crash brush it off straighten the bars and chase down those wheels in front of you, if you get off course turn around figure it out get back to it…etc etc etc

Most importantly listen to those guys and girls who have been at this game for a while; they have given me countless wins with golden nuggets of information and inspiration by just listening to them.

Yes I’ll admit it I do hate losing BUT that’s the very thing that keeps me coming back for more.







JULY 2017
Carrabassett Men's open 2nd place race report

I got to Carrabassett a little earlier than I anticipated. This gave me an opportunity to do a preride on both Thursday and Friday. The first 10 miles of the race is just the most absolute fun New England Single track you can image. On Friday I rode the last 5 miles or so of the finish (which is an awesome 5 mile descent back into the valley).


Since this was the first year the NUE was making a stop in Carrabassett I wasn’t sure what to expect, but right away you could tell this race was a well-oiled machine. Folks directing parking for an easy, orderly morning and signage everywhere. The course also have good markings and the race description was right on.
After a brief riders meeting we lined up an then it was GO time!


The start is a nice field section that funnels into double track and then eventually single track. I was very motivated to get to the single track first since rain the night before and into race morning made for muddy conditions. I had a great start and was first wheel into the single track around the outdoor center. It was crazy fun! Such amazing trails and fun obstacles.


After the first 6 miles of single track the race starts to get a little more serious. A group of around 8 riders started to get some distance as we climbed towards the top of the resort. The group was lead by race favorite Dereck Treadwell, eventual winner Andy Scott, Brian Oickle, and myself. I followed Dereck’s wheel as he punished the steep pitches at the top; soon after that Dereck and I had gotten some daylight between us and the chase group!



The gap didn’t stick as we descended down some of the XC skiing trails they were pretty chucky and it was a big gamble to just let it rock down them.

After the descent the group was down to 4 riders and another 4 in a chase group just a few seconds back. We climbed up a super fun piece of machine built single track and then popped out onto a fire road heading towards aid station 1. After the aid station the group came back together as we descended this amazing piece of double track with tons of little bridges and small creek crossings. The group was rolling smooth along a pretty blown out fire road with monstrous mud puddles sprinkled around. I was about 20 seconds in front of the group with Andy and then a terrible crash caused Dereck to call it a day as his handle bars broke!!!!

Right after the second aid station at mile 30 it was Brian Oickle, Andy Scott and myself heading up a loose, rocky steep double track trying get away from the chase group. Our group was together all the way until around mile 45 when after a long flatish section that Brian was flying on we dismounted for steep creek crossing and then Andy got a little separation from Brian and I going up the powerline. Right after the second to last aid station is a 5 mile gravel road that we started to work together on to close the gap on Andy. The road is an out and back so we could see Andy about 30 or 40 seconds in front of us.

Once we hit the check point and turned around to head towards the final climb we did a nice old school New England piece of single track. While I was riding I could feel my left foot starting to have a bunch of float in the pedal and then it started slapping against the pedal. UGH!!! My cleat came loose.

I got it tightened back up just before the bolt fell all the way out! Now I was in crisis control mode heading towards the final 5 mile climb before a nice rewarding descent back to the finish line.

I didn’t realize that we used the same piece of trail twice (listen to those announcements during riders meetings) so I panicked thinking I missed a turn and then rode backwards when I found Bobby Nash and we both decided to head the way I was going originally. After a few nervous miles we popped out at the last aid station signaling we were going the right way.



After I started to get rolling up the climb I found Brian Oickle had some terrible luck and flatted. With 3rd place on my wheel I kept the pace high climbing up the final stretch and was able to put just a little daylight between Bobby and myself. I kept the gap all the way to the finish but I could never catch Andy as he was on fire! After a very exciting race for almost the entire day I was so thrilled to land on the podium.

Congrats to Andy Scott he rode very strong all day!






MAY 2017
LOCAL RACING



The season is here and the racing is getting good. A runner friend of mine is always shocked at the amount of races I do during the year. Now to be honest some are more important than others but I use the same meticulous process to prepare for each race. If it weren't for local races I may have never found the sport I love. Local racing has helped many young and older athletes realize their potential or at least find a forever love.♥️

We are truly unique to have the insane national and sometimes international talent show up to our VORS races throughout the year. Let's not forget all of the regional hot rods that regularly show up and rip our legs right off!

Our promoters, race directors, volunteers, land owners, and park officials all work tirelessly often for free to put on a good old local mountain bike race. Judging from the attendance and the level of competition I'm seeing this year I think 2017 is going to be fast fun year.

My focus this year has turned to the National Ultra Endurance Marathon series and the local races have given me some great training and preparation for the NUE races. I think a few of the local races have actually been a little tougher than the NUE's😳. But the best part of mountain bike racing is the friendships I've developed over the years. I can't imagine any other sport where you toss your toughest competition your last tube because they flatted and ran out of tubes. We are a unique but tight knit group.


So far the season has been more challenging than I thought it would be. A tough race at True Grit and some lingering sickness have had me struggling a little more than I would have liked but the eye is still firmly on the prize. A good weekend down in T.N. for the second NUE Marathon race had me on the podium which was a nice recalibration for the rest of the spring.

Standing on my first NUE podium I'm wearing my VORS socks.......like I said local racing matters.




MARCH 2017
UTAH EDITION
CLICK TO OPEN

Power Meters tell it like it is....

TRUE GRIT FACEBOOK
TRUE GRIT RESULTS

JOHN'S STRAVA OF TRUE GRIT

I said this
to my wife around October of 2016. She said "What's True Grit"?

It's a mountain bike race in Utah in early March. Her reply was "OK" with a puzzled look on her face. The problem is sometimes when I plan something so far out I build up what I think the experience will be like in my head and it turns out to be nothing like what I thought. More on this later......

I devoted most of 2016 to Marathon Nationals and a more traditional XC season with some long stuff mixed in. As the fall approached and the thought of what's up for 2017 crept in I remembered a conversation I had with Keck Baker about the NUE Marathon Race Series. We talked about the marathon distance "possibly" being more fun😁 over the traditional death march 100 miler???


... CLICK TO OPEN to read FULL STORY....


I did a quick preliminary status check with my wife Amanda; which went somewhat like this " hey do you mind if I attempt a national series this year"?
Her reply "no let's do it"   Hell Yes I'm in!!!

After that I was now competing in NUE Marathon Series for 2017....woo hoo
Jeremiah put together a plan that had me pushing my limits but I know what doesn't kill you makes you stronger💪.

Fast forward to late winter and things are going well, lots of good training weather and pretty decent results at my training races leading up to the first NUE. A few weeks before True Grit my power meter said I should have a good race at True Grit. I'm not going to lie; I thought a top 10 or better would be in my cards barring any mechanical issues. I kept the training strong and thought about Tue Grit and what the race would be like. A Google search reveals 100's of videos of the trails the race is held on. In a nut shell the course is 900 billion rocks in every shape, texture and size imaginable. Think about riding up and down Lookout Mountain for 50 miles that's about what it felt like.

A few weeks out became a week out and then I was sitting on an airplane at 6am two days before the race.

We landed in Salt Lake City Utah and met up with the Cameron Mountain Bike racing team. Cameron had a super stacked team this year and then 2016 NUE champ Dylan Johnson signed on making them the premier team for sure. I built up my bike pedaled it for 5 minutes to make sure it was good to go and then stuffed it in into the trunk of our rental car and pointed the car South towards St George Utah.

Four hours of driving surrounded by beautiful scenery in any direction. Amanda and I were in awe of the pure beauty that is Utah. The day before the race I headed out with my friend and Bishop Training partner Heath Thumel to ride the "must do" technical trails. We both quickly agreed we could spend all day riding and really damage our chances for a good race the next day. After about 2 hours we reluctantly headed back to the parking lot.

I was really, really glad I chose to hit them before race even if was only 10 miles of the race course.
Drops...⬇️drops....⬇️drops⬇️ around every corner.

I cleaned up after the preride got some food and picked up the race packet and then off to bed after dinner. So at this point I'm still feeling pretty confident about the race. Although no less than 20 people mentioned that the 50 mile race is "super stacked" with for real pros making it a national caliber race.

I woke up after an unusually good nights sleep before a race feeling ready for what I hoped would be the best 50 miles I have ever had on a Mountain Bike. My usual prerace breakfast was fantastic and I'm still feeling pretty dang good👍👍

One hour before race time I started to pedal for a warm up with a couple of efforts to wake up the legs.
Oh Boy this ain't good😳
The same power meter that said I "should" have a good race was now not so sure. I felt like I was doing big efforts during my warm up but it was barely mediocre according to the watts displayed.

OK...OK. Don't panic it's probably nothing just finish warming up and get back to the starting line I told myself.
Now I am on starting line nervous but ready to get this thing started.

GO‼️ Click, Click both feet are clipped and I'm now racing my first NUE of the year. The pace at the start wasn't terribly unreasonable. Once our tires hit dirt the Monsters mashed their pedals and my heart rate was taking off like a rocket.

About 5 miles into the race I knew today was not going to be a "best day" on the bike kind of day. Every pitch felt much harder than it was and every pedal stroke became a forced effort.

Now the mission was no longer trying to hold onto some of the fastest guys in the country. The mission became damage control. I slipped back to 15th place and could see a large pack of chasers closing in right before the single track of Zen. I had a decent climb to the top which put some space between myself and the chasers. For the next 30 miles I was on mostly unfamiliar terrain. Too many times I came up to a big drop wide open hit the dropper post and then I was just along for the ride😬😬

I caught a few guys but my legs never came around and I just felt blah. Oh well it's over now and I'm taking back so much experience.
13th place is not what I wanted but I got it so now we head back east to more familiar terrain and conditions.

Back to my original thought about building something up in your head but the actual experience doesn't fit what you thought it would be. I never could have prepared myself for how amazing this whole experience has been. Although the ego is a little bruised the time away with my wife has been a life long experience we won't forget. We got see a part of the country so beautiful it can't be captured in pictures only an in person experience will do. Please find time on your calendar to head out to Utah to race or ride; the terrain will force you to come back a better rider.


The #VORS2017 is about to start and I'm ready to see those familiar faces and trails!


It's racin time folks!!!





JANUARY 2017
WINTER EDITION

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Ugh the trainer......

Let's rethink this; what's really so bad about the trainer? Is it being stuck in the same position without the scenery changing every nanosecond? Or perhaps it's pedaling your butt off for what feels like an hour only to find out only 38 seconds have passed.

So we all can agree about the things that suck about the trainer but what's good about it? Dare I say; what's great about the trainer?

Convenience!


... CLICK TO OPEN to read FULL STORY....

Wake up...grab a coffee and hit the trainer before work. One trick I like to use is to keep my bibs, shoes and HR monitor right next my bed. As soon I wake up I put it all on so I have no choice but to either look really awkward at work or get my workout in. I grab a quick simple breakfast and start pedaling away.

No climbs-No problem



If you live in a flat area of the state or you just can't get to the mountains you can mimic the best climbs anywhere. I find that most typical climbs in our area vary from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. I will use blocks to lift my front wheel up and start hammering away. My preference is to train with power but you can use heart rate or perceived exertion also. Just imagine yourself spinning up 20 minute climb and what that feels like. Then apply that power to the pedals or hold your watts for 15 - 30 minutes at least twice in an hour session. It's very useful, this will help you come into season ready for the climbs while everyone else will need a few races to get up to your speed.

Zwift



I am fairly new to Zwift but I think this is a game changer. Not ever have I been so entertained and engaged while riding the trainer. I have been able to squeeze out 2 plus hour rides without wanting to slam my head against the wall. Basically the program gets your speed, power or heart rate info via an ANT+ connection and it uses that to display your performance against girls and guys all over the globe. Waking up and racing someone from Belgium at 6:30am on cold wet Tuesday morning is pretty dang cool!

Old Skool


Put a light on your bike and go outside and ride!

So what ever method you prefer you better choose it soon. We're going to be lining up again before you know it.

It's almost racin time folks






ABOUT John Petrylak

  • 2016 VIRGINIA OFF ROAD SERIES - XCAT CHAMPION
  • 2016 VIRIGNIA OFF ROAD SERIES - EXPERT CHAMPION
  • 2015 VIRIGNIA OFF ROAD SERIES - XCAT 2ND PLACE
  • 2014 VIRIGNIA OFF ROAD SERIES - XCAT 7TH PLACE

At 38 years old with 2 busy kids involved in travel soccer, karate and ballet I gotta get creative sometimes to fit in my training. If it wasn't for my wife Amanda keeping things together  none of this could happen. 

I grew up riding my bicycle everywhere it was my most prized possession! That turned into riding and eventually racing dirt bikes. I raced motocross off and on from the early 90's through 2009. During this time I always rode my mountain bike to cross train but I was never serious about racing it. Then I was invited to participate in a 24 hour race on a 4 man team in 2010. After the first lap I was hooked!

I sold my dirt bike, started losing weight and rode the wheels off my mountain bike. Cycling has brought so many wonderful people into our lives and has created too many wonderful family memories to count. I started racing my mountain bike late in life but I'm happy to make up lost time!


MARCH 2016

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You have not lived until you hear the alarm go off at 5:30am on a random Tuesday morning in late January only to know that you will be riding your bike in the same place, staring at the same wall for the next 2 hours. This is the kind of morning that requires 2 cups of coffee before hitting the trainer. I think I've learned to love my trainer; what's not to love? You can do hill repeats, tempo rides, recovery rides and everything in between all from the comfort of your pain cave. And then after all this jump in the shower and head out the door to your other job; the one that actually pays you!
... CLICK TO OPEN to read more....
LINKS TO ROUTES IN THIS ARTICLE:
PANTANI
MONTERSCROSS


All of this trainer abuse during the week and big rides on weekends trying to get a decent early season form. The "Pantani" ride is always a good measuring stick for early season form. This year was especially cold I think the high was around 20 degrees. It was also attended by some of Virginia's cycling royalty Mr. Jeremiah Bishop and David Flaten. After a few miles in I quickly realized I was wearing too much ( I always make this mistake). I unzipped and vented the best I could without losing contact with the main group. I settled into a pace that was tough but maintainable. Jeremiah, David, Wes and I kept this pace all the way up to Simmons Gap and then things got real...very quickly! On the steepest part of the climb David and Jeremiah pushed a super human pace that made me taste my breakfast; I knew it was time to ride my pace. They quickly disappeared out of my sight as I was managing this climb as best as possible. I had a respectable time up and over the mountain. Wes and I traded 3rd place over the last 10 miles but ultimately he got a gap on me and I was happy to roll back in not frost bitten and in one piece in 4th place.


There I am in the back "always chasing" the fast guys.

With Pantani done and over I was ready to head back to RVA for the famed Monster Cross.

The usual suspects lined up in the front ready to grind out 50 miles of the most unique race I do all year. It's incredible how fast the pace was this year. I can't tell you the last time my heart rate was in Zone 6 but it got there for too long this year at Monster Cross. I had a great race and felt really good for the entire 3 hours. 17th place is no reason to celebrate but it was by far my best effort at this race.



No questions I rode with some great folks this day. We had lots of chatting going on in the group and it was a memorable 3 hours of suffering with new friends.

"training races" I'm looking forward to this year. Most of my focus will be on racing as many VORS races as possible with some VAXXC races and a few 100 milers mixed in for fun. I'm going to check in every month or so as our season gets going. Until then I'll be out riding or on the traine


ABOUT John Petrylak
At 37 years old with 2 busy kids involved in travel soccer, karate and ballet I gotta get creative sometimes to fit in my training. If it wasn't for my wife Amanda keeping things together  none of this could happen. 

I grew up riding my bicycle everywhere it was my most prized possession! That turned into riding and eventually racing dirt bikes. I raced motocross off and on from the early 90's through 2009. During this time I always rode my mountain bike to cross train but I was never serious about racing it. Then I was invited to participate in a 24 hour race on a 4 man team in 2010. After the first lap I was hooked!

I sold my dirt bike, started losing weight and rode the wheels off my mountain bike. Cycling has brought so many wonderful people into our lives and has created too many wonderful family memories to count. I started racing my mountain bike late in life but I'm happy to make up lost time!




APRIL 2016

CLICK TO OPEN
I once ate oatmeal for breakfast before the Wilderness 101 and had a good day on the bike so I equated that to the oatmeal. Now the only thing my superstitious mind will let me have before a race is oatmeal; and it smells like waking up at 4:30am in a tent after getting a few minuscule hours of sleep in anticipation of the days task ahead. 


... CLICK TO OPEN to read more....
LINKS TO ROUTES IN THIS ARTICLE:
STRAVA 1
STRAVA 2


The morning of the race was a typical cold but clear spring morning in Virginia. I won this race last year so I had confidence going into the race but also a nervous frrling since this was the first true MTB race of the year.


After a good 45 minute prerace warm up we all lined up and then boom! we are off.

The start is the same as the SM100, we rolled down Bear Trap Road and made a hard left onto Narrowback. Once on the dirt I started making my way towards the front to see who was going to be the first to make a move. I didn't have to wait very long to figure that out; after the first little stream crossing then a short steep climb the pack was broken up. Halfway up the climb I found myself too far back to gap up the first 4 guys. I settled into a pace I could sustain for the rest of the race. As we climbed up and up and up a little more we finally hit the gravy single track of Narrowback. Ryan Serbel, Heath Thumel, and Justin Mitchell all raced hard up the climb leaving me no choice but to ride the trail as hard possible to close the gap. After riding the 7 miles of Narrowback I could see the leaders at the bottom...success! Unfortunately the success was derailed by my rookie mistake of thinking I could blow by the aid station and finish the last 15 miles of the race with only 1 bottle. I caught up to the leaders and got by them and rolled a good pace down Tillman Road then we turned right towards the pavement. I looked back and everyone I passed was right with me as we went up the pavement. The pace was manageable until Ryan, Heath and another put in a big effort going up the climb and I was peeled off quickly. At this point I realized I was bonking because of my dumb mistake leaving my full bottle of nutrition at the aid station.



As the leaders rode away up Hankey Mountain Stewart Gross caught up to Justin Mitchell and I as we pedaled up Hankey and then he formed a little gap with Justin and they were also out of sight. 

Then I remembered...you have a bottle of gel in your pocket you idiot!

I drank that vanilla gel like my life depended on it. Now all by myself I pedaled up the ridge towards the Lookout descent. As the trail turned into more down than up my legs were happy and we started having fun again as the gel worked magic on my blood sugar. At the bottom of Lookout I caught back onto Stewart and Justin but I had gone too deep to catch them on the road back to the finish line at the Stokesville Lodge. I came across the line in fifth place at 2:58 a 6 minute improvement over last year but this year it was only good enough for 5th. 

https://www.strava.com/activities/510461067


Next up was the Dragons Tail; a true back country experience. Then it happened....Dragons Tail cancelled!!!!!

Then things got Stoopid. The inaugural Stokesville Stoopid 50.

Chris Scott put another "spring classic" together on short notice but anyone who raced it would have thought the race was in it's 10th year. 





Stokesville Stoopid 50 was everything you ever wanted. 

50 miles of single track in the GW with 9200 feet of elevation gain. Don't be fooled it was a lot of climbing but we were rewarded with the absolute best in class single track descents in Virginia and possibly the East Coast. 

https://www.strava.com/activities/535161774

I wasn't sure what to expect for this race since I have never done such a route all at once. When I arrived to sign up and get my number I noticed a guy named Jeremiah Bishop was also going to be racing. Other familiar names I have been seeing a lot of this year Heath Thumel and Chris Michaels would also be in the mix. That set the tone for the day.



After the single track start up the climb in cold temps I warmed up almost instantly. I felt really good and lead the field up the climb to the top of Lockout Mountain. Jeremiah, Heath, Chris Michaels, and I rolled up Hankey Mountain and then dropped down Dowells. At the bottom of Dowells I grabbed a PB&J sandwich and 2 fresh bottles at the aid station and continued toward Johnsons Draft and then eventually up the dreaded Georgia Camp climb. It had been years since I rode up that climb. 
It was as tough as I remember it for sure! 

At this point our lead group was down to Jeremiah, myself and Heath. I had some bad luck with a stick getting jammed into my front rotor. A wheel removal was needed to get this sucker out! I got going again but now my group was down to just me "always chasing " again. 



As I got to the top and then rode down the mountain and crossed the river at the base of the Braileys Pond single track climb I started to cramp going up the steep technical climb. I wasn't surprised to be honest I burnt way to many matches trying to keep up with these super human guys! 

Drink, drink, drink was all I said over and over to myself. I hammered down a bottle by the time I crested the top. Then it was time to let gravity take over and I was there to just enjoy the ride!

Back at the bottom I made my way to the aid station grabbed another PB&J and 2 full bottles to make it up the Dowells climb. I was also alerted that Jeremiah and Heath were 2 and 4 minutes ahead. 

Wait...what?

I beat on those pedals up the climb as hard as my battered legs would let me. 

All the way up then down Hankey and as a bonus we got to rip down Lookout Mountain again. I kept the pace going but it wasn't enough. Jeremiah finished in 5:02 and Heath had finished in 5:04. I came limping in at 5:20.



The day was great and what a fantastic day on the bike. The GW in the spring is a magical place with a surprise around every turn. We even hit some snow above 2000 feet❄️.

The after race party was the best part as usual. Fun for the whole family and the dogs!

With my day in mountain over I now shift my focus to the start of the 2016 VORS series which for me will be Conquer the Hill.

Oh and yes I ate oatmeal before the Stokesville Stoopid 50...


I'm looking forward to seeing everyone out there next weekend.
 




MAY 2016
Keck & John
At one point I remember looking down at my Garmin and thinking should we be going 18 mph on single track, uphill? 
After 2015 NUE champ Keck Baker welcomed a new baby to the family I thought that be a good time to ride with him. I figured he would be like a zombie from lack of sleep and that would be a good time to take advantage of him....WRONG 


I met Keck on his home turf to do some specific work for the upcoming 2016 Marathon National race on June 4; more on this later.

... CLICK TO OPEN to read more....



We started off at a nice easy tempo pace and I was quickly fooled thinking that this was not going to hurt. After 30 minutes on roads, sidewalks and a construction site? We made it to Freedom Park and hit some of the most incredible dirt in the Commonwealth of VA. You could rail the turns without ever touching the brakes. I was able to hold the champs wheel and even thought for a moment "I hope we are going to be riding harder than this". 




Then we stopped for a moment to regroup get a snack and got started on the "A" loop......30 seconds later I was now doing a solo ride!

I could catch little glimpses of Keck flowing and swooping through the woods like he was being pulled by some magical force. The rest of the 4 hour ride was exactly like this; but it might have been the best high intensity training besides a race I have ever done. 
STRAVA LINK

Less than a week later it was time for the Miller Schools Conquer the Hill marathon XC race.

It was a fast and tough race; on the first lap I got a really good look at the course by dragging my face across the trail, twice. The reality is I'm not a super-fast starter so I seem to be always chasing the lead group to stay with them. After catching a few glimpses of Jeremiah Bishop, Keck Baker, and Matt Bailey (this would also be the podium after 4 hours) I was starting to close the gap. Then I abruptly ran out of talent doing a creek crossing and took a nice trip over the bars face first into the mud. I quickly jumped up to make sure no one saw what the hell just happened. After that all I could do was keep pedaling hard and stay focused and then I went into a rocky corner too fast and disaster struck again. After I found my bike I got back on and started all over again only this time the handle bars are pointed in the wrong direction. Yikes! That's not good, some yanking and beating did the trick.

I brought my beaten body in after 5 laps in 4th place. 

STRAVA LINK



Now back to Marathon Nats in GA on June 4. I "put all my eggs in one basket" as they say for this race. Every moment on my bike has been dedicated to this race since late winter. I traded riding my beloved mountains in the GW for the foot hills and flats of central VA. According to Strava I have spent 142 hours doing 101 rides to get ready for Nats since January. I sure hope it all pays off.








JUNE 2016
I trained for every possible scenario. High cadence, low cadence, gaps on a climb, tight twisty single track, a sprint finish. I mean I did every kind of interval training you could think of. The one thing I didn't train for was a heat index of 105!

... CLICK TO OPEN to read more....
Keck & John
After it was all said and done I realized one thing....I want a Stars and Stripes jersey! So we are heading to Arkansas for the 2017 Marathon Nationals.

After all the preparation and driving to GA it occurred to me that we have some damn good mountain bike racing right here in VA! I love racing my mountain bike; weather there are 400 people on the line or 40 it doesn't matter I just want to race.



The VORS race series has been so awesome. After a 5 hour effort at Bedford, slamming single track with the Staunton crew and hitting my home trails at Walnut Creek I am pumped to get the 2nd half of the season going.

I have had some incredibly good luck this year for sure, hopefully we can keep Lady Luck on our side. Unfortunately others have seen their fair share of mechanicals and bad luck.

During the Montgomery Hall Park race Andy Rhodes and I had an epic (friendly) battle going on for an hour and a half. To me it felt like a World Cup XC race! I lead at the beginning then he slipped around me and put down some crazy attacks on the climbs; it was all I could do to keep him in sight. We raced hard from wire to wire with Richard Serton right on us in 3rd position. Unfortunately a broken chain on Andy's bike kept us from a sprint photo finish.
After it was all said and done we had a blast hanging out cooking hotdogs and catching up after the race.



Did I mention Andy rode his bike to the race and then back home.  ROCK STAR!

After having just raced the past 3 weekends it was time to race the very first place I rode my bike in VA 12 years earlier. Walnut Creek is a nice mix of old school single track with a mixture of fast flowing trails and fun rocky rooty descents.

After a quick scan of the preregistration (you know you all do it too) I noticed the 2015 NUE Series champion Keck Baker was coming to Charlottesville to lay a serious beat down on us mortals.



Feeling the effects from the previous 3 weeks of racing at the start of the Chimney Chase it was impossible to hold Keck's pace up those short climbs. At first I could see a glimpse of him a turn up then it became 2 turns and eventually I was alone in second place.

So I gritted my teeth focused ahead and began to see what I could do to get some time back. After I popped up the last steep climb on the red loop there was Keck with a C02 in hand fixing a tire that eventually was not repairable. For the rest of the first lap I raced like an escaped prisoner with a blood hound on my scent. Looking behind me for any sign of Keck and riding as hard as I could!!!
On the start of the second lap I found out I wasn't being chased by Keck but the young guys Sam Roach and Charlie Ormsby were coming after me. 3 hard laps later I got the win!



After 4 weeks of racing I was ready for a break. That didn't happen!
I began working with my coach and "winner of mountain bike everything in world" Jeremiah Bishop the week after the Chimney Chase.
No rest until November for me.

Until then I will always be chasing.






AUGUST 2016
After a season of relatively shorter races July rolled around and it was time for an old familiar friend. Chris Scott's Wilderness 101 in beautiful Coburn PA!

Keeping the theme going for the year the week leading up to the race was seasonal temperatures. But....according to the 5 day forecast race day would be "dangerously hot". This was exciting news to me; you see I am certain that no place on earth will be as hot as Marathon Nats was in GA earlier this year so any heat would be easy to deal with! Upon arriving at the Coburn community park and setting up camp it was HOT for sure. Also some buzz about a longer, tougher W101 course was spreading.


... CLICK TO OPEN to read more....



I did a little course recon and put out a few efforts to open the legs up. After an awesome dip in the beautiful creeks that borders the park and a little dinner it was time to shut down for the evening.

4:45am and the alarm was whaling in my ear; I ate the "Bishop training breakfast" and started to warm up.

The first 10 miles of this race seems to never stop going up. The pace was for real going up and I questioned if I should be going this deep only 20 minutes in😳


After aid station 1 the large group started splintering. Another big climb towards aid station 2 and the group was down to 10 riders of which I was one. Somehow my drop bag got lost in the shuffle but I hunted it down and jumped on my bike with 2 fresh bottles charging hard to catch back on. The lead group was like an NUE Champion convention. Christian Tanguy, Brian Schworm, Wadsworth, Heath Thumel, Stewart Gross, Aaron Snyder and Francis Cuddy.

w101

After some brutal attacking by Christian the group started to look different; as in I was no longer part of it!
Sometimes you just gotta know exactly what your limits are.

For the next 50 miles I rode without another soul in sight. After the final big climb out of aid station 5 I felt reinvigorated and started to catch a few guys toward the closing miles of the race. On the final climb of the day I overtook 7th place and kept that position until the finish line.




After the W101 my focus has turned completely to the Shenandoah Mountain 100 "the godfather of 100 mile MTB races".
I'm fortunate to have been able to get some really great course recon this year and very specific race preparation from Bishop Training.

GGG

     A few weeks after the W101 I jumped in on Mark's Guts/Gravel/Glory race at Pocahontas State Park. The venue was great and it made for some fast racing...My friend Joe Fish crushed it for the win in a crazy stacked field with Keck and Charlie a second behind him and super talented Adam Croft right on their wheels!




  However, before the SM I am looking forward to the 3rd installment of the Montgomery Hall Park race series put on by our friends at Black Dog Bikes. The VORS is getting some great momentum going as we head into the fall; I know I can't wait to turn some midnight to 6am laps at the 18 hours Scouts Honor race with the rest of you crazies😁

     As I am thinking of all of the races coming up I am thankful for the promoters and volunteers that make racing mountain bikes possible in Virginia. Without all of you it would make for some pretty boring weekends.