Playing Catch-Up in the MMBA Championship Points Series

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After skipping both the Sweat Shaker and Boyne races, I found myself in 4th place in the MMBA CPS Sport Singlespeed category.  Eric Wolting has 1st in the series locked down, with 5 first-place finishes on the season including a win at Boyne, which was worth 1.5x the points (due to the drive and the distance of the race).  I skipped Boyne in order to defend my points lead in the Tailwind series, and even though that series has become my priority, I’d still like to finish as high as possible in MMBA.    Skipping those two races really cost me, so it was off to Big M on Sunday to try to make up some ground in another race worth 1.5x the points.

Big M

Since Eric has secured 1st in the series, he’s moved up to Expert/Elite SS for the rest of the season with the exception of the Maybury Time Trial.  It’s unfortunate, because the only races where we’ve competed head-to-head in an XC race format, each of us had a mechanical (him at Fort Custer and myself at Hanson Hills).  I would have liked another chance to race against him this year, but it looks like I’ll have to wait until next year when I plan on moving up.  And we’ll both be in the Sport SS class at Maybury, but we likely won’t see each other on course due to the time trial format.  Anyhow!  Sidetracked.  Basically, the point of this is that the Sport SS class in the MMBA series has lost its rabbit, and the rest of us need to fight it out for the remaining series podium spots in his absence.  Prior to the race, Byrne Johnson was in 2nd in the series, Bob Kidder was in 3rd, I was in 4th, and Talon Tramper was in 5th.  All of us showed up for Big M.

Some background on Big M: it’s a cross-country ski area located in the Manistee National Forest near Wellston, MI.  The Lumberjack 100 is held here, and due to the number of trails, race organizers can really get creative with course layout.  This means that, even for locals, it’s going to be difficult to anticipate and/or prepare for the race route.  I hadn’t ridden here before, and I really had no idea what to expect.  Based on a conversation I had with Byrne when I arrived, I decided to lighten up my gearing to 38 x 19.  I’d like to thank Byrne for the pre-race information, because if I’d have gone heavier, I don’t think my legs would work anymore.  Sport racers were doing 3 x 8.5 mile laps for a total of just under 26 miles, and what turned out to be a TON of climbing.

We started right around 12:30 p.m. with temperatures in the low 60’s.  It had rained intermittently all morning, but fortunately stopped for good in time for the sport/beginner races.  The conditions were actually pretty perfect, as the rain had settled some of the sandier sections of the trail.  I was first off the line and into the woods, and I decided to really push the pace for the first few miles to see if I could get some distance on the group.  After about a mile I had outpaced everyone but Talon, and he ended up hanging with me throughout the first lap and for part of the second.  The course included a monster climb about 2 miles in that was over a half-mile long, and I was able to drop Talon after our second time up.  For the remainder of my second lap and all of my third, I just kept a steady pace and tried to stay upright.  I did end up fading a bit from my first lap to my third, as I neglected to eat anything, and the course was not particularly conducive to taking your hands off the bars to drink, so I don’t think I even finished the water bottle I had with me.  I definitely need to work on that.  Speaking of the course, it was great – tons of faster sections combined with a few severely punishing climbs and a series of intense downhills toward the end.  My lap times were right around 40 minutes each, and I finished in 1st place in my category and 13th overall in sport with a time of 2:01:44.

 

2013 Big M Challenge Sport SS Podium, minus Byrne Johnson who placed 3rd
2013 Big M Challenge Sport SS podium, minus the actual podium and Byrne Johnson (3rd place)

I’ll be heading back up to Big M this coming weekend for a Tailwind series event in order to protect my points lead, and then the Maybury Time Trial on August 17th, which I’m very much looking forward to. – Adam Cefai

Silver at the Lumberman Olympic Triathlon in Cadillac – Woot!

Eric and RobAfter spending all my racing season “on a bike” and doing some mountain bike and cyclocross/dirt road races, this weekend I completed my first of three triathlons for the season. Saturday was the Lumberman Olympic in Cadillac, MI and was the second year competing in this event. As with all 3 Disciplines run events, it was very well organized an early registrants even got a nice sleeveless 3D cycling jersey. It was also pretty cool that one of my college buddies from Alma came up from Hastings to join me. Rob has not been doing triathlons for more than a couple of years (at most) and was coming off the Half Ironman in Muncie, IN just a couple of weeks prior. Even though he said he’d never do another one that distance, like everyone that does a race that distance it takes a while to get over the initial “shock” and decide that it’s something you actually will want to do again. Doing the Olympic was a nice “cool down” for him and after the fact, we both agreed that running 13.1 miles was something neither of us would have wanted to do today.

As with last year, the night before there was a lot of rain in the area, making everyone wonder if the race would even take place. Mother Nature stopped the rain, but about fifteen minutes prior to the start fog rolled in across Lake Cadillac and standing on the shore you couldn’t even see the first marker in the water. Obviously the organizers were not about to let us in the water for safety reasons, so we waited for the fog to lift and started about 45 minutes later.

The temps were in the 60s at start, making the 74 degree water the warmest place on the course. After spending so much time on the bike, it was apparent about 15 minutes into my swim that I better spend a bit more time in the water before my “half” 70.3 mile race in September! I came out of the water in the last half of my group, but was confident that I’d be able to make up some time on the bike.

Transition went quickly and I was off and pedaling for the next 26 miles. It was an out and back route and most of the way to the turnaround it seemed like I was fighting a headwind most of the way. One of my friends, Shirley, passed me on the swim and I saw her leave just before me in transition, so my first goal was to catch her, which I did. However, she hung on (not drafting, of course, because that’s not legal) and stayed within sight of me exchanging “banter” along the way.

I hit the turnaround and was nice to feel the wind at my back for a change. There were a few hills at the mid-point, but I made quick work of them and passed several other riders, especially coming down the back side. With the tailwind I was carrying 27-28 mph on some of the flat sections, which I knew would help me with some extra “time buffer” when I got to the run.

Coming into the transition for the run I was able to quickly rack my bike, switch to my running shoes and toss on my hat before heading out for the last hour (or more) on the course. Typically an Olympic has a 10k for the run, which is 6.2 miles, but we were running around Lake Cadillac and that meant a 7 mile run was ahead. My legs didn’t feel too bad given that I had not done much ride-then-run work this year. I was expecting my legs to feel like I was running in cement shoes, but fortunately that was not the case.

The first three miles were uneventful and some of the faster runners (who I had passed on the bike) were getting their payback and passed me. I kept an eye on their “size” given that I registered for the Clydesdale category (racers 200 lbs. or greater) and fortunately all the runners were “skinny dudes” so I was comfortable that I was in the lead for my division. Right around mile four Shirley came by tailing a fellow Clydesdale. They both were carrying a bit faster pace than me, but I knew if I wanted to keep my position I had better jump on and follow for as long as I could. We ran together for the next mile or so and was at my max for most of the time. I can honestly say that had I not been following them my pace would have been slower, so the motivation was nice.

Just about around mile six I started to catch a second wind and picked up the pace. By now Shirley had gapped us, but I was hanging on and the two “big guys” were clip-clopping along together. When I made my move and tried to build a gap he didn’t have the steam to keep up and I pulled ahead. Then, just about a half mile later another fellow Clyde came around me carrying a pretty good pace and I couldn’t hang on and he ended up finishing just about a minute ahead of me, taking first and leaving me with second and a nice sliver medal to bring home to Alicia.

Silver Medal

Looking back at my performance I was pleased overall with my results. Had I raced in my age group (40-45) I would have taken third and overall was in the top 20 males for the Olympic. I was proud that my bike split was the ninth fastest of the entire field, but it’s evident that I’ve got some work to do with my swim, and especially the run. Had I been able to carry a faster pace on the run I easily could have won my division. But in the end I’m just grateful that this “old body” is able to still get out there and complete an event like this in one piece (and still be able to walk the next day).

Next race is in August, where I’ll be headed to Ludington for the Lighthouse Olympic triathlon. That’s always a good weekend since my grandparents live in Pentwater and we make a weekend event out of it. It’s also a great course and I’ll be returning as the “defending Clydesdale champion” (if there is such a title). Then, it’s back to Cedar Point for the Rev3 half in September for my 70.3 of the year (plus, some roller coasters).

Keep the rubber side down…
Eric

P.S. A special thanks to my good friend Donna, who luckily was at her cabin in Cadillac and had an extra race belt for me to use Saturday. She raced the Racine, WI half the weekend prior, so she was not racing this weekend. But that didn’t keep her from coming down at at 7 am to meet me. Thanks Donna, you rock!

Brighton Rec Repeat

Brighton Rec Repeat – July 13th, 2013 – Howell, Michigan – Brighton Recreation Area

After the Bloomer Park Daze race, I found out that I was leading the Tailwind Racing series in the Sport SS class.  At the beginning of the race season, I was only planning on participating in the MMBA Championship Points Series, but the scheduling of the Tailwind races made it convenient to compete in that series as well.  The only real scheduling conflict between them was on Saturday, when there were races at Boyne (MMBA) and Brighton.  I was in 2nd in the MMBA series prior to Saturday, and Eric Wolting, who is leading that series, had a pretty big lead.  So instead of trying to gain points in the MMBA CPS, I opted to defend my Tailwind points lead.

Having never ridden Brighton before, I did a bit of quick online recon which showed only about 200 feet of climbing per 6.5 mile race lap.  Based on that, I decided to run 38 x 18, which is what I usually run at the Fort, which has a similar amount of elevation.  At the park I ran into the usual east side crowd, but it was a relatively small field of just 6 participants.  We lined up around 1 p.m. with temperatures in the mid-80’s, and hit the course.

I was first off the line and into the woods leading Tim Fargo and Nate Layle.  Tim and I dropped Nate after a mile or so, and after passing a few other riders from other classes, I dropped Tim about 2.5 miles into the first lap.  From this point in the race, I just kept my pace up to try to ensure I wouldn’t be caught.  The Expert/Elite SS lap times were around 27-29 minutes, and I wanted to keep mine under 30.  I completed my first lap in just about 29 minutes, and on my way back into the woods, I saw Tim and Nate coming out to finish their first lap – this meant that I had at least a minute on them.  I tried to keep my pace consistent throughout my second and third laps, and apart from a brief moment of panic during my third lap when I thought Tim was close behind me, I managed to do so.  I also made the choice to have a GU pack at the beginning of my third lap to try and prevent the fading I’d been experiencing, which I believe helped quite a bit.  I finished in just over 1:30 for my second win on the season.

Brighton Rec Repeat SS Sport Podium

 

There are two more races in the Tailwind series, and four more in the MMBA CPS.  My goal is to protect my Tailwind series lead, and to finish in the top 3 in the MMBA series.  I’m going to keep my training intensity high, and possibly add in some running to increase my endurance.  We’ll see how it shakes out! – Adam Cefai

Bloomer Park Daze

Bloomer Park Daze – June 30th, 2013 – Rochester Hills, Michigan – Bloomer Park

I’ll try to keep this one short.  So: we’re on the east side visiting family again, and I decided to race. Based on basically nothing but my own hubris, I changed up my gearing to 36×17, which ended up being a slight mistake.  Bloomer Park has a lot of technical switchbacks and tough, punchy climbs, along with a decent amount of roots.  And not much flat.  I would have been better off with 2:1, maybe a bit lighter.  The east side had a lot of rain the week prior, so there were some pretty muddy sections as well.  It’s a 6-mile loop, and the Sport SS class was doing 3 laps.

Roots!

I hadn’t ridden Bloomer Park before, so my plan for the first lap was to stay on the leader’s wheel to get a handle on the course.  And then I remembered I hate riding behind people in a race situation.  I was 2nd into the woods and, as usual, we got caught up in traffic from the age groups starting before us.  After about 3 miles of tight singletrack and some strategic passing of slower riders from other groups, the course opened up a bit and I passed the SS rider in front of me.  For the remainder of the 1st lap and the entire 2nd lap, I led two other singlespeeders around the course.  I tried to keep the pace quick in order to drop them, but they didn’t seem to have any trouble staying on my wheel.  I tried not to think about that.  During the 3rd lap the traffic cleared up a bit, and on one particularly long climb about 2 miles in, I decided to drop the hammer to see if I could put some distance between us.  I believe it worked for a bit, but they caught me again shortly when we came into another section of switchbacks.  With about 2 miles to go, we got to the water crossing/mud pit that was  followed immediately by a 3′ steep root ledge and a long-ish gravel climb.  On our previous trips through this section I was able to unclip one foot to kind of hop up the ledge (which was unrideable due to the mud), clip back in quickly, and start up the climb.  On this occasion I messed that procedure up, and the gents behind me were able to make a pass.  When I tried to go after them, I realized my legs were toast.  I had made two mistakes: my gearing was just a bit too heavy, and I shouldn’t have tried to drop them on the long climb early in the 3rd lap.  As I finished the last two miles, I glanced behind a few times to see if any other SS riders were around, but I was well clear.  I cruised in for 3rd place in the Sport SS class with a time of 1:27:18, which was also 4th overall.

2013 Bloomer Park Daze SS Sport Podium