Off-season Island

Posted: September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’ll quickly clear the air with this post by saying it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, yes. Apathetic apology for being busy and not blogging. Done. A long break from keyboard it’s been. I haven’t raced much either. In the beginning of August post Tour of Elk Grove I became sick with a respiratory infection that put my body and more staggeringly my mind on a set course for off-season island and since then I’ve drinking out of coconuts served by monkey butlers and living life off of the power-meter grid. There is dust settling on the top tube of my Felt and it deserves its place there. I’ve been racing and writing about it non stop since I moved out to San Diego last October. In honesty I’ve probably spent a bit too much time away from my off-season faces and off-season places.  It’s time to come back and see them all again.

I chose to stay in Milwaukee for the end of the summer with a fellow cyclist and friend. I pass the time by casually riding to work at a Wheel & Sprocket bike shop. (Talk about putting your money where you mouth is: They actually pay me to bike to work! Now that is a bike shop committed to bike commuting). And at the end of my days I ride home, have a beer, contemplate what it all means , and decide falling asleep that it means a little something different than the day before. It’s the luxury of fall and the time of harvest.

Taking a break early this season means having more time for friends and family. More importantly for you, I have more mental energy to put into writing. Even though I don’t have much current racing to speak of I’m going to try and take the next month and share some of the stories from the busy last two years of my life on a bike. The same years filled some of the most interesting tales I have to tell and not had enough time to tell them so stick around. If I haven’t seen you in a while come visit me. You can find me on off-season island (Milwaukee). I’ll be here enjoying it.

The first day of the Intelligensia Cup series was yesterday in Kenosha. I raced with two other teammates and with a field of about 35 or so there were only two other big teams there represented with about 5-6 guys each. The lacked the big depth of TOAD but the top end guys were still there and with out all of the “filler” of the peloton it put more responsibility on me and the other guys from share care to mark moves. ISCORP kept launching move after move and we had to mark them. I went to go across a gap about 10 minutes into the race and a complete freak accident happened. Before the race my bike was shifting funny so I took it to neutral support. They adjusted it and said was good to go. As I stood up to sprint across the gap my pedals locked up and i found myself balancing on the front wheel of my bike for a split second going about 28 mph. Once the back end of the bike came down the rear wheel was locked up and skidded right out of my bike putting me on the road straight on my ass. Man that stung. I got up did damage assessment and walked over to the pit. They handed me a a neutral bike and after a few free laps I was back in the race. It took me a few laps to get the handling down on a totally different set up but once I got it I felt positive that my legs were good. Teammate chad Harley initiated a big break away up the front that everyone wanted to get to. I contented myself to sit on one of the Russians in the field who I noticed had his national champion bands on the sleeves and was pedaling through all the corners that no one else dared to. Dude was pretty damn fast and took a two lap pull that brought a slit field to the break away. We were about 12 now and a few laps later caught the field.

With 12 to go I watched Robbie steal a prime for $50. 6 laps latter they rang the bell and I figured I better get some money as well. I went early got past by a predator guy but kicked again to kick for it. Legs felt good. Things got chaotic as they always do in the last 3 laps but ISCORP led out things while Robbie and the other ruski were up the road with 1 to go. Last lap we all kick one guy from the field pips Robbie for 2nd Chad pulls into 4th and I’m 6th. Not a bad showing and we bring home some money.

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Podium kenosha

I think my legs are coming around from TOAD as last week they were dead. I feel really positive after the first race of this series even though I had a freak crash.

20130713_114909Now with no Chicago race today I think it’s time to put on my Wingtips I got in Vietnam and do some Wedding crashing in Milwaukee. Yehaa!20130713_115008

Prarie State Cycling Series

Posted: July 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageThe Intelligensia Cup Prarie State Cycling Series starts tomorrow in Kenosha. I’m not entirely sure what to expect. It’s supposed to be borrowing the same format and organization of TOAD. I putting a suggestion in the suggestion box that they give the racers Intelligensia espresso before the race just like TOAD gives out chocolate milk after the race. Their coffee is pretty damn good and the website is pretty neato as well. http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/

 Either way there is quite a bit of money at each race and so I’d expect lots of guys to show up and go fast in order to win that money but if you check online registration that doesn’t seem to be entirely the case. With just a few guys on the start list so far only time will tell.  The bummer is that the down town Chicago Criterium has been canceled. It would have been a fun one but you can’t blame the organizers. To say that hosting a crit race at that location is ambitious is an understatement. Hopefully we see it happen next year. So I’ll be racing tomorrow and Sunday have a mid week break and then the first two days of NCC races for sure on Thursday and Friday of next week. I might jump into the last two as well depending on how I’m feeling. We’ll just have to see. Hope to see you there!

Mad-tionals

Posted: July 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

The square was hot. It was a high 90 something humid July afternoon in between Monona and Mendota. At 1:30pm the temperature on state street put into question whether the moisture on your body was your own or collected from the muggy Wisconsin summer air. That kind of heat can be a real bastard sometimes in bike racing. Some guys hate the heat, others despise the cold. But with either one, all you have to do is hate them just a little bit less than the next guy and you’ve gain an ally. The heat will beat everybody else before it beats you if you reserve a small part of yourself that invites the heat in. Last year I was racing really well in the heat but this year it’s exactly what cracked me at the National Championship Criterium race in Madison Wi.

The circumstances were made plain in the Team bus. “Okay boys. There’s only one jersey filled with stars and stripes and only one guy can take it home today. All the rest is just for high fives. We can win as a team or we can get second but winning is the only thing that matters today. All the glory is on top we gotta go get it.” I was pretty excited and pretty nervous.

It seemed like we were in the sun for half an hour before they called us to the staging area and already I was feeling the sun get to me a little bit. After the start of the race I got to the front early and went with a few moves. My job was to get into the early breaks and hopefully help save some matches for my teammates at the end to burn in the sprint. Once those moves came back I stuck around in the top 1/3 of the field to recover. The problem was, I’m wasn’t recovering as well as I should have been. My head started to feel dizzy about 35 minutes in. This was a longer crit (80km) and it wasn’t where I wanted to be. An hour passed and it’s became harder to move up and even find the front. The last few laps come around and I was still in the field but basically out of the race. I made a few last-ditch efforts trying to move up to the front and help establish the lead out train for my team but i was cooked. All I could do is hang around and roll over the line defeated by the heat.

On top of the heat there were some intentionally dangerous moves being made at the front in the final laps which was kinda disappointing to see. A team tried to take control but gave it a half ass effort. The pace they set was too slow to actually control and so a few guys resorted to chopping everyone going from corner to corner before the turns. Ultimately I think it just pissed off the whole field. Racing negatively like that is bad for both the sponsors and the individuals racing for that team. Either way my Sharecare teammates Rahsaan and Yosovany survived the lumberjack lead out to sprint for a 4th and 5th placing. Congrats to both of them as they stuck it out on a hard day of heat and dangerous moves to podium. They are both flying right now and it’s good to see them in good form.

Rahsaan and Yosovany on the podium infront of the Capitol building.

Rahsaan and Yosovany on the podium in front of the Capitol building.

I finished 57th which is disappointing. I know I can do better.  I let the heat get to me while racing around the Capitol on Sunday. I need to change that next time we race in the heat and I will. Despite my disappointment. I was really happy to see so many of my good Madison friends out lining the course and cheering. That means so much to me. Thanks guys.

-JM

Tour of America’s Dairyland

has come and gone and what a journey it’s been. Each day was a new story in a new town in Wisconsin. It’s was a Tour of both ups and downs like all stage races have but this year’s Tour of America’s Dairyland was a special experience for me. After every race when someone would ask how i did I would jokingly reply 100% better than last year. No matter how badly it went I was satisfied to be in one piece racing through the series. I suppose our ups came on Monday in Sheboygan where Rahsaan was able to unleash his sprint onto the podium for 2nd. The biggest success was claimed at the most important race of the series day 10 on Downers Avenue. It was a fast race where money was getting thrown around every lap. The climax of the race is not the finish but instead the “Super Preme” where they ring a bell and each team tries to put their sprinter over the line in first to win a MASSIVE $6000 prize. Something pretty incredible happend this year. Rahsaan has won the prize before but this time he went from the back of the pack of 130 riders a few laps before and then shoot out from the front to take the preme from 500 meters out. It was an amazing feat.

For me personally it was a learning experience much like the whole season has been racing at such a high level. Somedays I rode strong; Fond du lac I rode on the front in the rain. Some days I had bad luck: the road races I flatted out of. Somedays I rode like shit: the last day in Wauwatosa I had nothing.

Despite some of the team success we finished the series winless and that has left our guys a bit sore. But being part of such a high level squad requires you to make disappointment it into motivation. The job is never really done and there is a great opportunity to capitalize on waiting for me this weekend.

It will be my first time racing in a National Championships competition this weekend. Even more special is that they are being held right here in Madison, Wisconsin. Friday is the road race and will no doubt be brutally challenging, climbing the leg busting Mounds Park road a torturing six times. My focus will be on Sunday for the criterium race where we race around the capitol. We are in the hunt for a W and I will ride in support of the team to try to bring a win for our sponsors and my teammates.Until then it’s time to rest and recover my tired legs.

Just want to give a big thanks to…

Rick Anderson for sharing his beautiful home with up to 4 sweaty tired racers this past week in Milwaukee. We all had a great time together. Enjoy some peace and quiet time now. Speed Cycling for helping me maintain my fitness and preparing me for this event. Also Thanks to Wheel and Sprocket for your continued support on all fronts. Mike Teff from the fox point store. You’ve earned a spot on my list of top mechanics! Hope everyone has a great 4th of July.

Among the ups and downs, the failures and success I kept coming back to this.

Deegan and I

I posted this picture on facebook in the middle of last week. It’s me and the neighbor boy who came to watch me race at Elkhart lake. Even though I had a pretty crappy race he was there cheering me on the whole time and even came to the following race in Fond Du Lac the next day. He just liked to watch the racers go by really fast and was happy he knew one of them. It didn’t matter to him which number came next to the name of the racer on the results sheet. I wrote on Facebook:

-“Because sometimes it doesn’t matter how the race goes. It’s about making a kid feel special. Thanks little buddy for reminding of that.”

Reflecting on the past week and looking forward I guess I’ve come to realize that I too am a kid in that photo. Because bike racing for me it’s all about putting on a show for people. It’s about competing at the highest level but in a format that anyone can easily approach and access- ultimately making both kids and adults happy. But in another sense racing really brings back memories of being a kid and having that special feeling every time you hop on your bike whether it’s competing for a National Championship title or just to the end of the driveway and back.

Thanks for Reading,

-JM

Race ready.

Getting bikes ready! This is what the 10 minutes of calm before the storm looks like. Tonight at 6:00pm Sheboygan Wi!

More photos to come from TOAD at:

http://www.sharecare.com/group/sharecare-pro-cycling-team

Image  —  Posted: June 24, 2013 in Bike racing, biking, cycling photos, fitness, Inspiration, Road Racing
Tags: , , , ,

It’s time for some TOAD

Posted: June 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’m racing today! I didn’t I race yesterday though. In fact I haven’t raced the last four days of TOAD. Why? Well if you’ll remember I started this blog last year at this time. I was on a couch in my boxers with a fractured collarbone and a leg stitched up from a break lever having gone through it the night before. I had broken my shit, my whole shit ,and nothing but my shit on the “pristine” pavement of Shorewood Wi in the Tour of America’s Dairy Land’s first race.

clavicula

This year I didn’t race it. Not because I learned my lesson or anything having received a bone dismantling from a last lap crash. No rather this year i’ve been out because the last four days have been National Calendar Championship races. Which means each team can only have 6 riders and lately I’ve been the 7th best guy on our team of 7 so you get the idea. Luckily this year’s race in Shorewood and the rest of the three days were blacktop-lobotomy free for my teammates.

Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that I’ve been out. I’ll be more fresh for the road races and the stuff close to home. Maybe it’s not. I’m not into analyzing my blessings anymore since, you know, I’ve already made a deal at diablo and all. But I’ll be fresh for today’s home town course in Sheboygan and hopefully have good legs for the road races in Fond Du Lac and Elkhart Lake later this week. 7 days of racing coming up. If you have the chance don’t miss out. The fun is going on all day in downtown Sheboygan and the pro race starts at 6:00pm. So fill up that cooler full of the lightest beer you can find, cut the sleeves off that XL tee they gave you for volunteering at a brat fry, and roll on down to the corner of 8th and Niagara because summer bike racing is here in Wisconsin for every body to enjoy! Let the party begin. Amen.

 

For more ino stop by the website- http://www.tourofamericasdairyland.com/

I’d like to give a big thanks our awesome sponsors for helping our team be a part of this fantastic racing series.

Sharecare, Wheel & Sprocket, Felt, RACC Hutchison Tires, Mercury Wheels, Thompson Athlete Octane, and Sidi Shoes