Thursday, February 21, 2013

Declaring War Against Cystic Fibrosis!

As many of you are aware, I am now racing on Team CF.  The mission of the team is to use cycling as a platform to promote fitness for those with CF, to increase awareness of CF, and to raise money for CF research.  I am excited about being on Team CF and doing what I can to battle this horrible disease.  One small contribution I am making to the team is participating in an event known as the Cycle for Life.

In 2013, there is going to be a Cycle for Life Event held in Pittsburgh, PA.  I have helped in the course design and think it is going to be a fun ride and event for both experienced and novice cyclists.  I encourage your participation in the event, or if you're unable to do the ride, to find a cyclist you would like to sponsor.

If you're interested in participating in the Aptalis Cycle for Life and would like more information about the ride, please use this link:

If you're unable to do the event and would like to make a contribution to my ride, please use this link:

I do appreciate your help and I know all those who suffer from CF will also be very appreciative of any contribution you can make.

Hopefully, I will see many of my cycling friends at this ride!  Happy Trails....  Gerry

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Season

It seems fitting to start my first blog post of 2013 after doing my first race of the season, Southern Cross in Dahlonega, GA, especially since the last post I added to this page was also about an ultra cross race.  My hiatus from writing was not because I had nothing else happening in my life since last October, but more because I had too much going-on.  In addition to doing regular cross races all fall until the second week of December, I've also been busy buying a new house, securing a new position at work and joining a new cycling team, Team CF.

When I'm busy like this, time seems to fly by even faster than it usually does.  It's hard to believe winter is almost over and the racing season is here once again.  I've had a pretty standard off season with some riding, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and outdoor activities mixed into my training to keep things interesting.  But, with my first race of the season completed and my first NUE Race fast approaching, I know it's time to take my riding a little more seriously now.  I'm hoping the weather will cooperate with me and my riding plans.  

So,anyway, let me get back to talking about Southern Cross (SCX).  I can think of no better way to test out my fitness than by doing this race.  It's a ride of about 50 miles on primarily gravel roads with approximately 6600 feet of climbing.  Doing a race like this early in the season against southern riders with many more miles in their legs than me is a perfect way for to see where my fitness level is.  In my past two attempts at SCX, I've used bikes with gears: a cross bike in 2011 and a mtb with cross tires in 2012.  This year I chose a single speed CX bike because my plan is to compete in the SS category in the American Ultra Cross Series this year. Before the race started, my goal was to match my finishing time of last year and to beat the winning SS time of last year set by my CF teammate Roger Masse.

Overall, the race started very well for me.  I was able to latch on to the lead group of riders after going through the initial cross course section of the route and stick with that bunch for the first five miles or so.  I lost contact with the group when the gear ratio I was using, a 40x21, wasn't quite enough to keep pace when the attacks started on the long, fast and gradual climbs.  I didn't see any other SS riders around me and I knew it was better to get into my own rhythm than it was trying to match the fast pace being set by the geared riders.  By the top of the first major climb, at about mile 17 or so, I thought my race was going as planned and I was happy with how I felt.

I then started the long descent back down the mountain.  It was pretty cold outside, at about 35 degrees, and I thought I had a pretty commanding lead, so I decided to take no crazy risks on the fast descent.  I must have rode the descent way too conservatively because by the bottom of the hill another SS racer, Kelly Klett, had joined me.  At that moment, I knew my race strategy needed to change and become more aggressive.

A photo of me headed back up the mountain at SCX.
Kelly was riding very well and much better than I ever remember him riding in the past.  When we started the second trip up the mountain, I thought he might fade away because he was on a mtn bike and I was using a lighter cross bike.  Kelly climbed strong and if anything, I was having difficulty hanging with him.  And, to make matters worse, I knew another long descent would soon come after we crested the mountain.  Fortunately, I was able to ride my skinny tired cross bike like a mad man down the mountain this time and hang with Kelly.  It was definitely faster than I wanted to go on that bike, but I knew it was necessary if I had any chance at winning the race.

The paved roads leading back to the winery were uneventful.  With Kelly and I each only having one gear, we both realized that attacking each other would be a waste of energy, so we rode at a steady pace into the Monteluce.  I was hoping to out run Kelly on the run-up, but he hung with me and I knew it would be hard to out ride his mtn bike on the remainder of the course.  The rest of the course was much more mtn bike friendly and sections that Kelly rode with ease on a mtn bike were not so easy on a cross bike.  My final blow came when I had to run the creek crossing that Kelly was able to ride.  I did my best to close the gap, but knew the distance to the finish line was too close and my heart rate was too high for me to get the win.

But, even though I did not get the win, I was happy with my time and also happy with my overall fitness for it only being February.  I definitely have some work to do before I can say I have race fitness, but it sure was fun to do the Southern Cross Race as an early season fitness test!  Also, congrats to Kelly for riding an excellent race and to my CF Teammates Cheryl Sornson and Stephanie Swan for their great finishes!

Happy Trails...  Gerry

Photo Credit: Donna Combs Garcia