May was indeed a busy month for the rassers! Everyone continued to train hard and recover harder and their performances are evidence of their diligence.
This report begins on May 15. You say May 15 is a Friday, though. True, indeed, but it was also the date of the 4TH CCNS KERMIS P/B CCAP in Hartford, CT. This is another unique crit race around Rentschler Stadium, and one that Paul L. didn't want to miss. Check it out here. Despite getting stuck in traffic and almost missing the start, Paul finished in the top third of the Cat 3 Field which included 70+ starters.
On May 16, Kevin E. would buckle up the aero helmet again and line up for the Upper Freehold Time Trial. This is a another great circuit course with some challenging turns and a few ups and downs. Kevin cut through the wind and finished up 11th in the Cat 4/5 Men. Again, his consistency has paid off in that after this event, he is now in the top 10 for the Cup with 6 races left on the calendar. Frank S. also competed in the TT, but unfortunately missed a turn where a marshal had left their post for some reason. He found his way back on course, and despite the 2 miles extra, was able to still come in faster than a few of his competitors.
The New Jersey State Mountain Bike Race would return to the wilds of Jungle Habitat in West Milford again this year. Team Town Cycle organized this event on Sunday, May 17, and a nice group of BJL Coaching Athletes got their tech on for this fun event, which was also H2H Race #3. Greg S. had his best placing of the year so far, taking 4th, just 50 seconds off the podium, in Cat 1 Masters Men 50+. Brooke W. jumped up on the last step of the podium in Cat 1 Master Women 40+. For the Cat 2s, Chris C. battled with a late race flat, but still took the VICTORY in Junior Men 15-18. Rod M. scooped up some more points for the overall with a 9th place in Master Men 50+. And Stef M. had as solid race over the rough course coming in 4th in Master Women 40+.
Many of the mountain bike racers would be resting and training on the next weekend, but Memorial Day brings some big crit racing to New Jersey. Paul L. decided on Bound Brook on Sunday and the Grand Daddy of the crit races, Somerville on Monday. His goal on Sunday was to get his legs moving and primed for Monday, and he did just that. He finished with the main field in this fairly technical event. On Monday, Paul was riding great in this national calendar event, when a reality of crit racing showed up...crash. He was taken out with over half the race to go. Unfortunately, his saddle broke, among other things on his bike, and couldn't take advantage of the free lap and get back in. FORTUNATELY, Paul himself escaped rather unscathed and would live to fight another day, and he certainly did. (Spoiler alert: Paul WON the next race he entered in early June--update coming!)
The final weekend of May saw the local mountain bikers head north to Tymor Park for H2H Race #4. A few of the BJL Coaching Athletes made their way up to LaGrangeville, NY, for this fun and challenging course. Stef M. would have a good showing in her last race before shoulder surgery, scoring a 2nd place finish in Cat 2 Women 40+. Rod M. scooped up a handful of points in 11th in a DEEP Cat 2 Master Men 50+. And Chris C. kept up his winning ways, taking the victory in Cat 2 Men 15-18, and also posting the fastest Cat 2 time out of EVERYONE!
The temperatures and the racing has been heating up and the fun continued through June.
Since I've last checked in with a racing recap, there's been quite a bit of action with the BJL Coaching Athletes.
Let's jump back to the Ides of March and the MTBNJ Grundle Short Track Mountain Bike Race was taking place. The conditions were snowy and muddy, but that didn't deter these hardy racers. One of the area's top U19 Racers, Morgan P. entered in the open men and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th. In the Women's Open Field, Kathryn C. put her 'Cross skills to good use on her mountain bike and took home second place. This was a nice tune up race for both athletes.
The strange weather in March left the weekend of the 21st and 22nd open, but the following weekend brought us three very different races. Masters Racer Greg S., making his comeback after a 20 year break from racing Pro Mountain Bikes, headed south the the March Mayhem Mountain Bike Race. An early race mechanical forced him to stop and lose contact with the gravy train on this fast and flowy course, but he fought back hard to finish 5th.
Paul L. got involved in the penultimate Branchbrook Spring Series, battling stiff winds and a talent rich 35+ field. A break went up the road, and Paul finished 3rd in the field sprint to take 12th place overall.
And for something completely different, Kathryn C. went back to her mother land of Michigan for the very popular Barry Roubaix dirt and gravel road race. Just shy of 3000 (yes, 3000) folks register for the three different race lengths, and of course Kathryn was all in with the 62 mile loop and 3800' of elevation gain. The morning brought mid-teens for temperatures but she used her 'cross racing experience to be properly dressed and prepared. The mass start presented some difficulty in knowing who was in your field, but KC kept fighting hard and finished up 6th in the Open Women out of 41 starters, of which only 28 finished.
The first weekend of April had the Time Trialists ready to race against the clock for the first time this year. Both Kevin E. and Jan S. went to the northern part of the 'Jersey Shore for the classic TT kickoff race, Sandy Hook. This would be Kevin's second go at the 7 mile out and back course, and Jan's first. The wind was nasty that day, gusting up to 30+ mph. Kevin bettered his result from last year coming in at 11th with friend and temmate Jan, coming in just seconds behind him in 12th. Great start to the season, men!
Also on April 4th was the last Branchbrook Park Race, dealing with crazy windy conditions again. Frank S. got involved getting his legs back under him with a strong pack finish where many in his Cat 4 Race were dropped. Paul finished up 15th with a strong field sprint chasing yet another break in the 35+ Race.
On April 11th was the Cherry Blossom Challenge back at Branchbrook Park. This race traditionally brings out the best road racers in the region, and this running didn't disappoint. Paul L. entered the Cat 3 Race as a little tune-up for his race on the 5th, and finished up 18th, again doing well in the field sprint after a break away got clear on the first lap. Frank S. put himself back in action and finished in the pack in the Cat 4 Race, where almost a 1/3 of the field didn't finish due to the windy conditions. I enterred the Pro 1/2/3 Race, and with $1500 on the line, I knew all the heavy hitters would be there. I was happy to stay in the field after a breakway went clear at about mile 40 of the 50 mile race. I finished up 28th of the 81 starters, 3rd place Cat 3. The conditions wreaked havoc on this group as well, as only 43 finished the race.
The next day, Paul got his game on at the Carl Dolan Memorial Spring Classic. He rode a beautiful race and sprinted for 5th place out of the 79 finishers. This was a super result and some more points from USA Cycling.
On Saturday, April 18th, the TT'ers were back at it at the 2nd running of the Allamuchy TT Course. This super fun course had some great conditions and Kevin E. put himself just into the top 10, in 10th. This will give Kevin some good cup points and help to hone his form for the rest of the season.
The 18th was day one of one of the largest races in the country, The Battenkill Pro/Am. Pete S. took the journey to upper New York State for his first test of the season, and crossed the line in 22nd out of the 50+ starters in his Cat 5 group. Pete showed tremendous tenacity and will power after a bit of a late start to his training this year. Kathryn C. had a wonderful race, making all the right moves. The Women's Cat 4 race would be won by a solo breakaway from mile 9, but KC put herself into the head of the field as the chase group whittled itself down to a mere 8 riders. Kathryn sprinted her way to 4th place, missing 3rd by a 1/4 of a wheel. None-the-less, a brilliant race, Kathryn!
Sunday the 19th was the first Hudson to Highlands Mountain Bike Race of the year. This is an 8 race series located in NJ and NY that brings out the top racers of the region. The race was promoted by MTBNJ and they laid out a challenging and fun course. BJL Coaching Athletes started the series off strong with U19 Racer Morgan P. coming in 2nd in Cat 1 Men 19-39, Stef M. earning 4th in Cat 2 Women 40+, Rod M. scoring 7th in Cat 2 Men 50+, and Greg S. taking home 7th in Cat 1 Men 50+. Chris C., in his first Cat 2 Race of his life, finished 1st in the 15-18 Junior Men, and top 5 out of all Cat 2s.
This is a great start for all of these athletes. Their hard work and perseverance is really paying off, and will only pay greater dividends as the season rolls on. I'm very excited to witness all the success that will come!
This weekend is bringing some great racing action for BJL Coaching Athletes!
Kathryn C. and Pete S. will be up at The Tour of the Battenkill, testing their skills and endurance over the 68 miles of dirt and paved roads on Saturday. Kathryn will be bringing her cyclocross racing experience along with some amazing fitness to tame the unpaved roads and climbs, and Pete brings his amazing tenacity and attitude while using this as a training race.
Kevin E. is racing against the clock at the Allamuchy Time Trial, stop two of the NJ Time Trial Cup, also on Saturday. Kevin finished just outside the top 10 at Sand Hook, as is well prepared to conquer this fun out-and-backish course.
Chris C., Brook W., Morgan P., Greg S., Stef M., and Rod M. will also be at Allamuchy, but on Sunday racing mountain bikes at the kickoff event of the Hudson to Highlands Regional Mountain Bike Race Series. The good folks at MTBNJ.com have laid out a fun loop for their cross country racing pleasure.
I will be racing the South Jersey Law Enforcement Challenge with my good pal and teammate Keith L.. This event, which was developed to raise money and awareness in memory of Police Officers killed in the line of duty, takes place in Medford, NJ. Teams of two must stay together throughout the entire event while they trail run, mountain bike, canoe, then finish up with another trail run.
Good luck to all! Leave it all out there and have fun!
BJL Coaching Athlete Gili T. recently traveled to Israel to participate in a 200km ride starting in the afternoon and rolling through the night. The course was mostly on gravel and dirt roads, and Gili had a great ride as you can read below. Goes to show you what you can accomplish with 6-8 hours of training per week, when that training is focused and purposeful. These types of e-mails and phone calls can make a coach grin from ear to ear! Nice work, Gili!
"Hi coach from the holy land and 70th degrees.
I had a blast ride: total 11h ride time and total of close to 200km (from thursday at 1pm to Friday at 5am)with 3 stops, one for 30 min and two of one hour long each.
Mostly flat ride on mostly gravel / dirt road. I did it effortlessly keeping max z2 and even at this had to wait for the rest. Only another guy finished the whole course but i had to wait for him to a point that I could have shaved an hour at least.
Salsa spearfish turned to be a hack of a bike!!
Fast, convenience, superb geometry and handling.
Want to thank you for a good training year with many milestones and achievements.
The Mountain Man is one of favorite races out there, having participated in this since 1996 or 1997. Not every year, but I have quite a few Mountain Man sweatshirts floating around.
This year I hadn't done any run prep, and while I've done the "off the couch" thing before, I didn't want to do that to myself this year. Also, after getting third last year, with at least a little running in my legs, I didn't want to go backwards.
So...I had the bright idea to do it relay with my 9 year old nephew. Chris, the promoter, basically created this category for us, which was cool. I've seen folks do relay before, mostly father/son type of deal. Since my son is 5 months old, that probably wasn't going to work out yet.
Race day brought some amazing weather, and we were pumped. My nephew had a great run, coming in safely at 17:30. He handed off the "baton" and I was off. I knew I could go eye-bleeding hard since I didn't have to run afterwards. And, although my eyes didn't bleed, I did almost think I was going to black out. We had about 25 or so in front of us, so I had plenty of rabbits. I think I caught 10 to 12 on the first little climb up Patriot's, then kept moving forward from there. My goal was to catch everyone and to set a new fastest lap time. I knew the leaders had about 5 minutes on me, and one was former professional Jonathan Erdyli (sp). While not a mountain biker, he's good on his mountain bike on terrain like LM.
I kept pushing and pushing and came in on my first lap at about 20.5 minutes. I knew I had bested my fast lap from last year, as I would hope, and felt good for a second lap. I hit it hard, and chased down a handful more. I started recognizing the jerseys of the leaders, and when I saw last year's winner, I knew I was in good shape. However, I caught him just before the roller coaster at the end.
So I came in hot with the fastest bike time by 5 minutes. Honestly, I would have been a bit embarrassed if I didn't since I had fresh legs. I didn't think I caught everyone, and I didn't, but my family was cheering saying "great job!" I asked, "How many?" and it turns out it was only Erdyli and he was only 15 seconds up! Doh! So my nephew was off.
He did GREAT, and only had 3 people pass him. He was 30 seconds faster than his first run, and he attributed this to no traffic.
He came in and put us in 5th overall, and 1st (out of one ) relay team. He was soooo pumped that it totally made my day! For a point of fact, he's a very good, competitive runner, but had never trail run before. When he gets a little older and some more experience...look out.
Chris, after 26 years, is seriously considering adding a relay category. I hope he does as this will really open this event up to more mountain bikers and only add to the fun nature of this race.
What a super day!
And, as a bonus, my teammate Kris Weber showed up and it was great seeing him. He ROCKED the course and finished FIRST in his age bracket. Congrats, Weber!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.