Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CX Nats 07...Kansas City

I was not really looking forward to writing this post after a somewhat miserable weekend in Kansas City for cross nationals. After the previous week's good performances and improving fitness I allowed myself a little confidence going into the final big show of the season......unfortunately Mother Nature had plans to put me in my place.
We left Wednesday on the long drive West and stopped in St Louis to visit Cara's family which included a trip to the hospital to see her sister and 2 day old niece. Thursday we completed the drive over to KC. When we arrived at the venue we got to pre-ride the course in beautiful mud. It was great and I had a blast riding 4 or 5 laps in slow, energy sucking mud. I loved it. No joke. In fact I honestly thought that if we had those conditions for my age group race I would have had no trouble at all getting on the podium...unfortunately the weather report called for frigid temperatures and a snow storm Friday night and Saturday. For Cara's race on Friday the course was still awesome....a bit more frozen and slippery than Thursday, but still good. She rode well to 11th in her master's event......that night came even lower temperatures and snow.
For my race Saturday the temp was about 21 degrees and the course was covered in rock hard slippery, icy ruts....on top of that was about 2 inches of snow....and it was still coming down. I didn't know exactly how the course would "feel", so I just warmed up and hoped for the best. I had a front row call up and managed a really good start (for me) and was able to stay ahead of a huge pile up in the first turn. I was 6th or 7th heading out onto the course.....then we hit the ice. I was riding, but 2/3 of my energy went into keeping the bike upright as opposed to going forward....riders were passing me and I was terrified. Give me mud, even snow, but ice and I have had a very unhappy relationship for years....going all the way back to 2004 when I broke my leg quite badly falling on black ice while working as a messenger in Philly (that is a whole other story).....since then I can't seem to get the nerve to ride fast on ice.....I just ride scared... which is what I did Saturday. I watched riders pass me, then crash, get up and pass me again. I actually managed not to crash until about half way in ..then I had two or three falls that were pretty hard. After a rider right in front of me slid face first into a metal pole...and I was already out of the top 20.....I turned off the gas and just rode in survival mode to finish. I was disappointed to say the least...and was not even physically tired. Kudos to the guys at the front ...they had the fitness AND the skill needed on this course.
Sunday was the elite race, and while it was still cold (below 30), the sun was out. I decided that today I was going to have fun....no pressure for results, just ride in the mud (it was still very icy, but much more rideable and faster than Saturday)....until someone tells me to stop. I was #41 on the starting grid out of about 160 registered...and I managed a great start again. I was maybe 25th going onto the course. The last few years I have second guessed my participation in the elite race at nats. I am usually somewhere between 30th and 50th...a bit better than the middle, but not much. I have made it to the end on a bunch of occasions and have been pulled just as many times....but regardless of results, being part of the big show at nationals is just too much fun to pass up. It is unlike any other cycling event I know of....so many fans screaming at you....either heckling or encouraging....and as opposed to a road race, you are actually going slow enough to hear everything they say....and it is a blast. This race was no different, and the crazy icy, muddy difficulty of the course made all that much more insane. I had a grin on my face from the starting gun to the moment they pulled my sorry butt off the course when the leaders got close to lapping me half way in. On the second lap I had a spectacular crash when my muddy glove slipped of the bars as I was coming out of a nasty gully....Sure it hurt and it took me a while to get untangled from my bike and going again amid the cheers of many witnesses....but I am pretty sure I was laughing out loud the entire time.
So after some disappointing results, but, none the less, a fun experience, I am already looking forward to next cross season!
Thanks again to my cross team sponsors! ... and especially Mark Hekman for putting it together....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

MSG & NC Cross Series Finals

The Series finales of both the MSG and NC Cross series were last weekend. Saturday was the last MSG race up in Tennessee. The weather was bleak: cold and light rain: cross weather. After a weekend off from racing last week, I was not sure how I would feel ....but things went well and I managed 2nd behind Dan Timmerman. It was a fun race and 3 of us rode together behind Dan until the last run-up @ 100 meters to go...the only reason I managed 2nd was because Will Black was on his single speed! This gave me plenty of points to take the overall series win.
So after that race I ran back to the car and had just enough time to switch skin suits and get to the start of the real single speed race. So for this final race, Dwayne, the series promoter has this idea to have a "Little Debbie short cut". For anyone who doesn't know, Little Debbie snacks are the ultimate in inexpensive sugary, fatty junk food. The rule was: after the barriers you could pull over, stuff a little Debbie snack cake in your mouth (various varieties available) then take a short cut on the course that would save about 10 seconds. I do believe that when I heard this my smile could have powered a Russian nuclear attack submarine. No doubt about it...this race was MINE. At the first snack stop I grabbed an oatmeal cream pie. Getting the whole thing in my mouth while trying to breathe after several minutes of all out cross racing was a challenge....and I think a large portion of it got sucked into my lung, but I made it and had a nice gap on the field after the short cut. Next lap was a swiss cake roll....much easier to get in the mouth..and I was getting the hang of the process: stuff cake in mouth, breathe through nose and swallow as the lap progresses....hopefully well before the next stop. 3rd lap was a zebra cake ...and on the 4th lap I got cocky and had a swiss cake roll AND an oatmeal creme pie....and cruised to the finish unopposed. I suspect if there was a "Little Debbie short cut " at nationals you would see me on the podium for sure :)
After the series awards I hopped in the car with Josh Whitmore and took the long drive across state to Raleigh....the NC cross series final was to be in nearby Cary where the temps were in the mid 70s! The Cary course was quite technical and bone dry with lots of loose corners, a run up and a really steep ride-up. At first I thought I would not do well...but it ended up being a great day. After a mediocre start (as usual) I worked my way up to chasing for 4th with Charlie Storm. Charlie was just ahead of me in series points and we both knew that there was some cash at stake so we rode our butts off....it was great. We passed Charlie Pendry who was having some mechanical and crashing issues, then were closing on Travis Livermon who was riding in 2nd. Charlie was killing it, but I suspected I could outlast him. I did, and caught Travis by myself with 2 laps to go. I attacked when I felt t was a good spot for me and stayed away in 2nd to the end. Jon Hamblin rode away with the win. So 2nd in the final race and I managed to pull out 2nd overall for the series....a great way to lead into nationals next week.
Tomorrow we get in the car and head to nats in Kansas City. We will drive to St. Louis and stay with Cara's parents tomorrow night , then cruise over to KC on thursday. The temperature has been over 70 degrees here the last few days...but will be in the 20s and 30s over there! Not sure I am ready for that...
A couple other weekend notes:
Hekman is back racing! and we have the pictrures to prove it....
We got the new HED Stinger Wheels ...awesome...just in time for Nats

Friday, December 07, 2007

New Logo !

Here is the new company logo.... a cool new website is on the way as well...stay tuned ....



Tuesday, December 04, 2007


258 ....yes that is my current uci world cyclocross ranking with 4 points. Actually I am tied for 250th with like 20 other guys. I find this kind of funny actually. These days uci points are like gold on the US cross circuit....or it seems that way at any rate with riders traveling thousands of miles vying for just a couple precious points to get them one row closer to the front of the starting grid at elite nationals. I plan to have fun racing with the elites at nats, but honestly a few points and a couple rows closer to the front won't make much difference to what will be a slightly better than mid-pack finish for me. Don't get me wrong...I will race...and race hard pushing my limit for the best result possible, but I have no illusions.....the master's race is a different matter, but even there my goal is a little more modest than in past years due to the reality of talented competition. Now if only I could auction those points to the highest bidder.....or maybe even just give them to someone who could put them to better use :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

The End is Near...

I just realized yesterday that the end of the cross season.....and the entire 2007 racing season is just over two weeks away.....with just 4 or 5 race starts left for me in that time. Cross season is so short it seems to just fly by. My form seems to be continuing to improve, so we will see what happens at the last few big races.
This weekend I head the Ultrafit Annual Meeting in Arizona. Unfortunately this will cause me to miss the racing here at home, but maybe it will add a little freshness to the legs for the last two weekends.
The trip will be a quick, no nonsense affair. I travel all day today, will be at the meeting all day tomorrow, then travel home all day sunday, so no time to enjoy the southwest weather...I hope to come home with new knowledge and maybe some new business ideas.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

CX Bikes 07

I hope everyone has had a great Thanksgiving. With just a few race weekends left in the season, I thought I would list the gear I have been using for the 2007 CX campaign. Basically I have been using stock Cannondale CX 4 s with a few modifications to suit my needs.
The stock bikes are awesome and I have 2 x 52 cm bikes to race this season. I had a cannondale cx bike I loved back in 1999-2001....but these new rides are so much more advanced than the one I rode back then. The drive trains are sram rival (shifters, derailleurs), and the fork is Easton's carbon cross. The stock brakes are TRP carbon and are really nice. The black bike has cannondale's carbon si cranks (172.5mm) and comes stock with a control tech bar.
Ok, now for my mods: The bikes came speced with 170 cranks. I was able to get 172.5 si for the one bike, but put in an adapter sleeve and good old dura ace cranks on the other. The rings are 46 x 36 and 46 x 38 (dura ace). I use 12-26 or 12-27 on the back. One of the bikes came with a really wide bar, so I put on a deda 42 c to c. the Other has the stock Control Tech which I love. The Control Tech is 44cm outside to outside, so it is just slightly bigger than the deda and feels really nice. It also has a shallow drop and I find myself riding in the drops more because of that. The stems are 120mm, one cannondale the other deda. I put Thomson posts and WTB saddles on both rigs. After breaking a carbon seat post on the last lap at nationals last year I like the solid aluminum post now. Pedals are Crank Brother's candy, but you will notice I have eggbeaters on one bike in the picture. I am trying them for the first time and really like them.
The red bike has top mount brake levers that I call my "Iron Cross" levers. They are necessary for the IC race and for technical trail riding.....but for regular cross racing I find they really just get in the way. I would have taken them off after Iron Cross...but I am too lazy :)
Now the fun part: wheels and tires. The team was slated to get HED wheels, but they are lost in transit or something and I haven't seen them yet....so I am using the old cane creek carbon wheels circa 1999. I bought these 2 sets of wheels when I was on the Cane Creek road team years ago. These are not the new lightweight carbon wheels of today...but the solid old (read "heavier") wheels of yesteryear. For cross they are great. In fact, I rode at least one of these wheels to my win in the 35+ road national championship in 2001.....and I rode both sets at my two 2nd place finishes at cross nats in 2002 & 2003. Needless to say I have an affinity for these particular wheels. My new favorite tires are Dugast Rhinos. I went out on a limb and bought the big 34mm tires at the beginning of the year....thinking they would be great for bad weather. Of course we have not had one bad weather race yet this season! ...but that may change soon. These tires rock. Even though I give up a little with increased rolling resistance on pavement or smooth, hard surfaces, I gain all that back by having a tire that soaks up more bumps and grabs the corners much better than any tire I have used before....and for me...who is not exactly the best at cornering.....this gives me more confidence to get through the turns faster....which leads to less energy expended in the long run. The other set of wheels was supposed to be my "fast course" set. I couldn't spend the $$ for a 2nd set of new tires, so I have a 2 year old Challenge Griffo 32 on the back and an old Dugast 34 with a michelin mud tread on the front.
I think that is about it. These bikes are fantastic and I love them. They are light and fast with a great geometry. I will do another post about cx bike fit and positioning in relation to road or MTB in the near future.
I owe a huge thanks to the Landrover / Cannondale team and in particular Mark Hekman and Charles Stanley for getting it together for me....along with Paceline Bikes and all the other team sponsors. Thanks Guys !!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

uci points!

Last weekend we had our "home town" uci races in nearby Flat Rock. It turned out to be a really fun yet tough racing weekend and it sure was nice to have the racing come to us instead of having to travel.
On Friday evening we got to check out the course. We had raced at the Flat Rock middle school venue in the past, but this year the switch of the uci races from Jackson Park to Flat Rock had me a bit skeptical about the course quality. One look on Friday and all my doubts were put to rest. Tim Hopkin and his crew put together an awesome course.....one much different than what we usually see here in NC. For the most part our courses tend to be on the technical side...but this one was wide open and fast. Plenty of turns, a set of barriers, a steep ride-up, and a nice sand pit with a 90 degree turn....yet the course would lend itself to group riding rather than the usual one or two riders suffering alone for most of the race....and this is just what occurred on both days.
I actually had a good start! The legs were good and I had more snap than usual. I was able to make the large lead group on the first lap and hang on. Eventually there were attacks that went and a front group of about 6 formed, but I wasn't concerned with that. I just wanted to hold my ground in the 5 rider group I was in riding for 7th through 11th place. This group stayed together until the last third of the last lap when one rider gunned it at the top of the ride up. I stayed 2nd wheel of the remaining 4 riders going into the sand pit. I dove into the sand just behind the rider ahead planning to ride the first half then dismount and run the second half ...when the guy ahead drifted into my line, stalled and came to a stop. Of course I was already starting my dismount at this moment and ran right into him.....but I was able to get myself and my bike clear, remount a few steps ahead of the rest of the group and cruise to the finish for 8th place and a few coveted uci points.
Sunday: Not quite as good as saturday. I had a lack lustre start mostly from not being aggressive enough and missed the big front group...leaving me chasing all day. Eventually I was in a group of 3, chasing a group of 4. The group ahead was riding for 8th and we were riding for 11th. I was giving it everything I had and we just could not make contact, even though we got within 5 seconds at one point. I ended up an exhausted and a little frustrated 12th place. I didn't ride poorly, I just didn't have quite the snap and power I had saturday. Following the race I got my extra upper body workout by helping load metal fencing from the course onto a truck.
Cara had a similar weekend with a great 3rd place ride saturday and a little tougher go of it sunday for 5th place.
Special thanks to Tim Hopkin and the volunteer crew for putting on a great racing weekend. I certainly know how tough it is to pull off a big event like this and cheers to all who helped make it a great success.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm Baaaaack.....and it's about time

OK, so I started this blog with the good intentions of allowing people to keep up with my training and racing as well as to provide an outlet for general training and racing observations as they relate to me and the athletes I work with. My lack of posting really is about time, or lack of it. However I am renewing my commitment to getting this thing back on track....so here it goes.

It is about time that I had a decent cyclocross race weekend. Not that things have been going poorly...just that I finally feel like my fitness is coming around and the racing sensations are getting good. This is usually how my cx season goes:.....start strong.....have a bit of a dip in form...then steadily build through november to have a strong last few race weekends ending with nats in mid december. I am consistent with that pattern again this year...and it is not a bad thing....just that it gets a bit rough while I am waiting to feel good again after the long, long, long road season.

This past weekend I was finally able to win a couple of races (MSG p/1/2 and single speed) and was 2nd at the Southern Pines NC series race sunday. The lack of a couple fast guys showing up helped the results.....but it was the feeling of really being able to push myself ...and the body responding well ...that I feel good about. To top off the good weekend I now find myself leading the MSG series in TN and am currently 3rd in the NC series. I am not so sure I can hold either of those spots, but as long as the form keeps improving through nats I will be happy.

Ok, so that's it for now.....stay tuned because I have lots of great topic ideas for the blog.....and I promise to make the time to get them posted.....


Monday, September 17, 2007

Podcast: Late Season Fitness

Yesterday Andy was interviewed by a Velonews staffer to discuss Late Season Fitness.

Click here for the link.

His schedule for the next few weekends:

September 22/23: KTR Michigan Double Cross Weekend (UCI) Michigan
September 29/30: Cyclo-cross clinic & Ed Sander Cross Race in conjunction with NCVC and Dee Dee Winfield in Maryland
October 6/7: Cyclo-cross clinic in Asheville

If you're interested in learning about cyclo-cross, come on out to one of the clinics!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

World Championship Road Race

Andy's road race on Friday, August 24th had 183 guys in it. One Hundred and Eighty Three, yes, 100 of whom appeared to be Italian.

Near the end of the second lap, a lone Austrian rider was about 10 seconds up the road and Andy burned a match to get up to him. Eventually two other guys came up to them, too, and Andy was trading pulls at 500+ watts. When they hit the climb for the second time, Andy came out of it. All I saw, spectating on the side of the road, was the break motoring up the climb, then about 10 - 15 seconds back the Italians stringing out the field in what looked like a full on sprint (uphill, mind you), and andy moving backwards at the front of it all, redfaced with a grimace, saying "I came out of the break." Sadly I know all too well what that heartbreak is like.

A fellow American & regular on the SE circuit, Dirk Pohlmann, did manage to make it to the break, which eventually grew to 7 strong. At the sprint I saw Dirk at the front but he was crushed by the big Austrian who had initiated the break (last year's world champion as well!) So, Andy was disappointed he didn't make the winning break, but happy that an American (and fellow southeasterner) took 2nd.

I took this picture of Andy coming up the climb just before I handed him a feed - I'm quite impressed with my handiwork.

Everyone rushing to the line, all 183 of them. You have to get your number checked off on a clipboard before you can go to the line, so they send people through 1 by 1.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Andy is currently in Austria competing in the Masters World Championships. He asked me to update his blog for him but internet is spotty and I've already spent way too much time on my own posts. Check them out here:


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Seven Springs

Well, the McApplegates are in Seven Springs, PA this week (and the following) for the USA Cycling National Road Festival. Thus far, Andy has competed in the Elite Tandem Time Trial and the Masters 40+ Time Trial, bringing home the gold in the tandem and the silver in the 40+.

Monday, the 9th brings the Masters tandem road race with his wife (your humble scribe), followed by an early morning 40+ road race on Tuesday. He'll then be taking a quick break before the racing starts up again on Friday, the 13th, with the Elite Time trial.

We hope to update his blog more frequently than once every 6 months, so stay tuned for more details about what's been going on the past many months.

on the way to gold in the elite tandem TT

40+ podium, plus a photographer's back...