Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hot Training Miles!

I haven't had any races the past two weekends so I have been focusing on getting some good training miles in.  Last Thursday and Friday I didn't work so I decided I would ride my mountain bike out to visit my friend Matt in Jecheon.  This is the same city where I did the 100km mountain bike race in June.  I have no idea how long the ride was distance wise but it took me about 5.5 hours of riding time and I was outside for 7 hours!  This included 2 flat tires and 4 stops to get water and eat.  It was an awesome ride and towards the end included one really hard climb (2-3km at over 15%). 

Friday Matt took me on a ride to see some of his local trails that I didn't get to ride in the 100km race.  The first part was a ride on the 2012 Asian Championship XC course.  It was definitely the most brutal XC course I have ever seen anywhere.  It was 95% single track and any section that was uphill basically had to be ridden in the smallest gear on the bike.  The main climb was a 1.5km section that I would be surprised if anyone could ride to the top with out walking.  Once we got to the top of the climb we rode some awesome single track along the ridge line before dropping back down to the road.  After that I rode up to the Wonju Bus Terminal and took a bus(with my bike underneath in the luggage area) back to Yangji.  On the way though I rode some awesome double track that Matt told me about.   It was actually marked as a mountain bike course and Matt said he had done a race there a few years ago. 

This week I started English Camp at my school but I have still been getting a lot of good riding in.  Monday I rode some new roads in Icheon and ended it with a nice hard climb through the Jisan Ski Resort.  This weekend I'm racing a circuit race in Geumsan that I'm hoping to do well in.  Its a flat course with lots of corners so it should be a good one for me. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trek Korea Race: Tied for 2nd place!

On Saturday I raced in the Trek Korea Championship race.  It was held in Tae An where I won the Tour de Korea pre test in 2011.  This year however the course was quite a bit shorter and the racing was broken down by age groups like most races here in Korea. 
I was in the men 30 and under road bike group and there were over 100 riders at the start (and over 900 racers total for the day). 

My race started out pretty fast with a few attacks and that were caught by the field.  Then we hit the first climb of the day and Yujin from the Giant team went to the front to try to string out the field however after the descent we still had a fairly big back.  Leading into the second and last big hill of the course there were several attacks and chasers including my new teammate Hyun Seok who was on the front trying to chase someone before the climb.  Once we hit the climb one rider was about 20 meters up on the pack and I went to the front and dragged the pack up to him.  After the downhill the pack had been reduced to about 12 riders with a 30~ rider pack about 10 seconds behind us.  Our group worked pretty well together to stay away. 

At this point the there was about 15km of flat riding left and because of course changes no one really knew where the finish line was going to be.  With about 10km to go we started a small loop and caught a glimpse of where the finish would be.  I kept this in mind and worked stayed near the front of our group.  Coming into what would be the last corner I was sitting 3rd wheel.  We went around a gradual bend and suddenly the finish was 200m in front of us. 

Yujin from Giant started the spint and I went after him.  I passed him with about 100m to go and thought I might hold on for the win but with 50 meters to go Seung Yong from Seven Hills racing went flying past me for the win.  Also right on the line another rider pulled along side me and we actually ended up tying on time and therefore both finishing second. 

I was happy with how the race went but I wished I would have studied the course map a little bit better.  Had I known the last corner was so close to the finish I could have attacked going into it and possibly held on for the win.  But Seung Yong had a much stronger sprint in the end and I was still pleased with second place. 
The finish was actually about 25km from where the start was so I decided to ride back rather than ride in the team van.  I actually  ended up riding with Chul Soo, the rider who tied me for second.  It turns out this is his first race in 3 years because he used to be a professional racer in Korea.  It was interesting talking about the Korean pro racing and cycling development system and how different it is than the American one.
Because the race was sponsored by Trek it had awesome prizes.  I got a Trek 1.1 road bike for finishing second and I won a Spy backpack in the raffle after the race.   

My team also had a pretty good day.  Michelle finished first in the Women's Road bike division, and Yeon Deok finished 5th for Men under 30 in the mtb division.  We had two new riders racing with us as well.  Hyun Seok who I mentioned earlier ended up cramping but still finishing the race and our new youngest rider who is only 15 managed to stay with the main pack and finish 23rd.  Overall a pretty good day for the team. 

I have a 3 week break from racing now with my next race being a criterium on August 4th.

Me cornering.  The rider behind me with the Red helmet is Chul Soo who I ended up tying for second place. 

Me in our break away group of 12.  Next to me is Seung Yong(with the clear helmet cover) who won the race.  Just behind me is Keith from the Storm riders team that I did a group ride with the previous weekend. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

A suprise weekend of big rides

This past weekend I was supposed to go on a trip with all of my coworkers from school but Friday afternoon they cancelled it.  Terrible weather and other circumstances led to me having no plans for Friday night or Saturday. 
Friday afternoon, I was chatting with Dan a bike friend of mine online and he invited me to join is team Team Storm Riders (a new team thats half foreign riders and half Korean riders) on Saturday morning.  The ride was way up in Gapyeong near the border with North Korea and was going to be an exteremly epic route so I decided to go. 
I stayed at Dan's house Friday and we left at 6:30am Saturday morning.  The ride had great weather, a great course and great guys to ride with.  The first climb was over 10km long and climbed to 3000 ft of elevation.  There were 4 more climbs after that each of which gained over 1000 ft of elevation.  After the ride we all cooled off in a river that we had been descending next to for about 20km.  I'm usually not a big fan of group rides but this was definitely a great opportunity to ride an awesome course.  Thanks to Team Storm Riders for letting me come along on the ride. 

Sunday I showed a group of mountain bikers around on my trails.  Its a foreign mountain bike club from Seoul and I thought some of my trails would be good for them to take their group on.  Jerry, the leader of the group, brought his pick up truck out and we used it to shuttle to the top of the hills and then ride the single track down.  One of the member's of the club, Arden, was a big help as he was our driver for the day!  It was nice not having to do much up hill or road riding and just get to ride single track. 
Sunday afternoon after the group went home Yujin came over and we went out to a really awesome duck restraunt near my town. 

This weekend, I'm racing in Tae An.  Its a 53km road race and I think I have a good chance to win.  Also, I found one more race to add to my calendar.  On August 4th as part of the Korean Student's National Race there will be an amateur criterium.  It will be fun to race and then get to watch middle, high school and I believe college racers from all over Korea compete. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Finally! 2 wins in one weekend!

Last weekend I had races at the Korean International Circuit or F1 race track in the South Wester part of Korea.  I knew the courses suited me because they were pretty flat and had a lot of corners, so I was confident going into the races. 
Saturdays race was a called an Enurance race.  The rules were pretty simple who every finished the most laps of the 5.4 km race course in under 2 hours was the winner.  I had signed up for the mountain bike division but everyone in the race started together.  Pretty quickly I was in the lead pack of road racers and all of the other mtb riders had been dropped.  I knew I just needed to stay in my position to win my group.  However, I had a teammate who was doing the road bike division in my group so I thought I might try to help him win.  However, some of the Korean riders were confused about the rules of the race.  

The laps were taking us about 8.5 minutes so I knew that if we finished a lap and hte clock read anything past about 1:44 that meant it was our last lap since we wouldn't be able to finish 2 more in under 2 hours.  But no one in my group believed me and we let some people get up the road thinking we could catch them on the next lap.  We finished our lap at 1:55 and then the officials said the race was over.  I was the only mtb rider in my group but my teammate didn't sprint because he didn't understand the rules correctly and he ended up 11th.  Despite the counfusion with the road riders, I was happy to get my first win of the season! 

The next day was a more straight forward race.  It was just 6 laps of the circuit for about 33km.  This race had more strong riders in my group than the previous day but I was still feeling good and thinking I could do well.  I was hoping it would come down to a sprint but knew there would be several attacks.  My race had two age groups racing together but the prizes were given out based on age groups only. 

The race was pretty fast with lots of teams trying to set the pace on the front.  I sat in the top 1/3 of the field just to make sure I didn't miss any breaks.  With 2 laps to go the race got more interesting with Hyung Mo Lee (probably the strongest racer in Korea) attacking.  However he wasn't in my age group so I wasn't too concerned about him.  Soon enough riders started to bridge up to him and I did so as well with my teammate Yeon Deok. 
Once we caught up though the pack was quick to catch back up again too.  At this point there was about 4km left and Hyung Mo attacked again.  This time though he was able to stay off the front alone until the finish of the race.  I thought about going with him but I decided to stay in and just focus on winning the field sprint (and win my age group as well).  At this point we were about to lap a group of riders who had been dropped from our pack.  We ended up catching their group on the finishing straight and luckily they moved over to the side and we were able to pass with out many problems.  However this meant the finishing straight was narrowed from about 4 lanes to just two.  I started the sprint with about 300m to go and was able to hold everyone off to the finish with my teammate Yeon Deok finishing second in our age group as well. 

Overall it was a really successful weekend of racing for me!  It was also a lot of fun because we traveled to the race with the Von Hart's Team.  Its a team of masters racers that is also sponsored by my teams shop RX Bike.  We got to eat a lot of really nice food at the race including korean style ribs, 3 kinds of crab, and meat pancakes.  All of which were extremely delicious!

I don't have any races this week but I have a school teachers trip on Friday and Saturday and I'm going mountain biking on Sunday.  The next race (and last one until August) is going to be Saturday, July 14th in Tae An, which is the same place I won the 2011 Tour de Korea pre test race 2 years ago.  I'm really looking forward to racing on the course and hopefully repeating my win. 

Podium Ceremony for Sunday's Race.


Starting the last lap with my teammate Yeon Deok and I trying to bridge up to the breakaway.  The field came all back together once we caught it. 

The finish.  We were passing a pack of riders who were lapped during our field sprint.  I'm smiling because I won my age group.

I met a new rider over the weekend Dejan Glavnik from Slovenia.  He just spent the last 5 years biking around the world and now he is living in Korea.  Thanks to Dejan for taking these pictures.