Joe Kucharski

The stories of a singlespeed racer, husband, and father.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2008

The weather was not cooperative for an outside ride, as we had temperatures in the single digits, snow, and a strong northerly wind. While some of my tougher riding friends may have ventured out, I am content with riding the spin bike in the basement. I have recently discovered the on-screen keyboard and I am typing this entry as I ride. Tonight’s ride is a 90 EM. Cheryl just confirmed what I thought I heard, my enemy the plow truck has returned for another battle! Looks like I will be shoveling yet again tonight. I think we have got about a foot of snow in the last few days. My inside setup is pretty simple. I have a laptop (borrowed from my wife) connected to the internet and used to watch movies at eye level, a TV with a VCR off to my right, and a stereo system for loud tunes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving. Mike, Taylor, and I went for our annual turkey day ride this morning at Al Sabo. Temps were in the low 20's, but no snow on most of the trails. The video is of Taylor leaving the neighborhood doing a wheelie. Monday I ran on the treadmill and yesterday I did 10 miles at Al Sabo. Both boys had school conferences this week and are doing great in school.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Snow has arrived in Michigan. I commuted to work on Monday, even though the roads were icy and I don't have studded tires. As my upper management said, "you had a lack of judgment today" and on the way home, I agreed. For the record, studded tires have been ordered. The Trans Iowa roster is complete and soon it will be time to start training again. In the meantime, I am putting some mileage on the treadmill. Running about an hour every other night. On Sunday, I went for an easy ride at Al Sabo on the pug. Felt good to be riding again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Even though I commuted to work on Monday and Tuesday, this week is a deep recovery and break from the bicycle. I continued my preparation for winter by working in the yard, garage, basement, and cleaning my bikes. All the bikes I don't ride in the winter are all cleaned and ready for spring. Most importantly, I spent some much needed and arguably neglected time with Cheryl and the boys. We took family pictures today and I can't believe how much Austin and Avery have changed since last year. Austin is really starting to mature while Avery is starting to put things together, maybe too easily. They sure do get along like "brodders", as Avery says, one minute laughing and gigling, the next fighting. I can only imagine what my mom went through with the five of us kids.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Iceman is always the last race of the season and it used to be a real festive event for our neighborhood. But, as I stated last year, it has really became just another racing weekend for Mike, Taylor, and me. Mike and I worked a half day on Friday, while Austin and Taylor enjoyed a partial day of school. We met up with Zach and Scott on Friday to head north. After a quick lunch at McDonald’s with the boys, we hit the road. It was already different from last year, as Taylor was driving while Mike and I provided driving instructions along with the directions. We met up with John at the Williamsburg Road crossing to do an hour pre-ride before picking up our packets at registration. John and Susan were once again opening their home to Mike, Taylor, Austin, and me. Even though their home is not located close to the race, it does provide a quiet and comfortable base. During the pre-ride my rear tire was going flat at the turn around point, so I pumped it up and told myself I must had forgotten to put air in it before we started the ride…I knew I had put air in it, but I was trying to convince myself otherwise. When we got back to the van, the truth was as obvious as the green solution leaking from my tire. I had torn the sidewall, and forgot to bring any extra tires. I figured I could get a tire at the registration, so I really wasn’t that worried. There were lots of tires at the registration, just not any tubeless 29er race tires. I ended up purchasing a demo Kenda tire that was part of their display. I had heard good things about the tire, just had never used it myself. I really don’t like change, especially the night before a race. Before dinner I was able to get the tire mounted, and then I tried to relax during the meal. Saturday morning presented the usual challenges….weather, temperature, early rise, breakfast, and vehicle coordination. I was going off over a ½ hour after Taylor, so I was trying to pace my warm-up and pre-race routine a little slower than everyone else. On the starting line I was shivering and couldn’t wait to get going. I managed to get to the front of the wave and got a good line from the start, but could not get clipped in for what seemed like 30 seconds. As we crossed the paved road I was clipped in, but had forgotten to start my heart rate monitor - so much for being a prepared and experienced racer. It is rather difficult to push that little red button when you are spinning as fast as you can over rough terrain. Immediately the wave had a breakaway, as Craig Gietzen was working with a very fast tandem. I was in second with Jerry Daneen from Wisconsin on my wheel, and Tim Curtis just off the back of us. I told Jerry we really needed to close the distance and bridge to the lead group. I was disappointed when he said he was hanging on and couldn’t help right now. I continued to pull the majority of the time for the first eight miles or so, keeping an eye on the lead group up the trail. On one of the first real climbs, Craig had pulled over and was flipping his bike over to repair a flat. I thought, better to have my flat yesterday than today. Soon Jerry and I were working with the tandem. This was a benefit on the flat sections, but made passing difficult on the tighter trails. I told Jerry I was going to pass the tandem and we made our move. We caught some traffic just prior to Williamsburg Road and I was able to put a gap on Jerry. About 2 miles later he was back on my wheel and we continued working together. With about 8 miles left Jerry got stuck in traffic again, and I opened up my final gap. When I reached the 6 miles to go sign, I eased up just a bit. I told myself that if anyone caught me from behind before the 5 miles to go sign, I would conserve my energy for a sprint finish. If I was alone at the sign, I was about 20 minutes from the finish and it was just another 20 minute training set. When I saw the 5 mile to go sign, I dropped the hammer and never looked back. I finished first in the 40+ singlespeed division and set a personal best of 1:45 at the Iceman. Much to my surprise, Mike didn’t think he had a great race, though he ran hard and had a personal best time. Taylor had a good race, but made the decision to go with the cyclocross bike which caused him some handling problems and several crash issues in the sand. As we changed at the van neither of them were in a good mood, but I was able to convince them to stay an extra night so I could get my awards. I figured it may be the last time I win a division at the Iceman. John’s friend Shaun had the ultimate party going at the finish. They had a 5th wheel, a heated tent, bonfire, Oberon on tap, and enough food for an army. For the first time in a few years, it felt like more than just a race to us. In between our trips to the finish line to see familiar faces finish, Austin and I tossed a football and goofed around. At the awards ceremony, my division was the very last award. I can’t thank Mike enough for sticking around with me. On the way back, Mike bought me a dessert at a local ice cream shop as we talked about the race, training plans, and Trans Iowa V5. Without Mike training with me and Cheryl’s support at home, I would not have enjoyed the racing successes I had this year.