We’re thrilled to “cheq” in with Alexey after back-to-back wins in the Lifetime Grand Prix (LTGP) at both Chequamegon and The RAD. We’ve stitched together brief race recaps along with his specific fueling plan for each event. Tune in!
Chequamegon Race Recap
I was able to pull off the win in a 14-man sprint to the finish line for the 40th edition of Chequamegon 40.
For those who don't know - Cheq is a point-to-point race from Hayward to Cable, Wisconsin. It takes place on the American Berkiebiener trails where the Berkie XC ski race takes place every year. It is mostly 30-foot wide grass trails with some pinch points and steep climbs thrown in. Its main difference from most of the races we do every year is that it's a 2-hour race in the midst of 6, 7, and 10 hours. It's tactical, but at 20mph plus on mountain bikes!
This was my 4th time at Cheq, but with the creation of the Grand Prix, last year and especially this year, this was the best field ever put together in 40 years. I could have picked 15 guys I thought could win the race on their day.
Going into the race picking equipment and feeling confident in it was hard. There are so many ways that guys are trying to find a competitive edge nowadays that even though this is a mountain bike race, there are many ways to race it! What I felt best on was a hardtail with 100mm suspension up front.
I made a goal to never be out of position, even if that meant I was spending a bit extra energy at times.
The race was flat out for two hours, constant reshuffling and never really knowing when or if the elastic was going to snap. There were so many guys that I had my eyes on, knowing they could make a winning move on their day. These [Berkie Trail] climbs zap all your energy in the wet mushy grass... but still had about 15 going into the end. With about 300 meters to go I saw a flash of red and jumped onto Alex Howes wheel...it was tough, but I know how savvy Alex was and thought he had a great line. When Alex started slowing with about 150m to go I jumped from his wheel to Zach Calton's before launching a final kick! Coming across the line first was pure elation.
I had a goal at the beginning of the year to win a LTGP race, I wanted, like everyone to win Unbound or Leadville...but Chequamegon feels fitting, it feels like home.
Chequamegon Fueling Plan:
Being a shorter race I focused a lot on being well fueled going into the race. I took a NEVERSECOND C30 on the start line and then ate 2 SIS Beta Fuel and 2 C30 with Caffeine during the race. I raced with one bottle filled with regular water and one with a full 100g of Skratch High Carb.
The RAD Race Recap
I didn't have many expectations going in. To be honest I had/have been so happy with the result at Chequamegon that I just wanted to go into the 6th stop of the Grand Prix and race with panache. Confidence can be an incredible drug.
Going into the race, my motto was, race the race today, not for the grand prix overall. It is so easy to get caught up in the numbers and catch yourself doing math about who is behind and who is ahead.
The course was 112 miles of incredibly dynamic gravel roads shaped into a lollipop - from rough double track to slippery off camber descents at 9,000 ft, it was a constant test to stay focused and in position. The crux of the course though was that the finale (final 3 miles), was all asphalt with 2 steep climbs before a 40mph descent into a left hand corner and 250 meters to the finish.
Going into this race, Keegan had locked up the overall for the Grand Prix, and I worried because he wasn't racing it could be a bit negative all day with no one wanting to take a chance or burn a match. It took me a couple of hours to feel good, but I knew I was still fit and tried to motivate the group to chase groups and keep ourselves in the fight for the win all day.
I wanted to animate the race and not miss a chance to race for the win at the end.
As we crested the top I rolled beside Pete thinking I was going to make my move, but quickly realized it is still too far. I thought to myself, "this is not where I want to be, but this where I am so use it as best you can!" We descended down Chestnut St and made a fast left on the finish strait. The second I got around the corner I kicked as hard as I could and didn't look back. I kept expecting to see Pete come along side me, but was happy to have gotten a small gap when I jumped that he was never able to close.
Crossing a second Lifetime Grand Prix finish line in first still feels unreal. This win puts me into 2nd overall and in contention to finish on the podium a the final stop in Bentonville, Arkansas at Big Sugar!
The RAD Fueling Plan:
This one was a bit more difficult as it was a somewhat fast race, but still included 112 miles and 5 hours of racing in the heat and high altitude. The feed zones were awkwardly placed on course when considering the distance and where the climbing was. I chose to race with a 1.5L hydration pack with plain water from the start until the feed zone at 43 miles.
On the bike I carried 2x 100g/carb Skratch High Carb bottles. The goal was to finish one bottle and as much of the water as I could before the feed zone, drop my pack and pick up a Feed Musette bag with 2 bottles (1 high carb and 1 water). I took 2 SIS isotonic gels, 3 SIS Beta Fuel, 1 SIS beta chews and 2 C30 gels with caffeine.
PC: Joshua Strong