Friday, December 24, 2010

Return to the "dually"

Hillbilly's call trucks w/ 4 rear wheels a "dually" (like this little slice of heaven). Many of them also call a full suspension bicycle a dually (like this sweet baby), but in reference to its being "dual suspension", rather than referring to the number of wheels it has. Anywho, I've owned two full sus MTB's in my day and liked them both fine. But when my last one broke, I opted into a hardtail as a replacement. FF a few years and last week I noticed my carbon hardtail frame was splitting on the chainstay from chaindrop. It's not a manufacturer's defect and hence not really a warranty issue, but I talked to "my people" at Giant (the best damn bike company in the biz, straight up) and got it taken care of. I opted to return to a full suspension frame this go-round. Aluminum though. Carbon fiber has many, many advantages as a frame material, but for the rough life of a MTB, I feel like aluminum is a better choice for a non factory sponsored chump such as myself. And as for FS vs. HT, thy both have advantages/dis's. HT's are going to be lighter (especially carbon ones) and climb better. But FS's are easier to ride overall. Descending on MTB is probably my biggest weakness in the discipline, and the point-and-shoot characteristic of riding a FS may help me there. The added weight may slightly hinder my climbing ability, but we'll see; I tend to gap people on climbs just to have them right on my wheel on the descent that follows. Besides it all, I don't really take MTB racing too seriously anyway. It's just filling time between road and CX seasons, right?

So, it's nearing the end of December (and 2010) and it has been a terrible December weather wise. Way more snow than normal and way colder than normal. I'm (publicly) hoping for a mild rest-of-the-winter. I haven't checked records, but I feel like my December volume is low. And I'm fine w/ that if I can ramp it up in the next 8 or so weeks. C'mon weather!
This weekend was Christmas. Lindsay and I went to my parents house and spent the day w/ my parents, my brother/sister in law and our (4month old) niece.
We had a nice time, but Lindsay's surgery lingers.
That brings me to today, the day before Lindsay's operation. Even though it was sub freezing and windy I went out for a ride knowing I'll be forced into a few days off the bike this week. We have to leave home ~4:15am to get to the hospital in Indy for her procedure. We have no idea how long it is to take, no idea how long she'll be "out" (literally knocked out) post-op and I'm still unsure of whether I can stay at the hospital for the few days I'll be sticking around to tend to her. I'm not sure if I can stay in her room somewhere, or I can crash in a waiting room or something. I have a few friends in Indy, so if all fails I don't have to stay in the car or anything, but I'm totally flying by the seat of my pants here; trying not to worry much about me since I'm not the one under the knife.
If you care to and can remember to, keep positive thoughts coming our way for Lindsay's operation to go well and her recovery to be good and fast.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pedaling's pedaling right?

We have had an extraordinarily cold and snow December thus far. And as such my week back riding has been spent in the basement.
On my Tacx rollers (My all time fav, the Sport Trak model, no longer produced [RIP])

And on my Kinetic trainer (still made, the best in the biz) (both pics lifted from manu websites; my shit looks waaay more ragged than this)

I also have resumed some weight lifting. I have learned to start off lifting very light so as to not end up hella sore. I'll probably do another few sessions at low weight, then get it ramped up to full capacity, which is still pretty frickin' light by most standards but hey, I'm trying to race bicycles over here, not look like The Situation.
I did get outside twice this week. I rode my CX bike on the road Friday and rode my MTB on the IU cross country (running) course and roads Sunday. The plan was to bust out the 5k course in the snow on MTB's w/ a few local hammers on Sunday. We headed over and got started and it was instant misery. Not the good kind of suffering misery that sucks at the time, but you're sure it's doing good, but just agony. Basically (I) was riding at pretty much full effort, going ~3-5mph and couldn't stay on a straight line if my life had depended on it. It doesn't take a math wiz (which is good, because I suck at math) to figure out that the 5k would take close to an hour. There's a convenient bail out about half way in that I took after probably a minute of varying positive, then negative self talk. I rode back to where we started, carved "'f' this--AR" in the snow w/ my finger so the others wouldn't think I was dead out there and left. I went out and rode the roads on my MTB instead. Riding MTB on the road sucks too, but it was a million times more enjoyable than what I had been doing.
So do I feel like bad and a wuss for copping-out on the workout? Yes. But when your goal is say, X watts for Y minutes and you're barely making it it's one thing. When your goal is mere forward motion and you're barely making it, it's another thing all together.
So this week is Christmas and then the following week is Lindsay's surgery. So my schedule's going to get mixed around and it will be spotty as to when/if I can train. So wish (us) luck and have a nice and safe holiday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cleaning, building, resting...Week Off

With the CX season in the books, I took this past week (week of 12/6) off of riding, working out, etc. It turned out to be a good week to have taken off w/ wicked cold temps and residual snow on the ground. Toward the end of the week the weather got nice(r), but I'm committed to time off after a hard season. Besides that I had things to be done.
I needed to wash/clean BOTH of my CX bikes asap. I set out to do it Tuesday, but when I dragged the hose out and hooked it up, no dice. Or no water would be more appropriate. It was was too cold to run the outside spigot.
So I had to hook a hose onto the (inside) basement spigot and run it out to the garage and wash at the garage threshold. This worked for the most part, but both bikes froze over before I got them done and back inside. So I had to let them thaw/drip dry before I could clean them after washing. Ugg.

Then I had to clean my shoes, which I decided was a task better suited for the kitchen sink than outside. I gave them a quick "bang off" in the garage, then brought them upstairs for their bath.
I also had to "detail" clean both pairs of my race wheels. They were super dirty and cleaning them on the bike isn't really good enough. I was able to do this in the basement cement shower stall we have, so now everything's basically cleaned, lubed and put away. I may ride the CX bike still some, seeing as it's snowing rather majorly here, but it ~shouldn't~ get the kind of dirty it was.

I also made a total mess in the car. My bikes were covered in frozen mud w/ became not frozen mud (or mud as it's known) once the car got warm inside. It looked like a mud-wrestling ring in the back w/out the sexy ladies.
Our vacuum fits inside the back of the car nicely and cleaned it quite well.

Taking the week off I also had the opportunity to get my new TT bike most of the way together (it's a Giant in case you couldn't tell from the 5,000x it says it on the side)

No complaints about my old TT bike; it served me very well. But I just kind of thought it was time to step it up a bit. The Trinity has steeper angles and more aero tubing and hence should be faster. I rode my old one to some very solid 40k times and won the State TT title on it, and I feel like I rode it to its limit. Surely I didn't, but hey, a new bike is motivation to go faster, right?

Removing sticky-backed bar tape in a cold garage REQUIRES the use of a hair dryer. Trust me here before you even try it and save the hassle.
This week I am going to start some weight lifting (if you can call what I do w/ weights "lifting") and start back up riding mid week.
Lindsay is having some digestive problems and is going to have to have surgery coming up in the next week or so. This is going to mandate a hospital stay of up to a week and her not being able to lift things or generally do things for several weeks, so I'll be playing things by ear and taking them day-to-day until we get her back to 100%.
Anywho, be thinking positive thoughts for Lindsay and enjoy the holiday season!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Ft. Ben pic dump

These are pics from Saturday's race at Fort Ben State Park taken by Chris Jones.

(A sequence of a run up. I have spent time this season working on my sweet "euro shouldering" technique. I got it down to where I can do it efficiently, effectively and without it being the worst pain I've ever felt)

(In a Marion pink-bike sandwich)

(this was the muddiest section of the course. It was hard to ride/stay upright just trying to ride a straight line)

(not sure if this is the finish or going through a lap)

(same picture; gritty version/arty version)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Brookside CX pic dump

Here are some pictures form the Brookside mud/snow fest taken by Luther Prater and Andy Payne. I forgot to mention in the last post the amount of pain my feet were in once feeling started coming back to them post race; walking was difficult. My hands hurt very bad and it was hard to brake/shift (read: use my hands) for a lap or so ~2 laps in. But they stopped hurting and didn't hurt at all once I got warm inside, which kind of scared me. But they seem fine (as do my feet)
(the start)

(it was so muddy that my glasses were getting covered and I had to pitch them into the snow so I could see[I had to do this both days])

(approach to the stair run up)

(Josh and I rounding a corner before the off-camber downhill being cheered on by friend Will Shreman)

(back side of the course)

(approach to stair run up again. My face looks crazy because I'm yelling "other side" to the pits [it's a dual entry pit and I didn't want to pit before running up the stairs, I wanted to pit on the other side so I could ride and ride out])

(Josh and on the pavement. Most likely at the finish judging by our gritted-out faces)

(Josh leading on the back of the course. I'm either signaling to the pit or wiping my nose.)

(the Motley pit Crue going to town on my ice berg bike)

(more of the Motley Crue. The dude in the beer stein hat, Scott Perry, made it easy to spot whether or not our bikes were ready because all we had to do was look for a 6' tall beer goblet standing at the ready) You can see in the background of both pit pics that the people working the pits were busy.

OVCX Finale. End of the 2010 CX season

This weekend was the finale` of the OVCX 2010 season. This year’s finale` was the Indy double cross weekend (Sat/Sun races). It was also the first major snow and serious cold snap of the winter season.
Saturday was new course at Ft. Benjamin Harris St Park on Indy’s east side. It was also an all day snow. It snowed ~4” over night and flurried and snowed heavily at times all day. The drive up was a little sketchy, but I made it fine and felt RTR (ready to race), despite the sub freezing temp. The course conditions were deteriorating rapidly as the other classes raced. Our race is the last of the day and by the time we took the course it was 100% mud. But because it was sub freezing, the mud just froze immediately as soon as it got on your bike.

So after 20 or so minutes, your bike was just a bunch of frozen-solid chunks of mud. And gears were freezing over causing chains to skip and jump, etc; it was a mess. But I was feeling good and riding well so I had to stay on task. Despite the epic conditions, I rode a clean race. I pitted twice (once to get my B bike which was clean, and two laps later to get my A bike back, which cleaned in the pits). Huge thanks to the group of guys who worked as a pt crew for my teammate Josh and I. Through all the freezing and mud and freezing mud I ended up 7th place; my NEW best OVCX E-lite finish! (last weekend being my previous best [8th])
I got home an had two bikes that were by most standards unrideable that need to be made ready to race by the next morning. It was already dark and I had a lot of work to do. Add to that my clothing that I needed to wear again the next day was covered in ~1’4” of mud too. That all needed to be dealt w/ Sat night.

Sunday was the race at Brookside Park in Indy, which is an OVCX and Indiana CX staple. The course had quite a few changes from years passed (for the better IMO), but was still Brookside. The snow stopped, but the temps were lower. So all the accumulate snow was going no where. Same as the before though, by the time we raced the course was a slick muddy mess.
I went in not feeling great. My legs felt kind of “flat” from Sat’s ride and the course was slick enough I wasn’t feeling super confident. But it’s the finale`, so all you can do is “go.”

I had a pretty good start and was picking off several riders in the first few minutes. It may have been the cold, but I wasn’t feeling my legs as being tired or heavy so I put it out of my mind and went. I went w/ the same strategy as Sat and rode 30min on the A bike>pit for the B bike>two laps on it (though I may only done 1 I can’t remember)>then get A bike back from pits clean(er). Another big thanks to those who “crewed” for Josh and I. I ended up 10th. Numb hands, numb toes…Great day.

Overall this season went very well for me. I set some goals prior to the season and accomplished every single one. They were to be in the money, get (some) top 10’s, not get lapped by Barry Wicks at Bloomingcross and later I made the goal getting top 10 overall. I finished in the money at EVERY E-lite OVCX race I did this season. Every one. I got 4 top 10’s. I didn’t get lapped by Barry Wicks (not even close) and as of this writing the overall isn’t posted, but I think I got 7th. What a great season. I feel as though I’ve set a high bar for next year, but I’m ready to try to jump it.

All of the above pics are from Ft Ben (Sat). I don't have any Brookside pics yet, but I'll throw some up when I get them.
I also learned this morning that I got the bronze medal in the Indiana State Championship! I left before the award was presented because I felt like crap, I was starving and we had been at the awards ceremony for a looooog time. What an awesome season!
Now it's a week (or so) off the bike completely (except for commuting of course). then I'll laof it through December, probably start lifting some weights, then get back at it for Spring 2011 (road season!!)
Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Yellow Springs CX, Bad Start, crashes, okay race.

This weekend was the OVCX race at John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs, OH. It's a little over 3hrs of driving, so it's one of the farther races I'm willing to attend (I hate driving far [for any reason really]).
The day started, err, interestingly when I found out at about 1:10 that our race was at 2:00. Our race is normally at 3:00, and I take that for granted now and don't really pay attention to flyers. So I started to hussle through my warm-up/pre race routine to get going. Then it turns out they were running ~30-40minutes behind n getting races started (which is a HUGE amount of time to be behind), so that threw me off more, but put us closer to our normal 3:00 start. None of this is a huge deal, but I'm very routine oriented and being thrown off messes w/ my head mostly.

Anywho, it's a little colder over there than it is here. So the ground froze and thawed making the course muddy and slick. On the start grid I was slotted in the second row behind some people who just looked slow to me. How they were in the front row I'm not sure. When the start whistle blew, if you're not going 100%+ to the first turn, you're not doing it right. Up the paved start drag I was having to hit my brakes, coast, weave and be desperately looking for ways around the slower riders in front of me (which can be difficult w/ 30+ guys around moving at 25mph). I went onto the grass way back; not where I wanted to be. (you can see in the above pic how far back I am turning onto the grass)


On the first half lap I passed a lot of people and got myself in a good position and was feeling really good. Then later in the first lap guy clipped a tree and crashed in front of me. I didn't go all the way down but was unclipped and had to get my bike off of his and resume chasing. Then at some point a few laps later I got caught up in the course tape and went ass-over-tea kettle (whatever that means). Regardless I was flat on my back for a few seconds. Course tape is surprisingly unforgiving.
My final bit of "bad luck" was occurring over a pair of logs across the course that were easy enough to hop over not requiring a time consuming dismount/remount>repeat. Problem was as I hoping them the downward force on my handlebars was causing them to slip down a little each time. w 2or3 laps to go they were getting uncomfortably low so I yelled to a friend that I may need my pit bike. If they continued to slip the bike would become difficult to brake, etc. He went to the pit and readied my bike, but I was in a 3-4man group and didn't want to pit unless absolutely necessary. I decided to kind of lift my wheels over the logs for the final two laps, rather than all out bunny-hop them to put less impact on my bars hoping they wouldn't slip. They didn't, and I didn't have to pit.

But that group became two and toward the finish was a long uphill drag before entering a few final twists, then the finish. I was the strongest on the uphill section by far and the guy I was with knew it, so he tried to attack me on it. I had 0 problem sitting on him during his attack and my thought was 'I'll let him burn a match here and take him when he's dying.' Problem there was I couldn't get around him after the uphill because it was too twisty. He beat me by a wheel (for 14th, BFD right?) I got 15th. In hindsight I should have attacked him while he was attacking me. There's no doubt in my mind I could have taken his place if I had done that. Coulda, shoulda...ahhh well, I ended up 15th, which is in the money.
Overall I was happy w/ my race and felt like I had a good day. I would have liked to finish a few places higher, but what are you gonna do?
This weekend is the final weekend of the CX season. It's the Indy double weekend. We race Sat and Sun. It's always a toss-up for me how I'll respond to the second day of racing. We'll see.
Then I'm due for a little break from training. It's needed.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Backyard CX

This weekend I opted to skip the OVCX series race in Lexington, KY. It's just a little further than I want to drive. I went up to a local race instead just north of Martinsville in a not-yet-populated housing addition. A member of our team bought this big chunk of land and developed it for a housing addition, then economy tanked and there's one house on it (and I think it is probably his). So he let us host a cyclocross race on the property, in what will someday be someone's backyard. Hence the name, "Backyard Cross."

The weather was "they" call cross weather. Damp air, damp ground and 40-some-odd degrees. Cold enough that it sucks to be outside, but warm enough that you will likely overheat while racing making proper kit-picking essential and super difficult.
The course was setup w/ more "flow" than any course I've ridden. For those in the OVCX series, if King's Cross were tacky, it would flow about as good as this place did. And w/ the ground being tacky like it is right now, you barely needed brakes on your bike here; you could just let your tires do what they're made to do.

I felt really good warming up/pre-riding. And after one lap on the course I instantly loved it. I was starting to feel very confident. We had just 10 starters in the E-Lite race, so I was guaranteed a top 10, right? Sure but I wanted the win.

(riding the "run up." Oddly enough people were running down the downhill that turned into this uphill.)

We got started and I was 4th or 5th into the first turn. Riding on my confidence I stormed past people as quickly as possible and went into the barriers ~2nd. I passed who was leading then and punched it. I looked back and noticed I had a gap and thought to myself 'you're about 1min into a 60min race, you're leading w/ a small gap, keep going!' But on a long uphill section two Marion College guys came around me like I was standing still. Ouch. I clawed my onto them, but I had "burned a match" and knew I would pay. After the long uphill section was a log jump over (pic'd below) and on the log my teammate J.Prater got around me as well.

I didn't really know who the Marion guys were, but I know I've beaten one of them before. I was banking on them fading. They didn't. Turns out this race was decided in the drama of the first lap. Marion riders 1-2, JP 3 me 4th. Not where I wanted to be, but I rode very hard and left it all out there. That's all you can do.

As for the new bike (pictured), it's great. I really like the Sram stuff and the Avid Shorty Ultimate brakes are awesome. Plus I put on a Fizik Tundra seat and love it too. It's billed as a MTB seat. It's very flat and very firm. It works well for me; I can easily slide my weight around on it where I want it and because it's so flat it feels solid no matter where you're sitting on it. Thumbs up all around.
This week of course is Thanksgiving around here. Lindsay and I will make the annual trip to my parent's house and break bread (and turkey, etc). Then it's racing in Yellow Springs, OH on Sunday (the home of Dave Chapelle, yes).
Then just two more races (Dec 4, 5 is a double weekend), then it's off season training! I got a new TT bike. More on that later (it's not assembled yet).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The State of Affaris (in our basement)

A friend's Facebook post got me thinking about how many bikes there are in our house right now. I'll lay them out here for you all:

3 commuter bikes
1- Lindsay's old cx bike "converted" to commuter.
2- My Giant Via SS commuter
3- My old (~1987) C-Dale full rigid MTB as my full-on winter commuter (I commute by bike every day [6/week] year round, so yeah, I have two commuters).

3 road bikes:
1- Lindsay's Giant TCR aluminum (shim 105)
2- My Giant TCR Advanced SL (Campag Chorus 11) (primary race/training bike)
3- My C-Dale CAAD 9 (Campag Centaur 10) (winter/rain training bike)

3 MTB's:
1- Lindsay's Giant Anthem full sus
2- Lindsay's Giant XTC 29 29er hardtail
3- My Giant XTC composite

4 cyclocross bikes:
1- Lindsay's Giant TCX women's (Rival).
2- My Giant TCX "A" bike (Rival)
3- My Giant TCX "B" bike (Rival)
4- My old Giant TCX "B" bike (Dura-Ace 9 mix) (currently trying to sell this one)

1 time trial bike (soon to be 2):
1- My Giant TCR Aero (DA/Ult)
Soon (this week) to be replaced by a 2011 Giant Trinity, the overlap of selling the TCR Aero will put us at 15 bikes (w/ two on the selling block)!
That's just crazy.
That's 11 Giant's too! How much are they paying me??? NOTHING! I'm paying them!!!
I'd post pictures of them all, but I'd probably crash the whole internet trying to upload so many photos!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New whip, murdered out awww yeah boooooyyyyy

That's how I would describe my new CX bike if I were douchey. In fact, it's so murdered out that even the chain watcher is red.

I mentioned last week that I got anew "A" CX bike. I got it together and RTR (for the most part) and have ridden it a few times now. Pretty nice. It came w/ 44cm handlebars and I ride 42cm bars, so I have to replace those. The bars I intend to use aren't available for a week or so. So until then I can "handle" the "bars" (get it?).
Since I didn't race this weekend I changed my week structure up a bit and put in a week more similar to a summer week (though w/ lower overall volume). I skipped doing intervals this week, but did two good hard-ish ~2hr road rides during the week, which I haven't done for awhile.
Sunday I went out for a longer gravel road ride on the new CX bike. This is a great shakedown for a cx bike. because racing you're never on the bike that long, so it gives you a chance to really feel the position. Plus you get a lot of opportunity to use the brakes and shifting and stuff to see if any tweaks are required. The bike worked great and felt great. Plus I made it up McGowan road on the maiden attempt on the new bike. So I've now made it up that hill twice (riding) out of probably 20 tries. I found some info on Mcgowan rd (and some other doosies around here) McGowan climbs 250' in .27miles! And it's gravel! (I know I've posted about this hill before, but it's such a bitch). Anywho, I'm happy w/ the new bike is the point of it all.
Now I'm awaiting a new TT bike and then I'm done w/ new bikes for a while. Getting new bikes means selling old ones and while new bikes rule, it's kind of a hassle to have to prep and sell my bikes. Probably because that's what I do all day, then to come home and have to it for another several hours is rough. But I love what I do and love racing bikes, so whatever.
I use a TT bike a lot in season and I like to use it on the winter trainer too. I noticed the other day that not only am I the State Champion for Cat 3 in the TT, but I was checking some results and realized I'm the Indiana Race Series 40k Champion for Cat 3 also. This great distinction comes not even w/ a notification, so it's a pretty big deal.
Otherwise it's starting to get cold and will probably stay that way for a while now. Time for me to bust out the winter road bike and let my TCR hibernate.
Local (non series) CX race this weekend; the series race is in Lexington, KY and I don't want to drive that far.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Gun Club CX- Cinci

What ended up being a good race and my best OVCX Elite result to date, started as a frustrating mess.
The Gun Club CX has traditionally been a good race for me. It's a "mountain bikey" course, and though I don't consider myself a MTBer anymore, I do have MTB background and can handle the bike fairly well (as evident in the pic below!)

I pre rode 4-5 laps and felt pretty good/felt pretty good about the course (pic below looks like a big smile at the camera, it's a suffer/concentration face really).

I was in the front row starting and they didn't have the usual "slots" painted on the ground, so it was kind of everyman for himself lining up. A Jr. racer who decided to do the elite race as his second race of the day poached his way onto the grid next to me. There wasn't really room for one more, but he put himself there anyway. I immediately got a bad feeling. The gun went off and sure enough the "kid" plows right into me causing a chain reaction to my left and a pile up ensued. To compensate for his left hand scurry he swerved right and cause another pile up on his right. I stayed upright, but had to unclip both feet and was behind right from "go."
----soapbox time-----
There are a few Jr's in particular (I wont' say names) that enter the elite races when they are, in my opinion, not ready for it. They may have the speed, but are out of there league. Not that I'm some superstar, but I've raced bikes for many many years and worked my way up. The one I'm talking about is one and there's another that has crashed into my teammate Josh in EVERY race he has entered as a elite. Weak. I don't know if their parents are making them race up (and multiple times/day) or what, but I have always said/thought that speed is only 1 small component of high level racing, especially CX where so much is required.
------off soapbox-------
So anywho, I got my shit together and started chasing like a mad man to get in contact w/ the group ahead. Little did I know the group ahead was the lead group. I was able to get on terms w/ said group and hung w/ the leaders (running in 5-6th place) for 2+ laps. That's pretty big for me. Eventually attacks occurred and things started to settle in.

I rode a good solid race and came in 9th, my best OVCX e-lite finish! It was a great day weather wise and I threw together a good race that I'm proud of.
In other (related) news, I accidentally got a new CX bike. I was planning on revamping my stable for 2011 season and the bike I planned to get wasn't to be available until Feb. 'No big deal' I thought 'I don't need it until Sept next year anyway.' Well my rep (Giant, of course) called me and said there were some in and do I want to go ahead and take it now? I said sure, I might-as-well. Sometimes ETA's keep getting pushed back and pushed back until a model just becomes not available, so I figured I'm better to get it now and know I have it then to wait and maybe not get it at all. So now I have a new "A" bike and my awesome orange Giant, which has been so good to me, will get a makeover and serve as my "B" bike. Pretty exciting, getting new bikes always is. Pics, etc. to come.
No racing for me this weekend and I'm kind of good w/ that. It's Lindsay's birthday this weekend and I could use a break.
(pics from Ohio's Jeffrey Jakucyk)

Was this post waaaay long? Sorry.