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.

Monday, November 01, 2010


This weekend was stop #9 on the Ohio Valley CX schedule, Storm the Greens in Louisville, KY. As I mentioned last week the race was held at the old venue, which is a dormant golf course (hence "Storm the 'Greens'"). The defunct golf course is now a dog park. Yes there were frequent wafts of dog crap in the air and yes I stepped in some prior to lining up. Thankfully there (seemed to be) none on the course because having fecal matter flung into your face from a wheel in front of you would have been enough for me to drop out.
I felt pretty good warming up and pre-riding the course. But I don't really ever know how I'm going to fell during a race until I'm in it.
I got an okay start and felt pretty good for the first two laps. For the first time in my memory, the front of the race stayed mostly together for almost two entire laps. It eventually split up and separated out and I found myself in no-mans land between a group of two (8, 9th places) and another group of two (11, 12th places). I wasn't really gaining on the two in front of me and the two behind me weren't really gaining on me. I did have one (small) bobble that cost me a few seconds and 11/12 gained that time on me, so I had to ride head down to make sure they didn't gain any more ground. And I knew I couldn't make anymore mistakes.

That meant easing it through a few corners, but hammering on flats stretches. I held on for 10th place, which is my best result thus far in an OVCX Elite race.
I had a good race; I felt good and rode well. The above pic is my teeth-gritting going hard look. Plus that's along the fence of the dog park, so I had a bunch of dogs chasing me most likely (I did most laps). A cyclist can ALWAYS put out more power w/ a dog chasing him. So having this race at a dog park probably made for some faster-than-otherwise lap times, plus it was probably super fun for the dogs too.
This weekend is an OVCX standard in the Cinci area. It's a course I have historically done well at. We'll see how I fare at it for the hour. The season is starting to feel kind of long, but there's only 4 weeks left. I'm taking one weekend off (11/13-11/14), then doing a non OVCX race the following weekend, then it's the series finale' weekend in Indy.