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.