Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

Well, I spent another Christmas alone. Which is totally fine. Actually I wrote that purely for dramatic effect to draw in the reader. Because as noted by the pic below, I wasn't alone at all!

Lindsay went home to OK for a week for the Holiday. I skipped the trip because I need to hold onto my form for Master's Worlds and honestly I hate traveling; it's just not my thing. My brother said their are a few types of people: people that love to go places, but hate travel and people that love to travel and love to go laces (himself being the former). He let out one set though: those that don't care to travel AND don't care to go places. That's me. So I hung out here for Christmas. And that's just fine.

We at work have started (something of) a tradition of Chinese food on Christmas for those that are here. We changed it up a bit this year and went to the Great Wall Chinese Buffet on Christmas Eve. It should be noted here that while Chinese buffets generally are terrible, The Great Wall is truly a cut above. Any B-towner worth his weight in Mu-Shu pork can attest to this. So four of us met up and ravaged the buffet. We were given our own private "karaoke room" but thankfully for the other patrons I was too stuffed to belt out any killer Christmas songs. After we ate I parked on Kirkwood and walked around town a bit (and snapped the pic above). It wasn't too cold, and there was uplifting organ music coming out of churches along my route. The town wasn't quite dead, but there weren't a lot of people out. It was nice (plus it kickstarted the digestion required to process 3-5,000k/cals of Chinese buffet!).
Christmas day weather here was the best I can ever remember having. It was 50* and sunny. I got out for a couple hours of riding and felt absolutely great. I know it's absurd to even think, but I had a tailwind in almost every direction. That is great, but usually a tailwind means lost power. I had good power numbers too though. It was just a great day.

Plus while riding I saw this guy and stopped to give him a pet. By far the friendliest "random-ass cat" I've ever run across. He had a companion, but (it) ran off. Not this one though, he ran right up to me wanted petted. Nice little guy. So despite doing nothing festive whatsoever, I had a great Dec. 25, 2011.
This coming weekend is the final race of the ICX series on New Year's Eve. I plan to race this unless the weather is total crap, but right now it's looking okay. Then we're going to spend NYE at my parent's house and have a post-Christmas Christmas get together with my brother and his family then. They were elsewhere today and with Lindsay out of town it was decided to do it that way. I'm not a big fan of celebrating holidays in general and am even less of a fan of celebrating a holiday on a different day than the holiday actually is, but it'll be nice to get together with everyone all the same.
Thanks for reading and I do hope you have great holidays.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Back to the Backyard

It's bronze in case your monitor settings are out of whack. Not exactly the hardware I'd hoped to bring home, but still not terrible. My real motivation was the software though. For the first time ever, IN is going to have State Championship jerseys.

There were two guys I knew I had to beat to be the first CatII. This was my goal for the day: beat those two, get the software. As it turns out, one of the absolute top guys in the state (region?) is a Cat2 also. That put a serious damper on my plan. But in CX you never know what will happen, so even w/ odds against you, you have to lay it out.
It was going to be another muddy affair due to freeze/thaw. The sun popped out long enough to thaw the top layer of soil to make it muddy, but then cloud cover came through to keep it cold for most of the day. It was above freezing, but below 40 (and w/ no sun), which made for a cold day to be out in lycra. I once again rocked the old colors to be in the (relative) comfort of my fleece-lined skinsuit.

I wore a long-sleeved baselayer under my race suit and kept on leg warmers as well, but prior to starting I couldn't stop shivering. I felt fine once we got going, but I was slightly worried for a minute.
In these local races they are starting the Cat 3 with the Elite men and our field had maybe 30 guys in it; a big field for a smaller local race. The start was fast as always, but I was in good position. I was trying to keep tabs on the two guys I'd set my sights on, but it gets hard to do in a scrum off the line. On lap 2 I passed guy #1. He and I were taking very different lines on certain sections and I passed him in section where we were riding on complete opposite sides of the course (probably 12feet apart) so he couldn't jump on my wheel and use it for motivation: he was gone. Guy #2 was further up the road, but I was closing on him. I passed one guy between us which helped me along, but I didn't get him in the end. He beat me by 4seconds. I'm not one for "if _____ than I would have beaten______." But, our race is normally 1hr, but we're racing 50min here. I was riding well and making time. I am confident saying that if our race were 1hr, I would have beaten guy #2. But that shit doesn't matter because our race was 50min.
Regardless, I rode well, was in the money and got a medal.
Next weekend is Christmas and there's no racing to be done. The following weekend is New Years Eve and the ICX series finale' is NYE. I am undecided on doing this race right now. I want to wait and see the weather first. Then two weeks after that it's Worlds in Louisville. I'm taking this week "off" of training, so no intervals and probably and extra day off. I have to take Lindsay to the airport Wed to go to her family's Christmas, and with actual Christmas falling on a Sunday we're not really closed at work for any extra days. Bummer. Basically I'm not sure how this week will turn out training wise. Whatever, I'm just thankful the weather here is really good right now. It's nice!

Monday, December 12, 2011


This weekend was the Indiana Cyclocross Series race "Backyard Cross." It was Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) because my yard's too small. But the dude's backyard it was in is perfect for a CX course; because his backyard is an empty housing addition thanks to the crappy real estate climate that occurred right after he bought the addition.
It was a cold dry day. I had to bust out the old threads because I don't have a fleece-insulated cross suit in the new colorway. The dryness was deceiving because the ground was frozen over night and most of the morning, but the temps creeping near 40* and the sun being out made the top layer of soil thaw leaving a muddy mess. Plus this was some of the heaviest soil I've raced in (on). You could have made pottery with the clay stuck to my shoes. It made a for few tough clip-ins after being off the bike.
I felt pretty good for most of the race. Pretty standard, I guess. And despite the mud and general slipperiness I rode pretty clean.

This course was used once last year and I have to say I really do like it. It was kind of a mini-OVCX race with a lot of Kentucky and Ohio riders making the trip over to get some more racing in before nationals and worlds.

I raced good and hard but only managed 6th. 1 spot out of the money. To add injury to that insult, I experienced some of the worst "effort sickness" I can ever remember having. Relatively short, but super hard efforts often cause stomach issues for athletes. Because cross is by its very nature a short hard effort some people call this "cross gut" and things to that tone. I get this "sickness" in other disciplines as well, hence I call it "effort sickness." ES in-and-of itself is nothing new to me; sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. But this round when I got home I was out for 3-4hours. Just on the couch motionless. I could actually feel my stomach throbbing. I have felt pretty bad before, but never that bad for that long. I knew I needed to eat (all I had eaten was some cereal, a Cliff bar and a banana all day), but I really couldn't make myself get up. When I finally got myself up I ate some toast, took a shower and started feeling mostly normal around 10p.m. It was rough.

This coming weekend is once again at the Backyard venue for the Indiana State Championship race. Our State Championship is usually part of the OVCX, but it's been moved to a local ICX race and later than usual. Oh well, I don't even really know who all are Cat 2's, but I'd like to win that title as an Elite. I won the state title as a "B" 4 years ago when there "A" "B" and "C" races. It kind of blows my mind a bit when I think to how far CX has come around here since then. A long way.
Photo Credit Chris Jones. thanks.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Fancy Footwork

A very muddy course made for a very run-heavy race this weekend in Cincinnati. Fancy footwork could take you far here.
It was an interesting day from a weather perspective. I guess it had rained for several days in Cincy leading up to this race. And there was basically a 100% chance of pretty much all day rain. It was pouring rain for most of the drive over, but when we got near Cincy it stopped raining and the sun was even poking out; it hadn't rained there (yet) at all. As the day progressed you could watch fronts push through, and everybody had their mobile devices out saying " it comes..." but it never actually rained. The ground was so messed up from the the week that rain would have made for better racing conditions, as it would loosed up the "drying" mud which as is was like riding through clay which just clogged every open spot on your bike. Well, since weather-men are never wrong, about 10minutes before the start of our race, it started pouring. Hard. And it poured hard the entire race.
The course went from real bad to way worse very rapidly. I somehow missed the call to staging and though I was called up in the front row, I had to squeeze in to the 3rd row. A race this messy was sure to "sort itself out," but the less traffic one has to deal with the better.
I was able to pass several people in the first few corners and despite shitty conditions, I felt really good. I had the course as dialed as I could for the sloppy/slippery conditions and I had a couple of people in pit for me so I could swap bikes in order to get my "A" bike cleaned. It was raining enough that the real muck wasn't building up like it was in earlier races, but I knew since I had people in the pit, it would be a good idea to pit and get the bike cleaned.

Problem was I had dry/intermediate tires on my "B" bike and I was used to riding the course on my mud tires. I was all over the place once I switched bikes. I knew I needed to get back on my "A" bike ASAP. When I got back around I saw they had my bike ready so I came back in and swapped back to my familiar bike w/ mud tires, but it was clean now. Weird thing was, it was somewhere around this point I started to get very cold. I know it doesn't seem weird to get cold when you've been out in the rain and 50* for an hour in lycra, but I've never really gotten to where I feel cold while racing in these conditions. But I felt shivery while riding. Then I started making mistakes. Nothing huge, just little things here and there that cost me a few seconds here and there. During this time when my mind was going hay-wire and my body was revolting 2 people passed me. There was another coming, but it was very close to the finish and as the course was, the finish was on foot because it was far too chewed up to ride. I entered the finish stretch first, dismounted to start the run section and thought 'okay I got it, this is a bike race not a running race and I beat him on the bike, so I just have to 'run it in.'' It was at that exact second that he ran by me like Usain Bolt would run by The Refrigerator Perry. Obviously I'm trying to be funny here, but no joke, this dude ran by me like I was standing still. Full on sprint while carrying a bike in ankle deep mud. I had no response to that and settled for 15th. Not a great result, but not terrible. And good enough for 7th overall in the series! I will take that for sure.
As you can see it was all smiles and fun at the after party thing. This was a great OVCX series. I fell a little short of where I wanted to be, but I had a good series. Lindsay won the overall for her category and that's awesome for her. She also won the overall race here and that's the first race she's ever won. So very good for her.
From here there are a few more local races to do, then it Worlds in January. I don't have my training fully laid out beyond this week yet, but it'll come together. The weather could do just about anything at this point though, so maybe it's best to play it by ear...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving week

Weekends w/out racing feel weird to me at this point. Gorging on obscene amounts of "holiday food" feels weird too; but so right.
I had this week scheduled as an "off" week of training (meaning no intervals) so I did a couple of fun rides and took an extra day off. Then we made the trip up to my parent's house for Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving weekend is historically a weekend off of OVCX racing, which is fine due to the midweek travel and the multi-day feasting (leftovers, right?). It was nice to see the fam as my brother, his wife, my niece and their 2nd child (due in Feb) were all there. Highlight of the day was jumping on my parents neighbor's trampoline while Ramona lay in the middle of it and flopped around like a fish out of water. She had a blast. (I'm aware that not everyone is going to get the link referenced here w/out watching it all the way through)(also, I'm told there are pics of the aforementioned fun-ness, but I don't have them. My mom said she could print and mail them to me. If only information could be shared in an easy more efficient manner, you know, like fax).
Anywho, with no weekend racing, I wanted to get a long ride in Sunday. The weather was great Saturday, but it was "small business Saturday" for shoppers, so I needed to work (even though we were actually busier on "black Friday" than SBS and in reality had our best day of the week on Wednesday). Sunday was a 100% chance of all day rain. And the forecasters were dead-nuts on that one. In fact, I made a run to the nearest IDS box on Saturday to get a bunch of newspaper to put in my shoes on Sunday to dry them out. and it turned out to be a good things; it rained all day. I wanted to put in 3hrs, but I settled for ~2.5. I met up w/ local superstar Ryan Knapp on the way out of town and we rolled together for 45min or so then he turned off. As much as Id like to say he couldn't handle my blistering pace, he had done the Gravel Grovel race the day before and won by minutes over a quality field and was out for a recovery spin. It would have been a great day to turn in, but I really wanted a long ride so I kept on. The ride was fine, but 45deg and rain is hard on you. It eats away at your soul. But in endurance sport I truly believe there is value in forcing yourself to do things you don't want to do. That value is what refills the voids left in your soul from less-than-favorable conditions.
So this weekend is the finale of the OVCX for 2011 in Cinci-nasty. I'm looking forward to a good race, even though the conditions could be just about anything. I have to get through this week first though. I have my training planned, but I may need to shift days around if the forecast is accurate. Whatever, I guess I'll see.
As always, thanks for reading!

Oop! This just in: I received the pics mentioned above via (e)mail. Whodathunk?

We had fun. It's good that she enjoys being repeatedly knocked over than bounced around like popcorn. Because I wouldn't have enjoyed it otherwise!

Monday, November 21, 2011

...and then there was mud

This weekend was the OVCX stop in Lexington, KY. I've never gone to this venue before because I though it was waay too far to go. Turns out it's just a smidgen over 3hr, which is far, but not the 4+ hour slog I though it was.
The race, on the other hand, was the slog I thought it would be.
I was checking the forecast all week and it was looking like rain. It wasn't raining for most of the drive down, but the (NPR!) radio station was calling for a "100% chance of thunder showers." Well it turns out they were wrong. Because it didn't thunder once. But it rained all fucking day.
It was one of those days were the course deteriorated greatly throughout the day, similar to the Ft. Benjamin Harrison Indianapolis race earlier this year where the Elite men's lap times were the slowest of the day.
I rode a pretty good race, but didn't have a great start. I had trouble finding my pedal (I know, it's attached to end of the crank arm, but sometimes that sneaky bastard moves around I swear) and things got really bunched up at the first corner due to it being a mud pit. I eventually got things going and rode most of the race right around 10th. For it being one of the muddies races I've done, I rode extremely clean (meaning I made no real mistakes, but did still get very dirty) and felt pretty good. Somehow the timing got messed up and we were sent out for 1lap more than we should have been. So our 1hour mudfest was actually a ~1.25hour mudfest. As if it even matters at that point. Anywho, I rode in for 13th. Not bad, but the real work was yet to be done: cleaning up.
When you look like I do here (above) and you have no facilities other than the back of your car in which to undress or clean yourself, it's a very difficult matter. People say to me often "oh, you a CXer, you must LOVE mud." I don't mind racing in the mud, but overall I give it the thumbs down. I do ride okay in those conditions, but the lead up (standing around in the rain) and all of the post race dealings are not worth it. Plus all in in race logistics: your bike ends up weighing pounds more, stuff doesn't want to work as it should, you can't really wear glasses because you can't see out of them after about 3minutes, but if you don't wear glasses you get tons of crud in your eyes, and the list goes on and on.
And then there's the equipment. Bikes are a mess, inside of the car is a mess, clothing (cycling and non cycling) is a mess...Yea, mud's alright, but more so if you're a pro who has someone to take care of all your stuff for you and you have an RV to clean up in (or at least a trailer).

I normally warm up under the hatch of my car, but Bloomingtonian Andy Messer showed up with his pop-up, so we were able to huddle up and stay (kind of) dry while warming up.
The series finale is next weekend 9this weekend is off due to the T-giving holiday). I believe I'm sitting 5th overall in the series. I was hoping to move myself into 3rd over the last two races, but the series drops your worst (2 I think) races, so this weekend I went from 4th of 5th. Not the direction I wanted to go, but I can only control my own racing.
Happy Thanksgiving all!

Monday, November 14, 2011

USGP weekend

This weekend was the annual stop for the USGP in Louisville, KY. It's always a good weekend of back-to-back racing, pro race spectating and generally a fun time w/ friends. The weather turned out to be awesome this year, so it didn't disappoint.
Lindsay and I went down Friday afternoon to get a little bit of riding in on the course before Saturday. Other than a few minor things, I immediately liked the course a lot. It had several different features that tested a rider's skill set; that, in my opinion, is a cyclocross course.

We raced considerably earlier than I have grown accustomed to. Plus USGP runs a tight ship with little (read: no) time between earlier races, so I had no time pre-ride the course (which was okay Saturday because I had ridden Friday aft noon), but I also left myself little time for a decent warm up. Despite all that, I had an okay race Saturday starting 34th and finishing 10th.
The rest of the day was spent spectating and hanging out w/ friends. Good times.
Sunday the course was similar, but had a few changes. Again, I didn't have time to pre-ride but I was able to note the deep-ass mud pit (pictured a few posts ago) was back in the course. Upon noticing this I booked it into the pit just prior to my race to get the wheels off of my pit bike and put them on my race bike since the pit bike wheels had my mud tires on them. This slop-pit was bad enough that on an otherwise dry course, a mud tire wasn't a bad choice. But then it turns out that the course was re-routed around said pit right before our race. Apparently (from what I heard) the UCI saw the Cat3/4 women coming through the start/finish covered in mud and were asking each other "where is all this mud coming from," went out to check the course, saw the mud pit and said "there's no reason reason for a mud pit on an otherwise dry course" and took it out. I was glad to not have to deal w/ the pit, but I was now on a slower tire than I wanted to be. Oh well, I had a worse race, being caught in more traffic and feeling kind of "flat" anyway. I started 36th and finished 18th.
As with Saturday, then rest of the day, post hotel checkout, etc, was spent watching the rest of the races and hanging out w/ friends. Most of Saturday I was watching from the front "woods" section of the course while my posse was at the back "sand" section of the course. I guess at some point of another the UCI came to them and told them they were being too rowdy and to stop offering hand-ups to the racers (hand-ups consisting of beer, cookies, waffles, etc).
Well Sunday I spent most of the day w/ my posse and things w/out the consumable hand-ups got interesting as you can see below:
As it turns out the UCI also frowns upon holding blow-up dolls on the course and "we" were shut down two days in a row.
Whatever, it was a super fun weekend with great fall weather and mediocre racing.
The end if the OVCX is upon us and it's kind of weird. There are just two races left in the series, but there is an Indiana (ICX) series that still has, like, 56 races or something. I have decided to do the Master's World Championships because it is in Louisville and is the first time it's been outside of Europe, so I may need some of the ICX races to keep my "race legs." I haven't really thought beyond the end of the OVCX yet so as it approaches I need to plan another month or so of training and racing.
I think I'll get through the gluttony of Thanksgiving first though.

Monday, November 07, 2011

UCI 3 Cincy (UCI 1 Cincy for me)

This weekend was the famed UCI 3 Cincy Festival. UCI is the governing body of all disciplines of cycling world wide. Races that award UCI points are sought after by big pros because the number of UCI points they acquire determine their starting position in other UCI races which becomes crucial once they get to Europe later in the year for World Cup races. So the Cincy weekend offering 3 days of racing w/ UCI points to be won is very popular amongst top US pros and even some Euro-pros make the trip over.
I've only ever done all three races once. It was a tiring weekend, but more than that it was an expensive weekend. I guess it was a fun weekend too though. And I guess tons of people spend shitloads of money expensive vacations, so it's probably not really that bad...but I digress.

I decided to just do the Sunday race which is generally the most popular because, well, its Sunday and it's a great course. It's a hard course with several technical features including the uphill sandpit pic'd above (yes, the sand is tackled going uphill AFTER having been riding uphill on grass for ~1.5minutes. Brutal) But it also has a very fast descent and some long burning uphills. I'd say it's one of my favorite courses.
I'm not 100% sure how they figured the call-up's for the races, but I was the 2nd rider called-up so I got a sweet front row start.

I felt good and rode for a while in 3rd-4th-5th-ish position. As the cream rose to the top I ended up 8th, but had a good race for it. The course wasn't muddy, but there were some very muddy sections. It was the type of muddy that taking a pit bike probably would have been an advantage. If I had someone working the pit for me I probably would have swapped bikes at least once. As it were, I would have had to pit, find my other bike, drop my "a" bike, get my "b" bike, etc and it would have cost me time. I don't think a cleaner, lighter bike would have been worth it.

The good part of only using one bike is I only had one that looked like this (above) to deal with instead of two (well, technically I had to deal with Lindsay's muddy bike too, but still pitting saved me from dealing with a third mess).
I had fun racing and hanging out w/ friends while watching the pros duke it out. And maybe the best part of all is we get to do it again this weekend in Louisville. It's the USGP weekend in LV and we're going down for Saturday and Sunday. This is always a fun weekend with more top-notch pro racing to watch. Should be fun!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Old Stomping Grounds

I got stomped at the old stomping grounds.
This weekend I did another Sat/Sun double race weekend. Saturday race was in Yorktown, IN which for all practical purposes is Muncie, so I had to go it.
The e-lite race had just 4 people in it.
One of us 4 is a pro road racer and a good CXer. One was someone I didn't know (or a ? in other words) and the other was my teammate Josh, who grew up about 1 mile from the venue and spent his entire childhood riding BMX bikes and such at the venue. With just 4 starters my motivation to go 100% was low. I don't really know why, but it was. And when we started pro road guy and ? took off like Meatloaf (Bat out of Hell, get it?) my mojo sank a little more.

The official cut our race down to 45min due to there only being 4 of us and the race was not too terribly likely to play out over an hour anyway. I was fine w/ that because I was racing the next day.
So whatever, I rode hard, but not full-on and got last place. Dead last. First time ever. But since it was paying 5 places, I still got paid 4th place $$!
The down side was that just prior to the start I noticed that my left front brake caliper was bent. It most likely happened in one crash or another a couple of weeks ago and has probably gotten worse/noticeable from use. The brake wouldn't center and when I got down to look at it I noticed stress marks, which are not comforting to see on aluminum bits. I was just hoping it would make it through the weekend w/ no problems and it did.

Sunday was the classic Louisville race Storm the Greens. Quite a contrast to Saturday's 4 man field; I think we had over 50. I had to get to the venue very early to be there in time for Lindsay's race (which she won) and it was cold in the early morning. Like 30degrees cold I think. So I just kind of sat in the car for a while to try to stay somewhat warm. Aside from being cold, the ground had frosted heavily which meant the track would go from firm, to wet, to kind of wet, to firm over the course of the day.Plus they added in this killer big-ass mud puddle just for good measure (bad measure?).
The course had a few long, flat, straight "hammer" sections, but otherwise suited me pretty well. Problem was the long, flat, straight hammer sections suited some other guys well that were much slower than me everywhere else. So while I'm struggling to hang on to them on the straights, I'm running over them in the tech sections. It took a while, but I was eventually able to get a gap over the people around me most of the race and catch a few guys that were ahead of me most of the race. I rode well and felt pretty good. I finished only 17th, and had to fight for it. It was fun though; and overall an awesome course at the venue of the 2013 World Championships.
There is now a 2 week break in OVCX races. There are still big regional races though. In fact, there are 5 very big races over the next 2 weeks. This coming weekend is a big 3 day UCI race weekend in Cincinnati, but we're only going to go Sunday. Then the following weekend are the USGP races in Louisville. We'll go for both days of these. It is really cool to watch the country's top pros race. We're lucky enough to have them racing within a short-ish driving distance two weeks in a row here! Plus we get to race on the same course earlier in the day. Cool. I always look forward to these races.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Not exactly as planned...

This passed week I planned to take an easy week, but as it turns out I was kind of forced into an easy week. First the weather turned to absolute shit for a few days. Highs in the mid/low 40's and all day rain. Then I caught the cold that everyone seems to have/have had/be getting.
I took Tuesday off of riding just for a recovery day. But Wednesday I decided to HTFU and ride out in the rain/40's and I started feeling ill later that day. Thursday was more of the same crap weather and I was feeling even worse, so I opted to not ride at all and I ended up leaving work early to come home and go to bed for a while (which I rarely do).
Friday the rain cleared out, but it was still cold and I really felt like I needed to get a ride in. I had new brake pads on my CX bike that I needed to get some wear on, plus I just didn't want to not ride. So I went out on the CX bike for ~1.5hrs and felt okay (plus I rode the brakes extra hard to get the edges off of those pads).
Lindsay's mom was going to be in town for the weekend and we were going to dinner Friday night.
We went to Janko's Little Zagreb, which is supposedly one of the best steak houses in the Midwest. Though I wasn't feeling 100%, I was able to power through a 16oz sirloin and can say it was excellent. And if cost weren't a factor, I'd totally go back (and we may go back sometime anyway, but good steak ain't cheap).
Anywho, I got out for about 3hrs Sunday and felt pretty okay. I have some intervals scheduled for tomorrow (Tues), so we'll see how un-sick I am then. Regardless, it worked out pretty well that I had planned a down week anyway, the weather turned bad and I got sick. If there was a good week for all that to go down, it was last week.
This weekend I'm doing another double w/ a local series race in Muncie(!), then the next OVCX stop in Louisville.
I'd also like to say that as big Moto GP fan, RIP Marco Simoncelli. He was just 24yrs old and was killed during the race at the Sepang circuit this weekend. Big rising star in Moto GP. Some riders said he was dangerous, and they may have been right, but that's because he rode the bike to the absolute limit of its capability. He didn't ride conservatively and made mistake that cost him his life. It's so unfortunate when anyone dies doing their job, but especially a sportsman; because ultimately his job is to simply entertain us. Ciao Marco.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hilly 100 + hometown racing = busiest weekend of my life!

Hilly 100 weekend is always the busiest weekend of the year for me. Usually there's a race on Hilly weekend, but I miss it because Hilly is good money and pretty fun to work. This year the race was in Bloomington though, so the bright idea was to take the busiest work weekend of the year and add a race onto the end of it. What could go wrong?
Well, I happily report nothing did go terribly wrong. Hilly was busy; the weather was great. It was joking being referred to as the "Windy 100" because there was some serious wind all weekend. I honestly felt bad for the folks out riding the Hilly. It was consistent 40+mph gusts and heavy sustained. Needless to say the Hilly tent was taking a beating. But all that aside, it was a good Hilly.
The race.
I'm normally a zombie on Sunday afternoon of Hilly weekend. SO I went into Bloomingcross with a 0 on the expectation meter. I hoped to finish. I did a few laps to preview the course and realized that there were ~zero technical aspects to the course. It was wide opened and mostly long sweeping turns. A "roadie" course if you will. I was hoping for a more "techie" course because being on my feet and repetitious heavy lifting ought to have had less effect on my handling ability than my pedaling ability. But it wasn't to be so all I could do was go Leroy Jenkins on that mother.
(Josh and I spent a lot of time together this weekend)

Despite what I would call a so/so season I have maintained my front row call-up spot thus far. That being the case, I had a pretty good start and felt pretty good for the first couple of laps. But eventually I completely lost track of laps and the race seemed to be going on forever. Due to the lack of technical aspect in the course, I was caught around riders with little technical ability, but that can pedal well. They were slowing me way down in nearly every corner, but I couldn't get around them once out of the corner.
The barriers here were super tall and I had to channel both Lolo Jones for hurdling prowess and Blanka Vlasic for the height. Seriously, I had to actually jump to get over these.

My Race ended up between my buddy Will and I. It was a good battle and he got the better of me by half a wheel at the line. I ended up 15th.
We all went out for Mexican afterwards and it was a good time. Also, with another group of friends we went out for Thai food Friday night. So yeah, a pretty killer weekend.
There are no OVCX races this weekend, so I'm taking the weekend off of racing and I'm taking the week off of training. I'm going to ride, but no intervals, or any of that mess. Just a few rides and an extra day off. It's been a busy season already, I feel like a little break will do me some good.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Allow me to explain the sweet title of this post: this weekends race was at the Gun Club venue in Cincinnati and my bike got dirty so I had to hose it off. Literary genius at work here people!

Gun Club is probably my favorite venue on the calendar. And judging by the number of participants, it is most peoples favorite as well.
People say it's a very "mountain bikey" course, I would say however that it is a very "cyclocrossy" course.

I went into the day feeling good and prepared; and success in racing occurs at the intersection of preparation, execution and luck. Preparation and execution are up to you, but luck you cannot control; those strings are pulled from elsewhere.
I ran into a bit of bad luck (or some bad luck ran into me), but otherwise had a good race. I had a great start and was running in the top 5 with my buddy Will for most of the first lap. On a left hand transition from dirt to gravel Will slid out and crashed. I was able to steer around him and loose no time, but when he stood up he ran his hip directly into my front brake. This did two things: it put my right brake caliper below the braking surface and stuck into the wheel and also disconnected the brake's straddle cable. The pit was all the way around the course, so I had to pry the brake arm out of the wheel, get the cable reconnected and get the brake centered before I could continue. This seems to have cost me ~20-30seconds and ~20places. I rode a good race and passed ~10 people back for a 15th place finish. I felt good enough that I think I could have gotten at least a top 10 without the miss-hap. But as they say, "that's racing."

This coming weekend is the busiest weekend of my year: Hilly 100. Hilly 100 weekend means close to 30hrs of work in 2.5 days. It's always pretty exhausting alone, but this year the Bloomington stop of the OVCX is the same weekend. So Sunday we have to boogie to get our stuff packed to get to the venue for the race after working on our feet Friday evening, all day Saturday and part of Sunday. It's going to be rough. If it were any other race I would skip it, but I can't miss my hometown race.

The final pic is a "gimme" to my competitors: if you take me to sprint, there's a good chance I'll be beaten. I just don't have a sprint. Notice I'm lunging as this guy is sitting up and he still is beating me by a wheel. Hey, if Spud Webb could dunk, I could probably train a sprint out of my physiology, but that's a horse of a different color. Link

Monday, October 03, 2011

Fought for the money...and lost!

This weekend was another double CX weekend in Ohio. We had an employee out for a wedding, so I worked Saturday, but went over for the John Bryan Park Classic CX in Yellow Springs, OH. John Bryan is usually course I like and I have done pretty well there in years passed. This year, I liked the course, but as for doing well...not so much.

I felt really good and despite having to get up at 4:30am to leave at 5:30am and not racing until 2:45pm, I was ready to go after almost 12hrs of being up.
I started i the second row and was feeling strong. I was holding my own and passing people as needed. I was rolling in the top 10 then I crashed. Hard. My right pedal caught a downed tree limb, which sent me instantly to the ground. I'm not sure how it happened, but the limb ended up on top of me. Another rider crashed into me and his bike was on top of me as well. He got up and got his bike, and I bench-pressed the limb off of me and got up. I had lost a bunch of places, but was determined to get back going. But when I stood up I quickly realized I couldn't put any weight on my left leg; my knee was jacked. I fangled my chain back on considered quitting due to the pain in my knee. I got on the bike and slowly stared t o pedal. It hurt, but it was subsiding the more I pedaled. I realized I had whacked my handle bars well out of kilter during the crash, so if I was going to continue, I was going to need to get my "b" bike. I decided I'd pedal as much as I could to the pit, and if i felt okay by the time I got there, I'd get my spare bike and continue, if not I'd throw in the towel.

I got my 'b' bike (orange one pic'd here) and continued on. I dropped from somewhere around 7-10th place to ~32nd place and lost almost exactly 1minute. I made up ~10 spots and finished just outside of the money. Bitter sweet; it was bitter because this was my first race as an elite that I finished outside of the money spots, sweet to htfu and finish.
(sand pit pre-crash [still on 'a' bike])

Here's my knee Monday morning bruised and swollen, but seems to be working pretty normal.

So what turned out to be a mostly bummer race, turned into a pretty cool weekend. We went into town (Yellow Springs) to eat and grab a coffee. I knew Dave Chappelle lives in Yellow Springs and I have heard he lives there so he can just be a normal guy and do normal people things like go to coffee shops, etc. Well after eating we went into a coffee shop and Dave walked in right after us. After getting my coffee I said "hey" to him and asked if I could snap a picture. He politely asked that I didn't and I said "no problem at all, I totally understand..." I think he thought it was cool of me to respect him not wanting attention because he started chatting me up for a few minutes. After that I went outside to wait for the rest of the people I was with and when Dave came out he walked back up to me, stuck out his hand and said "nice to meet you." I shook his hand and said, "it was nice meeting you." Pretty cool encounter considering I've lived in Bloomington for 6years and I think I've seen The Coug twice, though I'm not 100% of either of those sightings (and I ride by his house pretty much weekly).
Anywho, this weekend is back to Ohio, but Cincinnati this time. So far this year I've had 1 good race, one okay race and two bad races. Let's hope I can bounce back and salvage this season and be were I think I can be in these races.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What did I do this weekend?

I paid money ride a bike in mud.

This weekend was the first round of the Indiana visits of the Ohio Valley Cyclocross Series. The Indy Double Weekend. Saturday was the race at the classic venue Brookside Park. It kind of rained on/off for a lot of the day making the course tricky. It wasn't muddy per se, and the sun came out and tacked it up quite a bit for our race.
I don't have a good explanation why, but I found myself completely buried at the start and I had to pass people the entire time. It was not ideal and I rode pretty well, but I could only pull out 11th.

Sunday was quite a contrast in terms of conditions. The first picture is from Saturday; nice and clean. The second is from Sunday; the muddiest race I've ever done.
It was nasty. All day rain. Getting ready in the rain sucks. Starting a race in the rain sucks. Racing through inches of peanut-butter mud, that's just the way it goes sometimes. I wasn't feeling very good most of the day. My stomach was in knots the entire night before and I just wasn't feeling 'on' at all so I decided early on that I wasn't going to pre-ride the course; it was just too muddy to bother and I wasn't feeling good anyway. But I eventually changed my mind and went out for a lap prior to our start. It was clear to me that I would be racing against the course, not the other riders. I couldn't push hard, I just had to try to stay steady and not crash. One probably could have crashed 10-20 times per lap if he were not overly cautious as to what he was doing 100% of the time. It was one of those races you hear about where going slow is fast and going fast is crashing. I did crash once and cut up my knee some and get a little 'hipper', but nothing big. I lost two places as a result and couldn't get them back. I ended up 17th. Not what I'd hoped for, but in the money at least.
So overall I guess I can say it was a...memorable weekend. Not the best in terms of results, but got to hang out w/ a lot of good friends and despite not feeling great and horrid weather, had a good time.