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!