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.