Tuesday, October 30, 2012

OVCX #6 Trick-or-Treat 'cross

This weekend was the 6th stop of the OVCX series at Eva Bandman Cyclocross park in Louisville. This venue hosted the Master's World Championship last year and will host the Elite World Champs this year.
It was the annual "Halloween cross" where a lot of people race in costume. I'm calling it the "trick or treat cross" because I got tricked. I felt good, rode good and placed poorly. That's like getting a Snickers bar the proverbial razor blade in it.    

It was windy and a very chilly day. The temp was ~52*, but the sun never poked out and that made it feel cold. Add 20+ mph steady winds to that, and you have a bone chiller of a day.

(great perspective shot of the harder of the two run-ups)
I really wanted to get a good start at this race. The course was no technical in the least, which tends to not suit me as well. So I figured if I could get a good start I could afford to give up a few positions throughout the race and still be okay.  

I got a good start. I rode top 10 for most of the first lap, but started giving up spots. I was picking bad lines on the run-ups and giving up places nearly every time (2 runs per lap). I have no idea why, but I was taking a right side line up the run ups, but they went directly to a left hand turn at the top. So I'd give up 2 or more spots to guys who took the left side of the run up. It was stupid and it took me a couple laps to get a hold of this. Add to this that the course was wide opened, and had a lot of flat pedal-hard stuff and it wasn't a good race for me. Like I mentioned above, I rode well and felt pretty good. But I ended up 25, which is among the worst of my results.     

But I did have a fun day despite. And I squeaked onto the 35+ podium too. They had champagne for all podiums, so for the first time in my life I got covered in victory wine. Andy Messer (2nd step of the podium) commented that we'd all be screwed if we got pulled over going home; having just showered in alcohol. Pretty good stuff.

This weekend is the UCI Cini 3 race(s). It is a Friday, Saturday, Sunday event. I have done the triple once before, but I'm doing only Sat and Sun this year. Taking off work, plus racing three days in a row, is tough. Add hotel bills, etc to all that and it's not worth it to me. Should be a fun weekend though.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hometown Racing...(and working)

 Man, it all started a couple months ago. The leaves on the trees were still green, and we needed to lay out the course for this past weekend's Bloomincross race.

This was the holy weekend in Bloomington Cycling: Hilly 100 and BloomingX. That also means it one of the busier weekends of my year. It means working on my feet w/ repetitive heavy lifting for ~23hrs in three days...and then trying to race CX on top of that. It's awesomeness at its awesomest.    

Hilly 100 went well. Friday night was cold and rainy. Saturday was not quite as cold, not rainy, but cloudy. Sunday was just about perfect. My work partner, Josh, and I were a little off of our last year's $$ amount, but did well. We were super busy like we always are, but it's fun and a nice change of pace from the shop setting. 

I'm always very unsure of how I'm going to race after working Hilly. I feel okay, but I have no idea how my tired body is going to respond to being pushed to 100% effort for an hour. It seems stupid to even line up, but it's my home race so I have to. 
I didn't have a great start, I came out of my pedal for the first time ever. But I got my crap together quickly and rode a really good race. I felt myself struggling around the 12-20min mark, but I dialed back the effort a bit and rode steady/hard. I ended up battling back and forth with my friend Will and I beat him on the line for 16th.

Not my best finish ever, but not bad. And if nothing else, at least I got this borderline "epic" sprint picture out of it. 
As  you may recall this course was the design of me and a few other local X'ers. I was very pleased with how it turned out and I got nothing but good feedback from it. it made me exceptionally proud. I msg'd the promoter and told him that getting so much positive feedback on the course felt like watching my child grow up to be successful. He, having kids, said he understands what I mean. Of course, we just have cats and they're not going to grow up to do much of anything except puke all over the place. So I guess I'll have to be proud of course design.   
It was a great weekend overall. One for the books. Seeing old friends at Hilly, hanging w/ friends I see all the time at the race, racing, then hanging w/ more friends at a post race bonfire-party-thing. Good times.
This weekend is the OVCX race at Eva Bandman CX park in Louisville. I haven't raced here since the Master's Worlds last year. And it's the home of the Elite Worlds this year. It's a cool venue and I usually like to race there. They have a lot of options in terms of how they can set up a course and it sometimes has more flat/opened/straight crap than I prefer, but that's CX. I'm looking forward to it all the same.
The fall weather is totally awesome here right now. I hope you all can enjoy it however you do. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

OVCX 4 the Gun Club

This weekend was the 4th stop of the OVCX tour in Cincinasty at the famed Gun Club venue. The race is held at a well, gun club on the N/E side of Cinci. I assume a gun club is where older rich guys go to shoot guns. I assume they're rich 'cause poor people don't need to go to no club to shoot dem guns. The place it littered w/ clay pigeons everywhere which makes it cool.
The weather was calling for 60% chance of T-storms all day. It stayed dry for most of the day... that is until abut 3minutes before our start.

this is right about when it started to rain
I had ridden a few laps on intermediate tires prior to my race and really liked the course. This place is considered the "mountain bikey" course of the series. Plus it has some gradual climbing and both of those things suit me pretty well.

I tend to do well in wet conditions also. That's not to say I like it raining, in fact being wet and cold and muddy kind of sucks, but I tend to race well in it, so whatever. Point is: several cards were in place for this to be a good race for me.

And it was! I felt great and rode well. Just prior to starting I made the call to switch over to mud tires and I was glad I did. The course conditions were changing about ever 2 laps due to the rain/no rain/sun coming out scenario. That made things difficult because lines were changing nearly every time you went through a section. But that's racing: you have to adapt. But for a good portion of our race it was very slick.  

A few of the OVCX heavy hitters were out in CO at the USGP race, so the field wasn't as "top heavy" as it usually is. Due to this I was riding inside the top 10 for most of the race.

I rode hard and finished 12th. I was happy with my race. I really started feeling the pain with three laps to go, but I dug and kept it going. I can really fool myself when I see the "3 to go" number. I think to myself, 'well, that's almost 2 to go, which is one away from 1 to go.' Which is all true, but still like 20-25min of all-out racing.

But I got through it and was pleased w/ myself.

I also got on the 35+ podium again! Rob Kendall is getting comfy on that middle step, but I'm trying to make my self more than an occasional visitor here.

This weekend is the Hilly 100 tour AND stop #5 of the OVCX series here in B-town, Bloomingcross. So the weekend is basically the busiest of my life. But it's going to be great fun and (so far...) the weather is looking perfect. Should be awesome! See you on the other side!! 

Monday, October 08, 2012

OVCX 3: feeling good, riding bad, going backwards

This weekend was stop #3 of the 2012 OVCX series. It was anew course outside the town of Xenia, OH. Xenia is the town made famous by the movie Gummo.  If you've seen Gummo you can imagine my excitement to have to go to Xenia. If you haven't seen it, don't. It will depress you (and/or gross you out). 
I woke up feeling good. I slept well and felt ready once I got up and going. Once we hit the road, however, we ran into road closers, traffic jams, etc. I should have just turned around.

We got to the venue with no time to spare for my buddy Erik's race. He had to rush, but made his start. I had plenty of time for normal preparation and felt good warming up, etc. Admittedly, this course wasn't really my style, but I rode a couple warm up laps and wasn't feeling too bad about it. 

I guess I didn't fare as bad as that guy

But then the race started and all of my good feelings were blown away as if by the tornado that wiped out the town years ago, giving us Gummo. 


The course was on very rough ground, mostly flat and with pretty much all wide opened non-technical turns. The kind of course that favors strong guys with big raw power. i have good power to weight but only because I'm really light; I don' have big raw power.   

I'm sure there's more to it than just that, I think I just had an off day. I felt like I was really struggling to move forward all day and in fact in terms of positions, I was moving backwards.

And there was nothing I could do about it. People were coming around me and I just sat there and watched them go by. I couldn't respond. I just had no legs. I finished 25. I think that was the first time I've ever ridden myself out of the money. I've crashed myself out of the money a couple of times, but I don' think I've even finished outside of the money spots and not crashed and lost lots of time due to it.    

I'm happy I gutted it out because I really wanted to quit a few times. Plus at least I got to wear my new hi-vis helmet and I got some pretty good pictures out of the deal. That's about all I can say though. I wanted to forget all about this race, which was on a Saturday, so Sunday I went out for longer ride where I enjoyed being out in the Southern IN Fall. I met up w/ a friend on the road and rode w/ him for a bit (he had already been out for a couple hours), then carried on alone. It was a nice ride and I had good power. So even though I felt demoralized after Saturday, I was till able to turn the pedals Sunday. Whew.
This coming weekend is the OVCX classic Gun Club race in Cinci-nasty. It's one of the more technical courses and generally one of my fav's. The temps are dropping here, but I'm looking forward to a solid week of training and good race weekend. Then the weekend after that is Bloomingcross, the OVCX race here in town. I am part of the course design team for the race so I am stoked for it. We made a promo video for the race and I think it's really going to be a crowd pleaser (the race, that is). It's also Hilly100 weekend which means busy, busy, busy for me. But I'm pretty good at time/stress management. So no worries here.
Enjoy the Fall everyone; may favorite time of year!                

Monday, October 01, 2012

St. Mary's CX, Indy

This was the third year for the St. Mary's Children's Hospital CX race in Indy. It was the first year the weather wasn't atrocious. The first year there was about 18" of snow. Last year there was inches of rain (it poured all day). This year was damn-near perfect.

I went up Saturday to help set up the course. Once done we got to pre-ride it some and I deemed the course very, very hard. The course "raced" easier than it "rode." That may be hard to understand, but at speed and with race adrenaline, etc, the course seemed easier. Plus the grass was beaten down from hundreds of people being on it before my race; that didn't hurt either.

I didn't feel like this course played to may strengths overall. It wasn't very technical, and the climbing was short and hard. The start was long and paved. I slotted in okay and tried to stay up in the lead group (which was big). I found myself gapped off the main group, but others were getting popped off as well so there was pretty much always a small group to race with. 

I felt pretty good and rode a pretty solid race. I tried to stay smart and not ride too far outside of myself and hoped that consistency would pay off over the eagerness to catch/get around people. 

I finished 15th, which isn't bad, but I was just off a group of 4-6 guys the whole day. I can't help but think that I could have done better.
You can notice in the pic of the finish I am on my orange bike. With a couple laps to go the shifting went to crap on my black bike and I had to switch. Sometimes that sort of thing can be dealt with, but with the hill on this course I couldn't have my bike shifting for me. Luckily I have tons of friends at these races and get a pit-crew whipped up by yelling that I need my other bike. My team-mate and good friend Josh has his hand in a cast, so he wasn't racing. His girlfriend Sarah has a minor concussion so she wasn't either. I yelled to Josh that I needed to pit and when I came around he and Sarah were there ready to catch my A bike and hand off my B bike. The exchange went super smooth, I lost no time and I was able to ride with confident shifting (though the brakes suck ass on my B bike, but at least I know and expect that).     

I entered the race as a 35+ Master's Elite (CX racing age is based on the next calendar year, which makes me 35). It's the same race, for the same money, but I can get on a podium for the same result! Pretty cool.  
This weekend is a far away-ish Ohio race. I like to minimize the 3+hr car trips, but I also hate to give up my points. I'm undecided as to whether or not I am going to go...I probably will though. Between racing, work and Bloomington's Hilly 100 bicycle tour (at which I work) October is always the busiest month of my year. Today's Oct. 1; BRING IT.