Monday, November 26, 2012

Easy week (thanksgiving), groupies, down w/ the sickness

This weekend was off of racing. So I took this week easy for training. No intensity, extra day off, you know all the luxuries of being a half-assed amateur bike racer.

 Thursday of course was Thanksgiving. Lindsay and I made the trip up to my parent's house for the obligitory meal and to hang out with our nieces. They're good girls and are a lot of fun to be around.

nice change from the sick action photos normally found on this lame action-packed blog

Saturday I woke up with that 'I'm getting sick' feeling; scratchy throat, little cough, sneezing, stuffy head...I started hitting the hot tea and echinacea hard. My immune system has been rock-solid this season and I was hoping it would hold on for another few weeks. But there's no fighting it when it hits.
I had planned to do the Sunday group ride (or groupie as I like to call it) with the Bakehouse group. I wasn't sure how it wold go with a cold hampering me, but it was a nice day so figured I'd go and ride whatever pace I felt good with. If that meant getting dropped, whatever. It turns out I did get dropped. But because I got a flat! I actually had really good legs and was feeling pretty good. I was on the front on the causeway climb when I felt/saw my rear tire going down. I had flatted on a short ride Friday and had missed a tiny piece of brown glass that was still in the tire. I told the group to go on (I absolutely hate having a group wait for me). It's an out/back ride, so I would just get it fixed, ride on and catch the group on the return route.

Bakehouse groupie hitting 446
I ended up riding considerably harder than I wanted to because I was on my own for ~30min. So I assumed I'd have an "easy" ride back in being able to sit in. But the group decided the way back would be the harder section of the out/back. So as the group started splitting I was trying to play fair and gradually bring the group back to the splinterers in front, rather than making fast/quick efforts to move up. But the group straggled anyway, so it was just 4 of us for a good portion of the way back. It was a good solid ride and I'm glad I went. Like I said, it was harder than I wanted to ride with a cold, but I don't feel any worse off for having done it, so I guess that means it was a good thing.

I had some TV to watch when I got back as the Formula 1 season closer in Brazil was on. The world championship was to be determined at this race; down to the wire. The weather conditions wee crazy going form rain, to dry, to drizzle, to rain, to drizzle, etc. They must have pitted for tires (tyres) like 10times! Young German Sebastian Vettel ended up wining his third (consecutive) world title. That's a big deal. Only two other people in history have won three in a row. I have a ton of admiration for those guys. I can't imagine how difficult to would be to drive a car that fast for that amount of time making no mistakes. It's like CX: 100% form gun to tape, and no mistakes. And if you do make a mistake, you have to be able to recover from it quickly. Good stuff.

This weekend is the classic Indiana CX race at Brookside Park. This race has been run longer than I have been into CX. But I've done it every year since I started into the CX. It features those famed "Brookside stairs." It is a venue on the less fortunate side of Indy (read: in the ghetto) and as such the famed steps deteriorate more every year. I'm wondering if this will be the year the trip up the stairs will take a different route to avoid the steps that are falling apart. We will see I guess, right?

Three races left in OVCX series. It's coming down. Hopefully I can kick this cold. I am definitely not down with the sickness. (btw: I didn't know who sang this song, and I think these guys are a bunch of pussies. But I used it anyway) I don't know which is worse down with the sickness, or Down With Disease. Actually I do: it has to be The Sickness. Those guys suck.

Here's some Slayer for putting  you through all the above BS. My apologies.          

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CX'ing in horse country (Lexington) OVCX #10

This passed weekend's event was the OVCX's annual long-haul to Lexington, KY. It's a long way, but a pretty drive; the rolling KY hills and all that horse pasture. Plus a lot of really luxurious barns and (people) houses along the routes. I get the feeling there's a lot of money in Lexington. Every part of the city I've seen looks like Carmel, IN, but more real somehow ("old money?").

Got my new HiVis shoes in finally.
I've only raced here once before and that was last year. It stormed/poured rain all day then, so I can say I came home with a favorable impression. But I want as many solid points/results as I can get for the series; and hey, what else do I have to do on a Sunday? So it's off to Lexington!

The course isn't all that exciting, but it suits me pretty well. It basically just twists around a baseball field a whole bunch. It's not "overly technical," but it's pretty "turny." It doesn't feature much long, opened, flat, straight crap and a lack of that crap tends to suit me better. 

I felt good from the beginning of the day. From when I woke up, through my morning stretching routine, the drive, warm up, etc, I felt really good. But that isn't always a sign of a good race. It's hard for me to know how I'm going to race until I'm actually racing. I don't know if it's like that for everyone, but sometimes when I feel great I do bad, and sometimes when I feel like crap I do well.  

The start is a long uphill drag. But at least it's on pavement.

But this day I felt good and rode good. I got a good start, which I've been doing lately, and rode a solid first lap coming through easily in the top 10, probably more like 5 or 6.  I didn't want to over-do it though. A few guys got around me who I know are faster and I settled in to good hard effort-rhythm that I (assumed) I could maintain for an hour. I rode a pretty much flawless race technically speaking and rode good and hard effort wise. If I had to make a complaint, I would say that their barriers were too far apart and I found myself having to half-step between to get over them. Not a huge thing, but knocks off the flow.

Top 10 is my ~general~ goal fro OVCX races and I never rode worse than 11th here. I was "working" with a guy most of the race and we were trading 10th and 11th spot throughout. But with two to go he crashed and I had to capitalize on his misfortune. I felt legitimately bad for taking advantage because we had ridden together for like 4 laps, and he's a buddy, but that's racing and I wanted that top-10. I held onto it and got 10th. Pretty sure that's my best ever OVCX Elite finish. And I was 2nd on the 35+ podium! Good day.

I'm pretty sure I've managed to sneak a can of Monster into every podium shot I've been in this year

So this being Thanksgiving week, there is no race this weekend and as such I'm taking this week "off" of training. The normal: extra day or two off, no hard intervals, etc. And I'm looking forward to a weekend off of travel/racing. Plus I get to hang w/ my Chi-town nieces Thursday. And eat a bunch of protein. You know, to rebuild muscle and what-not.
Happy T-giving all. Too much to be thankful for to list; if I tried you'd all be here reading for hours instead of spending time w/ family.    

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

USGP Louisville Weekend

This weekend was the big USGP of Cyclocross weekend in Louisville at Eva Bandman Park, home of the 2013 World Championships.
What's extra cool about this is that they were using what is supposed to be the actual course for Worlds. I went down to LV Friday after noon to get a few laps on the course. I thought it was a good course. It wasn't overly technical, but the technical features were difficult. It had less open/flat stuff than this venue normally does, but still some.

It also had a couple of sand pits. One was long, but ride-able for the most part. It kind of went uphill/downhill a couple of times went from deep to shallow sand depths. That made it very tricky.  

 Friday after pre-riding I got checked into the hotel and then there's a number pick up "party" thing downtown. My hotel-mates were running late so some other friends and I went over to the party thing and got our numbers. Then we went to dinner, went back to the hotel and had another "party" and the hotel bar. The racing starts early in the day for us at these pro events, so it wasn't a totally massive night, but let's just say those guys can drink

I "earned" second row call ups for these races this year (via order of registration), which is awesome because think I've always started these races near 80-90th or so. I was pretty stoked to start at the front. Especially given that there was a run up, sand pit and fly-over  all inside of about 2minutes of the start. 
I got a good start and was ticking off some decent laps. But on one lap I biffed the last section of the sand pit and while I didn't actually crash I did end up stomping my foot into my front wheel. I wasn't sure what damage I had done at the time; all I knew was my front brake was dragging hard on my wheel. The good news was that I was only about 20seconds from the pit and my "B" bike. These types of things always cost you more than the actual time lost though. You loose some focus and that costs you as well. I soldiered on on my B bike and finished an okay 13th. And luckily I only knocked my wheel out of straight in the drop out. So there was no damage and it was fixable in like 5 seconds time. Nice (I like a no-money fix).      

Saturday night was another dinner/hang out at bar sesh. As noted before, those guys can drink. It's a good time hanging w/ them all.

Sunday the course had been changed a little. Most notably the aforementioned sand pit was run backwards. What this did was change it from ~3/4 ride-able to ~1/4 ride-able. And it was long pit which made it a long run on Sunday. And the section leading into it was a long open grass section, so you had to conserve energy leading into the sand, or pay the price.

I got a good start again and rode a good race. I really didn't make any mistakes and ended up 9th. Our team put 3 guys in the top 10 for this race. That's a pretty solid showing. I had a fun weekend and as you can see from the pictures the weather was awesome. It was in the mid 70's and sunny all weekend. People were walking around in shorts/t-shirts all weekend. We raced at 9:30am, so it was mid 50's for our race which is abut perfect. The pro's said it was too hot for them (it was 70's by the time they went).

This weekend it's back to standard OVCX racing in Lexington, KY. It's a far away race, but we're chasing series points here! After that (Thanksgiving week) it's a weekend off. And I'm ready for that. There's been a lot of travel lately plus I'll use the week of T-giving as a week "off" of training, which I will appreciate too. Oh, and turkey. I like me some turkey too.   

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Breaking All The Rules

A sweet Ozzy referrence for the post tile.

I broke one of my own CX rules this weekend: bring everything you own, and bring two of it. Especially in November. Forecasts can be way wrong; and boy was it wrong Saturday. And since I packed my bag based on forecast rather than the rule, I was not prepared for the conditions.
39 and rain. Hypothermia anyone?

This weekend was the big Cinci-nasty UCI 3 race weekend. I skipped Friday, so it was the big Cinci-nasty UCI 2 race weekend for me. UCI races are the biggest races in country, so they bring bigger fields for all races as well as top pros for the pro races. Cool weekend to be a part of.

Saturday's forecast called for low-mid 50's, 30% chance of rain. That's short-sleeved base layer, long-sleeved skinsuit and light gloves racing weather. It rained pretty much all day and the temps never reached 50. Word was at the start of my race the temp had dropped to 39. And it was raining. That's nasty, nasty weather. And because it had rained all day, the course was totally muddy. So after about 1minute of racing, your caked in cold mud. 

So this race just started off bad for me. I was shivering uncontrollably before we even started. I got a decent start and held a good position for mot of the first lap. But there is a feature that they use at this venue called "the camel hump" that is a big hill jutting out of nowhere. Some years it's been a simple up/down but this year it was traversed 3 times, two of which were off-camber (both off camber up and off camber down). It would have been difficult in the dry. But wet, it was very hard. I lost places nearly every time up this thing. I don't know how many laps we did, 5 maybe, and I made it up all three parts of the camel only 2 (making it up meaning riding up). And the times I didn't make it up it wasn't a graceful momentum carrying dismount either. It was a 'struggle, struggle, stop, half fall over, get off and start pushing' type of affair. 

The Cinci-nasty Defeet socks flyover

I know how to ride mud, but it was pretty much a crap race. I really just didn't handle the cold well. I think I finished 24th or something.

I didn't know it, but I was being chased/sprinted to the line. I sensed it late and barely held Will off.

Miserable after the finish line.
 One interesting thing did happen during Sat's race though: I ran over a squirrel. I was on a short paved section and I saw a squirrel running toward me from my left. I was watching him thinking his timing was about perfect for me to hit him if he kept on. Keep on he did. I ran over him square with my front wheel and he flew up and bounce off my leg. I was transitioning off the pavement and onto (mud), so I couldn't really look back to see what happened to him. But the guy behind me was yelling "that was unbelievable!" I was glad I wasn't the only one who saw it. And I hope the stupid squirrel is okay.

Sunday was a new day but with a similar forecast: mid 50's and very little chance of rain. The difference was it was accurate this time! Thankfully I did have the good sense to pack two racing suits. Otherwise I may not have been able to rave Sunday my black suit was so messed up.     

The course had some mud on it from the rain the day before, but overall was in fine shape. I've raced at this venue (Harbin Park) since I started racing CX. It has long uphill sections, which tend to suit me better than short, steep 3-4 pedal stroke "climbs." The course is a good mix of technical cornering and more open sweeping turns; I usually like it.

This race starts with a long pavement straight, then onto the grass with some turns. About 2 or so minutes into the lap there's a tricky down/up, down/up off camber that if you're outside of the top 10 or so, gets balled up and is most likely going to force you off your bike to run it. I did not want to have to get off for this section, meaning I either had to be toward the front, or off the back. I got another good start and was able to easily get through this section without getting caught in traffic. I help position well, but I hadn't gotten a chance to ride the first section in my pre-race sighting lap. So when we hit the first (of the two) sandpit, which is on an uphill bias, I started riding it on adrenaline, but got bogged down ~3/4 through and came off. That cost me a few places, but I rode well otherwise, battled with a few guys throughout and finished a respectable 13th in a big UCI Elite Master's race. Having biffed the sand on lap one made me know better than to mess with it again, so I dismounted and carried every other lap. It was much faster.

It was a good race and I was happy with my result.

This weekend is the Louisville stop of the USGP of CX, The Derby City Cup.  That's back-to-back weekends of double racing and watching the best pros in the US race. The weather looks really good this weekend, but I'm packing everything I own just in case! This is always a pretty fun weekend. Looking forward to it. 
And that's that. This post is later than normal and probably incomplete, but whatevs. Busy weekends and busy weeks. I'm sure you can find better things to do than wait for/read my awes-rad blog posts anyway...or are you that bored?