Monday, December 20, 2010

A little Sunday fun

Last week, I got a message from Jason with Main Street Velo asking if I'd be interested in helping with a cross clinic.  I was very honored by this, especially after he schooled me for most of the season, so of course, I made plans to attend not quite knowing what I'd have to offer.  With maintenance/base miles covering the schedule, I jumped on the idea of riding to Shelbyville with Mitch and Chris, doing the clinic and then riding home - a great start to 2011 training while keeping the intensity down!  Life happened and they weren't able to ride out, so I opted to drive - likely a good move with ice patches remaining on lesser travelled roads.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's the off-season, now what?

In the last 12 days, I"ve ridden my bike ONCE!  If you'd asked a few weeks ago, I'd have said that sounded glorious... but now, it's really not.  Training (and racing) is what gives my life structure, well that plus working full time.  Honestly, it's driving me crazy.  Starting tomorrow, I'm back on the training wagon.  Maybe just 4 days a week for a couple of weeks, but something must give.  Strangely my body has required more sleep since I stopped riding than before (closer to 9 hours than the normal 6).

This week has indeed been a good one to take off with all the ice laying around.  When I got home on Thursday I nearly slid into my roommates cars trying to creep into my parking spot only to take half an hour and a blanket on the ice to get out of the middle of the street. 

One more work day and then it's Christmas shopping, piano bar, training, and maybe a trail day at Waverly and cross clinic with the Main Street Velo team from Shelbyville on the docket for the weekend!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Indianapolis Double Wknd - Part 2

The story continues:
Sunday morning I got to do something rare - sleep in!  Awake before the alarm at 8:30 and on the road by 9:00ish to Brookside Park.  The rumors were all about a set of stairs, a LONG set... and in the week prior I had contemplated learning to shoulder the bike, but coach assured me I'd be fine suit casing it like always.  And he hasn't lead me astray yet, so I showed up without the ability to shoulder a bike.  What's the first thing I see?  44 steps still snow and ice covered, an ice patch along the start line, and another ice patch in the first 110 degree turn.  No worries.... I've got Rhinos again today!
Frozen cables
Once again, I got registered, changed, took a lap and set up on the trainer.  The warm up went well and the stairs weren't a concern after the pre-ride other than a few that were rounded off and near impossible to get footing.  The temperature was colder, probably around 20F but there was no precipitation.  The course held two paved climbs and a handful of other "power sections" but handling was still paramount.  First call to staging came, I sat on the trainer relaxed and headed over just as the officials started walking, dropped the pit bike, and got ready for a call up, only my front derailleur is rubbing....uh oh!
More frozen mud, with clean wheels.
Call-ups were off again, but Jason, Ryan, Matt, Will, and I all got our spots on the front line.  The start was a couple hundred yards uphill on pavement and then a thawing 110 degree turn onto grass.  I took the hole-shot with Jason on my wheel and with the noise was pretty sure the whole field was on his wheel.  The pace was hard but not crazy and when we got to the top of the treacherous descent I looked back to see we were alone with at least 10 seconds to third.  Jason and I raced for a couple laps with minor accelerations, but nothing major and with three laps to go I noticed third place was gaining on us.  In my head, I thought a win for me and third for Jason left us tied in points (this was incorrect math based on Jason skipping Saturday's race).  So I was content with keeping pace and seeing what happened.  Halfway through lap 4 of 5, Jason threw down a big attack on the second paved climb and opened about a 5 bike length gap.
Tough to see, but back seat that I "lived out of..."
He held that gap through the last turns of the lap until I saw coach standing at the tape.  He told me to, "Ride for the win!" and those four words lit a fire.  As we came onto pavement I dug deep and closed the gap on the first climb of bell lap.  In the second turn, Jason hopped off his bike with a dropped chain and though I hated it, I dug even deeper and saw third place catch Jason as I rounded the next turn.  I buried myself opening a bigger gap, but not thinking about keeping it upright, just "riding for the win."  There were moments where I thought I was going to pop from going too deep too early in the lap, but as I turned onto the pavement, Jason sat in third behind Cory with a few turns remaining.  I got to relax and enjoy the win across the line and then watch Jason take the sprint for second!  Another great race, battling great competition until the last lap.  I wish that Jason hadn't had bad luck with the mechanical so we could have raced to the line; he's an outstanding sport and has been one of many great competitors this season!

It's been a week since the race and I've got a lot of after thoughts, the engineer in me requires bullets (in no particular order):

  • Coach doesn't show a lot of emotion, but that day he did!  Those four words were what I needed!
  • I'm lucky to have supportive people in my life - family, girlfriend, friends, teammates, and competition!
  • Going from a decent Cat 4 season in 2009 to this has been amazing - hope the trend continues!
  • I race best in snowy conditions - would come in handy if I ever got to race in Belgium (I wish!)
  • Following coach's workouts almost perfectly for a week pays off!
  • If it weren't for all the driving, I'd love to keep racing!
  • My first mention in a magazine HERE!
  • Off season is here and no planned riding for two weeks!!

Indianapolis Double Wknd - Part 1

The season finale, it sounds so... I don't know, all ending?  Almost sad really!

The plan:
Drive to Indy on Saturday morning, race at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park to benefit St Mary's Children's hospital and then find refuge at the Hampton for the night with Farmer.  Eat pizza, drink beer, sleep plenty and make the short trek to Brookside Park, a staple in the OVCX series that I had not yet seen, then hang out for awards and drive home.  The end.  Yes, the plan ended there for at least a couple of weeks... Sunday was the start to the "off-season" whatever that means.
Snowy roads en route.
Ft Harrison:
Course was snowy, roads were slick and flakes were still falling with temps hovering just below freezing.  I got a warm-up lap in after the Cat 4 race and got heckled by the announcer for going "backside down" on the muddy turns along a hillside.  Changed into a dry kit and set up on the trainer under canopy to warm up with an extra layer of clothes to keep the whole body warm.  This was my first stab at a trainer warm up, but quickly became a fan, at least for cold days!  Coach loaned me a set of Dugast Rhinos and I tested them quickly before heading to the start line finding them rather sturdy on off cambers and cornering.  I'd heard all great things about the tire and it was all true, but more on that later.

Front tire from the drive up.
Call-ups were messed up -- I got called like tenth, but was quick to the line and took the last front row spot.  Then the mayor wanted to speak, but he wasn't there.  I'm all for having the mayor involved and appreciate all the great things he's doing for Indy, but it was 20 something degrees, I just shed my layers and you want me to stand here while you find the mayor??!!  Whatever, no one froze, the official forgot to give us a "30 seconds" and we were off!  The first half lap was a bit of a blur, but I remember taking the lead with Jason and Ryan close in tow for a bit and then trading with Jason to follow his lead (this is where the lesson at John Bryan comes in handy.)  By the end of lap 1, Jason and I were off the front with Ryan dangling just a few bike lengths back.  I felt like power was good, but there were so few places on the course to let it go.  Every time I'd attack, I'd wash in the next turn and we'd be back together and vic versa.  Then as we approached the finish line to start the fourth and final lap, I hear John heckling me for having my water bottle in 20 degree temps, so what do I do?  Take a sip, since anything more was frozen, and launch the bottle.  All the while, John is commentating and says, "...and he attacks!"  So I did...

Post race with clean wheels
Then the race got interesting and a hell of a lot of fun!  I threw all I could into the pavement section and held on for dear life through the first turn.  Through the first third of the lap I opened handful of bike lengths and started backing off in the turns and pushing the straights.  "Upright the rest of the lap and it's mine!" I thought.  And it would have been, but I managed to lay it down in a 180 before the wooded section.  Jason caught me and attacked the next straight, but I managed to get back on his wheel within a few turns and passed him crossing the pavement before the hillside, the last real technical part of the course.  I'd been tripoding a turn that he ran every lap and thought it faster, but not this time.  I did the splits with my bike still under me and Jason ran past, I hopped off, ran the turn and remounted with two bike lengths to close.  Neither of us could clip in at this point with all the hillside mud gummed up in our cleats and I knew I had to relax and get both feet in to sprint.  So calmly, I let the gap remain until the last turn when I felt both pedals click.  He landed on pavement and I followed shortly and we both stood to sprint and away I went.  I was later told that he sat up about halfway down the pavement, but it was a battle and the most fun I'd had in a race to date!

The Rhinos were amazing, honestly I think they made my race.  The improved traction allowed me to relax around a few turns that Jason was skating through.  To put it frankly, I'd pay retail for a pair of them before next season if I had to!
Dillman chasing hard for 2nd in Elites!
The rest of the plan for Saturday went smoothly, only without the beer and with added "warm up on seat heater" time.  Due to cold, pictures were limited, BUT... I made the press!!!  You'll have to read part 2, coming soon to see!
Cat 3 results

Thursday, December 9, 2010

John Bryan State Park

This was the second OVCX race that I had planned to miss.  Mind and body both wanted a break and it was a three hour drive.  BUT.... coach ensured me that racing was the best way to stay sharp and finish well in Indy the following weekend, so Christine, her puppy Denver, Duane W and I loaded up my truck shortly after dawn and hit the road for Yellow Springs, OH just outside Dayton.
Post race with Christine, Denver and muddy bike (by Jen F. aka BWE)
This week I was able to get a pre-ride, but knew the course would change as temperatures climbed to just above freezing.  There's not a lot of elevation change, but there were reward sections for all types of riders - long power sections, sharp slippery turns, double barriers, single log crossings, and a tight dipping turn that most had to run.  Mentally I was only about 80% there, but I had a game plan and wanted to stick to it.  Coach convinced me to skip the holeshot and try to stay in the front group til halfway through the race then attack.  Last time I tried this I got crashed out in the first lap so confidence in the plan was moderate at best.
Start line in shorts and Crank - everyone else has leg warmers (by A Daisy on my Toe)
Non Holeshot (by A Daisy on my Toe)
A few turns into the race, I was sitting top five and something happened!  I finally felt comfortable following a wheel!!  In all honesty, a big part of the reason I kept taking holeshots was because I was more comfortable in the lead picking my own line.  Now it didn't matter and eventually it'll pay off!  Jason was looking strong once again and basically rode away from the rest of us when he hopped the barriers AGAIN!  Damn I've got to learn to do that this winter...

Riding the run-turn (by A Daisy on my Toe)
I digress... things were going well until I laid it down in a super easy turn with a little mud and Will S and a National Engineering guy came by.  From there I chased, but not hard enough til the last lap when it was too late.  I rolled in for fourth just a few seconds off the podium and while I know I didn't have the mental toughness I wanted, there were good thing to take from the race.  A - handling was better and turns were faster.  B - I rode the dippy muddy turn faster than most people could run or ride it.  C - I found a comfort in riding a wheel!  D - I dropped a lower points race.  And last but not least, the day was spent with good company.
Riding out of the run-turn (by A Daisy on my Toe)

Other good news from the day, Farmer was back on his game, even after a rough first lap crash!

Just one more weekend of racing to finish off THIRTEEN straight weeks and TWENTY races.  The OVCX series showdown is in Indianapolis this year at Ft Harrison State Park and Brookside Park, the weather looked cold and snow on the 10 day forecast!

Farmer finishing up (by A Daisy on my Toe)


Promotion in Lexington was the Kentucky State Championships and a shorter drive than normal, but it was after a long week and I got up early to share a ride with Mike (who drove, letting me sleep!)  Normal course recon from outside the tape during the 4 race showed several punchy short climbs and lots of off camber.  

Mike, Will, and Segal all threw down with a couple of top 10's while some chatty redhead talked me into helping with a road crossing.  Then it was time to change and hop on the course (marshall's said we were good after the finish line) but got rushed off before finishing a lap due to another race finishing. 

At the start line I knew Jason would go for it from the gun, so the plan was to stay with him.  Wrong.  We went into the first turn side by side and by turn two he had two bike lengths.  By the time we got to the barriers, he had 5 bike lengths and Matt K was in second.  Jason hopped the barriers, shit! I have got to work on that!!  And that was it, he rode away.  Matt and I fought back and forth with a pretty comfortable gap to 4th until the last lap and a half where he opened a gap and kept chasing Jason.  How could I be let down with a podium and a silver medal in Kentucky?  It's not so much about the step or the placing but that I was giving up time in the turns and not mentally strong enough to make it hurt and push through.

Chasing (by Debbie Baker)
Chasing Matt K (by Jen Farmer)
First OVCX Podium (by Jen Farmer)
Finished third on the day and held on to top 5 in the OVCX series.  Next up - John Bryan or Gravel Grovel?  Coach says John Bryan or both, to stay sharp for Indianapolis double weekend.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Off Season

19 cross races in 13 weeks, ending in back to back wins... it's a good way to start the off-season!

I'll catch up on a few missed race weekend posts on here this week, but for now - Thanks to family, friends, team sponsors, and everyone that offered support, both at the races and from home!!!  This year when training rides came up in conversation, it was, "How long are you riding today?" "X hours" "Well, have fun and be careful!"  Without that type of support, a fully balanced life wouldn't have been possible!
Two weeks of no "planned" training, just some runs, easy rides and whatever else sounds fun to stay loose and keep from getting fat!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Infirmary Mounds CX

The more posts I type, the less I want to talk race report type details, because usually they're pretty boring details, especially for you to read... but this week is different!  I hope...
Sunsetting behind us on the trip up.
First though, the trip - Christine and I headed north late Saturday morning with a planned detour to IKEA en route to Columbus, OH.  I've been hearing about this place for years, but had never seen it for myself.  Believe it or not, I got out of there with only a 2.99 wall clock!  But... when time comes to furnish a house, some serious $$$ may be spent in that blue and yellow building!  Next up was dinner with Farmer and BWE at Carsonie's Stromboli and while it's no Little Caesars I guess it was alright (actually it was outstanding!)  From there we enjoyed great company and a low key evening in C-bus, a good night's sleep and  a tasty breakfast before hitting the road for Infirmary Mounds Park near Granville, OH.
Farmer and BWE
Then of course was a cyclocross race -- or something like that... details later, first we'll finish the trip.  Post race dinner (lunch? supper? who knows?) was at Brew's Cafe in downtown Granville, the home of Dennison University and yet again, great food!  Something about a juicy cheeseburger to replace all those burned calories tastes amazing.  By now it's late afternoon and we've got 4 hours of driving left... so what the hell, why not break it up with a stop at an outlet mall?  Turned out to be a fun and productive stop (made the lady happy too) and we still rolled back into the 'Ville by 10ish.

NOW.... back to the slightly less boring than normal race details!

Based on pre-reg I knew that the Kiel brothers from Lilly Greygoat would be tough and Scott P and a couple others could ride away with it just as easily.  Off the line I went for another hole-shot and lead through the barriers.  Smart or not, I'm usually more comfortable setting the pace than following so for most of a lap I pounded away trading a pull or two with Ryan K and soon there were just three of us off the front.  My legs felt pretty good and I was taking good lines but felt like Trebon squeezed between Powers and TJ since it was me plus the Kiels.  I knew a one-on-one battle would be easier to handle than trying to race teammates, brothers at that!  So every chance I got I'd attack the shit out of the course until finally it was just Matt and I trading turns on the front.

It was awesome to execute a mid-race strategy so well and create the 1on1 race I wanted... until Matt opened a small (2-3s) gap.  I tried to close it in the whoop-di-dos and took a two wheel drift into a stake. He looked over to the sound of the snap, saw me track stand and took off.  I chased hard for a while but he'd gotten just enough gap to be out of site on most of the course and that did it.

OK Ray, just race hard and take the second step!

Or maybe not, one lap to go and here comes Scott P from Team Hungry with his own plans for second place.

Exiting singletrack with #3 close behind.
5 seconds back... shit! He's on my wheel!!  It's fine, relax, just save a little and take him in the sprint?!  As we rolled by the pits for the last time some buddies cheered him onward and he attacked with more than half the course remaining... so much for saving some!  Turns out he burned that match too early and just as he let up I struck my own match to dive into the last single track with the lead.  We both cleaned the "run-up" and weren't more than a second apart coming into the last turn.  Coach was standing there cheering and reminding me to go to big ring... great idea!  Or not... my front derailleur didn't respond so down the cassette I went.  Once on pavement I stood up and he conceded, but it was also promising to have that hole-shot burst left at the finish!!

After 40 minutes of racing, second place with just one mistake, and a third podium in 8 days!  I'll take it! AND it was enough to climb back into second in the series, just 4 points out of the lead.  There are about 10 guys that could potentially win the series after 11 of 15 races.  Looks to be an exciting weekend in Indy in a few weeks!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

USGP, StG, Iceman, and IceCross

OK, so I'm a little behind so I'll try to keep each part brief.  After Bloomington came USGP at the new Eva Bandman Cyclocross Park just 3 miles from home and I went back to my hole-shot ways followed by fading back to 23 and 15 each day.  I was content with Saturday and pretty happy with Sunday, at just 1 minute off 4th place.
Hole-shot - Day One USGP Derby City (Photo credit: Mr. Tom Moran)

Storm the Greens
Tuesday and Wednesday I slipped in 5 workouts for a first shot at overload from coach.  It worked, I was cooked, but he set me up with the right recovery to regain my legs by the weekend.

Next up was Storm the Greens, again just a few miles from home.  Like clockwork, I grabbed the hole-shot and lead half a lap only this time I held on to Jason's wheel for a while when he came around.  We opened a considerable gap on 3 and 4 and then he pulled away from me by a handful of seconds before I washed out in a turn and lost another 8-10 seconds putting 3 and 4 very close.  Mentally I went backwards for a lap, then got back on top of things and started chasing, but 20 seconds in the last lap is a tough gap to close.  Finished in 4th and bummed about the mistake, but content with fitness and bounce back.

Michigan sunset
After 13 races in 8 weeks my mind and body were running ragged, so I all but begged for an easy week but coach said I had to stay sharp and we agreed on one extra easy day instead and I cut my race tune up short based on darkness and cold.

Iceman Cometh was next on the list and goals for this race had been set TWO years in advance.  After placing 5th in Beginner in 2008 I wanted to go top 10 in age group the next two years in the next two classes.  2009 I placed 7th in Sport, so of course, quitting on 2010 wasn't an option.  Iceman has always been a fun trip and it's a tradition for Mario and I to drive the 9 hours with whoever else wants in but this year I couldn't get excited about it like years past.  Maybe I was stuck on cross fever or maybe I'd spent too many hours on the road this season - I still don't know.
Michigan sky

Anyways, this year they changed the format and removed Beg/Sport/Expert classes and just lumped age groupers together.  Since this meant all expert were included, it still meant my goal was measureable.  Based on last year's time, I was to start in Wave 6 of about 40 at 9:22am.  We arived in Kalkaska with more than an hour to spare and I slowly got ready and on the bike for a warm up.  Heart rate was insanely low (57bpm if I sat still more than a couple minutes) and there were no nerves - quite the strange feeling prerace.  I managed to get in half an hour of warm up and headed to the line but got stuck in third row.  I handed off some extra clothes and 5-4-3-2-1, we're off!  I worked my way toward the front to avoid any wheel crossed crashes like last year's pro race, but instead of pulling I sat in until we hit dirt.  This is supposed to be a 28 mile point to point race, so there's no need to kill it at the start.  I sat comfortably second wheel for a couple miles and then started to fall off the pace and let a couple guys by. 
Iceman Cometh 2010 Start

Williamsburg Road "climb" (Big Ringed it!)
The first half of the race was spent passing about as many as passed me, trying to push it but not too hard.  I had a tough time mentally pushing to that pain/puke/cry limit and kicked myself for it later, but the second half of the race, or the more hilly portion was spent passing a few people at a time and rarely getting passed.  Maybe staying off the ppc limit wasn't such a bad idea to have something at the end?  All the while, I'm doing the math in my head to see if a sub two hour finish is possible - it was... until I hit the last bit of singletrack a mile from the finish and 15+ people were lined up doing 6 mph.  Ah well, guess that's the end of the sub-2 hopes!  I finished in 2:00:58 with an average speed of 14.4mph.  Good enough for 4th in 25-27 age group and 6 minutes faster than last year on a course that was 8 minutes slower for the Pros!
4th place medal
Last on the docket for the weekend was IceCross.  I was torn on whether or not to hang around to race or get on the road on Sunday morning but after some convincing from Glypie and recollection that the previous year had been a cool course with sweet prizes I suited up, paid my entry and warmed up.

Mark and Glypie at dinner Saturday @ Red Mesa Grill
As if it were a broken record, I took the hole-shot of the B race, had to shoulder someone around the second turn, which pissed me off and then started a new song by attacking and opening a gap.  For 3 laps it continued to open with a chase group of 3 nearly 20 seconds back.  Eventually one guy attacked the group and came after me and I made a bad line choice in the sand causing my rear wheel to slide in the dropout.  I hopped off to fix it and #2 saw and came out of the sand as I remounted... the battle was on!  Since he had just bridged and was gassed and I'd just spent 10 seconds off the bike with the repair, I attacked after the lap line just to stretch him out again.  Then with 3 laps to go, I rode steady on the front paying attention to where he was close and where he was struggling.  I located four attack points and on the last lap stood on the pedals at every one!  Finally, the third time was enough - I opened a few second gap again and rode steady to the line for my first CX win!

The sad news - they didn't have a podium, and the prizes consisted of a box of XL tshirts and an 8oz bottle of ELITE.  I've never used the latter, but it was the best option, if you use it, lemme know.

Other than one last photo, that's all for now.  Next up is Infirmary Mounds in Columbus followed by ProMotion in Lexington, John Bryan in Dayton (maybe), and the two-day in Indianapolis.  Currently I sit third in the series and it would be a dream season to finish top 5 in my first year in the 3's... we'll see!!
Couldn't resist a photo of this on the way home...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mountainous bicycle rides, trucked at Bloomingcross, and other random ramblings

Two mountain bike rides in two days!!!  Not that uncommon for me generally, but it had been 52 days since last riding fat tires.  Blasphemy, I know...but now I'm going to give a list of excuses that don't really matter.  Fool's Gold destroyed my brakes, my rear triangle had to be warrantied, and CX is so damn much fun!  Anywho, it was good to get out on the Cheroneca trails Tuesday and Wednesday last week and I'm pretty sure my handling and line choices were better than they had been all summer (though that didn't take much!)

Sunday was Bloomington and I had high hopes to finish well, even after preriding the course.  The main reason for high hopes being that USGP was coming up and as it stands now I've got shit for starting position (about 11th row).  Coach and I discussed a new race strategy that involved NOT taking the holeshot and saving those matches for mid race.  So, I hit the first turn third wheel  and moved up to second quickly... then, two minutes into the race, the plan failed.  A gap of about a bike length had opened between me and the leader starting into a straight away when the guy in third decided he was going by on the narrow side.  I had no idea he was there until my pedal went into his front wheel and he and both bikes stopped and I kept going.  Based on garmin data, speed was about 16-18 mph, though the garmin couldn't tell me how many times I rolled or how far I slid...

As for the crash, I can't pass all the blame, because once it happened and the leaning started I didn't react fast enough to get away, but the whole thing could have been avoided with a simple, "On your left" or a pass on the open side of the course.  I'm not going to try and deny a pass two minutes into a 45 minute race.  All was mostly well though, so back on the bike and off we went.  Derailleur hanger was bent, but the course was flat enough I could stay out of the easy gears and I rolled in for 8th of 18 on decent legs at best.  Not at all what I wanted, but that's just how it goes sometimes.  It was enough to hold onto the top spot in the series, but it doesn't look like that will last much beyond 7 races.  For the next two days it felt like I'd been hit by a truck, but nothing broken or torn so I feel pretty lucky honestly!

Power - revisited...
Saturday I got a call from Mike about a powertap for sale at the swap meet, and I'd been pondering for some time about buying one so since the price was right, I took it home.  What's this mean?  Well, I'm not totally sure but watch out world, I'm joining the ranks of overdataanalyzing cyclists!  It will help me to follow coach's workouts more closely and it'll allow him to track what I'm doing more accurately... power numbers don't lie like heart rate!

Looking from the road (because of course only villans would be getting tours) the course is going to be pretty awesome!  Some of the features (visible from the road of course) include a 0.2km-ish paved start, a couple of super steep ride/run ups, barriers immediately on the other side of 5 foot dirt speed hump, 30 yards of 8" deep fine sand, a soft steep descent, lots of velcro-like grass in an open field with a few twists, some barely 3m wide trail through the trees with sweet twists, and of course... the green monster!  I'd lost a good deal of excitement about this weekend after learning that OVCX 3's were not receiving call-ups (I guess we'll see what happens on Saturday) but seeing the course (from the... umm... road) I'm looking forward to it again!!

If you're in Louisville this weekend, come down to Bandman Park on River Road and see what cyclocross racing is all about!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

UCI3 - Java Johnny's and Harbin Park

Java Johnny's in Sunset Park was hands down my favorite course from the weekend, possibly for the season!  The course had flat straight aways to lay down power, but it had some tight twisty stuff too and it all flowed together so that brakes almost weren't necessary!
Going for hole-shot #2 of the weekend.
This was the third time this year racing two days in a row, so I knew what to expect including a stiff lower back after Friday's roughish climby course.  BUT, I liked what I saw/felt during the pre-ride and got a good warm up in.  On the line I knew a hole-shot was possible and that top 5 may mean the race so I went hard but not all in and took the first turn for the third race in a row.  I let Proppe go much earlier, but found a rhythm and stayed steady for 45 minutes or racing to finish 11/75+!  I set a new heart rate max at either 197 or 199 (different uploads show both) and averaged 184 bpm.  I wasn't ecstatic, as I wanted a top 10, but was definitely happy with the improvement from day one!

Into the sand in 4th.
Christine and I met her friend for dinner at a place called Teller's of Hyde Park and I'm no food critic, but damn it was good!  The Magic Hat #9 went down quite nicely as well...

And then comes day three at Harbin Park.  I'd never raced three days in a row before... hell, I'd never ridden hard three days in a row before!

In "no man's land" late in the race.

The course was pretty cool, but definitely fit the "roadie course" category.  Lots of power sections and very few places where mountain bike skills could buy much time.  It was hot and again we were told at the start line that feeds were not allowed...even though it was well over 68 degrees and 5 laps were imminent.  I was still after a top ten, but my body ached and I knew the power sections were going to hurt even more.  But ... the goal remained so after it I went.  Just before heading to the start line I decided just a little less tire pressure in the front would be good for the dusty corners and for soaking up bumps to take it easy on the body.  As I put my elbows on the bars on the start line I noticed that tire was setting awfully low... SHIT!  No one had a pump nearby and it was too late to slip to the truck, so I tried to relax knowing I had a bike in the pit and hoped it wasn't as bad as it looked.

After two hole-shots, I wanted the third one bad, knowing with a low tire it may be the last good note of the race.  So, I put my head down and took it!  Then, three turns later I dabbed out to avoid hitting the deck and lost a few places.  I held steady through the lap line and the uphill sandpit but decided to go ahead and take the other bike even though it was on the opposite side of the pit area.  Enter pit - 6th place, exit pit - 28th place = SUCK!  From there I tried to gain places but mentally never recovered.  It was pretty much a "hold your position" race to the end where I finished 26th of 77, missing my top 10 opportunity.  Ah well, two solid results racing with some fast guys; a lot that normally race elites!

A few thank you's are in order:

  • Uncle Jamie for a place to stay
  • Nicole B, for airing up my tire in the pit and having the bike ready a half lap later
  • Gavin for helping with the second bike swap
  • Christine for the cheering/support/good company
  • The Farmers for being good people (and BWE for great photos!)
  • And all the promoters, volunteers, and attendees for an outstanding weekend of cyclocross!!!
Post Harbin Park, guess I coulda zipped up....
Side note, because I'm one of only five guys to finish all five races so far, I moved up to first in the Cat3 OVCX Series!  Also, I pulled my points down under 400 for the first time!  Here

Friday, October 8, 2010

UCI3 - Day 1 - Devou Park

I'm gonna keep this one short...
Sunrise over the KY River
The course last year was muddy and barely rideable, but it was said to be a good course.  This year, it was on the other side of the road and NOT on the golf course after last year's race destroyed the golf course.  It was climby, which is good, but it lacked flow and there were lots of holes.  There was only one turn that I could rail without at least feathering my brakes most laps.  I guess with the space allotted, they did a descent job with the layout.
Coach, Messer, and Lucas on the Elite Masters Start Line
Warm up went fine, but I decided to race my pit bike because the brakes are quiet (compared to the carbon wheels) and the position is slightly more upright.  I thought this would be more comfortable on the downhills, but I'm not sure it helped.  Got my call-up, nerves were good, and I took the holeshot.  Not really the plan, but it just seems to happen.  John Proppe and I pulled away from the field and then there was a pileup of some sort behind us in the first dirt climb that opened our gap even further.  I didn't feel too bad, but knew I couldn't hold John's pace for long so when he came out of a turn with a gap I was fine to let him go.  Two other guys bridged up and I was fine sitting on them for a while feeling pretty good in fourth until they slowly pulled away.  Then the mind started working -- BAD!  I thought, "If I can just keep the rubber side down, top ten should be piece of cake!"  A few turns later, I came in hot and guess what... on the ground, chain off and loosing places.  Not sure exactly how far I dropped, but from there I bled some more places not handling the bike well and mentally not on top of it.  The last two laps I picked it back up and pulled a couple places back to finish 16th in my first 2/3 race.  Hoping for better tomorrow, but I managed to beat a couple of the guys that got me at Kings and TdL.
Trebon and JPow riding the "Run Up"
Great race for John who went on to take second and Travis Mullen who rode from the back to take the win!  I stuck around a lot longer than I planned and cheered for Coach, the women, and the start of the men's race then had dinner and a drink with my uncle and am staying at his place in NKY for the wknd.
Kersting on the Run Up

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tour de Louisville

This past wknd was OVCX #2 just 20 minutes from home in SE Jefferson county. The course was climby and tight, twisty, turny just like last year. Honestly, it should be a favorite course with the climbing, but I can't seem to convince myself to love it!

Looking across the hillside
The cat 4 race started just moments after I arrived, so I scouted from outside the tape and the first thing I saw was the middle Haley roll a tire at a tiny log crossing/turn, which ultimately got in my head. The rest of the course was full of off camber and tough turns, but was straightforward. As soon as the 4's finished I slipped in a preride with my normal 29-30 psi up front and 31-32psi in the rear tubies. Both times through I felt comfortable getting over the log, but was almost casing the backwheel and didn't want to chance a shattered carbon rim. So, the pressure went up by a couple/few psi front and rear and all was ready. I talked with coach a little and he reminded me to save matches and worry only about taking the first turn in top five, not necessarily the hole-shot and to turn a bigger gear in the power sections. The day before my legs were heavy and didn't seem to want to open up, so goals weren't that lofty for the day, just try to stay in the top ten for a chance at call ups for the UCI3 based on OVCX series standings.

There was extra motivation to race well coming from outside the tape with my biggest fan section at a race to date! Mom, Dad, Pop, and Christine were all out to watch and cheer in the first real cool autumn day, so a big thanks to all of them! There were also more voices than I could count yelling my name all around the course, and let me tell ya, it helps ya get up that hill each time and up from any spills!

So back to the action.... warm up went well enough and headed to he start area with the first call. Like normal, second row call up (even though I was sitting eigth in the series) but found an open hole on the front and squeezed in. Then we waited...for what seemed like 15 minutes for the kids race to wrap up and finally we got the 30 seconds call. I was on edge, but comfortable and the whistle went off! I put in two good pedal strokes and took it easy just as planned, only coming out of the first turn I had a couple seconds. So I just held steady expecting the field to roll up on my wheel and then we'd race. Goig alone for 45 minutes seemed unrealistic... Then I came out of the barriers with closer to 10 seconds! Not what I expected, but whatever. I put it in sustainable TT mode and continued on. The log was a piece of cake at race speeds and I came through the start/finish area with several seconds to a couple guys also breaking off the front of the field. This was good, if a couple caught me we could work together to put the hammer down. Then, making a turn to the steep climb I made a stupid mistake and tried to pedal through, washing out and leaving me running to the top! And of course, Ryan Kiel passed me here and never looked back...isn't he supposed to wait on me?!

Even after a screw up like that, I was able to stay relaxed and chase, the gap was steady if not shrinkig through the lap line (which was Ryan's fastest lap of the day). I wouldn't go as far as to say that I was having the best legs of the year, but I felt good...until I tried to get a little too much out of an off camber and wadded it up under the tape! Gavin and Spencer were there helping get things sorted out including putting the chain back on. I'm guessing 25-30 seconds off the bike and second to eigth, ugh!

Once again, it wa time to relax and chase. The rest of the Race was spent picking off one hare at a time except for one partial wash out and the last lap where I pushed it pretty hard to lay down the fastest cat 3 lap of the day. Finished in fifth and am happy.

The biggest accomplishment of he day was climbing into top five in the OVCX series so that I can get a first row call up at UCI3 this coming weekend after waiting later than I should to pre register.
One place I was able to gain time every lap!

Another thanks to @tallgirlky and Christine for the photos from the day (to be posted later when I'm not on my phone)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Field test, Shawnee, and power

I'm hooked... not just on fitness and racing bikes and the people and atmosphere that comes with, but the numbers behind it all too!  Saturday was my first power test and while I'm still learning what the numbers mean and how to improve certain aspects, the science behind training with power is exciting!  It let's my engineering mind geek out over something that I already love!

Sunday I raced Shawnee, again using a powertap.  I chose to race the pit bike since it already had a tire matching the powertap wheel and just to get more comfortable on it.  The course was very flat with only a couple of short six feet climbs and very few technical challenges.  For the day after threshold power testing, the legs were good, I just couldn't seem to remount the bike at speed thanks to a differently shaped road saddle catching my leg leaving me dangling on the back of the bike.  Pretty ugly a few times and that's being nice!  Finished 5th of 6 on the day, which wasn't what I was after, but I got some good numbers and am especially happy with the holeshot power data... let's just say I hit numbers that people 20-25lbs heavier than me would be happy seeing!  Now I just have to learn to distribute my matches throughout the race instead of striking so many at the start as well as learn to produce power at lower cadenence (these aren't 100 mile mt bike races anymore!)

Next up - Tour de Louisville...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rebuttal Friday

This was has been an entertaining blog recently...

It started out as entertainment and harmless, but the author took it too far earlier in the week with some slander that would only potentially be funny at the bar with the best of friends.  Since then, public appology was given to Katsu and anyone offended.  While you one can't take back what has already been said, hopefully it'll be worth reading again...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

King's CX Weekend

Day 1

Mike F and I made arrangements to race both days on the retired golf course near King's Island just northeast of Cincnatti starting with a 7:30am departure on Saturday.  It turns out, Mike isn't the most reliable navigator and we pulled into a golf course neighborhood about an hour before his start.  Sure it was a golf cousrse with King's in the name, but not the one we were after!  After backtracking about ten minutes we were set.  Mike got checked in, I got his wheels swapped and pit wheels delivered while he made a few adjustments and warmed up. 

I didn't get to really check out the course before he raced, but could tell it was hard, dry and fast.  Off the line, Mike had a good start going from third row to fifth or sixth only to get caught up behind a guy in the sand and the same guy again going over the bars on some off camber in the first lap.  He recovered well, but 'caught behind crashes' was the recurring theme of the day.  He held on for eigth in an open field of about fifteen.

My race didn't start until 1:15, so there was still time to eat, kit up and warm up.  Everything felt right - relaxed, rested, and ready to roll.  I've not been very good at pre-registering early, so my call-up was supposed to be third row, but I found a slot in the second.  On the line, I was barely nervous, heart rate settled close to a hundred and all 20 Open, 20 35+ers, and 15 45+ers waited for the whistle.  Starting has always been better for me than the middle laps, so I quickly found myself in the front 5, even leading for part of the first lap.  I felt really good, especially compared to the previous weekend racing sick! 

A couple laps in, one guy had gone off the front of our group, but for the most part four of us were within 10 seconds or so of each other.  There were parts of the course where I'd pull through and parts where I felt like I was dying and barely hanging on.  Strangely those areas weren't all technical or all power.  With two to go, our group had spread out a little and had a comfortable gap on the next guy, Chauncey I think?  The guy in the lead had faded a bit, but held on for the win.  I rolled in for 4th in the Open with one of the Masters guys just in front of me as well.  Very content after a season of ultra endurance and no intensity!!

My uncle set us up with a place to stay, then his parking pass for Saturday night and Octoberfest in Zinzinatti.  Of course a couple good beers needed to be tasted and some German food devoured.  Not the best prerace food, but life has to be a balance! 

Sunday morning was more relaxed - sleeping in until 8 and still getting to the venue an hour and 20 minutes before the first race is pretty damned sweet!  The fields were about double the size from Saturday and Mike rolled in for 9th in the Cat 4 open behind a handful of really fast kids, yes 7 of the top 8 were 18 or under!!  Crazy!! 

My callup was supposed to be third row, but again I was able to squeeze up to the front row and planned to take the holeshot.  Starting is usually a forte and my race strategy basically involved killing myself for a couple laps, hoping that someone came with me and then hang on as long as possible - the theory was that the mind stops listening to the pain as much when you make the front group!  My bike had other plans - the whistle blew and my chain popped off the inside!  Somehow I didn't panic, I just pushed the shifter to big ring, turned the chain on and rode off in the middle of the pack - probably around 20th.  By the time we hit the lap line I'd sprinted back to top 5, but left the chain in big ring for fear of another drop.  I held on for a couple laps, but then the 46/26 gear started to take it's toll.  I wasn't able to spin up any of the punchy climbs and could feel the legs getting heavy as I faded back to 6th with 7 and 8 hot on my wheel.  Sam D and another guy came by and I tried to hop on, but was fading hard.  Finally I said hell with it and went back to the small ring.  By the last lap my legs were coming back to life and I pulled back within 7 seconds of Sam, though that may have been in response to Beckman riding strong right behind me.  Rolled in for 8th of about 40 and not as happy about it as Saturday, but with the chain issue I'll take it!

The rest of the afternoon was spent cheering and catching up with Columbus guys.  All in all, great weekend!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pre King's Report

Apparently having a good start to the season and making it through a field separating crash makes me a sandbagger... funny!

Sick before race day

Last weekend was the start of CX 2010 and as of Friday morning it looked to be delayed for me.  A combination of allergies, dusty hot laps on Wednesday, and maybe a sinus infection left me in bed or on the couch most of Friday and planning to skip Saturday's AppleCross.  But, after getting a few meds in the system and some sleep I packed up and went to "spectate" (with my bike to check out the course).

Around noon, I was able to breath normally and decided what the hell?  I already paid, maybe a race will help clear out the system and while I never felt good, it was fun and I was able to hold onto 5th of 11 in my first Cat 3 race.

Starting line - Saturday

Sunday I felt better but still not well and was able to sprint for fourth only to hit a hole, turn the bars in the stem and take fifth that then changed to fourth after USAC relegated Nick's sprint because his number was pinned on the wrong side.  Silly if you ask me after the conversation they had at the start, but whatever.  It goes down as a fifth in my book.  Other than a dropped chain three times on the run up in the last lap, it was a solid race.

Holeshot on Sunday - Prize = 6 pack of RooibieRed Tea

Riding out of the pond on Sunday

Chasing Nick B on Sunday.

Bob's Red Mill with the help of Rogue Racing put on a great pair of races at a great new venue!  Hopefully they'll be added to the OVCX series next year!

By Wednesday things were looking up and plans were in place for King's CX Weekend just north of Cinci... new post coming soon!