Monday, December 19, 2011

USGP Derby City Cup

This past weekend (SORRY, THIS WAS HALF WRITTEN AND NOT POSTED FOR A WHILE) was the USGP Derby City Cup and guess what that means? This one weekend each year, we Louisvillians don't have to drive to the big race - the big race comes to us! That's right, just 4.2 miles from my front door! And guess what else?! The course is in the same park as the 2013 World Championships!

To get right to the results part - did I do it? Was I able to beat the Race Predictor? Yes and no.

We begin with the Yes on Saturday. On the start line, excuse me, from well behind the start line in seventh row I was mentally and psychologically not interested in racing. My body felt fine with an easy-ish week after Cincy3. I lined up on the left after watching the Elite Men start at Java Johnny's the previous weekend and from the gun all that mental and psychological bullshit went out the window. Instinct took over and I stomped on the pedals picking my way through holes along the left edge to the front. Within 200m I found myself seventh wheel leaving the pavement and quickly moved up to the front group before the flyover a third of the way into lap one.
Rachel's Drop © Tom Moran
By the end of the lap it was a two man battle between Thatcher Hurt and me. We worked well together to extend our gap to Josh Prater over the next lap and likely would have played nice until the final half a lap had I not stopped thinking and overlapped his wheel in an uphill sandpit. That opened a small gap, but enough for him to pull away and end my hopes at the top step for the day. In all honesty, he was stronger in the straights while we rode together, so I'm not sure the results were changed any by the wheel overlap.

With one lap to go there was a sizeable gap up to Thatcher and what seemed to be a manageable gap back to Josh so I time trialed, that's what cross is right? Then with half a lap to go, Josh was catching me - but that was ok, I knew I just had to come onto the pavement with him and odds were in my favor. Only he wasn't alone - a group of two caught him at the same time and they pulled up beside me. I looked over, realized it wasn't Josh and thought, "Oh shit!" The game plan suddenly had a wrench thrown into it and I struggled to hang onto the group. Eventually I fought my way into the middle of the group, only to have one of the guys make a questionable pass with less than ten turns to the finish.

I knew the last three turns and final run up well and knew I had to make my move on foot. I made one pass over the hump before the run up and coasted up against the back of Josh and another guy as we dismounted. I dug in and instead of remounting at the top of the hill, I kept running - right past both of them and remounted into the penultimate turn where there was only one decent line. From there I just had to keep it upright through the last off camber turn and let it rip for 180m. And that's just what I did for my second consecutive 2nd place finish on a Saturday in a pretty stacked 2/3 race!
Saturday's sprint for Second © Tom Moran
The predictor said 12th so I'm +10 places....until Sunday, when it said 13th.


Sunday, the predictor was off by one place, and not in the direction I'd hoped. I got a decent start, and even managed to get within a few seconds of the front of the race (Jason Monk). At some point there was a small mishap in the rideable sand causing a dismount and (not sure if it was before or after) some issues with my rear derailleur. It got to the point that I couldn't stand out of corners not knowing if I was going to drop a couple gears or not, so I went in and had a clean pit exchange. As I exited, I began to wonder how I raced my B bike last year and loved it. It's too long and a good bit heavier than my race bike, and honestly I was thinking too much. Implossion. Mentally, physically, the whole deal. I slid from top five to almost 25 in a lap!

I got back on my A bike with just over a lap to go, refocussed and let it rip. I managed to take back a few places from friends, including Ian McShane (I could sense the grin on his face when he passed me earlier) and kept charging forward finishing 14th. It wasn't what I wanted for the day, but to finish back to back weekends and five races with four top fives, it was a dream weekend!

We capped the weekend off with a bottle of SRAM Force, as Myerson called it....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

USGP 2/3 Predictor by

My goal for the weekend - beat the twelfth and thirteenth place results predicts...

I pasted it into a spreadsheet here.

42 races and counting

I'm not sure why I even added it up, but I'm at 42 races and counting for 2011...

20 Road Races/Criteriums
5 Louisville Short Track
2 Cross Country Mtb
1 DINO Short Track Mtb
14 Cyclocross

With two more CX races this weekend, one more next weekend, maybe three more the next, and on and on and on...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Even before the cross season began, the decision to race 2/3's or the UCI race at Cincy3 and USGP has been discussed, considered, and reconsidered. Finally the week before I decided to go with the 2/3's at Cincy3 after a solid, but not quite "ready" performance at Storm the Greens. The main reasons - 1) There are a guys that routinely beat me registered for these races, 2) Racing for a top ten sounded a lot more fun than racing not to get lapped and 3) this is the best measuring stick to last year I could ask for.

So how'd it go? I'd say pretty darn well! I’ll get to the racing in a moment. First, the team/weekend as a whole - was awesome! I was able to get to know teammates Meghan and Dave and met Stephen for the first time and got to experience a full on PRO set up. We made camp each day right alongside the other top level teams and had a top-notch mechanic (Dave) tuning our bikes and taking care of us in the pits! Thanks to all of our sponsors and supporters for making this possible, including Bob's Red Mill, Stevens Bikes/Sinclair Imports, Carroll Composites, Panache Cyclewear, Mad Alchemy, PrincetonTec, SquirtLube, Challenge Tires and Feedback Sports

Now the racing…

Friday we raced the Darkhorse Stampede at Devou Park....
I had car issues on the way up and didn't warm up or preview the course at all; I simply knew the course was muddy. For obvious reasons, I chose not to try for the holeshot and went into the first turn in the top ten. Guys slid out all over the place, but soon there was order among chaos with about six of us strung out on the front including Jason Monk (Main Street Velo) and Chris Mayhew (JBV Coaching), two I knew to watch. I followed wheels, hoping they knew where the course turned next and eventually we finished a lap. There was plenty of mud and climbing and all the suffering I wanted.

 Mentally I never checked into this race and before I knew it I'd slid to seventh, made two PRO bike exchanges thanks to Dave and Larry in the pits, and we only had one lap to go. I was used to racing an hour and the shortened 45 minute race was certainly different. I dug in and started fishing for the next guy up the road eventually catching Chris with a half lap remaining and putting in one last attack to overtake him. The rest of the lap I spent holding off a late charger from behind only to miscalculate the finish and get beat in an uncontested sprint. He was in the U19 race though, so I finished 4th with Monk on the top step.

Saturday was Java Johny's in Sunset Park, Middletown, OH....
This was, hands down, my favorite course of the 2010 UCI3 weekend. There's not much elevation change, but the small pitches included are steep and punchy. It flows and you can gain time in every turn if you're alert and it generally fits my power profile with very few diesel sections and plenty of short duration, high power sections.
Opening a gap in lap one (Photo by VeloVivid Photography)
Preparation for the race was like night and day compared to the previous day with plenty of course recon, warm-up, mental readiness, and bike prep by Dave, our team mechanic (This gave a PRO feeling to the day). I started in the first row and went to the front immediately, building a ten second gap to the field in the first half lap. About 1.5 laps in, Travis Mullen joined me and we began to work together, even though he complained of marathon training eating into his bike time. He held steady until Etheridge (Raleigh), Monk, and Hurt joined us when Mullen faded a bit. Etheridge slipped off the front and built a minute gap – alone – in his second race of the day!

Holding an early gap (Photo by VeloVivid Photography)
Around the midpoint of the race, I slid out in the only muddy turn on the course and got gapped off second and third. As I came by the Papa John’s camp, I heard Mandrola encouraging me to, “just give it 1500 watts one time and you’re back in it!” With two to go I mentally dug deep and clawed back onto the back just in time to hear Gatch say over the loudspeaker, “If Monk has anything right now, he’ll attack the group and drop Smith again.” I cursed him under my breath until he began to give better advice like, “…but if Smith has anything, or even if he doesn’t, he’ll fake it and go to the front to set his own pace and recover a bit.” So I listened, and it worked. Somehow, though, I got dropped again and as Monk and Hurt got the bell I was six seconds down again and on the limit.

I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a game of cat and mouse. Whether it was or not I’ll never know, but it gave me enough motivation to push forward and latch onto the back with half a lap to go. The pace was killing me; I wanted to move to the front but didn’t have enough to make a pass so I just held on. Again, I heard Gatch over the loudspeaker, “…this is going to be a battle to the end for second. So far today we’ve not seen anyone come from behind after the barriers, it’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out!” Thanks John, you were right! I didn’t hear anything else over the loudspeaker the rest of the race, but I knew where I would make my move.

We crossed the road for the final time and I sat at the back, gas tank empty, waiting. In the last straight before the sweeper leading to barriers Monk and Hurt left the window open on the right and I jumped out with all I had. My breakfast almost got left in that sweeper as I managed to recover and then push the pace through the barriers forcing a mistake from Hurt. I landed on the pavement with Monk inches from my wheel and adrenaline took over – I gave all that was left and some and managed to hold him off!!! 20 more meters and I’d have been a step lower on the podium – 2nd place after fighting back not once but twice was dubbed the “most heroic race of the day!”
Leaving it all on the line (Photo by Jen Farmer)
Second step with Etheridge and Monk (Photo by Jen Farmer) 
Sunday was one of the best-known courses in the area at Harbin Park, also just north of Cincinnati in Fairfield, OH...
This course has it all – uphill sand, downhill sand, power sections, mud sections, steep downhill sections, pavement, and uphill barriers. Even in 2010 when it was dusty dry it was the heaviest course of the weekend and this year was even more so. Nearly the entire course was either slippery or soft and power sucking.

After two hard race days and digging deeper the previous day than I ever thought possible, my legs were dead. After a preview lap with a couple second looks I opted for an easy trainer warm-up to get the blood flowing. At the start line I learned I’d forgotten to sign in (oops) and had to give my John Hancock before taking another first row start. As we waited for the whistle I had good feelings from the mental battles won the previous day, but not so good feelings about how my legs/body would fare on the third day of racing.

The whistle blew, I charged ahead and was the first off the pavement. I quickly opened a gap on the field and raced my own race without worry of someone crashing around me. The gap grew to around 15 seconds until Travis Mullen (Shamrock Cycles) joined me at the front once again. Soon Matthew Means (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes), Monk, and Etheridge joined us; Mullen may have even gotten away by himself for a bit. While riding in a group of four, I managed to find a root in the mud hole near the start line and ended up flailing to get out from under my bike.
Navigating the sand (Photo by Marcia Seiler) 
A gap opened and from there my body had little more to give. I sat fifth and even with the knowledge of the previous day’s chase in my mind the gap wouldn’t shrink. Late in the race Mullen had a mechanical and had to DNF and Zeb King (Appalachian State University) powered by me leaving me in fifth with a lap to go. I managed to keep the gap to King in check, while he seemed to be gaining on second and third up the road. There was a ten second gap when we entered the last off camber technical section and only about two seconds when we came out. At that point I knew I had to wait to jump with a few hundred meters of heavy uphill remaining to the finish and with about 150 to go I emptied the tank and grabbed 4th on the day. We always want more, but to be honest – if you’d offered me 4-2-4 finishes on Friday, I’d have taken it! It was an awesome weekend with easily three of my best five races lifetime!
Video from Harbin Park, I believe by one of the Roberson brothers.

Thanks to Mitch Graham and all of the crew working to make the Cincy3 CX Festival not only possible, but an outstanding weekend! We racers (and dabblers in promotion) appreciate your efforts and look forward to coming back next year!!!

Next up is USGP just a few miles from home – hopefully the good form will continue and I can put together another solid weekend!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Missing Iceman Cometh

Three years ago this weekend, my friend, Mar(io/k) and I headed north for our first ever Iceman Cometh Challenge. We'd gotten in via Kentucky Point Series standings at the last minute and he raced Sport, I Beginner. I don't remember a lot of the details from the race except the number of people! There were somewhere around TWO THOUSAND racers!! My biggest to date might have had a hundred. At the end, I got 5th in my Beginner age group and from there set a goal to finish top ten the next two years in Sport and Expert categories. It was a whimsical goal, but that's the way things go...

Oh, I forgot to mention - we slept in a tent and this is what our bikes looked like the next morning.

Two years ago we opted for a cabin and had more company, Mo, who raced the Pro Women's race and took a top 10! (She's a bad ass) and Mark J who won his Beginner age group. I managed to accomplish my first goal with a 7th in Sport age group and Mark turned in a solid time as well, though the time gap between us flipped!
Our cabin on the edge of the course.

Last year we registered early and by the time we left I wasn't looking forward to it - the race was messing with my CX season, and one of my favorite venues, Gun Club! This time it was Mario, Kiersta, Mark J, and Glypie in the caravan. Finally my two year goal had been accomplished - 4th in open age group (just as good as Expert)! Everyone had a solid race (except Glypie, who was our driver) and plenty of fun.

I decided to pass on the 2011 race shortly after getting home last year and now that it's only two days away, I'm sad not to be going. I don't regret the decision, as Cincy3 is going to be a blast - I might even get to race for a W for a change! Either way, letting a tradition pass is sad. Some day I'll get back up to Traverse City to accomplish at least one last goal - a Sub 2 Hour race time!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Long overdue (Photo Edition)

Brookside Park: "The Stairs" (Photo by Chris Jones)
Brookside Park: Start/Finish area (Photo by Chris Jones)
OVCX Athletes of the Week (Photo by Doug Dobrozsi)
Gearfest log hop (Photo by Kiersta Tucker)
USGP Ft Collins: Prerace Sunday (Photo by VeloVivid Photography)
USGP Ft Collins: The flyover (Photo by VeloVivid Photography)

USGP Ft Collins: Barrier Run-up (Photo by VeloVivid Photography)
"All Smiles" at BloomingCross (Photo by Tim Brown)
Storm the Greens: At the Whistle (Photo by Doug Burton)
Storm the Greens: BRM 1-2-3 (Photo by Marcia Seiler)
Storm the Greens: Steps (Photo by Doug Burton)
Storm the Greens: The Mud Pit (Photo by Paula Smith)
Storm the Greens: My Cheering Section (Photo by VeloVivid Photography)

Long overdue...

OK, OK... I'm way behind and writing feels like a job lately so I'll really keep it short this time.

UPDATE: Photo post related to this one is HERE.

Dry and fast Saturday - Slow and muddy Sunday... that pretty much sums up the second weekend of OVCX racing at Brookside and St Mary's. I finished 14th and 16th after fighting the mud attempting to drive the bike on Sunday. I was let down after winning these two races in Cat 3 last year, but not upset over top 50% results.

Flat and power on Saturday - Hilly and power on Sunday for Gearfest and John Bryan. Finished 14th and 18th with two crashes over the bars in the first half lap at John Bryan. Results were falling backward instead of moving forward and I wasn't happy about it that but even with crashes that lead to my lower back going "out" I managed to hang onto a payout spot.

The next weekend was Gun Club - one of my favorite courses (everyone else's too). Though, when I tweeted that I'd pre-reg'd I got a message asking why I wasn't heading to the USGP in Ft Collins and offering space for me and a bike. After almost saying, "No thanks", calling myself an idiot, and talking it over with a few people, I was about to sit in a car for 19 hours each way for two one hour races. In the end, I didn't even get in two full hours as I got pulled each day but it was a great experience that helped get that "shock and awe" out of the way with no expectations. The altitude, while only a bit over 5200' was enough to hurt. Riding in the group I found myself in was comfortable until we started uphill and my body had nothing to give. My heart rate averaged just over 160 both days of racing when at home I routinely see averages over 180 for full hour races. The short summary of the weekend is a huge THANK YOU to Dion Easthouse (most of you know him from VeloVivid Photography) for the ride and encouragement! I'm not sure who coined the phrase, but he is certainly "good people!"

Next up was Bloomingcross, a moderately flat but twisty, dry, fast course. I tried a new pre-race approach starting Friday before that included alcohol, wedding food (no pizza), and an overall relaxed/roll with it mentality (per Dion's advice in FtC). I didn't take a trainer to the venue and only rode a few laps for warm up. I went to the start line calm and relaxed, yet smiling and ready to make someone's legs hurt for at least a couple laps. The race started, I hit the front for my fifth holeshot in six races (I've got to get them to give a cash award for this!) and kept on rolling without looking back. After a lap I was alone with only my teammate, Rob Kendall staying close. A lap later I was still there with Rob and Mitchell and no one close. I eventually fell off their pace and settled for 8th out of 35 for my best OVCX Elite finish to date - more than happy!

Finally a "weekend off" that included a little over six hours saddle time between the CX and road bikes to keep some endurance in the body. And I also had to spend a bit of time searching for a sense of urgency to study for the PE exam that Friday. The urgency didn't arrive until mid week and it might have been too late - results aren't mailed until December. Mostly I'm just glad the test is over!

And to finally catch up on racing action - this past weekend was Storm the Greens. The name doesn't really apply anymore, as the race moved from the old venue, an old golf course to Eva Bandman, home of Louisville 2013. The new name is a toss up between Storm the Hobos, Storm the Banks, and Be Sure to Lock Your Car. Anyway, the team race plan in the past had been to utilize my one lap speed to stretch out the field and allow teammates with poor starting positions to move through the field more easily - this week the goal was not to blow myself up. It worked - sort of. I took the holeshot again, but didn't go all in. I did enough to stay on the front, but not much more for the first half lap, then Rob Kendall came through (he's fast - 40 isn't slowing him down any!) and I settled in. Two laps later, I was still there - we were set up with Bob's Red Mill 1-2-3-4! We kept it that way until I just lost contact and a couple guys got through - still I felt like I belonged in the front group for a full 20 minutes! I settled right into the second group at the time and was feeling solid until I botched the second sand pit on two consecutive laps losing two and then five or six places and the all too valuable draft going into two of the straightaways. Somehow I managed to regain composure and lay down my third fastest lap on the final lap while trading blows with John Francisco (one of the trio of phenomenal 17-18 year old talent we have locally - also including Drew Dillman and Luke Haley). I managed to hang on without blowing chunks until my attack point, the last set of steps and hang on for 13th out of 49. Although not the best result, I'd consider it one of my best races to date - without the two missed lines in the sand, I'm pretty sure I'd have been racing for 8th in a much larger field!

OK - I said it'd be short and well, it wasn't. That's about as brief as I can be and that's two whole months of racing! I'll do a follow-up post with mostly photos from this same time period soon and there'll be nothing/little more to read than captions!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Riding with a World Champ

Peeters and Louisvillians on the Worlds starting grid
at Eva Bandman Cyclocross Park (Photo by Tom Moran)
Yesterday I got to ride with a past World Champion, Bart Wellens, and his up and coming teammate, Rob Peeters. It wasn't a clinic, just a light training ride for them, but it was cool to get a little extra insight on sand and run ups and even line up on the start grid with them. Yes, I beat Mr. Wellens off the line, but he's a self proclaimed "terrible starter". When I called out Mr. Peeters (who is actually a few months younger than me) he made sure to beat me but was only able to drop me to his hip.

The Euros had more easy riding to do and a handful of us had our own Wednesday business to attend to - 2x20min LT intervals. Flower, Dr John, Mitch, and a couple others laid down eight fairly steady but hard laps. It's only logical that the best way to get as fast as the guy beating you is to train with him. We'll see how that works in the coming weeks....

The best part of the day was reading THIS article about Wellens, especially the second to last paragraph and his new found respect for the American CX'ers racing in Europe...

"Now I know what it feels like for the US riders to come to Europe - where they don't have all the support and equipment, and you have to travel a lot and you're tired. Now that I know what it's like for them when they come to Europe, I have more respect for the ones that do," he said after the Starcrossed race. -- Laura Weislo,

Monday, September 19, 2011

ZIPP OVCX Athlete of the Week

This evening I got a message from Mitch Graham, the director of the Ohio Valley Cyclocross Series. He had very good news - Rachel Dobrozsi and I are the first ever recipients of the Zipp OVCX Athlete of the Week. This is a great honor, and includes a set of Zipp 303 tubulars to use at the next series race, in our case - Brookside CX Cup.

"What's this "Zipp Sponsored OVCX Athlete of the Week" I just read about?
(NEW)  This is a brand new program we pitched to OVCX title sponsor Zipp that we're pretty stoked about.  After each OVCX race weekend, we will award one male and one female racer the honor of "Zipp OVCX Athlete of the Week."  Each male and female Zipp OVCX Athlete of the Week will be provided one set of Zipp 303 tubulars to race on at the next OVCX event.  For the Zipp OVCX Athletes of the Week we are not necessarily looking at the winners .... but the most-improved, hardest working, loyal and good-spirited OVCX racers - those sorts of qualities.  We'll have consultants from each scene - Louisville, Lexington, Dayton, Indy, and Cincinnati help us make the call each week."

I want to say thank you to Mitch, Zipp Speed Weaponry, anyone on the selection committee in Louisville this weekend, and EVERYONE that's supported this crazy habit of cyclocross over the past couple of years - teams past and present (Bob's Red Mill CX), family/friends (including my coach), mentors, and opponents! I love the racing, the environment, and the family that is OVCX and am proud to be a part of it!

Strava + FishStix = Almost chip timing

I know, I know... the OVCX has chip timing at all the races this year, but here's another cool online feature you should check out, especially if you have a GPS! This is a segment (lap) of the Fisherman's Park race created by either Seiler, Wilson, or Goodwin.

See how it compares to raw chip timing here 

OVCX #1 - Fisherman's Park (aka FishStix)

If you Google searched for results and landed here, you can find them here or here.
If you Google searched for photos and landed here, you can find them here or here or here.

I seem to struggle with keeping race reports short, but I'll make another effort at it here...

First time gluing tubulars
Course set up on Saturday went great thanks to the guys and gals from Bikeclicks/Team Louisville and a handful of other local racers. The course was hard, hilly and dry - meaning my freshly glued Challenge Griffo's were going to get their first real test of the season.

Sunday began with rain and super slippery conditions, leaving me uncertain on tire choice. Since I was escorting the announcer for the day (she's still learning twitter), I was able to set up in a prime location near the start finish and basically relax under the canopy at my car while cheering, heckling, eating and hydrating. My mud tires were in someone else's car, so after the rain stopped, a couple hours before my race, I set out on a pre-ride on Griffos and decided they were the right rubber as long as it didn't rain in the hour before our race.

Taking the hole shot with quite a gap (Photo by Marcia Seiler)

Mitchell, Rob, and I loosely discussed a team plan and after a quick warm up on the trainer it was off to the start grid of 53 racers! I was nervous, not enough to feel sick, but definitely enough to be very focused. I got the second call up and while waiting at the line I could hear Rachel giving shout outs to those to watch. As she started in on the "hot blue kits of Bob's Red Mill" Mitchell's name was thrown out as one to watch, as expected, then she put the pressure on - revealing last year's nickname as the "Hole Shot King". It was OK though, that was part of the plan and the legs didn't disappoint!

Following Mitchell over the barriers, lap two (Photo by Paula Smith)
After the barriers, I settled in, but stayed on the front stringing out the field while making sure I didn't blow up. I could see Mitchell working through quickly and when he came to the front, he upped the pace ever so slightly. I followed and a group of about six opened a small gap. Surprisingly, the nerves were gone, legs felt good, and riding on Mitch's wheel was comfortable for a couple laps. Then, as I knew would happen, I had to let go of that group (which was down to Mitch, Erik Hamilton, and one other guy). BUT - I kept racing, keeping track of where the group in front and behind me were!

Sitting on Nevitt's wheel.

Eventually I was riding in a group with Mike McShane, Chris Nevitt, Lee Hauber, and John Francisco. We were working together fairly well (or at least as best as I knew how in a CX race - improvements to come). Then, with three to go the sun popped out and the temperature rose a few degrees, heart rate went up and I was hurtin! I reached down for a drink along the backside and a few second gap opened, I dug deep to close it, only to dig a pedal trying to pedal through a 180 and let it open right back up. At some point Luke Haley and Andy Messer came by and somewhere else Nevitt, McShane, and Hauber ended up in a pile in front of me. At one to go there was a again a few second gap and I was just able to close it going into the final punchy climb to the finish and wanted so badly to sprint, but my stomach said no way! The puke was coming and I wasn't interested in leaving it all on the line, not literally at least, so I coasted in for tenth of fifty-three.

A little anti climatic, but I learned a lot from the race - I CAN race with these guys, I need to do a better job of conserving fast twitch bursts throughout the race, I'm even more infatuated with my Stevens Team Carbon (thanks Sinclair Imports) and I must continue to get more comfortable riding on someone's wheel! This week, nutrition was dialed in a lot closer with two pieces of pizza, a serving of Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal with peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey, a granola bar, half a banana, a Gatorade, half a mountain dew and all the water I could stand throughout the day.

Finishing the day with cash money and a margarita with good friends!!! (Photo by Rachel Fagerberg)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

2011 Huber's Apple Cross

Huber's Apple Cross: <n> 1. (2nd) Annual cyclocross event hosted by the Bob's Red Mill CX Team on the rolling property of Huber's Family Farm near Starlight, IN.

This year BRMcxLou partnered with Scheller's and the Radiotherapy Centers of Kentuckiana for a full weekend of fun, learning and racing. Ryan Trebon helped kick things off with a clinic at Eva Bandman Cyclocross Park, the home of 2012/2013 Master's World Championships and 2013 World Championship CX races. It turns out that he's not just fast, he's a pretty cool guy too! He managed to teach everyone from beginner masters racers to 11 year old kids something in two short hours with calmness and humor that aren't so apparent on race days.

Off the line
Next up was the Jude Clark Cup on Saturday and luckily all the parts arrived to build my new Stevens Team Carbon with SRAM Force goodies the week before. With one off road ride squeezed in while laying out the course the bike was all set. The bike handled great, looked great, and felt fast! During course layout we'd had steady misty rain, and it looked to be perfect cross weather, but conditions 'improved' and we raced both days in mid 70's and sunshine. As racers arrived and pre-rode the course, we (the course designers) got a few mean looks but after each race those same people sang praises. There were power sections and off camber sections and a double sand pit and flowy turns and really just about everything but mud!

Off camber
So how'd my race go? Not all that different from last year's Cat 3 race except for the part where I lined up a couple grid spots from Ryan Trebon (yes, the guy who took fifth at Cross Vegas last night!) I've always been a fast starter and generally a slow finisher early in the season. The whistle blew and what do ya know - I'm side by side with Ryan through turn one and on his wheel in turn two. He was smooth and was a good wheel to follow until the "run-up" that I knew the fastest way around. Then, without consideration for who I was racing, I passed him on the inside line only to think moments later that it was the dumbest thing I'd ever done in a race. Why on earth would I provoke him?! Anyways, I mixed it up a little longer in my first elite CX race until Ryan dropped a 1200 watt acceleration out of a turn and rode away from the field. From there I went backwards. I was missing either the lasting power or mental toughness to latch on to anyone as they came by and finished eighth of nine. Still lots to learn, but one positive to take away from the day - the speed is there, fitness can be gained.
From the whistle
Half way through lap one with some tall guy on my wheel

Out of the sand

Sunday's Oatmeal Cup course was the reverse of the previous day with a handful of changes and arguably a little harder. Thunderstorms were in the forecast but the clouds only got within site, never dropping rain. At the start line I was still undecided on how to approach the race - go out hard and hang as long as possible or start conservative and try for negative splits. The whistle blew, feet found the pedals and I went to the front - yes, I took the hole shot in my second elite race. I lead to the sand and rode through, only to get passed by Josh on foot. I retook the lead a couple turns later and kept the pace high but certainly wasn't trying to drop anyone. In the straights I routinely suggested that Ryan come on around and take over, but he seemed content with the pace. Riding the run-up was easy on lap one and soon we were back in the start finish area and I was still on the front. By now I knew my race was nearing it's turning point but the only option was to push onward as long as the legs would carry me and finallly Ryan came by just before the sand pit and rode away with Mitchell chasing him down for a bit. I went backwards again and finished tenth of eleven - not the end result I'd like but experience and added fitness were gained.

Noteable points from the weekend:
Riding the run up on my sweet new Stevens
  • My Stevens Team Carbon is awesome - the fit is based on my BG road fit with a few minor tweaks and I don't think I'll change a thing (except lighter bars/stem)
  • Helping with course layout for two days takes a lot of energy from the body, but it's a lot of fun!
  • MUST work on long duration power - the hole shot doesn't mean a whole lot an hour later, but this is old news.
  • It's going to be a great season racing for Bob's Red Mill CX Team. Thanks to Stevens Bikes, Carroll Composites, Challenge Tires, Panache Cyclewear, Princeton Tec Lights, and Mad Alchemy 
Thanks to Marcia Seiler, Patrick Owen, and Paula Smith for the photos.

And just a little more proof that I made it a full lap, this is the "run-up" about 80% of the way through lap one, thanks to Sherri Thompson.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Huber's Apple Cross AND Ryan Trebon Clinic

Wanta learn tricks of the trade from a NATIONAL CHAMPION CX'er? Register for the Ryan Trebon clinic!!
The clinic is part of the Huber's Apple Cross CX weekend and it's ONLY 9 DAYS AWAY!

You don't want to miss the first race of the season either - two days of apple orchard, twisty-turny, CX fun.
Register for both here:

Wanta sneak peak of the course? Maybe Monday.....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

For Sale - Ridley Crosswind SOLD

This frameset has SOLD. Thanks for looking!  If you're by chance looking for a mountain bike, check out this 2009 Santa Cruz Blur XC Carbon for sale!

I've picked up a new team bike this season and need to make space for it. See below for more information.

Frameset - Ridley Crosswind 52 (fits more like a 54/55)
Wheels - Reynolds Solitude
F/d - SRAM Rival
R/d - SRAM Rival
Shifters - SRAM Rival
Crankset - SRAM Rival 38/46
Chain - SRAM PC 1050
Cassette - SRAM 11-26
Brakes - TRP Euro X (adjustable)
Bars/stem - FSA
Seatpost - Easton EA50 or Bontrager
Tires - Michelin Mud 2's (I'll throw in an extra Michelin jet for the rear during dry/fast races) 

The frame is a few years old but in very good condition and the components have one season as my pit bike - meaning they have less than a season of ride time on them)

Asking $1250 $1200, let me know if you'd like to take it for a spin. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Indy Crit ---> A Week Off!

First, a race report - Saturday I drove up and raced the Indy Crit. It was H-O-T. The End.

Just kidding - though temperatures were in the upper 90s with heat index well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit! With a part time race day babysitting gig (practice for ten or fifteen years from now) I didn't get much warm up, but no worries with the heat. I hit the line with 82 other 3/4's and left my extra bottle at the start (bad idea). The start was pretty fast, but moving up wasn't a big deal in the longest headwind stretch and within a few laps I was mixing it up, but not going with any moves just yet. As we crossed the lap line, I reached for my bottle to get a swig of water. No bottle.!.!.! Rachel was watching from the announcer's stand and told me later that my face said it all.... mostly disgusted bad words...

Time to try some of these?

I tried to forget about water and went back to racing, but I got hotter and thirstier and started slipping backward in the field. Next thing I know, I'm not racing, I'm hanging on the back for dear life. I looked at the time and was only 30 minutes into the 45. Somehow I convinced myself to hang on for two more laps, planning to repeat this process to the end. Then, as if it were magic, a bottle of Accelerade or some sports drink appeared in my hand (Thank you AP)!

Then I had ten minutes to get my legs back and move up in the field and hope like hell the two guys off the front got caught - all at the same time. I moved up on the downwind side along the longest stretch each lap from 5 laps to 2 to go. At one to go I found myself on the front, the place I did NOT want to be (Lesson learned) so I pulled off and hopped back in about fifth wheel. With about 300m to go I saw an opening and tried to go on the left while a few guys tried to go right, which meant I took the last turn on the outside. From there I gained one more place, but simply ran out of steam and finished fourth.
Crossing for fourth (Copyright

To have a pretty terrible day in the saddle and finish fourth of 83 starters - I'm ecstatic! I'm excited to soon make the next step into the 1/2/3's and head into cross season - but first, it's time for a scheduled week off the bike. Starting Sunday, I became a terrible golfer instead of a bike racer - for just one week.

With the heat and no races within several hours drive this coming weekend, the break is coming at a good time. Starting next week I'll begin to ramp things up again with plenty of volume, intervals and some late season crits and hope to have a solid start at Fisherman's Park and then build into November!

Bring on the cooler weather, mud and cowbells....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bloomington Crit

I'm gonna keep today's post short and sweet. It's been a while since I've written here, mostly because I haven't done much racing and none to write home about until this weekend. Last Sunday was a long day of base miles, 130 actually with about a hundred solo! Followed it up with a massage on Monday and back to training as usual for the week.

Saturday was Bloomington Crit. This was the home to my second race on the road ever and first criterium last year. It was a horrible experience with crashes and yo-yoing and nerves and I was in over my head. Basically after getting pulled last year I wanted another go at it this year. There were two teams with huge numbers - Scholars Inn Bakehouse and Upland Brewery. Both are local Bloomington teams and I hoped that I could fly under the radar while they were busy focusing on each other.

My legs/body didn't feel quite good enough to really give it a go early in the race, but I was also comfortable in the pack, never sliding more than a third or half way back in the field. I went against my normal M-O and did not attempt to take any primes, partly because I wasn't feeling it in the heat and partially to stay under the radar. With five to go I started moving back up, but just floated in the 5-15 range. I noticed that Upland was setting up a lead out train with Scholars Inn nearby doing the same. I had no idea who Upland was working for, but was pretty sure SIB was setting up for Depasse. With two to go I was about 13 deep and wanted to be further up but knew I could take a few places as we got the bell and the jump on a leadout at the end. Going into turn three, bad position suddenly turned to outstanding position - the guy in second wheel washed out as the turn went off camber and took out 2-10!! The guy on the front took off, I squeezed by and there was one guy between us who basically towed me around for a lap until I jumped with about 200m to go, easily overtaking the guy who'd been in front of the crash for the WIN.

It happened so fast, I can't seem to replay exactly how I got through the crash, but remember consciously not locking up the brakes, just feathering and watching for holes on my left since all the bodies and bikes were moving to the right.

Here's some awesome footage from one of the racer's go-pro camera, mounted on his bars:

I opted out of the 1/2/3 race with a stacked 70+ guy field knowing I'd burned enough matches to make staying anywhere near the front a challenge, especially with the heat. Instead I watched with beer in hand and chatted with my team mate Ryan K and Matt K's lady friend Sarah. Then it was dessert and time to hit the road, but all in all a great day racing bikes!!

Bloomington Criterium Men's 3/4 Podium (Photo Ryan Kiel/Sarah Prendergast)

Careful, that cork will take your eye out! (Photo Ryan Kiel/Sarah Prendergast)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Short track #4

The main reason for this post - Christina G, aka RedHeadedPhotographer took some awesome pictures this week (season) at short track and I wanted you to see them. Some of the best color and lighting I've ever seen. Check out her Facebook albums here and here.
Week 4 - climbing

Week 4 - through the woods

Week 1 - TwinSix Metal Kit

Brockman hot on my wheel week two or three
As for the boring race report part - I started mid pack, moved up to fourth behind Brockman and settled in. The body was good, but I was constantly fighting a mental battle to push through the pain that is lactic acid build up. Mitchell and Anthony left us again and I managed to keep Brockman in check until we got "one to go" instead of three due to Tornado Warning sirens. I caught him at the top of the climb, stayed close down the hill and passed him with a third of a lap to go. We're in a tight battle for third that should be decided by who wins between us next week with double points on the line.