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.