Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sacramento Cyclocross

Race number 2 in the books. Over the last 6 years, i'd usually have about 20 races in by this time, but i'll consider 2 an accomplishment this year and it's all just preparation for next year. Serious rain over the last few days and the half the course was in standing water. The other half of the course was the problem. Super sticky mud a foot deep in spots was impossible to ride through and just a hard to run through. Each step seemed suction-cupped into it. The weather forecast kept a lot of people away so the fields were smaller but still quality guys. There were 14 starters in my Men A 35+ group. There was a tricky off-camber ride-up about 1/4 mile into the lap so I got a good start in 2nd and made a pass into the lead so I had a clean shot and riding it. After that I just settle in and tried to stay on the front as long as I could. That was short lived as we hit the first soggy swamp field crossing. I went left and about 5 guys passed on the obviously-better right side. I was riding good technically but still don't have much fitness to slug it out with the faster guys. I've never raced this heavy and that seemed to make me sink into stuff that other guys were floating through. It started to sprinkle in the closing laps and I was hoping it would rain. Some sections of the course were super sticky and thick and that would of at least helped out. The rest of the course was standing water or really thin soupy mud so it wouldn't have mattered. With about 2 laps to go, Jeremy Ferguson (Cal Giant Strawberries) came by me. I tried to follow briefly but that was pointless. He floated thought stuff that I could barely pedal through. Next to come by me was newly-crowned National Champ Don Myrah. Ya, local races here are a much different deal. Cody Kaiser (Cal Giant Strawberries) was also there but didn't race, probably not wanted to get thrashed before heading over to contest the Xmas week races at Euro Camp. Fun race and a solid effort. I was competative on the sections of the course that were fast but not in the slow thick stuff.

Weekend in Orange County

Headed down to Orange County to visit Kristine's sister and her family. After a 6:30am flight out of Oakland, an aborted "look see" landing at John Wayne Airport, and a diversion to Vegas, we eventually made it back to Orange County. Had fun with the kids, did dinner at Dana Point and stayed for the parade of lights. Quick trip and back late Sunday night.

Thanksgiving in Tehachapi

Kristine and I back up the 2 dogs and headed down to Tehachapi over Thanksgiving to visit my family. Tehachapi is right at the southern most end of the Sierra's and even though it's not necessarily "at altitude" it's still high enough to get some tough riding in. Got in a couple 2-3 hr rides. Had fun seeing the family. Weather was nice till the day we left, when some snow and freezing rain came in. I don't need to ride in that crap. Rode out to Stallion Springs to see the Woodward West facility. It was closed but still got a good look at the facilites and the lodging area. Pretty amazing place with tons of cool jumps, ramps, etc.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First 'Cross race of the year

My 'cross season finally got going today, albeit a couple months late. It was part of the Sacramento CX Series, held at the Lange Twins Winery in Lodi. I've only ridden the cross bike a handfull of times and zero structured work outs like I have typically done getting ready for the season. It rained most of Friday night and then again pretty good last night. I figured the course today would be completely under water but it wasn't too bad. Preriding the course, it was still soupy mud but it was drying out in spots, which made it worse. The Open Men A group went off with my Men A 35+ group 30 seconds later, and a Men A 45+group after that. The start was at the bottom of the finishing climb with a tricky concrete descent into a hard left turn before hitting a tight 180 right turn. It was super narrow entering here so I got as good of a start as my legs would allow and hit the dirt in the top 3. The course wound around a bit with some greasy turns, a 3 step run-up, a greasy ride-up, and a bunch of off-camber muddy grass. straights. I was hoping to leave the "spirals of doom" back in KC but sure enough, they had one here, albeit really huge, on a sloping hill, and all soggy muddy grass. This thing got tough in the closing laps. I prerode this whole thing in the big ring but by the time our race got going, it was just getting super sticky and the ruts were wheel sucking deep. I managed to come through 2nd after lap 1 but that was short lived. I got by most guys just riding the greasy sections better, but would get out horse-powered on other sections. After 3 or 4 laps I was still in the top 5 and only about 100 meters behind those guys, but the legs were heading south and the course turning into glue was brutal. Most of the closing laps were ridden in some small gears just trying to keep some momentum. Kelly Benefits's Alex Candalario won the Open A group and came by me with 2 to go. Nice chops on that guy and he looked pretty smooth. Not sure what place I ended up, top 1/2 of the field at least anyway.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lake Tahoe Weekend

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Out with the old.....

After 13 years and 278K miles, it was finally time to let her go. Couldn't count how many
races this baby got me to. A true testiment that American-made vehicles do last. I kept Mobil 1 in this for most of those years and changed it every 3K miles. The same K&N air filter has been in it for ALL 278K miles. Now my '98 Jeep Grand Cherokee that i've had for several years will be the new daily driver. With life getting rather "complex" this year, getting one vehicle out of the way helps simplify things a bit.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

L'Eroica 2010

Back in the States after our 2-week trip to Italy for the L'Eroica period cyclotouristic rally. Truly a unique event that takes a step back in time to the heroic early days of cycling. Held in and around the Chianti Region in Tuscany, the course is characterized by the Stada Bianche, the famous white gravel roads that traverse the region. The event offers several course options with the longest being 204km, a shorter 135km route, and numerous shorter routes. I ended up doing the entire 135km route plus the 25km's from the finish area back to our villa. Riders go off as early as 5am for what can be an all-day ride. Riding that early has numerous challenges to say the least. With 3,500 total entires hitting the road, driving anynear near the start town or on the course was tricky. The entire course is open to traffic which you could never get away with here in the States, but in Italy, where cycling tends to be on another level of the public's conscious, the two co-exist nicely. I have ridden in Italy for 5 years and never once felt in danger on the roads. The famous Stada Bianche are an amazing historical feature similar to the cobbled sections of any Belgium 1-day classic. The entire route is registered as a historic cycling route with clearly-marked signs. Most of the sections are very smooth and fast, and very fun to ride. Other sections get very steep and loose with numerous sharp rocks. An early morning drizzle left them perfectly tacky and dust-free. This also helped on the many steep climbs later in the day that many had to walk up. Thankfully my mtb/cross background providing the requisite body english to get up them on standard road tires, although I could have used something smaller than the 39x25 I had. The rest/food stations along the route were amazing with plenty of very-Italian treats and wine to fuel up. I did have the luxary of riding a relativaly modern bike and it was amazing just watching all the riders on vintage equipment and clothing. The gears are already turning on putting together a bike for this event next year. At one point I had more than enough stuff in the parts bins to do it but I can't keep everything around forever just in case. I have to build up a new bike to take over next year anyway so it's just as easy to build one up with this event in mind. Pictures coming once we get them all sorted through.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Married, Riding, etc.

Been a while since my last post. Lots of great stuff going on. Lets back up a bit. Obviously had a great pre-honeymoon week in Tahoe that ended with the wedding. The ceremony was spectacular and everything went off without a hitch, except my old IPod Shuffle with the wedding playlist died at the wrong time. Fortunately, I also had the backup playlist on my Blackberry and just plugged that in. A quick trip to the condo for my laptop and we were back in business.
New job is going smoothly. Very big company with complicated systems and processes, but all is working it's way along. As the 2nd largest manufacturer of cookware in the World, chances are you have plenty of our pots and pans in your house.
Weather here in the Bay Area is unbelievable. I'd spent enough time shoveling snow and sweating through sticky summers in pouring rain, bugs, get the point. I'm very-much enjoying this. Few hot days over 100 but it's no big deal since the humidity is so low.
Riding so far is amazing. Actually better than i would have predicted. Road riding is just incredible. Traffic is much more tolerant with cyclist here since there are so many and it's just part of the culture here. I've done most of the local group rides, and there are many to pick from in the immediate area. There are several different group rides just about every day so you can take your pick. Some join up so you can start one and finish with another. The hardest ride in the area is appropriately named "the house of pain" and it lives up to that. I'm pretty fit right but not really race-fit. I somehow managed to stay in the first group but it was a hand-full. That was the fastest average speed over rolling terrain i've done since the days of the old "Simi Ride" in SoCal back in the 90's, when guys like Steve Bauer, Max Sciandri, Harm Jansen, Floyd Landis and just about every other Euro pro was out there.
I have Mt. Diablo right in my backyard so I climb that a few times a week. There are 2 ways up the the 1/2 point then 1 way to the top from there. A few different group rides go up either side to the 1/2 way point then down the other, or all the way up. I can do the entire climb from the "North" side in 60minutes, which is pretty respectable but nothing close to what the top pro's in the area can do. The climb up the "South" side is a bit trickier and I haven't really figured that side out yet I've only done it a couple times, compared to 20 or so times up the North side, and it's always been with a pretty fast group. Of course I was shelled both times about 1/2 way up. Granted, some of these guys have the fastest times up the hill so I can't feel to bad about it. The summit has some amazing view of the San Francisco bay, provided the fog hasn't obscured the view. The fog is pretty creepy here but cool.
Lots of MTB trails in the area and i'm still discovering them. The Mt Diablo area has a big network of trails and that is only a couple miles down the road. Even closer is the Lime Ridge Open Space. I just recently discovered this and its pretty big and has just about everything. I can ride out of my neighborhood and right into the area's large network of bike/walking paths that take my right to it.
Of course we had Lake Tahoe just under 3 hours away and we'll spend plenty of weekends up there. The mtb riding there is just un-describable. Plenty of cool road rides to. I finally did the 72mile lap all the way around the lake. Pretty amazing ride.
Besides Tahoe, we have Napa Valley very close and will be enjoying that very often.
We've already done a bunch of cool things in the area and it's only the beginning :-)

Lots of racing going on in the area but haven't hit anything yet. That will happen when it happens. Cross season is pretty big here and the first race in the area is actually this weekend. i'm not quite on the same schedule this year as in years past so my first cross race will not be until the middle or late October. We have a little Trip to take care of first.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Witness Protection Program

That's what it feels like out here: New home, new job, new everything. Still feel like i'm on vacation, but this time, i just happen to get a job and stay. It was a long haul getting here and a lot of planning but definately well worth it. The cool dry air, ocean breeze, and new riding terrain, with HILLS, is awesome. The road riding is spectacular. The weather has been pretty much the exact same every day for 23 straigh days: Perfect. A few warm days inland but the low humidity and cool ocean breeze makes it. Our wedding week in Tahoe was awesome. Couldn't have asked for anything better. Getting settled in, finding the local group rides, getting the new job dialed in. Moving is a pretty stressfull ordeal. So is getting married and starting new jobs. Now do all 3 inside of 2 weeks. I wouldn't recommend it, but i'm glad we did it all at once and can now focus on moving forward.

Yes, that water is cold in Lake Tahoe

The amount of MTB trails in Tahoe is just mind boggling, and breath taking.

The view from Donner Pass looking back towards Donner Lake and Truckee at the far end

The wedding location William B. Layton Park in Tahoe City

The new home: Downsized a bit....

and the the yard is easier to take care of (right Joe?)

The happy couple

The view from the top of Mt. Diablo. That's my home...3800ft down there. North Bay and Mount Tam in the distance.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Arrivederci Kansas - final TNW's

It's been an amazing 6+ years here, but it's now time to move back to the West Coast. Kristine and I will be hitting the road for San Francisco area June 28th. We have our wedding week in Lake Tahoe right after we bet there and settled into our new place. Tahoe is amazing and should get plenty of good riding, relaxing, recharging, but more importantly, getting wedding and spending time with family. I put racing on hold right after the Bonebender race to focus on getting the house here ready to sell and getting rid of all the unnecessary crap that was starting to own me. Still riding enough to keep some fitness but it hasn't been the priority lately. I'll get into the race scene back there when i'm ready. I just want/need to get some good riding in first and explore the new terrain, figure out the local scene, group rides, etc. It will be nice to have HILLS again and there are plenty around the East Bay area where we will be.
My 2 trucks were loaded onto a car carrier this morning and are already on there way, so I rode into work this morning. Very sticky.
Last night Worlds was definately a hot and sticky one. I hadn't really done much out there all year except for a couple finishes in top 10, but nothing close to top 5. I rolled off the front after the neutral lap and got my first solo laps in quite a while. After a few laps I was joined by Andrew Coe, Tom Price, and and another guy. I was hoping it would be easier with 4 than it had been with just me. WRONG. Those guys were flying and it was all I could just staying on the back. I tried to take my share of the work but i had nothing to contribute and probably disrupted the rotation a time or 2 trying. After a few laps I drifted back to the group to recover a bit. Those guys ended up staying away till the end. I hid out in the group for the last 15 minutes and just tried to follow some smart wheels and get across the line safe, somewhere around 10th maybe.

Thanks to everybody for all the great memories.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday Night Worlds

What a perfect night for a ride. I was out of town this past weekend, but I heard it was miserable weather, and more is moving in today. At least last night was nice. Good turnout. Mercy had the big numbers but Tailwind was right in there with some quality over quantity. Lot of moves but nothing really got organized. Hitting the bell lap, I was in perfect position, about 15th or so. That's about the right place for me. Any further up and I get mixed in with guys that I know will out sprint me anyway. Any further back and guys start sitting up and messing things up. Well, turns out a few guys around 11th to 14th decided to shut it down coming around turn 1 and that was it. Tried to go wide and get around 'em in turn 1 and 2 but it was already over. The first 10 guys got a 20 foot gap going into the downhill and that was it. The tactic of sitting up right in the middle of everbody and having the entire field split around you works great for the guy doing it and their teammates at or off the front, but not really for all the guys that have to get around that person. It happens a lot out there. One minor crash. Some mtb guy went wide in turn 3, got gutter'ed, and eventually ended up in the grass. No major physical injuries reported.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio passed away this past weekend after a long battle with stomach cancer. RIP

Monday, May 10, 2010

Update, Commuting, Giro, Etc

Last 2 weekends have been crazy. It's crunch time on getting the house pulled together and listed. Put in almost 30hrs between Friday afternoon and last night alone. That hurt. I feel worse this morning than I did the Monday after Bonebender. Last weekend was about the same and a few hours every night after work in between. I'm on a racing hiatus until I get the bulk of everything done. Gratefull just to get out and ride for a couple hrs here and there. End result will be well worth it of course. On the commuting side, managed to get in 5 so far this year. Not lighting the world on fire there but getting them in when I can. The Giro is under way. Impressed with Brent Bookwalter's prologue ride. Not impressed with the bunch as a whole in yesterdays road stage. I know it's the first grand tour of the year, but all of these guys have been racing for a while now. The roads in Italy are definately NOT the same as those in the TdF and all of these guys have been here before. Tyler Farrar looked great in the finish line dash, but didn't look good laying in the middle of that traffic island. Good comeback.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bone Bender 3/6 hr MTB race - Smithville Lake, Mo

Hadn't done a marathon-length mtb race in 2 years so I had no idea what to expect. Absolutely perfect weather this year. I missed this race (mudfest) last year, but this time around, we couldn't have asked for better conditions. A bit chilly at the start but that was more than welcome. At least severe dehydration crossed off the list of things to end your day. The LeMans start was crazy. The "front row" was about 50 guys wide, and since I really struggle running, I was mired back in the 20's somewhere coming up from the beach to the bike staging area. I lucked out with the bike placement and got by about 1/2 the guys still running to there bikes. A couple hard efforts on the pavement before the singletrack, and I got into good position. Tige Lamb got the holeshot and was going away with Jeff Winkler, Kent McNeil and myselft in two. the first lap pace was crazy fast. Things eventually sorted out with Kent taking the lead with me following, then Tige, Jeff, and Cameron Chambers. Cameron got by me around the mid-way point and Jeff not long after that. The pace of the first lap was a little harder than I was prepared for, and with the real possibility of doing 4 laps, I needed to chill. 2nd lap felt a bit flat after such a hard first lap effort. Had a couple Gu packs and that seemed to help. Omaha's Stephen Jarrett (Kent's teammate) came by shortly after starting lap 2. Felt better on lap 3 once the Gu packs had kicked in. It was close on time so I wasn't sure if it was going to be 3 or 4 laps so I made sure I drank plenty and used every Gu pack I had with me. Sure enough, came in about 5 minutes under 3hrs. The 4th lap was all about spinning the right gear, standing and stretching, and trying to avoid a complete implosion. Fortunately the course doesn't have too many steep climbs that could really sting you you were on starting to cramp up. I could occasionally see the 4th place guy maybe a minute back so I couldn't exactly put it in cruise mode just yet. Came in around 3hrs 45mins and completely empty. Very cool race, Locke and crew put on an awesome event. Might be my last MTB race in KS or Mo and happy to have made it this one.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekly Update, MTB racing finally.

Crazy week. Awesome weather last weekend, rain waited till Monday for a change. Riding over to the Tuesday Nite Crit, the rolling clouds were quite ominous looking. Zero wind (at the start anyway) so that was a welcome relief after the previous week. This was the first Tuesday Night with the new Cat 1-3 only in the "A" race format. Plenty of opinions flying around about that. My opinion means nothing anyway but the end result was not even debatable: Must faster since the field was smaller and there wasn't all of that unessessary pack movement going on. It lined-out from the gun and the first 20 minutes were the fastest of the year, maybe fastest avg speed i've seen in out there in a while. ZERO wind and NO rain up to this point. That all changed very quickly. The wind really picked up and the echelons started. I was in the wrong place a couple times and eventually lost contact. The rain drops started and I was near the back when a lot of guys started sitting up. Starting heading home west on Prairie Star when the real rain hit. Just about had to swim the last 2 miles home. Wednesday's Hill Ride was a small group since the weather didn't look promising, but the rain split completely around us. Wind was another story. Just riding over was a challenge. The headwind blowing up Renner was insane. I ride down that on the way over and I had to work just to keep moving down it. First climb was OK, Tom Bondurant took off and easily went over the top well in front. I came over with a couple other SKC guys. It all came back together at the lights on Midland. As we turned right on Renner, that crazy headwind I had coming down it was know a very stiff tailwind blowing up it. What a great opportunity to RIP up this thing. I took off at the bottom where it's still flat, and was pretty surprised how fast I got going with the wind at my back. I must have hit 30 before the road tipped up. I think I caught everybody off guard a bit. I was still going pretty quick as Renner crossed over 435, but the legs were on fire for sure.
Trails were still closed all last week so I could only use the gravel path around Lake Lenexa to test the new tire setup, WTB Vulpines. 475 grams is significantly lower than the 700+ Specialized full-knobbys I had on before. Since the trails are closed when they're wet, why have knobs anyway? The Vulpines are not tubeless-ready and it was a challenge to get them inflated. Plenty of Stans required to seal up the beads and the entire sidewalls. They still lose pressure significantly overnite but I can deal with that. The course out at Sundays Lawrence River Trails Race is pancake flat, 100% single track, super twisty and fast. My 40-49 cat 1 field was small but the 30-39 group was a good size. I got the holeshole in my group, then started picked off the guys in the 30-39 group that went before us. Made it up to 4th I thing. We cranked out some quick sub-16min laps initially. I managed 4 good laps but the 5th lap was sorta survival mode. Everything hurt at this point. Tom Price, leading the 50+ cat 1 group, went by started lap 5 and left me. Fitness was good and the tires worked perfectly on that course. Hadn't did a mtb race since last summer (or ridden off-road much this year for that matter) and it felt like it. I was back out there yesterday helping out Chris Locke at his Off-Road Duathon. Perfect weather for the weekend. Let's see if the weather holds out for BoneBender next week.

Monday, March 22, 2010

March Madness!

First Tuesday Night Worlds and Wednesday Night Hill Ride's in the books last week. Some crazy weather this past week for sure. Rode for the first time in shorts-sleeves on Thursday, then the blizzard on Saturday, and back to a beautifull Spring day today. Last Tuesday's Crit #1 was a rather brisk. Small group but definately quality over quantity. Pace started really quick. Everybody seemed to want to get warmed up in a hurry. Group stayed together with nothing getting too organized to go off the front. After a little pause in the speed around the mid-way point, things got heated up. I hadn't done anything to this point. Things started to really wind up with about 15min to go. I got to the front and hovered around the top five for what seemed like an eternity. It was fast (for me anyway) with Shadd Smith, Adam Mills, Andy Coacha, and a couple others periodically taking turns tightening the screws. I got extremely lucky in following the right wheels. All kinds of carnage was happening behind me us , but I was too focused just trying to hang on. A think the group split a few times behind but seemed to come back together. I never had to take one pull at the front, and probably couldn't have if I had to. Right around the time i'd get to 4th or 3rd, 1 or 2 guys would lauch up the side and string it back out. I'd get lucky again, be on the right wheel, and slot back into 4th or 5th, completely wound out. This happened a lot in the closing laps. I managed to hang in till the bell lap. Legs were in no way up for a sprint so I peeled off coming out of turn 4 and got out of the way. Considering I hadn't seen any leg speed like that since the last Tuesday nite crit last year, I was happy with the way it went. New bike worked like a dream. Nice to have 100% dialed shifting for a change. I found myself shift more often. Wednesday was the first of the Wednesday Night Hill rides. Weather warmed up a bit. Small group. First time up Lawrence Hill is always a shock. I don't do this hill on any other training rides, so i'd sorta forgot about it. Pace was good but controlled up the first few steps. This climb gets harder as you get towards the top. Mark Cole was riding well and was really putting it down. I stayed on him over the the last and steepest pitch right over the top and along the flat top section before dropping back to Midland. Legs were definately burning. Groupo compacto at the lights then onto Renner. Matt Dutcher and teammate Joe Houston set the pace at the bottom and up to the creek crossing, I came around Joe and onto Matt's wheel. It was an all-or-nothing deal by this point so I just had to stand up and go. Legs haven't burned like that since I don't know when. Managed to hang on over the top, Matt right behind me, then a good gap back to the rest. Cruised along Renner and the group was back together by the light at 87th. This was pretty much the end of the ride for me since I turn right at Praire Star and the group is turning left. Some last-minute speed work on Renner through the round-a-bouts and that was it. I'm guessing this weeks Tuesday and Wednesday night rides will be bigger groups and harder.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Cross Schedule for 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

U23 'CX Silver Medalist Attempts Suicide

This is just a terrible story from every angle (story taken from Pez Cycling news - EuroTrash Monday by Jered Gruber)

"The bike racing world was rocked by its latest scandal late last week with the announcement that the Szczepaniak brothers both tested positive for EPO following their beautiful performances at U23 Cyclocross Worlds, which led to a brotherly domination of the top two steps of the podium.The positives were an outrageous story, absolutely brazen, revolting even. After an understandably irritable first response on Twitter, US cross icon, Adam Myerson, wondered aloud: who was responsible for the drugs? This kind of thing does not happen in a vacuum, especially with riders so young.Indeed. It went even further though, and it goes to show just how fragile a potential world beater's world actually is: 19-year-old, second-place, Kacper, attempted suicide this weekend. It was thanks to the boy's father that he's still alive.I hate doping and dopers just as much as the rest, but something like this just hurts. I hope for the best for the two brothers and hope they can find their way."

Agreed. These are just kids.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Perry Damn Race - first win of the year :-)

First race of the year is always interesting. No exception here. At least the weather was decent, albet brisk, and not much wind to deal with. The Masters race was short, only 3 5-mile laps. That's about 45 minutes. Only 12 guys in our group and that was several age groups combined. First lap rolled along with nothing really happening. Everything stayed together the first time up the hill, just spun up it. On the 2nd lap, on the lower road after crossing the dam, we came across a couple of the cat 5 guys laying in the road. They had went down on their first lap. They were being attended to already, and we were neutralized through the scene and resumed our race. 2nd trip up the hill, I gave it a little big-ring effort. This caused a split. coming across the dam, we could see that the race was being stopped down on the lower road so we just sat up and the group came back together. We arrived at the wreck site to find that the cat 5 field was stopped as the 2 riders were being attended to. Me and the other 11 guys just walked around the scene in the grass and continued on course. We weren't really sure what was going to happen since this was 2 miles before the finish. We sort of rolled up the last hill, somewhat sprinting it out. I really couldn't do much after sitting that long, legs got too heavy. The decision was made to restart the last lap over for all the Masters - in one big group. We rolled on out and across the dam, trying to keep the age groups straight. It was all together with 1km to go. I tried a little move on the run-in before the last right turn onto the climb. It split things up but all of my group was still on my wheel. I led up the climb for a long way but the legs were too loaded-up and the snap wasn't there. I was happy to just get some of the cobwebs blown out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

L'Eroica 2010

Come join us October 3rd in Tuscany for L'Eroica 2010. Registration is now open. See the official L'Eroica website for details or ask me.

Friday, January 29, 2010

'Cross Worlds in the US in 2013

Very cool, will definately drive over to Louisville to watch this. Masters Worlds in Louisville next year, not so much. I guess I'm not flying to Belgium next year. I was looking forward to seeing Brugge to. The only problem with having Masters Worlds here is that it will be just another ELITE race. Every UCI Elite guy that hasn't raced in a World Cup prior to the race will line up and turn those Masters races into what the Masters races at Nationals are, but much worse. USA Cycling should really look at this a bit more.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Off Season and Winter's return

2 weeks into the off-season and I feel reborn. Have about 4 weeks left before the local road events start up. Had 1 good week of weather, but the cold is back for this weekend. Back to wearing every single piece of clothing I own. Plenty of heated discussions going back and forth about who IS a sandbagger and who ISN'T. I don't work for USA Cycling so I can't fix the current system. Been getting some killer riding in with some great guys. Did a tough 3hr gravel ride on Sunday with the 360 boys Andy Lucas, steve Songer, and Brian Williams, with me and Joe Houston representing for Localcycling/Slimenudgrossun. These are all the same guys I race with it by the way. Started from Brian Willians house in Paola. Wasn't bad at the 10am start but the temp gradually went down and the wind went way up. I had forget the leg warmers so I was bare-leg'in it. The wind-chill was ugly by the end. Good roads with little traffic and lots of small hills. 3 1/4 hours for 50+miles felt good.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New road bike

I don't get new complete bikes very often, so it's cause to celebrate when i do. Picked up a new carbon-framed Sette Primo from PricePoint last week. the carbon frame is well over a pound lighter than the alumimum Kinesis-made frame I was on before. The complete bike comes in over 3 pounds lighter. I typically don't care much about a pound or 2 here and there, but 3 starts to jump out at you. This bike came with a complete Ultegra SL 6600 group. I dig the ice-grey color on those components even though most did not. These shift levers also still have the external shift cables, whereas the newer 6700 levers went for under-the-bartape cable routing. That does LOOK slick, but that just adds a lot of bends to the housing. Considering that most of my 'cross pit bike did not survive it's 3rd (or 4th) season, I was in need of an entire group of components and a wheelset, which is almost an entire build kit. This complete bike was about the same price as a build kit. That also enables me to keep my old road bike complete and use it for commuting only and this one for racing. Yes, racing. I will probably contest a few more road events this year, pending open weekends in the MTB schedule. All of the new Ultegra 10-speed stuff will work double-duty and go over to the 'cross A-bike in the fall and all of the old A-bike stuff will get handed down to the pit bike. The old pit-bike stuff will be reserved for commutter bike backup stuff. Everything has it's purpose(s).

Got the new bike out on the road on Saturday for a solid 3 hours. Rode up and did 3 laps around Lake Quivera (Quivera Road, Johnson Drive, Renner Rd. and Holiday Drive). Pretty hilly little loop and 3 laps is tough. Bike felt super solid. Super stiff but not harsh thanks to the carbon frame. New components always feel great. Neutral geometry doesn't require over-thinking. Besides the complete Shimano component group, the bike came with FSA bars, stem, and seatpost. Nice stuff that all performs perfectly.

Some people critisized me for buying mail-order and not suporting one of the local bike shops. As much as I like to support the shops in the area, and I do appreciate any discouts they give me, I simple was not in a situation to spend twice as much.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Epic Holiday Cross - Kansas City, Mo

For the 3rd year in a row, the Epic Holiday Cross lived up to it's name.... Epic. Twisting in and around the Tuileries Shopping Center, the course always provides some surprises. Most of the snow had melted away but left the ground saturated and after everything froze during the night, we were treated to a very icy course. Once course after an hour of preriding, much of the ice broke through, exposing several inches of ice cold water and mud. The organizers did an amazing job of melting some very dangerous ice patchs in a couple of the turns in the cobble parking lot. I was happy that the 40+ Masters race was the first race of the day. The course seemed to get worse each lap so later races definately had there hands full. I got off the start in 3rd behind Andy Lucas and teammate Josh Taylor. Josh gave me some room in turn one and I got through and onto Andy's wheel. I was content to follow Andy since he was going pretty good. About mid way on lap 1, I had an opportunity to get go so I took it. One we jumped onto the sidewalk section, Andy came flying by me on the right, about twice my speed, then had a very spectacular crash. Hitting a patch of ice on the side walk, he went by me with his back end sliding out to the right, then back to the left right infront of me. Fortunately he shot to the right before going down so it didn't take we out with him. Looked spectacular but fortunately no major injuries. The left teamate Josh Taylor now in 2nd. For the rest of the race, I just kept it steady and kept Josh at a safe distance. Bob Downs (Planet Bike) had a great win in the 50+ masters field. Starting 10 seconds behind us, he got through the 40+ field and caught me with 4 laps to go. By the end of the race, my feet were more than numb from riding and running through the ice-cold standing water. The course had definately changed by the end of our race. The muddy sections got mudier, but some ruts seems to be freezing back up. Being the 24th race of the this years 'cross season, I was in no shape to race the Open race, so Shadd Smith had to race by himself. Thanks to Roger for having the pressure washer after the race. No I have a month or 2 to relax and get some easy riding in before the local mtb and road stuff kicks off.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Grote Prijs Shawnee Cyclocross

Wow. What a day. With all the snow we had, it took a lot a people and a whole lot of time to get the course cleared and in some kind off shape to race on. The City of Shawnee provided a Bobcat and several people to do 80% of the work on Friday. I went out on Saturday to help out and put the final touches on a few sections. After working for a while, everybody did laps for an hour or so to get some lines established. The forecast for Sunday was for bitter cold in the morning but up into the twenties by noon. That meant hard and icy (but fast) early, and slushy later on. Most of the course had 1 perfect racing line about 12" wide, some sections had 2, pretty much where the Bobcat tracks were. As long as you stayed right on the main racing line (or the other if it was there), you could actually haul ass, but you get off that and it would bring you to a dead stop, either right in the middle of the course or over a snow bankd and off in the 2 foot deep powder on the other side. No need for much course tape since you couldn't go anyway the Bobcake didn't clear. My Masters 40+ race was the first go go off at 11am and it was still in the single digits. The course was rock hard and fast, provided you stayed on line. Off the start, I immediately pulled my left foot out of the pedal. Hadn't done that in a while. The paved start hill was pretty short so I didn't have much time to move back up before hitting the tricky left turn off the pavement. I did manage to cut off a few guys and was somewhere around 10th coming down the first single file section by the wheel pit. This is where it split into a left and right line. I went right and caught a rut which shot me straight into the 3foot pile of snow along the course. I lauched over the bars and disapeared into a cloud of while powder. My helmet and face were completely packed with snow and my gloves covered. I scamptered back onto the course and ended up completely screwing a few of the 50+ masters that started 10 seconds behind us. I was not only dead last in my race but I was back in the 50+ field. It took a while to get back going and up the tricky section by the tennis courts. Once up that section and around the tree, the course splits in 2 fast lines and I could start moving up. At this point, I was already 30 seconds + behind the leaders. My teammates Josh Taylor and Joe Houston got the holeshot, and rode the first section perfectly and were already a couple straight-aways ahead. I was in serious panic mode at this point. I got by a few guys on the first lap and noticed that I was coming up on Steve Songer and Andy Lucas. Fortunately for me, they didn't get great starts either and were still working through traffic. If they had, they would have been gone. I was definately getting winded chasing back up so hard. About 1/2 way through the race, I managed to get up to Josh with Lucas right behind me. Right after I got into the lead, I did another high-speed snow explosion. This time my chain came off which took some time getting back on. Andy got back by me, so it was back into panic chase mode...AGAIN. I was pushing it pretty hard, which made up time on some parts of the course, but definately caused some catastrophic moments that were counter-productive. Ultimately the fastest laps were the ones where I didn't push it as hard and as a result were error free.

I have to apologize to the girl that was on course that I did a perfect hockey check on . She had taken the low line off of the run-up/ride-up, and I was coming fast on the upper high line. Right before I passed her, she hooked up and came up and onto the higher line, and I just flat-out nailed her. She didn't go down fortunately but i sure hope she's not hurt.
With a few laps to go, I clawed my way back up to Josh and Andy. We all made numerous passes for the lead and we were all banging into each other. One of us would crash, take out the guy behind, letting the 3rd guy by, just to watch him mess up , taking out one of us, and so on, and so on........ I just got back into the lead right before the bell lap. I thought I had a small gap back to Andy and Josh but they got right on my wheel along the long head-wind straight leading to the paved start hill. I had to sprint up the paved start hill in order to get off the pavement first. At this point in the race, I was hurting bad. The only chance I had was to lead out the last lap and NOT screw up. I some how managed to NOT mess up too bad too many times and got a small gap on Andy which stayed till the line. I was completely hammered after that race. Definately the hardest masters race this season, probably hardest race period. It took everything I had and every minute of the race to get that win. Breathing that hard in that single-digit air was nasty. With only a handfull of guys in the Open race, I figured I jump in and get some more pain and misery. By the time that race started, the course had definately changed a lot. A few sections got more rode in, but most of the course was just getting wetter and slushier. Once the race got going, I slotted into 3rd with Shadd Smith running away at the front and Chris Wallace in 2nd with Planet Bike owner Bob Downs in 4th. I managed to claw my way up to Wallace and got by him once, but then I botched the ride-up and he got back by. I stayed close and got back on his wheel before the long head-wind straight-a-way leading to the pavement. Just as I got on his wheel, he slid out and I crashed right into him. I got going pretty quick, but this allowed Bob Downs to get back up to me and eventually by me. I stayed close for a little bit, but I was dying. With a couple laps left I just didn't have much left so it was conservation mode from there and I came in for 3rd.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 - Year in Review - Goals for 2010

Definately glad to finally get 2009 in the books. 2009 had plenty of excitement. A few "Ups" and a few "Downs". The road of life isn't necessarily paved, but more like a Spring Classic, with some moderately-paved sections interupted by cobbled mine fields, or just long sections of gravel.

The first cycling-related event of last year was the same event that was just postponed: Epic Cross. Last years race definately lived up to it's namesake, and this year's WOULD have been worse with the entire parking lot under 2" of snow.

Last years Grote Prijs Shawnee (cross race #20 for the season)was characterized by 2 crashes in the first minute: The first one that handed me the lead, and the 2nd one that put me in dead last. Gave it a good fight but never really got back into the action. At least I could now clean the "A" bike and hang it up for 8 months.

No race action in the area for a while so it was just base training till March.

First MTB race of the year was the Devils Revenge Off-Road Duatholon, which included a short, 2-lap MTB race. I went out there to help Chris Locke set up the course. At the last minute, I ended up jumping in. Full report HERE

The following weekend, I did one of the Perry Lake Training Races. On average, I might do 1 road event each year and this was it. Full report HERE

Sold my '69 Nova on Ebay. That project stopped progressing forward years ago, but I finally put an end to the misery on March 29th.

Worst day of the year was April 17th.

Headed to SoCal to visit family, and watch the Dana Point Gran Prix. Full reports

May 19th Kristine and I headed across the pond for our side project
Had a fantastic time. Full trip report HERE
and HERE
Slide shows HERE and HERE

Video clip HERE

Headed to San Francisco for some fabulous wine tasting.

3rd actual race of the year was the MTB race in Emporia

Ended my Tuesday Night crit season on August 1st with 18

Ended up doing 10 of the Wednesday Night Hill Rides. Typically I prefer riding off-road on Wednesdays, but given the amount of time the trails were closed........

Ended my Commuting season on August 2nd with 50 trips to work and back for a total of 1,800 miles and 100 gallons of gas saved.

Headed to Lake Tahoe on September 3rd for some fun with the family.

Watched the final stage of the Tour of Misouri in KCMo

Spent Thanksgiving in SoCal

Cross Results in 2009:
KC Cup Swope Park 2nd masters 2nd open
Diamond Blackfan 2nd masters 19th open(too hot)
Boss Cross 1 11th open
Boss Cross 2 12th open
Chris Cross 1st masters DNF open
Capital Cup 1st masters
Boulevard Cup 1st masters
Smithville Lake 1st masters 5th open
Boss Cross 3 1st masters ? open
HPT Topeka 1st masters
Vet Cross 1st masters
Kansas State 2nd masters
Lincoln #1 5th open
Lincoln #2 9th opeb(rolled tire)
Boss Cross 4 1st masters
Cross out '09 1st masters

2010 Goal: Don't really have any racing-related goals, other than just having fun at the races and not taking myself too seriously. Didn't do much in the way of MTB racing last year since the mtb racing schedule around this area was a bit lean. 2010 is looking to be quite a bit better with the Unified Federation of Dirt thing. Won't do a boat-load of travel but at least there is stuff close by. Not sure I can get back to the MTB form I had in 2008, but i'll give it an honest effort and whatever happens happens.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cross out the Old Year - Shawnee, Kansas

With all the fresh snow on the ground, it was a bit of a challenge for the organizers to get the coure into something race-able. I pre-rode it on Wednesday night and it was definately a mess. Lots of snow and it was melting so that means wet feet and a slushy bike stuck in one gear. Fortunately the temps overnight firmed everything up nicely. It was still in the high teens for race time but the sun was out. I kicked myself for not having a dedicated mud-tire setup at Kansas States, which cost me the race there. I made a point to not get caught out like that for these last few races of the year.
The course started on a 5ft wide sidewalk for about 100 yards then onto the first tricky off-camber grass section. Me and Steve Songer started on the front row since we are the top 2 in series points. We blasted up the start and I managed to lead into the first tricky section, but it was easy. The first section is all off-camber with a main high line along the fence and a low line if you couldn't hold on up high. Armed with fresh meat front and rear, I blasted across the upper line and into the next short off-camber climb to the 180 turn. Did a perfect one-foot pivot and hit the next little downhill section and short climb pretty hard. The next section was a long straigh slight-downhill section along the fence. I kept it steady down this the first time to recover a bit. Songer had some issues shortly after the start so it was teammate Jeff Uhnra behind me with Josh Taylor behind him. After the long downhill, there was a haybale dismount than some tricky stuff around the ballfields and back to the start/finish. The entire course had one main racing line about 12" wide, but other lines developed quick. The main line was getting wetter each lap. To avoid the freezing spray, I started using the off-lines more in the later laps. The course actually got faster each lap and it appeared to start freezing up on the last lap. I kept the pace steady and did a farily good job keeping the peddels from getting clocked. Only lost the use of one-side of my right pedal. With the race only 30 minutes, I did an extra lap to prepare for Sunday's Epic Cross race.