Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cyclocross Worlds - Lars Boom

Awesome race, plenty of action the whole way. Lars did the 9 laps of the 3.2km course in 1:05. That comes out to just over 27kph or about 18mph. With the top 25 riders coming finishing within 1 minute and something like 79 riders on the lead lap, don't you think the course lacked sufficient technical sections to thin things out. Several riders were riding the one steep hill and those that weren't looked like they could have but were stuck in traffic or could run it faster. 2 guys with shovels and about 30 minutes would have made that hill more interesting. The majority of the course looked super smooth and fast (those guys tend to make it look like that even if it isn't). A stategically-placed water truck could have slowed things down or at least forced riders out of the big ring.

"Spring Time in January" is OVER

1 week ago is was in the single digits. Last Wednesday, it was 3pm before we even got ABOVE zero. This past Sunday and yesterday, it was 60 degrees and beautifull. Today? Well, let's just say it's your "typical" January day: about 10 degrees and snowing sideways. Should have about 2" on the ground by the time I get home from work.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Smithville Lake Full Moon Ride

Icy trails, 10 degrees, and a full moon out. Perfect time for a "no lights" MTB ride, so I hitched a ride up to Smithville Lake with Tige Lamb. I actually had 2 different light systems on, but keeping with the theme of the ride, I played along and tried my best to follow those infront of me. Trails were fairly descent and hard-packed, except for some sections that hadn't been ridden or ran on yet. You can tell by the pic that we were putting out some real heat. The fun really started on the way home. If you ever hear any loud grinding noise from the front end of your vehicle while driving, make a point to check this out. Locke's van turned into a 3-wheeler on the way home after the desintegrated front rotor bearings ground thought the rotor and the whole wheel, brake caliper and all, felt off. This happened when he was backing up at about 1 mph (to park it and leave it), so we had to laugh because he was going 70 the whole time before this. photo of me and Tige, and of the automotive carnage, courtesy of chris Locke.

Friday, January 18, 2008

He's back!

Mario Cipollini : Cycling's all-time biggest rock star is back, and with an American team, Rock Racing. Whether it's his hair, bronze tan, outrageous outfits, or his talent, he's cyclings biggest EVERYTHING past, present, and the most-likely future. I would love to see him rip the legs off of our fastest domestic sprinters, then hit the podium in a big pink pimp hat and fur coat. Hell, maybe if he's just driving the Rock Racing team car passing out bottles, you KNOW he'll be looking straight out of the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. They don't make 'em like him anymore. Today's top Pro Tour sprinters just don't have the same flamboyant personalities. Allways the showman, yet still a constant professional. When he was sprinting well, few others could touch him. Many people don't know that he could actually CLIMB fairly well. Not a grand tour, 15km climber by any means, but on anything less than 5km, he was a brute. You would be hard-pressed to find any domestic pro currently racing that could stay on his wheel over the Koppenberg.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Off Season - FINALLY!

I hung in there the whole time. Held it together physically but finished it out with the mental capacity of a 6 year old. Moderately full MTB season (12 races), with a FULL cross season (20 races). Nice to finally get some good rides in without having to stare at the HR monitor. Haven't taken any real time off the bike. I'll let the crazy January weather here in Kansas City tell me when not to ride. Anything off-road out here is out of the question, unless it's a well graveled road. To much rain, snow, melting snow, and re-freezing melted snow all means no singletrack for a while. Meanwhile I have every inch of the 30+ miles of paved bike trails memorized. The Kreitler rollers are ready to go when all else fails.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Grote Prijs Shawnee Mission - video clip

Great clip showing the section that some guys were dismounting and running but it was ride-able, albeit a little slower than running it. The song playing over the PA system during the video clip was courtesy of race announcer Roger Harrison!

Grote Prijs Shawnee Mission

The last cross race of the season finally rolled around on a very un-seasonable warm day. This time of the year, it is usually 20 degrees or worse, which is was earlier in the week, but then it warmed up. The ground was well saturated and much of the course was deep mud. I got a terrible start but it was a long paved start so I didn't panic. I slotted into 4th as we hit the grass behind Shadd Smith, Bill Marshall, and Cameron Chambers. We stayed closely bunched together for the first half of lap 1. Before the race, I was watching the Masters race, and decided I might run a particular muddy turn with a long muddy section after it. Even if it wasn't faster, it would keep the bike from clogging up as much and maybe that would pay off later in the race. I was in 3rd coming into this section on lap 1 behind Cameron and Shadd. Up to this point in the day, everybody was riding this section, no matter how slow they were going. To the crowds amazement, I dismounted, shouldered the bike and ran into the turn, made the hard right turn and ran the following straight and passed Shadd in the process. I was now in 2nd with my sights set on chasing down Cameron. I gained some ground over the next lap but he was riding extremely well and pulled steadily away. Meanwhile, I pulled away from Shadd Smith while Bill Marshall solo'd around in 4th place. The couse also featured a tricky little dirt pile with some steps cut into it. I chose to ride that section everytime while the majority ran it. Riding was probably slower but it kept me on the bike at least. The 2 barriers were hoppable but the section after them was too muddy to ride efficiently so I didn't hop them and shouldered the bike over the barriers (which I usually don't do) and ran the following section. After that it was a short paved section followed by the gravel out and back to the finish. This race was the final round of the DeStad Cyclocross Series. Shadd Smith had the overall wrapped up and I had 2nd wrapped up so that's where it stayed.

Friday, January 4, 2008

2007 Year in Review

A little late in coming, but here it is. My 2007 season isn't even over yet. One more cross race this weekend and it's officially dead and buried.
First half of the year was all MTB races except for 1 road circuit race and about 15 "Tuesday Night Worlds". Had plenty of wins on the MTB in '07 in both the Midwest Fat Tire Series and the Heartland Series. Won all 3 of the overall series titles that I did the previous year (MWFTS Vet Expert and Overall Expert and Heartland 30-39 Expert). Since I don't have a budget set aside for racing, I need to make sure I can win enough cash at each race to cover the cost of getting there, signing up, and getting home. When all was said and done, I did manage to finish out the MTB season slightly "in the black". My 'Cross season starts in July with specifc preparation and training that definatly pays off. Some guys pull their 'cross bikes out a week before the first race and end up getting in their own way. By the time the first race rolls around in September, I've got BOTH cross bikes dialed and i'm hauling ass and feeling like i'm part of those things. Season started early as it usually does with 3 races in Iowa BEFORE the first local race in my area. Then it's off to 4 races in the Nebraska State CX Series which I finally won. Then it's more local stuff following by the UCI races at JingleCross (finished in the money both days in Elite, not too bad). Finish the '07 calender year out with 2 descent results at Nationals (16th in Masters and 41st in Elite). Just local stuff after that then it's 2 1/2 months off to get used to the MTB again.

My tips to a successful 'cross season:
1) Hang the mtb up 2 months before your first cross races. Do cross-specific workouts almost entirely.
2) Have 2 identical bikes. It's a good-size initial investment but well worth it. The majority of this investment is the frame/fork and cockpit (bars, stem, seatpost and seat)
3) Never let anybody tell you that you need 10spd Dura Ace on your cross bike(s). My secret is that Ebay has 9speed Ultegra stuff coming out the cheap #$$#^*&. Maybe invest in crisp new STI levers but the rest should be used, cheap and easy on the wallet to replace.
4) Run a single ring set-up up front and ebay the non-STI left-side levers. Unless you have the big nuts to push the big-ring the whole time, having 2 rings and all that chain slap sucks.
5) Never let anybody tell you you need $1000+ wheels on cross bike(s). I can't recall that anybody ever beat me on expensive wheels because they had expensive wheels. They beat me because they rode better or I screwed up. I run straight-forward stock Dura Ace/Mavic Open Pro wheels (or the equivalent). Nothing that you can't buy for $300-$400 per set.
6) If you run clinchers, run the bigger 'cross sized tubes that don't stretch/thin-out to fill the tire. A highly stretched-out 23c tube in a 32 tire will pitch super easy. Also when it comes to cross clinchers, the tread is something but the casing is everything. I run Challenge Grifo's on the primary bike and Michy Mud2's on the pit bike. Both treads offer roughly the same level of traction, but the casing on the Grifo's is far superior than the Mud2's and the ride quality is completely different. The hand-made construction of the Challenge tires does have a few issues but they are still well worth it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Holiday Cross - Kansas City, Missouri

This race was a late addition to the schedule this year but since it was sponsored by my team and the teams new shop sponsor (Epic Bike & Sport), better show up and fly the colors proud. Very interesting course located in and around the shopping complex. Completely flat with a lot of 180 degree turns and not the U-turn variety either. The ground was frozen but the melting snow made the top surface extremely muddy. No barriers due the risk of crashing while dismounting. One run-up on some big landscaping rocks. Good amount of paved sections (sidewalk or cobbled pavement). Bill Marshall "anticipated" the start and got the holeshot with Shadd Smitth falling in 2nd, Kyle Bush in 3rd and myself in 4th. We all hit the run-up together and Shadd quickly got by the Holeshot King Bill. I was momentarily stuck behind Bill and Kyle but i waited for the first icy and muddy stretch to shoot by and go after (wishfull thinking) Shadd. I got by both Bill and Kyle quickly and things were looking good, till the first few hairpin turns. I was able to ride the tight turns but Kyle was dismounting before each turn and running them, which was quick and took up plenty of room on the narrow course. He tried to run past me exiting one turn while I was riding. I didn't want to lose the position and let Shadd get away so I held my ground. Once I got Bill and Kyle out of my way, I set my sights on keeping Shadd to a respectfull sub 1-minute gap by the end. Cameron Chambers was able to get by Bill and Kyle and had 3rd locked up till a BAD leg cramp in the final 100 yards that forced him to DNF. He won the single speed race earlier in the day so things were too grim. Bill Marshall inherited the 3rd spot ahead of Kyle Bush in 4th.