Monday, September 29, 2008

DeStad Diamond Blackfan Cyclocross

I'm fortunate that I haven't had too many bad 'cross races over the years, but yesterday was definately the worst one ever. Just wasn't hydrated properly and the body didn't react well to the un-seasonable 85'ish degrees. Huge turnout. I got the perfect start, came through lap 1 in 3rd, and settled in with the eventual podium finishers. After about 15-20 minutes, the power output just shut down like someone flicked a switch off. Once guys started blowing by me that never blow by me, I was just mentally not in it anymore. At that point I was just turning the pedals over. I should have just pulled out and reduced the damage but I don't like pulling out of races. Super dehydrated, headache, feel like crap. Rather embarassing to finish like that but it happens to everybody at some point. *******mystery solved: the Pollen count and air-born mold count have been through the roof that last few days with the warmer-than-normal weather. My allergies tend to flair up whenever the weather changes drastically and it sure did last week right before the race. Hopefully FALL is finally here for good and I can break out the long-sleeves.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

1 cx race down .... 20 something to go.....and the 29'er

OK. Last weekend after I got back into town from the Hermann Night Race, I took the new Niner out for it's first REAL mtb ride. It had been about 5 weeks since i'd ridden out there. It's ROCKY AS HELL! I don't remember it being that bad at the 3hr race there back in July. We've had about 2 feet of rain since then. I've been racing a full-suspension bike for the last 10 or so years, so this was an eye opener. I need to re-think the whole "keep your ass on the seat and just don't stop pedaling" concept that has won me more races over the last decade, I don't even remember going to some. Anyway, got the first real ride in the books and made a few adjustments. Last night I went back out there "at speed". Since i'm not running tubeless just yet, running 25psi was a huge risk and the end result wasn't avoided.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hermann Under The Lights

Wow. What a cool race this was. First 'cross race at night for me as i'm sure it was for most of the other racers. The venue was terrific, but brutal. The course's start/finish area was on a grassy flat area on top of a hill next to a large athletic/sports complex area. Once we renegotiated the very technical start with it numerous tight turns and first set of barriers, we bombed down a tricky paved hill and into a super fast paved section that had me wound out in my 42/12. Some of these turns weren't lit very well and they were only taken at speed because i'd prerode the course several times while it was still light. Back onto the grass for several tight 180's, then the mandatory playground sand pit run. Then the real fun started. This entire area was under water just a week ago, so even thought the grass on top was dry, the underlying ground was soaked. The Intermediate race turned this section into a 150 yard long pig trough that got worse each lap. It was barely ridable in the later laps. After the mud pit, it was back on the pavement for bit of flat recovery before the courses most brutal feature, the stairs. I had a good 2nd row call up so I was good to go at the start. I knew the start would be super critical so I made the move right off the start line and got into the first turn in 3rd place with only (i think) Shadd Smith and Nate Rice in front. 2 fast guys to follow for sure. I managed to stay with them in 3 place for the first lap. A couple very fast guys didn't get great starts and were steadily moving up on the wide open course. Eventual race winner Josh Johnson was one of those guys. A front row start for him somehow went bad and he got stuck in traffic but was caming back fast. Behind me was a long line of fast guys: Bill Stolte, Cale McCaninch, Mat Ankney, Adam Mills, Bill Marshall, Jeff Winkler, Ethan Froese, Chris Wallace, Will Gault, and Cameron Chambers. The pace was very brisk and the stairs were taking a toll on my legs. I was still able to make up time on the rest of course, especially in the mud. Bill Stolte got by me as did eventual race winner Josh Johnson. Josh quickly crossed the gap to join Stolte, then left him to join the 2 leaders Smith and Rice only a few more seconds up the road. In the closing laps both Cale McAnich and Mat Ankney got by me. Cameron came by me but then quickly pulled off course with some kind of problem. I was now in 7th with 5 laps to go and plenty of fast legs only seconds behind me. Ethan Froese was gaining on and I really had to push it hard to limit the damage. Behind him it as a wheel to wheel battle between Bill Marshal, Jeff Winkler, Adam Mills, and chris Wallace. Over the next few laps that gap to Ethan stayed the same and we were both putting time into the group behind us. Ethan suffered a late race flat and cost him a few places. Hitting the bell lap, I had about a 30 second gap on the group behind. Right after the start/finish line, the 10 lbs of wet grassy mud derailed my chain, fortunately right before the pit. I didn't even hesitate to switch bikes and only lost a few seconds. Having a nice clean(and light) bike helped on that last lap. I just kept it steady and didn't make any mistakes and came in 7th. Adam Mills get the better of Jeff Winkler for the final money-paying spot, with Chris Wallace, Ethan Froese, and Bill Marshall rounding out the top 12. Only the 12 of us were on the lead lap. Here are the final results. The other 33 racers were lapped and pulled. Very cool race and look forward to doing it again next year.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Out with the Old.........

...In with the new. After a couple years of throwing around the idea of going 29'er, I finally did it. The final part, the Niner EMD frame, which showed up on Friday. Ya, I know, it's been about 10 years since I've raced a hard-tail but what the hell. The Niner EMD frame is fairly light even though it looks big and appears to be seriously tough. Trying a few new things out, and i'm not one to try new things out when it comes to bike setup. I've ran almost the exact same setup (seat height, bars off the ground, seat tip to bars, ect) for the past 6-8 years. I figure since everything in my life seems to be changing for better, it was just a matter of time that I did something with the MTB. Trying a single ring 32 by 11/34 setup. I've ran the single setup in cross and wouldn't go back to a double for anything, but I'm still on the fence how this is going to work off-road. I build the bike up Friday night with the tornado sirens going off. Saturday I took it out for a 90 minute spin. WOW. IT IS EXTREMELY DIFFERENT. Could only do the paved trail since 6" of rain in 48 hours doesn't do the Shawnee Missing Park mtb trails any favors. In fact, it might be a while before I can try out some single track on it. I did do the kitty-litter trail around Lake Lenexa (Blackfoot Park)but that's the only dirt it's seen so far. The 32/11 seemed a big small on the paved trail and the 32/34 might be a hand full on super steep stuff but how often do we see that out here. I've got all winter to get this thing figured out. You definitely notice the bigger mass of the wheels when starting from a stop but once you're going it didn't seem that bad. The Manitou Minute 29'er fork will take some tweaking. The Sun Ringle wheels are nice and tight (although the rim seems a bit narrow) and the Hayes Stroker brakes work great. Maxxis Crossmark tires seem perfect, except they fit very loose on the rims so they wouldn't setup tubeless so they are tubed for now. I've always ran a narrow bar and very LOW in relation to the seat. Looks circa late '80 Tomac'ish, but that's what I know and have always ran it that way. After 20 years, the lower back is begging me to fix this, so I'm going to move the bars up a little bit at a time over the winter and hopefully by the start of the '09 season, i'll be sitting a bit more upright and comfortable. I'll selling all the old 26" stuff so this is all or nothing.
I ended my commuting season with 57 days. I might fit a day or 2 in here and there for not much more. With 'Cross season here, I needed to be a little fresher and I need to focus a little bit on work right now (more on that later). The 'cross season opener in Hermann Missouri just a few days away. I have a descent 25th place call-up out of a big field. There's at least 15 guys up there that are fast so I need to move up fast and get onto those wheels and away from the guys that will just be in the way. Should be epic under the lights. Training has been tough given all the rain. I've spent more an a few rides doing intervals in the rain and covered in freshly cut grass clippings. Stayed up all night to get signed up for CX Nationals. It's amazing how many people are ALREADY signed up when they turn registration on. There were already 55 guys in the Masters 40-49 before the system even let me in. That's still better than last year. I was called up in 97th or something and finished 16th. I have a legitimate chance at the podium if I can get through enough guys quick off the start and onto the right wheels. Last year I spent the entire first lap going from 90th into the top 20, but the front runners that had a clear course were already gone.
For the Elite race, I'm 25th signed up but that's before they stick all the UCI points guys up there. I'm not really worried about that race. Even the back-markers are relatively fast. I'll contest this year on the same duel 3D Racing custom bikes.