Monday, December 28, 2009

Too much of a good thing!

I was looking forward to getting to some doing snowy mtb rides in. So much for that. Leaving work at 1pm on Thursday, the freezing rain was just starting. Eventually it turned to snow but the damage was done. I attempted to head out on the cross bike but that ice rink below the 1" of fresh powder made just getting out of my driveway scary unpredictable. Saturday I figured everybody would be hitting the trails so I ventured out. Roads were a slushy mess from all the salt so I jumped on the Mill Creek paved trail, or attempted to. Axle deep snow...on average. some spots 6" then a 2ft drift. Took about an hour to go 2 miles. Made it over to the trails to find not a single bike track, or foot prints, or car tracks. Way to deep to ride. No way was I headed back the way I came so I took the road back home.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Off-Season - Almost

There is 4 weeks between Boss Cross #4 December 5th and my next race (maybe Cross Out the Old Year December 31st or Epic Cross on January 3rd. That's a long way to keep the engine all fired up. Last week was crazy-ass cold so I only rode twice all week and both times were inside on the trainer for an hour. I'm sort of at the bottom with no where to go but up. My motivation to ride outside when it's single-digits is ZERO, and very-little when it's anything below 20. Since it's dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home, I can only do night rides Monday through Friday. I don't have one of those part-time jobs that allows me to ride in the middle of the day on a week day. This past weekend was the first weekend I could actually just ride(without racing) since September 12th/13th so I took advantage of that. Did 3+ hrs on Saturday. Hadn't did a ride that long since this past Summer, and it felt like it. Got out Sunday and did 2hrs and that felt like 4. I just kept telling myself "this is the bottom, looking up". This week just trying to nail down some good "structured" riding. Hopefully after this coming weekend, i'll have all the junk blown out.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Boss Cross #4 - Cold temps and heavy legs

After taking a full week off the bike after the Nebraska Lincoln races, and celebrating Thanksgiving with family in SoCal wearing flip-flops, I wasn't expecting much from the legs. Thanksgiving weekend was my first weekend of no racing since 'cross season began on September 19th. Only managed to get a couple hours of outdoor riding during the week before Saturdays race. 20 degrees feels worse after you've spent a week in the 70's. Got the jump in the Masters 35+ race with Doug Plummer right behind me and Josh Taylor close as well. I could already tell this was going to be a rough one. Doug got by me pretty quick and I just tried to stay with him until the first good climb. I got by him but he stayed close for a while before slowing dropping back. I had to ease up a bit and only went hard enough to keep from getting caught. Steve Songer, who won the 45+ race going away, started 20seconds behind our group and caught me on the 3rd lap or so, going by me like I was sitting still, and finished at least 1 minute in front of me. I'd say that put's me about 2 mins off from my Pre-Thanksgiving speed. Considering we know have several week before the next race, it will be a challenge to get back up there.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving in California

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nebraska Lincoln Weekend

The 2 races in Lincoln Nebraska mark the end of my 'cross season, basically, for this year. 19 races over 10 weekends. Headed up with 360's Shad Shriener so I raced Open both days. Saturdays race went great. Brian Jenson and Shad Shriener were off early and racing against each other. Got into a great battle for 3rd place with Jesse Peterson and Matt Farnham. I started feeling the pinch with about 5 laps to go so I had to let those 2 go just as Troy Krause caught me. Me and Troy worked together for a couple laps and actually started catching back up to Jesse and Matt on the the last lap. Troy put in one sharp attack on the final hilly grass section before the long fast paved finis. I just about came unglued but held his wheel and was able to get him in the sprint for 5th. Brutal hard way to finish a race, and I was completely wasted. Good pizza and beer in downtown Lincoln finished off the evening. Day 2 was a bit more intersting. Jenson and Shriener once again off the front early and nobody really was interesting in trying to hang with them. The battle for 3rd was hot with me and 3 others. I was pretty wrecked from the day before so I had to ease up and put it into cruise mode early. Alone in 6th for a few laps before Nate Woodman came up. Managed to get 2 pair of WarAxe socks on Hooligan Hill (hence the above Pic courtesy of Cornbread). Right before Nate caught me, I slid out in a turn and peepled the back tire off the rim. Yes, same problem I've had before running too low pressure. I slid out pretty hard and the second it caught and hooked back up, off it came. Took forever to get it pushed back on. This happened before the run-up on the far side of the cause so I had a long way to go to the pit. I eventually got it back on put had to let most of the air out. Should have just un-did the rear brake and rode it., but.... ended up dropping to 10th in the 5 minutes or so it took me to get my pit-bike. Got going again and got 1 guy back, and could see 2 others up the road. Unfortunately Brian Jenson came up and lapped me, so I couldn't chase then down. Ended up 9th, the last money-paying spot. Few other low-key races this season but this was the bulk of it. Heading back to California this week for a nice Thanksgiving vacation and a full week off the bike.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fools in the Rain (KS State Cx Champs)

After nearly a whole season of dry fast races, we were finally treated to something quite slick. Nice steady rain turned a very fast course into one where pure horsepower only put you sideways or down altogether. In the Masters 30+ race, the long start on the cobble road was quite slick and a bit sketchy. A bit of elbowing put me onto the grass in 2nd. I blew the very first grass left turn, which wasn't there when we set the course up the day before. That put me 50meters behind Tige Lamb with Brendon Jenks right behind me. The course was still sticky enough to offer some traction so I got back up the Tige and went by him before hitting the long run-up for the first time. I led the the rest of that lap but we and Tige swapped leads a couple times each lap for the whole race. As the race went on and the rain kept coming, the course changed drastically. By the last couple laps, traction was hard to find and turning was just a best-effort situation. I was super fit and felt strong but just couldn't get the traction to move forward or attack anywhere. Tige was riding the muddy turns way better than me but we stayed together hitting the bell lap. All was going good until the little "run-up" that we actually had been riding every lap. On the approach, my front wheel just greased out and I came to a complete stop. After running up that and remounting, Tige had a 50 meter gap that I couldn't do much to reduce. It stayed until the finish. Tige first, 2nd place for me with a hard charging Adam Mills rounding out the top 3. As the day went on the rain only got worse the temps dropped. I was signed up for the single speed race, but my first single speed race will have to wait. The primary bike was a mess, and the tires on the pit bike weren't up for the mud. Not to mention myself not really up for another hour of cold rain. By the time the single speed and mens open race got going, temps were down into the upper 30's.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Veterans Cross - Leavonworth, Kansas

Very cool course, very MTB'ish in my opinion. I like that. The start was back on the long cobbled road. I made it up that and onto the grass first with Doug Plummer right behind me. Once on the grass, I cruised a bit to recover from the hard start. After the first set of barriers was the first of 2 long grass climbs. I pinned the first one, coasted down the other side and pinned the second one. After that I had to cruise a little bit and take a quick inventory of where everybody was. Doug was still really close. After the 2nd set of barriers, the couse dropped down a hairy section through the trees with a nasty S-turn around some trees. The course tape never stayed up very long there. Down by the pond and up a series of grass/dirt turns. We didn't enter the cobbled road at the very bottom this year, but about 1/2 way up. I used the 2 grass hills every lap and the rest of the course to recover somewhat. Hung up for the Masters 35+ win, but Doug wasn't very far back. Racing the previous night and early again this morning was tough. I'm pretty thrashed. Hopefully some cooler weather rolls in soon. It's tought to sweat like that in November.

Heartland Park Night Cross - Topeka

Night racing can be pretty interesting. Starting a race at 5pm when it's still light and finishing 40+ minutes later when it's dark is even more interesting. The fading light made it hard to focus, but once it was completely dark and the lights of the Heartland Park race track were on, if was pretty cool. The dirt track and
infield was a bit green during the preriding. The track hadn't been used in months. A bit bumpy in spots but everything smoothed our considerably during the night. A tight little s-turn right after the start on just before the entrance to the track kept the entrance speed down. However, that speed quickly built up with a long flat drag to the first 180 turn and back. The the infield minefield consisting of some tricky bumpy turns. Back onto the dirt track for one last stint of speed before a very trick, and aukward stair run-up and quick remount before dropping down outside of the dirt track. A quick climb back up the start area, another stair run-up right before the finish. I got to the start a bit later than usually and sorta had to weasle my way into the front row. Both Andy Lucas and Steve Songer got off the line first and up the first grass hill. I rode the course tape a bit and got passed Steve, then dropped in on Andy going into the little chicane. Once in the lead, I tried to pin it on the dirt track. Steve and Andy stayed glued on my wheel. The infield was tricky and definately easier to be leading and picking my own lines. Me, Steve, and Andy basically stayed together for the first lap. Andy fell away but Steve stayed right on me and definately had my attention. With no real hills to speak off, I had to figure out where to get time on him. Leaving the dirt track, there was the tricky turn with the run up to the stairs, with the re-mount on top then a quick plunge down the other side with a sharp left turn. I noticed I could re-mount and make the quick turn a little better, so I started to pin that section and the following grass section with the climb at the very end. From there, I needed to recover a bit through the start-finish area. The little grass climb just off the start was another place I could get a second or 2 each lap. Once back onto the dirt track, I just eased up and tried to freshen up. Steve would close in here every lap. This pattern went on for about 30 minutes. Fortunately I could get a couple more seconds each lap on the sections I was faster on that he could get me back on during the track and infield section. The un-seasonably warm air made the throat pretty dry and sore by the end but I hung on for the Masters 40+ win with Steve right behind me and Andy Lucas coming back from an early crash to get 3rd. Hung out and watched part of the open race. Those buys were flying. With a race the following morning, couldn't stick around for the finish.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Boss Cross #3 _ Platte City, Mo

It was about 40 degrees warmer this time around. Perfect weather, bit chilly in the morning but nothing too cold. The course this year was more or less similar to last years: Pavement start with a hill and plenty of climbing. This is one of those courses were I spent about 90% of the course in your 3 biggest cogs and the other 10% in the bottom 3, not much in the middle. The pavement start was flat for 50 yards then a left 90 and up the hill another 50 yards. Sharp right onto the grass and into the bigger cogs. All the recent rain made the grass very spongy but not very muddy. In the Masters 35+ race, I got to the grass first. The first grass section had a steep downhill with a rutted out turn at the bottom, then a hard steep climb. It was farily easy to ride as long as you had a clear shot at it and low enough gear. My 42/26 was a manageble but sure could have used a 39. David Hayduk and Doug Plummer were never too far back so I just stayed steady and tried to use the sections of the course that suited me. The final pavement section through the start/finish area was a bit hairy at race speed, with a hard 180 left turn. The laps was really short and that combined with the steep nature of the course, the race got strung out really quick. I started catching the tail end of the field with about 4 to go. The Mens Open race wasn't until 2pm so I had a couple hours to sit around before warming up again. When doubling-up, the time between races is pretty important. This time I had 1 more hour between races than the previous weekend. It had warmed up quit a bit by the time the race got off. Bunch of fast guys on the line. Brian Jenson, Shad Shreiner, Aaron Elwell, Cameron Cambers, Jeff Winkler, Nate Woodman, and Chris Wallace among others. I got a good start and just got in line and held on. Jeff Winkler, Brian Jenson, and Shad Shreiner seemed to be off and running right away in a front group, then it was a group with me, Aaron, Cameron, Bill Marshall, Chris Wallace stayed together for a couple laps. I was feeling OK so I tried to take off and left that group and was in 4th but it was very short lived. Couldn't keep it going and got caught by those guys pretty quick, then starting go backwards. My legs were pretty dead and getting deader. Shad was flying and lapped me a few laps before the end, as did Jenson in 2nd, and Winkler 3rd. When Jenson passed me, I cut a turn a bit to hard and the back tire peeled off a bit. I could here it as i hit the high speed pavement section, so I hit the pit with 3 to go and got the spare bike. I was pretty dead at this point so the last 3 laps weren't too impressive. I couldn't ride the one long steep hill anymore. Last guy I could tell that was behind me was Bill Marshall but I couldn't see him anymore. Nate Woodman was having a really bad day but got close to me before the finish. Even going a slow as I was, I still caught the tail end of the field.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Smithville Cyclocross Festival - Smithville Lake, Mo

Perfect weather and great location. I spent a few hours on Saturday helping Chris and the crew lay out the course and pound some stakes. To keep things interesting, I made a slight alteration to the original course. Shortly after coming off the start road onto the grass, I added a tight little chicane around a tree by the bathrooms. Apparently the opinions varied. I wasn't in the parking lot for 2 minutes before I heard the first one. The course featured some cool stuff. The beach section was originally intended to be a run, but everybody was riding it. The run-up near the end of the lap was ridable but sketchy. The Masters 35+ race went off and I got the holeshot with teammate Joe Houston and Doug Plummer right on me. One I got the holeshot, I cruized the first tight grass section, then opened it up once we hit the paved bike path section. I kept the first lap a bit exilerating since I wanted to lead through the beach and not get tangled up. The steps exiting out of the beach that me and the crew cut in worked perfectly. After that, there was one good climb on the course leading up the the awards area. I could really get on it here and keep the pressure on. Over the top and spun a bit through the trees, by the wheel pit and back down towards the paved bike path. The hard right turn off the grass onto the paved bike path caught a few people (more on the later). Brief paved section with a hill, then the run-up and money tree, and finish line. Managed to get $3 during the Masters race. Some guys were riding the run-up but I played it safe and ran it every lap. Since I was doing the Open race later, once I got a descent gap on Plummer in 2nd, I started to ease up and spin the legs out a bit. Held on for the win with Doug Plummer in 2nd and teamate Larry Smith in 3rd. Open race had some good fire power with Shadd Smith, Shad Shreiner, Jeff Winkler, Aaron Elwell, Cam Chambers. Plan was to get a good start then try to settle in and not kill myself in the first 30 minutes. The worked and I got into the grass behind the 2 Shadds. Winkler got by and made his way to the front. Me, Cameron and Elwell had some good battles for a while. The beach section was destroyed but the exit was now ridable. The runup that I ran in the masters race was a lot better so I rode it every lap. At some point in the race Shadd Smith had a comfortable lead, then crashed pretty hard. He needed a new bike so it took him a while to get to the pit. Later he ate it again on the nasty right turn off the grass onto the paved bike path. Not a good day for him from the looks of that knot on the head. Winkler took the win with Shad Shreiner in 2nd. Shadd Smith held on for a hard earned 3rd. Me and Aaron Elwell were battling for 4th for a while. I went by him once and he looked blown up, but came on later and got by me and took off. Cameron was close behind me for a while but faded. Andrew Coe (very fast as of late) had a bad day was a ways back for most of the race. He came on with about 2 to go so I couldn't just roll the last lap. Held on for 5th. Great race and an awesome venue. That shower after the race made a world of difference. I was in there about 3 minutes after I crossed the line. The afternoons rain came like clockwork, right at 3pm.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Capital Cup/Boulevard Cup Weekend

Capital Cup in Topeka on Saturday. A bit chill and grey air out. Course was the same as last year more-or-less with the double run-up right near the end of the lap. LONG uphill paved start. Got over the top and onto the grass with the Steve Songer and Andy Lucas right behind me. The course was almost completely flat with the exception of the paved start/finish climb and mound of doom at the end. I tried to pin in on those few uphill sections and just stay smooth on the rest. I was able to extend my lead throughout the race but Steve stayed close and seem to gain on me on the flatter stuff. Managed to hold on for the win in Masters 40+. Couldn't stick around to watch the Open race since I had some family stuff in the afternoon: Louisburg Cider Mill and a bonfire at a friends farm in Missouri.

Boulevard Cup on Sunday. Woke up to nice frost. Good size field of 28 guys in the Masters 35+. LONG FLAT paved start/finish straight. Fortunately we had a tailwind down that. Got a 2nd row call up (I didn't prereg), but I managed to line up behind Songer on the far left so I wasn't worried. Got a great start and got into the lead right before the fast turn onto the grass. The first section of grass featured a long slighly-uphill drag before dropping back down and another slightly-hill drag back across the road. Then it got pretty tight for a while before the first barrier section (with an ackward downhill/right turn remount). After that was another slightly-uphill drag over into the parking area and back. After coming back over by the first barriers, the course did a cool little section consisting of series of short uphills with 180 turnes and quick down hills. That section would have been a mess in heavy traffic. After that section was the railroad-tie run up. Tricky approach with a left and quick right going in and an off-camber remount from the low side. Shortly after that it was back onto the long start/finish road section. with a serious tailwind, I got into the 12 down that the first couple times, but settled in with a more-managable 13 or 14 the other times. After a fast hard first lap, I just kept it steady, used the hills to my advantage, eased up on the headwind sections and stayed steady for the remaining laps. Awesome race and good vibe hanging out afterward watching the other races. The Mens Open race look brutal and I'm glad I was not in it. Bill Marshall led things out for KCCX with the teams dynamic due of Joe Smaltz and Chris Wallace hanging back. After a couple laps it was all KCCX off the front with the exception of Shadd Smith. As the race went on, Smaltz pulled away with Shadd Smith staying close and Criss Wallace and Jeff Winkler falling back. Andrew Coe put in the race of the day and bridged across to the lead group from a chasing group and got up to Shadd Smith fighting for 2nd. Shadd got him in the end but 3rd for Andrew was impressive.

Yes, it's very cute, but no we can't take him home

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chris Cross - Leavenworth, KS

Last Sunday it was 70 degrees and sunny. 1 week later? High 30's and overcast. Not bad considering a couple hours up the road got several inches of fresh snow. Chilly start for the Masters race but nothing a little embrocation can't fix. The course really suited me for this race. Plenty of elevation change. The start was moved from last years cobbled-road to the grass on a hill. Good for me as I powered up and never left the lead. Race was close for the first lap with Brenden Jenks, Tige Lamb, and Doug Plummer right behind me. I used the uphill cobbled climb on the first lap to really test the legs. I went fairly hard up that climb and the start hill climb each lap and used the rest of the course to let the legs come back. Course was fairly bumpy and I had a little too much pressure but never had any issues and felt strong the whole 40 mins. I felt pretty good after the race and recovered well, but the snap was gone from the legs and the lower back was on the verge. I started the Men's Open race with the goal of just getting a solid workout, and I got that for sure. I was 2nd up the starting hill behind Shadd Smith (I thought it was Brian Jensen), and followed him down the little descent that led to the longer twisty climb. I already knew I didn't have it so I got out of the main race line and watched about 25 guys go by in single file. I slotted in behind those guys and by now i was in the back 1/4 of the field. I just put my head down and tried to reel in 1 guy at a time. I was moving up nice, caught up as far as Nate Woodman, but with about 6 laps to go, I was shutting down quick. Lower back was gone which seems to start the ball rolling. Got so tired I wasn't getting over the barriers very pro-like. I finally pulled out with a out 2.5 laps to go. My lower back was really tight. I would have been caught anyway by the flying KCCX kids Joe Schmalz and Chris Wallace and Jeff Winkler. Winkler hung on with those 2 and got 3rd in a close sprint. My goal for the day was achieved with the Masters 35+ win. The Open field is brutally fast this year. I'd managed to be somewhat competitive in there the last few seasons but I can't (and don't really want to) make that kind of commitment this year. With no real MTB season for this past Spring/Summer, it's tough going for sure but fun anyway.

Here's the start of the Masters 35+ race

Here's the start of the Mens Open race

I've fallen.......

...and it wasn't pretty. Not quite the "Joe Houston experience" from last years race, but I did my best :-)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

2010 Bella Vita Vacations tours now forming

'Cross season is well under way and we're starting to put together our Italy tours for next year. Space if very limited since we prefer smaller groups to maintain a more personal experience with our clients. Check out the preliminary trip details here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Boss Cross #2 - Parkville, Mo

Ouch. Not sure what feels worse: Racing twice in one day or 2 days in a row. My lower back was welded together when I woke up this morning. Kristine took a hammer and chisel to it and a generous slathering of Tiger Balm got me to the start line. Another stacked field. Mostly the same as yesterday with the addition of Shadd Smith. I took the start a bit easier today, letting the fast guys go first. I slotted in around 10th maybe and just tried to follow some fast wheels without getting gassed too early. Ended up in a 3 way battle with Adam Mills and Cameron Chambers for a while. Both eventually dropped me so I was on my own with about 6 to go. A hard charging Andrew Coe was steadily moving up behind me, gaining a few seconds each lap. I eventually caught back up to Cameron and dropped him, but then Andrew caught him and both seemed to start coming back on the bell lap. Just as both of them caught me at the barriers, Andrew attacked and I got on his wheel and Cameron seemed to be cooked. I stayed glued to Andrew, hoping to get him back somewhere. During all of this, the gap up to Mills was coming down pretty fast. Andrew bobbled a bit in the last sand pit and I squirted by. Ended up being some sort of mechanical for him. Cameron wasn't that far back so I couldn't relax just yet. I think I ended up around 12th or 13th. Not sure. The reversed direction of the course seemed to flow nice. Definately a bit warmer today. Had a few close calls with people walking on or across the course. I think for next year, they need to keep the race confined to one area of that park so that people that want to use the park, walk the trail, their dogs, ect, don't have to cross the course in 10 different spots, or walk right down the course during the race. Just a thought.

Boss Cross #1 - Parkville, Mo

Super stacked field for Boss Cross race #1. Cool couse and perfect conditions. I got great start and just tried to hold off as many guys as I could. Was hanging tough until the bell lap. We and Tom Price had a been swapping back and forth for a few laps trying to land that last money-paying 10th spot. In the process, we starting to catch back up to Cameron Chambers and Chris Wallace. Tom put in a big surge and I didn't have it. My lower back was in some serious agony by then. 11th is still good concidering the guys that finished behind me. Race #2 today should be just as fast but with a reversed course, things might be different.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Diamond Blackfan 'Cross - Lenexa, KS

What's with this crazy heat wave. Wasn't supposed to be 85 today. A bit hot for me to be doing both Masters 35+ and Open Men but what the hell. Ride till you fall over and can't get up. Masters race went well. Not much I can do agaist Jeff Winkler but I stayed close and actually lead briefly on lap 2. He checked out shortly thereafter, so I just went hard enough to keep Brendon Jenks from getting close. It was allredy getting warm so I needed to conserve. The Mens Open race was stacked. I started in the back since I knew I couldn't hold on very long. Got a good start and somehow shot past a bunch of guys and ended up positioned really nice. Riding with some fast guys, I hung on and moved up steadily for the first 1/2 of the race. Then the wheels started to fall off. Once that happens there isn't much to do but stay steady, spin a small gear and keep going. Had a front row seat when Aaron Elwell bunny-hopped the first barrier just to smash into the second one. Total yard sale that I had to run around. The speed he was going and the height that he cleared the first one was a bit more than he needed. The lower back was completely seized going through the sand and over the barriers each lap. I really should work on that. Considering the heat, i probably wouldn't have had a good Mens Open race anyway even if I hadn't done the Masters race earlier. The heat is really been my nemisis the last couple years. Last year at this same race, it was hotter, but I came into it super fit and fresh, and did about the same as I did today. Pretty impressive ride by Jonathon Schottler for 3rd, beating Josh Johnson, Brian Jensen, and Shad Schreiner. Josh did his usual "start slow/finish fast" deal. I think he past me a few laps in. Winkler toughed it out for 7th after beating me in the Masters race earlier. Adam Mills, Andrew Coe, and Tige Lamb folloed in 8th,9th and 10th. I was with those guys till about the 1/2 way point in the race, before the heat and 2nd race of the day shut me down. Bill Marshall stayed steady the whole race for 11th. 12th through 18th all pasted me in the last 4 or 5 laps. Will Gault and Mark Cole got me on the last lap. Mark Cole was working his way up and I was going backwards. He got me over the barriers with about 100yards to go. I was so brain-dead, I was thinking he was in the singles-speed group. What a surprise to see gears on this bike as he passed me. I though about trying to pin the last turn and sprint. Great idea, no legs to make it happen. Definately looking forward to some cooler weather. Not the 10 degree crap, but 30-40 would be nice :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

KC Cup Cross Races - Swope Park, KC Mo

Pick from Heartland Sports Promotions website

Pic stolen from Shad Shreiners Blog

Photo my Kristine

Heartland Sports and Team 360 used every inch of availble ground and put together a super technical course. Only 1 long pavement section to get things wound up. The rest of the course was tight turns with a nice long section of dirt through the trees. Since my MTB form is in it's "off season" already, I decided to double-up Saturday and do both Masters 40-49 and Mens Open, and not do Sunday's mtb race. Warming up before the race, I got stung by a bee that went into my front helmet vent. Did not feel pleasent at all. The masters race was 25 deep with all the usual suspects. The 360 duo of Lucas and Songer and Jeff Winkler, getting in a warm-up race before heading out to the Hermann Night Race. Uphill paved start was a new twist. Never had to start a cross race in my smallest gear before, but it was cool and suited me at least. I got the whole shot easily with Lucas, Winkler and Songer right there. The traffic jam behind really got clogged up and the 4 of us already gone hitting the pavement for the first time. I drilled it on the front for 4 laps trying to brake up the group. Winkler went by me the road and got about a 100ft and stayed there. I still had Lucas on my wheel and Songer was still close enough to keep my interest. I didn't want the 2 360 guys to get together so I kept the pace high enough to get rid of Lucas but I didn't have much to close the gap on Winkler. He could have easily made the gap bigger but put it in cruise control since I wasn't coming back. Ended up 2nd and pretty happy with that. The Mens Open race was small with most guys out in Hermann, but we still had Brian Jenson, Shad Shreiner, Doug Plummer, and Cameron Chambers. I sorta ended up getting the holeshot after Jenson blew the the first turn and headed down the road, and Doug Plummer drifted wide on the first grass turn. Once on the front, I pinned it with everything I had. Shad Shreiner stayed glued right on me for a few laps then took off. I was started to feel the 2nd race in my legs and had to start conserving a bit. Plummer, Chambers, and Andrew Coe were still close but not really gaining ground so I just stayed steady. After Brian Jenson got back on course, he managed to get through the traffic and up into 3rd. He got within about 30 seconds of me but then stayed there for the last 5 laps or so. This course didn't give him any place to really wind it up. I'm sure he made me look silly on the long paved section, but I seemed to be a little faster in all of the tight stuff. Shad checked out and finished a ways ahead, I cruised in for my second 2nd place on the day and Jenson followed in third. I was pretty gassed at the end. I was open to doing the Sunday's mtb race but the legs were not cooperating this morning. Would have loved to race and support the guys buiding those new trails, but the morning HR confirmed I had raced enough for one weekend.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tour of Missouri

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lake Tahoe Vacation Hangover.....

Had 4 perfect days in Tahoe this past weekend. Flew back late last night into the rain, and it's been raining ever since. Friday Krisine and I went out for a boat ride with her parents, Rich and Carol. Scoped out a possible wedding spot. I got out on the bike in the afternoon. Headed up to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. There is an awesome paved-trail network that runs along the West and North shores of the lake with extensions that go up to Squaw Valley. Ran into a bear in the parking lot of Alpine Meadows. Got a picture of it but not with my camera phone so I couldn't twitpic it. Saturday I got out for a long one an rode all the way down the west shore to Sugar Pine Point State Park in Homewood, where the 1960 Olympics nordic ski events were held. Crazy area of interlocking paved and dirt trails. Could have spent all day in there, but I had something else I wanted to see. On the way back up the west shore, I cut off to climb Barker Pass. From the trail map I had, it looked like a 3-4 mile climb, and wasn't very steep so I ripped up that at about 15-20mph. I didn't know the elevation at the "top" so I had no clue. Well, it wasn't just that 3-4 miles. That was just the rode leading to the REAL climb. Obviously the map was not drawn to scale, and about an hour of steady climbing later, 8 miles, and 1500 vertical feet, I reached the top. Most of the 1500 total vertical feet came in the last 4 or 5 miles, since the first half was nothing much at all. Kristine's brother Craig, his wife Kirsten, and there new baby Joss came up for a couple of days. We went to the local pizza place over looking the lake to watch the UCLA and USA soccer games. For my final Tahoe ride, I hit the road for a bit and made it over to Northstar going over Brockway Summit. From there I rode up the dirt service road to the MTB park area and then took another service road further up the mountain. Good climbing but coming back down on the cross bike was a bit sketchy. After dropping back to the main lodge area, I back-tracked on the road to Brockway Summit, where I attempted to pick up the Tahoe Rim Trail. A bit rocky for the cx bike so I jumped on the paved road that goes over past Watson Lake and on to Tahoe City. Time was running out so I dropped down to Watson Lake and then bombed down a jeep trail back to the lake. How I didn't flat 10 times going down that is beyond me! My parents also came up for a couple days. We went out on the boat for a marathon 6 hours on Monday. Serious sun and wind burn.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekly Update: Lance, Buckethead, Commuting, and 'Cross

Those of you that follow Lance on Twitter saw that he went to a Buckethead show. I covered Buckethead in a previous post. Very Cool.
Commuting: Went 5 for 5 last week, 180miles, about 10 hours. Gas saved, about 10 gallons. That put me at 47 days for the year.
Cross: Getting there. Getting everything dialed in, including me. Made some good progress over the last couple weeks. Trying not to "kill it" this year.

Heading to Lake Tahoe this coming Labor Day weekend for some R&R with family. Taking the 'cross bike just in case. May rent a Vespa and do some motor-pacing around the lake. Maybe some high-altitude run-ups?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday Night Crit: The ticking time bomb!

Another fast one last night. Super hot and sticky. Commuted to work both Monday and yesterday so the legs were a bit rubbery by the time I got out there, but hung in OK never-the-less. Only took a couple laps before the first crash took out or involved several 360 riders. It was no surprise to anyone who caused it, so it will go without saying here. Hint: same guy that caused crashes at Tour of KC, and definately has reputation for sketchy riding every Tuesday nite, and no it was not one of the 360 guys caught up in it. At least with him taking himself out in the process, the remaining laps went smoothly. With Brian Jensen making an appearance again, the first 20-25 minutes seemed to click off around 29 avg. After that, there was a slowing for a bit before the final windup. Hung in and did my usually pull off coming down the hill on the bell lap as to not to clog the sprint.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Funny Video

This is funny, very "redneck" looking. I was a bit surprised that this is in Belgium. Sorta expected this to be Arkansas, Missouri, or maybe even Florida.... but Belgium? I'm sure a huge amount of beer (in cans) is comsumed at these events!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Nite Crit

Perfect weather and small but quality turnout. Didn't take long for Brian Jenson to light things up. The pace for the first 30 minutes was pretty quick. I felt great up until about 6 laps to go. Jenson and a few other had a small gap and it looked like a small group was bridging across. I had maybe one more hard effort left so I jumped across to that chase group coming down the hill. Right before I got to them, them seem to sit up and spread out. I should have hesitated, but instead I shot through that group and ended up in no-man's land. Oops. I knew I messed up so I pulled off to the left and got out of the way, a bit too gassed to try and blend back into the group and try to get set back up with 5 to go. Good effort though. Pack behavior was great tonite. Everybody seemed really smooth and controlled. No spazzy Crash-o-vita's to mess up a good thing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Training, RIM, Rain, Rain, Rain..........

Won't see any MTB trails for a while. Little too wet yesterday to ride in to work, but I made the ride today. Didn't ride at all on Saturday while most of the local MTB community was contesting the RIM 6/12 race. Didn't really feel that good. Got in a good week so I took the day off. Went to a dog show in Topeka in the afternoon, then celebrated Kristine's B-Day in the evening. Had dinner at Brio on the Plaza right around the time the rain was coming down and the race was being called. Got in some 'cross stuff on Sunday. No run-ups just yet. Want to take a little slower approach to the season than last year. Last year I timed it to perfection with an eye-opening first race at Hermann Under the Lights, but I hit my peak too soon and what followed was a roller-coaster of off-and-on form, and both mental and physical ups-and-downs. This year I plan to keep my head together even if the legs are not there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weekly Update - Tuesday night Crit, Hill Ride, ect

I realized Tuesday that I had ridden 31 days in a row. Wasn't really "training" some of those days. Even my training days off involved 2hrs of commuting. Throw in 4 Tuesday night crits, 1 Wednesday Hill Ride, 1 MTB race (which I won by the way), Bunch of hot laps at SMP, couple rides out at Landahl, and 18 days of commutting (about 648miles or about 36hrs), it was a productive 31 days. Still did the Crit Tuesday night (after the 2hr commute of course)and felt OK considering. I've already started some of my 'cross stuff and wanted to a good test, so I did a few digs early on, and things seemed as they should. Felt good but was in the wrong position coming down the hill with 2 turns to go. Group lined out in the gutter and I was on the left catching too much wind, so I called it a day. Plus a Colivita guy got back in front of me, so the safest thing to do is get as far away as possible, quickly, which I was happy to do. I hadn't done the Hill Ride in a while (Trails were dry most of those days so I was doing hot dirt laps), So I did it last week. Went OK considering I'd been absent from doing those hills for while. Felt good but still had to ease up near the top (of every hill), take a minute to get my breath back, then get back on it. I got back in the front group over the top of each climb, albeit not very pretty, but it worked. Of course I live right at the top of the 3rd climb (Praire Star) so I need to shut it down early and spin a little before hitting my driveway. Didn't do the Hill Ride this week and didn't ride at all Wednesday. 31 straight days was enough. Got back on it Thursday with commuting day #38 and some secret 'cross stuff aftwards. Felt like 10 different kinds of ass. Only commuting today, saving up for the weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday Night Crit, Commuting, ect

Big turnout last night. Everybody getting the final prep before Tour of KC. Spent the better part of 45 minutes just trying to stay away from the Colavita guys. That's harder than it sounds, as they seem to be moving from one end of the group to the other all the time and from one side to the other. Based on comments made over the last few weeks and from the races, my opinion is shared by most. Anyway.... with the rain yesterday morning, I didn't ride to work (and back) so I had fresher legs out there than I typically do, and got some itchy feet so I went for it. Had perfect position with 2 turns to go but ended up in 2nd going into the last turn. The front guy sorta sat up just as Shadd and company blew though the inside, leaving me to swing WAY wide and start my sprint from the other side of the road. Thanks to Mark Cole for hunting me down in the last 100 feet to keep from a top 5, but 6th is still good for me. Not that I have much of a sprint anyway and that 20+lb $500 road bike has it's limitations you know :-)

Commuting: today was number #33, mileage YTD 1,188 miles, total time spent on bike commuting YTD: 60.5 hours

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lance + Alberto ='d BIG Problemo!

Boy how things changed once Lance got on the roads of France and the dollar signs of a "potential 8th win" clouded his judgement and past statements. Simple fact is this. It was Alberto's team and Alberto's '09 Tour to win BEFORE Lance come out of retirement. We all know how long it took to put this Radio Shack thing together. Look at the last sentence in the above article. A "new team based around Lance" (title sponsor was assumed to be Nike back then) was already in the works and Bruyneel was most-likely already part of it. Bruyneel's 8-finger solute indicated what was to come. Lance's 7 tour wins got Bruyneel where he is today and an 8th tour win sure would have put more money in his pocket than Alberto winning his 2nd.

I Pulled this from PezCycling News this morning:
"..Vino has also assured Alberto Contador that the team want him to stay on for another two years and that he (Contador) will remain as the squad’s team leader and Vino will merely be there to be a kind of super-domestique. Now, I wonder where Contador has heard that before?"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Week in Review - Commuting, 'Cross, Lance, Alberto, Astana ect

Commuting: Made if 4 for 5 last week, 2nd week in a row. That puts me at 27 so far this year, 14 in the last 4 weeks. Had the first serious rain on the way home this past week. No big deal when it's 80+ degrees. Looking forward to some long-sleeve weather, makes commuting a little easier (unless it's raining). In seasons past, I've always started my 'Cross Preparation BS August 1st. That's the plan for this year as well, but I have no expectations this time around. No desire to be as fast as I have been the last couple seasons. Need less pain and agony, and more fun.

Lance: From a purely physical standpoint, he impressed the hell out of me, and most will agree on that. However, when it comes to Lance, it's all about Lance. He came to Astana when they already had the undisputed team leader in Contador, and he seemed to be OK with that at first. After the Giro, he started promoting the idea of a high place in Paris. Then he really changed his tune once the Tour rolled around. Lance bailed on a few Astana team dinners to do his own RadioShack stuff. I feel bad for Contador. His look on the podium standing next to Lance said it all. The top 3 also did not do the traditional "all 3 on top spot" photo op. Lance appeared to make it a point to NOT stand next to Alberto for the Team prize presentaion. Lance is going his way with his new team and Alberto going elsewhere, and with Vino coming back to HIS team, Astana will go nowhere.
This is all in sharp contrast to how some other teams worked: Vandevelde giving up his GC shot to help Wiggins move up comes to mind.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Emporia MTB Race

Decided at the last minute to actually do a MTB race this year. After commuting to work 4 out of 5 days last week, and doing a respectable ride out at Landahl Saturday morning, what the hell, why not. The race in Emporia KS had been on the schedule for a while but I figured it would be too hot out for me. The temps have been amazing cool which was the deciding factor. 5-10 degrees hotter and no way. Felt good out at Landahl on Saturday and i've been a little curious to see what my fitness was really like after not racing all Spring and Summer like I usually do. Had a full group of guys lined up to car-pool but it ended up being just me and Tige Lamb. Nice to ride some new trails for once. The crew down there put some amazing trails together. Super twisty with a few steep little climbs covered in loose rocks. Fortunately, for the most part, the course was smooth and fast, so the Niner hardtail was OK. 35+ Expert men started a minute behind the younger experts. That was a solid group with Cameron Chambers and Shad Shreiner. I got the hole shot in our race with Tige right behind me. We kept the pace pretty quick through the first section of tight single track and already had a gap starting when we hit the long gravel road section on lap 1. I hit the road and really dropped the hammer. The single-ring 36 34/11 got spun-out pretty good here but not too bad. After the long gravel section, it was back into the twisty single track for a short section before the finish. Me and Tige just shared the work for most of the race and caught all of the younger guys except that class winner Shad Shreiner. Coming off the gravel road on the last lap, I just happen to be in front and got into the single track first with Tige right behind me. I really didn't feel like a sprint on the steep climb to the finish so I just pushed the pace a bit through a series of tight sections and made sure a had a few bikes lengths cushion to work with. Hitting the pond with the bridge, Tige slid out a bit in a turn just as I got on the gas a bit so the gap was already set. We cruised in a few seconds apart for 1 and 2 in the 35+ and the 2nd and 3rd fastest times of the day. Lelan and his group put on a great race. Look forward to heading down there next year, provided it isn't too hot!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Commuting, Training, Hamilton, the Tour.....

WADA seeking a lifetime ban for Tyler Hamilton ( Click HERE for full story). Is this really necessary for WADA spend time and money on? 8 years is already a life time ban from the sport (unless you're Lance), so why bother kicking a already dead horse.

Lance at the Tour: Doing quite well considering, but I don't think we've had a real selection yet. I really hope that if and when he realizes that he can't win it, that he switches gears and supports Alberto so that he can win it. My previous prediction of the final podium being Contador, Sastre, and Menchov in that order is looking about 33.3% on track. I still think Contador has it. Once we hit his favored(steep) terrain, he'll really light it up. Sastre is already almost 3 minutes back, and Menchov is 5 back. That's a lot of time to claw back. Why isn't Ivan Basso racing the Tour (Oh, THIS is why)

Training: Not much to speak of here, just riding. Trails have been closed.

Commuting: Up to 22 days, 792 miles.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Tour prediction

OK, you heard it here first: Contador 1st, Sastre 2nd, and Menchov 3rd.

Contador has been very quiet so far this year, saving everything for July. He also has a super strong team to support him, provided they are supporting him. As long as Lance and Levi place nice and put there individual ambitions aside, nobody important should get up the road. Sastre showed great form right at the end of the Giro. The Cervelo team is strong but lacks the big-gun climbers. Menchov will definately rock the time trials and maybe a hilly stage, but my hunch is he burnt too many matches in May.

Other predictions:

More dopers will get caught, big names just like years past.

Lance may be allowed a stage win (Ventoux i'm guessing), but for the most part, he'll be Alberto's bitch for 3 weeks. Neither one will win if they make this a repeat of the LeMond/Hinault spectacle from years ago. More recently, the infighting between Vino, Kloden, and Ulrich at T-Mobile. Speaking of Vino, interesting to hear what he is saying about already being back on Astana. I wonder what pull he really does have with the Kazakhstan supported team. Could get VERY UGLY.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Weekly Update - Commuting, Training, ect

Been a good couple weeks of solid training. Finally getting some off-road time in. Took a few days but the skills are still there. The HEAT WAVE from HELL (all of last week) is over. Heading up to KCK to catch the Tour of KC Crit, just to watch of course. Very cool course with a nice hill (or 2). The Pro/1/2 race was pretty animated from the start with Jenson and Moniger marking each other, and the Mercy and Tradewind Energy teams trying to control things. Matt Ankney and Chris Hall got away late and pulled out the 1st and 2nd. No wonder why those 2 smoke me at the 'cross races! Got a good couple of hours in on the road bike in the afternoon. Did the same loop I did the previous Sunday, but the temp was now about 10 degrees cooler than it was then. What a difference 10 degrees makes.

I've commuted all 3 days so far this week (Monday through Wednesday). I still hit the Tuesday Night Crit last night and felt farily fresh. it was a very-well-behaved group last night so kudos to all, especially the guys that always seem to be all over the place. Hitting the trails tonite so it's yet to be seem if I can do the commute a 4th day in a row tomorrow. Might have to cash in the chips and save something for the 3 day weekend.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekly Update - The Heat, training, and Lance

Weather had been crap for the first week after getting back from San Francisco. Rain, storms, sticky air. Miserable. I rode into work last Wednesday, only commute #12 on the year. When I left my house in the morning, it was 75 degrees with 94% humidity.
The ride home that afternoon was about 20 degrees hotter but nowhere near as humid. Still hot and miserable. The hair-drying-in-the-face wind was lovely to.
Hit up Joe's BBQ on Saturday. Rain came through but blew over just in time for the outdoor festivities. I only got in about 1hour on the MTB(paved trail/gravel road only) so I tried to make up for that on Sunday. Got in a solid 3 hours on the road bike and included 3 laps around Lake Quivera (Holiday Drive, up Quivera Rd to Johnson Drive, Johnson Drive west to Renner, North on Renner back to Holiday). Plenty of climbing on this loop. Nice and hot since I was out there at Noon. I managed to get the first 2 hours in with one bottle, but the last hour involved riding from one drinking fountain to the next. I might need to start some indoor workouts. Hard to get any high-HR stuff going in this heat.

Warning: the following is simply my opinion!
Lance winning Nevada City! Why race the Tour de Suisse with the rest of your Astana team and prepare for the Tour when you can stay in the U.S and beat some domestic pro's. He isn't expected to be a factor at the Tour anyway (my opinion), but he keeps dragging Levi to these U.S. races, when Levi should be in Europe. I'm guessing Levi will now NOT be a factor at the Tour either because of this. My prediction is that the Tour winner is in Europe now and recently done one of the more-traditional Tour prep races like the Dauphine, Swiss Tour, ect. Of course there is something financial going on here. Most of those 20,000+ fans would not have been there if Lance wasn't there. Almost as bad as ProTour riders skipping ProTour races in Europe to race small races in the U.S., Ben Jacques-Maynes got 2nd behind Lance and ahead of Levi. I'm sure come December, we'll see Ben take his Pro Road/Cyclocross hat off for a day, and somehow race (and probably win) the AMATURE Masters class at 'cross Nationals.
That's the end of my opinion.

Heat Advisory all this week is nice. With the SMP trails finally open, I've been desperately trying to get my MTB tech skills back on par. Been a few weeks so i'm very rusty. Been out there the last two nights and it's been a steam bath in there. That place seems to get rockier and rockier every time i ride there, or maybe that's just me and/or the hardtail and/or the heat. Hmmmm.
Went out there again last night (before the big storm came through) and finally got some good technical speed work in. The Niner is a handfull at slow speed but as long as you keep it pinned, things tend to smooth out a bit. After the rain I figured the trails would be closed today, so it was commute #13 today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

San Francisco

Nice to inhale some cool Pacific Coast air for a change. Flew out on Thursday afternoon into Oakland. Kicked it with Kristine's parents Rich and Carrol, and her brother Craig and his wife Kirsten. Friday we did a fantastic wine-tasting tour of Napa Valley. Saturday was the big BBQ at Craig & Kirsten's house. Lots of family members on Kristine's side that I hadn't met before. Everybody was great.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Going back to Cali , week in review, SMP deer problem

Heading to San Francisco later today for a weekend with family. MTB trails are a disaster here anyway and ME riding the road is a disaster. 4 days off will be good. I have 8 straight days of riding in since I landed back in the U.S. Only 1 commute in last week (#11 on the year :-( ) and none this week. Tuesday Nite Crit Practice was rain free but the pavement was still wet in spots. Very sketchy, guys barging up between other guys, half-wheeling, then indexing though turns. Very stupid. Then the car on course on the bell-lap between turns 3 and 4. If it was stupid before this, it was mega-stupid now. More than a couple cool guys almost came to grief. I did it on my 'cross bike. Staying in the pack is too easy on my road bike, but i'm not strong enough really to go off the front or get into breaks, so I need to make "staying in the pack" harder. Hence the cross bike. I typically don't put out good watt spinning a low gear so tying to hang in with a 42*12 highest gear is tough. Wednesday Hill Ride was rain free, amazingly. Did OK up the first 2 climbs until guys ripped it up near the tops. I like the Woodland climb but now the course goes straight further down Renner then west on Praire Start. Never really "raced" up the Praire Star climb since I live at the top of it and should at least cool down for 60 seconds or so before rolling into my garage. What the hell, who cares. I was near the front hitting the bottom of the climb, going pretty quick. Wasn't sure how this climb played out to know really how to go at it (unlike the Woodland climb). Teammate Joe used his gravitational advantage on the downhill approach and came flying by. For whatever reason I jumped on his wheel, then realized I needed to just sit-up and shut it down. Should have stayed where I was and just drafted right up it. Anyway, lesson learned for next week.

Shawnee Mission Park Deer: As most of you know, the deer "problem" out there is pretty bad. I love deer and love to see them. The real problem is with the Parks Department's lack of making any reasonable decision years ago when this issue first came up. I've already seen the end result of all this first hand. Last week while I was riding home from work down the Millcreek paved trail, I spotted a baby deer walking right down the paved trail towards me. I stopped and it walked right up to me and past me. Couldn't have been more than a couple days old. It was barely walking and was obviously distressed. No adult deer anyway which surprised me. The little guy just walked past me, I petted it on the back and it just walked away into the bushes underneath Shawnee Mission Pkwy. I felt like crap. It's parents died or were hit by a car, or they left it to take care of there other babies, or the parents got snipered leaving a bunch of baby deer to limp around and eventually die, get hit by cars, ect. I don't have the answer to this problem, other than a decision should have been made years ago instead of dilly-dally'ing around for 4 years, just to make the same decision. Now that hunter/snipers will be out there selectively thinning out the deer population, it might be a good idea to break out my old '80's day glow riding cloths. I wouldn't recommend anything brown. I sure hope these Park Department appointed Snipers have some common sense and DON'T shoot the 2 mature deer that have 10 baby deer right behind them. I think i'd lose it if I heard of that happening, but we'll all know it's happening as we see more baby deer stumbling around by themselves.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Giro Last Stage Time Trial

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2009 Giro di Italia Trip

WOW! What a whirlwind 2 weeks. We left on May 19th, and after lunch at TGI Fridays in Atlanta, and flying all night, arrived in Rome on May 20th with Brian (Harz) Roberts from Phoenix in tow. We proceeded to pick up “il monstro”, the giant Fiat rental van. I quick 2-hour trip to IKEA in Rome and we were off to pick up the first of 3 rental bikes, at the bike shop, La Maglia Rosa, in the beach town of Francavilla al Mare. Once we got the bike, it was off to the grocery store than up to the house. Running a bit late to get a quick ride in and we hade some cleaning of the house to do after it was closed up all Winter. Thursday I took Brian out for a 3 hour spin of the neighboring towns and up to the local cross-country ski area. Friday we got in another great 2-hour ride including the “Montazolli short-cut” which is only about 1km long, but hits 22% in spots. We then headed up to our favorite bed & breakfast in Tuscany, Villa di Sotto. Saturday we headed out for wine tasting and a tour of the Volpaia Winery. Then a tour of Brolio Castle. In the afternoon I took Brian out for 3 hours of some of my favorite Tuscany roads. We spent Sunday morning in Sienna where as most of you already know, I finally put a ring on Kristine’s finger.
Monday we drove down to Rome to pick up Scott and Katherine Elliot from Ohio. We picked up their 2 rental bikes at the bike shop and made it up to the my house in Roio del Sangro in time for a quick spin ride before dinner. Tuesday we got in a solid 4 hours of riding then heading down the valley to see the pre-Roman castle in Roccascalenga.
Wednesday we were off to go watch the Giro stage 17 in Pretoro. Pretoro is where the final 15km climb starts and we heading off to ride the climb before having a picnic back in town to watch the race come by. The stage finish was moved down the climb about 5km from the actual summit where I eventually made it up to. Several patches of deep snow and mud to contend with but I made it. Once back down to our picnic spot, the helicopters hovering just above hinting at the building drama. Once the promotional caravan was past, the race came flying by with all the favorites still bar to bar. Pellizotti eventually solo’d for the win. Lance put in a good effort to chase him down but ended up back in the field. Di Luca attacked endlessly but could never shake Menchov. We had perfect sunny skies when we rode the climb but thick fog moved over the finish area for the racers. We also saw an entire family of Cinghiale (wild bore) crossing the road just outside of Roio. 2 very-large adults with several babies in tow. There are extremely rare and not seen very often. Thursday we had a mishap with the rental van a had to spend a few hours getting a new vehicle. The new, and much smaller, rental vehicle made for an interesting ride back to Rome on Friday. Me and Kristine combined our 2 suitcases into one and left a lot of stuff at the house. We took Scott, Katherine, and Brian out for a quick sight-seeing tour of rome, including the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain before a great dinner outside in the Campo de Fiori. Saturday we heading out for the big 3: Collesium, Palitine Hill, and the Roman Forum. A quick rest and it was back out to walk over to the Vatican before dinner. Sunday we got an early start to stake out our spot near the start chute for the time trial. Easy at first, but it got harder to hold your ground once the thousands of tifosi moved in. Got great shots off everybody going off plus pics of Di Luca, Pellizotti, and Menchov coming into the final couple of KM’s. Menchov had his now-famous crash shortly thereafter. We had our last dinner Sunday night in the Piazza Navona before heading home on Monday. Endless memories, hundreds of pics, and met some amazing people.

Friday, May 15, 2009

THAT'S what i'm talking about!

Shawnee Mission Trails finally opened and it was game on. After riding the hour to work in the morning, then the hour home in the afternoon, I swapped bikes and heading out to meet up with Matt Dutcher, Damian Almanza, and eventually Brian Prosser. Got in 3 full figure-8's. First descent off-road ride since April 10th. I did get in a quick 30-minutes out there Tuesday night, but that was more of a recon to see how the trails looked. Those 3 laps probably did more for my fitness than the last month of road riding has. My body is just hard-wired for that sort of power transfer, and it never really responds or improves doing much else. Ended up with about 4hr's to total riding yesterday, so I obviously couldn't ride to work and back today. Crawled back home after the ride, crawling up the Woodland climb in the smallest gear I had, couldn't feel my legs anymore and had a big smile on my face about it. Got home to find my lovely Kristine had just picked up Chipotle! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. My BikeWeek total mileage ended up at just 65miles. Only 10 commutes so far this year, down from about 20 this time last year. Weather partly to blame but not completely. LOT's of just going on - all good of course.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Night Hill Ride

Boy did we dodge a huge bullet with the weather. That could have been very ugly, but fortunately everything just missed us to the south. Small group, most probably thought it would be a raging downpour but we didn't see a drop. Only about 25-30 in the group. The usually contingent of 20 Team 360 guys were absent, I found myself going over Lawrence Hill in the lead. I guess finally getting some good power work on the mtb last night opened up the legs a bit. Renner went about the same way. As long as I can role on the power at my own pace and build up the pace all the way up, I go OK. I'm not one of those guys that can go super-hard right at the bottom. I got up Renner in the lead with a couple guys tailing me and the rest of the group got popped, but they latched back on on the rollers before 87th. Head wind on 87th so not much there. Once on Woodland, I just did my normal deal, roll-on the power gradually till hit my my limit then just maintained it as long as I could. Legs were screaming at the top for sure,but it would have been worse if it had went slower at the bottom and middle than a hard acceleration towards the top. That crap kills me.

Nothing to see here......Move along.........

Not a whole lot to report. It seems like it's rained everyday since we got back from sunny Socal. I have 2 yards that need to both be mowed about every other day. The bugs and ticks are terrible right now (ask Kristine :-). A week or so ago, they had the official Grand Opening Ceremony at Black Hoof Park (Lake Lenexa). Very cool. They had a big fish tank there and the Lenexa FD and PD were out there. Kristine and I met up with Damian, Anita, and Aiden and walked down to the spill way. I decided to get some cross-training in and walked back with Aiden on my back. Very awkward and much harder than I was expecting. It was only about a mile, but it felt like 10. This past weekend I finally got out for a ride longer than 2 hours, ended up doing 3.5 on the paved trails with the pit bike. Been a while since I rode the Tamahawk Creek stuff and I found a bunch of stuff that wasn't connected together last time I rode it, very nice now. Only averaging 1 commute-by-bike per week still. This weeks Bike to Work week started off great, but then I chickened out with the weather forecast. The bad weather has yet to really materialize. Maybe i'm only a "fair weather commuter" anyway? Hey, I saw it ALL last year so i'm not missing anything. Next week at this time, I'll be in Italy, relaxing, riding, watching the Giro, enjoying nice wine with Kristine and entertaining Bella Vita's first customers. How is the Giro going? Ale Jet is back on top of the sprinting world, right where he left off. The "Killer" is looking extremely good. This is a big tour for him with several key stages in his home region of Abruzzo, and he's racing for the earthquake victims as well. Lance is looking great, considering he's been out of it for a while. He's doing a lot of work for Levi, so it was no surprise to see him get tailed off at the end of yesterday's stage. He's also doing some new pink wrist bands to support those effected by the earthquake. This is his first Giro and he's finding it much different that a TdF. Traditional, the Giro roads are narrower, twistier, bumpier, wetter, climbs are steeper, and there are about 50 fast-as-hell Italians ALL tying to be the #1 fast-as-hell Italian. At any TdF, you can count the number of fast French guys on one hand :-)
Last night, I headed out on the MTB for some paved-trail "fun". Rained off and on but nothing bad. I decided to look at the SMP trails and they were in great shape, so I Rambo'd and did about 45 minutes in there. Only a couple wet spots but I applied the "80/20" rule.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dana Point Gran Prix

While I was in Sunny SoCal for the weekend, we checked out the Dana Point GP. Floyd Landis was there but I don't think he's a crit specialist. He did draw TONS of spectators however. A former MTB team-mate of mine, Neil Shirley is riding for the Kelly Benefits team this year and was on the final 4-man break with a few laps to go. Unfortunately, Rock Racing went to the front on the final lap and set up Rahsaan Bahati for the win. Neil's hard work paid off since team-mate Alexander Candelario came in 3rd. Neil and I were team-mates on the Turner/Fantasy Springs team years ago. I caught up with him after the race to congratulate him.

Sunny Southern California

Spent the weekend in California relaxing with family and enjoying some perfect beach weather.

Any trip back to California has to start with a stop a Baja Fresh. When I first moved to the Kansas City area in 2004, there were 2 of them still here. Why they left is beyond me. We spent the day at beach, went out to Balboa Island, then headed to Kristine's Sister Michelle and Brother-in-Law Brad's house. Sunday we headed down to Dana Point for brunch at the harbor, then over the the Dana Point GP venue. Gorgeous area over-looking the ocean. Great family atmosphere and the Michelle 2 little ones had all kinds of fun.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Week in Review

After last weeks emotional car bomb seem to blow both legs off, it was a challenge to get them fired back up. Had a great group of people over on Sunday for some burgers, beer, and hotdogs. Finally turning 40 was sort off anticlimactic, since I've felt about 45 since last fall. Tuesday Nights Crit was fast but a little sketchy. I had no problem sitting it but bugged out with 3 to go. Legs were a bit heavy still after riding to work and back. I accomplished my workout and didn't need to see any more bar banging. Me and a couple other guys hung around and jumped in the B race to help it flow better and stay together. We patrolled around the group and tried to keep things more organized and helped draft some dropped riders back into the group. Mission accomplished as the group was almost intact for the sprint. Wednesday's hill ride wasn't too bad. I "managed" to stay in the front group all the way till my turn off at Woodland and Praire Star. I use the word "managed" loosly here 'cause it wasn't very pretty. I kept getting popped out of good position, then had to fight back on. Did this once on the first climb and twice on Renner. The Woodland climb stayed together all the way up till about 100feet before the top, then I was cooked and the anchor came out. Had visions of finally hitting some trails tonite but then woke up to some impressive rain this morning. The rain actually woke ME up. So much for riding off-road. Might as well hang that bike up. Heading to SoCal this weekend to see family. Watching the Dana Point Gran Prix on Sunday. Should be a good show with Floyd Landis there and most of the domestic Pro guys there. Italy trip is getting close. 4 weeks and counting.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lou 2/15/97 - 4/17/09

It was an extremely rough week for Kristine and I. Last Friday we said goodbye to Louise, our adorable little white Westie dog. She had developed complications earlier in the week from a combination of Diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, and Pancreatitis. “Lou”, as we always called her, was a feisty little dog, very funny, very cute and snug-able. Lou was very special.
Lou came into my life about 6 1/2 years ago through a strange set of circumstances, when I still lived in California. I hadn’t had a dog since I was a kid, and at the time, I did not want a dog since I already had cats to deal with. That all changed the very first day Lou came into my life. Not long after I got Lou, I left California behind and moved to Kansas. Lou made the long 24 hour drive with me. She loved to travel and sat on my lap for much of the trip.
Lou embodied all the characteristics you’d expect from a Westie. She was definitely a large personality in a little cute white dog. Everybody that ever met Lou said she was special. For the first 4 years I had Lou, she wasn’t exposed to other dogs, just the 2 cats I had. She was extremely active and chased squirrels around the back yard all day. Lou was my therapy dog, always there for me and she would always put a smile on my face during difficult times. One of those difficult times came about 2 ½ years ago. One chapter of my life had come to an end and it was Lou that got me through it. Little did I know how big a role Lou would be in starting the next chapter in my life. I met Kristine in January 2007. She loved Westies, loved me, and she loved how I loved Lou. Kristine had 2 big dogs and Lou was a bit of a handful around them at first. After all, she’d only been around cats since I had her, so she didn’t really know how to be a dog. She quickly figured it out and before long, she ran the show. Buster and Athena, are about 100 lbs and 40 lbs, while Lou was only 24 lbs. Size doesn’t matter with dogs.
It was extremely funny to watch her interact with Buster and Athena. If Buster got too crazy, Lou was right there. If Buster had a chewy, Lou was right there stalking him trying to steal it. Buster was afraid of Lou since Lou would often nip at him. Lou and Athena would cuddle up together when Athena was cold.
Lou was very protective of us. See would always sit on our laps or on the floor next to us. At night, she would spend part of the night on the floor facing the door. Lou had lots of funny nicknames that all have great stories behind them: Snap Dragon, Shmoodle, Squirrel Hunter, Cute Little White Dog. Lou was extremely happy. The sole purpose in a dogs life is to make its owner happy and she did that tirelessly.
Lou turned 12 earlier this year. She was born 2/15/97 according to her AKC paperwork. She was still active and very sharp but obviously slowing down. She didn’t show this much but we could tell. Dogs will often not show any signs that they are having problems. They do this so that they do not lose there place with the other dogs and to keep making their owner happy. They sometimes do this until it is too late. As dogs do with each other, they could smell something was wrong. She starting having a tough time getting up the stairs and became very lethargic. We took her into our Vet and they ran some blood tests. She probably always had Diabetes but she never let it show. We knew she had Cushing’s disease, but it hadn’t really effected her yet. The Pancreatitis had apparently developed recently and her blood values became extremely bad. She spent all day Wednesday at Aid Animal Hospital, were Dr. Rowe worked to get her numbers back in line. We brought her home that night and she really seemed to improve. She perked right up and her appetite was as good as ever. We were very happy and hopeful, and of course Lou was happy that we were happy. She was hiding how she really felt in order to make us happy and to show the other dogs that she was still in charge. Thursday morning we took her back in for more fluids, medications, and more blood tests to see if things were getting better. He hadn’t improved from Wednesday. We again brought her home Thursday night to be with us. She was very tired and could no longer get up. The harsh reality was beginning to set in that we would have to make that ultimate decision. Lou was a fighter and hadn’t given up. She didn’t really move around much Thursday night, but still pulled enough energy together to go over and take a chewy that Athena had. She couldn’t do much with it expect lay on it to show the other dogs that she still could. She still wasn’t ready to let go. A dog will tell you when it’s time. That time came early Friday morning. I cuddled her in bed for a while before I eventually had to leave for work. Kristine took her to Aid Animal Hosptial for the 3rd day. We both knew what was eventually going to happen but that hardly prepares you for when it actually does. I was not doing very well at work thinking about this and stepped outside for a moment to collect myself. That’s when the call came from Kristine. The hospital had called and Lou’s condition was deteriorating quickly. She was not in pain, but too weak to move any more and her breathing was very labored. We were both there, and Lou was happy, almost smiling at us. She even tried to perk up her little ears when I said “Squirrel?” We took her outside for a while and just held her. It was important that we let Lou know that it was OK to stop fighting and that she could let go. We both petted her and told her we loved her till it was over. This was the first time I have ever went though this and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Lou was a huge part of our lives and it felt like a piece of us left with her. Our Sun rose and set with her. Driving home afterwards, there was the most beautiful sunset. Lou wasn’t just a pet. She was a great friend. Time heals all wounds and time will heal this one. We still have 2 terrific dogs that love us both and we both love them. Buster and Athena are both going though the same emotions that Kristine and I are going though. A time will come when I will be able to think about Lou or see her picture, and it will only bring a smile to my face, and not the tears it does now. How long that will take is unknown, but not a day will go by that she’s not remembered.

I miss my little white dog
I miss my friend….