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.