Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hello stranger

Things have been pretty busy around here, with Christmas, traveling, training, child-rearing, guitar playing, and reading.  I'll recap best I can, because it'll be time to go back to bike mode for the next few posts.  Even my grandparents were saying that there is too much bike stuff on my blog.  I had to reply that bike stuff is what is usually going through my mind.  So sorry, but I'm obsessive like that.  Anyway...

Christmas was a grand spectacle.  I stopped by my Mom's house on Christmas Eve, then went over to the in-laws' house with my Mom for some appetizers and drinks.  We all went to church, which ended up being short-lived because K wasn't in the mood to sit still.  I called that one.  20 minutes later, K and I are leaving to go back home because he's being a two-year-old and I'm not getting anything out of it anyway.  When everyone got back, it was time to open some presents, eat some soup, and then head back to our house.  The next morning Penny made some awesome breakfast bake and coffee cake, and we opened Santa's presents and our gifts to each other.  We then drove to StL to have Christmas there and have the big party that night at Ma's house.

I met a family friend that races CX too, so that was fun talking "shop" for a little while.  K had been sleeping like complete crap (which killed our sleep too), so I didn't have a lot of energy to stay up late and throw back the brew.  I'm hoping in the next year that K will be easier to manage, both day and night.  That kid wears us out.  It's good he is so cute and ornery, otherwise I would have sold him at a Turkish bazaar my now.  Seriously.

AB got a guitar for Christmas, and I think I've been playing it more than he has.  I've always thought it was cool, and since my rediscovery of Dave Matthews and his acoustical sets with Tim Reynolds, I've had the hankering to learn.  I just wonder how my fingers would hold up.  My hyperkeratosis is pretty sensitive, and I have a feeling I'd have a bloody guitar in no time.  Kind of a bummer.  Maybe I'll try it anyway.

I'll end this post now, as to not sully it with bike chatter.  That'll be tomorrow.  Hehe.

p.s. my legs are tired.

p.s.s.  Speaking of DMB and guitars, here is AB rockin' out...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Well that was easy.

It's official, I'm now a Cat3 cross racer.  No more fat guys and meat shields to beat up on.  Not that I was thumping them that solidly anyway.  I figured I had more to learn racing 3's than I will racing 4's.  Cat4 is technically the beginner class, and with 10 races done, I think it's time to move on as well.  I'll just go out there and hammer best I can, and see what ends up happening.  I have two races left where I'll race 3's...January 2nd at Epic Holiday Cyclocross and January 9th at Grote Prijs.  That's 50 minutes of blood, sweat, and lots of tears.  Hopefully it'll be eyeball tears and not muscle tears.  Silly synonyms.

Wish me luck...

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's not that cold

...yet.  Park City Mountain Resort has already gotten a load of snow this year, and I'm wishing we had a bit more here in KC.  No sense in being stuck inside with cold weather and not being able to get the only upside of winter (IMHO), snow.  Well, no bugs is nice too.

In the last week I've gotten sick and then well again, had my back try and go out and then mostly heal up, and got my new road bike built up.  The bike is great fun, I rode it yesterday for about 30 minutes and enjoyed being able to go flying around with great ease.  I will say it wasn't *quite* warm enough for shorts yesterday.  I'm going out again tonight on our Colavita/Parisi recovery ride, which ends at McCoy's.  It's a fun ride and it always feels good to stretch the legs and get to see everyone at a more casual venue than races (not that those aren't casual for most).

*30 minutes later*

Sorry, I got distracted and forgot what else I was going to write.  Talk at ya later!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Steep-and-Cheap mailers

One of the best parts of waking up is having Steep-and-Cheap email spam in my mailbox.  Maybe I shouldn't call it spam, because I signed up for it, and it would be one of the last auto-delivery emails I'd ever block.  Steep-and-cheap is a e-clearinghouse for all sorts of outdoorsy stuff, from camping gear to bike stuff to snowboard stuff.  But the deals aren't what amuse me so.  What I love is the little stories that come out each day.  It's almost as though I type them myself.  Here is today's entry, which even strikes a bit of a personal note with me.

"Celebrating one's own birthday is a bit odd if you pause a moment to consider it. After all, you did very little that deserves celebration on your own birthday. You basically just showed up and let other people do all the work. Celebrating this event is pretty self-serving. In an ideal world, the birthday celebrants would be the mothers who gave birth. They'd give a toast to not being able to drink wine for 9 months (x) amount of years ago, and then they'd get free drinks all night at the bar. Sadly, this is not the case. Ultimately it's just another example of how giving mothers can be."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Random bike-related thoughts

- the UPS man is bringing my new bike tomorrow.  I predict I will be going to bed at 2am Monday night because I'll be building it up after the boys get to bed.  Vanity pics forthcoming.
- I've been trying different sweet spot training intervals, and they seem to work well.  At least I feel good.  The idea behind them is to hit the point where you are getting an appropriate amount of exertion, while only necessitating the least amount of recovery possible.  You could go harder, but then you'd have to recover longer.  Ideally, you set your training up around your recovery times.  You get stronger during recovery, not during training.
- Penny made a bread pudding for my birthday dinner.  It was awesome, but after eating I feel like I ate 40 pancakes.  I'd eat seconds if I wasn't concerned for my personal safety.
- I'm solo with the boys for a few days.  Good luck to me.
- It's quiet in the house, and time to go train (SST 3x15).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Don't watch this unless you race.

You so totally won't get anything what they are saying.  Speaking of which, Penny told me that my cyclocross posts use too much jargon.  Maybe I'll send out decoder rings.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kansas State Cyclocross Championships race report, as promised

Most of the day Saturday was spent catching up on a few things around the house, and wondering how sore my legs were going to get.  Perhaps more importantly, how sore were they going to be at 11:00am on Sunday?  Fortunately, not that bad.

Sunday marked my first trip to Topeka in FOREVER.  It's seriously been like 20 years or something like that, so I had no idea how long it would really take, as immediately after the race I had to book it home and get to AB's first basketball practice.  I'd hate to miss that.

As I pull up to the course, I don't see much elevation change, which obviously I like.  I couldn't see that much though because a) the morning coffee was trying to punch its way out of my bladder and b) the course was LONG and strung out.  Very spectator unfriendly, I think, but so was the 21 degrees of cold we had to contend with.  I chose to wear the same thing I did on Saturday, thinking that even though it was colder, it was less windy so shoulda been a wash.  I was pretty close to right, although I chose to wear my snowboard gloves instead of my awesome-to-35-degrees Giordana gloves.  That was a great choice, because once your fingers get cold, it's all over.  For your fingers at least.

I headed over to the Natatorium and get checked in, pee, and get some terrific coffee.  It was so great, I drank it black which is pretty unusual for me.  I immediately head back over to the car, get out the snowboard gloves, helmet, and shoes and head out for a leisurely pre-ride, making mental notes of the trouble spots.

I found two.  Once was a little S-turn on some off-camber grassy area, that looked pretty easy to overcook it coming in and wash out and get tangled in the orange safety fence.  The other was coming off the Mound of Mercy (not that bad, really), and then you had to take a hard right before the pits.  Not technically difficult, but more than a few people blew that turn.

The course was pretty flat, and was suited to a power rider, which seemed to be me somehow.  We had a small field of 19 (smallest field I've ever raced), and I laid it down as hard as I could.  I guess that's the point.  One thing I've learned about myself over these last 10 races is that I never go hard enough.  At least I feel like I don't.  The course had you go a long way to the north, around some buildings, and a few sketchy corners with acorns.  There was also a couple of sections of zoysia that sucked.  It felt like riding with your brakes on.  I decided to hit that as fast as possible just to get it over with.

We had a 30 minute race, as opposed to the 40 minute race the day before, so I just buried the needle deep and held on.  I came off the start in about 12th or 13th, and passed a few riders before tailing an Emporia guy and finally passing him to move into 8th.  Pretty nice indeed.  I held on until halfway through the last lap, when I must have slowed down due to my back tightening up.  Last I saw I had at least 10 seconds on him, and then all the sudden he was on my ass.  I just kept the hammer down, until the last turn off of the grass and onto the pavement for the 500' finishing stretch.  I tried feebly to sprint, but the legs looked more like question marks than exclamation points by then, so I relinquished my spot.  Notes for next time/off-season training!

9th of out 19 isn't something to write home about (I guess that's what I'm doing anyway), but it was another strong effort, a good race plan, and a successful day.  I was pretty happy all in all, so now I have 4 weeks to train until Cross off the Old Year (12/31), followed by Epic CX (1/2) and Grote Prjis (1/9), and then a big bear slumber (until Feb 2011). 

Monday, December 6, 2010

MO State Championships

Saturday, December 4th, 2010.  Riverside, Missouri.  33 degrees, winds out of the north at 15mph, just like the weatherman advertised.  Dang, it was cold.

I love this venue, mainly because it's flat.  Riding at 84kg (you do the math), hills are not my friend.  Well, at least the uphill part.  Downhills are cool.  I guess that makes me "frenemies" with hills.  Yes, ok, that was lame.  100 lashings.

So I get to the course about 90 minutes early, which is perfect to get a pre-ride lap in, and then to get pinned-up, jaw jack a bit, then hit the trainer to get the legs loose and the blood flowing.  The last thing you want to do is to toe the line completely cold and your muscles don't want to move.  I smartly pre-registered, which got me a call-up to the 2nd row.  Jeremy, the race promoter, called up the 2009 State Champ, and then the Boss Cross and Bubba Cross (St. Louis) race series leaders, then all the pre-reg guys.  So I'm in the front 3rd of a pack of 40 dudes all clad in lycra and shivering.  Yea, that's a weird image, especially to non-racers.  Hell, it's still weird to me and I wear a one-piece unitard and prance over barriers with a -10 wind chill out.  Cyclocross has been called a sub-culture of a sub-culture.  I can see why.  Anyway, I digress.

The USAC official blows the whistle (or whatever happened, I can't remember) and off we go.  I'll put this bluntly, my starts suck.  I'm a big dude, and should be putting down big power and stomping the twiggy boys off the line.  But I don't.  So that's something to work on over the next year.  I have a few guys pass me, but I pass a few as well, and off we go.  Round and round the course.  40 minute race, and it sure feels it.  I'm having a great time though, which is unusual for me in a race.  I'm hanging with the usually faster-than-me-teammates Jake S. and Matt O., so I'm pleased as a pickle and think if I can hang with them for the duration, I'll place pretty good.

So in my state of delight, I decide to launch off of a small dropoff where you went from asphalt to the grass.  KA-BLAMB!  Something slammed hard, I figure I didn't get my rear wheel all the way in the dropoff, as I'm apt to do because I always change wheels with the bike in the air like someone who has never done bike maintenance before and thinks they are cool and can get away with that.  Yea, that plan works great until your fat-arse shears off your axle or hoses your dropouts.

But I keep pedaling, and then the bike starts making a hellacious noise. I'm getting mad, because I feel like I'm kicking ass, and if I have to DNF due to a mechanical, I'd have an aneurysm so hard I'd spray blood all the way over to the Argosy.  It sounded like my hub had shelled itself (nice, that'll be cheap to fix), but I noticed it stopped when I was in the big ring.  So in the big ring I stayed.  That means no little ring to spin your legs out on the climb.  It was mash mash mash on the pedals...stomp on the pedals!  C'mon Frank the Tank, stomp stomp STOMP.  Fortunately, like I said there wasn't much climbing, so I probably ended up going a lot faster than I usually do.

Somewhere along the line, I got ahead of Jake, Matt, and a couple of other guys.  I'm wondering how long that is going to last, because Jake can flat hammer, and Matt is a strong road rider, so he'll pass me on the paved parts.  I think I was ahead for a couple of laps, then by lap 5/6, everyone in that group of 4 had passed me, and had enough gap to where I didn't have the engine to bridge the gap.  I held steady, and felt like I had a solid race.

30 minutes later or so, results post up.  I'm thinking I was 10-15th, somewhere in there.  Ah no. 22 out of 37.  WTF?  I didn't know what to make of that.  Someone said the StL guys were bagging it up, and maybe a couple were (as if there aren't any KC baggers), but I was still surprised.

I'd still call it a successful race.  I felt good, rode strong, and identified some areas to work on.  I hate those races where you have no idea why you did so bad, so you aren't sure what to work on.

Kansas State Championship race report coming up tomorrow.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The pain train cometh

So THE Weekend has arrived, and I have to primo race events this weekend.  Once again, I'm not nearly as prepared as I had hoped, but we'll throw what I have against the wall and hopefully beat a good chunk of people.  I am interested to see how the legs will recover/respond on Sunday.  They probably will feel pretty good, until I have to start digging deep, which is about 3 seconds after the start whistle.  Should be a fun day.

But at the end of the day, I'm racing.  I'm upright, healthy, and throwing it down.  I can complain (obviously) about not having enough saddle time/sleep/good nutrition (pizza tonight), but the more I race, the more I realize it isn't a fitness contest, especially in cross.

Sure, there will always be hammerheads I can't keep up with because they are pushing 6.0watts/kg in a Cat4 race, and I'm pushing about 2.2watts/kg.  But I can certainly keep that gap tight by doing a few things...

1) Start better.  Make people pass you.
2) Stay off the damned brakes.  Frickin' roadies are always lockin' em up every corner, so stay away from them.  You can't be fastest if you are perpetually slowing down.
3) Rail the corners, trust the tires.  If you are going to crash in any cycling discipline, cross is it.  I've crashed twice hard this year, and the worst that happened was a partially rolled tubie and a elbow missing some skin.
4) Dig deeper, hurt fiercer, and make people work.  When you are hurting, they are hurting.  Hit them then, and will your place in the race.
5) Find more meat shields, especially on Saturday. 15mph out of the North, 35 degrees.  Sunday should be better, 7mph out of the north, 31 degrees.  Time to bust out the embro!  Or leg warmers.  Hmmm...

Have a great weekend, and keep me in your thoughts as I embrace my Cat4-ness around Riverside, MO and Topeka KS.