Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rationing topics

Yea, there's not much going on, so I have to ration out my topics. I'm sure you don't want to hear about my time (or lack thereof) on the trainer anymore than I do. If you think golf is boring to watch, try watching a guy on a trainer. I'm not sure what that makes me, since I'd watch either over Nascar.

Anyway, I promised a rehash of our PC trip, and here is the (not-so) abbreviated version. I waited too long, and have forgotten half of what occurred. All I know is that the snow sucked. Absolutely blew. It was icy and slushy and rainy the entire time we were there. Well, at least until the day we left then there was 6" of fresh snow. I really wanted to stay another day, but it would have been big bucks since our condo rental rate tripled since Sundance was starting. I heard some people rent out their house for Sundance, and make enough money to pay for the mortgage for an entire year. That's a pretty sweet setup, but I'd bet they had been there for a long time and had bought the house when it was a more reasonable RE environment.

Every house we looked at (and the one we stayed at) was about 1.2M to 1.5M, and for about 2400 sq ft. Of course, we were in nearly a perfect location, but still, that's around $700-$800/sq ft. Tony and I had a conversation about this, and both agreed something has got to give. I also noticed that for "just" another million, you could have a hella bad-ass house, something that was actually worth 2.5M. Like 6500 sq ft, impeccably finished, and some land.

It won't be but a couple of more years and the real estate in some of the mountain towns (Park City, Jackson, Breck, etc) is going to have to correct. I think price corrections haven't happened as much in these areas because a lot of people have these as 2nd houses, and would rather sit and wait it out, than take a beating by selling now. So maybe they'll offer it for sale, but it'll be on the market for months.

Someday we'll get one, but I think that someday is a long ways off, plus I think I'd rather build something up. So few people have our tastes! Maybe I just need to save for a few years then go buy 10 acres in the foothills outside of Denver. We can sit on the land until we're ready to build. Or sell for a profit in case things don't go as planned. That's a whole 'nother discussion for a different day.

Wow, that was a long way around talking about the PC trip. I guess I'll recap AB's trip, since it was his first trip to the mountains. AB got pretty bored on the two flights to PC. I'm glad they were short flights, because he was going bonkers. Thankfully he crashed on the shuttle to our condo, because he was a worn-out little dude. I will mention that he was disappointed it wasn't a SPACE shuttle. Funny guy.

Well, we all fought sleep waiting for the Marek's to arrive from Orlando. They had a non-stop, but it was still a LONG flight. Yuck. It definitely is advantageous living in KC for the reason everywhere isn't too far away. Once their space shuttle pulled up, it was great seeing them again, and AB and Max quickly got wound up again (as much as they could). We tried putting them to bed, but as we were all retiring a few minutes later, Julie peeked in on Max only to see him uncomfortably scrunched to one side of the bed and AB was snuggled up to him fast asleep. This setup was in spite of the the fact they had each had a whole bunk bed to themselves. Max wasn't sure of AB, and that was way to close for comfort. HA! Max went back to his parent's room at that point, and then AB came and got me out of my comfy bed and I had to go sleep in the bunk bed with him. I was tired enough it didn't really matter at that point.

The next day started out with all of us waking up relatively early (on CST and EST in MST). We herded everyone the 1/2 mile walk to PC Mountain Resort, and got the boys in ski school, picked up my great Burton Custom snowboard rental, and we all hit the slopes. We had an awesome time, despite the crap snow. No one wiped out too hard, although Penny did wipe out a bit more than she usually does. I did also notice that riding was a bit easier without 35 pounds of body fat, and I didn't feel quite as tired at the end of the day. I did have a few good wipeouts myself, but there were nothing more than just a couple of flips from getting lazy and letting the nose of my board drop into the snow, which then acted like a giant leaf spring and flung me in the air. I bet you can guess what Penny's favorite part of the trip was...

AB did a great job in ski school, and by the third day, he was "shredding" the mountain. The first run he did with Penny ended with her in a full tuck trying to catch him as he was hauling arse down the mountain. The boy has no fear. Good! We negotiated having him follow Penny with me behind AB in case he fell. That worked out great, and everyone went fast enough to have fun. It really makes me proud seeing him ski so well so quickly. I was impressed.

AB was also feeling quite competitive this trip, as he kept calling out Mr. Tony on various challenges. The first was eating as many pancakes as fast as possible, then it was shredding down the mountain, and then it was Uno. Kieran is going to have a wild childhood trying to keep up with Aiden, that's for sure.

By the end of the trip, we were all ready to call it good, even though the new snow was so tempting. We had great flights back only to drive in the snow "storm" in KC, and it took almost 3 1/2 hours to get back to Kieran in Lee's Summit. That made for a long day, but it was good to be back in our beds. The end. ;-)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pics and vids from Park City

Here are a few pics from our trip to Park City. I'll write something up in a bit, but enjoy these for now.

AB skiing, day 3:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Occasionally I post things I say I'm going to post

Like this video, for instance.  Yes, it was every bit as cold as it looked.  Kudos to the race promoters and all my fellow racers for such a great event.

Monday, January 10, 2011

And that's a wrap

The 2010 cyclocross season has came to an end for me and much of my KC brethren, and what a great season it was.  I've learned more than I can possibly describe/list out, and I'm trying to process all of that, plus identify what my weaknesses were that I can work on starting in August.  It's best to think about what worked and what didn't following your last race, as opposed to remember back through the haze of summer into the last time you remounted a bike in a race.

Yesterday's race, the Grote Prijs, which I constantly misspell, was terrific in some ways, and humbling in others.  I had a great fan club cheering me on, despite the COLD weather.  I really can't say enough how much I enjoy having my family out there.  I hope that this helps the boys see how important it is to stay active throughout their lives, and that once high school/college is over, they don't have to go into work/eat/sleep mode.

Ok focus, Chris, back to the race report.  Ahem.

This was the first race I DFL'ed (at least I think I did, I haven't checked the results yet).  But I also finished the race, and stayed upright which a lot of people did not.  I rode pretty good, although I still have lots of core work to do, as my back got tight about lap 5 of 12.  Once my back gets tight, my hamstrings get tight, then the only way I can put power down is with my quads, and they get tired pushing me around quickly.

I felt my race performance was actually ok.  My power wasn't quite there, and I need to work on some technique on my remounts at speed.  The field slowly pulled away from me, but then again, I felt ok because it wasn't like I was way over my head either.  I think that next season, if I work hard over the next 7 months, will be a fun and successful campaign for sure.

Once I hit the last lap, and all hope had faded of bridging up to my teammate Jon Sink, I took a few beer handups and tried a pitiful bunny hop over some beer cans on the course.  Not my typical style, but it was time for some fun!  You can only be serious so long, and although I am competitive at heart, I need to relax a bit on the course and not be too hard on myself.  My team captain, Britton, is trying to beat it into my head that to be a good cyclist takes a long time.  Years. 

I know what I need to do, now I just need to do the work to reap the rewards.

Here are a few pics of my bike yesterday, and I'll have a video as soon as I get it uploaded.  Everything on my bike was frozen mud.  It was everything a cross race should be, and I hope I can get a few more races in next season in conditions like this.  It was great!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grote Prijs on Sunday.

Do or die; now is the time to have a great performance.  Last cyclocross race for 9 months, and it's supposed to be around 30 degrees and a little snow.  Sounds awesome to me.  I'm going to turn myself inside out for this one, and not worry about pacing.  Smash the pedals (while ankling too)!

While most of KC will be watching the Chefs get pummeled by the Ravens, here is what'll be going through my mind at 2:01pm:  "Churn those legs.  Oh man, this hurts.  I think my heart is going to explode.  Make those corners tighter.  Don't be sloppy.  Push it.  Push it!  Your remounts suck, need to work on that.  C'mon, bridge that gap.  I don't think I can.  Bulls#it.  Push it.  Last race.  Make it count. Arg this hurts. Am I going to have 50 minutes of this?  Is someone on my tail?  Jesus the open guys are fast."

Hopefully the open guys won't be lapping me at 2:01, but you get the jist of it. I'm a mental chatterbox while racing.  As I get better, that should come down a lot.  Kinda like when you get better at golf.  The internal dialogue slowly fades.  The less there is, the more "in the zone" you are.  I could use some of that.

I can't wait.  Even if my cx bike is still sandy from last weekend, I'm ready to go right NOW.

Grote Prijs Flier 2011 Final                                                                   

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Getting introspective

I didn't make any resolutions for New Year's, because I think that if you want to resolve something, don't wait for an arbitrary date to do it.  That being said, getting introspective was not a resolution, just something that jarred loose out of my frontal lobe while watching "The Cyclocross Meeting".  The basic premise of this highly entertaining "documentary" was that despite the vast cultural differences, US racers and Japanese racers throw down all the same, and enjoy the same "sub-culture of a sub-culture".

Whilst watching the movie, I got to thinking, "So self, why do you race?"

I'd be very interested in hearing answers from any endurance athlete.  For me personally, it came to light as I was talking to one of my teammates the other day during a ride, and I told him "I race bicycles because I'm terrible at it".  Not meaning that I'm just awful at it, but it would seem that there isn't anything in the universe lined up that would lend any sort of successful bike racing career to me. I'm built more like a boxer than a wispy cyclist, for one thing.  Even as I've lost a lot of weight, I still look more likely that I could throw down in an MMA cage than sprint for a victory in a crit.  Both would be sweet, but I think the crit victory is more likely, and it's a ways away still.

I got to thinking even more about it, and asked myself why I started now.  I'm 34.  No spring chicken.  Only Lance and Chris Horner and Steve Tilford are older than me.  Ok, that's obviously not true, but those guys had been racing since they were teenagers or younger.  I dabbled in MTB racing when I was 23 or so, but then rode my bike maybe 4-5 times a year until something inside stirred last fall and I decided to start racing again.

First cyclocross, then triathlons, and now road racing.  These sports take incredible sums of knowledge to perform well in.  Fortunately, I'm quite capable of being a voracious learner/reader when the subject suits me.  But I have to be just that, a student driven to excel.  I don't have the benefit of just riding around and picking up things as I go.  I have limited training time with two kids, an athletic wife, and too big of a house to take care of.

Somedays I wish I was one of those guys on the team that are in their mid-20's, DINKs (dual-income, no kids), and ride 5+ days a week.  You can afford to make mistakes and crash and blunder your way to becoming a great racer by the time you're 30.  Not so much for me.  So I'm always asking questions.  Always reading.  Always trying to figure out a way to maximize the training/recovery cycle so I can be stronger next week than I am this week.  Maybe that's a challenge I like.  I like it because I'm not SUPPOSED to be doing something like this.  Most guys don't typically have single-digit body fat, love the pain cave, and dance the cyclocross shuffle in snow and mud and hell on the weekends.  We beat the hell out of ourselves because to sit in a cube 40 hours a week then veg in front of the TV is to die a slow terrible death.  Reality TV is where you turn it off and go outside and do something you've never done before.

I don't intend to have life happen to me.  I want to grab hold of it.  Have great stories to share my grandkids.  Make a stranger smile.  Leave this Earth a little better place than it would have been without me.

Man, it's a good thing I wasn't drinking some beer before I started this post.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Well that wasn't so easy...

First race of the year, and it was pretty hard.  Actually, the race was easy, I was just a mess.  My legs were really flat, and I don't think I've ever been dead last coming down the initial straight.  I'll just tell myself I was taking it easy (right).

The course, like I said, was pretty easy.  Very flat, lots of tight twisty stuff, a couple of ride-able sandy sections, and the occasional ice patch with dudes and chicks hitting the ground like it was the secret to 80 degree weather again.  I think if I had been feeling a little whippier, I would have really liked the course as it should suit my typical "power" game.  "Power" is in quotes, because it's not a strength per se, it's just the least weak of my weaknesses.

Anyway, the race was 50 minutes, so that's 20 minutes longer than the 4 race.  Surprisingly, my back didn't tighten up, but I was a bit more careful to stretch out my hamstrings before the start.  I tried to warm up well, but I'm not sure if I accomplished that or not.  I also decided to embrocate, which I think I will keep in my backpack until the next cold and WET race.  If it's just cold, I'll stick to leg warmers.  Maybe next season I'll get a fleece-lined CX skinsuit.  Anyway, I have to admit that I did start a bit slower on purpose, mainly because I didn't know what kind of engine I was going to have for 50 minutes, and the fact that there was only 10 fellas in the Cat3s.  I think getting the hole shot is only useful for glory and if there are more than 25+ racers or so.  FYI to the non-cx'ers, hole shot is where you win the sprint on the opening lap straightaway.  It can be a wonderful thing to have, especially in Cat4s, where invariably dudes will come in way too hot and overcook the first grass corner and crash, causing massive losses of skin and bike parts.

I passed a couple of guys, and then battled with Edward Smith for a great majority of the race.  He was racing his 2nd race of the day, so I really had no excuse to be suffering like he was.  Eventually I pulled away from him, as I could see he was tired, and seemed to be burning a lot of matches.  50 minutes is a long time, and maybe that will work to my advantage as I do like to add some strategy and have fun while I'm out there.  In the Cat4's and their 30 minute race, all you can do is hammer and try not to make mistakes.  There just isn't enough time to assess your situation and work it to your advantage.  By the time I cleared Edward, it was halfway through the last lap and Jon Sink (6th) was out of sight.  I had just been lapped (it's been awhile since that happened!), so I just held my position.  I will remark that the Open guys (eg. FAST) were on the course at the same time as us.  I could often feel someone behind me in the corners, and then whoosh they were by me in a hurry.  Maybe someday I'll be able to run with those dogs, but I gotta get a handle on the 3's for now.

TCPC represented very well, with 6/10 guys in the Cat3 race, it looked like a group ride.  We took 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th.  I was in the middle at 7th.  7/10 doesn't sound that great, but I was fairly happy with it.  I'm starting to make a list of things I want to put some attention to before next season starts.