Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Boxing Day CX

Since the state races a few weeks ago, I've taken a nice 10 day break off the bike, and since then have ridden some easy miles to just get back into the swing of things. I decided to do the post-Christmas races this year because we will be in town, mostly just for fun and some good tempo. Plus next season will go into January, so I will have to be riding at this time next year.

It was nice to have the race pretty close to home. I got in a nice 1 hour spin to get to the course. Not too many people came out for the race. There were two of us, just Chris Hershey and I in the open, plus 5 more doing the cat 3 race. It was pretty cold, but the sun was warm and the wind was not too bad. The course was pretty short. I turned 4.5 minute laps for the first two, so we ended up doing 10 laps in under 50 minutes. The course was also pretty bumpy. Nothing too technical. I think it would have been a pretty challenging course if there were snow as there were several 180's and a handful of off-camber turns, but in the grass it hooked up well.

A couple more local races to ride to and race coming up this weekend. Sounds like a good run up on Friday!

Cold enough for shoe covers?

Catching some air off of the berm at the finish line.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

KS State Championships

Much like the MO State Championships the day prior, the weather was cold and windy in Topeka. Driving over, the temperatures never even got up to 30 degrees. Upon arrival at Hummer Sports Park, I noticed immediately that the course was going to have some major differences from the year before. The course now used and went around a long section of parking lot, the Start/Finish line area was a long paved stretch, and there were lots of long power sections, with a few off camber sections and run ups thrown in.

I found out before the race that my two main competitors for the day were not going to be at 100%. Shadd Smith was there but had been fighting the flu (I thought he was in Portland for the USGP). Also Brian Jenson was there, but he raced the masters 30+ race an hour before. I figured I would sit in for a lap and then try the same tactics as Sat.


Started fairly well. I sat in behind Shadd who took the holeshot.

Getting through some of the off-camber sections.
I sat in with Shadd and Brian for about a lap and a half. Brian attacked on the first lap, but we came back together almost instantly. Brian lead onto the backside of the Mound-of-Mercy, the hill in the middle of the course that featured a long off camber section that wrapped around into an tricky 180 corner. I realized that Brian was taking this section a little tentatively. On lap two, I attacked just before this section, and Brian continued to lead Shadd. I really powered through the mound area and opened a quick 5 second gap. There was another long power section right off the mound. I kept the gas on for about 2 minutes and had about 8 seconds when I got around to the S/F area.

Turning into the "Mound-of-mercy" area

Navigating the off-camber 180 onto the mound.

Short barrier before the long run-up on the mound.


Heading north, into the trees.
At this point, I just tried to maintain the gap and monitor how Brian and Shadd responded. It looked like they were working together a little, but the gap stayed steady. I was really working hard to keep them from closing the gap, but I felt pretty comfortable with all of the features around the course. Nothing terribly technical to screw up on.

Back onto the pavement

Down the mound. Tristan (sp?) bunny-hopped the barrier into the run up on the other side just after this.
I ended up extending the lead out to about 20 seconds, and Brian faded a little having already raced that day. So I got win #2 of the weekend. It was very cool to finish up the season on a high note and getting the State title. I was also given the "Most Aggressive Rider" prize by the promoter.

A few season ending thoughts: Lots of thank you's to people that have supported me this year. Thanks to my awesome wife who supports (puts up with) all the daily training, busy race weekends, travel, and sometimes nasty weather. Thanks to all the folks who stick around till the end of the day to cheer on the "Open" race. All the cheers and encouragement are awesome. Thanks to everyone that takes time to photograph the races and post them. It's been a great year, looking forward to an even better 2011 CX season.
Kansas State Podium

Monday, December 6, 2010

Boss Cross 4 / MO State Championships

When I first started cycling, someone told me the best way to get faster is to ride with fast people. In some cases, this may not be true, but I think it is generally correct. This is especially true in cyclocross.

Coming back from my first UCI races, I felt like I raced well, but I didn't race great. I did learn a lot about racing though. Watching the pros corner and accelerate, ride the tough sections that some chose to run, be very aggressive, start like maniacs, all of this was something that I haven't really experianced on a local level or even a regional Cat 2 level. The other thing is just making smart racing decisions. Don't try and ride sections that you can't. I think the key is figuring these things out before the race, then sticking to the plan once the race begins.

Anyway, on to the race. Many of the local heavy hitters are out west, but I assumed that the series leaders would be coming out. Unfortunately, it sounds like both Jeff Winkler and Jon Schottler were out with injuries. Meaning that I would win the series title as long as I finished in the top 5 or so. Josh Johnson and Dan Miller were going to be my main competition on the day. It was cold and very windy. About mid 30's, but it felt much colder.

On the start line. Dan Miller and Josh Johnson to my left. The start grid was tiny - maybe 42cm wide per box.

I missed my pedal for the first time all year, exacerbating my already poor starting ability. This meant I'd play catch up for the first two laps.

Moving up through the pack. Mark had a great start.

Movin' on up
 After a worse than usual start, and that is saying something, I fought my way up to the front of the race. I attacked just before the beach section (below) to take the lead. Dan went with me, but we had a gap back to Josh.
Taking the lead into the beach section.
 I decided I'd just push the pace, really punching things out of the corners into the headwind sections to hopefully not let Dan get too much draft advantage. It took a couple of laps, but I finally shook Dan off of my wheel and slowly widened the gap. I knew that Josh Johnson is a tremendous finisher, so I knew I would have to stretch out this advantage as much as I could to keep him away.
Once I got a lead, I quickly remounted and rode the run up after the barriers. I'm not sure this was much faster than running up it, but it saved energy and it made the descent much faster, since you didn't have to clip in over the bumpy descent. Thanks for the cheers guys! This was my favorite section to ride through. (Though I heard that there was some soccer-style heckling going on for our east-side racers. Remember to keep it classy everyone)

These two StL guys kept telling me I was going way too fast. Which was awesome.

On the bricks.

Getting a time check. I think I had about 25 seconds with 3 to go. It was great to have support all over the course.
 At four to go, my time gap to Josh and Dan was only 15 seconds and they were working together to bring me back. It had been about 20 on the previous lap, so I was not sure I had made the right move. So I really gassed it on the third lap and got another 10 seconds to put the gap at about 25. When I finally came through with one to go, I still had a 20 second gap to Josh, while Dan was a little ways back. I got my second local win of the year, also taking the Boss Cross series leader jersey.

Thanks to all who stuck around to cheer in the freezing conditions. A big thanks to JP Brocket for taking some awesome photos as well.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jingle Cross - Day 3

The last day of Jingle cross combined most of the hardest parts of Friday and Saturday into one course. Oddly slick sections on both ends of the course, plus a big climb and a big descent right into the side of a barn. I did like the course, but felt held back by my own lack of mad handling skills.

Right off the gun there was another huge wreck. I lined up on the inside for the first time and it was actually much better than I expected. In the cat 2/3 races i've done, the whole field collapses into the inside line, leaving the outside open. Here, people were using all of the course (but ended up crashing to the outside every race - I don't get it)

Friday night, I felt best on the climb up the back of Mt. Krumpit. I passed most of the people that I was with on that climb, so I was hoping that it would work out well for me again. On the first lap it was evident that I would not have the legs to be super aggressive here. After a couple of laps, things started to fall apart. I starting to catch Bill Stolte and feeling ok, but then I crashed hard when some of the course tape blew over and hooked my bars. I was totally not expecting it and last 2 spots to guys that I had past and was gaining ground on.

Then on the big descent I caught a weird line in the sand at the bottom and almost endo'ed over a hay bale. When I finally made it around to the finish line, I got pulled. It was only 36 minutes in. Ouch. This was probably for the best as I was not mentally "in it".

Anyway, still a good experience. Lots of things to work on for next year. Up next are the MO and KS state races.

Don't hit the barn!

Getting mooned on the run up. Apparently, there were $1 bills in there. I didn't notice.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jingle Cross - Day 2

Same starting position as Friday night - 4th row, on the left. There was another crash on the left just off the pavement that I managed to miss. The main additions to the course were a couple of crossings of a muddy ditch, a rutted section leading into a descent into the barn, and a long muddy run up.

I had to run around before the race to find a new RD hanger for my crux. It turns out that neither the SRAM guys or Specialized guys had anything, so I had to go buy one from a local shop. What is odd is that my bike is new for this season, but the Specialized guys said they didn't have any more because the hanger was an older style. Hmm.

I felt like I had a better race than on Friday, and I didn't get lapped, but I finished further back, in 26th.

Racing in these really fast races magnifies any weakness you have as a rider. I have struggled in the past with my starts, but here you hesitate for a moment someone will jump past. If you bobble anywhere in the first couple laps, you've lost a spot or more. Letting a gap open up to the rider in front of you will be very hard to close.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jingle Cross - Day 1

First Elite UCI race for me. The start was insane, I started on the 4th row, but after the first turn I got my front wheel taken out. I got back up and my RD hanger was very badly bent, so I pulled it back so it was at least ridable, then hobbled over to the pits.

At this point, I was in dead last. The back side of the course had a good climb and a technical descent. I heard there were lots of crashes and rolled tubulars on the switchbacks down the hill. Some of the ground was frozen and slippery too. I was feeling alright about my line down the hill, so I as able to catch and pass quite a few riders here. Otherwise, I just tried to be efficient and not spend too much energy. I ended up being the last rider to be lapped by Jaime Driscoll. He passed me just prior to the climb on the back of the course.

I ended up in 23rd out of 50+ registered riders, so that was ok. Hopefully today will go better.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Manion's CX II

I haven't gotten around to blogging about Manion's CX II yet. With JCR CX coming up this weekend, there have been lots of odds and ends to tie up before the race. As it turns out, all my tires sans my 8 yr old Michelin Muds are too wide for the 33mm UCI std. No worries, I got some brand new Challenge rubber that will fit the bill just fine.

In any case, Manion's turned out to be tough. All I had heard about V1 was how much climbing it had. I missed out on that weekend, but figured that this would be a good final tune up for JCR.

I thought the course was pretty cool. Very tough, lots of climbing, a few technical spots. The Le'manions start was kind of crazy, but fun. There is photo evidence of all the 1/2/3 riders smiling as we run off to get our bikes after the giant firework start bomb went off.

 Running is a good way to start for me. I was second to Steve Tilford onto the course. After a section into the wind, Britton took off and Steve and Shadd followed. They got a bit of a gap to me, Brian Jenson and Justin Grist. After another lap it was just Shadd, Steve and I. Shadd sort of slid out on a corner of one of the descents. Steve jumped and got a gap on me, then Shadd came back and we rode together for awhile until I slid out in the same corner as Shadd. When I finally got back together, Shadd had a good gap on me too. That was the race, in a nutshell.

Great, tough venue. Lots of good food and drink, and awesome rowdy fans.

Looks like the elite field for JCR is going to be stacked. Over 50 guys signed up so far. That is almost as big as some of the USGP fields. Should be awesome.

Monday, November 15, 2010

DeStad Cup

The St. Mary's course has been one of my favorites over the last few years. It often features a good mix of technical sections, power sections, and climbing.

This course had all the typical elements of St. Mary's. Cobbles, winding through trees, downhill barriers, bumpy climbs, some tricky ride ups, gravel, loamy grass. It was great. There were a couple of tricky ride/run-ups that were ride-able as long as you took the right line and kept your speed up.


Ride up

I got a fair start, was about 4th coming off of the cobbles. Jeff Winkler and Brian Jenson were at the front, so I worked hard to get up to them as quickly as possible. After about a half lap or so, I had made contact with them and was trying to figure out a game plan. Brian attacked by the baseball field near the end of lap one and got a little gap. I tried to follow, but couldn't match his speed.

Early on


Brian held a little gap to Jeff and I, but dropped his chain on the bumpy descent on the backside of the course letting us back on. He sat on for a little bit and then attacked again by the baseball field getting another gap. Istalled out on the ride up forcing a dismount and letting Brian get a little more time.

I led the chase back around the cobbles and into the barriers. Brian wasn't gaining too much time, but then over the barriers he dropped his chain again. I went by with Jeff in tow, thinking I needed to get us as much time over Brian as possible since he was riding very strong.

At some point just before the big ride up by the baseball field, I got a few second gap to Jeff. I'm not sure exactly where this happened, but once I noticed it I decided to just go and see what happened.

I've not had great races locally for some reason. Maybe it is lack of focus or something. I've just made lots of dumb mistakes with crashes or not being aggressive when I need to or just being complacent during races. Anyway, once I realized I was at the front of the race, that sort of went out the window. I was very focused on the technical parts of the course. I tried to power out of every turn. Ride smooth and fast over the bumps and up the climbs. No dumb risks.

No mistakes

Over the next couple of laps I saw my lead grow ever so slightly. With one to go I had a good handful of seconds advantage over Jeff, and Brian was trailing even further back. I was getting pretty tired by this point, but I made myself focus hard on one last lap of riding smooth and fast. No dumb mistakes.

Podium
I ended up winning. Pretty fun. Hopefully I'm taking some good form into Jingle Cross. Thanks to Chris Locke for a sweet course and some very nice pictures!

Grand Prix HPT

Last year this was one of the fastest courses of the season. I was looking forward to some of the same this year. Despite the rain, I was thinking that the course would be fairly dry for racing. Not so. It turned out that most of the course was muddy. The infield and the pit area had some really sticky mud. I saw quite a few people that had forks and stays the were completely jammed up with mud after their races. Watching the cat 4's run much of the infield, it was apparent that this was going to be interesting.

I didn't even bother pre-riding the course, I figured things would sort themselves out pretty quickly. Sure enough, before we were even half way through the first lap Steve Tilford went right to the front and had a huge gap out of the mud pit. By the end of the first lap, I was in 2nd with Luke Linnenger in tow and we had a gap to Jeff Winkler, Travis Donn and the rest of the chase group. Steve was gone, it looked like he was not having any issues with mud accumulation.

I pitted on the second lap, rode back to the grass and my derailleur sucked up into my cassette and blew to bits. I ran a few steps, then realized how far I still was from the pits. At that point, I decided it would be better to save my legs for Sunday.

I've been quite lucky as far as DNF's have gone, this was my first in 3 years of racing cross in the midwest. I'm guessing it has to do with how little mud we see for most of the season out here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joules Cross

Joules CX was on a new dedicated CX and grass track venue northwest of Lawrence. The course suited me fairly well, lots of elevation change and not too many technical spots. After a fairly moderate start, I was sitting about 8th.

On the first uphill section, I saw Shadd was getting a gap and Brian Jenson was moving to close it. I jumped hard out of the group to chase and we quickly had a sizeable gap. I dangled about 3-5 seconds off of Brian and Shadd for the rest of the lap, finally closing on a long uphill section before the start/finish area. I rode with them for about a half lap before taking myself out on a not-technical corner when I clipped a pedal. I also dropped my
chain.



Top of the climb - my leg is freaking out, apparently.

Brian and Shadd were gone, but I had enough time to get up, put my chain back on, and get going again and still be in 3rd. Bill Stolte was charging hard, but I decided to try and keep my gap as best I could since he was saving time by hopping the barriers. Paul Bonds and Adam Mills were just behind Bill but were battling each other, so they weren't closing the gap too much either.

So I rode the last 7 laps on my own and ended up being able to hold on for third. Unfortunately, my wreck took its toll on my knee, which looked like a grapefruit after the race. By the evening, I realized I shouldn't race on it Sunday. I was very pleased with my form overall on the day. Hopefully some fine tuning will have me ready for Jingle Cross at the end of the month.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Boss Cross 3

Janelle's family was in town for Boss Cross 3. Her little brother just started doing cross last fall, and brought his bike so he could race too. It was very cool. He races in the junior class in the Santa Cruz CA series, but I suggested he should probably race Cat 4s here since the Jr category is not too competitive.

He raced very well. After starting on the 4th row, he rode aggressively and made his way into the top 10 after 1 lap, then off the front on lap two.He continued to gain ground on the field, but then got a flat and ran half a lap to get back to the pit. I let him use my B bike, since I didn't have any wheels with 9spd, so he finished on a too-big bike in 17th.
On the front row
I got a front row start, but my slow starts continue to be an issue. I'm not sure why that is. I've only had one good start this season. Anyway, Brian Jensen and I were the chase group after about a half lap. Joe, Jeff, and Jon were ahead and were gaining. I was hoping to ride up to them with Brian, but he was dropping me on all the open sections and I would claw back up on the technical parts. Unfortunately, Brian had some bad luck with a broken shifter and a broken pedal.

All alone
This left me on my own for the rest of the race. With about 3 laps to go, I could see Adam Mills chasing up to me. I put in a little more effort to keep him away and that was it. I ended up 4th. The course was really fun., I liked it a little more than last years course.
Barriers plus sand
It was also cool to have friends and family on hand. I had my own little cheering section, which is always nice. It was also nice not to race in a huge dust cloud. Maybe November will bring some mud?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lou Uh Vul Weekend

Janelle and I headed to Louisville this past weekend for round 2 of the USGP Cyclocross series. This race is at a new venue - Eva Bandman Park - a dedicated cyclocross park and future home of Master's World Championships in 2012 and Elite Worlds in 2013. Many racers had signed up in preparation for these upcoming events, and in my race there were over 140 riders signed up for each day.
Upon arrival at the park and getting to pre-ride the course on Friday afternoon, a couple of things were evident: it was going to be very dusty (apparently Louisville is going through a drought), and this was going to be a very hard course. The lap started on a very nice long paved section, sweeping off the pavement to the left. You then hit a gradual 180, rode over a steep 2 ft berm and went immediately into the barriers. Over the barriers, there was a short straight section into a steep loamy climb that had some grass over sand. This would sap all your speed if you screwed around. Down the backside, you hit another gradual (and a little loose & dusty) 180. Then into a long but rideable sand section, past the pits, under the "green monster" fly-over, and back into a dusty tree section. Out of the trees, you had a moment on pavement and then through a deep sand run, another 180, then the "green monster" fly-over and stairs, past the pits again, then into the woods. Up a little climb, down a steep pitch, 180, then run back up, then down again, around, then ride up again back to the start/finish pavement.

For me, this meant 4 running sections. Essentially, the course was a series of obstacles with short "recovery" straightaways in between. Very tough, but also fairly short, 1.38 miles, around 5:15-30 per lap at race pace.

Saturday came and before I knew it, I was waiting in the staging area. I have always been impressed by the organization of the USGP races in the past. (Portland and Madison get it done right) However, I was a little disappointed by Louisville. Though I had registered 14th, I was seeded 30th, because the top 16 spots were given out to the local cross series leaders. That meant I was starting from the 4th row both day.  It may be a bad sign when the riders on the front rows are sheepishly looking around and saying there is no way they deserve to be up there.

This may have been ok, but one of the favorites (Jordan Cullen) who was also supposed to be in the 4th row managed to talk his way up to the 2nd row by trading places with someone. Jordan had some bad luck in Madison, but managed a pair of 4th places. He also took the holeshot both days up there. Another rider I was marking was Mark Parmelee, who won on day 1 in Madison, and was third on day two.


Also, they were running behind, so the officials informed us they were going to cut our race short by one lap. 


I got through the start pretty cleanly, and by the time we were over the barriers I was in the top 10 behind Mark. Unfortunatly, Jordan had already gotten to the front of the race and was not looking back. After the sand, the group started looking around at each other instead of chasing. So Mark and I squeezed through on the inside and took up chasing Jordan.

By the end of the first lap, Mark had gotten a little gap on me, and Jordan was still up the road, but we had solidly gapped 4th place. I was having a really hard time recovering between the obstacles. (This is probably the way all cross courses should be?) They were both physically and mentally challenging. I was not able to bring either Jordan or Mark back, but we did open up a 1+ minute gap on the rest of the field.

Because of the short lap times and tough course, I began lapping riders on the 2nd lap. Fortunately (for us), the officials were doing a good job of pulling lapped traffic.

So in the end, Jordan won by about 15 seconds, with Mark 2nd, and me about 5 seconds further back. 4th finished a little over 1 minute behind me, and there were still almost 80 riders on the lead lap. The race was quite short though, only 32 minutes.

Sunday the course had been lengthened just slightly. After the pits and going under the green monster, there was an additional pair of out and backs before getting back into the trees. Then after the sand run, there was a big loop in the infield added. Finally, in the woods, they lengthened the 180 into the run up from Sat, so you were able to carry some speed into it and actually ride it instead of running. This made the laps a little longer and provided a little more recovery between obstacles, which was to my liking. Another minor change was the barriers were moved a little bit back from the berm, so you could carry more speed into this section and over.

Basically the same scenario played out at the start. Jordan traded up two rows and by the barriers he had taken the lead. I was sitting pretty good at about 8th when we hit the first dusty section. Then, a rider who had been to the far outside cut inside hard and took out my front wheel. Maybe he forgot there were 140 people behind him? I don't know. Anyway, I got run over by a few people, then got back up and started going again only to have someone crash in front of me again in the sand. I got up again, ran out of the sand. By this point I was somewhere way back. Now there was only one objective: pass as many people as possible.

I went by the pits, but I noticed my gears were skipping quite a bit. It was not enough to need immediate adjustment, but it made shifting very hard so I knew I needed a bike change. I found Janelle after going over the green monster and told her I needed my other bike. A the start/finish line I found a couple of guys to draft off of until I could get back to the pits. I finished out the lap, and came back around to find Brad Cole and Joe Schmalz had set up a bike change for me. It worked out super smoothly and I was able to switch and come out the other side still with the riders I had drafted off of. Thanks guys!
Not out of the woods yet - Credit: Alex Edwards

I think I was in about 10-12th at this point, so I guessed the win was out of the question barring some disaster for Jordan and Mark. But I knew that third was still possible. I was really starting to enjoy the course and I was having no trouble catching people, sitting on for a moment, then jumping in pursuit of the next group. I tried to just ride as smoothly as possible and not take too many risks, and by the time we hit 2 laps to go, I had moved into 3rd. Listening to the announcers, I could guess that Jordan and Mark (who were riding together I think) were over a minute ahead of me, but I kept the gas on.

At the finish, Jordan won, Mark was second, then I came in 1:45 back, 30 seconds ahead of 4th. Jordan had a great weekend and is a nice kid. I will not be surprised if he continues to have success in this sport.

I was also pretty fun to watch the other races throughout the Day. Teammate Cameron had some good rides in a very competitive 17-18 Jr catagory. Shadd had a great ride on Sat in the 35+ race. Mark Savery was riding like a man possessed on Sunday landing on the podium in the 35+ race after racing at the front all day with some stellar competition. Tom Price had a great ride despite a bum knee to get on the podium as well.

Louisville is a pretty neat area. The waterfront area between Eva Bandman Park and downtown seems to have recently been developed or redeveloped. They have a very nice looking baseball park downtown, and they also have some permanent Louisvillle Marathon signage. I thought it this section had a very nice vibe. We actually stayed just accross the river in Indiana, which was also nicely developed in parts with some cool restaurants.

The organizers had some issues getting results from the finish line area down to the registration tent on both days. On Sat, it wasn't until the end of the day that results made it down, and on Sunday they finally got them at almost 2. The people in the tent really didn't seem to interested in making sure the prizes went to the right people either. It was in stark contrast to the helpful, timely, and organized staff in Madison. Hopefully they (Louisville) can learn from this year to make next year a little better.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Cross on the Block

Another day of Cross in Tulsa. My lungs and sinuses were worked over from Ruts N Guts, and the weather was hot. I didn't feel great, but I figured that would be the case for everyone in the group. There were tons of thorns on the course. Each time I rode a warmup lap I'd come back to find a dozen or so goatheads in each tire. I had Tufos and they had some sealant in them, so I figured that would be the best bet against flatting. It was another race with a pretty good payout, so many of the fast guys from last night stuck around.

I got a fairly good start, but screwed up a turn and stalled out about halfway through the first lap, getting passed by a bunch of guys. After some chasing, I got into a large chase group who were sort of looking around and were just not going all that fast. Bryan Fawley was gone already and this was the race for second. I sat in for a while, but decided it wouldn't be to my advantage to try and cover attacks out of that group. I thought my legs were pretty good, so put in a soft attack on a gravel section, then really went at the runup on the back side. This worked and I shed everyone except Jonny Sundt. He sat on me for a lap then attacked on a switchback and was gone.

Another dusty day in Tulsa


I still was feeling pretty good at this point. Jeff Winkler was coming up behind me and was gapping the chasers behind him, so I thought it would be good to go with him when he caught up. It was right about then that my efforts from last night and my attack really caught up with me. Every time I tried to stand up to accelerate, both quads would start to lock up. I've had troubles like this at the end of hard road races, but never in cross before. So Wink caught me and I just couldn't go with him. I stayed alone for awhile, trying to stay smooth and under control, but I really was struggling. Steve Tilford caught up from some earlier flats and just as he was going by we hear over the mic that there are 4 laps to go (Fawley must have just gone through the S/F line) Anyway, this was at 47 minutes into the race! I was thinking there would probably be 2 or maybe even just 1 to go when we came through.

At this point, the legs were in full shutdown mode. Steve rode away and I got passed by Tom Price and Ray Hall, a Tulsa guy. I could also see that Will Gault and Bill Marshall were coming up to me also. I finally got to the last lap, and was able to barely hold on for 7th. I also had both tires bleeding air pretty badly. My front tire was folding over on every corner on the last lap. My race time ended up being 70 minutes for 12 laps. Pretty brutal. Despite completely blowing up, the course was super fast. I averaged 16mph again, even with the last laps being as slow as they were.

One lesson is to bring tough tires to Tulsa, and bring some Stan's sealant. You could probably sell it at a premium to other racers if you were really entrepreneurial.

I was going to head out to the Boulevard Cup for some more racing, but i'm opting to save the legs for Louisville this weekend.

 Update: Thanks to the promoters who promptly sent me the results, which are now up on crossresults.com

Ruts-N-Guts

Ruts-N-Guts was a new cross event this year in Tulsa, OK. Upon arrival to our hotel across the street from the race, we could see sections of the course. From what we could see, it looked like several straightaways and 180s, back to back.

We went over to pre-ride and found a very unique setup. Very dry and dusty, some elevation change, stacked rocks instead of a wood barrier, and a flat (even more) dusty section that was likened to "riding on the surface of the moon" - a thick layer of super fine dust with hidden rocks underneath. Many people were getting flats from the rocks and thorns on the pre-ride too.

I was not sure what to think about the course. At first I really didn't like it. The other thing was the start finish area was quite narrow. Maybe good for 6 people across, but we crammed about 8-9 in each row for the start.

It turns out there were almost 50 guys in the 1/2/3 race. That is awesome. Plus there were a ton of fast guys. Even more awesome. I got staged on the front line thanks to pre-registering, and I figured a good start would be really important (and better for the lungs once we hit the dust bowl / moon section)

On the start Bryan Fawley and Jason Waddell took off very fast. I was third, probably my best start all year. I had guessed before the start that we would be turning sub-5 minute laps, and indeed we were going about 4:45 per lap early on.

I felt pretty good navigating the rock barriers. There were some right before a short incline that were ridable, but could stall you if you weren't careful. I hit those pretty well every lap except the second, where a few guys got past me, including Jeff Winkler and Shadd Smith. Coming back around to the other rock "barrier", Jeff clipped his rear wheel hopping it, which caused Shadd to have to bail. I was in the air going over the rocks as this is unfolding, so I had to rode over Shadd's bike (Sorry!).

The next few laps were a blur. I could see Steve Tilford was riding somewhere up ahead, but that he wasn't gaining ground on me. At some point, he and the 2nd place rider both got flats and I caught up to them as they were exiting the pits. Shadd came back up to us at that point too, but quickly rode away and got a gap. So I battled with Steve until the last lap. There were two descents on the course. Both were fast but you had to pay attention because you could easily screw them up. Watching Tilford descend them both on the last lap was pretty awesome, he was flying. He passed me on the first one, then I clawed my way back up and passed him back on a climb. But on the descent into the finish he blew by me again.

It turns out that Steve, a Tulsa guy, and I were reeling in Shadd and the 3rd place guy for the last several laps, so on the finish we came in almost in a bunch. At the end though, I ended up 6th. I needed to be just a little more aggressive at the finish, but I think that I pretty much left it all out there on the course, so there was probably not much more to be done. (unless I can learn to handle like Steve)

The podium - there was even a mini stair for 6th.


Overall, the course really started to make sense after a lap or two at race speed. I think the race promoters could have done a few things a little differently to make the race even better. It would be cool to bring in a good race announcer. And they could add a real set of barriers, perhaps right after one of the 180's on the moon section.

Next up - New Cross on the Block. We heard the course was going to be much different (very open and fast), but also full of thorns. Update coming soon.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cross Out Cancer

Not too much to say about this one. Basically, it wasn't a great course for me. Lots of turns and not many places to open up and get a good rhythm.

I ended up getting an ok start, then started going backwards. This culminated with me hitting my head on a tree branch hard enough to dent my helmet, then getting super tangled in course tape and having to stop to get it unraveled.

The first of three barrier sections on the course

I was hoping this race would be a good tune-up for heading to Tulsa this weekend, but instead I just rode the second half pretty easy and will hopefully have fresh legs heading into the two Tulsa races this weekend plus possibly doing the Boulevard cup as well for a triple header in prep for the Jingle Cross UCI races in November.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Boss Cross #1 and #2

Boss Cross 1 & 2,
Riverside, MO -

I know the Parkville course got rave reviews, but last year I had bad luck at the Boss Cross races last season, so I was excited to hear about the change of venues for this years races.

Saturdays course looked awesome and fast. The course was mostly flat with some very fast transitions to keep things interesting. There was a short sand run, hill barriers, and then some awesome fast barriers just before the S/F line.

There was a very deep field that showed up for the race, the Tradewind crew was out in full force, KCCX was represented well (though without Joe, Adam or Shadd), plus the Columbia duo of Josh Johnson and Jon Schottler. On the start I got stuck behind a crash on the first corner of the race. I chased up with Bill Marshall to about 7th position over the rest of the lap, and then came in to the fast barriers really clean. I don't know exactly how I pulled it off, but on the remount I managed to hit myself in the nuts very hard, endo, and roll my front tubular all at once. (I morbidly hope that someone got a video of this, cause I bet it looked fantastic)

Anyway, the pits were just around the corner, so I crawled over there and contemplated dropping out. Since I had a spare bike (but no spare nuts), I continued on (very gingerly). I had lost about 15 spots and was now sitting around 25th. The next couple of laps were still pretty painful, and I wasn't riding with much urgency or desire.

Photo I "borrowed" from Jon Peck - Awesome shot!


Finally about 5 laps in I got a second wind, if you will, and made a hard charge to see who I could catch. This was actually quite fun, as I was catching people in groups, going to the front of the group and riding on. By the last 3 laps, I was going full speed again, and made my way up to 6th place for the finish. I was pleased by my recovery, but bummed I couldn't have contested the race a little closer to the front end.

Sunday the course was reversed, plus there was an addition of some more sand. This course was also pretty fast, though probably not as much as Saturday because the transitions were a little trickier. There were now two sand sections, while one was pseudo ride-able, the other was now a must to ride. Again, a strong field in the open race, though the Tradewind guys opted for some gravel riding instead of the race.

To replace my rolled tubular, I borrowed a set of carbon Reynolds wheels with Challenge tires from Bill Marshall.

I got a much better start and was sitting in 6th for most of the first lap behind the KCCX train of Jeff, Tom and Bill, and the Big Shark guys. Through the first sand section, Winkler rode it while everyone else got a bit bogged down. I made it through with Jon and Josh, while Tom and Bill came out just behind us.  Josh and I gapped Jon a bit, and we took off in pursuit of Jeff.

Josh was going really strongly for the next couple of laps, I would catch up to him, then he would just open up a bit of a gap through a technical section. It went like this for a couple of laps, with Jeff abount 15-25 seconds ahead of us. In lap 6, I passed Josh coming out of the first sand pit and opened up a little bit of a gap. I saw that Jeff was on cruise control up ahead, but I tried to put in a good effort to close the gap. Josh was back on my wheel quickly, but I tried to just go my pace and hope that somewhere I might lucky and get a gap. Unfortunately, on the second sand pit I had bad exits two laps in a row, and on the second time, Josh passed me for good and put in a huge surge to put me away.

Jeff went on to win comfortably, Josh got second comfortably, then I was third with Tom, Jon, and Bill coming in just a little ways back. Overall, it was the fastest 'cross race I've done yet (Just over 16 mph avg for me).

Hats off to the Boss Cross guys for putting on a great event. A big thanks to KCCX for hooking me up with a set of awesome wheels to race on.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

USGP Madison - Day 2

Day two in Madison brought some changes to the course, which were much to my liking. A couple of pictures from my Garmin Edge 500 computer will say it best:

USGP Madison Day 1 Course

USGP Madison Day 2 Course
The course Saturday was technical. It seemed like every time you got a good rhythm going, there was another very technical section to weave through. Sunday flowed much better. The really tight sections had almost all been removed. The twisty tree section now followed an open grassy section, and was also uphill, making it more of a power obstacle than the fast technical section it was on Sat. The only part that may have been a little tougher was leading into the run-up, you had to ride down first, pull a 180, then go back up with zero momentum. Overall though, the changes put a big grin on my face. While the course was about 200 meters longer then Sat, my lap times were faster on Sun.

During my pre-ride, Bill Marshall gave me some good advice on the lead into the run up - run down too. It totally made sense. I did that on every lap, and afterward people were telling me they planned to do the same for their races because it looked much faster. Thanks Bill!

Ok, so on to the race, I somehow showed up late to the call-ups, so I had to beg to squeeze up between riders on the 2nd and 3rd rows. I think they started staging early, because the winner from Sat, Mark Parmelee, was nowhere to be seen. In fact he showed up even later then I did, and had to squeeze in as well. Today, I lined up on the left after getting pinched on the right yesterday.I was a bit frazzled after showing up late, but Ty Henson bailed me out by grabbing my warmup gear for me at the start. Thanks Ty!

Off we go! The race started and I got out like a banshee. By the time we hit the grass I was sitting pretty in 5th postition. Over the barriers I moved up to third. By the time we hit the new open grassy section, I was in the lead and not looking back. Through the trees, around the pits, down the bomber hill. By the time I got to the run up, I had a bit of a gap to second place, probably 2-3 seconds. I screwed up and crashed just before coming back through the start finish line, but had enough time to get back up and get going before loosing any spots.

Through the second lap, I saw that Mark and a Clif Bar rider, Jordan Cullen, were keeping me close. Probably within 5 seconds. I kept on the gas, tried to be smooth and keep an eye on the chase. I felt really solid and the course was just making sense. I almost wiped out again in my favorite place to crash on the course, but kept it upright (though turned fully perpendicular to the course).

On lap three, I got the feeling that the chase was slowing, so I really tried to open up the gap this lap. It worked, I turned my fastest lap time of the day, and the gap was now 40 seconds.

Thanks to a fast first lap, we got to do 7 laps today compared to 6 yesterday. With two to go, the gap was steady, and I was starting to navigate through some lapped traffic, which went smoothly. I focused on riding clean and was able to go fast on the fast parts and relax in the others. It felt good to battle back for a win.

Some other race weekend items of note:
  • It was fun to hang out with the Lincoln crew for the weekend, and it was awesome to have race tips and support from other KC crossers. One of the coolest things about the big out-of-state races is bonding a bit more with other area riders, regardless of differing teams. 
  •  I have really enjoyed using my Garmin Edge 500 this season. My favorite feature is the "Auto Lap" setting, which automatically takes splits for each lap. This is really helpful in 'cross because after races, you can see how the race unfolded by the numbers. Plus you get great GPS maps as well. This has been a great training tool for me. 
  • The Crux is a noticeable upgrade from the Tricross. The front end handles so much better, I've especially noticed this in technical sections, where the Tricross was more of a "pull the front end around", the Crux is more "point and shoot". (ps: Todd Wells is already riding a full carbon Crux - and not the current Tricross-Crux, a real one. It looks awesome. I'd imagine some site will have photos soon enough)
  • Thanks to the Clif bar rep who gave me a free box of shot rox and some clif shots upon learning that I got second place on Sat.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

USGP Madison - Day 1

Fall has arrived in Wisconsin. A few weeks back, it seemed like it in KC, but muggy has returned in our neck of the woods. Friday was a very scenic drive from KC to Sun Prairie, WI. There was a very strong tailwind the whole drive east, so after Des Moines, I made great time and got great mileage as well.

I arrived early enough to get in a good hour on the course Friday with Andy Lucas (360 Racing). Things looked good, the course had some rough spots but things got smoother as we went.

Race day, it was a chilly morning, maybe 50 degrees, but also some wind, and very dry air. The warmup was one of the first rides I've done in awhile where I was not even sweating.

I set up shop with the Lincoln crew: Nate Woodman, TK, MOD, Jeff, and Randy. Thanks guys!

I didn't feel mentally sharp this morning for whatever reason. I kind of drifted around the course, then staged. Last year, Nate Woodman and I started in the 7th row for this race and worked up to 4th & 5th. This year, I was in the 2nd row, which I thought would be much better. After receiving final instructions, we waited eagerly for the gun.

BANG!

Wow, bad start. I probably was 20th or worse off the pavement. Why? I don't really know - I think the guy in front of me and to my right were the slowest starters in the group. (I was mistakenly thinking someone on a custom frame would go gangbusters - nope, I lapped him later on.)

Anyway, even so, I somehow was not in race mode until we got over the barriers and saw how strung out the field was already. I suddenly got super aggressive - which is not how I usually race, but it worked - I was moving up well. Nate and Troy told me that I was going by people like they were in slow motion.

At some point, I heard over the speakers that Mark Parmelee was at the front. Not good - he won both of the 2/3 races here last year. By the end of the second lap, I had moved into 2nd and was closing within 10 seconds of Mark. After this I would bring back 1-2 seconds per lap, at most. With one to go - Mark still had 5-6 seconds, and we were getting into lapped traffic, so i was hard to stay full gas if you got trapped behind someone.

At the end, that's how it ended up, I finished 5 seconds back for second

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hermann - Cross Under the Lights (Water)

Hermann has earned a reputation as a great event. Night race, stairs, great promoter, tough MO+KS field. JB and I decided to head out this year to see what this race was all about. We decided to rough it for the weekend - camping out at the course with the My Wife Inc. team. We got there and found that our camping spot was perfect, right across from the registration shelter.

After signing in, we got a couple of laps in on the course. It was going to be a very good one. Nice long starting section on pavement, flowing turns behind the ball-field, and some long open sections plus first barrier led into the stairs. Then back towards the Start/Finish line, through the sand pit, and into the more twisty section of the course. Over 4 mini-barriers to hop/ride/run. Then into the backside of the course, a few corners that you had to be a little careful through, and over the second solo barrier. Around a few more trees to complete the loop back onto the pavement. Overall - one of the better courses around.

As the 3's race started, clouds were starting to form in the distance. The lights came on, and things were really starting to get interesting. Lightning started up north, and by the time my race was about to begin, the lightning was all around us, but still in the distance. The official (Buddy) said that if the lightning got any closer, they would have to shorten the race, so listen for the bell, because that would be one to go.

I got to line up in the 2nd row on the edge. As we got ready to go, I felt a few drops of rain, and guessed the storm was coming. The race started and I got a good start. Immediately, we saw there was a van on the course coming straight at us! Brakes squealed, someone crashed, everyone slowed up and looked around wondering what just happened. We got called back, everyone grabbed their same spot, and we started again. Another good start. I slotted in about 6th off the pavement. Two riders almost took me out, and I slid back a few spots. Then the rain started coming down. The whole field was pretty much single file all the way through the first half of the course and stayed that was through the second half. We wound around and a few people slid out on the corners. I felt pretty solid but was hesitant for whatever reason.

We hit the end of the first lap and the bell was being rung - last lap! Everyone went crazy at that point. FULL gas - I was holding down 6-7th spot through the stairs. We got through the first half of the course without much incident - but on the 2nd half there were a lot of wrecks. I kept things upright and tried to take advantage when I could. Apparently, I was going too slow for Josh Johnson (Big Shark) who tried to get around me twice only to crash right in front of me. Whatever. I easily went by him at the line for 5th, the last payout spot.

By this time, the rain was in full effect and the lightning show was spectacular. There was wind too. We had dinner in JJ's pop-up trailer. When the rain finally subsided, I decided to set up the tent. The grass was very wet, but the sandbox next to the trailer was draining very well so I set up there. The rain started again right after I got the tent up - and after two more hours of really heavy rain, lightning lighting up my tent, thunder shaking the ground, and my tent threatening to blow away. I heard voices outside and saw flashing lights. So I looked out and saw that the river was flooding and there was now water up to the wheels of the pop-up. I got another workout in by running with my tent up the hill, then going back to help out with the other stuff. The water continued to rise fast, and soon the pop-up was abandoned, and we packed our wet stuff and went to higher ground.

It was now 2:30 and we are all wide awake - adrenaline going. We got all organized at the nearby gas station and were humored by some local "wit". After having a very amusing conversion with the KCCX guys about their now partially underwater trailer, we re-organizing our gear, shaking and wringing out some water, and watching the flood from across the street - then we found a parking spot for a few hours of shut eye before heading home.

7am came quickly, but it was eye opening to see what used to be the course. The water had subsided back to a swollen river leaving just wreckage behind. Another team had lost a GMC SUV and a trailer that had been up to the roof in water. Silt, garbage, and fish lay strewn about. But oddly, much of the course tape was roughly in place.

Overall, it was nice to leave only wet and tired, but unhurt and with all our gear. There are more important things in life than racing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall

The first day of fall is about one week from now. September is one of my favorite months. Despite being a season better known for harvesting and signaling the end of long days, I think of newness. This probably has to do with the school year; with it's fall beginnings.

Perhaps my favorite thing to do this time of year is train really hard. One of my favorite memories from College was showing up at school one week early, and running twice a day with the cross-country team - getting our feet wet with dew in the mornings, crunching on leaves in the afternoon, running fast on dusty trails. The campus was deserted, except for a few other atheletes, and there were no classes or homework to worry about. It was an idyllic time, like a week of running camp - except your free time was your own.

So why the affection for training hard? After building fitness all summer alone, it was always great to come back and turn yourself inside out with teammates. Those days have past, but still the feeling lingers. When the winds begin to change and the air gets crisp - there is nothing like ripping some intervals, going really fast, and having it feel effortless, natural. To me, the fall is the crescendo of the season's training. All the slogging in the winter, the long miles of spring, the heat and humidity of summer, all of it comes to this. The perfect time to ride really hard.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Crux

The new 'cross rig: Specialized Crux

September is upon us. The weather has suddenly turned beautiful and 'cross practices are well underway. I've put in a bit more "trail time" this year, trying to improve my off road handling skills that become so crucial when the weather turns nasty.

I'm excited to try out the Crux in actual race conditions. It steers a bit quicker and is more sure footed than the Tricross was, though it is a bit heavier. The main difference is the front end is very stout. The tapered head tube and steerer make it feel almost Tarmacian in its handling. And yes, that is a good thing.

A more detailed review after some racing!

(This is not the final spec for the bike. For one, those shorty 6's have got to go!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Buckner Burn

It was exciting to see a team time trial category at a local race. One of my favorite parts of racing in college was the TTT. We had one each weekend of the college season. TTT's are challenging because all the riders need to balance their efforts off of each other and communication is critical. It's not easy to hear inside an aero helmet either. When all goes well though, it is a thing of beauty.

The course was different for the ITT and the TTT. The individual TT was raced on the 10.1 mile "short course" while the TTT would be contested over the 17.5 mile "long course" which added two long (for a time trial) climbs.

My day began with the non-aero "Merckx" category individual TT. Arriving at the course early and warming up, there was a dense fog over the course. So dense was the fog that just riding through it soaked the skin and it made glasses impossible to see though. The early racers plunged into the fog and were quickly out of sight. The Merckx category was the last to go, so by the time I started, the fog had mostly burned off. The course started on a highway with a nice smooth shoulder, then turned onto rural roads. It was fairly rolling terrain the whole way through, which I enjoyed. I tried to ride conservatively for the first 3 miles, then pick it up after that. I caught my minute and two minute men and quickly came up to the finish. The last mile was all downhill at about 1-2%. It was pretty fun to blaze through the finish. In the end, the top 3 spots were 10 seconds apart with Kent Woermann getting the win, me in 2nd, and Adam Miller 3rd.


Our TTT consisted of Greg French, Kelly Ricke, and I. We had done a quick TTT practice run earlier in the week to get used to riding fast in close proximity. The tough part about this course was going to be the climbs and descents. On climbs, the strongest riders can really hurt their teammates by climbing too strongly. On the descents, the most efficient way to go is rotate very quickly to keep the speed high. Our team did a really good job trading pulls, communicating, and not destroying each other too much on the climbs. The finish was again very fun, I think we crossed the line going ~40mph. Afterwords we all agreed that it was much harder than we expected, but also super fun. It turns out that we did very well, but got second overall; about 25 seconds off of the first placed team.

It would be cool to see Kansas or Missouri add a state championship TTT event like Washington and Oregon have. You could even put it back to back with the State TT, as a Sat/Sun time trial weekend. I would guess that it may even bring a few more out to the State event.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August

Not much going on right now in cycling terms. I've had a few weeks off of the bike while on vacation in Canada and then the Pacific Northwest. It was great to be back in the PNW, but coming back to the humidity and 100+ degree heat index for the last week has been rough. Riding has felt pretty terrible so far as well.

On the upside, I got my order placed for a 2011 Specialized Crux frameset. I also built up my S-Work Tricross. Hopefully lots of off-pavement riding in my future!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Road Review

My road season is essentially over, with possibly a few more races before I start to focus on the main event, cyclocross.

Looking back at this year on the road, there are a couple of things that stand out. The first thing I noticed was how very different the quality of fields are in the various 1/2 races. In the lower categories, with possibly the exception of Tulsa Tough, the fields were relatively consistent in terms of how hard the races were. In the 1/2 races, however, this is not the case. Big races definitely attract much, much stronger fields. Small races like the State Criterium and the Joe Sheehan RR were no more difficult than Cat 3 races, while Joe Martin and the Tour of Lawrence were brutal.

Also, it was interesting to finally witness some true team tactics coming into play during races. Again, in the lower categories, this is not as evident. Riding as a guest with the Mercy Elite Team was a crash course in riding for a team and protecting a GC leader. Definitely a highlight of the year.

Third, it was nice to see my own fitness coming along as the year progressed. At some point we all reach our full potential in terms of fitness. I've been creating my own training plans, and was not sure that would be enough this year. They seem to have worked out, for the most part, so that was a good sign. Lots of things to work on though, as always.

Overall, the season has gone well. I didn't do as well as I had hoped to do at some of the bigger races, but I did underestimate just how hard they were going to be. I learned a ton, met some great people and racers, and had a lot of fun as well.

Tour of Lawrence

After the Tour of Lawrence, I bailed to Canada for a week of R&R. So I'm finally getting back to this now.

Leading up to the race, it looked like nice hot temps, but as we got closer, the forecast called for rain both days. I'd anticipated these races to be the hardest two of the year for me. I was looking forward to the challenge.

As we drove to the course on Saturday, we drove right into the storm that had parked itself over Lawrence. At times on the highway I could barely see but for the taillights of other vehicles.

By the time we got to the race, the worst of it seemed to be over, but apparently a lot of debris had fallen on to the course in some sections, causing a delayed start for the Women's elite race.

By the start of our race, the rain had come back, and riders nervously were letting out air in their tires in preparation for slick conditions. I got a fairly decent starting position on the second row.

The very first hard 180 corner, people were slamming their brakes on, and I noticed I was sliding quite significantly. I saw one rider slide into the barriers here, then around the corner, many more were crashing to the right side of the road. Somehow I slid through, but there was another wreck to the left. At the bottom of the big descent, there was a hard left, and another rider slid out here. By the time we were to the first of the two climbs on the course, there had already been about 5 crashes that I saw, and the field was completely strung out.

I was not feeling good about the race at this point. I got in a small group for the rest of the lap, only to have the leader of our group slide out after the descent on lap 2. The front end of the race was completely out of sight now, so I was content to get another group together and ride tempo. I finally got into a group with Adam Mills, Jason Knight, and Matt Baugher and thought I would ride with them till the finish. Just as the roads were starting to dry out, and our little group picked up the pace a bit, I broke a spoke. At that point, I rode back to the feed zone alone, borrowed one of Adam's wheels (I don't think he knew about this), did a lap and got pulled. (Despite other pulled riders getting placed, I somehow was put down as a dnf)

Somehow, I managed to get sick between the Circuit race and Sunday's criterium. After driving over and warming up for a little while, the mind and the body were in full revolt. Despite the course feeling much better than Saturday's even though it was again wet and raining, I decided to just go home. The fact that I even considered not starting told me I was not mentally prepared to race that day.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sense from Chaos

"At this level, you don't have time to think, only react. If you think, you've missed it." -JB, after I completely missed the sprint in my first 1/2 race.

I’ve come to realize that there is always something to learn on the bike. In races, there is often so much going on, that the only way to figure out what just happened is to look back and reflect on how the story unfolded. It is very easy to postulate and wax poetic about something before it happens. You can analyze and prod, look at all the angles, predict the most sensible outcomes. Even so, things never turn out the way even the most prophetic would expect.

As I learned in physics, formula and equations only work in a vacuum. Reality is far too complex to enumerate so simply.

And so we race. And after, we try to make sense of the chaos.

Tour of KC

The 2010 Breakthrough Tour of Kansas City featured some really enjoyable stages, very hot and humid weather, and some strong fields. I skipped the Friday race at longview lake due to a late start time and to save the legs for Cliff Drive.

My first KC area race was at Cliff Drive in 2008. It is a fun circuit race, features one steep, winding climb plus a shorter gradual climb, a fun and technical descent, at just under 3 miles per lap.

The Pro/1/2 race was about 50 miles in the heat of the afternoon. I struggled to drink enough during the race. I tried to get into some promising looking moves, but nothing that I was in stuck. I was far too ambitious early, and was feeling the effects of my efforts plus the heat about half way through the race. After hanging in the group for a few more laps, I realized I was not going to be able to climb with the group any more. I rode two "cool down" laps with Matt Baugher (epic) then pulled the plug.

Sundays race, Power & Light Criterium, was a fun, very short (~.5mi), course. It only goes around one downtown block over the Interstate, which is pretty neat. Corner 3 and 4 are super fast at the bottom of a little hill, but the course is wide open so you carry a ton of speed through the bottom half. I got there early to volunteer with Janelle until my race. We corner marshalled at the super fast corner, which provided great views of the action. Our race went by surprizingly fast. At about half way through, Nick Coil (Tradewind Energy) and Jeff Hartman (Big Shark) had already lapped the field. In the final laps, things got even more chaotic. Somehow, I ended up in a small group off the front of another group. We got lapped again by Nick and Jeff, and we lapped Brian Jenson (Tradewind) and Brad Huff's (Jelly Belly) group. Thus, the sprint involved people on three different laps. I really had no idea where I was overall, but guessed that I ended up 10th. (Actually, when the dust settled, I was 8th.)

In all, it was a good weekend of racing. Up next: The Tour of Lawrence.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Beginning

Welcome.

I intend to use this blog to share race reports, product reviews, and training epiphanies - through the lens of a west-coaster living in the heart of the midwest.

Enjoy!