Monday, November 28, 2011

Jingle Cross Weekend

Jingle Cross was pretty awesome this year. I haven't been able to make many big races this season but Jingle CX was an easy choice. Janelle's family was in town for Thanksgiving, but they were willing to come up to the race as well.

Friday Course:

Friday was a perfect night for cross. The wind had died down and it was about 50 degrees out. The main obstacle of the night was the long run-up
Podium Insight Photo
Running up Mt Krumpit on Friday night
I didn't get a very good start as some guys started to drift into me on the gravel section less than 100m into the race. I stopped pedalling for a second and was immediately in last place. From there I just tried to get by people as best I could. The run was actually going pretty well for me which gained me a spot or two for the first couple of laps. About halfway through I rode up to a group of 5-6 guys, hung out for a lap then ran past them all on the hill. I ended up in no-man's land for the rest of the race, which put me in 21st overall. It turns out the guy ahead of me was a junior, so he got removed from the USAC results.

Saturday course:

This was a real CX day. Raining all day, windy, and a very muddy course. We went up the hill the way we rode down the night before, but it was only half-way rid-able for me before enough mud accumulated that I would have to run the rest of the way. There were two other sections that were rid-able the night before, but were now faster to run. Even the descent was faster to run down. This was pretty fun and made for some good highlights.
Saturday start

Up Mt. Krumpit

The first lap on Saturday down Mt. Krumpit

The second lap down

Somewhere in the middle of the race. Sorry to whoever I hit with my wheel, that almost knocked me over though!

Fun in the mud

The other run-up by the bleachers.

Up the climb near the end of the race
I haven't had too many super muddy races in KC - so it was a blast to race in the mud again. My Challenge Limus tires were the perfect rubber for the day keeping me upright throughout the day. I had a good day and ended up 16th.

Sunday course:


Sunday it was still muddy, but of the accumulating type. The course featured the run up from Friday, plus a new descent down the hill that was rid-able but challenging. People were losing derailluers all day from the grass and gravel that would get into your drivetrain and completely stop things up. Janelle and Ryan (brother-IL) were my awesome pit crew that provided me with clean bikes every lap, so I just had to focus on getting around without putting myself on the ground. It was a big advantage to get a clean bike since the mud added a couple of pounds to the bike. I was feeling pretty worn down from two days of hard racing, but felt like I rode well despite the fatigue. I ended up riding with Dan Miller from Columbia for the last couple of laps until we got pulled from the race. It seemed like we still had quite a bit of time before the leaders were coming through, so this was a surprise, but they do tend to pull people early in the C1 UCI races. So I ended up 21st again. I'm very content with how the races played out and with my fitness so far this year.

It is hard to believe that Nationals are still over a month away. Time to get really focused for this final stretch.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tulsa Weekend

Tulsa races were pushed back to November this year. Last year they were in October and were some of the hottest of the year. This time they were more windy than anything else. 25+ mph both day with stronger gusts.

The big money race, Ruts N Guts was on Saturday this time, which meant the Friday night race was pretty conservative, with people hanging in big groups and looking around at everyone else. The course was pretty awesome, wide open on a driving range. The front half of the course featured a hill with some barriers at the top into a fast descent that caused the group to string out every lap. The back half was a little more twisty with some off camber turns around bunkers and such. The grass offered great traction though, so the only way to screw up was to clip a pedal coming out of a corner. Last year there were also a lot of flats from goatheads and other thorns, but the promoters did a great job of picking courses that didn't have those this time. 

Anyway, so after the first lap there were 7 of us in the front. I felt pretty ok in the group, but being at the back was pretty hard because anytime anyone at the front would attack the whole group would get super strung out and yo-yo. I finally went to the front near the end, and probably should have been up there more of the race. At 3 to go, the real attacks started and I found myself off the back again. I reconnected for a little bit with two to go, but was dropped for good on the last lap. So I just cruised in since we couldn't even see the chase group. 

Saturday morning Janelle raced in the 5K that was a part of the Route 66 Marathon in downtown Tulsa. She won by a pretty good margin. It was still very windy, but a little warmer and also more humid.

By race time for me, it was about 75 but cloudy and windy. I was expecting many more people to show up to the race for the big payouts, but the fields were very small all the way around. Our group only had 20, with the only notable addition being Joe Schmalz. The course was really cool again. Better than last years course. They built some cool stairs and added some singletrack in the woods, had a headwind paved section. I don't know what european cross courses are like to ride, but this seemed like the type of courses they might have in Europe for some reason. If only it were raining, then it would have been really fun. 

I got a pretty crappy start out of the second row, but had several chances to move up after that, but didn't have the legs to do it. So I slotted in around 10th for the first couple of laps. I had chances to jump up into the lead group and when I tried to accelerate, I had nothing. On the 3rd lap, I hooked up with Stefan Rothe on the pavement section (actually he was blazing by and I barely got his wheel). And we picked up another TX guy for a few laps. We traded pulls pretty well the rest of the race. Stefan pulled in the open sections and I lead through the rest of the course. It worked out pretty well and we seemed to be pulling back Mat Ankeny and Bryan Fawley near the end. With 2 to go, I think Stefan messed up on the stairs and I kept going hoping Mat or Bryan would fade some more. This was the first time I actually felt good during the race. I didn't end up catching them so I was 7th again.

Some pics posted on Facebook from: Seth Liken and RJB Photo

Pretty cool video from the race:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grand Prix HPT

Definitely a highlight of the local CX calender is the Grand Prix HPT race. Last year was a bit of a downer as I tore off a rear derailleur early on and was forced to abandon. This year, the open field was a bit sparse with many guys at the Louisville USGP.

I got the holeshot and led coming onto the track. I had opened up a little gap already and so I drilled it for the rest of the lap hoping it would stay. Britton and Bill Stolte were in chase, so I just kept the gas on for the next two laps.There is something about going for it that early in the race that is exhilarating. I've been off the front a couple of times this year with mixed success, but this time it worked out. I grew the gap steadily by a second here and there and had a good lead with a couple of laps to go.

Somehow, my handling felt really good this race too. Maybe I was just extra motivated from the embarrassing outing at the Blvd Cup.

Up next are my first big races since Hermann and St. Louis way back in September. First is Tulsa with big payouts and fields. Then Jingle Cross UCI. Looking forward to both! After that more local racing for December before heading to Nationals in January. I'm probably not making the trip to Master's World's though it would be fun as well, but I can't take two full weeks of vacation just to go to bike races.

Monday, November 7, 2011

360 Cup / BLVD Cup

Two days in the same park with no overlap. That is pretty much unheard of because it is double the work. Regardless, the courses were two of the best of the year. The 360 Cup was a lot of elevation change while the Blvd Cup was nearly flat except for a technical berm section that modulated a bit. 

Following the theme of being in the same place, but being completely different, my races couldn't have gone more differently. Saturday was nearly flawless technically. I got a good start, rode everything cleanly, got into 2nd place behind Joe Schmalz and stayed there mostly by myself. I really enjoyed this course, had some good climbing and some fun descending sections with just enough technicality to keep you honest. It was definitely a fitness course.

Sunday was brutal and ugly. I crashed 3 times in different places and had 2 near misses. I really did like the course and the atmosphere was great. Mike Berning said the goal was a course with no recovery sections and he nailed it. I couldn't get out of my own way. I missed a pedal at the start and was immediately in 15th. I rode through to about 6th or 7th then screwed up the ride/run up section badly. I slide out on the berm after hitting my pedal coming out of an off camber section. My second crash was in the sand and I bruised my tailbone making pedaling pretty hard after that. A few laps later I majorly screwed up on the barriers and took myself out of the race. That is my first DNF from a crash in 4 years of cross, so I was probably due. Thanks to everybody who helped me scoop me off the course. I think I got the wind knocked out of my and was cramping in the legs pretty bad too. Nothing but bruises and a dent to the ego, but those are necessary to keep one humble and desiring to learn more about racing. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

October Wrap Up

The last couple weeks have been a blur off the bike. Work has been keeping me on my toes and i've not had great training or racing. Somehow that is how it goes. So here is a  quick update prior to running off to the kick off of the Series 60 CX races - the 360 cup and Blvd cup. 

Looking two weeks back: Shawnee Rescue Radcross - With the last minute cancellation of the Smithville and Leavenworth races, there were two big holes in the local calender that were snapped up by Mark Thomas & the Localcycling crew. The City of Shawnee deserves credit here as well for really stepping up and allowing for this race on short notice. The local KCCX crew was out in near-full strength meaning this was going to be a battle. The course was pretty tight and twisty as the park has a smallish footprint, so we ended up doing no fewer than 12 laps. I traded the lead with Joe Schmalz for the first half of the race after he slid out going into the barriers early on. Then had to hold off a hard charging Shadd on the second half as he was closing 3-5 seconds every lap. Made for a very hard day.

Boss Cross 3 was on a pretty neat new course at the Raytown BMX park. The first half of the course was super tight with not much room to pass including a fun section on the actual BMX course, and the second half was wide open. Topping that off it was super windy with gusts over 30mph, apparently. This made the course tape a bit of a hazard as well. At the start there were about 9 of us crammed into space for about 6 or 7, and I got the worst start of the year, going back to about 10th before we got to the open section of the course. So it was game over for me as Shadd and Joe had already gone up by 5-10 seconds and in the wind I had nothing. I raced with Colton and Adam but quickly realized if I wanted to be on the podium I'd have to go on my own. So I went into no man's land and fought alone. I brought Shadd back to under 10 seconds but couldn't close it any more, then Colton started to come after me and was closing quickly. He yardsaled on the last lap allowing me to sit up a bit and just cruise in. 

So it's November. About 2 months have passed of the season, and another 2 to go prior to nationals. I'm fairly happy with my fitness and have definitely learned a lot about racing at the front and skills I need to work on between now and then. 

I've been pleased with the equipment this year. My Crux has been great. The Boyd wheels have exceeded expectations, and the specialized tires have worked out pretty good so far too. I finally got a hold of some Challenge Limus tires too, so hopefully we will get some slop in the coming month to really test those out.