Monday, November 19, 2012

In case you missed it...

I think everyone has seen this by now, but if you were hiding off the grid all weekend...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cross Catch Up

We are in the swing of cross season, and i've been too busy to write up any race reports.

Here is a summary of what has happened:

Hermann CX. I came into the season still working to develop my high end. This showed as I was not able to go deep in this race, and nearly blew up just trying to ride with the leaders

Boss Cross 2. I was travelling the week before and came back to jump in this race. It would have been nice to be a little more prepared as it was a good race up front. I missed out by botching the sand on the first lap and ended up having to play catch up. Again, the legs just weren't there

 360 Cup. Definitely rode better, definitely had a crappy start both days. Not sure where my start legs went, but they have not been doing me well. Fortunately, I was able to do negative splits for the first 6 laps on both days and get 2nd.

Cross Out Cancer. I finally had a good start and moved into the lead of the race only to immediately roll my rear tire and crash hard on the first lap to give everyone a minute on me. Then I rolled to the pit and got my Crux, then I got after it. Caught the leaders with only a little bit left to race and came out 2nd. The legs are coming back!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

MO State Crit

I wasn't sure about going to the MO crit. I've been pretty excited to race cross in the fall and have been working on base miles for that. Anyway, I decided pretty late (on the Sta PV ride) that it would be good to go and support the team and check out the race. I've never been to Jeff City before but almost everyone likes the crit course.

I showed up about an hour before the race, got registered and found out there were going to be about 50 guys in the race. Pretty awesome. My goal was to cover moves and support the team. The race started out at a nice quick pace, and my legs weren't too happy about that. I just tailgunned it for a few laps, then started to try and move up, but didn't make it very far. So I just sat and waited for the pace to ease up. When the first prime was called about 30 mins in, the pace did ease up on the backside, so I launched after Adam Mills and another rider going for the prime. When I got up to them we were about to get caught, so I sat near the front waiting for a counter.
Two great shots from Flannery Allison.

There was another move immediately after, so I just followed wheels and we were clear too. This was a bigger group that continued to go over the next few laps until there were over a dozen riders. At this point people started to skip pulls and let gaps open. There was another prime, so I jumped from that group figuring it would draw a couple of others looking for cash. But nobody came with me. So I just kept riding assuming this would at least give our guys in the group rest before the sprint. I just kept it steady and stayed out for about 5 laps when I saw a small chase coming up with Austin Vinton, Justin Maciekowicz, and Josh Leibowitz. It looked like they had a pretty good gap to the field, so I sat in and took some pulls as I could. With 2 to go we still had 30 seconds and were rotating well. I tried to position myself well for the finish, and put myself on Austin's wheel, but ran out of gas up the last little rise to the finish and ended up 4th. The sprint was just behind us and teammate Jim ended up 10th. Earlier in the day, Brian Bradley won the M40+ race, so in all, it was a pretty good day for the team.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Colavita Cross Country Challenge

A few weeks back I did the CCCC MTB race. It was a great event. I'd not ridden the Wyandotte Lake trails prior to a few days before the race, but was impressed. The Colavita crew did a great job putting on the event and it looked like a very solid showing of racers.

As far as the actual race went, I had some issues. I didn't start well because I was apprehensive about leading the first quarter of the lap. It took about 4 laps to catch on to the leader Roger Williams, and then shortly after I crashed hard, chased hard, started cramping a bit and had to shut things down considerably to keep going the rest of the way.

The whole MTB thing is pretty darn fun. I hope to work on enough skills to be able to go hard without being in constant danger of crashing.

Ok, a few more road races this year before the real season starts!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

State Line RR

It has been a while since my last race. Travel for various reasons had me out of town the last couple of weeks. But I did get in a great week of riding in Portland with some great weather and fun climbs.
Being chased - a lot of this going on.

The State Line RR looked like a good race. It is always a bit of a gamble going to new races, as it is never certain what you will get, but the new races this year have been really good. (Salina, Tallgrass, This race). Hopefully they will be back in the future.
More attacking

The cat 1/2/3 field looked good with about 25 starters. I was hoping to get in a breakaway with some others, but that ended up being a challenge. I kept trying to get into a promising move, and there were several, but the field was not willing to let me get much up the road. BB and JB rode well to keep most of the dangerous moves in check that we weren't in, but in the end, Brian West and Andrew Lyles got away, with Brian taking the win. I made it into the final chase group, but was in bad shape. We caught up to Andrew, but I exploded on the last climb with some pretty violent cramping.

That ends the heavy part of my road season. So I'm transitioning to more dirt time in preparation for CX. I'll kick start that by racing at the Colavita MTB race this weekend. I pre-rode the trail on Sunday and it looks like it will be a good time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

State TT & Strava

I tend to be a little slow to jump onto social media (I still don't understand Twitter). But I finally joined Strava. It is a pretty cool application that I think is a better way to view ride data than the Garmin Connect site that I had been using. The problem is now that I know these benchmarks exist, I will have a hard time not chasing them. Anyway, If you want to see my profile it is here: I've been backing up my GPS files thinking that there may be some new software tool that I would want to upload my data to, so that worked out well here.

The state TT was back on the old Walnut course. Last year there was construction on a course bridge, so we went the opposite direction and it was tough. I really enjoy this course and was looking to have a good day. My time-trialling has been kind of up and down this year. I've felt good and been able to make solo attacks work in road races and crits, but somehow things have not come together in actual time trials. My time at the Hermann TT was a bit slower than in 2011, and the only 10k TT i've done (Bruce Edwards TT) was not a good time either. But I knew this course suited me and i'd been putting in some good time on the TT bike leading into the race.

The think I like most about this course is it breaks naturally into 4 about equal segments that go in all directions, neutralizing the wind a little. I was hoping to break the 54 minute barrier, but just missed out. Here is the file from the race:

At the turnaround
I ended up being second fastest on the day to Bruce Tanner, but won the Cat 1/2 race as Bruce opted to do Masters.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


It's taken me a few days to digest Tulsa Tough. Basically, I didn't ride very well, but the hard part was figuring out why.

Friday was really fast but generally pretty safe, because I sat at the very back end of the group and didn't bother trying to move around too much. That isn't a great course for me, there isn't much room to move around and it is very hard to get a breakaway to stick there, even more so with the caliber of field we had.

Saturday I was excited about the race, but really felt pretty bad for the first 40 minutes of the race. I had started near the back, then tried to move up about 20 minutes in which worked for a few laps, then I had no power and had had to maintain the best I could to even stay on. Finally at about 45 minutes in I started to have good legs again and the pace dropped just a little. I was having good success moving up on the start finish straight and in the section after corner 2. Then this happened:

I was ok, just some scrapes and tire burn, but had broken handle bars. Fortunately, Mat Ankeny had some replacement bars for me. I'll say it again, the SRAM folks will keep me coming back for their support of racers.

Sunday morning I was in a bit of a rush having to track down the new bars, install them, check out of the hotel and get down to the race site. Things were close, but it worked out. I had a descent start to the race and felt like things were going good. But I was also having problems with the big corner of the day. First I overcooked it and nearly went over the curb into the grass. Then I got some serious sweat or something in my eyes causing them to burn and get blurry making this corner even worse. This meant I kept losing positions being tentative. So I ended up at the back of the field again, which meant it was only a matter of time before a bunch of us got shelled off the back. That was about 45 mins in.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

State RR

Justin and I headed north of Manhattan to the Olsburg RR to compete for the state RR title. For the last few years, the race had been held in Arma, which was a fine course but was a little flat for my tastes (and usually very hot, ~105 by the finish last year) So it was nice to mix it up a bit.

The Olsburg course was really cool, with good pavement and some nice climbs on the second half of the course, plus a tough 500m pitch about 10k from the finish line that served as the KOM point. The Tall Grass Stage Race the week before had also used this RR course, in reverse, which would have also been awesome I think.

Unfortunately, only 3 of us came out for the Cat 1/2 race, which was probably due to 3 other races going on over the weekend and no payouts whatsoever. Anyway, Jack Mason was the other competitor in our field. He has been riding very well this season, so I was interested to see how things would play out. The first few miles were pretty mild, Jack started to take some short digs prior to getting to the climbs. So I countered just to see what would happen, and got a minute gap very quickly. So I just held things at a minute and watched to see how things were playing out behind. Jack was chasing pretty well, and Justin was pulling through too, which made me think he was also feeling pretty good, so after the first lap I sat up and let them back on. Jack knew what was going down at this point. We rode steadily until we got back to the climbs. Over the KOM JB and I just kept upping the pace until we dropped Jack. At the top I drilled it over the flat section before we descended and then just kept the gas on all the way through the finish line. We had a pretty good gap, probably over a minute, but I didn't want to have Jack come back up to us, so I stayed at the front for most of the first half of the last lap as well. We made it back to the climbs on the last lap and were finally able to relax a bit and just go steady through the hills. We got Justin some water at the feed zone and cruised in to go 1-2 for the race.Poor Jack ended up having a really bad day and bonking big time on the last lap.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Salina 2-Day

I ventured over solo to the Salina 2-day event. The original plan was to camp out at Kanopolis Park west of town, but threats of overnight thunder and lightning with hail nixed that. I drove over Sat morning and got in a good 45 minute warmup to get things moving after a long drive. Interestingly, at 9am everyone was still spinning around trying to figure out where the start was. Shortly after, we figured it out and got rolling.

The winds were pretty solidly out of the south from 20-30mph. The course started heading south for about 20 miles, then weaved back west and north the rest of the way. With only 9 starters things were very mellow into the wind. We had a simple rotation pretty much the whole way down until we turned into the cross winds. From there the Colavita trio in the race started to get aggressive and throw down some attacks. They ended up getting one up the road, but he was alone. I tried a little dig into a crosswind section off a corner but didn't get anywhere, so I just rotated in the group until we got to the last westward section and guttered everyone to see who would come up. I ended up getting Spencer Martin and Justin Leopold with me, while Andrew Lyles and Matt Maher chased. We turned north into a tailwind and into a slight climb. I kept the pace really high and found myself alone after a couple of rollers. I just kept rolling, though after the climbing stopped and we went through some more crosswind sections I got caught by the chasers. This was ok because there was still about 15 miles to go and I jumped into the rotation. We just rode at a good pace for the next few miles until we made the last turn in to the finish. It was about 2.5 miles of crosswind. I just kept watching the group, though I think everyone expected me to jump early. I finally went at 400m to go and got a good enough gap to hold to the line. That made for a very long sprint.

I got in a good long spin afterwards to get some more miles on the day. The location for registration and awards was a great AC cooled building with showers and plenty of space to hang out afterwards.

Sunday I took a quick spin in the morning over to check out the crit course. It was a flat figure 8 with wide open corners. If the course were a bit longer you could easily put 150 guys through without a problem. Anyway, some sprinters showed up: Adam Miller, Ryan Christler, and Jarred Young. So I knew that to win I would need to get away on my own eventually. I started the race in cyclocross style, launching off the start line just to see what would happen. Things hung together but just barely, so
I sat in a half lap then went again. This time I got the group to split. the problem was all three fresh guys made the split, plus Spencer (who had minutes before soloed away from the cat 3/4 race pretty much from the gun). We kept the pace pretty good but had some chasers who were bringing us back very slowly. Finally, I put in a big dig, then attacked on the next lap on the tailwind. It worked perfectly as I ended up alone with 5 to go. I went deep and established a good gap that I was able to stick to the line.

The promoters did a good job getting us all on the road super quick after the race was over and did a good job keeping things organized throughout the weekend. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Not sure I have a lot to say about the MOPRO weekend in St. Louis.

Friday I felt like crap, then went off the front with 5 to go and stayed out there until about half a lap remaining, then got caught and sat up for 30th. The team van alternator crapped out, ended up with us all being up till about 2:30 in the morning. Here is me with about 10 seconds with 3 to go (Thanks Britton).

Saturday went ok until there was a big crash on the last lap that I was behind but snuck through. This put me in a pretty bad spot, but I came from way back and ended up 9th.

Sunday again was going pretty good until there was a crash on the last corner again causing mayhem and resulting in a pretty bad finish. This was the dumbest crash i'd seen in a while, someone from the Hammer Down team dove the last corner and basically T-boned the rider in front of me taking them both down. Inexcusably stupid move. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Leavenworth weekend

Started off with a little of this:

I was one of the first people there and the last to start, so I got in a good 30 mile warmup ride on the RR course. I ended up getting the second fastest time on the day, which was still kind of slow. But I think it was a slow course.

Then some of this:

 I was really happy that we got a good rain race in. I tend to have good races in the rain. The break always goes earlier than you expect in this race, so I decided I'd be the one to initiate that split. JB made a good tempo up and over the finish hill, then I went to work. I tried a feeler move to see who would come, but that got pulled back quickly. We came up with a team gameplan and I rolled off again at about mile 8 and was soon joined by Brain West and Joe Fox. I was happy with that selection so off we went. We worked really well together. Coming back on US-73 Brian and I ended up dropping Joe near the turn back to Leavenworth. At about 3 miles to go, we saw some chasers coming on, but kept having a pretty good rotation. I jumped at about 800m to go and got a gap that I held to the line. Choch and BB came in a few seconds later after a long chase. The team rode excellently and things are looking good for our first major season objective, the Tour de Grove.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tour of Hermann 2012

The Tour of Hermann has been a staple of my spring road season for the last 3 years. Sadly, it is going away next season. I will certainly miss this race and the almost 10k ft. of climbing over the three stages.

JB and I rolled over on friday for packet pickup and to get settled in. The weather on tap certainly favored me better than last season's meltdown, highs in the mid 60s Saturday and mid 50s Sunday. The field was certainly of a higher caliber than in years past. Jonathan Jacob (US Elite TT champ), Joe Schmalz, Austin Allison, (and teammate Chris Winn), plus the full Dogfish and Mercy teams all came to play. I was pretty excited to see that there were about 60 guys signed up to ensure that racing would be tough.

The TT went pretty bad. I'm not sure what happened, but ended up feeling bad until about 11 miles into the race. The problem was that it wasn't a useful type of feeling bad, more just like the legs had no energy. This becomes a problem when the race is only 14 miles long. I ended up about 25 seconds off my time from last year. I probably need to spend a little more time on the TT bike. The good news was that teammate Brian won the Masters TT and set himself up well to fight for the overall omnium.

The criterium had an interesting change to the course, It removed a block worth of the course making the left hand turn at the bottom of the hill come a block sooner meaning you could really overcook things if you didn't watch your speed. My legs continued to not come around during my warmup so I resigned to sitting in the group. Things broke up pretty quickly. I ended up being in the second chase group on the road, and we were racing for maybe 10th place. From years past, I knew that some people would come back out of the lead groups, so I just played things patiently. It was interesting that our group seemed to grow and shrink lap by lap. Finally with 5 to go I started to get my legs underneath me, so I attacked out of the group and no one came with me. So I rode the last few laps alone to get 7th place. This ended up being the right move as I was one of the last people not to get lapped by the leading trio. I got lots of comments about my sweet Kuat NV rack at the Stone Hill Winery as we got a good parking spot right by the main entrance. I've always been a roof rack guy, but this tail rack is so much easier to load/unload.

The road race was what I was a bit apprehensive about. Last year I finished, but just barely, with the most severe cramping I'd ever experienced. It probably had to do with the heat, or the fact that I was still eating foods with gluten, or possibly from drinking lots of coffee, or maybe because I didn't eat or drink enough.... Anyway, I decided to take away all the variables and took lots of food and drink, avoided coffee just to see what happened, and the weather played nice (and even drizzled a little to remind me of Seattle). Plus the gluten free diet that has really aided my recovery. But I digress. Justin had found super volunteer Kim Kage to help out our team in the feed zone, so I was set up to have more than enough food and drink.

The race itself was interesting. The group stayed mostly together except for Justin Maciekowicz going solo somewhere around the halfway point through the lap. This meant that we were either going pretty easy or going full out. My goal was to make it to the last lap then see what I could do from there, so I tried to float around the pack and not accelerate too much. At the very start of the second lap, after the Gutenberg wall I was sitting pretty good, but I bobbled my feedback trying to get it over my shoulder and lost some spots. This was bad because I ended up being near the back of the field for the second half of the climb out of town. So I ended up being in a chase group with about 15 others. Interestingly, we caught back onto the main group after not much effort about 15 miles later. On our way back up to the group we saw that Austin Vinton had broken his collarbone and was out of the race. I didn't hear what happened there but it was really unfortunate because he had been riding really well. The main group seemed to have some negative racing going on or something, because after we got back there were several big surges followed by more slow riding. The stretch back into town was the worst, where we were going 12-15 mph for a long ways. Plus it started to drizzle at about that time. Several wily riders went up the road at this time, but none of the "big 4", so nobody was interested in chasing.

Finally getting to the last climb up the wall, I put myself in really good position and ended up about 5th wheel behind Joe, Austin Allison, Chris Winn and Jonathan Jacob. I just stayed there until Joe dropped the hammer on the second half of the climb and Austin and Chris were the only two that could stay on. Jon Schilling and Jonathan drilled it over the top, but we were losing ground fast. I had nothing but took a few little pulls as best as I could. When the dust settled, I was in a group of about 10 and we just kept the pace pretty good and figured out a rotation eventually. Guys kept popping out of the group at the front, so I knew the pace up there must have been brutal and that we were not going to catch back on. I guessed at some point our group would start attacking each other, but wanted to be as close to town before I made a real move. There were several surges but nothing serious. Finally, about 10 miles from the finish, two of the stronger guys in our group jumped away. No one really responded, and then another guy jumped out and was dangling in no-mans land. So I jumped up to him and we worked our way up to the other two. We all were working together pretty good and we caught up to Justin M who had finally gotten dropped out of the front group. He jumped in but said he couldn't do any work. So the four of us kept driving the pace. Finally at the last climb before town, Jared Osterloh jumped and took a big dig at the front and we split Justin and Brian West out of our group. So that left Jared and Brian Eppen with me. We still had to keep the pace high because Justin was chasing hard over the top to get back on. There were only a few miles left and we kept a good rotation, while saving some for the end. I ended up leading into the final corner and decided to open the sprint off that. I think I must have gotten just a little separation on the corner and I was able to get the sprint for 7th.

It was great to finally finish that road race with a pretty good result. I even ended up being 8th overall in the omnium. Brian wrapped up a great weekend with a win in the masters RR with JB and JP playing the domestique duties well all weekend. On to Sheehan and some more TTing this weekend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bazaar RR

I've been in Kansas for a couple of years now but have never made it to the Bazaar RR. I've heard lots of wild stories of agricultural burns, motorcycle rallies, people being hit by cars, and of course, WIND.

This years edition of the race did not disappoint on the wind front. 28-35mph with 45+mph gusts from the SSW made for an interesting day. There were about 27 guys in the 1/2/3 race, but only nine or ten 1/2's, so I had an idea of who to watch. We headed out pretty slowly into the wind and there were some solo attacks into the wind that didn't mean much. I thought that making a move shortly before the turnaround might be the way to go, and tried one move with Rob Bell of Team Undiscovered thinking that his 6 teammates would shut things down behind us. That worked for a few minutes, but everyone wanted to get into our move, so we got brought back. A few miles up the road there was a hard crosswind section where Jay Blankenship of Tulsa Tough went to the front and drove the pace causing a split. I saw it coming but was hiding near the back, so I had to make a bit of an effort to bridge up. Right as I got on it turned back into the headwind and Kyle Skinner pulled off the front hard and almost took out my front wheel. I ricocheted my wheel off his quick release, but kept everything in good shape and went to the front and drove the pace a bit more to establish the split, right ahead was the cone showing the turnaround and we went through it as a group of about 8 or so and had the bit tailwind to push us the other direction. Back into the crosswind Kent drove the pace again splitting our selection down to 5. At that point, Rob Bell decided to sit on because he had a teammate chasing our group. With the tailwind, it was hard to do anything but just go as fast as possible, so 4 of us rotated pretty well all the way past the start area. After that the course gets a little more interesting as there is a climb, descent, the other turnaround, then climb back to the finish. Jay turned the screws up the climb dropping Jeremy from Undiscovered, but not unlatching Rob. By the time we got to the base of the climb, Jeremy had caught back on using his gravitational advantage and we turned back into the wind for the final climb. We were going pretty slow, but I wasn't feeling very well, so I skipped a few pulls and hoped that Rob would go early and I could catch on. Instead, we all sat in for a very slow sprint. Kent opened it up and tried to gutter everyone against the centerline. Jay was on his wheel on the line, and Rob was well over the line. I had nothing and didn't want to go all the way across the road to get a draft, so I just sat up for 4th.

Behind Brian got the group sprint for 6th and Justin avoided the crashes behind that and rolled in safely as well. Then we got to sit around for almost 2 hours while they figured out results and finally payed out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

God's Country MTB Race

Yep, I did a mountain bike race. Yes, I just got a mountain bike. No, I hadn't ridden it on trails yet.

A couple seasons ago in Cross, I realized one of my limiters was handling in the dirt. I decided it would be a good idea to get a MTB for training and occasional racing, but didn't pull the trigger on a bike until recently. I've been looking at a 29er hardtail for some time, and really liked the sound of getting a 2x10 drivetrain. All that came together nicely in the 2012 Stumpjumper Comp. Nice M5 alloy frame, all the current "best practices": tapered headtube, BB30, 2x10 gearing, etc. Anyway, I finally picked up the bike from Springfield on Sunday after the NWA RR. I rode it into work on Monday and intended to hit Shawnee Mission Park after work for some dirt time. Unfortunately, work got crazy and I didn't leave till after dark. So I ended up not getting to really ride in the dirt at all prior to the race.

Fortunately, the Lawrence River Trails are very friendly. I've ridden out there on my cross bike before, so I knew that I wouldn't have too much technicality to worry about. Got on the first couple of miles of course prior to the race just to have them fresh in my head. It drizzled a bit before the start and there was a chance we were going to get really dumped on. The marathon category was first and we had a pretty good field of about 15 guys. I got a good start and took the holeshot onto the trail. It started raining a bit harder at this point, but the first half of the course wasn't slick at all. Roger Williams passed me before the course started to get a bit more technical, but that was good for me as I could just follow his lines. Once we made it around the very back corner of the course, things got a little more interesting. It was still raining and I was starting to notice my tires were not hooking up in the corners well. Josh Taylor was right on my wheel and wanted to get by because Roger was getting away. 

Pretty soon I overcooked a corner and slid out letting Josh by as well as an Iowa rider. I got back up and had to pick my way through the rest of the lap. By the end of the lap I was back in 5th place and the first 4 were going away. But the rain had stopped. I knew that the course was supposed to drain well and hoped that would be the case. The second lap was pretty uneventful and I was starting to get more comfortable on the trails. My third lap was pretty good, though I was starting to catch up to lapped riders. I also caught 4th place. That was a good sign to me, so I started picking up the pace. The trails were getting pretty good again by the end of the 3rd lap, and coming through the open Finish area, I saw that 3rd was not too far ahead. So I drilled it and caught him early in the lap. He was going pretty good, so we rode together through the end of the lap. The tires were really starting to stick now and up at the Finish area, I saw Roger and Josh just heading back onto the trail as we were coming off it. So I drilled it.

The Iowa guy I'd been riding with sat up at the top so I chased alone. By now I had a really good feel for the trails and things were hooking up really nicely. So the mantra became "relax and trust the tires" I knew that the front half of the course would be where the most ground could be made up. I caught Josh and he told me Roger was about 45 second up. So just kept it going. I caught up with Roger just after the halfway point of the lap. He turned and asked if it was me. "Yep". He was still riding pretty well, so I sat on for a little bit until there was a section of double track then attacked. It worked, though I almost careened into a tree coming into the next section of trail. A few more accelerations and I was alone. This was where I realized I might still have to do another lap. My left hamstring wasn't too happy with all the acceleration, so I had to tone it down a bit. Coming through the finish line they said go another, so I took off again, but in a little more reserved fashion. Now I just needed to ride very smoothly, not make any mistakes, and conserve energy in case Roger or Josh came back up to me. Fortunately, the last lap went as planned. Lapped riders were even very good about moving off the trail as I came though.

So I ended with a win with Roger less than a minute back and Josh just behind him. Turns out it was a good day for the rest of the Ethos squad as well, with JP and Travis going 2-3 in the Cat 1 field, Jason taking 1st in the Cat 2s and Karen winning the Womens catagory. I may have to try this whole MTB racing thing again....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

NWA Spring (SUMMER) Classic

Justin, Ben, and I opened the road season at the NWA Spring Classic RR. After staying with Steve Auchterlonie and other Bike Shack Alums on Saturday, we got up early and rolled to the race sunday morning.

In past years, this race was cold with strong winds from the north. This year was the opposite, with strong south winds and temps in the mid to upper 80s. After racing cross well into January, I've felt a little behind the curve with regards to base milage. With such a mild winter, it sounded like OK, AR, and TX racers were coming into the season with some very good base fitness. 50 pretty strong dudes started the race, so I knew it would be an interesting day.

Immediately, Justin M. from the Dogfish team was off the front solo. I tried to stay tucked out of the wind for the first lap, while Justin covered a bunch of moves. At the end of the lap, I tried to get into a couple of chase moves. Things started to get really animated in the second lap and after about a half dozen failed chase moves, the pack started to break up a bit. I figured at some point there would be a split in the field, so I tried to stay up front and get in the front half. Unfortunately, nothing stuck until another Dogfish rider went solo up the road. After a long bit of hesitation, about 8 guys went up the road, but most of the strong guys missed the move.

About halfway through the last lap I was starting to feel pretty bad in the heat. I didn't want to just sit in the group, but also realized I didn't have much left if I was able to get into a chase group. At just about that point, Austin Vinton and Will Gault got a gap up a little climb, so I bridged to them knowing they could actually make it to chase group #1 if that bunch started messing around. Unfortunatly, as soon as I made it to them, Will said he wasn't going to pull because he had teammates up the road. So Austin and I traded pulls. I was not going good, but then we picked up Kris French who was out in no-mans land. I'm not sure what happened to him, but I guess he got dropped out of the group up the road. Anyway, this helped our rotation. However, we then hit a climb and I started to cramp badly, stayed on and started to recover a bit on the descent. We turned into the wind and the paced slowed, so I was starting to feel a little better, but I knew I wouldn't make it over the wall with this group, so i took a few more meager pulls up to the climb, then had to little ring it over. By the top, I was fully locked up and had to coast and breath to finally be able to pedal again. So I got swept up by the pack and tailgunned to the finish. Ouch.

Afterwards, we went to the Flying Burrito, then picked up my MTB in Springfield. Justin and I also enlightened Ben about all the wonderful fishing techniques in the midwest, like noodling and hunting for spoonbills.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Season Wrap-up, Gear, & Looking Ahead

It was a pretty good year for me on the road and in cross. I'm still improving in both disciplines, which is always the goal. The season wrapped up with the KCA awards banquet, where I received best all around road racer and best overall cross racer awards for the season.

Before I jump into thinking about next year, I think a word about gear is warranted. I'll start off with drive-train. If you are into this sort of stuff the following 5 write ups are about the ins and outs of the top notch road/cx gear by Padraig at Red Kite Prayer:

Dura Ace Review
Super Record Review:
SRAM Red Review:

One big thing that I think was not covered in the discussion, which is particularly important to me as a racer, is race support. I think SRAM wins this hands down. Go to any major race in the US and you will see the red vehicles of SRAM neutral support. Not only are they willing to give you a quick tune up or fix, they will even go as far as to replace broken gear to let you finish up your racing over the weekend. And the repairs are completely free. (Of course, tips are appreciated and should be given for a job well done) The support is open to everyone. To me, that sells me on SRAM, and that is why I switched over all 5 bikes from Shimano. I had 2 crashes this year in races involving breaking SRAM Red shifters, and both times I had the shifters completely replaced on-site, ready for me to race the next day. How cool is that?

Another company I completely endorse is Boyd Wheels. They are based out of South Carolina and are great folks to work with. My go-to wheelset for cross this season was a set of 1200 gram Boyd 38mm tubulars. They were an awesome set of wheels for cross. I especially liked that the bearings held up great to heavy power-washing and that the 6-pawl freehub body was well sealed. They were reasonably stiff for a shallow wheel, and accelerated very well. I intend on getting another set for road and possibly an 88mm front for time trials.

One final bit of gear I am super excited about is my new hitch rack from Kuat. I have always been a roof rack guy, but you may have noticed that I tend to put bikes in the trunk for local races to save gas mileage. I think that I may find I'm actually a bigger fan of the hitch rack. I'll do a more thorough write-up once I've gotten some more use out of it.

Looking forward to road season, our team priority races are Hell Bender Omnium, Tulsa Tough, Tour De Grove, and Gateway Cup. We should have new kits arriving any day, and everyone should have some good fitness with all this spring-like weather we've been having. See you on the road!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

UCI Masters World Championships

In my mind, Nationals was going to be a freezing mess and UCI Masters Worlds was going to be warm with maybe a little mud. Turns out that was basically backwards. An Arctic storm chased us east on Wednesday and Travis and I made our way from KC.

We headed out to pre-ride on Thursday at noon and got in two laps just as snowflakes started to fall. To say that it was muddy would be an understatement. It was like the MO State Championship race, but the mud was even deeper in some parts. A big section of the course is built on a really big berm leading up to the Start/Finish area and this had foot holes that were over 8" deep so even if you could ride it you would have to navigate these. It turned out to be a solid 2-3 minutes of running. The rest of the course had deep, power-sucking mud as well. If the tempuratures had stayed above freezing, I think it would have been really fun.

However, the storm kept pushing in. Little flurries, strong 20-40mph winds and temps in the 20's turned the rutted course into a giant ice bowl. The promoters wisely removed some of the running sections, and moved a little of the course tape to provide lines that weren't completely rutted from tape to tape. Travis had his qualifying heat at 9AM. He rode great and was able to stay on his bike longer than most, allowing him to ride into a 1st row call up for his finals race.

My race was at 1pm. It was about 25 degrees at the start. I was the 10th person called up and on the start was about the 5th person to hit the grass. Then it got a bit chaotic. I got grabbed by a rut and thrown off my line into some really slow ruts. I kept everything upright but lost about 10 spots. I regained composure and started to wind back through people.

I managed to ride the rest of the lap clean, but the mental focus required on this terrain is completely different than i've ever had to do before. The flats were some of the hardest spots because those were the most unchanged from the day before and had ruts covering the entire course in some sections. You had to constantly be focusing on not dropping yout wheel into the ruts and getting sucked the wrong way.

Our race ended up being 5 laps. I rode the next 3 laps very consistantly and managed not to have an serious wrecks. I moved past several people into 8th. However, on the last lap I was taking a line on the left hand side on a descent and got put right into the tape which grabbed my bars and over I went. I lost about 4-5 spots, cut my hand pretty good, and broke my front shifter/brake lever. So I hobbled back to the pits, got my pit bike and finished up in 12th.

Not a great way to end the season, but my body and mind are in good shape and am looking forward to riding some base miles for road season. I'm happy to have learned so much about cross this year and feel like i've been able to race at a very high level all season. As Tilford said, if you aren't good in all conditions, then you aren't a very good cross racer (my paraphrase). I'm still working on being able to handle the winter aspect of CX and these last two races have certainly been good in that respect. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Masters 30-34 Nationals

Nationals ended up being much less wintry by Saturday afternoon than anyone could have expected. The sub-freezing temperatures that are the norm for the area gave way to some very nice 40 and 50 degree days leading up to my race. The result of this was that the hilly course that would be frozen for the early morning races then would thaw and turn into a mudfest in the afternoon (with some patches of ice just underneath the surface of the mud that got exposed later in the day as well.) This made for a constantly changing course. Also, the promoters ended up modifying sections of the course several times over the course of the weekend, which did make sections more ride-able.

Travis and I drove up on Thursday morning and first got on the course on Friday morning. We did 5 laps and it quickly changed from frozen and scary to very muddy and soft. We went back in the afternoon for a couple more laps and it had changed even more to sticky mud that coated our bikes.

We made pit arrangements for our races Saturday knowing that bike changes would be essential. Fortunately, the 360 guys ( David Hejduk, Bill Anderson, and Dean Parker) were available and willing to assist for Travis and JP who raced immediately prior to my race. There race still featured sticky mud but there was much less of it. The course had dried out significantly.

My race was the last one of the day, a 3:45 start. I was happy just to not be racing in the icy conditions of the morning. As it turned out, there were still a couple of sections in the shade by the pits where the conditions were still rutted out and hard to navigate. There were also big ice patches exposed in that area. Most of the rest of the course was getting pretty nice. The descents off of the hill were still a little dicey with ruts and berms burned into the corners.

I started as the 20th person called up, in the middle of the 3rd row. I got an ok start and probably moved up into the top 15 as we hit the dirt. The first section of the course was still very muddy and the ruts threw your bike around a bit making this a little hairy. I got passed by a few people here, but then anticipated crashes to happen over some exposed permafrost and ran by a few downed riders. I was still in the top 20 Just past the pit was the first big climb and I rode past several people here. Over the top was a little bit of a descent prior to a railroad tie run-up section. I held my place here and then on the next little climb I moved up another spot. The race was already starting to break into little groups as the pace was frantically fast. The course then went into a fast fun descent into the barriers, into the pits, wove through some rutted and frozen sections, into a mini sandpit, through more ruts, up another little climb, then down again into some more ruts before hitting the start/finish stretch.
By the end of the first lap I was in about 10th with a little group. I made a bike change and attacked up the climb trying to get up to a group that was contesting 5th place. I had just gotten into that group when I ended up getting bumped into the tape down a descent and crashed pretty hard. It took a while to get back up and going again and I ended up crashing another 2 times after that trying to chase back. The group was gone, so I settled in and just raced a couple people that were still around me. The race was only 5 laps, so we were on the bell lap very quickly. I ended up passing one guy on the last lap but getting passed by one other. I tried to get back to the guy who passed me but didn't quite have enough space in the end.
After the race we quickly cleaned up and hit the road back to KC. It was a very good experience, and I learned a lot. It was a little disappointing to crash out of a group that I could have been competitive with, but that is racing. I'm now very excited to go race the UCI Masters World Championships this weekend.

Watch more video of USA Cyclocross National Championships 2012 on