Monday, November 30

A New Challenge

The call came in late Saturday night. Group ride Sunday morning from Depot Park in Clarkston. I had a good 2:15:00 ride earlier in the day and was feeling up to the challenge.

I arrive at the parking lot and the first rider I see is Greg Kuhn, I think. More cars show up and the group is impressive. Lummis, Joberon, Simonster, Herriman, Goddard, Reige, Tom Clark and another rider from American Cycles.

I knew now that I was in for some self inflicted torture. The route was the Rhino's back 40, with some extra 'hills' for added miles. The first couple miles went well and I just sat towards the back keeping pace. I almost make it through Rattalee, but just loose the group on the last climb. They turn North and I am trying to gap back with Tom in tow. I chase and keep them in sight, but I am not gaining ground. By the time they turn West the chase is off. Lucky for me Tom was having a bad day and we rode together the rest of the way.

The ride was tough for me. I will do the ride again and see how long I can hold on next time. Sunday is CX Championships, marking the end to race season(s). See you there.

Sunday, November 22

Bloomer Park CX

Before getting out of bed this morning, I knew today's race was going to be rough. Saturday's one hour afternoon preride was the only bike time since Iceman. Too add some additional physical torture Friday night I started skateboarding at Modern Skate and Saturday morning running. Hardly the things I should be doing to prepair for a cyclocross race.

After getting out of bed I realized the trouble I was in. My thighs were blown. Walking down the steps was torture. I needed to hold on to both hand rails and support my body. Oops! Time to loosen up if I could. Breakfast, pack and drive to Bloomer.

Warm up went well and then went to the line. Sitting third (last) row I wasn't sure how the start was going to be. Going into the first right hander the race started having it's problems. Guys scrambling from side to side looking for lines, making for some nervous moments. Coming to the first barrier we were bunched up 3-4 across and getting over and back on quick was going to be important. Once back on it was time to stand and go past as many guys as possible. I continue moving past riders until 2 to go. The lack of training and weeks 'other' activities took their toll.

2 to go. I am loosing the gap up to the Flying Rhinos rider and a rider from Essex Bras, that I had passed earlier, had bridged back and was sitting on. I gave a few attacks on the short grass climbs and out of corners, trying to shake him. Going up the climb behind the velodrome he was still there. I moved over to see if you would come through, but no luck. One last attempt up the velodrome climb and through the off camber. I had a bobble and was out of ideas. I rode comfortably for the rest of the lap and decided to start the sprint a little early. Just before we hit the final asphalt I started my sprint on the grass, trying again to get a small gap. Just onto the asphalt he pulls along side and starts clicking the gears. I put my head down and bury myself for about 10 strokes, but he is pulling away and I have nothing left. I gave my all and can't complain. I finished 13 of 29.

My wife and kids came to see me, so that was nice. Also, thanks to Jeff and Spike for the support. A couple weeks to the State Championships and I'm not sure what to think. I'll just wait and see.

Wednesday, November 11

Ice Ice Baby

Rolled to Crystal Mountain on Thursday night to sleep and have a Friday morning ride. After that it was time to hit Traverse City for packet pick-up and see how things would flow with the larger turnout. I was surprised at how smooth it went. The atmophere was awsome and people were in a great mood. After pick-up and check-in it was time to visit Brickwheels, for a thinner base layer and free water bottle and then go downtown for dinner. Back in the room by 8:30 and loading the ride bag for morning.

6:45 am - Time for breakfast then off to Kalkaska. Walked outside to 48 deg. and a rising sun. 20 minutes of light warm-up, then it was time to get in line. When I arrived at the start I was again surprised at how smooth things went. I easily got to the third row of my group and enjoyed the coast guard flyover. Chatted with some guys in line, saw JJC to my left ready to race, then it was 2 minutes to start and time to loose the vest and arm warmers.

Go - The race started with a quick sprint for about 50 yards then we settled in for the first left hand turn. I thought this would create some crashes, but everyone was attentive and calling out "LEFT, LEFT". After the turn we caught some head wind and the leaders slowed, allowing the field to swell across the road. This didn't last long, because now it was a race for the dirt. Just before we hit the service road before the school the group strung out 2-3 wide. Now on the dirt it was time to get position and think ahead to the right hand onto the two track. We made the right turn and I decided to stay put on the 'trail' and not power through the grass to move up. After making the next left the coarse opens to 2 track and this is when you have to make some moves. I was about 20-25? and guys were already feeling the start. The small rollers were slowing guys down so you needed to find away around. Feeling great I continue moving forward one guy at a time. Only 25 more miles left -then FLAT!!! WTF!!!

I move off the trail and begin the tube change. I knew it was going to take awhile because just the day before I swapped the rear wheel out. The tire is a bitch to get on the rim. I get the blown tube off and check the tire for debris. Nothing, so I blow the tube to find the leak. It's on the inside? I look inside the tire and see the rim tabe has moved and a spoke hole is exposed. I move it back over and put the new tube in - pump and check to make sure the tires sitting well. It's not. The rim strip is sticking out between the tire and rim? Deflate, move strip and pump again. I check and everything looks good. I call to some riders to see what group is now passing. 50-54 expert. I have lost at least 15 minutes.

Back on the bike I settle in fast, time to go. I am passing people left,right and through the middle. I still feel great and can't believe how strong I feel. I am flying up the climbs and keep the big ring turning over all the way through Williamsburg Rd. The race had it's slower moments. Three of the four single track sections were spent behind slower, less technical riders. My heart rate dropped from 165+ down to the 135-140 range. Sit and wait for things to open back up.
Made it to Timber Ridge and enjoyed the finish. My official time was 2:14:58. I know I could've done a 1:55:00-1:57:00. We will never know for sure. I'll have to wait for next year.

I had a great weekend. Everything went smooth. I drank way too much beer and my friend Jamie had is best IceMan ever. Life is Good. Last 3 Tailwinds Cross races then some rest.

Sunday, November 1

I didn't know they made 9th place trophies

Saturday's Veterans Park CX Ann Arbor was fun. Mid week I still wasn't sure I was going, but on Thursday night I registered and was commited. I made the drive and got ready to race. The temps were mild, but the wind was strong. I lined up towards the back per usual and had to be patient for the first lap. I passed when I could and moved through the group. The leaves and muddy climbs proved troublesome at time. I had problems clipping in several times and it cost me time and possition. I had a good race and lap times were consistent. I finished 9th of 30. I need to start towards the front and just go. If I fall back then I'll know where I stand.

Next weekend is IceMan w/ 4,000 other racers so anything is possible. My group has about 140+ riders registered. That reminds me of the old NORBA days. The lead out from town will be frantic and will set up most of the race for people. Your going to need to fight early and hope to recover after you get onto the two track.

Well that's it for now. IceMan then the last 3 tailwinds cross races before this season is over. Bitter sweet.