Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not so fast!!

Todays plan was to get a better start. So, first thing I missed my pedal, but regained quickly. Just as we're reaching full speed, I hear the dreaded sounds of a crash, right at the front. I had to brake hard and swing way to the side, but I missed the crash. Now I'm just battling to get back up to speed and get to the first turn. Not a good start. Oh well, I didn't really make any big mistakes and did pretty well finishing 16th of 57 finishers.
Since this is only my second year racing I really am happy with my results. Most of these guys I'm mixing it up with have been doing this for years. But I know I need to work on some things for next season. Such as: Sam Morse was one of the guys in the crash, after about a lap and half he caught and passed me. I figured I'd stay with him as long as I could. Turns out that distance is about a quarter lap (or less). He came from the ground in DFL to finish in 6th. So I need to work on better fitness for next year. I spent the last three laps battling with Brian McGinnis. Brian owns a bike shop and says his main training is his commute to work. He also doesn't race road or mountain bike, he races BMX! Today's course had a lot of swoopy, uphill, downhill turns and when I was sitting behind Brian he would slowly open a gap on me through the turny parts. I could fairly easily close the gaps, but each of those chases is a match burnt because I'm slow in the corners. So I need to improve my cornering for next season.
Tom Stevens really puts together a killer course. He's done Gloucester, Providence and Baystate this weekend. He's so good at using the terrain to the best advantage. He puts in lots of uphill and downhill, but nothing crazy. He fills the course with turns that are usually grouped together and keep you on your toes. Just when you think you have the rhythm, he tightens it up. He puts barriers in places that seem odd at first, but turn out to be really fun and challenging. His courses are really tough and challenging and technical and I've loved every one!
Here is one reason why I like being a bike racer

Ribeye with mushrooms and onions, baby carrots, broccoli, Parmesan bread, apple cider. One more week to eat like a pig.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I knew I shouldn't have had that sixth piece of pie!

No joke, six pieces of pie on thanksgiving. The tally: 1 pumpkin and 1 pecan before dinner, 1 pumpkin, 1 pecan after dinner, 1 pumpkin, 1 blackberry later that night. The blackberry was delicious, by the way, my brother and sister-in-laws own berries.
So that's how I felt this morning before the Verge Baystate Cyclocross race in Sterling Ma. Like I had eaten six pieces of pie. I warmed up pretty well, but just felt logy.
I really need to be more aggressive in the start and take advantage of the call-up. I've figured out that I'm fit enough to move up through quite a few places, but I'm wasting that fitness in the start. Rather than let people by and worry about going into the red zone, I need to fight for a better position and than move up. Anyway, I ended up 17th today out of 50. I had a small mechanical. My back skewer came loose again and my wheel was just flopping around in the dropouts. I had to stop and lost the group I was with. I did fight back up to the remains of the group and got two spots back. Today was a pretty technical course, but tomorrow's supposed to be better. We'll see.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cheshire Cross

This is what happens when you bring in the single speeds. Just kidding, just because I don't get it doesn't mean in doesn't make sense. Cheshire turned out to be another fun local race. Not huge, but good atmosphere. It was also the Connecticut State Cyclocross Championship. No, really, what you didn't know that? Well it was. I did the 45+ race along with probably 20 others. We were the first race of the day for a change. John Funk, Paul Nyberg and myself quickly formed a group and put a good gap on the rest after the first lap. John Funk pedaled around with Paul and I for another lap then decided he was ready to race and left us. Nyberg went down in the sand and I got by and he never did catch back up. I didn't get beat by John by all that much this time though, maybe 30 seconds or so. Anyway He is the 45-49 Connecticut Champion, I'm the silver medalist and Paul got bronze.

The course was fun, Fairly technical, pretty mountain bikey. We've had a lot of really fast power courses this season, so some extra technical was fun. The long run-up was tough. I shot a video of the cat 4 race which a bunch of my mountain bike buddies were in. During the 3-4 race I went over to check out the "Hill People" and there was quite a commosion going on. You have to love a bike race where someone brings a drum set. Not just a drum, but a drum set. Major heckling going on. I think I'm happy that nobody was there during our race, I think it would have been annoying.
Two more weekends of cross, then it's break time and hopefully some skiing.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mercer Does('nt) Disappoint

It's like adobe, the mud at Mercer. A fine texture, blended with freshly cut grass and earthworms to form a brick like structure that encapsulates your drivetrain. God, that was great, or kinda good, well maybe just OK. It's the stickiest most life-sucking mud ever encountered.
Actually the race was pretty good. We did four laps and it took and hour to do. I got my typical slow start, but rode up to 10th by the end of the second lap. But the life-sucking mud just ground me down and I ended up in 16th out of 60. Of the Connecticut people I knew, I was the highest placed.
It hasn't rained all day, the winds been blowing and it's been pretty warm. Hopefully the course will be dry enough tomorrow to pack into a groove. That would nice. We'll see.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night in New Jersey

We made it down with no excitement. Stopped by the venue and walked the course. An earlier email from the promoter said they didn't want anyone riding the course due to the weather , but lots of people were. The new location looks like the grass should hold up better. It's in a really flat area with the exception of some berms and swales which they've used to make off-cambers. Hard to say for sure, but it looks like another fast course. We ran in to Troy Wells giving his clinic to the youngsters. He was taking them through all the off-camber corners and showing them the best lines, but also the alternate lines. Maggie got a picture of him bunny hopping the barriers. I don't think the little guys will be doing that. We also ran into Wayne Barlow checking out the course. We'll be racing each other tomorrow.

We checked in to the hotel. We've been staying at the Homewood Suites the last few times we've travelled and really like them. For $99 it's hard to beat. There's so much room and they have a full size fridge, microwave, sink, oven, stove. Makes it very comfortable.
Our daughter Lynn and Her boyfriend are staying with us tonight and possibly tomorrow. Because the wind is blowing so hard, the promoter isn't putting up any tape until morning. We all plan to get to the race early to volunteer to run tape. I might bale once I get the others working so I can ride a little. Shhhh, don't tell them.

Check out this picture of me that the USGP is using. No really it's of me, Tim Johnson was just about to get it the way.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Armageddon Cross (a.k.a. Mercer)

For a year now I've been checking the weather for this coming weekend. It was looking so good. What went wrong? Who angered the gods? If you remember Mercer from last year you know what I mean. If not google it.
The only thing that might make it a better situation than last year is that they moved the course location. Oh well, this will be one of those races where you can say "I was there". More to come...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cycle Smart International November 7 & 8

So Saturday was my birthday, and I can now officially race in the 45+ geezer class. Yep, 45 on Saturday, and a 10th place finish as a present to myself. Those geezers are fast and really know how to ride. They never let up.
It's amazing how much confidence has to do with it. As I've had some good results lately, I start to realize that I deserve to be there, and that all my hard work and "training" is paying off. But confidence is only part of the equation. I've definitley been feeling strong and have been getting a lot better at chasing, attacking and recovering along with just plain riding faster. I'm a little slow to pick up on the strategy part though.
On Saturday I didn't get a great start, but through the first three laps I managed to ride up to a group that was basically the "chase" group to the leaders and had some fast riders in it. The next few laps I noticed that I was faster than them through the sand, which was only a quarter lap to the finish. I knew all I had to do was not blow it this last time through the sand and I had 'em. When I hit the grass they were ahead of me, but the thing with riding vs. running is that you usually have the major advantage of acceleration, which I did and never looked back.
Hey, 10th isn't that good, but I'm getting closer.
Sunday was a real fun race. The course was quite a bit more turny, but still really fast. Again, not a great start, but I worked up through the group. I caught up to Nyberg in about 8th or 9th place but he wasn't having any of it and left me in the dust. just as we settled into a group, I clipped my pedal on a root while trying to take my super secret line and went down. There goes the group. I think that was my first fall of the season. I didn't think I would catch back on but I did and even managed to beat all but two of the guys in the group. I finished 13th and managed to move back up to 20th overall for the series. I'm looking forward to Mercer next weekend, for the racing and the chance to spend some time with our daughter and J-dog (sup).

The youtube clip above was made from the exact same .mp4 clip as you see below. The only difference was Maggie copied the file to her mac and then uploaded it to youtube. It sounds like the problem is with my PC. I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

West Hill Cyclocross

Good race today at the West Hill Shop in Putney, Vt. The fields weren't huge, but there were some good racers there. The weather was beautiful, and with the rain overnight the course was slippery enough to keep it interesting. The 45+ masters race had about 12 guys today, with Eric Marro, Paul Nyberg, Wayne Barlow and other fast guys. The start here is a long drag up the pavement from the bottom part of the course and up into the field, then immediately over the barriers. This is the only time you ride that section of pavement. Next the course winds through some slippery corners and down into a pit with a short run out of it. This is followed by some more grass, around the shop, through the BMX jumps and then down the hill. The hill is pretty tricky with a left hand turn followed by a right onto a steep, bumpy hill with a deep mud hole on the left and a narrow strip of hard ground on the right. A final stretch of muddy trail led out to a lap around the cornfield where the wind made it tough if you were riding alone. A quick trip up the dirt road and you shoot up the first part of the run-up and hit the ground running without loosing your momentum. A quick remount and repeat 6 more times.
A group of 5 of us formed at the start and rode together for the first four laps. On the road section of the 5th lap, Eric Marro put the hammer down and took one other guy with him. Nyberg and I put on the gas and dropped Wayne Barlow. No matter how hard I tried to drop Nyberg, he kept closing my gaps in the slippery corners. I knew I was waisting my effort trying to drop him. It felt like I was slightly faster than him in the run-up, so, on the last lap, I waited for him with the intention of gluing myself to his wheel and coming around just before the run-up. I knew this was a gamble because in the past I've had issues keeping someone elses pace. But the rest I gave myself letting him come up to me made me confident that I could get him. As we came up the road, we caught two lapped riders and when we did Nyberg went, with me glued to him. As soon as we were at speed I hit it as hard as I could, coming around and headed for the run-up first. It was funny, because I was thinking "here comes the puke", but it didn't and I ended up in third.