Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kansas City: Maniions Cross

First real cross race of the season today and man, was it fun. Maggie and Cassidy came along and we had a perfect day on the side of a hill somewhat resembling the Augusta winery course of the bubba series last November. Much of the BoCoMo peloton was in attendance and it got me really psyched to get back to riding more frequently and doing some solid training over the next 2 months with some fun-loving strong-as-hell bike riders.

I did the cat 2/3 race and lined up with Jeff Yielding, Cale Mc, and about 13 or 14 other riders I knew nothing about. Starting about a minute ahead of us, was the 1/2 (open) race and looked like a good but small throw down, featuring butthead, Schottler, Shadd Smith, Steve Tilford, Ethan Froese, and others (see...KC racing rocks!).

Like I said, the course was very, very similar to the Augusta winery last except it was slightly more technical and the climb was full of switchbacks, instead of just a wall.

I still don't know what to expect from myself, as June was the last month in which I was able to consistently ride and train. But the last few weeks have been good on the bike in terms of consistency and I've been reminded that much of my own attraction to cyclocross is because there's a huge need to ride technically and endure an onslaught of pain and suffering. Yeah there's a need for high lactic threshold and training, but a huge piece of it is mental. That being said, I knew it was going to hurt and I was excited.

I rode about 6th or 7th wheel coming off the start and beginning a series of mostly flat or down hill, off camber turns descending towards the bottom of the hill. During most of the turns, I passed people and made my way to to 4th wheel. On the backside of the course, there was a short, very steep 10ft-ish 'run-up' that most people were riding but also botching the very top. After that 'wall' there was about a 90sec hill climb with a bunch of switchbacks, that lead to the start/finish straightaway. By the top of that climb, I was in second with about a 20-30 sec gap between me and a rider from Tradewinds. I gained a little on him during the descent and turns but at the bottom of the hill, there was a long, flat straightaway and my buddy Mr Ethan Froese kindly let me hang on to his wheel as he drilled it across the flats. Next thing I knew, I was on the 1st place wheel and the game was on.

It was a ton of fun and with 2 to go, I got a little gap after riding up the 'run-up'. I started to plan an attach when about 1/4 of the way up the big climb my left foot popped off the pedal and at first I thought my cleat had broken. After stopping and taking a look I realized the spring on my pedal (crankbros eggbeater) had snapped. I tried to pedal, but my foot just kept slipping out of the pedal.

I ended up borrowing a bike from Green beans and finishing the race in last place. Oh well...the only thing irritating about the situation is the long and convoluted relationship between me and pedals over the past 10 months. Ever since age 15, I've used Shimano SPD...never broke a pair and never had a problem. After last CX season, I wanted to try something that offered better mud clearance, as they tend to clog on very muddy courses. So, I went to eggbeaters. After a few months, they seemed to be causing or at least bare association with some knee pain, so I switched back to my SPDs. Then, after my knee surgery I couldn't ride at all in the SPDs and really needed the non-resisted float of the I switched back. Since then, my original set wore out and need to be re-built and a pair that only has 100 or so miles on them snapped, under the torque of a 140lb guy. I'm not impressed. I'd love to try the Time pedals, but really, really can't afford any new bike toys (our rent went up so we're really stressing what to do and our finances). So, probably back to the trusty shimanos!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

More cyclocross please!

This was a big weekend bike, friend, and family-wise. First, there was a night in St Louis without the toddler...just the wifey, myself, 2 great friends, beer, and a couple of pizzas from Pi.

I guess the point of this particular blog post is to communicate some of my opinions regarding things I like, some potential areas of excitement, and a few predictions for the coming cyclocross season.

Things I like:
1. Lots of jalepeno's on pizza
2. IPA
3. New bike parts that work really well
4. Happy, stoked, and motivated people (i.e. most of the people I conversed with at the cyclocross race before about 8pm on saturday night and all of the people on the Pedal the Cause 'training' ride saturday morning).
5. My wife's new pumpkin bread recipe.

Potential areas of excitement:
- We had 30-40 people show up for the Pedal the Cause training ride and flat clinic sponsored by Mesa on saturday morning. We took a nice mellow ride around the park and I got the opportunity to talk to some people about why they're doing the ride. One guy's wife has HPV positive head and neck cancer, which coincidentally is the area of my PhD research. It is very nice to be reminded of real life reality (dare I say suffering?) when it is so easy to be self-absorbed in esoteric molecular biology.

-I raced my bike in a race for the first time since July 15th after having taken 6 weeks completely off the bike and done almost zero hard riding. I choose to race my mountain bike in the single speed category of the Hermann Cyclocross race because it was only a 35 minute race and I just wanted to see how I felt. Somehow my mojo, seems to have not gone completely to hell and now I'm super psyched for the next 12 weeks of progression. Right now the plan is to race my cross bike as much as my health, family, and work balance can allow. My season goals are now: have fun, give the fast kids a hard time come November/December, and go to nationals in Bend and represent well. I'll definitely race collegiate as a grad student for Mizzou then probably the Master's 30-34, but maybe the B-race instead of masters.

Predictions for the coming cyclocross season in Missouri:
-Big Shark (Schottler and butthead) will be hard to beat, but there are potential challengers.
-We will learn that flat-barred 29er's can hang in most CX races
-My idea of racing on a 1x10 will constantly be a source of reconsideration.
-The following quote will hold true:

I'm psyched to learn more about these folks from the western part of the state. I have to say, they looked intimidating in their black and orange skin suits and gorgeous carbon bikes.

I'd be remiss not to mention the unfortunate situation with the storm at Hermann on Saturday night. There was serious lightening and eventual torrential rain fall. Due less to luck and more too pro-active, considerate leadership and disaster response on behalf of race organizers, park officials, public workers, and alert citizens no one was hurt (I don't really believe much in luck). Although, it sounds like there was a lot of damage to equipment and the park, I'm really glad that there were no serious injuries.