Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lost Trail CX

Courtesy of Roger Harrison

Man I wish grabbing the hole shot on the new machine was as easy as it is on the Hammer!! I'm starting to get the feeling that some out there are getting tired of watching me take off like I was shot from a cannon...It's too bad that the rest of the race doesn't go like that...oh well...gotta love that first turn speed!!!

Anyway...I decided to race the Saturday race and maybe Sunday...well...The events on Saturday made that decision for me, more on that in a bit. I made the hour journey south so I could get plenty of course inspection time. Course knowledge is huge peeps!! As I made my way around this track I came to a section that had a telephone poll that you could ride around, run, or better yet RIDE!! I was hesitant at first, mostly because I haven't pulled this move on a fully rigid bike EVER!! If it was an MTB race, I wouldn't have given this obstacle a 2nd thought...would've just done it. But I decided that it would be a good move if the racing was close.

So I do the easy move first...wheelie up and chain ring over it...pssssssshhhh...that was easy!!! So I turn around and give it the up and over move like it was meant to be!! I'm thinking to myself I'm totally doing this in the race, so off I go for more recon.

As I come back to the log (it's easier to type than telephone poll...) I set up to ride it and totally chicken out...WTF!!!!!!! It's now time for final prep and head to the start line. At the line there was 8 in the masters 40 field...hey...it's a top 10 for dfl...who doesn't like that?!

At the gun I hit the pedal and you know I got the hole shot...I was on the Hammer!!! I lead for about a half lap when Rick Mosely came around. I stayed with him for the rest of the lap and the he started to creep away...that left me to fight it out with Paul and Travis for second. Paul is riding well these days and I was going ok and the 2 of us eventually gapped Travis so now it was down to 2...who will make the first mistake???

There was an off camber right hand sweeper that you came into with a good bit of speed and if you didn't set up the turn just right you would have to brake or worse, slide out. Remember the mistake comment?? This turn was getting the better of Paul and 2 consecutive laps he did a cool 2 wheel drift...he lost a ton of speed and almost lost it both times but kept it rubber side down. The little advantage he had was washed away both times...good for me!!

The race rolls on and on lap 3 and Paul opens a gap of about 5 seconds. No big deal. I managed to keep it there until the log. By the way, when we came to the log on the first lap I didn't even think about it and flew over it like it wasn't there! Moving on...After the success on lap 1, I continued the log move.

Back to the 5 second gap at the log...Paul rides around it and I fly over it and the gap is immediately gone!! I'm thinking to myself this is where I will hit him and try to take the 2nd step!!

On lap 4 the same scenario was playing out only the gap was about 10 seconds early on but I was slowly taking time back in the turns and when I got to the log again it was back to 5 seconds...as I set up for the left turn that lead to the log I hit my line and carried more speed than before...as I look at the log I'm more or less right on it, so I yank on the bars and proceed to hit my front wheel and go for a ride. My head and right shoulder simultaneously hit the ground first...I hit my head hard enough that I didn't say ouch...I literally said I think I rung my bell...it hurt!!!

So I scramble to my feet and get going...the nice 20 second gap to 4th is now 5 seconds with a little more than a lap to go...Travis chased hard, we pretty much stayed at 5 seconds until about 2/3rds of the way through the last lap. I opened it up to about 10 seconds by the time I got to the log again which I rode around! Look at the big brain on me!! Anyway he eased up and I nailed down third.

It was a good race and I made the first real mistake and that was it. The great log incident of 2014 is why I didn't race on Sunday....I'm pretty sure I got a mild concussion for my effort...oh well...big risk, big reward...sometimes!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Jingle Cross 2014

courtesy of Yet Another Bike Photo Page

Hmmm...where to start??? How about this...THAT WAS EFFING AWESOME!!!! For the tens of people that read this, if you are not a cyclocross racer this race is the equivalent of Joe Martin...but waaaaaaaaay better because it's CYCLOCROSS!!! 3 days of racing with some fast mutha f@#%as!!

I decided last year I wanted to go to Jingle Cross because the local scene is getting pretty skinny (field size) these days and I wanted to line up with as many crazed CX loonies as possible...this was my best bet so away I went.


We arrive at Mt. Krumpit to find a scene that I've never seen at a CX race...think full on party atmosphere!! In my infinite wisdom I calculated the drive time without pee breaks and stopping for gas, so by the time I was ready to inspect the course, it was about time for the first race to roll. I managed to get about 2/3rds of a lap before the first race went off...oh well...

For this race I was toeing the line on my "new" cx rig...I should have done A LOT more race tuning to this machine...because the shifting went away and the bars rotated down, a little...I don't think I could've done anything different for the bars, I hit a bump bombing down the backside of Mt. Krumpit at speed (25mph+) and that's what caused the slippage but the shifting woes were caused by a loose derailleur hanger and had I done my usual prerace wrench routine I would've caught this....oh well.

Moving on...The week leading up to this weekend I had a mild head cold which started Monday and had me feeling about half run down all week, I was still feeling this way on Friday. Needless to say I felt pretty flat for the entire race on Friday night.

At the call up I was on the 3rd row which I was content with, not DFL by any means. All I had to do was get a good start and life is good...My new rig and I are not on the same page when it comes to getting good starts, I proceeded to miss the pedal about 20 times...what 3rd row starting position?!?! I was not last but that really sucked!!!

Now racing along I can tell this isn't going to be a great race but forge ahead I did. As we hit the climb for the first time, I "run" up it and remount for the scorching fast descent, about half way down I hit hit a bump, this is where the bar slipped...it was so loud I thought I broke my wheel or frame along with the slippage. The course leveled out and I continue on looking over my bike as I ride and decide that it is okay.

A little while later, maybe a lap and a half...the shifting decides it doesn't want to work...WTF!! I managed to get it to the finish line, 22nd out of 35, and gave the bike a toss...well...more like a drop than a toss...that bike hates me!!! Today (Monday) I decided that I will race that bike as much as possible to get rid of the gremlins. We WILL come to an understanding!!!!!!


After the usual French press, It was time to decide which bike to ride. I decided the Hammer would be my steed...it has a flat bar and I would most likely be the only one on the grid with one but it was ready and has never let me down mechanically and I get great starts on Mjolnir!!! I learned a few weeks back that having a pit bike helps eliminate the dreaded DNF. That meant I would have to get the new rig squared away just incase. As I look it over I discovered the culprit to the shifting woes and of course as soon as I remedy that it shifts fine again...good deal I have a bike that will work if I need it.

Since my less than stellar ride didn't get me into the top 16 on Friday, I had to wait but got my same spot on the grid again. At the gun I stomp my pedal and away I go. About 30 seconds later the group was flying down the start strait and I was up against the iron gate barriers coming to a slight left bend...at this point I was like oh shit, I'm gonna hook my bar and wad up half the field...fortunately I squeaked by and life was good.

The course was a little different today, it had a LONG climb on it...folks...I am not a climber!!! It's a good thing I decided on the Hammer because I don't think I could've ridden the climb with the 36x27 low on the new rig...but managed it, sort of, with the 34x32 low on the Hammer. Another feature was a LONG sand pit, which was easily rideable due to the freezing temps. The rest of the course was mostly the same with minor changes here and there.

The race wears on and I settle into a rhythm, I felt better on Saturday but still not quite right and managed to finish 22nd out of 45, the biggest field of the weekend. A better day for sure but still off a little.


The weather had forecasted snow for the area starting Saturday evening and Mother Nature did not disappoint!! It started about 3:00 and continued off and on until morning...We awoke to about 3 inches of the white stuff. I wasn't really keen on racing at that point based on how I felt out there the last couple of days...I finally said fuck it...I'm in.

We arrive to find the course cover with snow. I hurry up and get going so I can get a look at the course and get a feel snow on frozen ground...feeling confident in my course inspection...I decide to roll the Hammer again due to another LONG climb and an equally greasy technical descent.

After the call ups, I got my same 3rd row spot on the grid. At the gun I stomp my pedal and away I go. The 1st quarter mile or so was paved and as we got up to speed the roost started flying...this caught me by surprise...but kinda laughed about it once I realized what it was. As we brake for the first turn I was in 15th-ish...and was feeling good. I managed to pass a few here and there to move up close to the top 10 only to give those spots back on the EVER FREAKIN LONG CLIMB!!! With 2 to go, I realize I'm feeling like I wanted to the entire weekend, REALLY GOOD!! So I continue on, going fast when I can and trying to limit the damage on the climb. Which in the end had me 17th on the day out of 32. I was happy to see that because all I really wanted was to crack the top 20 all 3 days...a good note to end on fo sho!!!

So I've had a little time for this to sink in and as I said at the beginning it was a blast!! Did I have the weekend I wanted to have, not really, but that's racing, you can't be great every weekend and I'm good with it, especially on that stage. I do think had I not been sick I would've faired a little better based on how I felt on Sunday. Will I go back, I don't know, I said on Sunday I wouldn't but I've said that before and chances are I will because CYCLOCROSS RULES!!

Before I end this installment, I have to say thanks to the entire 360 race team for allowing me and others to warm up in their heated pop-ups and to John "The Machine" Jones for bringing his pop-up for extra room for the less traveled cx racers such as myself. You guys ROCK!!!


P.S. I will add pics when I find 'em...it was too freaking cold for me to take any!!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I'm still here...

So I see it's been a while since the last post and there are a variety of reasons but mostly I've been uninspired so blogging was put on the back burner.

So a little rewind. After the DK my left knee decided to wig out and my riding came to a screeching halt for the better part of a month...in that month I managed about an hour of trainer time to see if I could ride and of course the answer was HELL NO!!! At this point my march toward CX season was put on hold indefinitely. The plan there was to start build that foundation in July and August and come out swinging in September...needless to say this did not happen.

With a ton of stretching, foam rolling and the like I was able to get out and ride, which was better than nothing but I wanted to put down some power but my knee wouldn't allow it...so "just riding" is what I did until September.

In the "down time" I decided it was time to build a traditional CX machine. Which I did, mostly out of curiosity, I wanted to see if the similar riding position to my road bike would produce more speed...as of now the verdict is still out on that one. Here's a pic, It was complete but not dial in by any means...hence the bars being rotated up...

Moving on...so with a new bike and the ability to "train" again I started the march towards a good CX season...I had decent fitness going into this period but zero intensity, so I was a little nervous when it came time to do intervals. To my surprise they weren't as bad as I thought, actually easier than I anticipated!! BONUS!!!

On to the first race of the season the Buffalo Bill CX...

It was either up or down...not good for me and my low fitness level but race I did. The race went ok, I could tell the depth wasn't there but I wasn't disappointed, after all I want to be going good now not back in September!!

The next race was the Oakley Night Cap in Des Moines.

I highly recommend this race to EVERYONE!! I had a good week of training going into this race but still not where I wanted to be...stupid knee!!! Anyway, I had a good ride and managed a 5th, even with a knuckle head t-boning me 3 turns into the race and eating a bug about a minute later...those 2 incidents had me loose contact with 1st and 2nd...it also helped me burn a match or 2 trying to get back to 2nd wheel...it was fun and I will go back!!

Next up was a race in St Joe.

I knew this race would be tough due to hills but it was a well thought out track and it had 2 sections of single track. Combine that with some mud and you have a good CX course...for skinny people!! Anyway, I managed a good start and got the hole shot because I DID NOT want to be behind anyone going into the singletrack...I ended up 4th on the day, the hills finally beat me down...a good effort nonetheless.

2 days of Joules Cross was next...

These races were a good barometer of where I am compared to some really fast guys...I gotta say I was a little bummed at how I did but was happy at the same time knowing the knee setback will pay off at some point in the near future. Part of my problem was a lot of climbing once again...oh well...I still had decent races on the weekend.

The Colavita/Boulevard CX weekend was up next. On Saturday I scored a big fat DNF...due to my freehub seizing...LAME LAME LAME LAME LAME LAME LAME!!!!!!!!! I was in 3rd at the time and the 3 of us were riding away from the field and I was feeling good!!!

On Sunday I was out for redemption and was going to go blind trying...which I did!! I managed to finally get on the podium in 2nd.

I think I might have been able to fight it out for 1st but I started really hard and kept the hammer down too long and paid for it...oh well...I do it at least once a year!

And finally the GP HPT...

At the gun I got the hole shot, I was a little worried about this because my starts aren't as good on the new cx machine but I managed to get there first anyway. As we entered the dirt track for the first time I eased up and let a guy on a dual suspension mtb that was determined to lead the race take hold of the reins. I got in the draft and recovered.

I decided to follow the mtb through the infield grass because it was technical enough that no one was going to come around but once we hit the dirt track again I drilled it and took the lead. I guess my pace was good enough to ride away from all but one and after one lap there was at least 15 seconds to 3rd and growing.

On to the 3rd lap. I decided it was time for Travis (the guy that finished 2nd) to take up the pace making. At first this was a good idea, but with a few small bobbles here and there and Travis accelerating hard out of the turns it was starting to backfire. A small gap opened up but I managed to close it down before it got too big. At this point I decided I need to be in front and make him race my race.

As we left the dirt track and headed for the steps over the wall Travis kinda fumbled his dismount and I took advantage of it, got back on the front and drilled it. He eventually got back to my wheel but had to earn it. This is the way it stayed until the last lap.

As we entered the dirt track for the last time I kept the pace high enough that he wouldn't come around and protected the inside line on top of that which worked until we hit the last stretch of dirt track that lead to the outside. Travis launched an attack and the drag race was on to the next turn. Initially he got a half a bike on me I grabbed a gear to even it up and once I realized he had no more I clicked 2 more and took the lead again and got to the next turn first.

From then on, about a half lap, I turned the screws and kept the pace high. I knew at that point it was going to be a sprint for the line. As we came to the last complex of turns, I made sure I was in the big ring well in advance of the last turn. Once we hit that it was a head down drag race to the line and I got him by about a half bike length.

I never really suffered until late In the race and that was my doing to make Travis suffer too, even then there was still enough in the tank to get the win!

It's been a while since I've had to race wire to wire, it made the win that much better!!!

That was a lot of writing...now you know!!