Monthly Archives: September 2011

USAC Ranking System

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USAC has a “new” ranking system that they are going to use to line up the National Cyclo-X Championships for all categories other than Elite, Collegiate and Junior 17-18. According to USAC, they are now using “an innovative algorithm” that compares you to everyone else. It also means all Master’s categories at Nationals will be line up according to this ranking.

You can go here and check out the press release by USAC about their revelation. From there you can click on a link and go to your USAC account and see your ranking in every discipline of the sport.

I don’t know enough about this to know if there is a chance it will be fair. I do know that you don’t get a very good ranking by racing small local races, or big races with badly ranked riders. You need to be competing at bigger races with lots of good, low ranked, riders to get a low score, which is what you’re striving for. For example, winning my age group at Nationals last year is worse for my ranking that getting 5th in a local Cat. 1 race in Kansas City.

I tried to see how they were going to award points for the UCI races I did last week in St. Louis and Madison, but for some strange reason, they assigned points to all of the races except the Elite races at those events. I emailed USAC and received the following out of office reply – I’ll be out of the office 9/13-9/18 at Collegiate Track Nationals in Indy. I’ll be in for a half day on Monday 9/19, then off again for MTB Gravity from 9/20-9/26 at Beech Mtn, NC. From there I go straight to Elite Track Nationals in Carson, CA from 9/26-10/2. From there I’m going on vacation from 10/2-10/6. I should be back in the office for a bit on 10/7. So, I’m holding my breathe on finding out the answer soon. I checked out some other UCI races from the East coast and they assigned points there, so I have no idea why they skipped last weeks Elite division points.

So, I guess we’ll all have to just wait and see if this works are perfect as we’re all hoping. I have no idea how they are going to treat Colorado and Oregon whose riders don’t “belong” to USAC. Also remember, if you want to line up good at Nationals and you’re not racing a UCI category, you should probably consider racing a regional event with better riders instead of racing your age category with not such highly ranked guys. Good luck.

Cyclo-X’s 80% Rule Rant

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From the USA Cyling Rulebook-
5G. Finish
5G1. Before the start of a race, it should be announced whether lapped riders will be pulled or remain in the race. If riders are to be pulled, the following applies:
(a) Riders who have been lapped shall continue the lap to a designated location before the finish line and withdraw, under the control of the officials.
(b) The Chief Referee may, after consulting with the organizer, impose the 80% rule. Under this rule, riders whose time gap to the race leader is at least 80% of the race leader’s time for the first lap will be pulled by the officials unless it is the final lap. The number of 80% is merely an approximation based on a typical course; the intent is that all riders should be pulled before they are lapped.
(c) Riders who have been pulled because of lapping or the 80% rule will be listed in the results based on their position when pulled and the number of laps remaining. The results will list the number of laps remaining after the lap on which they were pulled.

I’ve been pulled in exactly two cross races in my life. Elite Nationals last year in Bend and the UCI race on Sunday in Madison. Both times it was because the officials “decided” to impose this bullshit 80% rule. Neither of the times was there a chance that I was going to be lapped by the leader.

The rule is bullshit on many levels. Least of all that the officials don’t know how to calculate the time to enforce it. But most of all because it doesn’t allow good riders to have the chance to race, sometime up to the last 30% of the race. Riders that are going to finish in the top 25 of the Elite Nationals field, of over 150 guys on the start line. Riders that lost a huge chunk of their time the first two laps when they were not moving.

Another problem with the rule is that the officials seem to only use the 80% number and not the last section of part (b) that states- the intent is that all riders should be pulled before they are lapped. I think that in important races, that the officials need someone that is exclusively appointed to calculate the time that each, and every rider, will be lapped and then pull them at that point. I know that sounds like a lot of trouble, but really, it’s not. I could do it with a wrist watch and pencil easily. With basic chip timing, it would be a no-brainer.

Let’s use last weekend for an example. On Saturday, for example, the official pulling spot for the 80% rule was the same as Sunday, about 75 meters before the finish line. They pulled 6 riders, approximately 10% of the finishers at that point with 1 lap to go. So, those riders had to ride 75 meters to ride before they started their final lap and there was 0 % chance that they were going to be lapped because Ryan Trebon would have already finished the race. There should be absolutely no pulling of riders on the final lap unless there is a chance that the rider is going to interfere with the leader on the final straight.

On Sunday the same thing. I’m just going to leave myself out of the mix, but maybe up to 25% of the finishers of the race were pulled with very little chance of being lapped. And they have it “officially” stated that 28 riders, out of the 53 riders starting the race were lapped. Total bullshit. You can go all the way back to Mike Sherer, who they have officially finishing in 34th place. He would not of been lapped. He would of had to lose twice as much time with 2 to go, than he had been losing the whole race. And that is presuming that Bart Wellens would keep going the same speed as he had the whole race, which he didn’t. His final lap was 39 seconds slower than his fastest.

When I was pulled, with 2 laps to go, I waited at the line two minutes before Wellens came by. I was told by the official that the time back his was using for the 80% rule was 6 minutes, 44 seconds. I have no idea how he came up with that number. If you apply the rule correctly, 80% of the of the fastest first lap time of 8:37 is 6:51. And Wellens did an 8:26 lap, so if you subtract the two minute I stood there then it would of been only 6:26. And the official had already pulled 4 riders ahead of me, with Brad White, probably being 30 seconds ahead of me, so he was only 5 something back at the time. None of us were going to be lapped.

It didn’t really matter to me because I wasn’t having a good race, but it is the principal of the thing. At Nationals last year in Bend, I would have passed another 10 riders at least, maybe more, during the last two laps of the race I didn’t get to ride. That would have put me into the top 20, which was not a bad result considering how far back I started and how unbelievably hard it was to pass the first few laps. I would have had to lose 2 minutes to Todd in one lap when I was losing about a minute a lap average the whole race. It was just dumb.

This rule is for lazy officiating. It’s just a bad rule all around. What if a rider loses 60% the first lap. He is going to be lapped for sure the next lap, but the rule doesn’t apply. I don’t want lapped guys screwing up the finish of UCI races, but come on, this is just stupid. When there are only 8 USGP races, that have only 60 riders or so starting, I see no reason that they should be pulling over half of the guys of the race when the riders spend all this money and effort to come compete. The riders in these races aren’t shitty bike riders. They are the best in the country. I see no reason to pull them other than the officials can’t do simple arithmetic. Like the rule says, the intent is to pull riders before they are lapped, not if they not going to be lapped.

FYI – Today is National Coffee Day.

This is pretty much what I was thinking after getting pulled at Nationals last year.

All Over the Place

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I went to the Jane Goodall Live production in Topeka last night. That woman is amazing. I can’t imagine the amount of energy it takes to live her lifestyle. Traveling 300+ days a year trying to help save the planet. She is truly a hero for mankind.

While I was watching the presentation last night, I got this thought in my head about a segment I’d heard on NPR a couple days ago about the US using drone aircraft to kill some guys in Pakistan. I thought the segment was pretty interesting, but it must of bothered me subconsciously.

I think it was something that Jane Goodall said about “we’re not borrowing from our children and grandchildren, we’re stealing from them.” And that we should be looking at our actions much like the American Indians made decisions, not how the decision only affects us, but how the decisions are going to affect our “tribe” in the long term.

I have a problem with this drone warfare on a lot of different levels. Philosophically, I have a problem with just assassinating people without trial. Not to mention the collateral damage a missile inflects. Plus, it seems like a chickenshit way to conduct yourself. Build a multimillion dollar robot to fight for you. I don’t see that much difference between doing this and the roadside bombings that have now become commonplace.

But those aren’t the major reasons I’m against this. The main reason is that that it opens the door for everyone to use drones/remote control airplanes, cars, ect. to “fight” their battles. And let me tell you, it is not rocket science to strap a bunch of explosives on a remote control plane and fly it into a crowded area. I think we opened Pandora’s box here. I don’t think we should be doing things in the name of war that endanger our future generations. And this is definitely something that, in the short term, might save American soldiers lives, but in the long term, will be very costly to American society.

Okay, enough of that. Let’s all try to act more responsible.

Fritz was at the vet again most of the day yesterday. He doesn’t have any broken bones, but seems to have nerve damage on his whole left side. I thought he was having trouble with his front left side, but it’s his whole side. He is pinned up in our room and is going kind of stir crazy. He mainly spends all day and night outside, so hanging inside, under a dresser, is probably mentally stressing.

I started replacing the domes on the skylights at the building. I bought some new polycarbonate exterior domes that are supposedly hail proof. Disassembling the skylights and reassembling them is quite a process. I put the first two back together incorrectly, reversing the caulk and sticky tape. There is no instructions on this process, so it is kind of made up as I go. I think I have it down now and it will be pretty quick for the last two. I’m not going to redo the first two now. I’m sort of interested if it matters how I put it back together. I can always just redo it later.

I need to figure out what I’m doing this weekend and on. I’m sort of thinking about racing in Fort Collins. I don’t know why other than I’m interested in how bad it feels to race a cyclo-x at altitude nowadays. I’m thinking about going up to Steamboat for a bit to get some new frames, so it is sort of on the way.

There is a 100 mile gravel road ride in Lawrence this weekend, plus local cross races every weekend until next year, so racing is not a problem.

Jane Goodall is an inspiration for all.

Pretty big drone.

Not quite as enormous as “ours”, but would still do the trick. It comes with a camera and gps.

Fritz is not feeling well.

I have 5 of these just like this.

After removing the outer dome.

Back in place all fixed.

My promised photo of the repaired hole in the rubber.


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Life gets in the way of life. I thought yesterday was a free day since I’d driven until 3 am to “save” it. But when I got back here, real life took over and the day disappeared. Worse than that, it subtracted future days.

It all started trying to clean up my van, bikes and clothing from the mess on Sunday in Madison. Car washing is mandatory in these situation. For bikes, shoes, skinsuit, etc.

I then went down to the building and found that a piece of plastic covered OSB had blown off one of the destroyed skylights and ripped a hole in the rubber roof. That didn’t bug me too much because I’m an expert on rubber roofing now. I’m actually probably closer to a Cat. 3-4 in rubber roofing, but like all Cat. 3-4’s, I think I’m way more knowledgeable than I might be. So that was pretty much all afternoon.

Then last night, one of our cats, Fritz, got hit by a car. A neighbor came to our door and said he had hit a cat. Fritz was under the car, but not under the wheel. It kind of bothered me that the guy was calling me Steve and I had no idea who he was. But it was dark and I was more worried about the cat. Anyway, I dragged Fritz out from underneath the car and he was limp and breathing crazy hard and fast. So, Trudi called our Vet, Bryan Stancliffe, D.V.M., and he drove over from Lawrence and met us as the clinic. It was actually kind of interesting being in a vet clinic after hours. There are tons of animals there. And all want attention.

Anyway, he said Fritz was in shock, his front leg is not right and there was a chance of internal bleeding. He said if he lived over night, then he’d be okay. I decided that we should bring Fritz home because I didn’t want the cat to be alone and maybe die by itself in a cage. So, now the cat is under a dresser in our room. It moved around a little last night, so it probably will be alright. It can’t really walk, but cats make due pretty well. I’m gonna take him back this morning and have him checked out more fully.

The Jane Goodall live event is at a theater in Topeka tonight, so this day is pretty much done. Sometimes it is way easier being on the road, racing, than participating in everyday life.

Fritz at the vet.

Hole in the rubber. I didn't take a finished picture, I will post it later, being the Cat 3 roofer I am.

USGP Planetbike Cup Madison – Day 2

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Man, cyclocross can be a pretty hard sport. It was yesterday in Madison. It was a mud bath. The weather proceeded to get worse as the day went on. By the time we started at 4 pm, the course was pretty much done. It wasn’t completely done, because we made it worse.

I don’t really have much to write here. I kind of just rode around. Not that I didn’t put some effort into it, but my result, 29th, sort of reflects the amount. I sort of got into the flow of things after a couple laps, but then I got a huge piece of mud in my left eye, which is already bad, and that pretty much shut me down for the rest of the race. I might of looked like I was trying, but it was half hearted, and this is a sport that you can’t participate in like that.

I had the right tires. Since I got the screw in the rear Challenge Limus, I put on the new Specialized mud tire, the Terra. I still had the front Limus on. Both these tires seemed to hook up as well as could be expected in these conditions. It was very slick mud. Slick mud on top of hard pack in the corners. It was tricky. I still felt a little off balance, but was better that the previous two races of this trip.

Bart Wellens was going pretty fast. Not out of control fast, but much faster than I could go. About a minute a lap faster. My only complaint of the race was the officials applying the 80 percent rule. I’m going to rant on this sometime this week, so am not going to go into specifics now. But, the rule is bullshit and a lazy way for officials not to have to score the race, even if they apply it correctly, which they didn’t here.

So, that might be it for cross for a bit. 3 races and out. I don’t know. I need to get some muscle things figured out and Nationals and Master’s Worlds aren’t for nearly 3 months. I want to be going fast in January and racing cyclo-x for 3 months straight isn’t a good way for that to occur. I might do a few races here and there to keep some kind of cross form, but I’m not racing 8 races a month Oct.-Dec.

We drove back to Kansas last night after the race. Didn’t get back to Topeka until after 2 am. The most challenging part of the day, was trying to focus the whole drive. I had so much stuff in my eyes, I couldn’t come close to getting it out. I was using eyedrops constantly and it didn’t really help. I never regret making the effort of driving late to wake up at home. It makes a long day, but seems like it saves a day of driving too.

The weather here is perfect fall weather. Highs around 80 and lows in the 50’s. Can’t beat that.

Lots of off-camber u-turns in this race.

Here’s a photo from

Nice look.

My pile after the race. I had to take a dollar on the hill, trying to keep the professional thing going.

The Specialized Terra has a bunch of tread too. Not as deep as the Limus, but still a good mud tire. These tires might be kind of scarce this year. so if you get a chance to score some, snag them.

USGP Cross Day 1 – Madison

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Yesterday didn’t go all that great. It didn’t go all that badly either, it just was. I got an okay starting number, 45. But my problem was I wasn’t that motivated. I got to the race way too early. Trudi was planning on going into Madison for the Farmer’s Market, I guess it is great. But, she decided to not go because it started drizzling and I didn’t have anywhere to hang out in the wet.

So, I rode between each race. The course was squiggly. And the surface was pretty bumpy. I was having problems coming up with the right pressure to ride. If I got below 30 psi, my tires were folding over and above that much, it was super harsh. I enjoyed watching my buddy, Bill Elliston school the master’s 35+. He rode a pretty good race and is leading the series now.

The women’s race was a one woman show with Katerina Nash smearing everyone. Maybe not so much by time, but by making it look easy.

The men’s race was pretty stacked for a US C1 race. All the best guys from the US, plus a handful of Euros. Like I said, I was # 45, so I started on the 6th row. The starting stretch was pretty short so there wasn’t much time to move up at all. I wasn’t nervous the least. That isn’t good. I never do well at a race that I should be nervous at and am not. It never really rained hard enough to make anything muddy. If anything, it firmed up the course some.

I wasn’t horrible. Just pretty bad. I never passed a soul the first lap and was in the 40’s. I eventually moved up to the upper 20’s before screwing up a little and getting passed by a group of 5. I started feeling remarkably better with 3 laps to go, but then disaster struck. Well, not disaster, but bad luck. I started hearing a ticking from my rear wheel of something hitting my chainstay. It sounded like a rock caught in a MTB tread or something. It wasn’t every revolution, but pretty often. 1/2 a lap later I was riding on my carbon rim. I had a drywall screw sticking out of my rear sewup. I happened to be really far away from the pit and less than a stone’s throw from my van. Super easy, no brainer, choice.

I had 2 1/2 laps to go to the finish. I would have probably finished around 30th or so, but I would have liked to have ridden the last two laps to see if I was going to get going better. I was much better than St. Louis a couple days ago, but not stellar by any means. You have to be pretty stellar to have a good result in a race such as this.

Jeromy Powers was pretty stellar, but made a couple mistakes by taking some risks and it probably cost him the race. I was trying to spectate as much as I could, while riding the open fields, but the leaders got out of sight fairly fast. It is good that Ryan Trebon won. It is better if Americans win on our home turf.

I don’t know what course they are doing tomorrow. It is supposed to rain most of the night and all day tomorrow, so it should be tricky, which I’m looking forward to. I went and got a prescription filled for eye antibiotics, so hopefully, I will be seeing better today.

I guess we’re driving directly back to Kansas after the race. It is something between 8-9 hours back to Topeka, so it is going to be a late night. That is fine. I like driving at night.

Bart Wellens and Co. at the start.

The back doesn't seem too nervous before the start.

J-Pow bunny hopping the barriers. It cost him later.

Me not bunny hopping the barriers.

Drywall screw in my tire.

My friend Monique with her dog, Zaza (?), a dog she rescued down in Haiti and brought back to Wisconsin to live with her.

We went down to State Street in Madison to eat after the race. A UW football game just got out. Man, what people will dress like to support their team. This is not a good look.