Monthly Archives: October 2011

Weekend

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I can’t believe that I’ve been back in Kansas for a full 5 days and it is the weekend already. I’m not sure where the time went or what I did. It’s crazy how that happens.

I originally had planned to be out in Colorado by now. There is a rumor that Kent Eriksen has new drawings floating around of new cross frame designs. And Steamboat Springs winter begins way earlier than the rest of the country, so it’s better to get out the sooner than later.

But, I guess I spent the week messing with skylights, sick/lost cats and mowing. I mowed most of the afternoon yesterday. It is the only upside of having a super hot, dry summer, the grass didn’t seem to grow too much, so my intermittent visits to Topeka this summer was enough to keep code services at bay.

I spend so few Saturday mornings at home, I don’t really have a routine. I do like listening to Cartalk and This American Life on NPR. The problem with listening on Saturday mornings is that I can’t look forward to listening to them again on podcast later when I’m going some mundane project.

I feel pretty beat. I’m going to go out for a ride this morning and see if I should go over to Kansas City for a local cross race a 2pm. The local cross scene has progressed a ton the last couple years, so the races are super competitive now. Tomorrow is the annual 100 mile gravel road century that Thom Leonard puts on. He has moved down to Athens Georgia, but is coming back to ride the awesome gravel roads around Lawrence. The ride starts way too early for me, but after I get there and get moving, it is alright. Okay, I need to get out riding so see if I’m going to ride more later.

1st Cross Win of the Season

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I went to Kansas City yesterday and raced the Boss Cross. It is a long standing series that Jeremy Haynes has been promoting for the last dozen years at least. It used to be in small parks throughout the downtown KC area, but recently has moved into more “cross type” venues. I think I liked the urban crosses better, but now there are over 200 guys racing, so that doesn’t work out so well.

I didn’t decide to go to the race until nearly it was time to leave. I picked up Bill, then Brian and made our way, the hour, over to KC. The course was pretty good. It had a good mix of technical corners and riding sections, but it was pretty bumpy. And there were two sand runs that were way too long. Maybe 25 meters each, with no chance of riding any of it either way.

I won the race. I never really got going, but I never wasn’t going either. I was following Andrew Coe most of the first lap. We had a small gap on the rest of the field. Andrew screwed up riding this steep hill that was loose and I took over. I never felt like I had a big ability to punch it, but was more just dieseling around. The ground was rock hard, so it was pretty hard getting the right pressure down. I ended up with something like 27 psi front and rear. I never really folded my tires over, so maybe I could have went a little lowere.

My back started seizing up with about 15 minutes to go. I was running into lapped riders continually by then, so I was having to keep my head up. It seemed like I was lapping big groups always at the wrong spot. It didn’t really matter, I had a pretty good cushion and even when I was having bad laps, I wasn’t losing any time.

Anyway, I have a hard time figuring this sport out. It is super hard, as we all know. I don’t understand why I can do two cross races last weekend in Madison, and have no lower back issues and then this fairly flat race and be toast. Maybe it was the 22 running sand sections. It was slow as hell and painful. Plus, I don’t get how I got fairly smeared by two minutes, by two of these guys in St. Louis, John Schottler and Josh Johnson, both from Big Shark, and then beat them here when I felt like I was riding much worse. Even Andrew Coe’s time in St. Louis was a couple minutes faster than mine. Go figure.

So, I’m getting up in 5 and a half hours and am driving over to Lawrence to ride an 100 mile gravel road ride with a bunch of guys. It is sort of organized. And it has sort of become an annual tradition. It looks to be a pretty nice fall day with the high approaching 85. That is going to seem pretty hot. I could go to the Boss Cross #2, at the same venue, but the gravel road ride is just plain fun. Plus, I can probably use the miles. I’m not sure which one my back would approve of more. I guess I’ll see in a few hours.

The starts here in Kansas are pretty casual.

Winning.

Christian Heule outsprinting Jeromy Powers today in Glouchester. I guess the one armed victory salute was in vogue today. Man, does that guy have some pretty great muscles in his right arm.

Bromont happy to see me after the race.

I have a pretty good puncture wound in the back of my leg here. I don't quite remember when it happened though. That is kind of weird.

Notice my number, 11. Couldn’t lose the race with that number.

I mounted some Hutchingson Bulldog tubeless tires on my Shimano wheels for the gravel road ride tomorrow. They should be the ticket to avoid mutiple flatting. We'll see.

The Perfect Day for Riding

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Yesterday was perfect bike riding weather. I love the fall. The cool, crisp mornings that heat up to nearly perfect temperatures. That was yesterday here in Kansas.

I went over to Lawrence and did a perimeter loop of Douglas County on gravel with a bunch of other guys. There were probably 25 of us or so at the start. Some weren’t doing the full 100 miles, but wanted to get a good ride in before family obligations got in the way. Anyway, no matter how far you went, it was a real nice day to ride a bike.

I’ve done this ride the past 4 years and this was by far the nicest weather for it. Eastern Kansas isn’t as flat as one might think. It rolls pretty good. We rode on a lot of pretty primitive roads. They weren’t dirt, but they didn’t receive gravel or maintenance on any kind of routine basis. I love those roads. Only maybe 10 cars passed us the whole ride. It hasn’t rained here for a long while, so when a car did go by, there was quite a dust plume.

It was 65 miles before we stopped for lunch. That is a good way to split up a long ride. 2/3, 1/3. I never would normally stop and eat a full lunch out training, but this wasn’t training, it was riding.

Thom Leonard got a bunch of bread from WheatFields, brought cheese and meat. The only thing we were missing was red wine. It was hard getting going after lunch. A lot of guys decided to just roll back to town, so it all split into smaller groups, which was fine.

All and all, a perfect way to spend a Sunday. I have no regrets not going over to KC to defend my Boss Cross lead. I was/am mildly crippled from Saturday’s race. Probably all the running in the sand and the bumpy course. Whatever the reason, I made a good decision to spend the whole day out on my bike with friends.

We were riding in and out of fog early on the ride.

A photo of the group from over my shoulder. I can't believe I actually got a picture of Dan Hughes here (All black a couple guys back on the right). Dan spent maybe 5 miles total riding with us. I'm not quite sure what he was doing the rest of the time other than going real fast all day long.

Bill's rear shift cable exploded and he was stuck in a 14 for a hour. Then I remembered I had some Gorilla tape with me for a boot and he was back in business the rest of the day.

Most of the ride was out in the open, but there was a fair amount of tree covered climbs.

Brian and Catherine at an overlook. The trees are just starting to turn.

Lot of the roads in Northeastern Kansas are lined by these stone fences. They were constructed by the early settlers and through the century up to German POW's during WW2.


This is a good example of what we call hedgerow here in Kansas. It is really Osage Orange trees, but we still call it hedge. The wood is super hard and dense. It was said back in the Indian day, that a good hedge bow was worth two horses. Shows how hard it would be to make a bow out of hedge back then.

Coming back into Lawrence everything is much more organized and sculptured than out in the country.

Bike Riding of Old

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When I was a kid, I used to ride my bike with my brother. I had a blue Schwinn Stingray and I’d sit on the handlebars, facing backwards, and Kris would sit on the seat and steer. We’d both pedal, with me pedaling backwards and Kris pedaling forward with his feet on top of my feet. It was amazing to us how fast we could get going with both of us pedaling.

We started wandering way past the boundaries set by our parents. We eventually got all the way to the Kansas River, that splits the city North and South. We eventually found a park, a couple miles from our house, where some kids had built a make shift BMX track. I don’t think there were banked corners, but it had lumps in it and was all dirt, with no grass.

We never spent too much time at the track. It was the fall and during school. By the time we got down there and each of us rode a few laps, we had to head back home before it got dark. No one said a thing about kids making a bike track in the park. We didn’t think a thing of it, except that it was super cool.

I went by that same park yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised that there were a few kids hanging there. But all were really young, with at least one adult for each kid. But, the bike track has been gone for decades. It is just flat, boring grass now.

I was thinking how strange it is that there is no chance that a bunch of kids could get together and “build” a BMX track in the middle of a city park now. I got called into talk to the Topeka Parks Department Head a few years ago, for mowing a mile loop in a park by my house. He threatened to arrest me for mowing the grass down to the level that the city was supposed to keep it at. I explained we were having a race there the next weekend and that 8 inch grass didn’t work, but he was adamant on his stance, since he’d received a nasty call from a County Commissioner that lived on the park.

Anyway, it all seems wrong. Why not have a bunch of kids on their bikes riding around in the grass in a little used park. It is what we all call cyclo-x, but for them it would just be fun. Sometimes I wish that Americans today had a closer mindset to Americans of old. “If it doesn’t hurt anything, then why not?” was the logic my parents and the parents of most of my friends used. Most of the best experiences I had with I was young didn’t involve any adults at all. Why not let our kids get together to invent and build some stuff on their own. It couldn’t hurt.

This is nearly the exact bike I had when I was young.

Ranking Update

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I started looking at the ranking system abit and still don’t understand it fully, but the system that the USAC is using is better than what they’ve been using in the past. The key to the system working correctly is that each race that each rider competes in needs to be entered into the system in a timely fashion. Because if this doesn’t happen, then “an ripple effect” occurs and it can spread throughout the ranking system. I don’t quite understand if when a previous event is entered into the system after a lapse, if the program takes those results into consideration and then maybe every other ranking number in the system could theoretically be affected.

I sent the email below to Andrea Smith at USAC on Sunday night and she replied back to me almost immediately. That is service. She checked into my question and sent the following response back to me this evening.

I think it might take a little bit of time, but maybe if we all try to contribute here a little bit, this system might become relevant and usable.

Hi Steve-
I did some checking into this and it turns out your are spot on regarding the cause of the issue. Many UCI races are only turning in UCI #s for the elite categories and are omitting USAC license info. Our events and IT departments are aware of the issue and have been working on a programming solution to hopefully auto-correct the mix-up (correlating UCI #s to USAC #s). This will of course likely cause a bit of a ripple effect as the missing results are validated, effecting riders’ ranking and therefore the weight of other races. When this takes place we do plan on sending a communication explaining this and we also have another reminder planned to distribute to race directors again emphasizing the importance of submitting results as correctly as possible.
I hope this helps answer your question and welcome your thoughts as we work to nail down a system that provides the best possible ranking for our members.
See you in Madison?

-Andrea

—–Original Message—–
From: Steve Tilford [mailto:steve@stevetilford.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2011 7:56 PM
To: Smith, Andrea
Subject: Ranking System

Andrea-I’ve been looking at the ranking system that USAC is going to use to line up riders, other than UCI categories, at Cyclocross Nationals. I posted something on my website, but still have a few questions. I sent an email to Tom Mahoney, but it looks like he is going to be out of the office maybe until ‘cross Nationals in January.

I was wondering why the Elite races at the Gateway Cup in St. Louis and the USGP races in Madison didn’t receive any ranking points. I was thinking it might be because the races submitted the UCI license numbers and not the USAC, so the points weren’t calculated. I looked at the recent UCI races on the East coast and saw that the Elite races received USAC ranking points. Anyway, whatever the reason, I was thinking that this would affect any race that any rider of these races competed in, at any other cyclocross event, since their points would not be correct to tabulate the points for the events held after the St. Louis and Madison races.

Is this wrong logic? And is someone at USAC going to cross reference the UCI numbers to the USAC numbers and award points for these two races held last week?

Thanks.

Steve Tilford
USAC License #35598

Fences

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Fences have their places in society, but in general, I don’t like them much. I was thinking about riding my bike and playing when I was a kid and came to the conclusion that fences have really hindered a kids ability to play effectively.

When I was a kid there were hardly any fences on any yards. It was a super way to take a shortcut across a block. Of course there were a couple houses that were off-limits, mainly because the occupants were a grouchy old couple or something like that, but we still cut through sometimes. I think it is difficult to play many of the nighttime games that children play when you only have front yards and the street as a playing field.

We started getting fences here in Topeka when the city started enforcing the leash law on dogs. It was a boom for chain link fence companies. Everyone put it a 4 foot chain link fence. That wasn’t too much of a problem for most of us. We could get over a 4 foot chain link fence without hardly braking a stride. I guess we figured since those were our normal right-of-ways, we were grandfathered in, thus we just jumped them at will. But the kids that came along after me probably didn’t feel comfortable going into someones backyard, so eventually the fences did their jobs and delineated the property line. Now all the fences seem to be wooden and are for privacy too. Neighbors are strangers now.

Now we, as a country are trying to decide if we should try to fence our whole country in. I don’t know the situation of our fence on the Mexican border. It seemed like a stupid idea at the time and even seems more stupid now. But then I read this article about thinking about building a fence along the Canadian border. I guess we are already flying two drone airplanes along the border spying and hindering all the bad guys from crossing into the US from Canadian. At least the drones are unarmed as of now. But when they say that they are thinking about building a fence along the border, I have to call stupid. Worse than stupid, insane. Fences didn’t work for me as a kid and surely won’t do a thing to keep “enemies” out of our country. Especially all those Canadians!

I’ve ran into a few experiences where fencing has been used to try to segregate bike racing from the spectators. One time we showed up to the Fatboy Criterium in Scottsdale and the fencing company had encircled nearly the whole course with 8 foot chain link fence. It was horrible. People with their faces pressed up to the fence, hardly seeing any of the race. The riders called it the roller dome. And the Rock Island Criterium had the same idea, but they bought the fencing. They tried to use a 6 foot, welded wire fence for years. All it did was drive the spectators away.

So, in summary, I think fences are pretty good for one thing: keeping our pets and other animals in a confined area. They are lousy for keeping people in or out. I’d just as well not have them around.

I'm all about art, but I don't even like this fence much.

Snow fencing should only be used for snow, not for people. I wonder if Alan hit the camera here.

Just Riding

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Yesterday I decided to do one of my favorite rides and head over to Lawrence on gravel. I still had the tubeless setup going on my wheels, so it was easy. The river road between Topeka and Lawrence is my favorite ride here. I rode for over 70 miles and only two cars passed me.

I am still pretty tweaked from the cross race last Saturday. I think it is the sprinting/running in the sand. It is mainly my leg hamstring, which I’ve had problems with before and still need to address. Now is a good time to get in some nice riding and not worry too much about form. January is a long ways away.

It is great temperatures now in Kansas. It seems like it just turned to fall almost instantly. Last Sunday, there was just a hint of color in the trees. Then yesterday, I couldn’t believe how many leaves fell on the road between the time I was going to Lawrence and returning. It’s like they all decided to just eject at once.

I feel obligated to say something about Steve Jobs dying yesterday. I have a lot of Apple products and appreciated each and every one of them. He was definitely a visionary. When people share a passion for something, they feel connected, and that is usually a good thing. No matter what the motivate was, his products brought the people of this world closer together. He will be missed by many.

I have to decide about going out to Colorado in the next 24 hours. I’m not going to race in Ft. Collins for multiple reasons. I don’t think the the USGP should be holding a race weekend at altitude. It isn’t fair to most anyone. I wouldn’t race it anyway. But, I’d like to head up to Steamboat to hang with Kent and Katie for a while and get my cross bikes all situated. Fort Collins is on the way.

Okay, I think I’m going to just duplicate my ride of yesterday once again. It is my favorite rides here, so why not.

Most of the ride is along the Kansas River.

This road was nearly covered with leaves on the return.

My bottle ejected on a wash board descent and this was the result. I've tossed a million bottles and am pretty sure I've never broken one.

Titanium is the perfect material for cyclo-x and MTB bikes. This isn't my normal saddle, but the whole scheme kind of matches with the gray Bulldogs.

And, here is an ad from Apple. The Lisa didn’t last long. But, the ad has bikes and dogs in it, two of my favorite things. Kevin is carrying his bike, just okay, but could use some ‘cross instruction.