Monthly Archives: November 2011

World Freediving Champion

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I’ve always been interested in swimming under water for long periods/distances, but after watching this video, I realized that freediving not my cup of tea. This guy has passed out 2 times while competing, but has set 15 World Records. Doesn’t seem like a very good ratio to me.

Louisville Master’s Worlds/USAC Ranking Again

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Okay, I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the line up procedure at Louisville is just plan wrong. A lot of us were talking up at Jingle Cross about the estimated amount of participates at the Master’s Worlds in Louisville and the opinions differed a lot. Some said that they thought that there will be more Master riders in Louisville because they don’t want to go up to Madison and race in the snow. Others thought that more guys would show up in Madison because of the other categories and wanting to travel with, and watch friends race.

I’m sticking with my belief that there will be less participates in Louisville than were at last year’s Cross Nationals in Bend. I’m not sure if there are going to be as many as in Madison, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is if there are over 80 riders in a category. I looked at the list of participates of the race at Bikereg.com and they are about 30 guys signed up in each category. I don’t really see it getting up to 80 in most. And I really don’t care much about most, I care about mine and can’t imagine that happening. So it goes back to “the most fair way” according to the organizers and the UCI, which is random draw. And I state it again, how stupid is that? A race that does not take any ability level into consideration, then lining up the starters in a random order, and calling it the World Championships is nuts. I still have no comprehension why the organizers think that introducing a random element into the start will assure the race to be the most fair. Maybe they missed the memo that all you do is to buy a license to race. Virtually anyone and everyone that desires can to it.

I’m not sure if I saw a foreign rider on the list, they are kind of hard to recognize by name. (I’ll have to go back and look more closely.) But, for sure, the majority of riders, by miles, are going to be from the United States. It’s still a month and a half away, so I sure wish someone from the organizing group or USAC would realize that it is an insult to all participates of the event, ie master riders in general, to have such a lack of interest in the event that they could screw up something this important and then just leave it.

I am perplexed why someone in charge doesn’t address this problem. Either have every rider participate in a time trial or just line the American riders up by the USAC ranking points, which they are doing for the Nationals the week before. They could let the foreign riders have their random draws and the US guys would line up according to their US rankings. The USAC seems to think that is the fairest way to run their National Championships, but the World’s organizers and the UCI think not. Even though 95% of the riders there are going to be from the US. Seems like someone has to be mistaken here. But, no matter how much I complain, I realize that there is very little chance that anything is going to change here. It’s a shame because it would be so easy.

Now to the USAC rankings. I’ve been following the rankings somewhat and realized it would take the majority of the season for there to be enough points for the formula to work. And it might take all of this season until next season for it to finally stabilize. I’m not sure about using the rider’s three best races in a calender year for the points. To me that seems like too few. I’ve been noticing that if a large group of riders keep competing against themselves in a local area, they just keep driving their ranking score lower and lower, which is really ranking them better according to the USAC. So, 10 guys, any category, could get together and race only against themselves throughout the year, every weekend, over and over, and eventually be the lowest ranked riders in the country, if they just switched their places around each race. I doubt that would ever happen, but the system seems to be a little strange.

I received an email responding to some of my questions from the USAC and I was told that the computer re-tabulates the rankings every Monday night. So I waited until Tuesday morning to check mine out. Below is my rankings from cyclo-x this year. I don’t understand why they fail to use my lowest three scores to get to the ranking number. Maybe someone could email and tell me why that is. If I have math mistakes on my rankings, then I assume there are lots of other mistakes. This thing only has to be completely correct by the first week on January, so I hope someone is paying closer attention to the whole mess than me and is addressing the situation sooner rather than later.

Shawnee County Treasure’s Office is Jacked

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Yesterday didn’t quite go like I expected it to. I got to bed pretty late because my computer screwed up and iPhoto won’t load at all. So, all my photos from the last 10 years are not assessable right now, maybe lost for ever?

I realized when I woke up that my automobile license tags were going to expire at the end of this month. I had meant to renew them online last week, but spaced it out. And I’d read about the lines down at the Shawnee County Treasurer’s office being long, so I didn’t want to mess with that.

Anyway, I went online and got all the way through the process and it screwed up after I entered my credit card number. When I tried to reenter the information, it wouldn’t allow it because the numbers had already been entered. The screen message said to call a phone number. So, I called the number and was on hold for over 1/2 hour. So, I decided to go down to the Shawnee County offices and experience the masses. Little did I know.

They have a number roll, like the Baskin Robbins ice cream shop had when I was a kid. I pulled out number 891 and looked at the counter and it said 711. I couldn’t believe it. I was nearly 200 people back. So, I left and went to a coffee shop downtown and spent an hour and a half goofing off. I came back to the Courthouse, and after I went through the metal detector again, I went in to look at the counter and it was at 729. That was 18 people in 1 1/2 hours. There was a employee in the hallway telling everyone to sit down and not stand by the exits.

I went over to the worker and asked her if my number was good for the next day. She told me to take a sit and they’d get to me as soon as possible. I thought she was joking. I told her I got my number nearly 2 hours earlier and they had only called 18 people, so there was not much of a chance anyone would be getting to me in a timely manner. She told me again to take a seat. I told her I could do the math and that I had no intention of waiting. She told me I was lucky that they had serviced 20 people and that the line was shorter. I think at least 5 people that were listening to our conversation got up and left.

So, I left too. I went to Starbucks and ran into a friend there and he told me that they had a live counter online that you can go check your number. I went home and my brother Kris found the counter link. In the meantime, I called the phone number and was on hold again. Eventually, after an half hour, this guy came on and I told him my problem. He reset the pin numbers that I’d entered and told me I could try it again online.

I entered the numbers so slowly and checked them over 5 times before clicking submit. I was amazed it worked. That was about 4 in the afternoon. So I clicked on the counter and they were over 900 at the time. So, if I would have waited, I could most likely have had to wait around 5 more hours. That would have been at total of 6 1/2 hours to get the stickers for my license plates. Insane.

I talked to a lady that got there at 8:30am and had been there about 3 1/2 hours and was still 15 numbers back. So she was going to be there about 4 hours to renew her tags. She said she tried to do it online and it screwed up also.

I’ve read about the horror stories trying to renew tags here in Topeka the last few months, but I didn’t really think much about it. It is much worse than anything I could have expected. Someone, everyone there needs to be fired down. It is broken. And so under staffed that they should be so embarrassed, they shouldn’t open their doors in the morning. They should just send out the stickers for free and ask for donations until they can get their shit together and do it in a right and in a timely manner.

No one can be expected to spend a day of their lives renewing their car license tags. The website sucks, mainly because if it crashes or you make a mistake entering any number, you don’t get a chance to do it again without having a person you call on the phone reset your entries.

But, this is going to be the norm more and more here. I’ve witnessed it all over the world. The poorer the country, the longer the lines and time it takes for services. Remember the lines on the TV of people in Russia waiting in bread lines before the Iron Curtain fell? I do. In Peru, trying to change a plane ticket took nearly a week at the airline’s Lima downtown office. There were huge lines at the banks in Santiago Chile and they would only let one customer at a time into the lobby. There is going to be lots more waiting and much slower service in all aspects of our lives, unless something changes economically soon.

Anyway, I just had enough time to barely get my bikes to the car wash. And man, are they destroyed. I mean they need new everything. The bearings in the wheels are even super rough. I need to get some Gore-Tex cables from SRAM. Those cables are completely sealed and should make it to the end of the season. I used to ride them on MTB back in the 90’s and then they disappeared for 15 years and now they are back again. They are a lot of trouble to install, but after they are installed, they work great in the mud. This sport takes a ton of energy even when you’re not racing.

My number.

This was just some of the people waiting in the hallway to renew their tags.

The Shawnee County Treasury cam. The one thing they do right, sort of.

Cyclo-X Stage Racing – Day 3 Jingle Cross Rock, Iowa City, IA

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Okay, the cyclo-x stage race is over. I didn’t talk to any elite guys that didn’t say that they weren’t flat and tired yesterday racing day 3 at Jingle Cross. As I sort of predicted yesterday, Tim Johnson and Cannondale team mate, Jamie Driscoll, schooled everyone, finishing 1 & 2, in the C1 race after they sat out the race on Saturday. Saturday’s race was pretty grueling and energy intensive with all the uphill (and downhill) running. Todd finished 3rd, which was awesome. He’s done racing cross this season now.

Sunday’s race went back up the run up that we did on Friday, but yesterday it was way more muddy and much worse traction. I always ran on the right side, where there seemed to be some new grass after they moved the ribbon over some, but I guess the leaders all ran on the left, which was shorter. I can’t believe that could have been faster, but what do I know.

I got a shitty call up again, but didn’t really care. There were only 30 guys and the best I could officially finish was 16th. I got a pretty good start and was somewhere around 10th or so early. After the run up, which wasn’t quite half a lap into it, I was toast. I faded some and a few guys passed me here and there. Pretty soon I was out of the top 2o. Eventually, though, I started feeling a little better and got going some. I got up to 17th place with a couple laps to go, but 15th and 16th were riding together, going for the last UCI point. I decided that wasn’t in my best interest, so throttled it back and cruised in, watching Kevin Fish, KCCX, take the sprint and get his point.

My drive train was so jacked up the last lap, it was making an awful racket. On the finishing stretch of pavement, about 200 meters out, my SRAM chain snapped. That is two chains this year. One SRAM and one Shimano. I think I figured the Shimano problem out, using the wrong pin. I thought all 10 speed pins were interchangeable, but I guess not. The SRAM chain is from a couple years ago and it was bad to start with. I’ve maybe ridden the chain less than 10 times, it is on a spare bike, so wear wasn’t an issue. I think they had a batch of bad chains and I got a bunch of them. I should have thrown them away. Anyway, I coasted for a bit and then skated the rest of the way to the line. It really didn’t matter hardly at all.

So, for the whole weekend, I only finished 3 places total, after 3 days, off the best finish I could. I found out it is much harder finishing in an exact position than I’d anticipated. Mainly because of people switching positions, mechanicals, and guys riding together, it is hard to keep track of where everyone is. I hate it. It takes the motivation out of the race for me.

Joseph Schmaltz finished 13th, so he got, what, maybe 3 or 4 UCI points, enough to get him called up at all UCI races the rest of the season and at U23 Nationals, which is a big deal. Good job!

I changed onto my spare bike early and rode it the remainder of the race. I had a Specialized Terra on the back and a Challenge Limus on the front of my start bike. On my spare bike, which I hardly ever ride, I had a Michelin Mud 2 clincher in the rear and a Dugast Rhino in the front. Those tires worked so much better that I’d rather ride a clogged up heavy bike than switch back. I’m not sure if it was because the tread on the Specialized and Challenge tires were clogging up with mud or what, but it was night and day. It was super, greasy slick on most of the open field riding, so traction was pretty important for your confidence. If only my FMB tires with the Michelin tread would come, I’d be set.

I never fell yesterday, but fell so many times the day before, it would still be a large number for the weekend. I can’t believe that my legs don’t hurt from all the running, what’s up with that? I haven’t really ran any all season. Maybe it was all that Motrin I ate for me knee?

We loaded up quickly and got on the road super fast. Fast enough to stop in Des Moines and have a sit down meal at the Rock Bottom Brewery. That was nice for a change. We got home around midnight, which isn’t so bad. I have no idea how I’m going to feel the next few days. The conditions of this cross were brutal. The rain, plus it being pretty cold yesterday made it difficult. It is only supposed to be in the 40’s most of the week, so it’s that time of the year.

Someone needs to figure out how to get around the UCI standard payout for prizes at these races. It is so stupid. 1st is double of 2nd, which is nearly double of 3rd. I finished 11th, 13th and 17th and got a total of $225, plus the $1 I got on the hill. I paid $143.10 to enter, so I made $27.63 a day over entry. Pretty pitiful. It’s not like we are racing in Europe where every rider in the race gets paid start money. There is never going to be a full time cyclo-x circuit in the US when it is set up this way. I don’t understand the UCI points and prize schedule anyway. It is a pretty stupid way to try to rank riders on a world basis. Let me tell you, it is much harder collecting UCI points in Europe at the bigger UCI races than here in the US. Mainly because there are so many races here now. It is very good for the few US guys that race internationally, but not good for the US “privateers”, which is 99% of all the guys racing here. I wish someone would recognize this at USAC and try to address it on the behalf of us, the US riders.

I’m not sure what I’m doing the next few weeks. Probably going somewhere warm for a bit to get in some miles before it freezes over here. Okay, better get to cleaning all the equipment and clothing. It’s a full day project.

The best part of the whole weekend. This guy brought me a tea kettle full of boiling hot water and a clean towel after the race yesterday. It felt soooooo good.

Not the prettiest form on Saturday.

Not sure what I'm thinking here.

Prize checks from the three days. Notice the dates?

Results from Sunday. Click twice to enlarge.

Catherine, in her Carhart insulated suit, a little blue, after a sub par weekend performance.

Just in case you have an issue identifying the different Shimano chain pins.

Jingle Cross Rock – Day 2

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Saturday’s race was a completely different beast than Friday’s. It rained most of the night and the course, even though it handled the rain alright, was pretty destroyed by the time the Elite race was held late in the afternoon. There was a ton of off the bike forward movement. Way too much for my liking. My knee was sore before the start, but I’d been eating Motrin by the handfuls and it didn’t feel anything before the start.

We went over and pre rode the course at 11 pm and the descent was nearly not ridable at that point. It only got worse after the other classes made it into deep mud footprints. I got my normal random call up, last row. I can’t complain because because I got such a good call up the previous night. I told Bill before the start that Todd was going to win. He is good in mud. I figured Tim Johnson in 2nd. That couldn’t have happened because the Cannondale riders, Tim and Driscoll didn’t start. Today is a UCI C1 race and it is obviously more important than yesterday’s race. Ben Berden was the only new guy I saw and think there were a few less guys on the start line than the night before.

I didn’t pass anyone on the pavement. I didn’t really try. Once we got into the sloppy grass spaghetti section, I started picking guys off one at a time. After about a lap or so I got up to about the place I finished the night before 13th. I was riding with Joseph again and thought maybe I’d try to help him again. That didn’t really pan out because he was having a super bad day with a seized up back. He had an altercation with a dog on Wednesday training and crashed. It was catching up with him.

So, I rode up to 11th and just pretty much stayed there to the finish. That was the best place I could finish to not get any UCI points. I’m not sure where I could have finished if I could have raced full out. Probably not that much higher, maybe a few places. But, we’ll never know. I wasn’t good today either, but the conditions were okay for me.

The descent off Mt. Krumpet was beyond treacherous. I’m not sure anyone rode the whole thing. I sure didn’t. I think I crashed 3 out of 6 laps. Mainly at the bottom. I remounted and rode the bottom section every lap and took a couple big diggers. Some of the crowd on the hill was being pretty mean with their heckling. One guy yelled to me, the lap after I crashed the lap before, “Hey, great idea riding since it worked out so well for you last lap.” I wanted to flip the guy off, but needed both by hands at the time. The guy didn’t understand I would rather slide down the whole descent on my face than try to negotiate it on my legs.

I flatted with 2 laps to go and had to change from Challenge Limus to Fangos. I had Limus on because they are the deepest tread available on cross tires. Going from that to the nearly flat Fango was horrible. I couldn’t ride anything. Hardly on the flat. It shows how important it is having the right tires. No wonder all the World Cup riders show up in moving bike shops with 2o sets of mounted wheels.

I think today we’re suppose to climb up Mt. Krumpet twice a lap. Why not make a super hard course just that much harder? In super deep mud, walking. I’m not looking forward to it, but it is what it is. Even though I’m under the weather, I think I’m getting some pretty good training doing these races. At least bike handling skills, if not form.

Todd Wells did win the race over Chris Jones, Ralpha-Focus. Tristan Schouten had an awesome finish, only 31 seconds back to finish 3rd. And Troy, Todd’s brother was right behind Tristan. Anyway, today should be interesting at the front with the Cannondale guys all rested up, missing out on all the downhill running/walking/sliding. I have to finish out of the top 15 today, so 16th is my goal. It seems so silly.

Not one of my better attempts at riding the descent.

I was upright most of the time. It was pretty soupy all day. Vision wasn't the greatest.

Todd negotiating his way around one of the downhill switchbacks. Today is the last day for Todd to wear his National Championship jersey, since it's his last cyclocross of the season.

And Todd off his bike again, on the run up by the bleachers.

Tristan running his way to 3rd.

A lady in the hotel came up and said "you got a little muddy?" and I said yes. I wondered how she knew it, since I'd power sprayed myself off at the race and changed into dry clean clothes. I guess I'd missed my face.

The tub says it all.