Monthly Archives: October 2012

Some Rest Day

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First of all, have a good Halloween. I have been trying to take one day a week completely off the bike. It’s just an experiment, nothing set in stone. I hate not riding. I love riding my bike and it is hardly ever a chore suiting up to train.

I’ve been pretty beat since Berryman and thought I should take the day off. That coincided with yet another dentist appointment. I’ve been having a lot of dental issues, especially since I flipped off that berm in Cable and landed on my head.

I don’t need to go into specifics, but I spent a good part of the day getting injected and drilled, etc. And I’m still not done. I’m going to have to get another job to afford my dental bill. I can’t believe how tired I was yesterday after leaving the dentist. I noticed that I was sitting there with my fists clinched much of the time. I don’t know why that was, because I thought I felt pretty comfortable and I know I have the best dentist, so I don’t feel stressed. It must just be something about getting your teeth drilled on. That is never a good thing, the noise, smell, and spray all adding up into clinched fists, I guess.

I’m heading out to California tomorrow for a week. I’m going to be riding the Mike Nosco Memorial Ride on Saturday. I’ve done it the last couple years and have thoroughly enjoyed the day. It’s the one time a year I catch up with a lot of my buddies, plus it is always for a good cause. Then I’m going to try to collect some equipment and train some.

Today I have a ton to do also. Car work in the morning, then I’m going to ride over to Lawrence later this afternoon, to meet up with Brian Jensen, Joseph Schmalz and Matt Gilhausen. I haven’t seen Brian and Matt for a few weeks, so that should be good.

Sorry about the milk toast post, but I feel a little rushed already.

I voted yesterday, since I’m going to be out of Kansas next Tuesday.

Another one, sort of, bites the dust.

Just a Few More Things and Observations

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I got a few emails asking me some specifics about the Berryman Epic Race and I thought I’d just answer them here. First, the course is pretty rocky. Not solid rock, but there are sections that have a lot of challenging rock ledges. Once again, nearly all these rocks were covered with leaves, so it made it that much more difficult to read.

I was riding about 22 psi in my rear tire and 20 in my front. I pre-rode about an hour on Friday afternoon and started with 28 psi. I stopped after a mile or so and let a bunch of air out. I was riding so much smoother and thought it was the perfect pressure. When I got back to the car, I checked the pressure and it was 15 psi. I laughed. There is no way to get through the race with that little pressure, at least at my weight (158). So, I decided to ride 20 in the front and 20 + a pump in the rear. I knew it was going to be a risk, but there are times to take risks and I thought this was one of them. I was riding Specialized Fast Trak, 2.0 tires front and rear. The first two times I rode this race I flatted a lot. 3 times the first try and then 2 the second. I didn’t flat last year or this year and I was riding the same tires both times. The sidewalls do seem sort of flimsy, but I haven’t even cut them and this is a place to cut tires.

I have only ridden a shock fork on this bike twice. Both times here. The Eriksen 29’r was built to be a fully rigid bike, but I went ahead and put a fork on it, with Kent’s advise of course. It is a Rock Shox Sid 29’r fork. I had no idea how much pressure to ride, so on Friday night, I went onto Youtube and watched a video about setting up the fork. I didn’t even realize that there was a little chart on one side that listed suggested pressures. I rode 120 psi in the fork, thinking that it would be pretty stiff for my weight. I don’t think it was enough pressure, judging by how much compression I got. Anyone chime in here?

It seems to me that it shoudln’t compress this much?

I was amazed at the equipment at this race. Nearly everyone there, at least the guys lining up at the front, were riding full carbon frames, with a lot of carbon wheels. There is no way I would ride a carbon rim at this race, especially with only 20 psi. I dinged my rim a couple places and for sure would have broken a carbon rim. I do need to get some new equipment for my bike though.

I didn’t fall once, which is the only time out of 4 times here that is the case. I was concentrating extra hard on the descents, trying to ride them clean, while trying to make out the course through the leaves.

In order of soreness two days later, it goes descending order from most to least – lower back, left hamstring, both triceps, shoulders/neck and right hand. My right leg feels pretty good though. I think that when you’re “off” physically, you can do some damage to your body. When I’m riding well, I feel pretty good the next day. Usually it’s two days after an effort like this is when you feel the worst.

I rode MTB bikes again yesterday. Catherine, Bill and I went over to the governor’s mansion, here in Topeka for an hour and a half. I felt pretty toasted for the first 30 minutes and then felt better. Not good, but better than I started on Saturday. I think I’m going to look for some more MTB races to do this fall now.

Okay, that the end of all the extras. I hope that answered everyone’s questions.

Here’s the trophy again. It is pretty cool, made of laser cut steel and welded.

The top ten from the previous year were given custom numbers too, courtesy of Hallie Phillips.

This is the women’s podium at the awards banquet. The tequila hadn’t come out yet.

Bromont got tired of these guys, Scott’s Bulldog, named Surley, and this Lab puppy, bothering him.

He would rather play with another hunting dog, but this German Shorthair was asleep by the fire.

I went to the eye doctor yesterday to get my right eye looked at. He told me it looked good to him, which was nice. The equipment in his office looked so ancient for some reason.

Trudi is reupholstering a chair in the living room. I didn’t know she knew how to do this, but it looks great so far.

I saw this bottle of stuff in the Walberg’s kitchen. Catherine hasn’t tried it yet. It looked pretty horrible, but maybe it tastes okay. Anyone try it for any reason?

Does anyone know what this is. It’s a trailer in the parking lot of a used car lot in North Topeka. It has all these PVC pipes going into the ground on one side and a tall exhaust pipe that stick up pretty high. It makes a noise like a generator.

This is the other side of the trailer. These go into the ground also.

The Berryman Epic – Just trying to Maintain Is Enough Sometimes

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I’ve been thinking about this for the last 24 hours and still don’t quite understand all the factors involved for me to win the Berryman Epic on Saturday. It was a perfect storm of factors as far as I’m concerned.

I guess I should start from the beginning. I was shit. And that would be an optimistic description of my pre-race feelings. I just wasn’t there. I warmed up a bit, in the cool 30 degree temperatures, and realized that I didn’t have it. But, I knew that would only be part of the equation for the day and should put in my best effort.

The short description of the race is this. Around 250-300 riders started. It’s somewhere between 56-60 miles long, depending on whose Garmin you believe. It is around 45 miles of technical singletrack and 15 miles of gravel road. This year the singletrack was covered densely with leaves. Like inches and inches. I’d bet there wasn’t a total of 3 miles of the course that wasn’t leaf covered. That changed the race up a ton. The race starts straight up a hard gravel climb, probably a little less than a mile long. Then a couple more miles of gradual uphill and gravel before turning into the singletrack.

I didn’t really talk to the guys that finished 2nd, 3rd, or 4th afterwards, so I don’t have the information to help me understand why I won. I only know what I did and how I rode. It happens that I won.

The race started super slow compared to past years. We crawled up the hill, in my opinion. That being said, there were only a few guys left at the top. It levels out and we still stayed slow. There was $100 prime for the first rider into the woods. I won the prime, but not without making a little sketchy move to Garet Steinmetz’s inside. I thought that maybe it was going to be all my prize money for the day.

I rode the next hour and a half with just three others, Dwayne Goscinski, Garet Steinmetz, and Drew Edsall. I was firing all wrong. From square one I was bad. It was much like the last day in Tulsas last weekend, but worse. I’d have to compare it to the Apollo 13 space mission. But, it wasn’t like I launched with all systems go. Like Apollo 13, I was without enough oxygen from the get go, along with a ton of other issues.

Drew took over the lead pretty early on the singletrack when I flailed on a short climb. Dwayne and Garet were on me, never more than a few seconds back. On all the climbs, Drew would disappear up the trail, only to come back again a little while later. I was going so badly, I truly was wishing that he’d just get out of sight, so he would be out of mind. Instead, he was this carrot just hanging there.

I can’t explain it still, but Drew just kept coming back to us. My only explanation is that he was thinking that it was going to be a long day on the bike and it might be better riding with a group. Or, because of all the leaves, that were covering lots and lots of rocks, he was having issues leading and thought that riding behind someone would be better for a while. Whatever the case, Drew was with us when we got to the 2nd checkpoint at the Berryman Campground 1:40 into the race. I got a bottle, some thinner gloves and a flask of espresso there. I nearly missed a turn into a singletrack, but Dwayne yelled to me and got me back on track.

Here is where the race got weird, at least for me. I coasted down the next short section of singletrack pretty clean. It is probably my favorite part of the course. Right afterwards you go over Highway 8 and start the second of 3 sections. I rode over 8 and glanced back and saw I was a few seconds ahead. There is a race constructed bridge over a small stream, then some sand and finally a couple hard climbs that are short, but steep. My left hamstring was already ready to cramp, it was pretty much done. I thought that if I sat on the climb, my hamstring would have seized up, so I made a decision to lock out my fork and climb off my seat. Normally climbing off your seat on leaves and loose rock isn’t the best idea, but I was hurting for choices.

I stood and rode up the first climb as hard as I could, which was pretty much as slow as I could go and stay on my bike. It flattens out a bit and then climbs again. I descended off these climbs and looked back again. There was no one. I couldn’t understand it. All three of the guys I was with were going better than me uphill. Especially Drew.

So, then it started, the mental challenge. The rest of the race, which was close to 3 more hours, was just trying to maintain. Trying to cope with small fires.

Here’s what I did. I convinced myself that I was good enough to win the race, even in my pitiful state. The night before, I’d looked at the results from last year and saw that 3rd was nearly 20 minutes back on me. So, I figured that I could ride over 4 minutes an hour slower and still be competitive. The conflicting side to this rational was that I didn’t know Drew Edsall and Evan Plews. As far as I know, I’ve never raced against them. On paper, they were both guys not to take lightly. But, Even wasn’t riding with us the first section and Drew was now behind me too.

Anyway, I did a complete systems check and realized that I wasn’t going to get any better physically. If anything worse. I decided that I should do the best with what I had. So, I decided to just try to make it up the climbs as best as I could, without cramping and then ride all the descents super clean. The leaves made the descents very tricky and it was super easy to miss a corner or lean too much and lose time over and over. I didn’t make many mistakes after that point. I finished the race without a drop of blood, which is very unusual for me. I never fell once.

I had to regroup at least 50 times, no actually more, lots more. I broke the rest of the course into small segments and then just tried to ride to the end of each segment and then start again. I usually don’t have to make up these little games to race my bike, but this was a special situation.

There is a 6 or 7 mile road section connecting the end of the second section back to the last and final section. I ate a ton on this road. Two full bags of cubes, two gels, and the flask of coffee. I had been feeling like I was bonking for the past couple hours, nearly from the start.

I rode back up to the entrance to the Berryman Campground, which is a long road climb. I felt like hell. I got a Coke and another bottle and started out of the checkpoint in the wrong direction. If I wouldn’t have heard Trudi tell me to go a different direction, I would have been lost once again. I drop the can of Coke and it burst open. I picked it up and drank the remaining bit out of the shredded can.

This started a high point of my race. I rode the next 5 miles pretty good. I was in my big ring and riding nearly normal. Granted, there wasn’t much climbing here, but I was optimistic that maybe I was coming around. But, in my whole time of racing MTB bikes, this had never happened, so I don’t know what I was thinking. When the trail started going uphill again, I wasn’t good again. But, something else happened during this time too.

It started getting very hard to follow the trail. The leaves seemed thicker and there wasn’t so much elevation change, so it all looked like a blanket of snow, only leaves. I had to stop at least 5 or 6 times and just stare into the woods. A couple times I had to walk back 50 meters or so and try to figure out where to go. Most of the time, the course had cut back on itself and was heading a different direction.

I forgot to mention, that I was having some serious vision problems with my right eye. Somewhere very early in the race, I thought I got something on my glasses, so I put the glasses in my pocket and it was better, I thought. But, later on, I couldn’t see very well. I closed one and then the other, and realized my right eye was having issues. I sprayed water into it a few times, but it didn’t help. So, seeing the trail wasn’t that easy. (I’m going to the eye doctor today hopefully.)

Anyway, I didn’t get lost and rode the last of the singletrack up to the final 6 mile road section alright. I was so done that I ate two more caffeinated gels the last 6 miles. I was crawling, but I didn’t look back more than a couple times. I was going through the whole day in my mind and didn’t understand it at all. I still don’t understand it much, even now.

I know I’ve dragged this out. I guess I was trying to figure it out some still. I’m not surprised much in bike racing, especially MTB racing when it is mainly you against the course. I know that I have a ton of experience in lots of different conditions. All I can think is that the leaves covering the rocks made the conditions uncomfortable for some of the others. It’s the only thing that explains the big time differences behind me.

Anyway, I have to admit the day didn’t go as I had thought. That is one of the things I love about the sport so much. It is a continuing learning process. I know this is going to sound kind of weird, but winning the race wasn’t such a big deal. Of course, I like winning bike races. It is a confirmation of what you’ve been doing in life to prepare. But, I’m not that big on winning racing while not riding well and I wasn’t really prepared. Maybe that isn’t exactly right. I just wished I would have been a little better physically, so I could have enjoyed the 4 and 1/2 hours in the woods just a bit.

Scott, Jake and his helpers put on a very, very good bike race. They all have so much enthusiasm for the sport. The awards banquet was awesome. Lots of fun, good stories, camaraderie. I forgot how much I miss MTB racing. I need to do it much more.

Okay, that was a long one.

This pretty much sums it up. I was pretty destroyed. Lucky, the beer was flowing as soon as I crossed the line.

The T-shirts are a results sheet from the previous year.

There were computer printer results, but I thought these initial results were more appropriate. Click to enlarge and try to decode.

This is how it looked most of the way, minus the hills.

Every rider gets a free meal. I usually don’t eat food like this, but this food was great.

Any race that has a bon fire at the finish is a race I’d like to attend. Plus, lots of dogs running free.

Brad Huff with his pre-race breakfast.

World Cup Cyclo-X Elite Men’s Race

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Full Results
Result
1 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP – Powerplus 1:08:26
2 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 0:00:36
3 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 0:00:45
4 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet – Fidea 0:00:54
5 Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet – Fidea 0:01:09
6 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-KDL 0:01:31
7 Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cyclocross Team 0:02:14
8 Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ-BigMat 0:02:45
9 Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cyclocross Team 0:02:58
10 Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team 0:03:04
11 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Selle Italia-Guerciotti-Elite 0:03:12
12 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP – Powerplus 0:03:21
13 Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team 0:03:27
14 Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP – Powerplus 0:03:45
15 Egoitz Murgoitio Rekalde (Spa) Grupo Hiremet Taldea 0:03:50
16 Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team 0:04:03
17 Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor 0:04:15
18 Thijs Al (Ned) Telenet – Fidea 0:04:22
19 Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing Team 0:04:28
20 Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team 0:04:44

A little Hurt from The Berryman Epic

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It’s a little after 2 am and I’m just back and unpacked from the 60 mile MTB race today on the Berryman Trail in Mark Twain National Forest, southwest of St. Louis a couple hours. It is in a beautiful setting. Other than my left hand, the rest of my body is pretty mad at me and thus, rebelling. I’m toast. The results were very surprising. I won the race. There was an enormous amount of effort, physical and mental. I would very much like to sleep until noon, but that doesn’t really work any more. Maybe I’ll get lucky and sleep until 10. I’ll get to the specifics later today I hope.

Some of the spoils.

Racing in the Ozarks

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It might be more appropriately titled, Riding in the Ozarks, but we wont know that until later today. Right not I’m hoping to be racing, at least most of the day, which is nearly 60 miles, off-road, with the majority of it, around 45+ miles pretty technical singletrack.

I’m at the Berryman Epic south of St. Louis a couple hours, in the hills of Missouri. I’ve ridden the race the past 3 years. I’ve only won once. The first two editions, I had a lot of trouble keeping air in my tires, but that wouldn’t have assured a win even without that problem. The name of the race is appropriate. It is a very hard day on a bicycle.

The course is mainly old horse trail, with lots and lots of exposed rock. This year, on top of that rock is lots and lots of dry leaves. I guess it was the perfect storm for leaves here and they all fell at the same time, maybe yesterday. Whatever the reason, you can’t see any of the course because of the cushion of leaves. That isnt’ a good thing. It is going to be easy to get lost, which is always a worry here.

There is $400 to break the course record. I’m nearly positive that I’m not doing that, since I set the record last year, but you never know if someone else here is up for the task. Last year I cruised the last 10 miles to make sure the record wasn’t way out of reach, in case I was coming back this year. Here I am again, but I don’t think I have the juice to compete at that level. I’ve been resting pretty much the last couple days, but pre-riding the course yesterday, I wasn’t feelin’ it. Not even close. But, I have over 4 hours to try to get back in the groove. That being said, it is very hard racing MTB and coming around later in the day.

There are some good riders here. Aaron Elwell and Bryan Fawley from last weeks Ruts and Guts cross races in Tulsa are here. They finished 1st and 3rd overall in the omnium. Lots of other guys have the abilities to have a good result, it just depends on the day. I hope to try to stay in contention until the first check point, about an hour in, and then do a systems check. It is only supposed to be 28 degrees at 8:30 for the start and get up to the lower 50’s by 1 pm, hopefully the finish.

I was thinking about baling on the weekend, but couldn’t think of something more enjoyable to be doing. I hopefully won’t be in as much physical pain as I was cyclocross stage racing last weekend. Endurance MTB racing is a slower tempo, less intense effort. Not that it isn’t very hard, but it is hard in a different way. I hope my lower back holds up. It was rebelling on me pretty good last weekend and the races were only an hour at a time.

Okay, I’d better suit up and get ready to head out. I’ll post some results later today hopefully.

Bromont loves it at the Bass River Resort. I have no idea how he knows when we were getting close. He slept in the back until about 15 miles to go, and then he lifts his head, takes a couple deep snorts and starts his craziness.

Finishing the ride, I looked up and saw this Bald Eagle soaring above. That has to be a good sign?

This is Brad Huff, sporting his 1997 Missouri State MTB Championship Jersey, beginners class. Brad just returned from the Japan Cup racing with Ivan Basso and Co. Now he’s riding around the Ozarks with a bunch of his friends. A bike racer through and through.

Another “I Smoked Pot but Didn’t Inhale” Confession by Bobby Julich

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Where’s the honor? I understand the issues with the drug situation. It was a jacked up choice for the riders. I fully understand that. And there are casualties. Good guys caught up in a shitty situation.

Here’s the deal guys. Everyone, and I mean virtually every one of the riders that have won major races on the road, between somewhere in the early to mid 90’s to somewhere relatively recently, took drugs to compete. Sorry, but that is just how it has to be. The facts speak for themselves. The drugs were/are too good. I’ve personally witnessed how much better these drugs make a rider and there would be virtually no way to humanly compensate and compete at that level without the aid.

So, now we can split the whole group, those riders who won events, into two groups. The riders that have been caught and the riders who haven’t. The guys that were caught were mildly unlucky it seems, unless you rode with Lance. Those that didn’t get caught, as of yet, should be thanking their lucky stars.

So, there it is. Let’s stop being surprised, there aren’t any in this respect.

What’s really bothering me now about the whole thing is the extent that these guys will go to protect their legacies. “I did it until 2006 and then it suddenly became too much to handle morally.” Huh? Can you imagine training and racing supercharged for years and then go back to racing normally aspirated? I’m guessing it would feel something like you had the flu 365 days a year training.. Plus, you would have no mental capacity to race one bit. It seems like it isn’t in human nature to allow it to work.

I already ranted about the simultaneous confessions of Lance’s team mates. Pretty contrived. Now, Bobby Julich seems to be continuing the bullshit. His issue, or problem, is that he has an Olympic Bronze medal hanging on his wall. No wait, I guess he should now have an Olympic Silver medal hanging on his wall, since Tyler gave his Gold Medal back. And I’m sure Bobby wants to keep it.

2004 Olympic TT podium.

So, the way I see it, he has to make up this convoluted timeline and excuses to do just that. I guess he confesses to doping during the 1998 Tour de France, where he finished officially 3rd. I’m wondering if he thinks this is a good trade for keeping his medal? Bobby wants us to believe that he raced “clean” from July of 1998 until he retired in 2008, during a very polluted time for our sport? He rode for Cofidis, Telekom and CSC during these years. Wow, he must have been resolute in his anti-doping decision.

Here’s an excerpt from Bobby’s Wiki page. I sure hope he didn’t write this, but I’d bet he’s read it a few times. I don’t know how he could allow it to be in print, I really don’t.

Following the doping scandal of the 1998 Tour, only 96 of 189 riders completed the race, and Bobby Julich finished third on the podium with winner Marco Pantani and runner-up Jan Ullrich. It became clear later that Julich was the highest placed rider not using performance enhancing drugs during the 1998 race and is thus the de facto if not the official winner.

I remember seeing an interview with Bobby back in 1998 complaining about why everyone is asking so much about the Festina affair when the real news is out on the road.

Anyway, this seems to be just another case of a guy that made a mistake that is trying to cover his ass. Why couldn’t he have just said, “I have to leave the Sky Team because I couldn’t conform to their anti doping policies. I used performance enhancing drugs at certain times during my career and told them such. Thus, I am not longer employed by them.”

Then he could have went on and said how clean the sport is nowadays and how he would love to be working with our young up and coming pros, which is what he was supposed to do for Sky, with Joe Drombrowski and Ian Boswell. I don’t have any idea whether he would be the right person to be mentoring these kids. He might be the perfect guy, really, but he doesn’t get a chance this time around.

Can’t one of these guys just fess up with some sort of honesty and honor. Just take it like a man. Everyone wants to get to be involved in the sport still. I don’t blame them. It is a nice way to spend it. I guess it’s up to “the sport” to work this all out and decide if it wants these guys around still.