Monthly Archives: January 2013

Space

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It is amazing how much stuff it takes to race cyclocross. That is the reason I bought the diesel van, for the space. I wish it was an extended version, or even better, a Sprinter van. There are only 2 of us racing and the van is pretty full, not completely stuffed , but full.

There are 6 bikes, 3 of mine, plus 2 of Catherine’s, plus Trudi’s. I don’t know how many extra wheels. A least 2 pairs of road wheels, plus 3 sets of extra cross wheels, so I guess that is 10 extra wheels. I have an extra plastic container with parts, plus another bag full of extra cross tires. Plus all the clothing, which is unreal. It would be nearly impossible to fly to a race at this point.

I’m doing 3 races in the next week. I think it’s going to be important trying not to get to wasted hanging around too much wet and cold. This afternoon, it looks like it is going to be a slippery affair. We were following the race yesterday on our phones and it was blizzard conditions when it was happening. Then, upon arriving in Chicago, there isn’t any snow at all on the ground. Weird. But, it did snow enough that it is going to have to be wet there for sure.

I rode the trainer in Trudi’s mom’s garage for 30 minutes late last night. I haven’t ridden a trainer in maybe 2 years. I think that trainers are very bad for your bikes. Clamping your stays into something solid and mashing your pedals isn’t something that could possibly be beneficial for the longevity of a frame. It put a ton of stress in areas that aren’t necessary made for that stress. That being said, I have ti frames and I think they are nearly indestructible, so that isn’t a good reason not to use a trainer. But if you’re riding a carbon frame, that is a completely different issue. Trainers are bad for carbon. But, that isn’t the reason I don’t like them. I don’t like them because of the manotony. And the sweat production. The garage was pretty cold, so I didn’t sweat took much, which was nice.

We unloaded most of our extra stuff into the garage and are coming back here after the race to get it. Then we’re driving up to Delavan Wisconsin, and stay at Trudi’s mom’s condo for a day before heading over to Madison, which is an hour from there. It’s pretty convenient, but still a lot of moving stuff around.

The house where Trudi grew up, and where he mom lives, is super small by today’s standards. It has 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and a single car garage. The bedrooms are small enough that if you put in a king size bed, there isn’t much room left for anything else. But, 6 people lived there growing up and it seemed normal. I brought enough stuff in my van that I could easily fill the garage. It is truly amazing how things have changed in just 1/2 a life time. Everyone wants so much room and so much space. I’m not sure where our priorities changed, but sometimes I wish everyone would just go back to the basics.

Well, anyway, I have to get moving. I’m at a Starbucks across the street. I’m going to go back and ride the trainer, once again, for a bit and then eat a big meal and head over to the course. I don’t have high aspirations for the race. But, it’s going to be good for the long run. I’m sure I’ll have a bunch of good stories.

This is 6 bikes, with wheels.  The blankets I put between the bikes, I got at a spa, next to the hotel at Cross Natz in Napa.  Trudi asked for a blanket, so I wouldn't mess up the rental car and she came back with a stack of blankets that were oil covered and not usable anymore.  That was over a decade ago.

This is 6 bikes, with wheels. The blankets I put between the bikes, I got at a spa, next to the hotel at Cross Natz in Napa. Trudi asked for a blanket, so I wouldn’t mess up the rental car and she came back with a stack of blankets that were oil covered and not usable anymore. That was over a decade ago.

I have 8 pairs of gloves with me.

I have 8 pairs of gloves with me.

There isn't much extra space in the garage for riding a trainer.

There isn’t much extra space in the garage for riding a trainer.

Trudi's mom's house.  It's about all you really need for a home.  Well, a basement would be nice.

Trudi’s mom’s house. It’s about all you really need for a home. Well, a basement would be nice. Look at all the snow here!

This is at a fuel stop in Iowa on the way up.  This is the normal gas station faucet handle.    I think there is probably a place that sells them new looking like this just for gas stations.  It would cut down on water usage because no one wants to touch them.

This is at a fuel stop in Iowa on the way up. This is the normal gas station faucet handle. I think there is probably a place that sells them new looking like this just for gas stations. It would cut down on water usage because no one wants to touch them.

Racing in the Tundra on a Golf Course

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During the UCI Cyclocross in Chicago yesterday, the main factor was the wind. The wind was blowing pretty hard and it made the tactics all that more important. I was wrong in my prediction of a messy affair. The snow that fell on Saturday seemed to just disappear and the ground was pretty frozen all day long. The sun came out about an hour before the men’s race and started melting the exposed soil, so the corners got slicker before the start.

I had a very good race, at least compared to how I thought I’d do. I had a very good day, physically and bike handling. The race was held on a golf course. One of my sayings is cyclocross would even be hard if we just raced on a golf course. And that was exactly what this was. There was only one small hill on the course and the rest was just riding, serpentining around the greens and trees. We did one stretch through 3 sand bunkers in a row, which were pretty much frozen, so not really an issue unless you screwed them up.

There were only 35 guys in the race, but a lot of good riders. I picked a pretty good random number and lined up on the 3rd row, which was a nice surprise. The race started directly into the headwind, so no one really wanted to go out fast. I probably could have been leading after 3 turns if I really wanted to, but slotted in 8th or 9th. The speed on the first lap was fast, but not insane. About 1/2 the field was still together most of the whole lap.

The 2nd lap, I moved up a few slots and rode around in 4th for a while. Jonathan Page came by and I let him in. Then Brian Matter. I was hardly going to fight for position in a race where my finish place was pretty irrelevant. About 1/2 way through this lap, I think, it might have been the next lap, I got in trouble. We were definitely going fast enough that I was on the rivet. I’d screwed up a corner and Tristan Schouten had gone by me. He was riding sort of tentatively the first couple laps, apprehensive on the corners, which wasn’t good for me. With my athletic abilities, I need to be going through the corners at least as fast, or faster than the guys I’m with, resting whenever I have a chance. Anyway, Tristan took a left sweeper really wide and my luck was I was right behind him to his outside. He got a little off balance and got into the ribbons and then started breaking off the stakes. I think he snapped off 2 or 3 while I was trying to extract myself from being overlapped with his rear wheel. By the time I got by him, there was a huge gap in front of me.

I made a big surge to try to reconnect with the front group, but I hit the sand pits with way too much speed and exiting one, I caught a ton of air and did a nose wheelie to land. I managed to keep it up, but knew I couldn’t get back up to the front on my own. The problem was that all the guys behind me were there for a reason. None of us had the power to close the gap. So, a group of 9 guys rode away and I just stayed in the new glob. There were only 3 or 4 of us for the first couple laps, but eventually Tristan came back, then Cody Kaiser and a few others, so group became maybe 8 or so.

We were going so slowly compared to the first couple laps. I had a chance to recover some. From then on, I was well within myself. It is so enjoyable knowing that you have a whole ‘nother gear, with plenty of reserve. The laps were pretty short, all under 6 minutes, so we ended up riding 11 laps. Coming into 3 laps to go, I was deciding what I wanted to do. I was happy with the result already and had to think if I wanted to ride super hard for a while or just the pace we’d been going. I felt good, nearly great, the best I’ve felt in months, so I decided to do a big effort. I don’t really have any explanation why that happen. One week/month you’re struggling and then just a day later, it is easy. I guess that is why we ride.

I went to the front of our group after we had crossed the line for 3 to go and sort of attacked. I didn’t really attack full out, because I was pretty sure that the speed I could carry through the corners would do a lot of damage to the guys I was riding with. Adam Myerson got on me and we rode off the front of the group nearly instantly. I wasn’t too worried about having Adam sitting on, because I needed at least one guy with me because if I finished 10th, I would get UCI points which would disqualify me to race Worlds in Louisville. Adam stayed with me about 2/3rd’s a lap and then came off. My group was split into pieces.

I settled into a pace and rode pretty well the last two laps. The end of the race seemed easy because it would be a big effort against the wind and then a rest on the technical turns and tailwind sections. That suits my style pretty well. On the last lap I was catching Isaac Neff, Trek, who seemed to be running out of steam. That would be 9th. So, I looked behind me and Tristan was coming back up to me quickly, which was nice. I didn’t really ease up much and Tristan caught me pretty fast. I told him that I didn’t want to finish 10th, but was planning to put in a big dig to catch Issac. Tristan passed me with about 1/3 a lap to go and caught Isaac right after the barriers and out sprinted him. I took it easy and cruised in for 11th, which is the best place I could get and still race Master’s Worlds.

I felt pretty good about the whole day. I felt good warming up the first time, then the 2nd time I went and pre-rode the course, I felt weird, sluggish and a little off balance. I was definitely gassed early on, so when a couple mishaps occurred, I didn’t have the juice to overcome that. I would have liked to ride around the whole day in the front. If I could have survived another lap or two early, I think I could have been fine. I rode the fastest 9th lap of the race of everyone, so obviously was going better towards the end than early. But, Tim Johnson did two laps, back to back, his 10th and 11th, that were 15 seconds faster than my 9th lap. I could have ridden a few seconds faster, but there is no way I could have ridden two laps alone, at Tim’s pace.

So, I went and got my $76 prize check and drove back to Trudi’s mom’s, showered, went out to eat with her, and then drove up to Delavan. There is so much snow on the ground here and Tristan says it is deeper further North. We’re staying here, washing clothes, bikes, etc. and then heading to Madison tomorrow sometime. I have to watch myself, because when I get in this high energy mode, then it is easy to try to do way too much and get over extended. I don’t think I need to do much of anything the next few days, I obviously have good enough fitness for this week. The key is trying to keep it around for a few more weeks.

Results.  It was nice being less than 2 minutes back considering how many slow laps we rode.  But, it was a tactical race.

Results. It was nice being only a minute and a half back considering how many slow laps my group rode. But, it was a tactical race. Click to enlarge.

Lap times.

Lap times.

Leaving on of the sand pits early.  It was hard not to catch air.

Leaving one of the sand pits early. It was hard not to catch air.

Earlier in the race with Brian Matter, who finished had a pretty good race and finished 5th.

Earlier in the race with Brian Matter, who had a pretty good race and finished 5th.

Leaving the sandpit with 3 to go with Adam Myerson.

Leaving the sandpit with 3 to go with Adam Myerson.

Close to the end with Tristan, who rode back up to 9th after his mishap early.

Close to the end with Tristan, who rode back up to 9th after his mishap early.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull on Bikes

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I watched an interview with Matt Damon on public tv yesterday. I was mildly surprised how well spoken the guy was and how spot on his observations were. One thing that he said that resonated with me was something like “The most rewarding part of doing your job well is the little things that no one else knows about but you. The things that make you tick and the efforts only you know.” That wasn’t even close, but it was the best I can do now. It was strange because it was something that I was thinking, nearly exactly, earlier out riding.

Someone asked me just a bit ago why I still like to ride my bike so much and compete after all these years. I have a lot of different reasons, lots I’ve stated before here, but in reality, there are so many things involved that it is impossible for me to list them. So many little, itty-bitty things that wouldn’t mean anything, but to me. Or at least it seems that way until we run into each other and we don’t even have to bring up those things because we all know them.

The reason I liked racing so much on Sunday in Chicago was because it is so nice get some personal reward for all the efforts and sacrifices. I don’t really care about the place. Like I said yesterday, now, I would really have liked to be riding around in the front group, but that didn’t happen. But, being able to ride super fast around on grass on the golf course was fun, beyond fun. Trying to explain it to someone that doesn’t know bikes, it would sound like something so stupid. Doing 6 minute circles on wet, frozen grass, in the middle of winter in Chicago. But, it takes years to accumulate the skill set to be able to do it, and when it sort of comes together, at least to an personal acceptable degree, then it is a good reward, satisfaction. And the icing on the cake is that our peers get it.

I ride bikes for millions of reasons, like I stated above. It is something like Johnathan Livingston Seagull (one of my favorite all time books). The art of riding a bike, is sort of like what I would imagine it would be like if we could fly. We sort of do fly in our own way. And refining the ability to ride is what we’re doing our whole lives. And we don’t necessarily need races or others to confirm what we innately know. Cyclocross is the epitome of this. No one rides a perfect cross race. It can always be done better. That is one of the best things about it. It is one of the reasons I’m still in love with the sport.

I rode over to Lake Geneva from Delavan yesterday. It was around freezing, but the wind was blowing probably close to 25 mph. I took it super easy both ways. I don’t ride easy much, hardly ever. I had to check myself multiple times and make sure I wasn’t going hard at all. When you’re doing that, it is much easier just looking around. I really liked the contrast of riding on the dry, salt stained roads, the piles of snow on the sides, with all the lakes and fields frozen, snow covered. And there I was, self contained, all warm, bundled up, out in the elements, feeling pretty good. I wasn’t thinking at all about racing bikes. I was thinking how nice it was to be outside on such a miserable day, doing something so enjoyable, which made it a very nice day.

We’re heading over to Madison in a couple hours. I don’t really want to ride around the course today, but I think it is good getting a view of it and that lets our minds digest and mull over the different parts, subconsciously, thus making it easier to ride later. I’ll post some photos of the course later.


“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”

― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

The sunset of Lake Delavan.  Just one of the reasons I ride bikes.

The sunset of Lake Delavan. Just one of the reasons I ride bikes.

Nationals Cyclocross Course Scouting

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Yesterday went pretty well right until I got to the course and started pre-riding. We got up to Madison in less than an hour from Delavan, checked into the hotel early, got dressed and rode over to the course.

I was mildly surprised that the course was completely ridable, even though it was above freezing. I ran into Jared Nieters when I got there and he said had done 6 laps on his single speed and it was good. And it was. No matter what happens, I don’t think that the ground is going to thaw. I don’t think that it could possibly turn into the quagmire it became last year before it froze. That being said, it is going to get a lot slicker. There is still a fair amount of snow on the course and I think that is going to be completely gone in the next couple days. So, it’s going to be slick mud on top of frozen tundra. That isn’t a bad base for a cross course. That is until Sunday, when it is supposed to freeze super hard Saturday night and then not get above 22 degrees all day. Then it becomes a skating rink. Probably with ruts. But, you never know, it is weather, which is fickle, and cross, which is the same.

I fell pretty hard on one of the descents about a 1/2 lap into riding. I whacked my left knee onto my bars and tweeked myself in a few other places. I rode 6 laps total, mainly to get used to the bike handling, but also to get a workout. I got a lot better handling my bike on in the rutted snow, but I don’t think I’m going to be dealing with any of that later this week.

I got back to the hotel and noticed that my dropout was bent. I was in a mild panic because I knew that they are very brittle and didn’t remember if I had another dropout with me. I did bring an extra, so I decided to try to straighten mine. That lasted about 5 seconds because it snapped off nearly as I screwed the tool into the threads. The problem was there are super small allen key bolts, maybe 2.5mm or such, and they strip so easily. I got one out, but the other stripped. I don’t have a Dremel tool or drill with me, so I just grabbed the dropout with some vice-grips and got a gap behind it and inserted a screw driver. Then I snapped it off. So, minor disaster averted.

By the time I was done messing with my bike, my left knee was all swollen up and I couldn’t bend it. I got a bag of ice and put it on for 20 minutes. I limped around the rest of the night. Then, after dinner, I made some Zen tea and right after I’d poured the boiling water into the cup, I sat down and spilled the complete cup into my lap. Man, was there some excitement there. I don’t think I am like that old woman at McDonalds, a long while ago, but there is some damage to my inner thighs. We’ll see how that progresses. Right now it is better than I would have guessed. But, my knee isn’t any better this morning. More ice I guess.

So, hopefully I got all my klutzy stuff for the rest of the week over yesterday. I’m going over to the course again today and maybe just riding a couple laps. The single speed race is later in the afternoon, so I’ll probably head over there then to ride and then watch the races some. It’s a good course for a single speed under these conditions.

Okay, here are some pictures of the course from yesterday afternoon.

This is the first climb after the start.

This is the first climb after the start.

This is the last climb after the sand pits before descending to the road to finish.

This is the last climb after the sand pits before descending to the road to finish.

Looking towards the start/finish line.

Looking towards the start/finish line.

The pit area.

The pit area.

Broken dropout.

Broken dropout.

I  was trying to level my seat and Trudi gave me her iphone.  She has an app installed that is a level.  It wasn't really long enough, but it was kind of fun anyway.

I was trying to level my seat and Trudi gave me her iphone. She has an app installed that is a level. It wasn’t really long enough, but it was kind of fun anyway.

There is something in the soil here that is getting embedded into my brake pads.  Some rock.  It does a number on carbon rims.

There is something in the soil here that is getting embedded into my brake pads. Some rock. It does a number on carbon rims.

Bromont was pretty tired on the drive over and used the strap on my backpack to hold his head up.  Lazy little man.

Bromont was pretty tired on the drive over and found the strap on my backpack to use to hold his head up.

McLaren Names Car after Mark Cavendish

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I was just surfing around and found this article about the automobile manufacturer, McLaren, naming their new 2013 MP4-12C, after Mark Cavendish. They are even painting the car a “green jersey” satin that changes up in the sunlight. Those guys from England getting sports car named after them and being knighted is a step up for the sport, for sure.

Mark with the car named after him.

Mark with the car named after him.

Nationals – Race 1 Today

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I race the Master’s race at 3 this afternoon here in Madison at Cyclocross Natz. The course is great, but is going to be ever changing. It is supposed to rain later this afternoon, hopefully after I finish. I didn’t ride a pedal stroke yesterday. I woke up yesterday morning and my knee was all swollen and I couldn’t bend it. I didn’t really remember hitting it crashing. So I decided to not do anything and try to keep it up, with ice on it, as much as possible. I abused Motrin when I was younger, I don’t get along good with it, but this was a special case, so I got some Pepcid and took Motrin all day. I know I’ll have a side ache during the race today, but that is the price I have to pay.

Catherine races at 11:30, so the logistics are a bit off. I’m going to ride over there around 10:30, watch her race and just stay. So, I’ll be at the course way too much before I race, but the race is only 45 minutes, so I’ll be fine.

Okay, that is all for now. As of now, I’m not too bummed about my knee, but I still haven’t put any pressure on it. This will be the first time in my life I’m going to race a cross race without having ridden the day before. I guess you have to change it up some to keep it interesting. I was worried about being out of energy, spending too much time on my bike and standing at the course. That definitely isn’t the case. Hopefully it will work out fine.

The course after the barriers is frozen mud, which is rideable.

The course after the barriers is frozen mud, which is rideable.

Here's Tommy Matush, who cleared the course of all the snow.  Tommy rode for 7-11 back in the early 90's.

Here’s Tommy Matush, who cleared the course of all the snow. Tommy rode for 7-11 back in the early 90’s.

I spent most my day just like this.  I am kind of proud of myself, I usually don't have that sort of restraint in me.

I spent most my day just like this. I am kind of proud of myself, I usually don’t have that sort of restraint in me.

I guess I'm supposed to wear my Worlds Jersey in the race tomorrow.  I don't mind, since it is the only Master's race I'll be doing this year.

I guess I’m supposed to wear my Worlds Jersey in the race tomorrow. I don’t mind, since it is the only Master’s race I’ll be doing this year.

The room is a mess trying to lay out piles of clothing for each part of the day.

The room is a mess trying to lay out piles of clothing for each part of the day.

We ate pie at Hubbard Ave. DInner tonight.  I love pie.

We went by Hubbard Ave. diner tonight for dessert. I love pie.

I agree with this saying completely.

Can’t argue with this.