Monthly Archives: January 2015

Riding / Cross Nationals Course Pre-View

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Yesterday was the stellar day of the week, weather-wise, for Austin.  It is just going to be going downhill from now on.  It was nearly 70 yesterday, 45 today, and then the 30’s and rain/snow for Friday-Sunday.  Cross weather.

Bill, Vincent and I rode about 65 miles yesterday.  On our cross bikes, with cross tires, mainly on pavement.  I felt alright, other than my neck, from face planting skiing a week again, was super stiff and giving me a splitting headache.  Or maybe it was because I was out for 7 hours and didn’t have a bottle, thus didn’t drink anything?

Anyway, the ride was good, out by Lake Travis and back.  Man, that lake has no water, like the docks are hanging like ladders on the shore.  Nearly vertical.  It is going to take years to fill that back up, even if they do get some rain.

We ended back up at the Nationals course and I rode just one lap.  It is going to be very technical.  It is nearly all on the side of a small hill and it just zig-zags up and down the hill pretty much the whole course.  It is a good course, don’t get me wrong, but there aren’t that many places for just full-on pedalling.  And if it get wet, like it is predicted to be Friday-Sunday, it is going to be very, very technical.  Lots of u-turns on off-camber hills.  It could make for a lot of dismounts and running.

The course is very tight in many places with only one line.  The start is going to be very important in these large fields at Nationals.  I wish I would have taken a photo of the rock run-up.  It is scary steep and the “steps” are more like ledges.  I think you could pick a way up where the steps are less than 16 inches, but it would be tricky.  If that gets covered with mud, there are going to be a bunch of ripped up shins come Monday.

I ended up staying around until nearly dark and had 8 miles to ride back.  It was fun riding through Austin in the dark.  I rode through downtown, then the university and up through the neighborhoods.  It was getting a little cold, like in the 50’s by then, so I was chilled, but felt good.

Okay, we need to go and try to get Vincent’s bike singlespeed legal.  He has some spacers lined up and is going to take off his extra chainring.  He races at 4 pm this afternoon and then again on Friday.

I think the course is going to be pretty good, even though I only did one lap.

I think the course is going to be pretty good, even though I only did one lap.

Out on the low water crossing by Lake Travis on 620.

Out on the low water crossing by Lake Travis on 620.

On the pedestrian path under MOPAC.  They are making MOPAC a toll road, so it is really under construction.

On the pedestrian path under MOPAC. They are making MOPAC a toll road, so it is really under construction.

Riding back towards Austin.

Riding back towards Austin near dusk.

It was dark by the time I got by the Capitol.

It was dark by the time I got by the Capitol.

Wednesday at Cross Nationals / Singlespeed Race

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Yesterday was a nice day for racing here in Austin.  It wasn’t so nice for just riding though.  Bill and I got out for a little under 40 miles and it took nearly 3 hours.  It was dropping temperatures all day and super windy.  Even compared to Kansas, it was windy.  Like 30 + mph windy.

We got back to the Nationals course at Zilker Park at around 3:30.  The singlespeed race started at 4 pm.  Vincent seemed pretty calm.  We’d switched his Di2 geared bike over to a singlespeed in the morning with spacers in the rear and singlespeed chainring bolts for the front.  It worked great.  He decided to ride 36 x 19, a pretty easy gear, but he was starting 135 riders back and knew he was going to be having to pass guys all day and have to do a bunch of accelerations.

The race was fun to watch for me.   It seems like singlespeed fans are pretty dedicated, as the riders are.  I’ve never been much involved with riding a singlespeed.   Not off-road or on the road.  But, it was interesting watching the different style of riding and techniques.

I ran into a bunch of people I haven’t seen since, well, maybe last year at cyclocross Nationals.  A pretty diehard bunch of people we are.

Vincent had a pretty good race.  He moved up past a chunk or guys early in the first lap, which was to be expected, and then kept picking guys off the rest of the race.  The guys at the front were just racing for 2nd, pretty much from the gun.  Justin Lindine had checked out and was pretty much gone from the gun.  Mo Bruno Roy had done the same thing in the women’s race to win again and defend her title.

I was rooting for Tristan Uhl, who was in the group racing for 2-5th the whole race.  He was 3rd going into the last set of barriers, just a couple hundred meters from the finish and ran past the front two.  It looked like he had made the perfect move for securing 2nd, but slid out on, really, the last U-turn corner and ended up 4th.  It was a great result, but should have been better.

Vincent finished 46th, which doesn’t sound that great, but considering he passed 90 guys, it was about as good as it was going to be.  He seems happy with his race.

Tomorrow, it is supposed to be just a tad colder and then on Friday, it really is going to get ugly.  Highs in the 30’s and wet.  I’m wondering why it always seems to be pretty crazy weather at Cross Nationals.  It started probably around 2000 and it has been pretty much the standard since.  Weird, crazy weather, compared to the normal highs and precipitation norms.  Guess it’s just ‘cross.

A ton of people, nearly everyone I run into, seems to think I‘m racing.  I tell them no and they say I am.  Or they think I’m not racing because my shoulder is bad.  I’m not racing because my hip is bad and I’m not willing to risk screwing it more for a cross race that I’m not ready to do.

I know, that isn’t normally how I do things.  I tend to err on the extreme and take risks, but this doesn’t seem like there would be much of a reward for the risks.   I do plan to race cross again, just not this year.  Ashville isn’t that long from now, just a year.  Right now I’m just going to try to enjoy this Nationals as much as I can, just watching.

Here is Vincent, riding pretty great.

Here is Vincent, riding pretty great.

 

And the eventual winner, Justin Lindine.

And the eventual winner, Justin Lindine.

Tristan on the same hill.

Tristan on the same hill.

 

Here is the rock stairs I was telling you about yesterday.  They are going to be ugly on the weekend if it's wet.

Here is the rock stairs I was telling you about yesterday. They are going to be ugly on the weekend if it’s wet.

 

Vincent had to buy a bunch of stuff to convert his geared bike to a singlespeed.

Vincent had to buy a bunch of stuff to convert his geared bike to a singlespeed.  He obviously left a few things out of his toolbox.

This bike was so cool at University Bicycles.  The way it is configured, it moves forward, in different gears, pedalling forward and backwards.

This bike was so cool at University Bicycles. The way it is configured, it moves forward, in different gears, pedalling forward and backwards.

 

 

 

 

Frigid Austin Texas

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The weather change today is the big news here at Cyclocross Nationals.  Yesterday it was just cold.  Like in the 20’s all day.  But the course was dry.  Today it’s a completely different beast.  It rained last night and is still raining.  It is barely above freezing, in the mid 30’s.  Super cold considering the conditions.

Yesterday I didn’t see much of the races.  I did get to see Paul Curley win his master’s race.  I read somewhere it was his 26th National title.  I didn’t get a chance to see local Kansan, Tom Price dominate his race and win his first National title.  Tom has had super bad luck the last few seasons and it was great to see it finally come together for him.

I did get a couple hours in yesterday, even though it was below 30.  I rode by and saw a bike shop in an Airstream trailer, in downtown Austin, then rode across the river on South Congress and meandered my way over by the course and then did a short loop through town.  It is always fun doing a city ride in Austin.

Trudi and Bromont came down along with our sponsor, Matt Gilhausen from Tradewind Energy.  Matt and Vincent are racing this afternoon at 2:45.  Matt hasn’t see the course yet.  I think it is going to be hard getting a rhythm on this course when the course is wet.  It is going to be super slick and tricky.

I’m trying to decide if I want to go out and ride the course some with these guys before the race.  I think I’m going to have to, I really can’t stop myself.  It will get me a better read for spectating  the next couple days, since that is what I am now, a spectator.

Tom Price winning yesterday.

Tom Price winning yesterday.

Paul Curley on his way, riding his signature disc wheel.

Paul Curley on his way, riding his signature disc wheel.

Brian Robbins Airstream Bike shop down by the river in downtown Austin.

Brian Robbins Airstream Bike shop down by the river in downtown Austin.

Jeremy Powers cheering on his buddies from New England yesterday.  He says he's feeling pretty good.

Jeremy Powers cheering on his buddies from New England yesterday. He says he’s feeling pretty good.

 

Trudi pinning on Vincent's numbers this morning.

Trudi pinning on Vincent’s numbers this morning.

Bromont is very happy he made the cut.  He always does.  I'm not sure what he's always worried about.

Bromont is very happy he made the cut. He always does. I’m not sure what he’s always worried about.

I've seen a bunch of people collecting pecans off the ground around town.  This one guy had a little roller tool, with a cage, that collected them off the grass.  It is sort of funny, but seeing all these people collect them made me want to pick a bunch up and fill my jersey pockets.  I resisted the urge though.

I’ve seen a bunch of people collecting pecans off the ground around town. This one guy had a little roller tool, with a cage, that collected them off the grass. It is sort of funny, but seeing all these people collect them made me want to pick a bunch up and fill my jersey pockets. I resisted the urge though.

 

Fickle Humans – Renew Some Faith in Mankind

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I know I should be writing about bike racing and specifically about Cyclocross Nationals, since I’m down in Austin for just that.  And the racing was great yesterday.  Peter Weber, Brandon Dwight, Paul Bonds, Mark Savery and many others had great races.  But, I want to write about a couple experiences I had the last couple days.

Two days ago, Bill and I were out riding west of Austin out by Bee Caves.  We were doing the loop out Southwest Parkway and then 620 over the dam and back to Austin.  We were on 71, nearly to the light at Bee Caves, riding on the shoulder, when a pickup, dually, comes by, swears over to the white line and guns his engine.  It was diesel and it scared the shit out of me.  \

So he then moves into the center lane and, many lucky or not, gets stopped at a light about 200 meters up.  I decide that I’m going to go and have a talk with him, so I ride up on the passenger side, between cars and go to the passenger side window.  I can see there is a whole family in the truck, like maybe 4 kids, a mom and then the guy driving.  I knock on the window, the guy looks over and I can see he goes off.  He pushes the electronic window button and then I hear the profanity.  He is crazed.  I don’t even get a chance to say a word before I see his front wheels turn to the right and he tries to creep forward to come towards me.

Luckily for me, he was boxed in front and rear, and on the side.  He was screaming shit, right over his family, and I yelled something back, I can’t even remember what.  The weird thing is that, even though the light was still red, a couple cars right behind me honked their horns, which I took as them honking at me, but I could be wrong about that, now that I think about it.

The light turned green and the guy really wanted to turn right to follow us, but was in the middle lane and had to go straight.  Bill kept looking back, thinking the guy was going to come up from behind.  He was sure the guy had a gun, which I don’t doubt.

Anyway, that was the end of it.  Not a good experience, but not my worse bike/automobile experience either.  I have noticed that lots of people, here in Austin, use their horns more than I like.  And most of those I’ve noticed are driving pickups or big SUV’s.

Then flash forward to yesterday.  I went over to the race early, before Vincent’s race at 2:30 and had a couple hours to go ride.  I did a lap with Vincent on the course, got my tires all clogged up with mud and then went  out on the road.

I started out of Zilker Park to the South and turned Southwest on Bee Caves again.  I got just a couple miles up Bee Caves, still in Austin, but between commercial areas, when I see this young black dog running around in the road.  Bee Caves is a really busy road with no shoulder.  The dog is obviously lost and not traffic savvy.  He is on the shoulder, the darts out into traffic and back.  I sprint up and jump off my bike and the dog comes to me.

He has a collar, but it is sort of loose and I’m a little worried he is going to squirm out of it.  So, I drop my bike and get the dog between my legs and kind of hold him there, trying to see if he has tags and a number.

I see he has a tag and a couple phone numbers, but my phone is in my jersey pocket and it is pretty hard keeping ahold of the dog and the cars are all going by at 50 still.  I’m trying to figure out how I am going to get the dog away from the road and back to where he belongs.

Just then a pickup truck pulls up, with his blinkers on stops next to me.  A guy and what seems like a grown son, get out of the truck and the man says he saw the dog running around and turned around to come get it.  He tells his son to put the dog in the back of the truck.  I asked him if he thought the dog would stay in the truck bed and he said that he had a tie down and I looked it and seems like that is how he took his dogs around, it was perfect.

The “kid” put the dog in the back of the truck,  and the man told me he’d make sure the dog got home.  I thanked him and he drove off.  I started riding  again and less than 100 meters later, there was a lady walking back against traffic coming right out me.  There wasn’t really a shoulder and the ditch was rock and steep.  I was thinking why would she be walking out on this road, it was so dangerous.

As I approached her, she waved and stopped me.  I moved off the road and she asked me where was the dog.  I told her that a man in a pickup stopped and took it.  She said she saw me on the side of the road, holding the dog and it looked like I needed help, so she pulled off in a commercial parking lot, maybe 500 meters up and road and was walking back to help me.

That was so nice.  She seems relieved that the dog was okay and I thanked her too for trying to help.

The rest of the ride, I thought about how nice it was that two separate people would stop and help in that situation.  I never expected it and it really helped out a ton.  I would have been in a bit of a bind trying to get that dog back home safely.  It worked out great.  I’m pretty sure that most other places I ride, no one would have stopped.

So, here were two opposite experiences, pretty much in the same city.  One very disappointing and one up lifting.  I guess it is just how people are.  We are fickle.  I’m wondering if the same guy yelling at me might have stopped and helped if I was standing on the side of the road holding a black lab?  You just never know.

The man helping me out.  Notice that the car beside him didn't even move over at all.  Weird that people can be so mean to other people and so nice sometimes too.

The man helping me out. Notice that the car beside him didn’t even move over at all. Weird that people can be so mean to other people and so nice sometimes too.

While I was out riding, Bromont was playing at the course with his new friend, Nehemiah, from Enid Oklahoman.

While I was out riding, Bromont was playing at the course with his new friend, Nehemiah, from Enid Oklahoma.

 

 

Cyclocross Nationals Cancelled – Crazy

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IMG_5219 copy

All I can say is that I don’t think that Austin Parks and Rec just watched the Belgium Nationals and how much “turf and root exposure” they caused at that race.  Not to mention the 50,000 spectators tramping around.   I don’ understand how they could award the race to a place that would cancel the event because of weather.  Not a good reflection of our sport.

#cxnats cancelled due to perfect conditions wtf Austin?

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That was a tweet yesterday from a photographer from The Austin Chronicle, Sandy Carlson, after they cancelled/then postponed, the final day of The US Cyclocross National Cyclocross Championships.

It was pretty amazing and unprecedented.  When I first heard yesterday morning, sitting in a hotel in Austin, I thought it was a joke.  After thinking about it for a couple minutes, I realized it was probably true.  It is Austin and cities like this dance to their own music.

I’m not really sure exactly what the real issue is.  I guess the “heritage trees” and putting them at danger.  I wasn’t even sure what a heritage tree was, so I looked it up.

A Heritage Tree means a tree that has a diameter of 24 inches or more, measured four and one-half feet above natural grrade, and is one of the following species: 

Then they list 10 different varieties of trees.  They are so important that they have a whole private foundation for it in Austin, of course.   Over the last few years, training in Austin, I’ve noticed the extent construction people go to protect trees, even though the trees are really a long way from the construction.  They fence them off and protect their trunks.  I never understood it.  It is not common anywhere else I’ve been.

First, I’ll state that I don’t think that riding around those trees, exposing their roots or not, will kill any tree in the park.  I’ll admit, that cyclocross does “mess up” a park, especially after a big rain, but that is a short term problem if handled properly after the event.   And a problem that everyone involved in the event, especially the promoters and City of Austins Parks and Rec, must have been very familiar with.

I believe the problem was that a few active residents, from the surrounding area, saw the “damage” the Saturday’s races did to the ground, and started making phone calls.  And obviously, they must have wielded enough power to stop the race, or at least postpone it for a day.  It was a disaster.

We didn’t have a room for another night and Vincent had some stuff he needed to do, so we drove back to Topeka yesterday.  I didn’t argue with him much.  I was tired of just sitting around Austin, in the cold and rain, waiting to watch a race I’d like to be competing in.

Virtually everyone I know that was in Austin from out of town, that was there only to watch the race, left.  Plus, anyone I know that lives in Austin, that works, had no intention of taking the day off to watch the Nationals today.  This isn’t even addressing the extra costs to all the competitors.  Changing flights and extra nights in the hotels, it is amazingly expensive.  That is too bad.  For everyone involved, promoters, fans and riders.

The races are going to happen.  The course was perfect yesterday.  It would have been an epic cyclocross with deserving winners.  I’m not sure what it is going to be like today.   Moving the course away from the trees and dumping a bunch of woodchips on the course is going to change the way the course flows a ton.  It is definitely going to affect the results.  But, someone is going to win each race still, regardless.

I really liked the woman from the Austin’s Park and Rec, Sara Hensley.  I watched the press conference on the internet and she seemed pretty well spoken and genuine.   She said it was a no-win situation and they were trying to make the best of it.

“Some of them are asking for my resignation. This is what happens when you live in a city where everyone wants to give their 2 cents.”   I think that pretty well sums it up.

This is a photo from the Collegiate races on Saturday.  The course was getting very technical.

This is a photo from the Collegiate races on Saturday. The course was getting very technical.

This is a photo I took at the race, about 10 feet from the course.  Seems like there are a lot of "exposed" roots here naturally.

This is a photo I took at the race, about 10 feet from the course. Seems like there are a lot of “exposed” roots here naturally.

 

They do this to all the trees when they are doing any sort of construction, not even near the tree.  The City of Austin must have a crazy tree protection ordinance.  I'm all for protecting trees, but for some reason, it seems like a little overkill.  That is sometimes the case in towns like Austin, Boulder etc.  Legislate common sense.

They do this to all the trees when they are doing any sort of construction, not even near the tree. The City of Austin must have a crazy tree protection ordinance. I’m all for protecting trees, but for some reason, it seems like a little overkill. That is sometimes the case in towns like Austin, Boulder etc. Legislate common sense.

 

tenacity

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These are some of the kids on Saturday.  Pretty slippy (British for slippery.)  I’m riding over to Lawrence, on gravel to view the U23, women’s and men’s races, on big screen.  19 degrees and frozen ice on the ground.  Maybe a better day than viewing in person?  Probably not.