Ruts and Guts Night One

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Last night was great. That being said, racing cross at 9:30 for an hour, in pretty dusty conditions, makes for a lot of lung distress, plus makes for a short night. It is nearly impossible getting to sleep before dawn when those two things occur. But, it was great none the less.

Tulsa is only a 3 hour drive from Topeka and since the race wasn’t until late, we didn’t have to leave until nearly 4. That is strange in itself. Joseph Schmalz drove over from Lawrence and drove down with us. It’s an easy drive, but it is two lane most of the way.

When we pulled up, it was readily apparent it was going to be really dusty. The 3’s were racing and it was a dust bowl. I’ve been fighting some lung thing for the last few days, so I wasn’t too happy. Joseph seemed to be more concerned than me.

We got in a couple laps between the 3’s race and woman’s race. It was pretty much the same course of last year, which is really technical. Really technical for a cross bike. It seems like any cross race in loose dirt is pretty technical. But, add in lack of vision and it gets interesting. I liked it.

They lined us up by USAC ranking, so I got a good front row call-up and the start was important. I jumped the gun by a fraction. Not on purpose, but it still worked out that way. It is weird the couple times I’ve done that. I end up not really going hard, because I feel guilty, so it really doesn’t work out that well.

I guess I should pre-face this with I didn’t have high expectations for the race. Like I said above, my lungs are kind of jacked up and I feel kind of weird. I predicted a 12th place finish. There were somewhere around 40 guys at the start, which was good.

Anyway, I rode around most of the first lap in 3rd. Bryan Fawley and Jacob Lasley rode away from me pretty early. I rode around for a couple more laps alone, then Chris Drummond caught me. I pretty much sat on Chris the rest of the race. Well, not the rest because with 2 1/2 laps to go, Aaron Elwell caught us. I wasn’t too concerned. Even though I felt like shit, I was riding pretty within my abilities for the night. I realized early that the best place I could finish would be 3rd, so that was the target.

After Aaron caught us, he went to the front pretty quick. He rode the stairs section fast, faster than I’d been riding it. Chris had been running them and lost some distance. Descending off the stairs was a steep pitch on the descent. When I got to the bottom, I was on my break levers and I was a little front heavy and my bars twisted down, a lot. So, my brakes were pulled on. Obviously, I had to go into the pit.

The pit wasn’t user friendly. One way in and then out the same way. I lost maybe 20 seconds. My spare bike just had my gravel road clinchers on it. A bald Bulldog and a Michelin Jet in the front. Not too good for loose dirt. But, surprisingly, they weren’t that bad. I tried for a lap and realized I wasn’t catching them. My lungs were pretty done, plus my lower back wasn’t happy either. So, I pulled the plug on the last lap and just rolled around. So, I finished 5th.

Bryan was going pretty good. Jacob flatted once, so he started riding cautiously, and cruised in for 2nd. Aaron got the best of Chris for 3rd. I can’t be too unhappy with my finish, but paid the price. If I thought I was having lung crud issues before the race, then this morning it is confirmed.

Catherine, and her mom, swear by Colostrum. (In tablet form, not fresh.) So, I’ve tried it the last couple times I feel under the weather. I have 6 left. I took 4 last night and am going to take the last 2 this morning. We’ll see. Speaking of Catherine, she is driving down to race the last two races today and tomorrow. She had to work in Boston Thursday and Friday, so had to miss last nights race.

Tonight we race on a driving range under the lights again. It is pretty flat. Last year it was a grass criterium. Pretty fast and interesting. Hope it is the same tonight. Should be fun.

The podium. I was worried about being too hot this weekend, but down in the low area of the bowl, late at night, I was freezing.

I rode the stair section. It wasn’t really faster, I just didn’t want to run that far.

It’s always nice catching up with Matt Ankney. He has a little issue with his neck, so he’s sitting this weekend out. Seems like he always has a beer in his hand when he’s not racing.

I like the challenge of racing cross at night. It takes a ton of concentration and rewards good bike handling skills.

15 thoughts on “Ruts and Guts Night One

  1. mike crum

    there you go again with ” you got some lung thing going on”.
    shit man, before EVERY race you enter you have something not right with you.. you’re in your 50’s… its about time you put your ego aside and just write about a race you are going to, and how the race went.. you ALWAYS have a before race problem. is that just in case you do bad, thats your excuse? or, is your ego so big, you want your fans to say, imagine how good steve would have done if he didnt have this lung thing..
    been reading your forum for a year and its time to post up and tell you that you brag way way too much..damn!! time to bag the ego and just do the best you can. enough of the pre race excuses!!

  2. Jprummer

    Wow Mike that was a bit harsh. I see it way different than you. As a bike racer Steve seems down to earth and a nice guy. Way different than some of the master racers I run into that think they are pro and every race is the TDF.

  3. mike crum

    like i said in my 1st post. the guys a stud. facts dont lie. hes one of the best americans ever in a few diciplines.. road, mt, cross..but hes also got an ego, and excuses that rank right up there with his bike tallents..
    i anit being harsh. just giving my opinion. that aint harsh. i sure dont wat to hurt his feelings. not at all!! his posts would be a lot more enjoyable without the bragging and pre race excuses.. just read a years worth of his posts and thes two things stood out. his constantly bragging, and ego, and his excuses before a race. guys going to win or almost win any race he enters.. hes great, but the bragging and pre race excuses are for no one.. maybe an imature teen that should know better.. but not a 50 year old..

  4. Techie

    @Mike Your comment is a little confusing to me. You think the “lung thing” is a lie in an attempt to preserve or protect a large ego by having an excuse before the event. Your evidence for this is that it is the “the lung thing again”. Then you say Steve brags to much.
    Would your opinion would be different if he listed the reason he would or expected to do well?
    Or is it that you don’t care (not interested) in how Steve feels or expects to?
    Taking an optimistic view on your comment I hope you mean to say you would rather just read a play-by-play of how the race played out for him and others.

  5. Chris Gruver

    Whew, the detractors are having a bad morning. I’ll hope they find some happiness as the day progresses. Thanks for all the great posts, Steve.

  6. jp

    i have been using something i read about off of willow rockwell’s site called colostrum powder by symbiotics, can’t hurt i guess says on the lable helps strengthen immune rsponse, supports gi tract health, supports recovery & muscle growth, better than whey for power & performance its from bovine source seems legit.

  7. mike crum


    i first posted last week, then a few today. i do like his race reports. think they are great how he reports lap by lap in his crit or how the pack broke up on a big hill in a rr. i just dont like the excuses before most of his races.. lets say hes racing next saturday.. dont post next friday saying your super sore all over from putting on a new oil you been laying on the ground all week and are hurting… just say you’re racing saturday and go and do your best. fuck man, i’m sore everyday, but i dont complain about it at all. i knock in fence posts all day, slop the hogs, bail hay. i get no breaks. i work hard.. then i ride and race. i dont tell my buds i’m sore before my races.. if i have a funk before my race i race without telling everyone. if i have a head cold i race. steve CONSTANTLY posts his colds and soreness BEFORE just about all his races. i just find that not too cool. each person has his opinion. this is mine. he has his and chooses to do this.. just expressing my opinion…. i love reading about his races, but how i hate the excuses, or, he letting all know hes sore or sick .. keep reporting and writing steve. i love your writing. steve, whats your favorite place to attack. a hill, headwind, xwind? i know a ton of factors play into your answer, but was just curious.

  8. Techie

    @Mike, thanks for the reasoned respons. I disagree with you but that’s ok. I do get where you are coming from. It can also be hard to articulate that view to others without it sounding like a jerk to others. By the way there are, according to google, about 888 times Steve has said “my lungs” since ~2005

  9. tilford97 Post author

    Mike- You are all over the place. Where is the bragging? I’m not much into people that brag and definitely wouldn’t think that would apply to me. Here or in person.

    Health-wise, I do have a lot of issues. I don’t have a spleen, it was removed when I was six, so I do have problems with my lungs. I have to get an annual pneumonia shot.

    Do you think that 5th at this race is good for me? Really? It was good for me, considering my situation, but as a lifetime result, considering the field, it was mediocre ,at best. Today I finished a more reasonable 10th, which was just about the fitness level I actually have.

    My brother is now sick, Trudi, who never gets sick is coughing stuff up and of course me. Joseph, who drove down with me didn’t start today and has the same thing. So, if you think that I’m making some sort of made up excuse, then you mistaken. I race sick sometimes. I believe that sometimes it is exactly what your body needs to get well. Synthetic fever. But, cross isn’t conducive for that.

    I don’t need excuses. I don’t mind fessing up when I’m just not up to it. But for you to call me a braggart and excuse maker is just plain wrong. Sorry, that’s how I feel and no matter what you post here, I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to convince me otherwise.

  10. old and slow

    Mike, this is how you will feel when you get into your fifties.

    All the f*cking time. No matter how good a care that you take care of yourself between now and then too.

    I suggest that you get accustomed to the notion. Go find the passage where Joe DiMaggio looks at younger men swinging a gold club and says that he can just about remember when his own spinal column still worked that way. That’s the way it is for all of us. Working flat on my back on a concrete slab would absolutely mess me up for weeks now.

    So if your point is just that younger riders also show up at the starting line with nagging injuries, well then my response is that only four of them were able to beat Steve the other night.

  11. poyntell

    Mr. Crum,

    You are aptly named. From first hand observation, I note Steve never makes excuses for his performance. He just tells it like it is. The reality is that any pro who races and trains day in and day out has issues most days. They are always a factor, not an excuse. Pros factor in body condition just like they do their tires, the course, everything. He’d be an idiot not to take it into account in evaluating how he’s going to race the race. And ego? Absolutely, a necessary element to racing at a pro level. Ego is nothing more than confidence. Steve is tough. He perseveres. He knows how to win or place well even when his body doesn’t show up for the race. He’s the real deal. Your comments are misplaced.

  12. Ben

    This is a blog… a blog is a depiction of his feelings, right down to how he feels. Getting descriptive about how he is feeling, makes him human and makes the story interesting for his readers. BTW, I have your crud too and decided not to race. So not only am I making an excuse for not racing this weekend, I just let eveyone know I am a whimp! 🙂

  13. Chris Guidry

    Hey Steve,
    Just want to say thanks for comming out to Ruts N Guts and mentioning us on your blog. I have seen you a couple times over the past 2 years, but didn’t learn who you were until last Friday (only been in racing 2 years). Now I’m enjoying your blog. Hope to see you at next year’s Ruts N Guts.

    Chris G
    Team Air Assurance


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