Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Years!!

Reset those odometers!! I am not exactly sure, in fact I am definately not sure how many miles I had this year, but it was more then 7000 and quite possibly 8000!! Wow.

See ya in 2008!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Whats new pussycat?

Hey all. Its been a rough 17 days off the bike. Not really because of not riding, but my back decided to take a crap on me and then add to that all I seemed to eat for two weeks was cookies and delicious, but unhealthy food. I threatened to thrwo away all the sweets in my house this morning and I am the guy who believes in trying to never throw any food away!!

The back is just annoying, not a real problem. I just got used to having no back problems for a few wonderful months of my life!! Todd Palmer and I are working on it and I now do a 40 minute exercise routine (every day-Yuck!!). But now that I am back to riding I am going to find it VERY hard to stay motivated and keep up the exercises AND riding.

As for Christmas I got a Nikon D40 camera and zoom lens. I so wish I had it for Cross season so I could have contributed to the photo sharing. Tonight I took it to my daughter's friends birthday party and shot a zillion pics and even a whole bunch on the ice as we skated. I was a bit scared of falling and breaking the camera, but I skate ok I guess. I loved photography in my youth so this is another flame reignited.

Thom Domonic and I finally got together and he went to town with his gauges and measuring devices and we came up with an extreme set-up to see what it was like, then we backed it down to what is a reasonable change. All in the name of science and I do mean that. I am a strong proponent of the Wobblenaught fit done for me by Mike Vannuci at Bike Authority. But we learned some great stuff that I can say that after just one ride will be a benefit. We made great strides in aligning my knee via the use of the BG footbeds in my Sidi's and the use of the Varus shims. Thom could see it and i could feel how much easier pedaling in a smooth vertical arc is with some changes. Whats of great interest to me is that at a certain height above my current saddle height (a few mm to compensate for the shims and footbeds) and a few extra and my knee alignment improves again.

Time will tell if there is any benefit or (eek) a loss in power at threshold with a slightly higher saddle height. But the changes in the shoes is very welcome.

I guess thats it. Looking forward to some LSD!! OK now you know what that is. Long Slow Distance!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays

Now this is the way to do it!! Enjoy and I really do mean Happy Holidays to all my friends straight form the heart!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas List

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Did you ask Santa Claus for anything bicycle related? But how about if you could have an ANYTHING bicycle related Christmas list? What would you ask for?

Heres mine (today at 12:21pm, tomorrow or even in 20 minutes it could change dramatically).

Zipp 404 rims with DT 240 hubs, CX Ray spokes.
Zipp 808 rim with DT 240 front hub and CX Ray spokes
HED 100mm or Zipp 1080 rim with Powertap SL hub and CX Ray spokes
Zipp Sub 9 disc Wheel

Box full of tubies to try!!

Oval A900 JetStream Carbon TT Fork

Easton Attack bars for TT bike

Two SRAM Red Grouppos with Zipp Vuma Quad Cranks or Campy record UT cranks.

and a partridge in a pear tree...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sidialized or Specialidis??

Hey, wanna know how to kill two birds with one stone? Well first youve got to be in my position which I'll try to explain. Again and again I talk about the "old" days, but when I bought my Sidis (size 44.5) I was 30 lbs heavier and even then I was amazed at how much my feet had grown and flattened after so many years in the hotel and restaurant business. I used to wear 42 Time shoes. Man I loved those shoes AND my Time Mag pedals (have three sets too). But also I couldn't find new cleats and I didn't want to add adapter shims and plates even if I could find them. Anyways imagine my surprise when I tried to put them on and I couldn't even get my feet all the way in.

So I bought some Sidi Geniuses and the size that fit was 44.5. Well fast forward to this past summer and my feet wallow in them. I am sure its costing me bit of power when I need it the most. So I know I am going to buy a pair of Specialized S-Works shoes before racing season starts (size 42.5 or 43), but in the meantime its annoying how loose my Sidis are.

Oh-yeah-also in the meantime I buy some $79 Nike (I think) mountain bike (mtb) shoes when I buy my cheap Cannondale F5 mountain bike. Well-two cyclo cross races lugging these heavy shoes(and no spikes) I buy some Specialized mtb shoes (half the price of equivalent in my eyes Sidi Dominators). They have the Body Geometry (BG) foot beds. So much stiffer, lighter and the BG footbeds are amazing. I swear I am spinning better and putting big power down seems easier. The latch for the buckle? Well lets say Specialized needs to go back to the drawing board there.

So Thom Domonic has gone and got some expert knowledge about the BG footbeds. If you know Thom hes the real deal. Hes not marketing hype and he believes what HE believes. So we talk a bit about them and the advantages of the footbeds and BG shims co-designed by Andy Pruitt Ed.d Director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. The BG footbeds bring a new meaning to arch support to cycling shoes. I cannot really explain how it works, except its odd and dramatic feeling when standing in your shoes, but feels natural when pedaling.

The shims I have NOT played with, but before I ever knew about shims for shoes I have always believed I could benefit from custom footbeds, but never wanted to spend the money. I felt this way because I have always felt some funny friction or tension n my pedal stroke (especially my left knee) and I sometimes kick out with my right knee as well.

So for less then $50 I got the BG Green (highest arch) footbeds for my Sidis. Not only does the extra arch support and thickness of the footbeds fill up the extra room in my Sidis I can (with Thom's help) play with the shims and see if we can achieve an even smoother, more efficient pedal stroke. My Specialized mtb shoes come with the equivalent of Red BG footbeds (lowest arch). Blue is medium arch, but I dont have those...yet.

In my mind I am thinking already about the benefits it will pay in Time Trialling especially the 40k ones. NO matter how small it matters. But I dont think it will be a small thing. I can also move the BG footbeds and shims from shoe to shoe as well to dial in the best feel and snuggest, but comfortable fit. From the Sidi's to the Spec. mtb to the Spec S-work road shoes and maybe even to the Nike's.

But hey-thats three birds with one stone right? Better pedal stroke, big shoes fit better and can easily move the shims and footbeds from shoe to shoe.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Day Six

So here I am 7 days after the last race and 6 days since my last ride or aerobic activity...... You'd think I'd have nothing to say, but I do. I feel like crap and am running out of bike things to do (oh no-should I start stripping more wallpaper, re-grout the tub, sand and paint the bathroom, put the lawn furniture, Audrey's bicycle and toys in the basement so I can park in my garage again?).

Ive taken off the Muds from my race wheels and hung them in the basement for 2008. Switched tires around on rims, worked on getting the shifting better on the cross bike, mountain bike, road bike. Ive washed and waxed the cross frame, washed the road bike, wiped down the mountain bike, oiled all of the cables, cleaned the cassettes, cleaned the chains, scrubbed the rims of all of the dried and baked in mud and grime. Ive oiled the chains with a thicker winter lube one link at a time. I'm actually thinking when I get back to riding I wont because my bikes are all so damn clean and working so damn quietly...blimey-I don't want to get-em dirty!!

Its amazing, but even without riding i am spending money on bikes and fitness. How can that be? Well theres fenders for when I hopefully start commuting in January, new tires for the mountain bike (made out of Black Chili no less-ok not real chili), new gloves, thicker/warmer socks, used rollers. And then theres buying a medicine ball to expand my core workouts.

But I also might get to try my new Fischer SCS Skate skis this week with the new snowfall today. On Saturday we had some beers (theres been a lot of beer lately) and John Reade showed Audrey and I how to wax and we took turns scrapping and brushing. Talking about snow, I felt so Blah today, had a headache and my backs been hurting (can I say I felt bloaty all day, or is that TMI-hah-too late I said it) I went out during the mini blizzard hitting Cleveland to shovel and take our two dogs on short, but separate walks just to get outside and try and burn off a teensie bit of the good food and beer Ive been consuming.

Oh the guilt and the blah feeling of no exercise. Hopefully I'll get some light exercise in this week with the snow falling. I cannot stand this feeling.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

KC Nationals Update!!!

Julie Lewis-Sroka gets 13th int he Womens B race!!

My coach Brent Evans gets a close 4th after running third and Rudy gets 8th while Jeff Craft also nets a top 15 spot in the b mENS 40+ race!! Way to go everyone!! More racing and updates on Saturday.

Drew Bercaw also a 13th spot!! Great job!!

Julie gets a Bronze medal in the 45049 Masters race!! Yahoo!!

Video of first half lap:

Video of 2nd half of lap:

Rudy and Jeff Craft rock the 50 up Masters races against that guy names Ned Overand..

Brent finishes 26th in the 40-44 Masters field.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A few cherished moments

And into the hall of memories of 2007 I go.....

-Mid-Ohio Grand Prix I race up in the Cat3/4 race, my first race in forever. Remembering how I used to race crits (not well) I am aggressive from the get go, bridge to breaks that look good and am near the front on the last lap and take 10th.

-At RATL on Team Snake Bite we had Gary Burkholder in the breakaway with Noah, and two Stark Velo riders. The gap is somewhere between 30 to 45 seconds (maybe more?) and the race is coming to an end. We decide I am less likely to be marked then John Ehrlinger as he's won one and been 2nd already so off I go up the climb really hard, no one tries to go with me and I close the gap solo and then take 3rd out of the 5 man break in the sprint. Better timing and it could have been a Snake Bite 1-2 as Gary wins the sprint with a LONG sprint!! What a feeling and boy did I go all out.

-Again at RATL I watched in amusement as a rider attempted a breakaway up the climb, but due to the gear he chose he was sprinting like a mad man, bike swaying back and forth, arms flexing, face contorted in the effort and he wasnt going any faster then the peloton!!

-My first Time Trial in 17 years at Presque Isle and I am on my Cannondale with clip-ons. Mike Vannuci gave me an interim set-up and I am going 27 to 30mph on the out. I get 5th out of 170 or so and win my age group. What a feeliing of freedom to rip along at that speed again.

-Chippewa Creek as a Cat.4. I remember this course from doing club races on it back in the day, but who cut off the last mile of the climb? I swear it was a lot steeper and went on a lot longer. Snake Bite had a good team race, controlling the pace and trying to make it hard. Pete Scacheri and I pushed the pace on the climb and I tried a solo breakaway (to my demise), but I still took 3rd.

-I decided to Cat. up early (after Chippewa Creek) and got my Cat.3 license so I could do Cat1-3 races instead of Cat3/4.

-At the Team Lake Effect hilly Hinckly Time Trial I go out too hard on lap one and swear I am going to die the whole lap 2. I have never wanted to stop pedaling so much in my life. I am rewarded with 2nd place overall that day for the pain (and some cash to spend at Bike Authority).

-State Time Trial. Nearly 40k (37.9km) and I lose my 40-44 age group by 1 lousy second. 23.5 mile Time Trials are insanely hard both mentally and physically and this course never let you get in a rhythm. This reminds me that everything and every second counts in a race against he clock. I get 10th overall too.

-In the blisteringly hot and hilly Cat.3 State Road race I have a great race tactically and make the winning break of 3!! I only go hard once and that was to make the break away, but I dehydrate with no one to hand up bottles and not taking enough with me at the start and I bonk in the breakaway!! I struggle to finish and get 5th after getting passed by 2 guys. I was probably the last finisher too-almost everyone else abandoned.

-At one particular Westlake A race Tom Frueh and Paul Martin have made a gap. In the chase group are guys like Jeff Braumberger, Rudy, Tris, Dave Chernosky. I am taking monster 29mph pulls and closing the gap to PM and TF, but alas no one else is pulling through as hard to close the gap. In the sprint I know I need to be no lower then 3rd to be top 5, but Rudy gets me before the line and I am 6th. But it was a big day for me as I was really strong with strong riders. Some guys said I could upgrade to Cat.2 this season with a race like that (cat 4 to 2 in one summer). I am still a cat.3.

-ZOAR was a wet and cold race this year. I got dropped every lap on the climb and every lap I stuck it in the 53-11 and chased the front group down. A lot of guys should have thanked me that day. I got off the front group on the last lap with Batke and Quinlan way up ahead. After being solo for a few miles I am slow again up the climb and get caught near the top. If I could have stayed away just over the top I really had a shot at soloing in for 3rd I thought. I contested the wet and fast bunch sprint which was crazy and exhilarating and got 8th overall.

-I go to the TOP Time Trial in August to try and snag a 19 minute solo run. Anything 19 minute would have been fine. I find on warm-up the course isnt as fast as a previous time I was there with Thom winning a 2-man TT in 19:45, but I will go all out, especially up the hilly 2nd half. Its quite humid so humid air isn't fast. I roll across the line and see 19 flash by and think Ive just gone from 19 to 20 minutes (lack of oxygen to the brain!!), but in fact I set a new course record at 19:05. My first and only course record!! It felt great then and still does as I type this.

-Team work is what it was about at the Summit Freewheelers Fall Challenge. After being aggressive early and being in the small front group, I get dropped out of the break when Dan Quinlan ramps it up on the climb and my legs are screaming and wont respond. The rest of the race saw Snake Bite team mate John Ehrlinger yelling and encouraging and orchestrating the peloton to chase, chase and chase for two laps. We lose time and the lead group loses time due to cars, but some solid pulls by different riders and John and I and we actually make contact with the strong breakaway group (Quinlan, Batke, Tris, Evans, etc.). Almost unheard of in Cat1-3 racing, at least in Ohio. I try a solo from about 1.5km to go, but I go pop up the last roller and roll slowly in for 10th.

-I time trial like mad all late summer to prepare for Presque Isle. I go to Jim Behrens Thursday night time trials to try different pacing strategies as well as test new positions on the bike to get more speed. Then I go to Presque Isle feeling cocky and ready to go and I miss my start by a minute and 9 seconds(I was real early like top 10)!! I am instructed to just go and with a borrowed Zipp dimpled disc wheel from Bike Authority I want to make the best of my equipment, but I find myself getting and losing motivation the whole run. Its cross windy and so its hard both on the out and in and theres no ripping along at 30mph, instead its a hard 23 to 28mph all the way. It feels like pedaling in mollasses all the way, but I still end up 9th overall with the added time, but my real time put me 4th overall, 2 seconds and possibly less out of 3rd!! A nice improvement over the spring PI TT and a good way to close out the TT season.

-The rest has recently been blogged about and thats cyclocross. I am now on a cyclevation till December 27th. No riding for 16 days?? I honestly am scared about one thing at this point. Weight gain!! How sad, next thing I'll start worrying about how I look in jeans and asking things like "Do these lycra shorts make my butt look big?" Yikes!! Well, no worries, I am off to have a couple Belgian style Ales tonight!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

A 1000 Words

Hey-I have no problems typing a 1000 words (or emails), but truly a picture is worth a 1000 words!! Thanks Julie for capturing what I felt. I was miserably cold, in pain and still smiling.

OH-Crap-I almost forget-thanks Mark, Gary and Dave for helping me get off my left shoe while I was a popsicle.... LOL!! yes-it took 4 of us!!

Boughton Farms, The Ice Age 2

You've heard the saying be careful what you wish for right? Well, I wished for one cross race that was awful in weather, epic even and although I know it can get worse, the conditions were pretty darn hard Sunday at Team Lake Effects Boughton Farm race. Mid 30 degree temps and on and off again rain was the weather of the day. But what was more important was last weeks weather had snow and 25 degree temperatures which hardened some of the course so that there were still grooves from car tires as well as bicycles left in the ground with a slippery coating of mud, snow, ice and slush on top.

When the B's raced (congrats Tony on the win) they raced mostly on snow ice and a bit of mud I believe, but of course when we hit the course it had been raining lightly for a half hour or so. Also areas that may have been wet before were turning into ice cold bogs lap after lap (and there were only 4 long laps in the race).

After a nice warm up on the trainer I went for a lap of the course, but after a half lap I was frozen (especially my toes and fingers) and just rode back to the start. I usually go hard enough in the races that staying warm is not an issue so I left my wet thin gloves on and went without booties in case I needed to run (I wanted my toe spikes exposed) and two thin shirts. What a Mistake on all 3 parts!!

I went straight to the back for the start because I already knew I'd be the slowest across the open field. It was slippery and your bike would be taken off line at any instant and I wasnt going to go flying across the first lap. I actually stayed up the whole first lap, but I got too close to the guy in front of me and when he slipped I may have hit my brakes and my bike went out from underneath me. I didnt fall then or any other time in the race, but I just dropped the bike, picked it up and got going again.

This went on for 2 laps and I knew I was in last place and although it wasnt ideal I actually didnt really care. I didnt do that bad attitude didnt care , wanna quit sort of thing, I was just going at my pace and thats all I could do. The guys and gals around the course were great and yelling like madmen too. Especially at start finish-LOVE YOU GUYS AND GALS!!! I was just laughing at myself and it all.

On lap 3 I had a good lap and passed the poor guy in front of me who now had to take last place. I got to the road and put the hammer down, but it hurt so bad to shift that eventually I just got down to some gear and spun it out. I could have gotten to the 12 no problem and hammered it, but the wind chill factor at 25mph or whatever I was doing was just adding to my pain. My fingers would go from pain to Uber pain depending on where on the course I was. I relished the mud because it meant going slow and going hard which helped my hands and feet and body. Seriousely people, how do you dress for a day like today? My only intuition was to go hard and warm up, but I felt like I was ability and traction limited. There was only so hard I could go on the course and it wasn't enough to generate heat. But I didnt quit, though I did contemplate riding to my car, changing gloves and putting on my rain jacket and gettig back in the race to finish.

So really thats about it. Sorry-not much to tell. I did put in a last lap charge on Greg Jackson, but I unclipped 3 times and the gap opened up and that was that. What I should say was I was having a blast like a kid. I was having so much fun that it was a shame that I was racing so poorly!! I mean I wasnt really racing racing after the first 1/2 mile!! But I hope my brain has stored away the 3rd and 4th laps for 2008!!

Thanks to the whole Team Lake Effect and Bike Authority crew for a great year of cross. I loved every minute of it (the good, the bad and the ugly). Thank you to the owner of Boughton Farms and the guys who set-up two awesome courses for us there.

Its very sad its all over now for me (No Nats), but it has certainly lit a fire under my derrier for next year. Nice to be done with racing though! OHHhhh, I dont doubt next year will be very similar to this year, more learning and not a whole lot of placings, but who knows. One of my favorite sayings goes "even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes." Maybe next year I'll find a nut, or maybe were all just nuts for doing cross at all. I mean it was 30 degrees and raining and we were racing on rutted farm fields, on ice and snow and lots and lots of mud and through ice cold puddles of dirty water!! Yeah I found a nut, ME!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's Over!! Thank you Brent Evans

My Thank you-O-Meter is about to blow sky high. I want to thank everyone for a great year of training and racing and loads of friendship and laughs, but no one more then my coach Brent Evans. We started in July or August of 2006 and he painstakingly slowly brought me back into cycling.

He made a great read on my type A training personality and kept me from burning out in June. I followed almost everything and when I say almost I mean almost down to the minute of this and the number of that.

So thanks Brent and keep up the great work!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cross Training Time!!

What are you all planning on doing this winter? For me bicycle racing is done in 5 days. On the one hand I will miss the competition and no more chances to improve on desperately needed skills in race conditions, but it will be nice to take a week or two off and start to rebuild (hopefully stronger) for 2008.

But you know what? I think I will race anyways. I am going to learn to skate ski while my daughter learns to classic ski with the

If you have children I cannot recommend the excellent Hilltoppers XC program enough. I watched as neighbor children learned to cross country ski and have a fun time while doing it. The cost is minimal as well. Please feel free to email me at if you have any questions.

I already know I will be signing up for races (beginner mind you) at Chapin.

Wish me luck,

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pictures from, Boughton Farms

In all its goooey brown, dreary glory!!

Thanks again to Gary Burkholder for catching the intensity and action so well.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Boughton Farms #1 100 words for mud

I believe the Eskimos have a plethora of ways to describe snow and of course they would. After today I have a few more ways to describe mud and not all of them are good. I realize it can get a whole lot muddier and wetter, but this was a good add on to the mud that we had last week.

I brought my big fat tired Epic to warm up on and left my trainer at home. After one slow lap and getting bogged down with the big tires I was regretting it. I am not kidding when I say the Epic picked up a minimum of 10 lbs of mud, grass and leaves in one lap. It was amazing. I almost gave birth when I tried to lift it over a barrier. Rick dropped off his trainer, but by the time I had returned from my second warm-up (on the road) the start was getting close.

I took my clean CSK Cross bike to the line and lined up on the inside of the 2nd row. We were off and again I got a horrible start and faded to the back as we negotiated the muddy first left and right. I was tentative in the mud as we crossed the open field, made the right and into some pretty hard packed grass. I looked forward, too many to count. I looked back and there was no one behind me. Dead last again. I almost smiled and maybe I did, but it wasnt a smile of happiness. More like "Your a freakin idiot you know that, now you've got to chase all race long again, have fun!!"

I'll tell you a secret. I need a few laps to get my head around all this new stuff like sand, off camber descents, soupy muddy corners, sticky muddy single track, picking lines. Next year I hope to be up in the top 3 or 4 when we take off in these A races.

So anyways I start to pick off guys like I usually do by hammering in any grass I can find. I am turd slow in all of the single track and even the sweeping corners then I have to go even harder again in the long stretches of mud. Luckily theres no shortage of guys to watch lines of and I pick up a thing or two. After everything settles itself out the first guy I catch is BIll Marut and hes real smooth so I follow him the best I can and it helps. But when I am ahead of him he catches me in the single tracks and I repass out in the open. Next I slowly and painfully catch Derek Wilford who is just flying in the really deep muddy grass where I think I am usually at my best.

Turns out he had a flat tire and he says his bike was actually faster in the mud with the flat. We go back and forth doing the open field/single track dance. But somehow I manage to fall down or come to a dead stop multiple times while leading him and Bill. The falls were ridiculous even for me. One time I went into the single track and chose to ride the center of a bump and slid off and fell on my right side. Another time on the muddy road I was trying to miss a puddle and somehow fell right over going in a straight line. And again once I drifted into a puddle and that lead me left into a soft muddy rut and I had to stop, hobble to the right and get going. Another time I hit a rut and almost T-boned it and went off course.

But even with all these trials and having to re catch Derek and try and drop him I was still catching John Ehrlinger and whomever Team Lake Effect he was racing. I believe it was Matt Weeks. The gap sometimes got tantalizingly close, but still along way. But I make a lot of the mistakes I described above on laps 3 and 4 for some reason.

So anyways, its lap 3 or 4 (not that I know it at the time) and I make a mess of every single wooded section. I stop and grab trees to not fall over, I stop in deep mud mid way through, stop in a rut on an open road and Derek is by between singletrack sections and establishes a gap as I flounder. Also for the first time I don't see John and TLE anymore. I am actually wondering whats wrong with my bike, are the tires so loaded up with mud its not handling right? Turns out it was all in my head!

Also-as is the case with everyone, the effort to push in this mud and out of all of the 180's out of the single track is making my knees really ache. And then pushing like mad all around the course to keep trying to open a gap and chase the two ahead-wow was that a Huge load on the muscles. Not to mention after the race my drive train was so locked up with mud and debris it would not free spin and in fact there was a little rock stuck between a derailleur pulley and the cage!!! If your cyclist then you know what this was like, but if your not-imagine tightening the strap on that exercycle at the gym down hard then pedal like mad for an hour!!

I am now trailing Derek and have lost contact with John so I sat formulating different strategies in my head. When I come to the pits Derek screams out on a fresh bike and he is flying. I am going like hell too and hes pulling away across the field. I take a second to look at my bike and its a mass of mud around the tires, brakes, front chain ring and chain stays. I am envious of Derek and his clean drive train and much lighter bike. I know were just amateurs, but on a day like today a pit crew and bike change per lap would definitely be the way to go. I catch him in the grass and get ahead, but he and his his bike are just screaming in the mud and I am passed in an open muddy field pass. Sounds arrogant, but I am kind of amazed. I am usually the passer in the open stuff and the passee in the technical stuff.

So I had listened for last lap as we crossed start finish, and if they said it I am sure I didnt hear it. I had at least an inkling that we were close to 5 laps. No big deal. I am so on the rivet the whole time in these races I can barely think straight so I am not capable of counting laps and my glasses are so muddy I cannot see my computer (not that I thought of it anyways). Turns out its lap 5 and again I dont know. I am such an idiot!! Derek if you read this-by all means leave a comment as to the right chronological order of these events....

So my strategy now that there was no catching John was to drop Derek if I can , try and be clean in the woods and come out ahead. But when Derek passes me I think, I'll sit on him through the woods like I did earlier and learn some new lines. Well any thoughts or ideas of tire problems goes away on the last lap as I stay really close to Derek through all the single track and his gap at best grows to 40' and thats in only the 2nd to last section. I close the gap and I am past Derek by coming out of the slightly uphill 180 before the last open road to the barriers tighter and with more momentum. I clear the barriers well as I had all race long (I was waiting till the last second to dismount and try for no more then a step or two before the barriers).

So now were approaching the line and Derek comes whizzing past. I dont really react except to stay close, but when I look up and hear the cheering and the bigger crowd at the start line I realize too late its the last lap!! I lose to Derek Wilford in a great race!! He is in Masters, but it doesnt matter. It would have been a lot more exciting for me to have raced to the finish instead of getting passed in the last corner like a sitting duck. I wasnt even breathing that hard after the race because I was in a whole different strategy. But I am not taking anything away from Derek.He rode a clean race, rode so strong and he was superb in the technical sections. So much faster and smoother except the very last lap when I finally got my crap together.

In fact that last lap was awesome for me. I was having a blast carving clean lines in all those thick muddy curves, maintaining monentum up and out of the woods into the soupy grass and back into the single track and sweeping around corners one foot clipped out. I wish I was that good every lap. Maybe next year or maybe in a few years. Felt great to get it all right once!!

I got 5th in the A race too!! Overall I don't know yet, but 9th or 10th or so I am thinking as there was some attrition up front. My best BA TLE A race effort yet all around considering the awful conditions. I am pretty darn happy with it. I'll admit its awesome to be racing pretty competitively in the A races in my first year, especially considering all the time and energy wasting mistakes I make every lap and how slow I am on the starts and technically the first lap or two or three sometimes. My coach Brent told me in a few years I'll look back at how I rode these first cross races and just have to laugh. I know exactly what he means. Great fun cross. Huge learning curve!! But on the flip side I sure wish I was scrapping it out on lap one like I did at Orrville every race. Granted that was in gorgeous weather and a course that suited me to a T.

I also know I should keep my mouth shut about whining and complaining about results, So I must say now I am very aware of what a GREAT year ive had, but I dont think I would had had this great of a year if I wasnt so hard on myself to do well. Deep down I think I let myself down all those years ago by not chasing certain dreams of mine, quitting cycling and not capitalizing then. I am not trying to say that I would be a Semi Pro or a Cat 1/2, but that I didnt try hard enough and I didn't make good decisions. I had great results in college despite myself.

I am older now and I don't want to make that mistake again and be full of regrets. I want to race for years to come and I want to always strive to be better every single time I hit the starting line. I want the utmost knowledge, equipment, diet and training (while still being a good husband and father). Theres plenty of Masters racers to idolize or maybe mimic in northern Ohio too. I'd name names, but then I'd forget someone and feel like a heel.

I'm getting a bit off track because of a great thing that happened after the race..Don Frey of Team Snake Bite had a fun little awards ceremony where I got an awesome hand made and very ingenious trophy for moving up to the A's as quickly as I did instead of staying in the B's till I started racking up wins. Not that I would have (Tony Marut, Cameron Jackson and many more are studs of the future). This is what got me typing about results in the A's being great, but maybe a bit lower then I would desire deep down inside of me.

Well, my bike was a complete mess and as I sprayed it off with about 300 gallons of cold water I realized the amazing variety of different colors, textured muds that were all over it. Sticky mud, mud with pebbles, mud that rinsed right off, compacted black mud so hard as a rock it took a screwdriver to pry it out between chain rings. And just think after stripping my bike down this week to clean all the grass and goop out of all the spinning components, we get to do it all again after the 9th. So till next week, heres black sticky grass infused, clay like textured mud in your eye!!