Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wind is my friend

I actually dont mind the wind. Training or racing I think it adds to the ride rather than ruins it. It was into the headwind and uphill grade I attacked (well, it wasnt really an attack, but this is not about Greenford)and won my last race of the season. Back in the 80's when I lived and raced in Columbus an old friend would always chant as we rode dead into that strong headwind out west of OSU "the wind is my friend, the wind is my friend, the wind is my friend."

Today had sustained winds in the high teens and high 20's further east. I first rode up the street to make sure it wasnt dangerous and headed as best as I could into the wind so I could make a mostly tailwind ride home. I just wanted to get off the trainer and not run for a change. And get some miles in. I have been riding only about 45 to 51 minutes on the trainer for weeks. And just a nice endurance pace too.

I am always amazed at how far you need to ride in miles to get a 3 hour ride in (which was my goal). I always seem to come home in 2:30 or 2:45 no matter how far I meander. Today was no different with me starting heading north east to climb Old Mill east and then head south into the wind to Chagrin Falls. I play games to make riding into the wind more tolerable. I say I am doing intervals and do a long set at tempo or threshold or pretend I am racing in a breakaway or use a bigger gear and lower cadence.

I'll sometimes mimic my time trial position as well and try and hold a high gear/cadence into the wind as well. It all works to make what I sense 99% of all cyclists hate, headwinds.

As usual I only ended up with 2:17 (including stop lights, etc.). After I was home for awhile I got sleepy and took a quick nap. I was woken up and heard the kids downstairs playing the Wii my brother, sister and sister in law bought us for Christmas and it felt like my thighs burst into flames or got acid poured in my muscles as I bounded down the steps to play with the kids.

Ohh baby that hurt a bit. So maybe there is a downside to all these head games riding in the wind. It tends to make you ride a lot harder than you think. Tomorrows wind will be higher, temperatures lower. For my legs sake I hope my mind shows some more restraint. This may be all moot as rain is forecast in the am. I got a little wet and filthy today and it was worth it to ride outdoors. But another day, well maybe the novelty of riding outside as already worn off. Or maybe its the lactic acid talking.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Indoor racing coming to Cleveland!!!

Just regurgitating an email from Bike Authority.

Computrainer TT Series

Train, Race & Win Prizes Indoors.
Brought to you exclusively by Bike Authority

Eight race point series, $10 per race with signed waiver, Juniors can race for free, 3 mile course on Computrainer. Prizes for 1st place, highest watts, max speed, cash awarded to top 20 overall in point series. Payout may be adjusted based on turnout. Early sign up available online.

First Start Time at 6:00pm then starts are on a "First Come First Start" basis.
(Sign up online early to get an early start time.)
You may arrive earlier than 6:00pm to Warm-Up (and we encourage it!). We will have some trainers available but we suggest that you bring your own trainer for warm-up.

Race Dates:
January 18th and 24th
February 4th, 11th and 18th
March 4th, 11th and 18th

All Entrants will be required to sign a release waiver before starting.
Call the shop and ask for Mike or Sean for any additional information.

I will do some of them!! 3 miles or about 6 to 8 minutes of pure Pain, I mean ecstasy!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

USA Cycling Coaching!!

Over the past couple of weeks I have been studying. After that I took a test. Then I waited till this came in the mail today.

I hope you can all appreciate how excited I am about this. I have asked some very experienced coaches to give me guidance and I truly appreciate that they have agreed to give me guidance as I start on this new adventure. Call it my circle!!

And that is exactly as I see it. An adventure that starts with my enthusiasm for the sport of cycling and especially training methods and competition. And my never ending thirst for knowledge. And not just about coaching, but about the technology of the sport. From the latest grouppo to the newest disc wheel or layup of carbon fiber. And it ends (or maybe it just really begins) with helping cyclists in any way that I can to help them achieve their goals.

Why? I have thought over the last few days what my answer to why I want to be a coach will be and you know what? It comes down to this simple thing. I really, really want to!! Its as simple as that...and all that that entails!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A fun run!

Iffy weather is the talk on everyones blogs!! But i have ot say that the runners have got it a lot easier in the winter. I have yet to run inot conditions that are not favorable for running. For example in the last three weeks I have run 10k's in 20's and wind, low 30's with wind and rain, 20's and deep snow covered trails.

And with a basic kit of light weight tights and a few thin layers on top with a thin shell or maybe my cycling jacket when its raining. My point being that cycling in inclement weather is a production. and riding in cold winter rain is just miserable no matter how you dress. Either your cold and miserable or overdressed and miserable.

So anways, I am running, that much we have determined. I'd rather be cross country skiing though!! The coach of the young skiers called the Hilltoppers that my daughter is a part of has encouraged the kids to get out and do endurance exercise tillt he snow falls.

Audrey finally agreed to a run with me Sunday so we suited up, got the two dogs ready and she and I did 3 miles around the Shaker lakes for 45 minutes of walking, jogging and trail running!! We were muddy, wet and happy. The dogs were muddy, wet and smelly and I suppose happy.

We had a blast a laughing and joking the whole way and I cannot wait to run with my little daughter again!!

Now to look for a flat and fast 5k race!! I figure why not use whats left of cross season fitness and 2 10k's a week of training and see how fast I can run a 5k.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Gift idea for readers!!

This is a bit of old news, but seeing that its Christmas I thought I would pass this gift idea along. Fellow racer (and team mate) Tris Hopkin's wife Sharon has written a thrilling Novel.

Sharon's book series has it's very own web site now:

The first installment of the series was a finalist for "Best New Fiction, 2008"
(scroll down to Best New Fiction section, or use your browser to
search the page for "Kaye")

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Have you thought about what you want Santa to bring for you? Well how about a Rotor mountain bike stem that weighs a whopping 83 grams. Yes that is 15 grams more than a Cliff bar.

Also the power meter company Quarq has introduced its 2nd generation crank and is now a sponsor of Cervelo Test Team. I got to admit a weird feeling about this. Quarq's crank mounted PM is getting rave reviews and its priced fairly (vs SRM and Power tap)if not still unattainable for me. But when you sponsor a Pro tour team that's a lot of free gear which we the general consumer have to cover in added cost to the product. Why should this matter? Well one because in the beginning the owner and creator of the Quarq said he could do power meters cheaper and better than whats out there. And second, they already sell out, what will going overtime building units for the team do for availability? But at the same time-yahooo for them!! GO get em. Look at what sponsoring a Pro tour team did for Cervelo in the first place. Give a chick a chance!!

Do you like socks? Well I have a thing for Merino wool. Its so smart. It keeps your feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. HOws it know? It also resists stinking. Wish I could say the same for my HR strap. I found on Sierra Trading post quarter crew Bridgedale XHale Demon with Merino wool, polypro and spandex for...drum roll please....$6.77 with a 20% coupon. Got to love that. Smart Wools are $17 to $18 each. And I DO so like the cosmic cow look.

On Easton's sight they have a nice video about their 09 line of wheels. I confess I like Zipp wheels, but the new R4 hubs and EC90 wheels at $500 less look like a nice alternative for next summer's road racing!!

And last for today, with Cross done, its time to plan for 09, Oh Yeah baby!! Just in time (not)is an article from Matt Pacocha of Velo News on the cross tubies. Or just ask John!! But if you dont want to be tempted by a new tubie wheelset (or three) then just ask Shawn Adams how many $120 tubies he can flat in one race. That ought to scare that expenditure right out of you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Boughton Farms, 2008 Finale

Robert Sroka Photgraphy

I can do this two ways. I can fluff it up and make happy faces or I can just lay it out. So at the risk of being laughed at or merely thought of as "crazy" heres what went down at Boughton yesterday to close out not only the Lake Effect Cyclocross series, but the 2008 racing year.

Boughton was cold, windy and covered in snow. Like windchhill near or below zero and 20mph winds and gusts cold. There were only a couple patches of bare grass and they were getting soft and a little muddy, but not bad. My 2nd row start was a good one and I was sitting maybe just outside of the top 10. I dont know if its Karma, but I started mouthing off across the open field. More in jest than serious because I knew we were all nose to tail. I was just saying "we can go faster". Then I started looking left and right of Brent Evans to see if maybe I could sprint around before the corner and low and behold I swerve off the single usable lane and go into a tire track full of snow.

I dont freak out, I just keep hammering trying to get back up to the line and then my bars twist and I hit the ground. Brett Davis and Rick Adams both told me after the race that their immediate thought was "hes not getting back up". It wasnt as bad as it looked. Today my necks a little sore, but thats it. The fall at Spin's race was a 12 on the Richter scale. This was a 3 and I popped up, straightened my brake hood and got going again. I was very disappointed at myself to say the least, but I turned that frown upside down as they say. OK I was fucking pissed alright?

I really dont want to spend as much time talking about this as I could, but it seems I am a first lap crasher and that is NOT a reputation I care to have. I'll work on first lap hard efforts next fall. My coach Sean's already been informed we step it up next year for Cyclocross.

Now I am really on a mission. I am hammering and passing people anywhere I see some smooth ground. I know when passing Dave he must have thought I was about to crash about 5 x in about a minute. I was crossing up the bike in spots and slipping and sliding through the singletrack. Across the field into the headwind there was a little stretch about 1/3 of thw way across then another at the split. When i would be drafting someone and we got to the split, whichever way they went I went the opposite then dropped the hammer to squirt past before the fun left hand bend. Yeaaaah-baby that was fun.

I was in search of a certain Team lake Effect jersey filled with Tony Marut. I didnt expect to catch him unless he was having a bad day in the cold. As it turns out he had a Great day!!

I caught site of Halloran and Domonic, but I had a full length of the farm fields to make up. Big gaps everywhere. Hammer, Hammer, Hammer. When I eventually passed Jason and caught Thom up front of him was Brett Davis and two Lake Effects jerseys. Wow-so much more ground to make up. Hammer, Hammer , Hammer.

But me and my Dieringer SS are just having a good ole time. I find out how slow I am in the corners still when after passing Brett he asked to be let by in the woods, but I am racing and I dont want to take any chances so poor Brett's all over the brakes behind me cussing as he loses his momentum.

The next little bit gets a bit fuzzy but a real battle started to brew with myself and Craft, Thom and Rudy. Back and forth we went and we were all battling to beat each other off the barriers into the woods. For Craft and Rudy it was to gap us in the woods (I am guessing)and for Thom and I it was to not only to put the other behind as many other guys as possible, but to have the lead when we came to the hill on the backside. That was my plan. Craft had the barriers figured out and zinged past on one lap into the woods.

Also as a side note for myself at maybe 3 or so laps to go as I was going across the field with the tailwind I look to to my right and I see a big group of guys including Quinlan and Brent and some other familiar jerseys starting to sprint across the field into the headwind. At the time I was trying to do a headcount to get a guess on where I was, but it didnt hit me till later from how far back I came to getting the 2nd group within eye sight. Last year in the snow I was almost dead last and I really never crashed as much as just slipped on the ice as everyone else did. things to make you smile.

OK so remember when I said I was just gonna lay it out about the race? Well here it is-true, false, delusions of grandeur. WHATEVER!! I came into the race no more trained than any other, but I felt all week like I was gonna be ready to stomp. Waking up dehydrated and hungover Sunday didnt even deter me. I drank a ton of water, ate well and just kept my Positive mental attitude. So after blowing it AGAIN on the first lap (Spin, Broadview Heights, States) and charging back (more or less big mistake free) time and time again I have to think, what IF I finally got up to the front on lap one and settled in? OH well, I am not gonna cry over spilled milk (or spilled Ray) and just use this as I do as motivation for next year.

With two to go Thom, Craft, Rudy and I are still locked in a back and forth battle. Thom beats me by a foot into the first woods and that sets the tone really for the last lap. Across the field for the last lap Craft dumps it hard and I almost crash into his rear wheel, but this time I am able to swerve right and NOT fall off the road into the ruts and continue. Now its Thom with a gap, Rudy then myself. I try to get Rudy as we head into the headwind, but he sprints and I get caught in the deep snow on the left. Great move on Rudy's part. I gut it out hard once backon the hard pack and catch back up, draft and then when we hit the split I sprint as hard as I can as soon as Rudy went right and just get ahead to go down the left hander. Rudy almost passes me back in the 180 sweeper after the pumpkin but I lead over the barriers into the woods. whew!!

Now I have to catch back up to Thom. I am quicker in the first part of the woods, but he gaps me coming out, I close it between sections then he gaps me a bit again as the 2nd is harder or slower in a big gear. We finally come out of the twisties with Thom a few seconds up and I close it down between the two right handers and try to pass him going up the hill because I know once we hit the downhill he can shift past the gear I am using and maintain the gap. Tryingot srint all out and keep traction!! I know Thom's body language and hes going hard, but I get right on his wheel, but I cannot get the pass done up the hill. We head down the hill and I am glued to him. I let a small gap open in case he makes a mistake in the 2nd to last corner I wont lose momentum and can go past. But hes clean in the right hander and we both sprint to the left hander and hes not only clean but faster than the last few laps and we go across the line nose to tail for 8th and 9th. A fun battle with those 4 for sure and an action packed last lap for me!! I love racing!!

So I dont improve my finish for the points sadly. My drop was a 9th and thats where I finished again. But again like a broken record I guess I cannot be too upset to come back to the top 10. I figured out a few riding things in snow too. I did tumble down the Overall order with Tony getting two 2nds in two races, Brent and Shawn just showing up to put points on the board and Dan scoring well in his 4th race. The points race made for a fun motivator and something to think about between races.

And I did every race this year on my SS. Thanks Zak for building a killer light, great riding, sprinting and climbing bike. Its tough too!! Goodness knows its been abused a couple times. I hope some of that training carries over because it sure makes for a good strength workout! Congrats to all the A and A Masters racers. I had a blast racing you this winter. For those who got to see me dump it numerous times this year I hope you were well entertained and not too detained. For those too far ahead to ever see me, well I'm coming. Dont know when I'll get there, but I am coming!! First is to stop crashing!!

As others have said, well be seeing you guys on the road next!! Thank you Marut's, Bike Authority and the Lake Effect crew. I really do love cross now. And I have you all to thank for it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tony and Rudy

Tony and Rudy
Originally uploaded by FatherOFinnegan
Tony was practicing this pre-race and it shows. Wicked fast.!!

Run, Mount, Go!!

Kirtland park had some of the funnest dismount and runing sections. I loved the high speed dismount to the steps on the west end of the course the best. But FatherOFinnegan captured this video at the short run-up that makes me look like i actually know how to remount my bike. Great racing video too showing how close Jeff, Jason and I are.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Watts this Aero stuff all about?

This is a great article to read for you aspiring Time Trialists and Triathletes!!

It is a commonly held belief by guys and gals who race in Time Trials that everyone should do them. For training, to see yourself in a whole new light and for competition and mental toughness. Tom Humphrey explains from his perspective why he does it with no time trial equipment of any kind, but I will just misquote him. Maybe he'll comment (hint, hint).

TH at States

It is a commonly held belief by guys and gals who race bikes that do not do Time Trials that they would rather die a 100 horrible deaths than suffer through one time trial.

Dave commented after the Chagrin CX race that Time Trialing probably has taught me to push hard and how hard I can push (to exhaustion) when I am all by myself in a CX race. I can see that. Time Trialing is a lonely sport as can be cyclocross.

Have you read the article yet? What I got out of it even with some protocols missing (like making the position on the road bike with clip-ons and the TT bike exactly the same) is that a road bike with clip-ons and an aero helmet is a sufficiently fast platform to be race worthy.

I present my first TT race bike care of Fitter Mike Vannucci at Bike Authority. I raced my bike like this at Presque Isle. Its a standard road bike (Cannondale Six13) with Profile Jammer stubby clip-ons. Saddle raised a bit and saddle slammed forward. My Powertap showed an average wattage of 290 watts for 12.5 miles in 28:05. Good enough for 5th that day. Thats 5th overall on a road bike with clip-ons out of 193.


One year later I went back with a state of the art Zipp Sub 9 disc, P2SL bike and a new fit and I hope greater fitness and went 26:54. A minute and 11 seconds faster. Was it all the money I threw at the bike, the uncompromised aero fit I could get on it or was it weather conditions or maybe it was all greater fitness?

Well, we know its a bit of all of them. But the article is a great answer to that question we racers against the almighty clock always want to know. If we buy this, how much time will it save us?

Again I take from the article that for $200 or less(clip-ons and aero helmet) you can convert your road bike to TT duty and be most of the way towards a full TT bike, only without the $1800 to $8000 of another bike.

I suggest you go to qualified bike fitter/coach to get the most out of your new TT position, even if its on your road bike.

Friday, November 28, 2008

West Woods Trail Run

8.3 miles in a winter wonderland at the West Woods Geauga Lake Park. Flocking on the trees, the morning sun rising and lighting the icicles on the tiny leaf less branches. Covered bridges, steep hills,a waterfall and caves made for a perfect Thanksgiving morning.

My first trail run and I loved it. If you havent run at West Woods, its worth the drive from the east side. I was sore almost immediately after wards, but it was so worth it.

1300 calories burned and now its Friday. Time to burn off some more of that great food I enjoyed yesterday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Go for the burn girls!!! So check out this wicked one hour workout I did the other day. I estimated I did 64 all out sprints, 24 over-gears (out of saddle big gear stomps), 8 all out uphill running sprints of about 8 to 10 seconds and practiced my dismount and remount 16 times. Again all in one hour. I am thinking about a workout video. Hot pink spandex and crop Tri top with matching pink terry sweat bands on my wrists and a cheesy porno soundtrack. Would you buy it?

Oh but wait, this wasnt a workout, this was just Sunday's cross race!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

State CX Championships

Hey, I got a Call Up at States in the Cat. 123 race!! Wahoo!! Dont think for a second I think I deserved it, but damn that was cool anyways!!

What a course. I think it deserving of the states what with the DJ, great course layout and such. A nice long course that I was honestly still trying to figure out on the last lap. I heard we did only 8 laps in an hour. I havent seen results yet so just a guess.

I raced my SS bike again and let me tell you-that was a BIG mistake and I am not afraid to admit it. The Sled hill area and the off camber up and down hill corners were not kind to my body or my bike. But the grassy sections going back and forth definitely were. My gearing was perfect for them. I made uber time in those sections, not that it really mattered as you'll see.

The race starts with some pretty good guys. Thom and Dave and I discussed how it would be fun to race with new faces. In the Elite race were Jon Card, Gerry Pflug, Phil Noble, Matt Weeks, Chris Mahew, Ernesto and a lot more studly cross riders I have never seen before.

I get a good start, I fight for positions and get a good head of steam for the uphill, but I am a bit tentative in the corners, but maintaining my mid-pack spot. When we start the first uphill tight corner adrenaline or something is running high and as I get to the top I pull so hard on the handlebars because i am pedaling so hard to stay in position I lift the front wheel off the ground and fall right over.

I could say I am so powerful I just overpowered my bike, but lets just say I am a dork and leave it at that.

So its my usual race. At the back and try and move up. I drill it through the grassy power sections and just suffer in the hilly section. OK-not hills per se, more like a large embankment separating the park from the road with a really steep peak. They really made it fun and interesting winding us all around it too. Down to the sidewalk, up at an angle, across it doing 180's and down into off cambers with pine needles to make you check-up. Some corners had great grip and some were slippery and some your bike moved around a bit, but didnt really slide. I think Craft called those corners as having a nice float.

To add insult to injury (or injury to insult) I also go too hot in the baseball diamond turn and whack the fence with my right hand and turn my knuckles into ground meat.

I put in some big attacks to catch the group of Wingler, Thom Domonic, Dave Steiner and others. I catch and pass, get a small gap at first then maybe I overcooked it because they pass me back and drop me. I go soft for a lap or so then start to attack again. Then Dave catches the course tape and has a bad crash right in front of us. There was Dave all over the course and I almost ran over his arms. I swerved, he tucked in his arms. Thom kept driving the pace and pulled out a lead on me I could not close.

After that I slowly caught another, I dont know 5 or 6 guys and went after the last guy in my sights, but he saw me coming and opened up the gap despite my best effort. As usual I got tired, back screaming so I couldnt go very fast up the hills, almost at a standstill in sections but for some reason I still had some good speed in the flats.

Race done!! Great job to Thom, Dave was banged up in the leg, but ok. I am now trying to resolve that some days its really not a single speed day and today was one of them. And not because it was States, but because the course just had to many slow corners into uphills. But with only one Lake Effect race remaining I bet I run the SS again, no matter what. Next year though I work on my starts and maybe run the geared bike on the sunny days!! And it was fun to race some new faces. Thank you Cap City Cross!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Worth the Wait

My little Audrey waited years to grow tall enough to climb the rock wall at Legacy Village's Dicks Sporting Goods. An ominously tall wall that goes from the floor of the first floor to the ceiling of the building.

Last week she got measured and lo and behold she was finally above the line. We paid our $2 and up she went on the easiest section (#4,far right)) with plenty of hand holds and a pretty flat wall. She makes it to the top with some help with the rope, but more or less was on her own. This pic is not Legacy Village's rock wall, but its close enough.

We went back today to return some socks and of course we knew shed want to do it again. Whats cool for me to see is how she knows her limits while still being brave and tenacious. When she gets tired she lets go and hangs, dries her hands on her pants and then starts climbing again. She was smooth and really used her legs to keep moving up the wall. Spring with the upper leg and grab the next hold. Shes always trying to style it!!

Winded and tired after doing the #4 wall she decided she wanted to do it again. So we paid our $2 and she lined up again. 30 minutes or so later she's strapped in and decides on #3 (2nd from right). A lot fewer things to hold, a bumpier surface and some pretty big gaps. She is tired now, but still tenacious. I dont think she'll make it and I told her she didn't have to make it at all. We'd come back again. She rests, she goes like heck then rests. She listens to Chris the instructor, waves at us on occasion, makes funny "uggs" when it gets really tough and fakes the rubber legs to get a laugh and hits the red button at the top!! Just awesome to see her fight through the burn and I did not push her-not one word.
Way to go Audrey!! Cleveland Rock Gym next!! Wanna go?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ohhh Copley what a battle is coming for you.

I cannot be more honest when I say again I went into cross season 2008 just to improve for years to come. Finishing positions were not supposed to be important, just improving the skill set. The single speed and the mountain biking are all a part of that. But I have not been doing any cross specific training. Like race starts and the short hard intervals that are required for that glorious pain fest we call cross. As Thom and I discuss were basically detraining right now. Probably getting a little slower with each event.

But I find myself in 4th in points going into the last race and what a great yet precarious position I am in. I can easily topple to 10th, but I only have the slightest chance of moving up to 3rd. Amazing how a points race really makes you focus. But I cannot do anything training wise now that would help me in the last two races. Its just too late. Oh and I just caught a cold last night. Bummer dude.

Here is how this crazy points game could unfold. I have been very consistent this year and this has yielded 4 good finishes of 9,9,7,6. Thats great, but its also bad that my ave finish position is about 8th. The three guys just a few points behind me (Tony Marut, Thom Domonic and Zak Dieringer)all have a much lower drop than I do. IOW-I drop a 9th, but they drop a 16th, 15th an 12th. The lower the drop, the easier it is to climb up the points at the end of the year. My drop is about where I always finish-drat!!

And then if you dig deeper you see that there are fast guys with only 3 races, but a lot of points. Of those who have a shot at overtaking are Cameron Jackson, Brent Evans and Shawn Adams. Shawn and Brent only need to finish (no mechanical)to move back into the top 5 (where they belong). If Shawn wins he can take the title!! I am sure he knows this. I am cool with that.

So what does this mean? It means that Boughton Farms on Dec. 7th is going to be extra fun. I love a good battle anyways, but now there are points and positions on the line going into the race. I know who I need to beat and I know I need to have my best race of the year. I cannot wait!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The very cold The Fields CX race of 08

What did I do wrong? I got a front row start for the combined A and A masters and at the gun I got a little pinched so I backed off and the field of 31 started to come around. But I held position about mid field as we turned left. Lots of wet muddy grass and open fields so for the second I wasnt too annoyed.

But pre-race I decided to run the first corner to avoid the jam-up that was sure to come. The corner is tight (180) and was already muddy and really soft. But I stayed on my bike (bad decision) and in so doing loads of riders came by my inside as I struggled to get my one gear up to speed. I mean I was going no where and everyone was flying by.

It was awfully quiet all of a sudden so I looked back and low and behold I am in last place. Come-on!!! We go across the gravel lot to the soccer field and I see I think Gerry Pflug (orange kit) is already gapping the field, but hes on his way back across the field and I havent even made it inot the grass yet. I cannot believe how far back I am without a crash or mishap in a 1/3 or so of the first lap.

I work hard for laps and I start to work my way through the field bit by bit. I catch a group of 3 that includes Thom Dominic and then Dave Steiner and eventually Bill Marut. [side note-my eyes keep getting blurry tonight as I took a lot of mud in the eyes]. I have no idea where I am at overall, but I see Garth, Dan Quinlan and Matt Weeks ahead and I am closing fast!! All I know is if I catch them and pass them that's 3 much needed points in the overall points race.

takes a dig in deep mud
But as I get close I slip and fall in the off camber tennis court section and again later that lap I slip and fall a couple of times after dismounting in the old start finish area from 2007. Didnt get hurt at all this time. My feet slipped on the wood rail road ties as I jumped off and at every attempt ot stand up I fell again. LIke a ballet of an octopus on skates. The gap opens again and my right hand and bars are so slippery with mud I can barely hold the bar. Wuipe, wipe, wipe as hard as I can on my muddy shorts. Why not, I am covered in mud.

My pants also cake up and what was at first a slippery muddy mess has turned into a sticky paste and one lap after remounting after that damned tennis court my shorts catch the back of the saddle and I am stuck for a few seconds trying to get free so I can pedal again.

SOOOoooo I chase again and get really close to Garth and Quinlan again then I screw up the tennis court AGAIN, go left of the plastic sticks and get caught in the plastic. I chase again, but the muddy course starts to take its toll. The gap goes the other way and now they are out of sight.

I have an almost crap my pants moment on the big muddy descent when I almost cross up the front, I start to put the bike down, but somehow snag the bike upright and continue.

Like I said my legs are starting to get tired and as I get a lot better in some areas, others like the top of the gravel climb I slow down and in the old start finish area and the puddle before start finish its like quick sand. I am going so slow. I am sure this combined with the mistakes I made put Matt, Dan, Garth and at the end Rudy out of reach. Bummer. The last two times up the gravel climb I was spinning my rear tire at the top because I had lost so much momentum. I couldbt sprint hard enough off the bridge to be going fast enough at the top to just pop over.

I know I am over geared now by the level of pain in my lower back at the races second half. If Todd Field (Spin race) was a 9/10 in the pain-o-meter then today was a good 7.5. But I hammer out the last lap, catch some lapped guys and roll in for a 12th overall and 10th in the A. With Gerry and Rudy ahead and 1-2 in A Masters.
SO not a bad day and I honestly was looking forward to this one.

Call me nuts but I figure a cross season isnt a cross season without one mud fest. Last year we had three or four so we were overdue. But weve still got two more races left, but now I dont care if there sunny and 70 degrees. Thanks to the guys I battled with today for a fun race, to the guys who were the rabbits I chased so hard and especially to young Tony Marut for an awesome race today. Whatever he did Saturday night, I want in on that action.

And oh my yes-I am SO KIDDING about that Lynne and Bill!!! ha ha!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fun loves Company

Been training pretty consistently, but not all that hard. Basically I am keeping my weight down and starting to work on weaknesses without getting too serious or too intense. Run a few times, trainer on the TT bike two times and then a bit of mountain, cross or road biking. As often as possible with others, but sometimes by myself.

Last week I did run almost 18 miles and this week I am already at 12. If you had asked me last year if I would be running 10k's at 5 to 6am like they were nothing I would have said something like "are you flippin' out of your gourd?". My weight is consistently down even with an enormous bowl of Halloween Candy that we (Stacie, Audrey, myself and others (Thom)) devoured. I dont dare add up the calories and grams of HFCS and Hydrogenated oils I ingested.

I am treating the running like the cross or time trialing and mountain biking if you can believe that. As I run I work on cadence, landing on my heel as softly as I can and lifting my foot as quickly as I can. I keep my arms in tight and moving forward not out to the sides. Keep that momentum going forward where it helps. Basically if I am going to run I want to run right and I want to be able to do it fast if need be (like a 5k or part of a Du or Biathlon). I have also learned that just like bike racing I cannot sprint worth a darn.

And me being basically a pack type animal I like to do these things with others. One of my dogs makes a great running partner now that shes old enough and its cold outside. Oh to be able to run like a dog (a Spaniel/Collie mix no less). I think those POS pro athletes hitting the CERA and HGH and EPO should just do a little Spaniel/Collie DNA splicing!! Endless energy and a sprint to beat all. The only odd side effect I suppose would be a craving for squirrel and doggy biscuits at the end of every bike race. But i could use that. Picture a squirrel standing just past the finish line taunting me with a piece of bacon in its mouth. Want it? Come and get it boy..... AROOOOOO!!!!

But as usual I digress. And who would think that I would be running at 6am with not the "boys" but two moms from the elementary school my daughter goes to? Not me. Its actually fun to get to talk school and life outside of bike racing (though one of the mom's I helped to buy a new Triathlon bike this summer). So we still talk bikes, but mostly school and what our kids do. I really enjoy it and am thinking about taking up knitting next.

Ive had to run alone too and that hasnt been too miserable. But it hasnt been fun either. But I have a lot on my mind these days and its good to zone out a bit and try and sort out all my ideas and thoughts and dreams and goals for the upcoming racing season and in life too. There are never shortages of voices in my I should put that another way?

Heres one thats presented a bit of a dilemma for me. Its sort of a question right now. Would you do something that would require a lot of effort and sacrifice because you thought you might be good at it, not necessarily because you wanted to do it or loved to do it? Does the end justify the means? Is that how that saying goes? I always screw up the sayings. Here is what has been eating at me a little bit. You know between worrying about FTP, my dsimount and remount, weight or something silly like making and saving enough money to send Audrey to college? YOu know it will cost nearly a Trillion dollars per year by the time shes 18. OH, I digress again (or does this post have any purpose at all?).

Should I start training to do a Triathlon? Simple question, but anything but a simple answer. I think in the end I will do one someday as a challenge to myself, but I really LOVE to race my bike against others. And by that I dont just mean pedaling the bike fast. I mean the strategy, the team work and the dynamics of road racing is something that I really, truly love. Yes I time trial too, but I dont just time trial. This is the complete opposite of my thoughts about racing mountain bikes where I would expect to be awful and just do it for fun. I feel like doing Triathlons is only because I might be decent at it. I am not sure at any point (except maybe the bike) that I would think i was having fun. Weird huh?

And finally last night WE went mountain biking. The trails are almost undetectable under the leaves. But with Chris there leading the way and unlocking some mysteries to me about where certain turns are I finally found some of the paths that I kept missing the last two weeks.

And like running, mountain biking is another sport that is more enjoyable with others. Sure you can have fun and go at your own pace and redo sections or obstacles till your satisfied with yourself, but when you fall and land on a small tree, hear it crack and it breaks and you fall again, pell mell down the side of a hill, isnt it better to know your buddy got to see it and laugh about it later? I think so.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

She rocks!!

Audrey had her 2nd Dry Land Camp with her Cross Country ski racing team the Hilltoppers today. Shes a 2nd year, but still beginner skier and 6 years old.

They did a relay running race from Stanford House/hostel into the trails and back. Uphill 1/8 mile to a cone half way up a hill and back. They did a warm-up lap then she did two full laps by herself as part of a relay team!! The coaches said she could run halfway to the bridge and she said "I am going all the way to the cone".

I wasnt there for that, but as I stood at the halfway point cheering the kids on I got to see her running all out for the cone and then walk a bit then sprint back out of sight. Then later I saw her coming for a 2nd lap. What a trooper.

This filled me with a feeling of joy and amazement at what a little athlete she is, but also a bit of anger or something.

Not anger, but that, "hey, she never wants to run with me" sort of jealousy. But that's the way with kids or at least my kid. She listens to a complete stranger like a coach or instructor and picks up things quickly, but if I try and teach her (with patience, etc.) or am too close when shes learning, oh boy!!

So I decided this year to help the coach who is helping the youngest skiers as Audrey has moved up one level. Its gonna be tough to miss her doing her thing, but I know she'll do things better without me there. That is not easy to take or deal with, but I guess I'll just have to spy on her!! You parents know what I am talking about.

She also inline skated for the first time today. She picked it up well for never having tried it before but at first wanted to stay on my and mom's arm. But as soon as the instructor got down to business she paid attention and picked it right up. You could see the change in her as she went form Mommy and Daddy dont let go to, ok, how do I do this? Of course when she got tired she spent a lot of time on her butt.

Well I better stop glowing about my daughter as no one likes people who brag so I'll sign off now. But I got to say, that little munchkin may be a short little thing, but shes big and tall on gusto.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I was rockin the single track today. Hopping logs uphill with ease, more momentum everywhere and clearing more of the short steep climbs and hitting all the descents with confidence. Had two little falls when my rear slid out on hidden rocks and roots. Hidden under a massive amount of leaves.

I think the leaves covering up the trails has made me faster. I dont see as much stuff that would normally make me tentative and slow down. The bikes made to clear most of the stuff I worry about, DUH, full suspension!! But when it covers a root or a flat slippery rock I guess thats bad.

One fall was at about 1mph and what is under my left arm as I teeter over? a big flat rock. Ouch-right on the elbow and the other fall dinged my fingers as I almost hit a tree. I put my arm out to deflect myself and jammed my finger. A root was to blame this time as I went around a sharp curve. So two ouches. Whats new?

Then as I was almost finished with the singletrack and about to call it a day and ride home I catch another twig and pop-off comes my rear derailleur....again!! Is this why people ride single speeds?

And for some reason the bike was shifting terrible before that (after shifting so well the past few rides) so this is a good excuse to maybe replace that rear derailleur cable.

Legs felt good too though I really tried ot take it easy. Ran 5 miles Monday, 6.2 miles Wednesday morning (at 6am) and two TT bike workouts. I started a new exercise routine that also has made some muscles I didnt know I had hurt!! But its a fun routine and I can see how it will help me in daily life (strength) and cycling. Tomorrow I have to decide if I want to do another 6mile run at 5:20am!! Yes-you read that right, 5:20!!

So two hangers in a handful of rides!! Annoying.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Sponsor for Team Columbus

What well be drinking in 2009. FULL energy add-not to be listened to at work or with small impressionable kids around.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What a snob!!

Forget it!! I'll never be able to build the "perfect" commuter bike. I think I am just too much of a snooty booty to ride anything less than a racing bike.

I keep having that vision of a slightly rusted old Rockhopper or old touring bike, big fat cushy tires with 6 layers of aramid fibers for the ultimate in flat protection. The bike that is left outside at night or locked to the fence outside of the Lizard at night in the rain or at Whole Foods for a quick shopping trip. Faded thread bare panniers with reflective piping, rack and dare I say it a big fat saddle bag under the seat and a chain guard. A bike with that weathered patina, like an old 35mm camera with the black rubbed off the corners and the brass or aluminum showing through.

I think the problem is a lot deeper than I am willing to admit. This whole "buy a cheap bike, put permanent fenders and lights on it and ride it every day to work" is one big fat cop-out for the real reason I dont commute.

Wanna know what it really is?? Its really amazingly simple. I own a perfectly good car (ok, 5000lb gas guzzling, 260hp V6 minivan). There I said it. But boy oh boy does it make a great rig to go to races in!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kirtland Park A Race

For the first time all year I could warm-up on my SS bike instead of my geared bike. I knew I was probably undergeared, but decided to race the SS anyways. I only own one freewheel so the bike was geared the same as usual. Warm-up went fine till I fell on the off-camber by the service garage. I had already made it a few times before the B race so I went and rerode it a couple times. The line had changed and I found one that allowed me to get up it, if not almost at a standstill!!

This time I got a front row start and the field of 29 was pretty stacked with Gary Pflug returning (winner of Spin's race) and some other fast young guys. I didnt have a bad start actually, but by the time we got to the 180 at the end, I was really far back. I was spun out on my gear so I couldnt have gone any quicker. Cameron took the banzai line to the inside, which I should have done too given my poor position again. It really worked for him.

This is the course with the stadium section and a series of 3 off camber, pretty steep 180's. Number one goal was not to stack it up in the 180's. I was so so in there, but clean every lap, but once.

First couple laps I am in a nose to tail battle with Spin's Jason Halloran and Jeff Craft and hes stuck to me like glue, even showing his nose here and there. And I am stuck to Craft! We hit the off camber on the west end of the course and Jeff baubles and Jason and I get a gap. The next lap before i figure out my best line I bobble and need to take a step and this works out worse for Jason and Ive now gapped him. I felt bad about my mistake dropping Jason.

What I learned after that lap was when I came up to the turn I needed to run my pedals like in a corner with one pedal up, one down (outside) and as soon as I got to the point where I was past the chewed up grass I had to stand up and put that top pedal down hard in one movement to jump me back up to speed as I ran wide and made the corner as shallow as possible. This would never have worked in the wet!!

Again I was undergeared so I went super hard out of the corners and even harder up the run-ups. I gave those everything I had. I also figured that I didnt have the top end, but the sooner I hit my top end I was making the best of my situation. So I sprinted hard out of the corners anytime I knew I was going to spin out my gear. This helped later as I'll explain shortly.

I was in a battle the whole race. Looking back and looking ahead I had the fast young guy who flatted in a top spot at Spin and Tony, then ahead of them was Rudy and Cameron having a great race. The gap to Tony and the other guy (sorry-I dont know his name) wavered a lot, but the gap to Rudy and Cameron never changed more than 1 or 2 seconds I bet the entire race!! So although we never battled it out closely I would say I raced Rudy, Cameron, Tony, etc. the whole race.

Like at Chagrin the previous day I worked on being more perfect every lap. Faster and faster through the corners, quicker in the stadium, baseball field, off camber. And really worked on getting in my pedals at the top of the all the sets of stairs. I could really feel my speed increase in all areas too. All except the really steep 180!! That thing has my number! I know in my mind I can let go of the brakes once I am pointed in the right direction at the top, but I wont do it.

Near the end Tony got tired from the ballistic pace and as I started to catch him I got to see his lines (that kids got style and speed) and my speed in the "playground" with all of the turns went up dramatically for the last 2 laps, which also ended up helping me.

And who do you think is coming late in the race? Thom and Jason have hooked up and they are eating into me as I too get faster. Again its race on!! But unlike Chagrin where I was both physically and mentally exhausted I felt fast and had a clear head at the end of the race so it was going to be good.

Thom's pace finally dropped Jason, but Jason really rode strong again today. Thom closed down big gaps three times late. This was serious fun, but what a hectic last lap!! I actually told myself with 3 to go that I needed to be perfect everywhere doing everything so that's what I aspired to. I really concentrated. Doing things like nto taking turn in points for granted or making sure my speed entring corners wasnt to fast or slow and geting off the brakes as soon as possible in the 180's.

On the bell lap I go past start finish already spun out, but trying to spin even higher. Thom told me he put in a big effort and almost caught me at the tree, but I rounded the tree pretty well and put in a huge acceleration going back the other way which took Thom by surprise and the gap opened up again. I go like heck to the west steps just bombing the little drop off up in the trees. All of this is killing me, but I have to do it.

I am still trying my best in the run-ups, but Thom catches me again, but I remount quicker and accelerate well off the top of the west steps by getting right into both Eggbeaters to the baseball field. I am catching some lapped guys and they stumble in the off camber and I lose some time. But not much. So now I have to dig really deep around the outfield. I sprint three times to get through the field and another short burst by registration and cleanly hit the first 180 in the stadium.

In the stadium I screw up on the steepest 180 for the first time and almost go down the hill, but I save it with a toe tap and continue down the last 180 fine then around the trees into the amphitheater and I can hear Thom's catching me again by the crowd yelling. Up the east run up with a gap, but I can hear him breathing at the top and see him alsmot next to me!! Gap gone again to Thom on a run-up!! But I gap him on the remount and down the hill.

I know hitting the finish straight in a two up race is Thom's so I again try to max out the playground turns. But I need to take chances of the front slipping out, but do them clean, no bobbles!! I have my best lap through there and come out with a gap and sprint it for the line for 11th overall and 9th in the A's!!! Gary and Rudy were ahead in Masters.

So maybe not my best race of the year in terms of position, but who's complaining!?!?! Not me-I love being in the thick of the battles in the Lake Effect races this year. And this was one of the best battles Ive had in a race period. Maybe even better than the one with Jeff and Rudy at Spin where again we hammered each other into a pulp or last year against Zak at Orrville.

But I loved today's race from many standpoints. I made some little decisions due to my gearing that I think paid off. I had to ride clean and unlike at Spin where I crashed myself out of an 8th out of 48 trying too hard I kept it together today. Crash free in fact!!

Wow, what a weekend and what a pair of races. I had no idea how my legs and back would be after Saturday's abuse, but dinner of made from scratch oatmeal, buttermilk pancakes and smores sitting by a fire late into the evening at a friend's house Saturday night must have been the perfect recovery regimen.

Chagrin River Cyclocross

Saturday was day one of a two race weekend. It was the race. I was again aboard my SS Dieringer and was a bit worried about the gearing. As usual I felt like it was over geared so it was going to be a hard race for me with all of the corners and singletrack.

Warming up I almost dropped my bike going around the right hander after the start finish line. It was getting soft and muddy so that was on my mind. Miraculously as the front wheel washed out I yanked the bike back up to vertical and kept going. You can only do that when your not tired-that I am sure of.

I got a 2nd row start and hoped for some of the magic from the Spin race. But alas as we took off (20 or 30 sec ahead of the A Masters) I just didnt get going and was about mid pack as we headed for the first dismount at the log. I had a plan in mind for the muddy little climb up to the road and it worked and I picked up a position. As we headed through he first lap I was behind Greg Jackson, Steiner, Tony Marut, Brent Evans among others and they were behind the lead group of Paul Martin, Ernesto, Shawn Adams and Twining. I tried to get Brent with an acceleration by the road, but he beat me to the corner and I tucked in behind for the gravel road till we cleared the RV turn and jumped again.

I caught Tony I think on the 2nd lap and again had to put myself seriously in the hurt locker to accelerate by. I was correct that I was over geared as well. I never once got on top of the gear. But technically I seemed to be riding better and better with each lap so that was helping. The less mistakes I can make the less I have to dig super deep to make up time.

On the 3rd lap going into the open turning section through the grass I realized I was barely 20 or 30 sec behind Ernesto and a further 20 behind Paul. THis was awesome to see and I tried to dig deeper in the open sections to close it down, but in the next three laps I had a quick fall (when I didnt come out of the pedal at the log) and the over gearing was taking its toll. The gap went the other way of good after briefly going my way.

But the race was far from over because watching the gap behind sometimes it seemed that Brent and Tony were coming back to me. As well as the A Masters, but they were too far back still to worry about. But what it meant was I was getting really tired.

I work on my speed in the corners, all of them!! Bit by bit I brake less and shorter and I try and use body english to keep corner speed up and grip on the sidewalls. IN the grass, in the mud, the off camber. Things Ive read from Ned Overand and other racers advice. But one lap rounding a tree (before entering the muddy singletrack) I go banzai and almost do a Witch on a broomstick and go face first into a tree pushing wide on the exit!! OK, so faster yes, but smack a tree head one??? Maybe brake a bit more next lap. I missed that tree with a jerk to the right by centimeters.

Then in typical fashion I see Thom Domonic starting to do his late race charge. Hes passed Tony and Brent and dropped them and is now catching me. I see him dangerously close as I head through the open turny section. We say Hi to each other as we pass and the race is on. And as he gets closer the signs at start finish read 3 to go and at 2 to go hes within 20 to 30 seconds or so at that same spot. The gap is pretty constant. Enough to get me to the line, but I go as hard as I can when I can. Then the turn before the mud bog I fall.

One of those silly little exhaustion falls. I dont know what happened and I can barely even remember it. But I get up, finish the single track, sprint for the line and no bell lap, race is done!! Not more than 20 seconds later is Thom!! Its quite possible had we done one more lap he would have caught me. I was really running on empty by the end with a screaming lower back and legs that felt like they had ridden a 100 miles of hills into a headwind!!

But he said after he passed everyone and had me next he said he knew I'd really dig deep to keep him behind and I did. He to noticed out gap stabilized a bit once I saw him coming. This was by far my strongest cyclocross race and I got 6th. The keg of beer was a welcome sight post race and I must admit to thinking longingly about a beer with a few laps to go!! Luckily Thom kept me honest and running hard. IT was just about suffering that afternoon. Pure and simple trying my best to ignore the pain.

A great event and very well run indeed. I had a blast and loved the course. I wish I had dialed in that start though because I burned a lot of energy trying to jump ALL of those guys and close gaps one at a time the first two laps. But I'll say looking up 2 or 3 laps into a race and seeing Paul and Ernesto as my next two riders was quite a....I dont know what word is best? It was cool!! Let me just put it that way.

Kirtland Park C Race Photos

Pictures are up on my Flickr of the C race. Thats all I took today. I had great races Saturday and Sunday and cannot wait to blog. Hopefully get s start on them tonight. Enjoy the pics.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gear 10/19/2008

I am a big fat gearhead. I love cool stuff and always have. I'm not talking just about bikes, but for this place....bikes it is!! I thought I'd share the cool things I see on the web. I also thought I'd post up links to those for sale items I see that seem like real bargains or unique buys.

Please stop back to this weekly. One post per week, updated all week long. I may not always update these things, but when Ive seen some cool things I'll post new.

Here's a sweet looking track bike from Winter cycles. Functional or stiff or just eye candy You decide.

As some of you know I am trying my darnedest to get my own line of electric bicycles to sell. At one end are the el cheapo ones on Amazon and on the other is this state of the art bike from Schwinn in collaboration with Toshiba.

I'll be somewhere in the middle, but quality is number one.

Group buy on BB30 alloy frame for $400? YOu betcha!!! But heres an idea for you all to consider. What if an American company went to American frame builders and said, here an order for X number frames. What can we do for this amount of money? I dont have a problem with products made overseas. Heck I buy them all the time and so does everyone else. Underwear to cars, its a fact of life. But how cool would it be if I gave some work to those US based bike builders instead? Thats my other project. Small batch US made frames. Steel and Ti cross bikes probably at first, then move to road and mountain bikes come spring.

Heres an example of what I am talking about. This UK based company buying frames made in the US and selling them at a great price. Sure no custom geometry, maybe a bit less tube manipulation and internal butting, but that saves money for us off the shelf bike guys.

I am mountain bike crazy!! I want to ride all the time. I'd love to try a 29er too, but Kirk Pacenti has introduced his 27.5" wheel size amidst the final acceptance of 29ers (and the established 26" wheel). The 650B as its called has had rave reviews from magazines, blogs and the boutique brands have started to make frames while the mainstream tire and wheel manufacturers are very quickly warming up to it as well.

In a nutshell, whats all the hub bub about? Well a 29er presents geometry and fit headaches to builders when trying to fit these large wheels (almost identical to a road 700c) to 16" and smaller frames (like women specific). Niner has 29 inch wheels pretty well dialed though. When you talk full suspension and 4" to 6" travel bikes that are all the rage (called trail and all mountain bikes) now 29ers present new issues. The bikes are usually restricted to 80mm of travel. Some say for 29er wheels that's enough. Some like full suspension or demand it for the style they ride.

Here's the deal, 29ers are superb over really rough terrain. They roll over things that 26" wheels get stopped by. Or require much more finesse by the rider to get over repeatedly. I have heard stories from a couple local riders who say they clear sections at Vultures knob, etc, that they never could on a 26" wheel bike after years of trying. First time on a 29er-done!!

650B wheels are 1.5" taller than a 26" and 1.5" smaller than a 29", but require virtually no modification on the part of the frame builders (and shock and fork manufacturers) to incorporate. Though Kirk does not recommend this nor do some brands of forks, but you can actually fit 650B wheels on many current frame/fork combos to try them out. WHAT does that mean? To ME this means you can build a 650B wheel bike for people who are 5'8" and shorter without the 29er issues. You can also build a big hit bike with loads of suspension travel. Now WHY would you do this? Very simple, a 650B wheel rolls over obstacles very much like a 29er the magazines and initial users say. But the bikes, rigid to big hit full suspension are almost standard geometry and the wheels are lighter than 29er wheels too. I for one like the idea, but like the 29er when it first came on the stage, its a hard sell to the real guys and gals who have been pounding it out on the single track for years or decades.

I'll let you make up your mind. btw-I'd love to have some 650b bikes made in smaller sizes and women specific to prove my theory. Maybe put one under an emerging or top female mountain bike racer and see how it does. Look at what Katie Compton did for Primus Mootry!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

More misc ramblings

Yup-its Monday and hitting the deck HARD Saturday has its lingering effects. But thinking back I have to put something away in the data banks!! How could I have not crashed the first time up the hill? Well believe it or not I actually practice stopping and lifting my rear wheel and placing it to the side. My goal is to have the control to ride, stop, lift my rear wheel and rotate 90 degrees and start riding. Then once that is mastered, move to 180 degree spin. I am at about 5 degrees so far...haha...okay maybe 15 degrees on a good day.

So I could have hopped my rear wheel possibly so my foot cleared the stick then rolled down the hill. Hopefully its committed to memory now.

Its probably no surprise I am always looking for a great deal on trick bike supplies. I am a bit of a weight weenie (except not a very well funded one) as you all know. Searching the swap and sells is much easier and a lot less hassle than ebay so I try to be diligent and check often.

I usually see what I want mid day and find out its already sold or realize I hadnt checked in a day or two and same thing. Back on page 3 or 4 is a deal of the century on something I need. But today sitting on top of page 1 was a new add for a 10 speed DA cassette and the DA chain (both new when started and lightly used together) for $75 shipped. That my friends is what I am talking about!! Now I have a dedicated 11-23 cassette for my disc wheel and can LEAVE this 11-23DA cassette on my best road race wheel. I PM'd the guy, he sent a Paypal invoice and even said Congrats!! yeah-he knew this wasnt going to last. Booyah!!

And last, what started out as a "building" year for cyclocross has started out as being better than I could have imagined. I started the year with no desire to race for position. Sure i am being naive to think I wouldn't race hard, but I really just wanted to get better. But now that the season has started I feel as engaged and focused on cross as my road racing. I am not training like I should due ot all these spills and schedule conflicts that keep me off the bike mid-week, but the racing seems to be keeping me in shape. But as one of my fav old sayings goes: "once the green flag drops, the bullshit stops".

I'm having a blast out there. I am anxiously anticipating when we hit the mud and singletrack, snow and ice how badly I will fade. If there's one thing I hate is training in wet AND cold. So going out to find mud to train on and gain valuable slip and slide skills is not happening. Got to get that experience in the races. I only want to clean my bike and shoes once a week!! What I am Trying to say is the weather is playing in my favor right now. But I will enjoy those nasty races in that sick kind of way too.

It was always a bit of a dream or "whats it like" for cross. Sort of like cross country skiing too. Always wanted to do them. Both have exceeded expectations. Sure makes a blah Cleveland Winter a lot more fun.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Spin Cyclocross Race

As I sit here in pain all over and a headache I am actually kind of happy. I had a great A race today at the Spin Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die race, no matter how you put it. I paid for it dearly in bruises. It all started in warm-up when I tried to dismount before the log in the parking lot and my left cleat did not release putting me to the ground right at the log. My front wheel hit first as I fell and the sudden stop of momentum sent my right knee hard into the bar or stem. That stiffened up all race day. Anytime I stopped and got moving it was hard to pedal at first.

I have been thinking about this race since last year when I had a good race (till the end when I crashed a few times due to exhaustion) and a lot since the Leroy CX race. I needed to get a great start and I did. I was in the top 7 I think as we headed for the first 180 hillclimb. I was on my single speed again.

When your on a SS the first lap in traffic is hard. One reason a SS is so fast is because you have to ride them balls to the walls. So when we hit the approach I gunned it up the hill and started to pass a Lake Effect rider on the left. But being so heavily overgeared I started to lose speed and as we hit the stick he cut tight to the stick cutting me off completely which left me to almost track stand for a second as he passed right in front of me. And once stopped there is NO way to get going so I hooked left and my left foot caught the stick, I went flipping down tangled in my bike and my great start was done. I was so dejected when I saw what seemed like the whole field going by. I mean I was like "F@#$@, Might as well quit".

I got passed by a couple guys in open fields which wasnt a good sign, but I got my head screwed on and started going the right way through the field. I caught single riders bit by bit and watched as Thom Domonic flew up the running hill like last year. Then I saw two LE riders riding nose to tail and finally caught them. One was Rudy and the other Craft. We battled for laps, back and forth wed go and gaps would open and close. I was riding the corners faster and faster but was slow out so I was not in a position to pounce on them till the end of the lap. My remounts really sucked today too, but I was quite quick after the bleachers and around the sweeper for some reason and through the baseball diamond.
looked like a wall when approaching it
Finally Jeff made mistake and had to tap a foot on the super steep wall of a climb and now I was between them. Strategically I knew this was my chance to get by and start opening it up. Now they would have to follow me slow out of the corners, then I would hopefully get on top of my gear and roll. I followed Rudy and made the pass going into the baseball diamond and tried to open the gap right away. I went hard because Thom, Zak, Hollaran had been closing the gap to us and I couldnt get Jeff or Rudy till they were split.
mudpit got nasty for the A race
I went hard down the hill before the first uphill 180, sprinted through the rocks and then the hay and then BAM I was on the ground. Front wheel washed out. I was going that hard because I was getting tired and I needed max momentum to make getting to the 180 easier. My right knee got trapped between the top tube and bars and again I got to watch rider after rider come by. At least I had already opened up a little gap and I had been going for it!! All out!!

This time when i got up I was going no where fast. Luckily with two to go I only lost one more position to Dan Quinlan. I didn't say before, but my left lower back was hurting anyways and combined with the hard body slam to the ground I pretty much was done. This time it wasnt mental. I was discharged, no batteries left.I rolled in at about 70% effort and called it a day. My family, bro and sister in law were there and I was bummed they didn't get to see me racing with Martin, Gamm, Ernesto and Matt Weeks if only for a couple laps early on. But I got the start I wanted, felt fine at the front and I was fast for awhile on my SS.

I got a bigger surprise at awards at The Willoughby Brewing company when the guys I was racing with were top 10!!! Congrats guys-I had a blast racing you all today. So I was about 7th when I went down on lap one and battled back to 8th or 9th when I hit the deck the 2nd time. Damn thats sweet!! I mean I am not trying to say I am proud of hitting the deck 3x times today just that I kept going after the first and clawed my way back to the top 9 at least (out of 30). I ended just out of the money with a 16 to 17th place finish to boot.

It was a tough day and because of the crashes I wont make Orville tomorrow and lost some points for the Lake Effect series. Bummer. I need to rest up now. Really sucks because I havent had a real solid week of riding in a long time. Always getting banged up. But I can see how the SS is helping my power and strength and the mountain biking my much needed technical skills. Its been tough, but overall the cyclocross racing has been going great. and if I can plug Zak's Dieringer SS, its been rock solid and I love it.

And a big thanks to Spin for another well run race, great purse for the A/Masters race and another amazing and exhausting course. Pics of the C race at my Flickr

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A little of this and that.....

Nothing really to report except I got in a great weekend of road rides. Went with different groups each day and got to do some hills at race pace. That's always fun. Saturday's 50 miles concluded with me doing a one up sprint across the bridge over I271 on Fairmont and hitting a PB for 5 sec power and a maybe my highest max watts since I weighed 22 or 23 lbs more in 2006. I think its the racing on the SS bike thats given me a bit more pop.

Ive also been staying true to my 09 TT goals and have now done 3 training rides on the TT bike on the trainer. I do them Wednesday morning and let me tell you, its a mental bitch to do the routine. But its the kind of workout that is gonna build muscles and bio mechanic (is that the right term Sean?)adaptations specific to my TT position.

Also I am soon going to be a 10!! Okay, my CSK cross bike is going 10 -speed, but not for any reason you might imagine. It starts because I have a few sets of winter wheels/cross wheels. Some are to be used on the cross bike, some on the Cannondale Six 13 while commuting or crappy weather and hopefully on the CSK cross bike for really shitty weather commuting. But my cross bike is 8 speed (which is more than enough mind you) and my six13 is 10 speed. Long story short, now all my wheels will have a 10 speed cassette on them. Easy!!

On a side note, the 09 Rival is a nice step forward with Zero loss tech and crisper, better shifting. So the new Carbon levers will find there way on the Six13 and the older Rival on the CSK cross bike. I already own a spare Rival rr der and 4 10-speed cassettes so it was an easy upgrade. The CSK will probably lose another 75 to 100 grams now too!! I guess if I needed to justify this more, the 15 year old 8-speed ultegra lever was getting crappier and crappier in shifting anyways (especially when its cold), is heavy and takes a different shifting method than Rival.

And last on Monday I went for a 2 hour mountain biking extravaganza!! This time I improved 10 fold more, but also crashed more and came home in my usual state of bloody, jammed finger (fat and purple) and the usual bruises. But it was a great ride and Chris took the time to hop off the bike and watch me descend a couple tricky, steep and loose descents or try and hop some logs and with his instructions I improved so much at both. I feel like bunny hopping something big RIGHT NOW!!

I'd go mountain biking again tomorrow, but Id like to not be bruised and beat up for this weekends Spin cyclocross race on Saturday and possibly the Orrville race Sunday.
Whoo hooo, already thinking about the start and that crazy steep and long hill. You know the one!!

So I have coined a new term for my training and that's Mountain Mondays.

Monday is usually a day off, but now its a day to play. To improve on technical riding, have a blast (scare myself silly) and laugh and sometimes curse at myself. And it is 5 or 6 days before my next race!! Hopefully plenty of time for those cuts to heal, jammed fingers to unjam and the bruises to be less bruisey!!

See you all Saturday!! More Cowbell man!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

No pain, yes gain.

Today's training was supposed to be a 30 minute run. I got home and hopped on my mountain bike instead, made sure the tires were nice and squishy in case the single track was wet (lots of rocks and roots) then headed for the first section (the harder possibly of the two). I found a few easy sections to warm up and then started to wonder where the good stuff was. I finally found the right spot to "drop in" and got rolling.

What a huge difference from the last time. Arms loose, feeling a lot less scared. sometimes steering the bike around tress and through tight climbing sections and ONE finger braking. Its amazing how much stuff is down there because though I rode some familiar stuff, there were parts I didnt even see that I recalled from last time or saw them form the corner of my eye.

Yeah I still unclipped, but this time only because I messed up, not because I decided no-way. Well I did once. Your on a narrow path with the ravine on your left then you go into a deep ditch with hand laid slabs of stone at the bottom and large rocks and a short, but steep climb back out and right into a narrow rocky ascent between trees. I started to walk it then I manned up. I went back 20' and rode it.

I mean I rode ditches for an hour Sunday, this is just a ditch with scary rocks everwhere!! I almost made it out too, but I just had to tap a foot and I was on my way. And the very next section was more super narrow (like the E&C trail where ti winds down the side of the ravine)) path with a drop off on one side. Last time I walked it, but this time with Josh's words ringing in my ear I kept going and cleared that too. He said the key to this is to just keep pedaling!! Boy did a stiffen up my arms a few brief moments and almost stiff armed myself down the ravine.

That stiff arms thing happened a lot less today. Chris said you just have to ride it a few more times. Way less braking, way less bailing...ahhhh...very nice.

After returning home and swapping a bike jersey for a running top I took my dog for a short run and enjoyed the new Halloween decorations popping up in neighbors yards all over Cleveland Heights and University Heights. I ate dinner and still something was bugging me, something about tonight was different....

Then it hit me, I just came home from my first mountain bike ride without getting cut, bashing a shin or knee or hitting the deck or sore hands from death gripping the brakes and bars. In fact I dont feel any different now than before I left and that I got to tell you is a super nice way to feel!! Finally!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Berkshire Challenge. Get with it!!

Hey all,

Remember my post about the unofficial Berkshire Challenge?

Well theirs still time to post a time and get it to me. Nothing on the line but a post for posterity sake. Maybe next year you'll beat it.

I STILL want to have an outlaw TT up a local climb. I had timers and unofficial officials who kindly volunteered, but I dragged my feet and thats all it takes for the weeks to fly by.

I will make it a priority next year to find a date and a wicked little climb for a show up and race and keep on riding Hillclimb!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Leroy Center CX race-getting better!!

Who was that timid guy warming up Sunday for the Leroy Center Cyclo cross race? Who was scared to try to ride the ditches? On first try he stopped cold in the mud and the next try endoed bashing his shins and hurting his left hand? The same guy who freaked out on the mound of hard dirt and concrete and stone chunks and unclipped?

That guy would be me! But once the race started I hit the mound and cleared it slowly, but without problems and when I approached the first of the deep and steep ditches which was the marque section of this new CX course I was full of confidence and i cleared one and two every lap without a hint of problems. Dismounted quickly for 3 (and rode it a few times)and rode through 4 and 5. A lot of guys and gals who were riding (not running) the ditches would swing out into the road for more momentum, but I found I could just come up, do a 180 and drop right back in and up saving a lot of time. That timid pre-race guy has got to get his act together.

The race start was busy with just a quick dogleg and 180 before the barriers and a field of 21 A racers. All the usual suspects were there too. I got into the top half of the field and then laid back. I didnt get in front of some fast guys because I honestly didnt want to crash in front of them or ride the techie bits slow. The funny thing is some of those guys have crashed right in front of me before holding me up so I dont know why I always feel so obliged to not want to ruin anyones race or slow anyone down. Especially since I can race pretty clean, if not a bit slow in the techie bits. I mean really, thats part of racing and after a lap or two-I am not in that zone anymore.

I think on lap 2 I had cleared the ditches cleanly and I am slow, but able to negotiate the mound so I finally open it up and when i do I go past at least 4 guys I was racing with in between two corners with a hard sprint and I am off. My best section was coming out of the ditch section after the gravel road. I could really drill that section past the ball fields and around to the start finish line. I was on my single speed again and I must admit it was hard accelerating in the grass all day on it. That was a surprise because the ditch section was hard on my legs with the SS.
Leroy Ctr CXTP photo, Plank and I dueling
I put time into the group with steady pressure and was looking for the next rider and I see Mike Plank of Spin. It takes me a few laps to close down the gap and I really push through the fields and I finally get him, but he is staying close. Those laps were probably a lot faster than the rest because I realized I had really closed down the gap on Rudy and Tony Marut too. They were having a nice tight battle as well. As I entered the mound they were just exiting.

But the effort to catch and keep putting time into Mike in all of the open fields at full HP started to take there toll. I kept an eye on Mike behind and an ear on Lynn counting down the laps. 4, 3 and finally 2 to go. On 2 to go I saw that Rudy had put time into Tony and they had both pulled out more time on me as I entered the mound they were now gone.

During the race I was thinking not only about being clean and riding better and better lines in the technical and curvy sections and getting the weight just right for the ditches I also thought about Julie's blog post about the pre-hop while remounting. Well, I'll be damned, I hop not once, but sometimes twice before remounting my bike wasting time and energy.

So I worked on that and as long as I cleared the barrier or ditch clean and set my bike down without a bounce I did the superman jump, got my inner right thigh and was clipped in and back to cranking on those Dure ace cranks in a flash. Why do I think about this stuff mid-race? Heck if I know. Maybe it helps a tiny bit to forget about the pain. Sometimes out of a ditch or barrier I took one step, set bike down, jump and clip in!! Very, very, very fun and rewarding, but still needs work. Did anyone see that?? Nope, not a soul in sight. But that was whicked, ok, back to pushing that gear.

I completed the last lap, back hurting again, but not as bad as last week and rolled in 7th!! I am very happy with that considering my first two laps. I think I could have gone with Rudy and Tony had I been on their wheels at the start. I know my first lap is one of many weaknesses, but like all things I am working on them slowly but surely. I do want to be as good as I can be at cross. I definitely think I made some headway in bike handling Sunday and that's great for me. Dismounts and slippery and/or slow cornering are gonna take a lot more work.
pic by Todd Palmer
Now I have one question for the top 6 guys! How come Dave Steiner and I were covered from head to toe in mud and 1/4" thick layer on both shins while all you guys were clean with a powdering of dirt (on body and bikes)? Well later I saw pictures and at least Rudy was smart enough to ride around the middle of the dirt puddles. I rode around them in warm-up, but told myself at race time, straight through the middle and go fast. Well, it seems that going around was probably faster. Not only did you not bog down as much, but you didnt carry an extra 1 or 2 lbs of mud on your body and bike!! and mus loves grass so now youve got mud and grass collecting in your brakes and sidewalls too
Notice the mud on shins, TP pic
The harsh reality of cross also set in with a lengthy hosing off of both bikes, hitting the mud encrusted shoes with a bristle brush and drying in the dryer. And the muddy kit? well lets just say Oxy clean is Da Bomb baby!! But still I wrote CX on the labels in the shorts and bibs. These ones are now broken in and ready for a full cross season.

That was fun and thanks for all the hard work put on by the promoter and staff.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wendy Park Cross A-Race

Its Monday and I am SO SORE today. I feel it in my lower back and left knee, but sore everywhere. I thought all that running and some mountain biking (and crashing) would have saved me this day's discomfort!

SO I am torn on how to blog about this seasons cyclo cross. I could do full out race reports, just do the high and low lights or ??? I guess I'll just start typing and see what happens.

Wendy Park I am told is a landfill park. It has some elevation change and some odd bumps which Lake Effect used to great effect for off camber obstacles. I congratulate them on making a first race course that was fun and challenging enough to make you pucker a bit at times. but not so tough that newbies would be afraid to come out again. Read Gary's blog for a good description.

I lined up in the 2nd row for the A's on my Dieringer Single Speed. I got some looks for it with guys wondering if I was nuts. But i think running a SS on most courses this year will allow me to be a stronger time trialist next summer, but mainly to allow me to concentrate solely on one thing, bike handling skills. Not worrying about what gear to be in or bad shifting problems when the ice starts to form on our spokes and fill our multi-speed drivetrains. I guess you could say I am trying to get cyclocross down to its barest elements which are going as hard as you can for an hour and getting through the technical bits cleanly and hopefully quickly.

I always start a bit slowly in cross. It takes me a few laps to figure out how fast I can go and not fall or to start taking elements quicker or sometimes slower. Or to just get off the brakes entirely and let sections flow. I was having issues in warm-up with toe overlap in the 180 downhills, but by race team I figured out to ride them with my toe a bit down and turned in. Problem solved.

The single speed really makes you look at the course in a different way. You have to maximize your advantage where you can. But I realized that I was actually quiet fast on it in some sections. A lot of sections actually. For example on the gravel at start finish and believe it or not up all of the short climbs and out of corners, even though my cadence would drop I was still strong and could make up the time I lost in other sections.

But I lost most of my time with the tailwind on the road section and up the climb after the big tall concrete curb. Had I been able to hop it like Greg Jackson and Ernesto I could have ridden up it, but one tiny mistake and I would have had to hop off mid way up losing gobs of time. A 42/17 was rideable, but only with both feet clipped in already and some forward momentum. So I had to run, which wasnt that much slower. What was slower was hopping back on at the top and starting in that 42/17 still going up!!

One thing I learned last year, my first try at cross is to know your limitations and then dont try and do things your not capable of. Lost time in cross race is so hard to make up, especially at the sharper end of the field against strong guys. My point being was that I can hop a curb like that maybe 1 in every 5 tries, but I know I cannot do it in a race with pressure on even once so I had to commit to running up that hill as hard as I could 8 times and NOT try to jump back on and ride up it.

The race got interesting with two to go when I was following Rudy who was way out ahead of the A-Masters. I was hoping to learn some new lines and looking back I had a big gap on Thom behind and was falling pretty far behind Matt Weeks. But all of a sudden I hear someone and its Thom. We hit the downhill and I botch the right hander onto the gravel and hes right on me now and as we head around the grass to the asphalt hes right there. We sprint down the boardwalk and he eventually blows by and goes after Rudy and passes him too.

He nails the hill this lap and the whole lap we are close. I have to chase really hard through the grass and after the beach. I catch him and pass him after the beach and we run through the railroad ties almost side by side. We hit the bell lap and my back is screaming in pain probably from pushing that big gear on the SS hard in slow sections and the bumpiness of this course. But i can ignore the pain out of the corners in the fast sections. Its in the serpentine sections through the trees that it really hurts.

Again I am slow through the right hander at the bottom of the hill and I lose time to Thom, but I nail the corners before the asphalt (which is so much fun to come fying off the gravel and then lean it hard through grassy corners). Thom knows he has to be fast here so he pulls away on the asphalt and again he nails the hill by getting right back on his bike afte r jumping the curb (he told me later). I late brake and fly over the curb almost falling forward and run up HARD and this time I run about 10' more to get on flatter ground and I am off in pursuit.

Thom told me after wards he knew where I was stronger, but he had the gap from the boardwalk and hill so he knew all he had to do was go harder where he knew I was faster to maintain the gap. I got a good run through the beach and up and around the picnic tables but Thom was flying too. One last time through the railroad ties and around to the last few corners. Rear slides out hardcore on the gravel road, but I just keep hammering and around the fun sweeper down to the finish straight and Thom takes 6th and I take 7th 5 seconds later.

I ride off to the pits and when I get there I put down my bike and lay down on my back, knees up. What a hard race!! I stay there awhile hoping the back spasms will stop. But a top 10 in the A's with a SS!! The bike handled great and the gearing really couldnt have been better. During the race I heard a guy yelling encouragement then he sees its a SS and goes nuts!! One tactical error in not going harder for two laps near the end and letting Thom back in the fight, but otherwise a great race. You can never let your guard down on Thom because at the end of the race he will find a way to beat you.

Thanks to to the guys with cowbells and the spectators yelling for everyone. Got to love cross for the amazing support we give each other.

And thanks again to the Lake Effect crew for all the hard work and for setting up such an amazing course Sunday.