Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nordic Flurry race report

I have been meaning to post about the build up and race for some time.Its getting a bit old, but here goes! Click on photos for full size.

A week before the Nordic Flurry I found some new Fischer SCS Racing Classic skis on ebay for only $99.00. I had some used bindings so I set about putting the bindings on at work with a t-square, drill press and a numbered bit. For not having a jig and a first time I think it went well.

They are waxable and since I didn't own any kick waxes yet I was always bumming wax from everyone and never putting on enough. And I had one week or 2 sessions to get up to speed on Classic skis. That meant improve my kick and learn to double pole. The Wednesday before the race Bob Schneider and I went to Chapin and I worked on kick and double poling (DP) and made huge improvements (thanks to Youtube and asking racers for advice).

I tore my mcl in PA last winter double poling and it was because I was doing it all wrong. So you say how can you fall double poling? Well if you raise up too straight and basically throw your upper body weight and head up you can fall. OK, I can fall which I did often. At the end of the session I was flying (by my standards) across the flats DP so i was happy and went home. I found my center of gravity is the best way to describe it and could really pull hard with my poles and unweight my skis for a nice acceleration.

The topic in emails Thursday was the warm-up Friday and boy did it wreak havoc on Chapin's trails. Race day came and the tracks were ice and the paths were solid packed with no powder and it was cold (teens). Coach Tom and Coach Jim went out an different waxes as did I and climbing was almost impossible. Like skating in an ice rink with a hill. Descending was wild too. Fast, but scary or fun and scary. Both descriptions work for me.

It was determined that a special Klister was required and Bob and I went to applying it on my skis, but in the rush to get the Hilltopper Track Attack racers to the start line (Sameer, Gautum, Lauren, Erin and Jenn) and the difficulty of spreading cold Klister on cold skis we applied probably less than a 1/3rd the coverage that was required. I didnt know it at the time.

We line up and Rudy Sroka is next to me and were shivering as we chat. I remark about the low points of Cyclo-cross dress (not enough to stand around). Finally the race starts and I am a bit slow and I play head games already.I know I can dbl pole faster, but I dont because I am afraid of falling in front of everyone. But I get a decent start and follow Olga, Coach Jim and Rudy after they pass me to the first hill on Ruffled Grouse.

In my inexperience I dont realize that in these icy conditions its all about DP, but I watch Olga, Rudy and Jim and they dont quit DP so I keep alternating between kicking and DP to the hill. My wimpy cyclist arms dont propel me too fast too if I don't use my legs and core to help.
photo kellyM
Once to the hill that whole bunch leaves me in the dust. I am slipping so badly that I end up slowing to a crawl to herringbone up the initial steep curves. I catch up to Jim and another racer mid-way and find I can go quicker in the tracks and I repass Jim and then we climb the very steep little hill up to Arbor Lane and up arbor lane.
photo KellyM
when I top out around the bend Rudy and Olga are nowhere in sight and its pretty quiet behind so I just try and get in a rhythm. I am not even to the right turn to start the loop and Michael Schaeffer and another skier are descending back to the Arbor Lane hill right at me!! Holy Klister and skill batman!!
photo KellyM

On the way back towards Arbor Lane Jim catches me so I try and bomb the descent to the sharp corner and I get a bigger gap because I am on waxable skis (at least I got the glide wax right) and Jim chose waxless. I have to beat Jim down Arbor Lane and basically be in his way up Par Course because hell beat me down the icy par Course descent with his much better skills.

So we get to the corner and I try to treat it like a good grip day and only snow plow once into the corner around the apex. I am ok, but then I fixate on the hay bale as I push wide on exit from too much speed, not enough skill and just like in mountain biking where they warn you to never stare at the tree or rock, I stare at the bale and run right into it. As I am trying to get up Jim fixates on me and narrowly misses getting caught in my skis, but gets by clean and is gone. I know in theory how to rail that corner at full speed. I just lack the cast iron cahonies to try it.

I fly down Arbor Lane, make the so slippery corner to the par Course loop and again crawl up the steep icy hill to the top.

The descent down par Course is as expected-very slippery, but I try and slow as little as possible for all of the corners and even drop into the tracks for the straighter section. I remember thinking how stupid fast I was going in the tracks with a corner at the bottom and thinking "is this wise?" But I am able to negotiate the corner but fall at the very bottom on the exit of one of the last sharp corners. Just a silly slow lose your balance deal and right back up. The descent was deemed too dangerous after our race and was eliminated for the 10k skate race.
photo SharonH
A couple flat 180's to go so I try and limit my losses and go as hard as I can for the line and finally I DP like I know I can and finish almost 2 minutes faster than last year. The funny thing was last year those Touring rental skis I used had grip out the wazoo to climb. I could run uphill like I had spiked tennis shoes on, but those things wouldnt glide at all on the descents. This year I had no grip to climb and flew on the descents.

Congrats to all my buddies and racers who attended this very icy Nordic Flurry. It was a challenging day to say the least. But a fun day too as witnessed by the smiles all around.

HIlltoppers Ready to Race

Things for sale

Well I broke a ski pole during the Nordic Flurry race. Seems everyone got a pic of me crashing in the 5k classic race. One of the best is from Kelly's Noric Flurry photo album.

So with the need for some new poles and also some new cranks for the TT bike I am going to try and sell some things of mine. I'll update with pics shortly, but for now heres what I got!!

--Dura-Ace 9-speed 172.5 crank arms for Octalink(no rings or BB). Scratched, but in great shape $20.00

--Dura-Ace 10-speed 7800 172.5 cranks with Dura-ace BB in great shape. $200.00

--Fischer SCS Skate skis 187cm with Salomon Pilot Bindings. One year old. A few nicks on the edges and one chip in the top cover. $180.00 ($340 last year).

Just post a comment or email me kartchamp20002000@yahoo.coom

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Critical Power Calculator

Nice and easy if you've got Power.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wal Mart, Can you spare it?

I was looking for some fun stuff to use for a skiing game Sunday. I devised a fun game called Star Wars Challenge where my 4 to 6 year old skiers split into the Padawans and Siths to look for neon colored balls (called Power-Ups) and deposit them in a box after cleverly having them ski all around the base of Chapin looking for them. Before they know it they have skied much farther than they could have thought, but they have no idea they just did. I didnt think of this actually. But the details of the game are my own. Team with the most Power-ups wins!! Yahooo!!

SOOoooo...anyways I get to the checkout without any fun supplies, but a 20lb bag of dog food and the bill comes to $20.01 and I have a $20 bill. I look at the lady and she looks at me and I go to my van parked way deep in the lot for the penny they so desperately need. Sure if every customer shorted Wally World on the same day it would probably add up to a lot of money, but hey it was 15 degrees outside and it was only a penny. Do you think they could have spared it?

Youd think theh 2% I saved them on credit card fees by using cash would have covered it. But I am not bitter, naaahhh.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

2009 Nordic Flurry XC races

It was one of those days for the Huang Family. Audrey still skied beautifully, but she wasnt happy about where she finished. Poor thing. I crashed in the icy Arbor Lane turn trying to go too fast to gain ground on coach Jim from Hilltoppers (Audrey's great coach). The descent through the Par Course section was so icy and fast. It was both fun and scary.

Thanks to Robert Sroka for the great photography.

Friday, January 23, 2009

2009 Races Being Set

I saw a cool class for the Groveport Time Trial this summer on June 7th (not the Ohio State TT this summer). New Category - Standard This category will feature the truest form of a TT man versus the clock. No aero equipment will per permitted if you enter this category. No aerobars, No aero wheels, No aero helmets (tear drop style), Skinsuits will be permitted but go against the premise. Equipment use will be at the organizers discretion. hey Tom H.-did you see that?

Also check out the Schedule on the Ohio Cycling Association Website.

My main focus when not road racing with my guys on the Credit To Ride Masters Team will of course be time trials and there are plenty to choose this summer. Three 38 to 40km TT's in one month. Two leading up to Nationals in Louisville, KY.

And of course stay tuned to our favorite website for upcoming local races I somehow in my excitement over the Nordic Flurry race tomorrow forgot about the first Bike Authority TT!! I will have to make the next one!! And check on who did what last night.

Funny-I am talking about road racing and time trials, but I havent ridden my bike outside for weeks and then only once or twice in a month or more. Ho hum!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Squeaky Wheel

The old saying that the Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil is so true and here's why. I have been skiing every chance I can get. Skate is still a mess, but I keep trying. I have bugged so many people about it!! But the more I ask the more techniques and things I keep learning and the better I become.

And in a way eventually so do others. By this I mean I pass on what I learn to those struggling worse than me or are just new. And the same thing goes for waxing Classic skis. Grip waxing that is. I have been out on my Classic skis now 4 times and not once did I get the kick wax right. And I bugged a small group of guys I know who know wax and I learned a lot in a short period of time. I also currently dont own any waxes so I can only borrow what is available to me at the moment.

Skate skiing has a huge learning curve and some serious adaptations for cyclists muscles. Classic is a beautiful kick and glide where the devil is in the details. I see almost everyone shuffling or walking along. They seem happy to do it too so thats great. But when you start to feel the compression in the kick leg and kick hard, your back ski coming almost completely off the snow and you glide really far on your glide ski-man that feels good.But like I said, details, details, details. One very fast local skier said expect 3 or 4 seasons (Cleveland's short seasons especially) before you can really feel comfortable on your skis. But and this is really the only point I wanted to make here is that ski waxing is nothing short of black magic. Sure in the end it can be as simple as snow temperature and pick the wax, but to get the maximum kick AND glide properties to race at your best is truly an art form in itself. As coach Tom of Hilltoppers says for training days if you get the wax wrong, well you get a good workout double polling more too.

I am not exactly comfortable being the Squeaky Wheel mind you. I feel bad bugging people (not that youd guess from how much my lips flap about, blah?, Blah?, Blah???) I really do. It knots my stomach up thinking about all the questions I have and who I have to bug to get the answers. But I guess I dislike not knowing stuff a whole lot worse than being a bother to everyone. In fact I am sure of that fact. That's why its a fact jack.

But like I said before, at least once I learn stuff I become a resource for those who know even less than I do. And sometimes I even become quite knowledgeable myself (on rare occasions). But not on this skiing and waxing thing.

This Saturday is the popular Nordic Flurry XC races at Chapin Forest (Pine Lodge Ski center on Hobart). Come out and watch if youve got time and then rent some skis and give it a go. Or do what I did last year, rent some skis and do the race!! I did the 5k classic. I had a blast. And come and cheer my Bunny skiers to the finish and my daughter too around 11am!!

I went this morning to do the race course at race pace and though I improved my time by exactly 2 minutes with 3 silly falls (maybe discuss those later) and not enough kick grip, I hope on race day to knock off two or three more minutes!! Its a lot, but I am learning a lot every time I ski and especially every time I Squeak.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Warm and cozy at 5 degrees

Thom Domonic and I went to Chapin to ski last night at about 6:15. temps were below 10ยบ F and dropping. I already dressed light knowing the lighted trail would be almost all climbing but even so Thom and I headed back to the Pine Lodge and stripped off even more layers!!

Isnt it awesome to think you can be outside in dangerously low temperatures for 1.5 hours and never feel cold? But that's the way cross country skiing is. Its a full body workout, aerobic and fun.

I am still suffering from my left ski sliding out doing skate technique (see video below) which kills all my momentum, especially climbing. I may hire a coach to help me figure it out. In the meantime Josh Dalley (one amazing skier) has given me some things to try. I'd go again tonight, but I am just too sore and muscles too tired from getting used to skiing again that I wouldnt be able to ski very smoothly.

I taught what I know to Thom and he is a natural. I have never seen anyone skate ski so well the first 10 minutes of being taught. I am jealous. He learned in one night what took me a year of Googling and asking questions and experimenting for a year and hes already faster than me. I had to go very hard (left ski slipping all the way) just to keep him form pulling away too quickly.

I talked to him about this and told him that I dont think anyone believes me when I say I need help. They all say "oh your fast" or "your fine, your fine". But the truth is I am very slow and this problem is really killing my ability to get better. Its not that people arent trying to help, I just dont think they think I need much help, but I do!!

In time I will get faster and smoother and better. I cannot wait! I am being very impatient about this process I admit it. When Brian Stern and another skier blew by me last night it was poetry in motion and they were a blur of arms and poles in rythmic beat and synchronized with the kick and glide of their skis as they blew past. To go that fast on the flats and even more so up hills. whoo hooo!!

Off to Chapin again Friday!! Hopefully I'll have fresh legs and can start working on what Josh has taught me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

XC SKi Time Finally!!

Two emotions today. First was exhilaration and excitement. YES-finally off to Chapin to ski!! The next shortly after arriving and Skate skiing around a bit before I helped coach the 4-6 year old Bunny Rabbit skiers of the Hilltoppers Ski team was a bit of dissapointemnt. "wow, I still really suck at this." But no worries, I'll just keep trying!!! I sure love it even if I am not very good at it.

I found this video while trying to find an answer to why I always slide my left ski across the snow instead of gliding. I didnt get an asnwer to my problem, but I did find this gem of a video!! I think I will watch this about a 100 times this week.

If your a new skier, I hope it helps!

Friday, January 2, 2009


You read that right. I am a video game junkie (who almost never plays video games). What? Yeah , its complicated as all simple things in my life seem to be.

I'll keep this brief, but heres how this story goes. I love to play video games. Car racing sims are my favorite by far. But Ive never been much of a gamer because it costs too much money (initial investment) and costs too much sleep. The sleep and getting nothing accomplished for 5 to 8 hours at a time is the real problem. As we all know after being dad and work I should be training, eating and sleeping. Not training, eating, eating, eating and then gaming then crawling into bed at 2 to 4am just in time for the alarm to go off and train some more. For reference I go to bed about 9:30 to 10 normally.

Another biog reason I dont game much is Ive never had a PC fast enough to make game play that much fun and finding a place to sit comfortably with the wheel and pedals is always a challenge. But mostly it was the video card and ram and processor that was the biggest set-back. or the lack of a video card in many cases.

So now I have a new dual core laptop with a nvidea GeForce OEM, but still fast, video card and 3gigs of ram. I loaded up an old 2004 F1 racing game I have and played it on the keyboard. That was fun. Then I recalled an old kart racing friend talking about this online racing sim called rFactor. Well that was a big mistake. A few years ago a buddy and I started racing Live For Speed which was also an online racing game. This ones great too!!

Out came the wheel and pedals and away goes the hours of the evening. If your a racing NUT by all means check out rFactor then we can join any number of racing leagues and race against real human beings, not those overly aggressive AI drivers the games come loaded with.

The car racing buffs wil appreciate this so bear with me if you get about as excited about car racing as watching grass grow!! After loading the CART Prologue cars (the days when cart was real (pre IRL) and exciting with amazing driving talent) and the best rendition of Mid-Ohio Ive ever seen or played I was going nuts when Mauricio Gugelmin passes me in the braking zone with brake rotors glowing red hot and the sound of the waste gates popping and the sound of those turbos!! Oh sweet music. Even Audrey recognized that sound from a few trips to see the CART races at Burke!!

Luckily the novelty wears off after a few weeks and I eventually get sick of pulling out the wheel and pedals and putting them away every evening and also wonder how I could find 5 hours a night to sit in one spot and basically veg out.

Of course i have been sleeping like crap for months and worse these last few weeks so I can always us that excuse. Well I am not sleeping anyways, might as well race!!