Sunday, September 27, 2009

ok, I'm scared..


of this dude. Steiner gets this crazy ass look in races too. Is it the beard? is it? If so I want that look. All I ever look like is "I'm dying..."

One hard ass race!

Matt Turi really had a nice canvas to lay out a great course and he did not disappoint. It was fun and challenging with UCI height barriers and perfect placement. And the weather was picture perfect cross. Overcast, a bit cool and raining. The ground was soft enough that we got some mud and puddles.

The course suited me really well with the long grassy sections and the long hill before the tricky, but fun hill section that reminded me of the late Broadview Heights hill. But it all comes down to the start and I really wanted to be aggressive this week. I got a great start, but let myself get shuffled back a fdew guys and that ended up putting me out of the top 15 of about 40 starters. I was kin of upset till I looked at who was right in front of me. A lot of fast guys and it remained like that for a few laps.

I was acclimating to the technical stuff and trying to be fast, but conservative and remembering to use proper technique. In the end I was just cautious, but I got away without any crashes and after last Thursday that was a good thing as I was still sore to the touch in spots.

My early race was chasing down Halloran, Brent Evans, Rudy, Chris Mahew and Ernesto. You know your in the fight when you can see just up the grass Shawn, Ernesto and Tony. Too far to realistically catch, but you keep trying.

Catching Chris and Brent was brutal. It took pulling extra hard across start finish, up the hill to the first set of barriers and especially up the long grinding hill. But after catching them and going back and forth I think the steep hill in this picture ended up being a big decider. I was able to climb it on the bike 5 of the laps and they started running it earlier.

Robert Sroka picture

Then Rudy came by and started to ride lines that just put me to shame. Everytime around a tree or down a hill into one of the slippery corners hed pull more and more and more gap. He had a good 10 seconds going into the bell lap and I started chasing hard and taking a few more chances. I had a scary moment around the brick wall corner when my front washed out and I got an eyeful of brick wall, but somehow got through upright. I pushed hard after the barrier and short run-up and closed the entire gap on Rudy on that one hill and got right on his wheel. I should have ridden past to force Rudy to follow me down and up the hill because he made it on lap 6 and I had to unclip the last 2' to the top of the hill.

But I stayed right on his rear wheel and even overlapped it up the hill, but my rear wheel slipped once then twice and Rudy smoothly rode up and got the gap he needed from there to the off camber. I went extra cautious so as not to fall so I could chase him down all the way to the finish. But Rudy would have none of it as I went balls to the wall down to the 180 in the little pocket of trees, up the hill and around the screaming CX fans in te final 180 (what a simple but awesome corner) and to the start finish and didnt make a dent in his lead. Way to go Rudy!!

Wow, what a race. This competition and effort in cross has its unique appeal. Its so damned hard and unrelenting. When you race someone and put time into them if you dont keep pushing 110% your sure to hear them coming back on your wheel and sometimes even fly past as Jason Halloran, Scott Gartman, Chris, Rudy and Brent all did to me. But I suppose I did it right back to them as well.

You might be surprised to read I literally rode myself into the ground and physically i'll for the rest of the day for 11th and you know what? It was a glorious and hard fought and I am proud of myself. IT was an awesome course and I had the hammer down my entire 58 minutes. The competition from the gun till the bell was fierce and I am improving like last year. My dismounts and remounts were so much better than Wendy park.

Thank you Stark Velo for a well run event and Lake Effect (Lynn Marut) for that little pep talk everytime through start finish. It comes form my heart when I say you guys (and gals) mean so much to me personally and to the local racing scene. Keep it up.

It has begun!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

1,2,3, YOUR OUT!!

Bad day riding in the trails. I dont know why, but it was just awful. First I went off the grass into loamy dirt and my front wheel washed out and I body slammed myself. That was #1.

Then I was climbing a twisty, rocky area that tops out going around a tree stump. As I wrapped the stump my right shin caught a broken downed tree limb and going full force on the pedals it stopped me cold. That hurt so bad I couldnt pedal right for a long time. 2nd blood drawn.

Then I cleared two hard descents I sometimes have problems with and felt I was back on track. Yahoo!! Then I had some minor spills of varying amounts of pain.

Then the doozie. I was in a rock garden and was riding an up and down area when I didnt carrry enough speed to clear a rootie, rocky bit and I went off the back of the bike and when I stopped hitting boulders and whatever I pushed the bike off of me, pulled my knees in and hugged myself super tight before the full onslaught of pains hit me. And I do mean pains. Forearm, back, hamstring, legs...ouch...I am glad no one came by at that point. I bet I looked like I wanted to cry.

What the hell was that all about?

On the bright side yesterday I went to Edgewater to do the Wednesday training ride. Cameron and I took the holeshot and rode off the front the whole race on a fun course laid out by Justin Picorelli. And on the very last lap Cameron attacks me by the highway stretch and I cover it and am on his inside to the run-up and I drop my chain (for the first time ever in a CX race) and he gets to ride away uncontested for a final sprint. OH bummer. But it was good to have some form after very, very little training lately.

And I didnt crash once at Edgewater even with the drop-off by the stairs. I guess I was just putting it in the bank for today.

Damn do I have some serious aches and pains. Tomorrow morning should suck hardcore.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It was this close

Thanks to Kevin Kimmich for this shot. This is the race for 9th with Brad, Rudy and myself. Man I LOVE racing bikes.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wendy Park 09/13/09 buzz in my throat.

Robert Sroka
Robert Sroka
First I want to thank the Team Lake Effect Crew for again starting off the cyclocross season with a bang. I really like this course. Its harder than it looks and its got relentless power sections, short climbs, technical turns and a sand pit.

I find myself sitting at home all carbed back up and no ones here. My wife is at work and my daughters hanging with her Aunt (who spoils her rotten btw, but thats OK cause she loves her too).

I was definitely rusty today. I was a mess in the dismount area and almost stacked it up one lap because I dismounted close to the RR ties and didnt have time to grab (or forgot) to grab the top tube. I ended up hoisting the bike as high as I could with both hands on the handlebars. How smooth I bet I looked.

I was also too tentative in the downhill corners and around the trees. Its funny because its no different than last year. I have got to practice those more or history will continue to repeat itself.

What was better was a stronger start. I was top 12 or at least packed in with the favorites but my buddy whom shall go nameless tapped a pedal and fell on the narrow off camber hill and I had to stop and wait for him to get up. SO it was onto my usual cross race where I am about 10 spots further back and have to claw my way up. And I am in no way upset with him if you care to know.

I start to get it together and work my way up and then my race becomes chasing Brad Wilhelm (BW) on a mountain bike and Rudy (RS). We go back and forth near the end and my corner speed is getting better, but is still an issue. I am also having good sections and bad sections. Meaning sometimes I am shifting up and maximizing the grassy sections and hills and other times spinning an easier gear. For most of the race I pass the lead group on the asphalt section that forms the pier, but eventually they are going up the hill before I reach that section. But thats not bad for me.

BW and RS and I are battling with 3 to go back and forth. I mistake the bell lap for 2 to go and realize I can catch BW, but before that Rudy comes ripping by me. I follow him for a long time then come around on the asphalt and with encouragement from Rudy I take off and catch Brad.

On the bell lap BW passes me up the hill after the asphalt because I brake too much (and he did a great job drafting me all the way out and back on the asphalt) for the corner. I decide to sit on him till we get back to the section after the sand pit that is my best section. I will try to attack there and hope I can get a few seconds. Following him hes flying through the twisty section before the wheel pit and I am trying to stay close when a leaf gets caught between the fork crown and tire and it sounds Exactly like I blew out my front tire (fishhhh, fishhh, fisshhhh) so I hit the wheel pit, jump off and find the tires fine then I get back in the race just before Rudy comes up and I try and chase BW again.

But hes too far away to catch now and can control the gap. Then as if a false flat tire isnt enough a bug flies in my mouth and right down my throat! I hack and spit out most of it immediately, but I think it broke in two pieces and its guts scorched my throat. Maybe it was an Alien bug with acid for blood. At least it didnt sting!!

But anyways, 10th spot and I am happy with that. There were a lot of talented folk out for the first race and I was thinking top 15 alone would be tough. I think Brad and I deserved to get to race it out. A little tactics and attacks would have been fun, but not today. But it was still a great race in so many ways. Battling my own shortcomings in skills, racing hard, great battles chasing those in front and being caught from behind kept me on my toes all race long. Beginning to get that buzz about cross again. But can do without it in my throat.

Thanks Robert for the pics. Lots of phtogs on course yesterday

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All the things I didnt do...

After the TOTV stage race I had planned a full test program to dial in my new position tht I pretty much established after riding Sam Brodes' bike after the State TT. Once I get the TT bike to a certain set-up in the winter or early spring I dont touch it. No mid season tweaking. But this year I wanted to dial it in for the fall Presque Isle TT. Which I am not doing this fall sadly.

So what have I come up since July 10th? Absolutely nothing!! The bike literally hung from the work stand in the basement since the TOTV prologue. I went from riding it every single week to abandoning it. I also had not done a single Jim Behren Leroy Township TT this year.

So tonight my college class was cancelled and I had all of the reading and assignments done so I treated myself to some fun. But I kept this bad attitude about it instead of being excited. It was all confirmed when I started riding. Riding at threshold in the TT position felt all wrong and I didnt feel very fast at all. So I kept riding short LT intervals till I started to feel better. With every interval it started to feel more normal. I figured I'd go about 26mph on the out and with any luck 28 to 30 on the way in on the flats by what I did in warm-up.

So I line up and I go first and as soon as I clear the first rise I am up to 29mph and hold it for awhile!! Over 3mph faster than what i could hold in warm-up at my LT wattage. In the race I dont have wattage so its that "on the clock" rush!! I was LOVING it. Fly through the corner and to the first rise and then try and hold speed up the climb, but drop down to 14mph. Drill it to the turnaround in 9:14 and down the hill. I make the corner, sprint up to 27 and then go from 32 to 26 at the first false flat to 29 to 30 all the way in and cross the line at 36mph!! I only average 24.9 to the turnaround tonight (too slow from corner to turn around is my guess) and 30.1mph from turn around to finish line. Much better and so much fun to travel under your own power at that speed. Really a big rush.

I am convinced I am on a PR!! Leroy makes you think that because it has these great fast sections. But youve got to be good after the corner to get a 16 minute run. SO I go 17:06. Its only disappointing because in 2007 I went 16:52 on my first or second try on the course. But considering how things have been lately I'll take it and I felt great during the TT!! And thats whats really important right now. To enjoy every ride.

As for testing and tweaking? Well I am all charged up again. I know exactlyu the changes I want to make, but I think the poor bikes gonna be stuck in the trainer for a few months now!! At least I have the Computrainer to keep me company. A good two day block of training (the first in a long time) just in time for the first cyclocross race this Sunday.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tour De Tamarack

What an awesome course. Seems were very blessed to have so many awesome race courses in our area. I dont have time to do my usual full blown report, though I'd love to because I had big expectations of myself, but reality said otherwise. So I changed my focus from self to sacrifice and it worked out great (though not necessarily because of me) for the team. So of course I want to talk about it. Great and I mean great team race for Carbon Racing.

Carbon Racing took 1st out of a 2 man break with Dan and the field sprint for 3rd by Shawn. But we were all on the attack and counter attack all race long. Also a shout out to Dave Steiner who was so strong Sunday.

In the mean time Mike Briggs took these great shots from the race that I would like to share.
I didnt have the power I expected, but climbed at the front none the less (nothing like Dan though-holy crap did he fly) and it looks like everyone was hurting including myself.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The conversation in my head

Please be aware there will be profanity in this post. I finally got out for a ride after work on Wednesday. I changed it up a bit and headed up Wilson Mills east to try that climb. It was a tough one and I held 10mph to the top and was pretty happy about that. I had already been riding hard since Fairmont and Richmond so I kept hammering over County LIne to Sherman to Caves.

It gets steep to the stop sign and as I approached it I heard a car coming up and it had that sound like stupid was driving. After youve ridden long enough you get a sixth sense about stupid so I threw out my left hand to signal my turn. I heard the revs of his motor slow a bit and glanced back and took my spot in the middle of the road. Remember its steep and I have been hammering for close to 45 minutes so I am not going super fast. I DO roll the stop sign, but at what speed I have no idea.

THis is where I have to tell you I am cursed (I call it a curse) with empathy. I feel as if I can sense other peoples emotions (ok, everyone can, but do they bother?) and i usually act to bring about some equilibrium. I call it a curse because I spend so much time worrying about other people and usually not enough about myself. I wont go any further.

SO my sense of this guy is impatience so I accelerate hard and am on my happy way then I hear him yelling "hey why didnt you stop?" So I yelled back to him the truth. I said "So you could get going faster". Its my empathy thing again. But i guess I misjudged this guy so he yells back some crap and "NIce stop DICKHEAD" and roars off with a heavy dose of throttle.

Well that really pissed me off. My initial reaction was what a fucking asshole and after the last few weeks of crappy work, but tiny paychecks, stress about school and etc. I felt like I could explode. So the typical looking jerk. Black SUV, black polo shirt and white hair and of course overweight. I have so many problems with older drivers. The car color? Well thats pretty vague, but it comes into play again later.

So I have this imaginary dialogue between myself and the a-hole as I ride on towards Brigham to Chagrin River and up Old Mill east. First thing I thought of was that he didnt give a rats ass about me rolling the stop sign. He just hates cyclists on what he mistakenly thinks are his roads. A common mistake among drivers who dont ride (or exercise in many cases I bet). And what a hypocrite. I wanted to ask him if he yells at every car that rolls and runs stop signs? Then I wanted to ask him where he lives so I could follow him for a d ay and write up the 100's of violations he committed mile by mile like speeding, rolling stop signs or not stopping at all for right turns on red, running lights and the list goes on forever.

So after many conversations in my head where I try to be reasonable I finally decided on what I should have said in the first place. I should have yelled back "Shut the fuck-up you Hypocrite" and left it at that. I certainly would have felt a lot better. NOt that he would have gotten it. I have stared down too many elderly angry men who act like they have the cognitive skills of a 4 year old brat who is incapable of reasoning than an adult to expect any better.

So while approaching Mayfield on Chagrin RIver road another guy in a new black v8 sedan goes left of center on a dbl yellow line full throttle right at me to pass a guy driving too slow for him. We make eye contact, but does he back off at all? Not one flippin bit. Asshole number two. The statistics state that people who buy black cars are more aggressive and significantly more likely to get in an accident. Well you two fucking neanderthals can take your worthless opinions and lack common sense and crash for all I care. Just crash into a light pole or ditch and dont hurt me or anyone else.

I've about had enough of caring for the common man. The person Ive never met whom I waste my time trying to figure out how to please. But i suppose if I lowered my self to their level I wouldnt be me. I am just saying its getting old being disappointed by my fellow human beings all of the time. I call my empathy a curse, but I am sure its a blessing. I just dont see it today.