Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beating the winter blahs

Think about distraction!!

The folks at Global Ride hooked me up with a copy of their Giro D'Italia inspired cycling DVD. This one has portions used in the 2009 Giro D'Italia's epic TT. My initial thought was to set-up my Computrainer and run it in its general exercise mode and change resistance as the video gorgeously captured climbing up the 30 minute Pignone to Paradise climb.

But as time wouldnt allow me to set-up the software in my Mac's Windows OS partition I used my trusty and leg busting Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. The DVD warm-up is a collection of pictures of architecture and sights in Italy. I watched a bit then skipped chapters to the Passo del Giro which I used for warm-up.

The Passo del Giro was the portion used in the 2009 St.12 TT. The camera work is very steady and uses a nice combination of head-on (first person) shots at realistic road speeds, side glances of the beautiful countryside as well as shots of the actor/riders. What I liked was how well the slope of the roads was represented and how shots to the side and behind let you know the grade so you could simulate it in your efforts. Though I personally think they should hire a skinny dude from Cleveland Heights to do the climbing videos!!  I'd work for Gu and Cliff bars!! And yeah, I'm just kidding.

For those who may be newer to cycling or riding a trainer I let my rpm drop a bit as the roads got steeper and hit the big chain ring and went up the cassette (21>19>17, etc). Its not truly realistic as increasing the load of a trainer, but a KK trainer is fluid and not variable. But it feels like real climbing to me.

Had I been on the Computrainer I could change resistance and actually go down the cassette (19>21>23, etc) in the small chainring.  But in the end it doesnt matter. What matters is that I was totally distracted from the blahs of the basement and was engaged on the roads and riders. When the passed I accelerated and when the videographer passed the riders in the video I also attacked.

Another nice touch to get you in the "race" mode was the pre-ride course profile. All I needed was Phil Ligget laying out the days sufferage. There were also choices of coaching or no coaching, music or no music. I chose the music and no coaching the first go round. For me the music was awesome on the PIgnone to Paradise climb. An upbeat electronic mix that kept you pushing on the pedals all the way to the top.

The last riding portion included a steep switchback climb also in Italy of course. I cooled down for that, but it would be an awesome 10 minute interval if you included it in your ride. The music was a mix of original modern rock tracks for this chapter.

Like Ebert I give it a thumbs up simply due to its ability to distract you and immerse you in the riding and getting your mind off of the fact that your in your basement. A very clear picture and steady camera work, choices in play (sound, no sound, etc.) and a 30 minute free yoga workout at the end are the icing on the cake.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Only on Sunday

I got my Dieringer Single Speed built back up last night. I had to ride it right away so I put on some lights and wore my hiking headlamp just under the rim of the helmet. Hit a big enough bump and I bet there would be a comedic moment. But it worked for the installation run.

The very first thing I noticed was how ridiculously big the 42x17 gear feels. Same feeling as 2008 when I raced it in the entire Lake Effect series. I am riding down paved and flat Fairmont and cant seem to get up to a comfortable cadence. By the time I do I am starting to sweat and my legs are burning.

Also for me a good warm-up for a race is cadence oriented to some degree. I like to spin till the legs are warm, do some efforts then spin till the start. So I cannot even warm-up on the SS. Unless I want to ride around at 40 to 60 cadence. So last year my CSK geared bike got relegated to warm-up and commuting.

I bring this up because I was hoping to do some CX practice tomorrow evening at Brett Davis' parent's house where the Halloween races are being held again. I might bring my mountain bike and the SS so I can get some comfy laps in  and then ride the cross bike for maybe one or two race laps. Why not be like most who have SS bikes and just ride it?

My thinking is that I am only willing to ride it full wood on Sunday because with that gear the bike is fast as heck, but it also takes some serious motivation to ride. Why? Because it hurts like a mother to pedal that's why. Its like Cross on PCP. Your  balls to the walls until your lungs, back, legs or a combo of the three gives out. 

I know what your thinking. Why not put a 19 on it and quit whining!!  Well, I have thought about that many times, but what if what makes the bike fast IS the 17 tooth cog? On a side note I have been racing my geared bike on a Dura ace 12-27 cassette because its light and i dont need a 27 on a road bike. So its light and unused.  But I cant tell you all the times I have been in the 27 this season when last year I made do in the same kinds of situations in a 17!! Wanna guess if I was faster in the 27 or the 17? hmmm....makes me think...could it be the gear? Maybe, but only on Sunday (ok Saturday sometimes too).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No racing today

Why would I miss my favorite cross race of the year? Call it a perfect storm. I broke my geared cross bike, I had a final exam last week, didnt rebuild my SS Dieringer and had a huge week of hard work.  This is not an excuse, but I rode once all week too. Thursday I ate a nasty am/pm burger (made with more chemicals than beef I swear)I was so hungry and by Friday I was eating candy bars to get through the day. My coworker had to eat my last Reeses Cup because he looked like he was going to fall sleep standing up.

But the real reason (or the biggest excuse) is that Thursday working outside (again) in the rain I was standing on the door sill of the Silverado to grab the circular saw when both of my wet boots slipped and I slammed my right shin (that right shin thats got a lump on it) into the door sill. This was the 5th time in two days and now when I hit my right shin it puts me on the ground laughing my ass off and in pain. I think I had tears in my eyes on that last one!!

It hurt so bad that I didnt even notice I had slammed my ribs into the plastic toolbox on the seat. That evening I started to feel it and Friday morning it hurt. Saturday morning I could really feel it so I got out of bed and tried running in place and I could tell I couldnt hold a bike and run up that sled hill. I sort of cramped up as I ran.

So why not race anyways and walk up the hill? I am willing to race hurt and give up some performance. Well its a case of getting the best bang for the buck. I simply cannot justify the entry fee, gas and wear and tear on the equipment to race hurt these days. And I am also worried about crashing and being in more pain. I had a few crashes there last year.

But I want to thank Robert Sroka for offering me his bike for the race. I am gonna really regret this decision, but I think its for the best. YOu must admit life at idle is pretty boring compared to while racing!! Not that it doesnt have advantages, but you racers know what I mean.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Training and not training

Last Sunday I got a free pass to ride so I got dressed fast and took off on my trusty road racing bike. First time on it since Tamarack. And boy did it boogie, woogie down the road. I had my power meter and just kept on the gas pedal for an hour and twenty minutes. Then I did some 30 sec intervals and one sprint with nice recovery between.

This by itself is not that big of a deal, but I am continually amazed at how well some parts of overall performance stay with you if you can at least race cross 3 or 4x a month and maybe one hard ride a week. It goes against what many think should be a goal of the end of road season which is to just take it easy, ride for fun and enjoy. It was darn good ave power for an 1 hour ride for as little training as I have done.

But when  training is very hit or miss I react by going into an emergency modee. Meaning that when I can ride I try and ride pretty hard. And thats because my next ride might be 3,4 or 5 days away. This may work for me because my work is so physical. Some days are literally like a weight workout for 7 to 8 hours. Not aerobic or structured. Just heave, lift, pull, drag and carry heavy stuff up steps, into the box truck or throwing things into a dumpster.Then because of not having time for a ride when I get home I'll do weights and core for 20 or 30 minutes.

Why this works is because I am not in a state where riding hard is traumatic on my muscles because of work. And it just feels so good to get the HR up and go anaerobic, (huff, huff, huff, huff, sweat, burning in the muscles). In my mind  I feel like I am putting in efforts like what I will be in the race. Even though its hard to go that hard in training!!

And its hard to go that hard in training for long periods when your tired and not in that "trainer" mode day in and day out. So I make my intervals short with more repeats. Whatever it takes!!  

This winter will be a bi of an experiment too. LIke in 2007 I'll be on the trainer a lot I hope. I'll be doing weights all winter and the occasional run to "bang the bones" as I like to put it. Cross country skiing will be fun, but unlike last year I wont be looking for opportunities to ski. I'll be on the TT bike on the trainer or outside riding.

Ive got lots of stuff saved on the dvr for training rides and a DVD coming from to try. Maybe I ought to have more than one TV show I like (Fringe) so more media for the trainer? BAH, Ive got the Computrainer too. Lots to keep me going this winter and of course the motivation to come out strong for Presque Isle and the Spring races with my team mates on Carbon Racing.

My point being that if you dont think you have time to train, but like to stay fit, then train even harder, but shorter. Dont forgo a warmup and be sensible, but dont make the excuse that your out of shape so only ride slow and easy when you can to not be sore. And switch it up with even shorter core workouts. I love those too.

Oh and an update on my poor CX bike? well I put it in the bike stand on Sunday. And...that's it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A little bad luck

Just moments after stopping to clear off a walking bridge full of branches I rode over a little branch that was full of leaves. My rear locks up so I look down to see if the leaves got up in the brakes and see my derailleur on top of my cassette still attached to the bike. Not good.

The damage is a bent hanger and a bent cage on the derailleur. Wouldnt be a problem except I have to find the hanger. I hope Seigler Imports has them in stock as I bought it from them in 2007.

In the meantime I hope i can get the compound bends out of the hanger and cages in time for Cross My Heart. If not I'll get the SS ready to race as well.

What a bummer to have this happen when Ive got so little time to work on bikes and no budget to fix anything. Ooops, I am whining again.

See ya at Spin!! I just hope they dont have the uphill off-camber 180 again cause that was a bitch on the SS last year.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Photo credits, blogs and a little story

New header photo is from my friend Kelly Mikolajczyk also know by justkelleh on her blog. I do so love photography and great pictures.

But I think most photogs (artists?) will admit a great picture is just there. Its up to you to snap the shutter and not screw it up. Its the not screwing it up part thats hard. I had a day at the Cleveland Zoo this summer that was like that. Every picture looked great and I captured animals in cages that could almost have passed for in the wild. I'd love to take credit, but it was just one of those days.

Not that I am taking anything away from all of the great people who capture cyclocross this and every other season. But youve got to admit that cross is by far the best form of cycling to capture on film. Great pics are everywhere. Fomr the suffering on our faces to the textures in the grass and mud and the emotions wore on the arm warmers of every competitor that's giving 110%.

I have also been trying to add local bloggers to my sidebar so please feel free to nav to other racers and friend and see what they have to say.

I got a funny email about cross yesterday. A friend had said he isnt trying hard enough in cross because he never feels ill afterwards. I am sure many guys who win cross races dont feel I'll, but after a hard, hard, hard race on a tough course I do feel pretty rotten most of the day. Doesnt stop me from trying just as hard the next week though I wish I didnt feel so bad.

But he said now he knows just a bit what its like to be me after a race going as hard as he could and having a bad stomach for a few hours. Thats not really something to asppire to, but it is funny to me and I am proud of him for giving it so much effort as a cross newbie.

But havent you seen those guys who can smile and hold a conversation while riding past you as you cheer them on. They will tell you all kinds of stuff mid-race in a conversational tone. Me? I cant even find the energy or time to grab a water bottle. I'll occasionally try and acknowledge some cross hooligan cheering because its so awesome that people cheer us on. But that probably looks like a nervous head twitch and bad gas more than a smile and a nod.

But hey, its cross and all that that implies. Fall, mud, tasty beers, riding your ass into the ground and cheering your friends on are just a few. I do so love cross even if all I seem to do is complain about it. I will tell you I find complaining anymore as the release I need from stress, etc. SO sorry now if I sound like I belong in an old ladies sewing circle than a hardcore bike race.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'll eat that last post

I complain a LOT nowadays. Its about all I do is bitch on Twitter and now on my blog. But after seeing pics and seeing the Race Results I am flabbergasted that I raced myself from possibly about 26 to 28th back to 10th. Holy friggen crap. I caught guys that got the hole shot and then were top 5 on lap one by the end of the race.

There is still the problem that I ALONE put myself in that position. I bet if I change my dismount just a bit I wont catch my shorts on the saddle.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Leroy CX..a debacle on my part

I'll start with a positive then its all downhill form there, I can really feel a big improvement in cornering when its slippery. I am starting to feel how to move my body around a bit and keep pedaling through some pretty thick, gooey mud. I am no John Page and never will be, but its something to be positive about.

So I pre-ride and say to myself, this course lacks some excitement and "fun" stuff, but that's understandable because the Vrooman course is dead flat. No off cambers, short hills or Pain climbs. But I believe it suits me just fine. Muddy, long stretches and not too technical. Wont be as much fun as say Wendy Park, but should be a good course for me. OK, that's two positive things.

I line up on the first row and take off without any drama and kick it hard, but damn, here I am back, WAY back before we even get past the dog leg. So I buckle down and drill it up the empty middle and then say out loud "UH-OH" and Jeff Craft tells me later he thought it cant be good when a rider says "UH'OH" in the middle of the field. I am heading for the concrete block and luckily Doan Brook MTB riding takes over and I bunny hop it to Bill Maruts cheers. haha.

We get to the singletrack and I tried to get past the horde in front, but it bottle necks and we come almost to a stop. I come out and chase like mad all the way around the course and I am starting to see the familiar body shapes way in front of me. I am flying in certain sections and HATE the fact I may catch them, but will be fried from the effort when I could have been WITH them and used those matches to help chase the next rider up the road or gap them. Not for 18th, but 5th...get the picture? Frustrating.

Then maybe as early as lap2 I come to the dismount and I catch my skinsuit on the tip of my saddle and me and the bike go down. I get up, run, drag my bike sideways over the barrier, remount, pedal and no drive. Dropped chain. I keep trying to pedal to see if it picks it up because its laying on the third eye, but no go. Dismount, reach down to wrap it completely or else the crank will roll back and unwrap it. I learned that at Edgewater. This is a case where a double would have helped. I dont know how many, but more than 10guys go past before I remount. And I hadnt made it to the top 10 yet I dont think before this. This is not good and I know it.

I get that "who gives a shit" attitude for a half lap as I play the I'm muddy and cold card till I start to see guys I can catch. I chastise myself and get going. I pass a lot of guys. I even pass a group of 5 in a pack at the start finish where I am at my best on this course then its catch slowly catch them one by one.

When I start to catch Steiner I follow his grass line past the wheel pit instead of my wide arcing line from gravel to grass and assuming I'll have more grip I lean without braking and my front washes out and feels like it was covered in grease its slides out so easily. After the race Baldesare who kicked ass (and was a great MTB rider in the early 90's) and I talked and we agreed everytime you try and corner a CX bike like a road bike you end up smacking the ground..hard. I banged my right shin hard and got a big bump. I chase and then get into a good battle with Aussie Rob who out sprints me out of the single track. I get out of the saddle past the ball diamond and bleachers and gun it and go past. I bobble again at the ditch. I lost count ahow many times I screwed up, but few in traditional ways (slide out, crash, over cook a corner, etc)

I see 2 to go from Lynn and can see one Lake Effect (John Proppe) and Cameron from RGF about a 100' ahead. Cameron passes John and John counters and starts to put time into Cam. I dont really register this or assume Cam will re-catch John. Either way I want to pass them both on the bell lap, but I bobble again at the ditch and lose some valuable real estate. But I finally get close to Cam around the concession area. he slides coming out of the right hander after the picnic area and collects it before hitting the wood fence and now I am right on him. I attack out of the left hander around the two 90 deg right handers, Hes obviously popped as he lets me go but John has already passed the start finish line. So I got one of them and what a last lap by John.

I guess it turned out ok in the end. I got to practice muddy cornering, raced guys head to head all race long, but overall it was a day filled with silly, but time consuming errors. I need to practice of all things getting my chain back on and starts couldnt hurt either. And i had problems in areas I didnt really have an issue with last year like coming out of ditches (they were a lot slipperier this year). Not that any of them cost me that much time, but combined they did since there were so many. Now I have to have a really good race in two weeks so I can score some good points.

And possibly the biggest challenge is many of the guys are heading to Cincinnati for 3 days of racing while I am here barely riding. I guess I just have to buckle down, find some motivation to push really hard this week when I can cause all them guys will be flying for Spin Cross your Heart. And a big thanks to Kevin and crew for putting on the race again. It was a disaster for me, but that IS cross racing! I could make an analogy to my entire 2009 (racing and life), but that would be two too many negatives for one day.