Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
So, the Capital Cup was Saturday in Topeka. Good course, maybe a little long, but should have been a good one for me and I was looking forward to laying it down. Was also excited because it was a large women's field and Catherine Walberg was there. You gotta understand that last year was my first 'cross season and Catherine handed me seconds by large margins the WHOLE time. So, as much as I like Catherine, I was really wanting to win one.
On the second lap I was leading and trying to lay on the power and I focused on the wrong tree or cones or something and in an instant I heard my name being yelled in a non-cheering fashion. I look around, realize what's going on and Catherine waves me back to course. I circle back and get on track, but my concentration is blown and I can't get my mental game initiated for the self flagellation. Catherine, on the other hand, seemed to jump right back into the race full bore and dropped me like a sack of potatoes. :( So, after the race, I tried to focus on what went right. I felt strong. The first tubular I'd ever glued stayed on. My barriers were good. So later, feeling determined to do better the next day, I was standing by Catherine and jokingly told her I was coming for her on Sunday.
(Will I ever learn to keep my mouth shut? Why in the world would I want to prompt my strongest competitor to bring her A game? Sheesh. Oh well, once it leaves your mouth, you just got to suck it up and deliver, so it was water and an early to bed for me.)
Sunday's race I had planned to get there early and ride the course so as to control what I could. You know, learn the course, warm up properly and all that. However, being directionally challenged, I drove my sleeping companion south instead of north at a critical juncture and we were late, missing the masters race and leaving me with only 20 minutes to warm up. But...all that really means in 'cross is that the first lap will be a doozy. So what. Harden the **** up, right?
Our race was a mere 3 laps, or roughly 30 minutes, and my original plan was to take Michelle's advice and follow Catherine and Jen around the first lap to learn the course. Unfortunately, or not, I'm not sure... I got a great start (thx coach) and popped right into the lead. Of course, all this meant was that took the first turn and promply blew through the wrong cones. (I'm tellin' you, the life of the directionally challenged can be frustrating.) I circle back and catch back on behind Catherine and Jen. At least I'm in the position I originally wanted. The pace is fast but we're hanging together and I had a few more foibles, one of which opened quite a gap between me and two on the front. Upon seeing this, however, my two friends Jen and Michelle, who are also in the race and never hesitate to give me advice, holler at me to close it up. When I'm hammering, I'm pretty focused, but a direct order like that seems to automatically trigger the correct response and I quickly closed the gap. Not long after, smarty Catherine kinda sits up and I jump to the fore again. It was a good move on her part because she knew at that point it was just the 3 of us and if I was on the front, I would have to worry about attacks from her and Jen and that they would be able to see when I shifted or tried to make a move to ride 'em off my wheel.
However, I knew there were only 3 laps and the last thing I wanted was to slow the pace at all and let the two of them get any rest or gang up on me by launching attacks and counter attacks.
So, I tried to just dig in, hammer, and keep the pace high enough that any attack would be prohibitively expensive in terms of energy. I also focused on the barriers which seemed to be my advantage yesterday afternoon.
The start/finish is uphill on pavement, so by the time I came down off the grass and hit the road, I had my big ring spun up and was poppin' gears. This is the point where the drills Marc had me do really paid off. Not only have they given me good starts, but when the time came to finish strong, my body knew what to do without too much brain input, and I powered up the hill and crossed the line first. Then, in proper 'cross fashion, couldn't breath, wanted to fall over and puke. That's 'cross. It's fun. Trust me.
Later, Catherine gave me some tips regarding my tires. I guess I was running them way too hard and that was contributing to skipping around in the corners and across the bumps. As I understand it, if you use a lower pressure, the bike will get less "air time" and more power will be delivered to moving it forward. Makes sense. I'll give it a try. I also think this demonstrates what a fine competitor she is. I mean, giving tips to a rival to up the game isn't something everyone would do. But, like she said on Saturday... "When I saw you were here, I knew it was gonna be a race." And on my part, I had originally planned to do both the women's and men's that day, but when I saw Catherine was there, I knew I'd only need the one.
I think we'll be layin' it down at Riverside next weekend. That's a fun one with a big @$$ sand pit along with a sandy run-up, unless they changed the course. It's a real spectator friendly one too. Come on out! Bring yer bells!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Last weekend I was talking to a young woman about racing Jingle Cross and she was wondering if she ought to through in with the elites as well as her own race. I told her yes, because the best way to get faster is to start riding with those who are faster than you. So, this weekend, I took my own advice and raced with the men 1/2/3 at the Nebraska cross series #1 and #2. Saturday I got 10th out of ~25, and today, well, I was much weaker sauce, ending up 14th out of roughly 20 starters. Nonetheless, I considered both finishes to be solid successes for a couple of reasons. First, one focus was to be aggressive in my cornering. Second, I was put in the position of needing to give everything I had or risk being last. Talk about motivation. ;) Consequently, both aims were met.
I suffered two mishaps. On Saturday, I dropped a chain and that cost me big time, then today I took a spill and ended up placing behind the Cornbread who caught me while I was shaking the stars from my head and locating my bike. Didn't matter. I accomplished what I set out to do and after a couple of rest days expect to be stronger for the experience. Next week will find me down in Kansas for the Capital Cup in Topeka and Boulevard Cup in KC.
The highlight of the weekend though was getting to watch my mom's first 'cross race. She did great and I'm so very proud that she went out there and rode it. Twas a tough course to start this sport on, but I think she'll do great and be even stronger for #3 & #4 in this series. My friends Christine and Nicole also gave 'cross their first go's. Nicole won on Saturday and Christine was second.
Janna Vavra won the women's open both days, despite running way too big of a gear on her single-speed. I'm hoping she gets that gearing figured out and secures some options, then goes with me to Jingle Cross...which reminds me.... I need to get registered.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
I just hate 'em these days and I'm not alone. In fact, others must be more fed up than me as I came across this "GetHuman" database today on 43Folders. Lists 500 companies and how to get a person on the line and Alltel is on the list, heh heh.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Went out to Pioneers Park and used the cross country runner's loop for a cross course. Had a real fast start, then shortly had to dodge geese, ride through mud and back around again. While I was getting ready for the 2nd lap I see a couple of other 'crossers coming up the way - Nate and Jesse. We rode down to see if last year's course was rideable, but the grass is about a foot high and we settled for running hooligan's hill then returning to the runner's loop, where we did a couple more hot laps and called it good. Twas nice to have some company to help push my pace. I was a little down and sore in the quads and wasn't hitting it at race pace.
Prolly more valuable is riding behind either of these two and seeing how the technical hotshots handle the corners. Was fun.
This pic is from 2004. Last year the weather was perfect. Tony's in the red.
"If we're gonna use this course this year, they oughta start mowing now, tho, or we'll be calling it 'jungle cross'"(jesse)
Saturday, October 06, 2007
My sleep was interrupted last night just shy of 3 am.
"Oh my god! Oh my god! Jess! I'm so naked!"
This sounds like its right outside my window despite living on the third floor, so naturally, being the sort that always has to go see... I get up and peer out the window. Sure enough, crouched by a small wrought iron gate are three figures, one still wrestling with a shirt.
Amused and wondering if this performance is perhaps for my eldest son's benefit, I relocate to the deck for a clearer view of the proceedings.
Shortly thereafter, "Omigod! Omigod! Omigod!" cuts through the silence. Immediately followed by shrieks and the flapping of bare feet on the sidewalk. Three naked rubenesque girls jiggle their way as fast as they can for about a fifth of a block.
Headlights appear on the horizon. The girls crouch along the fence behind a tree with a 4 inch trunk diameter. I wonder if they can hear me laughing.
They make their way back to the starting position, gather their things and make their way, still naked across towards my building. As they near my deck, I call down, "Very entertaining."
Silence. They run to the darkest shadow of the building, dress without speaking and disappear. I tell ya, you just never know what might happen out here where the trees are small, the shrubbery meatball shaped and the grass -- astroturf perfect.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
So.... Rob sends me up a beautiful bike. No problem right? It's designed to accept both mtb and road wheels, so I get it set up and it shifts horribly. This on top of discovering how out of true and loose spoked my front wheel is sends me down to the shop where we determine to try a rear mtb wheel and see if that makes any difference. Reluctant to purchase anything, I tear down the tubeless I9's and conclude the day with 3 out of 4 bikes dismantled, "Stans" all over the kitchen floor, and still afoot as I was unable to get the cross tires inflated tubeless style. (Yeah, I know. Put tubes in, but I wanted to run them tubeless and got stuck on that.)
Awaken and take the bike, wheels, and tires to the shop. Maybe using their compressor I can get the tires right. Nope. I finally relent and add tubes. Tires are fine now, but despite adjustments, it still shifts poorly. Then, Eric solves the problem.
Turns out there's a little tab where the cable goes into the derailleur that MUST be positioned so that it is towards the back. If turned any other way, then it bumps a thing and ruins the shifting.
Woo hoo! Maybe my original plan of training on the tap and racing with my carbons will still come together. All I have to do is switch the tires and wheels all around again. Gah! Tinkering rates somewhere just above having my toe stubbed on the fun list. Oh well, racing in two weeks, you do what you gotta do, no? Figure I'll do it on my Monday rest day after hot laps on Sunday.
Towards the end of my workout on the home course, I run over the end of a wire and pop it exactly up into the derailleur cracking one dura-ace rear unit and bending the hangar way out. CRAP!!! I feel sick and contingency plans are in short supply.
Back to my local bike shop heroes. Nate has some special tools and after warning me several times it probably wouldn't work and all that, he gets it back in line and lo and behold the derailleur off my road bike works great. He then points out that my mtb wheels are so out of true that I really ought to do something about it. So, the tire slider game begins anew. Finally, as of yesterday, the bike is all together, two sets of wheel are true and I just have to put the mtb bike back together. Oh, I guess there's one more thing.....
Take the road tubulars off and put the Grifo Challengers on my carbons. Solvent, glue -- I'm sure it'll be an education. Oh, and did I mention I cracked the LED on my powertap computer and messed up my phone when they both slipped off my lap while sitting in the car?
(Now you know why my posts have sparse of late)
After joining, the screen will show an iTunes code valid for 5 free song downloads. Good till November.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
The US Cyclo-cross team stunned the world by taking three silver medals at the world championships this year. While remarkable, the medals won in this year's 'cross worlds weren't the first big results for the US in cyclo-cross. In 1999, Matthew Kelly won the gold in the junior men's race and Tim Johnson took bronze in the Espoirs. The next year Walker Ferguson took silver in the juniors, and the women have been competitive for years - Alison Dunlap and Ann Knapp scored top ten finishes for several years. Does this year's haul signal a new era in American cyclo-cross? Racer and writer, Peter Hymas, explores the potential for a US 'cross explosion.
Drive or ride? That was the question this morning as I filled my bag. Laptop, lunch.... uh... yep, extra clothes. Hell, I'm gonna ride and I'm takin' the fenderless Badger to boot. Can't get any surlier, so might as well take some grump out on the weather. Sheets of water sting my eyes. Tires slip on the paint strips. Puddles deep enough to swamp my shoes. Comedian cagers aim their tire splash -- as if I can get any wetter. I wonder if I should've double-bagged the laptop.
Two miles later, I cut across the grass grinning and toss a "good morning" at a momma with a rain cover on her baby carriage and a dog leash in the other hand. Another woman zips by on her scooter. I'm starting to feel pretty good. A little cheeky even. What a difference some adventure and an elevated heart rate can make. Ride your bike. Good for your mental health.
Oh, and better yet... someone had made coffee and left cinnamon rolls at the office. Not the cheapo ones either - authentic , classic Miller & Paine ones. Yum.