Quick and Dirty

Hey sicko, get your mind out of the gutter. This is about bike racing. And some other stuff.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

This weekend...

...was a buttload of fun. I'm feeling fit and I've had some great training during the last few weeks at home. I've gotten to do some motor pacing as my mid week "hard workout" and I've had some nice rest. Next weekend is the next USGP races and I think I'm more ready (more ready than at Gloucester, anyway...).

Saturday was fun, it was the first edition of a hopefully annual race that was held at White's Hill Elementary School in Fairfax. I ride past this school just about every day, so it was kind of cool to race near my house. The course was a lot of fun, it incorporated some soccer fields, dirt roads and twisty paved school-campus terrain that is always good to have in a cross race. There was a rather small field assembled for the mens "A" race, maybe 15 or so. This included my HRS-Rock Lobster temmates Simon Vickers, Aaron Kereluk and Rob Evans as well as local boy Cameron Falconer. Casey Kerrigan blew the whistle and off we went- Simon and I rode easily away from the field by the end of the first lap. We rode like gentlemen for the first 35 minutes or so, Simon slowed his pace as I bobbled a technical off-camber section and I shared a bottle with him that someone handed me. We went along at a decent clip but found time for conversation... But I got to thinking with 3 to go... Simon's not going to let me win this without a fight, so I might as well throw down the gauntlet. I attacked as we got to the soccer fields and slowly but surely opened a gap. With 2 to go I was thinking he was popped but kept the gas on just in case and on the last lap I just made sure not to crash. It's been a while since I won a race and it felt good. Our HRS-Rock Lobster team took the top 4 spots on the day, so it went well for everyone! Shelly Olds also was 2nd to Rachel Lloyd in the womens race, another fine performance.

Here's a teeny-tiny picture of me doing a wheelie through the finish...

Today didn't go so well. I got to the Velo Bella Surf City race in Watsonville a little late and really only did one easy lap as a warmup... I thought the race started at 2:30, not 2! Oh well, I got a warmup yesterday. I didn't get a call-up since I haven't done any races in this series, so I was second row in a field of 40 or soof Nor-Cal's finest including both Jaques-Maynes (dressed as each other, I wonder how many times they've done that over the years), Barry Wicks and Justin Robinson as well as all of HRS-Rock Lobster's hardest hitters. The start was a really short bit of pavement (50 feet? probably less.) into a left hander onto dirt and then into the barriers. As Casey blew the whistle yet again, I got chopped within a few pedalstrokes by... Hooptie? Well, not exactly chopped, but his spokes or wheel or something caught my front brake caliper and shoved it down into my wheel renering my bike useless! Once I figured this out and ran to the pits (which were pretty close by) the field was gone! So, with a functional bike I did the only thing I could... I got into the pain bag and I stayed there for a good 3 laps. I rode myself inside out, passing people as safely as I could till I ended up with the internet's own Olaf Vanderhoot, who was wearing a bumble bee outfit. We went back and forth for a while, but he seemed full of vim and vigor so I sat on his wheel for a lap to catch my breath. At this point someone said we were riding for 6th place, which was a surprise. So I set off to try and catch up with Simon and Justin, who I could see up the road a bit. Plus, there's no way Hernando's beating me when he's got a fucking bee suit on. I could never catch on to them, but I rode around for 6th pretty well.

Today's race wasn't too glorious but it was great training for next week since the start will be very fast and I won't have a good call-up with my 2 UCI points. All in all, I think I'm on track for some good racing if I can keep my shit together. I've got no idea what the CO races will be like but I'm game for whatever and I'm travelling with Simon so I'm sure it will be an entertaining trip, I'll try and keep more on top of the blog and bring the entertainment to YOU.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

OK, I take back all the bad things I said about 'cross racing.

It's pretty darned fun when you feel fit and can battle for a win. I felt killer today, and although I didn't exactly battle for the win, I like to think I could have if things had gone just a little differently...

The start went good, I jumped easily to second wheel from the second row. Right away the group of 5 riders formed and included myself, John Funke, Mark and Chance Noble and Justin Robinson. For the first 3 laps we did take turns making it fast, but noone could really comit to breaking the group down further. I felt good so I tried a couple times.

We all resigned ourselves to riding around together at about the halfway mark, it was feeling pretty casual. Now and then someone would punch it, but to no avail. With 5 laps to go, I think, I went into the pits area on Justin's wheel and he hit the gas out of the corner. As he did that, my rear tire let go and I started doing donuts... I ended up on my ass. My right side remount came in handy as I quickly got on my bike. Mark came around me and promptly stuffed it into the very next corner, about 30' up the track. I t-boned his bike and got tangled up for a few seconds. Once I got him out of the way I pinned it for as long as I could, but Justin was gone. This is how the race finished up with Justin winning, me second and Mark 3rd. Justin's gap was up to almost 30 seconds at one point I think, and I brought it down to under 10, so I feel good about that.

The thing that sucks is that I used my less expensive challenge tires, a grifo 30 in front and a file tread in the back and that rear tire was problematic in the dry flat grass. That rear file tread is why I crashed. I totally looped out the same way when I was warming up- I went into a big sweeping right and ended up pointing the wrong way on the course! So I was pretty much ready for it in the race, but it took me down at the worst moment. Oh well, if I'd run the good tires I probably would have gotten a peice of glass or a nail through them and not even finished. My teammate Larry Bullard got an old rusty nail through his tubular- in one side and out the other!

It was a super fun race and an awesome sunny norcal day. It was fun to race at noon and get to watch the Womens race after. The big news of the day is that my teammate Shelly Olds won the womens race, beating Rachel Lloyd. Rachel did have a mechanical problem which gave Shelly her opportunity, but Shelly raced like a pro and sealed the deal with several fast and solid laps.

I think motor pacing the other day was just the thing to sharpen my fitness, I feel like I can race again and that's a relief after the last few weeks.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Home turf!

So, I'm missing the Granogue/Wissahickon east coast weekend, but I'm getting a much deserved one-race weekend. I really love those races but I lit my matches at the last 3 week's east coast offerings and I'm damn glad to be back on the west coast, thank you very much! I'm looking forward to patronizing a Pilarcitos event and having a good time with the gang this weekend, UCI points be damned.

I've been feeling pretty good, generally, now that I'm back. I got to do a bit of motor pacing yesterday and I was really given'er, so hopefully that will help sharpen me up for the coming weeks. Nothing like the old 46x11 for an hour or so to hone the form. I was a little puky at the end so I know I did it right.

Next weekend I'll be in town as well, I can't wait to see what kind of course we get for that new Fairfax race!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Oops. Back to sucking at 'cross.

I don't know what was going on today, I couldn't get out of my own way. I had a shitty start and wound up riding along in about 10th-11th place for the first few laps. Then guys started riding up to me and having their way with me. I just couldn't climb worth a fart and there was a signifigant and windy climb again today so I was getting dropped each time up that. I was really pissed when my legs came around on the last lap- I started going fast and it didn't do me any good because the others were way out of range. I also punctured a Dugast while pre-riding the course.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Alright! I now have 2 UCI points.

Today went pretty well and I achieved my goal of a top 10 finish, I was 9th. The race was held on a tough but very straight-forward course. It was a paved, headwindy climb, some barriers, a steep thingy that was just ridable a mud bog and lots of swoopy dirt roads that ended up feeling like singletrack because of the path that was worn in the leaves and pine needles.

I started hard and got myself up into the top 10 and was finally able to stay there for the entire race. I got to battle with Jeremy Powers, Johnny Sundt, Mark McCormack for the first few laps, and as things sorted out I ended up with Justin Spinnelli, Matt Kraus and another guy that I don't know. We were basically battling for 10th by that point so I am very happy that I was able to seal the deal in the final laps. Only Justin was able to beat me at the end (which I'm sure will thrill e-richie!).

I'm hopeful for tomorrow, sounds like the course might not be as rough with the hard climb. I felt really fast on the few technical parts that ther were and I'm pretty sure that my new bikes sizing and geometry is a big advantage now that I'm totally accustomed to it.

This is a big confidence booster for me after having a couple really tough weeks in the east and sure enough "the form" seems to be coming around. I didn't want to race at all today so that's good. I'll be glad to get back home!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Back in Maine!

This week is feeling very relaxed- I'm staying with the family who owned the first bike shop I worked at when I was 19. These guys are great and they're like a second family to me so I'm having a lot of fun.

I've had some good training here, I rode out to the house I grew up in that is in the town of Appleton yesterday. It is always strange to go back by there, lot's of stuff has changed but there's still many reminders of my childhood. I rode my cross bike with some really big slick tires so it was the perfect setup for exploring some dirt roads and old shortcuts that I used to love to ride. I felt like I really stuck out since I was wearing my rather bright and noticable RHVilla/Montano Velo uniform. It's not like the bay area where people are used to seeing bike riders... I got some funny looks from people that I'm pretty sure didn't recognize me!

The weather has been perfect for the last few days, sunny and about 65. The trees are just turning color so there are many psychedelic views of the countryside. Today is overcast and there appears to be some rain on the way, but I think it will be clear for this weekend's racing.

I'll go over to the good old Camden Snowbowl for some cyclocross practice this afternoon. The Snowbowl is a tiny ski area that is owned by the town and is actually an incredible place for mountain biking. It's totally riddled with trails that were all made by bike riders over the years and it's super tight and technical. I'm tempted to borrow a mountain bike and get some trail time in, but I don't think I'll have time during this trip. I'll poke around on some lower trails when I'm there today, but the good singletrack is just too rough to be enjoyed on a cross bike, especially one with good racing tires...

I'm optimistic about my chances for the coming weekend, looking at who's pre-reg'd I should be able to get some points at these races. You really never know though, I have learned not to take any race for granted and although I feel like I've gotten better over the last few weeks I'm not going to make any brash claims just yet!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Too much fun

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A thorough braising

Thursday my knees felt better so Lisa and I went for a bike ride. Me on my new Kona Queen Ann and Lisa on her brand new Bianchi Volpe. This is a huge upgrade for Lisa in the way of bikes, her current bike is my old green Stumpjumper from about 1998. Being the ambitious person she is, Lisa thought we should ride up to the Buttermilks road (about 1500 ft elevation gain). Sparkling sun, 80º weather, a strong tailwind, blooming rabbit brush and twinkling aspens made the ride very truly enjoyable. We stopped for a while in a copse of trees near a babbling brook for a break then rolled down the hill back home.

On the way home we stopped and picked apples and pears in a friends yard.

That's not me, it's Lisa dressed as me.

Then we went to Keough Hot Springs. This place hasn't changed much since the 1920's. I think it might still be on its original coat of paint. You can swim in the 85º warm pool, or braise in the 104º hot pool.

To top off a nearly perfect day we made a gourmet pizza dinner followed by fresh apple pie.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Do not read this if you like cyclocross.

Today started as well as it could have- thanks to Brent Chapman holding our spots on the line we ended up getting a 4th row start in a field of 107 starters. The gun went off and away we went.

Simon and I were riding together for much of the race, in probably around 25th-30th group. Simon got a front flat and rode to the pits for his other bike, and after that he said he felt terrible and couldn't get back. I rode really hard to not get dropped and I did what I could to make some passes.

I had some light cramping throughout the race and started feeling pretty shitty on the last lap. I got dropped from the group that I was in which included Ryan Leech, Chris McGovern and Johs Huseby and Jeremy Powers. I tried not to go too slow after that, and noone caught me. I doubt I was in the top 30.

On the last lap I was getting the blackouts kind of and feeling pretty bonked. I felt like a dead skeleton that was buried in the graveyard down the road in 1659. It's tough to describe exactly how shitty I felt after the race. I could have puked had there been anything in my stomach. I was in a daze and I was disappointed in my race, although not as pissed as Simon.

I'm pretty tired of sucking at cross. I absolutely went inside out for a 30 something place finish today. I've forgotten exactly why I've spent all my money and time for this shit, for the last few years. If you're not even competitive in the race, it's not really that sweet. I feel like I've been working really, really hard for the last few years and if things don't turn around this year I will have to do some hard thinking about this crap.

Enough crying, I'm off to pedal the trainer for a while and try and prepare for tomorrow.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A different kind of Training

While Josh is off training and racing on the East Coast, I've headed to the East Side of the Sierras for my own kind off training. I started with jacking my knees Monday night in the climbing gym and not being able to walk on Tuesday. Fortunately I was able to drive and drove over to Bishop, CA. Stopped in Tulomne and watched clouds float around Tenaya Peak and Half Dome. I'm staying with my friend Lisa B. who recently became a homeowner. Her house is fantastic, it was built in 1912 and all of the woodwork, doors, floors and windows are original.

Wednesday was a slow restful day, my knees felt better but were still not up for anything active. So we muckled around, played with the dog, hung out in the sun and drank lots of water. In the late afternoon we headed up the grade to Mammoth for a little stress relief.

Afterwards I did a bit of shopping at the best mountaineering shop ever, Mammoth Mountaineering Supply. If you're ever in the area and need something stop in and buy it there. They have everything you need as well as the latest and greatest for rock climbing, backpacking, telemark, randonee, and nordic skiing. Once I ran out of money, we headed over to my friend Dave's house and I scared the crap out of him by banging on his kitchen window while he was engrossed in removing the meat from a chicken carcass. The carcass had been well picked over and a large bowl of cashews was not enough to eat so we went out for dinner at Roberto's. Dinner at Roberto's has never failed to produce a good case of the refried bean bloat. I was not disappointed this time around. Roberto's has the BEST flour tortilla chips, if you are ever there make sure to ask for them.

That's all for now, I'll fill everyone in on the rest of the week later!


Primed up for Gloucester

Simon, Karin (woman that we're staying with who's house-sitting at the house we're at) and I did a good ride today to the course for some inspection and preparatory training. I felt fairly good as I did a few hard efforts, so I'm optimistic about the racing in the coming days.

I'm preparing myself for a full hour of battle- I don't expect to get isolated much when the course is so short and I doubt I'll be better than 5th row or so at the start. It sould be elbow to elbow the whole way- this is it, the first big-time event of the year and I'm sure there will be 90+ starters. It will be fun (in a way...), this is a great course and the weather is expected to be nice. I can only imagine there will be tons of spectators so I plan on just getting in the pain bag and gritting it out. There's really no reason I can't be top-20 if I keep cool and don't do anything dumb. I think my bad luck from last weekend is behind me and I'm ready for a clean fight.

We're planning a nice relaxing evening here at the house, I got a DVD of the movie Super Troopers from Troy Wells (instead of gas money... bitch!) last weekend and so we'll watch that one. It's pretty much my new favorite movie, it's friggin' hilarious.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The wayward cyclocross gypsies move onward...

Simon and I stayed at his friends house on Plum Island last night, that was another scenic and unique place that I never expected to visit! We've surfed some couches on this trip, that's for sure. We got to have a nice walk on the beach at sunset, that was nice..

Today we travelled onward to another gracious host's house in Manchester by the Sea. We've really mangaed to stick to the more affluent, luxurious areas on this trip...

We'll try and get over to the course tomorrow and get some training in. We haven't been able to ride for the last couple days, so at least we're well rested.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mid-week relaxation.

Simon and I managed to escape from the Hamptons via some country roads, 3 ferry trips and some time on the interstate. We got to Boston at around 10pm last night and dropped off the rental van with some help from Matt Kraus, our competitor and host for the week. It is good to be in Boston, we've got some time on our hands for exploring and visiting- My aunt and uncle live just around the corner in Cambridge so we'll be meeting them for dinner tonight I think.

I got to talk to Barb this morning and it sounds like Kitty went to the vet the other day and it turns out that she's fat and has to go on a diet. She also may need to have the rest of her back teeth pulled out. Poor kitty!

We're about to go and get some training in, Matt is taking us on the "lexington battlegrounds" loop, it sounds like trails and pavement so that should be fun.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Southampton, day 2

Today was a bit better than yesterday. I felt pretty ok when I woke up and warmup was easy enough so I figured I was ready to go. I didn't kill myself at the start and was about 15 deep when we hit the hill. I kept cool because I knew people would be crashing and messing up since it rained last night and this morning and there were some fairly tricky places on the track.

Sure enough, I found myself in the top ten after a lap or so after I rode around some flailers. As the laps went on, I lost a few spots but I managed to keep the top 10 in sight and was still feeling fairly chipper. Sure enough I saw Simon coming up in my rear view mirror with Ryan Leech in tow so I thought we could have a little fun at Ryan's expense. As they made contact, Simon and I hatched a plan and we started taking turns on Ryan.

At this point, I was feeling good and I wa pretty sure that we could drop the hell out of Ryan and bring back Matt (cyclo)Kraus in order to get at least one of us in the points.

Unfortunately, Simon ended up accidentally chopping me as we went into a corner/dip and I rolled my front tire... What a suck! I've never rolled a tire so I didn't see that one coming. I popped the rolled part back on as I was on the runup, but I had to nurse it to the pits for a bike change. I got passed up by a couple guys during this fiasco and ended up battling with a dude that I thought I'd totally whipped... He got me by the end and I was 16th. Simon held it together for 11th.

The Timberwolf (Dave Wyandt) was our HRS-Rocklobster team rider of the day, riding into 17th place after a rather discouraging ride yesterday. Dave was as bummed as I was after our dismal performances yesterday so it's good to see that all of us improved on day 1's rough start. Top 20 for all mobsters in attendance!

I felt a lot better today and I feel that I'm on the upswing. Hopefully I'll be good for next weekend. I'd better be, since I'm not getting a call-up! Bitch!