Quick and Dirty

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

Monday, November 27, 2006

Reports from the last few weeks-

I've been getting out there and pinning that number on for the last couple weeks, the races in the pacific northwest were pretty fun.

I stayed with my friend Dave Pearson and his family in Washington for the first few nights. Dave is nuts for cross, he's got like 4 bikes that are all set up the same. His daughter Ashley is 13 and she comes out and races as well, on saturday she totally rolled the other under 13 girls at Tacoma! Keep an eye on this girl, she has what it takes!

That runup is definitely not "kid-friendly" but Ashley managed to run it well enough, this was the first time she's had to shoulder her bike...

I had a great time with these guys. The host housing that I've had this year has been really awesome and is often more fun than the racing.

My Washington race... less spectacular than Ashley's, but not bad. I had my usual 5th row call-up and I picked a row on the right side. The gun went off and there was some elbows out, mine included. I don't think I was ever in the top 20, probably close to 30th place after the first time up the runup. I found myself in a group after that and did my best to race it out, I had to sprint Matt "Cyclo" Kraus for 31st and I got him. Lot's of other stuff happened in the race, but I've waited too long to do this report and I've forgotten most of it. I actually felt pretty good after things got going, I had good speed on the flats and I used the 12t cog on several parts of the course. I could notice the motor pacing from earlier in the week, which was cool. I was not going well up the run though- if that thing was about a third as long, this would be my favorite course.

Sunday race in OR was muddy, you've probably seen the photos and read the reports. This race was pretty awesome because it was ridable mud, with only a couple places that you had to run with the bike. It's actually a good thing that it was muddy because this course was flat as a pancake and if it was dry it would have been a really fast crit. Paul Sadoff was in the pits for me with his wife Holly and Allen Ott. These guys were there for me in WA as well and they were very helpful both days- Paul raced really well on sunday, finishing 9th! I think this is almost certainly his best ever result at a big race, and I think he was pretty psyched about it. Good ride Paul!

I lined it up in the 5th row again and the gun went off. I kept cool and I tried to move up while we were still on the pavement. As we hit the mud going full tilt, there was a pretty big crash to my right! I avoided it nicely and pinned it- Paul claims I came by in 15th place after the first lap! I tried to stay steady and not do anything rash, in these conditions you're basically racing against the course. Picking lines that don't bring you to a stop is very difficult, so I rode everything in the 46x25 or 23and just tried to power along. I wanted to keep my place, but in the next few laps there were a lot of really fast guys riding back by me who had been in the crash. On the last few times around, the course was getting considerably worse and there were more spots that you had to run. I managed to saw off a couple guys that I'd been racing with and finished it up. Sheesh, 29th.

This week I've been doing a lot of bike work for people and trying to get my act together and pay some bills, but I've had some good training too. By the way, does anyone need some work done on bikes? If you're in the area, drop me a line.

Yesterday was cccx at Prunedale. I was feeling chipper while warming up in the hours before the race and I like this course so I was optimistic about my chances for a win. I've won this race before and I like it when it comes to a sprint on the uphill pavement. Oops, there's Barry Wicks. Now I'm feeling optimistic about a 2nd place finish... My teammate Dave Wyandt was also on the line. So I figured that at best, he and I could ride ourselves inside out and maybe throw some attacks at Barry so he had something to chuckle about before he just rides off for the win.

We hear the whistle and off we go. Once we get to the end of the pavement, I got to the front and hit the gas. Barry and dave are there, so I just tried to go hard and ride the course. This was not to be, as I slid out crazily in a loose rocky corner and landed on my side and hand. This sucked, and now Barry and Dave were going away and I was with Cameron Falconer and some others. I immediately hit the gas and rode back up to Barry and Dave. I tore a big flap of skin off my palm too, which hurt, as did my ribs.

Barry was riding the short burly runup, for sport. I was behind him for the first one and I ran easily past him- that Barry, such a showboat. He tried it each lap, but I think he only cleaned it about half the time. In this kind of an easy race Barry has time for tricks, kartwheels, somersaults and other whimsical diversions so that he can pass the time more easily.

I had to switch bikes coming into the second lap, and the pits at this race is on the paved start-finish so I got gapped again for that. This time, Barry actually eased up to let me back on. Unfortunately, I was kind of rattled from my crash and I was riding like a crazy person through the turns. My chain got bounced off to the outside of my chainring and I had to dismount at a stupid place and run a bit before I could pedal it back on- now I'm truly gapped by the guys and I'm feeling spent from my other bridging efforts. I rode the rest of the race at a sporting pace so as to get my training in and not look like a quitter. Dave tried attacking Barry at one point, and after getting to see nice Barry, he was introduced to mean Barry as he paid for his efforts. Dave kept riding strong and came in second. My 3rd place got me my entrance and gas money, so that's nice!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Simple Simon was a pie-man.

At this time I'd like to raise a glass to my friend and teammate, Simon Vickers. He and I have had some times on the road this year, and the season's not done yet. We've both gotten our asses kicked in some fairly exotic locales like New York, Massachusets and Colorado- not to mention here in California.

I've personally had more races than I care to admit that have ended in some rather dark and unhappy moods. Simon has suffered in a similar fashion, and I think sharing that misery has been helpful for the both of us. In these situations, we've managed to make fun of one another until we both got a good laugh at the others expense and opened beers 'till we no longer cared.

Simon's currently got me beat as far as reasons to feel bad about one's self- he took a pretty savage crash-up in CO and is still off the bike. Word is that he won't be racing at this weekend's Velo Bella race and is not planning on attending the USGP races in the northwest. I'm hopeful that he'll be back on his bike soon and that he can find some good condition for nationals!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nobody wins when you're playin' Bloody Knuckles.

Actually, the course tape pole won this round. I was ski-racing one of these a bit close and re-opened a scar from earlier this year. I should get some gloves.

I went deep yesterday, as promised. I had a good start, probably top 25 and settled in carefully to a pace I could deal with without blowing sky high. I faded back to about 40th at the worst and battled back in the later part and won a sprint for 31st. All in all, it was a pretty good race considering the brutal lack of oxygen in the air.

I really liked yesterdays course. It was truly a classic track with all the best features that a UCI event should have. Lots of grass with straight and twisty parts, some fast off camber, a paved climb, 1 set of barriers into a short runup, a grassy climb and a wicked sand section. It was very windy, which did a lot to shape the race at the front and throughout the rest of the field. If this thing was about 1000' lower it would be one of my favorites!

I'm pretty glad to be back home, I'm feeling pretty beat down yet again. I feel lucky to have survived this weekend after my goofy crash, Simon's hard crash and worst of all, Josie Beggs gnarly collision with a spectator. From what I know, a kid jumped out in front of her and she went down hard on her face. She broke her cheekbone in 4 places and needs reconstructive surgery. What a shitty freak accident- I have nightmares about this kind of thing and I sure hope Josie gets good care and has a quick recovery.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Well, if you're going to have a cyclocross race at altitude...

...why not just have one underwater? Because that's what racing at altitdue feels like when you live at sea level. I got off to an ok start after getting a 4th row line up. I found out how valuable my measly 2 UCI points are since they actually called everyone else up in order of registration and Simon was #87... this was only the start of Simons troubles.

I went along for a couple laps till gradually... painfully... I'm going backwards. I'm getting passed by gangs of 4 and 5 guys and no matter what I do I just can't get going. I keep looking down and seeing my chain on the 25t cog. There was a surprising number of people yelling at me from the sidelines which was encouraging, but in spite of this I did a little math and figured that if I'm looking at no UCI points, no series points and no money- it's time to head for the mini-van. I had a grim 10 or 15 minutes in the van after doing everything I could to resist flinging my bike up into a tree.

Little did I know that Simon had fared way worse than I did. He got claimed by the same whoopty that got me yesterday but he ended up with a mild concussion, a dislocated finger and a bruised up back! He is pretty jacked up tonight, you can get the full scoop at teamrockblogster.blogspot.com/. That poor son of a bitch is definitely not going to be pinning a # on tomorrow.

So anyway, we're watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles and kicking back. I'm planning on definitely finishing tomorrow's sweet underwater race, barring disaster.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rocky mountain high!

Simon and I went to pre-ride the Xilinx USGP track today and although the course is mostly flat and pretty straight forward, I still almost bit off more than I could chew...

We went over to the course with our gracious host Greg Keller and got in a couple of slow laps for inspection. The course is mostly really bumpy turf and some good bits of pavement. There's a cool part that has some whooptys and a mini-berm turn. It's just enough to pitch you into the air if you're going full speed. There are a few little fly-over bridges that were being built to allow the course to pass over some ditches.

So after a getting warmed up, I was following Simon and Greg into the whoops and it looked like Simon was getting some sweet air as he rolled through, so I thought I'd pop a little ollie as I rolled over the biggest one. All of a sudden I was pitched ass-over and getting piled up in the landing! I guess the takeoff was a little bumpy and I got pretty stuffed up as a result. I took my time picking up, checking myself over and looking for damage... I am ok, but I broke my front shifter. I hurt my ribs kind of too, but I don't think tha will hinder me in the race. Luckily, it's stuck in the big ring so I think it will work tomorrow as long as I set the limit screws on my front derailleur so it can't shift down to the 39t ring unexpectedly. I'll ride the other bike and hope for no more problems...

Afterwards, I realized how lucky I was. Two other guys had crashes there, one breaking his collarbone and Simon actually rode out a sketchy nose wheely as he landed right in front of me and nearly ate it himself.

It's better to be lucky than good, and at least I was lucky today. I'm really hoping I get a bit more good luck throughout the weekend...