Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Wrap-up

 

Woah.  Haven't been here in a long, long while.

In a strange mix of circumstances, life got busy all at once and when that happens the little, less important things have a tendency to fall off the plate.  All about priorities right?

So why the sudden silence?  Well, work for one thing.  WW46 (that's the second week of November for all the non-Intel folks,) was the week that the almost year long software project I was the lead QA engineer for released.  Unfortunately the release was on a weekend and overran what sounded to be an amazing PIR Cross Crusade event.  I missed this race last year with my bum knee, and I really wanted to do it this year.  Oh well.

What else got in the way?  Well, about that same time I was handed the reigns of the Portland Velo Racing Team.  Ty Lambert, after 3 years of being the DS for the team needed to step down and was confident enough to put one of the most successful powers in OBRA racing in my hands.  It's a humbling experience in many ways, but mostly because of the sheer volume of things I took on in the space of a few weeks.  Ty did an amazing job laying the foundation for our success and I can only hope to continue on with what he's done.  I have some big plans that have been in motion for about a month now and I'm happy that things are going well.

So here I sit, on the eve of the eve of the decade.  10 years ago I was busting my ass getting ready for the Y2K rollover.  5 years ago I was hanging out with Traci and our best friend Irena, watching movies, shopping, and eating the amazing creations that two very talented cooks put together.  Last year, I was sitting on the couch, probably icing my knee post-surgery and playing video games.   So what did I do on the bike this year?  We'll, lets take a look!

Season started December 29th, 2008, which was my first ride post surgery.  It lasted a whole 35 minutes, and I averaged 35w and just a hair under 16mph.  I remember how bad those first few pedal strokes hurt since the range of motion on the pedal stroke was more than the range of motion my knee had at the time.

The end of the season is a bit ambiguous.  My last race was Krugers on the 22nd of November.  It was pretty crazy and very very muddy.  We'll call the last ride of the season this past Saturday, so December 26th 2009.  Of the 363 days in my 2009 season, I have 205 PT files.  Figure there were probably 20 or so rides I did on bikes that didn't have my PT attached to them, be it CX or track.  I'm going to estimate that I rode 225 days this year.  Crazy, but not uncommon in these parts.

WKO has me down for 6055 miles during that time frame.  At one point I thought I had flipped 10k miles this season, but I just now realized I didn't reset my ODO on the PT at the start of the season.  Oops!  I'll estimate another 500 miles for the non PT rides and guess I logged about 6600 or so miles this season.  Enough to cover the round trip between my home and our friend's Danny and Irena house in Stow, MA.  Along the way I can dip down south in KS and swing through Abilene and get a Clif bar and a new water bottle from my friend Julie.

Total wattage in kJ recorded: 191154.

Total calories burnt: 45730, or approximately 228 pints of Guinness.

Total time in saddle: 14 days, 22 hours, 34 minutes, 52 seconds.  No wonder my hips were sore more of the year!  Average speed for the year was 17mph.  Gotta love those recovery miles.

Weight at the start of the season was 192lbs, weight at the end was 186lbs.  I floated around 185-187 most of the season.

Longest day in the saddle, 6hrs 41mim 41s, spanning 65 miles.  This was the day of De Ronde Portlandia which had me climb two of the steepest climbs in the Portland area at approximately 26% grade and 28% grade.  That's about a foot of elevation gain for every 3 feet you move forward.

Longest single ride was 103mi, which took place at the Vine Ride with some teammates.  Was a good day on the road.

Highest mileage month was April with 833 miles.  Hardest month from a TSS/mile rate was June, however April through August was all very intense from a TSS/mile standpoint, which is probably why I felt like crap at the start of September, which was my lowest month in terms of training.

Highest recorded HR was 189BPM on a random Saturday ride.  However, I'm going to guess that my highest seasons HR was probably during the Kilo I raced at the track.  Didn't have any measure for that event but it took me almost 10minutes to recover from that effort and I thought I was going to blackout at the end.

Highest recorded speed was 51.4mph.  No clue what I was descending on that day.  Fastest flatland sprint was 41mph out at PIR.

Mean Max Power: (Max historical wattage shown at any time.) Last season vs this season:

2008

Time Wattage w/kg
1s 1375 16.35
5s 1315 15.64
10s 1196 14.22
20s 928 11.04
30s 844 10.04
1m 640 7.61
5m 343 4.08
10m 314 3.73
60m 256 3.04
120m 216 2.57

2009

Time Wattage w/kg Difference
1s 1472 17.41 97w
5s 1411 16.69 96w
10s 1257 14.87 61w
20s 1072 12.68 114w
30s 835 9.88 -9w
1m 605 7.61 -35w
5m 349 4.13 6w
10m 320 3.78 6w
60m 244 2.89 -12w
120m 220 2.60 4w


I increase what was already a pretty good top end.  I felt very strong when sprinting this year.  I figure next year I'll break the mythical 1500w barrier.  My 1m wattage was probably higher this year than last since I was just stronger all around, but I didn't really ever have the need for a 1m burst other than my Kilo which wasn't tracked for power.  I know I increased my FTP over the season as well.  Last 20m effort I did was around 297w.

I had a few goals for 2009, with the biggest being "come back from knee surgery".  In April, I won my first of three races this season (two out at PIR and one out at the track.)  So I called that goal completed.  I also wanted to get my upgrade to Cat 3, which happened in May. 

I wanted to be successful against the 1/2/3 field out at PIR.  I raced in that field 4 times with 2 DNF's (1 mechanical, 1 due to a crash that I was behind and helped with the aftermath of.)  I took a 6th and a 4th in the other two finishes so I know I can hold my own in the sprints out there.  Now if the rest of the field would just learn to race safely...

I wanted to do the TTT this year, and I did.  The experience was fun, but painful as all hell.  I sold my TT bike roughly 1 week later.  I am not a TT rider by any means.  If I have to do a TT in the future, I'll slap clip-on's to my road bike and call it good.

I wanted to be a stronger rider on the team, and I was.  I will never ever  be the strongest climber on the team, nor will I even remotely be considered a climber.  I did however manager to hang on to every team ride this year, and often times I was an instigator on the road rather than pack fodder. 

I wanted to race more on the velodrome this year.  Unfortunately I didn't manage that.  I only raced once this year, but I made it count by winning a state championship in the kilo.

I wanted to be competitive this year in Cross.  I started the season in the Master C's.  I finished 3 races in that group with 2 top 10 finishes, including 7th out of 190 at Alpenrose.  That got me a call-up the rest of the season for Crusades!  Rainer I was looking at another top 10 finish before I flatted.  After that I upgraded to the Master B's and promptly started falling apart.   Next season I look to come in a bit fresher and hope for a better showing.  I'll probably also try to race more of the smaller races vs Crusades.  They are just getting to big for their own good.

My 2010 goals are pretty simple.  I want to gain more fitness, I want to get down to 175lbs by April, and I want to help the team become stronger.  These goals are very obtainable and I look forward to taking the necessary strides to achieve them.   I may toss in a stage race if I'm feeling frisky, but it would be solely to support one of the guys on the team.

2010 will probably provide is share of twists and turns and opportunities, and before we know it, we'll be talking about 2011!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mixed weekend caps off a mixed season

 

Astoria.  For those outside of the racing community, this small coastal town in Northwest corner of Oregon may only be known as the filming location of the 80’s movie “The Goonies”, but for the last few years its hosted a 2 day sufferfest/party of Cyclecross racing at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds.  Last year we had a great time and we were looking forward to this years event since the start of the CX season.

Unfortunately building something up in your mind often leads to letdown.

I took the day off on Friday to allow for plenty of time to clean the house and pack our stuff.  Traci’s workday just got more and more hectic as it progressed, but we still managed to leave the house exactly at the time I wanted to.  Her small-car Tetris packing ability never ceases to amaze me.  In the end, the Mini was stuffed to the gills with 2 days worth of racing gear for both of us, our mud bin, beer, food, 1 spare wheel, and 15 costumes for the team.  We both agreed that we were going to try and enjoy the weekend rather than race hardcore so the trainer / trainer wheel, and spare front wheel all stayed home.

A few of us booked reservations this year at a condo in downtown Astoria.  Traci and I were the first to arrive at 4pm.  The accommodations were beautiful albeit a bit cramped as 15 of us bunked down in a condo with beds for 8.  (There were a few very sore housemates in the morning.)

Over the next few hours the rest of the folks staying started to show up, and the weather progressively got worse.  Weather reports were continuously being updated on iPhones until at about 11pm a full blown storm was battering Astoria.  Sustained 20-30mph winds with gusts of 50mph we recorded, and our small condo perched on one of Astoria’s many piers was taking the full brunt of it.  The wind howled and whipped rain against the building.  Gusts slammed nearby doors and rattled the windows.  Every time I started to doze off another noise woke me up.  Eventually around 1:30am, the storm blew through and I fell asleep.

The next morning our weary crew departed to the fairgrounds for Day 1 of racing.  We hauled the first trip of our gear up from the parking lot to find someone had decided to pitch a quarter of their camping tent under one of the team shelters next to the course.   No amount of polite asking, dirty looks, or obviously directed “who the fuck put their campsite in the middle of our tent?” like comments prompted them move their stuff.  Srsly?

Since we arrived later that normal, race time crept up on me.  Before I knew it, I was on a borrowed trainer, doing a half hearted warm up.  Ok, I’ll admit really all I was doing was getting the embrocation on my back activated.  The course was super muddy, similar to how WashCo was last week.  Since the Fango’s had issues the previous week I decided to use Traci’s Bulldog front wheel and swap the rear cassette off my tubular to my Bulldog clincher so I would have better traction and not crash.. in theory.

The 8’s drew last position on Saturday which was good on a few levels.  First I didn’t have to put any “I’m in the front so I should at least try and race hard” pressure on myself.  Second, I got free beer for my effort.  Third, I wouldn’t get in anybodies way as we went through the course.  The whistle blew, and the race started.  For the next 42 minutes I played “lets see how muddy I can get without actually crashing.”  Answer, pretty muddy. 

At the end of the race I was bummed about how I was feeling because Astoria was a course I probably could have done well at if I was at 100%.  The climbs were hard, but not grinding like Rainer or Sherwood.  The sloppy mud sections I could probably power through, if I would have been able to put power into the drive train consistently.  At least I got some really good course recon that I was able to pass on to my friends and teammates who were racing later. 

A couple hours sitting around in the cold / damp made my legs and back hurt and by the time we made our way back to the condo, I wasn’t a happy camper.  A good hot shower, my SKINS and a nice beer did go a long way to improving my spirits though.

The group stayed in on Saturday night, choosing to have a big sit down dinner rather than going out on Halloween.  Traci and I cooked dinner for the team, and by 9pm the number of folks nodding off in the family room equaled those awake.  By 10 we were all in bed.

Sunday we awoke to a thin fog hanging over the shoreline.  We ate and packed the cars and cleaned the condo for our departure.  Sunday was a new day with a new race.  Costumes where the theme and many of us decided to ride as “Guy Fawkes” aka “The V for Vendetta Guy”.  It was a clever costume and had a great impact when there were a number of us all together.  Next year however, no masks. :P

Today was about fun for me.  I carried with me to the start line a bag of treats (candy) and tricks (plastic mice and skull rings and severed fingers).  Also included in the bag was a hand-down of epic proportions. I had tipped Cap’n Dave off earlier to be ready for it.   The whistle blew and I stayed with the front of the race until the first set of barriers.. where I promptly found Dave, pulled over and unzipped the bag.  Inside was a 4 foot Skull and Spine Halloween beer funnel and a 22 of Rogue “Dead Guy” ale.  The crowd erupted in cheers but sadly at this point no photos have surfaced of the hand-down.

I remounted my bike and sprinted off, quickly catching Javad and Mike who were waiting for me.  The three of us rode easy together in identical costume’s getting a great deal of cheers from spectators.  In the orchard I bit it on the off camber section and ran my bike to the next set of people, tossing out candy and prizes to those cheering.  We rode on, over the barriers and up the road, next stop was going to be the OBRA tent.

My chain didn’t make it that far.  With an audible snap and rattle of metal on pavement, my chain exploded into 3 pieces.  I passed the bag off to Javad and Mike with the instructions to “carry on the mission”.  I’m happy to report they did to the joy of the crowd.

I shoulder my crippled bike for the fourth time this season and set off at a run.  Terry Camp saw me from the bridge and yelled down that she’d radio ahead to the Shimano pits to be ready for me.  Through the Start / Finish I ran, barely able to see through my skewed mask.  You know you’ve had a lot of mechanicals this season when Splinter actually singles you out.

Eventually I make it to the pits where the tech is waiting.  Three minutes later I’m back in business rolling to the barriers for the second time.  There are coffins now, and a pumpkin.  I run through the barriers and b-line for the pumpkin where I jump on it and smash it to bits.  More crowd cheering and I’m laughing along with them.  The course is slick and slow through the stables and orchard, and I practice corning with a foot out of the pedals in these areas.  It’s something I had never done and will be adding to my skill set next year hopefully.

The crowd continues to go nuts by the barriers, and I try to entertain them.  Iron cross bike carries, dances on top of the coffins, its all in the name of fun.

My race ends early since I’m a lap down and in dead last. I roll directly to the bike wash.  There isn’t a line, one of the few benefits of having a really bad race from a placing perspective.

I have a lot of time the remainder of the day and on the long drive home to reflect upon the weekend and the CX season as a whole.  I had a lot of anticipation leading up to both, and in the end there was some moments of brilliance and delight in a series of unfortunate events, disappointments, and mishaps.   It could be the reality of it all or it could be my tired attitude and sore body after a very long racing season. Time will tell.

Recovery and reflection this week.  Plans are being made, goals being set, announcements are starting to leak out.  Next season is right around the corner.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where did this week go?

 

It's Thursday night, a mere 16 hours before we head to Astoria and I'm just now getting to my write up of this last weekend.  It's been a busy hectic week at work and when I get home I'm content to stretch and work the soreness out of my legs and lower back.  My cross season will be over in a few days due to work, but this weekend should be a great way to put a wrap on things.  But first, back to this past weekend.

Saturday we get up bright and early to head south down to Salem.  The second event in the Willamette Valley Cross Series was held at the old Battle Creek golf course which was as cool as it sounds.  The day was cool, but bright and sunny at the same time.  The early morning damp fog and sog made for a chilly and messy pre-ride with the thick grass course creating mini moss monsters on people's bikes.

I had an 11am start time so after a few pre-ride laps it was time to get ready for my race.  I got a good warm-up in, but my body was still feeling the effects of the Sherwood race the previous weekend.  Mainly my lower back.  Jeff B arrived right as I was finishing my warm-up and with him came my newly mounted rear tire.  The Fango that flatted at Rainer had another, different flat at Sherwood which Stan's wonder-goo couldn't plug.  Ah well.

I got to the line early enough to scout the first straightaway and corner.  The previous races had carved some lines in the course and things were soggy, but not horrifically slick.  The field is a good size, about 30 riders, so start position wasn't as crucial.  I tucked into the back row on the left side and we were off a few moments later.

My start was good, much like its been all season.  Going into the first turn I was sitting in 6th or 7th place, and maintained that position all the way to the first barriers.  Unfortunately I tried to remount in the sand pit, failed and ended up duck walking my bike through traffic back to the next flat area.  Lost contact with the front group and another few positions.  Noob. :)

A small chase group formed behind, only a second or so off the first group.  We stayed that way for the first lap and a half when my back started to tighten up on me.  My pace dropped and soon I lost contact with the second chasing group. Ah well.

The course itself was deceptively hard.  The wet grass smooth, but thick and soft.  Riding on a wet sponge was the best way I can describe it.  There was no place to recover on course.  No small downhill to coast down, no flat section you could just spin through.  I found myself flipping between front rings for the first time all season on a flat course.  My back hurt too much to power the 46, but I was spinning out the 36.  After two laps of toying with the gears, I mentally flipped off the "this hurts" and just rode the 46.

With a lap to go I really wanted to be done.  I wanted to pull off the course and jump on the HPChiro table and have Seth and Laura beat my back until submission instead of it doing it to me.  I took solace in the fact that I was maintaining distance to the riders behind me and steadily reeling in a trio of riders in front of me.  I made it my goal to catch them before the lap was up and dug deep.

With half a lap to go I came to the first of the two bridge crossings each lap.  These golf cart wide bridges spanned a small creek that ran through the middle of the course, and were slick with mud.  I made sure to cross them cautiously, but in my desire to make the catch I put effort into the drivetrain too soon, spinning my rear tire and washing the bike out from under me.

I hit the deck of the bridge.  Hard.  Body and bike literally bouncing with the impact.  I was fortunate enough to stay compact during the fall, landing on my shoulder, forearm, and hip all at the same time.  (Yay for years of Karate and Hapkido!)  I was more fortunate to land ON the bridge and not fall over the side.  I was dazed by the impact and it took a moment for me to collect myself and get my bike and body out of the way of the riders bearing down on me.  A dropped chain and bent brifter were all I could see as far as damage.  Two riders pass me as I remount my bike and slowly get back to speed.  The first few corners are hesitant as the body and mind replay what went wrong and anticipate the worst.

My chase begins a new, but now to try and regain lost spots.  I make an aggressive pass on the inside of a 270 degree turn to pick one spot back up, but I'm unable to catch the other rider.  I finish 19th.

While the race might not have Hand Down!  Photo by Jose Sandovalgone the best, Seth was able to work on my back shortly after.  The S-I joint is not happy.  I'm thrilled to get the Hand Down (even if it was Budweiser) from Dave as he speeds through the first lap of his race, and Jose Sandoval  is in the right place at the right time to capture it.  Jeff B, Alex, and B-Rat crush the B race with Jeff and Alex taking first and third. 

Unfortunately the day ends with a bit more trouble as Traci is forced to pull out of her race.  Seth and Laura along with B squad show their true colors and help me take care of Traci while I get the car packed.  We get home late and get the bikes cleaned off.  8pm and I'm exhausted.  Fortunately the next race is 2 miles for our house.

Sunday is CC4 at Hillsboro Fairgrounds.  We wake up later than normal and take our time getting ready.  No hour drive to this venue!  We load up the car and leave the house at 7:30, and roll into the parking lot at 7:38.  My kind of commute!

Sal and Heidi get us a primo spot and we unload the car.  The pre-ride is fun and I get to see the course for the first time as I was injured for this race last year.  The sun is out, but a front is moving in.  The temp drops by 10 degrees in the first hour we are there and it starts to drizzle on and off.  Spirits are high.

PV turns out in force today, with the tent overflowing with racers and teammates here to watch the final Crusade race of Matt Couzens.  Cuz is moving back to Denver soon and we picked this day to be his going away party.  The wall of sound is deafening every time he rolls by the tent during his race, and he smiles through the pain reflects the joy of the sport and those that bear witness to it.

The men of Portland Velo. L to R: Paul Formiller, Sal Bondi, and Matt D'Elia.  Photo by Jonathon Maus, BikePortland.orgThe time draws near for me to start my warm up and suddenly the PV tent is a flurry of activity.   The 11:40 race has Mstr B's and 50+ racers, and with 7 racers in the Mstr B and 5 racers in the 50+ field we attract some attention.  Jonathon Maus from  BikePortland comes by and shoots a bunch of photo's for a great article about the event.  He really has the pulse of the scene in PDX.  I warm up easy, sore and tired from the previous day.

Eventually its time to race.  We roll to the starting line and this race I was fortunate enough to get the third starting grid.  I hope for a fast start and to hold on.  The rain starts to fall lightly as the whistle blows.  The front of the race accelerates away as the remaining riders file out of the chute.  Such a difference from the previous days race.

Javad catches up to me quickly and tells me to latch on.  The two of us ride together, the familiar comfort of riding on the road for the past 3 years transitioning quickly to the race.  He picks out fast lines as I direct traffic and call out obstacles in the course.  We steadily move up the field together, passing the team tent in tandem.  The team cheers loudly urging us on.  All through out the course members of PV are there, shooting photos and cheering like maniacs.  I hear the booming voice of KRhea behind his massive camera lens, Dean and Barb Lee by the huge mud puddle, Tom with his dual cowbells and crazy grin pops up everywhere, Brad Sigler in the barn.  We ride with wings.

Sasha catches us during the first half of lap 2 and the tandem becomes a trio.  The aches and pains of yesterday are gone, filled with need to stay on Javad and Sasha's wheel.  We fly towards the backside pit entrace for the second time when disaster strikes. 

A racer from the Filth and Fury team moving up through the field suddenly crashes into me from behind on the right side, his front wheel doing its best to intimate the chariot race from Ben Hur on my right leg (see 6:30 in the clip).  The rider managed to pull out of the collision, but in the process hooked my right arm and handlebars with his left arm and yanked the bike out from under me.  I crashed hard on my left side again while he managed to stay upright and rode away. 

The race as it was for me ended at that point.  My teammates made it through the melee and continued on.  My left brifter once again had been bent inward making braking difficult, not to mention the toll the spill had on my mental attitude.  I was mad about being wrecked, and managed to crash once again in that same lap in some very slick mud.  Battered and mentally beaten, I work on staying upright in the rapidly deteriorating course.  I crash once more right in front of team tent at the "killer corner".  At least there was a smile on my face then.

What did you do this weekend?  Photo by Victor DuongFour laps later, the race mercifully ends and I immediately head towards the bike wash.  

My body and bike are filthy and my leg is bleeding freely.  I'm angry.  I'm also angry I wasn't able to ride angry.  Traci offers to take my rig so I can get to the medical tent to have them look me over.  Under the caked mud and congealed blood hides a 6" by 15" pattern of curved gouges and tireburn.  My leg becomes photography fodder for a number of folks standing nearby.  The scene is almost comical and quickly lifts my spirits.  Beer awaits at the tents.

The day caps off beer, burgers, beer, a great race by Traci, and more beer.  We scream our voices hoarse for Molly and Tina, and cheer wildly for all those putting it out there for the beauty of it all.  A slice of heaven right in our back yard.

Bring on Astoria.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Meh.

 

So I’ll state right up front that I was not a big fan of the Sherwood venue.  The first part of this post is going to be a bit of a rant, so skip down if you don’t want to read it. 

Just about everyone I’ve talked to today is battered and bruised, including those who didn’t go down.  You are going to hurt after a cross race but today my hands feel like I repeated punched someone, and Dave Aldersabaes thinks it was him.

We arrived early, like normal, to help get our team’s tent setup.  Upon arriving at the venue we were told the North parking lot will not be opened due to the conditions of the field, so we went down to the south lot where we were probably the 5th or 6th car there.

The course was no where near the south lot.  In fact the course only popped near the north lot, which was opened after the south turned into a total fluster cluck of cars.  (Hint, get people to organize parking if you don’t want that to happen.  Don’t come through after the fact complaining at the people who are trying to get ready for your race.) Viewing was pretty limited to the starting area, and small on-course section after the starting area.  By the end of the day our team’s tent stood near the Hammer Velo fortress and a fairly empty and quiet lot.  Boo.

The course itself was.. meh.  The elevation wasn’t really a problem, there was plenty of time to recover from the climbs.  The problem was the course was about 90% single track.   Yes, the course was 8 to 10 feet wide in most places, but it was really only ride worthy on the single track paths.  Attempts to ride the non-track were met with bone jarring, bike breaking impacts.  The gravel downhill section was filled with small fist size loose rocks.  There was blackberry bramble hanging into the course in a number of locations.  I saw a few people who looked like they had been slashed with razor blades, and Jeff B was picking thorns out of his arm when he finished.

Wheels were destroyed, chains busted, handlebars snapped, derailleurs ripped from bikes.  The Shimano neutral support guy said he ran out of wheels almost every race and saw more busted bikes come in on this race then the others combined.  Not a winner in my book.

Ok – I’m done ranting about the venue for this year.

I self upgraded to the Mstr B’s after enough goading from my friends and teammates.  I’ve been a top 10 finisher of my of my races this season in the C’s and the ones I finished outside of the top 10 in I either started in the back (Blind date #2 / #4) or had a mechanical.

PV has a ton of guys in the Mstr B’s and Mstr 50+ so seeing all the other kits on course is a great deal of fun.  I didn’t have big expectations for this race since A) it has climbing in it. B) I’m racing in a new, faster category and C) its not my style of course.

The pre-ride was muddy, and I seriously considered riding my Bulldog clinchers on the course rather than my Fango tubs.  After some insistence from Jeff and Ben, I tossed the tubs on and went to the starting line.  My new number (which can be worn right side up or up side down!) had me with a mid to back starting group.  I had a pretty descent start, but 4 corners in the first 200m’s of the course makes it really hard for anyone to pass. 

We had a new section of course to ride which was opened up starting at our race. It was an out and back winding route that went through the orchard.  By the time I hit the 2 way section, the leaders were already on their way back.  They were already 1m30s ahead of me after half a lap!  I felt sorry for anyone who expected to contend today and had a bad call up number.

I rode my race the best I could.  I used the power sections to pass people, the single track sections to recover since it was very risky to try and ride outside of them.  I suffered up the climb, happy that I had my 36x28 to climb on.  I wasn’t happy seeing the big black “3” on the lap counter after my second trip up that hill though. 

My own little race formed with Jeff Harwood of Ironclad, a top notch sprinter that I rode with and against for most of the year.  We traded positions for most of the second lap and the start of the third.

Murray caught me heading up the hill on the end of the second lap and I latched on to his wheel.  Shortly there after my rear tire started to flat.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Long time readers of this blog may remember that Murray ruthlessly ran me over at Rainer last year.  I hefted my bike on to my shoulder at the start of the orchard, and ran / walked the next mile to the neutral pit.  I got to see most of the field go by during that mile, and heard some very interesting remarks from some of the racers going by.

My favorite was “get out of the course” by a guy who tried passing me in the narrowest, most twisty part of the entire route.  Uh, hi, I’m actually part of this race, and I can’t jump off the course when its taped up.  You sir, are an idiot, and I can understand why people don’t think very highly of your team.

I eventually made it to the neutral pit after some very hairy sections of fast single track where I was fortunate enough to have some spectators letting me know when it was safe to run through.  A quick wheel change and I was back riding with relatively fresh legs.  I surged up the hill and was able to catch up with a couple of teammates whom I rode in with on that last lap.

The highlight of the day was probably watching the start of the women’s race, heckling our friends to make up for our lackluster performances.  Heidi, Kristin, Beth, and Lindsay all felt the wrath of being friends with PV while the PV ladies, Ellen, Ally, Cindy, and Traci all put huge efforts out on course and were cheered wildly for.  Afterwards the team rolled back to our fortress and fired up the grill.  Slabs of meat and sodium rockets sizzled and beer was shared.  The sun came out and we reminisced on the days events.  I don’t think any of us watched the elites race.  Kind of a shame.

All in all, I didn’t get much out of a race I wasn’t expecting much of.  The Fango that flatted appeared to get a small staple in it, or possibly a two pronged thorn.  The Stan’s that was in it didn’t seal it during the race or after as we were inspecting the damage, so it looks like a new tire is in the cards for me.  I also feel I need to run my tubs with a bit more air pressure as every race I’ve run sub 35 PSI on I’ve had problems.

With four more Cross races this season on the horizon for me (boo work schedule).  I’ll be doubling up the next two weekends.  This coming weekend looks to be a bit more suited to my racing style, and Astoria… well that’s just a craziness of its own.

Friday, October 16, 2009

“Blind Dates are more fun when they end up having slick spots.”

 

Credit goes to Joel “Burger! Burger! Burger!” Morrissette for that awesome quote.

Trio of race reports here.  Cross season has kicked into full gear with the Blind Date series having its 3rd and 4th run at the Dairy the previous two Wednesday’s in addition to Cross Crusade #2 at Rainer High in Rainer Oregon this last Sunday.

The Blind Date events I’m treating as a super hard training exercise, and this week wasn’t an excuse.  Blind Date #3 I started closer to the front than last weeks event, wanting to work on the hole shot and then run one lap on, one lap off intervals.  Cow, Strader, and Jordan were again in the field with me and we all sorta half-joked to do the same sort of exercise.

The whistle blew and the race started, while I didn’t get around the 2 guys directly in front of me for the hole shot, I was up near the front and had a good few lines into those first few crucial corners.  I’ve been doing a lot of my over/under intervals on loose gravel roads and this opening section of Blind Date felt like practice.  As the lap progressed I picked off the few riders who got out of the gate in front of me, and finished the first lap in the top spot.

The race after that was supposed to be a set of intervals, but that competitive spirit took over for all of us.  I battled hard with a few guys, trading 5th through 10th places as the race progressed.  My main goal at this point was to keep Cow behind me, (specifically because he kept telling me to go faster.  Ass!)  He got in front of me at a couple places but had some bad luck with people crashing next to him or directly in front of him which allowed me to sneak by.  The last lap I attacked hard out of a group of 4, making them chase me through the slower lapped traffic.  Cow and I were neck and neck coming through the last set of barriers, but I got a better entrance line into the last corner allowing me to not-so-subtlety cut  off his line.  We finished right behind each other for 7th and 8th in the field and had a good laugh when it was all over.  Jordan somehow managed to teleport in front of me in the last quarter meter to take 6th place, then turn invisible until I rolled passed him.  Have to watch out for that guy! ;)

Cross Crusade #2 was the following Sunday (10/11).  I was a bit worried about this event due to my sucktackular performance on this course last year.  I consider this course a climbers course, and I sir, am not a climber!  I was fortunate to get a call up due to my placement at Alpenrose and was in the front row for the very first time in my CX career.  The power / speed work I did this year paid off and I was able to take the hole shot when the race started.  I wanted to be the first person into the woods and down through the super nasty gravel corner where we had seen a ton of people go down in the earlier races.

My race progressed pretty much as expected.  I flew past people in the flat, downhill, and technical sections, but lost ground on the pavement section of the climb.  The course took a toll on a lot of bikes and I saw at least 3 of the guys who were ahead of me end up with a mechanical of some sort.  I was managing to hold on to a top 10 finish until the last half of the last lap when my rear tub flatted just before the run up.  Doh.

I managed to nurse the bike in the downhill section, then tossed it on the shoulder and ran the remainder of the course, including right passed the pit.  “It’s the last lap, I’ll just run it in.” I said when I ran by.  It’s only 400m I told myself. 

Oh yeah, its all up hill.  About half way up the hill I realized the folly of my decision.  A 20 second wheel change would have saved me probably 3-4 minutes of race time and most likely preserve a top 20 finish.  Rookie move.  Lesson learned.

All in all, I was happy with how the race went.  Rainer last year owned me, and this year I felt competitive.  I plan on rolling with the Master B’s next week at Sherwood.

The last Blind Date was probably the most fun of all.  Some hard bursts of rain through out the day had the potential to change the course conditions from the previous runs, and the cloud layer plus it being later in the year made the lighting conditions deteriorate fairly early.

Since I’m on a rest week, I started in the last row of racers and passed on the call up I was given.  The whistle blew and I, along with the other hundred plus racers that didn’t have a clear line slowly moved into the first set of turns.  As always I moo’d as we progressed along.  By the time I got down to the parking lot switch backs, the leaders of the race were already heading the other way with open course in front of them.  I spent the remainder of the opening lap riding through traffic at about 80% speed, and running over more than my fair share of cones in the process.  I kid you not, I think I hit a cone in every corner that first lap. 

By the time the first lap ended I was probably in the top half of the field.  I worked on my handling in traffic and in the slick spots on course.  Ran short intervals to pass people and used the course and people in it to slowly make my way through the field.  I eventually got to the head of the huge midfield pack and had some open road ahead of me on the last few laps.  The light faded quickly the last two laps and it was a struggle to avoid the ruts at high speed.  I used the “aim and pray” strategy fairly effectively and made it through to the finish in one piece in a respectable  27th place.  I was muddy, the bike was muddy, and my legs were on fire because I tossed embrocation on them thinking it was going to be colder, but it was smiles all around.

If you didn’t get a chance to race the Blind Date series this year, you missed out on a seriously fun time.  The mid-week event fits in perfectly with recovery from your weekend races, and gives you the opportunity to work on skills or try new gear out in a “low stress” environment.  With all the race focus on Crusades, I really hope people don’t overlook the fact that some great racing is happening elsewhere.

That wraps it up for this week.  This Sunday is Sherwood, followed by two week ends of Saturday / Sunday racing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Two scoops of Alpenrose goodness, and a side of fail

 

We’ve got a trio of race reports here and we’ll start things off with the side of fail.  Barlow.  I’ve heard awesome things about this course, and it really looked tremendous.  The legendary rail road tie steps, the bridge, the crazy descent leading down to it all.  It’s a fast course, with some sections a powerful rider can open up a can of hurt on the field.

If you get to them.

I didn’t get a chance to pre-ride the course due to the distance from the house and the fact that they change the schedule up a bit to accommodate all the riders.  No big deal.  I got a lot of course recon time in the morning and felt pretty good about learning the lines quickly.  My warm-up wasn’t the greatest, I had been fighting of some sinus crud the previous 24hrs and I just couldn’t get my HR up to where it needed to be.  Ah well.  Time to line up! 

I didn’t get the greatest of starting spots, but I did line up on the edge, which was important.  The lead ref was pretty adamant that you had to stay inside the cones once you crossed the Start Line but since the starting chute was so short and narrow, make due with what you had available.  The whistle blew, I went outside the cones, around the slower riders and and ducked in before the line, putting myself in the top 10 before the first turn.  Half the battle over.

This was the first opportunity to ride the new tubs and I was impressed with how quickly they spun up.  I was not impressed however with how quickly the tire came off the front wheel.  About 4 minutes after the start, I dove inside a rider making a wide corner and the front wheel rolled off the rim.  Game over, thanks for paying $6.25 a minute to race.

Needless to say, after inspecting the rim and seeing that entirely not enough glue was used, the wheels went back to the shop were a very embarrassed and apologetic service manager re-did both wheels using a ton more glue free of charge.

On to Alpenrose!

This year an additional weekday series popped up last minute on the OBRA calendar.  I was out of town for the first one, but after hearing the rave reviews I decided to take part in the mid-week race to get some more time on the CX bike.  My training plan said “CX Practice” so I treated the race as a handing exercise by lining up in pretty much the back of the pack to see how far I could make it through before the end. 

I’m going to guess I started about 100 riders deep in a field of 140 and ended up finishing 15th after 8 brutally fast and bumpy laps.  I felt great and was really moving through the field effectively.  Was only passed by one guy who flew past me on the run-up but paid the price for his effort about half a lap later and blew up.  It was a total blast to race in the evening and gave me a lot of confidence going into the Cross Crusades series opener on Sunday.

After a few pre-ride laps on Saturday with the newly re-glued tubs, I got the tire pressure dialed in and felt confident I wasn’t going to roll a tire off this time.  Sunday rolled around and we got to Alpenrose early to get a parking spot near our tent.  Holy crap did that place get busy fast.

My race went really well.  I was in the third column to be called up, which put me about 6 or 7 rows deep.  I parked on the far right next to the curb so I could get water from Traci and chat with my family who came to watch the race.  The whistle blew and other than slipping on the curb a bit, my start was pretty clean. 

By the end of the first lap I was in the top 10, second lap I was sitting in the top 5 but at one point was in the top 3.  A few of the fast riders I’ve been competing with this season caught me and steadily pulled away over lap 3 when I starting to get a bit of fatigue.  I felt pretty slow in the technical sections but fast in the open areas, and from the gaps I opened or closed during those sections I know where to look to improve my future races.

The bell lap came a lot sooner than I expected and I was few seconds behind the 6th place guy and few seconds in front of the 8th place guy.  No mans land isn’t a bad place to be in at times.  I had a carrot in front of me and a bit of pressure behind me to keep me honest and working hard.  I was slowly pulling the guy in front of me back but alas I ran out of race.  7th place out of 190 riders, good enough to score some points and get a call up for the remainder of the season.

I’m pretty happy with how things are going this season.  PV has had some awesome showings this year so far and we are currently sitting in the top slot in the “Feudal War” team competition.  We are getting some attrition in our women’s team, but the gals who have stuck around and the new ones who have joined are bunch of troopers and the guys bend over backwards to make sure they are ready to roll. 

Personally, I’ve had some great results in my field with out being overwhelmingly dominant or getting shelled.  I know there is a huge difference between the C’s and B’s, but I also know your starting slot will give you a big advantage over your competitors.  Cross is a mix of fitness, skill, and sheer luck, with a lot of beer and cowbells tossed in.

It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.  Just ask the 1493 people who raced on Sunday!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

“Thanks for the wheel.”

(Note: this post has nothing to do with the tire roll-off incident I had at Barlow, so if you are looking for a race report, sorry!) -m

In 2005, I worked in a very small building at our mammoth company.  While this had a number of bad aspects, it was nice to know just about everybody that worked in the building.  So when a group of guys around my age moved into the cubes around me, it wasn’t long before we got to know each other and found we had a lot of similar interests.

A few months later, another member of this group moved to Oregon.  Shortly after he arrived, I noticed a lot of bike gear in his cube and stopped by to say hello.  Jeremy introduced himself and we chatted for a while, talking mainly about cycling and what brought him to Oregon and parted with a “we should ride together some time.”  Little did I know…

My first attempt to ride with him was a dismal failure.  A combination of my (lack of) fitness, a lack of sleep due to some major blood sugar issues, and a horridly cold May day caused me to cut the planed 75mi RACC route short after just 15miles of riding with him.  A second friend who joined us reported back that Jeremy effortlessly pulled him along for the remainder of the ride and it was all he could do to hold Jeremy’s wheel.

Jeremy, as it turns out had a few years of racing in him back in AZ and was somewhat of a fitness nut.  (We used to joke that he ate “Cyborg Food” at lunch since he always had odd healthy snacks.) I on the other hand was just starting to get back into riding after a number of years of being out of the saddle and enjoyed Doritos.  My fitness was coming back, but it obvious I wasn’t anywhere near the level where he was at.  The good news though was that we had fun together and we continued to ride on Saturday PV rides throughout the summer when he could make it out.

At the end of 2006, the Portland Velo Race Team formed and I joined in on its inaugural season.  I became more dedicated in my riding and rode frequently with the fledgling team.  I was new to racing, and to race tactics and frequently asked Jeremy about things I saw or read.  We swapped weekend ride stories when we couldn’t get together, and shared routes that we had found.

In April of 2007, a friendly rival team invited PV down for a “social ride” of the Monster Cookie Event in Salem.  Ten of us, including Jeremy and I, traveled down to Salem for the event.  It was clear from the start that this “social ride” had “hammerfest” written all over it.  Jeremy towed my sorry ass back into the group on a number occasions, postponing my inevitable ejection from the speeding pack.  When I finally cracked for good, he selflessly pulled out of the paceline and waited for me so I had someone to ride with the rest of the way in.  It wouldn’t be the last time I limped home on his wheel.

Over the next two years we rode together frequently, my fitness improving by leaps and bounds due to dedicated training and racing until it got to the point where we were on about equal footing.  On the bike friendship spilled over to surround our wives and another couple whom we spent a great deal of time together with.  The six of us formed an extended family and enjoyed countless hours in each others company. 

Unfortunately for us, Jeremy and Kimberly found a beautiful house in Arizona and will be leaving the land of liquid sunshine this coming weekend.  We knew the day was approaching, but its always a shock when it arrives.

So this past Saturday, Jeremy and I rolled out one last time on a PV group ride.  I had no intentions of going hard since I had a race the following day and when the pace heated up, I drifted off the back.    And as it had happened so many times in the past, Jeremy waited for me and we rode together.   We picked up another group along the way and traded attacks, laughing at the pain we joyously lobbed at each other.   Ten miles from home we left the group and struck out on our own, determined to make it back before them.  We traded pulls into a howling headwind, wordlessly knowing when to pull through.  It was a fitting way to log the last miles of a great journey with a great friend.

So to Jeremy I say, “Thanks for the wheel.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cross(country)

 

Been a whirlwind 3 weeks since I last updated.  Pain on the Peak 2009 was a raging success with 20% more racers year over year, 100% less dust, and 100% more pain!

This years course was longer than last years by about a 500m and saw some great racing action.  Big thanks to all of our sponsors and racers for coming out, and congratulations to Ryan Trebon and Sue Butler for their wins.

Unlike the 2008 edition of the race, I actually the opportunity to race!  My first race of the 2009 cross season, first race on the new rig, and first cross race since the knee injury.  I’m happy to report everything worked out fine, although I’ll need to do some tweaking on the bike to get a few final things dialed in.  Hopefully I’ll have them all ready for this weekends Battle at Barlow!

My ultra-sexy wheels showed up last week, and Bryan over at Bike’'N’Hike in Hillsboro did a stellar job getting the Fango’s glued and mounted on them.  Now I have a fast bike and fast wheels.  Hope the engine doesn’t suck this year.

Training took a bit of a back seat the last two weeks as Traci and I traveled to the East Coast to visit a number of friends in the Boston area.  We were graciously hosted by Irena and Danny, the same folks who we ventured to Miami to be part of their wedding in May.  The trip was perfectly timed (with the exception that the Sox were away rather than home) and we packed a ton of fun into a short stay.  Got the opportunity to see some amazing things at 38 Studios (what they are doing is going to explode minds.  No, don’t ask me, I can’t tell you.) and meet some really great people.  Didn’t see a ton of people cycling, but I hear that Mountain Biking is huge out there so they were probably all in trails.

I was lucky enough to get some pizza at Depot in Andover, which made my day.  We don’t get pizza like that out here.  Irena, Traci and I went apple picking and I probably ate a dozen apples while there.  The ladies then made an amazing pie which vanished as soon as it entered 38 Studios.

The highlight of my trip (that I can talk about) was Sunday when I spent the day catching up with friends new and old.  Danny, Irena, Traci and I  met in Boston with Chris, Jay, and John for brunch.  We ate and laughed and mostly made fun of Chris.  The time sped by and we had to head out sooner than we would have liked.   We then hit the Blue Man Group show, and Irena and I were pulled out of the audience before the show started and made fun of about 25 minutes later as “LATE ARRIVERS”.  Irena hammed it up by hiding under her jacket.

After the show ended, we met with Jim and Dorothy.  Jim and I were friend all through out grade school and into high school.  He hosted my going away party when we moved out to Oregon and was one of the folks I really missed those first few years out here.  We unfortunately drifted apart in the following years but thanks to the miracle of Facebook we were able to get back in touch.  I hadn’t seen Jim in 17 years, but it was like yesterday when we got back together.  Jim and Dorothy took us to a great place for dinner then another place for desert.  We talked and caught up on old times and told stories that made us laugh.  We parted ways late in the evening happy to have had the chance to see each other.

By the end of the trip I was craving some bike time, my legs hurt and were “twingey” which made for an entertaining flight back.  Barlow should be entertaining this weekend.  My ride yesterday I felt fresh, but ya never know how you’ll do after a layoff!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pain is almost here….

 

Just a few more days until the 2009 edition of Pain on the Peak.  The team has been busy at work these past few months putting together an even better event than last year.  With the lucky addition of rain this past weekend, the course should be significantly less dusty than it was last year as well!

A number of us spent Sunday morning last week up at the venue in a driving rain / wind storm to get the course cleaned up, parking area staked off, and make some new changes to the route the course will be taking this year.  The fast downhill “aim and pray” entrance into the woods has been re-routed into a technical pair of corners to let racers scrub a bit of speed and enter the woods not directly facing the sun.

The course will clock out longer this year than last year, which means the “evil climb” will be visited less times than last year.

My new rig, a Velo Vie Versa 300, has been built up and I’ve been able to ride it a number of times this year.  Dan Barnes of Velo Vie was kind enough to help me out in a pinch and sent me the paint test frame he had set aside for himself.  The Versa 300 will be on the market soon, so I’m riding a one-of-a-kind rig!  It’s a great bike, and I look forward to crashing racing it this season. 

Off to CX practice at Alpenrose!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Crossroads

 

Daylight hours quietly getting shorter…

Cloudy skies, cool temperatures, an extra blanket on the bed to fight off the morning chill…

The road season winding down, team rides become social endeavors rather then leg ripping suffer-fests…

Anticipation is in the air, an almost palpable feeling in the community. The closeness of the new season can be seen all around; the signs are everywhere if you know where to look.

“I’m not happy with how my body feels after running for the first time in months…”

Let the debate begin: Tubes or Tubeless”

Where is that link for home PVC barriers?”

Jesus, my bike still smells like cow poop!”

Cross season is almost upon us. (Glee!)

Last Wednesday Traci came home after visiting Russell with a gaggle of bikes and not so subtlety told me “Russell said this frame fits best.  Since tomorrow is the woman’s CX clinic with Tina, Russell said you should skip your workout and build up this frame for me.”  Okay, she didn’t exactly say that, but it was pretty close.

I got home at 5:15, went inside to change my shirt and wentphoto(2) back into the garage.  Five and a half. hours later this beast was born.

Traci will be sporting a VeloForma Carbon Cross this year.  This is the same make of frame I’ve ridden on the for the past two years and while I absolutely loved the ride quality of the bike, the frame geo just didn’t work out for me from a remount perspective. (I’ve got short legs!)  VeloForma owner Mark Duff was kind enough to trade me down a frame size in the hopes that I didn’t fit between frame sizes, and unfortunately I did.  Traci however, fits on this new frame perfectly.

She went out the next day and properly baptized it in the fields around Alpenrose at the clinic.  The smile on her dusty face was worth the effort.

I’m currently sans cross-rig, but I’ve got a few lines on super sekrut weapons of mass distraction. I’ll hopefully have some news about that soon.

Here is some cross pr0n, complements of Pain on the Peak 2008.  I still get goose bumps watching this.

Now that we got you all excited for cross, Pain on the Peak 2009 is right around the corner.  (September 12th to be exact.)  Same location, slightly different course, most likely more pain.  We’ve got some great prizes and vendors lined up this year.  Official announcements will be up on the OBRA list in the coming days as we solidify final sponsors.

Stay tuned. :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Baked or Broiled?

 

I survived the heat wave of ‘09.  How hot was it?  Well, a few days the temps here in Portland were hotter than the were in Austin TX.  My drive home from work out in Hillsboro was 106 on Monday, 108 on Tuesday, and 113 on Wednesday.  113? WTF?  You know its hot when people on Facebook start complaining about the people complaining about the heat.

I’m not a huge fan of the heat, and exercising in that weather when your body isn’t used to it can be downright dangerous.  Props to the officials who canceled racing events or had some other creative ways of dealing with the heat.  Oddly enough, on Thursday when it was only 95 on the drive home we had the windows and sunroof open and no AC on.  Its good to be a mammal!

I took an alternative path to beating the heat.. I rested. :)  For 6 days my bike sat in the garage and I sat in my house sipping on Gin & Tonic or beer, and eating nachos in the AC.  The weather had cooler temperatures coming late in the week, so I busted butt at work to get everything done early, and took Friday off.  It was a great week.

The team sent a bunch of folks to Cascades last week, and they had a great time and brought back a lot of good stories.  With Cascades and the State TT Championships done and Crit Championships just around the corner, the road racing season is coming to a close.  Saturday rides become more mellow and training plans start to have threshold intervals in them again.  That means cross is right around the corner!

Contrary to some of the rumors out there, Pain on the Peak 2009 is in fact happening, and will be at the same location as last year.  Website and flyers are being built, sponsors are being finalized, and the course is being planned.  As with most of the world, the finances are tight so prize packages might not be as good as last year, but we are working hard to make it as exciting of event as it was last year.  Keep watch for more details!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Track Championships

 

The OBRA Track Championships happened last weekend, and I guess I'm just now recovered enough to write about the sole race I did last Friday. ;)

A warm sunny day saw a good number of trackies head out to the velodrome to participate in the first of three days of track events.  While Traci has been racing and training out their fairly frequently, I have yet to ride my track bike "in anger" this year.

We got to the track with plenty of time for a good warm up to chat with our friends who were also there.  I tried to pick the brain of a few of the more experienced riders on race strategy since I had never raced the event on slate for the evening.  The Kilo.. or sometimes known as the Kill-ometer from what I find out later.

Three and three quarters laps of pain from a dead stop.  Too long to rely on solely your anaerobic system and too short to get into a good aerobic grove.  There are a lot of theories on how to try and pace yourself but one piece of advice seems to be common.  Get up to speed as fast as you can.

I get some solid accelerations in and a number of laps at three quarter speed and a few laps at (hopefully) full speed.  Legs feel cruddy but I hope that its just pre-race nerves.

5:55 and racing is to start at 6.  The air temp drops by 5 degrees in a matter of minutes and the skies to the south look dark.  The first drops of rain hit my helmet as I'm on the front stretch and I see Luciano put the whistle to his mouth.  Two quick blasts and riders on track start making their way down to the apron.  Thirty seconds later a summer downpour hits the velodrome and racers and officials scurry under what little cover is available in the infield.  It rains off and on for the next 15 minutes, touching off discussions on rescheduling races.  My spirits, fairly low to start with, go in the toilet and I hope for a cancellation.

By 6:15 the rain has stopped and the sun comes back out.  The track is soaked but because of its concrete material it has retained a lot of heat and begins drying quickly.  Luciano breaks out a leaf blower and heads to turn 3 which is in the shade to dry out the sprinters lane.  Good news is that for the TT events, you only need the sprinters lane dry since everyone rides in it.  They expect the first riders to go off at 6:30.

Bob has graciously let me use his training track wheels to race on as they are far superior to the crap wheels on my crap bike.  He also has a 15t cog on his wheel which will put me in the proper ratio to race this event in.  As the women start their 500m TT event I get the wheels quickly swapped out and the chain at the right tension.  Pausing for a short while to watch Traci race.  She rides hard and strong and cuts a full 2 seconds off her PR.  She's happy with the results and barely misses 3rd place.

The men's Kilo starts with my division going first.  I'm slotted to roll out 6th and there are 13 people in my division.  I head to the warm up track to roll around a bit.  As the first rider finishes I head to the start area with the other riders.  The air is quiet and a bit humid after the rain.  Good conditions.  I hang my bike on the available stand and do a final bit of stretching.  Traci adjusts my insulin pump so its more secure and suddenly I'm on deck.  A final swig of water and a few deep breaths and its time to mount up.

Mike Murray has my bike set up while I get clipped in.  The rider ahead of me is churning away on his third lap.  I'll be rolling out in under 30 seconds.  I take deep breaths, trying to relax my body and not fight the holder behind me.  I vaguely hear Dean yelling "why are you riding those wheels!?"  I later find out he though I was Bob.

The rider head of me finishes and my heart rate kicks up.  I hear "Rider Ready.." and I realize I haven't paid attention to how many beeps there were on starting tone and make a guess at 5.  The first tone sound and I hear very softly behind me 4..3.. from Mike.

At 2 I take a deep breath. The final tone starts I surge hard out of the saddle with a large exhale, forcing the bike forward.  I power through the pedals trying to keep my weight balanced and line straight.  I hit the first corner and plant myself, noticing I haven't yet inhaled since the start.

The first lap is a blur.  I concentrate on riding good corners and keeping my leg speed as high as possible, always trying to accelerate.  I've opted for the "go out like hell and hang on" theory of Kilo riding, hoping that my history of successful long ranged sprints will serve me well.  Second lap down and I'm still running a quick time.

I hit the line to start my third lap and my breathing is starting to get labored.  My legs are still turning over be it not as fast as before.  I loose time in the corners due to sloppy lines and push hard exiting them to hopefully counter my lack of handling.

Last lap starts.  I'm sub one minute, but just barely.  Last lap times make or break most kilos.  Most riders in a division will have very similar lap times until the last lap where it all changes.  I hear the PA stating I'm on pace for the first sub 1:20 time of the night and it spurs me on.  Two corners left, my breathing is more like panting.  I fight the bike for more speed on the final stretch wanting to give it everything I had.  I hit the with a not so exaggerated gasp for air.  I'm fairly certain the legendary Alpenrose Gorilla was on my back for the last half lap.

1:20.05, and it was the hardest 1:20.05 I've ever spent on my bike.

I ran a 21 second final lap, after running 19s/20s/20s first three laps.  I hear the crowd cheering and the announcer stating it was the fastest time of the night so far.

I roll into the cool down track and it takes a good 5 minutes for my breathing and HR to come under control.  Traci brings water by and I quickly go through the entire bottle.

Another 5 minutes go by and my time is still holding.  There are 4 riders left and I finally get off my bike and head over to where my friends are in various stages of warm-ups.  It's congratulations all around for a fast first Kilo.  Bob also gives me crap for beating his PR on my first try.

With two riders remaining my time is holding, so the worst I can do is 3rd place.  The second to last rider runs faster splits for the first 3 laps but fades on the final stretch to clock in a 1:20.90.  The final rider turns a 1:22. 

Holy crap, I won a State Championship.

Candi surprises me with a medal and a hug, and Traci captures the moment with me wearing the medal and a cheezy grin.  Bob goes out a short bit later and rips the legs off of his field cutting a full 3 seconds off his PR in the process.  He thanks me for the added motivation.  I'm happy that my time would have been competitive in his field as well and know that with some added focus and a better bike I could hold my own there.  Two more State Champs for PV.  We celebrate with Beer and Cheeseburgers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Belated 4th :)

 

Apparently I forgot to post my update last week during my office move so this will be fairly scatterbrained (more so than normal!)

Raced the Salem Fairview Circuit Race two Sundays ago.  Hard course, good racing with the exception of the r-tard who full on hand-on-hip shoved another rider almost into my path on one of the climbs.  Unfortunately because it wasn't done to me, I couldn't retaliate. ;)

Had an awesome "oh shit" moment on the last lap where I attacked coming off the hill into the final 2 90degree corners to stretch the field out.  Leaned waaaay over, and felt the rear wheel start to chatter.  Kept it upright and hammered for about a minute gapping the field before I happily blew up and soft peddled in for 32nd :)

Raced my first Short Track Mnt Bike event the next day.  Was a hoot and I managed a 4th place finish in the Sandbagger Men's Cat 3 field.  Was the first time on dirt since I blew my knee out at Barton and was very happy with my fitness.

Training this past week went really well.  Had Friday off and hammered with the team that rode on a glorious morning.  Threw down a new season high max wattage which was just shy of my all-time max wattage.   The legs feel pretty good, but mentally, I just have no desire to race right now, especially out at PIR.  A lot of it probably has to do with the continued stupidity being witnessed in the 1/2/3 fields with riders being shouldered into walls and off course in the final laps.  The Mid-Summer Crit series starts up in a few weeks and its REALLY close to my house, but they split the Cat's so I'd be racing with the 1/2/3's again.  Bleh.

In other random news, I moved offices for the first time in 7.5 years last week.  I biked to work the first day in the new place and was displeased to see the lack of close bike parking.  I was happy to find out that most everyone in the building who rides just puts their bike in their office, so I'll end up doing that when I ride in next. 

Big plans for the next few days.  Hope they come to fruition!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Blog

 

Finally had a few minutes to sit down and update the good old blog, and realized it's birthday had come and gone.  As a present, I'll make sure to actually update a few times this month rather than once. :)

Where to start, well... my wife got a gorgeous new Track Bike that the weather gods have not allowed her to race on Friday yet.  Hopefully tomorrow will fix that.

PIR on Monday nights in the 1/2/3's have turned into a total clusterfuck of late and I have better things to do than be taken out by a sketchy-ass rider who isn't paying attention.  Yes, I'm talking to the guy who put my teammate into the fucking concrete wall on the last lap of the 6/22 race.  Thanks for not bothering to see if we were okay after!  Ass.   I DNF'd my last two races (one mechanical, the other the crash) so I figure its time to step back and relax and do something safer.  ShortTrack maybe? :p

Speaking of mechanicals, huge thank you goes out to Mark Duff from VeloForma who light a knight in tight spandex came to the rescue and assisted with the fix of my front derailleur hanger on the VeloVie.

We've been cleaning out our garage, and recently sold Traci's old road bike to a good friend of ours, its her first "big girl bike" (her words) and she's absolutely in love with it. 

We also recently parted ways with my 350z, which literally had been gathering dust over the past 2 years.  (1700miles put on the car since Oct 07.. 2400miles put on my new VeloVie since March 1st of this year.)  Ironically we owned the car for *exactly* 6 years, with the purchase and sale date being 6/20.  With the TT bike being demo'd by Burke (dude, you back from the islands yet?) The garage looks spacious even with the Mini in it.  Hmmmm we could possible fill it with...

A Tandem!  Well, at least a borrowed one.  Last Saturday Traci and I celebrated our 11th Wedding Anniversary.  I was on the tail end of a rest week and I wanted to ride with her, so I borrowed a tandem from our good friends Dean and Barb and we rode with the 21's on the Saturday ride.  I'm happy to report we are still married, and I have both my kidneys intact.

In non-biking related news, the 2009 edition of Bridgetown's "Stumptown Tart" will be released shortly.  Last year this beer (a Marionberry infused Belgian) was my favorite beer of the summer.  This year they went with a Yamhill sour cherry rather than Marionberries.   I look forward to seeing it in the market soon.  I'm also happy its just about the end of allergy season.  After previously posting this season wasn't to bad, Murphy drop-kicked my sinus multiple times over the past few weeks.

Stay tuned for some exciting news about the upcoming months!  I'll give you one hint.  Cross.

Monday, June 1, 2009

One and done...

 

For those in the cycling community, the TTT stands for "Team Time Trial", an event where a group of riders work as a team to through a set course as fast as possible.

For those in the cycling community who have actually done a TTT, I put forth that the definition should be known as "Team Torture Testing", where you push yourself as hard as you can without shelling your teammates, knowing that they will be doing the same to you in a matter of moments.

My team for this endeavor were Bigwood, King, and BRat.  Basically PV Fast Twitch.  Our goals were to finish together, ride smoothly as possible, and have the fastest final K of all teams (a joke).. and if possible have fun.

We had practiced a number of times as a group and got a good feel for each others riding style, and cornering abilities and are roughly the same strength so we felt we had a good chance of accomplishing what we set out for.

The day started at Longbottom's to load up the caravan, and relive stories of my attempt to kill the entire team on Saturday by spooking a cat that was sitting on the side of the road.  We hit the road with a single stop in Albany for traditional pre-race cheeseburgers from McDonalds (seriously, we got cheeseburgers.  It's sprinter food.)

We arrived at the Allergy Factory staging area got setup and started our warm ups a bit late.  Our start time was 1 minute behind the real PV TT team, so with 8 people watching the clock we managed to get to the start line in time.  My start was a humorous showing of "how not to clip into your pedal" which was unfortunately captured on film by Mary-Kay Babcock.

After we got settled in, we started our motoring.  I was slotted in behind BRat, which really started to hurt by Lap 3 when he was making monsterish pulls.  Bob trailed behind me.  I felt good on Lap 1.. 2 things started to hurt.  3 I questioned my sanity. Lap 4 we were all getting tired and our bike handling started to suffer.

I was probably the weakest rider of the group, but I can ride corners very well, so tried to time my pulls so I could pilot the team through one of the many corners that broke up the course then peel off.  By the 4th lap, patterns started emerging in our riding styles.  I found myself at the front in specific locations on almost every lap.  Unfortunately that meant I got dumped off in the head wind coming back all the time!

We came in as a group, just a bit spaced a part.  My hamstrings pretty much seized up about 200m after the finish line and I was barely able to get back to the finish line let alone ride a cool down with the team.  My skin suit was crusted with salt.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon laughing with the other PV folks who were down there and trying not to cramp up in the increasing heat.  The journey home had us swing through Carl Jr's, which Bob swears is the official sprinter recovery food, and was punctuated with sneezes, groans of soreness and lots of laughter.

It was a sadistic sort of fun, and a good way to finish my career in the world of Time Trialing. (Yes.. I'm done with TT's.  Anyone want a bike?)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"What if?"

 

Its Monday evening.  Thirty minutes earlier we completed a 4 day, 6000 mile round trip from Portland to Seattle to Miami and back where we took part in the wonderful wedding of our best friend.

Stress of travel piled on top of the chaos of the weekend, lack of sleep, and not being able to catch up with our good friends regardless of the fact that we were sitting next to each other turned into a roller coast of emotions that finally got to me when I no longer had something to do.

I stood in the middle of our family room holding on to my wife, and there were tears streaming down my face.

I can't pinpoint the last time this happened.  It may have been when I crumpled to the ground in pain when I tore my left ACL in '03.  It might have been in '98 when an imbecile of a nurse dropped my just surgically repaired right leg off of the hospital bed.  Tears of frustration and sorrow are something I don't shed often, and I don't know why.

I tend not to get too introspective.  Could be because I'm content with what I have and where I am?   Maybe because I'm resistant to change?  It could be because I'm far more extroverted than introverted or normally think about how my actions impact others rather than myself.

Five years ago I had a pretty eye-opening conversation with Traci on our drive back from L.A. during the last leg of our sabbatical.  A couple of good question were asked and ideas were presented that for a number of reasons I didn't decide to pursue.  I've been asking "what if?" for a while.  I may have been given a second chance this weekend, and I won't let it pass this time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

TACGBODAS!

 

Cough. Sniffle. Sneeze.

No, you haven't contracted swine flu, it's allergy season!  So far I've been pretty lucky with allergies this year, although the major grass pollen season hasn't hit full bore just yet.  A lot of folks however are suffering from the increased tree pollen that is currently in the air.

Since I'm heading out of town for the next 5 days and won't be doing any riding, I figure now is a great time to entertain my 2 loyal readers with some re-posted content!  So back by no ones request, I re-present for your reading pleasure, TACGBODAS or "The Aggregate Cyclist's Guide to Being Outside During Allergy Season".

Monday, May 11, 2009

Busy weekend to start a busy week!

 

I got a rare chance to start my weekend early and took Friday off.  Normally with the development schedule my team has Friday mornings are packed with a bunch of meetings and the afternoons are often spent catching up on stuff that happened in the morning...

Friday I got the chance to sleep a bit later than normal, kit up and ride to breakfast over at Longbottoms.  I met up with the usual Friday morning group and got a good 2+ hour ride in that was a bit harder than I wanted to go, but still fun.   After a few errands, Traci and I headed over to Alpenrose for the first Fast Twitch Friday of 2009.  I'm a bit bummed that I wasn't ready for it as they were doing flying 200's, but I did get to cheer on my teammates Einar, Malcolm, and Bob along with capture Traci's first ever race at Alpenrose on video!

Saturday morning was picture perfect when we rolled out of the house for the club ride.  A HUGE crowd turned out for the loop south to Holly Hill which the team ended up climbing twice for grins.  I made sure to pace myself on the long climb since I know I'm never going to be a pure climber.  The patience paid off later on when I had plenty in the tank for the smaller sprinter climbs that I was able to hit hard.  Was a great day and a great route with an awesome group of folks.  I capped it off with some steak and beer's with our good friends.

Sunday we went to the zoo in the morning, then did a nice 2.5 hour recovery ride.  (Was funny that while at the zoo my legs and lower back really hurt from walking around on the concrete, but once I got on the bike I was fine.  Pretty fascinating how your body adapts to different things.)  Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lounging at our friends house celebrating a birthday.  I was super tired most of the afternoon and only started waking up around 9pm.  Ah well!

Today I'll spend watching the weather reports and radar map.  Planing on jumping into the 1/2/3 masters race tonight while Traci does the women's development racing class.  The rest of the week is up in the air until Thursday when we leave for Seattle to fly to Miami for a wedding this coming weekend.  I'll be off the bike for probably 5 days, which is the longest period of no-riding since my surgery.  Fun times!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday morning update

 

Hello blog.  Had a crazy week at work last week, and it will continue to be this way for a couple weeks rolling into a software release for work and a wedding on the East coast in a few weekends. Sorry for neglecting you, but realize training has suffered a bit as well.  Life pops up, ya know?  It's probably good that it happened as we really needed to get the house cleaned up. (What are these boxes from? Christmas?!?  How much laundry do we have to do?)

So, our house is cleaned up now.  (The downstairs mess migrated upstairs.. I guess that's clean?)  Clean enough for company!  We had an awesome time with our closest friends yesterday, including an appearance by the Crazy Prospector Dance Team.

The "Monster Cookie Beatdown part Tres", took place last Sunday (4/2) and was crazy hard ride.  11 PV race team folks along with about 40 club members descended on the state capital grounds for this annual ride put on by the Salem Bike Club.  The team left at 9am and rolled back into the finish around 12:40 with a quick stop in Champeog State Park at the half way point.  The Black and Blue Pain Train rolled through the 63miles at roughly at 23mph average and called out "on your left" roughly 2145 times.  Next year we think we might bring out the Cookie Wagon to run lead on the train.  I will also not start the ride hung over.

PV Cookie Wagon Assault Vehicle Mk II by Sal Bondi

April PIR wrapped up this past week, with B-Rat taking a very hard fought April series that unfortunately went sour in the final moments.  A wreck in the final sprint took out Jeff Harwood from Ironclad along with Jeff B from PV and a couple other folks.  Jeff Harwood was the leader on the road at the time of the crash and was riding really strong.  Hope you are healing quick!  I think I took 3rd overall for April.  Not too shabby for only racing 3 races. This will probably be the last 3/4 race I do on Tuesdays for a bit, and just in time it seems.  Apparently there was a second wreck in my race when someone's pannier rack hooked another riders handlebars and dragged them down.  I mean seriously?  I'm all for folks commuting out to PIR via bike and the fenders don't cause issues, but a pannier rack sticks out well beyond the arc of your wheel and just shouldn't be out there in the peloton.  

In another "heal up quick" note, PV's own "Kromonster" suffered a compound clavicle, AC separation, and a pair of broken ribs along with a busted bike after saying hello to the side of a SUV.  Alex unfortunately overcooking a corner on Newberry earlier this week.  Anyone who's been down Newberry probably knows the corner being referred to.  Fortunately Alex was able to make it to the First Friday party the next day.  He's a machine.

My own bionic knee is feeling much better after a regimen of stretching and deep tissue massage on the hip flexor and peraformis muscle group.  Rides on my road bike don't hurt that much anymore, and the diagnosis was further cemented by the amazing amount of discomfort when I was on the TT bike on Saturday.  (The more aggressive position on the TT leads to more stress on the regions causing the knee issues.)  I plan on hanging on for dear life racing the TTT this year with a few of the PV guys, so I'll be spending a lot of time stretching and adapting to the bike over the next couple weeks (hopefully!).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday afternoon musings...

 

  • It is seriously gorgeous outside, and I'm glad I rode my bike into work today.  The 4.5 mile ride home will be a nice way to cap off the day.
  • This weekend's riding had one serious beatdown of a ride book-ended by two lazy recovery days on the bike to total about 160mi of riding.
  • Allergy season is coming.  Are you ready?
  • I finally was able to mix it up with the team on Timber Road during one slug-fests out there.  Very happy!
  • It's stuffy and probably 77 in our office building right now.
  • Last week felt like a super hard week on the bike, but the overall stress of the workouts was not terribly high.  Glad I've got a rest week this week.
  • PV continued with a very strong showing out at PIR and put me across the line first for the second week in a row. I <3 the team.
  • My wife has been under the weather for the past week and it hurts me to see her feel this way.  I'd gladly take her place if I could.
  • Hubris is a bitch. My knee started acting up two days after I posted this.  I'm still trying to sort out what's going on.
  • My "O.F." got together on Saturday for a joint birthday party for James and myself.  Was great fun and they surprised me with an awesome gift.  Silly details here!
  • I received an envelope in the mail on Friday from OBRA.  Inside was a sticker that said "ROAD:CAT3" along with my other details.  I'm now a very small fish in a very big pond filled with very fast fish.  At least I can cross off one of my goals for this year though. :)
  • It was silent at 6:50am when I got into the office.  Its now 3:36pm and again, it's silent.  I'm going home.
  • For whatever reason, this didn't publish until Tuesday morning, but I'm not changing the title.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Comeback Complete!

 

So last night, my journey back from my knee injury and subsequent surgery came to a close.  Tuesday was the first day of racing at PIR, and PV came out in force for the Cat 3 / 4 race.  Ty, Jeff, Flemming, Feig, Mitch Lee, B-Rat, Mitch Gold, Johnny, Kromonster and myself all lined up with 67 other racers to kick off the PIR season.

There were a few well represented groups out in the field tonight along with PV.  Ironclad, Team O, and Three Rivers all had some significant numbers.  Made for a painful night if you were flying solo as the average speed of the race was 26.5mph.

The race was a short one, being early season and still fighting for daylight.  10 Laps with a pair of hotspots.  My legs felt poor during warm up, so I let Ty know I'd wait for the finish if necessary.  The plan was to have Mitch attack early, and he did right from the gun drawing a mix of jeers and cheers from the field.   Once it was brought back it was pretty steady racing for most of the night.

Few attacks got away free, and PV made sure to be represented in all of them.  As with most early season races there were some tactical snafu's and learning experiences to be had. 

When it came down to the last lap, the pack was still together and teams were starting to get organized for the field sprint.  Ironclad and PV were controlling the front keeping the tempo high.  I pack surfed a bit and latched on my lead out man Brian with 2k to go.  The two of us hung to the left side of the field coming through the last corner and shot up the middle of the road on the final straight away.  The field went right and were bunched up against the infield wall making it hard to move around.

Brian showed some impressive power as he launched the two of us away from the field to the 200m mark, dropping me off to take the win by a good gap.  His lead out was so stellar that he hung on for second place after sounding like he was going to blow a lung in the final 200m.

I picked up my first win of the season, my first ever win in a 3/4 field, and my first win post surgery. It made for a good night at the Burrito Shack afterwards with the crew.  I may not have had the best legs last night, but I had the best teammates.

Thanks Dr. Rask, Dave McHenry, and Russell Cree!

A big thank you to Dr. Rask of Hillsboro Orthopedic, Dave McHenry of TAI, and Russell Cree of Upper Echelon for getting me back on the road.

-Side note and a bit of a soapbox.  A pair of crashes during the sprints made for some dicey moments last night.  One early on when some wheels got overlapped during a prime, which unfortunately happens. But another in the final sprint which sounded like it was mid pack?  Sprinting for 20th is reckless.  Attacking from mid pack probably won't do you any good.  Take the opportunity to ride in safely with your fellow racers at the end of a nice evening.  I do hope those involved in the wrecks heal up quickly!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Redefining Epic

 

The word Epic gets tossed around a lot in the world of cycling.  One can take a look at any of the cycling web publication, and quickly find a number of uses of the word describing a particular stage or one day event.  But if everything is becoming epic, then what does that make those days which true are?

This past Saturday was my defining of Epic.  De Ronde van Oeste Portlandia.... with my ride in to the start from Hillsboro, and the ride home from the finish.  85 miles, and it sounds like close to 8,000 feet of climbing.  I was wrecked when it was all over, but happy to have completed such a massive undertaking.

I made it the entire way up Brynwood, although I had to restart once due to a guy stalling out in front of me.  College I walked about 1/3 of.  I slogged through the rest of the climbs with some teammates, shared the misery of every 15% incline that was tossed our way.

It was a beautiful day, and it was amazing to see so many cyclists doing this crazy event just because it's there, and its Portland.

Epic.