27 June, 2016

The Fat Tire 40 experience

hardest and funnest XC marathon race yet!
'Twas a glorious campsite

June 25th was day of the Fat Tire 40. If you thought the mountainbike Colorado State Championships were hard (I accidentally/intentionally took the long course instead of the short), oooh buddy; you've never done The Fat Tire 40 in Crested Butte. The reasons for doing this event was two-fold: a) Crested Butte's the shiz-noid; and b) even though I hold The Firecracker 50 in very high esteem, I needed another quality race to break up the Firecracker 50 same-o, same-o years of back to back to back to back to back racing.

This range is behind our campsite!
Ain't it purty?
Thursday, we gather our camping stuff and headout past Crested Butte to a recreational trail/campsite called O Be Joyful with our bikes and our dog, Bianca. We were talking about the previous places we've camped near Crested Butte and Gothic. From the information we gathered and verified on the map, Karen's place seemed the closest and this was it! Albeit, back in the day she said it only consisted of three or four; now it spans the river and newer sites radiated outward. In fact, our site was so new, we broke in our fire ring for warmth and cooking our meals. Mosquitoes weren't too bad; they were as bad as the biting, metallic colored flies I suppose. We don't rough it as campers, we bring our arsenal of intoxicating, ethanolic beverages and our queen-sized air mattress that fits nicely into our giant tent. Unlike Karen, I am content to wear my clothes for several days (she'll recycle but for not as many days). That way, my odoriferousity discourages the aforementioned flies and mosquitoes from feasting from my complex, yet earthy infused O+ blood that has a floral bouquet and a bacon-like finish (odd because I'm a vegetarian) that pairs well with a tangy Havarti cheese courtesy of our Danish neighbors.
In the morn o' Friday, my bowels (and sometimes the letter "Y", aka Old Faithful) are telling me to shake a tail feather and before I walk the 200 or so meters to the Casa of Dueces, I grab my camera and Bianca. One of the more unique flora here is what the locals call Skunk Cabbage. Its scientific name is Veratrum californicum. It ain't so good for grazing but once it blooms it sure is aesthetically pleasing. I bring my parka because it's around 40-45°F in the morning. The Bonks and the parka-ed I, proceed to walk up to the entrance of our campsite.
The one and only...Bonks!
This is our dog, affectionately known as Bianca. Her various nicknames are (in no certain order): Poops, Pooper, Poopy, Poopsie, Punkin'-dookie (Karen came up with this moniker when she was suffering heat exhaustion somewhere in Nevada), Pooper-pot-pie, Squishy, Squish, Squishypants (from our eldest daughter), Lee Wobbly (auto correct from Siri when I voice texted, "Doggly-woggly"), der Bönks (like the ümlâüts?), Bonko, Poochie-woochie, Poochie-bear, Bootchie-bear, Bonk-bonk-BEE-bonks (Karen), Bonk-bonk-BEE-bongs (again, from Karen), Monkey Pants (courtesy of Karen) and Bing-bing (again from our eldest). We walk around main street Crested Butte and we pickup my packet for the Fat Tire 40 I preregistered for several weeks back. Swag was okay but the number plate sure was groovy. Our Friday plan is to have oatmeal on the ready Saturday morning for a pre-race meal then head out to the racer's meeting before our 0800H start time. Karen is my soigneur, director sportif, race director, and general race coordinator badass that if your significant other isn't this supportive, I feelz bad fo-ya.
Here's the damage inflicted from the 40!
Saturday's RACE DAY.  I don't take pictures during the race but it is BY FAR, the most intense, incredibly beautiful vistas, painful, rocky-rooty, tightest single track I've done mile-for-mile. Eagle County's single track is probably the most technical (due to the gnarly downhills) condensed into the least amount of surface area. The start had us rolling neutral-like up Mount Crested Butte then dropping into sum gnarly rock and root strewn single track. Climbing up road towards the mountain already broke up the peloton, why because the town's already sitting at eight thousand feet. If you're not a local you gotsta pace yourself. My fitness placed me climbing with a group of local pro women. We were climbing at tempo but not breathing like steam locomotive. Once we dropped down into the singletrack it was lights out. The flow had me respecting the trail because around blind corners there would be a bed of sharp, gnarly rocks ready to throw you off your line if you didn't unweight and bust out your anti-gravity skills. It seemed like I was already climbing when I ran into a racer I was climbing up the road on our neutral roll out. We commented on how gorgeous the scenery was when she broke my scenery hypnosis saying, "hope you have some legs left because the climbing begins now." Holee crap did it ever! I hit all the neutral support for nourishment. At mile thirty or so, my chain's squeaking to me, "Yo noob, I need earl!" due to all the creek crossings and dust as I roll like a novice in this otherworldly place called Crested Butte. Once we drop onto Gothic I trade pulls with a South African guy who calls Boulder home and we rip pass a grip of racers. One of them is a guy I dropped on the climbs whereas he drops me on the downs (I have a hard tail because I'm too purist and a scare-tee kat). On the last climb, I'm content to pull all the way back to the resort because he's no longer coming around nor do I expect him to because I can sustain this speed okay. Last single track on the ski resort and I'm expecting a full-on downhill. Hell no! We're climbing again. We're passing million dollar, ski in-ski-out mansions on the hill. They have the courses marked like ski runs. We're on Meander- a blue- and it's fairly feisty. I see an T-bone intersection with a Green diamond (turning left) and a Double-black diamond (going right) and I'm saying to myself, "We better be going left motha fu**a (I lose my internal filters when I'm hypoglycemic and in pain)!" The markers say 'right' and I swear there are more rocks than roots on the closing miles...

I interrupt the story for today's lesson: For you roadies, the difference between road racing (I started out as a road racer, in fact I'm a Cat III) and mountain biking is: burning matches vs rotating flywheel. There are so many attacks in road racing you burn metaphorical matches to stay with the attackers hoping to drop the group. The one with more matches to burn as the finish line approaches generally wins unless you have a sandbagger that made the final selection or your sprint can't be detected with current technology. With mtb racing, you hitch yourself with a group whose flywheel matches more or less the torque of the collective flywheel. Yeah you can attack but it's not very efficient in marathon XC events. The mtb bike winner has a combination of a very large (rotating) flywheel or is a savant on the downhills or weighs 135 lbs (61 kg) and climbs like a billy goat. Can I get an Amen (amen, brother!)? Now back to the story....

Ouch! Finally we drop back down to a service road where another racer grabs my wheel but I bury myself (turn you sumbitch flywheel, turn!) towards town and march the largest gear I have in my single chainring Intense in a breezy headwind and little by little a gap opens up in such a way I have time wave to my Karen as I cross the finish line. Did I finish respectably? Prolly not but finish I did, boi!!
Thank you Niky's!
Here's the nifty Garmin link to follow my lame arse on the racecourse. Before we take a nap back at our campsite, we replace our kilocalories with shakes (vanilla based ice cream with Strawberry syrup: Karen; vanilla based ice cream with Chocolate: me, both topped with whipping cream) and all-the-while sampling mini donuts like the Heisenberg, Mother of Dragons, Butterfinger, and Cinnamon Roll from Niky's Mini Donuts off Elk Ave. My Garmin said I burnt 2,585 Calories.
course profile and elevation gain/contour
Thankfully we have the wherewithal to book a hotel room after the race Saturday night so our weary bones can be supported by a nice King Sized bed with an unusually high Egyptian thread count after eating our weight in pizza provided by the Secret Stash and drinks from the Dr. of Pepper. We hit the hot tub and the pool that had random, light changes for ambience for some hydrotherapy and a general decompression of the day,  From our sun burnt, dehydrated, dull-aching joints, the water solicits a playful, nonsensical smile on our faces with full tummies and lifetime's worth of Vitamin D. Tomorrow we hit the Lupine Trail!
Karen trailblazing with our pooch faithfully following

The Lupine Trail: Bianca's a great trail dog. Karen's attempting to show Bianca how to drink out of a Camelbak spigot/bite; if she ever figures that out, Bianca'd be even greater. She'll follow whoever's up front faithfully but we go fairly slow in order to not wear out her pads or her.

We have to be careful when we cross cattle guards but Bianca's slowly figuring that out too. What's cool about this trail is when you're not bobbing and weaving through tight singletrack, it kind of reminds you that there are drop-offs that could really ruin your day. Here's Karen negotiating a lefty-loosey curvey-curve with a major drop-off should you fly off the single track.
flowing left with Crested Butte in the far, right distance.
Karen has skillz too and it shows as she climbs like Satan passing another couple. Sadly we're that couple that wears a matching race kit (but not all the time). As we hit the switchbacks, Karen's leaning and countersteering with her inside knee like a pro and I chase her back to car where our Bonko's completely cratered playing chase the humanoids on the church of rotational mass.
Our ride punctuated the end of a magical 4-day get away to dem dere hills with equally magical companions of the two and four legged variety.
To sum:
-Fat Tire 40=evil genius from the minds of Crested Butte.
-We ride/race so's we can eat.
-Karen's a unicorn.

PS: Karen just checked the results and I finished 4th out 14 in my division which is 50+ open men. Average, baby.

29 March, 2016

Adventures with Billy The Kid: Spring Break 2016 Days One and Two

obligatory pano shot!
Let me preface it with the week preempting our Spring Break we had two monstrous snow days and I took a personal day to watch my kids because their break didn't coincide with mine. Needless to say, I took my middle daughter skiing with me the Monday. Worked Tuesday. Snowed like the dickens including a wicked pissa of a blizzard on Wednesday (snow day). The remnants of blizzard were so awful; Thursday became another snow day, that leaves Friday as the remaining workday.

the effort and cold is about to take hold!
First day, (or the first day I did an official activity) Saturday. Met an old friend-a former teaching colleague-at Winter Park for some Spring skiing. Skied for six hours! Unheard of for a man of my advancing years.

Second day. Skinny Tire Ride up to Dead Horse Point State Park. Here's my Garmin info if you're interested...https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1103021517
Kevin left; Billy right.
Kevin was pretty hardcore. He caravan'd with us out to Moab to ride DHPSP only to turn around and go back home after the ride; but first let me tell you how it started...
When we arrived in Moab around noon we parked at the Discover Moab sign (parking lot) and were bummed that it was slightly cold but then again we left Colorado where we were socked with a blizzard less than a week ago. We figured wearing one layer would be good because the first thirty miles were uphill (yes, thirty). That strategy worked for a while..
climbing up 313 via my sly selfie!
Little did we know the weather turned south quickly!

Here we are probably twelve miles into the ride. Weather's cooperative, our legs were feeling spunky, and the road wasn't too steep. As we kept climbing, the wind gusts and the sun's rays were quickly becoming inversely proportional (you guess what did what). GPS is great for data; GPS is awful for the ability to look at data if you're OCD about the destination.  I knew we were getting close because the thirty mile point was our turnaround. What did I do? Kept looking at my Garmin and slowly watching the pot NOT boiling. Ever so slowly we finally reach THE SIGN for Dead Horse Point State Park; but we needed another three miles of rolling roads to actually get into the park. By this point we were echeloning to share the brunt of these annoying side gusts while the mercury kept dropping (it's actually red dye in alcohol nowadays). The picture on the right is a road sign telling people to bust a left. Three miles and six burning legs later we make it to the actual sign. Here, I slyly suggested we should turn around to beat the weather and the winds but Kevin wanted to actually go the visitor center and Billy said he was down. So who was I to be a stick in the mud? So off we go to the oh so warm visitor center that had a public restroom. When we were tying our steeds to the post a mountain biker asked where we started from. We replied from Moab and she said she was impressed by our cycling feat. I wanted to say, "Are you also impressed by our lack of warm weather clothes?" Kevin, thankfully lets me bum his windproof vest for the downhill.

My lovely wife Karen, suggested we have an espresso drink because they have a coffee hut there; but we were so cold we just wanted to turn around. Actually it was me who wanted to turn around. Kevin saw the sign for the actual DHPSP view point was another mile (damn brah, another mile? My semimembranosus tendons flanking the back of the knee was feeling like it could cramp at any moment). Of course I left my knee warmers back in Moab because we were starting out warm. Dummy! The trade-off for my self-inflicted pain are these pictures of Dead Horse Point.
The erosive powers of water
Amazing views aren't they? Of course the mile to get to these vistas are downhill, so after we take these gorgeous photos, the winds are absolutely howling so we bust a 180 to high tail it out of there! The road there's one of the highest, exposed roads in the town of Monticello so we have no break from the winds until we pull out of the rollers and it's finally turning into a full tail wind. Yay! But until that point I'm pushing it fairly hard to get my exposed, one-layered, non-thinking self out of that stress test. The downhill back to town's a blast. We sprinted to a sign as we got closer to 191. I jumped waaay too early and Kevin diesels past me for the the win for bragging rights. The weather was fundamentally warmer near Moab and we could even tolerate the head wind (that changed on us) that taunted us on our way back to the car on the newly paved (relatively new) bike path. 62 road miles in Moab. Kind of blasphemous since Moab is the Mecca of mountain biking; but, that's how we-wait for it-roll.

22 March, 2016

My first and last half marathon?

We all left from Robb and Jill's ranch after we dropped off the poochies. Before that, I woke up at 5 a.m. to finish my grades to post to the district's grading program my urchin's academic efforts (at least for people who have a password). It all started after Karen and Robb ran 'The Other Half" half-marathon back in October; and one day, when we were all sitting around during Christmas break, somebody in the group suggested we do the first half, half-marathon come Spring. Me being rather susceptible to peer pressure said, "Ah, what the heck." as did my brother in-law. So. Six hours later and after stopping by The Hot Tomato in Fruita for an early din-din, here we are in Moab.
 If you look at the numbers, we had the opportunity to put a personalized message on it. Mine was "Fly or Die," Karen's was "runforpeace;" Drew's: Dopers suck; and Robb's: the number for Jean Valjean when he was in the French pokie. Got in just in time to get our packet pickup and to sample the free goodies from Clif Bar, who happens to be our cycling team's sponsor as well. Coincidentally it happened to be my brother in-law's birthday so we had a we bit of birthday cake i brought from Cake Crumbs back in Denver. Drew snapped the plastic knife from the motel 8 and needless to say it was a messy yet rather delicious snack before bedtime.
starting to pile up.

'Tis go day. We're up and at 'em and here's what the start line looks like. The start time's at 10 and we're up there by 8:30, so we relax. Once we're off, we're hoofing it pretty good. Karen, Drew, and I have to pee rather fierce so we find a porta potty with a rather long queue and wait it out. Robb's not feeling good this morning so he keeps running and we'll catch up with him later. Later comes, and around mile 9 my IT band is absolutely SCREAMING and I tell Karen I have to walk because I am in pain. So this is how I finish: I walk a bunch and run in twenty second intervals until I finally cross the finish line. I'm motivated by the pace setter carrying the 2:30 sign. What a great motivator. I'm the slowest in my group with a 2:30h. Karen finishes with a 2:12; Robb, a 2:13, and Drew a 2:10. After looking at my Garmin my last 3 miles were 14 minutes a piece. Ouch! Not done with half marathoning. Want to do it free of pain next time as evidenced by my gimpiness as we walk back to our hotel.

We end our hunger at Giliberto's, formerly Los Jilbertos for a mostly empty but delicious refill of kilocalories. It was actually fun...we'll see if another opportunity arises.

14 November, 2015

My son's racing now (and other stuff)!

Proud Papa! Notice the Tinker Juarez jersey!
Been cyclocross racing and it's a tough pill to swallow being an old man who used to rip it. I see the times of the young bucks and I admit, I get jealous because I can't lay those type of watts down from my wee pistons that did back-in-the-day. Now, I race because: it's fun (about 98% of the time), it's cool family time (whenever our teenage daughters can wake up!), I can eat junk (doughnuts, pizza, coke, then rinse and repeat) in moderation. To top it off, our son now races! It's cool. He's tried baseball (didn't make it this season after trying out), flag football (I think he liked it), and it seems he's really been bitten by the cyclocross racing bug. Karen and I got him his Specialized  Hotrock from Absolute Bikes in Salida and we keep it at our house (not his mother's), because it'll probably get mechanically ill there. So, when he's with Karen and I (we co-parent on alternating weekends and we have them over the summer) and there's a cyclocross race that weekend, that's what we do.
I've been trying to get an upgrade to become a Cat III cyclocross racer because I've gotten invited to race with a singlespeed team. I talked with our DS and he said it's okay to race on my geared Bianchi until I get the upgrade. Until then, I'm trying to finish top six. Holee mackeral it's hard racing here in Colorado especially when you're in my advanced years.

Today we raced Siena Lake. It snowed two days prior to the race and it was muddy for my 10:30 start time. At least the weather was above the thirties (fahrenheit for you non-English units people) as the week's slowly getting warmer. After the callup, the next most important thing about 'cross racing's getting a preview lap under your belt before the whistle blows so nothing's gonna make you grab a handful of brakes around the next blind corner causing you to take an embarrassing digger in front of the spectators (or your wife and kids). Wasn't able to preview so I wasn't able to process how I would approach and strategerize the two nasty, muddy, slick run ups. One after through a creek, and a long one where people were able to ride up it during the afternoon once it dried out a bit.

Holee Crap, I actually won! Unfortunately this was last week!

Warmed up pretty good and staged. I got a first row callup even! Our category goes so freaking fast, we caught the tail end of the senior men Cat IVs on the first lap. Yup, pandemonium ensured. That's when our group tried to bob and weave through them and I lost count of who got through. The numbering system on our backs didn't have a logical sequence so I didn't know who I was racing against in my group. The first quarter mile there was a nasty transition from the grass to the sidewalk; and some dude rolling on clinchers pinched ugly and flatted within 10 meters of the blowout. I'm finally running tubulars courtesy of my brother in-law and it's quite the game changer. I race against this guy Doug and he hollers out a play by play whenever I pass him or he passes me. It's kind of funny. Last race I got him, this race he podiumed. I had a blistering start and Doug and I moved through the fours fairly quick. On my fourth lap, the mud was so nasty on my run up (and like a complete novice) I ran my bike next to me like an outrigger and the mud collected ugly on my fork cluster. I couldn't even turn my tire so I had to pick mud out of the fork brace and five people passed me. The mud was so bad I couldn't even get my SPD cleat into my pedal. I am such a fair weather racer! This was my undoing and eventually I finished eighth. Two places out of upgrade points, where last week I actually won!
Muddy, people!
Yeah I won the Bluesky Cup. Know why? Because there was no damn mud! I guess if you put mud and inordinately long stretches of sand, I'm pretty damn useless as a racer.  I face planted on a downhill because I was coming in HOT baby and my tire sunk in deep, pasty chunk of mud. Lost some places there too. Third lap, no face planting here! It's amazing my cleats can still insert into my SPDs. It took a mighty big effort to jam my foot into them thar pedals. Needless to say I finished top ten-eighth, truth be told-and there was a smile on my face. It's a pretty amazing thing to have people yell at you at races, especially when it's your badass wife and kiddo. Now I have the phlegmatic, post-race cough after ingesting lots of pizza, Coca-Cola, and some Noodles & Company.
Flying the SingleBarrel Kit!
This drop-in was rather nasty but I rode it! Didn't help my finish though. That's my trusty Bianchi people! Love it! Need to clean her though, she probably has about 10 pounds of dried, caked-on mud on her!

To sum: family time's exponentially meaningful at cross races! Hope you're lucky enough to have athletic kids; personally, I hit the jackpot with my family.

14 December, 2014

Got shafted at State Cyclocross...

...but was still ite.
Saturday morning we were agog with sports. Truthfully just my middle daughter and me. My middle daughter plays 7th grade basketball and if the time works out, I was going to do my last cyclocross event of the season-the Colorado State Cyclocross Championships.
If you've never witnessed the spectacle that is called 7th grade girls basketball, it doesn't have a running clock, the refs call all the fouls, every 30 seconds there is a jump ball, and it's pretty much a full contact sport.  With that being said, it's still awesome watching my daughter get somewhat aggressive, taking shots, passing, and occasionally swatting a ball from an offensive player.
Fast forward to state cyclocross...
I get there late but manage to register.  I get on the course to warm up but my dumb arse gets busted for warming up during a race.  I wasn't being malicious, I pulled over when the racers came up, I know the preview flag was closed, yeah, I know that.  Before call ups the head ref called my name and busted me.  Told me I would line up dead last during the call ups for poaching the course.  Otherwise, I probably would've gotten a first row call up because I've been doing halfway good this season.
So, I says, to myself, "First of all, good job dumb-arse.  Now, that you're screwed from a decent poll position, where should you line up to get the best shot into the singletrack?"
The sprint is up a street, then a right hander over a ramp that's placed over the curb (yeah, homegrown but it does prevent pinch flats), then a lefty-loosey onto a screamer of an off-cambered downhill.  I know this because I previewed the course...
We're line up taking the whole lane and I line up right on the centerline.  I was seven rows back but my eyes (that were bigger than my sprinting muscles involved in sprinting) thought this would be good!
I says to myself, "When dickwad, aka the head referee, whistles us to go, I will hug the centerline and pass as many people on the leftside of the road as humanly possible because they're going to swarm right to lineup before the righthander."

Two minutes racers!
Bite me buddy, you just relegated me to last place!

One minute!
Nervous chatter dissipates and my drive side leg that's clicked in starts to toggle.

30 seconds!
You can hear a pin drop!

10 seconds!
I'm mentally counting down to anticipate the blowing of the whistle to jam my leg in my SPD!

The whistle goes, I luckily don't botch my SPD entry and I'm in the drops rocking the bike!  I think I pass the first two rows as we're sprinting up the hill!  Holee crap, we are close to each other going full tilt! We are elbows to arseholes inserting ourselves before the downhill.  Even though it turns right, it cuts left immediately downhill-like a two, 90° chicane.  I stay left and apex pass the people going right and keep my line and they line up behind me.  Now I've passed the bottom two-thirds of the peloton.  I am chugging in air like a frat boy chugs PBR with a beer bong.  Incidentally, I went to the University of Texas at Austin where that type of behavior is NOT tolerated.

A dude biffs it behind me on the off-cambered stuff, because I hear that sphincter clenching sound of organic mass hitting the deck with internal organs thunking on the endoskeleton complete with all leading side edges of the bike mechanically sounding off too.  Yikes!

Thank you sir, for slowing down my competitors.

Whoever designed the course was evil (aren't they all?) because there's this downhill off-cambered two-switchback portion that's super tight and to get through you have to go inside everybody as they negotiate this dusty, patchy, piece of cruelty.  People are running here, I ride and pass the runners as they remount.  Ah yeaugh, like the Jefferson said on their hit TV show, "I'ma moving on up!"

I catch a competitor/friend of mine and we're duking it out, exchanging leads, then he just flows away from me on the switchbacks.  Amazing.
Homey's about to pass me!

So now I just glue myself onto packs on the course.  At this point there isn't very many packs left because it's strung out.  I pass maybe three and get passed by one as it's the final lap? With about a kilometer left, there's a another chicane with a barriers and I can see the trio behind me.  I yell, "C'mon gentlemen!" so as to motivate our last two or so minutes of the season at anaerobic redline. They're still behind me as we hit the finishing sprint on the road.  Before the righthand u-turn in the road I drop it down three cogs.  The minute my rear tire's on pavement, my head's down and me and my bike are metronoming with all 3.25 cylinders firing!  They don't pass me but I almost pass the guy in front of me.
I finished 18th out of 40 some odd peeps.  Not bad for dead last I suppose.   Uncle Drew and my kids are out there yelling too.  I've gotten lucky with my new extended family y'all.  Feeling happy and Drew with his sly humor says, "Cheaters get bad call ups."  Thanks brah!
Now, I have this hacking cough from eating all this dust on a warm day in December in Colorado.  My Christmas break at school's about to begin and I am ready peeps!

28 September, 2014

Been awhile y'all (again)

Well, it's a been a strange and wondrous journey (my apologies to the author, Stephan Molnar-Fenton, who actually uses that phrase in his book about his adoption experience).  Strange in that I mean busy, that is--not fun!  I started my Master's program and it's pretty much sucking the life out of me but in a counter-intuitive way it's keeping me fairly focused as a kid who has ADD, hence the sabbatical on my blog.  Wondrous because as I continue on this destinationless journey I'm accompanied by Karen, my ass kicking kids, and our new poochie, Bianca, and I am thankful that it is indeed wondrous and a learning process for all involved in a kind, respectful sort-of-way.  I'm down with learning, okay, now onto cycling...

Been bitten by the cyclocrossing bug!  I owe my bug to my friends at Airborne, specifically Eric, my Ninja!  Last year, I tried really hard to race but had nothing but bad luck and callups so far back I was in a different zipcode.  It's not racing, it's more like expensive training.  This year though, after selling my house (the market was CRAZIZZLE, when I sold it!  In fact, Karen and Keb-moe and I were in Prescott, AZ for the Whiskey Off-road when my former student aka my real estate agent told me after 5 hours on the market we got an offer for $5k over!) and moving in with Karen to start our new life, coparenting with the 14 and under wrecking crew, starting my Master's, having my octogenarian Mom visit for 2.5 months, racing mountain bike marathon events and being a HS teacher brought about results on the CX endeavor.  It all started with Kickit Cross.  Amazing what a decent call up can do and an upgrade in the steed department, how that translates to an extension of the body as a machine that rolls with proficiency, no matter what the terrain or the weather throws at you (I say that now, I'm a fair weather kind of racer).  Advice is helpful too.  Wednesday's there is a weekly race and that race course is so loose and sketchy and anti-flowey, it makes me question my tires and my confidence in leaning.  There is a wee contact patch on a 700x34 cm tire as its velocity is always changing and the mass above said machine has to dynamically counter steer the center of balance while trying to put the evil smack down on the guy right in front of you!  I have no flow at the Wednesday nighters and it followed me to Kickit.  Jeff, my teammate said don't blow it on the first lap, there's enough places to pass on this course.  Sho' nuff, I was in the second row after callups and I can accelerate fairly decently so after they counted us down (Holy Crap my mind is racing when the referee says, "30 seconds!") and he blew the whistle.

Sand pit at Kickit, the guy on the far left eventually won it!
I practice clipping in my non-drive side when the whistle blows I'm in (my pedal) and rocking the drops on my carbon Bianchi for all its worth.  I line up sixth in the first lap and it pretty much stays like that until the last lap.  Kickit Cross was also the place of Colorado State Championships!  Crashed twice in the snow so I remember my disappointing past there.  In fact, Maura took a picture of me with my head down as a crossed the start/finsih line there last December.

My best position is third with a kilometer left and there is this fast, downhill, super patchy grass and hard pack soil bouncing me around (I put waay too much air in my tires) and my chain pops off!  I don't get off the bike but I try to finagle the chain back onto the chainring by playing with the derailleur as I coast downhill.  Two people pass me, but eventually, in the most untimely manner, the chain snicks back on the chainring.  I sprint like the dickens but the course is designed in such a way I can't get a power flow on for a pass without taking myself out as I chase (just in case I do).  I finish 5th and my teammate Jeff, 6th.  Dat's okay because I get decent callup points for my next two races!

3rd in Valmont and a DNF due to a flat at the Green Mtn CX.  This leads to redemption race this Sunday.

I'm going to go to bed soon, so in a nutshell
-I crashed Wednesday and road rashed my left elbow pretty good.
-I crashed at Cyclo-X re-abrading my abrasions.  Went to the EMT tent and they cleaned out the wounds good as I winced in pain!
-Karen was there so I raced as if I had a second set of legs and lungs.
-I finished sixth!  Probably because my teammate let me race on his tubulars.  My god those wheels are evil!

17 November, 2013

Butterflies and Cyclocross

L-R: Maricel, Me, Lauren, Tim, Conner, Maura, Kevin, Mason, and Kenny post-race!
There're still times when I get butterflies in my stomach:  hanging out with Karen and the start(s) of races.  More about the latter...

Staging's a fairly important deadline for the race participants hence, at least an hour before, we all are getting our numbers, pinning said numbers (hopefully you haven't got stuck by a safety pin, or in my case, two races ago, I was wearing a base layer with my long sleeved skinsuit and a teammate's wife pinned me in such a way that my base layer was attached to my skinsuit.  Didn't think that through well enough because I had to go boom-boom right before my race...), checking for the green flag so we can warm up on the course, meeting other teammate's wife's/girlfriends so if I bring my kids and they have theirs they can become a flock, going boom boom because of all the nervous energy, drinking for the last time because we are cageless in CX, and finally staging.

Another CX race?  Not today.  Today's kinda special.
Kevin staying loose on the course.
Today a friend and teammate was doing his first CX event ever, and I offered beforehand whatever race you pick, I'll line up with you; and, I did so poorly at this event two years ago I needed some karmic redemption.  He picked the Cyclo-X event at the Louisville Rec Center and that's where the convergence of other teammates, Kevin's family, and I met up.

It's quite a production getting my posse ready for an event but thankfully since they're all older and wiser it gets easier.  They still argue and that gets my blood roiling but they eventually settle down because Dad has the mental wherewithal to pack Pringles and Gatorades in a cooler so their tapeworm's settled which makes for happier kids.

Four days before the event, at Kevin's, we practiced dismounting and hurdling/portaging (our bikes) over Home Depot buckets to simulate the barricades.  Taught him the 4 contact point, scooter body position (as taught to me by another teammate-Kenny) to assume before you leap and hold your bike over the barricade.  Even though there are more curvy off-cambered singletrack on the course than there are barricades it's still good to be prepared.  I used to ride the brakes a lot on the curves but now I can flow (relatively speaking).  For example, I can lay it down on the straightaways (barely measurable with modern technology) but my competitors usually closed down the gap on the flowy sections because I couldn't be nuanced with my body english to pedal through the curves and keep my momentum flowing.

Kevin and I notice the green flag waving fiercely because the winds at this point are blowing!  Yea!  On top of being a difficult course we have the added value of a stiff and rather cold wind.  We insert ourselves on a part of the course where it's super snakey and downhill and rutted.  You know, terrain that makes your spinal cord and arms say, "Thank you sir, may I have another?"  Off we go to warmup!  We notice the parts where we have to drop it in the granny for the three super stiff climbs,  we also notice the section of the course where the headwind's howling, where the mud boggy sections are (just one today which would cause my Time's some difficulty in pedal re-entry), where the sand pit is, and the flats.  So what do after noticing all of these sections of the course?  Easy.  Go faster....  What I don't like is how heavy we're breathing from our "warmup" lap.  Kenny shows up and the Red Flag's out so we warm up on the road.  Of course, when we left Denver the weather was nice and now it's dropped in the fifties and wind is rip roaring.  Eventually we noodle our way to the staging area and we warm up in circles and then the call ups begin...

The lanes here are 14 wide for the callups.  Kenny gets his,  Tim, then me.  I line up a row behind Kenny.  This is like the mental purgatory part.  All 57 of us are lined up like ducks in a row champing at the bit to bleed out of our eyeballs to crush each other-or to have fun.  Okay that was a wee bit of a hyperbole but you do this because there is a competitive side of your personality/alter-ego.  There's always small talk about how you did on your last race, how freaking cold it is currently with this nasty wind (everybody's exposed skin is chicken skinning-y'all call it goose bumps), and where the parts of the course you should pay particular attention to.  The announcer says, "13 seconds!"  I say, Self?  That's a rather odd number to begin the countdown-izzle?  Then it's so quiet you can hear a pin drop, the butterflies in your stomach are rebounding off your insides with higher pressure, and you can hear the wind rush past your ears.  For 13 seconds your mind is either calm or it's like the guy on the movie "Waterboy."  That part of the movie, Adam Sandler's kicker's deciding in what direction to kick and on-side kick based on body expression of the opposing team's player and you're the guy, they're kicking to.

Dead silence...the whistle blows...then BLAM!  Kenny explodes from the start and is like third!  Tim as if they choreographed it, lines up like 10th?  Me?  I line up like 20th-not bad!  Brother Kevin (2/3rds of the homey trinity's racing today!) is somewhere behind me.

Controlled sliding baby!
There is a near 90°, left hand turn onto a barricaded run-up that begins the selection.  I say to myself, as I'm running up, "Self?  You're doing ite!" because nobody else is passing me and I pass a couple of people.  Next section super hard, right hand switchback into the rutty, near muddy section.  You look ahead and see where the packed down section is.  Which is fine if it's a single pace line but we have 57 people fighting for the lead and we're hitting the next selection 6 people wide, screaming with our hair on fire, dug in like ticks, with the singular goal of making that holeshot come hell or high water (whatever that means)!  We're all aiming for the packed down area in the mud that's only passable for one person!  Here's where people hit the brakes or dismount or fly off course.  The loudmouths yell something stoopid here and I make it a point to pass these people.  The flats are here and everybody in front of me buries it!  I'm on the drops keeping my position and we hit the flowy section.  I pass a couple of people from late braking and cutting off their apex but in a non dickheaded, safe (for racing) sort-of-way.  Next up, another barricaded runup.
Barricades plus runup= pain.
I get passed here.  Next a flowy, whoop de doo section with full-on head wind.  Keep my position here too.  Next a sooper gravelly section where you can mash the big ring.  I mash the big ring but it's like turning on wet rail road tracks and my front tire nearly washes so I get passed again.  On the last lap, the guy I had my sights on crashed on the downhill, off-cambered g'd out section, so thanks mister!  Also, thanks to Airborne for making my second year of cross racing mo' bettah on a quality rig-the Delta (affectionately and anthropomorphized as my trusty steed Delilah).

Cut to the end, I finished 27th.  Kenny unfortunately flats but would've finished his usual top five.  Tim?  That savvy, twin-turbo diesel finishes 3rd-a podium for Natural Grocers.  Kevin?  He finishes third from last, no mechanicals or flats, with a smile on his face as his family watches their Daddy in their first CX event.  Cool!
Tim, representing NG right (far left)!

I remember:  Samer, my kids, Nicole (Kev's lovely wife) and her kids yelling as we flew by lap after lap; being in too big a gear on one of the grunt climbs and having to dismount like a novice; passing a guy on a fast downhill, off-cambered section because he had a spectacular crash in front of me that didn't take me out!; finishing and finding my teammates and it turns into cough-fest; and, why is my heart still in my throat?  Improvements from last time?  My start.  Passing on the flats.  Riding the sand pit (first lap a dude biffed it forcing me to dismount).  Flowing.

Butterflies man!  Makes you do crazy things...