29 December, 2012

Well Hello Vivian!

Do it with impunity, I dare you!  You digging that paint job?
My Ninja Eric said he was going to mail it out mid-December so when a guy like me who needs discipline for delayed gratification (I often eat my dessert first before the main course if it's available-did someone say "flan"?) hears that, I get anxious awaiting its delivery.  I suppose that was delay enough? 

Happy to say, I received my 17" HobGoblin yesterday as I was doing some reading, cooling down in my living room after riding the rollers for 45 minutes from Santa Clause-Fed Ex dude.  I was shooting for an hour but golly gee y'all, have you ridden an indoor bike for training purposes?  No sane person would choose to ride a trainer.  It's a necessary evil because of the inclimate weather we're currently experiencing here in colorful Colorado.  Supposed to be in the high 30s this afternoon but bag that!  Still too deem cold y'all!  I'd rather have my toenails extracted slowly with rusty needle nose pliers than think about the mental drainage/damage required in sitting/balancing/pedaling on rollers while simultaneously looking at the minute hand for timing intervals. Speaking of rollers, I had a roller/indoor training date with Karen in her living room (because she's cool like dat!).  Me on my rollers; she on her wind trainer.  Hit 51.1 mph max showing off and didn't dump it then!  Cool huh?  Every now and again I just pop in a movie and see how long I can stand it.  I dumped it, sadly a couple of days after my roller date with Karen.  I didn't think my non-drive foot would click in so quickly on my down stroke in my Speedplays and I wasn't expecting the quick weight shift disequilibrium hence I fell onto my cushy-cush living room big-a$$ chair (Thanks Tim!).  That beats falling on the opposing side where my glass plated coffee table was located  (Thanks Shawnee!).  Embarrassing but funny. After the mind numbing workout, I had to delay my gratification upon building my new steed because I wanted to head out to my library before closing time where I eventually scored on some DVDs (for roller purposes-ugh).  The crappy thing about having a public library (I still love them anyhoos!) that services roughly 330,000 people is this:  the good books are lost (I'm assuming the bandits just flat out steal 'em!).  After keyword searching some of my favorite topics, the ones with the synopses I thought would be damned interesting and enlightening were, of course, tagged as lost/billed.  Bastards (the thieves that is)!

With this bike, especially, I wanted to do some endurance (ha!) mountain racing-you know, easier on one's spinal cord/arms/shoulders.  People with hardtails are still winning these events and I still really, really, love my 29er hardtail but it'll be an excuse to compare a 29er dually on these courses on its ability to flow and for recovery.  For the XC short stuff-32 miles or less-I'll fly the Guardian, which is my hardtail affectionately named Penelope.  My cyclocross bike's name is Delilah, and I think I'll name my dual boinger 29er Vivian.  Yes she looks like a Vivian.  She's cobalty, glittery blue with curves, along with white highlights.
Any Schwinn owners getting flashbacks?
The paint job reminds of the old school Schwinn kids bikes, thus evoking childhood memories of when I used to lived in Stockholm-NOT (my childhood was co-spent in Urbana, IL-you have to pronounce the 's' in Illinois and Plano, TX)!.  Hmmm.  Sad thing is, the weather here's still frigidly cold and the white stuff's still on the singletrack so Vivian's sitting in my house impatiently asking  when we're going out (soon baby-cakes, soon...).

A prelude to something purty!  It comes from Ohio relatively easy to assemble.  A chimpanzee might not be able to do it but a wily Rhesus monkey might could.  Not to be confused with a Reece's Pieces that might eventually melt...
I know this before opening up the box:  she's quality spec'd with SRAM X7, Elixir 3s, Monarch RL rear, Reba RL up front (both with lockout), tapered steerer tube (heavy duty!), 10x2, 17" frame, and GEAX 2.2s as her shoes.

Getting there with assembly in my living room...
work stand in the living room playing loud inappropriate music!  Take that HOA bastards!
As I finally build her up, I am noticing the wee attention to detail on how she was assembled.  The welds are crafty and ripple-like, the metallic-blue paint job on the website pictures barely do it justice when one's rods and cones observe it under natural UV radiation.  I present to you...Vivian (sans pedals)!!...
Woa! Finished product complete with ghetto chainstay protector!
Okay, here's my tentative endurance race schedule for the 2013 for racing Vivian (not including XC short track and the occasional crit and road race):
-The Ridgeline Rampage on 20 April
-Battle the Bear on 4 May
-Indian Creek on 18 May
-Gunnison Growler on 26 May (I've prereg'd for this one).
-Firecracker 50 on 4 July
-Steamboat Stinger on 10 Aug?

Time to lay off the residual sweets still hanging around and to ride/run my wintery self into some fitness.  I've worn out my rear tire on my road bike putting in quality roller time.  Time to go to Performance bike and see what's on sale in the rubber department.  Now I get on the rollers and finish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo...

16 December, 2012

Chasing Santa at Colorado's State CX Championships

Thanks Dejan!
 'Twas a dark and not so stormy morning...
When I left Denver it was 34° F 'round 7:00.  As I started rolling through Northglenn the mercury started dropping (actually they don't put mercury in thermometers anymore, just red dye and alcohol nowadays for the sake of uber-interested, orally fixated kids).  That's when I said, "Self?  Why didn't you pack your Corsa weight Natural Grocers jacket?"  I did bring sandwich bags though for me feets and by golly it worked out on the course (homemade, internal booties)!

When I got there, I knew my girlfriend's brother Drew would be out there because his wave went before mine so I was looking out for his yellow X-Terra.  As I got out of my truck to pick up my number he rolled up and asked if he could borrow my helmet because he forgot his.  I've done that.  At the Denver Federal Crit earlier this year, I had to borrow a helmet from a bystander because I forgot mine at home.  The deal breaker's usually the helmet or the shoes.  That's when you say to yourself, "Self, you better put that second helmet in your vehicle just in case."  Of course, my second helmet's over the shelf in my laundry room.

After I get my number pinned on my three layers of kit I get the green flag to preview the course.  One of the referees bust me because I'm flying the colors and riding sans skid lid.  So I tell him, "My teammate (Drew races for another team, truth be told) forgot his helmet and he's currently racing that's why I don't have mine.  May I borrow yours if you brought one?"  He says it's my lucky day because he brought his helmet.  So I put his helmet on, designed for someone who has a severe case of hydroencephalitis apparently (size:  mellon gargantuan), but I was so happy to preview the course and it fit under my kinda slightly bulky head gear and as I rolled on I said, "thanks."   So preview and warmup here I go...

When we get our callups we're eight wide and and I count nine, yes nine, rows.  Yikes!  I get third row and I line up for the holeshot on the inside line (the first turn is a righty-tighty) so if people want to pass me I have the line and they have to ask themselves, "Self?  Do I want to risk crashing because that handsome gentleman flying the Natural Grocers colors with the sandwich bags poking out of his shoes riding the Airborne Delta because he has the the inside line and I know 'cross racers aren't afraid to throw shoulders or elbow check hence running the risk of taking myself-and others possibly-out in a crash at the onset of the race?  I think not."

This week because of my apathy (not only that but I didn't care!) during my last race I learned a lesson.  My lessons to practice was my starts:  clicking my non-drive side shoe onto my pedal and sprinting out of the gate like Satan-not be confused with Santa but that's coming up!  My Shimano mountain bike shoes have very tight, recessed clearances between the cleat and the outsole/tread so it's not as easy as it seems and with the added mental stress of the official counting us down it's sorta difficult.  Another strategy I employed was some advice my Ninja Billy told me the night before.  He told me to channel the Filipino Clint Eastwood-my father for inspiration.  I showed him pictures of my Dad when he was younger and truly my Dad looks alot like the younger Clint Eastwood.  So that's what I did.  My Dad was the stoker and I was the captain.  Beautiful isn't it?  So I did that and it worked out nicely.  We are off and digging in, my behind looking like a swimming alligator's metronomic arse, my hand's rocking the drops and head bobbing like a savante (pedal Dad, pedal Dad we're catching 'em!!  I miss you Dad!).  In slow motion I see the guy directly in front of me front wheel kissing the guy's in front of him rear tire thus ensuring his one-way ticket to the pavement.  Sir, I regret to tell you, you have date with the X axis.  A competitor behind me with his GoPro filmed it.  I'm the guy in the orange pockets, white shouldered jersey with the silver cross bike.  Click on the link.

So he get's bucked off his pedals and he's hanging onto his handlebars-I'm seeing this in slow motion-and I say to myself, "Self?  You sure can pick the winners to line up during callups."  As he's actually sliding off his bike to his right, he finally releases the handlebars and the momentum of his forward force scoots his rig over the gentleman's rear tire in front of him and it catapults his bike at least six feet in the air.  Here I am saying, "Slow motion Self?  The negative coefficient of this current, skinny parabola of the flying bike will make me the first thing that gets hit once his bike conforms to gravitational attraction at the current velocity I'm traveling."  So homeboy is cartwheeling to my left and his bike's trajectory is also to his left i.e. me as its target.  I do a major Atari lane change and some drift braking (thanks disc brakes!) as we're charging out of the gates like Pamplona's Running of the Bulls and I just graze homeboy's shoulder (with my left leg) and the bike lands/bounces millimeters off my left side.  Amazingly he only takes himself out but of course I lose some placings as people get around my unlucky self.

So I'm lined up in the singletrack and getting passed in the frenzy but also fighting for position.  At the super twisty portion I'm at the slowpokes's mercy (some people are actually off their bikes running) but at least I'm somewhere in the middle as opposed to being lanternrouged like last race.  When it filters out I'm in a string of riders where our skills and dieseling ability are close.  Here's the surreal and quasi-embarrasing part:  the guy directly in front of me is dressed up in a Santa suit complete with cheesy white beard!  I say, "Self?  You're NOT going to let Santa put the smackdown on you are you?  Uh, no self, that is not going to be an option today."  After the twisties a super long straightaway's coming up and I say to myself, "Self?  Burn a match, open up the twin turbos and pass Saint Nick!"  Sheeyat.  Saint Nick kicks in his afterburners and actually put's a car length on me as we're both digging in!  I can't get him!  Deem Saint Nick! 

Here's some more surreality:  after the first lap the stitching on his pants is coming undone on his arse side and I don't know whether to laugh (which I did) or get more upset (did that too) because Santa is testing my mettle!  Again, we pour it on on the flats and he ever so slightly gaps me.  Finally he pops before the second round of twisties and bumps come up.  I'm dieseling pretty good and this is my position plus or minus a couple of hominds towards the end.  As I pass Santa I say something encouraging so as to be more nice rather than naughty.

This run-up beats stairs any day.  Still sucked though

Last lap, I'm gassed and I'm leading a pack of 4 four.  You know what that means, if the dude behind me has more juice at the end I'm gonna get passed.  We're flowing, he tries for the pass at the top of the run up, I punch it and I'm leading towards the right hander onto the finish line which is pavement.  Hands on the drops, chain on the biggy-small (as opposed to the rapper Biggy Smalls), we both wind up our sprints, heads hovering above our stems, rocking our steeds digging in.  He's coming for the pass but the finish line is also coming up so I throw my bike to break the plane first but as luck would have it, he finishes before me officially (thought I had him!).  Nice!  Left everything on the course and our Natural Grocers placings are 27th, 30th, and 34th (me) out of 70+ people today.  I'm average.  Oh well.  Had fun as opposed to last race's efforts and mental satisfaction.  I shake the dude's hand who squeaked by me and we do a partial cool down (more like a freeze down) on the course and head back to the staging area.  I see Santa checking the results and I say, "Good Job Santa."  At this point, his pants now look like ass-less chaps adding to my day of fun, satisfaction, and race-induced surrealism.  My teammate from Wyoming says, his next race is an endurance race in Castlerock.  60 miles of easy topographically speaking, mountain bike racing.  Okay,  April 21st I'm going to be looking for fitness and it's a date with racing again.  Stick a fork in me, I'm done for the season y'all.  Now, I'll have to be extra vigilant dietetically and aerobically while doing freezing group rides with my peers, teammates, and competitors in the Colorado off-season.

On the way home, Drew and I eat an amazingly unremarkable breakfast consisting of short stacks o'pancakes at Johnson's Corner outside of Loveland; but, at the very least, I've got a good tale to tell Karen at her Christmas party which was amazingly remarkable

08 December, 2012

Getting there...

Das Pain, not to be confused with Das Boot
End of the week y'all.  Officially we have nine days left of school.  Went by quicker than what I remembered from the previous years.  Half the year nearly completed!  The school year's analagous to a well written novel (minus the mind numbing e-mails and district mandated accountability tests).  There are twists and turns (who's going to pass, who's going to fail, who's going to squeak by?), a convoluted but predictable plot ("Hey kids, contain your excitement but today...PHOTOSYNTHESIS!!" or who wants some VSEPR!  thought so!"), a climactic part (mid terms, finals, stress from grading), and a resolution (break!); then the next chapter begins...
Taking Delilah for a walk in Louisville, CO.  Crash wound under wraps from last week
 From the previous blog entry, my transition into riding the cyclocross bike hasn't gone (crash, crashing, and crashes) as well as I'd like so I've been riding with one of my best buds and new teammate Kevin (aka the "Son" from the Homey Trinity).  He has private, singletrack trails behind his house that are 'cross bike friendly (long patches of babyhead rocks is where I need to float but for now I'm a braking, quasi-hovering pilot barely flowing over that nonsense) and we've gone for a couple of night rides.  Kevin on his 26" Yeti dual boinger and yours truly on an Airborne Delta afffectionately anthropomorphised into a gal named Delilah.

Bandimere, before my crash.
Here's the hierarchy of skills from my humbled and limited point-of-view.  The best way to start off as young urchin/underling/journeyperson is BMX.  Did a little in Texas so I had some skill for the hardtail mountain bike.  Only then young grasshopper when you are proficient on the hardtail can you transcend to the dual boinger.  Some people on the dual boinger do just fine without cutting their teeth on the old school hardtail but you establish the basics more soundly on the hardtail.  Now it seems, I should've done 'cross in my earlier years after the road season ended to establish a more nuanced and surgical turning skill(s).  The fat mountain bike tires are so forgiving and confidence inspiring that I can really point and shoot it over any crud and I'll go there.  Like my Volkl Karmas, they're so fat under the foot and at the waist she just pushes the crud out of the way when I go off piste skiing.  Not so with skinny 700c tires.   Gotta be smoof like water in the lean and body english.  Gotta learn how to enter the turn keeping the speeds high so I don't have to brake.  I'm at that steep learning curve where the cost of failure is crashing (hello knees and hips, does that hurt?  yeah, I thought so.)

Riding with Kevin these last couple of night instilled my confidence again on Delilah.  He'd lead and I'd follow.  It's kind of cool weaving and bobbing in the scrubby areas of his trails where the singletrack topographically undulates while it twists and turns flanked by large flora that at night, limits your vision even more.  All the axes (X, Y, and Z) are coming at you and your brain has to interpret the data, sending feedback to my steering motor neurons (hands are in the drops, not confident enough to ride the hoods yet) and just enough watts to my size 42.5 cms.  Add the cold and it heightens your other senses to keep you aware from crashing.  Sometimes I lose track of my wheels, most of the time we're riding outside of our lights in the twisties but that's what makes it fun and a bit dangerous (re-cycling it back into fun-a perpetual cycle of endorphin/endocannabinoid release-how many times can I say 'cycle'?).

After an hour and half or so of this, even though we're wearing neoprene gloves and booties (I said, "booty"), sadly, our toesies get cold.  Cold enough to call it a deal breaker but all we do are loops and we're really never that far from his house.  It was fun.  Hopefully my skills are improving from chasing him.  I like it when I come up on sandy portions so I have to float at the last minute or the blind downhill corner where the babyheads greet me and where I be gotsta float.  If I do have to do emergency breaking (oxymoronic term) thank goodness for disc brakes.  My confidence'll eventually get here, but for now I'll ride and freeze until the snow arrives, which apparently is, later this afternoon.  I have rollers (but good Lord they ain't even remotely fun!).

State Cyclocross is coming up.  If I have enough gumption (and currency, minus snow) I'm a do it...

These photos are from Dejan Smaic's very cool website http://www.sportifimages.com

02 December, 2012

Great Week, Bad 'Cross Day

So I've recently acquired an Airborne Delta (her name's Delilah) cyclocross bike.  Thought I'd be killing it on the scene, 'cept it's the other way 'round.  I'm getting killed y'all!  Not literally but I thought I could throw a leg over her fast self and transition quickly to riding skinny 700cm tires with no shocks, drop handlebars out here in the ever changing, non-consistent riding surfaces/topography of Front Range 'cross courses.   

Ha!  I am a Cat VI.  My first race ever on Delilah, at Bandimere Speedway-the Quarter Mile Cross-resulted in a 14th place finish and a crash.  The skinny tires are about a beeyatch y'all!  Too many years of late braking, early entry, inside-outside-inside, super hard leaning counter steering ain't what 'cross turning's about.  I don't know which is harder-trying not to brake in loose gravelly, sand, asphalt chunks while negotiating serpentine turns; or, going over wet railroad tracks!  It's not confidence inspiring.

Today I did a race in Louisville and not only did I crash but apathy settled in.  I came from a road background so hitting it like a scalded cat when the firing gun goes off in crits is what I'm used to.  However, today when they counted us down-and I had a nice placing from my callup-I just let the riders pass me as we were gunning it toward the singletrack and that's when my race was over.  I was slotted so far back in the pack I turned into a tourist.  I was at the mercy of the long line of riders' pace in front of me while the lead group extended their lead.  It sucked.  It took the wind out of my sails.  Passing with no shocks in the rough where my confidence is lacking because of not enough hours on Delilah was not an option either.  So I had to suck it up until it single filed into skill level. 

That's when I started picking them off; but I was so far off the back, my picking wouldn't even make it halfway.  That's also when I crashed.  Crashed so hard it knocked my rear wheel out of its dropout.  By the time I put loosened my quick release and centered the axle back in the dropouts at least six perambulating-by-wheels hominids passed me.  It took a while to pass 'em back up but pass 'em I did.  Didn't do me any good.

Bad day.  Lost it mentally.  Crashed like a novice.  Crappy placing so no points for team overall.  I had no focus.  Completely my fault.  'Twas a learning experience.  Wished I had been on Penelope.  Half the courses here favor a 29er anyways; but I'm making the transition to be a 'cross rider.  Need more hours doing race stuff on the skinny tires and practicing my dismount at speed.  I can run and portage with the best of 'em.  I can absolutely bury myself on the flats and put the chain on the large-small and put multiple car lengths on my chasers but when the twisties show-up they've closed the gap.  Need to learn how to flow through that stuff.  Noticed that my hands are on the drops in the twisties.  Don't know if that's a good or a bad thing.   That lighting of novicity ain't gonna strike this kid twice!

Silver linings to save the day?  Chris, the two Neils from Wyoming representing Natural Grocers, Joe, and Rob showed up at the race and afterwards Chris shared his Modus Operandi 12-pack with us in the blistering heat here in Colorado on the first day of December and we laughed; and, I went to dinner with Karen and her brother later that evening-and we laughed there too.  Not too bad overall I suppose...

I'm riding with my friend and new teammate Kevin tomorrow so I'll forget about my Cat VI self temporarily while on my road bike enjoying the Front Range's current heatwave.

15 November, 2012

Off season/'Cross season/Eatin' season

Pics courtesy of my daughter.  Airborne's products do me rightly.
Off-season (for road).  Raced 13 times this year. Raced on an Airborne Guardian this year on all my mountain and cyclocross events. Mentally, I have sine-waved through mild burnout/apathy and let-me-in-coach episodes.  I'm currently in the latter due to the placebo affect of: I'm fitt'na get a proper 'cross bike.   Airborne's Delta.  Thank you Airborne.  If you've been following me for a while, you might've noticed I've undergone some considerable changes in my life.  One of my saving graces has been the therapeutic value of riding.  Therefore, my continuation of my two-wheeled addiction via Airborne Cycles probably saved my mental state in immeasurable ways.  I say ways because there were non-two wheeled interventions as well.  Even though Penelope's (my Airborne) not a welterweight, she'll pack quite the punch on the course; and every now and again, when I don't respect Mother Nature, she'll be Mother Nature's conduit and remind me-via crashing painfully-who runs the singletrack.

My friend said when he received a proper 'cross bike he moved up about five places.  Won't be able to race her until December because for the rest of this month I'm saving up my dollars to go see me brah and me Mum (you didn't know I was English did you-I'm SE Asian English as a matter of fact) in Phoenix.  Driving the couch 1600 or so miles with my chilluns.  Rountrip.  Going to fire off a ride in the Sonoran Desert too.  If y'all have never ridden in any desert-type setting it's pretty amazing.  That's why I frequent Moab.  It's quite the audio-sensory treat.  It's so foreign from living in the city or the suburbs that when you get out there, its  newness, and how your senses input that data to your brain could be a touch overwhelming (but in an inconspicuous sort-of-way).  I can see why all the "kooks" of society flock out here.  Whether to channel spirits or burn effigies or for whatever therapeutic/cleansing reasons the desert is a welcoming place with gobs of vastness, with a slight hum if you listen real close and she actually encourages you to do what you want (in an ethical way, that is).  The deluxe deal of this is I get to ride with my brother and afterwards hangout and dine with the family and some of their close friends.  Can't wait.

My cyclocross season (I guess for that matter too my cross country season) on Penelope the 29er has been fairly successful.  Even though I'm not in the upper echelon of 'cross categories I have won one and finished top 15 several times-on my Airborne Guardian 29er!  This season, due to many reasons-the least was treason-and due to my brain seizin' and my Airborne pleasing and egged on by my friends' teasing, since I own my house and I ain't leasin', and this Thanksgiving I'm fittn'a do some eatin', plus this off season I want to ease in, I participated in the most 'cross events ever.  It's basically 35-45 minutes of anaerobic effort-I don't even run a water bottle in these events-and to piss off the racers-I mean to make it more challenging-the organizers throw in for good measure(s):  barricades (which some can bunny-hop, I cannot), (flights of) stairs,
 off-camber steep pitches, and sand pits.  You either ride through or over it or you portage your steed then remount and continue your ballistic velocities before the timer goes off or you bonk or cramp ugly or crash and have a wicked (oooh wicked!) mechanical.  My Crossmax's though are not feeling it (or they're feeling it too much).  Hope I can get another season out of them.  Mavic knows how to make a nice wheelset.  Here's proof that 'crossing can be done on an Airborne 29er.  Came in 12th out of 50 last week..
We finished 12th and 13th today.  Both of us riding 29ers.  Me on an Airborne, him on a carbon fiber Supefly

Eatin' season.  Yeah, I'm going to eat.  Even though I'm vegetarian the eating of pumpkin pie (pronounced PUNK-in pie) will be welcomed.  Probably going to bring some Tofurkey and Qorn to my brother's giving of thanks at the dinner table.  Won't go too crazy with the absorbtive process.  The stresses of racing resulted in my morphology the lightest it's been in years so as a vain road-weenie, I kinda wanna keep the extraneous pounds off.  Had to buy some new pantaloons and punch more holes in my belts because of this.

The Holiday Season's going to have a smidge of a different yet exciting vibe this year with my Dad gone and my kids living in another zipcode (I'm coparenting so we thankfully still cohabitate) and my new relationship with Karen, but isn't that what defines your life? Change?  It's a learning experience.  I like to learn (learning can be painful).  There's always something to learn y'all. Well, I can say this at the very least, on two wheels I'ma learn to fly like Satan on a proper 'cross bike...
Here she is.  This picture says a lot actually.

01 November, 2012

Thinking on my October Break

Penelope and I.  Click on the picture and read my politically incorrect socks!  Thanks Airborne!
Don't even know where to begin.  With the coming of the school year and a new principal it has been quite the workload.  I don't mind working.  I love my job.  I'm no stranger to back-to-back-to-back 8+hour days; but, when October Break rolls around I truly have to grab my vacation by the horns (Hook 'Em Horns!!!...sorry) and get back my rest and recreation in order to be a better teacher, Dad, and dare I say boyfriend?

Been incredibly busy so here's what the Cycling Dad's been up to that now I can actually blog as my break (and what a fine break it's been!) is coming to an end.  Not a conclusion but just an arrested break. I know y'all are just dying to know what I've been doing (that was sarcasm y'all)...

My Airborne (the Guardian)-her name is Penelope-has been nothing but superb at the cross races I've participated in.  I get dropped on the long flats, just don't have the gears (or the horsepower?) but on the twisties and the sandpits and even some of the loosy-goosey stuff, she rolls like a fiend. I even went on two separate trips to Moab (took the Airborne on both)!  One with the Homey Trinity and the second one with Karen.  Both were splendorous in similar yet separate levels.  Even won a cyclocross race!  First one in decades.  I won my first two races as an undergraduate at the University of Texas waay back in the day.
Can you believe it?  I won a race!  My teammate Jeff came in third.

Moab Trip Number 1 with the Homey Trinity.  Since it's been a while and my short term memory's not going to do it justice, we did the Portal Trail when the sun was out (finally) but needless to say she likes human  offerings.  Her offering of choice are human ribs.  Last time we were there she punched me something fierce and I was down for the count for a couple of months.  This time she wanted Billy's ribs.  'Twas a nasty low speed fall that got him.  Like mine, he just fell on the rocks with nothing but his ribcage to brace his falling mass.  Ouch!  While Billy was healing in town, Kevin and I went ballistic at (the) Sovereign Trail.  We went absolutely full tilt.  It was a blast.  We did an out and back.  The Airborne was a bucking bronco but she has trail manners on the Moonrock sections.  Here are some pictures in no certain order.
This is Billy.  He's a goner should he turn right.  Quite a price to pay for a picture yes?  This is near the Portal Trail.
Billy striking a pose in the nose bleed section of Moab.  You just can see Highway 191 at the bottom left.

Here's Kevin at Sovereign.  Hell yes, it's that steep!  Gnarly don't you think?
Here are the youtube videos I made with Billy's GoPro and from my free trial with Video Pad Editor.  Great editing system.  I'd consider buying it if I wasn't so gosh durned cheap...
Part 1 (click on the link to the right).  Part 1 of the Portal Trail with the Homey Trinity
Part 2 (click on the link to the rght). Part 2 of the Portal Trail with the Homey Trinity  
On the second video I inserted a subliminal message.  See if you can spot it, let alone read it.  Here's your hint:  be quick with the spacebar.

Moab Trip number two with Karen.  I can fill another, separate blog about Karen's personality but that would bore y'all.  She's amazingly special, a class act and she's a vegetarian, teacher, and a mountain biker.  Ite den, don't wanna jinx us.  On our way out, Colorado had one of those nutty Winter weather blasts of snow especially in the high country.  Had to put the Tundra in 4wd to get over Vail pass and through Breckenridge.  The Tundra has a nickname.  Karen and I dub it the "couch".  The couch can hold two mountain bikes with the front wheels removed in the bed and weekend gear.  It's taken five adults with mountain bikes and gear to Moab.  The couch has taken my kids to California comfortably.  I love the couch (but I won't marry her).  The couch can go fast.  The couch likes petrol.  My couch is red (sadly I don't have one in my actual living room, nor a vacuum cleaner).  The couch has heated seats!  In Colorado, heated seats are deluxe.  I drive a couch and I like it!

We rolled out of Denver at six ante-meridian.  After taking the scenic route towards Moab, our first day's ride was at Klondike Bluffs and later at Moab Brand Trails.  Second day we rode Dead Horse Point State Park (absolutely beautiful, and Karen slayed the trail) and hiked Negro Bill Canyon.  On our way back home we stopped at Fruita and rode Horse Thief Bench/Loop.  Here are some pictures in no certain order. 

Dead Horse Point State Park.  Breathtaking no?
Power hiking at Negro Bill Canyon before the sun went down.
Overlook at DHPSP
My October Break has been quite spectacular.  Rode every day in the break.  Graded some papers but not quite done.  Spent Halloween evening with Karen and her family-that was cool.  My costume was a purple zoot suit from the thrift store; she was Yoda (or Yoda, she was).  Saw the Boulder Gran Prix of cyclocross where Ryan Trebon just beat Danny Summerhill.  At the same event saw Georgia Gould win her event convincingly!  Exciting.  Rearranged my new (spartan and austere) house in such a way that stuff is off the floor.  Not exciting.  Bought some CD racks from Craig's list.  Again, not exciting.  Read.  Ate to replace the calories I've been burning.  Even been eating ice cream!  Bought the used (but new to me) TV On The Radio's Dear Science CD.  Sonic excellence.  Been bitten by them after hearing their Return To Cookie Mountain release-thanks Alec.  Spectacular.  Ate at Root Down (pretty hip, Denver restaurant) with Karen and earned 100 Open Table points (don't know what that means but I've got one hundred points!).  Highly recommend that App for ideas and for reservations.  Don't remember any October Break being this memorable.  Looking back, it is quite the trajectory to my current condition.  I don't recommend the path I took to get to here but needless to say I'm here.  I'm learning.  No regrets.  Feeling the sting of a single income.  A little unpredictable sadness creeps up at times but nothing a good ride or supportive friends and family can't fix (thinking back on it, my therapist sucked!).  Miss my Dad.  This'll be my first Christmas as a non-familial unit.  Hmm.  Seeing Mom and me older brah for the giving of Tanks.  Road tripping with my chilluns out to see them in Phoenix.  Hopefully I-40'll be mellow weather-wise.   Should be fun.  C'mon indoor, heated pools in Albuquerque and Santa Fe!!

What a journey it's been so far.  Still developing, let's see where it goes but I'll tell you this:  I'm absolutely digging life.  Work's going to happen soon but not right now.  I'm savoring this the way your little brother would savor the Oreo cookie globular filling he was saving and accumulating while you were eating the cookies like there's no tomorrow.  And here he is eye-balling the sugary goodness while you're saucer-eyed in disbelief that he could construct such a glorious lipid and carbohydrate hybridized gooey monstrosity that's so sweet it'll make your teefers hurt.  Yeah that's me (except even more grateful and thankful). 

11 October, 2012

Cyclocross racing on a Wednesday night.

Been a whirlwind of a teaching year.  Not really a year but a quarter.  It flew by.  So many developments  coupled with the workload (self-inflicted, mind you) can make one go nutty, so what's a cyclist to do to alleviate the stress and get under the temporary guise of sanity?  Ride, ride, occasionally sneak in a race, and have a supportive person and place to land.

So with the end of the quarter comes the time limited impetus to grade the final projects, exams, and other delinquent assignments by day's end.  Even though mission was accomplished it's only through trading off sleep for work.  Yeah it was cumbersome but the next day was a day without kids.  A day our collegiate coaches at the Professional Development building here at my district thought it would be helpful if we planned the Standards for the new Chemistry text we're piloting.  Okay no more work but to make a short story long, it was a day out of the classroom.  That meant not the usual crowd control therefore different kinds of stressors were put in place because we had to rough-out our second quarter standardized goals with the National Science Foundation's.   Day's done time to race!!

Since I live in the hinterlands here in the Front Range it takes me about 45 minutes to get to the event out in Golden.  I drive like Satan's coachman and I make it with 15 minutes to spare.  Pin my numbers on my long sleeve skin suit, wiggle into it, crouch down and pee next to my truck, get on my bike and wait for my callup.  82 hominids also decided to race my event this evening.  82!  The elite girls go before us and we're off in two minutes.

He counts us down and boom we're 15 deep steamrolling into the single track, sharp right turner.  I line up 10th and I see my teammate Brad killing it off the front.  No chill drafting even in 10th.  Gaps are already forming and I'm thinking I hope I keep my position.  Sure enough a group of five rolls away and the five I'm behind are lollygagging.  I go for the pass whenever I can but they shut me down on the straightaways on my 29er.  Passing in an XC mountain bike race is easier than a pass in a cyclocross race.  They're kind of downright dickheaded when you are the passer and they are the passee.  I pass some, I get passed back, I pass some more then we hit the pack of women.  Passing now becomes a vacillating process of artform and downright road raging (I'm not a dick when I pass the girls).

We roll through the pack of women and the group of five that gapped us are gone.  So I'm drafting 10th just biding my time making sure I don't get passed and keeping the throttle open enough so there's little to no daylight in-between my front tire and 9th place's rear.

On the next to last barricade, I click out, slightly lose my balance and I crash.  What the?....  I even hear the crowd go, "ooooohhhh!"  I get passed by two people!  I get on my bike after the barricades and I drop it in the largest gear, lock out my fork and pass 'em right back before the righthand sweeper.  Take that suckas!!!

Bell lap, time to bust a move.  On the long uphill straightaway I sprint past 9th and oddly enough, he doesn't stay on my wheel.  So why is that?  He accelerates when he hears me winding it up, shuts me down before the turn but when I burn a match drag racing past him he dies?  Weird.  Passing the next two is difficult.  I keep getting shut down and the finish line is coming closer.  There's a particularly serpentine part of the course that's poorly marked and just right before the left hander, I short cut the apex of the course around a rather large bush and pass 'em.  I don't feel bad because again, they're not on my wheel.  Weird isn't it?

There's a long-ish straightaway where the potential to get passed once more looms in my reptilian brain stem.  So my strategy is to burn my remaining book of matches on a portaging portion of loose dirt while they portage, I ride and put some daylight between us.  Okay they're clicking out, stepping through, throwing it on their writing hand shoulder, and I'm guttering the course right next to the roughway pedaling like a fiend, ever so slightly getting spatially even with them.  Once we're on flat ground I get the gap because they lose time re-mounting their steeds, whereas I'm already marching the largest gear Penelope has, dieseling my baby towards the finish line.

I put about a two car lengths on 'em because officially I am dug deep and my watts are dropping off to the pedals.  Keep looking back and the gap's staying consistent.  One more steep bump and the finish line's around the bend.  I sprint to 6th!  My teammate takes second, he couldn't get around number 1.  Boo to number one.

My teammate Brad's 2nd and I'm down in 6th.  Go Natural Grocers!

My Airborne, Penelope, did me rightly-even crashing!  Thank you Eric and Jeremy!  And thank you legs and thank you Natural Grocers!

We, my teammate Brad and I, race the next higher skill level group after our wave and I. Am. Done!  I finished 17 out of 41?  Brad's on another plane of fitness.  Oh well, tired as I am I have a rather silly grin displacing the contours of my face!  On my way home, I eat an entire 13" pizza with my other teammate and complicitor, Kenny L at Kaos pizza near his hip house in the hip part of Denver. 

Did I mention I'm going to Moab this weekend with my honey?  Oh boy-like Christmas y'all!  What a way to end the week.

15 September, 2012

Friday the 14th (aka insomniac ennui)

What an amazingly long and energetic week.  Where does one begin?  From all my undergraduate physiological testing (quid pro quo from the racers was free blood work if you agreed and signed the death waiver for nutty physiological experiments from the grad students) from the best University in the world-the Universtiy of Texas-I deduced my fatigue comes from my lack of Fe, Iron, pronounced Eye-ern.  It has 26 protons and what this lovely element does for us is that it provides the backbone of hemoglobin.  Heme holds four oxygens.  When I was racing for UT what the physiologists noticed that I was rather anemic.   

So are you suffering from trouble focusing?  Maybe fatigue?  Perchance insomnia?  I is peeps.  Not chronically but now.  What my friends at work are suggesting is to eat a big steak.  As tempting as that might sound, I am a vegetarian, okay a pescatarian for my occasional forays into sushi. What prompted this bout of anemia you might ask?  Well, I raced a cyclocross race Wednesday and yes, as well as the release of endocannabinoids, it also made my hip flexors rather sore.  So what does one do to up this?  Ride the hour of power the next day.  I was yawning up a storm before the ride but the need to ride the bike supersedes the sloth-like tendencies of riding the couch (if I had a couch).  Remember too that as a teacher I have to do stuff like grade and plan and setup/breakdown labs between my bouts of playing racer wannabee.  Grading is not so bad when you have class company but regardless, the racing and teaching reduces sleep time.  Been slacking on my recovery rides and drinks post race too, so I guess that's partially my fault. 

Ahh shite.  Did it come to a head today!  As soon as school got out I crashed!  After I got up amidst a crushing headache I wanted to eat.  Without my kids apparently I don't have the wherewithal to buy groceries.  Opened the fridge and there was nothing inside except butter (contained in Jay's butter dish-that's another story), pickles, a chunk of cheese that I'm pretty sure is past due, Sirachi sauce (yea!), Picante sauce (yea!),  flax seed...etc. You get the picture (of the absent minded single Dad)?  My hurting unit self went back to bed in my foggy stupor of a headache and grumbling stomach to sleep.  Slept off the headache woke to a roaring stomach now I'm hungry and it's 1:30 in the morning (Saturday).  Found some leftover pretzels from our trip to Pecos so now I'm typing and snacking while listening to my latest used CD musical score:  Rudy Van Gelder's Remaster of John Coltrane's Standard Coltrane.  Paul Chambers and Red Garland accompany him on this one as well.  Gives me goose pimples listening to this stuff from the late fifties. 

Why even mention this?  Because I need to prepare myself mo' bettah for Sunday's cyclocross event (on a 29er nonetheless).  Live and learn.  There's time for me to correct my position and fly straight, so that's what I'm going to do.  As soon as a breakfast joint opens I'm going to eat, eat, eat, and maybe do some more eating, then I'm off to watch my eldest play her old soccer team in the high foothills later this morning.  Drowsiness coming up, Coltrane's done playing, better take advantage of it...

13 September, 2012

First Cyclocross Of The Season

synchronizing the jump before the dismount was rough at the beginning...
It was a dark and stormy night (sorry, I'm plagiarizing); but it was the night before the event.  It rained for most of the day too.  Channel nine reported two inches of precipitation so when I asked my teammate if we were still on for racing that day he reported he didn't bring his bike.  I was relieved because I err on the side of being race lazy.  On the other hand, the weather was just ripe for cyclocross and in Denver we're headed for a new record of 72 days of 90 degree plus weather so the Fall-like preemptive, welcoming strike from Mother Nature was novel for my senses and a wee bit overdue.

By the time my workday ended the asphalty surfaces near my campus had mostly dried and I said to myself, "Self?  Why for art thou not racing?"  I couldn't think of a rational excuse so I mentally committed (51%) to haul butt out of my classroom, lube my chain (easy now!), give my Airborne a pre-flight check, and ensure all my gear was in one huge duffel a misanthropic, psychopathic, serial killer (or hockey player?)  could be proud of.  Living in the ghetto, I needed about 45 minutes for my commute to Golden, leaving me with no time to warmup after registering myself.  In fact, my homey G, Kenny, had to pin my number on my bottom right side for me (not my actual bottom, mind you).

Like a NOVICE, I wore shoes that were not easy to clip in and out.  This cost me dearly at the start when I was suffering like a Cat 6 trying to get my left foot into my ATAC's.  Cost me about 10 places when all 50 of  us log jammed onto the singletrack.  Once on the singletrack I was a jostling fiend, passing whenever I could but not short cutting the trail.  Apparently one person took umbrage to my calculated passing and we were body checking each other for the line (I had the inertia, he was a dick).  I passed him on a left hand sweeper, and he took it a bit further and bumped me non-friendly-like on the right hand sweeper.  I deviated so far off course three people passed me.  Aww shite, I said to myself, "Self?  You gonna let that spandex wearing scrub do you like that brah?"  I wanted to retaliate and give him the supreme body check kara-te style whenever that opportunity presented itself but he was non-affiliated and I was flying the colors.  Natural Grocers would probably not like hearing that their representative was doing something unbecoming of the orange and black (yes, they are also Halloween's colors).  This part of the course, the mud is oppressive and turning-let alone passing-is difficult, so I bid my time to go for the pass at either the obstacles or  the one straight away before the start/finish.  Lo and behold I see my body checking friend and when I pass him all stealth-like I bust an ATARI lane change on him so that he has to brake and adjust his line as I cut him off (oops, sorry brah!) right before the downhill, muddy, right-hand sweeper leading into a stiff bump.  I'm dieseling like Beelzebubba at this point and there's no way in hell I'm gonna let this guy mentally draft off of me or hear me breathing from that expenditure of energy (i.e. burnt one of my matches) as I roll past him.  Y-chromosome redemption baby! 

So in my throttle-running-wide-open, diesel mode, breathing like Cyrano De Bergerac with a deviated septum and a wicked underbite, snot dribbling from my nares, while swallowing some choice soil samples (2012 is going to be a good, vintage year for mud!) I start picking off people.  I pick off my teammate and probably another dozen or so people.  I think I'm the first one on a (29er) mountain bike to finish.  It took a while to synchronize my jump with my heavy-arsed 29er with her 2.1 tubeless tires with my saddle bag dangling off my seat rails.  Needless to say, Penelope performed admirably with nary a complaint.  Also, my results are not yet posted on-line so suffice to say I can neither confirm nor deny my awesomeness (or lack thereof) from today's anaerobic endeavors.  Let's just say I was a pack finisher for this one.

Okay, my first one done and next Wednesday I'ma bring my correct shoes and an elbow pad for my body checking homeboy/competitor..

Now it's time to cleanup, grade, and to spend some quality time with a quality person.

15 July, 2012

Point to Point 2012

Well kids, mentally this race was kind of long in the tooth coming.  I busted a PR (that's not saying much) on the Firecracker 50 and I guess mentally it was getting dull.  I mean, the Firecracker was the mental destination of where my fitness should be and now it's done?  My intrinsic motivation to put the evil-stinky on my fellow human is waning y'all.  The freshness of anticipating an event with giddyness wasn't exactly there.  Fun in competing is there but when i was registering for the Point to Point it almost felt like a chore.  What is going on?  Where's the newness?

What I needed to see was an improvement.

Some carry over from the Fiddee obviously was endurance, becoming more aware of nutrition and hydration, but did I increase leg strength for this event's shorter distance (by .5)?  Strength/power and endurance are on opposite ends of the cycling spectrum o'fitness.  I had endurance (well kinda) but I needed to crush peeps on the climbs.  Click on this to see the map; and click on this to see the profile.  No more vacillating between the leaders and the mid-packers otherwise I better take a mental break for a while; or see if Dr. Ferrari makes housecalls (you know which Dr. Ferrari I'm talking about road freaks).

My attainable goals for this year was to bust some single digit placings in XC races or road races.

My road racing placings this year was 16th (out of 33) at Deer Trail, 19th (out of 55) at the Denver Federal Center Criterium.  Not exactly lighting up the RR scene but I was having fun and it was kicking the living shite out of me physiologically (I love suffering because it's mental-that's also why I hate it too).  Road is fun but the fitness it confers to me translates nicely for XC.  Not doing the technical stuff, but the base fitness I arrive in in order to perform in XC races.  Basically an XC race is a mass start time trial.  You need fitness sure, but if you descend riding your brakes, or can't flow in tight singletrack, or can only tear up courses your six year-old finds challenging, all that sweet, suffering-inspired road miles are for naught.  I know some mountain bikers who only get miles mountain biking.  I find that might be a tad boring.  In fact that's what I'm realizing now, hence my blasé-ness registering for the Point to Point.  Now I'm aching to do a crit but it's been months since I've done the Meridian circuit practice loops here in Denver Tues/Thursday evenings. 

I woke up early not that motivated.

Went and ate a lox and bagel for breakfast on my way out of town.  I love eating lox and bagels and I would marry it if the State of Colorado recognized it as a legal union but alas they don't.  Had the usual butterflies in my tummy rife with angst on my performance, who would show up? would trail ninjas abduct me and tell me my arse looks big wearing these bib shorts? would rogue bonobo monkeys dry hump my non-drive side leg on the trail?...etc.  What is good about this stress is like what happens when a goose freaks out-they go poopy uncontrollably.  Unlike a duck though, I go poopy with intention so before I ate the lox and bagel I had a pretty durn empty digestive tract.  Gotta show up to the line with food digested and slightly sweating from an adequate warm-up.

15 seconds!....................5...4...3...2...1, GO!!!

Before we actually left, I lined up next to a competitor who helped a friend of my friend who crashed on a trail we were riding two days prior to this race back out of the steep side of the mountain back onto the trail.  He recognized my kit (orange and black-eternal Halloween) and I recognized his bike (Specialized, hardtail carbon).  My friend's (Kevin) friend (Karen) hit a water erosion barrier and tumbled on some poison ivy and a bush broke her fall as she fell and rolled.  She was a trooper but now she has a wicked case of poison ivy all over her.  She's fortunately getting better as the days go on (rash hopefully diminishing).  Small world.  He asked if she was okay and I said that she was.  What a nice guy.  I would learn later that his name was Ken.  Too bad I had to put the evil-stinky smack down on him on the singletrack today.  Oh yeah suckah!!!!!  Okay, I'm talking trash now and I will stop (but I would eventually put the evil-stinky smack down on him except for two people...).  So we're off and like a freaking novice I am having issues putting my non-drive side foot into the pedal.  The same side I have issues about rogue bonobo monkeys doing inappropriate things on said side.

I'm third behind pole position.

We're sprinting from the beginning and I line up third.  Number one-whom I would learn later's name Marcel-flew out the gate.  It pretty much stayed that way the entire race.  We all lost contact with each other mid-race but we were all diligent in looking at people's marked calves with their ages.  We didn't care if we got passed by another category but if a dude was in your race you better make it a race foo'!  For what seemed like an eternity I was in no-man's land riding by myself.  Then on this particular downhill a 37 year-old on a hard tail passed me like I was stationary.  I slapped it on my largest gear and fought to get onto his draft as he was picking the sweet line down.  We were flying!!! Left to my own device I'da never attempted this part of the course at this speed.  Holy Mackeral his skills were impressive and all I had to do to hang on was a little monkey-see-monkey-do chameleon adaption of his line and his weighting and unweighting floating over pinch flatting obstacles.  Once it leveled off I thanked him for his descending skills and he replied, "I wish I could climb as fast as I descend!"  Pretty much after he said that a climb started and out of the corner of my eye I see number one!  At that point, J, the guy who beat me last race caught me.  Just the sight of number one rounding the uphill bend motivated me to catch him.  I dropped it two gears and did my best imitation of Jan Ullrich.  Marching the largest gear possible but always increasing rpms.  I even locked out my front fork and slammed down the pedals as I stood and danced on the pedals.  I'm not a good dancer but I can mash nowadays.  From this I was able to distance myself from J and the 37 year-old descending savant but I could barely keep Marcel in my sights.

Deem!  Number One's riding away from me!

There was a technical, long descent after this climb and every now and again in the trail I would see number one through the trees descending.  I swear whenever I could I would sprint out of corners, on the flats, to try and close this gap.  Hard work pays off and letting Penelope (my Airborne Guardian who absolutely loves this kind of abuse and course profile) run twin-turbo I was able to glom onto him!  I ask him are we one-two or two-three.  He said we're two-three because he got passed by number two (I said number two).

I pass him.

So we're bobbing and weaving, he's on my tail and we're talking and by mile 23 I am absolutely dying but I can't let Marcel telepathically catch that vibe so I pedal harder (which increases my deathrate).  We look back and there ain't nobody behind us but we pedal harder so that no one ninjas a space before us at the finish.  Now I'm really dead and at a wide point in the single track he passes me.  I always have something in reserves for sprint finishes if I'm not cramping and I do intend to attack one more time because we have to be getting close!  The profile is slowly turning downhill and Marcel drops it into his largest gear and we're off flying.  We are CRUISING in this tight single track and I hear the announcer's voice in the distance-we're getting close.  I quiet down my mind and visualize putting Penelope in her largest gear and jumping and cranking the handlebars with all my might should an opening occur to go for the evil-stinky pass.  We're at warp speed at this point and the queue I'm in stays like that all the way to the finish line-so we finish 2nd, 3rd.  

I get rained on.

Point to point means you start in WinterPark but finish outside of town, so I have to ride back to WinterPark because I'm not logistically hip enough to park here earlier and ride to the staging area.  I'm pretty much toast and now it starts to rain at about 9,000 feet.  So I'm getting pelted as I ride the 5 miles back into town with this frigid arsed rain.  This absolutely takes all heat energy out of my body and I'm getting hypoglycemic climbing back into WP wet and cold (boo-hoo, poor baby!).  Once I get back to the staging area there's Vitamin Waters, cookies, and fruit for the racers!  Thank you Epic Single Track Race Promoters!!!  I drink several Vitamin Waters to get glucose back into my blood stream and kill about a dozen chocolate chip cookies.

Samer gets 2nd and Danielle his lovely wife gets 2nd too!

At the awards ceremony I finally get to stand on the podium and I'm so tired and cold after I get my coffee mug and bronze medal I go home.  I didn't have dinner with Samer and Danielle this time but at least I got to hangout with them for a wee bit, post-race to enjoy their company. 

Wow, finally I podiumed.  Thanks Airborne and thanks Natural Grocers Cycling Team and thanks legs!

05 July, 2012

Firecracker Fiddee 2012. Happy 4th!

L-R, Brian, Kenny L., me
 Man, the fourth year of doing this.  Other than the first year being memorable, the other years stunk.  The last time I did it I triple flatted and course officials had to use radiometric dating to exactly figure out what time I actually finished.  This year was different.  I actually trained.  It is amazing how much a little support for one's endeavor can do for results (that is another story as well).

The Natural Grocer's (unofficial) Dirt Team had a good turnout for this event.  Let's see, there was Bill  Herwig, Dr. Timothy Bauer, Tim Fandrich, (the irrespressible) Kenny L, (new guy) Brian Link, and moi (not to be confused with a moa, a flightless bird found in New Zealand).  That's six (and I kept my shoes on too for accuracy!)!

Bill and Tim B. were obviously on another plane of fitness.  They rode all fiddee miles as individuals. Tim F. pardner'd up with a long time friend and did it as a team (one lap for each).  The remaining three-we-stayed together on the first and part of the second lap.

Each lap is 25 miles long with 3300' of climbing.
Gnarly don't you think?  We did this twice.  
The promoters made slight course changes for the better (i.e. no more two-way traffic on a screaming downhill!) and I think they cleaned up the super-rocky descent back into the finish area.  Either way it made for a smoof day or at least as smoof as one can be in a 50 mile off-road race.

The beginning.
E(xpert), 46's my age, and a bad looking ankh above my ankh-el.
We got there early enough to get our race plates, t-shirt, socks, (and the pint glass filled with beer, post-race).  They mark your calf with age and category and for the sake of aesthetics I had the girl put an ankh on it for luck.  Kenny had a pentagram and his number had horns and a pointy tail.  That girl was cool.  The guy after Kenny plagiarized Kenny's idea-the bastard!  The socks are black, Wooly Booly 3/4 length sock so I wore 'em for the race because I want the extra cush-cush for when my feet get wet during the creek crossings.  The creek crossings-once on the course-were a trickle this dry summer.  As we're dressing from the side street, an old racer teammate and good friend back from Tejas comes up and we hug and say our mutual salutations.  Right before that, I asked Kenny, What are the chances of meeting a co-worker up here?  Well he's no coworker but he was a good friend.  Rob tells me he's volunteering at Aid Station number 1.  How cool is that?  Later after Rob leaves, Kenny asks, Hey man, you some secret weapon stuff?  It's from one of our sponsors-Cliff- it's a Cliff Shot Turbo (Double [sic]Expresso) Energy Gel with 100 mg of C8H10N4O2.  I take three.  After we locate Brian (through my magical powers of echolation), it's off to stage in our respective category-Expert Men.  I'm no expert ('cept for maybe belching really loud, long, and baritoney), but dammit I'm a Man-or at least that's what your Mom said...LAD NIGHT!.....I'm sorry.  At the staging area, I ingest the secret weapon (bwahahaha!). 

After the promoter counts us down we roll out neutral for like a mile because all the racers are part of the fourth of July parade in Main Street Breckenridge, CO.  We're rolling down Main Street separated by barriers from the spectators and the kids stick their hands in between the fencing to side-five (or high-five) us as we begin the race.   It's pretty cool and inspiring seeing all these people watching and cheering you (and flashing us their boobies-c'mon there're families here!!) on before you begin the pain.  No. They don't flash boobies here.  This is a respectable town.  Incidentally between Brian, Kenny, and the flightless NZ bird our number plates are 89 (Brian), 90 (Kenny L.), and 91.  We would finish in reverse order today.  That's a good omen right?  For a man who teaches science, I sure am superstitious about my race day rituals.  To name a few examples, I don't shave my face two days prior to event (legs are different) and I ALWAYS wear black, 3/4 length crew socks from our sponsor.   I don't carry food nor water for this event because the Aid Stations are plentiful and the promoter's left no stone unturned for feeding and hydrating the racers while actually racing.

Lap 1.
Jeez.  You'd think there's a race going on with all these people pedaling so darn fast!  Kenny, Brian, and I don't match their speed (and they are cooking!) up the long-arsed climb.  We have to conserve for the last lap.  We climb as a trio and once we get into singletrack we pretty much stay together too.  On the climb there are usually some fun loving criminal spectators that setup a ramp where riders, if they choose to, will get up to ramming speed and get airborne.  Hey!  I'm riding an Airborne!  A Guardian to be precise.  Once they land, after a boisterous show of appreciation from the peanut gallery, they are rewarded with a shot of Wild Turkey.  Unfortunately, they didn't wake up in time for our category. The singletrack was WICKED!  I was thankful at the SCREAMING downhills where I could follow a pack of riders and not ride the brakes because I had no reference of the speed handling capabilities.  The highest point 11,000-ish feet or so you had to climb a scree field that crossed a creek a couple of times.  Since it's been a dry summer my feet weren't too soaked.  At the top, the single track was so narrow you had to be careful on the leeward pedal stroke so as to not launch yourself on the downstroke sending you careening down the steep embankment!  It was almost like a tightwire act.  Made a mental note to be more smoov with no deathgrip on the handlebars here on the second lap.  Last 1/3d had the new singletrack cut.  It was in a relatively clear patch where the singletrack was super dusty.  They cut the trails with berms so you can keep it fast while carving.  Very cool as well as rocky.  On any given part of the course-especially the downhills-you'd see riders patching flats.  Not me, I run tubeless.  The only thing I scan for is tallish rocks with sharp, side-wall cutting edges!  Then a roller-coastery tight singletrack with a wee stiff climb that dumps you on the technical descent into the finish line to begin the second lap.  We had a pack descending into the park when a group of Pros asked us for a pass rather politely so we pulled over.  These guys have to be hitting 40 miles per on the super screamers.  First lap done with a time of 2h 20 mins.  Hey I can do this is less than 5h!

Lap 2.
If you've been around awhile and watched Greg Lemond win his Tours de France you might've notice a guy before the scene named Bernald Hinault (aka The Badger).  His pedaling strategy was to always ratchet it up a notch (increase wattage) the closer you got to the finish line.  It didn't matter what the terrain was but you could not let up, or diminish intensity so within meters, or miles, or whatever measuring units of length you use you had better be bleeding out your ears near the finish line.  That would be my strategy because I survived lap 1 and my tank wasn't empty.  On the climb, I ride a bit quicker to make up time.  What do I see ahead?  My fun loving criminals with their ramp set up and the Wild Turkey flowing and applauses and screams for the suckas that get tempted.  I see the ramp!  I increase my wattage and boom I'm airborne in my Airborne.  Applause and cheers for this sucka!  Seconds later a guy gives me a professional handup.  Instead of a musette bag it's a plastic cup with Wild Turkey (aka the Kickin' Chick'n!!) in it.  Strangely enough, I like the heat when it touches my tongue and the heat following my esophagus's path as it passes onto my gullet (c'mon liver, process those toxins!).  Soothing it is.  At Aid Station number 1, I see Rob and fill up the tank.  I'm walking the scree field to the apex of the course and time's a'tickin.  Probably not going to get a sub-5h time with this.  Kenny's riding like a fiend and passes me but Brian (after I learned his situation) is starting to cramp and has to ratchet down his intensity.  So after hanging onto groups, getting dropped, passing groups, I settle into a group and I have to have the tenacity to hang because I lost so much time walking the scree field.  I see dust flying so we're near the finish.  My group passes a Sport girl and the singletrack gets tight so I get gapped from my group.  I am cool and not a road snob so I say, can I pass when it's safe?     O my God!  After an eternity she's still on Sunday driver pace and to slyly show my sense of urgency and annoyance I calmly say, Can you PLEASE pull the fuc* over and let me pass?  She pulls over and I'm riding like a possessed, twin-turbo charged, v-12 diesel motor hoping to catch my previous group minutes ahead by now.  I am pedalling at every opportunity to close the gap.  The dust is flying so they must be in the open field.  I hit the open field and I see the last guy in the train duck back into the forest.  Not too far.  I increase the watts...
Now I'm in the forest and after 10 or so minutes of roller coastery, tight singletrack and threading the needle through the tight stuff I'm on the back of the group.  We begin our last climb, and now I'm wearing horse blinders because I'm so focused on staying in this group while climbing technical stuff.  With my 10x2, I notice the guy's cadence in front of me isn't synched with mine.  Why?  Because my mind is now wandering from being tired, anxious for the finish, and getting a smidge hypoglycemic (I didn't fill up at the last Aid Station).  I have to dismiss this and focus on increasing watts applied smoofly to the pedals, or else I might lose it mentally and implode.  Roadies call it cracking as opposed to bonking aka hitting the wall.  Although a source of cracking could be bonking.  I wasn't going to bonk.  Not today at least.  We pass Kenny on the climb.  His rear tire got knicked by a sharp rock so he had to get off the bike and pump it up while his sealant plugged the cut.  By this time this choo-choo is in for the kill.  We're sharks looking to eat and spit out the chum!  I notice my legs are fresh and I'm ready to go around people on this climb but it's so narrow I have to bite my tongue and soft pedal to maintain the line.  Finally we climb the last steeper part of the narrow fireroad and pass the slower climbers like Moses parting the waters.  From our group of 8, 5 get around.   We settle in after the initial acceleration and my legs still wanna go so I pass another rider.  4th!  I see the right hander singletrack where it's near impossible to pass in the descent to the finish so the order is going to stay like this if I don't go for another pass.  I punch it (don't bother to lock the fork), get out of the saddle and I pass one more.  Years before, in this particular descent to the finish, I was fighting my bike and riding the brakes because I was so exhausted.  Now, my mantra is, DON'T TOUCH THE BRAKES!  The two in front of me have dual boingers but I am so focused that there isn't but a three foot gap max I maintain from second rider.  One more look at my top tube for Eric's (Eric from Airborne bikes and kindred spirit) words of inspiration FLY OR DIE to increase my wattage via the placebo effect....As we're flowing like water on this screamer of a downhill, I swear Penelope is screaming, WEEEEEEEEEEEE!!  Bam!!  I get Stan's sealant spewing all over me.  Second in line shears/burps his rear tire on these sharp rocks littering the downhill on the apex of a switchback.  I offer my condolences and try to hunt number one.  He's gapping me ugly so I assess how far the next guy is behind me.  They're not too far so I keep it pegged.  The last four switchbacks, you can see clearly who's behind you (and in front of you).  The guy behind me has his missile sights radar locked on me and he's pedaling like a fiend.  Probably 5 car lengths?  So I pedal with a little more desperation.  With the finish line coming up, I check my six and even though he's possessed, he's not going to pass me before the line, so I ease up, zip up my jersey and pump my right fist in the air as I cross the line.  I hear the announcer say my name correctly and one second later, homeboy behind me crosses the line.  Booyeah!  5h and 12 minutes later I finished.  A PR for me.  What I do know (sadly it's not a lot) is this:  I am humble and thankful for a plethora of components-whether organic or inorganic-harmoniously and synergistically coming together in this cosmic mish-mash (although training probably occupies a large piece o'dat pie) for the event known as the Firecracker.  Take that other years of extreme lameness!  Happy days!  Now it's time for free food, slaps on the back with my competitors/teammates, and beer in my new pint glass....   
Stick a fork in me.  I. Am. Done!

01 July, 2012

Superloop 2012

Today was my first XC race of the year with Penelope making her 29er debut too.  All I can say, after dialing her in after three weeks with elongating the stem and seatpost and narrowing the bars...etc. it's what those components are mounted on that makes the difference.  When I threw my leg over my first Yeti hardtail it was like mind connecting to a Banshee (James Cameron's Avatar reference, not of the supremely lame Last Airbender avatar).  Now I have Banshee 2.0 and she's an Airborne Guardian named Penelope.  She's red with sexy lines and dare I say tubeless (blush!)?

Hoo-wee, she was FAST (too bad I ain't).

The course starts at a very low elevation of 9,000 feet.  33 in my category showed up-Mens 45-49 Sport.  After the marshall counts us down with 5 seconds to go we're off and Mr. Lactic acid shows up for our sprint out the gate.  It looks like geese flying south.  The supreme badass is on the leading edge while I am echeloned out in seventh position.  We worked up a gap on the rest and that's when I stopped counting.  People passed me and I'd mentally correct for passage, then I'd pass some and this is the first 20 minutes of the first of the next countless climbs on this badass course!  Once I settled in and I know longer noticed my legs burning, it was time to move up the food chain.    Remember I'm 5'7" and not too good at any one cycling discipline (I'm exceptional at resting if that counts) but I can sorta climb.  So climb like Satan's what I did.  I'm probably pretty average at climbing but I like to think I can climb.  So we climb and climb and the first descent hits and I'm raring to go.  I quickly get in the flow-zone of this really serpentine downhill and actually pass people kind enough to give me room when I ask to pass when it's safe.

Can I pass when it's safe?  Thanks brah.

On the first plateau, I pop it on my large chainring (my Airborne's a 10x2) and crush it.  There's a guy in front of me whom we would introduce ourselves later and we take turns taking pulls on our 29ers and there's no 26er in our group leeching a train freebee.  Why?  Rolling inertia (creating that flywheel effect) and we're more efficient covering ground per pedal stroke than their smaller diameter wheels AND we have rather manly legs.  The 26ers try to hang but we're locked and loaded at this point.

That's the truth, Ruth.

So it's off to the races with Jay and I picking off people.  He has a dual suspension 29er and once the road points down he pulls away slightly but I'm right there.  At one particular technical stretch of downhill he's screaming and I can't hold on because I'm being jackhammered by the hardtail.  I say to myself, "Self, there's a boat load of uphills. I will have my time yet just be patient and don't blow!"  Sure enough these uphills are grinders.  The first singletrack climb, my cadence goes buzzsaw and I say to myself, "Self?  Why are you spinning like a loon?"  I drop it two smaller cogs, and I roll just enough to pedal in efficient circles where the legs are pistoning.  This slowly accelerates me around my climbmates.  In fact, I pass people but don't get passed myself and I'm saying to myself, "Self?  That ride you went on with Kenny L. is just what the doctor ordered because it occurred on a grueling, hot, windy, long day."  The lack of pain was the from the physiological adaptations of these nutty training rides, now paying off in spades (whatever the hell that means).  It was almost unreal as I was passing these people I was not feeling like I was in the red zone.  By this time though, J's gone.
On the next to last uphill I see him and I pass him.  Being the non-elitist competitor I am I say to myself, "Self?  Say something encouraging when you pass."  "Job brah!"   Is what I end up saying to Jay as I cruise uphill.

Elegant wasn't it?  Yeah, I thought so (it's a truncated version of Good job kind sir).

After climbing, we're on another fireroad plateau and I see a group of 5 riders (35-38 age group, I can tell because all riders are marked on their calves by their respective age) and a hoss of a rider's leading them (looks like a track rider).  As an XC racer, you can't get lulled by drafting of a pack to rest, if you have the gumption you gotta roll so as not to give the leader in your group a freebie of increasing distance.  So roll's is what I do.  This time Jay's caught on my wheel too.  So I do a roadie maneuver and pass 'em kind of fast so's they can't catch my draft;  in fact, they have to accelerate rather abruptly to get on my train thereby disrupting their rhythm and hopefully putting some lactic acid on their legs for their acceleration.  The hoss doesn't like it and he punches it, out of the saddle rocking his bike (damn roady).  He doesn't accelerate very fast, so while sitting (saves precious kilocalories), I slowly get back in his draft.  He punches it again, and like his last result, I'm glued on his wheel.  The left hand corner into the singletrack's coming up and the minute his buttocks contact his saddle after another one of his poor accelerations, I kick in the afterburners on and get the holeshot into that lefthander singletrack.

Take that sucka (and Mr. Lactic acid says hello dere to my legs)!

He's rocking a dual suspension so I have to cherry pick my line on this downhill but since it's not too technical I put it in my largest gear ratio and actually pedal on this singletrack.  He's breathing down my neck but he doesn't have the speed to pass.  Another long-ish climb and I put some distance on him.

He's 38 and I'm 46 so I feel good and strong.

On a rather technical descent he passes me (I don't clog the trail if there's a safe place to let people go around me) but before when he announces the pass he does it On Your Right dickhead style.  So I say to myself, "Self?  You need to put a smackdown on this beeyatch."   I follow his line because he is a good descender but on the last long climb I'm basically this guy's enema.  On a particularly tree rooted, stiff uphill, I don't bother announcing my pass instead I quickly and oh so smoovly thread the needle between him and the roots we're climbing on and a tree close to the singletrack.  I did it quiet and ninja like too so V-crotch didn't even see it coming nor could he respond but I did see him flinch when I passed just centimeters from his handlebars.  From there I buried myself in the climb and put quality distance you can measure by car lengths between us.

Buh-bye dickhead hoss.

The last part of the downhill was just cut a week ago and it had the characteristic of true mountain, XC sadist.  It was super narrow, dusty/chalky, with baby heads and tree roots abounds.  People in front of me where hitting trees and going down and cussing in such a way that would make a nun blush.  I again was in the flow as was Jay.  The last kilometer or so was flat and it paralleled railroad tracks.  With about 200 or so meters left, I jump and Jay slowly comes around me and I run out of finish line.

Awesome.  I towed that savvy sumbitch to the line.  Rats!

At the end, 2nd-5th places were separated by mere seconds- it was that close.  Our winner put in 3 minutes on us.  That is what's called sandbagging folks (our winner, not me).  I was fifth, Jay was fourth.  Fun.  In two weeks the next XC race is on.  I think I wanna do it if the Firecracker doesn't break me.


PS.  If you don't believe me here's the link showing the final placings (click on "link").
PPS.  Click link for course profile.
PPPS.  On a sadder note, my younger teammate Samer-the Hammer, sheared his sidewall, patched it, and still managed to be 2 minutes faster than yours truly.  I hung out with his family (his wife raced it too-came in 4th) post race and they're a class act.
PPPPS.  Samer-the Hammer-3rd; Danielle-4th, me-5th.  Coincidental don't you think?
PPPPPS.  I met a former student of mine and his lovely wife Krista.  'Tis a small world...
PPPPPPS.  Got in a 4h road ride the following day, 60 miles worth of climbing for one more practice run for Weds.