Friday, May 29, 2009

A New Day.

As of around yesterday afternoon I finally seemed to be kicking the cold I was suffering with. I decided to celebrate by going to a show at The Highdive (I know, that doesn't happen that often). John Hoeffleur was quite good as a solo act playing some Beauty Shop greatest hits and other sundries.

I had high hopes for the band Hopewell seeing as the guitarist/singer played some bass for Mercury Rev- who I am a big fan of. I was actually quite impressed, which is something I don't get to say about shows in Champaign very often

The last band was Elsinor... I can't stand them. I left and went to celebrate Becky Chan's birthday at the Blind Pig. Alex, Becky, Anona and Dan left to go to Merry Anns around 12:30 and I went to Mike and Mollys... As one can assume, this evening seemed to escalate to the point where I consumed quite a bit of cheap beer.

(and a shot from the ceramic tequila man thanks to Gambino)

I was greeted this morning with the old friend "hangover". Sigh... I still managed to enjoy the mountain biking with Dornik this afternoon. I only managed to slightly mess up my shifting when I fell down the side of the hill on the new section. This was a large victory for me given the quantity of things that had been breaking on that bike.

I had a fleeting desire to race at the O'Fallon road race tomorrow, but don't really want to drive myself. Oh well, I guess its just the DINO race for me this weekend. Should be fun.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Well son of a bitch...

So... after returning from Iowa, I was greeted tuesday morning with a terrible cold. It is now thursday around noon and I have done remarkably little but lay on the couch and watch tv since. Adding insult was the article in Bicycling magazine that informed me I was losing 2-4% of my fitness every week. I don't have enough to be able to afford to lose any.

Oh well, racing my mountain bike this weekend. My season goal is to get my MTB cat 1 upgrade... this weekend's goal however is that my bike not fall apart while I am racing. Considering these things have gone wrong the last several times I have ridden:

  • Cable to rear derailleur broken
  • Flat tires
  • Brakes got contaminated and squeal horribly
  • Left crank arm fell off!
  • Fork not really engaging in the suspension function its designed for.

I think it is fairly reasonable for me to assume something terrible is going to happen...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Weekend.

For the third year in a row I headed to eastern Iowa for the memorial weekend bike race "series". The use of quotations is due to the frequent reminders over the course of the weekend that each race is separately promoted and its not actually a series... whatever, everyone treats it as such.

The one commonality between the three years I have been racing there is that I somehow have not managed to upgrade from cat 5. I really need to get on that. Three years ago these were more or less the first races I had ever done on my road bike. I am pretty sure I got shelled in every one of them. That summer I broke my collar bone mountain biking and also got hit by a car... at the end of the day, I didn't really ride my bike that much. Last summer, I was quite clearly in good enough shape to upgrade to 4s, but got burnt out racing and didn't make my 10 starts required to cat up. This year- well, my results at the memorial weekend races weren't as good as last year. I don't know, I don't think I am really in worse shape. I just think I was not as lucky. Oh well... at the end of the day, I am mulling the decision of catting up over in my head right now.

So, the races.

Saturday was the Snake Alley Criterium. As painful as this race is, its always a good time. If nothing else, you have beer drinking on the hill yelling at other riders to look forward to. That said... this years race was particularly annoying to me. To start with, my rear derailleur was messed up. For some reason I didn't notice this in the trainer, and only realized it when I was riding to the start (10 minutes before the race). Luckily I ran into John Meyers and he and Josh Carter fixed it by the side of the road. Considering it was fixed and indexed in about 3 minutes, the bike shifted surprisingly well.

The race started with little fanfare. Even though I had pre-registered, apparently alot of others had done so before me. My start position was about 2/3 back. From the gun I sprinted to try and get frontish before the snake... this mostly worked. I chilled for the first three laps. The third lap some dude ran into my rear wheel at the bottom of the snake and knocked me off my bike. I ended up having to run up the whole thing. I didn't lose a ton of position running, but it really did wipe me out and I didn't really push it on the downhill.

(thanks Dan for the photo)

I was assuming I was mid to front third of the race at this point. So I just kind of rode for the next two laps.

This is when the oddities happened. As I was coming through the start I was pulled out of the race with a fellow who I had just lapped. I attempted to argue with the official to no success. He responds to "Seriously, I am not a lap down" with "well... you will be" This might or might not have been true. Regardless. I was pulled after 5 laps.

The takeaway message from this race was that 1. my tires were well glued on, and 2. my bike looks sweet with the easton ec90slx's. I spent the rest of the afternoon drinking Miller High Life and sitting on or near to the snake taking pictures. All in all it was a good afternoon.

* as a side note I learned Saturday that I am completely confused by the Applebee's menu.

Sunday was the Melon City Criterium in Muscatine IA. I hate this race. Seriously, I find the uphill coupled to a downhill type courses to be really boring. The only redeeming factor about this one is the speedbump at the bottom of the hill. Despite hating it, I did well here last year- 7th I think. Last year I attacked at the first turn on like the third lap and ended up finishing ahead of the field in a group of 3. I thought maybe I would have some success again this year.

The race was moving really fast and eventually (maybe 3/4 of the way through the race) I was dropped by the front group. I rode around in an ever changing chase group that I spent 90% of the time on the front of. I really thought that I had sucked this race up, but it turned out that a lot of selection had already happened before I was dropped. I finished mid field. The amusing side note was when a junior attacked the group I was in on the hill the last lap. I guess he really wanted that 1 additional placing in the 30s.

The last race of the weekend is the Quad Cities Criterium in Rock Island IL. Again, I did well here last year -5th. Last years race involved some guy attacking from the gun. When he wasn't coming back to the field I attacked and bridged up to him on turn 4. A few laps later we were joined by another group. Eventually a team mack guy attacked 4 dudes got on his wheel and I was left in the second group on the road.

I hoped for a repeat of this, but the early break never really got away. I think about 6-8 of us had a gap of a few seconds for a while... nobody was really pushing it, and we got caught. My plan was to hang out at attack again with 2 or 3 to go. This part of the race came and went without my getting myself into a position in the pack to attack. When we got to the final turn I let the sprint happen without me. Got 25th, whatever I was happy that the race was comfortable for me an I was involved in the action. The rest of the afternoon was again spent beer drinking and race watching... good times.

Hopefully I will get some decent results sooner or later, but its mountain bike racing for me the next few weeks.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I guess it looks like I will be able to make it to Snake Alley afterall. I may not have any sort of fitness, I do however have a mustache and will be bringing a cooler of PBR. I guess one can say that if I truly suck and get pulled early, that's just all the sooner I can hit the PBR...

Here we go...

Well. It is friday before memorial day weekend. In theory I should be getting really excited about going and racing my bike.

However, today Sidney the dog is coming to town to visit the U or I small animal clinic. He has had a heart problem for a while that seems to be acting up as he gets older, and now it appears like he might have some type of cancer in his chest... poor sids.

Anyway, I am happy that he is coming to the U of I clinic. From the last time I was there I have a lot of confidence in them.

In another note, things on my mountain bike keep not working properly. Its really beginning to piss me off.

Oh well... hopefully I will make it to some racing this weekend and everything will be fine.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ugg. I am not at all in good enough shape for this... I really don't want to ride up snake alley numerous times in a little over a week.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wow, I thought I would actually update this thing...

So... I was thinking that since I spent the time setting this up, I would actually make an attempt at writing something. The last few weeks have been pretty much all the exact same formula. I do something exciting/time consuming and spend the rest of the week attempting to catch myself up before doing it again the next weekend.

April 19th was the St. Louis marathon. I had my doubts going in about how this was going to go.
The problem was that I had kind of forgone my rather structured training for a more "abstract" approach. By this of course I mean I didn't run that much and started going to the bars a bit more. At first I thought this was going to be terrible, but I fairly easily ran 7.5 miles at 8:15 pace the week leading up so I thought I was in decent shape to hit my 1:45 goal... I really should have given up on that. The day of the race it was raining, this also should have convinced me to scale back my expectations. However, like 5 miles in I was feeling good and pretty much exactly on my pace so I was going for it... this lasted until about mile 9 or 10 when my body just gave up. Oh well. I'm not a runner.

As a side note, running for nearly 2 hours in the rain results in odd, excessive quantities of chafing.

The next weekend I headed to San Francisco to visit Mike and watch some Nicolas Cage movies. These things were done, along with sundry other hanging out that varied from exceptionally gay to just a bit hipstery.

Napa on friday was a good time, as was the new Nicolas Cage movie "Knowing".

This weekend I am in St. Louis under the presumption that I was going to be racing my mountain bike. This sadly is not going to happen. Due to a risk of rain the race has been postponed. Oh well. After my pitiful performance in the wednesday night group ride I probably would have been owned anyway.

On a good note, Mesa Cycles was "Grand Re-Opening". They had a specialized demo group ride this morning on which I got to ride an S-Works Roubaix with fully 2009 Dura Ace. Although, this is an enormous departure from the geometry and ride I am used to, I actually enjoyed it. The most obvious feature of the geometry was how easily it held a line. The bike was just completely solid in the group. I could just sit and chat without thinking about what I was doing. On the negative side, at the end of the ride a few dudes attacked and I attempted to bridge up. The someone upright position the roubaix encourages made it feel sort of like I was driving a truck... Oh well. In all, I think it would be a very pleasant bike to put a lot of miles on. It might however annoy you if your riding style is at all aggresive.

Also, they had neither s-works or pro shoes in stock in size 42.5 white... that was dissappointing.