Monday, August 31, 2009

Not much to blog about

That is to say I have been doing little to nothing. The traditional lack of paycheck in August has only intensified my work/ bike/ sleep lifestyle of this summer. I tried to get out to k-poo as much as I could trying to be fast for the race out there last weekend. As it turned out, the race was nothing really to write home about. I was marginally fast (3rd in my age group in a pretty large field). However, my "fastness" was tempered by frequent falling down.

I fell on my right side twice hard. My right leg from knee up is one large bruise. My right shoulder is very sore... I was honestly kind of worried I had fractured my collarbone last night, consumed 2 vicodin (ironically held over from when I broke my left collarbone). Luckily it felt a bit better today so I think its just badly bruised or slightly separated regardless, bad race.

Next weekend (labor day) is Gateway Cup in St. Louis. However, to be honest, I am not really that excited about it. My mind is really already focused on cross. I can't wait for the Bailey-Bikes "Obrien" to arrive and get to building it up. I think I am going to skip the REALLY early season CX races and shoot for late September start. We'll see. I am throwing some running back into the weekly workout schedule in anticipation.

Although this is where the excitement lies, I still have a few mtb races coming up keeping me interesting... I'm just hoping I don't break myself doing it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Urban Assault Racing

So... I have been doing a lot of "serious" racing this year. Its been a lot of fun, but was kind of getting ready for something different. My head has already left the road racing scene. I really still want to race my mountain bike, but my heart has really already left for cyclocross season.

In the meantime, I found myself entered in an "Urban Assault Ride". Its a team event sponsored by New Belgium beer. Basically you bike around the city and complete absurd obstacles at various checkpoints. My sister and I entered the very competitive coed division as team "Golden Star Fireballs" We put on our racing kit and got down to business:

We started off to the mystery checkpoint first... The clue was emailed out a few days earlier and was an color coded anagram. We sorted the two words "botanical" and "gardens" but couldn't get the first word... luckily there were enough people to follow that we found the "climatron".

The second checkpoint we hit was "Bike Works" where Leah and I had to navigate a twisting course on modified big-wheels. I think we rocked it. From there we headed over to Tower Grove park and did some kind of three legged tennis ball balancing on a frisbee challenge. We didn't lose any balls and took off for the city museum.

As we arrived we saw some people we knew informing us it was "a long way"... not knowing what that meant I went up to the checkpoint to find out that we had to run up 15 flights of stairs then negotiate our way up an incline to a large slide. This was made less fun by the fact that someone had puked in the stairwell.

A long ride down delmar to Big Shark had us on a plunger powered longboard collecting different colored cans. Due to our team work and Leah's longboarding experience we zipped right through while others were struggling. Down delmar to big bend and on to Mesa where I had to catch Leah thrown sponges in a basket on my head... it took us 4 chances to get the required 3- not our best preformance, but still not bad. From there it was on to the final mystery point.

Leah knew where it was, but I will choose not to embarrass her and keep quiet about the reasons why.

At the end of the day we were told we placed 3rd... I was excited. It was the first "podium" I had gotten all year. Well, we were actually 4th. I have been 1 place off the podium quite a bit this year- even in Urban Assault Racing.

Luckily, I was able to redeem myself by dancing on stage for a Rudy Project helmet:

Good times.

Another relaxing weekend of mt bike demoing and bike riding before I have to worry about racing again. August it working out pretty well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

8 days in St Louis.

After I skipped the Chicago Criterium a few weeks ago, I decided I kind of needed a break from racing my road bike. I was realizing that some weekends I was only doing it because it was available, not really because I was excited about it (Soulard excepted- it was awesome).

So... it was all coming together at the beginning of August. I was going to have a questionable living situation and was planning on staying with the family in St. Louis. This was great timing since the first two weekends in August had Mountain bike races more or less in the city. I had made the decision to avoid road races until the Gateway Cup.

Anyway- a week in St. Louis

Sunday 9/2- MWFTCS race at Castlewood St Park.

I headed down to STL on Saturday evening. I knew the race on Sunday was going to be tough. Castlewood is the "home turf" to a ton of very fast St. Louis guys. Knowing every turn and feature of a trail is a very good thing is a race. I made my first mistake right at the start. I was charging past a ton of dudes trying to make up for a mediocre start on a climb wondering why everyone was taking it so conservatively. Well... the reason was that this climb at the start of the race just kept going up for the first mile or so of the trail. Ugh. I was way past redlining when I hit the top. This over exertion caused a stupid crash on a slightly off camber section that resulting in me losing a lot of the positions I gained on the climb.

This very quickly became irrelevant when I flatted on a loose rocky climb later in the lap. Since I had forgotten my CO2, I was left with my shitty minipump. It took me like 15 minutes to change the tire. Race more or less over.

I kept riding though. Only to flat again on a rough downhill section. After much swearing I began walking back to the start. I decided to quell my grumpiness by fixing the flat and riding another lap just for fun. This turned out to be a good moral boost. My lap time was similar to the winners of the sport class, and lower middle for experts.

Tuesday 9/4- St Louis Tuesday Night World Championships

This is the St. Louis training race. However, training is mostly just a state of mind. The weekly race is actually licensed by USCF and properly officiated. The course was 0.7 mile circuit that involved a climb, a quick downhill and a flat section around the start/finish. Here is my power data to give an idea of the profile:

The race started with Dogfish guy Chris on the front and me at second wheel. I think both of us were kind of interested in this positioning. After 1 or 2 laps he motioned me to pull through, I moved past and he slowed down the field I very quickly had about a 50ft gap... wow. how did that happen? I was confused and uncomfortable never really having been in this position in a race. I put my head down and rode (realizing full well I couldn't hold this for the whole race but decided to ride while I could). To my surprise, I was strong enough/ group moving slow enough to stay out for a few laps. Some fellow bridged, and rode with him briefly. Then a group bridged, I looked back and saw the whole race wasn't far behind. I was kind of cooked, so I fell back into the pack.

I rode the rest of the race amazed by the facts that. 1. there was such a huge field in a "training race" 2. that the pace of the B race was so high. The second was explained when I was informed that a lot of A-Game masters and cat 2/3 guys were in the field. 1. is simply explained by good the race was.

Wednesday 9/5- The Hub ride

Short story, I got to the shop about 45 seconds too late. Good to know that group rides leave promptly the world over. I rode about 27 miles from the shop west, then north. They have something around there that I think people refer to as "hills". Seeing that I don't see them that often, I might be using the word wrong. However, there was a particular bit that took 5+ minutes to climb at over 350-450 watts. I think that qualifies.

Thursday 9/6- Castlewood Revenge

I decided to head out and hit up the race course again. I got 20+ miles in with no flats on very nice FAST singletrack. I am glad I went back in a better mood. These trails dry and hard. Occasionally tight trails, occasionally rooty, occasionally techy downhills and some extended climbs. Castlewood is far from the hardest trail I have ridden, but I think it ranks real high on the fun meter. It flows nicely and is just tricky enough in places that you don't completely zone out. I think its the type of course I normally would have done well on.

Sunday 9/9- Spanish Lake Race

This course is notorious for its lack of extended hills and large quantity of gravel roads. This year there were several new sections of trail to add some intrigue. Over 100 degree temperatures made me fairly thankful that the climbs were as short as they were.

To make a long story short, I actually had a good race! I got a crappy start (as per usual- I really need to work on that). Luckily, the course was open enough that the front of the race never really got a chance to truly escape. I was loving the fact that I was in good enough shape to pick people off every time the trail pointed up at all. I also gapped a few dudes in the single track! Nice, I might actually be a mountain bike racer after all. By the 3rd of 5 laps I had no idea where I was in the race, but knew I had passed a lot of dudes and had not been passed.

When I came through on the 4th lap I was rather crestfallen when the official told me I had one more to go (MWFTCS races are done by time). Luckily my Dad was sat by the side of the course handing me up bottles after every lap. I think I poured about as much of it on me as I drank. I had one more bottle in the cooler, grabbed it from my Dad, and attempted to finish one more lap. I think I ran into every tree possible... not a good lap but still fun. There was one humbling moment when on a gravelly uphill drag Chris Ploch flew past lapping me- shows how far there is to go.

On finishing, I slammed down 2 cans of coke started feeling slightly less lightheaded and looked at my results. 4th in my age group. 5th overall- apparently 30-39 is on average the fastest group out there. The fastest dude was either a 40-49 or 50+ racer, hardcore. Well, apparently I have decent races when the conditions truly suck. Or it was just a coincidence.