Monday, October 29, 2007

Weekend wrap-up

Me after the race on Sun.: “Why the hell do we do this?”
Brian: “I don’t know”
Me: “And why the hell did I travel 3000 miles for it?”
Bran: “I have no idea!”

On my way back home from L’ville, a long trip, (traveling tip: no matter how cheap never ever book a flight with two stops.) I find myself trying to answer those questions. I thought about waxing poetic on how we all dream of being a pro cyclist, or like mountaineers I do it simply because it is there. Or maybe to convince you (me?) that I thought I could compete at the top. But to be honest, there is no simple answer. Probably all of the above, along with taking advantage of an opportunity to do something different. If I didn’t know anyone in L’ville there is no way I would have done this. Am I glad I did it? Definitely. Will I do it again? No comment

In sum, it was definitely good to be able to get out and experience what ‘cross is like elsewhere; and to race against some really good competition. I think the podium in my race the first day had at least 2 former national champions on it, while day two was won by current national masters champ Feldman. The competition up front, at least, was steep. Also in looking at the times, I was no further from first place than Molly Cameron or Erik Tonkin is from the winners of their races. So I can try to justify it that way. Not that I am in the same country code of either of them.

I also had a good time seeing Brian again, and getting to hang out with him. And I definitely can’t thank him enough for his hospitality. Driving us around all weekend and giving me a place to sleep. I just hope he gets his furnace fixed soon. I also want to mention that he had a great race in the Men’s 2/3 (B’s) on Sunday. He also started in the last row and was able to move up to 18th. A real solid race. Keep given them boys hell!

I didn’t get to report on the main events of Sunday in my last post. In summary, Katie Compton rolled away again, but not quite as much as Saturday and she had a strong Georgia Gould chasing after from way back at the start. I am looking forward to watching them race in NJ when they should have similar starting positions. Wendy and Sue Butler, the local P’town ladies, had solid top 10 finishes as well. They are looking strong this year, even if they are not as happy with their results as they’d like to be.

In the Men’s the start was a replay of Sat. Wicks had the hole shot with Powers, Johnson, Trebon et. Al. following. Something must have happened to Wicks in the first lap as he was way back in 20+ with Adam Craig, while Johnson, Trebon, Powers and Chris White were in the front after one lap. As things shook out Johnson and Trebon eventually dropped Powers and White, with Johnson eventually dropping Trebon. Wicks and Craig moved all the way back up to 4th and 5th respectively while Powers held on to 3rd. As for the locals, Molly was able to start, and even though she was visible in pain from her wreck on Sat she raced solid and finished in 18th for the elites (22nd overall counting U23s). Tonkin was up in the low 20s after one and moving up, but unfortunately his back got all aggravated and he was forced to withdraw. He told me later he just didn’t feel like he was racing because of his back, and so there wasn’t much point in continuing. Bummer.


Speaking of locals. It sounds like Sunday’s Halloween crusade was another fun race. I think it may have been the first Crusade I have missed since I started racing three years ago. Feels weird. Margi told me she had a really good race and may have finished second. Very well done. At least one of us is Podiuming [yes that is a word, the conjugation of the verb to podium]

From witnessing two races in KY, I have to say they don’t hold a candle to the scene in Portland. The amount of spectators was about to equal to a normal Crusade race. With the exception of the elite races, the fields were significantly smaller. It makes me feel really lucky to be able to race in Portland. But maybe being in Portland is why I race.

OK, enough of this nonsense. I have passed the halfway point of my season, Barton Park is coming up this Sunday with Estacada the following week. These will be my last 2 crusades for the year. After that I am off to NJ. Back for some Tofurkey and Krugers Farm, then the finale’ USGPs in Portland. Assuming I stay healthy and all that. Knock on wood.

Livin like a pro

Racing like an amateur.


I think that sums up my foray into racing under the big top so to speak. After a 27th finish on day one I was hoping for a better line-up, you know, maybe one based on performance. Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way. While I had a second to last row line-up on day one with number 51, day two gave me number 55 and put me in the last row. The day’s course had been changed some, they took out the 180 turn before the barriers, and the long straight aways. These were replaced with more sweeping turns on rough grass. The other turns that were slick the day before and had me riding more tentative had gotten tackier overnight so you could really rail those corners. The only part that seemed harder was the sand. It had turned wet and heavy, but only one pit was really that long or deep.

I was feeling good about the day, despite my start number. I just dropped all expectations and only focused on having a strong race. Sitting in the last row for the start, I remembered reading, or being told, about a Belgian rider who, when stuck in the back at a start, would actually move about 5 yards behind everyone else, like a full back in football, and when the gun went off, would get the momentum going and just surge into the gaps of the pack in front of him, just like a full back looking for holes in the line of scrimmage. I thought I’d try it out, and it worked pretty well, right away I was past 10-15 guys, and had more momentum than most of the other riders. So far so good, but not for long. Into the second turn, some yahoo in front of me got all tangled in the tape and crashed. I had to stop dismount and remount to get around/over him. That cost me most of what I had gained. Ughh. From there all I could do was attack. I was feeling good and really moving up. By the second lap I was up to 28th. With a group of six or so a ways in front of me. I slowly worked my way up to 22nd, and as I came through with one lap to go a group of four had worked their way up to me. Here I was with 4 guys all racing for 22nd. One guy slipped around me, and went right past him. I was trying to lay it down as best I could to break up this group as I didn’t think I could hold off a finish line sprint. While really pushing it with less than a half a lap to go, my front wheel slipped out on a turn, the guy behind me ran over my rear wheel, and as I reached down for my bike, the next guy hit it and knocked it 5 feet away from me. I grabbed and jumped on, but my rear wheel wasn’t spinning. My brake pad had been jammed below the rim. I had to stop and pull it out. Then get going again. All this took only 5 seconds or so, but enough to leave me too far behind those guys and left in 26th place. One better than the day before. Aside from the final place, I feel like I had a lot better race than Saturday, and looking at the results, I was a minute closer to the race winner, but still 3 minutes behind.

Gotta go catch a plane.

livin like a pro……

Little Fish…..

In a bigger pond.

What the hell am I doing here? That’s what I was thinking part way through the race. I can’t say I had the best race ever. It’s not that I didn’t feel strong, I just did not ride the course well. For starters I was randomly given 51 for my number. This put me in the second to last row. Then the course had a short straight then right in to a series of turns and then the screwiest 180 hairpin turn right in front of the barriers. This lead to a total cluster at the start. There was no room in the front to let things shake out and then we hit a crazy bottle neck at the barriers. So if you weren’t at the front forget it. To be clear here, I am not saying I could have been a top finisher if I was lined up in the front row, but I’d like to feel I would have beat some guys in front of me if given a chance. But hey, them’s the breaks.

As for the rest of the course; It was held on an old golf course, so it was flat. It had a lot of tight twisty turns, some of them slick form rain earlier in the week. It had a couple long straight sections as well. Mostly on grass, with a couple sand sections thrown in. Then there was the green monster. A flyover, which is a set of stairs with a flat section on top and a ramp going down. This crossed part of the course, so you would cross under the monster , around a big left sweeper and then up the stairs and down the ramp. Wasn’t too bad. You had to clip in quick or ride the ramp unclipped, but that was doable.

In the main events of the day Katie Compton showed why she is the National Champ. She opened a can of whup-ass on the rest of the field, over a minute lead. Sue Butler and Wendy scored top 10’s I believe. In the men’s race, the first half was a four man fight of Trebon, Wicks, J-Pow and Tim Johnson. Wicks was the first to pop, then Trebon fell off. Johnson and J-pow went back and forth with J-pow taking it in the last lap. While a resurgent Wicks took Trebon for third. Adam Craig had an amazing race, starting in the fourth row and finishing 5th! So I guess I should quit my whining and just try to ride like Craig (HA HA). Unfortunately Molly crashed hard and DNF’d. She looked pretty banged up. I hope she is ok.

As for our friend Silent Bob, he got screwed by the Officials, they didn’t let him start because he had a “day license” to cover his OBRA license. The registration guy said it was a total screw-up. I am not sure how I got away with it, but I ain’t complaining. I hope they don’t try to mess with me tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Mental note: ALWAYS check tire pressure on the pit bike before the race! I was going over the bikes last night, and getting the pit/training bike ready for a ride after work today. As I swapped out my wheels (yes, I have a race set for my pit bike, doesn’t everyone?), I noticed the tires seemed a little firm, so I checked the pressure, and sure enough I was running 50+psi on the pit bike! Well, that explains why I had such a hard time climbing some of those hills! Brilliant Scott, brilliant.

Shout Out: I forgot to thank Bro-man for running to the pits on Sunday to give me a bike exchange. After Alpenrose I showed him how a bike exchange would ideally happen, and he pulled it off like a pro, that is after he saw me running to him and realized he was on the wrong side of the bike, but it looked so pretty I even heard a compliment from someone nearby. Nice work Bro-man.

Sunday was also Margi’s second cross race. She continues to race really well. Last week she was 5th in her first race, and she moved up to 4th yesterday. Look out ladies, there’s a new force to be reckoned with! Speaking of ladies to be reckoned with Heather had an awesome race on Sunday. In her second race in the B’s she took 2nd! That is awesome Heather. Keep it up, you’re riding real strong.

I stole this cool photo from Bob Libby, Cary the Miller Kid is battling Hulik for the hole shot, but notice to the right, Decker is pulling a wheelie through the puddle off the start!


US Grand Prix of Cyclocross
This weekend is the start of the USGP of Cross. It is a six race series in held in three cities. This year’s races are in Louisville, KY, Mercer, NJ and Portland, OR. It just so happens that my good friend/teammate/riding partner and the guy who pretty much taught me to race cross, Brian, just moved to Louisville this summer, AND I am from Jersey, with my mom living about 45 mins from the race. Sounded too good to be true, so I cashed in a whole bunch of frequent flier miles, and was able to get flights to both KY and NJ. So I won’t be in Astoria this weekend, I’ll be racing in Louisville. Yup that's right, I'm living like a pro, and racing like an amateur! It should be interesting to say the least. I have no idea what the competition will be like, so I am really hoping for is a couple of good solid races. It’ll be hard, I think there will be some real fast guys there. Anyway, I got myself a new camera, so if nothing else I will try to get some video and shots of the Men’s and Women’s races. And if I can find a wi-fi hook-up (not sure if they have internet in KY) I’ll post some results, so come on back ya hear!

Speaking of the new camera, I shot a couple videos of the B’s Sunday. Here’s the B men coming up the hill off the track:
video
And here’s one of them in the Sand pit:
video

Monday, October 22, 2007

Priceless

Cost of a race: $20

Cost of my spare bike: $300 (I got a great deal!)

Cost of being able to run to the pit for a bike change: I don’t know, but it sure isn’t worth $320!!!!!

Yesterday was the Crusade race out at Ranier HS. It was a great venue, and before the race everyone seemed really psyched for the race. The course had a long paved uphill start, with a turn on to a tacky muddy grass/treed section with a long gradual decent. Then on to the track, up a steep but rideable climb, down to a sloppy muddy section along the pits. From there it entered the woods, or as I like to call it, the back 40. A wooded off camper slick, slightly climbing section with two short climbs at the end. This lead to a quick run along a sidewalk then around to the crowd pleasing sandpit, back around and down to the pits, then the long painful climb back up to the start and into the start climb.

For the Master’s 35+ race, there was a crusade first; Call-ups! I am not sure how they figure out the call-ups but I got the second call-up, pretty cool, my first ever. I tried my best to live up to it, and got off the line first and lead it through the start line, but then I thought I rolled my tubular, glanced down and in that split second a half dozen or more guys slipped past. That’s how fast, and heartless these guys are! Unfortunately for me, my sucking was just beginning.

I started fighting back some spots and was somewhere in the top 10 or so, but I kept taking horrible lines, or I would be in the wrong gearing. Just ugly. Then coming out of the “back 40” I broke my chain! My first thought was that I could now drop out and save face from my sucking. But, having a second bike had me feeling like I had to run to the pit. I haven’t run that far in months. Not very fun. And when one guy passed me and joked with “if you need a chain there’s one back there a bit (meaning my broken one on the course)” I wanted to strangle him. Lucky for him, he was on a bike and I was running, and I was too winded to even shoot back a witty retort like "screw-you!" My only bit of luck was having Bro-man watching at the sandpit. He ran ahead and got my pit bike ready, and executed a great hand-off.

From that point on all I could do was just hammer it for the rest of the race. It just became a hard training ride for me, and I tried to take some more chances and push things a bit more since I had nothing to loose. After working my through the first clump of racers I came across David Davini, and I asked him what happened as I was surprised to see him back this far. His response “Nothing, I just suck”. I hope I didn’t offend him. He’s a good rider who kicks my butt in short track and a nice guy, but that response cracked me up!

Anyway, I finished the race feeling more exhausted than the previous few races. That one took it out of me. I must have done ok once I got going as I ended up in 14th. Not too bad all things considered.

My goal for the Crusade series has been to finish top 10 overall for the series. Right now that is going to be a tough one to accomplish. With the Alpenrose barrier issues and yesterday’s race result, I am left with just two races that I probably need to score top 5 or better, as I will miss two races; One of them a double pointer. It’s not impossible, just going to take some good riding and some luck. But no matter what, I am racing well this year, so I got that going for me……

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bonus Footage

At Sunday’s race, Adam Craig, world cup Mt Biker and Single Speed Mt Bike world champion, graced us with his presence at the race. Or should I say disgraced all of us while he raced!

Even the pro's don’t pull it off perfectly every time. Below is a little footage of Craig almost taking out the crowds with his bunny hopping madness:

My Nemesis



Sunday brought us chapter 2 of the Cross Crusade Cyclocross series. This installment was held at Horning’s Hideout. A venue more often associated with Jam bands and their patchouli wearing, pot smoking followers. So I am sure the resident peacocks were in hiding at the sight of the 906 lycra clad bike racers that descended upon the hideout for a cross race.

The course was a tough one. Last year a racer crashed bad and was airlifted out. As we rolled in this year a fire engine and two ambulances showed up, quite a foreboding sign. Luckily, the course was little more tame for cross bikes, just a little. It was a no rest rough and tumble course. Quick descents, short punchy climbs and lots of kidney bruising bumpy fields. Leaving hardly anywhere to rest.

This week, Margi was along not just to cheer on her favorite racer, but to give ‘er a go in the women’s beginner race as well. She did AWESOME. Taking sixth place in her first race*. She seemed really psyched afterwards, and I bet you will be able to find her in a park this week continuing to practice those cross mounts in preparation for the next race. Another addict is born!

Once again I was giving it a go in the Master A field. I got a good line-up on the front row, and narrowly avoided McCaferty’s mechanical in the start. That may have broken the field a bit, and I was in the front group, 5th or 6th, and we were off. Halfway through the lap it was three of us, John Michum, Tre Harris and me. Tre won last week, and finished second to me at Hood River, so it looked like it would be a good battle. I sprinted past him to take the first lap (hey, there was a bottle of wine on the line) and for 3 or 4 laps we switched off. He was better on the descents, especially the hard right turn in the field. I had him on the hills. It was a lot of fun racing him neck and neck. At one point I thought I was gapping him off, but he got back on me on the descent. Then on the next lap we caught up to the back of the A men, and on the descent he got away from me. It was that moment in the race were I was hitting the wall, and even though I was thinking I had to stay on his wheel, my body just didn’t listen and in frustration I watched him open a lead on me. It took me a lap or two to “wake-up” again, and I started to gain back on him, at one point I got within a couple seconds, but I bobbled a turn and lost some, by which point he had me and I just hung in for second.

It was a fun race. And except for those two laps I felt real strong. And I certainly can’t complain about 2nd. After the race Tre was gracious enough to not count last week’s result due to my crash, leaving us tied at 1 apiece. You can bet I will be gunning for him next week.

Look, I really can clear a set barriers:


*In the spirit of full disclosure Margi did do a cross race 2 years ago. On a borrowed bike, with no prep or prior practice.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Man Down

I was just sent this wonderful evidence of me biffing it in the barriers
And the aftermath:
http://photos.oregonvelo.com/p/cc070107/cc0701a05896#photo_s
http://photos.oregonvelo.com/p/cc070107/cc0701mjb010838
http://photos.oregonvelo.com/p/cc070107/cc0701mjb010947#photo_s
http://photos.oregonvelo.com/p/cc070107/cc0701mjb011056#photo_s
http://photos.oregonvelo.com/p/cc070107/cc0701mjb01114#photo_s

Awful nice of them to document it all and post it on the web. Remind me to thank those guys! Luckily the only bruise was to my ego, and after seeing these it just got worse.

Leave it me to show you how the Pros do it!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Crusade Begins....

The Cross Crusade Cyclocross series started on Sunday, and once again that meant racing at the popular Alpenrose Dairy. And once again that meant near record attendance, some where near 1078 racers in 6 races.

I was back racing with the Masters 35+ A race (the fast old guys). After last week's fiasco with the bike I felt I had gotten the shifters working well, that and the course was pretty dry, so I was feeling better. The course was a little softer than last year, but no mud as the rain had let up the past few days. Either way I was taking no chances, thanks to the guys from Sellwood Cycle I was able to get a second bike built up for the pits. Together, they make the Fluorescent Fleet.

Leading up to the race I was a nervous wreck. I kept trying to convince myself that it was just a race, and meant nothing. But it didn't work. I was nervous, stomach cramps and a headache nervous. Not good. Made we wonder why the hell I do this, but once I got there, rode around a bit, joked with some folks I felt a lot better.

I got a good line up, in the front row, and was feeling good. From the gun I was off the line with the top 5-10 guys until one of them pinched me off against a curb. That just pissed me off, and I motored back up. I worked my way up to around 6th. Then, remember that right shifter from last week? Somebody (me) didn't tighten it up enough and it started flopping around, making the climbs and the decents pretty tough. I wanted to make a bike change but I was afraid to loose too many places. I was looking for someone I could yell to to grab my pit bike so I could have a quick exchange, well, lady luck, or as I now call her, the bitch of misfortune, smiled her gap-toothed grin at me again. While going through the 6-pack. I went down. Luckily right between the barriers, and luckily in front of Bro-man. I yelled "I need a bike change, same bike, in green!" After putting my chain back on and losing 3-4 places I was back on. I came into the pits and Bro-man was waiting like a good pit bitch with the bike change. As I change bikes a group of 4 or so got past me. From there I just did all I could to get as many spots as I could back. I did ok, finishing in 11th. Not too bad.

Overall I felt good, and am happy with an 11th. I think I could have pulled a top 5 finish, and the guy who won it I had beat in HR, so if nothing else I feel like I am up there with the top guys in the field.

The nice thing about the dry course: No bike cleaning to be done!!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Time Out!

We interupt the bike interuption to bring some very important information about:

SNOW!

That's right, one day it was summer, and the next it was fall, and week later it's winter! Pretty fast changes this year. So fast that I have been caught off guard and haven't had a chance to get my winter forecast up.

Well wait no more Snow Curmudgeon fans, it is time for the Winter Outlook.

After painstakenly looking at all the data, historical trends and mostly just reading a few other forcasts and plagarizing, I have a good grasp of the winter forcast.

Some background:
Pac NW winters can often follow the trend of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Two year's ago we had a record winter, that was following the busy Hurricane season that included Katrina. Last year we had a close to normal winter that peetered out early, and a correspondingly unremarkable Hurrucane season. This year we have had a somewhat average to quiet Hurricane season. There were a few early, and they were big-uns too. So maybe we can expect some early winter activity, then leveling off?

There is also some correlation to years when we have a wet spring we have a dry fall and vice versa. We certainly had a dry spring this year, and so far a wet fall.

We also tend to have active Winters in La Nina years, and miserable (dry and sunny) winters in El Nino years (see 04/05 the year without a winter). Right now we are boardering on a La Nina year, some forecasts call for it to weaken as the winter goes on other call for it to remain.

I think you have figured out where I am heading with this one. Expect this year's winter to come in roaring and then temper somewhat. But I am going to keep uncharacteristically optomistic and call late winter as average. I envision an early build to the snow pack with above average snow and below avergage temps through early January, with close to average temps and precip mid-January through may. That second half is hard to predict, but it looks pretty good for the first half right now.

I am not saying we will be skiing by Halloween. These early snows are exciting, but there will still be soem dry periods and warm fronts to keep the pack from building too much. But I think we can expect soem wild weather none the less.

For more enlightened forcasts check here:
http://www.ocs.oregonstate.edu/index.html

I now you return you to your previously unscheduled interuptions, I gotta go tune the skis and sno seal the leather boots!