Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back to School

Just like when I was a kid, going back to school meant the end of summer, and so did this past Sunday’s cross race at Sam Barlow High School. Only when I was a kid I never looked forward to the end of summer, much less going back to school. If going to school was this much fun, or if I had put in as much time preparing for school as I do for ‘cross, who knows, I may have actually learned something. But High School, at least Morris Knolls High School, was never this much fun, although it may have been just as painful; My ass hurt just like it did when the varsity football team gave me a wedgie, I dropped my chain at the wrong times, just like I dropped my books just when the cool kids were passing by, and the warm weather left my mouth just as dry as it would get when I tried to talk to that really hot chick that sat next to me in Geometry. That about sums it up really. It was a hot dry course, fast, and bumpy with a brutal giant sized stepped run-up. But it was also a lot of fun.

For this week’s race I lined up with the really fast Sr Men A category instead of normal Master 35+ A’s. Out of the start I was somewhere in the middle of the pack. I got lucky and avoided a couple early crashes that probably helped me gap some of the guys chasing behind me. After a few laps of riding through some guys I started to find myself somewhat alone. Then Margi told me I was in 10th place. I couldn’t believe it. I had no clue I was in such a good position. I had to make sure that I kept up the pace and didn’t let anyone catch me from behind. Luckily we were moving through the back of the Masters riders so I had people to pass to keep my pace up. Then I noticed that I was gaining on Mike Benno and Cary Miller. That really got me motivated. With two laps to go, I got to where I about two bike lengths off of Cary when I dropped my chain and lost some ground. After another lap I was reeling them back in when Mike rolled his front tubular. I caught up to him and then got past him in the run-up. He told me he wasn’t going to try to get back around with the bum tubular so with him encouraging me on, I tried to chase down Cary while I held off a fast charging Mike Gallagher and Evan Plews on the last half lap. In the end I pulled it out and finished a few seconds behind Cary in 9th place.

If Barlow marked the end of summer than this weekend marks the end of the preseason and the start of the regular season with the first Cross Crusade Race at Alpenrose Dairy. Rumor has it that Ryan Trebon and Adam Craig will be there. Man it is going to be a fast race. If I can manage not to get lapped I will be thrilled.

And just on cue for the fall:

Scattered Showers
Hi 63 °F

Slight Chc Rain
Lo 49 °F

Chance Rain
Hi 64 °F

Thursday Night
Chance Rain
Lo 52 °F

Chance Showers
Hi 63 °F

Friday Night
Chance Showers
Lo 48 °F

Chance Showers
Hi 62 °F

Saturday Night
Chance Showers
Lo 48 °F

Slight Chc Showers
Hi 62 °F

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The past weekend marked the start of yet another ‘Cross season, my sixth, which I guess means I am no longer a rookie, too bad I still tend to race like one at times. It wasn’t that bad, actually, the weekend was down right good for me. There being two pretty competitive races, I had my best overall weekend of racing.

Saturday was the now world famous Star Crossed Cyclocross race at the Marymoore Velodrome outside Seattle. Sometimes billed as a party with a Cyclocross race, it is a pretty boisterous event in and around the velodrome. The day culminates with the Elite Women’s and Men’s races after dark under the lights. My race was a little earlier in the evening during the daylight hours. I was lucky to get a good start number and lined up on the front row. Even luckier was being able to get off the line quick and up near the front going into the first corner. It didn’t take long for Richard Feldman to break off the front and ride away solo to victory in first class style. Meanwhile I was back in business class with three other guys. The announcers and spectators may have called us the chase group, but I can tell you there wasn’t much chasing going on. It was much more of a battle for 2nd and 3rd place. We were eventually joined by two others and spent a good part of the race testing each other, trying to break away and figuring out how to pull off a spot on the podium. That’s where I raced like a rookie, being beat at the line by Rich McClung to come in 6th overall. Still, my best finish at Star Crossed, and within seconds of 3rd. So I have nothing to complain about.

Sunday was the Rad Racing Grand Prix of Cyclocross at Steilacoom State Park near Tacoma Wa. The day started with Margi’s race at 9am. She was looking to improve upon an already impressive finish the day before at Star Crossed. She had a great start and made the cut to the lead group of six or so ladies. They spent pretty much the whole race battling it out. With a couple laps to go Margi went down, and even though she was back quick it was enough to gap her off just a bit. But she fought back on the last lap, getting back on the group on the famous Knapp time run-up and the climb after it. She was in great position coming into the final sprint finish and came in for 2nd place! Sweet!

I was the unfortunate victim of spectating and somehow tweaked my back while running around the course cheering for Margi (how pathetic, but worth it). Since my race wasn’t for another four hours I had plenty of time to warm up and loosen it up. Some ibuprofen and embrocation later, it felt pretty good to go for the race. I was lucky once again to get the last spot on the Second Row right behind Sean Kelsey, former Oregon racer now up in Wa. My start was pretty good once again, and I was in the lead group first time up the run-up. From there the race was like a do-over from the day before. Richard Feldman rode away from us all. Initially Sean and I were a bit off the rest, but were eventually joined by two others. Our group of four turned into six. I was having a hard time keeping on during the descents (I hate loose gravel descending with too low a pressure in the tubulars) and had to chase back on after each time down. But on the flip side I was feeling pretty good on the run-up and climb, even though it was killing my back. As we came in to the run-up on the last lap I was sitting second wheel and planning to give it all I had and try to get a bit of a gap and ride away for second. Unfortunately when I hit the run-up it felt like I dropped anchor. Between my back and two days of racing, I was the one that got gapped. Add in my poor descending, and I found myself way off the back and rolled in alone in 6th place for the second race in a row.

All things considered, two sixth placed finishes in some big marquee races to start the season is awesome. But I can’t help but feel a little disappointed being so close to a spot on the podium both times. But looking at the big picture, I raced real strong and feel like I am just getting going and still have a lot of room for more fitness. Of course I bet there were 80 other guys in each of those races who feel the same way. The real question will be if I can turn it all into results. Fist things first though, I have to get this back of mine sorted out. By Sunday night it was killing me. I could hardly roll over in bed, and each time I did it woke me up. I did manage to see Kurt Marion at PACE yesterday and he did a good job of working some of the spasm out of my back. Luckily it doesn’t seem to hurt when I am on the bike, and it was much better last night. Hopefully I will have it worked out by the start of the Cross Crusade.