Saturday, October 31, 2009

Guilty by reason of insanity or mental defect.

Today was round 3 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross series in Johnson City, Tn. I missed the first two rounds and with it my chance at doing well in the series overall. That combined with my life story of late kinda resembling a screenplay for a new disaster movie and consequently

me spending a lot of time off my bike in the last 5 weeks set me up for what was sure to be a real hum-dinger of a sufferfest. There was also a chance of rain which meant that it was going to pour at some point... it just does. Still, I loaded up bikes and gear for the deal and headed out for Winged Deer Park and a day of self-inflicted punishment. Being that it's Halloween and Spooky Cross, I decided to do something a little special

The first race was at 10:30 and the field was huge. I got a good start, 4th or 5th going up the hill and into the first turn but I knew I wouldn't be able to stay there for the whole race. I started feeling my inactivity real quick and began to fade to eventually finish 16th - still in the upper half of the field though so I was happy.

The course was really tricky with a sandpit with three turns in it (didja ever try riding in deep sand and changing direction?) plus several really extreme off-camber parts that were slick even when dry much less if it got wet.......

The rain came and was cold and steady making the course evil. Several people went down, some of them really hard (one guy probably broke a collarbone). My next race was on my singlespeed and it still had fat mountain bike tires which would serve me well. I usually ride good in slop which was another positive. I hate being cold and wet at the same time though and that was nearly a deal breaker. While I waited for my race, I looked through the car for my balls plus all the warm clothes I could find. An hour, One arm warmer and two knee warmers later, I headed out to get wet and try to get my mind right for the next 30 minutes of my life that were gonna be a bit uncomfortable. I had to ask myself why do I keep putting my body through this kind of torture. I mean days like today are exactly why couches were invented. Hmmm..... Think I'd rather suffer like a dog for a half-hour in a muddy and cold field than get fat on the couch.

I took the start for the singlespeed class and we got about ten feet off the pavement before I got a money-shot of slop right to my face rendering me blind for the next hundred or so yards. I think I got passed there and when I regained most of my sight, I was in 4th right behind my friend Mike Mefford. I felt like that was a good place to be and tried my best to stay there but kept getting crap in my face and messing up my contacts. The course was really slick and the off camber sections were pretty much a free for all. I even crashed once and slid to the bottom on my stomach, fun times.....

I ended up 6th and happy that I stuck it out. I knew this race was going to be particularly hard on me and I wasn't disappointed. Still, it was fun and after a hot shower and some food, I forgot about all the pain. Maybe for the next one, I can take some fitness.....


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sometimes you gotta swing for the fence.....

I have been debating whether or not to write this blog entry but I thought why the hell not, I am among friends right?
On Sept 11 (oddly enough) my wife and I decided to end our relationship and go our separate ways. This was not a decision that was made in a few minutes or even an hour or two. The decision to part came after 5 years of counseling, trying to work it out and eventually facing the reality that "It just ain't happening". The details thereof are really not important and I am exceedingly happy that we can remain good friends and make the best of a bad situation.
It was a hard decision in the begining but as things went along, I realized it was the only decision I had to make and in the end, I truly believe that the lives of me, her and our son will benefit in a positive way.
For me, my job now is to focus on single-dadhood and give my son the best of me. I am excited about it and plan to face it like I do any challenge I have ever faced - Wide Fucking Open. I only know one way and that is to throw all I have into it.

I intend to continue racing and riding bikes although at this point I am not sure what next year's schedule will look like..... I am not really worried about it. Bike racing is and always has been something I do for me. I have fun with it and am fortunate to be associated with some really cool people that make some really cool bike stuff. I will continue with them as long as they want me around. Bikes and racing will always be there. No worries.

For those of you that have sent me notes and messages of support.. I thank you.

Rock on good people....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Upside down and backwards.........

I went to the 12 Hours of Dauset last weekend with my buddy and longtime teammate/racing partner Bob Lamberson and his wife Anet. The weather was perfect, the course was well groomed and pretty damn sweet. I had great legs and felt like it was going to be a good race. Approximately 2 hours into the race however, things went to hell quick and left me wondering if I was even going to say anything about it or just pretend it never happened.

Here's how it unfolded.

I arrived at Dauset trails in Jackson GA Friday night under the cover of darkness, kinda like a trail ninja, yeah that's how I roll. After putting the Honda into RV mode I got some sleep. Saturday morning greeted us with a perfect day for racing. After breakfast, me and Bob took off for some riding and looking at the course. The trails at Dauset are typical middle Georgia: sandy over hardpack with plenty of roots and rocks here and there. While you don't have the 30-45 minute climbs that you find further up the Appalachians, there are a lot of little climbs and rollers but this course, by way of comparison to some of the others I have ridden recently, was really tame. I heard a 1000 feet of climbing per lap and I am sure that was true, it just didn't feel like that much.
My back had been bothering me for the 2 days prior to the race, so much so that on Friday I wasn't sure I'd be able to race. Oddly enough, it felt fine while I was riding. Walking or sitting around caused problems, riding, no problem. Soon enough it was time to start. We agreed that Bob would go first and then me. I was fine with that since my back was bothering me and I hate running anyway (all Goneriding races begin with a LeMans start, another reason to hate the French!). After the start, I had about 40 minutes before I needed to be in staging waiting on Bob. I figured he'd do about a 45-50 minute lap and when he rolled in at about 47 minutes, I took off. Judging from the riders I had seen come through before him, I calculated that we were around 15th overall and most likely either leading the Duo or at worst in 2nd. Not really a big deal with 11 hours of racing to go but nice to know at any rate.
I felt great! I immediately passed two people that had left a bit before me and that felt good. I tried to lay down a fairly solid lap time but not kill myself in the process. In a lot of ways doing a Duo race is harder than just going solo. You tend to ride faster than a solo pace and you have only enough time between laps to get cold and stiff. You recover a bit maybe but it ain't easy by any means. I rode fast enough and came in without any problems in about 48 minutes.
I refilled my water bottle, ate some grapes and that's about all I had time for before it was time to go back to staging. Bob's 2nd lap was about the same as his first and I went out for what I assumed would be another great lap. What I didn't see coming was the freight train that would end my day approximately 2 miles into the lap. What happened exactly, isn't important. I had a major mechanical failure. The type that could happen to anyone at any time. The reason I am being tight-lipped about it is how in this day and age people bash everyone's stuff and that just pisses me off. I love my sponsors and they make good stuff and they have been good to me. Shit happens and what happened in Georgia was just a thang.
Having said that, I have gone for about 5 years without even so much as a flat tire so I was kinda pissed off that my day was now over. I had 5 miles to go to the end of the lap and I could ride my bike (albeit slowly and very carefully) way faster than I could run so I did. I got back and made the hand-off to Bob and he knew my day was done. I returned to the pits and considered my options. I could sit there and stew for the rest of the day; I could take my cross bike off the car (I had my cross bike instead of a spare mountain bike because I was planning to do a cyclocross race the next day back in Tennessee) and give it a try; or I could go home.
I actually did try the cross bike but that wasn't going to work so I headed home. I set out for a great weekend of racing but ended up back home before the damn race was even over.
Bob went on to finish the race and due to his efforts "we" ended up 7th in the Duo class. Anet won the Female solo in Viking fashion, she killed everyone! Great job Anet!

After a five hour drive home with some of my favorite music and a three hour mountain bike ride on Sunday, I was back in a decent mood by the end of the weekend.