Sunday, December 12, 2010
Megan took off on the second run leg and she pretty much left it all out on the trails. I am proud of how she can dig down deep and deliver the goods when it counts. She did great! We ended up 15th overall and 2nd in Co-Ed and had a load of fun in the process. I can't wait for the next one!
Thanks Megan for inviting me and many thanks to Varinka for the pics and the cowbell ringing that could be heard all over the valley. It definitely helped! I'm glad you were there.
Here's the 411:
The final round of the Mud, Sweat and Gears cyclocross series rolled into The Farmhouse Gallery in Unicoi TN amid cold, frigid air and snow. Ok fine. Cross people are used to crappy weather and we wear it like a badge of courage. The unfortunate thing is when it "warmed" up enough to rain. Rain @ 34 degrees pure sucks but at the same time is strangely fun. My agenda was the Masters 45+ race then Singlespeed later in the day. I got dressed and got my bike and tried to warm up before the Masters race which was pretty much a joke. It was cold and I am a baby. I tried to channel some toughness from Jens Voigt and suck it up and really it wasn't that bad. The bad was coming.
It seems that I brought only enough warm stuff to stay warm if I stayed dry. If this was my first year of doing stuff like this we could excuse me and say ok, lesson learned. But since I have been racing cross for 6 years and racing and riding my bike in crappy weather for much longer than that, I have no defense excpet to plead temporarily stupid. It's ok my sentence would be carried out quickly and my suffering was ensured.
I had 2 hours to contemplate putting wet clothes back on and racing again. The rain never stopped and neither did the shivering. I was shivering at just under my threshold pace and warmth was something that happens to "other people". Time ticked away and I was doing more waffling than a politician a week before election day. Finally as they called singlespeed to the line, I was getting my bike off the car and airing the tires. Wet clothes in the cold is tough. I rode to the line with no warm-up and expected to die quickly but I was going to die on my pedals and not like a little girl cowering in the front seat of my car with the heat on.
Jens would be proud.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I have learned from past experience that my body responds well to tough love when it comes to training. Having said that, I have never done back to back cx races before. On one hand, the back to back races in question are only 30 minute races and that was an hour and a half after the 45min Master's race so it's not that bad. On the other hand, this is cyclocross and my inner child was about to throw a tantrum.
After warming up a few laps on the Dwayne Letterman designed course that included one set of barriers and several off-camber down/up combos that would surely cause some consternation from the masses. I went to the line and, hmmm.... Seems a bunch of people got there before me and I was on the second row. Crap! I fought hard to get as close to the front as I could and I did ok. I was sitting in the top 5ish and stayed there until we got to one of the short n' steep dips. Somebody messed up and we suddenly had a donnybrook, a free-for-all. I scrambled to get going again asap and don't really know how many people passed me or where I was for that matter. I was irritated but hey, crap happens. I regained composure as quickly as I could and started searching for friends I could kill, hahahaha... The first buddy I saw was my brother from another mother - David Hayter. I watched him for a lap and saw that he was weak on the long climb from the finish line to the top of the course. I attacked him there and got a nice gap between myself and him plus several others that were behind us now. I was on the rivet and waaaaaaay down deep in my pain cave. So much so that about 2/3 of the way into the race, I blew a corner and allowed two people to get close and eventually past me.... CRAP! I buried myself to try and get those spots back but to no avail, I ended up 9th.
I had about 1.5 hours until my back to back SS/CX4 events so I ate and hung out with cowbell in hand to cheer on some of my peeps. I wasn't sure what to expect, I left pretty much all I had out on the course in the Masters race. Hmmm. This was going to be interesting.
I grabbed my singlespeed and went for a ride around the venue and when the Pro 1,2 race was over, I hopped on course to see how I might feel. Having spent more time on my singlespeed in the past few years than any other bike, I always feel better and more relaxed on it. I love my Vassago. They nailed the geometry on them perfectly. Nothing handles like my Optimus. Therefore, I felt really good in the off-camber parts and the short, steep up/down stuff in the woods. On the downside, my legs were CRAP.
On the start, I went as hard as I could but didn't get a very good one. I was discouraged and resigned myself to the fact that it was what it was and I just need to deal with it. I did manage to catch and pass a few people and by the end of the race I had worked my way into 4th. Now for a jersey change, a quick swig of water and slam a Hammer Gel and a bike change.
I didn't even bother with riding a hot lap before the CX4 race. I was as hot as I could be and I knew the course like the back of my hand. I just rolled to the start line and waited.......
At the start, I did a solo break off the back and found myself alone and DFL by the time we got to the top of the hill. I contemplated quitting but then I remembered how much I'd hate myself later for that and figured I'd get all the pain and suffering over with in one day instead of dragging it out over several weeks. About 1.5 laps in and I started catching and passing people. This fueld me a little and I pushed as hard as I was able at that point. I caught a few more and made it up to 19th by the bell lap. I had no chance of catching anyone else but for craps and giggles I still pushed hard in the final lap and even sprinted across the line.
I thought I was gonna puke....
It was a good experience (that's easy to say two days after the fact) but I was really trashed afterwards. I am excited to see how much fitness I gain by the time round 8 rolls around Dec 4.
I heart cyclocross....
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Round 6 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross Series rolled into Johnson City and Winged Deer Park Saturday. The threat of snow and frigid temperatures got me really excited and reminded me of the State Championship race at this same venue just 10 months prior where it snowed 4 inches. The snow held off but the cold was there to stay. Ahhh cross weather.....
My goal after last weekend is to race my way into decent fitness and try to do well in the upcoming State Champs race in January. With that in mind, I signed up for Masters 45+, CX4, and Singlespeed. The classes were staggered just enough to give me about an hour between each race. Just enough time to get cold and suffer more when it was time to race again, yummy! Having said that though, I don't think I am ready to go 1:45 at or above my AT just yet, nope I think I might just puke if I tried that. After a pseudo warm-up, I took the line for the Masters race where I got the holeshot -yay me! I have learned from nearly 30 years of racing (good GOD I am old!!!) motorcycles and bicycles that the start is critical. Get a good start and go backwards if you must but it's a lot easier to stay at the front if you are already there. Plus you stay out of all sorts of trouble by getting a good start.
I had no intentions of staying at the front this day however and about half a lap in, I started making my way to mid-pack where I would set up shop for the next 40 minutes. I felt - meh... Not bad but definitely not good. Perhaps the only thing I had going in my favor was I was there, doing what I love and I was no longer cold! In fact, I was starting to roast and my tights were causing me problems on my remounts by getting caught on my seat several times and subsequently ticking me off. I pushed hard until the final meters of the final lap and then sat up and rolled across the line in 10th place. I headed to the dirty orange box that I drive to rest and get some fluids before the CX4 race.
I didn't get such a good start in the CX4 race and that was fine with me. I still felt some of the effort from the Masters race and was thinking that I was happy that this was just a 30 minute race instead of 45. By now the course was getting slick in some of the off-camber sections and in one corner I went down. It was nothing spectacular, I just fell over like a dork, costing me time and nearly costing me positions. I was determined to defend my 14th place or die. I just kept telling myself that I am training and these races don't matter, heck none of it really matters in the big picture. I don't have anything to prove... Try telling that to a competitive soul on a course with other people on bikes. I pin a number on and I change. Who doesn't?
Despite falling and having a few wardrobe malfunctions, I had a decent race and as far as training goes, I was having a great day. After the 4's I went to get a Coke and a smile and chill out until my final event - Singlespeed.
In SS I got a second place start right behind my pal, Neo-Pro Wes Lamberson who races for Union College. I knew I'd be following him only as far as I could so I just tried to settle in second and that soon became third then fourth (dangit) but I managed to stay there for the remainder of the race. At that point it was all about blue-collar suffering. I began to get real sloppy and fudged a few corners and tripped on the barriers at least twice. Training, training, training, I'm only training, I'm only training.... I kept telling my legs to shut the **** up (thanks Jens) and push onward. I pushed as hard as I could until the end. Everytime through the Redline run-up (a steep bank that was kinda slick), I attacked it like my life depended on it as opposed to a death march or crawl up it. Fitness is coming back to Duckman's house one way or another!
Three races hurt and I was really knackered at the end of the day, only speaking with one syllable words and using a lot of hand gestures. I was happy with how I did and am anxious for the rest/recover/rebuild cycle that brings on the gains in performance that I am expecting. I will get a chance to gauge my progress next week at Round 7.
Until then, Arriba, Arriba, Arriba!!!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
I rode around to warm-up before the Masters 45+ (my 44th birthday was Saturday so that meant my "racing age" for cross is now 45, I am officially old) and I was thinking about how the pain was going to feel...ugh. Hey, this is cyclocross, it hurts! Deal with it. The Dwayne Letterman designed course was fast and flowed really well and included two trips through the sand. It was fun. At the start, I was sitting on my top-tube and mentally prepping when the USAC official said "Ok gentlemen have fun" and everyone took off! CRAP! No ready, set, go; no GO! no fanfare, nope, just a sweet little, soft spoken lady saying ok boys have fun. I was expecting cookies and milk later..... Consequently I buried myself deep in anaerobic hell trying to get into a good position on the first lap. 45 minutes later I rolled across the line in 16th. Whatever. It was training for me and my first race in almost a year so I didn't really care a lot about position.
My next race was a few hours later so I went for lunch. Maybe a burrito complete with jalapeno peppers wasn't the best idea before another anaerobic effort. That's all I will say about that for now. Readying for the CX4 race I was rather upbeat and looking forward to it. This time I was going to be ready for the start lady. If she even passed gas I was outta there like a thief on a new bike. I got a much better start and was in 4th place going into some dips and swoopy turns on the upper end of the course. I bobbled on one of the dips and almost crashed. I saved it but lost all my momentum and went from 4th to about 15th just like that. CRAP! I buried myself again trying to regain some positions and it was about then that mr burrito came back and merely suggested that I might want to eat something different before a race in the future. I rode around (some say there was a race going on.. hmm, I was riding my bike in circles and trying not to puke) and crossed the line in a dismal 21st. I was pretty unhappy with that and had to remind myself that I knew it was going to be bad, to suck it up and put on my big boy panties and deal with it.
After a birthday dinner with my sis (and a beer..yay) I rested and considered my plan for Sunday's Tornado Cross on the campus of King College in Bristol.
Sunday morning I woke up and my legs felt baaaaaaad. After getting to the venue and registering, I got on my bike and rode for about 40 minutes to try to warm-up and get my legs moving. They were pissed at me and not talking. The course was interesting with a swampy section and some woods complete with good, old fashioned singletrack. King College is a beautiful campus and a great place for an event like this. I only did Masters 45+ since I figured I had done enough for the weekend and I took the line not really knowing what to expect. We had a actual whistle to start and that went and I went - not so hard this time. Still, I found myself in second (for 45+, 35+ was out there too so I was about 8th or 9th in the field and I tried to go hard as I could but still remembering that I had 40 minutes left to race.
I got passed and was comfortably in 3rd for most of the race until 2 laps from the end and I messed up coming out of the woods and got tangled up in the marking tape - doh! My buddy Dwayne the saw blood and put in a dig to catch me and I dug as deep as I could to prevent that from happening. 1.5 laps later I sat up and soft pedaled the final 100 yards to finish 3rd.
Overall I was happy with the weekend. I knew returning to racing would really suck in one aspect but it still is a whole lot of fun and that's why I do it.
Monday, July 19, 2010
That question was presented to me on Jun 24. I was on a weekly group ride with the folks of Johnson City Cycling and we always go over Buffalo Mountain in Johnson City. This particular night it was sprinkling slightly and there was some lightning off in the distance causing a few to turn back. That is the last thing I remember. The next 36 hours of my life may or may not ever come back to me but eyewitnesses and painful scars (oh and some scary MRI scans) have helped me put together what happened.
As we rode on that evening, the rain never really materialized after a few sprinkles. By all accounts it was a pretty typical ride and we reached the base of Buffalo and everyone climbed their own pace and we regrouped at the top. The roads were damp in places but by no means all that wet (or so I was told). We rode off the mountain. Here's where things for me get a little weird. I have been riding and racing bikes for 22 years and some rules I never break....ever. One of those is on wet descents I always mind my own business and I don't follow wheels, especially in corners. Not having the luxury of knowing what happened exactly I am still really troubled by the crash. I just don't understand how I got where I was just before another rider lost it in a left hand corner and his bike slid right in front of me. I tried in vain to bunnyhop the bike but I failed. I had zero time to react and hit the road at 40mph head first. Road rash on my head, hands, knees and shoulder says I never even had time to take my hands off the bars. The other rider, as far as I know, had road rash and that was all. I layed in the road unconscious as friends watched over me and called 911.
At the hospital, road rash was treated and stitches were applied to my left eye and chin. A MRI would show several facial and jaw fractures and a subdural hemotoma. I was admitted to ICU and that is where I stayed until Sunday. Sometime on Saturday, I became somewhat aware of what was happening to me. Still very foggy and very much in pain, I learned of the crash, the damage to my face, the bleeding on my brain (which had THANKFULLY stopped) and the amazingly wonderful job my Bell Volt helmet did in saving my life. The rest of Saturday and Sunday were spent with me becoming less "foggy" and starting to improve. By Sunday evening I was moved out of ICU and by Monday I was released from the hospital. I had a prescription for some wonderful pain meds and some good old R&R. After couple of days of that I was climbing the walls. I don't do idle time very well.
I figured out by using some math equations that I hadn't used since college that at the point of impact there was over 10,000lbs of force on my head and neck. I got scared... really scared. I have crashed a lot over the years and have had a lot of broken bones and assorted injuries. Never broke my head before though.
I felt very blessed to still be around to bitch and complain about how much pain I was in and how my fitness was abandoning ship like rats from the Titanic. Over the next week I healed a lot and was able to return to work the day after Independance Day. By the following Sunday, I was ready (physically, amazingly) to ride my bike again.
Mentally however, was a slightly different story. I was scared. I still had skull fractures that were healing but made my melon weak. Crashing was not an option. If I hit my face (before this crash, the last hard crash I had on the road was over 10 years ago so the odds were decent.... still I was scared ****less) I would be screwed to impressive levels of screwedness. A mile into the ride I wanted to turn back. I was nervous, my legs felt like crap and my balance was screwed up... I was scared... I went on and was flanked by some good friends that made sure I kept myself out of too much trouble. We rode for a couple of hours and although I felt better at the end, the fear and uneasyness never left me completely. I made it though. I dealt with the fear pretty much how I always have, I punched it in the face.
I have ridden a few times now since the accident and every ride feels a little better and my fitness is (sloooowly) returning. I rode the exact climb and descent that almost killed me and although it was scary and I roasted my brake pads all the way down, I did it. My prognosis is good. The fractures in my skull and jaw will all heal without the need for surgery. My brain has a small amount of blood between the halves that should go away on its own. The damage emotionally will also heal with time too. I have scars on top of scars on top of scars....Nothing new there, skin heals too.... My fitness will return and hopefully I can improve (I lost 11 pounds but unfortunately most of it was muscle...) on it. Time will tell.
I want to thank everyone that helped me that night, that prayed for me, sent me encouragement and helped me and continues to help and encourage me to this day and forward. I have a great circle of friends and I appreciate each and every one of you...
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I got into some fast, twisty turns and the handling seemed to be typical Vassago. Forget the myth that 29er's can't turn well. Poorly designed 29er's can't turn well. Vassago's turn superb. I was railing corners like normal and had all confidence in stuffing a bike that I have only ridden a mile into a corner at speed.
Bumpy, root infested corners pushed the Chupa's handling to the limit. It didn't perform badly, just different than my Optimus. It's not a fair comparison really - apples to oranges. Still I had a lot of confidence based on my experience with Vassago bikes added to the secure, stable ride the Chupa was feeding me.
I didn't have time for serious, all-day miles so I can't comment on long ride comfort but my initial impression is that this is a fun bike and would be great built up with a 100mm or better fork and maybe a 1X9 drivetrain for some mo-betta serious trail riding and maybe even some dual slalom.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Ok so I literally decide just a scant few hours before the start of the 2010 Tennessee State Criterium Championships held today in Johnson City, TN to pin on a number and have a go. Nevermind the fact that I haven't raced a crit in a year, nevermind the fact that I haven't raced a bicycle period since January at the TN State Cyclocross Championships. I am not known for good decision making.
I got interested when I went with my little sis to a 5k race she was running in yesterday and then we drove to Carver's Gap on Roan Mtn to see the finish of the Roan Groan. I have been not that interested in racing at all this year and have been riding my bike just to be riding my bike. The fitness I have comes from a pile of fairly easy endurance miles with some tempo along the way but very little intensity. So I do the smart thing: I register for Cat 4 and Masters 30/40+ thus guaranteeing myself 80 minutes of redline, on the rivet effort. That is provided I could hang with the group and not get pulled (by being lapped).
I lost touch with the pack and hooked up with a smaller group of about 5 and we tried our best but the end was swift and inevitable. We got pulled after 15 minutes into the race....meh.
Monday, April 19, 2010
I got layed by some lady at the church sag stop.... Uh, that didn't come out right.... oh well.
Fun with food...
Varinka "chicking" a dude on one of the few 20% grades we found in eastern KY..
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Really, even though I am making the best of this like everyone else in the country, I am over winter. Instead of Groundhod Day, I am going to make Save This Kitten Day. That is, if I don't see Spring soon, very, very soon, I am going to shoot this kitty.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I woke up Sunday determined to stay snowed in. My January so far has been total shit and there is no way I was going to take a chance on having fun on the last day of it. My fate was sealed when I turned on my computer to watch some of the live coverage of the Cyclocross Worlds going on in the Czech Republic. After watching that for a bit, I loaded up my Vassago Optimus mountain bike ( I figured there was a better chance of taking it with the conditions than there would be on my cross bike) and headed out.
I got there in time to get registered and ride a few laps of the totally covered-in-snow-and-slop course and at that point almost went back home. It was tough. By normal standards it was nothing too technical and would have been fast. Add 5 inches of snow and it was like riding in deep sand and someone ran the Pamplona Bulls through with a bad case of diarrhea. I talked myself into staying and chatted with some of my friends until time for the race to start.
I got a crappy starting spot and came off the line in nearly last place. Fighting for a good position before we entered the course off of the starting straight, I managed to get a decent spot. There was zero places to pass. I went out in the deep snow, out of the racing line (if you can call a shit colored wet line in the snow a racing line) and ohboy that was tough. There was absolutely no settling in on this course. No place to recover. By the second lap I was so far deep in the red zone, I thought I was going to puke. I had made it up to 7th behind my buddy Rich Kidd and had brief moments of thinking about challenging him. Rich is strong and a good bit younger than me so I doubted I could make a pass stick but I still tried to get close enough.
I dug too deep too long though and settled in somewhat in the last half-lap and cruised on home in 7th.
I was happy that I did go out and try. I had fun and that's something that I really needed.
Many, many thanks to Dwayne Letterman and all the volunteers that work selflessly to set-up and take down the courses and all the other myriad of tasks that go into putting on a MSG race.
Friday, January 1, 2010
My racing age is 44. It's a good thing I am not sensative to such things. Obviously USAC is not operated by women (no offense ladies) because you would NEVER see age on the damn license anywhere. It's more likely run by mean, older brother types. You know the ones that like to snap towels on your ass and push you down stairs and stuff like that. I wonder why they stopped at racing age? Why not have racing weight? Skill level? Riding ability? Special requirements?
Mine could look like this:
Racing Age - 44
Racing Weight - Fat
Skill Level - not the best
Riding Ability - Some days I suck, others I rock.
Special Requirements - I need a cold beer at the end of every race that lasts up to 2 hours. One beer per racing hour after 4 hours up to 12 hours. If I win, I need 5 or 6 more beers and maybe an Irish Car Bomb or some Tequila to celebrate also I will require someone to cart my fat, alcohol reeking ass back to the motel, RV, tent, et cetera from which I came so I can sleep it off. I need a massage before and after any race and at Cyclocross races where the ambient temperature is less than 50 degrees, I need a hot towel at finish and some hot cider with a shot of spiced rum.
Hmmm..... I can see a flaw in that system. Maybe we should just stick with racing age.