Sunday, December 12, 2010

Run, Bike, Run, Puke..

It's officially the crap season in North America. It's cold, dark at like 3:00pm and cold and wet and dark. For solar powered lovers of outdoor exercise and related Tom-foolery that poses a bit of difficulty to our lifestyle. Given that and my need to punish myself physically and have fun, I accepted my sister's invitation to enter the Double Trouble Duathlon at Bays Mountain in Kingsport, TN yesterday. After signing an affidavit that I would not have to run any, that I was merely going to be a hired gun on the mountain bike leg, Megan entered us and it was on.

The format was a 5k run, 15k bike and 5k run. The bike portion was hilly but skipped some of the nasty climbs at Bays Mtn and I was looking forward to getting out there and playing some. Megan warmed up while I played on my bike.

And took time for some candid shots with my peeps.....

Soon it was time to get serious and race. Megan lined up with 40something other competitors and they were off. She would be out for about 30 minutes and then it was my turn to unleash the devastating power of the Pato.

She had a decent run considering she hasn't been running much lately (the Archer kids rarely overtrain...... :p) and she came in with a respectable (and injury free) time.

Now it was my turn to do what I do best. I took off and immediately caught  several riders that had the nerve to get out of the transition ahead of us. On the first climb I caught 7 more and over the next few miles, I caught more. Fifteen total. I was having a load of fun. Granted, many of the people I was passing weren't strong in cycling and could assuredly whip my butt if we were running. But we weren't running and that is the difference. I had some strong friends of mine out there with about a 9 minute head start and my goal was to catch them but it wasn't happening. I got off the mountain and back to the valley road and just cruised into the transition.

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.

El Pato Rides Again.......

Ok so I am a little behind in blogging about the life and times of the greatest female impersonator and legendary cycling icon - me. I am sure nobody has lost any sleep over it. I have been doing some bike racing believe it or not, in the form of the Mud, Sweat and Gears series final on Dec 4. 

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.
I got a decent start, 4th or so and really didn't feel that great. The course was really nasty in places and very slick. I ride great in stuff like that but I managed to get caught in a few mishaps when others around me had problems and I faded to 10th by midpoint of the race and that is where I stayed until the end. Soaked and cold, I went to the car to warm up and get my clothes for the next race... Uh..... about that.

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.

At the start, instead of falling over in a hypothermic state of shock, I got the holeshot and led the first lap. I went with it and tried to formulate a strategy but I knew I had a couple of really strong guys behind me. I had to push hard if I was going to stand a chance to win.

By now, the course was waaaay sloppy and I was happy to have the fat tires of my singlespeed and disc brakes.

I got passed by my friend and Pro 1/2 racer Mike Seek and we traded spots back and forth but he eventually got tired of playing with me and rode off. I wasn't cold anymore at least. As the race got into the final laps, I crashed on a sloppy off camber and slid on my stomach all the way off course. I laughed. Another buddy, Steve Stidham, got by me and paid me back for beating him in the Master's race earlier. On the final lap I made an effort to catch him back but my legs said no and I settled for 3rd place.

Brown is the new black. I'll be warm by Tuesday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Roast Duck. It's What's For Dinner.

Saturday was round 7 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross Series and a beautiful day graced the event held at Steele Creek Park in Bristol, Tn. I have been trying to do three races: Masters 45+, Singlespeed, and CX4 to pimpslap myself into fitness. Last week the classes were spaced with about an hour between each. This week to allow time for collegiate races, the Masters race was first and the SS/CX4 races were at the end of the day and back to back.

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

Climbing hurts but couches can kill........

Pain comes in three's

After last weeks triumphant return to racing for me, I knew I had a looong way to go to feel like I was in somewhat decent shape. From riding my bike all summer at pretty much a tempo pace, I have a good base but I lack high-end fitness that you need to do well in racing. Above all other forms of bike racing, in cyclocross there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

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 put the "Suc" in Success..

My return to racing came this weekend in round 5 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears cyclocross series in Johnson City. I was looking forward to returning and especially since this was Halloween and Spooky Cross! My 6 month no racing mandate had passed to allow my skull time to heal and although I have ridden a lot since the wreck, my race shape was expected to be lacking. Boy was I not disappointed.

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

Things that go bump in the night...

You know how those worse cas scenario questions play out? You get a nearly impossible situation and are supposed to figure out what you would do. What would you do if you were descending a mountain road on a road bike at say 40 mph and suddenly someone threw a bike in front of you?

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.

Day 1 - ICU......

Day 3

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...

Day 5.. Going home......

Lastly, I can't encourage all of you enough (and hopefully this is preaching to the choir), please wear a helmet. Make sure everyone you ride with wears a helmet, a properly adjusted helmet and for God's sake make sure your kids wear helmets when riding bikes, skateboards or anything else that can cause serious damage. Helmets save lives..

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Oh yeah... Mountain bikes... I ride those too.

I have spent so much time on the road recently that I almost forgot that I ride mountain bikes too. In fact I ride them quite well and have fun doing so. I loaded up my 2010 Vassago Optimus today along with the first Chupacabra in existence that the really cool people at Vassago sent me to build, ride and give my opinion on.
So here goes.

The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the Chupa was the beefy chainstay bridge and chainstays. The welds are all clean and rather industrial looking - I like that. It is definitely an aluminum bike, no questions about that. A couple of additional frame notes are it has a built in chain guide mount at the bottom bracket and replaceable horizontal drops. Not having been briefed on the target market for this bike, I am thinking it may be more for the all-mountain crowd. there seems to be decent clearance for biggish tires and a rather beefy headtube/downtube junction for a long travel fork (I have no specs on it so I don't know yet what Vassago recommends).

After building with a fairly high-end set of components: Thomson seatpost and stem, Easton Monkeylite bars, White Bros Rock Solid carbon fork, Formula Oro Puro Brakes, Middleburn crank, DT Swiss/Stans wheelset, Chris King headset and of course WTB tires and saddle and Ergon Grips, I loaded up and headed to the trails at Warriors Path State Park. II have ridden hundreds of miles there and knew it would be a good place to see what the Chupa would do. I also took my Optimus along to compare the two.

I hopped on the Chupa first and rode around the parking lot some to make sure I tightened everything (you never know) and then headed into the bush. The first thing I noticed was that this was definitely an aluminum frame. It felt solid, not that harsh but a different feel than my Optimus or the steel framed Jabberwocky, both of which I have plenty of saddle time on. The Chupa climbs like a monkey with it's tail on fire. The beefy chainstays allow all of your energy to go to the dirt where it belongs. I felt like every pedal stroke was moving me somewhere and the bike had a nice quiet (gosh I love singlespeeds) and solid feel.
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.

Rock gardens were no problem as were the many short and steep climbs at Warriors. The Chupa handled them equally well (unlike my legs that had 73 miles of mountains from the previous day and my gearing of 34X17 really caused me to grunt especially going up to the top of Ridgetop). The final trail at Warriors is Magic Carpet Ride. It goes down and has fast and twisty corners. The Chupa really shined here. It turns probably a little better than any of the other Vassagos I have ridden.

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.


Chupa vs Optimus

Chain guide mount and chainstay bridge - beefy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

If some pain is good, more is better....

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).

Cat 4 was first so I rode around downtown JC for about 40 minutes before the start to warm up. I lined up with somewhat decent expectations of finishing in the group. Sitting on the line I looked around and saw about 60 Cat 4's and got a little nervous. I hate crashing and I hate crashing more because somebody causes me to crash. With a field that big, a crash was almost assured. We started and I tried to go to the front but the pace was kind of slow and everyone bunched up there. Ther was bumping and pushing in the corners for the first few laps and I wasn't interested in doing what it would have took to stay up there and out of trouble. I drifted to the back of the pack and stayed there for the most of the race. A nasty headwind on the front stretch really slowed me down when I lost touch with the pack and with 9 laps to go, I got pulled.. Crap!

The Master's race was an hour away and I barely had enough time to re-pin my numbers and eat a Cliff bar. I lined up after taking a look at the revised course (a section was removed from the earlier races because of cars parked on the course). I really liked the new section. It had a few left turns and was narrow and technical and very spectator friendly. On the starting line, I noticed I was waaaay out of my league with quite a few Cat 1 and 2 racers there but I didn't care. To ride faster you have to ride with people faster than you. The start came and the first lap was brutal, about 30mph. I was worried that I wouldn't be around for 2 laps if that kept up but the pace slowed to about 25-26mph and I was able to hang on for a little while anyway.
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.

My goals for the race(s) were to A: have fun, B: not crash, C: finish in the top 20. I made good on A and B and even C in the Masters but missed it in Cat 4. I was 16th out of 20 in the Masters and 39th out of 54 in Cat 4. Not bad for not training any for a race like this...

Monday, April 19, 2010

If You Don't Break A Sweat, You Are Doing It Wrong...

I will begin this blog entry not with some lame excuse about where I have been for the last two months, nor will I whine and complain about having a hard time, fear over pork futures, uncontrollable diarrhea, erectile dysfunction and/or mental defect or reason of insanity.

Nope, none of that. I will get right down to business. Unless you are as unfortunate as my pal George in Vermont or my punk sister high in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, Spring has basically sprung and riding is once again good. I have changed up my typical spring this year. In years past, I would ride my ass into oblivion, throw in a few 6-12 hour death-on-a-stick training races and try to be somewhat fit for the summer and early fall primetime racing months. This year, I have no spring races scheduled and have been focusing on just riding my bike. I started riding my bike 20something years ago because it is fun (plus I was tubby) and I found myself getting away from the fun aspect and that is just wrong. I have been doing 2-5 hour endurance rides, mostly on the road with a mix of terrain but still somewhat climb heavy because I like pain.

I have enlisted the services of Varinka Williams, a friend, riding pal and she has become my psuedo-personal trainer. She is helping me straighten up my crappy eating habits and helping with my motivation. The goal: the 2013 Cyclocross Worlds in Louisville KY. Yep I am focusing the next two years of my racing "career" on going to the Cross Worlds in the best shape I can be in. I still will be doing some endurance off-road stuff, just not anywhere near as much as in years before.

Speaking of Kentucky, Varinka and I went to London last Saturday and did the Redbud Ride. 104 miles of rolling hills and pretty Kentuckyness via bicycle.

Look closely and you will see how hamburger is really made..

No blog post would be complete without a pic of me taking a pee..

Tricycle derby.... fun times..

I got layed by some lady at the church sag stop.... Uh, that didn't come out right.... oh well.

We were supposed to do 104 miles but that became 107.5 when we missed a turn (wasn't my fault I swear) and we rode around for a bit until it just didn't feel right and we turned around and found our way with the help of a few others that were lost too..

Fun with food...

Varinka "chicking" a dude on one of the few 20% grades we found in eastern KY..

It was a really fun event and just what I needed right now. I feel like I am right where I want to be right now. Many thanks to the organizers and volunteers that made the Redbud Ride cool and to Varinka for telling me about it and hanging out with my sorry butt through 107 miles of east KY wilderness..

Before I go, I want to show you my new bike. This one is a bit different than the ones I normally ride:
I got a sweet deal on this 2006 Honda 599 "Hornet" from my buddy Mark Prince. I have always wanted a street bike and just never got one.

As much as I love bicycles, this thing freaking rocks!

Don't mess with Scotland...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Redrum, Redrum, Redrum...

Poor Jack Torrance all holed up in the mountains in Colorado with a ginormous amount of snow, Olive Oyl on his case all day and his kid running apeshit wild over the place. It's no wonder he went nuts. One thing can be said about this winter in North America, all the Meteorologists, Almanacs, Wolly Worms, groundhogs, and old people with their gout acting up were right.

This winter has been a doozy.

It has been tough to be an athlete in this stuff too. I have been on my trainer more than I have been outside and now that my days are temporarily free due to being unemployed, I have a lot of time on my hands. This can be good and bad. I am used to being really busy and my mind doesn't do downtime very well. I have been planning how I am going to spend the rest of my life both on and off my bike and looking at options like school (hmm, wonder if I can get a mountain bike scholarship...hmm...)

Now that Cyclocross season is over (for me. There's a few races I could still hit but cash is an issue right now) and it continues to snow every few days, my riding is gone to base building mode and I have managed to get some good rides in depsite everything else. I have even been in the mountains some which is something I don't normally do in January.

Slick roadie tires and snowy mountain roads make for a haaaaairy combination!

I went with my buddy Bob Lamberson to Tsali a couple of weeks ago and we were blessed with a great day to ride:

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

Ready, Set, Slop

The 2009/10 Tennessee State Cyclocross Championship Race rolled, er, slid its way into Winged Deer Park this past Sunday amid what was touted as the "Storm of the Century". Overnight, rumours ran rampant about massive snowfall amounts, enough to lose Gary Coleman in. Bread and milk shortages, random senseless acts of senselessness and up to but not including total anarchy.

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

Racing Age - 44

I renewed my USAC license this week. I paid a fairly large sum of cash so I could pay more large sums of cash all through the year to travel all over the durty south and punish my body in various and sundry ways most of which involving a bicycle. One of the unique items on my USAC license is my "racing age". It isn't my current age or my DOB, it is listed as the age I will be on December 31, 2010. Obviously it is assuming I do not die in a firey plane crash or by being run over by a Buick full of blue-hair old ladies on their way to the Golden Corral any given Sunday after church.

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.