Sunday, October 23, 2011

MFG #4 Marymoor park

First things first, I raced today and... wait for it...I finished both races with the wheels I started with, Hellz Yeah! Turns out if you don't run the last 10 minutes of a race you'll place higher, weird.

Race #1 - 9:20AM Cat4 35+ 30 minutes:
I hate to start a race with a poor attitude but that's what I was bringing to the table today. No coffee, moderate hangover, flat course, 8th row start, all bad signs for me. Well, fuck it, I'm here and it's time to party!

The start went pretty smooth and once I got going I was picking riders off quickly. Nothing of note for most of the race other then it was slippery out there.With 1/2 a lap to go I was closing in on a couple riders who had been called up. Huh, maybe I'm closer to the front then I thought. With a couple hundred meters to go I got past Randy from Byrne, I nipped one other rider at the line in a full sprint. The final effort turned out to be worth it, I took 10th place out of 80 starters.

Race #2 - 10:30AM Cat4 40 minutes:
I was lucky enough to get a pretty good starting spot in the 3rd or 4th row for the 2nd race. For one reason or another (bad start position or mechanical issue) I have yet to be in contact with the leaders of any CX race this season. Surprisingly it happened in race #2 today. I was maybe 20 or so back going into the first corner, a lot of the usual suspects were up front. After a couple laps I had moved up to about 10th and caught onto the back of a group of 4 racers. A couple Farestart guys and Evan and strong Jr. rider were in the group. I lost contact after plowing into a stake after over cooking a corner, no harm done but now I was 10-15 seconds down again. I was back in contact near the finish of the 3rd lap when a Starbucks rider I was lapping ate shit right in front of me. FAIL, down I go, again nothing major but there went another 15 seconds or more.
Dude, really? This is how kool kids wear their helmets these days.
 I regained contact with Evan after a bit, he would sneak away in the corners and I would real him in on the power sections. Late in the 4th lap he took a spill and I moved past him. the 5th lap I was alone, no one close behind me and no carrot close enough to chase. My Teammate Chris made a big push on the final lap and moved up several spots, we ended up finishing 11th and 12th in a big field.

Great day over all! 10th and 11th in back to back races made for an awesome morning. I was able to hang out after the races and cheer on teammates for a few hours, great fun! The MFG point system doesn't seem as stupid as Seattle Cyclocross, maybe I'll get a call up next week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Seattle Cyclocross #3 Silver Lake

The Awesomeness continues!

Fucking Tubulars!

As you can see in the picture to the left I had another tubular issue this week. More about that later.
Silver Lake was a hard course, no two ways about it. Lots of sand and very little time to recover. It took a couple warm up laps before I got at all comfortable riding through the sand. It was hard for me to judge how fast to "hit" the sand sections. Gradually it dawned on me that the best approached was faster the better!

The Start - I asked the USA Cycling official if call ups were based on last weeks results or season standings. I didn't get the answer I was looking for, season standings it was. Even though I finished 8th the previous week I missed the 1st race of the season so I was ranked 29th, no call up for me. Call ups are critical in cyclocross because it allows faster riders to position themselves in the first few rows. Fitness levels in cross races vary so much that a mid pack start can trap you behind much slower riders. We had 87 riders in my field (Cat4 35+) I started in the middle of the field, maybe 40th or so. Within a 100 yards of the start line the course transitions from pavement to sand. I fully expected to get caught up behind a shit storm of riders going down in the sand. True to form some guys in the second row went down and by the time I even reached the sand I had to dismount and run around guys on the ground. I remounted and pushed through the beach section about 2/3rds of the way before again getting caught behind fallen riders. The remainder of the first lap was spent trying to pass riders that were already gassed. The second lap I tried running across the beach section. now I'm a "runner" but this was a mistake, it was hard as hell and not particularly fast. The 3rd lap I got into a pretty nice groove and slid by quite a few riders.
Starting the 4th lap I felt strong and powered through first sand sections. I had already passed my motofish "friend" from last week (who had the benefit of a call up) and was closing in on one of his teammates. I got passed him on a small uphill section but he stayed right on my wheel over the next minute or two. On the final mini climb I was determined to crush his soul and give myself a cushion leading into the finish. Well I was crushing, John Alving (a teammate who races 1/2's) was yelling at me, I was pooped but fired up. As the course transitioned from pavement to to dirt around a small turn I jumped out of the saddle and... FAIL. I knew it right away, I rolled my back tire off the rim. No need to get down about it, I tossed the bike over my shoulder and started running. Roughly 1/2 a mile to the finish. It stung to get passed by 15 riders or more that I had passed along the way but I'm proud of my 26th place finish.

Before my training class at HSP last night I was chatting up Thomas the master bike tech about CX gluing techniques. Four coats of glue was his recommendation. I have some gluing to do this week!

Article on Sunday's race -

Friday, October 14, 2011

Independence Valley road race - 3/26/11

"Catching up on old reports"

Ended up having a lot of fun today despite making a big mistake and having a little bad luck. I was on my own for today’s race, Travis’s wife had a ½ marathon and the only other CAT5 (Gabe) raced in the even group, I was in the odd. The IVRR course consists of two 20 mile loops with two pretty good climbs per lap.
My big mistake came early on. I figured the 1st climb would blow the pack apart and in all likelihood a half dozen stronger riders would pull away on it. I knew I had to be in the lead group at the top of the 1st hill. Since the 5’s have been split every week  the packs are so small that if a half dozen stronger rider’s get off the front there just isn’t enough horsepower or numbers in the peloton to run them down. I was way too far back starting the 1st climb, maybe 15th wheel. I incorrectly figured I would slip through the field and catch the guys up front. When I hit the gas I quickly hit (literally) the rider’s wheel in front of me who was already gassed after 10 seconds. Frustrated, I continued and managed to get through the field but the lead group of 7-8 was already up the road. By the top of the hill I was in no man’s land, a hundred yards behind the lead group but ahead of the rest of the field. I bombed the descent the best I could and chased on my own for a couple miles before it became obvious I wasn’t going to catch up solo. A group of 10 riders or so caught me and I did my best to get everyone to work together, I knew we would never catch the leaders (even though we were still only 30 seconds back). Aside from a few guys there wasn’t a lot of heart left in that group of ten. When we hit the second hill the group of ten became 3 by the time we reached the top. At the top is where my bit of bad luck came in. Flat tire! Boo, race over 13 miles in! Watching the rider’s stream past was rough as I sat on the side of the road. Much to my surprise CAT5’s had neutral wheel support today, I raised my hand, the car pulled over, I yelled back wheel, the friendly volunteer swapped my wheel, and boom I was riding again after 3-4 minutes.
I flew down the second hill and time trialed my way up to a father son duo riding for bikesale. We worked together (for the most part) until we started picking up other riders. At the end of the first lap we had about 10 riders in total. The pace was slow, I quickly took a flyer off the front hoping a couple guys would join but no luck. I dangled for a mile before they caught me again. The next climb arrived shortly after, I hammered the lower section pretty good and got a solid gap on the other riders. About 2/3rds of the way up the hill I said to myself, self, what the fuck are you doing? There is no chance of you running anyone down solo so why hammer this hill. I laid off a bit and crested the hill with maybe a 20 second gap. I zipped down the other side and was on my own for a couple miles before meeting up with a teammate, John C. We worked together for a bit before 5-6 guys caught us, from there our group of 7 worked together well. About a mile before the final hill our group of 7 was down to 4, the other 3 guys were all pretty strong and nice guys. At the base of the last climb we spotted a couple riders near the top from our race. The 4 of us decided to keep it together on the climb and work together after the descent. The 4 of us were really working well together, despite this we were caught by a couple CAT5 even Audi guys and a Second Ascent rider. The three riders slipped past us but after a couple good group pulls we picked them up. Our new group of 7 lasted to the finish. We did managed to catch the couple riders from our pack in the last 1K.
Finish: Not much of a sprint, one of our 4 guys busted his cleat near the end so it was just 5 of us plus the 3 guys from the evens. I hit the gas hard at 200M, I got some room on a few of the guys but one of the riders who had been working with us for miles came around me with a few meters to go for 10th place.

IVRR 2011 finish
All things considered I really enjoyed my race today. Despite missing the lead group on the 1st climb and flatting on the second climb I raced hard and managed 11th place out of 30ish. Tomorrow I’m taking the upgrade class so this was my final CAT5 race!
Garmin Data:
Next week I’m headed to Spokane for the Frozen Flatlands stage race and hopefully a little redemption in a new category!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cougar Mt Madness

Tonight’s commute home had a little added flavor! Char agreed to meet up at the Factoria Sbux for a little evening hill climbing. Char is new to the team so he was wearing his old teams kit, I think this was primary contributor to his cramping. After Montreux Char had to call it a night, I was on my own to finish off Zoo Hill and Lakemont. On the upper section of Cougar near the towers I had mountaineering memories flooding back. Every breath lit up by my headlamp, grinding uphill in silence, vision restricted to what my light illuminates.

Hopefully as the weather gets worse more (any) teammates come over and join the Thursday night PARTY!

Char cramping up on Montreux

Monday, October 10, 2011

My front wheel – a CX love story…

While this will be a brief SCX #2 race report I’d be remiss to not kick it off without a call out to my front wheel/tire. Just like dating hot women there are pros and cons to riding tubulars. In the first couple months of the road season I flatted 6 times racing on tubulars that has to be a record, and a serious con! I hung in there though, sleek, lightweight, ride like a dream, all pros! For Cross season I picked up a pair of older Zipp 404 tubulars, the promise of lightweight, no pinch flats, and low tire pressure turned me on. Let’s quickly flash back to Labor day. Half way into my fist warmup lap I started a sharp left hand turn that I didn’t finish. Halfway through I was rudely introduced to the ground, WTF I thought? Ah, rolled my front tire off the rim, sweet. After racing back to my car and jacking up the air pressure I started the race, I made it 1.5 laps before I again kissed the grass, rolled tubie – con! Flash forward to MFG#3 in North Bend. My tire and wheel have a new layer of glue holding them together. I made it through my warm up A-OK, I even made it .5 laps in the race before now for a third time in two races I was on the ground, I knew exactly why this time. I finished off that race (Cat4 35+) and the following Cat4 race on a pit clincher. The clincher got me to the finish line (pro) but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel yet on my tubulars. The amount of glue I used to secure my front tire this week left no doubt in my mind that it would hold. I have nothing funny to say, I really did use damn near a tube of glue.
SCX # 2 Steilacoom:

Cat4 35+
Chris and I were the only 9:15am Apex racers this week.  Chris raced the open Cat4 and I did the Cat4 35+. Chris is super fit but new to CX racing this year, I am less fit and also a newbie this year. This course was much more interesting then Mountain Meadows the week before. There were 2 short climbs that separated out fitness levels quickly. The top 24 riders from the previous SCX race were “called up” to the front. This is a big advantage in a Cross race because it can often be challenging to pass on the course. Rows were 8 across and several riders were absent, I was able to get a good spot in the 3rd row. I had an OK start probably hitting the turn onto the grass in 25th place or so.
Before the top of the first climb I had already started catching some of the slower Cat4′s, from here on it was hard to tell the “old guys” from the “kids”. I guess it didn’t really matter though, I tried to pass everyone in sight. As I would have guessed on the uphill sections I passed riders easily, more of a surprise however was the fact that I didn’t lose much ground on the technical sections and downhills. I felt much more confident then even the week before. On the 2nd climb of the second lap I was pinned behind a pack of riders 3 across, I managed to hop up onto the field above the “road” and pick off 4-5 riders. As I came by the Start/Finish line I heard the bell ringing, one lap to go. Damn, we were told 4-5 laps, longer the better for me. I went deep up the first hill catching a couple more guys in my field, on the 2nd climb things got spicy. I had 2 Motofish riders in my sights, I knew one of them had been finishing well in previous races and if I didn’t get him on the climb I wouldn’t get him at all. I channeled my inner GOAT and dropped the hammer, it hurt but I wanted these guys. As I approached I yelled “on your left” so naturally dude goes left to cut me off. Without missing a beat I went right, he didn’t like this and leaned into me pretty good, hmm, OK dude whatever. Once wasn’t enough for this fella though, he comes back into me again? I had already nosed ahead of him and he hooked his bars somewhere on my bike and down he went. This pumped me up even more and I made sure I went past his buddy hard as we crested the climb. There is a fair amount of contact in cyclocross but this guy was not playing fair. Anyway, I finished off the lap and the race without further incident.
My goal coming into the race was top 10, I finished 8th. For my second CX race I am really pleased with the result. I should get a call up next week, this will help with early positioning.
My front tire stayed on the whole race! Major pro! I ran 35psi and had very little slippage. I was SO excited that I left my damn wheel at the race! It was on the side of my car when I was getting changed, totally forgot about it until I got home to clean it off. Love story over? Nah, this is a happy PG rated report. I quickly called Cemanski who was racing later in the day. After some work on his part my wheel was found slumming it in some other teams pit. She will be coming home to me Tuesday night.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

MFG #3 - SCCA/Starbucks GP - North Bend 10/2/2011


I am a million posts behind but I'm going to try to keep up on Cross updates.

My total CX experience consists of racing Lake Sammamish in 2010 and 1 lap of the Labor day season opener this year. I only made it 1.5 laps due to rolling my front tubular tire off the wheel. My fitness is pretty solid right now but I have zero off road skills, game on!

The plan was to race Cat4 35+ @ 9:30am and the open Cat4 @ 10:20am, back to back baby! I drove out to North Bend and arrived in plenty of time to register and take a couple warmup laps before the first race. I have been adding more running into my workouts lately, this and a hard-ish team ride the day before left my legs feeling just OK. At the start I was nervous but ready to go. I was starting from the 3rd row and had some work to do to improve my position. I started off OK, probably 30th back or so in a field of 90 going into the first turn. After a short uphill section on gravel there's a sharp right hander, as I hit the apex of the corner I found myself on the ground, dammit! Rolled my front tire off again.  I picked myself up and hurried back to find the neutral wheel tent. Thanks FSA for being out there supporting these races! The rest of the race was uneventful, I picked people off and built a little confidence on the course.

I had just a few minutes between races to race back to my car, adjust my brakes, swap my race numbers, get in a gel and water, and finally shoot back over to the start. I arrived at the start line 2 minutes before we started. My start wasn't fantastic, I got pushed out to the right down the opening stretch and again was 40 or so riders back entering the first turn. Over the next couple laps as riders tired I made pass after pass on the straightaways. Once I moved up to about 20th it was apparent that the guys in  front of me were generally far superior technically. Over the last couple laps I passed a few riders but for the most part I would pull riders in on the flats and get dropped in the turns and technical sections. I was at the tail of a chase group of 6-7 riders starting the last lap. Try as I might I just didn't have the legs to get past this group. I took a small amount of pride in piping a guy at the finish but was disappointed I couldn't have picked off a few more riders. Overall I finished 16th out of a field of 90. Hard to get real excited about 16th but for my 2nd CX race ever and 1st this year I'll take it!