Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Race Report - Capital `Cross Classic - Race #8 of the 2011 BikeReg.com MABRAcross Super 8 Series - SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP

I had initially thought about heading to Taneytown for last weekend's races but due to Thanksgiving and my work schedule, it just didn't make sense to drive up for the races.  So that meant two things. My freshness was good, but I really had not been on the cross bike for two weeks.  Then there is Capital 'Cross Classic.  Two years ago the race greeted me with sub 40 degree weather and 4 inches of snow.  This year we were not going to be as fortunate, another crisp morning in Reston, which guaranteed the course would be fast.
A brief recap of the journey thus far...  I was sitting fourth in the 45+ 3/4 overall series, with Eric Sloman seven points ahead of me and Steve Klose thirty-six behind, not that the 45+ means anything, but hell if they are going to track it, I might as well act like it matters. Crossresults predictor gave me a solid 61st.  This season that forecasting model has been off by about 20 to 30, so I have been finishing in somewhere between 5th and 10th of the 45+.  I have started in the back quarter of the field in every race and accumulated over 200 kills to date.
Back to Sunday....Giving myself plenty of time for breakfast and coffee, I rolled into Lake Fairfax Park in Reston.  As I alluded to earlier, today was a much different day since the last time I raced here.  The morning was a little crisp but the sky was clear and the fog was lifting.  The early Christmas gift of six inches of snow I had prayed for did not come true, not even a little rain. Guess I am on Santa’s naughty list.....
I had left all hope of a decent starting point back home in a notebook entitled "2011 Cross Lessons Learned"...that early season points will get me a good spot next year.  So I signed in and got my back side of the pack number, 360.  After a quick pinning of the number I once again forwent the warm-up lap, figuring the excellent video from cxhairs.com would suffice.   I did walk over to the illustrious "Chute" to see what all of the humbug was about.  My timing was impeccable; the CAT4 race had just begun.  I stood there and watched as they road down with ease, so I was not too concerned about my race.
I made it back to the truck, hopped on the trainer.   Yes, imagine that, I do at least some type of warm-up.  After wearing far too many articles of clothing at Ed Sander, I decided to go sans arm and leg warmers.  Good decision on my part.  Made my way down to the start finish and began to stage.  I ran into most of my nemeses and victims and was reminded that my jersey not only had my number but also a bull-eye on the back.
The race started and we were off.  The first part of the course was fairly easy to negotiate, after three months of racing, the skill level of the pack had greatly increased. Very few were getting tied up in the tape and most handled the curves.  Up and over the barriers, I had Dave Tambeaux in sight and Knight Elsberry right behind me.  The front of the field was already gone; I figured the normal Jon Hicks crew was leading the way.  We crossed back to the south side of the course over the bridge and to the run up.  The only odd part of the race so far, is that Dave, Knight and I had passed four of five riders that seem to have already sat up.  Odd, why were they not racing?  Why such a passive stance?  Up and over the hill, paced by a violinist, the next obstacle was going to be "The Chute" followed by a pretty decent mud section.  No problem, we jetted down the chute, hit the mud and powered on.  The only place that I had an issue was on the far side of the race, there was a pretty significant climb, and the first two times were simple but the third a little more challenging.
The third lap, which I was hoping was the penultimate, actually became the middle lap.  When we started, I was hoping for four laps but the race was going to be five.  We came to "my" problem area again and while climbing, I lost contact and put a foot down, giving Knight no room.  Sorry, wasn't on purpose.  We both dismounted, he took the lead and it was the last time I saw him.  I think he actually climbed another 10 spots after passing me.

The fifth lap approached, I was feeling okay, but not great after redlining for the last 4 laps.  All went well up till the problem spot; I just dismounted and ran up it giving a Kelly Benefits rider a little advantage.  So it came down to a sprint for 39th and 40th.  I had enough left to get a jump and hold onto 39th.

Like I said earlier, Knight clawed another 10 positions up for 29th. Gary Moon rocked it to 20th, his kill points has to have climbed to close to 400.  Jon Hicks and crew got top honors, giving them the podium and automatic upgrades to CAT 2.  I may have maintained enough points to be tied for third in the overall 45+ series.  The rest of the results can be found at http://thebikelaneteam.wordpress.com/.  It was great to see Doug Owens, Thom Moore, and Adam Austin; all of whom I have battled all year round.  Cross season has come to an end for me.  I have lots of lessons learned and a plan for next year. I am taking a full week off and then transitioning to road.  Jefferson Cup is about 198 training hours away.


Kudos to Bruce Buckley and the Bikelane crew who setup this course.  Each week the MABRA Series 8 has stepped it up and Capital Cross was no exception.  Great job guys, excellent race.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Race Report - Rockburn Cross - Race #7 in the 2011 BikeReg.com MABRAcross Super 8 Series

At the end of last week, I decided that I would take a little different approach to this weekend.  My goal was to get in the top 25 of the field to gain one precious point to possibly get ONE decent start position before the end of the MABRAcross Super 8 Series.  I also planned a little different race strategy. I would get there early, warm-up and pre-ride the course.  I know those things sound crazy and all, but I am looking for some trick to pull out of my hat.  For the actual race, I planned on gutting myself on the first lap to try and get gain many spots during the prologue and then see how long I could stay in the top 25.

The drive to Rockburn was only slightly different from all of the other northern bound Maryland races.  The difference was simply putting in a different address into the Garmin and following the route.  I arrived around 8 giving me approximately 30 minutes to unpack and get on the bike.  Not so fast, it looked as if I would spend the first thirty minutes, unpacking and visiting the ever so nice port-o-johns.  So I missed the pre-ride before the CAT 4 race, no worries, I would have a few minutes between the Men's and Women's races.  I spent the next 45 minutes getting everything together and waiting for the first race to end.

The pre-ride was good.  As I rode the course, I was looking for roots, bumps and other obstacles that would assist in my decision regarding tire pressure.  I was starting with 32 psi and debating on whether to go up or down.  This course was well laid out, long paved start uphill, followed by a few serpentine turns, then over to a sand pit.  The pit was completely ridable, if you and seventy of your closest friends were not sprinting into it like a herd of cats bolting for the litter boxes after devouring a can of bad tuna.   And that is precisely where I expected to be on the first lap.  After the pit, the course weaved back and forth, dove into the woods for some single tract action, then back in front of the crowd for the standard barriers.  After that, back to some single track, followed by a run-up peppered with four angle stairs.  During the pre-ride, I was able to ride the stairs, but the risk-to-reward was too great. I would run these during the race.  After that, the course continued through the woods and eventually back to the road.  I knew from the pre-ride this one was gonna be fast.

After pre-riding I went over to registration and collected my number.  Crap, 676, again.  Not all the way in the back but with 112 of us, it was far enough that my kill opportunities would be quite high.  I went back to the truck, setup the trainer and began to warm-up.  Grabbed a little Cytomax, some tunes and began to spin.  Then came race time.  I was giving myself about 15 minutes to get over to the start-line but this was interrupted by yet another stop at the port-o-pot, the stomach was not feeling well.  Race weight:  achieved!  Stomach cramps: achieved! Feeling best for the race: failed!

Regardless, I made it to the start-line and found my spot, off the grid, and 11 rows back.  I looked toward the front to see if I could find any of the regulars, spotting Thom Moore, Doug Owens, Jon Hicks, and a few more.  A few seconds later, Adam Austin rolled up, but not on his bike.  He had broken his hanger during the warm-up, grabbed Larry Sterrett's bike, raised the seat and posted right in front of me.  Well my first Rapha Challenge was sitting in front of me on a bike two sizes two small.  This provided an opportunity and an issue.  With Adam on someone else's bike I knew I would smoke him fairly quick, but with 75 guys in front, it might be hard to get around him during the prologue.  Then my worst nightmare, appeared. In the spot in front of Adam,  a guy hopped in with a mountain bike and CAT 5 tattoos on his right calf.  Objective 1 for the race was now shot.

Quick side note:  While we were lining up, one of the racers, Gunnar, said, "Hey, aren't you Chuck Kyle?".  Shocked, I simply replied, "Yes".  He told me he reads the blog, enjoys it since it gives him a goal.  I initially thought this was pretty cool, glad someone is reading it.  Then several other guys who start in the back and fight their way forward told me the same thing.  I don't want to speak for Gunnar, as he did not tell me his actual race goal, but some of the others did.  Their goal?  Catch me.  Yes, I am a marked man in the middle of the pack.  Now that is pretty cool since we can't get all the way to the front and chase the leader.  Instead, the gantlet has been dropped and we have a race for the leader of the (middle of the) pack.  If you are one of these guys and racing Capital Cross, hit me up with a cross results Rapha Challenge, chuckkyle@me.com.

Back to the race....

The race started and Adam got a pretty good jump, but we were all bound up.  I got around him only to have to slow pedal behind the mountain biker.  After what seemed like an eternity, I finally (and safely) maneuvered around him and hit it as hard as I could.  When we hit the grass my prized position of 25th was still 30 in front of me, I gained no ground.  The race was fast, we went back and forth through the turns and eventually made it to the sand-pit.  It was chaos.  Some mistakenly tried to ride, others were in the  tape, a few just were flopping around the sand making snow angels.  Post race discussions revealed that the  top 15 or so had the choice of run or ride and went through it seamlessly.  Not my pack.  Out of the pit I was sitting 48th.  I was in the top 50 but still a long way from 25th.  The next two laps were pretty normal, hard racing.  Plenty of places to pass, but most everyone was running hard, so even though there was room, the pace made it fairly prohibitive.  Only if someone screwed up was there time to get around them.  I had worked my way to 39th and was continuing to climb.

On the penultimate lap, I was following a rider up one of the embankments when all of a sudden his forward motion decreased and reverse kicked in.  I was unable to go anywhere and we got tied up together.  I grabbed my bike out of the pretzel of carbon bikes, ran around him and started to remount on the descent. Catastropic failure for when I went into the back of his bike, it had knocked my wheel crooked and pinned against the brakes.  Downhill plus locked front wheel equals Chuck over the handlebars and sliding chest first down the hill.  I recovered, grabbed the bike, but had to open the brakes and unscrew the skewer.  I have no idea how much time I spent jacking with the bike, seemed like days, but I am sure it was only 10 or 15 seconds but at least ten riders went by.  Once back together, I was off.  I did a quick check and realized that I was stuck in the small chainring, no shifting available.  So it looked as if the best I would have is the 38.

Once I was back on the road, I saw Bill Schieken, off the side of the road with his bike.  Though Bill will say it was a mechanical, I think he was just waiting for me.  Bill normally gets in the top 7 or so, but I am sure he just wanted the change to bet me twice in one race, and that he did, wasn't long, Bill was behind me giving me a little heckling encouragement, rolled up beside of me smiled, and then was off like a bullet.  Damn, how does he get so fast?  Back to my peer group I went.

The last lap a few of us went back and forth, I saw Dave Tambeaux ahead of me.  Dave and I have gone back and forth in the results over the last few week.  Gary Moon had got a jump on me after my last flop on the ground and Chas Ryan was hot on my heels.  We entered final sprint, Gary was just out of reach and I beat off Chas by just a few seconds, another hundred feet and I would have been toast.

Not a great race for me today.  I ended up 45th overall.  Still beat my cross results predictor but by only 5 and that sucks.  I ended up 8th in the 45+, that means only 28 points to the overall series.  Unfortunately, cross results is no longer showing the points for the Masters 3/4/ 45+, so I am not sure if I am going to maintain 4th.  I figure that I am may drop a position.  A quick stop by Freshbikes and Greg was able to get the shifters back in place, fix the front derailleur and clean out a neglected bottom bracket.  The bike is ready for next week, now I simply have to do the same for me.

Next race?  2011 MABRA Championship, Thanksgiving weekend.   Crossresults Predictor?  30th out of 60.  Hey I might get a good start position.  Hopefully the leaders will be full of turkey.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Race Report - Schooley Mill Cross - Race #6 in the 2011 BikeReg.com MABRAcross Super 8 Series

The days between getting to race cross seem to be getting longer.  I initially thought to blame the change to daylight savings time but the reality is I just love this damn sport.  So each day I worked on something that would make me more competitive, whether it was a decision on a Hersey kiss or grapes, sleep, training stress scores, or simply a little extra time on the bike.  I am actually having some success with weight loss and was thrilled to step on the scale each day of this week to see a gradual and slow decrease.  By Sunday morning I was around 204 lbs, not much weight loss for many, but for me it was climbing Mt Everest, okay maybe a little exaggeration but still.

I was able to get a few CompuTrainer sessions in this week, two great days of riding outside, so I met my week's training goals.  Dropped a few pounds and was all set, till Saturday.  Some days it is harder for me to get to the race then it is to race.  I am not talking about family or work issues but simply the mental state, it just becomes a battle.  So Saturday, I just putz around the house, trying not to think about Sunday.  By the end of the day, I found myself looking at crossresults to see where the race predictor had me for Schooled Mill, 65 out of 110. 

Sunday I packed up the 4Runner, made my traditional stop at Starbucks, and headed up the road.  I have noticed a trend, it is generally 10 to 15 degrees cooler in upper Maryland then my cal de sac in Northern Virginia, but with sufficient gear in the truck, no worries.  Once arriving at Schooley Mill Park, I found myself having to park somewhere in the next county over, this played a little in my decision on whether or not to put a bike in the pits, but fortunately played little in the overall day.

Back of the pack
I grabbed my Morning Joe and did the trek over to the registration area.  What a great location, the facilities were fantastic.  My next bit of anxiety was waiting to see how my double-click action had worked registering for the race, then I got my race number, 474.  Crap, all the way in the back, AGAIN.  I am going to have to figure out, for next season, how to get in the front.  Having to work through this many riders is killing me. 

I did my traditional unenthusiastic warm-up and opted not to pre-ride the course.  This had more to do with timing then anything.  So I mounted my pit bike on the trainer and began to warm-up.  Unfortunately, my race was to begin in less then 45 minutes, so warming up, simply meant spinning the legs around a little.  Hmmm... I wonder how this truly affects my race? Possibly a little test?  Get to Rockburn early, pre-ride the course and do a proper warm-up.  I preach this to the racers that I coach, so I should probably practice what I preach.  Next weekend!?!?

I got to the start line on time and found my place four rows from the back.  All of the normal victims and nemeses were there, most of them in the 430s so I knew I had some work ahead of me.  Though for the Masters 45+ 3/4 the overall series is for nothing more then bragging rights and blogging, I still wanted to maintain my 5th overall.  This meant that I had to get in the top five of the 45+.

My next bit of anxiety was the start.  Am I concerned about my ability?  Nope, but the last couple of races, there has been a few pile-ups and this was a fairly long stretch of pavement.  My only desire is that we all make it to the hole shot area.  This start, well at least toward the back, was fast but almost neutral, where you started is where you hit the hole shot.  Good enough for me.

One Giant Leap over the Steeple Chase
captured by joemallis.com
The course was pretty flat and technical.  In the past, the flat part has been positive and the technical, well challenging for me.  But as the season has progressed my skills have as well.  Now the technical areas are ones in which I can gain some ground.  One area in particular was a fairly sizable steeplechase that alot of people were dreading.  But being 6'2" has it advantages, another place to pass the 73 guys in front of me.  I hit this one with about 20 of my closest friends and gained a few spots.  Over the next five minutes we went back and forth through some switch backs and continued to the next set of barricades.  These were your traditional 18 inch high MABRA planks, immediately following a sharp left turn. 
The crowd was gathered around as In the Cross Hairs, Bill, gave the blow by blow.  At this time I figured that I was in the top fifty, still driving as hard as I could, none of my nemeses were in sight, not yet at least. 

The next couple of laps were about the same, catching more than I was being caught.  I did get tied up in the tape during one particularly bad remount after the stairs run up.  I stood there trying to get myself out of the tape and watched four guys go screaming by.  I was able to catch on and finally get by each one.  The cost was high, I really did not have the extra energy to waste on a chase.  I kept thinking about the scene in 9 Ball Diaries when TJ tapped into a little extra adrenaline to chase back on, that I did not have, and that is why I am still a 3.  By then, I had worked myself into the 420s and when I went by the crowd was told I was sitting 30th.  Great!!  Now can I get into the 20s with one lap to go.  I settled in behind one of the Virginia Wheelmen, which I should not have down.  Not that I could have caught the next group in front but I really didn't even try.  Last lap and I slacked off, shame on me. 

Then 501 came flying by, Sam Mercer, I figured he had passed at least 60 so far, so I tried to get the VM guy to hop on, but I think he was like me redlining it and doing everything he can to keep it together.  Sam rode off and passed the two in front of us.  Back to 32nd I figured, then the Potomac Velo rider and another got tied up together and went down, VM passed and I followed, great we are now 29th and 30th.  Once out on the road to the finish, I was able to get a decent sprint on passing VM and gaining on Sam, but he was just too far in front, 26th, 27th and 28th came across just 4 seconds in front of me.  Should've Would've Could've, if I had just hammered a little harder on the last lap, that could have been the sprint.

Overall I was very pleased.  I ended up 29th in the race and 3rd in the 45+.  My overall standings for the series, I moved from 5th to 4th.  I bet my cross results predictor by 30, added another 45 to my kills, and caught my nemeses and Rapha Clash Challenges.   Rockburn looks as if I am suppose to be 61st.  I am hoping for a little better start position, better warm-up and keepin' my eye on the prize.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Race Report - Ed Sander Memorial Cyclocross - Race #5 of the 2011 BikeReg.com MABRAcross Super 8 Series

Preparation for the Ed Sander Memorial Cross race began early in the week, though I should say for the 2012 season.  Yes it is November; I am already beginning to look at next season; mainly because of a few goals that I have discussed in previous blogs that would be achieving my optimum race weight for next year.  So over the last seven days, I have logged every morsel of food that I have ingested, used Matt’s Fitzgerald’s formula for my goal weight (or % body fat), and spent a morning in a bod pod to get a good baseline.  Interesting enough, just logging my meals cut a pound or two, I guess it is easy to eat a cheeseburger but hard to write down that you did.

I had initially planned to race at Patapsco on Saturday so I went ahead and made my donation via bikereg around Wednesday.  By Friday night I was pondering my decision and by Saturday morning, determined that I wanted to wait and be fresh for the Lilypons.  I was able to get a few outdoor rides in, nailed the CompuTrainer a couple of times, and like always, checked out my race predictor on crossresults, this week, looking like 61st.

Sunday morning, with an extra hour sleep because of daylight savings, I loaded up and headed to the Lilypon Water Gardens.  I had been sent a preview of the race from my buddy and clash challenger Doug Owens and it sounded as if this year the course was completely different.  The sun had begun to bake off the morning dew and harden up the ground.  I went back and forth on whether or not embrocation was necessary and if I should wear arm-warmers.  I decided this decision could be made closer to race time.  So, I had plenty of time to warm-up and pre-ride a bit of the course, seemed fairly technical, but had some pretty open areas that could be used for passing and gaining ground. 

I ventured over to the registration tent to see how my double-click action had done for start position.  Sh!!!t, once again, at least eight rows back, starting in 76th place.  Well to meet crossresult predictor, I need to make up 15 positions, but this would not help me with the overall series.  I knew to climb that ladder I needed to be close to 30th.  As of Sunday morning, I was sitting 9th overall with Dave Tambeaux only a few points behind.  I looked around for my clash challenges, Adam and Doug.  Both of them had faired fairly well in the double-click race and were around 30th.  Oh, my second goal, catch’em.

Sitting in and following JB
The race started, then the back half of the race started, well that is what happens when starting 76th of 98.  There was no prologue to this race but a fairly long uphill paved road.  It appeared that in this race we all stayed up right on the road, so no carbon clashing.  The first half dozen turns were bottle-necking but I was able to squeeze a few places here and there.  Then there was a long straight stretch that dove down, a drop in to a mud area.  Jason Berry came flying around on the inside and threw his leg over bike and prepared to dismount, this amongst the dozens attempting to ride the drop in.  Great idea JB, I am following. 

There were several guys tied up with each other, an one of my nemeses, Thom Moore, fell victim to a pile up, nothing he could do.  JB took off and I stayed behind him.  Over the next lap, I was doing everything I could to stay with him, in the past he finishes in the top 25.  After exiting the lilypons area and heading to the back half acre there was a small gravel section, I was only 20 feet behind JB when his bike lost traction and he went down, before I was upon him, he was up and gone, so I followed suit and went down too.  Both of us hit the same gravel area.  But I recovered fairly quickly and was back racing.  Over the next forty minutes I continued to chase and catch the riders in front, occasionally giving up a position but passing more than being passed.  By the last lap, I was cooked.  The decision to wear a long sleeve base layer was ill advised, I should had gone with just the jersey.  I even contemplated stopping and removing the base layer, but soldiered on.  At one point I heard someone in the crowd shout that I was in 27th position.  But on the last lap, two more went by.  Here is where situational awareness failed, both were 45+ riders, they were in 3rd and 4th place (for 45+).  I could see a group of five trying to bridge up, so I just turned myself inside out and pushed through the last lap.

By the end I had added another 44 to my kills, I moved from 76th to 32nd which was 5th in the 45+.  Good day.  I gained more points on the series moving from 9th to 5th.  With three races to go I am 23 points out forth, maybe a hard road to climb and I still have Dave Tambeaux breathing down my neck, with 6th to 10th place only 10 points apart, anyone’s game.   Doug once again fell to mechanical issues; somehow he ripped off his rear derailleur.  I didn’t see Thom again, figured the pile up cost him a bunch of time.  Saw Adam on the first lap, he was looking good going through the mud, but with the help of JB, I got far enough away that he didn’t catch up.  So I am up 3-0 on my Rapha Cross Clashes, sitting 5th overall in series, and finishing higher each week.  The only thing that I hated doing for the day was writing down two beers and two waffles at 180 calories each.  Hmmm were those whole wheat or not?  Okay, another 360 calories and that should work, but they were sooo worth it.   On training peaks where it makes you select which meal, I just put 'special'.  If I can continue to drop weight and ride, I am hoping to ride this trend for the rest of the season, that would be the riding not the beer and waffles.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Kinder Kross Cyclocross Race - Race #3 in the Sportif Cross Cup Series

What would you like from a blog?  That is the question that I have pondered as I sit in front of the keyboard thinking of what to say.  A little advice that I was offered from a friend suggested that I give a little more course description, since not everyone races the races that I do, and to provide a little more insight to what is going through my mind during the race.  Most of the guys that race with me wonder if I am thinking about chasing butterflies through a field, while others wonder if, like them, I can’t think of anything due to the sound of my pounding heart, beating at over 190 bpm as a move along.  So if you have and thoughts, either place them in the comments or email me at chuckkyle@me.com.  So here it goes.

Saturday morning I woke up looking out to see snow flurries in October in Virginia… what the hell is going on?  After a couple of CompuTrainer sessions in my garage, affectionately called the Bike Torture Chamber, BTC for short, I spent a few minutes seeing what was going on in MABRAland courtesy of gamjams.net.  After a few hours making sure that I had the appropriate tire setup and prepared for the race,  I looked out, it was still snowing, but the decision was made; neither cold, nor the rain, rollers be damned, for me it was 'Occupy Kinder Kross'.

My race was at Kinder Farm Park, up in Severna Park, Maryland.  The weather had cleared as far as rain but the temperature was still sitting around 39 degrees.  The course appeared fairly dry except in a few areas and flat.  The technical aspect was more of the serpentine turns and curves then steep hills and turns like DCCX.  I forgo the traditional course preride due to the flatness of the course and the concern of getting completely soaked and waiting for my race.  Also, based on my past finishes I knew I would not be off of the front, so discovery learning could be accomplished by simply watching the guys in front of me.

I was fortunate enough to have a descent starting position, about the forth row and the preregistered field as around 72.  I am not sure how many racers showed up but I would estimate it was around the mid-sixties.  I looked around for both my cross results nemeses and cross clash challengers.  I spotted Thom, Adam and Doug, so I knew I had a challenge for the day.  Interesting enough, Doug pulled up on a 29er.  Typically I would have seen this as an instant advantage for me, but earlier the winner of the CAT 4 was on a 29er.  One note, that guy was also wearing a dress for the day, I am assuming it was a Halloween outfit.

We got lined up and ready to race.  After the gun there was a little calamity behind me but the front got off pretty good.  I was sitting in the top thirty for the hole shot.  Once on the grass we had a few S-turns that dove in and out of one of the three muddy sections of the course.  Completely ridable when alone but much more challenging with you and fifty of your closest friends are attempting to nail ot.   A guy went down in front which caused us to dismount and shoulder the bikes.  This was the first and last time I saw Jon Hicks who would later win the race.

After this section of the race I began moving through the crowd, passing some and being passed.  I settled in behind Dave Tambeaux and kept Thom Moore in my sights.  No matter how hard I would go, Thom would keep the exact distance between us, there was nothing I could do to close the gap.  Back to following Dave.  Dave was taking great line and seems to be gaining on the riders in front of him so at this point it seemed better to stay on his wheel, which was pretty tough.  We came to the second mud area and he went though clean.  I went high and found myself in a rutted area causing a little problem and creating a gap.  On hindsight, the gap is probably the best thing that happened to me for the day.  As we came up to the virtual lake, basically a 12 foot by 6 foot, six inch deep water /mud puddle, Dave too the center line, once in the middle, his front wheel just dug in and he flipped over the handlebars creating an addition crater in the mud.  Instantly he was digging to get up and back on the bike, this forced me to the left, which is what I figured would be the worst line, but was one that I was able to ride each time without issue so discovery learning at its best.  Thom was still ahead of me so that was my next racer to chase. 

The next four laps went pretty uneventful.  I will say that on lap two I was ready to bag the race.  My heart felt like it was going to break through my ribcage.  I was praying for a rolled tubular or something, but Thom was still up there nailing each of the turns so I continued to chase.

On the penultimate lap I began to gain a few seconds on Thom, I am not sure if he was slowing or I was getting a little faster.  We came off of the asphalt and into the hole shot twisting curves, Thom went cleanly though all of the turns and on the very last little climb his front wheel lost traction and he went down.  I made it by him and then went as hard as I could.  I settled in and looked back but could not find him.  During this time one other rider grabbed my wheel and was pursuing closely.  I didn’t recognize the dark blue kit but I think the race number was 469.  I could be absolutely wrong, but … As we approached one of the “right turn out and around a tree section”, the rider in front took out the tape.  It left a pretty good gap and if you lacked integrity, a perfect opportunity to just turn left.  I went right and the rider behind me went left.  Complete crap!!!  Over the next half a lap I tried to chase but it gave him a solid thirty second advantage, I could only hope Karma would met him in the mud pits, but today, he took a chance and it paid off.  (Note:  this does not mean I would like to see someone hurt, that is not true, but flopping around in the mud, would have been okay) I didn’t see the rider again so I don’t know if it gave him a place or two in front of me or much more.  Where he finished I have no idea.  I worked my way around the course caught a few more, made it through the lake and up on to the hardball.  After a few good pedal strokes I finished in 27thCrossresults predictor had me at 52nd, so 27th, I will take.

As far as the Rapha Focus Clash Challenges, I think I got Adam and Doug.  The results are still not published but I didn’t see Thom for the rest of the afternoon so I might have gotten my nemesis too.  Thom, thanks again, you made me ride my tail off.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Race Report - DCCX Presented By Dogfish Head Alehouse and Family Bike Shop - Race #4 in the BikeReg.com MABRAcross Super 8

I didn’t blog about last weekend due to the fact that I was in the Master Race that Wasn’t at Granogue.  I am glad to see the two riders are doing well and both will be racing soon.

I am continuing down the path of weighing 210 lbs, not sure what to do about that one.  Yes I eat lean meats, avoid anything fried, no sugared colas, drink about 6-8 20oz bottles of water a day, go to the gym three days a week, and run/ride about 12-15 hours.  Hey anyone know of a cheap place to get liposuction or a tape worm? 

Saturday I went out to the DCCX course and pre-rode.  What a great venue.  The course looped like something M.C.Escher would have drawn up, I am not sure how a course that starts and ends in the same place can be all up hill, so I knew it was going to be a challenge (look at paragraph two if you want to know why… hint?  210 lbs).

Sunday I was up early and heading to the District.  I got a few more laps in and gathered my race number, 701…  Yes, 01 then the realization, everybody else’s numbers are in the 600s.  Damn, I am starting 101st. 

So I lined up in the very back of the pack looking for Adam Austin, who had unleashed a Rapha Clash Challenge on me earlier that week and Doug Owens whom I had done the same.  Doug was 652, staging 49 places in front of me and I could not find Adam in the sea of jerseys.  I was also looking for my cross results nemeses, Thom Moore (who I do know) and James Earl (whom I still do not personally know).

The race started with an eerie reminiscence of Granogue, with the cracking of carbon and rattle of brakes, but by time I go there it appeared as if everyone was okay and the sprint was on.  Over the next 15 minutes I slowly gained ground on the front and increasing my kill points.  I looked at numbers slowly clicking off the 690s, 680s, 670s, and 660s.  Looking for the 650s where Doug should be lurking.  At that time I ran into, figuratively for now, Thom, Rick Mellendick, and Dave Tambeaux.  Over the next 20 minutes the four of us would go back and forth.  Post race Thom told me it was the hardest race he has ever done going for 50th. 

The last lap came and our group of five was battling it out, bumping on the run-up and fighting through the barriers.  I had a slight advantage going into the last off camber double S-turn whatever you want to call it, I had ridden it each lap and would do the same, but we came upon a lapped rider that went down right in front of me.  Off the bike I went and saw Thom squeeze by chasing a Kelly Benefit rider.  Once on the road it was an all out sprint, with about 10 meters left in the race I was passing Thom on the left when he got forced over into my line and into the crowd I went, but across the line, Mimi confirmed that bike and body both crossed the line.  Luckily a few bikes took the brunt of the wreck, mine was unscathed but later I heard that one of the women’s bikes got a bent rear hanger.  Thom squeezed out 52nd and I got 53rd, which should be good enough to put me in the top 10 for the overall 45+ series.  It was a great race, lots of fun, and what a fantastic venue. 

As for the Ralpa Challenges, I got Adam fair and square but Doug, I feel a little guilty about.  He rolled a tubular on the first lap, bad part?  I am the one that glued it.  Sorry Doug.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Race Report - 2011 Hyattsville CX - MABRACross Super 8 Series Event #3

This weeks blog is going to be a little different. I have decided to also list my training hours and weight information since both of them seem to have direct effects on possible outcomes. Yes, this is odious but still I think is necessary. to discuss.

The first thing to consider is my over all weight. For the week my weight has averaged around 209 lbs. My goal for the beginning of cross season was under 200, but due to life and other things it has been steady at 210 since around March. Yes, like everyone else I have tried different diets etc, with little to no luck. So here comes cross season and once again I sit at about 209.

The second part of the equation is time on the bike or at least intensity. Last week I rode either outside or on the Computrainer every night but Thursday. For the purposes of numbers this equates to approximately 7 hours of saddle time and with an intensity that raised my CTL (Chronic Training Load) around 5.9 TSS. So I went from an extremely poor 30.5 to 36.4. For me to be competitive I figure that my CTL needs to be around 60, which maybe almost impossible to achieve this season. I also added about three hours of running in to assist in both fitness and potential weight loss. The weight loss at this point would be the bonus plan and not the goal, knowing that you can either loss weight or train as your goal but not both at the same time.

This weekend was the Third in the MABRACross Series, Hyattsville. Watching the “special report” on cxhairs.com suggested that the course was going to have something added that we did not see last year and it did. I got to the race prepared to ride but not necessarily prepared to race. I had thrown a Rapha Cross Clash Challenge out to a fellow 3/4 Masters, Doug Owens. We normally seem to be close to each other in the races, if he can keep tires on his bike, so I figured a challenge was in order.

Immediately following the Women’s race, I headed out on the course to pre-ride, the lap took me a little longer than anticipated and barely made it to the start. As I am jacking around getting my gloves on, the gun fires and we are off, well they are, me being in the 10th row (race number 681) I had a few seconds. I am not sure, but this may be a blessing in disguise. My first lap I did not feel as if I was totally crushed, I seem to just pace around the course picking guys off one at a time. I made the decision on the pre-ride that I would run the descent and mud bog because I knew that there would be traffic and pile-ups in that area. Sure enough this was true. The first couple of laps went well and had little problems with the course, even the descent and mud bog until the forth lap. I made it down without issues and started to ride across and the front wheel just dug in, ass over tea kettle again (Video time).

But it was mud and a soft landing, up and gone, made little difference this time. The last lap was a really good lap, lots of true racing, once again about five of us chasing each other. With less than a quarter lap to go, NCVC rider, Knight Elsberry moved in front of me and gave me the little extra needed in the chase. On the final sprint, Knight out did me by about a bike length, but well deserved on his part, it was a good sprint.

So in the MABRACross series I am sitting 15th in the overall standing after the first two races (Hyattsville has not been figured in yet). I ended up 48th for this race. Pretty disappointing but I can say I raced the entire time. What the hell, we had a sprint finish for 47th, 48th, and 49th.

So the plan for DCCX? Hopefully in two weeks I can drop a few pounds, have another 20 hours of saddle time and 6 hours of running. Using cross results I have to figure out who are my nemeses, Thom Moore of Potomac Velo and James Earl of DCMTB, find them in the pack and do my best chase. I know my double-click registration already failed, so I am starting in about 100th, so I will have a hellava lot of ground to catch up.  Crossresults prediction is 83rd out of 125 registered.  I am shooting for top 40.

Monday, October 3, 2011

2011 Cyclocross Season

New bike and new kit
Since it is October 3rd, I can say that cyclocross season is in full swing.  After a lack luster road season and an upgrade to Cat 3, based on the peer pressure provided by Bill’s (www.cxhairs.com) daughter to upgrade, Winchester AppleCross was my third race of the season.

I do feel obligated to throw out a little caveat to start, unfortunately less than four weeks ago, during some cross practice, a GamJams rider and I got tied up together in a sprint resulting in a few fractured ribs and fractured thumb.  So I laid off the bike for a week then hit Charm City (Cat 2/3/4).  I was scheduled to race both days, but Saturday was about all that I could do ending with a pitiful 98th, out of 106.  Well at least it was a top 100.   The following week was spend nurturing the ribs and reflecting on how I should have really done the Greenbelt races on Wednesday, road the “A” group rides on Tuesday nights at Freshbikes and should have probably jumped into the goon ride on Saturday mornings.  Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, but didn’t, but hell I at least have the ribs to blame, right?

Then came Tacchino, great, I get to race in the Masters ¾ (35+/45+).  Speaking of which, why is it 35+, 45+ when they all seem to be scored as one race, is it just so I can say, well I was 28th in the 45+, not 90th??  Hmmm… maybe I will ask Bill next time I see him, but I digress.  Tacchino was a great course, did most of everything that I was supposed to, up until the point in time that my bibs got caught on the back of the saddle and I slammed into the barrier, yep, ass over teacup.  For those who are Facebook friends you too can watch the video at Tacchino Barrier.  Had to do a bike swap in the pits then headed out.  Long race and yet another pitiful finish, 95th of 111.  I guess good and bad, the ribs were not hurting as bad so nothing to blame except for me.

So the following week, I spent my nights in the garage on the computrainer, hammering out a few Sufferfest Videos, by Saturday morning I felt pretty good ready for Sunday.

Winchester AppleCross is always a great venue, I really love the course.  One of the things that I need to work on is my bikereg double click.  I have Sram Red so I have the double tap down, but the double click not so well.  So my starting position was 52nd.  Lot of guys between me and the hole shot. 

We lined up and we ready to go, once the gun popped, we were off.  My first obstacle, the guy sitting in 32-39, yes he was jacking with his Garmin, really??? your Garmin, trust me, follow the guys in front, you will not get lost.  If you want heart rate data?  What is your max? Multiply it over 40 minutes.  If you want TSS, easy, take 40 min/60 min x 100 = should be between 66 and 70 for the TSS.

After that it was just a game of about ten of us racing, swapping positions and pushing through the mud.  I picked some good lines and picked some really stupid ones.  I hit the ground a couple of times and dropped the chain once.  The chain drop was the only one where I really lost some time, probably 10 or 15 seconds.  Looking back, I know of about a minute of just stupidity.  I had a few moments of real racing; I hit the Belgium Wall really hard and put in a solid effort (another video - Belgium Wall).  I race the entire time and in my group of 10, hit 2nd giving me a 40th finish. 

So what are my season goals? Well, really focus on being in the top half, working on my bikereg double-click, and getting my crossresults.com points from a current 561 to 480.   I guess I am gonna spend a lot of time on the Computrainer.   Next race?  Hyattsville.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Race Report - 2011 Sleepy Hole Smackdown Crit

Saturday was the beginning of the 2011 season for me. Alex and I headed down to Suffolk VA for the Sleepy Hole Smackdown. The course was about a 0.7 mile loop. Only one turn that might be a little tricky with a full field but other than that, flat and gonna be fast. The field stated with about 36 racers, most notable was the VA Beach Wheelmen who had come out in force, but it is their race and always good to see a team well represented. Also noticed that there was a Potomac Velo female racer that was amongst us, I figured that she was a Women’s 3 doubling up for the day.

As I expected, the race started out very fast, after the first turn, we were basically pace lining it. I did not have an ideal start but was sitting mid-pack just figuring out the course and the racers. About the fifth lap, the field was dividing, do to a pretty good head wind at the far end of the course and one corner that was a little greater than 90 degrees, the lesser experienced rides moved toward the back. I was still sitting toward the middle and found a couple of riders that were braking in the corners then sprinting to to get back on, basically doing some sketchy riding. Too much wasted energy, too dangerous for me, so I moved up to the top five, well sort of.

By this time, two guys had gone off the front, so I was actually sitting around seventh. After a few more laps, we were approaching the 14 minute mark, had about 22 laps to go, I heard a godawful sound. Yes, the sound of carbon and asphalt, but it was far enough behind that it had little effect on the front. I was pretty concerned, hoping my teammate Alex was not involved. As we came back around, the USAC official was directing us to the left, I noticed that the Potomac Velo rider, later identified as Lindsay Honaker, had got tied up with another rider and she was laying in the middle of the course, obvious that they were not going to move her. On the back side of the course, I saw Alex with a flat, so I was relieved that he had not been mixed up in the crash. We did about two more laps and finally the USAC Officials stopped us at the line. He stated that they had called an ambulance, once they had moved her we would restart the race. Several of the riders that had been behind her stated that she had just sprinted into the back of Andrew Steele from Bike Lane, basically she had got sucked into the back of the pack. Her recollection can be read on her blog.

After a quick view of USA CYCLING website, road-results.com, and reading her blog, she self admits to have never been in a road race, I am not sure why she (CAT 4 Woman) was in the CAT4 Men’s race. I am really glad to hear that she was not hurt too bad, but the whole point of Women’s 4s and Men’s 5s is to get use to pack racing. She states on her blog that she is registered for Black Hills and Richmond, I hope it is in the Women’s 4 race (bikereg.com Womens 4 for Blackhills and Mens 3/4s at Richmond). Okay off my soap box, enough of that.

(After reading Lindsay’s response at
http://thedirtfield.com/?p=1871. I did a little more research I just could not figure out HOW she was in the field, not WHY but HOW. I was not questioning her pedigree because I knew that she was a pro mountain biker. I knew that women could race one category lower than there license but could they race a category equal too? The answer, according to the USAC Rulebook, states that women can enter any men’s race that is equal in category or age. So in fact, she is allowed to compete as a CAT 4 Women in a CAT 4 Men’s race. )

After about a 5-10 minute delay, they took about 7 laps off of our race and restarted us with 15 laps to go. They gave the two breakaway riders a 30 second headstart and then released the hounds. I knew this would be an all out sprint, so in good cyclocross style, I decided to hit the first turn like it was a holeshot. This I executed well, following a rider from American Pride into the corner. I really had no desire to hit that turn with the other 30 or so riders.

The American Pride rider, along with myself and an VA Beach Wheelmen, took turns pulling for the next 8 laps or so trying to pull back the two off the front, but this was all done in vain, no chance. With 5 laps to go they gave us our first preme, this would continue for the next two laps. On the second to last lap, they throw the last preme so I made my decision, there was no way I was going to be able to out sprint the American Pride rider, so I would go for the last preme and carry the velocity in a break way. I came up toward the line and about 200 m out came out of the saddle and easily got the preme, I think the field thought that I would take it and sit back, but I just carried the momentum through the 90 degree turn and kept going. Today, it worked out, I crossed the finish line in third with about 8 bike lengths on the field.

For me, it was a good day and a good race.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 Season is off to a Start

So I will start this one like I have done before... “been away for awhile but still have been riding”. I need to sit down and do some reflection on 2010 but for now 2011 is ready to start. I took the majority of December off an began building my plan for 2011. First off I selected a few “A” races and then a couple of good showing races, then the ones that I will be at for the purposes of flat out fun.

My “A” races this year will be Tour of Washington County and Nationals (crit and RR) in Bend, Oregon. For Cross Season this year, I am really excited about Worlds being in Louisville KY so that is going to be another goal.

So far this season, I have logged a ton of trainer / computrainer miles and few great rides out in Catlett VA. Racing buddy pointed out a great 50 mile loop, so i have been heading out there ion Sundays to ride. I figure this year I would follow the advice about “ride in a group, train alone”. Still looking around to find a few late winter / early spring camps. So afar I figure that I will head to South Carolina to do the Base Training Camp (Feb 24- 1 Mar), then follow it up with Veloworks in Austin, and then something out at Lost Barn / Raw Talent Ranch. I was hoping the team would be doing something this spring but it has been pretty quite on the home front.

Over the winter I have spent a ton of time working on continuing my coaching education and have signed on with Veloworks as a coach. I thought about heading down to Atlanta next week to get my Level 2 certification class out of the way, but with trying to go to several camps, finances start getting in the way. I will look to complete that one in the fall.

So that is where we stand today. First race is the 20th of Mar at Vint Hill, so we are looking at about 49 days and then the first big Road Race a week later. Last year i did fairly well at Jefferson Cup and would like to step it up and score a top fifteen.

Next update will be a followup review on the Book Racing Weight, Product - Saris Joule, and soon a Product review on RacerMates new software RacerMate One.