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  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  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 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 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 ( 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 points from a current 561 to 480.   I guess I am gonna spend a lot of time on the Computrainer.   Next race?  Hyattsville.