Saturday, August 28, 2010

Legs Up!

I'm taking a pre-Cross season break. The mountain bike season (which I was hoping would be over, but a couple rain delays have prolonged) was rather tough with some pretty bad crashes. I slightly re-injured my left shoulder and I might have a small fracture in my left hand after a 15 mph collision with a tree at the 6 Hours of John Bryan. A couple weeks later I crashed on downhill rock garden smashing my knee — which was still bruised and swollen two weeks later. That same knee has been feeling rather tender — and overall I have had some rather bad sensations in my legs. Thankfully Norwood Chiropractic is bringing new life into my hamstrings and hip flexors that were as solid as concrete.

Thursday I had a rather lovely recovery commute to work. I stopped and watched the sun rising over the lush Ohio River Valley.

It's odd not to fit a bunch of riding into the weekend. I'm not touching a bike at all until Wednesday. But I had time to enjoy the rather inventive night time Team Time Trial in the opening stage of this year's Vuelta. Very cool, and Sevilla looked lovely. Wish I were there!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A couple of great nights of cross practice! Harbin on Wednesday and the Kings TT Thursday night — where the uphill and off-camber sandpits are keeping me on my toes! Feeling really good, hopefully I'll be a bit faster this year.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rockin' the retro kit tonight! Gettin race-faced left and right cause I look like a crazy Fred.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Racing into 'Cross Fitness

Last year at this time I was racing less and using tools like the PowerTap to test myself and get ready for cross season. This year I am racing much more — and in some ways I am stronger, some ways I am weaker. I need to work on my accelerations/sprints/starts because I am really lacking there.

Race #38: Clawing My Way Out of the Cellar
I was very embarrassed to come in last place at East Fork, and this race I didn't want to let it happen again. I got off to an ok start at the beginning, but once the trail went farther than my pre-ride I ended up sucking it big time. There was a rocky technical section with cliffs, waterfalls and creek crossings — and I had some insomnia the night before and I started riding backwards... Five experts dudes passed me, then all these sport guys passed me! I was really sucking. Finally this guy passed me, and I could tell I was better than him and I got pissed off and started riding my legs off! I think I ended up passing four guys back (although some had to DNF eventually). Versailles is cool, there are some nice power sections. I was very excited to still average 12.3 mph and not to be in last, until I looked at the results and I was last in my age group (but all ages started at the same time, so am I not last?)…

Wednesday Night Cross Worlds
Did some battle with Mitch, but he took it easy on me because he rolled his tubular. The crowd was a little small — I actually came in first twice, but only because of Mitch's bad luck.

Race #42: The Running Man
I went to my first Kingswood TT. I opened up my kit bag and no shoes! So I had to do the TT wearing my running shoes. Everytime I caught air over a bump I prayed to God my feet would find the pedals before my balls hit the seat! I still got fourth! I had a heart rate monitor and I had that thing nailed at 167 - 171 hbpm for the first two laps. Next week I want to be more consistent with my lap times, I hate when I get slower! Lap 1 was 13:59, Lap 2 14:54, and Lap 3 was 15:08 for a total time of 44:01.

Race #43: Showing my butthole on TVMy mountain bike race at E/I got off to a bad start. My friend's wedding the night before left me a little stuffed and hung over! Before the race started my kit got caught on my saddle and tore a hole in the seat, and I think the local public access TV was there filming the race. I hope I looked good and didn't show too much to make the TV show R rated!

The race start was a little rough but I eventually started attacking all the hills and trying to use my cross fitness to crush the first half of every lap. Plus Bjet and I were together for a second but she crashed in a rocky creek bed. I made sure she was okay but she slowed a little after that. I ended up gaining some spots and did lose any! Whoa!

I was totally blown away by my results, I was very consistent every lap. I would use parts of the course to attack and parts to recover (winding sections of trees and downhills). My lap times were: 29:36, 29:09, 29:14 and 29:47! I came in 6th place! This was the best cross-country mountain bike race I have ever had! Last year I came in 9th in sport only averaging 10.65 mph — this year I topped that by averaging 12.48 mph.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How do you say Mud in Japanese?

Looks like a cool movie. I found it by looking for CX art here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Over the Hill and Through the Woods against the Clock We Go!

Bridget has always been a big fan of the Harbin Park MTB TTs so I thought it would make a great series for me to improve my MTB skills. And girls like guys with skills...

Week 2/Race #35–The Vomit Comet
I met Nate up at BioWheels but all these customers came in and we left the store really late. We thought, f' it, we'll just show up and ride the trails. But we get there, see all the people starting there TTs and they were nice enough to let us race. But no warm up. I got cyclocross puketastic on the first lap, redlining Mount Mutha. I think I got 24'sumthin" on the first lap. Here and there it was tough to carry speed because some corners were a bit slick because it rained a few days before. I blew up and lost all my piss and vinegar. I focused on being efficient but added a couple of minutes to my second lap. Every second does count! There were four riders within 30 seconds of me, mostly in front of me. I ended up being 6th place with 50:32, my splits were 24:31 on the first lap and 26:01 on the second.

Week 5/Race #37 — Rookie in the Corners
Man, I cam out of the gate riding like a total loser. I was extremely inefficient in the corners. I swear I could hear my 30 second man breathing down my neck. Tthey are so many power sections before Mount Muther F*ck*r that I have to ease off so I don't blow up. And I did blow, I think I looked at a rock funny while climbing that wall and I came off my bike! But I ran up CX style and got back on and did my first lap in 23:57. I think I opened up some air behind me. After I blow I work on being more efficient in the turns and keeping my wits about me. And it worked, I turned in a 23:53 second lap for a 47:50 total. There were four riders within 10 seconds of each other, and you wonder if I could have been faster without that bobble. I only averaged about 10 miles per hour...

Week 6/Race #39 — Dialed In!
I was psyched about my last lap at the John Byran race and I really tried to bring a more aggressive leaning into corner constantly pedaling riding style to this last TT. My pre-ride was miserable, but I used Nate's pump and I think my tires were low — making my riding sluggish and bogged down. I went out hard again, constantly on the verge of blowing up. After Mount Mother the rest of each lap is usually pretty miserable! I ended up catching one rider who also rode John Bryan, and then a second on the climb at the end of the lap. I think having that rider there was a big carrot to push me to go faster and I turned in a 23:10 lap! I wanted to power away so I didn't chill and didn't drink, and I think I paid later. All the power sections before Mt Mutha blew me up a bit, and I bobbled and had to run the hill while my left leg cramped. Ugh. But I recovered and caught a third rider! That second lap was a decent 23:49 for a total time of 46:59, nipping under the 47" mark. I might have been second fastest on the night averaging about 10.7 miles per hour.

I was really happy to be improving and love having this TT as a nice tool to gauge fitness and skill. Between my three times I averaged 48:26 per lap at about 10.4 miles per hour. Hopefully I can go faster next year!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Race #44: I found myself somewhere between the trees

My goal for this year's 6 Hours of John Bryan were:
1) Prove to myself that I am getting better as a mountain biker a.k.a. get my lap times down
2) Beat last year's time, even minus the long breaks I took
3) Break that Top Ten (I was 11th last year)
4) Training race for Versailles 12 Hour (This is a big maybe, doubt I have the heart/legs to do it)
6) Tune up "the motor" for cross

But going into this race I have had "bad sensations" in my legs all week. I over trained last weekend, just because I was having fun. Maybe the extreme heat made me dehydrated during these workouts, turning my legs into ripping shreds of beef jerky... You could play the guitar solo to "Misirlou" on my hip flexor tendon — it is so tight!

The race started with a "Le Mans" style start. Even though I typically stink at these I love them because it shuffles up the field pretty well and it doesn't rely upon when you register, how many points you have or how sharp your elbows are:

LAP 1: 0:59:33
Like I said, I had a bad start. But I found Bridget's wheel, I was about 1 rider behind her, and she was doing a great job pacing us through the tight twistys. On the wider access roads she was making killer passes, and I kept finding myself two riders behind her. The second time we did this little pass dance I found myself behind a very slow rider and she was gone. Plus I took this weird slow wrong turn and lost about 6 places!

LAP 2: 0:57:32
So second lap I set out to find my beloved. I ended up riding with this LionHearts kid in the beginning of the lap — that kid was really fast! No slouch! And he was having a blast on the bike, bouncin and bunnyhoppin everything. I eventually found Bridget and we rode together for about 2 laps. We are a great compliment to each other, I follow her wheel on the more technical parts and I get in front and hammer à la Spartacus.

LAP 3: 0:59:17
Jeff Cyrus rode with us for a second — he called us roadies and took off! He was flying! And Gary Lunsford was looking incredible, he was crouched down and pedaling through every turn like a fluid dirt-fueled monster! Unfortunately just after this my impression of a downhill slalom skier went pear-shaped and I was going too fast through a turn, clipped my right handle bar on a sappling which sent my left handlebar into a big tree. I punched the tree with my left hand, flew forward and smashed my left shoulder! Oh well, we got back up and I just tried to ignore the throbbing pain.

PIT STOP: ABOUT 0:06:00ish

LAP 4: 0:59:04
There came a dark point on lap 4. Bridget froze her Camelback and it hadn't thawed, so she was out of water. She stopped at an emergency aid station and I said I would peddle ahead slowly. Well, I didn't see her after a few minutes and my mind kept thinking about my goals. A) Race for myself and try to get 7 laps in or B) continue to pace with Bridget and push her to a podium position? I chose option A after a few more minutes... I'm a heartless bastard.

LAP 5: 0:59:05 & LAP 6 0:59:27
These laps got super hazy. I think I was kind of gassed. I would ride hard, then take it easy through the twistier sections in case I had momentary lapse of judgement and crash again. I was really hoping lap 5 would be faster so I could phone in lap 6 and still make the time cut. Somewhere in here I got passed by the legend Gunnar Shogren, it was kind of having Pete Townshend smash your guitar or Picasso paint over one of your paintings. Demoralizing but BADASS! Eyeing my computer I realized I had to time trial the last 4 or 5 miles of my 6th lap. I barely made it in according to the clock, but I DID IT, onto lap 7!

PIT STOP: ABOUT 0:04:00ish

LAP 7: 0:56:27 (give or take)
I refueled and took off. Something clicked this lap. I got lower on the bike, leaning and pedaling through every turn! I finally got that "surfer's moment" where everything flows and you feel at one with the bike and the trail. I really crushed this lap, and this made the difference. I am glad I just didn't go out there just to do it.

Without knowing it, I pedaled my way onto the first podium of my mountain biking "career!" And I am so happy my parents were there to see it. Super cool! And I crushed my 2009 performance, riding my first 6 laps nearly 25 minutes faster!

2010 Stats
3rd out of 32, 7 Laps, 80.5 Miles, 7:00:25 Total Time, about 6:50 of total riding time, avg 11.78 mph

as compared to 2009 Stats
11th out of 28, 6 Laps, 69 Miles, 6:51:40, Total Time, about 6:10 of total riding time, avg 11.19 mph