Friday, December 30, 2011

Hour, Power, Wower

I don't own a PowerTap. But years ago I bought one for my wife Bjet after I scheduled our wedding and the another second family reception during the two most important UCI CX weekends. So here and there I borrow it and collect targeted data.

After the OVCX season ended I really wanted to keep racing to keep my fitness and skills sharp for Masters Nationals and Masters Worlds. I don't typically do these races but they are so close this year. Well, I was burned out back in November. Bjet was done racing and preferred that I not go off and disappear all day and waste money on races and gas. So I decided to stay close to home and put myself in the hurt locker. I've been having a blast going out and getting miles in, I'm pushing myself to ride more than I did during CX season, but I'm having fun doing it.

The nerdy data chart above shows the tests I have done this year, and highlights from past tests. I'm very excited to see the results get better and better. I was a little scared when they declined after Thanksgiving but my test today was the best average yet! Now it's time to rest and recover and get ready for the big races!

So to get some speed endurance fitness I like to go out and hammer for as long as I can. What I don't do enough is test myself against the hour. I've only done this a few times. I've been using the bike path because it is relatively flat and there are not many people on it during weekdays or in the winter. The only trouble is the slight change in gradients and the intersections...

So today I went up to try another and I borrow Bjet's full bike, not just her powertap wheel... Well, a chain link broke apart and got caught in the derailleur, ripping it off. It's a beautiful gold Seven Resolute road bike, and the chain scratched the seat stay. Now I am in the dog house! I feel horrible. It didn't even happen during the Hour attempt, maybe it was a good thing I was pedaling easy because I could have gotten hurt or damaged the bike even more.

I have annihilated every personal power record this year. Except for the 5sec, which I set when I sprinted against my homie Bill Meek up a hill. Maybe we have to do that again next year! I need to get that 5sec power up to 1200w soon, I know if will help my racing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Local Parks become Battlegrounds

One of my favorite things about cyclocross is that you can turn any space into a race course. Cyclocross is kind of the "Parkour" of cycling and any steps, logs, hills, fields become fair game.

Since I started racing cross I turned the park down the street into a practice course for myself. Each race where I fail at some technical aspect, I just throw it into the course design and try to make myself better at it here in my Bramble Park Cyclocross Laboratory. Lately I've been trying to get some fast laps in before work, trying to ready myself for Natz and Worldz.

This year I have had the fortune of riding with some of the Lionhearts Juniors at Armleter. It is so fun to see them progress, and I am amazed at how focused and experience they already are. I have had a blast battling with some of them, they are really quite fast and I can never let my guard down! Alex, Nathan, Zachary and Enzo are a group of really smart kids, and I am glad that we can share an activity and learn from each other. It turns out that a few of them live in my neighborhood so they came over to Bramble park for some fun laps the other day. Quite fun!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Cross-mas

A group of us met up at Kings, but there wasn't a large of a crowd as we imagined plus the ground was extremely wet. We originally planned to race, but we rode around for an hour and a half chasing each other and having fun. Wow, my legs aren't used to slogging through mud. They're getting soft not racing the past few weeks.

Dude, I saw Rogue's Jason Cox ramp/bunny hop over a tree that was over a foot and half tall. He was on a mountain bike but still, I am too chicken to try. Do you think he could teach me skills? I hope Santa brings me rad skills...

Merry Christmas! May you all get all the sweetest carbon fibers thingies your hearts desire.

The day before I used some of my time off work to go for a fun hill ride around the East Side. My riding time was cut short due to a flat — but I was able to revisit a lot of my favorite climbs that I haven't ridden much since training for Mohican.

I was a bit of a naughty boy and I grabbed a slice of chocolate cake and blueberry cobbler from Milford's Main Cup, I used them as a gourmand's version of a power bar during the ride.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Road to Worlds is Paved with Suffering!

Since Old Man Worlds is just down the road I decided to keep training and also go to Nats and check out all the insanity. Originally I was planning to take a month off and rest up, but these big races are just too close not to jump into to.

We are fortunate enough to have plenty of races to keep us fit leading into these Championships:
12/11 CapCity Finale: I had to miss it, the Missus is sick of driving everywhere. I really wanted to attend, CapCity is my second home!
12/17-18: Indy Cup Series: In Indy, not too far away.
12/31-1/1: Chicago Cup OR
12/31 New Year's Eve King's Race? There was one last year.
1/1 Devou: I'm planning to put on a fun race to benefit the Devou Cyclocross Park. It will make for great training for Worlds!
1/13-15: WORLDS!

I think I'm going to keep my marriage intact and not tick off Bjet too much and skip the Indy Cup races too. I am going to Nats, it will be great to check out the pageantry and watch the Elite Women and Men battle for the crown. Worlds will be fun, seeing all my friends for one last race. Plus Madison and Louisville are super cool cities with plenty of fun things to do.

Instead of racing I'm planning to keep it local, and race against myself doing time trials and power tests. This will allow for more riding time, less travel. I'm going to keep it chill and not race for once!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pump up the Volume!

NOTE TO READER: This post is a whine-fest. I wanted to throw it out there as incentive not to let this happen in the future!

I have a confession to make. I haven't been keeping my nose to the grindstone. I could have worked harder this year. After mountain bike season I stopped minding my training schedule and I purely raced off that MTB fitness through the first half of cross season. My CX bike was in need of repairs, so unlike last year, I did not start practicing skills in June. In fact I barely practiced my skills. I think the 6-8 hours of training I was getting in early November did not help the end of my cross season.

Oops, my "coach" forgot to fill out the training schedule after August:

I'm sure if I would have kept on my strength training, intervals and skill workouts I would have had a better year. But I learned. We're only human. I had to work to keep the money coming in. I typically trained about 12 hours a week, and I know that is a luxury. Plus, I really did have a good year. I just now it could have been slightly better. And that nags me.

In some ways I trained so diligently in the first 5 months that after Mohican I felt a bit burned out and just rode my bike. So I focused on racing every race I could to continue the intensity. But sometimes driving to a weeknight MTB or CX time trial you spend more time in the car than you do on the bike!

Also, I got a bit scared when I read an article about London commuters being affected by pollution. I got scared off the bike and commuted less than normal. Commuting is my bread and butter, I save money and get to train all at once! That's why I've been so strong in the past. Fortunately The Bike Show Podcast put some of my concerns to rest, I could simply take quieter streets on my everyday commute to cut back some of this exposure to pollution. Plus, the health benefits from cycling hopefully will out weight the effects of pollution. Plus Cincinnati is not London!

How to figure out what type of Cyclist you are:

My co-worker sent this to me. It holds up pretty well.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

No budg for grunge

I was going to swing by BioWheels for fresh cables. But once I cleaned my bike I realized I need a new bottom bracket, chain (and bike) too!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Battle of 45227

I wanted to congratulate my friend and zip code nemesis Jason Karew on thoroughly whoopin my booty this year. Jason bested me in many contests this year, and when I did beat him I did a little victory dance! In the end Jason got the better of me and really finished the season on a high note. He's the Ali to my Frazier, the Nadal to my Federer.

It's always nice to have someone to hold after a muddy race. Can't wait til next year!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chasing Perfection while Wheel-sucking Mediocrity

I've been so busy this year with work that I haven't bored my dear readers with long winded race reports. So here is my recap of the 2011 Ohio Valley Cyclocross (OVCX) season — a year marked with progress, success, failure, and great times with friends and family. I love racing with my friends every weekend, our lives are so crazy. We get to go out and reenact little battles, where we exhibit the best and the worst of human qualities, using camaraderie and the spirit of competition to bring out the best in ourselves. And on top of it we get to see the other cool cities around the Midwest, have a nice meal with our friends. You guys (assuming your my racing friends) really bring so much happiness to my life. Thank you! And thank you for reading this.

Before we proceed I must mention that the top 20 riders get paid in the Elite OVCX races, and if you're not on the podium, or top 10, being top 20 is a decent target. Just so you know I ain't no gold digger!

Race # 96: Fishsticks!
Back row start due to late registration switch (forced out of Elite race due to my Cat 3 status, didn't relize I could race Elite Masters as a 3), I got a back row start. Aside from dropping a chain and the above pictured crash on lap 2, I wove my way through 53 riders to nab 23rd. I felt good, hey maybe I'll be getting some money this year in the top 20?!

Race #98: Brookside with an entree of humility
Lots of chaos at the start, the USA cycling ref didn't give us a warning and the gun went off with both my feet on the ground! I got caught behind someone else's crash too, and I came through last on the first lap. But once again I turned on the jets and wove my way through. At one point I caught 4 Papa Johns rider in their own little chase group. I gobbled them up like a large pepperoni leaving only John Mandrola on my wheel (you want me to finish an entire pizza by myself?). We caught my homie Jason Karew and had a little battle. What a blast! With one-lap-to-go I made a joke to John because he wouldn't take a pull, Jason attacked! Since he's my homie I let him gain some ground, then attacked John. Woo hoo! I got 18th and I was in the money! Sweet, sweet money.

Race #99: Saint Mary save me from the Mud!
I spent the night with teamates Jaden and Bridget in their RV. What a blast! They're vegan so I brought my own vegan grub, and it was a learning experience I will blog about later (since then I stopped buying lunchmeat with a face and now I eat the Tofurkey, same protein with less sodium and guilt!). It freaking rained all night!

So the race was a disaster for me, but at least I made some money, i.e,. dollar hand ups! I fought with the bike all day, I would try to ride fast only to fly through the tape and lose spots and time. Ugh, 27th!

Race #101: un-Geared fest
After success at Brookside I was hoping to be in the money again. But as luck would have it it was not to be. On the first lap I noticed my front skewer was loose, it was a non-Shimano brand and evidently it was worn out and decided to come loose. So I pulled off to the side and fixed it. Then the next lap I tried to bunny-hop a log and came down and bent my chain guard! Every pedal stroke sounded like it was going to saw my chain off! So once again I pulled over and fixed it. I burned a ton of matches trying to ride out of last place twice to just end up 26th...

Photo by the speedy champion, Julie Lewis-Sroka

Race #102: A Glimmer of Hope
My stomach was full of anger! I was fed up with having less than perfect races. Got off to a great start! Check. I was in a group battling for 11th! Wow! Eventually the group shattered me and I was fighting with homie Will Sherman for 16th. On the last lap we were riding so hard I started to see stars on a long grinding hill! But wow, finally a respectable race from gun to line.

Photo by the awesome Jen and Mark Farmer

Race #104: Shot to pieces at Gun Club
My shifter broke just before the start of the race. Okay, it was Tiagra... I was trying to save money for a new bike!

Bjet let me borrow her gorgeous Seven Mudhoney. I missed my callup and started on the backline. Bjet is taller than me and all legs, and even with the saddle adjustment it was like riding a penny farthing for the first fees laps.

But then I locked up with the bike and started riding my way up through The pack. I got into 21st and I hunted down 20th position. I actually had the sprint! But suddenly the chain whipped off! Maybe too much motion? Had to settle for missing the money but I felt the peformance was respectable. Without the mechanical and missed callup perhaps I would have placed on the 35+ Masters podium...

Race #105: Bloomin' Bullocks
I was having a decent race here too, until my front tubie went flat. I guess a branch with some thorns punctured it! I pitted, grabbed my other wheel. Started riding again only to realize my wheel was loose, I should have done things right the first time when I pitted. Dang it. 28th. I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie handup though...

Race #109: Stormin' the Greens
Ever have one of those days where you are all groggy and can't wake up. That's what happened here. I had a horrible start, went completely backwards. But once I woke up I had a great race. I loved riding with my friend/zip code nemesis Jason Karew. We were pretty equally matched, Jason being a bit stronger than me, but we did a great job trading pulls. I somehow got away from him and finished 21st. Darn it! So close. If I was fresh minded from the gun perhaps I would have had some cash, and a 3rd place in the 35+ Masters... Dig the retro kit? It was Halloween!

Race #112: Demoted at Promotion Cross
Tough race. Totally muddy. But I had a great time with my teammates. There were 5 of us in a train, all in a row, in the first two laps. My teammate Mike Schulze was riding sooooo smooth and just rode away from me. I then had to battle with my bestfriend and teammate Nate for the last money spot. I did it again! Finally! But there was a snag. Somehow my timing chip stopped registering and I was placed DFL! I felt pretty angry and jipped at first. I even had a temper tantrum. But in the end I know no one did it intentionally, and bad calls happen. No sport is fallible. Remember the Cubs getting denied the Series because of the foul ball? Bad shit happens. Oh well, there will be plenty of more races and hopefully Lady Luck will swing my way again.

Photo by Drew Bogner

Race #114: A Jester amongst Kings
Well, somehow I started the race "off the front," but it went all pear-shaped and I ended up 3 laps down. Perhaps it was the fact I stopped for 2-3 beer handups every lap...

Well, I raced every OVCX race this year. Perfect attendance! Perhaps if I pay more attention to race preparation, make it less of a social event, I could really get some results next year. But then, perhaps it would be much less fun! I still have a lot to learn, I am proud of my better performances and hopefully with a bit more work I can make them more frequent.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Race #113: Slipping and Sliding into Bronze

Today was the sloppy Midwest Regional Masters and Juniors Championships at Kings. It wasn't muddy all over, just bogs and puddles that would suck down your wheels.

Actually I had a really good start, I was super happy. But I didn't get to pre-ride the entire course or watch the previous race. I should have rolled around and observed the most efficient ways to tackle the course. So it cost, after my great start I tried to ride a muddy section and got stuck in the mud! My zip code nemesis and buddy Jason flew by me running.

Fortunately my teammates Joe and Jaden pitted for me. I brought my 28 lb mountain bike. It was soooooo heavy! But I would only ride it at half lap intervals while they cleaned up the ole Redline. I never pitted before, and my first pit I caught my crotch on my mtb seat! Very embarrassing! I hope everyone got a laugh!

So my teammate Gersy was having a killer ride. I kept sliding and falling like an idiot, he was breathing down my neck. In the end I barely beat him, I wish we both could have made the podium. He was truly stronger today but the bike changes did help.

Very happy my parents got to see me get on the podium. Unfortunately my Dad started smoking again and there was a very Belgian moment where he was smoking next to the barriers... Geez! Very gross!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My CX Race Routine

Remember to bring cash or you may have to grab money in the sandpit during the race.

I thought I would share a few notes, hopefully it could help others and this will serve as a good reminder for next year:

Before the Race:
1. Have your directions ready!
2. Pre-Reg if possible, hopefully this is cheaper and is less of a hassle on race day
3. Pack kit bag the night/day before (I always forget something in the morning!)
4. Have that bike nice and clean the day before too!

Morning Nutrition:
I make sure I eat a good breakfast. Perhaps it's oatmeal, fruit and juice. Maybe if I want some real protein I go overboard with a turkey bacon and egg sandwich. I take 1-2 pieces of fruit for snacking on the car ride. I also take something hearty like a sandwich or small meal to consume 3 hours before my race. I drink 32 oz of water on the trip, along with a warm-up bottle, maybe a race bottle, and a recovery drink. Just before my race I take a gel, I've been preferring ones with caffeine for heightened awareness.

I like to arrive 2 hours before the first race, but this is actually 3 hours before my race. So here's how I fill that time:
1. Get my number
2. Get it on the kit!
3. Put bike together, do it right the first time. I think one race this year I forgot to double check my skewer and brakes before taking it out of the car... It can cost you time in the race if something is off.
4. Course preview, start to warm up by getting out on the course and ride it at a relaxed pace.
5. More warm up, or walk the dog, watch how some riders approach technical sections of the course, whatever.
6. During the next open block of time I do hot laps of the course, getting to know what lines to take at speed.
7. During the last race before mine I will watch the start noticing if there are places you could get pinched or wrecks could happen. If I didn't get to before, scout the technical features and how the faster riders are approaching them (Is it better to should vs. suitcase, bunnyhop, or fall-over clumsily?).
8. I like to get on the trainer for half an hour. Warm up slow, and slowly get faster watching your heart rate. By the end hopefully you are up to 85% of your race heart rate, maintaining this at a high cadence for a minute or two. Jump off!
9. Get stuff in the pit!
10. Some short sprints if I have time.
11. Get to the start 5-10 before, stretch, double-check equipment.

1. Wheelsuck
2. Pass
3. Punch spectators who insult you in Flemish
4. Take all the hand-offs if you have time to spare (trick statement, you never have time to spare)
5. Win (I typically forget this step/other dudes with more skillz remember to do this)

1. I like to cool down by riding some more. Perhaps ride over to the pit and get your things.
2. Ride around or jump on the trainer for awhile to cool down. Even chat with other peeps in your race while you ride around the outside of the race course watching the next race.
3. Check results once they are posted (I just got burned NOT doing this!)
4. Pack up and don't forget anything!
5. Go eat with your friends, check out a cool local place and have a good time! Try local beer and sight see. Autumn is one of the nicest times of the year, might as well soak it in and turn race day into a day trip.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Belgian Convict

Euro mullet + faux-hawk + cross beard = trouble.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Race #110: Fan Love

It was the UCI Cincy3 weekend and all the big guns were in town. Thursday night I went to the Jpow and Chris Mayhew clinic. It was a nice refresher, I really need to work on my technique. So at one point we were practicing starts (my weakness) and I ended up having 1 good one -- I look over and I just a bike length behind Jpow. That was sweeeet, but it didn't last long.

So Saturday I was setting up and a couple started pre-riding the course. We started talking and exchanged names, she was Teresa and when I mentioned my name was James she asked if I were Jimmy Roadrash. I had to laugh, I started this nerdy blog as on online diary of my cycling adventures, something to print out and pull out to bore my children some day. I am always honored when people say they read it, I hope they are entertained. So I got to make a cycling friend and I got to root for her the next day.

The next day Matt's son Lucas asked for an autograph. I told him I wasn't a pro and I actually live just down the street. I was honored he still wanted my autograph, it was the first time someone wanted it! I got to sign Jimmy Roadrash next to all my heroes

I was so tired, I thought my race would go poorly. A few nights of sleep deprivation, tons of work stress, and a bunch of physical labor meant I was pretty tapped out! I had a killer headache and I just wanted to take a nap. I decided to race, but to miss the call-up and jump in the back row. I was dead last coming through in the start. But after a half lap I finally felt good again and started riding well. The course was really fun, very muddy and the grass was like a wet carpet. It was awesome to see a pro like Georgia Gould cheering for us! I felt pretty good, took killer lines and ended up 17th. I am very happy with that compared to last year.

Katie Compton the thrasher

This workout is pretty badass! Can be pretty tough, I would suggest to ease yourself into it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Upgrade me please!

I'm praying to Saint Christopher, La Madonna del Ghisallo, Eddie Merckx, Lance Armstrong, Superman and anyone who will listen to have USA cycling please approve my upgrade to a Cat 2. Third time is a charm?

I would like to upgrade my cyclocross license to a Category 2, a conversion based upon my Category 1 XC Mountain Bike license.

I have been racing Elite Cyclocross for the past 2 years with consistent finishes beating many other category 2 riders:
Ohio State Cyclocross Championship Day 1 MEN 35-39 10/22/2011 1 347.49
Lionheart CX Men A 9/10/2011 3 348.87
Ohio State Cyclocross Championship Day 2 Men 1/2/3 10/23/2011 10 317.01
John Bryan Cyclocross Classic Cat 1/2 10/2/2011 16 253.65
Cincy3 Harbin Park Cat 2/3 11/6/2011 17 271.00

I am one of the top ranked Cat 3's in Ohio and I would love to continue my career as a Cat 2.

Thank You,

I hope this works. I know some of the wording sounds "douchy" but I'm trying to sell myself. If I get this, I plan to get my UCI license, race in the Masters CX World Championships and train my little bottom off to race against the Pros in the USGPs and the UCI weekend. If I don't get this, I'll ask for a downgrade to Cat 4 and just sandbag until I win enough socks that I can retire.

Giving back

As a racer there are so many days I show up, throw down, hold out my hand for a prize then go home. Some racers make it a pretty selfish existence.

I love contributing for the greater good, giving back to a culture that I dearly love. Sometimes it's through free or discounted design work, sometimes it hands on labor at races.

A couple weeks ago Matt Bell and I hosted a fun cross race at Devou. It was so fun to sit back and watch others throw down, and to see the race money donated back into a permanent cyclocross course that will continue to make Cincy a cross powerhouse.

Last weekend I had a blast helping set up the Cincy3 Harbin Park race course. It's incredible to be part of a big C1 UCI event, and to see the international pros compete. I'm proud of Mitch and the BioWheels team for putting on such a top-notch event.

I would strongly urge everyone to volunteer whenever they can. I'm sure your local promoters would love any help they can get. It also makes me appreciate what goes into putting on a race. Plus, Bjet and I have been lucky enough to save $500 in race entries this year!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Holy Shit! I love my dog.

Man, I really love my dog Kona. She is a trip, and it's great to have a dog that can share in my love of the outdoors and keep up while we run, hike and ride.

This is my leg-opener ride for last weekend's races. Took out the MTB on some local trails to enjoy the Autumn weather. It had rained a few days before so I took Patrick the Paragon (my mountain bike) so my Rita the Redline (cyclocross bike) would be nice and fresh for the race. I'm glad I did that, I rolled through some very stinky feces perhaps from a horse of someone else's dog. Thus the "Holy Shit!"

Yeah, it's great to share recovery rides and take time to smell the roses with my little four-legged companion. We're lucky she is very good off-leash, and it gets her the exercise she needs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's Gold Baby!

Sweet! I'm the Ohio State Cyclocross Champion, of dudes aged 35-39. Champagne and hookers all night! Okay, maybe not. But I DO have Tom Boonen's haircut.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top of the World, if just for a Day

It looks like I won the perfect attendance award. Twice.

I've raced just about every cyclocross race I can find, searching for results I can be happy with, but most races leave me feeling like I could have done better. Since I'm out there everyweekend I've tallied up enough points to earn top rankings in old dudes in Ohio as well as the OVCX.

I'm still searching for my luck, my fitness and my technique to come together for the perfect race. Only 3 more left in the OVCX, I have a feeling there are many racers lurking in the shadows and I hope to maintain a podium in the overall, but will be just as happy with a top 5.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Race #105, Caught by the short and curlies

A beautiful day in Bloomington! I was just starting to find my groove in the race when my front tubie went flat! I may have caught a thorn during the race or perhaps even before the race.

So after making an inept wheel change I got back out there but I couldn't resist grabbing some dollars from Shamrock Cycle's guru Tim and a chocolate chip cookie from some little girls in the sandpit. I took a bite and stuffed the rest with the money down the front of my skinsuit. It made an interesting photo once I unzipped after the race.

Nice fall weather! And the BioWheels dudes hit Bloomington's Uphill Brewery for some beer and a bite. Bjet and I got to carpool with BioWheels newest Cat 3 Dan, who tore up the Cat 4s. It was nice to have a new friend on a very long car trip.

Although I had another bad day, it was wonderful to see Bjet return to form as she took 3rd place overall and 2nd in the Elite Women's Open.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Commute home along the mighty Ohio.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bjet and I took the day off to celebrate our 4 year Wedding anniversary. A hike with Kona and a leisurely ride on some local trails with a stop for some chocolates!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Preseason (again, what is this, the third time this year?)

I'm getting a bit behind in my tales... It's been fun seeing a lot of you again!

Race #94: Lionhearts CX
Bridget and I missed the 6 Hours of Versailles. I ended up getting busy with work and the last minute registration seemed a bit high to me. I was hoping to go out there and get a podium this year, to top my 4th place finish behind teammates Charlie Miller and Nate last year. Well, it turns out it was a real drag race and my hopes may have been dashed anyway.

So we stayed close to home and kept it cheap. The Lionhearts CX wouldn't take all day and the money went to a good cause.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Best Barriers Ever

Here's a video from yesterday's OVCX race. Man those barriers were tough once my bike got heavy with mud. Jason Karew's barrier/money-grabbing form was incredible! Nate made $25, more than my payout for placing 18th the day before!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cyclocross Tour of Cincy

Bjet's bike is back from the shop so we got to race yesterday and today we went out for a nice ride. We rode the trails through local parks. We just climbed the Devou Lewisburg trail when lightning was starting to flash.

So we sought shelter in Covington's MainStraße Oktoberfest. It rained on our parade for a bit, so we had to cut out ride a bit short but we had fun. We got to ride along the river, climb some hills and look out upon the city and the river.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I could rock some tweed on this


I think I love Shamrock Cycles. They make some sweet bikes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A lovely day

I woke up and there was a chill in the air. The sky was gloomy but in a good way. It's one of those days you sit inside and eat comfort food, watch great movies and listen to jazz. It also felt like great cyclocross weather.

Went to BioWheels to have all my mountain bikes and cross bike ready to race. Brought Kona with me, chilled with Mitch B.S.'in about race stories.

Then I grabbed a quick lunch from Coffee Please in Madiera. Took Kona down to these trails next to the Little Miami river. She ran next to the cross bike and I had a little picnic on the shore while we played fetch with a stick in the water. She swam for about 45 minutes then we hit the trails for another half hour. I was so content. It's days like this I am happy to be alive. Thank God and Grover Cleveland for Labor Day!

Later lil' Bjet and I went for a recovery ride on the mountain bikes on some local hiking trails. I had a bit of fun throwing on my leaders jersey from the day before for a change of pace!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Race #92: A New Classic

Let us step back in time. Europe, steel frames, handlebar mustaches, goggles, dirt roads with muddy ruts from horse-drawn carts. Throw in some sadomasochistic race promoters and voila, one-day classics are born. Paris-Roubaix, Ronde Vlaanderen, Milan-San Remo. I'll never get to race these races. But Andy, Mason and Kyle from Columbus's CapCity have created something treacherous right here in Ohio — a short race compared to the Classics but not short on difficulty. It's called the Frankenbike 50.

The race takes place in Scioto Trails State Park between Chillicothe and Portsmouth. 4,500 feet of the best climbs in Ohio — an abundant crop of Appalachian foothills rise up from the modest Ohio farmland — on gravel forest roads which comprise about half of the race course. Connecting the climbs are some scenic paved roads through valley farms and homesteads. And another twenty percent of the course is what they call "singletrack" but are really horse trails — not the image of beautiful, flowy, groomed mountain bike singletrack that one would love to ride. But what goes up must come down. At the end of each gravel climb there is a section of horse trails that quickly drop back down. Steep, ungroomed trails with loads of humps that prevent erosion. After an extremely harsh winter and wet spring, these trails were covered in down limbs, large rocks from washed out gullies and patches of hoof-pocked mud pits from horseback riders. The race is about 45ish miles long, but Frankenbike 50 sounds better (and when you are done you will be glad there wasn't another 5 miles).

So which bike to ride? Thus the name Frankenbike. A road bike got in the top-10 last year, but the descents were more treacherous this year. A cross bike does well on the gravel and trail, but those downhills almost call for a mountain bike. Cross bikes with disc brakes? Single-speed fully-rigid 29er mountain bike with skinny tire. Almost every iteration you could think of was represented in the top 10 this year.

When I first read the race course description a year ago I knew I had a chance to do well. I felt the combination of climbs and trails might favor my riding style, I do well by maintaining a middle-range of power for long periods of time. Long climbs will dislodge the guys with better bike-handling skills, road sections will wear out the mountain bikers. So I wanted to win. But it's a "Gran FUNdo," one category for all the riders with just one "winner" and the overall goal was just to have fun. So am I a jerk if I wanted to win? Yes, but someone has to right?

This year started with a neutralized roll out to create a community amongst the racers. We could warm up together, keep us safe on public roads and share a few jokes before the first gravel climb separates the pack. In both years of this race, the first climb quickly makes a selection. It's a steady 2 mile climb and once you reach the top there are a bunch of little kicking rollers that make you want to cry. Both years I have made sure to make this selection. This year a large pack stayed together halfway up the climb and I was surprised to see an equal representation of crossers and mountain bikers. And both years one rider has put in a tremendous effort to tear this selection apart and stew us in lactic acid — Trek Store Columbus's Tony Viton is a monster. Last year he was one the front of a group of four (of which I was tailgunning), this year I was in second struggling to keep him within 15 seconds.

We reached the top and began the first technical descent together with a small group of mountain bikers about a minute back. The descent was very treacherous on cross bikes, I was glad I ponied up for the TRP brakes this year. At one point I was going sideways with a leg out and somehow I saved it! That could have been bad. You would be trying to not endo over the water-bars when you would be forced to bunny-hop a tree branch. Meanwhile thorn bushes lined both side to the trail to remind you to stay on course.

Tony's riding was very smooth and once we reached the bottom we looked back to see only one of the mountain bikers made it down but had gained time on us. So we worked together taking pulls although I admit Tony's strong form kept him out in the wind a bit more. And I began to notice a slight lack of pressure in my rear tire. I think that descent had taken a toll on my bike.

Another climb and a descent and the mountain biker had caught up. It was Ben from the Ohio State Cycling Team, and he was clearly a force to be reckoned with. A bond quickly formed and we worked together, chatting between pulls and making sure everyone was okay when the occasional spill happened on the trails. My tire was getting low and I was forced to pull over. I was guessing it was a slow leak so I hit it with some CO2, but it was up to 60 psi. Tony and Ben kept a steady pace up the climb and I chased to catch back up. They even waited about 20 seconds for me at the check point on top of the hill. And alas another white-knuckling technical descent. This time I was surfing down on 60 psi and it felt a bit more like a pogo stick. I lost a little bit of time again and had to work hard to catch back up.

Some of the horse trails featured steep hike-a-bikes. I know they were over 20%, but I have heard GPS computers recording 40%. It's weird to be shouldering your bike walking, and still be out of breath. Ben started to gain an advantage on his mountain bike. And Tony began to feel the effects of the hoof-marks. The trail was so bumpy, where muddy trails had been ridden and now dry resemble something much more akin to the pavé of Paris-Roubaix. Fortunately I have been mountain biking all summer, but I recall riding the trails on my cross bike last spring and feeling the burn in my arms. That along with a death-grip on your cantilever brakes would give anyone a quick case of carpal tunnel. Tony, one of the strongest riders, was worn down by the course.

I passed Tony and was keeping Ben in my sights. After checkpoint 2 Ben had easily gained over a minute. We hit a road section and I thought I could pull him back but I was unable to. My 1x9 was inadequately geared for the steep rollers on the trails, the hike-a-bikes had taken their toll too. I would try to stretch my hamstring and my quad would cramp and vice-versa. All race long I felt like I didn't have a chance. Riding behind strong riders with a leaky back tire. I felt more than ever my chance was slipping away. I refueled hoping to prevent the onslaught of day-ending cramps. As the road eventually tilted upward again I was able to regain contact. Ben and I continued to ride together and this time I made a point to stay on his wheel on the trails.

We hit checkpoint 3 together and Mason was dressed up like a ghoul listening to Misfits and Slayer! Mason said we had a solid lead but warned us of a group of riders charging from behind. Ben and I set out on another long grinding hill together. After about a mile and a half Ben began to slow. I told him I would see him at the bottom, expecting that his sweet 29er would shred the gravel downhills and upcoming trails.

So this is where the sang-froid of racing took over. I knew that my little 1x9 cross bike was no match in a sprint or the final technical down hill. Eventually I lost visual contact with Ben and I put the hammer down. I wanted to win right? Grab the bull by the horns! In my mind I resembled one of my heros of the Classics. Nose to stem, high cadence, crushing every roller. And one last technical descent. I gave it everything I had and in the process flatted the front tire too. I had to ride the last section of singletrack on a flabby tire, every corner feeling like I was in a mud pit. All the while I was assuming Ben was just behind me. I hit the final bit of road and nearly bit it, the flat handled worse on asphalt. Fortunately it was only a few hundred meters to the finish. I did it! I got the win and shaved about 20 minutes off of last year's winning time, but I wouldn't have done this without the strong riding by Tony and Ben.

Now that I race Elite and Expert races, a first place seldom happens and this year I relish each podium. I'm happy to have won such a crazy event. I immediately put on the CapCity jersey that Kyle gave me and watched in amazement as riders came in just behind me. I was surprised not to have seen Ben but another mountain biker come in second. Ben got a flat on that last climb. Mason was right, a group of riders were coming from behind and I was lucky to have held them off. Every rider had a crazy story and many other riders came in with broken spokes and flats. Some riders rarely crashed while other had terrible crashes into the thorn bushes.

It's the second year for the Frankenbike 50. The course was extremely well marked and the neutralized rollout was a wise choice. It was amazing how just 3 volunteers were able to run a 45 mile race!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Driving to Weeknight Races

I either bike commute or take the bus, mainly just to be a snob! So I am not used to rush hour traffic. Whenever I find myself in bumper-to-bumper running late to a time trial outside the I-275 loop I really start to question myself. I saw this online and I try not to think of it while I am sitting there.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Riding with Homies to the Center of the Universe

Had a lovely weekend of long rides with no racing. The cross-country mountain bike races kept me busy all summer, but I really wasn't able to get out for some fun rides. Saturday I would "open legs" for the race, Sunday ride a pre-lap then race. I might ride 5 hours in a weekend, where I would prefer to do two 5-hour rides.

With Frankenbike and Versailles on the Horizon I wanted to get some quality base miles back in my legs. Saturday was a long ride with teammates and minor celebrities. The Best Bike Blog Ever, Cincinnati John from the Two Johns Cycling Podcast, the Pilot... It was hard to get a ride in because we were signing so many autographs. Kidding.

Sunday Bridget and I trained on the course for the 6 Hours of Versailles. It is so lovely out there. We had a nice picnic lakeside after the ride.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bad night!

All I wanted to do was practice cyclocross... Last summer I made sure come July I would practice every couple of weeks. I lost track this year so I was ready to start rehearsing the dance moves.

You see, I am naturally clumsy. Without cross practice I tend to trip over my own feet. And that's what happened last night.

First I was going to head to Kings to practice. Then I felt guilty about my poor puppy so I decided to run her around on the bike then do my neighborhood practice. Kona and I were riding some trails but I was totally clumsy and nearly fell off a small cliff and I endo'd over a small, bunny-hoppable branch. Then I crashed on asphalt scraping myself up and scuffing my brand new white bartape...

Then it happened. I was riding through a field and a stick went up in my derailleur and tore it off. I seriously felt like crying. I was miles from home without a chain tool. Ugh, a beautiful evening ride with my pooch was ruined. I hope my bad luck will end soon.

Oh well, she kind of cheered me up by playing with a cicada. What a character!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bad at Math?

I was doing some rough math, I may have won the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance MTB Race series in the Expert division... I dunno, we'll see. Too early to pop open the fine champagne.

I wonder if Tower gets rescheduled I will have to dust off the Paragon again and defend some points. But from now on I'm focusing on cross and the 6 Hours of Versailles.

Race #89: I got the bonk!

I love England-Idlewild. It is one of my favorite local race courses, along with east Fork and Versailles. I typically do well here and I was looking forward to the race. Could I hold onto my lead over Marty in the CORA series? Could I beat my friend and teammate Matt Fox?

Well the race got off to a vicious start. It was fast and people were jockeying for position. I felt pretty good and I was holding the wheel ahead. There were a few crashes and I gained some spots. At some point there was a miscommunication between Marty and I. He thought I wanted to pass so he got over, I thought he wanted me to pass so I tried. Well, my handlebars hit a tree and I went down. Damn! I lost a handful of spots. Then there were more crashes and I gained the spots back, but only after redlining my little engine.

So I got back up to a pretty good position, maybe even a podium. Foxy was on my wheel and we had a couple riders behind in a pretty tight chase group. The first two laps I could "gas it" and create a separation but I noticed something. All the sections where I typically lay down the law and completely own it, I found myself feeling a bit whooped and not 100%. I kept feeling like I was saving myself for the next lap.

Well, Foxy and the others eventually caught up and held my wheel for half a lap. Then it happened. I missed an opportunity to take a drink and a few minutes later I started riding poorly. I was getting tired. I lost one spot. A few minutes later the wheels fell completely off the wagon and Foxy passed and I went backward. I decided to guzzle water no matter how slow I rode and tried to recover. I was to defend my position and I ended up getting fifth.

It was just a bit frustrating to ride a less than stellar race on this course, but unlike past years where I came on strong riding from the back of the field, this year I was feeling the pressure in the front of the race.

I think I have to make sure my nutrition is worked out a bit better in future cross-country races. I changed my nutrition mid-season and I could feel the effects in the last two races.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Race #88: Deja Vu all over again...

Photos from Brent and Amanda, Podium pic from Dion at

The epic spring rain that hit the Midwest had wreaked havoc upon Caesar Creek. So the race was cancelled and moved back to Hueston Woods. The race was also on a Saturday, the same weekend as KyMBA, OMBC and DINO races — attendance was down. It was only Brent and I in Expert Men. So Philip merged the Expert and Sport class. It really spiced things up! I was happy to have more people to throw down against.

I was still a bit tired from John Bryan so I felt like I wasn't killing it. But I guess that John Bryan really gave me some fitness because even though I wasn't going 100%, my first 3 lap times were pretty comparable. After lap 1 I was 5th place overall, and 2nd in Expert (obviously since there was only 2 of us). I tried to keep it consistent and I reeled in 4th as he had a mechanical, and eventually I passed Darrin to be 3rd overall.

Actually my 3rd lap was the best, I cleaned most of the technical stuff. Earlier in the race the fatigue from John Bryan made me dismount everything and I had to do cyclocross practice. The sport guys finished and about that time I fell apart. I noticed I lost 3-4 pounds the day before and I didn't realize that I was dehydrated the morning of the race. I think I ended up bonking and barely made it in the 4th lap! I was lucky no one was there to woop me!

After the race I got to hang out with Dion and Jeni in Downtown Oxford. It was nice to make a day of it. The weather has cooled and it's made for some lovely rides and hanging out outside.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Races #81, 83 and 87: Plagued by Mechanicals

I love the Harbin Time Trials. They are great training races for cyclocross, the course offers a lot of short punchy climbs and corners to power out of. Typically you race in brutal heat and it really tests your fitness.

7/14 Bastille Day Chain Suck
Lap 1: 24:08
Lap 2: 26:06
0:50:14, 4 out of 9
I was still rocking the same bent up chain since Mohican, so I finally got to change it that day. Well, I didn't realize that my chain rings were toast. I spent most of the race on the side of the trail putting my chain back on (I was getting major chain suck). My legs felt great and I really think I could have easily had first or second. Oh well, at least the mechanical in the training race gave me time to fix it before the next race.

7/21 Psyched Out and Baked
Lap 1: 24:05
Lap 2: 24:42
0:48:47, 2 out of 12
I didn't see any of the usual favorites so I got pretty psyched I could win. I went out the gate like a banshee — riding a bit too rabid and ending up putting my wheel wrong a few times. At one point I ran right into a tree! I was burning myself up, the heat index was near 110F, and I was drained by the time I hit the rollers at the end of the first lap. I decided to ride smarter on the second lap and put in effort on the power sections.

I went pretty fast compared to previous weeks but it was no use. I wasn't as fast as my best time last year, and there was one rider who rode even faster...

8/11 Oops
DNS (Did not start)
My pedal fell off during my warmup. It was 3 years old and had seen a ton of muddy races. I have some replacements at home, and I was really just thankful that it didn't happen during a race where I was doing well. It was nice just to watch my friends, continue to recover from my John Bryan effort. I got to soak up some beautiful weather and even hit the trails low and slow after the race with my dog Kona. She is a blast to ride with, she made the trip worth my while and I felt so happy and content with the day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The weather has cooled and it feels a bit like Autumn. Clear and sunny, I took a quick break to enjoy the view on my way into work.