Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cyclocross Commute

I picked up Bjet after work and we hit some of our favorite cyclocross spots a couple of weeks ago. This spot in particular has this lovely field where you can watch the sunset of the ridges of Indian Hill. We did some loose training just to get the feel back, get our body used to some of the "dance moves" (I always feel CX is 1/10 ballet).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Watching stage 3 of the Midwest Regional Championship and having a Bourbon Barrel Stout from Great Crescent Brewery. They are working on starting up a brew pub.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weird Sensations in my Legs

The weirdest thing has been happening lately (kind of since I got back from Oregon). I've been feeling pretty slow but somehow my efforts have been fooling the clock and I have been putting in decent times in time trials, races, etc. I rode a 7:18 at the EITT.

Last week I did a quick power test — just one climb up Kuglar. My average watts were higher and my quick accelerations were stronger (I need to double check all the numbers though).

I've been hitting the Devou trail for some fun "hill repeats" the past couple of weeks. Mott Sauce and I did one climb at effort, and I put in a 12:22 time. Last year during Irey's Super D-light I had an 11:38 in the uphill TT. My time wasn't so bad today despite a sloppy crash when I was throwing my bike around trying to climb like a rabid dog.

I better keep an eye on the calendar, CX season is just around the corner. Maybe some fun weeknight CX training here and there. I wouldn't mind another attempt at my personal hour record again soon, I'm gunning to beat the Henri Degrange record of 21.94 miles in one hour.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tour de Trails

Some baseballs fans try to visit every baseball park in their lifetime. I thought it might be fun to see all the local trails this year.

Tower Park, Haven't ridden since the race in 2009!
General Butler, Check!
England-Idlewild, Check! I like this park I usually hit these trails a lot.
Devou Trails, I hit'em last night. Great hill repeats and fun downhills!

Paint Creek, Never been there!
Mount Mitchell, Never been there!
Keehner Park, Never been there!
Huffman MetroPark, Never been there!
Hueston Woods, Raced there last weekend, didn't hit all the trails.
Landon-Deerfield, Haven't been there since December of 2009.
Caesar Creek, Not yet this year but racing there soon.
John Bryan, Not yet this year but racing there soon.
East Fork, My home court.

Versailles, Check! This was often dry when Cincy trails were wet this spring. Great Trails!
Brown County, Not yet this year. Hopefully Bloomington CX weekend...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Race #82: Hot hot hot!

It was really cool racing at Hueston Woods. Like General Butler, this is another classic race course that I am getting to race for the first time. Similar to Butler, it is an older style of trail building that is very roller coaster: killer climbs and fast descents.

This week has been chaotic with Patrick the Paragon (my Gary Fisher mountain bike). First, two chain rings needed to be replaced (I spent most of the Harbin time trial off the trail fiddling with my chain suckage) then a crank arm bolt stripped and my crank arm fell off when I went for a ride! Mitch and the Crew at BioWheels saved the day and replaced my crankset at the last minute! They really saved my keester and my CORA race series points.

Geez it was hot today! I think my fitness is still a little off and I really suffered out there. Not to mention that I couldn't handle a bike worth a darn. The race started out semi fast, not like East Fork. I jumped on the front for a second but my legs didn't feel that great and I let Marty and Brent have the hole shot (I wig out if someone is sitting on my wheel sometimes).

They were going pretty fast. I think I let about 10 seconds open up and I tried to close the gap drilling an uphill when my front tire slid out. Perhaps I was riding sloppy because I overheated. So I cooled down and tried to protect my third place and rode efficiently in the hopes of poaching a spot but those guys were more than a minute ahead now.

I felt like I was in no man's land until about lap 3. A rider was coming within striking distance of me. Like last week I kept gunning it whenever I could but I started overheating and riding sloppy again. There were quite a few technical uphills and I kept coming off the bike and having to cyclocross sprint up them! Somehow I caught Marty (I think he overheated too, it was 92F) and I tried to keep this other rider at bay. I worried I might blow and cramp and crop to 4th.

That other rider caught me at the end of lap 3 and I was lucky it was a rider in another race. But I still had to protect my spot. I took my last gulp of water at the beginning of my last lap and had to hope that I wouldn't cramp and have Marty catch me. I swear he was just behind me. I think I got a second wind, tried to ride as smooth as possible and somehow I pulled off my second place! I nearly melted from the heat and the pressure and my brain kept daydreaming about water and it kept telling me to quit.

Many huge thanks to BioWheels, this is the third time they have come to my rescue and fixed my bike last minute for a race, each time I have gotten on the podium! My career would be nothing without them!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tour Fever

I love when the people really get into showing the world why they should come visit France, these farmers would make great synchronized swimmers. What a display. I guess there is a contest that they are trying to win.

Race #80: No Place like Home

Photos by Cindy Gay

East Fork was my introduction to Expert Cross Country mountain bike racing last year and what an experience it was. I had turned myself inside out, putting in one of my fastest rides ever — only to come in last place. This is the trail I ride most all year long (when we are not being drenched by weeks of monsoons) so I know every pebble and twig. And on such a fast trail this is a huge advantage for me.

I wasn't feeling that great after my return from vacation and was really worried about how bad it could go for me. But looking at last year's result I couldn't do worse!

East Fork always starts with a road section featuring a long climb, it does a great job of selecting the best riders for the hole shot. This year it was really fast and to my surprise I was hanging in there. The field split but I grabbed Marty's wheel to get up to the front group. We caught the group and Marty kept riding up the side of the train, he was really flying. I was happy to be tailgunner. I did get gapped up a set of little rising rollers but teammate Joe was there to help pace me back up.

I followed Joe into the trail. I figured it would be wise to follow his wheel due to his expert handling and experience. Joe set a great pace on the first lap and I was happy to sit in and pace myself because I knew it would be a long day. It was really hot and going too hard too early may lead to an epic blow-up or extreme cramps. Karwash caught us and we caught up on life —longest conversation I have ever had in a race...

I went harder on the second lap trying pull in riders who might be suffering. The second lap was pretty uneventful but the third was glorious! On the third lap I felt complacent and in no-man's land. I think I started riding a bit slow on the singletrack. The sound of disc brakes woke me back up and reignited my effort. I always let another stronger rider pass and this rider behind me got within 10 seconds and I was about ready to pull over and let him pass.

But part of me wanted to be hard to catch so I got really aggressive and started gunning it again. I think I was riding faster than on the first lap. I went into time trial mode, wisely selecting parts of the course where I could excel and being cautious on sections where I was likely to crash. The rider behind me was really solid and would usually come back within 15 seconds on technical sections. Each power section I gunned it, each hill was crushed. There would be silence from behind for a few moments and eventually squeal of breaks would return.

There was one last long hill on the trail. I gave it everything I had at the bottom, you would think I was trying to win the Tour de France. But by the top I was wasted. I was feeling a cramp coming. I burned the last match with a quarter lap to go. Was it enough?

Nothing but silence from behind. I rode up the final hill to the finish line checking over my shoulder every 5 seconds.

Wow, that was exhilarating! I managed to come in 8th, I am very happy with that race. Not a bad start to the 2011 Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance Race Series. Bjet did one better, she won!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Races #77-79, Races of Good Dirt and Truth

Mark Rodgers created a new event this year, a fun little lap highlighting the new trails at England-Idlewild. A short little race but a great burst of effort to get us ready for the racing season.

6/9 Post-Mohican Legs
Lap 1: 7:51
Lap 2: 7:54
Lap 3: 7:50
0:23:35, 10 out of 22

Little Bjet was my Domestique. She set a really good pace and I gapped her at the end of the race, but we ended up finishing with the same time, both of us tied for 10th place!

6/16 Legs Well-Rested
Lap 1 7:30
Lap 2: 7:37
Lap 3: 7:36
0:22:43, 4 out of 20

It rained a few days before, I was worried it would be cancelled. But the sun was shining, I was riding on the flowy dirt with the sun shining through the trees, we had Kona the dog hanging with us. Good trails, friends and dogs. What a day! I did my best to really gun it and I came in 4th. The fast guys like Brent, Marty and Darrin were really flying — my heroes!

I have some old BioWheels jerseys and I like to pull them out from time to time, kind of like football teams play 1 game a season with a retro kit.

7/7 Vacation Legs
Lap 1 7:18
Lap 2: 7:42
Lap 3: 7:39
0:22:39, 7 out of 22

I don't know if it was the cooler weather in Oregon, or if I drank too much beer and didn't ride enough, but I felt like molasses on 2 wheels all week long. Surprisingly enough, my 1st lap was way faster than before. I thought it would be funny to wear a skinsuit, maybe it really helped! Unfortunately this one rider would not get off the trail on my second lap and I had to come to a halt and ride real slow for about 20 seconds at least. Oh well, it's a training race!

Overall I really improved week to week. In all honesty I am not the best bike handler and even found this course challenging at speed. The course really helped me work on some of these skills and I want to thank Mark for setting up a really cool event!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bend it like Roadrash

Saturday we went to Bend to ride some killer trails. We rented some sweet bikes from Sunnyside Sports — Bjet rode a Top Fuel and I rode a Gary Fisher Rumblefish. They are a top notch shop and the bikes were tuned to perfection, it was a blast to ride a bike that is better than my own and 1000 times better than the clunkers we rented in the McKenzie River Valley.

We left the shop and rode out to the Phil's Trail Complex, a great trail system that can probably be ridden nearly year round. Lots of flow, lots of climbing!

Bend is on the east side of the mountains, and more arid than the typical Pacific Northwest environment. It felt a bit more like Denver than Portland. But trails like "the Helipad" would feature volcanic rock (in this pic we took a break on a little volcano).

We started out around an elevation of 3600', rode up to the trail head at about 3900', then up to this awesome shelter at about 4750'. The shelter is a great safety feature for Winter Warriors, I could imagine hiker, cross country skiers and even maybe some crazy snow-mountain bikers and huddling around the fire having a wee "Après. or after party.

I wish I had a better camera, but here is a view of Mount Bachelor from the shelter area. Stunning! The valley leading to the mountain was lined with rocky Buttes, I wish I could have ridden out there for days!

After the shelter we rocked a fun downhill called "Whoops," full of table tops and up-and-down rollers. We climbed Phil's trail up to the "HeliPad" (and very small clearing with rocks arranged in an H symbol, I don't know if this is actually used to evacuate injured cyclists) at about 5000'.

We then went down a fun descent called "The Storm King,' then onto a more technical trail called "C.O.D" (Cause of Death? yikes!). Unfortunately we ran out of food and water at about 4 hours of riding so we were forced to head back and stop by a time-share resort for calories.

It was fun to ride back and forth from the trail — it's great to have trails you can easily commute to (i.e, Hurray for Devou in Cincy!). There is a possibility that we could move to Bend someday, and it was great to use the commute as a way to see the town and get a sense of what a typical training ride would be like if we lived there. Even along the road there was a multitude of off-road options, Bend is a town that's great for outdoor enthusiasts.