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!