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.


  1. Thanks "Effort!"

    This is my fourth year racing and each year marks progress. I have a boat-load of wonderful memories from this year and I have plenty of room for more progress next year!