Sunday, October 28, 2007

DCCX - The Sandbaggers Ball

I decided late in the week to register for the DCCX race. My week was pretty lazy as far a training and I wanted to go have good time on the 'cross bike so this seemed like a low key event within the MABRA community although not part of the series. To top it off, it had rained most of the week and the conditions for a good 'cross race were ripe. It was also nice only traveling 45 minutes to a race.

On my warm-up lap I was surprised at how dry the course was, only one soggy section in the lower area around the pit, so much for a good old fashioned mudder, a la EVO/Guys from last year.
As I returned to the car I run into Morgan who was frantic about his bike not shifting. I tried to help him out but without tools and a stand and more time, I couldn't help him. My advise was to find a bike to borrow, he returned with HvT's pit bike which was a bit small for him. He also informed me Russ Langley was in the B race, WTF? I'm sorry, I don't mind getting beat by people I know are a bit more fit than I am, but when a guy who's a Cat 1 and has held a Pro license and ridden on a US Continental Pro team shows up to an event like the DCCX and races in the B field, I have to cry SANDBAGGER. The MAC, not so because I know he would have been taken to school on a more technical course with a lot stiffer competition.

Steve Fife from ETS gave it a good go at staying with him but that lasted until the long paved/gravel section on the first lap. From then on I wanted to vomit every time I heard the announcer call out Russel the Muscle.

At the start line I figured I needed all the good karma I could find so as Morgan was still flipping out over not fitting HvT's bike, I told him to go get my pit bike after he sized up my A bike and felt it was good fit.

I managed a good start even from 4 rows back working my way in to the top 15 and found myself in a large chase group being lead by Bernie who was riding really strong and took a podium spot.

On the second lap our chase group was still together, I was on Sam O'Keefe's wheel at the back of the train. Riding strong in his first B race, he started to let a gap open and I decided I needed to get around him. Unfortunately I picked a bad section to go and dumped it in a rough, bumpy section. The worst part was my remount, after gathering myself off the ground, I manage to propel my bike forward as I'm remounting and miss my saddle, landing on my rear wheel. Not a good feeling. I went from top 10-12 to some near the 20's. Later that lap on the paved section I was trying to identify the crunching, grinding sound of carbon coming from one of my wheels when I missed the curve to the left and t-boned the guy on my right who was making the turn, fortunately I didn't take him down, but I rolled to a stop and watched several more spots go by me.

I dug it out the rest of the race, rode clean lines, dropped wheelsuckers who didn't want to stick their nose into the wind and fought my way back to a respectable 9th. Left a bit more flesh and blood out on the course again this weekend.

The B bike seeing some action.Enjoying a nice, short trip home, Gina and I grabbed some food from Frisco Burrito and relaxed to a nice whooping of the Redskins at the hands of the Patriots. A bit bored of that after the first half, we decided to break into the baby stuff and start putting things together. We started with the stroller which turned out to be broken so we moved on to the bouncy, swingy thing. Boulder is in love with this, especially the mobile animals.
7 more weeks, please don't come early.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gut Check

I only manage to get up before 8am on the weekends, and only if riding my bike is involved.

Saturday, Granogue 'Cross. 6am wakeup, shower, feed the dogs then load up Special Sauce. Gina was a trooper and was ready to hit the road by 7:30 and everything was going well so far for getting to the race with plenty of time to scout out the course and warm up. That's about as good as my race day would get.

A quick stop at Cafe Bagel for some grub turned into a 20 minute delay as our order got "lost". Still managed to arrive on time to get a lap in after the C Men's race. After the B Masters I decide to take another lap, my race isn't until 12 or so right? WRONG. New race schedule to accommodate the A Masters race pushed us up to 11. As I'm finishing up another warm-up lap I look down to see my race roll onto the start line. F@$%! I'm not even in my race kit. Roll to the start then hurry to the car to try and rip off my clothes and climb into my skin suit, not an easy task. I make it to the start line with about a minute as Gina and some guy from EVC help pin my numbers on, oh yeah, I squander what would have been at least a second row call up and was sent to the back of the race, DFL in a 75+ rider field.

I always race well at Granogue, I just never get a good result. Saturday was no exception, I rode clean lines picking off groups of riders every lap and was technically on, legs were a bit dead on the long climb up to the tower but other than that is was a good race. Mentally, I wanted to just bag it from the start knowing there was little chance of moving up and then having landed on my right man bean on my first remount. I managed to finish 36th, not great, but it was a moral victory.
Today, repeat early morning ritual from yesterday minus the Cafe Bagel stop as I look for a bit of redemption at Wissahickon. I wasn't planning on racing and I knew I wouldn't get a call up since I didn't pre-reg but I figured I could at least scrum for 3rd or 4th row. I managed 4th row. At 15 sec to go before the start the gun goes off, nice. I'm barely clipped in and getting up to speed when I see a rear wheel in the air and hear the screeching of brakes. With no where to go I slam into the guy in front of me who had stopped with some guys on the ground in front of him. After untangling myself from him and checking to see if my front wheel is ok, I look down to take a quick check and see my chain is off. By the time I get the chain back on and look up I only see the dust trail from the end of the race, F@$%!, another blown start. Even worse than yesterday.

Yeah, that's me waaaay back there, the blur looking down at the ground as everyone goes around us.

I just wanted to walk right off the course, what was the point? I decided that wasn't why I was here and instead of getting to ride a steady pace in a chase group, I'm now throwing it down out of every turn and long straight section on every lap like I'm leading out the last lap with a small gap. Again I'm able to ride to another moral victory in this debauchery. I spent most of the race passing guys who couldn't ride their bikes in the technical sections but would get repassed. I couldn't hang around for the race results so not sure how far back I was.

I love 'cross so regardless of my fitness, I'm going to race and leave it all out on the course, for better or for worse, just like everyone else.
Unfortunately these may be my only two MAC races of the season, the baby is coming and the house still needs some work.

I miss it already.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Matter of Time

There are certain things in life that are inevitable, given time. Death and taxes are for certain and if you ride and race on the road long enough, so is meeting the pavement in the most unpleasant ways. In ten years or riding on the road I can count on one hand the number of times I've hit the deck, twice. Although I've ridden around, through and even over crashes in road races I've never gone down in one, the one thing you learn from riding mountain bikes is handling and it comes in handy on the road just as well.

The first time I went down on pavement was about 8 years ago, while practicing sprints my chain dropped from the 53 to the 39 causing me to slam my chest onto the stem then fishtail until finally laying it down at 30mph. Big patch of skin missing from my hip but nothing major.

Last weekend after the Bagel ride, I had a close call coming into my neighborhood after the ride. I always practice my high speed turns on the intersection at the bottom of the hill but last week for some reason I decided to not hit the turn hard and it was good timing. I hadn't noticed that my rear tire had a slow leak and was well below a reasonable pressure for leaning hard into turns at speed but I was still traveling fast enough for the tire to start to roll off the rim. Fortunately I reacted quickly enough to correct myself but it was almost too much and was close to pulling a Joseba Beloki '03 TdF maneuver and flipped sideways. Bike handling to the rescue.

Today I wasn't so lucky and now I have two road crashes to my palmares. After another Bagel ride I again wasn't looking to take this turn at speed, although I did check before hand to make sure my tire wasn't going flat. As I approached the turn I leaned into it as usual and prepared roll through it until I noticed a wet spot in the faux brick crosswalk. Already leaning I knew grabbing a handful of brakes was the quickest way to hit the deck. Instead I tried to stand the bike up and straighten out my line and roll straight through the intersection. No dice. No sooner did I try to sit the bike up I was on my head in a heap in the intersection. It was a weird fall, even though I was moving I pretty much just hit the ground and stopped, maybe with a slight skid for good measure. Fortunately I was wearing knee warmers and arm warmers, the latter of which were pulled down so when I hit the pavement they bunched up partially covering my naked hands. Even with the knee warmers, I lost a fair amount of skin. Let's just say this wasn't in my plan for preparing for Granogue this weekend.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Operacion Alcoba de la Bebe: aka Operacion Destruccion

10 1/2 weeks. That's all the freedom I have left. The technician said she's never seen a baby stick its tongue out during an ultrasound, well here's your first. Time has been slipping by at a pretty good clip lately. We're well into October already, another two 'cross races have gone by and I still haven't raced but Granogue is less than two weeks away. May be my one and only 'cross race this year. I've been feeling good on the bike and was having a good practice last week until I rolled through a broken beer bottle and flatted a tubular practicing starts. I'll never buy Tufos again, just too much money for something that can't be repaired.

This weekend was Gina's baby shower so we came home Saturday with a car full of loot, too bad it's all for the baby. The gift from our friends Bill and Kyle was a hit, especially with Boulder. The dogs aren't quite sure what's going on, they know something is up and it's going to affect them they're just not sure what it is yet.

Today I started work on the baby's room, formerly the dogs room. Ripped up the carpet and tore out the drywall preparing to put up wood paneling.
They are definitely worried now that the door is closed and they're not allowed in there.