Monday, October 26, 2009

The 'Lil Belgian and When 1+1 Equals 0

Apparently Maddy has grown like weed over the summer. When Nanny bought her this bike at the beginning of June, she could just reach the pedals. This weekend I had to adjust the thing her legs are so long.
She still needs helps pedaling and steering but I'm pretty sure by next year she'll be ready for the 'Lil Belgians races. Other than that she's grooming herself to be class clown for the class of 2025.
Not quite sure what she'll want to be when she grows up. She has a lot of energy and like flinging herself around the house and having me throw her in the air, drop her from my shoulders, spin her around or pretty much anything that would make a normal kid want to throw up, coupled with her love of airplanes I'm thinking a skydiver/stunt girl.

Next few weeks before the baby comes should be interesting. Fortunately our daycare provider has bee watching her granddaughter for the past couple of months so Maddy is getting acclimated to having a baby around, just not in her own house. We also need to move her from the crib to a regular bed, not sure how this will work out as she can get wound up a bit in her crib and likes to bounce. What's that kids song about some monkey's, a bed and the Dr.? I think this will be her, on more than one occasion.

Last week we took her to Ellioak Farm again to pick out her pumpkin. After a pony ride and chasing chickens and baby goats around, she finally found a pumpkin.
'Cross season has been moving along pretty quickly, hard to believe it's the end of October already. The weather going into last weekend was just plain nasty for Granogue and Wissahickon and I was run down on the verge of a cold all week. A NorEaster blew in with temps in the 40s and lots of rain, can't believe everyone didn't get sick. Wish I were, would have had a nice excuse for some shitty riding, of course throwing my back out Saturday 6:30 morning loading the EZ-Up into the back of Nystrom's car certainly didn't help. By the time we got to the race I couldn't stand up straight and walked like I had a hunched back.

'Cross is just not one of those disciplines you can jump back into and pick right back up with, especially riding the mud.
Granogue was more of a running race while Wiss was more pedaling but a tentative pedaling where the slightest extra power put you on your ass. I didn't fair well on either course, the amount of runnig at Granogue was not helping my back situation then with less than a lap and a half to go, I had my rear derailleur sheared off way too far from the pit to make it worth the run.

Wiss I just didn't have the skills in the mud and floundered around like a donkey on ice skates even after recovering from a lap 1 crash when some guy takes out my front wheel dumping me in the largest puddle of freezing water in the corral. Notice you can't see my shoes.
I went down with both hands in the drink and for the next lap and a half I could barely shift or brake they were so cold. Fared much better the rest of the race through that turn but by then I was so far back it was pointless, ended up getting pulled as the race for the win was going to end in a two up sprint behind me. I think Wiss my rank as the worse race I think I've ever had.
This past weekend was the DCCX race at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in DC. I didn't do this race last year but I remembered liking the venue and course for the most part. They made some nice changes to it so it flowed better and had a good mix of fast open sections and short technical power sections. Still a very roadie friendly course with only one set of barriers on a short incline to force the dismount. I was registered for the 3/4 and the Master's A race but with my upgrade to a 2 and still not feeling 100% I bagged the 3/4. The Master's race started of like the C men's with a crash right off the line. For once I wasn't behind it or near it enough to affect my start and I settled into the top 15. The front group of 5 or 6 split on the out and back into the wind and it was simply a matter of riding smooth and moving up in the group to gain position for the later laps when legs tire and the driving gets sloppy. Going into the fast decent and turn before the barriers on the third lap I have the now all too familiar feel of my back end going out on me and some one says "you rolled a tire". Fantastic. The one thing I now dislike most about the DCCX course is the very uneven distribution of the pit. Basically, if you have a mechanical soon after passing the pit on the second pass, you have a long way to go, like all but 400m of the 3km or so course. Seeing that I was never going to run that far I pulled the plug. This really pissed me off because I was having a good race despite feeling sick all week and still training with the intent of maybe not racing at all. Looking at the result I could have been close or even in the top 10 based on the guys I was with.
I was getting ready to pack it up and go home when I thought about racing the Elite race, what the heck? I checked with registration and they were willing to transfer my 3/4 entry. I found a ride home so Gina and Maddy could leave, can't let that girl skip nap time, Maddy either. Race started out fast but avoided an early bottle neck coming off of the pavement and found myself top 15 again and again the race blew apart on the out and back road section into the wind. I settled in and found myself riding mostly alone this time. Legs were tired and sore and the back was starting to give in to the bumpy terrain a bit. I passed a few guys including Chris Schmidt who's a freaking beast on the road so that gave me motivation to keep pushing. A few more laps of just riding a steady pace picking clean line and BAM, around a tree headed to the start/finish my rear tire hooks up on some tacky ground and rips my rear tire from the rim. Two rolled tires in one day in two separate races, I had some bad mojo working against me. Oh well, I put in a solid effort and was thoroughly whipped.

Two races with zero results, at least it was a fun course.

Monday, October 05, 2009

What We Don't Want We Need the Most

For the most part, I think humans are pretty stupid when compared to most species of animals roaming this planet. I think it's the fact that we are capable of higher levels of thought (or at least think we are) that makes us this way. We tend to ignore common sense, which is nothing more than instinct really. All species through evolution have developed a specific set of instincts that have allowed them to survive, those species that have been around the longest are also the ones that rarely if ever go against their instincts. So why do we humans ignore our instincts? Probably because we think we're smarter than a few million years of evolution.

Athletes are probably some of the worst offenders among us. We're so intent on pushing ourselves to improve that we forget to stop for a second and take a break. I for one am a habitual offender of my own instincts and my body's signals to stop and take a rest. A few weeks ago I had a pretty decent crash on a training ride, removed some skin sliding on the pavement and twisted my right knee as I went down. Get up, ride home, throw some neosporin and gauze on my wounds and move on. Following week I throw down a few hard training days capped off on Thursday with a spin on the SS mtn bike. Wake up Friday and my knee is killing me, can't bear weight without shooting pains down my leg. Ok, maybe I need to rest it so I take Friday off even though I'm racing Saturday. I usually ride the day before a race to open the legs up but I listened to my body and used some common sense and stayed off of the knee. I wasn't concerned about Saturday as it wasn't a priority event anyway.

Saturday morning I wake up and the knee is still sore but it's race day so I pack up my bikes and meet up with Mike to head up to Hagerstown for the BCA 'cross race. I skipped this race the last two years but heard that they had made some improvements in the course. Warming up I realized I was still really tired from the week but that my knee didn't seem to hurt on the bike. My warm-up was less than sufficient and the start was fast with some long open grass sections between turns that required a lot of gas to stay on the wheel in front. Unfortunately, I slotted in behind some Coppi guy who I knew from the week before as having very poor technical skills. I desperately wanted to pass him but before I could get around him it was too late, he lays it down in a turn and I'm going too fast to cut inside to avoid him and endo on top of him and his bike. By the time we get untangled the field has almost completely gone by. I start to chase and get in with a group but starting the second lap my chain drops into my wheel twice, both times requiring me to get off and remove it. By that time I'm almost DFL and there's still 7 laps to go, the doubt begins to creep in for the first time this season, should I just bail, is it worth it to keep going? The thoughts went through my mind several times. This wasn't a priority race, I was already tired and injured and my bike sounded like a hanging muffler being scrapped along the road.

I pushed on catching guys one by one until I was at least back in the top 20 with a shot at some series points. Then, just before the start of the last lap I make a turn to drop down a small hill when I feel my bike's backend go out and a weird feeling of something holding me back. I look down and my rear tire had rolled off of the rim, fantastic. I'm a good 500 yards or so from the pit so I begin to run, on a bad knee which was screaming at me to stop while everyone I spent the last 6 laps chasing down ride past me.
As I run through the start finish my plan was to just stop but Gina was there yelling at me to get to the pit, so I trudged on. My teammate Stephen found my bike and helped me get going again. Managed to not finish DFL but also didn't make up any of the spots I lost.

Maybe this was a sign that I should have sat this race out, maybe I shouldn't have and it was a "character building" experience. All I know is that the knee is not happy but I want to go ride and I'm doing everything I can to keep myself from throwing a kit on and heading out the door, namely writing this post.

A few things I realized:

- No matter who you are or how you are doing, people cheer for you at a cross race like you're winning the thing
- Gina is a great supporter and I thank her for putting up with this sport, that is cycling in general, not 'cross specifically
- I love getting off of the bike after a hard race and seeing Maddy
- Sometimes we're to stupid or ignorant or arrogant to keep from being our own worst enemy