Sunday, December 28, 2008
On my ride yesterday, I found that I was facing a bit of a crisis towards the end. Before my bike trail incident, I started to feel a bit of a ticking in one of my pedals. Damn! The pedals are my next to last set of Sampson Stratic pedals from the 90s. These pedals are the absolute best pedals for cornering. Over the years, they have bought me an advantage in more than one race since you can pedal through even the tightest of turns without clipping them on the ground. I usually scare the hell out of someone following me through the turns when I do that since I can lean the bike over so far with them. Unfornately, you can only find them on ebay these days and that isn't very often anymore. I think there are 4 or 5 others in the country who bid on them and it has gotten competitive over the last couple years. They usually only last a couple years, but the amount of float and cornering clearance makes them so awesome. Now I find myself at the point of having to make a decision. Do I look for another pedal system or post out to the world to start sending me their old Sampsons and cleats so I can forever remain in the world of 1990s pedal systems. I've fought the conversion question for so long now it's almost like renouncing my religon. Do I remain a heathen or move on to the next great thing?
Friday, December 26, 2008
The team is forming up and everyone is getting pretty antsy about the new year. We had some very good results last year in the West Virginia series with Adam nearly taking the whole thing ahead of Gunnar. Staying out of the wind a bit more and learning to be a bit more wiley about tactics would have giving it to him but he did an awesome job. I'm considering doing some more of the 123 races to help him out this year as I'm really motivated to get back to the level I was at before the nasty wreck I had 4 years ago. The body has recovered, but I've had some problems with my ability to really make myself hurt isn't quite to where it once was. Still, I've won at least a couple races in the last 4 years with 2 years ago the number hitting 7. I'm looking to have another year where I've posted in the neighborhood of 10. I've done that a couple times and I liked it. I'm also looking to raise the game on the mountain bike this year as well. Last year the bike handling was noticeably better and in races, I was finding myself looking for where I was going to go rather than looking out for where not to go. I noticed my ability in this was really there at the Iron Cross this year. I'd gotten passed by a large number of riders on the long road climb before the fire road to the first big single track section. Of the large groups that passed me, I caught and passed back almost all of them and even left the group that I eventually wound up with in the end by almost a minute. (I dropped them in the end, thanks to the 50 tooth chainring and the big road descent). I was feeling the course and moving with it so I didn't have that 'beat up' feeling like I had the previous year. Even though I got stomped in most of the races this year, I think I'm finally ready to get the form back up to where it had been, shed the 10-15lbs I've been trying to get rid of for the past 10 years, and am finally feeling that aggresive streak that I had just a few years back when some of the bigger guns in the region were starting to notice from me. If all goes well, maybe we'll have a few more podium spots and wins for the team next year. Here's hoping.....nah forget about hoping, we're going to do it.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
They keep on coming and it's not long before you see the second one.
And then...well you get the idea... It goes on for around a dozen signs.
Finally, after getting all excited about arriving at the destination, you turn off the exit and here it is. It's a goofy little store and they do have a website too!
If you're into little novelty things from yesteryear, this is the place for you. I think they are able to capitalize on the fact that you've just been driving forever and are so excited about seeing something other than the occasion house or truck stop, that you'll buy lots of memorabilia that they have. It didn't seem to change any from last year but it's an odd little store to see. It did also break up the drive a bit and on the flip side of the highway, you have Ozarkland and a McStop. I didn't get a pic of the McStop but it was something different that we noticed on the way back. It's amazing how easily amused you are after 11+ hours in the car.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
On Friday, we got to the course and I was able to do 5 laps on the course and then got myself ready to pit for Betsy and Gunnar. We wound up not being busy at all since the course was drying out. So I did my part in being ready and cheering people I knew on during the race. Betsy had a decent ride and finished 10th and Gunnar at least made the race entertaining after the few riders up front had ridden off. After starting fairly far back and beating his way into the top ten, he started falling back but then made a race of it for the last podium spot. He fell short but it was still a really good ride.
My race on Saturday didn't go well from the start. I missed a pedal and lost around 30 spots right from the gun. I got back in and started weaving through riders as they slowed to come off the pavement and then gunned it through the first turn. I'd hit it just right and was flying up the stretch and straight into the wreck that happened just as I got there. The race ended right there. I was in a big gear with fallen riders all around me. Damn. I tried to get restarted, but the morale had just taken too big a dive. I rode it out with a few others and we had our own little race within the race. I was winning that fight til towards the top of the fourth hill, I snapped a chain. This was starting to piss me off. I trotted the bike over the top section but the couple guys I was racing with, passed me by. Through the run-up section at the top, I wound up catching and passing one of them and then actually out coasted him through the next long dip towards the descent back down. It took a few hundred yards for the rider to finally catch and pass me. When I'd slow down, I'd get off and run the bike up to speed and coast it til I needed to repeat the process. All the while, I was shouting 'I wouldn't say no to a push, people'. I made it to the pits and got the spare bike and was off for the little bit of race that was left to me. At the end, I'd gotten lapped and it was the end of a dismal day.
After a painful Saturday night of getting the backup bike set up as a single speed, we'd lined up for the 8AM start. I was in the third row and began behind a couple guys on mountain bikes. I weaved thru them and going past the start line, I was about 7th or 8th and not really thinking about the hole shot. Then all of a sudden I was in third and was punching up the little rise. The 2 others wanted it a bit more than I did and I came back into view in third place. We got past the pits for the first time and I got my moment to feel cool. Then it was a slow slipping back through the field as we climbed. It was a bit too much for me. If we'd had a course like last years, I would've faired much better, but it dragged on about a couple hundred yards too far for me and I really died going across the last little section at the top. I held my position going back down and even gained a few spots, but with as fast as the course was, I wasn't going to make back much on the descents. I had fun on the day though and luckily we finished early. When we left the course at 9:30, it was still nice and warm out. About 10, things started to get ugly as the cold rolled in and did it fast. I had a couple friends in the collegiate race who absolutely suffered. I was back in the pits after breakfast at the hotel and it was pretty cold. I wound up hanging onto 3 different bikes as people came in and out for different reasons but there wasn't a whole lot of need for us. Betsy had an awesome ride from the very back of the field to finish 35th. This was made more amazing as she'd finished 22nd in the single speed race in the morning.
After doing the party on Sunday and loading up the bus so we wouldn't have to do it in the morning, we zonked out for one last night in KC. Monday, we fueled up and began the drive. It wound up being a really long drive back to Mo'town and from there I had to drive another hour to get home. I made it in at 4AM and was then up at 7:30 to get ready for work. I made it to 2PM and fell completely on my flat and was out. Twice across the country in 2 weeks might not have been such a good idea after all.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
After finally being able to say I did a cyclocross race on the west coast when it wasn't raining(it was still muddy though), Sunday's race returned me to a more comfortable situation. It was pouring down rain, somehow for my race only though. I guess I'm one of those black cloud people. After not being able to hold anything the previous day, the bulldogs hooked up to the course as if there wasn't any mud at all. I again started at the back, but after the first section of the motocross section of the course, I was almost halfway thru the field. I was on a good one. On the second lap, I was still holding my ground, but got wrecked into on the loop de loops at the start of the lap. That set me back a few places, but I managed to get myself going. I even had a bit of a cheering section as I am finding quite a few people who've moved out there from Western PA. Others that I've met remember the ponytail and know it's me so that helps out more. I let myself get egged on and road the tough little off camber zigzag which then did a 180 at the bottom of the hill and went right back up. I was moving past others who were having alot of trouble with the course and I was starting to feel pretty cool. The third lap, I'd made the hill again but had to do a one step scoot as the mud was really getting wet with the rain. By the 4th lap, I was still in the mid upper 30s place, when coming over the top of the loop de loops, I pedaled to build up a big head of steam to go blowing through the mud and the rider who'd dropped over a few seconds before, suddenly panicked, hit his brakes, got sideways and then road straight into my path. It was at this moment, that I remembered Bill Cosby's line from one of his early stand-up acts. First you say it, then you do it. I broadsided him about 5 yards into the mud. If it had happened closer to the bottom of the hill, both of us probably would've been headed to the hospital. Luckily, the mud took some of the speed from me and it wasn't as bad as it could've been. We both still went ass over tin cups and both of us got a bit banged up and lost 30 seconds or more getting up. I'd also screwed up a wheel so I had to pit and get a spare. It was really nice to have the SRAM guys there with the spare Zipps but the tires they use suck in the mud. When I got to the off-camber section again, I figured my race was done, so let's entertain people. Well, entertain I did. I road strongly through the first section looking like I was Superman and then I hit the corner at the bottom with a bit too much speed. Well, from this part of the race, you'll see why the blog is named what it's named. I laid it down and really coated myself well with mud. It was fun though, but this lap had now cost me almost 3 minutes and it was still only half over and now I was feeling the day. I took it easy for the next half lap and then came through for the 5th lap. The following couple laps I road the first section but due to my lack of confidence in the front wheel,I opted to dismount and just run the last section of the zigzag. I was chasing a few of the other riders but just couldn't keep going like I was earlier. In the end, I road it in and called it a day well spent with the knowledge that I could go well and actually be competitive in the Master's elite field, but I just needed a bit more luck on my side and not the bad kind. I currently have a 3rd row start spot in the Natz 40-44 field. Barring a miracle, I'm not going to win the race but maybe I can pull off the hole shot. I've done that before at a MAC race in the Master's elite against some pretty fast guys. Maybe I can pull it off again.
In the end, I'd had a pretty good week. I got to finally meet my good friends Chuck's and Dawn's little baby girl, ridden a couple fun races, met some great people, had a good couple days of work, got a free round trip ticket to anywhere in the continental United States(I took the bump on the way out), got a couple test model Scott running shoes and will have a pair of Spira hiking boots sent to me, and came back to a work situation that was pretty stable and didn't resemble the aftermath of the London blitz. The guys at I-Generator are also looking to have me come out there 2 times next year so I'm feeling pretty stoked about everything.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
More people watching. The area where my flight is currently is waiting to board a flight for Vegas. There are some normal business travelers and also some people who'll look like they're taking a few days to go do the slots. I know you really can't judge people by their looks, but it does look like there is a few 'professional' women too. Judging by their attire, I don't think they're working a normal 9 to 5 office job. If they are and the attire is just their 'casual' cloths, where are the companies that have women like that located and are they hiring?