Thursday, October 29, 2009
Well, it's another wonderful day in this messed up world today. I just talked with a client who let me know that they needed several new computers and a server. GREAT!!!! More business is always good, right? Well, not so fast hot shot. She was disappointed in how they had to do it. Apparently I need to be on an approved vendor list (this is a govt connected operation). To get on this list, you don't have to have any special qualifications with the exception of paying a $500 per year fee. WTF? In looking at this, it's nothing more than legal extortion. We have to pay them for the right to do business. Wow, more and more, Ayn Rand is proving to be right. I am currently re-reading 'Atlas Shrugged' and what is happening now, is much the same as what is happening in the book. The free market system that is currently under attack in this country, is NOT what the free market system is supposed to be. Businesses today are lobbying Washington (and state and local) lawmakers for their business. Does business happen because the government says 'make it so'? Of course not. It happens because people have a need and the businesses are there to provide for it if they can. If they can't, well, their out of business and another company will replace them. This is how it happens(well, in a very simply put way, it's far more complicated but for this rant, I'll keep it simple). The 'wizards' in DC seem to think they have to screw with the formula to keep things fair. Hmmm, how is it fair if rules have to be in place so that a less capable company is able to survive but one that is properly run gets hurt? On top of that, when it comes to things like this little fee I'm bitching about, these are nothing but a drain on the system as not only does it not facilitate business, it raises the cost of doing business and there is no real benefit to it. My head hurts thinking about stuff like this. On the national level, these costs go up and only makes things more difficult and that just creates more problems. Nothing ever gets solved by having more fees for government. All it does is give them more money to do their little social engineering experiments at the cost to you and me and all the other taxpayers in the country. Maybe we all should just start saying 'NO' and take a step away from this wonderful society they are attempting to take from us and replace it with their version where we are in a position to be required to ask the government for our freedoms, benefits and lives for that matter. Oh, well, 'Who is John Galt?'
Monday, October 19, 2009
A week after Iron Cross and I was beginning to feel like King Freakin Kong. My legs were feeling a lot stronger and I was keeping up with the faster riders in Pittsburgh at the weekly practice at Frick Park. They hadn't done the long stupid race as I had, but I was still matching their starts and staying with them thru the training course. It was going to be a good week. Getting out to Granogue was an exercise in changing schedules. Once I got everything figured out and I wound up leaving later in the evening on Friday. I was going to stay a bit more than halfway over then finish the drive off in the morning. Unfortunately, I had some misfortune in the form of a bad sandwich from Sheetz. I woke up early in the morning not feeling well. My stomach was really starting to talk back. I tried a bit of breakfast, but it all bounced right back up. Ugggghhhh, I needed to get back to sleep for a bit. I got all my stuff out to the car but stayed at the hotel for a while to snooze and try to recover. I wound up sleeping til almost noon time. Scratch Saturday's race. I did drive to the course to catch the tail end of my race. After watching the womens and then the mens elite races, I was a bit bummed out. The course looked to be a good one for me. The areas that had always given me trouble were removed and the long push up to the top of the hill after the woods was now a short drop followed by a run-up. This was very close to the weekly trainly loop I do at the park 2 blocks from my house with the exception that it was shorter then the training course. Dammit, it would've been fun, even with all the rain and mud. So I zipped up to Pottstown for the Wissahickon race. For dinner, I had to scrounge around for something decent and eventually found a good chinese place. The one little Italian restaurant that we ate at last year had closed up so that put a bit of a damper on things. I did get a full nights sleep and felt fairly good for the race the next day but just not strong. I read the start right and on the 180s on the far side of the course, I was able to read how and where to be perfectly. The first one, I was off the bike and pushing through and jumped up on half a dozen riders. The second one, the clusterf*** was even a bit more of a mess but I was able to get past about a dozen or more riders and now was on the high side of the course while most others were fighting along the flat but muddy trail. I bombed the outside of the course heading into the horse corral and made it through to the back side of the course. Well things were going well to this point, except I really didn't have the horsepower to back my good start up. Once the course opened up, I fell towards the back and then having a bit of a chain issue I stopped to fix it and went to the very back. Oh well. Instead of just giving up, I decided I was just going to ride. I caught several riders back from my category and even started to catch some of the junior riders back that stormed past me early on. In the end, I got lapped by only 2 riders, Matt Krause and Roger Aphsolm, both of whom would have been able to finish somewhere between 10th and 15th in the elite race. So all in all, it wasn't that bad. Next week I have a couple local races so it'll be nice to just have those short 20-40 minute drives. Then, on to Beacon. I have my technique down for doing the amphitheater climb so I should do much better. Just stay away from Sheetz food.
I completed my third Iron Cross weekend. This year was a bit different in that it was butt-ass cold. I also bunked out in the cabins there which considering the weather, was probably a bit of a mistake. The convenience of not having to drive 20 minutes to a hotel was definitely offset by the fact that to stay warm, not only did I have to have a good sleeping bag, but I also had to put a thermal blanket I brought over top of me and then cover the head. The blank was breathable so air would get through, but it would trap heat. I'm not sure my lungs would've done too well if I'd not done that. Past that, it was a good weekend. Starting out with the Lite race on Saturday, this proper cross race was a fun one. I'd gotten a good start and I actually stayed fairly near to the front for the first 3 laps. I popped after that and had to shift it back a gear but it was a good sign that I'm progressing. I definitely have the feel for the races now and the bike handling skills are at their top end so once the legs start kicking in I should start having some decent results. The big race was also a pretty good one for me. While I missed my goal of breaking 5 hours again, I was certainly on pace to do so. We went out of the gate like a freaking bullet and I actually made it up the hill with people that I really had no business climbing with. In all the excitement, I didn't pay as close attention to my hydration as I should've. So at about an hour and a half, I felt the first twinges of a leg cramp. DAMMIT, start drinking, start drinking, start drinking. Before long we got to the first major hike a bikes. These were really steep climbs where you were getting off the bike no matter how small your gear was. This was where I really felt the cramping first hit. I short stepped it up the first hill and road to the second hike a bike. This one wasn't as tough but I still took it easy. Once at the top, we hit the second check point. I restocked on Heed and some fig bars and a banana. I slowly worked myself back to the point where I could start pushing things. At the single track I was going fairly well and only had to pop off the bike once. I got in with a good group on the road afterwards and we were just plowing along. Again, I was climbing well but had to slow up just a bit and then we hit the long downhills. These were loose graveled roads and at the bottom of one of the descents, there was a very nasty right hander. I got thru it but wasn't shifted down to a low enough cog and spent a bit grinding the gears til I could get the bike going again. Once going, I did a slow climb up conscious of having to look out for the cramping coming back. The group of riders that I'd left on the last road climb were now back to me and passing me. Right after the top though, we hit the really long descent on another fireroad. I left all of them and caught several others and passed them as we charged on towards the 3rd check point. I wasn't so much pushing the pedaling here, but I wasn't touching the brakes. I got to the checkpoint and there were about 10 or 15 riders there. I grabbed food, water and some Hammer electolyte caplets and took off. I'd drank a good cup of heed and slammed the caplets down and hoped they'd kick in quickly. A quick time check showed I was almost 15 minutes ahead of last years time. That was going to put me very close to the 5 hour mark. One thing I've said last year was get a small enough gear and this year, I'd still missed the mark. I was thinking about using a 34x28 as my small gear but just went with the 26 since I had it. Economic reasons were part of the reason for not getting a 28 cogset so I was stuck with what I had. That necessitated a 100 yard walk on the hill where I got passed by my former pace line group. After the first leg of the hill, I was back on the bike and grinding my way up the hill. The big roller coasters last year were a problem for me. This year, I made it up them without getting off the bike. I was dragging as my legs were really on the edge of quitting on me. At the last check point, I'd caught the group that went past me on the hill. This surprised them and we were off again and racing. I was still having to be mindful of how I rode. We were back on the single track after a bit and I started storming through riders. Blasting down a hill and through the streams wound up being my downfall though. Cross the last of the streams I was going way too fast and made a bad decision and smacked a root system coming up out of the stream. Over the bars I went. I was able to do a slow landing and as I was later told, I had really good hang time with the bike overhead. After that, the muscle issues I had began to crop up again. I wound up having to soft pedal the final 45 minutes in. That was basically the difference then in me not being able to crack the 5 hour target again this year. Well, I guess there's next year. Overall though, it was a lot of fun, we got a cool tshirt and of course the socks for finishing as well as the pint glass and a good burrito after the race. The best thing was that aside from the cramping issues, I came out of it feeling really good. Onwards and upwards for the rest of the season.
Monday, October 5, 2009
The first 3 weeks of cross are by. I'd have to say I'm a bit disappointed on the results. The hardest thing I've been trying to overcome this year is back problems. I've pretty much figured out it's coming from a lack of preparation at the start of the season. I've been dealing with a bit of a core-strength issue lately as well as lacking some flexibility. This winds up showing up in a cross race fairly quickly. A few weeks back, I began to combat this by pulling out the old workouts that I did as a diver. I'd gotten a lot of these from the Cornell diving school some years back but as I drifted out of that sport and into cycling, I forgot about them. I had a couple ok races and then hit the beginning of the MAC series by the Trexlertown velodrome. I got a back row start(sort of a theme of my cross racing the last few years). Without a great place to put that quick and dirty move which would get me forward 20 or so places, I just hung out at the back. Once out on the course, there really wasn't any place to pass except in the areas where horsepower was required. Lacking that, I quickly found there really wasn't a spot where finesse or skill would be a factor. So I raced with the back dwellers and had a good time. Then it was off to Charm City. Here, I managed to get a decent, by my standards start spot. I was in the 48th to 56th row out of over 90 riders. At the gun, I almost got into a wreck, but managed to hold up a rider from falling and then pushed him off, then got back into a groove. The course might've been a bit bumpy but there was good flow to it. Kris Auer does know how to make a nice course. The first couple laps were very good for me. I'd worked my way up to almost 20th spot and was feeling strong. Unfortunately, the back had it's say on the 3rd lap. The sand pit was a bit of a maze and there were 3 sections of it. Once again, the mtb'er in me wanted to stay on the bike. In the 2nd section of it, I had to get off after stalling and almost falling. The odd dismount I did tweaked the back wrong. I noticed it up the little climb towards the pits. By the end of the lap, I felt myself slowing and I started losing places. So into cruise control it went. Amazingly, even like this, I came back to a group and held in til the start of the 5th lap. From there I was just out riding. What made it a bit depressing was that after almost 2 full laps of goofing around, the leaders finally came up to me. A more conscious effort would've prevented me from getting lapped that day. The following week was definitely a bad one. I'm finding there are 2 courses that just really hate me. The first is the Ed Sander's race and the second is Hagerstown. I'm not sure what it is about the Ed Sander's course, but the grounds at Hagerstown are just too damn bumpy and hard. Even after a day of riders going over the course, it doesn't get broken down any so you feel it all. To top it off, I got my first cross injury of the year. After going through a drop I had to do a 180 and head back up. Well, I hit the divot in the ground that I was telling myself I had to miss and I dumped it. OUCH, S**T! I popped my thumb out. After smacking it back into place, it took about a lap before I could use it for shifting again. So I finished the race well down after having gotten lapped. Kelley Acres the following day was a bit different. I actually stayed with the group a lot longer and managed to miss the bumblefest at the bottom of the flyover on the first lap. The wonderfulness of carbon seatposts was being revealed for all to see with nasty results. I got thru that traffic and felt really effective on the sections where bike handling was an absolute must. The only thing I didn't like on the course was the long climb out on the back side of the course. I held my own on it for the first 3 laps and then started going backwards. I got caught about halfway through the sixth lap and after the wind went out of the sails only went about a minute further back. I was a bit bummed out for the weekend til I saw the results. The lap times were less than 5 minutes and almost down to 4 minutes each. On full cross courses, this would mean I would've been well out of that getting lapped range. This was against riders who would've done pretty good against the elites at any MAC race so I'm beginning to look at it from a very positive outlook. On top of that, I again helped out several riders in other races in showing them lines and how to take certain parts of the courses. One rider won her race, another had a great start but got beat up by the Hagerstown course and the third rider got 6th. I got some good compliments from them. The one thing I've learned over the years is how to read courses. I might not have the tools to do very well on my own, but it's a good feeling to see others take the info I can see and relate to them and put it to great use. Maybe I should follow the age old saying which goes 'those who can't do, teach'? Sorry to any teachers out there if that sounds a bit of a jerk statement to make, but my results have supported that one in the cross arena.