Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: 34 races later...

2008 included 8 RR/Crits, 8 TTs, 3 nights of track, and ended in 15 cross races. The season started slow and then just got rolling for me. In the end, 12 overall wins and nearly 200 hours of training. Once again, that was planned with a late season peak. And, hopefully that will happen in 2008.

Now, onto the goals for 2009:
1. Top 5 "B" overall BA cross series and do well at UCI Cross
2. 24mph+ at Presque Isle
3. Place well (top 5) at local crits like RATL
4. Compete with my MTB
5. Then like an extra training goal is to run consistently into cyclocross.

2009 will be as selective as 2008 with about the same amount of racing. A few less TTs and a few more mountain bike races, which are nearly like TTs, just longer with more skills. Sounds like cyclocross doesn't it? Time to get ready for 2009.

Getting Ready

indoor training
Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Getting ready for 2009 and all its joys. Of course that includes indoor training. Actually be X-training as of late, indoors though. Weights, rowing, treadmill, it's all great. Speaking of treadmill, I forgot to check the weather this week and got snowed in from my run yesterday. But, since it was one of my first times on the treadmill, I enjoyed it.

I'm working on my recap of 08, preview for 09 as I speak so expect that before midnight. Rollers tomorow, run Friday, then off to the Maruts.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday Suffer-fest

saturdays group ride
Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Dad and I hit up the group ride heading out from Valley Parkway and Brecksville. Had 21 in the group total as we headed east on Valley Parkway. Tony, Bill, Shawn, Ernie, Pete, Willy, Jane, Scott just to name a few. Rode past our house and went down State Road. After about four or five more miles, dad, Josh, and I pulled off and headed back towards the car. We ended the day with some serious mud on the legs and 25+ miles. By no means a hard ride, but once or twice I had to go a little harder than wanted. Good ride ending up with about an hour and a half of fun. Might be able to get outside the next few days also followed by a few more days of recovery and back to easy scheduled training. drills, drills, drills!

Friday, December 26, 2008

fridays ride

Spoiled is an understatement...

Well, before I tell you what I got for Christmas, I'll tell you I told everyone what I wanted and didn't get much else. So.. you really can't blame me, right? So here is the quick run down of the TOP 10 CHRISTMAS GIFTS OF 2008:
1) Sram Rival Carbon Shifters from dad and Julie
2) Sram Rival Carbon Rear Derailleur from dad and Julie
3) Belgium socks, cycling cap, tear-off tights, HP Photosmart M425 (used) and vids from Julie (KCCX)
4) Nikon D40 from Mom and Gary
5) Cannondale Optimo2 black (purchased before Broadview Hts. race) from Mom and Gary
6) Full size ping-pong table from Mom and Gary
7) Garmin 705 from Grandma Sue, Aunt Suzanne, and Korn
8) Paintcan of goodies from Chris with my pics all over it
9) Various sums of money or other great gifts (cross related) meant for new Hincapie clothing purchases. And last but definitely not least...
10) Sram Red Crankset from SANTA! (also a desk built with 53t chainring off of Sram red, already a single ring!)

Thanks for a great Christmas everyone! Now, I have to go fast! But I get major style points too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cross bike for SALE!

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Not mine, of course. Julie's spare bike that she wil not part out! HERE is the listing on ebay. Reserve is $300 and current bid is $102.5. Weighs in at 21lbs. w/o pedals. Nice durable frame, disc brakes. Size: 52cm.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The past two days I've finally been able to hit up B.A. and get some much needed cycling stuff done. Swapped out the stem on Optimo1 for a super light 3t 90mm one that MikeV hooked me up with, then flipped the old one on Optimo2 around. Both bikes are identical in fit now with proper seat height and handle-bar drop measured up by Sean. Both bikes feel good with an extra inch or so reach and inch or so higher saddle. Also picked up a few needy accessories as I was running low on Hammer Gel, tubes, and Bike Authority bottles.

Speaking of B.A., they are putting on a time trial series during the winter. 3 mile TT on the computrainer. Check out the web page HERE. The thought though of racing within in a few weeks is absurd. Computrainers should have cross courses where is you pedal to much into a corner, you're in the tape.

Hoping to get out for a ride tomorrow, maybe even over an hour. Thinking of taking the single speed out in the bad weather before a non-white Christmas. Weather sez 50F+ degrees on Thursday. Freeze your snowmen now.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

'09 is Coming Quick

trio of weekend
Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
The past few rides have been really a nice treat and are really an added bonus until real base begins. Today dad and I got on the rollers for a short ride and also adjusted my Sidi shoes. My ankles were hitting the chainstays a little too hard. The cleats only moved a little but I can feel the difference. Feels nice too. Also been trying out some Atomic Balm embrocation. Works pretty well too.

Been working out my new goals fo 2009. Got a few races mapped out including RATL, Presque Isle, NEO Power series, and of course, cyclocross. UCI came out with cross schedule, too. Looks like maybe another trip to Michigan and Cincy.

Speaking of big time training, a possible long distance trip is store over Spring Break. More to come soon including year recap and 2009 goals.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I ride outside in the winter?

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Thursday night dad and I got out for a good loop around the Brandywine ski area. We started at Station Rd. and the ride mainly consisted of dirt roads, dead end roads, and towpath trail. Finally got out on the MTB for just over an hour. Nice climb to start the ride so you can ride easy later and be toasty. Lots of snow covered stuff on this ride so we got in a little techy sections, too. Plan on the loop more often for harder rides, though.

Next few weeks just peicing together easy rides and getting the bike's position dialed in. Trips to Bike Authority soon!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cornering from the Pro's

1. Set your self up, get in line for the corner
2. Slowly make your pedal stroke slow down and look at the corner
3. Plant inside foot at 6 o'clock position
4. Start looking where you'll come out of the corner
5. Come out of the corner following your great line
6. Sprint hard out of saddle
7. Keep sprinting and prepare for next corner
8. Repeat

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Bike Built

Finished up the main part of my cross turned winter bike. Spec still includes 9speed tiagara but I bet will end up around 20lbs. in the pits at cross with single ring. Parts looking to upgrade: shifters (preferably rival), cranks, derailleurs (rival), and wheels (already have, just need to mount) Also can pull off hand brakes and swap out stem/saddle. Move over down-graded parts from the main cross bike like brakes. But for winter, just what I need.

Planning on a MTB ride tomorrow, maybe hit up Reagan Park trails if the freeze comes tonight. Off to check CAMBA.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thinking Base

Saturday I finally got up to Second Sole and recieved a real pair of trail shoes. Super comfortable and low key, perfect for the 2+ times I'll use them a week. Also when we were at Second Sole, I picked up a pair of liners for cold winter riding days and running.

Other than that, the days have been spent cleaning my bikes to the fullest. Today the temps will rise past freezing so I plan on spending some of the day washing outside. Looking at Optimo1, I still only have a few things left to do including:
1) Get in new road tires, Challenge Gara Clinchers
2) Swap out pedals
3) Swap out stem
4) Wait til Christmas to put back into a double ring road format
5) Look for lighter brakes and cranks

Then for the Optimo2, I still need to:
1) Mount fenders
2) Put on used road tires on either AIR wheels or Vistas
3) Swap out saddle for something thinner
4) Wait til Christmas to put on lighter build and single ring
5) Look for light 39t single cross chainrings and guards

Most of the riding I'll do until January will be on the Optimo2 and Lebron bike, mainly for cleaning and gear reasons. Also I am on unscheduled riding til the 3rd of January so looking to catch some good base miles and RAYS! I also need to learn how to run!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Your MTB(s) Miss You...

ergon grips
Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
The last few days off the bike it has occured to me how much I've been neglecting my mountain bikes lately. First, I didn't compete in one MTB race this season, and second, most recently, I've been taking my cross bike to the trails.

This really says something: my mtb needs to lose more weight and gets some style points to attract me to ride it more. More spent money = more riding time. But not really on this one: I want to put on a single ring on my racing MTB which will be at most: 2 chain-ring guides. Then to get some serious cool points and cut some weight: get a pair of GX1 Ergon Grips.

Those will go on the race bike while the older, hybridy version will go on the single-speed mountain bike. This project should be well under $75 and get me to my MTB more. It will also drop around 75g on the handlebars and a good bit more around the cranks. Plus chop off about an inch of handlebars from loss of climbling bars and lefty shifter.

Speaking of mountain biking, I've got seven races on the schedule for this season including Westbranch, Reagan TT, NEO Power Series and Alum Creek. Both bikes will be great for base miles and slow riding. Maybe start a group ride on Valley Parkway, MTB or single-speeds? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's Over?

08 ba cross series
Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
2008 racing came to a close Sunday mid-day in 20F weather. It started in 20F weather at the Arnold Challenge.

I've decided to make Optimo2, black, my winter training bike. Collected some full fenders as a prize at Leroy and will keep the 9-speed Tiagra until the sun comes to stay. Also will keep my lightly gear double, a 42-30 until my power re-arrives. Then I will keep it as cross ready for the rest of the year.

Not much going on after the season, taking a full week off, then three more weeks of unscheduled riding. Julie and Dad head out tomorow morning for Nationals. Julie has a front row after a 3rd place last year, and dad gets a 7th row for not placing. And why he didn't place last year, he started 5th row and the guy in front crashed 1rst corner. How lucky?

Getting ready for Ray's Indoor MTB Park as I know I can't get hurt during peak season. Looks to be some serious updates this year including the best: indoor heating. NICE! Can't decide whether to run treaded tires to benefit outdoors or run slicker tires to help at Ray's on the single-speed. Probably going to tready and Ergon Grips.

Seems the crowd like the edited photos from Flickr so I'll keep 'em coming.

Monday, December 8, 2008

TLE Cross Finale: Copley: Report

Originally uploaded by prudence rabbit
The week leading up to the race I had something in the back of my head saying you'll lose all of your skills if you don't ride and you're power will be gone you worked so hard to achieve. But all in all, it just worked out better resting.

I went to the race confident and rested and hydrated. I still wouldn't be on the top-form still suffering from the aftermaths of my illness (which I still don't know what it was) but I did everything I could to be ready which included some (confidential info) 1-minute intervals (spin-ups) on Saturday.

The first warmup lap I did was on my black Optimo2 and it was not the tire, pressure, or bike to use today. I quickly set that one on the trainer knowing I didn't want to use that bike to warmup again because it was spotless. The course was fast and slick was how I would describe it.

Then I went to the trainer for about 15 minutes of getting the legs loose before opening them up on the next preview lap. I used Optimo1 with two Michelin Mud2 clinchers around high 20s low 30s. I had the front squishy and the rear solid (around 35psi) to start. The way I described it to dad was I simply felt like god with that setup. My idea of lots of frontal weight with my shorter stem, better tire pressure and wheel setup felt awesome. It really did make the difference today. I followed this lap with about 10 more minutes of staying warm and removing layers on the trainer.

At the start, I was dissapointed to see only 8 strong, oppenents. No Paul D. or Johnny (more on him later) followed by 4 more juniors. I knew I was fast on the straights down and out knowing the good lines at tire pressure. I made sure to be leading into the corners knowing of the crash possibility (I almost bit it 1rst lap too). So I lead into the chicane and stand up into the wind and hit the gas. And drop the field. I was just consistent enough over those straights to get a huge lead I couldn't imagine. But I knew with the wind factor I needed to ride hard the rest of the race. So I killed the straights, kept it upright on the corners, and shrugged the trees in the single track.

Before you knew it I was getting the bell knowing I had a huge lead so I kept the pressure on and gained more time. The ground was getting soft on the uphill so I was actually going in a bigger gear each lap (only 3 laps today). You know you're feeling good then.

The last thing I though about was riding the straights in my biggest gear. I haven't even touched the biggest gear all year until.. the snowiest race! My legs felt the best ever and my pride too as I collected my "C" overall prize and taking home 4 wins of 6 (best four counted). Great way to cap off the year and get my goal of the year accomplished.

In the B's Johnny (remember the track star at Kirtland; 2nd in the C's) took 3rd overall. Sweet ride and keep it up! Zach took 2nd junior while Julie won the Women's race again on a pimped ride and won the Overall in the Women's division. She also almost scored a top 5 in the B's! Keep it up for Natz! Tony and Shawn were 2nd and 3rd in a hard fought A race that was won by Paul Martin in the last uphill stretch. Funnest race to watch award was also recieved. Shawn was 2nd Overall for the series and Tony finished 4th overall. Nice racing this year guys. You better take the overall next season Tony!!

Dad was 2nd Jeff 3rd Derek 4th Bill 5th and Chris 9th in the A Masters. And they finished with Dad taking 2nd overall, Jeff 3rd, Bill 4th, and Derek 5th. The Speedgoat stingers showed up and took 1rst in the masters to Gerry on a 34-18 single speed and took top honors in the Overall! Ernie took 3rd overall in the A series too!

Great season ended today for us not heading to Natz! Looking for some EN riding soon and catching up with plenty of updates.

Copley Race Photos...

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Are now up on my flickr. Look for a few more picture collections on the blogs as I saw quite a few cameras going around. Especially the woman in the red jacket. I hope she has a flickr because she took I bet 500 shots.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The End is Near...

Originally uploaded by FatherOFinnegan
Kind of dissapointing cross season because it flew right by! The results were great though. Seems like every week I trained dilagently knowing I had a big cross race that weekend. That really kept me on track with everything.

My Michelin Mud2 clincher I got via-ebay still hasn't arrived and dad already shipped the best wheels/tires to Kansas City for Natz so... My genius mind is thinking of running one Mud2 tire in the front with a super light and fast-treaded tubular bringing up the rear. Or praying my clincher comes in to run on those Easton Circuits.

One to go, lets finish strong. Bring your trainers on Sunday!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Welcome to the Club

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Team Lake Effect stud Tony Marut has a blog now. Finally, Bill's was just getting a little old?

Here is a mosaic of T over the past two years. From left to right: Chagrin River Cross, Spin Cross, Kirtland Park, and last seasons Spin.

Nice racing Tony and see you at Copley.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Where have you been?

Today marks the fifth straight day I haven't ridden or done anything for that matter because I'm sick. It must have finally gotten to me the past two weeks cold weather and chills. Friday I got to the doctor and he simply said, "the strep came back negative, but you could have mono." Wouldn't that be wonderful? I find out Monday if I have it or not which will likely decide weather I can ride next week, and ultimately race. I have the series points locked up so I don't really NEED to race but I really do WANT to race. Especially since Ray pointed it out that was my first B.A. Junior win last season. And it will be muddy and cold and EPIC.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Preparing for Boughton Farms

Hit up the rollers today for a recovery ride. said it would be 35F and cloudy, right....

Been riding the C'dale 650c training bike a lot lately. Just trying to avoid the flu for two more weeks by staying warm. And with a road bike comes new road shoes. Diadora Ergos are the chose and are nearly as comfortable as the Sidi Dominators 5. Nice!

Speaking of training bike.. Got a few things to tune it up tomorrow at Bike Authority before a watted interval ride. Here they are:
1) Mount IQ 108 Cyclometer (wireless)
2) Remove hand brakes
3) Adjust Rear Derailleur
4) Remove current saddle for Fi'zik Sport
5) Clean up that dirty chain

Got to get ready for Copley

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cap City Cross: OH State Champs: Report

On tap for Sunday was two races, the "C" race for warmup, then the 13-14 for the State Title. I got in a two lap preview of the course and went to the start line thinking I'd take it easy early but then ride steady and pick off a few riders. In the end, I ended up right where I expected myself to be, for warmup. I got called to the line first because of my overall position in the B.A. Cross series so I felt a little guilty and convinced myself to start HARD. Notice the bold AND italics. So I have front row in the best position, best gear, and I kill it. Possibly the best 75 meters of cross has every given me. I rode right near max just taking the corners steady and trying not to get killed. I made it about 3/4 of a lap up front (about top 8) before just riding mellow for a lap, working in and out of corners. Finished the last two laps with plenty of breath left and a good warmup. Ended up 19th of about 30.

Then it was time for the real show, the juniors. It seemed Hannah Mossman and I were the only 13-14s, but she got 2nd at Natz last year, so... I knew it would be tough. She took the lead early but I got her back on a swithback and towed her around for the rest of the lap. I set in about 2 attacks but she was right on them so I sat tight, riding just hard enough to get a gap on the 2nd lap. Then I kept pushing, equally as hard each and every lap. This is a race where I would like to see lap times because I bet I was consistent. In the end, I held her off, and took the state title by about 30 seconds. 2nd of 10+ juniors overall, too.
The rest of the day went great for TLE, too. Tony took the overall cat3 race in fashion. Scott Carter was right up there too. Jeff took first Ohioan in the 45+ with dad in second. Nice! Then Bill and Derek sprinted it out for a top spot. Julie took 5th overall, 3rd Ohioan, and 1rst in the Cap City Series! Matt Weeks also scored a top 10 in the Men's Elite.

Ohio State Cross Photos

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
are up now on my flickr. First climb hole-shot. Race report coming soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Recovering and Resting

After the EPIC on Sunday. This picture really shows the blizzard at the start. These are the uneven stairs near the start. Running Hutchingson Bulldogs on dad's Mavic Kseryum with a red spoke.

Monday I got the day off along with today but Tuesday was one of the last hard interval days. With me on the trainer, I was super focused and disiplaned for a perfect workout. That lead me to letting myself to have today off. Another endurance ride tom., easy or off Fri., and spin-ups on Saturday for the State Championships.

Speaking of States, I've signed up for both the "C" men and the 13-14 juniors. I plan to get the lines down and just warmup in the C's then be ready for the age-group.

And... I'm looking for a new HR monitor for a christmas present. I need five programable zones and thats about it. Garmin 405? Polar? Suggestions please. Downloadable to Training Peaks?

Monday, November 17, 2008

TLE Cross #5: Broadview Heights: Report

One word simply was tossed around all day: epic. The course, the riders, the weather. It was awesome.

So Sunday morning we set-up the course and tinkered with our bikes and tire pressures in the 33F weather. I got in two muddy laps of the course then did about 20 minutes more on the trainer by the fire. That felt good. So I warmed up on my pit bike, had a fresh one on the line, and stripped off about 20 layers but still didn't feel fresh. Or dry. The first corner was a tight 180 followed by a dreaded off-camber (I completed 3 of 8 times warming up). I knew I needed to get to the front early and have a clear shot to make it through and avoid pile-up. Boy did I call that: second place falls on the 180, then the next rider falls and piles it up on the off camber. I was riding away by the stairs, maybe this would be an easy race.

But, not to be easy, came the blizzard on each lap and the 25mph winds pushing a 115lb. cyclist going about 6mph. In reality, two larger sized people didn't work together but caught up to me and the end of lap 1. I sat on the train for about a half of a lap but I drained the off-camber perfect again and flew the stairs on the court I practice nearly weekly for this day. Going over every time thinking this is what I train for. I hold the lead well into the sled hill and let it loose about 1/2 down. I push myself hard up the road. No one goes by me up the run-up so I know I have a little gap. I know right were to remount and how to cross the wood planks before the soccer fields. I push through the soccer field but am dead-leged by the road. Another soccer feild and the big desecnt across the bridge in the lead by about eight seconds. I know what to do as the pressure starts to dissapear. Big gear seated, maintain traction, stand only when needed. We practice this all the time, get it right now! A flawless second lap of skills with minimal leg power and I've got about eight seconds to teammate Nate. The last lap was like a dream come true. I'm holding off my teammate to clinch the overall in the "C" series in the mud. And blizzard. I mentioned to Nate when we were cleaning up post race that I caught my self singing once. Almost talking to myself, on a bike, in a blizzard. In the end, I held it off and made up a few more tics on the last lap. I cross the line in pure joy and amazement. Happy and Cold.

The rest of the races were epic. Tony Marut is a god in the mud and was beating 3 time top5 finisher in 24 solo worlds, Ernie Marenchin. But Tony flatted and Ernie came storming back with Tony 2ND OVERALL in the A!! Gerry Phlug took the overall on a SS and 40+ with Dad 2nd, Bill 3rd, and Derek 4th. Julie dominated the women and lapped nearly all women. Ray pushed his single gear to 9th, with Dave S. rounding out the top 10. Erick took home juniors, again. Great racing to all in the toughest weather ever!

The only sad news of the day was our good friend and competitor Russ taking a seriously tough spill on the sled hill and most likely braking his collarbone. OUCH, get well soon Russ!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Off to the Side

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Anticipating the weather for Sunday consisting of Friday showers, Saturday snow, and Sunday a wintry mix, I planned ahead and picked up the lastest bike to the collection. Playing the role as spare cross bike (will that change) the Cannondale Optimo2 is ready to roll. Tiagra 9 speed stuff with a 42-30 front setup, a great starter kit. But no need to worry, I'll have this thing lightened up as soon as possible. You can check a few weight tips on Sunday. Thursday we took it out to the cross course for a few laps. Super relaxed positition with hand brakes and a nice and light gear. By relaxed I mean up right compared to Optimo1. Just asking for the mud right?

See the full setup Sunday at the race. Full part list and other reviews following the race.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

3 To Go

The final stretch in my cross season is approaching. Two more B.A. races and the State Champs; how fast that went. I can remember just like yesterday Michigan Double Cross, my first cross race this season.

This week will mark an important training week with a good dose of intervals and scouting out the B.H. course. I will also aim to try and get the spare cross bike ready to race on Sunday, as a back-up role. When I pick it up I'll be sure to update. Because, you don't even know what it is.

Looking forward to 2009.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cap City #6: John Bryan Park: Report

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
The drive down to John Bryan was a little more than we expect at about 3h 10m, but with about an hour to warm-up, I ended up all right. Saturday I learned the 13-14 would be stacked with John who beat Drew Bercaw at Louisville, Erick Maddis, Cooper from Redzone, and Spencer from Redzone. I had yet to beat John going into the race but have gone 50-50 against Cooper. Those two had already a "C" race in their legs to warmup and did awesome against 75 riders. I ended up with about 3 laps and about eight different looks at the long sand pits and barricades. Right before the start, the official yelled at me because I wasn't allowed to follow the "C" race warming up. But, I proclaimed I wanted to see the course (Drew B. and Erick didn't before the start) and he let me go after saying "I could DQ you." I wasn't DQ'd and knew the course so it was all good.

The call-ups were a touch unfair with two 13-14 age groupers getting a first row spot with the 15-16 because they were leading the series. It didn't matter as I clipped in fast and set in on Drew's wheel. We suddenly formed a group of the lead 15-16 and the lead 13-14 (me) I raced threw the sand pits with grace and was feeling great. Everyone cleared the barricades cleanly and I was actually faster in some techy parts of the course. Drew didn't take the lead till he had seen most of the lap then I was slowly pushed off the back after the barricades. I took a look back to see John still about five seconds behind. Towards the middle of the second lap, John and I rode together for a bit, each somewhat attacking put pulling through. He tried through the 180*'s but I chopped him off with my good lines and lead through the singletrack where we took it faster than the leaders took it lap one. We were syncronized through the barricades and I followed through some more 180*s. Then he gapped me on the straight (I hate straights) before the finish line when we got the bell. I most have zoned out for a minute because John had a good lead by the sand-pit. I took my smart line to the left but slowly but surely fell into the big blue tap. Then I quickly dismount to the right, but push the bike forward and leap on super quick. Through the backside switchbacks I can still see John two corners ahead. I push and push but over the barricades for the last time and the race is over. He seemed to be holding steady after his last attack. I think I ended up about 20-30 seconds back which is great considering he put about 1m 30s on me in Cincy. This might have been my favorite cross course ever though.

In the later races, the Drew who beat Drew Bercaw got 6th overall in the Men's B race. Great JoB! Drew also placed well. In the elite men's, Matt Weeks gutted up his RED shifter with sand and had to use is unused ever pit-bike and still scored a top 10. Brent Evans finished a place in front of Matt. Dad had a bad start but ended up 8th overall in Elite Masters, and 3rd 45+.

Next race is Broadview Hts. Sunday and I bought another Michelin Mud2 clincher so I'll have a full set for Sunday. Still have a few issues on bikes to sort out, front brake squeals, rear brake rubs (even after I put it on straight) my seat needs adjustment, winter Specialized gloves, and a rear wheel (road tire) for the trainer. Then of course road shoes for the trainer. Maybe even a pit bike that's mine?? More updates to come.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Up Next...

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
This weekend has gave me a few options. Race or Distance Ride. Since I've been happy with my results and want another, I've decided to race at Cap City #6 and the 9th race in the OVCX series. The only question is.. What race to do? Juniors or C-Men? C's already have about 20 pre-registered so I might not get first two rows on the start. Juniors, I could grab a couple upgrade points with no entry fee! Experience or Swag? I'm leaning towards Juniors but it will be a game time desicion.

In other news, Tuesday was Obama day so I got the day to push the single-gear around. I ended up with about two hours and around 25 miles of 32-18. I moved the intervals to today and was just a touch sore/tired from yesterday. This was one of the first times I've completed the whole workout today because it's total tough-man.

In the B.A. series, best 4 races of 6, I have won two of the events and placed 3rd and 4th at the others but have no where near the series locked up. Four or Five "C" men still in contention, one will win. The toughest competitor seems to be Paul D. who won in Kirtland and is getting stronger riding each week. By the way, a new high for juniors this year with 14!

Replacing brake pads this week and getting the spare mud tires ready. But that's for another post.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ray's Is Open!

rays re-opens
Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Two weeks ago Saturday, the 1rst Indoor MTB Park in the world re-opened for a 6th season I believe. The park had a huge renovation last year and ended in over 100,000ft. of fun. This year after December 7th, plan on us being there A.M.A.P (as much as possible) The X-C is over half-a-mile now and can be used for base miles + skills. See you there!

Monday, November 3, 2008

TLE Cross #4: Kirtland Park: Report

Kirtland was one of my favorite courses going into the race and even until warmups, then it started. Two long straights of grass started the race and I had the same plan of yesterday: avoid 1rst corner crashing. I got out front and held it through the first three turns before the first set of mind crushing stairs. About five or six separated steps before about twelve more serious straight up steps. I bet Paul and Nate had three bike lengths on me after the stairs. I wasn't jogging, in fact sprinting A.H.A.P. (as hard as possible) I slowly made the time back on Nate's wheel for one whole lap catching him after each set of stairs burning my matches essentially. I finally was recovering too much and asked Nate to let me by. Thanks teammate. I caught first on the 3rd time through the amp. Then was dropped after the final set of stairs. I slowly reeled him in to about five seconds until losing more time on the middle set of stairs. I turn back and see 3rd place Johnny catching. I push extremely hard before the final stairs knowing J's a track star (well, faster than me) Well, he caught me on the stairs and I didn't have enough time to re-pass. I bet one more long stretch or the amp again.

I learned plenty this race as I felt I was either 1rst or 2nd strongest in the race, 1rst ranked technically, and about dead last in running capability up stairs. That really stinks because all week I worked on stairs, and even occasionally messed up shouldering the bike. Luckily, no stairs at Broadview (99.998% sure) and definitely none at Boughton Farms.

Erick dominated Juniors and needs to consider "C" overall. Top finishers were Julie and Drew in the "B" race, Julie 1rst lady, Drew 5th and back on form. Nice! Gerry, Ernie, and Paul formed the group early and went on to Paul attacking last lap and taking another BA cross win. Phlug 2nd, 1rst master, Ernie 3rd. Dad was 2nd in masters followed by Jeff and Derrick. Bill broke his pedal. Tony finished 13th.

TLE Cross #3: Chagrin River: Report

One of the coolest venues I believe ever. To be coincidental, Uncle Steve's backyard sounded nearly exact with costume dress-up not to mention it was in a backyard on the same day. Brett has been talking for months about a great event and it happened. All of our entry fees went to Fast Track Cycling. And if you haven't heard, it's gonna happen.

We got to the course with plenty of time to fool around with our costume and get the course down. I think I ended up with about four laps total without the trainer. I found some nice lines after a few laps. Then repeated the sand-pit and double-track about three more times each to have everything skill wise down. Those parts were obviously the best part of the course by the way Brett!

I got to the line with my costume on (a sandbagger with sand from the sandpit, not to mention any names, Rick) pinned to a USA cycling jersey. I pulled it off at the line because I spend all year to save weight then to race with 5+lbs of sand. I knew my gameplan at the start was to lay the line down and show who's still sandbaggin in the C's.

I pulled up to the front row and killed it before the corner to avoid crashes. I slammed it hard through the field to the natural barricade. Nate is right on my tail closely followed by Paul (2nd in a lot of "C" races) Pushing it through the fields, my legs slowly opened the gap for me before the only man-made barricades. A good remount and I'm leading by a length or two into the woods. I take the first corner slow to hit billboard to the right and Nate wipes out. I have a gap and ride through every ditch to get more of a lead and come out through lap one with about ten seconds. Lap two was more of the same with me gaining a few seconds here and there. All of my remounts and dismounts on lap two were fun and comfortable. But mostly fast. I would compare each lap to see the gap between me and Paul in the fields. The final two laps were focused and hard. I pushed steadily and felt great over the technical stuff. The gap increased to 23 seconds in the end. Chalk up another "C" overall victory for the Factory Rider. This race was key in a best of 4 race series.

Final Results HERE. My FLICKR photos. RICKS photos. ERNIE'S camera shots.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Orrville Cross #2: Report

Sunday was the second race in the Orrville Series and the last. The course was the exact same just in reverse as the previous week. This course was definitely not mine with lots of straights and road, seemed as even more than last week. Two sets of doubles, two long road sections, and a couple of "S" off-cambers lead to a fast first lap. I had a good warmup with 2-3 laps of the course and about 10 quality minutes on the trainer. Picked my gear after two starts and got the inside line, the best one. Nate and I went two wide into the corner until I backed off. At about 200m past the start was a sketchy off camber where Nate bit it in front of everyone. I asked, "You OK" then jumped the tape and followed an aggressive attack. Once he saw the crash he jumped at the perfect time. At the first instant I thought he was gone but I rode steady for a while and really cut some time into his lead. It was the second race this I wasn't leading after lap one. I counted about twelve seconds at one point. I caught him on the barricades and knew if it came to the last lap, attack before the barricades. He was so much slower over the barricades. I towed him threw the baseball fields then looked back, shifted down 3 times and hit it. I cranked an attack quite hard and gapped him. He slowly crawled his way back as I recovered. I had him right where I wanted even though my legs weren't going full blow. Right when he was within breathing distance I jumped again and got quite a lead. Repeat once more and through the two to go sign I've got about 20 seconds I'd say. Rode hard through the next half of a lap when I caught a Mtb'er warming up for the "B" race. I yelled frantically, "coming up, coming up!!" She made no attempt to move so put my hands down more on the hoods to hit my brakes hard (we were also going into 180* off camber turn) and hit a bump/log hard and ate it over my handlebars. I hate to blame someone else but I do believe this crash was because of her. I knew what happened but was extremely sore to get up throw my legs over my bicycle. It was about 10ft. from me. I would have used my new move (run on right side of bike, push bike forward, and remount quick on left) I developed in case I have to fix my chain or fall. Well I get up and the gap is back down to about ten seconds but its soon down to five as I take a while to get momentum and the legs back. But soon enough I open it up on the barricades and see one to go. I just ride steady and controlled the last lap as the skies seem to open but then don't. In the end I opened to about ten to twelve seconds and threw up the arms for another victory salute in Orrville.

Julie won the women's race closely followed by Trish Ingram. Greg got outspinted by Nate Loman I hear at the line. Nice job guys. In the A's, Paul looked to put the hurt'n on all until Shawn slowly closed the gap but never got him. PM prevailed in the end, Shawn second, Jeremy G. 3rd, and Tony had an awesome race to finish 4th. NICE! Dad, Bill, and Derek would have topped off the masters but there was no masters. Still Dad 6th overall, B 12th, and D 10th. Matt "Willy" looked awesome but had some awesome wrecks to finish pretty beat up. Nice race John Ehrlinger, too.

HERE are some photos from my flickr.

Today was a day to clean up the chain and bike but also to clean up the self as I got a few sores and aches from these past few weekends of hard racing. One more double this weekend which should be fun. 2 TLE races in one weekend, NICE!! Then maybe a rest weekend or Cap City (juniors maybe) John Bryan State Park. Then State Champs, BH., Boughton, and the racing year is over. Starting to look forward to a whole week off of school and bike.

Then some serious LSD before RATL!! Plan it!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My latest Bike Project (s)

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
I'm not really sure what lead me to this idea. I've been pushing around this single gear Cannondale Lebron bike at Ray's Indoor MTB Park since the day Deb Lewis got it for me. It was used by one of the celebrities at the Lebron's King for Kids Ride. I'd dream it be Lebron but the frame size is almost too small for me, let alone a 6'8 monster. This started off as a triple crankset with 9 speed stuff to supply like the norm for MTBs. But we saved the parts, bought a singulator and saved some weight. If I'm not mistaken there is a 32-17 or 32-19 on there, perfect for Ray's. About two weeks back, I took it out for a spin right before a torrential down pour struck and the gear was way easy because of the clipless pedals and fast tires. After a descent you couldn't put weight on the pedals for about a minute of two. It was very fun though learning out to slow down to go fast, or put weight back into your legs. The bike is an absolute tank but will serve as about once a week currently, and a few more times with some winter base miles.

After that bicycle, I'm now supporting four I actually ride. Hopefully. The other winter bike project is to see if Tony Smith will let me keep the fixed geared Fuji for the rollers. Thats another one of my goals for the winter: pedal in a circle not a peanut. The other bikes are my C'dale MTB that will look nice with a single ring on it and then my cross/road/tt/other track bike, the Optimo.

Something keeps telling me to invest in one more frame. The latest Rival is awesome and very reasonably priced but what to dress it on? Option A. Another cross frame, one would be kept as a single ring and ridden maybe once a week with cross tires. The other kept with road stuff and maybe fenders in the winter. Also would double as a TT bike. Then when cross came around, a full pit bike, quite similar to racing bike. Option B. A road frame, great for road but I wouldn't have a cross pit bike. Also would double as TT bike. Option C. A TT frame, possibly the least practical unless we keep drop down handlebars on it for road season. Then it becomes very practical. Option D. Keep saving up for the future and get a road bike later, stick with Optimo now. Option E. Buy a dirt - cheep cross frame with used Optimo components and stock up the Optimo with new fancy stuff. Then have a pit bike for cross, still no road or TT bike.

Besides worrying about the next frame or component, I'm also into getting hiking stuff for the winter. I know some racers who hike in the winter as there fitness builds and can work different muscles. That's the latest training product I'm looking at. Need water proofs size Men 8.5. Sounds like an ebay kind of thing?

Tomorrow is Orrvile #2 for another training race and it looks like we might have some cross weather. Speaking of, I need some mud tires, and skis, and embrocation!!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Interbike Providence

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
The past few days we had the opportunity of getting out to Massachusetts to see the family. On Tuesday Julie, Dad, and I got to see the latest and greatest bike stuff at Interbike Providence. The first bike we took out to the test-ride singletrack was a Cannondale Rize. The thing was a tank but rode beautifully and kept your back intact with its enormous amt. of travel. Then I noticed a couple of Parlee custom cross bikes built up with new Sram Rival and Edge deep dishers. The acceleration on those bikes were out of this world but the handling was so awesome because of the air pressure. We took those on the grass loop, singletrack, and road loop. I rode a 51cm and the fit was awesome already. The final bike we rode was a Rocky Mountain Altitude full suspension. This bike was a bit less than the Rize and a little more practical for our local trails. Not as much bounce or weigt.

That was it for riding but we go to see some seriously new Sram wheels, Red, and Rival. Sram had the second biggest booth next to Cannondale. Other cool gadgets were the new dimpled Louis Garneau TT helmet. Zipp full carbon TT crank, and the latest (non-electric) Dura-Ace.

Check out some more photos in my FLICKR.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Orrville Cross #1: Report

After Saturdays extravagnza at Spin Willoughby, we headed down to Orrville for another local cross race. I had a good warmup with 2-3 laps of the course and about 5 quality minutes of the trainer at the line. We had about 12 "C" racers and 4 more juniors. The course was a huge hammer course but if you can get on your gear quick, the section was over quick. I took the hole shot through turn 2 when an Orrville rider jumped ahead. There was no point in battling when the singletrack was just ahead. We rolled through the singletrack and then he pulled over basically. His road tactics were never lead so I jumped, then once more before the barricades where I got a 5 second gap. A few more straights and off cambers and I was leading after lap one by a 10-12 second margin. The next lap it really grew. I took the singletrack extremely fast compared to the first lap and held momentum through the turns by swinging my inside foot out. Lap 3 was more of the same by gaining even more time. I got to ride this lap with a rider who was a lap down due to a flat. His name was Sebastian Birch from Velo who would have been a major threat. Either way, I attacked before the barricades and had plenty of time to throw my hands up in victory.

In the "B" field, our CX Clinic buddy Greg from Stark Velo won with ease and put some serious time into other riders. In the A's PM won, close second was Shawn, Jeremy, Cameron, Dad, Dave Steiner, and Tony. Bill and Derek also scored top 12 finishes. HERE are some photos of mine via flickr.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

TLE Cross #2: Spin: Report

Originally uploaded by Huang Family
Just a quick update before we head off to Orrville..

Took the hole shot and kept looking back. Got a gap of almost 20 seconds when a new rider got within 5 seconds of me. Didn't drop the hammer, but rode two parts 2nd place didn't ride on the last lap and everylap. Victory in the "C" race either way!!

...Orrville looks to be a hammer course like last year so wish me some power today.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Biowheels UCI Cincy Cross: Report

We got to the course nice and early and I got in two laps before the C Men started. Then I practiced starts and rode on the road for about 30 minutes before my race. At the line I noticed yesterdays winner was not in attendance so my whole game plan was changed. The Redzone rider who finished 3rd yesterday (and 11th at Natz being the youngest in the age-group) clipped in fast but I jumped on his wheel for a second before blowing by. I slowly started to work up my places riding hard everywhere. One lap completed and I was 2 wheels behind Julie. The first sand pit was coming fast where I dismounted and jogged through the deep ravines. Once I remounted I noticed my chain had fallen off so I raced to put it back on. The third eye is stuck though so I start jogging to the pits. Bill encourages me to keep running. Erick and Redzone are long gone as I wasted too much time trying to move the third eye chainwatcher. Shawn helps me in the pits and I get going again. It takes 2/3 of a lap for my legs to come back though. I'm hott on the tail of 3 or 4 women when I jump right before the second sand pit. I fly through but my chain falls off again. Luckily, I got the chain back on and remounted. I believe all of my problems were on the second lap. Lap 3 I hammered my brains out but caught only a few more women I caught within minutes of lap 1. I unzipped my skinsuit and pounded the sand pit uncontrollable hard. I look forward and make it through just to finish too soon to catch any more juniors. 3rd place. I think I could have pulled off the win in pretty good fashion with attacks still in the tank. Great legs Sunday.

The heat seemed to get to most of the NE except Julie. She won again dominately. Gary rode the sand to 7th in 3-4 men. The TLE masters racers of Jeff, Dad, Bill, and Derek all rode good to top-half finishes. Ernie was lapped but finished and Shawn's back was messed so he didn't race. Rick took 6th in the Masters 45+ Cat 3-4. Fun weekend and can't wait to sleep in my own bed before a race. Sadie raced strong too. Tony scored a top 10 and Cameron rode to a top 20 in Men's 2-3. Nice Racing all on a very hot and dry weekend. Boy does Cincy like their sand!

Up this week is D.C. school trip til Thusday night. No school Friday and another double race weekend with 2 locals: Spin Willoughby and Orville, two of my best races last year with mucho rest this week.

Java Johnny's Cincy UCI Cross: Report

Originally uploaded by inquintessence
Day #1 in was at Sunset Park in Middletown and I was racing 13-14. Our race 40 minutes of pure suffering in the 85* degree weather. We ended up having 6 super fast riders in it. John started great and I gapped him on the barricade run-up. I didn't give up and just kept pounding it. I battled a many Cat-4 men including a great singlespeeder. In the end, John prevailed by minutes. I cramped pretty hard on the last lap though. He is an awesome rider who I expect to see do well at nationals.

I got to take some pictures of everyone from 45+ Beginner men to Elite Women. HERE are some photos of mine. RICK'S 743 photos are just awesome. Julie won her race dominately and Tony and Cameron and Nate looked good too. Bill, Jeff, and Derek didn't have the best days but still finished near the top of the 45-plusers. Rick scored a top 5 and Ehrlinger was a place behind Derek. Ernie got in an early crash but still managed a 28th place in Elite. Shawn pulled because of asthma.