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.