Thursday, December 31, 2009

taking a small step back

Originally uploaded by beatnik440
I am officially done with my travels for the year! But not for the remaining three hours of the decade, but most likely until spring break. Training will become more consistent along with less frequent racing and hopefully in your case, more frequent blogging. And more wattage training!

I now have three days to recover (and maybe race once!) and rest up before the real world hits again Monday: waking up at 5:30 again, scheduled training, and that school thing. Recently I have been giving each bike it's own little cleanup: frame lust to each bike, SQUIRT bike lube along with some smoothed out shifting, a few new cables here and there, garmin set-up on each bike, wheels set up with road tires or single-speeded, maybe even fixed. And fenders, got keep the paint on the frames this winter along with some other generally maintenanced things. And protect those $1500 hubs...

So, this is generally the post where you write all your race results and what you did right and wrong. But, I'll save that boredom for tomorrow. I'd like to just say a generally thank you for everyone who helped me out this season especially my family. I'll be sure to keep pushing for an even better 2010.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
no words needed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

one gear is better than none

Finally finished up the single speed cross bike this past week. Purchased yet another Surly Single-ator since none of my geared Cannondales have horizontal dropouts, go figure. This will be a solid training bike for the winter being easy to clean, easy to work, hard to pedal. Kept the single 36t with Salsa chainguards up front with a variety of cogs in the rear (ordered) but only had two real wide single cogs, an 18t or 20t. So I set up a fast wheelset, my grifo XS file tread tires with the 18t (what I used this weekend) and my Michelin mud2s with the 20t.
Also have been working out a simpler rear brake holder/ mud prevention system. Since I commonly run 'nearly gone' rear brakes for preference, I need it too work all the time. So I am making a homemade mud blocker out of some cable protection and a presta valve cap. I'll post up how it comes out and works later.

Hardesty Park #1

More good legs Sunday at Hardesty Park, but much less action actually during the race. Maybe rest can do you good!

With a small number in the B race, I figured I would try to lead at least at the opening portion to avoid the slick corners behind folks. And that's what I did, grabbed the wholeshot and made everyone follow the singlespeeder around for a mellow, non-crashing first lap.

A group of five developed the next lap when I opened things up. They all had gears and drafting ability so I made sure to really push it in the slower stuff where my 36-18 was actually under 100rpm. This would have been a good race to use the garmin because I was sure free of lactate acid averaging I would assume 85rpm throughout the whole race. That's a whole bunch for a snowy cross race.

I took on the challenge of being out front but wanted to keep some consistent lap times so I kept jumping out of corners even with a large lead. Kept it rubber side down the whole race and got my first SS cross victory! Not for long though, as I think I might give the A's a shot in two weeks on my geared Cannondale. Good bye chances of riding at the front!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Infirmary Mound

This race was a big time shoulda, coulda, woulda kinda race. I again signed up for the B field with redemption on my mind from nationals a whole 8 days previous and alum creek 78 days ago. I will post up some pics of my fresh single speed later in the week, but I have the 1x1 setup with a 36t front, and either an 18/20t for the rear. I chose the 18t which was with my file treads and it was about the only thing that worked out perfect today.

Anyway, race time came and I felt pretty good but really couldn't warm up the legs too much with my gear so the first two laps were tough. But coming the third lap, I turned it on, and attacked on a run-up, the last one I could really run. Got a good gap, 15+ seconds, then managed to blow it on the forth lap. The run-ups got too slick and I had to shuffle up with my bike sideways suitcased. Not quite as fast as a full shoulder sprint.

With that 'drill', combined with a few untimely slow crashes and tape-grabs-by-the-prowhite-handlebartape. I soon found myself sitting in third about twenty seconds from the front. And with only half a lap left it was pretty much done.

Third place it had to be on the day. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. At least I got to tryout the new SS and use the good fitness I guess I still had leftover from Nationals. Great course too, great course for single speed also. Thanks to veloarts for the great picture.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

cyklokraus fotographi


I haven't posted too many links to my photos of late so here is:


Also found a sweet new site called veloarts which some photographers were at the recent Cap City races. Check that out HERE. And here is some other random shots from Bend.





Friday, December 18, 2009

Cross Nationals Day 2

So here I finally was. Nationals. The big dance.


I had a good warmup, got to take a whopping 1 lap pre-ride three hours before my race but then rode the trainer for like an hour since the course is never open at nationals. I had to guess on a tire pressure, guess on tires, basically guessing how the race will go! I ended up borrowing a front TUFO CUBUS from a friend we were staying with and it worked pretty darn good for the whole two laps I used it.

That's why you shouldn't do one day races and expect results. I have that message on replay in my brain forever... This post could go on days of the big plans to the suffering defeat. But I'll save your eyes from my white backdrop and just get to the point.

I put it all together and had it all on the line for this race. Luckily, I talked to my coach earlier and made sure I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket and do one big peak for cyclocross. Instead the last three weeks I tapered, and the rest of the season I kept solid training that wouldn't kill me for the local weekend racing scene. But, that worked out well so I honestly was not so worried about NATZ results. Just wanted to have fun.

Start was dumb. Julie pre-reged me really early and they told me I had dibs on 14th, a perfect second row. But I ended up getting pushed back in positions to the end of the 3rd row set. Oh well, that's why you shouldn't do one day races.

The two guys left and right of me had great surges but the guys I was behind didn't. It's like a broken record cyclocross excuse, "I had my foot down for twenty seconds after the front row started." It wasn't that dramatic, but enough to lose positions in the first elbow flying corner. The first lap was so Aggressive, with a capital A. I got put down about three times when I wasn't going down. Everyone wanted every single position including me. But after five first lap crashes by myself alone, I gradually was making my way into the top 20, my generally goal. And then, we all know how the story ends.

Cross Nationals Day 1

Once again I find myself typing up race reports the day before the next race. I guess this has honestly been the only serious free time I have had lately. But now since school is out for two weeks, I'll be more consistent writing in the blog and getting done bike projects (the best inventions ever are coming)

Back to reality. Thursday I had the wonderful option of racing the B U29 race in Bend. And I completely regret it. I got a solid last row start position of about 5.5 rows of 8 racers, so almost 50 total in the race. I somehow managed a great first corner nearly snapping the farthest lane's tape but escaping the bottleneck. And I started hearing 'top 20' cheers. I am guessing 20+ places gained in the first corner alone.

But my job wasn't to win this race. I wanted to open up the legs, see the course, and have some fun. But I wasn't having fun crashing my brains out. So I rode one lap hard and on the ground mainly, a second lap equally as slow, and two more laps easier just trying to judge how much energy I could use where. I had the legs, I just didn't know how to use them.

So, with one to go, I pulled the plug. I was quite tired from traveling the previous day and crashing didn't seem to help my performance the next day. That decesion was simple. Lucky Number #333. My luck only runs out in 9 places. At least of the rest of the day was cool.

Monday, December 14, 2009

the big let-down

No file treads, no luck this weekend. Gonna put up real write ups later but brought home two DNF's from BEND. Was racing really hard then broke my chain in the real race and wanted to strangle myself in it. Luckily, it was eaten by my rear derailleur and no suffocating ensued. Planning to make it up and put the hurt singlespeed-style this weekend at CC#7 and WTC#1. Let the anger out. The loooong walk back to the start/finish. Thinking 3224 kilometers for this?!?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Boughton Farms

I guess I still need to write something on this weekend before I race this weekend. My race went personally very uneventful bu it wasn't that way for the 15 rear derailleurs ripped to shreds. A solid start and I went into the single track second behind Probikes #2. I then took over for like a quarter of a lap and Probikes #1 then attacked. He was gone. By the second lap, the race was pretty done. PB #1 had like a minute gap. And me and PB #2 rode together for the rest of the race for second. Current places 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th then ripped their derailleurs so there was an enormous gap after me and PB #2. So I got 3rd and won the series. Sadly, not very eventful. But at least I got the overall, the overall goal, even without the overall win.

Here are a few more sweet shots by Julies new D5000.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ohio State Champs

John Bryan hosted the cross champs this year at one of the coolest flat parks in Ohio. Last year this was my all time favorite course but this year it honestly was no where near as cool. And they removed a set of log / barriers that I practiced for... for 1.5 hours thanksgiving morning. You know, ones you can ride right up to, on-off, remount quickly and then hit the next one with a foot clipped in all in about 50 yards. Back to the race, I pre-rode for about an hour Saturday at the park finding fast lines and opening up the legs. Hit the start really warm (unlike the rest of the juniors) since I KNOW juniors start fast and did the whole attack fifty yards in thing. That is what the first picture is of from Jeff Jakucyk. I had like a five second gap going into the second corner, cool. The first lap I went so hard. I wanted to put an end to racer's thoughts of me cracking quick. So I made sure they couldn't see me. 10, 20, 30, 40 seconds and by the third and final lap (30 minute race) everyone was telling to me to slow down. In the end, I really didn't slow down but settled down and went a lot smoother and won by about 40 seconds. But the top 4 places IN MY AG were within 1 MINUTE of each other. Yep, it was real close. Once more for the wanna-be-sven-nys-poser-aka-me. My cooldown consisted of racing the cat 3 open race. I had another good second row start and made the front group of twelve. Rode the singletrack real fast and then followed some guy too tight into a 180*. He shot up some KENDA supplied tape into my front/wheel/shoe bike. Since our family doesn't do well with strong tape this year, I slowly picked out every piece as I am guessing 15-20 or so folks quickly passed. Even this great shot by Julie doesn't do it's justice. I am super bad (this is what I should work on) getting going after something dumb like that happens. I wanted to pull over but Derek W rolled past and I jumped on his train and he towed me through the field. I dropped off his pace after 3.5 laps of torture and wound up 22nd of 45 in the open division. I should have scored top 10, honestly. I could write another whole post on how the team did. So I probably will tomorrow on the site. Check it. Thanks again to Jeff Jakucyk (and julie) for not blocking the save as function on your great photos. I really need to pay you especially since your so nice Jeff. And HERE are my photos of the elite masters and elites.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

breaking records one at a time


I seem to have this fetish for carrying lots of stuff in my jacket pockets. But, the other day I simply decided to not were a backpack while riding to the shop but still ended up with a new world record (of mine): 22 items in a single three pocket jersey. 12 Vanilla hammergels, 6 Heed subtle melon packets, 1 pair of Sugoi recovery compression socks, 1 bottle of NUUN, and a small set of front/rear lights. Just saying add it to the record books.


Wednesday I had off school and hit up the Bike Authority for some much needed love to the pit bike. Now A and B bikes are set up exactly the same, 120mm oversized C4 stem. And some new handlebars (same ITM brand) that makes the bikes really feel EXACT. Same fork with matching handlebars equals same stiffness and overall feel. Perfect if a bike change is needed.


Even saved .22 lbs with longer stems/ wider handlebars because of cleaner setup (ie. single spacer) and that wicked nice C4 stem. Even added handlebar tape to the drops.


State Champs tomorrow. Rode for almost an hour scouting up the course. Turny, bumpy and fast are the impressions. We'll see how much I regret doing to two races soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

conversation with a 9th grade fitness teacher

I have to get this sheet signed for a future absence from Wednesday the 9th - Friday the 11th for Cross Nationals at school. My teachers have to sign it and give me homework in advance. I don't know why I had my gym teacher sign at all because she obviously didn't know what the word cyclocross was:

Teacher: "so I didn't know you were into motocross, dirtbiking is what my son does"

Me: "no this is real bikes in real parks"

Teacher: "I didn't know you were into BMX"

Me: awkward silence.... and I walk away.

I was even afraid to compare cyclocross to maybe the TDF or if she had any idea what a Lance Armstrong was. I'd bet she say I didn't know you were into weight lifting.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kirtland Park


After totally sucking big time at this race last year and letting that guy who got 8th in the A's this year beat me (I only mention that to him every time I see him), I was ready to redeem myself. Saturday the TEAM got in a great setup and went through with my idea of going up the amphitheater and Jeff Craft's idea of having a 'ride able' option on the one set of stairs.

So lets get to the point. The legs were feeling good and I again went with the file treads cause they were so darn fast through the start finish area. I knew I would need the most help there too. So I get to the line early, start picking the old gear selection and align right next to Gary B. in the soft mud at the worst spot in the front row. How did the series leaders get this! Whatever, that is why we make the start so long and treacherous at this course before the riding of the stairs. So I rode up the stairs and immediately about half a dozen were dragged in front of the field.


Big 'B' names like Heffner, Shelmire, Henterly, Donatelli, and Karpanski and the newbie to cross Brent Thompson. Aaron Shelmire (I looked at the results to find his name) threw down a first lap attack that only I stuck with. Then once more but it wasn't really an attack as much as his race pace. So I rode mine and he rode his, away from mine. Eventually Bill Henterly caught up to me with about 3 to go. We worked together with me doing the majority in the techy bits, and him the majority on any flat or power section. Then we made an agree to not attack the last lap and continue to work together. He says he wants 3rd and nothing else so I 'attack' up the stairs and I tear through the S turns for 2nd by about 10 minutes or so from first.

I honestly, finally rode a smart, quality race where I wasn't red-lined the whole time. Aaron just had a lot more power and everything else. Total, I bet I could have went twenty seconds faster, which is really nothing compared to previous races which could have been closer to a minute or so. And the fact I finished I bet two or three minutes down from first didn't make me worry about twenty seconds.

The A race was pretty sweet to watch today. HERE are some shots Julie and I took on the D40. That was a good b-day present, letting Jules use my camera, right? Or was saying happy birthday on my blog better?


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

amphitheaters are sweet

print_screen1 Kirtland Park is great course. We can change it every year and it still comes out cool. Its small, right by Lake Erie, and deep in the hood. Yet, it still is one of the most architectural parks with an amphitheater, five full length stairs and dead flats on the north part of the course. So, we have a lot to work with but the course generally is way under a mile. And its hard to decide what to include without flyover ramps. This year, or since last year, I have tried to convince people we can go UP the amphitheater and I think I have finally mapped it out. You also may want to remove those toe spikes, because there will be AT LEAST two sets of stairs (each with about 4 sets of fives) DSC_0017 This is our first of three setups at kirtland, hence the pre-pre-pre cross feel. Don't worry about not making it up the amphitheater, there will be a turn-a-round top spot that Johnny was wheeling up on his 34-18 fixed mountain bike. As long as its dry, we shall go up and you shall love it. DSC_0042 And here is my favorite (only) video kirtland from my california boy Scott Thor, going down the amp with a barrier, from three seasons ago:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kent State

From this SATURDAY, and I finally organized Brett's weekend, SATURDAY and SUNDAY

I'll keep it breif as most of you have heard another one of robert's great race excuses (aka my blog). We missed the slightest things from a perfect course. The start sucked, the gravely U-turn seemed to take down about three dozen in each race, and after the real downhill, the right-hander we missed a few roots and cut it not wide enough. Rumor is we won't be getting this park again so I really wish it could have been perfect, wide woods, smooth transitions, swoopy turns, and a few parts to slow you down, aka steep uphills.

But anyway, I did some uncharacteristic stuff of me:

a) crashed on the first lap; I'm usually a mid-race kinda a guy

b) I started in a ditch and was not top five through the first few turns

c) worked my way up through the field

d) ran at a clip no one laughed at.

After crashing and falling to the very bottom of the top 15, I was this close to pulling the plug. Then I saw Gary Burkholder (my 'nemesis' in the overall points) was right behind and not on his usual form either. So my goal was to get by all the super locals, and finish top 8 to knock out my 9th place Wendy Park.

The depth is amazing in the 'B' field now, you are riding top 15 thinking you are winning. So it was wicked hard to pass and stay away from people. First, Rick Parr- then Scott Marut and I work together for a bit and get Jason Leaman with a few others and then Scott himself on the hill #2 when I RAN FAST. I went off in search of good buddy Paul Donatelli from last CX season, get him with half a lap left. DRILL it up the step to the swirl and unleash a mad sprint. 39-12 on the grass directly at Lynn. I am sneaking up and jump so hard for 7th, John Heffner, but lose by half a wheel (if that) to do a total endo after crossing the line.

Then proceeded to cramp so hard I couldn't get up AT ALL because I didn't want to break a strand of tape after the finish line.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

locals need to read this


Gotta write quick because I couldn't get wireless internet fully done. So, still on the VirginMobile $20 plan with only like 12 hours a month.

Sunday a dozen of us went out to scout of the new venue of KSU. We pretty much solely rode with the Marut's choppin down the 'natural barriers.' We eliminated a run up by making it ridable, but added a shorter, steeper one no one could ride with the leaves still down. The overall venue is really small but the course was about 1.8 miles or so total. That includes about 1/3 double track, pretty passable if you want, one run-up, and one super steep long climb to finish off the woods. So far just one dismount a lap. A few artsy grassy turns, and paved start and a longish loop of gravel crushed stone path with a spiral finishes an approximate 7 minute lap on a dry day for Shawn Adams. File tread do-able if it stays dry. We got some serious cleaning to do Friday and Saturday morning though because there were three separate flats of a group of a dozen or so including a tubular of Nate Sz.

My dad also gave up on the Dugast Typhoon 30c we bought used. Shawn also had an extra grifo 32c he let me have for the rest of the year, thanks! So we (my dad) got it glued up this week and I can try it out in case the mud comes back this year. I even pulled ou my mom's Mitutoyo calipers, that cost nearly as much the tire new, and it did measure of to 31.88mm. Pretty much one of the closer tires that co-inside with their labels.

I am also trying to recover from a bit of road rash I received on Sunday. I thought adding this basketball court would give you a faster lead-up to the hill but quickly found out fresh painted basketball courts, morning dew/rain, and file tread 32 tires don't mix well. But I still finished off a great build week for nationals with 9 hours, what seemed like a thousand intervals, and 3766 feet of climbing not trying to get in climbing + Sundays ride which I bet was another 10,000 ft. Maybe.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

call ups

I am the worst at making decisions for big races. I want to peak at Nationals, but also want to do well at States. But I don't know what category to go with at States. Options: Cat 3 Men or 15-16 AG or both. It seems a bit overkill to do both as in an hour fifteenish straight up of cyclocross but it is my favorite course at John Bryan SP. But I need to decide soon or else I'll get a crappy start position in both! It won't be like the local races where I just pull up 10 seconds before the start on the way side of the front row, or how Chris Nicula will save a front row for me, thanks. The junior is free entry and only half an hour, the cat 3 is the 'B' race and is still a state championship race but costs $20 not that price really matters when we are driving 3/4 across the state. So I still don't really know.

We also pre-registered for Nationals in Bend, Oregon. I'm doing the B non-championship race on Thursday, 10-29, followed by the 15-16 AG race on Friday. Totally planning on getting my butt kicked in both races but getting an idea for what I really need to do next year to hang with the kids my age.

This weekend is supposed to be 60*F plus each day so looking for some more endurance today along with a test out day at Kent State tomorrow. Then a road ride afterwords in case we get too many laps done. Seems to be a 1.8 mile course with 1 or 2 runups and some double track, from what I've heard. A full report with some pictures of the course tomorrow or Monday. Maybe even get to use the XS tread again because they are literally still this clean!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

i have a nikon camera and nokon sealed cables


I saw on a. myerson's site about how he ran full housing on his shifting cables. Though I'm not nutty enough to drill open the cable stops on my new carbon Van Dessels like him, I looked up the idea with my dad. Tuesday we finally got around to it or I did, and he pulled out some Nokon housing and 'fittings' (aka the little silver cups you can adjust length with while protecting the cable.) I guess these were 'the thing' about ten seasons ago. I noticed some quick pro's: lighter, NO openings, easy to adjust length; and con's: time to install, slight increase in friction, SUPER expensive. But since these were throw-aways in that back room of the LBS (MSRP - $56 for one rear derailleur cable marked down to free for past nine years), and my dad is a wrench, this was perfect.

The whole process took about 1.5 hours of distracted working. We glued in my cut down piece of down tube holding rear derailleur cable and perfect! Cable is already stretched a bit but is as smooth without cable stop openings with 100% less chance mud can go into my housing and affect the cable/shifting. This should also work better cleaning bike without anything to shoot into my housing. Now, the only thing that can slow down my shifting is sticky mud like last weekend. Pictured is Ehrlinger's rear derailleur after saturday's mud festival. Got two weeks to get this thing perfect.

*Posted from my new 10.2" hp notebook. Wow I am pro.