Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chagrin River

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka

Well, I won a bike race (the first non-age group event since BVR)! Everything finally clicked at the right time. I even crashed at the right time which is always cool.

The start was slow motion but exactly like Sean and I practiced Wednesday night. Just sitting and spinning to get clipped in before dropping the hammer. So I made it to turn one first, barreled through the chicanes ended up going into the singletrack second behind Drew when he bites it. I run a bit to jump on and ride up and out when he swings a bit wide and I attack, hard.

Going through the wind those first few laps I knew someone was going to catch me. Not to mention all the risks I took through turns to crash a total of four times in the first half of the race. I end up finally getting a nice groove going and start hitting the straights hard and smoothing up those rougher turns. It only took 8 laps to figure out the one right hand bend before the gravel path.

So I got consistent and the sun came out and the gaps starting opening. I can still look back and see 2nd, 3rd positions but with a few 180* turns in front. John, Bill, Julie, Lynn, Mom, and Dad all give me time splits on various parts of the course which is cool to see where I am making up my time. It seems to be in the woods too, always fun.

I kept it rubber side down the last 3 laps and rolled in over a minute up on second, my first ever 'B' victory. Looking forward to trying to repeat this tomorow with an extra hour of sleep!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


After my 12 day adventure of consecutive riding / racing, I took yesterday off and threw down some LT/sprint intervals today. Almost saw my smartstart© cereal again. And tomorrow the skills day includes some much needed trail riding on the cross bike.

Also, looking like cross nationals is a go even though Jules broke the fibula at the Murrysville cross race Saturday. Cast on for 2-4 weeks but mayyyybe back in time for some Bend. Get back fast but we'll probably have a 'B' race photographer now. About the only good thing that comes out of breaking a bone.

And, I was one of the millions who saw the one time showing of Race Across the Sky. Pretty scenic race with cool interview, definitely the best trainer quality movie. Must get for even the roadies on dvd.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


thank god its the weekend. I have gotten to ride every day this week which is cool, even if three of the days were on the rollers. Today I got a pleasant spin around the neighborhoods on my way to the LBS and finally rode my mountain bike again. August 30th was the last time... Decided to skip this weekends racing in P.A. to rest up and attempt to get some of that summer endurance back.

But, the real story is I still don't have costume for Brett's race next Saturday. I saw this death rider today and it reminded me I should probably get a costume going! So, if anyone has any ideas that don't make me look to stupid and let me still 'race', comment please.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

this is what I am talking about

Another great job of photography and videography from just1kelleh. If you don't have time to watch the whole watch the start, it happened just like I said, "I missed my pedal initially but jumped right to the base of the shoe and cranked a bit to get the speed going then clipped in." BTW, I am on the blue bike with the red longsleeve skinsuit. Basically the best video ever of a race from around here. And don't worry A racers, your own video is coming soon. And nine minutes in length! Thanks, we all owe you big time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Todd Field

Standing in the pits at Todd, that same night I nearly bought a pressure washer that holds like 10 gallons of water. The consistency of that mud was something else. I am going to get a new chain this week and grease my bottom bracket from all the cement that sealed everything up. It was something totally new at how tacky that stuff really was.

So I got another good start in a 55 man 'B' field. I missed my pedal initially but jumped right to the base of the shoe and cranked a bit to get the speed going then clipped in. Just like practice, so I got to the first corner in front and drilled it trying to get a slight advantage heading into the run-up and I did. Only passed by 3 people, too. I guess I am still slow at running.

Chased into a great group of four in places 3-6 overall but Gary Burkholder and Darin split it up a bit in the maze while leading. So far the next three laps, I drove our two man train, gradually forward and made up the fifteen seconds to the next two (gary and darin) with the front two still way ahead. Then it got dicey with one to go.

I threw down a pretty solid attack after the bunny hop long and before the section right along the river and got a marginable gap quickly (and can now see 2nd in the distance). I hold it to the run-up when I get passed and had to go down the hill last. BUT WAIT, a lapped rider decides to jump in front of me and open up the gap between places 3-5, and myself. Cool, I have to limp up the slow bogged down hill behind him, then lose all momentum and slowmo crash myself up the next one. Can't make up that 23 seconds again. Thanks a lot. So I roll in 6th what should have been 3rd and am now suffering in the overall since Gary and Brett Rothmeyer beat me.

I hate to make a fuss of this but I looked up what place could have cut me off. I know your name so don't do it again! Should be some photos trickling in soon from Kelle H. again so maybe the steam will burn off my brain by then.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Exit of the spiral into the barriers

Tough muddy day at Spin Cross. Cool race venue, wicked hard course. Worked my way up to 3rd, finished up 6th or 7th in the B field.

Full Report tomorrow. Thanks to Chris and Lorena for the pic.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

todd brings his challenges


In prep for the treacherous run-up at Todd Field this weekend, I worked out a few things to make sure it went as smooth but faster than last season, without actually running at all. I haven't heard if the B race has to go all the way up like two seasons ago now, but it takes like a minute at least for us molasses runners.

1) Make sure you have two working two spikes on each shoes, mine are heavy duty steel. Heavy, reliable, and always working.

2) Get your custom insoles out. You don't need your soles flopping around with your sock. If you never move yours, maybe glue them in if they slip consistently.

3) Have your coach make you run up the steepest hill at Broadveiw 5x, then five more times up the longer gradient sled hill (used in the race) attacking the downhill turn-around. Make him take pictures have him tell you to go faster. Don't do this the day before the race though.

4) The sole of your cleats should be stable and REALLY tight. Mine weren't last week but now they wicked tight.

5) Clean your shoes and bike before the race. Don't start with a heavy bike/shoes. Make sure all pedals are as shiny as a whistle.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Harbin Park


You really take for gran it the local races starting front row. Then you end up at a C2 cross race with 63 other guys who all know how to start and are mostly in front of you. I had this problem at Harbin Sunday and it is by far a bad situation.

I managed to keep it upright through the mud hole and then jumped up about 15 places right along the tape.


That really helped for the death climb after the next few turns. For the locals, just imagine the PAIN hill at Stark, X3 + a steep kicker like the top of Broadview sled hill + with a sand pit 2X longer than Wendy Park waiting you at the top. Then throw in cat 2/3 racers at the start more aggressive than the final corner of a $10k crit and you have yourself a death hill.

But I made it up without crying and was soon joined by teammates Bill and Nate. At first I thought their train would cruise right past but instead I jumped in and started taking my pulls and putting down the hurt out of corners.


Then Cameron, Katsuhiro, Nate Loman, and Andys Burns joined the fun for the rest of the race. I eventually got spit off the last time through the death hill and ended up 42nd, one spot better than yesterday with about 100% more effort.


Overall a great weekend for learning, not for placing. I definitely need to learn how to ride in a CX group now that we end up at least a few bigger races a year. Luckily some of the other family members got paid this weekend!

Java Johnny's


Yet another course I seem to never figure out. I like the turns, the sand pits, but it always seems to come down to pure power at this course which I don't like.

So the start wasn't too hectic really. I started about 5/7 rows with Cameron and Nate right near me. Couldn't get around anyone and went into the sand pits running already. I hate running. I lost some places. But then I would gain them back. The whole race seemed to work like that.

On the drive down we counted the same purple tinted windows Mississippi truck pass us 12 times between 2 hours of driving. Absolutely no gauge of his speed. I think I watched this happen during my race with about six different people. I catch in the turns, sand pit, and they blow by in the uphill gravel path. It got really old really quick. Then trying to get a gap on places maybe 35-40 I come onto the road and hit my front rim SO hard. Totally convinced I flatted so I switched bikes and those people got by me.

Rode the sand pit both ways every lap to 43rd place of 55 overall in the smokin' 2/3 race. Wow I hate starting that far back and losing motivation so quickly. At least I wasn't too close to getting lapped.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

552 photos later..

I let Julie borrow my camera both days to get some cool shots of the 2/3 race. Then I took over for the elites.

And probably my favorite shot I personally took, sand money: DSC_0433

Race Reports Soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

well i'm going, but


I am set for three-cross this weekend. The plan is to leave Friday after school and get to do days 2 and 3 like last year. But I still don't know what category to do. Here are the options:

Junior Age Group - Least amount of participation along with least prize least and probably overall a drop in competition.

Cat 2/3 Men - Likely chance of competitors with the same abilities, 100%. Participation is almost too many studs. Competition is over the top including teammates!

U19 Men - Just added to the rule book but not on Bike Reg dot com. Probably high competition, lower participation, and high prize list.

I just checked today as registration closed along with the other 1116 people racing this weekend, 60+ are planned each day in the 2/3 race which I pre registered for. Also there are plenty of teammates in that race including Tony M., Johnny P., Mike B., Nate Z., and Scott G. So basically no chance of placing but a good chance of riding with tons of people which after last weekend (Saturday) I don't know if I really like too much. Mainly people slow too much for turns then accelerate too much for me it seems, the smoother the better is my thought. Oh well, if that's the biggest thing I am worrying about this weekend, that is good. I think I might race 2/3.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Something seems to click for me at this course. I always seem to dial everything in from the start of the season and start to get top form from racing and training. And it happened again this year.

I finally got a classic Sroka 'whole-shot' by a few bike lengths. Just beautiful when your foot drops down and is already is clipped in. I went in 3rd place into the rolling woods and came out third but picked up a place during the ditch before it all spread out at the end of lap one.

So I was towing the group of 2nd - 5th place with Brooke about five seconds up the way. I can make it across but am thinking I'll totally crack if I do so I sit tight. Let Rick take one pull, then tow. And tow. Break up the group and ride away just driving it. And chase..


And chase.

And chase and get pictures taken.

And chase and make sure I'm not getting caught.


Keep it steady. Everything the same each lap. Take single barrier, ride way right, sprint, settle in.. eat mud. Stay by flags and get driest line, repeat. So it really blended good. I could have went maybe 2 seconds faster the whole race having to tap the ditch once. Brooke pulled away at about three seconds a lap and had about twenty or so at the end. But second is plenty good when you race as clean and as hard as I did!

Smoothest run event I've ever been too, honestly. Not just registration, but lap cards, splits, and the fans (especially those guys screaming in my ear at the ditch)! Great race Kevin. Proof I really got 2nd in the B race. My shots. Just1kellehs. Julies. The real guy. Dons.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Alum Creek

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka

Quick write up before we head out to Leroy for the day. Felt decent but got a bad 'Lemans' start with bikes flipped wrong side up. So it was so backed up about mid pack in the B race heading into a one rideable slot only section. Used the trackstand skills and made it out not too far back but by then the leaders (Dad and John) were way gone. Not good after the first three turns.

So it wasn't very motivating but kept going to get some practice riding with lots of folks. Ended up about middle of the pack or so of around 45 which I was alright with. Even switched out the bike a time just to get a feel for bike switches. All just practice for the Lake Effect series anyway.

Dad and John pulled away and won overall, 45+, and U35 B between the two of them. Julie rolled a tufo off her Zipp at the start but still rolled in 3rd in Open women. Matt Weeks is a god, won the A race by over three minutes after losing his contacts and not seeing anything.