Sunday, December 25, 2011

oof

Yes, a training blog on Christmas morning. I will attempt to enlighten you on how hard/dumb it is to be training today. It is kind of funny, I know a few people going out riding today who are already training for next bike racing season. . . while I still need to finish up this one on a high note.

USA Cycling made it final around this time last year, that nationals the next year wouldn't be in that calendar year. To be more similar to the Euro racing calendar, our Nationals have been moved to the first week of January. Initially, I was all excited how fun it will be to train through winter break. But, now that we are here, I quickly realized either 40° and rain, or 30° and flurry's isn't as fun as crushing intervals mid-fall. Sure, you feel like a true hard-belgian-man when you get home covered in salt and you have ruined another pair of booties, but, is a lot harder to crush yourself when the climate is fighting against you.

I took 4 straight days off after the final Cap City trying to boost my motivation to train/race three more times this year. Since then, I have been mixing up riding a good bit trying to fight the boredom of the trainer and constantly destroying my bikes.
I haven't done many hill repeats too recently, but I did a lot in the early part of the season. The idea is to stress your system and teach yourself how to recover faster. The pink is power and the red is heart rate. You could commonly find me doing these on Wednesdays, hoping to maintain my fitness before the next weekends racing without totally blowing up my legs. If I was trying to come into a weekend fresh, I would make sure to do only endurance/recovery/openor rides in a week along with one of these hill workouts.
Here is a power file from yesterday on the trainer. I usually can't stand to do tempo efforts on the trainer but yesterday I really wanted a specific workout. I usually blame my lack of trainer riding on my lack of muscular endurance, where I physically can't push the pedals that consistently, but it is probably more a mental endurance problem. I managed to get done 20 minutes of a solid tempo, then do 5 repeats of 2 minutes at LT power, then two minutes rest. My legs didn't really hurt at all from this workout, but man my indoor capability is hurting today. Luckily it is up to 34° outside!
Here is hopefully my secret training plan for nationals: Doing intervals on what I think will be similar terrain and course conditions. Like woah that is original! I didn't take any pictures the day it snowed about two inches, but absolutely went out and shredded the gnargnar on the local parks thinking it will be similar to Chicago/Nationals. I tried to make ruts and different turn angles that would teach to me to be slightly better at cornering when it gets crappy contrary to KingsCX, where simply put I forgot how to ride in the mud. So I basically scout out a lap or two, warmup on the road, then rip off some tempo laps testing my speed in all the turns. Pretty much like all cross training sessions, except this is when its crappy outside!!! SECRET!!!!
I will put up some less boring pictures of said ruts, but here something to get your juices flowing for today. Ok, time for some zone two.

Friday, December 16, 2011

4 more weekends, 4 more races

Our race at Kirtland Park went off smooth and was quite highly attended being the series finale. The course was laid out nearly perfectly with lots of features but still with some good pedaling sections in between hence the perfect 7 minute lap splits.
I was pretty amped to crush the race beforehand, but, lining up myself in the third row kind of deemed that not impossible, but quite difficult for a mere me. I came through the first few turns outside the top 15 but soon got my head into it and rode the hardest second lap of all time, moving up to 6th position. I could tell I had a good lap because me and Twining crossed at the exact same spot we did after the first lap, too bad it meant I was still thirty seconds down . . . Tony dropped back a little then I managed to keep the gap to the back of the fast guy train around twenty seconds, until they really started throwing down. 'Ole Danny Quinlan started to get serious also and flew by me with about four laps to go. I had realized he was coming and tried to show all the people there I could hold him off but my lack of hour long racing recently didn't help.. Then Nate Ziccardi passed by with two laps to go. I lost most motivation and just plugged along for 7th on the day. Respectable, but not quite what I was thinking.
Then Thanksgiving happened. I guess before that happened I got super sick the night before and couldn't enjoy any food outside of toast the whole day. My flu-like symptoms remained with me for the next few days so I got in a whopping one hour of bikin' in the whole 10 days before the next racing weekend. And that one hour wasn't even the day before so I felt far from "opened up" for the weekend. The weekend I am referencing is the Kings' CX, Cincinnati-region weekend.
Saturday's course was pretty darn heavy, and hard to navigate, mud. Locals who came down compared it to the Brooklyn course, just stickier and cooler. Funny enough, I was at the OVCX races when Brooklyn was going on, so my mud skills were pretty lacking. Needless to say, the legs weren't cooperating on Saturday and I got another crappy result. But, at least I raced the sickness out of me by finishing and got some in practice for Sunday's showdown.
Sunday I came out swinging like I usually attempt to do on a second race day. My 3rd row start quickly changed into about 4th place by the first technical section. This technical, uphill start stretch section I noticed had one very secret, hard to see, line. It was deteriorated by the second lap from close to 100 people on the course, but, for the split second I needed it, it was there. Well, my gamble paid off and I was able to ride up the finish stretch and get to take the lead after only half a lap. I wanted to drive it hard and get away from everyone so I could focus on staying smooth. But, my lack of mud racing had me take a backseat to some other junior bro's who could actually drive their bikes in the mud. Apparently, losing time in every corner doesn't help trying to win a bike race. Eventually, I ended up 3rd overall, 1rst cat3 (phat upgrade points) and at least felt like I had some legs left in my season. Then this past Sunday was the finale in the Cap City Cross Series. I had a goal of trying to stay with the two fast guys for close to half the race, but I barely made it a lap with them. I don't think the course favored any three of us "Cleve-O's", but, I still could/should have faked having phat watts for more than a lap. I sat up and recovered a bit, thinking about how pedal-y the course was and how much drafting would play a role over the next 8 laps. The first guy to come up was none other than Mr. Columbus himself, Spencer. At first I thought, who is this guy wearing Spencer's Jeni's kit? Then I saw the beer-gut and was like, woah man, I need to beat this guy because it actually is Spencer. We worked pretty darn well together for about the next 45 minutes until I unleashed the mother of all attacks to drop Spencer. Actually, another "C-bus'r" was coming up relatively quick and I wanted to make sure I had enough room to pad the pockets and get on the podium. I got clear quickly and was able to finish 3rd, where I predicted myself to be, just not looking back and waiting for people to ride with after so soon. I should have been disappointed, but was quite indifferent knowing the end result would either way have been the same. After four days of rest since then, I am ready to put in a big push towards Nationals. I don't have any intentions of winning, but gaining some experience and trying gauge just how much faster the kids fresh from Euro_Land will be next year. It will be an experience in Madison for sure.

Monday, November 14, 2011

2nd, 2nd, 7th, 5th, 12th, 11th, 36th, 16th

I guess I have some catching up to do on the 'ole blog. Looking at the results on the top of the you might think I have been getting slower, but the quality of the racing I have done has gotten better and better these last 4 weeks. I still might be getting slower, but at least my crossresults.com ranking has been rising! I left off right before the Ohio State Championships which were placed much earlier in the year this year. So here we go:

States' Day 1: Saturday was age group championship racing. I was in the 17-18 year old group since in cross you are approximately 43 years older than you are in real life. I got a good start and figured riding away from everyone would be my tactic. But, tactics did come into play in all the races as the course was far too easy. My buddy Sam Dobrozsi had good legs and was able to stay with me all day, that usually never happens.. I had no legs and couldn't get away without any really hard sections. Short story short, I screwed up the sprint and Sam won. That wasn't too embarrassing but having it be such a tactical race that 3 single speeds got by us kind of was. States' Day 2: I was out for revenge. I knew I had good legs the second I got on my bike. Unfortunately, that bike started to fall apart on my even before the start. My right pedal's spring suddenly was loose on the line so I had a bad front row start. Also, my shifter started getting the all-too-common, I AM GOING TO BREAK SOON! Like any idiot, I tried to avoid this but had to change bikes after two laps. But, when you have good legs, who cares?! I can do a half lap in my 11t, this course is flat! I swapped bikes and was still able to make the lead group of Bruce and I. We traded some pulls and got a pee-break established gap. Everyone was screaming, "SANDBAGGERZ!" at us. I didn't like it very much. I thought I had Bruce under pressure so the last two laps I kept digging in my sections but he kept coming back. I guess we were both riding zone two those first five laps....Then in the sprint for the final sector (which was basically the sprint for the race) we got a little argy-bargy and I backed off like an idiot. Bruce led onto the pavement and won. 2nd place, twice. That wasn't anywhere near what I came to do...

Next up was Brett's weekend at his parent's place. The course suits me well and I felt like abusing myself after my idiotic showing at States'.

Brett's Day 1: I continued my dumb riding, but I took the "abusing myself" idea a little too literal crashing sooo much, sooo hard. I guess it was really my first 'muddy' race of the year so that is my excuse. It was halloween day so don't think I race in my prepboy-twining-costume (and of course destroyed falling in the river- that is why it is called Chagrin River Festival I suppose) I still ended up 7th, my best NEOCX race up til then, but more because the turnout was a little light for the A race than me riding well. Brett's Day 2: I started well and was riding with The Paul Martin for the first three laps in 4th and 5th until I rolled my fancy tire off the rear rim. I let some air out and gingerly rode 1/4 of a lap to the pit when I switched to my less aggressive tire-d bike. But, the course was drying out a good bit and I started riding even harder. I rode through 7th place (pictured below) and eventually caught back up to Paul before the ride-able logs. I kept my pace smooth and Paul let me have 5th place, my first semi-podium in an NEOCX race. Next up were two very highly attended UCI events in Cincy3 and Louisville USGP. I was doing the cat 2/3 race since I am a loser and didn't buy a UCI license to race the P-R-O junior category. Since I am going for perfect attendance this year at school, we shot down Friday night to both races. So, in turn, we got to miss my least favorite course on day 1 uci3.

UCI3 Day 2: This is such an awesome course that Sam and his dad put together each year. I had a pretty good start and just rode steady for 45 minutes trying to save as much gas as possible for Sunday. Flecher was back and forth from crashing, rolling tires, and just general suckage at the front so we eventually were riding together trying to catch 10th place. We didn't catch Mayhew, my secret nemesis, but we sprinted it out for 11th, with Greg winning the epic sprint by inches. Flecher was pumped he beat 14 year-old superstar Ian, also! If you look at my expression, I clearly let Greg have this sprint and wanted to be nice to him after he had a bad ride. I was pleased with 11th hoping I would have best legs ever at Harbin on Sunday.

UCI3 Day 3: A lot of fresh legs showed up, and although mine weren't the best ever, I rode the hardest I have ever ridden. Plain and simple, I suffered like no tomorrow out there. I was loosing five seconds a lap to everyone on the power climb but just kept chugging up to 9th place!!! But, as I do in every race, I had to screw up a nice result and crashed with a little of a lap to go and two more lamb chop fellow, including Mayhew, got by me. I ended up 11th which I was once again ok with knowing the course isn't exactly my style and I didn't have best legs ever. That brings us to this past weekend, the third stop on the USGP series, in Louisville Kentucky. Being the site for worlds, along with being part of a national series, there were some HUGE fields each day. Saturday and Sunday I would partake in close to 120 rider cat 2/3 fields. Saturday I had a 5th row start and a 3rd row Sunday, even though I was #218 both days...

Louisville Day 1: I felt stuck at 70%. That feeling just stinks. I rode smooth after blowing up after trying to move up. So I just tried to stay with every group that passed (loosing ~20 spots in a 5 lap race, you get a lot of chances) and hoped I would make it to the line in one piece. I eventually finished, albeit hours after most in 36th. Louisville Day 2: BEST LEGS EVER! DUMBEST ROBERT YET! I was MR. AGGRO himself (captain aggressive) sunday at the start. Like mentioned, I started third row, behind the man himself, 14 year-old (racing age 57) Ian McShane. Ian drove our two man train to 7th and 8th spot by the first turn! I was pumped. Like so pumped I started passing more people and was 3rd by the flyover. Holy crap I am winning this thing is seriously what I thought. Then I rode into the back of second place and lost an instant 15 spots. I found Ian's wheel again though and we slithered back into the top 10. I was able to latch onto the lead group of 8 that formed on the second lap before some KCCX punk ate it right into me. There goes another 10 spots. After me freaking out for twenty seconds spent rolling on the ground, I got into a group of 3 riding for 14th spot with one and half laps to go. Man, so many places lost on such little mistakes. I was content with this, which was wrong, since I got mega-pinched in the last technical spot for a dismal 16th place. Well, dismal for BEST LEGS EVER! This one was a mega coulda-woulda-shoulda. Oof, I think top 10 was possible barring me being an idiot. Ok, that ends today's month catchup. Our final NEOCX race, and our final promotion of the year, is this sunday at Kirtland Park. Hopefully I will get you some updates on that Friday or Saturday.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

holy october and too much info

I can't believe October is already here! Now that I think of it, it is almost over too!! The State Cyclocross Champs are less than two days out and I need to get into fine tune some things to be ready.. Anyway, I should have probably posted my schedule a bit earlier but here is the complete thing anyway: As you can tell I started writing this post over two weeks ago and haven't filled in Orrville or Cap City #2. I think both were 11th place. Maybe 10th in Columbus. I'm not sure. I put the whole Jingle Cross weekend on the schedule but I doubt we will be doing those races. Most of the others are actual possibilities. Also, Kirtland may possibly be moved to Sunday to better coincide with the rest of our series. And here are the bicycles I have been (and will continue to) riding this season:
I have one white bike that has two rings in the front. And I have one red bike with one ring in the front. *After some recent episodes (dropping my chain multiple times in Dayton and breaking off my rear derailleur in Columbus) I finally switched this bike over to dual chainrings also. I also caved and bought some cool guy Thorne chainrings in a 38/44 combo. While I am on the info drop (productive streak) here are some pictures from the last few weeks taken by me when I have time (or my mom) and julie:
- Cascade Park and Julie's
- Wendy Park and Julie's
- Kent Stark and Julie's
- John Bryan and Julie's
- Orrville and Julie's
and...
- more actual bike pictures
Hopefully some of are you and not just me...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

change of plans

I'm not going to go through a whole complaint list about how my race went Sunday. The original plan was to do Cap City Big Run Saturday, then Spin's Willoughby Sunday. Well, apparently Cap City moved when I wasn't looking and Spin got cancelled due to flooding in the park.

So, Sunday we motored down to Columbus-ish for a very difficult hour of racing. I felt pretty flat from not riding Saturday while my Dad and Julie felt flat from actually doing something on Saturday: trail building in our actual home-town (much more later) Either way, I suffered like no other and my stomach hurt from overheating and the bumps. But, I rode steady for an hour and wasn't even too close to getting lapped, but it wasn't quite the confidence-inspiring ride I was looking for going into I think five straight weekends of bigger 2-race weekends. Having no "pop" on a course like that just doesn't work. I also managed to break my bike on the last lap and had to walk/jog a good bit. Let's just put it this way, it was just nice to finish... But, as I know far to well, you learn something from every race and I am very much looking forward to more racing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

if it's not one thing it's another

Someone asked me before the race Sunday, "top five today, right Robert?" maybe slightly joking knowing how good the competition is at even our local races.

I responded something like, "all the fast guys are here today and I'd be happy to be in the top ten if I am lucky..."

It is funny because someone else asked me after the race how it went after getting eleventh and I said, "good for about half the race then crappiest ever... so mad... so disappointed"

I then later explained to an even different someone that when you know you are feeling good during the race, then screw up ever so slightly, loose focus, and lose five spots over the last four laps, it is disappointing. Even if, you only finished one spot lower than your goal. The end result wasn't too bad but I will remember from this race was having a good one, then not finishing well.

It is weird. It used to always humor me how intense guys got in the A race, but now I understand how. I don't know where I was going with this but either way Sunday I felt good and enjoyed the course. And because of that I was/am mad how the result came out. But, as my buddy benjacat says, it is just bikin'. Perspective. I've been using Jeff Craft's method of not blowing your gasket early on. I started in the back and slowly picked off and maneuvered by riders into a nice group early on the second lap. This second group soon split up and I found myself riding for 8th/9th place with Brent Evans. I sat on Brent for a lap then somehow got a gap running the run-up. I used this momentum and rode up to Jim Baldasare. Dan Quinlan and I had a nice battle somewhere in here to before I think a crash took him back a few spots. I should also mention SteevO flatted or switched bikes after a nice wreck and came storming past somewhere around the 5th lap. As luck would have it, Jim was having a rough day and going backwards when I caught. I managed to go through him also and latch onto Erik Lesco riding in 6th. Just as I was going to try and attack Erik with 4 laps to go (of 9) something started grinding on my front chainring. I figured it was a stick or something. My big ring was barely turning over so I noted to my teammate Nate in the pits that I wanted my spare bike. I rode the 6.5-7.5th lap in my little ring as Dan and Jim got back around me putting me 9th.
(big ring still)
Ok, hold on to the place now, still top 10. But wait! My pit bike is working but didn't like my tire pressure (too much- so much my back starting complaining) so for my 8.5th lap Szabo tells me my bike is fixed and I swing back into the pits. I lose a few seconds and I can now see Brent/Greg reeling me in.
(My dad tells me to go faster but I just can't in my little ring!)
I loose focus and shift down to my little ring and now can't get back into my big ring. Flecher comes by and says he has 5 seconds on Brent, let's finish this out. But Greg drops me across the field stretch while in his big ring. I give up and Brent blows by me. 11th it is. Phew... 6th place sounds so much better than 11th. Stay focused my friends.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

last weekend before this weekend.

Julie, Dad, and I swung a trip down to somewhere dry near Dayton, Ohio this weekend for some good 'ole aggressive OVCX racing. Needless to say, I am still looking for that elusive victory this year.
I got pinched in a bit at the start saturday and had to do a really, really hard first lap effort to get in the front group. I could tell I felt pretty good because I was able to recover after that first lap and sit in at the front group still. We had 5 persons in the group and weren't really working together but we had a big gap anyway (the sandbagger race as most would call it) Tony and I made sure no one was riding away until he had an untimely tangle with course tape and dropped back from the lead group. Mike Jernigan and I kept riding hard and dropped the other two in the group until a different guy bridged across midrace. He tried riding right through us (awesome) and I was like, "who is this guy?!," but he eventually calmed down and resided on the back of lead trio. We started rotating through but with one to go the real attacking started. I was surprised that our last lap was only 4 seconds faster than two to go, but, it was 30 seconds harder between the constant big accelerations and slowdowns. We each gave it a little gas but I soon realized we were going to come into together. I felt relatively confident in my sprint and got in Mike's wheel into the last 180°. I wound up in a gear two easy (get it, I shifted down two too many times) and was reeling him in but couldn't get around in the 11 inches of pavement I had to work with. They even still let me on the podium after that weak sprint. Tony and I talked a bit after the race and even though it didn't seem like we were going as hard as an A race up north here in Cleveland, one small mistake and we couldn't make it back onto the front group. Sunday was my turn for that small mistake... The starting uphill was very long and T and I capitalized on our 2nd row spots moving up to 1rst and 2nd rather quickly. I drove it pretty hard for a lap and only one other dood was able to bridge up so our lead trio again was formed. The other dooder who came up was insanely powerful up the 2 separate one-minute drags and me and Tony had to work together to catch him each half lap after he gapped us there. On the fourth of five and a half laps, as Tony and I were just catching up through the logs (he was running and me and T were riding) I dropped my chain. This was probably to be expected considering I was rather out of control each lap and one lap even legit bunny hopped the first log we came in so hot. Of course, my chain was a bit jammed in between my chainguard and I lost 4 spots and 16 seconds. "I guess our phat gap wasn't as big today," I thought to myself as 4 doods came ripping by.

The only reason I kept pushing it was when I rolled through the finish stretch and the announcer said "schrokkuh is cracked! schrokkuh is cracked! He went from the lead to 7th this last lap!" Everyone's hero 14-year-old Spencer had caught me and I got pissed for some reason at this abuse. I sprinted past their group and back into 4th but couldn't get 3rd back after he had rolled through the group. To be honest, my legs were feeling pretty jello like after spending 16 seconds doing the lawnmower dance to get my chain out. Jokes on Kyle (the winner) though after that lame off balanced attempt at a victory salute. Just kidding bud. And me looking quite pleased to be OTB of the podium. It was a fun weekend though, and its nice to know I have the legs to win some type of race, even be-it a cat3 sandbagger race. Julie had two solid rides netting two more top 10s to the résumé and Dad crushed single-speed on Sunday with Kastu. He also rode in the elite races both days and got in the money Sunday!