Tuesday, October 30, 2012

slight advances in mediocrity

Internet friends, in order to not overload you on one mega-post, I did my write-up on our trip to Colorado two weekends ago below. Now onto State's and NEOCX #7 and 8. So Carry on. 

We went to the Ohio state cyclocross championships last weekend. I completed my secret no-openors approach on Friday and felt like I was dragging my legs around on Saturday but still got to win the junior category. But this, coupled with a long cooldown, led to BEST LEGS EVER on Sunday for the real deal cat 1,2 showdown.  

The start was kind of silly with order of registration for call-ups (?) but being only a 21 person field, no one cared to complain. I attached myself right onto Paul Martin's wheel which I am realizing now is also kind of silly because of Paul's acceleration-heavy approach to life. BUT WHEN YOU HAVE THE BEST LEGS EVER, NOTHING CAN GO WRONG. So four (very short) laps in, PROppe has already decided it is time to launch and is dangling off the front by maybe 6 or 7 seconds. I am marking Paul like a dork (this was a crit, right?) when I eat it going on the uphill of the whole course. Dropped chain, ok don't panic, no one in the front group is trying yet anyways. Get going again, dropped on the inside of the bottom pulley on the rear deraiuller also (?!) so back off the bike. Ernie and Gamm roll by just off the lead pace group. Ernie is a seasoned, smart guy though and waits for me to hopefully get us both back to the front group of 6. I start pulling then Ernie goes to work in the real twisty stuff when we get to said uphill corner again. Roll tubular. End of chase. End of podium chance. End of life. Not really, but I've never been so mad during a race. I rolled her back on and scooted to the pit and dropped down to 15th. . .I kept going half-heartedly on my file treads (JUST LEFT THEM ON PIT BIKE BECAUSE WHO NEEDS A PIT BIKE ON A DRY DAY WITH BEST LEGS EVER) so my chase really was ill-equiped. Ended up 11th, again. I really wish and feel like that result could have had one less 1 on it but hey. I don't mean to sound delusional or living in a fantasy world but I really felt like I could have pulled that one down with ma dude JPRO's
As much as I wanted to unleash the anger inside me, I felt like I was simply riding around at Brett's two-day NEOCX halloween spectacular. I didn't feel great or terrible either day, but also couldn't kill myself like I wanted to. But, I was riding in third place pretty early on both days and apparently that was ok for my mind, so I simply continued through the motions for my third places over the weekend. WHOOPIDEEDOOO! After the race I (appropriately in my jailbreak outfit) thought of one question both days: 

tale of two races

Two weekends ago now, we were posed a nice option of staying with our recently transferred Boulderite friends- the Morrissey's, along with being able to do the USGP's just up the road in Fort Collins. Colorado is pretty much the coolest place ever so I knew we couldn't go wrong. I have only done the Louisville gp's once before but once was enough to know all about how highly attended and well run events the usgp has to offer so this trip really was a win-win (besides the actual racing part that is)

Anyway, this year I am racing my last season as a junior for cross and wanted to start doing some bigger races since I want to have a killer later part of the season. Originally, the usgp series was put on by exergy. Exergy pretty folded though due to bankruptcy so some of the events were cut back, including removing the UCI portion of the elite 17-18 category. This essentially whittled down the field of the half dozen super, super-fast kids that need to scoop up UCI points for freaking WORLD CUPS. So, I was only left to deal with the fast kids of Colorado, but considering everyone is a P-R-O in Colorado, I had my hands full. And I didn't even mention racing at altitude for the first time!

The first day it started pouring right before our race. I got a boss start from the second row for once and everyone kept crashing so I was for real sniffing out the front of the race before the course really got treacherous. Since everyone is a P-R-O in Colorado, everyone cool switched to their mud-tired bike after the first half lap and my handling skills were instantly, not only neutralized, but counter-acted as everyone's real deal tires cut through my perfect dry tire lines. Then I started crashing my brains out. People I talked to after the race would be like, "oh, I went down over there" and another would say, "oh, mine was a little after that section" and I could say "so did I" to every single section of the course. I guess my lack of mud racing on dry tires finally caught up to me. My head wasn't in it the last few laps after my crashed but I still pushed hard enough not to get caught by any more juniors. 

Day two I was determined to not back down after the start. I think in our local hour long races, after about 20 minutes, there is a good lull for about 20 minutes, then it is picked back up again in the final 20 to make sure your place isn't lost. In fact, I know this is true since I KEEP STRAVA IN CYCLOCROSS, haha. Anyway, I crushed myself for the full 45 minutes (elite junior races are2 only 40 minutes- but when you are ~3 minutes down on the winnner...) and literally was at the limit the whole race. But I ended up with 11th place, again. I am going to blame the altitude for my best effort of the year. 

Here are the time splits from Fort Collins of day one's mentally checking out vs day two's "staying in the game" for the full race.

(I am too lazy to mess with the formatting but you get the idea internet friends)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

one more thing

I was joking around after the last race about if someone in our series had been secretly motorpacing, I don't think it would really help anyway with the slogfest kind of racing we have had. After about the first third of a lap, everyone is stuck mashing around below 80rpm for nearly the whole course. It kind of sucks for people who have natural leg-speed but at the same time it is really teaching us all how to ride better in the mud for bigger races later in the year. Speaking of bigger races later in the year, I might be seeing this guy in the video this weekend at a race!

Monday, October 8, 2012

more progress + muddy races make good pictures

I had a rest week leading up to the neocx #5 euclid race this weekend so I was expecting to feel good. The good news is I felt good, but the bad news is I didn't win. But I figured out a few very obvious things I need to work on, and the best part is I wasn't losing that much time at all running with fresh legs. Therefor I am not tempted to run at all.
I put in toe spikes and rode as much I could with momentum then really pushed myself on the runups. Having ok fitness but not much form, I seem to be able to recover if I just push myself but not try to win the race running. 
So onto the things that need immediate work. I crossed lines a bunch in the mud to not fall. I didn't ever fall and I dabbed a total of once in the whole race. I probably need to take a little bit more risk on flat, tight turns and just fly through the rut instead of gently crossing over it safely.
This slow crossing of the ruts lead to a difficult acceleration at a very low cadence. Note the effort and "heel scrape" needed in this picture. I was nearly falling off the back of my saddle trying to restart in a few sections. This would make sense since the lowest cadence for intervals I have ever done is probably 85 rpm. Then, once I could going again I would settle into my usual 95 or so rpm. In a true muddy situation (this race was more wet than muddy) I would probably need to drop it down a cog to maintain traction and really propel myself forward. I also got lazy once the front group of three got away. Zak Dieringer was slinging to his quote "best race ever" when he noticed I instantly put ten seconds into him once I saw him. I told him yes, I was riding a comfortable tempo trying to not mistakes then once I saw the need to put in a real dig, I did so. 

Boring real race report: Got the actual holeshot. Front group got away in said "grinding the gear" sections on the second lap. Kind of broke some spirit when it started raining again. Stayed steady and Brett Davis yelled at me to stay on it since one of the front three would have a mechanical. As if he heard it, JawnP broke his chain when he finally got a gap. Watched him take off leg warmers so he could run to the pit. Laughed hysterically. Rode into 3rd then almost got caught by said JawnP after he got his pit bike. I guess it was pretty spread out even though it was only 50 minutes. So yeah, 3rd place woohoo (sarcasm in place for last sentence)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

an unforgiving sport

I don't know how many of you folks have seen the transition series that covers Euro racing at its finest, but I am remembering an interview with Jon Page that described racing so well. Page finally got to win a race after a long season of battling bad luck. Flats, crashes, and illness all barred Page even more than usual. It wasn't worlds, a world cup, or a superprestige for that matter, but a smaller race with only a single line of maybe twenty fans watching the finish. Page was probably there for the start money since I believe it was a post-worlds race, but anyway, Page finally got to ride away from an entire field for the first time that season. Page pulled his signature (he doesn't win much in Europe) victory salute of riding a one-handed wheelie across the finish line. Being in Belgium, the rain from the morning hadn't yet dried, and Page slid out his rear wheel finish line and crashed. He still won obviously, but crashing on the finish line isn't the most professional thing to do. He got up and just laughed at how his season had went. Even winning a race he couldn't have good luck. He talked about how much fitness he had and how the first race he won this year was five months after he had planned to win his first race. But it was just enough satisfaction, to make him want to come back for another year.

Apparently that is how I need a race to go for me. I need to be so much more freaking fit than anyone in the race that bad luck just can't go against me. And when it does, I am so far ahead it doesn't matter. Lots more races coming up, hopefully I get some satisfaction out of them.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

mobile update on wendy park

Well the second race of the year didn't really fall my way either. The field was a little deeper but in reality I just felt even worse. But the good news is, even being stuck at 70% I still got 9th. The bad news is, I was stuck at 70% and my bike held up for once. So next week, no more user-mistakes: no more tackle football the day before, and more air in the rear tire on a dry day, so I don't roll it over in every single turn. I need to remember I am 155lbs and not 105lbs anymore...little improvements will hopefully generate a good bit better results.

Friday, September 14, 2012

summer of setbacks leads to the real season

So yeah. The end of summer didn't exactly pan out the way I wanted. A number of things kept me from putting in tons of miles.

But anyway, I made to cross season. Maybe a little under-trained, a little under-raced, but ready to let 'er rip.

But I kind of kind got ripped apart at the first race hopefully due to there being a lot of running but who really knows... The race was at Cascade Park which the past two years has meant a really short, bumpy course with a lot of pavement. This year, though, it rained, therefor the pavement was taken out, making the course short distance wise, but timing was about the same. It was funny- half the course was a slog and the other half was beaten down to almost pavement-esque grass.
Either way, I thought it would be important to be near the front for the first of two long-ish running sections. What I didn't realize is my teammate Steve Twining has had enough of losing (forever) so he basically attacked half way into the first lap and was gone. Therefor, no distinct front group formed, and I basically crushed myself from a 2nd row start up the first part of the sled hill to get into the long running section redlined. The "group" started splitting up in the first running section and only one's and two's rode together the rest of the race. In hindsight, the race wasn't really won or lost on the first lap in such a long race and I just pinned it for nothing but training...

So here is the big difference from when Steve is dicking around 2011 (dry) trying to tactically ride in the front group to in 2012 (wet) when he isn't having that losing stuff anymore.
The race broke apart like I said on lap one and I was battling in the 4, 5, 6 positions with Brent Evans and Mike Mihalik. Brent and I got away from Mihalik around lap 4 then my seatpost fidangled (that means my seat slammed up- not even on a remount either?!) so I had to pit, twice. It was muddy but I don't think pitting was the right strategy. Brent got away from me pitting then I gave up so I got 5th.

Kind of disappointing, but there are a lot more races to come and I will be more prepared for battle.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

rapha rising climbing wrap-up and thorn tt

Am I going to be that guy who starts blogging about his strava adventures? Maybe, especially since that is what I was up to most of the last week. So, the week (in stava terms) played out like this:

Monday: 1.5hrs of easy hill repeats at 2812ft of climbing. eight cat 4 climbs.
Tuesday: ~4hrs of heavy rolling terrain at 3780ft of climbing. four cat 4 climbs.
Wednesday: 3.25hrs of mountain biking with repeats at 3094ft of climbing. three cat 4 climbs.
Thursday: 3.25hrs of easy repeats then group riding at 4351ft of climbing. four cat 4 climbs.
Friday: 2hrs of easy hill repeats + commute at 4284ft of climbing. eight cat 4 climbs.
Saturday: ~3.2hrs of mountain biking with repeats 4101ft of climbing. three cat 4 climbs.
Sunday: 1.75hrs of mountain biking including tt at 636ft of climbing. no categorized climbs.

This week ended up being my 3rd highest week of climbing in history coming in at 23,508ft. The first place week doesn't really count as we were in the high mountains and riding a bunch with 30,318ft. The second place week was the last week of the previous strava climbing challenge where I just rode hill repeats everyday after school. 24,567ft is about the maximum amount of climbing you can get in a 16.5hr week. At least in the all too flat Northeast Ohio. 

Anyway, I finished the climbing challenge in the top 1,000 of about 9,400 persons so I guess not too bad. I was tempted to go "all out" and just ride every chance I got last week but being days 3-10 of a phat 21/22/23 day final cyclocross training block, it didn't make much sense to kill myself. I like competing in the Strava challenges to complete them, but having my life center around them to win them may not help my racing or life in general. Maybe next time though, haha. 
My dad convinced me to race the 331 Thorn Trail Time Trial on Sunday at Findley State Park. I would have went for a nice, long ride but my dad stays I need to stay social and not just do hilly "strava related" rides by myself all the time. 

Surprisingly enough, my legs felt pretty good after our easy 1hr pre-ride lap. My legs took a full hour to warmup which is a sign of being tired, but, be-it a ~45 minute individual race in the woods I figured I could fake this thing all the way. I guessed wrong. 

I don't know if my good legs led to extra bad bike handling but I was overshooting turns and going into trees left and right. It would be too tight to open up the gas but I couldn't help myself from cracking accelerations into trees. I stayed on the gas and literally in the trees all the way though to a finish time of 43:11. My usual mountain biking nemesis Jason finished in something insanely fast like 38:29. Gran-it, he did have a go fast FS 29r and course knowlege on his side, but come on! I must really suck at turning! It did relieve to see Jason not only crushed me along with the rest of the U18 Experts, he beat everyone. Like everyone there, like (name drop) Steve Twining and Chip Meek there. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

mid-summer updates, plans, and goals

Saturday I got back on the road bike after three days of rest. I felt a little off and rode for about 2.5 hours. The first hour I rode down to Penninsula really easy for her to pick up some vegetables at some place just south of Bolanz. My legs felt quite stiff from the time off so I took the long way home and started working in some gradual openors for the next days race

The race is a local rolling, out'n'back time trial that is just over 20k short. Since I recently grew out of and had to sell my TT bike, I was trying to break the Men's Standard course record, 30:16, or about 25.1mph set by Mike Gorman in 2010. I was pretty confident I could break this so I started off pretty steady on the gradual uphill out, knowing I would be going a good bit faster on the way back. 
I averaged a little more than 23.5mph on the uphill out @ 294w avg and 179bpm. I'd like to think this just below threshold as I truly was trying to hold back a little knowing I haven't done at TT efforts within the last oh, year. I also seemed very tired trying to race this early so that my explain the slightly off power and heart rate. I was ready to crush the way back and instantly got the heart rate upwards of 186bpm and was getting closer to 330w avg when I sliced my tire on something. Funny enough, since I was using my "classic" tubulars, and I flatted the rear at Westlake two weeks ago, I had Stan's which sealed after a few seconds. I had about ~40psi but since now I had a slight downhill I didn't put too much pressure on it as it would start to rollover slightly on potholes. I still averaged 23mph or so on the downhill but my PE was about 3 so I know a 27mph+ on the downhill was very possible with air in my rear tire. 

Course record, gone. Rear tire, shot. Life, over. 

Actually it turned out to be an ok day for biking as we got in a nice cooldown (my dad and julie won overall with all their high zoot machines fyi) then went to westbranch for a few easy hours on the moutain bikes. 
Changing subjects slightly, I had time to go through this morning and log down how many miles I was at this year finally adding my trainer miles together. I put an average of 16 miles for each hour I spent on the trainer as that seems about my jra to z2 pace. Surprisingly enough, I only spent 39 hours and 32 minutes on the trainer/rollers this winter. I would have guessed a lot more but I guess I didn't start riding until late-January and we did have a fair (I wouldn't say ~mild) winter. 

That puts me at 618.3 indoor miles + 4,264.1 miles outside so far = 4,882.4 miles @ ~316 hours of pedaling. This equates to a 15.45mph average overall. I was expecting a lot less because a lot of my mountain bike bikes averaged something like 11mph and all my climbing challenge rides were closer to 12mph! 

Considering we are 197 days into 2012, I am on pace for about 4,163.7 more miles, or 9,046.1 miles. I don't think I am going to get to 10,000 or even 9,000 miles this year. For one, the next few weeks I will continue my summer base miles along with some tempo hill repeats, and lots of mountain biking. That equates to lots of hours, but a relatively low volume in terms of miles. Also, once cyclocross season begins, the daylight hours dwindle, and the miles get faster, but overall take a hit.
So what is on tap for now?

This week I am going to do a bunch of climbing for the Strava Rapha Rising Challenge. This should help knock out the extra kg I am carrying around (up to 71kg) I have to do 21,286ft in the next seven days, or 3,041ft a day. I am not too nervous as I was having to knock out days with more than that after three weeks of climbing in April. But right at the moment I feel pretty fresh. The only challenging thing is deciding whether to do Westlake in the heat tomorrow or not. 

Then, from the 27th to the 3rd (of August) I am going to Mohican for some fat mountain biking. If you want to ride the Wilderness or the State Park loops one of those days, tell me! 

Finally, we are going to swing a trip out east in August to visit the rest of my family. The trip will most likely include moutain biking in some cool places, also.
Racing Goals?

I always joke that I don't care about any results that aren't cyclocross, but, any time I pay (or my parents pay) an entry fee, it is worth going hard until the end. Anyway, some races I will be putting some effort into include Tuesday nights, maybe some 331 races, and hopefully a CC shortrack or two. The state road race is August 5th and I may be tempted to do that if my climbing legs return this week.

I'd like to be competitive while training through these events and maybe squeak out a few more top 5's at Westlake. But seriously, the race I am keying up for (not training for though haha) before cyclocross, is the trying to knock out the course record at the EOTT on the stock setup. This will prove to myself I have ok form for going hard by myself which might help for cyclocross. Then I may be forced into some intervals to not only be fit, but also fast.

Going to be a busy next month, but fun!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

not quite winning, but not too bad

I was on the tail end of a solid three-week block going into the weekend and thinking some long rides to finish it off right sounded good. My dad convinced me to race, though. Wednesday thru Saturday I still did a solid 11 hours of mountain biking, then Sunday we went out to the ShortTrack Spectacular at BRD's parents' house where we usually race cyclocross.

The race had a different format to it where experts did two 30 minute races of the ~4 minute loop. There was about half an hour in between, also. I warmed up very easy for a while (45 mins) and should have done at least one effort, but just didn't want to go hard in the heat. In my mind I knew there would be no place to recover in a thirty minute sprint but I just hoped the first race wouldn't too bad. I was wrong. It hurt a lot worse than the second race.

Heat #1: Old men and young boys were combined into one group due to a lack of participation allowing my dad to see my pedal botching skills first hand as I nearly fell into him. He was thoroughly impressed. I still managed to slot in third wheel by the singletrack behind Franek and Jason. Jason and I instantly realized Franek was a freaking monster at pedaling but wasn't the most dialed into the tight course. This should have been my que to do anything to get around him. But, being in oxygen debt, and getting no chance to recover with the very accentuated slow-fast-slow-fast pace, I patiently stayed third wheel to my dismay. Franek eventually washed out in the middle of the race and I got around him, just Jason got around faster and had five seconds that I absolutely couldn't close. I kept the pedals turning but saved a little bit of gas for

Heat #2: Realizing that in a thirty minute race you can't make any mistakes, I did a Cameron Jackson start and went on one in the three, two, one thing (I guess Cameron usually goes on two haha) Apparently everyone else did too, though, as I just barely got the wholeshot and started pretty hard. I set a hard tempo trying to test the limits in the corners and get away. I couldn't shake Jason and Franek somehow had figured out the course now so it was just Jason and I racing for the under 18 win. I still liked being in front though so I wasn't swallowing dust the whole time. We discussed if they were doing the point format tie-breaker on points or time, and he concluded that if I won the second heat, I would win overall. We agreed to work together until one to go and begin attacking. I led into the singletrack the final time, attacked out of every turn that led into something tight, then attacked again. I made it into the final straight in front but still heard Jason wheezing by. I backed off in the final turn so I didn't go right into him and got second by a length in the sprint, which I was content with.The final lap was twenty seconds faster than the penultimate lap!
More cool pictures from Julie HERE!
Monday I rode pretty hard on the road bike trying to get used to it again after six days away from it. It was hot so even though I only rode two and half hours I was semi-smashed afterword. 

Tuesday I decided to ride to Westlake then race to finish off this training block proper. So, a solid two hours of z2 riding their and warming up. I was pretty content to sit in for the night (I even told my dad don't expect me to cover anything, just pretend I'm not there) and get some speedwork but my legs started loosening up for one more effort before a few days rest. The Break (which did contain my dad*) came back with four to go thanks to Lawyer Weeks and "PM" Cruikshank countered his own move and Chernosky followed. I cracked the whip solo and helped pull them to the line. I wanted to attack a half lap out as they were clearly watching each other (first two in series by a lot) and win but the legs eight-two miles in just wouldn't have it. So 3rd place on the night. Not bad for being smashed! This also bested my best 4th place at WORLDS.

Now time for a few rest days.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

gnew gnar to shred

Faux-Instagram with faux-iPhone.
I think I mentioned some new trails being built near my house back in October. My dad and Julie put in some huge hours at Royalview (~5 miles away in the next town) building some long, elevated, "burrito" platforms and benching a nearly ten mile loop. Now I get to reap the benefits!
The first four miles were done in April and the final five or so were finished in May. I made it out for one trail day with dad and a big group in about five hours whipped out probably two miles on the upper, yellow trail. That was one of the final "finishing" days really just connecting what had been started together. The trail was just flagged and we cut, benched, and broadcasted (moving dirt off the side) until our arms gave out for the day. The MetroParks also put in something like thirty bridges totaling probably close to half a mile (not joking) 
Juan has either a nice phone camera or actually took a nice camera out there for some cool pictures of the longer bridges. There are two separate super long ones that run over soft, marshy dirt that would probably be standing water if this wasn't the driest spring / summer ever.  Not to mention the other twenty-eight going over any ditch in sight!

Anyway, the trails came out down right awesome. You can totally tell a trail has "flow" when at the end of the day it feels like you had as much downhill as uphill. And when you go fast it gets pretty technical, also.  

So I have been on my mountain bike 19 times this year, 1 time at the knob race, 1 time at reagan park, 1 ride on the road, and 16 times at the Royalview trails. The trails are so fun this is ratio I am ok with! Thank you Camba and all it's great volunteers!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

good ole amurican bikin'

Blurs at Westlake.
I have participated in a lot of criteriums as of late.That is ok though because this is America and we love our spectating sports like we like our Nascar: always coming around again and again and again. 

I took a few days off after we got back from the mountains then did some easy cruises on the mountain bike. June 26th was another Westlake and I was pretty determined to make the break. Making the break wasn't the problem though as I started coming apart with four laps to go after probably working a little too hard in our break of probably eight guys. Just as I was running out of water and crumbling to pieces, my dad come up with Jason Hollaran to get fourth out of seven left sprinting. I was ok with dropping off after making it far though seeing my dad look relatively comfortable with three to go. It was super hot out so I am considering this my adapting phase- riding well before I screw up any chance of a result. 
At the back at Madeira.
This heat wave and blowing up trend would continue as my dad, JawnP, and I ventured south for three days of criteriums in Madeirra, Hyde Park, and Grandview. 

Friday's race was delayed for two hours because of tornados and crazy rain. But by the time the scrubby cat 3s began (us) the course was nearly dry. It was good it was too as it was probably the tightest road course ever. Jawn and I started in row four of six but kind of got pinched starting on the wrong side into the first round-a-bout. It felt like it took half the race to move up but apparently it was only took four of twenty laps to get back into the top fifteen or so. Anyway, the pace never really let up and I never got a chance to recover at all (look at the heart rate data) so I just tried to pick off some doods in some corners instead of attacking. It didn't work too well and I ended up going into the last turn 12th, and getting...12th. Race paid ten deep and I did nothing all race, so whoops.
Holeshot in crit?
Saturday was a scorcher (98f) but I felt a little more opened up from the night before. I moved up on the "free lap" while the course was being cleaned up of cat four racers who got jammed into a telephone poll. Ooof. I had starting number 88 but got on the front row so I am pretty grateful for the free lap. I started kind of hard to make sure I was near the front which worked out well as their were over 100 starters.
Attacking some dood with a broken wrist and Rick Parr.
Not having to move through a ~100 person field is awesome.
Even JawnP tried to throw down (and succeeded in throwing up Sunday)
Attacking right before the uphill and getting a gap.
JawnP attacked a few times early then I went through some doods who had a little gap. I kept it rolling for about five laps solo but no one ever came up. It kind of made me mad because there were a bunch of strongmen in the field, why not just do ten hard pedal strokes, work with me a little bit, and win the race? I do have to say cat three races seem pretty similar to four races (and not one, two ones) in that everyone seems content with a field sprint and "saving it"...BORING. The race started to heat up and with five to go I got reeled in. I was seriously trying to control my hyperventilation in the heat but I just rolled in the main pack for some meaningless place (26th for those of you keeping track at home)

Sunday was another new day and another chance to blow up the schemers. Anytime the race slowed I would just not hit my brakes and roll by everyone and I either attack, or string it out a little bit just to try and make something happen. Grandview is a great course for that because it is wide open and the momentum from the back of the pack can slingshot you forward. Even with a roller on the finish stretch, there was no real breaks. I think I got away for two laps solo again but beit a cat three event, all the schemers sat back and watched me crumble in the heat. I didn't think I was the necessarily the strongest I was just not saving it like everyone else. Anyway, the stupid field sprint came and I got ninth of from the John Gatch was saying, only like fifteen left. There were obviously a  bunch more at the start but that just shows how me wasting my time attacking ruined my sprint. 

Tuesday was strangely similar to the Tuesday before. No superheroes present: PM, Andy Clarke, or Shawn Adams but still lots of regular old boring heroes. I Sagan'd Mitch for a 2 point prime (my first in the A field) then sat back and recovered until I saw the break forming. Northampton, Mass strongman Mike Busa was in town (probably of superhero status) and bridged across with me on his wheel. Ten laps in and we already had a huge gap. Dad and I were the only Lake Effecters but both of us took all our pulls. With four laps to go, a group of three including Batke, Bob Martin, and a Spin rider pulled away so I let them form then tried to bridge across. I got three quarters of the way when I looked back to see Aussie (also on Spin) pulling me back. I recovered for a second and got back on the rest of the break. Mike Busa took a montser pull, Dad and I chipped in, then the eight were back together with two to go. Someone countered and I got gapped and quit. I was right there but had run clear out of three bottles and was starting to twinge up into cramp-mode. I wish for one Westlake the race felt like a reasonable criterium distance (and not upwards of two hours) and I wasn't completely on the edge at the end. Or, somehow I was just slightly fresher at the end and not on the verge of death. 

The race didn't play well to my dad either getting sixth (points to five) and having it come down to a straight drag race sprint at the end. I don't think I will mention who won. Again. 

Dear blog readers, one day I may put it together for a real result on the road, but if not, consider me ready for cyclocross!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

spoken from my eternally chapped lips

I got to spend ten days in the high altitude Coloradan mountains the past week. A great host family who my dad knew from the old days took us in and let them join their family riding "bandit" during RidetheRockies. Thank you so much Morrissey's!
Riding without being registered definitely had its perks and was far cheaper. We weren't the only party doing it though as I saw lots of bikes without numbers all week. Most people were just doing some days while we did all but the final day of the official RidetheRockies six day tour.
Our friends live in North Boulder so we rented a car and drove four hours south to start the ride in Crested Butte. The actual day one of RTR started in Gunnison, about 27 miles south of our hotel, so the first day would be a big day of riding.
First night sleeping at 9,898ft!
We would be riding the rest of the week back north weaving through and over mountains so we dropped off that car. We only had one vehicle for 17 people the rest of the week but it was a 14-passenger van that hauled all our bags so I would say it worked out pretty nicely.  
Day 1:
Crested Butte to Gunnison to Hotchkiss
111 miles at close to 7 hours of bikin'

We started off as a pretty big group around 8am and made good work of pace-lining but were derailed by I think multiple flats. Either way, we got to Gunnison around 10am and everyone and thing was gone. Most stores were already closed and all the tents the officially riders stayed in had been bagged and hauled away. The town would have seemed pretty nice but it was 4-lane roads of ghost town so we quickly grabbed some breakfast and headed out into a phat headwind. A headwind for the next 84 miles. 
I complain about headwinds on the way home from Hinckley to my dad (~8.4 miles from home) so I'm sure even my dad was not to thrilled about riding with me for the next five hours. Luckily he had Julie to talk to. I tried to keep to myself well enough though. His goal was to catch someone. Anyone. It took 38 miles and a whole bunch of steady pace-lining before we saw any sign of RTR people when we started picking off bonked-what-have-i-signed-up-for folks. 

"I'm from New York City. My friends from Colorado told me this ride was flat today."

 I was also under the impression this was an easy day I told her. One category four climb and another category three climb seemed pretty manageable for this sea-leveler. But the day still lasted forever due to the wind.

Our accommodations waiting for us weren't the nicest either so we were all kind of in the dumps about this whole riding mountains thing. That is until we heard some of the horror stories from up the street in the "retreat" (no running water) and how the sprinklers went off in the baseball field full of campers. 

The week was looking like an uphill struggle (semi-literally)
Day 2:
Hotchkiss to Carbondale to Basalt
84 miles at close to 5 and 1/2 hours of riding

Since everyone wanted to get out of our accommodations asap, we left relatively early for ourselves, 7:22am. This gave us the ability of getting water at the aid stations (didn't feel guilty using RTR water since you could see the garden hose running into the bucket) and not having to locate our 14-passenger bus somewhere on the road. Let me tell you this, 7:22am in RTR terms is like leaving late. People are nuts in Colorado. We were cruising pretty early with a good group including texas strongman Joe Udell passing hundreds of people. Something clicked (not my cleat) and I felt really good climbing on this day. It worked out well as there was a category two climb late in the day that kicked some early starting folks in the you-know-where. 

Unfortunately I broke a spoke (brought extras though!) and a cleat at the same time. I still don't know how but I can manage anything. Anyway, dad and I still passed no less than five hundred people on McClure Pass (maybe ~6 miles) with one foot clipped in and rear wheel relatively out of tru -__- Sometimes it is nice to be all mr. racer and blowing by people, but man, I really felt bad for some people. We were going about eight or nine mph in our 39-28s at like 70rpm (ie don't want to go any slower) My point is this was going to be a super, super long week for them. We rolled it back pretty good breakaway style with Joe into Carbondale and bought some smoothies and repaired my wheel. We waited for the rest of the group while the temperature heated up.  

This is where my dad's first bonk ever occurred. Since there are like 45 bike shops per square mile in Colorado so were we dropping back from the group running into stores to see if they had an older speedplay cleat for younger robert. We eventually got on the phone with a place in Basalt (where our motel was) that was the speedplay dealer of middle-west southeastern western Colorado or something, and they happened to have a set of cleats for me. 

Now, approximately three miles behind the group and only twelve miles out of town, we set off on some ever-so-slightly uphill bike path. But it turns out, it was never ending also. We had run out of water and were standing up for three big pedal strokes a time just so we could relax for one. We were both pretty fatigued but I think more just sick of being in our bike clothes for past eight hours, eight minutes. But hey, who's counting?

We eventually made it after asking for directions multiple times. That alone should just show how shot my dad was, one never to ask for directions, or rather yelling, "HOW MUCH FURTHER TO BASALT, WE ARE SHELLED?!"

Basalt was a really cool town and the bike shop we went to had my cleats so that was super neat. 

Day 3 
Basalt to Twin Lakes
64 miles at 4 and 3/4 hours
My legs were sore this day. Not like I did a race the day before and they are on the verge of cramping, just sort of not there. I am thinking that is what feeling old is like. We kicked off the day riding up to Aspen on a towpath like substance. It was like 2% grade and my legs said stop so I told my legs to shut up. Then we went up Independence Pass. I made it until about three miles to go when my legs were starting to shut down. We had just passed through 11,500ft and we could see the final switchback which made it worse for me. The first fifteen miles of the climb I just stared straight into my dad's back and kept my mouth shut. The last three miles on the other hand I started complaining about how I feel like I could go faster, but couldn't. My dad then heard my wheezing and dropped (the hammer) the pace from about 7.2mph to 6.8mph. That was actually just slow enough so I could make it without keeling over. I eventually did make it up after some more complaining.

But the descent was totally worth it. We had probably three turns of the 180 variety on the final twenty two miles on the run into "town"
Town was non-existent (ie we had to get food catered (ps which is awesome)) so we got the van to drive us to Leadville so we could make fun of all the people camping while we got expensive ice-cream and got strava-faced by multiple dorks.
Day 4
Twin Lakes to Leadville to Granby to Grand Lake
125 miles at just over 7 hours
Add 16 miles uphill to the start and 15 more slightly uphill at the end!
Three category four climbs, a category three, and a category two- but with a slight tailwind makes for an awesome ride. 

There were some awesome descents, too, though. I will always remember this bike path we were rolling down at no joke 35mph for a good five miles. That has to be a category one climb going the other way, ON THE BIKE PATH PEOPLE. 

Kind of funny in the morning, our host got a flat on the way out to Leadville and it was so cold (34° according to Garmin) his Co2 froze his valve core open. In the afternoon, the same guy had to go and ride a mile an a half more to get ice cold cokes because we were suffering from the heat (97° according to Garmin)

There are probably lots of small stories I am forgetting from this day but we did have to focus on the riding a bit more as we were volunteered as the three victims who got to do the whole ride. We were rewarded with a little more sleep and a nice head start the next morning though!  
Day 5
Grand Lake to Estes Park 
53 miles in 3 and 1/2 hours
Pretty neat picture Julie captured of some FRED's I DESTROYED.
This day included riding through the national park system. Nervous my legs would be tired again (I did ride a good bit the two weeks before this trip to officially call it a "block") I wore my iPod for the climb up. This way I didn't have to hear myself gasping for air and I could fist pump behind my dad cruising up. It was awesome looking around and taking some pictures.
One more giant switchback to the summit!

Little bit of haze from the fire on the top of the peaks.
I ended up feeling really good and we crushed all those tourists. The descent was also super simple so I touched my brakes probably for thirty seconds total on thirty minutes of descending.

Day 6
Estes Park to North Boulder
34 miles at a bit under 2 hours
We rode back to our hosts' house. There were mountains, rivers, views, you know, boring Colorado stuff. 

Days 6 and 7
76 more miles exploring Boulder and the surrounding area.
4.5 mile climb @ 7% that starts one block from the apartment.
Blue water clearing enough for reflections.
People working out on an amphitheater with quite a view.
Apartment view.
White water rivers in the towns.
Cloud cover but it never rains.
Great people who don't mind dorky, old basketball shirts.
I now can truly undersand why everyone in Colorado loves their life and why everyone else is jealous.