Monday, March 28, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
Thursday, December 9, 2010
I’m starting to figure some things out about Cyclocross. This is a good thing. I didn’t figure it out for the first four races. This is a bad thing. Oh well. You live and learn.
The first thing I learned is that I can do very well if I have my heart in the race. Now to my credit my heart not being in the races has been based on my circumstances which I had no control over. Those circumstances no longer have an impact so I am able to move beyond that.
For the record the second race that I did was the day after my dad passed away. I was heavy hearted that day. This past weekend’s races took place knowing my girlfriend was going to break up with me. My heart was elsewhere for both these races. Whatever. You deal and move on, right?
The second lesson that I have now learned is much more under my control. I’ll explain later.
So I went to Dade City last weekend for two Cyclocross races. What a fun weekend my son and I had!
Saturday I raced the 1-2-3 race. I finished 6th; I sucked.
The leaders went out hammering on the first lap! I tried my best to stay with them and it only fried the crap out of me. By the middle of the 2nd lap four had pulled away, another had jumped across from behind me and I was detached. For almost an hour I soldiered on. No hope in front and no hope from behind. It was awful.
The last two laps I completely shut it down like I was on a training ride. 6th would have to do.
After the race they were doing a relay. The aura of the relay race was that you had a one in, however many did the race, shot at winning a $2000 Cyclocross bike. Cool, I’ll do that. The problem was the entry fee: $100 for a team of three. My potential relay partners all abandoned me while I was racing (thanks guys!) but I found one lady who was willing to give it a go.
“Anyone want to do a relay??”
We could find no one…. except…
Except my boy Colby who BEGGED me to let him race. Ugh!! I paid $60 and we were a team. Ouch.
I let Barbara (the lady we found) go first. She gave a good effort but came in a couple of minutes behind the last person. Oh well. We weren’t there to win but to have fun. Colby was next.
After Colby had been out for a while my friend Donnie told me that he had crashed but was alright. The good news? They got it on video! Ha!
Barbara did her second lap and I did Colby’s second lap with him. I didn’t get to do my second lap because the winning team had lapped us! By the time Colby and I got done they had given the bike away. Sigh. We didn’t win. At least Colby had fun! It was worth it!
Sunday was the State Championship. Colby raced the 10-14 age group. He did so well! Raced head to head on his heavy, two sizes too big for him mountain bike with a lady on a cross bike. So proud of my boy for putting a hurt on the lady in the last lap! Atta boy! He finished 5th. A great showing for him! So proud!
OK, my second lesson. I can’t go out fast. It just doesn’t work for me. I can’t go red line and try to recover. I just can’t; I need to go out slow. Slow indeed.
Halfway through the first lap I was last out of 13 guys. I passed a little group and jumped up to the back of an 8 person group following the lone leader. In the middle of lap two I saw a gap open up so I popped up to 5th. Then there was a crash two wheels up. I avoided the mess and focused on getting through the wind. I looked behind me and saw a huge gap open up. I was in a group of 3 guys chasing the leader at about a minute. Rock on.
The three of us rode together for a lot of laps. The riders behind were either unable or unwilling to work together to catch us. We didn’t have the same problem. We were catching the leader.
45 seconds. 36 seconds. 30 seconds. 24 seconds. Then one guy just couldn’t hang anymore. He dropped off and there were just two of us remaining. I was fried as well. Within a lap the other guy was off the front and my job became holding onto 3rd place. I didn’t pull away but I kept a good gap.
Then part one of my melt down occurred. With just over a lap to go my chain came off. It happened in such a bad place! I had to get off my bike to fix it. The other guy caught me. I was fried and it was very windy. I couldn’t get away in the last lap so we both sat up for the finish. Actually I tried like three times to escape. No dice.
It was going to be a sprint. I decided to wait till the last hill before the finish. I had him in front. I was ready. The hill came. My foot slipped out of my pedal and it was over. I missed the podium at the state championships because of a crappy couple of bad breaks. I guess I’ll take 4th place.
I wasn’t happy though. I am bitter about that loss. I will break some legs in Gainesville this weekend. Mark my words. Legs will be broken!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
How can you not love Cyclocross? What a fantastic workout. I just wish there were more races…
When I saw a few weeks ago that there was going to be a Cross race in Clermont I was literally beside myself with joy. So much fin, so close. Awesome.
Finally the day came. I paid my $84 (gulp) for two days with of racing/licenses, glued on my number and showed up to the line ready to rock and roll.
I was a little disappointed when only 4 people strapped one on to race the A’s. Whatever.
The starter yelled “Go!” and we were off to suffer, suffer and then suffer. Going around the course the first time I lost my chain on a slight up hill. By the time I got it back on I was in last and the leader was pulling away. Ugh!!!
By mid-way through the second lap I passed two of the guys in front of me and I was in second. The guy in the front had a gap that I never did close. I ended up lapping the other two guys.
2nd place was a good result. I earned back the cash I paid for the race. While I was there I previewed the course for Sunday. Oh man did that route look hard. Saturday was a warm up. Sunday was going to be a bear.
I went home Saturday excited to race again on Sunday.
Saturday night my dad passed away. It’s funny; I never once considered not going to the race. There was nothing that was going keep me from going back for round two.
I left strait from church on Sunday. This time I brought my son, my friend Jim and my girlfriend Debbie and her kids. I had a support team to bad I stunk up the joint.
Funny story. On the line I saw a dude that had a “USA Triathlon” shirt on. I said something dumb like, “So, are you a triathlete? …Yeah, me too.”
So why is that funny? Turns out it was Jarrod Shoemaker. He’s an Olympian in triathlon. Last time I saw him race was at the Duathlon (run-bike-run) worlds in 2009.
Not the age group.
He won the elite race.
So the race starts and a couple of guys get gummed up in a corner and I toke the lead. My first lap was around 5:30 and I was leading. Second lap was closer to 6 min. By lap 3 I was settled into 6:30 per lap and 4th place. It was hard to really get into the race. I was tired physically and emotionally. I hadn’t slept much and my legs were a bit knackered from 45 minutes of racing Cross and a 5k run the day before.
I soldiered on and finished 4th.
That course was HARD. There was one spot where we had to run up a 30 yard sandy slope. Ouch! Then there was another 30 yards up hill on grass. That hurt something fierce! Another part of the course was a 20 yard uphill that I could ride; but BARELY.
Lots of sand; lots of twists and turns. Awesome!
Sundays harder course was awesome and so was the turnout. 11 in the race was much better than 4 from Saturday.
When I finished the race I actually apologized to Jim and Debbie for performing so poorly. Thinking back now I guess that was silly. The Olympian was second and some other strong dude was 3rd. I probably would have been 4th no matter what.
I did my best. My dad would have been proud.
Next race is next weekend in Dade City. Two more races! Bring it Mr. Olympian!!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
We drove all day to get to the east end of Black Bear Road. By the time we set up camp it was well past end the end of sunshine. Andrew and I set up our tent in the cool Colorado darkness.
It was 1997 and it was time for our 2nd annual late summer mountain bike adventure. We hadn’t gotten killed the year before so this year we upped the ante. The course we laid out looked epic even on paper.
Oh to be 24 and reckless again.
When the sun came up in the morning we were greeted with the most awesome and spectacular view ever. We had camped at about 9000 feet on the side of a mountain. The view was simply breathtaking.
By 8am we had eaten, loaded up our packs and saddled our bikes. Adventure (and peril) awaited us in the unpredictable Colorado mountains.
10 miles to the west sat Telluride. Between us our goal was Black Bear Road; many miles of unforgiving switchbacks and uphill mayhem. Awesome.
We took our time setting out. We had lots of time and the road we had chosen didn’t look that far in the Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer. It looked so easy we didn’t even bring the map. It was just a big book anyway. I wasn’t going to carry that thing…
We explored some old mines, ghost town-ish buildings and even a couple of wrong turns. All we good. We were two young fit dudes on mountain bikes. What could possibly go wrong?
Then the flat tires came.
Between the two of us I think we got 8 flats on the way up the pass. After the first 4 or 5 we got a little annoyed. What the heck though. This was an adventure.
We finally reached the top of the pass. What time was it anyway? Doesn’t matter. We were young fit guys….
The descent down Black Bear Pass is legendary. Words cannot describe how cool that thing was. We flew down with only a couple of stops to take pictures and pick the grit out of our teeth.
We found Telluride and there was a big ol’ party going on. Fabulous! It was hot and so were the girls!! Wahoo! We hung out for a while and even took a little nap in the town center.
The temperature was 90 on the bank sign we saw as we entered the local bike shop.
The next leg of the journey was to ride up Imogene Pass. This trip was about 4000 vertical feet. How hard could that be? The guy at the shop said that it takes strong guys about 2.5 hours. “Hey! I’m a strong guy!”
It took about 45 minutes of riding before I had to walk my bike and we weren’t anywhere near half way to the top. The air sure is thin at 10,000 feet. It’s even thinner when you know you have to go to 13,000 feet and the route is questionable from there.
It looked simple on the map. A hiking trail from the top of Imogene Pass led over to Black Bear Road and back to our campsite. Not a problem. If we followed Imogene Pass Road to Ouray (the “safe” route, HA!) then we would have a 3000 vertical feet road climb back to the camp.
Wow. Are those thunderclouds? Is that rain? Is that hail?
Sure would be nice if there was, oh, I don’t know, SHELTER at 11,000 feet. At 5pm we were still pushing our bikes up towards the pass.
What time does it get dark?
We found 13,000 feet and the top of the pass at about 7:30pm. Didn’t have a thermometer but it was freakin’ cold. At what temperature does an your body start to shiver? It was colder than that.
OK, safe way (with the massive climb, BTW) or sketchy way that looked good on the “atlas”?
You know we went the sketchy way.
Took about 3 minutes till we lost the trail. We soldiered on anyway because we were young and STUPID like that. We expected to see the road up ahead at any time. Nope.
Must be after this ridge. Nope.
Next one. Nope. Nope and nope. Finally we found a river. River leads to the valley. Hiking at 13,000 feet in mountain bike shoes pushing a mountain bike was just an utter travesty.
We decided that down was the best way to go. We abandoned our plans of finding the road. Besides it was getting….
Fortunately we had a light. One light was better than no light.
We didn’t need a light to find the waterfall.
Hike up to a ridge to get around the waterfall and find the river again. At least we were going down stream. On and on we hiked. The last remnants of daytime had long since evaporated. We had been at this biking thing for countless hours. We had climbed over 7000 vertical feet on our bikes; yet we had to go on.
Andrew suggested bivouacking. Are you out of your mind? No way. We kept going. Fortunately the directness of the river and steepness of the terrain brought us to a road. We saw a car drive by.
We were going to make it out; yeah, after trudging through a hip deep swamp.
It was close to 11pm when we got back to the tent. I ate a banana and fell fast asleep without even changing my cloths.
The next couple of days featured some driving but, ironically, no biking. The hikes we did were short and within view of the car.
I’ll never forget that epic adventure. Note to self: Don’t try to ride Black Bear and Imogene Pass on the same day and no there is no hiking trail that connects the two!