Tuesday, December 27, 2011

exposure on a mtb

this vid has spread across the social media world. i like the beats too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

hanging in Vail

cross racing week 15 - states & the end

The last few weeks of the CO cross season provided plenty of snowy and muddy courses. After the Louisville Snow Bowl on Dec 3, we ventured north to Lyons on Dec 11 for the last race in the Boulder series. I held on for 7th that day, which somehow put me 2nd overall for the 35+ Boulder Racing series. And then it's the last race, state champs on Dec 17.

The state championship course was originally scheduled to be in Aurora. I wasn't exactly sure where, but was happy to be racing somewhere new to me. Just a few days prior to the state champ weekend, ACA announced that the venue had changed back to Castle Rock. This was good news, as I really liked the Castle Cross course we raced in the fast & dry back in mid November. The course was at Rhyolite Park, located adjacent to Quarry Mesa in Douglas County open space. I like the fast and dry courses, but can hold my own in the mud & snow. With the recent cold temps and decent snowcover along the Front Range, despite the warming temps, we all knew we'd be in for a mudfest. One big difference was that our race was 3:15p, and we normally go off at the old man hour of 10:15a. The late afternoon start guaranteed a super sloppy course, previously beat down by several other categories. As always, I just hoped the mud would shed enough to allow me to be competitive without taking a bike change. Perhaps next year a 29er HT will suffice in the pit.

I had a good week of riding, and an even better executed taper. One upside to the poor start to our snow season is that good weather has allowed me to get outside at least once a week, which is the minimum needed to get some leg speed and to keep indoor-riding insanity at bay. I took Josh down for the 3s race prior to mine, so it was great to be down at the venue early. Felt pretty good in warm-up, tailing Keller on a lap to see his line selection, and we both knew the course would change some during our race. The Cubus were once again providing plenty of bite at 25/26psi. One of the reasons I like the CastleCross venue so much is they have a proper start straight...nice, long, wide and uphill. I slotted in with the 4th call-up and soon enough the whistle set us off. I found my pedal and was able to get in the top 5 before the turn onto dirt pretty comfortably. After about 100m of pedaling through the first uphill mud bog, I knew we'd be up for some tough power sections. I rode a great first couple laps and was hovering behind Tim Faia in 4th, a good place for me to be. Tim went down briefly and I found myself riding in 3rd place for a 1/2 lap or so. I have to admit there were about 10 seconds during which I dreamt about finishing on the podium. But reality set in when Tim came by me to reclaim his spot in 3rd. By then, Robson and Cariveau were gone. I was set to do a lot of work in 4th-6th places for the duration of the race. Damn it was a fun course! Had some dry grass, snowpack, lots of mud, and a cool flyover with an abrupt transition. During the 2nd to last lap Taylor and Travis Brown passed me to sneak into the top 5. Hludzinski was eyeing me but I rode pretty cleanly on the last lap and had a good gap across the line for 6th. 

Big thanks to Shawn Lortie (45+ strongman) and Mountain Flyer for the great image above and cool articles about CO CX State Championships.

I really wanted a top 5 at states, but considering the conditions and the quality of our field, I am happy with 6th. My goal back in September was top 5 overall for the CO Cross Cup, and I finished 4th, so it has been a very good season. And my blue collar equipment continues to serve me well. Giant TCX 0, Force drivetrain (now in it's 3rd year), TRP Euro X brakes, Easton EA70x wheelsets, and both the Specialized Tracer and Tufo Cubus tubulars. Was seriously considering a new cx bike for the 2012 season, but am thinking of waiting for technology to progress...hydraulic discs integrated into STI levers. Interbike 2012, hopefully? 

I'm not normally fit so late into December, so a part of me wishes I could keep pushing the training and go out to Nats in Madison. But I just can't see any January cross races working out for me, work and family have been more than generous, and it's time I return more energy to them. Big thanks to Helen and Alina for putting up with my racing, the time requirements definitely border on selfish at times. And thanks also to all of my great competitors in the 35+ field. Proud to race with you guys, and looking fwd to doing it again in 2012. Now it's time to ski some powder! Just need it to snow first. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

cross racing week 13 - grin & bear it

Well the rubber hit the road up here in Summit Co a week or so back with the weather. Riding outside on my schedule has become super hard. I prefer to just get up at 5:30 to get in an hour of something structured, not knowing if my afternoon will unravel or not. Getting the work done early, then being able to focus more at work has been better. But, I feel like the top end needs to be stoked outdoors at least once a week.

The T-gvg weekend CO Cross Cup race was a really cool, but hard (when was your last easy cross course?!) Westminster course. I goon'd the start with a missed pedal. Rode pretty well after that but the starts are usually a big advantage for me. Now I know the Grand Staircase is not just in Escalante in Utah! So the following week I did 8-10 starts and nailed each one. Thinking the missed pedal from the Westminster race was just a case of nerves and bad luck.

This past weekend was the infamous Louisville Rec Center Bowl of Death course. I've raced there off and on for years. I remember back prob 7yrs ago, a day the Louisville course greeted us with a good amount of melting snow & mud. A young Danny Summerhill was racing with us, and he crashed out or had a tough race or something...afterward he was crying to his mom in the parking lot. I distinctly remember my mother-in-law Mary wondering why this young kid was crying so much just about a bike race! Anyway...the weather has been pretty volatile as usual in Colorado. Some nominal mid-week snows made things muddy prior to the Boulder UCI wknd and then for Schoolyard Cross, but the weather was pretty dry in mid & late November. I was lucky enough to rail the new-this-season Benjamin Tr down at Betasso on Thanksgiving morning. Sunshine and shorts, man that felt great! And what a roller coaster of a singletrack! Hope it melts out there sometime again this winter. But late last week, mother nature cranked out a good ole upslope and most all of the Front Range received a good 6-10" of snow. And it wasn't the kind of storm that is followed by sunshine and mild temps. Louisiville received prob 8" or so, and temps stayed in the low 20s for race day. The harsh irony was that the highcountry didn't get any snow really, dry roads all the way down I-70 til about Genessee or so. So I suit up and hop on course. Very technical, hardpacked snow singletrack in spots, veering off on either side was risky with chance of augering in or sliding out. And some sidewalk sections were super slick and would cause many a crash. A couple of tough run-ups that are usually integral to the courses at the bowl, and one long switchback climb that turned into a decent run.

All in all I felt really good during warm-up, legs were good and the Cubus at 26/27 were hooking up very nicely. I've again hung on to my #2 call-up, and line up next to Robson in the 5" or so of loose new snow. In hindsight, lining up behind him on the hardpacked trail would've been the wise move. The whistle blows and we're off, or more so, most of the field is off. I clip in right away, but kind of auger down into the snow, then get on it again only to pile into the guy in front of me as I am desperately burning energy (and yelling) to get my ass in gear. Well in a matter of seconds I am near the back of the pack once again. Ah well, time to race smart and pick off a few guys. I hit the deck a few times, but no worse for the wear, and stay focused while trying to go smoother and faster each lap. I really like the chip timing this year, bc even if my race is toast early on, I can focus on busting out fast laps and then check the lap times after to see if I kept my cool and was able to ride smart til the end. Looking at the lap times from Louisville, my 3rd-to-last and 2nd-to-last laps were pretty good, but the wheels fell off on the last lap and I hit the deck again, trying to claw back on to masters road machine Eddy Gragus.

The usually bumpy and brutal Bowl of Death was this year pretty smooth and slippery and white! I felt like my skills were up to the task, just need to nail my start next weekend at Lyons and I think everything else will be fine! Forecast looks like cold but no new snow, so my guess is it will be muddy. One more chance before States to get in the top 5 and improve my overall Cross Cup standing! So an early Christmas present would be to nail my start at Lyons and get my head back in the game of racing near the front of the group again.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Le Petit Paris

Alina and I had date night. We celebrated a fun evening, incl my top 10 placing in the inaugural town Running of the Santas. about 1K, but I was working hard!

and lighting the tree!

carriage ride with Santa!

and a parade down Main Street to light the town tree at Blue River Plaza

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dear Santa

Alina doesn't need any more very large toys. nowhere to put them in our tiny house!

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, November 12, 2011

purple girls

women's European CX championships

Keller posted this great video on his site. Looks like it came from a French friend.

Championnat d'Europe cyclo-cross 2011 from Petitesreines on Vimeo.

time to see how how much discipline i have

Taking off from racing this weekend. Guess it's time for a break. Thanks to my wonderful wife, I've done 12 races over 9 straight weekends. Hoping to toe the line for 5 more. Was out of town for work a few days this past week, so haven't had much time on the bike. I'm writing this as the wind is absolutely howling outside, due to an approaching winter storm that is supposed to drop over a foot of snow here in Breck. And of course my wife is out in this weather now, she has a 5 HOUR training run on tap. And to think I am struggling with the idea of my 90min trainer workout later today...pathetic. She is truly an amazing person and quite often a large part of my motivation.

Last Saturday was my 9th straight weekend of cyclocross racing here in Colorado. After a really fun weekend-before-Halloween down in Boulder for the big CO Cross Classic and Boulder Cup, the Schoolyard Cross (Nov 5) was challenging from a motivation perspective. I had not raced before out at the Prairie Center in Brighton, just east of Denver off of I-76. It was a welcome change though from the constant commutes to Boulder, even if it was about the same distance (just under 2hrs). Compared to the big Boulder weekend of racing, it was difficult to find any beta about the Schoolyard Cross course and potential conditions during the week prior to the race. There was nary a tweet out there, and it was apparent that some of my competitors were taking off that weekend for their mid-season break.

Driving through Denver and hopping on 76, there was not much snow on the ground and I was hoping it would not be too muddy. Pulling in to the venue I realized it was going to be super muddy, combined with some hay. Not a great mixture. I rode one lap with my PDX clinchers, then decided it best to perform the rest of my warm-up on the roads and not to trash my bike yet. I actually had a pretty solid warm-up riding the roads around the big shopping mall out there. It kind of reminded me of my days as a hack cat 4/cat 3 roadie when I used to do office park crits. Our customary mid-morning start time rolled around, and we lined up in the start chute, listening to the heckles of the great Larry Grossman. This guy means a ton to local cyclocross, and I am always stoked to see him at our races. As I mentioned earlier, many big guns were absent...Robson (he was shooting photos, racing Open later that day), Faia, Keller, Overton, Ariel, Stefko, Phenicie, Farrell. So I thought this could be a great opportunity to hop on the podium. Steamboat resident, Moots employee, and all-around good guy Jon Cariveau was there, and I rightfully picked him to tear us all apart. Since I was currently 2nd overall in the CO Cross Cup points, and with Robson not racing, I was the first call-up. Enjoy that one now for sure! The whistle sounds and we're quickly off. Cariveau tears off the line quickly, and I find my pedal and slot in right behind him in 2nd place. Perfect. But after maybe 60 secs, I would not see him again til the end of the race, as he rode away from the entire field to win by well over 2 minutes. McFarling, Wardell, Glen Light all came by me on the first lap and those guys would duke it out for the remaining podium spots. My legs didn't show up and I was not feeling it, but settled for 5th place with a pretty hard workout. The course was nothing stellar, but there were several sections of thick soupy mud that tested my skills. The Cubus were hooking up well. A Frites En Mayo rider was dangling close behind me the whole race, which worked out well to constantly push me. Afterwards, I hung out for a bit to see some other races. Mike Hogan set off a bomb and blew apart the 45+ field. I watched the first half of the Open race, and it was great to see Krughoff and Summerhill duking it out off the front.

Now that winter looks to be arriving for good this time, I seem to have arrived at the crux of my training season. I say this because there will be few opportunities to get in solid, "comfortable" training rides outside. My weekly prep will primarily consist of 2-3 sessions a week on the trainer or rollers, 2 xc ski tours a week, and 1 race per weekend. I am hoping to do some short, ride-until-my-hands-and-feet-are-numb rides on snow-packed roads on the mtb. Will this set-up allow me to continue with some solid results? Time will tell. As I said earlier, my wife and her amazing dedication to her training will probably be some of my best motivation. I've raced 'cross now for several years, and most every year I race well the first half of the season. But the second half of the season has always been a big challenge when i can no longer ride easily outside. The beauty of cx is that, due to racing into shape on the mtb all summer, I can usually maintain decent fitness with just 5-6hrs of training a week. I would love to have a good (top 7?) result at states this year. We'll see.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

my first helicopter ride!

one of our software providers took me on a heli ride over the strip in Vegas tonight. check that off the bucket list!