Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 is a wrap. 2012 looks exciting.

Final cyclocross race of the year with Cap City Cross was Sunday, 11th of December at Smith Farms. As it was last year, this race was also the fundraiser for us and Wounded Warrior Project. What started out to be a chilly day turned out to be a slightly-less chilly day with sunny skies. Hey, any little bit helps!

I like racing at Smith Farms. First off, it's the closest to my house which means I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn. I can wait until slightly after the crack of dawn. It's also a more spectator friendly course and while it's mostly flat the Cap City crew always manages to come up with some great challenges for us. This year, thanks to all the rain we had until several days prior, it was a somewhat muddy race, too. Although less muddy than the Ohio State CX Championships and especially the Uncle Steve's race - Holy Wa!

As I have almost all year, I raced both the C race and the Masters 40+ race. In the C race I was duking it out with Duncan Spillman and another gentleman (man, I'm sorry I forgot his name... ugh!) for 2nd, 3rd and 4th. I thought we were further back but we had a good race going on - all three of us were trading places. Until the end of lap 3 when I bobbled on the short steep hill (both other guys ran it, I had ridden it). Those two got a small gap on me that I just couldn't close down. Yargh. I ended up with a 4th place for the day. Not bad. I had hoped to finish better, but not bad.

Good news is: with that 4th, I won the Series Champs in the Cs. Yay, me.

Then I lined up for the Masters race. I had a pretty good start, hung right with Chris Freter for the first third of a lap (I'm getting better and this start business), and then my legs reminded me of the effort I put in during the C race and I just couldn't hang on. I sure wish I could have and Chris and I have had a great battle all year. This was going to be the deciding race and I had to let him go. Several laps in I thought I could make up a bit of time on him - I was getting some back. But not enough and the last lap I was slipping back. But I managed to hold on to a not-too-shabby 5th place.

With that, I managed to card a 4th overall in this year's series. Not bad, me.

The best part about the day? Thanks to the help of Cyclocross Magazine getting the word out on our fundraising we managed to give more than $2,700 to the Wounded Warrior Project. The fact that friends, fellow racers and even complete strangers saw the value in our passion really made my day/week/month. Thanks doesn't sound like enough to say. I am deeply grateful to everyone who contributed.

It was a good year of racing. I learned a lot and realized I still have a long ways to go. I met more great people to race with and got better acquainted with other folks. We have some really awesomely great people who race and are somehow associated with Cap City Cross - you guys are the reason I really look forward to each race. I have to get some real training in, too, for next year. Why? Because in 2012 I will race for the Crossniacs, a national team with local "syndicates". Wow, I was pretty happy to be asked to join the ranks there. Very stoked.  The rest of the year I will be with Cyclist Connection, which has been great to me. But part of my obligations with Crossniacs means I'll be posting my blogs over on their site, so come visit over HERE.

In the next year I will be putting my fundraising efforts towards different avenues. One in particular is the Ohio Gran Fondo, which will be raising funds for Ride 2 Recovery, a project for the betterment of our injured veterans. I am flattered that I was asked to help out here. In a roundabout way it probably means I won't be posting here much. But I certainly am encouraging you to come on out and ride the Ohio Gran Fondo. It'll be a great event that will benefit those who really deserve it. Check out this video:

In the upcoming year I'll have a lot on my plate. I'm looking forward to it. See you out there.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What a long, strange muddy trip it's been...

*Ahem*. I'd like to offer the following excuse for why I haven't been active here on the innerwebs for a while....

Yep. I don't have an one. One what? Excuse, that's what. I just got carried away doing them other things and, well... no excuse.

So what has happened since the Ohio State Championship races?

On October 29th there was the annual Uncle Steve's Halloween Race. As usual there was costumes, merriment, hard racing, barley-pop hand-ups and... mud.

Uncle Steve's special brand of mud.
Photo copyright 2011 Noah Hutson
   So how does one race their bikes in the mud?, you may be asking. When it gets thick and there's a hairpin turn, here's how:

Photo copyright 2011 Noah Hutson

Photo copyright 2011 Noah Hutson

Photo copyright 2011 Noah Hutson
 Hop on and do it again. Yes, I raced both the C race and the Masters race, which meant at the end of the Masters race, shortly after I thought I had a good sized gap opened up on Mr. Chris Freter, he jumped & went around me. By that time I just had no giddy-up left to go. Dang.  Good racing with a lot of great guys. And thanks to the unspecified-bike-store-folks for the hand-ups!

But wait! There's more!

Yes, yours truly headed down to Derbytown. Louisville, Kentucky was the host of the USGP Derby City Cup on November 12th & 13th. Those of you who are not familiar, USGP is U.S. Gran Prix, a premier traveling cyclocross racing series. Both days of racing were held at Eva Bandman park, a permanent cyclocross facility (a rarity) AND is home to the Masters World Championship in January of 2012 and then overall World Championship in 2013. What does that mean? It means if you play after-work intramural baseball, you got the chance to play at Yankee Stadium. Or if you're a Friday night Late Model stock car racer, you got to race at Daytona a few hours before the Sprint Cup guys made a few laps.

What did I think? How did I do?

I did about how I expected. Which was towards the back of the pack in my age group. Which means that I didn't finish where I would have liked but all things considered I held my own and placed a bit higher than I was "seeded." It was a longer course than I am used to and was certainly more challenging in spots but damn it was fun.

Chris Freter getting some speed

Some more Cap City locals, Doug and Derrick getting a bit blurry in a steep turn. Blurriness could be from thier hypoxia or mine. Not sure.
Thanks to Tony Viton and Chris I got down the importance of a good solid warm up. Instead of the usual falling back for the first lap or so and then coming back up through the pack, I stayed right with the guys I started with and was able to go from there. Hey, I learned something!

My lovely wife and I also took a bunch of photos and conducted a few interviews for Cyclocross Magazine.We had a good time, the weather was good (for a change this season) and Louisville turned out to be a pretty nice city.

Last race of the season is coming up! Sunday the 11th of December. Come on out and spectate, race & just have fun! Also, I just confirmed that it will the the fund raiser race for Wounded Warrior Project again this year - thank you, awesome folks at Cap City Cross for allowing me to have this opportunity! Hey, we're over $1,800 in funds raised for this fantastic charity - can you help us get past the $2,000 mark? ANY LITTLE BIT DOES INDEED HELP!

More to come after this week, I promise.

This little guy would watch the racers go by and then imitate them. Almost all day long. He was awesome!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Two Days in Dublin – Ohio State Cyclocross Championships, 2011

Last weekend was THEE weekend to be in Central Ohio if you’re a cyclocrosser, bike geek who likes to get a bit dirty or just a spectator who enjoys good, hard racing.  Being that I am a budding middle-aged cyclocrosser and a bike geek, guess where I was?  Yup.  In Dublin, Ohio at the Ohio State Cyclocross Championships. Two days of bike abuse and self-imposed leg-pain-laden hypoxia. Sounds grand, right?
Actually it was. After so many years of the State Championship being held at John Bryan State Park in Yellowsprings, OH it was moved to Dublin (a suburb of Columbus if you’re not from the area) as well as moved up about a month on the calendar. I think it was a good move as Dublin is a much more central location. There are also hotels and restaurants and all such amenities much much closer to the track making it better for people who are traveling from out of town and spending a night or two. The Championship races were also spread out to two days. This I think helped spread out the age group races to be more in line with Nationals although I am not certain. The results I believe were a well-attended, well-run event. I certainly hope to see it repeat next year. Thanks go to Ohio Cycling, the City of Dublin, all the crew who stepped in and stepped up as well as all the sponsors. It was a genuine first-class event. 

Surveying the course with the world-renown Mark Farmer
Photo copyright 2011 Chris Freter 
The course was what seems to my inexperienced mind a mid-length course. Which was, as seems to be the case for us, mostly in the grass. I don’t know how long it really was. Long enough, to my legs. It certainly was a pretty flat course but that did not make it easy. If there was a slight edge of a hill, culvert or slope it was used. We had a sand pit! Not often there’s a sand pit to slow us down and test our bike-handling skills. Steps were built into the course, too. Hop off, run up, remount! And to add another edge to slow things down was mud. Yes, it had rained several days prior to this event. So it certain low-lying areas retained water. What I thought of when cleaning off the bikes later: Didn’t ancient peoples make bricks out of compacted grass and mud? And what did we just compact on our bicycles?
But that came later. The first race for us was the first race on Saturday, a Cat 3-4 non-championship race. I know, to those who aren’t regular cyclist, you’ve heard me describe the different groups as “C”, “B” & “A”. Now I’m talking Category (or Cat for short) “3”, “4”, “2”, “1”… what? Let’s say that A)I’m not in charge of how these groups are labeled, and II) The smaller the number or letter, the better grade of athlete. Cat 1 is equivalent to the A group, and down the line. Being a non-championship race also meant there was no state medals on the line, so the winners were free to go for prizes. Which also mean sandbaggers galore. Which in turn mean Jovid wasn’t going to have much of a chance at getting to the front. So it goes. After the first lap Jovid seemed content to hang out at the back with Ben Ross. Jovid made a friend and rode his bike around. He did alright and hey, all is good in the world.

Jovid and Emily looking at all the mud that belongs on the race course.

Before Jovid’s race most of the race course that wasn’t barriers or stairs was rideable. But the increased traffic just made the ground rutted up, fill with water and get much muddier. During a pre-race warm-up lap I found that out the hard way. On my first pass through a sketchy muddy tight left handed turn I found that while most people were trying to stay close to the inside of the corner they were getting bogged down. If I took the corner wide I could get through the corner faster. Good to know for the race. But on my second pass through this corner on the pre-ride I endo-ed in spectacular fashion. Slow-motion ass-over-tea kettle plop into the muck. Not the way I wanted to start the day *but* better to get it out of the way before the race. Dig the bike out of the mud, wash it off real quick, straighten up the handlebars and go get ready. I also adjusted the race plan to run that section instead of trying to ride it. Better muddy feet with some forward momentum than risking a complete halt.
My race on Saturday was the Men’s 45-49, which is odd given that I’m only 44 this year. Another thing that I can’t quite explain right now. C’est la vie. Now this is the State Champion race for this age group only, not broken out into what class or Cat you are. Which mean that some of the guys in my age group were “Former National Champ this” or “Former World Champ that”. Crap. And yesterday I was thinking I had a chance since the age groups were broken into five year intervals. OK, all I can do is run my race the best I can. Which for the most part went pretty well. I had a decent starting spot, slid backwards at the start and just rode it out as the first 1/3 lap was everyone locked together. Not much room to maneuver.  We get to the barriers and things stretch out a bit, I’m able to move up a tick and the race is on. There were some good battles and slowly I was able to make my way past a few gentlemen. I also chopped Chris Freter in one corner – I’m sorry Chris. I did apologize to Chris during the race as well. From there our plan was to reel in the two men in front of us which I eventually did but Chris couldn’t stay with me. Dang. The last guy I got past on the last third of the last lap and when I went I thought I had a comfortable gap on him. But right before the end he made a great effort and closed that gap on me. Then it was a straight up sprint to the finish. I think I barely managed to hold on to the lead in our little battle but I’m not certain as it turned out we were in different age groups and scored differently. Nonetheless it was a good hard race and  didn’t leave anything on the table. And muddy – I was definitely muddy. I left with a 14th place finish for my age group. Not where I wanted to be. I had honestly hoped to place higher. But taking all factors into consideration I am content with my finish but not happy.

See Mom, I go fast!
Photo copyright 2011 Chris Freter 

Day Two brought the general Category races, so I was going to race in the Cat 4 group. A category where I thought I was going to be semi-competitive but guys who didn’t have enough points with USA Cycling or who normally race a different discipline automatically got bumped down to Cat 4. Forced sandbagging as it were. Well, same thing as yesterday it seemed. So it goes. Then I got the first call-up. What?!?!? That can’t be right. But I’ve got to make the most of it. I launched at the whistle trying to keep my heart rate from doing the usual zero-2,756 bpm that seems to happen at starts. As will happen guys started sliding past me on the first half of a lap, and then as I start to settle into race pace my rear tire folds over in a tight corner and I loose most of the air. Luckily I was close to the pits AND luckily I had brought Jovid’s bike as a back-up. Catie wasn’t sure what to expect as we hadn’t rehearsed this move let alone even talk about it. But she was great. Held the bike up as I rode in, dropped the main bike, two steps, grab Jovid’s bike and I’m gone. I lost a couple of positions but still pretty fast change. The race is going well and I’m racing a bit above my head trying to gain ground and just as I had gotten past Mark and Dominic I bite the dust on a short steep drop into a small loop. Scramble, get up and go and … crap. The handlebars are pointed in the wrong direction. I get to the short paved section to get off the bike and straighten the bars and as I try to stand I feel like I’m going to pass out. Honestly I was trying to not hit the deck. I was about to call it and Catie kept urging me on. And I wasn’t dead so, according to our motto, I had to keep going. Two and a half more laps of trying to gain ground I lost and I couldn’t do it. I slowly made time on Ben, putting in small sprints when I could and trying to make up time in the running sections but we were too evenly matched to gain much.

Shortly before I crashed. This shot makes me look much better that I was.
Photo copyright 2011 Chris Freter 

All poise, no giddyup
Lessons learned this past weekend: I have got to work on my starts. I have to put in some of that dreaded interval training so when I put in a hard effort to open a gap on someone I can make it stick. And I had to rework my racing wheel/tire setup. Well, that one is easy enough.
Onwards and upwards, tomorrow is Uncle Steve’s Halloween race which has not been my focus as a race I planned on doing well at so it’ll be more relaxed.  Hope you have a good weekend as well. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'M ...huff, huff, huff... NOT... huff, huff... DEAD.... gasp, wheeze... YET...

Sunday turned out to be an excellent day for CapCity Cross's second race of the season at Big Run Park in Columbus, OH. It started off a bit cool but the sun came out, things warmed up nicely and we got to see a lot of good bicycle racing. The course was well laid out to be a heck of a challenge. Lots of climbing. Lots of tight windy sections. There were no "easy" parts to this course.

First off was the C race - the newbies, slower folks, the less coordinated - in short, NOT the Elites. Which of course means me. Because I usually get off to a slow start and then start to claw my way back into the pack I was thinking this time if I start faster than usual, I'll work hard to hold on and then instead of coming back to the pack at mid-race, I'll be riding away from it.  Great idea. In THEORY. In practice what this meant was I took off like a shot. For the first 30 yards. Then guys started coming around me. So I was riding a bit above my head to not lose them. Which mean I was burning too many matches too early. But I dug in and kept going. Also for a few laps I had a good race going with a guy I'd jostled with a  bit last year - Kelly. He got close to me several times throughout the race and I thought he was going to get by me but I wasn't going to just give it to him. Well, that worked. I managed to hold him off. Kelly, if you're reading this, great race! It is hard to back off when so many people are yelling your name and cheering you on - my lovely bride was especially good at that. On the last lap I headed up this long hill to the finish line (backwards up a soap box derby race hill) she's running beside me yelling that I can't let her beat me up the hill. Last straw, I stood on the pedals and went as hard as I could until the finish line. Then I cramped up so bad in my legs and hands I didn't think I'd be able to control my bike.

I ended up with a solid 6th place finish - not my best placing, but my best for a field this size (about 40 riders). Last year I typically finished mid pack so I have to be happy with my results. I have raced hard before but never had I raced that hard.

Which in turn meant that when I toed the line for the Master's race I could not hang with the guys. I continued to make fast laps but I wasn't going to be in much contention. Then most of the way through the first lap I got a flat in the front. So I lost a bit of ground by heading to the pits and swapping wheels but at this point it was about getting time on the course at race pace. Three laps later the rear tire starts to go low *right after* I get around a guy who it seemed had just cracked. Do I go into the pits and swap the rear and lose the position I had just gained, or keep going and hope it holds? Keep going and hope it holds, which it did. Not a stellar finish, but I'll take it.

Race two, down. Rest and recovery for the Ohio State Championships this upcoming weekend!

On Monday I spent some time in the woods, like at the newly-opened Chestnut Ridge mountain bike trail.

Monday I headed out to this trail, as I finished work early (for once!) and it was a great fall day. I wasn't the only one with that idea as the parking lot was almost full when I finished my laps.

I hope you had a chance to get outside and enjoy and if not, hope you do soon.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Race one recap and Introduction to our Charity

All set for the race now.

Our first venture on to the track this year has come to pass and what can I say?
First of all, T.J. Turner and the entire crew that puts on the John Bryan Cyclocross Classic did an awesome job. It was a long course. Mostly flat, but that did not mean it wasn’t challenging. I think when they laid out the course they found every ditch and side of a hill and made a corner on it. And that long drag from the starting line looks mostly flat but with the soggy grass and it’s upwards tilt made your legs hurt (if you were trying, or in better shape than I). Lots of turns, some small sections on pavement or gravel to give you a boost of speed and a couple of nice wooded single track bits. It was fun but not easy.  If that wasn’t enough, The Lionhearts Racing Team was selling hot apple cider and waffles! Waffles and you get to put on the topping of your choice, including Nutella. My wife topped that by putting Nutella and strawberry jam on a waffle. Oooh, that was like chocolate-covered strawberries. Glad I raced first.
Can we get this race started? I've got waffles to go eat!

So how did we do? Well, we aim to not disappoint so I clocked a steady mid-pack placing in the Cat 4 (Beginners, basically) Masters, just behind one of my steady CapCity racing compatriots Duncan Spillman. Crap. I had hoped to actually do better than mid-pack BUT this is a joint effort with OVCX and they draw a LOT of folks out so I can't be too dissapointed. Besides it was a great race with Duncan. He got away from me halfway through lap one and by the beginning of lap four (last lap) I had him in my sights. Right on his tail shortly after that until that long off-camber turn in the wet grass. He got a good line through the turn, I did not. I spent the rest of that lap chasing him down and came close at the finish line sprint but he held me off. Good on you, Duncan. I’ve got work to do.  As for Jovid, he raced for not last! There were two guys behind him and five that pulled out for whatever reason. Which may sound less-than-stellar but considering Jovid hasn’t really ridden the bike much at all. No training, no coaching, he just jumped on the bike at the race and went to town. So actually I’m pleased with his results.
Last lap, Jovid is NOT giving up.

I think the coolest part was once again running into all the friends I made last year racing cyclocross and watching them race. Next race is Big Run Park in Columbus, OH on the 16th of October. We look forward to seeing you out there!
We’ve got a bit of time before the next race, so I want to introduce you to the charity that we are working to raise money for. It is the  Central Ohio Leathernecks Nation Memorial Fund. “What is that?,” you may ask? From their  Mission Statement: The “Central Ohio Leathernecks Nation Memorial Fund” is a non-profit charity set up to support veterans, in honor of our chapter members who have proudly and honorably served our country and passed away. The Memorial Fund is our way of showing all veterans they continue to make a difference and will never be forgotten.
"Saepe Expertus... Semper Fidelis... Frateres Aeterni"
“Often Tested... Always Faithful... Brothers Forever”
How are your donations used?  Funds are used for various projects such as to purchase items for the veterans at the Chillicothe VA hospital that the VA isn’t able to provide for the veterans. We provide support for homeless veterans and other veterans in need. We also make sizeable contributions to larger veteran’s charities such as the Wounded Warrior project that are able to directly aid our veterans in other ways.
There are no administrative fees with this charity either – 100% of contributions go back to the vets that need it. We believe very strongly in this project and hope that you do, too. We look forward to your support.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Die first, then quit - Our new motto

Woo-hoo! The season that we've all been waiting for is upon us. Well, the season that *I* have been waiting for, anyway. Sunday starts the first race of the Cap City Cross season at John Bryan State Park (although it's a joint raced with the OVCX series and is their 5th race of the season).

I am anxious to start racing but more than a bit of trepidation as well. Always feel nervous leading up to the race, especially at the starting line. I surely haven't gotten near the riding in that I would have liked to in training or just general fitness. I certainly haven't gotten any faster. And yes I'm afraid I'll get halfway though the race and just get shelled.

But that won't ruin my day. My new motto, thanks to the Central Ohio Leatherneck Nation, is "Die First, then Quit". It's not as new-agey and affirming as "I believe in myself" or "You can do it!" but it works for me. Of course I think "Shut Up, Legs!" is pretty funny and appropriate also.

Even if the legs won't shut up I won't be brought to tears. Because I can't take it that seriously. "What, do you not want to win?" you might be saying? Yes, yes of course I want to win. But if I don't, it's just a bike race in a group with other guys my age with little experience. We've not the top of the heap by any means. Besides, it's just guys in spandex like so much sausage bursting out of its casing, racing bikes.

What am I taking seriously? Helping out our local Veterans in need. As do the Central Ohio Leatherneck Nation. Which is why they started their Memorial Fund. They are trying to help local Veterans, whether they are homeless and need a hand to get back on their feet or if they are at the end of their years and are bedridden in a local V.A. Hospital. Whatever it is, the Central Ohio Leathernecks Nation feels strongly about helping out people who were willing to give their all for their country. As do I. If someone who was willing to lay down their life for their country needs something to help them get by I think it is incumbent upon us to help them.

So yes, we will be collecting donation for the Central Ohio Leathernecks Nation Memorial Fund. Soon I hope we will have a website set up to make it easier and safe to contribute but for the time being, you can flag us down at the race (well, maybe before or after the race) or you can send a check, money order, quarters glued to an armadillo, here:
c/o J.D. Kimple
PO Box 222
Carroll, OH   43112-0222

And be sure that the checks or money orders are addressed to Central Ohio Leathernecks Nation Memorial Fund.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"You're barking mad, that's what!"

That's what I hear from some folks. Well, not so much here in the United States. It's usually put a bit more crass here in the U.S. If I had friends in Dublin or Glasgow I imagine that is what they'd say. I have a great imagination. But I digress... (Digressing is one of my better talents).

It's what I hear when I tell people I race cyclocross. Yep, bicycles. In the mud and/or snow if that is what nature provides. And I enjoy it. Well, afterwards I think "Wow, that was pretty cool". During the race itself I'm often thinking "Holy Mother of Cows what the hell was I thinking to go out in this stinkin' muck in temperatures that would make a polar bear find a sleeping bag and a camp fire?!?!?!"

I've heard a similar phrase when people have seen my tattoo. Not many have, so today's the big unveiling.

I know, I don't look like the tattoo-type. For the most part I would agree with you. But as you may have guessed, there's a reason for it. It started out as a joke with my wife (because previously I told her I never had a need to get a tattoo) and she called my bluff. Oh crap, I had to own up. After several months of watching his work I approached the fantastic Any Johnson at Cap City Tattoo. I wanted to come  up with something to not only in the memory of James, but something to encompass our other sons as well. Between Andy, my bride Catie and myself we came up with what you see above. The falling feather is to symbolize James of course but to me the rest of the feathers are family and friends - all the people that keep me aloft, so to speak. Every one just as important as the others.

More madness? Guess what? After several months of Craig and I kidding each other about how cool of an adventure the mountain bike race of the Great Divide would be, I opened my mouth (OK, let my fingers fly) on Loving The Bike's review of Ride the Divide and guess what - I won a copy of Ride the Divide and backed myself into racing the Great Divide in 2013. Doh! Now this one is really bonkers. How do I transform myself from a field service guy who gets to put in 60 miles a week if all goes well to someone who can ride 100+ miles a day, up and down the spine of the Rocky Mountains & hauling all of my own gear? Doing that for a couple of days would be barking mad. Making the entire 2,745 mile trek is... unfathomable.
Of course the question is "Can I really do this?" The answer is, I just don't know. The Tour Divide is not just a hard race. It's more that just a big challenge. The Tour Divide is a brutal race if the truth be known. I have to be able to take about a month or so off of work. I need to have enough money together for me to use during the trip as well as for my family to live off of while I'm off playing masochistic bike monkey. I need to be up to living in a tent or bivy sack for most of that trip. I need to physically be up to the challenge. And I need to be able to cope with the day after day of solitude. Well, I'm sure Craig will be with me at the start but after a few days he's going to want to take off and I'll be holding him back so I'll tell him to take off and not wait for me and after the fourth time saying it he's going to take off and... See, I told you digression was one of my talents.

Yes it would be an amazing accomplishment. Yes the scenery would be indescribable. Yes I'm crazy. But am I crazy enough to really, honestly do this? Well, let's get through this 'cross race season and go from there, eh?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Revving the engines, shifting the gears & new fund raising opportunities

ALRIGHT! It's time to ramp up to race season. The practice races have started, the trash talking has started, and my training has... not had the start I had hoped. But that's life. While I'd like to have been better prepared when the racing starts in the beginning of October I was reminded recently by Larry Penya to not take it too seriously. Guess that's like this blog... haven't been getting the writing off as regular as I had hoped. But really I will try harder - on both. Really. I mean it. No, really.

In addition to having other things in life happen besides my not-so-carefully scripted training plan there's been other changes. For instance we're shifting gears in our fundraising efforts. Last year as you may or may not recall we were racing to raise money for Wounded Warrior Project. We did alright, ending up with just shy of $1,700.00. Not too shabby. But this year we wanted to focus our efforts on a more local charity. This year we will be raising money for the Central Ohio Leathernecks Nation Memorial Fund. This fund is used to aide our Veterans in Central Ohio whether they are in a nursing home needing basic amenities, homeless needing a hand or somewhere between. We chose to do this because the Central Ohio Leathernecks Nation has been there to help and support our family in the past three years without question or hesitation. We feel that if we get the opportunity to help them out for a change we should do so. As well, I'm hoping we can raise just as much money for the Central Ohio Leathernecks Nation Memorial Fund as we did for Wounded Warrior Project. It's a big challenge but I think we can do it.

Soon we hope to have a website up so that donations can be made online through a secure transaction. In the meantime you can still use the really old fashioned method of mailing a check or money order. If you choose to do that, it should be made out to the Central Ohio Leathernecks Nation Memorial Fund. It can be sent to:
J.D. Kimple
PO Box 222
Carroll, OH   43112-0222

While I may not be taking my training and racing too seriously I am taking this cause very seriously. I am taking this opportunity to ask for you to take it seriously, too. Please.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What makes a patriot?

Throughout my adult years hints of this very question have come to mind but I don’t think it was until the past six months that the various aspects of this seemingly simple question have coalesced in my little brain. Behaviors, politics, military issues and other factors have nudged at my beliefs.  I could either dismiss such questions outright in blind comfortable denial or if I were truly honest with myself it would give me cause to think, question or even change my position.
Which has led me to the heart of this question – What makes a patriot? What does it mean to be patriotic? Is simply putting a flag outside your door or a magnetic ribbon on your SUV good enough? Is someone who wears a t-shirt emblazoned with “USA #1” also a patriot or jingoist? Where is the line between being patriotic and being overly nationalistic? Xenophobic? Is a person patriotic if they think “This is America, love it or leave it!” Or is the person who thinks “There are some problems here that really need changed” more patriotic?  I ask these questions because at the heart of it I have ideas of what a patriot is but I’m not sure where the line in the sand really is. Who is the patriot and who is just along for the ride?
Recently I have heard something like “You can be one of us if you’re a true patriot”. But now what does that mean? Does that infer untrue patriots are lurking? Aren’t those called traitors?
I could give you the definition copied and pasted straight from a dictionary website but A) you’re a big enough person to look it up on your own, and B) I don’t think it covers all the bases. But what does it mean to you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pull your pants up!

I know, I am veering dangerously away from my stated purpose of this blog originally. Soon I will get back to it. No, really. I'll do it, honest. But for now other thoughts tickle my fancy (and who knew I had a fancy to tickle or that one could tickle a fancy?).

It starts with the idea of telling these kids to pull up their stupid pants. Yeah, I know homie, it's all the style and stuff. Phht. Whatever. What I know is this "style" stems from a group of people who find it necessary from time to time to run from, oh, other gang members or the cops. Guess what? If your belt is below your hips and the crotch of your trousers is at your knees simple physics tells us that you won't run very fast or effective. You're slowing yourself down! Oh, yeah... right. Physics wasn't your best subject. In fact, none of the subjects was your best subject. But I digress (again).

Please keep in mind that I'm not saying that every knucklehead who doesn't have enough pride or sense of self-esteem is going to be chased by the cops or fellow gangbangers. I just feel that the origins need to be brought to the fore. Nonetheless, pull up your damn pants and wear them like a man.

As I type this I realize that this makes me sound like an old man. All you droopy-drawers out there will be glad to point it out to me and that I just don't understand. Number one; I understand you look stupid regardless of how old I am. Number two; Sure enough I'm getting older. But I still recall my youth.

In my younger days I grew my hair out for a short time. It got pretty long. I thought I was going to be cool like Ted Nugent. All the "older" folks on my paper route used to tell me that they thought I was a girl with the long hair. Sure, I thought they "didn't understand". But recently I looked at some photos of myself from that era. Guess what? I was the one that didn't understand. I really *did* look like a girl. No wonder why I had such a hard time getting a date!


Pull up them damn pants before I get the stapler.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A slow, intermittent emergence from winter...

Yes I know, I was trying to get back to posting regularly and, well... work schedule has gone wonky. Probably will be for some time. What little time I do have could either be used by getting my enlarging behind on my bike and trying to get some fitness together for the upcoming year, OR I could sit here and type. Most of the time I've chosen option A. Not often, granted, but when I get to pick, that's the prize package I've picked.

Which usually leads to the less-than-best-estimate-of-my-abilities judgements. When, say, Ric from CyclistConnection says "Hey, I'm going to pre-ride the 75 mile course for the Ride4Autism, who wants to join me?", guess who's hand was in the air? Yep, this ol' monkey. And after forty-some miles in the grueling, windy day guess who had to back off and let everyone go because his legs were shot? Yep, monkey boy strikes again. But how am I going to get better if I don't keep jumping in to the deep end, right? That's what I tell myself. I don't often believe myself but it doesn't stop me.

Of course we can continue this line of hysteria by saying, "Hey, the Muskingum Madness is a long-ish mountain bike ride. That ought to be a challenge. Let's do it." As if that wasn't hard enough with a lack of fitness to work from, I decide "Oh, I don't really need to ride a mountain bike, I'll just ride the same old cyclocross bike for this". For those of you who don't ride bicycles much, here's the basic difference: Mountain bikes typically have at least front suspension, a lot have rear suspension as well & mountain bike tires are over 2" wide. Great for digging into dirt, grabbing on rocks and roots, that sort of thing. A cyclocross bike, on the other hand, has no suspension, much skinnier tires (about 35mm wide, or 1 3/8" or so) and has a more aerodynamic, less "in control" positioning. Needless to say, come the day of the ride I was the only one foolhardy enough to actually carry through with this irrational train of thought.

One of the great views from near The Wilds
 The Muskingum Madness however has a certain draw for me. The ride begins on The Wilds mountain bike trails, then continues up the road up and around The Wilds wildlife conservation center. This would allow us some good views (although not super-close) of rhinos, giraffes, gazelles, and other animals. We would continue on along some roads, across some grass lands, a bit more time on dirt and paved roads, on into the AEP mtb trails, back to some little-used road through rolling hills and on back to the North Camp starting point. Sounds like a great idea.

It was. But I had to add to what was already going to be a good challenge for me by riding the 'cross bike. I had seveal reasons, one of which was I didn't really have a mountain bike (mtb) ready to roll yet. I also believe that  a lot of hardpack dirt trails can be ridden on a bike with no suspension. Now rocks, tree roots, steep hillsides and miles of MUD (thanks to one of the wettest Aprils on record for Ohio) tend to play in the favor of the bike I didn't have together. Additionally, I thought that by pushing myself on the 'cross bike it would aid my bike-handling skills come 'cross racing season.

To my credit, I completed the ride although I did forgo the last ~5 miles of trail due to mechanical issues - I got the bike to ride-able but decided to NOT tempt fate one last time. I had done enough of that as it was. It was indeed a tough, long, challenging ride. And a lot of fun. Met some really cool people. Thanks to the folks with Appalachia Outdoor Adventures and associated organizations for putting together a great ride with great support. I definitely recommend their adventures as they certainly are a class act.

And to think, I had cleaned all this up about 4 times along the trail...
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Off season? I'm always off...

"So, what is the mighty neo-cyclocross racer doing in the off-season?", I hear you ask. OK., I didn't really hear that. I just image I heard you say that. Yes, I like to pretend. It's normal. Really. But I digress... um, what exactly have I been doing in the off-season?

Well I did take my racing partner/son Jovid along with our son Parker and two of their friends out to Mad River Mountain so we could all fall down many multiples of times in the cold wet snow under the guise of "snow boarding." (Quick note - if you ever decide that you may want to try snowboarding make sure you have a helmet. A really, really good one.) It was part of Jovid's birthday present. So we assembled a group of people who have never been snowboarding OR skiing before and said "Let's make a day of this!" Sure, why not? The only thing we have to lose is consciousness, right?

After all was said and done we did do pretty well. Tori made it down the hill without falling by the end of the night. Brian did pretty well (but he had been snowboarding once before and was the holdout among this group). Jovid got some really good runs in and Parker did very well. I am quite proud of this group, given the inexperience. It took a while for myself to get up to speed but I think my previous time spent as a skater punk actually helped. Probably the hardest fall I had was getting off the dang chair lift where I got tangled up and left Jovid no choice but to run over my head. Not to worry! As I said, I spent quite a bit of time as a skater boy and I had already turned this part of my brain to mush long ago. No harm, no foul.

Otherwise, yes I do get out and ride my bike when I get the chance. Snow, rain, sleet, whatever... I put fenders both on the Monster and the Race Horse to keep the salty road spray at bay (I hope). But I have found that below about 15 degrees F is my cutoff. I haven't gotten the chance to ride a whole lot, but it does happen. About once or twice a week. Oh yes I could bring the bike inside and ride the trainer, which I have done a few times. Not often. I know I should jump to it and get more time in but, hey, this has been "Winter". A time of year where most animals go into hibernation. Being lethargic comes naturally. Add to that, that my job has kept me on the road a lot lately.

With keeping me on the road a lot I've finally decided to quit lamenting about lost riding time and jump on the hotel treadmill (dreadmill?). After about  7 or 8 times now (the first real running I've done since High School) I'm starting to bet the hang of this. Figuring out what pace I can do. I like to just jump on and hit one of the treadmill's random programs. Several weeks ago I decided to start with the hardest of the random programs for an hour. Sooner or later the old brainiac will figure out what his limits are. Oi, that one hurt. However I think I've got this figured out.

And soon there will be more daylight so that when I do finish a job, I can take the bike out of my car and ride. Yes, I take my bike with me.

And to tidy the post up I'll mention that I've started to get involved in the Ride4Autism and am hoping to jump into that full throttle. The Ride4Autism is a ride that Cyclist Connection is very involved with. All proceeds will benefit the Nationwide Children's Hospital. There are several routes to choose from so if you bring your family or if you want a 75 mile challenge, there is something or you. I certainly look forward to seeing all my friends (and soon to be friends) out on one of these routes. Make sure you register HERE early, as the ride is April 30th!

To sum up:
Learning to snowboard = multiple concussions.
Snow + cold + bicycles = slow going.
Brainiac here + treadmill = lungs on the floor.
You + your bike =  Ride4Autism on April 30th.

Easy enough, right?
Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 7, 2011

How long does it take to heal?

OK, I know, long layoff. Several pieces factor into that equation. Besides, sometimes you just need a break, right? I’d like to say I’ll jump in to the jovial frivolities right away but perhaps later. Just wanted to try to stretch out on a few different, more serious angles.

And to get to the point of the title, how long does it take a person to heal? Well it depends on healing from what. Physical injury? Scrape? Broken bone? There is a physiological process that happens with cell regeneration, nature of the injury, cleanliness of the wound and other things. But this can be roughly determined. I don’t have an answer – your physician or specialist would be better equipped to do that. But there is a generally defined timeline.

But what if it’s an emotional trauma? Say, the loss of a loved one, as family member? In which case I am looking for answers to that very question and all I have found is “it depends.” As much as I’d really like to have a timeline of when the hurting stops I don’t think thee really is one. It differs from day to day and sometimes hour to hour.

As you may well know, we are approaching three years since we’ve lost our son, Lcpl. James Kimple. And while the hurt has eased some, it is still there. Yes, I still will tear up talking about him. Hell, I’m having a hard time not crying as I type this in a hospital cafeteria (I am fighting a loosing battle here). However my wonderful bride usually has a bit of an easier time talking about James lately. So if you see us together and ask us about James, usually she will answer. I don’t know why that is. It just is. “So it goes” as Kurt Vonnegut would say. This is not to tell you to not ask me about James. I do want to talk about him – this forum is certainly an example of that – just if you ask me in person you might need to give me a few moments.

At three years you’d think it’d be easier for me to talk or just think about James. I certainly would have thought as much. So at what point will it be less difficult? Hard to say. I am sure there will be a day when it gets easier. Maybe by talking about him more I can “work through it.” Maybe the idea of “working through it” is a bunch of crap. All I can say is that I believe it’s different for different people. Different facets of this process will be harder or easier depending on the makeup and thought processes of a person.

What I do know is that I have a fantastic bride and two wonderful sons to help. I have a good family that helps however they can. There are three awesome grandchildren that carry on James’ DNA. And I do have some pretty cool friends. Whether I am talking to them about James or something totally different I think it all helps.

But a definite end? In a strange way I hope it never ends. I feel that the sadness I feel is in direct relation to the amount of joy he brought to my life. I I would never trade that for anything.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The summing up & things to come

Like a fair number of bloggers/people/slackers, I inevitably took the “holiday season” off from writing any meaningless drivel incredibly profound statements. I know, at the conclusion of my last post I had wondered if there was a point to my continuing to write. I think there is. There was no single reason for my hiatus, but a wonderful implosion as worlds collide leaving this weeks-long void. Probably about the same for most people at this time. Besides I just needed to lay low to recharge my batteries. So it goes.

However I think we need to start with where we last left off. I managed to recap the last race of the season. Not great shakes, but fair enough. Now, how about overall? When all is said and done, all the chips counted, insert cliché here, how did we finish the Cap City Cross season? Jovid, having raced only three races due to work conflicts, managed a 74th out of 107 men in the C or beginner category. All things considered, not bad! As for myself I pulled down a 6th overall placing in the same group. Whoa, and that was missing one race. Had I not fallen ill, I very well could have been in the top 5 for the season. Which just really blows my mind. Then in the Masters 35+ I carded 8th out of 47. Holy Wa! Not that it’s a heavily contested area but hey, that was with me only racing half of the B Masters 35+ races. I’ll take it. Look, it’s my delusion; don’t destroy it just yet, please?

The most important thing is how did we do overall with the fundraising for the Wounded Warrior Project? I did mention that in the last post “And we finish with a BANG! What Next?”. Basically, we managed to raise $1,650 for the Wounded Warrior Project. Wow. While I do really wish it were more I have to think that we started this fundraising effort with little knowledge of how these things are done and not much besides desire. Our original goal was $1,000 and the Jovid and I decided to bump it up to a goal of $5,000 just because. By no means can we look back on this as a disappointment for not meeting the $5,000 goal.

What I thought was an off-kilter idea (raising money by racing) turns out to not be so odd. World Bicycle Relief was the beneficiary of “Racing Cross for a Cause” during the National Championships in Bend, Oregon. And the PabLOVE Foundation even had a team hitting the cyclocross circuit in their region to raise awareness and funds. Heck, there’s even Team Type 1, which grew to not only be a cycling team competing in the Race Across America, but now had a Mens & Womens professional cycling teams, a Developmental squad, a Triathalon team AND a running team. (To the guy – “Big Johnson” - who got all hacked off about the article in the Columbus Dispatch about our meager effort – how about them apples?)

Through this ordeal/adventure I’ve managed to figure a few things out, like a strange notion called “advanced planning.” Novel idea, I know. As well I’ve managed to make a few connections. Some in part to the coverage we managed to receive, which in turn begat a bit more coverage. All of which I am hoping to parlay into an annual bicycle ride during the warmer months. Several people have expressed an interest in helping with this. My idea is that our Proud Supporter ride is more family friendly and encourages all kinds of people of all sorts of abilities to just ride our bikes and show our support for our Wounded Veterans. Who knows if it will come to fruition for sure but, as some “success manuals” point out, by stating things publicly we inevitably move ourselves closer to the stated goal. So we shall see, eh?

In the upcoming year I will be riding in the Cyclist Connection team kit, too. Wow. Never thought I was fast or good enough to be on a real team. I feel that by agreeing to join the Cyclist Connection crew I have to step up my game. To me, this means fitting in some sort of training where previously I would have found reasons not to or even just plain slacked off. It’s a vote of confidence and a means of motivation.

That said, I need to get on the treadmill in this hotel and get some fitness in before I conk out for the night. Need to sweat it out now. Get some fitness in the bank so I have some stores later in the year when it’s really needed.

As always, thanks for reading.