Monday, October 29, 2012

State CX Champs, Uncle Steve's, . . and new sponsors!

Recent recap!
Let's start with Ohio State Championships. Two Days in Dublin, it's called. Because it's held in Dublin, Ohio (a Northwest suburb of Columbus) and because it takes two days. Clever, eh?

Saturday, 20-October was the age group races; Juniors, Masters, that sort of thing. This was one of the main focuses of my race season. Quick summary - while not quite as strong as I had hoped to be I was stronger than last year by far. Several laps in and my rear derailleur decided to not work any more, so to the pits and swap for the pit bike. Chase back on and I'm doing alright. With a quarter of a lap remaining I lose half the air in my rear tire. The back of the bike is squirrelly as all get out. Duncan Spillman, who I just fought so hard to get by, then gets by me. But I'm not giving up, I'm trying to go as fast as the bike will allow. Duncan slows down on the finishing stretch and I put in a hard sprint to try to get around him and the chain breaks. Kaput. At least I can coast through the finish and not have anyone else pass. Finish up 10th place in my age group. Hey, top 10 for the team.

Photo courtesy Susan Hackett
Sunday the 21st of October was the Category races. This year I was bumped up from Category 4 (Beginners) to Category 3. That in mind this was my first State Champ race in this group. Started off feeling pretty bad but after a few laps my legs started to come around and carry my sorry butt around the race course. Slowly I was gaining on folks that last year I couldn't hold on to, including being able to pass my coach in the closing laps. Finish with a 16th place. I'm good with that. What floored me was hearing how many people complimented me on how strong I was riding this year. I certainly appreciated how many folks recognized my efforts and really didn't know how to answer it. So, to everyone who noticed - wow, thank you!

Photo courtesy Susan Hackett
 Next race was Uncle Steve's annual Halloween race as held by Cap City Cross. As usual this means folks dressed in costumes, fun and frivolity. Not to mention it's not considered the most serious race of the year. First thing about this is THANK YOU UNCLE STEVE for letting us use your private property to ride our bikes around and tear up your grass. Always the gracious host and we appreciate it.

This year I went as a CX-Rated Cowboy. It is a play on "CX" being commonly used as shorthand for "cyclocross" as well as a reference to a local band called "X-Rated Cowboys". Hopefully I didn't embarrass the folks too much. And them chaps I wore proved to cause interference with the chain multiple times until the wardrobe malfunction caused me to just stop and take the chaps off. Yes this means that I lost a bunch of time in the race but again I should remind you that it's not considered the most serious race of the year. Add to this the weather starting as cool with temps falling. The rain started during our race and the track got muddy and very slick in spots.

On the bike displaying my... ahem... assets. Told you I was a CX-rated cowboy! Photo courtesy Meredith Gabriel
Letting it all hand out! Photo courtesy Meredith Gabriel

The tires did the best they could do to hold me upright but there were spots where I could have used more traction. Nonetheless I ended up with a 7th for the day. Better than that was the fact that so many good people were out, dressed up & having fun. To all those folks who came out to race, cheer, heckle - you rock! 
I know, a cowboy with a didgeridoo is a bit disjointed. Photo courtesy Meredith Gabriel.
Next line of business is the new sponsors. I certainly need to say thank you to Igy Nutrition, Duro Tire and Feed the Machine. I'm looking forward to a long working partnership with these fine companies and of course I urge you to check them out. Time to get back on the stick and do well for these fine folks.
As always, thanks for reading.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's the wind up... and the pitch!

Ah yes, cyclocross season in firmly underway! And long time, no update. Gah. I need to stay on top of this…
To sort out the business end of things; I’m racing for the Grassroots team along with Rich Hamrick for the extent of cyclocross season. A tip of the hat to these gentlemen for opening their door to us as it’s a great program that they have. Rest of the time I’m riding with Cap City Cycling and many thanks to the great guys here also.
First race was Cap City Cross opener at Lobdell Frisbee Park. This is always one I’m on the fence about. It is a fun course to ride because there’s three “tiers” which makes for some hard climbing and some screaming fun downhill. However because it’s so stretched out it’s not the best for spectators. Nonetheless it was time to get to business. Racing in the Masters race I had a great back and forth battle with Scott Murschel (BioWheels). He’d get me on the uphill and I’d make the tires stick on the downhill and get back past him. Then on the flats to the Start/Finish I’d put in an effort to gap him and he’d either jump with me or slowly reel me in on the ascent. Also, I have to thank Rich and his son for one of the most pro-level bike hand ups at a Cap City event. Didn’t like the way the Fuji was handling with the tire setup I had so I went to the backup bike. Great plan because I was really able to rail the downhill bits; including carrying so much speed into the bottom 180 Left-hander that I had my left foot out Moto-X style.  Overall a fun, hard race. While I didn’t have the finish I would have liked I found that I was riding stronger than last year. I guess all this “training” stuff is really helpful after all.
It could be worse...
Second race was at Caser’s Ford Park in Xenia, Ohio. This was the third race in the OVCX series and as always, OVCX works at a high level. Caser’s Ford is a park that hasn’t been used in five years and contains a large outdoor amphitheater. By laying fallow for so long it meant that the ground was not smoothly packed down – a very bumpy course with soft grass that wanted to take whatever strength you *thought* you had in your legs and pull it straight down to the earth. Again I was racing in the Men’s Masters Division, this time it was Category 2/3. As a newly minted Cat. 3 I have a ways to get to the front of this pecking order let alone with the Category above. Ultimately this means “get out there, race your butt off and you’ll get there.” Definitely had me racing above my comfort zone. Again I have several gentlemen that we traded places with throughout the race and in the last three or four laps I was able to reel in some.  I may not always be racing for podium; there is someone that I’m always racing against.  I have to say that in the first two laps there was a section that had my legs hurting so much that I thought this was going to be the race where I pulled the plug. Glad I didn’t. The legs came around. Besides, our slogan is “Die First Then Quit”.  While my finish reflects me being off towards the tail end I can see that I am indeed making progress.

Third was Cap City Cross race #2 at Alum Creek beach area. This ain’t no beach blanket bingo. Annette and Frankie can’t hang. Unfortunately neither could I as I had to catch a flight out to Tucson at the same time that the Masters race was to start. Grrr. So I didn’t get to race but this didn’t mean I stayed away. As part of the Cap City Cross group I wanted to make sure the racing went off well. My lovely bride Catie also stepped up her involvement with Cap City Cross and is now working the registration process.  I’m proud and thankful for her willingness to help. 
While it is a bit painful to watch and not be participating it was fun to watch so many of my friends race so well. It was of course frustrating to seem some good folks not have the race that they were capable of for whatever reason. I enjoyed watching my team mate Rich is his back and forth battle, I just wished it would have played out with him coming out ahead. This course had racers hitting the beach area twice. If you thought running was difficult in the sand you ought to try riding your bike in it. And the wind –Holy Wa, the wind! It was brutal. Not to mention when you hit the sandy sections you were headed straight into the gales. Double brutal.
Up next is State Championship races at Coffman Park in Dublin, Ohio. While I am going to miss the age-group races on Saturday, October 20th I will be racing on Sunday the 21st in the Category 3 championship race.  It’ll be demanding and fun I have no doubt. Hope to see you out there as this is a great course to be a spectator at and lots of great people will be there.
Thanks again for reading.