Sunday, December 13, 2009

Barnyard Cross - Manhattan

8 inches of snow 2 days before raceday helped to create the funnest cross race of the year. The Bad Goats had blazed a 10-15 feet wide swath along the entire course running around the grounds of the Manhattan Area Technical College, but there was still enough of the white stuff on the course that it was the single biggest factor in how it rode. Temps were well below freezing for the SS race at noon, so it was hard and fast but icy around the corners. The singlespeed field of 7 riders started about 30 seconds behind the 4's, including good friend and Crackanooner, Dustan. I was able to grab the win ahead of mostly local riders- I think there was only one SS'er not from Manhattan.
Then it was time to drink beer. Lots of beer. Barnyard beer... Granite City beer... Mickeys... more Barnyard...
By the time the 3/4 race started at 3, the temps had climbed into the mid/upper 30s. The snow turned to water in some places, mud in others, and remained solid in others. A section of the course threaded through a wooded area where there was a considerable layer of old leaves, branches, wood chips, and even some abandoned cement blocks! All this debris combined with the snow made for a particular nasty section of trail. You can see Andy, above, navigating through this area. The mountain bikers definitely had the advantage for this one.
The course looked so wet and nasty by the end of the 3/4s that I decided to have one more go at it and I entered the Open/1/2/3 race. 9 of us started at 4 and the temps had started back down towards the freezing mark again. By mid-race, small ice patches were forming and the whole 1.5 miles was an ever changing menagerie of mud, grass, ice, snow, sand and water- beautiful! I got some beer handups from T. Park and Michaela and was engaged in an ongoing snowball fight with John Waller and company. I rolled across the finish in 5th and nobody came in behind me. I guess the tandem mountain bike didn't work out too well for the Bad Goats. Others were probably more interested in getting back to more Barnyard brew.
Big THANKS to Apel, Patterson, Stamper, and the rest of the Bad Goats for putting on a super cool race! This one's on the calendar for next year already.

Monday, December 7, 2009

random thoughts...

Admittedly, I was apprehensive about moving to KC. After all, I'd been in Manhattan since '95 and on my own in the sticks for the last 5 years. Well, I'm happy to report, I'm loving it. I'm not seeing Michaela as much as I'd thought- she works some hard hours to the tune of 12-hour overnight shifts- but it's working out. Suburbia? Not so bad. I've traded the gravel nets across the Flint Hills for farm roads and winding blacktops between Parkville and Smithville. I'm not missing work, however I am starting to fret a little over the lack of incoming finances. I've not started writing yet but I am thinking about it alot.
The above photo shows the space afforded me in the basement to construct a workshop. I'm looking forward to the process of building it from the ground up with workbench, shelves, lighting and everything. As if I needed an excuse to spend more time with my bikes.
I was thumbing through some notes I've kept over the years and came across this gem of a quote by Dana Catlett: "My pharmacist had to tell me my shrink had died". I remember jotting this down on the back of Ken Miner's business card after a debaucherous night of intoxicated bike riding many moons ago. A group of us were sitting in 75th Street Brewery after a Frank Tuesday event. We'd seen the Elevator Division that night at one of the bars we stopped at and... well, nevermind. It's amazing how much a square piece of paper can hold.
14 is a good number.
I'm thinking maybe I could create an exercise regimen that could be fun and, more importantly, marketable. I was inspired by Roberto's insistence that you don't need to buy a bunch of commercial exercise equipment to get a good workout. Additionally, I've been reading up on Yoga techniques lately. So, I've come up with a few exercises that anyone can do and everyone should do! It's basically a collection of physical movements that humans used to engage themselves in but no longer do because of technological advances. It's easy and cheap but you'll have to buy the book to find out what it's all about. Here's a teaser:
"Wash the Clothes"
It's basically a simulation of scrubbing clothes on a washboard then gathering them up and hanging them out to dry. Some folks won't know what a washboard is so they'll get an education as a bonus. There's some dance steps involved, but that's basically it. Yeah, that's money in the bank.
When you were a kid and you got going on the swing, did you ever really think you just might go all the way around?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Flyover at Duck Creek

While visiting Michaela's family in Dallas over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the chance to sneak into a local race. There was no mistaking I was racing in Texas- hot temps, flat as a pancake, and Lone Stars emblazened on most jerseys. Although there is no solution for the weather or inexplicable Texas pride, the organizers did make up for the lack of elevation differential with a contraption called "The Flyover". As seen in the photo above, it was a large set of stairs on one side followed by a steep ramp down the other. Neatly tucked below the large bridge structure was another smaller ramp which we navigated just before turning sharply and climbing the brige. I'd seen pics of these structures, but never before had a chance to ride one. It was fun, but I'd still prefer a good 'ol natural climb.
As I said, the course was super-flat. It was dry too with few obstacles to slow you down except a tiny patch of light mud and the requisite baracades and sand pit. The corners were wide and sweeping too so it was flat-out almost all the way through.
I was late getting to the line and slotted in on the last row. The wide straight start allowed me to get up to mid-pack before the first corners but The Flyover was near the start and I got caught up in the traffic jam on that. I knew I didn't have a chance at a top placing so I settled in and started picking my way up past riders on subsequent laps. Eventually I found a rider to pace with and we rode the last half of the race together. The promoter seemed to be friends with him and was giving him placing and time checks on our way around and from his info I finished in 8th. But when I looked at the sheet they had me in 15th. I don't know, seemed like I was much better than that- it wasn't that big of a field. I didn't protest though. Whatever, I had a fun race and felt fortunate that I got to experience The Flyover.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

For sale: Zipp 303 wheelset

Zipp 303 clinchers w/ shimano freehub body
2008 model year ridden less than 500 miles. Near new condition. No crashes- I never even flatted on these.
Dimpled carbon, bladed spokes, and super smooth bearings = speed!
See craigslist ad for contact info.

Monday, November 16, 2009

DeStad Cup: Kansas State Championship

On a wet, windy, messy Sunday at St. Mary’s, I earned the Cat.3 Kansas State Cyclocross Championship. In doing so, I learned two things: First, I’m clueless as to how to train for a race. And, secondly, I absolutely cannot judge my own fitness level.

I’m sick of talking about it but I’ll mention my sore achilles one more time only for context here- I’d been nursing a sore achilles for a few weeks and during this past week I stayed off the bike completely exept for two mellow 20 mile rides. So, going into the DeStad Cup, I figured my chances of really making a go for the podium were about as good as flagging down an ice cream truck in hell. Nevertheless, I decided to race and have fun- after all, it is cross! So, I relaxed on the sidelines and watched all the other races in the morning and even enjoyed a few frosty beverages.

The morning races were wet but not sloppy. But the rain picked up around noon and by the time the Open class started, the course was well on it’s way to slime. I knew whatever small patches of traction left for the Opens would be chewed up and regurgitated back onto the course by the time the 3/4s started, and that got me thinking I might actually do alright. I love mud. I love rain. I love sleet. And I love the cold! As we lined up, I was giddy with excitement- It was still raining, there was standing water everywhere, and the temps had dipped into the upper 30s with a stiff NE wind.

The start was typical of my meager sprinting ability. I lined up front and center but went into turn one in 8th or 9th. Eric Stull faired better so I quickly went around a few riders to get onto his wheel. I followed him through a few turns and then he let me go around. Once in front of Stull, I zeroed in on Doug Stone and passed a few more riders to get onto his wheel. I followed Doug for awhile and finally squirted (literally) around him on one of the sloppiest corners on course. I kept accelerating down the long wet straight and when I looked back after a few more corners, I had a gap. Well, there was no letting up after that!

Chris Hershey was the only rider still ahead of me and I breifly entertained thoughts of corraling him. But after I slid out and went splat trying to get through the soup down by the pond, I gave up on that. Instead, I settled into a rhythm that would allow me to hold off Doug. Hershey was riding strong and I thought another effort to bridge up to him would risk me blowing up completely. Hershey was from Missouri, you see, so I was fighting for the KS State title at this point. We finished up in that order: Chris, Me, Doug. Chris got a great win, I earned the State Championship, and Doug sealed first place in the series.

I had completely surprised myself. And I’m sure a few of my competitors were surprised as well. I actually felt bad b/c I had talked to Rob Schultz before the race and I acted- honestly- like I wasn’t going to be able to do anything. Lesson: STFU about injuries. Just go ride- everyone has their issues.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Veteran's Cross

Photo: Philip Wilkerson, more HERE.
Back to St. Mary's U. for another round of the De Stad Van Kansas Series. Another great course lined out by Chris and friends. Very fun once again.
I've been nursing a sore achilles and I wasn't sure how it would respond under race pressure. The race started fast down the flat stretch of brick road and I squeezed into about 6th position before jumping off into the grass then I quickly moved up to 3rd just behind Doug Stone. My ankle felt good so I pushed on with Doug for awhile trying to keep Mark Cole within sight. Doug and I swapped positions once or twice and then he began to pull away from me. I was alone in 3rd for a bit and then my ankle started hitting me with a sharp pain. Rather than risk doing more damage, I eased off the gas and resigned myself to ride it out in a lower gear.
I finished up in 16th while watching a couple of team mates- Dave and Andy- have a great race. Dave edged into the top 10 and Andy finished his first 3/4 race in 14th after winning the 4 race earlier. I was hoping to see Eric Stull come by me as well, but Dave told me he'd broke a chain as he went around me.
In all, it was great fun once again. I especially enjoyed the little kicker on the way to the back side. I caught some good air on it. My apologies to Roger for almost running him over while trying to show off- although I'm sure it's not his first close encounter with a racer.
Next week: Back to St. Mary's again!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Smithville CX

Another great race in the De Stad series. The course was very similar to last year but with the added pleasure of The Beach- a 50 or-so meter length of soggy sand along the sunny and beautiful shores of placid Smithville Lake. Ahhhh, what a wonderful place to spend a leasurly Sunday afternoon- or burning your legs off whilst holding down breakfast. That's some fine cross.
I had fun and felt great other than some sore legs from working out with Roberto the day before. Boy, Roberto reeeally did a number on my ass! Nate S. and I took advantage on Saturday of a free 'Power and Endurance Training For Cyclists'. We pounded on tractor tires, climbed ropes, jumped on things, ran, and skipped, and jumped. It was fantastic but it left my legs quite sore. That's my excuse for finishing 7th- HA!
Ate a Minskys pepperoni pizza and watched Evil Dead II with my girlie this evening. It has been a fantastic weekend.
My boy Andy is looking stronger every race. He scored another 2nd in the 4 race flying the Colavita colors for the first time. Adam K. looked good too. Michaela has stated she will do her first race in Manhattan on Dec. 12- looking forward to seeing that!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chris Cross - St. Mary's U

If you ever saw Christian Hosoi fly his famous Christ Air 7 feet above the lip of a halfpipe back in the day then you know where my inspiration came from for this barrier leap.

The St. Mary’s campus is the most beautiful spot for cross. I’d imagine the hardest part about designing a course there is deciding which features to leave out. I’m glad there is still another race there this year.

Bad legs and clumsy: From the start, I couldn’t get it together and things just got worse as the race went on. I had a front line position for the uphill start but ended up going into the first turn in about 15-20th postion b/c I could not get clipped in. I was able to use the wide course to catch back up to the lead group quickly but I could feel that my legs weren’t there. I just didn’t feel like I could get any power and I actually got stiffer as the race wore on. It felt like trying to swim through honey. And to make matters worse, I felt clumsy and hesitant on the barriers. So I spent the whole race fighting myself but despite all my trouble I still managed to grab 3rd place.

It was lonely out there. The first 4 positions got sorted out after lap two and from then to the finish everyone held their position and the gaps between us all just kept growing. At one point Mark Cole stumbled on a barrier up ahead of me and I was able to catch him as he fumbled with his chain. But I seemed to be stuck in low gear and couldn’t get around him and he pulled back away. It was a frustrating race, but sometimes it just be’s that way. I still had fun and enjoyed the course immensly- I just wish I could’ve loosened up and found a rhythm. Looking forward to coming back soon.

It was great to see so many Manhattan faces out there. The best local result was Andy Wiens grabbing 2nd in a photo finish just ahead of Mike Ellis, a KSU rider. Awesome 3-up sprint finish in the cat.4 race!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Boss Cross #2, Parkville, MO

On Saturday night, I wasn’t sure I’d make it down to English Landing Park the next day for BC #2, so I didn’t have expectations for this race- that seems to be a good mental state for me going into a race.

I arrived at the park on Sunday morning and saw the course strung out everywhere. Yes, I know that is the nature of a ‘cross course, but this one was really piled up on itself and I had to stand near the first double crossing for a couple of minutes before I figured out where everyone was coming from. Some of the dog-walkers and joggers in the park must have really been freaked. The tread was worn in from the race one day earlier and the soil was near perfect. There were two corners I consistently slid out but everywhere else it was full speed ahead. Jump, dive, and brake late were the orders of the day.

I had a great race. I slid into 5th position from the start and stayed with the 2-6 riders for most of the race. Mark Cole disappeared off the front early and it was obvious it’d be a race for 2nd. Two guys got a small gap on 3 of us after the rider just in front of me stumbled and we got held up. I spent almost two laps chasing down the 2-3 riders and had Rob Schultz go around me briefly. Then he started to fade and I went back around him and another rider and then zeroed in on 2 and 3. I caught them on the backside straightaway along the railroad tracks and they sat up as soon as they saw I was on. My instinct said, “Kill these guys now!” and so I launched and didn’t look back until I was riding through the finish with 2 laps to go and saw I had a 10 second gap. I held the gap on the last 2 laps and rolled across in 2nd. I never saw Mark.

Britton got 2nd in the SS race and that seems weird to me. Not weird like carrots-in-orange-jello, but weird like throwing a glowstick in an open flame. It’s bazaar but then delightful once you realize it’s possible.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Diamond Blackfan CX

photo: Jane Adams

Aaaahhhhh! FINALLY, cyclocross season begins!!! Now we need the weather to come around. It felt great to get out on the grass, gravel, sand, and... wooden bridges? Well, anything goes. Awesome course but I hated the cowtown barriers- but whoever placed those should be proud-brutal.

I got 3rd in the 3/4 race and Joe A. scored a podium spot in the Masters. Eric looked strongest of many teamates in the 4 race and landed in at 10. Man, that was a huge field! Cross is here to stay I guess.

I was so happy to see all my mates out to race. I was afraid that Colavita might fade into the shadows come cross season but that's just not gonna happen. I'm so fired up right now I don't know if I'll sleep.

Much love to all those yelling and making noise. At some races, your friends are lined up just right around the course so that every time you really need some help, they're there. Today was like that.

Quote of the Day:
"I'd puke but I don't have the energy."
-Steve V.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Piriformis is a pear-shaped muscle that runs from the bottom of your spine through the hole in your pelvis and out to your upper leg. Mine is bad. After enduring ,literally, a pain in my ass all summer, I finally went to my ortho today. From what I could decipher from the doc's analysis, I've got reduced power and mobility in my left leg b/c of it and further inflamation could start to cut off nerves causing more problems down my left leg. The piriformis doesn't actually relate directly to any cycling motion, which is why it's so frustrating. It's a muscle that controls lateral leg movement- which you shouldn't be doing if your stroke is true. Nonetheless, it's surounded by all my other ass muscles that I DO use for cycling and when it's not happy it causes all kinds of problems. I don't need any more problems. After years without illness or injury, I've been hit with both this year. I start PT on Monday. Hopefully "Chad" has warm hands.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Saturday, October 3, Kansas City

We'll meet at a yet-to-be announced location and carve a meandering trek towards the American Royal BBQ where we'll carve into some hunks of meat.

More details coming soon...

CONTEST: First person to respond here and name the album I've ripped off gets free beer at all stops before the BBQ!

Friday, August 21, 2009

I hate squirrels.

A mosquito is tiny. It has a tiny little spec of a brain; the size of a flake of dust. Yet it is infinitely smarter than a squirrel. I don’t understand it. A mosquito can smell your ripe blood up to 2 miles away and follow your scent for its meal. It can maneuver its body to avoid your swats. It can finagle its way through screen holes at night in order to get you while you’re sleeping- screen holes on screens that us big humans with our big human brains specifically designed to keep mosquitoes out.
A squirrel has a brain approximating the size of a walnut; shelled. Compared to a mosquito, the squirrel should be able to grasp quantum physics. No. The squirrel cannot grasp quantum physics. The squirrel cannot grasp the basic laws of physics. The squirrel doesn’t even possess a basic understanding of mortality.
Case in point: I was riding home last night and while descending the steepest, longest, fastest hill on my ride, I noticed a furry lump in the middle of the roadway near the bottom. It looked like a squirrel carcass and I assumed it had been hit by a car like so many squirrels before it. As my speed approached 40 mph and I approached the lump of fur, suddenly it sprang to life! The squirrel jumped to its feet and skittered across the roadway directly into my path; then stopped and spun and bounded in the opposite direction; stopped again, turned a 180, and raced for a short distance back in front of me... All the while, I am jerking and flinching and leaning left and right, desperately trying to avoid this crazed little maniac. I was in full aero tuck with my hands way out on the brake hoods (if you’ve ridden or seen mustache handlebars, you know there is no way to brake from this position).
Finally all the laws of physics made themselves known and our paths crossed. The little bugger was still spinning and skittering about when my front tire met him. Luckily (for both of us) I merely ran over his tail. At the moment I crossed over him, I remember thinking I wish I had wheels made of blades. But after it was over, I was just glad to have stayed upright. Immediately I grabbed the brakes so I could sit up and turn my head around in order to scold the stupid stupid stupid little creature. That’s when I noticed there was a car just behind me with passengers watching the whole ordeal.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

30 miles, 6 stops. No excuses.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No more Mr. Niceguy

Mr. Lindy is ready to dance.

Changes from last year:

IRD carbon cranks and D/A BB replaced SRAM cheapies
1cm shorter stem
No more cheater aeros
Replaced the 32h D/A/Open Pros with 28/24h White Ind/Sun Venus- my crit wheels
Also, trying out some Origin 8 bar wrap. It's really rubbery and sticky, and not very stretchy... La, la, laaaa..... It's cubic, prismatic, and pseudo-holographic! It's hypoallergenic made of corrugated plastic!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


For those who know RAGBRAI, I had the classic experience- enough said.

For those unfortunate na├»ve few who don’t know what RAGBRAI is, here’s your primer: RAGBRAI is an acronym for The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Every year, approximately 15,000 cyclists from all walks (rides) of life meet on the western side of the state along the Missouri River and take a weeklong jaunt across the state to the Mississippi River. Each of the 37 editions has been a different route but they always travel west to east with designated overnight stops along the way.

The folks who participate in RAGBRAI span the entire spectrum of lifestyle preferences- from family churchgoers, farmers, and factory workers to amatuer racers, triathaletes, and sports enthusiasts, to college students, partyers, drunks, and all-out hellraisers. I fall near the back end of that spectrum b/c those are the folks I’m most comfortable with, but I appricate the fact that RAGBRAI summons them all. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, or what you’re into- in July, in Iowa, we ride bikes.

This year, our team’s bus was out of commission, so the Crackanooners jumped on with Team Kamikaze and joined forces for the week. We couldn’t have hoped for better adopted teammates than the Kamis. They shared our same views as to when it’s time to drink (always) and when it’s time to get up and ride (late!). I want to thank Terrance and Skip for taking care of business so we could play all day. Also, Dirty Timmy deserves recognition for his endless entertainment. Tell us again about the kybo fleamarket, Timmy. And to all the rest of Team Kamikaze, I hope to see you again next year!

So it’s back to sobriety and normallity for me. After a week spent living in the sun and laughing with friends, it’s hard to be back in the cage. Alas, like most good things, it can’t last forever. But the memories always will.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tour of Lawrence

After racing the past two weekends, I’ve continued to feel better and better. I’m getting power back and now I’ll start working on getting the level of endurance back up with some more saddle time. RAGBRAI is coming up in a few days, which means a weeklong jaunt across Iowa on my SS in a semi-intoxicated state. On the one hand, it’s 400+ miles on the bike. On the other, the relaxed- sometimes downright slow- speeds and lack of nutritional management (read: beer-guzzling) keep me from considering this anything than vacation. It remains to be seen how it translates to my preparation for the next Tour of KC in August.

This weekend was the inaugural Tour of Lawrence composed of a crit and circuit race held on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The crit was a flat pinched 8 through downtown Lawrence with the Start/Finish on Mass. Street. I didn’t have high hopes for myself so I decided before the race to help our fast guys by working at the front and trying to cover attacks. As I suspected it would be, it was fast from the whistle. Initially, I was unable to move up in the pack and I loitered mid-pack for the first few laps. Eventually I found Thomas and as soon as I moved up next to him he asked if I’d seen the break go off the front. I hadn’t of course b/c I’d been sitting back in the pack picking my nose. But as soon as I heard a break had gone a bell went off in my head and I jumped to the outside to get to the front. I was on the front of the group as we crossed the line and I could see the break ahead so I continued on full throttle until I bridged up. I worked with the two other riders for just over a lap and then we got swallowed up. I was in some pain after that so I sat at the back for a few laps and then made my way back to the front where I saw several Bike Shacks assembled in formation. Just as I came up, three of them stretched off the front and got a small gap. I was sure they were going to try the same move that earned them 1-2-3 at Longview last weekend and that’s when I heard Bernie Mack say, “Oh hell no!” So I quickly jumped up and squeezed into their group and blew up their organization. That was cool. After that I drifted forward and back a few times and managed to stay out of the DFL slot while Stull was sprinting for the podium.

For Sunday’s circuit race, I’d set the goal of finishing in the top 5 and fully expected to at least hit the top 10, so I was disappointed to cross the finish in 15th. The race was 4.4 miles of bumpy terrain on the KU Campus with one signature steep pitch topping out to leave 500m of flat and wide roadway to the finish. The rest of the course was all up and down and I was digging it. Despite the short distance (22 miles), I figured this was my kind of race. I went well for the first two laps but at the beginning of lap three the crit-like pace got me and I couldn’t hold on to the lead group. My legs just stopped working and despite all my effort, I watched the pack go away, leaving me wheezing in around 25th position on course. I was bitterly frustrated at the scenario unfolding but I was determined to fight to the end. I settled into a rhythm and got control of myself. Eventually I picked up Stull and we rode together until we spotted Steve. I kicked it up to latch onto Steve’s wheel and, unfortunately, I’d lost Stull in the process. But then we picked up Chris Hudson and we worked together to churn out a respectable pace. Hudson is a beacon. He’s so steady and smooth and turns a good speed. We traded pulls for a lap and a half and I was really able to relax. With a half lap to go, I accelerated and went all out until the finish, reclaiming about a dozen positions in the process. I wasn’t happy with finishing 15th but it felt good to have the kick to finish it out. That’s been lacking lately and I’ve sorely missed it. When the mind wants to go faster than the body is able, it just plain sucks.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Breakthrough Tour of KC crit series

It was good to get back into some races this weekend. It felt good to be back in the pack. I finished 2 of 3 races and won a couple of primes in the process, so I can’t complain about the weekend as a whole although I am still quite frustrated with some health issues I’m dealing with.

Friday’s Longview crit was O.K. I won an “also-ran” $50 prime and then fell off the pace and finished in 19th. It was brain-boiling hot for our 5:45 start and I cooked myself attacking for the prime. Stull hung in there, cross-eyed as he was, and nabbed 6th. I was disappointed to find out Bike Shack took 1-2-3 on a break. Wow, that should never happen. I never saw them get away b/c I was near the back at the start and apparently they got away near the beginning. Shame on whoever was on the front and watched them ride away.

Saturday in Lee’s Summit was a bummer. It was raining and I love racing in rain so I was feeling kind of jacked up- maybe too jacked. We were all together as we finished lap 2 and a prime was announced. I shot off the front and got a big gap but coming around turn 3, my rear wheel slipped a little and I pulled my hamstring trying to hold everything together. I stayed upright but I had to sit down and try to work out my cramp. I kept looking back waiting for everyone to fly by me but it took forever and I nearly coasted across for the prime anyway. I was just barely pipped at the line, but by then I was more concerned with my leg. I tried to ride another lap and stretch it but it wasn’t working so I DNF’ed on lap 4.

Surprisingly, Sunday was a good day for me. I felt O.K. and hung in the lead group, won a beer prime, and finished with the pack. There was an officiating decision at the end where we went from 5 laps to go then to finish lap with no warning. I was catching my breath at the back of the pack at the time and couldn’t move up to do anything but luckily Stull was in a good position at the front and came away with 4th. Dave finished in front of me as well. I got around a few guys on the back side and on the finish stretch there was only one more rider I could possibly catch so I dug in and got him by a half bike length at the line. It felt great to finish off a race even though it was a sprint for 18th.
Congrats to Matt and Nate on a couple of 2nd place finishes. Remember Nate: Look for the car with the blinky lights.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Northland Ride

For those interested in joining me, I'll be riding up north on Sunday morning. We've got two choices: 45 mile hilly or an alternative that is shorter but with more intense hills. Either ride starts/finishes at Michaela's house- 8900 N. Polk Ave., KCMO, 64154. We'll decide tomorrow which to do.

Directions to Michaela's: Get yo azz north of the river via I-29 or 169 and turn onto 152. If you're on 29 you'll take 152 E, from 169 you'll want 152 W. Take 152 to Green Hills Rd. and turn north. Immediately after crossing over the highway turn left on 88th St. Then Right on Camden, Left on 88th Ter., Right on Polk.

We will average 17.834 mph

We ride at 10.

Call my cell if you want advice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Boo hoo

I just read through my last post and realized how whoa-is-me it sounded. Somebody kick me in the shin! In my defense, the unknown spawns despair. After yesterday’s ride, I know a lot more and hence, I feel a lot better. I rode at about 70-80% for an hour and felt just dandy at the end of the ride. I wanted to do a few more hills but stopped myself. I figured out where I’m stressing my leg. It’s on the first few pedal strokes after sitting down after a standing climb. I’ve always tried to go hard all the way over the top of climbs- perhaps I’ve gotten lazy in my geary ways and need to stand a few more revolutions before sitting back down. Perhaps I need to get back on the SS for my commute. Health is coming back too. It’s all systems go. Battle speed…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Down Time

Whether I needed a break from riding or not, I got one. I haven’t felt right since sometime around the Iowa races and my health got slowly and progressively worse after returning from that weekend. It started out with a general tired feeling and grew over the next few weeks into all-out fatigue. I’ve been getting slowly better for about a week now but for awhile I was literally coming home from work, eating and collapsing on the couch. I was sleeping 12-14 hours a night and still couldn’t muster energy to do anything during the day. Eventually, headaches were added to the equation and finally some restricted breathing- just for good measure, I suppose.

About 2 weeks ago, I stopped riding. My daily routine was: Work, eat, sleep, and that’s all. Aside from a weekend mtb ride, I’ve put in less than 100 miles since Iowa at the end of May. I tried to get in to see a doc here in Manhattan but there are no openings- not even my own doc of 14 years could see me! They told me that since I hadn’t been in for over 3 years, they dropped me from their patient list- wow. Whatever, I’m getting better now anyway. I figure whatever it was, I’ll be that much more immune to it next time.

That brings us to last Sunday, when the Kansas Age Group State Champs were going to be taking place in my backyard. The route would follow the same roads I ride nearly everyday. I still wasn’t feeling 100% but I figured I’d give it a go. Not having been on the bike in awhile, I thought it best to get out on Saturday and ride the course one time. It felt great to be moving the legs again and pulling air deep into my lungs. I had installed my new IRD carbon cranks and I was having fun feeling those out as well. The ride went well and I even turned in a pretty good time. But after I finished up and stepped off the bike, something that felt like a hydraulic vice grabbed me just under my left ass cheek. I knew what it was instantly and I knew what caused it. A pulled muscle- probably groin. And it was my own fault for riding too much, too hard, too soon. Ouch, that wasn’t going to help during tomorrow’s race. I went home and iced it and tried to stretch it but it was still extremely tight on Sunday morning so I didn’t race. I marshaled a corner instead. Something or someone did not want me in that race.

Sometimes it just be’s that way.

So, now I’m back to square one. I figure the only thing to do now is start from this point with the objective of getting back to top form around September. Hmmm, what happens on two wheels around here starting in September that I could possibly be interested in?

Tonight I’ll take a slow and easy ride and see how the leg feels. Same goes for tomorrow. This weekend I’ll try a longer ride and I’ll build up to where I can ride the ToKC for starters. Maybe show something in Lawrence. Then maybe expect a result for the August ToKC.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Snake Alley Crit and then some!

On Friday, the Team packed into my Suburban and Michaela shuttled us all over to eastern Iowa for a weekend of racing. We’d all be doing three races in three days- the legendary Snake Alley Crit bookended by the Wapello-Burlington RR and the Melon City Crit. It was the furthest from home we’d traveled for a race this year but it was a bargain considering all the racing we’d get in one trip.

There was no hiding my excitement for the Snake Alley Crit. With a steep technical climb and long and speedy downhill, this was going to be my kind of race! But first there was The Wapello-Burlington RR. I figured this short 33 mile point to point race would serve as a great warm-up for the Snake which would take place the next day. After we got a few miles into the race, I realized I was feeling good and so I decided to make a little noise at the front rather than just roll along in the pack. Actually, there was no ‘just rolling along’ in this race. It was high tension and sketchy from line to line. The only safe places were off the back or off the front. I considered both options and quickly started moving forward.

My time at the front was very active. I chased down an attack, then went with 3 other riders on a break that got reeled in, then went on a solo break. Nothing stuck and it was obvious this was going to be a sprint finish. Near the end I was still feeling relatively good despite the work I’d put in so I decided I’d try something on the last hill before the finishing straight. Unfortunately I was boxed in for almost the entire climb until just near the top where I was able to break free. I went over the top in first position and saw a wide open long straight downhill to the finish in front of me. With only a bikelength or two on the pack, I knew I was doomed. I’d just seen Matt, so I decided to ramp up the speed and stay on the front as long as possible in hopes that it would help him out. With about 600m or so to go a rush of bikes went past me and Matt was on the front. It was a longer-than-normal sprint and Matt crushed everyone for the win. I’ve received some compliments on my leadout in that race, but I have to say that it was all Matt. I’ll need to pedal a lot faster to truly help Matt out. I think the only thing I did was screw up the rhythm of some of the other short-distance sprinters. Congrats to “Packenwood” for the win and thank God the whole team survived that affair.

The next day was looking great for the Snake Alley Crit. Beautiful sunshine… right up until 10 minutes before the cat 4 one o’clock start. Suddenly there were gray clouds moving in and it started to sprinkle on our warm-up lap. I am a standing climber and I feared the wet bricks would ruin my weekend. But fortune smiled on us and the rain quit before the end of warm-up.

We lined up in order of our registration. That put me on the sixth row and I knew it would take a monster effort to get to the front. The Snake Alley gets in name from a steep brick alley comprised of 7 switchbacks over it’s 260 feet. The key is to shake yourself free so you don’t get stuck in the bottleneck at the base of this thing. We hit the Snake shortly after the start line and there was absolutely nowhere to move up. I trudged along with the crowd while grinding my teeth on thoughts of other faster riders getting away in front. Finally, we hit the top and went into the wide open downhill. I was able to kick over the top and immediately get around a handful of riders then pass more through the S-curves. On subsequent laps, I kept repeating this scenario until after 12 laps I finished in 11th place. I dug deep and never took a second off during this race, so I’m proud I was able to claw my way up through the pack, but at the same time, I can’t get too excited about finishing out of the top 10. That stings a little. Next year...
Finally on Sunday, we’d wrap things up with the Melon City Crit. This was the fastest crit I’d ever been in. The course is laid out on the avenues meandering through Weed Park in Muscatine and it was a beautiful venue. Despite the long straight downhill and the climb before the start/finish, it was still too flat for me. Nevertheless, I held my own and was having great fun riding in the pack until I was forced into the curb with just under 2 laps to go. I bobbled but I stayed upright. I clipped back in and set off all the alarms in my chase back to the pack. I finally caught the back just as we crossed the line on the bell lap. At that moment the speed ramped up and I couldn’t hold it. I fell off and rolled around the last lap with the moto on my tail. Eric S. looked great and finished near the front and Matt and Britton were both looking good for the cat 3 podium until a crash held up Britton and took Matt completely out. Still, it was great fun and the whole weekend is one for the books.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Auburn RR

Sunny and coolish warm with soft breezes- lovely day for a bike ride. Matt got in an early break with two Specs, so me, Stull, and Steve just hung out and watched Bike Shack chase. It was a good chase but I knew Matt and his new Specs friends were too strong to be caught. I was just hoping Matt wouldn’t get suckered by double attacks at the end. As it turned out, Matt whipped them both and took the win!

Joe got caught up in a crash midway through the first lap that happened just behind me. The rider on my wheel got (sounded like) a front puncture and went down and took a handful of guys with him. That’s the third race this spring that the rider just behind me has crashed and caused a pile-up. I must have a vault of karma. For anyone reading this, I guess the lesson is: You don’t want my wheel.

So, it was a day spent critiquing Bike Shack’s rotation and chatting with various riders. Eventually, the chase sputtered out and a few secondary break attempts started to go. Steve locked on the front and pulled the group most of the way back to the first one, then Eric and I got on the front and watched for others. Around 80-90K in, it became apparent that everyone was tired and any attack was pretty half-assed.

Things ramped up with about 10K to go but nothing stuck. I put in my own attack on a far-too-small riser with about 2K but I didn’t get anywhere either so I went again at the 1K mark and got a little space. But I was caught before the 200m line. A lot of riders assumed it was the finish and sat up but I kept going and got out in front again. But I was caught once again just before the finish and rolled across next to Stull in 7th.

We hit Blind Tiger at 37th and Topeka Blvd. afterwards. I highly recommend the Road Runner for post-ride refueling. Large chicken breast layered with brisket and covered in lots of cheese and pico with a side of beans and rice. Wash it down with one of their brews. I went with the maibock… then the pale ale… then the IPA…
photo credit: Philip Wilkerson

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wilson Lake MTB Trails

B-duh, B-duh… “Wiiil-sooooon”

With cancelled Arkansas plans, the GF stuck at work, and my work caught up, I found myself in the rare situation of having no obligations for the weekend. I said “No” to both the Joe Martin Stage Race and Syllamo and instead went to Wilson Lake. I’d heard about these trails many times but had never experienced them, so on Saturday morning I loaded up the MTB and a cooler of beer and headed west to bag me a Wilson.

I’m not a roadie- or so I used to say. Now I don’t know. What I do know is, my passion for biking comes first from mountain biking. But after 15 years of serious dirt lust, this spring I’ve thrown that aside in lieu of truly discovering the road in the form of racing for TCPC. Make no mistake, I’m hooked on road racing. But still my soul lives in the dirt and the longer I go without it, the emptier I feel. So, this weekend I popped open the tank and filled up on some dirt-loving good fun and came home feeling fresh, strong, and bright.

There are 15 miles of trails at Wilson split between three major loops with many cut-offs and bail-outs throughout the system. The trails are unique in that there really is no tree cover or vegetation to hinder your view. So, at any hilltop, you can see the trails strung out in all directions winding all over adjacent hillsides. If I had to describe the trails with one word, it would be “switchbacks”. Describing a jeep road in Colorado, C.W. McCall writes in a song that “it looked like a bunch of Z’s and W’s all strung together”-similarly, the trails at Wilson are a bunch of S’s and C’s all strung together. As far as I know I was the only rider on the trail on Saturday. Had there been others, we could have high-fived each other while riding on opposing sections of trail- that’s how much they fold back on themselves! That coupled with the fact that you can literally see miles of trail at a time makes for a strange experience.

It took me a few miles to catch the rhythm of the trail but once I did it was all smiles. It’s definitely not a place to test your top speed. There are way too many tight corners for that. Instead you want to push your speed to the brink of washing out and then stay just inside of that with kicks of the pedals coming out of each corner. There are a few sandy and rocky climbs but nothing of any serious length and, surprisingly, there are some fast and somewhat lengthy downhills. I especially enjoyed the slalom course through the limestone fence posts.

Incidentally, Wilson Lake is known as “The Clearest Lake in Kansas” and the lake, the rock formations, wildflowers, collared lizards scurrying about, and other wildlife make for a beautiful day of riding. Outdoor flushing toilets and showers with warm water made a great day grand. I can’t explain the tranquility and inspiration that comes from doing your business while starring up at blue skies and puffy white clouds.

“I must inquire Wilson, are you still having fun?!”

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


After an extended winter break, I'm finally getting back to a regular commuting routine. It feels oh-so-good to be riding to and from work again. With all the racing action and my travels this spring I haven't been able to settle into a routine. I've only been ride-commuting once a week and sometimes not at all. But over the last few weeks I've been riding 2-3 times a week and I can feel that 4-5 days a week is just around the corner- Woohoo!

I live in a remote area north of Manhattan on the shores of Tuttle Creek Lake, so for the first 6 miles I traverse some pretty rough gravel roads just getting to civilization. Then it's 6 more miles of smooth winding hilly blacktop as I make my way away from the lake and out to a state highway. Once I jump on the ample Highway 13 shoulder, it's 8 miles into town and another 2 through town to work. I usually complete the 22 mile trip with a stop at Radina's Bistro for a fresh scone before heading to work for a shower and change. Then I've got all day to look forward to the ride home!

Home is 300 feet higher than work and I pass over 3 large hills each between 1/2 mile and 3/4 mile long with pitches between 6 and 10 percent. Then halfway through the gravel sector I have my favorite little darling- a 80 meter 20% kicker that has ever changing conditions between loose powdered gravel, mud, washboard, and hardpan. Then it's 3 miles across open range where I sometimes have to give a couple "yeehaws" to clear the cattle off the road. What fun.

I am truly blessed. It's a battle sometimes just getting on the bike at 6am but it's ALWAYS worth it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I hate birds.

It's not bad enough that the whipoorwills keep me awake all night with their incessant car alarm-like bleating. Or that the crows make sure I NEVER sleep in past sunrise. This morning on my ride into town I took a lark to the face.

It's burn season in the Kansas Flint Hills and that means the air is swamped with a smokey haze. Not so good for the lungs, but it makes for the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets. This morning I was JRA enjoying the bliss of a brisk morning ride under a beautiful multi-colored sky when... WHACK! --poof of feathers, then a limp body lodged in the crook of my shoulder. I brushed it off while continuing on but it left a nice little scratch along my cheek bone and my eye is a little puffy. Hope that little ____er didn't give me avian flu.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tour of Hermann - All up and down

The rolling hills along the Missouri River with German vineyards occupying the steep-sloped hillsides makes a great backdrop for racing. Throw in cool temperatures and some overnight rainfall with sprinkles during the day and it was perfect!

Stage 1: Individual Time Trial, Saturday morning

10 miles of flat and straight out and back. I had calculated the time I wanted to achieve, based on last year’s results, at 24 minutes flat. I thought I could hit this number without digging into reserves that I’d need for the upcoming crit and road race and still get a pretty good result. That plan worked well except I came up 37 seconds short of my goal and the overall times were slightly faster this year- that was enough to push me waaay down the standings. I finished just outside of the points. I was disappointed with that but still felt good b/c I knew I’d saved a lot for the other races.

Stage 2: Criterium, Saturday afternoon

Wow. Wow. Wow. What a course. 1.2 miles of all up and down. The start/finish was located at the gates of the Stone Hill Winery situated atop one of many hills surrounding Hermann. The climb up to Stone Hill is short at just over 200 meters, but it’s 8% pitch (my best guess) was enough to separate out the true contenders. Once across the line, the road levels out along a ridgeline until the course turned 90 degrees and dumped us straight back into town at 45+ mph. Then, a couple of hard and fast corners brought us right back to the base of the Stone Hill climb. Awesome.

I got 2nd on the prime lap and crossed the finish in 5th. At three laps to go, two riders got away from us and were able to stay and finished 30 seconds ahead. So on the final climb, it would be a sprint for 3rd. I was with a group of 6 riders ahead of the rest of the field as we hit the base of the climb. When I jumped up to start the climb, I skipped my wheel. Immediately, I was at the back. But I was able to regain my momentum quickly and came around 3 riders. I gave it everything and was closing on the 4th placed rider but I blew out just before the line and settled into 5th. What a beautiful painful ride!

Stage 3: Road Race, Sunday morning

I wasn’t sure how my legs would race on Sunday morning after the TT and crit on Saturday but during our neutral roll threw town, I was enthused to be feeling pretty good. The parade ended at the edge of town where we hit the first of a series of relentless climbs. There was not a single stretch of flat road for the first 15 miles and this first climb just happened to be the biggest of them all. At the front, riders bolted and poured it on and the entire field of 50+ riders was immediately strung out. I hung on to the top 10 over the top and was feeling blown out but after a few more climbs I started to feel better and actually started to work with a few other riders to pull back a break of 5 that was getting up the road. All was good in the legs and the mind, but on each successive climb, my left cleat was slowly unscrewing itself until finally at around the 7th climb my foot began ejecting itself and I was unable to get clipped back in. I was on the front of the chase, so I pulled off and waved the others through. I continued to ride, soft pedaling with my left leg but I could tell that wouldn’t last long. I began begging for a screwdriver and when nobody had anything to offer, I stopped and waited for the wheel car, praying they had tools onboard. Unfortunately, after searching the truck for a few minutes, no luck. So, I threw my bike on and climbed into the back seat with a broken heart.

Looking back, I could’ve finished the ride but at the time I had tunnel vision of finishing at the front and watching the back of the 4’s filter past while sidelined at the wheel car just made me give up. Even with that bit of bad luck though, it’s my favorite race ever. So beautiful, so so hilly, and so much fun.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Final Spring Fling crit

I felt lazy and unmotivated this weekend- not a good way to be going into a crit. I thought maybe I’d feel better once the race started but as each lap passed I just kept counting down to when it’d be over. It wasn’t as though I was struggling- I lead the group during several laps- but I just couldn’t shake the ‘care less’ attitude from my mind. Frustrated, I resigned myself to doing what I could to help Matt b/c he was looking his usual powerful self. I tried to pull for him and tried to give him some relief on the front and finally tried to spring him on the last lap, but the timing was so odd that I’m not sure I wasn’t just getting in his way. Brad didn’t seem to be enjoying his day too much either and we rolled across the line together near the back. Crits are something I haven’t decided if I love or hate yet and it’s looking like it might take awhile to figure out.

Looking ahead, I’ve got the Tour of Hermann this weekend and I’m VERY motivated for it. Like many of the races so far this spring it’ll be an unknown and a learning experience. It’ll be my first time trial as well as my first stage race and I haven’t any idea how I’ll fair in that situation. This year, there have been a couple of races where I felt I finished lower than I should have b/c I was too reserved. In Hermann, I plan to be more aggressive. It looks like the final 600m is pretty technical with 3 90-degree corners before the final sprint to the line. I’ll be doing everything I can to get to the front before that mess.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Joseph Sheehan RR, Leavenworth, KS

What a wonderful race… if you like riding in wind, cold, rain, sleet, and snow!

Before I talk about the race though, let me say CONGRATULATIONS TO NATE AND KAREN SCHOTANUS who were wed on Saturday. It was a wonderful wedding and a great reception (despite my MC’ing). I was honored to take part.

After a beautiful sunny spring day pondering love and celebrating nuptials, Sunday’s cold dark morning came hard and early. Actually, at 7am, it was as warm as it was going to be all day. The race started at 8:50am. The rain started at 8:40am. And the temps started dropping before that. I changed three times before the start and finally settled on fleece knicks with three layers on top- wool/longsleeve jersey/rain jacket. Incidentally, the rain jacket I just got from Volker the day before saved my day.

Wind was the order of the day, with rain- then driving sleet- and finally snow, mixed in. Brad W. and I briefly discussed strategy before the start and settled on: “Just Survive”. Unfortunately, Brad dropped a chain midrace and couldn’t get his fingers to work well enough to get it back on. Ask anyone in this race and they’ll tell you they had no feeling in their hands after about 20 minutes of racing.

It was a battle through the head and cross winds all the way out to Atchison. Then we turned around and had the wind behind us on our way back. As soon as we turned with the wind, two 360’s jumped on the front and started shoveling coal. Chris from Renaissance and a couple of SKC’s latched onto them and I got on their wheel. For the next several miles it was a matter of hanging on. Anyone still in the race was strung out in a line. I looked at my computer at one point while cranking hard to keep up on a flat section and it read 58kph.

Finally after 10 miles they let off the gas and nobody else wanted to take control. Then just after I saw the 10K sign, Chris started surging off the front and forcing everyone to chase him. At this point I was getting pretty deep and wondering if I’d last to the finish. Things were turning white in my periphery and it wasn’t snowing anymore.

Then, in a dreamy haze, I saw the 150m sign. At first I just kept cranking up the hill with everyone else while my frozen brain slowly processed it. Then it hit me: 150 METERS!!! I jumped up and lowered my head. I got around 4 riders but was unable to get up to a SKC and Bike Shack rider still in front of me.3rd place. My first cash payout. I actually left for home 10 bucks richer! As I write this, I am still warming up…

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Colorado rap

The rotton, no-good, stupid snow ruined most of my biking plans but Michaela and I got out on Saturday in Ft. Collins and rode a lap around the city on their most excellent bike path network. Within 24 hours of getting hit with over a foot of snow, the bike paths were cleared, swept, and dry. In fact, the bike paths were in better shape than the roadways. Give it up for the FC! It was still cold and very windy, but a ride's a ride, right?

Did the requisite brewery tours too and drank lots of local brew.

Scoped out a great ride on the way back out of the mountains as we were driving home. I'll be riding the Central City-Nederland-Estes route wence I return.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rocky Mountain Low

Whaaa Whaa Whaa Whaaaaa...

30+ mph winds and heavy snow. White-out conditions. Starring out the window of my hotel room feeling like the kids in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. I wish that cat would come around right now.

Guess I'll open a beer and get on the trainer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

I’m headed to colorful Colorado tomorrow for some high-intensity altitude training. Not really, but I do hope to get a couple of nice rides in. I’ll be based in Golden, so if anyone has any route suggestions, please let me know.

I’ve never ridden a bike above 6800 feet- previously I rode up to the base of Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota- so I’m a little nervous as to how I’ll react to the thin air. I usually puke right at 9981 ft., so it should be interesting.

Over the weekend, Michaela and I will be hanging around Fort Collins. Mostly b/c there’s lots of good beer there, but we’ll be on the lookout for some good rides in that area too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Double up at the Dam

The the 3rd and final Dam Race was this weekend and I finished out my Cat 5 "career" in brilliant form bringing home another victory. That gives me the series crown for the race.

With the C.5 series captured for Colavita/Parisi, I was looking ahead to the 4 and 3 races where Brad W. and Britton K. were in contention. I was feeling O.K. after a little rest and a frosty carb-loaded beverage, so I convinced the USCF rep to cat me up on the spot so I could help Brad out. I figured I'd do what I could as long as my legs held up and then fall off the back if that's what it came to. As it turns out, I felt great and stayed at the front with Matt and John for nearly the whole race. There was never a moment when Colavita/Parisi was not leading this race except for the short-lived 2-rider strong Velotek attack, which I swiftly chased down.

Matt put in the big turns initially and John and I helped him as much as we could in the final couple of laps. At one point all three of us were on the front ala Damage Inc. On the final lap Matt got out the big stick and I think he and Brad rode off half the field before we even got to the hill! I stayed close but I didn't have anything left in the legs after 11 trips up the hill and I had to watch several riders go around me. I got a few places back near the top but just missed out on top ten, landing on 11.

Still, a Cat 5 1st and a Cat 4 11th in back-to-back races isn't a bad days work I suppose.

Congrats to Britton on earning the Cat 3 crown and to Brad who earned the Cat 4 crown even though he wasn't awarded it. And to Jane for another 1st Place and the series win for the Women. Team Colavita/Parisi Coffee definately put our stamp on the Dam.
Photo credit: ROGER

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dam Race 2: Victory for Colavita/Parisi!

The 2nd of the 3 Dam Road Races went well for me. Not only did I collect a win for Team Colavita/Parisi Coffee, but I also got the maximum bonus points for topping the hill first on the first lap. So, with Matt not finishing the series in Cat 5, that puts me in the driver’s seat for the overall series win. I’d like to see Matt race one last time in C.5, but I feel like I helped convince him to cat up on Sunday so he could get into a race (he missed the C.5 start time) and now I don’t feel like I should talk him into coming back to 5’s. The guy is where he belongs anyway, and I’ll join him after this weekend. That’s going to bolster our team’s C.4 squad but it’s going to leave a hole in the C.5. Hopefully Joe, Steve, and Eric will take the reigns- more about Eric in a second…

The race started quite mellow and we were all rolling across the dam starting to get warmed up when I heard a yelp and then the chilling sounds of bike and body hitting the ground. Luckily it happened two bikes behind me and only one rider went down. The group slowed a bit for a minute or so and then we were on our way again. I did a great job of staying near the front without putting my nose in the wind for the entire first lap until we got to the hill. With points up for grabs, I moved to the front and set a high pace while remaining comfortable. It was enough to thin the front down to about a half dozen riders. Halfway up the climb, just past Roger’s little carnival, a couple riders moved around me. I got on their wheel and followed them just long enough to collect myself and then I launched around their right side. Nobody reacted soon enough to stay with me and I was able to sit back down and motor acorss the line in first.

Except for another crash on lap 2 or 3, which I heard about later, the middle part of the race was mostly uneventful.

Coming up to the final climb, I was in about 8th wheel. I thought I was in a good spot coming around the corner heading into the climb but somehow I got boxed in with three riders side-by-side in front of me and a couple more on my left. I knew the Bike Shack and Monster/CRRT riders directly in front of me were the riders to watch so I stayed pinned directly behind them and didn’t panic. We rode most of the climb in this way and I started to get nervous when I saw the brown park sign. Just then, the Bike Shack rider verred to the right just enough to make room for me to squeeze between him and the Monster/CRRT. I powered between them and as soon as my bars were clear of theirs, I stood up and went for it. They followed me but I rode away for the victory!

As good as the victory felt, I got even more amped up watching Eric Stull sprint for 3rd in the B race. He and another rider threw down coming up the final climb and Eric came out on top. Eric had initially surged ahead but the other rider came back and nosed in front of him. I was screaming at Eric as they approached the line and somehow he found just enough something from somewhere to get back in front. It was awesome!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Me new race bikey

I know- It’s not the bike, it’s the rider. Still, it’s a lot more fun to talk about the horse than the jockey. The bike is a bit eclectic. Yes, those are brand new Zipp 303s and yes, that is a very inexpensive steel frame. But inexpensive doesn’t equate to cheap, at least not in this case. Main tubes on the Smoothie are heat-treated and butted Tange Prestige and the stays are butted CrMo. The welds are good and everything is straight. Soma calls the color Pearl White but it’s more sparkly than pearly- think ‘pixilated pearl’. Regardless, it’s a beautiful color and I dig the subtle gray lettering that is clear-coated over.

I’m most impressed with the IRD Pegasus carbon fork. It’s the all-carbon flagship offering from IRD and the dimensions are exactly what Soma specs for the Smoothie frame. The frame and fork work together wonderfully with nary a hint of schizophrenia between the two.

So what’s with those Zipps? You’re wondering why a guy who can’t afford a nice hi-tech carbon frame can afford a pair of high-end carbon hoops. The fact is, I can’t afford either. I paid $5 for those wheels. Yes, FIVE BUCKS! I won them in the raffle drawing at the 2007 CX Nats in KC. Someone else walked away with a brand new SRAM Red group, which I would’ve preferred, but I’m not complaining.

The rest of the parts are stuff I had in boxes or hung on other bikes that I’m not using at the moment. It’s mostly 1999/2000 Dura Ace with the exception of the brake calipers which are circa 1987 105 single-pivots and those are getting replaced with new dual-pivots soon.

Overall I’m loving the ride. I’ve only logged about 300 miles on it but from the very first ride I noticed it’s quite forgettable. I mean that as a compliment. It’s an overused expression, but this bike really does disappear underneath me. I’ve found that I rarely think about the bike when I’m riding it. My only complaint is that it’s a bit more on the slow side of neutral than I prefer. I notice that, at high speeds, if I want to make an adjustment to my line, I’ve got to think about moving the bike rather than it just being instinctual. That equates to me having to lean a little more than I’m used to but that’s a slight modification to my riding style I can deal with. Besides everything works together beautifully and I can't complain about a 18.5 pound steel race bike for less than a grand.

A final word on why I chose a steel frame. 1) I love steel. I’m not a luddite, but it’s difficult to argue against the inherent ride quality steel provides- especially for a rider/racer of my caliber. Why do you think most of the carbon frame reviews you read all make comparisons as to how well it matches up to the steel counterpart? 2) Soma is a cool company and they make cool stuff. And 3) It was cheap… and available. Sometimes that’s what you go with and you get lucky. And I did. Wait, are we still talking about my bike here, or my girlfriend?

Special thanks goes to Britton at Volker Bicycles for hooking me up!

See you at the next race.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dam Race

The first road race of the season is in the books. Cat 5s started at 10:30- waaay too early. That is reason enough to work hard to cat up. It was cold and windy but at least it was from the west and that pushed us across the dam. KU Matt was off the front right away and we left him out there for the better part of the first lap until I put in a small attack just before the first hill climb and got out in front. KU Matt came back to me and passed me before the line and collected the full mountain goat points. I got 2 points for getting second.

The second lap was more of following Matt but on the third lap, I led the front group across the dam and back down below. I found myself in front at the beginning of the last climb to the finish but KU Matt and a CRRT rider went around me and I finished in 3rd.

I was a little dissapointed b/c I felt I hadn't given it full effort at the finish but it's all a learning process at this point.