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!