Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wendy Park - BA CX #1 2008

Super nice course this weekend at Wendy park on Whiskey Island in downtown CleveO. Team Lake Effect did a great job of setting up just about everything... off camber, twisty turns, sand crossings, and some barriers. I have to say this course was comparable to the Michigan course I did last year.

Gravel road start into some grassy bits, with a 100* off camber turn. Up the hill with a sharp 180, then head back down a sweeping hill to a 90* onto more gravel. Transition from gravel to grass with a hop onto the paved bridge straight out to the lighthouse., around the flag pole, and back to the main land. First dismount over a 12" curb, back on for the climb up to the main level. Another 180* off camber, then twist around some nice bermed descending turns through some twisty bits, including a wide wooded section. The first 12 foot sand section, then along the lake to the beach, which included a nice right/left chicane to force most of the guys off their bikes before heading straight back to grass. Some more 180's, the barriers were three railroad ties that were hop-able, but I was faster running it. Then a few more folds before heading back to the start finish.

I decided to run the Michelin Mud Sprints since the course was hard pack, and there was lots of gravel. I ran them a bit soft at 40psi... I wanted enough to avoid the Cap City flat problem I had with the full on Muds at my last race, but I wanted the grabbiness for the two off-camber section.

Nice weather brings out everyone... A fantastic turnout with about 120 racers over the day. There were 22 A's and 21 Master's, which is huge for our area, so they staggered the start. I got a nice front row position next to the LE guys, and that was probably the last "right" thing I did.

At the start, I'm slotted in behind Rudy, Jeff, Bill and Derrick from Lake Effect. By the first turn, an RGF guy comes by me trying to find a spot, I fight past him heading into the drop and off camber. Everyone takes it a bit slow, but accelerates out of it quickly. Then Brett Davis from Solon and Phil Hines come by me. I should have latched onto them like a pit bull, but I don't think I was really "racing" yet... I'm a head case for sure.

At the pavement I get a nice gap on the guys behind me, but I loose time picking the wrong gear before the dismount, so I bog down on the hill climb. Plus dismounting on pavement is really weird... they layed down some carpet, but I was still really slow. On the climb, I end up fighting the RGF again, before the twisty bits. And somehow he's in front of me heading into the sand. How I ended up in 10th place before the beach is beyond me... but the guy totally eats it in the sand and that opens a HUGE gap to the front 6 or so. I end up dismounting and running getting around a few. That's the last run I do through the beach until the last lap.

So, three quarters of a lap in, and I'm playing catch up. 4 lake effect, Brett and Phil, the Brad Beeson from Spin, and me. I guess once I was out of traffic I was fine. So, I go in hunt of picking up places.

It takes me about another two laps to catch Brad, which I do at the hill climb after the pavement... he's slowed down dramatically... I try to give a little encouragement as I remount to pass him... but I screw the remount and he gets another gap on me. Back to work... I catch him again, and by then Derrick had come back to him. I'm sitting on their wheels as we hit the pavement, and I contemplate the strategy.... I decided to drill it into the wind... and I leave Brad behind. But Derrick is on my wheel... for a second.... before he realizes he's flat.

I carry the gap to the hill, but Brad closes it again. Through the sand, I start to open it and go in search of Bill, Brett and Phil who are about 200-500 meters ahead.

I have to say, the most incredible thing I saw was Greg Jackson (Spin) hopping the curb leading to the hill. That would probably have saved me about 15-20 seconds per lap... to be able to NOT dismount on the carpet taped to pavement, and be able to carry momentum into that hill would have been huge. He wasn't the only one to do it, but I'll bet he was the fastest at it. I need to grab some skills...

I end up screwing up all kinds of technical stuff because I'm looking at where other guys are instead of concentrating on the course... which costs me even more time. With three laps to go, I see Bill in the pits.... and I get the feeling he is done. So now I'm in fifth in the Master's.

With 2 to go, Brett is slowly coming back. I still feel pretty good, so I try to pick it up and bring him in. With one to go, I'm happy to have a good distance behind me to Paul Martin... so I know I won't get lapped. Now I just need to catch Brett.... I do the hop onto the pavement, and hit the rear hard. Uh-oh...come on, I have a half a lap to go, just hold on... but it's not to be. It's totally flat in 100m.

I ended up walking/riding the flat to the pit, then grabbing my spare bike to finish the lap. Everyone still on the course passed me while I was carrying the bike, and it was pointless to actually race after that, so I ended up being the last guy on the course! At least I got the most time on the CX bike...so I got my money's worth.

I guess I need a bit more pressure to avoid the flats... that and a bit more care on riding clean. Not that I was the only one. The Marut's had 5 flats between the two of them... and there were many others. At least mine only cost me a tub... Sawn Adams flatted two Challenge Grifos.

I've got some serious head work to do before next weekend... and before I go to do the Cinci triple weekend. This ain't no ride in the park we're talking about... it's cyclocross season. Get your head in the game!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What difference a bike makes.

So.... I was trying to explain the difference between the Steelman and the Surly CX bike to my son over the weekend. A tough prospect considering he has nothing to compare it to.

There are a few stories to go with this... like when an aunt asks my wife if artists pencils really should be that expensive, and what makes them different than the old No. 2.

Anyway, last night doing the 21min workout at Area 51, I can now quantify the difference the bike makes. I rode the Surly on the same workout I've done previously on the Steelman.

Same start as the previous 3 times... I felt great. The only difference was the tire and bike selection. Coming up on time, I noticed I was behind where I was last week... well behind. At the interval end, I'm guessing it's almost 1K difference over 21minutes. It's got to be close to a minute of effort.... all because of bike and wheel/tire selection. Too bad I didn't run the same wheels as before also.

I'll be glad to get back on the Steelman now... just so I don't take it for granted anymore.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cap City #1 Pics!

My son took shots on Saturday... I've posted them for fun. It's his first assignment as the team photog... since none of the others showed up.

Infirmary Mound Photos

Notice a bias in the shots? Seems to be a lot of orange and blue.... I know it was easy to catch shots of me since I was alone for all but 2 minutes... still, he did a pretty nice job. Now to learn about digital zoom.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Cap City #1.

It's the first big cyclocross race of the season. Spin had some issues with the Wednesday night series... and it was canceled. So that threw a new wrench in the training plans. This was the girls weekend in Columbus, so my son and I got to go to the Columbus Cap City race. He was the team photographer for the day, and I get to race. Here's how it went:

Thurs Night: Mounted the Michelin muds on the Ksyrium elites for race day. Figured I'd take three wheel sets. Muds, Grifo Challenge Tubies, and Ritchey Speedmax.

Fri: Front mud is flat. Can only fit 2 wheel sets... 3 wheels actually. Spare rear for trainer, and one spare set in the vehicle, one set on the bike. Leave the speedmax behind.

Get to hotel and pump up the tubies to take the bike to the room. I ended up doing about 15min on the spin bike, while trying to make this trip at least some fun for my son... who only gets to hang with dad over the two days while everyone else gets to have the planned fun.

Sat: Front tub is totally flat. Find a shop to see if I can pick up some latex to plug the leak. No luck, though the wrench does find the thorn that causes the flat, we decide to leave it in for now.

Get to the venue with an hour to spare. The front tub is totally flat. Looks like I only have a spare rear today. Replace the front tube in the muds so I can race.

Do the uphill half the course warm up before the B race starts, still have to see the single track part. It's relentless course with lots of grass climbs, and some single track. It's all up and then all down with some nice loops and a double entry pit. Sit on the trainer for a bit of warm up then hop on the course (still during the race) to see the rest of the course.

I'm getting into the barriers real nice and smooth, but my remount is pretty hard. I've got to get that dialed a bit more. It seems that I'm jumping to high, and moving to much side to side... so the rear wheel kind of scrunches and scrubs on landing.

Besides the course profile (see the HRM data), features include a single barrier at the bottom of 20m climb to the line. Most people are running this. Another steep 30m run up out of the single track. I guess it's ridable if you have the gear and a clear shot at it. I didn't have the gear. A double barrier after a gravel climb, near the other pit entry. A set of 3 nice off camber up and downs that were real fun when the approach was right... the last was tough to maintain momentum on. Then a down hill sweeping turn that directed you very close to a picnic table (that would be fixed to the ground, steel picnic table) right before the single barrier start finish.

23 A racers including MANY super fast guys. Before I lined up I was thinking top 10.... At the line, I'm second row behind Sean Adams. Bad, BAD choice. At the whistle... we're 10-15 back before he's clipped in. Then I realize this is a DOWNHILL start.... straight to the single track. The organizers could have done so much better starting us on the other side of the pit heading up hill.... jockey for position, I'm on the right side of the field as we go across 2 drainage pipe crossings, the pipes packed in gravel which is not buried. I unweight the rear as we cross the first one, but by the time I enter the single track I know I've got a flat. less than 500m into the race... and I'm flat.

If this was the front, I'd have gone home right then. With the rear, I continue to ride the single track, telling everyone to just get by me... I'm flat. At the run up exit to the single track, I'm the last guy in the field. I try to ride the flat on the grass a bit... but this is a clincher. So I pick the bike up and start running/walking. Then all the ladies (they started a minute back) pass me. I do my best to stay out of the way.

I'm behind everyone. Some guy says "shouldn't you be riding the bike". Thanks for the encouragement. Do a sloppy rear tire change... I do shift the gear into the twelve to get the wheel in and out well, but I neglect to reshift it up... so when I remount on a hill I'm grinding way to big a gear, loosing even more time. As I'm coming out of the pit, the leaders are now a half lap ahead of me... oh look! I never started my HRM.

I try to now just catch as many as I can. One women, a few more, then one guy. Then I get lapped with 5 to go.... out of 9 (I did 8). That totally killed my motivation. It's been a 2 minute race, and now I'm doing a 60+ minute training ride.

Women are doing 45 minutes. I catch all but 2, which I may have been able to catch as well as maybe one or two more guys... if I could have gotten myself motivated to push through everything. Once I wasn't in last place, I just did a hard $20 workout. I was lapped by maybe 10 guys...

HRM data shows the profile... though I started the timer shortly after the place I thought the race should have started. I also missed the start and all my running data. Green lines are elevation, blue are speed, red are the heart rate.

Not the way I wanted to start my cross season. Things I did right are much smaller than the things that I did wrong. Though outside factors also were a part, a big part was my response to them. Seems like DRAMA is my story this year... maybe it's me.

Ask me about the rest of this story sometime. I've only written the low drama part so far...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Euphoria Cross #1 9/3/08

It's HERE!!!!!! It's cross season now. No more road racing (not entirely by choice), time to get into the real season.

This is going to be a busy year. Mostly because Spin Bike Shop is sponsoring an 8 race Euphoria Cyclocross Series Wednesday nights near the airport. It's also sponsored by Euphoria Fitness (no link that I can find yet), as they own the land (strict series only use was announced).

View Larger Map

The course is on all those trails you see that are not streets, with a long paved section along Emerald Parkway to connect it all. Lot's of sandy gravel mix, with some nice terrain, and a bit of single track. Just enough roots to make it interesting, though there were flats.

I arrived late, since I didn't have a nice map like the one I included.... so I had enough time to ride a small section.. enough to know that 30-35 psi in my tubies was not going to work in this race. So I went to the van and pumped up some more, got a little more of the course in view, and was the last one to line up. I don't know the exact count, but I'd guess there were close to 50 in the A and B race. The A race had about 30 with some pretty fast boys turning up. Ernesto, Brent Evans, Matt Weeks... a bunch of the spin guys.

I felt guilty getting to the line last, and going straight to the front of the field... so I started near the back. Some announcements, and we're off pretty close to the 6:15 start time. Got to get it off on time in order to finish in the light. 9 laps for the As and 6 for the Bs.

We get about 100m to the gravel stuff and a gap opens up almost immediately with about 10-12 guys riding away from my group before the first set of barriers. The lead guys dismount almost stacks him into the first board, he's going way faster than he can run... but he does manage to stay upright. I think I better get past these guys and see what I can do to get to the next set. It's all training especially with a bad start position.

It takes most of the lap to get to the front, and since I haven't seen the whole course yet, I screw up the winding trees before the pavement. It slows me down, and the guy that almost stacked it gives a bit of a shout about my cutting the course. I assure him I'll get it right from now on. I hit the pavement, and drill it to open the gap... I'm away. So begins the solitary part of the race.

For the remainder of the race, I'm trying to figure out lines get used to my tires and how they drift, and get the barriers clean. The group settles in pretty quickly with Ernesto off the front. Matt, Brent and a couple others in chase. Zak, Greg and Brad from Spin are spread out behind them. Then there are 2 Spin multisport team guys and Gary working behind me. I may be missing some places.... but that was the race I saw.

I was doing fine for the first 20 minutes. Brent flatted, and went off course for a bike change. He managed that and still stayed in front of me. But he gave me another target to follow up front. Especially when he flatted the second time, and I was able to pass him making a wheel change.

At about 20min one of the multi guys caught me. It's probably the longest I've had my heart rate that high since last cross season. So I figured it was time to start conserving a little, but keep him close. I managed to bring the guy back on the smooth stuff, but he was opening on me a little in the woods. I had him on the single barrier, but dropped my chain and had to manually replace it... letting Gary get me also.

I followed Gary around for about a lap, when he slid out on a corner.... I heard his fall, and backed off so I wouldn't run him over. Then I encouraged him to stay with me as I came by. It didn't really work as he went down pretty hard, and had to do a little bike work along the way. On toward the next guy again. I just tried to keep it going, the guy was coming back slowly. With three to go, I figured I had plenty of time. I closed and came around him as we headed into the single track. That was the last I saw of him... I think he flatted shortly after I went by him.

With 2 to go, I started looking at who was next up the road. Greg, then Brad. I don't know if Greg saw me until we got to the pavement with nearly one to go. He was close enough. I just need to ride hard and clean and I thought I could get him. He probably was thinking the same thing... "if I'm not careful, John will catch me".

With one to go, I was getting the feel for the course. I was feeling confident and hoped I could use it to my advantage now. I didn't see Greg, but knew he couldn't be that far ahead. Then through the woods, I tried a different line... and slid my back tire out at the same place Gary went down. ARGHH! I got back up fast enough, but my knee took a but of a scrape. Now I was sure Greg was gone. Not much race left to go, just get moving again. As I hit the twisty trees, I could see Greg had 200m or more, but Gary was also gaining with the other Multi Spin guy. No great worry, I just punched it on the pavement to maintain my place.

It was cool to see Gary sprinting it out with the Multi Spin... I still don't know who took that. I figure I was somewhere around 10th. Matt won after Ernesto flatted while WELL off the front. Good thing for me cause he probably would have been close to lapping me. Matt's group was at least a half lap ahead of me if not more.

Rick and Tim also raced As, way to man up there. I'm just hoping I wasn't the guy that cause Rick's start troubles. Dan, Sadie and Anna did the B race, and MattO took pics... cause he doesn't think he can race a mountain bike in cross... we tried to convince him that he's wrong. I'm hoping I didn't forget anyone.

Overall it was a great turn out for a fun race. I'd probably like the course more if it was wet. The gravel and roots took out a lot of tires. Which certainly helped me, since I started poorly and I didn't flat. Next week we were promised a totally different course, and looking at the area, it offers a lot of options. I'm hoping for rain too.

Hats off to Spin for doing the work to run this event. With these, I'll have close to 20 cross races this year. I'm going to need to figure out how I'll find time to write about all these things.

Here we go... I can only get faster.