Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ho, Ho, Ho.

Merry Christmas to all the bike geeks. May your tree have some fun bike bits under it, to keep the bike fires burning thru the cold season.

I am taking it easy, doing my level best to shovel food & beer into my gullet, while trying to atone for all my fall weekends racing with the wife. But, I did promise some fun stuff, and here it is. I hope to edit down some fun little snippets later on, but here is "Coming & Going", the dual Go-Pro front & rear footage from the E2 Cross of the north race. Now, if I could figure out how to put the rear cam footage in a "rear-view mirror" picture-in-picture insert, along with speed and watt data all on one screen..... Hmmm...


Enjoy the holidays..... well, except for you all heading to Nationals/Worlds... you all, well, er, train or something, OK? Thanks! We'll be watching.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stick a fork in 'er......

She's DONE.



It's a wrap for the Colorado Cyclocross Season. It sure did manage to go out with a cold, snowy, icy, sloppy, muddy, completely off the hook bang. It was a great last couple of weeks. I ALMOST got my fill of racing in snotty conditions... Almost.

This Year's State Championship was probably THE single hardest cross race I can remember doing. Just. Plain. Hard. The team wanted to end the season by going all out. We got set up early for the post race party.

The Alpha Bikes and the Frites & Mayo boys had also been busy, crafting not only a great course down there, but building this monstrosity.
Sadly, with the damp & wet, the flyover proved to be a bit too steep & slick for use in the morning. Some "traction bars" were added later on, but none of the morning races got to race on the thing. It was a definite rush to ride it, so I had mixed feelings about it getting cut out. Probably for the best, as the race proved to have me SO deep in the haze, I am NOT sure I could have ridden it safely later in our race. Would have been CARNAGE on a biblical scale in the beer-drinkin-dads first lap, for sure.

With the Beer-drinking-dads race WAY out of it's normal early frozen-rut timeframe, we were assured of getting the mud rather than icy ruts this time, and the warm day did NOT disappoint. We rolled off in shorts into a wild and wooly, snotty, snowy killer of a course. The large amount of elevation change, and the intensity needed to NOT lay around on the ground left pretty much ZERO recovery anywhere on the course. After the drag race up the road for a start, we plowed into the mud with me right in the thick of it in the 25 to 30 rider back range. First lap proved to be some crazy fun, close and back & forth racing in the group I was with.


It only somewhat settled down for the second lap, with the video showing me passing or getting passed 10+ times in that lap. Still very close & cool back & forth racing. I tried to stay smooth, conserve a bit on the painfully long bike path climb, then hit it hard on the muddy, twisty bits that followed. Staying upright & smooth seemed to help, as I maintained position about 30 back, from the place call-outs given by my slowly recovering teammate Paul.

By the third lap, I began to really feel the lack of recovery on the course. My arms were starting to feel more like I was back riding the Laramie Enduro, rather than a 40 minute cross race in Castle Rock. The intensity needed to stay smooth was so high, I was wondering if my arms & hands were going to crap out before the last lap came. Of course, it did, but not before I did manage to deck myself on the last lap, just to RE-loose one more spot I had worked really hard to get back after loosing it earlier in the lap on the "bike path of pain" climb. At least the bush was soft.

Drug my carcass in for 34th place out of the 76 finishers. This race had 11 DNFs, a pretty high rate at over 10%, and indicative of the severity of the course conditions, as well as the severity of the suffering. Crashes and mechanicals seemed to be pretty widespread. This finish was a good end to my season, and was pretty happy with it, given the course and just how plain HARD the race was. My compliments to the Alpha/Frites guys. It was a worthy Championship course, without question.

It's been a great season, even with my lackluster results. The Team has been a hoot, making all the pain even more fun. Hanging out with these knuckleheads has been great.

A bit melancholy about the end of the season, but very satisfied. While my body and for sure my wife is happy it's done, my brain will be missing each weeks sufferfest. Such a strange hold this strangely addictive sport has on you. Maybe someday I can figure out just what it is.

Rest up, it's only 9 months to cross season!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lyons & tigers & bears, oh my.

Sunday in Lyons was yet another hoot. I'm digging all the snow, Ice & Mud right now. The COLD, I can do without. My toes may never get over this last few weeks.

With a SHORT start into snowy off-camber, Lyons was ALL about the start, and I boned that pretty bad. Just seemed to get on the wrong wheels over and over, and did not get aggressive enough when it was not working. I think I ran into 4 back wheels, and got abruptly stopped by having my front wheel kicked by someones premature dismount.

Ended up in the top half, and had a blast. You can see how not to start an icy race here:


So the Last big show for the year has moved to Castle Rock. Since I heard the original venue was pancake flat, I think I like the change. Hints & tweets of "more technical for sure" and "disco flyovers" have me curious about the course. HPM will be there in full force, with compound mode engaged, so stop by, it's the last party for the year.

Have some juicy tidbits from the ACA/BRAC/whatever Colorado racing Local Association meeting last night to share later as well. Changes coming for the season points competition for next year, seems like for the better. I also have a cool video edit coming up from running front AND rear cameras at the E2 Cross of the north race, idea and second camera courtesy of my teammate Johnny D.

That was supposed to be a "teaser", so stay tuned, and rock on at the big finish party this weekend down south. Time to wrap it up ya'll.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Double the fun, double the pain


It's been since the Boulder Cup/Halloween weekend since I pulled a double. I forgot how much that hurts. Headed up to Loveland for the E2 Cross of the North race Saturday, then out to Lyons for the Boulder Cyclocross Series final.

The Cross of the North race was a really good one. a great venue (think a heated building to warm up in, change in and power wash your bike in.....), and a VERY well run race, that the promoters put a BUNCH of work into (Think plowing a full course, bobcat work, and all that...). Those guys put on a great show, too bad they only managed to drag 159 riders up there to race. The bubble effect remains in full form.

Had a great race up there, even taking into account the mere 30 rider beer-drinkin-dads field. At 9:05, it was still full-on COLD and the course was 100% frozen rut central, with a packed snow topping. Got a front row call up on my pre-reg hip number, after Tim Madden was only able to draw ONE rider off the top 40 of the Crossresults.com list. Managed to grab 6th off the first snow section into a gnarly "BMX hump/drop/run-up/drop hump" section. Here's Dan Farrell "dropping in" on that little Gem in the 35+ race.


Seems as if the rider right behind me balked at the nasty drop and shut it down behind me. this sprung the front 6 free. It quickly split into single riders in the tough, slick conditions. It started to melt about 1 lap in to our race, and each lap was a new adventure as the course started changing fast. I held off a late charge form a couple of people, mostly by just making fewer driving errors, to hold out for a 7th place out of 28 finishers. By far my best percentile placing of the year. Felt good to finally get a decent race in.

Here is the first lap seatpost cam for the Cross of the north race.


I was talked into running front AND rear cameras for this race by my teammate Johnny D. Am going to cobble together a "Coming & Going" kinda production off that, but will take some time. Watch for it.

Today's Lyons race was HARD. Technical, snowy, and nasty. In other words, really cool. Pulled a 29th out, in spite of feeling blown from racing the day before. That same teammate pulled out a podium finish in 3rd today, and 2 other teammates in the points. A great day for the HPM crew today.

I'll have more on the Lyons race later this week, but for now I need to go to bed.......

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Powder Day

The saying in the ski world is:

"There are no friends in a powder day..."

In bike racing, I think a few friends are good. (At the least, to help ride in the course...). It was a bit "blustery" upon arrival.

The Cyclo-X Louisville race at the semi-infamous "Bowl of Death" was far different than the last few editions, and even more so for the early morning races. The kids out there trying to break open the course with powder well above the hubs on their 24" Redlines was both a bit comical, and also seemed to lean towards child abuse or at the least a violation of several child labor laws.

10+ inches of snow, and it piling up fast was the theme in the morning. Later races saw the course changing with staggering speed, from frozen powder plowing to rutted. muddy slime. It was a day that will stick in your memory for sure.

The Kids did a VERY abbreviated course, so the Beer-Drinking-dads were left to pound out a path across several big chunks of course in our race. It all started as we lined up, and realized we were facing a virgin start chute, with that 10 inches of fluff unbroken and piled up deep. As Tim sent us off, 2 pedal strokes into it, it was clear that running was going to be easier than riding for that first lap. with about half the field grinding away on the pedals, and half trudging along on foot all the way around the bottom of the bowl, it was clear that the running/riding decision was a draw that lap. As things started to unclog a bit after the off-camber section following the long run up, it was finally worthwhile to mount up and ride. Well, just to the second run up, where once again, the entire hillside needed running, all the way thru the chicanes past the pits. Me & my bad knees have not run that far in many a year. was pretty demoralizing, but I kept hoping that it would pack out quick & become rideable.

By the second lap, it DID get where you could ride a LOT more of the course, so my fears of exploding kneecaps was mitigated, and it started looking less like a snowy Boulder-Boulder and more like a cyclocross race. Lots of bobbles & dabs. If you came off the packed singletrack by even a TINY bit, it would lead to "tip dive" off the trail and a foot dab, at least. First cross race in a long time where visibility was an issue. It was snowing enough, a bit of glasses fogging, and you had hard time seeing where the packed sections were at times.

Was not the smoothest that day, had my issues keeping things pointed the right direction, and was not as dialed as I could have been. One of those days that you had to CAREFULLY modulate the power going to the ground, or you could spin right out. Had been battling up to a little group, then lost a bunch of ground with THIS gem at about 2 to go:


Managed to get back up to them, and even pick off a few, when I pulled THIS stunt going into the bell:


Yes, an astute observer would notice that both boo-boos were at the exact same spot, and exact same line. Yep, I managed to crash on the SAME spot 2 laps running. AFTER telling myself to avoid that line after the first crash. Seems like oxygen deprivation & hypothermia is not the best for short term memory. The second fall was not as graceful as the first, and rattled my cage pretty good. Having a rattled cage and the nasty descent after the Finish did not mix well, and I managed to REALLY loose contact with my little group, and never got back to them in that last lap. 30th place in the end. Not great, but I did not feel as flat as last week, so that felt good.

Here is all of lap1, running & all

This was one race that will stick in your memory. We get few enough races in such conditions, and with it actively snowing & blowing, it was one for the books. Next week is a New race in Loveland, and the Boulder CX Series final in Lyons. Thinking I'll double up this coming weekend, what with states the following weekend, and on a schedule that precludes racing 2 days for most people, next week will be my big finish weekend to the season.

I don't understand the thinking for the splits across the 2 days for the States this year. Last year, the split lined up so many masters could race both days, but this year Sunday is mostly a junior & Open only day. I am afraid the crowds on Sunday will be non-existent, and it just feels "dull" as a season ender. A lot of people enjoyed racing both days and in groups they don't usually get to race with last year, but not as much chance for that this year.

Season end is coming up quick. A bit bittersweet for me, have a little bit of burnout, but know I will miss the scramble every week. Such is the schizophrenic feel to the end of each Cross season.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Assimilation

The Assimilation is complete.


The deal is done, no matter your opinion on it. The storm of comments on 303 Cycling has died off, the predictions of new found greatness or darkness and doom are back in the closet. ACA has rejoined the Borg, er, USAC. Does it REALLY matter in the long run? Not really, since it's just racing bikes around, anyway.

I had the "pleasure" of attending and placing the vote for the High Peaks Masters team. Being as we are a bunch of not so fast, beer-drinking, NON-elite cheapskates, and given some of my previous ranting on the subject, you can guess our vote. (Oh, that and 100% of our members who replied to our request for feedback wanted a no vote.... Democracy and all, you know.)

It was very obvious from the tone of the ACA Club Council meeting on November 18th that the deal was already deemed done. The ACA seemed to have already rolled over (maybe for a good reason...), and USAC seemed to have decided that no matter what the ACA did, they were going to "retake" Colorado racing one way or the other. I got a distinct "this is what we are going to do, take it or leave it" tone to the USAC position.

Steve Johnson, the CEO of USAC was up first, and recognizing just how happy a lot of people were with USAC, noted that "Usually on a Friday night, I'm out with my friends sacrificing chickens and drinking goats blood", His best line of the evening. He had a presentation to show titled "What's new at USA Cycling", which used the same silly wheel graphic to show how they believe people decide to take up cycling, listed how many age group masters they had busted for doping this year, how many houses they have in Europe for national team riders, and lots of other fun stuff. He did his disorganized and rambling spiel, then promptly checked out on his crackberry, having to be roused to answer questions at times. When asked why USAC "suddenly" started enforcing the "No Pro" rules, as well as no reciprocity or dual sanctions, blame was put on the UCI for the pros, and "12 years of Drift" and not knowing the upgrade standards of ACA, or what the "anti-doping" controls in place were, is what forced the stop to reciprocity. "Liability complexity" was the reason given for no dual sanctions. In other words, we want the 2900+ ACA bodies in our revenue stream NOW.

The ACA folks then had their time, showing what they believed the membership decline for next year, and it's associated revenue decline would be. Interesting data showing how many riders race how many times over the last year. of the 2900+ ACA members, 385 raced only ONCE in a year. Two and three race day years were also very well represented. "Mid Point" of the number of race days was 12. Half the ACA crowd races less, half more. The ACA expected at LEAST half the current licensees would no longer join BRAC after getting their USAC licences. A big hit to their income, but probably about right. Bill Barr, President of the ACA said "either decision is bad, choice is which is least bad", and that the USAC was going to start and subsidize a new Colorado Local Association and would "bleed" the ACA out of existence if it did not rejoin.

Pete Webber from Boulder Cycle Sport noted that Steve Johnson was a "Terrible Salesman" (He was, seemed like he considered this the takeover a done deal....), and gave a very passionate pitch for re-integration. The best question of the night was to directly ask Mr. Johnson what the extra $50 going to the springs would get a "recreational" rider, the response was in pure corporate-speak. "The value is up to you" was the reply.

Finally a roll call vote was forced, as the building housing the meeting was 1/2 hour from being locked up. In the end, 47 clubs, holding 185 votes went with yes, 25 clubs, holding 100 Votes said no. Most of the larger teams, those with at least some elite contingent and about half the promoters voted yes. The other half of the promoters and the smaller, purely lower category clubs were the no votes, as you would expect.

So, now that it is a done deal, now what? In reality it IS a lot simpler to be ONE association. Ever try explaining the old USAC/ACA split system to a new racer? it was NOT easy. From a local race perspective, you probably won't see much difference from today. The promoters ARE expecting a race fee increase from higher USAC permitting costs, maybe a $3-$5 increase. Of course, anyone wanting to get season points will need to shell out more money to join both groups. The clubs will need to put out more money to join both. Is that extra money a BIG deal in the $2000 carbon wheels argument? Not really, but people are not stupid, and the cost of one day licences vs. pulling a USAC/BRAC membership licence pair now takes racing 10+ times a year to "break even", vs. the 5 times for just ACA in the past. For all those one to five race a year people, they will most likely NOT join BRAC, or maybe even forgo USAC licencing. Seems to me you would rather have these people "in the system" rather than giving them good reason not to. This view is NOT widely shared. USAC is VERY invested in the "Hero & Role model" theory of how people are motivated to take up racing bikes, and that by focusing on growing the top of the sport, the bottom will be "pulled" in. Who's right? Who Knows. Maybe Neither.

No matter, some of us will just pony up and continue to do as we have, for whatever our motivations. Bike racing will survive, maybe or maybe not thrive, and that may not have ANYTHING to do with such politics. So, no matter, lets just go race bikes.

Saturday's "Bowl of Death" at the Louisville Wreck Center looks to be trending toward the potential of an "epic" designation.

Looks to be a Chilly, Icy, Snowy, mess. in other words, PERFECT.

I can't wait.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why?

So, it seems every season I get that one race where I should have just stayed home, slept in & forgot about "playing bike racer" for the weekend. Saturday at the Boulder CX Series #4 race at Westminster City Park was that race for me. I've done this long enough to know it happens, that there are just "off" days, and that it's far from the end of anything. Still frustrating, even when you are talking about the difference between a middle of the pack finish to the back 1/4 finish. At least I did not get lapped, though there were a few minutes during the race where I was wondering.

I almost deleted my bar-cam video before even looking at it, much less choosing to share any of it. I was going backwards right from the whistle, a never ending stream of people going by. Any section requiring pedaling I felt like I had 2 flats, and both brakes dragging. Could not close a 5 meter gap on the downhill sidewalk in that race. Just plain nothing coming out.

It was one of the days where you wonder WHY you do this silly sport. What makes you get up at 5:30 in the morning, drive all over, change clothes in the cold-ass wind in the barely post dawn morning, just to beat yourself to a pulp. Race so hard for 45 minutes that you can't really function the rest of the day, all for 36th place in some Cross race. Why you slog around in the grass, dirt and mud each weekend, feeling SO beat up, then just wondering when the next time you can get out and do it again. Makes NO sense, but it's the most addictive sport I've found. Warned a new teammate about it this year. How addictive it is. never ceases to amaze me how this sick little niche sport within in a 3rd rate sport can get it's hooks into you SO deep. But does it ever.

Saturday was my day to remember why. I sucked. Had nothing to race with, no fight, no results. Yet in the end, I had FUN. Fun tearing (Sort of...) around a great course, trying not to crash, trying to go a little bit faster. While it was frustrating to not be where I "belonged" in the race, and to have no real fight, watching all those guys roll past, you can still have fun. Really pretty amazing. Kinda wonder what's wrong with me.

Almost didn't post any of my bar-cam video, but hey, it is what it is, so have my Lap 1, the beginnings of the slide, as well as Lap 2 of the 35+ open & 35+ 3 race. Almost missed that, as I was MUCH more interested in the post-race, malted recovery beverages provided by my wonderful teammate than rushing over to film the first lap that day. Sorry, sometimes you have priorities to attend to. The beer sure helped ease the sting of "defeat" that day. Now, I hope that was the ONLY one of THOSE days for me this year. Only 6 more chances for redemption left this year, folks!

My 35+ cat 4 Lap 1 back-slide:


35+ Open Lap 2


35+ 3 Lap 2

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BDDL From Castle Rock

Two more videos from Sunday at Castle Rock's Beer-Drinking-Dads-League race. Single file from the first 1/2 lap. Yee Haw. The rest are in my post from Monday.

35+ cat 4 - First lap into the finish straight


35+ cat 4 - Lap 1 at the mini-barrier

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Castles, Goat Blood and the Borg

So, we've been assimilated, But the wheels continued to turn this weekend.

The Chicken sacrificing, goat blood drinking CEO of USA cycling (HIS opening joke at the club council meeting, NOT mine...), Joined the Friday voting festivities, flying up from the Springs in his Borg Cube, and we all now have USAC stickers on our foreheads. So, no matter what you thought of the ACA-USAC "reintegration", or takeover, or merger, or "assimilation", it's now done. After a long and for the most part not very informative evening of presentations from all involved parties, the clubs spoke, and 186-100, Colorado is back in the national fold. No matter your opinion of the change, Colorado racing will go on, most of us will continue to support racing here, and we will just see how it goes over the long haul. Then we can see who, if anyone, was "Right" in the massive number of comments & opinions expressed.

I DO have to share Steve Johnson's reply to the question "What do we get for the $50 we send to Colorado Springs"?. His answer:

"The value is up to you"

Corporate speak at it's finest. Welcome aboard.

Enough of that. Strangely the ACA still ran a couple of races this weekend, and I headed to the far south hinterlands with the boys to sample the Castle Cross course for the first time. In spite of a carefully laid out plan to close up the Colorado Cup Beer-drinking-dads team competition points gap HPM has to the Natural Way Racing Team, we had a bit of a setback when THAT evil empire put more guys in the top 20 than we did. Funny how that works. Maybe we need to keep our secret plans for Colorado racing domination a little more quiet. Feels strange to be cyber-stalked.

In spite of FRIGID cold right up to before the beer-drinking-dads start, and getting up at an ungodly hour to get down there, the race turned out to be a blast. I usually go rapidly backwards on any course with that much elevation delta, but this one must have been JUST short enough for me to survive reasonably intact. It was mostly a great, technical, twisty, up and down smile fest.

The LONG drag up the paved road for the start works out pretty well. Was even able to pass a few going up that hill on the start. The only section that was not that great was the "Zig-Zag" on the descent. Was fine on the second lap on, but the start was just too tight, and led to track-stand contests in the back half of the field on the first lap. Quickly spread out, and I had a lot of good back & forth. video analysis of the race showed that I ended up passing and holding off more than I had get away from me. really had a blast most of the race, was able to stay focused AHEAD of me, and was able to keep picking up some of the spots I lost on my rather poor first lap. Felt good to get going and finish strong today. Ended up 36 of the 76 finishers, staying in the top 1/2, but sadly ONE spot JUST behind one of those Nemesis Natural Way guys. Next time......

So a bit of video from Sunday to share.

35+ Open and 35+ cat 3 hopping the little barrier on Lap 1:


Bar-Cam for Lap 1 of the Beer-Drinking-dads:


Monday, November 14, 2011

USAC - ACA

The time seems to have arrived. There is a Club Council meeting on Friday to determine if the ACA rejoins USAC as a USAC Local Association. Details on the deal were sent to the club representatives today, and since clubs are the voting bodies in the ACA, I encourage everyone to talk to their club leadership, and make your opinions known prior to the vote, and insure your club is represented.


While I totally believe that bringing all cycling governance under one body is a good thing, I really have issues with this deal, basically as it doubles the cost of getting licenced to race bikes in Colorado. Clubs will have to buy memberships in BOTH USAC and the new (Old?) Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado, as the ACA will become known. Our team is self-funded, and having to fork out another $150 to be a USAC club, on top of adding the $60 USAC individual licence will double the costs to participate. NOT my idea of making an already expensive and somewhat hostile sport to enter, any more accessible. At least the ACA dropped a few dollars a year off the individual membership costs, since it no longer has to administer licences, rules, and all that overhead.

My personal take? NOT worth the cost, just to benefit a few pros, a few people who go to nationals, and to "unify" cycling in Colorado. I have issues with being asked to support TWO cycling bureaucracies. Out of touch? maybe? better Idea? not really.

Make sure your club votes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

50 - 50 Day

It was another 50 - 50 day today.

Degrees and Miles per hour. 50 degrees, and 50 Mph wind. Strange and annoying. The new course out there at Sienna Lake Park is a complete winner. was even fun in the gale we raced in today. On a "normal" day, it would be twisty, varied, sweet goodness. My hats off to Lance & Tony, and Pete Webber for laying out a great new course for us to play on. Next time we could do without the wind, but I'll take it.

31st for me, bout in the middle again. Had my issues with the deep grass, uphill, directly into the wind sections today, but held on as best as I could. LOVED the irrigation ditch.

A quick look at the 35+ Open on lap 1, but it was NOT pleasant to hang out today, so not anything else from off the bike. You can hear the wind, and get a bit of a feel for the day here....


>

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

De-Ranting

OK, guess I was in a bit of a "rant" mood for my last post. Bitching about lines at registration at races, not so hot courses and all that. Is it really that bad? A messed up registration line run by people taking their Sunday to put on a race is enough to start me whining?

Then I read a great post over on the Frites and Mayo site. A great story about what makes me love cross, and the atmosphere and people who do it. I seem to have lost my perspective a bit, and gotten lost in the little things. Thanks for sharing that story, Rich, and putting me back on a more positive thought track.

One thing I tried out on Sunday, bike wise, was a new front derailleur. Not the sexiest part on a bike, but for any cross bike with top tube cable routing, is a source of limited performance. I like a "clean" down tube, as I am kind of old school about carrying bikes, and pick up by the down tube a lot. Don't really like a cross bike with down tube cable routing. The downside to top tube routing has been no top pull road front derailleurs. The pulley method fo getting shifting never worked that hot. mushy and slow front shifting limited wanting to use the front shifter when it might have been more useful than not.

Shimano finally has a Top Pull front derailleur available. While I am all SRAM for my drivetrain, I went ahead and tried one of these Shimano top pulls when I did my mid-season rebuild. It looks to be a Cyclocross-inspired design, even being named a "CX-70"


Wow, what a difference. The new setup shifts like a dream. Crisp, fast shifts, no mushy feel, and gets rid of a lot of "stuff" on the back of the seat tube to pick up mud.


Anybody who is not a "Single-Ringer" and has top tube cables might want to look at "de-pulley-ing" you bike. The change is dramatic. So I now have a Shimano part on my bike after many years of 100% SRAMing. (Sorry, Shotty....)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Come ON, People......

Seemed like this was the mid-season weekend off for the Cross Community here in Colorado. 3 races, all rather lightly attended. Even the "Schoolyard Cross" Colorado Cup race on Saturday (Which I hear was a bit of a mud-fest...) only drew 457 total riders. For comparison, the previous Sunday race at Valmont was 685, without the pro men or women. 353 total at the Sunday Primalpalooza race in golden. And the "Race for National Ranking Points", put on by the USAC down in the springs drew a whopping 96 riders.

I guess my comments last post about the numbers really going down after Halloween were proven correct. It looks like the whole 35+ "Pro" field decided to take the weekend off. The certainly did NOT take up the USAC offer for the "coveted" USAC National Ranking points on offer down in the Springs, with **FIVE** 35+ riders lining up. Still, 32 of the 96 in the springs were from the Denver/Boulder area, or 1/3 the turnout. I guess the "Bubble effect" continues to reign supreme in Front Rage cross racing, Boulder or bust. (Disclosure here.... I am just as Guilty of NOT driving. Golden was the farthest I've driven to race so far this year... Spoiled? You bet!)

Not sure what all this means for the whole USAC/ACA "merger" that is going to be coming up for an ACA Club vote November 18th, but it sure seems no one was willing to go to the Springs for a race. From the "Colorado Racing News" in my E-Mail box last week was this:

Behind the scenes, our talks with USAC have been proceeding with a renewed sense of possibility. We will have a special Club Council Meeting on Friday, November 18th (6pm at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden) to determine the future of the ACA. Steve Johnson from USACycling will attend and give a presentation to our club leaders. Please watch the ACA site for the latest developments.


No information on WHAT Clubs will be voting on, or how much this will cost us suckers, er, taxpayers, er, uh.... racers yet. Was told details on the proposal would be out Friday, but dead silence so far.

On to the "Race Report" for the weekend. I partook of the Sunday Primalpalooza version of Cross racing this weekend. Underwhelmed would be by assessment of the race in general. After waiting for at least 30 minutes to get a number, while watching people behind the tables spin in circles repeatedly for entertainment as an opening act, I then got to see the course. With LOTS of space and terrain there to work with, I was excited to see what a different take on course design would be. Sadly, NOT what we got.

Lots of "hype" for this race made me think it would be a "good" event, but bad execution and a mediocre cloned course left a bland taste in my mouth at best. First things first. PLAN your registration "process" before the morning of the race. It is not really that hard to make it run smooth. Good promoters do it week after week. Yet we are now at 2 of the last 3 races (Colorado Cross Classic and Sundays race..) where getting registered was a disaster. I've been a race director. There are a lot of things to plan. I understand. But screwing up registration sets the tone for a race pretty well, and NOT in a good way. And note that if there are 50 people in line to register, it is not "running OK, the line is not growing". That many people in line means your Registration is BROKEN. Having to get Juniors parents to sign wavers at the line means registration is BROKEN. Go fix it. I hope this is the last of the Confused, slow, messy waits to get a number for the year. It's Painful to watch, and more so to be on the receiving end of.

The course Sunday was a virtual clone of the states course from 2 years ago, Including the "spiral of death". Whee. Not very inspired, and there seems to be a lot of terrain to work with out there, why not get more original? I admit, maybe landowner constraints are maybe in place, limiting what you can do, but I can't imagine they care which parts of the bumpy field you run a course across. Running that race back & forth across hundreds of meters of gravel parking lot does not make for a course with any flow, and even gets into the boring category pretty fast. I managed a 27th place finish, at least top half. Felt more like my normal self again. Race day results showed me in 29th, but 2 guys got DQed for "Fraudulent Entries", whatever or however you manage that. A strange race all around.

Not much Video this week, as I did not stick around, and the 20ish rider fields in the 35+ and 35+ 3s were not that "photogenic", AND I was busy drinking my post race beer. All I have is my lap 1 bar cam this week.




Next week a race in Parker, a new venue that looks good, but sure to suffer greatly for it's distance from the Bubble. and a new race venue in Broomfield from the Beyond Limits guys that looks interesting. I'll probably be at the Broomfield race, being the spoiled rotten Bubble-neighbor, non-traveling, my truck will blow up if I go too far crosser I am.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Muck and Sequins

It was muddier than I expected. It was harder than I expected. The Colorado Cross Classic & Boulder Cup were both muddier and harder than I had expected. Muddier was good. Harder, well, not so good for me.

Saturday, Boulder Rez.
In a departure from most races this year, the day got off poorly when the registration became a complete failure in the morning. I plan lots of time for my pre-race tasks, but waiting thru two 20 minute lines, while the registration people tried (unsuccessfully...) to figure out how to register & hand out numbers put a dent in my prep. Still got ready OK, then got my usual 2nd to last row call-up. Last 2 rows BARELY fit up against the fence at the back of the staging corral (you can see that in the seatcam video....). I will almost always try and get staged at or near the outside rows, as that usually gives you a little room off the start. This time I lined up on the left fence, which turned into a good thing, as there was a MASSIVE pileup about 100 Meters into the start sprint, on the RIGHT side. Lots of grinding, crashing & fence-clanging was heard. You can also see riders & bikes piled up, just about higher than the orange fence in my on-board video.


Once it spread out a bit, the race went about as normal for me. Was able to move up for a bit of the first lap, able to get by most in the greasy corners on the west side of the course. Settled into a spot for a lap, then managed to semi-blow up trying to bridge to the next group. That little miscalculation saw me slow down & loose 3-4 places quick. This years course seemed to not have a lot of places to recover. for me, seemed to be pretty much full on for 95% of the lap, causing me to take that full lap to get going again. I was feeling VERY slow on the long westbound gravel grind heading to the west end of the course. Kept thinking I had a brake rubbing or mud packing up. the kind of thing where you keep thinking "I HAVE to be able to go faster than THIS...".

Eventually recovered, and over the last lap and a bit, got back most of the spots I lost, and was starting to move back forward. Not enough time to really go anywhere, but felt good to finish strong. Ended up exactly at mid-pack at 39th. Interesting in that only 77 of the 35+ cat 4 riders finished out of 111 starters. Pretty high attrition, maybe some of it from the big crash early, but also likely a read on how hard of a course it was. Not sure I've seen many races with a 30% abandon rate.

Overall I REALLY liked this course for a "Rez" race. Been enough races out there to see how course layout in the same venue can really change the feel and rhythm of a race, and this one, while hard, was a lot of fun.

Sunday, Boulder Cup
Back to Valmont. THIS one really surprised me. Once it melted out, the mud just kept coming, getting deeper and deeper as the race went on. Even harder, with less recovery than Saturday, Even with the course hard like that, it was a real bike drivers course. Good little snotty off camber bits to test your driving skill and power modulation. Sadly, I had ZERO power in the tank, and had a miserable day, going backwards the entire race. 4th from DFL in the 45s. Sigh.

Still, the slithering about kept the smile on my face I had at the start. Thanks to Jim Heuck at Six Degrees to Slush for capturing my shirt's full "Shiny Factor"

And my sequined disco shirt did get a few "Saturday Nite Fever" heckles, so it was still Cross. Some say the Colorado Cross scene is "too Serious". Since I saw a grand total of 3 costumes in the 45+ race, some devil horns and a great wig on Lennard Zinn., I am beginning to think that may be true. Can't people figure out a costume that lets you still go fast? Or is it rally just THAT serious out there?

So, after 2 days of icing my poor, sore knees from slogging around at high power both days, and getting my mid-season, full bike rebuild done, it's almost time to hit it again. A Cup race in Brighton, and a non-cup race in Golden, with the USAC race in the Springs, there are a lot of choices. I am expecting the HUGE numbers to start dropping off starting this weekend. Seems like each year, the fields start to shrink after Halloween. Maybe the Boulder Cup is the unofficial early season championship race for the warmer weather set, and it gets harder & colder to race about this tieme. Looks like the cold & wet will be hanging around, too. At least it won't be as dry and dusty as last season.

I'll be out Sunday at Primalpalloza, mostly to try and even up my own Rapha/Focus Cross Clash Challenge. You gotta make your battles where you can. Stay warm.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Big Bubble Weekend

Well, another Boulder Cup Bubble weekend is in the books. Turns out the weather DID leave us just a "bit" of goo to play in. Actually, more like a boat-load of goo. was quite the slime fest this weekend.

More later, but today, just a couple of videos. Sunday's 35+ and 35+ 3, and some staircam video from the (painful) "5280 Run up" at Valmont.

35+ open/35+ 3 "Staircam"


35+ Lap 1


35+ Cat 3 Lap 1

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Green Tunnel of Pain

Once again, the green acres of Interlocken provided equal parts of pleasure and pain. Pleasure in getting to rip around on pretty green grass, the opposite of what we usually get to ride here on the dry, dusty Front Range. Pain for pretty much the same reason, trying to milk a bit more speed out of the legs on the same power-sucking green grass. No matter the mixed messages, still one of my favorite courses.

The only gripe I have with the course is that the start is not great. The quick neck down into the sidewalk/bush gauntlet right after the start is NOT good for anyone more than about 10 back at the start. Even with that, it opens up fast after the "bowl of death" surrounding the volleyball court, and things get sorted out quick. What I usually remember about the "Bowl of Death" is slogging up the steep grass run-up, trying to hold breakfast down.
With Not-so-hot crossresults.com call up points, I am pretty much doomed to last row call-ups for now, and Saturday did not change my luck there. Racing in the 45+ open also reminded me that it is not NEARLY as easy to pass half the field as my last back of the grid start in the beer-drinking-dads. I managed to get by a few in the mess that developed coming out of the sand on the first lap (a cluster of stumbling that would have made the 35+ 4s proud...). Racing 45+ got me into"my place" in the train a bit quicker, and settled in to some good chasing and a bit of back and forth with a couple of folks. While certainly NOT tearing up the old guys, I felt pretty good, and after avoiding some nice "spin-outs" on the slippery grass (Check the end of the Lap 1 video..), and blowing up a bit trying to get away from a few people, I even got one more good pass in on the hill of the last lap, and made it stick.

Sadly, Darron Cheek came up and caught me in the last 200 or so meters. Was really trying to not get lapped, but on such a short course, my puny top speed was just a bit short of pulling that goal off. In the "lap management" sense, it was perfect in getting me out of one more lap, but I really wanted to avoid that even on a shorter course. Sigh.

I am getting a bit annoyed by one thing this season. Getting beat by folks who are just a little faster on the straights, but have not so hot bike handling skills. I expect and kind of enjoy a bit of the "less skilled" riding in the beer-drinking-dads, but for some reason I have higher expectations in the 45+ race. Generally, it is the case, lots of smooth, solid bike handlers there, even way in the back where I race in the 45s. But I am getting more motivated by loosing contact with some folks who's driving is not "above average". Kinda hating that I did not get in the mid-summer "training" I had intended, and am paying now in plain lack of power & speed. Guess I just need to get faster, or quit whining about it, huh? HTFU an all that.

Here is the bar-cam view of Lap 1 from the 45+ back row Saturday


The upcoming weekend is looking QUITE interesting. We saw about a foot of WET, heavy snow here in "Not-Boulder", and not that far from Boulder Res. With some luck, all this will melt SLOW, and we can milk a bit of slime out of this for the "Rez" and Valmont. Going to be interesting to see how Valmont rides if it is a bit muddy. No matter the conditions, I am registered and ready. The "dad's" race Saturday, 45+ on Sunday. Going to be a blast no matter what.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grass

Interlocken was it's normal tunnel of green, grass-filled suffering. For once it was DRY grass, but still was a sick & twisted version of fun. More on my own take later, but for now, some video, thanks to my long suffering wife.

Beer-Drinking-dads, 3 laps worth, with LOTS of fun that first lap...

Lap 2


Lap 3


35+ open & 35+ Cat 3 - Lap 1

Lap 2


And the 45+ Lap 1

Lap 2


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

50/50

That was my race weekend. Half & half. Half good, Half Bad.

Saturday at Xilinx was a good race for me. While my 43rd place was far from stellar, doing it out of the 13th row made me feel pretty good, proved I can still move out of a back row start, and had another good race with the guys I was around. A great fall day, and still one of my favorite courses. Found out that the "order of registration" or "random" call-ups for those NOT making the Colorado Cross Cup top 20 were actually "alphabetical" by last name. The bib numbers got assigned alphabetically, which explains why those back in the last 2 rows with me were wondering why registering the day pre-reg opened got you that prime start spot.

After we finally got moving in the back of a 120+ rider herd, I was able to find a sweet gap up the left side of said herd, passing a pile of people before we hit the dirt and the inevitable almost full stop. Things quickly spread out & got into some more manageable groups, and we were off. I was particularly happy to see the return of the now iconic "Blue Sky mini barriers". The double 2x6 boards on the top were great for me, as after not having had the huevos to bunny hop them last year, I had gone out of my way to learn a solid, BMX-style bunny hop, JUST for the chance the little boards were back. (Hint... Try leaning to bunny hop using foam blocks.... you can screw up & not hate life)


I was able to happily roll thru the little barriers with minimal slowing, and really enjoyed passing one or 2 folks off that section each lap. Made all my "old guy leaning a new trick" fumbling worthwhile. I did see more random crashes in this race than any I've been in for a while. Probably 6 crashes, and things like crashing hard on a flat, straight paved section. Very strange.

Rolled around in a little group with a teammate and a couple of others till the last lap, then tried to dump them all again going into the bell. I was able to shed the hangers on, all except for the one leach of a teammate. THOUGHT I could slip him at the mini-barriers late in the lap, and in spite of putting a big gap into him, he clawed his way back up, and as I ran out of gas, out-punched me off the stairs, and rode away from me in the sprint. Ah well, All good.


Why is it that you tend to fight even harder when you are racing someone you KNOW, versus some "random guy" out on the course? I am very guilty of it, and I see it a lot. Strange brains we have.

Sunday was a return to the venue for last years Colorado State Cyclocross Championships at Monarch High School in Louisville. I was expecting the same wide open, fast course as states. Chris at DBC Events and his course setter, Dan Depamalere, had a VERY different idea. The course for this version was a great mix of fast, open areas, and two REALLY cool "maze" sections and a couple of nice swoopy, fast turns. The course even rewarded my new-found bunny-hop obsession with cute move over a 2x6 on a practice pitching mound. One of the best courses I have been on, put a big smile on your face as you got dizzy rolling thru the maze sections.


Sadly, in spite of an incredibly fun course, with enough twisty bits to satisfy even me, I turned out to feel about the opposite of Saturdays happy, fun self. Was having stomach cramp/nausea issues almost as soon as we ramped the speed up, and my legs just did not go well out of the gate. After flailing about for a while, realized it was NOT going to "happen" that day, and just rode it out, trying NOT to puke on Dean Crandall's shoes as he gave me the bell.


Managed to not puke or quit, and enjoyed the course as much as I could while feeling like crap. Got to make up for my disappointment by seeing the team ROCK it again, with multiple top 10 finishes in a few different races. Even see the HPM beer-drinking-dads in 3rd place in the Colorado Cross Cup Team Points. (no help from me, thank you very little....) That made me almost forget the disappointment of a bad day on the bike.



Next up? The love/hate I have with the endless, boggy grass of Interlocken. Once more time to get shown just how few watts I can really generate. No matter, I just CAN'T miss racing on the sweet green carpet. I'll be there.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

2 again

Got in my second weekend of racing both days. Man I hate getting old. Blue Sky Velo at Xilinx was a hoot on Saturday, in spite of a 12th or 13th row start. Sunday, not so good. Just plain felt bad all race, and the rest of the day, for that matter. Too bad, as the Course at Monarch was a piece of twisty, turney, grass goodness.

Going to crawl off and hide after today. seems like I need more rest, but until then, some different video. Try out the "stair-cam" from Xilinx.

35+ & 35+ 3


45+

Monday, October 10, 2011

USGP race report

I'm still hurting. The 2 races at the USGP in Ft. Collins were a LOT of fun, but I feel like a truck ran me over. Then backed up and did it again. And again. After finally getting rid of my head cold and general sickness, and with not a lot of riding or "training" in me for the last 2 weeks I had NO idea how I'd feel or "go" up in the Fort. A little help from my Chinese medicine doc
and I was at least not feeling like my head & lungs were plum full of lung butter BEFORE the race even started. A nice change.

Saturday was forecast to be "cool" and rainy. I managed to NOT bring my hard-core winter riding or Cyclocross race watching clothing, figuring it was not going to get too cold. Oops. Turns out both would have been appropriate. All morning it was cool and "damp". Just barely wet enough to make me put the mud wheels on, which turned out to be a brilliant move. Just as we go to line up it goes from "damp" to "raining" and to me being very happy with my tire choice. This was my first real race with the 45+ open this year, and it is gratifying to see they still come out like a rifle shot. Good flow and close racing for the first lap, lots of fun to race with so many fast & smooth guys. It starts to break up, and I start to notice that it is POURING rain by then, and the course is rapidly going from "damp" to "slick" and it was really starting to be fun to slither around the course.

End up in the last group to not get lapped, with some good, back & forth racing the whole race. I was gaining time in the twisty bits and the downhills, and, as usual loosing it back on the climbs. Ended up in 53rd of 61 finishers, and easily met my only real goal at such a big race, keeping from getting lapped.

Even as crazy as the conditions were in our race was, it was NOTHING like later in the day for the later groups, like the 35 open.


Sunday was quite a different race. The course dried out just enough to be tacky and fast. Mud tires would leave nice little waffle prints, but pick up nothing. You knew it would be fast & furious, just about the exact opposite of the slither-fest of Saturday. Once again, got shot out of a cannon for the start, and never slowed down. Even way back in the field, it really did not spread out much, and it ended up being a knock-down-drag-out knife fight for even 50th place. I was hammering it out at my absolute limit in a group of 5, including Lee Waldman who writes a column for Cyclocross Magazine. Sadly, while suffering like a dog in lap 2 at the back of this merry little bunch, someone at the front let Lee drift off, and when I finally regained consciousness near the end of the lap, realized he was gone.
Down to 4, I went back & forth with the other 3 left in our bunch, in fast and really evenly matched racing. Like almost 1/2 the 45+ field, we got lapped by a stars & stripes clad missile out of the Junior ranks who started 30 seconds up on us old guys. That got us shortened up a lap, and I noticed we were at 1 to go (the others may have expected 2 still...) so I nailed it coming off the start pavement, jumping after the 2nd & 3rd place juniors passed us. I was able to gap the group on the initial descent, then at the bottom of the course realized that attacking at the bell leaves you a LONG way to go with only a small gap. I sucked it up, went right to the redline on the climbs, pushed the descents to the limit, and was able to hold off a shattered little group by a few seconds for 51st.

What I REALLY like about racing cross is you can have a battle back there in the 50s that is almost as much fun as racing for the top 5. I was more stoked to be able to shatter and gap that little group after such close racing, more so than many "better" results I've had in a while. Great fun, and it was a premeditated attack that did it, even more amazing.

These 2 shots sum it up. The fun & suffering of a great weekend. Thanks for keeping us grounded, Al!

On to Blue Sky Velo Cup this weekend, and the second visit to Xilinx. Even with no rain in the forecast, I'm re-energized and ready to go give the beer-drinking dads some hell. See you there.

More USGP

Had some issues getting stuff up to Vimeo Last night. Here is a couple more, including the Bar-Cam from Saturday's 45+, Lap 1, just as the heavens opened.

45+ Saturday Lap 1 - The rain gods speak


45+ Sunday - Start


45+ Sunday at the Flyover (maybe lap 2??)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Big Time

Big time Cross racing in Colorado. But still the "wanna-be" rider can get in & mix it up. How cool is that?

The second stop on the USGP Cyclocross National Tour hit the Fort over the weekend. Big time racing, a BIG show, and great, epic racing. We even got our first dose of "real" cross weather on Saturday. Actually, the better description of the conditions for most of the day Saturday might even get to the "epic" area. Saturday went from marginal to "hardcore" DURING my 45+ race. DRIVING rain, wind, and rapidly changing course conditions. Sunday was nothing but Haul-Ass, hero traction, Velcro your tires to the ground fun.

More later, I'm basically fried from a killer weekend. Here is a bit of video. Sadly, it was NOT conducive to any photography-like activities on Saturday. Was afraid to get my camera out without a plastic bag. Just plain Natsty.

Sunday, SM35+ Open, Lap 2



Saturday, 45+ Open Lap 1 - Bar Cam.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fried in Frisco

Ah, the true joy of racing cyclocross at 9000 feet above sea level.

Frisco was the first stop on the Colorado Cross Cup campaign for the 2011 season on Saturday. I chose to attend almost on habit, and on the VERY outside chance of picking up some cup points for the remainder of the cup races. Now, Frisco has always dealt up to me a bit of humble pie on extra large plate. Of course this year was NO different.

After a two week lead in that featured a nice head cold/Bronchitis outbreak and a fine DNS at Xilinx, I was in prime shape for a course that is as hard as that little bugger up there. At least I was no longer actively sick for this start. A beautiful day, with blue skies and great aspen gold everywhere, distracted you from the impending suffering.

Thanks to the officials removing all the upgraded folks, my 60-something-ish final result from Colorado Cross Cup last year allowed me to make the last of the call-up list, netting me a 3rd row start in a 70 ish rider field. Of course, with the route starting up a tour de france "beyond-catergory" climb, I knew any advantage would not last long, and it didn't. (OK, OK, it's really not that big of a hill, but it does not do any favors for watt-challenged folks like myself.....)

By the top of the start hill, I had accomplished 2 notable things. One, gone hard enough to be light-headed, dizzy, and not really sure where I was, and two, lost like 20 spots in the line. Pretty much my normal way to start at Frisco. My first 2 laps were a blur of light-headed gasping, as my sickness addled lungs refused to do their job. Every hill or power grass section was a blur of slow motion progress & random bodies riding by. Finally, going into the third lap, I started to feel more like my normal self, and arrested the pack-sliding, even starting to move back up a bit.

Got into an "epic" 3-way battle with Rich of Frites & Mayo fame, along with an ICCC guy, duking it out to fill out the top 50 spots. Spent the rest of the race in the following back & forth battle:
- Get passed like I was standing still on the paved climb by Mr. ICCC.
- Work myself into a hypoxic dizzy spell trying to remain vaguely in contact with ICCC guy.
- Fly down the "woodchipper" descent & catch Mr. ICCC.
- Hear Rich come back up to us on said descent.
- Pass Mr. ICCC before the loose drop into the softball field.
- Fight to hold any gap across the grass.
- Rich & I drop ICCC guy in lower technical bits.
- Rich comes right up on my shoulder on the run-up.
- AND Mr. Comes flying by on the climb.... again.
- Repeat

This continued long enough that we even got into talking about it on the climb....
Mr. ICCC - " Leapfrog again here..."
Me - "See you on the descent"

Anyway, the good thing for me was I had enough left to gas it a little on the last technical section and run-up, and into the pavement on the last lap, sprinting in for a blazing 49th place to "make the top 50" (out of 68 finishers...). my normal "performance" at Frisco. Only 30 places out of the points. Whee.

While I usually am pretty focused in a race, probably to the point of pure suffering tunnel vision most of the time, Every once in a while I might see or hear something in a race. One of my teammates has been known to "drift off" in his concentration in races, up to the point of asking things like "did you see that hot mom on the back side?" or some such. Usually I see nothing but what is going on right around me. THIS time, they managed to say something on the PA that broke right thru my mid-race haze of suffering. Apparently, hearing "free Beer" on PA can get my attention at almost any level of suffering.
The HPM team did a lot better than I did, putting 2 guys in the top 20 and the Cup points for the 35+ 4s for this season. Good ride there, on a HARD course. I decided to make SURE I blew all the junk out of my lungs, and get a hard day in before the USGP weekend, and TRIED to pull a double, racing the 45+ race as well. THAT did not go too well, and after battling my way out of DFL on the first lap, I actually quit a race, just because it was "too hard". I was beginning to feel my hip/back locking up, and with the leaders closing in with 2 to go, pulled the plug on THAT brilliant idea. Also was having the minor issue of getting so goofy in the last laps that I was not able to really drive the bike anymore. Crashing or re-injuring myself seemed like not a good thing at this point in the season, so I stopped by the officials and pulled myself early.


Next weekend is a week of lower level goals. Racing 45+ both days at the Ft. Collins USGP leads to only one goal for me.... Don't get Lapped. Shall see if that is realistic. Should be fun to see all the big guns up there, showing us hacks how it REALLY should be done.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, this weeks Video Collection.

SM35+4 - Seatpost Cam - all of Lap 1



SM35+4, Laps 1-4 in various places









SM45+ Laps 1 and 2






SW Open and SW35+



SM55+ Start and Lap 1