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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.