Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Catharsis

Merry Christmas to you all.  ( all 3 or 4 of you who read this…)

This year has had me trying to decide if I am the grinch,  or just "was Grinched".   Not been a great year,   and certainly not my favorite Cross season.  Did spot a new hybrid out there,  the Santa Grinch.  Maybe my year was just his idea of a joke.
Bo Bickerstaff   -
So a whopping 2 weeks after getting my heart probed,  thinking I was PROBABLY safe from "Pulling a Cedric Gracia" I went ahead and jumped back in a race.  Figured if being a good little cardiac patient and not stirring up my heart arrhythmia led to it not happening while I was probed,  I just as soon change the operating point,  and start getting it to go nuts more often.  So,  racing at states seemed like as good a plan as any.

Turns out that HURT.   A LOT.

After NOT getting my heart issues fixed,  I kinda went through a low point,  got a little whiny,  felt sorry for myself and the like.  Strange,  just 45 minutes of searing agony seems to have cleared a lot of that up.

John Hailey has put in a back-breaker of a course down there,  killer hard,  but also really fun.  My "race" was a bit of a blur,  made very cloudy by a searing haze of pain.  I do seem to remember having some fun sliding around in some greasy mud over ice,  you know,  kinda like cross should be.  After weeks of sitting around,  avoiding heart tachycardia in the vain hope that all that would soon be fixed,  and 2 weeks after getting my heart probed,  racing there induced levels of pain & suffering I am struggling to ever remember matching in any other bike race.  And all that for 30th place out of 36.  At least I did not get lapped.

It went about as well as one would expect from someone who was not really even ON a bike for weeks prior to the race,  after even longer of not ever riding hard.   You can get the idea by the HERDS of people who pass me (probably thinking "what the hell is wrong with THIS guy…" as they went by.) in the first couple of minutes in the video.

2013 Colorado State CX Championships - 45+ 4 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

I'll give my team credit,  they are a fun bunch and managed some creative heckling for may way back in the pack suffering.  We had the plan in place that if I was looking "Really Bad",   either side could call for a "Code Brown" and start the beer hand ups.    Not all that good of a sign when they started offering that "Code Brown" on lap 2.

High Peaks Masters Heckle-cam from John Deibert on Vimeo.

So,  with the Cross season "over" for me,  outside of maybe torturing my malfunctioning heart again at the Pre-nationals race,  and crewing and spectating at Nationals,  it is time to look ahead,  reflect back,  and see what I can do to completely avoid another year like this one.  Really,  I am kinda sick of this shit.  Tired of being broken.  Old I'm used to,  but not old AND broken.

We are off to the normal Christmas insanity,  going to go do a bit of Family holiday stuff, then some skiing and tourist-ing with some out-of-town folks coming in.  Then time to re-group,  re-arm and get a new plan in place with the Cardiologist,  which is the day after Christmas. (Merry Christmas to me…)

I did manage a bit of a milestone this year,  internet-blogger-video-trending-kinda wise.  My video from  Mile High Urban Cross went to over a THOUSAND views.  Almost 1100 now.  A first for me.  Since I started this yammering here in October of 2009,  I've only had about 37,000 hits TOTAL,  so it takes a bit more than my few readers to get 1000 hits on a Video in a couple of weeks.  Thanks 303 Cycling and MUCCY for the help there,  by putting my vids up.  What is the definition of "internet famous",  anyway?

Mile High Urban CX Chaos from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

I wish all of you out there a great holiday.  If you are done racing,  have a good beer for me.  If you are peaking up for Nationals,  keep pounding.  Thanks for reading.  I'll try and find some more entertaining stuff to write up.  I hope Santa has some nice stuff under the tree for you.

Merry Christmas,  and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nice Try

Sometimes,  things just don't go the way you want.  

Not.   Even.   Close.

Fear.  Fear of loss can make you go a bit mad.  Just spent a good part of a long and sleepless night staring straight into the eyes of that fear,  that loss.  The sleeplessness came from being thrust into thinking about loss,  and thus the fear.  While the loss contemplated could be seen as minor to many,  silly by some,  and certainly ranks low on the scale of actual human suffering in the world,  the fear remains real.

Forced to look at something unimaginable,  something never really considered or contemplated will keep you awake in the dark of night.   Denial and optimism can be blown away like morning mist,  replaced quickly by stormy clouds of realization and doubt.

This night of dark contemplation,  realization and yes,  fear was brought on courtesy of my arrhythmic heart and the joy that is modern medicine.  Went in to get my long awaited and even anticipated Electrophysiology study and (hopefully) an RF ablation to bring my mis-behaving heart rates back under control.  The Doctor's cheerful "70-80% confident we would get the issue and fix it on the first try" (foreshadowing…) ringing clearly in my head.  

After a long day of no eating,  no water,  prepping & waiting,  I woke up from the General anesthesia,  became cognizant enough to remember where I was and what I was doing.  First thing I asked my wife after becoming aware enough to ask was….. "did they fix it?".    And of course the answer was…..


NO?    Shit.

Of course,  while not out of the realm of possibility,  was NOT what I had In mind.  They were not able to reproduce the failure in over an hour of trying.  Apparently he was able to provoke a whole three (3) lousy Tachycardic beats out of my heart,  not nearly enough to map the defective paths and do an ablation.


Thus,  while getting to lay still for the desired 6 hours,  and on to my overnight stay in the place where no sleep is had,  being "observed",  I managed to descend into a rather deep,  dark funk.   What the HELL am I going to do if I can't get this fixed?  That kept running thru my head.  Racing?  Yea,  I guess I can even see giving that up,  since I pretty well suck at it anyway.  But not being able to ride hard at all?  Especially on the Mountain bike?  Unimaginable.  I like to ride places you just can't "ride easy" up.  I ride with a bunch of folks who don't really race  but still go FAST.  Riding our tandem is HARD.  I don't really want to be that putz-y,  ride the easy stuff rider.  I literally can not imagine NOT riding.  It's too big of a piece of me.

After the requisite time of depression & self-loathing,  I have pulled out a bit.  We are FAR from done here,  at the least there is the option of an additional try at the EP Study/Ablation,  probably without the general anesthesia drugs depressing my system responses,  and for that matter a slew of drugs to look into.  Not done,  but was not really planning on more months of waiting & trying here,  I was ready to "be Fixed".  

With my next Doc talk the day after Christmas (Merry Christmas to me!),  we'll have a new plan in place in a couple of weeks.  Whee.  Till then,  I am going to go ahead & "participate" in states again.   Figure it can't hurt to get the arrhythmia "warmed up" and popping before the next attempt.  Seems resting and being good didn't help with getting it to repeat,  so we'll try and completely change the failure environment for the next round.  What the hell.

See ya at states.  The season end approaches.

Sorry for the self-centered ranting/whining.  It just needed to come out.  We return you to your regularly scheduled gibberish soon.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Well,  no matter what,  I'm thankful.

With all the Crap that's come my way this year,  I'm sure I could get away with NOT being all that thankful,  but all in all I still am.  After the calorie-fest that is thanksgiving,

it is finally time for me to go get my heart re-wired.  Sitting here the night before getting a probe threaded up into your heart can make a person look back in a very "Thanksgiving like" frame of mind.  Even with getting slapped with yet another heath issue,  and getting the cross season I put off all LAST season pretty much ripped out from under my legs AGAIN,  I still have little to be that mad about.  All in all things are OK,  and while I miss racing,  it is "just a hobby" and I got "participate" a bit and keep from loosing my mind.

Tomorrow I'm off to see if the Docs can fix my "broken" heart,  and get me back on track to ride,  both on the mountain bike and for next cross season.  I am looking at a great reward for myself,  If I can get back to racing.  Everyone needs a carrot to pull them past the hard parts of life,  and I have mine.

Some might question how much being able to ride and race as poorly as I do could mean so much to someone.  The truly competitive "cat 2" types out there probably can't understand why middle of the pack Cat 4-45+ finishes could really mean so much to anyone,  why it occupies so much of one's thoughts.   Some out there will understand how much riding and racing bikes,  even with such mediocrity can mean to someone.  

I am backed up by an amazing group of friends & teammates,  and a strong & loving wife.  This makes it all easier,  and makes me strive,  not only to ride & race to my ability,  but to strive to get back "into the saddle" and be there for them,  to be worthy of that support.

I'll be back soon,  and by January I plan on starting to ride,  and ride HARD again.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


There was participation again.   May well have been my season Championship event.  It's pretty weird to "race" your bike,  without going too hard or getting your heart rate up too high,  but I think I scratched my once-again denied CX itch for the year,  and did it without a stroke or heart attack,  so I feel pretty content.

I went to MUCCY,  the Mile High Urban Cyclocross Chaos race in near-downtown Denver.  If you follow 303 Cycling you might have seen a bit of the buzz about this race.  It was by far one of the most fun,  creative,  inspiring and generally upbeat bike races I have ever been to.   While Colorado has a likely well deserved reputation for taking it's Cyclocross maybe a bit too "serious",  and focusing on the racing & results more than the "fun",  this race shows that there are plenty of people here who can go out and ride hard,  race hard,  yet still keep it a little more low key.  Frankly,  was pretty refreshing.

Fun & Creative?  Totally.  The course was insanely technical,  while at the same time having a great rhythm,  challenging but enjoyable.  What other race have you seen with a custom built cobblestone hill,

Filing cabinets for course markers,

and containers as course elements?
John Deibert Photo

Yann Ropars photo

Not many.
Here,  take a lap…..

Mile High Urban CX Chaos from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

Tandems,  Fat bike categories,  and a race for adaptive athletes filled out the menu for a unique day.    The adaptive athletes were INCREDIBLE,  riding the same course as the able-bodied racers,  with minor modifications and a few people stationed to help on request.

Bo Bickerstaff Photo

Bo Bickerstaff Photo

They pushed themselves and their machines hard enough to even break one of the hand cycles in half.  Check out this 303 Cycling article for more on one of the most inspiring things I have been lucky enough to witness in my life.  These dudes are incredible athletes.

While all that was a good start to a great event,  the general attitude & vibe took it over the top.  The HPM team decided that with an 8:30 or 9:30 AM start, the Men "C" and Men "B" races need an appropriate morning beverage hand up service,  and we provided beermosas (yes,  the REAL ones,  PBR-based…) in champagne flutes during those races.
John Debert Photo

John Deibert Bar-cam frame grab

 I was even forced to cut off the leader of the "B" race,  as he was just plain taking too many of them.  Had to spread the refreshment out to more riders.
Bo Bickerstaff Photo -

Later in the afternoon,  more "traditional" hand ups prevailed,  with the Frites & Mayo and Natural Way Racing teams taking over the hand up duties admirably.  I made sure to go out of my way to partake,  as can be seen here:

John Deibert Photos

From Miller High Life to Modello,  the top of "Mount Taxi" was well stocked with a couple of cases and plastic shot glasses,  even though some preferred more than a shot.
Pedal Dancer Photo - of me - used without permission please forgive me

Others stopped for a chat with the hand ups.
John Deibert Photo

Outside of the drinking and Heckling there was food,  hula-hooping,  donut hand ups,  and the usual large HERD of kids racing & hanging out.
John Deibert photo

I really just can't say enough good things about this race.  I suggest putting this on the top of your race list for next year,  whether a serious points chaser or hand up taker.  THIS was one fun day at the races.  Many thanks to the Whole bunch of folks who made this happen.  Well Done!
Just go DO this race next year.  You will not regret it.

With all the frivolity,  there was still bike racing,  and I even managed to NOT be last,  in either the "C" race or the Fat bike race.   That borrowed fat bike might have been a problem…

These things are a lot of fun,  and I think I may need one.  Some winter snow rides would seem to be appropriate use of my winter ride time.   Hmmmm.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I did something quite unusual this last weekend.    I "raced" my Cyclocossing-bike in a Cyclocross-like event.  Maybe more like "Participated" with a number pinned on my back.  After coming to grips with the reality that racing was NOT a good idea,  I pulled the plug on racing this year.  Course,  I was pretty much going out of my mind,  being at the Cyclo-X Xilinx race and around the team,  watching people race and not riding.

Since the Blue Sky Cup race at Xilinx was a few blocks from my house,  I decided I had to at least get on my bike and ride.  While RACING with my Heart Arrhythmia would be pretty stupid,  PARTICIPATING while keeping the heart rate knob off that "11" setting would probably be OK.

Turns out that Cross hurts a lot,  even when you keep your heart rate at 80% or so of your threshold.  Turns out you have to let most of the field ride off into the sunset without a fight when you keep that tachometer WAY under the redline for the whole race.  Funny enough,  if you keep it at that "lower limit" and keep it steady,  you can still wear down some people,  and not get DFL while you have a pretty good time.

Blue Sky Cup 13 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

It is pretty different doing (err…  Participating in…) a Cross race while NOT in my normal state of tunnel-vision-anaerobic-red-haze-pain-cave-suffering.   You see and hear a lot of things I usually just don't see from my sensory deprived state while racing.  You can heckle people back,  actually hear their "witty" commentary,  and even interact with said spectators.

I also tended to think better during the race (err…  participation-like thing…).  I even realized quickly that since I was not jumping the infamous "mini-barriers" with a whole lot of margin or much style,  I decided mid-race to quit hopping,  avoid this:

And stay off Johnny D's highlight reel:

Barrier Bloopers - Blue Sky Velo Cup highlights from John Deibert on Vimeo.

All in all a lot of fun,  even for a cripple.   Enough fun that I am now going to "Participate" in the Mile High Urban CX Chaos race this Sunday.  While still a race,  it also looks a bit less intense than a normal Colorado race,  looked like fun from last year,  and seemed like a good excuse for a party/race,  err.…  participation.    The Natural Way guys are involved,  it has a rooftop Lagunitas beer garden overlooking a sand pit,   and it seems bobcats and cobblestones are involved in course building.  What is not to like?

Since this race is using  it allows the use of one of my favorite Internet tools.  The cross race predictor.  It is showing a solid mid-pack pre-result in the "C" race,  against a stacked field of Natural Way guys.

And as a bonus,  they are running a Fat Bike race.  I am borrowing one of those pigs just for the occasion.   I even look to have a shot at a podium in that race….

Look for a few of the High Peaks Masters down there.  We're planning on Beer-mosa hand ups.  Keep your eyes out for 'em.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Long Days

Nope,   not now,  what with the daylight savings dark-fest bearing down on us.    I am speaking of the day (and Night..) spent helping put on the Cyclo-X Xilinx race on Saturday.  I seem to be able to block out the long days and just plain work that goes into doing a race.  (Might well be a post describing the process in the future here...)

Couple of the team put in a full day,  and a couple of hours the night before to help the WOL gang put on the race.  Couple of hours Friday night putting in stakes and some weed-whacking.  Then a nice sprightly start to that long day with a 5:30 AM tape-stringing session.

Fortunately for us,  They have this race setup thing down to a science,  and it's not too bad to put together.  With me not racing (Wah!),  I spent my day "patrolling" the course,  fixing tape and smashed posts,  while heckling and shooting some video with the Go-Pro.   Got to see a lot of good racing,  and just made me even MORE annoyed with not being able to flog myself into a drooling pile of putty.    Still,  good to be part (A small part) of one of the biggest and best races of the year.

That long day,  and no racing kept me away from what I knew would be the most interesting race of the year,  the Zombie cross from the Frites & Mayo guys.  From what I see,  it looks like I missed THE party race of the year.  Sigh.   Once again,  I raise my new mantra...  "Next Year!"

Not much of a surprise there.   Gotta say,  doing a cross race in roller skates is,  well,  pretty damn cool.

Once again,  I have some stand-in race video from Xilinx.  35+ Cat3 Rubbin & Racin From John D.   Have at it.   Enjoy the daylight savings time change!

CycloX Xilinx 2013 highlights 10-26-2013 from John Deibert on Vimeo.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Redneck Wednesday Worlds

Boulder has it's "famous" Wednesday Worlds Cyclocross Training ride.

Up here in NotBoulder,  we gots us "Redneck Wednesday Worlds".

Long may it live.  Join us for a lap.....

Redneck Wednesday Worlds from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Just plain Poop.  (the more polite version of what I really think....)

Wrapping my head around not being able to race...  Again... this season.  And it basically sucks.  Rocking new race bike hanging forlornly on a hook.  Me not wanting to ride at all.  yuk.

Course,  racing goes on,  and while I was out of town for the Boulder Cup weekend,  life,  and racing went on.  Even have a video from the Colorado Cross Classic,  kindly shared by my teammate John Deibert.

CO Cross Classic 10-12-2013. Highlights from SM35+3 race from John Deibert on Vimeo.

Decided to go ahead & let the Docs snake & zap my heart.  No other real choice,  unless I want to take up X-Box instead of Cross.  Was THINKING I'd run in,  get it done,  recover,  and maybe get in the last few weeks of cross season.  NOT.   Have to wait till December 3rd to get snaked.  That plus a month of recovery makes it official.  I'm done for the year.   Looks like my only cross outlet is designing fiendishly nasty courses for the "pleasure" of others on our Wednesday "Not Boulder" CX training races.  It's ALL I have (Said in a plaintive tone....and sad face)

I CAN ride (at lower heart rates..),  and COULD start lifting weights,  doing Core,  and all that "Off-Season" kind of stuff bike racers CAN do.  Might even do it .  Right now I seem to prefer whining & complaining over pro-active activities.  Sure that will change as I work thru my stages of grief.

Next weekend,  the team gets to help put on one of the "big" races of the year,  the Without Limits episode at Xilinx.   Working with the WOL guys is great,  and we have some nice upgrades to the course in the works.  These guys are always looking to improve,  and are open to all kinds of suggestions.  Will be a pleasure to help them put that race on again.  Hope you ALL come down & race.  Love to see you there.

For now,  I'm back to my old rallying cry...  "Next Year!"

Monday, October 7, 2013

Back to Broken

Denial is an amazing thing.  You can block almost anything out of your mind,  and take what you KNOW is going to happen,  and thru the magical power of denial,  block it out,  and all is good.     I can do this with the best of them,  and managed over the last few weeks to pull off an incredible denial act.   Like always,  that ugly bitch reality eventually shows up and kicks you squarely in the nuts.

Normally,  on a Monday,  I'd be uploading some video,  and trying to write some (Semi) clever race report.  I would have been up in Frisco,  playing out my carefully planned Cup Points whoreing strategy (And with only 16 guys in the beer-loving-grandpas league up there,  it would have worked like a charm,  I might add...).  Even getting over the pounding that racing both days will put on your hide.  Instead,  I'm having to write about having most,  or maybe ALL my Cross season taken away from me.  Again.

Maybe I'll just hang myself.  Hmmm,   maybe Course tape is not the best option for that.
Courtesy of Bo Bickerstaff -

Planned on racing Frisco,  and Primalpalooza.  Pre-registered,  room in Summit county friday night,  the works.  Instead,  a visit with one of my fleet of Doctors swept my denial out the window in one quick little consult.    Also might well have swept me racing this season out along with my denial.  Basically,  I'm broken.  Again.

All started back in February,  just as I was finishing up the Chemotherapy for my Hairy Cell Leukemia "outbreak".  As soon as I got on the bike,  and started to go hard,  I was feeling & seeing episodes of VERY high heart rates (More than 200 BPM) on some rides.  Quick jump,  then a recovery,  if I stopped the effort.  Usually happened if I was doing HARD efforts,  intervals or hill repeats and the like.  Tachycardia this kind of thing is called.  Sometimes can feel a bit funny when these start,  usually just see the high heart rates on the monitor.

Pretty unnerving.  Oncologist was not overly worried but thought a Cardiologist should give me a once over.   One "Stress" EKG and a Cardiac Ultrasound later,  I had no answers,  but did get my first warning that continuing to set these "events" off was "probably not good".  Hmm.  Denial Phase 1.  Was not just going to give up on training and racing after loosing last years cross season to the Hairy Cell,  and the opinion of a cardiologist who thought WALKING me on a tread mill would get my heart rate to his "Stress" target of 140 BPM (Mentioning that I WARM UP for efforts at higher rates than that had no effect...).  Was not impressed with his opinion,  so kept training and riding hard.

Sought out ANOTHER cardiologist,  and was able to find one who at least understood I was not a 75 Year old bon-bon-eating sloth.  He understood we would need to capture full EKG data DURING one of these events to figure out the problem.  Not all that easy to do when you need to be on a bike doing bleed-from-the-ear efforts.  Except that the medicos happen to have a cute,  portable,  recording 5 lead EKG,  kind of like your basic heart rate monitor on steroids.   Got one of these things,  and was able to catch a bunch of the Tachycaria events in the 24 hours they gave me the Holter Monitor for.   Nice,  svelte,  high tech packaging on this thing,  eh?  Maybe they should show Garmin how to package a heart rate monitor.

Cardiologist number 2 looks at my data,  kinda like downloading to Strava,  and basically lets me know that "yep,  your heart rate goes abnormally high"  and I have "some kind of Tachycardia/Arryhmia".    Wow.  Since that is why I went to Both First and Second Cardiologist,  THAT was some useful information.  Turns out there are 2 kinds of Cardiologists.  Mechanical/Plumber-type Cardiologists,  and the Electrical kind of Cardiologist.  Now Cardiologist number 2 (Mechanical) sends me to even MORE specialized Cardiologist (Pardon me,  Electrophisiologist...) Number 3,  the electrical malfunction guy.  Also Mentions it was "probably not a good idea" to ride hard or race.  (Where have I heard that?)

Meanwhile,  with my denial in FULL swing,  I continue to train and race.  Doing pretty well for me,  getting 6th place in Zero Gravel Cross,  WHILE having the Tachycardia events for a good chunk of the race.  Denial again,  including ignoring and/or telling my beeping "high Heart rate alarm" to F&%K off,  I'm in a race.

Pretty strange with the level-shift on that heart rate.  Did not really slow me down much.  Feeds the Denial.  Keep riding,  riding hard,  and racing.  Then I get to Number 3's office last Thursday.  He has at least a diagnosis.  Atrial Tachycardia.  The "better" kind,  originating in the upper chambers of the heart,  and NOT the kind that just randomly kills you.  So THAT'S good.    BUT (they always have a but...),  it will probably NOT go away,  and continuing to trigger these events (remember,  little things like RIDING MY BIKE) has a significant chance of leading to permanent Heart damage and or a Heart attack.

Well,   OK then.  NOW denial is having a bit of a problem.   Kinda well beyond the "Bad Idea" advice,  and right into the this is going to REALLY hurt you phase.    Denial comes crashing down.  Reality takes it's place.  Ouch.

Well.  So riding hard is pretty much out.  Can you treat this?  The now terminally depressed patient asks.    Three treatment options,  Number Three says.

1 - Stop doing what triggers it.  (NOT my favorite option)
2 - Drugs.  Ones that permanently limit your heart rate,  even with exercise,  AND make you feel like shit.  (Wow,  getting better & better here.....)
3 - Radiofrequency Ablation.  Threading a catheter from your thigh,  into your heart.  Triggering the event WHILE the sensor probes are in the heart,  then "Burning Out" the offending nerves,  etc. that cause the "misfire"  (neat...)

There is even a video on the Boulder Community Hospital website of my favorite Number Three talking about this stuff.

 Well Gee.  That all sounds GREAT.   Don't really want to quit riding & take up video games.  Not liking drugs that would make me suck MORE while riding AND feel like crap.  Not real thrilled with another "Invasive Procedure",  but sure not looking like a lot of choices.

For now,  It seems as if I am OUT of the cross season AGAIN.  At least for now.  Am off to LosAngeles for a wedding this week,  so that will be the time to think,  zero in & decide what to do.  Seems like I'll get snaked.  That leads to a month of "No High Heart Rate" recovery.  Yea.  Great.  Lovely.

I DID transition from denial to whining and heavy drinking.  Neither seemed to fix the issue either.  Damn.

Feel like I'm whining here,  but I really needed the venting.  It sucked ENOUGH to loose cross last year.  was JUST getting fully fired up for THIS season.  Thanks for listening,  and stay tuned.  This medical shit makes for GREAT stories.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Back to The Reality

Reality bites.    After a couple of "unusually" good races for this slow old guy,  started to think I was BACK.  You know,  able to race,  to get in there.  

And then came Flatirons.  Oh,  Yea.  NOW I remember.  I ain't much of a bike racer after all.

LONG,  sucking hills in velcro grass.   STEEP run ups (oh,  yea,  and TWO of them a lap....).  Yep,  everything I can't really do in a Cross race.   Nothing like that to put one back right in their place.

Really,  it was not THAT bad,  I had a crappy start,  and really could not move up too much because of  my inability to put out enough watts on the hills,  but all in all,  not a complete disaster.  27th place is not the end all of suckitude by any means,  but sure not where the last 2 weeks had left me.  

Outside of the 2 run ups and the seemingly endless climb up boggy grass,  the race was a full on hoot.  LOTS of off camber and twisty bits to make it a challenge.  Sweet drop off the start drag on the grass,  with a mildly scary looping drop to the bottom that seemed to give a lot of folks a hard time.  Killer hard uphill switchback,  and some ROUGH,  fast descents almost made up for the gagging,  tounge dragging climb.  All in all a good time.

The RaceRite lap timing is pretty cool,  besides being able to watch your friends & teammates times WHILE THEY RACE on your phone,  seeing each lap time on all the races lets you see when you had "problems" during the race.  Mine showed a solid,  consistent 3 laps while I struggled to stay on the back of a group.  After that group broke up,  and I sagged off the back,  I had 2 laps that were almost 20 seconds a lap slower,  before getting woken up on the last lap by a hard chase behind me.  Got back up to my first lap times on that last one.  Stupid lap times let you see when you "drift off" and start slacking a little bit.  It takes just a HINT of backing off to start loosing a LOT of time.

This weekend brings a return of the joy that is Frisco.  Cross at 9K.  Again,  not really my course,  but thinking I'll do the double this coming weekend,  since I have to miss the Boulder Cup/Colorado Cross classic weekend the next.  Have to skip 2 good races,  all for the joys of a visit to wonderful Los Angeles.  However,  Frisco might put enough hurt on me to last that 2 weeks.

This week My seat-cam is a bit short.  Some idiot forgot to clear the memory card prior to the race,  so he ended up with only about 4 minutes of the race.  At least it was not one to loose any sleep over.  Have at it.

Cyclo-X Flatirons - Men 45+ cat 4 - 9/28/13 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back to the Bubble

Once again,  it was back to the stairs & berms at Valmont.  The First real Cyclo-X (renamed Boulder CX Series) race went down Saturday.  Surprisingly,  the fields were not HUGE,  but looks like still over 600 riders.   The Jr. Men 10-12 field had 39 riders,  one more than my 45+ 4 field.  GREAT to see all the kids,  and the level of skill,  aggression,  and bike handling of the kids is just off the charts.  Really fun to watch these days.  Women 4 is also pulling big numbers.  Looking good for another busy and packed cross season.

For the Morning races,  it was hero dirt,  milking the last of last week's "biblical" rainfall moisture out before it got dry and dusty later in the afternoon.  After coming off a VERY surprising result in last weeks "Grand Return" to racing after a year of health-driven sloth,  I was quite curious if the previous weeks result was a fluke,  or strictly driven by the muddy,  "driving" oriented course.  While I like the Valmont courses (Except for that F&*&%^ double set of stairs...),  It's never been the best course for me.  The vertical and stairs were never kind to my scrawny,  no power self.

In the end it seems that I have come back with more fitness than I ever expected.  Had a good race,  managing to move up into 4th place in the first lap after a second row call up (THANK you points from Zero Gravel Cross...) before fading back in the second lap,  then going back and forth in a HARD race to finish in 14th place.   Pretty good for me,  and FAR better than my last pre-Chemo season.  Good to see I can still get over the chemo nonsense and still be able to get back in shape.  

Right now I am pretty psyched about racing again.  I had a lot of trepidation going in,  which manifested as not much motivation.  That is changing quick.  Between the sudden and total demise of local mountain biking availability and decent results might well lead to a neurotic fixation on cross here.  Time will tell.

Did run the GoPro this week   and here is the first lap.  Lots of fun racing,  and was cool to be up front, even if just for that one lap.   Sadly will not make the John Hailey driven,  Without Limits production in Castle Rock next week,   I am planning on the grassy sidehills at Flatiron Cyclo-X.   Here we go.... 

Cyclo-X Valmont 2013 - 45+ cat 4 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Return

I managed my "triumphant" return to racing Cyclocross this last weekend.  Returning to the insanity that is cross after a long absence brought home a couple of points with startling clarity.

Racing Cross is a blast.

Racing Cross in the mud is even MORE of a blast.

Racing Cross still hurts.  

A Lot.

So after a week of virtual inactivity from the monsoonal rain we had,  and a pretty hit or miss ability to actually leave my neighborhood due to closed roads,

I was able to evacuate SouthWest "Not-Boulder" last Saturday on roads that JUST re-opened after the INSANE flooding up here in the north.  Pretty strange to weave thru closed roads,  hunting for bridges that remained intact,  looking at flooded fields and houses half underwater,  then heading off a few miles later into what seemed totally unaffected and normal.  Very strange,  to say the least.  Hooked up with a teammate & headed down to Littleton for the "Zero Gravel Cross",  which actually lived up to it's name.

Compact & twisty course around a big church.  Dry,  it might have been a bit on the short & boring side,  but racing in the muddy morning got us "Beer-Drinking-Grand-Dads"  (Not sure what to call a 45+ cat 4....) prime muddy-tacky-gloppy-slimy-rutted goodness.  My kind of course,  pretty flat and twisty,  and with the goo,  EXACTLY what I do well on.    Given all my recent issues,  not racing for a year,  and general aging,  I had no expectations or goals.  I did not even put the Go-Pro on,  thinking I might well be so far out of it as to be boring and/or embarrassing to have video of my "glorious return"

Turns out it went REALLY well,  the conditions playing well into my strengths,  the driving,  not power/go fast stuff.   Ended up FAR ahead of where I thought I might be,  in 6th place.  Keeping it steady and smooth,  I just seemed to wear people down,  and along with noticing and jumping on a less obvious line early in the race when you could pass a lot of people with less effort got me up there.  I did not even realize I was that far up,  spending the whole race thinking I was back in the teens.  Not racing and the effort to stay upright kept me from any awareness of where I was in the line.  Strange.

Good result or not,  I can tell you that after you have had one of your passions taken away from you,  when lousy diseases keep you from going out and doing what you love,  coming back to it is so very,  VERY sweet.  Hearing Larry G notice I was back out racing & welcome me back to the fold just about made me cry mid race.  The suffering was sweet,  the racing fun,  the atmosphere even better than I remembered.  

It's good to be back.