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.