Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas, Birthday, and Still Not on the Bike

Kind of let some time slip by since my last entry so here's a Reader's Digest catch up:

Lots of time away from the bike, although I have ridden with Dale a couple times short and easy. Not a real strong desire to get back in a serious mode, so I am holding off until I feel the need (especially since it is all play until August).

Christmas with the Appleby side of the family was 'different' this year as Jake got sick the night before we were to get together so we ended up having our gift exchange at the SGF Holiday Inn. It actually was pretty fun and everything worked out great.

Office party at the Metropolitan Grill was great and followed up at Green Leaf for a topper. Jim surprised us with an IPad, which was awesome (and a bummer all at the same time). A couple days earlier I purchased a 'tablet/e-reader' for Deb and now there was no need for it as the IPad does the same thing (except on steroids over the one I purchased). No big deal as I returned my gift and Jake and I did some last minute shopping and ended up getting Deb some great stuff anyway.

Jones Christmas went pretty smooth with a couple days spent at mom and pop's house with Jim's (my bro) crew. Temps got pretty darn chilly, but the 'potential' snow and ice never developed.

Christmas eve is always a fun one at our house even with the boys getting older. The usual 'sugar cookie' baking for Santa was done and everyone pitched in. This was the last year Ian will believe in Santa, although he was pretty much wise to us but didn't want to admit it just in case...

So Deb and I get to sleep super late after getting things ready and I was looking forward to a good night's sleep when at 3AM the lights come on and there is Ian (amped to the 100th degree) ready to rip open some presents. We convinced him it was to early, he crawled in bed with us, and then Jake appears (woken from Ian's outburst) and says "we might as well do it since we're all up" so after a short deliberation we are all up and to the Christmas tree to see what was delivered. After the reading of Luke (the true Christmas story) everyone ripped in. Around 4AM Deb and I staggered to bed; Jake did likewise while Ian cranked up the Madden '11 and got to business.

Woke up around 9:30am and Ian was still going strong, but now with NBA Live '11. Deb's Monkey Bread was top notch this year and got me through the morning. The rest of the day was perfect with lots of lounging in PJ's until late afternoon, watching some Christmas classics on the tube, playing tons of games, and eating lots of great food. On the downside the boys got me Modern Warfare Black Ops so I can kiss any hopes of sleep goodbye for at least two weeks (I love these series of games), but on an up note feel comfy and cozy in your beds knowing I am defending this nation from those digital images who test our resolve...

Sunday after church we (Deb, Jake, Ian, and Andie) met Jim and Linda for a movie afternoon. The adults took in True Grit (great remake and JBridges is incredible) while the kids caught Narnia. Afterwords I pounded some crab legs for an early b-day feast at 'the lobster'.

Now it's Monday, Dec 27th and I turned 43 today. I don't feel 43 (at least what I envisioned 43 being when I was younger) so that's a good thing. Birthdays get to me a little, but not near as bad as it was a couple years ago. I had a super 'cross season and physically I feel as good as when I was in my 20's (just takes a little bit longer to recover...).

Starting to get itchy to be back on the bike, which that was what I was waiting for. The temps are supposed to be nice toward the end of the week, but rain in forecasted so we'll see if I hold off til January 1 or jump back this week. I don't have anything really significant race wise in late winter/early spring outside of routine mtb races so I am in no hurry to drill it on the trainer/rollers, but will start soon enough.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Killing Time (and starting to freak out)

It's Friday, six days since I last straddled the Blue, and I'm already bouncing off the walls to do something cycling related; yes I still work my core and play basketball but not the same. I say this because every year after the last 'cross race I break down all my bikes for maintenance and don't re-build until Jan 1. I do this to to give myself a mental and physical break and avoid burnout by March... It's worked great in the past, but for some reason I don't feel tired or ready for down time so I'm going to keep the mtb together and get in some fun trail time for the remainder of December. Deb already asking if there isn't some place I can go and ride/race, which means I'm getting irritable (sorry sweetheart).

Speaking of Deb, I want to thank her so much for letting me disappear weekend after weekend for the last three months while I played 'racer'. You are awesomely patient and I can't imagine too many other wives letting a husband do what you let me do - THANKS!!!! ***I should just copy this section and keep it to 'paste' throughout 2011***

The Year in Review is pretty uneventful for the most part, but here's the highlight:

- Ran SwampStomper 25k with Jake in Memphis (3rd year) in January
- Hung up the running shoes and hopped on the bike
- Handful of mountain bike races coming up
- Broke arm riding with Ira in Arkansas and riding is done for six weeks
- Bored out of my mind, but started riding one-armed on the trainer
- Finally raced (in May) at local Waffle event
- Played catch up and got my butt handed to me at The Breakthrough races
- Still building speed/strength but suffered at Tour of Lawrence
- Got to know SRAM warranty dept (a couple of times)
- Local road (Waffle - St John's boys) and mtb short track series (A&B crew) was a blast and got me moving with some fire in the belly
- 'Cross starts great but mechanical @ Hermann left me frustrated (and camperless)
- Traveled to KC area most weekends and once to STL
- Raced better than have in years so I did a lot of Open/A and 2/3 events.
- Tulsa was a blast, but dusty and tons of flats
- STL is... STL (lame courses compared to west coast, but fast dudes)
- Jingle Cross is incredible (a staple from now on) and first REAL course/conditions requiring bike handling, which worked out well for me
- Disappointing flat legs at State and finished well off the leaders
- Had my share of 'mechanicals' this year with some user error and others fluke stuff

THE MOST FUN I'VE HAD IN YEARS RACING MY BIKE and also got to know some new quality fellow racers!!!!!!

Upcoming 2011 looks to follow the path of the last couple years with mtb'ing late winter/spring, shifting to crit racing late spring/summer killing time until the FOCUS ('cross). Trying to figure out some finances to allow purchase of a 29er single speed for mtb'ing, but that is a far reach.

MWI has some exciting news coming out in the following weeks and I look forward to another year as part of the Jackalope Herd (don't know if 10 is a herd, but you get the idea).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Down When It Counts...

Yesterday was the MO State Cyclocross Championships in KC (specifically E.H. Young Park - same location as Boss Cross #1). I had hoped for a more 'technical' course or one with tougher conditions (i.e. Rain, snow, or mud) as I do not excel on dry fast courses and as it turns out precipitation all week was 0% and sure enough it was lightening fast.

The Cat 3 field was pretty loaded with the likes of A Wiens, P. Kraus, J. Schilling, K. Ricke and a handful of others from STL whom I didn't know and the win could come from any of us. My money was on A Wiens as he had been killing it all season, but he was a KS resident which left the MO Champ still open. For this I figured P. Kraus and J. Schilling would be at the front end of it along with myself (at least I had hoped).

MO State was a focus for my season, as one would expect, and all week I did the right things to recover from three days racing in Iowa (Jingle Cross) the weekend prior and keeping some snap in the legs with lite efforts. Monday was rest, Tuesday was a lite 1 hr spin on the trainer, Wednesday a lite basketball session to get the HR up some followed with a lite 45 spin on the trainer, Thursday was spent on the SBU 'cross course for 1:30hrs with a handful of efforts, and Friday was a lite ride with some quality openers. I had done all the right things with food and sleep and frankly I felt really good going into Saturday; even prepped the bike with new cables (much needed after Iowa) and she was shining and spinning great.

Friday evening was a late game at The Courts for Ian's b-ball crew which didn't turn out so great as we got beat again (2-4 so far). Ian played solid as always, but a couple of our quality kids from last year don't seem very into it this year and that's where we are getting beat. Not too big of a deal as they are 9 yrs old with many years to go... 9 years old, I can't even remember what I was doing then, but I assure you it wasn't competitive sports at Ian's level.

Since I didn't race until 2pm Saturday morning Deb and I snuck in a Brenda's breakfast before picking up Dale and his daughter Mary for the cruise to KC. Dale (Cat 4 - 40+) and Ira (single speed) raced at 1pm. When we arrived and opened the car doors we found it pretty chilly out (car showed 35*), but what made it brutal was the freaking freezing wind blowing!

Got in a good warm up while Dale defended his Boss Cross lead (the orange jersey staying in SWMO) and nabbed the state champ jersey in his category. Ira raced the single speed in proper 'SWMO attire' for the first time and he finished well.

Front row call up with the usual suspects (minus Peter) and off we go... Quickly slid into third or forth place for the first lap without much trouble and then to third wheel as A Wiens was riding away (he's a KS guy so it was no big deal). I hooked up with K Ricke, who had been riding well all season, but he was not pushing the pace like I hoped and before I knew it a long line of contenders were on us. The next couple of laps I lead some and set in some to see how things were going. For the first time of the 'cross season for some unknown reason I was not 'clean' through the dismounted sections which is usually my strength; I kept clipping wheels over the barriers and mishandled my bike several times during the runs (what the heck, this was not good). A Hub guy (MO resident) had rolled off the front and had a little gap on us, but nothing I thought that couldn't be brought back. After a lap or two (half way thru) it was two STL guys, Peter K, Cam Rex, and I chasing the Hub racer (turned out to be Rock Wamsley - a solid mtb'er) until I started losing power in my legs... uh oh! The group would gap me on the open power sections and I would rejoin on the tighter twistier stuff, but that didn't last long before they gaped me and I couldn't bring it back. With 3 to go I focused on one of the STL guys (Sam Moore) who had dropped of the group ahead and with with 1/2 lap to go I caught and passed him to finish 6th on the day and 4th in the MO standings. Rock took the state jersey (and second overall) while Peter was third on the day and second in MO; J Schilling finished 5th and 3rd in MO.

Frustrating to have only my second 'off' day of a 20 race season on the one that mattered the most and for the life of me couldn't figure out why my technical/dismounted stuff felt so out of place - weird! After a little 'pout' time I got to thinking about the season as a whole how it was hugely successful and all the fun over the past 2 1/2 months. It was a solid field and the best guys won/placed high - congrats to them.

Loaded up the crew, took out my disappointment at Gates (helped tons), then headed home - done for the season...

With another day of cold temps on tap for Topeka on Sunday I licked my wounds (oddly enough I have a major gash on my mid-thigh and a large contusion on my Achilles that I don't remember happening) and called it a season. I have no doubt A Wiens will take care of business and make it two to two (good luck, bro).

Later in the week I'll knock out a season recap and 2011 outlook.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jingle Cross Weekend

Holy Cow, where to start?!?!?!

Saturday morning bright and early I headed north and met Crusty in KC for our trip to Iowa City, IA for my first time to Jingle Cross Rock - three days of racing.

Arrived on site and the first and foremost issue was the freaking cold temps (mid 20's). First time meeting the Wisco side of MWI (and they are a great crew - fun and more fun). Mike and Jess has our tent area dialed in and so nice to have a warm/wind blocked place to prep. Took a quick tour of the course (on foot first) and it was all pretty straight forward except the descent of Mt. Krumpet; steep, turny, and slick. Kitted up and took a pre-ride and the only issue was finding a line down Krumpet, which I actually found a line to my liking and felt pretty confident in my ability to ride down (and not run like most).

Time to line up and this year they split the 2s and the 3s for results purposes and had us (Cat 3's) go 30 seconds after the 2s. Both Crusty and I were on the front row and we had a good start with me taking the initial hole shot and Crusty sliding to the lead after the first set of turns. I was sitting third wheel for a bit then put in an effort and took to the front again as someone clipped Crusty's wheel taking him out of the race (literally rolled his tubie and took a ground shot to his shoulder). From there on it was pretty much trying to hold on as crazy fast guys were blowing by me on the flat straights only for me to catch most on the descent as I rode it every time clean (except for one bobble when a guy crashed in front of me). With the race only 40 minutes (used to going an hour) I didn't make enough of an effort early on to stay close to the leaders and finished 9th (official results posted Friday night had me at 9th, but Saturday I looked again and I was 11th - not sure what changed).

Fun tough race climbing Krumpet and finally (with the exception of HPT) got to race on something other than dry grass.

During the Pro race I pitted for Andrew Coe who was taken down at the start. limped in for his pit bike, and then went about reeling folks in to finish in the 20's (great work for first UCI pro race). It is crazy impressive how fast the top riders fly!

***The following clip was during the Pro race and it doesn't show justice to how steep Krumpit actually is and the final pic is a huge sausage handup on the second day during the runup***

Back to the hotel where I shared a room with 'Chili' who is a super fun teammate and one heck of a racer. Diner at a local sports bar and lots of laughs with the whole crew. Ross and Mo were lots of fun. Hit the sack and try to reload for day 2.

After breakfast at Crusty's 'hippie-mart' we all headed over to a slightly warmer (low 30's) course and after a 'walk' around the course I had a little bit of a smile going. Saturday's course was loosening up more and even the slightest bit of climbing was super hard to find a line that didn't slip and slide all over the place, but after watching some of the masters I got a feel for what I thought would work (and it did later). Additionally, there was a super long, steep, and muddy run up to get to the top of Mt. Krumpet (with more climbing once back on the bike) with a super fun and fast descent. I like anytime off-the-bike running/climbing is in play.

Second row start and I didn't get off the line well at all and was way back quick. Taking my time and regulating my riding/running at MY tempo I started bring folks back pretty quickly and with two laps to go was well within the top 10 and probably more likely 7th or so when my Egg Beater pedal came off the axle - ARG!!!! Luckily a teammate (thanks Chili) had set his bike in the pit in case I needed it and boy did I. Between the flyover and the pit I lost count of how many passed me. Quick bike change and off chasing. Was able to overtake some who passed and finished 12th (I'll take it considering). I bring extra of everything so I was able to replace the pedal and have it ready for Sunday.
*** Me behind A. Wiens; a familiar sight all year for me ***

Had a ton of fun up on the mount watching the women and men's races as the chaos was brewing and pumping full on.

Chow in the evening with the team and then it was early to bed. Legs started to feel the two days.

Day 3 and the descent down Krumpit was ridiculous (steep and super slick) and decided to bag the good fortune I had so far and not race. Hung out watching other races and with 40 minutes to the start of the Cat 2/3 the officials made an announcement Mt. Krumpet was taken out of the course and a 'short course' would be used. Quick trip back to the team tent and it was go time. Kitted up, warmed up (some), and over to the line for the start...

My best start of the weekend and a good overall race ensued. Legs never really felt fatigued and my driving skills were spot on for the muddy and slippery course; finished 7th (and quite a ways up in the 2's).

After camp breakdown Crusty and I were on the road south and just a little before 10pm I was pulling into my driveway.

Great weekend of racing and hanging out with some fun teammates (and wives). Also got to catch up with some of the local (KC) guys and always enjoy racing/chatting with Andy W (Craig Hoppe - I looked for you and kept missing u). Already looking to make sure I get to Madison and Loouuuvul next year; oh, and Jingle is a permanent fixture on my schedule from here on out.

Lite week on the bike with a handful of buildups on Thursday before MO State Champs in KC this weekend. Hoping for rain and/or difficult conditions to take the advantage away from the 'grass crit' riders and make them actually have to drive a bike. Either way I am feeling fit and ready for what should be a fun and challenging race.

Keith Walberg makes awesome video's and below is his work from Jingle Cross

Jingle Cross Sunday-2010 from Keith Walberg on Vimeo.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stick To the Plan

For the past month I have stuck to my 'plan' leading up to Jingle Cross and MO State Champs and it seems like it's having positive results. So this past weekend was supposed to finish off a hard two week 'last push' big block of training with no racing on the agenda... but, that was before I found out we were heading to a family gathering in STL and Bubba #9 was on the way home (ok a bit out of the way, but none the less do-able). So finish out the solid week and now it's Friday night and I'm bustling around trying to get my race stuff together... wait a minute, this is not what was planned; shake yourself and stick to it. Long and short after that, dropped all my gear and Saturday morning loaded up the family with no riding paraphernalia. Stick to the plan!

After a solid run/ride on Monday I grabbed a 1:40hr tempo ride to Stockton Lake at noon on Tuesday and Wednesday played an hour of basketball and rode a bit after work.

Thursday AM was a solid hour interval session on the trainer before work and at noon I alternated hot/recovery laps on the SBU ball field course for 1:30hrs. Thursday evening Ian and I shot at the gym before enjoying a relaxing evening of vegg'ing in front of the tube.

Friday afternoon I jump out for a couple hour ride on the Frisco Trail. It was crazy windy and the FT provides a great sheltered path for recovery rides. Later that evening we were at The Courts for Ian's game in which we got slaughtered by the best 4th grade team I had ever seen. Our guys didn't play bad, but not really well either; good to have that done and over with. My mom and pop were in attendance and always good to see them there.

Saturday morning we all slept in before heading to STL. Deb's side of the family gathered for a (early) Thanksgiving meal, which Linda and Deb did a great job preparing (especially Linda's apple dumplings). After the evening meal everyone except Ian and I headed to watch Harry Potter at the theater. At age 9 we are still hesitant to take him to shows above his head or that might be a little 'much' for him. That was fine as he and I were on a quest to find a sports bar, er, eatery showing the Spurs game. We never found one, but settled for Indigo Joe's chowing on Nachos and watching the Arkansas .vs. Miss State game. Fun evening hanging out with my little man.

Sunday was pretty much all about Jake as Deb and I took him to the Bodies Exhibition. If you haven't seen this than you need to; it was incredible and absolutely educational. After that we did some shopping for my oldest and hit 5 Guys (hamburger and fries) for a late lunch. Back to Mandee's to snag Ian and hit the road home.

I stepped out of the car at 6:52 and by 7pm I was on the bike for a night ride with Ira and Nate. 30 miles (10 mile lighted loop) in absolutely great temps (bit windy) was a perfect way to finish off the weekend.

A couple of lite rides and efforts this week before heading to northern Iowa for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday racing at Jingle Cross. Temps are looking a bit coolish (ok, stinking cold!!!) and hopefully rain/mud will hold off. I am not expecting to win any of the Jingle races, but do hope to ride at my highest level this year and finish where I may; same with the MO State race as I'd like to be top 5.

Monday, November 15, 2010

HPT Mud Edition and DeStad Cup

Friday evening Deb, Ian, and I kicked back with Clash of the Titans (better than the original, but still lame) while Jake took off for a weekend with his church youth group to a MOG/WOG (Men of God/Women of God) weekend retreat near Clinton, MO. I truly believe God is at work in Jake's life and is using him to reach more kids than my boy realizes. He is quite the inspiration to me to be a better Christian, man, and father.

Saturday's race in Topeka started at 7:45pm so I was in no hurry to leave the casa early. We all slept in and once up Deb and I grabbed a late 'Brenda's' breakfast before returning to finish packing. Around 1pm I hit the road and shortly afterwards got the word Dale was also heading up, but just for the evening and then back home (so no ride sharing this week) while I was racing also on Sunday in Leavenworth.

Stopped off at Sunflower (one of my favorite outdoor shops) to pick up some embrocation and kill a little time as I was way ahead of schedule. As I'll reference later Dave Z's In Heat is a quality product and glad the fine folks at Sunflower recommended it.

Got to the Heartland Park track just as the masters fields were taking off in the cool air. First thing I saw was the mass running into the infield and it took me off guard as this is usually a super fast course using much of the dirt track, but with a bunch of rain the day before the course was altered to what was a mud track. It was not the type of mud the quickly sheds and is loose, but the peanut butter type that clogs everything up. I secretly was smiling inside as I work on my running several times a week and knew I could fare well at foot race. Dale raced the master 50+ and after talking to him he emphasised the importance of knowing when and what to ride and to run keeping a decently clean machine intact.

No one was warming up on the course between races so I snagged some trainer time to loosen up the noodles. I had no idea what to expect as my lead up week was pretty hard (1 more to go) and was simply looking to get another race effort under my belt. As the sun kept dropping it was getting cooler and cooler.

Dale and I chatted after his cat 4 40+ race (he got 2nd) and he let me know about a long water puddle on the backside of the course and it's ability to loosen up jammed mud; filed that away as a reference. I chose to ride my Vittoria tubulars as they are mud-specific (and did a great job hooking up and shedding).

Go to start of my Cat 3 race (we started some seconds behind the open) and get a decent start before descending into the mud. Earlier races had made a slight 'path' through the upper part, but the early infield was still nasty. As we dismounted three riders chose to 'ride it' and got a big gap. I told myself to keep steady, not worry about those in front, and focus on my race. As I anticipated I moved really well off the bike and gaped those behind. Into lap 2 (I was in 4th) two of the 'ahead' riders were on the side of the course digging out mud from their bikes while I ran by (starting to pay off). As the laps progressed I rode the water hole and it worked to keep things moving, but there remained one guy around 20 seconds up on me and I saw that he was still riding most all of the infield and with 3 to go he was 40 seconds up. I said what the heck and started also rode the entire course making sure to hit the water section for 'lubrication'. I never could pull time back on the winner and settled for 2nd with a pretty decent gap over 3rd. That was a tough race not only from a physical standpoint, but you needed to be disciplined in choosing tactics. Tilford was killing it and quite impressive; that being said and not taking anything away from him it was a huge advantage having a pit bike and someone working it for you (just another reason why he's pro and the rest of us are armatures).

The venue luckily had a water hose to spray down the bikes afterwards, but it took over 30 minutes standing in the cold (no longer cool) to get my turn. After a quick cleanup and repacking I sat back and reflected on how nice it was that nothing went wrong or was broken tonight as I've had some hard luck lately. Then I pulled out of the lot to hear a crunch, looked down, and saw I had backed over my helmet!!! Seriously?!?!?!? I had purposefully walked around the truck to ensure I was not forgetting anything, but since my lid is black and there was little light where I parked. Luckily Mike G (teammate) said he would bring an extra the next day. There goes my race winnings... (sigh) Was laughing (via text) with Ira later about all the things I broke this year and it donned on me it included my body (arm in the spring) which is sad.

Pulled into my favorite hotel (Durango Inn), which is the back of my Dodge Durango in a Wal Mart parking lot (probably the biggest SuperCenter I have ever seen). I have spent too many race weekends in this thing to count. It is long enough with the 2nd and 3rd row seats down that I can fully stretch out and with a nice sleep pad and good s-bag it's quite cozy (with my bike and gear inside). Slept until 9am if that tells you how comfy it is - nice.

Up for a quick drive to Leavenworth, KS, specifically St. Mary's University campus and what is my favorite venue. Last year we raced it 3 or 4 times (each one had a different layout) and this, sadly, is it's only use for 2010. As I mentioned in an earlier entry there is so much to work with as far as options and this year didn't disappoint. Lots of climbing, tight flowing turns, off-camber stuff and a couple technical ascents (both ridable if you are a horse, but the long one was a 'runner' for me). Watched a couple races while warming up and was hearing it was tacky and pretty fast so I ran my Hutchinson Piranha's (good bite on the edges and center rolls pretty fast) as at 34mm they glide over stuff instead of sinking/cutting in (I know, 33mm is the UCI limit, but last I checked this wasn't a UCI event). Temps were about perfect for 'cross.

On of the things I have enjoyed the most about this year is the generally good nature of racers and getting to know more and more of them as the weekends go on. Spent some time with Andy Weins (who is on fire) during warm ups, chatted up Tony Stanislav after his race, and met Craig Hoppe on the start line (all good guys).

Legs felt like lead and never loosened up before the start; after a tough training week and a run-fest the night before I didn't expect great things from my body, but what the heck. Mike G (okay, it was actually his bride Kat) came up with an extra helmet for my dome - thanks guys!!!!

Quality 2/3 field (18 or so starters) and a pretty bad start for me. Got tied behind several riders and couldn't seem to get my legs to punch past them when given a chance. Decided to ride smart and give the noodles a chance to come around... and they did after lap 2. I was able to feel some snap and move up quite a few spots, but the leaders were already far and away. I hopped into TT mode and had fun riding the course which had a lot of climbing, but gave enough recovery spots to keep the gas going when needed. After 55 minutes I finished 6th (pretty much were I figured I would be) and later noticed only one other who finished ahead of me (S. Songer) raced the night before.

Below are some shots from Laterne Rouge Roger and from Chris Locke.

Make the uneventful drive home with the traditional stop at the H1N1 factory for the boy's hot pickles. Arrived home around 6:30pm for a super relaxing evening with the crew. Amazing race, some Sunday Night football, and then quickly off to bed.

What a fun and torturous weekend of racing; big thanks (as always) to Deb and the boys for letting me chase my goofy passion for pain and suffering.

One more week of heavy load training and then it all taper from here. Will be heading to STL this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving early with Deb's side of the family and might try to slip in Bubba 'Cross at Mt. Pleasant Winery (a mother of a course similar to Manion's). Other than that it's Jingle Cross in two weeks and then MO/KS State races in three. This has been my most fun season of racing in years and it will be tough when it's over.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Loaded Workouts Week 1

I am not real big on focusing for a particular event during 'cross season as I like to do my best and ride as fast as I can at every one, but this year I am actually hoping to do really well at the Cat 3 MO State Champs in early December. To clarify, 'do really well' pretty much means ride like I do at most other events and if I place high than great and if I don't than not too big of a deal; just glad to race a ton this year. That being said I am in the middle of a big two-week heavy load before a two week taper leading to Jingle Cross and then the MO race a week later.

Monday was pretty laid back with 1:30hrs of basketball (considered light intervals) at noon. Home life was pretty routine with Ian and I shooting hoops after work while Deb power-walked her miles.

Tuesday started with a run and stadium climbs at SBU which prepped the legs for a big long interval session with Dale at noon on the XC course; one of the best workouts of the year so far. After work Ian and I headed off to b-ball practice with the team and got home to Deb's homemade chicken noodle soup with the whole gang (Deb, Ian, Jake, and Andie).

Wednesday early Dale, Nate and I got in a 2hr rode ride and it was much harder than expected (legs were still fried from intervals) as the south wind was brutal. We took old Hwy 13 south (straight headwind) and flew on the return that had me max'ed out several times with my 42x12 with no chance of taking the city limit sign. At noon I hit another basketball 1:30hr session with the crew at SBU which put a fork in me as I was done. Ian and I hit the gym after work and he was on fire.

Thursday was begging for me to take a day off from the bike so I listened. Not much going on at the casa so E and I took in the Heat/Celtics game, which was pretty good.

It rained pretty much all morning today (Friday) and cleared up before noon so I jumped on the bike and hit the ball field loop at SBU for an hour of slip-n-slide driving. Still feeling the heavy early week so I kept it pretty tame with the exception of a handful of openers (for tomorrow's race).

Looking to get in an hour of so ride Saturday morning before heading to Topeka for the night Grand Prix HPT 'cross race; Sunday is the De Stadt Cup event. These are two completely different style courses as Saturday night's is partially on a dirt track and will be crazy fast and Sunday's at St. Mary's University ungulates with tons of options for off-camber, beach runs, cobble climbs... Not expecting to feel super fresh as it's been a tough week, but I'll give it a go. Next week continues another heavy training load.

On a side cycling note Dale and I had to drool over Nate's new C50; it is a thing of beauty! He is building it out piece by piece and having fun in the process (right now the big decision is SRAM Red or Campy Super 11).

Here's a little something I forgot from last Sunday's ride. Heading thru SBU campus when I came upon the group in the picture in full 'knights of the round table' garb and weapons (except these were the foam type). Some had on time era clothing and I was thinking 'what a bunch of dorks' (which had me chuckling) then I got to thinking how someone was probably taking a picture of a couple grown men in spandex still 'riding their bikes' and chuckling to themselves... (not so funny anymore)
With State XC over the District awards were given out this week and it was surprising that with only three races (and none stellar) Jake was given Honorable Mention. Apparently several of the district coaches recognized the effort Jake put forward in leading his team even when not running which was way cool for him. Coach Bandy made a direct reference to Jake being injured in an interview with a local paper and how he was still the driving force/reason behind the boy's team making it to state. Both provided Jake with some positive closure on his senior year of XC. He is talking non-stop to me about killing it on the track this spring and I hope everything clears up so he can compete at his highest level (we will be a beast at the 800 and 1 mile).

Monday, November 8, 2010

You Always Have Choices

So here I am Monday at the end of what was supposed to be another double-up weekend of racing, but after a fluke mishap Saturday afternoon in Lawrence I have no race reports to speak of.

Last week I battled a pretty stiff head cold which sapped most of my energy during the week, but by Friday it had moved out and feeling 'normal' again. Played some basketball at noon to get some spark back in the legs which seemed to work.

Friday afternoon we loaded up the 4th grade Defenders team and headed to The Courts in SGF. The boys played super hard against a much taller team (which is typical since our kids are on the shorter end of it) and won 23-17 pulling our record back to .500. Ian was on fire and knocked down 8-12 jump shots (most from 15ft or deeper) to snag 16pts for his best game yet. He (actually all of us) were on cloud nine for the rest of the evening. Jim and Linda (Deb's parents) was on and after grabbing some eats they took Ian for the night so Deb and I kicked it around SGF for the evening doing a bunch of nothing.

Saturday morning Deb took off with some friends to Jeff City to catch our high school boys and girls compete at the state XC meet. First time in Bolivar history both the boys and girl's teams qualified at the same time - cool. Both teams competed well, but finished way back in the standings with no one earning all-state status. Deb said Jake was in a great mood cheering on his teammates and making the absolute best of the day/situation. They didn't get back home until early evening making for a long day.

I hooked up with Dale mid-morning for a trip to Lawrence, KS for the Joules Cross, a first time event at a new venue. After what is always good conversation we pulled up to the course with plenty of time for Dale to warmup for his 3/4 race while I still had a couple hours until the Open started. Caught up with Mike G and Crusty and a couple others. It was a tad chilly at first, but then the temps lifted and made for great conditions. Did a couple laps pre-race and it was a bumpy mug with some climbing and the dreaded spiral of death (actually made me a little dizzy). Dropped some tire pressure which made it much better and the legs felt pretty frisky. Dale rode well and had a good finish in his first 3/4 race and Crusty was solid.

I lined up with a good field for the Open and after a disastrous start (both feet unclipped early and I had to chase super hard right off the bat) I got in a good flow and felt good on the climbs moving with a Nebraska guy right behind Mike G for the first lap and half way thru the second lap I gapped the Nebraska guy and Josh Taylor to only hear a loud pop and then the chain kept trying to drop off the ring (but the chain keeper wouldn't let it completely drop off). I jumped off to see what happened and quickly saw the spider arm was out of alignment (with a big chunk of paint knocked off the frame, but no damage to the carbon frame itself) and a chainring bolt was sheered off - my race was over after 8 minutes; ARGGGG!!!! The pop I heard was a rock which flipped up into the drive train wedging between the crank spider arm and the seat stay; what a goofy fluke. Initially I was pretty steamed and just needed a little time alone to settle down, but after thinking it all thru I realized it wasn't a life-changing event and mechanicals are inevitable with a sport so rough on hardware. Jake's XC/health situation keeps me in check on how to deal with minor issues; he has taught me a lot which is a way cool deal.

This was the second race in a row with a mechanical issue and the forth of the year: 1st - flat then rolled tubular with 2 laps to go at Hermann, 2nd - flat on loaner wheel in Tulsa in 2nd lap, but was able to race later in the evening and do well, 3rd - jammed shifter last weekend in STL, but was able to ride SS and got in a great workout, and Saturday was the 4th - major bummer because it knocked me out of racing Sunday also.

Back at home early evening and to cheer me up Deb and Linda had a Razzleberry pie (the best mix of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries) in the oven when I showed up. We kicked around the casa a bit before Jim and I put the beating on Deb and Linda in Spades.

Sunday morning I looking to burn some calories (and frustration) so I nabbed a 4 mile run on probably my fastest pace in several years. The temps were perfect for a great AM cruise. Back for church and some grub afterwards before everyone split different ways. Deb and Linda shopping in SGF, Jim and Ian fishing and shooting bb guns, Jake to church youth group, and I with Dale hit a 2:30hr ride on the backroads southeast of town; he on his 'cross and me on the ol' mtb with semi-slicks. It was a solid ride and trying to keep up on my 30lbs+ rig was no easy task; just what I was looking for to kick off a two week block of hard training.

Back home Sunday evening was all about time with the whole family (to include Jake for a change) learning and playing several games of Mah Jong. It was a little overwhelming at first, but after a couple rounds it turned really fun. Afterwards I snuck out to the shop to assess the crank situation and found the spider arm was simply bent out (with the carbon facade cracked off on the sides) and after a light press in the vise it was straight as before and all is functional. Will look into the SRAM crash replacement program soon, but it will work just fine for now. Hindsight I could have fixed this Saturday evening and been ready to go back to Lawrence for Veteran's Cross, but to be honest I had little interest in taking a bouncy beating on that rough course again and all worked out fine.

Looking for a big two weeks of intensity leading up to Jingle Cross in three weeks and then the final tapper/push to MO State Champs. This weekend I'm heading to Topeka Saturday evening for the Grande Prix HPT (crazy fast course) and then to Leavenworth for my favorite location - St Mary's University for the De Stadt Cup on Sunday.

The title of this entry references how easy it would have been to get upset at the situation and blow up on those around and generally feel sorry for yourself or to take it for what it is (a hobby for fun) and let it slide off. Too many times we let situations dictate our lifes instead of our lives dictating situations. After the first ten minutes of anger Saturday afternoon I made a choice to let it go and it made Dale and I's return trip and the weekend much better. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a bit frustrated, but not like I used to get; you know, way back when I was 40...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Midway Through

Last weekend was the 1/2 point for my (and most of our) season with 11 races completed. Deb's been awesome in support of my playing 'racer' most every weekend and it was fun having her at the Bubba #5 on Sunday (couldn't help but smile at her on most every lap). 2010 has by far been the most fun 'cross season of my life and I look forward to this second half. I am riding pretty good and getting faster and only had one 'off' day of racing (Cross Out Cancer) where I couldn't get things going for the life of me. I've had some mechanicals (Hermann and Bubba #5), but nothing that's got me upset as the Blue and supporting components/equipment has done their job. Started racing more and more with the 'big boys' and while I am battling in the back-half of the pack for these hour long events it is making me faster and smarter. For the second half I am mostly looking forward to Jingle Cross in Iowa and then the MO State Champs where I'll give it a go in the Cat 3's. I've got one weekend off before Jingle Cross and all others I am racing both Saturday and Sundays through mid-December (trying to line up something to see my buddy Chad from San Antonio at the TX State Champs in Dallas mid December).

On the way home Sunday night from STL I got a little twinge in my throat and thought little of it until I woke up Monday with a full blown head cold which has sapped 90% of my energy. Guess it is unrealistic to expect to make it through an intense 3 month period without some type of illness/injury so it's not too big of a deal. It did change up my week of training as it was more important to recover and rest my body then to push thru and it seems to be working as I think the bug is on it's way out. Pushing liquids by the gallons and making sure REST is priority.

Monday I took as 100% rest from the double-days of racing. Tuesday was a light 1hr spin as my energy level was tapped out and nose was set at full flow. Wednesday I got in running intervals at noon then a 1:30hrs spin with Ira. Today Dale and I hit bike driving at the city park for 1:30hrs and tomorrow is rest with Saturday and Sunday racing in Lawrence, KS (Joules and Veterans).

Yesterday Nate (fellow Bolivarian) got his Colnago C50 frame, fork, and seatpost in (nude carbon black, red, and white). While I've seen them ride by or in pictures I'd never inspected one up close and holy cow that thing is beautiful. It'll be fun watching him choose the build out components.

On the home front not much is going on now that the remodel dust has settled. Ian and I have hit the gym for team practice and individual shooting around like regular. One thing of particular interest to me is I am without one of our players on Ian's team for this Friday's game and the reason is important. The youngster while being an 'A' student has taken to quite a bit of talking in the classroom and gotten some trouble which was discussed at a recent parent/teacher conference. The parents decided to suspend their son from sports until his actions change and I fully commend them for taking this stance (the same one Deb and I have told my kids we will take) as so many times our society emphasises 'play on the field' takes precedent over school, character development, responsibility... Good on his parents for long-term vision.

Deb has shifted into full on fall/winter cooking spoiling us with an awesome beef stew last night and homemade potato and bacon soup the night before that (ham, beans, and cornbread are on the agenda soon). Jim and Linda (Deb's parents) are in town for the winter which is always fun for all of us.

Next year's shrubs and perennials (even a nice spread of raspberry bushes from my bro) were purchased and planted which probably requires a little explanation. About this time of year Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes... all clean out their inventory of shrubs and I buy a ton of them at crazy low prices ($2 per for what cost $15 in the spring) plant them in a soil enriched area behind my shop and then transplant them as need next spring/summer. I've done this for a couple years now and it works out great. I need to find two cherry trees and get them in the ground soon before winter sets in.

Monday, November 1, 2010

STL Weekend - Bubba 4 & 5, Halloween...

What a fun weekend of activities so let's get right to it...

Friday night means Ian's ball team at The Courts and though the boys played the best I've seen them do they came up short losing 19-17. Ian had 8pts and 2 assists with several other opportunities, but it was one of those nights we couldn't buy a basket. Oh well, the kids had fun and played hard and I can't ask for more than that.

Afterwards Ian and I (along with Deb) drowned our sorrows in some Buffalo Wild Wings which makes everything better.

Saturday morning it was up and early to get over to SBU's XC course to help setup for the Class 3 District 6 state qualifier meet. Great morning for a meet and both the Bolivar girls (1st place) and boys (2nd) ran their guts out and qualified their teams. Jake was psyched for all of them but was hurting not to be part of a team result as he is all about 'the group' and not individual awards. My heart once again broke for him. He did have an bit of sunshine in his day as mid-morning he received a prize (the new Ipod Touch) for winning a marketing competition for SBU's Physical Therapy Dept; not to shabby.

After the meet it was immediate departure for STL. Jake had a bunch of Halloween stuff planned with friends so he stayed home and didn't make the trip with us. Since I didn't race until 10pm we kicked it around Mandee's (Deb's sister lives in Wildwood) until it was time for me to head on over to Creve Coeur park for Bubba's Sprints of Darkness.

The freak show was in full effect as costumes were everywhere. My favorite was a Sumo wrestler outfit who rode the entire B race. Hung out with Jeff Yielding (all around good guy and a monster on the 'cross bike this year) for a bit, got in some pre-riding, and generally warmed up for a late mid-40* temp 1 hour go of it. The course was wide open pancake flat with lots of straights, wide open turning, and not exactly the best lighting job for a night race, but it would work. The only interesting part was a beach section that doubled on itself with an unrideable exiting lip; made for a pretty long run, but I was riding the second half and using one foot to boost the bike over the lip (worked out really well). A funny thing was someone had a cash hand up, but you had to grab it out of a dead smelly fish's mouth - hilarious!

20 or so starters in the A's and after a not so great start found myself in a mid-pack group of 4 swapping positions the entire night as I would get big gaps on the beach and barriers (one set of high triples) and they would roar past on the straights (total opposites made for fun racing). With 3 to go they sat on my wheel for 2 laps until they dropped the hammer and left me gasping as I took 14th. Solid riding and great deposit in the MO State bank.

STL has a cool race scene as it's way much more of an EVENT (big party atmosphere) and KC is much more about just racing. KC = race with a couple rowdy spectators while STL = party that breaks out into a bike race. With that said both coasts are fast and can race some bikes as I found I am an equal opportunist for getting my butt kicked by both.

Got back to Mandee's late and didn't hit the sack until way into the night.

Sunday morning came around late as everyone slept in and took our time getting around. Deb and I headed out late-morning to do some nick-knack shopping while Ian hung out with his cousin. Loaded up and got back over to Creve Coeur park for another round of Bubba (Boo-ba this time) in the A's. Temps were in the high 60's and pretty nice. Pre-rode the course which had way more turning than the night before, but still pretty fast with plenty of straights and open turning with only one triple barrier section (beach was removed).

24 lined up in the A's and got a decent (for me) start for being 3rd row. With a tighter course the field didn't spread out too much early on, but near the end of the first lap I made a turning mistake and found rubber side up with me underneath. Getting to my feet pretty quick I found tons a debris in my right shifter causing it to jam. I worked it a bit until I said screw it and rode the rest of the 58 minutes on a single speed with no front brake; oh yes, I was DFL by a ton. With it being a flat course and lucky the 1 gear I had was decently suited I had two tasks in mind: 1) race as hard as possible for the entire hour and catch as many as possible and 2) DONT GET LAPPED! Over the next hour I actually brought back a handful and didn't come close to being lapped to finish 17th. I was whipped tired, but feeling satisfied I made the best out of a potential frustrating situation and thus putting another huge deposit in the MO State Champ bank.

Racing at the middle back of the A's/Open events are tough on the ole EGO, but honestly is paying dividends as I am going faster than before and getting in longer races (an hour each).

Scooted back to the Burt plantation in time to get Ian costumed up and ready to hit their neighborhood for some CANDY! Eball dressed as his favorite Colorado Rockies player Troy Tulowitzki while his cousins went a different route... I have done the trick or treat thing for years in a bunch of different city/towns, but never have I seen so much FREAKING candy obtained in such a short period/number of houses EVER; Ian came back loaded.

Packed up the car and turned it southwest (home) and pulled in around 10:30pm. I dropped off the crew then went over to the office for some work. Late night made for a tough Monday morning.

All in all a super couple of days. Next up is Joules Cross on Saturday and Veteran's Cross Sunday both at Lawrence, KS. I am coming down with a slight sore throat and cold so I might taper this week a tad, but we'll see as the week goes on.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Remodel Finally Done

Yesterday the final grout on the back splash was put in and the last cabinet door on the living room entertainment center was installed bringing this multifaceted project to a close. Deb did a great job picking out the colors of granite, tile, paint... and coordinated it all to come together with subs perfectly.

Kitchen: New stainless double stove, refrigerator, sink, and faucet, installed granite counter tops, tile back splash, removed roll-desk top, added cook book nook (ha), and under-counter lights.

Dining room: Stripped off 'grandma' looking wallpaper, installed wainscoting frames on lower walls, repaint upper to a more vibrant deep red, and new curtains (with new area rug and removal of green chairs to come)

Living room: Removed old rear projection Sony (huge box), installed new lower cabinets, new 1080p 52" boob tube, and home entrainment Blue Ray system. Overall in here this was the only change/upgrade, but it had a huge impact bring the whole look more updated. The HD (yes, I finally moved into this century) is incredible and can't stop watching various shows just for the clarity; especially sports!
***the dining and living room pictures were taken at night and make the color much more 'yellow' than what they actually are***
I was amazed at how everything went so seamless and quick. My sweetie has waited and saved back monthly for a long time to get her new kitchen and it's good to see HUGE smile every time she walks in there.
Up next... nothing!!!! No, seriously I figure in a couple months we'll update some color in the master bedroom and then start saving for the master bath upgrade.