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.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Full Weekend At Home (last one for a while)

Friday evening was Ian's (and my) opening games (double header) for the 4th grade Defenders at The Courts in SGF. The boys played really good and got a split losing their first and rebounding (play on words) to win the second. .500 ball to start the season is good in our books. I have a great group of boys and look forward to seeing their development throughout the year. Since the games were at 8:50 and 9:30 we got home way late.

Saturday morning was all about sleeping in and then heading over to the SBU Homecoming Parade. Tom and Sarah Jones hosted our Sunday School group at their flat for breakfast prior to the festivities. We grabbed some eats then hooked it over to the Jr. High to watch some of Ian's team/classmates play in the 4th Grade Superbowl, which Bolivar won.

Afterwards Dale and I got out for a solid 2:30hr gravel ride taking in most of our favorite Stockton Lake/Nut, Rock, and Fruit Farm loop. Always fun seeing what kind of shape the abandoned bridge trail is in and as the below video shows it's an adventure. Ride was fun until the closing minutes when Dale took a gravel nap and skinned himself up pretty good. I wanted to rush him to the hospital, but neither one of us thought they could treat damaged pride so we skipped it - HA!
***For the record the photo was staged and not where Dale took a dive***

Back to the casa to change up to some gym clothes as Ian and I shot some baskets before catching some of SBU's football game. They were killing Central State so we only stayed about a quarter.

Saturday evening was all about the MU -vs- OU game and it didn't disappoint (if you're a Mizzou fan). Ian donned his garb and spent most of the night jumping up and down.

Jake hit night #2 with his youth group at a corn maze near Verona, MO. Word has it his testimony to the groups went great.

Sunday morning was up and on the SBU 'cross loops with Ira at the crack of dawn for 1:15hrs of bike driving with some hot laps thrown in. I put my tubies through the ringer to see if my latest glue job worked and come to find out it didn't - rolled the rear again. ScottyD sent me some information about Vittoria's having some kind of coating on their base tape which needed a lite filing to make better contact points (had not heard anything of this prior) - thanks SD.

Church, Mexican grub, Scrabble, soccer, basketball and a lot of cleaning/prepping the ol' tubies again, and watching the USGP online summed up much of the afternoon. Amazing Race and a late night 40 minute run (perfect weather out) wrapped up the evening.

Monday morning was... well, a Monday morning with Sram Force shifter #2 (#1 was in May) blowing up while on an easy spin. Hit the office for some 'essentials' work before heading to A&B where the crew contacted SRAM and got a replacement (upgraded to RED as SRAM is out of Force) on the way (supposed to arrive on Wednesday). Thanks guys (especially ScottyK) for the quick service.

The rest of Monday was pretty routine with the exception of the electrician installing Deb's under-counter lights, which turned out great. Ian and I hit the gym for a bit before kicking back the rest of the evening at home.

This morning was a weird early AM run in that the wind was cranking when I headed out (and pretty chilly), but was dead calm at the finish. At noon I headed out on the mtb for the city park and knocked out 1:30hrs on the outer dirt loops. I have no idea what it is about me riding up on procreation, but apparently folks have no idea there are trails running behind some of the east parking area and presto there they were going at it; it's high noon middle of the day in not a secluded area, get a room and out of the park where kids (big and little) are playing!

Legs and body are feeling really recharged from last week's active recovery. Heading to STL this weekend for 2 days (well, one night and one day) of Bubba. Much like Tulsa I enjoy going up against new racers and experiencing various venues. Going to jump in the A's and see how it goes.

Back-splash/tile guy got all his work installed this AM and will come back tomorrow to grout then the kitchen is 100% done. It looks fantastic and Deb is so happy (which trickles down to all of us). Only thing left is a door on the living room cabinet (which the installer dropped and broke) and then the dining room, kitchen, and living rooms will complete their facelifts. I will post pictures once all is finished.

Was heading out with J Bowes and A Coe to the USGP in Ft. Collins, but just got word they're not going so I guess I'm racing local that weekend. No big deal as sometimes life/reality takes precident over hobbies.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Week of R&R (Rest and Recharge) and It's Working

About mid-way through my 'cross season with nine races under my belt and it's time for a week of easy recovery riding, skip a weekend of racing, and then recharge the system for another extended run. I feel pretty good fitness wise, my handling is better than ever before, and the racing has gone well so far with only one 'bad' day (Cross Out Cancer). The second half includes a couple big events (Jingle Cross - 3 days of racing and then the MO State Champs) and if all goes well will snag 10-11 more races.

Monday after work I jumped out on the Frisco Trail for 1:30hrs of easy spinning. The coolness in the air and changing of the leaves made for a great ride until the rain started pouring and the final two miles became and full on TT session. Pretty lucky to the FT just 200 meter from the house.

Tuesday was totally off the bike and a full on rest day. After work Ian and I had basketball practice and afterwards one of his teammates spent the night with us; the boys had a fun evening.

Earlier in the day the cabinet guys finished the upgrades in the living room and kitchen, so I re-worked our home entertainment setup and TV; looks sweet. So now we have an electrician coming on Thursday to install some under-counter lights in the kitchen then hopefully on Friday the tile guy will put in the back splash tile and that will be a wrap. Deb has done a great job getting this all lined out and it all looks night and day better (updated).

Wednesday was a 1:45hr non-stop bike driving session at SBU (split between the Library and Ball Field Loops) on the 'once rolled' tubies and had no issues at all. Nice outside, but a tad on the warm side. Super low intensity as I am enjoying my rest week. Amazing how constant turning, climbing (short ones), and general adjustments during 'cross practice burn your core; that's why no matter if I go low or high effort I am always getting a minimum of 1:15hrs per driving session in order to discipline my body for the 1hr MO State race. So far it's working as I have yet to feel tight or fatigued core wise at the end of any of the races.

After work Deb and I decided to make the most of the beautiful afternoon so we jumped on the tandem for a little over an hour. She got quite the laugh at one point while I almost dismounted mid-ride when a wasp/bee stung my inner thigh (right below the shorts line); it's been some time since I've been stung and it hurt like thunder. Except for the whelp this time, I always enjoys my 'junk miles' with her.

Some lite yard mowing and shrub work at noon on Thursday then Dale and I headed off to Sac to meet up with Ira for a some trail mtb'ing fun. Nothing too serious and after an hour we bailed as Dale's tires couldn't take anymore flats (bummer for him). Were there long enough to grab a burger and beverage from the A&B crew (thanks).

Couple hour gravel ride at noon today; hard to hold back the legs as they felt incredibly rested and ready to go. Two more days of lite riding before firing it back up, but so far this rest thing is working wonders. Bet you had no idea I actually do 'takes' when shooting my impromptu videos...

Off tonight to our season opener at The Courts (double header); fun day. Saturday looks to be a 3hr gravel ride with Dale and Sunday a lite tandem spin with Deb. This active rest week has been awesome and just what the body and mind needed.

This weekend our church youth group are taking two trips to a Corn Maze near Verona, MO (one with the middle school'ers and the other the high school group) and Jake is the main speaker. He is giving a personal testimony to God's use of his cross country injury (missing his senior year) to bring Kingdom work from what was a devastating season. Instead of turning bitter and asking God why, Jake surrendered his pride and self, focused on supporting those who were running and led by serving their needs. As Jake and I has spoke of often, it's easy to be a 'good guy' when you're winning, but true character is forged in the tough times. Coach Bandy told me he has never had a team captain like Jake (committed and supportive) in all his years of coaching (he has had multiple All-State runners). Like I have said before I could not be prouder of how he faced adversity and disappointment throughout this summer and xc season, but not complained once. He has missed one (alarm clock malfunction) 5:15am practice this entire season while not being able to run most. His maturity in dealing with all this at 17 blows me away and I pray his testimony tonight (and tomorrow) impacts the lives of others.

Making plans to hit the road with JB and ACoe for the New Belgium Ft. Collins USGP in early November; should be a great trip and races.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Racing on Tulsa Time

It's easy to settle in to the tasty goodness KC gives us on a weekly basis of quality 'cross racing (courses and fellow competitors), but I enjoy pushing away from the KC buffet from time to time and sampling 'cross in other areas and racing new folks so that's what I did this past weekend in Tulsa, OK.

Ruts and Guts, a Friday evening race, had a huge payout for the open class which brought in tons of fast riders from the Midwest area and the trickle down payout to the other classes were pretty decent so it was guaranteed to be quality fields and all that sounded way to fun to pass up. Being a Friday race screwed with my weekly routine as finding an 'effort' day midweek was either Tuesday (still dragging from Cross Out Cancer double up on Sunday) or Wednesday (only one day to recover. I made it all workout and felt pretty fresh and ready to go Friday morning.

Picked up Peter Krause (a KC racer attending MSU) at noon and we made the I-44 cruise to Tulsa; we both were racing the 3's event at 5:30pm. Pulled up to registration and a couple things were obvious: 1) it was warm (upper 80's type) and 2) it was dry and super dusty. We walked the course while the promoter's crew was still putting it together and trying to patch up some areas the dozier/bobcat had messed up while 'cutting in' the course; no joke, that's what the workers told us. Interesting setup as the area had two levels (upper and lower) with the bottom mostly thick loose dirt/dust with rocks underneath. Oh, and lots of goatheads (see pic) which were a new item for me. The course had little to offer as far as technical/tight areas, but did include two drops that required a bit of skill to clear cleanly with speed. Tulsa is a big 'crit' town so I guess they like their courses wide open..

Changed up, got in some warm up loops with Peter, and ended up with a flat (#1) on my Grifo XS (perfect for this course) right before the start. Got over to Bill Marshall's KCCX/Challenge compound and he kindly lent me a Reynolds/Grifo rear (thanks a ton). The air was getting kicked up as more riders pre-rode and the dust was as thick as I have ever seen it at a race; lots of snorting and hacking already.

Near 45 racers in the 3/4 event with Peter and I both getting a front row start position. We had no idea who was fast and who's not (which is a refreshing change) so it's full gas from the go. Setting around 5th in a small group going into the second 'barrier' (their idea of barriers is piling rocks up - that's it?!?!?!) and some guy makes a hard cut right in front of me, his rear collides with my front wheel, and POING front spoke it snapped. Oddly enough the wheel is still rolling without rubbing so I continue on catching the guy and unloading a little bit of 'conversation' with him. With the front still rolling (although pinging the entire time) I am sitting comfortably in 5th (Peter was 2nd or 3rd) or so heading into lap #2 as I go flat in the rear. This usually wouldn't kill me as I had a wheel in the pit, but this course's setup had relatively one entry at the end of each loop so not wanting to run Bill's wheel flat I called it a day. I was hacked to say the least; two laps in and my day is done... or was it?

Peter finishes a solid 5th after taking a nasty fall while I head to registration and sign up for the Open race at 8:30pm; I drove all this way and I was going to race something. Just before inking the Open the promoter convinced me to do the 50 minute Masters 40+ race. I knew this would be a fast field as the money/payout was pretty nice.

Regrouped, new tubes, warmed up, and hung out with Bill Stolte (yes, he was in the race and is super fast) on the start line for a bit to ensure we got a decent spot. Job done as we get a front row spot, but then the promoter starts calling up up folks and both of us go to the third row (super tight and short starting area); crap, lots of work to do early. Gun goes and I find a sweet seam on the outside before the short straight is over and I moved into the top 10 as Bill and a SoundPony guy fly away from the rest of us. Unlike last weekend at Cross Out Cancer I had a nice feeling in the legs early and was able to make several efforts in the first half of the race and figured I was somewhere in the top 5 or so and gaining on those ahead (except for Bill who was long gone). For a couple laps in the middle I towed around three guys as I chased until I set up on the longer climb and explained that I was not hauling anyone else around until they made the pace for a bit. Two guys gave me an empty stare while the third went to the front and laid down a furious pace; guess I either ticked him off and was trying to drop me or he understood my request and was willing to work. Either way I set on his wheel for 1/2 a lap while the other two were dropped. I took over on the bottom section as we moved way clear of the others, but the guy I was with took a bad crash in a 180 corner as I accelerated away. The SoundPony guy was not too far ahead of me, but I was not closing the gap. Meanwhile a three-person chase group was putting some time into me and I rode my butt off the last three laps to the finish keeping them at a short distance.

I had no idea where I finished as riders were getting lapped early on, the dust was so thick it was hard to see very far ahead of you (no joke), and the darkness of the night environment added to the mayhem. I figured I was 5th or so and was super happy with that, but when the results were posted I found out I was 3rd (super stoked now)! Ended up with a nice little payout that covered all my expenses for the weekend - always a bonus.

In hindsight the course turned out super fun (and fast) as it 'raced' way better than it felt in warmups, but the dust was a choking factor and for the rest of the night (and into the next day) everyone was hacking, snorting, and coughing up dust balls.

Stuck around and watched the Open boys lite up the course; super CRAZY fast. Peter caught a ride back home with Cale and I found my way to a shower at our (Justin Bowes and I split a room) nearby hotel; left a couple pounds of mud in the shower basin from all the dust. Steak N Shake with JB (double flatted in the Open), Andrew Coe (6th in the Open), and his wife Janelle then it was sack time; I was beat.

Below is a compilation video of the night:

Woke up Saturday morning to pretty decent feeling legs, but still hacking up dust balls from the night before. Originally planned to race the Cat 3 event at 2:30, but got to looking at the schedule and the Masters race at noon would get me home 2 and a half hours earlier (which meant Deb and I could make our Sunday School class social event) so noon it was. Stopped off at Lee's Bicycles in downtown Tulsa on the way to the Newblock Park race. The Lee's boys tried to get me a new spoke, but found the hub flange was damaged and rendered useles (one wheel down), but they hooked me up with some slime tubes as Saturday's course was said to be GOATHEAD HEAVEN. Good guys at that shop and I'll be back when in the area.

Quick warm up (didn't need much to loosen up as the temps were climbing fast) on the course found another super fast layout with nothing technical or tight, but it did have one run-up that was short but crazy steep and a three-set of HIGH barriers that seemed placed way too close together. Anyway, a fast 'crit' style race was anticipated.

Not as many racers as the night before (think it was mid-20's) and a third row start, but not much to worry as the opening straight was over 1/4 mile long; plenty of time to work through. Gun goes off, sitting 2nd wheel, and watched two guys come around and roll off the front just a bit; not too big of a gap and figured I could close it down anytime, but I got caught behind a couple guys on a turn and when I came free the two were up a decent gap. I went into a TT mode solo at the end of the 1st lap and chased them the entire day; gaining little and losing not much to finish another 3rd. Legs felt decent and I raced clean, but was a tad disappointed to not make the earlier effort to close the gap initially; oh well, race and learn.

Banked a little more cash prizes, loaded up, and headed home. It was amazing how many flats folks had during the day. I ran by Hutchinson tubeless (with sealant) in the front and a 'slime' tube in my Challenge XS in the rear - no flats, but I pulled a ton of those things out afterwards.

Got home in time to hug on the boys and make it to my brother's house for a wiener roast Sunday School group evening. A 6 on 6 game of football broke out which was tons of fun (especially since our team dominated). Back to the casa and Jake and I headed out to catch a movie at the theater.

Sunday was the first one at home in over a month and it was awesome. Church early, Mexican for lunch, tons of lawn/garden (got the tiller out and 'turned' it)/shrub work done while including Ian's basketball team practice and several sessions of tossing a football in the backyard. Jake had a busy day with various church related groups and we didn't see him until late afternoon. Deb spent the day doing to some 'her-time' shopping in SGF (good for her). Sunday evening was Amazing Race, snacking, and quick to bed.

Taking a huge rest/recovery week with only easy riding (several longer ones) with no racing next weekend. I have 9 'cross races in so far this year and the 'second half' of the season I'll have near 10 to 12 more so this is a good time for a little break.

Our basketball season at The Courts starts this Friday evening with a double-header and Ian (and I) are pretty excited. Our squad looks pretty decent, but you never know until the ball goes up.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Soapbox Discussion: Integrity

Disappointed to hear (literally and after-the-fact) several racers at last weekend's Cross Out Cancer opted to ride around a low barriers section of the course instead of running/riding OVER them. The argument of some that did was the 'course was not taped all the way to the barriers and so simply stayed within the designated area, which happen to have an opening around...' '...the promoter/course designer should have done a better job...'; whatever, if it makes you feel better about your choices then go with it. Of course if they chose to ride around then something tells me they didn't lose a second sleep about it...

***Picture to the right is 'said' section***

While warming up on the course Sunday I overheard some guys standing at the said barrier section debating on whether to run, ride over, or ride around it, but honestly I thought they were joking about the latter option (apparently not). I saw quite a few tire trails thru the grass during the 2/3 race (and didn't really see any in the Masters) and kept thinking 'no, surely not...' as I ran each time.

What is sadly surprising to me is how cheaply people will sell out/give away one of the only things of which they are in complete control - integrity, fair play, honesty, or whatever else name you give it at such a menial event that is there only for fun. No one local is doing this for a job or living so when these same individuals are faced with 'real life' tough decisions and choices of right and wrong it will not be a shock when poor choices are made designed to cheat and deceive.

This was a glaring issue when Ira and I were competing in Adventure Races as cheating, er, 'taking advantage' of common sense portions were a routine way of the sport up front. Example: Dynamic Earth at Bonk Hard Chill chooses to portage boats for 1/2 mile and opt out of a 6mile paddle section which was clearly defined on the race instructions as a PADDLE SECTION. Was there any 'written' instruction (other than PADDLE SECTION) saying they couldn't do it - no, but then how come they were the only team (out of 50) who opted for this? Another, Alpine Shop at Sunflower 24 chooses to not ride a single track mtb loop (which the instructions clearly show the direction of flow and says to RIDE THE LOOP) and jumps on a road to blast to the front of the race. Their explanation was it didn't say you couldn't ride the road... sad (and more sad is the promoter let them get by with it). Can't tell you how many times in triathlons clear team drafting on the bikes for the leaders was routine. Conclusion: it's everywhere and always will be.

I preach this to my boys on a daily basis; there are two sides to every choice - the one that is right and accepts responsibility (and may potentially lead to harder work, embarrassment, humility...) or the one that most pick which leads to initially the easy way but is always lingering in the background. While this is a huge basis of my Christianity foundations it applies to every aspect of life even if you are a non-believer. My boys are sick of hearing me tell them 'do the right thing every time', but I continually see them do it and grow as individuals. Our society sadly pushes and rewards poor decision making and sees honesty and integrity as a nuisance.

Long and short of it for me is it didn't impact my race (even if I would have been near the front)/life and everyone has to make choices (right or wrong) and as sadly some will always pick the 'easier' one and so willingly give away their integrity for such a minuscule return/reward.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flat... and I Don't mean Tires

For whatever reason yesterday's Cross Out Cancer 'cross race did not go well; either race, but we'll get to that soon enough.

Friday I had hoped to get in a solid 1:30 - 2hr ride on the road and with a handful of real-life things in the way it didn't happen, which made for 2 days off the bike. This is pretty rare for me during this time of the year (season), but I had more important things to do and prioritized correctly. Ball practice with my 4th grade team went really well and I'm looking forward to the upcoming season at The Courts. Spend most of the evening setting up a new home entertainment/blue-ray system (camper money) for the living room. That went smoothly and I'm looking forward to finishing it off with the TV (which was in transit).
Deb's granite counter tops were installed and it did not disappoint; I knew it would be a nice change/upgrade, but had no idea this good. Waiting on a cabinet/wood guy to finish out a couple pieces before the electrician comes in to install the under-cabinet lights and rigs the hookups for the new stove, then the last thing is the tile guy putting in the back splash. Deb did some deal'n the other day and swapped our old 52" TV for some cash and the cost of the tile - quite the bargain (for both parties). Looks like total project done by mid-next week (fingers crossed). No pictures of the dining room, kitchen, or new entertainment cabinet until everything is 100% finished.

Saturday (one of the rare one's I am at home from Sept - Dec) was all about catching up on yard/shrub/garden and any other outdoors maintenance. That ate up most of the morning while Deb was volunteering at a Convoy for Hope event. Early afternoon until Deb and I jumped out for a tandem ride with Dale joining. We got in 1:30hrs at a super easy pace.

Saturday evening Deb, Ian, and I headed off to SGF for some Chipotle and then some basketball shoe shopping for E while Jake and friends were taking on the universe with the new Halo Reach. It amazes me the price of youth shoes these days and I absolutely refuse to have a 9yr old were $90 shoes when his foot is growing. We shopped many places before finding the exact Adidas ball shoes I play in in his size (and at a reasonable price); Ian thinks it's pretty cool we play in the same kicks.
It was great spending the day at home with the family, but I was ready to hit the road north to get my 'race on'. A little bummed not to have anyone driving up with me as the Bolivar boys were all busy and I hate dragging Deb and Ian up for the day as they have stuff they want to do at home; so National Public Radio and I would spent some quality time together.
Sunday early departure since my first race was at 11am. Early in the season I like to 'double up' racing for 1 day events like I did at Manion's. I 'race' the first one, usually Masters 35+ or 40+, then do what I can for the 2/3 race usually an hour after the finish of the first one. It makes for a tough day, but going into it I know I will suffer in the back of the 2/3's and focus on bike driving and gaining fitness. I'll quit the doubles in November and focus on single events.
Got to the course and pre-rode it a couple times; holy cow that was rough (even with lower pressure). Decently flat loop with tons of fun different style turns and twists, three barrier sections (1 double 'above-regular' height, one triple 'low' section, and the last a double 'regular' height), and did I mention rough. In warm up I rode the 'low' barriers sections, but decided I would run them in the race as my speed was dropped drastically by the last one as there was a turn going into them that scrubbed off quite a bit of speed. On the backside of the course you had to be attentive as the turns were made around trees with loose wood chips underneath and low (I mean low) branches. Decided to go with full Griffo XS on the front and rear (which worked out fine) for race 1.
Whistle goes off and I get a crappy start and am mid-pack into the first turn. On the first and second laps I work my way through the pack and settle into the pace in 3rd with C Ellis, and a 360 guy in tow with two 360 guys up the course a little bit. I am starting to worry a bit as my legs have absolutely no zip/snap and I am having to work way too hard out of each turn and on the straights - ugh!!!! Half way through Ellis drops me and I am battling with the 360 guy and holding on for dear life (this is going badly quick).
***All pics from Roger Harrison***

The funnest part of the race was a little over half way in I was battling with the 360 rider (J. Roundtree, I think) and we ran into some lapped traffic at the tall barrier section with him just ahead of me. He took a line to the left while I jumped to the right and a small gap opened between the two 'lapped' riders and I was able to squeeze between mid-run and take a pretty decent advantage coming out of that section (sadly, he overtook me later that lap and I couldn't pull him back), but for that short moment it was full-on 'strategery' fun.
The rest of the race I held my 6th place spot and tried to get out of the funk of dead legs. I ended up holding on to 6th in a pretty decent field, but was frustrated with the lack of snap; oh well, you do what you can.

Back to the car for some recovery products (lots of liquids), a little rest, switch of costumes, er, kits, and before I knew it it was time to spin up the legs and see what I had left for the 2/3 race. Solid field (as the 2/3's will always be) and I opted not to take my front row (pre-registered) spot and hung out in the back as I knew I was in for 50 minutes of training and not racing and that's exactly what I did. It was hotter than the Master's race (which was not good for me) so I pushed it for the first 25 minutes or so then backed it way off for the last half and simply worked on driving my bike and finishing the whole 50 minutes. Mike G's wife Kat was awesome in handing up water to me and providing moral support as it was hot out there. This was probably the slowest/worst 'cross race I have had in years and every time I thought I should pull off and quite I kept thinking of Jake's season and how he never quit no matter how bad it was going so I plugged away until the finish. Somehow I got 13th out of 22 starters; mechanicals must have plagued the others as there is no way anyone could have rode slower than I did. No big deal as that's racing (especially on another 'double up' day) and sometimes you're feeling it and some days not (this was definitely a NOT).
Speaking of feeling it - J Yielding tore it up (again) winning the 2/3 and getting the auto punch into the Cat 1 license. He is really focused this year and it is paying off big. He and I had the typical KC .vs. STL races discussion and I have to agree with him that STL is fielding a much stronger 'A' field (have to reference it that way since our Missouri rep still won't field a 'Category Style' race), but it's not so much STL riders as it is Mid-MO (Columbia/Herman) crew driving east instead of west that bumps up those events. No matter if you are an east or west coaster (or in the middle) MO 'cross is still building momentum/growing and it is awesome. Props also to Josh Taylor for knocking out a second place in the 2/3's and to Dan Miller for an impressive ride in the Open; both strong performances.

Got back home Sunday late afternoon and played some football in the backyard with Deb and Ian, caught some Amazing Race, and generally vegg'ed out with the family.

Monday was a 100% rest day as I was fried from Sunday's double. Mid-afternoon our TV arrived so out of work I went and played, er, configured the new system. Absolutely stunned with the new 1080p picture, the wireless internet options (netflix, pandora, slacker...), and the Sony Sync of the Blue-Ray/home theater - makes missing the camper a little less noticeable. Baseball playoffs and Monday night football pictures in HD 1080p is incredible and a netflix documentary on Yosemite was pretty cool. I like the National Geographic documentaries (usually 1hr in length) on netflix and last night Jake and I took in one on North Korea and then another on 'Inside the Secret Service'.
Nice cool 40 minute run this morning with hill run ups replacing the stadium climbs. There was a weird fog in the darkness (6am) that made for a very 'fallish' type of morning. Doing a little bike driving at lunch.

Heading to Tulsa's Guts & Ruts this Friday with Peter Krause (Boss Cross Cat 3 General Lee jersey holder) to see if we can snag a little cash (certain Tulsa races for some reason pay big and deep and usually is worth the 3hr drive). Saturday is a race in Topeka, but I am going to skip it, catch Ian's soccer games, spend another day at the casa with the crew, then hit Blvd Cup in KC on Sunday.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

High School XC is a Wrap & Mid-Week Doings

Both Coach and I pulled the plug on Jake's XC season (and high school career) yesterday as his pleurisy has not only failed to clear up, but is getting worse. Read on down for more...

Got my new MWI socks in the mail yesterday and they are pretty nice (in a pink jackalope kind of way). I have never been one for the 'taller' socks (although these are not tall boys by any means), but I will change my ways (at least for races) for these bad boys. ***Will have to make better effort to ensure the back striping is better than in the picture***

Pretty routine Monday as Deb and Marla rode some after work while Ian and I hit the SBU gym. E's got a Presidential Fitness test coming up and he has been working on his mile run and he knocked out a 7:35 on the indoor track - nice. We shot for quite a bit afterwards before heading home.

Monday night Dale and I hopped on the rigs and did an easy 1hr spin down the Frisco (with lights) to flush the legs. It worked, but also gave me frostbite (not really but felt like it) as I had no idea how chilly it was and way under dressed. Deb's hot chocolate hit the spot upon return.

Tuesday I got in a good 45 minute run (with the stadium climbs) on a chilly morning. Not that this is important, but my 'run legs' have really come around and am cruising quite effortlessly (still a good sign - bring on the rain and mud). Later at lunch I jumped on the 'drive a bike' courses at SBU and Bolivar city park for a non-stop 1:30hrs. Moderate tempo and still pushing the XS's to get a feel for the drift.

Tuesday evening we had Ian's first 4th grade 'official' practice and it went pretty good. This is his wheelhouse and needless to say he looks good. They played a little pickup with the 5th grade team and he actually should be starting for them. Afterwards I scooted to SGF (Lowe's) for the molding and finished up the wainscoting in the dining room; now to prime and paint.

Wednesday Ira, Dale and I jumped on the SBU XC course and knocked out some solid interval efforts. The motivation for the day was Dale sporting the Boss Cross Cat4 40+ leader's jersey. That leg breaking session had far greater impact then the Tuesday night dirt crits as I was dragging the rest of the day (and feeling it the next morning).

Thursday was taken as a rest/recovery with no planned fitness related work as the body told me to relax.

Late afternoon we headed to Buffalo to watch Jake and his XC crew. The course is a deceiving tough one at it has close to a 1/2 mile false flat climb that kids hit twice. Coach's plan for the kids was to blast the first mile, regroup and pack run the middle, and blast the last 800m. I was curious to see how Jake would perform after Deb's description of how bad he looked at the end of the Halfway meet (to include several days of coughing and hacking). He jumped to the front up the false flat and came thru the 1 mile at a 5:09 and pulled up for the rest of the boys (he looked pretty comfortable and smooth), they 'packed up' and ran pretty smooth together, then as the final 'blast' came Jake was completely on empty and I could tell his breathing was almost non-existant. He continued to give his all up to the finish line where he caught and out sprinted a kid at the line before his collapse. His coach and teammates got him upright, but he was in bad shape; not the kind that says 'boy I ran hard', but one that clearly showed me his season was done. It took well over 20 minutes before he was able to take a decent breath and compose himself. Deb, he, and I spent some time evaluating his health, team, recovery/repair of this body, and future (spring track) and with coach's concurrence we pulled the plug on his season in order to set him out for four months to hopefully let his lungs heal.

Jake had several tears not only himself, but for what he feels that he is letting his team down; it was (is) tough to watch. This was the year he was to dominate (after seeing his abilities and strong results last year) and qualify his team for state, but life changes and it's how you deal with it that develops character and I can 100% tell you that boy of mine has more character, discipline, and maturity than most grown men I know. It's easy to be a winner when things go well, but a champion is someone who perseveres and continues when all is falling apart and that's what he's done (doing). He got up this morning (Friday) and biked with the AM crew and will continue to be their biggest supporter. This is his current Faceook status:

"Medals and trophies will rust and fade but my love for my brothers and sisters on my team will never die. All of you ran an amazing race and I hope that everyone learned something from it. You are Liberators, you are my family."

If you don't know or have never met him you are missing out on a quality individual.

When he got back from the meet he and I drowned his sorrows in a huge Coke (big treat as he never drinks soda during season) and Master Wangs. Without a prompt from me he started talking about how he is looking forward to running for Corey (Macelhaney - SBU XC Coach) and continuing his running at the next level and that there is no way he is going 'out' like this.

After getting back with Jake I finally got around to re-gluing my tubular that rolled at Hermann UtL; we'll see if I did a better job this time...

Busy Friday (day) at the Jones Casa when it started off at 6am for me putting the final paint coat in the dining room (pictures to come once a new area rug is purchased), Deb gets her granite counter tops in the kitchen, HD upgrade on the Dish, receive new Home Theater System and TV for living room (insurance money from the camper being totalled), and I need to fit in a 2hr ride (good luck with that one and may settle for it on the trainer tonight).

Jumped over to the Bolivar Middle School track at lunch to watch Ian run his Presidential Fitness 1 mile. He has prepped (taking very serious like his big bro) hard and was confident this morning leaving for school. His buddy ran a 7:35 and was 1st in his class so E had a mark to beat and boy did he. Unlike most classmates he paced himself early while the others sprinted out lasting only 200 meters before most walked a bit. Ian on the other hand stayed on pace and gave me a huge smile and wave as he passed by me at the 300meter mark. He was the only one in his whole class to not walk a single step and in doing so ran a 6:53! His class was the last of the intermediate (3rd - 5th grades) and he by far posted the fastest of all grades. He bounced over to where I stood and simply asked "Am I fast like Jake and are you proud?"; two questions both met with one 'Absolutely.' Texted Jake his results and he was stoked; those two are bonding more and more every day.

We have basketball practice this evening and still trying to figure in a ride.

This weekend is Cross Out Cancer in Shawnee Mission (KC area) on Sunday. Since it's a single day race I'll probably race the Masters and the 2/3 events (might as well make the most of each trip).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Boss Cross 1 & 2

That was a fun and tiring weekend as Boss Cross 1 & 2 are in the books.

Since I decided to skip the masters races at 11am and just do the Cat 3 at 2pm I was able to not rush around Saturday morning too much before heading out. Tough weekend to be away as Ian had a couple soccer games late Saturday morning and Jake was running his first XC meet in over a month (more on both later). Easy drive up to KC to the EH Young Park just north of downtown to what is now one of my favorite courses; good combination of tight and twisty along with good open pedaling sections and two dismounts Saturday and three Sunday.

I really look forward to the 'cross weekends as it's good to see fellow racers with whom you develop relationships with over a couple hours on the weekends. Got to meet the much better half of the Yielding crew (sorry Jeff, but it's true), JB, hear about some Wisco action from AC, get to know Peter Krause a little, Josh Taylor, and of course the Crust.

Took a couple warm up laps and decided against the file treads in exchange for Hutchinson Piranhas (which hooked up nicely) as there were just a couple corners that at high speed would have given me some fits; a couple more practice sessions on the XS's and I'll give them a roll. The course had a little of everything with a couple sand sections (one ride-able and the other not), two barrier dismounts (one on a hill the other flat out speed), open pedaling sections and lots of turns at various tightness - I liked it. The temps for both days were spot on cool enough for the LS kits.

Before our race I got a chance to watch Dale ripping it up in the Cat 4 40+ race in which he won and donned the 'General Lee' jersey; so happy for him.

Time to toe the line in the 3's which we started 30 seconds behind the Open/Elite and all of us were going for an hour (usual 3's race is 45-50 minutes). Being a longer race conservation was important early. Got a decent start and quickly got into a flow with a couple guys (Peter Krause - a KC resident attending MSU in SGF and a Corlavita rider) in chase of a solo Slimen guy (Ty Henson) who slid off the front with a pretty big gap. I did quite a bit of work (without going into the red) on the first three laps while the other two set in so I after a bit I slid to the back and let them set the pace. The Corlavita guy did tons of work in the middle laps as Henson still was hanging out there. At around 40 minutes Peter took over some pace making and I quickly lent him a hand and we worked really well together and soon Henson was coming back. With three or four laps to go the Corlavita guy had a mechanical so Peter and I upped the pace and with two to go we caught Henson, who latched on the back of us. We kept the pace high and got a little gap on Ty with one to go. I thing Peter was thinking about the finish and backed off a tad on the first part of the lap so I went to the front and upped the pace to keep a gap on Henson figuring this was setting Peter up, but would rather fight just one for the finish instead of two. Sure enough Henson was gapped, Peter beat me to the last 180* corner, and with less than 50 feet to the finish followed in behind his wheel for 2nd. We ended up catching a 1/3 of the Open field during our race and the gap was pretty huge for the front four of us over the rest of the field (time to move up...).

That was the best work with another rider (Peter) I've ever done in a 'cross race and it benefited both of us tons and made it super fun. He rode really solid and deserved the win and the 'General Lee' jersey. Fun for an 'old guy' such as I to race with a kid 1/2 my age. The Blue was solid all day and the tire pick/pressure was spot on. Before the season I picked up some FSA Carbon wing bars from ScottyD and I can't believe the difference they make when pressure is applied; no flex and it feels solid straight to the pedals. Additionally, I like the position in which it puts my hands when on the hoods - comfy. On a side note: I'm digging the new kits, but like the SS's better.

Crusty was having a solid day and nabbed 8th. He really liked the course and benefited from the twisties.

After the race it was to Crusty's house for the evening. Crusty's 'The Boss' made an incredible chicken chili and cornbread for us and then topped off the evening with a homemade apple crisp (super yum). Many laughs were had as Crusty recapped his Wisco weekend including his 'euro accent' of his talking to the Euros. We stayed up as long as we could (11pm) watching the World Champs in Australia, but couldn't stay up the additional 2hrs to catch the finish (turns out an exciting finale as we watched the recap the next morning). TH is a worthy champion and he will represent it well I am sure.

After a solid night's sleep it was time to pull on some big boy pants and line up with the Open/Elites - ugh. Got to the course and found they reversed the flow and threw the start and barriers in different places and extended the sand/beach area by the river (rideable for only a select few - not me). Couple warm up laps and decided to go with file tread in the rear and Piranha up front. Really liked the flow of Sunday's course.

Ira made the trip up (with the Brown crew) and Dale came back for another day since he needed to defend the General Lee. Both rode well and with a couple to go in Ira's race (he was sitting in 2nd) I noticed he slowed up and a handful of folks were passing him. I was doing some warm up near the course and quickly made my way to the pit area and happen to leave my rig on the rack and as luck would had it he had a pit bike to finish up his race. He and I ride practically the same set up so I knew it would work. He was able to recoup a couple places and finish 5th. Dale had a little tougher day than Saturday finishing 5th, but getting to keep his jersey as the points leader. Sadly noticed afterwards Crusty was in street clothes and not kitted up... what gives, its race day and not spectator hour - perfect time to deposit something in the bank.

Snagged some last minute warm ups and to the line. Taking my rightful place (in the rear) as the new guy I get what seems a decent start, but these guys are just flying away from me and at the end of lap 1 I am in dead last - DEAD LAST wondering why did I move up?!?!?!?! I quickly regrouped and told myself to ride hard and steady and my fitness would catch me up to some of the others. Long story short, I started reeling in one after another and 1/2 thru I caught Josh Taylor and worked a handful of laps together bringing in some riders to include Luke of KCCX with just a couple to go. As soon as we made contact with him I put in a solid long effort and gapped both he and Josh and kept it going until the end for 11th. I know I have no chance of every being in the 'mix' up front, but I was pretty stoked to finish that well for my first rodeo. The longer training sessions (a minimum of 1:30hrs continuous per) really paid off and I felt I actually rode my fastest laps in the second half and was able to push all the way to the end (except for bobbles on the last two loops thru the volleyball sandpit - which never where too bad). Bike handling is way better than ever which is good to see as I have concentrated on it plenty pre-season. Now to work on some faster starts...

It was fun hearing the B-town rejects, Crusty, and Mike G (can't believe he opted for the masters) cheering me on.

Above pictures from Mrs Taylor, JY, Keith Walberg, Roger H, and Crusty

On the way out of town I stopped off with the Brown clan (not usually two words you see together) for some snacks at Gates. Needless to say feeding 4 kids under the age of 7 is quite a task (and entertaining). Grabbed a slab for the boys to go and on the road for an uneventful drive south.

The evening was pretty laid back with just a couple tasks to complete; always good to come home to the boys and Deb. By nightfall I was ready to hit the sack and rest some tired legs.

Ian had two soccer games Saturday morning and they won both (still undefeated) with Ian scoring a goal in the second game. He is having fun, but is ready for basketball to start (as am I). Lucky for him I start up our team for practice tomorrow night with games starting in three weeks.

Jake returned to running at a small local meet Saturday late morning and although he ran a 17:32 (on what is thought to be a short course) and got 7th (last year he won by over a minute) he labored horribly according to Deb (she gave me play by play while I was driving) and his lungs are still hurting abnormally today. He says he doesn't care how slow he runs he owes it to his teammates to keep plugging away so that's what he is doing. I trust coach's decisions and judgement and he is up at another meet on Thursday (Buffalo). He has one month until districts so it will be interesting to see if he continues with the pain or if it subsides. Deb said she has never seen him suffer so badly during a race.

My weekend race plans is Cross Out Cancer in Shawnee Mission (KC area) on Sunday as they have a 2/3 race (50 minute).