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.