Monday, June 27, 2011

R&R was Great, but Time to Build (oh, and get some Waffles)...

Took the last two weeks off (except for a lite ride with Dale last weekend) so Sunday it was time to get back up on the iron horse and start building for a fun (and longer) 'cross season ahead. Feel refreshed and ready to spend some building time in the early summer hours to avoid as much as the heat and humidity as possible.

Looks like the Hermann weekend will kick it off for me in September with a Wednesday evening race (if categories are available for the After Dark race), then hopefully head off to race with teammates in Madison at the USGP. After that it's Boss Cross 1&2 then on to the routine events. Really hoping Tulsa puts on another weekend of racing as that was fun. Jingle Cross is now a staple and I'm trying to work out a trip to L'ville. Figure state champs are my focus and try to maintain a little something and go to Madison (again) just for fun.

Not much changing in way of 'the ride' for 2011(12) as I love the feel and performance my Blue Norcross so why change up. Adding a set of carbon 50mm tubulars this year and have yet to decide on the rubber. Speaking of the Blue, haven't yet swapped it over to 'cross mode (yet), but it's coming this week (gravel roads and SBU here we come).

Family life is going good and everyone is getting into a flow with the youngster around. To bad I can't post pictures or videos containing the little man, because he is in most that I take.

Last Monday night my brother and I took our pop out (late Father's Day) and enjoyed an evening watching the SGF Cards play some baseball via the Redbird Roost; ate entirely too much ball park food. Hammond's Field is such a great park for a any city, but especially for one SGF's size.

Jake, Deb, and I took in Green Lantern Wednesday and it was decent, but I'll be the first one to say none of these have measured up to Iron Man in my opinion. Jake and I are looking forward to Capt America.

Friday evening Ian had a couple ball games (won 1 lost 1) and the little man did pretty good until the way home when we once again were reminded he has a limit before he needs sleep. Up early Saturday morning as Ian had a 1 day/3 game tourney in which they won 2 and lost 1. Fun, but long day; big thanks for Jake for watching 'the kid' while Deb and I took in the last game (in somewhat silence - ha!).

Sunday was all about some rest and relaxation for everyone (that is after an early AM 3hr ride for me) which included a couple hour nap for everyone - awesome! Lots of baseball was played in the backyard and just a generally feel good evening was had by all.

Monday I hit the weights/gym again and I must say that hurt (and will for a couple days). Always mentally sharpens me to move some metal around.

Tuesday was the last St John's Waffle race in SGF and I really didn't care to go in that I had not had much speed/power in the ol' legs being off for the last couple weeks, but these are good guys and I want to support as much SGF racing as possible so screw it, let's go. Got out at noon and spun around for 40 minutes to loosen up the weights from the day before. Rode down with Dale and TJ John's (long time rider and newer racer in Bolivar) and it turns out all the nutty fast guys didn't want to miss this either as it was a who's who of SGF in the 'A' race (crap, this was going to hurt). Roll out was quick right off the bat and the gas did not let up for the full 33 miles; when Brad Huff says at the end of the night 'I thought that was fast' that's telling you something. Fun group as there were a few breaks (nothing of significance), but everyone rolled through taking good pulls and at the end turns out no one was dropped off the pace. Knowing I can't get up the final lap's climb up the dam with the likes of Vinton and crew I took a couple solo digs at the group; one after the school turn and then my hardest just before the descent. Both they let me dangle out for a bit before easily reeling me back in. Going into the climb I punched out with Cale, Skip, Huff, and a couple others. Not sure what we averaged speed wise, but it was quick and surprisingly I felt great and was never under too much pressure. This bodes well mentally for the build session.

Both Dale and TJ had a great time in the B race and fun blow by blows were shared on the drive home.

Wednesday I jumped out for a quick 1:30hr spin on the SS on the Frisco before loading up the crew and heading to Silver Dollar City. The little guy had never been so everyone was looking forward to making sure he had a great time - mission accomplished! Fun time and the boys were all smiles until they hit the pillows at the end of the day.

BTW - Do not miss the below event put on by Jeff Yielding and the Hermann crew:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Change of Direction

Finished up mtb racing and found I was mentally and somewhat physically tired so I am dropping the crit racing in KC and Lawrence, taking a couple weeks R&R, and then building for the 'real' season. I think the tiredness is primarily due to I am a person who needs scheduling and routines and our new little one(s) this spring/summer has thrown me a little out of kilter with sleep and time in general (which is perfectly fine for now). It's just a matter of time before we all adapt to a new routine and training/racing is just as much fun as ever. I've learned over the years to listen to my body and it told me it was time to regroup so that's what I am doing.

The little guy is work, but its good fun work as he and we are meshing really well. He is feeling more and more comfortable at home and with us and is becoming more and more independent with his play. It's pretty funny how he looks a tad like Jake and Ian when they were young.

Learning experience/refresher as Friday evening we went to support the Bolivar Relay For Life and ended up staying there until 10:30pm or so and that was wayyyy past a 5 yr old's bedtime and we paid for it with one tired/upset kid; totally forgot little guys need schedules (similar to me already).

Saturday we took him to the zoo and had a blast. He had never been before and it was fun watching him discover new stuff. SGF zoo is one of the worst I've attended so if he liked that he is going to flip when we hit STL or Omaha! Got some great pictures and video, but can't post any pic of him that show his face (legalism).

Jake returned late Saturday night from his mission trip to Toledo, OH and everyone was psyched to have him back home. Ian put it best that our house is wrong without him; going to be tough on all of us this fall. Glad he is staying nearby.

Sunday was spent enjoying the boys, the afternoon with my dad and mom and my bro's family.
Trek sold so I just ordered up some carbon 50mm tubular cross wheels for this fall. If you can't be fast than at least look it, right?!

So I enjoyed my first week of rest and one more to go before build up to Jeff Y's season opener. Going to be interesting to see how this season plays out since we now stretch it to January... and of all places Madison in January (you know I'm heading up there to race with the Jackalope herd)!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2011 MTB is a Wrap - Landahl MO State Race

First part of the 2011 'cross season is a wrap closing it out with the MO State Champs in KC this past weekend. For me spring is a time to get in some general fitness, sharpen the handling skills, and throw in some racing for good times. Usually I am done with mtb'ing at the end of May, but this year I was having so much fun on the SS 29'er I extended it a couple weeks and I am glad I did. Up next for me is a week off the bike, a handful of crits in July then building for what to me is the focus of the year - cyclocross, baby!

So, this past week I felt absolutely drained and tired after the Down and Dirty in Warsaw; not from the race itself, but just generally. Outside of cycling our family has been much busier than normal (for us and I'll get to that later) and I think it was starting to take it's toll on me. I took a super lite week of riding with a recovery spin on Monday, good long effort session on Wednesday and some openers on Saturday. I needed rest more than anything and by Saturday's openers I was feeling pretty good and ready for Sunday's race.

CMac and I made the trek to Landahl Park Sunday morning but not early enough to get in a pre-ride so it was going to be a learning curve as the race progressed. Word was the 7 mile course was super fast with a little bit of everything and they were spot on - fastest course I've raced in a long time. The temps were super nice (low 70's before the start) and it had rained lightly Sunday morning and a lot of folks were concerned about the 'rock' sections; it had been several years since I last rode Landahl and I remembered some significant ledge/rock sections but had never ridden them wet - you needed to be on your game to stay upright on these sections, but I thought it made it a fun challenge. With such a fast loop expected we figured the 2 loop race (for SS class) would last just a hair over an hour which is not good for me as I tend to do better the longer the event, but it was what it was.

Great turnout in general for the race and a good sized field in the SS class with some fast guys (pretty sure CMac had it in the bag as long as he rode clean). Gun goes off and get a decent start setting in third for most of the first 1/2 of the loop; Cale and Mark Cole rode off. A pre-ride would have helped as I was a tad tentative on the crazy fast single track, but it turned out like you were on rails flying through the woods. Got to a double track opening and a handful of guys passed me in an open section and I didn't respond like I should have and was sitting 7th or 8th as we entered into the single track for the second half of the loop. This is where the handling was key as there there several rock ledges and formations that were really slick and folks were dumping left and right. I rode a steady pace and 'cross'ing' it (dismount and run) when I saw riders having problems with sections and took little risk. I couldn't believe how fast the loop went and at the end of 1 of 2 I was in 4th place with a guy right on my butt.

Second lap was similar to the first, but was able to ride the single track 'cleaner' as I knew a little bit of what was coming up. These sections were so much fun! Got passed again in the double track and now was in 5th (with a pretty decent gap on 6th). Hooked up with Josh Taylor (Cat 1 race) and we rode most of the loop together. With about a mile to go I t-boned a ledge with my rear wheel and immediately I lost a ton of pressure, but was about to continue on for a short bit. Like the idiot I am I didn't pack a co2 as I figured with such a short race if I had to change out a tube my hope of winning was over so I simply didn't take one. So with 3/4 mile to go I was totally flat in the rear and started running. Josh offered me a hand, but I told him to ride on as I had to live with my stupid decisions. I was actually making pretty good time on foot over the rough terrain, but as I hit the clearing (100 meters from the finish) Pete came out of the woods and passed me to take 5th and me with 6th (MO State I was 4th) - bummer, but what can you do... Cale rode away from everyone and easily won the state jersey (champion) so at least I got to share a ride with the smell of a new jersey (ha). Mark G. dominated the marathon class so it was good to see SWMO getting the job done and snagging it's fair share of bling.

By far the Landahl course was the funnest I've ridden in a long time; great mix of everything except climbing. Cale and I both commented on how short it was and how neither of us felt very taxed. The promoters did a great job with every aspect of the event. Good to see some of the regulars and several I hadn't seen since 'cross season.

I had a great handful of races with some decent results this spring and feel my handling is what benefited the most from the time on the trail. Hard to explain how much fun I had with the 29'er (forgiving for my bull-in-a-China-shop style) and equally so with the SS.

Up next hopefully is a couple days of the Tour of KC (hard to make all three days) which will include Friday night at Longview, then a couple days for the Tour of Lawrence. After those I'll find a couple more in July then regroup to start training for 'cross.

On the home front this week we got 'the call' and now have a new little guy living with us. While I won't go into details this little 5 year old boy is a great fit (already) with our family and hopefully it works out that he is with us for quite some time. This has changed a ton for our lifestyle and now all of us are getting re-familiar with Hot Wheels, Disney Jr., and Lincoln Logs. After dinner every night he is already going for the ball gloves and shags Ian's hits for hours. While it is a lot of smiles for us it is a load of work; did I mention lots of work?

Jake currently is on a mission trip to Toledo, Ohio for the week and will get home next Sunday. We talked a couple times and he is having a good time, but the schedule is busy as they are working in a food distribution place and then hosting a Vacation Bible School. Jake is a quality kid...

My day lilies are killing it right now and my established blackberries are pumping out just enough for a decent daily snack. Hopefully in a couple years I will have enough for multiple cobblers.

Absolutely enjoying my week of nothingness (fitness wise).

Oh, on a side note I am selling my 17.5" (medium) Trek Fuel if anyone is helping someone get onto trails at a good price. $400 gets a great running XTR shifter/brake (RIM only), XT crank (external BB), LX derailleurs, Rock Shox fork, and Bontrager Race Lite tubeless wheels.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Warsaw Down & Dirty

Not much shaking on the home front...

Tilled, mulched, and planted two new rows of berry plants in the backyard (1 x 4 plants blackberries and 1 x 4 plants raspberries). My established blackberries are right on the cusp of ready to eat and I'll looking forward to one of Deb's cobblers. Our strawberries cranked out a ton this year (even though I accidental tilled under several plants - doh!) and the rest of the garden is coming along nicely. Last weekend I put in a ton of various flowers in the beds along with a new shrub bed in the front to block the sight of electrical boxes. Hasn't rained a lick since dropping these all in so I am watering daily to make sure they survive and establish good roots.

Jake snagged a job at DQ and starts tomorrow. He has a couple friends working there and they were super flexible to work around some already scheduled mission trips/activities this summer. He is looking forward to having a little spending money in the ole pocket now (ha). Over the weekend we sold his (technically ours) Isuzu Rodeo. Kind of a mix of feelings as our family took tons of trips and shared a bunch of fun in that thing. It was the first vehicle I ever bought new off a lot (1995 model bought in 1996). Felt good about selling it to a lady in a tough spot at a good price for all; we were really looking just to free up a parking place at the house (ha).

Ian wrapped up 6/7th grade basketball camp (they let him and a couple kids play up for the week) and knocked out a couple baseball games. Busy week for him, but all right in his 'wheel house'. His Bandits team is 9-2 and playing some of the best ball I've seen them do in some time. Eball got his best hit ever (deep right field on the line) scoring a couple RBI's and make a sweet solo double play in the field. He likes baseball, but will quickly tell you it's just killing time to basketball season.

Got in some decent riding this past week with a 83 miler on Monday with Dale (crazy windy ride) down new Sac then over to Fair Grove before returning home. Got in a little bit of sprinting trying to get by the cow in this picture (and no it was Greene County and not Polk). Good interval workout on the SBU crit course Wednesday along with some basketball at noon several days, solid 2hr ride Friday morning at Sac (missing Ira already), and a fun light 2hr spin with Deb on the tandem on the Frisco early Saturday morning. I have a blast riding with Deb on the tandem as we chit chat, laugh, and always have a good time. She is quite the stoker and not a whiner (nice on both accounts). We finished up with ride with a couple mocha's and donuts before going back home to boys just waking up.

Most rides from here on will be in the AM as the temps (and humidity) are climbing. A handful of years ago I got a pretty stiff heat injury during an adventure race in Nebraska and have never fully recovered (absolutely no problem with cold temps). That's why I usually move from mtb racing to crits at the end of May for the summer as the stagnant hot air in the woods zaps me much worse than having air moving over me during crits even with temps near the 100's. After years of doing this I know my limits and this year I am pushing them trying to make it the state mtb race next weekend (will probably pay for it).

Yesterday was a hot one in the woods at the Warsaw Down and Dirty race (united dirt federation). I raced the SS class and pretty much set in the lead group for the first ½ of the first lap (1 or 2) trying to not overheat. It was all going good until I got stuck behind a wreck (no big deal) and began chasing hard to catch back to the leaders. In my haste, I overcooked trying to pass someone and took a nasty fall on some rocks… leaders ride away. Chased for 4 or so miles and at the end of the 1st lap I am in 2nd with the leader just ahead of me. I grab a cold bottle and notice the leader is doing the same and I get out first. Led the whole loop by quite a bit but keeping it under control as I was on the limit of overheating and a couple times I even stopped to cool off a tab dumping water over me. 1 mile to the finish and I miss a turn (unmarked and on the first lap a guy in a vehicle was there telling us where to go, but on this lap he is nowhere to be found and I caught a glimpse of an expert rider up the trail – he missed the turn also). I ride quite a ways before I turn around as it just didn’t look and feel right. I jump back on the course and see off in the distance the guy who was 3rd (now 2nd), I chase and catch him pretty quickly, catch a glimpse of the (now) leader and close in, but ran out of trail and he beats me by 20sec or so. Frustrating, but oh well 2nd is still pretty good. Asked the race director about it and was told the corner marshal left to help an injured rider. Turns out I was one of several who missed the turn. Decent event, but not a huge turnout.

Quick drive back home and the rest of the evening with the crew was kicked back in front of the TV catching the X-Men trilogy (never watched them before and the kids love 'em). Before turning in I went out and watered most of the new flowers, berry bushes, and shrubs; like walking a pet before bedtime...

Got in a nice recovery spin and mowed the lawn all before 8am this morning. Good way to start the week. Vacation Bible School at church starts this week and Jake is leading a Middle School group, Ian is a participant, while Deb and I will work the Wednesday evening carnival. Ian's got a couple baseball games in SGF tomorrow night, but the rest of the week looks pretty tame - NICE.

This weekend is the MO State MTB race in KC (Landahl Park) and it will be my last mtb of the year before shifting to some crit racing. This is the farthest into summer I've ever ridden mtb's; the heat in the woods is really starting to get to me and if its miserable come Sunday I'll stay home...