Monday, August 29, 2011

First and Last Crit of '11

Last week (actually the last three weeks) I got in some really good training both on the road and bike driving off road, but by Wednesday I was ready for a week of low-key riding to recover - nice! I took my typical rest Thursday, pretty much putted around Friday with Ira on the road, and then got a wild hair to do a little crit racing on Saturday. With Jake gone and Ian spending the weekend at the lake with some friends it was time to introduce Darion to bike racing.

This is always an interesting part of the season for me as I have good training under the belt, but have no idea where my 'real' fitness lays so I get antsy and nervous 'maybe I'm not doing enough?' or 'I feel quick, but is that just all in my mind?'. Last year the SGF dirt crits were in September so I got a great feel for my abilities, but with it moved to July and me missing most I still had no idea. A crit would be a great indicator...

Saturday afternoon Deb, Darion, and I headed to Sedalia for my first (and last) crit of '11. Typically by now I will have 5-7 done in late spring/early summer under my belt, but this year I did more mtb'ing than expected and I just couldn't get excited about crits - shame on me 'cause they are so much fun. After a short 1.5hr drive I was debating what race to enter: Masters 40+ or 3/4? Since Darion was with us and we are trying to keep him on a semi-routine schedule the earlier 5:20pm start time fit better than the later 7pm 3/4. Quickly found out I was the sole Cat 4 in the field and many of the names already signed up were fast guys; both of this had me a bit apprehensive, but that was quickly gone once the 50min race started and I found I was able to surf near the front comfortably (relative term) and even contribute to closing some gaps. Fun course and super smooth bunch of guys, which is a big change from lower Cat races where 'diving' for corners is the norm and not the exception; not the case here as the flow/corners were consistently risk-free. With 2 laps to go the pace drove faster and faster as teams were lining up 'their guys' so I took my cue (knowing I had no legs to sprint these guys) and at the beginning of the last lap I moved to the rear and rolled in having thoroughly enjoyed myself.

So, as far as fitness check: happy with right where I should be; little 'pop' or 'zip' to my legs, but I haven't started working that yet so I didn't expect much. I'm a tad frustrated now that I let the earlier crits slip by as I do have such a fun time at these. Next year (I know, everyone says that) I am not passing up on some crit racing.

The event and venue are really good and Deb and Darion had a great time watching. An easy drive home had the little guy in bed at a decent hour. It was a fun day!

Sunday was Deb's birthday so I got up early to make sure Darion didn't wake her up early (like usual) and at 7am I snagged him as he stumbled out of bed. He and I spent the rest of the early morning making Deb a 'personalized' b-day card and playing. Unsolicited he pointed out that if I pedalled harder I would do better, then went on with his business... oh how simple (and correct) are the observations of children.

Jake came over after lunch and we met up with Ian in SGF in time to chow down on some Japanese Steakhouse and do some light birthday shopping with Deb. Fun having Jake for the day and both the younger boys enjoyed it. Great day with the whole crew celebrating my sweetheart's special day.

Not much in store for this week; easy riding until Friday and then back at it for a decent workup to Hermann.

Over the weekend I put the finishing touches (still waiting for a Specialized Toupe saddle) on the Blue for full on 'cross season and this morning I got out and tried out my new wheels and Grifo rubber. This is my third year on the Blue and while my team has shifted to other brands I simply love the way she fits me and how everything works together pretty much without issue.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Two Ends of the Education Spectrum

Deb and I are still shaking our heads with slight laughter as last Thursday we dropped off Ian for his first day of his last year at Intermediate School, then Darion (our little guy) for his first day of Kindergarten, then later in the morning got Jake moved into Southwest Baptist University for his freshman year... that's a 13yr spread!

So last week was alot of fun seeing everyone get excited about their new beginnings, but it was especially tough getting Jake prep'ed for leaving us. We know it's physically only four or five blocks away, but it's the not hearing about his day every evening at dinner or quite knowing what's happening in his life - wierd stuff. He joined us dropping off the little boys (which they loved) and we snagged a 'Brenda's' breakfast before loading him up. Move in went super smooth and by day's end when we left him it just all seemed 'right'. No tears from mom, but lots of hugs initiated by Jake. It's nice that we are close by if he needs something, but knowing Jake it will be infrequent that we see him (at least for a while).

Friday morning Dale and I got in a couple hour 'cross ride on the backroads and at noon I got in an hour of basketball (been a couple weeks since I was last on the hardcourt). I like a good basketball workout once a week as it does a good job getting my running and agility skills sharpened.

Saturday I jumped on the road for a 3:15hr easy cruise meeting Deb and the boys (from now on 'the boys' will reference only Ian and Darion) at Nemo Park on Pomme De Tarre lake where my folks were camping in their new rig. Good ride taking me west to Fair Play, north to Dunnegan, Humansville, Weablue, then east to Wheatland, Hermitage, then down to Nemo.

Spent the morning checking out mom and pop's new 37ft travel trailer and it is awesome! The boys and folks played at the beach for a while before loading up and heading to Bolivar for lunch. Good times


Saturday afternoon everyone snagged a solid nap and the evening was spent hanging out doing some lawn maintenance and playing with the boys.
Sunday morning I met Dale, David, and Nate for a 2hr 'cross ride which included 2 x 30min race simulation at SBU. I was cooked by the end of it; solid deposit in the pain bank.

The rest of the morning had us at church and the afternoon more playing and yard work. Jake dropped in to say hey and do a little lite cooking for his small group; he was on cloud nine and loving his new adventure. Broke out the supplies and started gluing up my tubulars. I am a multi-day process guy so hopefully by Wednesday I can give them a 'roll around' and check the quality of my work.

Got a rest/recovery seven days coming up starting Thursday and am looking forward to it. Toying around the though of racing a crit Saturday evening in Sedelia

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Game Face

In preparation of the upcoming 'cross season I am going with the 'Last of the Mohican's' cut to get the intimidation effect over my competition... not really, read on.

So I'd grown my hair since January (light trims to keep it healthy and manageable) and was bound and determined to let it grow for a year, but holy cow it was driving me nuts!!! Yesterday I had had enough and so Deb got out the clippers and just like that I was back to zero head maintenance; awesome! But, during the process she cut me a nice little mohawk; the boys thought it was awesome (and so did I). I seriously asked Deb if I could keep it for a couple days for fun, but since tomorrow we take a youngster to kindergarten, one to 5th grade, and one to college I was DENIED!

Yesterday at lunch I got out and drove the bike a little over an hour at SBU opening up the legs for the evening's Sac Dirt Short Track race in SGF. Pretty good (quality over quantity) group showed for the last of the series and just like that it was game one. After having fun on the 'cross bike last week I decided to give it another whirl and after 1 lap I had a decent little gap on the field. JBrackett jumped to me as we hit the single track and I was surprisingly able to hold his mtb wheel though it and as we got to an opening I had a mechanical and dropped to 6th or 7th place. Quickly fixed I took off in pursuit feeling about as sharp as I had all year and making up ground quickly. Closing in on Mark G and poof, the rear goes flat and my race was over; bummer! Cale ended up with another win, JB second, Mark G third and Ira snagged a 4th. While it is a fast course there are just enough rough spots to keep 34mm wheels on the edge and I crossed over it. Oh well, fun evening and good for the moral as the preseason work is feeling good.

Dale, me, Ira, Mark, JB, and Cale

As mentioned above, big day tomorrow for the boys as they head back to school and Jake moves to a whole new stage in his life.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Branson Weekend, SGF Dirt Crit, and MTB riding (say what?!?!?)

Two weekends ago was a ton of fun. Friday evening we shared a condo in Branson with my folks and my brother's family and stayed in the area until Monday afternoon. Our weekend included some laser tag, mini golf, a day at Silver Dollar City, and wrapped up with a day at White Water. Lots of fun and quality time with the boys. The little guy loved both SDC and WW and couldn't decide which was the best (neither could I). Lots of pictures, but all contain the little guy so I can't post 'em.

The temps have dropped back to 'normal' and I am actually getting outside in the afternoons.
Tuesday morning Dale, Ira, and I got out for an hour of bike driving at SBU and then that afternoon Ira and I made an appearance at the Sac Dirt Short Track. We (mostly I) decided to take our 'cross bikes and while it worked out decent for me (4th place) Ira battled a couple flats. Fun course and perfect for working on mad driving skilz (that's for you Crusty) in the tight twisty stuff. Cale, JB, and Mark G were killing it like usual.

Wednesday was nice out so I got in some SST work on the road.

Friday Dale and I got out early and did a couple hours of solid bike driving at SBU, City Ball Fields, and the City Park. I love cutting the first tracks in fresh dew...

With 'cross season just around the corner it continues to be time to jump on early registration for fall races. This week I secured my spot in the USGP 2/3 race in L'ville (sorry Madison, couldn't fit you in my schedule) and today I locked up a spot in the USAC (not UCI) open race for the Gateway Cross Cup in STL. Next up is finding the opening for the Boss Cross races (think those guys are still trying to find dry ground).

Speaking of Gateway Cross, is it just me or is this the weakest promoted UCI event ever? Very interested to see the turnout.

This past weekend I got in some solid riding with some quality hill intervals on Saturday and went with Ira to Warsaw on Sunday to do a little mtb'ing (I know, I said I hung it up, but the opportunity presented itself). The SS Champs were going on at Warsaw and I needed an easy longer ride instead of pushing the limits for the 2nd day in a row so I got in 3hrs of ss pedaling while Ira killed it to bag a 5th place in the 'fast guys' race. The temps were pretty cool and made for a great morning.

Just a couple days until we send Jake off to SBU (a whopping three blocks away). We'll see him plenty, but just in a new way from now on - weird!

Funny (to me, not so much with Deb) thing; over the weekend I taught Ian how to drive the scooter by himself. I remember being 10 and riding a mini-bike all over the place; it was a blast and I totally understood his anxiousness. So while Deb was in SGF Ian quickly got the hang of it and was cruising all over the backyard (and doing well). Yesterday while I mowed he jumped on it again and was having fun until... I asked him to park it in the garage (not thinking much of it) and as I came around the corner there he was pretty shook (physically fine) with the scooter laying on the ground at the side of my Durango; he T-Boned it! Put a solid dent in the truck, busted up the fairing on the front a bit, but he wasn't hurt. We had a long talk about controlling speed and being safe, shared a bunch of hugs, and laughed it off. We went inside... Deb was not over joyed with me; sad how I felt 10 myself again apologizing just like I did when I was growing up (guess I still am).

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Morning Bliss

Always interesting to me that the closer 'cross comes the more I blog...

This morning (Friday) was a long awaited return of the 'Friday Morning Mistress Ride' ('cross bikes early AM on the back dirt/gravel roads of Polk County). Sure I've been getting in some rides and more and more on the 'cross bike, but to me there is something satisfying about getting in a solid 3hr cruise Friday mornings. I think mentally it sets my weekend up for quality stuff on Saturday and Sunday (or if I need to skip one it's not a big deal).

This morning almost fell through as the lightening was still popping right up until our 6am departure. Dale and David were on board and we headed out northeast to hit up some lumpy gravel I hadn't seen in a while.

Interesting side note on Polk County backroads: a handful of years ago they chip-n-sealed tons of our favorite routes, but over the past couple of hard winters they have broken to bits. Instead of patching or re-covering they have dropped tons of a fine/medium gravel mixture to make them somewhat passable to autos; this is perfect for us as 'cross bike routes are re-opened (hate riding asphalt on these rides).

3hrs in the saddle was just right as the skies opened up with lightening and rain as we pulled into town. Great ride and super company. Nice adding David to our mix as he if fairly new to 'cross riding but pretty strong rider none the less.

My gym work seems to be paying off as my core and legs feel more sharp with every session. Dale has joined me for some and laughs about feeling the results for days...

Heading out this afternoon for a three day get-away with the family to Branson. Not sure yet if I am taking a bike... nice thing about this being a hobby. Our little guy is hyped to go to 'Hundred Dollar City' (correctly incorrect for SDC) on Sunday then White Water on Monday; he told us he has never stayed in a hotel before so this is all a new experience; fun to share. The bigger boys always have fun when we head out of town as a group and no reason to expect this to be any different.

A couple fun/cool things coming down the pipeline on the MWI front and will share as they develop.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First 'Cross 'Win' of 2011

Not a lot to report on since returning from Jake and I's trip except for the heat and dryness (but everyone is experiencing that so no more on that topic).

Been a while since I referenced our little guy. We have passed 2 months now and it looks like we are a good fit for him and he for us. Both the boys are given the full stamp of approval so hopefully this will workout long term. He is a handful from time to time (as we all are) while trying to establish trust and attachment and teach structure and rules, but considering from where he came he is doing awesome. Found out last night he has gotten quite the talent with a soccer ball so look for him on a field this fall. It is a different world having a 5yr old around as Ian kind of skipped over the 'kid' stuff and went right from the crib to Sports Center so it's been since Jake was young since we played 'cars' and with toys. Deb and I ask ourselves 'what are we doing' from time to time, but when the little guy hops up in your lap to read a book or gives out huge hugs before bedtime it makes all doubts disappear.

Training is going really well and pretty much all it taking place prior to 9am ('cool' of the morning). Pretty happy with how things are progressing.

Tuesday morning I met up with Dale and Ira at SBU and we cruised around a bit before getting in some light interval work. It mentally felt good to shift from mtb'ing and road to my true passion and the beginning of 'cross specific tooling. While most of the continued base work is on the road I will find myself on the various SBU courses a couple times a week in the wee early hours.

Got a good laugh from Jeff Yielding letting me know I won my first 'cross race of '11 when I was the first to register for the Dogfish Cross in Hermann (Sept 17th/18th). He has thrown some new twists/incentives to this year's event and as always will be a stellar one not to miss. I opted the route of 'motel' this year instead of a floating trailer; we'll see how that works out...

Heading for a long weekend in Branson with my mom and pop and Jim's family; our yearly get together.