Monday, September 30, 2013

Manions '13 In the Books

Solid week of training after TrekCXC and before you knew it Dale and I were packing up early (5:45am to pick him up) for a trip to KC supporting Volker Bikes and their race team at Manions.  Raced there a couple years back; hillside course has you either going up or down.
As we pulled into KC the rain started, but held up just enough for us to set up the mini-Kuat compound.  Racing masters is nice as it's usually the first race of the day so plenty of time to get out on the course and try to dial in some things. 
Course had tons (and I mean tons) of turning and tight turning on top of that.  During warm up there was plenty of grass (but that changes during the course of our race and eventually way worse) to drive all sections (except for the ditch).  I did one lap on the Clement MXP before switching to the Rhino's (with PDX on my B bike) the next and that was obviously the right call.
Two weeks ago it was sun shade, this week legit rain and wind shelter.
Good field (maybe 18-20 guys) in the masters 40+ race.  Been a while since I had seen some of the folks and that was nice to be back in the mix.  Start was less than stellar, but fine and by 1/2 way through the first lap I had a decent little gap on the field.  By the end I think it had grown sizable and was able to take the last couple laps off the gas to try to save some for the later Open race and come away with a W.  The course was more about driving than power which at this point of the season is good for me (still building).

Photo from Micah Gordon shows a little of what the course was about
Took it easy between races with Dale catching up with a couple folks here and there before lining back up for the Open.  Good sized field for a local race (maybe 20) with some fast guys.  Thinking I was in simply for training I went to the back of the field and figured I might be able to move through a couple guys, but soon after the start and the first two corners (I ran them instead of trying to ride through muck in a pack) I found I was near top 10.  I was riding well within myself simply choosing smart lines and dismounting at sections that were simply faster on foot then trying to ride.  I continued to move though guys until I was in 5th battling with 3rd and 4th (closing on 2nd).  Half way through I swapped out to my B bike with PDX's and continued to 'hook up' pretty well.  Then with 2 to go (think we did 7 laps) it was clear my steam was fading and 3rd and 4th put good time into me.  Simply maintained good lines and by the end snagged 5th place.  Pretty decent result for me and the only way this happened was being a good 'driver' and having solid equipment as it would have been a different story if it was a power race.

I am interested listening to folks after races talking/griping about not having this or that kind of wheel/tire or 'just putting a bike together' showing disappointment in their results.  Yes, bad things happen outside of our control during 'cross season, but equipment preparation along with pre-riding to select/adjust tire choice/pressure and such is a HUGE key to racing not too far behind physical preparation (much more so than other bike racing disciplines).  I think many overlook this.

Dale rode well in both the Master 50+ and the 3's. 

Kuat NV is the only way to go with muddy bikes.  And yes, I'll keep plugging them...
OK, guess which bike stopped of for a spray down after the race?
Yep, it was one of those kind of 'cross races...

Packed up after the race and headed home, but not before a stop at Freebirds (fav for the burritos) and a car wash for a little bike de-mudding. 

Decided after having a solid day to forfeit driving the 2.5hrs one way for day 2 of Manions to snag some time with the family.  Early morning spent detailing the bikes/wheels while watching Worlds (great finish if you are not Spanish) and then church.  Darion and I caught a movie then I kitted up for a nice three hour cruise.  Got to the edge of town enjoying the nice weather and did a 180* back to the crew.  Changed up and then Deb, Ian, D, and I rode bikes to the local tennis courts for several games (I'm pretty sure D and I won, but that's still in question), Sonic slushes, and back home to a great game of backyard football (D and I got beat on the last series, but it was close).  By then it was bedtime for the youngsters and I ended up on the rollers for a couple hours (catching up on Breaking Bad).  Plenty of two and three day racing coming up so the 'stay at home' pick was a winner as we all had a great day.

Up next is two days of 360 Cup in Lawrence, KS. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

TrekCXC Cup - Put it on your calendar!

This past weekend Deb and I headed north to Wisconsin for the TrekCXC Cup in Waterloo.  Was looking forward to several things on this trip 1)hanging out with my best friend, 2) seeing the MWI crew, and 3) competing at a national level event. 

Averaged 34.5mpg for the up and back trip.  Ford Focus + Kuat NV is a setup I am loving
Left Thursday evening, slept over is STL, and arrived at the venue around 3pm Friday afternoon.  Didn't know what to expect from the first year course/event, but during the pre-ride I immediately knew we were in for a quality production.  Course was more geared toward 'driving' with little open/power areas, just tons of turning and accelerations to the next turn.  Had a couple up and down sections that challenged everyone and added to the fun of the course.  Little bumpy in sections but not any worse than I've seen from established courses. 

Saturday morning and the MWI boys (and girls) start showing up.  Paul was in my race so spent some quality time catching up with him and later Ross showed up to run support in the pits (awesome); caught up with The Boss (Mike) who was pretty relaxed considering he is running the Rapha-Focus team these days.  Always fun to have him show the latest and greatest stuff out - my favorite is the Dugast Small Birds (check them out - on my wish list).

Due to my Cat 1 status (at registration that is) I was on the front row for the Masters 45+ race.  Quick start and after two laps I was still in the top 5, then reality settled in and folks started passing me (or was it I was passing them backwards).  Was able to put together a couple good finishing laps and snagged 10th.  Felt good about that considering the field and my fitness.

Lot of good laughter and guys on the start line
Saturday evening Deb and I kicked back and did a huge bunch of nothing which doesn't sound like much, but when you have three boys NOTHING is the best!

Day two was pretty much the same course with just a couple slight changes (nothing significant).  Decent start and into the mix.  Felt like I raced better than day 1, but also the field seemed to move much faster.  Bike driving was good while accelerating and top end are getting better with every race.  By the end I finished 13th, but the difference of being 6th or 7th was a mere 20 seconds.  I could see (even taste) them the last two laps just right there, but every time I closed to them on a technical section they was gap me on a open/power part.  Good racing on a tough (but fun) course and like I said it is getting better and better with every start.  Really looking forward to seeing the progress come October and on...
Up next is local (2hr drive for us is local) event in KC - Manion's.  Not sure if I'll do both days or just Saturday. 
The latest MWI product for sale on our team website are these (pretty cool):

During the weekdays now are mad dashes to get house projects done since I will rarely see it on the weekends until mid-December.  This week's project was getting weed killer down for the fall.  My father-in-law has a sweet sprayer setup on an ATV so I was able to knock it down in two days.  In two weeks I'll plug and slice and top off with an over seed. 
Last week our house (actually the buried dog fence) was struck by lightening which literally melted the fence wiring, blew apart the GFI, knocked out a couple electrical devices inside, killed the garage door sensors, and...  Never had this happen before and luckily nothing of significance was destroyed/too damaged.  That being said, add a handful of projects back to the list.
To quote JayZ "I have 99 projects, but the ditch ain't one" (something like that right?).  Love the panorama on the iPhone
Front and back

Entry walk way

Kitchen combined breakfast nook

Formal dining, entry, and (eventually) a casual reading/library area

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dogfish Hermann 'Cross

And so it has started...

Drove up to Hermann with Dale and Nate late-morning and upon arrival set up our mini compound (nothing like the northern MWI boys and girls do it) on the course.  Between Dale's trailer and the always appreciated support from KUAT (supplied canopy) it was a solid home for the next two days.

Side note:  Check out the new ...kuat.. TRIO and the much anticipated Vagabond Skinny (releasing soon).  Quality products from quality folks

Had plenty of time to pre-ride the course and it was a typical setup for Hermann with lots of twists, stairs (although not to the top this year) and plenty of open area for full throttle suffering.  Caught up with several folks I hadn't seen in some time which was great.
Nate had the first race of our group and placed really well in the 4/5 event (I think top 10).  Dale was up next in the Masters 50+ and had a great showing in a fast field.
Finally it was time for the Open race (start time 9pm under the lights).  Think there were 40 or so starters in a fast field.  I was anxious to see how my legs/lungs would go since it had been a while since in a race situation, but I found myself simply excited to finally be back on a start line since missing the majority of last year.  I was smiling ear to ear... until the start and it quickly turned to the 'pain face'!  Had a decent start but as the race went on I had no zip/punch in the legs to go with folks when the pace was increased (especially in the open fields).  I was driving pretty good and the Blue with Clement MXPs were spot on, just no pop.  Finished 18th and considering I felt pretty flat I was decently satisfied. 
After some chow and conversation it was lights out.
Sunday I decided to switch up to the Masters 40+ as it started 2 hrs before the Open and that would get all of us home much earlier. 
Nate was first again in the 4/5 and finished top 10 again.  Dale raced at the same time as I so I didn't get to cheer him on until it was over.
Small field in the 40+ with a great group of guys.  From the onset I knew I had pretty good race legs so after jumping to a gap after the first lap I settled in with the lead group until 5 laps to go (20-23 minutes).  I put in a good effort quickly building a decent gap which I held to the finish.  Felt like I raced Sunday and rode around on Saturday.
Packed up, gave Jeff and crew props and headed home.  SO FREAKING GLAD TO BE BACK RACING 'CROSS!!!!


Deb and I head out Thursday evening for Waterloo, WI (Madison area) for two days of TrekCXC.  Looking forward to seeing most of the MWI crew and racing a new venue/course.

Friday, September 13, 2013

'Cross-mas Eve 2013-14...

June was the last entry and it seems like just yesterday.  The summer was a vapor between buying a new place, moving, upgrading/maintenance, vacation, and the boys' games... oh, and somewhere in there get in some training.

The house:  All the major upgrades are done and now there are a handful of minor stuff (landscaping, clearing the undergrowth in the woods...), but these have no timeline so we are actually starting to LIVE in the house instead of WORKING in it.  Great space for the boys and Jake's college friends downstairs for being loud and active, loving my bike room with adjoining shower/bathroom, the main floor looks and is functionally great, and with the cooler temps and less bugs ready to break in the deck.  The full court basketball is nice as this summer we hosted Sunday Night Dunk Ball (lowered the goals to 9') and routinely had 15+ guys playing late into the night.

Main floor living room

Fully lit court in the backyard has been great
Basement area for the kids
The boys:  Jake is knocking out his Junior year at SBU and is doing great with a heavy math load.  He makes his way over to the house often which is always nice.  Ian is in the middle of soccer in SGF and that is going well along with his 7th grade classes.  He physically really stretched out lately.  Darion is also in soccer and going great in 2nd grade.  All of them are loving the new house and their new dog (Clohie), who is my morning running partner.

Intro to Rootbeer Float

Promised the boys a dog when we moved so here she is
Jake and his friend Marisa
Deb:  After a super busy move she has got the house looking awesome and totally functional.  She is ready to settle in and start living in the new place. 

Training/Racing:  Racing this summer leading into 'cross was pretty much non-existent, but training (when not recovering from a wreck) is going pretty well.  Form was coming pretty good then three weeks ago I smashed into a tree while mtb'ing and had to take over a week totally off while letting the internal damage drain (knee blew up huge and totally colored black). 

This is my quad/hip flexer immediately after impact with tree; that's not road/trail rash its straight impact
So got back on the bike and headed to Gateway Cup for Sunday and Monday crit racing to put a little speed in the noodles, but 15 minutes in the first race guy dumps right in front and I had nowhere to go except straight into him...  Hip/butt, shoulder, and leg with swelling and tons of rash; that sucked!  So a handful days off again letting the body heal and what do you know, it's time to Hermann Cross and my intensity is way behind.  Oh well, nothing like the 'Tilford' approach of racing yourself into race shape. 
That's me hanging on the fence trying to figure out what happened

Think the biggest disappointment was the mutilation of the San Remo suit...

So now it's Friday afternoon and bikes are dialed in and ready for a couple days at Jeff Yieldings Dogfish Hermann Cross.  This year I am skipping the masters and putting on the big boy pants in the open event. 

After missing last season (except four races) I am so ready to get back in the mix.  No idea how it will go, but after last year results don't matter near as much as just being part of the best time of year - 'cross season.

Beautiful Site
Riding Blues again this year with SRAM drivetrain and Clement rubber
Never know where the jackalope will show up