Monday, December 29, 2014

Cruising Through Boxing Day CX and Beyond

Been staying active on the bike since missing the MO State race (end of my competitive season) doing a good mix of intervals along with bike driving, but nothing of great intensity.  I'm enjoying riding/racing out the season on what I have left and having fun with it and making it through the holidays with the family with no stress.

That being said after Festivus in STL I had an open day on the 26th so Dale and I headed to KC for Boxing Day CX.  The initial plan was to race masters and then a couple hours later do the Open, but that changed about half way through the masters race; I'll get to that in a minute.

After a great Christmas day with the crew Dale and I headed out early getting to the race venue to see an interesting lay out for the course.  First and foremost let me say I am not a 'hater' and truly thank anyone who puts on a race.  Big Kuddos!  The course, pancake flat was a series of go straight, turn 180, go straight, turn 180, look out for the log, go straight...  Absolutely uneventful and uninteresting, but still thankful someone put it together and I was racing. 

Lined up in a field of combined masters ages for a mass start and off we were.  Justin Bowes, visiting from Chicago, set a fast pace right off and I sat on his wheel (big gap quickly formed behind) for the first half of lap.  Over a pole/log barrier I upped the pace and from there on out I was off by myself to the finish.  With 1 1/2 laps to go I did have a run in/tangle with a lapped rider that tore up both shin fronts and hurt pretty good, but was able to continue with plenty of room at the end.

Small fields this time of year

Half way through I decided to skip the Open race and head back home early as the loop was brutally boring and saw no reason to do it again.  Talked to a couple locals and they referenced a long trail system nearby so Dale and I ended up riding 1.5 hrs on that before loading up and heading home.

Sunday was a Christmas day with my folks so couldn't make the Grote race and this Wednesday forecast for Cross off the Year race has 22* as the high and night prior at 9* so I see no reason to battle the elements.  So that means heading out of Bolivar on Friday to Dallas and racing Sat/Sun at the Resolution Cup event.  After that its an easy cruise on to Austin for Nats

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Festivus Fun and MIA at State

Continuing the theme of my past month of racing of battling sickness, feeling good, battling sickness, feeling good... this time it was feeling really good coming off Ruts N Guts and heading to the MO State race in KC on Saturday.  Solid week of training and then on Friday while out loosening the legs and getting in some openers my front wheel washed out on a quick little decent asphalt turn and nailed my hip hard.  Got back up and will some light pain could pedal, but when I got off to run I knew I was done.  Lots of deep pain and I limped home...

The state race was going to be my last 'focused' race of the year so I was a bit bummed to not participate.  Oh well, there was still plenty of 'fun' racing left in my season as after a handful of light days on the bike I was able to run by Thursday and on to the next events.

Found STL was racing on Sunday at Castlewood State Park at an event called Festivus CX (or something like that).  Drove up solo early Sunday morning and arrived with time to preview the course and catch up with some 'east coast' folks.

Fun interesting course with only one pit per lap (would play a role later on) with the first half being a drivers course with plenty of turns, sand, hoppable logs and the back half total power pedaling.  Temps were in the mid-40's and the turf tacky.  Decent sized combined masters field lined up along with the SS group.  The fast guy of the group was Columbia's Ethan Frose who has a huge motor. 

Lined up, whistle blows, and settled into 2nd place for the first 1/8 of a lap before upping the pace and opening a gap on the field. This held for the first two of five laps; every time we hit the power section I could see Ethan closing the gap.  He made contact with three to go, sat on me for 1 1/2 laps then dropped the hammer in the open section.  Dug deeper than I wanted (knowing both of us were racing the Open later) and heading into the start of the last lap he had a 10 sec gap.  Instantly I closed in the driving portions and figured something wasn't right.  When I reached Ethan he let me know his front was flat.  I cruised around and finished with the win with a healthy gap.  No doubt Ethan would have won, but it was what it was.

Early on with Randy and Ethan breathing down my neck

Ethan biding his time before dropping the hammer
Beach/sand section was good for 'runners' like myself
Rock and I posing with Santa at the Festivus podium pole
Kicked back during the hour gap until the Open race started.  Small (but quality) field and right after the start I knew it was going to be a struggle for the next hour.  Three laps in I was comfortably sitting in 5th when I caught a sharp rock instantly flatting my rear tire pretty far from the pit.  Passed by a couple (including Sunny Gilbert) and by the time I swapped out bikes most everyone was out of sight.  Chased hard for a couple laps, but ran out of gas and finished 6th.  Josh Johnson, Columbia, laid waste to the field.

Solid field in the Open

Singer always takes the best pics

On the 'B' bike after my flat

Course spent plenty of time in the woods

Fun and productive day on the bike; glad I made the trip.  Was also able to knock out some Christmas shopping while in the big city.

Up next is Boxing Day in KC on the 26th. 

***Photo from several different folks including Dan Singer, 2 Timing Guys, Randy Murdick, E'ville Mike...***


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Back in the Saddle at Ruts-N-Guts

Felt good to be back racing after a three week break.  Leading into Jingle I had some respiratory issue and not until early part of last week did I feel back to regular and able to push training efforts.  This was great news long term, but meant Ruts N Guts (RNGs) would be tough. 

RNG's is in Tulsa (actually Broken Arrow), OK and this is my third time to the event.  Historically a three day race this year was moved to a two-day weekend and at a new venue.  I like going to this as there are always a new group of racers whom I rarely will see during my season; variety is the spice, right?  Last year the competition was solid, but the promoters missed the boat on a couple issues; those would all be fixed.

With my masters race starting at 10am Saturday (and Sunday) Dale and I headed out mid-day Friday and got to the course for a preview and to set up the 360 Racing compound with teammates.  New venue was flat, but the design used some pretty cool aspects of what was available and the wet/damp conditions would make it challenging.  I was not thrilled to see the multiple open power sections as I knew my legs didn't have it in them at this point of recovery.

Saturday morning came and them temps were in the high 40's and the course was wet/damp through out and muddy in some sections.  Good field lined up and off we went.  Race pretty much went like this:  hold on for dear life in the power sections, recover and move forward in the technical portions, hold on again as the power increased on the front and wait for the technical...  For the first half of the race six of us were all together with no one getting away and no one dropped.  Then it started when Ian Moore, strong guy from Texas, lit it up and splintering started.  Two Soundpony guys were between Moore and myself and with one to go I was closing on them, but ran out of course finishing 4th.  Had no idea how I managed that and was happy to be in the mix.

Rick was driving it both days while I was hanging on for
dear life in the open power sections
Technical sections I would catch back on and move near the
front until the next power drop
Day 1 podium
Sunday morning came and after a quick warm up my legs didn't feel too bad and was optimistic for the day.  Course was ran in reverse of Saturday's and was significantly drier; the combination of the two was going to make for a way faster day and that is not what I needed...  Temps were again in the mid-upper 40's which felt good.

Same crew at the start and after a couple laps still the same six guys.  The pace was absolutely stronger Sunday and I kept popping off on the long power sections and grasping my way back on, but after three laps I was off (so was one other before I popped) and watching four go up the course.  Kept steady and inched closer to my teammate Rick Moseley at the end, but his effort nabbed 4th and I was 5th (still in the money and podium).  Way faster race!

Had two days of solid starts; starting to hit the pedal early
Quicker than riding but I didn't figure this
out until it was too late

Think this is the point where I couldn't cover the gaps anymore and had
to ride my pace and not blow up 

Spent a lot of time solo chasing/holding off
Day 2 podium and a little more change in my pocket.  Guess the wind was
blowing hard on the right of this picture...
Breathing issues seemed non-existent so happy about that.  Now for a handful of hard training weeks leading to Nationals.

Trying to figure out next weekend as it's the MO State Champs in KC on Saturday, but on the same day Ian has a home ball game and there are a couple other things I would like to do.  No idea when I will decide to race or not.  After that its Boxing Day 'Cross in KC then 'Cross Off The Year in KC then the start of heading south...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jingle Cross (Did Not Rock)...

There are a bunch of fun challenging weekends across the midwest, but for me Jingle Cross in Iowa City, IA has always been top shelf quality (along with Louisville and now Cincy) and it's obvious more and more racers are figuring this out.  The numbers across the board not to mention the quality depth in each field was by far the best I've seen at this event since I started coming.

Let me back up; after Hanna's Hope I was still battling a chest and head cold, but it seemed like I was on the mend and while I didn't hit any super intensity training during the week I felt way good enough to feel confident for the weekend in IA.  Yes, temps were cold (really cold), but everyone had to battle the elements just like the next guy, just didn't realize how this would affect me.

Friday early Dale, Ira, and I loaded up and made the six hour trek north to Jingle Cross.  Uneventful drive (always good) found us at the race site a couple hours before start time which gave us plenty of time to throw up the KUAT canopy and walls (slight issue as only three were packed leaving us exposed) and get prep'ed for our 4:20pm start. 

Eric Burch, KC guy, and the Bowes' shared the tent for the weekend and I hope it was adequate for them to somewhat keep warmish and have a place to warm up.  Always good folks.

Took in a couple warm up laps and was amazed at how fast it was going to be.  Totally dry and the course was ripping.  This did not play to my strengths, but with the run up Mt Krumpet it might be the element that kept me competitive.

Lots of fast guys in our deep 45+ field and after a good start and 25 minutes comfortably in the top 10 I started struggling to get a full breath and felt like my throat was closing up.  I did what I could for the remainder and with guys passing me left and right in the last lap had no idea how I managed to even finish 13th.  It was bad, but I thought maybe Saturday would be better (spoiler alert - it wasn't).

Mt Krumpet run up is a strong section for me and
the more we hit it the better my results historically
Course the first two days were the fastest I've experienced at Jingle
Hung out and watched the rest of the evening events and cheered for our local guys before turning in for the night.

Saturday came and while my chest felt tight it didn't seem bad enough not to race.  Pre-ride found another day of fast dry conditions with limited slippage down the face of Mt Krumpet.  Going to be another fast race.  It was cold and felt very similar to Friday's race.

Whistle goes off, missed a pedal and quickly was moving backwards but by the time the 45+ hit the back of the 35+ at a tough bottleneck section I made a pretty stinking good dismounted move actually on the low side and moved right near the front of the race (honestly, it was awesome!).  As we manuvered to the long steep unjulating climb of Mt Krumpet I knew I was toast by the top.  I was not struggling, but literally gasping trying to get air.  I should have stopped right then, but the competitive nature wouldn't let that happen and as the race went on I wheezed my way to a brutal 21st place.  I was frustrated as my weekend was falling apart.

Not sure if this was day 1 or 2, but it didn't take long to
 run into the 35+ group (numbers starting with 300)
Punchy climbs on day 2
Cal-Giant brought a solid masters team from California

Packed up, headed to the hotel for lunch and clean up, before returning to watch the rest of the races.  I knew I was in trouble and decided then to pull the plug on Sunday.

Saturday afternoon the snow moved in and Sunday's course was exactly what I was hoping the entire weekend would have been - a drivers course.  It was tough watching, but got chance to cheer on teammates (Rick Mosley killing it Sunday with a 6th place) and friends before loading up and heading home.  Another Jingle done and dusted...

Recover seems to be the recent theme as I haven't kicked my head/chest cold for a week prior.  Tuesday my doc set me up with some meds to mend my chest and decided to put me on a daily inhaler (during season) to combat my asthma.  Taking some down days (when I should be full on intensity) to get healthy before stoking the fires again.  Looks like up next is Ruts N Guts in a couple weeks then MO State race on December 13th.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Supporting Local Racing (BTW - The End is Near)...

It must be as SW MO actually had a 'cross race and honestly, it was a great layout and fun challenging course.  Now, the reason I make such a big deal is historically 'cross just never caught on here and too many 'heros of the road' shrug it off as something to avoid and thus their 'minions' do the same.  Too many times in the past a 'cross' race was put on but in reality it was designed and intended for mtb'ers, which is fine to have a short track race, but don't call it a 'cross race.  I put on a little four week 'cross practice/mini race deal in August but attendance was low and not much interest was expressed.

Luckily that all changed this past weekend as Robert Ellis and his Cox Health crew put in a ton of work and effort and put on Hanna's Hope CX race Sunday.  Based on a cancer foundation the event was trying to raise money for it's cause.  I was on the fence about doing the event as KC had Sat/Sun events, but you know what I am a 'cross racer in the SW MO area and if there is an event then I should support it (and so I did).

The day after Cincy3 a massive head cold attacked me (cat1 style) and kept me off the bike until a light spin on Thursday.  That makes to bouts of sickness in three weeks (arg), but maybe that was not such a bad thing as I am feeling really physically recovered and ready for a good push of racing this month and early next. 

Friday got the HR elevated for a decent set of intervals on the rollers, Saturday pre-rode the Hanna's course several times before heading over to Two Rivers MTB Park and knocking out a couple hours of 'cross bike riding the trails and getting in a handful of solid climbing repeats (Jingle is coming), and so that brought me to Sunday morning toeing the line at a local event (only a 55 minute drive one way). 

Let me back up to the pre-ride:  Good course layout with three barrier sections (each unique in number and height) a short single track drop to a gravel road, fast open field sections, and then the sketchy parts where it went into the wood on some freshly brushhogged 'paths'.  These were rough, and rough, and then mostly rough.  Enough so I was on the fence about using a 'cross bike, but after four laps I found a little line that would work each time.  Aluminum tubies for sure as the carbons were staying at home.  Robert told me he and crew would work on the wooded sections to make them better. 

So back to race morning; pre-rode and sure enough they had killed it in the wooded sections and a great ridable wide path was there and this was going to be legit and fun.  Not a big field as I figured it would be small, with maybe seven starters.  UP ON A SOAPBOX HERE:  great to see OCC riders out in mass even though they primarily are a road team.  Tons of noticeable folks missing which is total BS and...  Never mind, I will walk away from that.

53 minutes of racing and by the end finished with a sizable gap on 2nd.  Pretty cool that all the podium guys kicked the winnings back to the race's cancer foundation.  It was a great event and lots of hard work and time resulted in SGF's best day of 'cross racing in many MANY years. 

Small field, but hey it is a start to hopefully more

Right after the race I headed toward the SGF trailhead of the Frisco Highline Trail to do a little ride support for Jake and his SBU Cycling club.  He and his girlfriend started this a handful of months back and Sunday was the club's big ride; 35 miles Bolivar to SGF on the trail.  They (a group of maybe 9) left at 1pm and I hit the trail at 3pm riding toward them.  Rode a good pace and after an hour I met the crew, feed them a bunch of energy food along with reloaded on water, and sagged them back.  That was a long slow ride as it was apparent several were in over their heads (which is normal).  Jake was herding them along like a good shepard tending a flock and as the last bits of light disappeared we got everyone to the finish.  Way cool to see the satisfaction and triumph the same as I do at races.  So that got me an extra 2:45 hrs on the bike spinning.  Good day.
Now a couple days of lighting the torch in the legs and off to Jingle Cross Friday morning.  Jingle is always a great weekend. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cincy3 Weekend; Devou Park the new Standard

Never been to Cincy3 in Cincinnati OH before, but now that I've experienced it I can't imagine not going every year from now on.  Big quality fields and well layed out courses very unique to the other every day.

So Thursday evening I hooked up with Jay Strothman in STL and we made the 7hr cruise to Cincy.  Temps were a little chilly, but nothing too bad when we arrived.  That all changes the following day as by my 1pm start time at Harbin Park the core temp was low 40's (feels like mid-30's) and raining... 

Got in a couple laps pre-ride before finishing out warming up on the trainer under the roof of a dry pavilion.  Course was constantly rolling and turny.  Ran low psi in the PDX's and headed to the start line.  In my race start (intermingled and not staggered) were the 45+, 55+, SS, and U19 (there are some freaking studs in this).  Needless to say it was wall to wall racing early on.  I started 2nd row and got off to an OK start and immediately concentrated on staying upright and punching it in the few places available.  By the end of the 45 minute effort I had only hit the deck once and felt pretty good about my 6th place finish in the 45+ (no idea placing overall).  I froze during this race and my fingers felt horrible for the rest of the weekend.  At one point mid-race we were pelted by sleet and that actually hurt.  Course ended up being crazy slick, but not muddy if that makes sense.

All weekend long I chased the guy behind
me in this pic; no idea who he is

Right gloves for grip, wrong
protection and density

J Card is quite the card and stupid fast.  Missed his call up
and started DFL and finished 4th

After warming up (actually never warmed up until I hit the bed that night) it was time to work the pits for Jay in the Elite race.  Crazy fast kids in that event and the bike control is awesome

Hit the bed kind of late as there was no hurry as Saturday's race didn't start until 3pm.

Well 3pm showed up way too quick and this time we were at Kings Park for a dry tough pedaling course.  Even though it was dry the temps were in the mid-30s (feels like mid-20's) with high winds.  Got in several laps on the course and it would be full gas the entire time with zero places to recover.  Same mix of categories for my race, but each field was way bigger and deeper quality as several opted not to race Friday.  Still a 2nd row start and 45 minutes of pain ensued.  Legs felt pretty good and was handling the technical aspects of the course (long sandpit, low stairs, double barriers, big freaking ditch, and two short, but crazy tough climbs back to back) but for the life of me couldn't grab a deep breath and felt like I was gasping way more than normal.  By the end I was 9th in the 45+ and that was probably where I belonged (maybe up or down a couple).  For how I felt I was fine with that. 

It was the coldest of all days but at least dry

So many fast juniors in our race; impressive numbers and skill

This is a small slice of the 'lump' at Kings, but after going up it four
different times each lap (two of which went straight up) it took its
 toll early especially with so many on course at once

Changed up and got to the pits for Jay's Elite race (started at 8pm) and like always - stupid fast.  Late to bed and an earlier rise as Sunday my race was at 11am.

Arrived at the Devou Park course a couple hours early and got in several laps on what we all though was the course...  Dry conditions and chilly, but not cold.  As I was finishing up some trainer time Jay zipped in and asked about a couple sections of the course and I had no idea what he was talking about.  Turns out we all were pre-riding the juniors course and there were significant sections opened after I was done previewing.  Did make it to one significant section of downhill, technical climb/run up/and steep run up before it was start time.  Today was the same mix of racers with the addition of the 35+ group who have a ton of fast guys aboard.  This game me a 5th row start but by the end of the pavement I had moved through several and was well placed heading onto the never ending climbing course.  Well, that didn't last too long as another 'newly opened' section was right away (a crazy off-camber long section that was pretty wet from dew) and I was totally unprepared.  I got tangled up with several others and before I could get clear I was way in the back.  It was so early in the race, but mentally I lost it a bit.  My legs were feeling the days of racing, but I kept going at a decent clip really enjoying the crazy technical aspects of each lap.  By 25 minutes in I sort of shut down the racing inside me as I didn't feel like I was 'on it' and decided to ride out the rest of the race.  I know better than this and hardly ever have shut down so I was absolutely frustrated to find out I actually was well placed finishing 7th in the 45+ (argggg!!!)  Turns out I was riding better than I thought and I know of at least 2 in my category who were just ahead of me and racing till the finish might have moved me up at least a couple.  Oh well, live (race) and learn... 

If you read or watch interviews of the pro's who raced Devou all will say the US needs more courses similar to this if our juniors want to compete on the Euro scene.  Very technical aspects (not mountain biking types like local events think is cool), but cross specific sections requiring great handling skills and focus (vertically, horizontally, and descending).  It is hands down the best (and super tough) cross course I have ever raced.  Find it on youtube or somewhere but check it out.

I do have to say I was cooked by the end and was happy to have those races in the books.  Each one was uniquely challenging far apart for the other.  I'll be back for sure.

Watched Jay's Elite race then we hit the road for home.  Got into STL late so I crashed for the night and drove the rest of the way home Monday morning. 

On the drive Sunday night I noticed a slight head cold settling in and here it is Thursday and I finally got out on the bike for an easy 2hr spin after being destroyed by a massive cold that settled in my sinuses and chest.  Zero energy and constant sniffling and coughing (on a side note great ab work).  Laying low from racing this weekend as the following is Jingle Cross in IA and a 10 day forecast showed a 'wintery mix' on Saturday and a high in the 30's; it is Jingle Cross after all in mid-November...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wedding Weekend and Timely Sickness

This past weekend the plan was to attend my niece's wedding Saturday evening then high tail it to STL for Sunday's Gateway Cross Cup (masters and open).  Plans are necessary and good, but being flexible when plans go sideways is the key to keeping sain; this said my plans changed...
After Sunday's Joules Cross race I woke late at night with an odd stomach pain (and regular stuff that accompanies a bug) and it didn't stop until Thursday afternoon.  During this I lost a good amount of weight (dehydrated and zero appetite) and had no energy.  Made the quick decision to skip Gateway no matter how I ended up feeling Sunday and focus on getting fully healthy for Cincy3 (this weekend).  Flexible.
Hopped on the trainer a little Friday along with played some ball at noon; felt better but weakfish.
Saturday I rolled three hours on the mtb at Sac River and by the end I was back to feeling regular.
Saturday afternoon we headed to my brother's daughter's wedding which was a great evening.  Lots of fun and a beautiful event for two youngsters who love each other very much.  Jake and Ian were ushers and Darion was the ring bearer (all did a great job).  Once the reception was over it was clean up time and after a lot of friends and family pitching in it went pretty quickly and was home a little after midnight.  
I love this girl
Jake and Ian were ushers and Darion was the Ring Bearer
Jake and Marisa had a fun evening
My older boys with my wonderful Grandma Smith

Sunday morning Jim (my brother) and I headed back to the wedding site to finish the clean up.  It was a clear warmish morning and it was just he and I.  It was a great morning and one that made me not miss racing my bike one bit.  Hard to explain enjoying cleaning up and working, but I love my brother like a brother and a friend and I liked it being just he and I.  Got home around noon, picked up tons of walnuts with the boys then got on the bike for a solid high effort workout for a couple hours.  Totally recovered and looking forward to Cincy.

The timing of the stomach bug was pretty good and didn't really impact much so dodged a good one (knock on wood) unlike last year when I got sick and off the bike for 10 days smack in the prime of the season. 

Heading out Thursday with Jay Strothman and his crew for three solid days of racing. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Joules Cross and my Sesaon's 'midway point'

So it's no secret that Joules Cross in Lawrence, KS has never been a favorite of mine and in fact all week I was looking for an excuse not to go.  KBARCX (or whatever they call it) points were on the line along with the KS State Champs (on Sunday) and neither of those had impact on me, but it was a chance to race local (slightly under three hour drive one way) and Deb was game for joining me for the weekend; how could I pass that up.

After taking the prior weekend off from racing and knocking out tons of family time I was looking forward to toeing the line again.  The week had heavy solid training and for some reason Tuesday night I just couldn't sleep (no biggie), but the monster jumped on me when me and a couple other dads grabbed the boys from school early Thursday morning and drove to Des Moines, IA to catch a 7pm Golden State vs Denver Nuggets game.  Steph Curry and crew are Ian and I's favs so how could we pass this up.  Got there super early and got on the floor after the game and the boys loaded up on autographs and photos.  It was a blast, but then reality set in at 5am when we pulled back into Bolivar and work was 2 hours away.  I say all this because Saturday morning I was looking for a bed way more than I was a start line.

Klay Thompson after the game with the boys - great evening
Saturday morning and after a good warm up it was go time.  Temps were cool, but not cold and the course was pretty non-technical with one 10 meter section of mud between a quick descent and a short punchy climb.  It was going to be fast.  20 guys in just the 40+ field and no telling how many more in the 50+ and 60+; cool to see good numbers finally.  No pre-reg for me so to the second row I go...  Whistle blows and so do I; three attempts (see second pic below) and I cannot get clipped in.  Dead last and the front going away.  Took about a lap to catch up to the leaders and when I did I was feeling pretty good so I moved straight through them to get a gap.  It held to the end and I took the win with my teammate Rick Mosley taking second.

Good group of guys on Saturday (and Sunday) and I especially enjoy Eric
Burch as that knucklehead always has me laughing before and after the race

Missed my pedal three times and actually laughed out loud a bit
at my position once I got clipped in (yep, that's me DFL looking for a pedal)...
One muddy section on the course, which made it fun
Rick and I on the podium; not sure where the 3rd placed guy was

Cleaned up and spent a great day goofing about Lawrence (mostly on Mass Ave) with Deb.  Stayed up way too late before hitting the hay.

Sunday morning I was beat tired and I mean in a serious bad way.  Got over to the course late and with little warm up it was time to race.  The course changed directions which made for longer climbing and that's not what I wanted to see.

Second row start again and I only goofed my pedal once before getting it going.  Took me about 1/8 lap to catch the leaders.  Bill Marshall was in the race (wasn't there Saturday) and was pushing the pace early on.  Made a little move in the muddy lower section of the course only to have it fall apart as I blew a steep run (I tried to ride) up and couldn't unclip watching several places go by.  Got back going an had a lot of work to do as Rick had opened a gap on Bill and they were both far ahead of me.  Pressed the pace too much on a couple of turns in pursuit and crashed twice before I settled into a good rhythm catching and gapping Bill on my way to Rick.  Not quite half way into the race I see Rick just ahead of me jump off his rig and start messing with it.  As I pass he says his shifter is broke; no pit bike meant the end of his race.  That stunk for several reasons: 1) he is a Kansas guy and the race was their Championships, 2) he was chasing the KBARCX points and would have been in the lead if he had finished and now with two races to go he is pretty much done, and 3) he was on a really good ride on Sunday.  Now in the lead and Bill breathing down my neck I kept the gas on to take the win with not much to spare. 

Bill pushing the pace over the barriers early on

Teammate Rick Mosley was on a good day until a mechanical took him out

Yep, its a hay field...
Colorful fall day

Bill, myself, and Doug Stone made the podium
With Joules done and 17 races completed I find myself mid-way through the 'cross season with the biggies on the horizon (Cincy3, Jingle, Ruts, and Nationals).  Looked over the schedule and I roughly have 17 races to go.  Time to breath deep and get to work... or so I thought. 

Woke up late Sunday night (early Monday morning) with a hurting belly and all the fun that goes with it.  Thought it might be food poisoning, but once the fever set in I dismissed that idea.  Now it's mid-Wednesday and I am still in discomfort (no longer painful) and super weak from losing quite a bit of weight (that I don't have to spare).  Was planning to race Sunday at Gateway Cross (Saturday I have a wedding to attend), but now I am scrapping that in order to full recover and get going again.  The following weekend is Cincy3 and I am looking forward to this as I've never been.