Monday, September 29, 2014

Oakley Night Cap Cross Weekend - Quick Triple

Finished out a great three week block of heavy training/racing with the Oakley Night Cap event in Des Moines, IA this past weekend.  Historically it's just been a Saturday evening event, but with it's popularity and growing turnouts they extended it to a two day event.  Perfect way to load up the body before a recovery week.

There were other races much closer than the 5+hr drive up north, but it was by far the most competitive fields, the courses are legit, and worth the trip for the atmosphere. 

Saturday was a long day as Darion had a soccer game at 8am in SGF (opposite direction as Des Moines) so up and at 'em early to get him to his game.  Headed out immediately after his team's win, picked up Ira (temporarily back in Bolivar for a bit) back in Bolivar, and 5 hrs later we pulled up to Mullets (race site).  Had just enough time to grab my number and grab a couple laps before the Masters race at 4pm.

Must have rained recently was the course was super damp making the grass thick and slow and the corners just a tad dicey.  Course had a ton of turning (which is great as I need constant practice at this) with enough power sections to open the legs, and three dismounts per lap (well, three for most of us).  The temps were climbing and it was hot and humid at the start.

35+ headed out 15 seconds ahead of my group with the 55+ (meaning Tom Price) with the same gap behind us.  Solid group of racers as Jim Cochran (5th at Nationals last year) was present and he is a hammer.  Race got off to a clean start and 45 minutes later Cochran took the win with me coming in 2nd.  His gap was pretty good back to me; after me was a huge gap to 3rd.  Felt good, but would have liked to have arrived earlier and got more of a warm up, but it was what it was.

Jim Cochran has my number and is legit fast
Kicked back a bit, watched Ira warm up for his race, consoled him a bit after he crashed out of his race (busted his helmet in the mess), and before you know it it was time to line up for the 1hr Open race. 

Temps were much better, but the heavy dew made for a slick course (I switched from MXP to PDX's).  Got in a good warm up and toed the start line in a 39 racer quality field.  2nd row start was result of USAC points (which I wish all events would do) and off we went.  Slotted in to 5th spot right off the start and then a bit of chaos insured as someone in front of my went down in a 180 off camber turn causing me to slide out; the field behind was stacked up.  By the time things got sorted out I had lost a ton of places, but after riding well and pressing all the way to the end was able to snag a top 10 spot (I was 10th).  Very satisfied with that effort, but one the last lap I slid out on a corner and jammed my ankle into chain rings (it freaking hurt). 

Start of Saturday's Open race

***Edited photo from Ken Sherman***
I always have trouble sleeping after a late race and with my ankle throbbing it was 4am before I dozed off.  3.5hrs later it was time to get up and get ready for the Sunday Masters race (at 10:50am).  Was barely able to walk on the ankle as it swelled pretty good, but after a light spin to grab breakfast and a good warm up at the race site I was ready to go.

The course was basically the same concept, but ran in reverse and shortened.  I thought it made for a harder course with less places to recover, but that just might be me.  Cochran opted not to race, but a couple fast guys from Omaha (who didn't race masters the day prior) were in my race.  Whistle blows and I pegged it pretty good and after 45 minutes took the win with a manageable gap to 2nd and 3rd. 

Greg and Brady kept the pressure on the entire race
That made for three races in a 19hr period.  I was cooked afterwards!

Ira opted to not race (I actually encouraged him to skip it) as he had some slight nausea from his Saturday wreck.  Loaded up with car with the weekend's winning swag and 5hrs later pulled in at home. 

Deb had fresh banana bread waiting (she rocks) along with smiles and hugs from the she and the boys.

So up this weekend is my team's 360 Cup weekend in Lawrence, KS.  I love this course/venue and hope we have a solid turnout.   So far I've gotten 12 'cross races in (and it's not even October yet); I love it so!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Buffalo Bill 'Cross Daily Double

With a much disappointed skipping of Trek CXC weekend in WISCO and nothing local (for me that means 3 hrs or less) on Saturday it was a double up day in Leavenworth, KS at Buffalo Bill Cross on Sunday.  Never been to this course/event before so had no idea what to expect from attendance to layout, but its a race and lets get it on.

Left the casa around 6:15am and pulled up to the venue 2hrs 45min later to find the 360 Racing crew had our compound dialed in and ready for the day.  Great support from this group.  Unloaded, pre-rode a couple laps, and found the course short, non-technical, with only one dismount, (double barriers), and two significant climbs (and descents) with a couple short punchy climbs thrown on top.  It was going to be a day of hill repeats which would make for a great workout.

Good warm up done and toed the line with most of the usual KC Masters field (minus a couple notables).  Although there were only 10 in my 40+ field turns out the whole masters group was 32 strong (that's pretty cool).  The race started with a straight climb up asphalt then down then back straight up a grassy climb before leveling out a tad and at the start I go into 3rd or 4th up the two climbs to get a feel of the field and found I was feeling pretty good.  So I went to the front and pushed the pace and 45 minutes later finished with a win and a pretty decent gap to 2nd.  The only real interest of the race was with 2 to go I was passing a lapped rider and thought I had a ton of room on the right so I made the mistake of passing without saying anything.  This startled the rider who immediately steered into me and we both went down in a heap (almost comical if you were watching I am sure).  I apologized, got our bikes separated (luckily no damage), and went on our way.

Kicked back under the 360 roof with legs up until the Open race a couple hours later.  Good turnout for this field considering CXC was going on as 25 racers lined up but the duration was only 50 minutes and not the typical 60.  Not sure how my legs would do in a 2nd race (especially one with climbing) I jumped in mid-pack at the start and after a couple laps noticed I was feeling pretty good and moving through some of the field.  By mid-race I was in 6th battling with 4th and 5th place.  Weird thing in a good way was I felt better and better as the race progressed and by 2 to go I was in 5th duking it out with 4th place, but it wasn't to be as he rode away on the last 1/2 of the lap and I rolled in 5th.  That was a good result for me. 

Loaded up, cheered for a 360 rider in the women open, then headed home.  Great racing/training day at the end of two solid thick weeks of bike work (with one more to go before a recovery week). 

Next weekend there are lots of events from which to pick: COMO in Columbia, Cliff Drive in KC, but the one I am heading to is Oakley Night Cap (and following day) in Des Moines.  This event is thick with great competition and atmosphere - crazy!  Support/attend which ever you want but Oakley is a bucket list type of event. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dogfish Cross in Hermann - A MO Staple

This past weekend was the 'Missouri Cross Opener' in Hermann at Jeff Yielding's Dogfish 'Cross weekend.  Haven't miss this weekend for several years and don't plan to for years to come.

Darion had a soccer game in SGF at 2pm on Saturday so it wouldn't give me time to jump in the masters race so I opted for the Saturday 'under the light' in the Open race.  So upon arrival in Hermann I joined up with several 360 teammates at 'the compound'.  They were getting ready to race while I unloaded and warmed up a bit.  Chilly (not really, but compared to recent days it was) and lots of dew on the course had it a tad slippery; opted for the PDX setup.

360 guys all raced solid and before you know it it was go time for me.  Course was a typical Yielding layout with 1,000,000 turns, the stairs (bottom half), and a sandpit with a turn (ridable, but faster to run).  Toed the line in a 30 racer field (and tons of these guys are really fast) and started on the 2nd row.  First lap was lap and after that it just got faster and faster.  I felt ok, but made three stupid mistakes in the first 2 laps that had me off a group moving quickly; I was pretty much on my own.  An hour later I finished 14th (top half of field - barely).  That's about right for my ability and fitness; I'll take it.

Strung up the hammock and off to sleep. 

Solid field in the Open event Saturday night
Sand was ridable, but faster for me to run.  Shortly after this pic I dumped it


Riding solo for 80% of the race - boring...

Woke up to a beautiful morning and Nate, Dale, and I headed of for a 1:15hr cruise around town and on the Katy to loosen the legs.  Got back, cruised the course to find a couple changes (course backwards on Sunday and the upper stairs were used which are tougher and longer - good for me).

Decided to move my race to the 45 minute masters race as it would get me home 2 hours earlier (not a tough decision).  Couple of solid racers lined up in the 40+ and 50+ (started 30 seconds back).  Dry course for went with the MXPs for the day.

Had one of the worst starts I've ever had as I missed the pedal three times and finally got going (way off the back) after laughing out loud.  Quickly moved through the group and slotted into 4th for most of the first lap.  After that I moved forward and before soon Jose and I had a gap on the rest.  He and I swapped some pulls and then I increased the pace with 3 to go and opened a sizable gap.  Kept the pace solid until the last lap where I let off the pressure and soon after Tom Price of Trek Collective (50+ category) caught up and we rode out the last lap pretty much together.  Snagged another win.

Take a look at the below picture: Jose knows what he's doing on the stairs.  Sunday's stairs were a bit tougher/steeper/longer than Saturday and the biggest 'assistance' on getting up these quickly was the use of my free hand pulling on the rail.  Always took the right side allowing the rail to come into play.

This might have been lap 2 when I put a little effort in the
stairs and pushed the pace for 1/2 lap to see who was where


Good guys sharing this podium (Tim and Jose)

Ira Brown, long time friend, was back in MO visiting some family and showed up to race the 3's.  I hung around and caught his race (7th), chit chatted during part of the open then headed home.  It was a good weekend of racing.

Got home with enough daylight for D and I to take on Ian and a friend in some backyard football (we won by 1 TD is what we tell D).  From there it was a quick unpack, put D to bed with a story, grab a bite, and then crash in bed catching the last of the Bears vs 49ers - awesome weekend!

Up next is a little open, but Oakley Night Cap weekend in Des Moines is the next good one in two weeks

***Most photos from Nate Bethell, with some from Dan Singer Photography***


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pre-Season Week #2 - Wild Trak SuperPrestige

This past weekend continued a little build up to my 'cross season with a two day event in Alton, Il - Wild Trak SuperPrestige.  With Saturday's race starting at 5pm and just a little drive (4hrs) from home I was able to hop on the rollers for a bit and snag a great late breakfast with the family before heading out. 

Rolled up to the course a couple hours prior to race start which gave me a good opportunity to get in several laps and chat with some folks I hadn't seen in a while.  Course was set up great with some good elevation change, open power sections, and several requiring handling skills.  Temps were in the 70's, which was incredible, and with rain the day before the course was thick grass mostly (which was grippy with Clement PDX), but there were a handful of damp mud that kept you on guard.

Lined up with a solid Masters crew (20 seconds behind Open racers) and after one of my worst starts it wasn't long before I worked my way to the front and set a good pace.  Gaps opened quickly and after 60 minutes (rare for Masters) I won with a decent gap and actually finished 4th overall (to include Open).  I liked the 60 minute race as it was great training.  Fun and tough course that found me on my back (wrecking) twice.  First one was right in front of Scott Peipert who actually ran over my rear wheel (with no damage), but the second one was by far the best as I clipped something on a fast descent and went flying over the front of the bike.  Glad that one was in a wooded area and no one could see as I am sure I looked ridiculous. 

Doing some work early with Scott P

Always nice to snag an envelope
After the race I headed out to dinner with Scott P and his wife.  After that they were kind enough to put me up for the night - HUGE THANKS!

Sunday morning was awesome with temps in the low 60's.  Loaded up, headed to the course, changed up, and snagged a good hour road ride around Alton to loosen up the legs.  Switched up wheels and hit the course a couple times and found it the exact same as the day prior (except it was drier and fast).  Hung out and watched a couple race while chatting with folks until it was time to go. 

With a drier course I chose the Clement MXPs which were spot on.  Masters field increased in size and quality for Sunday with most notable the presence of 'The Killer' Tim K.  Last time we raced was when he snapped his ankle at the State race so I was looking forward to chasing him.

Race took off (we were 20 seconds behind the Open field) and as I expected Tim jumped to the lead and I was getting ready to settle in behind when a couple guys jammed me up in the 1st 180 turn and I dropped back a handful of places.  Watched Tim opening a gap, but didn't panic and about 1/4 way into the first lap I made contact with him and went to work increasing the pace.  Before I knew it a decent gap opened and I started pulling in several Open riders.  By the end I took the W with a decent gap and finished 4th overall (that includes the Open racers). 

Tim K putting in the early effort; fun chasing a fast guy

I will insert something here:  I rarely meet Masters racers who are not super cool and nice, but then there is Tim K (who I have only met a handful of times)...  This guy exceeds all and it appears no matter what comes his way on and off the course he is a super positive guy with a constant smile on his face and good words to say.  Looking forward to getting to know him better and if you haven't met him it's your loss. 

Good weekend of training/racing.  Hopped in the car and 4 hrs later was home playing with the boys. 

Next weekend is the season opener for most at Dogfish Cross in Hermann; a Missouri staple on any 'cross racers calendar.  Jeff and crew do a great job on not only solid courses, but great overall venue/event.