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.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

360 Cup (Our Team's Race) Weekend

I have to openly say it:  I'm glad this past weekend is done!  The team I race with, 360 Racing, hosted this past weekend of racing in Lawrence, KS at Centennial Park and while I figured it would take a bit of time and energy to set up the venue I had no idea how draining it would be. 

The team met at noon on Friday (I got there at 1:30pm) and we worked our butts off until 7pm.  I was hoping somewhere in the afternoon I could get in some laps and openers, but that did not happen as there was simply no time.  Great group of teammates for the day go great and the course/venue really came together.  Finished up the evening with us all chowing down at Free State Brewery while swapping war stories.  A teammate who lives in Lawrence put Dale and I up for the weekend (which was awesome) in his Air Stream.  That thing was super comfy. 

Slept hard and early Saturday we were back at the venue putting the finishing touches on everything.  On a side note: it was pretty chilly Saturday morning at 37 degrees at 7am.  Got in a whopping 30 minutes of warm up before the masters race at 11am and felt not fresh at all.  Smallish sized group, but a couple of fast guys present.  Got a good start and first couple laps as a teammate and I cruised the course.  Legs opened up with 3 to go (20+ minutes left) so I upped the pace and established a solid gap that lasted to the finish.  Glad for the win as it was a fast non-technical course which does not suit my abilities at all (similar to Gateway of past).

360 Racing well represented I the small field

With a bit of a chill in the air the Giro Air Attack was the lid of choice

Rick and Paul are some good guys with which to share a podium
After the race there was little time to hang out as the team continued monitor/service of the course as other races went on.  After a bit it was decision time (to race another or not) which didn't take too long to decide so I kitted up for a bit of a warm up before hitting the line in the Open race.  13 or 14 racers in a solid field got off to a fast start; well they did and it took a couple laps before I came around.  This is a recurring theme in the '2nd races of the day' and not anything that bugs me too much as it's bonus racing.  Legs started opening up and gained on more and more racers and by end I finished 7th; about where I should be with these guys.  It was fun and tough, but more importantly another deposit in the race bank for later down the road.
I excel at any 'off the bike' aspects of 'cross and am looking forward to several
 tougher and more 'dismounted friendly' courses coming up

One of my favorite pics
Sunday morning came way to quickly and before you know it we were all out setting up the venue again.  Did go quicker than day one, but long enough...  Decided early on to help with the races early and jump in the Open later in the day.  Hopped on the course for 45 minutes early before all the racing started.  The day whizzed along and all of a sudden it was 2:30pm and I guess time to kit up and race in 30 minutes (motivation was not at it's highest). 
Toed the line with 12 others and after a horrible start and opening laps started to come around a bit.  Had made myself such a hole that progress was hardly unnoticeable.  Ended up 7th and never felt like I was racing (more like trying to ride at a brisk pace).  One frustrating thing was on the last lap I made contact with (what turns out to be 5th and 6th) a couple guys, but couldn't match their finishing attacks and watched them ride off.

Way behind from the whistle
Course had a good mix of elevation changes
After the race immediately changed up and jumped in with the other 360 crew breaking down the venue.  That went way faster than anticipated and a little over an hour later I was heading home.  Walked in to get hugs all around and see fresh chocolate chip cookies (Deb rocks!) and a gooseberry pie waiting (my brother does also).
So that concludes my early season objective:  race was much as possible and simply get back in the flow of racing - (check) this past weekend got me 15 'cross races in six weekends.  Feel pretty good about the endurance of the engine and physical strength and now looking to add some speed during October.  Plenty of hard work in store!
Taking this coming weekend off from the race scene and will get back to it either at Joules Cross (another non-technical crit style course which I don't care for) in Lawrence the following weekend or head to STL for a taste of Bubba; will decide later.