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...