Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Zink Ranch Report

An off week with no cyclocross racing locally was a welcomed break.  I think that even if there was an event, I probably wouldn't have participated.  A person can only get their butt kicked so many times before they call it quits.

The weekend plan was to take it easy and enjoy some rest and work on some house projects - that French drain is not going to complete itself.  Christopher wanted to go riding our motorcycles.  So the question is, Ride or Work? 
The final round of the MORE series was being held at the Zink Ranch in Otterville, MO.  We decided to head over for the Saturday Sportsmans races and save the work for Saturday evening and Sunday.  Besides, it was "Pink Out" weekend so we wanted to support breast cancer awareness.
It was very foggy Saturday morning.  I can not recall ever seeing fog this thick in Missouri nor this widespread.  We left KC in a dense fog and were in the thick of it until  a few miles outside of Sedalia.

Carolynn made us some delicious snacks for the day.  We have been experimenting with some "Portables".   Wrapped up for today were Chicken Sausage Rice Cakes. 

There were lots of riders in Pink this weekend. Logan Pierce looking good in Pink.  I wish I would have kept some of my old gear from the late 80's.  I had a really cool set of blue/pink gear.

We got an early gift Saturday morning.... Awards from our last MORE event.  We couldn't stay for the  award presentation that evening.  I do like the MORE series, but it's tough waiting several hours for awards.

Zink Ranch had a little of everything.  Creek crossings, mud, wide open fields and plenty of hills.  Some of the uphills were very hard to get up with the slick roots and rocks.   Going down was a little unnerving to say the least. 

I got another good start.  Led until the first creek and that was when Chad Larimer stuffed his way by with a nice aggressive pass. Rubbing is racing.  

You never know what you will see out on course or who will be watching you.  I never noticed the hillbilly  with his dog until I saw this photo of Christopher entering one of the many creeks.
It was follow the leader in most of the creek sections.  Unless your name is Chad :-)

I felt out of sorts most of the day today.  Only on the flat single track did I feel good.  Most of the race I was in 2nd place.

Danny Joe Kost descends with a young rider.  The downhills were a little slick and you had to be on your toes.
On the last lap I lost focus when I came up on Christopher stuck on an uphill.  I decided to let him get out of his predicament by himself.  For whatever reason I started riding very tense and ended up falling back to 3rd place on the day. 

Christopher got rolling again and charged back to take 3rd on the day.  A solid ride by him.  He did very well in the creeks whereas I was a candy ass riding through them. 

One day I will have a setup like this.....Not going to happen in this lifetime though.  This guy had a power washer and everything else you could think of.  

Christopher looking good in his boots.  I do not know how or why he wears boots.  I wore them for a short period of time back in High school.

The few rounds of the MORE series have been fun this year.  Christopher got on the box today but we had to leave early to get home so we could work.  The courses are a little harder than the Forward Motion series for the most part and Christopher seems to do better on these courses.   I need a lot of practice on the  rocky technical courses especially when they are wet.  Slick rocks are not my forte' but one day they will be.

This past weekends break from cyclocross has been nice.  It has really made me question my desires.  I know for one thing I do not enjoy getting my butt kicked in cyclocross.  I thought my form would improve over the past month but it has actually regressed.  Maybe over training?  It could be the excess wight that I am carrying and the hilly courses that have been used.  There are some flatter courses coming up in November so maybe there is hope for me.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Joules Cyclocross Pictures

Carolynn and I were out snapping some action photos from today's Joules Cyclocross event in Lawrence, KS.  The below album is from Saturday's  Men's Masters 40+, 50+, 60+, 65+, Men's Cat 4/5 and Single Speed.

Joules Cyclocross - Saturday Pictures.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I am Pack Fodder

Two more cross races are in the books.  I can see very small improvements in my form but not much.  Having said that, it keeps me motivated somewhat but my results have not shown the hard work I have put in which is depressing.  Still, even being Pack Fodder I have enjoyed my cyclocross season.

A review of my last two races starting with the 360 Cup two weeks ago.

Day 1 of the 360 Cup brought cooler weather and high motivation to do well.  Course had a few cool features, but overall was a real power course.  Power is something I am down on now so my results were around mid-pack. 
A rider went down in my class on an off camber downhill section with a tight turn.  It was a little slick but nothing bad.  He ended up breaking his Fibula and Tibia clean through.  Pins were required and he should heal up fast.
There were 3 really tight sections of the course that caused havoc during some of the races.  I really did not care for these sections as it did nothing more than slow everyone down to a crawl and require a rider to accelerate hard out to get going again.  There were plenty of long fast straights for the power riders.  I like turns that allow a rider with skill to make up time or pass.  Corners that are narrow and tight do nothing but slow riders down which is fine if you need to slow them down for  scoring, but not to stimulate racing.
Day 2 of the 360 Cup saw Christopher test his legs again in cross.  He gets the award for the ugliest socks.
Christopher is focused mostly on school and girls.  The only riding he does is at the cross races and is hoping for a muddy cross race soon. 

Doug came out to race with me on Day 2.  He continued his strong cross season with a 2nd place against a solid field of racers.

Dan Hughes raced 3 events on Day 2.  Got up on the podium in two of the races - Cat 4/5 and Single Speed. Dan has a huge engine and endurance.  Two things I need right now.
For Day 2 the 360 Team changed up the course and put in a new section of turns.  The only problem was they were still very tight and only allowed one speed. 
This weekend brought us the Robidox Roundup Cyclocross in Saint Joesph, MO.   What a breath of fresh air.  The course was awesome and even had some short single track sections.  Christopher really liked the course.
The barriers were tall.  Even Christopher's tall frame had trouble getting over them.

The descents were a little slick but that was the fun part.  If you took the right line you could flow through them nicely and allowed a bit a recovery which you would need on the climbs. 

Course was great up in Saint Joesph.  Even the start was nice.  Kind of a "Moto" type start with a short sprint to the first turn.  Here Eric Burch gets the holeshot on the Masters 40+ field.
Corners were really setup nicely.  Lots of flow and they allowed you to keep your speed and pass.
There was an ass kicker of a climb.  I am sure glad I decided not to race in the single speed class because I think I would have broken a chain if my fat ass had tried to climb this monster on my single speed.

I went out hard at the beginning but could not keep up with the likes of Tige, Eric and Terry Higgins shown here passing me on a climb. 

Tom Price and Tige Lamb won the Masters 50+ and Masters 40+ respectively.  Tom killed it today.
I had two good laps in me on Sunday.  That was it.  My goal was to keep John Williams behind me during the first part of the race.  At least I accomplished one goal :-).  John had another solid race and finished in 5th place.  I would fall back to 8th by the end.

So far my season has been very unsuccessful.  Basically I am just Pack Fodder right now and I have to live with it.   I kind of feel like the Alaskan Pack Fodder.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Finding My Racing Legs

The past few cyclocross seasons have not gone well for me.  Last year I started to regain my lost passion for the sport and put in a lot of training to get ready for the season.   I actually had solid form and was looking forward to some good results.  Then Carolynn made me go to the Dermatologist to look at a few suspect spots on my body.  Turns out one was actually positive for skin cancer and they had to remove it.  All that training down the tubes as I could not race.
Fast forward one year and I find myself finally healthy and ready for a season of cyclocross racing with my team.  Only problem with this year is my form in not there and my weight is about 15 pounds in excess.  Most of that came from a summer of weight training and therapy to get myself all healed up from past injuries.
I have been following an older cyclocross training plan that in the past brought me good results.  At the first race of the season - Buffalo Bill Cyclocross Race, I tested that plan.  The result was not very good.  I ended up trying to stay on riders wheels only to get dropped each time.  The power was just not there.
Heck, even my dismounts/remounts were lacking.  Usually I am good at the barriers and attack those with some passion.  Every lap I dreaded those barriers.  Or maybe it was the uphill after the barriers that sucked.  Either way I needed to really work on my dismounts after that first race.

I found a picture from 10 years ago. Now if I could just attack those barriers like I did back then!  Check out that form and that bike.  Why did I ever sell that Sling Shot?  Sure it was a little heavy and handled like a wet sack of potatoes but it was easy on the back out on course.
My second race of the season was the CoMo Cyclocross Cup in Columbia, MO.  The course suited me well and after a week of hard training I was hoping for a better showing.  If the start was any indication I was starting to find my racing legs again.

The racing over in Columbia was fun.  Carolynn attended and rode the Rhett's Run Mountain Bike course before the race.  After she enjoyed the beer tent and some Logboat Brewing Company beers.
Out on course I was in the thick of things and felt better and was able to stay with everyone on the first part of the course.  When the masters caught up to the Single Speed guys who had started first I ran into trouble.  I took my time passing them and was quickly passed by a handful of master riders who had no such plan.  I guess I saw those single speed cogs and thought I was back racing with them.

On the barriers I felt better but had a little problem the first lap and got passed by a few riders. I am still feeling heavy when I jump up over the wood.  I guess that is what 15 extra pounds feels like.  Each lap I would get passed by riders on the barriers which was a little depressing. 

I like the descents and winding course at CoMo.  It allowed some rest and each lap I was able to pass back some riders or at least bridge back up to them.
Most of the race today I was actually racing with guys.  That is a sign of improvement but a mid-pack finish is not what I am looking for.  The last four laps I actually pulled pack some riders and was feeling stronger.  When I caught them with two laps to go I popped.  The final two laps were a real sufferfest.  Mentally I fell apart and could not push myself for the entire 45 minutes.

 Hopefully with another month of focused training I can get my old racing legs back and get back on the podium on a regular basis. I think some cooler weather and maybe some mud/snow would also help.  October will be all about getting ready for November and the early part of December.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Early Days of Cyclocross

It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since I started racing cyclo-cross.  There were not many events to participate in so I made what I consider now an unwise decision to promote an event myself.  That first CrossLogic Cyclocross Challenge was a great learning experience. I worked my butt off to gain permission and create a new event.  A special Thank You goes out to Mark Thomas for lending a hand.  Now I know one reason why he was so helpful back then.  He just wanted to race.
It is hard to believe it but Kansas City grew to be the hotbed of cross in the early 2000's to well we will not go there.....  We had riders regularly coming down from Iowa & Nebraska because St. Louis' cyclocross scene hadn't developed yet.

This might have been one of my worst ideas ever.  A team relay cross race.  I actually thought it would work and that riders would like to race as a team.  I think we only had like 4 teams at the most participate. 
After a couple of good years in Parkville we got kicked out due politics basically.  The BOA were fighting with my key contact for the use of English Landing Park and when it came time to vote to allow our race again we were denied. 
I spent many hours (months really)  searching for a new venue that would I felt make a good cyclocross course.  I had access to a lot of parks which I could of used, but I was not going to use just any park.  I did not want to build just any course.  I wanted my courses to be fun and challenging.  It took many visits to Riverside's City Hall and a couple of presentation but I finally found a good venue in E. H Young Park. 

Every fall my team, family and I would work hard to produce what we thought were good cyclocross courses.  One of my all time favorite sections was the climb out of the river at E.H. Young.  If you were able to ride it (like me above) it was a nice advantage.  Plus is just sucks getting off your bike. 

I always like to put in a wide variety of terrain in my courses.  Sure it was not easy to build these courses, but that is what I felt all the racers deserved.  I made natural obstacles and rarely used things like barriers to force riders to discount.  My belief is to make a challenging and fun course that does not offer an unfair advantage but is best suited to an all around rider.  It did not matter if can from a mountain bike back ground or a road back ground.  You would going to enjoy my course.  Well, at least I hope you all enjoyed them.
 Damian looking good as always.  I think Damian my be the only person who has raced all of the races I have ever promoted.  Does he like my courses that well or is it the free entries?
The Riverside Cyclocross Festival was always held very close to Carolynn's birthday.  In fact, the race even fell on the actual day.   Never did she ever say anything about celebrating her birthday at the race.  Roger Harrison sings Happy Birthday and brough her a cake!

Why on earth did I ever decide to put sand into my courses?  Back then I thought they were cool, but now I just hate sand.  Funny how life works some times.

I guess I got insperation from my first state championship event I ever attended over in Columbia, MO.  Christopher in route to his first ever state championship in cyclocross.  One thing that kid can do is ride sand and rocks for that matter. 
I might have to bring back the beard.  Or maybe at least the chops

That little junior Redline CX bike was sweet.  Christopher earned a closet full of trophies and awardes on that thing.

He won so many that the Kansas City Star even wrote an article on him.  Those were the days....

10 years ago I was all focused on growing the sport especially the juniors.  Looking back I now realize I put a lot of pressure on Christopher without really know it.  That is one thing I would do differently now is to try and keep cycling more fun.

Back to sand.  I have to mention it again because I do really hate it (unless I am riding a motorcycle in it then I just love it)  Sand can be very challenging as you can see by the above picture taken at the  2006 Riverside Cyclocross Festivals.  

I still remember this poor beginner women's cyclocross racers.  She was a trooper and got up and finished strong.  Heck, she even showed up at the next round of the series and paid to race again.

This guy had an awesome handmade bike and he could ride that thing on that Riverside course.  I do miss those old courses and the cool features they had. 

One of my favorite pictures I ever took. Nate in action - they dude could bunny-hop just about anything. 
I can not tell you how much time I put in just to build this one feature.  When I look at most of  today's cyclocross courses I realize just how foolish I was.  Thinking that riders actually cared about the course.
I always like Shadd Smith. He came to most of our events and for many years took home the win in the Cat 1 class.
Mark Studnicki and I traveled to a lot of cyclocross races together for a few years there.  He was one hell of an athlete.   Those were some fun times traveling up to Iowa and Nebraska racing cross.
I was actually in good shape back when racing with Mark and won the Mid-America Cross Cup back in 2004/5 when John Lefler and I promoted it.
The money tree idea was a hit.  At the height of the De Stad Series it was nice feature.  Christopher (during his X-Box years) demonstrates good form.  He only wanted the dollar to buy another game...
I did really enjoy racing cyclocross back then.  Who know, maybe I can regain that passion this year.
Dave looking good in the mud.  One of the best parts of cyclocross is your teammates and the fun times you can have together.   Those good memories will last forever.
I can still remember this battle between Tige Lamb and Mark Studnicki back in 2009.  The final round of the De Stad Cyclocross Van Kansas Series (still love that name) and it was a cold rainy day.  The course was just getting slick and very hard to even ride.  These guys went at it hard and put on a awesome show.  I think Studnicki was a little stronger, but Tige was better in the mud.  It came down the the last lap with Tige Lamb taking the win and title.

That final round in 2009 was epic for me. Everything came together for just a great day. Racing in the mud is what cyclo-cross is all about.  Only wish we had more of those types of events.

We always tried to make the course look as good as possible with the limited resources that we had. 
Some of the best barriers ever.   Even though I did not like to use them, Rich Anderson build up a cool set so I just could not say no.  JP Brocket demonstrates proper form.
One of the most challenging events to hold was one of the Kansas State Cyclocross races held over in Leavenworth Kansas.  There was talk about endangering the riders and  travel concerns.  All I knew is I could not drive any stakes into the frozen ground and had to resort to cones.  It worked and no one died traveling to the venue.
Still to this day one of the best logos ever. Eric Tiffany always came up with some very good ideas and helped us out more than he know.  The logo was great, but the idea to also hold a trail run on the same day as a cyclocross race was not.

This picture brings back a lot of memories.  It is actually at the first Haven's Cyclocross event which is retuning this weekend.  Hopefully Brendan has a course for us with a lot less climbing.  The only thing worse than sand is hills :-)

Part II coming soon....