Monday, December 31, 2012

Grote Prijs Report

Christopher and I headed over to the Grote Prijs yesterday.  One of the oldest, most well established events on our local calendar.  Held at Herman Lard Park in Shawnee which is a good venue for a cross race.  I still remember helping get the ole Grote Prijs started years ago with Mark Thomas.  I will have to ask him what year that was.  Being held in late December or early January every year you never know what kind of weather you can get. Several  years ago we had some snow as you can see below. 
I thought today was the first time we ever raced together at the same time in a cyclocross race, but I was incorrect.  Back in early 2000 we raced the Missouri State Cyclocross championships in Columbia. 

Back to present day.  I was on the single speed and we started before the Men's Cat 4.  I was actually worried that Christopher may catch up to me.  I tried to stay with Britton Kusiak and Wesley Boyce on the first lap, but those guys just have too much horsepower on this old man.
Christopher made the move up from Juniors to the Men's Cat 4 division.  He got off to a great start and was toward the front of the field on Sunday.  I told him not to go out so hard that he blew up after the first lap.  I wanted him to build on each lap and actually get stronger. 
I told Christopher if he caught me that I would buy him that new Giant 29er that he wanted. It was fun seeing him out there trying to catch me.  He actually did close the gap on the first lap, but then I could see he faded a bit.

 It was a good day for a cross race.  Temps in the 40's and a course with some muddy spots.  I found some good lines on the outside of the slick corners.  After last weeks crash I was a little timid in the corners but still was able to make up time. 
At times Christopher really looked good and pushed the pace.  If he listens to his coach and gets on a consistent training program he could do really well in cross.
In the end Christopher ended up with a top 10 placing which was our goal going in.  I placed 5th and had a good battle with Gregory Ruark for 4th but he was the stronger man on the day.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Better Lucky than Good

Motivation can come from many sources.  Lately for me I have been really motivated to train for the 2013 season.   That is a big turn around from this time last year when I was really thinking of hanging up my bikes, grabbing the remote and start working on wearing out that new couch Carolynn bought us.
Why so motivated? Winning a Cyclocross race can defiantly motivate you, especially since the last time I won one was back in November of  2005.  That is one heck of a dry spell and not having success can bring a guy down.
Sunday's event almost did not happen for me.  With my crash at the Missouri State CX Championships I broke my trusty Jake the Snake bike so I am down to my Airborne MTB bike that I got fixed earlier this year.  I built her up with a 1 x 9 setup, but recently converted her to a single speed setup because I am been having more fun on a single speed as of late (even signed up for the single speed class for the Ouachita Challenge).  For some reason the chain kept trying to change gears while under a load even when there was no other gears to change to.  Chain line was spot on so  my last resort with 10 minutes to go until the start was to increase the chain tension by taking out links.  Lo and behold it worked and I rushed to the line.
The main goal on the day for me was to perform a Lactate Threshold Heart Rate test.  Usually I do not perform this test during a race, but I was experimenting.  I also wanted to work on race pace and my ability to get back into the mindset of suffering - which I have lost over the years.  Early on in the race Scott Dreiling of KCOI and James Summers of Midwest Cycling opened up a large gap.  I settled into my own pace and kept to my plan of charging hard for the entire race and actually trying to increase my pace every lap with hopes that I could bring them back if they started to fade.
Things started coming together at about the 1/2 point of the 45 min event.  I was getting dialed into the very mountain bike friendly course and was even hitting the barriers like the good ole days.  Sometimes when you try really hard luck also comes your way.  Both Scott and James had tire troubles.  I personally was running Kenda Kommando tires tubeless with a 29er Crank Brothers Cobalt wheelset. The mostly dirt course had lots of rocks coming up and plenty of places to get a flat - Just ask Mr Tilford about that.  My "poor mans" cross bike setup was working well.  Sure it is an old mountain bike, but 700cc cross tires fit fine and makes for a fun bike to ride/race.
With two laps to go I took over the lead from Scott.  I was at my limit and was not able to stay with Scott on the last lap after he got a fresh bike change.  I noticed he was on a different bike from the start and the old official in me came out.  I know the rules are "wheels in / wheels out"  which means you can not use equipment other than your own.  Scott was  stand up guy and told the officials which regulated him to last.   I might not have been the strongest guy out there, but I did try hard gave myself the opportunity when luck came my way.  It just goes to show you that the harder you work the luckier you can get.  Just more motivation to work even harder and put yourself in the position when luck comes your way.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

2012 Missouri State Cyclocross Championships

Today was the 2012 Missouri State Cyclocross Championships. My friend Nick Smith of Red Wheel  Bike Shop out of Jefferson City hosted this years event.  Nick is an old school mountain bike promoter and this was his first cyclocross race to promote.  I would say he did a damn fine job.  The course required some real horsepower to succeed and the conditions were ideal for cross.

My day was short lived with lots of ups and downs.  I lined up in the 45 - 49 masters class.  My goal was a podium spot if I really had a great day, but honestly I would have been happy with a top 5......I started in 4th and moved into the lead by the 3rd turn.  The pace felt somewhat slow so I just powered by everyone.  On the first short uphill climb I lost all traction and fell back to 4th.   I knew the race was going to be a long one so I just kept the effort high and tried not to loose too much time on the uphill climbs.  I felt good on the flats and the descent on the slick corners which allowed me to make up some time there.  This only lasted a couple of laps because I ended up cooking a corner and going down hard on the technical section before the finish.  I got up with a bent shifter and had to take some time to straighten it out.  Once I got going I actually felt really good and put the hammer down.  I shifted once and the end result is below.  I wadded up the rear derailleur really good.  End result was my first ever DNF in a cyclocross race. 

Dave had a solid day and rode very well in his first road trip in awhile.  Next year we will have to do a little more traveling to get more "seasoned" for some better cross results.

Christopher lined up with 7 juniors.  This would be his last cyclocross race as a junior.  Would he go out on top and make it 7 wins in a row this year or would his lack of consistent training this fall (and not following his coaches/fathers training plan) come back to bite him in his ass.
Three of the juniors were really strong and have been racing the Bubba Cross series in St. Louis.  I told Christopher that he was going to have his hands full and to do the best he could.  Forget the past couple of months and just lay it on the line today.  

He settled into third place after the first section of the course.  He looked smooth but so did the other juniors and they sure did climb a lot better than Christopher.  They attacked the first couple of climbs very hard.  

On the downhill sections Christopher moved into the lead passing previous leader Pete Holohan and Tyler Roberts.

Tyler and Christopher proceeded to have a great battle over the next several laps.  It was very nerve racking for me to say the least.  Some good exciting racing which is one of the reasons I like to come out to cross races.  But to watch your son engaged in a battle is another thing. 

At one point Christopher had a managable gap on Tyler.   With Two laps to go I honestly thought he was going to pull off an upset. 
I could tell Christopher was at his limit and his body position was falling apart.  A little mistake in a corner and Christopher was down.  I about crapped my pants when he was slow to get up.  I thought he was injured but he got going.  The damage was done however.  Tyler pounced on Christopher like a tiger on a wounded deer.

At the end of the day Christopher put in his best effort which I can only be proud of.   On the way home we went over the day.  He said one interesting quote to me.  "For me that was one of my best races.  I battled with the other juniors and even though I did not win I tried and feel good about my race". 

Some photos I took during the weekend: 2012 Missouri State Cyclocross Photo Album

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Toughest Sport?

Before a recent telecommunications group meeting we were discussing sports and which is the hardest.  Most of the attending folk played sports like football, baseball, soccer and some ran.  One guy said that he just completed a 10K run and it was the hardest thing he had ever done.  Of course he had just given up smoking and was trying to get himself in shape.

I chimed in and said that I honestly thought motorcycle racing was one of the hardest sports.  They all laughed and said "it doesn't take much to twist a throttle Chris".   I laughed also and we started the meeting.  After the meeting and while eating lunch the subject was brought back up.  One of the members had played some college football.  He talked about some of this training, injuries and some games.  I did play some football and enjoyed the time I participated.  While I related to him and the effort it takes to be good at a sport, I did not appreciate getting hit by 250 lb linebackers.  Especially when at the time I was hardly 150 lbs when wet.  So we continued on with this discussion. Everyone talked of their sporting experience and why they thought their sport was the hardest. 

What is the toughest sport?  This weekend I got a chance to compare  two of my favorite sports.

Saturday we headed to Knobby Hill MX Park. On tap was a day of riding and especially working with Christopher.  At the end of the day I had logged 40 laps.  That works out to be 44 miles on a motocross track. 

Sunday was 40 miles of gravel down in Pleasant Hill, MO.  Christopher was supposed to come with me, but he was so sore from riding at Knobby Hill that he opted to stay home and go for an easy ride with his mom. 

I have competed in a number of sports including Motocross, baseball, football, tennis, triathlons (Ironman distance to sprints to Xterra) running (50 mile Ultra trail runs to 5k and everything between), adventure racing, hare scrambles and of course all forms of cycling.  So what sport is the hardest?  For me it would depend what effort you put forth. 

I can remember finishing my first hare scrambles race in Florida.  I was a MX guy back then and used to 20 to 30 minute events.  I was not used to 2 to 3 hours of racing in a whooped out sandy course with part of the course traversing into flooded river bottom with roots, mud and what seemed like bottomless quicksand that would suck your bike in.  You would then spend 10 minutes trying to pull your 215 lb (which now weighed nearly 250 lbs due to the mud) motorcycle out and get going again.  It was one of the hardest events I have ever completed.  Not because I was just "twisting the throttle" but because I put everything my body had into that event.  I finished that race and could not even get off my bike.  I fell to the ground totally exhausted and made a promise to myself never race a hare scrambles again.  That was nearly 25 years ago.  I have since broken that promise. I guess with time you do forget the pain :-)  

What was the hardest this weekend?  40 laps on the MX track for sure.  I am feeling it now.   Just as I know I will be feeling some serious pain come next Sunday at the Missouri State Cyclocross Championships and this next Spring at the Cohutta 100.  One lasts less than an hour and the other 10+ hours.  Both different but each can be just as tough as the other if you put out that extraordinary effort.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Super Gravel Grinder Week

Lots of fun gravel rides.....and a lot of Black birds also....

This past weekend Tim Greene hosted the Black Sunday Gravel Grinder.  One of our most popular rides ever.  For the second week in a row we were greeted at the end of the ride by large amounts of Black birds.  Check out the recap here:

Wednesday is the Full Moon Monty gravel grinder on the Little Blue Trace Trail.  Always a fun ride made especially fun because it is at night.  That is right, charge those lights and come on out for a good time on the very beginner friendly LBTT.  

Complete info:

I heard there is gravel in those darn hills. Sunday the Midwest Gravel Grinder group will host the Pleasant Hill Thrill.  A new ride on a very fun course.  Maybe we will see some more Black birds.....

More info:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gone Soft

Honey, I think I have gone soft....

This past weekend I officially began my training for the 2013 season.  You say, "but Chris it is still November".  Yes, but planning for a successful season actually begins many months, if not years before.

First step was setting some goals.  More on those later.  Next was some fitness test to find out where I currently stand.  I decided to got ahead and race round #5 of Boss Cross.  Joe Fox got permission to use English Landing Park again after last years floods.  Back in 2001 I promoted the first race ever held there - CrossLogic Cyclocross Challenge. Here are some pics from those events.  I enjoy racing there and I routinely ride through the park during training rides so despite not being in "race shape" and unsure if my hip would be o.k. with the dismounts  I lined up with the Masters division.

After Saturday I found out I was not standing at all and nearly got ran over during the first lap.  I forgot how fast cross starts are.  I knew I had "gone soft" when the lactic acid started to creep in my muscles and I had no drive to push through the pain. 
I settled in my own pace and slowly dropped back toward the rear of the pack.  My teammate Dave Wathen kept his tired on the rim and kicked my arse in the process. 
I wish I could tell you I am o.k. with "going soft".  O.K. with dropping back in the group on gravel rides.  O.K. with my son out climbing me on every ride.  But I am not.  I am still coming to terms with this new soft me.

One thing I can tell you is I am o.k. with being injury free.  I can tell you it is really nice to wake up in the morning with no pain.  For the first time in many years I do not have any pain to speak of.  I worked my butt off to rehab my shoulder last year and my hip a few months ago.  If I do start developing any, I take care of it.  For example, my IT Band gets a little tight from time to time.  In the past I would just keep training and make everything worse.  Now I continually monitor my body (mind and sole also) and do what is right for me long term.

My main goal next year is to remain injury free and to train within reason to accomplish my goals. As I get ready for 2013 this new me might be a little hard to work with and still reach my goals.   Can I train enough and still be competitive and injury free?  Time will tell....  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Grinders begin with the Gobbler

Gravel Grinder season is upon us.   One of my favorite grinders from last year was the Gobbler Grinder.  This year we are moving it the weekend before Thanksgiving instead of after. 

I am really looking forward to this years season for three reasons.  First, my son Christopher is planning on riding a few with us so he can be in top shape for next years MTB season.  Second, Carolynn and I are going to break out the tandem and she is also going to join us.  Lastly, I am beginning a new chapter in my life and will be working with a few select athletes this year.  More to come on that soon.

As usual, complete details on gravel rides at

Monday, October 29, 2012

On Any Sunday

A free weekend at last.  Nothing planned and I was really looking forward to some serious R & R.   Both my body and mind needed some rest - still not over the little flu I got back before Burning at the Bluffs 12 hour.

What to do on this Sunday?  I asked Christopher what he wanted to do.  His answer, "What else, go ride".  Only this time it was back to the motorized version of two wheel fun and a return visit to Warrensburg for myself.

Some of you may remember the Midwest Fat Tire Championship Series used to pay Warrensburg a visit.  We raced Mountain Bikes on both the "East" and "West" sides of the road.  The East side has some very cool trails that back up to the Knob Noster State Park. (Speaking of Knob Noster, they are having a race this weekend  - Possum Scramble). The West side was generally used when when it rained a lot and the creek crossing got flooded due to heavy rain.

A blast from the past.  Check out the below photos of the powerful Bikes and Boards racing team.  Four of the key members of our team back then in action at Warrensburg.

John Oberrider, Chris Locke, Brian Bass and Damian Almanza
Brain Bass before the post race beer.
Damian Leading as usual
John O chasing the dream
Chris Locke chasing Andy Brewer

It has been a month since our last ride on the motorcycles so both Christopher and I were a little rusty.  When we arrived at the race site I was surprised to see a several very muddy bikes.  Some of which were being pulled in because they were flooded out.  Warrensburg only got a couple of inches of rain earlier in the week and I honestly thought that the trails should be in prime conditions.  It was then that I remembered the famous creek crossings that Warrensburg is famous for.  Not as famous as the Black Water 100 or anything, but close :-)

Before we unloaded the bikes we walked down to the creek crossings and watch some other riders navigate the muddy mess.  I actually wanted to just head back to Grain Valley and just ride on the MX track - Christopher needs some serious corning practice anyways.  I was also concerned about his ability to make a lap on this course.  The last time he rode mud on a motorcycle was 4 years ago.  We were out behind the house in a construction area during the winter and he got off course in a big way and sunk his bike into the mud.  It took us an hour to get his bike out and him going again.  It do not want to talk about the choir of  cleaning up that motorcycle in 35 degree weather.  I can still feel the pain in my frozen fingers.  None the less, he decided he still wanted to ride and give it a try.  Sure, Dad will clean up everything anyway right?

At 1:00 pm we head out for our recon lap.   The creek crossing and mud run sections were in the first and last mile of the course.  The worst two being in the first mile right after the start.  As we approached the first mud pit I honestly did not think Christopher was going to be able to make it through.  It was very gnarly with some very deep ruts. For sure he would end up like the guy below picking up his WR250 out of the mud.   (I wish I had my Go Pro on because the footage would have been great.  With all the mud talk and all I totally forgot to put it on my helmet - Update: found the above video from #99 in Christopher's class. As you can see the start is critical along with the ability to ride mud :-)).  To my surprise, he followed me with easy as we took some good lines and got through with limited problems.  Aside from the mud holes, the Warrensburg course is very cool with mostly flowing single track.  There were no open fields and very limited places to pass safely.

We got back to our pit with only 19 minutes to get ready for the 2:00 pm start.  This put a lot of pressure on me to put some tear-offs on our goggles, fuel the bikes and try to refuel my body for the 2+ hour event.  I lined up with a minute to spare.  Poor Christopher had to line up on the second row of his class because of the large number of Trail Riders.

The start today was going to be critical.  I did not want to get behind a field full of riders going through mud and on single track trail with no place to pass.  My goal was top 3 and that is what I got.  I rolled through the first turn in 3rd and quickly moved up to 2nd place.  We hit the first mud hole and I took an outside line to take the lead only to see out of the corner of my eye a rider cutting off 1/2 the mud hole via a short cut.  I grabbed a hand full of throttle and got him back before the next muddy hill.  Poor Christopher did not fair as well as I.  He ended up outside the top 20 and had to play follow the lead for the majority of the race.  His ability to pass is not there yet.  He can ride a lot faster than he races, but just has a problem passing.  If he got in the top 5 I bet he could stay there the entire race.  Of course he would still not try and pass, but we will work on that.  He really wanted a top 10 finish before the Hare Scrambles season ended and I feel sorry that he could not make that happen.

As for me I was just not riding that well today.  Sure I was in the lead and quickly started catching the back markers in the other classes, but I just was not my self today.  When we caught up to the 600/700's guys I was having a very hard time seeing through the dust and from the glare of the sun.  You can not pass if you can not see.  Which several guys found out the hard way.  Every couple of minutes someone would try to pass and crash. After a handful of crashes and near missing on my part I started getting some serious arm pump due to riding tight.   Before I knew it I had fallen back to 3rd place in my class and was even passed by some other riders that I had passed earlier in the lap.  I got mad at myself and pushed it the last part of the lap to be 2nd at the line only 2 seconds behind the leader - Randy Lust.   I got by Randy on the second lap and put in an o.k. lap and maintained the lead on the 2nd lap but only had a 10 second lead.  Normally at the point in a race I would put in some solid laps and increase my lead.  Just as I had done the previous two rounds.  Not this day.  Fatigue really set in and I kept thinking that I was just not over my cold yet.  Add some arm pump in and you get what we got here on Sunday.  I got passed by Jimmie O'dell for the lead and he proceeded to check out mainly because I started to slow.   

I really  wanted this race to end on the 4th lap, but we came in under the 2 hour time and had to go out for a final lap.  This is when I ran into Christopher parked along the trail.  I stopped to check on him and assist.  I thought for sure he got water sucked into the carb or something from the mud.  But no, he was "just resting"  Muscling that motorcycle in the mud is kind of tiring.  He said he did not feel safe riding when he could not grip the handle bars anymore.  Smart kid because you can hurt yourself very quickly if you are not on top of your game.  The stop allowed 3rd place Randy Lusk to close in on me and make the pass for 2nd.  I had nothing for Randy the last lap and had to settle for 3rd place on the day.  Congrats to both Jimmie and Randy for great rides.  This will be the last Hare Scrambles for the season.  It was good to get in a final event and see where I stand for next year.  I have the speed, I just need to bring my A game for next season and get back into top shape. 

I asked Christopher if he enjoyed the day.  He said very much so.  That is what it is all about.  Having fun and enjoying life to its fullest.  One Any Sunday you will find us out riding and having a great time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pictures from Wyco Revenge

Pictures are up for today's Wyco's Revenge - Wyco's Revenge Photo Album.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Down and Burnt at the Bluffs

I put Burning at the Bluffs 12 hour event on my calendar about this time last year.  I have always wanted to participate in this event, but cyclo-cross always got in the way.  With cyclo-cross low on the importance scale now a days, I put the feelers out to see who was interested in forming a team.  The old team of the "Six Rocky Mountain Oysters" was brought out of retirement.  Damian Almanza, Tige Lamb and Myself teamed up and entered the Fast in the Past division.

Leading up to this past weekend my motivation level was high.  Endurance MTB racing, especially team events, as my favorite.  The only problem was recent injuries and sickness really put a damper on things.  A couple of months ago I injured my hip and it has just now healed up properly.  Things looked good the week prior until I came down with the flu.  I spent last week sick as a dog and stayed home eating chicken noodle soup.  

It is a long drive down to the venue at Council Bluffs.  We got to the venue with about an hour to spare for a quick recon of the course.  Tige and Damian set off to do a complete lap.  Due to my fatigue I only did a light ride to get the blood flowing in the legs.  When I returned from my little hour ride Damian was already back.  He elected to turn around and head back and save it for tomorrow.  This would turn out to bit us.   After Tige returned we cleaned up and headed to our hotel - The Shepherd Mountain Inn located in Ironton, MO which is also home of the world famous Baylee Jo's restaurant.  Ironton is a nice little town, one in which you do not even need to lock your doors.  In fact, you can just leave the key in the lock as we did....

Race morning greeted us with great mountain bike riding weather.   Good thing because it was going to be a long, long day.  It was good to see old friends.  One thing about mountain bike racing is it is more about having a good time than anything else.  The kind of that attitude is 12 hour winner Dwayne Goscinski.  I remember the first time I meet Dwayne.  He was covered in mud (from the first BB36) and totally exhausted but he was smiling and having a great time.  Our division was tough and our main competition was the team of Mike Best (Bone Bender 3 hour winner), Andy Hunsaker and Doug Davis.  If we all rode as we should it was going to be a great race.

Tige got things going with the run and first lap. He lead for the first several miles until he let Mike Best by.  In hind site he should have stayed out front as he ended up crashing head over in the rock garden section due to a bad line.  Even with the crash he can in with 1 1/2 minutes of Mike.  We were sitting in second and in a good position. 

Damian was up next.  He said he felt good and I was confident that he could catch up or at least stay with Andy.  Fast forward 1hour 5 min.  I expect Damian to be coming in any second.  I got a good warm up in and I was ready to try my best and at least keep us in the hunt.  I  knew with being sick I was not going to light the world on fire, but I was going to give one hell of a try. 

Five minutes later and no Damian.  And no Andy either.  The Wicked fast team of Bob Arnold's was the first in.  They would end up being the overall winners of the day with 11 laps in 12:19.  Soon riders started coming on dozens at a time, but still no Damian.  1:21 later Damian roles in exhausted from his 15+ mile lap.   Only problem is the course was only 13 miles.  Turns out a wrong turn caused Damian to go off course.  I was bummed, but that is part of racing.  I headed out on my lap trying to make up for lost time.  I put down a fast first 1/2 lap, but was totally dead by the 8 mile lap.  I suffered badly over the next 5 miles and lost time with some serious cramps.  This would end up being my undoing.  

Tige was up next and put in another great lap.  We still had a chance if both Damian and I put in stronger 2nd and 3rd laps.  12 hour is a long time and a lot can happen to teams.  Flat tires, cramps, crashes, lost trail?  Only problem is nothing did.  The Slow Old CurMUDgeons kept their lead the entire race and took the win.  We ended up 2nd with 10 laps in 12:38.  Tige got in 4 Laps and Damian and I got in 3 laps.  For our efforts and for staying around for 2 hours for the awards we got a bag of coffee.  Not what any off us really wanted.  We wanted a darn belt buckle.  We headed home full of coffee beans.  The ride back was less than pleasurable for me.  My stomach went sour with all the curvy roads.  I got sick as a dog and had to stop several times to try and vomit.  Only problem was there was not much in there.  We ended up getting to St. Clair and our hotel about 1:30 a.m. in the morning. 

My first Burning at the Bluffs was one that I want to forget, but I will not.  Not until I earn one of those damn buckles...