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.