Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When to Quit?

I must confess something.  I have a really bad habit of not knowing when to walk away.  This dates back to when I was a child.  With only a few exceptions I always push through the hard times and keep fighting.  A trait I acquired form my parents who never give up no matter how far down in a hole they are. 

But sometimes quitting is the best option.  Like back in 1990 when I decided to leave the sport I loved.  The only other sport I was ever good at besides baseball.  A sport that took part of my families life and nearly mine......

....on the long drive from Parkland, Florida to Gainsville, FL I felt kind of weird.  In the past when I went to race at the famed Gatorback Cycle Park I was always so excited.  On this drive I felt kind of empty.   I kept asking myself "why am I still doing this?"

Gatorback is not your typical Florida sand track.  I was a sand specialist and even though out of state riders label it as sand it is not.  Gatorback is build around an old rock quarry and its dirt and layout is hard.  Today I would race two classes but first there was practice.  Not to many things can beat the first laps around a motocross track.  Flying around on a smooth course with nothing but a big smile on your face.  Practice went o.k. but I still felt strange.  I had signed up for two classes and was looking forward to doing good  - at least winning some gas money back home.   Well at least I expected to do good in the first two motos.  I knew the second motos would be very hard due to the course breaking down and all the holes developing making the going tough.

As I line up on the full gate of  riders and I go through my normal start routine.  A routine that I practiced hundreds of times in my head and when everything goes as planned I usually get a great start.   Gates drops and I pull off a great start and lead into the first corner and then plunge down into the "Gator pit"  The trip out of the Gator Pit is just as fun - see above.  As I re-grip my throttle at the bottom and prepare to accelerate out my rear end hits a square hole and kicks my bike side ways.  I stay on the gas but my momentum is gone and I do not make the large double and land on the face of the next jump.  The rider in 2nd place jumps over me and hits my head in mid-air.  Usually this would not faze me, but with the recent injury to my brother it really effected me.  I did my best to continue on racing and ended up getting a top 5.  Respectable finish but I was not happy.

I go back to the pits to rest up and prepare for my other race.  Something inside of me said to quit but Chris Locke does not quit.  None the less I kept getting these strong feelings to pack up.  I clean up my goggles, put on a couple of tear offs, fuel my bike and check over everything.  I go lineup to line to start and again get a great jump.  I am up in the top 3 but I felt all out of sorts.  My mind would not stop thinking about crashing and what would happen to me.  As I approach a larger uphill double that used to be part of the layout at Gainsville (before you entered the stadium section and dropped down into the pit).  The exit out of the preceding corner was really getting choppy and again my rear end got kick out.  This time I did not stay on the gas and just started letting riders go by.  As each rider passed I felt their roost hit my chest and face.  It was like they were hitting me with small rocks and I felt like I did one day in middle school when some bullies were throwing things at me.

The checker flag is waved to end the moto.  I was never so happy to see that waving black white flag.  As I idle past everyone in the pits everything is in slow motion.  I feel like everyone is looking at me.  I find my pit, throw my bike up on my stand and walk to my trailer to find a friend of my there.  I went to get my my video camera and ask her to film me.  She obliged and went on to film me state these words - "My name is Chris Locke and I for the first time in my life I quit".  I said a few more words and if I can get that old tape converted I will post it up.  When I look at that tape and look into my eyes when I announced that I was quitting Motocross racing I see a young man that just made a life changing decision.

What does all this have to do about today?  Well it is closing in on the end of 2014.  I have recently had one of my worse years ever racing my bicycle.   It is not from that lack of trying either.  I have put in some miles and suffered during training just so I can "get up on that Podium".  The results have not been there this year (especially in cyclocross) and I feel just like I did back in 1990 when those riders kept passing me.  While there were no rocks being thrown up by their rear tires I still felt a pain in every pass that was made on me.

I am now asking myself is it time to quit bicycle racing?   Maybe it is time to put this old dog out to pasture.  I guess is comes down to what your goals are.  My goal once was to be a professional motocross racer.  When I could not longer do that because of fear I released it was time to quit. 

It is a hard decision to let go of any true passion in your life.  Currently I have signed up for two endurance events for 2015 - CIRREM and Ouachita Challenge.   Signing up for those two was more out of habit than anything else.  Based on what I see in the mirror today I will not be signing up for any other events any time soon. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

My South Florida Adventure

I recently got a chance to take a week off and head down to my old stomping grounds in South Florida.  It was a solo trip without the family.  The weather was great with temperatures in the low 80's everyday except the day I departed back home.
Everyday was spent either heading to the beach,  riding mountain bike trails, going kayaking or both.

Down on Miami Beach they were filming a Orbitz commercial.  It is amazing what an artist can build out of sand. 
I headed out to the Amelia Earnhart Mounatin Bike trails. These trails are very popular for good reason.  There must have been over a 100 people out riding.  No race, no event just riding.  Very popular indeed.
It has been over 15 years since I last rode/raced at Amelia.   The entire trails system has been revamped. I thought the Golden Gate Trail was very cool.  

Back in 1999 the Sandblaster series was very popular.  I enjoyed those event a lot back then. Man have the trails changed. 
Some really cool features have been added and the maintain the trail system very well.  One thing I really like about all of the trails down in South Florida is that they are directional.   It makes riding really safe especially when there are so many riders.
You never know what you will find riding down in the middle of Miami, Florida.  I found this and a few other gems including a boat.
Every park I went to had a bike wash area.  South Florida riders like to keep their equipment clean.
I headed North to kayak the Arthur Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge.  The lady who owns this canoe/kayak rental place has been there for close to 25 years.  It is a small family business.  Today here nephew was running the place.  One day I would like to have a business like this.
The Everglades are full of all kinds of wildlife.  This little guy paid me a visit while I was getting ready to head out for the days adventure. 

I had the entire Canoe Trail to myself.  When Carolynn and I go we usually do only one lap but I decided to try two laps today for about 12 miles.  The going was tough at times do to the Nymphaeaceae (Lily Pads). I had to take several brakes to complete my journey.
There is a business for everything down in Florida.  It appears that the residents are so overworked that they can not even clean there own BBQ grills.  Actually when I think about what a pain it is to clean a grill I wonder if I should open up a franchise here in KC?
I rode at Quite Waters several times because my parents live only about 5 miles from the park.  Quite Waters used to be the main trail system that I would ride on when we lived in Coconut Creek.   This park was flattened by hurricane Wilma back in 2005. 
The entire trail system at Quite Waters had to be rebuilt.   For a small area that got a lot of trails with most of them double back along each other. 

This little island brought back some memories.  Back in the early 80's before Quite Waters was even built this area was used by 4x4's and ATC's (yes I said ATC.  ATV's as we know them today were not yet made).   I used to swim out to it.  Funny how things looked so large when you were a kid.

Overall I think they did a good job of rebuilding the Quite Waters trail system.  It has  rocky base in most areas as the terrain was drudged up from the Quite Waters lake years ago.
On my last day I visited Markam Park in Ft. Lauderdale.  This trail system as also changed over the years with many new miles of trails.
The soil on many of the trails were a nice black rich soil.  It was very fun to fly along through the trail system with all the traction you could possible ask for.
Of all the parks I think enjoyed Markam Park the most.  They variety of trails there is overwhelming. 
I about killed myself riding down this section.  It might have been because I was riding a bike that was to small for me.  After this near death experience I realized why the park makes you watch a safety video and sign a waiver before you ride.  I never did watch that video and sneaked in on the backside of each course.  Funny all those old places that I used to ride into the park are still there.

It was a good week down in South Florida.  I enjoyed myself and even got a little tan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Key Lime Pie - Redneck Version

After visiting my parents in South Florida for the week, my Mother asked me what I wanted for my final meal.  I said fried chicken, dumplings, okra, black eye peas and key lime pie for dessert.  I enjoyed a delicious dinner but got a redneck version of key lime pie.

3 basic ingredients: Key Lime yogurt (any brand will do) graham crackers and Reddi Whip. 
Step 1:  Crumble your favorite brand of graham crackers in a bowl.  Be careful not to crumble up too much.  Larger pieces will work better.

Step 2: Add your favorite brand of key lime yogurt. Gently spread the yogurt being sure to cover the graham crackers completely.

You should have the bottom layer of graham crackers with a second layer of key lime yogurt.
Step 3: Add a layer of Reddi Whip.  You can also use Cool Whip if you so desire. 

Your personal Redneck Key Lime Pie is now complete and ready.  The above recipe makes one serving.

Step 4: Enjoy your hard work.  This dessert is very tasty. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Cross Report

This years Veterans Cyclocross race was one event that I was actually looking forward to and had on my calendar as a must do event.   Last year Roger said he wanted to bring back racing to the University of Saint Mary campus.  I remember those old races there from the De Stad Cyclocross Van Kansas Series.  Sadly Roger was not able to secure Saint Mary and moved his event across the street to the Leavenworth VA Medical Center.  
Last one?  I have heard this many times from my good friend Roger Harrison.  He says that this will be his last cyclocross race that he ever promotes.  I would not bet money on it.   This year Roger teamed up with Big D Cycling to promote the 2014 Veterans Cyclocross race.  They did a great job together and put on a very fun event. 

Carolynn and I were out taking some photos: 2014 Veterans Cyclocross Photos .  My photos of the Cat 4 was taken after consuming several beers but after reviewing them they actually came out great.  Maybe that is my new secret to great photos.

Prior to the race Roger announced that I had won a special award for the best looking racer with the longest hair.  I can not argue with that award and happily accepted a haircut  and style from Tom and Ann's in Leavenworth, KS.   Also got a free wax job.  It has been a long time since I got a Brazilian.....

Big D Cycling provided the food.  Post race I had one of the brats.  Very tasty if I do say so myself.
It was fun racing with my teammates today.  Doug Stone had a lot on the line with the KBCXR series title.  He got off to a fast start ahead of Rick Moseley.
There was a little crash in the first turn.  During warmups I just new someone would go down and it turned out to my by teammate Damian Almanza along with a few others.  I narrowly avoided the pileup.
I settled into a comfortably hard pace early on.  I wanted to ride strong for the entire 45 minutes and have my last 3 laps my fastest.  This season I have been along side David Romisch several times.  He paced me on the second lap just before the barriers.
I decided to pick up the pace mid race and actually brought back David and passed him.  The effort was short lived and David got back by during the last few laps when I burped my rear tire and had to slow the pace. 
My main goal for the day was to try to place in the top 3 in the 45-49 division.  My second goal was to beat David and Damian.  Both goals were reach  :-)
Roger put a $50.00 bounty on Steve Songer's head.  Any rider who beat him took home some gas money.  Steve worked his way through everyone except overall race winner Moseley. 
Overall I liked the course.  It was a bit fast and very bumpy in sections, but I did well on the tight corners.  Heck I even liked the very narrow course - no one could pass me there :-)  This course would have been great if it was muddy or snowed. 
I was happy to see the finish of the race.  The last 2 or so laps were hard.  I had burped my tire and lost about 10 psi.   The low pressure smoothed out the rough course but the turns were very tricky.  I should have just came in for bike change but the low tire really was not slowing my down much so I rolled on to the finish.
It took an act from Roger Harrison for me to actually win an award.  Roger gave out awards in 5 year age groups for the Masters.  With the competition this is actually a good idea.  An even better idea is to have a Masters A/B class.  The A class for Cat 1/2 masters.  The B class for Cat 3/4 masters.  
Doug Stone had another great event and took home the the series championship. 
Christopher tried to race the Kona single speed in the Men's Cat 4 class.  He got off to a strong start and looked good.  This lasted about 2 laps when he came in for a bike change and grabbed his old flat bar MTB bike that we built up for him.  Still unsure what to do for a bike for him.  He is about 6'1 now and needs a larger frame bike but his lack of training does not motivate me to spend the money on a new bike.  I was hoping that he would "earn" a new bike by putting in an honest effort to train some and not just show up on race day. 
I put my award to good use and consumed about 3 beers.  That is a lot for me but since Roger got Bud Light just for me and I was lucky enough to win an mug I just had to.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Time for some Gravel Grinding

I have raced 5 cyclocross races so far this year.  I started off the season a little behind on form but expected to slowly progress.  Well that has not been the case.  Saturday's Colavita Cup brought the same disappointing result - mid pack.  Even on a flat course the best I could do was 10th in the Masters 40+ class. 

I looked at myself in the mirror really hard over the weekend and came to the realization that it is time to call it quits. I saw no fight in my eyes.  There is no use paying $30.00 (or $60.00 if Christopher races) to riding around courses when I am not having fun nor getting the results I had hoped for.  It appears it is time to begin the Gravel Grinding Season

Roger's Veterans Cross is this Sunday.  That will be my last "planned" cross race of the season.  I might attend some other events if some true cross weather shows up or the course is fun.  I do like playing in the mud and on frozen turf.  That is something I would gladly pay for.

This Friday is the Full Moon Monty Gravel Grinder.   Weather is looking awesome for this year's event.

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.