Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 Hare Scrambles Awards

It has been 25 years since I participated in a year long motorcycle racing series.  The last one was back in 1988 - Florida Winter Am Series. In 2013 I raced the entire Forward Motion Hare Scramble Series.  Going into the year I had no intention of racing all the events buts felt at home and was having so much fun.

 Saturday night was the FMHSC Awards Banquet.   It was very cool to see so many families.  That is one nice thing about motorcycle racing it is one big family.  The line for the dinner was very very long.

I remember when the Midwest Fat Tire Championship Series was still going on. We had an end of year awards and party.   Being part of that family was very cool also.  Check out the shirt I am wearing above.  Looks like a night shirt?  I somehow forgot to bring my dress cloths for the awards back in 2007 and had to where my pajama top.

Christopher showing off all the cash we won.  Yea, it was Monopoly money to be used to bid on auction items later in the evening.  We ended up getting out bid on everything.  We should have bid on smaller items early on and not wait for the big ticket items. 
Carolynn enjoying the evening.  She was just happy she did not have to bring food for a couple of hundred people like she does during MTB events. 
Jason working hard at training for the 2014 season.  After analyzing his diet, Jason found out that more protein is needed.  It just so happened that Carolynn made her world famous Peanut Butter Cream Pie - 10 grams of protein per wondererful slice.

The #1 Bike of Macon Ezell was on display.  I got to watch the top AA riders a few times while I did some course patrol.  It is amazing how smooth and fast those guys are in the woods. 
The crowd enjoys dinner and eagerly awaits for the awards ceremony to begin.
Christopher ended up 3rd place overall in the Trail Riders class.  Not bad for his first year of racing. Despite never winning a race and still having a percentile that qualifies for the Trail rider class he is moving up to Sport class next year.  One way to get better is by riding with more experienced riders.

The old dudes class.  It was fun racing with the Senior 45+ guys. I developed what I hope will be some lasting friendships.  I will miss racing with them this year.  Moving up to the Vet Advanced class for 2014.
Christopher and I showing off our awards.  Is it just me or is he taller than me?
This year I will be running the #518 in the Vet Advanced class.   I chose a black background color this year so I can participate in some MORE events next year.  Besides, I think the black backgrounds look cool.
The day after the awards banquet we headed out to Challenge Trax to enjoy a day of riding their MX track.  Due to the warm weather they opened up the track for practice.  Christopher is showing some improvement in the whoops. 
Jason came along with us to get some saddle time in on his KX 450. 
Jason let me ride his KX 450. That thing is a beast.  I started getting arm pump after only a lap.  I went out with the Expert/Intermediate riders and felt at home for the most part. 
Jumping is starting to come back to me. Riding Jason's bike really made the jumps easy.  I have to push my little 250X to make the big jumps, but with the KX 450 just sack up and hit the gas.
The Challenge Trax was fun.  The jumps were relatively safe. I can could see myself getting into trouble on that 450 so I only did a handful of laps.  It was very fun riding a MX bike instead of a bike setup for woods.  Suspension was very stiff.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Look Back on 2013

I sit here this morning thinking about 2014 and what path I want to take for this new year.  First I wanted to take a look back on 2013.....

 You have to start the year off by riding in the Lawrence Mountain Bike Club's New Years Day ride.  Last years ride was one of the best ever.  We got to ride in near perfect snow riding conditions.  Yes it was very cold, but darn fun. 

The year started out good with plenty of training rides on local trails and several well attended Gravel Grinders.  The family even found a weekend to head to Arkansas for a family MTB Training Camp - Carolynn found a new favorite place to ride in Blowing Springs and Christopher tried to break his new rig
Early in the year while out riding with Christopher I crashed while trying to hop over a log.  I caught my pedal on the log and the force sent me over the bars.  I hit my head really hard and got knocked out.  I can not tell you how many times I have hit my head.  I wish I had someone to sue like some NFL players have for "repetitive head trauma" or otherwise known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.  If Pro Motocross or mountain bike racing had a Pro Union maybe, but neither do.  Besides hitting my head I injured my wrist.  At first I thought it was just a sprain, but it turned out I torn some ligaments.  Surgery was an option, but after visiting the doctor(s) and with a 50/50 chance that the surgery would even heal (lack of blood flow in that region) I decided to live with it and start rehab.  The good thing about it was Carolynn and I got really good at taping injuries :-)

I had to take a break from mountain bike riding but I was still able to ride gravel.  We had a good winter of gravel grinding.  I put in some good base miles and was planning to race the Ouachita Challenge
As it turned out I would have to sell my entry.  My wrist was not healing very quickly.  At this point I did not know if it would heal at all.  I could still ride road and some smoother gravel but I was also experiencing some knee pain after rides.  I kept thinking it was my position on the bike but after fits and adjustments no change.  I have had this problem off and on for the last couple of years.  Maybe this pain is just part age?

 For Spring break we headed down to South Florida.  A nice visit. Spent some time with my parents, hit the beach, rented some scooters, swam, kayaked and played on one of my new favorite water toys a SUP.  One of the highlights of our day on the Stand Up Paddle boards was Christopher and I had a cool encounter with some Dolphins.

 After we got back from Florida it was time to focus on the first event that the team was promoting for the year.  The 11th Annual God's Country Fat Tire Festival.  Saturday was the off-road duathlon.  It usually draws a nice turnout and is the kick off to the multi-sport season.  I can usually race the short course and was able to jump in this year.  I was surprised how my wrist held up and was able to take the win in my age-group.   Sunday was the UFD season opener.  That was one hell of a day!  If it were not for some great volunteers, that day would not have happened.  We got hit with 6 to 7 inches of snow.  I guess everyone thought we were going to cancel the race because we had a terrible turnout.   Those that did come out got to enjoy a great day of racing in the snow.  It is not often that you get to race in the snow.  After the event it makes you think really hard if promoting a race in the Midwest is worth it, if the majority of participants are going to stay home when the going gets a little hard. I can tell you from a financial standpoint it is not.

After a few postponements due to bad weather, the 2013 Forward Motion Hare Scrambles Series got underway over in Milford Lake, Kansas.  At this point in the season I had planned to race just a few rounds with Christopher and focus on MTB/Triathlons as usual.  We only got to ride once before the race.  I knew it was going to be a long hard event especially with my wrist.  The good thing was it is my left wrist and not my throttle hand.   I was more worried about Christopher since he didn't train very much leading up to the season.  Racing hard on a motorcycle for 2+ hours is very demanding.  Christopher found out just how demanding it was when he had to pull off before the end of the race.  He was totally exhausted and could not safely hold onto the bike anymore while riding.  His hands were all bloody after the race and even paid a visit to the EMT.  I was fortunate to have a great event and took the win in the Senior 45+ class.  I must be honest, I had a lot of fun out riding. It is something I grew up with and have a lot of passion for.

Bone Bender MTB Odyssey was next up.  We got good local support for this event as well as plenty of out of town racers.  Bone Bender is always a fun event.  With all the support from Cow Town, LMBC and The Wheel Cyclery the event was a success.
 The rest of spring and early summer was spent racing our dirt bikes on the weekends.  Christopher started to improve as his fitness came around and he built up enough strength to ride his CRF 250X.  At the Cole Camp round Christopher was leading the race, but got a flat tire on the last lap.  He still finished up 2nd which was his best finish of the season so far. 

I tried to train as much as possible to get ready for the 2013 Missouri State MTB Championships.  I had the speed, but not the stamina. Tige went with Christopher and I to race as the event was a qualifier for the MTB National Championships.  Cycling is mostly an endurance sport.  You can have awesome technical skills, but if you can not put in the hours of training you will not succeed. It takes hundreds of hours of  training each year of training to win at at the higher Cat 1 level. A person needs to be physically and mentally able to put in those hours.  If I am honest with myself then it looks like I had neither this year.  Every time I started putting in serious mileage my body would not respond well especially my knees.  When you have to ice down your knees and joints just to keep training it really makes you think is it worth it.

Carolynn participated in her first duathlon this year.  She trained for a month or so for it and the results showed.  1st place in the Female 50+ division in the Sedalia Duathlon and 2nd overall in the Short course. The majority of the women on the day did the short course so I think she did very well.  In 2014 there may be a triathlon in her future.  I only did one duathlon and one triathlon this year.  I just could not put in the run time to be successful at triathlons.  My swim and bike were good, but you are not going to run fast if you do not put in the miles and reduce your weight.  My knees just do not like running much so I decided to forgo multisport for the rest of the year.

The bulk of the summer was spent racing Hare Scrambles.  Christopher improved a lot and worked his way into the points lead for the Trail Rider division.  That elusive win for him never came due to poor starts and/or not having the ability to pass.  I think it is lack of aggression which will come with more confidence and experience on the bike.
We headed out to Colorado again this summer and spent a week with the Reeves'.   Plenty of riding, but I think the best part was climbing Bierstadt Mountain.
Christopher was involved in his first crash of the year.  He totaled Carolynn's Matrix.  I do not mind him crashing his bike or motorcycle.  It is all part of the game, but crashing a car is another story.  I personally have never been in an accident and do not intend to be in one...
 My little man is a Senior in High School now.  He sure has grown up quickly. Off to college next year (if he graduates :-)).
This summer while inspecting our house I found some rotten wood.  Turns out I have termites.  Those bastards set us back several thousand dollars.  We saved a lot of money by doing most of the repairs ourselves.  I can do a lot of things well, but working with wood is not my specialty. Luckily Christopher is good at that.  
The remaining of the summer and fall was spent racing our dirt bikes.  I started to really feel good on the bike.  Getting my old grove back.  A couple of times I almost got myself in trouble by riding outside my current ability level.  I quickly settled back down and realized that I am not a crazy 20 year old anymore.  I locked up the Forward Motion Hare Scrambles championship with a few rounds to go.  Christopher also had a chance at winning, but his results the last two rounds were not enough.  He finished 3rd in the series which was his goal going into the year.  Overall a very successful year for both us.

Carolynn and I celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary.

Cross season came and went with me only racing one event - Cross Out Cancer.  Ironically I ended with skin cancer after this event.  Well, it was discovered after the event while I had noticed the section on my arm for the entire year, but never went to see the doctor.
We had two events at Wyco in 2013.  Mason's Midsummer Meltdown and Wyco's Revenge.  Christopher earned his only win of the year and I took 2nd place in both events. 

 With Christopher growing up fast we got some family photos taken.  Bart Cox did an awesome job.

Take away the injuries 2013 was good to me.  One important thing I learned in 2013 was that I need to take it easy on my body.   My body is o.k. with shorter easy rides, but every time I try to put in a hard training block my body does not respond well especially my knees. I also discovered that my body holds up better when I work out with weights more.  This past year I gained 15 pounds with all the weights and physical therapy that I did.  Unfortunately sports like Triathlon and Cycling tend to reward the lean athlete.   I need to accept that my days of competitive cycling/running are over.  How many 190 lbs cyclist do you see on top of the box?  I still plan to do some cycling events, but will focus more on "skill" based events and events that do not reward the featherweight or the athlete that that willing to sacrifice his body.  Been there done that....