Monday, December 17, 2007

Bernie loves the snow. Here is some low quality video of the nut this last weekend.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Illinois State Championships

I am still beat from Sunday. The result wasn't what I was hoping for, but I feel like I raced really hard, and that is all I can ask for. As you can see the conditions were really tough, but along with a nicely designed course it made for great racing. It was great to get to race with teammate Brian Parker for most of the race. We really fed off of each other and used a bit a team tactics to catch and drop a couple of guys. I am always sad after cross season ends, but it's only 9 more months until the next cross race!!
Photos Courtesy of Ed White and Ansgar Graw.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Wisco State Championships and Special Days in the Saddle

It was late winter in Lexington, KY circa 1997 when I headed out with teammate John Koury for an interval workout on the beautiful country roads that meandered through the horse farms of the Bluegrass. Temps were in the mid 30’s and the skies overcast. As we completed several tough repeats it began to snow. Not just snow, but huge flakes that made it difficult to see and covered the road. We continued on with our work out, completing the intervals as planned. We headed home freezing cold, knowing we did something that most people would have quit early and headed home to the warmth of their house.

It may have been that same year as above, when John, our other friend Mark and I headed to Blacksburg, VA for a Spring Break of road riding in the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Each day we were there it was overcast and rained at some point during the ride. One particular day we were driving to the start point of the ride and it began to rain. It wouldn’t stop for the entire ride that day, which included some climbs used during the Tour DuPont. After a couple of missed turns and several steep climbs we found our way to the road that lead back to the car. We had 20 miles to a small town followed by one last mile long climb. The rain was still coming down, the temperature dropped as the miles ticked by slowly. Each 5 miles there was a sign showing how many miles to the town. We were all hungry and cold, as tempers flared at the smallest accelerations in paceline. The last five miles to the town were down a winding road, and I was being followed by a semi-trailer. My brakes barely worked, I couldn’t feel my fingers and all I could do was hope to stay upright. Finally reaching the town we had one last climb back to the warm car.

Fast forward to the Wisconsin State Cyclocross Championships in Hales Corners, WI on December 2, 2007. The night before 3-4 inches of thick slushy snow came down on southeast Wisconsin. On the drive to the race venue it was raining and sleeting and the temps were in the mid 40’s. I was super excited. After getting signed up, setting up the bike, and getting changed it began to sleet harder. These were some serious cross conditions. By the start of the 3’s race there was a steady sleet coming down. Race starts and I am going nowhere. I picked the wrong starting location and was bogged down in the ruts. I was in last place after 100 meters. Through the sandpit and I pass one guy. Great, now I am 2nd to last.

Through a couple of off-camber turns to the first set of barriers into a winding run-up. Onto some asphalt back onto the snow and mud. Past the wheel pit heading to the backside of the course. I passed one or two more guys on this straightway. Over a footbridge to some tight chicanes into a long uphill section. At this point on the 1st lap I am stuck behind a slower rider. Pass him on the climb, but getting out of the main line is tough when riding into the deep rutted snow. 180 degree turn back down the hill into an off camber turn into another 180 degree turn followed by a triple set of barriers into another run up. Through some more chicanes and twists, back over a bridge to the start/finish line. This was really a great course. After the fist lap, the course was getting rutted and smoother lines were more perceivable. Mud flying everywhere, tripod around the corners when needed, and lots of shouldering of the bike (my shoulder is really sore today). As the race went on the corners got muddier and slicker, while the straights became smoother and faster. We ended up doing 4 laps in 45 minutes, and I rolled in 12th. I couldn’t feel my toes and was so happy to find out the park district building had hot showers. This was the ticket to warming up post race. I felt like the pros after Paris Roubaix taking the showers at the velodrome. My start really blew it for me. I was stupid to line up to the outside and not in the center where the course was more worn in. I know this cost me a few spots in the end. Oh well.

Like the stories above, this day will go down as one of the classic hard man days of my life. I will always remember the mud, snow, sleet, the cheering teammates, the guy with the horn, and all the cowbells. These are the days, good or bad, that make up my cycling memory; not the perfect sunny 70 degree days in the middle of June, where everything goes smoothly. These are the days that make you feel closer to your heroes, like Hampsten on the Gavia or Jonathan Page riding to a 2nd place at the Worlds only a few months after injuring his shoulder. Suffering is universal throughout the sport of cycling, and is the thread that connects the weekend warrior to the Pro, and its a big reason for this sport being so great.

Photos courtesy of

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pit of Despair

Sand more than any obstacle on a cross course changes from lap to lap. Right when you think you have the perfect line to smoothly negotiate a sandpit, it changes, resulting in the bike coming to a stop and possibly the rider being thrown to the ground. You then pop up with a mouth full of sand, pick up the bike and start running before you know what happened, only to do it again a few minutes later, hopefully with better results.

The fifth stop on the Chicago Cross Cup tour headed south to Lansing, IL and was a new race for the series. Upon reaching the course I was greeted by teammate, Brian Boyle the Good. He had already raced the 30+ event and said the course was flat and fast, with no real technical sections besides a long sandpit. Brian was spot on with his assessment. There were a couple of 180 degree turns, but also a lot of swooping high speed turns, a super fast single barrier and triple set of barriers.

My main goal for this race was to get a good start and see how long I can hang with the 5 or so guys that have been dominating the 3’s this year. twenty-two riders lined up for the 3’s, and I was able to get a front row starting position. The first section was really tight, with only about 20 meters before it narrowed between some trees and a baseball backstop.

Race started, had a slight bobble with the pedal, but got moving quickly. Jumped in behind Jason Knauff of Team Clif Bar, and we were off. I was sitting in 6th place as we headed into the fast single barrier. Over the barrier and we had already opened a gap on the other racers. This is right where I wanted to be. The pace was really fast, and sitting on the back I was definitely getting a bit of a draft. I went through the triple barriers smoothly and was back on the gas. The course had a couple of really cool roundabouts on the asphalt that we were really cruising through. Now we were heading to the sandpit. Everyone was saying, stay left and get up on the grass halfway through. Into the sand, and I bogged down. Quick remount after the sand, and back on the group, snaked through the final sections to the start/finish line. One more time through the course and back to the sandpit. To the left once again and I bogged down once again. Off the bike and running but a gap had opened. For the next half lap I buried myself to get back on with the lead group of five. I was able to make contact before the single barrier, and was back on the train for the time being. Next time through the triple barriers and I pop. I was done and a gap was opening, I had blown and I was in no mans land. I was quickly joined and quickly passed by teammate Adam Clark. I was pedaling squares.

It took another lap until the next guy caught me. I was able to recover a bit while he set the pace. I then sat on his wheel for a half a lap until I was feeling like I could contribute to the pace. By this time we were joined by another rider from Bandit cycling. For the rest of the race the three of us would stay together. I could tell the rider from Bandit was the strongest. When he would go to the front he definitely was making us hurt. By this time I was following the Mob rider through the sandpit on the right hand side. On this side it was sand the whole way, but not as deep, and rideable. It definitely took muscling to get through the last 5 feet or so. Heading into the last lap the three of us were together. As we headed into the single barrier, the rider from Bandit didn’t unclip and went into the barrier really hard, flipping into the air, landing on the ground on his back. As I rode by I asked if he was OK, and then took off. It was apparent that he wasn’t going to chase back on, but while slowing down to miss him the rider from Mob, had latched onto one of the Cat 1 riders and was gone. I chased hard, but couldn’t close the gap. My last hope was he would bobble through the sand, but it didn’t happen. In the end I rolled in for 10th place.
While I would have like to finish a few places higher, I was happy that I could ride the pace of the top guys, and was able to chase back on after a couple of laps. I don’t think I could have kept their pace the entire race, but if I could have stayed with them for a couple of more laps it would have meant the difference between 6th or 7th place and 10th place. I also learned that sometimes you need to ignore your ego. After the 1st lap bobble in the sand I should have been running the sand to keep contact with the leaders instead of wanting (not needing) to ride the sand. Lessoned learned.

FYI: I was also sporting the old school Briko Sunglasses at the race. They really are some cool shades.
Photos courtesy of Ed White

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanks Kelly!!

Kelly ordered a bunch of Belgian beers for my Birthday present. A big box arrived yesterday direct from Belgium. She also picked up some sweet glasses from Piraat, Duvel, and La Chouffe. Can't wait to try them out.

Belgian beers have some really intersting labels. They seem to really like to use elves and other mythical creatures on their labels.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Weekend in Louisville

Wow, what a long and great weekend. Between the racing and getting to see family it was a ton of fun.

The weekend started early on Friday. We were up and on the road by 7:00, and after a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts we hit the open road evenutually hitting I-65 south. I have done this drive more times than I can count and it really is a boring stretch or road. Our plan of attack was to hit Hubers on the way down to pick up apples, gourds, and some pumpkin ice cream. After that we would head over to Champions Park to check out the course for the weekend USGP events. We hoped to take more photos at Hubers, but the batteries died on our camera. Here is Kelly as Dracula.

When we were leaving Hubers there was a slight sprinkle and the sky were completely overcast. After making our way down from the knobs we crossed the Ohio River and eventually pulled into the parking lot at the park. After getting the bike and helmet out I headed out for a lap of the course. I was greeted by some fast grass sections, plenty of off-camber slick ups and downs, 6 sandpits, and the infamous Green Monster. The deepest sandpit made the Carpenters Park sandpit look like nothing. There was a big drop off into the sand, and it was really loose and deep. I decided I would probably run this section, and not risk getting bogged down. As I was running I looked to my right to see Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks come flying by, making it look effortless. As my short pre-ride ended the rain was coming down harder, and by the time I got the bike on the rack it was really pouring. It appeared that the next day was going to be a mudfest. That night we hung out with my Aunt Paula, had a good Pasta dinner with meatballs and pasta Sauce from Bertos in Downers Grove, and finally watched “Knocked Up”.

The next morning I had some toast with PB&J, coffee, and a couple of bananas. We then loaded up the car and headed back to the park. After arriving I picked up my race packet and walked a bit of the course to see how things were looking. Racers on the course were looking dirty, but not super muddy. The muddy sections were definitely really slick, but it wasn’t deep mud or super slop. After a good warmup it was time to stage for the Cat 2/3 race. This was the first race I have done with call-ups. Call-ups were based on race #, and I didn’t hit the jackpot with this one. I had a 7th row call-up (8 riders in each row). For today’s race there was a total of 67 riders. 67 riders on a really narrow course (no wider than 10’ on any part of the course) meant there would be some wild stuff on the first lap. After the 3 minute countdown, the official shot the gun and we were off. The guy in front of me was really slow getting going and I lost some places immediately. After a 50 yard asphalt section there was a 90 degree left hand turn onto the grass followed by a looping 180 degree turn to a 90 degree right hand turn onto a narrow sidewalk. After about 50 yards there was a right into a tight chicane on the grass. This was the location of the first crash. Bikes caught in the tape, people riding over bikes, people yelling, total chaos. I got caught behind the crash, but didn’t get knocked down. Back on the pedals, forward into a straight section into two 180 degree turns before the double barriers. More carnage, bikes knocking together, people falling. Over the double barriers, back on the bike to a really narrow part of the course, which was awesome with all the people lining the route cheering. Onto the asphalt to an off-camber right hand turn to a mudpit to a looping 180 degree turn to another 180 degree turn to a drop-off into a sandpit. Through the sand, more people going down. Out of the sand to a sharp uphill into a 180 degree turn. Back on the grass straight to an off-camber left hand turn and onto the asphalt. Hammer the asphalt, 180 degree right hand turn to a fast straight past the wheel pit. On the brakes through two tight muddy corners. Straight section to the big sandpit. Off the bike and run. Back on the bike right hand turn to another sandpit. Not deep sand, but real loose and squirrelly. Through a couple more tight corners into some fast straight-aways and a stair run-up. 180 degree turn back through a muddy section onto the asphalt. More people going down on the transition between the mud and asphalt. From the asphalt into a really off-camber uphill into another down hill back into an uphill. I rode the first uphill dismounted at the top and ran the down /up. Back on the bike through a really slick rooty, right hand turn. Back on the asphalt into another off-camber uphill into a downhill and a 180 degree left hand turn on to the grass followed by two more sandpits. Back on the grass into a sharp down hill into a 180 degree turn followed by a stair run up.

I would dismount before the downhill, run the turn and up the stairs. Remount at the top and back onto the grass. Cross over some asphalt and back into the crowds. Under the flyover and over a steep ledge, and quickly into a 180 degree left hand turn. Quick right/left and now the stairs up the flyover. Up the super steep stairs to the top. These steps were almost vertical.

Remount and down the ramp and quickly into a left hand turn. Back on the gas through a couple of fast turn into a straight away.

One last chicane and back on the asphalt to the start/finish. Now all I had to do was do 3 more laps. After the first lap it really spread out, but I was always was racing someone, which was really cool. I was able to chase down a couple of people and had a really good battle with a Texas Roadhouse rider on the last lap. I was able to get to the flyover in front of him on the last lap and held him off to the finish for 45th place. At first I was a little disappointed with my placing, but after looking at the results from the race compared to the Ohio Valley Series a lot of the guys in front of me race A’s and do well. I was definitely outclassed by some of these guys, but I felt really strong and hope it is good sign for the next couple of weeks. The best part of the race was having my Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, and a couple of cousins there cheering me on and ringing cowbell.

After the race I cleaned up, and Kelly and I went to get some grub, before heading back to watch the Pro races. We picked up a beer, or two from Bluegrass Brewery during the Pro races. Katie Compton crushed the women’s field, and there was an awesome duel between Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers in the Men’s race. Watching these guys through the technical sections was amazing. Horsepower matched with skills is a beautiful thing.

That night we headed out for a great dinner at Basa Vietnamese. Thanks Paula!!

The next morning we were greeted by sunny skies and cooler temps. I was expecting a faster course after a couple of days without rain. I headed over to the race by myself, and Kelly and Paula planned to show up before the race start. After getting to the race I realized I left my backpack with my helmet, gloves, and sunglasses at my Aunts. Pretty much everything I needed. Thank god, Louisville is easy to get around, and Kelly showed up with enough time for me to get geared up. The promoters changed the course slightly for the 2nd day. Some of the straight sections were now windy, the barriers were high speed, and they added three new sandpits, two of which had turns in the middle for an extra challenge. 72 riders lined up for today’s race. I got a better call up today, and would be starting 3rd row. The gun went off and with today’s course things were much smoother to the barriers.

I was trying to hold my ground, but was getting passed by some of the big guns on the straights. After the barriers people were bumping into each other and going down here and there. I managed to avoid the carnage and had a clean first lap. Today we ended up doing five laps. With a faster course we were really flying, even though several of the corners were still really slick. Several guys misjudged some of these corners and went down hard. Luckily none of them took me with them. I was much more confident on the remount at the top of the flyover along with the sandpits. I ended up in a small group of 4 or 5 riders for most of the race, which always makes cross racing more fun. Today I finished 40th out of 72. Slight improvement over yesterday.
I really hope they have this race next year. It was an amzing experience. I also hope that all the Chicagoans that missed it this year decide to make the boring drive down I-65. It was well worth it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Are you Kidding me?? and Doubling Up is not for Me

Are you kidding me?? And Doubling up is not from me

Check this out. Am I heading to Louisville of Belgium? Stair run-up to a remount followed by a steep ramp descent back to the dirt is going to be a ton of fun. On top of that the pass under will be awesome along with the 6 sandpits. I better put on my hardman helmet and get ready for some serious pain.
Photo from

Raced at Carpenters Park in Carpentersville, IL on Sunday. This race was the 2nd stop in the Chicago Cross Cup Series. The guys at North Branch Cycling put on a great event and make the most of the small venue. The course had plenty of dismounts and twists and turns to keep things interesting, and the speakers pumping out the tunes was great addition. After getting registered and changed I headed out for a quick inspection of the course. Very similar to last year, with the exception of relocating the sandpit. Last year it was an easy entry into the sand that allowed for riding through each lap. This year the pit had a foot drop off from the grass, and after watching others warming up I decided to run the sandpit during the race. I don’t think I lost any time with this strategy early in the race, but towards the end it was taking a toll on my legs. The course was also soft and sapped the energy from the legs, definitely a power course. I lined up with 32 or so riders, with some big guns such as Brian Conant, Kevin Klug and Lou Kuhn. I knew these guys were on a different level, but I hoped I could make the most of my first Masters 30+ event. After introductions by Jeff from Main Street Bicycles we were off. Surprisingly I didn’t feel that the pace was unbelievably fast from the start, and I moved into a Top 10 position heading into the first set of barriers. A rider in front of me bobbled at the first barrier and left his bike on the ground while he continued forward. After a slight slow down I was back at it, trying to close the gap to the lead train. Through the up/down turns heading towards the bumpy downhill remount I was behind Kevin Heppner from Killjoy. Over the barriers, followed by a jump over the sandy creek bed (This seemed wider than last year and was difficult to completely clear). Back on the bike through the narrow chicane section. 180 degree turn onto the asphalt. Top guys are starting to create gaps. Off the asphalt at high speed and onto the grass, dismount over the barrier to the stone lined creek crossing jump. Back on the bike and pack on the power (For some reason this was the remount that was killing me. I bobbled several times, either getting my shorts stuck on my saddle or having a hard time getting clipped in. I was also not shifting to an easier gear before the dismount and it was taking too long to get back up to speed). Around the baseball field to the off camber 180 degree turn. Around the Hawthorne tree to the soft rideable creek crossing. As the laps progressed the crossing was getting deeper and deeper. Each time I told myself just point the wheel straight and everything will be a-ok. Through the creek, back on the gas around a sweeping righthand turn to the sandpit. Off the bike and run. The sandpit for the early laps was hardpacked on the right side, which made running easy, but later the pit was deep and rutted. Back on the bike, 180 degree turn to a bumpy section followed by a really short steep uphill dirtectly into a downhill. Power section back to the start/finish. Now I just had to do the same thing about 8 or 9 more times. Unfortunately I started moving back throughout the race. Stupid mistakes led to gaps opening which led to loss of places. In the end I finished 15th.

Two hours later I lined up for the 3’s. Small field of only 15 racers. The temp was much warmer than earlier and I was trying to down as much liquid as possible before the event. Race started and my legs were dead. I got a decent start, but was quickly moving back. After about 4 laps I was done and headed to the officials to let them know I was a DNF. It was good to experiment with the double, but I am definitely better off putting all my energy into one event. These next few week should be fun with lots of great races on the calendar. This is the part of the season where I am hoping for some good results.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Second Chances

Sometimes when I first listen to a new album it just doesn’t grab me and I end up putting it one the shelf, only to listen to the album at a later date and realize it is a well crafted piece of music. This happened with the album “Boxer” by The National. The first time I heard the album was back in June while driving with Kelly from the Grand Canyon to Telluride. A good portion of the ride was flat, wide open expanses of land. It was a beautiful landscape, but became monotonous after awhile. The album is very similar in that the lead singer’s voice is droning and can become tiring. At the time I was definitely disappointed that I didn’t like it, as I had read many good reviews of the album, and it just didn’t seem to live up to the hype.

A couple of weeks ago Kelly and I were out and she threw the album into the CD player. I was really amazed at how much I was liking the album. Once accept the singers voice, the songs are really beautifully sculpted, with a mix of strings and electronics. Quite nice stuff, and now I highly recommend it.

Other albums that I am glad I gave a second chance:

Wilco “A Ghost is Born”
Interpol “Antics”
Ryan Adams “Cold Roses”
LCD Soundsystem “LCD Soundsystem”

Sunday, October 14, 2007


This years race at Cam Rock was much different than last year when Brian Parker and I were greeted by snow, mud and riders moving at 5 mph looking like there legs were about to explode. This year we had cool temps, and a super dry course. Kelly, Bernie and I made it to the park with plenty of time to spare. We had enough time to cheer on Jeff at the end of the 4's race. He was looking really strong and hopefully had a good finish.

After getting changed and warmed up, we were given enough time for one lap of the course. The course included a bunch of the same stuff from last year, with a few changes to keep it interesting. Upon examination the course was really fast with a bunch of off camber turns, roots and loose mulch . These aren't my favorite conditions, as I have a hard time judging how fast I can push it through the turns, but that is what makes cross great; each course is different and conditions always vary.

32 riders lined up for the start of the 3's race. The start consisted of an uphill asphalt section into a 180 degree turn down a rutted double track into a sharp left hand turn. My start has always been a week point for me, and this race was no different. I felt like I was engulfed by the entire field field, and found myself sitting about 15th after the first few minutes of the race. The course had a bunch of short steep sections, and at the top of one hill there was a guy playing a trombone, which was a cool addition that had to the Euro feel.

From this point I yo yo'd back and fourth anywhere between the mid teens and the low 20's. This course was all about holding speed through the turns and hammering the flats and hills I felt like I did a good job with the power sections, but really struggle with the loose off camber turns. Any gaps I would open on racers would be gone after a couple of turns. While I did struggle I did feel more comfortable towards the end of the race, so that is a good sign, but as they say too little, too late. In the end, I finished 21st.

My goal for the race was to hopefully finish in the top 1/2 of the field and possibly compete for a Top 10 finish. While this didn't happen, I still see a ton of room for improvement, and know these results are in my future.

Bernie was nuts as usual at the race, and Kelly has banned him from future cross races. He told us to give him one more chance, so we will see.

Next week I will definitely be racing the Chicago Cross Cup race in Carpentersville and am still debating racing the Whitewater cross race in Wisco. I've heard bad things about the Whitewater course and from photos I have seen from last year, if it rains the course becomes a mud bog.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Finally Fall??

Last night I could feel the cool winds blowing in as I finished up my cross practice. On top of that, it was only 6:30 and the sun was almost set. It seems that the seasons are finally changing and Fall is on its way. Fall has always been my favorite season; growing up it meant cross country races, University of Louisville football games and trips to Hubers for apples. Now that I am older, cross country races have been replaced by cyclocross races, but there is still football, and a trip to Hubers for apples. Kelly and I will be making our annual trip to Hubers on our way down to the USGP races the end of this month.

I will be racing at Cam Rock this weekend near Madison, WI. It looks it will be nice and dry, which is a huge change from last years event; where we were dealing with snow and deep mud. Last year ended up with my rear derailleur in small pieces along the trail and a bent hanger, so hopefully things will be different this year. The last few weeks I’ve had some good training, and with Jackson Park behind me I am hoping for an improved performance.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thrown into the Pain Cave Blind

I have been helping out a teammate, Jonathan Dugas, with a performance testing project he is completing with some students. He really knows his stuff, as can be seen here. This stuff is way over my head, but I am a good at being a guinea pig. The testing is taking part at Benedictine University out in Lisle, IL. We started back in July with two different max power tests. These are done on a Velotron bike. This is a really cool piece of machinery. If I had an extra $10,000 lying around it would be a great home trainer. The fist max test consisted of staring a ride at 150 watts. The watts increased 20 watts per minute at a constant rate. The goal of the test was to ride as long as you could. I maxed out at 408 watts, so I rode for about 13 minutes. The next max power test consisted of riding for 3 minutes at a given wattage followed by 3 minutes rest. The test started at 150 watts, and increase by 25 watts for each hard effort. I made it through the 350 watt test, and halfway through the 375 watt test. The hardest part of the tests was breathing through the mask, and not being able to breathe through my nose. It becomes very claustrophobic and the nose portion of the mask feels up with snot.

These first two tests were to ensure I made the cutoff to continue in the program. The cutoff was a max wattage of 4 watts/KG, which I easily made. Jonathan was running into some roadblock with getting the testing protocol approved through the school, but after a few months we could now continue with the testing. The next portion of the testing consists of completing four-20 KM time trials. These tests will be done over several weeks. The first is a baseline test followed by 3 more TT’s. Jonathan says there is normally a learning process from the 1st TT to the next 3 efforts. Most riders improve by one to two minutes. The toughest part about these TT’s is that I have to do them “blind” and have no information to look at. All Jonathan provided is a that he lets me know when I have completed each 2 KM segment.

For these tests they switched to a mouth piece instead of the mask. It is a little bit better, but your nose is still clamped shut, and by the end I was covered in drool. After getting the bike setup and a good warm-up, I was off. My goal, go as hard as you can go, but don’t blow up. The first 2 km seemed like it took forever, and quickly realized this was going to be long and painful. I settled in trying to keep the pedals moving at a good rate. Not knowing my speed or watts, made it really difficult from a mental standpoint. I just kept pedaling, switch to a harder gear for a bit, then back, increase the cadence, keep ticking over the pedals. 4 km’s past, and I really thought I was going to have trouble completing the TT. I had the same sensation from Sunday at JP, where my legs just felt dead, there was no snap. I kept pedaling. I told myself to hold a stead rate up until 4 km’s to go, and then hopefully kick it up a gear for a strong finish. The km’s went by slooowly, finally reaching the 4km to go mark. Put it in a harder gear and go. I finished fairly strong, really sprinting to the finish. I have no idea how long it took me to finish, or my average watts. I will be provided this info after the testing is complete. Cycling is such a mental sport, and I realize now that I do much better when I have a carrot in front of me to keep me moving; whether it be a rider in front of me or a rider behind chasing me, or a wattage reading to follow, I really need something. Now I have to complete 3 more of these TT’s. Should be fun?!?!?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Moving in One Gear

My day started with a 5:20 wakeup call. Threw on some clothes, loaded up the Curtlo and the Paragon and put some coffee in the travel mug. Next was a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for some coffee and donuts for the volunteers. After a quick drive to Jackson Park it was time to get the course up and running before the first race at 10:00. We had a small, but very focused group of guys to help set up the course, and after a few minutes of discussion we set off in different directions to play connect the dots with survey flags and SRAM tape. Riders started showing up around 8:00 in the morning for registration. Big thanks have to go out to Cecile for getting registration up and running, and making sure it ran like a well oiled machine throughout the day. After a mad scramble at 9:30 the course was finalized and we were ready to go. We had over 90 riders line up for the first races (Masters and Women 1,2,3). It was awesome to see that all our hard work had paid off and people actually showed up to compete. During the first races I realized that one section had been laid out in a different design and was allowing some riders to bunnyhop a barrier. Brian Parker and I had to quickly run and get some zip ties to hopefully keep the barrier in place. Lap after lap the barrier was taking more a beating. By the end the rebar was bent, and we decided to make a change prior to the next race. After some quick decision making we scrambled to move stakes and tape to create a really fun snakey section around some shrub plantings.

After watching a bit of the Juniors/Women 4’s race it was time to get ready for my race. I did a quick change into the XXX kit; and had enough time to eat a PB&J sandwich, down a couple of bottles of water, and head out on the course for a warm-up lap. The course was super fast, and I realized we were going to do a ton of laps in our 45 minute race. I lined up at the start with fellow XXX’rs: Nico Westlund, Brian Parker, Mike Stanley, Adam Clark, and Brian Boyle. The week before the race I told this guy that I fully expected him to win, and I was right. He was off like a madman never to be seen again. The race started, and I got an OK start. After rounding the baseball diamond, I was able to pass several guys heading into the first tech section with a fast move up the outside heading into the quick right, quick left section.. I nailed the barriers, and had a good run up. After the 180 degree turn, I had difficulty clipping in. I have new pair of shoes, and still haven’t been able to “stomp and go” the way I would like. After the 180 degree turn around the thorn bushes I still wasn’t clipped in, and lost several places. Finally back in the pedals and I was off. I jumped on the back of a train with Brian P. and Nico, and couple of other riders. I was hanging on the back, as we came into the newly designed snake section. I was trying to hang on for dear life, and knew being with this group was the difference between a top 10 placing and a Top 20 placing. As we came out of the snake I was gapped. I just didn’t have that next gear that I needed to hold on. It was one of those days, when your legs can’t keep up with your lungs. I never felt redlined, but I couldn’t get the legs to push a bigger gear. I rode the next couple of laps with a Turin rider. We battled back and forth, eventually being caught by Rich Delgado of Redline Racing. A few laps later Rich proceeded to dropped us, and I was left to battle it out with the Turin rider. With 3 to go, I could tell he was slowing. I put in an effort on the backside of the course and was able to open a gap. Unfortunately with one lap to go he was able to get back up to me. I really need a moral victory, so after the snakey section I put in one more effort to get in front of him, and was able to hold it to the finish, for 16th place.

After my race I had a short cooldown, and was back at it making sure the race was running smoothly. The Pro 1/2 race went off without a snag, and it was time for the best event of the day. The Men’s 4 race is really entertaining, with people of all different abilities out on the course. With 80 riders there is no doubt that there will be some entertaining moments. The looks on some of the rider’s faces are of pure terror, while others are smiling and having a great time. We had a couple of XXX’rs in the Top 10, which was great to see.

After the 4’s race it was clean up time. With a bunch of helpful people we were able to get everything torn down quickly. After a few minutes discussing the day’s events, I loaded up the car and was home by 5:30. The day really was one speed, and that was “Go, Go, Go”. My race was also done in one speed, and I know there is a ton of room for improvement. Not sure of my plans for this next weekend. I may do the Fall Color Festival race at Kettle Moraine or head to the Wisconsin Cross Race that has a strange TT format and two events on the Saturday schedule.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

STAR-CROSSED cyclocross 2006

Busy Days Ahead and Races in the Ville

As excited as I am for the first cross race of the year, I am just as excited for the first cross race to be over. Planning the Jackson Park race can be a stressful situation, but I know once I start seeing racers show up on Sunday it will all be worth it. It is great to have events so close to home, and if dealing with a little extra stress means me not having to drive to Wisconsin every weekend, it is definitely worth it. Before of this can happen, I have to fly down to Louisville, KY for my cousins wedding. I fly out on Friday evening, attend the wedding and fly back on Saturday evening. The flight is short, less than an hour, so things shouldn't be too stressful. I then get home, load up the Mazda, and get ready for the early wake up call on Sunday. Then is is course setup, make sure registration is running smoothly, and a few minutes to get ready for my race at 12:30.

Yesterday I signed up for the USGP races in Louisville. The races take place the last weekend in October. I am really excited about getting the chance to race in front of friends and family. Everytime I try to explain cyclocross racing to my family they give me this really strange look, which I guess is pretty understandable. I am a little dissapointed to see that my race is a Cat 2/3 event. As an average Cat 3 racer, there is a big jump between my ability and that of a Cat. 2 racer. It will still be a ton of fun, and most likely a major beat down. The other great part about the USGP events will be getting the chance to see the Pros race. I will be there with cowbell in hand with the rest of the cross fanatics.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Life's Too Short

This shouldn't happen ever, and it shouldn't happen to the same team twice in one year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fall is in the Air!!

I went out for a run at lunch today. The weather was crisp and the skies blue. Really a perfect day in my mind. Fall is just around the corner. I headed over to a park in Lisle where I ran cross country races during high school. It brought back some painful memories, as I always suffered on this course, but I felt really good today tackling the hill in the middle of the park several times. Cyclocross season is just 10 days away!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bad things Happen in threes???

Well if the saying holds true I will be in a cast this time next week. After Kelly's broken wrist, Bernie must have been feeling ignored, and decided he wanted a cast for himself. This weekend Bernie was limping and bleeding on his left paw. We stopped the bleeding and he seemed to be walking better. Yesterday afternoon he was really limping and when I attempted to look at his paw he snapped at me. This in not normal for the loving Bernie so we knew something was wrong. It turns out that Bernie tore a nail very high on his paw and it led to an infection. He is now on doggie painkillers and antibiotics, along with the wrap he has to wear on his leg. Just like Kelly he can't get it wet, but is able to hop around on it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kelly Go Boom!!

Saturday was not a good day for Kelly. We had just finished handing a new light fixture in our bedroom (this was a first for me, and went really smoothly). As we were trying to figure out where to point the lights, Kelly stood up on a chair to make an adjustment, and the chair went out from under her. The next thing I remember was Kelly on the ground and her wrist pointing in two different directions. Needless to say it was broken. After a visit to the emergency room, Kelly was placed in a temporary cast. We were thinking surgery, but after a trip to a orthopedic specialist, a large needle with novicane, and some painful adjustments, and a cast up to her entire arm, surgery will hopefully be avoided. She has to go back next week for more X rays to determine if the bones are setting correctly before they can make a final decision about surgery.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nice Job!!

My good friend Mike just finished his first Ironman distance triathlon at Ironman UK. He put in a very respectable time. I can't wait to hear a full report, but he must have gotten a 2nd or 3rd wind for the 2nd half of the marathon. check it out.

Nice job, Mike!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Knocking the Cobwebs Out

Today was my first cyclocross specific workout of the year. I headed over to my local practice course to work on my cross skills. It seems each year I start out the season a little more comfortable than last. I felt really good on mounts/dismounts and much more comfortable on high speed corners. The first race of the Chicago Cross Cup Series is on September 23rd, so time is a ticking. Oh yeah, I am the head promoter, and already have some ideas running through my head for an awesome course at Jackson Park. I have one section that we will be calling the Spiral of Pain if we can get it to work out. I also been told that the Park District is installing a curb along the access drive that we normally cross twice, so I need to get out to Jackson Park and check it out. Hopefully it won't affect things too much. I probably shouldn't worry, since it is cross, and it might just be one more obstacle to deal with during the race.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Rock N Roll Lifestyle-Day 1

This weekend was the annual Lollapalooza weekend for Kelly and I. This is our 3rd year attending the event in Chicago. The weekend started early for Kelly as she headed down to the festival at 11:00 on Friday. She wanted to check out The Fratellis who were playing an early set. Kelly gave them mixed reviews, but she did mention they were having technical difficulties. I got down later in the afternoon in time to hear The Rapture. This is our 4th time seeing them, and they always put on an awesome show. This year our friends Mike and Becky joined us for the festivities, and got to experience the freak show that is Lollapalooza. Mike mentioned that he was amazed there was this many hippies still left in the world. They made it down in time to hear Satelite Party, which is the new band of Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrel. The guy really is nuts, and it is amazing someone his age still has so much energy. Satellite Party was better than expected and played some Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros. The highlight of the weekend was the last two acts of the evening. It started off with LCD Soundsystem, and was followed up by Daft Punk. LCD as usual put on an amazing show. Mike wasn't that familiar with LCD before the show, but was an instant fan afterwards.

The night ended with Daft Punk. I wasn't sure what to expect from them, but a massive pyramid with two robots inside sealed the deal for me. Here is a link to the Daft Punk Set.

Monday, July 30, 2007

24 Hours of 9 mile = sore

This weekend I was in Wausau, WI for the 24 Hour National Mountain Bike Championships. I was supposed to be competing on a four man team, but a last minute injury required us to race as a 3 man squad. This meant a couple additional hours of riding for me, and the rest of the team. Unlike last year the weather was perfect, and we were ready to roll. Adam Clark got the festivities going with a blazing first lap, and had us in a good placing to start the day. I was next to go, and my first lap would be my first lap on the course. A good portions was the same as last year, but with a couple of additional singletrack sections that made for some sweet riding, I was a little hesitant in some of the tech sections. A couple of the sections were really bumpy, and as the day wore on took a toll on everyones back and wrists. I took one fall on the first lap on a blind corner, banged my hip pretty hard, but was back up and riding fairly quickly. Right after falling, I was passed by this guy. He was flying and went on the a really impressive finish. After my lap I handed off to Adrian Redd and we were on our way to our first time through the rotation. Next time through we decided to double up and go out for two laps each of the 14 mile loop. This was seriously tough, but I think it worked for the best, as it gave us some extra rest inbetween race efforts. By my night laps I was definitely fresher than last year, probably due to the additional rest. Kelly was asking me, "what you do between laps?". I told her that you pretty much sit around, eat, stay hydrated, and relax. With the team format it is really hard to sleep, as the time between laps doesn't allow for much more than keeping the tank full. The night laps ended up being a ton of fun. Night riding is all about focusing on the perfect line, and the rocks that scared you during the day, disappear into the darkness. It is really an amazing experience. My last lap ended up finishing at 5:30 in the morning. At this point our team was worn out. Missing the fourth rider finally hit us. We took a couple hours off, and Adam went out for a final lap. Our placing wasn't great this year, but we rode hard, and along with the two other XXX Racing-AthletiCo teams, we represented the best that we could, and had fun doing it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Day 6

Today was the day we got in over our heads in the back country. The day started off nice enough with a Blueberry waffle, and some coffee. Our plan was to take the gondola to the mid mountain and start our hike. From the mid mountain we were to hike to 12,700' to the Wassatch Connection trail that went off the backside of the ski resort down to a valey, eventually leading back into town. On the way up we ran into 3 guys coming back down the trail. We mentioned we were heading to the Wassatch Connection, and they voiced concern about their being snow on some of the sections. We told them we thought we would be okay, and continued on. As we jumped onto the trail we ran into a few small snow crossings, that had pretty good footholes and weren't too scary.

As we continued on we ran into a snow crossing that was fairly steep with no footholes. We looked at the crossing, thought we could make, and started the crossing. I got about 3 steps and realized I had minimal traction, and sat down to figure out a plan. By this time Kelly had made here way out on the snow. I told her to try and head back off the snow. About this time I lost my footing, started sliding on my back, flipped over on my stomach, heading towards a large area of rocks. Right before I hit the rocks, I flipped over on my back again slid another 20 feet, and eventually slid off the snow onto some super loose rocks. After checking to make sure all my parts were still attached to my body, I looked at Kelly and told her not to move. At this point she was going nowhere, as she had her nails dug into the snow. After trying to figure out a plan, Kelly finally lost her grip and slid about 15-20 feet. Luckily she was in much more control, and didn't slide as far as myself. The slide also put her in a position to make it to the edge of the snow and onto the rock. At this point she had to make here way down another 20-25 feet on the really loose rock to an area where the snow was narrow, and she could make it to the side of the trail where I was. A half hour later she was able to cross to my side and our near death experience was almost over. We stil had to make it back to the trail, and the hike was barely starting, but we were off the snow. Looking back at the snow crossing, if I had slid another 10 feet, the snow passage opened into a 100 yard wide snow field. I would have slid 300 yards, instead of the 25 yards that I did. We were both really beat up after the event, with a ton of cuts and scratches.

That night, Kelly and I didn't sleep at all. The both of us kept playing the situation over and over in our heads, and how we could have been smarter, along with how it could have been much worse.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tour de France sans Armstrong = Awesome!!

After watching the Stage 8 yesterday I realized how much better the Tour is without the Armstrong led meat grinder setting the pace. The current peloton is still trying to figure out what to do without a dominant figure. Riders are scared, or unwilling to show their cards, and this allows unpredictable attacks to gain serious time in the mountains. At this point I have no idea who will win the race. There are 10+ guys that all think they have a shot to win, and in reality they probably all do have a legitimate argument that they will be the one standing on the top step of the podium in Paris. If yesterday’s stage is a sign of things to come, the next two weeks of the Tour should be amazing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day 5

After getting settled in Telluride we decided to hike from Town Park to the top of Bridal Veil Falls. The hike started off fairly easy following the San Juan River, but As we got to the main trail the trail kicked up into a really steep road. The structure at the top of the falls was constructed to allow electric power to be produced by the falls. We found out later that the building was recently purchased and renovated into a summer home for a family. Even though the building is privately owned, it still produces electric power. I wasn't sure if I could get used to living right onthe edge of a shear cliff, but Kelly was pretty sure that the views were worth a little anxiety.

Day 4

Day 4 started bright and early, as we had a long drive from the Grand Canyon to Mesa Verde National Park. The drive was mostly through open plains and really straight roads. At one point I saw a police car coming towards us and I thought they were going to pull Kelly over for speeding, but it was actually just a lead car for a super wide load (shown below).

After making our way to Mesa Verde National Park we signed up for the "Extreme" guided tour of the cliff dwellings. These days the only way to get into the actual dwellings is in a guided tour. It was really amazing to think that the dwellings were built 800-900 years ago, and the Park Service has only done minor renovations to good portions of them.

Above is a photo of our guide, John. He was a really nice guy, lives here during the summers, and is a science teacher the rest of the year in Alaska. He also drove a 1972 VW Beatle and is the original owner.
After Mesa Verde we made our way to Telluride, which was about a 2 hour drive. On the way I saw a bear runnig down the side of a mountain towards a river. We turned around to get a better look, but unfortunatley the bear was nowhere to be found.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Day 3

We were now at the Grand Canyon and ready to check out the big hole in the ground. We were planning to do a good hike that day, and see how far we could make it down into the canyon, but with new boots, and blisters, we ended up limiting the hike to 3 miles down, followed by 3 miles back up. The Grand Canyon really is amazing, and every turn provide a new view. At night each minute changes the colors of the canyon and makes for beautiful photos. The Amish ladies in the photo below started their hike at 4:30 in the morning. That is way too early for kelly and I.

That afternoon we chilled out; had a few beers, and ate some nachos.