Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bad Taste in the Mouth

I have to start off by saying thanks to my wife Kelly. She has been great about me doing a ton of training and racing this year, especially this fall, with most weekends including a cross race. She has been really supportive and I couldn't do it without her.

After a couple years of mediocre performances at the State Championships I decided this year that I wouldn't focus so much on having a great performance at this one race, rather focus on having a good end of the year, over several weeks of racing. During November I had several excellent results for me, including 3-podium placings, as well as securing a top Series placing. After this weekends performance I am really glad I decided to reevaluate my approach to the season, as once again I had another mediocre performance at Montrose. This is not to say that the week leading up to the race I wasn't imagining pulling on the State Championship jersey, but I was in just a slightly different state of mind come race day.

The Race
Course was a great layout with plenty of technical sections, great portions along the beach, and a tough climb on cricket hill. So the race starts and there is a ton of bumping heading into the first 180 degree turn. Brakes are squealing, metal is grinding, frames are breaking (seriously!!) people are crashing. As the bottleneck started I was off the bike and running. Back on the bike, and I find myself in about 7th place. Not great, but OK. The first lap was really crazy with lots of bumping, especially in some of the deep snow sections and run-ups. As the lap progressed Dave Norton, Tim Yuska and a VQ rider had a slight gap on the chase group. I was sitting on teammate Brian Parkers wheel as we exited the sand, and on the next offcamber section Brian washes out and I take up the chase. On the next section while riding on top of the concrete retaining wall near the beach, heading to the next downhill offcamber section, there was a bump at the transition. To make it over only a slight lifting of the wheel was needed. I had no problems with this in warmups, but I guess at race pace, and pushing the pace to close the gap to the leaders I misjudged the bump, and the next thing I know I am over the bars, and my right knee is throbbing and in some serious pain. The pain that kicks in, leads to that nauseous feeling in the gut. I got up and tried to walk it off, but it was no go. I sat down for a couple of minutes trying to recover, but thought my race was over. Walking back towards the start/finish teammate Jeff Holland walked up, asked me how I felt and encouraged me to get back on the bike and give it a go. I took his advice, and after a few minutes on the bike the pain was subsiding, and I was feeling OK. Thanks to Jeff's encouragement I was able to finish up the race, and is really appreciated. At this point I was in last place, and was just going to try and catch as many riders as possible, so it ended up being somewhat of a fun ride. In the end I rolled in for 22nd.

After the race I was really happy to hear the Brian Parker was able to move his way through the field and roll in for a well earned silver medal. That was a really great performance, wish I could have been riding with him to see it.

So the season is over, and I am sad that I won't be racing cross for another 9 months , but definitely ready for a break from the week in and week out process of packing up and heading to races. I will also miss all the fun of hanging with friends, heckling other racers, and eating brats. Only 9 month until Jackson Park!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Won...

...a bike at the Woodstock Cyclocross Race!! A sweet 26" Roadmaster full suspension mountain bike!! I will admit the bike doesn't meet the needs of my bike snobbery, but I am happy to know that the purchase of the raffle tickets went to the Leukemia Society, and teammate Mike Seguin will be donating the bike to the toy drive put together at his fire house. Oh yeah, and I finished 2nd in the race which was my best result ever in a cross race, and was oh so painfully close to a win.

The Course
The course was in a beautiful park with tons of rolling terrain, and was definitely the longest course of the year. Jason Meshberg and his crew put together a course that had some great ups and downs, offcamber sections, and some leg burning climbs. This was all on top of a course that was really bumpy, and portions of the course had me holding on for dear life, praying that my hands didn't slip off the bars.

The Race
Race started off fast. Jeff Wat of Vitamin Water-Trek went out fast stringing out the group as we headed to the fast wooded downhill. Up the climb and a separation was already made of 7 or 8 riders. Jason Knauff of Vitamin Water-Trek was now putting on the pressure at the front opening a slight gap. As the lap progressed I moved up into 2nd position behind Jason, with Scott Arrigoni moving up to third. Over the next couple of laps a second separation occurred. This time whittling the group down to 4. Devon Haskell came out of nowhere to join our group. Based on the photos I saw she really closed ground to make her way up to our group. I have to say she is looking really strong heading into Nationals. Over the next lap or so we cruised along in our small group, increasing our lead over the chasers. At some point we lost Devon, and the group was down to 3 heading into the last 3 laps. I was yo yoing a bit at this time, but dug deep to catch Jason and Scott on the first climb of the lap. As we headed into the wooded downhill Scott was able to scoot around a lapped rider, with Jason picking the wrong side for the pass. Jason had to slow and I was able to take the inside line, but not before Scott had a slight gap. This proved to be the decisive moment in the race, as Jason appeared to be the strongest rider in the group, and I was sure he would come back to me, eventually leadng me back up to Scott. Unfortunately what I didn't know was that Jason had a flat and would not be coming up to save the day. So for the next 2.5 laps I tried to chase down Scott. His gap was really never more than 20 yards, but I just couldn't close it. I would get closer on the straightaways, and he would open it up in the technical sections. I knew I had to catch Scott before the section that traversed the sled hill, but never made contact, eventually rolling in for a hard earned 2nd place.

Once again I have to give props to my coach Brian Conant. He has taken me from a midpack Cat. 3 to a rider competing for wins. So if you are looking for a coach to help you with any cycling discipline he is a great option and can be reached at bconant at msn dot com

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Paine de Provence

I think most people are either bakers or cooks. Baking being a much more regimented process, but still providing enough room for creativity to keep things interesting. Personally, I was born with the baking gene that I am pretty sure was passed down from my dad. We always baked growing up, and lately I have been getting back into trying different recipes. I have been making a lot of banana bread, but finally got into some bread recipes that require fermentation and yeast. I had no idea how time consuming the process of baking bread was, as it is really a two day process with lots of time required for kneading and rising. Anyway I tried this recipe last week. I was really surprised at how well it turned out. I used herbs de provence along with fennel seeds to flavor the bread.

The week that I baked this bread we had a pork tenderloin for dinner. At Kelly's recommendation, I shredded the leftover pork, mixed it with a spicy barbecue sauce. I then put it on the bread with some white cheddar and sweet and spicy pickles, followed by a few minutes in the oven to toast the sandwich. It was really gooood!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Yin and Yang of Cross

This weekend was a double race weekend for me. Saturday's race took place in Whitewater, WI, with Sunday being a close to home race in Lansing, IL.
One of the great things about bike racing is that the field of play changes for every event, and this could be no more apparent than this weekend. The Whitewater course was a slow moving roller coaster with a couple of really tough climbs, steep run-ups, twisting downhills and off camber sections. It even had a sandpit (beach) with the best line being through the water. This gave the opportunity for a Steve Tilford moment. Luckily it didn't happen to me, but it made for a cool course element. The Lansing event was part of the Chicago Cross Cup last year, and is a pancake flat park with one tough sandpit. They did a great job of improving the course from last year, but it will always be a crit on grass.

On top of the course being hilly, it was a really short loop, probably in the 3-4 minute range. This meant the hills would play an even bigger part in the race. I think we ended up doing 11 or 12 laps. Top 10 got call-ups with me falling in behind in the 2nd row. Start whistle and a couple of guys immediately crash. I get around the mayhem and find myself sitting about 10th wheel. Up the first climb, and I am able to move up to 6th. The next couple of laps are spent trying to get up to the group of 2nd-5th. After a lap or two I bridge up to the 4th place rider and was able to gap him. Over the next couple of laps I set my sights on catching the 2nd and 3rd place riders. As I was getting close to the two riders, the 2nd place rider put in a big attack, getting a nice gap, and I was never able to get near him again. So for a couple of laps I battled it out with the the rider in 3rd. I was finally able to gap him on the first climb. After the first couple of laps, this climb became a run-up for me. It was super steep, and with a 1x10 drivetrain with a 42 tooth chainring, it was much faster for me to run.

Pushing the Pace on the run-up

So for several laps I was by myself trying to set a good pace, when I noticed another rider coming from behind. He was getting close, but with two laps to go I thought I had enough to hold him off.
Up the Climb
Unfortunately, on the last time through the offcamber chicanes I went down. Just enough for the rider to close the gap. I never let him get in front of me, and led him through the sand for the last time. Up the final climb we start our sprint, he tries to come around on the left, but I hold him off with a bike throw, finishing up in 3rd place. This was probably the slowest average speed I have ever done in a cross race, but at the same time some of the toughest racing I have ever done. With the course being so short the climbs kept coming at you in such short intervals that there was hardly anytime to recover.

Lansing was sure to be high speed from the gun and it didn't disappoint. Whistle blows and I find myself sitting about 8th place. As the lap progressed gaps were opening, and I put in a hard effort to move up, now sitting about 5th. First time through the sand and I ride it cleanly, moving up to 2nd place. For the next several laps I sit on the wheel of Jason Knauff of Burnham Racing. Since he has already won a couple of races I figured it was his reward to set the pace while I wheelsucked.

Through the sand with Jason and Scott, Parker in close pursuit

As the race progressed the group eventually whittled down to 3 riders; myself, Jason, and Scott Arrigoni of Verdigris. We had a good gap, with the most treacherous part of the race having to deal with lapped traffic. It was really difficult to ride fast, and safe, while trying to pass riders with all the turns and obstacles. Luckily lap traffic never played into the outcome of the race. With 4-5 laps to go, Jason went down in the sand and Scott and I were able to get a gap. Scott was setting a nice pace, but Jason was able to bridge back up to us after a couple of laps, and was obviously the strongest of the trio.

Following Scott through the Chicane

Coming into the bell lap I was sitting 3rd wheel, and had a couple of gaps open dealing with lap traffic. I was able to close these down, and we all came to the last barrier and sandtrap together. Jason put in an awesome run through the sand and opened up a nice gap, holding it to the finish. I also decided to run the last time, after I had a bit of trouble getting clipped in after he barrier. Even if I did try to ride it I don't think I could have made it though, as I was beat by that point, and running seemed like the safer option. I think Scott ran too, getting a bit of a gap on me. I tried to close it down, but there wasn't enough real estate, as I rolled in for another 3rd place.

This was definitely my best weekend of racing on two completely different types courses. Hopefully this is a good sign going into the last two races of the season. Can't wait!!
Photos courtesy of



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Step by Step

We finally had some cross weather here in Chicago, with a couple of days of rain followed by cold temps on race day. The drastic change in conditions was a real shock to the system, and had me digging into my bag to pull out the Craft winter gloves.

To start off I have to say that the guys/gals of Northbrook Cycling and Flatlandia put together an awesome course with tons of great offcamber sections, fast pavement, and two leg burning stair runups. I didn't get there in time to ride the course before the start of the 30+ event, but cruised aoround checking out as many of the technical sections as possible. After a bit more warmup and the end of the 30+ race I jumped on the course for a lap before my race. The two trickiest sections were both found after the two runups. Both were offcamber; one with tight 180 degree turns, and the other being a fast hold on for dear life downhill. On my warmup lap I went down pretty hard on the downhill offcamber section, flipping a couple of times before coming too a stop. Not exactly what I wanted to do before my race, and definitely didn't help my pre-race confidence. I did quickly come to the conclusion that the reason I went down was because I was on the brakes way too much trying to control my speed, and I really needed to feather the brakes, or just let it roll and worry about scrubbing speed at the bottom. During the race I rode the section everytime with no more falls. Unfortunately, the other offcamber section after the first run-up proved to be my downfall during the race.

Photo taken after my tumble on the downhill. I was hoping no one saw me.

So, after the call-ups and talk by the official, we were off. Not a great start, as I struggled to get clipped in. I found myself about 8th place going into the first tight sections, and was sitting on teammate Mike Seguin's wheel as we made our way to the first time up the stairs. I made the decision to run the first itme through the chicanes, hopefully avoiding going down or being taken down by somene else. It ended up being a good decision as one of the riders in front went down, and I was able to scoot through on the inside. The rest of the lap I worked with Mike to catch the couple of riders in front of us. Mike did a great job of getting me to within contact of the group of 3-6, which contained teammate Brian Parker.

Parker on my heels sporting the neon Guy of the Month Jersey

As the race went on I moved up to 3rd place, and was getting closer to Nevada Dave in 2nd place. This was short lived as Scott Arrigoni of Verdigris bridged up to our group. He was riding really strong, and went past us in short order never to be seen again.

Next time through the offcamber chicanes we were getting into lapped traffic, and was making this section even tougher to negotiate. I was forced to take a bad line to get around a rider and went down coming out of the turn. This unfortunately gave David Thomas of Team Magnus a chance to gap us. With a lap and a half to go, Brian and I were in chase mode. Unfortunately it really wsan't a course where trading pulls was helpful. With all the turns it seemed that we were better off setting our own pace. Last time through the chicanes and I am sitting in 5th place. I had another poor choice in lines, and went down, this time dropping my chain. After what seemed like an eternity, I got the chain back on the bike and was off. During this time Tim Yuska of Get a Grip was able to sneak by. I really tried to bury myself the last lap to catch him. Through the last tight section of chicanes I was getting close, and the next thing I know he is off the bike with a mechanical. Not the way I wanted to catch him, but I guess that is part of cross racing. In the end I roll in for 6th place, just out of the money, and just outside the Cat. 2 upgrade points.

I am definitely getting frustrated with my mid race performance the last several weeks. I have really been losing focus and in turn losing places in the middle of the race. I know this is a mental thing, and I won't be able to put together a really good race if I don't correct it. This weekend I am heading north of the cheddar curtain for the Whitewater race on Saturday as well as the Lansing race on Sunday. Since I am not really competing for an overall series placing in the Wisconsin series I want to go into the race with the attitude to go as hard as possible from the gun and hopefully make it to the finish line in one piece.

Photo Credits:



Never Drown Out

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cinnamon Challenge

After a year I have finally obtained a copy of my brush with death. The challenge only had one requirement: eat a tablespoon of cinnamon. Needless to say it didn't work out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween 2008

Kelly and I went as Hall and Oates for Halloween. We were supposed to be Hall and Oates Vampires, but the vampire teeth we bought had us looking like Hillbillies and not Vampires.

This guy had the best cotume EVER!!! He ended up winning te costume contest, by a landslide. The first time we spotted him was from above while we were in the balcony area. He was walking around the dancefloor aimlessly with the perfect Weekend at Bernies 2 walk. Kelly had to get a phot with him, as Weekend at Bernies is one of here favorite movies, and the reason that our dog is named Bernie.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nada Surf - "Whose Authority"

I really feel these guys are an underrated band, making some of the best power pop you can find these days. The simplicity of the messenger going about his daily routine makes for a nice video.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fun and Frustration

Due to my unemployed status Kelly and I were able to take off for Louisville on Thursday evening. This meant plenty of time to see the grandparents and other family as part of the weekend festivities. I knew things were going too well, when we got to Indiana with minimal Chicago traffic, and were making nice pace to Kentucky. Unfortunately, a deer decided to play chicken with our car, and slowed our pace. The car won and the deer is probably jerky by now. About an hour outside of Chicago, as it was just getting dark, a deer darted out into the middle of I-65. We were going 65+ mph, and had no time to react. The deer went flying and our front end got jacked up pretty bad. After the impact a pick-up truck made a U turn heading back towards the deer. We figured he was going to pick up the fresh kill. After assessing the damage, and determining the car was drivable, we moved on. Kelly and were both freaked out, but figured that the chances of hitting two deer in the same trip, must be similar odds to winning the lottery.

Kelly, Bernie and the Deerkiller

Friday morning we got to spend some quality time with my grandparents, along with me eating a ton of french toast. Tee rest of the day was spent thrift shopping, along with searching for Halloween costumes (Kelly and I are going as Hall and Oates Vampires) , and having a great dinner at Seviche with my Aunt Paula and grandmother. For much of the day it rained so I was mentally preparing myself for some real cross weather on Saturday.

DAY 1-Category 2/3 Race

After a good nights sleep, I woke to partly sunny and cool conditions. We loaded up the deerkiller and made out was to Champions Park for the festivities. After checking out the course I found really nice course conditions, not the muddy mess I was hoping for and expecting. The muddy sections were nice and tacky, and the only iffy sections were the transitions from mud to asphalt. The course was similar to last years, with a couple of sections run in reverse. The longest and deepest sandpit was much more doable this year, since it was run in reverse, eliminating the steep drop into the pit, instead requiring power to get up over the ridge exiting the sandpit.
The course started out on a long drag of pavement. After a 90 degree left turn, the course tightened down and headed into some tight offcamber sections, followed by some other twisty sections heading into the barriers. The barriers were right by the exhibition area, and meant there would be plenty of spectators waiting for some carnage. The course had a ton of turns, and you really had to stay on your game. Missing the correct line coming into a turn could mean several slow turns in a row and definite loss of momentum.
Through the Sandpit

Exiting the Sandpit

Leading a Chase Group

After the first lap I settled into a good pace. Riders I was working with came and went, and had no idea what place I was in. With about a lap and a half to go I heard I was in18th place. I was a bit surprised that I was this far up, but kept on the pressure. The group containing 13-18 was about 50 yards ahead and it seemed that I was gaining on the group. At the same time there was a group of 5 or 6 guys right behind me gaining on me. All I could do was ride as hard as possible and hopefully catch the group in front, and not lose my placing to the riders behind. Unfortunately , right before the last time up the green monster I was swamped on all sides by the chase group, and couldn't respond. I rolled up to the finish line alone in 25th place out of the 71 racers that started. I was a bit disappointed, at what might have been, but that's racing. My goal coming into the race was a top 30 placing, and would have been really excited with with a Top 20. It is easy for me to say now when my heart isn't about to jump out of my chest, but a top 15 was a real possibility if I had followed a couple of wheels midrace, instead of riding my own pace. Again, I have no one to blame but myself, and I can't be too disappointed competing against a lot of Category 2 racers who normally enter the elite race in whatever local series they compete in around the country.

Finishing Solo

After the race we stuck around to watch the women and men pro races. Trebon killed it, but now without Anthony putting up a fight. It was also great to see so many riders from Illinois and Wisconsin racing at the elite level. Everyone, including Ben did us proud. That night we went to this place for dinner. We ate some really good pizza, and had a couple of tasty Belgium brews to finish off a great day.


Course was very similar to Saturday's layout, with only a few variations. Conditions were also faster, with hardly any slick sections left. I didn't get as great of a start as Saturday, and got knocked around or was caught behind wrecks for the first lap. I had lots of near misses with other riders. One time through the barriers two guys went down right next to me. Not sure what happened, but I got knocked in the leg by a wheel, but was able to stay upright. The other two were not so lucky. So after the first lap I was somewhere in the high 30's. The rest of the race was spent chasing down riders, mostly in a solo fashion with very little group riding. I ended up making my way up to 29th by the finish (out of 70 racers). Not a great day, but still much better than my results from last year. Comparing my results to last year I am happy. Both days last year I finished in the 40's. I have definitely improved, and still feel like there is another level of improvement to be found. I also have to thank Kelly and my Aunt for cheering for me on both days. Hearing my name while deep in the paincave is always a good thing.

Trying to Follow Ted Ramos early in the Race

Chasing Hard

Up the Railroad Ties

Monday, October 13, 2008

Movin' on Up

I would like to start off by thanking Lou of the Pony Shop for getting my rear wheel back in service so quickly after the DeKalb Cyclocross race. What was feeling like a potential great race for me at DeKalb turned sour after I rolled my rear tire and took a tumble. Lou got it reglued and delivered it to me at the race on Sunday. Now that is real personal serivce.

Fast forward one week to Hawthorne Woods Psychocross race. I had been hearing all week about a gigantic sled hill that was to be utilized twice per lap, and was nervous as we rolled up to the venue. Run-ups have never been my forte for whatever reason, and was worried that this might be kryptonite keeping me away from a good result. The sled hill did not disappoint, and not only was it used twice per lap, but the sections were back to back. We would ride up the hill, 180 at the top to a downhill, 180 and over a barrier into either a run-up or ride up (In the 3's I would say 95% of the riders ran up the hill) into another 180 followed by a screaming fast downhill followed by a righthand offcamber bumpy turn. The rest of the course was straightforward with lots of power sections (grass and asphalt) and one small section of mud that made for some fun, as well as decisive moments.

Being Top 10 in the series I received a front row call up for the race. The start was about a 100 yards of asphalt followed by an offcamber righthand turn straight into the climb. There was no relaxation at this start, I would maxing out the heartrate right from the gun. I was in good position as the climb started, sitting about 5th wheel. After exiting the sledhill we had already formed a small gap to the rest of the field. As the lap progressed, I latched onto teammate Stiggity's wheel, as he dragged me up to the start/finish line. I could tell this wasn't his day, and made a move to catch the 3 lead riders. (Looking back at this first lap I realize I need to be more agressive. I can't always count on others to make the move and for me to tag along. I should have put in a harder effort early to be with the 3 lead riders instead of being in chase mode the entire race). As the next couple of laps went by one of the 3 leaders dropped off the pace. As I caught him we began to work together, sharing the work evenly. He was riding a singlespeed, so I was definitely faster on the flats, but he was a strong climber and runner, and was setting the pace in those sections. We were never able to close the gap to the leaders, but at the same time it seemed that the gap never really increased that much either. (This is why I am frustrated about how I started the race. I can ride with these guys, but need to be with them from the start, lesson learned)

As the race progressed I tried a couple of times to lose Mr. Singlespeed. I was able to open up gaps on the flats, but he would close them on the run-up and downhill. I was definitely tenative on the downhill, due to an issue that started on the 2nd lap. The 2nd time exiting the sledhill my rear brake started going soft. Not sure exactly what happened, but I think I was pulling cable or the pads were moving, and I lost about 80% of the stopping power. The rest of the race I would have to rely heavily on my front brake, unfortunately about 3/4 through the race my front brake started going soft. So now all I had were two brakes with minimal stopping power. The turns and the downhills were touch and go, but I was able to get to the finish in one piece. Heading into the last two laps we were still together, trying to hold off a hard charging Tim Yuska of Team Get a Grip, as well catching lapped traffic. As we got to the muddy section there was a female rider in between me and Mr. Singlespeed. The female rider went down in the mud, making me put a foot down and almost bringing me to a standstill. Luckily I was able to get her to not move by yelling "Don't Move" and went right in between her and her bike. If she had grabbed for her bike, who knows what would have happened. I dug deep to close the gap to Mr. Singlespeed, but on the last time up the run-up I popped and he was able to get a nice gap on the downhill. I tried in vain to close the gap, but ended up rolling in 4th. This was by far my best result in a 3's race, so my next goal is to be on the podium. I had it in me this race, but cross is not always kind and until it actually happens I will be pushing hard.

After the race, Stiggity and I devoured burgers at Culvers, and got to watch the Bears implode in the last 20 seconds of the game.

That night Kelly and I went out to dinner with our friends Brian and Sarah at The Bristol, followed by seeing the Fleetfoxes show at the Metro. OK show, the band talked way too much between songs. The Bristol was really good with a great beer menu. I had a Belgium 40 of La Chouffe with dinner. Mmmm Good!!

We still haven't had any cross weather in Chicago. The 3's missed out on the rain last week at DeKalb, so hopefully Carpentersville can bring some fun conditions. If not, at least they will have a beer tent.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Beck - Beercan

Beck tonite at the Aragon. Always a good time!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

TV On The Radio | Wolf Like Me

I had to break out the big guns to get through my 5th interval today. This song just gets me going. I was foaming at the mouth just like a wolf by the end.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Burritos, Beer, Badgers, and Barriers

This weeknd was the inagugural Madcross Presents Jonathan Page's Planet Bike Cup (Wow, that is a long name for a race) event held in Sun Prairie, WI, just outside Madtown. I rolled up north of the cheddar curtain with Mr. and Mrs. Popper, along with Amanda of Half Acre. After a crazy detour on I-90 we finally arrived at the hotel


Saturday's race started way back on August 10th when I was up early on Sunday morning to pre-register. Start position was to be determined by order of registration, and being first to register meant a front row starting position and in return hopefully plenty of open dirt for the start of the race. Prior to the race I got a couple of practice laps in and found a course that was really technical and hilly. There were some nasty switchback sections, a couple of uphill grinders, and several offcamber turns. After the longest pre-race talk by the officials we were finally off. The start line was on the midget car race track and allowed about 200 yards of dirt before hitting the main section of the course. Got a pretty good start and was sitting about tenth wheel through the first set of up/down turns. I settled in and was able to pass a couple of overly ambitious riders to around 7th through the barriers. Over the barriers and was now sitting on the wheel of a Vanilla Bicycles rider riding a sweet singlespeed Speedvagen. No time to sit and admire the work of Sacha, and as he started to fade I made a move up to sixth, and eventually fifth. I was now in no mans land. Mike Hemme and Aspen Gory were about 30 yards ahead and I wasn't closing the gap. After a couple of laps I was joined by the eventual 3rd place finisher. Sitting on his wheel we began to reel in Hemme and Gory. At some point I bobbled a remount and he was gone. Next to bridge up to me was Aris Peters, a strong junior racer who I battled with the week before at Jackson Park. We were working nicely together and looked to be battling it out for 5th and 6th with a couple of laps to go. That's when things that seem easy with your heartrate at 120 become really difficult with my heartrate at 180. Around a 180 degree turn from grass to asphalt I went a bit wide hitting a stake and going down on the asphalt. I was up quick, but my bike was covered in yellow caution tape. I had to make a quick decision; stop and pull off all the tape, or start riding and pull off as much as possible and hope the remaining tape doesn't get jammed in my cassette or brakes. I went for option 2. For the next lap I tried to ride hard while pulling off sections of tape. During this process I was caught by a couple more riders. Frustrating, but I needed to remain calm, sit on these guys wheels and recoup. Heading into the last lap I was in about 11th place. The last time through the downhill switchbacks everyone was pushing it and trying to hold their position. A couple of guys went down, I was able to get around the outside, put in a hard effort trying to hold off the guys that went down. I had an 8th place finish in my sight, but up the last uphill grinder, I was caught by two riders and rolled in for 10th. They literally passed me like I was standing still. Frustrating, but still in the money. This was my best finish at a cross race in Wisco, and was really happy with the result. A top 5 was a possibility, but a Top 10 didn't have me disappointed.

After the race we enjoyed burritos as big as your head then headed to the post race festivities. What more could you ask for than High Life on tap, live Country Western tunes, a fire pit, and fireworks.

Day 2

Course was pretty similar to the day before. The promoters made some sections tighter, others faster. Instead of the downhill switchbacks, a gnarly 180 degree offcamber turn was thrown in. It was nasty, but definitely rideable. The barriers were also moved to the bottom of a hill to make a short runup. Overall the course was a bit faster than the day before. Today I had a 2nd row call-up. Gun goes off and found myself sitting Top 20. Not as good as Saturday, but still in the mix. Spent most of the race moving up to 9th place. Started to fade at about 30 minutes in, and was caught by a couple of Pegasus riders. After sitting on for a lap and seeing two laps to go, I put in an attack to hopefully drop the duo.

Photo Sheri Farrel

8th place was also in sight and he was fading. I really felt like I turned myself inside out trying to catch the 8th place rider, and it felt great. It is something that I am rarely am able to do at the end of a cross race, as I usually feel like I am fading, rather than getting stronger. The last time up the run-up, I got to within 10 yards of 8th, but a bobble on the 180 turn had me rolling in solo for 9th place. Today was really rewarding. I put in a hard effort to move up through the field, and was able to turn on the gas when needed. I feel like I owe a lot of this to my coach, Brian Conant. The intervals I've been doing the last couple of months are really paying off. After my races I got to sit back and watch the PROS race. With everyone there and no major mechanicals like the day before it was an awesome race. Page and Todd Wells battled it out to the end with JP coming out on top.

DeKalb is next, and I can't wait.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

JP-A long day on and off the saddle

Like last year the day started early with a group of hearty souls showing up at Jackson Park at 6 in the morning for the yearly event of devising a course that would test a riders lungs and bike handling skills. This year we had these sweet new stakes that made course setup a breeze. Anyone out there thinking about hosting a cross race these stakes are well worth the investment. As the first race of the day neared streams of riders enterd the parking lot. Excitement was in the air for the first cross race of the season, and it was great to see all the hard work was going to be worth it.

Photo: Jeff Kao

After watching the start of the Masters races it was time for me to get ready. By ready, I mean getting my skinsuit on and making sure the tires had the right air pressure. A real warmup was out of the question for me. I still wanted to make sure registration was running smoothly and answer as many questions as possible before my race. So after about a 5 minute warm up and almost missing the start of the 3's it was go time. I did play the sympathy card and was able to get a front row spot for the start. Thanks everyone!! Last year was about the same thing in terms of warmup, and attempting to ride with the leaders had me popped early and moving backwards throughout the race. This year I decided to have a more conservative start. Not what you normally want to do in a cross race, but in this situation I thought it was for the best. Heading into the first technical section I was probably around 18th out of the 36 riders. After the first chaotic sections of the course I was able to get into a groove, jumped on a train with Adam Clark (Cuttin Crew), Jeff Holland (XXX) a couple of other guys. We started moving up through the pack, and after a couple of laps I found myself riding by myself around 13th place. I was then joined by Tim Yuska of Get a Grip Offroad. I am not embarressed to admit that I wheelsucked him for awhile as we caught a couple of more riders.

As we came through with one lap to go we had one more rider in our sights, and we worked really hard trying to catch him. I knew we had to catch him before the last asphalt section, but it was not to be. Coming into the finish Tim was leading, I tried to jump around him on the left, but missed catching him by the difference between a semislick and a knobby cross tire (phrase stolen from Stiggity) In the end I rolled in tenth, with a really good possibility of that being 8th. Considering a week before Jackson Park I could barely walk, after jacking up my back I am really happy with with this result. I know with a better start I have a Top 5 in me. The legs are there and I can't wait for Madison UCI this weekend.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Foals // Balloons (Music Video)

My Favorite band of Late. The Foals have such a unique sound ranging from brit rock to jazz and electronica.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Get Your Cross Cup T-Shirt!!

Get your limited edition Chicago Cross Cup T-shirt, designed by Jesse Lalonde. Check out the design here: http://www.chicrosscup.com/XcupT.pdf

T-shirt will be screen printed on a Light Blue American Apparel T-shirt. Both mens and womens fits are available. If you would like to preorder, please shoot me an email at greg@xxxracing.org. T-shirts are $15, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to World Bicycle Relief.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sometime you gamble....

...and sometimes you throw snake eyes. Unfortunately this is what happened with my most recent job. As of about 4 weeks ago I am unemployed and looking for a job. I was hoping I could ride out the bad times, but it was not to be. So for the 5 readers of my blog if you know anyone involved in any of the following fields please let me know:

Land Development
Development Consulting
Urban Planning
Land Planning
Urban Design
Landscape Architecture

I have setup a secondary blog with portions of my design and planning portfolio for anyone interested in checking it out.



Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lobster is Delicious

Just go my new ride put together. Still needs a couple of tweaks, but should get my first ride in tomorrow. The Curtlo has been sent to its new home in the mountains of Vermont. It was a great ride, and will be missed. Here are the specs

Frame: Custom Rock Lobster Aluminum powdercoated Chicago Porch Grey aka Joe Doyle Grey
Fork: Alpha Q CX20
Shifters: Sram Rival
Brakeset: TRP Eurox with Koolstop pads
RD: Sram Rival
Cassette: Sram Rival (12-26)
Headset: Chris King
Stem: Alpha Q Aluminum
Bar: Ritchey BioMax
Seatpost: Race Face Cadence
Seat: Fizik Gobi
Crankset: Sram S900 Crankset w Spot 42t chainring and BBG Chainring guard and N Gear Jump Stop
Pedals: Crank Brothers Egg Beaters Clincher
Wheelset: DT Swiss 240 hubs and R1.1 rims w/ Michelin Jets
Tubular Wheelset (shown): Chris King Hubs and Niobium Rims w/ FMB SSC tubies

I think that is everything. Don't know the exact weight, but I can tell you it sure ain't heavy. Can't wait to get it dirty!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lollapalooza Phlog

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grimes Mill

The last couple of weeks I have been in the Lexington, KY area for work. For those of you who don't know I went to school at the University of Kentucky and spent 6 years in Lexington. Yes, 6 years.!! To my defense my degree was a 5 year program. Anyway, while at UK I was on the cycling team and fell in love with the roads surrounding Lexington. Roads consisted of beautiful rolling terrain that connected and weaved between the horse farms. On the south side of Lexington the roads near the Kentucky River provided the option of riding some tough climbs a couple of miles in length. My plan had been to rent a road bike, but unfortunately I couldn't find a shop with rentals. SO today, I had some time to spare and decided to drive out and check out one of my favorite roads. The road is called Grimes Mill http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2124878 and is a beautifully narrow and tough stretch of asphalt. The road is only about 4.5 miles in length, but has everything a cyclist wants in a route.

Grimes Mills starts off as flat section of road, lined with dry laid stone fences, and beautiful farms.

After crossing McCalls Mill (another great road) the pavement dives down towards Boone Creek. The road is winding, and a the bottom is one of the steepest sections of pavement I have ever ridden.

Once at the bottom, you are in a steep walled valley, formed by Boone Creek. This portion of the route is very dark, and cool due to the minimum sunlight. After crossing the creek on a very old bridge, you approach the climbing section of the road.
The climb starts as you make a right turn on a super steep switchback. The climbs is stair stepper type about 1.5 miles in length. The first section of the climb is very steep, followed by less steep drag leading into a downhill. The downhill then goes directly into a steep kicker climb. I remember always blowing up on this section. I always wanted to ride the entire climb with some of the good climbers on my team, and this section would always do me in. After the steep section the climbs drags on for another half mile.
At the top the road is rolling with a fast downhill section that opens onto a beautiful clearing. At this point Grimes Mill roller coaster is almost over. On a normal training ride back in the day this would just be the start; Grimes Mill intersects with another road, Athens Boonesboro, that hase some tough climbs and connects to even more beautiful riding options. Man, do I miss these roads!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sir Yes Sir!!

So I haven't had a coach since I was senior in high school running cross country and track. My entire cycling career has been self coached, taking what I knew from running and tryijng to translate it to cycling. This was all done with mediocre results at best. Fast forward 15 years to June 2008, and I finally decided to have a real training plan set up for the remainder of the season. To help with the coaching I have enlisted Brian Conant, a top local cross racer, and a very energetic guy and cross race promoter. He has coached several local racers to some great results, including a collegiate national title.

My reasoning for enlisting Brian was that the last couple of years I really felt like I had no real way of telling if my training was helping. Yeah, I could look at my power #'s and see changes, but the minuitia in the training was something I didn't have the time or desire to understand. For instance, this week I was scheduled to do LT intervals. After the workout I sent the info to Brian, and he quickly pointed out that my wattage was all over the place, and not consistent. This casued my last two intervals to be lower in power than it should have been. This is something I never would have picked up on my own, but on Sunday the same workout was done at a much more consistent pace, and I was able to complete the workout within the correct power ranges, getting the full benefit of the ride

Another benefit is that with all the traveling I have been doing the last month it has been great to have a coach to help set up my training around my schedule. It makes it much easier to stay in shape when I don't have to worry about coming up with workouts, but just doing the work on the bike. So over the next several months I will be providing updates on my training and hopefully the improvements in my performance.

Monday, June 30, 2008

On the Road Again...

I've been travelling a lot for work that last month. travel really beats you down, but it pays the bills.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Pack Finish + 2-primes won Viatcheslav Ekimov Style = $20 (thanks Chicagobikeracing.com), a Mission Bay Water Bottle, and a CO2 Inflator

Monday, June 9, 2008

Music in the Mix

I have to thank Joe Doyle for turning my on to WOXY.com. My company recently moved offices and for the time being I am able to stream music at work. WOXY plays are really nice mix of old and new alt rock. Stuff I've had been listening to recently:

-The Black Keys "I got Mine" and "Psychotic Girl" (These guys are unbelievable)
-Foals "Olympic Airways"
-MGMT "Electric Feel" and "Time to Pretend"
-The Ting Tings "That's not my Name"
-White Rabbits "The Plot" (after seeing these guys open up for Spoon I was an instant fan)
-Yeasayers "Sunrise" (don't know much about the band, but the song is catchy)
-M83 (whole album is pretty amzing. It's like they took every 80's teen movie and every 80's new wave hit, put it in a blender, and this was the result)
-South "Wasted" (such and underrated band)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Morning Jacket

I cant wait for the new album. Kelly and I have our tickets to seem them in October. They are definitely one of the best live acts performing today. I wonder if Jim James and the crew ran across the video below when writing this song.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Important Things in Life

Kelly and I once again ventured down I-65 to Louisville over the weekend. I can't even fathom how many times I have done this drive over my life, but this was by far the most expensive, with $4.00 gas, even in the middle of Indiana. Our main reason for the trip was to see my family, on both my Mom and Dad's sides. If was great to see family and spend some quality time with the grandparents. On top of catching up with family, the weather was beautiful, and allowed us to get to a couple of the Louisville parks for some outdoor fun. For those of you who have never been to Louisville, they have one of the better city park systems in the country. The original park system was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Sr. and provides a ton of opportunities for outdoor fun. http://www.olmstedparks.org/our_parks/

Saturday we went to Iroquois Park, which is in walking distance of my Aunt Paula's house. We walked to the top of the overlook. At the top I split off to go for a run on the trails. It was great running in the woods on some hilly terrain.

On Sunday we headed over to Cherokee Park. Kelly and Paula took the pooch for a hike, while I went for a ride. This park is in the middle of popular residential area, and has miles and miles of singletrack. On top of the dirt trails, there is a main hilly loop road that has one lane dedicated to running and riding. It is really a beautful park, and the vibe I got would be if you took the Palos trails and placed it right on the Chicago lakefront. I rode for a couple of hours on some really nice and pretty challenging singletrack.

On top of the park system, the City is in the process of constructing a 100 mile loop bike path around the City. They are really working on becoming a bike friendly city. http://www.louisvilleky.gov/BikeLouisville/bikefriendly.htm On a quick trip to downton Louisville we saw lots of people on bikes and stopped by the Yojimbos-esque bike shop, The Bike Depot., with lots of fixies and urban hipsters hanging around.

As for food we checked out a couple of local joints.

On Satruday morning we went to Wild Eggs for breakfast The food was very good, probably some of the best breakfast food I have ever tasted.

That evening we went to Maido. Maido is a Japanese small plate/sushi bar. The food was excellent with fresh fish. My favorite cooked plate was the ginger pork. On top of the food they had an awesome beer menu with Piraat, La Chouffe, and Bells. Belgium beer and asian food is surprisingly a good combo.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Four Seconds of Fame

Thanks to the Bonebell Crew for all the support at Treadfest. All the encouragement kept me going throughout the race. Good times were had by all!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

On the Backroads of Life...

...and off the information super highway. Well sort of, we did have TV on our trip, but no email or internet. Pretty nice for a couple of weeks. Hawaii (Maui and Kauai) are amazing places with so much natural beauty. I could try to describe it, but hopefully our photos will do it more justice.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Feels Like the First Time

This Sunday marked the 1st singletrack riding I have done in 6 months, as well as the 1st mountain bike race of the year. At first glance you would think this combination would be disastrous. My thinking was that this was mostly likely the case for everyone due to our bad winter and wet spring, and we would be in the same boat. The race, the Do the Rock” mountain bike race was held at the beautiful Rock Cut State Park in Rockford, IL. This race is the local kick-off to the race season, and is a fairly low key race, but attracts some fast racers wanting to test their form before the upcoming big races.

On Friday I got a call from Jason Meshberg of Flatlandina, wanting to know if I was interested in sharing a ride. Since he lives down the road in Lyons, it made perfect sense. I met him at his house around 7:30, we loaded up his car, stopped for some coffee and were on the highway heading west. On the way to the park we saw a caravan of Triple Xr’s on a mission for the first racing and dirt riding of the year. This event was an awesome turn out for the dirtbags, and hopefully a sign of things to come.

I really had no expectations for this race, I was happy just to get out on the dirt on a beautiful day, but as the race start got closer I could feel the butterflies creeping in. There were 90+ riders lined up for the 2 lap sport race that came out to 20 or so miles. We were all to start at the same time, which was going to make for an interesting first few miles. At the start I had teammates Francois, Keith, Alex, and Josh. Hopefully I am not forgetting anyone. We were all lining up towards the rear of the pack, hoping to avoid some of the early carnage, but as the gun went off, race mode kicked in and I was off, weaving through the field trying to make up some spots. Why I didn’t line up towards the front I don’t know. I need to be more aggressive in mountain bike races. I still have this mentality that as soon as the singletrack starts I will just be getting in everyone’s way.

The course started out with a ¼ mile asphalt section the quickly narrowed into a doubletrack section. Reports from the one lap racers were that the course had some big mud holes to negotiate. They were littered along the entire course; some short, and some long that required dismounts and a good bit of running. For the most part the course was in really good shape with a mix of fast doubletrack, tight singletrack and some good climbs.

By the end of the asphalt I was able to move up to mid pack, as we headed onto the dirt. Through the double track I picked off a few more riders before heading into the first section of singletrack. At this point it was a game of follow the leader. I did get a aggressive at one point before a log crossing. I dismounted and used my cross skills to run over the logs, passing several riders with the effort. Next up were the worst sections of mud. These were deep bogs that were trying to rip your shoes off while running. With the running I have been doing this winter I felt pretty strong on my feet as I maxed out the heart rate in the effort. The rest of the lap I found myself riding with a Get a Grip rider. We worked well together catching up to, and passing several riders. The one good thing about starting at the back is there is always another carrot in front of you to chase down. On the last hilly section of lap one I passed three or four additional riders. Everyone seemed to be really suffering, while I was feeling really good on the climb. As lap one finished up, I did a quick water bottle change and was off. Last year I really struggled on the 2nd lap, and was nervous that same back and leg pains would start to creep in. After each mile passed by and there was no major pain I was feeling more confident. Through the 2nd lap I was able to catch 4 or 5 riders, feeling smooth (for me) on the singletrack, and riding aggressively on the climbs. I was running a rigid fork, so I lost a bit of speed on the down hills, however I really feel like I made up for it with efficiency on the climbs and added control on the tight sections.

As I rolled into the finishing shoot I was greeted by Mr. Meshberg, who told I finished about 45 seconds behind him, probably in the Top 10. I couldn’t believe that was the case. I knew I had passed a good share of riders, but I didn’t think that many. Well, Jason was right. I finished 9th overall, and 2nd in my age group. Not a bad result for a poor starting position, and no miles on the dirt this year until the race. For my efforts I walked away with an engraved pint glass, which will get put to good use drinking one of the many tasty Goose Island brews.

My post race assessment was that I actually “raced”. In the past couple of years mountain bike races consisted of me hanging on for dear life, while not trying to take out other riders out, and hopefully finishing the event. The singletrack at Rock Cut isn’t the most technical, but compared to last years race I felt much more comfortable on the technical sections, and raced aggressive at points during the event. Also, if I had started at the front of the pack, maybe I would have been competing for a Top 5 position, who knows.

Also, big props to Paolo, Stiggity and the others that did the 3 lap race. Too much for me to handle this early in the year, but they did a great job, and will be stronger because of their efforts. And thanks to the promoters; the line for registration was long, but the race was run really well, and the door prizes were also a nice touch (I now have enough Gel for the season).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fairweather Commuter

I will be the first to admit that I am a fairweather commuter. I would love to have the opportunity to ride everyday, but the 20+ mile commute, and not wanting to ride with lights, risking my life, I limit my bike commuting to mid Spring to mid fall. Today, I finally started turning the pedals to get to work. My commute in the morning is a simple route. I mostly follow the Burlington Northern train line, crossing back and forth to my final destination in Lisle. Most of the roads are lightly traveled, and allows me to get to work sans coffee.

In the evenings I try to do a longer ride, but my problem has always been finding a good route from Lisle to some of the nicer roads south of I-55. Last year one promising route was Clarendon Hills Road, unfortunately it was under construction and made for some tight riding in traffic. Today I found that as part of the construction they added a sweet 4' wide bike lane, with new, smooth asphalt. Needless to say I was super pumped. I can now ride south on Clarendon Hills Road to some of the nicer roads south of I-55. Today I rode Clarendon Hills all the way to 91st Street. From there I have a couple of choices for routes, today I decided to jump on the Waterfall Glen Trail for a couple of miles. The trails is a crushed limetone base and winds around Argonne National laboratory. On my cross/cummuter bike I ride these tires. The Select Invert is really are a great tire for this type of situatation. The tires roll nice on the roads, and the width is perfect for the crushed limestone. It was also really great getting out in the woods, hearing the frogs in the ponds, and carving some fast turns. From there I could jump back on some other roads on my way back to Berwyn. The ride ended up being right around two hours. A good ride for sure.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Good Weekend

These are the weekends that make it worth suffering through the long cold Chicago winters. This weekend was beautiful with temps in the mid 60’s and plenty of sunshine. Enough sunshine to give me my first funky knee warmer tan of the year.

Friday night Kelly and I went to the Vic to see the White Rabbits, The Walkmen and Spoon (more to follow on this show). Saturday Kelly and I went for a ride though LaGrange and Western Springs. There were tons of people out doing yard work, running, and biking, and the smell of barbecue was in the air. Kelly’s wrist felt good on the bike, which is a good sign. She was worried that it might bother her while riding down the volcano in Hawaii.

Sunday I was joined by Soupy and Paolo for a ride from my house. The plan was to ride to the Prairie Path, cruise out to the Fox River Trail in South Elgin, looping back through Wheaton, finally returning back to Berwyn. The ride ended up being a bit longer than anticipated, but with plenty of sunshine, none of us were really complaining. Total trip, close to 80 miles, consisting of roads, dirt trails, and crushed limestone trails. Paolo completed the loop on his Gary Fisher Ferrous, with some serious meaty tires. He is one tough hombre.

That night I tried my hand at homemade pizza dough and sauce. I topped the pizza with some fresh basil and cheese. It turned out pretty good, and was followed by some homemade chocolate chip ice cream. Needless to say after 5.5 hours of riding I was really hungry!!


Monday, March 31, 2008

Spoon - The Underdog

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Saul Williams - List of Demands

If you were like me last week, I was watching a ton of basketball, and got to see a ton of Nike commercials. One of the commercials had this really intersting song as the soundtrack. My initial guess was a new Gnarls Barkley or TV on the Radio song. Whenever I hear a song in a commerical that I don't know I end up at adtunes.com. In most cases someone has already posted the answer to the forum, and a simple search is all that is required to find the answer. Well, I was wrong with my guesses. The song is actually by a guy named Saul Williams. He is a poet from NYC. From what I have read it seems that Trent Reznor of NIN is responsible for the awesome beats.

Ready For The Floor

Q: What do you get when you mix the geek factor of Devo and the dance sensibilities of Beck?

A: Hot Chip

Can't wait to see them in a couple of weeks.

Kelly and I are also going to see Spoon next week. We have never had a chance to see Spoon in Chicago. It always seemed like we were out of town or had other commitments, not this time!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Back in the Saddle

After a trip to Park City to ski that was ruined by the flu, and a long recovery (still coughing a bunch) I am back in the saddle. I hope to finally get in some consistent training over the next several weeks. It finally looks like the weather is changing (knock on wood) and with the time change outdoor rides in the evening are an option.

Think Spring!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Architecture of a Ride

I have never been a person to remember routes by road names, my brain doesn't function that way. I have always been able to find my way from point "A" to Point "B" and back by visual and climate queues, whether those be natural or man made. Man made can be a building, change in road conditions, changes in fence styles, or one of many other things. Natural queues might be a change in topography, vegetation, or micro climates on a section of roads. there was this section of road outside of Lexington, KY that dove steeply into a valley, and followed a creek before climbing out the other side. The air was always moist, and the temps cooler. In Chicago, the architectural features of a ride definitely dominate a route. These photos were taken last week when out riding one of my normal loops.

This is an old church rectory that was turned into a single family home in Riverside. Kelly and I always say this our dream home. It is quite amazing with the stained glass wall along the southern end of the structure.

The old water tower in Riverside. I make a sharp right heading towards Brookfield at this intersection.

Roundabout in Brookfield. Not a lot of these in the States, but they do work pretty nicely.

This a pretty interesting home in LaGrange Park. I am a big fan of mid century modern architecture. The Chicago area doesn't have a lot of it, but this definitely has the aesthetic of that time.. Not sure how old the home actually is.

Super sized McMansions in Burr Ridge. I have said for awhile, thank god for rich people in Chicago with their low density communities, otherwise there would be no decent roads for riding.

This house has been in transition over the last year. The owners completely gutted it, and have done a really nice job with the restoration. The owners must be big fans of Napoleon Dynamite, since they put a tetherball game in the front yard.

I have always thought this was an interesting home in LaGrange. I really like the color palette and the weathered look. The owners have also done a nice job with the landscaping.

This is the Metra stop in Brookfield, and the place to get off the train when going to Brookfield Zoo. It always reminds me of the Flintstones.

Frank Lloyd Wright home in Riverside. As of last year, the owner was an older women who couldn't afford the upkeep of the house, which led to the roof being in really bad shape. Because of the construction techniques utilized by Wright, a new roof was estimated at over $100,000.

Rehabbed building on Harlem Avenue. The units are now being sold as condos. The owner of the building did a really nice job with the rehab.

Finally, back to our Chicago bungalow in Berwyn. Always a welcomed site after a long ride.