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:

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 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.