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.