15 December 2009

CX Nationals 2009 in Bend

Although Bend is kind of a pain to get to, it turned out to be a great trip. Got to see some old friends in Portland and Bend. KCCX was a well-oiled machine thanks to Bill, Tom & Dean.

Saturday I rode the Masters 40-44 race. I had a front row starting position, so I would have no excuses if I didn't get a good start. I rode okay, I was running 7-9th most of the race. With a little more punch and I could have ridden up to probably 5th. On the last lap, the officials let way too many lapped riders continue and I ended up getting taken down and slipped back to 11th at the finish. Without the interference I am pretty sure I would have finished 9th. I just realized this morning that if I had finished 9th I'd have a guaranteed front row next year, arrgh! C'est la vie.

Started, but didn't finish the Elite race. I rode a few laps and got taken down multiple times. I banged up my hand pretty good and could not hold the bar and brake too well. I was really unimpressed with the quality of riding in the bottom half of the field. I don't recall it being so bad in 2007 or 2008.

So I think that pretty much wraps up my cyclocross season for this year. A big thanks to KCCX and all the sponsors: Scott USA, Maxxis, Challenge, Verge, SRAM, Outlaw Earth, Serfas, TRP, Easton. Another big thanks to Tom Price for wrenching this year, and to Dean Parker for helping out with the Nationals trip. And last, but not least, props to Bill Marshall for making everything happen.

04 December 2009

Jingle Cross

Last weekend was up in Iowa City for Jingle Cross. This year it was three races with a night race on Friday. I skipped the Friday race, but drove up with Luke so he could ride the 2/3 race.

Conditions were a little different than last year. The ground had more moisture and made for very sticky mud. There was a lot of equipment damage this weekend, luckily I avoided all that. We didn't get any fresh snow or rain so the course stayed sticky throughout the weekend. Rode the Maxxis Mud Wrestlers all weekend and they handled the conditions well.

Friday and Sunday had a new downhill that has not been used in years past. Also, Sunday didn't have the decent down the run-up section, the officials deemed it too unsafe.

I rode okay: Saturday I was 20th in the elite, Sunday I won the Masters 35+. All in all about what expected given the state of my fitness right now. The team did pretty well, Tom Price won all three 45+ races and Alex was 1st, 3rd, and 4th in the Cat 2/3 races. The Sunday 2/3 race was awesome to watch as Andrew Coe, Alex, Troy Krause and others battled it out lap after lap.

This week Boss Cross #4 and MO CX Championships in Hermann.

16 November 2009

St. Mary's in the Mud

Great day for cyclocross! It was raining for most of the night and morning before the race, setting the stage for slippery and muddy conditions. It was probably about 40 degrees for the 1pm start. The race preceding ours, combined with the continuing rain, tore up the grass and churned up the mud for the Open race.

We rode up the bricks for the start with Shadd and Brian leading on to the grass, while I sat in third. The first grassy section was a left then a right on a slight uphill to the pit. Right away Shadd started to pull away so I moved by Brian after the second turn at the wheel pit. The next section was cool with a slow-speed, muddy, slippery, left-then-right turn combination. This was followed by a gradual fast-but-straight downhill section. I was within a few seconds of Shadd here and it looked like a gap was developing behind me.

After the downhill there was a tricky high-speed right-hander. I had tested this turn during the pre-ride and it could be ridden without brakes if you got the line right. This turn was followed by a slimy mild uphill and a few sharp 180+ degree turns. The next section was defined by downhill right-hand turn followed by a sweeping left. This was tricky, but again could be ridden without brakes and pretty fast if the line was right.

Following this was a tricky little muddy kick-up and then a tractionless short gradual uphill section. This ended up being my trouble spot for the day. I bobbled the kick-up half the time and just couldn't get much traction on the following uphill. Probably needed to run a couple PSI lower in the rear tire.

As for tires, I ran the Maxxis Mudwrestlers, which were great. I was railing the corners fast and smooth. I ran 30/35 and this seemed to work for the most part. Only my lack of confidence and skill kept me from finding the limit of their capabilities.

By the time Shadd and I hit the run up on the first lap it looked like we had a big gap, 30+ seconds. We were both more than a little surprised at how big it was so quick. The rest of the course was fairly straightforward, with the exception of the thicker muddy section along the pond on the low side of the course. I rode the left tape every time and didn't have any major problems getting through each lap.

Shadd had more horsepower than me today and was able to pull away from me, but the technical portions of the course allowed me to keep him close. I would yo-yo, from right on his wheel to 5-10 seconds back, throughout the race. Late in the last lap, Shadd fell and I came back up to his wheel and passed him briefly. But, I had no intention of taking advantage of his fall after he had led most of the race and had the stronger legs. So, Shadd took the win and I was second. Brian managed to move up through the field to take 3rd and Scott Dunsmuir got 4th (not 12th?!).

Thanks to everyone who made this race happen, especially whoever cleaned up the men's shower room afterwards. I am pretty sure we didn't "leave it in the condition we found it" like the sign directed.

The end of a full week of bike-related activities: Thursday - KCCX/VERGE Fundraiser, Saturday AM - 3hr MTB Ride; Saturday PM - KC Sprints; Sunday - Cyclocross.

12 November 2009

Tweaking the KC Cross Rankings

I have been working on developing a new algorithm for calculating the KC Cross Rankings. I am doing this because:

1. Crossresults's points are generated at the end of the week (rather than Mon or Tue)
2. Crossresults.com is more susceptible to errors than a local system will be
3. I have some different ideas about how to calculate the points

I need your help. On this site you'll see the output of a couple different algorithms I am working on. I'd appreciate any comments you could offer about which ranking list better reflects reality. I am sure there will be different opinions, but I'd like to see some opinions from people who race in the categories I am less familiar with.

Please leave your comments on this post.

The URL: http://sites.google.com/site/kcrankingsdev/home

10 November 2009

Weekend Off

This weekend I opted to not race and hit the trails on the Scott Genius 20 instead. The weather was outstanding for some low-key hours out at Landahl. Many others had the same idea as there was a ton of cars in the parking lot. Strangely, I didn't see too many people out on the trail. The trails were in great shape, but there was a healthy covering leaves. In a few places the leaves were pretty slick.

Saturday I ran into Chris Johnson and a friend of his, and we tooled around for a couple of hours.

On Sunday I did some adventuring. I looked for and found the "ISH" trail. There really isn't much trail at this point, but it looks like it could be cool when its finished. I'm probably not much of a freerider, but it would be still be fun to have another trail to hit. On a related note, apparently folks have approval to start building a freeride trail at SMP too.

I also found a good hill climb that could be added to a race course sometime. It is an old jeep trail that pretty much heads right up the northwest bluff from the Truman access road all the way up to Family Trail (just east of where the new connector trail joins the existing trail). While it might not be a favored trail for all-the-time-use (because of erosion issues), it would definitely be a good addition for race days.

I also eyeballed how The Boulevard could be brought back into play with a climb up to Family Trail. I didn't spend to much time looking at the details, but I think it could be done from the fence up to the top of the bluff with a few switchbacks. I guess it would probably connect up with the technical offshoot of Family Trail.

I'd also like to cut in a CX course up in the fields by the Argo trailhead. It would be nice to have a practice course that wouldn't require competing with other park users or getting flak for tearing up the grass. I don't see why we couldn't have a semi-permanent course setup for MTB short track racing and CX practice/racing.

03 November 2009

KC Cross Rankings Update

These are up-to-date through the Smithville race. Crossresults.com updates on Fridays, so we are always a week behind.

If you see anything wrong with your points (I saw some problems), go to crossresults.com and see if you can figure out what's going on (e.g. another rider with the same name and results mixing). If you are not sure, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Many of us have now done 10 races and so your points total reflects only this season's performance.

02 November 2009

Boss Cross #3 & Sunflower Cross

Saturday was the Boss Cross race at Platte Ridge Park. I didn't do this race last year, but did in 2007. Although not as brutal as in 2007, this is still definitely the most physically-challenging local course. Although selective, this course is not very "cyclocross-like." When I say "cyclocross-like" I suppose I mean like the typical course in the major european cross races--World Cup, Trofee GvA, etc. A traditional cyclocross course is about a several "features" separated by so-called transitions. The Platte Ridge Park course doesn't really have any transitions, its just hard pedaling most the way around. I am not being critical, just looking at the course objectively.

Shad Schreiner dominated the day riding away from everyone else. Things splintered almost immediately. By the second lap, I was sitting 4th about 30 seconds behind Shad, with Brian Jensen and Chris Wallace spaced out evenly in between. On the second or third lap I managed to catch Chris, who was having an off day and ultimately retired from the race. After this the gaps just stretched out: Shad pulled away from Jensen, Jensen pulled away from me, and I pulled away from Andrew Coe. This is how it ended, not too exciting.

On Sunday, Sunflower Cross was at Clinton lake on essentially the same course as Chris Cross from the last two years. It was a small field, basically the same as Saturday with the addition of Shadd Smith and the loss of Andrew Coe. Shadd Smith took the early lead while Brian and Shad took up the chase. I was able to to sit on their wheels for awhile but then my strength basically evaporated and I faded away. Just about everyone else had quit and there wasn't really anyone to catch me from behind. I minimized my suffering by backing off a little and just riding in for 4th. Around this time it looked like Shad was dropping Brian and the outcome was set.

No so! What looked to be the final order: Shadd, Shad, Brian, got a major shake up in the final couple of laps. Basically, everyone came together and shuffled multiple times under the pressure of aggressive racing. Ultimately, Brian came out on top with Shadd in 2nd and Shad in 3rd. I'm bummed I wasn't there to participate in what looks to have been an exciting finale.

I wasn't really able to get in the mix this weekend. I just didn't seem to have any gas. I'm not really sure why, I am trying to figure out what the body is doing or what I am doing to the body! I think when you are young the body is quite resilient and rebounds from stress pretty easily. Now being older, it may be that I have to be a little more thoughtful about how much intensity I can take and still recover adequately to race well on the weekends. Or maybe I just had an off weekend, who knows.

I rode Sunday's race on Bill's Easton EC90s and Challenge Grifo tubulars. This is actually the first race I have ridden on tubulars. I was very interested to see if riding tubulars lived up to the hype. Honestly, while I could tell the difference, I don't think clinchers are a huge disadvantage (sacrilege, I know). I ran lower pressure with the Grifos, 28f and 30r, which is a little lower than I can ride with clinchers: 30f and 35r. Ideally, I could have ridden the same course with the two different setups. My primary impression was the suppleness of the tubular--it seems to conform to the ground better than the clincher does. As a result I think it does a little better job of taking the bumps out of the course. From a cornering perspective, I didn't notice a big difference, but this could just be because I didn't run the clinchers on the same course. I actually think I could have run a little more pressure, there was a couple of instances where the front tire grabbed hard when I put too much weight on it. This, however, was probably more of a technique fault on my part than a shortcoming of the tire. In the end, I'll say I am looking forward to riding the rest of the season on tubulars, but if you are on clinchers and can't justify the expense of tubulars, don't worry about it. You can ride well enough on clinchers, at least if you are on the right ones, hint, hint (Maxxis)!

So, we are about halfway through the season, or at least halfway to Nationals. Last year, November was a bad month for me. I was not disciplined enough and didn't put the time in on the trainer. As a result, my October form faded pretty badly and I was probably at my worst in mid-December at Nationals. I did eventually recover a little by Masters Worlds in late January. Anyway, the lesson was learned and I will try to get some quality work in over the next 4-6 weeks.

According to kansascitycross.com, I am leading the DeStad Cyclocross Van Kansas Series right now. As of Saturday, I am also leading the Boss Cross Series. Wow, what a difference from last year! It would be cool to win one or both of these, but anything can happen. Shadd is second in the De Stad series, so KCCX/Verge should be able to win the series unless a major catastrophe strikes. The Boss Cross series is a closer question, I have to hold off Brian Jensen, no easy task. I'll do my best!

27 October 2009

Who needs to upgrade?

Here's a hot topic!

I did some number crunching with the crossresults.com points list.

Here's some basics:

For the Open Men:
Mean: 338
3rd Quartile: 388

For the B Men (combined Cat 3 & Cat 3/4)
Mean: 438
1st Quartile: 408
3rd Quartile: 466

For the Cat 4 Men
Mean: 530
1st Quartile: 474

What does it all mean? I would suggest that any Cat 3 with lower than 388 points should seriously consider moving up. It would appear you could ride mid-pack in the Open class. Similarly, if you are Cat 4 with fewer than 466 points, it could be your time.

This would essentially shift 10-15 guys from the 3s to the Open race and shift 25-30 guys from the 4s to the 3s. This shift would change the fields sizes to: Open: 30-35, Cat 3: 40-45, Cat 4: 25-30. Seems reasonable.

Here's the full rankings: http://sites.google.com/site/kccrossrankings/home

Kansas City Cyclocross Rankings

For the last couple of weeks I've been working to extract data from www.crossresults.com to create a local area ranking system. The hope is that promoters will start to rely on the rankings for call-ups during local races.

I also plan to incorporate St. Louis' results from the Bubba Series. Hopefully this will stoke the flames of some cross-state rivalries.

Check it out: http://sites.google.com/site/kccrossrankings/home

There are some issues with crossresults.com points, so if you think your points are all wrong take a look at crossresults.com and look to see if you are sharing points with another racer with the same name. The guys running crossresults.com are pretty responsive , so if you see an issue let them know and they'll probably fix it pretty quick.


I've been talking to a bunch of people recently who did not know about this cool website: www.crossresults.com This project was started on the east coast and has been grown to other parts of the country. Go check it out and make sure your info is accurate. Also, if your races aren't getting uploaded, take the bull by the horns and start uploading them---its EASY!

26 October 2009

Smithville Cyclocross Festival

This was the first race that wasn't a dry course, but we just missed the rain by a few hours or we would have had a completely soggy affair. Too bad!

Most of the local KCCX crew was off in Louisville kicking a$$, so for this race it was only me and new team member Shadd Smith. Our main competition was Shad Schreiner and Andrew Coe. I started in the second row so I was figuring on having to do some early work to move through the field. With the curvy chicanes at the start and the beach section about halfway into the lap, I was hoping I wouldn't fall back from the leaders too far. I think I was sitting 6th-8th coming off the pavement, right behind Cameron on his fixie(!). Shadd & Shad led off the start and got a small gap. Meanwhile, I started to move up through the field and was towing Andrew Coe with me. I think on the second lap I had moved up to the point where only Shadd & Shad were in front of me and I had gapped Andrew a little bit. Shadd had moved a little in front of Shad, maybe 10-15 secs, and I was gradually reeling in Shad. I caught him on the 2nd or 3rd lap and then made a few digs on the uphills to try to gap him and move up to Shadd. My first effort on the grassy hill after the beach was not strong enough to dislodge him, but my second effort on the paved uphill got me a small gap to start to build on. Over the next lap I gradually closed in on Shadd, then in the turn after the paved hill he went down. I was a few seconds back and was able to see the whole thing. It was a pretty hard crash. I rode by and he was not able to get going right away because of equipment issues. I kept a steady pace to see what would happen next. I figured he'd be up, ride with Shad for a bit, and then launch an attack and come back up to the front. This didn't happen, he was with Shad for bit but then faded back. Talking afterwards, he said that the crash rang his bell pretty good and he couldn't really get going afterwards. Bummer. Over the last 5 or 6 laps I gradually stretched out the gap to Shad and was able to finish first. I didn't see Andrew after the first lap, as it turns out he had an even worse day than Shadd: pulled out of a pedal at the start, banging his knee; rolled a tubular; and flatted a clincher. Tough day!

I ran the new MAXXIS Mud Wrestler clinchers at standard pressures: F30/R35. I had good traction everywhere on the course and everything felt good. I had no issues with the tires folding over in the corners like I did with the Michelins. If you are riding clinchers, this is a good choice for the wetter and muddier courses. Run the Raze when its dry.

Definitely a fun course. The two primary features were a wet sandy beach section ending with a steep ride/run-up and a steep off-camber grassy hill ride/run-up. I rode both of these features pretty solidly throughout the race. I was able to ride the grassy hill every time, a couple of times pretty fast. I also managed to ride up-and-out of the beach each time except for the first and last laps.

The second defining characteristic of the course was the section immediately following the beach. It started with a soggy gradual uphill stretch followed by a series of 180 degree turns zig-zagging up a more gentle hillside. This section was a lung-burner.

'til next week!

19 October 2009

Sunday 18 Oct - Boulevard Cross - CX Race #9

Some days you have it, some you don't. Today was a don't. I was able to keep the pedals turning, but just didn't have any snap or lightness. On top of that I didn't seem to be handling the bike all that well. This picture sums up my race...dangling off the group, it is where I spent most of the day.

The Course:

It was a mix of elements, power sections broken up by off-camber and/or elevation changing corners. Basically the same course as last year. Everything was dry, except the keg, and the sun was out. A nice day!

The Race:

The start was a fast downwind, downhill paved section into a highspeed sweeping downhill left turn through the grass. I got a decent start sitting 4 or 5 back. Bill hit it hard on the start but things stayed together for most of the first lap. On the second lap a small group developed with Shadd, Chris, Joe and myself. Of course, there is no reason for Shadd to hit the front with this state of affairs, so it was Joe who rode at the front for a lap or two. Adam and Andrew Coe were dangling off the back of this group and they were able to join us when the pace eased briefly.

It was pretty clear that the best play was for Joe to ride away from this group. When he went, the elastic in the group stretched. And then snapped. Adam and I were dislodged. For the rest of the race, Joe pulled away from the group of Shadd, Andrew and Chris. I was yo-yoing 5-15 seconds behind them and Adam was a little farther back. Unfortunately, Chris went down on the last lap and couldn't contest for 2nd. Things shuffled at the end and Shadd was 2nd, Andrew 3rd, Me 4th and Chris 5th. Everyone at the front was riding strong and making a race of it, at least for 2nd.

I think we need some more teams in these races!

I've got a little break in the cyclocross action as I'll be doing the Berryman Epic next weekend. The rest of the team is headed for Louisville for the Derby Cup. Best of luck to all and hopefully we'll see Joe and Chris on the podium!

17 October 2009

Capital Cross - Topeka, Kansas

Back to Hummer Sports Park: thick, power-sapping zoysia and the double run-up on the Mound of Mercy.

The course was a little different then past years because of a cross country meet in the big field on the north end of the park. The result was fewer hi-speed straightaways and more thick grass.

The Open field was missing some of the usual suspects, but there was still a good turnout. KCCX was down a few soldiers as well. Chris W., Adam M., Tom P. and I carried the flag for the day. Chris and I got off the line well--1st and 2nd when we left the pavement. I started to let a gap develop so Chris could slip away but Bill Stolte wasn't fooled. He popped around me right away and kept Chris in check. After a couple of minutes I surged to keep everyone in chase mode. I think this might have split things up. Somewhere on the 2nd lap a small gap developed behind the lead 3 (Chris, Andrew Coe, and I) creating a long line of "achtervolgers" a few seconds back.

Chris and I started to stick it to Andrew by alternating attacks. He covered a couple and then went to the front, probably hoping to control things a little. I think I surged after the barriers on the third lap and finally got a gap to stick. I was out alone for a couple of laps while Chris sat on Andrew. I think the gap grew to 20-30 secs before Chris jumped Andrew and got a gap. I sat up and we joined forces with 3 laps to go. Sorry about that Andrew, but I'm sure you'll get to return the favor one day!

We motored the last laps and had a solid gap by the finish. We didn't contest the finish and I crossed first. Cool, more on tap (CX, and Boulevard too!) for tomorrow at Wyandotte County Park!

See ya there...

16 October 2009

Call Up Procedure Proposal

I have a proposal for how we do Call Ups for all local races. Comments are welcome.

Here it is:

Step 1: Maintain a list of all racers who have ridden in local races during the current season. This would need to be done for every category that has more than 8 riders on a regular basis. This is simple enough, just maintain a spreadsheet for each category and make sure it is updated weekly.

Step 2: Run the category lists through the Seed Racers function at crossresults.com

Step 3: Post the "Call Up List" for each category. Riders and officials use this list to call up the first one or two rows.

There is no reason why this couldn't be done and could probably be largely automated. I volunteer to help get this done if the promoters & officials sign on.

The obvious issue is that not all riders on the list will show up to a particular race. However, this can either be ignored---names are called until the first two rows are full, or the officials can cross names off the Call Up List during registration/roll call. This might add a few minutes to the start procedure, but it doesn't seem like it would be too much.

I also propose that we do some test runs on a limited basis.

Here's the "Call Up List" for the Open (P/1/2/3/4) field as of October 11:

1 Steve Tilford
2 Brian Jensen
3 Nathan Rice
4 Joseph Schmalz
5 Jonathan Schottler
6 Shadd Smith
7 William Stolte
8 Jeff Winkler
9 Cameron Chambers
10 Joshua Johnson
11 Chris Wallace
12 Shad Schreiner
13 Troy Krause
14 Nate Woodman
15 Andrew Coe
16 Thomas Price
17 Adam Mills
18 Jay Strothman
19 Mark Studnicki
20 Mark Nagy
21 Scott Dunsmuir
22 William Gault
23 Tim Kakouris
24 Tige Lamb
25 Devin Clark
26 Kevin Wilkins
27 Nicholas Coil
28 Bill Marshall
29 Aaron Elwell
30 Scott Ogilvie
31 Douglas Plumer
32 Alex Grman
33 Ethan Froese
34 Alex Edwards
35 Joseph Fox
36 Jeff Yielding
37 Casey Saunders
38 Michael Gaherty
39 Shea Bergman
40 John Giles
41 Britton Kusiak
42 Randall Crist
43 Benn Stover
44 Mark Smelser
45 Matt Gilhousen
46 Austin Elser
47 Luke Lininger
48 Mark Cole
49 Eric Struckhoff
50 Robert Cummings
51 Elliot Usher
52 Kenneth Harkin
53 Jason Ozenburger
54 Matt Bougher
55 Theodore Fleming


11 October 2009

KCCX sweep @ Chris 'Cross

Today was our first cool temps race of the year taking place at the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas. It was in the low 40's, cloudy and some moderate east winds for our 4th local race of the season. The Cowtown boys set up a challenging course, a little different from last year with a lot of sweeping corners and plenty of elevation change. The bumpiness of the turf at St. Mary's is always a factor, too.

It was a solid field with all the usual suspects, plus a couple friends from up north in Nebraska. This race featured primes on the first and second laps making sure we'd have a fast start. Not so good when you don't get clipped in quickly. I wasted a front row position by blowing the start and found myself sitting around 10th. At the front Joe and Shadd Smith had a gap on Chris and Tom Price, who in turn had a small gap on the main group.

I started to pick my way through the field along with Brian Jensen. By the start of the 2nd lap Brian and I were siting in 4th and 5th closing in on Chris and Shadd. Joe had kept the pressure on and was by himself out in front of Shadd & Chris. This group of four formed up along with Andrew Coe early in the 2nd lap. Somewhere later on that lap Shadd and Andrew faded back. On the 3rd or 4th lap Chris launched an attack and rode away to about 10 seconds. I sat on Brian for a lap or so and then pushed ahead on my own.

Over the next lap or so I closed in on Chris while Joe eased up at the front and the three of us grouped up. We rode out the last 3 laps together with Joe doing most of the pace setting. We cruised in comfortably together without any real pressure from behind. Its nice when a team can run a race like this, you better enjoy it while you can because it doesn't happen too often.

05 October 2009

Chris Cross course rumors...

My inside source says we'll be enjoying what might be a somewhat Euro/UCI-ish course next weekend. There are apparently a lot of longer straightaways and only a couple of discrete tight, technical sections. The brick road section that was broken into two separate parts last year will be in one monster section this year. I'm thinking its a good course for Brian Jensen!

In any case, its good to have a variety of courses, from the ultra-tight & technical Swope to perhaps a wide-open St. Mary's course. Looking forward to it!

Who's the Boss? Mr. Joe Schmalz is the cross boss!

Joe took back-to-back wins this weekend. He's on good form and hopefully can continue to build on it for the USGPs, Nationals and Worlds.

For my part, I was 2nd Saturday and 3rd on Sunday. Needless to say, for me it was a good weekend, hopefully one of many this season. I had good power and acceptable technique, with the exception of one turn on Sunday. I was a little surprised to find myself up with the heavy hitters of the local scene. I guess my form is coming around and I had fresher legs than normal having not doubled-up with the Masters race.

Both days the field was stacked and at times I was able to separate myself from a host of strong riders: Steve Tilford, Brian Jensen, Josh Johnson, Shadd Smith, Shad Schreiner, Cameron Chambers and others. While the overall weekend was positive, I still made a few errors and have some weaknesses to work on. My start on Sunday was poor, and it kept me out of the action until I could make my way to the front. I made some tactical errors on Sunday in addition to the obvious technical error of laying it down when I was riding in second position. Time to work on the acceleration for the starts and adopt a little more aggressive attitude.

I am happy with my current equipment setup: the Scott Addict CX is awesome and the Challenge Grifo XS Dry Conditions Clinchers rode really well. I think they'd be perfect if I could run a few lbs less pressure. I don't know if the clinchers can go any lower, if not, I may have to step up to the tubular version.

As a team, KCCX/Verge put in a solid showing both days. Chris put in a good ride on Sunday riding up front for the bulk of the race covering Steve and Josh while Joe rode away. Hopefully the team continues to ride strong and make for some competitive local races. On that note, thanks to Josh Johnson and Jon Schottler for heading west and making things even more interesting than usual.

Luke had a solid weekend and is making improvements from week-to-week. Both days he rode the junior race relatively easy for warm-up and to dial in the course and then did the 1/2/3 event. We're going to tweak his position a little and see if that doesn't help his power and handling.

That's all for now.

28 September 2009

We need more of this...

I'd like to see more of this in the local races.

Diamond Blackfan Cyclocross Challenge

This is the second year of this race which is held for a great cause: raise funds to fight Diamond Blackfan anemia. Tige Lamb's daughter has this disease and because it is so rare there are very little resources dedicated to curing/treating it.

Just like last year, this race was a "cooker" at 85 degrees. The odd thing was that the temps haven't really been that hot lately. Everyone complained about the heat, myself included. It was uncomfortable for sure, but I suppose it could always be worse!

As usual, I doubled-up with the Masters and Open races. Although this surely has a negative impact on my ride in the Open race, I think its important to get the work in with limited training time during the week. This is even more necessary now that all the local promoters have decided to shorten the Open races to 50 minutes. I object!

The Masters race started off fast with Brendon Jenks bolting from the start line. One of my goals for the race was to start harder than last week so I pushed it up to Brendon's wheel and tried to stay on the gas. I ended up coming around him in the upper field and started to get a little gap. I lost my gap when I shorted a corner thinking it was tighter than it was (it was last year). I ended up going through the tape and had to pop back out and get going again. I didn't get much pre-riding on the course so I guess that's what happens.

I stayed on the gas trying to accelerate hard out of the corners and push the legs. Mark Studnicki moved into second place behind me and settled into a conserve mode (he was also riding the Open race) so my gap stretched out. I continued to ride fairly hard, which I would pay for in the Open race, but I figured there wasn't much use in soft-pedaling around the course. If you want to build up CX fitness you have to race hard.

The Open race was relatively stacked with Josh Johnson & Jon Schottler from Columbia coming over. Pretty much all the local guys came out. Not surprisingly, Steve Tilford lead the fray. I chatted it up with Aaron Elwell at the start, we haven't lined up together at all this year. Scanning the photos of the event, it looks like Aaron did a Ben Raby on the barriers. Hopefully, no permanent damage was done because he's racing the 24hr at Moab in a couple of weeks with Cameron.

My other goal for the day was to get a good start in the Open race. I didn't get this done. Between a relatively bad starting position--third row--and just getting stuck behind a long line of guys, I just didn't get up front quickly. Luckily, I was right behind Josh Johnson and I just followed his wheel up through the group. After a few laps we had moved up fairly well with only a handful of guys in front of us. At this point I thought I had some gas and pushed ahead of Josh and up to Shad Schreiner. I ended moving ahead of Shad too, putting me in 4th. Unfortunately, the wheels came off shortly thereafter and I gradually drifted back to 7th. Despite fading at the end, I am fairly happy with my ride under the circumstances. The legs were pretty decent and I'm sure will improve as I continue to get some more quality CX efforts in them.

The KCCX/Verge boys had a good weekend. Joe Schmalz got it done up in Madison, two podiums in the U23. Smokin'! Locally, Adam Mills, Bill Marshall, Alex Edwards and I all finished in the top 15. Will Gault also came up from Tulsa and doubled-up in the Masters and Open races. The course didn't suit his strengths, but he got in some quality efforts nonetheless. He'll be kickin' some butt when the big races come around!

KCCX/Verge also had a guest appearance by my honey in the Women's beginner race. This was her first bicycle race of any kind and she had to suffer through it with a 26lb mountain bike, a cold, and allergies. Of course, she soldiered through it like a champ. Good work, baby!

Bicycle Shack junior, Luke Lininger rode the Open race, too. He's a relative newcomer to CX and is using the season to set up a breakout road season in 2010. I expect to see him improve week-to-week and start to put the hurt on some guys.

On another note, Doug Stone rocked the Cat 3/4 race, riding solo for the bulk of the race for the win. This was his first CX race of the season and first race as a Cat 3. Awesome start, I'd say!

20 September 2009

Saturday = CX, Sunday = XC

Busy birthday weekend:
  • Saturday: Swope Cross Masters 40+ and 'Cross Under the Lights Open (this is the first time I've ever doubled up in two different cities: KC in the AM, Hermann in the PM)
  • Sunday was back in Swope for a MTB race

    The body is feeling the new little aches and pains from the first time on the cyclocross bike. I haven't done any cx-specific physical or technique work yet so the body is feeling it. It was good fun and thankfully I wasn't so rusty that I embarassed myself. In fact, the barriers, sand and stairs all went reasonably well! Looking forward to polishing up that technique over the next few weeks.

    Physically everything was about where I expected it to be. I have two fairly inconsistent fitness goals right now: 6+ hr endurance and cyclocross speed/intensity. After Burning at the Bluff and Berryman Epic I'll be able to focus exclusively on cyclocross fitness. Meantime, maybe someone wants to put on a long cyclocross race, i.e., 180 min + 2 laps?

    It was great to get out with the KCCX teammates and get this season started.
  • 18 September 2009

    KCCX Gear coming in!

    The new gear for CX is starting to roll in! For starters we've got some hip messenger bags by Outlaw Earth. You better get one, all the cool kids have 'em!

    And the races start tomorrow: Swope Cross in the morning and Hermann Cross at night. Swope is a brand new race at a brand new venue, hope it is cool. Hermann 'Cross Under the Lights is definitely cool. Last year it was the awesome kickoff to the CX season, I'm sure it will be again.

    08 September 2009

    The Grinder at Binder!

    Saturday morning (too early) Jeremy and I headed to Jefferson City to race the Binder Lake 6 HR. We made a stop at Bob Evans in Columbia for a little breakfast and then arrived at Binder Lake to watch the light rain for the couple of hours before the race.

    Jeremy rode a recon lap and reported that the second half of the course was pretty greazy (not greasy). I was a little nervous because I was not running a good tire setup for the mud. I had a Maxxis Crossmark up front, but a Continental Race King in the back and its got some very compact small knobs. I looked around and most other people were running Crossmarks so I figured I'd almost be in the same boat as everyone else.

    We chatted it up with Cameron and Travis (Ethos duo team) before the race, including a light-hearted discussion of the merits of my new 6" travel Scott Genius 20. I've been running a hardtail Fuji for the last two years and had pretty much bought into the consensus view that lightweight and short travel was the setup for off-road speed. Not true in my case. I can definitively say I am faster on the Scott. Apparently, my roadie background requires the squishiness that the Scott provides!

    Anyway, things got off in the standard way with a nice little jog across the field to the bikes. I was on the bike 4th, Cameron and Chris Ploch were out in front and another unnamed rider was in just front of me. This rider graciously let me by shortly after we started uphill and I pushed myself up close to Cameron and Chris. I was dangling a few seconds behind them for the first 1/3 of the lap and we had separated ourselves from the rest of the field.

    At this point we got to the slip-'n'-slide portion of the course and my rear tire was not hooking up real well. I decided to ride conservatively and let them go away from me. I came in about 1 minute behind them at the end of the first 7 mile lap. The second lap was a new story. The course was much drier and I was able to move quickly and smoothly through the sections that were slick the lap before.

    Over the course of the next few laps I settled into a rhythm and was turning consistent laps. I didn't really have a good sense of where everyone else was, but I got a couple of time checks and it appeared that I was pulling away from my solo category competition: Mike Best and Dan Miller.

    I turned good times for 5 laps and then I hit my weak spot. In these races I tend to start strong, slow down in the middle and then get it back together at the end. Review of the results indicates that it happened here too. Splits for laps 1-5 were within 1 minute, then I slowed a minute on my 6th and another minute on my 7th. At this point, I did some lap-time math and figured I had a chance at 11 laps if I could pick it up for the next 3 laps. I got it back together and ripped some good splits on my 8th, 9th, and 10th laps. I ended up riding laps 9 & 10 just as fast as laps 1 & 2. Cool! So I squeaked in 10 laps at 5:56 and headed out for the 11th. I was pretty tired, but managed to roll at a steady pace and made it home without too much trouble.

    This was definitely my strongest ride so far this year. I was only 2-3 minutes behind the Cameron/Travis duo (although they had cramping issues and lost several minutes that they wouldn't normally lose) and about 13-14 minutes behind the first place duo team. If I can build on this race and solve my mid-race slowdown, I'll be psyched.

    Jeremy ended up riding 6 laps in about 4 hrs before calling it a day. He was sitting in 11th when he'd had enough. He hasn't had enough time on the MTB this year to get his body accustomed to the punishment.

    Thanks to the organizers/promoters for a great race. The trails were awesome and a good time was had!

    What's next? Maybe a marathon race in the Psycowpath Series and a couple of CX races (Bearcat and 'Cross Under the Lights).

    01 September 2009

    Gear Liquidation

    So, its time to unload some old gear to make room for the new. I am selling the following, contact me if you have any interest.

  • 2007 Ridley Supercross 54cm w/ Ultegra and Ksyriums - $900

    The frame is scandium w/ carbon seat stays and carbon fork. This bike has Shimano Ultegra shifters/deraillers, Ritchey seatpost/stem/bars, 4ZA brakes, Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels (w/ ceramic bearings), FSA cranks/BB, Candy SL pedals. This bike has been raced, but not abused. The frame has some cosmetic scratches and smudges, but no dents.This bike is great, but I have 2 team bikes and don't need it any more. Also, its a little big for me--I have an 86 cm inseam. According, to Ridley, it is for riders with height approx.: 181.8 cm (71.5 inches) and inseam: 87.9 - 91.1 cm (34.6 - 35.9 inches)

  • 2008 Fuji Mt. Fuji SL 19in w/ XT - $1800

    The frame is full carbon. Full XT gruppo, SID fork, new DT wheelset & Schwalbe Nobby Nic Tires, new big/middle chainrings & chain, new Easton MonkeyLite carbon riser bars.

  • 2009 Specialized Tarmac 56cm w/ Ultegra SL - $2000

    The frame/fork is full carbon. Full Ultegra SL gruppo, Ultegra wheelset.
  • 17 August 2009

    Rapture in Misery 2009

    I've been looking forward to this race for most of the season. I've never ridden out at Crowder, but I've been told the course would suit me. It was a good course, only a couple of technical sections, a few good climbs, and basically no place to rest.

    Louis, Gina & I headed up Saturday afternoon with the Airstream in tow. We were one of the first on site and had a good selection of spots to set up camp. We quickly got situated and then set up Jeremy Pych & Luke Lininger's spot next to us. Jeremy showed up around 5pm and we did a pre-ride. We rode it in 54-55 and I figured we'd see sub-45 minute laps during the race.

    Things kicked off at noon as usual. The start was a run up a rocky hill to the bikes. Tige Lamb and Cameron Chambers took off in the lead while a second group was spread over about 30 secs. I followed Jon Schottler on the run figuring he was the guy to beat (he had beaten me pretty soundly at the Firecracker 50 six weeks earlier). Across the initial field section, Jon rode up to Jeremy and I hovered about 10 secs behind them. Descending through the "Bone Yard" we both passed Jeremy as he bobbled on one of the rockier sections. Throughout the first lap I kept Jon within 10 seconds and we slowly reeled in a few guys riding within sight. At the end of the first lap, we were a group of 4-5 that came in 3-4 minutes behind Cameron and Tige. 3 of us were solo 6hr riders and Kyle Shour was next about 2 minutes behind us.

    I led out of the check-in area into the second lap and glancing back on the grass section it looked like Shottler was no longer in sight behind me. I got into a rhythm and just tried to be smooth. I was worried I was riding a little too hard, but I figured I'd just see where I was at the end of the lap. About halfway through the lap I looked back a saw what looked like someone in blue catching me. I assumed it was Shottler in his GT Dirt Coalition kit. Nope, it was Luke putting in a great lap! He didn't end up catching me, but came in right behind me at about 15 seconds. Good stuff from the 17 yr old in his first MTB race!

    On the third lap I started to dial back the pace a little to settle in for the long haul. I was still feeling pretty good though. Laps 4-6 were less comfortable and I started to have to fight for it a little. Gina & Louis were keeping me well fed and hydrated and gave me updates on the time gaps.

    I dialed it back up on Lap 7 to see if I could. It looked like I'd have time for an 8th lap unless I hit the wall or had mechanical problems. I turned a decent time dropping 2 minutes from the previous lap and headed out for one more. On the last 3 laps I was having some issues with cramps and twinges in my legs. I've never had leg cramping issues in races, so I'm going to have to figure out what happened. I just took it easy on the climbs and rolled the rest and finished the last lap without too much trouble. 8 laps, 73.6 miles, 6hrs 45mins, a good outing to be sure. Shottler apparently ran into trouble and drifted back, while Kyle Shour kept turning solid laps to finish 2nd overall and 1st in the under-29 category.

    Props to the Heartland Crew for putting on a great race. Also, double thanks to Doug Long for rounding up a tarp for me at 12:30am to cover the leak in our Airstream!

    See you at The Grinder at Binder in a few weeks.

    03 August 2009

    Queen City & Show-Me State Games

    Saturday I went with Jeremy down to Springfield for the Queen City Criteriums. We met up with the Springfield Crew and set up the course. I raced the Masters race at 7:50pm and then the P/1/2/3 race at 9pm. I felt pretty decent in both races, interesting I haven't done a criterium since 1993.

    After the race we cleaned up the course and headed off to Brackett's house at about 12:00-12:30am. Finally to bed about 1:00 and then back up at 5:30am to drive up to Columbia for the Show-Me State Games MTB marathon race.

    I thought I was feeling okay. At least I didn't seem too tired or lethargic. Au contraire, as soon as we started the race I was redlining. I was struggling to keep up with guys I have put time on in recent races. Not much you can do in such a situation but settle in and hope for things to improve.

    Jeremy Bradshaw jumped out to an early lead on the first lap with Nate Means leading Paul Krewet and I. Towards the end of the first lapped I crashed hard when a big root popped one of my hands off the bars and sent me sprawling superman-style. It was an awkward fall and I landed badly on my hand/fingers. I'll be nursing my middle finger for the next couple weeks trying to get some grip strength back before Rapture in Misery. So I slowly collected myself and made sure everything seemed okay. I got underway and gradually started to brush it off.

    I got back up to speed and just settled into a rhythm I figured I could hold until the end. If I caught everyone great, if not, well, then not.

    I came through the first lap in 3rd, having caught Nate Means close to the end of the lap. Paul Krewet was about 10 seconds ahead of me and Jeremy Bradshaw another 10 in front of him. I caught Paul a couple miles into the 2nd lap and every once and awhile I'd catch a glimpse of Jeremy. When we hit the open fields I could see he was close and not pulling away so I relaxed a little. I figured I didn't need to put the hammer down to catch him immediately, but rather just let him know I was still there and not letting him relax into a comfortable pace.

    At the end of lap 2 he was still about 15 seconds ahead. It seemed like I was making up time on the first part of the lap and losing a little on the second part. Probably I was making time on the uphills and losing it on the downhills. Finally I caught him in the open fields on lap 3 and put some pressure on the uphill sections. Through the start/finish I had put 10+ seconds on him and it seemed like he was tiring. I just kept it steady and the gap stretched out from there. Unfortunately I had no chance at making 6 laps, so I just rolled it steady through to the finish. The gap stretched to 1:20 at the end of lap 4 and 5:00 at the end of lap 5.

    I was pretty tired by the end. I especially was hurting on the drive home! Basically I can no longer function on 4-5 hrs of sleep. Somehow I rallied and Gina and I went to see The Wailers and Toots & the Maytals at Grinders--we even got the tickets for free! Cool show, it was a good thing we had chairs...

    16 July 2009

    MTB Marathon Nationals

    Headed up to Breckenridge, Land o' Thin Air, to put in 50 miles in the mountains against a bunch of locals. This was a tough race, two 25 mile laps with an advertised 5400 ft of climbing per lap. It may not have been that much, but it was substantial.

    From the gun I was in trouble with the altitude. I had to back off multiple times because my breathing was getting away from me. I was especially gasping on the upper portions of the course at over 11,000 ft. I settled into the best rhythm I could and just kept turning over the pedals.

    I think I was one of the slower descenders out there, at least on the gravel road sections. I seemed to do better on the especially rocky, technical stuff, but on the wider roads guys were passing me all day long.

    Rolled my two laps pretty steady, but started to run out of gas a little at the end. At the finish I was pretty hammered, my lungs were actually sore from breathing so much. Weird.

    08 June 2009

    Rhett's Run

    This was a great weekend! Gina and I took the Airstream out and camped in Huntsdale on the Katy Trail. We rode up to Le Bourgeois for dinner at the Blufftop Bistro and then back by way of Rocheport. Fun stuff.

    Sunday morning we got up and drove into Columbia for Rhett's Run. It is surprising how little I've been on the MTB this year. I haven't ridden offroad since Ouachita (April 5) and have ridden a grand total of 4 times in the dirt this year, training and racing! And wouldn't you know it, it rains in Columbia for Rhett's Run!

    The rain didn't really matter too much, the trails were slippery and sloppy in a few places but overall not too bad. I rode the Marathon class and figured I'd be dueling Dwayne for the win. I rode Jeremy's Epic, its a tank but the full suspension made for a comfy day.

    We got off the line pretty well and quickly had a small group of 4 leading the way: Dwayne, Jason Stiger, myself and another whose name I don't know (maybe Mitch Johnson). We cruised the first lap and then Dwayne took over the pacemaking and stepped it up a notch. Shortly into the second lap Dwayne flatted and it was just Jason and I. I started setting pace after Dwayne's flat and soon found myself alone.

    I settled into a rhythm and was feeling pretty solid. Half way through I started running into Sport riders and was really getting held up. Some guys just didn't want to let me by. In fact, some unpredictable riding combined with impatience on my part, lead me to go down awkwardly on my hand. Finally I got through everyone and had some clear trail to get back into a rhythm. I was set to turn 8 laps as I came through at 2:28 to start my 7th. I had no idea where anyone else was and I was just riding my pace. My lap times were 24-25 minutes so I knew I'd get around in time for an 8th lap. But it was not to be. I flatted on the first rocky descent. Shit! Not having any tubes, I doubled back to the start to see if I could borrow a wheel.

    Ten minutes later I was back underway. I rode the last lap conservatively, not really knowing whether anyone had passed me. I rode a 25 minute lap and crossed at 3:02. Later I learned that Jason had passed me and finished a minute and change in front of me. Oh well.

    26 May 2009

    Commuting by bike...

    I've been thinking about commuting to work by bike for some time. For me, the cleanup and bike logistics are the main deterrents. They aren't too major, but our building is really not designed to accommodate bicycle commuting. Of course, the roads between home and work suck too. I'd have to take a pretty long route just to avoid the worst of the traffic. Nonetheless, I'm thinking about giving it a try.

    On a related note, someone got hit riding on I-35/29 this morning at 4:30AM (story). Now, this is undoubtedly a stupid thing to do, but it is still a tragedy for those involved. What disturbed me the most was the comments on the story left by readers. There certainly is no love for bicyclists in the Kansas City area.

    Maybe its time to relocate to a more progressive community.

    12 May 2009

    Biting off more than you can chew...

    Joe Martin Stage Race with the professionals: recommended that you train more than 10 hours/week.

    Okay, so I thought I had a chance of sitting in and making it to the finish with the group in the road stages and figured I'd probably get shot out the back in the crit on Sunday. I was almost right. I got dropped on Sunday more or less right out of the gate, but I also didn't quite have the necessary fitness to stay with the group on the hills at the end of the two road stages. So, I rolled in after the group in both, but within the time cuts.

    Yup, it was pretty hard and I was pretty blown on Sunday. Even though I got blown out I actually think I'm not too far from being able to ride in the group. I haven't done any training intensity this season and I've hardly done any racing. Both of these things would be necessary to be able to survive this stage race, even as pack fodder.

    06 May 2009

    My First Adjustment

    I've never been to a chiropractor until today. I have known for some time that my hips/legs were not quite balanced. Even when I was racing years ago I could tell there was a slight difference. I figured this could either be a leg length discrepancy or a skewed rotation/tilt of the pelvis. While I haven't been suffering any chronic pain in my back or legs, I finally decided to see if it could be rectified.

    So today I went to see Dr. Kucera at Sage Integrative Therapies. She confirmed that there is something going on in my hips. Specifically it appears to be my left hip and probably my periformis muscle on that side. While I was there, she also adjusted the cervical and thoracic regions of my spine. I am going to see Dr. Kucera weekly for a while and we'll see if things get better.

    I have also gotten Graston Technique from Dr. Kucera a couple times in the past. I may see about making it a regular thing.

    Martes Noche Criterium - Cinco de Mayo

    The rain held off and so the crit was on as usual. Today everything stayed together and it came down to a field sprint, which Shadd won. Some guys are heading down to Joe Martin and were not making any efforts. I made a few surges and on the last one ended up a bit off the front by myself. No one figured I was going anywhere so they let me ride out there for a few laps until about 4 laps to go. I just wanted to get a few efforts in before the Joe Martin Stage Race to hopefully be ready to ride hard on Thursday afternoon.

    I don't have any delusions of grandeur for Joe Martin, especially in the Pro/1 category. I am just going down for the training and race miles. Hopefully, I won't embarrass myself too much. I'll be satisfied if I have a decent ride in the TT on Thursday, finish the 2 road stages in the group, and make it through Sunday. There's a decent chance I'll get dropped on Sunday, but who knows maybe I can just latch on to some wheels and stick in there.

    30 April 2009

    Belated Ouachita Report

    On April 5th, I lined up to do the Ouachita Challenge 60-mile race in Oden, Arkansas. It was a power-packed field with a number of MTB pros and accomplished amateurs.

    We rolled out fairly easy on the gravel road section that started the race. We had a pretty tough uphill a few miles in and the pace was hotter than I wanted to go. I settled into a rhythm with a few other riders and we came out at the first aid station about 5 minutes off the pace of the leader, Jeff Kerkove. I hit the road section with Noah Singer and we were told 3 riders were in front of us, but all out of sight. We put down a good effort over the next 14 miles of paved and gravel roads and caught up to Chris Renshaw and Ray Hall just as we hit the Ouachita Trail.

    I settled back into my own pace on the climb and the three rode away from me. In retrospect, I may have held back a little too much on the Ouachita Trail. I did manage to catch back up to Noah at the Aid Station #3, although he proceeded to ride away again on Blowout Mtn. I think Blowout Mtn. was probably my weakest section but because I was holding back I was ready to unleash on the Big Brushy climb after Aid Station #4.

    As I came through Aid Station #4, Glen told me I was 1.5 minute down on the next rider. I rode hard up Big Brushy and had Chris Renshaw in sight as we exited the singletrack on to the last 8 miles of gravel & paved road. I quickly closed up the gap to Chris and then we worked together for a mile or so. We hit a few small uphills and I was able to put some distance on Chris. I put my head down and put about a minute on him over the next few miles.

    I rolled in 3rd place, 5 minutes down on Noah Singer and 10 minutes down on Jeff Kerkove. The race was both easier and harder than last year. I definitely had better fitness than last year, but the longer course and hills in the first 5 miles made the race more difficult. I still have not got my head in the right place to make hard efforts early in races. This is definitely an issue in MTB races, but has also been a problem in some road and CX events.

    Various vids are on YouTube.com

    29 April 2009

    Let's get this party started...Tues Night 4/29/2009

    Just a quick post to start things off. Last night was the Tuesday night training criterium. It seemed like everyone was a little tired or unmotivated after a weekend of local racing. A break rolled fairly early and the group was not interested in chasing it down or riding particularly hard.

    Luke Lininger, Bicycle Shack junior racer, continued his strong riding by getting in the break and pulling through strong throughout the race.

    For my part, I didn't get to ride before the race because of work and just warmed up during the first 15 minutes or so. After that I made a few efforts here and there. In the end I led out Joe Schmalz on the last lap and it looked like he took the group sprint without much trouble.

    I am fighting a few nagging aches and pains surely associated with pushing my aging body too much. My back has started bothering me the last couple of weeks, it was especially bad in the Hermann Road Race on April 19th.