28 December 2010

Change is good!

As 2011 begins, Gina and I are initiating a radical change in direction: I quit my job as a law clerk last month; Gina is taking a sabbatical from managing the day-to-day affairs of the yoga studio; Gina's uncle has moved into our house; and we are off to Costa Rica for three months. We "plan" to fill the days with surfing, sun and anything else that pops up. I put plan in quotes because the whole idea is to get away from the planning, routine, and obligations of life as we have known it for the last 10-15 years.

As a warm up, we spent 10 days around Christmas in Bali with Michael Franti and friends at his new retreat center in Ubud (the same town of "Eat Pray Love" fame). It was an interesting place and we met some great people. We both were getting used to the slowed pace of life there and we are sliding into Costa Rica mode after a few days of relatively frantic last-minute preparations.

I will not be riding the bike during this time, except a beach cruiser to the store for more milk (or beer). We'll be posting stuff during our stay on Facebook and perhaps a dedicated blog.

Pura Vida!

28 November 2010

Gear for Sale

A few things for sale here. Contact me for more details:

Fuji 19" Mt. Fuji LTD Carbon Hartdtail MTB - $1200
Shimano XT
DT Swiss X430 wheels (ridden once)
The bike has been ridden for a couple seasons, but not many miles because of wet weather.

Scott 56cm Scott Team CX - $1400
Shimano Ultegra
Mavic Ksyrium Elite Wheels
Frame is brand new and the components are essentially unused (came off a demo bike). The wheels have had some use, but are in good shape.

Scott 56cm Addict CX (carbon) - $2000
SRAM Force
No wheels.
Used for two CX seasons. In good shape with a few cosmetic blemishes.

Tacx Satori Trainer - $100

15 November 2010

Grand Prix HPT & De Stad Cup

This was a tough weekend, two hard courses and weak legs/body. It is not hard to tell that the legs aren't feeling good, but it is hard to figure out why. I've got a few ideas and I'll try to sort them out over the next few weeks.

Saturday night's race was pretty crazy. The mud was off the hook, especially for the earlier races. I had big time accumulation problems and couldn't seem to ride some sections where everyone else was. I managed 3rd, but it was mostly a gift. A few guys had mechanical issues and I was able to ride through to the finish. The coolest part of the night was Luke getting 2nd. He seemed to be floating through the mud and not having any accumulation issues. Must be nice!!

Sunday was another tough course. It was definitely a power & fitness course. I would have enjoyed it much more about a month ago! As it was I kind of limped my way around. I was able to hold steady behind Andrew for most of the race. I finished up 2nd, but may have ended up 3rd if Brian Jensen didn't have his chain fall off a few times.

I ended up riding the Challenge Grifo XS tires in both races. I am definitely exploring the performance envelope for file treads! Next stop Jingle Cross, will I have to run Grifos or Fangos? We'll have to see what the weather holds...

Thanks to Jeff Unruh & Chris Locke (and everyone who helped them) for providing this weekend's suffering...

31 October 2010

Boss Cross #3 at Barry-Platte Park

For me this was the last race of the first half of the CX season. September is basically getting the feet wet and October tells you where you are and exposes any weak spots. November is the time to fix any weaknesses, hopefully kick your fitness up another step, and get your messy conditions technique working.

As has been typical this year, we had balmy conditions--70 degrees and sunny. Friends and family came out to enjoy the day and cheer me on. I definitely was hearing my name and words of encouragement ("C'mon Old Man!!") all over the course.

This was a new course for me, as I didn't race this event last year. It was a compact course, due in large part to the size of the park. As a result, it was quite twisty and turned back on itself in order to get the lap length up. The course definitely had some interesting elements: sand runs, tough off-camber turns, and some slow-speed, elevation changes.

In particular 2 turns were the primary technical challenges. The first is pictured here: you could get in trouble if you tried to rush this one. Basically, you needed to drop down all the way to the tape and then make your turn and ride straight up the hill. The second was a short, steep uphill chicane. There wasn't much grip on the upslope, so you pretty much just had to come at it with speed and just launch up it right to the tape. Once over the lip, then you could make your turn. Fun stuff.

In addition to testing your your technical skills, the course required a decent amount of power too. I definitely underestimated this aspect of the course after the pre-ride. There were some bumpy sections which generally aren't my favorite, but what are you going to do, it isn't pavement!

So, this was the third race in the series and I had the points lead going in, having won the first two races. Jon Schottler looked to be my main points competition, and of course teammate Joe Schmalz was there as likely winner for the day. Going in I couldn't really tell how I was feeling. I figured I had no known issues that would make for a bad race. As it turns out, I was a little flat. I didn't seem to have any punch and I couldn't seem to kick it up above a steady, hard pace. Last weekend I had that next level, not here. I actually think it might be due to riding too easy the day before the race. I think everyone is different and you need to figure out the best way to ride the day before so that your legs are at their best on race day. This can even change from year-to-year. Last year, I needed that easy day before race day, this year I think i need a little more intensity.

As points leader, I got a front row position. I had a decent start and got off the line behind Joe and Travis. I went by Travis as we passed through the finish line. By the time we got to the first sand pit, Joe, Jon and I had a little gap on the rest. That was pretty much it for the top three. With Joe driving the pace, we gradually rode away from the rest over the next few laps. Joe clearly had the most gas of the three of us. For the first half of the race, Jon seemed to have the upper hand on me. I was able to hold position a few seconds behind him, but just didn't have the snap to accelerate well out of the turns or press the pace. Joe eventually was off on his own at the front. As the laps ticked off, Jon seemed to lose some power, don't know if it was his back or just racing, and I was able to ride up to him. For my part, I seemed to be doing a little better as the race progressed. Around halfway, Jon and I had a little over a minute on the chase, first Brian Jensen (retired with mechanical issues) then Andrew Coe. I was able to get by Jon after halfway and eventually put about a minute on him. I ended up about 30 seconds or so behind Joe. Andrew came fourth, and Adam Mills was fifth.

On the whole, it was a decent race. The big takeaway for me is to nail down the best day-before workout. I may have to rearrange rest days so that I can hit it on Friday to open the legs.

October is the books. Compared to last year, it has gone well. The training has been good, and fairly consistent. I'm happy with the race results, in 7 races I ended up with 4 wins, 1 2nd, 1 3rd, and 1 8th. Time to buckle down and make November a good training month. I will probably race a little less in November to compliment my training and to keep the motivation high. I'll do Jingle Cross and St. Mary's at least.

Hopefully, everything will fall into place by December for Nationals.

24 October 2010

Berryman Epic and Smithville Cross

Berryman is a short story. A bunch of guys rode away from me on the starting climb. I started to reel people back over the next 10-15 miles. Then I shifted my rear derraileur into to the wheel and my race was done. I had to walk 4-5 miles to the next checkpoint to get a ride back to the Start. Thanks Trudi! I didn't hang out, but just started driving home planning to ride Smithville on Sunday.

Things went a little better Sunday at Sailboat Cove! I psyched myself up to ride hard for the whole 50 minutes, especially with having the MTB race cut short. Off the start I didn't get into to my pedal right away and lost the hole shot. I slotted in 3rd behind Travis who got the hole shot, and another rider I didn't recognize. I was going for the hole because that first turn off the pavement into the grass is always a little sketchy. On the start line, Britton predicted trouble and he was right.

The rider in front of me lost his front wheel right as we left the pavement and basically blocked up the best line. Out of caution, I had given him a little space entering the corner and as a result I was able to squeeze around him on the outside. I don't think anyone else got through clean. Travis had a little gap on me and I set about to closing it up. He held the lead through the roller coaster turns after the start and then the second set of turns by the parking lot. Once we got on the bike trail heading to the beach I put down the power and was able to pass for the lead before we got back on the grass.

The next interesting section was the beach. This year the sand was basically packed down and the exit was a pretty easy ride up. I gassed it hard from there and made sure I was accelerating hard out of every corner. Over the course of the first lap I had built up an 18 sec lead over Travis with Brian Jensen at 25sec (mostly due to the first corner crash). Somewhere on the second lap the lead had grown to 25sec and 32sec. Brian overtook Travis on the 3rd or 4th lap. Somewhere close to halfway I think I was told the gap was over a minute. We were doing 10 laps and the finish seemed pretty far away when I saw 5 laps to go.

Basically, I just tried to continue to give it my all on the straight sections and be smooth and fast in the corners. I started to get into lapped traffic pretty quick, I think around half way. Everyone was great and let me by without much delay. I especially have to thank Tyler Henson who took the slow line on the beach (caught on film even!) to let me hit the exit with a clear run, muchas gracias!

Unlike Saturday, I had no equipment issues. I rode which Challenge clinchers--Fango up front and Grifo XS in the rear--and they worked great. I had the pressure just right and I didn't have any issues.

I got another time check on the penultimate lap, and it was 2:05. I managed to stretch it out to 2:15 as I hit the last lap. This is great because it means I stayed on the gas and the power didn't fade too much late in the race. I don't know what our lap times were but I suspect we raced close to 55min.

As usual the Smithville course was awesome with the classic elements from years past, as well as some new elements. On the whole I think this year's course was an improvement over last year.

Last, but not least, a big thanks to Chris Locke and all the other people and sponsors who made this race happen.

17 October 2010

Tulsa & Boulevard Cup

A full weekend of CX, two days in Tulsa and one in KC.

Friday: Ruts 'n' Guts
Friday night was a dusty, bumpy, dark affair. I started out fairly well sitting pretty good in the first few riders. The main "barrier" on this course was constructed by stealing flat rocks from a nearby rock wall and piling them across the course. It was a single barrier so all the riders at the front were hopping it. Let's just say I don't bunny hop well and I don't practice it. Somehow I got over the wall the first lap and unfortunately convinced myself I should continue to hop it. Second time through...game over, express elevator to Hell going down, total endo. In the process I managed to take out Shadd and almost Andrew too. Needless to say, that kind of jacked things up for the rest of the race. I nursed a crushed carbon wheel through the rest of the race and tried to make the best of it. I was able to continue at a fair pace but struggled seeing in some of the darker parts of the course. Guess i need some prescription Oakleys. I rode most of the race trailing a small group with no one behind me. Finished up 8th, probably 30 seconds or so behind the group going for 2nd-6th. Brian Fawley took the win solo. Shadd rallied from me crashing him and beat all the chasers for 2nd. Teammate Bill Marshall finished in the money at 16th.

Saturday: New Cross on the Block
This was a totally different race than Friday. It was completely wide open grass and gravel. There were a couple of relatively short uphill sections and one steep run-up. For me the feature was the temperature--85+ degrees. I don't dig the heat. At least they allowed water handups on the uphill, small favors. The field was about half the size, but the top 8 from Friday were there, minus Shadd.

I started a little less effectively and was probably between 10-15 back for the first half of the first lap. Brian Fawley wasted no time getting a gap, and a chase group started to form behind him. Initially, the group was small, 3-4 riders. But, everyone was looking at each other and we were going pretty slow. Several riders came back to the group over the next lap or so. Finally, Andrew Coe applied some pressure and the group started to fracture. Andrew got a small gap and then Johnny Sundt crossed to him. No chase seemed to be developing so I made my own bid to cross the gap. I towed a couple of riders with me, but when they refused to share the work, I upped it again and crossed solo to Andrew.

As I caught him, Andrew said he was hurting and let me by. I built a few seconds gap but then lost it sliding out in a corner. He was back on my wheel for a while but ultimately faded back. He was having cramping issues and had a rough day. From here, Fawley, Sundt, and I were fairly evenly spaced and seemed to be going about the same speed. Things stayed like that the rest of race and I rolled in for 3rd. There was a battle behind, which KCCX came out on the losing side of due to ill-timed punctures. Tom fell from 4th to 6th, and Bill fell from 8th to 10th. Will Gault, teammate living in Tulsa (and our gracious host Friday night) finished 8th on the day.

Anyone got a camel-toe filter for Photoshop, WTF?!

Sunday: Boulevard Cup
After driving home Saturday night, it was catch a few Zzzzs and get up to do it again out at Wyandotte County Park. KCCX/Verge had some fresh soldiers with Shadd and Luke Lininger lining up. It was a strong local field with the addition of the Nebraska crew. The course had some familiar elements from past years as well as some new challenges. On the whole it probably rewarded fitness over technical ability, but of course required both.

Bill set the pace off the start line and I slotted in about five back. Mark Savery from Nebraska set a blistering pace on the first lap and split the group. First Shadd, then me, grabbed Mark's wheel and waited to see how things would develop. Mark started to fade and Shadd took over at the head of the race. After he got a few seconds I punched it up to him and it was just the two of us. Shadd set a fast pace for a most of a lap and our gap started to grow. We settled into a good steady rhythm and watched for a response from behind.

Over the next few laps we slowly grew the gap to the chase. Smooth and steady was the recipe for the remainder and we rolled home with a sizable advantage over Brian Jensen who beat out Mark and Matt from Nebraska for 3rd. Ultimately, Shadd and I crossed the line simultaneously for a tie. Tom didn't finish due to a knee issue and Luke had mechanical issues. Bill gutted it out and finished up in the top 10.

Post-Boulevard, I had Guts 2.0 as something evil took up residence in my intestines. So for dinner, I enjoyed an appetizer of an artichoke followed by Pepto for the main course. As I write this I am impatiently waiting for the pink stuff to do it's thing.

03 October 2010

Boss Cross #2

After a good dinner, nice massage from my superwife/soigner Gina, and a good night sleep I was ready for another day of racing at E.H. Young Park. The post-race massage was a first (at least since the old days), might have to make that a regular occurrence! It'll help keep my aging muscles supple and injury-free.

Got there with plenty of time to do some pre-riding of the course changes. I made more than a few runs through the new riverside section with tricky sand. Eventually I figured out how to ride it, but not without a fall and a nice bruise on my shin. Initially, I was dubious of attempting to ride this section, but I eventually changed my mind in favor of riding because of the advantage of being on the bike for the exit up the hill.

The field was just as fast today, but with a little loss of depth. The Tradewind guys opted to do a gravel road ride instead of race. The Columbians (not Escobar's gente, but Butthead's peeps) were back. I figured Josh for a strong ride today after getting a race day in his legs. Jon's back/SI joint seemed like a limiter but you never know.

We got a clean start with Bill taking the holeshot and leading most of the first lap. I went by before the sandy river section so I would have a clean line to attempt to ride it. I got through clean but some chaos erupted behind and I had a 10-15sec gap just like that. I really didn't want to ride the whole 60 minutes by myself, but sometimes you need to take advantage of breaks when they go your way. So I set it on cruise control to see how vigorous the chase from behind would be. At first I thought this would be good because Tom & Bill could sit on the chase and save some juice for later. As it turns out, Tom had mechanical issues as a result of the sand chaos and would spend the day chasing. I think initially Jon was leading the chase, with Josh and Andrew Coe in close proximity. I more or less held the gap through the next few laps while the chase shuffled behind me. From my vantage point it looked like Jon faded back and Josh and Andrew were battling back and forth. About halfway through Josh seemed to be making some headway and was closing the gap. I had been holding back a little figuring I'd need some punch if he caught me. It held steady over the next couple laps though. With 2 laps to go I kicked it up a notch and I gradually stretched it back out to about 25secs at the finish. It was a hard way to win, but I shouldn't complain. Kind of boring race report from my perspective, but I bet Josh, Jon & Andrew's battle was pretty interesting.

(Photo credit to John Peck. He's got some great shots of the sand pit from Sunday on Facebook)

The team rode great as a whole with Tom riding back up to 4th place and Bill finishing 6th. Luke was up there too, we'll have to check the results for his final placing.

Technically, I rode a little better yesterday. I didn't seem to be cornering as well today. It may be that the slight increase in tire pressure meant I had a little less grip and a little less cushion on the bumps. I'll continue trying to dial this in just right. As for the sand by the river, I rode it successfully half to two-thirds of the time. A couple of my fails resulted in awkward dismounts which probably cost me a few secs each time. That's the risk of riding at the edge of your technical skill.

So I held on to the series lead and will hang on to the General Lee Jersey until October 30th. Yeehaw!

A big thanks to Jeremy Haynes and Joe Fox for putting this weekend on. Also to the officials and volunteers, we wouldn't get to play without your hard work...thanks!

02 October 2010

Boss Cross #1

So it's been a little quiet on this blog lately. Partly because I haven't really been getting too many races in and partly because there hasn't been much interesting to report. This weekend will change that...

Today was the first Boss Cross race held at the Riverside venue. Honestly, I was a little disappointed because I thought it would be at Parkville. I really like Parkville. At Riverside in 2007 or 2008, I sucked, so I don't quite have a positive view of it. Nonetheless, I was ready to get a good day of racing in. Physically, I didn't feel super before the race, but mentally I was good to go.

The course was fairly similar to the previous time I did it. Maybe technically a little simpler because of the absence of the hill run up and no stairs cut into the section down by the river. The sand was set up differently with us crossing it short ways but the entry was on a turn so no speed.

The field was BIG! Lots of upgrades, I hope those who had their first go in the Open field felt it was worth it! It was a strong field with the Columbia Wrecking Crew in attendance. There was also a full contingent of the Tradewind guys. Steve had problems last week, but I wasn't counting him out for today. The course looked good for Brian Jensen with some decent straightaways and a fairly stiff wind.

My strategy was to let the race develop and not get too involved with pacemaking in the early laps. I figured if I had any cards to play I'd do so in the last couple of laps. No such luck. My plan was foiled when I stacked it up in the sand on the 3rd lap. As a result my rear brake got all messed up and wouldn't disengage. I stopped a couple times trying to get it sorted out. Meanwhile the head of the race was riding away. I'm told I was back at least a minute and back around 20th. Maybe so, whatever it was it wasn't looking good.

I didn't panic and just figured I'd put in a good effort and see how much ground I could make up. I settled into a hard rhythm and started moving from group to group. I knew I had about 5 laps to make up ground so I didn't go Hogg-wild. I just tried to ride error free and push hard on the open sections. It seemed to be working because I was starting to see the two lead groups in front of me on course. Long story short, I ended up catching Brian Jensen near the end of the penultimate lap. He was leading with a 5-10 sec gap over Josh Johnson, Jon Schottler, and Tom Price. On the last lap I was able to get a little gap and hold it to the finish. I guess the moral of this story is don't ever stop riding hard, you never know whether you will ride back into the race. Also, you probably need the race effort anyway, so get to it.

As payback for my efforts, I have the honor of donning the "General Lee" points leader jersey. I'll try to do the Duke boys proud tomorrow!

See ya there....

21 September 2010

Hermann 'Cross Under the Water

The Edge…there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. ~Hunter S. Thompson

I'm sure most everyone has heard about the crazy weekend in Hermann by now. Most of the craziness is well documented elsewhere, so I won't repeat it. I'll just share my view of what will probably be one of the shortest cyclocross race ever.

I was lined up in the second row next to Ethan Froese and Andrew Coe, and behind Nate Rice. Our first start was aborted because we barreled full speed through the start/finish area head on into a van driving on the course. On the restart, I got off the line well enough and down the pavement to the first turn. Things got a little hairy through the turn, but I had a good line and came out something like 4th to 6th behind Jon Schottler, Shadd Smith, and Joe Schmalz.

The first half of the course was open straightaways and the stairs. Things held the same until we hit the second half of the course that was all turns. I think I moved up a spot or two through a little sand pit. Shortly thereafter, Jon fell and this shuffled things up so that Joe, Shadd & I were sitting 1-2-3. By now it had started to rain hard and the corners were super slick. A little further on Joe slid out on a corner, and after the shuffle Tom was leading and I was sitting 2nd.

Tom led through the remainder of the first lap and I accelerated hard once we hit the pavement. The bell was ringing as we came through the start/finish indicating that the officials decided to shorten the race. When we hit the grass again Shadd was on my wheel. At some point before we hit the second half of the course, Jon had made it back to the head of the race and was on my wheel. I made it through a few turns before the pressure from behind made me not get my line quite right and I slid out my front wheel. I managed to get back up and going, but not before I was out of contention. Moving up in the slick corners would have been a tall order. So in the end I just rolled in behind Andrew Coe and Josh Johnson.

I rolled with Challenge Fango Clinchers on Reynolds Attack rims. I would say everything worked great but I really didn't get a chance to get a feel for them and my handling skills are probably a little rusty too.

I wish we were able to race longer (and of course Sunday, too) but that's the way it goes.

Thanks to Jeff Yielding, the town of Hermann, and everyone associated with the race. I'm sure they are wishing things had gone differently too!

08 September 2010

Time for Cyclocross!

The season is just about ready to begin! This week has been all about clinics, KCCX is participating in the Source Endurance Clinic at Herman Laird Park in Shawnee on Saturday. It'll be a good opportunity to learn a few things and get your technique on board for 2010-11.

Next weekend (18-19), the racing begins! Either in KC at the KC Cup Cross or in Hermann, Mo for the Hermann Cross races Saturday night and Sunday. I'll be in Hermann.

The long range forecast has a fair amount of rain, with any luck we'll start out with some mud in Hermann.

14 July 2010

Mid-Summer Post

Yep, its been a while. I've been riding, but not racing much. Rhett's Run was way back in mid-May. I've been out of town, doing other things, races have been canceled, etc. Haven't even been out on the MTB bike too much with the continual rain and muddy trails.

But I'm looking forward to the endurance MTB races later this summer: RiM & Cruise the Blues in August, Tall Oak and Sac River in September, and Berryman in October. Also, I think I caught a whiff of CX, do you smell it? I'll kick off my CX season with the Hermann 'Cross races in September.

There's a few other interesting races coming up too: the Super-D race at Landahl, Rock Bridge MTB race, and others. We've even got a Dirt Crit series starting up this week ... if the weather cooperates. May not make it this week, but I'd like to get out there and take some turns in the dirt.

See ya out there...

17 May 2010

Rhett's Run in the Mud

Sunday I headed out to Columbia to ride the Marathon event in Cosmo Park. I rode this race last year under very different conditions. Even though it rained most of the morning before the race last year the trail was not muddy at all. Not so Sunday!

I rode the ol' hardtail, mainly because I was too lazy to do the the equipment changes I needed to do to run the tubed setup on the Genius. I think I would have been a bit faster had I done so. I haven't ridden the hardtail for a long time and I have gotten pretty used to the position and suspension on the Genius. Also I went down one time because I clipped my bars on a tree, this wouldn't have happened on the Scott as the bars are a few centimeters narrower. Oh well, lesson learned.

As for the race, I got through without any major issues. On the last couple laps the rear brake was making an awful racket and was dragging pretty badly. After I cleaned the bike, I could see some pieces were not where they are supposed to be. But, other than that, the gears were working and the air stayed in the tires.

The Marathon group was pretty small. Zach Brace and Zdenek were there and a few others I didn't know. I took the holeshot uncontested and tried to put the hammer down. I need the highend work so I was ready to sacrifice optimal pacing. I had a gap pretty quickly and just tried to keep the gas on. Unfortunately, towards the end of the lap I misinterpreted the course markings and did an extra bit of singletrack instead of gravel road. I probably added 30 secs to a minute on this little detour. After that the laps ticked off without incident, and I got in 7 laps when it was all said and done.

The course conditions changed throughout the race. The first lap offered the most traction, mainly because the trail hadn't been churned up yet. After the first lap, the uphills became considerably more slick although the rest of the trail held steady. The mud bog along the powerline got worse with each lap and required a ton of brute power to churn through. About halfway through my race it started to rain and the conditions changed again. The traction on the hills improved, but I think the course got slower as a larger percentage of the trail had a layer of mud that sapped speed.

For me tire selection was the key. The Maxxis Medusas were nothing short of magic. I am definitely going to try to find something equivalent for the muddiest CX races. If I had something like this at the muddy St. Mary's race I would have been considerably faster through some key sections.

For some other perspectives: Aaron Elwell, Dave Breslin, & Jon Schottler.

14 May 2010

Rhett's Run Prep

The trail is likely to be muddy with over 4" of rain in the preceding week and the forecast is calling for rain throughout the weekend too. Looks like a good race to try out some new treads.

Having ridden Maxxis Crossmarks in minorly muddy conditions last year at the Tall Oak 6hr race, I don't think it'll be the ideal tread for the trail. The Crossmark is a great all-round tread and I have ridden it in wet conditions (Syllamo, Ouachita & Tall Oak), but it can get packed up with mud and traction suffers. For the mud this weekend, I am going to try either the Monorail or the Medusa.

The Medusa is a specialty mud tire, but is not UST. The tread on the Medusa is pretty serious, and probably doesn't roll too fast.

I don't know if conditions will warrant a full-on mud setup, or I should compromise and run the Monorail in the rear. The Monorail has widely spaced knobs and aggressive shoulder knobs; Maxxis says it clears mud well and gets good traction.

Decisions, decisions...

10 May 2010

Krug Park, Saint Joseph

Saturday was the Robidoux Roundup in Krug Park. It was part of the United Dirt Federation series and I raced the XC race. This is a little on the short side compared to what I normally do, in fact, it was the first XC race I've ever done.

Aaron Elwell was there, so I knew who I'd be chasing. It started with a long, paved uphill stretch to string out the field before the singletrack. Otherwise, the entire 7+ miles was tight singletrack. The course was mostly packed dirt without much in the way of rocks or roots. What it was missing in trail obstacles, it made up for in tight turns and steep ups and downs. There was very little trail that would allow you to get into a pedaling rhythm. It was basically all hard accelerations and decelerations. My lower back definitely felt the effort.

Travis led us up the first half of the paved starting hill. I took over for a short stretch and then Aaron powered it up over the top. He went into the singletrack first and immediately started to develop a gap. I was second in with a Nebraska rider hot on my heels. He was not liking that Aaron was riding away and jumped around me. Tom Price was briefly on my wheel, but ended up puncturing and retiring. The Nebraska rider (Ryan Feagon) was unable to close the gap to Aaron and actually started to slow. After 5 or 10 minutes I passed him back and tried to keep Aaron close. Aaron was running about 15-20 seconds in front of me until he stopped with some shifting problems. He sorted it quickly and was more or less on my wheel as we came through at the end of the first lap (of 3). He quickly started to ride away again and developed a 40 second gap over the second lap. The last lap was a little better for me and Aaron only stretched his lead out another 7 seconds. So I finished 47 seconds down on Aaron for the overall and was the first 40-49.

The XC effort is much higher than I am used to from doing the endurance races. I need the work though and I am glad I raced it. Chasing Aaron made sure I worked hard, but I probably wasn't aggressive enough trying to hold his wheel. I may not have been able to stay with him, but I need to work on not being so quick to settle into my own rhythm.

The summer is full of XC races so I'll probably be taking my lumps in them until the endurance stuff ramps back up in August.

On the road, Luke had a good ride at Joe Martin finishing 34th in the overall of the Men 1/2 race. We rode well and improved from day-to-day. Good stuff, especially since he's only a junior!

29 April 2010

Looks like I'll be missing Syllamo...

First, Ouachita, then Lawrence River Trails, and now Syllamo. Can't seem to get any momentum going on this racing thing this season.

Last Sunday I got to thinking I was still 20-something and pushed a little too hard and did some damage. I managed to tweak a tendon in my leg. I've been taking it easy this week and icing it, but I don't think it'll be ready to go for Saturday. I'm bummed. It looked like it was going to be a good race, even with the serious weather in the forecast.

19 April 2010

The bones are bent...

Bone Bender 6hr is in the books. Monday morning and I am becoming acquainted with the various aches and pains of the long race on the trails. All-in-all the race went well: had good power, decent endurance and the skills seemed to be working. A good season opener.

Rode the Scott Genius 20, mostly with the 150mm f/r suspension fully engaged. I locked the rear out a couple of times early on while riding on the pavement. I stopped doing this after I would forget to open it back up on the trail. Also ran a new set of Maxxis Crossmark 2.1 UST tires at 27/29 psi (f/r). This year I am also riding Scott's Team Issue MTB shoes. All my equipment worked great today and I had no issues.

Here's my recollection of how things went down. Some of the timing or laps may be off, but it should mostly be accurate.

For starters, the conditions were hard to beat. The trail was in great shape, the weather was just right, and lots of people showed up for some good-time racing. Over 200 toed the line for the LeMans start. We ran a short loop on the grass and beach before grabbing the bikes and heading on to the 11.5 mile loop. I started on the second row on the very inside (the run was a short counterclockwise loop). I was a little worried about getting pinched in the first corner but things went fine. I probably hit the end of the run between 5th and 10th, however, I had awesome bike placement and was 3rd on my bike behind Tige Lamb and Doug Stone. Things started to sort out after the first short singletrack section on the first bike path section. Tige was still in the lead with a small gap, Cameron (Duo 6) moved past me, as did Kent McNeill (Solo 3) and Mark Studnicki (Solo 3). A little later on the first lap I let another another 3hr rider by so he could contest the race with his competition.

I trailed this group for the first lap holding a fairly steady gap. I think Tige and Mark faded back to me later in the lap. So at the end of one lap, I was sitting behind one 6 hr duo team and two 3hr solo riders. I later learned I was about 2:30 up on 6hr solo competitors Kip Biese and Matt Gersib. About one-quarter of the way through the second lap Jon Schottler (Solo 3) caught up to me. I let him by and he and the 2nd place 3hr rider (I am pretty sure he was from Iowa or Nebraska) were riding together a little ways in front of me. I think this is how things stayed through lap 2 and about half of lap 3. And apparently I was about 6 minutes up on Gersib after 2 laps.

On the 3rd lap, I rode up to Schottler and the other 3hr rider. About halfway through that lap, the other rider looked to be fading and Schlotter accelerated on one of the bike path sections. I stayed with him and we rode away. Schottler was pushing the pace and I had no interest in passing him. Later, somewhere in the last quarter of the lap Schottler got caught up on a tree and ended up letting me by. I kept the pace steady and we continued to work through traffic. I think I must have put a little gap on him (probably because of lapped traffic) because I came into the start of the 4th lap by myself (although Jon was probably right behind me). At this point I was apparently 4-5 minutes down on Cameron & Travis, with Kent McNeill somewhere in between.

Laps 3 and 4 had a lot of traffic to work through. This is always a tough situation and its impossible to not have some issues passing riders. That said, I think the vast majority of passes were pleasant for all involved. I apologize to any riders who's flow got messed up as a result of my passing.

Laps 4-6 were more of the same, just keeping the pace steady and keeping fueled. Jeremy came out and did an awesome job up handing up bottles and food throughout the race. It was definitely a luxury to not have to stop and refuel.

Jeremy's pit assistant Atticus, however, didn't seem to have a firm grasp on his assigned duties.

Starting lap 7 fatigue was definitely setting in. At that point, I guess I was about 30 minutes up on Gersib. As it turns out he finished his 6th lap a few minutes before 4:00pm, but didn't go out for a 7th lap. I was happy to have a sizeable gap and have the luxury of taking it down a notch. I tried to keep it steady and rolled through the lap about one minute slower than my previous lap.

In retrospect, the race "went" different than my two 6-hour races last year. Here, I felt really strong and comfortable through most of the race, but felt pretty tired on the last lap. Last year I felt like I was suffering more throughout, but didn't feel as tired at the end. Who knows though, maybe that's just the memories fading.

The Ethos boys had a good day: Travis & Cameron took the 6hr Duo Class with Travis getting the fastest lap too. Garet Steinmetz got the win in the 3hr Singlespeed category.

(photos by Lantern Rouge and J. Pych)

15 April 2010

Smithville Trail Recon

The trails are in primo condition right now!

The course map is up (here) and it is listed as 11.5 miles. I got a couple laps in and it was good. I am pretty sure I rode the course correctly, with the exception of the bits around the start/finish. Here is Chris' Garmin info from his ride last night. As you can see there is not much elevation change out there, but it is pretty twisty and speeds don't get too high. All in all it flows nice and will be a great race, if we don't get too much rain tonight.

Although the course is pretty smooth, with the exception of a couple rocky sections, I'll be out there on my Scott Genius with 150mm of travel. I'm sure I'll be loving that cushy feeling 6hrs in!

Looking forward to seeing everyone in a few days.

08 April 2010

Tuesday Nighter

Fairly epic weather for this one. King Kelly wasn't there, but this picture captures the evening (especially the ride home in the dark).

It was dry at first, but about halfway through it started to rain hard and even a little hail came down. Thankfully it was not the walnut and golf ball sizes they talked about on the news. Needed a waterproof camera for some action shots! Sometimes the weather gets so bad that riding in it is almost funny. It definitely changes the dynamic when you are struggling to see the road and riders around you.

All in all it was a good time, unfortunately now I've caught a head cold. I doubt it was from riding in the rain, but that may not have helped!

Tom Price has some pics and results here.

Also, our local malcontent weighed in on the affair here.

06 April 2010

April showers? I hope not...

So, it appears the weather has finally warmed up for good and the sun is coming out. I even have managed to get a couple tan-lines started.

I didn't make it down to Ouachita this year, so nothing to report there. Its too bad, it looked like a quality field and would have been a good race.

April will be full of MTB races, as long as the weather cooperates. First up, is the UFD race at the Lawrence River Trails this weekend. Then its Bone Bender 6hr, Tour de Tick, and Ride with the Devil 6hr. Looking forward to testing out the legs and start working my MTB skills back into shape.

24 February 2010

Scott Genius

This is what I'm riding this year. Actually, I'm riding the 2009 model, but they are mostly the same. The 2010 has the Twinloc feature allowing you to adjust the front and rear suspension on-the-fly from the handlebar, sweet!

Thanks to Rich Anderson I am in the Ouachita Challenge again this year. Unfortunately, I had assumed I wasn't racing it so I'm a little behind on the training. I'll see what I can do over the next month to get ready!

26 January 2010


Time to harden up and get some time on the bike. Would like to go on some of the Guru's Gravel Grinders, but its hard to justify driving so much when I can just ride out the door. Maybe when they come back to this side of the metro.

So I got in an epic gravel/mud ride on the MTB this weekend. Saturday was warmer and wet so I went exploring the non-pavement in eastern Jackson and Lafayette counties--71 miles of mud splatter. Should have taken some pictures, I was definitely looking messy at the Higginsville Casey's. Listened to iTunesU the whole time so it was educational too!

Here's the route:

View Gravel Loop - Higginsville in a larger map

Looks like some "e-mudslinging" is going on too, check out http://sandbaggerkc.blogspot.com. On a related note, I got the results sheets from Andrew Coe. So for those who care about such things, I should have the Kansas City CX rankings updated through the whole 2010 season this week.

Now that it has gotten cold again, I would think the trails would be rideable. Maybe I'll try to turn some laps out at Landahl.

06 January 2010


Theoretically it is time to start getting ready to race for the 2010 season. However, we're in the middle of a cold snap that has kept snow on the road and temps well below freezing. Compound that with 10 days in Costa Rica with 90+ temps, and I am not so motivated to get out on the bicycle. Of course, I am never motivated to get on the bicycle indoors! Living in San Diego made riding at this time of year pretty easy. I'm missing that climate right about now!

Does this count for cross-training?

My goals for 2010 are under development at this point. I know at least that I'll be racing almost exclusively on the dirt this year. I didn't get into the Ouachita Challenge (but maybe I'll pick up an entry when someone cancels) so my season may kick off a couple weeks later than last year. The race calendar looks promising with multiple regional MTB race series and several local/regional endurance races. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we don't have any cancellations or postponements.

I'll be riding with support from Scott this year. I'm thankful for the assistance and look forward to riding and racing with their superior products.

One important goal for me is to help Luke Lininger have a successful last road season in the juniors. His goal races for this year are Nationals in Bend, the Tour of Red River Gorge, and the Tour de l'Abitibi in Canada. If the Soto Classic is the Worlds Qualifier in 2010, that'll be an A race too.

Look forward to seeing everyone out on the trails and roads.