26 October, 2008

Afton Alps

What may be one of the last warm days until spring brought me to Afton Alps for another lovely cx race. I cruised down with Ross, who after having a very slow start to his season cruised away from the B field and can now hopefully race A again. Then we can leave Duluth later. Anyhow well done to him.Ross on his way to victory.

Dave Langely rode in circles as well.

The course to my delight was in many respects very similar to the Olaf cx course. Mostly flat with a big ass run up.
Not nearly soon enough the race was off, I felt good, I just sat in the top 5, cruising along for the first couple of laps, I did not even feel as though I was working. On the decent my chain bounced around and somehow got over my chain guard, thus forcing a stop to repair, and loosing contact with the lead group, screwed over once again by the damn chain. I tried to chase, but with a long into the wind road section it was not possible to regain contact by my lonesome. Nevertheless I continued to chase with a few guys sitting close behind, then as I got on my bike after on of the barriers my chain had randomly decided to jump ship again. I considered throwing the bike into the chair lift pole for a bit, but ended up getting back on, chasing the group that went by me. With 1.5 laps to go I regained contact, but had zero in the tank. On the big hill I got gapped by two of them and ended up pulling the 3rd all the way down the road, right up to near the last barrier where he decided to pass me by ramming my bars. This guy has a serious issue with cutting people off, consider this your last warning. Unfourtunatly he beat me to the line as well. I ended up 8th I beleive, when I should really have been much higher then that. I felt good for most of the race, the mechanicals just really seem to take it out of me, totally destroying my rythm and concentration. I have tried to fix it, but I can never get the chain to jump track in practice, only races, and when it happens then I have no time to sit down and ponder the reason. This week I will put many hours, but few dollars into fixing it.
I just discovered I missed getting my race paid for due to my chain, I think I want to burn it.
Run up
I raised my seat a bit again, I think that made a big difference.

Right before dropping chain for second time...

Sunday I decided not to race for various reasons. I still rode and became quickly dissappointed I did not race. I felt really good. Why waste feeling good? So I went out and hammered it for a good 30 minutes in the rain and cold.

23 October, 2008

20 October, 2008

Challenging vs. Stupid

But first...
Saturday was the delightful race at Ham Lake, I really do enjoy that course, it is just so damn fast. Roadie tactics can pretty much be used, which makes the racing really entertaining.

Another early morning brought the argyle suit out to the line. The race was started on the road this year which made for an extremely quick get up and go. I let up a little to early and got behind Mr. Hole Shot. Who after starting blazing fast faded blazing fast, causing a gap to open up that would be impossible to close. Thus the lead group was established with my group getting the chase title. There were attacks and crashes and all kinds of fun things, it always came back together after each event though. Mr. Anderson and I worked very well as team mates, first time I have ever had one wearing the same kit. It was great. With 1.5 laps to go someone dropped their chain behind me (I was pulling) and Harry yelled go, I took off, opened up a gap, then soon after the Crossniacs took each other out. Harry sat on the wheel of Jess from Nature Valley, who after sucking wheel (we joked about this, I am not angry) brought me back. He ended up getting the sprint, I rolled in right behind him, with Mr. A rounding out the top 10. Fun stuff.
I spent more then my fair share of time on the front. But no one else would pull...
Fly away home.
The group

Sunday I decided to forgo Hudson round 2 and race in Ashland. I also dragged Father Boyce along for hist first cross race, to bad about the course... Hopefully it did not spoil cross for him.A bunch of them came to my race, so I feel I should support them. Had I known the course, I may have done otherwise...
It was a course made for 29ers. Started as a normal cx course, dropped onto a sand beach, which is fine, then after a short run up, went onto about a 200 meter section of rock. Not gravel, rock (see photo)
I got the hole shot, led over the beach, then as soon as we hit the rock it was like I was riding in sand and the guys on the 29ers were on pavement. All I could do was watch them ride away, I was going as hard as I could but going nowhere, I simply sunk into the rock. And that is how the rest of the race went, in the 200 meters the 2 guys in front of me probably got 15 seconds if I rode the rock perfect, there was no way I could close that gap on the soft grass that was the rest of the course. So I struggled for an hour, not feeling stellar at any point, and wanting to die on the rock.
He warned me about the rocks... At least there was a nice veiw.
Path of death
Size 43 shoe on the rocks.

Other then the course, the race was fun, very low key not even USCF. Thanks to those guys for putting a race on.
In my opinion there are two different kinds of hard, at least for bike racing. Challenging hard, for example the hill at Olaf, last years Twine Ball, speeds at Ham Lake, super fast single track, and things like that. And I thoroughly enjoy a challenge. Then there is stupid hard, i.e. this rock path, or the drainage ditch at last years Velodrome race. No not because I am slow on them, or have bad races, but because they make the race simply not fun. Stupid hard is an unnecessary part of a course that when you ride, you just think what the hell am I doing this for. I know everyone has thought that about some course, so don't everyone go get all upset about this. And no stupid hard does not derive from your weaknesses, I love riding in mud, but I hated the drainage ditch.
Yes, I complain, but how are things going to get changed if I don't.

14 October, 2008

Getting faster, slowly...

The weekend started off with the long haul from Duluth to Darwin, home of the worlds largest Twine ball.
The race changed from last year, the large hill was eliminated to my disappointment, but I managed to cope with the loss for I received a wonderful gain. We (the Specialized team) got our skin suits Saturday. New things usually make me happy. The only issue I had with it is that since it is designed for cross it is a bit thicker, and for some odd reason it was 80 deg. But that problem should be remedied very soon, and then I will be very happy for the thinker suit. Anyhow, thanks to Mr. Hartney and Specialized for that.

On to the race... As it has been established it was hot. Not that I mind to much, just a change from the 42 and rain in Duluth.
The evening before I had the inkling of a sore throat, which I promptly tried to ignore, but one never knows how much that affects your performance. The race was off nonetheless and I did not feel like crap right way. The race spread out quick due to the single track and I was positioned well, until the barriers where I dropped my chain. After that I rode with Mr. Roy, Mr. Thorlson, and Mr. Anderson. There were a few attacks, a fair amount of hurt, some stayed away, some did not. In the end Mr. T got away, Mr. Roy got around before the last corner, and a bit before that Mr. Anderson got tired.
I know I can still go faster, lots faster, I just gotta figure out how.

Stolen from Linda

Sunday was a late start, luckily. I got some good sleep and felt a bit better in the morning. And luckily I had lots of time to find the race, not being that familiar with the Cities I don't know what some of the things on the directions mean. Anyhow the course was, surprisingly, the most single track yet this year. Good thing I have been training on it a fair amount. Starting position was very important, and I played it right and was right up there. Things were going pretty well for most of the race. Then not to my surprise, on the the bumpy downhill my chain popped off and the group that had just formed around me got away. I managed to chase down 1 guy by the end, but there went 3 places. Other than that things went well.
On the chain note, I spent a few hours dinking with it, and hopefully it works now.
Morgan and Matt (Olaf friends) showed up and took some photos.

08 October, 2008

Racing all over

No not geographically...
Saturdays race went like crap. Perhaps due to a late night with various activities and sleeping on a floor with no pad, or maybe I am just plain slow this year. I have not figured it out yet.
As I mentioned, crap. Not at any time during the race did I feel good, right from the start things did not feel right. My legs just did not want to turn over, my lungs and cardio never really felt like they were working. Just zero power.
I was not too impressed with the course, it was not bad, just not my kinda course, but the dirt jumps were lots of fun!

Saturday night I attended Ben Witts wedding, congratulations. I left early due to exhaustion, then rolled on over to Northfield and hung out with Daniel and Linda, and retired early to bed. Thanks to them for the use of a bed.

Sunday was off to Hudson.
As usual it was half single track, which I did not mind for the first time, and lots of mud. I felt much better then Saturday and things were going decently (besides being slow because I can't ride technically still). Any time lost on the trails I could gain no prob. on the beach run. I could close a gap of 20 meters no problem in the 100 meter run. Then I dropped my chain, then dropped it again. That cost me a few places needless to say...
Better luck next weekend.

Normally if I were racing this slow I would probably just wanna hang it up. But I am racing so up and down (see St. Cloud, Duluth, and these results) that I don't wanna be done yet. I know the speed is in me somewhere, I just have to figure out how to coax it out...