Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kirtland Park CX

Kirtland Park is one of my favorite 'cross venues. Every year, the park offers up some new wrinkle. The amphitheater is always the main feature, and this year the course climbed up the terraced steps, but pretty much every foot of the course was interesting and challenging, including the "stairway to heaven".

I lined up in my stay out of the way spot a few rows back in the field, and I was actually caught by surprise by the start, but I was feeling pretty good, and seemed to be able to power through the field section pretty well. For once, I was passing plenty of people.

The first downhill on the course had that roller-coaster feel. It's so steep that you can't see the bottom until your wheel goes over, then it's a rapid acceleration to the lake plain. I had a pretty good line through the turn at the base of the hill and ended up moving up a little more.

Since the field was big and the course was twisty and turny, the race was stacked up for most of the first lap, and the track stand skills came in handy. It didn't really open up until after the stair climb.

After it got sorted out, I spent the next two laps or so battling for position with a decent group of riders. However, I was keeping it right on the red line the whole time, and doubted it would last.

Eventually, the spring started to unwind. At about the midway point Seth passed me on the stairs just before the baseball field, and I spent some valuable oxygen cursing him as he scooted past. Then I settled into a rhythm I could hold to the finish. At some point, I started working with Daryl, and we shared the pace on the flatter sections of the course, where the wind actually was a factor.

With two laps to go, I was pretty toasted. I kept banging the pedals, but was pretty worn out. My main concern at that point was to stay out of the way of riders on the lead lap who were fighting to place or win. Bill caught up to me on the steep hairpin climb, and I moved way over to the right to let him go through at speed, so I ended up running the hill for the first time.

I totally botched my remount at the crest and basically vaulted my bike and tumbled down. No harm, though. It took several seconds to get moving again, and by then, I just wanted to finish.

It was a great wrap-up to a great series! I had to scoot home immediately after the race, so I missed all the end of season festivities, but still managed to say some "see ya next years!" to the fine group of people who race 'cross every year. It's really a special atmosphere. If you don't race next season, make one of the local races a destination for your fall road rides next year.

Thanks to the Lake Effect crew for doing all the hard work!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blue Sky CX Weekend

I rode down to Chagrin Falls on Saturday since the weather was so nice and warm. I took it pretty easy on the way down, but pushed relatively hard heading up Bell Street toward Auburn Road, then had a tailwind all the way back home. I haven't done a training ride over 30 miles since September, but I still had a lot left in the tank at the end of the 40 miles.

Then on Sunday, I packed up the Redline and drove to the Blue Sky CX race at Coulter Avenue Park in Euclid. The course reminded me of our Brent Evans designed masterpiece in Solon. There were countless turns, and since the park is also some type of drainage basin, there was a ton of off camber sections. But the main feature was a big run-up a muddy hill.

I was in the mood to flog myself pretty hard, but since the course was both muddy and hilly, I started at the back and just stayed out of the way of other riders as much as possible.

It was a great workout, and there were a few laps when I was racing with other riders, which always makes it more fun. My main problem was I couldn't get any traction on the run-up, so I lost a lot of time every lap. On the positive side, I was doing really well on the off camber technical riding and only lost my momentum a couple of times due to a slip in the mud, but I did not crash. Amazing. Another amazing thing is that my 39x27 gearing was fine in even the muddiest sections.

The course was tough. So tough that I was totally happy to get lapped by the leaders of the race and put out of my misery. That's the only race in the series where I actually had to flop down on the ground for a few minutes to recover.

Blue Sky did an awesome job putting the course together, and running the event! Thanks a lot guys!

The season finale at Kirtland Park is up next. I'm hoping for drier conditions and more power sections so I can battle it out with some of my usual cyclocross "rivals" although I use that term very loosely.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

being a better man

Almost every training ride I do is a pleasure. Even if it's cold and rainy, or really windy, it's great to be outside and covering dozens of miles of northeast Ohio under my own power. The only sure spoiler is an asshole driver or two.

Today should have been a perfect ride. I went up through Kirtland, through the Arboretum, and up Kirtland Chardon Road hill toward Chardon. I didn't ride hard. I just enjoyed myself. But as I got closer to Chardon, some redneck screamed some crap out his window.

That really doesn't happen to me too often. The vast majority of drivers are considerate and polite these days. So it was no big deal. I don't even know what the dude said. But I was probably a little annoyed. I cranked up the tempo on the stretch of Rt 6 that heads into Chardon. It's a flat section of road, and usually there's a tailwind, so it's possible to get up to 30 mph for a half mile or so without working too hard.

The problem with that, of course, is some drivers have no clue what to do around a bike moving that fast, and they completely screw up passing. That's ok if there's not much traffic, and the guy going by isn't a semi. Some trucker practically forced me off the road. So I was a little more annoyed, but thankfully almost home.

The weirdest encounter I've had in a long time came next. I got back up to speed, and zipped down the hill into Chardon with the traffic. A very elderly man who probably got his learner's permit in a chariot passed me, then slowed down and kept blocking my path. I doubt he was intentionally doing it. Instead, he was just driving super slow and staring into the rear view mirror like some fucking nut. I just got off that road as soon as possible.

I wish I had some Zen like power to ignore this shit, but man, it's enough to make me want to hang up the bike for winter!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

maintenance mode

I went down to Brett's Chagrin CX race on Saturday. He's managed to create a really nice tradition. The course is one of my favorites, and the atmosphere is fantastic. This year, I finally wore a costume--my old tuxedo--which I hoped would be completely destroyed by the end of the race, but in spite of the massive mud puddle in the course on the entry into the woods, scraping through tree branches, and bouncing off an occasional tree, it looked about the same after the race as it did before the start. I felt great, but I ended up racing pretty slow to avoid passing out from overheating.

I've switched over into my maintenance riding mode for now through Christmas. So I'm riding a little, running a little, and lifting more. I haven't really made any adjustment to my diet, so I was pretty surprised to drop some weight with a lot less energy burned. Weird. For example, in August, I burned around 22,000 kJoules, and lost no weight, but in October I burned only around 8,000 kJoules but I lost 5 pounds. That seems to defy all logic, so it's interesting. We'll see if the trend continues, and then maybe I'll be able to draw some conclusion about it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Cellphone, Kindle, Book. What could go wrong?