Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cool video from the USGP

Check this out from the Cal Giant/Specialized crew. It's a pre ride video shot from cameras on 2 riders bikes.

Or try this one of the run up from PodiumInsight.

Pretty cool stuff.

USGP Sun Prairie WI

This picture pretty much sums up Sundays race. Hit the deck 4 times, twice on both sides. I must of slid along the ground enough to push my shorts up my legs so I spent the rest of the race like this.

So it's been a few days since the races and I'm really not sure what to think of the weekend. I guess my emotions ran from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Saturday I rode well and won on my birthday which was really cool. Sunday I rode poorly and fell 4 times, major bummer. I did manage to hang onto the leaders jersey which was a consolation prize of sorts. Overall the weekend was good for the team as everybody that was there rode well. Joe had the ride(s) of his life coming from the back of the field to finish in the top 25 overall both days and 3rd U23. Bill started in the last row both days and fought his way up to the top 25 on Saturday and 19th on Sunday.

Here's a high, winning on Saturday and standing on the podium with Troy. I got a good start and led wire to wire with a winning margin of over a minute. Everything was clicking, loved the technical nature of the course, and I felt really good on the bike. Not too shabby for the first time out on the cross bike for the year.

Unfortunately that's about if for the good stuff. After the race I got back into mechanic mode to get the guys set for the Elite/U23 race. After a while I could tell I was tired, not race tired but weary tired, like I was so depleted of energy I was ready to fall down. I never even saw the Elite Women's race and spent the Elite men's race in the pit working for the boys. After the race we got loaded up, got an early dinner, and headed for our host house. The guys surprised me with a birthday cake and then it was off to bed with hopes that I would recover.

Sunday dawned and we got out to the venue and got set up. Since I'm the first to race of our group I need to get set up and get ready to pre ride the course right away. So warm up went OK, but the changes that they made to the course didn't favor my riding style. The course went from tight and turny, to longer power straights. Still, it was a good course for everyone. At the start I got into the lead with another rider and within 2 laps we hap pulled out to a 15 second lead. Half way through the lap I was leading when I carried just a bit too much speed into a turn that transitions from grass to gravel. That 2 inches over from my line took me off the dirt and into the gravel which had me slamming the ground in an instant. I got up quick but had a stinger to the hip and shoulder. To top it off the chain was off and once I got going the bike wouldn't shift. By now I was in the chase group for 3rd through 5th. I could tell from the beginning of the race I had dead legs but now it was even worse. A few more bobbles and falls brought me to the last 2 laps where I was feeling a bit better. With 2 to go I attacked and got rid of the 5th place rider. Now it was just the 2 of us fighting for 3rd. Going into the hairpin before the run up I tried to go inside to block the other rider but he saw me coming and threw a block of his own. I ended up going over the bars, smacking my face on the fence on the way down. I get up, grab my bike and jump over the barriers as I see 3rd place is running up the hill. As I set my bike down to run I find out that it won't roll, the back wheel is crooked in the frame! Ahh, I have to release the skewer, straighten the wheel and then start running. I look up again and see 4th place at the top of the hill and jumping back on his bike. With 3 turns to the line there is no way to catch him and I end up with 5th.

If it could go wrong it did. Bad legs, crashes, and broken bike parts. They say that you are bound to have bad race in any series so I hope this is mine. All in all I really can't complain too much. To come out the first USGP weekend with the leaders jersey is pretty good for a guy with zero cross specific training. I know what caused the fatigue and it can be resolved easily and my coach is ready to start the training cycle this week. I think I'll be a different rider in 3 weeks time.

Enough about me, how about Kate Compton. Here she is warming up for her race. No big team truck, no mechanics or team manager hanging around. She just does her thing and then goes out and smokes the Elite women's field.

Overall the weekend was a success. The team is still working out the kinks from a unexpected transportation glitch but we are finding a way to get it done. With 3 weeks before the next USGP I think we should be ready to relax and roll. Right now I just need to heal up and sleeeeeeeep.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Busy week but now it's off to the races!

Pinky decided that he wanted to go out to cross practice this week and I figured it was a good time to take a break. This week I've been super busy with work and the process of drying out all of the teams equipment so a ride was just what I needed.

It's kind of hard to read but I had to back up to get a true measurement.

Yep, that's the high water mark inside the trailer from last weekends flood. The bikes and all of our equipment was in there. After tearing all of the bikes down to the frames I was surprised to find that there was very little damage. In fact, I think we do more damage at mud races with the power washer.

One going back together and one coming apart. It was time consuming but better than having a mechanical at a race.
This weekend is the start of the USGP series. We head up to Madison WI for the weekend with cool temps and possibly some rain to make it interesting. I guess it really is cross season when you are thinking about bringing the cool weather gear for a race. I'm just bit nervous as I have no idea about where my form is going into the race and last weeks 2 lap race isn't much of an indication. We shall see, I'll update as the day goes on from my phone and fill it in later after the races. See Ya!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Epic Cross.........or maybe not! Hermann Cross

Nice thing about racing at night, you don't have to leave the house too early to the race and get set up. Rolled out of KC and got to Hermann in plenty of time to get set up and organized. With all of the new equipment it's going to take time to figure out how to manage everything. We have the Reynolds "Spin it up" program that gives us a 30 sets of wheels to keep organized as well as all the other equipment. Being that this is the first cross race of the season I managed to get my "A" bike off the hook and replace the broken parts Friday night. Good thing we were set up early and had plenty of time to pre ride and get used to the cross bike again. Luke (bama) was the first on the team to go at 7:15 as it was starting to get dark. It was about that time that I started to notice the lightning. It was off to the north but getting closer all the time. Bama was off to a good start in the 3's race and was leading before falling and getting shuffled back to 5th. He battled the whole race to hold his position and did well to hold on to 5th. Soon is was time to get ready for the 1-2 race. The lightning was really close and and we were called to the line for the start. After a quick line up the starters horn went off. We blasted off the line only to see a car coming directly at us 50yards after the start! Most of the field avoided the car but a few went down. Nobody was hurt and we reassembled for a restart. Just before the restart the official warned us that storms were approaching and if we heard the bell at the line it would be the last lap.

Right about the time the rain started the horn sounded. We were off and I got a pretty poor start. I went for the slower inside line in the first turn and it out great as someone found out that wet wheels don't stop very well. He took half of the field to the fence on the outside of the turn and put me in the top 5. Before there was even a third of the lap over we had 4 KCCX riders of the 6 that had broken away from the field. It was about then that we crossed in to the tighter, turny section of the course and found out how slick the course had become. The crash fest began as just about everyone fell at one point. By the time we had made it back to the start finish it was Jeff, Shadd, and myself across the line as the bell rang for the last lap! Now the rain was really pouring down and I could barely see through my glasses. Rain, mud, and lights made it all most impossible to see in some spots and I found myself nearly crashing into the fence at the end of the pavement. The next thing I know I was bumped back to 5th place by two other riders. With a little bit of bump and run I got back into 4th by the stairs and it was the 4 of us going through the sand and into the turns. Again it was a bit of a crash fest. All 4 of us crashed at one point on the last lap. I managed to pass the J Schottler for the lead only to slide out 2 turns later. By time I got up it was Schottler and Shadd were gone and I got back up to hold on to 3rd at the line. During the race I was so focused that I didn't notice how hard it was raining or how much lightning was above us. The officials did the right thing by calling the race but it sure would of been fun to go the distance with that much rain coming down . In the end the KCCX crew got 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 12, and 22nd. I'm pretty sure they got the top 10 right but who knows after that.

Fun night but the excitement doesn't end there..................................

Now I've never been to Hermann before, but I had heard that this park has flooded prior to this race in the past. I looked at the weather before we left and there was a slight risk of rain, that's it. So even though the rain was pouring down we loaded all of the bikes, wheels, tools, everything, into the trailer and locked it up. We all jumped into the cars to escape the lightning and rain and headed off to get some food. By the time we got to the place we were staying it was 10pm and by 11pm it really started pouring. By midnight we had gotten a call telling us that the park was flooded but the police won't let anybody in so don't bother coming down. Argh, it was a long, fit full night in bed trying to sleep and wondering if the trailer was still there.

Wink and I were up early and he had all ready gotten a call that his basement back in KC had water in it! By the way, Happy Birthday Buddy! Anyway, we decided to go ahead and head down to the park with Bama and see if we could find the trailer. As you can see in the picture above we found it sitting on the road. The problem is.......if you look at where we found it to the picture at the top, you will see that the water carried the fully loaded trailer about 30 ft. Our saving grace.......the trailer lift on the tongue got hooked on the asphalt at the edge of the road. It's not far from the road to the creek and once it's in there it's not far to the Missouri river.

About now I'm just happy that the trailer is still around so it was time to open it. What a kill joy, the water line in the trailer was about half way up the side, or about handlebar high. At least most of our new wheels were above the bikes so they stayed dry! All of the bikes had silt all over them and everything else got soaked. The inside of the trailer had an inch or so of mud on the floor. Good thing they had a bike wash set up for the races, we used it to clean the mud off everything before we hauled it all home soaking wet. I guess we can call ourselves lucky. Our only real equipment loss was one tent frame. Some people lost bikes, tents, equipment, and as you will see later, cars.

Ah, the Hermann stairs. I hate stairs. Stairs are worse than running.

The Hermann course is really good. I personally have a real love/hate relationship with it. On one side it's long straights on soft grass, and on the other side it's tight and technical. Overall I would say that it would favor my technical skills in the tight stuff. The best part of the course was a 4 board section that you could bunny hop over at speed. The board were low and if you hit it really fast you didn't need to pedal between boards and you would still have good exit speed. Fun!

This was my first time at the Hermann Cross and even with all of the rain it was a blast. The vibe at the race is really good. Live music blasting, grills cooking, beer and wine all around(this is wine country after all). I definitely want to come back again next year and try it with a little less rain. Best of all Saturday is a night race, I love racing at night!

And then there's this. This had to be the biggest victim of the flood. See the debris hanging from the side mirror, the water was half way up the windows at the peak of the flood. At least the bikes on the roof didn't go underwater but I have no idea what was in the Mesa Cycles trailer. As we were pulling out Shadd stopped by as the tow truck was hooking up and saw 2 or 3 inches of mud on the front seats! Bummer, that's a total loss. If you want to see a few pictures of the flood and what this rig looked like under water look here at what the local paper had to say.

So I'm exhausted and I only raced for 2 laps this weekend. Not what I was looking for going into the first USGP next weekend but at least the 2 laps were good laps. Next week should be OK but until then I'm going to be busy rebuilding bikes!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Curse you Katie Horner!!!!!!! / 12 dopers

I don't know why I watch Katie Horner and the Channel 3 disaster channel crew. Once again I was watching the forecast of imminent flash floods and as you might guess, I get a little freaked out. But I'm prepared, sandbags and plastic to put between the sandbags and the house. Water can run 6 inches up the house and I'm good. The problem is that it gets a little old slinging sandbags around in the rain when it doesn't flood. Now I know that past history dictates that water has only reached the house twice in the last 20 years but we are just now finishing the final touches on the family room. Oh well, maybe the city will get around to fixing the problem one of these days.
I read an article in Velonews that states that the USADA is preparing cases against 15-25 US riders. The crazy thing is that the riders are Pro, Elite, and even Masters. The article said that the riders were not caught doping during a blood or urine test, but are being charged with possession due to the information provided by former Pro Joe Papp. Papp was busted for supplying riders with doping products and is working with authorities.
Steve is pretty hot and you can see it in his blog here. I guess I shouldn't be surprised when they mention masters as there was an article just a month or so ago about a masters rider who was busted. I just don't get it. I'm 10 day's away from my 50th birthday and as I've aged I have more and more health related issues. I have a hard enough time keeping healthy with out mail ordering some drug from a shady pharmacy. No thanks, I plan on living a long time and hanging out with the wife and kids. Craziness........
Kind of reminds me of something I heard in the Giro Pro 1-2 race at Gateway Cup. At one point a rider was yelling at another rider that he was riding like an amature. Huh, out of the 150 riders in the race I bet there was about 12 pro riders. Should of reminded him that where we were in the group I could of pretty much bet that there were no Pro riders anywhere near us. I would of said something but at that point I was breathing through my eyeballs!
2 day till the first cross race. 1 set of wheels left to glue, other team bikes fixed or built, I might even have time to get my bike off the hook and fix it. I hope I have all the parts!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Source Endurance / KCCX Cross Clinic

Last weekend was the official beginning of the cross season for me. We had a cross clinic that was fun for everybody there. The only bummer is that I didn't have enough time to ride as I was too busy setting up bikes with Reynolds wheels. At least one of my bike finally got off the hook in the garage.

Some of the guys got in a few hot laps like Joe, seen here ripping a off camber turn.

Getting lined up for for one of the play races. Time to use the skills they spent the day learning.

Small groups for the classes were in session most of the day.

Nice course with off cambers, elevation changes, tricky turns. Matlock and I taught the good line, the bad line, and the passing line, in some of the corners.
So cross is definitely in full swing. I'm so busy building bikes and gluing tubies that I'm just about done with cross before it even gets started. This weekend is the first race for the team and even though we are a bit behind in preparations we will be ready to race. I guess it's a good warm up for the first USGP.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Photos from the week

This was after the last Tue worlds. Stopped off in the parking lot for a beer before heading out to Quik Trip to get a tall boy for the ride home. Good year at the crit, nice weather and record attendance.

Finally getting around to reinstalling the cabinets in the computer hutch. Looks like the counter top got warped in the time it was in the garage, bummer.

The cross team got the last shipment of Reynolds wheels. Right now I'm in the middle of gluing 15 sets of wheels.

That's a bunch of Challenge tires! All of them partially glued and all most ready to go on. We have every tread pattern they make and soon a new one.

That was my number last week for the Pro 1-2 race at Gateway Cup. The field limit was 150 and we were very close every day.
Better get cracking, a house to get finished, tires to glue, and cross bikes to build.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gateway Day 3, Tue Worlds, & Cross Clinic

The last day of Gateway Cup was held in a southern suburb of Benton Park. Pretty nice area right off of I-55 and right next to the Budweiser plant. The course is a new one this year but looked to be pretty cool, 1.7 mi with 10 turns. We got to the venue a little early to check out the course and it was going to be fun.....and really hard. Definitely a race to be near the front as long as possible.

The race started with 137 riders and I heard that it didn't take long for people to start popping off the back. I got a pretty bad start and ended up way further back than I wanted to be. For the first 30 min or so of the race I kept working my up to get near the front of the field. Finally I got up into the top 15 and coming around the last turn I was on the wheel of a Kenda Pro rider. He was following an attack up the side of the group and I followed him all the way up the hill into the first turn. Now this is good and bad, good is that I made the break, bad is that I got popped out of the break 1 turn later. Mow the problem is that I'm totally gassed and the field is in full chase mode. There was no chance that I could recover in time for me to hang on to the field. I tried to stay on but after 2 laps of dangling I finally popped. I figured that I'd keep on riding just to try and get some fitness. Little did I know that only 40 or so of the riders that started finished the race. I made it to 10 laps to go before I got pulled .

Overall I would have to say that it was a good weekend of racing. My teammates all had good races and after doubling up in the Pro 1-2 and Masters races I did 6 races in 4 days. I would think that would do something for my fitness.

Yea, it was like that just about every Pro 1-2 race. Mouth open and looking for more air, even the Kenda Pro guys were doing it.
Tue Nite Worlds Results:
  1. Shadd Smith
  2. Mark Cole
  3. Christian Beattie
  4. Scott Stevens
  5. Jeff Seese

Final Overall Points:

Shadd Smith 76
Mark Cole 39
Joe Schmalz 36
Nick Coil 20
Christain Beattie 17
Phil Gronniger 13
Andy Chocha 11
David Hedjuk 11
Bill Marshall 10
Andrew Coe 9
Ben Stover 8
Tom Price 7
Jason Knight 7
Scott Stevens 7
Paul Fancher 6
Matt Ochs 5
Walt Bleser 5
Brian Bradley 4
Matt Ankeny 4
Brian Jensen 3
Steve Songer 3
Josh Crow 2
Bill Stolte 2
Joe Houston 2
Doug Plumer 2
Adam Mills 2
John Pahlman 2
Pete Greig 2
Jeff Seese 2
Doug Obershaw 1
Last but not least...............the road season is officially over, NOW IT'S TIME FOR CROSS!!!!!!!!!!!
On that note this Saturday is the Source Endurance/KCCX Cross Clinic. The plan is to give a little more emphasis on how to go fast along with some basic skills. Should be fun so come on out.
Having a little trouble with the flyer, check it out here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gateway: The Giro

Serious business at the start today, check out those faces as we wait for the starters whistle in the Pro 1-2 race. Today was another double up day for me, Masters and then the Pro 1-2. The Giro course is a long rectangle with a uphill on the backside and a downhill to the finish. A major factor in the race was going to be the stiff headwind on the backstretch and going up the hill. In the Masters race the pace was pretty fast from the gun but then a few laps into the race there was a crash and the race was stopped to get an ambulance on the course. After the delay they shortened the race but the crashes continued. It seemed that there were people coming out of the wheel pit every lap but the crashes were all behind me. In the end the sprint started up the hill on the backside and I thought I was sitting behind a strong sprinter. I recognised the guy as a previous winner in the 3's race but 50yards from the line he quit pedaling. I had to jump again to get going and in the process got passed by 4 guys before we hit the line. 7th, still not bad but for the 2nd day hesitating for a split second cost me some places. Still, I can't complain, 7th out of 104 isn't so bad.

The kids races here are huge! Pretty cool to see so many kids on bikes and having a good time.

Here's the view on the back side of the course. What you are seeing is the Pro 1-2 field strung out, single file, like it was for most of the night. I started out near the front of the field and hung out near the front for the first 1/3 of the race. I was feeling pretty good and the pace was really fast. After a while I started to get tired and tried to conserve energy and stop fighting for position. The problem with going further back in the field is that it just gets harder and harder to stay with the group. To say that the race was fast is a bit of an understatement, on the tailwind side I was spun out in a 12 going 40+ mph and at least 30 to 35 on the backside going into the wind. Bottom line is that it was really hard to recover at any point in the race. I really don't have any idea where I finished, somewhere 2/3's of the way back, but it really doesn't matter. The Pro 1-2 races are giving me a killer workout to get me ready for cross.

So today is the last day of the Gateway Cup, a 1.75 mile circuit race. I decided yesterday to only do the Pro 1-2 race and see what happens. My legs are tired but I guess everybody else is as well. As a side note I guess I have the distinction of being the oldest guy in the Pro 1-2 race per the race announcers. Not sure if that's good or bad but I do know that Tilford is about the same age and he's top 10 everyday. We are also in the same age group in cross so it gives me a ton of motivation to do these races and bump up my fitness.

Today is going to be interesting, more wind on a longer circuit, we shall see.....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gateway Cup: Day 2

Day two, the St. Louis Hills Crit. Today's course is a wide open 4 corner crit, wide open as in about 6 lanes wide all the way around. It's one of those courses that you really don't need to use your brakes at all. Once again the weather was beautiful, it actually felt cool at times.

I started the day out doing the Masters race. 70 or so riders with a fair number of pretty fast guys. With the course being so wide open breaks usually don't go away but you need to pay attention, it happened last night. I was a little nervous as the race started as I crashed pretty hard here last year and it ended up taking me off the bike for a month. Like last night the race was either blazing fast or crawling along but overall it was pretty fast. I had pretty good position going into the last lap but the field slowed and bunched up going with 2 turn to go causing a huge crash. Luckily I was just ahead of the crash and still in good position. Going into the last turn I was sitting about 5th when we again slowed and I hesitated when I should of attacked. That moment of hesitation moved me back to about 15th place going into the sprint where I ended up 11th. Kind of a bummer, felt pretty good but blew the finish.

Looking at the course in the morning I decided it would be a good time to double up and do the Pro 1-2 race. I went and signed up and got number 140, the field limit is 150. The race itself is long, 75 minutes, but with that many guys the draft is going to be pretty strong. Doubling up is tough in itself but I felt pretty confident that I could handle it. The joy of racing a Pro 1-2 race is that it's smooth and fast, not the constant accelerations out of every turn that you get in the masters races. Going in I was a little nervous but I soon found that I could move around in the pack pretty easy. A few time I was able to grab a wheel and roll off the front in a small group. The race itself was defined by a breakaway that got away early and stayed away. In the end I was still feeling pretty good and thought about getting a good finish. With 2 laps to go I was behind Tilford and Stolte from the Tradewind Energy/ Trek stores team and in pretty good position. Things went from good to bad when Stolte got blocked and Steve disappeared. Oh well, came in with the field. Overall it was good speed work that should pay off later in the cross season. Tilford has a good write up from the race on his blog.

Jay from the TREK Stores riding at the front of the Pro 1-2 race.

Today is race at the Hill, an old Italian neighborhood that has been hosting this race for the last 25 years. I'm going to double up again but this course is a bit more selective so it's going to be a bit harder . Time for some chow.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gateway Cup: Day 1

I might have a picture in my camera from last night but I kind of doubt it. It was dark and the field in the Pro 1,2 was moving fast. I decided to do the Masters race and it was a whole lot like the last Tue KC crit, slow then fast, strung out and then all bunched up. It was pretty windy so nobody wanted to take pulls into the wind the whole race. With about 10 minutes to go a break got away just after I had gotten pulled back from a break. We had about 80 guys in the field and got shuffled back a ways when I heard the announcer say that there were 5 guys up the road. Oh well, I was way off my game anyway. It seems like I never ride well at this race so we'll have to see how today goes.

I'll see how the pictures look and post more tonight. We race early today so we may actually get to get dinner and hang out a bit. I don't have any idea what the results were in the Pro 1,2 race were other than our new National Pro champ Dan Holloway won and Tilford was 7th. Our crew of Bill, Logan, and Choch all rode well and stayed safe. I'll check results and post later tonight.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cross on the brain

It seems like there are tons of people with cross on the brain. As in that's all they are thinking about these days. I see that up in Omaha and Lincoln they have been having training races for the last few weeks and everybody in the KC area are getting their bikes ready.

Hmmmm, not me. Not yet. True, I've been working on some team stuff, but my bikes, what you see is what you get. Just like last year they are still hanging on their hooks in the garage. Just like they have been since they came off the trailer last December.

This is my primary bike. Still has the ripped bar tape, broken brake lever, and flat tubies from the starting line crash at Nationals. Poor bike only made it 10ft before it hit the deck and got carried to the pit. Ah.......the memories.

Anyway, with todays media I all ways get a little nervous when I read about all of the training that people have been doing for cross. Seems like I never get going until after Gateway Cup but that's part of the training plan this year. Still........

By the way, probably be selling my cross bikes fairly soon. 1 TREK XO with Alpha Q fork and Sram Rival parts. 1 TREK XO Frame/Alpha Q fork, both of them are 56cm. Don't worry, I'm not trying to sell the one with the scuffed up parts!

Gotta, go....... time to register for Gateway Cup before it closes, still waffleing on what races to do........decisions, decisions.....