Monday, November 28, 2011

Jingle Cross

Another edition of Jingle Cross has come and gone and here I sit not sure just what to do next. I guess that's something for later in the post so I'll start with the races. It's kind of funny that I was checking the weather a few days before the race and I started whining to Mathgeek about the predicted cold, wet, windy conditions. She just looked at me and said, "I guess you will have REAL cross conditions this weekend". Ouch, that must mean just shut up and race. That statement actually isn't true, the KCCX crew has seen our share of muddy races this year when we have been on the road, it's just the local races that have not seen mud this year. In any case the weather on Friday was actually pleasant, 50 degrees with a little wind had me taking my number off my thermal skinsuit and putting it on a normal one after warming up. Conditions were really good and the course to my liking so I was ready to race. The only part of the course that I didn't like was the run-up but it was so steep that nobody was going fast up it. That's a good thing for this gimp. I races the Masters 45+ race that starts 1 minute after the 35+ race. Once we started it didn't take long to mix in with the 35+ race and I  managed work through some of the 35+ race and get into the lead of my race. The problem with mixing of the two races is that you never really have an idea of who is in your race and who isn't. I pretty much set a pace and stuck with it to the end for the win. Kind of nice since my fitness is pretty questionable right now.
Saturday dawned and it was a whole different ball game. The weather had changed and it had rained all night. On top of that the temps had dropped a bit. Even with the steady rain it wasn't too bad out, that is until just before my race when the wind changed to the north. Soon the temps dropped even more and a gusty cold wind popped up. As you can see in the picture above the course soon turned to sloppy mud and many of the climbs/descent's turned into runs. I'm no fan of the cold but the muddy conditions favor my style of riding so I was ready to race. After another good start I got into the lead and started stretching it out a bit. I was running the downhill switchbacks until the last pitch then jumping back on the bike. It worked great until the 3rd lap when I didn't get clipped back into my pedals. As I was trying to get clipped back in I hit a bump and went cartwheeling over the bars. There's a video below of Steve crashing at the bottom of the same hill. Anyway, I did a complete yardsale to the roar of the crowd and then jumped back on my bike only to find the front brake messed up. I got it fixed enough to get back to the pit and change bikes and that's when I found out my knee and ankle were tweaked pretty bad. It was bad when I went to change bikes and even worse when I hit the barriers. Game over, time to quit. It was just about then that I noticed I wasn't wearing my glasses anymore. Hmmmmm, I guess it's a good crash when you have to go back and look for your glasses!

Crop circles in Iowa! Actually It's the death spiral part of the course that was worn into the grass during the races.
Sunday came and it was cold but the rain had stopped, yea!!!! That didn't mean that the mud would be better, actually it was worse. It went from a soupy consistency to sticky peanut butter. Here is where having a good crew in the pits really makes a difference. Our teammate Logan and his dad worked the pits to perfection for Bill and I in the 35+/45+ race. We were changing bikes every lap and it makes a huge difference. I would dump off a muddy 30 pound bike that wouldn't shift well and pick a perfect bike. They would scramble to wash it, dry it, and make it work, all before I came around again in 9 minutes. Lap after lap they were ready and it worked, I won and Bill was 6th.

I don't know where I was for this! Actually there is a speedo/swimsuit/singlespeed charity race for a race sponsor. It's really fun to watch for a number of reasons and I'm kind of sad I missed it.

Below is something that you see quite a bit during the weekend. Mud mixing with pea gravel is not a good thing for bikes. Just one pebble in the der and jam it up and in a second you end up with what you see below. The bummer for this guy is that he has a destroyed electronic Dura Ace der and those are big $$$$$$$.
Here's the video of steve crashing. I crashed with a bit more speed about half way down the hill and ended up rolling through the tape. Found my glasses in the weeds near the bottom and now I have a black and blue ankle for my efforts.

The Specialized mechanics showing classic form in the pits. One ready to catch and one holding the clean bike. Once the exchange is made one guy washes the bikes while the other keeps track of the riders. You can see the other mechanics in the background looking for their riders. Lyne at PodiumInsight has a good article that she wrote on the subject here.

One of the best parts of the weekend is that both Joe and Kevin got UCI points. People with UCI points start in the front rows at UCI races like the USGP series. It's the difference between starting in the 3rd row of 8 riders vs the 10 row.

Now for that what next question I was referring to at the beginning of the post. Today is the day that I went in for a 2nd opinion on my knee. Last year there were 3 choices, cortisone, arthroscopic surgery, or joint replacement. Last year I chose to shoot it full of cortisone and muddle through the rest of the cross season. During the summer I really didn't have many problems with the knee during road season but as soon as cross started I had issues. So since the season has become such a disaster I decided to see what could be done and not worry about Nationals or Masters Worlds. Today I was told that my knee rates a 8/9 on a scale of 1-10 for knee replacement. In fact, if I were 60 or older he would schedule it for next week. If I decided today that I was done bike racing he said that it was a strong possibility he would just go ahead a do the surgery now regardless of my age. But mentally I'm just not done yet, I have been thinking about scaling back a bit so maybe the process has begun. Anyway, after much discussion with the surgeon today cortisone and arthroscopic surgery has been ruled out as they would be ineffective. There are really only two options, knee replacement or injections with some stuff called Orthovisc. So injections it is starting next week. For the next 3-4 weeks I'll be going in every Monday to get my knee shot full of goop. 

So that pretty much kills any hopes for Cross Nationals and most likely Masters Worlds. It all depends on how my knee reacts to the first injection. If you can't train you can't race so I'll just have to see what happens.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lincoln Cross Weekend

Last weekend I made the drive up to Lincoln with the family for the cross races and more importantly, to catch up with some folks we have not seen for a while. After making all most monthly trips to Lincoln for years we somehow found ourselves not making a trip for over a year. The cross races are all ways well run and fun but more than anything Mathgeek and I really wanted to get away for a little mini vacation. So off we went with a somewhat late start Saturday morning and headed to Lincoln. the grand plan was to get to the venue in time for me to do the Open race. We did make it in time but my head just wasn't in it, a little too rushed and just out of sync. Did a few laps of the course and found it quite a bit different that what we are used to at Pioneers park. At first call for line up I rolled over to the start to find that I was going to be in the back at the start. That was a bummer but I thought I could work my way up. Little did I know it would be all most impossible to pass in the first few laps and after jamming my front wheel into unmarked holes tyring to make passes my motivation was flagging. In fact, after a few laps I just quit at rode around for a few more laps taking a buck on one lap and a beer on the next. That's right, a beer, and I don't drink, it was that kind of day. But later in the evening things got much better good company and pizza at Yia Yia's.

Since I can't ride the cross bike I've been trying to ride the MTB for training. The trails at Swope  are in great shape this fall.

We had to run to the Nebraska Bookstore to pick up a few items of Husker Wear  and check out downtown and campus. Pretty amazing the changes from year to year not to mention the changes since I lived there. JoBro was unimpressed with campus, still a KU fan.

On to Sundays race. I did the Masters race since it was early and we wanted to get back to KC as early as possible. I didn't figure on the low temps and 17 degrees when I got up was a stunner. At least the sun  was out and the wind had died down. This time I got a better start position and got into the lead near the end of the first lap. Overall I had a pretty good race but I can tell my fitness is pretty suspect. Maybe it was the cold but it really took a while to get comfortable in the race and by that time my fingers were frozen. During the race it was hard to shift and after the race it was pretty pain full as they warmed up. Might have to get better gloves before next weekend. I was busy chatting and hanging out with some old friends and before I knew it I had to get going. Mathgeek and the kids decided to hang out at the hotel and go swimming while I was racing. Pretty smart considering the temperatures.

The drive to Lincoln was on I-29 and HWY 2, both were under water for most of the summer and it was pretty interesting to see what's left when the water goes away. Kind of a lesson for the kids.

So now it's time for Thanksgiving and then my annual trek to Iowa City and JINGLE CROSS! 3 days of racing in the cold, rain/snow, and sloppy mud. I'm just guessing it's going to be messy, I don't think I've ever been there and had dry conditions. As a bonus Nebraska plays Iowa on Friday and I should start my race Friday night just as the game ends. Should be an interesting weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A little catching up to do

Once again it's been a while since I've posted anything. What can I say, not too much positive stuff going on from the racing side. On top of that I managed to crush both my phone and my camera since my last post so I've been a little short on the equipment side. Cross season has been a disaster and the cross bikes didn't even leave the hook between the Ft.Collins USGP and the week before the GP in Louisville. I did a local race to see if my knee was going to function well enough to race and it held up pretty well. Louisville was a bust for a multitude of reasons so that leaves us with the Lincoln weekend this week and Jingle Cross the following week. It will be nice to get back to Lincoln and see some people we have not seen in a while.
Birdy at the Cinci C3 races

Kelly at the top of the Green Monster in Louisville. Yes, those steps really are that big!

cross and beer in Louisville

A barely ridden Trek/Volkswagen MTB came through the shop with an original Rocket Boy seat on it, brought back some memories.

Mark on a tear at eh BLVD Cup race here in KC

Tonight was pie night at the Cub Scout meeting. JoBro got pied a number of times. As a Boy Scout den leader he was a bit of a target.
BLVD Cup shot of me.

Maybe I'll have a few pictures after this weekend. There should be plenty to see on Hooligan hill, weather it will be suitable for the blog remains to be seen.