Sunday, October 26, 2008

Talking Strategy

Originally uploaded by bmpskier
Chris and me chatting with Jake pre ride.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ready for DCCX

Most of my stuff for tomorrow is ready to go. The car is clean and the girl's bikes are packed up. I know where all my clothes are and I am as much as I can figure ready to get the bikes on the car and roll out.

I think we (the Proteus team) are going to be rocking the pre-Halloween vibe with some zombie make-up on the course tomorrow. I also swung by Target tonight and picked up a nice pair of green and yellow argyle knee-high socks to roll with tomorrow. Between the 8 hours or rain we got today, the great food and beer at the ride and cool pre-Halloween vibe, it should be a blast at the ride tomorrow. Between my afternoon nap and my anticipation of tomorrow's ride I am going to have a bit of trouble getting to sleep tonight.

Anyway, here's the course we'll be riding tomorrow.

Post Crash at Granogue

Originally uploaded by charmcty velo
Yeah between the road rash and a little damage to the knuckles it was a rough race. Things are feeling better thought and I feel ready for DCCX.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Make Mine a Double

This weekend was 'cross times two - Granogue on Saturday and Wissahickon on Sunday.  It was a blast of a weekend and a TON of cross fun!

So the weekend plan was such - ride up Saturday morning arrive ~ 8:00 a.m., reg, pre-ride, race, drink beer, watch pros, eat lunch, camp, get up get to Wiss at 8:00 a.m., pre-ride, race and go home.  For the most part the weekend went according to plans, but it certainly wasn't as simple as it sounds above.

Lets start with our friends at Google.   I am a big fan of Google - I use reader, I use GoogleGroups at my kids religious school, I can't live without GMail.  What exactly does Google have to do with cyclocross.  Well nothing really, but Chris, myself and probably 30 of the riders in the Mens Cat4 C can attest to the fact that GoogleMaps has absolutely no idea how to find 2900 Monchanin Rd.  As Chris (Chris rode up with me Sat a.m.) and I make the last turn on the the list of GoogleMaps directions we drove for about 3 miles and start to wonder why we've passed the prescribed 2.1 miles yet haven't seen a field full of bicycles.  We ride a little farther and see a car with two bikes on the top.  Ah-ha these guys must be going to the race.  We'll follow them.

Yeah.  They're lost too.  They pull into someone's driveway we talk for a few minutes and follow them some more, thinking for whatever reason they might know where they're going.   The guy's driving like a nut and we eventually get dropped.

But look more guys with bikes. Surely they know where the race is...and they pull into a church driveway.  Ok.  Time to brake out the GPS.  Chris cranks up the GPS in his phone, puts in the address and we figure we can put this excellent adventure to bed.  We tell the other lost guys to follow us and we'll be off.  I proceed to do a 3 point turn to turn the Corolla around.  1 - 2 - crunch.  Yeah I wasn't so much looking out the rear window

And I backed into the other guys car.

And broke Chris's bike off my rack.

Onto the other guys hood.

Fortunately we were being followed by the coolest guys in the world and the guy was like "I'm not worried about the car, how are the bikes."  Turns out that Chris' bike was ok and the cool guy tossed it on his rack and we headed to the race.

We made it to the race, but not nearly as early as we would have like.  Chris had to beg them to re-open registration so he could race and so many folks had gotten lost by the crappy directions that the promoters had to bump the start back time 15 minutes.   All this before the race started.

As for the race.  Since we were late, I only got to take a quick pre-ride of about half the course.   Even if I had had a really nice pre-ride it would have been hard to be prepared for the race.  It was very challenging and highly technical.  There were a number of off-camber runs integrated into switchbacks.   There was also a long run on the side of hill that was the cause of one of my two crashes on Saturday.  It wasn't anything super exciting but I did end up whipping out on a turn and jamming my knee into my top tube and as I found out after the race running my calf along one of my chainrings.   It was a race where my inexperience as a cross rider really showed.  I just haven't ridden enough to be able to intuit how to attack certain turns and runs.  I imagine that when I go back to Granouge in the next couple years I'll be able to acquit myself better on the technical parts of the course.

I also left a little bit of skin in Delaware.  There was a turn that transitioned out of grass across some asphalt and onto some dirt.  As I made the turn out of the grass and across the asphalt, the bike came completely out from under me.  I slid my right hand across the asphalt taking the skin off of two knuckles and my index finger and got a nice patch of road rash on my right thigh.

I am puzzled though.  I was wearing bib short (spandex) and the shorts weren't shredded but my thigh has a good 4 inch circular abrasion where the skin has been removed.  (Jim promised pictures)  I understand the part on my hand - the road sanded off some skin.  Simple enough.  But what happened to my thigh?  The spandex - which I can't imagine is any more durable than skin - wasn't harmed, but my thigh looks like crap.  Is the road rash on my leg really a friction burn from the spandex rubbing down my leg?  Regardless it still hurts and probably won't heal well.

More importantly though, was the reaction I got from folks.  Right as I went down I got a "COME ON - GET UP - GO GO GO" from a woman standing nearby.  This was awesome.  Seriously.

It was a combination of "you're a bad ass and you can do it" and "no lollygagging Proteus this is a cross race" and "come on that wasn't so bad."   It was actually really inspiring to have someone yell at/for/to me after I crashed.  It wasn't the worst crash in the world, but feeling sorry for myself certainly wasn't an option.  Anyway, I got up and went.   And felt good about it. 

I finished 84th out of 90.  Not too bad.  Not great by any measure, but it was a ton of fun.

We hung out and watched Shaun from the team race the Mens B.   It was a blast.  He's hardcore and raced really well.  Was hoping to see him bunny-hop some barriers, but that'd probably be pushing it in a race.  He rode really hard.  Kicked some hill butt and looked great.  Here's some video below.

We grabbed a couple free beers and then headed out for lunch.  Jim delivered with some local turkey burger excellence.   I was able to snag some licorice taffy and we rolled back and watched the pros.  This was the first pro race that we watched and it was inspiring and demoralizing simultaneously.  These guys killed this course for an hour and they made the parts of the race that made my lungs burn look like nothing.  These guys were just amazing.   It was incredible impressive to see these guys put in such a strong showing for so long.  Reinforced how much I suck. ;-)

That night was not nearly as eventful as the morning.   We didn't have too much difficulty finding the campground and Chris made some yummy veggies and we hit the sack.

The morning was COLD.  There was frost on Chris' sleeping bag when he woke up.  My car thermometer said 38 degrees when we broke camp and headed for Wissahickon.  

Getting to Wissahickon was no problem.  We got there and even though the sun was out it wasn't much warmer.  It had warmed up to maybe 42 by the time we got there but there was a fair bit of wind and it was just biting cold.   I mean COLD.   Not too cold to ride, but boy am I luck I decided to throw my leg warmers into the bag just in case.  As cold as it was though I was still sucking wind heading around the course.

Wiss was a completely different course than Granogue.  It was much flatter and a bit faster, but still quite hard.   The race took place at a horse show fairground.  One of the obstacles was the course sand-pit that the horses perform in.  The first couple laps in this I ran the course and this sucked alot of juice out of me.  By the fourth lap the sand had been packed pretty well and I was able to ride the whole pit which saved me alot of time.

The highlight of the course had to be a "death spiral" where riders came in a circular spiral and went back out through the spiral again in the opposite direction.  It was really cool to see. (photos above and right by Dennis Smith)

Somehow the officials missed my finish and listed me DNF -Did not Finish.  Fortunately Jim was able to estimate that I finished somewhere around 80th.

All in all a great weekend and I will definitely do it again next year, but I think I'll go up the night before, get better maps, and stay at a hotel.

Photos from this weekend

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today's quote of day

Anncouncer as I passed start/finish on lap 3:
There's a Proteus riding with his mouth hanging open like a goldfish trying to get oxygen.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Quote of day

From the announcer at Granouge during the pro race:
"They're knocking on doors like ACORN trying to register voters."

The Stats Live From Grangoue Cross

84th out of 90 finishers - a slight improvement still not DFL
3 skinned knuckles
2 crashes
1 broken rack on the car
1 patch on road rash on the left thigh.
0 blown chains!
Lots of smiles

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Proteus Rocks!!

So I rolled out of the office and headed up to Patapsco Valley State Park for some singletrack trail riding with the cyclocross bike.  I sounded like a good idea and I figured in spite of the hour long ride out of the way to head up to Baltimore for the ride it would be worth it for the change of scenery and different terrain.   

I got up there and got out on the trail and was exploring around the park having a blast.  I was enjoying myself and about 15 minutes in really hitting my grove. My legs were warm and I was really having a good time.  Then my chain stopped wanting to turn.  I couldn't make the pedal go around.  As you might imagine this is a ride limiting problem.  Somehow on one of the climbs I broke one of the links on the chain.  

In addition to being a bit pissed that I was going to have to have work done on my bike I was pretty bummed that a good ride just came to an end and I was on the other side of the park and about a mile away from my car with a none working bike.  It looked like my day was offically in the crapper. 

So I finally got back to the car and I rang the guys at Proteus up and asked them if they'd be able to fix the chain before Thursday's practice.  They said they should be able to and bring it by ASAP.  Well I rolled back down to Washington, took Yakkov into the shop and one master link and an unbending of the bent small chain ring and I was out the door with a good as new bike in under 15 minutes.  The guys there were great and took awesome care of me.  I was able to have th bike back up and running and headed over to the College Park campus to get in some 'cross training before it got dark.

I was totally stoked.  These guys were great and salavaged an otherwise crappy evening for me.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Towpath

So I haven't been posting alot recently but I have been getting in some riding.  I've been putting on some miles and if all goes well I should finish the year with roughly 3000 miles.   A decent number.  I'd love to ride more but I don't seem to make enough time to ride.  Really need to focus on my time management skills.

Anyway though, the C&O Towpath is my latest great DC discovery.  I've lived in the DC area for ~10 years and while I've known the towpath existed - heck I would see the first mile or so of it on the zillion times I headed out the CCT - I've only been on it once.  The only time I was on it was a few years ago was on my road bike.  A road bike just simply isn't well suited to handling the C&O.  Its a hard ride and takes a toll on your arms and neck and is generally unpleasant.  

A ride on the C&O on the Yaakov (the new name for my bike) on the other hand is wonderful.  Josh from the Proteus team lead a practice ride with me last week after work and it was a blast.  Yaakov is able to mute the bumps from the towpath, but you still get a decent paced right that doesn't raddle your fillings out.  Its really the perfect ride for the path.  The hard-pack makes you work, but the ride is super enjoyable.  I went back during the day a couple days after the ride with Josh and the scenery was beautiful.  The water in the canal was scerene and mirrored the folliage above that was starting to turn.  After you get a couple miles out of DC the trees and the distance quiet all the city sounds and you feel like you're in a the middle of the forest.  Its really a wonderful ride and its a shame I hadn't done it sooner. 

The only downside was that a recent storm cut out part of the towpath and a portion of the canal had to be drained.  Its not the end of the world and the area is still beautiful, but it is a little odd to see trees and grass growing in the bottom of a canal.

All in all though its one of the most beautiful places in the district.   I'm certainly going to be spending more time on it and maybe -- maybe --  next year I will endeavor to take on the whole 184 miles of the C&O in one day.  Maybe.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hutchinson Tires Urban Video 2008

I've ridden Hutchinson's and have been pretty happy with them -- they never made me this hip, but they're great tires.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Seagull 2008

Well compared to previous Seagull Centuries, this one was marvelous. Last time I rode Seagull it was rainy, windy, 45 degrees and gross. Saturday on the other hand was between 60 and 70 degrees, relatively not-windy and sunny. It was a beautiful day for a ride.

trapped in TrappeGetting down to Salisbury was a bit of a hassle. I picked up Josh at his house around 3:45 and we headed east. All was fine until we got to Trappe, MD. Turns out there was some kind of traffic jam along US50. Why there was traffic on 50 so early in the day so late in the year is a bit of a mystery, but we were able to bail off onto a side road and avoid probably a half an hour of the hour long back up. Once we got past the "trap" in "Trappe" we rolled into Cambridge, MD where were were greeted by two wrecks in 3 blocks. Not much we could do but sit through them and wait. We finally arrived in Salisbury and were pleased to discover that the hotel was nice enough and that we weren't too terribly far from the start. We were able to catch up with some Teammates from Tahoe and grab a bite at the Applebee's before heading back to the hotel and getting our gear ready for the next day. (how Applebees "supposedly" ran out of broccoli and mixed veggies though is still a mystery - Tim at my table had broccoli and mixed veggies - why didn't I.)

The Ride
It started out really well. We rolled out at roughly 7:30. It was a bit chilly, but I decided to still go with the short sleeve jersey - mostly because Seagull doesn't organize a bag pickup and once it warmed up I'd be carrying the long sleeve jersey all day.

Took me about the usual 10 miles to get my legs warm. Josh and I had decided in advance that we were going to blow through the first rest-stop and head right to the second stop at mile 40. That was a good call. At roughly mile 30 we were able to jump on with a group of roughly 50 guys from the DC area. It was the same group of guys who get together the weekly down at Hains Point. It was a ton of fun getting in the group with them and trying to hang. The sound inside a group that large is pretty amazing. Just a solid whirling of spokes going through the air. I was able to hang for maybe 5 miles and then my legs told me I just wasn't ready to hang with these guys long term yet. I slowly slipped out of the middle towards the back and was finally got spit out. I think I went through almost all the stages described in this email I got a few years ago.
1. DENIAL --- "I'm not getting dropped. It's just a little gap and I can
catch up, no problem".

2. ANGER --- "I can't believe they're dropping me! Oh, they're going to
pay for this, when I catch them."

3. BARGAINING --- "Please God, give them a head wind or a traffic light
to make them stop or slow down, and I promise to spend tomorrow playing
with the kids."

4. DEPRESSION --- "I'm not any good at cycling. I should sell my bike
and start playing golf. I don't think my cycling buddies like me

5. ACCEPTANCE --- "Ok. I'm dropped. Guess I had better just enjoy the
ride. It would have been fun riding with them, but maybe I'll catch them
at the next rest stop or even meet some new friends."

After riding with those guys and getting dropped I caught up with Josh at the second rest stop and we got in an out of there pretty quickly. The third 20 mile leg of the ride was pretty uneventful. I hopped onto a paceline and chugged it into Assateague. The food there was good and they had some great cranberry walnut bread which got me fired back up to head out and hit the next 40 miles.

Mile 80 delivered some pie and ice cream. Good yummy stuff and lots of empty calories to drag me through to the end of the ride. The last 40 were largely uneventful. We definitely saw some tapering off of our pace, but that's to be expected considering all the miles we had put in that day.

Fortunately though we were able to maintain a pace of 19.0 mph over 100 miles - and start to finish in 6 hours. This was pretty satisfying considering the most recent long ride before Seagull was the labor day ride. Josh and I didn't quite make our 20 mph over 100 goal but we came pretty darn close.

Most definitely a great ride and alot of fun!