Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekend

Did some post turkey-day riding down at Wakefield yesterday with Chris from the Proteus team. Good riding led to the discovery of some more trails in Wakefield. Nice to get a work out in and burn off some of the bird.

Wakefield has its pros and cons. Its a decent sized but not so large that you can get lost. We spent an hour and a half there yesterday and it was pretty good and interesting riding (except for the end-o crossing the bridge). Its a bit of a hike from Annapolis and I could certainly see doing the same trails over and over again could get boring.

Patapsco on the other hand has a much larger variety of trails (something like 180 miles of trails) and is much closer. Unfortunately I have no real idea of where I am going when I am in Patapsco - so for the time being unless I want to commit a fair bit of time to just kicking around the park there, I risk riding and getting all turned around in the woods. Not the worst fate in the world but definitely a possibility and one I need to keep in mind.

Hopefully I'll be able to get some riding in this weekend with Jake. Both Rockburn/Patapsco and Wakefield are doable with the cross bike so its definitely a go to head to either one of those places. We'll see what he's interested in doing this weekend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day Trails on the Cross Bike

First, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I have been blessed with many things to be thankful for - wonderful kids, a great GF, awesome friends, a great job and a by and large great life. I hope both of the people who read my blog have at least as many things to be thankful for.

Since I plan on hitting the bird pretty hard tonight and making some sweet potatoes my bi-atch in a few hours, I figured that it was probably wise to get in some miles on the bike today before I got some miles in at the dinner table.

Being that its always more fun to ride with another person I was able to hook-up with Jim from the Proteus team and put in some miles at the Rockburn Branch Park and the Patapsco Valley State Park. Jim's ridden here a bunch of times (including at the cross race hosted here earlier this year) so he really knew his way around the trails.

It was great fun to take the cross bike out on the trails and kick around in the dirt a little bit. The trail wasn't too harsh so it was pretty manageable with the cross bike. There were a couple spots where I had to dismount and run over the logs, but that's good cross practive. There were also a bunch of spots where I could lift the front wheel and get over the log. There were even a couple fun water crossings where I got to get wet and be a kid!

A great ride and a wonderful way to spend two hours before Turkey-day. Jim was a blast and a ton of fun to ride with. He also turned me on to some rides early next year that could be a good focus for my post-cross season riding.

BTW: 2861 miles this year - not as many as I need but not a bad number and definately within striking distance of the 3000 goal.

Map of Today's ride:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Broke Bike Mountain

This is a very expensive way to DNF.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wonderland Cross Report

Well let's get this out of the way up front. I DFLd. It was a small race and a good crop of folks but I certainly would have liked to have finished higher. I know there was a guy behind me who wasn't on the print out - likely DNF'd - but when the listing comes out on Bikereg I will in all likelihood be listed last.

In spite of my poor place I had fun and I think I learned a fair bit today.

Wonderland Cross 002
Elite Masters Getting Snowed On
First some background. It was cold. When I dragged my butt out of the car to head over to sign in it was below 30 degrees out -- more in the 25 degree area -- and the wind was occasionally whipping around. It snowed maybe 1/2 inch in Lancaster Friday so there was a nice coating of snow on the course when I got there. This made for a course that after a few laps got a bit muddy in spots and occasionally got crunchy where the muddy spots refroze. I was even lucky enough to get to ride while it was snowing during my last lap. See the photo to the right of the guys from the next race who got even more snow.

All in all my race wasn't too bad. I was pleased to see that under race conditions the improved technique that I worked on at Thursday's practice would actually work. I was able to remount and get my feet back to the pedals pretty quickly - much quicker than before -- almost. Unfortunately the conditions and my inexperience kept me from translating the smooth remount into a quick pedal away.

Unfortunately after a couple dismounts and run-ups the bottoms of my shoes were packed with snow and grass and mud - unfortunately so were my pedals. This made it extremely difficult to get my cleats back into the pedals. This slowed me down quite a bit on one of the uphills. I actually ended up getting off my bike at one point trying to clear things out and get moving again. This ended up being a huge time waste. In hindsight - in the car on the way back to Annapolis in fact - I figured out that I should have just ignored the screwed up pedals and cleats and pedaled along like they were flat-pedals and just waited for things to work out. Lesson learned. I'll know what to do next time I get out there in some cold and wet conditions.

Wonderland Cross 016
Brakes in this condition don't stop well
Another big take-away was that cantilevered brakes don't tend to grab so well when they're coated with mud and snow and ice. I noticed this before I rolled out of the start after the pre-ride but I really discovered it in one of the corners. I was on the way down one of the down-hills and came into a corner and started to touch the breaks so that I could take the turn - BUT WHOA - WAIT, what's this! NO BRAKES! That's a fine how-do-you-do. I tried my damnedest to take the turn sans brakes but between the muddiness of the grass and my not the greatest cornering skills I took the corner sans bike. Fortunately I just slid across some grass (upside of the wet course) and was able to get back up and get on the bike and roll out relatively quickly. I rode the rest of the course anticipating that my brakes would be a bit soft in the corners and did fine.

While I was certainly not pleased with my placing I certainly learned a few things and had a great time riding on a good course and enjoyed some authentic cross weather. On to Tacchino tomorrow.

DFL

Oh well -- I know there was at least one guy behind me who DNFd -- full race report to come.   Its cold out.

Argyle sock?

Was undecided on the argyle sock but its too damn cold not to put another pair on.....its cold.  Hands shaking.   Typing hard...

In Intercourse

This title will I am sure send my hits through the roof.  Anyway pervs there is nothing good in this post.

I goofed and assumed that becuase every other race I've ever done starts 9am that this one would too...so I planned my morning to get me here at 8am.  Well I arrived early and before I headed to the course I looked at the flyer for the race - CRAP - 10am start.

Not the end of the world - I found an Amish diner in Intercourse down the street from the course and am relaxing and having a bowl of oatmeal.   

Today's race should be fun - there is a coating of snow on the ground and its roughly 27 degrees - perfect cross weather.  No idea what the course will be like but if I like it - and there's a discount - I may do the 35+ masters race and do two today - although that might not be smart with Tacchino tomorrow morning.

Off to find a bank of america and head to the couse.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Getting Better

Hopefully I'm getting a little bit better. I had a pretty good practice last night. While the turn out was relatively small - just Ben, myself and a guy named Jeff from Boston it turned out pretty well. We spent the first part of the evening doing some runs of the normal evening course - lots of technical stuff and some off camber runs. We spent the last half of the evening practicing mounting and dismounting the bike.

This is where I think I actually probably improved my riding a decent bit. It was one of those moments where once something was explained you go "Oh yeah that makes sense...of course it works that way." Jeff was able to explain last night that when I dismount/remount I need to stop worrying about the bike. A little background. During 'cross there are various barriers you encounter that require you to get off your bike and carry it or lift it over the barrier. When you've cleared the barrier you have to speedily get back on your bike and get back to pedaling. If you have the energy this is best done while running - fast. Usually you'll have one hand on the top of the handlebars and one hand on the saddle or the top tube while you're running.

What Jeff pointed out was that the bike's going to be moving along side of you at the same speed you're moving and it will keep up with you. "Ignore the bike - the bike will be there." Therefore you don't need to look at it to see where you're going to jump but rather just need to jump into the saddle and between inertia and your running, in all likelihood the saddle will be under your ass when you land. It actually worked really well last night I was able to get onto my bike faster and get back to pedaling a bit quicker...and I suspect that I looked a bit smoother getting onto the bike. We'll see how it all goes this weekend.

I'm looking forward to the races this weekend. I am feeling a bit under the weather right now, but I'll just have to do my best to shake it. Wonderland on Saturday should be alot of fun. It'll be small but it should be a good race - and according to weather.gov, Lancaster should have a 1/2 inch or so of snow on the ground today. Hopefully its all still on the ground tomorrow morning when I get up there.

More reports to come this weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Turchia di Domenica

Above is the course for this weekend.   Looks pretty decent.   It should be hilly though.  If you look at the terrain map below you can see that the park has some serious rolling terrain in it.
The email from the race states:
The course generally follows the contours of the park and includes quite a bit of elevation change, with fast downhills leading into steep climbs. Lap times will be between 7 and 8 minutes.
Which clearly means that I'll be spending significant time in the small chainring and will be dismounting and mounting frequently. If we get any rain on Friday or Saturday it should be really exciting.

Also interesting to note was:
We will have primes in nearly every race, including some unusual mid-pack primes in some races. Primes include gift certificates from Faccia Luna Restaurant, Hunter’s Head Pub in Upperville, VA, Bikereg.com cash primes, and subscriptions to Cyclocross Magazine.

• A special treat will be the “Suitcase of Sausage” prime; it’s like Phil Liggett’s “suitcase of courage,” only different.
Unlikely I win this. Its a shame Josh Nadas - my teammate who works for the AJC isn't riding. I'd nominate him to receive it.

Bike Hero

This is pretty amazing. Keeping the biker's speed right - plotting out al the notes - not running into jogges! Kudos!!

Doing Two this Weekend

I am now registered for Wonderland Cross - which looks to be a relatively small race - with only 23 riders in the Men's Cat 4 C and Tacchino Ciclocross which looks like it will be a normal sized race with 63 riders currently registered.

Weather report calls for snow on Friday in Lancaster - maybe if all goes well there will still be some snow on the course on Saturday!!!

I'm hoping to squeeze in a couple more rides this year, but the season certainly is getting closer to wrapping. :-(

Sunday, November 16, 2008

When all you have is a hammer....

So you know the quote -- "When all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail." Well I'm starting to think the same is true with 'cross. When you've drank the kool-aid for cross, every place you ride starts to look like a cross race venue. Today's example was Quiet Water's Park in Annapolis. I spent all of my ride today thinking about how I could set up a great race at the park. Check out the map below:

View Larger Map
There are a bunch of great hills that could be used for either run-ups or off camber runs (nice long ridges). There's also a great trail that has been cut out of some of the wetlands that would be a nice little maybe 1/3 of a mile stretch and there is a great gazebo connects to a bridge that would make for a great feature in the race. (Check it out in StreetView below)

View Larger Map

Anyway, if there is anyone from Anne Arundel County Parks and Recreation reading the blog, kick me an email and we can talk about how we can work together to fill one of the holes in the 2009 MABRA November schedule. (Capital Bikes, Bike Dr. Annapolis, Pedal Pushers, HTO Annapolis, want to sponsor a race???)

In addition to hitting the trail today, I've been keeping up with practice and riding hoping that I can improve some of my finishes in the upcoming races this year. It looks like I've got at least 3 or 4 races left this year including Wonderland in Lancaster and Tacchino in Reston next weeked, Capital Cross in Dec, a couple other misc races and some yet to be announced goodness. Its been a great season so far and I'm looking forward to the remaining races. If all goes well, maybe it will rain and snow for the remaining races.