Friday, November 30, 2007

The Plan

Wisco's cross series has a special category for old guys new to cross: 40+ cat4s.
They also have a 40+ 1/2/3/4. The 40+ cat 4 race is only 30 minutes long whereas the other races I've done were all 45 minutes. I figure I'll do the first race and then maybe do the other 40+ at 1:00, depending on the condition of the course and my legs. It will be the first race of the day, 9:45 a.m., which makes for an early departure time.

Just an easy spin this a.m. No work other than some 30 second spin ups and then some yoga. Each year that passes, another part of my body gets creaky. Used to be my knees, but since I stopped running, that's gone. Now though, it's my shoulders. Every down dog/up dog is greeted with a creak in my right shoulder. This is the shoulder I landed on last summer when I crashed on the road.

The weather looks cold and wet: classic cross.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Go Foo

Trainer ride this a.m., legs felt quick. Sometimes I get on the trainer and just can;t get into a rythm. It just feels like I'm pedaling squares. Then, other times, like today, I find a natural cadence that just feels right.

Got Foo Fighter tix for 2/25/08- presale and scored great seats.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Head North

After some prodding, it looks as though I am going to venture north for the Wisco cross state championships on Sunday.

It will be good to get another race in before the Illinois race on the 9th.

Only trainer rides the last few mornings. 30 minute warm up with some spin ups to get the legs going and then 4 5 minute intervals, cool down. Takes about 75 minutes. Then yoga to keep things limber.

Intervals require a good tune to get me through. The perfect song is just a bit longer than the actual interval time so it will carry you through the start and end of the actual interval. Right now, my 2 favorite interval songs are Auto Pilot and Better Living Through Chemistry by Queens of the Stone Age.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Overheard - Treefarm

Ryan Trebon on cross racing in Europe:

I love racing in Europe but its hard – really hard. I think sometimes people don't quite grasp that fact.

One, the courses are so much more demanding than anything we race here, and it takes a couple of years to learn how to properly race a CX bike. Two, at least for me, I live, train, eat, sleep, hangout pretty much by myself over there. That's a hard thing to do for months on end, especially when the racing is so tough and you aren't getting the results you want. All you have to do is sit around and think about the racing and there is no real escape from racing. But you can't forget the fact that those guys are just damn fast and the racing never really lets up. I have never had my legs ache so bad as after doing some of the heavy races over there.

Just like road racing, cross is part of European culture, maybe even more so for cross because of how accessible the racing is. Look at any of the Youtube video from the euro races and you'll see thousands of people at each race.

So I am in my first year of "... learn[ing] how to properly race a CX bike." Each time I ride that bike I feel a little more comfortable on it and hopefully get a little faster. Now I just have to work on my dismounts.

A faster, cleaner dismount = faster through the barriers = not getting passed by so many other riders.

Faster = happier.

Source: Cyclingnews.

Monday, November 26, 2007

DW Ride Post Script

As I started cleaning the bike last night... rear tire flat. That may have accounted for my lack of speed in the soft stuff.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Time to clean the bike

Went out to Daniel Wright woods for the cross group ride. I. Am. Fried.

I did some intervals yesterday down around Montrose and definitely felt those efforts, but really I just lacked power in the soft stuff.

Ride leaves at 8:00. I left late and got up there at 7:55. just barely enough time to get the bike off the roof and get on it. Haste makes waste and I forgot food, so no gels or bars for the entire 3 hour ride.

I asked a couple guys I knew how the ride separated into groups and was basically told the fast group would be 3 hours at around 18 mph or so. So, I into that group, thinking that if I got dropped then next time I'd ride with a slower group. Since it was my first time with this group, I just stayed at the back, didn't really fight for any wheels. Just wanted to scope it out and get in a good workout.

On the way up I was fine. The path was mostly dry, only the frozen ruts from yesterday's riders posed any problem. But on the way back, all of those frozen ruts had melted and the path went from dry to wet to very wet and then back to dry. I struggled on the soft wet sections and finally got popped towards the end of the ride.

One hell of workout though. Now I have to clean the bike.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

LAN Oak Park Cross Race HR Graph

I wore a HR monitor during the cross race Sunday. This is my HR graph from Sunday's race.
167 average. 189 high. But, look at the line, hovering right around 180... for 45 minutes straight.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why yes...

... I'll take the extra shot. You gotta love it when the barista asks if you want the second shot in your morning red eye.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lan - Oak Park Chicago Cross Cup #5- Race Report

My third cross race ever. Had alot of fun, but I am sore right now. All over. Every muscle, shoulders, hips. Bring on the Vitamin I.

The course. Not alot to discuss. Flat, utterly flat. A single barrier and then a set of 3 and a sand pit. Lots of turns, but nothing off camber, nice paved sections, lots of grass and leaves. A very straight forward course that probably favored a true roadie who didn't fear the sand. The starting stretch was long and wide enough that no real bunching up occurred, at least where I was. It had rained most of Saturday, but the course was only damp on Sunday morning. Not a very exciting course, but as Lou said "everyone has to race the same course, so it's even."

Pre-race. I got there at about 8:45 hoping to get alot of re-ride in, but the course was only about 2/3 set up. Temps were in the high 30s and damp. I registered, then rode the course twice, saw that the sand pit was going to be my demise. Then kitted up, put on the embrocation and headed out. Did some sprints on the road and hit the barriers a few times. Tried the sand pit, first time didn't make it, second time, made it, but struggled. I figured if I could hit it without traffic, I could probably ride it. With about 10 minutes to go I rode back to the car and put another layer of embrocation just on my knees. That did the trick.

The start. I lined up in the front row this time, determined to hold as much ground as I could right from the start. If I faded, so be it. If you listen to what the PROS say, the first 200m in a cross race are the most important. Right before the whistle, a 6 ft. tall guy rides up and plants himself on my left with his bar in front of mine, essentially blocking my path. I gave him a death look, but didn't say anything. I slid over a little to my right and cleared my bars. Whistle went and I was o.k. Held my ground through the first turn as the group went single file. Hard left turn and then up to the first barrier.

The race. I hit the sand pit on the first lap with a group, struggled, but made it. The effort to get through was harder than I thought I wanted to use up there as the rest of the course from there to the start line was super fast, so I decided I would run the pit on the rest of the laps. With about 15 minutes to go I fell into a group of about 5 or 6. One guy on a mountain bike with discs. We would come though the first barrier and I would move to the front of the group. I would lose time in the barriers, but catch up, then get dropped in the pit. Catch up by the start line and then repeat. This happened for 4 laps (I think). 2 of the guys rode the pit and made it out ahead and 3 of us ran. Even running I was last or 2nd to last out of the pit.

Lesson learned. There's a big difference between riding an obstacle during the pre-ride and then at race pace. Lou told me that the sand was ride-able if you hit it at a sprint. I think his last words to me as our group started were "sprint out of the corner before the sand and you can make it." I let the sand intimidate me. If I had ridden it only 2 times towards the end of the race, I would have moved up 4 or 5 spots. Also, if I had cleaned the pit just once, I would have put a gap into the rest of the group and they would have had to chase me, instead of me chasing them. I'm not even sure I saved any energy by running the pit. Better to be the gapper than the gappee.

Result. 22nd out of 36. I finished at the back of a 5-6 rider group, all together.

I watched the 1,2s attack the sand pit. I need to be that aggressive. ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Crosscrusade - Alpenrose Men A's Sixpack

Just a 1 hour trainer ride today, while it rained outside. I thought about getting out, but knew I wouldn't have time to fully clean a dirty cross bike before racing tomorrow.

It's going to be wet tomorrow which should be interesting as both of my previous races were dry. Lower the tire pressure and trust the sidewalls.

At least we won't have to run over 6 barriers in row like these cats.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No ride

Last night we went to a retirement party for a guy Tammi works with. He was retiring after working for 59 years. As part of his speech, he went through a partial list of the jobs he had, starting when he 11, the best, the most rewarding etc. That got me thinking about the jobs I have had:

7th grade - Freshman: Caddy, baby sitter
Sophomore - Senior 1984: Fast food place, Margie's in Westmont
Senior: Delivery, Giordano's Pizza, Delivery, Phillips Flowers
Summer: Willowbrook Park and Streets Dept. (cutting grass etc.)
College Freshman summer: painting
Sophomore: dishwasher in dorm cafeteria
Sophomore summer: painting
Junior - Senior: research assistant
Law School: Legal Assistance Foundation intern 1989- 91.
1991 - present: attorney Legal Assistance Foundation

Not that exciting of a list. The best job, well that depends. Certainly the most rewarding would be my current job. But, the best, well,without question: delivering pizzas. When else would someone pay me to drive around and listen to music all night. And we got paid in cash.

I had a few glasses of wine, so no ride today. Got up late and decided to spend the time with Elora rather than train. Lame maybe, but sometimes I feel like she's changing so fast and I miss it.

I only see her about 2-3 hours each day and that's if I'm lucky. She gets up at around 6:30 a.m., I leave at 8, I get home at around 6:30 p.m. or so and she goes to bed by 8:30. Alot of my time with her is spent either getting her out of pajama and into clothes or the reverse.


Amy Dombroski, who won the Fort Lewis College SquawkerCross race in Colorado last week, on her addiction to cyclocross:

It is said that hatred is the strongest form of love, and I must say that my original sheer hatred has bred a strong addiction to cyclo-cross. I love these double days every weekend of flogging myself like a rented mule... It has become an art of turning something so foolish and clumsy looking, into a smooth rhythm of power and flow.

The post-race hack, the taste of blood in my lungs, the agony of pushing my body to the edge of implosion or explosion, the science of dialing tire pressure, the 200mg caffeine days, the drunken cowbell ringers, the importance of the first 200 metres have all become the bible of cyclo-cross; a religion that I worship every fall when the leaves begin to change colors.
Source: cyclingnews

I can't say I ever hated it, but it did take me a couple of seasons to even try it. The barrier thing scared the crap out of me. It took people like Lou, Holly, Chris Strout, Pete R. and Josh Mallan telling me "Dude, try it, you'll like it" over and over again for me to dive in.

Now, I am totally captivated by it. This is potentially a bad thing because it can only lead to the purchase of a tubular wheelset!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cross Practice

Got up to James Park yesterday at about 10 to 5 for cross practice... but the lights were off. Hung with Lou for awhile thinking maybe they were on a timer or something and would come on around 5 or so, but never happened, so we all left.

On a whim I decided to drive by Montrose (the same site as the Illinois state championships on 12/9) to see if lights were on there. There's an artificial turf soccer field , so I thought the odds would be good. Score! The lights were on. So I rode for a little over an hour going around the soccer field using the light poles and trees as turns. I did 2 20 minute efforts with rest in between.

It was a little chilly and the wind was howling, but the embrocation worked great. The guys playing football on the field thought I was nuts, though. When I finished one of them asked me what I was training for. I tried to explain what cyclocross was, where it came form etc., but, wrapped up in his parka, I think he still thought I was a little crazy...

Wait a minute, come to think of it... I was riding around in circles in the cold, jumping off my bike, slinging it over my shoulder and running with then jumping back on it and sprinting for the next tree.

I am a little crazy... just a little.

It's alright, it's alight, it's alight
I'm just a little crazy
It's alright, it's alright, it's alight
I'm just a little crazy

Under my skin and into my bones
I feel insanity begin to make its home
Into my vision and through my mouth
Somebody's working me to get me all strung out

It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
I'm just a little crazy
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
I'm just a little crazy

There goes my reason
Where's all my hope
I'm just a puppet pulled by stings to make me cope
I'm seeing nothing
What's all this noise
Could someone give me something
Just to get me through this boy

It's alright, it's alright, it's allright
I'm just a little crazy

Under my skin and into my bones
I feel insanity begin to make its home
Into my vision and through my mouth
Somebody's working me to get me all strung out

It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
I'm just a little crazy

Little Crazy, Rob Halford (of Judas Priest fame)

I guess that's why I really dig cross. From the outside it does appear a "little crazy." Until you try it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

iPod Heavy Rotation

Blackstar, Mos Def and Talib Kweli- thanks to Elise at work for this one.
Elephant, White Stripes
Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rodrigo y Gabriela

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Mark Legg, Katie Compton's husband, manager, coach, mechanic on running her tubulars at 23 psi front and 25 psi rear:

If you don't feel the rim every now and then, you're running them too high.
Source: cyclingnews


Back from D.C., back in the office...

The conference was good. It's good to get together with a bunch of people that do the same kind of work that I do, develop some new ideas and recharge the batteries.

Dinner and drinks and then having the conference sessions start at 8 a.m. was not conducive to getting in any kind of workout, so I didn't get a chance to ride on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. I did get out on Sunday after flying back to Chicago. I rode the Redline for about an hour and a half until it got dark.

I'll do trainer and core workouts in the a.m. this week, cross practice on Wednesday and race on Sunday.

Friday, November 9, 2007

In case of fire...

It goes "whoop, whoop"

My Whereabouts

I want to take this moment to say that I am in Washington D.C. Apparently some have been looking for me in Washington State. Let me clarify, that is D.C. not state. Reports of me attending a conference in Washington State are wrong. At no time this year have I been in Washington State.

So, Rasmussen comes clean, kind of. He was not in Mexico. He says he lied about it because of "personal and marital reasons." He also alleges that Rabobank knew where he was at all times. Interesting. Rabobank may have some explaining to do. While Rasmussen was less than truthful about is whereabouts, does that mean he committed a doping violation or that he should have been kicked out of the Tour? I'm not sure. Additionally, why didn't he come froward with this in July?

More interesting is that he released his blood values for a period covering March 2005 through October 2007. His numbers don't appear to vary that much, but I don't know if blood doping would raise those values and there are some pretty long gaps between tests.

If Rabobank knew where he was and nobody, e.g. WADA etc., tried to find him when he was supposed to be in Mexico but wasn't, then why was he booted from the Tour? Simply for being a BFL (big fat liar). That doesn't prove that he doped.

We all want to see "clean" sport, but the system has to be fair. The tests have to be trustworthy (go ask Floyd Landis). Clear penalties for clearly defined violations.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What an idiot

What an idiot. Me.

Do you remember the first time you learned how to brake correctly on a mtb? I do. 1995. On a trip to Winter Park and Moab. I happened to have one of the mountain bike mags and read an article by Ned Overend (I think) where he talked about braking and how do it properly. His core point- FRONT BRAKE. Front brake causes your center of gravity to actually move towards the rear wheel, whereas rear braking does the opposite.

So I had the Redline set up PRO style with the brake levers switched i.e the left lever is for the rear brake. The rational is that since you dismount on the non-drive side (left), taking your right hand off of the bars and grabbing the top-tube, if you need to brake, you want to use the rear brake, so the left lever needs to activate the rear brake.

Easily said, but harder to remember at race pace and over 10 years of left/front right/rear. During my first 2 races I had some problems braking coming into the tight turns on the cross courses. I felt like my center of gravity was all over the place and I was not in control. Lack of control means you slow down even more.

Tonight at cross practice I had an epiphany: I hadn't switched my braking in my head. I was going into turns still braking as if the levers were regular i.e. left/front. All of a sudden, I was hitting the turn faster, sitting back, a little front brake and drift through the turn. My center of gravity staying where it should.

Speaking of cross practice, Lou laid out a nice course in between a soccer field and 2 baseball diamonds, winding around the trees and the home plates.

I wish

Cross practice tonight, then off to DC for a work conference. No riding over the weekend which kind of sucks as I really need time on the cross bike. Every time I ride it, I get a little more comfortable on it.

I know my mtb so well that I can look at a piece of trail and pretty much know where the front end might wash out or how to shift my weight and brake going into a turn. I'm just learning how to ride this bike. Thankfully jumping barriers has not turned out to be as difficult as I thought they'd be, so I can focus on riding the bike.

I wish I had bought a cross bike in September, then I could have done almost 10 races easily. Now, I probably will only get to do 4, maybe 1 or 2 more depending on location and ability to convince the family that it is a good thing for me to be gone a whole day.

After watching 3 races, with me in one of them, Tammi wants to try it too, so I have to get a cross bike for her. I think we might wait until next season though and think through a frame and build for her. She would probably use it for more than just racing on.

Racing together will be quite challenging as we may literally be handing Elora off as one of us finishes and the next starts. One possible solution is to bring the trailer and then have the one not racing warm up by towing Elora around the race course- not on the course, just around it!

That's it. Later on.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cyclocross tech

This is cool: velonews just did a tech piece from the boulder cross races and highlighted the Redline frames.

It seems like most of the tech for cross has to do with tire selection and pressure. I find I have to unlearn everything I know from riding on the road.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Race Cyclocross

Got this sticker from Molly Cameron at Interbike. I couldn't put it on the Roo until I had done some races.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Campton Cross - Chicago Cross Cup #4 Race Report

Harder course, bigger field. I had alot of fun. 2 more races in the series.

Pre-race This race was farther than the others so we left much earlier so I would have a chance to pre-ride the course. We got there at around 9:15, giving my plenty of time to pre-ride. We even had time to stop at a Caribou to get Elora a muffin. I kitted up and headed out on the course.

The course. A long starting stretch, into a 180 degree turn, then long stretch into 2 tight turns. 1 set of 2 barriers and then a tricky drainage ditch, straight and then a single barrier. A longish uphill paved section. 2 tricky turns on a seriously off-camber section. A couple of long straights with tight/off camber turns. The last section of the course was a wet/muddy through-the woods with 3 or 4 railroad ties. Then a final single barrier right before the finish line.

I was able to do 2 complete laps before the 30+ race started. The new crank on the Redline felt fine, no problems. The 2 single barriers had the effect of taking away any recovery areas. Most of the turns came after longer straights, which meant you really had to find the right line through the turn to carry as much speed as possible.

I lowered my tire pressure this week, but am still hesitant to go as low as is being suggested (40 pds. or less!). I guess this is something I have to figure out for myself as I am terrified about flatting. So I ran 48 in the back and 45 in the front. The back proved to be fine, but my front tire tried to wash out a few times, usually on the same turns.

The start. 35+ starters. I started in the 2nd row and was alot more aggressive this time. The race organizers called anyone over 50 to the front, saying that they would start them with the 40+, but highlight their numbers so they could see how they finished against each other with the idea of having a separate category next year. I'm not sure why they didn't just start us separately, but race us together like the 1,2 and the 3 race. The whistle goes and one guy goes down right at the start. We sprint for the first turn and I am in about 15th. We hit the hairpin and then come into a couple of twisty turns and someone else goes down. Hard on the brakes, a guy to my right comes over on my line as he hits the race tape and his rear skewer goes into my front Ksyrium! This is where the mountain biking skills came in handy, I leaned hard to my left and lifted the bars, still pedaling and didn't lose any spokes (wheel turned out to be fine), but I did lose several spots. Hit the barriers, the drainage ditch and we're off.

The Race. This course was harder than last weeks. No place to recover. After the start, I started passing riders on the paved up hill and settled into a group of about 5 guys. The off camber turn before the woods section proved to be tricky- several riders in all of the races went down or off course here. After 30 minutes I started to struggle and then started to get passed. I got lapped on lap 5 or 6 by the 1st 2 finishers (again, goddamnit!)

The results said I was 20th. So if I had been able to stay strong, I could have cracked the top 15. 20th is 6 better than last week, I'll take it.

Watching this race was difficult because the course was pretty spread out with no easy ways to get to the routes. Elora and Tammi camped out by one of the single barriers, so once a lap i got to hear Elora yell "venga, venga papa!"

I had toyed with the idea of doing the 4s race also, but I was spent. So we ate lunch and then watched the rest of the races.

I LOVE this!

Friday, November 2, 2007

New Found Motivation

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a lack of motivation for training at this time of year. Long season, temps getting colder... blah, blah, blah.

Now, after getting the cyclocross bug, I feel motivated. This whole week, I've been up at 5:20 a.m., training until 7:00. Excited to get up and ride. Getting back to an "in season" diet, going to bed and waking up thinking about riding and racing.

Even if I never get really fast at cyclocross, at least it has kept me motivated at this point of the year.

Got the Redline back last night, new cranks- ready to go! I have heard that tomorrow's course is shorter than last week's and a bit more technical with a long paved climb. The weather looks to be beautiful, 50s, sunny and dry. I am thinking about doing both the 40+ and the 4s, depending on how long Elora will let me stay.

Congrats to Christine Vardaros for her 11th place finish at Koppenbergcross in Belgium yesterday.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Martial Saugy, the director of the WADA-accredited Swiss Laboratory for Analysis of Doping in Lausanne, Switzerland:

47 out of 189 riders [in the Tour de France this year] raced on blood transfusions or EPO. We have been able to show this from the samples taken at the health controls.

He then explained that the results were not enough to declare a positive result but:

It is appalling, but we find so many test results that undoubtedly point to manipulation. But there is a big difference between a suspicious sample and one that can be declared positive.

I don't know enough about the science to know how a manipulated sample would appear different from a positive one, but either there was doping or there wasn't. If there was, then 1/4 of the riders doped and that sucks. But, if a certain amount of samples always return a "manipulated" result, then Mr. Saugy's comments are inexcusable and just further tarnish the sport.

It's like the labs releasing Floyd Landis' A result before the B sample has been tested. What's the point, except to see your name in print.

Source: cyclingnews