Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Some comments

In response to "Cares of a 3 year old" BBVP asked on December 22, 2008:


Does she really call you Jim?


She does. Until about a month ago, Elora was calling me "papa." Then she started calling me Jim. I asked her why and she said she wanted to call me what everyone else calls me. I am totally cool with that. I'm picking my battles. Some days I can't even get her to change out of the shirt she's been wearing for the last 2 days. She wants to call me Jim, o.k. by me.

In responde to "Mixed," on December 07, 2008, sharkattack said:


how can you be such a good cross racer but such low level road
category?

Well, first thanks for the compliment about being a good cross racer. It doesn't always feel that way. Second, I believe you can use your road or off-road category to get a cross upgrade, but not the other way around. So, if I was a 3 on the road, I could probably get a 3 for cross. But, if I was a 2 for cross, I wouldn't get the same on the road. Since I've only done a few road races, I'm stuck.

Finally, regarding Pozzato's newest tattoo, on December 20, 2008 Anonymous said:

The tattoo is the date that he won Milan San Remo.

Cool. Good to know.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The cares of a 3 year old

Up this morning watching channel 9 news and listening to how bad the weather is. Video of roads closed, schools closed, trains delayed, people sleeping at the airport etc. Check my e-mail to find out my office is closed (I have to go anyways). The news lady says "if you don't have to leave home, don't."

Elora takes it all in and during the commercial she looks out the window and says:

"Jim, I don't mind the snow. You know what I do when I see a big snow? I run and jump in it."


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Power drain

Its hard to not ride right now. I feel like all of the strength and power of the last season is flowing out of the bottom of my feet each night as I sleep.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for the time off. It just feels, well, not exactly wrong, but not right.

I'd only be riding on the trainer now anyway, so its not like I'm missing out on the best group ride of the year or anything.

Its like, if I am not moving, then I am slow.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blues

End of the season blues hit me like a ton of bricks today. Even with 10 races and no way I could go to Jingle Cross, I feel like I should have done a Wisconsin race or 2 or 3. I guess you don't always know what you have until its over.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Season's end


With the last race, Montrose, being over, I have mixed emotions. Like I said earlier, first, I'm kind of bummed out because it means cross is over. The season is over. Deep winter will set in, dooming me to weeks on the trainer.

Second, there is a certain part of me that is tired and ready for some rest and time off the bike. We've been training hard since January with the focus on cross season. Even with recovery weeks, we have been riding 5 or 6 days every week. It will be nice to take the rest of the year off and sleep in every day until 2009.

Finally, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Last year, my first cross racing ever- my top finish in the 40+ was 20th. At Montrose I finished 26th. This year, I had 5 top 10s (1 podium), mostly top 15s and 13th at Montrose.

For anything that I accomplished this season, I have to thank some people:

Brian Conant, my coach. I started training with Brian in January 2008. I was a bit skeptical at first, but decided to dive in spending the money to get an SRM and on coaching to see how it would go. To borrow a phrase from Fu Manchu "The Action is Go." I cannot envision training any other way than I did this past season. LTs, 8 x 3s, 10 x 1s, for me targeted workouts with the power meter are the only way to go. This training was why I was faster all season than I have ever been.

Lou Kuhn, team sponsor, part-time employer and friend. Lou made it possible for me to dive into cross late last season, kept my bike rolling and offered me a chance to race with the Pony Shop Cross team. I think he glued at least half of the tubulars rolling in Chicago this season! Lou is a fierce competitor, but what really sets him apart is his passion for cross. Win or lose, he is a true champion of the sport. Whether at the races or at the shop taking care of customers, his passion is evident.

John, Chris and the rest of the Pony Shop crew. Saturday afternoons haven't been the same. "Hesitation is devastation!"


Roman, Mark, Cliff and the rest of the Pony Shop Cyclocross team. It has been an honor to call myself part of this team. Special thanks to Carolyn (velosnaps) for the great photos.

To all of you against whom I competed: Jim Nowak, Michael Stanley, Pete Rolewicz, Tim Boundy, Wayne Simon, Vince B., William (DICE), Steel and James from Turin, and anyone else I missed in the 40+, congratulations on a great season. Whether it was challenging the results or fighting for every position during a race, there was always a handshake and a "nice race" at the end. I look forward to competing with you next year.

To those I didn't race against, but got to know a bit better this season: Greg Heck, the Bonebell Crew, Damon, Holly and Kevin, Eric S., I think cross breeds friendship because as they say "it takes one to know one."

To anyone who cheered while I went by, thanks too. When you're in the pain cave, every shout of encouragement helps.

Thanks to the Cross Cup staff and the Chicago series race organizers, what a great season! 10 races! Please have at least that many next year.

Finally, I have to thank Tammi and Elora. They had to put up with the most. The early morning rides, long weekend rides and the time spent at the shop all mean less time at home. I seek balance, but know that I cannot always attain, nor maintain it. My heart flutters every time Elora yells "go, papa, go" at a race.

I have the rest of the year off and then start preparing for the 2009 season the first week of January. Off season goals include losing 8 pds. or so and getting in to see Harlan at Deluxe tattoos for some new ink.

As for 2009 season goals, I want to win.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Race Report: Chicago Cross Cup #10, Montrose


Last race of the year. Chris and Turin served up a heaping scoop of cross at Montrose: a killer, challenging course.

The Course. Mostly on the beach/lake side of the park. Starting area heading north into 2 tight turns, down under the road, back up, a couple of twists and then up Cricket Hill, right back down, another straight on the gravel, right hander into 2 barriers, a straight , sharp uphill right, barrier at the top, right back down, straightish, then past the pit, sharp down, under the road, sharp up, barrier at the top. Then up to the beach area and into the sand, mostly rideable then some ups and downs, a sidewalk section then into the start/finish. I did 2 laps of the course, but it was pretty spread out, so I didn't get as good of a warm-up as I like. And, it was cold. 10 degrees when we rolled.


The Start. This was probably my worst start of the season despite the front row call-up. Nerves, inexperience, both! ... whistle and I miss my left pedal as it comes around. This proves to be disastrous, because only the top 5 or so riders made it clean through the first turn, the rest of us had to unclip and hoof it around. The first time up the Hill and I'm at maybe 20th.


The Race. Once again, I struggled with the course. On every turn, it felt like either my front or rear tire washed out. Sometimes both in the same turn. You know what that means? Too much pressure. After my first practice lap, I lowered the tire pressure, but didn't really have time to get it as dialed as I would have liked since I was trying just to stay warm. My brakes were squeally on every sharp down. So I've got a squirelly bike with squeaky brakes. Much of the course was tight and with a single track forming in the snow after the second lap or so, any passing had to be well calculated. The ups and downs neede to beridden smoothly with good lines, something that I need to work alot on. I tried to make up as many spots as I could, using the hill as the major effort zone. It was very much a go fast, stop, turn, go fast, repeat kind of course, which is hard for me. When I feel like the bike is out of control, I get tentative. As with every race, you learn and this one taught me alot. So, I raced as hard as I could.


The Result. 13th. Fell out of the top 5 for the series to 6th. Congrats to Brian Conant (my coach!) who won. Also, congrats to everyone I raced against at Montrose and during the season: well done.
Stuck around and watched everything but the 4s. Just got too cold. Although I missed most of the 3s and 50+ trying to change, get warm and check our results. The 1,2s was a great race to watch. Mike Sherer flatted when he had a huge gap. The rest of the top 5 fought it out for most of the race. A few of us basically watched from the road/bridge, running across the road each time to see the riders as they passed underneath and beyond.

Then went home and had pizza with Elora and Tammi.

Photo: Courtesy of velosnaps.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mixed

Easy workout today. Inside on the trainer, boring, boring, boring. Just an hour at low power. The legs felt good, I actually had to increase my cadence to keep the watts low becasue my legs wanted to go faster and harder. I think that's a good sign.

As Montrose approaches I have mixed emotions. First, I'm kind of bummed out becasue it means cross is over. The season is over. Deep winter will set in, dooming me to weeks on the trainer.

What are we going to do with ourselves until September 2009? Race on the road. Maybe, but I'm a cat 5 40+ rider on the road. Seems like alot of travel for short races. Crits don't entice me at all. Maybe some mountain bike races, but that has the same issues.

With the number of cross races packed into such a short period, I kind of feel, for my family's sake, that I should just race cross.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Make sure you bring a credit card to Montrose

I saw something on the Chicago Cross Cup page today saying we need to have a credit card for registration. Probably for the timing chip.

Where are we going to carry that chip??

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

That's it

Today was the last real workout of the season. The dreaded 10 "1 minute on, 1 minute off" VO2 max intervals. Now it's just 2 days of easy rides, 1 day of race prep and then RACE DAY. I can't say I'll miss this workout, because I won't. It is hard and by the 10th one my body absolutely rebels against what my mind is telling it to do.

As always, the weather promises to play a role in Sunday's race. Snow today and Saturday and a high of 24 or so forecasted.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On course

A week without a race report... it can only mean that we are approaching the end of cross season. One more race. This is the biggie. States. I know Lou woke up yesterday and did a little dance upon seeing the snow.


I replay races in my head over and over again: trying to find spots where I could have gone faster. I think's that's why I write race reports; they help me learn and hopefully become a faster racer.

Some courses just seem to click for me, like Dekalb, Barlett, Carpentersville and even Woodstock. I dream about a course like DeKalb, sweeping turns, fast pavement. Others, like Hawthorn and Lansing just don't. I never get into any kind of flow. Then there are courses like Northbrook that pushed me to my limits fitness wise and constantly kept me on my toes tech wise.


I can tell how the course suits me usually by the middle of my first warm-up lap. It's like "yeah, this is gonna be fun" or "whoa, this one's gonna hurt." That's not to say every race doesn't hurt by the end of the 45 minutes. They do. All of them. Sometimes all the way into Tuesday.



Do you race the course or the other racers? I suppose its a little of both. Most races I am by myself, either making up positions of losing them. Woodstock was really the first race this season when I found myself racing the whole race with a group of riders.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

8, 9 and 10

Yes we drink.
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My mom, Tammi, and Elora

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5, 6 and 7

So I am at thanksgiving with various parts of extended family. I am well on my way.



To me Thanksgiving is all about family. Family doesn't just mean people you may be related to because in the end that may not mean sh*t. We have about 15 people here already and anticipate 20. Peace.

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Bottles 3 and 4

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2nd bottle

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First Bottle

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The pre-meal spread and first bottle of wine

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Woodstock

Pete e-mailed me these photos from Woodstock. The first has the 6 of us still together, but William has a gap. This is completely on the other side of the course as Carolyn's photo of us all together.


The finish: a bit closer than I thought it was.


I think this race was my favorite of the season because I got to race with a group, pushing each other.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Race Report: Chicago Cross Cup #9, Woodstock

We had a great day yesterday at Woodstock. I conquered some demons during this race. Not in relation to my finish, more about how I race.

The course. Very spread out. Several short climbs. Some nice longish downhills that felt more like a mountain bike course than a cross course. Nice wide and long start area, then around a few turns into the first climb into the woods. Down the longest downhill, a wide right turn right back up into a climb, dirt then pavement. Back onto the grass, some easy turns, then alot of bumps. This was probably the bumpiest course I've been on. At least one other rider commented that he tried to shift at one point an his hand just flew off the shifter due to the bumps. Only 1 dismount, at the top of one these climbs for a triple barrier. The barriers were tough though because they were not equally spaced and were at different heights. Some fast downs including a spot where you get some air as you crossed the road. Then several tight off camber turns before the finish line. If you were in front coming out of the last turns, it would be pretty difficult if not impossible to win a position if you were not in front.

I did 3 or 4 laps before the race. Each lap, lowering tire pressure and finally settling on 32 psi.

The start. Still in 5th overall. Whistle. I'm about 15th into the first climb but move up before the long down. As we come out of the woods for the first time I can see the groups form in front of me. 1-5, then a gap, then 5 or 6 more, then me. I can "feel" at least one rider with me.

The race. I pushed as hard as I could to catch the group in front of me, which I did on the second lap. Now I'm with 5 other guys, all of whom have raced against each other the whole season. This photo by Carolyn shows this group perfectly. From right to left: Me, Vince Boyer, Jim Nowak, Michael Stanley, William from DICE and Pete Rolewicz.


We raced each other for the whole race. Each person coming to the front at different points. Sometimes one or two would get a gap and then the rest would catch back on. William was the first to get away. I told myself that I was not going to let anyone get away this race and held his wheel for a long while. I remember after pulling for awhile and Jim coming through saying to him "we've got to stay with him, he'll be gone." But then the elastic broke. Michael was the next to try and he succeeded. The rest of our group stayed together until the last lap when Pete and I pulled away. I could see Michael and William just ahead. Michael had passed William, who seemed to be fading. Lapped 30+ riders now played into race strategy. If you could pass one before a tech section, the guy on your wheel would have a difficult time staying on. Pete tried to pass me on the very last climb and I sprinted side by side with him and got just clear as we hit a 30+ rider just before the last set of turns coming into the finish and I held my spot.



The result: Out of that group, we ended up:


8th: Michael Stanley
9th: William
10th: Me
11th: Pete
12th: Vince
13th: Jim Nowak
This was a course that was hard physically because of how bumpy it was and then tough mentally to try to hold each position. I feel like I made some major gains in my head about racing.

Then we did the 1,2,3s. I really had nothing left for this as everything I had was laid out for the 40+ race. But I did it. Not very well, but I did it. I slowed down to let the leaders of the race pass me. I didn't want to be in the way.

Watched most of the other races. Shouts out to everyone: Lou with the WIN! Hell yeah! Sherer with the win. Cliff with his best finish in the 4s yet: 5th with 3rd and 4th just ahead. I'm not sure how the rest of team placed, but it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves.
Not going to Jingle Cross. Family obligation. I expect text updates. See everyone in 2 weeks for the finale: Montrose. It was snowing a little this morning.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Race Report (Brief): Chicago Cross Cup #9, Woodstock

Too tired for a full report. Another great day of racing. A little chilly, but not that bad. Did 2 races. Maybe not the best idea, my body is racked right now. 10th in the 40+. Congrats to Lou picked up the win in the 30+ as did Sherer in the 1s.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Todd Wells' GT

See it here at cyclingnews.com.

I like these tech pieces because you get some insights into just how "techy" cross can be, e.g.:

He runs a 34mm-wide Challenge Grifo XS semi-slick tubular in the rear and a Dugast Rhino 32mm-wide tubular in the front. Aquseals both tires and the bike weighs in at 18# even, heavier than mine!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day off

No daycare this week, so I took yesterday off. Elora and I went to the Field Museum to see the "dinos." Here we are in front of "Man with Fish" and Elora with her new "buddy."
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More tired

I guess sunday's race took more out of me than I thought. Today was a 45 minute tempo ride at power numbers that 6 mos. ago were my LT targets. Fitter yes, but I could barely hit my numbers today.

At least I know I'm leaving everything I have on the race course each week.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Race Report: Chicago Cross Cup #8, Lansing

All week long the forecasts for Sunday were gloomy: cold, wet, impossible snow. It was cold. Not that wet and we drove through some snow flurries on the drive down. Hats off to South Chicago Wheelman for having a venue where we could change inside and take a shower to warm up in after racing. Better course than last year, but this park is severely limited in potential. No elevation change and very little if any off camber areas. But, everyone races the same course.


The course. Start, left turn, left turn, left turn, right turn... some more turns, barrier, left, right, left, barrier, pavement, left, barrier, 30 ft. then sand, left, right... not that exciting. I rode the sand on my practice laps, but it was deep and long and power sapping. Ho, hum.


The start. Nice starting area. Wide enough. I like the 30 seconds call and then at any point after that, go. Some riders were jumping early at previous races. I had an alright start, not great. I was pretty cold.


The race. So, the start was fine, but then I struggled again with the course. I just couldn't get any kind of flow going. I felt like I was fighting the bike on most of the corners. I'd have a few good ones and then overcook one. I got passed by a few and passed some others. For the whole race I could see a group of 5 just ahead of me and kept telling myself, come on they're right there, you just got to do it. Then I'd over cook a corner and have to brake and jump and consequently lose ground. I rode the sand the first 2 laps, but didn't make it all the way through either time, so I just ran it after that. There didn't seem to be any good lines through it and with the barrier just in front of it, there was very little chance of gathering any speed before getting into it.


The result. Ended up 12th.


Took a shower and watched Carolyn take on the 4s and give a wayward spectator a piece of her mind when he crossed the course in front of her, after he basically t-boned the leading collegiate woman. Watched Lou and others, several of whom were doing their 2nd race of the day, in the 1s. Jack and Cliff in the 4as. I think I had more fun watching those races then racing my own.

Next Sunday is another venue, another race. We've been hearing good things about this Sunday's course.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Race report: Chicago Cross Cup #7, Northbrook

As we left for the race it was 34 degrees and it didn't get any warmer. Since this one was close, Elora and Tammi came, but we may not do that when its this cold.

The course. Nice wide start area and right into the twisty tech stuff. Opened up and then up the first set of stairs, switchbacks on the way down. I crashed hard on the first one during my first warm-up lap, ringing my bell pretty well. Back into the twisty stuff and then up a second shorter stair run-up. An off camber down and onto some pavement. Up a muddy hill, around some pinwheel things and then up to the start/finish. No barriers, just the 2 stair case run-ups. Lots of turns, little if any power sections. Overall this was a great, great course that made me work hard. But it was very unforgiving, every time I got any speed up, I had to brake. Just about every surface of the course was off camber and slippery; every corner, a test of handling skills. Oh yeah, goose poop... everywhere.

The start. Thermal skinsuit, base layer, wool socks, emrbo. Call up in 5th. Set up far left. Roman started to my left. Big field, over 30. Cold. Go. I'm in 5th or 6th at the first run-up, still in contact. Decided to just run the first 2 turns of the switchbacks and ride the other 2.

The race. You're all probably getting used to this part... but I just have to ride my own race. I held my own. I ran the first 2 switchbacks every lap. Riding them may have been faster, but I didn't get passed there and I felt safer running it. On the 3rd lap I started getting passed in the technical stuff, first Mike and Randy from xXx, then a DICE rider, then James from Turin. I tried to stay with each one, but then I'd have to slow down in a corner. Just too tentative in the corners, wasting massive amounts of energy braking and then having to re-accelerate.

The result. 11th. Just off the group that finished 6-10. I was kind of bummed afterward because I fell from 6th to 11th, but then the more I thought about it: I feel pretty good. If you look at the guys ahead of me, many of them have been racing for years: Boundy, Warren, Dimmick. This is my first whole season and last year my highest finish was 20th. With another whole season of targeted, smart training and losing some weight, who knows where I'll be.

Afterward, the cold started to set in, including not being able to feels my toes. Interesting, because while I was racing, I didn't notice it. When I got back to the car Elora and Tammi where already there, toasty warm. I jumped into the front seat and started to feel that tingly feeling in your toes as the blood starts to flow back in. When I said my toes were frozen, Elora jumped up the passenger seat and said "warm them up like I did" and laid down and put her feet on top of one of the vents.

Roman flatted, but still made 15th in the 40s. Lou got 3rd, behind C. Lombardo and Robbie Ventura in the 30s. Cliff got 13th in the 4as, not sure about Jack or Carolyn. Mike Sherer 1st and Luca 5th(?) in the 1,2,3s.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Catfood?

Yes. Holistic Pheasant Dinner. For the cat who feels unfulfilled.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Inspiration

I have 2 bulletin boards on opposite walls of my office.



This is the one that sits to my right when I sit at my desk: signed posters acquired at Interbike and my race numbers, the bottom row is the 2007 cyclocross season, the top numbers are this years campaign.

Some people give me crap for keeping my numbers, but they are a source of inspiration. Whether I did well (Dekalb) or not (Hawthorn), they let me know where I have been: either pride in a good performance or lessons to be learned.
Then I saw Mud and Cowbells wall of fame and said to myself "That's alot of fricking numbers!" His corresponding post wasn't about the race numbers though, it was about seeking balance, which leads me to the other bulletin board which sits to my left.

Mostly photos of family including Elora's first ultrasound, her first birthday, her and I in front of "Man with Fish," some pieces of her art, thank-you letters from clients. The "other" sources of inspiration. I try to have Elora come to the races when it makes sense, basically if I know there will be a park she can play at and if there's open space where she can run around without fear that she might get hit by riders warming up for their races. Campton was great for that, Bartlett no way. Even though she can't yell very loudly, I can usually hear her voice above all others. It was easier when she called me "Papa." She is now calling me "Jim" because she says she wants to call me what everyone else calls me. No chance of me trying to correct her on that.

She knows the people I race with and the guys at the shop and will even sometimes come up to them and say "give me bones" and put her fist out for a fist bump. She asks questions about the bikes and the course, like "why are there barriers?" Even though she is only 3, she soaks it up, even the heckling. When she gets bored she pretends we are an entire crocodile family that must swim around on our hands and knees.

Whether I place well or not, every race presents me with 2 opportunities. The first is individual to me, my race. Last week's race presented me with 2 mental obstacles, first the fact that I didn't like the course and second, the flat. Each race also gives me the opportunity to share cross with Elora. I think she looks forward to race days as much as I do.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

TJ's Cannondale

I was looking at this article on Tim Johnson's Cannondale, same frame and fork as I'm on, but his weighs only 16.5 pds. with pedals.



My bike is at 17.8. Same brakes, similar tires, although I think the Dugasts are lighter than the Challenges. Most of that difference is in the wheels: TJ runs the Mavic Ultimates which weigh just 1185g per pair and the shifters, he's running SRAM Red and I have Ultegra levers.


My FSAs weigh in at just over 1500g, so that's 315g or about 2/3 of a pd. (1 pd. = 454 g, I looked it up), right there.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Race Report- Chicago Cross Cup #6, Campton Cross

What can I say? A beautiful day. A nice course. A flat tire 200 meters after the pit... mental effort dwarfs the physical leaving me completely wasted and bruised.

The course. Very much the same as last year, but run the opposite direction. Alot of climbing, which is not my strength. A very short start area, right hander and then into the woods and up the railroad tie section with a single barrier towards the end, then around to the off camber stuff, 2 high speed downs combined with a low speed twisty up. The flat part of the course had its share of twists and a single barrier, drainage ditch jump. A single side pit just after the start.

The start. Met some guys I didn't know before, Jim Nowak, Steel. Hopefully I'll put faces to names this Sunday. Chose to start on the far left, which would be outside of the turn. I'm still trying to figure out where I want to be when I get a call-up. It wasn't the best spot, but I was in the top 10 into the woods.

The race. 1st lap, o.k. stayed in it. 2nd lap, feeling a bit sluggish. 3 laps in, right after the railroad tie section, Steel had been on my wheel and comes around and says "come on, we can get right back on." I go to jump on his wheel and as I get out of the saddle my rear tire washes out. Steel rides away. Flat. Hell no! I have a whole lap to go to get back to the pit. The rear end is all over the place. I can ride, but can't go fast at all. Now riders are passing me like I'm standing still. I was 10th or so. By the time I get to the pit I am by myself, in last. I get to the pit, dismount, and up runs a xXx rider. He says "which wheels" I told him the FSAs, he runs over and grabs the rear as I take the flat one off, he runs back and says"you do the brake, I'll do the skewer." BAM, wheel's on and I'm off. 20 seconds at most. Now it's just race. At this point I'm tired. The lap-with-the-flat took alot out of me. I'm now being lapped by the 30+leaders. I come to the finish, race over.

The result. 20th out of over 30. Not so bad I guess. Thankfully I was on tubulars and was able to get to the pit riding.

Afterward I needed to just go off by myself and wallow in some self pity for a few minutes. Sorry if I wasn't as gracious as I should have been. After I got cleaned up and watched the 3s finish, I walked around trying to find the mystery xXx rider, but realized all I remembered was the black kit. I was about to just start going up to each one and thanking them all when Greg came up to me and asked "how'd the new wheel work out?" I said "that was you? Dude thanks...".

Saw Carolyn (Velosnaps) get teh hole shot in the women's 4s. Yeah!!

Watched the 1,2s, Ben is damn fast right now. But so were Brian Conant and Wayne Simon and the rest of them. I like watching them because it shows how much work I have to do to get that fast. Not just, but so damn smooth. Every corner, every obstacle.

Watched most of the 4as, Jack, Cliff, Starbuck all having great races. The Vee-pack guys en masse, moving up, I think.

Thinking about it, that's why I like cross so much. It is certainly about the racing, but its also about so much more. I like watching the races as much as doing them myself: yelling and heckling. In 5 more weeks when my season is over, I'll miss the racing, but I think I will miss the "other stuff" even more. Thanks again Greg.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Congrats

While were sloggin it out in the wind at Barlett, a number of Chicago cross racers were taking on national competition in Louisville.

Congrats to my coach Brian Conant who took 6th on both Saturday and Sunday in the 35+.

Ben Popper took 24th on Saturday 26th on Sunday in the Elite, staying on the lead lap.

Devon Haskell took 9th on both Saturday and Sunday in the women's elite.

Greg Heck took 25th on Saturday and 29th on Sunday in the Men's 2-3s.

And, results are up, Pony Shop did alright at Bartlett:

30+: Lou 6th, Mark 9th
40+: Brian R. 3rd
1,2,3s: Luca 4th, Aspen 7th
Women's 4: Carolyn 9th
4as: Jack with the win!! Cliff 10th and Scott 24th.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Race Report- Chicago Cross Cup #5- Bartlett

Race #5, half way. Last year's race here was my first cross race ever, I placed 26th in the 40+.



The course. Windy. I can't remember the last time I rode in so much wind. ABD did a great job with this course, ran reverse of last year. Wide start line into an easy right and then really narrowed into a sharp left and sharp right. Straight into a single barrier run-up, opposite direction of last year. Two woods/wood chip sections. Wood chips always look more stable than they feel. Some nice pavement sections, including one loooong stretch of pavement where you got back onto the grass, full speed. On the backside of the course, a three barrier run-around, down, jump, up, jump, down, jump then ride up, down and through the long finishing straight. That was a mouthful!


This course was hard and fast, no recovery... any... where. Oh yeah, and did I mention that it was windy.



The start. I did 3 or 4 laps at different speeds. Then I did about 5 starts to test the corners. Finally, I did the single barrier run-up about 10 times back to back to see what the best line on the climb after would be and to stay warm.


Had a good, not great start. I just wanted to stay out of trouble. I hit the top of the run-up in traffic, jumped on but then had to jump off and run as the turn and hill back up was clogged. On the first section of pavement I can count from Boundy in first back to me and I'm in 10th or so. Not bad.


This photo is just after the start. Tim Boundy is to the right, Brian R. on the left. Roman is just hitting the barrier and I am just dismounting. What a great shot.


The race. So, once again, just settle in. Find the sections I can go fast on and ride smooth as I can. That, though, is often easier said than done. I pass a few guys. As I'm working my way through the 30+ I can see Mike from xXx ahead. He's my target. I could never get his wheel. I'd get close and then I'd mess up a turn and have to brake. I always underestimate the effort required to re-accelerate after screwing up a turn. Smooth, Jim smooth.

With 2 to go I see Jim from Turin coming behind me and he's gaining. I get the bell lap and I'm not lapped. That's good: one of my goals is to stay on the lead lap. Turin's coming. Every time we turn I look over my shoulder, he's there. Not on me, but there. Lou and some of the 30+ who finished are yelling at me as we hit the last and longest pavement section to catch the rider in front of me, who I thought was a 30+ rider, but was in fact another 40+ rider that I had lost track of. So, I'm out of the saddle and in the drops, clicking through gears. I had Strout's voice in my head from last year saying you've got to be first into an obstacle, so I'm thinking if I hit the barrier running thing at the bottom, Turin can't get me. So I pass the rider ahead of me into the grass and I was first into the barriers. After the barriers, out fo the saddle, sprint for the line.




The result. 7th. Some problems with the results, so only 1-10 were finalized.



Stuck around and watched the 3s, women's 1-3 and some of the Men's 1-3 and then had to go.

Photos: Velosnaps, of course.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Barlett

Fun, fun in the sun
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Mine

Finally!
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Haunted Houses


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Elora's preschool's Fall Festival

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More from Carpentersville

Here are some pics from Carolyn(Velosnaps).









Go to Pony Shop Cross for Jack's spectacular endo!




Partial results are up, there seems to be a problem with the 1,2,3s and the 4as.


Pony Shop did pretty well both at the race and so far in the series:

30+ Lou 3rd, Mark 8th
40+ Brian R. 3rd, Me 7th, Roman 11th
Women's 4: Carloyn 17th.

After our race and once the results were final, we ate lunch and then watched the other races. It's always more fun yelling at the top of your lungs for everyone racing to go faster after you've finished your race.

Elora had more fun jumping up and down on teh moon walk thing. At 2:30 she had had it and it was time to go.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Race Report- Chicago Cross Cup #4- Carpenter Park

The course was great, the weather was great and I felt great, at least until the dry heaves at the end of my sprint for 7th.


The course. Very, very nice. A bit of a narrow start then right into, as Elora would say "the bump bumpy Mc bumpertons." Nice technical turns, then into a single barrier with a creek jump. Some more technical turns, then onto pavement, hairpin, back the other way on the pavement, right hander onto the grass, cruise around and into the sandpit. Rideable. Out of the pit, around some more then some nice click-up-through-the gears power sections. Around, double barriers up-hill run-up and around to the start.



I did my warm-up with 36 psi and crashed hard in one of the corners before the pavement. So I took a few pds. out. Definitely the lowest I've raced on yet.



The start. Call ups. 4th. Get a good spot. Have some difficulty getting back clipped in, can't get my left in. With 30 secs to go, switch to my right foot clipped in first, instead of my left. God damn egg beaters. I am seriously considering pitching these things. But I digress. Calm down Jim... Riders GO! Left foot takes me 3 pedal strokes to clip in. I fall back to about 15th or so. Roman got the hole shot. SWEET!


O.k. not so bad, don't panic. I can move up. Just stay up, pass when I can.


The race. Settle in a groove, no, my groove. Straight, brake, turn, accelerate, repeat. First 2 times through the sand I was good, but got knocked down by other riders. That's racing. Get up, get the bike, run. The run-up was fine and a good place to pass. The rest of the time through the sand was fine, strong, just pedal. I'm just trying to move up when I can. I can see 30 and 40+ riders ahead so I just focused on catching up to the next one in front of me, passing, repeat.

Eventually I settled in with a Mack rider and with 3 to go (I think) we rode together. Lombardo from the 30+ came around us at the start line with 2 to go, so now we only had 1 to go. I yelled up to the Mack rider that we should try to stay with him. He asked if we still had 2 to go and I said no, we all finish with him so we both gunned it. An ABD rider was just in front of us. When you think you have 2 to go and then there's only 1... what do you have to lose: full gas. Coming up to the sand I wanted a clear line so I came around Mack and hit it hard. We're gaining on ABD as we come into the straighter and faster parts of the course. We hit the pavement and ABD is right in front of us, Mack on my wheel. As we approach the barriers I hear a voice yelling behind me "Go Jim, get him on the run-up, you can catch him!" The voice does not stop all the way through the barriers and down to the finishing straight. I catch ABD at the top of the run-up, pass on the remount and hold through the last turn and get out of the saddle and sprint with everything my legs have left. Finish ahead of ABD and Mack and then a few dry heaves to confirm that everything I had was left on course.

I later found out the voice was Lou who had made it up to us on his last lap.


Tire pressure must have been fine since I didn't wash out and I could feel the rear rim on some of the roots, although I was a bit tentative in some of the turns after crashing on the warmup.


The result. 7th. I was 5th, but after talking with some of the other racers, that didn't seem right. We did kind of group protest and I got moved down 2. No worries.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sunday's Race- possible detour

From the Chicago Cross Cup website:

ROAD CLOSURE INFO FOR CARPENTERSVILLE

For those travelling on Rt. 31, it will be closed to through traffic on the day of the race between Route 72 (Higgens) and Route 62 (Algonquin Road). This means you may still be able to get through, but it may take a while. If you detour to Rt 25 , turn West (light) on Lake Marion Rd in Carpentersville, left on L.W. Besinger Dr, and a right on Maple Ave. Maple will take you directly to Carpenter Park.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Day

The official results are up. 18th and I slid to 4th overall. During the race, when I saw Mark walking with his busted seat post, I thought to myself, flat, just flat damn it, oh wait, I have pit wheels, shit that means I'd have to run even more, o.k. chain break, come on break... I was deep, deep, deep in the pain cave with very little hope of ever coming out.

Given how absolutely horrible I felt on Sunday, I'm just happy I finished and I didn't get lapped by any of the 40+ finishers.

No ride yesterday, rest day. Today was a new day, a chance to recommit. On deck: 5 x 4 minute V02 max and then 5 minutes at LT. 5:30 a.m. was dark as dark can be. Thanks to Roman i know have a helmet light which worked really well. The wind was stiff out of the NE. I hit the 5 x 4s hard and then just to prove to myself that I could i did 10 minutes instead of 5 at LT. A solid hour and 40 minutes left me looking forward to this week's race, Carpenter's Park, an old venue for the series, but a new venue for me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Race Report- Chicago Cross Cup #3- Hawthorn Woods


Chloe's picture says it all. What's the phrase? Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. Well, the bear sat on me today. After last week, I had high hopes for today. Alas, it was not to be.

The course. Not much to say. Flat, straight, not very technical. About 200 m off the start we rode up one side of a toboggan hill, came down and went right back up, over a barrier, all the way back to the top and then back down.

The start. Call ups! Pretty funny. I was 2nd in the series and so got called up 2nd. They finished call ups through 1oth. I'm lined up with the leaders of the 40+, felling pretty good. Riders ready and then GO! I'm 5th into the first time up the hill going o.k.

The race. Ugh. Through the 1st and 2nd lap I'm o.k. moving between 5th and 8th. I tried to go as hard as I could at the beginning and stay with the leaders for as long as possible. just. not. To. Be. On the 3rd lap, after the hill I have no power. Nothing. I start to fade... Riders coming by me, I try to follow wheels and nothing. Fade... all the way back to 17th, I think.

Result. 17th 40+. Still score some points for the series, but definitely disappointed. I am trying to pinpoint what went wrong, to learn from it. I slurped a Roctane right before the start and that upset my stomach something fierce to the point that I just about puked with 2 to go. Certainly a mistake. Maybe it just comes to this course not being my type of course. But, everyone has to do the same course. The heat, definitely, but everyone rides in the same weather.
Aaaack. 7 more to go. Next week is another race.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Purpose


This is my cyclocross bike. The reason that this is my favorite bike is that it has only one purpose: to be raced. Sure, I use it for cross practice, but that's just a prelude to racing. Tubular wheels and tires, a single 42 chain ring, not exactly road ready. I suppose I could put road tires on it and use it for training on the road or for commuting, but to me this is a race bike, plain and simple, meant only to be pedaled in anger on race day.
Sunday is Psycho Cross at Hawthorn Woods. We have heard this is a tough course with a real shoulder-the-bike run up and some good pavement sections. Weather looks warm and sunny, so bring the whole family, I am. We're going to make a picnic out of it.
Photo: Lou Kuhn

Monday, October 6, 2008

Way to go PonyShop

In my enthusiasm to get my result out... I neglected to give props to my teammates who had some great results:

Lou, 2nd and Mark, 9th in the 30+

Roman, 4th in the 40+

Brian Conant, 2nd and Luca 4th(I think) in the 1-2s

Cliff, Jack and Scott in the 4a race that looked to be under the worst conditions of the day.

Devon in the 3s.

Carolyn in the women's 4s.

Let's keep the top 10s rolling in!

Race Report - ChiCrossCup #2- DeKalb

Chicago Cross Cup #2, DeKalb. Threats of rain the whole morning, but our race was only damp, with only some light drizzle. Ran 37psi in the Grifos. It was a little too much. I felt the rear wash out a few times. Great course, great race, great result. After our race we stuck around to watch the 3s, 1-2s and the 4as.

The Course. If only all courses could be this hard and shit eating grin fun all at the same time. Half Acre and North Central Cyclery did an excellent job. A short starting straight right into a a hairpin turn, some short straights broken up by technical twists. A bit of pavement and then a sharp run up with 1 barrier. Then down the same up, off camber turn, which turned out to be much trickier during the later races during and after the rain. Some more technical sections including the toughest turn of the course where it severely narrowed and took sharp right around a small tree where the course was full of mulch. This corner degraded each lap and by the end required you to almost stop to get through without sliding out. Then onto the longest pavement section where you could just gun it. Then back into the grass. Some technical bumpy stuff and then a single barrier, left turn into the woods where is was wet and slow, a final pavement section, where you could gun it again, back onto the grass, some off camber turns and then through the straight. About 7 minutes at speed. One thing was for sure, the start was going to be crucial and the course was going to be fast and brutal. Alot of roots and alot of bumps.
The Start This time they broke up the 30 and 40/50+, so we started only with our group. Front row to the left which would put me in line to be on the outside of the first hairpin turn. I practiced 5 or 6 starts before and knew we could not hit that turn at full speed, so my plan was to make sure I just went fast, but not too fast and straight for the outside tape of the turn. Pete Rolewicz was to my left and Roman was to my right. Riders ready! Whistle and we're off. I'm good off the line and third into the turn. We go around, I looked back and we had very slight gap. Before I knew it, we were headed to the run up.
The Race The 2 in front of me simply rode me off their wheels. I could not hold their pace. I tried. I didn't see them again. Midway through the 2nd lap Pete came around me, so now I'm 4th. As we're winding around I can Roman and a rider in red coming on strong. They both catch me. The rider in red is in front of me, Roman behind. We're working our way through the 30+ now. Red dabs in the-corner-around-the-tree-with-the mulch and we get by him, hit the pavement and Roman yells "Go Jim!" and it's full gas on the pavement. We can see Pete ahead of us and we're gaining ever so slightly. Back through the start, then through the run up and we see Pete go down in the same corner. We ask if he's o.k. and he said he thought he broke his finger/hand. I hope not, anyone hear anything?
On the start of the 4th lap we get 3 to go. Roman and I are together, trading pulls. Just before the start of 2 to go Wayne Simon from the 50+ came around, I tried to hold his wheel, which I did for about a minute and then he was gone. Behind us I can see a group of 3 a few turns behind us, not really gaining on us, but not going away either. With 1 to go, I just drilled it, everything I had left.
The result. On the podium and in the money ($30)! 3rd in the 40+.
Before the season my goals were to be top 10 and to not get lapped. After 9th at Jackson Park, the podium was the goal.
Photos: Courtesy of Carolyn at Velosnaps.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Interbike 2008- Tim Johnson

One of the coolest things about going to Interbike is the chance to meet some of the PROS. If you're lucky, maybe even an opportunity to have a conversation. Last year I got the chance to talk to Ned Overend for awhile. This year, I met Tim Johnson, the current US Cyclocross Champ. He was signing posters at the booth of the production co. that is distributing a documentary about his 2007 season called "The 9 Ball Diaries."









So, we talked about cross, of course, and us riding the same bike and that the Pony Shop has a cross only team. He seemed pretty impressed by that and signed a poster just for the shop.

Although Cannondale wasn't in attendance, a fact I find to be disappointing and lame, we did find TJ's bike at the Fizik booth.



Nice to have your intials be part of the bike model.

Roman, showing his cross form.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall

Woke up yesterday morning, got on the bike and didn't have anything in the legs. I couldn't finish my interval workout, lame, lame, lame. After three of what was supposed to be five efforts, I just stopped and crawled back into bed hoping it would all just go away. I guess the late Vegas nights caught up with me. At least I didn't come home with a persistent cough like last year.


Woke up this morning after a solid almost 9 hours of sleep. Feel much better than yesterday, but the house was cold. Didn't ride because it's Wednesday and we've got practice tonight. Feels like Fall is here!


DeKalb in 4 days. Rumor has it this course should be hard and alot of fun.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Interbike 2008 - CrossVegas

Cross Vegas was a priority as it is probably my only chance to see the top US PROS go at it. The course looked fast, but I heard later the grass was pretty thick. The course was pretty spread out so it was hard to see the whole race. I spent alot of time running from spot to spot to see as much of the lead group as possible. Lance showed. Cool. Basically, 15 guys rode off the front on the 3rd lap or so, then it whittled down to 10 and then there were some attacks and then Trebon's attack stuck.

The winner himself. Ryan Trebon before the race. I met his dad, Greg, during the race. The height definitely runs in the family. We were both trying to cross the course at the same spot when the lead group came by, both of us yelling our heads off. He introduced himself and there you have it. V-news did a piece on Greg Trebon a couple years ago.







Rumors were true. Lance Armstrong raced, riding a Trek x0. That's him in the upper left hand corner of the photo, I couldn't get any closer to him. He didn't win, but he did hang in there and finished the race. I read later that Lance rode a 53/39 for the race?!



#36. Mike Sherer. Fellow Pony Shop Cross team member. Was running fairly well until he lost a pedal. Got a call up right before Lance and started next to him. How crazy is that? Saw Ben Popper also, handed up some dollar bills.


This is the only action shot I got as my camera kind of sucks. I have no idea who this is.

Ed. Chris Strout has kindly pointed out that this is Adam Hodges-Myerson, proprieter of Cycle-Smart Coaching.


Had a great time and then went out drinking and gambling.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back from Interbike

Got back last night. I see there was some activity in the comments. Thanks for reading everyone. I'll do an Interbike post after I download some pics.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Race Report: Chicago Cross Cup #1, Jackson Park

I am so happy to have the first race over. Everything I had was spent out on the course. The Cannondale was great: handling, cornering, everything about it.



The Course. Hats off to XxX Racing. This course was alot of fun and pretty hard. Long too. It was kind of like two separate courses:one- technical, the other wide and twisty. Nice wide start into a wide right hander, left and then into some technical stuff, including a set of double uphill barriers. Then an up, down, up, onto pavement, down and up into a single barrier, down past registration, a single barrier and then into the long sections that doubled back on each other with some twisty, off camber turns back to the start. It was wet when we started but some sections started to dry. There was a little mud, just a little, enough to make things a little slick. After doing 4 practice laps, one at pace, I decided on 38/36 for tire pressure, maybe could have gone lower, but I never washed out.



The Start. Could have been better, but not really my fault. The race flier said that the 30+ would start at 10:00 and we (40+) would start at 10:02, so we would at least have a clear path. Not to be. We lined up 30+ then 40+ then 50+ and the officials then said we'd be starting at the same time. Now, instead of being front row, I'm fourth row behind the 30+. That could have been o.k., except not everyone stayed in their groups, people moved up and I can't really blame them. Riders ready! And the 2008 cross season is underway.


The Race. A little bunching up after the start, but no wasted energy. Get through the first barrier, the uphill 2 barriers and through the technical stuff and I'm passing people. As we get to the longer sections I can see that I am, I don't know, maybe 10, 20 seconds behind a group of 5- there's my goal. I chase them for 2 laps and on the 4th, I think, I finally catch them, but it was a hell of an effort. I did a little body check as in:

Me: Hey legs.
Legs: Dude were kind of busy.
Me: I know but what do you got
Legs: What do you mean?
Me: Can we get around these guys?
Legs: Once and then no more.

So, as we hit the start area, I sprinted around all 5 and held it and that was all I had. Now it was just LT to the end.

Every lap, I could see and hear people. Tammi, Elora alternating between "allez" and "meow." Luca telling me each lap "Catch a rider every lap." Brian Conant, from a different spot each lap. The C4 guys, Baughb, Dan with baby! and some folk I didn't recognize.

Kevin Klug, the leader of the 30+ caught me towards the end of his last lap, my second to last lap and my race was over.


The result. 9th in the 40+. Although the first posted results had me at dead last. We talked to the officials, including some of the guys who were posted ahead of me, but who had finished behind (thanks), and notified the officials that some thing was up and they figured it out. A special thanks for all their efforts. I don't envy their jobs especially with 3 fields scored at the same time. The team did pretty well too, competitive in all categories.

What a great start to what I hope is going to be a great season.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stream of consciousness 10:30 a.m.

Race in 2 days, got to be fast from the start to the first obstacle... don't crash at the first barrier, grant proposal has to go out by 5:00 today... what else do I have to do for that??? fast at the start. coffee, yes, more please, thank you. More US bail outs of mortgage lenders, how about my bailout? or yours? Vegas, Interbike, bike, bike porn. I have an ace and a 6, dealer shows a 2-6, what do you do? hit, no double. I said yes to more coffee. Text from Lou, getting psyched, respond- yeah I'm nervous. Grant proposal just got alot easier, no pressure, that's better. phone call, phone call, phone call. E-mail, get through those, delete, delete, delete, respond, save, save, delete... dealer has a 3, I have 15, stand. Dealer has a 7, I have 14, hit. save, save, respond. Phone call, let it go to voicemail. Check voicemail, I needed to talk to him. Call back. delete, delete, respond. Get to Jackson Park by 8:00 a.m. Plenty of time, plenty of time to kit up, warm up, number up and preview the course, especially the start. Easy ride tomorrow, some LT, some prints, hour maybe a little more, fresh legs for Sunday. dealer has a 5, I have a pair of 8s, split. Coffee, don't mind if I do.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

3 days

Great practice last night. Finally, after 6 practices I'm feeling more confident on the new bike. Went low on the pressure- like 30-32 on the Grifos. When I jumped out of the saddle on the pavement sections, I could feel the rim, very weird. We did 2 lines for the starts, which was good because I probably won't be able to get a front row spot every time. That's the last hard workout before Sunday and the first race.

Today and tomorrow I'm supposed to do recovery rides, which as you should know by now are my favorite rides of the week. I was actually going to just blow today off and sleep in, but then I woke up 5:15 a.m. I tried to fight it, I rolled over and thought I had fallen back asleep. Then I opened my eyes and the clock said 5:18, so much for that. I got up and rode for an hour. I guess my body knows better than I do what I need.

3 days to Jackson Park, then Vegas!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday

The US Constitution was adopted on Sept. 17, 1787 by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

http://www.xmission.com/~nccs/freedom_defined/index.htm?const.html&2

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Random

Pardon the randomness, but I have alot of nervous energy. Combination of nerves as we approach the first race on Sunday and maybe just a little too much coffee.

Pyramids this a.m., mostly in the dark under a full moon. These are all out efforts, big ring, heart pounding. All 10 were good, higher than last week.

Even with all the rain this past weekend, I wish we had started racing already. Reading other people's first race reports: Molly, Sherer, has me chomping at the proverbial bit.

I'm going to miss Strout this year. He was instrumental in getting me to drink the kool-aid. I hope he comes out to some of the races to heckle us!

Seeing the complete team list for Pony Cross is pretty awesome. There are some mighty strong riders in there. I feel very honored to race with them.

Got the second set of tubulars dialed, so the bike is ready.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Theme song

I've been a Metallica head for a long time, since my freshman year of college, 1984, yeah I am that old. Anyway, I got their new album, Death Magnetic, on Friday and it is awesome! 11 songs, all but one over 7 minutes loang, some good metal chunk for ears.

I think I found the soundtrack for cross season.

"Broken Beat & Scarred"

You rise, you fall, your down and you rise again
What don't Kill you Makes you more strong
You rise, you fall, your down and you rise again
What don't Kill you Made you more strong
Rise, Fall down, Rise again
What don't Kill you Makes you more strong
Rise, Fall down, Rise again
What don't Kill you Made you more strong

Through black days through black nights
Through pitch black insights

Breaking your teeth on the high life??
Show your scars
Cutting your feet on the hard earth running
Show your scars
Broken Beat and Scarred
But we die hard

Dawn, the death, the fight to the final breath
What don't Kill you Made you more strong
The Dawn, the death, the fight to the final breath
What don't Kill you Make you more strong
Dawn, Death, Fight Final breath
What don't Kill you Make you more strong
Dawn, Death, Fight Final breath
What don't Kill you Make you more strong

Show your scars
Cutting your feet on the hard earth running
Show your scars
Breaking your life and Broken Beat and Scarred

But we die hard


7 days.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Out

Wiped out. That's how I fell right now. Cross practice last night was great. Every week I get a little better. This week's lesson was learning to lean the tubulars hard into the turns, no brakes, just aim and lean and you know what? They held, every time. I'm still playing with the pressure, but I think I have settled on 32-36. At least on the dry courses, like what we have been practicing on. Barriers, 5 starts and then tempo. I'm still not as fast through the barriers as I'd like, but getting faster each time.

Lou with the uber-pump.


I got up at 5:30 a.m. to do the pyramids. This is about as tough a workout as I've done. Basically, you start at 1 minute and work up to 3 minutes at 30 second jumps and then back down- full out for the whole interval and then double rest in between, so 1 minute on, 2 off etc.



With cross practice ending at 7:30 p.m. and the interval workout starting at 6:00 a.m., I did 3 hours of training in around 14 hours. At the end of the workout I was yawning and trying not to puke at the same time.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Upgrade

I received this e-mail yesterday:

James,

Your upgrade request has been approved and processed. Please see the
attached letter for further information.


Last week I applied to upgrade to Cat 3 for cross. It's not a big deal to go from a 4 to a 3, but it gives me the oppurtunity to do back to back races of 45 minutes each this season if Brian pushes me to do them.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Give Blood


What's cross without a little blood? Cross practice rocked tonight. Had some major mental break throughs on dismounting and the barriers. Mark, Roman, Lou all gave me some help today. Final thought is that I need to dismount EARLY, like 3 bike lengths or so before the barriers. When we did the 30 minutes of tempo I made it through all the barriers clean.
Cross is in the air. 18 days to Cross Cup #1 (Jackson Park). 18 days!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Second Opportunity

Last week presented another opportunity to ride all 3 bikes.

Rest week on the road bike- I love those weeks. Cross practice on Wednesday. The Cannondale is feeling better and better every time I ride it. Still struggling with the barriers a bit, but I am determined to get them down.

Tammi set up a sitter for Sunday a.m., so it was Judson Saturday, Palos Sunday and Judson Monday. Palos was crowded even at 7:00 a.m. when we got there. Lots of riders asking about the course for next week's race. If you look at what's out there, the race course options are pretty limited. In order for the course to loop nicely and had around 6-8 miles per lap, it almost certainly has to use 3 ravines and the trails on that part of the area. Since everyone else was going to ride there, we decided to ride the cemetery loop and avoid as many riders we could. There's almost no way that the race could use the cemetery loop as the course would have to cross 95th St. to get there. You can there from Bullfrog, but that trail is not really conducive to racing.
So we basically just did the yellow to get to the cemetery and then mile and half laps. Since I don't know that trail very well, each lap was a little bit different. It is my favorite piece of trail out there. Very well thought out, using the natural flow of the land to combine enough up and down and tight, twisty single track. If you squint just enough, you can almost forget that your just outside of Chicago.
Then we took Elora to the Kohl's Children's Museum and let her run around for 2 hours on sensory overload. It is a pretty cool place. Got back in the car and she crashed out for a couple of hours.

Of course, when it came time for face painting, she had to be a kitty.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Echoes

I watched Barrack Obama's speech last night. I thought it was very good, not great, but very good. He's not really speaking to me as I already voted for him and will vote for him.

Two things that struck me though were, first, there were 80,000 people there listening to him. When was the last time a candidate got that many people at an event?

Second, was the echoes I could here outside my house. At one point I turned the sound off and could still hear the speech through our open windows as it echoed down the block from other people's televisions. Crazy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Race fliers up

The race fliers are up at the Chicago Cross Cup site for the cross clinic on September 13 and Jackson Park. I was thinking about doing the clinic, but don't really have the $45. We'll see.

Poster Nutbag or let's get a dog

In telling Elora that one of the cats died, I was reminded of the Phish song "Harpua." Harpua was generally a once-a-tour-if-you-were-lucky occurrence, usually saved for a special occasion. I saw about 50 Phish shows and I don't think I ever heard it.

It tells the story of a "fat sweaty bulldog" named Harpua raised by a mean man who lives out in the swamp near this small town.


Me and Harpua
Spastic dead-eyed hound
Oozing dreadlock skullcap
We're coming to your town
We'll help you party down


Also in this town lived a boy named Jimmy who had a very nice cat that he called "Poster Nutbag." One day, Harpua is walking through the forest looking for trouble and finds P. Nutbag enjoying his day. A storm rolls in as Harpua attacks Poster. And the song ends with Jimmy's dad informing Jimmy about Poster's fate:



Jimmy...Jimmy
Yes, Dad
Jimmy, I have some bad news...
What might that be...Dad?
It's about your cat, Poster...
You wouldn't be talking about Poster Nutbag, now would you?

Your cat died!
Poster is dead
Poster is dead
Poster's so dead
How about a goldfish?

I don't want a goldfish
How about a goldfish?
I don't...want a goldfish
How about a goldfish?
I don't want...a goldfish
I want...
A dog

Or in our case, let's get another dog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Summer gone

Labor Day is next week! I have no idea where this summer went. Lots of miles, lots of efforts, lots of time spent on the bike.


Cross practices are going well, getting faster over the barriers, but have alot of work to do. While my remounts need some work too, I have decided to focus on the dismount and speed through the barriers and then work on the remount. Too many things to think about at the same time.

Got a recovery week this week as Brian thought my training load last week was the hardest I have done all season. I definitely needed it. It's interesting that I am given a rest week at the exact time that I am feeling like I need one. I decided when I made the decision to train with a coach that I wasn't going to ask for rest weeks, but rather see how things would go. So far, every time I have started to feel like I needed one, I got one. Anywhoo, this week is all easy rides, cross practice and back on Judson for Saturday. This will most likely be the last weekend on Judson. Time to focus on shorter more intense efforts leading into the race season.

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We had to put one of our cats to sleep on Friday. On Wednesday we discovered that he wasn't eating nor using the litter box, both of which are very rare given his walrus like appearance. We called the vet who said he could just be backed up or it could be a hairball issue so Tammi brought him in. Turns out he had a large tumor in his abdomen that was blocking everything and causing him alot of discomfort. Surgery was an option, but he was 14, so not really. So, Tammi made the decision and stayed with him.
Then we had to tell Elora. Telling a 3 year old that one of the cats is dead was well, as upsetting for us as it was for her. I just told her and let her work it through and answered her questions. She cried, which made us cry and then she said "we could get another cat and then we would still have 2 cats, how about that?"
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This is one of the biggest and tallest sunflowers I have ever seen. Over 8 feet tall!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Opportunity

It's pretty rare that I have the opportunity to ride all of my bikes in any given week. Last week, though, presented just such an opportunity.

Tuesday and Thursday LTs kicked my ass! Saturday Judson. 135 road miles.


Wednesday, cross practice. First ride on the new bike, first barriers of the year etc.

Sunday, MTB time, a little over 2 hours at Palos. We ran into Dan and friend.


Here's some pictures of Tammi's Bontrager with the SRAM kit. She really likes it. She got the bike in the summer of 1998, I think. It originally had an XT kit on it. Still a bit heavy by today's standards, but she likes the ride of that steel bike.



Friday, August 15, 2008

Ink- Natasha Kai- winning goal against Canada

I watched the end of the U.S. woman's quarterfinal match against Canada this morning. Natasha Kai scored the winning goal in the 102nd minute, a well placed header off a cross from Shannon Boxx.



U.S. soccer's website says she has 19 tattoos!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tattoos of the Peloton #26 - Svein Tuft


Current Canadien TT champion, photgraphed in Beijing. Tattoo says "We will never be here again."