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

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."

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed

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.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed

Saturday, December 13, 2008


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


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.