Saturday, November 27, 2010

In Between Chapters

So I'm not racing cross since I don't currently have a cross bike. This means time for lots of road riding that I wouldn't usually do over the winter. I have already done more milage in November then in September and October combined.

Also, new bikes (yes, plural) have been ordered. More to come......

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rumble on the River and a Farewell......

So about a week ago, Rolando and I headed to San Antonio for the Rumble on the River CX race. This is a race that Rob Kane has put on for a couple of years and is a absolutely fantastic course. In my opinion (and its an opinion that is based on a fairly limited exposure to CX courses) it is one of the better mixes of difficulty and flow.

Last year this course tore a Challenge Grifo from rim while trying to ride a steep concrete bank. This year the entire course had my number. I went down four times and the course managed to suck every last bit of fight out of me. I finished a disappointing 16th (that seems to be a theme for me this year) and it left me wondering if this entire year of cross was going to be lost. The form just doesn't seem to be getting any better.

As we headed back to Austin and had almost arrived at my house, a young girl rear-ended Rolando's SUV and our bikes on the hitch rack took the brunt of the force. Thankfully we weren't more than jarred by the impact but now we are trying to work with an insurance company to replace our cross bikes. I guess this was a sign that this cross season has faded away into the horizon. Here is one last picture of my faithful Van Dessel before it is laid to rest.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Webberville & Manor

My second cross weekend begin at Webberville. This was one of my favorite courses last year and was the beginning of my success in racing cross. I had a good start and managed to avoid the chaos seen in the photo sequence below. I was sitting fourth about halfway through the first lap and when we made the first transition to the pavement and I felt my rear tire going flat. I made it to the wheel pit but my wheel change was slow and I was now dead last. I spent the next several laps chasing back up and eventually made my way back through half the field to finish 16th. It was very disappointing because it was the best my legs have felt this year.

Sunday's race in Manor was the site of the State Championship last year. This year the course was dry and had almost no resemblance to last years mud fest. My current lack of fitness is most apparent on the 2nd day of a weekend of racing and I definitely didn't have the pop in my legs that I had at Webberville. It was a strong field and after several laps I was sitting about 16th again when I slipped through a corner and dropped my chain. I fell back 4 positions and started to loose my motivation. This is when my teammate and absolute powerhouse Kevin Barton caught me. Kevin was on his second race having completed the 40+ race prior to our race but that didn't stop him from telling me to get on and then hammering till we caught the 3 guys that passed me when I had my mishap. He pulled all the way till the finish and then launched me for another 16th place. It was an incredible act of sacrifice that makes this team so special.

1st lap of Webberville barrier photo sequence:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tour de Gruene

I took a break from my lackluster cross racing to do an annual favorite, the Tour de Gruene TT. The 3 previous years I have competed in the team time trial but never in the individual time trial. This year I decided to compete in both despite my recent lack of form.

Saturday was the individual TT. It was an out and back course on River road that is part of the team time trial course so I had ridden the out before but never done it backwards like the back leg. This was also my first attempt at pacing on a TT with power. (my other attempt on the State TT ended prematurely due to a blown tire). I started out and it felt like a slight uphill with a tailwind so I tried not to use to much energy on the out leg. I felt slow so at the turn-around I started to push it a little more. There were a lot of riders on the road and some cars as well with a speed limit of 25 mph. This made for a lot of rabbits to chase and I finished the back leg strong and my numbers showed I did a good job of managing my power output. I finished with a time of 38:02 and an average speed of 25.2 mph. This won my age-group/class.

Sunday was the two man team TT that I did with Clint Fiedler. This was my first year with Clint but he's a beast so I hoped I could hang with him. Through the beginning of the ride I felt good and we kept a good pace all the way through the hill. The hill felt especially long and hard this year and I tried to keep a good pace without pushing to the point of blowing up. After we got over Clint recovered fast and started doing a lot of work but I wasn't feeling as strong. The winds were also tough and every turn in the front gust would move you around on the road and make you white knuckle it a bit. We approached the final few turns and Clint who had done the majority of the work those last few miles moved over so I could pull through. I tried to pull but had nothing left. Clint came back around and finished strong but I couldn't grab his wheel and blew up as I was within sight of the finish line. I limped across the line and we finished with a 1:06:40 with an average speed of 24.6 mph for 3rd in our age group/class.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cross Season Begins

Continuing the trend of playing catch up on racing, 3 weeks ago was the beginning of cyclocross. Thursday night was Driveway Cross and run on the same course as Saturday's Alchemy Bicycles Crit & Cross. It was a rough course but it felt good to be on the cross bike again. I finished 4th in the "B" race.

Saturday's Alchemy Bicycles was an extended version of the Driveway Cross but was run the opposite direction. It was the first course I had run the carbon rims and quickly found on the two steep, bouncy descents that braking was close to non-existent. As the race progressed, the braking continued to become less effective till it was practically just hanging on and hoping for the best. I wasn't feeling in great shape but still managed 10th in a very strong "B" field.

Sunday was a technical course that looked to favor me a little better but my lack of shape reared it's ugly head. I quickly realized I had no legs and to make things worse, the poor braking performance continued. The brakes didn't have good power but all the heavy braking had caused one of the return springs to start to give and the front brake started rubbing as well. It was not a good race and I was frustrated and angry by the end. I finished 17th, which was near the back of the smallish field.

I immediately went home and ordered some Avid Shorty Ultimate to replace the old Tektro brakes I had been using. I skipped Houston the following weekend and will race cross again after Tour de Gruene.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Catching Up

A lot has happened since I last posted about 3 months ago so I'll try to give a quick summary.

State TT in August:
The individual TT was on Saturday and it was definitely my "target" race of the year. It was also my first big TT since using a power meter. I had done a couple of practice runs on the course leading up to the race and felt good about my chances.
It started out well and by the time I got to the turn around I felt strong and was under my target time. I hit the brakes and suddenly my rear wheel slid in the drop outs and locked up. I managed to keep the bike upright as I skidded to a stop but the rear wheel was stuck with the tension of the chain. After fighting with it for a couple of minutes, I managed to get it loose and tried to tighten it. I then headed off on the way back but was effectively out of contention. Suddenly on a downhill section, my rear wheel blew out and the wheel locked again at about 30 mph. Miraculously, I managed to bring the bike to a stop without wiping out but my race was over. It was frustrating to say the least.

The Team TT was the following day and I was determined to have a good effort to make up for the disappointment of the previous day. I was without a disc wheel due to the blowout so I used my 88 on the rear. Mike Reed, Jonathan Skelley, Conner and I rode well together but I never found the great rhythm that I had the day before and fought the bike the entire time. We managed 5th place which didn't make up for the previous day.

Tour of Austin in September was my next race.
It was a TT followed by 3 crits over Labor Day weekend. The TT on Friday evening was a short, hard, and technical TT with one short steep hill. I had never been on the course before riding it and it showed when I raced. I over-shot a corner heading into a S-bend and went through the grass. I ended up 7th but missed top 3 by 5 seconds. The crit on Saturday was hard and I managed a field finish which is an improvement for a non-crit guy like myself. By Sunday the heat and my lack of form showed up and I was shelled half way through the crit. At that point I packed it up and skipped the Monday race. I continue to feel more comfortable and confident in crits but I'm still a long way away from being competitive.

October we bought a house and moved to Austin. I'm no longer commuting to work and trying to find riding time has been difficult but I love owning a house and we are doing a lot of rewarding work to make it ours.

That's a quick synopsis to get me close to caught up and I'll finish the rest in another post.