Monday, September 26, 2011


Expectations are a tricky thing.  They can totally lead you astray, let you down, or build you up.  I once read a book about relationships that suggested eliminating expectations.  According to the book if you don't expect something from someone then you will not be let down when your expectations are not met.  Ideally this would leave you in a constant state of "How nice of a surprise that was!"  I spent some time thinking on this notion and I simply don't feel that this mentality is within my grasp.  I have so many expectations from myself and others every day, to accomplish stuff at work, be a good husband, etc.  I also feel it is important to have expectations for my performance in training and races.  If there is no expectation then where would the motivation to suffer come from?  I just don't think I could dig that deep, regardless of how wonderful it would be to always think, "What a surprise that I was able to finish!"

It is an interesting notion but it seems I will just have to proceed with having expectations and opening myself up to the possibility of disappointment.  With that in mind I prepare for this coming weekend's race, the final race of the year on my mountain bike.  I will do my best and hope that in doing so I will fulfill my expectations.  In this case though, disappointment can be fuel for winter training!  Yeah I am already looking forward to the 2012 MTB season!!!!!

With that out of the way...  "It was a nice surprise to win this weekend!"

Plans were laid very late to head to Camarillo for the Pacifica Crossfest, the second stop of the Socal Cross Series.  Saturday when we awoke we still didn't have a plan but it came together nicely!  After a morning of gluing tubulars (Specialized Tracers on Williams CX wheels) we did a short CX ride from the house up to SRP and back.

After the ride I prepped bikes and packed the bike stuff in the truck while Allison packed the essentials for the weekend.  We shared the ride and hotel with a buddy (Thanks for joining us Scott!) and that was great because it made the trip much more reasonable cost wise.

We started the drive with a stop in at Rock N' Road in Anaheim Hills to pick up some much needed stuff.  The rest of the drive was painfully slow and I was not such a happy camper (think pre-menstrual female), sorry to Scott and Allison.  Though eating an entire bag of Trader Joes triple chocolate chip cookies did seem to help...

Sunday we were up and had our typical race breakfast, except I went bonus and ate a fresh waffle from the "Continental Breakfast" at the motel.  (YUM!)  We arrived at the venue with lots of time to spare and then proceeded to walk the course.  The course was RAD but walking it took way too long.  In some regards I am glad we didn't ride it due to the 1" tall rebar puncture section (this was later fixed I was told), destroying our only set of tubulars pre-riding would have been bad!  After walking the course and checking in I suited up and started a warm up.  It was nice to have already connected the course up in my head from the walk!!!!

I found out on the start line that 1st and 2nd place from last Sunday's race were not racing this race.  That was a bit of a disappointment.  I was looking forward to a rematch!  I got a call up though and that is always nice. On the sound of the horn I decided to drill it and take the holeshot to avoid a possible pile-up in the first slick wet left hander on the pavement.  Once out front I decided to go ahead and stay there where I wouldn't have to worry about dicey handling skills or questionable tactics.

I knew that a chase group would form and a couple laps into the race they caught me.  I was stoked to see Jeff and the other guy (MRI was all I remember from his kit) as it gave me a chance to recover some in their draft.  We were only together as a group of three for a short time as the guy in the MRI kit made a mistake crossing the slippery sidewalk at high speed and went down (I tried to avoid him and his bike but ran over his ankles, very sorry!).  I was forced to put in a very big dig to catch back up to Jeff after having slowed significantly due to the crash and was unsure of whether or not I would wind up able to hang for the remainder of the race!

I passed Jeff again a lap or so later to take the wind on the long sections and wondered if it was a smart tactical move but gambled that I could save more energy through the corners if I had a clear track ahead.  My tubulars were working great and I had the corners dialed!  Jeff stayed close to my wheel right up until he made a mistake entering the stairs.  It was very bumpy and sandy and I heard him go down behind me.  I yelled back "Sorry Jeff!" as I didn't intend to wait up.  The finishing laps I rode solo as I played seek and destroy through some of the slower riders.  It was a great race!

After my race I led Allison around the track and pointed out my lines, then grabbed a camera and did my duty capturing images for her before lubing my chain to warm up for the Elite men's race.  I didn't plan on doing great in the race but wanted to maximize my workout for the day!  I even talked Allison into going again!  The second race was very taxing but this time I only had one minor spill and finished 14th, still on the lead lap!  Good times!

Time to prep for State Champs on Sunday!  See you there!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday musings...

I have been thinking about a blog post for a while that would go through all the things that make my life better.  Things that would have a major impact if I didn't have them anymore.  You see I am fortunate and there is a long list of them... if you really know me it is likely that you can guess most of them and that you already know where this post is going.

Near the top of the list is my collection of Oakley sunglasses.  Everyone knows I broke my neck last year.  The only other injury that my parents ever used to scare me out of doing something was putting an eye out.

(You know the story...  "Don't **insert crazy reckless activity here** because you will **insert one here**!  A) break your neck or B) put an eye out)

I have already broken my neck so putting an eye out is the only thing left that scares me.

Well, I wear Oakley's nearly 100% of the time now because they will protect my eyes.  Mostly because I don't think an eye patch would look good on me!

Some other things that I have added or taken off  the list as my mind churns on all the cool things that I have the pleasure of having in my life: my new Golf TDI to move us around so fuel efficient and comfortably, my Specialized CruX to ride no matter what surface or terrain, my sweet BBQ to cook on every single night, my ancient first generation Droid phone to stay in touch with everyone, my Garmin to help me keep track of my training, my Vibram Five Finger shoes that keep my foot pain free when off the bike, Purist water bottles to keep whatever I happen to be drinking from dribbling all over me....

The list was getting ever so long and I kept trying to remember different things as I went through my day.  I worried that there was no way I could actually capture all these things in a blog post, so then I started trying to organize these things into categories like Bike Related, or Cooking and Nutrition so that I could group things and post them separately.  My mind was churning!

Then we (my wife and I, you see we are inseparable) did a ride earlier this week and on that ride I started to think only one thing mattered.  The bottle of Coke that would bring me back from horrible bonkage and get me back to work so I could finish my day.

That was a turning point in the train of thought that I had.  Out of all the things that I had, only a Coke mattered?  I still had a sweet Topeak multi tool in my awesome Topeak saddle bag, I still had a sweet pair of split jackets to protect my eyes, my Specialized CruX to ride, Crank Brothers pedals, Garmin in case I forgot where I was, and my not so trusty Droid that worked when I needed it most to call Allison when I was laying on the side of the road bleeding profusely with a broken neck "Come get me I'm hurt!"...

Then it all came together.  All I need in the whole world, the one thing that makes everything good no matter where I go or what I am doing.  Keeping me safe and sane (mostly).

My other half, the W to my M, the Yin to my Yang.  Love this girl.  Nuff said.

Have a stellar weekend!  I know I will cuz she will be with me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ups and Downs

With the first CX race out of the way for the season in Vegas, and a very expensive collision with a Wile E Coyote in the TDI on the way home, it was time to kick off the Socal Cross Series.

This year the first race was held in Downtown LA.  This urban setting was in stark contrast to the rural Irvine Lake season opener last year that was my first experience with a cross bike/race.  Since this race was a one day only race, we had Saturday free to enjoy ourselves.  (Translation: ride bikes and do race prep)  One of the big downsides to racing so much is having to race prep the bikes so often!

In any case after a fun spin on the CX bikes (LOVE my Specialized CruX!!) on Saturday and a bunch of race prepping we headed to LA on Sunday morning to get our race on.  I had a bit different of a setup on my bike with some Kenda Small Block 8's on the Mavic Ksyrium wheels from my road bike. (read lighter than stock wheels)

I had tried them out on Saturday on our ride and they seemed to work really well for our dusty dry Socal conditions while rolling really well on the pavement.  The compound feels good (soft and supple) and they have lots of siping in the tread for traction.  I can't comment on longevity, but when new these tires are quite good.

Once at the races we got checked in and wandered around talking to race buddies.  Eventually I kitted up and checked out the course.  It was a really fun course with a set of stairs, typically tall UCI barriers, and a fun "BMX" section with some small jump-like obstacles.  It was definitely going to be hot and dusty so I was really glad we brought our spray bottle of Kool N Fit!

This stuff works great and really helps I think.  You can purchase it at Rock N' Road Cyclery.

There were no call-ups for the first race of the year so I cut my warm-up a bit short and got a spot in staging.  There were a bunch of guys already standing around and when we finally lined up I was near enough to the front.  Off the start I made a good move and had the right gear putting me in the front, PERFECT.

I might have had the hole shot but I let up a bit as I was worried about going too hard.

Pretty sure the above picture illustrates that I was about 6th wheel.  I was very fortunate to not go down harder on an off camber grass right hander when I tried to pedal through it and got a pedal strike, NOT PERFECT.  As the race wore on there was  one rider off the front with a good sized gap, and three of us in a chase pack.

No need to hop this high dummy!  Wasted energy.
At first it seemed that we were going to work together but I am not so good with these tactics and pulled on what seemed like the longest headwind section of the lap.  I was feeling a bit tapped out so I hoped to sit on and recover a bit.

Chase pack in this shot.

That is exactly when the eventual second place finisher put in a dig.  The other guy in the group of three accelerated to chase, then sat up and I was indecisive.  I was worried that if I pulled again I would pop so I didn't.

Not fast enough through the barriers, these guys are good and were gaining a few feet on me here.
Lesson #1 learned.  If I can chase, chase.  For the rest of the race I was "racing for third" (quote from JV of Team Garmin Cervelo, Allison and I will forever remember that footage!) and was decisively the second loser after shutting it down to save some energy for the Elite race.

Wrong step, I was third but was in a hurry to get over for Elite race staging.
I wasn't feeling so great after the 35+ race so I didn't know what to expect from my Elite race.  I was lined up towards the back of the group (pretty sure I was 5th row) because I just didn't want to be in the way of the fast guys if I was sucking.  Again I had a decent start and moved up some but not far enough to get clean air for my intake.

I sucked copious amounts of dirt into my engine!  Maybe trying to sprint while holding my breath to not suck dirt is a bad idea...

Maybe I need one of these in case I decide to race Elite again...

I dangled off the back of the second group for a long time (it seemed like forever but was probably only a couple laps) till I made a mistake in a corner and went down.  I was really fatigued and took a moment to get going again.  A few riders came back to me from the group ahead and when Casey Williams came back I decided that maybe we could work together.  On the long Start straight I gave him a solid push and said "Lets go!".  He tucked down and started drilling it so I jumped on.  Towards the end of the straight I called up not to blow and he said he already had (could have fooled me!) so I offered to pull into the wind.

Random picture of me suffering, does not correlate with story as my leg isn't dirty from the first mistake.
The rest of the lap I pulled and he recovered.  Soon another rider drifted back and when Casey and this other rider accelerated exchanging attacks I was left solo.  Lesson #2: Casey Williams will recover and rip my legs off if I help him.  By solo I mean I felt like I was the last guy on course!  Several places where the course looped back on itself I was looking for any riders behind and there was no one!  I reminded myself that I was out here for the workout so I put my head down and tried to keep the power going.

Now my leg is dirty, the group in the background is where I wish I was!
A bit later (once again it seemed like forever) another rider came back from the group ahead.  We only had a couple laps left in the race and I just wanted to finish out my workout but this dude had other motives.  He wanted to play games and see if he could stay ahead of me at all cost.  To that end he proceeded to soft pedal and block me and push me into the tape.  It was really aggravating and after being slammed to the tape 5 or so times I got a bit mad (STUPID).  Really I just wanted to get my workout in, there is no glory in battling for 20th place!  Anyway I managed to pull up next to him and instead of focusing on accelerating past him I threw an elbow.  Not sure what happened next but I found myself slamming to the ground.  Lesson #3: Don't fuck around battling for 20th if someone wants to race like that; either get by cleanly, drop back, or better yet pull out of the race because it is so not worth it.

Crashing was all the excuse I needed to quit so I walked off course and sat down, glad that the suffering was over for the day.  (QUITTER!)  I think this is the first race I have ever quit.  I honestly don't know why I had such anxiety about it.  Quitting isn't so bad...  :)

The injury tally; deep abrasions on my left knee, left elbow, left shoulder, and a massive contusion on my left hip.  So. Not. Worth. It.  Lots of trips to the freezer for ice bags, pain, and wasted money on bandages...

Despite still being quite stiff and sore I got back on the bike today after taking Monday off entirely and did a nice steady ride with the wife. I love riding bikes with her!

Need to start being disciplined with my eating, I look chubby!
See you at the next one! (hopefully ready to rock with injuries mostly healed...)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Interbike Craziness

Funny, if you read that title you might think I was dumb enough to repeat last year and wind up drinking too much and puking.  That didn't happen, though I did feel like puking at one point...  that was during the race.

Stepping back a bit, the craziness started early in the week.  Allison needed to have the tubular tires glued to her Vuelta wheels for Cross Vegas.

I had never glued tires before.  Not only had I never glued tires before, I wasn't sure what tires to glue!  The idea that I had to pick the right tires (only get one shot at it with the tubulars and we had one set of tires and one set of wheels) and get them done correctly on the first shot, really had me stressed out!  I even asked people on the Interwebs which tires to use and how to glue!

After a great deal of deliberation I picked the set of Specialized Triggers.

I had purchased a set of Tracers as well, but heard that the course was nearly all grass at Cross Vegas and figured that the file treads might help my girl out with a little lower rolling resistance.  The gluing process went pretty horribly.  It was terribly messy and I am sure I made mistakes.  Learning new things isn't always easy.

The next step in preparation for Cross Vegas was to do a little "Pimp My Ride" session with Allison's 2012 Specialized CruX race bike.  She was struggling a little to heft the bike on run-ups so dropping a little weight seemed prudent before sending her out to be eaten alive by the skinsuit clad wolves.  I had an extra set of Sworks road cranks laying around from the module that got ruined when I broke my neck so I put a CX-able spider and rings on it from Rock N' Road Cyclery.

I also put her sweet Crank Brothers Eggbeater 11's that I had purchased for her mountain bike race season on the bike.

Those pieces helped some, then I added the old Race Face seatpost (Next SL 2008 vintage) from her Salsa Dos Niner frame that has been hanging in the garage, and one of the really awesome Titanium railed Phenom saddles.

When all was said and done I dropped about 2 pounds off the stock bike (that had Crank Brothers Eggy 3's on it).

Feeling pretty satisfied with the result of my efforts, I turned my attention to my CruX.  Unfortunately it was already well past my bed time and we were supposed to get up early to hit the road to Vegas so all I could manage to do was dig out some Kenda Kommando tires that had been raced last year and install them on a stock wheelset.

They work well in grass, but I am not rolling 'ze uber peemp setup like the rich kids with carbon tubulars!  Other than that my bike is 100% stock with Eggbeater 3's.

Wednesday we headed out (later than Allison wanted I assure you) and not long into the drive she was playing on her phone and realized that she had messed up a critical meeting detail.  The rest of the ride was interesting and I wound up wasting some extra fuel to try and get us there a bit faster.  We then checked me into my race and wandered around the show a bit to see who we could talk to.

Topeak's booth was pretty much just inside the front door, so that was our first stop and we chatted with Eddie for a while about product we had been using.  He didn't remember sending us this one but it is probably my favorite pocket multi-tool for training rides!

We also swung by the Twin Six booth to say thanks in person for the BRAAAP! tee they sent me when I had my broken neck last year.  It is probably my most favorite t-shirt of all time.

We went by the Specialized booth too.  It was sweet to see the World Champion (men's) bike complete with mud.  His bike had some interesting stuff on it like prototype grip shift from SRAM and other stuff like a braze on FD (SRAM Red).

Swinging by the Ergon booth we saw the new colorful grips (in addition to Green, White, and Black they now have even lighter GA1's in Red!!!!) and the sweet new saddles.  The carbon railed saddles looked very nice! (good flex, super light, sweet design).

Funny that we wind up going to places like Vegas to see him as he lives just across the freeway from us, but we swung by the Turner booth and talked to Dave Turner for a while.  Dave has lost a lot of weight this year and is looking super fit!  It is always a pleasure to hang out and talk to Dave as the depth and breadth of his knowledge in the sport is amazing. If for some reason I am ever tempted to purchase another bike that isn't Specialized, I am sure I would wind up on one of Dave's bikes.

After the short trip through the show we headed over to the venue to get ready to race.

We also scored the coolest hats ever made.

The race itself didn't go so great for me, though it was an excellent workout.  I started on the last row of the 160 some odd riders.

As we lined up I joked about starting backwards, it seemed as futile as thinking I could pass the mass of people in front of me.  When we started I was just passing however I could.  On the start loop I had moved up quite a bit I think.

I was still making moves when things went awry right before the pit zone.  I was on the inside, I called the pass, a guy came over on me, I called it again, and he put me into the tape.  I have no idea how Brandon Gritters rides through the tape all the time and never gets jammed up, but a stake jammed my right crank arm and tape was wrapped everywhere when I tried to get back up.  After putting my chain back on I was solidly near the back of the race.  Oh well...

I worked my butt off after that.  I was making passes and moving up.  I caught Bob Kmetz (Sho-Air rider) and he and I worked together for a little while.  He was on my wheel when I made a pretty costly mistake.  I was pushing hard going through a right hand decreasing radius turn and had been drifting that one pretty heavily all night.  Well as the night wore on the traction went away from my tires and I failed to factor that in, down I went knocking my shifter and bars askew (I think I also bent something, pretty sure the right side of the bars is not supposed to be higher than the left).  I spent a little time getting everything somewhat straight again before resuming my workout.  I did what I could, netting 66th overall.  Hopefully not an indication of my season to come.

Allison's race on the other hand was awesome!  She raced really well despite not having done any speed work.  Her speed through the barriers and on run-ups hurts her some, but she otherwise rode like a champ to 20th place and nearly reeled in Kathy Sherwin at the end.  Allison actually beat the French National Champion.  I am sure she had a good excuse though...

After the race we hung out and drank with friends at the Crank Brothers tent, then crashed the Specialized BBQ, and finally went to our motel and checked in.  It was late and apparently they oversold, gave the broom closet to someone else, so all they had left to give out was a phat suite!  On the way up there we saw "Coltrain" and Allison arranged to meet him in the bar for drinks (really!?  I was so ready for sleep!)

One of the nicest rooms I have ever stayed in.  Vegas isn't the terrible place everyone claims!

We headed straight downstairs and hit up the bar where Allison rode a mechanical bull for the first time ever.  Amanda Schaper backed down from her own challenge (quitter!) but I will try not to hold it against her (quitter!).  I didn't get pics, but Danger did get a video that will later be used to blackmail my wife.  :)

After closing down the joint we wound up going out for breakfast (it was almost time for it on our regular schedule) and then finally got to put the Jacuzzi in our suite to good use.

Somehow our internal clocks were still functioning and we got up shortly after closing our eyes.  After a Mann sized breakfast we headed back into the show.  We visited our friends at Specialized again, and stopped by Swiftwick and Kuat among others.  It was all too easy to blow the entire day wandering and chatting with all the great people we know in the bike industry!

Unfortunately just as the party started at 4pm we decided it was time to make the long drive home.  This was probably a bad idea.  It took us something like an hour to get to the freeway and finally get up to speed.  The drive was uneventful right up until a suicidal coyote ran out in front of our little TDI.  I was driving 65mph and only just caught a glimpse of him before the impact, nothing I could have done.  He totally wrecked my bumper!

It is worse than it looks in the picture as the entire grill broke (I am just hoping that there was no damage to the inter-cooler) I assure you and will be putting at least a $500 dent in our CX racing funds.  So the trip to Vegas had it's ups and downs, overall though it was a good time and I feel it was worth while.

In any case I am hoping to scrape together a decent race this weekend.  Hope to see everyone out in LA!