Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A late Thanks-giving and Shades of Grey

The past couple weeks since my last post have been crazy.  It seems that is a fairly common occurrence in our house, though this time it might be a little more than usual.  The Thanksgiving portion of the title on this post is self-explanatory but the "Shades of Grey" is not.  You will soon find out the details but basically it is a combination of things that has seemed to create a fog in my mind.  My original title was "Not Winning, Not Losing" which is also accurate but wasn't as all encompassing.

Rewinding a bit we traveled to North Mexico to celebrate Thanksgiving with the duo-Mac.  Stephanie is an amazing cook and I love her food.  I love it so much that I nearly ate myself sick.  That is what T-day is all about right?  Eating so much you have to roll yourself away from the table is normal right?  I kid, we have much to be thankful for and many things went through my mind that make me very thankful indeed.  I will save most of them for my Year In Review post that will come some time in the near future.  Suffice it to say that I am very grateful that we have such wonderful friends to share some time with!

Around that time I got a phone call from my Dad.  I don't talk to him much and for the most part he is a non-factor in my life as it seems he prefers it that way.  Lots of history there for sure, and it doesn't really belong on my blog.  I wish that meant I felt completely ambivalent to the news that he delivered but I do not.  In any case he called to inform me that he had cancer in his throat and a mass in his lung.  Officially both my parents are now fighting cancer.

The day after Turkey Day Allison and I headed to Noble Canyon for some sweet trail action.  As luck would have it we ran into our buddy Jens and the three of us had a fantastic time.  With SCNCA Divisional/State CX Championships on Sunday it was a pretty big bummer that Allison was having some issues riding.  She poked herself in the ribs with her handlebar in a low speed crash and it is STILL haunting her.  I feel for her struggles on the bike and hope that this time of struggle is followed by a time of "hot nasty sexy speed".  I had a good ride with no major carnage though I definitely went down and certainly pussy footed about a few times.  I really wish we had more "trail" type bikes to train on at times!  I came out of the day with a bit of a sore right knee and some pain in my left palm.

Saturday we did an easy road spin.  I keep battling with myself between racing well in Cyclocross and putting in my base miles for Mountain Bike racing next year.  On this day base miles won out and I rode "bonus" time to meet Allison at her G-parents house.  Certainly not the best preparation for the following day's race, but again I am conflicted.

Sunday's race was a very fun course with some good challenges.  I had crashed a couple times in last year's race and managed to finish better despite repeating the crash-happy theme.  Several guys that normally race the Elite category raced down for the "Bear Jersey" so I was not too upset with my finish position, especially considering I had two get-offs on a stupid 180 corner, the first of which occurred while I was leading the race on Lap 2.  I did appreciate the racing experience though and am always learning more about tactics and how to race better.  On the last lap I was in third, stuck in a Felt sandwich of Sheek and Fritz.  Sheek managed to pull away a bit due to a bobble on my part and Fritz put in a brutal attack from the tail gunner position shortly after that left me in fourth.  Allison again won the title/jersey which was a nice consolation prize for me.

As if the whole training/racing stuff and both parents ill with cancer wasn't enough, work has really been turning the screws on me hence no time to blog during the week.  I have been trying to follow Allison's training schedule but her coach isn't giving her much base work.  Fearing a downward spiral of mediocrity when faced with racing the two fastest amateur XC racers in the nation at a local level next year I am having to strike out on my own already.  This is disconcerting as I learned early in 2011 that I didn't like riding all those endless hours alone, but I don't want to be under-prepared.  In 2011 the average differential between me and the Marco/Ty battle was 3-4 minutes.  I am not going to bridge that gap with a weak base!

This past weekend we did another Cyclocross race.  This time a double header UCI race in Downtown Los Angeles.  Again my race preparation was less than optimal as I had done a 4 mile trail run with Allison on Friday.  The course was good even though it didn't have much in the way of technical challenges and it turned out that tactical racing was the order of the day.  Saturday the Lap 1 attack of Tim Butler (Sue Butler's husband) left me and the rest of the 35+ Men's field scratching for second.  I didn't know my competition for sure and didn't actually know the identity of the man in the black kit with the big W on the back, though in retrospect it is a tad bit of foreshadowing as he wound up Winning both days.  I also didn't know Kenny Wehn of the "Stan's No-Tubes Elite" team was sitting in and waiting for the kill along with Bailey Bikes owner John Bailey.  All I knew was I was in second with one guy up the road and drilling it till I dropped dead seemed like the order of the day.  I rolled across the line in fourth losing a sprint to John after Kenny pulled away through the barriers.


Sunday's race was a lot different.  I played a more tactical game and was happy to not sit with my nose in the wind.  I spent pretty much the whole race in third tucked behind Tim and Kenny and trying to learn from their actions.  A pack of 5 of us ripped around the course and several times I was unsure of how exactly I was managing to hang in there.  Donny put a pass on me at one point and it made me very nervous to have him between me and the lead pair.  I didn't want to have a gap form and know that if there is a roadie in there I would be more likely to get yo-yo'd than if I can shred the corners at my own risk filled pace.  I picked a superior line through a corner and had a clear path through the next chicane when Donny leaned on me some.  I didn't want to give up my line so I said "Make a little room" and held my ground.  Unfortunately Donny then went through the tape on the opposite side of the course.  I definitely didn't mean for that to happen.  Our little squabble for third meant that I then had to bridge back to the lead pair and that cost me valuable energy!  On the back straight they accelerated and I couldn't match it.  Again I was left in the wind and towing another rider.  This time I tried to use my corner speed and got a small gap going onto the finish straight.  I sprinted with all I had and when my legs gave up I sat down and looked back.  Fourth place was coming fast but I took third by a few inches.  It was CLOSE!  Another foot and I would have been fourth.

So as you can see I have not been winning, and not really losing either.  Working hard for sure though!  Looking forward to next year already!  Since you invested this much time in reading my dumb blog, go check out the sweet new website for our new team, Bikes for Boobs!  If you are so inclined please feel free to donate to the cause!  Save a pair, save a life!!!

1 comment:

DMack said...

You are always welcome in NorMex at Casa de Mack. Thanks for the visit and congrats on keeping the best in class constantly on their toes. I am looking forward to seeing what you can do on the XC bike this year. While it is true that finishing 3rd or 4th is not finishing first, it is also true that succeeding despite huge obstacles, family illnesses and the daily challenges makes you a champion.