Monday, October 31, 2011

Spy-clocross and the Velodrome!

Last week was a good one.  I got some solid training in both running and riding.  I am anxious to start my serious base training for next year, but the draw of SoCalCross racing is strong!

This past weekend was the "San Diego Double Header" with a race on Saturday at Lake Hodges (SPYclocross San Diego) and Sunday at Balboa Park (Adams Avenue Cyclo-Cross).  Racing at new venues is always so exciting!  Lake Hodges was a brand new venue so although we had ridden in the area we had never raced there.  To up the ante even further Sunday's race was to start and finish on the San Diego Velodrome.  Allison and I had never even ridden on a track before so our excitement level for the race was definitely very high!  To make the weekend even better Allison arranged for us to camp out at Steph and Dan's house, Mannimal Reunion Meat Festival!!!!!

I have been slacking horribly in the mechanical department so the bikes were not at all ready for another race weekend.  I am glad that the race on Saturday was close enough to home, and starting late enough, that I had time to get up and at least do some abbreviated race prep in the morning before we had to head out.  Eventually we hit the road and before I knew it I had picked up my Series Leader jersey was heading out to check out the course.

First off I was stoked to have another flyover, despite the fact that it was not functional (didn't have any usable passageway below).  The course was really pretty good IMO.  It wasn't the typical CX course as there was zero tarmac and almost zero grass.  Last week there had been quite a lot of heated discussion on Facebook about the course.  I didn't really chime into the conversation as I am not an "OG" cyclocross racer.  Not to disrespect the big dogs, but I actually like having the variety of courses.  I really think that the course was fun.  I wouldn't rank it high for "All-Time Greats", but it had a good variety of features.  There were super fast sections, some long sandy sections, some tricky corners and **GASP** singletrack!

Before the race Allison took a few pictures of me in the leader's jersey and when I saw this one I thought with the beard that I could maybe do a funny bit of editing...

Being series leader affords me the privilege of first call up.

Though that doesn't guarantee that I will actually have a decent start as demonstrated moments later.  I got absolutely swarmed off the gun and was probably 6th wheel or so as we headed out.  Johnny O' definitely was on his game though and was out front and pulling away immediately.  The high speed double track descent was broken up by a kink in the course and a couple of the riders in front of me went down which jammed things up a bit and let O' Show open the gap further.  By the bottom of the course I was fourth wheel with O' Show checked out, Todd Stevenson and Jeff Sanford battling,  and a gap back to me.  My goal was really to catch Johnny and I sort of hoped that Todd and Jeff would work with me.  At the end of the first lap I had caught the duo and as we headed out onto the fast section of the course for lap 2 I went to the front to pull.

I hoped that giving them a bit of draft could help us all reel in Johnny but I heard Todd yell up "Thanks." neither of them ever came to the front again.  Though this picture definitely shows that they weren't far behind me two laps into the race.

I was pretty sure there was no way I could reel O' Show in without help but I am not smart enough to not try...  and fail.

Luckily for me Johnny is almost old enough to be my dad and although he seems to kick my butt regularly we aren't in the same age group.  Winning my age group means I get to go for a celebratory leap!

After my race I tried to re-hydrate and ran around taking pictures and dousing the women as they battled through the hot afternoon.  Eventually after Allison got done crushing the course and collecting another win it was time to head South again for Meat Fest and some time with the original Mannimals!

Sunday morning we were up early and headed over to check out the course at Balboa Park.  The course was much more of a traditional CX course, but also had some very rough sections that I would say were more mountain bike specific than a buff piece of singletrack!  I heard lots of people complaining about flats and even broken carbon rims!  The course was also a little confusing on the first few laps.  In some places it was so wide that there was no indication that one was still on course!  It was however quite fun with long grass sections, dirt, some cement walkways and wait for it...  the Start and Finish on the San Diego Velodrome!!!!  Here is a video of the start of the Master's 35+ A race, yep that is me on the front!

Though I did lead the race from start to finish it wasn't as easy as it sounds.  I didn't know what the gaps were and I was pinned the whole time despite the fact that I had already signed up to race the Elite Men's race immediately after finishing the 35+ race!

It was totally rad that they incorporated the Velodrome into the race!

The joy of victory was quickly wiped away though as I suffered horribly in the Elite race and wound up pulling out when my legs started to cramp up.  I had been desperately trying to hang onto James Walsh after catching him and with two and a half laps to go just ran out of fitness.  After changing clothes I grabbed the camera and you can likely find any number of (hopefully) sweet pictures I took on Allison's blog.  I am not a great photographer so I hope my spray and pray technique yielded something useful for her along with all that work of sorting through the crap photos.

See you at the next one!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bikes 4 Boobs Excitement!

As Allison already posted, this past weekend was another non-racing weekend.  In some regards it is a bit of a bummer to not race knowing that our racing buddies are all suffering and drooling on themselves as they ride/run/jump in repetitious fashion until an official tells them they are done, but I was relieved to not have to be driving quite that far.  The races would have put us 5 hrs from home on Sunday afternoon.

Instead we did some other driving this past week.  On Wednesday we borrowed some sweet Turner 5.Spot bikes from Turner Bikes and did a ride with some nice fellows over in Laguna after meeting for a chat with Matt from Rock N' Road Cyclery.  Definitely not our ordinary weekday grind!

Friday I enjoyed a long (for me) run at lunch.  5.6 miles is more than I think I have ever run at one time.  I don't run very fast but the idea is to go out and just get some other stimulus for my system.  I need to force a lot of adaptation if I want to be competitive next year!

Saturday after a lazy morning we headed over to ride the mountain bikes on San Juan Trail.  That trail is always pretty busy on the weekends, likely because it is such a good trail!  Our ride was made even better by an encounter with our buddy Jeffe which spurred on plans to do dinner with his family.  I felt pretty good on the bike and was having a really good time on the descent but Allison was having an off sort of day and wound up violently sampling dirt.  Luckily she didn't suffer any major damage!  I like to think it was made all better by a typically excellent BBQ dinner and some ice cream for dessert at Jeffe's, or maybe me strapping ice to her helped...

In any case Sunday was a very exciting day.  New opportunities are always like that, especially when they are this good.  We drove to Newport Beach from Jeffe's and joined the new Bikes 4 Boobs team for the first team ride!  The group is quite diverse but we all have a great love for cycling and a desire to help with Mammograms in Action!   It is a cause that has affected nearly all of us in some form, I nearly lost my grandmother to breast cancer in the 80's.  She was strong and lucky and beat it, but only because it was identified soon enough.  From the Mammograms in Action website, "Mammograms In Action (MIA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit breast cancer organization with the mission to provide funding for qualified low-income and uninsured women and men who need screening and/or diagnostic procedures in the prevention of breast cancer."  This opportunity to ride and race in the B4B kit and help to fund medical screening that saves lives is really giving both Allison and I an opportunity to participate in something much bigger than ourselves.  We feel both humbled and grateful for this opportunity and look forward to our future adventures in Black and Pink!  Many great things are on the horizon!

If you haven't already, please feel free to click on the link on the right side of my blog to donate to the cause.  I have also added an "Advertisement" to the bottom of my blog to "monetize" it.  Please click on it often as I will be donating any funds that it generates to the B4B cause!  Any donation helps and is appreciated by the many people who's lives are touched by this organization.  Help us save a pair!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spookycross Photo and Video Update...

My wonderful wife is not only super fast but she takes some nice photos and she just sent me over a bunch of them via email so I figured I would provide a photo update!

Rock N' Road Cyclery is our #1 supporter, and this was their event, so it is only appropriate that I post a picture of me with one of our favorite store managers/mechanics!

Thanks for all you do Chuck!

This is what it looks like when you totally blow the start.  I am not in the photo at all!

Moving up, I was working way to hard trying to catch up with Phil and Johnny.

Caught Johnny in the sand and was on his wheel on the off camber turn.

Working through traffic, but definitely not in the lead!



The hardest section for me on the weekend, the endless sand pit!

Finishing up, 2nd AG, 3rd in the wave (Johnny is 45+)

This is what it looks like when I don't blow the start.  Clear track!

Swapping positions and being schooled by an ex-Olympic track racer on race tactics.

Working the barriers!

Off camber!

Last but not least a video of me being chased through the barriers by Mark Noble.


Spooky Cross 2011

After suffering through the flu last weekend I spent most of the week leading up to Spooky Cross somewhere between healthy and sick.  I had no appetite at all and didn't feel well enough to really train.  The net result was very little training volume and a questionable outlook on what is likely the most important 'cross race of the season for us.  To compound these issues Allison's coach sent her "Week 1" of her 2012 training plan on Monday, a week that essentially meant a low level transition week with a 1/2hr run on Friday.  This wouldn't have been an issue had we been doing any trail running lately, but over a month had passed since our last run...

Friday worked out to be different in just about every aspect from a "normal" day for The Mann Show.  It started out with a "Dawn Patrol" trail run up at Santa Rosa Plateau.  I really love trail running now and it was awesome to get up and run in the brisk morning air.  Before the run I had a banana with a bit of almond butter and maple spread (looking back I think this "breakfast" was part of what contributed to me feeling so good on the run).  I started the run behind Allison because she paces better than I do, especially with the use of her Garmin 310XT.

That didn't last long though.  I am guessing that the recent lack of training has left me feeling very fresh and I jumped ahead of her onto the second single track section.  We don't run very fast compared to real runners, but my feet felt light and I was jumping onto boulders and generally having a blast.  A large buck with a very impressive rack bolted across in front of us at one point.  So cool!  About half way through the run though Allison said that she was hurting pretty bad and needed to take the short route back to the car.  I think she finally stopped heel striking and the stress on her underdeveloped little calves was devastating.  Not good timing...

We headed home and I scrambled a couple eggs for us to munch on before heading to work.  It was a really short day at work due to a Department Picnic.  At the picnic I pigged out on BBQ and treats.  On the bright side my appetite was back, but I certainly wouldn't get sufficient volume over the weekend to burn the extra calories.  It is tough to balance off season with not gaining too much weight!

After the picnic we headed directly over to Irvine.  Our buddy Mykyta was kind enough to open his home to us for the weekend so we could hang out with the Rock N' Road crew and enjoy the festivities.  Allison and I stopped by the race venue and then headed to the Irvine store to chat with buddies and hang out.  A late dinner and a margarita with Mykyta, Chanson, and El Gato was lots of fun!

Saturday we cooked breakfast and spent a bunch of time hanging out with Mykyta before heading over to the race venue.

I had lots of bike prep to take care of and did so in the parking lot.  Allison even pitched in to help out, she is pretty handy with a rag!  When the course opened at 12 o'clock we jumped on to figure things out.  It was a fun course, not one that I would say favored me, with lots of long fast sections and a long sand pit that could not be ridden 100% (by me).  The barriers were also set up in an interesting fashion with a fast lead in, and a 180 left turn immediately before them.

Eventually it was time to line up and race.  I wasn't feeling super confident and my legs were sore from the trail run.  I am not sure why, but I had a terrible start.

Moments after the gun, I had managed to make a front row start look like a third or fourth row start.  That meant that I had to dig super hard to pass my way through traffic and catch back onto the lead pair of riders.  The lead pair consisted of none other than Johnny "O-show" O'mara and (unknown to me) Phil Tintsman (ex-DH Pro among other things).  I managed to catch them before the sand pit...

This is where Phil passed Johnny and then gapped the two of us.  I was on Johnny's wheel and then on the back section of the course where there are long straights I tried to put in a pull.  I didn't know who Phil was but figured our only chance to catch him was to work together.  This is where "Dumb Justin" took over.  I went into the gravel corner at the end of the straight way too hot.  I two wheel drifted most of the way through and should have gotten my foot out but didn't.  Down I went as Johnny yelled back to hurry up and get back on.  A few times I thought I might catch back up but made too many mental mistakes at crucial moments.  Since Johnny was racing 45+ I took second behind Phil in 35+, third from our start wave.  It was great racing though and I really wish I could have raced closer with Johnny as I surely could learn a lot from him on course.  I need all the help I can get to race with Ty and Marco next season!  There were however a ton of people out cheering and taking photos.  Some of the best race pictures I have ever had taken of me...

...and some suffering captured.

After my race I did my best to enjoy the night and support my wife and team mates!



It was a really fun night!

There wasn't much time for recovery between the races on Saturday and Sunday (less than 24hrs).  Allison and I were both feeling pretty beat down on Sunday but we suited up just the same.  With temperatures much higher I lined up looking for Phil or Johnny but neither of them were there.  My start was much better though and I led the pack into the first corners which is much more comfortable than working through traffic!  Soon it was clear that I had a new challenge for the day though in the form of Mark Noble (former National CX Champ and Track Olympian!).  

Had I known who he was before hand I would have tried to sit on his wheel but instead I played the "Dumb Justin" card again and wound up with my nose in the wind till Mark attacked me at my weakest, as I "ran" through the sand.  

It was an amazingly humbling and soul crushing moment for me in the race when he attacked.  He led by a foot or so as we dismounted into the sand and when I was about halfway through I realized through my race fog that he was already re-mounting and pedaling.  I never claimed to be a runner, but that was ridiculous!  As if my coffin wasn't quite nailed shut, later in that lap we were both working through traffic and a rider came off on a steep-up blocking the course in front of me and I came off my bike avoiding him...

It didn't really matter though.  There was no way I was going to catch Mark, this just made the gap a bit bigger!

So in the end I was second in the wave behind a former Olympic cyclist, but took 1st in 35+.

It was a fun weekend of racing but I am very sore and feeling exceptionally beat down.  Another 1st place and a 2nd place keeps me in the lead for the series but I am not sure how that will all pan out.  Allison and I both need to downshift to Base Training for next year soon!  It is tough to balance the pull of racing with the promise of training...  I am sure we will be at some more CX races though.

In the mean time, see you on the trails!