Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Douze SCX #4 2011 Race Report

A Mud Sandwich
Steve 22nd, Evo 12th, Dave F 14th in the slow old guy category

Mud was promised and mud delivered. A slippery run up, lots of greasy corners. Strength sapping soggy grass. It was all there.

My treat was that my daughter and Kyson came to watch along with Hottie and my mum. I had fans galore. It was Kyson's first cross event and he was initiated in soggy Northwest style.
Grandpa is

It was a tough course. Grassy, but really wet turns to start. Then onto a muddy bog which could be ridden, but running was faster. Either way you then hit a run up where I went from tenth to third on the first lap. I do like the run ups.

Then a short grassy section leading to single track that was a muddy rut-fest. If you kept your mo(mentum), you could ride it. Then a slick downhill that was a matter of getting comfortable not being in total control. Then, just as you exhale thinking you are out of it, you round a tree and hit s short steep, and loose, uphill followed by a long steady climb that was just like putting your legs in a vice and letting it hurt you. The climb was there to suck whatever life was left in you...out of you.

When I turned at the top and saw my chasers climbing, I tried to look relaxed like I was in control. I was in fact thinking my heart was about to blow out of my chest. You had to really concentrate as there was a Z turn with a padded post as the penalty for not making the final turn.

Then we had to go around a baseball field and the terrain past the outfield was a swamp. It could be ridden, but I was passing guys when I ran, so I ran it each time. I pushed hard and threw my bike down and started pedaling.

But wait, there was more.

You spilled onto a short cement section, and then you power into a long off camber where you try not to lose altitude. Then a slight climb, and more mud and grass turns. A couple barriers to remind you this isn't hell, it is Cyclocross baby. More technical turns were followed by a long grassy straight, and then through a barn (which is always fun) and finally loose gravel spills onto grass, and you make the corner and then pass the finish line and do it all again....

You almost recover on the grass when you hit the mud, and the run up and then you are once again getting cross eyed.

I was hanging about tenth and saw my nemesis, Spinner John not far behind. He make a lot of noise when he races. So much noise in fact, that after this race I considered changing his moniker to Grunting John. I could hear him struggling behind me and I kept pushing. On the long suffering uphill I noted my gap to he and Dave F. I pushed the second lap. On the third lap I was toast and made some tactical mistakes. A wrong line here and there and I was losing time.
I fought my way up the run up and tried to clear my head and ride smarter. I still had a gap on the suffering uphill, but I couldn't let up or I would get eaten up. I was still struggling and when I hit the swamp by the baseball field, I ran like my High School Cross Country Coach, Coach Berk was telling me to run harder.

On the grass I knew my heart rate was maxed and I tried to keep from exploding. The barriers were okay, but I was caught by a guy in the soggy grass approaching the barn. I looked behind and knew nobody else (Spinner John) was going to catch me. I tried to hold this guys wheel, but he got a gap.

I closed a little at the barn and as we approached the final turn I was gaining fast. I tried to go around him on the right and he swung right, I cut left, and the bastard started to go left. I dug deep but lost it by a wheel at the line. A post race check of the Garmin would revel two things, my heart rate was maxed plus three, and I was going 24+mph at the line. We had to clamp down hard on our brakes to keep from crashing as the course turned not far past the finish line.

I was twelfth on the day and Spinner John came in a distant thirteenth and Dave F fourteenth.

It took a good while to catch my breath.

Kyson enjoyed himself. As did his mama. I am pretty darn lucky as most guys in my age group don't have any fans and I almost always have Hottie cheering (and taking photos). This season my mum has made the almost weekly pilgrimage to witness the spectacle of Northwest Cyclocross.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Business trip to Queretaro, Mexico. The reason for the specific destination is a long story that isn't all that interesting, so just enjoy the photos and my sarcastic remarks...
Me, the plane, and ground support equipment. For those of us in the industry, we call that stuff "GSE." Yep, engineers are a creative bunch.
Rainier was looking sweet. I wanted to ask the pilot to circle around so the light would be better, but I figured he would decline my request.
The sun went down before I made it to Queretaro
This was the view from my Hotel room looking southwest
This was the view....... well, you can figure it out.
I am glad they Esterilizado'd the throne in anticipation of my arrival.
The view with sunshine
The courtyard where our conference was
An Aquaduct that is way old. The taxi driver spoke more English than I spoke Spanish, but that was all I could get from him about this. Google it if you care..
Just moments after I was lamenting that there wasn't a word of English anywhere I finally saw an English word I recognized, "Corona." I felt right at home...
This was a zoo we passed at seventy miles an hour..

This was my final dinner in Mexico. Hottie asked if it was Mexican food. It was food, and it was in Mexico, so I guess by default it must have been Mexican food. It tasted wonderful.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The midwest is still....

The midwest is still the midwest...
All Hotel rooms look the same in the dark.
- Tom Bodett
Yeah, but they don't all smell the same.
-Zach (son of Evo)

I mentioned a hectic trip last week. Home to Minnesota, to Wisconsin to Illinois to Kansas back to Illinois, drive to Wisconsin, then back to Illinois and then, after some Chicago deep dish pizza, back home.
This is my noses eye view of my knees inflight.
We did see some fun people on the road...
While nice hotel rooms are much better than poor ones, they still aren't home. Late night arrivals, getting up in time to work out, eat breakfast and be in someone's office by eight..

When I got home I passed this guy on the road. At first I thought he was a dick. It turns out he was just a wiener.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Race Report SCX #3 Silver Lake 2011

After a week of epic business travel (six flights, four shuttles, three cars, four hotels, four hundred car miles) my eye lids were heavy, but my legs were fresh. The course had two main features, technical turns (often at the bottom of steep downhills), but what everyone was talking about; sand, sand sand.

At the whistle we tore off and all sixty of us hit the sand. More than a few tumbled and it was a mess as the survivors raced through the carnage and across the beach. A barrier forced all to run a short uphill and the traffic forced me to the side and I made up more than a few spots that I had lost at the start.

Then we hit some power sections before dropping down. "Let it go Evo," I thought as I let it run and then I squeezed the brakes hard at the last possible second. I made the corner and climbed hard and fought it out before entering the sand heading in the opposite direction.

I rode the sand well. There was a patch at the end of the sand that was essentially unridable. Almost everyone tried and stalled and once they lost all momentum, they bailed and ran. I jumped off early and blitzed it every time.

The technical sections were fun. Steep downhills with sharp corners at the bottom and a loose climb immediately following one of them. The downhills gave you a moment for your heart rate to drop a few beats before attacking the next climb.

Then it was onto the sand again for the second lap. I rode the whole enchilada the second time though. Weight distribution was key and pedaling like a machine seemed to help as well. At the beginning of the third lap we were catching lapped riders.

I felt my brakes and tires were well suited to the course and I took full advantage. On the last lap we were all gassed and lapped riders forced all to run most of the sand. I was dueling a guy named "Pete" and people were cheering him all over the course. I felt like I was racing the Pope. I had a chance to pass on a steep climb and thought I would hold off and make my move closer to the finish. Some traffic on the loose climb split us and I didn't have another chance. Lesson learned: On the last lap, if you see a chance, TAKE IT.

I finished eleventh, but more importantly, I beat my nemesis Spinner John, who had been stalking me and wanted to beat me more than life itself. My teammate Dave F, took sixth on the day and is sitting sixth in the series. He rode the sand very well. I am sitting ninth in the series and am darn happy with that.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Whilst driving to today’s race my son called from Russia. It was good to hear from him. He had some secret squirrel stuff in the states this week and he said he took the opportunity to buy twelve jars of peanut butter and took them back in his suitcase. When he asked how my season was going I told him I hadn’t had my breakthrough race yet and that maybe today was the day.

It was.

Yesterday was sunny and dry. They promised rain overnight and they delivered. The rain had almost completely tapered off when Hottie and I rolled south in the fully loaded war wagon. It got wetter and darker the further south we went.

The course was a combination of wet grass and dry-ish dirt. Both were getting rutted and guys were slipping even during warm ups. Despite my poor performance in the first race in the series I got a second row call up. I wasn’t feeling fast and while waiting for the start I looked behind me and imagined all of the guys behind me passing me. We had almost 60 racers in my category.

At the gun I tried to stay about tenth. After a couple fast straights we had the grass zigzags that Steilacom is famous for. I had the right tire pressure and I relaxed and rode them well, defending my position. I thought to myself, “Man I’m relaxed and not cooking myself now.”

The other things Steilacom is famous for is the climbing. A long steady climb and I threaded my way up to about seventh. I passed Dave Farrell on my team as he was cranking a big gear and it wasn’t working for him.

I kept it going and on a loose gravel road downhill I hit 25 miles per hour. Then around trees and another climb. I leaned back and let it go on a choppy downhill that led to a paved road where I again topped 20 mph. I grabbed the brakes hard and they slowed me better than I was expecting. A couple of loose corners and a second set of barriers, and I was back to the start finish line.

I held my position the whole second lap and we just stretched out. The switchbacks gave me a chance to see who was around me. I had two guys chasing me and I kept pushing. A light mist had turned into a steady rain and my glasses fogged up, so I pulled them off and stuck them in my jersey.

On the last lap I noted one of my group putting his chain back on and he jumped back in right ahead of me. I followed him and we were working our way through the lapped riders. With the long climb almost done I spotted my nemesis from last year, Francisco Pons, looking at his bike in disbelief. After the race he would show me his sideways derailleur and shrug his shoulders. I felt guilty, but I picked up another place. Coolness.

I was sitting eighth and had guys chasing me. I got out of the saddle and pounded it up the last climb and turned and put on the power. Down on the grass with only a couple turns and the barriers to the finish line, Dave Farrell caught me. I had been pushing and was shocked anyone caught me. I bobbled a corner and Dave had enough of a gap and he took eighth and I got ninth.

My first top ten and they haven‘t upgraded anybody yet...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tired body and semi race report MFG #3

Does anyone work as hard to be mediocre as I do?

Weights twice a week. Fifty plus miles of bike commuting each week, some of it is pretty darn fast as well. Intervals. Spin class. Core work. Weight loss. Improved results? Not really.

To be fair, I haven't been a hundred percent. In fact I have so many parts of my body that are less than a hundred percent I can no longer do the math in my head. Still I am soldiering on and hoping for improvement.

Tonight I have aches in my knee (both knees now), low back, quads, shoulder blade, neck and hamstrings. I pushed hard on a couple parts of my commute home and I'm paying for it.

Each time I take a shower I discover a new scrape or bruise. I know how I got the cut on my left ankle, but how about the long scratch on my right calf? I don't so much mind having the cuts and bruises, but that fact that they keep surprising me makes me feel like I am putting on someone else's clothes and finding a tear in the shirt.

Let's hope the coming races bring some success. I could use it.

Of note is that in last weeks race I started in the second row and thanks to some wide parts of the course I was able to move up. Half way through the first lap I passed a guy and looked up and there was a monster gap to the leaders. I just kept plugging as I could hear Spinner John chasing me and he was absolutely suffering. I could hear him fighting in corners and getting tangled with riders, tress and tape. How did I know this about someone who was behind me you may ask? John talks out loud as he races and his grunts and groans are broadcast for all to enjoy (or not). Soon we caught the tail end of the 35 year olds and when we completed the first lap the announcer called out that I was leading the 45 plus group. I realized that when I had seen the big gap, I had taken over the lead.

I kept the gas on and lost a couple places on the second lap, but still felt good. Near the end of the second lap I came out of a corner and got out of the saddle to attack and when I cranked, the power spun out my rear wheel and I slid out and hit hard on my side. I got up and in the blink of an eye I lost five more places.

We were now in the thick of the 35 year olds and passing wasn't easy. My dear mom was out ringing a cowbell and cheering me on. For some reason I have been able to hear her voice cheering me through a crowd since I was a kid. My early effort caught up to me as did my sore back and bruised knee/quad combo. One of my teammates passed me and I cheered him on. The thought of putting out more effort to stay with him seemed impossible and I just hung on. I did out sprint a guy in the end and my overall place was better than last week, so I shouldn't complain, but I guess I just did.