Doing it all the hard way...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Feeling it

Me and my brown brothers riding on Mt. Rainier.

Here are some things that, as a cyclist, I think feel great.

Crossing the finish line.

Finishing a ride at a coffee shop.
Reaching the top of a climb.

Going slow when you have the time.

Going fast when you feel strong.

Standing on a podium!!
Sprinting so hard you can feel the flex in the frame/bars/crank/stem.

Passing your nemesis.

Hearing your name during a race.

Riding with friends.

Riding with Hottie is the best!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review Lizardskins Bar Tape

Yep, it looks like this.
Contact points matter. Saddle/Shorts, Pedals/Shoes, Bars/Gloves all are the subjects of personal preference and are wise places to invest your hard-earned money. Unlike a flat tire or broken chain; these are the things that can ruin a ride without breaking.
Your bar tape gets changed once or twice a year, and depending on your annual kilometer count, that may well be your most frequently replaced item. That gives one the opportunity to try something new with limited risk. Cork tape is cheap and classic. If you want something better, read on.

Evo racing with his Lizardskins bar tape equipped bike.

I am a sucker for marketing propaganda. Despite my addiction, I had not heard much about this until my France trip. Kevin, whom I trust when it comes to things mechanical, noted that he was running the same bar tape as Horst, our trip guide and a man whose bike knowledge is on par with Lennard Zinn.

I was curious and upon return bought some knowing my cross bike needed new cables (and hence new bar tape). Hottie upgraded her gruppo and my tape ended up on her bike. She loved it and eventually I picked up another roll that did end up on my cross bike.

Out of the box the first positive is the label that tells you not to stretch it too much when you wrap it. Someone should tell the good folks at Bontrager about this concept. Their grippy tape needs a similar notice more than the Lizardskins product does.

The second thing I noted was there was plenty of it. There was no need to be stingy with the wrap, go ahead and start with plenty of overlap on the drops. It goes on just fine and allows for some adjustment if needed. Some wraps give you one shot and if you start too loose when you back up, the tape tears and you are forced to compromise right from the start.

The tape looks awesome. It has an all business look that reminds me of Batman or Darth Vader. While any tape has good grip once you spill Cytomax all over it, this stuff is super grippy when clean.

The thick wrap (it comes in 1.8 and 2.5mm) is cushy as well. I have found that thicker tapes sometimes provide that cushion at the expense of a solid feel. Fizik Dual Tape is cushy, looks good, but seems to slip around (slipping on the bar, not against your hands/gloves). I like some feedback from my bars but I also like cushioning. Evo is one tough customer. If you grab the wrapped bar and twist, the tape does not move at all.

I have mentioned Bontrager Grippy tape and Fizik Dual tape, the other player in the grippy arena is Arundel Gecko tape. I am a fan of Gecko tape, it is good stuff. Not too pricy, durable, and works well when wet. It is on my commuter bike and does a fine job. I have Fizik Dual tape on my Seven and like that just fine.

Lizardskins bar tape is the best bar tape I have ever used. It is the most expensive bar tape I have ever purchased. In the future, I do not foresee myself buying any other tape for my favorite bikes. When my Seven needs new tape, I will put on Lizardskins.

As for when my Cross bike needs new tape...

While you can have the wrong Orange, you can't have too much Orange.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Cyclocross is a beach MFG # 2 2012 Race Report

 You know what is fun about running in the sand?  Passing people.
The third race of the year for Evo. Once again my dear mom, Betty the Beast, came to cheer me on.  My son and his wife were back for a few days from their life in Moscow (and I don't mean the one in Idaho) and they came as well.  Hottie, ever faithful, was there as always to support me.

The weather remains distinctly non cyclocross, but I am not inclined to complain too much. After a lackluster warmup I lined up alongside my brothers sporting the brown and soon we, and the rest of the fast middle age guys, were racing.

True to my 2012 form I found myself near the caboose of the 45 plus train as we turned onto the grassy slalom course.  I was pedaling, but my mind wasn't racing yet. I was getting passed left and right and I was as passive as the passenger in a VW microbus.

Every course has a trademark. This one is pancake flat and has been called a grassy crit by detractors. That isn't the trademark of this course. In years past, the course has featured two short section of sand on the edge of Lake Sammamish.  You were generally able to ride the first one and, after returning to the grass for fifty yards, you were forced to run about forty yards on sand before remounting. This sand was dreaded by hacks and pros alike.  This year the sand was unridable after thirty feet and instead of getting a respite back on the grass we had to serve our purgatory for a full one hundred plus meters of beach sand.

Only a hundred meters you say? Try running with your bike through deep, SOFT sand once, twice, hows about five times? Heavy legs for sale!

I ran track and cross country in high school and college.  Despite three knee surgeries over the last fifteen years and riding thousand of kilometers a year I still think of myself as a runner.  I channelled my inner Prefontaine and ran it hard.  A few brave/foolish souls tried to ride it and ground to painful stops and dismounted awkwardly.

The first fifty meters everyone was moving about the same speed. The last fifty plus meters everyone was slowing down. I passed a few and was moving.  A rider stepped in front of me and I moved to pass and his front wheel caught my bike and slowed me for a moment. "Hang on," he shouted. I felt the  drag release and a hearty, "go," and I was off again.

Once off the sand I remounted and dug deep. There were some microscopic rollers and I was working to take turns wide and keep my speed up.  "Free speed," I said out loud as I kept pushing. I was having trouble breathing and was wondering WTF was up with that? Soon we were on a short asphalt path and then back on the open field of grass and gopher holes.  I chose a big gear as a smaller gear could spin out over the bumpy dirt.  Wide sweeping grassy corners meant you kept the power on and didn't get a moment to catch your breath.
Squinting, or holding back a tear?
Out and back, out and back, tight turns and big corners. Barriers at speed.  I love barriers at full speed.  I grabbed my brakes and my right hand lever had no resistance I looked at my back brake. My contact in the sand pit had popped my straddle cable off and I had no rear brake. I didn't panic and decided that on this fast course with minimal braking I would wait until I completed the sand on the second lap, or when I crashed, whichever came first.  I clearly had a preference and I hoped to stay upright.

More corners. My tires were sticking like velcro.  The first race of the day was slippery, but the racers dried out the course so it was wonderful for us mid day riders.  I was feeling better and soon I was on the long paved finishing straight. Five to go. I tried to tell myself that was what I wanted.
Grass and sand. Rinse, repeat.
In front of me my teammate Big John pulled off to the side with a dropped chain. The course was that bumpy.  John is such a monster he would need a special Garmin because his watt numbers need more display digits than anyone else.  I felt awesome to be near him. El Hefe blew past me on the first lap and was out of sight.

On the sand I passed more riders.  After the sand I dropped my bike and put my cable back in and remounted and pushed.  Another big gear and I kept moving up on the grassy course.  Big John came past and I tried to hang on.  He slowly pulled away.  John is super fast and the power course suited him well, so I took some solace that he didn't blow past me.

More laps and I could hear my son Zach cheering me on.  As I approached the barriers on the third lap I could hear Betty the Beast ringing her cowbell and screaming, "Rip off their legs."  Her words galvanized my resolve and I attacked.

I looked behind me and I had a huge gap. I was moving up and looking for more victims.

I could see Big John ahead and wondered if I could catch him.  On my fifth lap I saw John entering the sand just ahead of me and I committed to race the sand. "Go Davo," John cheered me on and I could hear other team members yelling for both of us. It turned out John had dropped his chain again just before the sand, but it went right back on.

I had a reasonable gap on John and while I love him like the brown brother that he is, beating him would be a nice thing so I churned a big gear across the lumpy grass.   I was catching younger riders from the race that started a minute ahead of ours and lapping some of the women who had started a minute behind us.
Flying over the barriers...
I had expected to be caught by the first 35 plus rider but as I approached the finish line on my fifth lap but the sign said one to go and I kept driving. It turned out the winner of the 35 plus group was just behind me and fifty yards past the line they pulled some tape across the course and told me I was done. I was coming in "hot" as they say, and grabbed my brakes and rolled to a stop.

I was the first lapped rider and my disappointment and not getting a sixth lap lasted about one second and then I was happy to be done.  Other riders came zipping along and a minute later Big John came thundering in and he was happy to call it a day as well.

I finished 29th of 49 and can do better. That was about ten places better than my first race in the MFG series, so I was happy. I will try and get my race on next week and see what I can do.

Just as I have after every cross race of 2012, I changed into shorts.  I put the bike back on the war wagon and noticed that the sidewall of my tubie was shredded. I don't know what happened. Maybe it was a rock, or a root, or another bike, but the casing was cut and peeling back. The tire was finished.  I haven't had to invest in any equipment other than a roll of bar tape this year so I won't cry too much.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When an Airline loses your luggage - A victims guide

I was lucky..

I had a rather harrowing experience this past summer when KLM lost my luggage on my trip of a lifetime. There isn't any guide to follow and I am hoping to share what I learned so the next poor fool can have a better go of it.

The best problem is one you can avoid. Carry on whenever possible. If you have to check a bag or bags, carry on something packed with items just in case you never see your packed bag(s) again.

Blow off those ads for stylish luggage. My bags were missing for several days and during that time my sweet wife called our insurance company to find out if loss was covered by our homeowners insurance. Our agent told us that the majority of bags that go missing (that term sounds so passive, as if the bags grew legs) get STOLEN are newer expensive looking bags. Go for the Wal-Mart look whenever possible.

If they are lost .. They really are LOST. All of that bar coding is for show. The first stage will be denial. You will look on other carousels as if your bag jumped to somewhere else. It is lost, deal with it.

Report it to the agent. I can't imagine a worse job than dealing with lost luggage. They should make criminals work those jobs instead of picking up litter along the highway. You have to realize that the schlep you are talking to didn't lose it and since everyone treats him or her like crap; your indignity won't improve the situation.

If you are lucky they will tell you something like your luggage is on the next flight, it just missed the connection. If they don't know where it is, you are in for a wild ride.

At this point they will typically offer you what we called the YFK, or You're F___ed Kit and a valuable coupon (insert sarcastic voice intonation here) for a future rape. Because you are in shock and denial you will accept these items like a brave solider. It reminds me of when they offer you pretzels and coke on the flight. Everything you read says hydrate and avoid salt when you fly. Yet when they offer you salty pretzels and a diuretic (Coke) you smile and accept it with open arms.

For me getting a 24 Euro credit on an Airline I expect never to fly on is the equivalent of giving me an opened box of tampons. There is NOTHING I can do with it, it is of NO value to me. Yet I smiled and said, "thank you."

Lost Luggage; the real deal. They don't know where it is. Nobody will look for it. Only when someone trips over it, "hey that orange bag was here yesterday," will it get on anyones radar. They will likely give you a phone number to call and an Internet site to check. When you call you will get inconsistent stories that will appropriately scare the crap out of you. The airline will tell you they are sending out an alert to other airports. Then when you tell them they said that yesterday, they will tell you there is nothing in the record that indicates it was done before. It is as if they are instructed to just tell you anything. If your bag(s) remain missing a few days the different stories will only serve to highlight that there is no process or real hope if you follow the process. So don't follow the process.

What are the possible paths this mess can take?

If 24 hours pass and they have not found (tripped over) your bag, you are at a high risk of never seeing it. Plan and act accordingly. Buy replacements and tell them you will be seeking reimbursement.

If 48 hours pass and they still don't know where it is you should assume someone is enjoying your bag and bet on never seeing it again. Sorry, but you are screwed.

What can you do? While the Internet is a wonderful thing, and Evo is a big fan, call the numbers and talk to people. Call early and call often. At some point they realize you are being enough of a bother that they will do whatever it is they can. An important note is the nuisance factor is a quantity issue and not a quality issue. Calling once or twice and being a jerk is much less effective than just calling twenty times. Yeah, twenty times a day.

Now that I have you all spun up, let me give you the best advice you will ever get on this subject. Relax, enjoy your trip. Worrying does nothing except make a poor situation worse. On my bike trip to France I got my bike three days in so I could ride. My clothes NEVER arrived. I had to borrow clothes from friends any try and buy replacements at the few bike shops we encountered. I still had a wonderful time. If you ask me about my trip I will be talking for ten minutes before I mention my lost luggage.

Good luck and carry on whenever possible. If you are biking always carry on your helmet and shoes. No exceptions..


Monday, September 17, 2012

SCX #1 2012 Steilacoom Race Report

 Let's FLY over the barriers !!

Back in 2005 Hottie suggested we go and watch a pro bike race down in Tacoma at Fort Steilacoom.   It didn’t take long for me to convert to the Gospel of Cyclocross.  Two weeks later I was racing. Every race at Ft. Steilacoom since has been special.

We brought along the woman who has come to be known as the Cyclocross Superfan; Betty the (Cyclocross) Beast!  She came with cowbell in hand and peanut butter and jelly sandwich in her padlocked purse.

Betty the (Cyclocross) Beast a.k.a Superfan on the right, Granddaughter Sophie on the left

We arrived just before the first race took off.  We managed to find a spot and soon the team tent went up and lawn chairs and trainers were out. 

Our team has opted to throw its support behind the MFG series this year, so our numbers at this Seattle Cyclocross event were thinner.  Seph snagged a fifth place in his race, which had a field of seventy young studly riders.   Leann had a good finish in her race as well. 

Matthew was among the select few who met for some Cyclocross practice Saturday morning.   We practiced turns, starts and some hot laps at a local park.  Our morning practice ended when Matthew ducked under a branch whilst taking a turn and the branch caught his helmet, then his glasses, then cut his nose, and finally sliced his eyelid.

We had one of our quiver of doctors riding with us and Matthew is an RN himself.  Soon Matthew’s wounds had been cleaned and he had ice on his face.  He got a ride home and just based on how Matthew was talking, I fully expected to see him at the race Sunday. 

Sure enough Matthew rolled up to the tent on Sunday with his right eye purple and swollen shut.  He came to race. I’ll just call him “Blood and Guts” henceforth.

Blood and Guts and I took a couple laps and Matthew was running a notubes front tire. With a belch sound, his tire flatted and he was walking back to look for a pump.  He didn’t mention that he was looking for a sign from a higher power to help him decide if he was supposed to ride or not, but things were lining up for a good day for him.

Our race was at 1:30, which is pretty late in the day, especially a hot day, for Davo to race.  My daughter and her family came so I had four generations of fans rooting for me.   How could I fail?
Kyson enjoying the day and the races

Clayton isn't even two weeks old and he is cheering on Grandpa Davo
I'm not sure what he did wrong, but I'm sure choking him stopped it..

Blood and Guts himself had crashed in a bloody mess at the start of this race last year on the rough pavement and that thought was heavy on my mind at the start. As a result I found myself pretty much at the back of the pack a minute into the race.  That wasn’t the plan.  I began to move up.

After a set of grassy zig zags and barriers at speed (way to go SCX !) we were squirted onto a hundred meters of singletrack then a long loose section where I blitzed past a few riders.  Then we took a sharp loose left hand turn onto dusty climb where I continued to move up.   Then a soft switchback and the climbing continued. The middle of this portion was loose dust with a wider trail of grass on the left and a narrow patch of trail on the right side.  As I expected everyone went left and I took the right side and moved up. 

There was a long downhill on gravel that claimed more than a few riders. My daily commute includes a short gravel section and my training from that has taught me to shift my weight back and let it ride.  That worked well and I was able to survive all five laps of my race.  On the last lap a rider from Blue Rooster was in a heap and had to leave the race in an ambulance.  We were then slaloming around big trees before attacking the final climb.

After the climb we were spilled out on a short section of single track. The single track here started the day with a couple patches of dusty potholes and evolved into a long skinny beach of loamy quicksand.   That sand grabbed two riders in front of my on the first lap and pulled them down on the right side as if they had been tacked by linebackers.  I jumped from the right to the left side and, adopting the racers mentality, I dismissed them with narcissistic indifference.  I wouldn’t see them again today.

A short steep descent on a glass smooth road with a dusty sheen led to a sharp left onto loose bark then some grassy turns, two more barriers, again at speed, and then you cross the line. 

I continued to move up and can’t recall being passed by anyone.  I was catching single speeders who started a minute ahead of us and I spotted Spinner John struggling just ahead of me on his single speed. I had been chasing a rider in my cat and he passed Spinner John and John asked him if he was a Cat 3 racer. 

There are three races at my time; single speed men, Cat 3 men 45+ and Cat ½ Women.  Now let’s fire up our powers of deduction.  The guy who passed Spinner John was on a geared bike and he didn’t have boobs.  It therefore strikes me as a dumb question. Although it was only the second lap, John was gassed and couldn’t have chased anyway.  Just before entering the single track I blitzed past John on his right and said, “All us 3’s look the same.”  It startled John and I felt bad for a second. Maybe two seconds, no… as I think about it just one second.

I moved up and up passing riders on single speed bikes as well as my own category.  On the last lap I was passed by the first woman who gave me a warning shout; “on the inside.” I gladly swung wide and thanked her for the verbal warning.  Riding her wheel was a guy I had passed earlier.

“Hey, I opened that spot for her,” I said out loud as he pulled along side me on a sweeping right hand turn.  Before he could respond his front wheel slid out and he went tumbling off course as I smiled and realized there was no need to say another word. 
Evo looking fast.  No I don't have braces, that is dirt in my teeth (just like last week actually)

I settled in and on my last lap I committed my own mortal sin of waiting to pass a rider I was chasing.  I was behind him at the barriers eighty meters from the line and he remounted and cut off my line as the course swung left and I tried to go right and ran out of room.  Will I ever learn?

I finished 24th of 42 fast guys and know I can do better.  I was pleased. Blood and Guts grabbed a top ten with a ninth.

Evo and the Hardman himself, Blood and Guts !

I had dust in my eyes on my teeth and my legs looked like I had spent the summer in Arizona.   I was tired and glad to be done.  My fans came over and we had pasta on the deck and enjoyed our Indian summer evening.  Or is that a Native America Summer now?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cyclocross Pedal Review Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3

These Rock !

There are a few assumptions that can be made for almost any cyclist. One such assumption is that everyone has at one time or another owned a bike make by Specialized. Everyone who rides off road, including Cyclocross, has owned at least one set of SPD pedals. Evo is no different.

I can recall the race in the Seattle Cyclocross Series at the classic venue of South Seatac. The day was wet and the mud was sticky. I had just passed a small group of riders on a short run up and I remounted and went to clip in. I tried, and tried. Too much goo on my shoes and thick mud caked on my Shimano SPD pedals. I groaned as the riders I had just passed flew past me. I finished in a foul mood and cursed my pedals. That week I got a set of Eggbeater pedals and I have never looked back.

The pedals look different from everything else out there. They don't have a platform per se. For many this is disconcerting, as you don't have as big of a "target," to aim your foot at. The upside is that mud has very little real estate to call home. The "open" nature of the pedal also ensures that any mud that does accumulate can easily be pushed through with minimal effort. Another benefit is you don't have to worry about pedal orientation when clipping in. There is no platform to hinder your cleat from engaging. When your shoe contacts the pedal if your cleat is not over the cage, you can slide your shoe forward or backward and it engages.

The Crank Bros cleats have a unique and excellent feature. You have two mounting options so you can vary your float when you install your cleats.

A design feature that can viewed as a positive or a negative is that release tension is NOT adjustable. This means as a rider you won't have little screws to lose, or a crash because you set your release tension too tight or too loose. At first I was bothered by the lack of adjustability, but I can say that after six years I have never had a premature release and when I have crashed or needed a quick exit, they have been predictable and consistent. I now consider the lack of adjustability to be a huge positive.

I have lubed them a few times and they are still going strong. A little love goes a long way.

To get the ideal set up, play with the included plastic shims (add them and test, remove them and test) and if you are wearing carbon soled shoes, get the shields to protect the carbon. You will know when it is right as the release is exactly when you want it and clipping in is easy.

The cleats are brass, so the soft material will alter the feel over time. If you service your pedals you will go through an extra set or two of cleats before it is time to retire the pedals.

I did try a set of the cheaper Eggbeaters and found the engagement clunky and release awkward and variable. If you are looking to save money, don't look at your pedals. Get the 3's or the 11's.

How happy is Evo with his pedals? I won't even think about using anything other than Crank Bro pedals. I do entertain trying a race with the new Candy 3's, but it hasn't happened yet.

The Eggbeater 3's (or better) get a full five of five Evos !



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Using the "Window"

Sometimes you just can't get enough Tux !

After my Race Sunday I felt pretty good. I knew, however, that I was operating on borrowed time. I had crashed and while the adrenaline had come and gone, the soreness hadn't yet set it. The skies were clouding up and I guessed that it was now or never for my concrete project. I worked for a few hours and it was all good when I went to bed, tired, but intact.

Monday morning came and it hadn't yet been twenty-four hours since my race or since my physical labor so I felt pretty good. I went to the Y and did weights. Then during my day at work it caught up with me. My shoulder ached from the crash and my calf was sore from the pedal encounter during the crash. I took some Aleve and a back rub from Hottie in the evening to put me straight.

This morning I rode in and did my (new) usual in-season intervals on the ride. I felt a little sluggish, but not too bad and was able to get in the requisite suffering. Only after I was at work did I eclipse the twenty-four hour time window since completing my weight workout Monday morning. Oh those hip flexors...

I am now realizing why the riders in the Tour de France have mixed emotions about rest days. You can't really rest, or the pain sets in. If you keep riding, you keep that window open.

I discovered this over labor day weekend when I had a miserable home project that involved, stacking wood, digging, nailing, hauling six thousand pounds of cement first onto a cart, then into the car, then out of the car, then into a wheelbarrow, then mixing it and finally shoveling it into place. I did this ten to sixteen bags at a time as our car cant carry more than that. At the end of each long day I dreaded how I would feel the next morning. Every time to my surprise, I awoke and felt okay. It wasn't until Tuesday when I was back at work that the magic twenty-four hour window expired. That sucked!

There is a point as you grow older when you do something you know will cause you to hurt later. Those are borrowed time moments as the reckoning always comes.

As I try and race faster (and why not at least try?) I am figuring out this window thing and will try to use it to my advantage.

I recall many years ago a neighbor coming over and asking how many bruises were on our children's legs. It seems her daughter's doctor had told her that at her age her daughter should have ten to fifteen bruises on her legs as an indication she is being active enough.

I don't know how many scrapes and bruises I should have on my body as an indication that I am active enough for my age. I am, however, confident that I would meet that criteria.


Monday, September 10, 2012

First Blood Kick off cross race report 2012

Evo rippin it up in 2012 !!
Remember this shot from the Tour de France?

After a leisurely Saturday spent putting fresh cables, bar tape and brake pads onto my cross bike the season kicked off Sunday.

We arrived early and put up the team tent. My mom (the human pallet jack) came out and helped with the set up. Hottie did most of the heavy lifting and took some great shots as well.

We cheered on Scott, Willard and a different Scott in the early races. Spinner John raced as well. He had his traditional race expression that made one wonder if he was passing a kidney stone during the race.

A loop around the course was encouraging. Some power, some technical and mixed terrain. I got in a few warm up laps and was excited to race.

Call ups were by number and it wasn't exactly a well oiled machine as riders snuck in and nobody said anything. I was it he back of the Cat 3 45 plus pack, so I wasn't too worried.

At the gun (or whistle, or holler, I can't recall) we were off. Just as I got rolling someone in front drifted way left into my lane and myself, and twenty of my riding friends grabbed our brakes. Soon we were up to speed, the we were stopped as the course turned from a thirty foot wide road to a four foot wide dusty trail and we were there waiting for our turn to go.

Soon we were zipping along a gravel road and then we were dumped onto the dried grass and a zig zag course that allowed us to string out a bit. There were clever off camber corners that if taken tight at the apex, would spill you down the hill and toward the tape. If you went tight you would find yourself braking then accelerating. If you started wide you could keep your speed and avoid the off camber. I was riding well and passing riders and then we were pinched as the course went onto some single track that included a wooden footbridge. With both feet on the ground we had to wait to go single file whilst the leaders were gaining minutes on the other side of the single track.

When I emerged I quickly moved up on a long gradual corner then a zig zag and onto the road for a long uphill that would be a site for suffering on later laps. The climb topped out as we rounded a tree and then a screaming descent followed by a dry dust right turn on asphalt that saw many a rider slide out. The descent continued on a gravel road followed by a one eighty turn that would be the sight of my crash in a few laps.

A fun banked corner followed by grassy turns and two barriers and a steep uphill that would see many a rider dab, stumble, stall and fall. Then we crossed a parking lot and more grassy zig zags as we gain elevation. Then a long off camber that dumps you onto the road for a short sprint to the start/finish line.

As we passed the finish line I saw six more laps to go.

The pinch points caught me on the second lap as well. It was frustrating to see the gaps I had gained with handling and/or power disappear as I waited to climb the dusty path or cross onto the single track. I took notice that I was behind Matthew and Big John and ahead of El Hefe and Tom B.

As the laps ticked on, John moved up and then I was moving up on him. I saw El Hefe gaining on me as well. On about the fourth lap I was in the middle of about eight riders and we were poaching each other in corners and on the brief straights. As we hit the long road uphill, the race fatigue showed and I was able to power past ALL of them and take my lead on the descent. El Hefe caught me and he moved to the front of a small group of four or so riders I had just caught onto.

On the fifth lap Sam (El Hefe) was pulling away and I was hanging on to my group. Tom B was way behind and Big John wasn't too far ahead. After the climb and screaming descent I took the dusty turn wide and shot down the loose gravel. At the bottom was a turn and someone else came in tight after I came in wide and we both hit the apex at the same time (albeit from different angles) the laws of centrifugal force are always enforced and I went down hard and rolled over.

That little drip of blood in the Curtlo head badge is soooo cool. I may look for some clear nail polish so I can keep it forever!

When I got up I was dazed and losing time. My left calf had caught a pedal and was cramping so I walked a few feet before remounting and discovering my chain had come off. It took me a full minute to get it on and I gored the middle finger of my left hand in the process.

I remounted and Tom B had caught me and asked if I was okay. Tom is a surgeon and if I had stopped and shown him my finger he would have had to stop (trapped by the hypocratic oath). Beating Tom was my goal on the day, so I had to dig to keep him from going ahead of me.

As I continued on the lap I realized my finger didn't just hurt, it was bleeding. It was bleeding a lot. It was someone's bright idea to wear our white jerseys for this one race and I didn't want to get blood on it. I wiped my finger on my shorts because my brake lever was getting slippery from the blood. As I streaked by the team tent I wondered if anyone would notice my bloody hand. I guess I was just going so fast they couldn't. Even my own mom would shout "go 20/20," which she said to every rider on my team. If she doesn't recognize my face she won't notice my bloody hand.

Bloody lever....

I was actually feeling really good and was preparing to gas it for my last lap. I could not see crowd that I had been racing with ahead of me as the gap from my crash was large. As I approached the finish line I looked at the lap board and it said "finished." I was done.

Aside from my crash I was pleased with my performance. I didn't have my usual miserable first race of season finish. I felt strong, my handling skills were good, and I had something left in the tank that I will get to use next time.

After making my way back to the team tent my mom offered me a crumpled Kleenex to wipe my wound. Declining to mix her mucus with my blood I went to the first aid tent. In our other local series, they lay you out and treat you. In this series they hand you a handy wipe and a band aid.

As the adrenaline wore off my finger started throbbing. A tooth of my crankset had pierced my fingernail and all injuries to fingertips hurt more than they should.

We watched the kids race and then McWoodie and Brad tore up the master 1/2's.

Returning home I cleaned the bike and washed clothes (twice, as this is cyclocross and my white jersey still isn't back to its usual white splendor). I showered and washed the blood and dirt off and then cursed when I dried off and got blood and dirt on our white towel.

How do I know it is cyclocross season? After my shower I grab the antibiotic cream and dab it onto my left hand, right hand, left shoulder, left leg, right leg, and left hip. I don't know where most of these scrapes and divots came from.

Oh yes; it is good to be racing cross again!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Video Review.. Jeremy Powers Cross Camp

This is the cover.  I just bought the download, so I only see it for a second..
Yes I bought it.  It was affordable and I'd fill my shoes with peanut butter if it made me faster.  Will this video make you faster?  Will it make me faster?  That is the question we ask ourselves before we shell out our hard earned bucks.

I once had a Geology professor who said something that always stuck with me.  He said, "If they sold smart pills, I'd stand in line to buy some."  My take away from that is you do what you can to be better. Now on to the video.

The video covers the full spectrum. Jeremy starts with what he packs and what he wears in different weather conditions.  As a veteran of several season that have included sun, sand, mud, rain, snow, ice etc. I know a few things. I watched and listened to every word.  I learned something.  Also, like so many things, we forget and it is easier on my body to be reminded as opposed to suffering in a 2012 race and then remembering.

This was the tone for a lot of things. Yeah, I kinda knew that, but it has been dormant for a long time and this was a timely reminder.  There were also some things that I learned that I didn't know before.  Will I use them? Yes I will.

There is slow motion section on tire pressure that is worth the price of the video.  He covers run ups, cornering, barriers (no hopping) and sand.  The video is good.  It will make you faster.  If you race in my category, don't buy it, I'll loan you my copy.  Oops, I forgot it, I'll bring in next week..

What do the pros know that we don't?  My second year at Nationals in Bend Oregon I raced and watched races.  There was a corner that was muddy and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE took it tight.  Then when the pros were warming up, they took it wide and kept their speed. Every pro took it wide.  What do the pros know that we don't? They know how to go fast.  Want to go fast?  Buy the video.

Because it isn't too expensive, too pretentious, or too basic, I give it Five of five Evos !

Here is his website

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pedaling toward Jesus

Blinded by the light
These are weird training days for Evo.  With the Equinox fast approaching the sun is lining up so that every time I turn east in the morning (and every time I turn west in the evening) I encounter this deity-like light.  I've been doing intervals on the way in to work twice a week and it seems to be paying off.  I'll find out this weekend when I pin on a number and race with the Cat 3 old men. 

This week, after my usual fifteen minute warm up, I crossed 220th street and took a deep breath and checked the time on my bike computer. As it ticked over I got out of the saddle and with a firm grip on my bars I cranked. On the first pedal stroke, my right pedal sheared off. 
Yeah, I know !
To my amazement, I stayed up, managed NOT to gore myself, or even scrape myself. I coasted to the side of the quiet street and stepped off the bike. I looked at the bottom of my shoe to see if there was a pedal stall attached. There was not.  I looked around. I could not see it anywhere.  I paused and tried to get my pointed head around what had happened and what I should do.

Hottie and I shared a cup of coffee before I rolled out, so I knew she was awake. I called the her and in a few minutes she brought the team car with spare pedals and tools (is she AWESOME of what?).  Tux came along for the ride and seemed happy to be out. I know I broke all of the self sufficient rules, but if I had called for a ride home and then driven to work that would have been more fuel burned and a good workout missed.
Hottie is ALWAYS prepared to take a picture..  
Note the Stanley Coffee mug, the Road ID on my right  wrist, the Stella 300 on my helmet 
(the helmet was on sale for CHEAP) and my frame pump.  
I have NEVER had to use the frame pump for an on-route flat..

After the bike was returned to working order I kissed the driver of the team car, I resumed my ride.  In five minutes I was doing intervals and sucking air.  During my recovery between intervals I pondered upon my pedal failure. My thoughts ran from, "I am so freakin' strong, the other riders should just step aside and let me win all the races this year," to "I know I lubed that pedal a while ago..."  In the end I concluded I was just cheap and had squeezed a bit too much out of my pedals.

As I turned the right hand corner the sun blinded me and I had to come to a complete stop just so I could see if there was traffic on the road. There was; I waited and crossed and resumed my workout.

I had a home project that I tackled over the long weekend. I took of Friday to get a head start.  It was manual labor that, among other things, involved mixing ninety bags of cement in a wheelbarrow with a shovel and then shoveling it into the forms I put together using twelve doors that were left over reclaimed from our remodel project.

My hands are numb and my back is sore. My neck is sunburned. My body feels a strange combination of being a grandfather yet feeling alive from the aches and scratches that remind me I am living a full life.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

6,472 kilometers so far in 2012

As my loyal fans may recall during my riding in the French Alps we all committed to make the transition from miles to kilometers.  Last year, for the first time in my fifty plus years I rode over four thousand miles. I passed three thousand miles earlier this this year.  Grab your conversion table and you can see how far I've ridden in 2012.  Six thousand four hundred and seventy two kilometers is a long way.