Monthly Archives: October 2007

Outlaw alleycat in Norfolk

Just passing the word. Click on the flyer.

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This is right around the corner from my house; I’ll probably check it out after trick-or-treating.

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Ciclismo Cross, pumpkins and soccer

No pics, no video, but finally fall snapped in the air and I took to it like TV news crew to a big car wreck 20 minutes before the newscast. Raced the 35+ Ciclismo Cross race at Bryan Park in Richmond. (What a great park! Wish Norfolk had a big old-style park like this.) The course was mostly flat and fast with long road sections, a spongy field, a short single-track climb, some twisting off-road and two sets of barriers. It was either the perfect course for me, the weather or wearing my Tripower skinsuit for the first time, but I had my best race, big-ringing it the whole time.

They started all the masters together (35+ and 45+). I got a good start and rolled through the field in 5th wheel, but you know what they say about 5th wheels and soon I slipped off the pace being set by Dickenson, Kevin, Mr. Russell and a 4th I don’t know. Two laps in that 4th came back to me and I passed and dropped him. Meanwhile Tony B from C’ville came up to my wheel. He and I traded pulls, then I’d drop off the pace, then he’d drop off. He was stronger on the road, but I was stronger on the dirt. We weren’t well suited to working together, but we tried to pull back Kevin and Mark, who’d been dropped by Ed. Every lap we crept a little closer. On the second to last lap, Tony did a monster pull down the long back road section (thanks, Tony), and dropped off through the woods. I thought it might be enough to get me up to Kevin and Mark, but they stayed away. I’ve got to admit it was inspiring to have Kevin just dangling out there. Really wanted to catch them, but I’ll settle for 4th place, my best result of the year.

I was going to hang around and do the B-race, but decided to hoof it home. We still needed to carve a pumpkin as Josh reminded me on his blog. Plus Ellie had soccer practice, and I’d be cutting it tight to race, drive home and get her there in time. Got to have priorities and balance. Had a blast carving the pumpkin with the girls. Let Ellie wield the carver tool for the first time too.

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Here’s the result:

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Chimborazo Cross A-race (These guys fly!)

My first attempt at a mini-movie. With vid shot from today’s Chimborazo Cross race in Richmond. I had a good race, finishing 5th in the 35+ field, behind Bill G. and Mr. Russell, as usual. Yo-yo’d with a Carytown racer through the last half of the race, but got away from him for good over the loose cobbles.

Cobblestone Cross B-race vids

The Cobblestone Cyclocross B-race started a minute behind the A’s on Sunday and we took off like thundering herd, the wind whipping up the dry dusty dirt of Virginia’s drought at Pole Greeen Park on Sunday.

I started poorly, failing to clip in until the turn and losing a bunch of places, but I was tired from my earlier 35+ race. Moments later we rolled through the barriers for the first time – not real fast, but my form was still good. Can you hear the wind? It was brutal out there.

Soon we got some separation, or, I should say, I got separated, dropping off the lead group. I was chasing the VB Wheelmen’s Tim and Jon and trying to get a good gap on Ed from Shore Velocity. One of them was just in front of me, but I just couldn’t make the juncture. Finally the two got together and, working like true teammates, put some real distance on me. I felt pretty good on the course’s flats, but the ups and downs through the chicane were killing my already tired legs.

As the race wore on, a Squadra Coppi rider started to close in on me. He gained through the chicane and I was also slower through the barriers, too tired to leap back on the bike. He caught me through the barriers on the last lap. I tried to ride easy to save energy for the impending sprint, but keep him behind me so I could take the shorter inside line on the final turn. When we jumped, my shorts got caught on my saddle and I had to sit and rise again and by then he had the wheel length he beat me by.

I settled for 15th in a field of 21. Race results here. Doing two races in one day is tough, but it was great to have my family and Tripower teammates and other 757 buds out there cheering. Kudos to Marco, JB, Grizzly Mike and Albe for doubling up as well. And thanks to Michele for shooting these vids. Wish we’d shot more.

Cobblestone Cyclocross

Cooked up a mess of pancakes Sunday morning and somehow managed to bundle the whole family into the minivan by 7:40am to drive up to Mechanicsville for the Cobblestone Cyclocross race at Pole Green Park. It may have been #4 in the Virginia Series, but it was my first real ‘cross race due to the absurdly front-end loaded schedule this year. If I have one thing to tell Virginia ‘cross organizers, it’s that it should be chilly out when we’re racing.Getting the family up there allowed both Ellie and Millie a chance to race. Ellie did her first cross race, lining up with the 10-14 Juniors, who started right behind the older juniors and A- and B- women.

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I hope Ellie follows in Silly Sal’s footsteps. Sally threw down a great sprint, taking an inside line and forcing the other rider to try to come around on her outside to win the Bs.

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El toughed out the race pushing her mountain bike up all the steep little hills and lifting the heavy thing over the barriers for four laps.

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Despite the grim look on her face, she insists she had a great time and bragged about it at soccer practice later that day. She got 4th.

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Millie had fun too, racing the Winder siblings in the kids race. Brett took off like a shot and Millie did her best to chase. Hope seemed content to just watch. The organizers were awesome enough to give little Mil the second place A-women’s prize since – a bottle of Hammer Gel – since only one A-woman raced. Thanks!

I raced both the 35+ and the B-race for an exhausting day. The 35+ race started fast. I stayed with the lead group through the starting flat and the chicane, but felt a little gassed when we hit the pea gravel. I chased over the barriers…

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And up the hill…

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To no avail. Mr. Bill and Mr. Russell proved too strong (let alone the even faster trio that beat the three of us).

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I came in 6th out of 15. And felt pretty good, so I lined up later for the B-race. More on that later (with videos).

Half-blind and undertrained, my Ironcross

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In each of the past two years after Ironcross, I tell myself I’m going to prepare better for it. Do some mountain centuries, take longer rides more frequently, etc. I didn’t do it this year, but I had a decent excuse; I didn’t ride much in August due to back problems.

Still, I had a good Ironcross, managing a new personal best. I even felt like I could have done better; I was on pace to do so until the third checkpoint and the huge climb, then it was lights out. But I’m getting ahead of the story.

Marco, Rob and I made great time Saturday, stopping for a great Italian dinner at Mamma Ventura’s in downtown Gettysburg, though Rob kept joking about his Stouffer’s ziti and, while Marco loved his chicken, he seemed more interested in the pastry chef/waitress’s cannoli. We got to the hostel, met up with the rest of the Tripower contingent, watched a little of “300,” then hit the cots. And laid there wide awake. That dorm-style sleeping is cheap, but I just don’t sleep well. I guess I got a little over four hours of shuteye.

Up and out the next morning, it was chilly, but not brutally cold like last year. I lined up with Marco, J “I Don’t Snore” B and Art, but picked my way up through the field on the lap of the cyclocross course. Once we got onto the bike path, I latched onto the tail of a group of 20 riders and enjoyed the tow until we hit the beach where the group shattered. I stayed upright and on the bike and got out onto the first road climb, spinning easy so as not to toast my legs early. Rode the ridge’s gravel road with another group and stayed with them through the next road section to the base of the King of the Mountain climb. Here again, I went at my own pace. Back on the ridge road, I caught on a small group with two NCVC riders. Turning on the rocky, single-track Lippencote Trail, I stayed on one guy’s wheel and rode most of the section except for the biggest log crossings and the final steep, rocky chute. It’s amazing how the cross bike handles the gnarly stuff. We passed a bunch of people through there.

Back out on the road, we caught Stephen the Manimal and traded pulls, hammering down Route 30, then climbing up 233. Both dropped off my wheel after we turned onto the gravel climb up to the reservoir and the powerline crawl-up. At the base of the crawl-up I pulled off my wind vest and Stephen caught me. Many question why they’re doing the race and the cruelty of the organizers during the crawl-up, but this year it seemed shorter to me. Perhaps I just found the right rhythm for the climb, but up I went without stopping.

I rolled into the second checkpoint in just under two hours, grabbed a couple of energy bars and headed back out for the fast gravel road sections. I flew along until we got to the double-track climb to Ridge Road. I started to suffer a bit on that climb. Still I held my own and felt like I was on a good pace. Another ridge, then a turn onto Thompson Hollow Road for the screaming gravel descent. I felt great and was flying down the road when my left contact dried and slipped out of my eye. I had to stop in one of the steepest sections. Maybe 20 people rolled by as I managed to get it back in, but it kept hurting. When I pulled into checkpoint 3, I rinsed my hands and pulled the contact out. It was torn, so I had to ride the final 20 or so miles with only one good eye, which made it very hard to read the gravel in the shade and the single-track. It was also at this checkpoint that the eventual women’s winner caught and passed me.

Pulling out of the checkpoint, the Hogshead Road turns skyward climbing endlessly at 15 to 20 percent. I was in my smallest 39×32 gear, grinding upward at 4 miles per hour or so. It hurt. I was a little nauseous from not seeing like I normally do. Rider after rider came by me, including one insane fellow on a fixed-gear cross bike who eventually finished in about 4:50. The second-place woman caught me, but I kept her in sight and stayed with her to the top of Hogshead, up the nasty headwall climb of Woodrow Road and down the scary descent to checkpoint 4, where the long single-track section begins.

As I rolled into the checkpoint, I nailed a pothole hard and not far into single-track my rear wheel felt soft. I stopped, but it wasn’t flat just soft. I should have stopped and changed the tube, but instead I tried to pump it up. I got it from 20 to 30 pounds, but snapped the nipple off. Oops. Still it was holding those 30 pounds, so I soldiered on.

I was tired and I couldn’t really see the trail clearly. I pedaled squares in a low gear, unable to spin up a higher pace. Again rider after rider came by. I paid the piper here for the lack of long rides and climbing in my training regimen. I carried the bike and walked it a lot more on the later climbs than I did last year when I felt better prepared. As I slogged up one such climb I saw a photographer and shouldered the bike and jogged a few steps. I must have been delirious.

Back out on the road for the final miles, the soft rear tire really slowed me down. One rider blew by me. Then a woman in a Trek Team jersey passed me on the final climb and I followed her all the way into the line.

I finished in 5:09, 10 minutes faster than my best time from two years ago. The rest of the team did great. Crazy came in 14th, clocking a 4:14! The Dingo rode 4:30. Tim and young Mark weren’t far behind him. Stephen, Art, Marco and Grizzly McMahon were hot on my heels. Marco was about six minutes behind me. Not bad at all for the first time and not really training. He must be able to climb or something. The ladies all rolled in not far behind them. Single-speed Rob and JB finished in just under 6 hours, I think. Poor BillG though cut his tire and DNF’d.

Next year, I go under five hours. Only 12 months and counting.

Ironcross minus 1

In 24 hours, this will be me, crawling up the so-called run-up, wondering what sadist thought of this, gasping for air, afraid of falling backwards and forgetting to enjoy the view over my shoulder:
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That’s one thing I can wait for, but the climb will end and there’s more fun ahead. (I wish I could remember who sent me this photo. He somehow found me and e-mailed it to me. Many thanks.)

On the road in a few hours, after Ellie’s soccer game…