Monthly Archives: January 2009

Southern cross culture on the skids

Is alive in southeastern Virginia.

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A wacky cyclocross culture appears to thrive on the West Coast mixing serious racing with good times, parties, costumes and bonfires. You can see it at Cross Crusade in Portland, Ore., and in the hilarity surrounding Single-speed Cyclocross World Championships.

The East Coast in comparison seems almost too serious. It’s a race: Break out the skinsuit, the embrocation and race face.

Well, the serious season ended two weeks ago with VB CX, then last weekend assuaged my fear that we’re too damn serious. The Barhamsville Billy Cross put on by Creedence Shaw (below on the start/finish jump) and assorted JRVS friends on a farm just west of Williamsburg was as much a costume party as cross race. It was a hillbilly-themed blast.

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The entry fee was a six-pack of beer with the winner taking whatever was left.During a parade lap, Creedence showed off the bourbon shot short-cut – take a shot and skip the twists and turns up the field.

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A pre-race, one-lap time trial started with chugging a beer (hadn’t done that in more than a decade) then shooting the beer can with three rocks fired from a wrist rocket/slingshot (Mugler shooting above). If you scored a hit, you could go or you had to fire all three. The time trial was supposed to give us seeding for the race with the fastest strating from the back, but the organization was already breaking down.

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The race started with Kevin (chasing turkeys above) taking the hole shot around the barn by the turkey coop. I chased but traffic delayed my move up to second. After two laps, Jerry, who may have been in the parking lot when the race started, came steaming by and I lost his wheel removing my leather motorcycle jacket. Meanwhile Kevin was doing shots and getting father ahead. I waited to do a shot, not wanting to puke early in the race. Creedence, riding a sweet bike from Hunter Cycles, was doing shots and slipped ahead of me, catching Jerry. Finally, on the bell lap, I did a shot and tried to bridge up to Jerry and Creedence, but the gap was just a little too much. K-Dawg (or was it Kev-Dizzle?) took the W.

After the race, everybody looted Kevin’s winnings and enjoyed a great spread of chil plus awesome cornbread and brownies. A bonfire was burning, but I had to skedaddle home.

It was a West Coast-style scene with a distinctly Southern twist.

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I’ll take second, thank you very much

If you’d told me Friday, I’d get second in my cyclocross race on Saturday and in my age group in Sunday’s duathlon at the VB Winter Endurance Challenge, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. After an injury-plagued and otherwise busy fall, my form was truly suspect. I had no idea how I’d race. Even now that I’m back on the bike and running again, my training opportunities are hit or miss because I’m so busy at work.

I raced Bs on Saturday because the 1pm start would be at the warmest time of the day and it was frigid. The arctic air mass pummeling the eastern U.S. delivered highs of about 25 degrees. The start was a typical sprint, I was 4th wheel into the stadium and up the tall berm behind the soccer field. Then Tyler slipped out on the off-camber turn and I rode beneath him into 2nd and was on the lead rider, who was already fading. I went around him on the pavement and hit it hard, figuring I need to put distance on everyone before I blew up too. The course was much faster than I’d expected because it was mostly frozen.

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I rolled almost two laps solo when Tyler finally bridged. We worked together and put more distance on the field. The young man (he’s 17) was really strong. I was better on the technical sections, but just holding on the rest of the time. (Pic above as we cross the barriers, from teammate Mike Park.) He attacked me a few times, but I was able to scratch back to him. We caught Kevin, from the A-field, and rode with him for a while. I made my mistake on the second to last lap. I’d been letting Tyler attack me and resting between the attacks. Going into the big berm, I stupidly decided to attack and slipped out in the same place he did. He gapped me there. I almost got back to him right after the barriers with a lap to go, but the effort cooked me. I should have been more patient. Lesson learned.

I rolled the last lap and finished second. Tyler is riding strong and I wish him luck with the Hincapie junior development squad.

Sunday dawned slightly warmer (a bit over freezing), but more overcast and windier, so it really felt just as cold. I’m an OK runner, but definitely felt Saturday’s effort in my legs as I ran. I turned my first 5K in 23:18, about a minute slower than last week, then had a slow transition. I initially felt good on the bike and passed a bunch of people. Then Justin Raynes blew through me and my hamstrings started to tighten. I noticeably slowed. A few more people came by, including NCVC’s Greg Faber, who came by me like I was standing still after I beat him the day before. Ouch. But then again, he didn’t run; he was racing on a team. I lost a contact on the second lap, which made reading the ground a lot more difficult. I lose my depth perception.

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Still my bike was 12th fastest, but not what I’d hoped. (Photo of the end of my bike by Kevin.)  Back out on the second run I kept a steady pace until the 3rd mile when the wheels came off. I passed one guy and was passed by another guy, but that was it. Toward the end, as I slogged the last few hundred meters, the first place woman was closing in on me, but she ran out of course. I finished the last 5k in a slow 25:49 for a total time of 1:32.27. I do wish I ran better.

Results from the weekend are here. Props to my Tripower teammates Mike Hosang (pictured below by Mike Park) and Tim Starkey for winning the 35+ and 45+ cross races on Saturday,  young Zach (now on Siegler’s junior squad) for his 3rd in the Cs and Lynn for a strong 2nd in the women’s field behind DeeDee.

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On Sunday, Sally schooled me on the runs as team McSilly ran away to a second in the coed teams. JimmyD‘s woman Karen was 3rd overall. Ryan H and Dinterman duked it out for 1st and 2nd overall with Ryan taking the W. It also was nice to see Mr. Russell down from Staunton tuning up for his Xterra season.

Much to my surprise, this fun weekend was the idea of Beach tourism officials. They deserve props for it and for ponying up the cash for what was one of the richest cross races in Virginia this year. Thanks to Kale Running too and Kevin for their hard work in making the Virginia Beach Winter Endurance Challenge happen. (And thanks to all those who made the long drive from DC, Maryland and even New York to race.)

As for me, I’m happy with second place (for now).

Across the frozen tundra at VB CX

With temps promising not to rise above 30 degrees tomorrow, the VB Cyclocross Winter Endurance Challenge tomorrow promises to be a race of a different kind of endurance. More who can endure the cold than who can withstand 45 minutes on the rivet. The sodden ground at the Sportsplex also will be frozen solid, at least for the early races. It may be beyond Belgian and more Canadian, eh?

Another double on a beautiful day

It turned out to be a gorgeous Saturday in Hampton Roads. Got up early to run the first race in Kale Running’s Mud in Your Eye cross-country series, a 5K at Mount Trashmore. Ran OK, finishing in 22:33, about a minute slower than last year, but good enough for third in my age group.

Spent the rest of the mornign getting my cross bike back together for next weekend’s race and took a walk with Audrey in the afternoon, enjoying the near 60 degree temps.

At 3, I rode out on the fixie for The Bike Doctor’s (Wes Cheney’s) Lock U Up Alley Cat Classic. Teams were mandatory this time, so I hooked up with a young guy named Adam who seemed to know his way around his bike. After having a little trouble finding the first checkpoint on 38th Street, we rolled the rest of them up very fast and finished first, beating the second-placed threesome of Lynn, Mike P. and Kevin, who rode the Pink Passion, his wife’s basket-laden cruiser. He regretted that decision, I think.

He took this pic of me enjoying the spoils of victory…

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Hair of Dog/Miles4Meredith double

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For the second year in a row, I did the Hair of the Dog 5K run at Mount Trashmore followed by the Miles4Meredith fundraiser ride for local chef Meredith Nicholls, who was paralyzed in a mountain bike accident a couple of years ago. It was bitterly cold and windy today. At the start of the foot race, it was 28 degrees with the wind blowing 10 to 20 mph. Coming out of the north, the wind bit like a dog.

Without Kevin there to push me, I started more easily, working my way through the field and running steadily at about a 7-minute-mile pace. I was able to hold that pace, but only by sheer force of will after the two-mile mark as we turned into the wind again. I had little left for a sprint and finished with a 21:53 chip time for the distance, 22:10 by the gun. It was good enough for third in my 40-44 age group and 31st overall. Imagine if I trained a little bit. (Kale Running, as usual, did a great job organizing this race.)

After the race, I rolled out of Trashmore about noon with about 30 other hardy riders for the fundraiser. Organizer Dan Gibson cut the ride t0 just 20 miles since it was so cold and we rode at a very leisurely pace around central Virginia Beach. Not sure what the finally tally was, but I’m sure the cold cut the turnout, which is a shame. Still anything is better than nothing and it was nice to see such a strong turnout from Fat Frogs and Tripower.