Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cross The Way #4

So Amy and I headed to Nashville for the weekend. We shopped all day, ate dinner at Pucketts and saw some great live music.

The next morning, we awoke to 14 degree weather and snow blowing everywhere.

The race was in Galatin, north of Nashvegas and was out on Lock 4 state park. I raced there years ago on a mountainbike and did really well there. Unfortunately, things have changed..... LOL

The race itself was out on the peninsula which makes up Lock 4. Amazingly enough the actual peninsula is really hilly. The course itself was up and down the ridge that makes the peninsula, and had a bunch of seriously off camber hills and turns to take. Amazingly I made it through all of them even though I did not get to pre-ride the course.

Unfortunately toward the end, I was really draggin.... Wrong dinner the night before, tired and too doggone cold!!! Top that off with the fact that it was not my kind of course, and it made for a rough race. At the end, I noticed that my rear wheel was really dragging. It was completely clogged with frozen mud and leaves and the rear wheel was not really turning at all.

I had a great time and will go do this race again, but I'll be better prepared next time too!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Outdoors Inc Cyclocross Championships 2010

Another race I look forward to every year. I did this race for the first time probably 16+yrs ago.

So this year, I was excited, but not sure how I'd fare. I showed up this morning and proceded to do a couple warm up laps to feel out the course. Fast as usual for this event. The course was/is on Mud Island and sits right on the Mississippi riverfront. There was one hill which I was able to ride up, but most people were running it. After that, there was a stair runup, a set of two standard barriers on a short hill, and 3 large river driftwood logs on the main straightaway to cut the speed down a bit.

When I went to register, I started to register CX4 as I had earlier this year. The registration people asked if I'd rather ride in Masters Men 35+? I told them I was not old enough for Masters and they quickly set me straight that I was...... great, I'm officially getting old per USAC. So Masters it was. The other bonus was that prizes went fairly deep in Masters.

Lining up on the start line, I recognized all but one of the Masters racers. We hit the course and I actually got a pretty good start. CX4, all Masters and SS started together as part of the B race. Big crowd, but most of the CX4's pulled away pretty quickly. I continued on and had the lead in Masters for approx half a lap. Then the unknown person pulled ahead followed by a guy who beat me here last year.

After that, I held my position and actually started to pull back a number of the CX4's. My dismounts and runs were really going well and I was flying through the barriers faster than I thought I could. I even rode the steep hill on the last lap that everyone else (mostly) was running.

I ended up 3rd in Masters 35+, and beat all but one of the Masters 45+ guys, as well as maybe 1/4th of the CX4 field. To top all of that, Boomer only lapped me once..... (he lapped me 3 times 3 years ago!!)

Was a really fun race and I look forward to next year.

Next on the calendar is the Lock4 Cross-The-Way race in December. I don't think I can make it to the Jonesboro race the last weekend in November.

Monday, November 1, 2010

SpookyCross Race #1

Spooky Cross 2010

This race was/is a great addition to the Mid-South cyclocross racing scene.

It took place in the Shelby Farms Ampitheather. The venue is a natural ampitheater in the nation's largest urban park. The course had a brutal runup through the ampitheater, followed by a nice singletrack ride, a gravel road, a paved path, and finally into a taped off grass field with some painful climbing involved.

That grassy area with the climbing is definitely not my kind of course... LOL

Day one opened with warm breezes and a hard packed course. No mud to be seen anywhere. I arrived early and pre-rode the course a few times. Very easy to figure out once on it. The organizers made a few areas even a bit more clear after I gave them some feedback.

The CX4 race was grouped in with the Masters, SS and Women riders. Made for a big group! One heckuva mass start.

The race progressed, and I slowly fell back from the field. I just was not feeling it in the legs. They were stiff and had no snap. Thats pretty much how the race finished for me.

The big positive for this race was that my wife and daughter were there. This is the first race my little girl has seen me in, and having her there with my wife clanging away with the cowbells I bought them made it an awesome day!

Day two started very cold. Mid-40's were the name of the game, and the course was the same with only a few of the barriers moved for variety. Something was definitely clicking more precisely, as I was really getting my dismounts under control and getting some pretty good speed on the runs.

In the end, I finished pretty much the same Sunday as Saturday. I did feel a lot better though!

I already look forward to this race next year. I know it will be a good time again. Kudos to the organizers - they did a really good job!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cyclocrunk 2010 #3 - Mud

Tuesday, rain fell in Memphis like it had not done in 3-4 months. That guaranteed a muddy and wet race for Tuesday night.

I ate mud hard in the first 180 turn corner when I washed my front wheel. That let a bunch of people past me that I really would have liked to stay with. After getting up, straightening my bars and putting the chain back on, I got moving again.

By the end of the race, I was getting pretty drained but I had reeled in a few people that I had hoped to.

I crossed the line dizzy from the effort and absolutely covered in mud. It was a great night!!!!

A huge thanks to Joel, Robert and Mike for putting on a great series. I look forward to this every year, and it lived up to expectations this year like the rest.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance.....

Managed to get some maintenance in today....

First up, I pulled the broken spoke from my Sugar's rear wheel (broke at the 6hrs of Herbs) and headed to Bike World. My luck, they had just the right spoke length in the right grade and it was even in black!

Back home in the shop, I pulled the cassette, weaved the spoke in and threaded up the nipple. Managed to get the wheel trued and back in good shape without even pulling the tire (its tubeless and I did not want to make a big mess.....)

Next up, I cleaned up the CX bike from the last race. I ran the wrong chain lub considering the sand that was on the course, and needed to clean the thing completely. Once clean, I decided to cut the glue globs from the rear tire. Cleaned up really nice. At least it doesn't look as bad as it did look.

While I was working on the CX bike, I put a cassette on my backup wheels in the hope that I can use them tomorrow to take my daughter for a trailer ride.

Finally came my road bike. On my last ride, the bottom bracket had started to make some noise. Its a Token Ti spindle bottom bracket... with several thousand miles on it. It was pretty difficult to remove and that worried me a bit.... When I went to reinstall it, it was extremely hard to install. Eventually, it would not turn at all. I soaked it in some thread penetrant and began pulling it out. The threads on the cup holder were stripped almost half way out...... luckily only one thread on the bike was rounded off.

I looked in my junk box and found an older FSA bb that matched and still felt like it had good bearings. Luckily it went right back in after cleaning out the threads in the bike with solvent and a brush. I reinstalled the cranks and tightened the chainrings while I was at it.

Lotsa work, but they are all in good shape again and ready to ride.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cyclocrunk 2010 #2.....

Well, I guess I just was not 'crunk' Tuesday night.

Great evening. Rained just enough during the day to drop the temp comfortably, and to knock down the dust.

The course was the same except they double the distance of the runs on the barriers, and they doubled the length of the sand pit.

I left work very late and pulled up to the race with just enough time to dress and ride a couple practice laps. Alas, it was not to be. I had some pretty good dismounts going, but I just plain could not run. Felt like I had lead in my shoes, so every dismount just knocked me flat.

After 5 laps, I pulled off the course and took my helmet off to watch. To my amazement, as I rolled up to one of the spectator areas, I was standing there with 5 other riders who had pulled out. I guess I was not the only one who DNF'ed......

Next week will be better.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

6 Hours of Herb 2010

This weekend was the 6 Hours of Herbs out at Herb Parsons Lake in Fisherville, TN. I grew up riding at Herb Parsons, and racing there from 1991 on. I love that trail, and I know it like the back of my hand.

In 2009, I missed the race because I was in Singapore. Long transit to make it to a race......

This year, I was ready. I made plans early to make sure there were no conflicts of any kind and then started practicing at Herbs. The race when finally announced was set to run clockwise around the lake. This is backwards of what most of us ride the trail, so we started practicing that way. After 2 months of clockwise riding, it was announced (the week before the race) that it would be run counter clockwise!!!! Surprise surprise!!!!

Somewhere in there, my buddy Ken mentioned he wanted a teammate. We're pretty evenly matched, and he's a great guy, so we had a team.

Race day arrived, and it was 43 degrees at the racecourse. Myself and the rest of my Journeymen Racing Team hit the site and managed to set up camp with a great pit area right by the start/finish line.

Ken and I decided to flip for the first lap and he won. That was good news for me, because I'm not a runner, and this race had a 100 yard run to a Lemans style start!
Ken rocked the first lap, and we had a great start.

I jumped hard at the start line and took off on my first lap. In that lap, I passed approx 15 people as I pushed hard around the course. Everything went perfectly for that lap. Kens 2nd and my 2nd were also great laps as we were consistently putting up fast lap times. We were also pushing the other Journeymen 2 man team of Zach/Kurt and leading them by approx 5 mins.

Ken's third lap went well, and the handoff was fast, so I sailed into my 3rd lap with a lot of confidence........ and a full bladder. I listened behind me for any other riders and there was no one near me, so I slid to a stop, unclicked one foot and watered the trail.... Phil Ligget would call that a Natural Break I guess.

2 Miles later, everything started to come undone. I heard some tinking from my back wheel and felt the bike jump a couple times under me. I stopped immediately and thought a stick would be in my spokes. 3 or 4 people passed me that I had just passed and I felt like an idiot. Then I saw the trouble... One broken drive-side spoke. To make matters worse, the stub of that spoke jammed into the back of the cassette and made my bike a fixed gear!

I finished the 2nd half of that 9 mile lap in fixed gear mode. When I got done with the lap, we still held a 4-5 gap on the next two teams. I'm glad I did not give up. Once in the pits, I found that the rear wheel was taco'ed enough to make the rear brakes rub a lot. No wonder my legs were burnt up.

With the Sugar out of commission, I pulled the cyclocross bike from the truck and aired up the tires. I had thrown the bike in the back as an afterthought. Turned out to be a good thought!

Unfortunately, I was not paying attention and Ken came flying into the pits early. He turned a great lap and I was not ready. As he hit the finish line, I managed to get my helmet on and the bike out of the repair stand. As I ripped onto the course, I could hear someone say 'Is he riding a road bike?'. I got a good laugh out of that.

In my hurry to get on the course, I did not get on my jersey, nor did I get my gloves on. However, that was all negated by the ability to freewheel! I rode the course just like I did all last summer on the cross bike and enjoyed everyminute of it. Zach and Darren from the two other teams were right there ready to start when I left for this lap, so I kept looking over my shoulder continually to see if they'd appear out of no where.

All my shoulder looking was no use though, as I rode into the finish with a hard sprint. When I got back to the finish line, a bunch of the fast racers asked if I had ridden that thing in the race and I told them I had. I think they were a little surprised.

In the end, Ken and I did not win, but we had a good time and I think we were in the top half of the teams in the race, maybe even the top 5.

'Til next year!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cyclocrunk 2010 -1

Cyclocrunk 2010 -1 First CX Race Of The Year

Cyclocrunk is always fun. It is raw energy, it is fast, it is dark, it is dusty.......... You get the image.

For this year, I really worked on my fitness and my technique. I think I succeeded somewhat on both. At the race last night, we had approx 80 riders there. All cats were run together, and no placing was given. The only way to know how you do is to watch the other riders around you.

On the start, I made out pretty well. I was probably the 15th into the first section of barriers. Halfway through the first lap, most of the CX1 and CX2's I know had pulled past me and I settled into a group made up of friends that I know were CX3 and CX4. I continued on and rolled as hard as I could.

Through the barrier and sand sections, I made time on a lot of people. There were people that would gap me on the bike and I would pull them back on the barriers. That makes me think my skills practice was worth it late this past summer. I also did lightyears better on the bike this year than in past years. I'm not saying I'm Sven Nys or anything, but I'm definitely faster than I was in past years.
My new wheels also were the bomb! They were stiff and absolutely rocked on the off camber stuff. The Grifo and Fango gripped well, and I'm getting comfortable with the feel of the tubies through different terrain.

I know it sounds cliche, but I had a good time, and thats really what matters......

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ready to Race!!

Ok, maybe not quite ready, but it looks like its ready......

Time to get out the tubular glue....

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Wheels!!!!!!

Finally, I've finished my new wheels. Wayyyy too much time to get these things built, but finally they are done.

They are 50mm deep carbon rims laced to OffTheFront Racing hubs via Sapim spokes and nipples. They were/are my first deep dish rims, my first carbon rims, and my first tubular wheels.

As built, the set weighs 1290 grams. With them shod with Challenge Fango and Grifo, my CX ride now weighs in at just over 18.7 lbs. Thats a drop of almost 2lbs off my shoulder during the races, and gives me mucho better traction.

The project started with a 'group buy' on the Weight Weenies website. I ended up buying the 50mm tubulars from the vendor in Taiwan. Unfortunately, they took absolutely forever to get here. Apparent quality issues at the manufacturer prevented them from shipping. However, they did get here, and the quality is great.

Next issue was spokes. I had trouble finding them, but eventually settled on Sapim Laser for the front spokes and Sapim Race for the rear. Sapim alu nipples anodized red tie everything together.

My wheelbuilding friend Chris suggested that I build the wheels with nipple washers to spread the load inside the rimbed. That proved to be a bit of a problem. Because I used Sapim spokes and nipples, I decided to use Sapim Nipple Washers. Unfortunately, when they arrived, they were obviously not going to fit....... Wayyy too big. I looked at several opportunities to use locally available 'hardware store' washers, but none would fit..... They also were not really the right 'conical' shape that I needed.

Finally, I elected to order Pillar nipple washers from BDOP cycling in Taiwan. Do all bike parts now originate in Taiwan? They arrived, and they fit perfectly.

The wheels laced up very nicely and tensioned up well. I got them within approx .012" of true right off the bat and same for roundness.

With all that done, the tires are now stretching on the rims with the hope of gluing them up this weekend. I guess its time to get sticky.....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More 'Cross Season Preparation

Thursday, I went out after work and got in an hour of practice. I did dismount/remount repetitions in a local school yard for half an hour, then I did 15 mins of intervals. Was good fun and felt good to be throwing my leg over the bike again. Unfortunately, I have that derned stutter step again that I had finally gotten rid of. I guess more practice is necessary.

Then today, I put in 28 miles at Herb Parsons on the full-susser and tried to get myself ready for the 6 hours of Herb MTB race. Good fun and I felt really good ripping the course.

Finally, I came home and washed all my rides. After washing them, I pulled the headset out of the Labadie CX, cleaned it and re-installed it with extra grease. Nice and quiet now. After finishing that, I pulled all the brakes and greased all the posts. Finally, I waxed the whole bike and shined it up. Now if I can only get the wheels built and the tires glued on, I'll be truly ready.......

Sunday, September 19, 2010

More Cyclocross Bike Prep.....

When I built my current CX bike, I built it with parts I had on hand and parts I could get a bargain on. To that end, I had some crappy old Shimano psuedo aero levers for braking and some cheap KORE bars I got for a song off Ebay.

Unfortunately, this cheap setup had some serious drawbacks.... Number one, the bars were reverse radius ergo bars, and they were extremely deep drop. Frankly, at my age, deep drop bars are useless, and I just could not get into the drops comfortably. Number two, I hate ergo bars... they just suck.

The levers were another problem. The interface between the bars and the levers created a deep 'saddle'. This saddle basically caused me to hang from my thumbs when on the hoods. It was/is painful. On top of that, the hoods were old and coming apart.

Luck struck today out of the blue... While riding with my buddy Bill, he mentioned he had some stuff he wanted to sell and was about to put a bunch on the local cycling website. When we got back, he had a set of used Cane Creek singlespeed aero levers. These are the Campag copies and have a great shape to them. He also had a set of classic bend, shallow drop no-name bars. I got all of that for a twenty.

The new bars coupled with the new left brake lever (right is a DA9) makes for a much better position and much more comfortable hand positions. I have no idea of weight, but they are so much more comfortable, I'm not sure weight matters. Now for some new bar tape!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

MS150 2010

This year was my 8th time to participate in the MS150. I've enjoyed every one of them, but all for different reasons.

My ride this year was good because I had some friends that stayed with me the entire time. I'm by no means slow, I always finish the ride in the front 20% or so. However, most of my friends are very fast, in fact my buddy JR was the 5th person to finish 2 years ago (out of 600+ riders)

So this year, JR had an injury, and he thought it was a good idea to hold back and ride with me. That worked out well for both of us.

Day 1 was excellent in the morning, but rained the last 45 mins or so. I had planned to do the century on day 1, but with the rain and JR's injury, we decided to save some for Sunday. We maintained a good pace and finished before 1 o'clock.

Day 2 started with a little wind, but it was mostly at our back for the first 2 hours. We had one section where we were averaging 23mph with little effort in the group. Unfortunately, I lost contact with the group approx 2 miles from 'the Wall'. When I hit the Wall, it hurt, but I made it up in pretty good fashion.

We carried on from there, and at lunch, I was ready to roll, but the rest were not. I told them they'd surely catch me really quickly, so I set out on my own. I quickly got in a small group and rolled along at around 22mph for quite a while. When we got back into the hills, I slowed again, but kept on.

I stayed away for well over an hour. When they finally caught me, Adam stayed with me and JR rode on to the finish with a faster group.

We finished at a good time in the afternoon and ate a good meal of BBQ while listening to a rock band that was wayyyyyyyyyyyy too loud.

All in all, it was a great time. I look forward to next year

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Time to get ready for Cross Season!!!!!

For this year, I've decided to put my all into Cross season. I lost most of the MTB season to my injury, and did not even get to do many road rides because of my injuries.

Now with everything healing well, I'm ready for the leaves to change and the course to muddy up.

Equipment-wise, I'm running my Labadie Cyclocross bike. No need for anything new as it works well. I think it has character as well. I'm also going to stick to geared 1x9 for a while. The setup I have on there shifts better than any other bike I own. Its really good. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Wheel and tires however, I'm stepping up, and I'm stepping up big time!!! Its finally time to go tubular!!!!

I'm building up a set of 50mm carbon tubular rims on OffTheFront hubs and shoe-ing them with a Challenge Fango on the front and a Grifo in the rear.

This setup should chew 31ounces (almost 2 whole pounds) from my current clincher setup, while also providing significant improvements in handling from the lower tire pressures that are possible with tubulars....

These wheels really appeal to the gearhead and weightweenie inside of me. The lacing you see is just a temporary lacing of the wheels, as I am still short the rim washers necesary to build these things right. They should be here by early October, hopefully in time for me to build them up and have them ready for the first or second race.

Oh yeah..... one other detail - I'm building these for 1/5 the cost of a set of Zipps......

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Legened of Stanky Creek

This race has been approaching in my mind, and one I really wanted to do well at. My Journeymen Racing team has been planning to hit this race in force, and we did just that.

I missed the TT on day one, but the team hit it and podium'ed in pretty much every class. It was a hot day for all involved, especially my friends in the lower classes. Because of the volume of riders, the start times kept getting pushed back later and later, and so everyone just sat there in the heat.

Sunday arrived, and I was ready to rock. Someone forgot to turn off the heat though. The result was the hottest weekend in Memphis in a very long time.

Part of the reason I'd been thinking so much about this race was my result last year of  DFL!!!!!! I did not want to do that again. The other reason was that the race would be my 2nd ride on a mountain bike since my road wreck back in May. However, I felt pretty good, so I was hopeful.

My cat was down on numbers because several of the guys had moved to cat2. Out of that group, Brad broke a chain, Bill ate it hard in a corner and retired, and Billy kicked but and finished on the podium. Unfortunately, in the process, Billy broke a custom titanium 29'er frame at the bottom bracket!!!!

The race started and I hit the woods in 2nd place. 1st place rapidly dissappeared off the front and down the trail. By 1 mile in, I could not even see him further up the course - time to cat up bro!! 3rd place was on my wheel hard by 2 miles in, and I decided to give him the trail. I kept on, thinking I was still on the podium, but down a place.... It felt bad. Then, at mile 4, I saw 2nd place standing in the middle of the trail fussing with his bike.

I stopped and asked what was up (makin sure he was not hurt) and found his seat falling off the post. I offered him my mini-tool and watched him start to fix his bike, then all of a sudden it hit me- I did not have to stay there. So I said "Ya know what, I'm gonna ride on to the finish. C ya there!" I took off. That gave me a significant boost.

At mile 6, Ken caught me. He was in the age group above me, so I really did not want him to beat me!!!! I rode his wheel for a while until the fire road. When we hit the fire road, he stopped at the water station and I flew by. Within 10 mins, I had pulled almost a mile on him. I was burning up the trail and going as hard as possible.

At the finish, I pulled out a wild sprint and came across the line with dust flying everywhere... Of course, no one was around me...... LOL. It was fun though.

I came home with my first podium in a race in over 12 years. I even have a medal to show for my efforts.........

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Le Tour De France

In the eighties, Greg Lemond began his meteoric rise in popularity in the cycling world and in the US in general. He popularized cycling in a country which ignored any sport which did not involve a ball. Instantly, the feuds, the drama, the pain and the suffering of cycling filled the radar screens of many Americans including myself.

Over the next few years, I became addicted. I began to ride and even race. I watched the Tour as it came on television each July. Velonews and other cycling magazines sat well worn in piles all over my room. Within a few years, I was a mechanic in a shop and was racing in road, mtn and cyclocross.

I was in highschool during this time, and was making important decisions about my future. Though I did not know how important those decisions were at the time, I think they had a very profound effect on my future.

One of the decisions I was faced with was what language to take in school. As a huge cycling fan, I opted for French. I decided that one day in the future, I would go to France to see Le Tour in person. I figured learning French would make the trip more enjoyable and more comfortable.

In my first French class, a cute blue-eyed brunette caught my eye. Now 18 years later, she is my wife, my best friend and mother of my beautiful daughter.

I love to look back and find the decisions that brought me to where I am in my life. I love to dig back in my own thoughts and find the point where my life took the turn that made life what it is for me now.

Cycling has improved my health, my spirit, and my relationships. It is an integral part of my life and will always have a place in my heart. Most importantly, it has given me my best friend!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Back In The Saddle

Well, I'm back on the bike finally. Was just short of 6 weeks ago that I broke my wrist (right), collarbone (left) and dislocated my shoulder (left).

In total, the left shoulder is fine. I feel the collarbone on occasion, and cannot lift anything heavy, but overall, its getting better. I guess I just have a new barometer!

Right wrist has been the problem. Pain from the break, as well as stiffness from it being immobilized. I definitely have less mobility with the joint now, so I guess the question is how much will I get back over time.

I think I'm going to wrap my bars with some seriously thick bar tape as well as putting a gel base under it. That should help with the wrist.

So what goals do I have for the late summer and fall?

6 Hours of Herb Parsons
Stanky Creek TT and CC
Tour De Cross 4 race cross series
Mud Island Cyclocross champs

Should be a fun time!

Back in the Saddle Again!

Friday, June 18, 2010


I spent today having a very large needle stuck into my shoulder. Injections of contrast dye into the joint capsule are no fun. Then as the radiologist is putting the needle in, he comments "did you know your collarbone is broken?"

Kinda like the punchline to a bad joke.

Broken Wrist
Dislocated Shoulder
Broken Collarbone

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Injuries Stink Continued

So I'm finally home from the doctors office.

The first doctor said that I'd definitely dislocated my left shoulder, but was in pretty good shape other than that. He referred me to an orthopaedic specialist.

The ortho had worse news. I definitely dislocated my left shoulder, but my right wrist is also broken! On top of that, I have to come back in for an MRI on my shoulder to see what I really damaged.

Minimum of 4 weeks off the bike. Can't take a bath (cast can't get wet). Can't pick up my daughter!!!

Injuries really do stink.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Injuries Stink

So, I decide that I've not spent enough time on the road bike as of late. I've had a lot of fun on the MTB and really gotten pretty fast on it. Unfortunately my road riding has suffered and I'm just not as fast as I want on the road right now.

I decided to hit my weekly haunt from the previous summer and do the Bike World ride. The ride really has become a bunch of tri-guys hammering out there, but its still a reasonably fast ride to hit and I have a few friends on it.

As we took off, I felt great and was actually leading for a bit. I soon dropped back as I'd overdone it a bit. I hid mid-pack to catch my breath and hope to have an opportunity to stay with the group. Not much later, I managed to blip the bars a bit and went off roading at 26mph. The rough Mississippi road shoulder gravel threatened to throw me, but I managed to stay upright!!! One victory, but it would be short lived.

The group gathered up at a stop sign and a few friends commented on how my cyclocross skills must have helped me. We took off again and headed for the house at a good clip. We were maintaining around 25mph but the group was getting a bit squirrelly.

Then, in an instant, everything went black. The black I was seeing was the pavement. The rider in front of me hit is brakes or slowed a bit, and I overlapped his wheel. It was my fault for following someone I did not know that closely.

I hit my head hard (helmet on of course) then hit my shoulder and my right hand. My back is covered in road rash and my bike looks like shit.

When I hit the ground, I was avg'ing 20mph for the ride - I guess I was going better than I thought!!!!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jolly Ole England....

My job takes me to some interesting places.....

So this week was Jolly Ole England, particularly the 'Midlands'.

I love this bike rack I found......

13th Century church that was across the street from my hotel.

More of that same beautiful church.

I will get back there sometime soon - I hope.

Friday, May 21, 2010

More Velodrome Madness!!!!!

So today, I got a new job!!!!! This new job is the reason I was in Minnesota. Cool thing is that my new workplace is 4 miles down the road from the National Sports Center Velodrome. I hope this fact gives me some opportunities to get some track time.

To celebrate, I decided to go out and catch 'Thursday Night Lights'.

The racing was really fun to watch. They had everyone from Cat 1's to 5's, and they did a wide variety of the different kinds of races. I really enjoyed watching the 'miss and out's'.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Velodrome Madness!!!!

I found out a while back that I'd be tavelling to MN a fair bit in the coming months.

When I got there, a buddy showed me something I did not even realize was there - A Velodrome!!!!

I made plans immediately to go and give it a try. I scheduled my flight so I could head straight to the 'drome as soon as I landed. Things worked out perfectly, and by 4pm, I was getting basic velodrome training from the track manager.

By the end of the evening, I was ripping around the velodrome on a rented GT track bike. To say it was incredibly fun is a gross understatement.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Syllamo's Revenge Update

Simple update, but it is sure something that made me feel better.

The race had 350 entrants. The field was limited to that size.

I expected that many people would drop out based on the difficulty of the race. In the end, 45% of the entrants dropped out of the race. Basically, I was 1 of 162 people who dropped out of the race.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Syllamo's Revenge 2010

Syllamo's Revenge 2010

Wow.... what can I say? The trail is rated by IMBA as one of the 5 'epic' trails in the US. It definitely lived up to expectations on that scale.

Getting ready for the weekend had been very difficult. The Sunday before the race, the rear triangle on my Sugar began to crack (see previous post). I found it on a pre-race hill climbing adventure with Bill and Adam from the team. Needless to say I freaked out. In the end, I got very lucky and was able to get the bike rideable again.

Moving forward to Friday, Bill and Brad picked me up at the house and we hustled to Syllamo. Brad made a few navigational mistakes and that caused us to take an hour longer to get there than it should have, but I got to see parts of AR that I've not seen in a few years.

When we arrived, Charles and Shawn were already at the cabin, enjoying the stream down below. The cabin belongs to a friend of ours and we rent it for a very agreeable fee. It sits on a hillside overlooking a beautiful rocky creekside bluff. Needless to say, it was a helluva lot nicer than staying in a tent!

After checkin' the place out, we headed out to the trailhead to take on the first 5 miles of the racecourse as a pre-ride. The first climb of the race is extremely tough fire-road riding about a mile long. I rode it but was absolutely dying when I got to the top! We bombed on through the rest of what is effectively the blue trail. Rock garden after rock garden passed and made for extremely slick and technical riding.

At one point, I came up on Billy and Shawn standing in the trail. The were hurling rocks off the trail at something and yelling to stand back. Shawn had ridden up on a 6ft rattlesnake sunning itself on the course!!!!!! Definitely an interesting experience. The rest of the ride was fun but extremely technical and was brutal in the way it pounded us.

When we finished the pre-ride, we headed back to the cabin where I worked on Charles and my bikes and Brad cooked us a killer pasta dinner. That was definitely one of the better pre-race meals I've ever had.

After dinner, heavy weather rolled in and rocked the cabin with rain and heavy winds. Tornado warnings rattled off the staticky radio, but we did not know which county we were actually in, so we were unsure if the tornados were near or far. Regardless of their location, we all ended up sleeping in one room in the hopes that the room was safer than the room above.

We fell asleep listening to the rain and wind, and predicting how scary the course was going to be.
We awoke to sun and warm temps. It was muggy, but I figure that area is always muggy in the mornings during this time of year.

At the park, we started getting everything ready for the race. Numbers on the bikes, food in the pockets and full camelbacks.

Amazingly, after the start gun fired, I made it to the fire road climb in really good position. Unfortunately, I threw most of that away on the climb as people passed me by. I rolled on into the singletrack, but was repeatedly held up on descents as less skill riders made their way down. Basically, I got caught in a pack of people with OK climbing skills and poor descending skills, which is the opposite of myself. I can go downhill quickly, but climb like a homesick rock.

To say the course was technical and tough was/is a gross understatement. Rock gardens came every couple hundred yards and a large number of them were totally unrideable for all but the pros. I walked as much as I rode in many cases. By the time I got to these sections, the rocks were covered with the slime and mud from 200 riders feet and tires and turned them into greasy limestone plates with broken edges just waiting to rip our skin open.....

By mile 12 or so, I was out of water and starting to really drag. So many people had passed me that I really did not know where I was. I heard from one guy who passed me that the sweepers were not far behind me and that really crushed my spirits. Soon enough, I hit the first aid station (which really was wayyyy into the course) and promptly turned onto the green loop. At the top of the green loop, you are given the chance that not many people have had in seeing a wonderful view of the White river and the valley through which it flows.

Unfortunately, when I finished the green, no one was there. The whole aid station had been packed up and there was no food, no water, not even a sign telling you where to go. IMO, that completely sucks. They saw me and 10 others enter the green course and they just pulled out and left!!! I waited there for a while and eventually caught a pick-up truck ride back to the campground. With no water or food, it would have been foolish to continue on and ride.

I'm dissappointed in myself for quitting. It may not have been a bad decision in retrospect, as I know I would have missed the last cutoff by almost an hour. I guess there is just something about DNF'ing a race that gets to me mentally.

Next year, if things work out right, I'll be there again and will do my best to complete the entire course.

DNF'ing aside, I enjoyed the trip. It was good to get out with the team and shoot the bull.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Broken Sugar

Well, its the week before Syllamo, and my bike is broken.... seriously broken. I cracked my rear triangle and have a real mess on my hands....

Thankfully, I called around and by a stroke of luck, my buddy Aaron at Outdoors has a rear triangle for my bike........

After bringing it home, it fits perfectly and everything works like it should. I'm back on the horse.......

Monday, March 29, 2010

Stealth Bike

Had a good looking bike in my shop this evening. A Cervelo Soloist in anodized black. Whole thing is either anodized alu black or 3k carbon.

This black beauty belongs to my buddy JR. He's a top level amateur triathlete in my area, and a good friend.

So this evening I took some time to trim the steerer down. I also trued up his wheels and adjusted the brakes........ Last year, I installed some KCNC brakes, a KCNC cassette and the Neuvation tubular carbon wheels. A very nice setup.

Anyway, I think its a good lookin ride.....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Double Competition Day....

I started racing in 1991. First on mountainbikes, then on the road, and finally cyclocross as well. I even did some duathlons back then, but usually I stuck to the riding portion and let someone else cover the run. When it really comes down to it, I hate running.

I understand why people enjoy it. They get the same feeling from it that a cyclist gets from riding his or her bike. However, I don't personally get that feeling when running - really I usually only feel pain.

So this weekend, I did two events, and amazingly they both include both running and cycling - The 2010 Wolfman Duathlon and the Tour De Cross #4.

For the Wolfman, my goal was to beat my run time from last year. While I really did poorly in the event, I did manage to beat last year's run time of 36 mins. I'm guessing I ran it in approx 31 mins. I really enjoyed the finish, as the entire team ran on to the course to finish with me. Very cool.

I was really proud of the team as we won approx 25% of the hardware - 3 category wins and one 2nd place for the mixed pair trophy.

After going home, getting some lunch and some dry clothes, I headed to Olive Branch for the last race of the Tour De Cross Cyclocross series.

I was tired when I got there, but I really did not realize how tired I was. Spectators told me that both myself and Billy W. (the other guy who did both events) went from blazing fast at the start to an absolute crawl at the first barrier. I finished the race and only managed to go over the bars one time.......

The series was really enjoyable! I hope more people come out to race it in the future editions. My dismount and remount skills increased substantially. My fitness increased somewhat. Mostly I had a good time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tour De Cross Race #3 - Real Cross Weather!

The Tour De Cross #3 Cyclocross race was today. This race series has been at an unusual time of the year for cyclocross, and as a result, we've had some unusual cyclocross weather.......

First race was warm and dry. Warm might not go far enough.... Rarely have I had sweat pour from my brain bucket after a cross race, but at that one, I did......

Second race was relatively warm, and only a little muddy. Kinda like an early season race.

Third race was real cyclocross racing..... We took the start line with the rain having just stopped. The temperature was a whopping 40 degrees..... and the course was an absolute swamp!
This really seemed more like a classic cyclocross race. Corners were sketchy, water standing all over the place. On the first lap (right after this picture was taken), I managed to take that little near 180 turn and lay it down. The following roll in the mud, or maybe it was a slide, really took the piss out of me. At that point, I realized quickly I'd take nothing but DFL, so I backed it down one notch and simply finished the race.

Is there anything wrong with that? Yeah, I did not kill myself out there. But then again, there were 5 people in the race, and I was in fifth. Maybe that really was not the way 'cross should be ridden, but today I guess I did not have much more than that in me.

I started the race without any 'cross in my tank, and very little cyclo. By the end, I was empty on both counts.

Next week is going to be a real tough one - a duathlon in the morning and a 'cross race in the afternoon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tour De Cross Race # 2

What amazes me more about European cyclocross races is not that they race in the conditions they race, it is that the fans come out in those conditions. Frankly, 'cross is about mud and cold for the riders. But the fans standing in the mud and the cold still blows me away.

Today, we took on the wet and the rain and the mud in the Tour De Cross race #2. Brian the organizer had re-organized the course to be even more interesting than last time. Lap times during the first race were in the 3 minute range, whereas the laps in this race were in the 5 minute range to start, and came down to the 4 minute range by the end.

For me, I found that I'm really starting to get my mounts/dismounts down. I'm no Nys or Stybar, but I definitely have improved my technique significantly. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about my fitness.... I'm still an overweight backmarker.....

Again, this race was really a lot of fun. I stink at cross, but I love it all the same.

I'm looking forward to next week's race!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tour De Cross Race #1

Well, I missed most of the 09-10 cyclocross season...... All my intents and preparations (which were not really that much) were swept away last fall as I headed to work overseas for a long work trip. My hope was/is that the trip would be good for my career. That remains to be seen, but I know I benefitted from it.....

Back to cyclocross, I really wanted to get in a few races this season. The truth is that I'm a pretty bad cyclocross racer. While I was a 'cross a holic way before it was something popular in the US, I'm still an overweight, undertrained rider.

While I felt like my mounts/dismounts were finally starting to come around at the Mid-South championships, I still took nearly DFL.....

Fast forward to today, and I finally got to get out and race some 'cross. A good guy named Brian is putting on a full 4 race series this spring and the first race was a lot of fun. Five riders made up the entire field, but the course was certainly challenging, if a little unusual.

The course itself was 1/2 mile long and involved countless 180's, and eleven barriers --- ELEVEN Barriers!!!!!!

I got a killer start and beat everyone pretty strongly out of the gate, but that was extremely short lived.... I continued on and dismounted for every barrier. Soon thereafter, someone knocked the cross-tie barriers 90 degrees over, which made them just low enough to hop instead of dismount. OK, it made four of the eleven hoppable.

With hopping the barriers, I began to pull away again a little from my buddy Matt who was about to lap me on his first ever bike race - Someone please remind me to get my less in-shape friends involved in cycling instead of the thin muscled friends with 40 bpm resting heart rates.

In the end, I put on 16 or so laps and had a lot of fun. I took 4th place and lapped the 5th place rider 3 times.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wet Weather Preparation

Well, winter is in full swing, so cold is the norm, and wet is the flavor.

As I ride more and more, my plan is to hit the trails as often as possible. With Syllamo just 2 months away, there is no way around it.

However, the reality is that spring is the time of rain. Something has to thaw the ground and convince the lillies to pop. Unfortunately, my conscience is too powerful to allow me to tear up my favorite trails after every ride. I just can't do that and sleep well at night.

Because of that, my mind turns to the road. I still want to spend time spinning over the legs. But when the trails are wet, generally the road is too. I can handle the typical sketchy corner with aplomb, but no one likes a wet backside, or a brown stripe up their back. We look stupid enough out in the cold in skin tight clothing, (Ok, I look stupid in skin tight clothing in any weather).

We only need to look to the Brits to understand how to handle this situation appropriately. In a country where rain is as central to life as tea, they know how to deal with wetness. After a little research, I turned up absolutely no US vendors for the fenders I wanted, so I surfed across the pond and picked them up from a shop in the UK.

Mounted them up this evening, and I'm pretty impressed with them. Innovative design, lightweight, and very quick and easy to mount on the bike.

Maybe this weekend, I'll find out how well they work.......

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Modernization Of The Fleet

I began riding in 1991. At that time, top mount shifters were de rigeur, and I ran Suntour on my bike. My frame was lugged steel, and suspension forks were still something the downhill racers rode.

My roadbike was lugged steel, with indestructible box section rims in the wheels. I had downtube shifters to ease the effort on hills, and a 7sp cassette provided all the ratios I thought I could ever need!

For clothing, I regularly rode in cut off bluejeans, and t-shirts stolen from my father' closet covered my back the best. My helmet looked mostly like a glorified beer cooler, and my gloves were mesh backed workout gloves that I used in the weight room in the highschool football stadium.

Those were the days.

Fast forward almost 20 years later.

I'm now riding a plastic fantastic 15lbs road bike. With full Dura-Ace, light wheels and an incredibly light weight, this thing is truly fantastic!

I've even updated my cross bike (still lugged steel) to have a carbon fork, ultra lightweight wheels and Dura Ace brifters. It sure makes it easier to shoulder over the barriers.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, my mountainbike was just not cutting the mustard. The bumpy parts of courses left me behind. Over and over again, I'd pull up to my riding buddy's back wheel only to be shucked off again like so much refuse.

Enter the Sugar 1 from my earlier posts. I finally pushed myself to purchase a modern (Ok, semi modern) full suspension bike. Now I get on their wheel and stay there. Actually, I'm finding myself nearly crashing into their rear triangle on every turn.

One of the few things left to update was my fork. The Manitou FS I was running is not at all a bad fork, however it is old tech and performs somewhat poorly. It was also heavy. While feathery by 1990's tech, it is rather tank-like these days.

I decided to get myself a Rockshox Sid. The first one I got was the generous hand-me-down of a riding friend. Unfortunately, it was just plain worn out. Stantions were worn through, damping blown and seals all bad to the point it would not hold air. None of that changes the generosity of my buddy Chris.

A week later, I managed to get my hands on a 2007 Race model. All I can say is wow!!!!! Everything works extremely well, and it performs admirably. Now the wheel tracks the ground like a cat tracking a mouse. Its truly light as well, having taken over half a pound off my bike!

So goes the modernization of my fleet. It now runs in a fashion that allows me to keep up with my friends. Parts are only a phone call away, and I could actually get it serviced at my local shop in the event that I could not handle it myself. (Not likely to happen).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Memphis Weather SUCKS!!!!

There is no way around it.... Memphis weather just plain sucks!

As was noted on the MSTA forum, this is absolutely the worst winter for riding in a very long time. The trails are completely saturated, to the point that riding them is near impossible. Its also a bad idea from a trail maintenance staindpoint.

To make matters worse, its too cold to ride the road as well. I have warm clothes, but they don't nearly do the job when the temp is below 35f. I guess the windchill is just too much to deal with....

Without an opportunity to ride, I've managed to wax all my bikes, tune every one of them up, and make some good upgrades to them. Hopefully I'll actually get to enjoy them at some point.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow/Ice Days!!! Cyclocross Worlds

Well, I'm frozen in here...... I would normally say that sucks, but really its been pretty fun. I'd normally be out on the trails or the road, but this weekend, I spent the day watching cyclocross videos and checking the results from the worlds in the Czech Republic.

Looks like Stybar put in a killer ride and kicked some but. The Belgians have been dethroned and the results are in. Stybar in Gold. Looks like the Belgians were dethroned in the other classes as well, like the U23 race where the Poles kicked some butt.

Dissappointing however were the results from the red white and blue. Johnson, page, et al just did not have what it took to pull it off. Huge dissappointment also from the Compton camp. Leg cramps are tough, but I think I'd be at the Dr's office finding out exactly what the heck was wrong with me if it took me out of contention as it did here.

Back to the frozen in part, I'm aching to get out on the road or the trail again. While stuck here, I managed to get all my bikes waxed and cleaned and tuned...... Nothing else to do, so I might as well make sure everything is perfectly tuned and clean. Yee-haw.

Well, with a little luck, we'll have some drying this week and I can get out and ride next weekend!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Better picture of the new bike!!!!!

This past weekend, I got a chance to get out and turn the gears on the new ride. Boy is she SWEET!!!!!!

I'm happy as can be with this thing right now. One ride and she was/is already much faster than my previous. The handling is much different, and the traction is phenomonal!

Finished as she sits right now, she's just at 25lbs. A new seatpost next week will make her down to sub 25.

I really cannot wait to race her now.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Bike.... First Full Suspension, and A New Goal......

Well, lets start with the goal.....

Every year, all my friends head to Arkansas' Syllamo Trails for Syllamo's Revenge. It is a 50 mile cross country mountain bike race. It turns into a real all day effort for everyone.

Last year, I had planned to race the late season (fall) races, but work got in the way and I was unable to participate. So this year, I decided to try some earlier races.... Syllamo is one of the first I could hit, so I thought why not. Then at the last minute, sanity took hold and I backed out.

The following morning, I decided to see if registration was still open. Registration for this race is very limited, and it sells out quickly. I checked the registration the morning after it started and sure enough, I got in........ Ohhhhh boy......

Then reality set in. Yes, I used to be a pretty fast racer. Yes, I used to do well. Unfortunately, that was many years and many pounds ago. I'm a lot bigger, a lot older and a lot slower. However, the entry fee is now paid, and I have a cabin already with a bunch of fellow racers, so there is no backing out now.

That evening, I went for a night ride with my team, and we were really flying. I was handling the trail really well and was pretty proud of myself. However, I noticed that when we got the bumpy stuff, I was not able to keep up. I was getting banged around and they were floating through the stuff (stuff that I used to handle extremely well).

I looked at the difference between all of us and quickly noticed that everyone else was either on a 29'er, or a full suspension bike. My mind immediately started jumping and thinking of all of the videos I'd seen of the Syllamo trail and of my past experiences racing in Arkansas, and I quickly realized that Syllamo was gonna beat me senseless on my old hardtail bike.

Digging in my mental memory banks I started thinking of the good full-sussers that were around when I was a bike shop geek and building and tuning bikes for folks. The Gary Fisher Sugar 1 came to mind really quickly.

Amazingly enough, within a week or so, an OK lookin Sugar 1 popped up on ebay for sale. I figured I'd never get it, but why not try. The bidding ended, and I was the owner of the frame (which included fork, seatpost, headset and stem)

As I waited for the bike to arrive, I was getting worried. I have the worse cases of buyer's remorse of anyone I know. I began looking at the size and wondering if it would fit me. I wondered if it would be worn out.

All my worries were for naught. The bike arrived today and after a couple hours with a polishing rag, it looked pretty doggone sweet! The wife was not home, so I decided to start building it and decided to just take it as far as I could during the evening. Amazingly enough, I was done in about 1 1/2 hours!!!!

In all, she went together very smoothly and it looks great. Everything works well, and it feels good riding in the street. I still need to learn to tune the suspension, but I'll figure that out quickly. The rear derailleur hanger is bent, but a replacement is not too expensive.

All in all, I'm pretty happy. : ) (Please excuse the crappy picture....)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Riding light update.

Last fall, I resurrected an old lightset given to me by a fellow rider. Details on the set are in the post below.

After my first rides, I was a little worried that I'd under-specc'ed the battery for the setup. When I would get to the end of a ride, the handlebar light (10w, 3000mah) would go out before we hit the parking lot..... The helmet light never wavered.

Good news however is that on the most recent rides, I finished with pretty good numbers going back into the batteries, and both lights still bright at the end. The helmet light only burnt 64% of its capacity, and the handlebar light 86%. That is pretty usable capacity for the rides we normally do (around 2 hours). Unfortunately, that setup would not get me through a 12 hour race, but then again, that's not what I was expecting or planning for.

I'm glad I built the lights, as they've been really fun and definitely expanded my riding opportunities during the cold winter months with less sunlight!