Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thankful for a "no-chain" ride today

Wow, I had a "no-chain" ride today. They don't happen very often, but when they do it's just like magic. Everything just clicks, your bike feels great, and your legs are turning those pedals like there is "no chain". The ride only lasted 2 hours, but I felt like I could just go all day long. Not sure what it was.....

  • Maybe it was the great sunny crisp fall day.
  • Maybe it was riding my road bike on the road and not a trainer for the 1st time in 3 months.
  • Maybe it was that the Beavers won a great football game last night by determination and not giving up in the last minutes when all looked doom and gloom.
  • Maybe it was not having knobby cross tires under me.
  • Maybe it was the 1st day my legs didn't ache walking up the stairs after my 1st "house of pain" strength class last week.
  • Maybe it was not being in a race.
  • Maybe it was my first road ride on my bike since a bike fit by Russell C. It felt like a rocket ship in the corners (he dropped my handlebars 8mm).
  • Maybe it was my new road shoes feeling good and not getting cold toes.
  • Maybe it was my PV kit - they are know to provide superhuman strength at times.
  • Maybe it was riding some roads in my old stompin' grounds I haven't ridden for 6 months.

Maybe it was all of these, some of these, or just one. It doesn't really matter. The key was that I realized a "no-chain" day was happening and I just enjoyed the ride.

Have a great Turkey Day and remember there are always many things to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Crusade Finale

The final race of the Cross Crusade was at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro. I'm guessing these fairground are just dying for some money, so they turn out to be easy venues for the organizers to setup. It was a "double points" race since it was the last one. I knew I had to do well and get some points this race since I was just out of the points the last 2 races.

I was expecting a flat power course since it was at the fairgrounds and that's what it was. The biggest elevation gain was the bark dust pile they had us ride over in front of the team tent. There was gravel roads, lots of bumpy grass, 1 barn, 1 set of six-pack barriers, and a rodeo pen. The rodeo pen was the highlight since it was full of mud and water. I ran it 3/4 way all the laps, just like everyone else. Luckily, it wasn't the 1/4 mile run that we did the other week at PIR.

I started in the 2nd row of the call up - an excellent spot. It was the same crew at the front of the line. It's fun getting to know these guys, chatting at the lineup, and racing them each week. We're in masters crowd, so all are 35+ probably have a real job, kids, etc. - just like me. Everyone is friendly and out to have a safe and good time racing hard. We're "weekend warriors" that train all week long for this stuff.

I was sitting nicely in the top 5 on the paceline the first part of the lap. I knew I had to "suck some wheel" and just hang in. I was feeling great. However, disaster struck at the first round of the barriers - I caught my foot and fell. Luckily, it was on grass and no pain so I got up and actually recovered really well. We had a good gap so maybe 1 guy passed me. I rode hard to catch up to the paceline and did it.

The 1st round on the rodeo pen was challenging. Rode about 1/4 way and then started running. I know the running is my weakness - I really can't train it much due to my knees. So, my plan was small quick steps and don't pass - just maintain. I did alright. Luckily it was just around the pen and not very far.

The second lap I was hanging with the top 5 crew. However, disaster showed up again after the rodeo pen. I remounted my bike and no chain - must have drop in the pen. Took me way too long to get it back on - a few guys passed me.

Third lap I was needing some recovery so I jumped on the wheel of a guy that passed me. I figured I was sitting in the top 15 at that point. I got some good rest, but probably alittle too much. We weren't making fast enough progress on the guys ahead of us. Third time in the pen and I heard/saw Denise and Luke and they gave me some needed inspiration. I felt good coming out of the pen since I didn't push it too hard running. It was 1 lap to go and it was time to lay down some hammer.

I was in the big ring (cross chaining 48x25) most of the race and it got me over the bumpy section well. I took 1 or 2 guys in that section. I think I got 2 other guys on the final lap. I finished hard as I could running in the pen 1 last time. My goal was to not let anyone pass me in there - goal accomplished.

I missed 10th place by 2 seconds and finished 11th with points. I guess I rested alittle too much that third lap.

Great photos at PDXCROSS. Yes, I'm in #10.

The Crusade is now over. I'm tired, so I'm glad I really don't have to race anymore. I'll probably do the USGP on 12/5-12/6 when the big pros are in town. But, it will be just for fun.

I'm very happy with the progress I made this year. Last year I was 40-60th place and this year I was competing for the top 10. My entire reason for starting road racing this year was to get better fitness for cross season. Well, I'd say it worked.

Road racing is fun, but there is no comparison to cross racing. Cross racing is an amazing scene in PDX. It is popular, fun, addictive, a great social scene after the race. You don't find that in any other bike racing. Yes, it can be a "zoo" out there, but as long as you remember it's for fun - you're going to have a great time and get a good workout also.

Next year, I plan to move up a category to the Master B. These are typically cat 3 road racers and much faster guys. They just started posting times the last few races. My times would put me in the 30-40 range. So, I know I'll need to work hard next road season. Cross is my motivation.

Keep the rubber side down.............

Monday, November 03, 2008

Barton Park EATS You Up

Well, Sunday was the 1st "official" cross race of the season since mother nature finally bestowed conditions worthy of a cross race. Wow, talk about a change to the racing.

I started the day with a pre-ride of the course prior to any racing starting. It had rained the evening before and there was standing water and the dirt sections were soft mud. The course is at Barton Park / gravel quarry next door. There is quite a bit of gravel roads, pavement in the park, single track, and the "pit". The "pit" is inside of the gravel pit and consists of gravel roads, 2 substantial run-ups, 1 straight steep ride down, and 1 off-camber squirrly ride down.

Well, I started at the front of the line today (with about 140 riders behind me - the largest field yet for Master C group). I "lit up" fast and led the group most of the 1st lap. I eased up after the road section since everyone was sucking my wheel and I "broke wind" for the top ten group.

The course was considerably different when we rode after ~300 racers in the previous 2 races. The mud was wetter/slicker and more exciting. A fellow fell right in front of me in the tight tree section. I couldn't avoid him and went down. Took me too long to get up and regroup. I probably lost about 15 spots. My brain wasn't quite in the race after that. I found myself hesitant and lost my "mojo". The rest of the race was "get this thing done" and keep safe.

A couple key lessons learned this race....

1) Don't lead the pack too early. It would make much more sense to pick the top 3 riders and stick with them at all costs. Let them "break the wind" since they are the top dogs. The key to these races is "hanging on" the 1st lap and then being strong the final laps. The race strings out after that 1st lap.

2) To have a top 5 finish, you need to avoid bad luck. However, that's not going to happen every race (especially in slippery conditions). That's OK. The key is to RECOVER from that set-back and get your mind back into the race as quickly as possible. I failed to do that on Sunday. My fitness wasn't the issue - my head was the problem.

Live and learn for next time.

The course got more slippery as the day continued. Looking at OBRA emails, there were 3 broken/separated shoulders and 1 guy got plastic surgery from that off camber descent. The descents on this course are always tricky. The key is to play in safe as possible in these "high risk" areas. Speedy recovery to those fallen racers.

Check out these great photos at pdxcross

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Astoria Halloween Cross Weekend

It was a 2 day race weekend at the coast in Astoria Oregon. The course was setup at the county fairgrounds. A nice venue with camping, showers, and brewpubs nearby.

Saturday Race

I left early Saturday morning to get in a couple pre-ride laps before the first race. The course seemed to suit me. Not too technical with a couple bumpy hill climbs on the dirt. My warm up was interesting since I got a flat on the 2nd preride lap. No big deal since I had plenty of time, so I threw in a tube. However, I noticed I lost air before getting on the trainer, so one more tube and hope for the best.

A modification was made to the course prior to the race before mine. They added 1 barrier in the middle of one of the hills to force a dismount. Turns out that was a well chosen location. It was the toughest part of the course. Since it was on a hill, you had no momentum on the dismount and getting back on and starting was tough. I was "crawling" over that barrier by the final laps.

Overall, I had a good race. I was "called up" in the first part of the line up since I scored some series points in the previous race in Rainer. I was in the second row. I had a good start and was in the top 10 the entire time. No mechanicals or flats, so I guess the 2 before the race cleared out my bad luck.

I passed a fellow on the last section of the final lap. However, he sneeked up behind me and passed me prior to the short downhill corner prior to the finish. I hestitated passing on the corner since I didn't want to slide out. He beat me at the line. That was a bummer since my goal for the race was "top 5" and I ended up 6th. We exchanged congrats and good race battle stories after the race, so I knew I'd be after him on Sunday.

Sunday Race - Halloween Race

Saturday evening was lots of fun - nice dinner, brew pub drinks, crashed Halloween party, and campfire back at the course with the team-mates. There were a few provided kegs, so it was tough to remember that another race was on Sunday. I drank a bunch of water in the tent prior to crashing in hopes that the hangover wouldn't be too severe.

My primary goal on Sunday was not to hurl in front of the team tent. I still had that weekend goal of a top 5, but I really wasn't focusing on it since I didn't feel "on my game". The preride lap showed that the course was much easier. They switched the directions and removed the hill with the 1 barrier. I was so happy that was gone - it really messed up my back - turns out everyone hated that barrier.

My costume was the "Beaver Dam Cam" since I wore the Beaver jersey, helmet cam, and knee high orange/black socks. I still got some heckling so I probably need to step that up next year.

My start wasn't too great. I was probably in the 12-15 range after the 1st lap. I started feeling better after a few laps and starting "picking off" some riders. Riding by the team tent was inspiring with all the cowbell and cheering. I loved passing folks in that section.

After one such pass, a dude with no costume decided to attempt to pass me in a corner alittle further down the course. I held my line and pushed him off the course (he was the guy trying to pass on the inside of a corner). I was saying things like "hey, sorry, take it easy". He rolled off the course and passed me later with some stupid comment. One of those comments that wanted to make me punch him in the nose in the heat of battle. However, I collected my thoughts and knew a hill, six pack barrier, and another bumpy hill was coming. It became my mission to "bury this guy".

Well, lesson learned..... contain your reaction in a race and let your legs "do the talking". I passed him and 3 other guys after that incident. I finished 5th (the other guy was 10th). Weekend goal accomplished with my best Crusade finish yet.

Here's a photo slideshow of me and folks I race with.....

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Tale of Two Races

This weekend I did the double in preparation for next weekend in Astoria. Need to see if I could survive and recover a race on Saturday and one on Sunday. Well, I think I did reasonable.

Psycho Cross

Saturday I went down to Eugene for the Psycho Cross since I was in Corvallis visiting my parents with Luke. This is a "low key" event in contrast to the mob scene that happens at the Crusade. There was only 1 person in the Master C category last race, so I decided to sign up for the C category for a "bigger" field - there turned out to be 10 of us.

Fun course with a mix of singletrack, gravel roads, sandy run up, and farm fields. There was a 5" metal barrier before the start/finish line. The intent is to bunny hop it to clear it. I caught my back tire on a preride lap and flat. 20 minutes prior to the race. Put a tube in the tubeless tires since the tire was torn. Disaster overcome.

Well, the single track slowed me down as normal since my technical riding skills have been lacking this year (didn't do any mountain biking this summer). So, I'd make good progress on the flats and get caught in the single track. Probably didn't help that I dropped a chain, crashed once, and got stung by a bee in that section. Oh well, that's the fun of cross. I had a fun "battle" with Devin as we did the "slinky" the entire race (he was much faster in the technical sections and I'd make progress on the non-technical sections) - just got him at the end. I ended up 5th place in the C class.

Cross Crusade

I did a bunch of driving on Sunday since we were staying in Corvallis and the race was in Rainer Oregon. I raced it last year and knew it was my kind of course since it wasn't very technical. Got there early to do a few laps and didn't see any big surprises. There are some long power sections, a fast downhill, some wide trails in the woods, a big uphill gravel road to the finish. Plenty of spots to pass other riders.

The big change this week was the line up process. It's been crazy the last couple races. People were lining up 40 minutes early since there are 150 racers and everyone wants a good spot. The Crusaders came up with a good plan for call-ups. Guys with series points first, then call up by th e last digit of your bib number (randomly selected for the day). The guys that are last call up all get a free six pack (how cool is that).

I was the 5th group to get called up, so about mid pack and ~50 riders ahead of me. My goal of the race was to 1) not fall more than 5 times, 2) finish top 18 to get some series points. I probably passed 30 people the first lap and picked off a few more as we went.

Good news - I didn't crash at all. I finished 11th place.

Good photos from the race at: pdxcross

This photo is from early in the race and I look fast.....

This photo is from the last lap or so. I doing my best to lift my legs over the barriers and not trip for a yard sale in front of the crowd......

Looking forward to next weekend. Halloween race weekend in Astoria Oregon. We'll be jumping coffins for obstacles and wearing costumes on Sunday. Should be lots of fun.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cross Crusade - Alpenrose 10/5/08

OK, this was my first cross race of the year. I got out on Saturday for a preride of the course - it was similar to last year, so that felt good. Check out my first footage with a helmet cam I picked up at Interbike (alittle rough when I exported to web format, so let me know if you have suggestions).....

This morning started out alittle rough with a dead battery in the car. Luckily, I was able to call a team-mate that lives nearby to my rescue. Got to the course and it was obvious the rain the night before and 300 riders had made the course much slicker than my pre-ride. Thought about doing a lap between the races, but it was too packed to fit that in (note for the next race - get there earlier). I did alittle riding in the grass next to the baseball field. I was alittle concerned about the cleat setup on the new shoes. Shoes felt great, but I was having a tough time clipping in (sign of things to come). The PV team had a tent setup so I got a good warm-up on the trainer. Felt good.

About 25 minutes prior to the race I started to hang out by the start line. Sure enough, a couple guys loitering by the start got the line-up going. I got in the second row. So, we hung out for 30 minutes. I was planning to wear the helmet cam, but alas the battery was dead (maybe the colder weather or maybe I left it on) - ditched it to a team-mate that was grabbing jackets.

Great start. I powered on the pavement to bump up to 5th place. Hauled but down the hill and into the trees. I caught a couple guys on the uphill. Feeling pretty darn good as I passed the team tent in 3rd place. Made it up the run-up into the Velodrome. Had a tough time clipping back in (problem all day long). Made it over the barriers and slowed down for the corner onto the Velodrome concrete - put on alittle power and that's where I got my "Velodrome Tattoo". I went from 3rd place to 10th pretty quickly. Nice.......

I basically ate mud about 8 times during the day. I kept recalling a discussion with a team-mate last week "gee, I'm not sure if these Kenda Kwicks are made for mud, maybe I should get some Michellin Mud2s that the pro in the clinic recommended , and he says "do it BEFORE Sunday". I called around and found the best deal on the other side of town instead of the shop down the street. I didn't make it over there. I'm going there TOMORROW - $20 extra - my aching backside doesn't care how much they are!!!!

Well, I proved to myself again something I already know about cross..... go slow in the corners to stay upright and apply power on the straighter sections. I got that point "beat into me" today.

Even with that, I had a big smile on my face and mud in my eye.

Cross Season is HERE - YOU GOT TO LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!

Great photos of the race at pdxcross

BTW, looks like I finished 20th out of 150 rides in the 35+ category. There were 1267 riders today - another cross race participation record for the USA. Got to love PDX.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Interbike 2008

I got an opportunity to attend Interbike this year thanks to my cousin. Interbike in the bike industry trade show that is the biggest in the world. First 2 days are an outdoor demo at Bootleg Canyon west of Vegas. The next 3 days are the show at the Sands Convention Hall on the Vegas strip.

We arrived at the demo day at 830am just before they opened. We were the first guys on a couple bikes on the mountain bike course. WOW, is all I can say. There were probably a couple hundred booths and most of them had the "top-of-the-line" bikes to demo. You name the company, they were probably there. I figure I tried about ~$100,000 worth of bikes those 2 days.

Bootleg canyon is known for it's great mountain biking. The desert trails were great. They even had a shuttle truck to the very top of the hill. I rode mostly 29ers since I've never tried one and I've heard great things about their handling. Started with some hardtails (thinking I'd use one in the future for racing), but I talked myself out of that and went back to the full suspension. Very nice rides.

I actually spent most of my time riding road bikes. I'm in the market for one in 2009 and my mountain bike skills were lacking since I don't get a chance to ride mine in PDX that much. They had a 1.5 mile road loop to try them out. These were the high dollar bikes - awesome bikes that I couldn't afford. Even if I could, I probably wouldn't buy one since I'd just cry if I damaged it.

Wednesday was the first day at the show in the convention center. It was my only day since I had to fly back on Thursday for the OSU-USC game (glad I did that - what a game). The show was very overwhelming. ~1300 total booths. We did alot of browsing for free goodies and cool things for sale. Some booths will sell things, but not many. My great purchase was a pair of Shimano custom fit road shoes and mountain bike shoes - had to get both since the price was fanatasic.

Wednesday night was Cross Vegas. It was rumored that Mr Lance Armstrong was going to show up. I was alittle skeptical when I saw an email that he was in New York for a press conference that morning. But sure enough, Mr Jet-Setter was there. What a great venue to see him since he passes you about 30 times on zig-zap 2 mile loop for 60 minutes. He did well, but of course couldn't beat all the top guys that train for this specific event. Ryan Trebon from Bend OR won. I got to talk to him a few weeks ago when I registered him for a cross race that my team put on in PDX. There were 3 guys with Oregon roots that finished well.

I talked to a few guys that regularly attend the show since they are in the industry, and of course if you go every year it becomes "work". However, for a first timer - WOW, what an amazing experience - like a kid in a candy shop.

The following slide show shows most of the bikes I rode, a photo of Christian Vande Velde (5th place in Tour de France) and me, and Lance at CrossVegas.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Last night I got an email about the series standings. I was sitting in 2nd place. 11 points behind 1st place and 1 point ahead of a team-mate. I knew my team-mate wasn't racing, so I knew it was me and Mr Guinness (that's his team). I also knew he raced yesterday at a race my team put on - I was in charge of registration so I signed him in. He took 7th place in the Master B group (category up from what we were racing today).

I made one critical change today - went back to 30psi in the tires (1st race the same - 2nd race ran 37psi - too bumpy). Got there early and I did a couple practice laps in between races. Hit the corners hard and bike felt great. I can't believe ~5psi makes such a difference. Lesson learned.

Weather was alittle cooler than last week - mid 80s. Got in some warm up on the road and pulled up to the start line next to Mr Guinness. Had a good chat with him. He got back into racing this year and he's moving up through the categories. These were the first dirt races of the year, so he sign up for C - makes sense.

Horn blows - I'm in the top five through the bumpy, grassy turns that lead into the gravel road. Mr Guinness is at the front - he's got legs the size of my torso, so good sprint guy (decent results at PIR). I hit the juice to get up on his wheel. I lose him half way on the lap in the corners. He was going like strong bull and I realize I'm pulling about 5 guys and starting to blow my legs.

I decide to ride my own race and within my limits - critical thing was to stay in the top 10 and top 5 would be awesome. About 4 of us are kinda working together but not very well. I pull ahead with a couple guys and we get a gap and we have Guinness man in our sight. I started trying to motivate the others because that would be the only way to catch him now (had about 30 seconds I'd guess). The working together wasn't happening and I didn't want to pull these guys around and have them blow by me.

We started catching quite a few B riders (they started ~40 seconds ahead of us). I knew there were only 2 others C guys with me. On the last lap, one guy pulled alittle ahead of me after I buried myself and he did some wheel-sucking. I hammered as hard as possible and no one passed me after that.

Finished 3 place. Probably around 30 to 40 seconds behind Mr Guinness. He finished 1st in the series and he's upgrading to B now. I finished 2nd in the series for my category and got some cool hardware to take home.

BTW, the definition of a Kermesse is defined here .

Based on the series, I believe my fitness level is ready to compete decently in Master C cross this year. I was finishing in the 30-40 place range last year. That was my top reasons for starting to road race this year. Looks like it should be a good season. Looking forward to it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Krugers Kermesse #2

My mom and Luke came out to enjoy the race day. It was a beautiful sunny day, but alittle on the warm side. We started the day with Luke completing a lap on the kiddy race. He said, "wow that sure was bumpy and I'm really hot". I think that was a sign of things to come.

Heard an announcement that they stopped the race before me. I guess a fellow went down pretty hard in the C race. I ran into the promoter at the registration tent after the dust settled. Sounds like someone was pushing things and possibly people alittle hard in the beginning of the race.

Our race started about 15 minutes late and was going to be shorter - only 6 laps. The master Bs pushed off and we started about a minute later. The course was in the opposite direction this week, so the "hole shot" was completely different. The "hole shot" is the sprint in the beginning to get in the lead group. This is absolutely critical in a cross or mountain bike race in order to avoid the others in the bottleneck sections. I found myself in the top 5 but I decided to hold back alittle this week. Not sure if that was the correct decision. I found myself behind a couple guys and watched the guy that was 3rd last week get up in the front.

Well, I didn't feel as confident on the corners. Especially in the first lap. I prerode the course and there was one left corner that was really nasty. It was nasty for everyone, but it just threw me off. I was riding with my tire pressure about 5 psi higher this week. Decided to do that after talking to everyone that was running higher pressure. I think that was a mistake.

Another teammate (he got 6th last week) pulled up with me on the second lap and he said "let's go". Well, that's when I discovered that the legs didn't really have the same mojo as last week (he finished in second place -he's on the right in the photo - I should have held his wheel !!!).

Seemed like about 7 or 8 folks were ahead of me. By the third lap, you're in you're own little race. By this time you're racing the guys around you.

On the 4th or 5th lap I caught up with a master B rider that seemed pretty strong - I held onto his wheel on the straight gravel section since I needed a break. We exchanged pulls and were making some headway. It was a good 2 man effort. You know this when the conversation at the pull exchanges are "good work" - "same" - the talk is short since you're suffering. We caught the C rider in front of us and he started "sucking our wheel" and wouldn't do any pulling. I pulled away from the B rider on the last lap and that wheel sucker was still on me. He dropped me since he had been enjoying the break for the last lap or so.

I went as hard as I could that last lap. Mostly to hold off anyone behind me. No one passed me and I think I made some progress on the guys ahead of me. I crossed the line and went straight for the chair. I was spinning like a top when I stood up. Probably overheated the radiator and got a touch of heat exhaustion (did I mention it was about 90F).

Results weren't available until the next day. 8th place - a top ten finish - I'll take it.

Can't believe I'm going to say this, but....... I can't wait until cooler weather and alittle rain.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Krugers - 8/24/08

Wow, my first bike race VICTORY !!!!

I entered the Masters 35+ C category since that was the category I raced last year and never had a top 10 finish. Well, what a difference a year makes.

I got to the start early, so I was able to line up in the front of the line. I knew that the start and the first lap was critical. I found myself in the top three around the 1st corner, so I knew it was time to "bury myself". I knew that if I could create a gap on the first lap or so then I could recover and then get into "git'er done" mode. Well, that's what I did. I was leading the pack the first couple laps.

One fellow caught me on the third lap as I got into recovery mode. I found that being first is a real tough spot mentally. You can look back occasionally, but it's tough to know what pace to hold. So, I let him pass me and followed him for a few laps.

He started to slow down on the 6th/7th lap, so I decided to pass him. In retrospect, probably a poor strategic move. Once again I wasn't positive what pace to hold. So, I just rode my own race. Ride hard enough at a pace you know you can maintain and try to recover alittle.

Well, on the bell lap (last lap), I looked back and didn't see him. It gets confusing on these races about position since I was passing the riders from the other category that started before us. I knew I had to finish strong, so I rode at that point where that blood taste as I coughed was bearable. I hammered hard on the straight stretch prior to the last corner - didn't look back, tried to listen for him - didn't hear anything, so I just hammered with what I had left. Well, turns out he was catching me on that straight stretch, as the crowd got all excited as we went through the final corner. I slowed down enough - since going to fast in a corner can mean big trouble.

Well, I held him off !!!! We had some good laughs after we both got up after collapsing in the field area after the finish.

I was very happy with my new wheels. I ran about 32psi which was much lower than most people I spoke to. They did awesome in the corners and my rear wasn't in total pain.

I was very happy with my mental toughness to continue on. Wow, that is the worst part to keep going when you get that "pukey feeling" or when you cough you taste alittle blood.

The post race victory beer tasted AWESOME.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cyclocross is Coming

I haven't made a post since springtime, but with cyclocross around the corner it's time to blog again. First, a few updates on the spring and summer riding.

This year, I joined the race team of Portland Velo. I've raced mountain bike and cyclocross for a quite a few years, but I figured some road racing would get me in shape for the 2008 cross season. I've done a mixture of road races just to get some experience, figure out what I'm good at, and improve my fitness.

I've learned that I'm too big to be a "climber" and too small to be a "sprinter". That leaves the middle ground of "guy that works for the team". This turns out to be a "strong man" position - spending time at the front means alot of work. My best chance of winning anything is to get in a breakaway with a few guys or if it's short - just by myself. Well, I think that will be good training for cross.

I've done quite a few races at PIR (the car race track in PDX). They have a couple races a week in the evening during the summer. This is a great place to get race experience and get some training.

I find that I enjoy the shorter races such as PIR or criteriums. These are typically 30 to 60 minutes races. The crits are alot of fun since the are fast and lots of corners - you have to be on "your game" the entire time to keep the rubber side down.

I got some new wheels for my cross bike - Stan's NoTubes. They are tubeless so you can run much lower pressures without pinch flating since there is no tube. I'm pumped to try them out.

Well, the first taste of dirt is this weekend at Krugers. This is a basically a strong man crit on gravel. Race is for 45 minutes on the farm roads. Should be lots of fun.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Kings Valley Road - 4/12/08

What a great day for racing. It got to 79F in Oregon on Saturday (too bad it only lasted one day). The course was fantastic - beautiful area. It was a 19 mile loop - lots of roller hills to burn the legs - and a 1k climb to the finish line.

This was my first race mixed with the cat 4 guys, so my plan was to hang in the pack and do a hard effort on the final hill. Well, that was definitely the right plan. Now I just got to get the legs alittle stronger to finish alittle better. I was happy with my finish for the fitness level that I'm at - I put in a good strong effort on that last hill - passed a few guys and got passed by a few guys.

It was interesting that basically the 1st 50.5 miles (51 total) was alittle "dance". It really didn't matter too much where you were at. The front half of the pack was a good position since the pack "exploded" on the final hill and it was easy to get around riders if you had the legs for it. The second photo is me in the "pain cave" crossing the finish line. However, it looks like I recovered quickly at the 3rd photo after the finish.

The team had 2 guys in the top ten. One of them rode with me in the pack the entire race. The few guys at the front probably spent too much energy at the front. A good learning lesson for a race that isn't a flat finish.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hot New Hoops

Well, I made my very first purchase on e-bay (and survived). I resorted to the "pre-owned" market after a few calls to bike shops revealed that a set of nice wheels with a PowerTap was going to cost me ~$3k. Wow, that's alittle to steep for my squeeky tight budget. So, I consulted a few of my guru bike buddies and discovered, "there's no reason you shouldn't buy a used PowerTap". So I started the search.

I found the set shown below on my 1st day of searching ebay and craigslist. Sent the guy a few emails and decided he was a honest fellow. I lost the last minute bidding war, so I was really bummed out. However, got an email from ebay stating the auction was "canceled" and saw that the wheels were posted again later that day. I emailed the seller and turns out it was a "spam" bidder and ebay caught it and canceled it. A few days later I won the 2nd auction.

Then I had to sign up for a Paypal account to pay for them. What a pain. Turns out you need to get "verified" for larger money transfers. Had to connect a bank account in addition to having a credit card. After about a week I finally figured out that I was 1 digit off on the routing number.

Anyway they showed up quick after I finally paid the fellow. It was just like Christmas. Nothing like coming home to a big box sitting on the porch of cool toys. I took the evening to swap out the casette (it had Ultegra 10 speed - I got the older 9 speed). Jumped on the trainer at 1030pm at night to collect a few minutes of data on the PowerTap.

Downloading the data turned out to be a challenge - darn Windows. About 1am I finally figured out to change the "baud rate" (a setting for a USB communication device buried in the Windows device manager). Finally, cool graphs of more data than I knew what to do with.

Luckily, one of my teammates let me borrow this book, the current "bible" of training with power. Never read a 200 page book so quickly. Good stuff.

Finally, I got the bike on the road last Wednesday afternoon. The indoor trainer doesn't give you much feedback on the wheels. WOW, talk about some SWEET and STIFF hoops!!!! Probably, more of a placebo effect, but after spending more on wheels than on my bike - I need to believe it.

No excuses now - training with POWER.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Death Ride Selection

Found out today, that I'm one of the lucky 2800 folks to ride in this years Death Ride. I got selected last year, but had to sell my spot due to my shoulder injury.

How can you say no to a T-shirt that looks like this.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Banana Belt #2 - 3/9/08

Sunday was our 2nd race of the Banana Belt around Hagg Lake. It was clockwise direction once again - they couldn't change direction due to some road damage on the other side. The weather was overcast with sunbreaks, so we lucked out again for cycling weather.

There was plenty of chitter-chatter on the PV forum amoung us Cat 5s for tatics this time. Gives us something to do during the week. The plan was to stay in the pack and "lay down the hammer" on the last lap with 3 miles to go after we passed the dam. Well, plans and reality are always alittle different.

One of the strong PV guys (1st place at Cherry Pie) race tried alittle breakaway on the 1st lap and got pulled back in. He did it again on the 2nd lap and this time it worked out. There were 2 men in the breakaway and the rest of the team "sat on it - slowed down" back in the pack to let him get away. At one point, the chase car came along side us to tell us to speed up. Well it work - Mike got 2nd place - turns out the guy he was with was really strong on the last hill.

I started to lead the pack for the 1st climb after the dam as planned. Well, I didn't get any relief from others, so I "blew a gasket" on the 2nd steep hill to the finish.

Here's a photo of me in the "pain cave" crossing the finish line.

Here's a photo of the guys I need to listen to.

Patience, grasshopper.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Banana Belt #1 - 3/2/08

The Banana Belt Series started this Sunday around Hagg Lake in Forest Grove, Oregon. It is a ~11 mile loop around the lake. The cat5s did 3 laps. Denise and Luke showed up at the start to take some photos and cheer me on. It was a beautiful sunny day - you couldn't ask for anything better.

There were 7 of Portland Velo riders, so we have one of the bigger teams in our race. The first couple laps were pretty mellow. It's all about saving energy and letting other people work. One of our guys did a breakaway for about 1/2 a lap but was caught by the peleton. The pace picked up on the 3rd lap. I found myself leading the pack on the backside hills. We actually caught the race that started 5 minutes before us. I was proud that I "held on" and didn't get dropped after my long pull at the front. We probably put some hurt on some of the guys in back, but most of the pack regrouped when we crossed the dam.

It's only a couple miles to the finish after the dam. There are 3 hills and the 2nd is quite a "wall". However, our team was broken up at that point and we weren't leading the charge up the hill. So, the pack was bunched up and it was a big crazy sprint for the finish.

Results are posted, but there are quite a few errors at the moment - namely they have me at #1. I finished about 20th out of 50 I would estimate. I was very happy with my ride. I did some hard pulls and never got dropped. A big improvement from 5 years ago (the only other time I did the BB series).

Here's Luke getting in a few laps after my race......

I'm looking forward to next week - BB#2. We'll try some different tatics and see if our results improve.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Commute by Bike

I started the morning by reading this terrible article in the Oregonian about gas hitting $4 per gallon this spring. That's nice. Well, it's time to get back on the bike again.

Why I commute by bike (I only do it 2-3 times per week in the summer, but better than not at all).
  • Day Light Savings time is near.
  • Great way to get in a workout!!!! - This is my #1 reason.
  • Looks like Earl is working on a tax break
  • Save some gas money.

So, give it a try if you haven't already.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cherry Pie Race Report - 2/17/08

This was my first road race with a team. Actually, my first road race in about 5 years. Weather was great and no crashes - that I consider a good success.

We had 7 guys in Cat 5 men, only UoO men had a similar size group. Everyone was alittle nervous on the neutral roll out to the start. However, things settled down once we started going. I was actually surprized how mellow the pace was in the pack.

My plan was to gain experience and lead a couple attacks for the team. That plan worked out great. The point of my attacks were to cause confusion in the pack and make some other teams work. I figured that was working when guys were getting annoyed when I'd start to soft pedal after awhile.

Before the final hill at the finish, I started a lead off of our group. I was dead before the hill so I lost quite a few spots there, but it help to start off my teammates that got 1st, 2nd, and 5th. We also made the local Corvallis paper (I'm the third from the right).