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.