November 15, 2010


I'll start this post with the warning that I'm going to be coming at you like a spider monkey with excuses.

I felt compelled to assault the cyclocross circuit on Saturday as the race was on my turf at Mt. Ogden golf course. I dabble in golf a little and admit freely that I loathe playing Mt. Ogden. I'll add that racing cyclocross there is almost as bad an experience. The course was mostly straight up and down, with some flat thrown in to get you from one steep to another.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've squandered most of the fitness I had in early October. Still, cross is for fun, and the stars aligned to provide me with a good opportunity to go. I hoped that I would have enough to be at least competitive. Unfortunately, I had a video/photo shoot the day before that required a 3am wake up, 3 hours in the car, running around on my feet all day, poor nutrition, another 3 hours in the car and finally to bed about 11pm. Not optimal preparation for race day. I was hammered all morning before the race. I fought off a noon nap to finish getting ready and left home at 12:30 for a 2:00 start time. I showed up, checked in and went back to get on the trainer. I had a solid :30 minute warm up, but the harder efforts were anything but effortless. I could wind it up, but fatigue rushed to my legs quickly.

I changed into race kit suitable for the 40° temperature and headed to the start. They were running later than usual, and I ended up standing there shivering for 15 minutes before the race finally started. The start was straight for 50 yards on soft, damp grass until a 90° right hander sent us flying in a close single file on more damp grass. I had elbowed my way midpack before the right turn and was feeling alright. Then I lost any hope of a decent finish. We veered onto a singletrack then turned 180° up a technical section. Three guys in front of me stacked it and when I got through the mele the field had strung out, the leaders already had 20 seconds on me. I ground up the steep climb, punched it on the double track and went too fast around corners in an effort to pull back some time. Which I think I was doing, until I blew through a steep, off-camber downhill turn. Twice.

By lap three I had demon turn figured out, but the race had gone in front of me. I didn't lose a lot of time due to riding, the race was lost on the first 180° and the two trips down demon turn. I faded a little, but I'll bet everyone did. I only lost by about 45 seconds. Pre-riding the course might have helped, but I would have had to really stroke it to make it to the 180° in better position and then paid for that. Ultimately I ended up 11th, behind a bunch of guys I put the hurt on a short month ago.

I think that the 2nd place earlier in the year made me complacent. This 11th has woken me up. There are a few races left this year, and I'd like to try and make it to Wheeler Farm and Ogden for my last two. In the meantime, I'll be spending some hours on the bike.

November 10, 2010

What A Waste...

It's been a good year.

After finishing one of my best seasons of competition ever, it was time to turn my focus to cyclocross. It seemed natural, and I can usually do okay in the races. After all, I have a nice cyclocross bike. I have some technical skills that most roadies don't possess. I run more than most cyclists. But mostly, I was stoked to race cross because for the first time in a long time I knew I would have all of my fitness right at the end of the season with Vikingman the first of September and XTERRA the latter part. Most guys are getting pretty worn out by fall, and cross is something they can do for fun. I'd be doing it for fun also, but hopefully fresher than most.

The theory was coming together. And nicely.

My plan was to do all of the Ogden-area races and maybe slide down to SLC for one or two at Wheeler Farm. Total of maybe 6-7 races. Race Master 35 C since I am an old man. Have fun and mix it up.

The first Ogden race was at the Weber Fairgrounds. After a slow start my momentum built and I started passing lots of other guys until I found myself in the second group of five to bridge up to three leaders. They weren't really going anywhere very fast, so rather than keep losing time I took a flier in an attempt to either up the tempo in the chase group, bring out the stronger guys to help bridge or at least shed a couple of the weaker guys. Only one guy went with me, and he had just about enough to hang on to me, until he dropped off.

So I was in this limbo land. Stuck between the leading pair and the remnants of the chase group that was sort of reforming. I just kept drilling it to stay away and was gaining slowly on the leaders by bunnyhopping a couple of the log barriers and generally riding like a madman. By the last lap, however, I was paying for my efforts, but hanging on to my position.

With just a couple of turns to go until the finish, I hopped over the final barrier and saw one of the lead pair struggling with his chain. He'd put his bike down too hard and dropped his chain. I flew by and ended up crossing (sic) the line in second place, about five seconds off the winner.

It was pretty clear that my fitness plan had worked. I had the fitness to actually compete. Until... October.

Goddamn October is the toughest month of the year. It has surpassed even December. Work is insane. Eight birthdays including Wifey's, Smarty Pant's and Ma's. Plus a couple of bad weather days, encroaching darkness, and a rainy trip to Moab. It was a perfect storm of events that led to next to no riding, running or swimming for a month.

A month with only a handful of runs and rides. I don't know what I have left in the tank at this point. I'm going to try and get out to race this weekend. The weather is supposed to be cool and the rain should have the course in ideal shape. And it's in Ogden.