31 August 2007

Palos

Stump Farm. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Palos. Clean the house.

Happy Labor Day everyone!

30 August 2007

Latest Chicago Athlete

The latest issue of Chicago Athlete is available now at your newsstands and on-line. I've got two pieces in it:

Hooked on 'Cross

Second Glance: Beth Kobeszka

The first is my normal column, this time focusing on 'cross. The second is a piece about Beth K., the young woman from XXX Racing-AthletiCo who was killed down in Peoria. ("Second Glance" is the name of the back-page feature in each issue.) I'm glad I was able to work with a couple of her teammates to preserve her memory -- I'm sad I didn't get to know her personally, she sounded like an awesome person.

Flailing about

Easy, easy morning ride this morning -- I got dropped by "the guy." Panniers, mountain bike, hairy legs. It wouldn't have been a big deal, except he first pulled the water bottle "I've passed you and now I can drink" move, and then a couple minutes later did a full-on, Lance-esque Look. Bite me, dude -- where were you when I was 40 watts over threshold yesterday?

The reason for the easy ride is three-fold -- 1) a couple of hard days have pushed my fitness back up, and I'm feeling good and ready to race; and 2) I'm doing a bit of an MTB "stage race" this weekend starting with Stump Farm and then probably two days of Palos pre-riding; and 3) 'CROSS PRACTICES HAVE STARTED!!

That's right, we had our first 'cross practice last night at Mt. Trashmore. Pretty low key, just four of us, but it was good to break out the PVC (barriers) and start hopping around in lycra. Mr. Crowley was back (Alistair from Colavita), along with Jason from XXX and a young woman who I can't remember her name. I think it started with an R, or maybe it was Lisa ...

We did a couple of short laps, and then helped teach her some of the finer points of re-mounts using the Cycle-Smart "walking drill." By the end she was really getting it, and it'll be fun watching her kick some Cat. 4 butt this season.

As for the rest of us, Mr. Crowley is looking good after a strong season of road racing, and I had forgotten how friggin' tall he is -- the barriers were set up UCI distance apart, and he just flows through, one step at a time. Jason is working on getting over his stutter-step, but otherwise looks really good and really got the hang of the dismount with Alistair's help, and I just flailed around for about 20 of the 90 minutes and spent the rest of the time stretching and chilling after my morning workout. Thankfully, it felt good -- all the drills from last year really paid off, and the muscle memory is there -- now I just need to add speed!

I forgot how much fun I have with 'cross -- I was really not looking forward to last night, sort of hoping it would rain, and now I can't wait for the season to begin. I think I just get discouraged at my results, and need to re-focus my energies on just having some fun. I've always wanted to have an impact at the regional if not national level, and that just probably ain't gonna' happen -- I'll save that for the enduro stuff. Of course, talk to me again after the first race ... that's when I'll remember how painful it is!

29 August 2007

It's the chin

I never saw it until I saw Rusty's photo, but I've been told a bunch of times that I look like Floyd Landis. Too many times to ignore, as much as I've tried. So here's the evidence -- you decide:


Me at Subaru Cup (second wheel in photo), thanks Rusty:



Floyd Landis, stolen from here:

Murderball

Kim and I started watching Murderball last night. Good documentary, amazing footage, crazy sport. Thing is, I'm having a really hard time watching it. Much more difficult than I thought. When the guy talks about his C6 separation, they show these really cool graphics of spinal repair surgery and footage of new quads in a hospital setting. I started having flashbacks to the ER at Lutheran General. Ditto when they show the PT these guys go through just to learn to walk again.

I like to think my crash didn't leave any emotional scars, but I have to be honest -- watching stuff like this, or Million Dollar Baby, sometimes scares the living crap out of me.

28 August 2007

Lakefront destruction

Freaky ride this morning on the lakefront path. Got down to the Irving Park area, right at the fieldhouse, part of the fencing along the golf course is ripped down (a huge section), and there are trees all over the place. Some of the limbs took huge chunks out of the path pavement, too. I know people say "it looks like a bomb went off," and I'm usually like, yeah right, what do you know? but that's what it looks like down there right now.

Then I got to the south side, and nothing. No damage. Very strange.

Another fun training ride, VO2max repeats. I guess this means I'm back at it, after a few weeks of recovery from 24-9. Scott said it would take about 4 weeks, and he was right. The efforts were hard this morning -- really hard -- but I wasn't completely dead afterward. We'll see what the power ends up looking like when I download it later.

In other news, Mavic has redone their web site, removing all contact info and deleting their tech section completely. That really sucks, because I've been experiencing the dreaded "Death Squeal" on my used CrossMax wheels, which cost me at least one place at the Subaru Cup. This is when the freehub locks up and starts screaming -- it's a bit freaky, and you just hope the whole thing isn't going to explode. Which is does eventually, if you don't take care of it. In the meantime, you can't shift, and you're stuck. It's a PITA.

The Shop has already replaced it once, and I took it back over there last night. There's not much that can be done, but I want to at least try lubing it (per the old instructions on the web site!) at least once before I give up the ghost. We'll see what happens.

Let's see ... what else ... Eurobike this week, which I'm thankfully not attending. I'd like to go, but there's not really a place for World Bicycle Relief there. At least this year. Besides, Stump Farm is an awesome venue for a long race, and I'm really looking forward to riding on at least semi-dry trails again. (They're getting rain today.) And with so much focus on Interbike, it's better that I'm here, on the ground, in the same time zone as our designers and printers, if not our booth guy.

I'm excited for 'cross, but I'm already thinking about next year. I can't help it! We still have at least 4 MTB races to go, and then a full slate of 'cross, and I'm already making plans for '08. I need help.

27 August 2007

The sun will come out

Crazy week last week. Thursday was a bit on the hellish side for everyone -- power thoughts to the folks who are still without up in the northern 'burbs. I felt your pain on the way home from the family stuff, getting stuck in the flood traffic on the Edens and on the side roads in Northbrook/Northfield. Then two days of bananna hammock fun at the Chicago Tri expo, then a long ride from K-town to Lake Geneva and back with this guy and a few other Cheesers yesterday. 4:20 with some jammin' on the hills and a lot of steady tempo. Good stuff.

For those of you looking for a 'cross natz countdown (Kyle), sorry but this is the new Chris. Mountain Bike Chris takes things more as they come and doesn't try to control time. Roadie Chris is all but officially retired. (That was really funny yesterday talking to some guys on the ride who don't know Roadie Chris. My, how things have changed since way back when ... Holy crap my hair was so short!)

For those of you looking for 'cross practice info, Lou is out of town this week, but we'll be starting at Mt. Trashmore at 6 p.m. on WEDNESDAY. (Not Tuesday.) I'll be there with the barriers. Nothing specific planned, just getting a feel for getting back into it. I actually have a morning workout that day, so I may be there playing coach more than anything else.

22 August 2007

It worked

The sun came out, I felt better. Enough to do a nice, fun VO2max workout this morning on the way to work. Then it got hot, and everything felt like a sauna. Ouch. I'm hoping the winds helped dry things a bit, but more storms expected tonight.

I'm afraid we have some family stuff to attend to in the next couple of days, so I'll be out of commission for a bit. Don't forget to tell your loved ones that, well, you love them.

21 August 2007

Wake me up before you go go

Bed at 8:15 last night. Kim woke up around 5, I rolled over. She got me up about 6:15. Ate breakfast. Gathered clothes to ride to work. Loaded the backpack on the bed. Next thing I know, it's 10 o'clock. Good thing I didn't have any meetings this morning.

I don't feel bad, I don't even feel particularly tired. I just really really want to sleep right now, and not do anything else. One of my coworkers is sick, maybe I'm fighting it off? The wetness of this weekend couldn't have helped. Maybe if the sun comes out I'll feel better?

20 August 2007

The Cup runneth over

I'm still soggy.

Rain started at 11:59. Race started at noon. First lap was like pre-ride, a little dusty. Started OK, hit the second part of the climb hard to pass guys and get to the singletrack just behind this guy. Got passed back on the far side of the parking lot. Lost more on the next climb. Made it up in the singletrack. Got to the switchbacks at the head of a group of six and ... BAM! Chain into the spokes. Crap. Off and running, lose the group, with her husband driving the train. That was the race.
Second through fourth laps were really fun as the ground got tacky. For the first time in my life, I can say I rode the singletrack nearly perfectly, except for that damn switchback on the east side. Rush was dialed, tires were perfect. My only problem was my fitness -- no efforts and no real riding for the past 3 weeks left my legs and lungs wanting more. I'm still trying to figure out how I kept putting time into this guy on the descents in the singletrack, only to lose it on the pedal sections. I think he was not having a good day.

And mechanicals -- holy crap. I'm so done with mechanicals. Threw the chain off the cassette three times, and spent the last part of the last lap not able to shift -- lost two, maybe three places there. I was in a hurry during warmup, and switched wheels without fully dialing in the shifting. That was just dumb. But at least I had the right tires for the conditions.
Hung out the rest of the day with Scott and the new NiteRider guy, and with Kim in the World Bicycle Relief tent, heckling her, her and her. This was one time were I was very glad I was an elite, since we went first. By the end of the day, the poor citizen kids were just lost in the mud bog.

Camped out Saturday night in the parking lot/lake, woke up to rust on my chain. Told Kim the races would probably be cancelled, she tried to entice me to stay in the sleeping bag. Should have listened. Drove home with the bikes on top and the tents inside. I think the humidity in the car reached 99% at one point, like it was almost ready to start raining inside. Treated ourselves to Perkins in K-town on the way.

Got home, tried to dry out, watched Wedding Crashers. Then crashed ourselves. Woke up at 1:30 to thunder and lightning happening simultaneously outside. Crazy days.

17 August 2007

Su-ba-ru

At work butt-crack early today, drove down so I could load up the World Bicycle Relief tent and accompanying collateral. Thanks to DJ (who's been flying the World Bicycle Relief banner all season), Don agreed to put brochures in the Subaru Cup packets, and Kim and I will be in the expo to support the message. Of course, I'll be racing too, but still! Fun stuff! Anyone who wants to, you're welcome to join us in the 10x10, especially if it's raining ...

So I'm loaded and ready, will be working from home most of today until I pick up Kim once she leaves work. Real jobs suck, I've decided.

Less see ... my work is going crazy, I'm drinking coffee again this week to make sure I get it all done. Tons of Interbike stuff, with Joe and Kurt blowing everyone away (more on that when we're closer, for now just a tease!). Oh! I also found out part of the reason we're getting so popular in Australia ... check out the official charity for the Mont 24 team race!

This weekend should be interesting. It's my first race back since 24-9, and I've only really done about 12 minutes of threshold in the past 3 weeks. Heck, if you cast the net further back, I haven't done an "intense" race (vs. enduro) since the first lap at Reforestation on July 15, and that lasted all of 28 minutes. So my last real full-race effort was the Proctor Crit back on July 1 ... ouch. OTOH, I've finally broken through and lost some of the extra pounds I've been carrying all season -- I'm a full 7lbs lighter than I was back at John Muir. That will help this weekend, as long as my new diet isn't compromising my recovery ... (jury is still out on that one ...)

And finally, FINALLY! I figured out what suspension is all about. New shock installed and (hopefully!) dialed. Should be perfect for this weekend, come what may.

15 August 2007

Just because I could

Saw the news from Amy that Cross Natz reg opens at midnight (well, 12:01) on Saturday, one month from today. Yes, that's right, we'll all be in middle-of-nowhere Chequamegon ... have they heard of the Internet up there?

Now who's the crazy one? I signed up for Natz back in January, before USA Cycling forced them to shut down the site. I was just messing around on their web site and followed the process ... yeah baby!

Even better, the Masters 35+ race ('cross age) is on Saturday, and the elite on Sunday. So I'll have all day Friday to get down there, get settled, pre-ride, etc. Prolly leave Thursday night and drive part-way. Yippee!!

14 August 2007

Do it now

Crazy day of meetings, so if I don't update now, I won't get to it at all. Wet morning, thunderstorms rolled through right at the start. Bad timing -- now it's almost 9 a.m. and blue skies are starting to come out. I delayed the ride to work by 45 minutes in the hopes it wouldn't be raining as hard ... no dice. But I rode anyway -- 2 weeks off just makes you crazy to turn the pedals.

Today I get to meet with this guy and his business partner (who has a super-cool name), grab a quick lunch, then have development meetings all afternoon. Somewhere in there I have to jet down to the storage unit to receive a shipment of 25 Africa bikes. Very fun.

I'm super-psyched about this weekend -- she and her peeps, this guy, these folks, and the guy who runs it all have all been working their butts off to make this happen. I'm not a super-big fan of new-cut trails, especially after the beating on the logging roads at Wausau, but I'm sure the singletrack will make up for it. Plus, they're getting some rain today, so that will help.

13 August 2007

Watch out now!

Check it out -- Gabe graduated to Yellow Belt! Woo-hoo! Man, I would NOT want to go up against this kid in the ring ... and I'm 3 times his size!

Good weekend, easy road ride on Saturday followed by awesome massage followed by fun kid (and adult!) time with Kim's friend from work. They live in this adorable townhome in Mundelein ... it was fun to chill out in the back yard, watching the kids hit the sprinklers, followed by yummy grilled food and checking out a rad Star Wars and GI Joe toy collection. Kim's friend's husband has Darth Vader, Obi Wan, AND original Luke still with their lightsabers!


Sunday was a blast, Kettles with John from work, blue loop plus connector, skipping Emma Carlin. I told Kim before 24-9 that I felt like I was a halfway decent mountain bike racer, but I wasn't such a good mountain biker. Wausau went a long way toward helping that -- by the time you hit hour 15 or so, you start running on instinct, and by hour 20 you do whatever you can to be as smooth as possible as your skills and mental capacity degrade. In that single race, I learned how to ride, and it really showed yesterday -- I finally felt smooth on the bike. I was on the hard tail, and it just felt good. (As anyone who has ridden with me knows, smooth has heretofore not been in my vocabulary.) We weren't drilling it or anything, but it felt good to flow.


Another crazy week, countdown to Vegas and lotsa meetings tomorrow. Whew!

10 August 2007

Back to school

Must have been in a back-to-school mood in the past couple of weeks -- Kim and I just wrapped up Dazed and Confused last night, and next from Netflix is Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I was thinking about it last night, and here's a scary thought:

Slater is 48 years old now. Not the actor, but that character. Yes, these are the people teaching our children.
On second thought, that's not so scary -- I'd rather have Slater teach my children than Mrs. Ruiz from H.D. Jacobs High School. Now she was scary. Are you cool, man?

09 August 2007

Losing it

Head-down, butt-up in project stuff this week. Took a moment to go back through my list of to-dos, and came across not one, but two notes to self that I don't understand. Not a good sign!

It's that time again

Happy first day of school to my nephew Levi! Have fun out there!

08 August 2007

Call for volunteers

Worlds ... colliding ...

Don from WORS has graciously agreed to have World Bicycle Relief literature in the Subaru Cup rider packet, and since they have an expo, we'll be bringing the 10x10 to help spread the word!

So ... if you're planning on being at Nordic Mountain next weekend, August 18-19, and would like to help us talk about World Bicycle Relief, let me know -- I'll be racing, but will be in the booth the booth in between, and Kim will be there all weekend. We can fill you in on what to say and how to answer questions, and we should have some t-shirts for those who help ...

Everybody's riding but me

We've got weather moving in, so I elected to take another day off today. The L isn't too bad when there's not dumb Cubs fans on it.

Kim and I caught the latest Bourne movie last night ... so cool. It was a little strange, sort of like the second movie didn't matter to the storyline, except to introduce a character and delete another, except the killed-off character looked just like a new character from this movie. All in all, though, a good flick, definitely for the theaters -- it jumps around quite a bit (both locale and camera work), but is one of those awesome, on-the-edge-of-your-seat, new-fashioned thrillers with a fun story. And the dry humor from the first two carries through, very fun.

By contrast, the trailers SUCKED. I'm a huge fan of trailers -- I'm the guy who makes his wife get to the theater 30 minutes early just to get good seats in time to see the previews. Last night was horrible, all Middle East terrorist stuff and one halfway-interesting Western. I dunno, call me jaded, but aren't we past the rah-rah flag waving stuff? Especially when it stars Tom Cruise? It really makes you wonder when you're seeing basically the same setting and plot line in movie after movie, especially when it all looks suspiciously pro-government from supposedly "liberal" Hollywood ...

(On a side note, it was interesting to see those trailers in an Evanston theater -- by the third one, the audience was actively booing. Bleeding-heart liberals? Nah, not here!)

Anyway, looks like I've got today off and probably tomorrow morning before I'm back on the bike. If you check out my links, it seems like everyone else is riding -- Rachael is contemplating swapping road bars, Scott has intel on the Subaru Cup course, Jim has found heaven on earth. Heck, even Kaylie has put more miles on the bike than me recently, and she was just riding up and down the driveway!

07 August 2007

Is it dry yet?

It's not often my in-laws make the news:
In far northwest suburban Woodstock, police had to rescue motorists from vehicles stranded at an intersection flooded in up to 3 feet of water. About a 1.5-mile stretch of Franklinville Road was closed between Illinois Highway 176 and Perkins Road in an unincorporated area near Woodstock due to flooding, according to the McHenry County sheriff's department.

Leave it to the Germans

Check it: German Beer Lovers Rescued

BERLIN - Germany's national railway wasn't about to risk sending a trainload of soccer fans to a German Cup match without beer.

Federal police said Monday that the beer tap failed aboard a special train carrying Bayer Leverkusen fans to Hamburg on Saturday. The fault was discovered half an hour into the journey.

06 August 2007

Photos are in!

Check it:

http://www.fotojack.com/photo/?race=939&sid=4671a34221a6dcbb4e4587aeb448d963&pg=1&val=17&submit.x=51&submit.y=6

Big apologies to Scott Cole for screwing up two of your photos (the last two on my page), not sure what I was eating, but it looks like I just couldn't get it out of my mouth ...

And you like that big wad of something in my mouth in photo 5? Really, the only one that's pretty good is the one with the tent in the background, somewhere on Saturday afternoon ...

Sand and silt

Awesome weekend. Started with an easy ride with Kim down the lakefront path on Saturday morning, before heading out to her parents' place for a good, ol' fashioned, down-home family picnic. It was huge, probably 50 people, including tons of kids running around. We decided we're urban hillbillys because we drive around with our 10x10 and chairs in the back of our car, but they really came in handy when the rains came.

I was fast asleep on the living room floor by about 7:30, with Kaylie on the couch next to me. How does that work? you may ask. Well, when you've got beautiful blue eyes and curly blonde hair, I'm just a pushover! The next morning was quality K time, setting up her bike with lowered seat and no pedals so she could push it around (think Like-a-Bike) and get used to balancing. She's not quite ready for no training wheels, but she's close!

Then Kim headed to a baby shower for my sister-in-law, while I headed over to Rock Cut. The rains were gone and the heat/humidity were climbing, but I managed to put in about 2 hours just cruising the trails and trying not to leave a trace. The trails were in OK shape, but there were a few spots I stopped and walked. Of course, my bike is covered in sand and silt, but it's nothing like what they had at Alterra!

Surreal moment: I was flowing down the last section of singletrack for the day, a part just like 9-Mile, where I really didn't want to use my breaks. All of a sudden, I came upon a pack of wild turkeys! So yeah, I had to break ... and then I got rolling again, only to come around another corner head-on into a young, 6-point buck! D'oh! I yelled at him, and he thankfully ran away ... it was wild!

Then it was back to my parents' house, where we celebrated my mom's birthday and hung out with our nephew CJ. We've never had a chance to hang with grandma & grandpa and CJ before, so it was pretty fun -- he's quite the thief when it comes to M&Ms -- takes after his uncle!

03 August 2007

The wheels on the bike ...

... go 'round and 'round.

After three days of dealing with dumbass Cubs fans on the L, I just couldn't take it anymore. Especially with "Lollapalooza" starting today. So I rode to work. Very slight wind out of the north (tailwind), and it was divine! Strangest thing, I was craving a Coke today. So I grabbed one when I got in -- I almost never drink soda except on race days, but it tasted so good. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut!

Body is doing well. Legs feel great. Back still a bit tight, but oddly felt better on the bike than it does off. Still have some numbness in my right pinkie toe, but that's had nerve damage for years and a 24-hour race just brings out the worst of any small issues you may have. It didn't help that I kept bashing it into the rocks on section 3 on Sunday morning.

No racing for me this weekend, this week is an "enforced rest" to recover and keep the fires burning with 'cross right around the corner. I may try to talk Kim into letting me take the hardtail out to Vet's Acres or Rock Cut on Sunday -- no way am I sitting through a baby shower. Tomorrow will be fun, though -- family picnic at the in-laws, I hear the weather won't be brutal and we're supposed to have something like 20 kids there! Then it's a few more days off, more recovery/fun rides next weekend, and Subaru Cup is only two weeks away! That was my first MTB race ever last year when it was at Devil's Head ... and this year I get to do the stage race!

And quick update ... I made it to 114, with 41k points on level 10. Just can't seem to figure out where Mauritas is, otherwise I'd make it to the next round. D'oh!

02 August 2007

Kim's not home

So here I am trying to get my score better. I'm up to 113, how about you?

So addicting

This is post No. 667, or so Blogger tells me. Sorry Jeremiah.

I saw this in the Trib today: What's your travel IQ?

You need a Facebook log-in, but who doesn't have one these days? And it's worth it -- this game is so addicting.

I'm at 104 with 8 of the 12 rounds completed, but that's with trying to be super-fast. What about you?