29 September 2008
26 September 2008
25 September 2008
Then it was off to CrossVegas, big thanks to Brendan and Mary for the ride over. Oh, and who rolls into the pits on his warmup?
GO JULIE POPPER!!!! (yes, it was hot out there!)
Barry Wicks, not having a great night. As you probably know by now, Ryan made the selection but Barry didn't.
TWells throwing down. You should have seen it -- as the laps wound down, TWells went down in a corner. As soon as the announcer called it, Adam Craig went to the front and drilled it!
You-know-who, with Tony Cruz on his wheel.
GO BEN POPPER!!!
Ben had a great race, staying on Lance's wheel early, then fading back a bit as the race went on. By the end, he was making it count, grabbing the cash while he could!
23 September 2008
21 September 2008
Good day on the rocks yesterday. Up against an in-form, informed, determined Chris Schotz, and there was nothing anyone could do to keep him from the W.
I knew going in that it would be tough to beat him on his "home" trails, especially after he blew past me on the first knarly downhill on his long-travel bike with super-pumped up tires. Blue Mound is all about risk and reward, and he came prepared for battle. So my strategy was to win in the pits, hoping that he would start to slow toward the midpoint of the race.
Only he didn't slow, and after I lost pressure in my rear tire (same one as Palos, time for a change!), then ripped a nice-size gash in my backup tire, I knew the chase was lost. The Song was amazing out there; my line choice was not. I did one lap on the Rush and took a minute to get the Song back in order -- that's how much faster it was.
Chris was just killing it, and really I didn't have a chance: every trail report I heard from competitors and pits alike was that he was on an absolute tear. To go sub-60 for 8 of 11 laps at Blue Mound? That's pretty awesome.
Second place was in the bag, but I figured it would do me well to get out on one night lap, and at least finish on the lead lap with Chris. Funny how that happens -- go out on an optional lap with lights, put in good time through the midpoint of the course, and then -- with 3 miles remaining -- side-swipe a rock and completely blow your last rear tire to shreds. It was a long, lonely walk back, and now in addition to 3 new tires and a chainring, it's time to re-cleat my race shoes.
On the positive side, no back issues and no cramping, which is saying a lot for that brutal of a course. I've got some funky bruising on my legs from a couple of small falls, and my right arm has a sore spot -- oh, and my left thumb is pretty swollen/sprained -- but all in all, I had a great day out there, and will recover quickly. The worst may be my gut -- I planted my handlebar in the ground and then planted my chest right on top of it. Two inches higher and it would have been my sternum!
Dinner at Pasquale's makes everything better, and just may be the only reason I won't say "never again" about Blue Mound. I was having fun out there, and put in a solid 12 hours on a tough, rough course. As Mark McCrimmon said -- "Moab will feel smooth by comparison!"
19 September 2008
... my hair. It's been fun being long this summer, but since I'm backwards when it comes to fashion, I decided that the onset of cold weather was a good time to just cut it all off. I look a little less skelatal, and I'm hopeful it will keep my helmets smelling fresher, longer.
Julie, gotta' admit, have never heard of Bust Magazine. My imagination was going overboard until I actually looked it up.
Way too much junk food this week, but I plan to burn it off completely tomorrow. Just 15-1/2 hours until go-time. Gulp.
Good luck to everyone headed to Michigan and Jackson Park!
18 September 2008
I suppose it doesn't matter -- but I will admit to a certain pleasure once the plane takes off of cracking open MBA next to the guy with his nose in the Journal. Usually he's in a button-down shirt and slacks, and maybe a tie; I'm in jeans and a T-shirt or polo. And we're both "working." Did I mention that I love my job?
Interbike prep is complete -- as complete as it will be in Chicago, anyway. It's a whole other world once we land in Vegas. But everything is packed and shipped, FedEx Office (aka Kinkos) has completed my signage (to the tune of serious credit card action), the new brochures are almost done, and -- knock wood -- all I have to do is show up and set up our booth. Volunteers are prepped, autograph sessions advertised, presentation planned for ... It's going to be a great show.
Speaking of preparations, I spent my lunch today away from the stress of the show, washing and re-lubing the Song for its assault on the Azure Hill and beyond. I re-cabled it two weeks ago, so this was the next phase -- quick wash from Palos (thankfully a dry race!), then lube, replace the grips (first time I've changed them out) and tape, re-grease the seatpost and pedals, and then pull the bottom bracket and re-grease from the swimming we did at Shenandoah. I love my BlackBox ceramic bearings, but they require a good deal of upkeep, since a lot of the friction reduction comes from different seals than you'll find on traditional BBs. Those seals are not quite as seal-y, so it's a good idea to pull the BB apart and re-grease from time to time, especially after total immersion.
The whole process was super-relaxing, and I enjoyed just losing myself in the work and not thinking about the City that Never Sleeps. Now the challenge will be to stay relaxed -- haircut and lunch with our Moab chief mechanic tomrrow; 12 hours of suffering on Saturday; final packing on Sunday; and then it's showtime!
17 September 2008
(Big shout out to The Pony Shop riders. Kick it guys -- I'm there in spirit, show those South Siders what it's all about!)
Full disclosure, though: I'm ready to kill it at Blue Mounds this Saturday. Training is going well, body is recovering respectably from workouts, and this is my last chance to put it all on the line before the final run-up to Moab. Sure, last year I probably said I'd never race there again as long as I lived, but, well, you know, 2008 is a new year, and Interbike is a perfect recovery week, right?
Speaking of Moab, just got the e-mail update from Laird. Dang, this is going to be a blast. Dan even managed a shout-out since he's coming all the way from Singapore. Fuel for the fire, dude ...
But first ... VEGAS BABY! Two cool things to note, for those of you who will be in town ...
- The Power of Bicycles third-annual open discussion, Thursday 12:30 p.m., Casanova 607. Come meet Stan Day and F.K. Day and learn about the new SRAM Cycling Advocacy Fund and our work with World Bicycle Relief
- Autograph sessions with Jeremiah Bishop and Rebecca Rusch! Wednesday 11-12 and Thursday 10-11. Check this out: Jeremiah volunteered to help us out again this year at the booth, and he and Rebecca connected to pull this together. So cool -- they both raced Cape Epic this year and got to see Africa first-hand!
Lessee, what else ... Joined the Siren Love group on Facebook yesterday. Saturday is going to be very interesting -- based on how the Song responded at 9 Mile, I'm pretty confident that it will sing loudly at Blue Mounds. Last year was a mish-mash of mechanicals (huge thanks to Goat for saving my ass that day); if I can keep it together this year, it will be a whole 'nother story. I'm excited to see how the relative "lack" of suspension will feel after 10 hours on the rocks ...
And finally, my thoughts on the USA Cycling Controversy of the Week. I'm all for new mountain bike categories, except that it just proves how irrelavant USA Cycling is to the mountain bike scene. I truly hope someone can save the NMBS (and indications are that next year will be a starting point), and "upgrading" semi-pros to fill out the fields is one way to attract racers to the marquee events. But the fastest-growing segment of the sport is enduros, and except for 9 Mile I did not need a USA Cycling license at all this year to race any of them. Shenandoah doubled in one year, and you can't tell me that the 250+ more racers who showed up in 2008 all had licenses?
Because here's my fear: USA Cycling will try to co-opt the enduro movement. Doing so will add layers, and the true grass-roots feel of those events will be forever altered. What's more, in doing so they may move to "closed"-category events -- e.g., if you race 24 Hour Solo Nationals as a Cat. 1 (expert) or Cat. 2 (sport), you will be classified within your category and age group, not against the overall because the overall will be "Pro." So for example I would not have been 8th place overall in 2007, rather I would have been Expert 4th behind Dan, Brad and Todd, all of whom were in my category and age group. And Dan's 5th place would not have put him on the podium with Chris Eatough and Nat Ross -- it would have put him on a separate podium with Brad and Todd.
I'm the first to admit, when it comes to cross-country, I am not on the same "Pro" level as Jesse, Marko, Chris, Brian, etc. ... But when the clock hits 6 hours and there's still 2 or 3 or 18 to go, I'm a top-10 or top-20 contender at national-level events, and I'm racing for the overall. So I will feel pretty stupid when Don calls all the "Pros" to the line next year, but if it means I get to race at the level I'm at for longer races, then "Pro" it will be.
16 September 2008
15 September 2008
12 September 2008
The first is with respect to Interbike. Everything is either done or in process, with just a few small things to wrap up in the next couple of days. They'll be hectic, for sure, but the heavy lifting is done, and I just need to be in Vegas on time and all will be ready. So the pressure of the past five weeks is off, and I'll sort of be free-falling my way through the next week. I just need to keep in mind: it's not the fall that kills you. It's the landing.
The second has a name: November. I realized the other day that I get to spend the entire time between Moab and the baby doing whatever I want on my bike. This is somewhat of a new concept for me -- I think it's been since I lined up for my first running race nearly 10 years ago since I truly just ran or rode for the sake of running or riding. Sure, every year I have an "off season" in which I say I'm riding whenever and wherever I want, but the truth is, those off-seasons always lead straight into on-seasons, and "next year" is always in my mind. This year, however, my on-season will be preceeded by some pretty big change, and I want to leave myself open to riding, or not, in December and January. So that means November will be wide open to do ... well, whatever!
This has had a curious effect on me: It has made me realize just how much I enjoy racing. Sure, I like riding. But I also like having a structure to my riding, and a reason to ride beyond just the fact that I can. I know I will value the hours spent at Palos after the leaves have fallen and as Thanksgiving approaches, but I also know that I'm really looking forward to January or February -- or even as late as March -- to get back out there with an agenda. Having a definable goal for my ride -- heck, for my season -- is, for me, a part of my enjoyment of the fluid movement of exercise.
Men of Oregon, I invite you to become students of your events. Running, some might say, is an absurd pastime upon which to be exhausting yourself. But if you can find meaning in the kind of running you need to do to stay on this team, chances are, you can find meaning in that other absurd pastime: Life. -- Bill Bowerman
11 September 2008
10 September 2008
In case you haven't heard, the Chicago Cyclocross Cup has created a limited-edition t-shirt featuring the artwork of Jesse Lalonde. This American Apparel shirt sells for $15, with a portion of the proceeds for each shirt sold going to support World Bicycle Relief.
If you're interested in ordering one, contact Greg Heck at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been through this once before already this year, and now I get to do it again: count the number of structured workouts I have left in my season on one hand. This morning it was up before dawn, out the door as soon as it was light, and a couple of hours later stop the clock on three long reps of straight-block tempo. This is the latest I've ever done a long tempo workout -- usually by now I'm doing short-burst stuff and 15-20 minute efforts, often combined, to prep for the rigors of 'cross.
So let me say this: long-volume, straight-block tempo in September is not so fun for me.
This is the time of year when you're fit, so the efforts "hurt" differently than they do in the spring. All you're doing is trying to maintain for the last month of the season. So even though the wattage and heart rate are right where they need to be, the minutes just drag by as you try to dodge walkers, dogs and roller bladers out for their morning routine. In the spring, the seconds tick by slowly because you're in physical pain, but you know you're building fitness; this morning, my mind got to wander more, almost to the point of questioning what the heck I was doing. Not a great place to be with another 30 minutes staring you in the face!
(My mind also jumped back and forth among Janis' greatest hits -- "Piece of My Heart," "Bobby McGee" and "Mercedes Benz" were constant companions as I rode up and down the lakefront. This started in Virginia with 9 hours of "MB" on the brain, and hasn't let up since!)
With a month to go before the Intergalactic Championships, this is exactly what I need to be doing. It's funny how the same amount of time in a race, often at the same effort level, can go by so quickly, but in workouts it just seems to drag. Especially when you've been doing structured workouts for months on end!
But it's all about to change. Just a couple more to go, and only one more straight block day on the horizon -- and even then the volume is only about 60% of what I did today, and is more, shorter efforts. I'm super-psyched for the couple of WEMS races this month, not really looking forward to being off the bike for a week in Vegas, and we'll be doing pre-ride just one month from today ...