Sunday, September 25, 2011

USGP Planet (Awesome!) Bike Cup

Whew! What a weekend! The traveling circus rallied in Sun Prairie for the first leg of the USGP and I'll give you, dear reader, a brief race report of my butt crack early 4's race that went off Sat. and Sun. at 8AM.

Saturday: I was slated for a 2nd row start, but the fellas in the first row left the perfect lane open on the inside of the course. Thank you very much I said, as I took the HOLESHOT! Ooowwwwww! That was a goal of mine last season that never really materialized, but the nonetheless, I can put that one in my pocket.

Went down on a little off camber section after the double barriers as I was wanting to really pin it, but things were a little too slick from the morning dew for the super-fast high and tight line. Lost one slot.

Working hard ripping the corners, I couldn't get my legs to come around on the power sections and was passed by a peep, who I've done serious battle with last season. Next lap and a half-ish was spent closing the gap on 1st and 2nd wheels. Made the bridge and heard another guy coming up on our group. I was absolutely gassed, but I knew I couldn't sit on  to recover long before the 4th guy was going to make his move. Took about 6-7 seconds worth of deep breaths and attacked a power section that leads into a hairpin turn with a quick left to exit onto the pavement to work into the back section of the course. Biff. Over cooked it, went wide and my effort was wasted. The group flew by with a counter attack. See ya. I'm done.

Kept churning the pedals in for 4th. Fought a good battle and I was down right excite with that.

Sunday: Temps a little bit warmer at today's start, but the ground a little bit tackier with the light rain overnight. An okay start from the second row, I made up the 20 or so places I was back just after the start of lap 2. Up to 3rd place in 2.5ish laps and working on 2nd. Closing the gap to about 30m on several occasions in the power sections (really me?!? I ain't go no muscle!!), I could taste it.

Working for the podium with 1 to go, I could feel 4th place nipping at my heels. Deep breaths, thinking smooth is fast, I weave through the "snake pit" and work past the pits to the 180 followed by a left right chicane. NO!! NO!! NO!!!!!!!! With a now light rain coming down, my rear wheel slipped a bit causing me to lean hard and hold up a hot second on putting the gas back on in the power section. Boom. 4th place dude makes the pass. Shift up two gear, in the drops and crushing the pedals to close the gap, I can do it! No!! Yes, I can!! No, no I can't as he putting a couple seconds on me leading into the off camber uphill before the run up. Heart break is setting in as I schlep my yellow Mavic shoes up the run up. Roll in, head hanging, feeling crushed.

4th. Two days in a row. Not a bad result, but tasting the podium and then having it slip away is hard.

But wait. I'M NOT DONE YET!!! #CANTSTOPWONTSTOP I'm gonna to get ya Saturday and my stomach is full of anger!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday Night at Gateway Cross Cup in STL

Yesterday was the Gateway Cross Cup in STL Heman Park. Incredible event and a pretty cool venue which made the most of a pretty compact community park. Wednesday racing is a rarity, but no way were we going to miss racing and later catching the UCI.

Got in three laps a couple hours before our race and, man, that was a fast fun course with four dismounts (2 - short stairs, 1 - flyover, 1 - double barrier) and just about as flat of a course as I've raced. Lots of turning, but none very tight or technical and the Grifo's hooked up great. It was almost the anti-Hermann course; I was in trouble as there were a ton of great crit racers in my field...

Early registration for the USAC Open got me a front row on the start grid, got a solid jump (thanks Jim Davis for the photo) and almost got the hole shot coming off the asphalt, but I lost my nerve right before turning off and dropped into third or so into the grass. First lap was pretty quick and was feeling OK (but not great) and the second lap was disastrous; couldn't get my legs to do anything and had little zip which caused an immediate drop of way too many places. By mid-race I got a new breathe of life and felt really good, but the damage was done with all the spots lost earlier. Felt much better the 2nd half of the hour and was able to reel in several in the last laps to finish 20th (of 63 starters). I was OK with that and had a lot of fun. *Side action shot from Dan Singer -*

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Dogfish Cross Starts the Season Off Right

nd just like that it's we're back at...

Jeff Yielding's Dogfish Cross is the kick off to MO's 'cross season and is a restaurant quality event; Jeff and crew go to great lengths to make sure every aspect of the races go off top notch to include seamless registration, great mix of a little everything on the race courses, prizes and swag, and endless entertainment. Now on to the racing.

Ira and I loaded up and made the three hour drive to Hermann is perfect 'cross weather/temps; everything about it just felt 'crossy. The course got some rain earlier in the day but it wasn't sloppy, just a little damp and cool.

Checked into the motel and relaxed a bit before our 8pm start for the Cat 3 race. Back to the venue to roll a couple laps and found everything was pretty tacky and fast. The course was pretty routine (which = awesome) for Hermann Park with a good mix of stuff; especially like the double sand with the low barriers on the turn -nice touch. Course was pretty tacky and nothing slick to speak of. Time flew by and before you know it I was embro'ed up with MWI's own sweet blend (available at team store) and on the line ready to go.

Got a good start and settled into second place off the asphalt and by the time we made a couple turns on the course myself and another guy had a little gap. I passed him leading to the stairs hoping not to get caught up behind a mess and it worked out pretty good as from that point on I had clean driving off the front. After 4 laps (of 8) I had established a healthy lead and settled in to maintain it and with 2 to go I was able to back off the gas some (hoping to save a little to Sunday) and cruise in for the solo win. Picked up the Source Endurance leaders jersey and hopefully would keep it tomorrow. The new carbon wheels and Challenge Grifo's were crazy hooking up and made for such a quicker ride. Everything felt pretty sharp and hopefully a good indicator for the weekend and the season.

*Pactimo has by far a super fit, comfy level, and pro feel and I know the above kit is not the latest, but I simply love the Black SS*

Here is a video circulating from the boys at Airborne; incrediblely done! There's a couple clips of me early, but after that its all of the chasers.

Sunday was nice and laid back as we didn't race until 2pm. We grabbed a little breakfast then headed over to watch the Masters and check out the course. It rained overnight and everything looked a bit slicker than the night before. Back to motel to hang out and then back to race.

Rolled a couple laps before the race and while it wasn't bad there were some slick corners to watch for. Rolled to the line wearing the Source Endurance leaders jersey (target on back) and took by light-hearted ribbing from the others.

Another solid start and led off the pavement where I promptly took out the tape on the first little sweeper (embarrasing). Regained composure (still leading) and put in some good digs to get off the front with a decent gap by the top of the stairs. From there on it was like the day before - ride smooth thru the turns, stomp a bit on straights, and really push the pavement. By the second lap I had a decent lead and maintained it until to top of the stairs with less than 2 to go. BAM, chain gets jacked up in my Pauls catcher and it's time for cool heads. Took a bit but worked it back on just as a Big Shark guy passed me; jump on his wheel and follow until last time up the stairs where I put in a good dig; got a little gap and rode it to the finish for the win.

*Above pics snagged from Jason Watkins and Dan Singer*

By winning both day I won the overall points and snagged some goodies from Tin Mill brewery (good stuff). I wanted to go well at Hermann and it worked out as I hoped. Great catching up with folks I hadn't seen in a while and as always chatting up Jeff.

Soooo, I appears I probably need to punch my Cat 2 license and get it over with. I was hoping to get to race Boss Cross as a 3, but that's not realistic after this weekend. Looks like I will race quite a bit of masters stuff this year with some Open mixed in.

Rest and recovery and get ready to do it again in STL on Wednesday at the Gateway Cross Cup...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kicking off the 'cross season with a.... CRASH!

Well, I'm back home, tired, tired and more tired. It was a good day though with Mike and Paul on the trip down to Chicago. We kicked off the season with Chicago Cross Cup's series opener at Jackson Park.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, as I've never headed to the metropolis of Chicago for the "famed" CCC races. I've seen photos, video and heard lots of stories, but today was my first venture into the Chicago culture. To be honest, it was okay. The racing was fun, don't get me wrong, but lining up 45-50 minutes early for the 4A's was a little ridiculous. And their "strict" 10 wide starting grid was at least 20 wide.

Made for an interesting start though. I must have been somewhere around the 3rd or 4th row, avoided a gnarly crash in the chute and made some ground over the first barrier and into the big downhill swoop. Things were bottle necked here, so put in a big move....dismount and run past 15 stalled riders. Nice.

After that, it was corner, slide, corner, slide, corner. Not much for straight sections to really turn it up and open the legs before the next technical bit. Never felt maxed out, but maybe that was because I had to slow to not take multiple tree branches in the face that were masking parts of the course. I ate mud twice on lap 2 after washing out on the grease that was plentiful around the course with the all day light rain.

Finished 29th on the day, which isn't too shabby considering starting where I did in the sold out field of 100. Upward and onward to USGP next weekend!!! Stoked! Can't wait to rip it up from a solid front row start! Lets get dirty.

Jackson Park Race Report

The 30 percent chance of rain turned into 100 percent by the time the 1, 2, 3 race took off. Heenan and I lined up together in a field of about 40 people, including Scott McLaughlin, Mike Scherer, Kevin Klug, and Mike Hemme. Needless to say, I didn't see those guys again except for when the course doubled back on itself.

The course set up at Jackson was different than previous years, and a lot of fun. Lots of curves and off-camber corners. And with the rain, those corners got greasy quickly.

I slid out twice to the ground. Once, of course, when I started chatting with the the xXx guy I was riding with. Duh, Paul. Ride your damn bike!

There were, though, three downsides to the race. 1. The organizers did not trim any tree branches and ran the course through low-hanging branches. Several times I was clonked on the head with a tree limb and another time scraped across the face by branches.

2. There were very few straight lines in the race and many sections that weren't "regulation" width. So it was very hard to pass and very challenging to get any kind of rhythm going.

3. The official pulled Mike and I on the last lap when the leader was about to win. We had perhaps a minute on him but we still got pulled. I wanted to keep riding, and since Mike was getting close to catching me, he definitely wanted to keep riding. Alas, I finished one place ahead... (no matter that he spent the last 36 hours putting our bikes together and gluing wheels!)

I felt great on the technical aspects of the race: cornering, barriers. The Orbea is an amazing bike. I am definitely lacking in punch power right now, more of a consistent diesel engine.

Some WFQ (Warloski Fun Quotient) points today awarded to myself. I was a little freaked out racing against cat. 1s and local pros. Once they left me behind, though, I just rode my bike. I was pleasantly surprised to feel so good technically.

Glad first race is done. Bring on USGP next weekend in Sun Prairie!! We're racing the 35 plus event, which is just stacked with national talent. It's going to be a slug fest, and I can't wait!!

And did I mention before that I finished one place in front of Mike today? 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

No Longer Around the Corner...'s now smack dab on your doorstep! Are you ready?

Just secured my front row for this...

Took a look this morning at the Gateway Cross Cup (in STL) UCI list and looks like they'll have an all-star line up under the lights - awesome!

Going over a tentative 'cross schedule for my first 8 days of the season and it has me at JY's Dogfish Cross on Sept 17th and 18th (Hermann, MO), at Gateway Cross Cup Sept 21st (STL), and then hitting up Manion's on Sept 24th and 25th (KC, MO). Nothing like baptism by fire... Would have loved to make the trek to Madison for the USGP, but leaving it to the 'northern relatives' to take care of business. The following weekend is Boss Cross 1 & 2 (Sat and Sun in KC), but no information on this yet published.