Thursday, January 12, 2012

Colt Says MWI Best CX Team...

... based on the FUN Factor (when you are a non-pro squadra what else is there)!

Watch more video of Who's #1? Cyclocross Rankings 2011/2012 on

Mike, Jessica, and everyone else who has fired up the propane heaters, popped up a pole, or dipped up a bowl of chili for a visitor at 'The Compound' all I can say is THANKS, you guys ROCK!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

One Day After - CX Nationals

The results were not as good as I had hoped: 37th after a starting spot of 36.

And the end came way too soon as the overzealous USA Cycling official pulled a large group of us that were more than half the course in front of the leaders.

But it was still a pretty successful race.

I started in the fifth row and moved up a lot in the first three minutes. The course was in horrible shape: Deep frozen ruts were throwing guys' bikes every which way. There was a lot of broken tape on that first lap.

Somehow, though, I rode through a lot of the carnage. I was riding stupid maybe, not really thinking or caring about the likelihood of crashing. I just pedaled the bike.

I was probably in the top 20 and moving up through the first pit. I even passed people going up the hill.

A rider who had crashed early came up behind me early on the hill and caught a rut. He apologized as he ran into me.

I, though, caught a rut too, and crashed into the tape. Unfortunately, I was in a big gear and then had to run all the way up the hill.

Game over.

Most of the field passed me. I got back on at the top and was a little tentative then.

By the start of the second lap, I was feeling more confident, and could ride the ruts decently. And by the third lap, I was riding stupid again, turning off the thinking, even when Dave. E crashed hard in front of me.

I was feeling great on the third lap, passing a lot of people and gliding through the now melting ruts.

That's when I got pulled. And that's why I was so bitter. Just when I was feeling good...

I had a few words for the official, but wisely moved away before I said anything really stupid. I was fired up, though.

I ended the season on a positive note, knowing full well what I need to work on for the next year. I'll do another post for on my season and what I've learned from this process.

It's been a good year. I'll leave it at that and move past the bitterness and not being able to race another lap!

It's definitely been a good year.

Now it's time to go watch the elite women and men rip up the course.

Friday, January 6, 2012

One Day to Go...

I'm trying to keep calm today. It's sort of working!

By this time tomorrow, I will be done with my first ever national cyclocross championship race.

At least I'm ready for the post-race: I bought some Scotch and some cigars to enjoy while cheering on the other Saturday racers.

I drove to Madison last night for a brief visit to the CX Magazine party to meet publisher Andrew Yee. He's been kind enough to publish my column this fall about how to stay focused and positive in recovering after  my bike-truck crash two years ago.  

It was cool to hear Andrew talk about the future of the magazine. Its arrival is always a treat, and I've been honored to write for them.

I didn't get a chance to meet Molly Hurford, an online editor, or Josh Liberles, the editor, but I hope to meet them during the rest of the weekend.

The Madison trip was also about getting my numbers and sign my registration. I didn't want to worry about it today.

I just want to leave school as early as I can today, drive to Badger Prairie, pre-ride the course after the fast masters' women finish, and do nothing but eat and rest for the rest of the evening.

It's been a bit of a challenge to remain focused here at school. I really should have taken a personal day, but I used it to travel to Cincinnati to race. Trade-offs.

I'm writing now like I feel: a lot of nervous energy. So I'll try to immerse myself in school work for the next 20 minutes until the kids show up for class.

Fergie said to expect the energy level of the race to be high, especially at the start. I want to line up behind Dave E. since a) he's a big guy with a big draft and b) he usually gets fast starts and moves to the front quickly. Dave, you ready?

I'm a six-cylinder diesel engine that for one day is going to pretend he's a 12-cylinder turbo-charged diesel that takes no prisoners.

Fire it up. We got to 11 tomorrow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Two Days to Stay Calm

Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012

I'm trying to stay calm.

In two days, I'll race my first nationals cross race. I have zero chance of winning, but I have, if everything goes perfectly, a decent chance of finishing in the top 20.

I've been doing everything I can this week to rest, recover, and mentally prepare.

And while I've been telling myself and anyone who would listen that it's just another race, I'm lying. It's nationals.

It's a bit of a circus now in Verona, right outside Madison, and I wish I was there. I check my twitter feed constantly between classes, and I keep the tab open at all times.

mwi cross teammate Patti Kaufmann, who does have a legitimate shot at winning a jersey today, goes off this afternoon.

Her 15-year-old son Ian Haupt, The Talent, rides tomorrow afternoon in the 15-16 junior category. He too has a legitimate shot at winning a jersey.

Me? I'm an old guy who has never been terribly fast, and who now has a gimpy leg as an excuse. But I still want to ride my brains and guts out. I want to leave nothing out on the course Saturday morning.

So today I'm spending as much time as possible visualizing me racing Saturday morning. I'm rehearsing what I'll say to myself if things are going really well, and I'm rehearsing what I'll say if the race is a disaster.

In the past, when I've trained for a peak, the race has been awful. The nervous energy and self-pressure added 30 pounds to my bike.

I'm physically ready, and I'll be rested and recovered by Saturday. I'm going to wear out the recovery tights, wearing them constantly at school and traveling. I have a bed set up for Friday night in Fergie's basement. He's racing at the same time, so I won't wake anyone with coffee and breakfast.

I'm planning the warmup routine on Saturday morning. What time I'll get there, what time to start warming up on the trainer. I'll pack all my clothing tonight so it's ready. I want to do this race as well as I possibly can.

Yesterday, I visited Dr. Matt, my chiropractor. I'll visit him again tomorrow morning.

Today, though, is all about mental rest and rehearsal. Visualizing smiling with righteous anger when I'm climbing that hill in the mud, visualizing picking off one guy after another in a slow progression to the front.

Truly, I will be satisfied with 50th if I race as hard as I can. If I'm slow, I'm slow. If I finish 14th, that's great too.

So be it.

Just so you know, I'm adding a little snarl and anger into the mental rehearsal, though. Get out of my way because I'm not using those brakes much, and I'll be taking a lot of risks, especially in that downhill section.

Behind that smile, then, will be one fired-up, old, gimpy-legged, angry dude, who knows this is the last race of the year, and I've got nothing to lose.

Monday, January 2, 2012

It’s Always a Good Day to Ride: Near End-Season Blues and Re-Focus-Ation

Since cxmagazine isn't publishing this...

It’s Always a Good Day to Ride
Mid-Season Blues and Re-Focus-Ation

by Paul Warloski

All season I’ve been racing above my weight class in the 30 or 35 plus events.

I chose that mostly to race with (and against) my teammates, but also to improve my and USA Cycling score. Supposedly the system rewarded racing in more challenging fields.

That didn’t work out so well. After tough races in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Jingle Cross, my score showed that I’m sucking more now than in the middle of the season.

Nice. Just in time for New Year’s Resolution,and Nationals.

I will admit it: I’ve lost focus on the WFQ (Warloski Fun Quotient).  I’ve been wanting, as we all do, for the giant efforts of training to start paying off in results.

That hasn’t been happening.

I’m blaming it on fatigue. I’ve been racing a lot, school has been challenging, and I’ve putting in a lot of work into promoting our Wisconsin series and the mwi cross team races.

It started at the Halloween race at Washington Park. Some kind of stomach bug hit me, and I felt awful, pulling out of the 1, 2 race after two laps. I didn’t travel to Sheboygan the next day so I could rest.

A group of us traveled to Cincinnati Thursday night for the Cincy3 events. We arrived very late to our gracious host’s condo. The course Friday was probably the most physically demanding I’ve ever done. It was all steep uphills and downhills and mud. In a tough field, I managed to fight for 12th until untimely crashes helped me finish 18 of 30-some.

I didn’t feel great Saturday but did alright, and on Sunday, I did the 2 / 3 race to ride with my teammates. Crashes again put me at the back.

I got home Sunday night at midnight and got to sleep by 1, up at 5 to ride to school. So by the time I recovered, I was driving to Louisville! The racing in Louisville, though, was unbelievably awesome. The course was epic, and the scene electric.

I started both days of the 35 plus in the sixth row. I rode strongly both days, but crashed a lot again. My left leg has a bunch of cuts, gouges, bruises, and scrapes.

On Sunday, I rode to Bandman Park from the Ramada. On the way, I saw a bunch of the cat 2/ 3 racers warming up on the road. They were all focused and intense.

I realized at the moment I had become way too intense. I am a 48-year-old dude with a “leg with character scars” who is not going to be a pro any time soon!

I tried to race Sunday with a smile. I found myself able to chase down a lot of people and pass them. Then I would crash. Chase, and crash a second time. Both crashes were dumb driver errors, and while I felt a little better that even seasoned pros like Tim and Ryan crashed on the course, I’m still sick of crashing.

At the Wisconsin state championship, I wanted do well, maybe even end up on the 45 plus podium.  I worked all week on simply remembering that it was just another chance to ride my cross bike! I practiced breathing a lot, thinking that by relaxing I could be smoother.

The first half lap went pretty well at states. Then I just started going backwards. There was no power in the power room, and Commander Scotty from Star Trek was nowhere to be seen. And to make matters worse, as I was sucking badly, none of my teammates offered me a beer handup! A tragic travesty, I tell you.

Jingle Cross was a muddy mess. I tore off my derailleur in the Sunday race. If I can ride up that hill, I’m fine, but if it requires running, it’s just not much fun for me.

And Badger Cross, held on the nationals course, was pretty good. The course is not technical enough for me, but it’s still pretty fun. And I’m stoked nationals is coming to our backyard.

So lately, I’ve been racing and resting. I’m riding to school every day, continuing with the maintenance lifting, and doing a few sprints and jumps for the weekend’s race. There is still three big races left this season, and I don’t want to be in any kind of hole. Or if I’m already in a hole, I want to at least be able to suck in style!

I smiled at a race again finally at an after-season race down in Chicago. The Afterglow, held in a Chicago park, was snowy, muddy, and way early in the morning. I had a blast that day, racing most of the event with my teammate Ross through sand, mud, snow, and some crazy off-camber drops onto a beach.

In Louisville, I had a chance to talk with Georgia Gould a bit. Georgia, as you know, is a world-class cyclist, but cheers on everyone from juniors to old cat. 4s. She was even cheering for me in Cincinnati and in Louisville.

Georgia, as you may also know, had a tough cross season. She raced a full mountain bike campaign this year, and she was clearly running on fumes for the cross season. She started the whole “heckle me” as a way of at least making her poor results fun. Everyone got nervous on Sunday when Georgia found a megaphone while she was heckling everyone else!

Georgia, again, has made the best out of a potentially bad situation. She could complain about a lack of form or fitness or that she’s too tired from the mountain bike season, but she doesn’t. She says she’s just out riding as hard as she can right now, and she started the heckling competition to inject some fun.

Maybe that’s what I need: more heckling. As a member of the my wife inc team, the best heckling I got was last year at the Sun Prairie USGP when a woman I didn’t know told me “your wife wants her entry money back because you’re going too slow!” And I’m not even married!

I’ve been getting a ton of support this year with people shouting “Go Paul” everywhere on the courses I’ve raced. Maybe they see my leg and its “character scars” and feel sorry for me that I’m going so damn slow? Maybe I just need more heckling so I’m laughing while I ride.

This is, after all, a sport where grown men and women ride bicycles through mud, snow, grass, dirt, over barriers, and call it fun.

How can you take that too seriously, especially when it’s not my livelihood?

I’ll be at the New Year’s Resolution race in Chicago and ending the season at Nationals at the Badger Prairie course in Verona.

Bring a cowbell, and please offer some creative heckles. If it’s mean-spirited, I’ll run my bike over your feet. But if you make me laugh, you and I both win.  

Day Two

At least birthday boy Mike Heenan had a great ride, finishing 7th in the 30 plus!

My race, though, was SLOW. I felt slow. Rode slow. Was so slow in fact that superfan Mabel asked me if I was riding a practice race! Yes, Mabel, clearly I was.

So glad I have one more race on Saturday to make up for the weekend. I'm going to sleep a lot, eat right, and be ready to go.

One more for the road!