Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Training Ride

I went on my first ride with the Crazy Bastards last night. It was very warm ride, with temps well into the 50F's even at the end of the ride. We were out for around 2 hours. I rode my cross bike, which performed flawlessly. Dan, Scott and Chip were there from the team and Danielle was there as well. I think there were about 15 riders in all. I guess a bunch of people went to Honey Creek after the ride, but I had to help Dan move some stuff so I had to pass.

I guess they do this ride all winter long, in any weather, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm not sure if I'll do it tomorrow, since we are supposed to get some kind of major winter storm. We'll see...

First 'long' ride of the season on tap for Saturday. I have to take another look at my training calendar, now that I won't be doing Trans-Iowa. Not sure if there will be any chance, but it is something that must be evaluated.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bad News

What a bummer! It turns out that Trans-Iowa 3 is being held on the one weekend in April that I am not available to race. I have a very important family event that day that cannot be rescheduled. I really wanted to do that race, but it just isn't going to work out.

On the plus side, I'll get to do this Dirt, Sweat & Gears thing down in Tennessee. Dan and Danielle will be going down there as well, so Michigan should be in the money in a few categories.

I managed to get my cross bike put back together. It didn't suffer as much as I thought from the mud and the crash on Sunday. I did have to rebuild the Candy pedals. I hope I got all those bushings and seals back in there correctly. I guess I'll find out tomorrow when I ride with these folks.

Here is a pic from the race in Sunday:

I love these cross pictures! I look so fast; just goes to show you can't believe everything you see on the internet. I like this shot in particular because it shows 1. slightly bent brake levers from the crash and 2. me hard on the *front* brake in a tight right-hander. Not smart, but when all you got is front brake, it's front brake you use.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cross Nonsense

Why do I keep tormenting myself? I went out to the last 'normal' KissCross race today. The course did not favor me; lot of pavement and not much technical riding. I was sitting ok at the end of the first lap, somewhere in the top 15. At the second set of barriers, right in front of all the spectators, I managed to slip off my pedal during the dismount and crash hard. Both levers were twisted on the bar and packed with mud, as I had been hard on the brakes coming up to the barriers. It was a total rookie mistake.

I managed to get the front brakes working, but the rears were rubbing bad. After fussing with them for a few minutes, I just unhooked the brakes and rode without them. I really wanted to quite, but I quite the last cross race and felt like crap afterwards. So I put my head down, and decided to do whatever it took not to come in DFL or DNF.

In the end, I achieved my goal. I think I passed four people, including one guy on a mountain bike that I beat right at the line.

Since this was the last race of the season, Rick gives away a bunch of schwag. I scored big-time; a Velocity cross/29er wheelset and some Kenda CX tires! That more than made up for the flat tire I had to change...on my car! Thanks to Nate and Scott for the help fixing that flat.

It is looking more and more like I will head over to Waterford this coming weekend for the cross race. I'm gonna try and bluff my way into the A race, even thought I don't have any kind of race license. A bunch of people took pictures at the race today; if I can track them down I'll link to them or post them here.

In other news: Vote over at the Snob's site and check out the latest info on Trans-Iowa 3.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving Week Rides

It was a good week for riding. The weather was warm and sunny, exactly NOT what you should expect in Michigan in November.

I rode with a good group of folks Thanksgiving morning. A couple of hours of urban trails were tackled. Nothing special, but it was good to get out and stretch the legs. After that, it was off to the in-laws for some fabulous eats. Good times...

No riding yesterday, but I made it over to the new trail in Greenville today. Many of the same people from the first ride, with a few new faces as well. Scott showed up, and we ended up riding away from the rest of the group. Not intentional, but that is the way it went. The trail was very twisty, with some nice ledges, stunts and log piles. I went down hard twice; chalk it up to the first technical ride on the new bike.

On that note, the new bike worked very well. I am starting to get a feel for what the bike can and can't do. It lives up to the 29er hype; it kills the sand, has great traction in the turns and while climbing, and it rolls over stuff like nothing else. It does take longer to get up to speed, and my build is not super-light. Without spending too much money or sacrificing durability, I can drop a couple pounds for race day.

Cross race tomorrow; don't know if I will do it or not. Planning on riding Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday next week. That includes the first 'long' training ride of the season--a three hour lsd ride. Can you smell Iowa, off in the distance? I can.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ft. Custer

Did a nice off-season ride today at Ft. Custer. Dan and I made the trip. The weather was cool and we got to experience some snow, but it was not too cold to enjoy the ride. The trail was in great shape. We were going to take a few pictures, but the battery in the camera died.

The big wheels were great. The fort has a little bit of everything; twisty stuff, rocks and roots, some sand and one notable climb. We rode for about two hours. My legs are feeling it now. I'm sure I'll be stiff tomorrow.

We discussed the 2007 race season. Things are still up in the air, but I hope to have some tentative dates up on the site by the first of the year. We are going to try and hit some of the same races to share travel costs. More on this later.

Another light week of riding on tap. The riding will start to pick up again the first weekend in December. I might drive over for some cross race in Detroit that weekend, or I might just start hitting the long rides. It's hard to believe that soon I will be back to double-digit riding weeks. Iowa is only five months away...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Off Season

Novermber (after Iceman) is the off-season. I try to ride as little as possible. Since I started my new job on Monday, not riding has been pretty easy. There was a 'cross ride on Thursday, but I had a meeting that ran late in Hastings. I think there might be a ride tomorrow, but if I'm not sure.

The new job is working out great.

Training on the bike starts again in December. Got to get ready for TIv3; my hope is that they pick Option 1 or Option 3. I won't be able to attend if they go with Option 2.

Comments are now visible; there was just too much wisdom there to keep it to myself.

Some new bike news might be forthcoming soon. I know, it's like a regular bike cornicopia around here lately. Stay tuned for more details.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Club Poto

"Tonight, at Club Poto, we've got DJ Dangerous Dan, MC Farmer and Joe 2 Slo in the mix. Someone will bring sexy back, someone doesn't know your name but seems to like you *alot* and someone keeps looking at your bumps. Or is that "lumps"? It's hard to say..."

Nate, Dan and I went to the Poto for a couple of laps on Wednesday. The plan was to leave GR around 1pm, ride a lap during the day and then throw on lights and ride a lap at night. I was in because I had assurances that we would ride easy; it is the OFF SEASON! So I was running a nice 2-1 on my 29er. Nate was running his Iceman gear (which is around a 52-16, maybe a little easier) and Dan was running one tooth easier than his Iceman gear. Yeah, this is gonna be an easy ride.

In fact, the pace was not that bad, except on the hills. I had to work pretty hard on the hills even with the gear I was running and pace I was going; those guys were crushing the hills on those monster gears. Riding with national-caliber singlespeeders is a good way to get faster, but it is a guaranteed way to feel S-L-O-W.

There are a bunch of bridges on the Poto trail. The first half-dozen were fine; a bit wet but traction was not a problem. The seventh bridge was like ice. Dan was leading, and went down like someone hit him in the face with a baseball bat. I grabbed a double-handful of brake and instantly hit the deck. Nate was able to stop before he hit the bridge, which is good because he would have ploughed my under Farmer-Style. No permanent harm done, although I am sporting lots of bruises, scrapes, etc. and I still can't lift my left arm above my head.

We finish the lap, mount up our lights and head out for lap 2.

We get about a mile in and Dan notices that his front hub sounds like a chupacabra eating a handful of gravel. Some people like those American Classic wheelsets; they are light and the price is right. But I don't know anyone that has used them that hasn't replaced bearings at least once. Anyway, Dan wasn't about to try and tame the hungry chupacabra, so we headed back to the trailhead and packed it in.

The ride back was quite an experience. Both Dan and I had our ipods, so the station wagon was rocking and make no mistake. We had both kinds of music; country AND western. Emperor Justin T, nails that were well over 8.5 inches, some very dark-eyed vegetables, etc. And some songs with guitars. Good times.

We stopped at Michigan Brewing Company for some chilie. Hot, or more precisely ((HOT))! I still can't taste anything. The guys had a beer or two, and provided entertainment for the rest of the patrons; I watched, since someone had to run the music on the way home. We finished off the evening at Founder's.

Tomorrow it is psychocross, where the DDX will first turn a pedal in anger. If I get lapped I'm gonna get my money back. Otherwise I'm not really riding bikes for the rest of the month. Doing a little running, and eating all the stuff that I eat all year long, but not feeling guilty about it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bring the Pain

A friend of a friend took this picture. It does a good job of summing up the Iceman experience. Snow is falling, I have my typical grimace of pain, and you can see my fancy handlebars. That is the Iceman.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Not much to say about this race. I felt slow at the start. I was able to get in the top six or so riders at the start, but I ran out of gas pretty early. My legs felt heavy and I was concerned that I had too big a gear. A bunch of riders passed me. As I warmed up, I felt faster and started catching a few people. Then I hit Tornado Ally, and there was a line of 30 or so "expert" riders ahead of me. I didn't want to pass in the thorn bushes, so I waited it out. By the time I got through there, I had some anger to motivate me. I felt faster as the race went on, and I passed more people and very rarely got passed.

I caught quite a few singlespeed riders near the end. Someone passed me within the last two miles, so I jumped on his wheel. We traded off until the last hill, where I gave it everything I had to make it into the singletrack at the end. There was tons of traffic, so I assumed the rider behind me was just sitting in and waiting for his chance. Sure enough, he slipped by me right at the line.

In the end, I was 13th out of 94 riders. My goal was to be in the top 10, and if I had gone 40 seconds faster I would have made it. Maybe next year.

The bike worked great. I am looking forward to getting more miles on the big wheels.

The rest of the team and friends did great. Nate won the ss race, Dan was 7th in Pro on his ss, and Danielle won the Women's ss race. Others also did well, with many top 10 age group finishes.

Now it is time to relax for a month, then start working on next year.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Two More Days

Things are looking up. Brake pads have been changed, my back feels about 95%, the snow is starting to fall; looks to be a good Iceman.

I'll be taking it easy today. Bags will be packed and pasta will be eaten.

Be sure to check here for some great pictures of the Halloween ride.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Iceman Curse

I've been doing the Iceman for quite a few years. I never seem to have a good race up there, but I keep going because it is the last race of the season and I am an eternal optimist. However, I now look for the thing that is going to derail my race, which I imagine is something of a self-fulfilling prophesy.

So I made some changes to the new bike. I put on a different stem with more negative rise, the Jones HBars and a Specialized FastTrak tire on the front. Then I headed out to Cannonsburg Ski Area for a shakedown. The bike worked great! The FastTrak sticks like glue, and the increased leverage and lower bar height provided by the new setup made climbing easier. I was very pleased.

I didn't want to put in too hard an effort, so one lap was all I planned to do. There is one tough climb on the East side of the course; I rarely make it on the 26er. The course is very grippy right now, and I understand that the 29er wheel has good traction, so I gave it some gas and attempted to clean the hill. Good news: I made it, and I think I had a bit to spare. Bad news, just before the top of the climb, I felt something 'pull' in my lower back. It hurt, but not in a ride-ending sort of way. I got off the bike and stretched a bit; sure enough, the back is sore when I bend. Ah, so *that* is what will keep off the podium this year....

I took a bunch of advil yesterday, and the back feels fine for day-to-day stuff. I went on the Kiss Kross Halloween ride without a problem. It seems like the back is fine for up to 80% efforts. Of course, Iceman requires 110% efforts. I will give the race everything I've got. I just hope that whatever I did is minor enough that the four weeks I'll be off the bike after Iceman is good enough to heal it up.

Taking it easy for the next few days. Driving up to TC on Friday for a short pre-ride. Then race Saturday, post-race parties, then home Sunday. Race report to follow.