Holy Crap, How Did That Happen?

I’ve had a less than stellar ‘cross season so far. I felt I was getting worse instead of getting better, not even a little bit better. I was seriously wondering why the hell I keep doing this to myself, $25 or more flushed down the drain every weekend. I finally came to and understanding with myself, I’m not worrying how well I do, I’m now trying to focus on the fun that I’m having rather than how miserable I feel while racing. Cross is miserable for everyone, gotta’ find the fun in it somewhere.

Boulevard Cup was the final race with the all the negativity floating around in my brain. Last week at Smithville Cyclocross Fest saw a more positive performance, and I did much better than the previous races. It was a fun and fast course, especially the beach section, the fastest line was actually in the water, go figure.


Smithville CX Fest's money tree.

I actually wrote out a blog about it but it was just a woe as me essay and didn’t want to bore everyone with it so I didn’t post it. Nobody wants to read someone bitch and moan about how bad they are. You can thank me later.

I finally had my cx bike fit a few days ago, and it looks as if it was the best thing I’ve done since I started racing ‘cross several years ago. Has it really been 3 seasons? Who would have guessed that moving things a few millimeters up and down would make such a difference. The weather has been lousy the last few days and I didn’t have the chance to ride the bike and see if things got better.

I nearly missed the start of the Masters B race, when my left Egg Beater pedal broke, the spring just snapped while I was warming up. Oh shit!! Luckily Joe lent me the pedal off of his pit bike, we got it on just in time. I would have been screwed without it, lots of climbing and it would have been rough with only one shoe clipped in. That’s the second set of Egg Beaters I’ve broken, I’m that powerful!

The whistle sounded and I found myself near the front of the pack, not that big of a deal, I’ve been good at starts lately, my finishes are a different story. I was sitting in third or fourth for much longer than ever before, easily passing people and keeping them behind me, this never happens. Laps came and went and people I passed earlier were still behind me. Again, this NEVER happens. I ended up making a few bike handling issues and several were able to sneak past, but not as many as usual. I’m hoping the difference was in the bike, it might be a bit psychological too, but I’m not too worried about this. What ever it was it seems to have made a hugh difference. 9th place, not to bad.

As is the case with athletes who tend to be a bit superstitious I’m going to see what I can do to keep this new found ability around. I’ll be back in the 2008 State of California Championship skinsuit, same socks, same shoes (new shoes actually Mavic Razor), same pre-race meal… What ever it takes, look out for the California champ, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The California Champion skinsuit was found on ebay, after spotting one when I was in San Francisco in the spring. Yeah, I know I didn’t earn it, but it was a find that was too cool to pass up, $30 and was like new when I got it. Regardless, it made for a great Halloween race costume, plus a blond wig and a puka shell necklace. (hopefully someone has pictures and will be posted when found) All bets and norms are off when it comes to Halloween costumes. I was glad to see others raced in costumes too; there were roller girls, lots of tatts and fishnets, Clark Kent, several skeletons. I wish there were more, but it was better than nothing. It seems like the lower your classification the higher the odds you would see someone in a costume. I was the only one in the 3/4 race, and there were none in the open races. Lame!



Bringing sexy back!

Speaking of superstions, I haven’t washed my bike or my pink Black Sheep kit since the season started. I’m not sure if this has helped or hurt my chances or if I’m just lazy.


Roller Girls!!

Sexy Roller Girls!!

Speaking of the 3/4 race. I was feeling so good about my first race I felt that a second race was in order. I missed the window for the mens 4 race, so I signed up for the 3/4 race instead. I soon had a feeling that this was a really bad idea. That feeling turned out to be true as soon as the race began. I was in last place in seconds, and would be there for the next 45 minutes. After getting blown away at the start my hopes of anything good quickly disappeared, it became a personal challenge to see how I could do against guys who are much better than I am. I held off getting lapped for about half the race. By then I was hopping to get pulled, but each time I rolled past the officials they kept showing me the number of laps left. I’d yell something, but they kept showing me the lap board. I realized that they weren’t pulling me, despite how slow I was going but short of stopping they were going to make me finish. It was a small field and I wasn’t causing any traffic jams. I was in it for the duration, and I couldn’t bring myself to quit. I was positive I was getting a DFL but somehow finished 16th out of 18. I’m not sure how that happened, and I don’t care. I might revisit the 3/4 category in the future, but it will be some time before that happens, I’m sticking with the Masters B, maybe a Masters A here and there but it’s B races for now.

Post-race meal of champions.

Post-race meal of champions.


* I didn’t make it to Lawrence, I went out with friends, two robots actually Halloween night and didn’t make it home until quite late, even including the extra hour with the time change. Getting up early and driving all the way to Lawrence just didn’t sound like the thing to do this morning, catching up on some well needed sleep seemed to be the wise thing to do. There is plenty of racing to do this season and missing one race isn’t a big deal. The race next Saturday is at night under the lights at a race track, it sounds really fun! Then the Destad Cup continues Sunday and I’m working my way up the points list, so I’ll be there too.

Boss Cross Mud Run

There are some people who are willing to pay good money to visit a spa and have mud slathered all over their bodies, then there are others who skip the spa visit and enter a cyclocross race and end up with just as much mud on them at end and pay a whole lot less.

Boss Cross yet again takes the prize for the worst conditions of the season, a title that isn’t set in stone, there are 3 more races this season.  If you thought Boss Cross II in November was bad, Boss Cross III was even worse, the only upside was it much warmer.  Both were a muddy mess, testing your endurance and sanity.  

Spinning beats while spinning in the mud.

Spinning beats while spinning in the mud.

I’d actually been looking forward to this race for months, I worked for an IT company and my office overlooked the park where this race is held every year.  It sat there and taunted me all summer.   There’s nothing worse that being mid July and dreaming of cx season, seemingly so far away. 

I managed to break several of my new rules for this season; I stayed out til 3 am drinking with friends at our annual holiday drink-a-thon, once home I couldn’t fall asleep, I got up late and had a less than ideal breakfast, and then I didn’t pre ride the course.  I aimlessly rode around checking a few areas of the course just to see where the tough spots might be (turns out everything that wasn’t on pavement was the tough spots.)

Looking nice and clean.

Looking nice and clean.

Despite my total lack of preperation I felt surprisingly strong and fast, I managed to get a really good start but got pushed into the tape on the first tight corner, crap.  I was able to free myself and was able to make my way back up to where I was before I went into the tape.  I was passing people like a mad man and feeling really strong despite riding in mud deeper than my rims, after all there was a beer prime for the fastest first lap.  I stumbled a bit in the sand pit loosing my chain loosing several places fixing the trouble.  Again, I was able to make my way back to my previous spot, still feeling strong I was able to pick off a few more guys.  Maybe I should keep disregarding my training regiment and race day preparation routine.


No longer clean.

Things just seemed to go my way, I was able to find rideable lines hugging the tape. The center of the lanes were already chewed up and nearly unrideable.   I was unsure what I should half the times, should I spend my energy spinning in the mud finding an occasional clean line or should I get off and run the stupid thing, something I really dislike.  (I took up cycling so I didn’t have to run.)  The course kept getting worse by the minute, eventually I had little choice and had to run.  I’ve never ran that much in a cx race, insane.  It looked like the cx races I watch on Crosstube in Portland or Belgium all we were missing was rain.


Ultimate question, run or ride?

Things then went to hell, I managed to do an impressive endo crossing a drainage ditch with a good 6 inches of water and mud at least as deep.  Things got squirrely at the bottom of the ditch and before I knew what happened I had finished a summersault that would make an olympic gymnast proud and lost the chain yet again, f@#k!  

I made my way back to my previous spot, again.  Not paying attention to my computer so I had no real idea of how long we had been riding but I knew we were doing at least 3 laps, the course was extremely long and extremely slow.  I was really pissed when I noticed they were pulling people at the start / finish line, my plans were shot to hell, I had my sights on several more guys I knew I could catch if give another lap.  Sure I was covered in mud as was my bike from trudging through ankle deep mud but was feeling so good I didn’t care I just wanted to keep fighting my way ahead.  Who knows how things would have turned out if I didn’t have to play catch up nearly the whole race, but it’s ‘cross and things like that happen.  It turns out we were averaging 20 minute laps.  All in all, it was my best race of the season, but without much to show for it.


mud and blood

mud and blood

It was so much fun, Brian brought out the Pugsly, totally ridiculous but he was able to float over areas where normal cx tires couldn’t go, perfect for the sand pits and soupy mud. Plus, Jeremy had his turn tables spinning vintage vinyl, pumping out some dope beats from on top of a motor coach.

The Pugsley.

The Pugsley, not as ridiculous as first thought.


Much like pimpin’ cyclocross ain’t easy, especially when it’s snowing.  The flakes began to fall yesterday but didn’t stick since the ground was too warm, overnight the ground temp. dropped enough for the snow to begin to accumulate, it’s nothing much, just enough to cover the grass. However all the melted snow made the ground soggy and the grass was quickly chewed up and turned to mud over nearly the entire course. Finally, a down and dirty, cold as f@&k cyclocross race.  Boss Cross II was not for the timid or week of heart.


Climbing the run-up in the new BSC jersey. Pretty boss, eh?

The weather really scared off a good deal of the field, most categories were about half the size as the turnout the last few weeks, fair weather cyclists I suppose, probably at the mall.  It’s their loss, ‘cross is at it’s best in nasty weather.  It was obvious that things were going to be a challenge as soon as the first race went off.  It looked like they were going in slow motion, and half of the field was running their bike instead of riding.  It was at that moment everyone knew things were not going to be easy.  But, cyclocross isn’t easy, it wouldn’t be any fun if it was easy. 

Eventually our race rolls around and we’re off, things go well up the asphalt road then you hit the off road area and sink into mud that’s deeper than your rims, your in your granny gear and your back wheel just spins, nothing for the knobbies to grab onto, you soon realize why it looked like the previous race was going in slow motion and your gonna be doing a lot of running, pushing and carrying.  It’s gonna be a long race, hope your good at shouldering your bike.

So far this season it has been about speed and power, today it’s all about bike handling. Who ever stays upright and avoids stupid mistakes will prevail, a very technical race.  I battled it but found myself on the ground far too often. All of the good lines quickly disappeared and the course was riddled with very tight turns especially in the off chamber sections, if you were able to stay upright you spent most of the time with one leg out trying to navigate the turns.  

I’d have to say, this was possibly the best time I’ve had at a ‘cross race this season, you guys who pussed out missed a great race.  Sure it was cold and my fingers went numb and my bike and I were covered in mud.  But damn, it was so much fun! Plus, I got to break out the new Black Sheep Cartel jersey, it’s bad ass, it looks great, pink and black and covered in mud!


p.s. Craig, if your reading this, let this serve as your warning, I will get you back for that snowball to the side of my head.

Hippies & Halloween

So much for the plans many of us made this week.  With Halloween (by the way, the best holiday of the year) falling on a Friday and two races scheduled for this weekend, many of us choose to go out Friday night and celebrate Halloween with friends and have a good time, sleep off our hangovers on Saturday, skipping Boss Cross I at Tiffany Springs Park.  Feeling refreshed no longer reeking of booze and candy corn then race Sunday at the Sunflower Cyclocross Race at Clinton Lake State Park.  It’s difficult enough to get one’s lazy ass out of bed the morning of any race, but compounding Halloween on top of that is just too much to take.  ‘Cross can be miserable enough but racing with a hangover isn’t any fun, trust me.

Come to find out the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has put a hold on all special events at Clinton Lake State Park for the rest of the year, and likely into 2009, (only days before the scheduled cyclocross race). This affects the cyclocross race planned for Sunday. All special events (even those held on paved areas) have been put on hold “to allow the park grounds to sufficiently recover from the Wakarusa Music Festival”.  Stupid hippies!  Who knew jam bands are bad for the environment?

This is the lamest excuse I’ve heard in a long time. The Wakarusa Music Festival was in early June, nearly six months ago.  Plus they have had many other events at Clinton Lake since, a few triathlons, and the Chris Cross International Cyclocross Race in early October.  The park and grounds looked fine, races have little impact on the grounds especially since it has been dry, it’s difficult to tell anything has ever happened a few days after the event.  If you had come to Chris Cross you would have never know that there was a huge music festival was held there several months ago.   If they were concerned about the state of their grounds post festival you would think they would deny access soon after the festival, not six months later. 

Maybe having a weekend off isn’t such a bad idea.  The Smithville races really took it out of me, four races in two days was exhausting and took several days for the aches and pains to go away.  Neither the Sunflower race or Boss Cross I are a part of the De Stad Cyclocross Van Kansas Series so if we miss these races it will not affect our series points.  Somehow I’ve managed to rack up enough points to find myself 6th in the Masters Mens 35+ B group, cat 4 isn’t quite as impressive, 63rd but it’s a much bigger group.

There should be no excuse to have a bad day at the Veterans Cross next weekend in Leavenworth KS. 

Hopefully the Black Sheep in Charlotte have a bit more discipline and not spend their weekend drinking beer and eating leftover fun sized candy bars while dressed in ridiculous costumes.

NCCX race #4, Lenior Cyclocross is in Lenior, NC, Sunday Nov 2.  

Good luck guys, Cartel power!!