The Brain Fog

I don’t know about you but I find myself in mental fog after most races, and this happens even before I start drinking my malted barley recovery beverages.  Not to be confused with Purple Haze, brain freeze, or Errol Morris’s The Fog of War, I’m talking about the temporary mental impairment I find myself in after every race.  Things are a bit fuzzy, it’s difficult to concentrate, throw in a bit of tunnel vision to boot, and don’t even try to have a deep meaning conversation.  Listening to people talk almost sound like the trombone whaa whaa whaa from the old Peanuts cartoons.  I like to find a nice spot and watch the colors go by while drinking a few cold beverages trying to figure out what I did with my car keys, trying to remember where the car is and finding the nearest Chiptole.IMG_0913

Grand Prix HPT – sat

Nothing is more exciting than racing under the lights and in a ⅜ mile clay oval at Heartland Park Topeka. Sure the long ass drive to Topeka sucks, but it was worth it.  I believe this was the first time I have ever had a reason to be in Topeka, I’ve driven through before, If your going to Colorado it’s difficult not to drive through it.  Anyway, the race was a blast, it takes a while to get comfortable on the track.  The cars create these little bb sized pellets, “marbles” that can be difficult to navigate before the lines get formed, especially difficult when cornering with any speed.  The feeling of coming in the track at the far end  and tearing down the front straight was incredible.

track

Well lit in some areas, not so much in others.

The lighting inside the oval proved to be problematic, at least to me.  Having multiple light sources create multiple sets of shadows.  I kept thinking I had someone on my wheel only to find that it was only one of my many shadows.  The extra flood lights they added to the remander of the course didn’t quite cover everything, there were a few spots where you had to hold on tight and hope for the best.

Veterans ‘Cross – sun

It seems that this weekend was sponsored by the Kansas Turnpike, Saturday night in Topeka, and then turn around and drive to Leavenworth for Veterans ‘Cross Sunday morning.  In all, a total of 275 miles were driven in the name of cyclocross over the weekend.

The weather could not have been nicer, 70 degrees in November, can’t say no to that.  I’m still holding out for a good wet, sloppy race, maybe this weekend.  The races at the University of St Mary are always tough, there are always lots of climbing and the grass seems to be as thick as green shag carpeting.  You can just feel the energy getting sucked out of your legs.

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Nate making it look easy.

I had thought that this season was a lost cause, I was not pleased with my first several races, but I’ve seemed to have turned things around.  Thanks to pre-registration I was able to get a front row call up and was able to get a great start up the bumpy ass brick road and found myself sitting in fourth place for quite some time, it’s really interesting to see a race with only three people in front of you rather that everyone but three in front of you.  I have to say I quite like the change, however I manage to usually go and do something dumb and it all goes for naught. This time I took a turn to wide and got caught up in the tape and the stake holding the tape got wedged in my fork.  Frantically trying to extricate myself I saw my great start slowly circling around getting flushed down the toilet.  I managed to get a few spots back, but could never get back up with the leaders.  One of these days I’ll put together a complete race with doing something stupid.

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SRAM fans.

ct

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday…

Sunday was the last race in the De Stad Cross Cup / Kansas State Cyclocross Championships held on the campus of St. Mary’s College in Leavenworth, KS.  Side note, you may have read about St. Mary’s College lately, last season their mens basketball program has refused to play with a female officiating their games. You could have not asked for a nicer day in November for a race, it was a bit brisk early on in the day but by mid afternoon it had warmed up enough to shed a few layers, it’s always tricky to figure out just how to dress this time of the season. Plus the weather can be completely different when you leave Kansas City and arrive in Leavenworth.   

The course was unique thanks to the layout of St Mary’s campus; tree lined brick roads, ponds full of dsc01005geese, “The Mound of Mercy” a big dirt run up thanks to ongoing construction, a unique and maddening corkscrew maze near the grave yard, there’s something you don’t see at most races, on the far side of the course.  And enough leaves on the ground to make you feel your in an episode of the Dukes of Hazzard (it could be in the middle of summer and the roads of Hazzard County were always coverd in leaves). It was a relatively short course and was fast too.  It offered something to make the most jaded crosser happy.   I now understand why they keep using this venue year after year.

Things could have been a little better in the Mens 4 race, my first row start got me out in front with a few guys but I quickly fell a few places towards the back as soon as we left the brick street.  I did my best to keep up with the leaders but I just didn’t seem to have the legs to keep up their pace, typical for me.  As always I find myself in a no-mans land between the leaders in front and the stragglers in back.  It becomes difficult to judge just where you stand after a few laps when the field tends to stretch out and what pace you need to keep.  I’d pass guys on the bricks and then they would catch me on the off chamber areas, I really need to work on that. You play your strengths and try to hang on in areas where your not as comfortable.  Due to some stupid choices during the race I fell back a bit farther than I would have liked and finished further back than I’d like to admit.  Some races you just don’t have it. I did do better than the Chiefs, god they suck.

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Black Sheep climbs the "Mound of Mercy"

 

My second race, Mens Masters 35+ B was much better.  Again, I got a good start, and hung with the leaders longer than usual.  Then I had some issues with physics and gravity, finding myself on my ass taking a turn to fast and having my back wheel slide out from under me.  That probably cost me a few spots, I caught a few who passed me while I was laying there in the grass like an idiot.  I just didn’t have enough time to catch the guys I had my eye on earlier in the race.  It really sucks when you feel really good, your legs feel strong aren’t cramping up, your lungs aren’t on fire and you go and crash.  I was hoping to finish in the top 10 again, earning enough points to break into the top 5 in series points. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and I ended up 6th in points.  It’s frustrating to be so close but have it go a different way, but that’s how cyclocross can be, an unloving brutal bitch.  But I wouldn’t want it to be any other way, it’s hard, and it wouldn’t be any fun if it was easy.

No need for a pitty party, there are plenty of races left on the schedule this season.  Plus I’m not a Kansas resident and wouldn’t have been crowned champion even if I had won.  Yet another reason to dislike Kansas.

We need to get Roger some new music, I can’t take the disco crap he keeps playing any longer. Please make it stop!!!

ct

Veterans Cross Re-cap

Leavenworth, KS is a odd place, not only are lots of people in jail and nobody knows where anything

leavenworthpennis. One would think a clerk at a connivence store would know the lay of the land and where the high school is. Nope, two different gas stations were clueless, turns out that a guy from South Dakota who was also in the BP station knew just where it was and how to get there.  Some streets have numbers some don’t, it makes no sence, maybe it’s to confuse anyone who breaks out of prison or guys looking for a cyclocross race.

Pre-registration allows you not only a swag bag of chamois butter and various flavors of energy gels but it also gets you called up to the front of the starting grid.  Thinking this might ease some of the terror that is the first minute of a cat 4 race I went ahead and paid my money early.  It made no difference, I wasn’t able to get out ahead of the mob far enough to miss the cluster f*#k that the first turn gives, as usual someone goes down and gets ran over several times.  Better him than me I’m thinking as I ride over his front wheel because there is no other place for me to go.  I felt I raced a good race, I beat a few guys I wanted to beat, a few beat me, actually many many people beat me.  There were a few dicey moments where gravity and poor bike handling skills by others caused me a few moments of finding myself tangled up in my frame sitting on the ground trying to figure out how I got there, but that is cyclocross.  You get back up and pedal as hard as you can to pass the idiot who decided to dismount halfway up an easy hill right in front of you.  

n1505917872_80051_21601Poor cycling skills were not the scariest part of the race, it was an odd turn off a gravel road and onto a concrete staircase that led up to a football field, disaster was lurking if you were not careful.  Concrete stairs are nothing new, they pop up all the time, it was the approach where the danger was posed. (The stairs were eliminated for the last few races to nobodies disappointment.)  Like every race this season mens 4 is the largest field by far and for some reason I find myself getting worse each week, today I was on the second page when standings were posted, not good.  I blame society.

Men’s Master B’s is usually my time to shine, I’ve been finishing in or near the top 10 all season long. Again I got a front row start which was a bit less terrifying than the 4’s race, no first turn wipeouts.  I managed to keep myself near the front of the pack for the first few laps.  As soon as I started to feel comfortable I somehow lost control of my finely tuned, demon free cyclocross machine and eat it hard, tearing open a scab on my knee from a previous race, always a nice touch.  To make things worse I loose my chain, normally not a big deal but I’ve recently installed a chain protector on the seat tube to keep my chain from coming off.  Somehow the chain got past it when I fell, I pulled and pulled trying to get the chain past the do-dad that normally keeps the chain from falling off.  As this is happening everyone I’ve kept behind me so far is now flying by me like mad, even the juniors on their tiny little bikes. (I’m pretty sure someone has it on video or at least photos) I finally get it on, I get on and find myself way behind everyone, expecting to get lapped at any minute.  

Knowing my current spot in the series point standings was in jeopardy (6th before todays race) I had to defend my spot at all cost, I pedal my ass off making my way back up through the ranks passing people I haven’t seen since lap one.  I manage to catch my cycling nemesis, Eric from GP Velo Tek on the bell lap, small victories.  I’m currently unsure of how I did, we left before the standings were posted.  Adding insult to minor injuries, I was on the wrong end of someone’s snot rocket all down my left thigh, gross!

Mens’s Cat 4 Lap 1

Men’s Masters B 35+  Funny moment at the end where I cut the tape.

Let’s hope the Black Sheep in Charlotte didn’t get snotted on too this weekend at NCCX race #5 in Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, NC.  Go Team!

ct