Monday, January 20, 2014

On The Fence

I hate being on the fence. The back and forth in your mind weighing pros and cons. Drives me nuts. I like having a goal and working towards it. Right now I feel like Cal Naughton(Mike Honcho) in Talledega Nights, "I got a Pretzel in my head".

See, I can't decide if I should race Suffer Cross, err, I mean Southern Cross the end of February. You see, it's no small potato. Oh no sir, 50 miles and 6700 feet of climbing. It would be a great way to prepare for the rest of the season, though I might not be ready for that kind of abuse yet. That's a shit ton of climbing.

As you can see it doesn't entice you gently. That first climb is darn near vertical. Yeah, it's billy goat steep. Guess that is why they call it "The Wall".

I bet your saying:

stop acting like Tom Brady after a loss and just sign up you pansy.

Yeah, I here you talking big from your warm chair in front of your computer with your legs up. It's just a wee bit different when it's 34 degrees, raining, and your staring down the elevation profile taped to your top tube wondering why the fock did I sign up for this? The other side of the coin is that this would be a great start to getting me ready for the rest of the year. The more of these long events I do, the better I get at them. Since I'm putting a bunch on the schedule this year, that may be a good thing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ridin' Dirty

First race of 2014 is in the books. I'm a big fan of the Winter Short Track Series. It's local (20 min from the house), they have a free kids race that Brock get's pumped up for, the atmosphere is great, always fun to see all my cycling peeps, and I get to show up to blow up. We got a shit ton of rain Friday and Saturday, but luckily the Short Track course is built to withstand the winter weather here in North Cack-A-Lack.

I got to the race early and cheered on some friends in other races. The bikes and people were looking pretty muddy. As it turned out the course was in a lot better shape then I thought it would be, but the top half was pretty sloppy. Rideable, but a little slick in places.

So I throw a Stinger Waffle down my neck, get to pumping some Hilltop Hoods in my ears, and start warming up. I'm racing in the single speed class this year, and in usual fashion I show up late to the start line. I wasn't gonna win this thing anyway, but I get sick of starting from the back row.

The gun goes off and I actually got a great start. I weave and bob in and around people and find myself about mid pack as we go into the woods. I'm pretty happy at this point, because I always suck getting off the start line. Only problem is that now I need to keep up with the group. The mud isn't bad, but it is just enough to get your attention. I push way harder than I wanted to just to stay in my spot in the train. As we head up the first hill, a gap develops between me and the 8 or so guys in front of me. I try to close it, but my legs and lungs politely say "no bueno seƱor". About this time I get to the "rock garden", which really isn't a rock garden, but it is full of a lot of hecklers. To bad for me, as I glance up, I see some familiar faces. Sure enough, the word is out and I'm spotted. Let the heckling commence.

photo cred: Street Ghost/Kevin Thompson

I also noticed a lot of beers in hands when I glanced up. This was bad as my legs are in anarchy at this point and they see the beer and start screaming at me for tacos and beer. Now I say to myself, why the hell am I thinking of tacos and beer on the first lap of this race. I actually start picturing sitting on the deck of El Torito in Santa Barbara, looking at the pacific ocean sipping Tecate and eating chips….WTF?!?

Suddenly, I get bumped by someone "on my left". I slap myself in the face and keep digging. I jump on Ritchie's wheel as he goes by me and hang on past the start line and back into the woods. This is when I notice the "problem". Is it a mechanical? A flat? No. The "problem" is that I haven't redlined my heart rate like this in a long time. I'm in decent shape, but I just haven't done much (any) high intensity. I start getting a cramp in my side. It gets so bad, that I have to back off and slow way down. Four or maybe five guys go past. I spend the next two laps trying to recover. The mud has made it necessary to pedal on the downhill section, where I'm usually recovering and not having to pedal. Mud is slow like that and likes to give you that gluey feeling on your tires. Just ask Gerry. In the pic below, I'm sure he is winning a 100 mile race somewhere…….

G. Pflug, photo AE Landes

The stitch in my side finally gives up and I actually start turning some good laps. I felt like I was getting stronger lap after lap, but it was to late. The best I could do now was go the same speed as the 4 or 5 that got by me earlier and my "problem" knocked me out of my goal of finishing in the top 10. I've got another chance in 2 weeks though. Big props to the "hecklers" in the woods at the rock garden. I looked forward to what you were gonna come up every time I went by. You even had me laughing at 185 bpm.

                                             photo cred: Street Ghost/Kevin Thompson

Friday, January 10, 2014

Here comes the Circus

The race season is here!! Two more days to the start of the 2014 race season! This year is gonna be a good one. Lots of changes from last year and hopefully a lot more racing. I'm now working at BikeSource in Charlotte. Great shop with a huge selection. If you need it, we probably have it. Everyone there rides, and rides a lot. Some at a really high level. This is great to keep me motivated and putting time in on the bike to do well in races. The energy of others racing and riding a lot, somehow it just rubs off on you. Another big change is Slippery Sasquatch race team. Check them out HERE. We are putting together a nice group of riders who also race. Four members on the team already and the sponsors are getting lined up as I type this. 

So the year starts off with Winter Short Track, which is a 5 race series. My son Brock even races it, and believe me, this kid cleans up. Not so much on the track, but look at the little guy - finds himself a girlie friend in like five minutes. Hell, this year he is probably gonna have groupies!!

Brock and Mia 2013 Short Track

As for me, I'm jumping in with the Single Speed crowd. I raced the first race last season on the SS and finished 21 out of 32. Not great, but I was sick so I swallowed it and moved on. Hoping I can crack the top 10 this Sunday. I'm in better shape then last year so we will see. Speaking of the SS, my plan is to spend a lot of time on it this year. If things go right, I'm going to focus on the longer mountain bike races. 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, Big Frog 65 miler, Tree Shaker 8 Hour, Iron Mountain 100K, Grind on the Greenway, and Wilkes 100K all on one gear. Yeah, I know, I can feel the leg cramps already as well……..

It's gonna be a season of figuring it out - through failing probably more so then succeeding unfortunately. In between all those long sufferfests I'll drop in on some XC races, maybe do some Gravel Grinders on the CX bike, and run the gnar in my kayak.