Saturday, October 27, 2012

CCC#6 Hopkins Park

So Thursday (Oct 18) night I rode 2 miles, the next day I commuted 4miles each way to and from work.  Those were the first 10 miles I had ridden since racing at Dan Ryan Woods just shy of two weeks earlier.  In the mean time I had been completely beaten down by the stomach flu.  Friday night I swung by the shop to pick up my team order and get some bar end caps put into the Falcon (one popped out at DRW and I had to steal a cap from my road bike).  So Saturday I did something completely unadvisable and the day before a race.  I rode 30 miles in the morning nice and easy, and then switched from tubes to tubeless tires in the afternoon.  I was pretty happy that I was able to do it all myself with only a hand-pump, but this information is clearly provided as foreshadowing.

Sunday morning my girlfriend drove into the city to pick me up, and we went out for breakfast at a local diner converted to...a diner.  The Golden Pancake House redecorated, changed it's name to "The Edge" and opened a bar inside the pancake house.  The food is still great but the concept is a little bit of a hot mess.

We drove to Sunset Park and found parking on the North side of the pond, where we could see most of the course.  After the storms of the weekend before, it was a beautiful fall day, sunny with temperatures approaching the high 60s in the afternoon.  We arrived during the 40+ race, and I had time to pick up my number, change, and get onto the course for the first pre-ride.  It was bad.  I could feel there was just nothing in my legs.  The tires felt good, I didn't have any problems other than having a little bit too much air in them to start, but it's easy to let air out of a tire.

I made it back to the tent, got out my camera and snapped some photos of the 30+ racers heading around the course.  Morleigh took some photos too while I was tinkering and getting ready.  I got my number situated so I could spend a little time during the women's 1/2/3 race taking pictures, and went out for my second pre-ride at the end of the 30+.  It was cool because most of my teammates are also 3s and we rolled out together for our second preride as a big group.  The were sitting up and taking it easy, I was head down and pushing hard.  I could not keep up with them.  I got dropped by my teammates during a warm-up lap.

I had a conversation with my teammate Phil about my flu.

Me: I was pretty sick.  I lost 8lbs in about 4 days.
Phil: 8 lbs?  That's a lot.  Was it just water?
Me: No, I think it was all power.

You can watch part of my race here.

For reference the cameraman is Omar.  The guy directly in front of Omar is my friend Bryan Lee.  I am directly in front of Bryan (and high-five him at .09).  At 4:05 Omar passes my teammate Joe B who had an unfortunate incident with course tape getting wrapped up around his rear cassette.  It cost him a few minutes at least.

Omar catches up to me heading up a hill at about 7:20.  I am in the Sprockets kit just ahead of Omar until he passes me to "help" at 12:40.  He helped me for a few seconds, but I could not hold on.  I was pretty much out of gas at that point.  I continued to slide backwards in the pack for another two or three laps in which I had two "hiccups" or burps rather.  The first happened when I was making a 180 degree right turn off the pavement into the grass at the bottom of the hill just after the lone barrier.  As I reached the apex on the asphalt my wheel "slipped" a little bit, but I don't think it slipped, I think I twisted the bead and let some air out.   I almost lost control, had to alter my line and almost took out Derek.  The second, and fatal burp happened coming off of heckle hill with two laps to go.  I was rounding the course on the off camber (where Newt rolled a tubular 2 year earlier) and had a full loss of pressure.  I was 100yds short of the wheel pit so I ran my bike over there and found a pump to see if I could re-inflate my  wheel and keep going.  When I could not get the bead to catch, I decided to throw in the towel.  By the time I made it to our tent and back with a new wheel, the leaders would be by with one to go, and I would most likely have been in DFL with less than a lap to try and get back up into the pack.  I told the official I was done, and walked back to the tent to get cleaned up.  It was my first ever DNF in any race, but I think I'm okay with that.  Had I not had the mechanical, based on the guys I was riding with at the time of my exit, I estimate I would have been somewhere between 60-65th place.

Earlier this week I was comparing the 34 minutes of that race to some of the other races I have done this year.  Despite Sunset Park being a fast and relatively flat course my average speed was slower (12.7 vs 12.8mph) than Day 2 at Sun Prairie where I crashed twice and injured my back.

It looks like all the hard work and training that I put in during the winter, spring, summer and fall have now evaporated.  It's time to crawl out of my pity pool and start over for next year.

"Training is like wrestling with a gorilla.  You don't wrestle until you get tired, you wrestle until the gorilla gets tired." - Greg Lemond

Delinquent: CCC#3 Dan Ryan Woods

I've been a more than a little bit delinquent in writing about my races.  The last races I wrote about were  more than a month ago, and I have taped three more numbers to my wall since then.  I will try to be quick about it.
But as I sat down to try to somehow catch up with my season, I immediately started to procrastinate by re-reading the post I wrote in early September about my last WORS race.  I found this quote: 

"I hope my cross season goes half as well (as my WORS season)."

So far, my cyclocross season has lived up to that mark.  It's been about 50% as good as my mtb season.
The week after the USGP I was in so much pain that I couldn't even get on a bike.  My back went from being in hurt to being injured.  I pulled a muscle on the lower left side in one of my falls.  I seriously considered going to the Doctor.  My girlfriend was pushing for it, but I knew that the Doctor would only tell me to give it a few days.  So I RICE'd the shit out of my back and hung out in the suburbs with my girlfriend all week.  Before we left the city I dropped the Falcon off at the shop.  At the beginning of the season I ordered a new AL Crux elite frame as an upgrade for my Tricross.  I got word that it had shipped, so I left my bike in anticipation of it arriving sometime that week.  I didn't make it back into the city to pick up my rebuilt bike until Saturday.  Even though it was only a new frame, everything felt new.  The shifting was amazing.  Sunday we drove to Hopkin's Park, and I registered to race.

I had a decent enough start, but by the time we hit the first turn, my race started to take a turn.  I think it was a six lap race.  I don't know because I totally messed up my garmin by stopping instead of hitting the lap counter, so I pretty much was stopped for the entire race, and then started again at the end.  Which, by the way, was pretty much how my actual race went.

It is a common story for the season.  The first two-three laps were "okay" but the last two-three laps my back started to give out and I could not put out any power.  I remember John from Half Acre heckling me: "You know Phil is in front of you" and me thinking, "Yes, yes he is, and there is nothing I can do about it."  Him and 36 other Cat 3s.  I finished 37th.
After Dekalb we came back into the city.  I practiced twice on Tuesday, once on Thursday, rode my bike to work on Friday, and did nothing on Saturday.  Sunday it was time to race again.

Dan Ryan Woods is a long flat course with a ridge that has to be climbed 3 times per lap.  The Elevation chart for my race looks like an EKG.

The race started rough, with a crash right in front of me.  I did not get tangled up in it, but it was more than a little harry to track stand and swerve around, and rebuild momentum.  One of my teammates, Joe B, got caught up in it and got bit on the arm by someone's front chainring.  I was back out in the pack by the time we finished the brief prologue and started to wind through the trees along the parking lot.

The "technical" feature of the course were a series of three obstacles spaced evenly apart on a straight away.  I wrote my thoughts about those mini-barriers here (at so will not repeat myself.  Regardless, on my first lap I DID accidentally unclip on the landing between the first and second barriers and did almost endo over the second.  Jumping a barrier with one foot clipped in was not fun.  I thought for sure I pinch-flatted given how hard my rear wheel slammed into the barrier.

On subsequent laps though I found my rhythm, the front-rear pull-tuck with two pedal strokes between barriers.  I didn't make much time, but nor did I lose it.  I continued to race solidly mid-pack.  Finished three places ahead of the week before, but felt nothing but exhausted at the end of the race.  There was no post-race rush of "that was awesome."  I felt worn out.

Then everything fell apart.  My girlfriend and I left the race as the 4bs were finishing, and headed back to my apartment.  She took a nap, while I did the laundry, dishes, and straightened up my apartment, and packed to spend a day or two out with her in the suburbs.  I woke her up at about 9PM and I drove us out to LITH.  When we arrived at her house, I was exhausted, and had a breakdown.  I started to shiver uncontrollably.  She put a thermometer in my ear and it read 103.9F.

I spent the next four days with a fever, and stomach flu. I was too sick to watch TV, too sick to eat or drink, too sick to do much of anything but lay on the couch and shiver and sweat. My fever peaked on Tuesday while my girlfriend was out running errands at 106F.  That was the highlight of the week, and the next day my fever receeded down into the 103-105 range. Thursday I woke up and felt human again despite the fact that my temperature was at 101F.  Friday I was at a normal temperature and could start the process of healing.

We skipped the races in Wacaunda and Carpentersville that weekend, despite their proximity (the latter was 15minutes away) as the rain and cold and mud did not seem conducive to a continued recovery.  I stayed off the bike for another four days, and did pedal anywhere until Morleigh dropped me off at the train station on Thursday night so I could head into the office for a meeting on Friday.  The two miles I pedaled home, and the 8 miles to and from the office on Friday was the first I had ridden in almost two weeks.  During that time off the bike I was seriously contemplating bagging the rest of cross season.  Between the back injuries and the flu, it has been a miserable year.  But after a pep-talk from Morleigh about not quitting for the wrong reasons, I registered for Sunset Park.  More misery awaits.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

USGP Day 1

I generally like to write things in chronological order, but as the time spent on photography has increased my time for writing has decreased.  Somehow I missed writing anything about the first day of the USGP race.

We arrived in Sun Prairie on Friday night later than we had planned (traffic), but still with enough time to check into the hotel, and head to SP for a few loops around the course.  The course started out virtually identical as to what I remember from last year, but the back half was more than a little bit different.  The approach to the Hillside Strangler involved an extra trip from the bottom to the top before dropping back down and in for a run-up with three railroad ties as opposed to the two of the previous year.

Honestly at this point I don't remember much about the race.  Because I registered a few days before close, I was solidly at the back of the pack starting in 99th place.  I got into the starting grid on the left side, so I could make a move around the outside, but when the time came for an all-out sprint to move up I opted to move up a little bit, but not completely burn a match and just move with the flow of the group.  There were some back-ups and slow-downs that can be expected from being in the back 25% of a pack, but when things started to clear up it left me with some gas in the tank and some opportunities to move up.

I ran a clean race, and even rode the strangler one or two times.  My back tightened up on me after the first lap making it very difficult to dismount, remount, and run.  Granted that CX makes it difficult to dismount, remount, and run in general, but the back pain took away the high end speed.  I was also working with a pretty significant side-stitch during the middle of the race.  But I rode pretty well, didn't crash, had only one mechanical.  As I was coming up the Strangler the final time I shouldered my bike to run it, and as I was setting it down the rear brake got caught on my speedsuit, and I ended up hitting my bike with my thigh dropping the chain.  As I paused to fix it, I was passed by a single rider, who I then set in my mind to try to get back before the finish.  I tried to make a move on the inside and beat him to the last corner before the home straight, but he felt me coming and took an early apex pinching me into the fence.  It was by no means a dirty move, it was no dirtier than the pass I was attempting.  But I ended up slamming on my brakes and having to let him go buy before I could finish.  I could have tried to hammer it and out sprint him, but seriously, did I really want to try to out sprint a guy for 67th place on day one of a two day race?  Had I not dropped my chain, the spot would have been mine to lose, but he passed me fair and square, and took a good line into the last corner.  He could have 67th place.  I was happy that I was able to move up 32 spots in the field.  An accomplishment I certainly did not take for granted the next day.