Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hardcore commuting on the Voodoo

13 miles to work on ice and snow. Mostly ice. It took me 1 hour and 35 minutes to get to work. Then it took me 1 hour and 55 minutes to get back. Traffic was horrible getting back. When I got to the shop I believe that everyone was both surprised and impressed that I was nutty enough to ride there. I did feel hardcore though.

I had Hutchinson Bulldog tires on the Voodoo singlespeed and they rocked. About 38 pounds of pressure in the front and rear and I had plenty of traction. It was amazing how much traction I had on even black ice. I never came close to biting it either, surprisingly. In fact, other than it being slow, cold (21 degrees when I arrived back at home), dark, and slightly dangerous because of idiots with 4 wheels (as opposed to the one here with just 2) it was a sort of fun commute.

Anyway, tomorrow it is supposed to be pretty bad--freezing rain and snow up to 8 inches. If that is the case I am going to take a pass at trying to get there and back in such conditions.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Psycho Cross Finale and Season Recap

I woke up at 3am Saturday night and looked outside. Still no snow. Good. If it had started snowing during the night there is a good chance that I would have been shut down by Capt. Safety, AKA Bridget. She was not in favor of me going down to Eugene with a big snow storm on the way. I wasn't looking forward to sitting on my butt all day while others were out there getting muddy. If it came to it I was prepared to leave extra early, before Bridget woke up, so that I could be on my way.

But, no worries. When I left at 6:45 there was not a hint of snow. I met Lane at the shop at 7:15. We grabbed a pump and relieved ourselves (the two things had nothing to do with each other) and headed out. That was at about 7:30. It was then that it started snowing. Within 10 minutes it was really coming down. I was worried about the trip down and back if it kept up. But after about 30 minutes we south of the storm and things were pretty clear the rest of the way down to the Eugene area.

It was cold, but not as cold as at P.I.R. last weekend for the USGP. It was a bit rainy but not too bad. I had on my Pearl bib knickers, craft shortsleeve mock neck undershirt, Fat Cyclist short sleeve jersey and arm warmers. It was perfect for the race. The temp as about 36 degrees or so.

I also wore two pair of socks. Both thin so that they would fit inside my Sidi shoes. Additionally, hidden inbetween sock layers I was wearing small, very thin trash bags. Yes, trash bags. They were unobtrusive while on and they kept my feet dry despite getting pelted and soaked with watery mud everywhere else. It was sweet ghetto set up. I had forgotten about this trick until a few days ago. I used to do it when I played snow football with friends in college. The trick kept my feet dry even if they were still cold. Still, it was nice.

The race started and I got an OK start. I was mainly out to win my class, and then to try out the Voodoo Wazoo singlespeed. I had planned on doing two races, the Master C's and the Singlespeed race, but thanks to a phone call from my wife just before the race telling me that they were closing the highways in Portland, I decided to do just one and get my butt back home. So my plan was to do half the race geared and the last half single so that I could at least have a taste of racing singlespeed. It was interesting.

On the first lap one of the other two Master C riders passed me. I wasn't too concerned, even though I was a bit surprised. About a 1/4 of a lap later I passed him for good and by the end of the lap I had significant distance on that fellow and Lane (who was the only other Master C rider). There were still a dozen regular C riders though and I settled in to trying to hold off a significant number of them. I was doing moderately well after two laps and then swapped bikes.

The Voodoo performed well, but it wasn't really the proper tool for the job with the gearing I had. The tires, Hutchinson Bulldogs really hooked up well, much better than the Challenge Fangos on the geared Curtlo in that slipperly mud out there. The positioning was not as spot on as the Curtlo though, but close enough. My gearing was 42x20, which was decent, but not great. On the flats I was passed three times by geared racers had was having little trouble holding off while on the Curtlo. I overtook one of the them during a singletrack section during the last lap and was able to hold him off the last few strait-a-ways, but not without great effort. 42x18 or 17 would have been better for that course--assuming that I had the muscle to push it. As it was, after just two laps on the singlespeed my lower back was killing me. I definitely have some training to do before next year. SS'ing is all about pain. But I liked it. I will have to mix in a few SS cross races next season on the courses that are flatter. There is no way I would throw down with a singlespeed out at a course like we raced in Astoria.

I was first in Master C category again. That means I was three for three out there. And I took the overall for the series. Not that there were many guys to compete against, but it was fun. Lane ended up tied for third for points and becuase the other guy wasn't there, Lane got to take home the third place prize--which was the same as mine--$20 at Hutch's bike shop in Eugene. We also got cool Redline bags...not a great return on my race fee investment, but then it wasn't it racing for the prize. I race for the rush that I get from just being out there and "killin' it" as Jimmy Packfodder would say.

Congrats to Brian Spears for winning the series in the B's out there, too.

Lessons learned:
(1) Challenge Fangos are not the end all in tires. They were much less useful than the Hutchinson Bulldogs during the race. The Bulldogs are a clincher. Yeah, the clincher kicked the tubular out there today amazingly. Fangos are a good general tire, but when the mud is sloppy it becomes sketchy.
(2) Installing thorn resistant tubes in a clencher tire is very beneficial. I was able to run the Hutchinson Bulldog at 38 or 39 psi. I usually pinch flat at that pressure. I could have run them even lower without pinchflatting. Basically, I can run almost the same pressure that I can run in my tubulars. The casing is still pretty stiff though. I think Dugast Rhinos are the only tubular that will provide that sort of traction in a tubular though.
(3) I need mo' Powa'! If I am going to do any sort of single speed racing I need to work on strengthing my core. My lower back killed me way too soon. I need stronger legs, but that will come if I just keep using the Voodoo to commute.
(4) Not enough people are making the trip down to this series. It is well run and the course is one of my faves. Next year, ya'all need to make this series a priority. I would rather race this series than go to some of the Cross Crusade races (Hillsboro especially comes to mind, yuck).


Also, I must thank my wife Bridget for letting me race 12 races this season. Here are my season stats:

Pain on the Peak: 12th out of 29 (Master C)
Veloshop Rickreall Rampage: 3rd out of 13 (Master C)
Cross Crusade #1: 80th out of 153 (Master C)
Cross Crusade #2: 31st out of 149 (Master C)
Psycho Cross #2: 1st out of 4 (Master C)
Cross Crusade #4: 29th out of 63 (Master C)
Cross Crusade #6: 39th out of 159 (Master C)
Psycho Cross #3: 1st out of 3 (Master C)
Cross Crusade #8: 79th ouf of 90 (Master B)
Portland Cup Day 1: 37th out of 88 (Men C/Beg)
Portland Cup Day 2: 44th out of 83 (Men C/Beg)
Psycho Cross #5: 1st out of 3 (Master C)

Top 50%: 9 of 12
Top 25%: 6 of 12
Wins: 3 (all at the sparsely populated Psycho Cross races)

I even tried a Master B race...that didn't go so well, but I won't dwell on that here. A pretty darn good year. Can't wait for next year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Twas the night before Psycho Cross...

Twas the night before the Psycho Cross Race
My heart beat excitedly, a grin on my face

Tubulars were glued with the utmost tender care
Swiss Stop yellow rat brake pads slow me whilst I am there.
Carbon rims washed clean of P.I.R. soil
and a steel frame instead of aluminum foil.

My gear bag was packed to bursting I willingly ceded
Pearl Izumi bibs of various lengths are just what I needed.
My Craft Prozero long sleeve was folded and stashed
and a Giro Pneumo helmet to save my melon if bashed.

I starred out the window watching the sky.
Would racing be good with snow in my eye?
I hoped for some white 'cause it was the season.
But please not too much, let's keep it within reason.

My Civic, my sleigh awaited outside
in it 106 horses to give me a ride.
Two bikes would be going, the both treasures of steel
Master C and Singlespeed races, the pain will be real.

No matter the placement, the misery is fun
even if my wife thinks I am especially dumb.
I will return home, happy, tired and worn
to see my three boys, one recently born.


Here is to having a great safe final race at Psycho Cross #5. Post race update either late tomorrow or Monday.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Psycho Cross #5: Preview

Weather forecast for Eugene is...


Epic. I seriously am so flipping excited that I am almost giddy. I have never done a cross race in snow. And I am planning on doing the Master C race and the Singlespeed race an hour after the end of the prior race. I must be a masochist.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

USGP: OBRA C Race Day Two

Today was not a good race for me. Not as cold as yesterday, but the mud was more abundant because of some overnight rain and because of some re-routing of the course through some of the muddy sections of the grounds.

My legs still felt heavy. Not so rubberish as yesterday, just heavy. There was one steep run up that made me just feel old and out of shape. It seems obvious that my single speed commuting is at least partially to blame. But as to how much, I am not sure. My bike handling skills were not sharp in the mud. On the grass I was fine for the most part, but for some reason I just wasn't feeling it on that part of the course.

On the first lap there was the usual cluster of guys wrecking. I piled up on a guy in front of me and I could not get untangle for what seemed like 30 seconds. Then when I did I saw my handlebar was off center significantly. So I hopped in front of the bike and manhandled it so that it was pretty close. But having them go off center was a little worrying since it seemed very possible it could happen again in some of that thick mud.

At some point during the second lap in that same section I busted the barrel adjuster on my rear derailleur. So my shifting basically went to hell at that point. I had a hard time keeping it in any specific gear. I would have to shift around until I found something reasonable that wouldn't skip. Frustrating.

The third and final lap was better the whole way around. It was pretty clean except for one minor dab and I managed to catch two guys while losing a place to a third guy. I was gaining on another guy and had it been a longer race I would have caught him. That doesn't mean I wanted a longer race. I was ready to be done. I finished 44th out of 81. A couple of guys beat me that had no business beating me. And I can't blame it all on mechanical or on rubba/lead legs.

Am I really in worse shape? I didn't think so, but maybe. I have gained a few pounds (low 190's right now) but I have been riding more miles the past 6 weeks...meh, who knows. Despite the small weight gain when my legs are fresh I think they are stronger. At least I think so. I don't have any way to quantify it. It is a little too late now to be worrying about it. Next week is the end of the season and I am hoping for a good Master C race there. I am also still planning on racing in the Singlespeed race an hour after my race, but that is more for fun than for any expectation of doing well.

I hate weekends like this. Neither race was a great and no matter how good the excuses are for my performance I am still frustrated. And when I get frustrated or fed up enough I can often turn it in to a leap in performance. The last leap was after then half Ironman distance Triathlon. I turned that into a loss of 17 or pounds. 5 of which I have gained back unfortunately. But I am fairly peeved and that is a good sign for me, a bad sign for Packfodder Jim next year. But it is early yet so who knows. Right now I feel humbled.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

In Brief: USGP Day One, OBRA C Race

Very Cold at Eight
Legs Rubba from my single
Thirty-Seventh, meh

More details tomorrow after Day Two, but I will briefly explain the above Haiku. Start time was 8 am and it was around the freezing point. I was at the race site prior to sunrise "warming up". This week I had rode my Voodoo singlespeed all week and my legs were not used to it. They felt like lead anytime I tried to push it. It was annoying. I ended up 37th out of 85 finishers in C/Beginner Class. I doubt there were too many Beginners in that field. There were a lot of guys from out of state, probably half my class. I had hoped to be in the top 1/4, but at least I was in the top half.

Downers:

Riding half the race with the left arm of my front brake rubbing against the wheel. That sucked.

Knowing that we were supposed to race for 30 minutes and figuring that because our laps were taking about 10 minutes each that I would do 3 laps. Because of this I gave it all I had that 3rd lap. Umm, no, apparently they decided the race was 40 minutes long and I had yet another lap to do. Did I mention my legs were toasted? Yeah, the first half of that last lap sucked.

Dropping a load in the Port-o-potty only to have what felt like a tidal wave of that feces and urine infested P-o-p juice splash nearly all of my backside. Yeah, that was awesome. There was some sanitary soap in there so needless to say I put a bunch of it on some toilet paper and tried to cleanse myself as best I could. I wanted to go home then and there and take a shower. But, being the guy I am, I pulled up my P.I. knickers and concentrated on the positive--that from here on anything brown on my backside would be soil as in mud and not soiled as in, well, you get the point by now.



Uppers:

Riding over a guy's rear wheel that fell right in front of me in a grassy turn. That was sort of cool.

Riding up all of the slippery climbs that others around me had issues with occasionally.

Not having any back pain.

Racing. Love it even when I am hatin' it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day 3

75 or so miles down so far this week while commuting on the Voodoo. Trip home wasn't any worse that Day 2, which was a concern. After the 2nd day I worried about having the legs to ride the last mile or so home without having to stop. But even though it was tough, I think I managed to do it without throwing out my back.

I thought I was going to drive to work tomorrow so that I could have a day off prior to the race. Umm...no. Bridget said she needs it and so I have to do it all over again tomorrow. My expectation for Saturday's race are relaxed a bit. I doubt my legs will be feeling spry. Actually with the race starting at 8 am I doubt anyone will be feeling spry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Voodoo Hurts

42 teeth in the front and 16 teeth in the rear hurts. Bad. Legs are rubber. The last mile home really puts it too me. But....I love the bike.

I have already done some customizing. I swapped the stem to a slightly shorter one to match my set up on the Curtlo. Only 10 mm shorter but it made a big difference. And importantly I chopped off the end of the derailleur hanger that would allow me to mount a rear derailleur. No it didn't weigh much at all. It was more of a statement--NO GEARS. Not even a possibility.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Voodoo Wazzo, AKA, the $#!% Bike

A victim of these lean times has been the bike stable. I have the Curtlo Cross, and the Fuji carbon bike and I used to have a Curlto Singlespeed mountain. That had to go by the wayside so that I could buy Bridget a blingy Fuji full carbon job last month. Before you think that that this was a big sacrifice on my part to sell the sweet custom Curtlo, I will say that the wife is super happy with it and she has lost 7 lbs during the time that she has had it. And frankly, I will take the hot/sexy and happy wife over a bike any day. Especially when it was the least used of the three bikes.

Anyway, so down to two bikes and both of them are raceday bikes. Since it is cross season, the Curtlo stays dressed for race day, not for commuting. So the Fuji got fenders on it and became the $$$$ commuter. I had a good attitude about it for a while. I rode it no matter what the weather was like. And it got dirty. I cleaned it and then the next ride it would be just as dirty as it had been before. A couple of creaks started up after the weather turned sour. I would strip stuff down and fix the creak. Then another one showed up. Then I was done with it all. I needed a crap bike to take the abuse instead of worrying about the spendy one wearing out. One that I could ride to death and not worry about creaks, scuffs, dirt or grease. Oh and it had to be cheap. What to get...?

Requirements: Cheap and it has to be a singlespeed ready bike with canti brake mounts.

Surly? Yeah, a Cross Check would work. I checked stock...none available.

Pake Commuter? Super cheap, but again none available in my size.

Salsa Cassarole? Sweet, a little more money, but do-able. But again none available.

See a theme here?

I tried looking for a SOMA Double Cross and found one my size, but it wasn't really singlespeed ready. So I continued my search.

Packfodder Jim tempted me with a Felt Breed Singlespeed cross bike. That was really tempting, but too much money. Oh man is that a sweet ride though.

Hmmm, what about the Voodoo Wazoo? Frame was a little spendier than I wanted but I looked around the garage and the shop for anything that I could use to build it up that I without spending much more money. I found some crap wheels in the garage, a discontinued crankset, $5 canti brakeset (that's total for both front and rear), crap headset, and other stuff out of the garage. Stuff that I probably couldn't sell to anyone else. I also figured I could transer the lights from my Fuji as well.

Yup, the Voodoo would fit in the budget I set for myself. After some momentary waffling I pulled the trigger.

Here is the result:

I rode it to work and back today for its first ride. Gearing is 42 x 16. I wish I could run a 14 or 15 cog instead of the 16 because I spin out on a slight downhill a little too easily. But climbing the last mile or so back home is brutal as it stands with the 16 tooth rear cog, so until I get stronger the gearing won't be changing.

The bike rides great for the most part. The fork seems like it has a bit too much rake for my taste, but by the time I was riding home it felt fine. The steel frame ride well. My initial impression is that it offers a fairly stiff bottom bracket, which is a good thing for a singlespeed to have. The steel gave a good feel on the road. How much was from the frame and how much came from the Continental Gatorskin tires, I don't know. This is my first set of Gatorskins, which really feel much slower than the Continental Grand Prix 4000 tires. But if they provide a flat free commute--I will take the trade off. The sliding dropouts were easy to use with the singlespeed set up. Oh, and it is disc brake compatible for those who care.

I will give more updates later. But, on the whole the bike is sweet, especially considering the money that I have in it. It is probably the cheapest bike I have had in a decade or more. For a $#!% bike, it sure seems pretty.

Frame weight was 4.9 lbs. Fork weighed 760 grams. Both are porky. For comparison my steel frame Curtlo weighs 3.55 lbs and the Alpha Q fork weighs under 500 grams. But whatever, that was not the point--having lightweight frameset.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Carbon Rim Tubular Adhesives Study

Following is the Introduction and conclusion of article that Brian (Brianero) found regarding the quality of the adhesion between a tubular tire and carbon rim when using one of several glues or Tufo tape. It is indeed very interesting.

Tubular Tire Adhesion Performance - Part 7
Examination of Tubular Tire Adhesion to Carbon Fiber Rims
Colin S. Howat
Kurata Thermodynamics Laboratory
Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
1530 W 15th, Room 4132
Learned Hall
Lawrence, Kansas 66045-7609
www.engr.ku.edu/~ktl
____________________________________________________________________________________
Abstract
Tubular tires are still the choice of many cyclists. The lighter tire/rim combination provides superior acceleration performance. The tires do not pinch flat. Many tubular tire cross sections are uniform, providing predictable cornering.
Recent trends supplant aluminum rims with carbon fiber ones. The latter provide superior stiffness for the same mass. Braking heat dissipation is problematic. Tubular tire adhesives were developed for aluminum rims. Evidence suggests adhesion to carbon fiber is inferior to adhesion to aluminum.

The purpose of this study was to quantify adhesion to carbon fiber with readily available glues. Previous studies demonstrated the superior performance of Continental glue. This glue, along with Vittoria Mastik’One, Panarace Panacement, Clement Gutta and Tufo tape, were compared. The rims used are Bontrager carbon fiber and Wolber Profil 19’s. The tires used are Continental LA’s and Competition 20’s.
Mastik’One is the best glue to use for carbon fiber rims. Continental was the worst performing of the conventional glues.

This is a laboratory study performed under laboratory conditions. Mechanics are urged to use their experience to temper the results presented herein. The mating geometry was typical but not ideal. Gluing to the edges is critical to performance when there is a protruding seam that may interfere with good contact. The safety of the rider is paramount and these results should be combined with experience to
maximize the rider safety.

Introduction

Tubular tires provide acceleration and cornering advantages over conventional
clincher tires. Further, they are not prone to sudden deflation due to pinch. They are still the tires of choice of many competitive cyclists. KTL has published six papers covering adhesive, tire, rim, application and temperature impact on adhesive performance. For all around use with aluminum rims, Continental glue was superior. It has one of the shortest times to come to full strength. It has less degradation at higher temperatures. It was one of the best for tires with and without latex coated base tapes. It was best or one of the best with non anodized and anodized aluminum rims. It did not separate during storage.

Tubular tires have two adhesive joints. The first, controlled by the tire
manufacturer, holds the base tape to the casing. The second, controlled by the mechanic, holds the base tape to the rim. Solvents in adhesives that are not designed for tubular tire installation can attack the base tape - casing joint. This attack increases the likelihoodthat the tire will roll during cornering or loss of traction situations. Readily available glues at hardware and auto supply stores may not be appropriate for tubular tire applications. Further, ones that may appear to work for some tires will not for others because of the differing properties of the base tape - casing adhesive. In general, mechanics should restrict options to those designed for tubular tire installations.

Carbon fiber with its superior stiffness to weight ratio is supplanting aluminum as
a rim material. The surface properties of carbon fiber resin are substantially different from those of aluminum. Mechanics and riders should anticipate differences in braking and tubular tire adhesion performance.

The purpose of this study is to examine adhesion to carbon fiber rims.

Materials
Six glues, two rims and two tires were used in this study.
Three of the glues - Continental, Vittoria Mastik’One and Panaracer Pana Cement
- were ‘clear’, synthetic. One, Clement Gutta, was ‘red’, natural based. One was a tape, Tufo. The last was a polyurethane based glue sold in hardware stores, Probond.
The rims were blank (no spoke holes) Profil 19’s and ‘paired-spoke’ Bontrager
Race Lite XXX. These have nearly the same cross section. The tires were Continental LA’s and Competition 20’s. These have a noticeable seam. The base tape is uncoated.
The protocol used requires a torque wrench, electrical conduit, C-clamp and tire
insert. Glue application, when applicable, was done with an ‘acid’ brush.
...

...
Conclusions

Adherence to aluminum and to carbon fiber is the same for Continental rim
cement under this testing protocol. But, the failure is more susceptible to impact failure.

Sanding carbon fiber rims prior to coating with glue provides no benefit.

Mastik’One is the best of the tested glues for carbon fiber rims.

Tufo Tape is inferior to conventional glues in both aluminum and carbon fiber
applications.

Elmer’s Probond should not be used in either application.

Gluing at the edge is of paramount importance in these applications.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Total Bummer....


Not long ago this evening I received this picture message from a fellow that raced at Kruger's. There used to be a Fango on that bling Easton carbon wheel. That sucks man.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Psycho Cross #3





If you are reading this blog there is a good chance that you like cyclocross and a fairly good chance that you live in Oregon. If both of those things are true you really need to do yourself a favor and make the trip down to Eugene and race the Psycho Cross Series. This is a great series and not enough of us from Portland are making the trip. The location is the same each time but the course is changed for every race. There are some elements that are constant, but the direction of travel varies and the conditions can really drastically change the course from one week to the next. I really enjoy it.

But there is a problem, there are not that many people that race down there. Thankfully there isn't the opposite problem of too many racers, which is how it is in the cross crusade. In the cross crusade races there were usually between 120 and 160 racers in Master C, usually closer to the 160. The exception was during the Saturday Astoria race. At the Psycho Cross race today there were 11 C's and 3 Master C's. We all started at the same time, follows by about 10 Beginners a minute behind us. That was it for the 10am race, no more than 24 or 25 riders on the course at the same time. Compare this to what goes on at the Cross Crusade it it is almost lonely at times if you don't have someone near you.

I was lucky enough to have someone nearby to do battle with. Similar to my other race at the Psycho Cross series a month ago it was a racer that was dealing with mechanic/crash issues. If it weren't for his skewer coming loose and then doing a pit this guy, named Ryan, would have left me in the dust long before he actually did on the last lap. At the finish, the next rider behind me was a few hundred yards back. The guys ahead of Ryan and I were similarly too far ahead to catch. Everyone that finished ahead of me was racing C, so I beat the other two guys racing Master C--meaning that I again won my class. That alone is reason enough to keep heading down there. I got my butt handed to me last weekend at my first Master B race and here I was without any close competition for Master C. I enjoyed this weekend much more.

I enjoyed today not so much because I was the best of three guys in my class, but because, one, the course is a heck of a lot of fun, and two, because everyone was really friendly. It didn't matter that I wasn't a local or that I hadn't met hardly anyone down there before. We were all friendly and cheering each other on during the race, even if we were killing ourselves out there. It was also good to chat with Spears and a couple of the Half Fast Velo guys that made the trip. The guy that I spent most of my time battling, Ryan, was fun to race. We gave each other a hard time a bit while we were out there. When I passed him temporarily at the beginning of the bell lap I told him to stop coasting. He laughed and passed me for the final time about a 1/4 mile later. At the finish line he gave me a hi 5 and introduced himself. I told him he was killing me out there. I told him I thought he would be going just slow enough so that I would torture myself to catch him. Then when I got somewhat close he would blast away again. Torture is what it was. But it was fun.

The course is a blast. It is a mix of fields, singletrack, gravel, a twitchy descent (or run up depending upon how the course is run) with the occasional barrier thrown in. I really enjoyed today's layout. Because the course is not overrun with racers I feel like I can really practice some of my cross skills and do so without having to worry about 200 other racers clogging up things. If you have not experienced Psycho Cross you owe it to yourself to make the trip. It is a great set up with a great bunch of guys running it. Cyclocross without the first lap traffic jams of a Cross Crusade race is kind of awesome.

There were times when I really felt good today. I was hitting it pretty good out of the saddle on many of the straight aways. My max speed was pretty good. I doubt that there were too many racers during the 10am race that got any faster on the higher speed areas of the course that me. I felt great on the single track portions most of the time. Those things that I did well made me feel pretty good about my race overall. I am a much better cross'er than I was last year.

This race was really good for another reason--one of my biggest weaknesses was exposed in a undeniable way. Today's main weakness was that my acceleration is like that of a Cadillac--in other words, my acceleration sucks. I feel like when I am trying to get it going out of the turn or when trying to accelerate through mud that I am using a lot of gas but not getting anywhere. Guys just blow by me. But then once I get to a certain speed I am pretty good at reeling them back. Just like a Cadillac I can cruise at a high speed pretty comfortably. On flats I seem to have a taller gear, or greater max speed than many of those guys that accelerate faster than I do. That is the nice part. If I could just improve my acceleration I think I would make a significant leap in how I perform.

So how do I improve my acceleration? Anyone have suggestions?

Brian said (I think) that I might try some standing hill repeats on the bike. Seems like a good idea. Anyone else have any other suggestions? I would be greatful.

One obvious one is to improve my power to weight ratio. Right now I feel really am the big Cadillac going up against a pack of Subaru WRX's. The guys that beat me are usually skinnier than I am. Or at least I think so. I need to lose the remainder of my gut for next season. I lost a pretty good portion of it, but another 15 or 20 pounds would be ideal. Anyway, suggestions are encouraged.

The pictures at the top I found on someone's Flickr

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cyclocross Thoughts

I refuse to race at the Washington County Fairgrounds next year if they run the course though the rodeo arena again. Pass. I only do about 2/3 of the races so if I am going to miss some, that will surely be one of the them. I see no reason to run my bike and myself through bull crap (literally) again.

My Tuesday commute was great. I pounded the pavement on my way home and felt strong. Then Wednesday I hurt my back, fairly bad. It felt like someone was pushing their knuckles into the middle of my back. Same thing this morning. So I didn't ride yesterday night, nor today. But this evening things feel quite a bit better. I give a big thumbs up to Excedrin Back and Body for helping me out. Performance has been giving them out for free with some of the ship to store orders and often people just leave them. I grabbed a sample and I was mightily impressed with how quickly it went to work. Much better than Advil. So I think I will be able to race down in Eugene this Saturday.

We are supposed to get some more rain so Saturday's race ought to be much different from my last race down there. I am excited to see how things go. Muddy races have not been as common as one would think here in the Northwest. I will be racing Master C's again. I won my other race down there. But then there were only three other racers...

Circle P has been a nuthouse this week. It certainly has been entertaining.

The following link must be followed. Like Mr. Packfodder, I was rolling--nearly crying--when I read one poor guy's story about shaving a little too much.

Link to DON'T SHAVE THERE!!!

And finally, I would like to wish Fish the best of luck down in Arizona. He will be doing his first Ironman. Good job! You have done all the hard work already. He is the Diesel after all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Final Cross Crusade Race Or How I Rode Thru Horse and Bull Diarrhea




Yeah, this was part of the course. It was the rodeo arena where it smelled just slighly like sewage. Nasty stuff. During my first pass through the rodeo arena it it was easy to believe that it was the same consistency of tons and tons of diarrhea. Yeah, yeah, gross. But with that smell in certain spots it might as well have been. The rest of the course was technically tame. That is not the same a being easy though. Lots of long grassy stretches that were of the painfully bumpy sort.




I didn't take too many pictures, but you can see what at least the that small part of the course was like if you didn't make the race. The rest of the course was much different--bumpy grassy straight aways, some asphalt, and a little gravel.

I raced Master B's for the first time. I wasn't expecting to blow anyone's doors off, especially since I don't even do that in Master C's. I just wanted to see how I did racing against my betters. I managed to get 79th out of 90, but that was the preliminary results. It could change obviously. I am not terribly disappointed though. This is mainly becuase I was sure I was DFL by midway though the first lap. I couldn't believe it. I looked back at one point and there wasn't anyone there. So I put my head down and tried to catch those that near me. I passed a couple of guys and that was about it. Anyone else riding near me the rest of the race were the Masters 50+ guys. Some of those guys are rockets. Seriously fast they are. So I tried to just give it my best effort. The thing was, with no one immediately around me for much of the second lap it took some mental effort to do so. If there were more guys around me it would have been automatic. I would bet that I would have had a faster time had I raced back in the Master C's today because of the lack of racers near me in my class from mid way thru the 2nd lap on.

During the 3rd and 4th laps I was actually getting out of the saddle to push it, whereas this was not so much case during the first and second laps. I guess I should warm up more. Too bad I didn't have time today before the race. I didn't have much time to do anything before the race becuase I lingered at home to help my wife with the boys. But if I hadn't done so, there would have been some serious issues between she and I, so I just dealt with it and smiled and felt lucky that I got to go with her blessing at all.

When I finished I felt good, like I had another lap in me. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. Didn't I push it enough? Most of the time. Sometimes, I think I could have pushed a bit harder looking back at several stretches. Whenever there was a rider ahead of me I stepped up my game a bit--finding more in the tank that I thought I had. Thinking about that part of the race sort of irks me a bit.

Do I belong in Master B's? That is what I asked myself after the race. I don't know. Maybe not. This was not the best course for me and my style. Barton was more to my taste. These bumpy rutted courses really hurt my back, I don't especially like them. More mud would have been preferred.

I would have had to have been about 10% faster, or about 5 minutes faster, to finish mid pack. I am not sure much work it would take to get to that level. I am willing to do it, I just need a plan I suppose. I think had I had a great race I would have finished only about a minute faster, but that would not have made much difference today.

I just saw the results, and I looks like 4 of the guys I was counting were DNF, so in fact I was 79th out of 86 finishers. Ouch. But at least I wasn't last. And now I know how much I need to improve to be competitive.

Anyway, I glad I did it. I learned quite a bit. Next year I will be back on a more permanent basis. For the rest of the year (USGP, Psycho Cross) I will continue in Master C's/C's.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lulled into complacency

I rode to work Tuesday in the rain. Then I rode home Tuesday night in the rain. Then I rode to work on Wednesday in the wind and rain--a horrible combo by the way. Then Wednesday night I called Bridget to come get me because it was just nuts out there with the wind, rain and darkness. Even Spears called to tell me not to ride home. I appreciate the concern by the way. But the fact is I was dressed for the weather and the rides were not too bad. Tuesday night was actually some what enjoyable at times despite the rain.

On Thursday I rode to work and I saw the sun. It was relatively warm. Halfway to work I was removing the sleeves off my jacket (removable sleeves are great) and taking my cap off to keep me from overheating. It was a great ride in. Fast forward to night time when we closed shop. I had my P.I. bib knickers on which were perfect for the mid-50 degree temp on the way in. Especially with the sun shining. But when the temp was in the low 40's and dark the knickers were not enough. My full fingered gloves were not enough either. Freezing. Freakin' freezing cold on the way home. Sure my core was relatively warm and my feet because I had my shoe covers on, but my limbs, hands, face, and ears were not happy. And why? Because I packed light because it was so nice when I left the house at 10:30AM. At 8PM, clear and cold it was.

So in order to stay warm I rode hard. But the bad thing about riding hard is that you go fast. So the air when I was riding on the flats or down a hill was often below freezing when you figure the wind chill factor. Yeah, not enjoyable. So I lived and learned.

Another mistake. I stopped at a taco truck on the way home and had a couple of carnitas tacos. Ohh soo good, especially when I was starving. But I cooled down enough to make the next two miles especially miserable until I got to the hilly home stretch where at least my body's core warmed up again. Next time I will skip the tacos no matter how good they are.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Challenge, A Dare

This weekend is the LAST cyclocross race in the Cross Crusade series. I have raced 4 of the 7 races so far and, except for the first one, I have been for the most part pleased with my performance. Have I gotten a top 20? Nope. But out of the four races I have two that I placed in the top 25%, a third where I was in the top half and one that I am going to toss out my mental window because I was on the wrong tires for the race (but I still was not much past the 50th percentile). I know there are lots of you guys out there that have done much better than I have. So for those that are consistently placing in the top third or so of their respective classes I have a challenge for you: Move up for this last race to the next category. Obviously if you are racing A's this doesn't apply to you. What do you have to lose? I guess if you are in contention to be one of the top 5 in the overall I can see staying in your given category, but otherwise--Move UP! See what the big deal is in the next category up. Sleep in a bit more with the later start time. See what the course is like later in the day. See what it is like to race against only 80 riders instead of 160. Live a little, take the dare!

I plan to do the Master B race instead of my usual Master C race. I don't expect to place near the top or anything, but I don't think I will come in last. I am going to see if I can use this as a baseline as to what it will take to race Master B's all season long next year.

Brian/Brianero was again today trying to talk me into racing the Master A's with him. Umm no. [Plus, I have my doubts about finishing better than last no matter what he says in Master A's. Dude has only seen me race once at the most and I went to one cross practice with their team. I think he believes I am better than I am. Anyway...] I don't think moving up one class if you have been placing in the top third or even top half of your class a most of the time is extreme. I think it will just stretch us a bit.

Everyone step up! Try it, we may all be surprised at what happens. Or not. Either way we will learn something about ourselves and what it will take to do well on the grander stage.

So if you have any points in your class series, but not enough to make the top 5 or wherever the line is to win a series prize I hope to see you at the next level. And if you haven't but your name is Jim and you have a blog named Pack Fodder, I hope to see you doing the same. You want to race Master B's next year? Well let's see what it takes, even if that means we inhale the debris flinging off at us by 90% of the Master B field. Take the challenge.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More rain please

So please please please
Let me, let me, let me
Let me get what I want
This time


So goes the song by the Smiths and I am really wanting a typhoon or something similarly epic for this last Cross Crusade race of the year. Suffering. I want suffering for all in the worst weather possible. I want peanut butter mud with rain coming down in buckets and puddles the size at least a foot deep and 20 feet wide. Yeah, that would do.

Why would I wish for this? Because misery loves company. I am in a pissy mood and I think it would suit my mood to ride in that and I would be fun to have company in that sort of crap out there. After finishing I would feel at leas temporarily better about life. Not that life is bad, but it could be a bit better. At least we are all healthy and getting well enough in the house. Work is still work and this past week has been full of people, or rather just a couple of people, doing some really stupid things. At least the stupid stuff has nothing to do with me. But I am still frustrated with my situation.

I rode home from work tonight in the rain. I was offered a ride--twice--but refused. I was told I was foolish for riding home, but the ride really helped. The bike clothes kept me comfortable for the most part and despite the rain I was pretty comfortable. Pearl Izumi makes some great stuff. If it says "Am Fib" it is perfect for this sort of weather, low to mid 50's and plenty of rain.

Anyway, I know this post rambled a bit, but it helped. And again, as far as the bad weather so far this week--keep bringin' it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Updates: Cycling and Professionally

No racing for me this weekend. I need the money so I am working at the shop for a full shift today instead of going down south to race. And as far as for racing tomorrow--I am hanging with the family. They tire of me being gone on weekends. I will race at the Cross Crusade final next weekend, both days of the USGP and two of the final three Psycho Cross races. That will be the rest of my season--12 races total. Not too shabby.

So far I have 6 races in the top 50%, 4 in the top 25%, a 3rd place and a 1st place (both non-Cross Crusade Races with few other racers). I would count this a successful season thus far.

Professionally, I am still in a flux. I finished my Continuing Legal Education stuff this week. It was a three day conference--which is a reason why I wasn't posting much. I was busy with that and then I worked a few hours at the shop after it ended each day. The CLE was pretty informative and it gave me a chance to gain some perspective regarding my legal future. First of all, the job market is tighter than it has been here in years apparently. Second, going on your own is possible right out of law school. And it is possible to go solo on a shoestring budget. So that is what I am going to do.

I will forgo the office. I will instead make an office at home and do work from here and research at a library. I will have get a PO Box for business stuff. I will advertise narrowly and only after doing some more research among my colleagues regarding what has worked. I will call in favors to get a good web presence. I will spend some time trying to get some more contacts both in and out of the legal realm. I will probably focus a fair amount of my practice to family law because the initial costs are low and the ability to turn the work quick to get a paycheck is better. I may, in lieu of family law or in addition to it, get into one of a couple of other fields depending upon info I get from a couple of people.

These "I will" statements are the result of several conversations with local lawyers that have been through the start up phase. I don't know if these are the right answers, but it is the best that I have right now. I am still working on all of the details. Nevertheless, I feel like I have finally seen a possible path out of the forest. I am not sure if this path leads out the forest or deeper in it though. Frankly, to make this work I am going to need help. So if I call in a favor in the future, just know the following: I am desperate, I would only ask for the favor if I had no other way, and please feel free to advise me and tell me of another route if you think I am being foolhardy. I have been humbled over the past year and I am willing to listen if anyone who has something of value to say.

Up until this past month I really felt like going out on my own was not possible. Now I guess I am desperate enough to dream the impossible. I have little money, school loans are coming due and I am going to put out my own shingle. Sweet. I have no idea how to even practice law really. Law school does so little to prepare you to actually practice. But I do have a pretty good idea about how to figure it all out. I am a fast learner--I hope.

To be clear: I have passed the bar, but at this time I am not a practising lawyer. To hold myself out as a practicing lawyer would require me to obtain professional liability insurance which costs a substantial amount of money. Since I have been spending my time advising folks about which tube they should put into their tires instead of practicing law I had no reason to spend this money. So this post is not a solicitation for business. But soon. Very soon I hope. I don't want anyone thinking this post is about that because that would land me in trouble with bar for doing so without the insurance in place.

I am excited while fairly anxious. I think this will be a good thing. It will all work out if I can pay our bills, have some time for the family and some riding/racing and enough money left over for a new ride of some sort. I mean those are the necessities of life, right?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Barton Park Pictures

I just received the full size version of the picture below. I like it despite the blurr. Thanks to canis studio.



Below is Matt, who I battled on the last lap.

I swiped the pictures from the following sites: ratspike, brujo, and So So Velo. Thanks for being out there and risking your equipment in that mess!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I am FAMOUS!

I made the Daily Astorian's video report of the Cross Crusade race that went down a couple weekends ago. I am in there for a whole 2 seconds around the 48-50 second mark of the video. I am even hammering out of the saddle, oh yeah. Frickin' sweet!

Too bad I don't seem to be going too fast for my effort, but at least my gut doesn't seem to be showing.

My Definition of a Sandbagger

Sorry to be negative, but maybe someone can tell me why when a person has a resume like this:

that one would still be slumming it in the Master C's? It just seems silly. This rider's time would have placed him in the top 15 in Master B's out of 80-ish riders in that group. Dude, time to move up. Five top fives in the six Cross Crusade races is impressive, especially when thay are coming when the fields are often topping 150 racers.

I would love to move up. My time would have put me about 70th out of 80 in Master B's. I still may do Hillsboro as a Master B just for the heck of it. But to that dude up above, I just shake my head at you and a couple of others that also really should be up a class.

The thing is that it just makes no sense not to move up if you are the rider above. There isn't any prize for winning the Cross Crusade series as a Master C. Maybe you are in a competition for the BAR (Best All-around Rider) deal that OBRA does, but to get you points by staying in a lower level than your ability warrants is kind of cheesy. I hope that is not the reason these guys are still down in Master C's.

The top two or three guys are fast, and you DESERVE to be in Master B's. I think that is pretty cool. So move on up guys. It is past time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Barton Park: Race Report

I you read the prior two posts you know that my day started a little rough. But I was really cheered up for a few reasons:

Joel, the store manager was very willing to meet me at the bike shop so I could grab my bike. I was very appreciative.

Mike Rosenfeld, to whom I was selling some pedals, offered me one of a couple of bikes so that I could race. When I told him that they were too big, he said he was going to make some calls to see if he could find the right size.

Brian Spears was prepared to let me race his Salsa. He also offered encouragement by way of the following:
And hell, race the A’s! You’ll still beat people, I promise. Nut it up and don’t be intimidated. Even if you’re DFL, you’re at least out there.


Actually, I probably would have been willing to do the A's just to be out there today. Still, I would have been intimidated regardless of what Brian said. I don't think he know how slow I am compared to him and the other Master A's.

Lane at the shop text'd me and called to make sure that I was coming out too.

I really appreciated all of the help and encouragement. Once I got out there I was lucky enough not to have forgotten anything else. Due to all of the scrabbling to get out there, I only had a blueberry muffin on the drive in and then a gel about 15 minutes before the race.

Anyway...on with the race report.

44 guys out of the 160 Master C racers were called up today. Crazy that 44 different guys have managed to get a point by placing in the top 18 so far this year. Of course I have not managed to place that high so I am stuck back in the lottery. Because of a favorable lottery position I ended up being about 60 or more places back, which is pretty good considering that there were nearly a 100 guys behind me.

At the start whistle we were off--slowly. It just seemed to take for ever for the pack to get going. I tried to get an outside line so that I could be aggressive, but once things got to speed it was difficult and somewhat dangerous to get off the worn path into the loose gravel in order to pass. I still did it a couple of times, but it made me a little itchy to be out there for long.

Then, in the first slow muddy spot I made a stupid mistake. Actually, it was a total brain-fart. I meant to shift several gears easier, but instead I shifter about 4 gears harder. Duh. I guess I should ride that bike more. It is the only bike that I have with Campy shifters and I guess it hasn't become second nature yet. As a result of the mis-shift I actually had to dab and then shift to an easier gear. Everyone that I had passed plus several additional guys that started behind me went right on by. This totally torqued me off. "To have blown it so early..." was my negative thought that I had then, but I scrubbed it off and found a rider up ahead and concentrated on using him as a carrot to pull me back up the ranks.

I used this "carrot" method the entire race. It was usually pretty easy to see any where from 100 feet to a 100 yards ahead so this trick was effective. First it was some guy in a maroon and white jersey, then it was Jim Hinkley (Jim Medeiros' arch nemesis--missed out you there Medeiros) who I passed about 1/3 the way through the second lap.

Then it was some Organic Athlete rider that was the carrot, followed a Tireless Velo guy and then finally on the last lap it was Matt Eisiminger, who I used to work with at Circle P. There were a couple of guys between he and I and I don't remember if I passed them or not. I just put the blinders on and powered into a smaller cog and focused on bridging the gap. And slowly I started pulling Matt closer. In the asphalt parking lot in the actual Barton Park area of the course I thought I might be able to gain some more ground, but I actually lost a bit of ground initially. I stopped looking at him and just put my head down and pumped my legs. When I looked up he was closer and I just tried to carry some speed in to the short rocky, bumpy part that went through the bushes and trees. I did and I knew that for the first time I would be able to beat him in a race. He ended up only finishing about 10 seconds back of me, but that was enough. Matt was way cool about it, offering me encouragement as I passed him. I just had no energy to talk to offer any encouragement back. I hope he didn't think I was rude--I was just spent.

Running up the the finish line really hurt--I was trying not to get repassed by anyone. Once past the finish line I had to quickly find a clear spot to kneel down. I couldn't hardly keep myself up. My mouth was all frothy from the effort that last lap. It was a good feeling. Good to have felt like I did well, and good to be done.

This race hurt so much less than Astoria. I didn't have much back pain. The course was much smoother and still in good shape for our race. I understand that later races weren't so lucky. I also understand that there may have been a racer with a broken jaw, another one or two with broken collar bones, and a host of other with scrapes and even full body rashes from crashing. Gratefully, other than the one mis-shift issue, my race was pretty clean. Sure there were little errors here and there with a few bad lines, but nothing too horrible. I did wind up with a dirty/muddy chamois which made my crack a little raw, but that discomfort seems to have gone away at this point.

I forgot the camera again, but when I find some good pictures I will post them or link to them.

Oh and the Neuvation Carbon wheels--still solid. The Fangos did great as well. I know that Brian in particular thought I was a little nuts for running them, but the gamble paid off I suppose.

Whew! Got the Bike...

and made my race. Race report later. It was worth the trip out there though. I had a blast.

Sonofa....

I just realized that I left my bike at the shop and can't get it until noon tomorrow--too late to get to the race in time. In fact too late to get to any race in time except the A's.

Totally bummed...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

UPDATES: Neuvation C50's, Training Rides & Five Guys' Hot Sauce Nearly Does Me In

Here is some updated thoughts on the follow subjects:

Neuvation C50 Wheels. Today I finally got around to looking over my Curtlo from the Astoria Race. The new rear shifter cable had stretched just a bit and so that was adjusted. I adjusted the brake pads a bit as well. I looked that the wheels to see if they were still holding together and they were, but the rear wheel was just a slight bit out true. Maybe a millimeter or two away from being perfect. Lane at work straightened it and said that it trued up easily and required just a couple 1/8th turns here and there. I am not surprised, Astoria was hell in some places and I did not take it easy when it was bumpy. This was the first time they have been trued after the three races they have been used. The front wasn't touched. I still really like these wheels. If they continue to hold up I will probably buy a second set next year so that I have a different set of tires ready along with the Fangos.

Training Rides. I rode to work and back for the past three days. I try to make them training rides and since there is a far amount of elevation change over the 13 miles distance that I go each way it can make it pretty challenging if I push it--especially on the way back. I hate the last 2+ miles of my return ride home because of the 4 short steep-ish climbs that happen come when I am tired after riding both ways and being on my feet all day long. My legs tonight were dead. They just had nothin' in them. So I just sat in small chainring may more than usually and hated my ride home. It sucked. I had not had much to eat and because my wife went out to dinner with the kids there weren't any leftovers at home for me tonight. As a result about 2/3 of the way home--right before the hills start to hurt me--I stopped at the place that I shall call Devin's Kryptonite--Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries and their hot sauce. Ugh. I love this place. It is not good for me. Totally unhealthy. But this place is like kryptonite for me in that seeing this place on my commute makes me weak. It seems to bend me to its will if I get too close to it and then it drags me inside. Tonight I went back for the first time in about 5 days and I felt good about that...or not. Anyway, I went and tried something different, a bacon burger. No cheese because I need to stay on the healthy side of things after all. I had them put on hot sauce instead of ketchup and mustard. And of course no mayo--I hate mayo on sandwiches and burgers. The hot sauce is Frank's Hot Sauce, which I have never had before. It definitely has a kick. The burger was freakin' huge. This is what it had on it, lettuce, a couple of tomato slices, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, bacon, two patties, and the hot sauce. I had some fries too. Geesh...too much food. And the hot sauce activated something that apparently had been laying undisturbed. I am not saying that it was the hot sauce itself that was the trouble so much as the instigator of the trouble. Everything was fine and dandy until about 10 minutes after it hit my stomach. Yeah, trouble was brewing. Before I even left Five Guys the trouble was apparent. I continued my ride home I almost didn't make it without having a disaster in my P.I. Amfibs. As if I wasn't miserable enough with my rubber legs, I had to try and thread the needle between keeping stuff that wanted to explode out inside me and also trying to keep my toasted legs pumping onward the last 2.5 miles home to make it in the house unscathed. I mean too much effort and I might not be able to hold it all in, and without a sufficient amount of speed it was be similarly bad. Yeah...it was a delicate yet immediate problem. And did I mention that most of my remaining route was uphill? Yeah, maxing out tired legs and maxing out my sphincter retention powers was a little much for me tonight. Nevertheless, I made it home without either my legs or my rear blowing up...yea me.

I know, I know...TMI, TMI....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Couple more pictures

This is another picture I found of myself on the sosovelo website.


This first one I saw on the Oregon Velo website. I just think that the position that the rider is in is amusing. It sort of reminds of a dog and a fire hydrant, but maybe I have been hanging out too much with 3 and 5 year olds.

By the way the picture in the prior post came from Oregon Velo as well, and I even paid for it...seriously.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Race Report: Astoria

First off what is up with the weather? With plenty of sun and dry ground you would think that racing would be great...sure. But no, this race hurt. It was quite a difficult race.

Astoria was a double race weekend, just not for me. I could only race Saturday. I had to drive to meet the family in Black Butte later Saturday night. Actually, after riding on Saturday my back thanks me for having to other things going on.

I arrived at the Clatsop Fairgrounds with enough time to fully check out the course, but without a chance to ride it because of the races going on prior to mine. It would have been nice to know from the beginning that one could really just blast down that and the other long downhill runs. Once down in the meadow I learned that almost anywhere that there was grass there would soon be pain...in my back. Geesh, the course was brutal. There were a couple of good hill climbs as well. Because of these two course characteristics I was ready to be done after the third lap. Unfortunately after the third lap, the lap card at the finish line showed I had another 3 laps to go. Ugh.

At that point I seriously wondered why I was there. I thought "Why to I do this to myself?" Is my memory so short that I constantly forget how much it sucks during the cross race? I remember just hurting so freaking much. My back was dying. My legs were rubber. I was a little pukey once. Later in the race my right calf seized up (not enough water--totally my bad). And my handling skills were not so great at that point either.

During the race I was still getting the hang of the Fango tires. I wasn't able to lean on them as much as I can when using the Flexus tires on the packed dirt or asphalt. But on grass, and in the occasional soft turn they were rad. It just took me about 3 laps to figure out where I could turn hard and trust them. Not that I was handling the bike tons better during laps 4 through 6--I was often just trying to keep pedalling--but my confidence was better.

Somewhere around the middle of the race I passed a rider from Portland Velo. I don't know his name. The rest of the race was just about trying to keep him from re-passing me. I didn't know how I was doing in relation to everyone else. I didn't care, I just wanted to be done and beat that guy.

Oddly for all of the 5th lap I felt pretty good, except for climbing out of the meadow. That sucked every time. Oh, and the Masters of Hell (the Crusade organizers) there decided to toss a barrier in right in the middle of the uphill out of the meadow. It was a total momentum killer. At least I think I you could call what I had before the barrier, momentum. Anyway, what the heck was that about? Oh yeah, I forgot, they like to make us suffer.

On the 6th lap I found that I was about to get passed on the longer climb up the back slope of the fairgrounds. I managed to have the better line and then pedalled just hard enough to get to the downhill without getting passed. Those downhills were great. No brakes. Just let the bike fly down the hills. At that speed even the crappy bumpy grass sections just kinda smooth themselves out. I carried pretty good speed through the rest of the course and managed to keep some guy behind me at the finish--not the Portland Velo guy. The PV guy was back one more spot. I don't know what the guy that almost passed me looked like, I just heard and felt him on my back tire.

That course put the hurt on everyone. So while I am disappointed I didn't finish higher, I can't say that the course singled me out over anyone else. Really, my main excuse for not finishing in the top 1/4 again is that I am still heavier than I should be and thus I use up too much of what power I have hauling too much extra fat up those hills. In order to do well there (other than losing more weight) I would have needed a little help--as in some rain. If the conditions had been a little more damp it would have smoothed out the course. If it had been swampy that would have slowed everyone down and it would have rewarded those bold enough to open it up a bit on the descents.

I finished 29th out of 61 finishers. Total racers were 63 for my race. 2 of them DNF'd--lucky guys...



[THIS IS WHERE I START TO MEANDER--BEWARE!!! RACE REPORT OVER]

I talked to a couple of guys that raced Sunday instead of Saturday there. All of them said it was miserable as well. One said it was the hardest thing he had done in his life. What is up with that? Why do we do this? Why is that at some point in every race I curse myself for torturing myself for 45+ minutes? You would think I/we would learn. It is one thing if you are winning, but for those that are in the pack or at the back, WHY?

It is the same thing every race. I find that I start getting anxious the morning of the race (luckily not so much the night before so I am able to sleep). This anxious feeling builds until the last couple of minutes before the race. Those are the worst. That is when I come face to face with the fact that hell awaits me and that it is too late to do anything about it. I am committed at that point even with the knowledge that this is going to hurt. It is like standing there knowing the bully is going to punch you in the playground, but you don't run away. You take it standing up.

The race starts and I forget about the inevitable pain for a lap or two as I concentrate on getting the course lines down in my head and avoiding pile-ups (some poor sap ran right into the side of the entrance to the passageway that we passed through in the horse stalls--Ouch! Others lost it on the asphalt on the first lap). Then around midway the pain starts to hit (Keep in mind that it hits even though I do a preemptive Ibuprofen dosage before the race). Yeah, that is when I have to overcome myself and my own weakness. Sometimes I do better than at other times. Cross racing just really hurts and there is nothing to do other than stand up and pedal through it even when I wonder if I have the strength to get off the dang saddle.

Then there is almost always a lap (or sometimes less) of relief. I don't know why this happens after the mid-race misery, but the only time that it didn't in my memory was at Alpenrose this year (I was too banged up and frustrated to ever get to the sweet spot).

After this brief respite comes the final stage where I just want the race to be done, but I want to finish strong. The end of the race I generally give it everything I have left to either pass someone else or to keep from getting passed by one more rider. At times my peripheral vision has gone a bit blurry or I have almost hurled on myself from the effort sometimes at this stage of the race. Sometimes my heart feels like it will leap out of my chest. Then it is over and I find myself leaning on my bike.

I doubt I am in the minority in this regard. I think most of us out there go to a point of exertion during these short races well beyond what the majority of the population has ever done (not including mothers--that is just nuts, giving birth). That goes for whether you are racing as a beginner or an "A". We suffer. And we do it almost weekly for about 2 or 3 months straight. Some who haven't raced think we are slightly off when they read or see pictures.

Are we stupid? Well, maybe but that fact has little to do with why were are out there. No, we suffer because we can. Because it makes us better. It may for some of us make up for the stupid stuff that we have to go through during the week. For me, it gives me a place to lodge the frustration that has resulted from still not being able to find a position with any entity that will allow me to practice law. Passed the bar exam last year but still not practicing, damn it. That some of that mental anxiety, frustration and depression has been used for fuel in training and racing. I am the fastest I have ever been. And I will get faster. I am the thinnest I have been since the the mid 1990's. And I will get thinner because it will make me better/faster.

Bring it on. I will suffer. And I will smile when I am done. No matter how much it sucks and no matter how much I question my sanity during the heat of the battle it is the one area of my life that I have some control. I choose this. I choose to be there. I choose to suffer. I choose to push through what I think is possible, albeit many times I don't seem to be getting through that barrier. But I think that every time I am out there I am taking steps to become what I want to be. Yes, I compare myself to others by way of where I place in the race. But I don't go out there so much to beat anyone in particular but to beat my results last year or last month or last week. I know I can be better, even if at times I just feel so damn pathetic and weak. Yeah, I still suck. Mid pack Master C's...big whoop. I have a bike that is way better than my abilities warrant. But I will continue to get better. That has been my track record over the past few years...continual improvement...even if it seems like it is at glacial pace sometimes.

Cyclocross has become a refiners fire for me. Once I do actually get to practice law I know that my racing will benefit me there too. I can push through stuff that sucks. I can push my body when it says/screams "NO!" I can do that in law too when I get the chance.

Barton Park next week. See you there.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Post Ride Recommendation: Five Guys Burger and Fries (the Best Burger In Oregon)

EDIT: Ok Ok Ok beside the guys that commented I have talked to about 4 others that have asked if I have tried this place or that for a burger. Umm...no I haven't tried every single place in town that is worth its salty fattiness. So maybe the title of this post should be best burger "I" have ever had in Oregon. Nevertheless, I am very interested in all of your suggestions.

I consider myself to be a true lover of the hamburger. I don't always have to have the best burger in the world to appreciate the wonder of the burger. Being from Southern California, I love In-N-Out Burgers. I eat them like crazy every time I visit my parents in California. I love the Burger Supreme Restaurant in Provo where I did my undergrad. I mean I even like McDonalds burgers, especially the cheap little ones that now come in a Happy Meal--I just hate the McDonald's cheese. These are just some examples of the types of burgers I enjoy. Some are cheap, some are super fresh and some are just full of flame broiled goodness. But I don't really like to compare them to each other because, well, like the those listed above, they are too different to compare really. After all, I would never choose a McDonalds hamburger when it was sitting side by side with an In-N-Out burger, that would be idiotic. But when I want a quick bite, sometimes the McDonalds burger fits the bill perfectly.

Here in Oregon we have many of the standard fast food joints. They all have their good and bad points. I don't really feel like anyone of them is the best or anything. I do like the Carl's Jr Western Bacon Burger, Jack in the Box sucks for regular burgers their spendy Ciabatta ones are fine (and I like their cheap tacos), Whoppers are just OK, etc. There are the one offs that I quite like, such as George's and Giant Burger. They are sort of close to the Burger Supreme that I mentioned before.

When we visited Virginia several years ago when I was considering going to one of a couple of law schools out there (and if I had I would probably have a better paying gig by now had I attended one of those...grrrr) we went to a place called Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I was a little timid about it and only had a small burger without all of the fixin's, just lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mustard. Boring, but it was pretty good.

Fast forward to tonight. On my commute there is a Five Guys that just opened either today or yesterday. I have been watching for the "NOW OPEN" sign ever since the sign went up that it was coming. That seems like ages ago. I almost stopped and ate there on my way in to work, but I didn't want to be rushed. On the way home I again almost stopped and walked in but I figured I should go home and see if I could help get the kids to bed. I figured that Bridget might want a late night snack too and so I could head back before they closed. I pedaled home to find an empty house. I called and found out everyone was out at various places, safe. Sweet, I was on my own! With our car sitting in the driveway it looked like it was time to head back to get some grub.

Five Guys just looks like burger joint. Nothing special except for the bags and bags of whole potatoes sitting all over the place. The bags of potatoes eventually will all be used to make french fries and they are always there in the dining area. Five Guys has a box of shelled peanuts that you can munch on as you wait to order or to get your food. And yes, it will take a bit to get your food. Everything is totally fresh so it takes a little bit to cook. The menu is simple, burger fries and hot dogs. I ordered the regular cheeseburger with everything but the mayo. I don't do mayo. But I did get grilled onions, grilled/sauteed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, ketchup and of course the cheese and what turned out to be two patties that come with the regular size burger. It is huge. It was messy. It was freaking perfect. Holy crap it was amazing. I had some expectations for the burger, but I wasn't expecting the best burger that I have ever had in this state. All of the flavors just went together. The fries are great too. Cut and fried right there in front of you. They had the perfect combination of grease, salt, and crispiness.

Now, there are a host of other things you can get put on your burger there. BBQ sauce, hot sauce, jalapenos, and several other things that I can't remember off the top of my head. I can see that I am going to need to make some trips back soon to try a few different things.

Prices aren't cheap, but I promise it is worth it. Here is the website: http://www.fiveguys.com/

Now I stated that this is the best burger in Oregon. Is it the best burger that I have ever had? Hmmm. Not sure. But is has to be in the conversation. And it is only 2.5 miles from our house according to my cyclometer. It is going to be rough staying below 190 lbs. from here on out.

Oh, and Fish...they have them in Utah if you didn't know that already. I hope they are as good there as they are here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Commuting

Well, I am back to it. During the summer I was pretty good about riding to work and back. Once it got close to Bridget's due date I started driving more. Then after the birth I stopped riding to work all together so that I could leave later and get home sooner. But things are more or less on a schedule and it is time to once again start riding to work and back, at least most days.

The commute there is not too bad, it takes about 45 minutes to get 13 miles. But on the way back it takes longer since there are hills to climb to get back to home. Plus I don't like to ride as fast since it is dark. I have a light but I don't feel confident riding 20+ mph in many of the areas that don't have street lights. And even in areas that do I often don't go as fast as I could. So on the way back it takes about 10 minutes longer. But basically I get in two cyclocross length rides in every day that I ride to work and back. I think that will be a good thing long term, but for now I can tell that after a couple of days of this I am going to be a little worn out. I am just not used the work load of riding 25+ miles a day 4 or 5 days in a row. I expect that my legs will be a little toasted for the next cross race or two. Oh well.

Riding at night is interesting. Sort of scary, but not overly so. I don't have to ride through any horrible areas, unless you think downtown Beaverton is a bad part of town. The scary part comes from not really knowing what is on the road more than 30 feet in front of you many times. Or from wondering if my tail light is doing a good job of letting an unattentive driver that I am on the road. Yeah, that stuff worries me. But I do feel good riding and I like that fact that when I get home I can eat whatever the heck I want. Truly a bonus.

In other news today I finished gluing my 7th tubular tire in the past 3 weeks. This time it was for a customer and not a fellow employee or myself. The wheel was a Zipp disc wheel and the tire a spendy Tufo. I felt a little pressure to do a good job obviously and dang if I didn't get that tire pretty close to perfect. My best glue job yet. Road tires definitely are easier to get straight that a cyclocross tire. I don't know what the shop is going to charge this guy but it will be worth it, even if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Odds and Ends 10/21/08

NOTE: For those that read this earlier, sorry that it was such a cluster. I must have been really tired last night when I wrote it. There may still be errors, but I have to get going to work now.

I have about 5 little bits of news and opinion.

1) I really like the crossresults.com website. The main thing I use it for is to just geek out over myself and others I know. The website allows you to look up any rider and see his or her results. This is not just for races in Oregon, but in many other areas of the country. They have results cataloged for 340 races and 18,000+ racers. Sure that is pretty cool, BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Not only can you look up past results you can see if you have been generally improving by looking at one of several graphs, your finish breakdown (top or bottom 50%, top 25%, top 10%, wins, etc.) and what racers you own and who own you. It is a great way to obsess about cyclocross in between races. I highly recommend it.

2) I tried to mess around with my cable routing and cable attachment in an effort to get away from the Jtek Shiftmate that I have used on my Curtlo the last couple of races. The Shiftmate is designed to allow me to use a Campy 9 speed shifter with a Shimano 9 speed deraileur. With the way I initially had it worked, but when the terrain became especially rough it would occassionally ghost shift. That sort of bugged.

So I tried various ways of attaching the cable to the rear derailleur in an effort to change the amount of that the derailleur moves when the shifter is clicked. One good resource for mating the unmateable is over at ctc.org.uk. I also found Leonard Zinn at Velonews to be a valuable resource for mating Campy and Shimano. In the end I found that unless I want to use a 10 speed Campy shifter with my 9 speed shimano cassette and derailleur instead of my Campy 9 speed shifter I need to keep the Jtek Shiftmate on the bike.

But I figured out a way to route it much much more cleanly so there the thing doesn't seem to bounce around much at all. I will take picturesn later of the way it sits now. Basically, I was able to get it to work pretty well and then Lane at work refined it so that it would be a winner. We will see over the coming weeks.

3) Neuvation Wheels. I really really like these wheels. They are stiff. They are reasonably light. They have taken the abuse they have been given in two races without any issues.

The carbon pads that John at Neuvation sent with the wheels work really well. Stopping has not been an issue at all. Braking was somewhat of a concern prior to buying them. I have heard of people having problems stopping with carbon rims. Not so yet, but haven raced them in soupy mud yet. Raced them in the wet and in the mildly muddy conditions at Alpenrose without issue, but I don't consider that a real test. I am thinking about the conditions that existed at Hillsboro last year.

I only have one issue,and it is more my problem that their problem. I still worry about them when I go over sharp edged rocks. I worry that if the tire compresses to the rim that it will damage the rim. This has happened at least a half a dozen times during the two races and the rims show no marks. Still, I worry a bit. I think that over time as they show themselves to be durable I won't worry as much.

I won't give a final grade on these until after the season is over, but for know, they are doing fine.

4) Challenge Fango Tires. Not enough info yet. I like them last Saturday. The casing feels pretty good. I can't give them the final grade either until I get them in the mud. It was dry on Saturday and they did fine, but so do my Tufos in the dry stuff.

5)I am tired. One of my boys was up sick last night and so I didn't get much sleep. He upchucked near midnight, but luckily that was it. He had a fever off and on the rest of the night. I didn't sleep from 11:30pm until nearly 4am. Then I fell asleep in the rug on the floor of his room so that I could be close by should he feel the need to vomit again. He was doing much better this morning, better than I really.

First off all, whenever there is puking involved in an illness here at the house I become immediately worried. I worry for the sick person of course, but I also worry about my own impending doom. I wonder how many hours I have until I also throw up. In fact I was immediately nauseated when Jack tossed his cookies. I thought I was getting sick too. Was I? Now I feel mostly fine, so it was apparently all in my head. This is annoying that I am so mentally weak that I become ill at the first whiff of vomit. I constantly was analyzing whether I was feeling like I had the flu. It was just dumb.

And if you have ever spent about 4 or 5 hours sleeping on the floor you will understand that my rest last night was not especially restful. There is no comfortable position there for me. I just hope to remain in a position that doesn't cause me to hurt for the next few days. Plus everytime either Jack or Ryan coughed or made some noise I was immediately awake in case I had the grab the vomit bucket for them.

In the end, Ryan didn't get sick and Jack's illness was over by this morning. I was still nauseated, probably due to lack of sleep, until about 2 or so this afternoon. But all is well that ends well.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Brianero's Cross Crusade #3 Report

Brianero emailed this to me tonight after the Rainier race. Too bad I missed it. I had other commitments today and could not race.
After being sick last week, I knew that I shouldn’t have done a double this weekend and I paid for it dearly today. All of us that raced yesterday were knackered but I know my body and know that I was far more in debt than I should have been. You didn’t do Rainier last year, right? I was reminded of a video I have somewhere of the Koppenberg cross race where the horrible cobbled climb just destroys the field. Today’s climb and bumps just annihilated me. My back hurt before! Last night, this morning and all the way up to the line. To hear people complaining of their backs hurting after one little race just elicited a bitter, dusty laugh from me.

We need rain. We need the epic conditions that draw us to this.


And he is right I wasn't able to go last year to Rainier. Brianero went down to Psycho Cross where he raced and performed very well. He looked like he was really freakin' strong. Judging by his short report I am sure it was brutal out there.

It doesn't sound like the sort of course I excel at anyway. Hilly? ugh. Those up and down courses destroy me. But it looks like I am a go for Saturday's Astoria race followed by a no-go on Sunday.

I will give a better Fango/Neuvation report within the next day or so.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Psycho Cross #2: I was #1!

Get this true believers--I came in first place! (Disclaimer: there were only 4 people racing Master C)



I felt great and I rocked the race. Everyone just got out of the way as I went by! (Disclaimer: Well at least the guy that lost his chain, the guy that flatted, the junior racing the Beginner class that I lapped, and some other random guy)



After my win today I am feeling confident that it will soon be time to move up to Master B's! (Disclaimer: By confident I mean that I don't think I will be DFL, and by soon I mean I will decide to do a race as a Master B some time within the next 2 years or so...maybe more.)



Ok, ok, time to get a little more serious. I drove down today with Lane, AKA Spider McCloud, keeping me company. It was to be Lane's first cross race. Frankly, I was impressed that he came. I figured that, like most of the guys at the shop, he would bail on me. But nope, I picked him up as planned.



Once we arrived down at Camp Harlow we started getting set up to race. I had debated whether or not to race Master C's or Master B's. I wussed out and decided to race with Lane so that we could leave and head back to Portland once the race was done instead of sticking around for another hour. I felt a little guilty about being down there since I was missing work which costs us money. Well, that is what I rationalized and so I was on the starting line at 10AM with the other Master C's and the C's for the mass start.



I was on the front line but for some reason I just sucked off the start. I mean I got passed by about a dozen guys right away, including Lane in his virgin cross race. At this point I was just wondering what the heck was going on. I had been under the weather this week, but I didn't expect to get worked over by everyone right off the bat.



But, about a half mile into the first lap I started feeling ok and started passing a few guys, including Lane (whew, thank goodness). I ended up getting stuck behind a slower fellow in the singletrack section. He wouldn't get out of the way despite the guy behind me yelling "Damn it, we're getting gapped! We're getting gapped!" a few times. This was true, the guys that made it in front of me were long gone by the time we were through the long singletrack. I managed to catch up with a couple of them later in the race but since they were C's they didn't affect my placement. All of the Master C's were behind me by this point in the first lap. I just didn't know it.



Fast forward a few laps. On the third lap (I think) I passed a guy that had been ahead of me, his name is Paul and he is on the Portland Velo team. The dude is pretty fast, but he was having difficulties. I think he said he dropped his chain on the single track section and I passed him, only to have him blow back by me on the bumpy rutted flattish sections later. Then he ate it over a little short 6 inch metal barrier and I caught him again. Then I caught up with him again on the fourth lap in the singletrack section because he got behind a slower rider, a junior racing Beginner class. But once we got out to the open flat ground he blasted off again. Then on the final lap I again caught him in the singletrack. I thought to myself that it would be sweet to actually be able to pass him and hang on for just the half of a lap that was left. The fact that it was the half of the lap that he wasted me for each of the other 4 laps was really beside the point. I was right behind Paul going into the triple barricade section and sandy run up. I really don't like those steep run ups. Skinnier guys usually torch me at those spots normally. But I maxed my effort and hung with him going up and was right on his tail when we re-mounted. I stayed right behind him as we enter the fields. I tried to pass him at one point but was unable to get past him since he had the better line and better position on me. As we went into the barriers I went in hot and managed to get along side him and we were getting back on our bikes at the same time side by side.



At this point I remember thinking to myself that I had him, that I would be able to pass him. But, um...no. I couldn't get into my pedals and once I did I was in to tall a gear because I had gone into the barricades without shifting down into a more appropriate one before dismounting. So Paul went on ahead and I tried to catch up but I could not bridge the gap. I shut it down for the last 100 yards and tried not to vomit on myself. I was seeing dark spots in my vision. I think that was about as close to passing out as I have ever come during a race.



Paul and I, we had been having a bit of conversation here and there during the race congratulated each other. It was a good battle and I felt good to be in the game at the end of the race with him. He has had some pretty good finishes this year--better than I have--and he really is in better shape than I. But since he was racing regular C's instead of Master C's I ended up in first place there. The faster riders were all in C's. But I think I did OK. I thought I had a decent race. If Paul hadn't had issues I wouldn't have been close to him on that last lap, but that is OK. I still hung tight for half a lap with a better rider and rode well enough that his bobbles were all I need to get close to him.

Lane had a great time he said and I think he will be back for more. So the cyclocross disease has probably spread to at least one more person this weekend. And he was hungry enough from the race that he downed two Big Mac on the way back from the race. I was impressed.



Still I wish I was faster. I think I am getting there. My running has helped. I have learned to throw it in a lower gear so that I can stand and mash the pedals out of the saddle when the course gets pretty rough instead of sitting in the saddle. This takes more energy, but it is faster and doesn't beat me up as bad. I need to be more aggressive at the start. I need to ride more.



Lucky for me my wife is letting me start commuting back and forth to work again. It had been more helpful for me to be at home more to help out with the newborn and our boys, which is possible when I drive back and forth to work instead of riding. However, since we won't have the use of a second car anymore since Bridget's sister's family is back from their 6 week trip to Europe. So, my training will be ramping up once more.



Here are some pictures of the course and the B race that my friend and frequent commenter Brian was in.