Friday, October 30, 2009

Winning the Battle Thus Far

The weight battle that is. As previously stated I want to try and maintain 160 or below going into the next season so that I may race next year 5 or so lbs lighter. I raced at 158 for most of this season and 152 sounds a little better for next year. If I can maintain it over the winter I'll be very happy. I've had a few heavy days due to parties and some awesome food but at the moment my diet is dialed and I'm back to 157.2 this morning. It's very motivating as it's only going to help my current CX racing and hopefully keep that weight down to keep progress moving forward for next year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Westwood CX Reflections

I was just looking back at my training log and realized that yesterday's race was ride #11 on the new CX bike. Nothing like getting acquainted before beating your brains out on a new bike :-)

This was my first real CX race since I was on a CX bike. I did one other CX race in 2007 on my Trek hardtail but the feel just wasn't right. And for comparison the numbers are interesting. That race in 2007 I finished 7th of 14 which was nice and comfy right in the middle of the pack - and then yesterdays results - 18th of 37. Middle of the pack is where it's at!

I'm going to mentally and physically prepare a little better for the next one to see how much better I can fair and really try to get my HR up and push some limits. If I can do this now it's only going to help my fitness and hopefully translate into some better racing next year.

Up next is the Jamesburg CX. Hopefully that little checklist of mistakes not to do will get a little smaller and I'll be riding a little more fluidly.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Westwood Velo CX Race

After having a few hours to finally let the race from today sink in I may actually be able to describe what happened. First thing was I didn't get as much of a warm up as I would have liked. I was a little too casual about this race and well I didn't really care what happened. So I nonchalantly went about warming up and getting to the line and all that good stuff. So not only was I cold on the line but I didn't get a good starting position. I chose my spot - well pretty closely to the back of the field. There's actually a pic that shows 9 people behind me in a field of 40. Not a good way to start.

I felt ok off the line but couldn't put down enough to get out of my own way, or others. My start killed me as I was caught in the slog behind the others just trying to navigate the 7 or so hard turns after the first climb. This REALLY slowed me down. Problem #3 was that I didn't get a chance to preride the course. So I didn't know where the good lines were. I tried lines but they were abominable. I had to put many a foot down just to try and correct my errors. After maybe 3 laps I got a good feel and settled in. Through two more I was gaining momentum and then the last lap came and I gave it all I had. It was a little too late though. I felt I rode well but could have rode much better.

Problem #4 came when I didn't have practice with the runup and wasn't sure how to shoulder as well as to downshift before the run up so I could ride easily from the top which didn't happen. Of the field which was somewhere between 31 and 40, I finished 18th. Not bad for my first true CX race. I did one in 2007 but it was on my MTB and wasn't really a true effort. This was more true to form and a really fun but tricky course to ride. I see that there's a whole lot more in the tank for this CX stuff with a little more practice and could be a sweet way to stay in shape for the fall. I'll be back for more. In two weeks there's a possibility for two CX races in one weekend. Let's see how I feel by then but they could be in the cards.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Battle Has Begun

Base training is going to start in late December - early January and the battle is for the weight to stay low until base training starts. Then it should be easy to shed any extra pounds. With the dwindling daylight it seems tough as always to stay motivated, training, and just active in general. Looking back in my log I was maintaining a 175 lb weight into December and then it reached 184 at the end of January as a result of my car accident. Since then my weight has dropped significantly - about 25 lbs or so. The idea is that if I can start next season with a lower weight, then I should be able to start next year on a stronger note and hopefully race a few pounds lighter and have better results next season.

So far the goal is to do 4 or 5 of the NUE series 100 milers, some of the local H2H races and maybe even a stage race or 24 hour race or two. Everything will be a lot nicer with fewer pounds to lug around and more fitness to help me through the long season. Now all it takes is some time and some events to be announced so that I can set up next year's schedule and I'll be happy. From looking back at last year the NUE races were announced in early November so hopefully it'll be around the same time this year that I'll know. I do know for sure (at least from what I've been told) that my first big race is 6 months from tomorrow!

2010 is going to be fun!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Braving the elements

With this oh so lovely weather, it's hard to not get depressed and want to lay on the couch and get fat. On the other hand I have too much pride or rather foresight? to not do that and get off my lazy butt and get out and do some riding. So out comes the CX bike and I rode this route that I normally do in the winter time. It's a nice mix of dirt, road, gravel, singletrack, doubletrack, you name it. I had a buddy come out with me that made it so much more doable. Usually if I'm in this situation with cold rainy conditions, I'll do it, but I'll be grumbling most of the way. At least today with the two of us we had some entertaining times and chatted it up enough to the point where it was a fun ride. Although the head wind on the way back for 5 miles was like meeting a nice old friend - that wanted to kick you in the nuts. It was just draining enough to be annoying and nasty and not the best way to end a ride. Regardless a good day on the bike.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tour de Lake

This past Saturday was my 3rd attempt at the Tour de Lake as my previous bests were my 2nd attempt with a finish of 10th of 19 and in a finish time of 2:12. That race went off pretty fast so I thought that my finish time would hopefully be around the same time and maybe a little quicker. Well here's how it went.

First of all I was still trying to drain all of this wonderful mucus from my head as I'm in the process of kicking a head cold and it was still evident that it didn't want to let go of me quite yet. I knew this would make the race interesting, especially as the intensity heated up. It proved to be pretty tough.

The peleton pulled out in the controlled start and we did the usual twists and turns around Lake Hopatcong fairly controlled and slowly. Partially cause I was in front driving the pace. Every time the others gave way and let me lead I put the pedals down but only as a nice facade. I wanted to save my juice so I would only put down a little as I watched my HR drop leading the peleton. That was kinda interesting since I heard later that it seemed like I was doing a lot of work up front - which I wasn't :-).

We made the left onto 181 and as usual the hills made things heat up and a few attempts were made to kick some off the back - and it worked. I was committed to hang onto the leaders wheels and that's where I stayed. It ramped up and slowed down, and I was right with the big dogs. Down to the end of E. Mountain road and down the big hill driving towards Ogdensburg we caught some cars that wouldn't let us go so a lot of riders jumped back on.

At the bottom of the big hill we all regrouped and then set a decent pace towards the dreaded Edison hill. 3 miles of fun, unrelenting, painful riding. So we were working well and a guy jumped off the front. No one wanted to chase so we let him go. This was just as an ambulance rolled through which neutralized our pace and let the flyer go free for a little longer than comfortable for some. Up Edison we were all together until a nice steep pitch where my teammate took off. He cranked hard and attacked and I tried to go with the group but there was no way to match. I was now in a group of 12 or so and we were all seeing red as we cranked up the steady inclines. I passed a few and kept on it as I saw my teammate and the other leaders ride out of sight. Over each incline I kept on it seeing those I passed closely behind. Of course I needed some others to work with to keep the pace high.

After the end of Edison and heading onto the flats towards Weldon I got in a group of 4 riders. Ahead lay a group of 5 and the lone man that got the jump before Edison. As my group pacelined we reeled in Dave Lyons who had been shot off the front group. So now we were a group of 5 and kept it into Weldon Rd. This is a nice steep but short climb with a few rollers ahead. After a little while two got shot off the back and now it was a group of 3 I was in. I looked at the strength of these guys and was happy to be hanging in. My goal was to hang as long as I could as my legs were starting to cramp as a result of the amazingly high HR we were pushing. I was seeing red as I was just hanging in the draft. I would push hard for my effort and then quickly sit in to save whatever juice I had left.

Through the neighborhoods we cranked as our group was looking like the 6th through 8th place finishers. I was hoping I could hold onto these guys or MAYBE even jump and get ahead of them to take that 6th place. But before that we hit some turns and the 4th and 5th place guys could be seen just ahead. There were two slight climbs that remained ahead though. The next climb one of my group shot ahead and I couldn't react so he got away. Then on the next climb the same thing happened with Dave. He accelerated and I couldn't match. So now I was in 8th all alone and cranking towards the finish with the others in sight but not reachable.

Across the line I rolled in 8th place of 65 starters and a very happy man. My finish time was 2:02 and the best finish so far in this race. Especially given that the start was so slow I was amazed at the finish time. Also especially since the winner - my teammate Brian - was only 2 minutes ahead. It showed a great mark of improvement especially with my cold that was depriving me of much needed oxygen. All in all a great day, great race, and great people to race with. I'll be looking forward to this again next spring!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's better to be lucky than good

As the cliche goes, I guess it's true. I just looked through my fart sack(seat bag) on my bike and needed to use my multi-tool for something, so I figured I'd check out how all of my stuff is doing since I haven't really thought about it much. Well I guess it's good that I looked in there. I pulled out my spare links and piece of chain that was rusted and frozen. And the best part was that I pulled out my spare tube, that was my lifeline for most of the entire season, and it had a hole in it. Luck was on my side. There's never a good time to get a flat tire, so I'm glad that I found it when I did. What can I say besides Kenda Karmas rock!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Officially a Cat3

I've been doing a little social racing and talked to a few informed sources and figured that the Cat 4 races would be ok and probably fun since I'd do well, but the consensus was that Cat 3 races are where I should really be for CX. So I did a little research and it seems that if you are a Cat 1 XC racer then you can upgrade your CX cat to match or something like that. So I figured that I'd take the jump and submit my request to USAC and see if they'd actually approve me(Since they shot me down for my road upgrade). Well in probably an hour or less I received a notification that I have officially been upgraded to a Cat3 CX racer and will have a slightly longer race and a more competitive field. Sounds like fun to me. Now if I can only figure out how to get over these darn barriers smoothly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CX Practice Last Night

In anticipation of this fall's CX races, I got together with a few fellow riders and did a little practice dismounting, mounting, shouldering, and running some barriers. I have completed one CX race on my mtb so I am not that unfamiliar but a few of the little uncertainties had me curious. I never realized that I was so awkward going through the barriers and the fact that I wasn't quite mounting properly. The mounting problem seamed to be easily fixed. The barriers not so much. I'm pretty comfortable with the whole riding on the side of the bike and stepping through to run but that's where it falls apart. It's going to take a little more practice to get the barriers done smoothly. It feels like I don't have my stride working well so I need to hesitate to run over the first barrier, but then when I make it I jump to much and then the bike settles and I drop it lower makeing me have to throw it up higher again which is making it harder to get over the 2nd barrier. Practice makes perfect...or something like that.

The best part is that the park that I practice at has a pretty large field that is normally mowed pretty well, but now for some reason they have let it grow long , but carved nice, twisty, intersecting paths all throughout the fields. This makes perfect CX practice. The ground is fairly smooth except for one really rough section and there's perfect spots to open it up and do a few sequential hairpins which were really tight and hard to navigate at speed. The best part is I can ride there right from my place. So a nice 30 min ride, then an hour of practice and then a nice 30 min cooldown riding home. Not too shabby! I'm diggin this whole cross thing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ringwood was a no go...

As I awoke this morning, my head cold had traveled into my lungs. Not a great feeling to wake up to. I still did contemplate the thought of racing as I may move a trivial spot or two in the H2H standings as the battle for 13th place was getting hot - not really. So in smart move to kick this cold and get better for next weekend's road race and the upcoming CX season I bowed out and played cheerleader for the day. It was great to get out and see everyone and just have a nice day in the park. Everyone was riding super strong and I definitely made a correct decision. It was nice to see it from the other side as this officially closes the MTB season for me. Up next some fun hard short races and some enjoyable fall riding.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Riding Has Other Perks

With training over the last year I've noticed many changes. My body for sure as I went from 184 lbs. around X-mas time(due to the time off since the old _____ hit me with his Nissan) to hovering in the high 150's. At one point probably the lowest I saw was 155. That's a tremendous change in one season and something I'm really going to try to maintain over the winter. I know I've gotten exponentially faster as a result of that and the training combined. I'm just curious as to how next season will go if I start it off at 160 or so and then really ramp up the training. I could see my weight dropping to around 150 but I wouldn't want to go any lower than that. A few pounds might shed, but below that I'd be losing muscle which is not the goal.

The other cool thing is that structurally I think I am becoming stronger. Here's a brief history lesson. In 1999, after a cool few days at the Woodstock festival, I went to my folks place in upstate NY to relax and chill - this was before my biking days. So the new toy was my cousin's wakeboard. We jumped out in the water and figured out how to get up on it and I figured I'd try to up the ante a little and pull off a 180 and get this party started. Well it just happens that I pulled a 90 - which was not good - and my one foot slipped out of the binding causing my other leg to take all the strain and dislocate my left knee. After screaming in pain for a few minutes I got hauled into the car and dragged to the ER. The diagnosis was a completely torn PCL and partially torn ACL. So for the last 10 years I've been able to do some fun party tricks an make people sick by the extra movement in my knee.

The moral of the story is that all the training and strengthening has helped the muscles compensate and now there doesn't feel like much extra play in my knee any more! This is awesome. I could always feel when I bent my knee and then tried to raise it laterally that the lower portion of my leg would feel like it was going to pop out again. Recently I've tried the same movements and it's all solid. Definitely a good sign. Especially after surviving getting run into by the old man. So I'm very hopeful for next season and, at the moment very sick as some bug has hit me hard. I'll have to guage how I feel and how plausable it will be to race R-wood. At this point in my season I don't have much vested and I don't even think I can crack the top 10 overall - but it would be sure fun to mix it up on a fast course that I know really well. I think I'll have to throw down some Hooter's wings and beer and see if that cures my ailments :-)