Monday, October 30, 2006

Lessons Learned

What I've learned in my first IMBCS season:
  1. Give absolutely everything at every race. It's a short season with only 10 races. The race that you "paced yourself" at may have been an opportunity to score some points. Don't hold back. (The "Sylvan Island Rule").
  2. The Iowa East coast masters are a tough bunch of guys. Landon Beachy and John Adamson come to mind. I've never worked harder, and finished worse, than I did at Waverly.
  3. I carried a tube, tire irons, chain tool, multi tool, spare parts (cleats, powerlink, etc.), and a mini pump in a seat bag. It weighs about two pounds. I used it in two races, both times because of broken chains. In both cases the chain was relatively new, so I can't blame maintenance (I'm pretty meticulous about my drivetrain stuff). I'm not sure that the weight penalty is worth the benefit. The jury is still out on this one. It did save me from two DNFs, but it's heavy.
  4. I didn't flat during a race. I used my homemade slime in my tubes (not tubeless yet) and have achieved a Zen-like state between my tire pressure (40 psi) and my weight (currently at 197 lbs and falling). The homemade slime adds about 50 grams to my setup, but it's worth it. Every time I change tires, I pull out 2-3 thorns that would have previously resulted in flats.
  5. If you have a spare bike, take it along. At Sockum Ridge I broke a seat rail on the first lap. Andy was nice enough to let me change bikes and finish the race. It would have been a tough race if I had to do it seatless.
  6. Prepare for mud, cause you never know when it's going to pop up (the Lewis and Clark rule). Always bring a set of mud tires, or a mud bike.
  7. If you are chasing points, attend every race. It's just that simple.
  8. Team 14 rocks!
  9. Oh yeah, have fun. Lots of fun. I know I did.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Power of Positive Thinking

Last night was the IMBCS awards banquet, where things worked out pretty well for me.

Today was the Cyclocross state championship in Newton. Christy and I went over so I could try my hand at 'cross (on a mountain bike). I entered in the cat 4 race, In retrospect, I might have been better off in the +40 race, but the net effect would have been the same - a back of the pack finish. Oh, well. I had fun, Iwasn't DFL, and it was a great workout. Those 'cross guys are tough! Teammate Chris Hansen won the Cat 4 race (he only lapped me three times during the race).

Afterwards, I kicked back, had some of Court Aveneue's finest and watched the elite race. Man those elite guys are fast!

At the IMBCS awards dinner last night, and during the race today, I was telling anybody that would listen that I was going to win the 'cross bike in the "Cross Out Crohn's" raffle. True to my word, I parlayed my winnings from the award into raffle tickets for the cross bike. That got me five tickets, and gave me a 1 in 20 shot at winning, but I didn't think about that. Instead I pictured myself getting fit for the bike, riding the bike, and winning on the bike.

Right before the drawing I introduced myself to Scott Sumpter, the owner of I told him that I had been one of the recipients of his newcomer award, and thanked him for his generousity. I also told about by plan to turn my portion of the prize into into a 'cross bike. He got a real kick out of my plan, and wished me luck.

Ten minutes later they held the drawing, and I won the 'cross bike!

A Specialized TriCross Comp!

Behold the power of positive thinking! But I must have overcooked it, because one of my other tickets (I bought 5) was also drawn for one of the other prizes. I told them to toss the ticket and draw again. No sense being greedy.

The bike also includes a fitting from Donny Quixote. That's going to be cool. I've never had the pleasure of a professional bike fitting.

All in all, I had a pretty good weekend.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Toot, Toot

Tonight was the IMBCS awards banquet.

I try not to blow my own horn, but I gotta do this:

I know it's just a piece of wood, but it represents a lot of work. Thanks to Christy and Keaton for all of their support, thanks to Thad and Team 14 for giving a fat old man a chance, and thanks to everybody involved with the IMBCS for putting on a great series.

As a bonus, Bruce Brown and I split the " most improved new racer" award. This award came out of the blue. I'm going to use the award money to buy raffle tickets for the 'cross bike that they are giving away at the cyclocross race in Newton tomorrow. That bike is all mine. I can feel it.

Oh, and I'm doing my first 'cross race tomorrow at Newton. I did a little barrier practice this afternoon in preparation for that. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Riding for Fun

I went on a bike ride tonight. It had been a week since I had been on a bike. I can’t remember the last time I had gone seven days without riding a bike. It was time.

I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor, my bike didn’t have a computer, and I didn’t pay attention to what “zone” I was in. I just rode for fun. I went as fast, or as slow as I wanted to. I enjoyed the feel of the wind in my face, the crunch of the leaves under my wheels, and the burn in my legs. I have no idea how long I was out, or how far I went. I just rode for fun. I enjoyed the feel of sweat on my brow, the heave in my chest as I climbed a hill, and the drift of my wheels as I went around a fast corner. I just rode for fun.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Season Recap

The mountain bike race season is over, and I thought it might be productive to review the season. I've linked to previous posts where applicable.

IMBCS #1 – Sylvan Island.
A flat course that is located in the quad cities on as island on the Mississippi river. It was a perfect day for a bike race, and it was my first Sport race. I had low expectations, so my effort in the race was sub-par. In retrospect, I should have tried harder. I had fun, and it was a well-organized race. I finished, but I was unsure where.

IMBCS #2 – Boone
My home course is also my weakest course because of the climbing. It was another perfect day for racing. Somehow I finished 2nd of 4 in Sport +45. Also a surprise is that the IMBCS sport class breaks at +45, instead of +40, as it did last year. I guess that’s a benefit of getting old.

IMBCS # 3 – Waverly
I went up on Saturday to pre-ride the course. On Sunday, the weather was perfect (again), but the Iowa East-coasters kicked my ass. I finished 6th of 10 in Sport + 45. Finishing ahead of me was Landon Beachy (a common theme).

IMBCS # 4 – Council Bluffs
A hilly course that ended with a killer climb called “Heart Attack Hill”. Christy and I drove over on Saturday so I could ride a few laps. I also rode another during a warm-up on Sunday. That turned out to be a mistake. Out of nowhere, it started to rain during my pre-ride. I finished muddy and exhausted (a bad way to start a race). I fell once during the first lap, but felt pretty strong dung the last lap (by then it was too late). I finished 9th of 11 in Sport + 45. It was to be my worst finish for the year. I’ve since learned that too much preparation is worse than none. Oh, and Landon finished ahead of me, way ahead.

IMBCS # 5 – Sockum Ridge
This was another hilly course. It was a two-day stage race. I drove down with Dave and camped at the park. On Saturday there was a time trail, a hill climb, and a short track. Landon beat me in all three. The next day, he did the same thing In the cross-country race. I got a lot of second place points, though. And, camping out with Squirrel, Dave, and Jubil was a lot of fun!

IMBCS #6 - Webster City
Sadly, an out of state family reunion prevented me from going to this race. I heard it was muddy. I hate mud so it was OK.

Iowa NORBA State Championship - Boone
I planned on a training peak for this race. We got 2 inches of rain the night before the race, when I got the e-mail that the race was still on, I called Thad and told him I wasn’t going. It was going to suck. From those I’ve talked to, I was right (Nick had his first DNF).

Iowa Games – Ames
I also planned my training peak around this race, which was rained out. This is really starting to suck.

IMBCS # 7 – Fort Dodge
I salvaged what was left of the peak from the previous two failed races, and came out swinging for this one. It was hot (98 degrees). I was up there with the fast sport guys (Thad, Taylor, and Jacob) for a while until I got chills in the heat (not a good thing) and faded late in the race. I finished 1st in +45 and 6th overall in Sport. It was my best race of the year.

Tour de Webster – Webster City
This was my first road race. I had low expectations, and just wanted to finish with the main group. I did. I finished 18th overall, and got some hardware in my age group. I’ll be doing more of this next year.

24 hours of Seven Oaks – Boone
Team 14 put together a 4-person team for this event, and I was lucky enough to be on it. What blast! We were not there to compete, but to have fun.

IMBCS # 8 - Boone
This was another 2-day stage race, but this time much closer to home. Saturday was a time trail, and a short track race on the grassy infield. Sunday was the XC race. I got first place points in every race.

IMBCS # 10 – Iowa Game – Ames
After this race was postponed in July, it became an IMBCS race in September - sweet! It's in my back yard! The weather was perfect, my training was perfect, the course was perfect, and I broke my chain during the first lap. I turned into a personal challenge to see how many people I could pass from DFL after I fixed my chain (I think the answer was seven). I finished a disappointing 5th in 45+.

IMBCS # 9 - Sycamore Time Trial – Des Moines
A great race and a great time! I finished 2nd in 45+, just 24 seconds out of first.

So, that’s a season. "Lessons learned" and goals for this winter/next year will be forthcoming.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Last Race of the Season

Today was the Sycamore Time Trial, which was the last race of the Iowa Mountain Bike Championship Series. We got a few tenths of rain during the night, but it didn’t matter. From what I hear, conditions were as good as Sycamore is going to get. Teammate Chris Maharry puts on a good race, and there was a ton of swag. More on that later.

Christy and I had planned on getting there early, with the idea that I would do two warm-up laps, since the course was short, and I had never ridden there before. We didn’t get going as early as planned, and the rain also messed with our plans, because I didn’t want to get my bike all muddy right before my start time. So I went out with teammates Bruce Neil and Chris Hansen for a single warm-up/pre-ride lap.

I’ve never ridden at “Targhetto” before. It is something that has to be experienced. Don’t get me wrong. The trails are pretty cool, but it’s mostly whooped out quad trails. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time riding a motocross bike in areas frequented by quads, so I was comfortable with the conditions, and knew what to expect.

I left on minute 16, and for the most part, gave it everything I had. Because the course suited me (no real climbing, and line seletion was important), I never really felt like I was at my limit, but I stayed close to it most of the time.

I finished in 3o minutes and change, which was good enough for second place in 45+. Sadly, I was only 24 seconds out of first (if only you would apply yourself – how many times have I heard that).

Like I said earlier, Chris puts on a good race, and the swag table was extraordinary! When my turn came, this is what I got:

How sweet is that? It may not have been the best choice; given my goals for the winter, but I got a good laugh when I grabbed it.

Rob also got a bottle of wine from the swag table, which we passed around in the parking lot, “Targhetto style”.

Afterwards, we went over to Maharry’s for more beer and Thai food. This race is a whole lot of fun, and a heck if a deal for $20.

This race also was the last of the Iowa mountain bike racing season, and the start of the off-season. For me that means lots of long, slow distance, and also means diet season. I am going to lose another 20 pounds by April (I lost 30 during the same period last year). That will put me in the 175-180 pound range. I know that sounds scary for you non-cyclists, but it’s necessary to be competitive.

I’ll keep the blog updated on my progress towards that goal as the winter progresses.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cold Weather Riding

I went out tonight for an hour, mostly as an exercise in self-discipline. It was cold (38 degrees) with a gusty north wind. I rode in the woods, so the wind didn't bother me too much.

As the weather gets colder, I want to continue to ride outside to acclimate myself to the colder conditions (no matter how much it sucks). Once January comes around, and I need to be out there, I'll be ready.

Running Barefoot

Cory had a post on his blog about running barefoot. It reminded me of a barefoot runner I once saw. Christy ran in the Des Moines marathon last year. I went along as support, and to take a few pictures whenever the opportunity presented itself. This particular shot is one my favorites:

This guy had just finished running 26.2 miles barefoot, while wearing a grass skirt (and sporting a kick-ass mullet). And then he looks at me as if "What are you looking at?" Hilarious!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Another Iowa Games Gold in the House!

I had trouble uploading pictures from the Iowa Games XC on Saturday. Tonight I got it done. Here they are:

Keaton at the starting line (number 112):

Keaton mixing it up with the race leaders (Mike Johnson -106 finished first, and Paul Meyermann - 101 finished second):

He looked strong after the first lap:

and he looked stong at the finish:

Finishing in classic style:

Another Iowa Games Gold in the house:

Christy has one. Keaton has one. Somehow I've gotta get one!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Iowa Games Reschedule

Keaton and I raced in the Iowa Games mountain bike race yesterday. We had a blast. The weather was perfect, the turnout was good, and the course conditions were as good as I’ve ever seen a Peterson’s.

Keaton went first in the beginner’s race. It was his first race, and like his Dad, was obsessing over trivial details. He got Iowa Games Gold for his effort. That’s pretty cool.

I felt very good during my warm-up. My goal for the race was to finish ahead of Nick, but I wanted to give him a fighting chance, so on the pre-ride I showed him all of my secret lines. The course at Peterson’s suits me well (no climbing), and I have the course dialed-in after riding it 2-3 times a week.

At the start I had a little trouble clipping in, but once I was past that, I passed a few people before the first single track. Once there, I hung with those in front of me until the gravel section, and passed a few more people, including Nick and Cory. I was feeling good. I was near my limit, but still had a little more. After the sandy hill I was setting up another pass when . . .

My chain broke.

AARHG!!! I could see the front of the race, but could do nothing about it. I had a few warning “tinks” during the start, but nothing before that. I don’t know what caused it. The chain was a near new (six rides and two races) SRAM 991. I had been riding with Keaton the night before, and had gotten my drive train clogged with leaves a few times, but nothing serious. Hmmmm.

I pull out my tools and spare parts and fixed it as quick as I could. Everyone passed me when I was down. I got several shouts of encouragement “Are you OK”, “You need any thing?, etc. but spotting the field six minutes is no way to win races.

So, my revised race goal was to pass as many people as possible in the 2-½ laps that were remaining. No need to worry about blowing up, because I had nothing left to lose. I managed to pass 10 racers before the end of the race.

Thad and Chris Hansen won the Sport race in a group effort, Cory got a gold in the single speed competition, and Nick got a bronze in our age group.

As far as IMBCS goes, I finished where I should, behind Landon, and in front of Bruce. Even with the trouble, things turned out as they should.

As an insult to injury, I must not have zipped my seat bag up after the fix. When I got home, I noticed that my seat bag had puked it contents on the trail somewhere. Oh well, I like buying new tools.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cyclocross in Webster Ctiy This Weekend

My team is hosting a Cyclocross race in Webster City on Sunday, October 8th (this weekend). For all you 'cross geeks, and anybody interested in learning what 'cross is all about, check out the race this weekend. There is a $1000 payout in the elite race. You read that right, $1000. I'm not racing, but am going up there to help out. I hope to see you all up there!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Somebody's Been Busy

Sometimes, when one door is shut, you get thrown out a window . . . or something like that.

Because of my self-imposed exile at Peterson's, I have been rediscovering some new places to ride. On a ride at Bear Creek recently, I noticed some pink flags leading off to a newly cleared trail:

The new trail starts at the end of the flats, before the Bear Creek crossing. It climbs out of the Skunk River valley:

And follows along the top of a ridge.

Wear orange, because it's deer season:

At times it's hard to pick out the singletrack because of the leaves, but it's there. Look for the pink flags.

Bring you 'cross skills for the bridge crossing:

The trail comes close to the I-35 rest area (where water and restrooms are available - always a bonus), and then heads back down to the river valley with a sweet, rooty descent.

The new trail adds quite a bit of length, and some much needed climbing to the Bear Creek trail system. It can be ridden both directions, which adds some additional variety. I don't know who was responsible for this, but thank you! I'll do my best to beat the new section in. It's still a bit rough in spots, but a few hundred laps will work wonders. Do your part and get out there!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Always Take Your Camera!

I went for a short (1:45) road ride yesterday. It was on a boring route, and I didn't expect to see anything. I learned a valuable lesson. Always take your camera!

During the ride I saw seven road-kill snakes. Apparently the warm weather has caused them to crawl out on the road to warm themselves. Cars cause their untimely demise. As interesting as dead snakes are, that's not why I wished for a camera.

I also saw the Goodyear Blimp. OK, maybe not the Goodyear Blimp, but a Goodyear Blimp. It was huge, and moving across Story county at 10 mph. It was right over my head, and it was huge! Did I say it was huge?

Always take your camera. You never know what you are going to see.

Newton Cyclocross

Christy and I attended our first CyclosCross Race. Races take place typically in the autumn and winter, and consists of many laps of a short (2–3 km or 1–2 mile) course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike whilst navigating the obstruction and remount in one graceful motion.

The race took place in Newton. As a bonus, there was a keg of Court Avenue Brewery's finest Pale Ale on tap.

In the first race, the Farrell brothers were in good form:

Thad and Noonan get their game faces on before the elite race:

Noonan tears it up in the sand:

Josh Johnson with good form. He won the elite race:

Thad and Matt Scotton go through the barriers:

Rob had a good effort:

Picture of the Day:

It was fun. I asked Thad keep a lookout for a good, used 'cross bike in my size.