Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pics from the Night Ride

I'm finally getting around posting a few pictures from the night ride earlier this week. It was great fun. Jubil, Andrew, Dave, Alex, and Cory came out to play in the dark. We should do it again. It was also good training for the upcoming Boone 24.

Cory and Jubil chillin'.

We stopped at my place for a cold one after the ride. Notice the cooler that Carney pulled on a trailer - on single track - uphill - holy crap that guy is strong.

Dave and Jubil check out Carney's Team Ergon grips - sweet.

A closer look. Kerkove recognizes greatness when he sees it.

Next up for me is the Boone XC race tomorrow morning. I feel ready. My bike is ready. Tomorrow will be my first compete laps out there since last year's Boone 24. I hope things haven't changed too much.

Hope to see ya all tomorrow!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Carney's Night Ride

Andrew Carney is putting together a little night ride tomorrow (Tuesday). The plan is to meet at the East Peterson's parking lot at 9:00ish. We'll ride around for a while, then go to my place for beers (I'm buying. Don't get used to it.). After that you young guys can ride home whilst I go to bed. I call it Boone 24 training. If you have any special needs in the beer area, let me know. I'll try to accomodate them (within reason).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Catchin Up (Again)

This is becoming habit forming. No time to post because there is lots of time to ride. Oh, well. I'd rather ride than write about riding any day.
Christy and I went down to check out the Des Moines triathalon for the afternoon pro races. Cool stuff.
Hot chicks on bikes. It doesn't get any better than this:
OK, maybe it does get better. They go slower when they running! We saw several of the women drop from the heat. The conditions were rough.
Here's somthing you don't see much of in the states. I'll bet these guys weren't from around here.
This guy won. He even looks fast in a still picture.
I've been waiting for a good result as an excuse to shave my legs this year. I'm afraid Green Days Crit will be as good as it gets. Oh, well.
Dedication to the sport:
Notice my lack of shaving skill. Notice also that my leg is still a little swollen from the crash at Lewis and Clark.
Christy and I hung out at the DM Tri with my sister and brother-in-law. Between races we ducked into a local tavern for a beer. It took a little while to realize that we were in a gay bar (not that there is anything wrong with that).
One of the things that I hear from my non-cycling friends about leg shaving? "That's so gay" (OK. my friends need some work).
It is interesting to note that, while in the gay bar, the only shaved legs I saw were my own.
Go figure.
Bruce Brown and I are taking about hitting up the trail at Boone-7 Oaks on Sunday morning in order to prepare for the race the next weekend. If you are interested, let me know. All are welcome.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Green Days Crit

For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to add some intensity back into my training. I had a little lazy spell there for a while, but I’m past that now.

Because of the lack of training, some mechanical issues, some crashes, and some mud, I’ve been having a little trouble putting a good race together. Today I went down to the Green Days Crit in Johnston hoping to finally hold it together for one race.

My class (Cat 5) raced last. After I got there, I watched a little bit of the other races and started my warm-up. Knowing that my race would be short (25 minutes + 3 laps), I spent close to an hour warming up. I was good and ready when race time came.

During my warm-up I checked in on the cat 4 race a few times. Thad Neil was duking it out at the front of the pack, and was out on a break for a while.

Later Chris Hansen came from the pack to win the sprint at the end of the race. Congratulations Chris!

Before my race started, Thad advised me to go hard into the first corner and try to be the first one there. That way others wouldn’t slow me down with sketchy bike handling skills.

I did that, and was the first one into the corner. WhooHoo! But I dug myself a little hole doing it. While I recovered from that effort, five guys got past me and built a little gap. That left me pulling the rest of the field (about 11 more guys?). I’m not sure cause I didn’t do a lot of looking back.

That went on for a while. I started looking back for someone else to help on the front, and even talked to one of the DMOS guys in a corner about working together to catch the leaders. He said he was barely hanging on. So I kept pulling. After a little bit teammate Nick Wooley came to the front and took a few pulls. Thanks Nick! I could tell that it took everything he had to work his way to the front, so he didn’t last long up there. Another great help was the all of the encouragement from the crowd. That really kept me going!

I looked behind me a little later and it was down to 4-5 orange DMOS guys behind me. Once again, I was the only one doing any time on the front. Slackers! I tried to break away from them a few times, but could not make it stick from my position in the front.

Finally I decided I had enough. I soft pedaled, and even coasted some. I waved and joked with the crowd, and we slowed all the way down to 13-14 mph before the slackers would move out front and take a pull. I followed them for about a lap and a half, and then decided that I could go faster without them. I went on a break in a corner and this time I made it stick (for a while). Thad said they looked a little lost without me there to pull them around. Even without me, none of them would take a pull.

With all of the messing around, the lead group, which had been working nicely together, was about to lap up to us. So I sat up, let the DMOS slackers and the lead group catch me. Then I worked for position to stay with the lead group to the finish. What I could hear from the sidelines at the finish line was “Don’t let any orange finish in front of you, Paul!”

As far as I can tell I finished in 6th of 16. I didn’t want to wait around for results, and it really didn’t matter. Placing wasn’t as important to me as how I felt about my performance.

If I could have just stayed with the lead group on the opening lap, it might have been a different race. As it was, it was fun to mix it up, try to make some breaks stick, fight for position in corners, etc. It was all of that stuff I used to be afraid of. Hmm. I guess it’s time to shave the legs. I’m hooked.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Somethimg Different

Christy and I did something a little different last night. We went sailing with a friend of mine. I have not been sailing since I was 14 years old. He's been trying to get me out on his boat for a while, and last night the stars aligned.

Our Captain Mark:

He says he tries to get out on the water 3 times a week. That sure wouldn't leave much time for riding a bike.

We went out about 6 o'clock just as the south wind was starting to wane, and headed for the mile long bridge. As we got close to the bridge we saw the main pack of the Tuesday Night World Championships go over us on the bridge. Cool. I would've taken a picture If I was a little quicker. That's the difference between goodness and greatness.

After we got to the bridge we tacked back into the wind and watched the sun set.

Sometimes different is good.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Catching Up

I haven't been posting much because after the crash last weekend, I pretty much took the week off. I did go out with Christy on Tuesday:

On Saturday Cory organized a work day a Peterson's. Several of us (Cory, Paul, Emily, Alex, Will, and Will's SO) spent about three hours repairing the damage done by: 1. A river, 2. horses, and 3. An endloader.

Apparently Story County had the endloader out there on muddy trails trying to fix the damage done by the river. And these people are suppose to be the trail managers??? Haven't they heard of hand tools? Oh, well. My feeling about Peterson's are well documented.

Later that night, I took the single speed out there to see if the horses had undone any of our hard work. On the way home I almost ran over this cutie out in the prairie.

Yesterday I drove up to Webster City to go for a long, hard ride with Thad and Chris. I went into it knowing that I was going to get my teeth kicked in cause these two guys are both extremly stong riders.

This was my view for much of the day.

Thad's healing up nicely.

I lost track of the number of times that we went up and down the Des Moines river hills. Holy crap! I was a zombie for the last 30 miles of the ride. They were both nice enought to drag my sorry ass back and prop me up in my truck for the drive home. Thanks guys!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Nth of N

Well, I raced at Council Bluffs in the Kanesville Krusher. And I got Krushed. More on that later.

This race is located on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River valley just north of Council Bluffs. Being located on a bluff, it is hilly, damn hilly. I kinda forgot how hilly it really was. I only remembered the last hill, and blocked out the rest.

Christy and I got there pretty early, having driven over the night before. Bruce Neil, Chris Hansen, and Sean Myers were already there (Chris was surviving on the sleep he got on the drive over). Parked right next to us was Mr. Open Container. I had not had the pleasure of meeting CVO prior to this. It would be an understatement to say that he seems like a fun guy.

I got suited up and rode around some. I didn’t want to pre-ride the course, as I figured that two laps were all I had in me. I warmed up by riding the paved hill coming up the park a few times. That seemed to work for me, as I felt good when the race started.

The race starts on the previously mentioned paved hill leading into the park. When my class started I felt pretty good, and could see the leaders as we turned into the park and towards the single track. I was working hard, but was a few positions ahead of where I would normally sit. Cool. As I got to the bottom of the bluff on the single track, I came across Bruce Reese, who was on the side of the trail with a mechanical. Bad for him, but good for me. If was working really hard by now. Too hard. It started to show. Shortly after that new teammate Bruce Brown (welcome to Team 14, Bruce) went by me, with Bruce Reese on his wheel. Damn. I was feeling a little cooked by now, by kept working.

Shortly after that, I crashed. I was a very mild crash by my standards. My front wheel slipped off the trail, and I followed. It was a Boone-like side hill trail, but the dirt was very soft from the previous rains. Even though it was a gentle crash, the bike and I still went ass over elbows down the hill. I picked myself up and tried to get back on the trail. As I did, a woman stopped to ask if I was OK, and proceeded to Ralph on the side of the trail. I think I was her excuse to stop for a while. I laughed, asked if she was OK, and moved on.

Even after the crash I was feeling pretty good and took off. But, after the crash my rear derailleur skip had magically reappeared. I worked with it, and finished the lap, which included riding all of the way up the infamous Mount Never-Rest. Damn, that hill is steep. Haven’t you people ever heard of switchbacks? Heart rate was 184 at the top. That is the highest I’ve seen in recent memory.

I stopped at the top in the feed zone and told Christy I was having bike trouble. I got off the bike thinking DNF. We were within the view of the announcer, and he said “Here comes Paul Varnum of Team 14. It looks like he’s having some mechanical issues. Paul, no need for a DNF. Bring your bike up here and we’ll take a look at it.” It was like he could read my mind!

The Bikeway mechanic (Thanks!) told me that I had a bent derailleur hanger. He could adjust it some, but it would really only work well on the small rings of the cassette. Good, ‘cause it’s really pretty flat out here! At that point I shifted in the little ring in front, and went into survival mode. Finishing was my goal, as I’ve never DNFed.

That went pretty well for a while. I wasn’t fast, but as long as I didn’t shift too much, I didn’t skip.

Then came the big log crossing (4’ high by 8’ long). It kinda snuck up on me, and I was going way too slow on the approach. I thought, “I’ll just crank a little at the top”. Oops! I stalled just after the top, went over the bars, and landed on my head at the bottom. At least my head broke my fall. I got up a little woozy, and with a broken helmet. There was a course worker watching the log ride for just such an emergency. He made sure I was OK. Note to race organizers – If you are going to put people at dangerous parts of the course, put a camera in their hands. It will pay for itself, as I would’ve paid for pictures of my crash!

I told the course worker I was done for the day (I was bound and determined to DNF), and asked him for was the quickest way out. He told me to just follow the trail. Damn, if I’m gonna do that I might at well finish.

So I did. I gotta admit that on that lap I walked the last half of Mount Never-Rest, and Hansen has the pictures to prove it. Oh, well.

The Bikeway/Psycowpath people put on a great race, and they do everything that can to keep a guy from DNFing, not matter how much he wants to. Good race, guys!

After the race, we hung around until the rains came, and then several of the Mercy and Team 14 guys huddled under the Pedro’s umbrella (Taylor, Bruce, Chris, Andy, Christy, and Me).

Chris Hansen can't keep his hands off me!

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Dirt Looks Good!

The dirt looks good . . . in Council Bluffs that is. In Ames we got another torrential deluge of biblical proportion. In Ames I'm guessing the dirt looks like total slop. At one point this afternoon a turtle sought higher ground in our back yard . . . seriously!

That's not the case where I am now. I'm writing this from a fleabag hotel in Council Bluffs. Christy and I drove over this afternoon so I'd be all fresh in the morning for IMBCS # 4. The weather is good here, and the sun is shining. I just took a field trip outside the hotel the check dirt conditions, and everything looks great. The dirt ranges from tacky in the low spots to dry on the top. I was surprised to see that they have only had 0.18 inches of rain in the past 72 hours. Sweet! With the beginners racing early in the day, the course should be perfect by the noon start time. That is, provided we don't get any more rain here. From the looks of the farm fields, they have had a ton of rain in the last month.

Christy and I went out and did some carb loading tonight at the local Mongolian grill (I didn't see a Mongolian in the place). Mmmm. Mongolian noodles and pad Thai. Yum. I'm all fat and happy.

Last year the skies opened up before the sport/expert race. However, by the second lap the rain was done, the course was nicely beat in, and was near perfect. I remember following a local Clydesdale into the opening descent on the second lap. I was cursing under my breath thinking he was going to slow me down. He rode that thing like he was on rails! There was no way I could keep up with him. Of course I was dragging brakes the whole time, not knowing what was around the next corner. I don't think he was doing that, cause he pulled away from me like I was standing still. So, note to self - stay off the brakes on the opening descent. The canyons are so deep that there is no chance chance miss a turn or go off trail. The worst you can do is rub a shoulder on the sides. Just stab it and steer!

On more thing. I walked the big hill last year ( Mount Never-Rest). That isn't going to happen this year. Last year there was a Cyclocross sized crowd at the top of the hill (including Pete Basso, who had a mechanical in the expert race). I hope that happens this year - the crowd, not the mechanical for Pete!

Good luck to all tomorrow!