Monday, January 30, 2012

Transitions. Winter Short Track Race #3.

   Sunday marked the transition from cyclocross back to MTB, from single speed to gears, from 29" to 26" wheels from rigid to full suspension from my old team to my new team and from my old coach to my new coach.  Sound overwhelming?  Apparently it was.  I went from front runner in race #1 to back marker in race #3.  Like, way back.  As in, got lapped twice.  I had an opportunity to race an amazingly well set-up bike that wove it's way nimbly through the woods with ease only to get blown away lap after up the gravel road and through the parking lot.  To be sure, the experts were setting a torrid pace but I was a bit off my usual pace.  But this wasn't a race I was tapering and preparing for.  Rather it was a race to train through and to get familiar with a new bike.  So, in that respect it was mission accomplished.  It just never feels good to get smoked so badly.

   I must say, I did a have a great time.  I got to hang out with a lot of friends on a beautiful day.  I got a great training ride in on an amazing bike.  I'm starting to learn how to shift gears again and by about lap 15 I was starting to figure out how aggressive I needed to be on the corners with the little wheels.

   I really enjoy the atmosphere of these races.  There are so many encouraging people all around the course.  It really keeps the motivation high.

  I'm loving being back on the MTB, I'm starting to get shifting down (XX is SWEET), I'm still a little sketchy on the 26" wheels but I can see where they are going to be faster,  I am really digging the new team and the tremendous support I am getting and it looks like the new coach is going to work out well, too - he lets me ride an extra 30 - 60 minutes after the scheduled workouts if I want to :)

   It's almost like when you ask for help to make the right decisions  ...and listen to the answer that amazing things can happen.

I am amazed.  I am blessed.  I am thankful.

See you on the trails!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

End of a series, start of a season.

  This weekend ended the NCCX Cyclocross series, but started a new racing season for me.  I raced my first, of what I hope to be many, races in my new Cycle Works kit.  And what an eventful race it was.

   The first race in the new kit was the CX3 race at Orange County Speedway.  Rainy conditions meant slick technical sections and racing on the speedway provided fast drafting sections.  It was a good mix that made for lots of back and forth battles.  I fell victim to others sliding out on the off camber section on several occasions but kept managing to work my way back up.  I found that I was faster than most through the rooty, muddy trails but invariably I got behind someone that crashed, or crashed myself trying not to hit an out of control racer.  In the end I didn't end up making up too many positions where I should have been at my best.  At the end of the race I was muddy, bloody and bruised ...and 9th. 
   I felt pretty good for the SS race later in the afternoon.  I knew that I could do well and I was ready to hammer at the start.  Unfortunately I was woefully overgeared for the now sticky, soft, deep mud sections.  My options were standing and risk spinning or sitting with my weight back and grunting it out.  I ended up in a 3-way battle for 2nd but couldn't hold on for the final kick to the line.  So, 4th on the day it was.

   Sunday's race at Bur-Mil Park was slick, but less muddy (and a lot colder) than Saturday.  Apparently I bent my rear derailleur hanger on my geared bike somewhere along the way.  I struggled to a 14th place finish on a bike that really didn't want to be in any particular gear and certainly not the gear I wanted it to be in.  I was a little over-geared, or perhaps over-fatigued for the SS race.  I maintained contact with the leaders but wound up 5th on the day.  Good enough to secure the overall SS points awards.

   I can't thank my team enough for the support they've already given me.  It means a lot to race for a team that is there to race and do well.  That they have welcomed me aboard is a huge honor.  I will do my best this year to represent them well.  Whatever happens, it's going to be an amazing year!

See you on the trails!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Short Track Series Race #1

The first race of the season is in the books.  I lined up with a field of 24 Single Speeders for a slightly shortened (to no ones complaint) 40 minute race.  Just to shake things up a bit from last season I decided to not have a terrible start.  I lined up in the 2nd row and got a decent jump going into the woods.  Normally that would be a good thing, but on SS it usually means you don't have a big enough gear.  Which I didn't, but it was pretty close.  I found a nice spot to settle in the lead draft.  I was still feeling pretty comfortable when the pack was reduced to just the four of us.  As we continued to work through the lap traffic, closing the gap and all the high rpm spinning on the pavement began to take it's toll.  I lost contact with the 3 off the front.  I soloed home to a "comfortable" 4th place finish.

Tomorrow is my deadline for a team decision.  While I am still without a firm decision I do have a little more direction.  I am blessed to have so many really good choices.  Now if I could just make a decision on my coaching...

See you on the trails!
Race day!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The 2012 race season begins! Winter short track series preview.

 The five race Winter Short Track Series starts this Sunday, January 15th.  This event is significant for me because it marks the four year anniversary of my first bike race ever.  I started in Beginner Men 40+.  I had done a little bit of road riding and precious little MTB riding at that time.  I started in the rear of the field.  I was just about too nervous to pedal by the time we rolled off.  I survived and had a heck of a good time.  Through the years I've raced Beginner, Sport, Single Speed and Expert.  I raced 26" hardtail, 26" full suspension, 29er hardtail and 29er full suspension.  At times I've opted for a cyclocross bike in both geared and ss classes.  I've raced in the warm and the cold, wet or dry and even snow and ice.  One thing has never changed though: it's always an incredibly intense 30, 45, or 60 minutes of racing.   Just when I think, "I can't do one more lap" I hear Neal call out "Three laps to go!" and I think "...I can do three more laps" and I do.

And so can you.

A lot of things may be changing for my 2012 season.  I still have a lot of questions I have left unanswered and although I am not training specifically for results in Sunday's race I will be there, no matter the weather, on a rigid SS going 1/2 heartbeat BVT (Below Vomit Threshold).

See you on the trails!