Friday, April 18, 2014

Bone Bender

Last Saturday i found myself on the front row at the start line of the Bone Bender mountain bike race.

Racing was a somewhat last minute decision and that same casual attitude carried me thru pre-race bike maintenance (adjust tire pressure, stair at bike) and course recon (warm up on the road). I'm not a bike maintenance guy so if it's running i usually leave it alone, and i didn't want to remind myself how rusty my singletrack skills are until i had no choice and was forced to face the music during the actual race.
Ignorance turned out to be bliss because i ended up having a pretty good day.

Besides my ignorance I did have two things other working in my favor, well three if you count the fact that i've done this race several times and know he trails pretty well. One: my fitness is pretty good, and two: almost all the fast folks were doing the marathon distance and im doing the XC.

All in all it was the perfect mix of attitude and conditions to allow self delusion resulting in me believing im much faster than i actually am. Success!

As soon as the horn blew i knew the legs were good. We turned onto the grass after the long pavement start and i was 4th or 5th, which was perfect. The trails at Clinton Lake are full of big rocks, which im not particularly fond of, and the opening section was pretty brutal. I killed myself to try and keep pace with the leaders and along the way was comforted to see that a few people were having more trouble with the terrain than i was.

I had to dismount a couple times in this opening section, once of my own doing and another time due to someone in front of me, but luckily by that point everyone behind me was fairly spread out so nobody was breathing down my neck.

Up next was a substantial amount of smooth dirt roads, smooth fields, and even a little paved road (full disclosure, i loved the pavement!) and i used all of this to recover from the initial effort, which was very taxing. Karen (of House Brocket) and another dude caught me on the road and i gladly sat on them while commenting about my approval of said road, Karen shook her head.

The memory is a bit hazy after this but i do know there were lots of big rocks. I remember Clay coming around me and seeming to float over the same rocks that were giving me fits. Afterwards he said something about me being on a hard tail, ahhh, i thought, he has a full suspension. probably makes a huge difference. Then again i saw someone riding fully rigid and he looked fast... and young.

I remember looking out at the lake several times and thinking, what a beautiful day.

I remember repeating in my head, "race, race, race, race" as i got more comfortable and motivated.

I remember being extremely thankful that i had a Aldi's fruit strip in my pocket and that i had opened it before the race for easier consumption.

I remember crossing the finish line and heading strait for the donuts while "let the good times roll" by the cars blared from the speakers.

I remember looking at the results on line and seeing how slow my times were compared to guys in the marathon, and they were doing two more laps! Damn.

Still, it was a great day. Big thanks to everyone who made it happen!

I've looked at the race calendar and see a few more mountain bike races i can hopefully attend, Bone Bender got my blood pumping.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Roller Derby and Bicycles in Colorado

X and I made it out to Colorado last weekend. She had two Derby games in Denver and then we spent two extra nights in Boulder. It was pretty sweet. 

I drove out a day early and hit up the Lake Wilson mountain bike trails. After two hours of blissful hammering I hauled ass to Denver and went to bed early. 

Spent most of the next day riding around south west of Denver. Rode a lot of bike paths and then lucked into some sweet roads including a 45 minute climb. That was a first, and so was the 10 + minute descent. I took it easy for the first few minutes of the downward portion but by the end I was all in. Waaaay fun. 

Picked up the derby girls from the airport that night and from then on I squeezed in whatever riding I could. This included snowy urban mountain biking in Denver (totally awesome) a freezing cold descent of a sand covered flagstaff road, with snow (not awesome but not terrible, okay, it was kind of terrible), and a hangover ride, complete with coffee shop stop, to get the car on Tuesday morning (which was the plan all along, especially after the forth 7 and 7).

Bike vacations are the best vacations

Xcelerator and the rest of the Kansas City Roller Warriors didn't play as well as they wanted, but everyone seemed to have fun and I for one was grateful for the nudge out the door and into the great state if Colorado.

Hopefully more bike vacations to come!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Fling

Raced Spring Fling last Saturday. It was pretty awesome. 

I couldn't muster any points but as far as excitement goes, it was a winner. 

Time always seems to disappear so I had virtually no warm up. Paid the price early on and felt terrible. The field was big (60 something) and it split early... I was in the 2nd group. Luckily we rode back up but it was a hard effort and it had me breathing hard for 10 minutes after re-joining. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, there were two laps to go and I was feeling pretty good. 

The end is pretty blurry but I specifically remember my sprint. I felt like someone shot me out of a cannon. (That's a good thing when your sprinting). A lot of it has to be my new bike. This was its first race and I'm quite sure it's way stiffer then my old bike. I loved my old bike but its seen its share of use and abuse and has the carbon patches to prove it.

Back to the sprint... I was too far back to really do anything but I passed at least 5 guys and had to be close to finishing top 8. Did a bike throw with two other dudes and they must have just beat me. 

I'm kicking myself for bring so far back when the sprint started. Obviously I had the legs, now I need the brain. 

X and I are in Colorado next weekend for Roller Derby and bicycles, but I cant wait to get to the next start line.

I got the fever!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Catching the wind with Chewbacca as my co-pilot

Whoa. Tonight's ride was amazing. 

And just to catch everyone up, x has derby practice... A lot, which gives me a bunch of free time. Especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

Gary Lezaks weather blog was forecasting an extreme weather shift, in a bad way, starting right when I get off work. 5pm. Everything came together after work and following a quick debate I said f it and was out the door and pedaling north into a stiff headwind by 5:50.

The bike began heading towards the sprint center, to check out the upcoming big 12 tourney stuff. Smart move because it would mean a massive tail wind all the way home. 

Saw a nice collection of bikes out riding around and made it to the Sprint Center where to my surprise... it was still light out. God bless day light saving(s). Turned around and rode the wind home. 

If my bike was the Millennium Falcon and Main st headed south between 31st and 47th was the Kessel run... I think I would have done it in under 12 parsecs. (Han Solo, Star Wars). And if it wasn't for the cab that pulled over in front of Cafe Trio I would have hit hyper drive and blasted off to a galaxy far far away. 

What I'm saying is that I was going fast.

Taking the bus lane down main street is one of my favorite rides in this city. But a quick warning, the harsh winter has reeked havoc on the streets and the bus lane is no exception. I was hopping pot holes left and right, which was way fun. 

Made it home in under two hours, just as the rain was picking up.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Perry Dam Race

Yesterday I did the Perry Dam Race. I did not do well. There were some strong dudes there. 

I've put in some solid riding over the winter and I felt pretty great at the first two Spring Flings so I showed up to this race a little full of myself. Didn't warm up at all and wasn't smart about what I ate. 

From my perspective the race was hard from the get go and never slowed for any substantial amount of time. It seemed a little nuts, especially since it was so windy. We even passed the 3's, and stated in front of them. Although they were doing one more lap than us. 

I got dropped at the top of the 3rd of 6 times up the finishing hill, but before that it seemed like the same 3 or 4 guys were in the front the whole time, endlessly pedaling hard into the wind. 

Quickly Hooked up with two other dropped riders and we came close to catching back up but then they dropped me. Another guy caught up to me and we rode to the finish together. We chatted (nobody too close behind us), he did most of the pedaling, offered me some muffin when I mentioned cramping, and at the end I didn't contest the finish with him. Not that it would have mattered. I was cooked. 

I could have set my self up better for the race but at least I learned where I'm at.  That race was hard and I couldn't keep up. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wednesday... It's a great day.

Wednesday seems to be blog day for me. So let's just keep that going.

Needed some extra motivation after work so cranked the stereo while getting ready for the weekly urban ride. 

Hit a slight snag when my pedal broke in two, which meant I lost time and had to drive to the meeting spot. 

The ride was great, as usual. A little soggy, sure, but still great. There's just enough snow out there to make it interesting and if your feeling good there are plenty of spots on which to injure yourself, which is always nice. 

I've been putting on a brave face concerning the tough winter we've had... but how awesome is it going to be when we can go outside and not think twice about wearing only shorts and short sleeves, and no gloves.

I guy can dream!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Spring Fling... in 22 degrees

Raced spring fling yesterday. It was very cold. 

The decision to race wasn't that hard, given the fridges temps, mainly because I didn't think about it. I just went. The midway gas stop did give me pause however, it was f-ing freezing outside.

Still, with the exception of hands and eyes my body was fine during the race. Don't get me wrong, it was fairly miserable, but certainly bearable.

Stayed in the heated car as long as possible and then did one warm up lap. Around 20 on the start line, mens 4/5. Took it as easy early on and didn't contest the first intermediate sprint. On the second one there was maybe 1 dude off the front (my face and brain were frozen so really no clue, but I tried to listen to the announcer) and I took a world class line thru turn 2 and carried all that speed thru turn 3 and then after sitting in the sweet spot I attacked halfway to turn 4, two guys came flying by me with about 100 meters to go but I hung on for 4th. (Intermediate sprints give points to the top 4).

My first ever point in a spring fling! After 5 years! 

I was pretty spent after that but hung on and recovered. On the final lap there were something like 3 off the front and at the finish I tried pretty much the same move as before. At the line a guy came out of nowhere and I did a bike throw. Seemed to me like I got it but I was too cold to even give it a second thought. Finish sprint gives points to top 8.

While thawing out I began to realize how much fun I just had. Probably the most I've mixed it up in a crit, ever. Intended to race the 3/4 as well but too damn cold.

On the drive home I wore my down coat, scarf and gloves and it still took 30 min to  warm up.