Friday, December 30, 2011

Grotji Prijs 2011 = Totally and Completely BAD A**!

"3,000 years of beautiful history from Moses to Sandy Koufax, you bet i'm f*cking living in the past!"

That's a Big Lebowski quote, this post is a few days late, i'm living in the past. The Dude abides.

Anyway... Wow!

Wednesday night I participated in one of the most exciting races of my life! If i never do another race again (not going to happen) i can retire with a smile on my face. Grotji Prijs was that awesome.

Grotji Prijs race re-cap...

It was a night race, so cool. Even cooler was the weather, a balmy 45 degrees in late December at 745 pm, amazing. The course was tons of fun and so was the vibe. Music playing, free beer, people having fun, this is what cross can be.... a time and place where you can feel that theres no place else youd rather be. Of course all this nostalgia and romance really bubbles up when you win the race... and i won!

After checking the results i realized there were 26 starters, wow... and two of them were KCCX guys. Alex and Chris, theyre young and used to be (still are?) bad ass, Alex won the 2/3 race at Jinglecross a few years ago and Chris has been to Junior Worlds, so yeah, they've got some skill. i assumed they hadnt been racing much since i havent seen them at all for a year or two but figured they would be flying anyway. They were definately the x factor.

I showed up late to the start but luckily there was a spot on the front row. Not sure how i got so lucky. The whistle blew and my start was good. It was a pavement start, which i love, and it was followed by a long uphill, also paved. I dropped onto the grass in around 6th. The KCCX duo started very fast but we caught them and were rolling about 7 deep at the front during the first lap. I was immediatley in heavy breathing mode. It felt like the starts at Jingle Cross, intense. We were going fast. Plus our race was only 30 minutes instead of the usual 45 so im sure everyone was laying it all out there immediately. It was waaay fun.

I think one of the KCCX guys, Alex, dropped out early so we were down to a lead group of 6. I actually spent the first half of the race joining and then getting dropped from this front group multiple times a lap. Basically I was hanging on for dear life. But i never broke.

i would struggled thru the turns but make up ground on the strait sections. The race conditions were great. on top of great weather the ground was soft, a bit muddy, and slippery. You had to be on your toes. On top of the slick grass there were also several 90 degree gravel turns, this course had it all.... and it was fast too! Very little room for error. I almost lost it a few times and almost got taken out a few times. The racing was intense and awesome.

The lead group was made up of....

David, my teamate
Boulevard Jason
Trek Summers
Coppage Copperfield
KCCX Chris

Chris and Jason and David led early on. Then David started to pull away but i think Chris drug everyone back up and we were all together again. We were drafting each other the entire race. At some point Chris drifted back and i came around him, he slotted in right behind me but just the fact that he seemed to be struggling, even if it was just a tiny bit, gave me a confidence boost.

We all rode together but constantly dished out little attacks for the entire race, even if it was just to gain a position or two. Remember, the race is only 30 minutes long so it was like a big sprint, even more so than a usual cross race. Despite the frantic nature of the race, at least from my perspective, nobody ever really got away and we were still all together with 1 to go. Now, this is where it gets a little suspect. Several in our leading group later said they didn't know we were on the last lap. The only time i remembered to look at the lap counter was when it said 1 to go, so i lucked out, but a few other dudes thought there were two to go. And it turns out that David didn't even know where the finish was. Whoops. He was pretty mad at himself after the race.

This might explain how, when headed up the paved hill on the final lap, i was able to move up rather easily and then follow James attack onto the grass. It really worked out perfectly. The group was slowing so i started gradually moving up from the very back, as im doing this i see James make his move, i spotted it immediately and was out of the saddle and on his wheel as we rolled onto the grass. All the sudden, after getting my a** kicked all race i was suddenly sitting second with less than a lap to go and a pretty tight (aka - hard to pass) course in front of me. Sweet!

James lost some steem as we rounded the basketball court and i took the lead as we approached the gravel section on the back side. This was shaping up nicely. Sure i was slow thru the corners but since i was first it meant everyone had to go at my speed. Pow! Did i mention how X was the ultimate motivator during the race. She was everywhere all the time and constantly yelling at me to "catch back up", "pedal thru the corner", "dont be a wuss!" It helped.

With about a half lap to go i remembered that the barriers were right before the finish. Pow again!

I love the barriers and these were great ones. You could come in really fast and they were pretty spread out so you could run fast once you dismounted. The way they were set up meant that if you were good at barriers then you could really use it to your advantage. I like that. It makes them more important. I figured if i could get to 'em first and get over 'em fast and clean then i would have a great shot at winning. I poured my life into the pedals leading up to the barriers and nobody ever came around me, which was a little surprising, but I knew they were still right on my wheel. I gave one last kick on the strait before the barriers and then started the dismount. I was coming in so fast i had to tap the breaks right before i was about to unclip my last foot (probably normal for a lot of folks but i usually dont have to do that.) i made it over like a gazell on steriods and remounted for the final 20 seconds to the finish line.


i gritted the teeth and kicked it in the guts. So much so that i almost overshot the left hand sweeper leading to the finishing strait. I think i'm a poor sprinter so i was nervous that someone would come around. And someone almost did, thru the dark i saw a wheel in my left prepherial. It was getting closer, but so was the finish line. I seemed to be in a good gear and then i let out a grunt / yell, first time thats happened. Anyway, the line came before the phantom wheel could pass me... first place, baby!

I can still barely believe it. I was struggling pratically all night but i payed attention to where we were at in the race and it paid off. Funny, usually im the guy who isn't paying attention. It pays to pay attention.

So that was Grotj Prijs 2011. A night i'll never forget.

*I have to echo what Tillford said on his blog and give a huge thanks to Mark Thomas and everyone else who promotes Bicycle races. Steve T pretty much summed it up, it's a thankless job done with passion.

Thanks everyone, you make our lives so much more exciting!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Catching Up

Hey Gang,

It's been a while. A long while. Let's have some fun and do a quick run down of what we missed.

The story starts on Saturday, December 17th.

Saturday, December 17th:
  • X and i hosted a Holiday party. It was packed and things started getting weird around 10:30pm. And weird means awesome. Realized how good LCD Soundsystem is. No riding today.

Sunday, December 18th:
  • X had to fly out to the East coast so i was on my own. I had grand plans of riding bright and early but the party the previous night put the clamp down on said plans. Instead i pretended to be 24 again and sat around on the couch all day being hung over and watching TV. Actually it was great. I needed the chill time and there was A+ quality TV to be watched. I finally managed to motivate and get on the bicycle around 4pm. It was one of the best rides of the year. I felt really good and just hammered it. Slobber hanging out the mouth hammering. I felt like i could go forever. Or for 2 hours, whichever came first. Realized how good Lonley Boy by The Black Keys is.

Monday, December 19th.
  • X was still out of town, clean up the house from the party on Saturday and did some last minute X-mas shopping. Realize how good Omamori by Elite Gymnastics is. No riding today.
Tuesday, December 20th.
  • X gets back at 7pm. Fit in more last minute X-mas shopping and make sure the house is tidy. It is. Realize how good Hey Moon by John Maus is. No riding today.
Wednesday, December 21st.
  • Feel a little under the weather and leave work early because of it. Throw up a few times in the evening. Today sucked. No music and no riding.
Thursday, December 22nd.
  • Called in sick to work, legitimately. No more puking today but also no appetite and no energy. Manage to rally and pack for Springfield, MO. We hit the road at 5pm for a 2 night stay with Aub's family. I made her drive. On the way down i remember how much i love King of Spain by The Tallest Man on Earth. Watch the Jayhawks take care of USC. No riding today.
Friday, December 23rd.
Saturday, December 24th.
  • Drive back to KC and manage to get on the bike around 5pm. We hit up some good Christmas lights and pass a couple doing the same thing only they have christmas lights on their bikes. Well played. The best christmas song ever?
  • Pow!
Sunday, December 25h. Christmas.
  • I puked around 2:30am. Damn, i thought i was getting better. Let's call it an isolated incident and move on. We had planned on riding today, it was a beautiful day, but i was still feeling a little weak from the sickness so we chilled before the family stuff and watched Garden State. Remembered how amazing Nick Drake is. Christmas was great, the only thing i felt like eating was mashed potatoes, but they were really good mashed potatoes.
  • Did i mention that X got me a BRAND NEW CARBON FIBER MOUNTAIN BIKE FRAME FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, December 26th.
  • Race day! There was a cross race today. Boxing Day cross. The start of KC's "Christmas week" and the grand finale of the local cross calendar. I love it. Three races in a week. Belgium smellgium this is KC cross, baby! But, i was worried, i'd been under the weather since Wednesday and hadn't eaten that much at all. Racing seemed like a bad idea. But X did a great job of motivating me, plus I'm a close second in the overall for KBAR and also the 360 series so i've just got to be gunning hard for these final races. I had a big breakfast to try and pack in some energy. Bagel with cream cheese, bacon, egg casserol. Cholesterol.
  • Pow!
  • Boxing Day Croaa Race Re-cap: I did this race last year but this year was about 20 degrees warmer and the course was a lot better. Bigger and more dynamic, plus the ground was soft and a little muddy... which is nice. I was plesently surprised to see 16 starters. Last year there were 5. The race started and i could quickly tell it was going to go better than i thought. I was worried i'd have no energy but it was exactly the opposite. I was pushing a big gear pretty easily and getting out of the saddle at will. 7 days of no riding meant the legs were fresh, the lungs however were hurting big time. I rode into third half a lap in but 1 and 2 were gone immediately. David was 2nd, hes the guy i'm trailing in KBAR. 1st place was a dude from St. Louis and he dominated everyone. We talked, he seemed cool. David said he felt good but couldnt hold this guys wheel for more than a few seconds. So i finished 3rd! Totally pleased with that. Even won some cool Sox.
  • Remember how good Sussudio by Phil Collins is.

Tuesday, December 27th. Today!
  • Took today and tomorrow off work, using up the remaining vacation days. Pretty nice little tuesday. Played Folf for the first time in about a year, Winsteads for lunch, solid ride thru the city on Mountain bikes, chilling at the crib drinking light beer and watching movies. Life is good.
Tomorrow is the Grote Prijs night race!!!!!

So thats that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dark Chocolate with Jif Peanut Butter is Awesome!

That's all.

Now get back to work you slackers!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Topeka Cross Weekend... it's the 'Days of Thunder' of the local cross scene

Wow, those courses were awesome. Seriously, both Saturday and Sunday in Topeka were a total blast. I got my Cole Trickle on, all that was missing was a Mellow Yellow jersey.

Day 1

The course was awesome. Fast, fast and fast. I did this race last year and had an idea of what to expect but it was faster this year and more fun than i remember.

I took Tilfords advise and hit up the new Topeka Coffee shop before the race started, good but the double espresso was way to expensive.

There were about 15 of us on the start line of the 3/4 race, it was a pavement start (lots of pavement at this course) and my start was horrible. I think i've turned into a diesel engine over the last few weeks.

I was probably 8th at the hole shot. I stayed calm and rode along, hoping to feel better in a bit. I glanced towards the front to see who all was up there and was a little worried when i saw it was Carl. Carl is fast. Anyway... everyone was moving fast but when we hit the run up i found my running legs and passed a few people. Pretty soon it was Me and Bill from Trek chasing Carl. It took us a while but we caught him and the three of us rode together for a few laps. It was fun being in a group of 3 on a fast course, drafting, racing.

Eventually it was just Carl and I. Carl was stong. I pulled my share but i dont think he would have minded to pull the whole time. He just kept chugging, it was tiring. I was on his wheel for the last half lap or so, kind of thinking about the finish but more thinking about trying to hang on. It was looking like a sprint finish, which would be really fun, especially on the pavement, but like a bonehead i let a gap open up right before we hit the pavement and i didnt' come close to cathing him in the sprint. He won by about 50 feet. i took second.

It was a really fun course and a really fun race.

Day 2

the course was similiar to yeasterday, only reversed plus with a new section. This was the KS State Champs race.

Around 10 starters. My start was maybe better than yesterday although i think it took me longer to warm up. Jason K from Ethos went flying by me off the line and then 30 seconds later i saw him way up on everyone, i had a strong feeling he was never going to be seen again. He wasent. I rode in the group until eventually it was James and Bill from Trek, plus my teamate David and myelf chasing Jason F from Blvd, who was chasing Jason K from Ethos. David pulled early on but i think his late night re-living his college days caught up to him, he still hung on for 5th. James and i took some hard pulls and with about 3 to go we caught Boulevard Jason. So now it was 4 of us chasing Ethos Jason. For a second i thought the 4 of us might catch him, but im pretty sure he destroyed us.

James, Boulevard Jason and i kept pulling, Bill was sitting on. Then Fife started attacking us. It always seemed to be when i was pulling, James would give me a heads up and we would always closed it down... with a lot of effort. Boulevard Jason was rolling good. Eventually Bill got gapped so it was down to 3. on the last lap James got caught in the tape on the back side of the course when he was sitting 3rd. Boulevard Jaon must have heard this because he accelerated hard. It took me a minute or two to catch him, on the run up, but then he immediately pulled away again going down the hill. over the course of the year i've discovered i'm slow on downhills where you have to pedal. i'm a total skinny weakling.

So at this point there is about 1/2 lap to go and the chase is on. I gave it everything. I didn't like that he was beating me but it was fun to dig deep and find something there. i was closing on him, slowely. There's something exciting about pushign yourself to the limit and at the same time trying to negotiate a cross course. It's like gleaming the cube, and yes, when i say that i mean smoking crack. So i narrowed the gap, but not enough. he hit the pavementfinish a few seconds before me and that was that, i still got the drops and gave it my al, but he beat me by about thee same amount that carl beat me the day before.

It stinks to get beat like that, but still, both days were FUN! i spent most of the races in big groups, rotating, attacking, chasing, being active. That dosent happen to often to me. Usually it's riding solo, self motivating, suffering in silence. Not my weekend in Topeka, these races were action packed!