Friday, April 27, 2012

Tour of Hermann Road Race

(Today is Friday but last Sunday i did the Tour of Hermann road race, this is my story...)

"why would anyone ever want to race in the Tour de France"

That's what i was thinking as i rode up one of the multiple hills during the Tour of Hermann Road Race. And when i was thinking that i wasent even struggling yet. This was the hilliest race ive done... by far. Nothing i've done even compares.

cat 4, 60 miles...

The short version...

i got dropped.

The long version...

i think i've been doing a great job of two things during this early season. One is riding a lot (although this didnt really start till March) and two is not panicking when these early season races dont go so well. The reason i'm not panicking is because of the late start, i think i have it in me to be competative in cat 4 and even get to cat 3 (somewhat legitimetly, ie earning it and not just take advantage of a generous upgrade coordinator) this season but i have to put the work it, which is what i'm doing.

Now i'm going to give you a list of excuses for why i got dropped. And i'm not going to mention these excuses casually, i'm fully embracing these excuses. Shouting them from the rooftops!

Since i got a late start to the season i decided my big long base type rides would be taking place around races, knowing this could mean being tired on the start line. Last week for example, or really the week culminating wtih Bone Bender, i did 10 hours. that's a lot for me. and 4 hours were me getting worked over at Bone Bender, which was totally brutal. Then the monday after bone bender i did 50 minutes, then tuesday was 1:50, then wednesday was 3:15, then Thursday was yoga at Scott fitness, then friday i did a 1:30 at a small group ride with a bunch of people faster than me and i was breathing hard most of the ride, then saturday morning i did the union staion 9am ride, 2:30 and was breathign hard until i got dropped (half by choice (another excuse!) because i wanted to leave something in the tank for Herman) then Sunday (after 4.5 hrs of sleep and a few drinks the night before) i raced the Tour of Hermann road race over 60 miles race of the hilliest conditions i've ever ridden... and i cramped up... and i got dropped.

If not for the cramps i think i would have done a lot better. (Big excuse!)

so back to the race details...

The first 45 minutes were intense. It seemed really fast, and really fun. at one point i think there were only 20 left in our group... and i was one of them.

One highlight was when the guy in front of me had chain issues going up a climb and forced me off the road and into the grass. i was 2 or 3 feet from tumbling down a very steep and very long ravine and had to totally unclip, get back on the road, and chase back on. just the fact that i had the juice to chase back on was encouraging. It may not seem like much but up until fairly recently i would have been dropped for good in that situation.

the cramps were in the theighs and they put and end to my race on the wall. this hill was perfectly named. i wish i had a picture of it. we didn't do the wall on the first lap but we sure as hell did it on the second lap. my guess is 20% grade for about 1 minute. i almost had to unclip and walk because the theighs threatened to lock up on me. once over the top the lead group was riding away from me.
I hooked up with another guy and we actually caught back on but only because the race was kind of neutralized due to a crash in the pro 1 2 race (i think) that required an ambulance. so we rode with the group, at a very slow pace, for maybe 15 minutes until the officialls told us the race was back on, then about 15 seconds later we hit a big hill and i got dropped.

rode the last hour or so by myself and finished 21 out of about 30 finishers and 44 starters.

Another highlight was when i tried to pee while riding and pissed all over my bike, shoes, and water bottles. That was a total fail.


So those are my excuses and that was my race.

When i mentioned to Sting (dave) that i thought i would have done a lot better if i hadn't cramped he said, "well, thats part of it". Dave is the bomb.

This week i'm going for 14 hours (which will be my biggest week ever) culmination with the Joseph Sheehan Road Race on Sunday. That's a fun race and i hope i'm not too tired before it even starts. But when else am i going to get these long ride in?

I just keep telling myself it will be worth it.

It better be worth it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Xcelerator is back!!!

(warning, this post suffers from hyperbole... of the best kind)

What should the tone of this post be?

Xcelerator is back to playing roller derby (for a limited time) and i got to see her skate in a derby game this past Saturday night. Holy Moly. It was totally amazing. Like 'i cant believe what im seeing' amazing. Like 'i'm witnessing something special' amazing. she's good. I think she was born to play roller derby.

What should the tone of this post be?

She was already retired when we met so i never got to see her skate. I heard stories, from her and from friends and from fans, i saw strangers walk up to her on the street and say 'excuse me, are you Xcelerator', i saw video from the great metro sports documentary on the Kansas City Roller Warriors... but now i've seen her in action for myself. She's really good.

What should the tone of this post be?

What i witnessed on Saturday night was nothing short of totally awesome. A big part of that is because she's my girl and therefore i'm biased but everyone in the crown felt it too, she was the best player on the track, hands down. i wont go into the rules or strategies of roller derby or how this particular game played out (KC won) but ill tell you about Xcelerator.

She was the fastetst skater on the track. easily. This was a banked track, unlike the flat track she used to play on, so you could really fly. There were a couple moments where she was going so fast i was worried she wouldnt' be able to hold the turn, but she did. Some of the best moments were when the opposing jammer broke out of the pack first which meant once X got thru the pack she had a gap to close. She closed it in a heart beat. you could almost feel her speed. It was like she had 3 extra gears over everyone else. The other jammers would see her (or feel her) coming and call off the jam because they knew they were about to get passed and then destroyed.

She was maybe the most physical competator on the track. She put a hit on a girl that changed the entire dynamic of our relationship. She laid this girl OUT. I was shocked. It was such a violent act. Part of me felt bad for the other girl. "can you do that?" i thougth to myself. And apparently that wasent even her best hit. somehow i missed that one but she assured me it was much better. I dont doubt it.

She was maybe the most competative player on the track. That one's toughet to measure but i know how she likes to win and i saw her in the huddles communication with her teamates. She hates to lose.

She was the crowd favorite. Absolutely true. Back in her old derby days fans would put their arms up in an 'X' when she was jamming. Well the announcers got the crowd to do the same thing on Saturday and people were going crazy for X. They were even chanting "X,X,X". i was dumb founded as i looked around at everybody cheering for my best girl.

What shoud the tone of this post be?

The tone of a guy who feels more and more lucky about the gal he's with.

Did i mention were engaged?


(click this image to make it bigger, it looks even cooler that way)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levon Helm... RIP

Levon Helm died today.

He was the drummer and often the singer for The Band.

I heard the news on the radio a few hours ago.

Do you guys listen to the Band? Are you familiar with Levon? If not then you better get listening. I'm not sure how old i was when i first discovered The Band, and Levon, high school i think. I'm pretty sure i loved them immediately but it took years before i truly appreciated them. I began to realize that every time they popped up on the radio (not often enough) or when the i pod was on shuffle, i just loved it. Mainly it was because of Levon. Here was a guy who cut thru all the bull shit and made you sit up an say.... 'this is good'. Plus he was just a country boy from Arkansas. Too cool.

I love music and people like Levon Helm are the reason why. He's awesome. You cant explain it, you can just feel it.

The very first link i every put on this blog was to a picture of Levon Helm. I'm sad he's gone.

So do yourself a favor and start listening to the Band, especially the songs where Levon sings... which are most of them. Tip: start with 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'.

Here's a great article by the New York times... i didnt' even know his real first name was Mark.

"Now i dont mind chopping wood, and i dont care if the moneys no good. You take what you need and you leave the rest, but they should have never taken the very best."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bone Bender 2012... 3hr

It was 2010 when i first did bone bender... it's been a torrid love affair ever since.

Back then the race was held on the trails at Smithville Lake, then in 2011 they moved it to Clinton Lake in Lawrence, KS. The two trails are totally opposites of each other. Smithville, although i only did it once so the memory is old, is smooth and fast... Clinton is full of rocks, big ones, they're everywhere.

Clinton is a mans course.

I prefer the women's courses.

But... you cant deny the satisfaction of tackling a f'ing hard course. I just rode 4 hours of intense mountain bike trails and while i'm extremely tired right now i'm by no means totally wrecked. Instead im sitting here typing away in my underwear drinking a corona and still covered in mud from the race.

This post may be suffering for a bit of post race euphoria... What a day!


I pick up my pal J Sink and we arrive on site at around 845. plenty of time to get ready for the 10am mass start. Just like the previous 2 years im doing the 3 hr solo, sport category. Last year i actually entered the open category, on a whim, and my time put me around 10th in the sport. So i figured i was more of a sport rider than an open rider.

I felt calm before the race and everything went great while getting ready. The guys next to us in the parking lot were from Lincoln, NE so we chatted a bit. And of course there were familiar faces everywhere. Bone Bender seems to be the one cant miss local Mountain Bike race of the year. Practically everybody was there and they all seemed to be in good spirits.

I load up the camelback with co2, tube, pump, multi tool and the jersey pockets with double expresso clif shot x2, orange shot blocks, clif protein balls, camera, and roll to the start line.

Chris Locke dons his awesome motorcycle helmet and leads the neutral roll out on a little motor cycle.

We're off.

Last year i started way too fast. The year before i started way too slow. This year i think i got it just right. It took about 5-10 minutes to get to the singletrack and at one point i thought i was way too far back, then i looked back to see a sh*t ton of people behind me and i felt much better.

We hit the single track and the stop and go starts pretty much immediately. didn't bother me though, i was already breathing hard from the first part. Within 15 minutes the traffic jam is over. On top of being very technical the trails were also slippery due to the recent rain. Luckily i have an amazing bike (thanks X!) and i was smart enough (thank's Britton) to put the right amount of pressure in my tires. The bike felt good.

The first lap was great, i was riding well and feeling pretty confident. then the rear tired started to deflate. At first i wasn't sure, kind of like that time me and some friends found what appeared to be a sweet breath bottle of acid so we all took some and then for the next hour or two we kept saying, "is it acid, are you tripping? no, maybe, no, yes" well, it was acid, in a manner of speaking. Except instead of listening to disc 2 of the white album on repeat i was keeling on the side of the trail putting co2 into a mountain bike tire.

Funny how 10 years changes things.


Luckily the stans tubeless wheels setup plugged the leak so i was pedaling again within no time.

Did i mention that my fingers started cramping after about 10 minutes. No kidding. Not a good sign. i finish the first lap in around 1:35 and started the second lap thinking it might be hard to beat the cutoff to get in a 3rd lap. Then i hit the deck. Then i hit the deck again. Than i came completly unglued for about 10 minutes (maybe this is like the white album on repeat night) and the prospect of a 3rd lap looked grim.

When things got really bad i said to myself, out loud, "ride your bike". That helped. I calmed down and rode a descent lap that finished 2:45 from the start... beating the cutoff by 15 minutes.

Lap 3 here we come

The first half of each lap was by far the hardest so my strategy for survival was to ride it very slow so that i had enough juice to make it over the technical sports, which were plenteful. It was a good strategy and one i dont think i could have executed a few years ago. Back than i would have gotten all worked up like jo jo the idiot circus boy, not now. i'm going grew, i'm wise.

Despite the fact that i was doing what i needed to do i was still hurting bad. The finger cramps were so bad that i basically had to leave two fingers over the break lever at all times otherwise they would lock up and i couldnt move them to grab the breaks when necessary. Plus feet and thigh muscles were beginning to cramp. I tried to turn up the focus because i could see a serious injury happening at any moment.

i got past the hard parts and actually had a spurt of energy on the fastest section of the trail. For 10 minutes i was flying. then reality kicked in (and the double espresso gu kicked off) and i was hanging on for dear life.

But i finished.

It was one of the best feelings ever.

i quickly wondered over to the food tent where the gravel whisperer (owner of the top notch westport restaurant Pot Pie) was cooking up fried chicken. I had a few pcs. Plus some soda. Then i kind of wondered around in a daze.

I had no idea where i placed but i thought it was pretty good because throughout the race not too many people passed me. I checked the results once and didnt see my name, then i looked again to see i finished 2nd.


I had no idea. The mind can be weird during a long race when you're alone in the woods and i alternated between thinking i was doing okay to thinking i was riding like a little bi*th.

So at the end of it all i got to stand on the podium.

What a day!

Big thanks to everyone who made it happen. I have no idea what it takes to put on an event that big but i'm sure it's really hard.

I hope everybody else had even half as much fun as i did.

See y'all next time, perhaps on the start-line of the open race... perhaps.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


X and i made it out to tnw tonight.

it's a new course at a new location and unfortunately we cant pedal to it anymore, unless we get off work early and are looking for a big day, which i hope happens a few times this year. Even though it's less convenient for us it's still great to have crit racing every week. Plus the new course is pretty fun.

I felt great and X held her own as well, not bad for a couple of slow starters.

i dont think either of us felt as well as Lyles. From what i saw he dominated the field sprint in the a race.

Black is back!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

God's Country Mountain Bike Race... 3 hr

I drove to Lawrence this morning to do a 3 hr mountain bike race. God's Country. it was great.

At Perry Roubaix i felt like s*it but today i felt awesome.

The day started with a spilled bottle in the race bag during the drive up, so ive got my jersey and shorts hanging over the visor with the heat pointed at them full blast. It was a chilly day so i didnt want a wet kit. Upon arrival i get dressed and the shorts are still wet so i fold my boxers and stuff them down my pants soak up the moisture as i warm up. Then in the porta poty the boxers fall out and into the toilet. I was very amused by all of this.


I rolled to the start line w/ mcdonalds coffee in hand (stayed up too late last night) and was happy to see a good field for the marathon class. i think it was 16. I'm really glad i decided on Marathon. i need big / long rides right now plus since i dont mtb all that often i feel safer since i should be going slower and therefore am less likely to crash.

Race re-cap

The horn blows and everybody takes off on the gravel levy road. The start is fast and a group of about 8 is immediately gapping everyone else. The gravel whisperer and myself work up to them and he mentions that the winner of Trans Iowa is up there. So is A coe. So it seemed like a quailty field. We turn onto the grass and i get around a few before the singletrack.

There was a fun re-shuffeling as everyone's ability levels got sorted and then about 10 min into the lap it starts raining, not hard but enough to make it very slippery. Or at least very slippery for me, i dont think my tires are good for slick mud plus i probably had too much pressure. Then halfway thru the first lap my saddle goes nose up and im forced to stop and fix it, then it's too far nose down so i have to stop again. Something like 5 people pass me during this. After i get going is right when the trails were the most slick so i felt like no ground was being made up.

However, it was really great to be out riding in the rain. Kind of magical.

I was sliding all over the place but that only lasted for about 20 minutes. the rain stopped and every lap the ground got faster and faster. Plus i noticed that i was feeling good. The first lap was 40 minutes but the second was around 36. After that the timer was turned off and i lost track of the time in my head but i was pushing bigger gears as the race went on. I hope they post results with lap times because my last lap seemed pretty damn fast. i think i rolled thru at 12:30 on lap 4 and finished at 1:02. or something like that.

I couldnt believe how good i felt on that last lap. And i never cramped either. That's progress for me. it paid off. I cought and passed 2 marathoners with about 3 minutes to go. It was interesting how i got around them. So what's the procedure in a situation like that? Is a guy going to let you pass in the last few minutes of a race when he knows you're in his race? i'm guessing no. But then again is it cool to block someone whose obviously fast than you? I asked the first guy if i could pass and he kindly obliged, then as i passed him he goes are "are you marathon?"... "yep".... "oh son of a bitch". i smiled. Another dude who i know is in my race is now within range but then i hear a voice from behing... "can i get around?"... "what race are you in?".... "expert, open, i dont know".... The way he said it made me think he was pretty darn fast and needed to get thru stat. He goes by and I'm pretty sure it was that A Elwell guy, he seemes to be a bad ass. He quickly rode away from me but not before i saw him take a corner at speed that made me realize how awful i am at riding Bikes. It was awesome! I hope he didn't mind my questioning him before letting him pass.


I ride up to the guy in my race and he just pulls over and lets me go by. Ha! im sure it was because Elwell had just passed him too and he figured i was another cat 1 guy. Pow! At least i did ride away from these guys once i passed them. i had the juice so dont feel too bad about how it all played out.

The results for Marathon seemed to be in dispute but they had me at 6th. That sounds about right. Either way it was am amazing day. The trails were awesome, the new mountain bike is awesome, i felt awesome... i'm so glad i drug my sorry a** out of bed at 7am and drive up to lawrenc despite a suspect weather forecast.

Big thanks to Chris Locke for another top notch event. He does it right. Thanks man!

Every race should have hot dogs at the finish.

Mustard Only.

(did anyone else see that guy riding his tri bike on k10? that is crazy)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mountain Bike

I rode my Mountain bike for a bit today.

Only for about 30 min. I pedaled to Volker to get some new grips, the ones i had worn't wide enough. i have grip shifts and there wasn't enough space for my hands without always being on the grip shift, and that led to me accidentally shifting.

I'm still getting used to the grip shifts.

Tomorrow theres a mountain bike race at the Lawrence River trails. I'm doing (weather permitting) the 3 hr race at 10pm. This will be the 3rd race of the year for me after the Perry Dam race and the Perry Roubaix race. This will be my first race on the new mountain bike. It's pretty damn exciting.

I hope i get to do a log of Mountain bike riding this year. 2012... the year of the Mountain bike.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Perry Roubaix 2012... its safe to say i wont be mistake for Roger De Vlaeminck

i'm sitting here at work unable to concentrate as ku plays in the national championship game in about 4 hours, why not waste time writing about Perry Roubaix.

But first a quick message...

Recently i've been wavering on wether or not to continue this blog. I love entertaining people but it's becoming more and more of a chore. it's a love hate relationship. i think the blog will continue but it will be different. Okay, enough of that.

fun bike stuff...

I drove to Perry on Sunday morning to pop my cherry on the Perry Roubaix race. That means it would be the first time i ever did it.

i was running late plus had to put on my tires at the race venue so i had no warmup. Something like 10 people ended up with flats so putting on the special tires was key. And thanks to Lyles for reminding me to put the tires on correctly, i was a little sped up and flustered and he offered some sound advice.

I rolled up to the startline with way to much stuff in my pockets and looked around to see 21 other cat 4 racers. Joe fashion gave me a tip that the first pass thru the gravel would be really fast but then everyone would settle down. it was a great tip.

a bit on the gravel....

i've never done a gravel ride. i've ridden a little gravel on my road bike but only because the route we took unexpecdetly turned into gravel. i had no idea what it would be like. i wasent worried but was definitely on high alert. plus the gravel section was 3 miles long. that seemed crazy long to me but i loved it. we race on pavement all the time so it's good to mix it up.

So Joe's tip proved to be right on, or maybe i was just suffering so bad that it seemed faster than it really was, or mayabe it was a little of both.

Either way we hit the gravel on the first lap and i was immediately in difficultly. i approached it cautiously so a gap opened up because of that. then it took a while to get comfortable so more gaps opened up. i wasent worried, the group was right there so i figured i would just ride up to them. then i started to realize that tons of people were in my situation and the lead group was only about 6 and getting further away. then i started to realize that i was having to bust my a** to catch back up. then i started to realize that i was busting my a** and not even catching up at all. then i remembered the race wasent even 5 minutes old, holy s*it! i was going to get dropped on the first lap!

That first pass thru the gravel was intense. When i saw pot pit (whose new nickname is 'the gravel whisper) at the front i know it was serious.

We came out of the gravel and i was leading the first chase group. I told the guy behind me to pull thru because i was dying, he closed the gap easily and i was back in the safety of the bunch. A few more made contact and there were probably 10 to 12 of us. That first lap was unfortunately the most exciting part of my race so the rest of this will be short.

I felt good for the last few miles of the 1st lap and even took a short pull, nothing hard. but then i got dropped on the second pass thru the gravel. Eventually i hooked up with three other guys (including fixed gear phillip, former winner of Street Cred!) and we worked well together. But then they dropped me (not on the gravel this time, i like to get dropped on different surfaces) and i rode the final 3 laps by myself. Actually i was joined by a velo tek guy for the last 5 miles. he was second before flatting. he dropped me like a gad habit on the final climb.

Thankfully i was not discouraged about any of this and rode hard the whole way. I kept a good attitude. Of course i was pissed to get dropped. i know i can be a lot better than this. i've proved it in cross. but i havent put in that much work so far this year so i got what i deserved. i plan to keep my head down and keep riding with a good attitude. you've got to work for it and i cant wait to work for it. i wish my real job was this much fun.

(i think i use the word 'i' to much in my writing, does anyone else notice that? i do)

So i felt like s*it at Perry Roubaix but came away from the race with a better understanding of myself and how to race bikes. plus since everyone flatted i finished 8th! ha!

God's country mountain bike this saturday (weather permitting)!!!

Rock Chalk