Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cross Failure #2 and a side dish of Football Failure

So my favorite Holiday has come and gone. Nothing beats gorging down a ton of food and not feeling bad about it.

Katie and I headed up to Michigan this year for Thanksgiving to be with my family, and also to accept my brother Jamie's Christmas present; of Detroit Lions tickets for the 69th annual Thanksgiving Day game. Some people like my Uncle call Jamie evil for this present, but I don't know about the others, but I was excited non the less. No matter how bad they appear to be, I'm excited every Sunday for their games, so it was a joy for me to go.

The gang. (from left to right: Kaite, Jamie, Jamie, Josh, and Dad)

The game started off just as you would expect a Lions game to start this year,(especially against arguably the best team in football this year), with a fumble on the second play Two plays later a touchdown for the Titans. The lone highlights for the Lions would come in the next series as my favorite player Jason Hanson tied the record for most field goals in a career over 50 yards.

Jason Hanson's record tying kick. Luckily I got in the stadium with my lens to get this fantastic shot. After being kicked out of one line because my camera lens was a 55mm, which happened to be 5mm over the maximum limit.

After that the Titans ran down the field without being touched and scored some points. The Lions did manage one touchdown, however, before the half to bring the score closer at 35 to 10. From there though, the Titans scored a few more points and the Lions scrambled for a few first downs and the final was 47 to 10. Next time they should play they should actually try. After the first few touchdowns Katie called her dad and asked if they looked as bad on tv as they did in person! Thanks for the wonderful gift Jamie! But in all honesty we had a lot of fun.

Eating Thanksgiving dinner out of bucket! How many wives would do this for their husbands? I'm a lucky guy. Although my mother did have a delicious dinner ready for us upon our return home. So it all worked out. Expect for the part of having the Lions play.

We drove back Friday afternoon so Katie could get some sleep before her 15 hour shift at Helzberg and so I could try to do the Hoosier cup cross race this time. I made it out this time and was ready to go with my fixed cross bike. Too bad someone couldn't fix my cross handling skills.

First of all, I started like it was a 100 mile road race so I found myself just about a half lap behind in the first lap. Then I would basically come to almost a complete stop before each barrier as I wasn't sure my feet could keep up with the speed. The first time up the run hill I noticed I still had my saddle bag and two water bottles on my bike making it hard to shoulder my bike. And finally my remounting skills were nonexistent. One time at the top of the run, my bike was on the left and as I went to get it, I ended up on the top tube no feet clipped in starting back down the hill. The guy up there taking photos must have been laughing his butt off at the clown trying to get on his bike. Heck, I was.

Here I am racing.

All and all it was a complete blast and I can't wait for next time. I never had so much fun being horrible. I think I'll do the state championships this weekend and really embarrass myself. I could practice but that might ruin the fun and excitement. To add on to the fun of the day a couple of us went out and rode some trails around the area on the cross bikes. It was a pretty awesome day.

Breeze On

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cross Failure

So all I wanted to do Saturday was a simple and fun cross race. It was the kind where a bunch of guys just show up to a location and race for fun, and even some awesome Zipp products.

Anyways it started Friday when I got the word and decided to do it. The first of many problems I would encounter just to do this one little race was that my cross bike didn't have a bottom bracket in it. Normally not a big deal, but it's a Pinarello with old campy parts, so it requires a squared tapered Italian bottom bracket.

After a few phone calls and an email one of boys from Avon stepped up and said he had one. Not only did he let me have it, he dropped it off at my place for me. Thanks Mark! So by 9pm I had my bike set and ready to go.

The race started at 10am and I was going to meet Joe there a bit early to take a lap or two of the course. All that meant an early start around 8:30. I would encounter my second problem. Whether or not to begin riding when it was only 18 degrees. After some him-hawing I decided to layer up and venture out.

Two miles into the ride there I took off from a stop sign in the drops and realized that some how my carbon bars on the cross bike where cracked and ready to give at any moment. There was so much movement in them. After a brief thought of maybe I'll just ride on the tops which turned into a quick slap to the face after thinking of how stupid that idea was I headed back home.

Still to ignorant to call it a day and just wait later to ride, I made a phone call to Joe to ask about the course. Could I use a road bike? Don't laugh I've done it before and actually finished quite well. He said maybe it's just a lot of grass riding.

Well running low on time I decided to get the mountain bike out and take that. So after clipping off my number plate from Iceman, and putting air in the tires and shock I was once again on my way. Running short on time I had to keep the pace high just to get the race. All was going good and I was going to make it when I was 3 miles away and thump, thump, thump. Flat tire! Seriously? I couldn't even make this all up. Of course on the way out I forgot my spare mountain bike tube.

Luckily for me my wife was only a phone call away and got to me within 20 minutes. Just at the point when I began to freeze in the sub 25 degree temperatures.

Maybe I will try to get to another cross race once I get my bars fixed. I see the Indiana State Championships are on my birthday. Could there be a better way to spend it then suffer hard for an hour?

Breeze On

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


No better way to end the season, or heck even start a season, with the late November date, then by doing the Iceman Cometh Challenge. My father and I drove up Thursday to Traverse City, more specifically Kalkaska where I would begin my second mountain bike ride of the year getting a look at this years course. So under non seasonal conditions with the partly cloudy skies, and temps in the upper 60's I took off on my adventure that would end Saturday afternoon.

I met my dad on the trail after 17 miles at Williamsburg road and we rode the last 11 miles on the Vasa trail together before heading back to the car. I began to get a bit excited after my first ride after feeling rather comfortable on the course. Especially since there were not to many technical single track sections and of what there was, it was rather short. The other big tactical concern, other then weather related, is the sand.

There are plenty of sandy sections that our marked out along the way. Although this year it seemed to be in really good shape with a good track either threw it, or a 'cheater' line either on the right or left.

Friday morning came along and we pretty much did the same thing as the day before. Expect my dad rode the beginning instead of the end, and I rode the whole thing. Seeing everything twice could only help and make me feel better. The only concerns would be how would I feel going faster or following others? Only time would tell.

I think my father was feeling good after a couple of days of pre riding. Not quite sure though.

I saw this sign while out pre-riding. Something about it seemed familiar. Could it be Wirsing sending me a message like he did all season over hills later in a race? I think so.

Saturday morning came and more predominate weather conditions that we would come to expect for Iceman had came across the Kalkaska/Traverse City area, with temperatures in the mid 30's and with the occasional sleet/drizzle. I dropped my dad off for his 9:20 start and watched his race progress from start to finish as it crossed a few of the area roads.

Here he is dodging through the trees near Dockery Rd.

He must have dropped everyone as no one else is in sight. He would come in at a very respectful time, considering only 5 weeks of training, in under 2 hours which was his major goal. He would end up finishing 12th in his group.

So I pick him up along with our friend Forest who also raced and we dashed back to the hotel where they could shower and could get my things ready for my race. We showed up to the race, got my bike out of the car and were putting on my wheels when we noticed one of brake pads had slipped out and we didn't have it. You know how hard it is now adays finding a brake pad for V-brakes? After asking around for 35 minutes and catching up with others we had tracked one down. Who needs a warm-up anyways? Mountain bike races start slow, kind of like when you start a kilo on the track. So yeah...

I had a decent spot on the start line, but by the first corner which was maybe 50o meters away I was 3/4 of the way in the back. I thought I was going hard, but just wasn't absolutely killing it. So I payed for that as I had to spend the first few miles trying to get around everyone else to get back to the front. Then of course as I was trying to squeeze into a spot I shouldn't have I ended up going down and getting run over. So I got up dusted my self off and continued my full on sprint. This was by far the longest kilo of my life.

By now things had stretched out a bit and I would jump from group to group trying to get as far to the front as possible, which unfortunately was long gone.

Trying to get going back to the front, to bad for these fellas I got by them just before this section of single track. I hope I didn't slow them down to much. The fun part of the whole race was as it went on some of the riders I had been with for a longer period had known to dive in front of me in every single track. Two guys in particular put in some sick moves to get in front of me. It was awesome. Wish I had a helmet cam!

Unfortunately I had to much of them. Maybe I should have left the brake pads out.

I finally settled into a group of 5 that was chasing the 8 leaders. At one point we were about 20 seconds away, but never made it. Apparently Mike Simonson was just drilling it like always on the front, who just so happens to be the guy who started in front of me. That was the last time I saw his wheel.

Well anyways there were a few tight single track sections in the last 2 miles and I lost a few spots, gained a few spots back in the two track, and lost one or two again in the last, but gained one back before the end and finished in 11th. Just outside of the top 10, which was my goal. Oh well it was a blast and I can't wait for next year.

Rounding the corner for the finish.

Breeze On