Monday, December 23, 2013

More Cross!

Whew! I just completed three weekends of Saturday/Sunday racing before taking this past weekend off. Now it's time to rest, recover, and regroup for the final race of the year, District Championships near Monterey on 12/29.

The first weekend was back in downtown L.A. starting with a twilight race on Saturday. Mary got some nice shots of me.

Didn't have a lot of opportunity to enjoy the sunset!

And an afternoon race on Sunday.

I felt more focused and peppy Sunday, managing a solid 8th out of 13 in the 45+ A group (top tier category over 45 years of age).

We hung out and watched the pros race & shred. Here Adam Craig leads Tim Johnson and the rest of the field.

One of my favorite riders, Jamie Driscoll,  put in a huge solo attack about half way through the race. A small group lead by Tim Johnson and Danny Summerhill eventually clawed their way back and Driscoll's teammate, Ben Berden, quietly sat on their wheels.

Here's the group of five descending the fly over with Driscoll hammerin' on the front.

With two laps to go, Driscoll seemed to fall off the pace, but somehow then summoned the power for one last attack, forcing Johnson and Summerhill to respond. Coming into the finishing stretch Driscoll lead it out while Berden came around to just nip him on the line - a well deserved & smart 1-2 finish for them.

I was so stoked I had to geek it up and congratulate them afterwards.

The following weekend I headed to Bakersfield. I love this race and wish more folks would come out to race there. The courses are fun and tough, the organization is terrific, and the whole vibe is great.

I decided to race the open B category (second tier category, all ages) since in the past the 45+ A group was only three or four riders. On Saturday the plan worked out great as I raced against ten guys, felt really good, nailed the slightly muddy course, and nabbed an excellent second place.

I lifted these pics from the SoCal Cross website. Here I am battling for the lead near the beginning of the race.

For Sunday the course was reversed and the promoter & overall good guy, Sam Ames, added two nasty run ups, which destroyed me!

The combination of the previous day's effort and the steep hills turned Sunday into a test of will to compete for me. I was happy I could dig deep and "give it" despite feeling so poorly ending up an acceptable fourth place.

The next weekend saw me back down in L.A. at Griffith Park. Sorry, no pics. Like Bakersfield, the course was hilly, although without the big run ups. Saturday I felt good. I got an excellent start battled well, gaining on the twisty climbs and losing on the twisty descents, placing a pleasing 6th out of 10 in the 45+A category just a few seconds off the five deep podium.

I hung out afterward with some new pals and watched the elite men's race. Good fun there as Ned Overend (58 years old, six time Mountain Bike National Champion) joined the fray with Brent Prenzlow (no spring chicken at 45 years) and Gareth Feldstein battling to the last lap with Feldstein taking it in a sprint over Prenzlow after Overend slid out in one of the last corners. Was cheering for the old dudes for sure!

Sunday was another tough one though. With temps pushing 80 degrees and the fatigue of Saturday's effort in my body, I again had to rally just to keep it rolling. A failed shifter mid race didn't help the morale either. I gotta admit I had a hard time keeping my head and heart into it, but I still managed 10th out of 13.

Good times all in all.
Can't wait for District Championships. Hoping for a little mud and some strong legs!
Stay tuned.

Thanks for checking in and Merry Christmas. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Owens Valley Cyclocross #6

Sunday marked OVCX #6, back out at the Airport/Wye Road timber harvest zone.

The day brought fresh snow in the mountains, crisp air in the valleys, and a super fun course. What more could you want? Well, aside from moisture, it had everything you'd want!

My strategy was to start fast, crush the sand, and let the chips fall where they may. 

Here I am setting up for the log run over. The brand new Aerohead skin suit helped me be extra fast!

Nick rode his grandpa's Stumpjumper mountain bike. Unfortunately he broke the seatpost remounting during warm up and ended up riding essentially the whole thing standing up!

Near the beginning Bill led Simon in the chase.

BxCx wasn't far behind them. Here he is at the top of the mini wall.

Kegan rolled along in one of the prettier non devastated spots.

Simon lurked behind the whole race!

Simon placed the barriers right on the exit of the hairpin which Bill tackled in a unique reverse spin move. I can't say I ever figured out the best strategy here.

By mid race my lead had grown and I settled into a real nice groove.

Meanwhile Bill faded and Chris joined Simon in the battle for second. Which Simon won.

Hurting good!

Bristle, our dog, offered post race therapy.

I felt super today! Loved the sand. Loved the course. Loved winning.
Gonna take this good form to L.A. and get some results!

Thanks to Mary for the pics.
Thanks to all for coming out for OVCX!!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sacramento Lange Twins Winery Cyclocross

Mary and I ventured over the Sierra for another round of the Sacramento Cyclocross series. This race was held at the Lange Twins Winery south of Sacramento. We were once again blessed/cursed with warm temperatures and dry, dusty conditions.

I got a good start, moving up from the back row to mid pack and held my position pretty well for a couple of laps. I lost a few positions mid race though as I perhaps rode too conservatively knowing the race was a full hour. I finished strong among the third and fourth place single speed racers who started a minute behind. Ended up 12th out of 14 in the 45+ A, but felt like result was better than the numbers might suggest. No falls, crashes, or mechanicals, and a solid effort except perhaps for the mid race lapse. 

It's definitely feeling like the form is on the uptick!

Climbing the huge ramp at the winery where the grape trucks drive up and empty their load into a big hopper at the start of the wine making process.

The backside of the course offered long, bumpy, motor sections near a nice oak forest.

Getting aggressive towards the end of the race.

The course was fun although not real technical. The crowd was loud and supportive which was really cool too. Cross = Good Times!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Last Sunday saw our annual visit to the Benton Crossing/Green Church Road conducted under warm, calm, and dry conditions. We had a great turnout and a great time!

Thanks to Karen for the pics. I lifted em off FB.

For some reason I was pretty wound up at the start and shot off the line like a bullet. 

Forcing Simon to eat my dust for a lap or two!

Eventually Simon got a decent gap, but then I could see "the locomotive" Andreas steaming behind me. With two to go he caught and passed me and while I was able to keep him close, I just could not get back up to him. I felt good though and was happy with the race.

The scenery here is unlike any other cross course in the world! I know. That's a big statement - but it's true!

Topped it off with good friends and good beer at the end.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cyclocross Season Update

Wow! So busy. Race, recover, train, repeat repeat repeat!
Man it's been fun though!


After DTLA (see last blog entry) we had our second Owens Valley Cross out at the "historic" Wilkerson course. Historic because this was the first venue for cross in this area beginning around 1996. This edition was no different than most in that we "enjoyed" loose, sandy conditions and warm, mild weather.

This one ended up being a three way battle between Simon, Tyler, and myself with many lead changes. I managed to perform a beautiful over the bars maneuver mid way through the race which left me chasing for several laps. Gradually I reeled in Tyler and found Simon within striking distance.  Suddenly Simon slowed due to a flat and I sniffed victory, gapping Tyler and rolling in for the win. First one in a while for me!

El Dorado Hills

After working for a day up at Kirkwood ski area, I drove down to El Dorado Hills above Sacramento for another out of town race. The course was laid out on an abandoned golf course which is mowed and partially maintained for the northernmost section and overgrown weeds for the southernmost section. Course features included sand traps, some steep, long climbing, fun swoopy dirt roads, windy grass sections, and a rocky, bumpy uphill.

I lined up with about ten guys in the 45+A division in temps pushing 80F. I recognized one of the racers and knew we were of similar ability, so I paced the first two laps with him and his team mate in the third, fourth and fifth spots. On the third lap though I simply hit the wall and had to back off the gas a couple of notches. I got passed by a few guys although I started to recover towards the end, finishing sixth - out of six finishers. 


After El Dorado I drove home, got up the next morning, set up the Warm Springs course with Simon & Co. and raced again! We once again raced at the Warm Springs venue (see prev post).

This time we had five at the front: Simon, Tyler, Andreas, Bill, and myself. With some long pedaling sections and a little bit of wind, the race became somewhat tactical with little groups forming off and on. Bill took an early lead, which Simon eventually closed leaving Andreas, Tyler, and myself to fall off their pace. I felt a lot better than the day before, but fatigue finally set in and I ended up fifth after Tyler put in a strong move on the headwind section that I simply could not answer.


Mary and I took a nice mini vacation, staying in Carpinteria and racing in Camarillo. The course was on the campus of a school for troubled youths with lots of twisty grass sections, some fast, bumpy dirt, a spin through a barn, sand, and a fun bmx section.

I decided to start conservatively, which ended up being a mixed bag. I definitely avoided blowing up as I had in some of the previous races, but I also got stuck behind guys who weren't as fast through the sand and the bmx sections - although they were fast and powerful on the other sections.

There were a few different guys I battled with during the race - which is always more fun. I even had the pleasure of out sprinting one of them to finish 12th/18 in the 45+A, which I was pleased with.

I was also pleased to spend some real pleasant time at the beach in Carp!

The temps were warm, as was the water, and the crowds were non existent. Yes! 


Simon, Chris and I has scoped out the traditional Airport course after finding almost EVERY single tree in the area cut down this fall. We figured we could still make a go of it out there, so we did!

Frankly, I was really worried folks were going to hate this course which featured sand, sand, and more sand, with a few gravelly sections in between, but most everyone seemed to love it! 

The boys started pretty conservatively, but when Bill bobbled whilst riding second wheel, Simon saw his chance and took off - never to be caught again. I tried, feeling pretty darn solid and riding the sand consistently well, but could never shorten the gap. Chris rode a great race and was a constant threat just a few seconds behind.

Here I am chasing Chris, in costume, near the start.
 Kathleen the pumpkin lady rides with mountains behind.
Kathleen and I freshen up in the creek, which was COLD, but felt great.
 Then we enjoyed beer, brats, and ideal fall weather.

Sacramento Cross/Folsom

Most recently I headed "over the hill" again to race at Folsom in the Sacramento Cross series. The course at Lembi park is hugely fun, taking advantage of every hill, sand pit, and dip in the park. What's more the race attracted the top bay area racers, who had no races in their area that day, including the Master's world champion among other top national level riders. 

With about twenty five guys starting, I managed to come off the back row to squeeze into the top half of the pack. The top five guys were simply way out my league, but I slotted into the back of a pack of strong guys and was feeling good when I dummied it up and tapped my brakes on an off camber and slid out. I managed to get up quickly, get the chain back on, ran up the hill, remounted and promptly bumped into a chainlink fence, which grabbed my lever, twisted my bars, and tossed me off the bike. Stunned, I was honestly unsure I was ok, I was even more unsure about the bike, so I pulled out. DNF (did not finish). My first DNF ever. 

Ten hours of driving, about $200 in gas, hotel, entry fees etc, and around ten minutes of racing!

That happens. It's cross. Now I am even more hungry. 
I'm regrouping, recovering, and checking my schedule.

Stay tuned.
I'll try to be more consistent with the blog here.

Friday, October 4, 2013


A long break again.
Training for cross ain't all that exciting.
Racing cross on the other hand.....

For the third time my season started with Crossvegas. I typically have a hard time with the heat and my grass allergies. This year was no different, but I managed to come up with a second wind and pass a few guys towards the end.

The course designers improve the lay out every year, so it's actually a pretty fun race now with a lot of swoops and curves.

I managed to hang with a few little groups as the fast young punks rode away. With a little luck I avoided three separate crashes just in front of me, which easily could have messed me up pretty badly. The legs were mediocre, but the morale was good.

I gotta give huge thanks and praise to the largest cheering section in my race, the greatest of all was behind the lens taking these pics - my wife Mary!

We hung out for the thrill of watching the pro men and women battle. Nash was the queen and Nys was the king - which was fine by me as they are two of my faves. Here Nys and Trebon motor around the ramp.

Next up was our own Owens Valley underground cross. Thanks to Vegas, I still had a burnt throat and a funky cough, so I did full RD duties setting the course, flipping lap numbers, and taking a few pics.

Once again Simon and Bill battled for the win.

Cashore took the nasty run up in stride.

We were blessed with fine weather and views.

and bees. Which weren't too active thanks to the cool temps.

Next up for me was Down Town L.A. cross!

Found this pic of me on line. I am on the far left side of the pic.

I am racing in the 45+ A division, which is real competitive. I managed to have a good start, going into the first turn in seventh or so, but I had a hard time holding my position and gradually faded back from the main pack. I was pretty happy to hold my place the second half of the race, but I felt completely spent - which I guess is how you're supposed to feel racing cross eh?

I have no idea how I finished 'cause the results still aren't posted. Not sure they ever will be either as there was massive confusion during registration regarding the timing chips.

My congestion problems are subsiding along with the temps around here. I've had a couple of the best training sessions of the year, and I am ready for more.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mammoth 8 Hour Mountain Bike Race

After recovering pretty well from The Crusher, the next scheduled fun was the Mammoth 8 hour Mountain Bike Race. I pre-rode the course weekend before last, did a couple short intensity workouts, and generally took it pretty easy after The Crusher - which was actually pretty hard. I like to be riding more!

Although both The Crusher and this race are endurance type events they are very different in many ways.

First off, of course, is the bike. While many rode mountain bikes at The Crusher, I really felt like the course was ideally suited to a cross bike, which was my steed of choice. There is no way I would consider a cross bike for the Mammoth race though. There are plenty of braking bars (picture widely spaced, deep washboard), deep soft pumice, and enough rocky sections to warrant, or even demand, a mountain bike, so I raced my Giant hard tail 29er.

Besides the rougher terrain, the courses were completely different too. At The Crusher you basically do a big climb, a big descent, some flat pavement, and another big climb with a few rolling sections near the top of the climbs. At Mammoth you ride as many ~8.5mile loops as you can in eight hours. The longest climb was only about five minutes while the rest of the lap consisted of shorter climbs and really fun rolling terrain. Over 90% of the time you are on single track!

At The Crusher you spend most of your day climbing near your aerobic threshold. At Mammoth you only hit full gas for short bursts, but you are constantly tapping the pedal to keep you speed up on the twisty trails.

The Crusher grinds you down with steady climbing, especially the ascent of the Col de Crush. Mammoth beats you down with short, unceasing jabs. The Crusher is all about your legs. You also need legs for Mammoth, but your back and shoulders better be ready to play too!

O.K. enough of the compare and contrast!

Here's how it went.

All ~80 of us lined up for the start in front of Main Lodge at the ski area. There were 24 hour solo riders, 24 hour team riders, 8 hour team riders, and 8 hour solo riders - me (between the black & green jerseys)!

With little fanfare we were off and heading straight into the first singletrack section. If this had been a regular XC race this would have been a nightmare scenario with a full sprint and full contact to get to that singletrack first. Thankfully this was an endurance race and folks were sensibly polite.

Instantly we are zooming through tight single track on the Downtown trail with huge braking bars. Yippee - sort of. Everybody spread out surprisingly quickly and settled into their own pace. Nevertheless the adrenaline in the veins and the dust in the air had me wondering if I had started too fast.

Here's a pic of  me near the end of the first lap.

After the initial rush subsided I happily found I was keeping a sustainable pace. Then, somewhere during the second lap, it started to rain. "Nice" I thought. Knock down the dust, firm up the loose soil, cool things down - "I like this!" Then, on the third lap, it started to pour! Hail and lightning were part of the mix too. Strangely, I liked it even more! The whole scene was invigorating. Plus, I was going too hard to get cold. Perfect!

After twenty or so minutes the downpour turned to sprinkles and the clouds lifted enough to see back towards the Sherwins (left) and the Mammoth Lakes Basin (right). The air was moist and cool. The trails were now firm and fast, and my morale was solid.

So along I rolled. Through three hours - no problem.

Four hours - hmm this is starting to hurt! So, I took a break. Lubed the bone dry chain. Chowed on a peanut butter roll up. Sat down and let the back and shoulders rest, and psyched up to go back out.

I rallied and put in two more solid laps before taking one last, shorter pit. With about two hours and ten minutes I thought I might be able to get in three more laps, but realistically probably only two. This is a weird aspect to this style racing. You watch the clock. You check your lap times, and your greatly impaired brain gets to figure out how many laps you have left!

Here I am riding with my greatly impaired brain and just a bit over one lap to go.

Fortunately for me I was too slow to be near the cusp of trying for another lap. The second place guy in my division (45+) got his tenth lap in with just a minute to spare. If he had not made it he still would have been second, but he would have ridden a whole, painful lap needlessly! Crazy.

I rode the last lap pretty conservatively knowing I was likely doing pretty well and only a crash or a mechanical could mess me up. Although my legs and my energy were still solid, I was feeling really beat up.

About 100 meters to go!

I am done! and I mean DONE!! I had no idea how much discomfort I was in, or how "out of it" I was until I stopped. Everything ached. I had difficulty putting a sentence together. Yet, somehow, there was a prevailing haze of joy overriding all other sensations.

First place in the 45+ division and third overall. Sweet!!! More joy!

Thanks to Nick who found this video of the race where I get a nice little appearance.
race video

And thanks to Mary & Dori for cheering me on and taking the pics.

Time for a break and something completely different - stay tuned!