Monday, November 29, 2010

Bamacross State Championships - Avondale Park

The honor of "Hardest 30 Minutes of My Four Day Weekend," was a hard fought battle with the Bamacross State Champ race squaring off against digging around in Christmas decorations, hanging close to 20 pictures agonizingly straight in the house, rotating the tires on my car in way too little time before Thanksgiving dinner.

Winner: Bamacross

I know exactly what to do (I think) as training for cross races. Run a couple times a week, preferably up hills. Short, high power sprints would be good practice. Combining these two and running fast WITH the bike would be super. Knowing and doing are two different creatures, of course. I knew...didn't do. I did well at Sloss Cross so why mess with something that ain't broke all of a sudden? So, after convincing myself cross training was unimportant I gladly lent Eric my cross bike to use as a commuter for the last couple weeks. I got the bike back the night before the Avondale Park race and deemed myself well (enough) prepared. I mean, really, I have pumpkin bread for energy food...guaranteed success.

I have done the Avondale race before and most of what I remember is a looooong flat section and a ridiculous steep run up some old stairs. Great fun until your lungs are trying to make an early escape from your chest. We watched the women and old dudes put on their pain faces for a bit then I did a quick preride with Alan before the race to practice my runups. Still dismal. Alan gapped me by about 20 seconds on the big staircase and I was busting it to get up them. Oh well, race time!

I was lined up maybe fifteen people back. Starting up front is a huge advantage in these races. From the start I was probably top ten or fifteen the first lap and noticed Alan out front where he would stay for the rest of the race. I was getting burned on the flat sections, but I picked my knife with one gear to bring to this race, so that's life. Hoofed it up the run up and realized and "hoofing" would result in me not being able to pedal hard the next minute or so. Not a good trade so my new strategy was to soft hoof it up the stairs and save my power for the bike. This was working well and I was able to move up through the field the next two laps. Pretty sure I made all my passes on the technical backside of the course and eventually found myself about ten seconds behind Alan. Just. Couldn't. Catch him. He got the win and deserved it, great payback for the hard work he has done for this season. I was able to hold onto my second place to make the top two steps of the Men's 4 race a Bici Coop affair with Chad in the third spot.

Congrats to the Porter guys on some strong racing and also Lee and Riley (5th place!) holding it down in the 1/2/3s. Bummed that I have to work next weekend but had a great time at this one and at Parkside Cafe afterwards. Thanks to Brent for keeping this whole deal rolling.

I feel I am at a juncture after this race. Rules are to cat up after three top threes and I have two. I will not have a third since I will miss the next race but feel it is time to move up. Not sure if I want to bother with this. Moving up will mean: Getting a real cross bike ($$$$) and training for cross races(nope, focus is on the MTB ultras).... I don't want to do either one. This is really just end of season blather and I will probably just go Do The Right Thing and get my ass handed to me in 1/2/3s. My character could use some building next year, anyway. See you guys then.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Way to go, Vassago.

Vassago is having a nice Black Friday sale right now, $329 for all steel frames. Not posting a link, refuse to advertise for them for free. This would be so much cooler if I actually needed one of these...

Don't need a mountain frame at all, but I keep trying to convince myself the Fisticuff cross frame is a good idea. Only problem is the 90 MM HEAD TUBE...I just don't get it, that is the ONE thing a cross bike should have different fit wise than a road bike. A taller head tube. Unless you like running 100mm of spacers and a Zoom Heads Up riser. The comfort look.

I wonder how many caffeine addled morons got trampled trying to get a toaster on sale today. People should be prepared for some physical contact going into a frenzy like that. I know better and am on the couch drinking coffee, which I really doubt will result in me getting trampled or bit.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Super Sunday

The weather was oddly perfect for late November today, high of 75 and the right amount of clouds (have no idea how to quantify that). I hated riding Oak Mountain earlier this year when it was hotter than four hundred hells every Saturday and I felt obligated to ride 6 hours every time for Fools Gold prep but now it has gotten back some of its old charm. I have ridden the trail three times in two months probably with one of those being a night ride last week.

Plan was to do a lap with a HRM on to further my quest of finding the perfect gear out there. My goal is to find whatever gear I can go fastest on with the least amount of work on my part. Secondary goal was to ride to the top of Peavine Falls to eat a leftover cinnamon roll. Genius, eh? Ok, not quite genius but a good way to practice changing cogs frequently.

The 32/19 was about 4 minutes faster than the 32/20 over the "new" big loop out there which is around 22-23 miles. Should put a computer back on the bike at some point to get a correct mileage. The 19 just feels right and I don't feel like bothering with the smaller cogs I have sitting around.

I did not have a goal of seeing two dachshunds trail running today but I was lucky enough to happen upon them anyway.

Really, really, really need to get the Reba rebuilt, my fingertips feel like they got stepped on by toddlers for four hours today. Bah. Oh, and preesh to Brandon for getting a bigass cabin for Southern Cross.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sloss Cross- Bamacross #4

I have been trying to get a bike together for a cross race since the first one a month or so ago and finally made it out to one this weekend. Threw some Bontrager 29-3 tires on my Inbred and geared up to a 32/15 hoping that would be enough (it was not).

I did my usual 60 mile loop Saturday morning and nothing but fumbling over barriers was in my head the whole time. The ride went by super quick....really not that bad without the IPod I accidentally gave to the thrift store. Not sure how doing a long ride before a race is the best idea but hey, gotta do something after I drink coffee for an hour on the weekends!

On to Sloss. This was probably my second cross race I have done and it was awesome. The Bamacross guys did a stellar job on course layout although all the neon yellow tape confused me going through the turns during the race. Lots of people out for the race including many from Cahaba Cycles and the Bici Coop gang with a badass pit setup. I raced Mens 4 division with close to sixty other guys! That is way more than last time I raced, I like it. Goal at the start was to avoid any crashed during some tricky berms in the middle of the course and not throw up on the first lap. Double score.

I was probably top 5 or 10 guys spinning like mad down the pavement to get on to the actual course. I thought I would have an advantage in the turns because of the mtb tires but it just wasn't going my way. The guys with real cross bikes seemed to be able to dig down into the gravel and get some grab while I was drifting to the outside of the turns. Before I know it I was dismounting to dash over the first set of barriers. Shit, way too long since I have done this....slammed the rear wheel into the last barrier which I would do the three laps after as well. Next was the middle of the course over a railroad bed dropoff maybe a foot high then up two big, sketchy berms. This was where I made all my time up in the race, I was able to ride them each lap and passed two or three people each time.

Russell, thanks for the pics.

As we entered the second lap of four, I took a look back to see a train of at least fifteen guys right on me. Whoah, close race. Alan was nearby, as was Zach and Sean and a bunch of others I didn't know. I made time on some of the turns and the Berms only to get burned over and over on the flats. I had nothing on a real cross bike here, one would have been perfect for this course. A cross bike, who would have was nice to battle back and forth instead of being in no mans land the whole race.

Sean and I had a decent gap on the other guys now and a photographer near the last set of barriers said we were in it for third place. This didn't mean shit, I was going as hard as I could and barely able to breathe through all the dust in my throat. No water for cross? Please. I was able to get around Sean again on the berms and held him off through most of the course until the last straight section. 56 gear inches goes only so far and it wasn't enough. He got past me here and I could not pass again through the last twisties. I was happy I resisted the temptation to sit up and coast once he passed me which is my usual way. I think Alan was a few seconds back in fourth. Ross won our race and got bumped to 1/2/3s. Ready for Avondale!

Saw Lee out there and he mentioned something about doing the Colorado Trail Race next year. 50o miles. Self Supported. Hard core. All that is good. The bad part is it looks like about a 3 week time commitment and tons of gear to buy. Probably skipping this one but damn. Some day. Send my reg. in for Southern Cross in February, we should have a good group going from BHam out there.

OH! Just got an email from Maxxis accepting me into their sponsor program for 2011. Hell. Yes. Guess I need to find a Maxxis replacement for my trusty Rampage, Ardent maybe?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two days in a row.

This will not happen often that I have something of substance to write about two days in a row. Truthfully, this is two weeks worth of stuff in two days...race season is over, not much to say. With that said, thanks to Richard (Dick?) Clark of Backcountry Research for sending me some 2011 stuff to uh, do some research with. After a double blind study I have concluded that one of these velcro thingies full of Awesome will indeed keep a tube attached to any round device on or near a bike.

This is the Zone, which seems to be a gussied up version of the Vital. I used the old model last year and it worked great but this seeems even better. It will probably end up on the seatpost but I can't stare at it worried it will fall if it is behind me.

To the right of the stem is an Epic Ride Research Mountain Feedbag. These things are badass for carrying any sort of food or map but I have managed to wear a hole in mine by keeping loose tools and whatnot in there. I have heard of people using chalk bags that climbers use on their bars for food but never dog accessories. We were at Superpetz or one of those deals last week and they have some sort of bag to carry something a dog would never need for about 7 dollars. Looks like it could replace the Feedbag eventually. Maybe Petco will sponsor me....

I am going to give the Wald cruiser bars a fighting chance before pulling them off to put on wide, flat bars like the rest of my bikes have. They have maybe a 25 degree backsweep and a couple inches of drop. They felt fine riding the trainer tonight, but who knows what will happen when I have to ohhhhhh, you know, turn and stop. Minor things.

Here is the current bike setup in the living room. Hell of a lot better than leaning them in one big pile and hoping they don't fall when a dog gets close.

Left to right:

Inbred cross bike: 32/15 with skinny Bontrager TLR tires
Trek 510: 40/14 fixed with stuff laying around. Oh, and XTR pedals worth more than the bike
Scandal: Winter mode waiting for the Reba to be Rebuilt. Great bike in any form. Way better than the two Niners or countless other SS bikes I have owned over the years, mostly due to not having an EBB to dick around with.

Pic dump over, time to go train for this cross race. I rode earlier and will walk the dogs up soon later. Pretty much the same as intervals and run ups. i think.

Monday, November 1, 2010

No really, it IS about the bike

I was about to say I had a love/hate thing with road bikes but immediately realized it is mostly indifference. I don't particularly enjoy road riding, I just do it to go to work or be in shape for the few times a month I manage to go mountain biking. A necessary evil if you will. Seeing that I "must" have one of these evils I have tried to do what I can to make it better.

List of bitches (complaints, not women):

A) I don't like the way road bikes fit. All the positions on the bar feel awkward and staring at a front hub is not conducive to avoiding traffic and potholes on a commute. Add a loaded pack in...yeah, no good.

B) Super easy to flat the tires and no room for bigger tires.

C) Road riding is boring, I need entertainment.

The fix:

First thing you will notice is Luke, the terrified cattle dog under the bike. It came very close to falling on him right before I took the picture and making him stay next to it did little to build his confidence in the situation.

This is a rushed picture of my new "road bike" after I built it. I mostly just moved parts over from my Surly and it turned out pretty damned good minus the camera glare but that is not a quality I was really looking for. Have not actually ridden it yet but the fit is dead on close to my mountain bikes and the old Trek fixed gear (I hate writing "fixie"...). NO TOE OVERLAP on this bike. Yes, I am excited about that. The old Trek does not have any either and it made unhappy with any bike that possesses this evil trait.

Novelty has not worn off the Powertap yet. Amazing how a simple screen can turn any boring stretch of road into an opportunity for self loathing or accomplishment. Mostly loathing, though. 140 pounds doesn't produce many watts. All the other parts are solid and dependable. I have had a carbon wonderbike (Trek Madone) and as badass as it was I too scared of breaking it to enjoy it so steel it is.


Soma Double Cross 56cm (57.6 TT, score)
Surly Crosscheck fork
Dura Ace 9 speed w/ flat bar shifters
XTR V brakes
Powertap/ Open Pro wheelset
Panaracer Pasela TourGuard 28c tires
Thomson post and WTB Vigo
Cheapie stem with Wald 872 cruiser bars flipped upside down
Shimano pedals

Built to last, son. Pity it's first ride will be on a trainer. How sad. Learned my lesson last week about long commutes in the rain...mean sinus infection all weekend.

More news and pictures this week after I find the camera cable.