Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hadley Park

Stopped by the Hadley Park Community Center today. I've been looking for a place to swim and the HPCC is a short 5 mile bike ride away and it's free. I had no idea Nashville was hip enough to create FREE facilities like this. It was clean, everyone was nice, there was no one there. The lap lanes are short, but they're long enough and they're FREE. All the machines and weights are brand new, no one was using them and they're FREE to use. I couldn't believe my luck.

After swimming a half hour (easing back into it) I decided I would celebrate by buying some new swim shorts. I've lost about 15 lbs since I got the board shorts I've been using and I pretty much can't keep them on. My dad always swam in a speedo, which I thought was a little tacky, banana hammocks don't really have any place in a community center. I opted for some something slightly less revealing but just as tight. When I bought running shorts I went all the way and it gave me a false sense of commitment which translated to me working harder, an acceptable by-product. First few times in the pool, I'll probably wonder what I was thinking, but I choose to rock the lycra on the bike, out in the open, why not in the pool, eh? While I was in the store, I got to looking at running shoes. I was thinking this morning during my run that I probably needed an upgrade from my Nike Free's if I was going to start putting in more mileage. The Free's are supposed to only be good up to somewhere around 5 miles and I'll be doing longer days than that. I'm also hoping to save them for travel since they pack up so small. Anyway, got to looking at shoes and ended up with these sweet little numbers from Asics. I'll give them a whirl tomorrow on what will probably be my longest run since my accidental 11 mile run out in Washington last summer.

I'll recount the tale: The band was playing a festival in Cashmere, WA and our hotel was right next to the river and a bike/running path. I headed out for a short run, thought I'd maybe do 3-4 miles. Started up the river and crossed over on a bridge. Stopping at a map, I noticed another bridge down the river. Without taking the time to add up all the little mileage markers, I decided I'd just go ahead and run down there, cross over and run back. There was a kids fun ride going on and I was leapfrogging several families. They'd come by then stop at the rest station where I'd pass them. At one point, about 6 miles in, a family passed me for the third time and the father, a fit man on a single speed mountain bike asked, "you running the loop." "Sure," I replied. He said, "You're not from around here, are you?" I told him I was from Nashville, in town for the festival. He got all worked up when I told him I was in the Stringdusters, he and his family were planning on coming up to the festival just to see us. He offered me some water and I asked how far I had to go. "About 11 miles."

I was not cut out for this, I'd only been running seriously again for a few months and had never tried to bite of anything more than 5 or 6 miles. At that point, I was past the point of no return. I kept on, begging water at the kid's rest stations and finally made it back to the hotel, a little worse for wear but feeling ok. If it hadn't been for the kids ride going on it would have been a tough day. I told my bandmates I'd "accidentally run 11 miles." Our guitar player stated that those words would never be heard coming from his mouth. That evening I got an appreciative round of applause from the mostly sedentary crowd when a band member introduced me as the "idiot who accidentally ran the entire River Loop that morning." Here's an incredible YouTube video of me acting a fool onstage later that night during the encore. I do my "thing" about a minute in if you're pressed for time. Notice the classic bluegrass haybales!

It's interesting what you can do if you have to do it. I remember that run often when I'm trying to push through a physical wall on foot or on the bike. It's kind of like how I explain riding a single speed. When you don't have any choice, or choices, you just stomp on it. I think that's what's so appealing to me about only one speed, no choices save for go and stop, and that's not a very difficult decision to make, right?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nashville MPO Survey

The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planing Organization wants community input regarding sidewalks, greenways, and bike lanes. I don't have to tell you how deficient Nashville is in these areas and my hope is that some of the money our new president is setting aside for "infrastructure" could end up going toward "clean" or "green" infrastructure like the construction of more greenways, bike lanes and sidewalks. If you have an extra 3 minutes (and if you're at your desk, you definitely can afford to sacrifice 3 minutes of Facebook time, seriously) please go here and take a quick survey. You also may consider shooting out an email with the link to a few of your like-minded friends.

My cyclocross season has ended. I'm feeling a tremendous sense of loss and a sort of listlessness I haven't felt since September. To make matter worse I went out after the race Sunday and ate two huge plates of Mexican food and drank a 30 oz. beer and half a pitcher of Margarita. Needless to say, my legs still feel like crap. Fortunately the lousy weather and sore legs are keeping me from getting outside, forcing me to do a little transitional downtime. Yesterday I spent the day planning my next training cycle (which included finding a 5k/10k in February, mapping out all the mountain bike races I can make between March and August and fitting one road stage race into the schedule) all in an effort to keep me fit and motivated and get me ready for next cyclocross season.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cross-A-Nooga #2 (or My Season Finale)

Last race day of the season, could not have gone better. They changed a couple sections of the course, adding two tricky sections that I had to run and adding a chicane. First race I found myself off the front again, with a 5-10 bike length lead over the first Pro. I stayed out front through the first lap, then let the two of them ride up to me. The three of us stayed together, trading places for the next 3 laps. On the final lap, through the first 1/3rd of the course, they got a 10-15 length gap (I was forced to run a section they were riding and by the 6th lap, I was starting to lose a little ground), but I was able to close it down through a series of corners, finally catching them in the mud and sand. I knew I wouldn't be able to beat anyone geared in a sprint, so I attacked as soon as I made contact. With 1/3rd of a lap left, I got enough space to stay ahead, finishing first, in front of the 1's and 2's as well as the 3's.

An hour later the SS open class went with the 4's. I was feeling good, it was my last race of the season so I just put my head down and hammered. Made it around 5 times. Almost got a little teary-eyed coming across the finish line. It's been such an amazing season, I never expected to end up the the kind of form I did. I've met so many great people and beaten myself into such good shape, I'm really sad it's over. Fortunately I have a lot to look forward to next season and in the meantime, it's cross-training and mountain bike season. There will probably be fewer ride related posts, but single speed is as much a mind-set as anything so I'll be posting up some random thoughts, and photos (hopefully, forgot the camera again today) from rides, runs, and general adventures.

This weekends results put me in 3rd overall in the CX3's and 2nd overall in the SS categories. I'll most likely drift down a few places after the Knoxville weekends but I'm pretty happy to have topped out on the podium. If my season wasn't ending I'd have a shot at moving up in the 3's.

Thanks to Nate, Freeman, Tanner, Ed, Travis, David, Jeremy, and all the other guys who helped me out, yelled at me when I was obviously slacking and generally added to fun-factor and camaraderie aspect of the races. There's a bunch of you who's names I can't remember or didn't get, but the Central Tennessee cyclocross racing scene is one-of-a-kind and I'm really honored to be a part of it. Until next year...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cross-A-Nooga #1

Cyclocross. My last weekend 'til September. Long day, good company, great course and good outcome. I usually love riding and today was no exception. I've finally got my pre-race routine down, just in time to forget it again for months. Definitely credit the yoga for always setting up a good day of racing. French press. Quinoa. Gallons of Water. Met Nate at 7am off Bell Rd. then drove south to Chattanooga.

The course featured a tight front half, including a really tricky steep right hand switchback that everyone was having trouble with. A few off camber sections, brief run-up, a little mud, and some tricky sand. The second half was wide open, flat out and back with a some dirt road before a barrier and a couple turns right before the finish.

CX3 went with the 1's and 2's and were first on the course at 11. From the start I stuck with the 1st and 2nd place Pro's, sitting in, letting them do all the work and trying to stay out of the way. When we hit the sand on lap 5, they both went down. I missed them and got a little gap but didn't think I could keep it. Coming through the start/finish I sat up and let them get ahead to do their thing. I followed them in, finishing 15 seconds behind. Nate got third, which is badass for his first race. He and I are both of the opinion that there are a bunch of 4's that should upgrade.

I was feeling good today, stretching my legs a little. Single speed race, CX4's went at the same time. There were just 5 of us in the SS class. I waited about of third of the way through the first lap and I hit the gas and went for broke. 5 laps in 30 minutes. Felt best on my 10th lap of the day. I think I will upgrade to CX2 at the end of the season, not give myself any "out" when October rolls around.

No camera, again. I'm going to go put it in the car right now. Same thing tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sewanee Snow



Got an email on Monday from Kevin "the Freak" Freeman recruiting me for a little mid-week mountain bike ride. He suggested some trails I hadn't ridden and he further enticed me by dropping the word "single" followed immediately by "speed." Now, I've had a lot of racing success this season coming into the weekends rested and initially I didn't think that a mid-week 3 hour mountain bike ride was exactly what my final 'cross weekend needed, but I'm not some livin'-for-the-race-weekend wanker, so I re-arranged my schedule and committed to showing up at the Blue Chair coffee house in Suwannee at 8:30 this morning. Last night, after a perfect steak dinner with my perfect wife, I went to the trouble of doing the math and realized I'd have to leave at 6:50, meaning I'd have to get up at 6. Fortunately, in addition to not being a wanker of any type, I'm a morning person and WPLN 1430 AM comes in clear almost all the way to Suwanee, which was especially nice this morning after. NPR had cut up the inaugural address into little soundbytes that made me tear up all over again.

Today was a true blue-bird day, and as soon as I started gaining elevation, I noticed snow on the ground. By the time I got to Sewanee there was nearly an inch of white fluff that effectively took the edges off everything. It reminded me of those trips up to the mountain back in my ski-bum days. I was a little skeptical, as I pulled into the coffee shop parking lot, I wasn't sure what condition the trail would be in. Freeman had arranged to ride with a local, and not just any local, but Woody from Woody's Bicycles. Woody, it turns out, is the man. Single speed, 29er, bike shop... He didn't seem phased by the conditions and Freeman seemed fired up as always.

The ride starts right from the shop and the first half mile or so it was just the three of us, slipping silently through the snow on the sidewalk. Between single speeds, large tires and snowcover, there was hardly a sound. With little warning we left the road and hit the trail. Everything was covered in a little less than an inch of dry snow and no one else had ridden it since the snow had fallen. I immediately started to warm up and settle into the comfortable pace. The snow made for great conditions without any distractions as all the terrain looked the same. No way to distinguish between rock, dirt and leaf, all was white. We kept a leisurely pace, which was a nice change for me. I usually find it hard to restrain myself but it was such a beautiful day and the company was so good, I just pedaled and smiled and tried not to push too hard on the pedals.

Forgot the camera again. Fortunately we stopped for a lot of pictures and Kevin shot these over to me while I was eating dinner with the family tonight. At one point he did a ride-by shot, seen here to the left. He also showed up with a used Felt X1 that I'm probably going to get. I need a geared bike for riding the road and this was at the top of my list for a geared cross bike before I realized how fast a single speed was. The hard part will be finding the money, but more than that, I'm worried that I might start using it to race the CX3 race instead of my SS and that's not what I want...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ride

Beautiful cold day. Rode over to the east side of town to pick up a hotrodded freewheel from Dan. Then over to my friends house to watch him paint for 10 minutes. Mad dash home across the river to get home in time for a meeting of the minds (Obama said to get to work). Ran into a guy on a Lynskey cross bike with couplers for flying. Very cool. Was feeling good about my physical condition, my relative core-ness until I stumbled across this guy and even more this guy. I don't know how a guy could maintain 21mph for 92 miles, but apparently it's nothing out of the ordinary for Fuzzy. I'm linking these guys blogs to mine, this is the kind of adventure I want to hear more about.

TBRA

TBRA has finally posted up the results from Knoxiecross #1 and #2. I'm 5th in CX3 and 4th in Single Speed. 6 races left in the season, I'll only be at two of them.

Gray days in Nashville. Snow yesterday, flurries today. Planning some riding this week, though, it's hard to say how much of that will actually happen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tired Legs

Coming out of this weekend I was feeling a little haggard. Tuesday I headed out for some hill work in Percy Warner and felt like crap. It literally felt like I had the brakes on. Barely made it up a few of the hills. Today, headed to Lock 4, trying to beat the thaw. Got in one lap then the sun hit it and the ride was over. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 17 degrees when I'm planning to ride. We'll see if I actually get out there. Not looking good right now, but Monday's my next chance to ride, so...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Knoxiecross #2 (more mud)

Up early. 5:40am to be semi-precise. Realized once I got up it was about 20 minutes further to the rendezvous point than I thought it was when I went to bed. Bagged the shower and the yoga, instead focusing on the essentials: Pack Bag, Feed Face, Make Coffee, Don't Forget Anything. In the car right on schedule, arrived on schedule only to find that my ride, Nate, was going to be a few minutes late. No matter, still had half a french press to finish off with a little NPR.

Fast forward to Knoxville. 38 degrees (that's cold to me) but no longer raining. Same course as yesterday only backward with one small re-route. The rain had continued through much of the afternoon on Saturday and the climb-turned-run-up had become a terrifying decent complete with 8 inch deep ruts, hub-deep mud holes and mystery sink-holes. The entire course was still soaked and muddy and a creek had appeared on the lower section (we crossed it three times a lap), the descent had become a long, brutal climb... basically it was classic cross...

First race, first corner, off the front with the David Worth, same as yesterday. We joked a little bit after the second corner that it all seemed a little familiar (since we "accidentally" dropped the entire pack after the first 2 minutes in Saturdays race) but the jokes stopped as soon as we hit the barriers and he started on the attack. I was able to stick close but after the crazy decent I realized my rear tire was going flat. Rode it within running distance of the pits, ran to the pits and with Nate's help changed wheels (thank god for pit wheels) then realized we'd installed it wrong, undid it, re-tightened it (rear wheel on the SS is bolt on... not designed for high-speed changes) and got back on after losing 6 or 7 places. I started reeling riders in, first a solo, then a pack of three, then another solo and I could see third place. With two laps to go I passed third coming through the finish line and kept charging, trying to make contact with the leader (who was long gone). 2nd place.

Fifteen minutes later the C race started with the Single Speed starting 30 seconds behind the CX4's. There were 27 of them and almost immediately Jeremy and I started working our way through them. The decent came up pretty quick and we were in the thick of the 4's. Jeremy was obviously trying to put some riders between us and I really had to let it hang out to stay with him, clipping a rider in the process. I actually hit him pretty hard and it's a miracle we both stayed up. Jeremy and I quickly got some space out in front of the 4's and started the cat and mouse game. Up the long grassy climb I realized that he was pushing a 42x18 and my 39x18 was making life a lot easier. He was forced to really yard on the bike to keep it moving while I could ride right behind him by just standing up and gently rolling the pedals over. I developed a plan to just sit behind him, let him do the work, then attack on the long climb on the last lap, hoping I'd have saved enough in my legs to hold him off.

Then Jeremy went down. He got a little loose on an off-camber corner and fell, allowing me to take the lead. I kept it mellow, not wanting to attack then, hoping to make him work to catch me, thinking I could attack when he made contact on the climb. He caught me before the sketchy decent but by the bottom of the hill I had a gap. At the bottom of the decent the course starts a long slog up the hill. It's broken up by a couple of short, straight descents, but it starts with a false flat climb through think grass and mud. I stood up and turned the pedals over smoothly trying to give the illusion that I was pushing hard and attacking. It must have worked because my gap started growing. Up another climb, looked back, more space. By the time I hit the long climb I he was moving backward and I'd sort of saved a little bit for that part of the course so I kept at it. Crossed the line around 20 seconds up on the next finisher. Finally a Single Speed win, after most of my season. I probably have to re-cable my entire bike after all the muddy racing. At least I don't have deraileur cables...

Photos were taken once I got home under blue skies in my driveway. Conditions were a lot different three hours East in Knoxville as evidenced by the photo at the top. For more pictures of the race click here, the opening sequence is of the sketchy descent. Big thanks to the folks at Knoxiecross for putting on a great race and drawing some decent talent. I'm really hopeful that we can field larger classes at all the Tennessee cyclocross races next season. This year was apparently better than last year and I think if we can get the fields bigger and improve the spectator scene we'll really have a good thing going.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Knoxiecross #1

Complete mudfest in Knoxville today. Raining when I arrived, rained hard through the first four laps. Basically rode through an inch of water/mud the entire race. Got off to a good start, comfortably in second, looked back about halfway through the first lap and couldn't see the third place rider. It was like the pack vanished. The two of us worked together a little bit through two laps then he got away, simple as that. I was in survival mode in those conditions but the two of us stayed well out in front through our 6 laps.

Race director was running late so I had to bag the SS race so I could make the Titans playoff game. Such a close game, so sad. When you turn the ball over twice in the red zone, you're going to have a tough time winning. Simple as that. Tomorrow back to Knoxville for two races this time. Weather will be better, albeit a little colder. The mud will still probably be there but I won't mind. That's what the Single Speed is for.

Incidentally, for the first time since my first race I felt like my gear was a little tall. There was quite a bit of elevation gain and the tall grass coupled with the water and mud produced a lot of drag. Problem is as soon as I go with a smaller gear I'll probably just regret it so I think I'll just work on building up the quads and try to avoid the endless trap that is changing gears for different courses.

I was in too much of a rush to grab any pictures, but I'll tell you I spent about 20 minutes "pre-washing" all my riding gear in the shower before it went into the washing machine, if that gives any indication of the condition my bike and I were in. Lots of mud.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wheel


Built a wheel this evening. It's been at least 8 years since I've laced one up myself, but it's damn true and almost perfectly round. I probably don't need a new wheelset, there's technically nothing wrong with the wheelset that came on my bike (except that it's made of cheap components and was probably laced by a machine) but I'm working on them anyway. I just got to thinking the other day how nice the handbuilt wheels I used to ride were. I traded an original set of Mavic Crossmax for a handlaced set of XTR hubs laced to Mavic 517's with double butted DT spokes when I went to college. The XTR's were worth a lot less, but they rode so much better. When I tacoed the rear wheel, I laced it to a ceramic 217 and that was without a doubt the best wheel I have ever ridden.

Back to my story. So I was riding these crappy stock wheels the other day and they were creaking and the rear axle was warped and I decided it was time I re-acquainted myself with the art of wheel building. Surly track hubs, Mavic Open Sport rims (I'll use the Pros next time) Double butted black DT Spokes and stainless nipples. Linseed oil instead of spoke prep (we'll see how that works out) and about two hours of work (would have been less but I made a big mistake, which is why I started with the front instead of the rear) and I've got a hand-built wheel. I'll do the rear on Wednesday night, give them a ride Thursday morning and find out if they're worthy to race on. The old wheels will be pit wheels until I build some tubular wheels next fall, then I'll put them on a fixie conversion.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Columbia #2

Couldn't do it back to back. Came pretty close, maybe if I'd used my head a little more instead of just my legs things would have come out differently, but instead, I pulled the train, then they dropped me off at the station.

Start, first lap we were a pack of four, Edward Krieg (2nd place yesterday) Jeremy Nagoshiner, Tanner Hall (upgraded to CX3 for the occasion) and myself. I was at the back of the train, where I wanted to be, through most of the first lap. Near the end of the course there was a ravine/ditch that most riders were running through, but I found a way in pre-ride to jump over the entire thing. First time through, I came in a few bike lengths back from Jeremy in 3rd and jumped right next to him and immediately he dropped his chain on the remount (never happens to the single speeders!) and was off the back (see video). The lead group is now three, with Edward the only guy with gears leading.

video

We came through the start finish and Edward got a little gap on the pavement but Tanner and I closed it once we hit grass and the three of us stayed together for the next four laps. I was doing much of the work (by choice, more on that later) with Tanner following me and Edward chilling in 3rd. The pace wasn't blistering but I kept telling myself that there was no freakin' way I was going to pull those guys around the course at 85% all day then just ride away from them for the win. Final lap, all three of us are mellow on the pavement, we hit the grass and Tanner attacks. I'm still thinking win so I chase (more on this later) and Edward finally jumps around me on the final long winding grass climb and closes the gap. He pulled me up to Tanner so we were all three together at the last short downhill coming into two corners and a barrier and the finish. Every lap we'd hit this decent and spin out, so I knew, and had known for laps that if we still had Edward with us at that point, he'd win. Sure enough, he attacked, Tanner countered and spun out his gear and I basically just tried not to puke. That's how we finished, Edward 1st, Tanner 2nd, me 3rd.

So, to clear some things up, I'm not good at tactics. I don't have a lot of experience and I usually win going away, by myself or blow up trying. I knew full well that I was stupid to set the pace and lead with a guy with gears just sitting in, enjoying the ride, but short of stopping and risking an attack, I didn't know what to do. As for chasing Tanner down, I realize, in hindsight, that he's my teamate, and despite the fact that team tactics aren't extremely effective in cross, I should have let him go and forced Edward to chase when Tanner attacked. As it was I spent a third of a lap chasing him and pulling Edward before Edward finally pulled us in. I should have either made a plan with Tanner, or blocked then tagged along as Edward pulled him in, attacking when we made contact. Sorry Tanner. I kinda screwed us both, although, I think Edward probably could have pulled it off on the downhill if he'd stayed in contact regardless of what we did.

Single Speed race only Jeremy Chandler and I were racing. He was doing the Pro race simultaneously (SS and Pro start the same time, he rides his SS until the SS race is over then switches his bike in the pits) so basically I was racing against a guy who was racing against the pros on fresh legs. I let him go. Literally just started pedaling, Time Trialed the course, pushed every bit of everything I had out (like squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of its tube) hung out with Kevin Freeman and some of the other hardcore stragglers then went home. 3rd and 2nd place, not as impressive when judged against the number of entrants but what are you going to do?

This next weekend will be interesting, gigs and races, then Cross-a-Nooga and I'm done. Back to cross training and base mileage. This blog may get less exciting then, so I'll try to take some freakin' pictures (showed up only about an hour before the race so I didn't have much time to shoot).

The video of the first lap ravine situation shot by Ed Jarimillo (CX4 1st on Saturday, 2nd on Sunday) he sent me another vid but I can only put one on each blog. May include it later this week.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Columbia #1



First CX3 race today in Columbia. Start was long and paved, I spun like crazy to stay near the front, then some really late braking coming off the pavement in the first turn carried me to third, two more passes before the ultra tall barrier (2.5 foot thick tree, mandatory jump) and I was out front on the long greasy singletrack. I kept attacking and apparently the other front runners, knowing I was on a single speed and in my first CX3 race let me go assuming I'd "come back" or fade. Through 3 laps I kept getting further and further ahead, never really sure if I was riding a pace I could maintain for 50 minutes. With three laps to go I was done seeing other riders in my race. One of my goals for next season was to win a CX3 race, so I guess I'll have to set the bar a little higher for myself.

Had maybe 20 minutes to chill before the start of the Single Speed race. Only Four of us. One guy dropped out right away and the other guys were a Pro (Jeremy Chandler, #1 in TN points series for SS and Pro) and Tanner Hall (who's always much faster than me) and since I basically left it all out there on the CX3 race, and they're both much faster than me, I just watched them ride away. They made us do 5 laps, took almost 45 minutes, definitely the hardest Single Speed race as far as time and proximity to an exhausting effort. Camera battery died, wasn't able to take any good pictures, but hopefully someone will email me one and I can post it (note: Big thanks to Ed Jarimillo who got this shot of me finishing and won the CX4 race.)

Extremely surprised I did so well as much eating and drinking as I did over the last 2 weeks. I was 5 lbs overweight on Monday, but I didn't panic and try to mash in a bunch of riding. That always backfires. One moderate workout, a few jumps, lots of rest.

Two more races tomorrow! Friend's having a party tonight, need to go and hang and play some music. It'll be essential for me to get a stool to sit on, drink only water, and leave by 10 or 11pm. Of course, life is short and I like to party. We'll just have to see how well everyone else recovers.