Monday, September 27, 2010

Let "The Comeback" begin, or "Baby Leg Booksy" arrives on the scene

I'm back!  Not really, actually.  I'm slower than a first-time CX4, but I'm back to racing and that's what's important.  Here's the run-down:

Saturday I got up at 6 AM for our family yard sale.  Note-to-self:  instead of doing a yardsale, next time, pile all the stuff in the 4Runner, drop off at Goodwill, write off a number in the neighborhood of $700 then spend Saturday doing something really fun.  The benefit of the yard sale was some great family time with the in-laws, punctuated by an hour long picking session with my father-in-law.  I'm lucky to have a family of amazing musicians and it was painful to end the session, but I had a wedding gig with some friends, Hit & Run Bluegrass so I cut it short.  On the way I stopped into Bikers Choice to pick up a cable hanger and some bar tape and check out the new Specialized cross bikes they got in.  Wedding had no beer (seriously) so I stayed somewhat sober.  I'd yet to even ride the cross bike since the State Championships back in January, it still had mud caked on the wheels and there were some finishing touches needed before Sundays race so fast forward to 12:30am when I finally got in bed. 

10am departure for Beat the Freak.  I'd only been planning to hit up the 30 minute Single Speed race but in the course of conversation with Tanner I realized that life was short and only to be lived once (that we know of) and to make the drive and only race for 30 minutes was very un-Booksy.  So it was with low expectations I registered for both the 1/2 and SS races.  All the usual suspects were there and everyone seemed happy to see me though no one was buying my "baby leg" excuses.  The 3's race was well contested with Ed coming in 2nd and Nate coming in 3rd.

We kicked off the 1/2 race with 7 guys.  Matt and Tanner from Biker's Choice, Jeremy C, Ryan B, Ricky C and a guy I didn't know.  Guy I Didn't Know took the holeshot and absolutely hosed me down with mud 3 seconds into the race.  Here's that moment captured brilliantly:

He led the first lap, fishtailing around corners and basically behaving oddly until he went down on a right hander.  Here's a good look at him and me with the mud on the first lap.

I was with the leaders for the first lap, but without any top speed, power, or anything else really I quickly fell off the back.  I passed Ricky, but was passed by everyone else, slowly falling back until the finish, 6th of 7.

Single Speed race followed, Jeremy put the hurt on me, I finished second.  Results didn't matter to me, I was shocked/thrilled to find that my knee didn't bother me at all.  I've been on the bike less than a dozen times since February and still finished on the lead lap in the 1/2 race (11 laps, could have easily been lapped) and finished right where I thought I would in the SS race.  I'm about where I was last year at this time, relative to the competition.  I'm psyched, really.  Next race is the USGP in Louisville in a couple weeks.  I have no expectations for this season, just thankful that I can be out there amongst the boys getting muddy and trying to puke. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Here's Ned on my new bike.  Or one like it, on his way to the SSNC.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Got on the 29er for the first time since January.  It was glorious.  I felt great.  Afterward I stopped in the shop to talk about lowering the front end and I discovered a crack in the headtube.  I immediately ordered a new bike.  It's the same frame Ned won the SSWC with.  Here's a little video of him talking about it.

I left the bike at the shop, hoping they'll put some extra energy into it.  Photos will follow.  Headed out for a long one, see you later.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Race and Rides

First race of my "season" is this weekend.  I'm not even close to fit enough, my knees definitely can't handle it but I'm going, and I'm paying, and I'm racing.  Beat The Freak, put on by The Freak himself, Kevin Freeman, was the site of my first victory two years ago.  I was strung out on the front with my soon-to-be partner in crime Nate when the Freak started yelling at me to "break the rubber band."  I did.  I won.  I was psyched.  I've been waffling about racing this season, I know I don't have the fitness, not even close, but the leaves are changing and you only live once (that we know of) so I'm going on Sunday assuming I get the bike built.  It's down to the frame today, tonight I'll start the build and hopefully take it out on Friday to shake out the cobwebs.

The rest of the week should be a bunch of milestones as well.  Tonight I'm headed out for my first ride on the 29er since like January.  Wednesday I'm going for a road ride with my bandmate Pandolfi who's been dragging his feet about riding with me.  I intend to teach him a little something about riding more than 8 miles (his current longest ride).  Thursday night we're doing a full moon ride out at Lock 4.  Looks like there'll be a few of us out there.

Put the new saddle on the 29er and it feels terrible!!  I'll have to ride it a little, but I can see now why it was sold slightly used for $25.  There's some major cockpit changes coming to the Ute and the 29er.  I'm planning a couple straight bars with 30 degree sweeps in hopes I'll save my wrists.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Parts and New Legs

The legs are back.  Not exactly in full effect, I haven't felt sensations like I did yesterday since I was 14, but they're both turning pedals and I can stand (though not for long).  When I was 15 I had an emergency appendectomy that put me in a hospital bed for 8 days and kept me in bed at home for another 10.  I could only bench press 25 lbs when I finally got up.  My legs are a little like that now.  I can pedal, but there's surprisingly little power.  All in due time, I suppose. 

I still can't accept that my season is shot.  We were in Ohio yesterday, fall's arrived and all I could think about was cross season.  I think it's the smell of the leaves.  Instead of racing, I'll probably just attend, drink, yell and report for CXMagazine.  They've taken a liking to my amateur writing style, for some reason, and they started publishing some of my ideas.  Sunday they posted an article I wrote on training while traveling.  You can see it here.

In the meantime, I'll just secretly order new parts and hope they arrive when my wife's not looking.  On order already are a set of cheap townie baskets for my wife's bike.  It's our anniversary and now that they've built a grocery store around the block, it's time for me to call her bluff and remove one more roadblock between her and bicycle freedom.  I cannibalized the saddle from my Bianchi (see above) for the utility bike earlier this summer, so I took the opportunity to order a used version of the saddle I've had my eye on, the WTB Silverado.  Found it for $25 online, should arrive next week.  I've been riding WTB Saddles for years and I think this will be a good balance of size (I like them big) and weight (I need to lose a little weight off the top end of the SS).  To that end I'm also planning a new handlebar/stem combo for the SS, probably going with Bontrager Race Lite flat bar.  It's got a nice sweep that should ease the pressure on my wrists and it'll lower the front end, which is desperately needed.  I also crushed the end of my MonkeyLite carbon bars on the utility bike in my epic crash last month, so I've got my eye on the Surly Open Bar.  I've not ridden a bar like this so I'm dragging my feet, but I've got a hunch the carbon bar is unwrapping itself from the inside out and something's got to give. 

The Cross bike is about to get a full re-build with Avid Canti's, Cane Creek levers, new ring, new freewheel, new chain, new cables, etc... I have to rebuild the Surly hubs since I put them away wet after the State Championships (they've since seized up).  This will happen next week before I head down to Beat The Freak for a nice little pack-fill session in the SS race. 

Ordered a new helmet today, finally.  I've been using the same one for like 10+ years now.  Realized this morning the crash split the back open.  Ordered a Giro Athlon, it's about the same thing as what I had and it comes in Green, which is the only way my wife can pick me out of a pack.  Found it onsale for only $70, down from $130.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On Cyclocross

Amazing thing I found via the Facebook tonight. Eugene Christophe on Cyclocross. There's an entire article complete with photos from January, 1921.

This is of particular interest because this dude's on a single speed.  That's what I'm talking about. 

Check out the article, or if you're skeptical or lazy, check out this one paragraph.

-- Here, I shall answer that you preach to the choir. For a long time I have known that the general public's interest in cyclocross will attract more audience than the fifty passers-by and curious who attend our starts and finishes, that amateurs will definitely wish to participate in this easy and quite variable sport. The public will begin following the competitors; it will realize that the race is engaging and eventful, they will have a good time; the time will fly past. It is impossible that it will not develop a taste for it; it will follow other races. And, as well as people who like like to sometimes leave the road for quieter and less dusty tracks, also the amateur cyclist, enticed by cyclocross, will no longer content himself with riding up and down the monotonous and trafficky road; he will ride through the thicket as easily as the pedestrian, he will learn to handle his bike and he will see that he can pass untroubled everywhere a pedestrian ventures. He will understand that a bike should not necessarily follow the road as a train follows the railway. His admiration and love for the bicycle as a mode of locomotion, can only increase following such experiments.