Sunday, November 28, 2010


Alabama.  What do you think of when you think of Alabama?  I think of college football.  After today I also think of kick ass cyclocross races.  This morning Jeremy and I headed down to the 6th race of the Bamacross series, the first of two consecutive weekends at Avondale Park.  The park is near downtown and as a result, there were a bunch of spectators including an overzealous girl that stopped Jeremy and I mid-pre-ride to chastise us for being on the course during the masters/womens race (In our defense, we got off course whenever anyone came within a few seconds of catching us).  Instead of arguing, I simply rode away, prompting her to inform me that she would make it her personal mission to "heckle" us the "entire race."  Incidentally, I had to remind her on the second lap, but once prompted, she and her friends gladly obliged.

The course was layed out with a lot of turns, some grassy power sections, lot's of braking/accelerating, two tough run-ups back-to-back and a lot of hidden rocks/roots.  Very fun, wish they'd had a single speed race to occupy my time while Jeremy raced, but you can't have it all.

Anyway, by the time the Pro 1/2/3 (everyone at once) race went off, the sun was shining and temperatures hovered around 60 degrees.  30 of us started, I worked up to the top 10 by the time we hit the brutal, 30+ step, stone run-up.  A few guys tried to cheat by skipping the steps and running beside them so I used my shouldered bike as a blocking device and kept the crowd at bay.  Over the top of the second run-up I was in 6th, made it up to 5th, dropped a place and settled in on Troy's wheel.  Troy is 47 and tough as hell.  He doesn't turn as well as I do, but he's a lot stronger/smarter than me so I was content to sit in.  A college kid I'd met pre-race caught and passed us and the 3 of us stayed together, vying for 4th place for a couple laps.  Troy got a gap, then the kid got a little gap but I closed it down in the final corners.  I calculated my move and made it but the kid shut the door, (accidentally) then apologized, but it was too late and I didn't have anything left for the sprint.  6th place, just off the podium.  I felt great, didn't fade, didn't let up, didn't make my move for the podium stick but had a really good race, loved the course and had a lot of fun. 

I think the legs are back-ish, three weeks until the next races, two points races back-to-back on the 18th and 19th.

I'll try to post up a picture or two.

Best thing I've seen all week, this is for the Cat 4 riders, time to upgrade, ladies...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First (half) lap

Took a few quick laps around the roughed out track.  Looks like my distances between rollers is right, some are a little tall, all of them need to be wider and my 180 berm is way too tight.  All these things can be fixed.

Headed for Bamacross in Birmingham first thing in the morning.  No Single Speed race (why?) but I'll get an hour in on the Pro 1/2 race.  Monday will be a big dig day on the pump track.  More to come.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pump Track day 2

Got out this morning before the big meal and dug for another couple hours, worked on stump removal and moved the compost heap (track runs right through it).  Built up a pretty substantial berm and set the skeleton of three rollers.  Actually pretty fun pushing dirt around now that I'm developing a technique, wouldn't be surprised if I end up with an entire pump track/dirt jump-filled yard.  Sarah took a shot of me out in the yard, this will be the view from the kitchen.  The black stuff left of the basketball hoop is compost (that's what a year of veggies, grass clippings and leaves looks like), the garden goes there.

about a half hour later I'd dug the first three rollers and finished piling up the first berm.  Here's what it looked like from ground level.

Obviously there's a lot of organic material in there, some of it I'm pulling out as I go, some of it will die off and some of it I'll regret leaving in there, but I'm developing new shoveling/scraping techniques that should help get more of the grass out with less effort.  Essential to the process will be getting the bike out and seeing how the spacing feels.  I can't afford this:

(The Specialized P24, 24" cruiser BMX.  My ideal ride for backyard pump/dirt jump.  Only $550.  If anyone out there... never mind, I'll get it myself.  Sick though, right?)

But I can put knobbies back on my utility bike and start to break in the track, test out the distances between rollers and corner radius'.  I've already revised my design and I expect that to continue to happen over and over and over again until eternity.

Here's a video,

On a side note, the pictures coming out of CO and MT right now have got me literally weeping. Can't wait until Ski Tour (3 months!) this winter. Hoping to hit Big Sky, Jackson, the Cottonwood canyons, Wolf Creek, and my old DMR. I'm getting ahead of myself but I can't help it.  I need another shot at The Big.  Ed, you listening?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pump Track day 1

Got it in my mind that I wanted to build a pump track.  We weren't really using our yard anyway, and I had already resolved to turn a bunch of it into a garden, so it's no sacrifice to dig up the rest of it.  Fortunately my wife is supportive of nearly all of my endeavors and didn't even bat an eye when I told her I wanted to dig up the yard.  After a little less than 2 hours, I have an initial layout and some piles of dirt.

I've got a lot of digging left to do.  Initial layout has a straight away, into an s-turn, a 180 and a left hander before another 180 brings you around to the straightaway.  I've also got a dirt jump line planned that will start in the front yard, transition off the 3 foot drop near my AC unit and continue across the back of the yard.  Not really sure how the neighbor ladies are going to take this turn of events, but until they buy my yard, I don't think they really have any say in the matter.  It will be interesting to see what kind of dirt I've got underneath the grass...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cross The Way: Murfreesboro

Let me tell you a little about the last 24 hours.

Band rolled into Atlanta last night and played to a full house at the Variety.  Full moon always makes me feel funny, but that was cured by some pre-gig brews, followed by a couple of tall Franziskaners and some lively conversation at Porters post gig in celebration of a most excellent tour.  Crawled into bed around 2:30am, alarm sounded at 8 and after rounding up the band, we headed north.  The band dropped me with all my band-type gear and Sarah rolled up with all my bike related gear just as they were about to pull away.

30 minutes later we started the Pro1/2 race.  There was 10 of us, I was in about 4th heading through the first two corners.  Over the barriers someone went down.  All I saw was a cluster of dudes and a bike in front of me, so I rode over it and caught on to Troy before the singletrack.  I thought it might be the selection move, but neither Troy nor I wanted to force the issue so early, so I followed him until he bobbled, then he followed me until I clipped my left foot going over the second set of barriers (slammed my foot, really, might lose my entire big toenail).  I saved myself the indignity of a crash by planting the bike, but as soon as I hopped on it was clear my front wheel hadn't faired so well.  You can actually see it's not straight in this shot.

I jumped off, pulled off the wheel and started slamming it on the ground guerilla-style until it was fairly straight.  After another 1/4 lap, I realized my front tire was going flat, so I slowly glided around the course begging for a wheel until Eric Boerman yelled to meet him in the pits.  With a new wheel I got to work, but quickly saw that my race was over.  After another lap or two I started to feel good and decided to stay on course regardless of it's futility.  I think I finished 8th.

Single Speed started 20 minutes later, just enough time to borrow a tubular wheel from Nate.  I was second going into the barriers and the guy in first stopped for a beer handup along with half the field.  I took off into the woods, Jeremy C caught on and we started to distance ourselves from the recreational drinkers.  I've raced Jeremy a lot and I know he's a great all around rider, usually stronger than me with more endurance, but I can move the bike around a little better than he can, so he was at a serious disadvantage on the narrow, windy course.  I had a few seconds on him at the end of the first lap, which he shut down on the long finish straight, but after the singletrack the gap was up again and it only grew from there.  I'd let too much air out of Nate's front tire, so I was forced to ride safer than I would have liked but it didn't matter.

Perfect course for a guy like me.  Nonstop turns, no climbs, lots of dirt.  Would have loved the chance to see how the Pro1/2 race unfolded with me in it.  Hoping to head to Birmingham next weekend.  Did I mention it was almost 70 degrees?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Five Fingers

Wearing the Five Fingers this week, lots of funny looks.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One last gasp

I read a book, Off The Deep End, about a 44 year old trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the 100 meter freestyle.  He's crazy.  But it inspired me to try to get my act together enough to salvage the season.  I've got 4 races spread over 3 weekends planned before the Holidays.  After that there's one weekend in Knoxville in January and one in February, but they'll both be a hassle logistically and they start to get dangerously close to ski season. 

At any rate, I've got a plan and I plan to use it.