Saturday, November 28, 2015

Always learning

Well, that was a new one.

I've ridden muddy courses and rainy courses, fast ones, dry ones. Courses that had huge water crossings over and over. This year at Frosty Cross, I rode a course that was half muddy slop, half frozen. Basically, you were slipping and sliding all over the course, but for different reasons.

In the flat, wide-open eastern part of the course, it was soft and muddy. It was pretty easy to send mud flying there. On the west part of the course, where the trees live, you were most likely sliding because the ground was frozen and slick. And it changed throughout the race, too. The frozen stuff only got worse, and the muddy stuff ... well, the muddy stuff started to freeze, too.

Oh, and that sand pit was pretty fun.

As far as the racing, it was a typical day for me. I'm not terribly fast, and I don't spend much time (OK, any time) on late-season 'cross stuff. I just ride as much as I can and go race. So there's a disadvantage there, and I could probably fix that. (Take a note and remind me about this next fall, please.)

I had a bit of excitement about two-thirds of the way through, when I hit an ice off-camber right-hander juuuuuust wrong and slid out. I have a good-sized strawberry on my right hip and a nice, long scrape on my right forearm. Stupid ice.

And throughout the race my cleats were so jammed up with ice and dirt that I kicked out of my pedals probably a half-dozen times. That was super cool.

So, really, I can't say much about my racing. That said, I still had fun. I enjoy the challenge. And now I'm done for the year. My first race was at the end of February — CIRREM, for which I am again registered — and I ended it tonight. Oof. That's a long season. And February is only three months away.

Terrible planning.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Shop around

I went to the Furniture Mart on the day after Thanksgiving one year. I think it was because I had to work that night, and I saw a huge pile of sales and super-cheap movies or something dumb. I'll save you the scary story, but just know this: Don't go to the Furniture Mart today. Or, rather, go if you want to see crazy people. But don't go because there's a nice deal. There are nice deals for the next month.

What I might do, actually, is head uptown (we're in Algona) and check out the used record store here. Maybe grab a cup of coffee. And that's about it. I'll probably ride my bike at some point. Well, maybe. It was icy here yesterday, so who knows what the roads will look like.

And then it's Frosty Cross tomorrow. Much work has gone into this race by the Bike Central guys. How much? They got a foot of snow last weekend. Here's what the course looked like on Tuesday.

Yes, they cleared the course in order to get some sunshine on it. Amazing. It's going to be chilly, but I'm psyched to get out there and try to make my bike go fast. It's always awesome racing when the crew has spent tons and tons of time making it happen. You generally end up with a pretty great race.

Plus, I think they have ice cream. And beer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

One down, one to go

Matt Steele took this photo. The rest are here

So. We've reached the end of November. I'd say it's time for a nice, long break, but I feel like most of September and October were the long break. At this point, I'm ready to get moving toward next season. Or ready to prepare for moving forward or something.

I raced the Nebraska State Championship on Saturday, which was something more like an obligation than any hope of contending for ... well, anything. I mean, I rode OK and felt reasonably strong, but I knew going in I wasn't going to light the world on fire. There were a couple of guys I should have been closer to at the finish, but my back didn't explode and I didn't impale myself on a post. I feel good about those things. Mostly, I kind of feel like I should turn up for the state championship, because there's no reason I shouldn't.

Also, the weather was fine and the course, while heavy as hell to begin with, got fast toward the end.

Next up, provided the weather doesn't take a complete dive, is Frosty Cross. Again, I know full well I'm off the podium. But the guys at Bike Central in Le Mars hold a good race, and I'll always been a fan of a good race. And there's this:

Oh. It's 260 feet long. And it looks kind of awesome and kind of awful. Again, provided the weather doesn't take a huge dive, I'll report first-hand on Sunday.

And after that, all of the Peppermint Stick ice cream I can eat — for at least a day.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Well, it's gonna snow. It's gonna snow later today and into tonight and maybe — maaaaaaybe — up to six inches. That's not abnormal. It's gonna be cold tomorrow morning, too.

So, basically, the course for tomorrow's Nebraska CX championship will be wet, then it will be snowy, and then it will be frozen.

At this point in November, I'm probably as light as I've been in a few months. And my back feels good. And I'm about as fit as I've been in a few months, too.

And I'm going to wait a long as possible before pushing the "register" button. Because, really, look at those first two paragraphs again. That looks shitty. Also, I'll probably finish last. This isn't because of lack of confidence or fitness or anything. I just know who's on the list and how fast they are. I haven't beaten any of them this year. So there's not much available for me in the way of potential reward.

Well, other than tough-guy points. And those cannot be cashed in for much of anything. Maybe Instagram cred or something.

Anyway, is that worth freezing my ass off, and then trying to change clothes in order to not freeze (for real) and then go to the car wash or something to salvage my bike?

Eh, maybe. I'll decide for sure by 5:59 p.m.

Friday, November 13, 2015

No rain

I've been keeping an eye on the weather lately, not because it's going to be winter soon (duh), but because I'm a fair-weather racer. I want nothing to do with a muddy shit-show, because I'll spend two hours cleaning my bike after a 60-minute race.

Or, basically, I'm lazy. I admit it and I'm fine with it.

Now ... watching a muddy shit-show? Yep. This is Mark's video from 2005. I was mostly a runner then, and I was out earlier this day when the weather turned. It was cold and windy and wet. And I remember thinking, "Well, sucks to be those guys."

Give the video a watch and you'll agree right away. It probably did suck to be those guys, but it's pretty fun to watch.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Victory in the effort, maybe?

Getting on race time again, somehow. Nebraska championships next week, Frosty Cross after that.


Do I feel race-ready? No idea. But I'm down a few pounds, I feel strong and I'm pretty fit. Cool. So I guess I'm not unprepared. But I'll admit that I've enjoyed getting ready to race — as in making sure I'm riding consistently and being non-embarrassing for my team — more than I will the race.

And I think that's what I've been enjoying during this autumn of not racing much. Mostly I like riding my bike. Lots, if possible. And hard, from time to time. Basically, I know I need to ride and I know I need to be in decent shape. Good enough. It's not an easy thing to do, especially when it's dark and cold and super-dumb outside. We have good, dark beers available now and I love those.

I think one of my current aversions to racing is due to the local peloton. It is ridiculous. Even on top of my game — as good as I can get — I'm not in the top 10. Maybe not even in the top 15 or 20. That's bonkers. It's rough signing up for a race knowing you're going to get destroyed, no matter what you do.

And yet ... and yet I'm still out there trying. What's the deal about insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Time capsule

One of the really good things about having a blog for ... wait, 10 YEARS? ... is that you can look back into the past pretty easily. Wondering what you were doing in March 2010? (Very little.) October 2007? (The same.)

Along with contemplating what you've been doing with your life, it's good for getting a look at weather patterns. For example: When is it going to snow?

2006 - Nov. 26
2007 - Nov. 21
2008 - Nov. 22
2009 - Oct. 10 (then for real Dec. 6)
2010 - Dec. 13
2011 - Dec. 4
2012 - Nov. 26
2013 - Nov. 20
2014 - Nov. 24 (I think)

As you can see, time is running short. I ended up in summer kit for portions of yesterday's ride, which was nice. But it's looking more and more like Nov. 21-22 — Nebraska state cyclocross weekend — is going to be messy. Reasonably recent history puts the window there, and the long-term forecast (which is a lot of guessing at this point) says 40s and wet.


Until then, get greedy, people. Get your miles in. It will be less nice soon.