Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wisconsin State Cyclocross Championship

We are not heroes. So I don't give the following details to make you think we are tough, hardcore, or even "dedicated to the sport." These are simply the details. The observed temperature for the start of our race on Saturday was 16 with a "feels like" temp of 4. It was cold. Very cold. Several things got me to the WI state championship race though.

First, it was my last race of the year. Meaning, I probably won't see some of the folks I see at cx races for a while. Second, I was really curious about the course at Dretzka Park (it is anew venue). Third, it was only 15 minutes from my front door.

Thankfully, Mike, Heidi, and the Magnus crew set up a two-tent and trailer heated wonderland. Sure, you could still see your breath, but it made warming up and hanging out actually possible. I am very thankful for that tent. Even with that tent I ended up with some frost bite from the day. The tips of a few fingers are still numb. It was cold. It was beer-turning-to-ice-in-the-spout-of-the-bottle-while-you-drink-it cold.

I've got clothes that allow me to ride outside quite comfortably at such temperatures, but cx is different than just riding. In cx, feeling the bike is very important because of all the technical handling. I don't know of a glove that gives the feel needed for cx that can keep hands warm in such temps. Other than my hands I was good though. I had a nice warm-up in the tent. And, this course suited me and I think it was well thought out.

It had long straights, a good hill climb, off camber hill turns, a longish sandpit, well-thought out barrier placement, and perhaps the best thing that a lot of course designers forget--it had about 6 back to back short 180 turns. These turns were technically difficult and more importantly, they offered a place to catch your breath so you could really lay it out the rest of the course. Combine all that with frozen grass and you got a fun course on your hands.

I had a great start and was next to Tyson in the first sweeping turn. I conceded the first corner to him because I knew he was going to win the race. I stayed on his wheel for a bit, than got passed by Al and Angry Andy. I slid out in a corner and gave up some time to them but could still see them. Eventually, Mark passed me, but I worked back up to Andy. We wen't back and  forth for a while. We both had different strengths on the course. It was lots of fun. Then Andy, somehow, found moisture on the course. He got dirt in his cleat and it froze solid. He couldn't clip in anymore. I think I could have gotten him anyway, but after that he didn't have a chance. That stunk because we were having fun going back and forth.

I finished 4th in our race and apparently 3rd for the 35+ 1,2s. Coming in 3rd for my category brought me one of the more unusual prize packs I have received.

That's a Timex woman's watch, a pack of blister pads, embrocation (my second this year and enough for 4 years), and a non-resealable bag of Gatorade mix that makes 6 gallons of drink. I love it when bike shops clean out their inventory and it becomes prizes. If anybody wants the watch or the embro, let me know. I actually will get some blisters when I start trail running in the spring, and I'll find a way to store the drink mix.

So, the season is done. My consistent upper end mediocrity secured a 3rd place finish for the overall series. that wasn't a goal, just nice happenstance. I felt better this year than I thought I was going to. I got on the podium, had 5 top 5 finishes, and 9 top 9 finishes. 

Thanks for reading about the season. It's time for fat bikes and skis!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kringle Booty 2013

Kringle Cross takes place at Hales Corners park. The course doesn't change much, but they seem to add more course on every year. The crazy thing about this year's race was the high 50's temp, and 1.20 inches of rain we got that day. Oh yeah, and the tornado warnings. The races still happened though, which made for the muddiest wettest race I have ever done.

Prior to the race I had been sick with a nasty cold for almost two weeks. (I'm just now getting it out of my system altogether almost a month after it started.) I felt pretty good though, had the bikes dialed in (including fresh metallic pads on the disc bike), and liked my chances in the mud. At the start I pushed forward too much and the rear wheel spun in the mud. I picked a good line though and was 4th wheel going into the first corner.

After a 1/4 lap it was Chad, Al, and me with a little gap. Al slid out in a corner and I let him get up and back bike on his bike before we headed up the greasy hill. It didn't take long for him to get back on Chad's wheel and pass him, but I was slower on the hill. And that was it. The rest of race we stayed in that order.

At one point, Andy, who was behind me 10-20 seconds said I could ease up because he wasn't going to catch me. So the last lap I did back off a little, only to see that with a 1/4 lap left Andy was trying to catch me! I had to hustle a bit for the last 200 meters just to make sure he wasn't close enough to be in contention.

Check Out Eric's view of the race.

Booty Cross

This was my first time making it to Madison for this race. And true to Wisconsin weather, it was a 180 from the previous week. Windchill had us in the low teens for temp and the ground was frozen. Accept where the sun was beating down and the previous races made the corners nice and greasy. I don't really know of anyone that has this course as their favorite, but I know more than a handful who don't like it. Mainly because a giant hill is the center feature and we went up it 4 times per lap. I don't think the hill is really what makes it hard for people though. It is the technical difficulty of the race. There is very little flow in the course. Almost none really. So riders can't really get faster with each lap as they learn the course. If I do this race again, it will be to support the team (Magnus) for putting the race together.

That being said., I had a horrible start and let a bunch of guys get in front of me before the first climb. I took a cruddy line that was clear of people and passed about 4 guys on the first climb. I did a lot of work and was just off the front 5 when we got to the short, nearly vertical, frozen dirt run-up. I took a reeeeaally bad line up it and almost fell 3 times while numerous guys passed me. I worked hard to get in front of them again our 4th time up the hill. Then, after Eric slid out in a corner, I worked up to 4th but by then the front 3 had a good gap.

I got passed by one guy the second lap (he took 2nd eventually) and then stayed in 5th the rest of the race. I did go down once when I over corrected a turn and let Eric back on my wheel. I thought for sure he was going to pass me the second last lap, but I was able to hold him off. Check out his video below of the first and last laps. You can see me just out of reach for him the whole last lap.

State is the last race on the agenda for me. It's a week and half away and looks like it may be in the 30's with snow on the ground. Should be fun, we have had a wonderful array of cross weather in WI this year!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Washington Park and Estabrook

Work has been busy and this week our household has been in the trenches battling a cold, so the race reports haven't been a top priority. I find myself with a bit of time between appointments so I'll fill you in on the haps.

Two weeks ago was Washington Park. It 's the costume race. I love the course. I never race well there. This year was no exception, but it was still a lot of fun. Especially because I dressed up as Maciej.
Thanks to Joe Curtes for the photos
I could blame the broken spoke hitting my rotor or my poor diet choices for the cramps, but I think it was the twins on my back.

As an aside, I think the Velo Trocadaro guys are running the state champs too. If you guys haven't got a course yet, do it at Washington Park, but backwards. That would be a super hard course, even without babies strapped to my back.

Last week was Estabrook, and due to some construction the promoters were forced to make some course changes. The changes were awesome! The course had better flow and more variety. For this race I made sure to actually eat, and eat better. I even warmed up and did some course recon with different tire set-ups (like a real bike racer!).

I felt and raced probably the best I have all year. No mechanicals, no cramps, and no spending the whole race in no-man's land. I was in the mix and kept the pace going for most the race. After the first lap I lost two spots but throughout the race I caught three more guys.

Mike dangled in front of me the whole race. With a couple of laps left I started to make up some time on him but then two guys wiped out on the steep climb right in front of me. Mike was gone. I got a hard fought 6th place.

There are things I could have done better and I think I am just now coming into my fitness (or maybe Jake is right, I should be warming up to race). We will see how this cold fares this Saturday. 

As for Clutch Corner, no one got the disc as Washington Park because I forgot about it. I mean, I forgot totally about the boombox being there. Luckily, the park is about 5 minutes from my place so I was able to recover it (this is also why I lock it to a tree). At Estabrook the CD went to Travis again because he led a Junior around for the whole race and then out sprinted him for the win (this isn't your normal junior). Honorable mention goes to Alex who somehow put his hand into his front wheel and cut his palm, but rode the rest of the race strong.

Washington Park
  1. (Notes From The Trial Of) La Curandera:  Blast Tyrant
  2. Smoke Banshee: Pure Rock Fury
  3. Profits Of Doom: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  4. Ghost: Blast Tyrant
  5. You Can't Stop Progress: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  6. Profits Of Doom               : Blast Tyrant
  7. Big News II: Clutch
  8. 10001110101: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  9. Wishbone: The Elephant Riders
  10. Crackerjack:  The Elephant Riders
  11. King Of Arizona: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  12. Army Of Bono: Blast Tyrant
  13. When Vegans Attack: From Beale St. To Oblivion
  14. Impetus: Live At The Googolplex
  15. Bottoms Up, Socrates: Pitchfork & Lost Needles
  16. Eight Times Over Miss October: The Elephant Riders
  17. Subtle Hustle: Blast Tyrant
  18. Animal Farm: Clutch
  19. Earthworm: Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes & Undeniable Truths
  20. 12 Oz. Epilogue: Live At The Googolplex
  21. Who Wants To Rock?: Live At The Googolplex

  1. Texan Book Of The Dead: Full Fathom Five
  2. Ship Of Gold: The Elephant Riders
  3. A Shogun Named Marcus:  Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes & Undeniable Truths
  4. 10001110101: Full Fathom Five
  5. Rock & Roll Outlaw: Clutch
  6. Opossum Minister: From Beale St. To Oblivion
  7. Cypress Grove: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  8. Escape From The Prison Planet: Live At The Googolplex
  9. The Dragonfly: Full Fathom Five
  10. Big News II: Live At The Googolplex
  11. Black Umbrella: From Beale St. To Oblivion
  12. Spacegrass (Live): Pure Rock Fury
  13. One Eye Dollar: From Beale St. To Oblivion
  14. Tim Sult Vs. The Greys: Clutch
  15. Struck Down: Strange Cousins From The West
  16. Land Of Pleasant Living: Robot Hive / Exodus
  17. Ship of Gold (West Virginia): Slow Hole to China: Rare & Rereleased

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sun Prairie Wipe Out and Doyne Park Cross

I doubled up again last weekend; Sun Prairie on Saturday and Doyne Park on Sunday. The Sun Prairie course is awesome and hard. It’s a combination of punchy hills and long straightaways. Unfortunately, it was a disappointing race for me. It wasn’t great from the start. You see, I’ve grown accustom to starting in the front row, especially when the hole shot is dicey. Sun Prairie had a dicey hole shot, and no call-ups. There were guys lined up 5 minutes early. Guys I was leery about be behind on the warm-up lap. I started second row on the outside, knowing that I was not going to be very aggressive at the start.

I was probably 15th at the hole and passed a few guys right after. And as I had figured, two guys went down in front of me within 200 meters. I got around those guys and passed a few more. Jake went around me with his freakish Jake speed and by the time we hit the hill I was 5th or 6th. After battling back and forth with a few guys for a couple of laps I was setting up for some speed around a 180 corner into a bunny-hop barrier and got too wide into some deep leaves. I got that icy slide feeling and knew I was going down. I hit the ground hard, got up, started going and realized my rear derailleur hanger was bent. I pulled off the course to check it out as about 10 more guys went by. I just about pulled the plug, but figured I could hobble to the pit and get my other bike.

After I got my pit bike and started at it again I realized that I had tweaked my wrist and my back when I went down. Thinking about how I had prepaid for Sunday’s race and my complete lack of power, I pulled out of the race. I wasn’t real happy about it, but it was the smart thing to do.

Sunday, there was a mix of sun and drizzle. The course was close to my house so I had plenty of time to get there after work. My wrist felt much better but my back wasn’t great. Even with that,I had a much better attitude than on Saturday. I was there to have fun, do the best I could, and actually hang around after the race this time.

The Doyne course was a lot of fun. Long straightaways, fast corners, and good use of a hill that we went up 3 separate times. Doyne also had call-ups. Looks like I was starting in the front row!
I had a decent start and Jake was on my wheel. I knew that he had to get around me and a few other guys to really contend with Joe and Tyson, so I slowed down and told him to pass me before we got into a 180 turn that headed into the hill. Jake took off and did his thing, but I also let Mike get about 5 seconds on me in the process.

I was trying to get back onto to Mike’s wheel. It even seemed like he was waiting for me. Then JW came around me. I couldn’t match him because I was already working to catch Mike. JW bridged to Mike and Mike was able to hang onto JW’s wheel and get pulled about 20 seconds ahead of me. And that is how it stayed for the rest of the race. I was out in no man’s land. No one catching me and occasionally I would come up on a guy who had a mechanical. I started to reel Mike in a bit, but it was lost cause.

I really had fun and my back was fine as long as I was in my drops. Thankfully, it was a great drop course. I rolled in 8th. Not great, but not bad considering the field. The biggest bonus is that I didn’t lay it down at all. Clean kit club, yeah!

As Chris N. was leaving and we were harassing each other about our less than stellar performances, I said that I come for the people and stay for the bike racing. And that's true, it's the people I come out see that makes it worth while, the racing is a bonus. When I get that order right my attitude about what happens on the course is where it should be. Although, now that I have accumulated all this race-into-shape fitness, I should probably taper to really peak. How does one taper from 3 hours a week of exercise? Just do nothing?

Clutch Corner only appeared on Sunday, but it was in a sweet spot. This week the CD is awarded to Mike C! Here is the playlist:

  1. Passive Restraints (Demo Version): Pitchfork & Lost Needles
  2. Hoodoo Operator:  Slow Hole to China: Rare & Rereleased
  3. Rats: Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes & Undeniable Truths
  4. (In The Wake Of) The Swollen Goat: Blast Tyrant
  5. Minotaur: Strange Cousins From The West
  6. Mr Freedom: Earth Rocker
  7. Brazenhead: Pure Rock Fury
  8. 10,000 Witnesses: Robot Hive / Exodus
  9. The Bakerton Group - 1906 - Great Bakertons:  Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  10. Worm Drink: Blast Tyrant
  11. Brazenhead: Live At The Googolplex
  12. Small Upsetters: Robot Hive / Exodus
  13. Big News I: Clutch
  14. Far Country: Pitchfork & Lost Needles
  15. Basket of Eggs: Jam Room
  16. Escape From The Prison Planet: Clutch
  17. Power Player: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  18. King of Arizona: Slow Hole to China: Rare & Rereleased

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bring the Noyes Cross! Day 1 and 2

I nearly doubled my exercise for the week by competing in not one, but two races, this weekend! MWI knows how to put a cross course together (although their choice of music is what I would call far from cx-like, unless it was meant to heckle riders, since I heard it described as lame 90's alternative/Goo Goo Dolls Pandora station). The course was great though, well put together on a Milwaukee County golf course, which is good because golf courses normally drain fast, and we got a lot of rain this week.

Day 1
After two days of on and off rain, Saturday was mostly dry and somewhat sunny. That is until we lined up. As we waited for the whistle to blow the thunder began. We were going to get wet.

The whistle blew and despite some rubbin' is racing with Mike, I got off the line well. I was third wheel and feeling pretty good for the first quarter of the lap until a tight turn on the top of a green berm with a 10 foot slope fall away came up and I leaned too much in the greasy worn track. I slid out hard and my bike slid down the slope. I knew from the sound that my shifter busted from the slide-out, and I hoped that was the worst of it since Chris did his best to avoid my bike but still hit it pretty hard. I'll come back to that. I brought my other bike and it was in the pit, so I shouldered my crippled bike and started running.

As I ran, the rest of my field passed me, then the 45+ guys passed me, then the 55+guys passed me. About 20 seconds after I had seen the last 55+ guy I got the pit. The SRAM neutral support guy jogged toward me. I said I broke my shifter and as he was grabbing a SRAM bike, I said I had one but asked if he could look at the shifter. I hopped on my pit bike and was off.

Now, I could have been crushed by what happened but I figured I needed the fitness so I started to chase hard. I reeled in the 55+ guys in a about a lap. Then the storm hit. Driving rain and high winds. The course got slick and soggy. I started pulling in the 45+ guys. Then I started to work my way into the 35+ field. I never let up my chase, to me everyone was in my race. I got some good practice passing in corners and dropping guys. In the end I took 9th. I'm happy with that. Best of all, SRAM neutral support replaced my shifter while I raced. That's right, brand new and ready to rock! SRAM performs great and the company supports local racing, you can't beat that!

(I'll cover Clutch Corner at the end)

Day 2
Day two was Sunday, but because the race was so close I could make it after work. It had rained all night but Sunday was sunny and by the time we raced, the course was tacking up. MWI switched the course up a bit and lengthened it. Just enough change to make it seem like a new course. We had a small field, 10 I think, and we were missing some speed, but Maciej made this one after watching his boys on Saturday.

Despite being sore from the high speed slide-out the day before I had a good start again but right away I didn't feel it. I had a weird headache and anywhere my helmet touched my head it throbbed.

I gave chase to Tyson and Maciej but they accelerated out of an uphill corner faster then I could. That's when Alan went around me. I stuck to him for a bit, but didn't have it. For a moment I relaxed. Then I realized that Eric was closing fast. By the end of the first lap it was my mission to hold Eric off and hope that Alan would pop. Then the 45+ leaders caught me and I gave chase for a bit, but just like earlier I couldn't match it. Alan, Eric, and I stayed in about the same places for the whole race with just a bit of yo-yoing. The last lap Eric made a charge with Paul on his wheel. I wasn't going to let it happen. I heard Eric go down in a corner behind me with 3/4 of a lap to go, but Paul was really trying to bridge. So I tried to be a rabbit for Paul. The last paved uphill I hit harder than I had all race to give Paul some training motivation, there wasn't much left after that and I rolled through in 4th place.
This video is by Eric Brandt (the guy chasing me). Follow this video to his YouTube channel to see all the races this year. 

As for Clutch corner, there was concern after the stormy race on Saturday about the boombox. It had standing water in the CD compartment and wasn't working. But it dried out overnight and worked on Sunday!

I awarded Saturday's CD to myself, and Sunday's CD went to Travis again because he got faster and faster in the P,1,2 race and almost caught the 4-6th group.

The playlist is as follows:
Day 1
  1. Motherless Child: Strange Cousins From The West
  2. Day of the Jackalope:  Slow Hole to China: Rare & Rereleased
  3. Pigtown Blues:  Pigtown Blues – Single
  4. Four Lords (And One More):  Slow Hole to China: Rare & Rereleased
  5. Burning Beard: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  6. Never Be Moved: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  7. Red Horse Rainbow:  Pure Rock Fury
  8. BIG News I & II:  Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  9. Let A Poor Man Be:  Strange Cousins From The West
  10. 50,000 Unstoppable Watts: Strange Cousins From The West
  11. Pure Rock Fury: Live At The Googolplex
  12. The Mob Goes Wild: Full Fathom Five
  13. Never Be Moved:  Robot Hive / Exodus
  14. Mice And Gods: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  15. Impetus:  Impetus – EP
  16. Promoter (Of Earthbound Causes): Blast Tyrant
  17. Texan Book Of The Dead: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  18. Promoter (Of Earthbound Causes):  Full Fathom Five
  19. Tripping The Alarm: Robot Hive / Exodus

Day 2
  1. Sleestak Lightning:  Strange Cousins From The West
  2. Walking In The Great Shining Path Of Monster Trucks: Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes & Undeniable Truths  
  3. Electric Worry:   From Beale St. To Oblivion
  4. 10001110101: Robot Hive / Exodus
  5. Willie Nelson: Slow Hole to China: Rare & Rereleased
  6. Burning Beard: Robot Hive / Exodus
  7. Arcadia Clutch:  Pitchfork & Lost Needles
  8. The Incomparable Mr. Flannery:  Robot Hive / Exodus
  9. High Caliber Consecrator: Impetus – EP
  10. Cypress Grove:  Full Fathom Five
  11. Cyborg Bette: Earth Rocker
  12. Effigy:  Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes & Undeniable Truths
  13. Oregon:  Slow Hole to China: Rare & Rereleased
  14. Crucial Velocity:  Earth Rocker
  15. Pure Rock Fury:  Pure Rock Fury
  16. The House That Peterbilt: Clutch
  17. Nickel Dime: Slow Hole to China: Rare & Rereleased
  18. Basket Of Eggs: Heard It All Before - Live At The Hifi Bar
  19. Passive Restraints (Demo Version): Pitchfork & Lost Needles

Friday, October 4, 2013

East Troy Twilight Cross

East Troy Twilight Cross is a bit of a misnomer. It is daylight for a lot of the races and then night for the 3's and everyone after. That being said, the course is an excellent use of space and riding at night under the lights adds a fun element.

For the second race in a row I thought it would be cool to show up so late that I wouldn't warm up at all. Well, that wasn't my plan actually, but that is what happened. I got to the parking lot 20 minutes before post time. Allowing just enough time to register, change into my kit, get my bike ready, have Maciej move my number to the left side, and do one lap before we lined up. Oh, and did I forget to mention that it started to rain steadily about five minutes before I got to the parking lot? Good thing I brought the right bike this time.

I had another good start without having to work too hard at it. Tyson took the hole, then Maciej, then me with a train of a few guys behind us. That was the order for most of the first lap. Tyson was probably taking a few more risks in the corners than Maciej and I and so he had a pretty good gap already after the first lap. I was feeling alright and actually got in front of Maciej to pull for a while. I slowed up a bit thinking Maciej would come around to pull but Chris attacked. Maciej matched his jump, I however was unable to after the pulling effort.

Angry Andy pulled in front of me as well then, but I was able to stay on his wheel. That is until a tricky fast downhill into an off camber 180 uphill turn took Andy out. I safely navigated around him, but that gave Chris and Maciej an even bigger gap.

It was shortly after that, about 3 or 4 laps in, that I had my usual "I can't keep this up" mental break. I believe this is when one rider got in front of me and I stuck to his wheel until the 45+ winner came by us. I was riding with them until a lapped rider got between us and I didn't put in a big effort to catch them. Then Mike caught and passed me and I pulled my head out of the fog and hit it again. Mike wasn't far ahead when he made his own mental mistake and went off course on a big ol' off camber downhill turn. I passed him and made sure he wasn't going to catch up without some big efforts.

Chad was on a mission and caught me but I wasn't letting him go until a lapped rider pushed me into the tape right before the run up and then proceeded to stay in my way until I could out run him. Chad was gone.

That was the way it stayed for a while. I saw Andy slowly catching me. He was riding one section faster than me. The last lap he caught me but I had plenty to stay on his wheel. I was content and even a little excited to let him pull me to the line and then see what would happen. Then in the last slow techy corner my foot pulled out of my pedal which caused me to drop my chain down into the small ring. It took a few strokes to get it back up (in retrospect I should have just switched gears in back) and Andy had 10 meters on me that he kept until the end.

The race was great and I feel like I actually raced this time, not just survived. Racing into shape appears to be working. A couple more and my excuses will be even more unfounded.

Due to my tardiness, there was no Clutch Corner this week. I will be looking for a good spot to set it up at this weekend.

On a side note, check out these giant white puffball mushrooms I saw while riding in Tosa. 20131002_181839.jpg 
That's my foot next to it for a size reference.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Shaving My Legs Made Me Faster

This little one came about 9 months ago. Right at the end of cx season in WI. Now I don't know if this is the case with every expecting couple, but the last two months of the pregnancy were rough on sleep for the both of us. I also had a location change and responsibility shift in my job. This all lead to my riding less than 2 hours a week for most of the cx season last year (2 hours of exercise a week may sound like a lot to some people, but for a competitive cyclist it pretty much equals zero). I didn't have a strong season. I felt slow and weak, and I didn't have the mental toughness to race hard.

After Lulu was born, Lauren was very good about encouraging and allowing me some time to ride every week so I could stay sane. Although for a stretch of about 6 weeks I did nothing athletic, unless you count playing Dance Central 3 a few times as exercise. Spring rolled around and I got to ride a bit more, but it was still spotty. I would go weeks without exercise.

Then things changed.

I've heard all kinds of reasons for guys shaving their legs when they are cyclists. Some say it is more aerodynamic, others say that it is better for getting massages on tired legs. For me, as an off road rider, shaved legs are easier to clean up after a ride and I pick up way less ticks. Whatever the reason a male cyclist gives you for shaving his legs, what it really all comes down to this: it is part of the culture.

Which is why early in the summer I heard comments from friends on group rides like "Nice hair pants." I actually got harassed for not shaving my legs! The fact is, it wasn't high on my list of to-do's. I had other things to get done and I was happy to just get out and ride. Then one Friday I decided I had time to take the hair pants off. And suddenly, I was faster.

No, seriously. I got faster by shaving my legs. Not for any of the reasons I listed above other than the fact that it is part of the culture. The week after I shaved I exercised more than I had in months. Something clicked. I was a cyclist again.

Here is the reason: if I shaved my legs and didn't ride my bike I was just some guy who shaves his legs, and that's sort of weird. But if I shaved my legs and rode, I was a cyclist.

It is a constant reminder of the culture and community I am part of and it gives me motivation to exercise and ride even when I am  tired or at odd times of the day. I may not be as fast as I once was. I still don't have a ton of time to exercise, but now I make sure I at least do something and I make my time on the bike count.

I feel stronger physically and mentally than I have since last Summer. I am stoked that the cx season is upon us because my cycling community is getting together again and I think I just might get faster as the season goes on (as long as my legs stay smooth).

I think there is a lesson to be learned from this, but I'll let you work that through on your own.