Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow Bike Enduro

last lap

That's the look of someone having a blast in the middle of Winter. This past weekend was loaded with awesome. All because of the wonderful folks with whom I was spending time. Laser tag on Friday night, Snow Bike Enduro on Saturday, and great worship on Sunday.

The Enduro was even more fun than last year and this year Lauren made it out too. I believe I saw around 32 teams, which means there were almost 100 riders! The weather was spectacular and the course was difficult but ridable. I had the pleasure of being on Jon's team again and this time we added Ben to the mix.

Team 5

The bonfire was warm, the Lakefront Big Easy was tasty, people were laughing, and riders were crashing in the snow right in front of camp. I was one of those riders. I caught some sweet air on the big downhill finish, landed it, and then had too much speed going into the corner of doom. I fell in slow motion and then hopped up and struck the landing to the applause of the judges. There's first hand video of it too! Perhaps I can get my hands on it from Jon and post it here later.

Maciej and his team came away with the win after the three-way tie was broken by double elimination Indian Leg Wrestling. (special note, never challenge Uncle John to a leg wrestling match as he will end you with extreme prejudice)


Lauren has more photos and will get them posted soon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


So, you may notice in the bar to the right under "Places of Interest" that there is a new link called "Life on the Island." If you were to follow that "link," you end up on another "blog" written by "me." (Sorry, I got a little quotation mark crazy there for a second, but I'm better now.)

What? Why, you may ask? Simple, I needed a place to discuss my authorial endeavors that wasn't also a bike blog because my authorial endeavors are not about bikes. So check it out if you like. And if you don't care, tell someone who might.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cx Nationals

I woke up on Saturday tired; tired of being sick and tired pretending to train. So, I was resolved as I drove out to Verona for the Cyclocross Nationals 35-39 Masters race that I was going to focus on having fun and leaving it all out on the course.

The course conditions changed for every race and for our race it was going to be a mix of peanut butter mud and slick spots. I knew the first lap was going to be chaos, especially starting 5 rows back, so I planned on being cautious so I wouldn't be taken out of the race in a crash.

Being cautious appeared to be smart and I avoided many a rider going down wildly in front of me. The conditions were challenging and there was very little where constant power wasn't being put down. I was in the groove of things and moving up when my race was cut short by the officials. The details are all a bit sketchy and I am not going to focus on what happened.

Instead, I want say how great it was to be able to hang out and race with Joe, Mike, Ron and the whole Knutowski caravan, Jeff, Travis, Eric, Chris, Andy, Heidi, Sanjay, Maciej, Kate, Marcin, and anyone I missed. Then there are the too many to list people that made the whole season as fun and successful as it was all season long. Wisconsin has a great and growing cx scene.

After having a pitiful year last year due to real health reasons (13, 23, 13, DNF, 21, DNF) my goals were simple this year. Be able to finish in the middle of the pack even when I am not feeling good. Between the on and off cold and numerous tire issues I would say I was pretty successful in reaching my goals, maybe even a little better than I expected.

My week off the bike (not counting the park bike) began with this.

That's right, Clutch beer from New Belgium. The last bottle of a delicious dark sour ale that I have been saving. I also thawed out the cookies from Christmas that I didn't eat. I pretty much took last week off because of the cold so after taking this next week off I should be about 5 lbs heavier and ready to slowly start riding again. Heck, maybe if it ever snows in WI I'll even get to ski!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Getting the word out

In an attempt to learn more ideas and get the word out about my upcoming book The Island in the Confluence, I am on the twitters and the facebooks now(again). I haven't been on either for years and I am not totally sure how I feel about being back on them now.

Do me a favor and make it worth my while at least. Seek me out in those venues if are on them. Spread the word too, if you would.

I'll start sharing more information about my book soon. If you are curious, please ask.

Monday, January 2, 2012

NYE Chicago cx

photo by Rockwell

I hemmed and hawed about trying to make this race. It was going to be a surgical strike if I went; just enough time to race and then head home for other responsibilities. My results don't show how well the race went for me, but I am glad I went.

For the past month, at least, I have had a little cold. Nothing that would stop me from doing anything, but just annoying and hanging around. That is until last week, when for Christmas my niece and nephew gave me something nasty. It was bad enough to make me slow down and take some time off on Thursday and Friday. It feels the same as the cold I had at the costume cx race, I just can't take a deep breath. But I was already signed up for the race, the season is almost over, and my last race lasted 3 minutes, so I was a bit determined to make it.

I made good time to Chicago and for the most part I felt okay, other than the deep dry coughing and inability to take a deep breath. I wasn't going to let it take me out of the race mentally. The venue itself was awesome: heated bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers. And the course was cool too, I didn't get a chance to see most of it before the race though. It had numerous 50 foot long 4-5inch deep mud sections, a super muddy hill, and somewhat hard packed sand traps that had huge lips on the exit that if you didn't almost bunny hop out of, you were going over your bars.

I started in the second row and had a good start. I was 5th or 6th wheel going into the 3rd turn when a guy (and I am still not sure how he did it) pushed me off the line in a gravel corner so I had to soft pedal. A train of guys blew by and I went from 5th or 6th to 15th. It seems as though some guys are actually peaking now for Nationals and Masters Worlds, so it was a fast first lap as I went to work to try and move up.

After 2 laps I was battling it out with one guy. I knew I was riding the course smoother than he was because I could hear him braking everywhere. In the long mud pits I had more power too and would get little gaps on him. But here is where the cold got frustrating. My legs felt great, in fact they never really never got tired (or even sore the rest of the day) but I was breathing like was I being chased by a bear. I couldn't access the actual power in my legs.

With 2 to go the other guy rode the backside of the hill, when I ran it, and got a good gap on me. By the end of that lap another guy had caught me. When he did, I let him lead thinking I would let him take me around the course. We got to the backside of the hill, he ran it and I rode it. I got a good gap, but I couldn't keep the speed up. My front shifter was too jammed up to get into the big ring so I was left to spin like crazy, tough to do when you can't breathe. We hit the final straight and he eased by me doing half the rpm's I was. I rolled in 12th.

Disappointing placement, but fun course and good times. Plus, even though I didn't feel good I was able to mix it up in the top third of the field. Next Saturday is Nationals for me. Right now it looks like I line up 41st out 71. I know I can move up from there, the question is just how far?