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.