Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eye of the Tiger

This past weekend was Shawnee Rescue Rad Cross. The mens 4 was at 10am and the mens 3/4 was at 2pm. With so much time between the two I decided to race both. I picked up my new Jamis Nova race on Friday and unfortunately did not have time to ride it before hand. I was a little nervous about this because when racing you have to make many split second decisions at any given time throughout the race. Any mistake or miscalculation and it can cost you your position, your energy, and even your bones if you wreck. I got out there a little early and pre-rode the course and noticed that there was a lot of pavement. So I pumped my tires up to 45 psi each. At no point in the race did my tires feel loose at all. There wasn't much off camber and my tires were hooking up great in the grass. We had a pretty big group, 35 in all. I didn't expect much from myself since there was two sand pits back to back with maybe 35-40 feet of grass between. Almost enough to ride and just a little too long to run. I decided to run it all but when on grass I would roll the bike instead of shouldering it. This proved to be my most hated section of the race because right after that there was no time to recover, you went right in to a gradual climb. No rest for the weary. I managed to finish 18th. The guy in front of me had a pretty good lead for the last two laps and when coming to the finish line I noticed that he let up his pace, he let up his pace a lot. I was a good 200-250ft behind him and I decided to sprint for it. I know that sprinting for 18th is not glorious but I made the decision to go for it. I beat him to the line and did the dorkiest hand in the air gesture like I had just won the whole thing. I immediately felt stupid for doing the gesture but I was happy that I sprinted. More about that feeling in a minute. After the race I ate, drank, and rested. I even had time to go pick up Kate and Lucy. They dropped me back off and they went on to the mall like I suspect they will be doing for many times to come. I have never done a 3/4 race and didn't expect much from myself for a couple of reasons, 1) I raced earlier in the day and 2) I would be racing against 3s. The race time went from 30 minutes in the 4s to 45 minutes in the 3/4s. At one point in the race I almost pulled myself, I was so tired I was basically just walking it. My energy level dropped after lap number 3 of 8. My last two laps I was using as a cool down I was going so slow. I am glad I did it as it helped to push me out of my comfort zone. The course judges placed me at 25 out of 27 but it was an error on their part. I actually finished 24 out of 27. My fellow team-mate S.C. won the race. He managed to lap me once and I was happy he did. It cut my laps down from 8 to 7 total. He looked great out there, really strong and comfortable. That was his day and he took it. Good for him, he has been working hard for that for a long time.

With all that being said, on my Monday night ride I had a word pop into my head, that word is "heart". I have not been able to shake that word since I first thought it. I have been thinking about what it means to me, do I have it, if not how do I get it? I remember watching Rocky 2 and Rocky is challenged by Clubber Lang, and Clubber Lang says Rocky isn't a real champion. Apollo Creed is training Rocky and tells him that he needs to get the "Eye of the Tiger". You know that desire to win, that hunger and need to beat any opponent. I know that I haven't been racing with that emotion. My motivation has been to do better than I have ever done before. Tri-atheletes call this a "p.r." or a "personal record". I wonder if I will ever get that real desire to win or if I will just keep going along trying to beat my P.R.?  Do I even need that desire to win at all cost? Will it make my training more effecient? Lots of questions in my head right now. I do know that I love cycling and I love all the things I have accomplished including all the psychological things I have over come. One being the fear of competing in front of people knowing that I may be judged. It is funny all the things that we can carry in life not knowing, things that may seem insignificant to others but to some it means avoiding certain situations in life. I only wish I had conquered that one earlier in life. Cycling has given me the medium to over come many of my lifes obstacles. For that I love it even more.

These pics are from Jon Peck and they are my faves so far.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Can Almost Taste It

The last two weeks of cross racing have been pretty good to me. I have managed to finish in my two best finishes ever, but that has only managed to frustrate me even more. I raced in Cross out Cancer two weekends ago and had my best placing to date, 17 out of 40, that is my first top 50% finish in any race including road. I raced the mens cat4 on my sinlge speed bike and the gearing was perfect for the course. No climbing at all and not many straight sections. My handling and my starting in the front really helped me out. I did this race last year and placed 31 out of 46. At this rate ,next year I should be a real contender.  The frustration comes from my wanting to do better. I now want a top 25% finish.

This last weekend was Joules Cross. I was really pumped from Cross out from Cancer and expected good things from myself. I was once again racing on my single speed bike and the course didn't look too hilly. I didn't have a chance to pre-ride the course and wished I had. Lots of straight aways, a spiral of death, strong head winds, off camber loose dirt and rocky sections, and a couple of little climbs thrown in just before the finish line. My gearing was good for the climbs on this course but a not large enough for all the straight sections. I had a good start, coming out of the first turns I was siting in 8th place out of 32 but it was not to be. I was slowly but surely losing my ground to everyone with gears. I faded to 17th place over all. My teammate Levon was racing with me and once again was gaining on me rather quickly. We were suppose to do 6 laps total but we were pulled after 5, If I had known that we were going to get pulled I would have sprinted to the finish hopefully passing the 16th place guy. At the rate Levon was gaining on me, I know he would have passed me on the last lap had it gone to 6, but please don't tell him that I was worried about it, I don't want him to gain any confidence for next week.

For spectating I liked the Cross out Cancer course. Kate, the baby, and I found a nice tree to sit under and watched everyone else race. Joules cross' course was on beatiful land but not many trees to sit under and spectate unless you brought your own tent. Other than that It was a nice venue.

With all that being said, BK has ordered a Jamis Nova race with my name on it. Let's see how I do with my own bike with gears. Several of the guys on the team have this bike and they do pretty well. I will be sure to post pics.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Like a Boss

Boss Cross 1 & 2 were this past weekend. I was only able to race on Saturday but managed to pass by on Sunday to spectate for a little bit. Saturday's race was tough, lots and lots of running. I had a great start to the race, I think about 7th or 8th until we reached the first set of sand. Running is not my thing, it brings my heartrate way up especially when running thru deep, soft sand. I managed to hold about 11th or 12th place until there was 2 laps to go and I started to fade. The race was 40 minutes long versus the usual 30 minutes. I know I would have placed better by 2 or 3 places had it been 30 minutes. My friend and fellow teammate Levon was in the race with me and he was starting to gain ground on me on the last lap of the race. I really started to worry that he was going to pass me, the amount of  time he made up on that last lap made me feel like I didn't have a chance against him. It did force me to push myself even harder near the end and I did manage to hold my place. Levon and I have used each other to gauge how well we are doing in a race. Last year I was only able to beat him in one race. Ironically enough this coming weekend is that race. I hope he is there for a rematch.  My legs felt pretty good and I was able to run a higher gear and get up off my saddle from time to time. I do need to work on my heartrate, it really sucks. I get winded much quicker than my legs give out. 

 I think I am being converted, I have become a cross person. It is a lot more fun than road racing. I am going to have to figure out how I can get my hands on a carbon cross bike with carbon tubulars.

One last thing, my buddy/fellow teammate Jon Peck was good to me on Saturday and Allowed me to once again race with his bike. Carrying that thing thru sand was much easier than my steel bike. He also took an awesome photo so credit goes out to him on that too.