Saturday, October 24, 2009

Castle Cross

I don't normally cut to the chase on my blog, but I'll make an exception today:
I won today. I f'ing won. (Read on if you need more detail than that)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Red Rocks Velo 'Cross

What a difference a week makes. Last weekend I was bundling up in all my warm cycling clothes. Yesterday I was sweating my tail off in a short-sleeved skinsuit for the Red Rocks Velo cyclocross race at Tony Grampsas Park in Golden.

The problem with racing on Sunday is that I have a tendency to workout too hard on Saturday and then I'm tired by Sunday's race. As I took a few warmup laps before my race, it was pretty clear I had overcooked things on Saturday. It was also clear that this was going to be a tough course for me. There were a lot of loose, bumpy, and off-camber corners. On top of that, there were two sand pits, and a steep staircase.

The only thing that save me on this race was the elevation gain. There were two long climbs on the course that turned the screws on most people. If you weren't already tired, these climbs were going to change that.

I had a decent starting position in the second row, but I didn't get a very good start. My legs didn't have the 'pop' necessary to get me off the line quickly so I just settled in well behind the leaders and waited patiently for people to blow-up. I made one bobble early by taking a corner too hot, but I kept it upright. Other than that, things were pretty smooth.

Round and round we went. I steadily caught and passed people, dirt caked on my face and on the roof of my mouth. Thankfully, Christine was there to hand up a water bottle to me every lap. Invaluable. Not so much necessary for hydration as it was for getting some moisture back in my dessert of a mouth.

I rode my way into 12th place. I was really hoping for a top 10, but give the difficulty of the course (for me) I'm happy with that. I like to think I earned the two apple fritters that I destroyed this morning. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Boulder CX #2 – Interlocken

Winter arrived just in time for the second race in the Boulder Cyclocross series. This one was at Interlocken in Broomfield. I’ve always like this course because it’s not particularly technical and it features a lot of energy zapping grass.

Our team has a tent that we’ll set up sometimes at cyclocross races. It’s nice for shelter if the weather gets nasty, but it also marks out our territory and gives us a nice place to hang. Ideally, different team members would take turns setting up the “Blue Sky Velo Compound”, but in reality it usually comes down to just a couple people that do it. I always feel bad about not being to help out with tent duties, so with Christine out of town I decided to spend the whole day down there and put in my time for the team.

I dressed pretty warm, but I was still pretty darn cold sitting outside. The weather man was predicting highs in the 40’s, but it lingered in the low 30’s most of the day. I spent some time in the car in the afternoon just to get warm.

I bundled up an hour before my race and headed out for some warmup laps. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too cold once I got working hard. Once of these days I hope to figure out how to keep my toes warm. On my warmup, my legs felt tired. Not sore, just dead. I figure it was from being out in the cold all day, or maybe from my “carbo-loading” the night before at the Crown Pub. Whatever the reason, I didn’t feel like starting in the front and clumsily getting in the way. I skipped my call-up and started near the back and talked shit with a couple friends.

The whistle blows, and it’s, of course, mayhem. There were a couple early crashes of from people rubbing wheels and locking up brakes on the wet grass. I was too busy laughing at my friends in front of me trading elbows into the first corner to notice. About halfway through the first lap, things were good and spread out and it was time for me to start picking people off. One thing I like about this course is that there is ample opportunity to pass. You’ll spend some energy riding through the thicker grass instead of the matted down race line, but the opportunity is almost always there.

My biggest problem on the day was getting clipped into my pedals after remounting. I had adjusted the position of my saddle Friday night, and this was my first time testing it out. I’m hoping that’s what led to my pedal fumbling and that I’ll take care of that with a little more practice this week. I messed up one time in the sand because I wasn’t clipped in, and I took a nice forearm to the back from somebody. I thought that was pretty lame, so as I was running, I made sure I cut him off. Never saw him again.

Coming into the final few turns, there were a couple people within reach. I took those corners as fast as I could and then outsprinted them to the line for 17th place out of 77 riders. I’m surprised, because I started pretty near the back. If I hadn’t wussed out on my call-up, I would have been top 10 for sure. Oh well, I’ll save it for next weekend.

I don't have any pics of me, but here's a teammate in the sand
chad_elmendorf (by ryan_l)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How a bike fit can scare the crap out of you

I went in to see bike fitting guru Andy Pruitt last Thursday to see if I could take care of some nagging leg pain that started late in the summer. He made some changes to my saddle position, and amazingly I could feel an immediate difference. We’ll see if that continues.

One other thing he did was x-ray my pelvis to see if there was something that would affect my hamstring pain. He noted a couple things: 1) My left leg is a centimeter longer than my right, and 2) I have a small protrusion around my hip socket. Nothing major there, it could just cause problems if I did a lot of running (similar to Christine’s issue actually). His recommendation, don’t become a runner. Done. You don’t have to ask me twice not to run.

When you get an x-ray at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, it automatically gets sent on to a radiologist so they can look at it from another perspective. Andy was looking for something specific to bike fit, but the radiologist has a different set of things to check out.

About an hour after I left their office, I got a call from Andy telling me that the radiologist saw something unusual in the L4/L5 lumbar region. Unusual meaning “tumor” or “mass”. Of course they say it’s “most likely” benign, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. They highly recommended that I get that checked out ASAP, so I had them schedule a MRI for me. They were able to get me in on Monday, and I’d have a follow-up to get the results on Tuesday.

So that left me feeling really uneasy all weekend. It’s one of those things that is hard to put out of your mind. Am I okay? Do I have a cancerous tumor growing inside me? Is my stomach upset because there’s a problem or is it psychosomatic? Am I sore from racing or something else?

Finally, Monday rolls around and I leave work early to go down to Boulder for my scan. The scan is pretty non-eventful. The worst part was that they needed to inject me with a contrast agent through an IV. I hate needles. But it wasn’t so bad. I felt really relaxed after getting the scan. That is, until I started thinking about how I needed to wait another day to find out if I was dying. When you can’t sleep, I recommend alcohol. Actually, I was a little sleepy from getting up early to take Christine to the airport, so I turned on my iPod with some soothing Harry Potter and drifted away.

This whole time, I hadn’t told Christine. For sure a bad idea, but I didn’t see any good that would come out of both of us worrying. Plus, she was about to take her mom to Paris, and I know she would have delayed her trip if she knew. Sorry C., you’re too damn selfless, and I couldn’t let this wreck your trip to croissant-land :)

The end.

Oh wait, I haven’t given you the punchline. I got a call this afternoon from Andy’s assistant. She said that the MRI looked normal and that I didn’t need to come down. A short while later, Andy called to give me the scoop. It turns out that I’m missing my L5 lumbar. I don’t know where it is, but let me know if you see it anywhere. I don’t know what the ramifications are of a missing L5. It’s unusual, but not unheard of.

So that’s it. I’m not dying (that I know of). I’m going to have a beer (or 6) to celebrate that fact.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I raced yesterday in the Frisco CX. Things didn't quite go my way.

The course wasn't super technical but it had some stuff I found to be tricky. I wasn't feel super confident about bike my skills, but my legs at least felt good. Because of my decent finish in Breck a couple weeks ago, I got a call-up to the second row. The race starts on a long climb and I was determined not to squander this good start opportunity.

For once, I actually felt like I had a good start. I clipped in quickly and took off, holding my position into the first corner. I was surprised at how slow we were going through the early turns. Apparently I'm not the only one who wasn't feeling confident in bike handling.

I bobbled on a loose corner, and I couldn't figure out why. I took a good line, and wasn't doing anything different than my warmup laps. Then I bobbled again on a 180 corner. WTF? A couple more shitty corners later, and I noticed that my tire had gone flat. It must have been pretty bad earlier and I finally burped out all the air from my tubeless Ksyrium experiment.

This is the second year in a row where I had a mechanical on the first lap at Frisco. Maybe it's just not my place to race. :) I jogged to the pit and milled about for a bit while Dave K convinced me to take one of his wheels. I paid $25, I might as well use that course as a good practice. In the end, I somehow managed to pass half of the field and finish 29th out of about 60.