Beat the Freak Cyclocross - Fayetteville, TN

Monday, September 27, 2010

The fall is my favorite time of the year, with it so many great things come: college football, changing leaves, cyclocross....but none of those things are important when compared the to real things that come with October including seasonal beers (Harvest Moon - extra yum), holiday Cliff Bar flavors, and chocolate-chip pumpkin bread.

I woke up early and headed north to Fayetteville, TN for a two day race weekend. A short two hour drive with waves of rain coming and going, but it wasn't the rain during my drive I was worried about, it was the solid nights rain Friday night that would make the course soup. When I arrived at the park, the parking lot was mostly empty and a few folks include two USA Cycling officials were hiding under a pavilion, trying to stay out of the rain that was now steadily coming down.

The registration table.

Conditions were wet, this was taken during a break from the rain. Fortunately we were spared during our race as well.

I registered and retreated back to my car trying to stay dry and warm before kitting up and heading out for a warm-up. Lots more folks showed up and I was glad to see there was going to be a decent field, maybe not MABRA sized but good enough. I went out for a 20 minute warm-up on the road before turning in 2 laps on the course. The course was pretty technical including two back to back sand pits, a massive spiral and two run-up barriers. The race was decided like most, in the whole shot, 4 went up the road with me in 5th. I let a few more past sitting 9th until I began picking riders off. I was sitting in 7th about to grab 6th when I lost focus and nearly found myself in the water. Keeping the bike upright I dismounted and returned to the course not losing a position. On the last lap I picked off the guy I had been chasing for the previous 4 laps and almost snagged another at the line, missed it by a wheel. I was happy with 6th, and felt that my fitness is finally heading in the right direction. I didn't really grab a lot of pictures with the whole rain thing but snagged one from the race photographer:

The Start.
Credit to Freeman Photography.

Pretty happy with 6th for the day, planned on returning for Sunday but opted for a break.

Still don't have a team. Not much racing in Ft. Payne, def. once I'm in Orlando.

Post bike wash at the race, managed to the larger clumps of dirt off.

It's not a race weekend without a burrito and none better than Moe's.

Welcome to Moe's!

Post bike wash at my place, plus a good lube.

And capped the night off with a healthy dinner, mozzarella, cucumber, and tomato salad with balsamic dressing...tasty! last note...these arrived yesterday but are too big so they're going back. Bummer!

Guess these meansI need to be fast! Either way they're sweet Ass!


Uptown Columbus Omnium - Race Report

Friday, September 24, 2010

The end of the road season here, I gave it one last hurrah after not racing road since April and decided to register for the Uptown Columbus Omnium, a first annual race that has a lot of promise.

After getting home from work around 4, I packed up all of my stuff being careful to not forget anything as 4 hours is a long way from home to realize you don't have your helmet, hopped in the car and headed south to Columbus, GA.

Michelle made the drive down from Blacksburg, VA to spend the weekend with me in Columbus, act as my support crew, and cheer on her very slow and unfit boyfriend. I'll never listed to a TomTom again as my 3.5-hour drive quickly turned into 4.5 after missing a turn. The only benefit of missing the turn was grabbing Moe's Southwest south of Atlanta, as always proper race fuel for a long weekend. After being so cautious about making sure I had everything, I realized I had forgotten my "authorized to ride" from since my license doesn't have my current category. We arrived around 10PM with the one hour time lost to EST, and went to be for an early morning.

At 6AM I dragged myself out of bed and headed across the street to grab breakfast, unfortunately the hotel didn't serve breakfast until 7 so McDonald's was my option. I grabbed a fruit and yogurt parfait and an orange juice before heading back to the hotel. A short drive to the race start, I arrived at the park where signing was taking place and grabbed my number and pinned it to m jersey. I didn't have enough time to get a full warm-up in, so I did what I could and warmed up for 15 minutes before heading to my start. At 8:12:00 I rolled away from the start for 6 miles of not so much fun. I think I have a mental issue with TT's, I need to just forget how my legs feel and go all out, lung-searing coughing-up-blood all out. I finished in 16:44.5, 9th of 10 in the Cat. 4's. 2nd to last, somewhat of a theme for the weekend. My photographer for the weekend didn't get any photos of the TT but I looked like garbage anyways, form and all I mean.

TT results, 8/9.

Here's the power data for my TT, my cadence is almost perfect linear (faulty data?) and as is my heart rate, but as you can see it drop after a delay post race, so I believe it's accurate, pretty incredible.

Garmin Data for the TT, it was an out and back with the first and last mile on a river walk bike path that was open, not my favorite!

I went back to the hotel and grabbed a quick a nap and then Subway for lunch. The road race was about half an hour east from Columbus in Hurtsboro, AL; I knew I was in trouble when the town was called Hurtsboro. When we arrived the temperature outside was 99 degrees and it didn't get any cooler over the next hour prior to my race start. A mediocre warm-up on my part of about 15 minutes increasing my heart rate on some back road before I headed towards the start line. The field included both 4/5 plus the masters 35+ category for a field of about 30. The pace was pretty quick from the start but completely manageable, with the usual lots of braking and caution in the first few miles. A wicked head wind strung out the field with the majority of the race being single file the first 15-20 riders. After we made the 3rd of 4 turns (big circuit) we began hitting some undulations and I simply mentally gave up, I believe I could have hung on longer but gave up on myself, this was at mile 24/30. I have a lot of work to do on mental toughness and confidence in my ability on the bike. I wound up finishing the race with 2 other guys a master and a 5 so didn't bother sprinting for the line, besides there's pretty much no point if you're not in the field anyways.

The start of the race. The Juniors also races with us and the on directly behind me is a 13 year old Cat. 4, accelerates like a cheetah, and took third in the crit on Sunday. Def. has a future in cycling, oh yeah he only weight 75 lbs.

More of the start.

It was a blistering 99 out, and felt warmer. Pretty miserable.

It hurt alright.

Didn't even try at the line. Didn't have much left anyways.

Power Data from the road race. Fell apart at 24.

Road Race Results.

Garmin data for the road race.

That evening Michelle took me out for an amazing dinner at The Loft. We had yet to find the nice part of the town and did some research to find out where to eat, our original decision The Cannon Brewery looked great and was right across the street, but this place a much bigger crowd and for me that's always a tell tale sign. It didn't disappoint. Coincidentally the nice part of town and the street where we ate was the center of Sundays crit. and set up a pretty nice backdrop for the race.

Broadway. Went out for a great dinner and awesome evening on the town.

The next morning I woke around 7 not finding much appetizing but managed to eat some of the hotel breakfast including a bagel and some OJ. We packed up our stuff and headed to the race for my 9:30 start time. When we arrived they were still in the process of setting up the race and I was notified the race had been delayed an hour, my only quarrel with the race other than Saturday's lack of bathrooms, but it wasn't a big deal.

About 40 minutes before my race I kitted up and hopped on the bike to warm up. I got a real solid warm-up in for the race on the trainer, with a pyramid style warm-up we used during collegiate racing this spring. I felt pretty great when I got off the bike taking in fuel as I warmed up, I put a little water in my bottle and got a lap in before heading to the Start/Finish. The course was a counterclockwise loop with 4 left hand turns, and a pretty good kicker before the start line we hit every lap.

The race started quick, similar to yesterday strung out in a single file line. The pace was manageable but I kept hitting bumps every lap that made me put extra effort in to not get gaped. Anything that attempted to get up the road was reeled in, one good effort by the local team setting up a block but the gap was quickly closed and nothing saw more than that for the remainder of the 30 minutes. Michelle grabbed a bunch of pictures:

The Start Line.

...And off the go.

Trying to stay latched on up the little kicker.

A better shop of the climb we did 15 or so times.

No idea what I'm looking at, the dude to my left won the race.

Cool shot of the river walk and corner.

I swear no matter what line I took I found a pothole on huge crack in the road.

The finishing sprint.

Got a real nice warm-up in for the race and felt pretty good.

Power data for the race.

At the end of the race I finished in the pack and closed on the Mercer guy in front of me to beat him out of his spot. I felt good about lasting the whole race since it was my first Cat. 4 crit. Took 10/12 in the 4's.

Crit. results.

The road season is now behind me, or in front of me I suppose. This weekend begins cross which I'm super stoked about.


100th Post

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Its been/and still is a work in progress but I truly enjoy writing very much. I took the time to go back and look through all of my blog posts that I've written over the past year, most of which have brought me back to the great things I've accomplished and experienced. Some of my favorites are below:

My first marathon - Suntrust Marathon (Richmond, VA)

My first triathlon - Smithfield Sprint (Smithfield, VA)

New Years trip to NY - (NY, New York)

My top placed collegiate finish at W&M - (Williamsburg, VA)

"20 Degrees out, perfect for a run to a frozen waterfall" - (Jefferson National Forest, VA)

All of these and the rest of them bring back great memories, for those of you who read (whoever if any you are) Thanks!


Montreal - Part Quatre

Sunday, September 19, 2010

After an amazing day watching the Grand Prix Cycliste Montreal, I headed back to my hostel to grab my bag and head for my train to Quebec City. Before I left town I stopped at Poco Rico, a rotisserie chicken place that's a few doors down from Schwart's and was also pointed out on my Montreal Cycle Tour.

The feature here is obviously the rotisserie chicken, but the big deal are the potatoes that are placed below the chicken as they cook where all the fat drippings land. Not the most healthy thing in the world but delicious none the less. After this terribly unhealthy meal I grabbed a Bixi bike to the hostel and retrieved my bag.

Poco Rico - Delicious rotisserie chicken and potatoes that's sure to take 5 years off my life.


The metro in the Montreal was good but finding the train station was the most difficult experience I've had ever with a transit system, including Paris and New York. After getting slightly lost on my way to the station I caught my train, I accidentally walked into a tattoo and piercing convention, no lie; I walk into a tattoo and piercing convention in toe with my luggage case and shoulder bag, looking VERY out of place.

I finally made it to Quebec City around 9PM, got maybe the scariest cab ride of my life, even after visiting NYC; this dude was driving a Prius and thought it was a Ferrari, redlining the thing every time he accelerated. Stayed at the Hilton in Quebec City, very nice hotel!

Sweet view from my hotel. Really neat at night.

The next day I had training for work that lasted until 5, but in the evening my boss and I headed out and walker around the city eventually finding a place to eat recommended by a local.

Parlement (Parliament) building.

Parc des Champs-de Batilles.

The parc was right on the water and pretty cool, after walking around a bit we worked up an appetite and headed towards dinner. A delicious eggplant lasagna and a raspberry cheesecake and cappuccino for dessert.

By the time I got my cappuccino however the dessert was gone, it would've been a pretty picture.

Sweet view of the streets in the morning on my way to Paillard Cafe.

Paillard Cafe. They didn't open until 7:30 so I had time to walk around, where I found the photo above.

Cafe au Lait, Brioche au Chocolate et Brioche au Sucre (breads with sugar and chocolate).

The rest of the week was filled with work and more delicious food. Eventually all good things must come to an end and I headed home with an early flight to Toronto before catching two more flights to Birmingham, AL. Just in time to be home for one day before heading to Columbus, GA for an omnium weekend.

Sunrise in the side-view-mirro, headed home.


Grand Prix Cycliste Montreal - (Montreal Part Trois)

As I mentioned in my last post, after grabbing some amazing bagels and delicious French pastries I headed toward the UCI Pro Tour race in Montreal, the Grand Prix Cyclsite Montreal. When I arrived the were still putting the finishing touches on setting up the course and vendors were setting up booths near the Start/Finish.

Everyone figuring out there places.

We rode down this rode down this road the day prior on the Montreal Cycle tour, pretty high hill coming the other direction.

A shot of the finishing straight.

Spider tech was handing out free T-shirts and Cow-Bells. I didn't score a T but I did pick up a bell.

Thule and Specialized booth's.

I scouted out a good spot to watch the pros sign in and camped for about half an hour until the first team arrived. Up first was the Canadian National team which was an extra in addition to the normal 18 Pro Tour teams. I took over 300 pictures throughout the day, so I set up a Picasa album to play through them all.

I did decide to pick a couple of my favorites out though. It was real neat to see all the pros up close and see how huge some of them were and how really really tiny most of them were.

George Hincapie given' the crowd a wave, reping the stars and stripes for BMC.

Ryder Hesjedal the local favorite, went on to take 2nd for the race.

The Shack.

Robert Gesink who went on to win the race.

After the last of the pros signed in I headed over to the start line where the crowds began to gather, as did the riders for the start. I got some cool shots of the pros beginning to line up and the guys in front of me struck up a conversation with the Spanish national champ, Iván Gutiérrez.

The crowds near the start. To the right out of the photo is a huge television I watched the first lap on.

The Shack secured a place right up front.

It seemed like this time was when the pros tried to catch up with friends from other teams and just kick it.

Hincapie looking real relaxed before the start.

Spanish national champ, Iván Gutiérrez. He said he didn't like their bikes, pretty but not good.

Finally the race got underway and man was did it look quick from the start with the Canadian national team getting their country some spotlight as the first attack of the day.

I decided this was a great time to grab enjoy my delicious French croissants while watching the race on the big screen.

Mobile TV display.

Me and 10,000 of my closest Canadian friends watching the race.

Almond et Chocolate croissant.

Field coming through the start/finish the 1st time around.

After watching the first lap on the screen and coming back through the start/finish I started up the hill and found a spot near the base where I watch the field go by for the first time. It was really incredible the past of the hill, with some extended sections of 12%. Overall the hill wasn't huge (764 ft.) and just over 2k long.

A little further up the hill I posted up on a concrete barrier and grabbed some more photos of the fields and a video as well. The crowds were great, super energetic and loud and of course partaking in adult beverages.

Beginning of the peloton.

Near the top there's a cool overlook where you get an awesome view of the city.

This is about 500m from the peak of the first climb, Mount Royale.

Flying down the back side of the hill.

I started making my way back down the hill in order to make my train to Quebec city that evening, but got to see the field go past me a few times while I hiked down.

At the base of the hill was a great vantage point of the field where you could watch from the same place and see the field go by twice.

Sweet shot of the field.

I grabbed a Bixi bike and on my way back to the hostel I stopped by the U-turn near the start/finish for a couple more photos.

The three leaders off the front.

The peloton a moving swarm.

Garmin and RadioShack team cars.

Overall it was an awesome experience to watch and see the pro's race. Look forward to seeing more races in the future.

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