Mud, Sweat, and Gears (MSG) #5 - Tri-cities Race Weekend Pt. 1

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Since CX (cyclocross) is mainly a North-North-Eastern sport in the states, although it's exponentially growing every year, Alabama is far from a thriving scene for the sport and hence my excessive amount of traveling in the past few weeks. While the MABRA races are too far to get to with drives in excess of 12 hours, Tennessee and the Tri-Cities are my next best alternative.

Usually I jet out of work on Fridays around 2 or 3 so I can begin my very long 7 hr. drive north. Unfortunately after breaking my brand new single speed in a mock race last Sunday, I needed to wait until Saturday morning to stop by the bike shop on my way there to have my drive-side crank tapped.

Not knowing what to do with myself Friday I went for a nice easy spin on my road bike. Then a brilliant idea struck me, why don't I throw the PowerTap from my road bike onto my cross bike? I wasn't really interested in the overall data, it was more of a why not type of idea?

So I went at it...all in all the concept was pretty simple.

...take this:

The Donor

...and put it on that

Specialized TriCross - the transplant recipient

...Not so fast!

A chain whip and a big wrench are necessary for removal.

Cassette lock-ring removal tool


Eventually I figured out the spacers behind the cassette and made it all work!

Saturday was an early morning, I had planned on being at the bike shop when it opened but a slightly later start than originally planned delayed that idea. Eventually I made it to the bike shop, only 45 minutes late after a stop for breakfast and coffee at Starbucks and had my crank fixed. Super ecstatic about my SS being fixed I headed towards Johnson City for MSG (Mud, Sweat, and Gears) #5.

I had plenty of time to check out the course and shot this section of the course that turned out to be my favorite part, mainly because it was quick and felt really fast.

Cross almost always utilizes a park or school facility as they make for idea venues, Saturday race was no exception with a gorgeous park facility situated along the river. After I signed in I did some recon of the course and stopped to take in the beautiful setting of the race.

Gorgeous setting for the race with the leaves changing in the background.

I somehow missed the 25 series pts. for dressing up memo. Bummer!

Eric from Blacksburg racing team, Rogue's Racing.

The sand pit.

A witch doing don't see that everyday!

My lack of clean clothes and short break between races required some creativeness on my part, I wound up pinning my second number to the first so I only had to take 5 pins off before my second race.

Numbers pinned one over another.

On a side note, as I mentioned above most races take place at a local park or sports complex which for some reason unknown to me usually lack doors on the bathrooms??? Well most cyclists would agree that a nature break is necessary before a race door or not. I was very proud of my ingenious method of letting folks know the facilities were in use!

Very clever I thought and if you look at the angle of the shot...Yes.

Seriously anyone know why no doors? (my only guess is to do with unwanted nomad visitors).

Anyways my first race of the day was single speed (SS) which was my first ever race on a SS bike. It was a blast, and seeing that I had changed my gearing from a 36:16 (2.25:1) to a 36:18 (2:1) that morning, I was a bit under-geared but much better off than a 36:16. The race also served as a great warm-up to my CX4 race 15 minutes after the SS race. I stayed where I was for most of the race, finally catching a guy I had been chasing for 2 laps, finishing 5/11. Not too shabby for my first SS race.

After a quick number change (or un-number-change) I headed back to the start line with a different bike and got a pretty cruddy start position. The race started and I felt okay and quickly secured my position. The race was so much different with a geared bike, not standing where I had been just 15 minutes earlier. I battled with a young guy for most of the race, finally passing him on the last lap as my previous race, but after racing an hour cramped about 500m from the finish over the barriers and locked up. I lost 2 places and finished 10/33. I still wan to move up in my finish standings, I have yet to podium in cyclocross (stayed tuned for pt. 2).

Oh and if you're looking for the power file from my race and all of those BIG WATTS!!! Well there's no data since my head unit was dead, we tried switching Justin's 605 but it didn't pick it up.

I usually don't partake in candy and try my best to avoid Halloween candy but in the spirit of the season...I decided to partake as somewhat of a "reward" for racing hard.

Plus it's Java, so it was more like a coffee then a candy bar right?

...and then partook in some more "rewarding"...SERIOUSLY...what is bike racing without a burrito?

Michelle and I hit up Chipotle which is now in Blacksburg!


I bought it, then broke it...not the reverse.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unfortunately I haven't been doing much riding, or much of anything it seems these days, and the last time I did ride I managed to break a brand new bike...more on that later.

This summer I succumbed to corporate America and have since been learning to balance work and riding, its not that I'm working too much (40 hours a week) it's that when I was school I could ride during the day and do my 40 or more hours of "work" during the evening/night. Now that I have this whole job thing I have to go to, it's really messing with my riding especially with day light saving time looming around the corner.

If you really want to hear my excuse it's that during a trip to Florida three weeks ago I got sick and have since been trying to get rid of a nagging cough, but honestly it's a combination of the days getting shorter and my frustration with the sport.

Anyways just a quick update with how my life has been during October through a string of photos of videos.


(Imagine a quick flashing slide show with a sweet whooshing sound!)

I turned 23 on October 2nd...Michelle bought me the Park Tool grilling kit to complete the kitchen.

On October 5th I tried to leave for Orlando...plane broke @ a hotel...5:30 AM flight the next morning.

Managed to get a workout in during in a workout the first day there...did some intervals on a stationary bike...

It was my goal while picking out a rental car to get the most awkward/awesome vehicle available...the bug was taken...drats...instead an HHR!

Michelle arrived...we picked out furniture...

Went to VA Tech 2x for homecoming and for a game last weekend against Duke! (1600 miles in my car)

Gillies began selling their coffee whole bean farmer direct from Honduras...delicious shade grown perfect, my life is now complete and I've had coffee every morning since...

Went to wind rock near Mountain Lake (see Dirty Dancing) and saw an awesome hawk gliding and met my friend Lady Bug.

iPhone4 For the Win...

Made a film called Lady Bug - Starring Lady Bug

and a very long pan of the view from wind rock, hit it a week or two late and some of the leaves were gone from the trees but gorgeous none the less...

So as I mentioned earlier I managed to break a brand new bike, well how you ask? Well a few weeks ago I began the search for a single speed cross bike that would allow me to double up on race days (make that 800 mile round trip a better value). I wanted a race ready bike that I could buy, not have to build up and wait for parts. The Felt Breed fell into what I was looking for in the price range I could "afford." Well the mechanic whole built up the bike must have been hulk because as a mechanic I've never had such trouble removing a pedal, I'll go as far as to say they were seized. I finally broke them free and installed my preferred pedal, Crank Brothers - candy's. During a makeshift race at Tech on Sunday the pedal backed out on throughout the race w/o me noticing and finally on the 4 of 6 laps I stood on what most likely only were 2 or 3 threads holding the pedal in the crank and did a number on the crank.

Even though I broke my bike, you can't have a crappy day at a gorgeous place like Blacksburg!

So technically it's not forever broken just temporarily out of order, none the less I can't ride it. I did however finalize what the rest of my cyclocross season will look like

Oct 30: MSG race #5 - Johnson City, TN - SS and CX4

Oct 31: King College Cross - Bristol, TN - SS and CX4

Nov 6 & 7 - VA Tech Cross - Blacksburg, VA - SS and CX4

Nov 13 - MSG #6 Johnson City, TN - SS and CX 4<>


Mud, Sweat, and Gears (MSG) Cyclocross series races #3 & 4

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I was super stoked to have found this series as I wasn't especially excited about spending the weekend by myself in Alabama and the BamaCross series only had 6 participants Pre-reg'd combined in all categories. Races three and four of MSG were being held in Kingsport, TN one of the tri-cities (Bristol and Johnson City are the other two). Kingsport is a relatively short (140 mikes) drive to Blacksburg, VA compared to my 400 mile drive from Alabama. I worked through my lunches on Wednesday and Friday and got on the road around 2 Friday afternoon. I decided this weekend was an excellent excuse to make my way up to Blacksburg plus get a little racing in. After finally arriving around 9pm I got some shut eye, but not before washing all my cycling clothes.

I woke up early the next morning and headed to my favorite breakfast joint in town, Gillies restaurant. Breakfast was delicious especially because today was a special day, I turned 23 today. Having my race later in the afternoon was nice as it allowed me to be lackadaisical about getting out on the road towards the race. Around 11 we got on the road for Kingsport, a not so short 2 hour drive south. When i arrived it was the perfect day for bike racing, cloudless blue skies and perfect temperatures. I registered, pinned my number, and headed out for a warm-up. I got in a 20 minute warm-up before heading out on the course to see what i was in for. My first thought was.... Wow... It's really long! I was right, during our 30 minute race we only did 4 laps.

Note the blood on the leg. Very Pro. I fell before the race even started. Because of caution tape, and a bottle in my back pocket...oops.

On your mark...

...Go. (PS the chitlin in the picture doesn't look real enthused about being dragged to another cross race by her dad)

Barriers, missing dedicated cross practice at the VT rec. fields.

The course was pretty perfect in every other regard however. It had a pavement section, four sets of roller-coaster like hills, a set of barriers, and a nice log that if you weren't careful would introduce you to the ground very abruptly; I watched several others do it, and decided I would dismount for it. The most difficult section for me included the fly-over which was basically a giant ramp with 30 to 40 degree walls that required a good bit of momentum to get up, and a lot of concentration to not go ass over end on the way down.

I got a solid start and after a ridiculous pile up on fly-over during the first lap, the race was pretty much set in stone. I felt good but there's always room for improvement, 8th on the day of 37. Sunday was much of the same and didn't seem to have as much energy during the race, managing 10th of 38. I was happy with my performance and look forward to a whole lot more cross.

Apparently my Grrr face.

Post race FREE pizza and beer.

Sunday Michelle wasn't there but I stayed around to take photos of Justin C. and Reid race in the Pro/1/2 race.

Day 2, more clouds, less sun, more fun!

A better angle of the fly-over for a size perspective.

Justin C.
Justin at the finish.

Reid with a funny face.

Garmin Data from Saturday

Garmin Data from Sunday

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