Friday, November 28, 2008

Post Turkey Day throwdown

A group of us met up at the still unbelievably named Hard and Flossie Clark Park in Collettsville to do the Maple Sally-Mortimer-Brown Mtn. Beach-Adako Rd. loop.  The route is about 90% dirt roads and goes through a very undulating series of wooded climbs and descents, dumping you out onto Brown Mtn. Beach Rd. where you rip back on a mostly descending road through Wilsons Creek Gorge.  It is a beautiful mini-epic ride.

It started off downright cold, but after a short bit the weather warmed up a bit and the ride was very comfortable.  At about the midway point, Jeff, Chuck and I stopped and I whipped out my flask of Earl Grey and shared some nice, hot tea and ate my pbj sandwich.  Ah, the civility of social rides!  Next time, I will endeavor to have scones and jam, maybe a bit of ham and cheese...  At the end, Paul Sullivan of Winskins, started talking about a Dec. 24th EPIC ride that he and Sonni Dyer of Studio 7 have dubbed the "Zig Zag loop".  This ride figures to be 80% dirt roads and features several significant climbs.  Not sure of an estimated length, but bringing a couple of meals would probably be in order.  I'll let you know more specifics as I get them so you can come join the fun!

A little something to help you through this 'cross-less weekend:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

happy thanksgiving!

The beginnings of the mushroom bread pudding to be served with the roasted pheasant.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weekend update

This weekend will be the NC Gran Prix UCI - C2 races on Saturday and Sunday.  Perusing the list of pre-registered elite men online has revealed the potential for a very exciting and competitive race amongst the big boys! The lowdown on the weekend's players thus far:

Jonathon Baker-(Vitamin Cottage) when not ripping the legs off of competitors in Colorado, he likes to do little things like top 10 at this year's 'Cross Vegas and race select World Cups in Belgium and the Netherlands in preparation for his run at this year's Elite Cyclocross World Championships.

Russell Stevenson (Redline Bicycles) - 2008 Washington Elite Champion

Jake Wells ( - this guy is crushing everyone in sight and likes the cold and nasty! Check out the pics!

Bart Gillespie (MonavieCannondale) - Bart is on the way to his 6th consecutive Utah Cyclocross Series Championship and looks to be able to bunnyhop barriers like nobody's business!

Phil Gaimon (Fiordifrutta) - The guy won this year's Mt. Washington Hillclimb, need I say more?

Meanwhile, my hope for a top 20 finish in the 2/3 race looks pretty good given that only 18 riders are preregistered at this time.  If it stays like this, I'm liking my odds at that top 20....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend report

A big weekend of results for the Orangemen of Sledgehammer Charlie's!  In Bristol, Jack Brown finished 4th in the CX4's, Jeff got 2nd and Todd ot 4th in the Master's 35+ and Todd finished on the podium in the singlespeed race.  On Sunday, the boys headed to Sandhell for round 6 of the NCCX series.  Jeff "Pou Pou" Welch finished 2nd in the Masters 45+ race, Jack Brown found the top step of the podium in the CX4 race and Chris Behrman erased the bad luck he's had with a strong 3rd place finish in the CX3 race.

My upgrade was approved today thanks to the very quick work of Vicki Lyons, USA Cycling ref.  Thanks, Vicki!  I am already preregistered for this weekend's throwdown in Hendersonville.  Two days of racing on a stellar course and getting to see the big boys chasing UCI points will be a great pre-Turkey Day treat.  Can't wait!  Now, we just gotta get Jack to upgrade...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

At long last

Today, I once and for all relieved myself of the inability to push through and win a bike race.  Having finally realized that I was beating myself more than anyone else was, I resolved that today would be my last race as a CX4 and that I would go out with a win.

I had this great, well though out strategy of what I was going to do and how I would execute a win.  Like every good race plan, this one was renedered null and void within 10 seconds of the word "Go!".  Two jokers rested in today's deck of racers as some of the Lees-McRae guys showed up.  These guys are no slouches and I knew once I spied the green and gold kit that they were the ones to watch and worry about.

My race plan was to make the lead group (duh) and then with 2 laps to go, to attack and try to hang on for the finish.  In previous races, I waited until too close to the finish to attack and slight screwups (i.e. attacking the ground with my body) were magnified into the difference between a win and an also ran.  I wanted this time to be different and so I was mentally preparing for all of the strategy necessary to accomplish my goal.

The ref said "Go!" and we all took off down the long opening straight in a grassy field headed for the tight, twisty technical section that lurked beyond the first turn.  I got the hole shot and headed into the technical section.  Because the course doubled back on itself several times, I was able to get a good look at the race behind me and how it was unfolding.  I saw the Lees-McRae guys stuck in traffic, saw that I had a gap and thought "Now or never".  I attacked right then knowing that I was trying to go clear from the gun and hang on to the end.  And sure enough, it worked.  For the first two laps, I had a 10 to 15 second advantage over a hard charging group of chasers.  Constant encouragement from the sidelines by Jeff and the Braswell clan let me know exactly how I was doing and what I needed to do to maintain.  Once the gap hit 30 seconds, I knew I just had to ride smart and the win would be mine.  More than anything, a sense of relief washed over me as I put my arms in the air and crossed the line.

Thanks to everyone for all of the encouragement; I couldn't have done it without you.

No more monkeys jumping on the bed

Finally, a W!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The big dip

Fatigue has set in and I can't seem to actually get energized.  Sure, I can muster little bursts of excitement, but sustainability is definitely lacking.  Not sure what is going on; I just hope I can snap out of it.  I'm banking on this weekend being the breakthrough that I am searching for.

Bristol is going to be my last race as a CX 4.  I will be upgrading following the race.  Jeff has been none to subtle in his insistence that I should upgrade, but I have some pre-season goals that I am trying to fulfill.  Going into the season, I wanted to podium a race and I wanted to win a race.  So far, I have 2 podiums, 8 finishes in the top 10, but no win.  Bristol is my last shot at fulfilling this goal as a CX 4 after that, I readjust my goals for my debut in the CX 3 class.  Unfortunately, my first 3 race will be the Hendersonville UCI race which is a 2/3 combined field.  Nothing like a good trial by fire to sharpen the senses and keep you aware of your fragile mortality.  Now that it is all out in the open, I feel much better and maybe Jeff will stop calling me a sandbagger...

Check out these great photos from the Dobson/NCCX State Championships (make sure you turn your sound up!).  See you Saturday!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NCCX #5 - Dobson, NC

Tthere are about a million things that have to go right in order to be in a position to win a bike race. When the stars align, you know it is your time. When they don't, you engage in an epic struggle with luck and fate, and that deck is stacked against you.
Today Jeff finished an impressive 3rd after suffering a flat and having to work his way back through slower traffic.
I did not feel the good sensations prior to my race, but once the referee said, "Go!", I realized this was a good day. Running up the barrier/run-up section in the lead group I realized that my front wheel was loose and in danger of falling out of the dropouts. I stopped to fix it and was passed by what felt like 100 or so racers. I drilled it, passing everybody back and making it to within 10 meters of the lead group. They dangled there, just out of reach for the next 20 minutes. I was ultimately pipped for fifth, finishing a hard fought 6th place.
This marked my last race as a CX4 in NC. Would have been nice to win, but sometimes Fate as other ideas.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lenoir Downhill

Owen rips the downhill. from Shawn Moore on Vimeo.

The Difference

There are contenders and there are pretenders. Which one are you? Jeff takes time to file his tires to prepare for tomorrow's NCCX state championships. See you there!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Hat trick

The Lenoir Cyclocross race was today.   A large turnout of racers plus some really warm weather made for a great day of racing.  The course was fast and not too technical, lending itself to some great tactical racing.  The Orangemen of Sledgehammer Charlie's Racing were in force in many of the days races with the most impressive lineup in the CX 4 race.  Jack Brown, Max Dyer and I punched it from the gun opening up a gap and driving hard at the front for 3 laps.  One non-Sledgehammer ramora fish got a good tow around the course until he decided to capitolize on his fresh legs.  Our hopes of a 1-2-3 finish were slightly disrupted and we finished 2nd (Max), 3rd (Jack) and 6th (me). 

The big news of the day was Jeff's breakout sprint victory over Randy Shields in the 45+ race!  Big props to Jeff on a big, big, well deserved W! Congratulations also to Nicole Thomas and her 3rd place finish in the Women's CX4 race!

The true madness on the day lay in the ability to do multiple races.  Scott Staley and I both did the Masters 35+, CX4, and CX3 races!  That is about 2 hours of 'cross racing!  Bob Pugh rode the 45+ and the CX3 race, Jack Brown the CX4 and CX3 race and  Howard Hesterburg rode the 55+ and CX4 race!

Now, I'm eating rice pudding with my feet up, trying to stay awake a little bit longer.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Nys kills it in Koppenbergcross despite a crash that dislocated his finger!  See you in Lenoir for Round 4 of the NC Cyclocross Series tomorrow!