Monday, November 28, 2022

11/27 Bubba 9 @ Spanish Lake, Masters, 2cd.

Great track and wet, muddy and chilly conditions made it what CX is all about! 

My first CX race ever was at Spanish Lake in 2007. I had spent the mountain bike season focusing on 12 hour racing and had a massive base but not much top end. Some of the A's that arrived that day were Harre, Nagy, Loudermilk and John Matthews. I ended up 2cd behind Harre, naturally, and had a great battle with Matthews which came down to a sprint.

I had tons of doubt about yesterday after a hard week of workouts and wasn't feeling too hot but was pretty motivated and started listening to some Kings of Leon and reminiscing about a day like this in 2008 and was seriously missing all my Mesa buddies that made that period in time so special. Not to mention that I had just met my soon to be wife and we went to McGurks most Sunday nights after the races, which was a beautiful thing. I get goosebumps just thinking about that CX season and being head over heels in love with my now wife. Fucking best ever. 

This year doesn't feel much different; I've got that same newness and motivation with CX racing after a long hiatus, everything else in my life is firing on all cylinders and while I do miss the Mesa team, I'm enjoying meeting a bunch of new folks and rekindling friendships that fell off when I stopped racing in 2010.  

The usual suspects lined up with a new face, J Doug, who I recognized from the Championship race last year and podiumed. I got a good jump and made it through the first turn first until the first 90 degree left hander and was passed by J Doug and Anthony who took off. Immediately this race went from the more civilized starts to all out attacks on the first lap. We all had taken our turns at the front and I jumped back on for the gravel descent. Once we hit the hill Anthony dropped the hammer and only I was able to respond. We had a gap which continued to grow as the race went on. Anthony gapped me on the hill on the 3rd lap and was able to maintain a 20-30 second lead for the rest of the race. At one point on the last lap I had closed it down to about half that, apparently he took a swim after the start finish, but we finished with the same gap and about 2 minutes or so to J Doug and Jon Bell. 

All in all I rode a pretty clean race and had good power, which I'm pleased with. I was able to power through the race without bogging down to much and had enough power to attack the hill on the last few laps. Good race. Looking forward to resting up a bit and seeing what I can bring to the Little Big Show next weekend. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

11/20 Bubba 8 @ Upper Creve Couer, Masters, 2cd.

Touch and go with a slight fever, general fatigue and sore throat on Saturday but not enough to pull the plug, I was a little under the weather on race day but not feeling too bad physically, just fatigued. The course was fun and super hard, probably would have been a blast by the time the A race rolled around and the lines were set. Someone raked the walnuts and leaves out of the first corner prior to our start, which was probably life saving. We were racing with Kukla again and Harre was 30 seconds back with the 50 plus, which makes things more fun. 

We started out relatively slowly again, which was fine by me, with Anthony in lead and Kukla and I in tow. I heard some carnage and Jon Bell was no where to be seen,  so assumed he got caught up in it. Unlike the weekend before at Faust, Kukla didn't let us ride away from him and the three of us navigated a pretty dicey course of leaves, sweet gum balls, off camber roots and more walnuts. Throughout the race they were raking and clearing but I never really felt like I was riding the lines right but somehow didn't make any big mistakes.

Jon Bell made a hard push to recover on the first lap and got pretty close but then the pace picked up a bit and it was just too much of a gap to recover from, apparently. We stayed a threesome for 2 laps and then Anthony pulled away a bit and I clung to Kukla and was suffering pretty good. I think I lost contact with Brian on the  last lap and was a good 20-30 seconds back from Anthony from about the half way point on. Slowly but surely Harre was laying waste behind us and passed me through the field and Kukla was able to latch on to him, if I remember correctly. 

Kukla stayed just out of reach with Harre ahead of him and I would guess Anthony finished a solid 30 seconds in front of me. All in all not a bad race, but also not a good race. I would have like to have been able to be a little more responsive to the changes in pace and have a better command of the course but it is what it is and that was a tough day at the races. Suck it up buttercup.

Monday, November 14, 2022

11/13 Bubba 7 @ Faust Day 2, Masters, 2cd.

The 30 degree wind-chill and sun felt almost warm compared to Saturday, but I opted for the same setup with some Hestra padded ski racing gloves I had which kept my hands warm but didn't help with shifting.

Another small group but this time we lined up with Brian Kukla, Anthony was present and Mike Morgan was in the 50 plus behind us. I remember him blasting by me on the first lap of the State Championship race last year and assumed that would be the case again today at some point. 

I was pretty exhausted from the effort on Saturday but my legs felt fresh, which was surprising.  I opted to do a more low key warm up and was ready to go. Anthony led the charge and I latched on. He tends to be pretty conservative on the first lap (which was our slowest by far) and  I was surprised that little gaps were already opening up to  Kukla and the chase group. For the first 3 laps Anthony ratcheted it up and things really began to open up. I was feeling great and wasn't having any trouble making the pace. Before we came across the gravel flat on the 4th lap Anthony urged me on and uncertain if he was fatiguing so I tried to hit the sweeping right hander after the pavement hard  and  put in an effort on the uphill to see if that was the case, which it wasn't, he just wanted to size me up surely calculating his move. I tried to keep the pace up and the net 3 laps were nearly identical with neither of us surrendering or making mistakes other than bouncing off some trees.

 I came though leading on the bell lap and thought he would try to outsprint me on the gravel, which he didn't and I tried to rail the sweeping right turn and turn the screws on the hill before diving back into the trees again even harder but he responded and allowed no gap. Coming into the barriers I caught him making a move and I was literally trying to remount at full running speed which cost me a hitch clipping in and he made a great move to ride me into the tape which killed my momentum. I had just watched videos of Sven practicing this and he Anthony did it to perfection. I got bogged down going through lapped traffic and he had a gap on the sidewalk section of a few seconds. I was going flat out and accidentally shifted to a higher gear on the uphill 180 and had to dismount and run like hell. That was it, I was completely gassed but didn't give up chase but, ultimately, I was completely schooled by his tactics. I reminded Anthony about the last time we had a race like this, which was also the last race I had won prior to yesterday.  Can't fucking beat it! Racing like this is everything I love about CX!

11/12 Bubba 6 @ Faust Day 1, Masters, 1st.


It has been a really long time since this happened, 12 years to be exact, and I couldn't be more psyched about it. 

It was cold with a 20 degree wind-chill and no sun. Cars from Illinois were covered in snow. We went from almost 80 the last weekend to this, so there was no conditioning.  I was most anxious about what to wear so I wouldn't cook myself but, as always, was really worried about my hands. I rode for 20 mins on Friday, and tried out two pairs of gloves and opted to go with a pair of neoprene gloves with liners underneath and embro on my hands, hoping the lack of breathability and moisture would warm things up. I think the last time I wore my thermal skin suit was probably for the State Championship race in 2008 and I most likely was wearing the same Craft wind blocker base layer, Craft zip base #2 and some woolies. I didn't have any Sportsbalm BKW and miss the smell, but greased up as I've had zero issues with my legs and feet. 

Another small group but Vince was there so I knew between him and Jon it would be a fast group. My general plan has been to ride defensively if Anthony is there and offensively if not so I went out strong and found I was feeling good. I was able to open things up pretty quickly but there was no way I was going to let off the gas after given my track record lately with issues. The pedals were ticking over pretty easily and I rode a nearly clean race, with no mistakes I can recall other than taking out a stake. I continued to push because I was feeling good and thought a little bit about letting up for Sunday but decided against it and managed to increase the lead each lap. I think I finished in about 38 minutes. 

After the race I realized my fingertips were a bluish black and was in excruciating pain, as I'm sure many others were as well but Reynaud's really makes cold/wet difficult for me. 

What I found most interesting was that my power and average speed from soloing Saturday and going toe to toe with Anthony for 7 laps on Sunday were almost identical. Super pleased I can push myself that way.

Friday, November 11, 2022

11/6 Bubba #5 @ Sylvan Springs No. 2, Masters, 2cd

 Another great course at Sylvan but this time with far less spots to catch your breath. Very demanding course with a lot of climbing, pure power and less floss than the first round there. Another week with a smaller goup of us which is fairly irrelevant other than the lack of tactics and races within the race to keep things interesting. We started with the lone single speeder, Brian Kukla, which changed the dynamic a bit because Anthony had a train to catch early, which he did. I stayed in contact through through most of lap two and then couldn't make the pace which led to a fairly lonely hurt locker for the remainder. 

After a little tire rubbing being overly anxious on the first lap I rode a clean race and found some power on the punching climbs, definitely related to the workouts I've been doing, which is good. I lost contact on lap two or so and after a short bit found myself in no mans land with what I would guess to be 30 seconds on both the lead and chase. This pretty much stayed the same the whole race but I was using less power as the race went on and I gained some efficiency with the lines. 

The training week before the cancelled race at Fort B, the supplemental workout for the race and the load the week leading up to Sylvan was pretty heavy and I think it probably left me a little flat so I was happy with how I did. New bike was great and I think the gain in bar height helps a lot. Going to be cold at Faust, time to bust out the BKW.

Friday, October 28, 2022

10/23 #3 @St. Vincent, Masters, 2cd.

 Can't believe I was able to find this video from 2009. I led the charge fueled by the Team Segal mayhem at the top only to tear a hole in a brand new pink silk Dugast tubie about half way through which sent me from the front to the back. There were some heavy hitters there that day. 

Apparently the years haven't been kind to the trail section and St Vincent and it's overgrown, which is unfortunate becuase that was a sick course. The course this year was bumpy, the surface was rock hard and there were only two brief sections for any kind of recovery. I definitely trained right thorugh for 3 weeks and everything felt hard but that's surely because Anthony and Harre were leading the charge and Jon Bell was pressuring me for most of the race.

I rode pretty well and had one wash out on lap one but nothing else really to speak of. Jon was pretty close up until the last few laps and I was keeping the same distance from Anthony for most of the race. At one point I gained on him a bit but it was short lived. Harre came though us a lap or two in and rolled though to win overall. 

Thanks to the help from the Hub I've got my new rig built up and it feels like I've got it close to dialed in fit wise. Amazing to me that the Fuji has significantly more aggressive geo than the Ridley. A slightly lower BB on the Ridley, different ST HT angles and I'm assuming a different rake make it more stable and predictable. Looking forward to getting more time on it in the woods tomorrow. Might be a wet one on Sun!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

10/16 #2 @Sylvan Springs, Masters, DNF.

 This one stings. 

Extremely hilly track with lots of technical turns. Given the fact that I only ride the Grants trail I wasn't expecting to feel like I had much for the hills, but was wrong. I knew I had my work cut out for me with Sweeney and Jon Bell there, a few faces I didn't know, and TK behind me.  We started without much warning and I jumped out quickly, but it didn't feel fast. Looking back once or twice up the paved climb I already had a gap and was second guessing how hard I was pushing but decided to keep the pace and see what happened. By the top of the hill on the backside Sweeney had caught up but I pressed on. Everything was clicking and by the top of the paved climb I had another gap, which continued to grow. At one point I say TK and his competition pushing closer but by the top of the paved climb on the next lap I had started the descent into the bowl and there wasn't anyone on the paved climb yet, so I assumed my gap was close to a minute. Just before crossing the line with 2 laps to go my mind began to wander and it crossed my mind that this would be the first race I had won since 2010 and felt a jolt of enthusiasm followed immediately by regret for thinking that before doing it. With 1.5 to go on one of the acorn turns before the descent back to pit I turned hard and the brakes jammed on as my rear tire had almost completely separated from the rim. That was that. 

I removed both tires, sanded the clear coat of the rim and have re-glued, with solid results. I've got a new frame coming from the UK in about 2 weeks and hoping to put the cursed Fuji behind me!

On to No. 3