Happy New Year

I'll get around to posting about CX Nats and stuff since, but for now:
Happy New Year to all of you.



Should I resolve to be a better blogger? To post a bit more often?
How often should one update a blog?
What kind of things do you find interesting to read about?

Let me know what you think.

In the meantime, when I again have better connection...I'll post up a bit more about Nats.
Maybe a bit of year end reflection?

If the blog continues....it is overdue for a facelift.


Kansas City CX Nationals (KCCX)

Photos courtesy Andrea Tucker

Weather has been something else for this year's National race. Each day has had its very own character. Friday was mud over icy ruts after the a.m. races have mostly icy ruts. Sunday looks to be most like Saturday: icy and cold, maybe another dusting of fresh snow.

Friday was the race I've really trained for since Iron Cross. That's when I decided I'd do the rest of the CX season and aim for a trip to Nats.

The weather has made the course a bit more demanding as it was superbly muddy. Slick. Not a fast power course but much more a technical finesse course. A very good day at the races. Made the bronze podium step!

Maybe more later, connections are hard to come by with all the racers here. But then again...I'm slow on the blog front. Didn't ever get to posting the snowy KissCross / Holland race. That was fun too.


State USCF CX Race

Weather forecast: perfect for CX racing! It's been super nice all season so it's finally bringing some appropriate CX weather.


Early in the race:


Super course, absolute blast of a race. The snow, mud, fog, goo and all of our intensity made for one exciting race. Thanks to everyone, including all of you who raced and all of you who cheered us each on. More cowbell.

Photo thanks and credits to Steve and Matt


CX: Does it get any better than this?

Sunday? Must be time for some CX!!! Time to make good use of an opportunity to do a pair of races in large fields. Off to GR for some KissCross, yes, the home of racing for beer. Founders mind you.

What a blast. The course: Start, hard right around the pool house switching from pave/brick to dirt to grass, around some fenced area, 180 degree around a tree (and its roots) directly into the first pair of barriers. Some flat twisting grass stuff and bam: in the face wind on a long pavement section, hook left onto some two track, a bit of mud and water, some singletrack, a couple of nice patches of sand, grass, fast stuff, then the climbing. A nice little bump (Danielle, is that where I almost put you in the stairs? It's all a blur), gradual rise to take the edge off ya, a 90 around a tree and that's that where three (or was it nine) logs to run over and then run to the 'top' (read fake flat) to remount only to have the final climb left. Over the top, off the back side with a 90 left around loads of roots on to the whoop of the course: off camber and downhill to the next ride em cowboy 90 off camber, up hill, downhill off camber turn one final sweeper and haul butt baby and charge for the pines. Take those too tight and it's a face full o' limb but what a line! This section ruled. A couple of quick turns and right at the pond on the slick stuff (glad it wasn't real wet) and ground hog field to the final choppy sidewalk, one last set of barriers in the sand. A fine uneven section of broken pavement and dirt to remount on and a short sprint for the line.

B Race: there were 50-60 of us. Super cool. Had a good starting spot and got a pretty good start. Loads of riders and lots of fun ensued. It was over all too soon. I was 14 or 15th. Cool. Second gal (Danielle was up ahead).

Nikki from the Huntington Challenge came up for the race. She's been bit by the CX bug. Andrea and Chris from Lansing. A couple other new faces. Shivering. Glad to line up for the second feature.

A Race: Took a spot that I thought we be near the back of that group. Turned out to be three-quarters back or so. Ended up being about right. More madness ensued. I remember thinking that the first five laps of this race didn't take much longer than the original five. Otherwise it was mostly a blur. The off camber section was shaping up nicely and the two tree 'wraps' were getting darn near 'flowie' by then. I was in the low 3os for a finishing spot. But the real deal was having done a pair of these in a day. Wow. Danielle was great company to have out there for the rinse/repeat too. Don't know if any of the guys did a double.

Overall great day. Super course. Huge incentive to make sure you grabbed a wheel before the wind/pave section. Making time on the singletrack and sand. Sweetness.

Just a few short weeks of CX season left.


Thanksgiving and into the weekend

Those of you who know me understand the whole just add trees thing and mountain biking. This year has been so much better.

Thursday we had a bit of snow and it was like winter wonderland out in the woods. Coming out of a wooded section to be eye level with a field of frost and mist? Awesome. Another section of trail littered with wild turkey (I'm sure they were happy to be alive). Saturday went back for more. Did a couple hours on the mtb and then back out for some tune up on the CX bike. Great times


CX Season: The best time of year

Been bad about posting, writing about racing, etc. I've missed the CX season most of '05 and all of '06. Suffice it to say: I'm REALLY enjoying being out there racing again. Fun. Added in the mix is the fields are larger which makes the racing even more fun. Vets Park was a dbl. event weekend.

Sunday was even livelier with a keg of beer. Located near the run up, the "lubed" spectators provided the healthiest cheers for Battista as he took a beer per lap! Add cowbells, dogs, and some trombones, it was a blast.

Photo from Sunday's race is courtesy of Matt McCluskey.


Fun with Iron

This is great, check it out.
It's Liz Schleeper's fun with Iron Cross


Iron Cross V

Perfect weather and the course conditions were awesome. What a great day. This was my third time racing here and far and away the best set of conditions.

After almost missing the start of my last CX race I wasn't going to manage to do that for this one. The group that organizes and puts on this event do a super job. They really want to make it a great event. We asked if the women could have a separate start with a good time gap off from the men's fields. Done deal. It was great. Made the opening trip around the CX course the most fun it has ever been. Left that section of the course in the front trio. Stayed there for most of the lower section of the long climb before my traditional slide back into the field got started.

Mixed it up with the TriPower gals, Liz and Carol as well as one of the YBR riders off and on. Separated a bit and then rejoined Carol after WigWam (powerline hike). On the fly down the fast road Carol wisely stopped to check out what she thought was the turn. Um...it was. I was down the road a mile in a hurry only to have to climb back up. My fault as the course was really marked the best it ever has been. Had to get my head 'settled' after that 'tactical' error.

Powered up the seemingly endless climb after CP3 and very thankful I'd swapped out my drivetrain for some lower gears. Paula had a dark patch of riding in here and walked a bit. After the nastiest of the gravel 'road' descents it was blast by CP4 and into the singletrack again. Pushed on to try to make up more lost time in here. Ended up riding with a group, cleaning most all the track in this section. One more short hike and it was upward toward the gravel road that would soon hit the fast pavement.

Frustrated that I was here with all these riders rather than slightly up ahead (due to my course extension) I was determined to make a break for it. One by one each rider started to get off and walk. One rider remained ahead of me. She was slowing on this singletrack hill. I encouraged her to stick with it (as well as wanting to let her know I was right on her wheel). She dabbed just a few seconds later. I veered left to avoid her, over a small log, and back on up the rest of this track. Onto the gravel. It was time to motor with what was left.

Soon it was the turn onto pavement and a super downhill run. 40+ mph a left at the T-intersection. This left two large rollers and one small between me and the finishing circuit of the CX course.

As I blasted up the drive into the Y, Josh from DC was there, having finished just a few minutes earlier. It was almost too much fun to go through the 'death spiral' one final time to get to the finishing set of barriers. As I came off the bike to run them my legs cramped and I almost ended up ON the barriers rather than going over them. A quick turn of the legs and it was over the barriers and the finish line. What a great way to spend a day.

It was super, I took huge amounts of time off my last race there and slotted in tenth for the day. Paula came in just a few more minutes. Jason....well, he was hurting a bit and rolled in a bit later. Danielle had super race as well. The terrain is great, scenery beautiful and the folks at the event are superb.

Excellent fall day, lots of fun and a very well run and supported event. It's a ride/race you need to put on your calendar for next year.


Iron Cross

Weather is shaping up to be super this weekend. The PA turnpike was 80% under construction but traffic still flowed. I'll be enjoying the race course tomorrow so much more.

Today is the CX mini relay with Danielle and Paula.

Looking forward to a fun weekend.


What's coming up

Here are a couple shots that Mr. Kisscross took in 2004 when we were at Iron Cross. It's gonna be fun!!!



Ever have one of those wrenching sessions where it seems you're doing everything twice and the end result isn't 100%? Just had one. Simple enough, set up the CX 9-spd, wide range rear, der. swap. Ended up having to replace both cables from the shifter, cut the chain too short in the event I have a mental lapse and cross chain, shifting just isn't as crisp as I like it. It's just a bit noisy and not quite as quick on the shifts as I like. Okay, so I am spoiled by 10-spd, less to do with that than the short reach/small hand levers on 'em. Dislike making major changes like this the week before a long race but didn't want to mess with a fine running bike before yesterday's race.

Here's to it coming together this week.

Riding Racing Riding Racing

Ah, fall has come. That means it's cyclocross time.
I'm finally out racing again. Very glad to be back at it.

This past month has been a super fun two-day race in the rural burgs outside of Ft. Wayne. A pair of 70 milers. Nice mix of road, gravel and mtb trails. A few water crossings and what seemed like miles of barrier tape strewn through a half dozen county parks. Super fun race.

The other weekend was a local race. We rarely have those so it was a treat to catch the Kisscross race at Adado Park. I did a loop of the local mtb trail, biked into town, did the CX race, more road time and finished up the day with more trail time. Getting ready for the trip to Iron Cross. Danielle and Paula are both going. Get to see some other folks I've not seen for a few years on this trip too.

Yesterday was an eastside USCF CX race, Stony Creek. Insane heat for CX. NOT very CX-like at over 90 degrees.
Danielle came along for the race too. Nice to have company for the trek over to the race and back. Paula stopped by to watch and help drink the Bells Oberon that made this CX race complete. So maybe the heat wasn't so bad after all? Taking third made for a great start.


Borrowed Content & Inspiration

Today's inspiration comes from none other than the author of Frazz

Some people train so they can race; I race so I can train, so the all-important workout doesn't get shoved to the back burner so easily. Nothing inspires like knowing you're going to get your butt kicked in the next race if you don't train. The fact that I get my butt kicked anyway is completely beside the point.

-Jef Mallett, a former bike racer and current triathlete and cartoonist. His strip, "Frazz," appears in 150 newspapers across America.

This inspiration is all the more key right now as training time has gotten run over by work. That which makes the biking possible. At least the work stuff ought to clear out a bit faster than the broken bones of the past two years!

The pic from this CX blogger



Been working loads. Trying to get in a bit of riding.
Meanwhile check out what I have been seeing a lot of days on my way to work. Rarely get Sandhill cranes around here. Very cool.


Iron Cross Plus

This remind anyone of a climb in an early edition of Iron Cross?

See more vintage CX history here. Now that's cyclocross! No tame city park riding.


Specialized Shoes

Liked the road version so much that I picked up a pair of the carbon mtb shoes. They got a really nice test at the Lumberjack. SWEET. If you're looking for a roomy toe box (height) w/o excess width these are super.

Deer in the woods

So I've been a tad lame about blogging. Back into that mode of thinking about dumping this thing.

Tour: I've never watched or read so little about it in years. The last few stages though have drawn me back in a bit. The TT today was good.

Been riding in the woods a lot of late, fun. Been so dry the trails are hard pack and fast. Almost hit a deer out there yesterday.

CX season is sneaking up fast.


Lumberjack 100: Badger rolls with me to 9th

The race for me has to have been the single hardest ride I've ever done. And yet, it left me feeling really good. Having met my major goal (making the distance) and one of my minor goals at the race was a huge plus. Finishing 9th (and had I been paying attention it would have been 8th) was a super bonus. In some ways I think making it to the event and completing it this year meant more to me than it could have in prior years. It was a great day and a lot of the Badger and Founders Ale crew were there. Rick Plite : Mr. Kisscross once again organized a stellar race. He does a super job. He's already getting the CX series lined up. Dennis was my stellar pit crew. Kept me fed and cleaned up each lap. Was ready with the ice water for the head each time through too.

One Liners:
- Solo sub six road century on Tuesday and then the Lumberjack ultra Saturday
- Chris Eatough/Trek: rolls through finishing three laps not too long after I've finished two. He's an animal at 6:49 for the race. Danielle Musto/Slingshot at 8:47 for the women!
- I must have a sign on my butt that reads "draft me" based on how many guy's took a long draft
- 65% completion rate for all riders
- One blister from shifting so much for so long
- Triceps that I hope become strong in relation to the degree of ache during and after the race...BUMPY day and one slightly sticky fork.
- Sit bones that are a bit sore. The Badger 29er did a great job taking the sting out of it
- Longest I've ever spent on the bike in one day, let alone a mountain bike

The bike was just a bit dirtier than me when it was over.

One very cool experience. I think I'll have to do another one of these.

Syd (Badger) took 4th including almost a 30 minute time out after leading into the pits after her second lap. Lack of fluids got to her. She rallied back and hauled to make a great finish. Sydney has been tearing it up both on road and off. She should be flying by CX season.

(Founders) railed on the SS. She's been doing a bunch of the 100s and it shows.


Badger / Cannondale Caffeine 29er head to head

Last week the Cannondale demo truck was working its way through the state. The ever welcoming and cheery Jason E. was manning the truck. I'd popped over to the trail and ended up taking Jeff B. on his maiden Burchfield loop. He selected a Rush for his tester and I took out C-Dale's 29er offering. Have to say that Lefty fork is sweet. The demo bikes have WIDE bars on them so that made things a bit unusual for me in the handling department. Shod with Nanos this bike flew. I rode the rock garden and more. It is a very nice riding bike. I was quite impressed. This rode and handled lighter than it lifted. The front end was easily brought up over things and the rear stayed hooked up.

Next loop it was back onto the Badger. This bike has a slightly shorter wheelbase (matches my 26" bike) and higher bottom bracket. These are nice advantages on a trail like Burchfield with its tight/twisty sections and logs. The Cannondale rolled that stuff wonderfully but I had to watch for catching the chain ring.

My body position is also better on the Badger (better weight distribution) and I'm more comfortable on it. Part spec is better too. The C-Dale 29er is an able ride in want of a couple of upgrades. But at the price point is one fine ride, a custom frame alone can surpass the cost of the trail-ready Cannondale. If I was shopping for my first 29er today, they'd get serious consideration. The ride of it was much nicer for me than the GF29er.

Thanks to Cannondale, Jason E. and Jeff B. for a fun ride. Props to Rob Pennell/Badger for the fine frameset he built me.

Next up; FS 29er review or Lumberjack 100 report. Check back!


MTB Riding and Racing Again

Yes, I'm back on dirt. Been missing it. The confidence is starting to return and I've been putting in more miles off road than on. I like to 'escape' to the woods, it is quieter there. Road is fun but there are just days I want to be on the trail.

A XC race a few weeks back and last weekend was a mtb stage race. Super fun. The Badger is one smooth riding frame and the big wheels sure add to that.

Big thanks to Steve Balogh for the pic


Vintage Ride Anyone?

My first mtb...
classic lugged steel
one long wheeelbase

Pro Cycling: When did it get so ugly?

Seems this is the face of Pro cycling today. I've lost most of my interest in following the Giro. Not like cycling is spanky clean. It has it's history...but the past decade?

This IS a true face of cycling.
Greg LeMond. My earliest inspiration to ride.
A poster of this race scene hangs in the basement/workout room. Those hours on the trainer in the winter...it keeps me going.

Here are today's real racers


Brilliant Traffic Engineering

This one comes from the UK.
"One of the most important factors in maintaining a cycle-friendly environment is to control vehicle speeds. Derbyshire County Council were so concerned about the excesive speeds reached by cyclists riding uphill ... that they introduced these novel cycle lane speed humps. Initially, there was a concern that speeding cyclists might simply ride on the road to avoid the humps... the scheme has been effective in keeping the mean speed of cyclists below 20mph."

You can find more of this unfortunate cycle route planning 'humor' here.


Comfy Road Shoes / Specialized Body Geometry

Having worn Sidi shoes for years I decided it was time to check out Specialized's Pro Carbon road shoe for women. These have proved to be super comfortable and fit great. Toe box is roomy but not overly so if you have narrower feet. They have all the Body Geometry ergonomics and carbon soles. The ratcheting strap has a screw that allows you to move the strap closer to your ankle or toe (three settings). Easy to do. Helps dial in the fit. The usual ratchet strap and two additional Velcro ones get the job done. The uppers breathe and are supple, durable (so far) and light. You can tune the fit more via Specialized's series of insoles.

These get a check em out rating if you're shopping shoes. Another big plus, in the carbon sole shoe range, they cost a lot less than the others.


Hard to Imagine

Just last week....riding in this beauty.
The snow and tenacious winter here has lost its welcome.
Ready for spring to come back.


One sweet ride!

This is the sweetest riding road frame I've ever been on.

It's going to be a hard daily choice what to ride: road or 29er. For the next week it'll be LOADS of road. Blue Ridge Mtns.

Where can you find that concrete turkey: on the road to Arrivaca (sw of Tucson, AZ).


Concrete critters

In keeping with past posts from bike-related travels I've yet another roadside 'animal' for your viewing pleasure. I'd offer a prize for the first person to identify where this bird lives but not sure yet what that prize might be. But don't let that stop you from guessing.


Speaking of simplify...

Been thinking yet again of stopping this blog thing. Maybe at some point moving it over to a small web site or not. There is sort of a community thing, the circle of bloggers you keep up with via reading the blog vs email or phone. But it all takes time.

The sands of time ignite urge simplify?

I've been on a real 'cleaning' bent....getting rid of things, giving some things away, moving out lots of bike parts that oh, sort of collected (bike stuff, a real favorite). This gem is on its way to a new home in Seattle.

Just seem to be on an early modified spring cleaning bent. Not totally sure about the origin of it. Maybe a bit of mental release. I'm still slowly realizing that is was ten years ago that the whole gradually accelerating parent care thing started. I guess when the grains of sand drop on you one by one you don't notice how deep they've gotten around you. A couple weeks back I felt better when I woke up than I had in over two years. It was startling to me. So here's to a fresh new year! I'm ready for spring.


Staying Cold

Winter deep freeze. Some of the drivers were real impatient to get on
the road this a.m. so their windows were all frosty. I'm going to
assume that's why I was faced with a car going the wrong way on a one
way today while heading to work. It'd be a bit late for someone to be
heading home from the bar.


Zanier Heated Gloves do the job.

Been working, training and not much time to blogging. Sleep has been scarce too.

I have had the chance to really make use of my super cool (er hot) Zanier gloves. This was the warmest gift I've ever received. If the weather doesn't turn I may start wearing them around the house too.

The gloves have rechargable NiMH batteries. The three heat settings provide 86 degree heat for 10 hours, 98.6 degree heat for 4.5 hours and 131 degree heat for 2 hours.

In the past I've used lobster mitts and charcoal packs, more liners and still ending up with funny colored numb digits. These heated gloves have been really nice for long road rides when the windchill was 15deg. or XC skiing in our recent weather.

If you have from Raynaud's Syndrome these are a super help too.

Stay warm!


Winter arrives

No real news for most of you...winter has shown up all icy too. This past weekend was a bit of a travel and some winter trail hikes. Chillin' and getting ready to ramp back up.

Signed up for Syllamo's Revenge. Maybe turn it into a bit of travel/trail week.


Sweet Riding & a Poll on Why Blog?

Wow, nice to be doing three hour rides outside here in January! LJ came this way and we hooked up with E-man, a couple of collegiate racers and tri racer. Good pack and plenty o' pain for the day. Overcast skies much of the ride, 38 deg and wind that shifted around to be in our face a lot today...but it was dry. We finished up before the snow came today. Is winter really going to show up? Looked more like Christmas today.

Polling: Why do you blog?
Speak up about the whats-n-whys of your blogging.


Riding in an Awesome New Year

What have I been up to besides WAAAAY too much computer updating at work?
Another winter ride without snow and just a little bit of rain. The wind? Well it sure what sweet on the return. The ride was with these two:

Check it out here

Ignore the hobbit in the pics...