Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Swayze Cyclocross Traveling Festival

Wednesday Cross as told about here, happened tonight. Good times, lots of laughs, even some searing lungs. Be there next week. The Ethos crew that is on hand is planning some Urban Assault riding following the races, you are welcome to come.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Cross more floundering around

Sunday was the kickoff Destad Series race, which was held in Sar Ko Par park in Lenexa. This Sunday was also the launch of Ethos Racing. After months of plotting and planning we had sponsors and jerseys and were ready to go. Ethos had five riders at the race, and it was cool to see the beginning of our team taking shape.
My race was not that fun for me. I had an even worse than usual start, I took forever getting around people, I worked my way up to 9th, and then I came unhinged, I just sat down in the shade. I was pretty frustrated but that is just what you get.
Travis rode his first cross race and finished 4th in the Cat 4 and then 11th in the Cat 3/4. JP Shores flew the Ethos banner to good finishes in the Masters and 3/4 race.

On the up side for me I did get a great week of training in for Moab and one final good push through this week and then chill a bit up to the race. There will be more cross attempts this coming weekend, a twofer at English Landing in Parkville. Try try again

Monday, September 21, 2009

KC Cup @ Swope Park

Since the initial time I pitched in some trail building hours over a year ago, I had been looking forward to yesterday. Racing on trails like phase I and II of Swope Park is, as you all know, what I like. Nothing about the day disappointed, it was all the fun I had anticipated.

The start of race was back down the road, where the race was yesterday. There had been some new trail cut in, some of which the cross race utilized, to get us back on to the main loop, and somewhat strung out before entering the woods. There were 42 experts taking off together, that just warms my heart, with the likes of Shad, Jeff Winkler, Craig and Scott the trail masters (and my teammates in a few weeks at Moab), Matt Gersib from Lincoln, Tige Lamb, Travis Donn racing his first expert race, among the rest.

I got off in a good position, I hopped around Scott at the first road. Craig was on the front sending the pace up, Shad was on his wheel then I was on Jeff's. We got into the actual trail and Craig was flexing his muscles early. Unfortunately the first decent claimed two rear tires and that was Craig and Scott's. Jeff let me around him up a bit more and I was soon on Shad's wheel. Shad was hurting me bad on all the pedaling, I was recovering in the rockier sections. Towards the end of the lap Shad bobbled at the base of a climb and I went around him. Popping out of the trail and continuing climbing up the road Shad was back on my wheel. I lead around the 2nd lap, Shad was always right there. Starting the third lap he went back around me on the pavement, and I set on his wheel. We were getting into a lot of lapped traffic, which was getting stressful, I never made the opportunity to go back around, looking back I should have tried somewhere before heading into Wudchuk Run, but I really did not have the energy. The highlight came as we started making our way down the final decent, He both boosted over this sweet little jump that I always look at but never fully commit to, Shad did it perfectly and I just mimicked him. We came out onto the road together after the long stair step climb, Shad reved up the pace and when he went into a sprint towards the line I went into a spin towards the line.

It was a great day of racing and I think everyone that was there was stoked. Like I said yesterday, I believe a long grand tradition has just begun.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Inauspicious Beginning

Cross World is here. Today marked the beginning of Cyclocross 2009-10. I do not yet have a cross bike but I did not let the details detour me. Actually I had not planned on racing today at all, but after a morning Spin Pizza ride and pulling in to see all the beautiful tape outlining the course and the barriers and all the people on bikes, I could not help myself. This was all on top of me having my customary fall allergy explosion and feeling pretty crappy, I did not expect much this weekend after they way I have been feeling, so why save myself for Sunday's race. I unloaded the Epic MTB and checked to make sure I could pop over the barriers without having to get off and headed to the start line. I went hard for a brief period but I felt horrible and just kept going slower and slower. Shadd Schriner rocked his way to the win holding off Mark Studnicki and Brian Jenson, well done Shadd. Even though I was a bit miserable riding it was still good to be apart of the proceedings and hopefully it blew some snot out of me to make room for oxygen tomorrow.

The first ever Swope Park MTB race is being held tomorrow. Hopefully a long tradition is getting its start.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stumpjumper Trail Crew

A few days ago Craig asked me what bike I was wanting to race next year, a topic I am always keen on discussing, and had been milling over myself on the interweb just the day before. "You know, I am thinking about racing a Stumpjumper." Not exactly what he was thinking I would say but none the less he listened as I told of the merits of bikes with loads of travel that only weigh what my hardtails did 10 years ago.

So yesterday he alerted me of this cool interweb contest of sorts to choose the members of the first ever assembled Stumpjumper Trail Crew, This looks right up my ally, so here I am officially throwing my name in the hat and making my case why I belong as one of the 8 founding members.

They are looking for avid mountain bikers who ride a lot. A lot is a fairly relaitve phrase, but I do not believe their are any circles of mountain bikers that would not consider the amount that I ride as a lot. A little snapshot of the past three days has my tally of miles aboard 4 inches of travel and tires wider than 2 inches as firmly over 150. In the greater picture I have consistently been logging miles in dirt for the last 15 years of my life, I have taken the wonderful opportunity to ride dirt pedal bikes in every corner of the country, on all manner of terrain, both riding and racing. I am an avid mountain biker that rides a lot.

They want people who can tell a good story. That will be a little harder for me to quantify. But I do have a few stories in my bag that sound good around a campfire. Do you want to hear about the time Amber and I were four wheel drifting corners in a deluge of rain to get down to the Mah Da Hey trail in North Dakota, only to discover the next day we were on a knifes edge ridge with death plummets on either side. Or the time I was racing in Steamboat Springs in a 24 hour race and got blown of my bike by lightning. I like my story of my first 12 hour race in Nebraska, Amber, Her Dad, and I-with a collection of crappy lights, a half a loaf of bread, some peanut butter. I also like the story about my Dad and I sleeping in the airport in Vancouver. I have a nice little tale of riding on the Navajo Reservation and coming across people living at in the middle of NOWHERE offering me food and tea. There are plenty of stories from my first 27 years of life, there should be many more to come, and I feel I am pretty decent at telling them.

Now it does look like I may be a little more racer boy than they are looking for here in this group, and I will never claim to be otherwise. Even though my legs are not shaved and I log a lot more hours on fat tires than skinny I believe in racing. At its most basic level it is an all out trail ride with good friends, the more complex element involves combining your values with long term projections, making a plan and then laying your soul on the line to see what your made of(that all can be a frightening prospect, and may never overcome). I believe I have a balance between the different sides of racing, and the MTB industry would do well to take a cue from myself and my many racing mates on how to throw down and still keep our world attractive to the outsiders looking in.

I also fit right in on the trail care side if the coin. My father and I initially created the trails that have mutated into Lake Wilson's supreme dream ribbon. Myself and my trail partner Bob Behrens scratched in a network of trails along the Arkansas River in Great Bend, KS. And now that I am in Kansas City I have put many hours into the beginning of the masterpiece that will be Swope Park. There is absolutely nothing that gets my crank turning like Swope Park-the future is so exciting for the miles and miles of steep rocky root infested trails that will be smack in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri.

Specialized wants riders that can lead group rides. I think I am well qualified in that regard. Currently I lead 3 rides a week for Spin Pizza, and every weekend we do not race put together a small band of rangers to assault either Landahl or Swope. I also guided in this cool little mountain biking location called Moab, Utah for 6 months. This is a duty I can perform at a high proficiency level.

Specialized wants riders that respect and our respected by their mountain biking peers. I know how hard I have worked so that I can feel I have my place in our greater mountain bike community. Anyone who I witness take the time and make the effort to really live out what they love in bikes is a friend of mine. I can not speak for everyone out there but I believe they feel the same of me. If that is true of you reading this I would appreciate you leaving a note in the comments for me to prove this to Specialized's Stumpjumper Trail Crew assembly team.

There is my pitch, I will hope for the best, which is hands loose on the bars, elbows bent, hips floating over the saddle, left foot leading, bike leaning subtly inside, eyeing the outside bank in the bench, that should give you just enough time to straighten it up to bump jump the root garden just ahead.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Binder Lake and a long weekend

It rained in Kansas City all day Friday and radar showed clouds swirling above Jeff City. A few phone calls and we found out it was nothing more than clouds. Travis and I set sail on I70 Saturday morning. We arrived at Binder Lake around 10:30 for the noon -six race set to take place. A little drizzle greeted us and made the lower sections of the course a touch greasy, nothin to complain about though. Good Ol' Le Mans start, I was to my bike third and into the trail first with Chris Ploch in tow. We quickly were by ourselves motoring along. After a little creek crossing and hard left I slipped out and Chris took the lead. I followed him around the first lap until he handed off to Tom Albert. Travis and I planned on doing two laps in a pull, so I followed Tom until half way around then I went around him and built up a 1 minute lead or so. Travis smoked out his first lap and Chris just briged up to him and came in 20 seconds or so ahead of Travis. Travis reeled it back in on Tom, and with Chris and I headed out we were deadlocked. I followed Chris the entire lap, I was feeling good but the pace was defintly quick and taking a toll on me. When Chris passed back to Tom I tried to keep the pace rolling and went around with the intention of giving Travis a healthy lead. It was working as I had built around 2 minutes at the half way point, but little teaser cramps were shooting up my left leg. The harderst climb on the back half put me over the top, full on gracilis lock down. I spent a couple of heart sickening minutes pulled over trying to get it to relax away. After what felt like an eternity it did, I limped in the mile and half that was left and dejectedly handed back off to Travis. Travis tore into his lap and kept the damage minimal until on his forth lap he found himself pulled over, cramped up. He came in and we smiled and laughed and he called out as I took off, "How about one lap at a time." Sounds good. With a steady diet of stretching, massage, and bio freeze, I was feeling better but was still a little gun shy about tearing into the lap with everything I had, I poured in a little juice and still turned a decent lap. Travis went out for his last lap, and I told him to make sure and get around quick enough to send me out for one more. He did, with time to spare, and I got to go out and rally around in the woods once more. The course was sweet, and it was beautiful in the trees, I really enjoyed my final lap.
Chris and Tom kept the gas on the whole time and finished 10 minutes or so ahead of us, it was a blast having them to chase. I hope we get to do it again soon.
And speaking of gas on the whole time, Jeff Winkler, on a six inch travel Scott roosted everyone in the solo class by MILES. He finished only a couple of minutes behind Travis and I. Holy Crap was he flying, it was one of the most impressive sights I have seen at a bike race this year. Hats off to Jeff.

Having Monday off we had a nice little gathering at Landahl. It was slick on the rocks but still a blast. My crashes always come in pairs, and after last weeks tree kissing I thought I was off the hook when I kept it upright at the race. Landahl delivered on my dualist fate, A stupid flop over on my shoulder and hand is making right side endeavors rather challenging. Luckily I was able break into the Peanut Butter this morning using my legs and left hand. I should be feeling better soon, but not right now.
Swope is two weeks away, and then Cross Season begins. Keep up

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cruise the Blues

Cruise the Blues 2009 is in the books. It was another Epic year on the farm. 178 racers made there way out to somewhere east of Tipton, Kansas to the Palen family homestead, to take on their choice of the 6 mile joy course or the 13 mile glory course. My racing partner this year was Travis, who was this time leading us off at the start of the race. We gathered in the cow pins with our respective class racers and a local boy sang the Star Spangled Banner acapella while we watched a small flag blowing in the Kansas breeze, it was a pretty surreal moment, and I am pretty sure that I was not the only one who looked around at the sight and thought, "only in America."
Travis turned in a sold 56 minute lap and put me out on course third after Mike Marchand and my Dad just ahead. I caught my Dad in the opening trees and caught Mike a few miles later. I pulled away from Mike in the trees but he would flit back up to me out in the open fields. Travis did another 56 and put me back out still in the lead and growing. Always at this race I can never breath on the first lap and on the second lap I felt much better. I was not going much faster but I felt a lot better doing it. That lap ended up the fastest of the race at 52:34 and I was told was a new course record. Travis once again went out and did another 56 to finish his shift. I went into my third lap feeling good and ready to bust out my last one, then it went south. I was about to the U-turn in the first creek section when I called out to a buddy I was coming up behind and then clipped my handlebar on a tree, jerked the bar sideways and I hit the tree, then I hit the ground hard. It all happened really fast and I was more than a little stunned. I quickly took inventory and everything checked out to be in rideable shape, just knocked a little sideways in a few places. I was OK but the inside of my leg took a pretty good shot and it was painful to keep on. I rode hard on, but with a couple miles to go the leg I hit was cramping and I had to slow down and pedal with one leg some. I finally got in and we hung on to win, but it was not how I wanted to finish it up, and boy have a been sore since Saturday.
Travis and I were joined by our wives who raced in the glory class as well and rode quite well to finish second in their race. We danced and enjoyed ourselves at the after party and limped back over to Beloit, Kansas to stay the night and begin recovering.
Don't any of you miss this race, it is just plain cool.