Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cold Reality

Back to work tomorrow.  Just the thought of it is making me sick.  Cough.

I rode three times over the four-day weekend, which was nice.  The weather kind of sucked, though.  I know people ride in places like Minnesota or North Dakota in freezing temperatures and live to tell about it.  Some even claim to LIKE it.  Great.  Good for them.  I rode in temperatures ranging from the high 30s to low 40s this weekend, and I could only handle it for 90 to 120 minutes per ride.  It's just not that much fun.

One nice thing about the Thanksgiving weekend is the lack of cars on the roads.  While others were eating, watching football, recovering from hangovers or shopping in crowds, I was enjoying quiet roads.

I thought this old tin-roofed barn would look good in sepia.

So I head back to work tomorrow with a few miles in my legs and a clearer head.  That makes it a little easier, I guess.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

I made it out for a ride today in an effort to offset the food I would later eat, but in hindsight I don't think I rode far enough. I am currently uncomfortably full, and I'm pretty sure I still ended up with a caloric surplus for the day.

It was clear and sunny but barely 40 degrees when I left. It was my first real foray into cold weather riding this year, and I certainly didn't enjoy it. Summer is how far off?  Even with thick wool socks my feet quickly became cold and remained that way for the entire ride.

The trails were in good shape since it hasn't rained in a couple days. The north wind also did it's part to dry things out.

After a few hills like this one I am about to descend, there's no getting warm again. I hit 40 miles per hour just coasting.

This is just a shortcut behind some houses. Nothing exciting, but anytime I can put tire to dirt it's a great thing. Whatever it takes to get away from the cars.

This is a trail I rarely ride on, but only because it leads to a tough climb that I usually avoid.

It was kind of miserable while I was out there, but I'm glad I got out. Hopefully tomorrow it will be a bit warmer.


Monday, November 15, 2010

All the Leaves Are Brown

But the sky isn't the least bit gray today. Sometimes living in California doesn't suck at all.

The weather has been pretty stellar lately. After four days of good rides, tomorrow I get a day off.

In other news, yesterday was the last day of Fall Ball. Spencer hit the ball well every at bat, and even hit one over the first baseman's head. When he came up again, it was really cool to hear the opposing coach say, "Look alive; this guy can hit."

Getting ready to launch one:

I like this shot of Spencer on first and me pitching. We're watching a pop-up to third base.

Love this stance.  Perfect weight distribution:

That's about it. Later.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Next Weekend

The forecast calls for rain next weekend.  After last weekend's great weather for the Folsom cyclocross race, it looks like we're in for some mud in Lodi.  Hopefully it won't be as bad as it was in Niel, Belgium last weekend:

When conditions get sloppy, look for Sven Nys to dominate, as he has for years.  He's one bad mudder.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Race Report: Sac CX #3

After the early racing season fell apart due to my health, I really enjoyed a summer of riding without any purpose. I rode for the sake of riding, with no regard for speed or mileage or heart rate. It was nice. Unfortunately, riding without a purpose can leave one somewhat . . . fat.

When the scale tipped 170 late in the summer, the alarm bells went off. That's the number that usually freaks me out enough to get back to work. As fall came I started riding a bit more and stretching out the miles. The weight is slowly dropping, and I'm feeling better on the bike. Still, I am the type of person who needs a carrot to chase.

Yesterday the third race in the Sacramento Cyclocross Series was held right down the road in Folsom. I figured getting my ass handed to me in a race would be the motivation I needed to get serious about riding again.  Although I hadn't raced cross in a while, I wanted to give it a go.

I signed up for the race on Friday morning even though I am between cross bikes right now.  I threw together my old Miyata, which has been used mostly as an errand bike.  Because it was originally designed for 27" rims, I found I could run pretty big tires if I use 700c wheels and long-reach brakes.  I hoped it would get the job done.

The Sacramento series was a bit different when I left it in 2005.  Most of the venues were state parks around Folsom Lake—Granite Bay, Negro Bar, Dyke 8.  The courses were mostly dirt trails with a bit of asphalt.  Grass features were nearly non-existent.  On rare occasions when the turf showed up on a course, I complained.  I was always very slow on grass.

It seems the organizers have abandoned the state parks in favor of regional parks.  My assumption is the state parks simply became too expensive.

Yesterday's race was held at Lembi Park in Folsom.  Upon my arrival I was thrilled to see that the course had grass.  A lot of grass.  In fact it was almost all grass.  Slow, energy-sapping, soul-crushing grass.

Doug and I rode a warmup lap and arrived at the line only a couple minutes before the start, which meant we were at the back of our respective groups.  The 35+ B group took off and I was bringing up the rear.  It didn't matter, because even if I were at the front, most of them would have passed me anyway.

The 45+ Bs started a minute after us, and the leaders quickly caught me.  Not long after that, Doug caught me. I would have been really depressed about it had I not been fighting the urge to vomit.

Ex-Mercury pro Doug powers through the grass:

The course was pretty flat and slow (did I mention the grass?), and not very technical—nothing geared toward my cycling strengths. Some elevation change would have been nice.

My dismounts were a bit rusty, but on a slow course like this one it wasn't much of a disadvantage:

By the middle of the 45-minute race I had settled into a good pace, and I began to start picking people off.  Not a lot of people, but one here and there, enough to keep me motivated.

A photog managed to catch me looking somewhat coordinated.  Once.

At the end of lap three I was dismayed to see the lap card saying three more.  THREE more laps.
By the end of lap four I was slowing a bit.  After a quick drink I felt a bit better and started going after more riders.
My last lap was probably my best, but it was too little too late. I placed a disappointing 25th out of 36. Doug scored an impressive 11th out of 28 in his first cyclocross race.

In the end the 30-year-old bike did fine; it was the 43-year-old pilot that was holding the team back. My threaded headset did loosen up on me, which was pretty annoying.  The threadless headset is my favorite advancement in bike technology from when I first started racing.

Even though I didn't do well, I had a good time.  I plan on doing the next race.  I have nowhere to go but up.

Parting thought: When you're fit and fast, like Curtis, cyclocross is fun.

When you're fat and slow, it just hurts.