5/26/10

Ahead of Last Year...

Three days of faculty meetings, workshops and retreats are about three days too many. And I just finished with all of that. I think summer is actually here for me now, and I am cooked before it even begins. I need to sleep for a couple of days and get things done around the house/garden/lawn/garage/basement and what not.

In terms of bike racing....the year has started out with more participation from me than last year. Compared to last year at this point, I had not even finished an XC race until June 7 (due to 2 DNF's and May Term in France), I am ahead of that this year having just completed my 4th race of the season. Yay for no DNF's!!!!

Sunday was the IMBCS #4 at Summerset State Park on the Banner Pits north side of the park trails. 5 laps for CAT II's in the sweltering heat and humidity was on tap since the south side (Riverside) trails were too muddy to include in the race. The Riverside trails are flat and offer a bit of recovery from the short power climbs the north side throws at you. Without the Riverside trails, we were pegged lapping the north 5 times in a row.

I rode the Dos Niner, but by the 4th lap it didn't matter what I was riding. I was in survival mode and had pretty much lost track of what lap I was on thanks to the heat, humidity and effort. I went out pretty hard at the start to get in the singletrack in the first bunch (dozen or so) and tried to hang on with the front pack during a good part of lap 1. That cooked my goose and my legs were empty starting lap 2. The rest of the race was a battle of will to just finish for the satisfaction of finishing. I crossed the line on the 4th lap chatting with William Stone as we were both riding about the same pace. We headed into lap 5 together and I saved the final pavement section for a sprint to the line in hopes of besting him. I no longer have a 42T ring on the Dos, so with my 40T big ring and the small cog in the rear, I ran out of gears and was like a hamster going furiously in his wheel in the cage. I came up about a half a bike length too short at the line even though my legs had more in them, but just not the right gears!!!! Oh well, not that one place difference makes any difference for me. I haven't seen the times yet or what place I rolled across the line, but I think I was out there about 1:45 - 1:50 which is a nice lengthy CAT II race.

Edit: 1:47:02 for 8th Place in CAT 2 Open.

Summerset Shootout

I got a few minutes nap after I got home. Not enough before I had to shave and shower to head up to Des Moines for the 6:30 p.m. final performance of South Pacific at the Civic Center (Broadway National Tour that was passing through town). Tara wanted to see it as her Mother's Day gift, so I got tickets up in one of the front rows a few weeks ago for this performance. The big treat for us was to see and hear Rod Gilfry as Emile de Becque. He was worth the wait and blew the rest of the cast off the stage. There's a reason he is one of the most famous operatic baritones in the world and it was nice to see him in the middle of this Broadway show. He's got looks, voice, acting talent and follows in the traditional footsteps of that role being sung by a opera singer after Ezio Pinza debuted the role on Broadway with Mary Martin back in 1949. We saw Justino Diaz do the role at New York City Opera back in the late 80's, so it has been quite some time since we've seen a live performance of South Pacific. Bottom line: It was great!

5/21/10

The new JET is in and built....

It took a full 9 months from the time I broke my JET on August 29th, 2009 until today to get the recalled/warranty frame from Niner and build up the 25 pounds of sweetness again. The new fork arrived yesterday, so I built it up this afternoon (since school finished for the year around 3 p.m. for me) and headed out for a 2 hour ride. Yummy!

Birthday

Newborn

I'll tinker with it tomorrow to get everything dialed in and take it for a couple of loops at Banner to get ready for Sunday's race.

Graduation tomorrow morning. Tell me I'm looking forward to sitting in academic regalia in a hot gymnasium as 400+ walk the plank knowing the sun is shining outside and everything I've been waiting to do for months has to be put on hold for one more day....

I guess I forgot about the three days of faculty workshops coming up on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Then summer begins for me.

5/16/10

IMBCS #3 Race Report...

It doesn't seem to matter if I teach a May Term class here on campus, or go overseas on a May Term class trip - the month of May (at least the first 3 weeks) pretty much sucks for me in terms of trying to do any training or racing.

However, I did manage to sneak away last Sunday to hit the IMBCS #3 XC race at Camp Ingawanis outside of Waverly. I knew I would be weak since being in opera workshop from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day pretty much means I'm not on the bike much this month. In spite of that, at least the race itself would give me a bit of opportunity to ride. ;-)

I headed up to Waverly with the new Dos Niner that I built up and got registered about an hour before race time. I suited up and headed out on the gravel road while the Cat 3 race was underway. Legs felt lifeless, but I expected that. The new bike felt great! After a bit of warm-up, I got the tires aired up and did a little bit of the singletrack to make sure my tire pressure was dialed in for the surface conditions. I noticed in the racer meeting that my REBA was not locking out as the cable from the bar mount lever had slipped. Kyle Sedore and I tried to fix it while standing in line waiting for the start, but we couldn't get it to take and there was only a minute or two left before the start, so I had to bag it and go without any lockout for the climbs. No problem.

The gun went off and dang, we were flying up the opening climb. I didn't make it to the singletrack in the first 1/2 of racers and immediately said to myself "race over" as we had to stop and wait to enter the singletrack one at a time. No way to pass in the opening sections of singletrack and I could see and feel an immediate 5 - 10 minute gap developing between the front half and the back half of the pack. C'est la vie. I was behind an inexperienced rider who was locking up his brakes on every turn and every descent and couldn't get around him until the first double track opening. Lap 1 had me playing some catch up with big efforts to at least get off the back of the pack and make my way forward.

Smiling at just being able to ride, but I was in the den of pain big time.

IngawanisCorner

I never really felt that I got it going and in a groove during lap one, but lap two started to feel a lot better as my legs and body finally woke up from their 9 day hybernation. The 2nd half of lap 2 had me finally hit my stride and I was giving it the full gas. I knew it was too little too late, but it was a good training ride to snap me back into the demands of racing. The course was fabulous. Big roots, some nice climbs (one a killer climb up some sort of what looked like a drainage ravine) and lots of excellent scenery. Kudos to the crew that got the course ready for the race. It was really a lot of fun.

I didn't have any mishaps out on the course and kept the bike upright the entire time - although I did have to run up the steep ravine climb during lap one since everyone in front of me dismounted. I rode it the 2nd lap as painful as it was without a granny gear and not being able to lock out the fork meant I stayed seated. I crossed the line, grabbed my recovery drink bottle that I had left by the finish line and did a slight warm-down. A little bit of chit chat post race and then I loaded up and headed right home being that it was Mother's Day and we had plans for the evening. I couldn't even stay for the usual post race food that the Boy Scout Camp serves up.

I ended up about where one could expect for being so far back entering the singletrack after the opening climb and for not riding much in the previous 9 days - 17th place for the Cat 2 open out of 24 (25th out of the entire CAT 3 Field from the 35 that started). Not good. Bottom 1/3 no matter how you count it.

Kudos to the Ingawanis team. The trail was in great shape and a gas. I loved it.

The race itself was a good wake-up call for me to get back on the bike a bit more before or after my May Term class. Unfortunately, class doesn't end until this coming Friday at 2 p.m. . This is crunch week before the performances on Tuesday/Thursday. I finished staging all the scenes (we're doing 35 opera scenes) yesterday. Tomorrow we start technical and dress rehearsals for the performances and every day will be 9 a.m. until the moon is full on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I should be able to ride starting this Friday afternoon and get back on track for the summer racing season.

Counting the race at Ingawanis, I managed to eek out 5 hours on the bike this past week with some short intensity rides using the trainer in the basement. I doubt I will be able to do any more than that this week leading into the race at Banner Pits (if it happens after all the rain and flooding). But I should be able to start building up and get back in race shape for the June races. Like last year due to May Term in France, it looks like I will be building for a goal of July and August being my better racing months. Such are the demands of May Term teaching.

Now, off to watch Carmen on IPTV from the MET....

5/9/10

Hola mi Dos...!

Rasumussen's bike shop in Des Moines (Sterling in particular) got on the case and called Salsa about my broken Dos Niner frame to see what they would say. I made no attempt to hide anything about me having purchased it from MTBR.com member A_A back in 2006 as well as having raced it for 4 seasons plus 1 race this season. Sterling made the call to Salsa and they were very customer friendly and said I could replace it for a new one via the crash replacement policy (discounted price on a new frame). So an XL frame was sent to Rasmussen's and I picked it up on Friday.

Here's the rebuild:

New Dos Niner

Sweet! I've got a lightweight XC race bike again...