10/28/10

Football is over....

Indianola had a loss last night in the first round of the high school football playoffs. It was a miserable night for football with 40-50 mph wind gusts, cold temps, rain, snow and both teams on edge. There were a lot of turnovers in the early going with the wet, cold and windy conditions combined with nerves. The boys played really well - especially the defense. Going into this game, we were the lower seeded team with a season record of 4-5 vs. Sioux City East with a higher seed and a season record of 7-2.

We scored first going with the wind. Punts were long with the wind, and very odd against the wind (usually hooked 10 yards or so based on the wind gust). There were a lot of penalty flags thrown, more so than usual. Sioux City scored in the 2nd quarter on a long pass with the wind when somebody on our team missed their coverage and left a guy wide open with nobody closer than 20 yards to him. On our next possession, we had to punt against the wind near the goal line. However, the snap sent the ball way over the punter's head and through the end zone. 2 points for Sioux City. And they drove it down for another touch down to leave the score 16-7 at half. In my estimation, we were trying the long pass way too much when we should have been playing the wind and going for 5 - 10 yard passes. A 40 yard pass is a low percentage chance to begin with, let alone in the wind and wet. For an offensive coach who admitted not paying attention to statistics a couple of years ago, this is one statistic I really wish he had paid close attention to in review of our season and what simply was not working statistically. Odd we didn't immediately adjust for the weather conditions.

Finally, in the 3rd quarter we drove down and scored with the wind again making it 16-14. A short pass and the receiver doing a great 40 yard run after the short pass while avoiding tackles set up the touchdown. You see - those short passes put the ball safely in the hands of the receiver and allows the receiver to work it down the field!!!

In the 4th quarter, we drove the length of the field against the wind using short passes (finally figured it out!!!) and mixing it up with a few runs. It looked as if the Sioux City defensive line was tiring and we were moving the ball really well on this series. We scored, went for the 2 point conversion which we got and pulled ahead 22-16 with not too much time left in the game. After our defense stopped Sioux City, they punted with the wind and the ball sailed over our punt returner's head. I guess thinking it would roll into the end zone and we would have it on the 20, he didn't pursue the ball. Well, the punt team managed to chase it down and touch it on the 1/2 yard line putting us in the hole to get it out of there on our next offensive series. It took 3 downs to get it out to the 5 yard line and we were forced to punt. Our coaches made the decision to take a delay of game which moved the ball 1/2 the distance to the goal line. And they made the decision to snap it over the punter's head (this time on purpose) to give a touchback and put the game in the hands of our defense to hold them for the final few minutes to try and end the game.

Sounded good on paper and our defense was the star all night - so why not? However, Sioux City put together a nice drive just when they needed it the most and ate up what was left on the clock to take it in for their final touchdown with a couple of short passes, some quarterback keepers and a few first downs. They went up 25-22 with 1:01 left. We had no timeouts and needed to drive it from the 25 yard line all the way up the field against the wind for a score to tie or win. Tough to do that. A beautiful long pass down the sideline to an open receiver who had beat his coverage was about 2 yards overthrown. Rats. That was really close. A couple more scampers by the quarterback to get a long pass off again, but he got sacked and we turned the ball over after 4 downs with :04 left. Sioux City took a knee and the game was over. Just like that.

Either team could have won this game and it was an exciting close game - just as a playoff game should be. I felt for the Indianola boys (especially Zack and his fellow seniors who experienced their 3rd consecutive loss in the first round of the playoffs (Waukee in 2008, Marshalltown in 2009, and now Sioux City East in 2010), but they can keep their heads up as they played hard and have nothing to be ashamed of for the loss. No need to put blame on anyone as everyone gave it their best effort on a miserable night for a game. I would just question the decision not to use shorter passes earlier on as the weather dictated that was about the only way to move the ball in the air over the long pass - at least in terms of risk/reward. But that is one of the flaws I would put on the entire season - going for the 40 yard attempt over the 5-10 or even 15 yard pass. And this game could have gone either way. It came down to who had the ball last for the final drive with time to score.

Congrats to Sioux City East and congrats to Indianola for a well fought season. Last year, we beat Sioux City East at their homecoming in double overtime, so these two teams have been pretty even the past few years and in their 3 meetings - either team could have won. We got the first 2, they got this one (the one that matters). ;-)

10/25/10

Weekend Pain Cave!

It's been the pain cave at our house this weekend. Zack started it off on Friday night during the final regular season football game against Urbandale. On a punt return play, Zack managed to put the hardest hit on an Urbandale kid that anyone had seen in years. It happened right around the 50 yard line in front of the home crowd - so it got quite a crowd reaction. The block set up the path for our punt returner to go all the way in for a touchdown, so it was a "worthy" hit in spite of the violent nature of it all, but the kid Zack hit and Zack himself didn't get up. Zack finally managed to stand up, but the other kid was out for a few minutes. Zack had taken a knee hit on his thigh (in the part where the thigh pad doesn't cover), so he fared better than the other kid who needed assistance off the field. Zack was able to play the rest of the game, but he was hobbling. We won the game 33-20, but it was the hardest hitting game all season from both teams and a lot of players were in the pain cave by the end of the game. Zack could hardly move on Saturday. He started to move a bit better on Sunday, but that kind of deep bruise takes time to heal. Lots of ice has been the therapy and he starts heat therapy today. He should bounce back by Wednesday's playoff game against Sioux City East at Morningside College.

I managed, in spite of my ongoing fight with an infection, to head up to Des Moines on Saturday to run and ride in the Dirty Duathlon that CITA puts on every fall. Last year I had one of my college students team up with me in the relay to do the running portion in hopes it would inspire him to get into shape (it worked as he has lost a lot of weight). This year, I had planned on it being a father/daughter event since Alexa runs cross country and had tentatively agreed to do it with me. However, she had also planned to do the Race for the Cure in Des Moines with her friends on Saturday morning. The friends and Race for the Cure won out in the end, so that meant if I was going to do the CITA race it would be all by myself.

All smiles on the starting line knowing what was about to occur...

IMG_2991

I've done it solo before in years past, but I managed to do a bit of running those years leading up to the event to prepare. I did no running at all this year which meant it was going to hurt big time. And hurt it did. By the end of the opening 2 mile run, I had managed to slow to something loosely resembling a slow motion jog. I was jogging at such a crawl even I was laughing out loud as I passed the course marshals.

My jog through the forest...

IMG_3051

After I swapped out shoes in the transition area and got on the bike, it took me about half a lap on the bike just to recover from the run. Then I rode fairly strong on the bike passing a lot of people that had passed me during the run.

A bit more comfy on 2 wheels...

IMG_3117

After 8 miles on the bike, I was dreading having to get off the bike and run the final 2 miles, but I swapped out my shoes again in the transition area and began my slow jog down the hill. I almost wish we had run the 2 laps back to back before getting on the bike because after sitting on the bike for an hour, my running muscles had seized up to the point where I could hardly move. I ran so slowly in the final lap that my heart rate wasn't even up. My heart and lungs were ready for more, but the legs couldn't respond. So I jogged, power walked up the hills, and feigned running my way to the finish line for 2 hours and 11 minutes of pain and torture. It was all worth it though, as the entrance fee money goes to CITA and that's really why I went in the first place.

The pain continued once I got home because I had not received the "wife pass" to do this event. I went on my own accord. Tara had other plans for me on Saturday involving a massive house cleaning. I managed to hobble around the house pretending I was doing something for about an hour before I finally had to lay down and take a power nap. I was awakened by the entire Indianola football team in my basement hooting and hollering in my basement as they were reacting to the Iowa/Wisconsin game. We all had pizza and I struggled to pitch in around the house the rest of the evening. My toes were cramping up of all things.

I awoke on Sunday with legs that felt like they had been run over by a truck and my innards (kidneys and whatever else jiggles when you run) felt bruised and worked over to the point that I dreaded coughing. I took the dogs out for their morning walk with me on the bike. I could barely turn the singlespeed cranks over it hurt so bad. Our usual 20 minute walk turned into 30+ minutes because I was going so slowly on the bike. Back home, and more housework, cleaning, organizing and what not. I also was in charge of smoking two racks of ribs, making cornbread and my special beans for dinner. It was painful just walking from one end of the house to the other and I refused to take any pain medication. I napped off and on between the slave labor, but somehow made it to evening where I could finally sit down and enjoy the Vikings vs. Packers game with Zack.

Here it is Monday morning and Zack and I are both moving a little bit better, but I need at least another 24 - 48 hours of recovery before I will feel close to normal again.

And to think I used to run 10 - 20 miles at a time all the time...

10/15/10

35 year Hiatus from Singlespeeding is OVER!!!

That's right. It's been 35 years since I last owned a singlespeed bicycle. I basically was riding some form of singlespeed bicycle that required grunt pedaling from 1964 - 1975. And quite a few of those years was SS'ing in the Black Hills and Rapid City way back then. I even had a Denver Post paper route where I pulled a wagon with the big Sunday papers from house to house behind my SS Schwinn. My Dad helped me score a welded attachment that was custom built by a welder he knew. The custom piece hooked onto the frame of the bike and replaced the handle of the wagon and hitched in its place. Pulling a wagon load of Sunday morning Denver Posts up some of those hills in Rapid City with a 20" wheeled Schwinn SS was brutal.

I scored a sweet Browning 10 speed road bike that took me into the geared world with a myriad of geared road and off road bikes from 1976 until this month. Let's date me even more with that Browning. I used to head out in the Dakotas on long road rides armed with my Sony Walkman and Spyro Gyra cassette tape. Yup. That was me. I even rattle can spray painted the Browning a nasty orange for some odd reason at the time. Fast forward to 2010 - no rattle can paint jobs in my garage at the moment. ;-]

I had all the parts laying around, so swapped out the Karate Monkey that I bought in 2003 to make it SS for the first time since owning it. I figured tooling around with the dogs twice a day for their walk was a bit overkill for my full suspension rigs in the neighborhood and the commute to and from Simpson wasn't really requiring a big full suspension dirt bike, so why not outfit the KM SS and KISS it. Avid Ti V Brakes and Levers. Check. American Classic rim brake wheelset. Check. Gusset Singlespeed Conversion Kit. Check. (In fact, I have over a dozen of these that came free with a set of wheels I bought a few years ago). Race Face Next LP cranks. Check. Race Face BB. Check. 29T Ti ring. Check. Cane Creek ST Thudbuster and WTB Deva saddle. Check. Salsa 17 degree funky bar (ya gotta have a funky bar for SS'ing, right?). Check. Big heavy Shimano SPD pedals. Check. 2.4 big meat rubber. Check. Big heavy Bonty with Slime filled tubes. Check. Old chain. Check. King headset. Check. Oury grips. Check. 130mm Thomson stem with huge rise. Check. Noodles for the brakes? Who needs them? I bypassed them (at least for the moment) using very heavy duty cable housing that is pretty much as stiff as a metal noodle and ferrules to hold things securely in place.

All I needed was a Surly Tugnutt which I picked up at my favorite shop - Rassy's up in Des Moines. I threw it all together and tossed it on the scale for a beefy 25.08 pounds. Those tubes, tires, pedals, BB, and Thudbuster pork this critter out - but, hey: It's okay. I'm not going weight weenie on it just yet.

KM in the fall

I've been tooling around for the better part of October on this creature rekindling all of my old feelings of riding with one gear, and one gear only (29T x 16T in this case). Stand on hills, coast on downhills, pedal on everything else as best you can.

KM front shot

It's a nice fun diversion, but even with the ST Thudbuster and the big meat tires run at low pressure, this is a kidney bruiser and off roading is for leisurely speeds and recovery time is extended for the beating and the knees. However, the training aspect is good and I can substitute a SS ride on the hills at Ahquabi for a weight training day.

KM decked out SS

I guess it is hard to imagine why it took me until now, after owning the Karate Monkey for 8 years, to finally outfit in a SS kit. I knew I would eventually get around to it, but I guess everything finally lined up to give it a shot as an addition in the bike stable.

10/11/10

IMBCS #8...

I did not race in the final IMBCS event of the year at Lake Ahquabi State Park. I was hosting it and my duties far usurped any chance at racing this year. The few weeks leading up to the race required a lot of trail work and I bit off a little more than I could chew by building some new connector singletrack sections to make the loop longer, more challenging as well as to provide more variety. I was pleased with the result as it provided a challenging loop whether one rode clockwise for the 8 miles or counter clockwise. And considering that the trail could not be ridden pretty much all summer due to the amount of rain received, I have to be admit I was pretty excited about the fall weather turning out so nice for the event. It snowed on the same weekend one year ago, so having it be in the mid 70's to 80's was certainly more welcome. All the downed trees from the summer storms were removed, sinkholes filled, limbs and debris removed, canopy trimmed and the new sections added. Due to the rescheduled date to October 10th, I had to do all of this work on top of working full time and directing an opera. No wonder I ended up getting sick...

Race Day was perfect!!!

I couldn't have been happier with the weather being dry the past two weeks. It got the trails at Ahquabi back into shape and there were only a few mud bogs remaining. No complaints from me about the race with full sunshine, fall colors and a wonderful turnout of nearly 150 racers. We did a high noon mass start and it was amazing to see that many cyclists take off all at once.

I decided I should do the timing this year and quickly found it is not an easy task when using the paper and pen method. Between myself and an assistant (thanks for helping me Melinda Reese!!) - we struggled to keep up with the racers flying by on each lap as we jotted down the times. I believe the event has grown to the point that it now requires chip timing, so I will research that for the future.

My wife played crossing guard at one of the road crossings and my daughter and her friends did the other road crossing near the campground. Jed Gammell and Rob Versteegh promoted the race, got sponsors and had sponsorship prize money and schwag. We had some nice payouts. Registration money went for even more payouts in categories that don't normally get to see $$$ in the IMBCS.

Fun was had by all in spite of the course being really back end loaded with a lot of grunt climbs. I learned from the experience and hope to address some of the growth pain issues for next year. I took some of the course markings down after the race, did more today and will finish up tomorrow.

Thanks to all who showed up to race and to all those that helped with the event. I know everyone was excited to see such a good turnout for an Iowa mountain biking event. Hats off to Jed and Rob for doing such a good job promoting.

10/4/10

Down and out...

I got hit with a nasty bug this weekend (actually started feeling symptoms on Thursday evening) as doing double duty at work, directing an opera and getting Lake Ahquabi ready for the October 10th race got my resistance down. My wife keeps saying "Do you ever stop?" as I have been a super busy beaver the past month. I was diagnosed today (after staying home from work feeling miserable) with a staff infection in my throat. Hence the pain and discomfort I've been feeling since Thursday evening. I have laryngitis because today of it and can hardly speak. Here's hoping the mega-dose of antibiotics kicks in and tomorrow is a better day.