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Ahhh.... Busy, busy, busy.
Update from the Ernesto casa is that I have been super busy with work, riding, bike and computer repair. Wish I could sleep some more.
Up first on the plate this year will be a trip out west to warmer temps to the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo where I will be teaming up again with fellow Pivot backed rider Brian Bennet and racing duo.
Course is off the path from town a bit where on course you will have to dodge slow moving free range cows, faster moving (and sometimes unpredictable) riders, and the non-moving cacti which hurt like hell if you have an encounter with them.
Overall terrain is mostly single track'ish with a few spots to pass - but be careful as the single track pass areas are short in length and painful if you screw up.
Throw in the bitches section which is a wide open jeep trail road with a 3 or 4 little rises that seem to really hurt after about 8 hours of riding them. And through in a typical headwind on that section and hence the name.
Fast rolling section after that, another short jeep road section, more fast single track past the tree where riders like to have free and open to the public stash of hard liquor.
Over the road, single/double track section moderate climb where you can pass a lot of riders if you got good legs.
Then, down towards the venue. Fast twisty turns and that big rock section right before the start/finish where everybody likes to take pictures and see if you fall.
Overall, great early season rolling course with no big sustained pain efforts, very minimal rocks and nothing sketchy -- which makes it great for this time of the year for the geared riders and would also be a great one to ride either full rigid or single speed style.
With that coming up and with 20 degree temps, time for a long roller session to ensue.
OK, back from an extended leave of absence from blog posting and updates. Bike and non-bike work has kept me busy since after Turkey day and I am now somewhat getting caught up with life in general, but somehow I do wish I had another 2 weeks off after this.
2012 will see somethings changing for me on the road side, as I switch over to the dark side that I stepped away from years ago.
In the past, I typically used early road racing to supplement my huge mileage base that I need for endurance racing. I would train, train, train and race here and there. Road racing just gave me endurance base and the fields were not too stacked. In a typical year, I was racing 3-5 24 hour events and a handful of 100 miler'ish type of events.
Speed up to the past few years. 100 milers (6/8/12 hours too) now dominate the endurance scene and the economy has change quite dramatically making the shorter endurance events more popular and making the fields quite stacked with competition. Instead of just rolling up the first climb, I am sprinting for dear life to hold on.
Hence my game plan change last year which was to hit up more the Cleveland Tuesday night crit worlds in Westlake to help with my fitness and speed and it payed off. Enough to have me up my efforts on the road side with Carbon Racing and to concentrate mostly on criterium and long road races.
On the mountain side, my schedule will mostly remain the same as it has in years and I will be concentrating on the 100 miler type of endurance events. On the 24 hour side, I will be racing Old Pueblo again as a duo and I am contemplating a few other duo and solo events as well.
On the cross side of the world, I will be making a full out effort in 2012 as I have promised myself a full season of racing for the past few years and the 24 Hours of Moab usually threw a monkey wrench in all of it. Rough plans is to start my season off with the Nittany cross race in September if it doesn't coincide with either Shenandoah or Fools Gold. If so, see you at Cross Vegas.
For those sponsors who helped me during the 2011 season - thanks for your support.
And for those continuing on for 2012, thanks in advance.
See you on the Ernesto Pain Train 2012 Tour soon.
Gun goes off and I somehow manage the lead position going into the first corner. Through a few more twists and turns, I was still at the front but I wanted to get out of the front as I could see things had immediately got strung out.
On the straight, up the stairs and up to the sketchy section of stairs I was making the majority of time up in practice and I run into the tape trying to see who was still on my wheel. Dah. I loose three spots and I am immediately go from leading to chasing.
Steve would take the lead. Paul and John would sit in front of me for a bit, and I chased.
4 to go and I was closing after we had gapped off most of the field. Seeing me coming, John and Paul up the pace a bit.
Going onto the sketchy steps, Paul dabs and John takes off. We are now 4 riders alone.
The gap to Paul shortens, but going up the stairs with 2 laps to go, I make a pretty serious dab and have to dismount after nearly whipping out falling backwards.
I would hold on for 4th for the day, about a minute separating the top 4 again.
Would end up 6th in the series despite having only race 6 races. Bummed out I could not have raced more, but pretty happy with how things went this year and was glad to see some good hard racing go late into the year.
For now, I'll take a bit of a break and then plan out the rest of the cross year. Will be hitting up Nationals and possibly Masters Worlds, but I also have to think about a duo 24 hour race in February.
Got there early to pre-ride = aweosome.
Got there early to take a spill on the first warm up lap and break my brand new Sram Red front shifter = Not awesome.
Course was a tough one, the wind was bad and the run up was going to be hellish. Other then that, a few turns and a dismount and a lot of wind.
Gun goes off. I get punched in the gut and elbowed in the face to in the fight to win the first sprint up the climb to take the Oakley sunglass prize at the top to the first one to round the corner.
Things spread out fast as Steve and Paul put the hammer down. I get pinched a bit as I try to make my way back up to John as I battle the wind.
I push on, and soon I am by myself about 50 feet'ish behind John when I start to see we are pulling back Steve.
Just as I near John and Steve, John speeds off and I catch Steve. Steve is immediately on my wheel as John continues to sit just in front of me. I figure Steve is not going to chase so I try to bridge the gap.
John is holding the gap as I am battling back and fourth with Steve. I sit back a bit and let a gap get in between Steve and myself, hoping that he would try to get to John - with a plan that I would a big jump on the last climb of the day.
I would close the gap back down with 2 to go and Steve would take himself out in the same corner I bashed my lever up on in warmup.
I would take home 3rd on the day - Paul took a hard fought win in the wind and John would take 2nd. Guessing maybe a max of 30-40 seconds separating the 3 of us at the end.
1 more NEO race to go, bummed I am not going to be in the overall as I missed too many races. Will be the first time in a long while where I haven't done enough Cleveland cross races to get in the overall.
As usual, I was running late getting over to Shawn's place. Running an hour late, we made our way south towards Cincinnati. Soon we would run into traffic several times, putting us even later the expected.
The course was soft and muddy, lots of climbing and throw in a couple sets of barriers. One lap of warmup, some hill sprints to warm up and to the start line.
First muddy corner, everybody going for the win right there, and a huge crash. One guys gets up to see a frame broken in half. I get around it, but loose time in the process.
Immediately, the burn starts coming into my lungs and it is pretty obvious I did not warm up enough. Soon, the leaders would catch up to me and I would get yanked.
Very disappointing day for both Shawn and I which was a bummer as it was mostly caused because of me running late - but I would wind up with some cash for the day, so it was not a total loss.
Gun goes off and I have a decent start, sitting mid pack.
Soon, we are going by the pit. Another rider in front of me suddenly slows and swings far right and looks right and starts waving and yelling "hi" to his buddy in the pits - totally looking away from the upcoming left corner.
I continue on with the gas, pass him and go into the corner and then wham - the idiot looking the other way hits into my rear derailleur super hard as he didn't see me. Nice. He says something to me, I pedal away not noticing he bent the rear hanger.
3 corners later, I take a corner wide and sweep in tight - just like i did every time in practice as it was the fastest and safest way to get around it. but - the same idiot that hit me before, hit me again. this time, intentionally. it sent me flying, i tried to counter steer and partially rolled the tubular. Great, 2 minutes into a race and this jack ass takes me out.
I climb back on, try to catch on after pulling the tubular on and pedal on.
20'ish minutes later, I am nearly catching the back of Shawn's group and my front tire washes out and the tubular completely rolls off. it also snaps the shifter clamp band.
Great. So much of these races are the first 4-5 minutes and needless to say it is very frustrating to get behind an idiot. And when you finally get around them, they intentionally take you out. I don't understand that logic at all.
But - hats off to Sram Neutral support. Free upgrade from a Sram Apex front shifter to a Sram Red so I could use the bike the next day.
The last day of racing would be a tough one, the course was all soft and muddy and had a decent little climb in it. Lot's of power would be required.
We get to the venue about 3 1/2 hours early. The organizer was running late on time, so he cut ALL pre-riding of the course. I was NEVER able to ride a full complete lap during warm up as the officials would start yelling and blowing there whistles. Was a total FAIL in all of the riders minds to not let us ride all of it - especially considering they were cutting us off from riding the last 1/2 mile'ish of the course when the next race had not even started - even with lap times running over 7-8 minutes. Unreal.
Gun would go off, and I took off from the last row. Super awesome. Not.
I play catch up, picking off a few riders here and there. I feel like I am riding the best of the 3 days so far, but soon the leaders are catching up.
I get yanked again, but end up with some cash for the day.
All in all, good eye opener for me to get my attitude adjusted before nationals, but I wish things had turned out a bit better.
Time to glue up some tubulars.
This was the "mandatory" Halloween costume day - show up without a costume and you get a 30 minute penalty. Needless to say, everybody came in some sort of costume. I opted for the Green Lantern.
Got there early and decided to take a spin around the course and check it out - like I have done every year for the past 5 years.
So I continued to warm on the parts that he couldn't see - I mean the road - and I prepared for a muddy and slick'ish cross race.
Gun went off and we all went a blazing through a short lap loop.
At the garage door stream crossing, Phatty and Steve went down.
I slowed and made it, others did not.
Gaps went out immediately. I got around Phatty and joined up with John P.
I was able to ride the barriers which was good as I didn't want to deal with possible mud issues with remounting.
I soon parted ways with John and then tried to get back time on Steve. Things were slick and muddy, but I had some pretty awesome lines and I started to grab back seconds from him.
With the laps closing, I was running out of time. With about a lap and a half to go, I bobbled and lost about 10 seconds. I lost the chase to catch Steve, but rode in steady for the next 10 minutes to hold on for second.
The course was the same only reversed this day and the sun had come out somewhat and had dried things up a bit. Brett added a bridge to save us from the mud and with things tacky it was going make some corners slippy but most of them grippy.
With a smaller field the gun went off and I somehow got the hole shot for once in my life. Immediately I was off with John and Ross.
I pulled for most of the first lap, John got around me and pulled on the second and Ross was hanging in with us riding a 29er.
Pace was hot as we went back and fourth with strong pulls, then Ross slowed a bit and dropped from our group of two.
John and I would go back and fourth, pulling and sprinting as hard as we could out of the corners and on the straights trying to drop each other. John ended whacking his head off a tree in the pine section (which I think was the same one I hit really hard last year) and got cut a bit, but it was merely a flesh wound and we continued on.
Gaps were holding, but Dan creeped up on us a bit, then we upped the pace a bit as we tried to drop each other some more. I was saving a move for the last lap as the person going into the single track on the last lap would be hard to pass at the finish.
John lead in the field heading into the triple barrier that we had been jumping the whole day. Right before it, I got in front of him and ran over the barriers and remounted - and nailed it. I had a gap, but then ended up loosing it in the left hand turn by the garage. John got around me.
Through the twisty stuff, I got right back on him. Over the garage door bridge he slowed a bit thinking that the line was closer - we sprinted and he got the win by about a wheel'ish length or so. Good hard racing, congrats to John as I took home 2nd for the 2nd day.
Ohio State cross coverage:
And, in case you missed it - the Ohio State cross race got some coverage in CX magazine which has a nice article and some great pics.
You can check it out HERE