Monday, November 29, 2010

OBRA State Cyclocross Championship Fallout

A cold shot of me at the start of the race. Along with a guy just beyond me doing... Well I don't know what he's doing. Picture credit: Martha (thanks!)

Some times you do races that are just custom made for you. And other times they couldn't have designed a course for a more bizzaro version of yourself. This years OBRA State Championships were a great example of the later for me. But I had a good time and the course was a lot of fun. Hard as hell. But fun.

But I'm not really going to be writing about my race (I know. The whole last paragraph was about me. Pff. Whatever.). What I wanted to talk about was how well set up and organized this race was. And how unfortunate it can be when the general public (ie. neighbors) complains about someone else's good time.

There was quite a flurry of emails and messages being sent around in the following days about some of the local residents around West Salem High School complaining about the damage the race was causing to the school grounds and the small adjoining city park.

A picture taken by my beautiful wife.

Now please know that the school and the town were made well aware of the damage that a cyclocross race can have on the grounds by the race organizer Jeff. And that the school's Athletic Director and Groundskeepers had given them complete permission to use the grounds as they saw fit. But sometimes that's just not good enough for the people looking from the outside.

Never mind that the cross race was a successful money maker for the school (they sold concessions). Or that repair and clean up were all part of the master plan.

It's just frustrating to me that people start complaining to the city with half the information. I know I can be irate about a subject too without having all the info (This blog in general is a great example of it.). But I wouldn't make an accusatory phone call or email to the powers that be before I had all my shit together and it was correct.

I like this pic because there are still guys behind me. Towards the end of the race I honestly thought I was in last place. It's not easy to keep going when you think that. I was almost praying for a mechanical at that point. But I didn't do to bad and I wasn't last. (Another pic for my Super Hot Awesome Wife Who I Really Don't Deserve or SHAWWIRDD for short) 

But it still doesn't change how great the race was. And hopefully the complaints won't ultimately effect the race organizers abilities to be able to put on the Championships in the Salem area (Although, it might be nice to put it somewhere flat. You know. For me.).

Okay. Rant done. Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Icy Days = Trainer Blues

I can't think of one real cyclist that likes to ride the trainer. For a lot of people its just a necessary evil in order not to undo all the hard work you've put into their fitness. For others its just a fact of life. Where the winters are harsh and the snow is deep most just hide in their man (or woman) caves and poke their heads out like a groundhog come spring.

Around here though we are lucky in the fact that we can ride outside pretty much year around. Sure we'll be soggy when we do it for about 8 months out of the year. But with the proper clothes it can be bearable to down right pleasant.

Before I get out there it always seems worse than it actually is. But I'm always glad I did it (Ok, not every time. There seems to be about 6ish rides a year that I wished I just stayed home. But you get my point.).

But then there are days like today. High of 31 degrees Fahrenheit, snow flurries, and a nice thick layer of ice underneath. And there is no way anyone could be out there unless you have a pair of these~

And even then I think only the truly hardcore would ever actually go out there.

So I have resigned myself to the trainer in the garage. Trying my hardest to make it past the one hour mark (The longest you could ever actually stay on a trainer. Scientific fact.) Dreaming of warmer, or at least sunnier days.

In the mean time I will do my best to be like the Cannibal and spin baby spin!

Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pictures From Applecore Cross

Just a few shots from Apple Core Cross. Thanks to Martha and Sage for the wonderful pictures.

Steve and I towards the end of the race. Please note the big mud patch on my side from falling down in a not so graceful manner.

James winning his race.

Mark during his race. He's one of the owners of EZ Orchards. What a swell guy for letting us tear up his farm!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Comedy of Errors: Part 1

Hey Everybody! Sorry it's been so long since I put up a post. I've been sick the last week and with all the snot and drool that has come out of my face it must have done something to my computer as well because it seems to have been taken over some rogue malware too. So with all this tomfoolery taken care of (hopefully) we can get back to the business at hand which is making good cycling blog. 

There has been many a cyclocross race happening since we last spoke. The Applecore Cross race here in town at the EZ Orchards farm was a grand success! It was a great venue for the races and what better way to enjoy a day of cross than an apple donut and an espresso. And then if you felt like it (which of course I did) you wash all that down with a bratwurst or corndog (Mmmm. Corndog...).

As far as the actual racing. It was kind of a comedy of errors for me. I didn't recon the course. At all. I mean I didn't even look at the thing before I started (I just can't seem to figure out why I don't do well at these things). I lined up at the start with about 10 minutes worth of warm up and maybe 2 hard accelerations prior to the gun going off. To my surprise I got the hole shot. This maybe because of my massive power (not likely) or because everyone noticed I had my GoPro camera on and just wanted to be in the frame before they pass me laughing (much more likely). But regardless I did get a total of one half of a lap in the grand open air of the front before people started passing me in droves.Which initially I was fine with. I tend to like to hang back in races and wait for my moment (Hahahaha! Just kidding. I just GO in cross. Then blow up, recover, and repeat.)

But after the first lap mechanical things started happening. Bad mechanical things. First I noticed a little skipping in some of the lower gears. Which wasn't such a big deal because the course is pretty flat. But then some of the higher gears started to do the same thing. Then I couldn't shift out of the little ring up front. And all the while people are passing me with a look on their faces like I'm the nerdy guy who just crashed the cool kid's party in high school (not that I would know anything about that....) Or dropped a turd in their punch bowl at prom or something. The chain kept skipping until I discovered one gear that would not do it. And anytime I tried to shift out of that gear the chain would hop and skip until I put it back in that gear. Meh. What can you do?

So it just became a race of attrition at that point. Just keep pedaling until the race is over. I had some lovely company (Thanks Steve!) during the suffer fest. He even offered to wear my helmet for a while so I could be in the shot (Ah, isn't that nice?) But I politely declined because I just couldn't bear the idea of pour Steve having to put my nasty sweaty helmet on just so I could have my Alfred Hitchcock'esque (Yes, I am comparing myself to Hitchcock. What?!) cameo in my own film. (Please don't ask where all this supposed footage is. I'm acquiring it all up to create my own cyclocross version of Citizen Kane. So be prepared.) We finished out the race together and I took a look at my drive train just to see what the deal was. It wasn't even that dirty! Grrr. Sometimes just a little mud, a sprinkling of sand, and a dash of grass is all it takes to make for very poor bike race. Oh well, life moves on.

Tomorrow I'll discuss Part 2 of the comedy of errors. Cross Crusades Washington County fairgrounds. Thanks for reading.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cyclist's Fighting

Note: I suck (not that that is a shocker or anything). I couldn't figure out how to get the HD footage on here from Astoria last weekend. However redemption is at hand! This weekend I have two, count'em, TWO cross races. I shall record both. Especially since I don't now how much longer the man will allow me too. Hopefully my computer will like the smaller video files much better. 

The good ol' Badger having nothing to do with some protesters at the Tour de France.

There is something inherently hilarious about cyclists fighting. I don't know if its the fact that you have a guy that's 5' 5" tall and 130lbs soaking wet with a brick in his pocket trying to act tough. Or if it's the spandex and shoes skittering about trying to hit or avoid getting hit. All I know is that is makes me laugh.

Michael Rogers giving it to a shloog at the Tour of California.

Barredo and Costa getting it on wheel style at the Tour de France this year.

Sometimes even when a driver cuts me off and I manage to catch them at the next light. When I'm busy yelling profanity or, eh, um, trying rationally to explain to the person that they just about killed me back there (Neither of these tactics are really recommended BTW. In all my years I've had one driver listen, apologize and move on amicably. But usually they either start yelling back or look at you like they have no idea what you're talking about). I think in the back of my head how ridiculous this must all look to any by stander. I guess it's just the way of the rider. If you have skinny wheels and tights on you are never going to be a bad ass. Unless you like this~

So remember kids. Save the yelling and punching for the ring. Or at least have the decency to wait until you have street clothes on to throw down. You know, like normal people.

The Badger has spoken....


Rubber side down,

Big E

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You Don't Owe Me Anything Floyd

Quick note: The video of the Cross Crusade race is proving to be smarter than me (which isn't hard). I guess I recorded it in the HD setting and my computer isn't powerful enough to run it. Soooo, I'm going to try to download it from a friend's computer and see what happens. In the future I'll record in a lower resolution that hopefully my computer can handle.

Floyd Landis at the New Pathways for Pro Cycling conference in Australia

I'm often a little apprehensive to forgive and forget. But sometimes it just seems like the right thing to do.

When news broke that Floyd Landis had tested positive for synthetic testosterone I hopped right onto the Floyd band wagon. I wanted to believe him. In a lot of ways I needed to believe him.

I had watched so many other racers be caught and tried be a system that was designed to convict and nothing else. You can read some of my opinions here. It just didn't seem right. So I went out and bought Floyd's book and donated (a very small sum) to the Floyd Fairness Fund. If for no other reason than showing support to someone who was trying to take it to the "man" in some way.

But even back then I was developing an uneasy feeling in the back of my brain that Floyd may have cheated. I wasn't fully committed to the idea at the time. It was just a few little things. Like in all the confusing stuff written in his book Positively False. He never really came out with a cut and dry reason why or how synthetic testosterone showed up in his system. It was more telling on why the system and testing procedure is so screwed up (which I full agree with).

So when I read that he had come out with a doping confession and had implicated others it wasn't a complete shock. It was sad, but not surprising.

I guess I can understand someone feeling guilty and wanting to clear their conscience. I'm sure all of us have done things that we aren't proud of. And to have the courage to come out and say something about it. Knowing full well that you will be a pariah deserves some respect.

The part about all this that bugged me and I just couldn't find it in my heart to forgive was the fact that Floyd took money from innocent people for his own personal gain even though he knew he was guilty. But now that he has come out with his pledge to pay donors back. So know even that part of my feelings towards him is starting to soften. What can I say. I like the guy (or I'm really gullible).

So I guess in this some what long winded kind of way. What I'm saying Floyd is, don't worry about paying me back. I'm good. Live your life the best way you see fit. Be an honorable man. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. And all will be forgiven on my side (as tiny and insignificant as that part is).

Go out there and ride you bike. Keep kicking butt. Everything will eventually turn out OK.

The two escapees have been caught and Floyd Landis of Orca Velo Marino tries to establish a new break.

P.S. This is a good ESPN article about all this. You should go read it. It's alright, I'll wait... See. I told you.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Monday, November 1, 2010

Astoria Cross Crusade Recap

Just a quick mention that I did take video of the race and hopefully I will have that up tomorrow or the next day. Please stay tuned.

What a long and strange trip that was...

It all started with the drive over there. I ended up leaving the house at 6 pm on Saturday for the trip over to Astoria. It pissed rain the entire time (I'm beginning to notice a really big trend with driving to Cross Crusade events). God bless the person who invented those little reflective bumps in the middle of the road. Because the reflective poles on the side and those bumps was all I could see through the standing water all over the road. But I still managed to get there in one piece.

Once I got to the parking lot and pulled into the back area. I set about rolling out my sleeping bag and pad in the back of the van. It worked out pretty well all said and told. I never really sleep very well in a sleeping bag but I was very grateful for it and the van as I can only imagine the ones who were in tents were having a nautical experience that night. So I hopped into my insulated restraining system and fell asleep counting cyclists jumping over orange barriers (Ok. You're right. That is cheesy. Sorry.)

When my alarm went off the next morning I was thrilled to see bright blue sky and hardly any wind. A huge contrast to the previous night.  I made myself some breakfast. Then went up to the Crusade Village to see who was around and sign up for my race.

After getting all that done I checked out the course. And as I  feared from last years race it's supper technical and all up and down. A big guy (There's a reason I named this blog Big E) such as myself is going to have a tough time of it. So I reserved myself to trying hard but not taking the results to seriously.

I headed back down to the van to get in my costume and warm up. I went with a pretty simple costume (I know, I should put more time and energy into it). I was a hick mechanic named Earl (A real stretch I assure you. LOL). I had the mullet, a blacked out tooth, and coveralls. It was reasonably easy to ride in but holy crap was I hot by the end of the race! There was a guy in a gorilla costume. I honestly don't know how he did it. I would have died from dehydration in that thing (kudos to you man)!

So this race was the grand experiment with the video camera that I won from the cross race the week before. I have looked at the footage and it's spotty at best. So hopefully I can do some editing on the it and have it here on a post Tuesday or Wednesday (Sorry Dave. I'm just not fast enough with technology).

I headed to the start and fiddled with the camera several times before I managed to get it going. Taking several still pictures of myself in the process. Having a camera pointed up at you while you are looking down at it is NOT a flattering angle (just in case you were wondering).

So my number was the second to last to be called up (again). But considering everything it probably was just as well. The only thing that kinda bummed me out was that meant I wasn't going to capture as much of the race as I would have liked. Meh. What do you do?

The race itself was kind of a painful blur. But the highlights were falling and sliding several times. Sucking in a fairly unhealthy amount of synthetic wig hair. And really enjoying watching all the cool people in their costumes on the side of the course cheering us on (I especially want to thank the dominatrix lady for the whipping (Thank you madame may I have another!?) and the lady in the orchard for the fist bumps (with a severed hand).

After I finished up and cleaned up. I grabbed something to eat and headed back up to the races to watch and support a couple of friends. Watching the other races was pretty interesting. There were several places where I couldn't find the proper line during my race to save my soul. The exit out of the horse crap pile was one and the entry into the orchard was another. But watching the other races made me fell a little better. At least I wasn't the only one having a hard time.

So after that I headed out of town and back home. It was a long drive and night for a fun race with a lot of crazy cool people. I'm glad I did it. Now if I could just figure out how to maintain momentum...

Rubber side down,

Big E