Monday, October 24, 2011

Great Photos From The Washington Co. Fairgrounds Cross Crusades

Yesterday was a great day to make bike race.

Adam had his nice camera. So between him and myself we got a ton of a shots. Here are a few.

I'll have a write on the blog tomorrow.


Rubber side down,

Big E

Me suffering by my lonesome.

Brison flying by everyone in the sand trap.

Dave looking smooth through the double barriers.

Mr. T looking like a stud as per usual...

Eric did very well in the Master 35+ B's.

Adam looking like he's going to tear some heads off and shit down necks.

Jarod punching it fast through one of the barns.

Thomas and Adam railing it around a tree.

This is a spot where I'm pleading "Not in the face!" to the guy in front of me.

David Climbing up the sand pile.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Awesome Video

If I had .10% of this guys bike handling skills I would be a ton better than I am.  Makes bunny hoping barriers seem kind of wussy...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Cross Crusades PIR

Photo Credit: David Fox

This last Sunday's Cross Crusades race at PIR was simultaneously the best cross race I've had in long time and the worst race I've had.

I felt good. The weather was almost perfect. And the course suites me (It's flat.).

I didn't get a very good call up. Which seems to be just the way it works this year. I wasn't at the very back but I wasn't at the front either. Meh... What do you do? 

Once the race was under way I spent almost the first full lap passing the flood of riders that got a better hole shot than me. But I was still feeling pretty good. I was maybe past my red line a little bit but I throttled it back to a more manageable level.

The course was very dry by past standards. Last year the mud and water was hub high in a few spots. This year the ground was damp but never muddy. And it seemed that as the day went on the course got faster and faster.

Besides the fact that the course if reasonably flat. The other part that I like about it was that with the exception of the barriers on the course it was completely ridable. I have discovered in no uncertain terms (I'll discuss this in more detail in a minute.) that I SUCK at running. Pretty much any run up on a course costs me time. I've been working on it in practice a little. But I obviously need to put a lot more time in it if I ever expect to improve. Anyway, back to the race...

The first lap went pretty well. But because we were on the course with the Cat C's and I never really knew where I was in the grand scheme of things but I just kept plugging away. There really isn't a place to rest on a course, which I like. One thing I could definitely complain about were the bumpy grass areas on the track. Holy crap those things were brutal! I kept trying a different line hoping I'd find one that wasn't as bad as the rest. But they were all bad.

Once we started into the second lap I had to dial my effort back a bit. I kind of found myself in no man's land between a couple of bunches and knew I wasn't going to catch the group ahead without popping. So I kept it under sub-puke and hoped for the best.

After a while I was trading positions with a couple other guys once lap three rolled around. Which was good to keep my motivation high and as it is one of the real beauties of cross racing we were all pretty evenly matched. The race within the race as it were. It always makes for a fun time.

And then it started to happen....

I felt my chain start to skip.  I looked back to see if there was some mud or debris in the drive train but everything looked okay.

I started to think that maybe it was the shifter cable sticking (A problem I have dealt with a ton of times in the past. Although usually only when its super sloppy.). So I started shifting to different gears hoping that it would stop. But it didn't. If anything it was getting worse. So I just told myself I could live with it if it didn't get any worse.

As I went from an off camber section of the trail to a hill the chain snapped.


So I grabbed the chain and start running.  Anywhere I could roll it downhill I rode and anywhere the course was flat I scooted it along like a razor scooter.

I was absolutely hemorrhaging places like there was no tomorrow. All I could think about in my brain hazed state was that maybe the pit mechanic could fix it or God willing one of my teammates has a bike there.

As I rolled around a couple teammates passed me. And I yell at them to have Adam (He raced the beginners so he was done with his ride.) put his bike in the pit. As I was running into the pit I asked if there is a team bike? NO. Can they fix the chain? NO.

So without putting to much thought into it I continued to jog out of the pit and out on the course again. I just kept hoping that maybe once I got back around Adam's bike would be there. Hell, at this point I would have taken anything that I could pedal instead of push.

My personal saviour Steve.

I was, shuffling, would be the best way to describe it. Around the course just really wanting the whole thing to be over. And as I finally made my way back to the pit area from the other side of the course I see my saviour. Only it's not Adam. It's Steve from Buy Local Cycling (The sister team to Capitol Velo.). He's in the pit putting his extra bike in for his race and I yelled, pleaded and begged him to let me finish this mother fucking race on his bike. Which he gladly did (Thanks Steve. I owe you a beer, food, or a Bugatti.).

He and I didn't have the same pedals so its was a little awkward but it got the job done. I eventually rolled across the line.

I went from 15th (The guy I was riding with ended up there. And I'm pretty sure I could have taken him by the end.) to 62nd. But I finished. And by that point that's all I really cared about.

I rode Steve's bike back to the pit and SLOWLY walked my way back to the tents. Holy shit was I spent.

Brison mid nose bleed.

Once I got back I heard poor Brison had similar luck.  He got a nose bleed almost instantly as the race started. Wrecked a couple of times and broke his derailleur hanger which pretty much ended his race right there.

Adam looking cool as a cucumber.

Adam's race conversely went pretty well. He ended up in the front third of the results (42nd out of 137 starters I believe.) He looked good every time he went by. But I guess he was having some dropped chain issues. So at least it was a total wash for us.

Once we got our crap together and headed back to the vehicles Adam and Jenni had a really nice BBQ set up. It's amazing how much sunnier everything seams once you have a beer and burger in your stomach.

So that was it. in a nutshell. What can you do? Sometimes you're the hammer. Sometimes you're the nail. And we both just got nailed that day.

But we will be back! And we shall prevail!

I'm test riding the new Ultegra DI2 on a Trek 6 series tonight. I should have a review up soon. I think I may review the bike and the groupo separately. We shall see...

Thanks for reading!

Big thank you to David Fox for the beautiful photos. All but the picture of Adam are from him.

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cyclocross Weekend

This coming Sunday is the third in the Cross Crusades series. This time it's at Portland International Raceway (PIR). And I'm pretty excited. This course generally is my favorite. It's pretty flat but with some technical bits thrown in for good measure.

I'm also pretty excited to see how Brison does in the Category C's. The only real down side to that is it means that he and I will be racing at the same time. So I will be depending on Adam and J to take some good video and pictures. No pressure guys....

I figured I would leave you guys with a great piece of video footage from last weekends USGP race between Jeremy Powers (I refuse to call him J Pow. To each their own. But everyone uses that nickname and it makes me want to punch kittens.) and Ryan Trebon (Bend, Or resident.). A truly awesome display of how it's suppose to look.

Happy crossing!

Watch more video of USGP New Belgium Cup 2011 on

Rubber side down,

Big E

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cross Crusades Rainer

Sorry it took so long to get this up. I'm busy and lazy. Kind of a weird compilation. On with the story....

Photo Credit: PDX Cross.

This picture of Brison pretty much sums it up. He's alone, with no one around him. And no I don't mean he was off the back (Smart ass.). He gained 15 seconds on his nearest competitor with in the first lap and continued to gain that much time with each lap after. It was in one word: impressive. He decimated the Beginner Men's Category. So much so that the hecklers started to whip out the "S" word. Sandbagger....  But more on that later.

First the set up.

We drove up to Rainer (Well, Longview, Wa.) the night before because none of  The Crew (Adam, Brison, J and myself.)  wanted to be on the road at 5:45 in the morning in order to make it there on time for our races. So we all piled into the Quality Inn (Which it was.) and attempted to get some sleep. Well, after the required beers were drunk (Except for Brison of course.)  and smack talk was talked.

We woke up the following morning and stumbled out to get some breakfast and coffee before the race. The continental breakfast was adequate if not inspiring. But coffee needed to be sought out else where.  We initially became very excited about the prospect of going to Tig Ol Bittys Espresso but alas and alack they weren't open on a Sunday morning (Evidently a very religious espresso drive thru.) so we ended up having to settle for The Man (Starbucks).  Meh...

Once we got our caffeine fix we headed over the river to the venue. There was a light drizzle  happening at the moment and had been quite a bit of rain going on during the night so we were all prepared for a slip-n-slide of a course.

We piled out of the team van and got signed in. Brison, Adam and J started to get warmed up and I floated around until their start.

Brison was lucky in that his number was called up in the second (I believe.) row. We all had talked like this course was custom made for him. And it was. A hard, but reasonably short up hill with a fast, semi technical down hill.  The two things Brison excels at on a bike are going up hill and bombing down trails. It was perfect.

He got a good jump at the start and just extended it on the downhill. Recovering on the lower portion of the course. Rinse and repeat.

Brison soloing away for the win.

After about 3 laps Brison had almost a minute on his next closest competitor. He was killing it. And I was ecstatic! It was truly a sight to behold. Couldn't have been happier if I was twins.

He rolled across the line and looked pissed.  After I got done jumping up and down I asked him what was up. And he started to tell me about the hecklers (I'm about to go on a rant. You've been warned...).

Now in cross heckling is a fine art form. I know it is and I understand. Believe me. I have been known (In jest of course) to heckle people too. But I guess they were pretty belligerent out there. Which in part, is understandable. When you have a minute on the next closest guy I could certainly see why people would think you're sandbagging. Sandbagging is pretty rampant in cross. And as the Cross Crusades propaganda states, it will not be tolerated.

But my fatherly hackles flared up when he started to tell me what went on. I mean he's a 16 year old kid for Christ's sake! In his second cross race ever! To have people taunting you as your winning is a pretty counter intuitive thing to have happen (I mean just look at Charlie Sheen.) I told him that regardless of what you do in this world there are people out there that feel like they need to knock you down a peg. I guess to make themselves feel better or something (Asshats). Whatever it is it's shitty.

He also went on to tell me that a couple of the guys that were heckling him were the "neutral" pit crew and the OBRA official in the pits. That sent me off. Those guys are suppose to be professional and conduct themselves in that manner. Not yelling at a kid that he's a sandbagger and needs to cat up when he's just trying to do his best! It's bullshit.

 I talked to the head of the Crusades about his pit guys. And he was very nice about the whole thing. Which I appreciate. He agreed, and said that he would talk to them and get it taken care of. I also talked to an OBRA official at the race and sent an email to hopefully get it addressed on their side as well.

No kid deserves to have a turd thown in their punchbowl on their first win. It's crap.

Okay, rant done. 

Adam looking very intense.

J and Adam did great too. This was J's first race of the year and considering his shitty starting spot he did very well. Adam wrecked (again) and practically pealed his race numbers off like a banana. But hung in tough and finished very strong. I think if he manages to stay up right one of these races he's going to do pretty well.

J putting his name on it!

As for my own race. I was super pumped about Brison, sandbaggers, Adam and J's race that I was having a really hard time staying put at the beginning. I was given an okay start position (In the middle again.) and basically kept that spot within the pack the whole time. Which is both disappointing and encouraging at the same time.  Let me explain...

The hill making me it's bitch...

This course as I mentioned before has a hard hill. And I've never done well on it (I know, hold your shock.). Last year people were passing me in droves on that damn thing. This year that didn't happen so much. So I guess I feel pretty good about that.

I also managed to keep my bike upright this year as well. Again, last year I was sliding around that course like it was a skating rink. Which I also take as a positive sign for the future.

The only two things that I think I could have done better were being more aggressive at the start. Just judging by how I stayed put within the Clydesdale's group up the initial hill I'm sure I could have gotten at least a couple more spots there and held them.

That pretty much sums it up for me.

The other thing was the end. I held out until half way through the last lap before I really laid down what I had left. And I got back at least four or five spots doing that. But had I gone a little harder on the last full climb of the hill I'm sure I could have grabbed back a couple there too. Oh well. It's a learning process. And I'll apply those things for next time.

Well this post is a wordy one. And for any of you that made it this far you deserve a gold star!

Thanks for reading! And a big whoot! To Brison for the "W". He's racing Category C's next weekend. I'm sure he's going to kick as much butt there as he did in the Beginners. I guess we will found out soon.

Another short little note:

Today is my Super Hot Sexy Wife's (SHSW for short.) birthday. And I just wanted to take a second and say how wonderful she is and how much more empty my life would be without her. I love you SHSW! Happy Birthday! XOXO

Okay enough of the mushy stuff...

Rubber side down,

Big E

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened On The Bike Ride

So I was on the Scott's group ride last night. When a bee (Yellow jacket or Hornet) stung me right in the face! It some how managed get between my cycling cap, glasses and got me right between the eyes. Little bastard....

It hurt like hell initially. Which struck me as odd because most stings that I get (Usually a couple a year.) are a little painful initially then sort of fall off into the background are forgotten. Not this one. I could feel it getting swollen and it continued to hurt through the rest of the ride.

Once I got back to the shop all I could think about was getting a "sooth-a-sting" swab and some benadryl in me and hope that this thing starts to feel better.

Well it didn't.

If anything the swelling was worse. And by the time I got up this morning I could barely see out of my eye's.

So after a call to the doctor and a prescription for some hardcore anti-inflammatory. I'm in a wait and see holding pattern as to when this "manimal" like face that I've developed will start going back to normal.

Until then. Here are some lovely pictures for your viewing pleasure.  I don't think I would make it as a fashion model with this look.

J said I looked like a vampire from Blade Runner.

Good look isn't it... I feel like someone is blowing air under my skin.
I have the Breast Cancer awareness ride tomorrow morning. I sure hope its improved dramatically by then. And of course Cross Crusades Rainer on Sunday. Should be an entertaining time! To bad it's not the Halloween race. I wouldn't even need a costume....

Rubber side down,

Big E

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cross Crusades: Race #1 Alpenrose

Adam and Jarod getting ready for the Beginner Men race.
So for the first Cross Crusades race was this last weekend.  And as usual it did not disappoint. The racers and spectators were out in droves. I was looking at the results for the race on the OBRA website this morning and the Men's Category B 35+  field had more than 200 (!) participants! In one race! Holy cross Batman! (Why am I using so many exclamation points!?) That is absolutely incredible. To watch the waves of riders pass by was just amazing. I can now really understand why and how the Cross Crusades series is the largest cyclocross series in the WORLD . No joke. We apparently are that cycling crazy here in the Pacific Northwest. Isn't it great!?

Please note that Jarod from Capitol Velo also did awesome with a 5th place.

Besides my first race of the year this was also my boy Brison's first cyclocross race ever. So I was super excited to see how he would do. I had a great feeling that he would be kicking butt and taking names in cross just because it combines everything that he's good at in the cycling world. Mud, good. Bike handling, good. Going fast, good. And boy did he not disappoint. He ended up 4th!!! Which to anyone who knows him shouldn't be surprised. But what made it even more impressive is that he started at least 2/3 of the way back in the field of a 134 starters. Lets repeat that. A 134 starters. Couldn't be more proud of him. And with that finish I believe he gets a call up to the start for the next race. So that should change his race quite a bit. Instead of being the chaser. He may be the chasie... It will be fun to watch what happens regardless.

Adam was also in the race and unfortunately his race didn't go quite as well as Jarod's or Brison's. He went down a  really slippery 180 degree corner on the asphalt and rung his bell pretty good. Cracked his helmet and gave himself a little chin music just for good measure. But I Adam was a trooper and finished.  I've always said that for me the rules of racing are as follows...

1. Don't wreck
2. Finish the race
3. Place as high as I can

Well, he may not have followed rule #1. But he still finished and had an above middle of the pack finish.  Good job Adam!

As for myself. Well like I said in the last post. This was my first race as a Clydesdale. And I must say Aaron Coker and those other Cat 1/2 guys are no joke. The last time I saw them was when we first hit the dirt. And I didn't see them for the rest of the race. I was told by the end that he had 30 seconds on the next closest guy by the end. Pretty damn impressive.

After the first lap or so everyone had pretty much sorted themselves out into which ever ability range that happened to be in. One of the real beauties of cross actually. You are always competitive with someone. Anyway, I was feeling pretty good. The legs were doing well and my practice on the barriers was showing. Because if I ever passed anyone it was always there or on the one flat(ish) section on the course. Everywhere else I was just maintaining. The one place where I was struggling is the one place you would think I would have excelled at. And that was on the downhill section. I'm usually a pretty good descender on the road. But this cow path that they had us going down was so bumpy it was jarring my fillings loose. And towards the end of the race my lower back was  absolutely screaming at me. I think mostly from that stupid thing. Hopefully that doesn't happen next weekend at Rainer. Because that course has a crazy long descent. I guess we will find out...

So on the 3rd lap I was going around the very 180 degree corner that Adam biffed it on. And I ended up crashing right before the stairs run up because my cleat had become clogged with mud and I didn't get it released in time. I slipped and fell on my left side and ass. I used a pair of new shoes this raced and I don't think they shed mud near as well as my old shoes. 

See what I mean... Not the most stellar quality to have in a really muddy sport like cyclocross. To be fair the dirt at Alpenrose is very tacky. As Adam put it, "Cakey". But I still may do a little whittling on the area around the cleat to see if I can get it to shed that crap a bit better.

So just to add to the injury of an injury I ended up having a a mechanical (Dropped chain.)  that cost me at least another few more places in the race. But I guess ultimately that is to be expected. You screw up and it should cost you. If it doesn't then what the point really!?

I ended up in almost square in the middle of the results.


I can't say that ultimately I'm happy about that. But it at least gives me a starting point to improve from.

I was talking to my lovely wife last night about the race and she brought up an excellent point. Every time I do well in a race I concentrate on picking off the next guy up the course and just keep doing that the whole time. When I don't, I seem to think to much about everything else. So I'm going to do my best for the next race or so to turn off my brain and see how that treats me.

I must admit that I am very glad to have cross season here finally. It's such a fun sport and maybe a little less chess game and a little more go like hell. Which I think that I probably need.

Until next time....

Rubber side down,

Big E

PS~ I tried to put down the two small videos that I took of the beginners race. But I am having a bitch of a time getting them to upload to the blog correctly. Hopefully I'll get that squared away and have them up tomorrow.