Jerks in Tall Socks

I hesitate to announce, but my 2013 cyclo-cross campaign came to a quick  and uneasy end.

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(Le Race Face)

The unravelling began around Mid-November after a series of very strong races from Infirmary 1&2, UCI 3 and Smith Farms CX. I got sick, took week off the bike and tried to race at Alum Creek. After crashing quite hard and then rolling a tubular, I threw in the proverbial towel. Later that evening I spent 5 hours in the ER after what became known as the “COGOtality”. Seven stitches later and zero hours on the bike outside a race, I decided to skip my goal for the 2013 season – the Ohio State championships of cyclo-cross in Broadview Heights.

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(Le Podium Face)

Fortunately, that was a great idea. The race was only about a week after the COGOtality and my skin was still healing. The course, I’ve heard from numerous reports, was icy and rutted and just about everyone went down once. Thankfully I stuck around Columbus and partied hearty all weekend.

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(Le COGOtality)

The following week, Thanksgiving week, I again partied hearty. Very few hours on the bike and one too many whiskeys, I was in no way prepared for PostgivingCX. I dusted off the old single speed and gave it a go despite staying out till the wee hours of the morning with my friends. It was a complete disaster. In the end I decided that if  I can’t podium in a local single speed race, what’s the point of racing?

The second annual PostgivingCX party was a tad different than the year before. Instead of food, we just drank. I had been busy setting up and tearing down the race and was in no way prepared to cook, bake and serve food to my friends. In turn, we stayed up and listened to music and enjoyed a few rounds of goods beers and good Knob Creeks.

Unknowing to all my friends, I had a plan. After the disastrous week of drinking and not riding, my body felt like a pile of shit. I had a plan –

  • Ride the next few days out
  • Party hard
  • Then get to work

As it stands, I am in the “get to work” phase. “Get to work” you may ask? Yes, “get to work”. While the temperature is only going to be getting cooler, I plan on putting in some good hours in the next 14 days. When the temperatures drop below 30°F I can last about 2/2.5 hours outside. Hopefully, over the next 14 days I can get anywhere from 28-30 hours in and that should be a nice base for my next set of goals, which begin in early January.

Tony, Alex and myself got to work by slamming some super sweet and super secret dirt roads. Getting out, despite a nearly debilitating hangover, was amazing. I climbed okay for being hungover, but really I just had a great time finally getting out to ride. The roads were great and the dudebrolyfe-ing was greater. These dudes are some good dudes and I hope to retain some serious friendship for along time to come.

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(Le ShredZone 720)

Outside of that? Yea, well, no drinking. At least not for 14 days. After that I’ll see where I stand.

Anything else? You may remember Ian Broadhead, former contributor to this blog while it was momentarily renamed “The VeloBros Standard”. Well, we’re embarking on a new journey in local blogsmanship. We will be co-managing a new blog called “Jerks in Tall Socks”. Expect more than just stories of bicycle racing and riding. Expect more than analyzations of mediocrity and amateurism with in our local cycling scene. We’re not necessarily jerks, but we do wear and believe that tall socks are the one and only way to approach any given ride or race or life journey. Take it for what it is.

Check it out here – jerksintallsocks.wordpress.com

It’s been nice world, see you next time.

Spencer

#BESTAUGUST(SUMMER)EVER

Maybe the best summer ever? Potentially, on record, this is the most mild summer central Ohio has seen is years. I mean, quite literally, Sami and I have not had the A/C on for more than 24 hours for the past 2 months.

So if the weather’s nice, that means there’s been some bikin’, right? Sure.

  • A lot of nice rides.
  • AND some hard rides.
  • There have been some beautiful
  • And some fucking ugly rides
  • I’ve done some rides just to put shit on Strava
  • And I’ve done a few rides just to post to Twitter
  • I’ve narrowly avoided the Circle and it’s plagued “group ride”
  • Oh, races! Sure, plenty of those things too.

But really I’ve just been having a lot of fun. It wasn’t until last week that I felt a little strong. There was this itch, but I felt good. Maybe it’s the new bike –

1094078_10100273340934877_1756417830_o-1I’m totally harnessing the strength of my Basque brethren on Euskaltel-Euskadi on this one. Let’s hope I can keep the rubber side more often then they do.

Good news? I’m a category 3 road racer now, which is a big deal right? Nahhh, not really. But at least races are going to be longer and if I want I REALLY, REALLY want go up against those dudes at Panther, I can. Guess it depends on if i feel like staring at my stem on the road in front of me though. Still, every experience is a learning experience and getting to ride with 3s will teach me a lot, much more if the day comes that I jump in a 1/2/3 field.

So, yea. Bikes, right? bikes bikes bikes bikes bikes.

9344180522_72c8535c7b_zIt may just be a silly short track race, but winning felt good for a day, still disappointed I couldn’t celebrate with 100 margaritas though.

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Head down & chasin’ Tony. Thanks for the picture Mom!

Who knows. But bikin’ is fun and if it ain’t than give it up.

Also, take a few minutes, ahem, hours, a day to talk non-bike related crap. You know, ask what others are in to. Maybe read a book or watch a show completely unrelated to cycling. Remember that family and friends don’t always want to hear all about the race or the training, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care, right?

I’ve yet to figure out the balance between cycling and non-cycling life, but some days it’s just better to sit on a couch with Sami, eat popcorn and watch Breaking Bad than it is to even look at a bike.

Lastly, thank you local bike shop and don’t be a turd to the man or woman giving you that wicked sweet discount. Remember they’re not making any, or much, money off your sorry ass, so buy them a beer or two if you see them out. Take them coffee. Buy them lunch. Take them beer. Cookies work too. They’re cyclist too, so food of any kind is good, right? Don’t demand onsite repairs or assistance every time you walk through the door – and if it’s important (remember that cycling is recreational/leisure for 98% of us, that “important” is subjective) give them a call first and see if it’s okay.

Maybe I’m just high from huffing GooGone all morning trying to get last year’s rim tape off my ‘cross tubbies or maybe I’m finally excited about riding bikes, but you just gotta remember to keep that effing PMA.

Right?

Right.

Coaches evaluations of the past 3 weeks

After the inaugural Tour of Franklin in downtown Columbus, I vowed to give bike racing a proper go and get better. But after some power evaluations with Coach Ripley ‘alien slayer’ Jonesy. She also informed me that I’m missing about 40% of my power when I need it – usually because I do some inefficient techniques at the most ineffective times.

First off, Coach Ripley says stay off the front. My excuse was that it is hard, especially in the category four fields. The ridiculously poor handling makes the category four fields a proverbial clown car. To be 100% fair, my ability to lean and turn my bicycle hasn’t been what it was in the past. After a few spills in some gravel road races this year, I’m a little weary of my own skills in whilst leaning over sideways.

Second, Coach says to get more quality rides in. Quantity can look cool on Strava, but quality is what counts on the weekends. I had no rebuttal to that.

Third, she wishes that I would get out of my own head during races. Again, I couldn’t agree more.

Lastly, Coach Ripley reminded me to have fun. Something I often think about, yet commonly overlook.

Race reviews for nerds that care –

  • 6.8.2013 + KingsCX Short Track – Went down to check out the short track races at KingsCX. Light turn out, different style course than Cap City Short Track. Tight and twisty with some decent elevation for the short lap. Rode well, never gave it too much gas. Flatted in the SS (on my cobbled together SSCX rig) and crashed hard during the 1/2/3 open. Gashed knee and so on.
  • 6.15.2013 + Ohio State MTB Championship at Chestnut Ridge – The category one field was strong; a bunch of Clevelanders that can shred. Chestnut Ridge, for what it’s worth, is not a race venue. Perfectly fun trail for a few laps, but too tight for racing. The groups spread out quickly. My first lap was a PR (somewhere around 41 minutes, 3 minutes off lead pace), laps two and three were significantly worse. A friend said, “Hey, top 10 in a cat one race is a top 10 no matter what.” I begged to disagree.
  • 6.23.2013 + Tour d’Burg – In the past couple of years I’ve rallied on and on about d’Burg being my favorite race of the year (mountain, road or ‘cross) and that hasn’t changed at all. I felt strong going in to the race and had some very good rides the week before. I was feeling strong and my turning was getting better. As it usually happens, things didn’t go according to plan and I finished a distant sixth, so far off the podium. 9127283678_108117e5a8_b(Thanks Mom)
  • 6.28.2013 + Tour de Grandview – If I felt fresh and strong at ‘Burg, then I definitely felt strong at Grandview, but something was missing. I did some crushing pulls to bring back two or three breaks and set up Aaron for a run at the podium. Unfortunately I didn’t recover quick enough and he wasn’t able to get him to the top step. Third for him, pack for me. Very disappointing.

9173769569_b1d2a7c7ec_b(Doing work. THANKS AGAIN MOM)

  • 6.29.2013 + Hyde Park Blast – I always say I won’t go back, but I always go back. Admittedly, I enjoyed myself a little too much after Grandview and didn’t eat within 2 hours of the race. Combined with two or three beers, I never got a proper recovery. The category four/five race started dry, but after two laps we were racing in torrential downpours. The field splintered and I made the top half of the first group. From there everything went down hill. The category three/four race was dry but with sprinkles. Starting just 3 short hours after the end of my first race, fresh isn’t what I’d consider myself. I made the initial split and hung on at the back of the group and popped thirty minutes in to the race. I hung and finished strong in the second group. Pack finishes in both races.

It’d be nice to say that I’d be getting back to work, but there aren’t many crits left to do. One option is the Lionheart GP (Formerly the Pur Tour) on a course that really isn’t all the fun. Quite frankly, I don’t like it. However, it provides the opportunity for multiple races and it’reasonably close to home. Another option is the Mass Ave. Crit in Indy. It’s further away, but the quality of field will be quite a bit higher than Lionheart GP. I can do two races, but the expense of the trip may not be worth it. Both races on August 10. On August 11, there is a full on RR in NE Ohio – Wooster area. Part of me will want to be there, the other part is saying, “race MTBs at Westbranch instead.”

I know, this shit’s boring. Just wait until I win a race and all you’re going to hear about his how much pizza I’m going to eat. Seriously.

This just in – I’m lazy bloggist and not a lazy cyclist (or well at least more active than usual)

A few weeks back I mentioned that I would probably update this blog about what’s been happening in and around the greater central Ohio area.

I never did, so for that, I apologize.

But let me catch you up real quickly.

While the early spring was rich with roubaix* races, the late spring was bountiful with good old fashioned mountain bike races. And, honestly, what is more fun than mountain biking?

Not a hell of a lot.

First off there was Mountwood, located in what used to be known as Volcano, West Virginia. In the late 1800s, Volcano was set ablaze after an oil fire spread out of control. Volcano, popular for travelers and tourist, never regained it’s “oil boom” success and eventually faded away. The Great State Parks and Forests of West Virginia reanimated the the land in the early 1920s and the park was formed. Some 75 years later a few knuckles heads got together and laid out some pretty damn impressive trails.

My race was a bit of a learning experience. Central Ohio had a nasty late winter/early spring and I hadn’t been on the mountain bike in months. My road base was okay. A little “fakin’ it” never hurt anyone, right?

Well, sure. Without being too long winded, my performance was just meh. 15 minutes off the lead pace wasn’t as bad as I’d thought, but still nothing to celebrate.

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Like, the only rocks at Mohican. Seriously.

A week later was the second race of the OMBC series at Mohican State Park –  a favorite of mine and, well, just about anyone else that rides mountain bikes in Ohio. While we had a cold, and somewhat wet, spring, the trails ended up being damn near perfect. Not dry but also not wet, just effing tacky. After a bit of a pre-ride, we decided the race was going to be fast.

Prior to Mohican, my best ‘race’ time was 2 hours 17 minutes for roughly 27 miles of racing. My goal for this year was to cut five to ten minutes off that time. As the race started, quite frantically I’ll add, I knew I was up against some stiff competition. With in the first 10 miles the race was blown apart by the usual suspects. Continuing at the only pace I had, I chipped away at my best times, however there were a few stumbles a lont the way. I eventually came across the line a few minutes later than the leaders with a time of 2 hours 10 minutes. A mildy impressive seven minutes cut from my previous best.

Next up was third stop on the OMBC series at Scioto Trails State Park. Without going in to depth, because honestly this is the worst place for a mountain bike race ever, my performance was awful. With a ton of climbing and what the race flyer called “largely non-technical single track” I expected much more from myself.

Then came something magical. No bicycle racing for a whole month. I used that time to ride a lot and try and lightly prepare myself from the summer criteriums.

There was also a host of fun things that happened in the time off. Sami’s birthday was in late April. We didn’t really do much though her mom, dad and grandmother came down from NE Ohio and we enjoyed a nice day of relaxing with them. There were cookouts and dining outs and shoppings and cake – oh, yes, cake.

Sami also started a pretty wicked herb garden. I’m not very patient, so she was in charge of potting and planting. My daily duties included watering and smelling the fresh herbs. We have about 16 basil plants and some cilantro and have taken to sprouting or own bean sprouts.

TOSRV? What SRV? Yea, no thanks. Instead Sami and I went to Cleveland and ate at Orale (far better then El Toro Loco, I swear). The next day we went to this antique mall. It was just meh. That’s sort of happens with antique malls, sometimes good and sometimes bad. I was hoping for a few surprises, but the only thing that almost tempted me was a wall of rock candy. Being “good” got the best of me and I didn’t succumb to any sugary goodness.

For Memorial Day I had all sort of fun bike rides planned in southern Ohio, but they quickly disolved once Sami and I realized that we were at my Dad’s. Food, beers and snacks were plenty. He also had a giant screen TV. That meant one thing – Private Season 4 of Arrested Development screening party. Over the course of 12 short hours we knocked out the entire new season. We also knocked out a fair amount of snacks and beers. I would have had it no other way. It was a much needed trip away from home. Very relaxing and very nice to spend time Sami, my Dad and Bette.

We even got to play with a puppy who was named after a popular television show character, Avon Barksdale.

All of a sudden it was criterium season. Since I’ve been working just about every week night I’ve had no real good chances to get out  on some fast group rides. It turned out to bite me in the ass.

The McD*n*ld’s TriState Crit was race #1 on the agenda for the summer. With a payout in the Cat 3/4 field of $1500 dollars, I was motivated to make the trek from Columbus to Huntington West Virginia. My chances of getting in the top 15 were good, but I knew I’d have to work. I had some leg speed, but not a lot. I got in to bad form when I chose to mash a gear, rather than choose a smallar gear and spin. In the end, it worked against me.

The following day was the Franklinton Crit, 5 minutes out my front door, in Columbus. Ian, Jacob and Ryan all camped out at my house the night before and we woke up and had a great breakfast. I was hoping the prior day’s efforts would pay off and my muscle memory would return. Also, after being told I was going to be given junior gears, my goal was to spin and spin fast.

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LLR – little ring riding

Much to my surprise, twenty-eight miles per hour in the little ring isn’t very hard, it just requires a lot of spin, coast, spin, coast. I noticed it was much easier to close down gaps and get up to speed. However, the prior’s day’s efforts did pay off, just in a different way. I was zonked. Where the TriState crit was twenty-six mile per hour average, Franklinton was twenty-seven throughout the race, I just never had it in my legs to get in a good position. Aaron was able to pull of top ten and I settled for a very minor field placing. Not only was there nothing in the tank following the race, I was a little depressed.

That being said – the Franklinton Crit was a blast. With downtown being a backdrop to a local criterium, the crowds being enthusiastic and the racing being top notch, the event was a smash. I hope it’s around for awhile. Columbus needs it and Franklinton has a lot to gain from it’s popularity.

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Ahh, so yes, it’s finally summer and that means one thing – Cap City Short Track is back!

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Keep checking the website for more information.

/out.

*I refuse to capitalize “roubaix” as it now refers to any race that is raced on dirt, gravel or cobbled roads. Roubaix is a small industrial town in northeastern France that is home to the finish of the “Queen of the Classics”, Paris-Roubaix.