Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Recap

Wow, I can't believe tomorrow is New Years Eve. This year flew by. Christmas has come and gone, so here's a couple highlights from ours.

We spent Christmas Eve with Jackie's family. They have a huge family party every year, with probably over 50 people in attendance. The first couple years it was a bit intimidating, but I feel really comfortable with everyone now.

Christmas Day we headed out to Romeo to spend the day with my family. This year my sister hosted. It was fun because Hayley got a Wii for Christmas, so we had a blast playing that with her. Here's some shots from the day.

Hayley and I getting ready to square off in tennis.

Mom even got in some bowling action.

I had the day after Christmas off so I was finally able to participate in the day after Christmas ride the team usually does. It started out as a big group planning to meet up at Stoney Creek. That plan quickly deteriorated as Michigan's wonderful weather had other plans for us. I ended up meeting John and Todd for a quick ride on the side streets of Marysville early in the morning. It was quite cold out, but the bottle of Hot Damn Todd brought helped warm us. About a third of the way through it started sleeting really hard with some strong winds. We made it back safely and warmed up with some coffee.

Two days after Curt and I got out to pedal around the streets of Romeo. That was an interesting ride too, with temps in the low 30's and 50mph wind gusts. Still better than the trainer though.

The last image of Christmas is our cat, Bailey. This one's for our cousin Allison over in England. Bailey is typically the trouble maker between him and his brother. The other day he decided he needed to climb into the Christmas Tree. Luckily its artificial.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Trainers, Pushups and Stairs

Well, racing is over for about 4 months now so its time to do some off season training. My offseason routine is going to consist of indoor trainer sessions on the bike, hopefully some outdoor rides on the weekends, weekly stair runs, road and trail running if its not too icy and lots of strength training.

Back in May I bought some adjustable dumbells from Dave at BFB called SportBlocks. They're great because you can adjust them from 5 to 50lbs in about 5 seconds. I've been using them semi-regularly since and have definitely noticed a difference in my upper body strength. for the winter, I need to start incorporating lower body workouts as well.

Pushups are on my mind too. I recently joined one of the coolest news sites out there, Just Finish. Its a social networking site similar to Facebook, but its aimed at ordinary people who either have or hope to complete extraordinary events. One of the groups I've joined on there is the One Hundred Pushup challenge. Its a six week online program designed to work your way up to completing 100 consecutive pushups. I've only done my initial test so far to determine what level I need to start at. I managed 35, so I've got some work to do.

This past Thursday I did my first stair runs of the year. John got me going on this last year as a great offseason training to build strength and endurance. The hockey arena in town is open most of the time for youth hockey or figure skating so we just let ourselves in and run laps, up and down. A full lap has eight up and eight down. Since it was my first time back I only did four laps on Thursday and let me tell you I'm glad I didn't push any harder because I am really sore right now.

Today is windy with a sleet/rain mix expected throughout most of the day. Plus we had freezing rain last night so everything looks a little frozen right now. Back on the trainer we go.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


At least that's what it looked like when we got there. Sunday was the Michigan State Cyclocross Championships at Waterford Hills. We had been getting snow all week, including quite a bit on Saturday, plus the temperatures weren't supposed to get out of the teens.

I left the house around 7am and drove to Romeo to meet up with Curt. When we were loading my stuff into his car I thought "its not that bad out". Once we got to Waterford I ate my words. Stepping out of the car I realized there must have been something blocking the wind at Curt's place and there was nothing to help us at the race course. It was bitter cold, plus there was easily 6+ inches of snow with drifts much deeper.

I wasn't really sure what to expect. Based on crashes at my last couple races I put some snow/mud specific tires on the bike so I hoped that would make a difference but I didn't really know what to expect. So we got registered, then changed into basically every piece of riding clothes I brought, then headed out to pre-ride the course. At first it was pretty slow going, trudging through some pretty deep snow on the course. Then I look up and here comes Robert (the race promoter) on his 4-wheeler with a plow and he is actually plowing the race course. That's not something I ever expected to see. But it worked great as it was way easier to ride where he plowed. The new tires felt pretty good too.

Before long it was time to line up so we headed to the start. For some reason they decided to start all the men in one big group instead of splitting us into two. I sat on the back and let the faster guys move up front. That ended up making the first lap really slow as it constantly bottlenecked and at times I was almost track standing. As we raced I got more and more comfortable with the tires and pushed their limits. I managed to stay upright the whole race and only had to run one hill, just because the riders in front of me stopped and didn't get out of the way.

Curt and I ended up riding the whole race together. This was only his second race of the year, coming back from a knee injury, but he rode well. I could tell he still had a lot of his technical skills with him as he would pull ahead on me in the tight stuff, but I would pull him back in on the flats. We finished towards the back of the pack, but it was a fun race in the snow.

The rest of the TSB CX crew was out too, including Joe, who hasn't been around much lately. Unfortunately he flatted so he didn't finish, but it was good to see him anyways. John did his usual domination, taking home like a dozen awards on the day (I didn't think you could win that much from one event). Lee was the big surprise of the day, storming the old guy field with his mountain bike and grabbing 2nd place and Ben finished mid pack.

Its weird, racing is over for the year, but I really want to keep cross racing. I question while I do before and during the races, but then after I want to do another one. Time to start training for next year though. I'm hoping to do some more endurance stuff next summer so I better start getting those base miles in.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crossing It Up

In my last post I mentioned I've been doing some cross racing this fall. So far I've done 4 races this year. Of the first three I felt good and was happy with my results at one and pretty disappointed with my finish at the other two. So going into my 4th race I was really hoping to improve. It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving at Bloomer Park. The weather sucked, really cold (low 20's) with a heavy layer of frost on the ground. That made it a little tough to get moving at first. After a lap of warm up I actually felt pretty good though, other than numb fingers, so I got some warmer gloves on and headed to the start line.

Other than the cold, it was a great morning. John, Ben and Todd were there racing as usual, plus Curt was out racing instead of taking pictures. It was really cool to have him out there riding his bike with us again. He's been sidelined almost all year with a knee injury, so I haven't ridden with him since early spring. That's made the year seem weird since we really got into the sport together and typically ride together quite a bit. Also, we had some great spectators that day too, with Brian (a fellow TSb member), John's dad Rich, Jackie, and her sisters Jill and Amy there to cheer us on.

So, back to the race. They blow the whistle and off we go. As usual, I can see John shoot off the front with the holeshot. I was hanging about mid-pack, actually feeling pretty good. Then we hit the open grassy area just before the first set of barriers, and as I'm rounding a 90 degree corner my front tires washes out on the frosty grass. I went down really hard onto the frozen ground, skidded and rolled over, slamming my bike into the ground. A couple guys paused to ask if I was okay, and I popped up pretty quickly. It didn't make sense to jump back on the bike yet so I grabbed it and just ran to the first set of barriers. By this point everyone in 39 and under caught me and the 40 and over guys were passing me too. As I crossed the barriers Curt passed me and I thought I could jump on and ride with him for a bit. As soon as I jumped on the bike though something felt wrong. I quickly realized the my handlebars had spun on the steer tube and were off center about 15 degrees. Off the bike again, I tried to straighten them with no luck, so I jumped back on and rode with crooked handlebars. It took a little bit but eventually I got used to it. By this point I was quite a ways back so I started trying to bridge up to some of the other riders. I would make some progress, but then fall back again, over and over. Basically every off camber area or tight turn would make me nervous after the early crash so I know I was riding really conservatively.

I ended up coming in second to last in my class, my worst finish of the year. Actually I think its my worst finish ever in cyclocross. Plus the crash added insult to injury, it knocked my new front wheel out of true and made me really sore for the next couple days. The rest of the team did really well though. John won the C race with a sprint finish against Jason from RBS.

Now on to the state championship race at Waterford Hills. Remember above when I said the weather sucked at Bloomer? Well, it was actually really nice. This is going to really suck. If we're lucky it will get out of the teens, and we're supposed to have a couple inches of snow. I did get some new tires, Michelin Mud 2's so hopefully that helps, though I suspect that it has more to do with the operator than with the equipment.

Here's the link to all the pictures Jill took at the race: http://picasaweb.google.com/JandJSchneider/BloomerCX2008