Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween Cross Festival at the Flying M Ranch

Flying M Ranch
Sunday, October 29 2006
Yamhill Oregon

Coffins, Kegs & Costumes, Oh My!
Sunday, the Cross Crusade Series continued its march toward mayhem with it's annual 'cross race & Halloween festival out at the Flying M Ranch in Yamhill. This is the most fun race to spectate and participate in of the year. So much, that I felt I couldn't miss it even after the "incident". The beer handups flowed (I didn't partake, but probably should have to ease the pain) and the goofy costumes showed that Portland’s ‘cross scene is really all about having fun.

Check out the bike...

After last weeks win at Hornings I felt that I had something to prove, so I threw caution to the wind and decided to race even though I wasn't yet healed (see the write up of "incident" that occurred on Wednesday), plus, this event is just so much fun racing against Bees, skeletons, Batman, naked guy, etc. So with a newly purchased helmet, a bunch of ibuprofen and a costume, I headed out to Flying M to partake in the festivities!

The start of the Bs

I warmed up on my wind trainer for awhile (Once again I neglected to preride) before the race then headed to the start area. The race had been pushed back by 30 minutes, but that didn't start the Bs from lining up anyhow, so there I was faced with the decision to quit warming up or line up. I wisely chose to line up and got a first line spot (which as the time progressed got more and more squeezed). Finally, the race started and I took off - as much like a rocket as a shirtless injured man on a cool October day can. I was in the lead group of about 5 guys as we powered through the first lap of the 1.4 mile course which included such features as a coffin to jump, the 6 pack barriers, tight loamy single track switch backs, a really long gravel road climb and two brutal bumpy downhills. Those downhills did something to me to break my spirit. My damaged body started dreading them with each subsequent lap… My right wrist (taped up) and shoulder (3 ibuprofens & 1/2 a vicadin) screamed at me with each and every bump.

By the third lap I was uncomfortable, by the 6th lap I was barely surviving. After crossing the finish line at the completion of the 6th lap, I heard final lap which seemed to give me a bit more energy ("I'm almost done"). And I rode the last lap as fast as I possibly could. I finished in 14th place - Not overly spectacular considering the previoius weeks finish, but I'll take it.

All in all a fun experience - but man, it was hard! 1.4 mile course which included such features as a coffin to jump, the 6 pack barriers, tight loamy single track switch backs, a really long gravel road climb and two brutal bumpy downhills.

The end of the race

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Well, it happened... I avoided the chaos and crashes at Hornings Hideout (including the guy that got lifeflighted..) only to crash hard on a training ride this morning.

I was riding at Mt Tabor with my training buddy Tim on a pre work 'cross specific workout. We were finishing up our 3rd and final circuit so I decided to really push it. I think I must have been stand/sprinting, cause the next thing I knew, I was on the ground watching my bike sail over my head and down a shallow ravine. I sat up, felt immediate and intense pain in my shoulder and thought "Oh Shit, I pulled a Jonathon Page"(one of the U.S. ofAs top cross racers that is currently out for the rest of the season after crashing and seperating his shoulder).

A walk/stumble out of the park and to the road (with multiple stops for the prevention of fainting) and with Tim lending me a hand. I tried to call to my wife, failed (fyi - if you are going to carry a cellphone, make sure it is charged!), borrowed Tim's phone, called Megan and asked her to pick me up on her way to work... She was conveniently scheduled to work at Portland Providence at 9:00AM...

Long story short, she picked me up and dropped me off at the ER. I got X-rayed and discharged (no permanent damage!) with a script for Vicadin. I got Megan to take me home for a shower and a ride (by car) to work where I spent the afternoon telling everyone that I was ok. It's 10:30 PM and I'm doing ok. We'll see how I feel in the morning (let alone Sunday for the race).

BTW: I just checked out my helmet - 3 deep cracks... I guess it is time for a replacement - stat!
Kids at home, wear your helmet!

BTW: The bike is no worse for wear... A couple of adjustments and it is back to normal.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rockin it at Hornings Hideout

Cross Crusade #3
October 22 2006
Hornings Hideout

After a pretty hard early part of the week training since the last race (Hillsboro Stadium) as well as trying as my hardest to overcome a cold, I took a couple of easy days (Thursday off and Friday as purely a recovery ride). After a good night sleep on Friday I woke up Saturday morning feeling pretty good. Unfortunately I spent the majority of Saturday afternoon fighting some sort of nasty lower intestinal bug as I am sure my poor family can attest (Thanks Leo…). Anyway, I went to bed Saturday evening hoping that I would feel a few degrees better on Sunday which I fortunately did. I woke up, ate some breakfast, drank some coffee popped some tums, loaded up the Eurovan with the bike and family and headed out to Hornings Hideout.

Pre race

Talk about a cool place. About 35 minutes outside of Portland on some private land (Horning Maybe?) a secret little oasis down in a canyon with cabins, two playgrounds, a stocked trout lake, and of course some sweet trails whipping around the facility and in and out of the woods. I got a half-assed pre-ride on the course but at least was able to check out the major tricky parts of the course - the massive runup, the twisty ribbon of downhill single track and the off camber slippery corner that seemed to create a victim every few minutes. This course was tailor made for someone comfortable on the dirt as there wasn't a stitch of pavement on the entire course!

Knowing my weakness of poor starts and taking a page from the Patrick Wilder playbook, I lined up early and started at the front line. The starting gun went off and I took off at full throttle making it out of the mass of riders early on (75 starters). I was with the front group going over the 6 pack of barriers and I managed to push/elbow my way up to the top 5 guys going into the first double track climb and subsequent downhill. At the massive runup I pushed my way to the front of the pack. At the top of runup the trail turned into a small sliver of single track that whipped down the hill. I was out at the front of the pack and thus was able to avoid what I am sure was a bottleneck. Down the hill, around the corner (and through the cheering crowd, who like a bunch of NASCAR fans were drunk and hoping for a crash (Thankfully, I didn't oblige). The course continued to wind around the facility with the lap completing at the start area. I came in first and won the first lap prime (a bottle of wine)

Leading coming out of the barriers, note guy crashing on my right

Am I taking this seriously?

My 'cross fans

I managed to increase my lead over the rest of the top guys by about 30 seconds going into the second lap. Actually, I was able to stay in front of the pack for the next 5 laps and finished a total of 6 winning my first B race of the season.

At the finish line

Congrats Dad!

Next up is the Halloween Cross festival which is also going to be mountain bike skill friendly. I'm looking forward to it!

As for "the system", the system (Stans Notubes rims and tubeless tires) worked flawlessly - I was able to run the tires at 38 psi and had plenty of traction and stability.

A few members of Team Cyclepath

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Moving on up, to the top, to a deluxe apartment in the sky

Sunday, October 15
Cross Crusade #2
Hillsboro Stadium

Hillsboro Stadium hosted the 2nd cross race in the 'Cross Crusade' Series out in a suburb of Portland - Hillsboro. I woke up on Sunday with the rain coming down pretty good, I was excited about this, because it would be my first cross race of the season with rain and mud. (Coincidentally, the Crusade race at Hillsboro last year was also pouring rain). I actually like the inclement weather as I seem to do better at these events when the weather is really bad. Incidentally, it rained the whole time I warmed up and through out most of the race. As soon as the Bs were done, the sun started peaking through the clouds and the As had a partially sunny race (still equally as sloppy though).

The course consisted of a pavement start, which degraded into a dirt/gravel road which then turned into some really bumpy double track which then turned into some really slippery single track. This continued for awhile with some more gravelly road and long flat paved straight-aways along with prerequisite '6-pack' barriers and runups over logs and a few grass stretches for good measure. The course is really one that is oriented to the roadies in the group (something that I am really not) because of the aforementioned long flat gravel and pavement sections that really favor putting it into the big ring and sprinting. I actually did pretty good during these stretches. Also, the inclement weather provided an 'anti roadie' remedy - the rain turned the off-camber mud sections to the most slippery snot like mud you can imagine. I witnessed so many slow and high speed crashes that bikes & bodies became barriers to avoid and overcome as much as the natural and man made ones! I went down once around a corner when my rear tire slid out and tried to pass my front - thankfully, it was slow speed and didn't really make me lose any places (and neither the bike or myself were hurt).

I had a pretty good start this week - not quite on the front line, but pretty close, so when the start bell went off I was able to attack. As I've stated before, no matter how hard I try, I am not a good starter, so a good 20 or so guys were in front of me during the first part of the race. On the first corner someone went down and I narrowly avoided missing him. I stayed with the front pack into the dirt and began to slowly work my way up. Each lap I worked my way of further occasionally losing a place to some rider that came from behind. Thankfully this has a tendency to serve as a huge motivator which got me to 'givr' a bit more, thus moving me further up in the group. I battled one particular guy for a couple of laps- the two of us trading position before finally dropping him in what was probably the 5th lap.

Results: Each lap was just under 2 miles long. We did 6 laps in the 45 minute timeframe - thus just over 11 miles. I finished at 5th place (out of 89 riders). The best cross result this year and if memory serves me, better than my best results from last year. Hopefully race #1 was just a fluke and I'll continue to compete at this level.

Joshua & Dan after the race

Until next week!

At the Pumpkin Patch

So, this post isn't about bike racing, or bikes, or anything bike related other than the fact that the corn maze at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvies Island would be an epic place for a cross race...

We went to the Pumpkin Patch with the Malkin's on Saturday. Here are some pictures of the cousins enjoying themselves...

Oh, Amazingly enough, there are a few non family members reading this site - The Malkins are my sisters family. They were down for the weekend from Seattle. The two little(r) kids are mine and the two older boys are my sisters. Thus this sequence is really of the cousins having a good time together down.

Back row: Jennifer (sis), Harold (brother-in law), Megan (wife) Next row: Kendall (daughter), Leo (nephew), Max (nephew), Little Simon (son)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Battle at Barlow

October 8th, 2006
Sam Barlow High School
Gresham, Oregon

This past weekend was a break in the Crusade schedule, but a cross race at an old Crusade location----dubbed the 'Battle at Barlow'. It was a really nicely put on race by Veloce Bicycles albeit not quite as large as some of the Cross Crusade races have become.

I started the race out on the wrong foot so to speak. I was at the finish line watching the Master Bs come in and trying to get warmed up. I had assumed that the start line was there and I would just jump into the line whenever they announced the B line up. At about 10 minutes to race start I started getting nervous since I seemed to be the only "B" racer that was around, I finally asked a couple of juniors where the start was and they directed me to a spot way far away...

Anyway, I got to the start/staging area and of course got a horrible start location (no first or second line up for Dan). I tried to wiggle my way in as much as I could (though I always feel like a jerk about doing it). Luckily, the guys at the back are not all that serious so it wasn't that big of a deal to weasel in.

The race started quick as possible. Each lap consisted of a stretch alongside an athletic field, a couple of switch backs, a long paved downhill with a sharp 90 degree turn to an uphill and then some artificial switch backs before the first barrier (Joy - dismounting on pavement at speed is fun, isn't it). From there, we went around another athletic field and dropped down into some actual single track which then led to the biggest challenge of the day... a barrier, bridge run up combo (see pic below). I tried the stairs once and used the dirt trail to the right from there on out.

The organizers let you pick whether to go left or right (wasn't that nice?)

After the run up was some more single track weaving in through the trees, another pair of barriers and the lap was completed. I clocked my first lap at 5.7 minutes, so this was a FAST course. At the end of the 45 minute race (which actually turned out to be around 50 minutes, I had completed 8 laps and 11 miles. (so for those of you with out calculators at home, each lap was 1.37 miles long).

The first 2 or so laps were dryish. The ground was moist and the pavement dry. It started raining on the 2nd lap and got progressively wetter and more slippery as the race progressed. The stretches through the parking lots were the most sketchy.

I finished the race at 12 place - I'm much happier about this finish then my previous weeks finish, granted, the field was smaller (60 or so guys instead of 87). Regardless, I raced smarter, faster and stronger and I can't wait until the next one at Hillsboro Stadium (Oct 15th).

On a side note, this was my first race on my rebuilt race wheels - I'm running Chris King Hubs built on Stan's ZTR 355 29'r rim and Michelin Mud Tires. This is a tubeless NoTubes system and it works great. The rims wheels are actually lighter than my previous build of King hubs, DT RR rims and Hutchinson Clinchers. Gotta love the Stans. I really think this is going to be the wave of the future - All the advantages of tubulars without the cost and maintenance - and you can run whatever tire you want. I'm gonna be converting my mountain bike the first chance I get.

No iPod change this week: Early Man, Audioslave, NIN... However on a side note, if you spend time in front of a computer and you like music - check out Pandora. This free site builds you a personalized radio station based on music that you like - sort of a personal DJ. I wish I could take it on the go.

It's late and I need to sleep!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cross Crusade #1: Alpenrose

Portland Oregon
Alpenrose Dairy
October 1, 2006

Alpenrose Dairy hosted the season opener for the Crosscrusade series. Something like 798 guys and girls faced a sunny and dry palm bruising, dust inhaling, opener to the most attended cyclocross series in the US (and possibly the world). Plenty of spectators, plenty of fun. The course was bumpy (going through a pasture) with lots of run ups, lots of asphalt and some stairs thrown in for good measure. Alpenrose is a unique course as it is one of the few cross courses out there that actually incorporate a velodrome. As usual, the crusaders set up a challenging course.

The start of the "B" race

Feeling the pain
There were 87 guys in the B class. I started 'close' to the front and had a decent start. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to pre-ride, but that is pretty regular for me.


I raced a hard race, completed 6 laps and finished in 21st place. I'm not disappointed in my ride, however I am surprised at how far back I ended up (last year I was consistently placed top 10) I thought I was prepared as I have been training harder than usual. Apparently so had the rest of the B's. We'll see how future races go...

For more on the race, this is a great video interview by Dan Kaufman of "Crank my Chain" of Brad Ross the promoter of the Cross Crusade.

Oh yeah, this week on the Ipod: Early Man

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Worst Training Ride Ever

I have this weekday 'cross training ride that I like to do whereas I ride the cross bike up from downtown Portland up through the hills to Skyline. I then ride North for a mile or so and drop into Forest Park via Firelane three - From there I ride Lief Erickson trail (dirt road) back into town. This 14 -15 mile ride takes me about 50 minutes which makes it a great lunch time ride. On this particular day I had 90 minutes between meetings...

Well this Thursday I met my friend Matt at the base of Lovejoy (the road up to Skyline). He was on his mountain bike as he has not yet been indocternated into all that is 'cross. (Poor Neophyte).

Anyway, all went well until we dropped into Firelane three. This is a pretty fast 2 mile descent that I think drops 800 feet or so. On a mountain bike it is pretty tame however on a rigid skinny tired cross bike it is kind of hair ball.

I hit something pretty hard with my front wheel and it started skipping when I used the brakes... Shortly after the front tire went out. Luckily I was carrying a spare and a pump. I rapidly fixed it and Matt and I were on our way. We got on Lief Erickson and I got my 2nd flat. This time in the rear. With no spare tubes (and Matt riding a mountain bike ) I had no choice but to try to patch it. At this point it was about 12:55 (my meeting was at 1:30), and Matt decided to bail on me due to his own work schedule. I patched the tube, pumped up the tire and immediately it failed. Ugh... I pull out the inner tube, and pull out my other holy inner tube (from the front wheel). It only had a small hole so I patched it with my remaining tube. I pumped up the tire. Eureka! It held air and I was on my way. At about the 2 mile mark (2 miles from the exit to the park and about 5 miles from my office) the tire failed again. I rode it for a bit and then decided to run it. I called in to the office using my cellphone and said I would be late (it was about 1:25 by this point).

I ran for about 2.5 miles until I reached the Fat Tire Farm (local bike shop) where I begged for a tube in exchanged for my good word and my roadid as collateral. Luckily they took pity on me and let me have the tube. I fixed the tire and made it back to the office by 1:55 (the call had been rescheduled for 2:00). I downed some water and called into the conference number to talk about my Treatment Cost Estimator product line with a client.

I returned to FTF on my way home that evening and paid for the tube (and bought another one).

3 flats, 1 ruined rim (my nice Chris King wheels) and a 2.5 mile run in bike shoes carrying my bike... Matt emailed me later to tell me he made it back to his downtown office by 1:20...


My Kelly featured on Plus One lap

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