Wednesday, October 22, 2008

MSG #1/ #2


MSG #1 has rekindled the CX fire under my ass. A weekend of great racing with friends and family yielded untapped fun CX is renown for.

Bunny strutting her stuff in the sand. (her first official CX race!)

Yet another way to get across a sand pit.

The slide technique. Lots of sand made for lots of carnage!

Mom led the first few laps of the races.

D-Rock and this "green dude" had battles of epic proportions all weekend. Each relenting to the other on alternate days.

Dirk Playing in the dirt.

Jenna Bales from NC works her way through the pit of despair.

Bunny Hopping

Hey that looks like my bike!

And Again!

Dirk leaves smoke trails when he corners.

The magical beat of a 55 gallon drum I got from a French stomp like band called Les Tambours du Bronx kept people going over the barriers.

It also evidently is a chick magnet.

So last year I got off to a really bad start with MSG. I tripped on a barrier and face planted into the second one knocking myself unconscious, breaking my nose and wrist, and damn near breaking my neck. So my expectations for MSG #1 were to get the weekend through without incident and finish a cross race. Mission accomplished. I actually did 4 cross races this weekend and I’m still feeling it mid week afterward. Saturday’s races brought the first of 4 very good results for me.

The Saturday Cat 3 race blew apart early and after struggling through the middle of the field I was able to break free to the front with 3 racers. The guy who won put a big gap on us which I was able to close twice, but every time I would close up to him he would attack again and destroy me. I eventually cracked and he ran away with the race nearly lapping the entire field. Still I was able to hold off the third place guy and grab a second place and I was completely stoked by that.

Sunday’s Cat 3 race had a smaller field but the competition was still quite fierce. Cori Rimmer had just gotten a cross bike and I remember thinking “shit”, because Cori has taught me a thing or two on my cross bike with his mtn bike. Cori drove hard off the start for the hole shot prize and gapped the entire field. I about gave up on chasing him, but I saw him sit up after crossing the line for the prize so I drove hard to catch on. After a lap of sparring back and forth I realized this kid could out sprint me just about any day and decided to lay down everything I had to get a mid race gap. To my amazement, it worked and I kept in about 20-30 seconds off for most of the rest of the race. I felt good about it till Cori said he had done a cross country race the day before, but still before this kid goes pro I got that one time when he was younger when I got him.

Cori sporting the socks. You could hear "go socks" in the crowds.

The Singlespeed races over the weekend by far went the best for me and I have to say I had the most fun on them of all the races. Both days had massive fields and the starts were insane. Saturday’s race brought an old racing theme back to cross for me…The dueling between myself and Todd Braswell from NC (where the real bad ass CX’ers in the southeast are from). I believe the quote of the race was “Hey Jeremy, just like old times eh?” Todd and I were able to break away from the field early and then the battle of wits began. Singlespeed cross is a lot more finesse because you just get spun out in sections and so all you can do is spin like a freak and draft where it’s open and pray that the momentum you need to get ahead in the corners does not exceed the traction capabilities of your tires. We took turns drafting off each other and taking leads but no one was ever able to break free. Coming around the final lap, the lead was changed a half a dozen times and we made light contact several times in tighter corners. The rush! The final stretch was a long uphill pavement section transitioning into a humped flat field for the line. Todd went hard to try to drop me initially on the hill and then I saw him sitting up to wait for the final sprint. It was at this time I decided I would not be able to out sprint him and I decided to go. I think I caught him a little off guard and by the time he responded I had a couple of bike lengths on him, which I was able to hold to the line. A super exciting race with a great finish. I have dreams about such races and it couldn’t have been more exciting. The drumbeat, combined with the crowd excitement only made it that much more of a rush. Todd is my idol when it comes to cross finesse as he’s got the techniques and handling skill set of a CX cat.

Sunday’s CX race was regretfully in Todd’s absence but another dark horse we hadn’t noticed right behind us, John Brenner, stepped up to the plate. John had been geared a bit high the previous day and still managed a close third place behind Todd and me, but Sunday it had clearly been fixed. I noticed this later in the race, when we were evenly matched in our pedaling efforts. He crushed it off the line immediately pushing the entire field into anaerobic death mode. I tried several times with hard attacks to drop him and I felt he did the same, but much like the previous day a battle of epic proportions proceeded. We as we approached the paved hill section on the last lap John put in a hard effort much like Todd, only there was no relinquishment to this attack. At this point I knew there was no chance for recovery and on the hope that I had put a little less effort into the hill as I was trying to draft off him I went waaaay out. I got a small jump on him and I decided I was going to go for it even if I puked my guts out on the line. I was first back onto the grass and final stretch but John was always gaining right to the line. I was now officially spent. I also found out that John is 40, so I can only hope I’m still that fast when I get older. Another exciting finish, and a great finish for the 4th race of the weekend. Looking forward to a long hard anaerobic cross season.John breathing down my neck in the SS race.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chicken Show!

This one's for you Stegal...

Apparently now one of my aliases is "chicken man". Here's a small entry I typed up but never posted a few weeks back showing my excitement over my first chicken show....

The week of Aug 29th, Abby and I made the trek out to Loudon county to the 4H chick chain sale. I didn’t know much before marrying Abby about 4H, but it seems like it’s a great program something akin to Boy Scouts which are some of my fondest childhood memories. The program that night was essentially a "chicken show" of sorts. I’ve never been to a chicken show up till now, but I have to say it was quite a fun experience.

There are apparently many characteristics on which to judge a chicken. Judges looked at beak structure, comb structure and color, feathers, legs, overall size, and even measured pubic bones to ascertain if a chicken was laying or not. The chickens were lined up in pens in groups of 3 and based on these characteristics. The judges were looking at consistency between the three birds in the pen that were judged. Breeds were divided up into their own respective classes and then there was a best in show judging. Abby and I were hesitant as we heard they had been going for a lot in other shows in other counties (upwards of 30 dollars a bird), so to be safe before the auction began we bought one chicken for sale off the side. A silver laced wine dot. After the judging was complete a bid list with the winners and bid order was handed out. The “Grand champion” chickens went for 32 bucks a chicken! Yes that’s 32x3= 96 for the pen. We thought at this point we were going home with one chicken, but to our pleasant surprise we were able to win the reserve grand champion (2nd place)! We won 3 addition Barred Rocks so now our chicken total on the home front is a baker’s dozen. The new arrivals have yet to start laying but they are close judging by their comb color and body size. Here's some photos from the trip out to the county, where we were the city slickers.

The Spread of birds.

Rhode Island Red class

Barred Rocks were the most popular bird at the show.

These are called leghorns and were the only ones at the show.

These are "black stars". As you can see they don't call them bird brained for nothing.

The new ladies are still getting used to being able to free range a bit.

Our New Silver Laced Wine dot.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunny No Chance of showers...for 8 days.

Last week was very busy and we had our hands full on the home front. Our one and only shower, which was very cheap plastic had leaked for the final time into the wall. After 2 months of fighting every caulk brand we could find, caulk tape, and everything but silly putty we decided that we needed to change out the corner options. The plastic we glued to the wall was thin enough that temperature changes would cause the liner to swell and the plastic would buckle opening fissures which would allow water to flow freely under the tub basin and into the wall. We got Abby’s brother to pick up some tile for us the weekend of the Black Bear race from an outlet, which saved us loads of money over local tile stores and borrow his tile cutter. One thing we negated to realize till we started laying the tile was that “green board” is not appropriate for backing on tile, so we had to also rip out the entire wall behind the shower and put into concrete board. After considerably more site prep and demo the project finally got off.

We're always so thankful we can keep Abby's retired parents from getting too bored.

Demo was fun for about the first 10 minutes. I really wish I had a fubar for this.

Now that's a mess.

Finishing touches on the concrete backer board.

We got all the tile laid in Sunday night, but our neighbors probably hate us now as we were up till midnight cutting for the damn thing. After tiling we let them set for two days and then grouted. Following that you wipe with cheesecloth and then apply several coats of sealant to the tile and grout.
Grooves help the adhesive work in and allow for drying.

Accent band of tile and progress here is faster with someone simultaneously making cuts outside. Spacing on the tiles is kept in place with little spacer kits that have "plus" looking shapes to them.

A little polish goes a long way.

Reposition fixtures and seal accordingly.

The hardest part was actually putting the old shower stall back in. If you’ve ever have tried to drill through ceramic with a masonry bit that’s supposed to work well you know what I mean. It took 1.5 damn hours to drill 6 holes for the shower stall. We finally got everything set in and caulked around where things needed to be sealed and then we headed up to home this past weekend for the MSG series to let everything have ample time to dry. In all we had no shower from Friday night 10-3-08 till Sunday evening 10-12-08. Which made for slight stinkiness and awkward showers in the front yard at night under a hose with flashlight. I’m pretty sure I flashed a few people driving up and down our road and they probably just thought, “Well it’s just the Chandlers”. Chilly night temperatures actually made the hose only a little cold, as the water seemed to be warmer than the air. All in all it was a painfully slow project for the regularity of use we get out of it and sometime in future homes I think we will try to make sure there at least two bathrooms so that you are able to work on one majorly once in a while.Tile is glued on with this special cement.

And DONE! No more stinky Chandlers. (Boogy included)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Black Bear Rampage 2008

Daddy Trent Flexing for the ladies

Dave Flexing for the ladies

Dirt Tans...the only safe tan.

Some of the only dirt on my bike was from the morning fog making the dust stick.

The probably boring account for you of my day at the races...

This year’s edition of the rampage was the diametrical opposite of 2007. It was hard, scary fast, and dry…too dry. I really haven’t been training much however I think I had a pretty decent base from commuting to work. I definitely could tell when there were periods of intensity that my leisure rides to work at 12 mph were not adequate.
The race started perfectly on time this year and went off without a hitch logistically. My only complaint would be the lack of water at the start/ parking area where the only source of refreshment was monster energy drink. Subsequently kids were bouncing around everywhere and just looking at the hundreds of gallons of monster made my heart palpitate and stomach say hell no.
The Expert men wave took off a full 30 seconds after the pro-semipro men. A group of 6 of us myself and “The Great Caleeeeb” included moved to the front and started doing some serious work that I was to ready for this early in the race. Within about 300 yards of asphalt road I was getting maxed out. Fortunately there were some guys feeling the same way in front the pace settled and then persisted. Gary Fisher started with the pro men and was quickly shed from their ranks but as our pursuit group passed the man himself, I flashed my bling and said hop on the pain train. Gary: “Alright man sweeeet”. So He held on almost to the top of the climb at our now blistering pace again…quite impressive for a Geezer who helped start this whole mtn biking thing.
As we crested the weed out hill section on the road we caught on to the semipro/pro group and the pace settled once again. A slight mist morphed itself to a thick fog shortly after that fogged glasses and made visibility drop to about 15 feet. The pace of the group slowed even more and at this point myself and 3 other dude went to the front. It’s pretty intimidating having the entire pro field behind you. A few seconds later a blur of colorful jerseys combined with the sound of squeaking brakes let us know (about 20 people) we had missed the turn for the start of the race….another great start. A group that had been behind the original lead group ducked into the woods in front of us and a herd of cussing pro’s fought their way back to the front.
Brush creek was some of the fastest scariest riding I have done in a long time. The Dust was terrible and this combined with the speed made any small mistake a big problem. I saw several people careen off the trail hell-bent on making the trip down the valley to the Ocoee river. One Pro who will remain name less informed me I was holding him up at the top of the overlook trail (I hadn’t even sent the guy till then and he acted like he had been waiting forever huffing and puffing). Shortly after he passed on a technical downhill I saw him off the left nursing a tacoed wheel and madder than a bucket of snakes. I could only help not laughing inside.
At this point in the race I figured I was somewhere in the top 10 as most of the people in front of me were pros and semi pros. I was informed to my pleasant surprise at aid station 1 I was in 2nd and I really couldn’t believe it. Settle down I told myself, still a long waaay to go. I passed several semi pro men and then about Thunder Rock Express I realized to my dismay I was going to have to stop and pee. It seems drinking 2 L of water before a race is a bad idea. My whiz was the never-ending whiz, you would have thought I downed an entire keg before the race. I imagined all the poor kayakers on the Ocoee that would be swept away in my river of over hydration. It seemed to take hours and about 10 people passed me, which motivated me further to ride with reckless abandon. After the express descent I started picking people off on the climb, which was a treat for me, as my climbing skill set has diminished significantly from the days of my previous racing. By the time I made it to the top of the Quartz loop I felt an unfamiliar tingle in my legs…bonking. The next few miles including the descent I spent trying to get some food and water in me, which given the pace up to this point had evaded my grasp.
As I began the climb back up to brush creek I knew I was in trouble, I felt weak and for the first time ever in a Cross Country race…I felt a cramp trying to come on in my leg. (great all that drinking earlier in the day had cleaned my electrolyte supply out I thought). Jeremy Hargroves caught me at the top of the overlook and never looked back, his endurance racer legs seemed to be trucking along just fine. I got passed by several other people at this point all who were semi pro/pros and the speed with which they dropped me became ever more depressing. I caught onto a friend of mine Matt who was having a “bad day” in the semi pro category and he definitely helped me keep up a better pace thought he last of brush creek. As we neared what was to the be the finish there was a left turn going up the road. I saw two men riding closely together so Matt and I turned and headed up after them. We caught them at the level of the road and found out they were in fact just rec riders, so we quickly doubled back down to the main trail which shot us out onto the old asphalt road there. Thank god the race ended now, I was about as toasted as I had ever been. When I saw the results I was pleasantly surprised to find I finished 4th in Expert, much higher than my top 10 aspirations. It seems the Knoxville crew had a good day with respectable finishes by all. Dave got another 2nd to add to his belt of podiums and Andy, Caleeb, Derek, Mark,Vick, the SMAPS, and Randy all had excellent races that I knew of. This year’s edition was definitely harder with the dry trails wielding an unyielding “dirt roadie” course. I’ll be happy to race some more technical and slower terrain in the near future. And of course CX in one week.

Cliff notes for the excessively long blog entry:
Class: Expert
Place: 4th in class / 8th out of 234 overall
Time: 3:05:20
Fun: Yes
Fast: Yes
Tired: Yes