Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Decorations

Christmas in the house!

We got a tree a few days ago and watching it morph into something special was lots o fun. Boogy took special interest in this new unmarked territory in the house and it took quite the persuasion to convince him it was mine and he better not try to mark it as his own. In addition this week we were able to set up the outside lights which tend to brighten things up a bit as well. Here’s a few shots of “Christmas at the Chandler’s.”

A homemade present from the in laws.

We Knew boogs was thinking about lifting a leg.

Abby politely informed him this would be a household act of war.

Fully decorated and alive.

Biker ornaments...

Homemade ornaments.

Random ornaments.

"inappropriate" home made ornaments. (you have to look for these to find them.

MSG #6

MSG 5 might have been the most fun I’ve had at a cross race in a long time but number 6 was absolutely insane from a spectator standpoint. The hill, which morphed from a run up, to a free for all death climb, evolved over the course of the day with the addition of some especially rowdy fans.
The hill was super steep

By the time the pro ½ race rolled around a large crowd had gathered and had begun to “seed” the hill mud with dollar bills. This only adds to congestion on the hill as racers bend over for bills and struggle to get up at the same time. This hilarity finally reaches its penultimate status when people begin to fall over on their high dollar cross bikes reaching for a dollar bill, or as in my case racers are tricked by the “ole’ dollar bill on a sting routine”. One particularly rowdy group of ETSU kids had a bill on a string and managed to get me to chase it to the side of the crowd where half confused and full of lactic acid I wrestled this unsuspecting fisherman into submission for a little piece of Washington.

On this particular lap the prize for the first person to the top riding was 3 pairs of socks.

My races went very well. I got 4th in the pro 1/2 race , a new PR for a field with star studded depth, and won the single speed race. I was worried going into the single speed race about energy reserves as the crowd had “forced” me to ride the hill multiple time the previous race. The resulting cheer high you got by getting up the hill often seemed to offset the extra energy required for the feat. There’s no question the power of the Santa hat I wore was the root responsibility for all my successes this weekend.

Another view of the steep grade.

The single speed race started badly I sat in about mid pack and watched Todd, my closest competitor, whom I had to finish no less that two people behind to keep my lead in the points, begin to run away with the race. After considerably fighting with chasing riders I was able to break free and bridge up to Todd by the close of the first lap. Going into a muddy corner near the hill of spectators I bobbled a bit but held the muddy corner faster than I had wanted, and then heard a collective gasp from the crowd as Todd bit it in the mud. My first inclination was to peg it and try to put some time on him, but I decided to not do so as he had done for me previously and then once he got back on I did throw down everything I had. I think falling down hard like that definitely breaks your rhythm, as the previous 2 races I experienced a similar fall and then never could get back into things. I was able to hold the lead till the end and finish off a great fall CX single speed season with a W. While it’s nice to win a custom made bad ass trophy sometimes, I find I really have to come to enjoy just the pure fun of single speed cross as my new favorite racing niche.

Abby sporting her Washington prize from the hill.

Abby was able to hold on for a strong fifth and a good start to her racing in women’s CX. We also completed her new commuter/single speed build in the parking lot (with lots of help from my dad while I was racing) for her to be able to compete in the single speed race as well, which she had a blast in.
I snagged a few Washingtons myself, 3 pairs of socks, and a few other hill prizes.

On a sad note this was my last appearance with facial "hair" (I can't grow the "wolfman" Z Johnson). While I couldn't convince the family and wife that "Decembeard" existed, there might be a slight chance for "Bearduary" comeback.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Special thanks to my parents for racer accommodations, service (fresh waffles), and personal cheering sections during the race.

What's this white stuff falling on my head?

Fighting through the rear ranks of the field is tough with these guys.

This was a "run up". I figured that out the hard way, after losing several positions I had fought hard for on the first lap.

Ok this white stuff is starting to stick to the course...this could get interesting...

Dirk and I both used this tactic a little more than others I think.

Cori comes to my rescue and we start trading pulls against the pack of wolves behind us.

Case of the "Dave red shins" and ice buildup after one of the races on my leg.

Derailleurs work better without application of mud and ice.

No Shifting up here either.

By the start of the single speed race it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Andy attacks and Todd and I try to hang on.

My ride becomes the solo survival on the ice sheets and snow of death.

I swore my bike was getting heavier...and it was.

This weather was meant for single speeds.

A lonely bike in the pits.

Icicles forming throughout the day.

Snow pack by race end was impressive and lots of fun.

More shots of the course.

Race Report-

While I love CX, once in a while there comes a race that is special and will sit in memory for a long time. This weekend was one of those. The conditions were already set to be epic, with brutal cold in the morning (16 deg) and course that had an interesting mix of ice and mud. Grown men were rendered crawling invertebrates on icy corners that were not given heed. Periodic sun melted frozen dirt and mud and then refroze when the clouds came around. Around the time the pro race started the temperature began to drop again and a few flurries started to fall. What ensued was some of the most intense cross conditions I’ve encountered in quite some time. The course morphed from semi slick mud and ice slurry to a full on slushy with the first snowflakes. I started the P1/2 race in the caboose region and soon by what I deemed sheer luck people began to fall. They we dropping like flies, the snow that was slushy for the first few laps was now being packed ever more and becoming sheets of ice. Corners were reduced to glorified ice skating rinks and people were flailing about (myself included) frustrated at the limited purchase and little comfort offered by their tires. By the end of the race I started fading a lot but Mr. Rimmer stormed up to my aid and trading off pulls one another we defended our positions till the end of the race.

Then came the single speed race…By now the full force of the white tempest was upon us. Glasses were useless and my helmet visor afforded the only protection for my face. Now I know why those CX nuts in Belgium wear those goofy damn hats all the time in the mud and snow. Andy and Todd shot off the front and with my hands wet and half frozen in my gloves I struggled to hold on to the initial attacks. By the second lap I had somehow worked my way to the front but we were all very aware of the mounting tension in the front. As we crossed the line starting the third lap Todd shot off and never looked back. Andy and I chased but were soon dropped as I think the Pro 1/2 race had taken all we had out of us. Andy then proceeded to drop me on the final lap and I spent the remainder of that last lap in crisis mode, but also having the time of my life. With a good stretch of land between me and next guy I tried a few sides through some corners and felt out some good handling characteristics of my tires in snow pack. While winters in TN are mostly rainy rather than snowy, if we get some more I’ll feel a bit more confident with my handling ability on it. I was having so much fun at the end of the single speed race I really did want it to go no for another few laps but all good things must come to end I suppose. So for now I’ve still got the slightest of leads in the single speed points series and going into the last race I find myself grappling with the decision to abandon the Pro 1/2 and concentrate on the single speed riding to finish strong or to continue my duel race format which I think is helping my overall cross fitness out considerably.

Props to all the Knox peeps that represented this weekend. JM had a great single speed race absolutely crushing all that lay in his path, Cori crushed me and the Gregs looked strong as well. Abby crept a little up on her competition in the points series and my mom fortified hers with another strong finish. It took some tough skin to come out on such a cold day but in the end it was a great race.