Category Archives: Off the Bike Report

July!

July was a busy month, full of a lot of good times on and off the bikes. It included a WORS race, a National Championship, and a MNSCS event. Off the bike there was camping, birthdays, and even a wedding (well the wedding was actually August 1st) all spit between WI and CO.

The biggest race highlight was finishing 2nd in the Singlespeed Nationals race. I’ve done limited riding on a single before so it was something not necessarily in my element. This made for some awesome pre race nerves, but by the race started it was largely business as usual. One gear or not bike racing is largely the same in that whoever focuses and works the most usually wins, this assuming that you show up with good fitness.  Using a 32×20 allowed me to sit on some of the climbs to finish out the three long laps of racing. I was with JJ for 1/2 a lap, but he got away near the top of the climb while we struggled to pass Expert racers in the singletrack.  For the most part I rode the race solo and the time gap to JJ stayed at roughly a minute for the bulk of day. I was having fun with the course and figuring out just how hard to go on various climbs.   JJ is a CO guy and we’ve got back and forth in previous races when I’m using gears and he’s on the single.  The Tucson Daily Star even did a little write up: here.

Prior to Nationals, the Eau Claire crew put on a good WORS showdown with the Fireracker race. I was recruited to race with a fork mounted camera, but so far none of that footage has surfaced. If and when it does, there’ll be a couple good crashes and plenty of chasing to be seen since I was off the lead group for most all of the race before finishing fourth.

And to close out the racing for the month I got over to Elk River, MN for the Singletrack Attack last weekend. It was my first ride back from Colorado and unbeknown to me my front tire hadn’t fully sealed itself prior to the start of the race. About 10 minutes into things I was forced to stop and add CO2 from the Big Air. This did the trick, but several riders were able to go by so I had some passing to do and it didn’t take much for the lead trio disappear and I wasn’t able to join in. Another fourth place was the result.

Up next will be the Ore to Shore. I’m excited for this one and hope to have another good go at it after finishing 2nd there a year ago.  I’ve been able to get in some solid training for it, so if all goes well it ought to be an interesting race at the front end.  Over and out,  -TJ

Wisdom Teethless

Life has been rough since Friday when I had all three (that’s all I had) of my wisdom teeth yanked. In just thirty minutes of wrenching its amazing how much havoc one oral surgeon put into my face. It’s been nearly six full days and things are still swollen and sore. I got on the bike today and sixty minutes was plenty enough for me to be done. Every crack in the road seemed to rattling my face around 10X the normal amount. Being off the bike recently isn’t even the worst of it as I’ve been absolutely craving every food with any texture. Mashed potatoes, applesauce and yogurt aren’t very satisfying any more, but anything crunchy is too much to handle. I bet by the weekend I’ll be able to touch my upper and lower teeth together once again… I tell ya, having dental insurance and getting to go through all of this is such a wonderful thing. Seriously though, at least they’ll never have to pull them again.

Things in Tucson are in a bit of a transition as we go from hot to really hot. High temps are now in the upper 90’s by mid afternoon so it’ll be early morning training once I’m back in commission. The race scene here is pretty much coming to an end until next fall’s cyclocross scene kicks off, so I’ve been scheming up some summer time plans. Nothing is 100% certain yet, but I’ve got some fun ideas floating around in the my head. Thoughts of singletrack and varied weather keep me going. Up next will either be the NMBS in Santa Barbara or the Arizona State Championship MTB race in Flagstaff. Of course the better competition will be in Santa Barbara, but the thought of keeping it local to race on some absolutely killer trails is very tempting. Maybe for MTB they actually award a jersey (unlike the ‘cross championships) which would be pretty cool to race for.

This weekend will be a re-kickoff of the training as I get back into the groove of things. I’m really looking forward to the summer racing! Best of luck to those competing at Collegiate Road Nationals – of course I’m partial to those who I coach, but hopefully everyone there has a fun time. The U of A team sent full womens and mens squads up to Fort Collins so they ought to fair well in the DI fields. Chloe will have an 11 tooth cog to go with her 50t chainring this time, so all the girls should be on high alert since she’s been out-sprinting most with a 50×12 gear.

That’s all I’ve got for now, enjoy the ride (and all those crunchy foods). -TJ

House Cleaning

Have a look in the Garage for links to some bike stuff that’s been collecting dust lately. Help me clean house by helping yourself to a deal or two or three. Enjoy the riding while I’m laid up for the weekend – without my wisdom teeth.  -TJ

The Climb to the Top.

I made it up to the top of Mount Lemmon today. Above 9,000 feet it was cool with temps in the upper 30s. Even with the right gear the first half of the descent was quite chilly. The sight of Tucson so far below begs daunting thoughts of how long the ride back down will be – I always hit E on the descent, never while climbing. This was the first time that I’ve been up past the ski area and these last couple miles of climbing really are the hardest since the grade is quite a bit steeper than on the Catalina Hwy. Door to door the ride was just over five hours with 6000 feet climbing or so – definitely enough to have me feeling spent! I’ll be back for more of this ride, but not any time too soon… I had planned to ride to Summerhaven initially, but I ran into Andy Schultz who was descending as I was mid way up the mountain. He asked if I was going to the top and I said that I was before we parted ways. Motivation can come from many sources, but I knew Summerhaven wasn’t ‘the top’ so I had to do it right this time.

Thanksgiving was quiet but nice as Chloe, Brian and I did the Big Square ride mid day and followed it up with a full on Thanksgiving spread for dinner. Since Brian is a vegetarian, the Turkey was substituted with Tofurky. It tasted pretty good, and my real favorites of stuffing, cranberries, and potatoes made up for any lacking tradition without real Turkey. After a long ride, anything tastes good I suppose.

No CX races over the weekend made for a relaxing occasion. Saturday was spent getting the apartment really dialed in. I bought my first ever power tool, a drill, along with some masonry bits so that I could get some stuff hung from the walls. I also solved the bike storage situation with some ceiling hooks. The BMC’s make for some artsy decor for sure! It turned out as a good way to clear up space and showcase the bikes all at the same time. Now just a few things and the basement will be set too. And I found the bedskirt that matches my comforter finally after many attempts. Maybe this will keep the dust bunnies out from under there?

This weekend will be a double header with a AZ Cross race in Phoenix on Saturday followed by a Tucson CX race on Sunday. This ought to be a good tune up weekend before the State Championship which will be next Saturday. Hopefully the turnout is good once again this weekend. Rumor has it that there’ll be a UCI Cross race in Phoenix for 2008. That’ll be awesome if it all comes together. That’s all for now,  -TJ

Back at It

After 15 days of zero training due to moving and then crashing I finally got back on the bike for a decent ride yesterday. My preference is to take 10-14 days off for a good fall transition, so at least I was close. Although, yesterday’s endurance paced ride of 1350 Kj nearly crushed me; this spring I was doing more than twice that amount on back to back to back days. I suppose it’ll take a week or so for the body to get back into things and a couple months before the consecutive days roll right off…
Cyclocross will be next on the agenda as there’s a Tucson Series of five races this year and also a four race series in Phoenix. Last year things were quite low key with the three race Tucson series. I won the two I entered on my full suspension Litespeed Sewanee. I’d like to do the same this year, but hopefully it’ll be harder to do so with more guys showing up and going for it. A weekly ‘cross practice ought to allow me to get the skills sharpened (or at least roughed in) as I’m sure they’ll be horrible to start off with. If you’re in Tucson and would like to join in, check out MomentumEndurance.com for the ‘cross practice details. Just as Craig and I did in Eau Claire, I went to Home Depot yesterday and fifteen minutes later walked out carrying two ready to go portable barriers. They are simple to tote over to the park and they set up even easier.They are of course, the regulation height of 40cm. We’ll see what the turnout is for cyclocross practice and perhaps I’ll start mass producing these things.

That’s the scoop. It’s been hot, but not scolding with highs in the 85-90 degree range lately. My knee is still bandaged but healing quite nicely. Being able to get around has been a relief. Keeping it Real,

TJ

held captive in Tucson

The trip to Tucson was relatively quick since most of it was done by airplane with just a bit of driving on either end of the trip. I’ve been in town just shy of a week now and I’m starting to get reaccustomed to the ways of life here. The guesthouse is working out nicely and things are starting to find there respective places as I get settled in.

I planned to get in a couple rides by now, but that hasn’t happened. It’s the off-season, but that normally wouldn’t keep me away from a ride or two. A swollen, cheese-grated knee and mangled palms have kept me off the bike however.

Here’s how the unfortunate series of events played out. My bikes arrived at the Arizona Cyclist on Broadway Friday morning so I stopped in and picked them up. Next, I brought the bikes home to build them. Got them each out of the boxes, put the wheels on and the bars back into the stems. I notice that the seat binder bolt for the road bike was missing so I call up AZ Cyclist on Cambell, which is the closer of the two shops to my place to confirm that they’d have a replacement. Mine must have fallen out of the box as it was nowhere to be found. OF course they had what I needed so I nearly set off on my Bridgestone townie, but noticed that the tube was bulging through the old-cracked tire. This was the damage resulting from the bike being stored in a hot Arizona garage all summer long… Without much thought I came in, grabbed the Litespeed and set off down the driveway, did the 90 degree turn onto the road, got it up to full speed in the big ring, then boom – straight onto my palms, elbow, stomach and right knee. Sliding three feet or so over the rough pavement before finally stopping was torture. Note to self, don’t forget to tighten the stem bolts. This by far this is the biggest bone-head ed move I’ve made with a bike. I was more upset with my mistake than I was about the crash and bodily damage. I had blood all over my hands, arms and leg. Not cool. I hobbled back to the house and started scrubbing out the rocks with some soap after phoning Chloe to come to my rescue. I opted out of stitches at the hospital figuring that I could clean it and close it up myself, saving a costly bill. With Chloe’s help we were successful and I got to sit around all weekend unable to move too much. Fortunately the swelling is down now and the wounds are healing quite nicely. It’ll be a while before I’m pedaling again, as that might stretch the skin over the knee too much. At least I can walk around.

cyclist decor on the basement wall…

What baffles me is how the stem was so perfectly straight that I never questioned that it might not be clamped to the steerer. And how didn’t by bars slip at all when I did the 90 degree onto the street? Why did I ever loosen them anyways when there never was a need to with my bike box? Crashing there at 5 mph would have been much more pleasant. Lesson learned, humble pie eaten, house sat in while a bit of Tucson has passed me by. At least I got in some forced rest when life would have been hustled otherwise. Live and learn and always tighten your stem bolts.

-TJ

Long Travels to Subaru Cup

The road to Wisconsin couldn’t have been any more indirect, but things came together nicely last week and I’ll have a quick return to Tucson later on – avoiding a monstrous drive. Many sights were to be scene driving from CO to AZ before flying back just in time for the WORS Subaru Cup Mega Event. More on the race follows, so scroll on from here…

Pre-dawn drive through the canyon en route to Moab.

Arch

Goosenecks of the San Juan

Mexican Hat

Monument Valley

Foreign tourists at the Grand Canyon

Pending Monsoon

White out rain – there was even some snow in the ditch

Strange bioshpere (?) in AZ

All of this got me to the WORS weekend at Mt Morris for some racing action. At the start I put myself behind two of WORS fastest, Jesse and B-Matter in hopes for a clear line to the front.

Not too far into things I found it and set out a pretty good rhythm that had me leading Jesse, Brian, T-Brown, and Marko with Peariso dangling off and on. I never hit the pace too hard and more or less played the waiting game while having the advantage of a clean line at the front through the course’s stellar singletrack. The racing started on lap three when Jesse and I exchanged twists of the throttle.

We both attacked each other for the first time at the very same time as we came out of the singletrack and up the right-hander that started the main climb. I went, he countered, and I dug myself back. His gap grew at the very end of lap three (of five laps) in the steep singletrack climb just before the start/finish area. Our accelerations made the gaps and I was trying to cruise in order to hold second position. This worked for a bit, but Marko bridged up and had that little bit extra for the last lap. I was happy to cross the line third after some excellent racing. It’s fun to dice it up that way.

The course was great in many ways, but one of the highlights was that we got to come through the expo area multiple times. Thanks to the encouragement of the spectators I was able to give it that extra punch. A huge thanks to the Kay family for hauling me along for the weekend and to Rusty for the race pics. Another goes to Stan, who’s 355’s allowed me to accelerate fast and get away with running 24 psi in my Maxxis EXCeption tires. And the Powerbar crew continues to keep me fueled. If you haven’t tried Sun Tea Endurance Drink, you’re missing out.

It’s good to be back, -TJ

Breathing

This weekend I’ll be doing the NMBS series finals, hosted at Snowmass, CO. The race is set at 1.5 laps setting us up for nearly 20 miles comprised of 7000 feet of vertical ascent. This is some serious climbing and it’s sure to make for some brutal high altitude racing. As the last chance on the circuit I’m really gunning to dig deep and make it count. Breathing will be important.

Life was somewhat chaotic with the east coast races and the extensive amounts of driving across the country. For a couple weeks it was hard to find any sort of a rhythm, on the bike or otherwise. I’ve been in Boulder for a week now, so it’s been nice to have a chance to collect myself and get some needed rest. The races at Mount Snow and Sugar Mountain took their tolls on me, physically for sure, but perhaps even more so mentally. If you show up anything less than 100% ready to race at one of these events, it’s a swift kick to the back of the field. That’s a hard pill to swallow. As much as I hated it, that’s where I found myself at the Sugar Mountain xc about 10 days ago. I found a bit of redemption in the short track the following day, but there is surely unfinished business left for this weekend.

Bike racing is a pretty cool thing to do so I’ll continue to enjoy the endless dynamics that make racing all that it is. Though trying at times, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Keep it real, -TJ

Ode to the Taurus

It was a relationship that dates back to my high school years. The Taurus wagon and I have been through it all – the highs of the mountains and the lows of the valleys. Good races and bad races, the Taurus was always there willing and able to carry me home safely and reliably (except once in phoenix last fall). From California to North Carolina and everywhere in between the Taurus always got the job done. It was a true race vehicle.

photo credit: Charles Forsman

With 223,000 now I wanted to end our relationship on a good note before setting off on the next road trip adventure. It’ll make for a great set of wheels for someone else, but for the long haul it was time for me to move on. So, all of this begs the question, “Well what are the new wheels?” But of course there is only one answer to expect: Another Ford Taurus wagon of course. That’s right, gone is the ’96 and in is the ’05. A sportier looking front end and the option to burn e85 are the two biggest of the minor changes. The color was listed as ‘lite green’ but most folks would agree that it’s a tan/grey hue. Whatever the color, the price was right for car that still smells new. It was an easy deal to make.

Now I can return to business as usual without spending hours searching the craigslist or auto websites every evening. More important duties such as blog updating can now resume…

The riding has been going well and I’ve fully adapted to the hot and humid climate that seemed so foreign just one week ago. The WORS race ought to shape into a dogfight and I’m hoping to get in on the full action. Competing with old rivals on the turf of my alma mater, Eau Claire, ought to make for an excellent weekend. I hope to see a lot of familiar faces out there. I miss the WORS vibe when away, so I’ll be looking for a full dose. Don’t miss out on your experience either. Until then,

TJ

Big Stuff

The events that have taken place since last Thursday have been more than I could have ever anticipated. And if ever I’ve taken racing too seriously, this weekend was surely a time where I kept it all in perspective. Thursday I learned that my mom had a heart condition that would require a relatively immediate surgery scheduled for early this week. With this in mind I booked a plane ticket home for Monday before heading up to Phoenix for the NMBS series opener.

Friday’s TT got off to a good start as I finished 26th, somewhat satisfied, but knowing that perhaps I was overly conservative on the first gradual climb out of the start. It was also fun to find my mug on cyclingnews.com, check it out here. I knew that this result meant that I could do a good XC, so it was a boost before the weekend’s main events – the STXC under the lights Saturday and Sunday’s XC event.

Saturday I was called up in about the 15th row, not an ideal situation for a short track… I knew that I’d have to ride hard and make up ground quickly if I would have a chance at a good result here. Unfortunately 30 seconds into the race this option left as quickly as I went over the bars. I came off the course’s first dirt mount directly into another bike. My hip, forearm and head took the brunt of the blow. I got up slowly and limped around the course to be pulled. I could hardly move that night as my hip was quite stiff.

Sunday things had loosened up and I was excited about having a good XC race. I got off to a good start for the first 15 minutes before launching my bottle over some rough braking bumps. The thought of no fluid intake for the first 40 minutes of the race in 90 degree heat scared me a bit and I lost some ground, but was still riding respectably. Not much later I slashed my rear sidewall on one of the long loops rougher sections. Along side me were Kris Sneddon and also Adam Synder, both fixing their own punctures. I slammed a PowerGel so that I could properly boot the tire before installing the tube. I got off with about 35 pounds of air courtesy of the BigAir. I could only laugh at my luck before I went on to pinch my tube no more than five minutes down the trail. At this point I was more or less out of luck until a spectator directed me off course to his truck. “Follow the wash out to the road and I’ve got a tube and CO2 there in my seat bag.” Sure enough, I followed the wash out to the road and was able to make some quick repairs. I followed the wash back to the place I exited the course and started racing once again. That first lap took an hour so I knew that leaders were likely no more than 10 minutes behind me, a thought that kept me charging hard for laps two and three before I was pulled. The leaders finished about 5 minutes later so I guess the officials didn’t wait around for me. Too bad they’ve got me scored as a DNF rather than a lapped rider so maybe they’ll get it fixed.

The bulk of Monday was spent traveling back to Eau Claire after airport delays of 3.5 hours in PHX. I got back in time to visit with my mom and the family some before sleeping at yet another motel. Today was to be the surgery day so most of the day was spent in the family waiting room. About two hours after we all thought that the surgery started the surgeon walked in and said “The surgery is off”. We were all wondering what they’d been doing then… And why was it off? Apparently the surgeon’s vision is sharper than that of the cardiologist. His final review of the echocardiogram revealed that the mitral valve was not damaged enough to warrant surgery today. The same imaging was done Friday and the cardiologist told us that things appeared “worse than first thought”. So obviously there is some explaining to be done, but in the end no surgery is good new for my mom and that is what matters most in the end. It’s just too bad that they realized this only after having her laid out on the operating table fully prepped for the big surgery. Needless to say we all went through a lot of stress that apparently wasn’t fully warranted. She’ll return home tomorrow once she’s off the anesthesia and cleared.

I fly back to Arizona on Friday so perhaps with the recent change of events I’ll have some quality time with the family rather than simply a lot of hospital bedside visiting… My hip is feeling better everyday which is great, but I’ve also been realizing that my nose is quite sore and has begun to bruise. Things feel swollen in there so who knows what happened. Perhaps more than I thought as tonight I found a dent and a crack on my helmet to match the 1/4″ long scratches on the lenses of my VTi’s… I’d say that my luck was horrible, but considering all that my mom has been through, perhaps my situation isn’t so bad after all.

I must give props to two racers who have surely gained Momentum for their 2007 seasons: Mike for stomping the Semi Pro’s in his first ever attempt and to Chloe for making a seamless transition to the rank of the ‘Pro’ Pro’s, after having three awesome results as Luna’s newest and youngest ever racer. As the stages got more challenging she only placed better: 13th in the TT, 11th in STXC, and 9th in the XC. These two riders were awesome!

Keeping it Real, -TJ