Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dedication: Singular Focus

Here come all the, "If I, I should've, next time, next Spring, next year..." It's natural to start setting goals for 2010, not because it a new year, but because it's the next chance. Want to be harder when the thaw comes? Me too.

I'll never be this fit

The question is what can we all do. 15 months ago Mike Hemme was a Cat 3, now he's looking back on a season where he raced as a PRO. Born with the DNA to be fast, Mike also has the dedication to train hard and fearlessness to ride with guys who would turn me into a feature on the race course. Me, I've got a wicked fast bike and a bit of ego - I don't think that's enough.

So what will it take to get a competitive 4, who is 80% fit, to podium? Coaching and dedication. Will I get a coach? Who knows, but Mike reminded me that a coach will help you make the most of the time you have, not ask you to spend more time. Sounds good, and logical to me.


If anyone is looking for good motivation check out some of the essays on the Gym Jones site. The theory behind Gym Jones is about singular focus, give up anything that slows you down. If what you're doing isn't furthering your goal, stop it. The stories cover a range of athletic endeavors like alpine sports, Ironman, UFC fighting, and will make great sitting-on-the-couch-while-you-get-fat holiday reading

Back to the ballerina. Ruby, my four year old daughter loves ballet. I of course want to see her interested in cycling and teams sports. But I've realized it almost doesn't matter what sport she picks it's how dedicated and focused she can be at achieving her goals that will matter more than the goal itself. Based on her attention span and dedication to wearing a tutu everyday I'm guessing Ruby is going to be pretty damn fast.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2009 CX Season Review



2009 started of with a bang. Rocking the holeshot on my first start was good enough. I even had visions of podiums and champagne, but all the gravy came in the form of press. Major press. The Chicago Tribune ran an online story, had a one pager in the printed edition, and the Chicago Red Eye ran a centerfold shot of me leading out the first race of the season. OK, go ahead and call me "Mr. Friday, September 24th," I don't mind.

Luke Seemann's articles wasn't about me, it was about the joys of cyclocross. However, the image did capture the peak of my season.

Power to Weight

Watts are a measure of heat

The COURAGE Chicago race team had a few new faces this year. Holly and Kevin Klug had outstanding seasons. I cannot begin to list off all their accomplishments, but a few wins, a bunch of podiums and Kevin wrapping up the the series overall in Wisconsin just scratches the surface.

Mike Hemme is just plain crazy. Last year he was racing as a Cat 3, this year he lined up with the PROs in fiveUCI races. He wrapped up the year with his first podium in a Cat 1/2/3 race.

All three of them did battle in Bend, OR for Nationals and while Holly won her Woman's 30-35 B race (awesome!), the boys both got caught by national press doing their thing: Hemme on Velonews in the gallery at the bottom, and Kevin on Cycling News. Sweet!

I want to thank the three of them for representing COURAGE and our sponsors with a tons of watts and a positive attitude.

While I'm here, thanks to Chris King and EDGE for making wicked good parts, and thanks to Roscoe Village Bikes for keeping us running smooth all season long.

Heckle Me Once, Shame on You, Heckle Me Twice!

Power to the people

Pic: Liz Novak

Chicago has the best fans in America. Importantly, a lot of the fans are not racers. This points to the beauty of cyclocross - it's a great spectator sport. At some of the hill tops and sand pits this year you would have thought it was the Super Bowl. Freakishly animated fans screaming and shouting, and hysterics as the last man came through, the last man!

Damn You're Cute

Lucky me

I have to admit I don't make Autumn easy for my girls. A low key race day easily eats up six hours, likely more, but I work hard to make it up to them. Sometimes it means I get home and am giving the kids baths before I can even change out of my kit. Mostly it means I do all my training and prep work in the inky black hours that no one should have to function in. Either way I owe them big time for letting me race a very full season. However, Ruby did pull a last minute stunt that prevented me from racing the USGP in Louisville... Next year.

From a fathers perspective the most encourage things I see out at the races are all the kids in the crowds and the juniors on the race course. Good to know some of America's youth won't think it's strange to wear spandex while you jump barriers and eat sandy Twinkies.

Yeah, I'd Do that Again

The Buffet

I enjoyed the hell out of every race this year. The CCC and the independent promoters all did a spectacular job of setting up wicked race courses. However, there will always be favorites.

Dan Ryan Woods delivered pain in spades. Like it technical, like the hills, like it fast? Cool, Beverly Bike-Vee Pak will give it to you.

St. Charles is always worth the drive (it's WAY out there). This year's mud made a great course epic. So it's not so cool to use the word epic, but if you where there you know what I mean. Nice job Bicycle Heaven.

Special props to The South Chicago Wheelmen for putting on a complete event at the Indian Hills Hilton. Let's see that become a two day race in 2010.

Montrose! Montrose! Montrose! Every year it is spectacular. Thanks to Turin for making some magic. Read about my UCI idea here.


The first in the country?

I've been singing the praises of the Chicago Cross Cup all year. These guys are doing wonderful things for cyclocross, and the cycling industry as a whole. I'm not going to rehash all my old love-fest blog entries but I will remind everyone to thank the CCC, the sponsors, the officials, and all the volunteers at every race. These people are solid gold.

On the Horizon


There is plenty more to share even though the US race season is ending. There will be lots of NAHBS stuff surfacing, and I'll be writing a series of entries focusing on "Old." Maybe I can get Aaron to post a bit too.

Get fat, sleep in and stay tuned.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Montrose Equals Cyclocross

Wow. It's over.

I'm saving my exhaustive season wrap up for another day. Instead I'm diving squarely into the Illinois State Championship weekend at Montrose Harbor.

I'm going to through down the gauntlet now and challenge the power behind the Chicago Cross Cup to bring a UCI event to Montrose Harbor. This was my third year racing, forth year as a spectator, and every race, every year has been inspiring. What's so good about it? To start with, everything.

This crash laden, demolition derby we call a season finale always delivers with spectacular terrain, huge, eager crowds, and Old Man Winter's best weather. Add some of the important logistical details like cheap flights from all over the world, hotels within, wait for it, biking distance, and Mayor "Yeah, I can probably make that happen" Daley. What more do we need? Jason, you listening? I'm down to help with threatening phone calls to whomever gets in your way.


Let's cut to the faster 3/4 of the Chicago COURAGE squad. While Hemme was out west cracking the whip in the Lion's Den, the Klugs where busy padding their palmares' with two great finishes. I was late to show up on Sunday, more on that later, so I can only say Kevin's third place and Holly's second place must have meant that a few other racers brought their best, because staying ahead of these two is not easy. Way to go guys!

Pace Odyssey



The stylish one

My race report is all preamble. It starts on Thursday morning, about 4am, with Ruby crying for mom. I dadded up and got out of bed to see what the deal was, unfortunately I was able to diagnose the problem with my nose. Puke. Welcome to parent hood. Kids do this every once in a while, but when Frances pulled the same stunt on Laura around 8am I knew our home had been invaded.

Cue Friday night, my company's holiday party. Take one part open bar, two parts over worked, shake from 6pm til 2am and you get straight pounded. Yes, people had to check their receipts to verify where we rocked the after party. Yes, a car was slept in, and another car was puked on. And yes, Monday morning my team was declared to be the friendliest bunch of drunk pirates this side of the Atlantic.

Friday night carbo load

Saturday, at eight in the morning, I was logically feeling 70% while Ruby and I shopped for tile at Home Depot. However, after lunch, around one o'clock, I got bit hard by "The Bug." Whatever the kids had brought home earlier in the week ripped through my hungover, defenseless body like a DR Trimmer on rocket fuel. I was fucked until Sunday morning.

I couldn't even get this down

I set myself up with high expectation by inviting a bunch of non-cyclist to the race. A lot of friends and colleagues where going to come see the freak show I rave about every Monday. How could I not race? I'll tell you how. At noon on Sunday I couldn't sit up straight I was in so much pain. I hadn't had more than a glass of water and a bite of toast that wasn't rejected by my body in over 24 hours. If I couldn't walk comfortably from the bedroom to the living room how on Earth was I going to get my bike on top of the car, let alone race? Ego, that's how.

At one o'clock I made the decision to race. I'm glad I did because I'd have regretted it for months if I chickened out. Not to mention I had, a bunch of people willing to stand in the cold to humor me and I made a COURAGE Snuggie earlier in the week I wanted to rock on the start line.

Real men ride the sand

Oh yeah the race... I showed up 40 minutes before the race, registered, pined up, road the trainer for 10 minutes, and stood around in my Snuggie for 10 minutes. I lined up back row, to avoid slowing anyone down, and to add to the drama of moving up through the pack. It seemed to worked, I made some nice passes in the first two laps of the race, I only had to run the sand once, and I didn't puke on anyone.

I was most pleased my my riding in the sand and the heckling I received from the guys I work with. I was called Sally once, told I looked funny with hairy legs, and I was chastised for loosing to Santa. All in all I felt like I had been telling good cyclocross stories if everyone was able to heckle so well at their first race.

I'm glad I survived the race, and sad to see the season close. An obvious thanks to Turin and the CCC for shutting down the party with style.

Classic Moments in Cyclcross

The season's final Classic Moments in Cyclcross comes from Bradley of the Cuttin' Crew, who exemplifies all there is to love about cyclcross: commitment, pain, and making the crowd to wild.


Pic: nerobro

Friday, December 4, 2009

As Seen on TV

I picked up a little something special for Montrose.

And seriously, I hope I can find all my gear, my house is a total mess from construction.