Yesterday, it was an unseasonable 48 degrees. The snow melt made the roads wet and gritty, but other than that, it was a great day for a ride. I took the Bianchi and put on a pair of clip on fenders and was good to go. I got in 47 miles, split in half by the the required coffee stop. A really nice treat for a December ride.
Today, several thousand of my neighbors and I are paying for this. Sometime after 2:00 this morning the winds (gusts up to 49 MPH if you believe my local weatherbug station) and cold kicked in and I lost the electrical power at my house. I just called ComEd again and there is no new information except that they are working on a damage assessment.
Yesterday, I woke up to 30 degree weather after two inches of new snow fell. We were planning to ride anyway, so it was just a matter of route and equipment that needed to be settled. The snow made the roads dicey, so we decided on the Green Bay Trail. The part of the trail near me was ice and frozen snow under the new stuff and it was bumpy and slippery and threw my mountain bike around. BT's Surly Puglsey, however, was slow and steady and just rolled over it. When we got to sections that were plowed before the new snow fell, my bike did have a speed advantage. Overall, we were out for two hours and, according to his Garmin, we covered 15 miles.
This morning was a different story. We got another five inches of powder last night. Instead of going cross country skiing, we hit the trails again, this time near Harms Woods.
Today, the Surley had it all over the mountain bikes. Again, slow and steady progress. Also, it didn't get thrown around like my bike. The only way we could make any progress on the mountain bikes was to drop the tire pressure way below the recommended minimum of 40 psi. It was grueling, but although colder today, the sun was out and it was a beautiful day.
To give you an idea just how wide the Pugsley tires are, I took this picture. The snow was actually a bit shallower here, but you can see the difference between the Pugsley tire tracks and the mountain bike tracks.
You can see from this photo just how deep the snow was. You can also see how much I was sliding around. It turned out that I had much better success riding through fresh snow rather than trying to ride on places where it was getting packed down by others. The bike got tossed around less and I was able to keep it under control better.
Here's another shot comparing how much more control the Pugsley had over the mountain bike. And, no, I'm not going to entertain any comments about our relative bike handling skills.
It was quite a workout. You had to keep pedaling to keep the bike moving and upright. Even in a low gear, it was still high resistance work and I had to occasionally stop to rest. At the end of the ride, I felt like I had done about 5000 leg presses.
The results are posted for the Chicago Cyclocross Cup Race #6 at Montrose Park. The good news is that I came in ahead of 12 other Cat 4 racers. I just won't point out that there were 45 of us that finished that particular race.
I just got back from a performance of Le Comedie du Bicyclette AKA The Bicycle Men at the Lakeshore Theatre. This is a rather hard to describe musical comedy. It is essentially the surreal comedic nightmare of an American cyclist whose bike breaks down in a small French village. This production of the show features Dan Castellaneta, a voice actor of some note. For me, just knowing that Mark Nutter wrote the show was enough of a draw. I had seen him in several shows in the 80s when he wrote and performed in a troupe called Friends of the Zoo.
Up until the Montrose Park race, the weather had been mild, if not downright nice. And, although I don’t really like playing in the mud as much as this guy, I was pretty much expecting to experience a range of fall conditions. Even the Lansing race, just three weeks ago, wasn’t all that cold. At Montrose, there was snow on the ground and it was (somewhat) cold.
I got there around noon, plenty of time to register, visit with friends and get in a practice lap after the women finished their race. It was a technical course, challenging and fun. This was also my first time racing in mud, so it was going to be interesting to see if I could keep the bike upright or if was going to be one wipeout after another. For a really good description of the course (with pictures) see Tristan Schouten’s blog. Jim also has a nice description of the course at his blog. Other blog reports of the race here, here, here (pics and video!) and here. This guy will have something soon. I'm sure there are plenty more. Feel free to put a link in the comments. Maybe I should have trained harder and blogged less..?
I spent most of the next hour warming up on the road, occasionally stopping to watch the race. With about 20 minutes to spare, I went back to the car, drank some water, dropped off my ski gloves and decided to keep my Lake 300 winter shoes on figuring that dry feet are more important than lighter shoes. I headed out to the start.
There were about 40 of us and I was right smack in the middle. There were the usual preliminaries and we were off. Right off the back someone bumps me and somehow we both stay upright, but it was a slow start for me. Well, slower than usual.
By the time the 4As raced, the course changed from icy and slippery to muddy and slippery. The turns around the trees were treacherous, but I managed to keep the bike upright the entire race. I love how you can get a cross bike sliding all over the place and still keep it upright if you just keep on peddling through it.
The first challenge was the double barrier at the base of Cricket hill. Running up, riding down and running back up this sledding hill killed me. The first run up it told me I wasn’t in any shape, running-wise, to be doing this hill more than one time. Each lap it got harder until the last lap it wasn’t a run up the hill so much as a trudge. Note to self…
Sometime during the first lap, I felt my saddle shift. It didn’t feel uncomfortable, but I was sitting pretty far back on it most of the race. At the end of the race, the saddle was pointing upwards at about a 30 degree angle. Turned out to be the end of the line for that saddle post as the teeth in the clamp had worn down. Anyway, I don’t think it affected my race much, except it may have contributed to me catching my tights on it on one remount. I didn’t fall, but it wasn’t pretty either.
The race went pretty well for me. I executed the dismounts, carries and remounts with some measure of confidence and grace. I pulled off a couple of passes in tight spots and generally rode smart, if not very aggressively. I didn’t have time to stick around for the race results so I’ll have to wait for them to be posted on the web site. I figure I came in somewhere around 30th.
For my first racing season, I happily achieved the following:
Finished all six Chicago Cyclocross Cup races. Got at least 8 points as a Cat 4 (A group). Met some quality people and had a ton of fun.
Some of those quality people caught me on digital film (either by accident or on purpose). Thank you Luke, Ed, Julie, Ben, Kristin, Carolyn, Brendan and anyone else who shot me.
For next year, I need to: Polish my cross skills. Work on strategy, power and fitness. Take a few more risks in the turns.
I've been listening to the Scientific American 60-Second Psych podcast for a few weeks now. The most recent episode has some useful information about how to motivate yourself to work out. They summed it up this way:
Those who have a negative view of their bodies, were most persuaded by fear messaging, like, “If you want to fit into those jeans, better get those thighs on the treadmill!” But those who have a positive view of their bodies were the most persuaded by encouraging messaging, like, “Wow, you do a great downward dog.”
Not being the proud new owner of a Surly Pugsley (you know who you are), I had to settle for some time off the bike this morning. Luckily, the snow was perfect for cross country skiing and I was able to get out for a bit. You might call the picture on the left the cross country skiing equivalent of a panda portrait. Then again you might not.
I checked the Sunday forecast early Saturday night and decided that I wasn't going wake up early and drive 80 minutes to race in the freezing rain (freezing snow would have been OK--that's my story and I'm sticking to it), so I stayed late at a party instead. Woke up with a headache and, even though it was 40 degrees and not raining, I decided to skip the Daniel Wright Woods ride as well so my day was a total waste.