Now it’s time to navigate to a new site, here it is: wrenchwebber.com see you there!
This is my bicycle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My bicycle is my best friend. It is my life. My bicycle, without me, is useless. Without my bicycle, I am useless. I must ride my bicycle true. I must ride straighter than the cars who are trying to kill me. I must pass them before they pass me. I will…
My bicycle and myself know that what counts on these streets is not the commuters we pass, the tracks we make, nor the destination. We know that it is the way we get there that counts. We will ride…
My bicycle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its accessories, its bars, its soul—its bottom bracket. I will ever lock it against the ravages of theft and vandalism as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my head against damage. I will keep my bicycle clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…
This weekend past I entered to race in the Ed Sander Memorial Cyclocross event. After questioning my abilities and fitness from last week’s results, I felt it was inconclusive whether or not I could hang with the B’s. Was it just the mechanical that kept me from competing, or is it my utter lack of training? I needed to give it another go to find out.
So up for an early drive up to Frederick, MD, I was excited for an sloppy and mud-staining race with the rain we went through. Being upgraded is nice in that you don’t have to race the earliest event, the idea of sleeping in a bit is theoretically appealing; but when you don’t have a car, you have to rely on your friends schedule. After pre-riding the course, I was able to sit back and relax watching the C’s and Master’s race, all the while watching the sky clear and the wet course dry up. It looked as though I’d be racing a faster course than I pre-rode.
Again, towards the back of the pack due to late registration, I felt calm and collected as we lined up at the start. Jokes about having a good start were bandied about, I was reluctant to promise a good start to the dude next to me thinking that it might hinder my good start. So I gave him a solid “maybe”.
Barely hearing the whistle, I notice the crowd ahead beginning to drift away, so we’re off. But not for long. Not ten feet of movement started when there was a pile-up the the center of the pack on this narrow piece of cement bracketed by lily ponds. Everyone behind the pile-up spreads out to the edge, nearly sending dudes into the slimy soup. I somehow squeeze by and am immediately playing catch-up—not as bad as the guys still sprawling on the ground though.
The rest of the race felt great though. The brief barriers were a cinch even while packed up and surrounded with other racers. The following section of 90˚ turns around the rectangular lily ponds was performed with nary a pull on the brakes—it proved to be one of my best areas at picking people off. The final minor incline out of that section everyone seemed to hit like a brick wall, dropping speed and getting passed.
The flat double track areas were a bit grueling with their copious potholes, excessive washboard, and overgrown grass middle sections. More were picked off here as well as my being picked off once or twice. This lead into the steep run-up and immediate drop-in where if there was anyone else at the top of it became a near casual remount—it was described to me as though you just unlocked your bike or something; i.e. it was slow moving up there unless you were mostly alone.
Up and down, left and right. And then came the massive “down” and wicked “left” that dumps you into the holiest section of the entire course. As though someone took a post-hole digger and riddled the grass covered section with a hundred potholes. This was surely the section that would have thrown my chain had I not alleviated the previous 1×10 setup * I was running last week. As bouncy as this piece was, you couldn’t carry any momentum from the steep descent into it—which sucked as it lead you into a series of successive climbs. Somehow, however, I still felt good throughout it to pass a couple of people here a few times.
And that’s how it went, around and around, for what seemed like an hour at least, but was probably only 45 minutes. Just before the finish, I didn’t quite catch up to my target, but catching up to him for a close visual by the beginning of the last lap was encouraging enough. Afterwards, I felt good and felt I could have placed better had I not been hindered by the start’s pile-up. This race left me feeling as though I can hang with the B’s—bring on the next race!
* I set up a second shifter and ran the bike as a 2×10, 46-39 and a 12-25 in back seemed to work pretty well for hills and sprints. I installed the left shifter in place of the SRAM single brake lever, but not without total disassembly and installation of the shift mechanism into the brake lever. Why you ask, well, just for the hell of it.
Welcome back folks.
Today was Charm City cyclocross race in lovely Druid Hill Park in Baltimore. Keeping with my training regimen of solely commuting to work, today was my first ride with barriers, sand, and other racers, as well as my first race after upgrading to Cat 3 cyclocross.
My late registration put me two rows from the last which meant there were easily one hundred other dudes ahead of me at the start line. This also meant my start line jitters were pretty much at bay—and they’re off.
Mid-pack starts, in my opinion, give me the opportunity to race calm and calculating. Incrementally picking off other racers throughout the race. Turn by turn, punching ahead when possible, keeping a solid, clean line. All was working as planned in that regard and things were going well, I’d estimate I picked up a good 35 – 40 spots in the space of the first lap. Maybe less, how can I really know? Who knows, I still had a good 40 minutes of racing left.
Coming off of the curb at the street crossing was when it happened. My 1×10 set up with the K-Edge chain catcher let me down. Last year it was the Paul chain keeper that let me down on my season’s first race. These devices work real well to keep the chain where it needs to be, I’d put it at a strong 90% that your chain will stay on the chainring, but that remaining 10% is enough for me to go for a different system. Within that 10% your chain will come off the ring and at that point—of course during a race—it’s probably a 100% chance that you won’t get your chain back into riding position on the chainring with any quickness.
Realistically, that’s racing, right? “Fortunately,” I was only a few meters away from the pit where I “calmly” ran to and asked for tools. I was only upset that I mistook the 2.5mm allen for the 3mm that I needed, precious seconds were passing. (Close to minutes at this point, I quickly fell into DFL position). With some turns of the wrench, the faulty chain catcher was removed, chain returned manually to the ring, and I was back to hopping barriers—albeit with increased care at this point.
Whatever my goals for this race were at the start line, at this point they were altered. I now had to finish somewhere other than DFL*. After one lap totally solo, I wondered how far back I actually fell. Entering the sand pits again I was told I was a minute behind the next racer. Ooh ooh! That sounded like an eternity to me at the time, but what the hell, I’ll give it a shot. Next update told me I was less than thirty seconds, at this point I had already seen my mark and I was going for it. Having a target helps a lot, be it picking off individuals in the pack, or one solitary dude. Approaching the barriers near the pit again, I was on him. Moments later, I passed him on the remount. For some reason I felt the need to taunt him at this point, something along the lines of, “now, you wanna really feel like racing?” And at the next slight uphill, I felt the first pangs of performance hindering, debilitating pain. Karma, right? Was I going to be able to keep this “lead”? I began to have doubts. Good for me, the UCI wasn’t going to let me find out: entering the paved sprint section, the hefty official pulled me from the race, evidently a full seven minutes behind.
It was a petty victory sure, but some sense of victory is what we’re doing this for I think. All in all, this was a good day however, one with disappointing results. The crowd was a bit different in comparison to the spectators in the OVCX series. Being the solo Rogue racing was odd in a way, seeing a familiar face from Louisville was odder. There wasn’t as much yelling or cowbell action from the sidelines—I was thankful my wife and sister were present, they were both certainly encouraging with their near solitary voices telling me to pedal. The new bike worked great, I’ve already got solutions in mind for the chain problem (again), and am already registered to get back at it next week.
‘cross, indeed, Fucking Rules!
* For those unaware of this acronym, it stands for Dead Fucking Last
I don’t have time it seems to post to this site much lately….
I’ll get back to writing one of these days.
I like putting my routes and posting my distances in a place I can look back and review. I was referred to a website that lets me do this. I don’t have any real GPS that transmits the route, mileage, altitude or anything like that into it, I do it manually. I find this lets me learn more about the streets I’m biking on, fills in the grey areas of whatever city I’m living in. I learn my way around pretty quickly as a result I think.
I do all this on a website called DailyMile, check it out, don’t worry, you can’t find out where I live from the data there. Also, I ride everyday, and logging every commute I do to work tends to the redundant….
So I’ve moved to the East coast again, this time, the relocation is in the District of Columbia—our nation’s capitol. Living in Louisville was nice, but it was like staying in a large suburb, Washington DC has hustle and bustle in spades, it is a very busy city and it’s just the way I like it.
In terms of bikes, there are a lot of them around. Every block you travel on there’s quite a number of them locked to posts, rails, and racks, not to mention at least one or two other people riding theirs. Speaking of racks there’s seemingly quite a bit of infrastructure in place here. So far I’ve ridden on bike lanes on Q, R, 14th, 15th (with a contra-flow lane), and New Hampshire streets; there’s also the Rock Creek Park trail and in Virginia the Washington & Old Dominion Trail from the Custis Trail that I’ve explored. I’m looking forward to checking out the Metropolitan Branch Trail too. In addition to all that, I’ve also had my fair share of regular traffic lanes to navigate through—we all know the bike lane, just like the freeway, doesn’t start and stop at your front door. The regular streets are full of potholes, badly described lanes, irregular intersections, huge roundabouts, and tons of cars traveling at varying speeds; it can be super hectic—basically this kind of playing in traffic can be fun.
One other thing DC’s streets have are lot’s of statues of dude’s on horses.
I’ve found work in a pretty cool shop—this one—and again, I am seeing yet another way of running a shop. As we’re all aware of, there’s maybe an infinite number of ways to skin a cat. I’m still figuring it all out there, I have no real criticisms and not many suggestions have developed yet. Working in a variety of shops has definitely given me an education in operating in different environments. I’m glad to add to that—so far, so good. Washington, DC, as a whole will be an effort in education for me, I’m sure I’ll be learning more about the streets, trails, bikes, people, and government the longer I live here.
In the meantime, my wife and I are living as mole people in a friend’s basement apartment. The sofa bed is certainly taking it’s toll on my back. Most of our belongings, i.e. the majority of our bikes, are locked up in a storage unit. Patience is the lesson for now. Today however, we’re off to check out the big parade in Dupont Circle.