Friday, February 15, 2013

Never forgotten....Noah Hein

Little Noah lost a long battle with Leukemia on February 14, 2013.  He spent much of his young life dealing with the pain, treatment and dissappointment that comes with cancer.  Words can not attempt to adequately say how our hearts and souls go out to Paul and Tammy Hein at this time.  He was a brave little man and fought as long as his body would allow.  Prior to his diagnosis in 2008, Noah was a fearless little mountain bike rider.  Below is a picture of simpler times at the Dead Dog race.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Falling Down on the Job

okay, okay- i've been racing every week-end and not reporting in... shame on me...

i was thinking i was all that and a bag of chips after having podium'ed at the velodrome race, so i was verrry confident going into the next week-end's race.

it just so happened that the alabama cross series had a race in anniston, alabama on saturday; i could go to anniston on saturday , then scoot over to our college b.f.f. nanette's place in roswell for saturday night, then head to the georgia cx race in dallas on sunday morning. what a marvelous plan!

i kinda realize the time difference when planning my departure time for anniston, but not entirely; so i get there waaay early. that, and shelly was spending the night in atlanta, running the silver comet half marathon on saturday-- so i had nuthin to do... plenty of time to go through my pre-race rituals and pre-ride the course and all that jazz.

the course is anniston's personal gift to me; it winds its way around the outside of a baseball complex, all on grass, with mild technical sections and plenty of room to really get the speed up. i'm practically salivating.

it did have this one section that i wasn't thrilled about-- a stretch of playground sand that looked short enough to ride through. so i did throughout my warmup. and the sand got all gunked up in my chain and rear derailleur. and then i had the most tremendous chain-suck ever... which caused my derailleur to explode, literally. parts flew off. this nice xtr derailleur that byron put on my bike was now on the wrong side of my cassette in what looked like an origami crane. configuration. my race was over, and i hadn't even gotten to the start line yet...

like a crazy man, i decided the best plan of attack was to jet back to columbus and see if byron could repair the fiasco. thank god he was at home and graciously accepted my plea to come by his house at 8:30pm on a saturday night. he, of course, worked his magic to perfection and i was back up and running within an hour and a half of dynamite wrench work.

all set for sunday's race in dallas, georgia in freakin pauling county. nice drive. i was sure this was going to be my redemption race after having endured such tragedy the day before. that is, until i got there and saw the course- total mountain bike. the course was a long one with tons of wet, twisty single track and an enormous sandy section that we had no choice but to ride. the course was actually a very good one, to the organizer's credit; just not one i was going to excel on.

once again, i got a poor start and had to fight my way back into contention. with such long laps, we only had four laps to do; this plays to my disadvantage, as i need as much time as possible to pick off my opponents. after finally moving into the top ten, i started to gain some momentum.

and then my rear tire rolled off. i had these new easton ea70x tubular wheels for cross racing, which allow for very low tire pressures and superior traction and shock absorption. apparently they don't do well with tubular tape, because that tire rolled all the way off as i went through a tight left hand turn. i came to a dead stop. luckily the wheel pit was right there and i had put a spare set in, but the dang wheel would not come out. it took what felt like an eternity to change wheels and get back into the race.

by that point i was mentally defeated, especially since i had seen all the folks pass by me as i was in the pit. my pedals were clogged with mud, so my cleats weren't clicking in well and i couldn't get moving in the sections i should have been making up ground. i just halfway raced the rest of it, finishing a dismal 23rd. i headed straight for the car, packed up, and shot straight home. i did stop at moe's, whose servers made me a burrito full of stale ingredients--- rub some salt in my wound, why don't you?

saturady- anniston- busted a derailleur pre-ride-- dns
sunday- paulding- rolled a tire, gummed-up pedals-- 23rd

i'm calling "mulligan" on that week-end

Saturday, November 14, 2009

You're Racing...Where?

The Dick Lane Velodrome of East Point, Georgia is... a velodrome-- a steeply banked concrete track that people with no fear of crashing race around at speeds of at least 17mph (minimum speed required to stay on the banked sections).

however, on Halloween 2009, it turned into a cyclocross course. well, the grounds around the track became the course- plus the bottom, flat part of the track itself. being completely outside, much like a skate park, the property had juuuust enough land to make a tremendously curvy, technical cross course. add in a week-end full of rain and crazy folks in costumes and you have yourself an exciting cross race.

i was happy that my race didn't start until 1:40 in the afternoon. unfortunately, that gave the rain plenty of time to saturate the course. a few warm-up laps confirmed my suspicions- the majority of the course, located in the "infield" of the track area, quickly turned into a soupy mess, despite the small creek running through the middle of the property where everything drained into. even in warm-up, we were tracking mud around the paved areas like crazy, making them even more slippery.

i found out just how slick the track can be, sliding out in a turn right onto the slick-as-glass concrete. so much for keeping my kit clean and rip-free... luckily i just scraped my knee a bit and scuffed my shorts leg- no real bike damage. that did make me a bit gun-shy about that particular corner, though.

as the men's "c" group lined up for our start, i noticed the absence of the two or three guys that repeatedly beat me. "this might just be a good day after all", i thought. i'll just push hard and stay confident in my bike handling and maybe , with a little luck, end up on the podium.

i started out conservatively, seeing as how in the first 100 meters we went into a hard right turn on pavement- not something you want to over-cook and end up on the deck right away. i followed the leaders through the very technical, very sinewy uphill sections until we made it back down to the track area- the only spots on the course where straightaways existed.

i made up considerable ground in these sections, confirming my high fitness level. i traded places with two other guys , once out of the straightaways, for two or three laps, however- confirming my abominable lack of off-road bike handling...

this went on for what felt like eternity. the laps were short, so we kept doing lap after lap after lap. normally, cyclocross laps take between 6 and 8 minutes to complete, giving my "c" field about 4 or 5 laps to do for our 30-minute race. these laps were taking around 4 minutes to complete, so we had a ton to do.

that also meant we were lapping people left and right, which is no big deal to the racers; the spirit of the sport in more participation the competition, it seems. the problem arises in the score-keepers' ability to keep the lapped riders and leaders' positions straight and not mix them up (see dahlonega race) . i think the officials learned from their mistakes; i moseyed over to them after i finished to confirm my results and they had it right- whew.

i was a little surprised to hear them say it, though. i had lost track of the guys that got away because i was so busy trying to get rid of the two guys i kept trading places with. 3rd place? jeez, i need to pay more attention to who is in front of me!

i finally got my podium time, albeit in the rain, with a goodie bag to boot. they did take pictures of it for proof; sadly nobody bothered posted said photo... it did happen though, i swear!

C - 38 Riders
Place NameTotal Pts

C Race Pts
1 Chris Wyatt 0
2 Thomas Armes 0
3 Matt Ragan 0
4 Walter Tucker 0
5 Aaron Chamberlain 0
6 McLean Harris 0
7 Richard Forket 0
8 Christopher Rampton 0
9 Michael Quinlan 0
10 George Hormby 0
11 Clay Ellington 0
12 Kyle Schultz 0
13 Benjamin Jones 0
14 Lee Childrers 0
15 Stephen Wiley 0
16 Ken Gilbert 0
17 Gus Bengochea 0
18 Ben Braxley 0
19 Cornelio Delasalas 0
20 Steven Spence 0
21 Mark Russo 0
22 Mike Emery 0
23 William Key 0
24 John Sowell 0
25 Eric Amels 0
26 Jeb Wible 0
27 Robert Donian 0
28 Navid Amlanit 0
29 Brett Harper 0
30 Frack Cello 0
31 Patrick Cooper 0
32 Alex Dreyer 0
33 Tom Cross 0

some vids from the race:

men's a race

men's b race

p.s., i'm sure you noticed that none of the photos have me in them- i was a lone wolf this race with no awesome tifosi to chronicle my brilliance-- cheers to the anonymous folks who captured the pics

Friday, November 6, 2009

Portland---A Little Outside of the Georgia Series...

Shelly and i had the opportunity to take a short vacay this past month, so we decided to go to oregon. she's always wanted to go , and with mountains, wine, and bike-friendly culture, how could i say no? it just so happened that, at the end of out trip, i was able to fit in a cross race in portland.

now, for those of you who don't know, portland is waaaay bike-friendly. they're also waaaay weird; they pride themselves on that fact. i even saw a ton of bumper stickers around town proclaiming" Keep Portland Weird". When you combine bike-friendly, forward-thinking culture with weirdos, you get cyclocross... in spades. these folks love cyclocross. they've been breaking attendance records at their races just about every week-end this year. needless to say, oregonians love their 'cross.

we arrived at the washington county fair complex in hillsboro, oregon- aka the old rodeo grounds- early sunday morning, a bit after 8. i had decided to not race in the "beginner" category at 8:50 and instead try my luck in the men's "c" group at 9:40, since i've been racing that in georgia. to think that they have so many folks that they can even have a separate beginner category is really cool.

now keep in mind that we have to catch a plane later on that afternoon around 3, so i have to hurry up and race, clean up, dismantle and pack my bike, turn in the rental car, and get to the airport, all before 2 or so. the schedule wasn't super-tight, but it wasn't loosey-goosey either...

as is the case with any race, the early crowds are sparse- that's a relative term here, with already more peeps in the parking lot than at a jam-packed georgia event. they're about the same as georgia folks, though, just in different team kits. registration and course preview are the same, too- no big woop.

as i had mentioned before, this is a rodeo complex. the course literally winds it's way through a couple barns and animal staging areas. the ground is extremely lumpy from the previous equine traffic, and, of course, it's wet. i think it's a prerequisite
for races in oregon to have some kind of water, be it from the sky or already on the ground. nice big mud puddles to ride through and nice, super-slick corners to negotiate were the order of the day. the good news was that it was flat as a strap- no hills, nuthin'. but there were about a million and a half turns and corners, which kept the speed down and the technical aspect up--- bluh.

when it's our time to start, i mosey on over to the starting corral, some caution tape set up in rather long lines. why so long? because there are about 150 of us in this race. i tried to play the unknowing out-of-towner and move to the front of the line, only to find out that the organizers had already arranged us into groups based on out number. the guys doing well in the series got called to the front, and then the rest of us got lined up in random order. i got really lucky , as my group was the second group to be called. only about 30 or 40 back from the leaders! that shouldn't be too bad....

i get a decent start and immediately work my way up. i'm in roadie mentality at this point, muscling my way through the melee, wondering the whole time if this technique is acceptable in cyclocross culture, or if i'm being way too aggressive. the bunch spreads out just as quickly as it does in the georgia races, where you wind up racing pretty much by yourself or kind of near someone for the majority of the race.

i'm kicking tail in the straight sections, but that doesn't last long; as soon as we start into the twists and turns of the course, some of the guys i had just passed come creeping back. apparently they have experience navigating wet, slick corners here in rainy oregon-- wonder where they get their practice...

i get bolder and faster as the 45 minutes wear on-- oh yeah, races in oregon are longer than the georgia races (45 minutes as compared to 30 minutes, in my case). at this point, i'm in the top 20 but can't seem to gain any more ground on the leaders.

i get a bit carried away in one of the corners and completely slide out. so much for keeping my kit clean. no injuries or mechanical problems, so i'm quickly back up and chasing again.

it's a fun course and it surely tests my ability level. i end up finishing in the top 20, but don't really have time to confirm the results due to my date with the portland airport.

the organizers were nice enough to have a bike wash area set up- just a bunch of hoses set up by the cow watering troughs, nothing fancy. it was a very welcome relief, though, because my bike was caked in mud. i was dreading having to wash it off in the hotel shower, as i've done at other races (steve can tell you about that...).

showering and bike pack-up go smoothly and we catch our flight with time to spare. the entire oregon experience was great; the state is so picturesque and oregon is a very cool town. i think the wine is better in california, but that's my personal opinion.

many many many thanks to byron for doing a killer job on keeping my bike running smoothly (as always) and for helping me make packing and unpacking my bike a snap. he's a genius. all of that traveling never affected the shifting quality of the wheel true in the slightest- a testament to his skills.

shelly took all of the pics-- she's the best. period.

oh yeah, and the race had a unicycle division. go figure.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Georgia Cross Series #2--- Dahlonega

The second race of the GeorgiaCross Series took place in Dahlonega, known for its pain-inducing hills and adrenaline-pumping descents. It was put on by my buddies Josh and Leigh Saint and Jon Dalman

I went into race #2 with some confidence, what with my decent result from Macon's race (see previous post).

My training has been going smoothly, getting in two solid weeks since the last race with a great ride on sunday over the hills of warm springs and pine mtn. I'm in the next-to-last phase of my cyclocross training, with the main emphasis on 3minute hill repeats over at the hill behind harris co. high school. that barrel of fun happens twice a week and i decided to throw in a long-ish effort at right below my lactate threshold after i finished tuesday's set. i must have been feeling good, which means i'm ready to race.

i had the privilege of pre-riding the course back in august. it runs through the vineyard at Montaluce winery, which is just outside of Dahlonega proper, and is styled completely in a Tuscan theme-- very cool.

the first part of the course is all mountain bike-- totally downhill with tough turns that require more skill than what your average roadie possesses. you can make up a whole lotta time in this section, or you can lose a good chunk of time , depending on your handling skills.

of course-- what goes up, must come down. the second part of the course puts you past your LT and into the red zone, with some uphill grinders, an uphill off-camber section (e.g., along the side of a hill, with the slope), the barriers, of course, and a monster run-up. the run-up is a misnomer; i could barely manage a trudge-up and felt more like making it a walk- or crawl-up after a few laps.

my field, the men's "C" , ran for a total of 30 minutes, which translated into 5 laps. As we lined up, the officials called the top 10 racers from Macon's race to the front, so i got a great starting spot.

the only problem was that i was caught completely off guard by the ref's nonchalant start command and couldn't get clipped in before 20 guys passed me. yet again, i spent the good portion of a lap chasing to get back to the front. i never really saw the lead guy, due to all of the twists and turns of the course.

Before i knew it, i was battling with a guy for the fourth place spot-- deja vu all over again. we traded places for at least 3 laps before my roadie mentality kicked in. i sat on his wheel for a bit and rested just enough to blow by him on a grinding uphill section. i figured i had better make it stick, so i gave it full gas for the rest of the lap and up the killer run-up. i glanced at my watch to see how my heart rate responded to that- 186... ouch.

lucky for me, that was the kiss of death for him and i held out the remaining lap to finish 4th.

unfortunately, we were lapping folks at this point. cyclocross races don't pull lapped riders; it goes against the easy-going, all-inclusive nature of the sport. the officials didn't quite figure out who those lapped riders were and marked me down as finishing 7th. i seriously doubt the wheezing overweight guys who finished 40 spots back in the previous race gained that much fitness in two weeks' time to sneak in a 4th, 5th, and 6th place spot. phooey on the guy keeping tabs on the riders.

Many, many thanks to my wonderful wife, Shelly, for accompanying me, taking care of my pit wheels (hence the wheel pit pic) , and taking all of these fantastic pics. She also took videos, but i'm not clever enough to transfer them from her blackberry to here- there are some sweet vids of my running the barriers. Also, thanks again to Glenn-- the Challenge Grifo tires were a perfect selection for the very grassy, slightly damp course-- i ran them at just under 50psi.