Archive for March, 2007

So who am I? I’m a 42 year old guy with a wife and two children. In my late 20’s and early 30’s I found my inner athlete and did a lot of mountain biking and rock climbing. I got hooked on the focus, determination and physical requirements of both — with climbing being my favorite. Along came kids and I had to redefine my life along family lines. My first priority is to my wife and kids.

Climbing was out for the short to medium term since; 1) the crag isn’t the best place for kids, 2) climbing means weekends and vacations climbing — not with the kids, and 3) I loved pushing my physical and psychological limits which I couldn’t do without adequate training and regular trips. Mountain biking was questionable as well since I had to drive to the trailhead for the good trails and I loved epic all day adventures. Again, quite a time commitment with young kids.

I turned to road biking since I could leave from my front door and tailor rides to fit into the family schedule. Plus I could commute by bike. Riding around is fun and all but I also needed the intensity part of the equation. Racing cyclocross fit well into what I was looking for. Rides took on more focus since I was “training” and the racing gave outlet to my competitive nature. Other great things about cross are; 1) good spectator sport so the family can come and watch, 2) races aren’t that long at 60 minutes, 3) lots of local races so I don’t have to travel far, and 4) has a well defined and relatively short season.

I’ve raced four seasons of cyclocross now and I’ve learned quite a bit. Here’s a recap:

Season 1: I started in the B’s. I figured I was in good shape and I didn’t want to be a sandbagger. I’d put in a whole bunch of miles that year (more than I ever had before) and felt like I must be fit enough to be competitive. I was pack fill. My best results were in the top half of the field but mostly I was middle of the pack. Regardless, I was hooked. I loved the inclusive nature of the sport. Even though I was never at the front, at least I was racing with guys all race long.

Season 2: I bought a HRM and used it as an excuse to ride slow — base miles, dontcha know. We also got a dog that winter and taking care of a new puppy was a lot of work. I didn’t get many spring miles in. I started riding more in the summer but didn’t do too much in the way of structure training. I raced C’s and finished in the top ten a few times.

Season 3: Spring was pretty bad again but I turned it around for the summer. I did intervals in preparation for the season and had pretty good legs. What I didn’t have was much confidence. I raced Master B’s. My tactics for the first few races were to start toward the middle/back and just work to move up in the field — see how many guys I could pass. It turned out I could pass quite a few. By the end of the season, I was racing near the front of the pack and I was liking it. I had my best result with a 3rd place. I actually lead much of the race and lost it in the final half lap.

Season 4: Spring was a disaster. I didn’t do anything except commute by bike for 6 months. I was riding about 3.5 hours a week total. My weight ballooned to almost 200 pounds which was fifteen pounds above my already heavy racing weight. Memorial Day weekend rolled around and I figured it was shit or get off the pot time. I put together my six month plan; 2 months of getting ready to train, 2 months of training to race, and 2 months of racing. The plan worked very well. I started the season in Master B’s and placed second in my first race. Then I won my next race and was upgraded to the Master A’s. I was packfill, once again, in the A’s. That was hard psychologically since I loved driving the race — setting pace, responding to attacks, working strategy.

So here I am. The year started off inauspiciously. I had packed on ten pounds over the holidays and I was having a hard time getting focused for riding. I know that doing the same thing I’ve done in the past isn’t going to cut it in the A’s. So here it is. I’m going to lay down some good miles in the spring and I plan to do a few races in the summer. I’ll take a little break and then start training for cross season. I’m also going to lose 32 pounds. After four seasons of racing in the low 180’s, I’m going to race at 160. I hope that a two peak season, focused training, and losing weight will have a significant impact on the the 2007 campaign.

I’ve been experimenting with the best tools to translate from Dutch to English. Thus far, I think that Altavista’s babelfish is the best bet. It’s driven by SYSTRAN which offers commercial translation software and services. Since I’ve only tried this out over the past couple days, I’ve still got quite a bit to learn. Since cyclocross is akin to a technical web site or journal in its use of specialized terminology, I have to learn what certain words or translations really mean. For example, the word “plough” shows up a good deal and I’m pretty sure it means “trade team” like Fieda or Rabbobank.

I’ve done most of my translation experiments on an article about Groenendaal (green valley by the way) and how he and Sun Web can’t come to terms. Seems Groenendaal is looking for individual sponsors and the Sun Web team director can think up a bunch of reasons why this is really bad for cyclocross.

The word is that at least Vervecken is going to make it to Cross Vegas. This won’t be the first time he has raced in the US. He came over for a few races back in 2003 (or was it 2002?). I remember watching him take care of the field at Jackson Middle School in Portland, OR. He called that course the best he’d seen in the US. I know I miss it.

In other news, Providence doesn’t look like they have it together enough to host the WC race — or so says in this article. If Providence doesn’t get it, then where would it go? The smart money would be on another east coast venue. But given that Vervecken is willing to travel all the way to Vegas for a race, that might open up more of the US as a possible venue. Anyone got any intersting rumors?