Thursday, February 21, 2013

Priorities

I've been pretty uninspired to do much blogging, or that much riding for that matter. The dreaded *tennis* team is firing back up with all of its contretemps and hassles.

This afternoon, though, I found out that the brother of one of our players, a player who is the good friend of my son, found out that his leukemia has returned. He fought it part of '11 and into '12 and has since lived one solid year cancer-free. Now, as a 7th-grader, 13 year-old and same age as our younger son, has to face cancer again, I'm sure knowing the odds now are further stacked against him. 

Live life. Hug those close. Prioritize what gives you satisfaction, peace and "happiness", not a jolly, instant-gratification reaction, but a deep, profound sense of well-being. Perhaps religion provides an answer. Perhaps connections do. Perhaps the arts inspire. Perhaps a gravel road amid the earth's wonder can do the same.  But don't just let life happen until your name is called. Give of yourself. Find satisfaction is helping others. Take a ride, too.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Deep Thoughts

I've been riding my bike. Not excessively. Not as enthusiastically as in January. Dave and I did a nice 50 Saturday morning when I felt great. Dave met me tonight for a short 15 and I felt not as great, but it was great to have Dave own me. Good for him.

No pics. No great epiphanies. Some miles. Some work. Some tennis (heating up). UK and Real Madrid won Saturday. RealvManU Wednesday. Hopefully more bike riding.

Nothing fancy.

Monday, February 04, 2013

#Louisville2013 U23/Men's races

Up next was the U23 race. While Logan Owen was a legitimate hope for the Juniors, the only American mentioned was Rapha's Zach McDonald. Interestingly, he's majoring in aeronautical engineering at U of Washington and he's a Seattle-area native. Good stuff all round. By far my favorite picture sequence from the weekend are the following. Please read the narration.

Opening of the U23 race with the first run-up. Notice the three Dutch riders leading.

We then have a phalanx of Belgians just behind the Dutch. I love the waves of national team jerseys.

Where then? Well, we're now at the back of the opening group and this pic is literally filled with Anglo-speakers: Americans, Canadians, and Brits. And this division was within the first half of the first lap. Those Low Countries!


A muddy (and out-of-focus) Zach McDonald

Dave and I spent the U23 race roaming around a bit, but we weren't as aggressive in seeing this race as the others. Afterwards yet another beer line. A long beer line. By then the main event (sorry to the other racers, but..) fired up. We started standing down at the Rogue Racing/Nurplerides tent with a bunch of known 'Ville entities. Fun. Very fun. Mid-race I floated my way up towards the more gnarly parts of the course, falling in the slippery mud to the cheers of the crowd. It was interesting that I found myself alone at several times during the course of the day, but I could have cared less. The atmosphere was all so great.


Francis Mourey in first on second lap.

Eventual winner Sven Nys bunny hopping from afar.

J-Pow! 

Just take a look at that surface.


Brueghel's sea of humanity in Louisville for the 2013 Worlds.

I have several not-that-good shots from this spot, and in every one this guy with the glasses and hat is going absolutely ape. I think I eventually moved because he was so geeked up. I like the weird crookedness of this one, with the feral roar of superfan.

Ryan Treborn early on and towards the front. I never did find out why he DNF'd.

Late and atop the hill, this is Sven Nys coming through on the third-to-last lap. The smear is mud on the camera lens.

Belgian who dropped a chain here. 

Nys and Vantornout coming through second-to-last lap. He would soon profit from a Vantornout error and get the necessary gap for victory.

The great #Fail of the picture weekend, the #photobomb glove blocking my clean view of an about-to-win Sven Nys. It was a nice guy from New Hampshire.

Jamie Driscoll

A clean look at Bart Wellens, 4th place for the old man

My friend Mourey nearing his race finale. I have pics of his practice, his lead and now if muddy refrain.

American, I believe Johnson, turning left on the finishing straight.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

#Louisville2013 Junior/Women's race

I might be a bit too tired and hungover to do a proper write-up, but my public demands my creative product! These are from the Junior and then Women's races, which came first in the morning at 9.45 and 11.00. The Junior race was dominated by Mathieu Van Der Poel, the Women by Marianne Vos. The two Dutch riders were comparably dominant and both races were similar in that the American hopefuls Logan Owen and Katie Compton respectively spent their entire races overcoming really bad starts. Owen clawed his way back into 3rd relatively late before having a little mechanical snafu pretty close to where I was standing. It wasn't more than 5sec, but it was enough for him to be put back behind his Belgian and Dutch opponents.  I was personally surprised at how much Vos dominated Compton, but just as it was with Van Der Poel, the difference in speed was observable.

And there was a lot of beer drinking, btw.

Expo early in morning. 


This is the pit area. The Juniors didn't make too many switches.

Uh, this is at around 10.00. It was a long day. ;)

Van Der Poel coming through turn on far corner with rising river over his shoulder.


I'm pretty sure I got a clip of VDP's only mistake of the day. You might notice is angle beyond a little acute. He hit the deck and fence right after this squarely in front of me.

2nd-place Martijn Budding

Van Der Poel full tilt

Logan Owen would go on to take 4th



Sharp corner holding on to fence and headtube
Same corner with toptube
This time trying to stay on bike. Owen bobbled here a bit, further allowing the Czech rider some space

Sometime after the Junior race I ran into Dave, Jenny Oh Hatfield and The Bearded One. First Dave and I ran around a bit and later we all crossed back over into the woods for the gnarly stuff. I'm sure I drank some more beer in this time. It was 11.00am.


Vos on flyover


This might be Sanne Van Passeen. My pic of Vos from this spot is pretty blurry.


Compton giving chase.


How silly of me! I didn't get any pics of my #1 cycling fan- Emily Batty- but I did run across this interview. Actually, Dave and I were right behind her (...) and I gave her words of encouragement in a loud, enthusiastic voice that she was allowed to contact me anytime. My schedule is quite busy, but I might be able to carve out an hour for a training ride or whatever.


The two pics below show how many more fans piled into the Expo area as the day lengthened. The second pic one of the beer lines. When Dave and I arrived they told us they were out of change, so Dave bought $20 worth with a 20. Makes the math easy. (Thanks, Dave. I owe you some money)



Friday, February 01, 2013

#Louisville 2013 Part2

This weekend is the World Cyclocross Championships here in Louisville, #Louisville2013 @Louisville2013. Don't bother trying to visit the site at the moment. It's crashed. Why, you ask? Because this morning it was announced that the two primary races, Women's and Men's, have been moved from Sunday to Saturday, meaning that all four worlds races on now on Saturday. Why, you ask? Well, because the 'cross venue that I discussed briefly just this week is on the verge of flooding out. Shocking to only the Euros who don't have big, manly rivers (I jest), the river is near flood stage and forecasts for Sunday had significant water on the course. In fact, I took a few pics last week of water issues. Me? I think it's sort of cool. You have all four races on one day:- Jrs, U23s, Women's, Men's- and then the after-parties, all which get condensed into one day of insanity. But that's me. Imagine all these people coming in from *around the world* only to find out that they have to be in Louisville one day earlier.

Day 1
For me, #2013Louisville started in earnest last night- Thursday- with several activities, the first of which was the Raleigh Singlespeed 'Cross Derby which took place at Seneca Park near the house. I got a late start so only arrived for the second half, but it was just an amazing, fun bike experience. The course followed parts of the previously used short-track mtbike course, and although these cats were all on single speeds, both 'cross and other, it was just nuts, balls-out riding interspersed with bourbon shots, flames, disco balls, music, crazy fans. Did I say it was just plain, ol' fun? The 'Ville 'cross scene tends to be quite serious, hence our ability to host both USGP and Worlds, but this was the first time that a local race reminded me of the nutty stuff you see out of PDX or SF.  It ended there-of so I moved on to Event 2.

A look at the venue. The ominous lights (and lack thereof) and blowing snow made it all the more amazing.

A look down a road I travel 2-3 a week, only this time filled with cyclists of all stripes and sobriety.


Although I have no pics, #2 was every bit as cool, in this case a presentation at Molly Malone's by Vin Cox, the one-time holder of the fastest bicycle circumnavigation, as of 2010. I missed the first part, during which he specifically discussed his 2010 trip. We (Dave, Timothy, and I) had a few beers and a good talk with Vin about touring in England. The second half of his presentation dealt more with motivation, camping, and new aspirations. I found him to be very down-to-earth and approachable. We bade him and the remainders adios and headed towards Event #3, the SSCX after-party at Against-the-Grain downtown, which for Dave and me meant a 7-mile-ish ride down.

We exited Molly's to find a fair amount of snow on our bikes and temps that had fallen pretty drastically in the hour or so I was there. For me at least, the next 30 minutes or whatev might have been the coldest I've ever had on a bike, with temps in the upper-10s but with a nasty wind kicking from the west. Yes, straight headwind with wind chills around 0F. And the sleet and snow too. It was pretty crazy, really. We finally arrived at AtG to find a packed house in full drunk, with music, giveaways (ending as we arrived) and lots of networking. It was fun to talk to a variety of different folks from the different cycling tribes in 'Ville, much like the SSCX as a race. Eventually we enjoyed watching the bike polo crew getting tossed for drinking bourbon and misplacing some beer glasses. Oops! At some point we left and headed for B'town (with a tailwind and lower temps at around 13F) where I peeled off for home. I topped it all by hitting a patch of black ice while turning into my street and fell directly on my knee, which now has an attractive knot. I'm old and it hurts. Great night, though.

Day 2

Day 2 began with me putting the studded tires on the Troll. The knee is stiff and the thigh bruise tender, so I want to leave nothing to chance. I'm old! I'm weak! I decided to take in some Masters' racing at the Champions section first, not, actually second.

First I passed through the Worlds venue to look around a bit. Nothing too dramatic, just a bit of fun.

The organizers have pissed off every Belgian born since '21 by moving the Sunday mass events to Saturday due to flooding potential. Here are some efforts to keep the river at bay a bit.

southern/high ground portion of course with numerous camera stands

The somewhat famous, off-camber turn. Interesting that the thickness of the mud has allowed for a furrow, as you can see. Perhaps it will be easier than the women had in the USGranPrix in the Fall.

A rather impressive stable of Moots 'cross bikes at the Shimano tent. I found out later that Shimano was giving out free winter hats. Bummer. Didn't get one.

 This is a comparable look down River Rd. towards the finish as I took earlier in the week.  There seems to be more activity now than there was then. Lots more.

After that stroll I made my way down to the Masters' races, and I really enjoyed what I saw. The course was a total mess, and as I piloted the Troll over the spongy, frozen, dense crud below I couldn't even imagine the difficulty of racing in such conditions on 32s. My first stop was at a muddy downhill made fun by the "will he or wont' he" expectation of crashing. Many more stayed on course than I expected.


This guy is from Spain. Venga!!!
I moved down the fence to another downhill and bog crossing at which a Masters woman was yelling for folks to take the left line. It was interesting that in one spot you could take multiple lines *down* the hill, multiple lines at the apex and then two prominent lines along the ditch. Or you could run and make good time as I saw one guy do. From there I moved to a flatter portion made fun by the gift of a collapsible vuvuzela. I impressed some folks using my 5th-grade band technique to made some seriously obnoxious volume. The combo of that and cowbell tomorrow should make for some serious fandom. I eventually worked back before the exit, but not before I experienced standing very near to one of the mobile announcers as Pete Webber lost his commanding lead in the 40-45 race. Mr. Webber has an exemplary CV in the U.S. 'cross and mtbike world, but on this day the mucky muck of #Louisville2013 seemed to throw technical spanners into his works. He would go on to finish 3rd. Before exiting I took one more look at the mud hill where I observed a rider somehow fall and doing a perfect somersault downhill, ending up on his feet and bask in the adulation of the crowd. Only at 'cross, I think, can you fuck up so badly and still get a heap of love. He shortly abandoned.

I made my way back towards the big venue but was thwarted, as the course was closed for official training. I stealthily used the "underpass" method to briefly get back in- to my chagrin not near the Shimano tent- and take in a couple more minutes before needing to head home to take the wife out. I'm not sure I got the necessary info on entry, bike parking, beer location, frites, or schwag, but it was a worthy couple hours of Worlds 'cross action.

And tomorrow- ALL DAY TOMORROW- is the main event.


Numerous Belgians discussing what tire combos to use to eek out a Cat6 commuter win vs. one Timothy Smith come Monday. Fucker has no chance.

Another view of the sand wall using large leaf bags. No wonder they moved things to Saturday.

I'm pretty sure this is Francis Mourey of France, who is a well-known 'cross and road cyclist. What's funny is that on his ascent here of this hill, his rear tire slipped just a bit. He dismounted and looked and the spot with the look on his face as though, "How dare you piece of shit mud make my tire slip!", incredulous. This is shortly before the turn onto the finishing straight. A slip here could lose the race or a medal spot.

Tomorrow is the main event, with racing from 9.30 to 2.30, four races in all. And afterwards, the parties begin (or continue, right?). I hope to have many pics, but at 22F and with a small point-in-shoot, pix taking isn't that much fun.

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