Monday, October 27, 2008

Night Shift Bike Race

On Saturday night I participated in my first actual mountain bike race. Since the race was a night race, I was finally motivated to spend the money on a much needed light. Bought the light on Friday afternoon, charged it and put it on the first time for the race....not a very good idea.

The race stated at the bottom of Quarry Hill Road with a mass start. Once we reached the top I was with the front pack up the service road to Fred's for the start of the single track. Probably sitting around 15-20th and then I realized my light was mounted in the worst possible place for riding. My light pointed directly in front of my tire allowing me to only see about 3 feet ahead of my bike. This made my ride more or less reaction riding than mountain biking. I pushed my helmet to the back of my head and rode the race with my neck cocked back as long and often as I could. I ended up fishing the race in 54 minutes and 36 seconds and placing 30th overall out of 53 riders. Not quite what I wanted but for my first race I will take it. Next year I will have a better idea of where to place my light, the pace I need to push and the better condition I need to be in.

The race itself was a great experience. It was described as a competitive, yet friendly ride and that was a perfect description. Trails were in great shape, race organizers and volunteers put the race together perfectly, and the weather was pretty ideal. The after party/awards at T-Bocks was also a great way to cap it off as well.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Break

From last Friday until today Luther had our fall break. Although it was only 3 days off of school, it was a much needed break. I was able to get a lot accomplished during my time off as well as get caught up on some rest.

I went riding with my Dad on Saturday night and the weather was absolutely perfect. We ran into around 5-10 deer roaming the woods and rode until dusk. The times when my Dad I and are able to get out and ride is always fun and memorable.

Later on Saturday, Jeff asked me to urban ride with him, Travis and some other guys from out of town. I had never urban rode before and did not have the optimal bike for riding but thankfully Travis was able to lend me one of the bike shops. For those who don't know urban riding is similar to bmx, only the bike is more comparable to a mountain bike with full suspension. At first I wasn't sure how much it pertained to mountain biking but many of the skills were complementary such as creating your own line and negating obstacles.

I learned a lot by watching the guys urban ride and realized I need to improve in a lot of different areas to become a better rider. Looking back I wish I would have been more fearless but instead I was timid and held back more than I should have. Regardless, I had a great time and hope next time will be different.

Besides riding, the other plan for my fall break was to travel to Racine, WI with Ally to visit her roommate, Kathleen. The 5 hour drive was broken up by a quick (2 hr) stop at Blue Mounds State Park. I rode while Ally slept and was presumably bored. We then spent two nights in Racine and Kathleen's house and had a great time with her and her family. We checked out the lakefront, pumpkin farm, a favorite local restaurant, and did some shopping.

Now reality checks back and classes have resumed. My focus now turns towards the night race this Saturday night for my first night ride ever.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Adventure Race

On Sunday, I competed in Luther's Second Annual Adventure Race. The race consisted of a 5 mile canoe, 12 mile bike, and a 3 mile run. My roommate, Aaron, and I competed as a team in the event by canoeing together and biking and runing alone and then averaging our times. Over 70 people competed on a day featuring 80 degree weather, gusts as high as 30 mph, and beautiful fall leaves covering the ground.

The race started with those who were kayaking alone in groups of four with two minute intervals between the next group. Aaron and I started in the middle of the pack and were able to catch up and pass a lot of kayakers. Fortunately we never tipped and stayed dry throughout. The unfortunate part was the wind. We would be paddling as hard as we could and it would seem as if we were not moving. People were literally getting their kayak's turned around from the wind alone.

After the canoe we started the bike. Knowing what the route was beforehand, we knew it was going to consist of 2 long gradual climbs and short, fast downhills. Since my mountain bike is a single speed, it would have not been efficient to ride on the flat surface through town and I would have lost a lot of ground. Aaron and I decided to ride my geard bikes at home. The initial plan was for me to ride my Dad's and he would ride the "Green Machine." After a broken chain link and some other work on my Dad's bike I deemed it unridable for the race and turned to Anne's old Trek 720. Problem was the gear shifter on the right was broke so my only gear options were 1x7, 2x7, and 3x7.....cowboy up! Aaron was the pace setter for the ride and I was suprisingly able to keep up givin my bike specs. The ride ran through town, Palisades Park, onto the gravel portion up Quarry Hill, and down to Luther.

The run was the part that got me. I don't know how Aj was able to move his legs after biking for 112 miles. For the first 1.5 miles it was hard to just keep a steady pace and maintain decent form. It felt like I had never run before (the fact that the run started out on a trail that was incredibly uneven, filled with logs, dips, and crazy turns didn't help). Once I got to the top of college farm things finally got better and I was able to maintain a steady pace on the downhill and back to campus.

My total time was 2:04:04 and Aaron's final time was 2:08:11. I finished 10th overall and Aaron placed 13th. Overall I was pretty satisfied with my results. My only goal was to push myself as hard as I could and finish. Next year we will win the race.

Special thanks to my Mom, Judy and Cat for being great support. I know they made Quarry Hill seem a lot shorter for Ally. Pics are not uploading for whatever reason and I will continue to try until they are uploaded.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bring on the weekend!

Talk about a full week.

I had 11 classes, 2 tests, and a quiz along with 16 hours of work. Who is ready for the weekend?

Weather has been nice enough to be able to continue my bike commute to work logging over 50 miles alone from my dorm room to Wal-Mart and back.

Wrecked my mountain bike rim last weekend attempting to conquer the log ride. Went head over the bike while my tire became lodged between the log and the ground. Luckily my shoulder broke my fall. After I got that fixed I went out on a great ride last night before work with Aaron, Derek, and Joe. Only lasted around an hour but we were able to cover some ground.

This weekend is the Adventure Race that Luther is putting on. Still need to make some adjustments to my Dad's bike so I don't have to spin on my single speed on the flats. He broke his chain this past weekend when we rent riding so I took it into Deke's to get it fixed. I am excited to compete this weekend and ready to go. I will either run or bike again today and do something light on Saturday to stay loose.

I will give a race report either Sunday night or Monday.

On a side note I found an article that in New Zeland they are placing bicycle assembly stations in the international cool is that! New Zealand is widely regarded as one of the ultimate destinations for bicycle tourists — good climate, friendly people, stunning vistas. I hope to visit there some day. If only the US was as supportive and bike friendly as other places in the world.....

While AJ supports his "Save Gas, Burn Carbs" stickers I plan on sporting one of these patches onto my bag.

(Insert catch phrase here)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cub Rant

Never would I have thought it would end like this. Not so quick, not like this.

One day, the top team in the National League and a favorite to win the World Series for the first time in 100 years. Four days later, gone.

Worse than last year, and worse than '03 for me. I still remember Brant Brown dropping Rod Becks fly ball in '98 at Milwaukee with my Mom. It seems as if every great Cubs memory is becoming replaced with total letdown. Six months of great baseball and 97 wins this year have all went to squat.

It is almost as if my belief has turned from a "It's Gonna Happen" attitude at the beginning of the year to a "Who gives a shit, It's Never Gonna Happen."

Every Cubs fan starts the year with that belief that this is the year! THIS is the team that can do it! Eventually over the course of the year the losses build up and the belief slowly fades away. But not this year....

We had the losses, which were followed by 8+ game win streaks. We had no apparent weaknesses. Solid starting pitching to start and then we added another ace in Harden to give more hope. Great bullpen and great hitting. Every time our bats were down, somebody stepped up. This was the way our year went for 162 games. We were the best team in the National League. Everything was in place. This was the year to break our 100 year curse.

An ESPN writer explained that this was no choke, that happened in 2003. It wasn't a collapse either, that would be too nice of a way to explain it. They simply failed to even show up. Now labeled a playoff irrelevant team after nine straight playoff losses.

But will I quit on the Cubs? Hell no, I'm a Cubs fan. Albeit a very pissed off one....

I'll recover of course and the anger will fade as well as the "It's never going to happen" attitude.

Because of course....there is always next year.