Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gold Cowbell - Seattle Cyclocross

Monroe, WA was the last race of the year for the Seattle Cyclocross series and this race would determine the podium winners for the year. After the Sprinker race I was sitting in 5th place for the series. When I got up in the morning it was raining....hard. As I arrived at the race course it was still raining hard. On my one and only ride around the course I noted running water, mud puddles, deep mud, and grassy sections of goo.  The race started and the roosters of flying mud began. This picture was taken during the first lap of the race in one of the sandy corrals. Note the narrow line of hard packed sand.

 I figured that my glasses would be covered in flying mud thereby limiting my vision but the real problem was the slimy hillside where I fell. Later in the race I would have to run the slimy sections.

 This was a power course.....powering through all the mud. This picture was taken later in the race evidenced by the accumulation of mud on the jersey.

During the run-up.

 Finally I crossed the finish line and then headed for the car and some dry clothes. I wanted to get to the awards ceremony and did not have much time. After piling all the muddy things in the car, I headed for the ceremony. They called Don forward for third place and my heart sank to the floor. I figured that I missed the podium for this year. Then Tom was called for second, again not me. I was standing there under the side of the barn watching the rain fall when, much to my surprise, they called my name for the top podium position. The final numbers must have been very close, but at age 64 I'm very grateful to have won this series.

Podium finishers for the Cat 4 Men 55+ group

Many thanks to Seattle Cyclocross for putting on these races for the past 20 years.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sprinker CX

As you can see from the following photo, the Sprinker course was frosty with a hint of mud. The lead in this photo is Jodi who is in the process of winning the women's SS race.

I got a good start and latched onto the wheel of the leaders.

There were a lot of grassy turns, three sets of barriers and then my trouble spot, the sand pit. I don't normally have trouble with sand but this sand pit cost me way too many seconds. In the end I got 4th place (26 seconds off the leader) in the Men Cat 4 55+ group. I'm now ranked 6th in Washington by USAC for Cat 4 men 55+.

It does not look that cold in the photos but when I finished the race, my feet were stinging from cold for over thirty minutes.

My Challenge Grifo tires did well in the grassy corners and slipped only once on the icy rocks during the turn into the first barriers. In all, it was a good day and I'm looking forward the the final race in Monroe.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Seattle Cyclocross - Steilacoom

This is the second time this season that we have raced at Steilacoom. Several days prior to the race, we all received an email from Seattle Cyclocross predicting wet weather and lots of mud. They wanted to duplicate the conditions at Enumclaw. It was not to be.

The course was dry and fast with plenty of climbing to thin out the field. I got a faster start than usual, worked my way around the barns and started passing 45+ aged back markers on the first climb on the tarmac. After a narrow section of single track, the course designers placed three barriers further apart than normal on an up hill section that forced everyone to run the entire length of the barriers. I lost a lot of time in this run-up stretch because of all the traffic. A right turn sent you down a short down hill followed by tight turns around trees and then another longer climb up a gravel road and around a large water tank. By this time in the race, I was totally out of breath but had to negotiate a narrow loose gravel down hill path with my eyes watering from the cold. I love doing sketchy down hill sections, at speed, and blind.

Following the descent you were greeted with a wood chip path and then the remainder of the course on grass and tarmac. 

I sprinted for the finish but did not catch Rick, who was 2 seconds in front of me. 

In the end I got 6th place out of 26 in the Cat 4 55+ age group on a course that required a lot of power and endurance. 

A little math fun: As we lined up for the start the officials told us that the course had changed since the pre-ride and would be a little longer. Then, during the race, they added another lap to the race. So, as you crossed the start/finish line on lap one you heard "two laps to go". Then at the end of lap two, you again heard "two laps to go" at the finish line. Some of us were questioning the officials math abilities, but what the heck, this is cyclocross, you just go until you drop.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Only in Ballard

I saw the following in an email written by Fabien.

"I was driving to my classes in baaaahlard and was driving up the lake city way road when I saw a cycling, climbing in the biggest gear he could handle and making the same face as Bjarne Riis climbing up in the Pyrenees. He was looking straight ahead and was clearly aiming to catch up a rider about 200 meters ahead of him who was spinning casually.

I got closer to the said cycling who was pedaling smoothly, perfect technique, when I realized that it was....RAINER!

I laughed so hard thinking about the other guy trying to catch Rainer up....

Anyway, I thought that I would sharer that with you :D"


Alleen in geval u niet wist, is Rainer een van de sterkste cyclocross en weg racers in het noordwesten.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Seattle Cyclocross - Enumclaw

If you like full-on mud and slimy bike handling, then you should not have missed this race. It was raining as we left the house and headed for Enumclaw and it was still raining as we drove into the fairgrounds parking lot. The grass was wet, the mud puddles were deep and the peanut butter mud was all around. I checked in at registration and then tried to get some warmth into my legs prior to the race. Soon enough we lined up and the whistle blew. The first several hundred yards of the race was wet grass followed by this steep slippery run up.

Here I am wading through the tar pits doing a little hike-a-bike. 

 Christie is showing us how to plow through the mud.

On a faster section.

After going through the slimy back portion of the course we headed back to the grassy section, then across barriers, various ditches, a straight section of watery grass/mud and through the middle of a barn. On the last lap, the fellow in front of me hollered "MOOOOOO" as we went through the barn and the sound echoed all around us.

As for my race, on the first lap I tried to find a good path around the course. On the second lap I found some areas where I could use my conditioning and do some passing. On the third lap I passed several in my group and as I crossed the finnish line they announced that I was fourth, an excellent result on this challenging course.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

MFG Magnuson CX

Early this morning, it was calm and beautiful at Magnuson Park in Seattle. 

Then all hell broke loose! 

Here comes the devil and his followers.

(On this photo, note the bike grip while crossing the barriers.)

Happy Halloween!

Then at the end of the day, the park was quiet and the locals returned.

The Magnuson CX was a good race for me. I got third place in the Cat 4 (55 and over age group), finishing 10 seconds behind the leader. The course had a lot of long flats, one technical section around a tennis court, and a nice gravel road up a hill. There were very few places to rest.....power on all the way. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wonderful conversation

On my way back from Speedy Reedy I stopped at the Starbucks at Leschi. I was at one of the outside tables when a couple rode their bikes up.  The fellow sat down at the table with me while his wife went inside to get drinks (his job was to watch the bikes). I found out he had taken two years of French and this past summer he and his wife traveled to Europe and rode their bikes over all of the major cols in the Pyrenees. Awesome! By the way, they were my age which means over 60.

Monday, October 24, 2011

In between storms

I enjoyed a cool and beautiful training ride around the south end of Lake Washington.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MFG Marymoor CX race

It rained most of the night so the Marymoor course was wet and deceptively slimy. I got an OK start and then kept a good pace to stay with my group. As we came upon the 45 year old back markers, I found it more difficult than normal to find passing lanes. The course had a narrow sweet spot at race pace. During the second lap just as I approached the turn into the center of the velodrome, two fellows went down in front of me and I lost time but managed to get around them without going down. However, later on that lap, on the back of the course, a racer went down right in front of me and I had nowhere to go. I went down on my left side and slid under the tape. It took me awhile to get up so lots of racers passed me. As I got rolling again to continue the race,  I checked to see if I had damaged my shoulder. Not the best way to finish a CX race but that is the luck of cyclocross. Fortunes will be different next race.

Wet stairs were a new feature for this course and you approached them from a tricky right hand corner and then after the stairs the terrain was slopping which made the remount more difficult.

Here is an example of a fall prior to the stairs. 

This picture shows the muddy trail and wet grass. Notice I've taken a soil sample with my left shoulder.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A little commute, a little fun

This afternoon I hopped on the Cervelo for a little commute to recover the car from the repair shop. When I got to the auto shop they said the car would not be ready until tomorrow. Well, no problem, I'll just double the miles for the day and ride home. I turned around and buzzed through traffic until I got to the Newport Hill and something wonderful happened.

As I started the climb, a mountain biker turned onto my street. When he made the turn he saw me and started going up the hill as fast as he could....GAME ON! He had about a 45 yard head start so I went up two gears and went full gas. I was reeling him in on the steep section and then as I passed him I said, "Hello". He responded, "my excuse is that my bike is heaver". I love catching mountain bikers on the road.

I immediately thought of Brendan who, being a Cat 2, can reel in and pass roadies during his daily commute on his mountain bike.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Steilacoom CX

Steilacoom was a tiring race with two stiff climbs per lap. I gained positions on the flat grass and lost some time on the quick turns around the trees. I worked hard during the race and ended up getting 8th place. This year there are several new racers moving from the 45+ to the 55+ group who have pushed me down in the results.

Here is one fast lady who was pressing me from behind. Her technical skills are far better than mine.

It was a little wet and my wife said it was raining. During the race I did not even notice the rain.

This fellow can run the barriers with his eyes closed. Lots of fun. 

I still have not figured out why cyclocross is so much fun. The racers work really hard, many times the courses are challenging but we always come back for more. We race again next Sunday.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday in the rain

Het is donderdag, de dag voor een andere Nederlandse les. Wij hopen om te reizen naar Nederland voor fietsen en gezicht zien. Op een dag.

Monday, October 3, 2011

North Bend CX

Yesterday I raced the MFG North Bend CX and except for the bumpy grass, it was a great race. I got 6th place 1:07 out of first place. I put 22 psi in the tires which helped soften the bumps and provided added traction in the corners.

The course had lots of corners on wet grass. The farm venue was never used before so there were plenty of rough areas and a little elk/deer poo. MFG had a great turnout at this beautiful venue.

Here is the Cat 4 45+ group including two Bluerooster team members.

It got dark and rained for just a little while.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Raleigh Midsummer CX Race

This was an interesting race that included all kinds of different terrain, but no mud. I vividly remember the very bumpy grass, the wind, the dust, the smooth tarmac and the steep down hill. (I’m trying to forget the steep run-up)
The race started along a very fast and smooth tarmac road followed by a hard left on to the bumpy grass, ruts and plenty of dust. On this first lap I inhaled enough dust to grow a garden.  In the center of the course we raced down wind through rather tall grass which hid a lot of pot holes. It was like playing blind man’s bluff with ruts hard enough to cause flats. After the tall grass came a short jump up then a fast decent through loose wood chips. I raced in a blur of pumps until the steep down hill on lap two. Going into the down hill I was following a guy in pink when he went over the front of his bike blocking the trail right in the middle of the decent. As you can see from the pictures, I wasted a perfectly good pint of adrenalin getting my way around this fallen rider. At the bottom of the decent I was thanking my lucky stars that I had not fallen. Someone at the bottom of the decent hollered “way to go Michael” and the inflection in their voice meant, “I don’t believe he avoided that crash”.
During lap three I could hear the cheers for Emily coming up on me. I gave a holler for her to come up to me but then heard shouts that she had lost her chain. I continued on in no mans land until I saw Chris in front of me. I chanted to myself, “catch him, catch him” when suddenly at the top of the run-up he was right in my face. Little did I know at the time but the only reason I caught him was that he bent his chain ring. Again, I blurred  out until the finish. I got 7th place one minute and twenty five seconds adrift of the leader. For me this was a very good result but during the latter parts of the race I felt slow and out of gas. When home, I checked my Garmin data which indicated an average  heart rate of 182 with a max of 186 and a speed of 24.4 mph down the last tarmac stretch. A good effort for me. 
I want to thank Chris Nodder for sharing these great images.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Rain, rain, rain! Seattle is going under. It is time to start construction of the

Friday, March 11, 2011

High winds

I was riding down the west side Lake Washington bike trail when I encountered this helmet thumper.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Winter is still here

I'm out of shape and not ready for the season opening races. In addition to the massive water damage repair for the house, the weather is not helping any. The view is great but there is not much traction for the rain bike.

Even the backyard chair is not usable.

Want a Christmas tree?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bridge elevation

During my ride today I was going around the Renton airport and I usually cross a bridge that spans the Cedar River. But today, it was standing on hydraulic stilts to allow the flood waters to flow under it.

Then I rode around the airport to the other side of the airport park and looked at the bridge crossing where the Cedar River empties into Lake Washington. I was watching the flood water flow under the bridge when I happened to look down and saw a crane standing beside me.

I took the pictures, retraced my steps up the hill and the crane did not move.

I'm always delighted when I see something extraordinary on an ordinary ride.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Swirl photo

Here is an interesting photo taken during this past cyclocross season by Dan.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

California weather

What crazy weather we are having. Here is a picture of a farm in the central valley of California. This area of California may see snow once in 50 to 75 years.

You are looking at a vineyard. We hope the grape harvest will be ok.