Golden Gate Park, San Franscio, CA - 11/25/07
Scenes from the Men’s A and Singlespeed race, which runs at the same time.
This one is the Men’s A 35+ / 45+ race.
From Sunday, November 25, 2007 - Golden Gate Park, CA
Part of the Pilarcitos Bay Area Super Prestige Cyclocross Series
It’s about 9:20 AM as I type this, and I should be unhooking my rear wheel from the trainer, shedding the warmers and staging just past the finish line so as to get one more practice lap in at the GGP course.
Instead, I’m waiting for a batch of cornbread to finish baking and repositioning the ice packs on my calf. Slippery little suckers.
Um…that’s the ice packs, hopefully not the cornbread.
The 2007 Cross Campaign pretty much ended yesterday as I was pre-riding the circuit. There was this uphill double barrier set towards the end of the loop, and I didn’t feel like I was carrying enough momentum into it. So, I went back around and tried again. A few times. I had been kicking off as though it was a climb dismount and realized that I could probably just treat it like a level barrier dismount. Tried that and came in with good speed, stepped through and clicked out, then pushed off the right foot. Trouble.
I actually felt the pop before it started hurting. Made it over the barrier before coming down in a heap and freaking out the guy behind me. He was appropriately concerned, thought I’d whacked my shin on the barrier and made sure I was OK. I hopped to the nearest felled tree trunk, sat heavily and wondered just how much damage I’d done. Although it is the same calf that’s been causing me grief all fall, it’s definitely a different muscle - this time is the inner part of the outer muscle - hey, this is a spot-on description of things - as opposed to a deep inner location.
Lessee…this is where I say something like “Jeepers! That’s a shame!”
Was pretty clear I wouldn’t be riding anymore that day, so I rolled back to the car, packed up and headed home. Can’t easily put any weight on my toes. Ice. Elevation. Compression. Ibuprofin (doc recommended - 3 days to reduce fluid buildup).
As all the cameras are charged up, I’m probably going to go wander in and watch things. It is a pretty major gathering of the tribe.
Hmmm…9:40. I’d be taking that lap about now.
The uniqueness of that thought cannot be overstated. It’s been a few weeks of dull and listless slogging, coughing, wondering why the night won’t end, coughing, hoping that morining wouldn’t come so quickly, trying to make my brain work, feeling cold, feeling chilled and grumpy.
When things are going good, I love enjoying the brisk winds of winter, mist-shrouded trails and quiet with the rain moments from the saddle of a bicycle. There’s a wonderous imperviousness that keeps you moving against challenges, and you feel like the reserves are there in large stuffed dufflebags found in every closet.
It’s kind of amazing how easily that gets forgotten when I get laid low. I begin realizing what a whimp I am, and think about the folks out on the frontiers a mere 150 years ago. They couldn’t let a cold, flu or infection set them back - the herd would die, the crops would go untended and critters would make off with the chickens. Of course, that was kind of a hard, brutal life otherwise, what with marrying around 14 and dying at, well, pret’near my age. So, maybe that’s a bad example.
The short version is that yesterday’s momentum stuck around for a bit. Let me peel the cages off the Hilsen and inflate the tires once more. Let me roll down the shady road to China Camp, bump onto the trails and reintroduce my muscles to contractions and relaxations.
After a slight system meltdown from the first climbing, I got back on board and enjoyed first the benefits of a geared, freewheeling drivetrain, then the manners of A. Homer Hilsen on singletrack. By the time I’d looped around, enjoyed a gorgeous view of the SF Bay and East Bay Hills and then dropped down to Shoreline trail, things started feeling pretty good. Didn’t see too many people on the trail, as the most folks were probably tracing the traditional “Appetite Seminar” route. But, it worked for me.
Afterall, momentum is a fickle mistress.
As the temps pitched downward in the past few days, the little dog has decided that nesting under a warm blanket trumps getting up to walk and eat. This throws a bit of a half-step in my morning ritual, but it does mean that I get a little longer to wake up and think about the day. Another half-cup of strong Peets and the words just flow…
The new Dirt Rag arrived yesterday, and my interests found Jaquie Phelan’s* article on the Single Speed World Championships held in Scotland last year. I’d stumbled across her blog a month or so ago, and have been enjoying her punwomanship and topics. It’s nice to read her voice in print for any number of reasons - the phrase “optimistic wackiness” comes to mind - but one of the themes that she hits on in the blog is the neighborhood when most are sleeping.
Maybe I like it because it’s geographically near, and the themes of paradise-lost-to-the-SUV-driving-aquisitives and overlay-of-lavishness-upon-what-is-already-paradise ring very true. But, I really enjoy the listening-to-one’s-world posts that are there.
If you are wandering around your neighborhood much (well, maybe if you are wandering around my neighborhood much…), you come to the conclusion that most folks are at best blissfully disconnected from everything around them. They walk the 23 feet from door to car door, tumble in, tether themselves down, fire up the engine and lurch away seeking goddess-knows-what. These days when the thermometer gets depressed and the canines hunker down, the defroster is blowing and tunes or what passes for radio commentary is blasting. Swaddled in layers of distraction and diversions. Probably whipping their phone out, if my non-scientific observation is correct.
But, when the amalgam of clatter, slipping drive belts and thrumming combustion finally departs, the block again seems quiet and deserted. I wonder if those folks know that the house four doors down is home to the woman whose husband must’ve died recently, since he’s nowhere to be seen and the daughter seems to come by much more regularly.
The gang of crows have clustered at the top of the highest leaf-losing branches, trying to catch the first warmth of the sun’s rays as it edges over the ridge. Down here on the ground, my breath causes fog and the dog gets wetter and colder as dew dampens her thin layer of fur. I wonder if those departing folks know about the house on the street (and there’s probably one on every street) where no one seems to live. Papers show up, disappear, garbage cans roll themselves out to the street and retreat when emptied. But, in the years we’ve lived here, I’ve never seen a human appear, nor - as I realized yesterday - a light burn in a window after dark.
Our walk continues. Past the house with the garage door that is always open, the car that always gets parked an extra foot away from the curb, the house with the two RV’s parked in front which are jam-packed with, well…stuff. This one always seems to cause a slight bit of sadness within me. The front yard of the same house always looks like a huge garage sale is underway, but the items all sit behind a locked fence - an odd museum of the accumulated. These RV’s act as the storage units, their window’s showing stacks of magazines and found objects, wedged in with a frightening fierceness. You wouldn’t notice that at driving speed.
Streets intersect around here with a casual oddness, routed by the confines of nature combined with the regularity of the grid. This allows all manner of loops, to the delight of ever-peeing little dog. The other morning, I realized that one person up a street on which we tend not to travel had a big honking flat screen TV thoughtfully positioned so that passersby could enjoy the visuals through the front window. To my great suprise, the images at 7:15 am were bicycle road racing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince the dog that interesting smells existed in the foliage directly across the street, so we slogged along as brightly colored jerseys duked it upon the roadways of some European villages. Another bit that would be but a flash of peripheral noise from behind tinted windows.
It’s the walking, repeatedly and slowly along the same pathways, which tend to give rise to realizations and discoveries. Maybe it’s all low-level stuff - the natterings of the monkey-mind jabbering encouragement to save these shards of thought like the person with the RV full of Newsweeks. But, I guess my hope is that somehow it’s cutting down through the noise of culture and momentum of aquisition, finding a different and more observant pace. And from that place, you can begin to think about all that which surrounds you, all that which is worth ackowledging as truly important. Maybe from there, you can begin to utter a meaningful thanks or two.
Best to all today.
*I’m assuming that everyone reading knows who JP is, just ‘cuz I assume everyone reading knows the history of mountain biking. But, if you don’t, go here, read about WOMBATS here and catch up on Marin-centric MTB history here. Hopefully I’ll keep building up the mtb lore and history pages here.
Funny how things go. After the McLaren Park race, I had a couple thoughts about how, as badly as things went, my calf was solid and I could begin work on ramping up the “work” for the next three weeks in anticipation of the Golden Gate Park race on the 24th. Sure, everyone else had the same three weeks, but I’d held on OK despite very little actual “speed work” in prep for this year’s cross season, and had the delusion that there was a potential benefit.
Things shifted a little that evening, as I could feel something going a little south, throatwise. By the next day, it was pretty clear that a cold had invaded, and so mentally clicked back the clock to lose the next week.
True to forecaset, sore throat turned to stuffed ears and cottony brain. A couple days later, the cottony brain (I think) failed to immediately realize that the guy sitting behind me in a class, coughing on the back of my neck, was a danger. By the time I moved away, whatever microbes he had been harboring had landed, began colonizing and would be my good friend for another week. Of course, I had to get over the cold first.
Today - Tuesday - is the first morning that the walls haven’t been moving. Thank goodness for small victories. The Peet’s Holiday Blend seems to be having its standard effect as well. Big dog and I woke up, did our morning rituals and rather than follow her example of finding a warm and soft place to lie back down, there’s a momentum which keeps me upright and typing. Normalcy is a nice change.
It also has me revisiting the whole CX race thing. Since the last outing, my training to date has included the following:
1) Swapping saddles/posts between Quickbeam and Hilsen
2) Walking the dog around the neighborhood.
3) Holding the dogs while my wife trimmed them
This is not the sort of stuff you can just find in a free Chris Carmichael column, y’know…
You’re probably way ahead of me, but this represents the sum total of my:
1) Weight training
2) Endurance work
Which may have a moderate effect upon efforts in GGP on Sunday. Like I said, funny how things go.
As you may have inferred from earlier posts, I’m kind of a “run what you brung” kinda guy. It is where I am, and as long as it doesn’t seem I’ll do any damage, it’ll be fun to toe the line, figure out how to shift again, and sweat with the other oldies in the beautiful setting of SF’s largest urban park. While I wasn’t harboring any illusions about cracking the top ten, it would’ve been fun to see some if things progressed with a bit of specific prep effort.
That sounds a little depressed as I reread it, which is really not the case. It feels great to be not actively ill. And every day feels just a little better. Finishing will be good. Heck, even not doing damage will be good. I think, as they say, it’s all good.
Yikes! Where did the week go?
I mean last week, weekend and the two pre-hump days of this week. Zifft! PFFffft! Gone.
Well, from this end, the head cold that I woke up with after the last cross race bloomed (or morphed) into a neat little chest infection, which had me up a couple nights coughing, then sleeping through the following days recovering. I say that not to garner sympathy, but because, as I chisel my way back to normal habits, I’m finding a larger-than-normal amount of submissions and updates to the Galleries - it’s almost overwhelming to consider, especially since I had about 8 or 9 bikes already in the queue.
So, if you sent something in - despair not! I actually need to hunker down and catch up on work work, then I will try to get back on top of the photos and updates that all’s y’all sent.
For some reason Goo-Vid got cranky and wouldn’t cough up the images. I just moved ‘em over to YouTube, so they should work now (though they seem to be rendered a bit worse than GVid showed ‘em… I still gotta figure out this vid-yo thing.) (And none of it looks anywhere close to the quality of the edited footage before I squish it down to QT size.)
Since a couple of folks were kind enough to email and ask where the movies were, I’ve got them mirrored here:
Mc-Climbin’… McLaren…whatever. Let us first return to those halcyon days of yore - the blissful early part of the race, when confidence was high and spirits still bouyant.
Yep, there I was trotting along after a pretty clean dismount. Yeah, I was in the latter third of the pack, but, hey, I felt pretty good about the next section, which was a pretty good runup. And to my great happiness, everything felt pain-free in my calf. So, we all hup-hup-hupped up that section, remounted our bikes and enjoyed a brief fling with non-incline work before the next bit of climbing.
(I’m probably going to use “climb”/”climbing” a bit redundantly in the description today. I apologize in advance for the repitition. It is sort of a thematic representation of how the course felt.)
At this point, I looked down and noticed a singlespeed wheel not too far ahead of me. I tried to focus on that, avoid the wobblers and follow it as we zig-zagged into the next uphill pitch. That was not ultimately to be, as the course eased upward and he gapped me right and proper. This first climb ended with a sharp pitch-up and immediate u-turn down again. Since I needed both engine and momentum to hit up the pitch, and had found only the congestion of felled and staggering riders, I hopped off and ran up, kicked back over onto the bike and headed down the chute, across the grass and turned hard right for the next climb. This one started more slowly, but built a bit in intensity. I had gone up it OK on my practice lap, but here in the race couldn’t find the grip or the gumption to keep the gear turning over. Still among traffic and once again on foot, I had the clear thought that at least I was staying even with the folks who were smart enough to bring gears and still be riding. Pretty clean remount at the top, and away down the fast descent to the next - you guessed it - hill.
This one would have benefitted with a bit of rain, but today it was pretty much covered in baby powder dust. It started off with a nice use of a felled tree for a barrier, then worked upwards before cresting out on the south face of the hill. Between the leaves and dust, fitness level and gearing, I couldn’t kick it over and scrambled up the fast, if even softer line. With trees all around, it looked like the sort of place you might slink away to if you needed some quiet time. But today, it was the place where I had a second thought -
“I’ve been doing a helluva lotta running!”
Which was pretty true. And I wasn’t really keeping up with the geary-boys any longer. They had all disappeared down the A-line descent. Crap.
Oh well… hopped on and hoped for redemption. ‘Twas not to be. The hills were fast and loose, the turns off-camber and tight, so by the time I hit the pavement, thoughts were on recovery before the whole flippin’ thing repeated rather than anything particularly constructive.
The climbs felt worse with each repitition, and if you send the small children from the room before viewing the video, you can see I’m pushing the pedals with all the muscles of the Stay-Pufft Marshmallow Man. Clearly, I needed a smaller gear or bigger engine. (Note for next year - gear down for McLaren!)
Ended up not-quite-DFL, the last guy who got lapped once. Woke up Monday with a nasty sore throat and cough, which kept me home from work today. So, hopefully that had something to do with it. Of course, a little more quality work beforehand might help as well…
But, enough about me. Let’s talk about the Men’s A 45+ race. In short, this is what it’s supposed to look like:
That is Mark Abele from RBW streaking out in the second wave to win by about 26 seconds on a - did I mention this already - tough danged course. Great Job Mark!
We hung out long enough to bump into Keven from RBW, who was getting prepped for the Men’s A race. We hung out for a couple laps, but had to get back to the dogs, so cut out before the finish. From the results, it looks like he was duking it with a good number of riders. That’s him with the red Legolas.
All in all, a stunningly beautiful day again - ridiculously beautiful weather…though I can’t really imagine that course in nasty, rainy conditions. Although, I’ve got this funny little idea in my mind about trying to run some gears in the Golden Gate Park race this year… We shall see, we shall see…