Sunday, January 31, 2010

One Last Gasp

Has it really been 6 months? I started doing cross specific stuff back in June to get ready for the early Starcrossed/Rad Racing races in September. Now in January my legs feel like it is finally time to hang up the cross bike. My fantastic wife and kid who never tell me no have vicariously gotten a lot of pleasure from cross as well this year but see it is time to take a break.

In May I emailed my long term coach John Verhuel for a nice summer/fall plan to take me up to nationals. I did a lot of intervals and some races last year to get ready for the cross season. In fact, the training block was really challenging in terms of balancing work/home/sport. There were many "two a day" days and some trainer work in my cramped little stockroom behind my classroom (next door classes would ask, "Is Kuhn using a shaver back there?" referring to the trainer buzz). My goal was to ramp up a training stress score of 100tss/day by September 1st and I came close getting to 98tss/day.

The fall was really stressful with work/life and trying to sell our house and move in this economy. In between all of that I was able to do two UCI races in Seattle while doing house deals over the phone. I came up pretty good with 1 top 10 and a top 20. Most people know I got punched in a race by Tim Butler (Sue Butler's husband) and I was also accused by an official at the race of threatening and putting my hands on him (the official). I tried to clear that up (because it was a lie or a case of mistaken identity) but it never got anywhere with USAcycling.
I also got to meet some great HUP NW guys like Zac Daab, Max Hullaway, Dave Roth and Bernard Georges and got to start next to Richard Feldman. Probably the coolest thing about the trip was racing at Rad with Mt. Ranier in the distance.

Back in Georgia I had a very good fall cross season with some wins and hard earned top 3's. I tried my hand at the A group and was in the top 5 both times. I made some new friends and new rivals and best of all rode some great courses. We had a lot of wet weather this fall/winter and racing in the mud is really fun and can change a course instantly. We also saw a change in the guard as Adam Jones handed the series off to a group of promoters. Adam has been a tireless worker for the cross scene here and having spent time with him at two nationals and his counter part Shey Linder at 3 nationals, they are two of the best. I was happy to see Daryl and Kim sawyer back on the bike and pushing their twins around the venues. They had a hell of a hard spring and to see them having fun was great. Of course the races were hard fought and my closest cross friend Brendan Sullivan and I drove to a few races together, only to compete with each other once we got there. There is no one I enjoy racing most than Brendan. He is truly a class act, very talented, and his toughness is unmatched. My favorite races with him were Dahlonega where I thought I had it won, only to have him come from the back row and catch me with two laps to go. The other was Savannah where we conspired to take a state jersey only to get foiled by about 5 seconds of undecisive racing and a very strong Eric Neely. Brendan's attack with 2 to go through the start finish is one I will remember forever.

In the end, Eric Neely was the warrior of the season doing most masters and A races each Sunday and I think Brady Rogers had the most heart. If anything, I was most consistent. I did not realize any championship or title but I had no injuries, stayed healthy, and rode as many races as I could as well as I could. This was my happiest cross season in 11 years.

The winter series was a short love affair that started in a make up race back in November when Brendan and went head to head in the mud. I liked the farm course and its circular orad in front of it, the fact that it was private property and that the promoters were so motivated. It evolved quickly into a neat 4 week winter series that had small attendance numbers but planted seeds for future years. next year I will help with promotion and try to grow it. We have lots of ideas and the fact that world's will now be in the US in 2012 allows us a few years to get it ready for those needing 4 more weeks before Louisville. If the GA cross series was my intensity, the winter series was shear joy. I gave equally hard efforts each week in mud, snow, ice and cold and it felt great. I can't thank everyone involved enough for their efforts.

We are about to see the fruits of our labor for the past 10 years in terms of cyclcoross in the US. Great things are going to happen in the next 5 years that will elevate the sport. There is no way I'll race another nationals or a world's until maybe I am a lot older, but I hope to go and scream a bit. There are rumors of a dedicated cross course in Atlanta, we have a full 10 race schedule next fall and then 4 races in January. Things are good. I will be starting my own tubular gluing business next summer and probably rent out wheel sets next fall for those who want to try tubulars (it will be cheap to rent and pretty cheap for gluing), so stay tuned if you are interested. I think I have the gluing art down pat.

Today I pushed it really hard knowing it would be the last race for awhile. The feeling of the right pressure of tubulars on mud, the cold air, and cowbells ringing reminded me that verything moves so fast. There is going to be a 3 week let down and then some riding. But June is only 6 months away and I'll have another excuse to get excited about cyclocross. Here is to 2010/2011!

Bring on the classics!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rome Winter Cyclocross Series Race #2

With rain the previous two days and temperatures in the 50's, the second race of the Rome winter series was destined for mud. David had added back the terraces and muddy 180 degree turn and some other treats on the moto-cross circut, but the moto-cross section was made of caking mud which made turning the wheels impossible. So with that section out, he ran the extended bottom course.

The turn out was much bigger this week and the A/B race had over 14 people. We had a visit from the Faster Mustache team and even had a fellow drive all the way up from Florida.

The A race was really fun with the course being one challenge and the Faster Mustache guys throwing down from the start. After about 3 laps I got a small lead over Eric Nicoletti but I hit a crevice in the wooden bridge which grabbed my front tire and threw me over. Once I regrouped he was off the front and by the end I was only able to come within 5 seconds or so.

The course was mostly grass and mud but David did also add in the paved quarter mile loop which made it even tougher. Looks like more free beer and more mud this Sunday. Hope to see some of you out there!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rome Winter Cyclocross Series Race #1

The cold only lasts the first 15 minutes, so basically it is all mental. At 11am in Eden Valley, site of the 2010 Rome, GA winter cyclocross series presented by Cycle Therapy, it was probably around 26 degrees with a wind chill of 17 degrees. The ground was frozen but the sun was shining. The pond was frozen over, but the heaters under the tent and in the RV were toasty.

The course included a short paved section, a short dirt steep run up the dam, lots of dirt track, some fields with chicanes, 3 dismounts and a nice section of whoops/bermed s curve to round it out. At first it was slow going because of the course but it loosened up over the hour to be a slushy mud in some places. I was using Challenge Fango 34's on box rims and they hooked up nicely.

Going for an hour in any condition is tough but you have to stay focused on the effort and course.

In the end, the soup was good and the race felty great. It is such a delight to still be racing cross in January.

I hope we have lots of like minded folks who want to get out of the base training rut, or who want to have a bunch of fun on a Sunday. Come on out, it is a cross celebration!