Tuesday, March 13, 2007


On Sunday I did Banana Belt #2 to try and get in some serious basemiles. We did the first 600 meters at a real relaxed pace, keeping it zone one and all. Later, there was a spell where CMG was shutting it down when they had a break they liked. It lasted about 1.2 miles. So, that’s nearly 2 basemiles. I should be good for the year.

The other 62 miles were a blast. Attacks and bridges and counters and elbows and grit and all sorts of things that make this game so very, very sweet. I know I should be taking it easy, but, well… I feel so sorry for the parallel universe Markwelders that decided to skip these early races (I try not to even think about the poor bastards that didn’t buy that old Colnago in Santa Cruz six years ago and try cycling--they’re probably all dead by now, anyways.). Speaking of dead, I crossed wheels going like 27 (totally my fault) and still can’t believe my recovery. I won’t even go into it, but I will say that I stand by my choice of wheels. I can’t believe humans can make something strong enough to have not shattered right then.

As far as the race played out… we did 6 laps, 64 miles at 24.5 mph. We drilled the climb after the dam every time but the second. We didn’t get to have hotspots because we let three people go. There was a split up the climb this one time, and fearing a repeat of last week, I gave all over the top (but of course took a breath to whoop “Playman!” on our way past her group—it turned out to be a brilliant team tactic—she totally won), bridged a bit and I actually made the split. And then the severed peloton healed and all that pain was for naught. I guess any split I can hang with is probably going nowhere. There was a late second group of three that I had to (I was there alone) sit, watch and hope the other teams brought back. It was looking dubious, and then Tonkin pulled through. Break over. In the sprint, I tried to follow the right guys, went late, got bumped pretty hard, cramped in both quads and still got pretty near the front by the line. That felt good. When it was all said and done my finish was called “a 6th”. Eff yeah. I know it’s road racing, and if you didn’t win then you lost, but still… I was done for the day before a lot of really fast guys. I was smilin’. Heck, I still am… even though it’s 2 am, I work tomorrow and I just ate a whole thing of Soy Dream (and some candy beans) while typing this steaming pile.

Billseye pix:

This season: Alone, surrounded by green-tinted hamburglars.
FYI: How it’s done.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Oh, yeah! Blog! Um, so far...

So, three weeks ago, my season didn’t really kick off. The first race was rolling into some faraway Oregon town, I had just begun my base miles and the last race of my coming season was still about, oh, one year away. But, summummabitch, though; racing is where the party’s at. You know that, c'mon. I mean, I could stay home and ride by myself while my new team roadtripped it to the race, or I could get in the van and go and… um, ride by myself.

We strapped it on, lined up and started off down the road at a medium pace. I was shivering at about mile 2 when it started to rain (in February? in Oregon? WTF, right?) and I drifted off the back a little to pull on my new Bellwether Screamin’ Meenie. Right then the first attack jumped and my last contact with the pack had already come and gone. Pop! I hammered for a while with one arm in my jacket and my right half finally started to get warm, but they were long gone. 48 miles by myself. Hilarious. I guess some guy won and a bunch more people tried to race him and they did okay but didn’t win or something. I dunno.

Last week was the first Banana Belt and again I couldn’t resist the call of the dialed. Sheeet, I even bought a series pass. Hell yeah. Base miles? Going slow all day? What the hell kinda bull is that? If you wanna go fast, practice going fast, right? So, this time I hit the trainer for about 10 minutes before the race. Still didn’t get it right, but it was a move in the right direction. It gave me the legs to cover or get into a couple weak ass break attempts early in the race. Then the good one happened and I was too tapped to do anything. A bunch of fast ass dudes (the CMG team was most of them) headed up the road and ended the race for the rest of us. I floundered around all day trying to get into anything that might go after them (yeah right!) and then did a little practice sprint at the end. The good news was that I wasn’t too soft to at least ride with other people this time. The better news was that I had a great time. Got to roll smooth on my fresh tubies on my fresh wheels on my fresh bike, got to hit my legs a couple (tens of) times and, on a few occasions, got to get a taste of (Momma! I'm...) going fast. The weather was perfect and after the race the parking lot was live. I ate some Hawaiian bento, picked a couple of brains for some scraps of racing wisdom, partied with EP for a spell while she marshaled the afternoon course and then hit the road for some, yes, base miles. And, yes, yes, yes… a couple of city limit signs.

Here's my well-fed self in my new gang's colors.

Friday, December 01, 2006

2006 Season

My goals for the year, as stated in January:
-Get upgraded to a Cat 2 on the road
-Try track racing
-Try racing cyclocross A’s

Um, yep.

Check, check and check. I kind of plowed right through these goals like my brakes weren’t working. I don’t know how it happened. My two previous seasons of racing have tapered off and disintegrated in May when school has gotten out and I’ve found myself without friends to race and train with. It had me thinking that spring racing was all my body could handle. But, this year I kind of just kept going. That 2 upgrade happened pretty fast… and then my season started.

In pretty much my first races as a Cat 2, I got 6th overall in the Tabor Series in the Pro/1/2’s. That was carazy. Meanwhile, out at Alpenrose, I got upgraded from a Cat 5 to a Cat 2 in like 6 days of racing over the course of 6 weeks, en route to an eventual 6th place in the State Champs points race to end the track season. It’s just wild. Then, in my sophomore year of cyclocross, I got a couple podiums at the smaller races while tying for 11th overall in the Crusade. Geez. Didn’t see that one coming. This isn’t boasting: I’m as surprised as you are.

So, the real question is: what’m I gonna do next season? Yikes. Can you say “Expectations”? T’hell with it. I’ma go fast. As well as this season may have gone, there’s still plenty of room for improvement, and a lot of local racers on top of me. Hopefully a couple of my teammates will get upgraded to 2’s as fast as I bet they will; and we’ll have a team for me to work for on the road. Then track’ll start and I’m gonna try to be a little more like the points racers that this year I just plain couldn’t touch (Taylor, Molly, Mikkel, Daniel, etc…). Then ‘cross will roll around and whatever’s gonna happen will just happen. Then I’ll write a “2007 Season” blog entry. Maybe I’ll even reflect on this one.

Thanks to everyone who helped me train, get to races and gave me shoulder pats. Special thanks to Molly who kept me on working gear, and moreover, gave me a great reason to keep chomping the bit through summer and fall (now go kill it in Belgium!). I’m out. Up Velo!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Non-Crusade Crusade Race 11/19

So, this was an unusual event, because the big national series was in town and sort of took over our sweet little thing we’ve got going here in PDX--the Cross Crusade. I could have raced for a couple minutes with the best in the nation (one minute at the beginning and another when they lap me) if I’d wanted to shell out $150 bucks for an international racing license… nuff said.

Instead, I raced the single speed category. My sweet-ass CCX bike became, overnight, a sweet-ass singlespeed CCX bike when Bene lent me his eccentric hub… yeah, weird bike stuff… forget I mentioned it. It suffices to say that it’s sweet. And, the race was a breath of wet air: I finally got to race with teammates that have basically been playing a different sport all season. Of particular note is VS’s singlespeed top gun, Tommy, who, (yes, yes, yes!) had trouble keeping up with me (but not much). That felt real nice, not because I’m dying to beat my friend, but because homeboy can ride, and it meant that I had to be doing well. But that was about all that felt nice this fine day. Singlespeed is brutal. You can’t go fast on the smooth stuff and you can’t even ride the rough stuff. Major technique is the game. The course was a bog and I barely rode that sweet-ass bike at all. I ran every sharp corner, incline and obstacle. Converse to my usual “geared” practice: it was the time spent running that felt like a break. Crazy. I hate running. I’ve never kept that fact a secret. But it was all fun and games. For real. It was super fun.

The real event was to just watch the USGP races (and the hot tub). Epic. They rode so fast and so smooth for so long. I’ve got much work to do next season if I want a piece of that action.

Coming soon: season wrap-up. It's done. It's over.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Crusade #6 (I guess I’ll skip #5)

Wow I’m blogging the night of a race. Damn, I must be in a good mood. Yeah, I am. Today not only went well (7th place) but also, it was super fun. I was just really enjoying racing my bike.

Okay, needs mentioning: Veloshop has lost its freaking mind. We’re huge, we’re pink and oh shit we’re loud. It’s crazy to be out there racing by you freaks. At Horning’s Hideout, Anderson yells at me “Don’t spoil Christmas, Mark!” and has me slowing to look back and ask “Wha?” At Barton Park, Tommy screams “Blackwelder I want to have your children!” and cracks my shit up. Giving that guy coffee is like adding sugar to syrup. Today I have Robin and a pack of maniacs running all around me down the course prodding me to go faster, faster, faster. And that’s just isolated incidents. The whole team is amazing. You people blow my mind. You’re the air in my tires.

Yeah, things were sweet. I got called up for my 13th place series standing and it put me in a good mood right away. I just eat up stuff like that. Oh, and check this crap out! (click on Next Issue) Wow! How’d that happen???? And do I always make that face? I just wish it showed me on my Lapierre. I hadn't heard about it and got to the race and everyone was calling me Poster Child and Rockstar and stuff. I thought they were putting me on.

I can’t believe I woke up in Vegas this morning. Cab to the airport, plane ride, cab to SE, grab my stuff and get to the race. Seemed like a recipe for disaster… but nope. I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Crusades #3 and #4 October

Time is a problem. So is motivation. So blogging is on the back burner, left on all night, only to be discovered in the hungover morning all burnt up and subsequently soaked in dish soap all day. But here’s the blackened pot:

Cross season is tough. Saturday night I had to pimp my Franch Bicycle, just like every Saturday, but, in addition, had to last-minute my Spock costume so I wouldn’t be some Boo-Humbugger not dressed up for Flying M Ranch Halloween Cross (damn straight I’m calling you out, Cameron. Yeah, you beat Decker and everyone but Skerry; but dressing up like Molly Cameron doesn’t cut it when you’re lucky enough to actually be Molly Cameron). So I wrecked my apartment major whilst gluing, painting and papier mache’ing all my shit; got some scant shut-eye and got to the race (thanks, Bene).

Got there and started stressing just like I did last week. Made a conscious decision to say “F*ck It” (personal mantra) and to just have fun. I downed sumberse and watched the B’s and SS’s w/ Duncan (who’s just that pleasant kind of crazy… you know, doesn’t make you feel weird or in danger or anything- he’s just a little insane… and it’s nice) and took some terrible photos. Then, I wasted some precious race-watching time warming up for my own race. Missed the women’s race, which I regret deeply, only to get into my race to find that points were just plain out of reach with a climb like that thrown into the course. Every time I ascended it, 2 dudes would rocket past me never to be seen again. I just can’t do that sh!@t right now. No legs. I was really happy to see, however, that, as long as I was going backwards, one of the racers passing my fat ass was our own Shunter, who straight stripped that climb out its Underoos and got his best result of the cx season (until next week). I’ve been waiting for that sh!t all season. It’s November and Shunter’s in the hizzy. I’s got a new team leader. Pink and black, yo. Um, I mean pink and, um, white.

Oh yeah, last week… whahappened? Um, nothing, except I sacked up the short, steep climb enough times in a row to roll in and get 10th. I got all my crashes out of the way in my pre-rides. Not crashes like, dabbing, mild crashes, either. All three were I’mgoingfastandwherethehellismybikewhenIneedit full-impact crashes. There’s nothing else like that for your pre-race confidence. But then the race went down and I stayed upright (on my pit wheels), and rode pretty strong, so it’s all-good in the hood. I was in the points and was feeling fine about being MB.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cross Crusade #2 10/15/06

Though my effort at Crusade #1 could hardly be described as some kind of masterpiece, I'll still go ahead and call my race today "my first really bad ride of the season". I have a cold, my head wasn't in the game and my equipment was poorly prepared.

Before the race even started, my rear derailleur wasn't moving like it should, and I just sort of let it go, like, even if I fixed it then, it would jam again, so why bother? Nice attitude, eh? The only thing that went right on the day was my good start: after half a lap I was near the front and going fast. I was on Cameron's wheel and feeling like I could have a good race. Then I rolled my front tire off. This immediately caused the really disasterous mechanical on the day: broken heart. I went from gung-ho to so-low in zero seconds flat. I ran it for a moment, then remembered that I could put it back on. I put it back on and pitted. Got back out on my front spare, it was flat and it was rolling off every other corner. Pitted again. Stole Bene's front wheel (I think) (thanks Mike) and got back in... basically in training ride mode. Started to feel better about at least trying to finish the race fast, even if it's for last place; and then I rolled off my rear tubular. Sigh. Put it back on, pitted for the third time in 3 laps, got my rear clincher and just rode the course until they told me to stop. Oh, and the whole time I was in single-speed mode since my derailleur wouldn't move. Shite. Worst race ever. 'Thanks' and 'sorry to disappoint you' to everone that was cheering me on. Man, I was just not myself today. Sorry. Even just trying to talk to people afterwards, I would make error after error. I'll try to snap out of it by next weekend. Anyone know a cheap sports psychologist? Anybody have time to give me a swift kick in the ass?

Lapierre X-Lite FDJ Cyclocross

It is so choice.

If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.