Friday, September 30, 2011

The Magic of Bikes

Interesting video on how bikes steer themselves. Huh? Have you ever ghost ridden a bike?

You know, pushed it off on its own. They roll quite far without a rider.
And you thought you were the star of the operation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Seattle Cyclocross Series - Race # 1

September appears to be Cyclocross-O-Rama here at Yo Eddy !! Blog-O-Rama. Life has been a blur of work, bike commuting, kids homework, and 'cross on weekends. Zippity Do Dah. Get me off this crazy thing.

To continue the trend of race reports that all sound basically the same, let's add another to the pile, shall we?

Okay, this one slightly different, since it's the first race of the Seattle Cyclocross Series. First of the season and first for us, since we've only hit the MFG series in the past and present. So now Racer Boy Ian is campaigning two 'cross series at once. The promoters are smart enough to not have events overlap. That means the availability of races almost every weekend, up until December. Cool, eh?

I'm electing to skip the Seattle series myself, since a USA Cycling license is required and that I do not have. Racer Boy Ian does have a license and his team requests participation in this series, so he's gonna roll with his teammates.

Sure, I could pick up a one day license at a few Seattle series events, but probably won't. I'm just gonna continue to embarrass myself in the MFG series, since scoring close to DFL in one series is enough for me. Plus, driving people to 'cross races and not racing yourself is kind of fun. A lot like driving someone for a dentist appointment...

While you're in there getting drilled - I'll be out here in the lobby flipping through magazines. Let me know when you're done.

Back to racing. This event was held at Marymoor Park in Redmond, on the grass surrounding the velodrome. Yes, we have a velodrome, along with tons of 'cross racing, and lots of other bike related fun. If your area is not as hip as ours, feel free to hate us.

The course was fairly long, longer the the two previous MFG events we sampled this season. It also sported two barrier sections. Other difference was electronic scoring, complete with a chip that attaches to your helmet. Race results were posted very quickly. Excellent.

Since I didn't compete (if you can call it that), had time to take a few pictures. We didn't stay for the whole day though, just basically for the junior races. Mom and sister Amy also put in some spectator time to cheer Ian on and even ring cowbells. We didn't wanna kill 'em with too many hours of standing around a 'cross course. If we make this enjoyable, maybe they'll even do it again.

A smattering of photos and rambling comments...

Ella, JL Velo teammate, fuels up. Sure, she looks cute - just try passing her. She placed 3rd in the Junior Girls 13-14 class. Great job. Always cool to see girls racing, we need more of 'em.

Some of the junior boys warming up. Besides racing in their respective junior classes, some also raced earlier in the Cat 4 Mens class, giving the adults a run for their money. Some of these young kids are pretty fast.

I've said it many times. 'Cross is fantastic for kids.

Fast women sprinting for the finish.

Ian and teammates wait for the start. Blue skies included at no extra charge.

Official USA Cycling type, informs the juniors two laps for this race. Fantastic to witness the increasing number of kids at 'cross events.

Round 'N' Round. Juniors hit the course.

Anders, JL Velo teammate, flying through the barriers. Eventually placed 6th in Junior Boys 15-16. Nice job.

Where did he come from?

You're not passing me..

Ian hits the barriers in front of a fellow teammate, pulling off a 7th place in the Junior Boys 13-14 class. Great job and looking good.

More Ian action. He's getting faster and feeling more comfortable running the barriers. These kids getting this kind of experience, can only imagine what a few more years will bring.

Smile, you're on Candid Camera.

Course featured a lot of Tight 'N' Twisty turns. Ian demonstrates.

JL Velo junior, part of a Rad Racing sandwich.

Teammate Jarrett put up an awesome battle against Scott, from Old Town Bicycle. It went right down to the last barrier section and sprint for the line, Scott taking it by a bike length. These kids were flying. Fun to watch, with Scott grabbing 1st place for Junior Boys 13-14.

Ian, running the barriers and gauntlet of spectators.

Teammate Keland styling for the camera and Porta Potties...

Race Action-O-Plenty.

I don't think you wanna mess with this dude...

Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there - jumping barriers with you...

Rolled tire equals crash. Bike landing upside down for added bonus.

Racing Audis...

Styling 'N' Flying.

We ended the day with a nice family lunch at our favorite Mexican place. Giant pork burrito for me, thank you. Shared fried ice cream for dessert. Not too shabby of a Sunday if I may say so.

Until next time...

Friday, September 23, 2011

MFG Cyclocross Series - Race # 2

Last Sunday we hit the second race in the MFG series. I've been running late posting on each race - more on that later. In any event, I'm sure my whopping readership (ha!) wasn't exactly staring at the screen waiting with baited breath...

This race titled the Rapha-Focus Grand Prix to reflect the sponsors, since each MFG event runs with different folks getting the title spot. Location was Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. For all you non Pacific Northwestern types, we're talking Washington. Ian and I have raced on this course in the past. It's dead flat with lots of grass, a little pavement, and a long section of sand for your running pleasure. Oh yeah, and one set of barriers added to the mix.

Even though I officially suck, I've decided to race every MFG event in the series, or at least that's the plan. Racer Boy Ian is there flying his team colors, so Bike Geek Dad might as well go for it. I felt like crap signing up that morning with a bit of a headache and upset stomach. I said screw it - I'm here - let's do it.

After riding around to warm up, I felt a lot better. Fun course, minus the sand section, runner I am not. There's actually two sand sections, broken up with a short section of pavement. First section I could ride through, though not really going any faster then people running. I'd still rather ride then run. Second section, no way, off the bike and slog through the deep sand.

I line up with the Cat 4 Master Men 45+ dudes, mixed in with other classes: Cat 4 Master Men 35+, 55+ and Women. It's a big group and off we go. I barely qualify as a racer to begin with, plus feel crappy on top of it. I'm quickly dropped and hanging off the back. Yes, let the fun begin.

Soon, the faster 55+ dudes are passing. They may be old, but are plenty quick. At one point, Scott, one of the Old Guy Ride regulars, passes me. He yells to latch on as he goes by. I wish. Then the even faster Cat 4 Women are buzzing past. Girl racers rock. Really, they do, and don't get enough credit.

I settle into a rhythm and do what I can. Thoughts float between wanting to quit (no way) and thinking I'm feeling okay. Except for one lap, I do ride the first sand section each go around. BFD, but still satisfying none the less. The second sand section finds me barely jogging though at a snail's pace, every lap. Joy.

I catch up to a few of the slower 45+ guys and eventually pass one, so I'm no longer in last place. I vow to not come in last, even if it kills me. I crank it up a bit and notice I'm pulling away. Yabba Dabba Do.

Cool thing about racing is that it's all relative, whether you're battling for first or last place. You're still pushing yourself and experiencing the speed and drama, just at a slower pace. Some may think why bother dueling for last place? The only answer for that lives in your own head. And if you've never raced yourself, I invite you to sign on the dotted line and give it a go.

Maintaining my esteemed next to last position, I cross the finish line with some confusion - as the race leaders cross at the same time - since I've been lapped. Am I done, or I'm supposed do another lap? I ask another racer while slowing down, he says do one more. I take off for another lap and cross the finish line once again, though not needed. A bonus lap for no reason, better safe then scoring a DNF. So chalk up a 46th place finish out of 47 racers in my class. Pretty shabby, but I'll take it.

I also recently learned the race leader is defined as the fastest racer for that race, not the individual class. So the faster 35+ men tend to kick everyone's ass. Now I feel slightly less lame about being lapped. For my crappy racing ability, my goal is to finish mid pack of my 45+ class and not be lapped by the race leaders. If I ever pull that off, I'd be happy as a pig in poo poo.

Ian raced later in the day and put in a solid ride, placing 8th out of 12 kids in the Junior Boys 13 - 14 class. He fell twice heading into the barrier section, SPD pedals jammed up with wet sand and couldn't unclip in time. Ouch.

He did look pro out there in his full team kit. The boys in this age class are pretty fast, including his fellow JL Velo teammates who scored 1st - 3rd place. A great showing. Seeing all these kids, and the numbers continue to increase, race - is fantastic.

As mentioned earlier - late blog posts - can be traced to goofing around shooting pictures with the new digital SLR. In the past, I'd grab a few pics with the old Point 'N' Shoot camera, then use the least crappiest shots for the blog. With the new camera, I'm shooting a few hundred to a few thousand shots per race. I shot 3000+ pictures at this event. That'll happen when using burst mode and blowing off a few frames per second. Crazy town and quite a bit of time going through 'em all later. It's a blast though and I'm digging it, plus learning a lot.

In no particular order, a few examples...

With some big name racers hanging around from the previous day StarCrossed event, this race featured an Elite class race late in the day. Here Bart Wellens, Belgian 'cross pro takes the win.

Mountain bike and 'cross hero, Todd Wells, wheelie drops into the sand section. Watching this level of racers ride is like visiting a different universe. The speed through the barriers is insane.

Belgium pro Rob Peeters puts down the power. Ever see a 'cross bike throw a roost? These guys have some serious horsepower.

Dive bomb into the sand.

On the shores of Lake Sammamish. I played around with blurring things a bit. Or maybe it's just the speed...

Tattoos 'N' Cross. Perfect together.

Todd Wells at the start line. Cool thing about bike races is the accessibility of it all, you're just inches from the action.

Elite Women cranking it out. Very fast girls. Katerina Nash took the win for the day.

Cowbells and heckling, all part of the 'cross culture.

Houston, we have lift off. This wooden fly over was only used for the Elite level races. This pic also looked cooler converted to black and white - now sitting on another computer, along with a nice shot of Katerina Nash crossing the line. Too much to do, too little time...

More Elite Women action. I dig this picture. Not bad, eh?

Ian plays JL Velo model, without even knowing it.

Ghost rider.

Jarrett, Ian's teammate and winner of the Junior Boys 13-14 race. One fast and very friendly kid.

Anyone close?

Ian battling some traffic heading into the barrier section. It's awesome watching your kids race.

Another JL Velo junior going fast and looking good.

Teammate Henry coming out of the barriers, heading to a 3rd place finish for the day.

More JL Velo junior action.

Pro photographer on right can actually distort reality with that zoom lens...

Ian carves a line, eyes focused on the next corner. Racing 101.

Teammate Mike does a little grass cutting.

This dude was a crowd favorite racing in the Beginner Men class. Great stuff!

Start line goofing around. These are great kids.

Ian's race face. Pro looking 12 year old, no?

This kid is stylin' for sure.

Checking the results.

The MFG command center.

Synchronized barrier jumping.

It ain't 'cross without a little blood.

In the right hands, bikes can be used as weapons.

Pain is in the face of the beholder.

Crankin' it...

Side by side.

Neck and neck.

Cool Moots, complete with disk brakes.

Go, go, go !!

'Cross girls rock.


My Ibis Hakkalugi at rest.

Scott, who scored a 10th place in the Cat 4 Master Mens 55+ class, gives Ian some pre-race advice. Cyclocross rocks for young and old alike.

With that, not a bad way to end this post. Until next time...