Saturday, December 31, 2005


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
md science center

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Let my inspiration flow

Somewhere in France

The last part of the Col du Glandon climb

Inspiration, move me brightly
light the song with sense and color,
hold away despair
More than this I will not ask
faced with mysteries dark and vast
statements just seem vain at last
some rise, some fall, some climb
to get to Terrapin

Waterfall shadow

Waterfall shadow
Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
I was experimenting with different shutter speeds on the new camera and got this cool effect with the water pouring over the dam in Dickeyville, MD.


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
The last shave had been Thursday, December 8 in Providence, RI. After ~3 weeks the stubble was getting to be a pain in the ass so I cleaned it up. With my next race months away there's no frickin reason to shave the legs other than the fact that it feels good and makes me feel fast while I'm doing sloooooooow base miles.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

First Christmas

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
After a few minutes of wondering what was going on Thor got into the spirit and had fun playing with the wrapping paper and his new wiffle balls. We'll bust out his new bath toys and bubbles later.

He digs his new chair, but he hasn't quite realized that if he lunges forward he'll face plant so we're staying close by until he learns that concept.

Next Christmas there should be a tricycle under the tree. Gotta start 'em young!

Joyeux Noel

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
Our 8 month old Christmas gift is enjoying himself this morning.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

The euros have a lot of big 'cross races around Christmas and New Year's. That would be cool, but I'm enjoying taking 'er easy for a while. Mel & I got out on the mtb's for a couple of hours yesterday. The trails were either dry & fast or covered in ice depending on which way they were facing. We ran low pressure on the tires and enjoyed the ride. We had to walk a few spots where there was zero traction and a crash was assured. It felt good to get back out on the bike for a mellow ride in the woods.

That's enough bike talk for now...

Eat, Drink, & Have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Aubisque horse

Aubisque horse
Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
Here's one of the horses hanging out on the side of the road on the col d'Aubisque.

It was a foggy day meaning that you could just about smell the critters that had wandered onto the road before you could see them.

I did alright until I almost wiped out spectacularly on the valley road while taking off my rain cape. The jacket got stuck and I freaked when I saw a truck approaching on the narrow road. I came close to eating it, but somehow corrected it. That would have been the end of the trip.

Good times.

Dreaming of mountains

Aubisque shrouded in fog (2003)

This is one of the tunnels coming off the col d'Aubisque in the Pyrenees.
The road is narrow.
There are random goats and horses wandering about.
The guardrail is pretty useless.
And instead of a shoulder there's just a lot of exposure.

It's a hell of a climb and a white knuckle descent.

This is the type of image and memory that my mind drifts back to this time of year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Natz videos and thinking about 2006

Henry Jurenka shot some fantastic video footage at 'cross natz.

Here is a link to his videos of the 35-39 race on Friday. They convey the intensity & harshness of the weather. The weather and race were epic. I'm glad that someone was there to document the event.

Thanks Henry!

I've been enjoying time off the bike and time eating and drinking a beer or two. It feels good to let the training go and relax without feeling stressed about it. I'm starting to get the itch to get back out and ride...maybe this weekend. It'll be easy, fun rides for a while with a lot of time on the SS mtb and fixie on the road.

Next season will see me more focused on the mountain bike and 'cross. I've done a handful of mtb races in the past and never gotten any decent results, but my fitness is much improved since then. I'll be doing some XC Sport races and perhaps some SS. We're also looking at doing 12 hours of Lodi Farms, 24 hours of Big Bear and either the Wilderness 101 or Shenandoah Mountain 100. All that will be for fun and pride...and the camping.

Once again cyclocross will be the focus of the racing season. I felt good this year, but my racing time was limited. I'm planning on hitting most of the MAC races next year, either in the Masters or B classes. I'll have to think about that one. The Masters race earlier, which would get me home sooner (though I enjoy hanging out at the races all day when I can). The racing will be tough and the fields large in both.

It'll be all good either way. I just enjoy riding and racing my bike. Results are nice when the happen, but the experience is rewarding enough.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

i like books

i like books
Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
I like books...they're delicious.


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
Thor after a nice soak in the tub contemplating how much of a fuss he's going to whip up before going to bed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Natz Race Report

'Cross Nationals 35-39 Race
Friday, December 9, 2005

I don't think I can fully capture how extreme the conditions were at this race, but I'll attempt to describe the day from my perspective.

I awoke to heavy snow out the window ensuring that the course we had pre-ridden the day before would be completely different for our race. I grabbed a huge breakfast with Sean, Phil, and Chris at a diner around the corner. Blueberry pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and OJ would provide the fuel necessary to drive the engine and keep the heater going. Those guys were all doing the 30-34 race after mine, but they were cool enough to give me a ride to the park early.

Road conditions were shit and when we hit the interstate the snow changed over to rain making everything a slushy mess. Phil got us there safely and snagged a sweet parking spot just down the hill from the Alan team tent. I lugged my gear up to the tent and put on rain pants, rain cape, etc. for the warm-up. Thankfully the Gerlak's took care of my pit bike and delivered it right to the pits. That was a huge help.

After getting geared up I chugged an Extran to get a few more calories in my system since it was clear that I was going to need them. The wet and cold was sure to drain my energy quickly.

Once the 40-44 race/death march finished I hopped on the course in the blowing rain for one lap to check things out. It was a lot different from the prior day. In terms of surface there was a bit of everything: snow, ice, mud, ruts, leaves, and deep puddles. After letting more air out of my tires I started to get good traction and felt pretty comfortable on the course. Some of the short & steep ride up's from Thursday were now slippery mud run up's. That meant that there were 6 or 7 dismount and run sections per lap. This was good.

With all of the clothes on the cold was not bothering me, though my fingers were getting numb. Keeping the fingers warm and working was going to be a big challenge during the race. I opted to go with just a thin pair of full fingered gloves in hopes that I could keep enough circulation going to maintain some feeling in my digits. Thick gloves would just give me even less dexterity for shiting and braking.

I headed down to the line to begin staging. Riding around had been ok, but standing still in the cold pouring rain sucked royally. When we got the 5 minutes to go call I started to take clothes off. I would have liked to have waited until the last minute to strip down, but I had nobody to take my stuff so I had to tie it up in a grocery bag and stash it on the side of the road. With the rain pants and jacket off my core temperature dropped dramatically. I tried jumping up and down to keep warm, but it was no use in that wind and rain.

I lucked into a money spot on the front row because I was one of the first people to register. Did I belong on the front row? No...but I didn't make the rules. With 14 lanes across and a wide road there was plenty of room for racers to move up in a hurry.

The opening stretch of road was a mess as it was covered in snow, ice, and slush. There was one good line on the inside that had been cleared by the previous race. I was lined up on the outside in the slop.

Waiting for the start I was excited about the race, but nervous about the start. 100+ racers playing demolition derby on the snow and ice was not a comforting thought. Just prior to the whistle fatMarc let out a primal scream in the spirit Ric Flair. Good stuff! That broke the tension briefly and then we were off!

I got into the pedals cleanly and hauled ass up the road. Eventual winner Shannon Skerrit came screaming by me on the right and just lit it up. If I could have grabbed his wheel I would have, but he is at a different level. I was slipping a bit in the slop so I tried to work my way over into the clear lane. Guys were all over the place trying to move up before the turn onto the grass. My bars got hooked by somebody that gave me a body check in an effort to squeeze past. I got a foot out in time to tripod skid long enough to regain my balance and keep motoring. I didn't go down, but I lost a lot of speed and got passed by a ton of guys. Things slowed down in the first turn so I moved outside and hopped the curb.

That got me some daylight, but now I was in some deeper snow and slush in the grass, not the good line. I kept going and took the first dip into the candy bowl on the outside. It was chaos everywhere with bikes and bodies all over the place so I dismounted and hoofed it up onto the flat before remounting. Defending champ Richard Feldman was off his bike here fixing a dropped chain...bummer for him.

Onto the off-camber paralleling the start-finish it got crazy again. I took a nice shoulder from someone on the high line and was pushed to the bottom of the slope. I kept going, but lost more spots as we approached the u-turn by the pits. In the turn somebody decided to body surf the muddy snow and we came to a halt. I picked my way up against the fencing and got moving again.

Basically, my start sucked. By all rights I should have crashed at least twice in the opening minute, but I managed to stay on my bike. Plus, my fingers were numb within the first 100 meters. Once we got to the barriers things started to go my way. I passed a couple of guys over the planks and then found a clean outside line in the next dip as 4 guys came down trying to squeeze through on the inside. I got by them and kept going.

From then on I felt amazing. I was so focused on riding the course cleanly that I wasn't bothered by the cold, the wind, the ice, or the deep puddles. With each section I gained more confidence. I really felt in tune with the flow of the course and knew where I could open it up and where I needed to back it off. The tires hooked up on everything, the pedals cleared easily, and the bike handled like a dream. I was aware of the conditions and the other racers on the course, but I was really riding in a zone where all of that was far in the background.

I was riding my own race and each time I came upon another racer I would make the pass and keep going. Usually I'm looking over my shoulder, but that day I was only focused on catching and passing the next rider in front of me. I didn't have tremendous legs, but I wasn't making any mistakes and my transitions on and off the bike were smooth. My riding was efficient on a day when riding cleanly gained you a lot of time and places.

My fingers were frozen so shifting was very difficult and even holding onto the bars became a challenge, but it was all good. I kept it in a pretty big gear and only shifted a couple of times per lap. When I did shift I had to visually guide the finger to the lever and will it to move. It was an adventure.

As the conditions got worse I felt better, knowing that the weather was taking it's toll on the competition. I had visualized horrible conditions the day before and promised myself that I would keep going no matter what. I was prepared for the suffering. The weird thing is that I was actually having a freaking blast. I think I was smiling most of the second half of the race.

One part where I wasn't smiling was on the finishing road stretch. The wind and ice were pummeling me and making forward progress a real struggle. Tents were blown everywhere and the metal fencing lining the road had been knocked over by the gale force winds. The venue looked like a ghost town as most everyone had fled for shelter.

After crossing the line I started to realize how bad things had gotten. All of a sudden I realized how cold I was. My fingers wouldn't work and I was starting to shake. I made my way towards our tent, but I couldn't find our was gone courtesy of the wind. Thankfully, my teammates yelled at me from a minivan telling me to get inside. I dropped my bike and climbed into the driver's seat. Suzy and Morgan Gerlak were in there helping Auer thaw out.

Immediately my fingers were throbbing in pain as they thawed out. They assured me that the pain would subside in about 5 minutes, but that didn't help me much. I was practically screaming and on the verge of tears as the pain became worse.

As I wailed they helped me out of my soaking wet gear and into dry clothes. After a few minutes I was able to laugh, even as I continued to shiver and shake. We shared stories from the race as the blizzard raged outside coating our bikes in a thick layer of frozen muck.

157 people had registered, 115 had started, and only 68 had finished (43 on the lead lap). Kris had ridden to 11th place, just short of his goal of top 10, but still an impressive ride given the conditions. I ended up 35th...nothing too impressive, but after a horrible start I was very proud of my ride. I rode as aggressively as possible, didn't crash, and passed a lot of guys the last 3 laps. This was my first big race against a high quality national field and I learned a lot from the experience.

After I had thawed out I grabbed my frost covered bike and made my way down to Phil's car. Conditions were so bad that the final two races of the day were postponed until Saturday. Conditions were really that bad. I've heard many stories of hypothermia, frostbite, and overwhelmed medical personnel. It was rough. Phil drove us back to the hotel in horrendous traffic. The 3 mile trip took us over an hour. However, his heater was cranking and the stereo was working so we listened to tunes and shared a bag of Jelly Belly Sport Beans as we creeped along in the blizzard.

Later that evening I got the call that Thor had come down with the stomach flu that I had battled earlier in the week. I felt horrible that he was sick so I threw my crap in the suitcase and grabbed a cab for the airport. I was able to get on a 9pm flight home and walked in the door at 11. I was sorry to miss the B race and all of the festivities, but there was no way I could stay in Providence while my son was sick for the first time.

I'll be back next year with renewed confidence ready to race and party for the duration!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Natz #1

Yesterday I was able to eat 3 full meals...scratch that...I wasn't just ~able~ I was really and truly hungry. I was happy to welcome my stomach back from it's long and lonely journey.

The trip up was a breeze. I walked out of my front door at 8:15 this morning and landed in Providence at 10:15. There were 24 people on the flight so there was plenty of room to spread out.

It is cold as the proverbial miner's left nut up here. Today was sunny, but tomorrow the shit is hitting the fan. 100% chance of snow...6ish inches all coming down during the day (races). My first race (35-39) is tomorrow at 1:00pm so it should be epic.

We got over to the course a little before 2pm and saddled up. The course is pretty extreme. There are long stretches of road mixed up with very technical bits in the grass. There are two forced runs made of "stairs" thrown up on the slope and one forced run up a set of concrete stairs. There are a lot of little ups, downs, and off cambers. The snow and ice make it all treacherous.

The first lap was a little scary, but once I started trusting my tires to hook up I really started to enjoy the track. I did 6 laps checking out lines and getting a few efforts in. I started to get a good feel for the course and the flow, but tomorrow will be a lot different with fresh snow coming down and on the ground.

I'm all cleaned up now and starting to get hungry. Once everyone is washed up we're going to scout out a good dinner and then put our feet up. Tomorrow is going to be fun, but it's going to take a lot of energy, energy that I'm not sure I have after being so ill. I'll be on form mentally at least. I'm going to have to get myself super amped up to compete and give my best. This is the big show (for me at least) and the culmination of a fun season. I'm looking forward to lining up with 160! guys in my race and having some fun.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I ate breakfast today!

Hell yeah!

I ate breakfast today!

I've eaten very little since Friday and I'm down about 6 pounds.
That's great for getting ready for beach season, but it sucks the week of 'cross nationals.

So, I ate breakfast today and then not much else.
I'm going to try to eat a baked potato now even though I don't feel hungry at all.
I'm way past the whole getting ill part, but my appetite is gonzo.

Oh well, my body is weak, but my mind is strong.
Even in my depleted state I'm fired up about my first time racing Natz.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


My plan was to race both days this weekend at Fair Hill, but at about 11:30 Friday night I started to get sick. I spent all night puking and basically peeing out of my ass with diarhhea. Man, it sucked! I was so sore and achey that I couldn't get back to sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time.

On Saturday I was pretty much in bed all day and managed to get a couple of 1-2 hour naps in with the help of a heating pad, but I still could not get comfortable. By 5pm I tried to eat something and managed 1 bite of toast and three spoonfuls of soup. That's all I could handle.

Last night I actually slept really well until about 4:30, when my back started to get sore from being in bed so much.
I'm going to try to eat something now to supplement my diet of Gatorade.

The last time I got this I turned it into a nice weight loss, but that's not what I need just days before Nationals, but I'll rally.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Reston Cross

Capital 'Cross Classic

Lake Fairfax Park
Reston, VA

My very first 'cross race was at Reston two year ago. It's always a fun course & a hard race...and that's just what I was looking for last weekend.

I like courses that emphasize bike handling ability.
There were a few technical sections mixed in with some longer power stretches.
I could have used another dismount, but I can’t complain about the course.
It was fast and flowed, but was not easy, and most definitely not a grass crit.

I did a few recon laps and practiced the trickier turns over and over. I got them pretty well dialed in and felt confident about my lines and speed.

I got a good spot in the scrum and started the race pretty well. After a few turns I found myself at the front of the group that had not made the front of the race. The gap wasn’t much and I thought about burying myself to get on the tail of the lead group, but that would have blown me up pretty quickly.

Instead I rode my own pace, pretty much at my sustainable limit, and let a handful of guys go as they jumped to bridge the gap. The first technical section strung out the field and opened more gaps.

For the next few laps I kept the effort steady and held my position, just behind a couple of guys and just in front of Dave Fahnestock and Wayne Scott. I tried to keep my focus in front of me and eventually I caught up to Montana Norvell as we headed up the road to finish a lap.

When we hit the grass I passed him and just tried to up the pace a little. I got a little gap and once we hit the next technical section it opened up even more as I focused on riding cleanly through the slick stuff.

That was the story of the rest of the race. Each lap I tried to go just a little bit harder on the power sections and kept it smooth in the technical sections. I was hurting, but my confidence was growing as I seemed to be getting stronger as the race progressed.

Starting the last lap I was getting closer to my teammate Dusty Labarr. With encouragement from Georgia Gould…who was yelling at me to catch Dusty and make him suffer 8-) I finally closed the gap just before the short & steep little muddy rise. When we hit the road I started sprinting and we went shoulder to shoulder all the way to the line. It was close, but I got him by just inches.

While it was only for 19th place it was still a lot of fun and good racing. As I’ve said before one of the beauties of ‘cross is that no matter where you are in the field you’re still doing some pretty intense racing. The encouraging thing that I took away from Reston was that I got stronger late in the race. Normally I start strong and just try to hang on, but on Sunday I saved just a little bit for the last few laps.

So that’s two 19th places in MAC races this season. Next year the plan is to do all the MAC races in order to score some early points and get call-up’s. I like the scrum and all, but it makes it a lot harder to get clear of the fray and get a result.

This weekend is the Fair Hill double. I’m looking forward to the races, but my real focus is the following weekend at Nationals. At Fair Hill I’ll look to get in a couple of solid rides, but not go too deep. I want to make sure that I get fully recovered and am fresh for Providence.