Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Parade

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom

Firefighter Thor

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom
Happy Halloween

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hay ride

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom
nice day for a hay ride

Batteries on the charger

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom
No racing for me this weekend but it was a good one nonetheless. Fun rides, good friends, tasty food, and cold beer...and most importantly, family.

On Saturday I headed out on the fixie to put in some work that will hopefully help me out over the next couple of weekends. Between the wind, the hills, and the no-coasting I made myself suffer. It felt good.

That evening we met Team Poz (Jon & Tracy) at Frisco for a feast of chips, guac, salsa, black beans, mahi-mahi tacos, and tasty beers. Thor was in usual form putting away an epic amount of guac and black beans. He was also parroting back our descriptions of past mountain bike crashes. Good times were had by all.

Sunday we had a fun ride with Mel's girly friends Patti and Tracy. It was mostly social, but the pace was steady and we had a few frisky moments that allowed me to get in the sprints that I had skipped earlier in the week. After putting in some windy miles we stopped at Bean Hollow in EC for much needed fuel in the form of delicious coffee and muffins.

On the way home we ran into endurance mountain bike kahuna and the nicest pro cyclist you could hope to meet, Trek/VW Pro Chris E. (pictured at right). He was out for a mellow road ride around the EC hills on his mountain bike.

His season is done so he was nice enough to ride with us and discuss domestic things like kids and new homes. We also talked about the "No Dab" trail from 24 Solo...the one that is more hike-a-bike than ride-a-bike (and that's going downhill!). Of course, he can ride the entire thing sans dabs (thus the name). He gets a lot of praise for his endurance and meticulous preparation, but he's also an incredible technical mountain biker.

One thing I'm trying to get more consistent about is stretching and massage. I am not a good stretcher. This weekend I was excited when I was actually able to touch my toes. It's that bad. I'm going to do my best to make daily stretching a habit. I don't know if it makes me any faster, but it can't hurt.

For massage, I can't afford to get real massage so I rely on The Stick. It's cheap and kinda weird, but it does a good job of working out the kinks in the legs and lower back.

Now I'm going to rest up and recover this week in hopes of fresh legs for the Fair Hill race on Saturday. After getting spanked at Granogue I need to get my mojo back.

On Sunday afternoon Thor and I headed over to Rockburn for the haunted hay ride. He's been talking about this for over a week. Little boys are instinctually into tractors. I think it's programmed into their DNA. Anyway, we had an awesome time doing the hay ride, climbing on the tractors, and doing a ton of runs down the slides in the playground.

Nice weekend!

Monday, October 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by camp9
cat 2/3 (killer B's)

Beautiful day of racing and spectating.
Unfortunately I pretty much sucked.
Flat legs, sore back, no fire in the belly.
I should have accepted that cup of coffee that E-town offered.

On the bright side I rode a clean race on a very technical course.
But good bike driving isn't enough on that track against that field.
Granogue is not a course where you can fake your way through.
There's just too much climbing and too little recovery.
After a lap I was thinking.
And thinking is bad in a 'cross race.

I'm glad I kept fighting,
Even though I didn't have much to fight with.
27th place
Two spots out of the points
So it's back to scrumming.

At this point I'm just happy that I can get out there and race my bike from time to time.

photo courtesy of Rob Campbell

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The boys

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom

Ouch. boo boo.

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom
Who the heck goes over the bars on an uphill?
Umm, that would be me.

While doing some short sprints last night on the mountain bike I hit a rock while jamming an uphill. I actually saw the rock and thought my front wheel was going to clear it, but my timing was a little off.

I was out of the saddle in mid-sprint so when my tire kissed the rock I was immediately launched forward.

My hand took the impact as the meaty part of my palm slammed a pointy rock. That sucked. My immediate thought was 'broken hand, no Granogue, boo hoo'.

After some ice and a bunch of ibuprofen it's feeling better...bruised as hell, but not broken. I think that by Saturday I'll be able to hold onto the handlebar but it'll still be sore. Ok, enough whining. Time to HTFU!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

date ride

Some people get a babysitter so they can go out to dinner.
We get a babysitter so that we can ride.
I wouldn't have it any other way.

Cool temps, perfect trails, and the beginnings of Fall foliage made for a really nice ride.
I was expecting a mellow stroll through the woods, but we hit some of the bigger climbs in the Park, including this one that runs from the river up past the Convent. It's steep, somewhat rocky, and long (by Patapsco standards).

6 weeks out from giving birth and Melanie's legs are coming back quickly. I was proud of how well she rode. We had an awesome ride and some quality trail time together. I'm a lucky man.

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom

no dab

Yesterday I rode the 'no dab' trail that is featured in 24 Solo. The skinny that Eatough and Poz session is on this one. Forget about 'no dab'...I did more walking than riding! This photo shows one of the little rocky drops that I did ride, but there are sections of this 'trail' that are no more than boulder fields in the middle of a stream bed. It's a stunningly beautiful descent down a gulley to the Patapsco River. This is probably the most technically demanding trail in the Park. I'd love to see someone ride the entire thing, but it's way out of my league. Link

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tunnel slide

We've stepped up to the big slides. We hit this one at least 20 times. I'm a big fan of the playground.

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom


Rockburn Park is getting ready for the haunted hay rides the next two weekends.
We took the tractors for a quick test drive.

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom

the fam


Life is settling down on the home front. Sleep is still in short supply, but we've gotten into a pretty good rhythm. Continuity has started to edge out chaos. There's still plenty of excitement so don't get the idea that life is boring with 2 kids in diapers!

Our move out of the city is really helping us handle everything. Mel and I both love (NEED) to ride and being able to roll down the driveway to the trails in 2 minutes makes it pretty easy for us to get rides in without taking away much family time.

No racing this weekend. My racing this season is about finding balance. With a newborn at home it's not possible to spend most every weekend away. I wouldn't enjoy it and I'd burn out pretty quickly. With a good balance of family and racing I can do my races and enjoy them knowing that I'll still have a lot of quality time at home being a Dad.

So I'm not racing, but I will be trying to ramp it up for next weekend's biggie at Granogue. Hitting it hard on the mtb seems to be working for me so that's what I'll do. The weather and trail conditions couldn't be much better.

I'll be doing a limited MAC schedule this year but Granogue is important. First off, it's a stellar race. Not that all of the climbing suits me, but I still love this race. Second, I worked hard last season to accumulate a few MAC points here and there. The starting grid for Granogue will be based on the final standings from last year. That should put me on the second row.

I have a history of having material issues and bike driver issues at this race, but last year I rode it cleanly until I blew the finish and lost 4 or 5 spots on the final road section. If I can do well this year I might score enough points to be able to start in the first 3 rows at Beacon, which will be my next MAC race.

My first priority will be doing what I can to help one of my teammates win the race. I figure if I'm lucky enough to get in position to help them early in the race then I have a shot to hang on for a decent finish myself.

I guess when I really break it down my goals are to ride hard and aggressive the entire race and to have a clean race. If I can do that I'll be happy regardless of where I finish. After all, I love racing cyclocross, but it's really just one part of a balanced life.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Pumpkin Patch

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom

Monday, October 01, 2007

I'll always have Lilypons

Ed Sander Memorial 'Cross
Masters cat 3/4

First off, I'm lucky to be on such a fun and supportive team.

Second, I actually won a friggin' bike race. It may never happen again so please indulge me and my ego while I put my thoughts down and post some photos. When I'm old(er) I want to be able to look back and remember this most rare event.

Bernie, fatMarc, and I were all on the front row for the Masters 3/4 race. We wanted to get a good start to control the pace around the ponds first lap and then open it up once onto the gravel roads. A couple of weeks ago I put shims under my cleats to make pedal engagement a little easier. That has helped my starts as I have been able to get clipped in faster. Before the shimming the tread on my shoes was interfering with the pedal/cleat interface.

Anyway, I got into the pedals first try and took the hole shot. I gave it a little bit of gas to make sure that I had the lead into the first narrow spot of the prologue loop. From there I was able to back it off and actually recover until we hit the barriers.

After the barriers I gave a quick glance back and saw that Marc and Bernie were right near the front of the line of riders. Perfect. I led around the ponds riding a solid tempo, but not pushing too hard. The narrow line made passing difficult so I knew that I could just focus on riding smoothly.

Of course, a few turns in I take one too wide and end up off a ledge into a deep rut! D'oh! Marc very calmly told me I was fine, helping me to avoid a complete panic. I got back on course and stayed on the front.

By the pit the first time we made the tricky left onto the fast gravel road section. Immediately the German diesel Michael "Jan" Kolb passed me and started riding fast, really fast. Marc got his wheel and I followed with Bernie right behind me. I don't think the group split here, but it certainly got strung out. We rolled it top speed on Jan's wheel all the way to the technical backside of the course.

Marc led through here and we made it pretty much without incident (just some friendly elbow rubbing). Coming down the fast downhill leading to the start finish we still had a long line of riders, but small gaps were opening.

As we approached the pea gravel pit (soon to be renamed the Endo Zone) I had decided to dismount and run through the obstacle. Jan and Marc gambled and tried to ride it. However, the gravel crew had raked the gravel up higher than expected into a contrived, but effective obstacle. They didn't make it far before their front wheels stopped and they simultaneously endo'd spectacularly, synchronized swimming style.


Remarkably both guys got right back up and into the action. The next lap was more of the same (minus the crashing) as we rode a solid, but controlled pace around the ponds, drilled it on the gravel roads, finessed the technical "back nine", and sprinted up the backside climb.

The next time around a leading trio had developed with me, Marc, and Jan. Marc and Jan are training partners and fellow members of the DCCofD. We had a friendly breakaway group. This was good for all of us. We rode really smoothly together to establish a gap to the chasers behind. We each took pulls and offered words of encouragement.


Once we had a decent gap Marc and I took turns putting in accelerations in hopes of getting one of us free. Jan was too strong. He covered each one immediately. Though we couldn't shake him perhaps we were able to soften him up a little. Aside from covering us he also put in a lot of work early to get us away. I was really impressed by his riding. He had plenty of power and he was also smooth driving his bike.


With 2 laps to go Jan led around the ponds at a strong pace with Marc on his wheel and me on the back. When we got onto the gravel I jumped up the left side and gave-er what I had. I didn't look back, but I think Jan covered me pretty quickly. I kept driving it in hopes of setting Marc up.

After we crested the little rise that leads to the entrance to the technical "Back Nine" Marc countered jumping to the front. I slowed up in an effort to open a gap. Jan saw the danger immediately and made a nice pass in a tight spot to get around me. We bumped shoulders and he apologized but it was just good racing on his part...there was no need for an apology! 8-)

So Marc led through the tricky stuff with a small gap, but he flatted as he was really trying to open it up. We got back up to his wheel on the stair-step grass climb. We didn't know he had flatted and he hid his cards well to lead us down the fast downhill without any sign that his tire was flat.

As we approached the pit he called out for a bike change. With that Jan attacked through the finishing straight as we got the bell for the last lap. I made it up to his wheel and sat there hoping that Marc would make it back up. He got a smooth bike change, but Ron Huebner was able to get his wheel as he re-entered the course.

Being a teammate to me and friend of Jan he didn't want to drag Ron up to us so he sat on his wheel. Likewise, I was able to sit on Jan's wheel since Marc was just behind. It would have been better if Marc hadn't flatted but we were still in a pretty good position.

If Ron closed the gap Marc and I would hopefully be a little fresher since we had been drafting. If Jan and I stayed away it would be because he put in a strong pull to keep us away. Well...Jan put in a MONSTER pull around the ponds and the gravel roads. I was suffering just holding his wheel and didn't think I'd be able to pass him.

I knew my only chance to win was to get in front before the "Back Nine". Just before we got to the downhill approach to the run-up I stood up and made the pass. At that point I got a surge of adrenaline. I had to force myself to calm down and focus on riding the next section cleanly.

Everything went well and as I made the tight turn to climb up by the announcer I gave it everything sprinting over the top and down the double-track leading to the off-camber drop. I took the drop faster than I had all race and hoped that my tires would stick at the bottom.

They did putting me right on track with a lot of momentum. Already in a big gear I dug deep to put in another sprint up the steep kickers and all the way along the false flat at the top.

When I reached the downhill I snuck a glance back and saw that I had a gap. Now all I had to do was to keep from puking and not mess up the downhill. In my head I had to scream at my fingers not to touch the brakes on the gravelly little S-turn. I made it cleanly and tried to stay calm down the last stretch of double-track.

Through the pea gravel Auer yelled at me to stay smooth and not to slow down! Coming up the finishing straight I couldn't believe it. I was going to win a bike race. I zipped up the skinsuit, held back the puke, and for the first time ever raised my arms across the finish line.


Jan rolled across a few seconds later for a hard-earned 2nd. Marc was able to attack Ron on the run-up to grab 3rd. Bernie was right up front too until a crash slowed him down. He still finished a very respectable 12th out of 63 starters. It was another big day for our squad. The rest of the team kicked ass too with Wes taking the win in the Elite race and numerous other podiums.

Melanie had rearranged all of her weekend plans so that I could race and I didn't want to ask her to cancel anything so I had to head out before the podium. Mark Russell generously offered up a stroller as a fitting stand-in for the podium.


It was a hard race.
It was a fun race.
It felt great to win, but honestly it felt just as good riding a smart team race for the second week in a row.

I think that actually winning a race will help me push my limits a bit more, but I don't expect to win. I'm more of grind it out in the trenches kind of bike racer. I get a lot out of racing my bike and doing what I can to help my teammates.

If I never win another bike race I'll be happy as long as I ride hard, race smart, and have fun. In any event, I'll always have Lilypons.

All photos courtesy of super-photog Dennis Smith.