Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm #1!

As you can see from my screen shot from the official USACycling website, I am ranked #1 in my zip code in Criterium, Time Trial and Road Racing! So if there was a 94550 Cat. 5 stage race I would be the Lance Armstrong of 94550 Category 5 racers. Wow! Where's my trophy? (tongue is firmly planted in cheek in case you need to be told...).

I believe that what that ranking means is that either A)I am the ONLY cat 5 in my zip code (that actually bothered to show up to a few races in 2009) or that B)USACycling always puts you as #1 in your zip code to make you feel good about yourself and renew your license...

Doctor wagged his finger at me last week and said to not destroy his good work and to lay off for another three weeks and then do three weeks after that of physical therapy so it looks like I may be able to ride again around Christmas time.

So I find myself living vicariously through pictures, video and race reports of what uninjured bike racers are doing these days and I realized the following: Successful cyclocross racers seem to be pretty far on the skinny side - almost like runners. D'Oh! No wonder I've always been frustrated by sucking at something that I find so much dang fun. Come to think of it the skinny guys pretty much kick butt in most competitive cycling situations... Oh well, just like the world of Tuesday nite rock and roll bands needs "rhythm" guitar players, the nation's weekend bike warriors need us "all-rounders." And just like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" needs no hot licks to rock your way through, the occasional wind lets a pear shaped dough-boy like me serve a little payback to the chickenlegged dudes.

So anyway here's my over-thought application for a Cat 4 upgrade which I'm including here because I can't think why but it sort of slightly amuses me which is pretty much the reason I ever put anything here...

2009 Road Race Resume for Roy Johnson (submitted for Road Cat 4 upgrade)

In 2009 I reactivated my USACycling racing license and downgraded from a Cat 3 on the road to a Cat 5. A late season injury kept me from participating in a tenth qualifying race but I am hoping my former Cat 3 license and added experience on the track will be taken into consideration. To upgrade to a Cat 4 for 2010, I submit the following:

2009 Criterium Experience
-Early Bird Road Race in Patterson (35+ 4/5) 40th
-Madera Stage Race (Cat 5) 30th/45
-Lodi Cycle Fest (Cat 5) 5th of 18
-Lodi Cycle Fest (35+ 4/5) DNF

2009 Road Race Experience
-Madera Stage Race (Cat 5) 20th/45
-Sonora Road Race (Cat 5) 9th/20
-Tour De Ames "Kermesse" (Unsanctioned Race) 2nd
-Leesville Gap RR (35+ Cat 5) 7th/16
-San Ardo Road Race (35+ Cat 5) 10th/23

2009 ITT Experience
-Madera Stage Race (Cat 5) 26th/45 - Overall 20th of 45
-Mount Diablo Hill Climb TT (Cat 5) 19th/30

2009 Other
-Track Experience including 6 beginner sessions, and races on 9 separate dates.
-2 Mountain Bike Races (T.B.F. MTB Challenge #1 and #2)
-2 Cyclocross races in late 2008 that inspired all of the above for 2009!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Frustrations of Bike Racing on a Budget...

I've been spending too much time on eBay this week trying to buy other people's castoff junk for (probably) too much money. Even with twenty year's worth of bike parts lingering in my parts bin I still don't have enough stuff to get my track bike road-training worthy. And I need to fix my road racing bike since my crash left me with bent forks. Besides that, I fell into a pedal crisis last year when two sets of pedals finally crapped out on me in the span of a few days.

Bicycle and bicycle equipment have become outrageously expensive. When I started racing in the early 90's I rode a modest Shimano 105 equipped carbon fiber frame that I bought for $750 on a starving college student budget of warehouse summer jobs and restaurant work during the school year. Nowadays a similar bike will go for about $1700. Go ahead and adjust for inflation and that's ridiculous! And that's an entry level race bike. Step up to a race worthy component group and wheels and it is very easy to spend $3500 to $6000 on a race bike. Race-worthy forks go for $300 to $800 dollars! Need shoes? Prepare to drop another $300.

I guess that's all fine and good for the folks who can either afford it or put themselves (and their families) into guilt-free debt but for me it's a problem. I'm already racing on ten year old equipment. In some ways it's okay since the rider is 90 percent of the equation but the rest of it is very frustrating when you toe the line on inferior equipment.

Back in my glory days of racing in the DC area, we often rode and raced with the couriers from downtown. Whenever I feel bad that the guys in the pack are all riding wheels worth more than my entire bike I remember those guys riding me into the ground on bikes that were barely fit to be ridden.

But still, I feel like I'm missing out by going on the cheap...

Bike Frames: This is the only place I feel I'm actually in a little club of guys-who-know-better. My old steel frame may not weigh less than a paperback novel but it's comfortable and will last forever. Even with the modern carbon fiber wunderframes available today, I'd still ride a steel frame.

Wheels: Wheels have become stupidly expensive but they are also the one place where you can actually lose and lose big time if you're heavy and inefficient. Not dumping big money into wheels is probably my biggest frustration.

Components: It's all great stuff available nowadays. Buy my ten year old Dura-Ace still works pretty good too. The only difference is weight. That said, I'd really like to upgrade my cranks and bottom bracket to something much more lightweight and modern.

Pedals and Shoes: This one is killing me! I don't know how much longer I can keep limping along. The problem is that I'm sort of married to old Look pedals. Back in the day you could buy new pedals every two seasons or so and eventually you had enough pedals for all your bikes and didn't have to worry about different cleats and could use just one pair of shoes. But Look switched from the old delta platform to their new keo (kea - whatever) and I'm stuck. I'll either have to buy three pairs of pedals all at once (ouch! on the wallet) or go crazy switching pedals from bike to bike to bike to bike.

Or just buy other people's castoffs on eBay for (probably) too much money...