Amanda and I took a trip to East China and South Korea. One of us went to work, the other went for the experience. It was quite an experience for both of us. While I did work the whole trip I still feel that there was no replacing the experience by any amount of phone calls and emails. We had one weekend where we were able to do some sight seeing. Those two days we were in Hangzhou City and Tiantai. Hangzhou City had a Buddhist temple and Tiantai we went on a hike. It immediately became apparent to me the fact that there have been civilizations inhabiting these areas for thousands of years (key difference from the US). At the Buddhist temple there are rock carvings that date back over 900 years. I don't think there are many things like this in the US. A depth of history that is much greater. Even the idea of being 'American' only spans 200 years. The hike was great, it rained the entire time but we ascended to a place up in the hills that older civilizations made executions of prisoners as sacrifices to the Gods. It seemed very strange when you thought of it. Standing right there where you know others have met their end. Trying to grasp a strand of understanding as to why their leaders would think that this would somehow for the betterment of their civilization.
The architecture was always pleasing for me to see. Not just more historic buildings, but the infrastructure of that country truly is something that I don't think Americans would understand, high rise buildings going up like there's no tomorrow. Hangzhou City had 24 high rise tower cranes on their skyline that I was able to count as we drove into the city. I'm not sure there are any other cities in the US with 24 towers in construction. This concerns me, what happens to that country in 80 years when a majority of these structures where built over 20 years ALL need repair/refurbish at once because there so much going up at once.
As Amanda and I rode back on the plane with a 15 hour flight, think about that for a second. You can't lay down, it's uncomfortable, and you can sit and watch ten 1.5 hour movies in a row. horrible. But anyway, there was a young serviceman sitting next to us who was just honorably discharged from his 3rd term, serving in Korea. I'm trying to comprehend how the leaders of our society see the sacrifices of our people will better our peoples future and I'm certain that they too are doing this to the best of their ability but am certain that when read about in the history books 1000 years from now will seem archaic and perhaps even foolish.
First off, I can't believe Jake put that ridiculous picture on this blog. I am too tired to be too riled up about it. Jake and I had a long weekend of racing starting off with the Second Annual Gravel Grovel in Story, Indiana. This challenging gravel road race has a mix of single-track and lots of riding through pristine forests. Jake likely missed the views as he flew to a quick victory in the single speed division. Scott Belcher was also blazing fast coming in third place in the masters division. I added another rock to my collection with a win in the women's open division. The race was well run and fun like it was the first year we attended it. The Story Inn was gracious enough to make us a pot of chili and allow us a warm place to enjoy post-race beers. I recommend this race!
Today Jake and I got up bright and early to make the 3 hour commute to the Buckingham Financial/Biowheels Zipp OVCX cross race. Jake took a commanding lead in the third lap and cruised into his fourth win in a row in the series. Tom Mulpagano finished well in the Cat 4 division. Scott Belcher missed his start, road with a juniors for a lap then decided to call it a day. He deserves it after Saturday's 100K. WIll Sherman had an incredible day fighting it our for second place in the Cat 3 open. He has really gotten the hang of this cyclocross stuff!
The sun had warmed the air slightly and melted off a lot of the frost just in time for the women's 1,2,3 race. For a change of pace the officials had the women toe the line after the elite men, starting us thirty seconds behind. Another unexpected change was the alphabetical order call-up, which is great if you last name starts with A, not great for someone who starts with V. Niki Dallaire finished strong with another victory in the Elite women with Leah Halloran and Amanda Virostko second and third respectively. Gerry Schulze and Bridget Donovan Billiter were close behind. After today's events I am so thankful for the usual suspects I race every weekend. That is Niki Dellaire, Bridget Donovan- Billiter, Gerry Schulze, Nicole Borem and a cast of other great OVCX ers. It is great to have strong competition and level heads out there. I am thankful we all support each other and want us all to be healthy, well and successful. Thank you to Jake as well for a million reasons.
Amanda eating a grapefruit.
Promotions OVCX cyclocross race offered great food, record high temperatures and a new and improved course. The tape wound up and down an increased amount of climbs, steeper descents and even a micro sand-pit. The best Cajun food in Lexington, Bourbon n' Toulouse was also present offering up their famous Chicken Etouffee. Jacob continued his winning ways in the Open Singlespeed classification, despite seeing his biggest field of competition since the Louisville GP. That makes three wins in a row. Shamrock Cycle's PHD, Scott Belcher finished strong in fifth place. I caught a quick glance of Tom Mulpagano, but he disappeared before I had a chance to find out how he finished. He is quite the clandestine individual.
The Women's 1,2,3 race was for second, third and fourth position. The battle was on between Bridgett Donovon-Billiter, Gerry Schulze, and me, Amanda Virostko. I was informed that the race would suit me because I am a mountain biker, but, it also suited Billiter and Schulze who are very good mountain bikers. I was winning in the first 15 seconds of the race, then the woman with four names, first place finisher, Anna-Jean Dellaire (Nicki) calmly passed me and powered up the remainder of the hill. I did the best I could to stay on her wheel but fell off with Billiter and Schulze right there with me. Schulze powered off and would have likely stayed ahead if she could have prevented a crash in one of the final turns of the first couple laps. Billiter and I caught back up with her and swapped positions a few times before I was able to pass Schulze, get a gap on her and cruise to second place. We have quite a competitive series of great people on and off the bike. We have a big week coming up. My Dad and I will continue our Thanksgiving tradition by running a 10K. Jake and I will continue our new Thanksgiving tradition of doing the best gravel race in the world, "The Gravel Grovel." Sunday we will head North for yet another OVCX Race at John Bryant State Park.
I thought i'd throw up a few pictures of some of the racing and other we've been up to.
My sister bought a house, yes, it's pink. We went over there to help her clean some stuff up and work on some items around there. She had some nice new concrete down that we were out enjoying lunch on.
I've been working on my single speed for the last couple races and it's been treating me pretty well. Last week i tried to double up and i think i bit off a little more than i could chew, definitely need to up the training hours before I try that again.
Amanda made the podium in Columbus, OH. After several weeks of issues with root canals, getting sick and finally getting off some antibiotics i think she was really pleased she had a good race.
Shamrock racing had a strong showing at the Gun Club CX race that is part of the Zipp OVXC Cyclocross Tour this weekend. Team members raced in the Single Speed, Women's Elite, Men's Cat. 3. Master's Cat. 3, and the Men's Cat. 4 Categories with 4 top ten finishes. For me racing single speed was really a pleasure, the early morning race still had frost on the ground, and really put the riders on the defensive when it came to how much they were willing to push their luck in all the corners. With the sun coming up and as soon as people started hitting the course the frost quickly changed to a light layer of dampness over hard pack which didn't take away any of that defensiveness, just changed it from pushing your luck across the ice to pushing it across the mud. It really felt like a CX race as compared with some of the 80+ degree days from earlier in the OVCX tour. It was very challenging with the cold and slickness being features that a lot of people have missed this fall. The rest of the course was no less challenging and left the rider always thinking they missed the fast line out of all the numerous double sets of turns. My Celtic Cross was well balanced and left me feeling confident I wasn't going to slide out on the front or rear which lead to a race win in the Single Speed race. Amanda Virostko fought long and hard for a 4th place in the women's Elite race. Will Sherman made it out of the Cat 3 race with a top ten finish, and Tim O'Donnell pulled a 3rd pace finish out of a hat in the Cat 4 race after having some tougher races at the Derby City Cup weekend, and probably helped by his team mate, Tom Mulpagano in the same race. Scott Belcher donned a Shamrock Jersey this weekend and raced competitively in the Masters Cat. 3. Good Job to everyone.
Also, i took this picture, maybe time can make us a big wheel bike like this one... haha.
The team made it down to the USGP at the 2013 worlds course and we all loved it. Tim and I raced both days and Amanda did Sat, while Will raced Sunday. I waited too long to pre register and didn't want to race with 150 cat 2/3's, so i raced Single Speed. I thought i'd post a few pics of my Celtic Cross before i return it to geared form.
I only had to use a spacer set and a 22 tooth cog. My Celtic Cross has semi horizontal drop out so chain tension was achieved pretty easily by just tightening the wheel in the right place.
It was a long weekend for Amanda and I and it started early with Morgan Webb stopping by on Thursday to hang out and pick up a frame to build up for his daughter Edie. By the time Sunday came around she was racing on it and she loved it. She did really well in her race too, good work Edie! Amanda and I had a party we hosted at the house on Friday for some office friends then went to a wedding on Saturday. We had a few long days, so by the time Sunday rolled around I think we were ready for Monday, haha. We made it down to Louisville for the 2nd OVCX race and it had a fun time. Amanda raced for third in her race and handled the technical course with of camber turns and quick climbs very well. I had a great time racing and started out well within the top ten before realizing that my abilities were far surpassing my fitness and had to back it down a bit. I finished 19th and joked with Amanda later that if i don't watch out people are going to start calling me 'Faded Glory.' The rest of the team had good races too, with Tim finishing 7th and Will 8th. Good work!
Kings Cross Weekend
The first weekend of cyclocross was certainly a memorable one and not for good reasons. I had a sinking feeling that I should have done some sort of cyclocross training prior to the first race but ignored the intuition I had and lined up on the start line pretty unprepared.
Don't get me wrong I have been riding a lot but not at the intensity of a cross race. The bike was incredible wish I could have been there with it.
I made a few mistakes that I won't repeat and hope to be less nervous and have more fun at the next race. Good thing that was just the first race in a really long season, there is still time.
I was lucky enough to be recruited into the Shamrock Cycles 12hr 4 person Co-ed team - Amanda (McKay) Virostko and Jake Virostko and Will Sherman - Supported by the man behind the magic, custom frame builder/owner/ wrench and general ball of positive energy Tim O'Donnell. I was there on my very un-custom single speed Fischer Rig nervous as hell and hoping not the be a disaster and have everyone regretting my 11th hour answer to a facebook request looking for a 4th to ride with them!!! On paper I was by far the weak link - it did not help my anxiety when Jacob turn the first 13 mile lap @ ~56 min and in first place of the entire race! I then heard some guy go "damn normal hot laps on this course are around an hour 5".....agggghhhhhh goes Scott's gut; that is followed by Will's sub-hour lap, then Amanda's lap of just over an hour.......all-the-while swapping lead with a team from Indy who Shamrock really enjoy beating.....as Amanda finishes her lap I get the high-five hand off and just resolve to do as best I can.......and leave it out there - hoping not to hurt the team - the first 20 minutes was awkward and did not help my gut, so I try to dig deeper and bury myself TTing on the Single speed - as I hit the first hills I am typically huffing like the asthmatic freight train I am and start passing riders like they are standing still - except those who are obviously not climbers and refuse to let me pass.......a couple more tangles with falling riders, scary fast down hills and I am surprised when I roll out of the wood - mostly up right and come to the start finish in just over an hour.....Slower yes - but not an embarrassment!!! We continue through the order with Jake and Will each turning sub-60 min laps - and Amanda around 1:03 or :04 - swapping places with the rival 4 man team and one machine of a solo 12 hour rider!
My next lap is at dusk and as I am waiting for Amanda to finish her lap I am standing next to our nemesis rider (Hopper, Hooper something like that) - secretly I am hoping their teammate has passed Amanda and that I can have a rabbit to chase, and it would relieve me the responsibility of being the slow guy who got passed by the bad guys!!!!
As it turns out he slaps in ~4 minutes ahead of Amanda even though she is still ripping the laps in just a bit more an hour. "Damn that is a lot, there would be no way I could even come close to making that up" I think, but I was feeling goofy and as I pullout (secretly half seriously) I express my dream goal and inform the team I am taking that 4 minutes out of his sorry butt!!!!! We all chuckle and I start riding as hard as my limited skills allow me and pass a couple of riders and then coming to the top 1/2 of the first hills, I see his guys kit...I slows and gets off his bike...mechanical or toasted I don't know......I hammer out of the saddle the entire climb and as I pass I want to leave him thinking...." damn he is doing that on a single speed there is no way I should even try" and then amazed by the idea I did catch him the internal voice changes to......hurt him! - push! every second you add hurts him - damn you can actually contribute!!!! Amanda's competitiveness is infectious! I keep this up for the next 30 minutes being treated to an amazing red-sunset and a truly Zen cycling moment as I am hammering as fast/hard as I can sweeping through corners and can't feel that my legs are there - they did not hurt - I just could not feel them, I truly felt part of the bike and the trail.....too cool - for the last 5 miles I rode controlled but like the finish line was 400 meters ahead....when I finally came out of the woods and crossed the line I had actually put a few minutes into the guy behind!!!! And we were now in first overall in the 12 hour -
Unfortunately the team suffered a flat on the next lap requiring a change of strategy - with huge efforts from Jacob and Will (1:01 night lap) - we finished 30 seconds from having the fasted 12 hour time - second place over-all and claimed the 1st place Co-ed 12 hr team uncontested! A plate or two of lasagna and I rolled out wishing Jeni Roosen well - with delusion of possibly making it to the Sunflower in time to get registered, but as I got home showered and in bed @ around 2:30, with regret, I warmed to the fact that it I was not going to make it....I hope everyone who represented had as good of a time as I did and are now ready for the kick-off of cyclocross season NEXT Saturday and Sunday at our Kings Cross race weekend - see you there and thanks in advance for each of your generous efforts in making that event a success!