Old Man Bones

Keeping the Rickety Equipment Running After a Late Start

Racing bikes is hard.

Of course, it should be or it would not be a satisfying challenge. On top of the race itself, you've got pre-dawn workouts, dealing with the whole weight-loss/nutrition calculus, juggling race/workout/family/work schedules, bike maintenance... the list goes on and on.

But for me, the most difficult issue to deal with is the fact that I started racing last year at age 49. You see, my mind plays this trick on me when I saddle up: it lets me think I'm 40 or even on good days, 30 years old. Love that feeling!

The thing is, after a little time, my body always has it's say and finds some way of reminding me that I've been around for half a century. Usually, it manifests itself in comparatively benign ways such as finding myself dropped by my younger, stronger brethren or a little creakiness in the morning. After some rest, my mind and body reset and I can once again regain that fountain of youth feeling the next time I get on my bike.

I never use my age as an excuse for poor performance: I always feel like whatever shortcomings I have are ones that can be overcome with training or experience. I'll admit, I do tease a bit when I manage to beat a "youngster" up a climb or on a town-line sprint.

Injuries I've sustained up to this point have been the kind any cyclist could face, regardless of age: road rash, bruises, a separated shoulder, run-of-the-mill soreness.

This time, I think it might be different.

Last week, after finishing atQuadCross, I had a little back pain - no more than I have after other major exertions under race conditions such as I did at Battenkill. I did have that one small spill in the race, did I hurt myself worse than I thought?

I stayed off the bike Monday and Tuesday but had a location shoot Tuesday that required a lot of hauling of heavy gear and being on my feet all day - not very helpful for healing.

As the week progressed and particularly after this past Wednesday's Minuteman Road Club CX Training Race, the pain became more focused near my right hip and, at times, I could feel pain down the right side of my leg and along my calf. Walking normally became difficult.

I started to worry whether I would be racing on the weekend at Green Mountain.

I awoke Friday morning with the plan to do an hour spin on the trainer to make sure everything was working but could barely achieve 75 rpm for a couple of minutes - it hurt THAT BAD.

Pinched nerve? Inflamed hip labrum? Beats me.

I knew right then I was out for racing today. Very frustrating: mentally, I have been so eager to race that all the difficulties that surround training have been inconsequential and easy to overcome but being hurt like this is a major setback.

Seeing the doc on Tuesday to hopefully get a definitive answer as to what is going on. I don't want him to tell me to slow down.

I can't.

I won't.


Quad Cross Photos by 20# Skull

Fellow MRC cyclist/photog Todd Prekaski, aka 20# Skull, got this shot of me contemplating a remount right after the start. Every one of those guys, and more, eventually passed me:

"Must... hold them off... a little longer!"
More photos from QuadCross are here in 20# Skull's Facebook gallery.

Here's my photos.

Race Report: QuadCross 2011 - Maynard Rod & Gun Club

Yesterday morning could not have been more perfect for bike racing: sunny, temp in the high 50's, rain-soaked ground dried to merely slightly damp and only 1.4 miles to drive to the race.

This field would soon be wall-to-wall cars, bikes and cyclists.

Yes, I drove: wanted to have my full armory of tools/parts/comfort items available just in case.

At registration, my waiver sheet had no number stapled to it so as the guy handing my case started to look for advice about what to do, I jokingly asked for a low number. He returned and with a shrug, tore off the number attached to the sheet below mine. I assumed he knew what he was doing.

I got #109, a front row start! Sure beats row 4 where I would have been based on the race predictor (25th).

I ambled back to my car to prep the bike and myself and as I did, I could hear the distant sound of the paint ball battlefield way on the other side of the gun club property: shouting and constant "automatic gunfire". I suppose it was no worse than racing bikes on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

After Ted Packard of QuadCycles led us in a moment of silence to recognize the anniversary, we were lined up, and ready to go.

Got a good start and held my position all the way up to the fire road and that's where the attrition began. Lucky for me the field was already strung out pretty far so it took the whole 6 laps for me to drift back to finish at 26th. Always looking for silver lining, I found it when I checked last year's QuadCross results: I came in 41st then.

Turns out they swapped my number for the guy who's sheet was below mine - results showed me as 11th and him as 26th. There was no denying the fact that many more than one person passed me during the race.

Not wanting to screw the other guy out of a good start position down the line, I told everyone I could (officials, scorer, QuadCross folks) about the problem. As of today, no resolution. I've done enough squawking about it, its up to the other guy to follow up now if it's an issue to him.

Before "the line" was established.

  • Terrific course laid out very well to use the best features the land had to offer. I liked in particular the tight turns and off-camber sections right after the Newbury Comics double-barriers
  • Good bike handling skills due to much MTB action this summer and the Meyerson clinic
  • At two separate times, two different guys dumped in front of me in the twisty section after the double barriers. I was very nimble in dodging them. BTW, that was the best laid out part of the course
  • Ran a Michelin Mud2 up front pumped to the low 30's and a Jet (chevron) 40psi (due to roots/rocks) in the back for the first time. Worked great.
  • The smiles I got as I cheered/photographed the Pro and single speed race. Pretty much lost my voice though.
  • Met at least 3 online-only acquaintances in person for the first time. NECX is such a friendly community!
Best of all, my wife came out to see me race for the FIRST time, it was great hearing her voice cheering "Go Rusto!" - thanks to everyone else who urged me along as well!

  • Fitness: I need to get more training in at the level of intensity of a race.
  • Should be registering for Cat 4 45+ masters races when available from now on, damn kids are killing me!
  • At the top of the last 180 after the barriers (by the corner of the clubhouse), I needed to do a tiny dab, could not get out of my pedal and flopped over like a fish.
  • Whacked my rear wheel on the small barrier below the run-up hard enough to knock it out of line. Had to reposition it at the top, losing a couple places in the process.
  • Sore lower back this morning
I hustled home after my race because I thought I was on duty with my daughter but it turned out a playdate was arranged in my absence. After dropping her off, I returned and took a bunch of photos of the Cat 3 Masters, Pro and SS races...
Gotta love smiling through the pain.

Right after the start of the Pro race, I walked up to the pit area to start going "upstream" on the course for a different vantage point for photos when a huge pickup truck loaded with paintballers in the back comes DRIVING UP THE RACE COURSE from the woods.

A moment of panic and some yelling ensues but then me and another guy pull up some stakes to let the truck through because, you know, THE PROS ARE COMING ANY MOMENT NOW!

Just as we get the stakes and tape back in place ANOTHER CAR COMES! Crap, there's no arguing with the people inside, we have to clear the course before the cyclists come by. And they do come barreling by, just a minute later.

I made my way down to where the two vehicles got onto the course, helped repair the tape and stayed there, turning back three more vehicles until the end of the Pro race when finally some "official" officials came and relieved me.

Why IS there a trash can here?
The Zanconado Single Speed field was populated with a significant number of racers who were in their second race of the day, I don't know how they do it - one race totally wiped me out.

Jeremy Katz of QuadCycles rails a turn in the SS race.
The smaller field allowed me time to actually get into the woods along the race course without having to bushwack or dodge racers coming my way. But the easy access came too late: I got poison ivy on arms from the earlier trek. By the end of the day, I got some great shots of the SS action and was able to to witness MRC teammate, Doug Kennedy, take 3rd.

Doug Kennedy on his way to 3rd in the Single Speed race.
I'm grateful for all the hard work put in by QuadCycles, Newbury Comics and others to make this a terrific day of racing. Fingers are crossed that they can use this location for years to come!