check... double check... cross gear check

I hate when this happens...
last night I wrote this and did a quick edit
and then... well... for some reason I did not save or PUBLISH AND POST those edits
that is way the worst
I liked the final tweeks
the first draft is seldom the best draft
in this case it was the only draft
in too many cases my emails and my blog entries are a one shot deal
that is why this frustrates me so... because I put in the time and have nothing to show for it
oh well...
it is just a blog post and not a chapter of the sequel of War and Peace

check... double check... cross gear check

last week... late in the week I scheduled in my mind that the Jamis Nova would need some adjustment before my last and final cyclocross race of 2008 season
proper arrangements had been made for the weekend's event
I had gone online and registered as well as having the appropriate permission slips signed by my wife Lisa
Sunday PVC: Potomac Velo Club was hosting what I understood to be the MAC Championship at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston Virginia

what's the difference?
okay... the MAC will kick my ass a little harder
either way I get my ass kicked

I carved out a chunk of time to examine my cyclocross bike for a day of racing in Reston Virginia for the Capital Cross Classic
my lime green cyclocross bike was coated with gray dust
not just a memory but a mess left over from the Thanksgiving snow rides just outside of Pittsburgh

a degreaser product by Pedros was sprayed on any and all working bike parts while some bubble gum scented bike wash product by a company forgotten by me was sprayed on anything and all things non-mechanical
the drive chain got the most attention while the well justified wiped down of the rims and frame was done without much attention to detail
solid particles dropped to the ground from the jockey wheels
the all-cotton mint green Bike to Work Day served its purpose again
grease covered shirt tossed into a bucket to serve its purpose another day
a chain and cassette morphed from a dark charcol gray to a slick and shiney silver

after cleaning there was some attention to adjustments
the cables had stretched since the move away from the road style drop bars to mountain style riser bars
not much more than a few turns of an Allen key
pulled in the brakes a touch and then took up the slack on the rear derailleur cable

the wheels were spinning and the brakes were adjusted well enough
in the stand the gears seemed to be shifting as they should
the short rides to and from work on the following day would give me a better indication of the state of the machine
the bike felt good... but not quite as good as they could and should be
the gears were a little off and I was not feeling too confident about the braking

so at lunch I made an appointment with the bike doctor
while strolling to get my lunch with my camera in hand I caught a glimpse of that familiar Surly bike with the large PVC cargo rig in tow
it was Cargo Mike grabbing a coffee at the corner... how opportune
I asked Cargo Mike if he could make a house call

we carved out a space of time for Saturday late afternoon after I finished up a day of family filled action and adventure

late Saturday afternoon arrived and Mike did not have much time... luckily there was not much to do

there is a difference between my efforts to keep things running and the action of a skilled mechanic
things were good on the bike... but not as good as they could be
Cargo Mike has the understanding of the working mechanisms from the perspective of a mechanic
while I am nothing more than a hack with a full collection of bicycle specific tools

in no time the gears were spot on and we were onto the brakes
discussion on the lack of braking power had Mike swapping out the pads in the front
Cargo Mike questioned if the front pads were for ceramic rims... I paused and gave him a glance back that was nothing more than a question mark
when I went out to get the lube that was in the back of my car I was greeted with the vision of snow blowing through the air
it was cold enough that the snow was starting to stick
it had the feeling that it would amount to nothig more than a dusting but it was snow just the same

like a young school boy I ran back to tell Mike about the falling snow
Mike knew... because it had been snowing when he had traveled across town to get to my place
neither or us felt that the snow would accumulate
yet we both agreed that the snow would contribute to the conditions that we already knew were scheduled to be quite cold and quite windy

no time for a test ride
no need for a test ride
confident in Mike's skill we said our good byes and I went to packing my gear
Cargo Mike left out for his evening plans while I returned to the basement to finish my race preparation

head to toe check
head to toe check... head to toe double check

first a mental list
then the action of gathering... sorting... and selecting the gear for a cold day on the bike
once things were about about to be packed then a final head to toe check, check, and triple check

starting from the bottom... toe working my way up to the head...
shoes to helmet

although I own LAKE winter mountain bike shoes I selected the shoes I am accustome to racing
torn and tattered Specialized mountain bike shoes too worn for the placement of cleats for a day where I knew there would be a substantial run up...

two pairs of socks...
wool TAXATION REPRESENTATION SOCKS with the DC Flag... after all... this is the Capital Cross Classic
then some standard cycling socks with Coffee Cups... because we all know cross is better with caffeine
then I pulled out some Gortex socks that I bought for a bike tour in Peru... I proposed to my wife Lisa at Macchu Picchu on that trip... we know that gear is old because Lisa and I celebrated our ninth anniversary this year
the weather of the next day was calling out for some focus on the selection of the right gear

knickers or full tights?
the anticipated wind and cold called for good coverage... full coverage... a minimum of exposed skin
but cross racing is an activity that gets the heart rate up and the blood flowing
so there has to be a balance... no time to lose a layer in a cyclocross race
I ended up going with a three layered process
some Pearlizumi Knickers that I have been super stoked on for years followed by a pair of leg warmers that I may have worn twice since they were purchased in desperation at a 24 Hour Hours of Snowshoe event where mountain cold and mountain rain came in with the wind forcing unprepared riders like myself to give our business to the cycling store and cycling gear kiosks set up for the weekend's event
then I covered those layers with a pair DCMTB shorts with the City Bikes logo on the quads and I forget what sponsor's name is printed on the ass
tights and gortex pants were packed in case the morning came with greater volume

the top was also a simple three layered process
lowest layer to the body was some full zip skin tight fabric of the future gortex-lycra thing that Lisa bought me from Hudson Trail Outfitters for a Christmas or Birthday some years past
this layer would be covered by a DCMTB Jersey and then a DCMTB vest
additional coverage was brought in consideration of precipitation
a gortex jacket bought from MEC a Canadian REI that I bought when the dollar was stronger could be useful for hang out time in the cold temperatures as well as being light enough for a jaunt in the park on the bike for a quick 50 minutes

the hands got a quick consideration...
bare hands and fingerless cycling gloves were not an option
the Pearlizumi lobster claws were not packed for it is known that these are awesome glove... but I feared that the energy of cross would bring my body temperature up to the point where my hands would be soaked in sweat by the end of lap one
so I went with two options that were lighter and would offer more dexterity
some Salsa full finger gloves that I wear year around... even on some brutally hot days
then some LAKE gloves that may actually be made for cross country skiing
the Lake gloves have the nice feature of going up over the wrists
no need for too many options... I was confident that one or the other would work well for the morning race

the helmet of choice is the same Bell helmet that I use for every race unless it is a race with a night lap
I keep a helmet mount at all times on my Giro
the helmet would be worn on top of a skull cap... my skull cap of moderate thickness... the thin skull cap would not e enough
although my beard is not that think I felt that it would be enough coverage that racing in the balaclava would be overkill

then the option of some Serfas with amber lenses of some sweet Dolce bright green frames that match the Jamis Nova quite well
both glasses would be brought
the amber lenses were packed and the bug eye Dolce frames would be worn on the morning drive

with two Timbuk2 messenger bags with old red oval City Bike logo patches fully packed I was able to consider pre-race fuel

the boys were upstairs playing with the Lionel train that only comes out at Christmas with some friends from down the block
my wife Lisa was out picking up Pho from Nam Viet while on her way home from dropping off a boy that was over for an afternoon playdate with Dean

a scan at the basement supplies and I decided that after the boys went to bed I would grab a Red Bull, some Gatorade, and some Swedish Fish when I took the Element to gas up for the drive out of town to Reston Virginia

over our Pho dinner Dean shared with me that he gets nervous before a bike race
hearing that had me explaining to Dean and Grant that I was anxious at that very moment
that in fact there are times when I can get butterflies days and days in advance just by talking about the approaching bicycle race
then I explained to them the notion of this sort of energy
how you can harness that energy rather than buckle under it
letting them know that everyone gets nervous
it is a matter of how to respond to that anxiety/nervousness

the night should have been spent paging through Cyclocross Magazine or watching A Sunday in Hell on DVD
as a parent my time is not always my own
my younger son was alert and awake and demanding some sort of parental interaction far past a rational bedtime for a four year old
the nap that occurred on our short drive to get our Christmas tree had him well charged and ready for action
this had me reading A Moose with a Loose Tooth and several other moderately amusing illustrated kid's books
finally after a hot dog for a late night snack to make up for the Pho dinner that he was not really in the mood for and I tapped out and Lisa subbed in

Lisa an I battled with Grant until all three of us were exhausted
defeated Lisa climbed into bed and Grant followed... only he followed with a variety of toys... toys that were clearly too loud to allow anyone to sleep along side of
toys that were traded in for another set of less noisy toys

I had time to put in a movie and cracked open a beer
a few beers into a pretty darn good movie I was upstairs brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed
listening to a rational voice that pointed me to my bed
never getting to see the final moments of Killing John Lennon on the Sundance Channel
I was confident that the title of the movie gave away the ending

the bike and body were as ready as they were going to be
I climbed into bed forcing a ten year old dog to move to the floor and for a four year old boy with a cold to slide over closer to his mommy
I crawled under the covers onto a sliver of space in our massive bed

I woke well rested considering I had been kicked around by a kid tossing and turning
my back felt good even though the dog crawled back into bed stealing the space where my feet should be

the alarm went off as I walked across the room to turn it off
it amused me to look at the alarm clock in my hand because I so seldom deal with the alarm clock because my early rising wife or my early rising kids tend to wake me up in time for work

with coffee in hand I walked the dog long enough for him to do his business then loaded up the car to go pick up Cargo Mike to head out to Reston to race bikes

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