Good news! My ankle is back. I had to take two weeks off from all activity and over a month from running. It’s still a bit tight and I tweak it lightly now and then, but I don’t think I suffered any long term damage. I had to forego the first trail racing series race of the fall and will likely opt out of the next one or two just to give myself more time to heal and strengthen, but I may get back out there before it’s over. Or maybe it is time to give up on running altogether.

Anyway, I’ve done a slew of bicycle racing over the past two weeks. I began not feeling in the best of shape due to the training missed from the ankle, but all has gone pretty well and I’m much stronger now for it. As racing is going to be a weekly or more frequent thing this fall, look for roundups such as this.

August 24, 2014 – Kruger’s Kermesse. This would be my first race on the new cyclocross bike. It is quite nice and well above my capability so my equipment is no longer an excuse. I’d only been on the bike twice before, and being so much faster than my old steed, I wasn’t prepared for its capabilities. My negative splits (later laps being faster than earlier ones) indicate that. The race is for cyclocross bikes, but it is called a “farm crit.” There are no obstacles so it’d be a pretty safe ride for the fresh ankle. And it was fast (I averaged 17mph off road). I did pretty well, picking folks off the whole way, and finishing 7th in the “C” class (there’s beginners, my group, guys who are pretty good, and then guys who are great).

August 26, 2014 – Tuesday PIR. On two days rest, I made my way up to the local speedway to attend the last of the weekly races that occur there. They are held on Monday and Tuesday nights, which makes for A TON of races per season, but this was the first I managed to get to. I wasn’t able to preride the course, but being a 2-mile circuit, there were a handful of “easy” laps in which to learn it before things got serious. In my last proper road race, I broke my wrist by getting ansty. This time I stayed calm, found my way behind the wheel of a strong looking guy with plenty of room to maneuver, and field-sprinted to 3rd overall. I actually won the field sprint as the first two guys sprinted early and we didn’t reel them back in. I was gaining ground on them both without really feeling like it was much effort so I’m pretty sure I could have had the overall win had I known to go earlier, but that’s part of the game. Just a comfort thing that will come next season when I do the races more regularly. For most of these guys, they had done dozens of this same race already this year. Of note, this race was with Cat 4s too. Race average was about 24.5mph. I think flat and fast is my jam. Can’t wait until next year.

August 30, 2014 – Gran Prix Ryan Trebon #1, David Douglas. The first proper cyclocross race of the season took place just across the river in Vancouver. Picked my buddy Dolan up (who won his race by over a minute!!! Yeah, dude!), made our way there, got a bit of a preride in, and… raced. I was pretty pleased with my performance; I felt strong, but was majorly slow in the singletrack technical sections, which will just come with practice. It was a wet and muddy one so it was really true CX action. So wet that I was constantly wiping sweaty rain from my face and eyes, which led to some aggro… Some jerkoff riding behind me told me to keep my hands on my bar. I wasn’t swerving or anything, and, well, he was behind me. I kindly told him to eff himself. Looking at the results, I found he was from Seattle. It all makes so much sense. I didn’t have my typical strong finish and dropped about four spots on the last lap to end up in 11th place. Kind of a bummer, but c’est la vie. Also dropped my chain on the final corner so I had to run across the finish line. Good enough to get my name announced over the loudspeaker and not lose any places so “woot.” GPS boom.

September 6, 2014 – Gran Prix Ryan Trebon #2, Het Meer. Another one across the river in Vancouver. Gave Dolan a ride again. Unfortunately, he didn’t blow away his field because they bumped him up a class, where he still managed 11th place. Dude is having a great year. This race was again very “real” CX except for the fact that there was a beach section. I watched some videos of folks nearly killing themselves in the sand and chose to run it, but that didn’t help me from killing myself. I got a good call-up at the start of the race, but wasted it completely as I unclipped the wrong foot and mentally froze over the first barrier. From there, the mental mistakes only piled on. I crashed half a dozen times and have a nice raspberry on my hip and scrapes up my leg. Pretty lightweight damage for bicycle crashing, but man… brutal day. Every time I’d make ground on and/or pass a competitor, I’d go down and have to chase again. The guy who finally finished just ahead of me had to find it comical as I think I passed him 2-3 times only to finish behind him. I would have likely gotten him, but we went from 2 laps to go to finished (no bell/final lap). Kind of annoying as I was saving something for that final lap that we didn’t get. Regardless of the mental mistakes, this was a pretty good course for me as it featured a lot of long flats to power down so I still managed 10th place. I’m just going to put this one behind me and work on my off-bike skills this coming week. There will be chaos — keep pedalingGPS it.

To add insult (and injury) to injury, I tore up my hand riding past a thorn bush after my race, and when unloading Dolan’s bike at his house, saw there was a branch attached to it, pulled it off, and the one monstrous thorn that was on it entered my thumb. I didn’t leave the couch the rest of the day.

I’m pretty optimistic about the season… Just need to keep practicing that off road riding and I’m sure to see some podium time.

After a solid two weeks of racing, a full training cycle following the sprained ankle, and all culminating in a crash-a-thon, I’m ready for some rest. No racing planned for this week and an abbreviated set of training (maybe only 6 hours). GOGO recovery!

A whole bunch more photos are available on Facebook if you’re friendly with me over there.