Right about mid-way through, the cross season hovers like a hungry vulture over the midwest. Riders compete in 8 races over 17 days, scrounging for points and momentum leading into the final phase of the season. Schedulers made the '14-'15 US cross season comendably efficient in the geographic sense: starting out west, migrating east for several weekends, hopping back to the midwest for November, and then dispersing until January in Texas. Staying within time zones is both easier on the system and also on the caravan drivers, and since I have work flexibility this year, the team and I decided I would stay on the road for the 3 weeks between Cincinnati and Iowa.
With both mechanics having commitements back home the week after Cincy, Kerry and I headed the team rig down to Lousiville with Kerry at the helm.
Ahead of time, I had searched the area for a Bikram yoga studio, as I practice fairly regularly back home. Bikram Yoga Louisville was located 15 miles north of our hotel, so I decided to hop on my Diamonback once we got there and meander to yoga and back. Kerry joined me on the route there, with Siri yelling directions from my pocket. First we crossed a glass-strewn highway bridge, then we darted through successive 16-lane intersections before embarking on a sustained 8-mile jaunt down a six-lane highway with some extraordinary scenery.
Fortunately, Kerry made it back to the hotel ok and I made it to the studio ok. The yogis welcomed me like a stray cat, intrigued and entertained by my method and attire of arrival.
It felt great to sweat out three days of hard racing; one of the things I really like about Bikram is that it's the same 26 postures and sequence no matter where or when you go. That said, it made me appreciate my home studio at Bikram Yoga Danvers! After the unpleasantly urban route out, I decided to ask Siri for an alternate route back to the hotel, which she was pleased to contrive.
Not having anticipated riding in the dark, I did not have any lights with me, nor apparently do Louisville suburbs concern themselves with street lighting. My new route certainly avoided crowded highways, winding me through private communities with massive speed bumps in complete darkness. At least I was oblivious to imminent danger as I gingerly pedaled onward, hoping I didn't strike a pothole or a curb or a stray cat. Finally, it spit me out onto a lovely six-lane highway, where danger was once again loud and bright and very conspicuous. It took me 80 minutes to ride 15 miles, but I figured it was good practice for all the night races.
Fortunately, Kerry had driven to Cincy and had packed an entire kitchen with him! We headed off to Trader Joe's and stocked up on groceries, setting up the kitchen in the mechanics' empty room.
Not that we are ones to shy from adventure, but the next day Kerry and I took the suggestion of Chris Mayhew and headed over to Seneca and Cherokee Parks for our Tuesday ride where we were richly compensated for our suffering the day before. Both parks had lovely roads as well as miles of buff, swoopy single track perfect for cross bikes. Our Challenge Grifo clinchers seamlessly transitioned from road to trail and provided ample traction even at relatively high pressure.
Speaking of rich rewards, our culinary experiment of the week was "bulletproof" coffee, essentially organic coffee frothed with Kerrygold grass-fed, unsalted butter. The idea stemmed from the Tibetan yak butter tea, which is reputed to restore mental clarity in suffering trekkers. The result was a very smooth, velvety coffee. While I don't recommend subsituting this for your entire breakfast, I definitely think it's worth a try.
Once the mechanics arrived, we set out to explore Louisville.
We strolled the streets (left), visited the Louisville Slugger museum and batting cages (center), and ended up at Sergio's World Beers (bottom right), a place you'd walk right by and never know they sold over 1000 types of beer. Chris Kreidl had been there before and shared his secret spot with us. The tiny inside was jammed with coolers 4 rows high and 8 bottles wide, each a different brew. There were coolers in closets, in the bathroom, and in the basement, and the bartender looked like on of the Soggy Bottom Boys from O Brother Where Art Thou. The Budwiser was marked at $99. Just before we went to pay, the ATM inside the bar ripped off and devoured 1/4 of a woman's $20 bill. The proprietor opened up the ATM and Chris helped him fix it as customers poured in past the piles of unprotected cash.
Finally, it was race day. Taylor and Chris had the whole set-up in order and the bikes running smoothly.
This year's course was extra technical with off-camber turns and climbs, three sand sections, run-ups, and a little stair jump feature. It's really awesome to see race designers really stepping up the course difficulty and features!
Now aside from the awesome course, I do want to thank Louisville for one other thing. Sometimes it's the little things, like little numbers, for example, little numbers that actually fit on little skin suits! Thank you :)
Saturday was a night race, and course conditions were mostly dry with just a touch of moisture on some of the off-camber turns. I opted for the Chicanes, which have been my favorite tire this season! At the start, my right foot came unclipped and I lost what felt like a zillion spots, and I spent the race chasing back to 9th. Kerry also rode to 9th place in his race. We then headed off to the restaurant "Game" where we enjoyed Kangaroo, Waygu, Wild Boar, Duck, and Elk burgers.
The next morning's ride included a detination coffee shop that turned out to be closed--as of about 15 years ago I would say-but also offered some lovely bridge spots.
Sunday I was determined to have a clean start as I felt fit and knew I was riding the course well. Unfortunately, I got swarmed at the start and found myself chasing again. This time I worked up to 8th.
Photo Cred: Andy Perrino
Photo Cred: Scott Whitehair
Kerry rode a consistent race to 9th again.
It's off to another triple weekend at Iowa next.