Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Driftless Area: Dec. 2-4, 2011

I got the opportunity to go trout fishing in Northeastern Iowa in an area called the "driftless area."

This area is incredible.  I hope I get to go back sometime when I have more time to explore. I don't think I can do it justice with a write-up.  So I'll just say that the trout were wild and tough to catch (but we managed a few) and post the few pictures I took.  I wish I had taken more pictures because this area is fantastic--unfortunately I only managed a few pictures.

Day 1: North and South Bear

(Highlandville general store--across the street is the South Bear Creek)

(North Bear Creek entrance)

(North Bear Creek)

(North Bear Rainbow (part 1 of trifecta))

Day 2: French Creek and Waterloo Creek

(Waterloo Creek Brown trout (Part 2 of trifecta))

Day 3: Trout Run Creek
(Trout Run entrance)

(Trout Run Creek Brook Trout (part 3 of trifecta))

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cross Out Cancer- Late report

In the words of a wise man, "Sometimes you eat the bar; sometimes the bar eats you."  This race falls into the former category.  Pretty much everything went my way.   Although I had a few minor mess-ups, none of them slowed me down too much.   Luckily I was able to get my first win of 2011.

After a few laps it became a battle between me and one other rider--we had gapped the rest of the field by a pretty good margin.  After putting in several digs, I could see that I wasn't going to open up a gap on the rider in second.  Instead, I let him come through on an open section and just followed him for the final 3-4 laps of the race.  

Throughout the entire race I bunny hopped a set of small barriers.  The other guy always ran them and was about 2-3 seconds slower.  I decided to jump him right before the barriers in the final lap.  After attacking him in the section leading into the barriers, I had a big enough gap to cruise across the line uncontested for the win.  Hard race--but fun.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Boss Cross 1 & 2: An hour is a long time

Boss Cross 1 & 2 were my kickoff to the cross season.  The races were at Barry-Platte park.   I raced the men's category 3 both days.  Both races were 60 minutes long--which is a ridiculously long time to race.  Now that I got my first taste of cross, I'm excited for what's yet to come.

Race recap:

Boss Cross 1:  I had a front row start and was sitting third right behind the two guys who would ride away and win the race.  I was feeling good and not under any pressure.  Then I screwed up on a steep run/ride up and had to put a foot down because the guy in front of me slowed.  I struggled to unclip and get going again.  I lost about 5 or 6 seconds and tried to chase back to the two leaders.  I started to close the gap but blew up in the process.  Shortly thereafter, a guy from Colavita passed me. I tried to get his wheel but was still in the red and he opened up a gap pretty quick that I had no chance of closing.  I spent about the next five laps in "no-man's" land riding by myself.  After a while, I could see Adam Keck and Mark from KCBC closing on me and slowly they caught up.  I'd been riding the steep hill by the road all day (maybe that was stupid-since that is where I lost the leaders and would mess up again [spoiler alert]).  Finally, when Mark and Adam caught me, I got nervous and fumbled on the steep run/ride up trying to ride it and Mark (who ran that section) ran past me and was gone.  He accelerated on the hill after the run up and immediately had a gap.  He opened up a large enough gap that I never saw him again.  Adam Keck also passed me at the same time but I was able to get his wheel and keep him in sight.  Adam and I battled the remainder of the race.  With about four laps to go, Adam opened up about a 15-20 second gap and I mentally checked out and stopped chasing, conceding that he got the best of me.  Maybe not having to chase helped with my form, because before I knew it Adam was in sight and I was getting closer.  To my surprise, I caught him with two laps to go.  He dropped his chain running the 180 after the run/ride up and I put in a big effort to open up a gap and held it to the end.  It was kinda of Contador-ian (Yes that is a word--because I said it is) in last years TDF.  I'm not sure if the same etiquette applies in cross (I'm thinking absolutely not).   If he hadn't dropped his chain it would have been interesting. I'm not sure what would have happened because I was hurting.  My back was killing me.  5th place.  That was hard.

(chasing Adam)

Boss Cross 2:  The course ran opposite today and started with a fast gravel section that was pretty loose.  I got a crappy starting position on the third row and was about 15th into the gravel.  It took me about a lap to move up through the field when I finally got behind my nemesis from Boss Cross 1 (and Boss Cross 2 as it turned out [double spoiler alert]) Adam Keck.  By the time I caught him, I had no idea who was in front of him.  I later learned that the three leaders had a huge gap in front.  I never saw them.  Once again Keck and I did the dance were I would make up time on him, then he would open up a gap.  Back and forth it went for almost the entire race.  Unlike last race though, we weren't swapping positions.  I was trailing him the entire race.  Racing so many laps from behind, I picked up were I could make up time and Adam wasn't going as fast and vice-versa.  I learned pretty quick that I was getting destroyed through the barriers, the steep 180 before the barriers, the steep root-ladden climb, and through the sand.  I felt like I could make up time on long slow up-hills and the curvy sections.  We were equal everywhere else.  Finally, I caught Adam with about two laps to go.  In my mind I caught him in one of the better places for me on the course based on the way the race had been going.  Typically, I would make up time during a long slow false flat, a curvy section, and a slow uphill (then Adam would take it all back in the sand).  I caught Adam in the false flat and figured what the heck and put in a big effort in a spot where I thought I could gap him.  I knew I could probably get a gap on a few twisty turns and a slow up-hill right before the sand.  I just hoped that I had enough power left through the sand that my gap wouldn't get erased. 

Amazingly, my plan worked.  On my final lap, about 20 seconds before the finish, I was passed by the Men's Open leader, thankfully I was done.  4th place.  I won some cash that I redeemed on the way home for this:

(the wine is for Ann)
Life is good. 

Plus, the best show on television has its season premiere tonight. 

I'm pretty content with my place in the world and in both races.  Not a bad start to cyclocross 2011.  Next week...Shawnee Mission Park. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Reason to like Andy Schleck

Great story about Andy Schleck.  I think its pretty cool that he opted to lead a local, amateur ride in Steamboat Springs....plus his preparation for the Tour of Colorado includes fly fishing. 

I already was a Schleck fan--now I'm a much bigger fan.  Seems like a pretty nice guy. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Crane Creek- 8/6-8/7

I was able to fish Crane Creek Saturday and Sunday morning last week.  This creek is a gem.  

Temperatures were HOT--upper 90's both days by noon.  The Creek was gin clear and average flow both days despite a short shower Saturday night.  Even though it was hot, the trout were fairly active.  There were only a few rises but lots of activity that was visible.  On every single hole that looked good, if I didn't catch a fish I would spook a few small ones on the way out.  I saw more fish this weekend then ever before at Crane including a few that would easily go 18-20 inches.

I fished the upper part of the Creek both days.  No particular fly seemed to be working well but a caddis emerger pattern was what worked best.  I caught 4-6 and had just as many takes that I didn't land Saturday morning, including one that was probably 12-14 inches, which is pretty nice for a creek this size.  Even the small fish fight like they're bigger though.  Sunday I didn't do quite as well but still landed three and had a couple on that were lost. 

This stream humbles you and teaches you a thing or two.  Here are the major lessons learned from this trip:
  • with spooky trout in clear water under blue skies, approaching the holes from downstream is critical. 
  • previewing the creek on your way downstream is the best way to fish the holes
  • I need to work on getting my fly to the front of the hole on the first few attempts to have a chance at catching a 15+ inch trout in a stream like Crane.  I've been working the holes back to front and pulling out smaller guys but probably spooking the larger trout that occupy the primo spots at the head of a seam.  Although I had multiple takes from the same hole, after catching a fish out of a hole I don't think I ever had a take afterwards.
  •  I NEED A SMALLER ROD.  I had way to much rod for such a small creek. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tour of Lawrence--"Africa Hot"

Tour of Lawrence circuit race was this weekend.  This race is on a great course that goes through the campus and is HILLY

When I got out of the car it was 98 degrees with a heat index of infinity.  It was "Africa hot."

This ended up being a race of attrition.  Every lap we lost more and more people--riders would just pop on the sunflower hill and lose contact.  We started with around 40-50 riders and with three to go there were less than 20 riders left in the group.  I was feeling fine and under no real pressure....then the heat hit me like a ton of bricks.  Suddenly, with about a lap and a half to go, I found myself dangling on the back of the group.  By this time there were about 15 riders left in the group.

With a lap to go I began to lose contact on the sunflower hill.  I reached down in my "suitcase of courage" and realized I'd only packed a "man-purse of mediocrity."  The group of 15 riders road away from me.  I road the last lap solo and finished 17th.  By that time, I was ready to get the hell out of the heat and out of Lawrence.  Such is racing.  I should have packed two more water bottles full of ice water to spray on myself and keep my body temperature regulated--that would have helped.  Hardest race of the year but fun.  Highlight of the race was soaking in the fountain on campus post race.

Tour of KC- Day 2

Tour of KC day 2/3 was held at the Kansas City Police Academy.  Although Steve Guttenberg failed to make an appearance, it was nonetheless a chance to bring out the big guns--"Tackleberry-style:"

The course was pretty fun.  It had lots of sweeping, fast turns on a closed driver training course.  I felt great the entire race and never really felt stressed.  I was in one short break away that only stayed away for about a lap and I still didn't feel like I got into the red zone.  Unfortunately, a lot of other people were feeling good as well and the last lap was a struggle to get into the right position.  I was about 5 or 6 wheels too far back and didn't get a chance to contest for the win.  Instead, I sprinted past four or five people and ended 7th.  After Friday's disastrous last lap and feeling pretty cooked from Friday's heat, I was pretty happy with my finish.  Guttenberg would be proud...