Sarah and I have returned from our trip to Florida. We had an amazing time seeing my folks, brother, getting some much needed rest, and visiting the University of Florida to see what it is all about. We planned our trip a few months back to coincide with Thanksgiving and my completion of student teaching. Being able to eat a Thanksgiving meal with my parents for the first time in about 15 years was an amazing added bonus!
Upon arrival in Tampa I saw this sign announcing USL SoccerFest:
I am sure most of you don’t care, but there is huge drama going on in the world of minor league soccer and our very own Minnesota Thunder. Over this past weekend ground zero was USL SoccerFest in Tampa where a major meeting was taking place. To get all caught up head on over to the amazing Inside Minnesota Soccer.
When we got to my dad’s house he gave me a gift for completing student teaching:
It may seem like a simple pen, but it is a Cross pen (made in Lincoln, Rhode Island) and it was the one that my grandfather gave my dad when he finished his student teaching. I was pretty damn stoked to say the least!
We got to visit my brother in St. Petersburg. He is currently a Junior at Eckard College and is studying music:
He is trying to grow a beard and it is reminiscent of the one I had a few years back when I first met Sarah. The Eckard College campus is beautiful and is right on the bay. On the way to campus Sarah claims to have seen a dolphin, but I think it was a manatee with a dorsal fin. What do I know?
Prior to our big Thanksgiving supper on Tuesday night Sarah and I planned a quick trip to Gainesville (only 2hours from Spring Hill) to visit the University of Florida campus and meet with some professors. Neither of us had ever been to Gainesville before and we didn’t know much about it prior to our visit. We were both pleasantly surprised with what we saw and we both would be happy if this is where we end up next year.
Apparently football is a pretty big thing on campus:
($1 to the first commenter who can name who the Gators beat in the 2006 National Title Game.)
While Sarah was meeting with the various professors in the English department I tooled around campus. I noticed this sign:
I talked with one of the guys that was staffing the facility and he told me all about the racing scene. Turns out there are a fair amount of races and racers in the area and quite a few group rides to choose from. Sounds like it takes about 20minutes to get out of the city and judging by the terrain there are quite a few rollers to make the rides interesting. There are also a couple mtn trails in the area and lots of bike lanes throughout the town.
I was directed to a shop down the street and saw this:
I was rather impressed considering that the store isn’t a Giant dealership and it was rocking a Jalabert poster! The town of Gainesville reminded me a lot of Madison without all the government buildings. It also was a lot nicer weather wise! Heck, it was a few days before Thanksgiving and we were walking around in light sweatshirts in the mild 65degree weather!
Florida was a ton of fun. It was great seeing the family and getting to spend time with them.
I also got to take Sarah to a southern institution:
Sarah and I have been in Florida for a few days now. It has been a ton of fun. Yesterday we went to play some mini-golf and tool around “Florida’s Nature Coast.” I love looking at the ocean it really reminds me of Rhode Island. The best part about this area of Florida is that it isn’t Miami! There are hills and smiling people! Today we are heading into St. Petersburg to visit my brother. He is in his Junior year at Eckard College which looks like a fancy place on the ol’ google maps.
Oh, we are getting a new car. The problem is when are we going to be able to buy it?
Here is our schedule over the next few days:
Wednesday November 25th: Return in the evening.
Thursday November 26th: Thanksgiving.
Friday November 27th-Sunday November 29th: Jingle Cross (Iowa City, IA)
Monday November 30th: Return to work/Sarah class
Tuesday December 1st: Sarah class
Car buying is stressful enough, but now we are relying on my generous folks to help us out until we can get out to the dealership and look around (however, I am getting to do some internet research which is helping narrow down the cars on our biased, stupid and obsolete list).
It has been a busy few weeks here in our cozy one-bedroom apartment:
VeloCX was a huge success with 207 riders taking part.
The Shimano Minnesota State Cyclocross Championships were an even bigger success with a total 499 different riders taking part in a race over the weekend. This meant that the organizers, Jugganaut Promotions are able to donate a check of $5,000 to the City of Crystal Parks and Recreation department earmarked for youth programs.
I finished student teaching. It was a great experience. I still have some homework to do for my once a week class the accompanies the program, but for the most part I am done with my licensing program.
On Friday afternoon Sarah and I will be getting on a plane to Florida. We are going to visit my dad and step-mom. It should be a fun time. They live just outside of Tampa and I can’t wait for the wonderful weather and to be able to hang out on the beach. Capping it all off is the fact that Sarah and I will be heading up to Gainesville on Tuesday. Since the University of Florida is on the “list” we thought it would be nice to take a look at a place that we may reside in for a few years. The best part is that Sarah was able to arrange for an appointment with a professor in the English program.
This past weekend was awesome and amazing. I couldn’t be happier, but I must say that Smithers has me rolling on the floor with this amazing video he made about the experiences that the promoters/registrars and volunteers get from people all rolled into one. If you go to a bike race that is run by volunteers take a moment to watch this video and see the crap that we get:
Three years ago Sarah and I moved back from Chicago. My goal was to become a teacher. I had to first finish up my undergraduate degree which took a year and a half. I then immediately went into a teaching program full-time. In a little over a year and a half I have finally completed my goal and have successfully finished student teaching.
I couldn’t be happier.
I come from an amazing family of teachers.
As my role model, mentor and inspiration would say on 47 Dean Avenue in Johnston, Rhode Island:
This coming weekend is the Shimano Minnesota State Cyclocross Championship Weekend. I am working with a few others in promoting the event and I really believe it is going to be a top notch event for bicyclists from around the Midwest. We have over 200 racers pre-registered which is unheard of for an amateur cycling event that is part of the MCF.
As you can imagine I am awfully excited for the big weekend. However, I am little perplexed in the turnout in the number of registrants for the Women’s 1/2/3 event. In determining the schedule and prizelist I suggested that we do all we could to give the ladies their own race at the State Championships (Saturday) and a fair amount of money in the Omnium and at the GP Zac Daab (Sunday). We put over $1000 into these fields, and offer up 7 deep. Now, with only 9 women registered at the time of this post I am worried that it won’t be feasible in the future to offer up the prize money and solo fields. What can I say? I want to help grow the womens fields and I think we are helping do that, but to set aside a course for 45minutes for just 9-15 racers?
I started up an indoor soccer team with a few friends of mine at the National Sports Center. The first game was on Tuesday night and we won 5-3. I am the goalie for the team and I played fairly well since I only let in one goal between my legs. My teammates did the rest for me by scoring some pretty sweet goals.
218 of my closest friends showed up on a beautiful fall day at the National Sports Center velodrome for the 3rd annual VeloCX presented by Behind-Bars Bicycle Shop. The weather definitely helped get the record number to the event, but I still believe we would have been close to 200 racers on a colder day. Of the 218 racers we had 18 take out one-day licenses and we had almost 20 kids toe the line in the kids race as they scrambled to take on the barriers and smile for the HUGE crowd that had just got done watching Marko Lalonde destroy the field in the inaugural Midwest Singlespeed Cyclocross Championships.
The expo area proved to be a highlight as many of sponsors showed up to hand out and keep the buzz alive. Behind-Bars was there serving up some tasty and free Rush River beer. We had some Hebrew National hot dogs on the grill along with some Vegan dogs for the rabbit food eaters. Tom Hagerty was there serving up some massages for racers and spectators alike. The ladies of the velodrome sold a ton of baked goods for their development fund. Kurt Kinetic had some trainers on display and Owater kicked down a ton of free water for all the spectators and racers.
We also had this thing that proved to be the most popular among the parents and kids:
(Photo Jeremy Norton)
The reason most people showed up (besides just for the expo, free food and beer, bouncy thing and the awesome weather) was to race their bike. The fields were all of good size and the multiple fields allowed for a manageable group on the technical circuit. The National Sports Center really helped us out by allowing us to add to the course increasing the size from 1.76 km to 2.36km. This meant the lap times were dramatically increased and the number of folks getting lapped was minimal.
The big race on the docket was the inaugural Midwest Singlespeed Cyclocross Championships. We had quite the field showing up for the race today with Marko and James Lalonde traveling from Madison and Brian Eppen making an appearance from Iowa. Marko eventually would win the race by a minute over Eppen as the younger Lalonde had a mechanical on the first lap. Over 30 racers toed the line in the singlespeed event and an impressive 3rd place finish by Dan Casper rounded out the top steps of the podium. Casper would then go on to get 3rd in the Cat1/2 race finishing just behind Dave Hackworthy and Dewey Dickey.
It was a great day to race and an even better day to be associated with my team. Yet, most importantly, thanks to Sarah for putting up with the madness in our small apartment over the past few weeks as I have been trying to get all the ducks in a row with my teammates. In the end, it was a huge success and we even added a few LGR touches to the podium presentations complete with a 50lb bag of sand for the winner of the Cat4 race!
This is Dan Strese. He just started racing this year in cyclocross and quickly becoming one of the fastest out there. He is a great sport and he happily took home his Kurt Kinetic power computer and a nice sandbag!
There is a great slide show of the festivities here.
Here is one of my favorite photos of the day during the kids race!
Thanks to Justin Coyne for the photographs and the amazing custom trophies for the winners of the Singlespeed Championships!
1st) Sarah and I were able to sleep in an extra hour before getting up. Nothing better than waking up the day DST goes into effect and seeing that 7am is the new 8am.
2nd) I had a good race at the Fridley Fall Back promoted by the Crossniacs. I was really hoping for a good result to keep my confidence up after a few weeks of dismal results and mechanicals. I was able to have a great start (unlike Saturday) and entered the pinwheel circus feature in about 5th wheel. I kept my elbows out and held on tooth and nail for the wheel in front of me and worked hard on the first lap to separate myself from the others. I was sitting about 10th place after the first lap and faded a little bit down to about 17th place before recovering and gaining back 3 positions over the next few laps to take a 14th place.
Although I didn’t get in the top 10 I did feel good and I think I should be able to get there once again by the end of the year. It was a tough race with a few nasty features, but I was very stoked with my performance. I am a lot faster than I was last year and I believe that one of these days I will be able to be a consistent top10 racer.
3rd) I got to go to the Sweetwater and take in the Chivas USA / LA Galaxy game. Sure, almost 99% of Minnesotan’s were watching an important game of throwball, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch these two teams battle each other in the playoffs for the first time in history. The game didn’t disappoint with a 2-2 draw.
4th) We finally got the Little Guy Racing website up and running again. The domain lapsed on us, but we got it back and now the flyer is available for all to see. I must admit that it has been very hectic the past few days as we prepare for the 3rd annual event at the National Sports Center Velodrome. We are working hard to make this the best VeloCX yet, and with the $900 prize list and sweet merchandise we are going all out to make it a great time for everyone.
The highlight of the race is the 2009 Midwest Singlespeed Cyclocross Championships. Racers will be fighting for over $500 in prize money and we are expecting the best field to race in Minnesota in years. Both Marko & James LaLonde (Planet Bike) are coming. Brian Eppen (Mercy) is coming up from Iowa and Dan Casper (Grandstay) has been been training hard. Topping it all off is the expected appearance of Ezra Taylor (Peacock Groove) and Dave Meyer (Freewheel). That means 3 of the top 5 finishers from the SingleSpeed Nationals will be in attendance AND the past two winners!