Sunday, August 31, 2008

Elves and More Greenford Road Race. whoa!!

Northern Ohio seems to be a hot bed for great clubs putting on great races. The newest on the block is the Greenford Road Race put on by Dan Quinlan and the Elves and More Charity race team.

For a first year race it did pretty well on attendance, but i bet with an earlier date and 2nd year status and a lot of happy racers spreading the good word it will be like Shreve and grow and grow. Its also for a good cause as well.

Ive been thinking about this race for awhile now. I was excited because of the climbing*, but a bit scared because though I am a Cat.2, I dont race very long road races. So at a reported 64 miles and 3900' of climbing over 8, yes 8 laps, it was going to be a test for sure.
*it was more gradual long grades, all in the big ring and all done fast!!

It all started with my Team Columbus Team mate Brian Batke locking himself out of his car. A AAA guy came and sorted him out, but left him with virtually n time for a warm-up. So I didnt attack early and when people did jump I was quick to jump on board till Brian was good and ready. Dan Quinlan was sending off some early warning shots and when Brian started to cover them I knew he was ready.

Cioccio took off and Batke covered it. It was my turn to cover the next move, but poorly positioned and a bit gassed I let Chris go, but Brian didnt. They got a decent gap that came and went. I covered everything that seemed a threat to bring it back, but I did not race negatively, but I do think I snuffed out the will of the pack to chase. Eventually they tired and were brought back. I am not 100% sure, but I think we were 3 laps in now and I countered there move I think on the rollers on, appropriately enough Roller Road and held the gap for a couple miles when I was reeled in.

But I was only joined by 4 other guys including Ryan form Virginia Pro cycling (very tall, VERY strong rider Ive never seen before), Jake Lifson from Indiana Medical, Dan Quinlan of Elves and More and of course Brian Batke. Long story short the next 3 laps were hard. Fast pace (25mph) rotating paceline that never relented, even in the feed zone. I was sucking down goo and eating a bit of energy bar quite often.

I was in my deep aero position in the drops for so long my triceps and neck were aching to go along with my tired legs and back. I had to stay like this because it was a windy (and sunny and warm) day. Especially going North on Lisbon. Headwind all the way.This was a hard break and I was glad we had 5 guys. Rotating this hard with only 2 others would have been a LOT worse.

3 laps to go and I am thinking about one more attack or raised pace and I'll never make it another 24 miles. But I survive lap 6 and 7 with the same pep talks to myself. Just hang on, go till you cannot go anymore. And when Ryan who had been pulling through harder than anyone all race long and pulling us 440 watts up the climb on W. Middletown Road attacked and took Brian with him I tried to play good team mate, but Jake Lifson lit it up on the descent coming up to the tight downhill corner onto Roller Rd. and brought us back.

We went through the feed zone and for the first time no one seemed interested in racing their bikes anymore so I pulled through and got the paceline going again. But my pulling through was getting weaker by the lap. I was so close to being dropped on the 7th lap I warned Batke to not get stuck behind me if I went pop.

When we made it a ways down Washingtonville Rd. there is the longest grade. Not steep, definately big chainring, but hard enough, especially after 7 laps. This is where I believe Rudy Sroka attacked ot break up the Masters race. I didnt want anyone to attack Brian yet so after I had rotated off the front and the pace had seemed to die I rolled off the front from 3rd wheel only hoping to disrupt attacks and put everyone but Brian on the defensive.

But this is where it got strange. I roll off dont hit any high wattage or even stand up, but a minute later the 4 guys are a speck behind me. I roll down to Roller rd and expect the worst from my legs, but I run a high cadence to try and save my legs, but still try to push hard on the pedals down hills or up when need be. I am so paranoid I keep looking back ,looking back. I mean I am so fried and not having thought about holding a gap to the line I am really in hurtsville.

I make it to the final two rollers on Roller Rd. and the steep little climb before turning right onto Lisbon for the maybe 2 mile stretch to the line. I can see way behind me the whole time and still no one. Is this for real? I see the 1km sign and I finally allow myself to start to really back off.

I finally make it to the line and I yell as I cannot believe my good fortune and the level of effort physicaly and mentally it took just to finish, but to win!?!?! NO WAY this just happened, but it did. As soon as I rolled to and past the finish line I wanted to fall over in the grass in the fetal position till all the pain went away!! And I was in a lot of pain.

So what do I do? What any amateur racer does, I rode up the road to the water bottle I tossed a few laps ago so I wouldnt forget to pick it up!! Thats how I roll baby. Cheaply!!

And even though we were all marking Ryan as the threat due to how well he ripped our legs off all day (is he a Cat.1 or semi-pro?), Brian got away too and rolled in for 2nd. Yessiree a Team Columbus 1-2!! Can Idedicate a win? I'd like to dedicate this one to Tris and his new baby girl!! YOu would have savored the suffering today, but alas we had to do it without you. Brian and I did think about you as we cooled down.

So that's how it went yesterday. And this closes my road racing Calender I believe for 2008.

And what a Year its been. Starting with tearing my MCL in February cross country skiing and barely training for a month. I rode pretty aggressively at Malabar farms on barely any training. I won a few Time Trials (2nd and 3rd at others) including my age group at States, went to Masters TT Nationals where I was only 15th in my AG (46th/200 men overall), but without a doubt had my best TT performance ever!! I got upgraded to Cat.2 (a lifelong dream) and backed that upgrade up with 3 road race wins. And in almost every race where I either podiumed or had a field finish I tried very hard to play my part in getting Tris or Brian a win or podium as well. And they definitely played a huge part in all my wins. I even won a Biathlon (374 entries)last week. Thanks again to my great team mates and to my great coach. Its been one heck of a year.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ohh, I forgot about that part!!

I rode my Cyclocross bike on and off today. Alternating from easy riding to hard sprints across gravel parking lots and grassy and hard packed paths by work and also around the Shaker lakes not far from my house. I had fun hopping curbs and bunnyhopping over uneven concrete sections and riding through some pretty rocky or rutted areas. Hey, I bunny hopped pretty high that time. Unclip, dismount and run?? OH dear-I'm afraid of falling (and hurting my left knee again) on my ass splayed all over the ground with my bike on top and laughing truck drivers and truck repair mechanics...oh no better wait to practice those on grass and in private!!

Thinking about last cross season you remember, at least in a glorified way about the suffering, the pain, the mud and ice and slush and the good and bad finishes. The filthy bike and rusty chains too.

You especially recall snapshots or mental short films like the funny moments when 4 guys are trying to get your one shoe off or the epic battles like Zak Dieringer and I at Orrville. Or that ridiculous hill at Spin's Cross your Heart. Everyone remembers that hill. And talking about that hill and how some guys got to the top that morning and like your first time downhill skiing you werent sure how you were going get the courage to get back down the hill after getting to the top.

You remember the Shawn Adams and Ernestos and Paul Martins disappearing from view in the first lap only to be seen again when your getting lapped, or charging the whole race to not get lapped. Thats it the effort, thats what cross is all about. The one hour or 45 minutes of excruciating suffering. The lactic acid buildup that you often feel when a road race or criterium starts to get good and fast, only this is non stop. If your in first or last its there. King for the day or pack fodder, your in pain till the end. But now you feel it in your back, your thighs, knees, wrists and your arms. Everything from your eyesockets full of mud and sand to your frozen and bruised toes cries for the sound of that glorious bell lap because your so tired.

Bells? Oh glorious cowbells and horns and screaming family members or racers who are about to race or have finished lining the course and sticking it out in the cold and rain or snow to yell and show there love for the sport and anyone brave enough to partake. Your cheered on and it gives you energy for one more lap.

But, but , but the one thing you forget till your first ride on those knobby 32c tires on skinny 700c rims and rigid forks and super stiff made for speed frames is the unbelievable punishment transmitted through the pedals and handlebars. And as you race across those fields full of gusto and all of your acquired road fitness from a summer of battling on black smooth strips of tarmac is the seemingly uncontrollable and erratic movement of the bike under you, the wheels bounding and stepping out a couple inches each way and the steering going light, then heavy as you sprint across the grass with all of the hidden little or big holes and hard lumps and hidden roots. YOu imagine yourself pitched high over the bars like a flying squirrel till splat, face plant, spread eagle and hands over your head.

Oh my goodness, I think to myself, I enjoyed this? This mayhem and crazed bike riding? The huge effort that leads to such a slow terminal velocity? Like running away form the boogie man in one of your nightmares? Why didnt my brain warn me? Its only been 8 months, has it forgotten or...???

But thats it, you want more of it and you cannot wait to do it again. Maybe your primitive brain likes it too and knows to get you back you have to forget a few things till your sucked back in for good or at least till January. And the after that, whats there to look forward to base miles?? OH yeah, base miles at slow pace, fingers and toes freezing, sit bones numb and sore and 6 layers and frozen water bottles...See I already forgot about that. Good job brain.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Introducing Audrey Hopkins Everyone!!

Hey all,

Born yesterday morning (August 27th) was a little girl to racer extraordinaire Henry "Tris" Hopkins!!

Audrey Kaye Hopkins
Born at 8:09 am, 27-Aug-2008
8lbs, 15oz, 20.5"

Mother Sharon, daughter Audrey (and dad) all doing great.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cyclo cross is coming.Thank you is not enough

I had originally planned on having Zak Dieringer make me my own line of Cyclo cross frames to sell. I had some pretty cool ideas (nothing revolutionary, but cool), but I got stuck when I inquired of the type of custom steel tubesets I needed to make this dream a reality I realized I didnt have the economies of scale to make this a reality. one off tubesets arent a dime a dozen as you can expect.

One thing lead to another and I had Zak build me a Cross frame anyhow using Dedacciai main tubeset and his choice of Columbus stays with some custom bends. The one idea I contributed was my rear brake cable stop that eliminated some brake cable housing and heavier cable stops and bridges. Less weight and less friction was my goal. OH and to look cool too.

The frame ended up very light for a standard steel frame. 1759 grams including the seat collar and 27.2 aluminum insert for the seatpost.

As you can see it came out gorgeous and the TIG wleding by Zak is really nice and clean. Although the Spectrum powder coat is first rate, they didnt even come close to the color I wanted. How far off well imagine a burnt orange metallic and getting a purple that looks orangy brown in the dark. Yeah that bad. But I like the color just fine so it wasn't worth sending it back in this case. if it were a road bike I would have, but as a cross bike I thought it would actually look great covered with mud!

Now here is where the Thank is not enough part comes in!! I didnt really have the funds for a project like this so Thom let me borrow his build kit from his Fixie/SS project hopefully coming in the late fall. Thank you td and Zak for helping me out.
Wanna see it? I bet you do!! Well here it is...

Now a lot have asked me why I am doing a SS this year when more speeds make you faster. Well, I have my reasons and they are no secret. I'll try and cover why later. I think they are good reasons!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Valley City Race Pictures

Tris and Eric on an Epic 44 mile breakaway

Seems like Team Columbus has been doing these LONG breaks all year. Its so unbelievably tough, but so worthwhile when it ends in a W!!

I brought us back to 4th on the road

I left it too late to bridge solo to the 3rd and 4th place break. Stupid of me!! I mistakenly thought someone else would bring it back...silly me. lol But I brought us back to fight for 4th through town and the fun twsisties out of town before I bailed on the sprint about 200 meters after this shot. And-do you see any hair under that helmet?!?!?! I might need to spend some time with a fine tip Sharpie!!

These pictures courtesy of Rick Adams. Great pics!!

and thank you so much to Snake Bite racing for a great race. Last year I worked the top of the Lester Hill. It was a lot more fun racing it!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Valley City Masters and JCB Biathlon-quickie post

Tris Hopkins Wins the Valley City 35+ Masters Championship in a 2 man 44 mile breakaway with Eric Lesco of Stark Velo. I (and Team Lake Effect and Stark Velo) raced hard from the start finish line on lap 1 to make it possible for Tris and Eric to launch there move. I sat up when they launched then jumped on every bridge move for the next lap. Then once they were out of sight after 2 laps i tried launching one attack after another, but the Masters were too tough and chased everything down. Thanks to Brett Davis (Solon), Pete Scacheri (Snake Bite) and the ever aggressive and fun to race with John Lowry (Stark Velo) for trying so hard to break up the race. and Spin was very active all day with Tom Humprhey in my mind showing some great legs. I could have sat in ALL day with my first biathlon ever the next morning at 8:30am, but I ahd this odd revelation mid race that I could get a flat coming out of the parking lot of the Biathlon so I tried hard in the race. But it was all for not as I sat-up after topping the last climb on the front. I was toast and didnt want to do another dead leg sprint.

Sunday in the JCB Biathlon several hundred people lined up for the popular Eastside event. I finished the 3 mile run top 20 in 19:50 and the bike in 29:47 for the rolling 12.9mi TT course. The lasting vision from the run was making the 180 on Belvoir at Silsby and seeing how many runners there were!! Literally a mile long line of runners, Wow!! My legs felt great (after 2 touch and go miles) and I hammered it hard on the bike. Sadly Rudy Sroka who started the bike leg 30 or 40 seconds faster went off course mid way so who knows who would have won. I was catching everybody on the bike, but catching Rudy and passing him are two totally different things. I did it in 51 minutes total which is about what the winning time was in 2007 on the same course.

A great weekend where I had super, great legs in both bike races and a personal best run. I may have even run the first mile in 6:15 or so, though thats just a guess. And Tris won Saturday which feels as good as a win for myself and then in my first Biathlon I win!! Wow, what a summer of racing its been for me!!

Also, Robert Sroka and Chris Martino won the Relay (Robert's 13), Gary Burkholder and Mike Vanucci were 1,2 and Rudy was 1st in age group and Christina Vanncci repeated as overall female champion!! Great job!!

Thank you to Sean Gilbert for the great coaching and motivation on the bike and especially now the running. Two more road races (one road , one TT)then its Cross time!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Got a serious butt-whooping tonight and liked it.

So you can dish it out, but can you hack it too? I was invited to do the 2-man Spin Time Trial called the Two headed beast on the very bumpy and windy Marginal tonight. Thanks Thom for inviting me again.

The format I THINK was an internal battle between Spin's Multisport guys and the Roadies. A 2-man TT with mostly random (and two dream teams, one multisport, one roadies) pairings which I thought sounded like fun.

I was paired with young track racer and road racer Mitch Gable. He showed up in skinsuit, aero helmet and bars. I was on my trusty Dale with no aero stuff, except my wheels. I only bring that Minor point up so that I have an please.

We took off and the last thing I said was catch everyone we can see!! Very mistakingly thinking i would push the pace tonight I asked Mitch to take us out at whatever pace he felt comfortable with. The course ran along North marginal going east to 55th do a U-turn and back to 9th street and do another U-turn. Two 5 mile laps.

Well if youd say I couldnt even stay on Mitch's wheel, maybe pulled once or twice in the first 2.5 miles to the first turnaround and averaged 5.4 w/kg (349 watts) is me being the stronger youd be very mistaken. Mitch (and I following him) averaged 23.8 on the headwind out leg and with the tailwind I was able to finally take some 30 to 32mph pulls and we averaged 27.3 on the way back for lap1.

Lap2 on the way out Mitch again pulled most of the way and had to slow down for me!! Ouch, thats brutal on the pride, but he rode awesome and I was his team mate tonight so who's complaining. On the way back in I took my one or two pulls then faded and again Mitch had to tow me home yelling encouragemenmts like "are you ready-we got to hammer it home now", "Lets go, were running on adrenaline now". I was like "hammer it home with what?? I am done, toast, Finito!!"

Man, you got to know how badly I was hurting and he was again slowing down to not leave me behind. We did pass a few teams and we finished strong averaging 28.3 on the way in the last time and 29.4 the last mile or so and sprinting to the line. I definitely left it all on the Marginal.

Results? We won by a tenth of a mph and thats a win I think for the roadies (and trackies?)!! I am thinking to myself man I wish I brought my TT bike and helmet, but it wouldnt have changed the fact of how strong Mitch rode-Great job and yes, I can hack it! It hurt, but I took it and am glad for it.

Thanks Spin!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

1990's Revco Cleveland Criterium

Heres a blast from the past. hey, looking at the legs and ankles it looks like my seat was at a pretty good height on that 54cm Trek 2400.

Its fun to see the old pictures!! And yeah-I still wear that Skinsuit on occasion!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leroy TT, Arrgghh, Too much information

What a great night and weather for a Time Trial at Jim Behrens Thursday nighter. Thank you Jim for putting it on.

I had a bit of an odd week. Mostly running and no biking except for some fun riding with Audrey on Tuesday. I didnt commute Wednesday as planned (totally wussed on the weather and then it did not rain)so I hadnt ridden my bikes with any force since Sunday's Milk Race. In case your wondering....I won it and I am still just in shock about it. Opportunity knocked and I answered. I feel like screaming a wild tribal scream...

OK ,back to reality. So I try for a longer warm-up and I hit some 2 minute intervals and do my usual power checks to see what wattage it takes in a few key places (after the turn, down the hill and the final 2 miles).

I am also gathering power data so I am running my disc covers on my PT wheel. I had gone 16:58 earlier in the year without covers so this was a good test of speed of covers vs no covers.

I also narrowed up my bars and that was a big success I'd say. I had no problems riding a straight line and breathing felt the same as always.

We lined up Rudy first then myself and then Batke (howd he end up behind me?), I was a speed demon sandwich. Great turnout too. Looked like more than 10 to me. Only one problem, I got to the line and I had forgotten to tape over the wattage. I hate pacing on watts. I think it makes me slower and more tired at the end of the race. Everyones different, but I always have gone quicker without seeing the power in real time.

Jim said dont look at it, but I knew I would as it was also a goal tonight. My other big change for tonight was to intentionally make cadence my #1 focus of the event. More than speed or a result. It is a practice TT!! I had let my cadence drop (probably due to a few factors (position, longer cranks, etc.) to scary low levels at PI and States and got it better for Nats. Today was a big test of that and to feel if it was faster than slogging that 53/11 at 80 cadence.

I wont bore with too many more details, but suffice it to say that I was just bombarded with info and it was hard to actually concentrate on just going fast. While trying not to look down the whole race I was seeing and analyzing speed, cadence, power and also trying to time rough splits to Rudy ahead and Batke behind and also check my halfway split and in the last 2 miles my overall time to see what time I was going to turn (as a motivator to push that little extra bit).

I was a busy little bee!!

So anytime I saw my cadence dropped into the 80's I would first try to pick it back up or if the road was gradually going up at the same time I went for an easier gear then watched speed to make sure I didnt lose any speed and in fact tried to increase speed. Quick check of wattage too. Always way too low.

And that darn wattage. I looked at it and since a sub goal was to set the highest wattage I could over the course of the race I was constantly looking at the wattage. I was not surprised to see wattage drop dramatically anytime I was going 30+Mph and slightly downhill. I was not maximizing my speed and wattage when it was so called "easy". Just a quiick side, last Wednesday I set a PB 10 miinute ave power of 323 watts. Tonight my best 10 min average was 292. Big difference, but those higher numbers were set on my road bike. I was very tired too when I set that 323 watt average too.

As another side, like others I think going into timed events cold or well rested without stress is BAD. YOu need some stress pre-race. Those open up rides are so important.

My legs felt pretty fast actually, but a bit flat too. I pushed hard the last 2 miles and averaged 29.1mph and came in with a 16:54, missing my PB of 16:52 from last year. For some reason I am beating my personal bests everywhere but Leroy. And its not because I am putting any extra pressure on myself. I put plenty on myself ALL the time!!

My cadence was up so hooray, I went 4 seconds quicker with similar power with the narrower bars and wheel covers from a couple months ago. And my initial thoughts is that I am going the right direction with the substantial increase in cadence vs the spring. It seems easier to maintain speed at times like when you face an obstacle like a short grade or a gust of wind or out of a corner.

Only bummer was it was perfect conditions and my recent race and training rides indicate I am putting out gobs more power than a coupe months ago. But thats OK. I still averaged 27.1mph. Brian Batke had FTD at 16:17!!

Beer, Benefit, Barriers, Brrrrr, Bret and Beer

Brett Davis has revived his Chagrin Cyclocross race with a Halloween theme. It is now a part of the Lake Effect series as well.

and yes I said Beer twice!!

Junior podiums nationals

Way to go Drew Bercaw!! Top 3 at Junior 13-14 National Championships!!

13-14 men

1 John Funk (GP Velotek) 32.27
2 Dominic Galenti Iv (SC Velo)
3 Drew Bercaw (One Call Now)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Still running, from what I dont know.

Man I hate to say it, but I think running has made me a bit stronger bicycle rider. I feel like it has also chnaged the way my body recovers form efforts and I think instead of making recovery worse, it has made it faster.

So lately I have been running 3 to 5 miles on MOnday, Intervals Tuesday (usually commuting)a hammerfest hill ride on Wednesday for 50 miles, run 20 to 40 minutes Thursday, Friday off, Saturday pre-race ride with a variety of intervals and road race Sunday.

Thats quite a week if you ask me. I go from tired and running well on Monday to riding well, but with tired legs to Wednesday and resetting power numbers every week to exhausted Thursday and running decent, exhausted Friday and then really bad legs Saturday to good legs by the end of the intervals and racing Sunday.

But theres been other fun things ot running. It has allowed me to exercise with my daughter Audrey. Shes such a nut to hang out with and talk to. Shes not always happy about riding her bike while I run, but she usually caves and we have a good old time.

Heres a pic of her on her scooter. She does more tricks on it than I thought was possible. She pops wheelies and can do a ballet of moves on it with her friends.
helmet went on soon after
And in case the picture loks a bit strange-shes catching some big air under those tiny wheels. Check out her wheelie!!

Time for wheelie bars
Anyways,I digress. Running is going well and this weekend I'll do my first race pace run since the Richmond 5k and then follow it up with a hard ride on my TT bike. Then its the double weekend of Valley City then the JCB BIathlon. And dare I admit it, I am looking for another Bi/Duathlon or even 5k to close the season off.

Thank goodness the recovery has really been good because I'll need it Saturday night between those two races.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Orrville Milk Race

Darn it, I thought I'd be cute and have the title Got Milk? and take a picture of my mug with the milky lips.. but alas I received an email from a friend this morning and he already used the catchy phrase....bummer.

I wondered pre-race how it would play out without some new cat.1's not in the field (Brian Batke and Dan Quinlan)this year. As the 30 or 40 of us rolled out it became clear that the aggression level compared to 2007 (the hardest first lap of any race that year) was a 1 vs a 9.5. Matt Weeks of Team Lake Effect rode up my right and said "wanna Go?" I said dully "no way, its too early".

My brain slowly munched on that thought for a few seconds. I thought that this race needs lit up and too long has the early aggression come form others like team mates Tris Hopkins and Brian Batke. I felt fine so I said back to Matt "what the hell, this is boring, lets go".

We were brought back quickly, but it did raise the pace for awhile. Later after pulling through I kept going as again my legs felt great at high speed and I rolled away with Rudy Sroka this time. But alas and with an unlikely rider on the front of the main field we were pulled in.

Eventually I think on the 3rd lap Rudy had been off for quite some time solo and no one interested in chasing when a group containing Eric Lesko (Stark Velo), Dave Steiner (Snake Bite) and team mate Tris got up the road and caught Rudy.

They immediately formed into a well working group and they held the gap to us for the next 20 to 25 miles. It would be very, very wrong to say that the race became boring at this point, but for me I was surfing wheels at the front end of the pack and the speed was kept surprisingly fast the entire time. No team or person in particular would or could take charge of the group to draw them back. A few attacks went up the road to try and bridge solo and Dave Chernosky (RGF) used his lightning sprint to jump the field. I didnt bother to go since I wouldnt be able to match the acceleration and would have just brought the field up with us.

I wasnt happy that I let the best sprinter in the race into the break wihtout chasing, but again I didnt have the posotion or speed to match Dave. There were a lot of UPMC, Chris Connelly (riding strong, but solo), Pro graphics, Trizilla and later Echelon riders finally pitching in with the chase. The most excitement came with repeated attempts by Andys Burns of COBC (National Engineering). Everytime he jumped I jumped and man can he jump. Same with a Trizilla rider who also was helping in the chase and also trying to bridge. In other words I chased down almost everything I saw as a legitimate threat to the breakaway then sat on.

I am sure by doing so I dulled the attacks, but also drew us closer to the break. Its like walking the knife edge on these things. You got to be there to bring more numbers into the break, especially if you get a free ride but you dont want to nullify a good break either.

Eventually on the bell lap as we went down the start finish straight the gap had closed to 200m or so and I jumped with everything i had at the moment and caught the break who were all looking very tired and went to the front. I pulled off and Tris told me to pull with everything i had. But guys were catching the break in ones and twos anyways.

Out of one of the corners I only meant to pull us hard, but i found myself pulling away from the group solo. I felt great and figured what the heck, its the last lap I'll try. Eric Lesko made it up to me and a Trizilla rider as well. I thought as hard as we were all pulling that we had jumped the break and the field, but we too were caught.

I faded to the back of the much smaller main field, but not before I almost went right in a left hand corner while leading the pack!! I heard guys yelling "Ray, Left!!" We rolled around as a group till we got on the descent that leads to the only significant hill on the course. I made sure to move from tail gunner all the way up and thankfully the pace up the hill the last time was also the most steady. I was contemplating a hard charge over the top, especially because I would top the hill this time with legs, unlike all the other laps where someone attacked up it every lap.

But the decision had been made for me when I saw Tris moving past me quite quickly out of the saddle on the left and his 25 mile breakaway companion Rudy Sroka right on his wheel. To make sure I didnt pull the field I jumped really hard and made it onto their wheels and the three of us started pulling through and we kept that up all the way around the last half of the lap. I tried to pull the longest and hardest and fastest because I knew they had already been in breaks, but thats not to say that they werent pulling hard and long too. Everyone of us suffered!!

Looking back we saw that we had gotten the gap. I think that all of the guys who should have or could have gone with us were either taken by surprise by Tris'attack on the hill or were tired from missing the original break and having to chase for an hour.

Anyways, we didn't play any games though I am sure we were all thinking about how to play the ending. Rudy, the fastest sprinter in our group against two team mates and me wanting to try and put Tris in position to win. The only thing I could do was I tried to take longer pulls leading up the rollers to the last right hander that is about a quarter mile from the line. A nasty, long uphill sprint awaited out of the corner.

When we rolled through the corner (which was almost blocked by a person in a car who chose to not hear the corner marshal asking him to move forward) I was third. Tris and Rudy slowed and I clicked a gear or two down and took off on the right. It looked like a good move and I stayed out of the saddle for as long as my legs would allow. I had a significant gap over the tired legs of Rudy and Tris. I had to sit back down and try and make it to the line.

I looked back and Rudy was catching me quickly and I looked forward and the line was so far away. Even the driveway that preceded it looked like I would never get to the other side of it where the finish line awaited. I thought about all the pain and how there is no way I can go any faster.
Then I also thought about how this is not the time to give up and I did what I call the dead leg sprint. I stood up and gave it all I had again, feeling at once like a drunk on a bike and that I had found a way to go even slower. Later I saw I picked up my speed a whole whopping 1.2mph.

At this point I didnt dare look back because I couldnt have gone any faster and even thought about throwing my bike just in case. A picture on Robert Sroka's blog shows just how close I came to losing first place. But at least it would have gone to my team mate.

This was again another great Team Columbus showing. Even though we only had 2 in the race we were able to take 1st and 2nd with solid team riding when it counted. Brian raced in the masters race and also took the win. Thanks to the Orrville folks for another great road race and to Tris and Rudy for being the studs you are and making the break happen and making it work.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thank you Gates Mills Police Officer

We were pulled over by a Gates Mills' officer yesterday for breaking the local ordinance of riding single file down Chagrin River Road. We were informed that two calls about our group had already been called into the police by aggravated motorists and that Gates Mills police were going to start cracking down and giving out tickets.

What I First got a kick out of was the officer turned on his lights, pulled ahead of us and then pulled over. We all started to brake and pull over and yet he still felt he had to yell at us to stop as if we were going to try and run like Ricardo Ricco. I hate to break it to the man, but bicycles dont stop as fast as cars. I thought slamming on brakes, locking up tires and crashing into each other would be considered reckless operation?

The rest went smoothly, he was polite if not a bit misguided and arrogant. I said, prefacing that I am not arguing with him that cyclists do rotate the line so there will be times that we will be riding side by side or it will appear that way from behind.

Now what are the chnaces that the drivers calling inot the police were speeding and talking on their cell phones instead of paying attention ott he road?

I could go on for pages and pages of all the things the gates Mills Police shold be doing to protect us, but as we all know form the police and media bias against cyclists, we bring it all on ourselves!!

Thats why when were riding single file as close to the right edge as possible we always get passed by cars going way in excess of the speed limit while a car is coming in the opposite direction at the exact same time.

Maybe its time to plug all the Police stations numbers in our cell phones, wear ear buds and start calling in EVERY SINGLE CAR that buzzes, yells profanity (like the passenger in the gold Chevy Suburban who yelled Loser at us) and basically puts our lives in mortal danger.

Boy, that would be a lot of calls (and a lot of cyclists not paying attention to the road). But what the hell, obviously car drivers are allowed to do it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Squeeky Mouse

Whos bike was making that awful squeak at Westlake? That my friends was me. But theres more to this tale and something to be learned.

I cleaned my chain in my wash tank at work, but when the first two washings turned the wash solution black I quickly dumped the can. Well in so doing I washed a link and a roller inot the abyss of the bottom of the tank. Standard procedure is to dump the solution form the tank into the strainer can. One strike!! Thanks Rudy for the parts I

Next I rushed the re-oiling of the chain. I like to be anal and oil every link after any decent cleaning of the chain. But this time no. AFter warming up I kept going back to the van and re-oiling in that haphazard way. Standard procedure is to oil every link!! Strike two!

SO this morning I take apart the rear derailleur as I swear the sounds coming from the jockey wheels. I clean them, put them back on, still squeaking. I email Thom and he says due to the thorough cleaning of the chain, roll the chain slowly and listeend for a squeaky link. Wouldn't you guess it, theres a short section of chain thats squeaking and after oiling each roller my drive train is quiet. Thanks Thom.
The lesson learned? Well its an old saying, but why is there never enough time to do it right the first time, but always enough time to do it over??

So onto Westlake. Basically a night where every move was chased down. I attacked hard a lot, I never got far and I helped bring back attacks by driving the group. I guess that made me part of the chasing problem last night. I dont mean to call it a problem, just that it was not a night for a breakaway and there were a lot of attacks all night. It also slowed down more than usual a few times too. But ave speed was still decent at 26.3 by my computer.

Once I admitted to myself this race is not going to split up I went to the front and Derrick Wilford and I did our best to keep the pace high for the remaining laps. I basically wanted some long, high speed and high wattage intervals to end the night. I fell back when I bailed in the cop turn and let 6 or 7 guys swarm me and was 3/4 of the way back for the mass sprint.

Batke lead it out early to avoid the craziness and the accordion effect moved me up but I wasnt a factor in the sprint. I sprinted just to get that one last hard effort in and called it another night at Westlake. Got the workout I wanted in for sure with loads of attacks, one or two sprints for primes (lost) and the last few laps driving the pace.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Team Columbus Wins ZOAR 1-2-3 Race

What a gorgeous day for a bicycle race. Stark Velo does a great job on this race and they have a great race course. A 10 mile loop with two climbs (one easy and one hard), uphill rolling section and two descents. The decisive last one a 2 mile descent at 31mph+ ave speed into the finish line. Heck even one of the 90 degree corners is a lot of fun being flat out and downhill on the exit onto Schneider's crossing (the 1st descent).

I as well as others had that pre-race buzz as we lined up with some really strong local guys. There was a medium to large contingents from RGF, UPMC, Indiana Medical, Spin, Team Lake Effect and of course Brian Batke, myself and Tris Hopkins of Team Columbus.

of all the races this year this was by far the easiest first lap of the year. With a tough course and lots of strong teams no one wanted to exert or show too much and get shelled on the 2nd climb except Dan Quinlan who went for an early solo flier then after being caught towed us around at an uncomfortable pace. The race finally lit up on the climb. And with memories of being dropped on the 2nd climb on Middle Run Rd. on my mind I tried to maintain good position for the climb. This year I finished the climb in the top 3 every lap and was able to follow accelerations by UPMC, Quinlan and Moskal without any troubles. Oh sure it hurt, but I held wheels is what I mean.

Lap 2 was a lot more exciting with dangerous attacks going up the road. None of which I was in, but Brian and Tris were so I stayed at the front of the group and chased anything that seemed a serious threat to bridge. In fact I spent 90% of the race glued int he top quarter of the field I was so intent on making sure I was a part of the race. One move in particular looked good with Thom Domonic, Batke, Tris, Shawn Adams involved. Finally up Middle Run climb the race blew apart and we were flying down the descent, everyone dutifully taking hard pulls. I had made it up to the split in the field so again we had our entire team in the move.

I believe we got the field down from 29 to about 10 or 12, but after the descent I looked back and 10 more guys had made it back on and so I and others just backed off. Had we split the field permanently at that point the race would have been a lot different.

We backed it off and Brian saw this as a perfect opportunity to take the race into his own hands and with serious form from a successful SpeedWeek in Wisconsin where he placed and won in several races got an enormous gap straight away.

Its in situations like this that you are excited and bummed too. Excited because you want to see your team mates up the road, but bummed that you arent in it and simply cannot be in it. It was the same when I saw Thom and Chris Cioccio fly past me on the left to bridge. If Tris or I had gone on that move it would surely have been brought back. But I know Cioccio and I know Thom and so I thought if they make it to Brian the race is over and Brian would be fine with them. It was a solid move and I let it go rather than doom it by going with them.

But Brian was going so hard that Thom and Chris took forever to bridge. Now heres where the race was really bizarre. With three teams up the road, but 3 or 4 teams well represented still in the field you would think a full on chase would have ensued to bring Batke back. He won the race last year, but this wasnt the case at all. It was an odd race. Really odd. And even when a dangerous bridge attempt went with Rudy and Shawn Adams (both on Lake Effect) got clear, there was no reaction at all. Tris and I didnt really have to do anything at this point because it didnt do to help drag those two men into the break and they would not stand to haul us as baggage I can tell you that.

So eventually Thom and Chris caught Brian, but Chris got popped due to the pace Thom and Brian were setting and he faded back to Rudy and Shawn. At that point Moskal, UPMC and some others lent a hand to bring back those three, but Thom and Brian were sitting on a 50 second advantage.

Most of the next two laps are a bit of a blur with me basically sitting near the front watching the front and Tris doing the same. On the 4th time up the hill I found myself feeling like I had some pretty decent legs so i sprinted over the top to an already flying rider form UPMC and tried to attack the descent with him to draw out a 2nd breakaway, but we were soon caught. We finished descending to the sound of the bell at the start finish line and I was hoping in some way Tris and I could break the field up so we could duke it out for the 8 remaining finishing positions. The field was still too large at around 15 or so guys.

Final gap was given for Brian and Thom at one minute so I knew they had it in the bag with one lap to go. Awesome feeling!! This also meant to me (and Tris) that we were free to start attacking the field. Rudy set a high pace up the first climb and that I am sure put the hurt in a lot of guys legs. I let myself fade back into the middle of the field, but I was not in distress at all. Tris then launched an all out attack, but his move brought an immediate reaction and the field strung out in chase. As we descended Schneider's crossing I reamained about mid pack waiting for an opportunity to attack. We slowed a bit once Tris was back, but we had one more big dip down and I didnt want to attack on a descent or while we were at high speed.

Then the field slowed and started to pack up at the front as we finished the descent and the road flattened just a bit and I took the opportunity and took off. I started to build a decent gap as the road curved towards the corner of Middle Run and made the right onto Middle Run and tried to go hard, but save something for the climb. These late attacks are tough because even if the race wasnt brutal, your still tired, but the speed I was maintaining seemed decent enough. I came up on a road sign and started counting one one thousand, two one thousand. When i got to 15 I looked back and the field wasnt up to the sign yet and I was about to start the lower, easier slope of the climb with the right bend. I gave myself a glimmer of hope that I could do this. 20 seconds on the field to start the climb then 2 miles of downhill to the finish. Just as I had planned for months in my head.

I tried to climb as hard as I thought I could without blowing up on the final pitch. It was really brutal willing my legs to maintain a high cadence and the climb seemed so much longer than the previous 4 times. My lead was shrinking fast as I was told later someone drilled the bottom of the climb to start to close the gap. I sprinted the final steep pitch whihc really, really hurt I can tell you.

I did make it over the top solo and I was in the big ring before I was even over the top and sprinted very briefly into the descent. When I looked back Jeff Braumberger of Inferno had leapt clear of the pack on the climb and we traded off sprint like pulls down the hill. Jeff would pull so hard he would gap me by 10 feet and I clawed my way back, got in front and pulled as hard as I could. He for sure was pulling at 34mph and I was probably a few mph less. We passed this big sign on the right which i had timed to the finish on a previous lap as I calculated how far back I could possibly jump the field and the sign was less than 2:40 from the line. We were getting closer.

But we did get caught and I had to really fight to stay on the back. But my attack lasted 3.5 miles or so and I came within a mile of the line. Not a bad try and I was happy I did it. I did recover quickly and found that the speed of the group (now about 15 or so?) wasnt that bad and I tried to maneuver myself into a position to take a top 10 in the bunch sprint. But I found my brain to be a bit tentative at first because I knew I was pretty hosed and I didnt want to crash in front of the whole field.

I didnt take an opportunity at about 300m to attack up the left because I wasnt sure if the left lane was open yet so I held back, but Tris attacked hard up the right and opened up a nice gap. As we started to go chaotic and bodies were going everywhere I tried to just gut it out, but man there were a lot of riders in front. I held my position and passed a few which told me I should have aggressively moved myself into the top 5 for the sprint, but of course hindsight is always 20/20!!.

In the end Brian took the win, Thom second. Tris got absorbed within sight of the line and he was understandably upset about it after the race. I too did not crack the top 10 in the field sprint and that always makes me mad!! Actually it makes me really, really mad at myself. But Tris and I tried to get a 2nd break going and shatter the field at the end, but we couldnt. I tried to solo in for 3rd (or 4th with Braumberger who would have killed me in the sprint) but we did win the race overall so that made up for most of it. Congrats tot Stark Velo again on another great event and to Brian on a very strong breakaway with Thom and the win.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Power versus Price

I have been making a big deal lately about reseting power numbers. Thats only because I have been trying to reset best power numbers across the board. Anything from max instantaneous power up to about 20 minutes.

Why? Well its two fold. First because my training has been a bit sporadic anyways with weddings, family trips and sometimes being super tired or sore from hard workout blocks or adapting to running. Secondly and more importantly I havent been racing that much so I use training sessions to test myself knowing I am not throwing away race form for testing. if anything its focused my short term intervals and I am giving it all Ive got.

But thats not really the why at all. The real reason is I am thinking about racing some track next year and track is about maximum power output over very short (but painful) distances. I am thinking about the Masters 3000m Pursuit where you race against one person who starts like you from a standing start at opposing ends of the track. If you catch the other rider (unlikely) you win or if you have the fastest time you win and move on to the finals. I am also interested in the kilo known to be the most painful TT in cycling. A 1000m of go till you literally puke.

I must be nuts!! Thats all I can say about that. I find the other mass start track races interesting and fun, but my skinny butts not made for throwing elbows and lightning fast accelerations. As a pro sprinter told me, if you arent comfortable in the pack sprint to throw elbows and push people out of your way and dont have the fast twitch muscles, get the F@$@# out of the way. Youve got other races to win. Sound advice. No wonder I dont make it a priority to travel to big money crits. Why bother.

Now heres where the problem always comes up. I think to do anything properly you should have at least some of the right equipment to do the job. I dont mean bling, but a track disc, aero-pursuit frame (even if a cheap one) and pursuit bars. And possibly not Speedplay pedals or Eggbeaters, but Dura-ace or Look pedals, which means another pair of shoes.... You see how it all snowballs after awhile.

All because I hate the mere idea I am giving up time due to equipment. Especially when racing against the clock. But I am realistic and I know the engine is by far the most important tool I bring to a race. And in that regard my coach Sean Gilbert has been redirecting my training since Nats to producing road racing type power vs. time trial power like in the spring. But in doing so I may theoretically lose some TT speed over 40k, but I gain power to overcome things that hurt me this year, like driving into headwinds.

And by doing so I may actually be faster still. And having coaching is by far the biggest bang for the buck in bicycle racing when you break it all down. My Zipp Sub 9 disc (which I love) is about $1800 and probably gains me a massive 50 seconds in a 40k. But that $1800 is a whole lot of coaching and I am sure thats worth a whole lot more than 50 seconds.

Just some of my usual crazy thoughts running through my head. Ok, now back to thinking about how to earn more money for Audrey's college education, home improvements and did I say a track disc?